A black Muslim, a priest, and an Episcopalian walk into a bar

*wait for it*

…and they are all the same woman.

Meet Ann Holmes Redding:


Until recently, she was a womanist biblical scholar, an Episcopal priest with more than 20 years under her robe, the Director of Faith Formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle—and a convert to Islam.

After Redding publicly professed both Christianity and Islam in June of 2007, she was asked by Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island (who had disciplinary authority over Redding) to take a year off and reflect on her beliefs. In the fall of 2008, a church committee determined that Redding had "abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church by formal admission into a religious body not in communion with the Episcopal Church." Earlier this month, when Redding refused to resign her priesthood and also refused to deny being a Muslim, Wolf "defrocked" (formally deposed) her.

Redding still considers herself both a Christian and a Muslim. In a 2007 interview with The Seattle Times, she addressed what some consider a contradiction:

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim?

But it has drawn other reactions too. Friends generally say they support her, while religious scholars are mixed: Some say that, depending on how one interprets the tenets of the two faiths, it is, indeed, possible to be both. Others consider the two faiths mutually exclusive.

"There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different," said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?"

Christianity has historically regarded Jesus as the son of God and God incarnate, both fully human and fully divine. Muslims, though they regard Jesus as a great prophet, do not see him as divine and do not consider him the son of God.

"I don't think it's possible" to be both, Fredrickson said, just like "you can't be a Republican and a Democrat."

Redding, who will begin teaching the New Testament as a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University this fall, has a different analogy: "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both."

Redding doesn't feel she has to resolve all the contradictions. People within one religion can't even agree on all the details, she said. "So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam?

"At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need."

Its recent schism aside, the Episcopal Church's tradition is one of tolerance and recognition that doubt and questioning can co-exist with faith.  After being raised in other Christian traditions, I joined an Episcopal Church nearly six years ago, in part because it was a place of worship where I didn't have to check my brain at the door. I'm not sure, though, if I can wrap said brain around Ann Holmes Redding's religious duality, nor around her likening this duality to being both black and a woman.

Still...I smell a rat. I don't know if this rat is sexist or racist, or both. But it reeks. Consider:

Redding was deposed not long after a Michigan diocese elected Thew Forrester, a white male lay-ordained Buddhist, as a bishop.  Forrester reportedly denies the divinity of Jesus, has altered the Book of Common Prayer for use in his parish, and considers the Koran sacred. Forrester's consecration will require the consent of a majority of bishops and standing committees within the Episcopal Church over the next several months.

Then there's Bishop John Shelby Spong (also a white male) who denied both the divinity of Jesus and the Virgin Birth. He was allowed to retire on his own in 2000, after 45 years in the priesthood.

So to summarize: You can be gay or Buddhist or not really feeling that whole "Jesus is God" thing...and be an Episcopal priest. But you can't be a Muslim and an Episcopal priest. Or maybe it's that you can't be a black female Muslim and an Episcopal priest?

by Deesha Philyaw
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14 Comments Have Been Posted

Can anyone say...


It really is true that you can't separate your identities; they all effect you in complex, intertwined ways...kudos to Redding for trying to break out of some boxes :)

I admit that the idea of

<p>I admit that the idea of being both Christian and Muslim makes my head hurt a little bit—but the treatment of the other non-traditional, white male priests is hard to ignore! I'd actually really like to take one of her classes to hear her talk about her beliefs.</p><p>PS: I have a friend who was raised Episcopalian and still identifies as such, but it also a Buddhist. Duality seems to run in this faith. </p>

I'm an Episcopalian as well

I'm an Episcopalian as well (confirmed just 2 years ago after being raised in a fundamentalist Christian home) and I've been so proud of how open-minded and tolerant the Episcopal Church is. I'm surprised they reacted this way to Redding and I also smell a big stinky rat. I don't think I could embrace that kind of dual religion thing myself but that doesn't mean I would reject her for doing so--especially, as you pointed out, when certain white men of the church have been allowed a wide leeway for their beliefs or lack thereof.

dual memberships

In Asia, it's not uncommon to be a member of more than one religion. Most Japanese who identify with a religion are often both Buddhist and Shinto. In the U.S., I know several Hare Krishnas who also identify with Judaism or Christianity. Being exclusivist is hopefully a remnant of less tolerant times--I've heard a critique that it is a holdover from monotheistic faiths where only one way is considered the right way.

I'd like to think that

I'd like to think that there's not something nefarious about this. I hadn't heard about the Buddhist priest myself, but have no problem with them asking her to leave. This cannot be simply relegated to nothing more than she's a black woman priest and they want to treat her differently. They ordain homosexual priests too, that's so far to the liberal spectrum of Christianity that it makes the previous assertion implausible. The comparison to Asia and the the blendings is wholly irrelevant when one remembers that Buddhism was not intended to be a religion, but more of a life philosophy. This is why it can fit nearly seamlessly with any religion, barring the extreme instances of the three Western Monotheisms, which all demand strict adherence to the exclusion of all other schools of thought. Methinks we feminists need to come down off our crosses every now and then, and yes the pun was intended, and not automatically assume its sexism/racism. And speaking of racism, why have we been so damn silent about the Hate Fest at Durban II this week? Its attempts to single out a single country as the lone beacon of hate is ludicrous and hypocritical. Its simultaneous attempts to classify any speech found to criticize Islam in any form as hate speech is disingenuous. I'm not a huge Isreal fan by any stretch, but at the same time, the problem is too complex to paint as one side black the other white. Both parties have committed attrocities, and until both sides are willing to admit it, nothing meaningful is gained. We both know that nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia have apalling women's rights policies. Inability to drive? Constant escort by male relatives or face death at the hands of a religous quasi-secret police above even the written laws? Why do we shy away from these things? Honest criticism doesn't have to be hateful, and its not narrow minded to expect that when the rest of the world adopts a list of human rights, that nations wishing to participate on a council to defend them, actually aknowledge those rights within their own borders.

@"I'd like to think

@"I'd like to think that..."

I don't know how honest "criticism on appalling women's rights policies in specially Iran and Arabistan" has anything to to with not accepting a woman to be both muslim and christian.I'm not muslim nor christian but I know Islam and Christianity have one thing in common: the treatment of women as the second gender.

I feel silly for clarifying this.Me and any other 18+ years man or woman that has a driving licence can drive in Iran.We don't need a relative to escort us if we are old enough to go to school .Were did you find your information from?
Maybe you have mistaken Iranایران: (reads earaan like easy) with Iraq: عراق(reads araagh like arab)

And one thing about Israel :I hate Islam too ,It has and still is ruining my country,But trowing human beings (whatever religion or race they may be )out of their country?genocide? To hate Islam is one thing,To hate Muslims is another.

I'm sorry. Sometimes when I

I'm sorry. Sometimes when I get heated, my words run together somewhat unintelligably. I didn't mean to imply that women can't drive in Iran. I meant to connect that with Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive.


This is also the country I made reference to when citing the religous police beating women for being unescorted. Iran does not have these particular problems. Their social ills are more readily apparent when viewing their treatment of homosexuals; unless one would buy into their President's claim there are no Iranian homosexuals (convenient when you kill them once found)


The criticism on womens rights was merely a side note on my issue with most feminists outlets all to ready to point the finger at Western institutions for discrimination, but fail to reflect back on the Middle East and Asia as readily.

Very truly both Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims treat their women like chattel. I blame Paul for a majority of the misogynistic passages found in the Bible. Jesus on the other hand was historically comfortable with women being equals in his circle of followers. The sit down and shut up in church stuff came from letters written in the early centuries of the movement.

The problem with being both a Muslim and a Christian is that the two are incongruous from either side of the argument. The Muslims corrupt the divinity of Christ, and on the other side of the coin, the Christians wrongly deify a prophet, and ignore the final revelation of the Central Theist. Muslims go to Christian Hell and the Christians are subject to taxes and penalties under Muslim rule until departing to their Muslim Hell equivalent. If this priest truly understand the dogma of either faith she'd realize they cannot be blended without corrupting both from a purely dogmatic perspective. I meant merely to point out that because she falls into the category of the most highly marginalized sector of American demographics (AA and a woman) doesn't necessarily mean that was the motivating factor for the guff she is taking.

Thank you for an intelligent rebuttal. Nothing ventured or shared, and nothing gained.

Anon, thanks for clarifying, and...

...point taken re: <i>I meant merely to point out that because she falls into the category of the most highly marginalized sector of American demographics (AA and a woman) doesn't necessarily mean that was the motivating factor for the guff she is taking.</i>

However, I raised the possibility of race and gender as factors because I don't see much difference between "Muslims corrupt[ing] the divinity of Christ" and someone like Spong, for example, denying the divinity of Christ.

What is the difference? Perhaps the Episcopal Church's answer to that question --which, for Holmes' future as a Episcopal priest, is the only answer that matters--perhaps the Church's answer would vary from diocese to diocese.

If Spong had served in the same diocese that Holmes did, would he have been defrocked? Spong was criticized most notably by the bishop who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury--but even with that, he was never defrocked.

And vice versa--if Holmes had served in Spong's parish, would her dualism have led to defrocking?

If the answers to those questions were readily available, a clearer picture of the motivation behind Holmes' defrocking would emerge.

@Anonymous _Totally off

_Totally off topic_
Your welcome,and I wasn't offended;I know what you meant and it's not like i'm poud of our government and that stupid shit that is our prresident.

And there ARE homosexuals in Iran,They just don't come out and say it,specially to the president himself,I guess that's why Ahmadinejhad said that.
Its a sin in Islam and as you said and its punishment is death.And also nobody can come out and say I'm not muslim(If she/he is born in a muslim family,converting to another religion or not believing in god is also a sin.And this ones alternative is death too)
So we have to be or pretent to be muslim therefor heterosexual or be hanged.So what Ahmadinejhad said is what he believes to be true and Islam's great accomplishment.

I'm going to refute your

I'm going to refute your claims as Islam treating women as a second gender because it does not. i hear this many times on feminist sites who often come to this conclusion because of the way women are treated in "muslim countries". these countries do not follow the teachings of islam. there are many examples of how islam sees women as valued, islam states heaven is at the feet of your mother, one gravous sin you can commit in islam is denying your wife sexual pleasure and islam stresses how sexual satisfaction is very important for women, and the first thing a woman is entitled to is an education and that NO ONE has the right to deny her this.

Now of course if you go to places like afghanistan this would be difficult to believe as many women and girls are threatened if they try and recieve an education. but considering the first thing the taliban do when they enter a village is burn every copy of the koran they find it does not surprise me they are not big on upholding islamic teachings depite what any rupert murdoch owned news channel tells you .

i am a muslim and a feminist, not a contradiction in the least, and i find it amazing how you can claim to hate islam when your post shows you dont actually know anything about it. you say hating islam and hating muslims are two different things. i would also argue hating islam and hating supposedly muslim countries are also two different things.

you should take your own advice.

Muslims do not believe Jesus

Muslims do not believe Jesus was God, the son of God, or that he claimed to be either. Christianity and Islam are very similar in some respects and share many principles for life. However the 1st and foremost act of being a Muslim is to testify that there is no God but God. Therefore by the standards of Islam, it is impossible to be both. To me, this is another example of Americans wanting the rest of the world to adjust to their convenient whims rather than accepting reality and striving for a true harmonious existence. Remember when a reporter questioned a Bush administration official about discrepancies of statements and was told (I will paraphrase as i do not have the exact quote in front of me) "We decide whats reality, we create reality. You can study and report our actions as judiciously as you may, but by then we will have acted again, creating a new reality". The fact that this person is a woman or African-American in no way gives added credence to her statements. The reality of the situation is clear, yet another American simply says "I want my own reality". She can claim to be whatever she likes, but that does not alter reality. A person can claim to be from dimension X with four heads, mental telepathy and the winning lotto numbers. Certainly they can claim that, but reality does not support this claim. Muslims also do not believe that God is a man or woman, Muslims believe God is the creator of men and women and has no male or female qualities. It is even addressed in the Koran which states (again a paraphrase as i do not speak Arabic) "we only refer to God as he in scripture to make things easier for you" i.e. your previous monotheistic scriptures have referred as such so this is for your convenience of understanding. However even the most hard-line, misogynistic interpreter of the faith, be they male or female would have to agree that the holy book states God is neither male nor female, and prefers no sex over the other.

Well, the first thing the

Well, the first thing the authority did wrong was to allow the making of a female priest. The Bible in the New Testament rules out female priesthood. Also, there were NO females operating in priesthood status in the Old Testament either. But, it is probably OK with God for a women to speak from the pulpit of a church if she has something that will benefit the other members, or if they have no problem with a woman speaking occasionally.

A black Muslim, a priest, and an Episcopalian walk into a barâ

Kim kardashian sex tape video pouts appropriate up until and they all of the ante up
a browse to a person's crocodile zoo.

different situations -

Probably too late here for anyone to see, but here goes:

Spong was consecrated a bishop before his views became so, how shall I say this?, non-Nicene. As a sitting bishop the threshold for discipline is high and so far as I know has not been reached. There is no one person who has authority over him and the discipline involves a presentment and multiple people acting on it.

Forrester was elected by his diocese but did not get the confirmation by the larger church, the first time that has happened in 77 years. I doubt that meditating with Buddhist by itself was the barrier, given the immense diversity of Buddhist beliefs and the fact that his practice was Zen, but his open avowal of a non-Nicene perspective on Jesus was almost certainly the principle if not the only relevant factor for most of those who declined to confirm the election.

I hope this clarifies a bit the different situations.

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