|House of Mary|
Another stop on our family vacation was Selcuk, Turkey, formerly known as the biblical city of Ephesus. Our tour guide John informed us that the country is 99% Muslim, the government is secular, and the culture is very modern due to the influence of their first president and the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Our first stop was the House of Mary, where Vatican historians believe that Mary was brought by the disciple John during the final years of her life and is now an official pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics. Outside the house, there is a plaque with verses from the Koran honoring Mary, stating that she is "chosen...above all women (Chapter 3 verse 42)."
|Ryan and me at the Ephesian Theater where Paul preached.|
I was also surprised to learn that while the governments of Turkey and Greece have their differences, the people are remarkably similar in culture, eating and drinking the same foods and living very similar day to day lives. Turkey has also recently decided against joining the European Union because their economy is doing well and they are afraid that joining the E.U. would devalue their currency, among other things.
The positive nature of interfaith relations in Turkey is a wonderful testament to our shared Abrahamic heritage and the healthy relationship that can come from respectful dialogue, desire to find similar ground, and genuine care for one another’s beliefs. I hope that the rest of the world can learn from this example, especially in light of recent attempts to ban mosques in the United States, where freedom of religion and conscience is a founding tenant of both our country and our Baptist faith.