A new documentary from EthicsDaily.com on Baptist-Muslim relationships will begin airing on top ABC-TV stations in early January.
A worshipper at the Islamic Center of Boston holds a Quran. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
"Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims," an hour-long documentary that puts a new, positive face on relationships between faith communities often known for their extremists, has already been picked up by about 60 ABC stations. More will follow.
Some of the nation's top TV markets – including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Orlando and Kansas City – have already slotted the program for broadcast.
"Different Books, Common Word" airs on ABC-TV stations pursuant to an agreement between the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission and ABC television. The documentary is part of a "Vision and Values" series of public-interest and religious programs that the IBC supplies to ABC.
ABC, in turn, clears the programs for broadcast and makes them available to any of its affiliate or owned-and-operated (O&O) stations wishing to carry such programming.
"Different Books, Common Word" has a program window of Jan. 3 – Feb. 28, 2010. ABC's affiliates and O&Os may choose to broadcast the program at a date and time of their choosing within that window. (Click here to find out if your local ABC station has already booked the program.)
EthicsDaily.com began producing its documentary on Baptists and Muslims when leaders from the two faiths met in January 2009 outside Boston for the first-ever national Baptist-Muslim dialogue. EthicsDaily.com planned its own documentary release but was soon approached by representatives from the IBC and one of its member bodies, the Islamic Society of North America, to see if the documentary might be suitable for supply to ABC.
After all parties agreed it was suitable, EthicsDaily.com co-producers/directors Robert Parham and Cliff Vaughn continued documenting stories, from various parts of the country, that illustrated how some Baptists and Muslims have found the common ground from both faith traditions to love God and love neighbor.
Shooting lasted through June and covered stories in:
- Washington, D.C., where the Islamic Society of North America maintains an interfaith office;
- Oklahoma City and Norman, Okla., where Baptists and Muslims have developed friendships and humanitarian partnerships amid the legacy of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that initially was blamed on Muslims;
- the Texas-Louisiana border, where a Baptist pastor and Muslim businesswoman have pooled resources for hurricane relief and other community needs;
- Memphis, Tenn., where a Baptist professor and Muslim medical physicist struck up what initially seemed an unlikely relationship to many;
- and Columbia, Tenn., where the Islamic center was firebombed in February 2008 by white supremacists, prompting various community responses.
"The Bible calls us to love our neighbors, not as a means of conversion, but because it's the right thing to do," said Parham, executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and the documentary's co-producer/director.
"Viewers will be surprised to see new stories of respect and partnership that are emerging in the United States between goodwill Muslims and Baptists," said Parham. "We hope these stories will begin to replace the negative ones about both Muslims and Baptists."
Stations from coast to coast have expressed an interest in the program by already booking it for high-definition broadcast.
Four stations in Alabama, including Birmingham's WBMA, already plan to show it. Louisville and Bowling Green have committed to broadcasts in the Bluegrass State, while Kansas City, Columbia and Kirksville have it slotted in Missouri.
Even some of the nation's remoter locations – like Billings, Mont., and Rapid City, S.D. – will be showing viewers what Baptist-Muslim relationships in the United States can aspire to be.
"Our hope is also that this documentary will bring Baptists and Muslims together on the local level for conversations and community-building," said Parham. "If Muslims and Baptists are peacemakers together in the United States, then they will show the rest of the world a better way and provide a challenge to follow to other Christians and Muslims."
"Different Books, Common Word" will also be available for purchase on DVD beginning in early January. To learn more about the documentary, its airtimes and DVD pre-order information, go to www.differentbookscommonword.com.