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Farrakhan says blacks must heal religious rift

Farrakhan says blacks must heal religious rift

By Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter

February 28, 2005

Reminding his audience that there are deep similarities among the three major monotheistic faiths, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Sunday that until black people overcome the religious divide that separates them, white supremacy and black poverty will continue.

For about three hours, the charismatic 71-year-old preacher lambasted the U.S. government as a "modern Roman Empire" and called for reforms throughout the entire "hypocritical world of religion." Flanked by Methodist, Roman Catholic and Pentecostal clergy, he kept returning to the theme of unity.

"[God] is elevating our consciousness beyond denomination, beyond organizational thrust and ideology to see, by his grace, the bigger picture," he told more than 5,000 followers at Christ Universal Temple on Chicago's South Side. "We are not poor. We're just poorly organized. We are not poor in material strength but [there is] poverty in terms of the mind and spirit."

Farrakhan's sermon, watched by thousands via satellite in more than 120 cities in the U.S. and London, marked the Nation of Islam's annual Saviours' Day, the anniversary of the death of Farrakhan's teacher Elijah Muhammad and the birth of Elijah Muhammad's teacher Master Fard Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam.

Farrakhan spoke of recent meetings with Christian leaders to plan the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. He said many of those Christian leaders had dubbed him a "frustrated Baptist preacher" for talking so much about the teachings of Jesus.

"You may not understand as a Muslim why I quote the Bible more sometimes than the Koran," he said. "That's because you don't have the assignment. ... I'm not trying to undermine or challenge your faith. That's not what it's about. It's about making faith real.

"If the real Jews, real Christians, real Muslims stood up, they would stand up for their principles," he added.

Farrakhan also discounted reports from years past that he is against Jews.

"I've never been an anti-Semite in my life," he said. "A real Muslim cannot hate a Jew."

Farrakhan also defended Michael Jackson, who faces child-molestation charges in California, saying he has been denied a jury of his peers.

Farrakhan said he would soon be cutting an album of his own, as he has just taken up the violin again.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune


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