Feb 1 2015
Was it followed by a Muslim beheading event, too?
McClatchy DC (h/t Liz) Giving thanks at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo has become more diverse this year as officials have cast a wider net to include more faith-based groups that offer prayers before the bareback bronc riding begins.
For some faithful rodeo fans, though, the inclusion of a Muslim imam in the mix has become a burr under the traditional saddle. The Stock Show’s Facebook page lit up this week after Moujahed Bakhach of the Islamic Association of Tarrant County offered the public prayer at Sunday night’s performance.
While some of the comments on the Stock Show’s Facebook page were supportive of the more inclusive prayer policy, most were not. Opposition did not seem personally directed at Bakhach or his words, but expressed outrage at the inclusion of a member of the Islamic clergy during a time of violence and extremism involving radical Muslim terrorists.
A sampling of the sentiments expressed:
“I just will choose NOT to go somewhere that embraces a religion that wants me, my family and my people DEAD.”
“Muslim/Islam has no place in this country let alone fwssr. Not one Muslim has come out against the radical actions that is the Muslim belief. PERIOD. COWBOYS DON’T WANT IT.”
“This really disappoints me in the FWSSR! Sad to see such a Texas & American institution fall in the gutter of political correctness.”
Islam is against all other religions and I for one won’t attend an event that allows a darkness to be spoke over me!”
The Fort Worth Stock Show has long featured a Christian flavor, from evangelical-like comments of longtime rodeo announcer Bob Tallman to the growing popularity of Cowboy Church, which is held Sunday mornings.
Tallman said Imam Bakhach “did a wonderful job” when giving Sunday’s prayer. Bakhach, who speaks regularly at a variety of events across Tarrant County, said there was “a beautiful spirit” in Will Rogers Coliseum Sunday night, and said the blessing went on without a hitch. (Until word got out)
“I didn’t hear any negative reaction to what I said,” Bakhach said. But later, his friend, who had been seated in the crowd while Bakhach spoke, said someone behind him exclaimed, ‘Oh my God’ when Bakhach’s name and affiliation were announced.
Brad Barnes, president and general manager of the Stock Show, who is at each performance of the rodeo, said he saw no indication of anger in the crowd on Sunday, and he characterized Bakhach’s blessing as “spot-on” and “very appropriate.”
Still, as the social media storm began to boil, Bakhach – who was scheduled to pray again on Monday – said he talked with Barnes about the negative feedback. “I felt he was in a spot, so I canceled for Feb. 2,” Bakhach said. “I love Fort Worth. It really hurt me to see this reaction.”
Dhimmi Bob Roberts, senior pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, has long been passionate in his support of Muslims and other faiths and about the importance of welcoming them as neighbors. (And you will be among the first to get your head cut off by your muslim ‘friends’) Roberts said that sadly, Christians promote intolerance and fear of Muslims more than any group in the United States. (Sorry, pastor, it is Muslims who create the fear, not the people threatened by them)
Prayers have always opened the rodeo performances and this year, a new community committee has taken over the duties of choosing who offers the moment of thanks. (Not for long) “Creating the faith-based advisory council is something we’ve been considering for a number of years to honor the diverse community in which we live and is not specific to any single event,” Barnes said.
On Tuesday night, the rodeo prayer was offered by Jonas Bohlin, a Cowboy Church pastor representing the Fort Worth Clergy and Police Alliance program. Bohlin invoked the names of God and Jesus, and offered thanks for “a nation where we can thank you for our day” and “a city that welcomes your oversight.”
There were no comments on the Stock Show’s Facebook page about Bohlin’s prayer, but the anti-Muslim posts were still going strong. Roberts said the only way to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians is to develop friendships.
“You can’t hate somebody that you know as a person, that your family hangs out with,” Roberts said. “The majority of Muslims are as peaceful as are the majority of Christians. (No, they aren’t) But in a culture of hate people of faith have a responsibility to look beyond what the headlines grabber is doing and see people as a whole.”