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Religions pray together at 'unofficial' service
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/2/2008 12:25 AM

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A United Nations of religions gathered in Naperville Thursday night to join together in a common purpose and voice in celebration of the National Day of Prayer.

The "unofficial" service was created this year to welcome religious perspectives beyond the conservative Christian messages that dominated many other DuPage County prayer services Thursday.

Unitarian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha'i, Hindu and Christian faithful took turns delivering and explaining prayers with a similar theme.

The overall message was that each faith appealed to a God of love for all people. Even enemies are neighbors. Even people who are radically different from each other have many basic things in common.

The Rev. Greg Schneck-Skiba began the ceremony with thoughts about the "In God We Trust" ideal printed on American currency.

"What kind of God is it?" Schneck-Skiba asked.

He said it's foolish to think all Americans believe in exactly the same things. But people rooted in faith believe the God they trust in is a "God of love," Schneck-Skiba said.

The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher put the National Day of Prayer in perspective as a day created by Congress. Belcher spoke from the Unitarian perspective, which has no one, single scripture it adheres to. She reminded the audience that the official religion of the early American settlers and founding fathers was Anglican. But many, such as Thomas Jefferson, secretly had other beliefs and took great pains to lead the country away from religious persecution by advocating freedom of religion as a founding principle.

But perhaps it was Ahmed Qadeer, a Muslim, who best summarized the sentiments of the service.

"Every one of us, without exception, is dependent on God's good graces to live successfully in this world and the world hereafter," Qadeer said. "We should all love one another. However, I would be satisfied if we did not hate one another."