Episcopal Priest Defrocked After Refusing to Recant Muslim Faith

An Episcopal priest who claimed to be both Christian and Muslim was defrocked, effective Wednesday.

Bishop Geralyn Wolf of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island deposed Ann Holmes Redding, citing abandonment of Communion of The Episcopal Church.

Although Wolf has described Redding as a "woman of utmost integrity," the bishop said she "believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim," according to a statement by the Rhode Island diocese.

In response to the charge, Redding claimed becoming a Muslim "is not an automatic abandonment of Christianity," according to the Seattle Times. "For many, it is. But it doesn't have to be."

An ordained minister in The Episcopal Church for over two decades, Redding made headlines in 2007 when she told the Seattle Times she was "100 percent" Muslim and Christian. Her story was first revealed in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia's newspaper, the Episcopal Voice.

Three years ago, Redding attended an interfaith gathering where she said was moved by Muslim prayers. She said she felt an overwhelming conviction to surrender to God and soon after she became a practicing Muslim.

Convinced that her new Muslim faith did not contradict her beliefs as a Christ follower, Redding declared she was both a Muslim and a Christian.

"Both religions say there's only one God," Redding said, according to CNN, "and that God is the same God. It's very clear we are talking about the same God! So I haven't shifted my allegiance."

She also said she does not believe that God and Jesus are the same and believes Jesus is divine just as all humans are divine.

Dr. Emir Caner, a convert to Christianity from Islam and dean of The College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has called it "a logical impossibility for someone to be both a Muslim and Christian since they stand in direct opposition to each other on such crucial theological issues as the cross, resurrection, and salvation."

The Diocese of Rhode Island rejected Redding's claims and took swift action after she made her public profession of adhering to the Muslim faith.

Bishop Wolf issued a Pastoral Direction in July 2007, inhibiting her from all priestly duties while giving her the opportunity to reflect on the Christian faith and her beliefs.

Redding lives in Seattle but was ordained by a former bishop of Rhode Island. She thus remained subject to disciplinary authority under Wolf.

Redding was given until March 31, 2009, to resign or recant her Islamic ties.

She did neither.

Redding will continue practicing both faiths and told the Seattle Times that she is establishing a nonprofit institute to bring together the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The institute is to be called Abrahamic Reunion West.

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