U.S. Muslims and Mormons share deepening ties

In a somewhat surprising relationship, the Lost Angeles Times reports on the befriending of Mormons and Muslim in the United States. While the two religions have very little theology in common, both have some shared values and have felt a feeling of isolation from mainstream America. The Mormon Church has become the largest contributor to Buena Park-based Islamic Relief, touted by some as the West’s largest Muslim based charity. Relief officials say that $20 million in goods and services has been donated by the Mormon church since the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia – about 20% of the charity’s annual budget. “We both come from traditions where there has been persecution in the past and continues to be prejudice… that helps us Mormons identify with Muslims” said Steve Gilliland, the LDS director of Muslim relations for Southern California. Muslims also echo the sentiment: “When I go to a Mormon church I feel at ease… When I heard the president [of LDS] speak a few years ago, if I’d closed my eyes I’d have thought he was an imam” said Haitham Bundakji, former chairman of the Islamic Society of Orange County.