Reacting to Saturday's planned -- but now, tentatively, canceled -- Quran burning in Florida, leaders at St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Rolling Hills Estates have decided to hold a "Quran reading."
The event will take place whether or not books are burned in Florida.
"We have been lamenting the hateful actions that have been contemplated in Florida," the Rev. Reinhard Krauss, pastor of the church, told the Daily Breeze. "We saw it as an opportunity to take action, to look at some texts in the Quran and see what they have to say."
From noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, the church invites members of all faiths to read and discuss in small groups portions of Islam's sacred text. The event is not intended as a protest or debate, Reinhard said, but rather an opportunity to learn.
Another pastor, the Rev. Bruce Calkins of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Hawthorne, wrote to local Muslim leaders expressing regret over the actions in Florida of the Rev. Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center.
"This small group (in Florida) has gotten so much publicity, I thought it was important to have Muslims themselves know that they have local people who strongly denounce these actions," Calkins said.
Calkins addressed the letter to members of the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, which hosted the Christian minister, among others, at a religious ceremony and dinner a few weeks ago.
Idris Traina, president of board of directors of the Hawthorne mosque, said the letter was read to the congregation on Wednesday, and was well- received.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national advocacy group, has urged Muslims to use the event as a way to reach out to people of other faiths "to build bridges of respect and understanding."
In Orange County, two churches also are planning events.
Irvine mega-church Marines will conduct an all-day "Bridges" seminar. Organizers said the events is designed to replace fear and misunderstanding of Muslims.
"Our goal at Mariners is to provide a contrast to the growing polarity and conflicts and tear down some of the walls of misunderstanding that lead to fear between communities," Sophia Marsh, a Laguna Beach resident and three-year member of the Christian church, told the OC Register.
Irvine United Congregational Church will conduct a "Quran blessing."
Hassam Ayloush is executive director of the Los Angeles-area Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said told the Register he has "mixed feelings" about the events.
"Without hesitation, I support a church's right to preach their religion to whoever they like," he told the newspaper. "It is good that we have this marketplace of ideas.
"But I do worry when it is based not fully on the truth or on negative stereotypes."
He told the Register he would like to see Muslims explain their own views.