It was supposed to be a shining moment for proponents of the interfaith movement.
The Islamic "jummah," or Friday call to prayer, would be held on America's grandest Christian stage – the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
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It was a bold move that had never been tried. Leaders of the Episcopal cathedral said sending prayers up to Allah from a Christian church would show the world that two religions at odds with each other for centuries could "approach the same God" as one body of believers.
The stage was set. The prayer rugs were neatly arranged facing Mecca. The lights shone down on the imam for his opening remarks.
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Not so fast.
Christine Weick, a 50-year-old Michigan woman with flowing blonde hair who lives out of her car, rose from the packed National Cathedral, the hall of halls in terms of religious prominence in America, and moved toward the front of the church.
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She pointed to the cross hanging overhead.
That cross seemed to be the one thing nobody wanted to look at, she told WND Saturday in an exclusive interview.
The Muslims had set up their prayer rugs in such a way that their backs were turned on the cross, which they consider an alien religious symbol. Jesus was a prophet but was not the son of God and never died on a Roman cross, according to Muslim teaching. Yet, they found themselves staring at a woman who demanded the cross become the center of attention. She pointed to it, then blurted out the message she had traveled all the way from Tennessee to deliver.
"Jesus Christ died on that cross over there. He is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior," she said. "We have built ...allowed you your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone? We are a country founded on Christian principles."
She immediately heard voices in the crowd yelling for security.
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"Black coat, white scarf, blonde hair!" yelled one. "We need to get her out of here now!" someone else cried out.
"They were yelling for security, and by that point I was already done saying what I came to say," Weick told WND.
She was promptly escorted out of the sanctuary by two men in suits, who handed her off to a police officer.
Watch video of Christine Weick get removed from National Cathedral after standing up and proclaiming Jesus Christ during Muslim prayer service:
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She had instantly become a folk hero of sorts for thousands, if not millions, of Christians who read what happened or watched the video that was posted on the Internet.
Now Weick wants everyone to know that she did not get arrested and she is safely back in her SUV, heading back to Tennessee.
"It was quite an overwhelming day yesterday," she said.
And while she was lauded for her bravery, she confided she was "literally scared to death" as she waited for the right moment to stand up and proclaim the gospel message.
"They never said a word to me. Two guys came up and got me. I remember one large man in a suit taking me by the arm, very strongly but he did not hurt me," she said.
"He just put an arm on me and said, 'We are walking this way.' Then comes the police officer, and I'm thinking, 'OK I'm done.' I'm still in the sanctuary at this point, so I put out my hands for the officer to arrest me, but he just held my hand and walked me to the back of the church.
"He handed me over to a woman officer, who takes me to the front doors of the church. She hands me to another officer, who takes me to another officer in the foyer, who takes me out to the road. Not one of them said a word. I was free to go."
She said she told the last officer who led her to the road to have a good day, to which he gave no response. She returned to her vehicle and soon afterward drove home.
Except she doesn't have a home. She said her husband divorced her last year "over a spiritual conflict," and her family disowned her because she took a stand against same-sex marriage and other "moral issues."
Weick said she learned of the Muslim prayer service two days before it was scheduled to happen through an article posted on the Drudge Report. The more she thought about it, she felt the Lord was telling her to go to Washington and say something.
"My blood began to boil as I read the comments of how this is to be such a wonderful event and how religious tolerance can, for the first time, be shown in our nation's capital," she said.
Still, she had nervous doubts about making the 400-mile trip from Kingsport, Tennessee.
"That article got my attention. And then I Googled the Washington National Cathedral, and I got more information about the service," she said.
She found out from the cathedral's website that the event was for "invited guests only."
"That’s when I knew I had to be creative, and so did God," she said.
She wasn't sure what type of creativity would be required or even if she was doing the right thing as she headed out on the road to D.C. In fact, she almost turned around.
A sign of confirmation
"I was driving there on my way from Tennessee, and I've got a lot of doubts in my mind: Am I going to make a fool of myself? Am I going to be in jail for the weekend?"
But as she drove down the highway in the right lane, she passed a strange woman.
"There's this woman stepping out of her vehicle on the side of the road, clapping and giving me two thumbs up, and I'm like, 'That was the strangest thing,'" she said. "The first thing that went through my mind was, 'That's my confirmation right there.' That's all I needed, and from that point on I knew this was something I'm going to do; and that was the catapult that moved me to keep going towards Washington."
She said she told only four people where she was going and what she planned to do. She asked for prayer.
"I said I need you to pray for me, this is what God has put in my bones to do," she said. "It didn't hit me until I got in the cathedral and saw all the people and the cameras sitting on my right, and I'm thinking, 'This is a big deal. I am going to be put in jail!'"
She credits God for getting her into the massive church, which was guarded like Fort Knox. Everyone had to go through a checkpoint to make sure they weren't armed or posed a threat.
"It was a God thing how I got past all that security in the beginning. They never ID'd me, and I had brought my ID with me just in case, and I thought that would be my downfall, being from Michigan, that they would say, 'What is she doing here?" Weick said. "According to reports, this was a heavy security event. They checked every bag and every person that walked in there. I bet some security people are in big trouble today."
She said she slipped through unnoticed, first by following a security guard and then later by engaging in conversation alongside a woman with press credentials.
"I just followed those security officers when they were going from place to place. I just followed them," she said. "It was almost like they didn't see me. Like I was invisible."
Hiding in the bathroom
Weick got through the security line about 10:15 a.m., more than an hour and a half before the prayer service started. She needed to lie low to avoid detection.
She noticed a janitor's closet was left open near the bathroom and briefly thought about hiding in it. But a fear of being locked in persuaded her against that option.
She slipped into the bathroom instead.
"When I was in the bathroom hiding out, that's when it hit me: I think I'm invisible, I really wondered, the way it happened, just strange, just totally strange; and someday I'm going to ask God how that all worked out," she said.
While hiding in the bathroom and waiting for the service to start, she rehearsed over and over what she would say. She prayed constantly, with emphasis on Psalm 27.
A woman was washing her hands at the sink as Weick left the stall where she was hiding. The woman had a press tag on her blouse.
"I asked her if she knew what time the service was to start and she replied, 'In a few minutes. Do you know where to go?' I didn't."
"Follow me and I will take you to the front," the woman said.
"I walked with her into the main foyer up to the security line. We walked right past the guards and into the sanctuary! I was invisible."
Still, the butterflies fluttered in her stomach.
"As she took her seat she was shocked at what she saw. About a hundred people were sitting in chairs around rugs that were placed on the floor. Muslim women, separated from the men, were seated on the rugs. To her right was the news media with their cameras and recording equipment. In front of her were the prayer rugs.
"Then it hit me... I had such an angst come over me. Seeing these Muslims sitting on their rugs ready to bow to a god, causing such an abomination in the house of the Lord," she said.
The imam said the call to prayer would begin momentarily and spoke some words in Arabic.
Weick felt her heart thumping in her chest.
"I prayed... 'Lord! Tell me when!' At that moment I saw a figure of Christ on the cross some distance away. I stood up.
"I was so nervous; you'll never know how scared I was," she said. "All I kept thinking was, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; that's my only strength.' I could not do it through me. But we have an amazing God. He shows his strength in my weakness. That’s my motto."
She started to speak, firmly and loudly but not out of control. What she said was not the same as what she had rehearsed in the bathroom stall.
"I did not plan on those exact words coming out. I was going to say it differently. I was planning to say, 'I serve a risen Savior, and Muhammad is dead.' But I saw the cross and it just popped out of my mouth. I was not going to say it that way. I rehearsed it the other way over and over in the bathroom, because my biggest fear was making a fool of myself; but it didn't happen that way."
Even if she had failed and made herself a fool, it could not be more painful than what she has already gone through over the past year, she said.
"I took a very strong stand on something last year. My husband divorced me over it. It broke my heart. I have a lot of heartache back home, a lot of hurt," she said. "And I felt the Lord telling me, 'You are going to go from place to place for me.'"
While she lives out of her car, she doesn't consider herself homeless.
"Don't be sorry for me. I have a very nice SUV. I go out to eat, I have a bank account," she told WND. "I am just too Dutch to pay 60 or 70 bucks for a hotel every night when I can spend my nights in my car. And I travel every night from place to place, and that is what I was doing when I saw the story in the Drudge Report."
Not a hero
WND's first story on the prayer service drew hundreds of comments from readers. Many lauded the lone, unidentified woman who stood up and rebuked what they saw as a worship service to a false god inside a prominent American church.
Among the comments:
- "They shielded their eyes from the Christian cross, but could not shield their ears from the truthful words of this one brave woman."
- "We should all pray to have the courage this woman displayed. The world needs it. Our nation desperately needs it. Jesus Christ IS Lord."
- "I would speculate that the brave woman who proclaimed the Gospel was the only Christian present– and they threw her out," commented a reader who quoted from John 16:2: "They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God."
- "Bless this woman! Jesus Christ is the Messiah and Salvation for all that believe. Acts 4:12 automatically comes to mind. Islam and Christianity are opposed to each other, no matter what any Pope, Priest and Cardinal says. You cannot deny the Son and have the Father and Islam denies Jesus is the Son."
But Weick said she did nothing outside of what God gave her the strength to do, and she doesn't see herself as any hero of the faith. The weakest of Christians could easily do the same thing, she said.
"That's why I posted on Facebook this morning. I was like, 'Come on Christian soldiers we need to fight, and we need to fight using the gospel, the Word of God,'" she said. "There are Muslims everywhere, just walk up to them and say, 'Jesus Christ is Lord.' Be brave.
"I'm hearing that many Muslims are getting dreams. Maybe all it takes is one to have a dream after being told Jesus Christ is Lord, I don’t know. That is God's deal. Let Him work it out. We just need to be bold in the Lord and we don’t need to be burning their mosques down, like they burn our churches. We have the gospel and that is our only weapon we need. Jesus is Lord, and we need to proclaim it, but how many times do we do it?"
But before Weick became bold, she was humbled.
"It was a situation in my life, how God yanked every anchor in my life over the last five years, just everything that would keep a normal woman, a normal mother, at home just got yanked out from under me," she said. "I have a son and a daughter, and they disowned me. I took a stand against gay marriage and I lost them. That is my heartache. And it hurts me so much. And I wonder what they think now when they see me on the news."
Weick said she doesn't know what her next "assignment" will be, but she knows now she can tackle almost anything.
"I told the Lord last night, 'OK, you can take me now,' but I don't know," she said. "I think He may have other plans for me, per Jeremiah 29: 11."