Photo: the Associated Press

If you haven’t yet heard, Terry Jones, the pastor or reverend of a non-denominational church in Gainsville, Florida (called the Dove World Outreach Center–an hypocrisy in and of itself) has decided to hold a ‘international’ Burn a Koran Day. When? You guessed it: the 11th of September.

See this article on ‘Wikiality’ for their definition of book-burning…and also what a ‘real’ American is.

If anyone is reading this, PLEASE do not follow this train of bullshit and misguided hate.

Photographer unknown...but an obvious douche

First off: Why? That’s really the overarching question here. Why does he think that burning a holy text, or a bonfire full of them, will be a good idea? In statements, the Center says the ‘reasoning’ behind this stunt, and other parts of their ideology, is  “to expose Islam for what it is. It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to masquerade as a religion of peace, seeking to deceive our society.”* Jones has come out saying that the Koran burning is a symbolic act intended to be “in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!”*

So, basically, Jones and his church believe that burning the Koran will not only commemorate the dead of 9/11, but somehow teach the world that Islam is ‘evil’. The fact that many Muslims died during 9/11, doesn’t matter. The fact that the only statement made from burning books is one of violence and determined hate–doesn’t matter to him. In a BBC article, Jones is quoted as saying that he doesn’t know much about Islam or the Qur’an, and that, ‘We must send a clear message to the radical element of Islam. We will no longer be controlled and dominated by their fears and threats”. A bonfire is a clear message? In fact, the message he and his church are sending–through their demonstrations, blogs, podcasts, and merchandise is that they not only despise the ‘radical element’ of Islam, but all of Islam and its people…along with gays and probably Jews, Hindus, any other religion not believing Jesus was the son of God, and probably many other Christian sects. But that’s another rant waiting to be blogged.

This whole situation angers me. That someone, anyone would want to do this. The fact that this person is a PASTOR, a supposed religious official responsible for the spiritual well-being of his congregation, a Christian, makes it worse, if possible. The fact that he’s going against the thoughts, wishes, pleas from many religious officials (including Christian), Government officials (including the White House), and civilians and military personnel working in Afghanistan who believe their very lives will be endangered from his actions, primarily if the extremist groups they’re fighting use it as propaganda. Above all, the fact that frightens and sickens me is that this person is so rigid, both in his beliefs and in his inhumanity, that he cannot see he is just as radical as the terrorists who planned and executed 9/11. He can’t see that his actions are un-American, and frankly, un-Christian.

People of all faiths have a right to worship as they please. And yes, as Terry Jones has liked to point out in his statements–he DOES have freedom of speech. But when does his freedom of speech turn into a hate crime? According to the law (and wikipedia), a hate crime is a crime if it is motivated by enmity or animus against a protected class, committed on the basis of a person’s protected characteristics of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. Committing a hate crime IS un-American. Not believing that another religion has the right to even exist, let alone practice, is un-American. What is American though, is his stereotypical adherence to consumerism–you can buy his books and even ‘Islam is the Devil’ t-shirts from the Dove World Outreach Center’s website.

I’ve read the Bible, and studied the Bible–from a religious (I was raised Roman Catholic) and an academic perspective (I have a degree in comparative Religion). But I can’t say if there’s somewhere in there that says Muslims should be opposed. I’ve never seen anything. And honestly, from what I’ve read about Jesus–I don’t think he’d like it. In all fairness, the Romans were more of a concern at the time, but still–Jesus didn’t want THEM, with all their pagan idolatry, to DIE. He wanted them to be converted, and after his death, his apostles spread ‘the good news’. I’m not saying that other religions need to be converted to Christianity, I’m not. I just want to make the point that the act of missionary work is not meant to be violent. Is there historical precedent that missionaries have been oppressive and or violent, of course there has. An article from the New York Times dated December 20th, 1883 describes such violence in the name of Jesus. Perhaps making a bonfire of a holy book isn’t as violent as lashing two Native American little girls for wearing snowshoes (because even though they aren’t mentioned in the Bible, they aren’t advocated in the Bible either…yeah, Caption Logic was not steering that missionary’s tugboat). However, it is still a violent, provocative, and offensive act. The act of a person or persons who believe they are right, but more than right–superior. This man, Terry Jones, believes he is a missionary, and his mission is to:

…get people to stand up. We, as the church, need to stand up for righteousness and for the truth of the Bible. That truth is not only love, healing and prosperity, but it is also about getting up. It is not about being entertained on Sunday morning, but about being equipped to do the work of the service: motivating, equipping to get up, organize, and show the world that there is a true and living church.

On the Dove World Outreach Center’s webpage, it is also stated that

‘Any religion which would profess anything other than this truth is of the devil. This is why we also take a stand against Islam, which teaches that Jesus is not the Son of God, therefore taking away the saving power of Jesus Christ and leading people straight to Hell.’

The Qur’an, or the anglicised Koran,  mentions Jesus 25 times, and in Islam he is considered a messenger of great importance. No, he’s not considered the son of God. But before the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, Christians weren’t exactly sure of Jesus’ percentage of holiness either. The fact that Muslims believe in Jesus’ message doesn’t matter, nor that they believe in one God, whom they call Allah. No. This ‘church’ believes and teaches others to believe that Islam is wrong. Its sad. It would be absolutely pathetic if it wasn’t so scary. Especially scary, because people are going to this book burning, and some believe in the ideology behind it.

See this for Terry Jones defense of his plan, on Hardball with Chris Matthews.

*From the website ‘The Last Crusade”s article ‘Florida Church Sponsors Burn the Koran Day’

11 responses »

  1. Carl says:

    If Terry Jones is right about what the Koran teaches then, I have to say he should burn the Koran and send a message to extremeist Islam. We do not worship the devil and we believe in a loving peaceful God. The Islamic extremeist should not build a mosk near ground zero and they should not try to extend their beliefs to fellow americans.

    • athenapearl says:

      The fact is that Terry Jones has no idea what the Qur’an teaches, and he’s admitted that himself. Even if he was right, which he isn’t, the only outcome of this bookburning would be that he’s given these extremists more propoganda to use against us. And FYI, ‘mosk’ is actually ‘mosque’–and Park 51 would not even be a mosque. They aren’t extending their beliefs even if they do build there–if this is the logic behind your argument then what about Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons–they go door to door extending their beliefs. Muslims don’t do that. They aren’t concerned about conversion, at least not in this century.

  2. Carl says:

    Any people who go door to door to get more parishoners to come to their church, is waisting their time and the peoples time. Everyone has their own religion and those who do not have a religion, don’t want any religion. These people are atheist! They do not need any religion for guidance in this world. They know everyting and have all the answers to our existance here on earth. Why we are here and where we are going into the future.

  3. Liz says:

    Great article.

    Firstly, many Muslims are peaceful people who were as horrified at the events of 9/11 as anyone else.

    Secondly, the best way to show people that a culture of violence and terror is wrong is to be a people of love and compassion. There is not much love or compassion in this action.


  4. carl says:

    I am wondering what does the Quran teach? Doses it teach of a loving and peaceful God? Or, does it teach about how to become a martyr by blowing one’s self to peaces and destroying innocent lives around you.

    • athenapearl says:

      Yes. Probably moreso than the Bible.

      • Carl says:

        I am glad to inform you that the christian bible does not encourage people to blow yourself to pieces. It states, if people want to harm you because you believe in God and it’s teachings from the bible, don’t be afraid, continue to have faith in god and teach them about the loving, peaceful god that once existed here on earth.

  5. Liz says:

    Where does the Koran encourage people to blow themself up? Just because one small group of people decide to do something does not mean that it comes from the Koran. Christians have also done some terrible things, like burning and torturing heretics. And there are some things in the bible (particularly the Old Testatment) that show quite a violent God.

    I am a Christian. And I believe in a loving, compassionate God. But it’s nonsense to say that the God of the bible is loving and peaceful and the God of the Koran is violent and encourages violent behaviour. Both the bible and the Koran have things that could be used to promote violence. And both have things that could be used to suggest compassion and mercy.

    And where does the bible encourage people to either burn another faith’s sacred books – or even tear pages out of them? Yet Christians still do it.


  6. Carl says:

    I disagree about the christian bible suggesting violence in it’s teachings. I don’t know about the Quran and it’s teachings but, I do know, people who worship the Quran like to blow themselves up thinking they will become a martyr. Terry Jones took it upon himself to destroy and burn the Quran, not the teachings of the bible. Terry Jones may not be right but, he’s just making a statement about not wanting a mosque near ground zero.

    • Liz says:

      What about Deuteronomy 17:2-7:

      2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

      As I said, I’m a Christian and I think verses like these need to be read in context. Also, we need to look at the bible in its entirety, not just an isolated passage. But it is definitely a verse in the bible that suggests a violent God. And it could be used to promote violence.

      And in the same way, we should not take isolated verses or passages from the Quran and claim that Islam is a violent religion. Nor should we look at what small minorities of Muslims do.


  7. athenapearl says:

    Neither suggest blowing people, or individuals, up. As far as I’m concerned God is God, no matter who’s worshipping him or in what way. The Old Testement has been written, translated and written again and again. Some books have been included, others discluded based on dogma, which is decided by man. I’m no expert on the Bible, but I don’t think that the Christian Gospels preach hate, or prejudice, or complete distrust. What I’m trying to put across is that the history of Christianity is just as littered with murder and war and terrorism. Its not a good thing.

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