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