A pastor of a small 50-member Christian church in Gainesville, FL, the Dove World Outreach Center, has achieved national and international attention because of his plan to burn copies of the Muslim Koran this Saturday, the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America in which more than 3,000 people were killed.
Pastor Terry Jones believes “Islam is of the Devil.” And indeed, for Christians, there is only one God and Jesus Christ is the second person of the Divine Trinity, which makes all other “gods” idols and, therefore, of the Devil. In other words, Pastor Jones’ “failing” is that he actually takes seriously his theology and, by calling false gods what they are, has committed the contemporary sin of being politically incorrect.
For that, he is criticized, condemned, attacked, and vilified by his own country’s government officials (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton), military (General Petraeus), fellow Christian and other religious clergy, the new Black Panthers (whose leaders have called for the killing of white babies), and by Muslim mobs in Afghanistan and elsewhere who have burned the pastor’s image in effigy. Jones has even received death threats.
Many of his critics only recently had spoken out with righteous indignation in support of the construction of the Ground Zero mosque, in the name of our Constitution’s sacrosanct First Amendment right of freedom of religion.
At least two dozen Christian churches, Jewish temples and Muslim organizations in Gainesville have mobilized to plan counter-events this Saturday. Some will read from the Koran at their own weekend services. A student group is organizing a protest across the street from Pastor Jones’ church.
But as Adam Kirk of WOKV.com wryly observed on September 8, 2010:
But just last year, when the pastor of a 14 member church in Canton, N.C. promised to burn all translations of the Christian Bible it considered evil, only a handful of reporters showed up…. And as far as we can tell, the top General in the war on terror, the Secretary of State, and the President never weighed in. The church backed down in the end, after threats of fines for violating local statutes, but their ultimate ceremony was even ignored by the local paper that covered their area.
[…] This morning on NBC’s “The Today Show” senior political advisor to President Obama David Axelrod said when asked whether the Gainesville church has a right to burn a Koran, “it’s not a matter of whether they have the right, it’s a matter of whether it’s right.”
Burning a Koran is considered by Muslims among the most offensive actions taken against Islam. In 2005, 15 people died and scores were wounded in riots in Afghanistan sparked by a story in Newsweek magazine alleging that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention center placed copies of the Koran in washrooms and flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. Newsweek later retracted the story. Just this week a group of 500 protesters chanted “Long live Islam” and “Death to America” a world away in the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan.
In a blog on the website of the Dove World Outreach Center, writer Fran Ingram offered the groups’ reasoning for burning the Koran, arguing that it is not God’s word and denies Jesus is the son of God, that Islam is totalitarian and that the religion teaches idolatry, paganism, rites and rituals.
Jones said he now carries a .40-caliber pistol on his hip, because of the level of response and death threats his church is taking seriously. He also said he’s praying about his decision to go forward with the burning, and that he could change his mind if he gets a sign from God.