A small church in Gainesville, Fla., the Dove World Outreach Center, announced in July, according to The Florida Independent, that it would hold two protests in the coming weeks, a “No Homo Mayor Protest” on Aug. 2 (to protest Gainesville’s homosexual mayor, Craig Lowe) and an “International Burn A Quran Day,” to be held on the anniversary of 9/11. As July bled into August and August into September, the quran-burning story began to reach epic proportions as national media sources began reporting on Pastor Terry Jones’ planned quran burnings.
And as Jones took to YouTube with his anti-Islamic message, insisting that he would go through with plans to hold his International Burn a Quran Day activities, and granted countless interviews for newspapers, magazines, and television outlets, the message and his intent went international. And now, with generals, religious and world leaders, the President of the United States, and even the Vatican condemning the planned act of burning qurans, one has to wonder just where it all began.
According to The Florida Independent, the idea arose after Pastor Terry Jones and other members of the Dove World Outreach Center, using the Facebook page “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” as a model, decided that a message needed to be sent to those who practiced Islam. Jones, who recently authored the book Islam Is Of The Devil, noted in a posting that September 11 was chosen not only to highlight the message of Islam as a religion of violence but also to honor the dead of 9/11, or, as Jones puts it, commemorate the day Americans were murdered by extremists.
In various interviews, Pastor Jones says he wants to “send a message” that radical Islam isn’t welcome in America. He also says that “International Burn a Quran Day” is a warning to Islam and radical Muslims that there are those who will not stand for their brand of violence.
Pastor Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center make plain their views on their particular brand of Christianity — describing themselves as a “New Testament, Charismatic, Non-Denominational Church” — as well as their take on Islam on their website, on signs posted on the Center’s property, and on YouTube. Jones and his followers believe that Christianity is a peaceful religion, and that Islam is the opposite.
Jones stated on a YouTube address that there was “no such thing as moderate Islam.” Although he acknowledged that there were moderate and peaceful Muslims, he said the religion was not moderate or peaceful, “because you cannot separate Islam from Islamic Law, and Islamic Law calls for violence, jihad, war, hates Israel, hates Christians.” He added that it was the desire of Islam to “rule, reign, take over.”
But to say that Pastor Terry Jones’ idea of burning qurans originated with another anti-Islamic Facebook page denies other factors that weighed into the decision to hold an “International Burn a Quran Day.” The fact that the seeds of intolerance and ignorance were already in great supply within the pastor’s ministry — a congregation of around 100 people — were and remain evident.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper confronted Jones Tuesday night and asked him point-blank if he had ever read the Quran. Jones admitted that he had read parts of the Quran but not all of it. Cooper pointed out that Jones’ “message” seemed inflammatory and not a peaceful, Christian act at all. Jones maintained that Christianity was and is the “only” true word of God and he wasn’t murdering anyone, just burning books.
Jones was direct and sure of himself, the burning of a sacred religious symbol, a holy book, and the psychological and emotional effects that that act would have on the followers of that religion lost in the face of his own overriding religious conviction.
He seemed oblivious to Anderson Cooper’s points that his words, actions, and planned act of quran burning were contradictory. And when confronted with General David Petraeus’ words that the quran burning could potentially endanger the lives of others, including American troops serving in Muslim countries, Jones was also adamant that his message was more important than the consideration that some might be hurt or killed because of it.
The city of Gainesville refused to grant Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center a permit to burn.
Despite the international furor, protests in various Islamic-dominant nations, strong words of opprobrium from world leaders, the President of the United States, and the Vatican, Jones insists that his right to burn the Quran (freedom of speech) and the message he sends is more important than the ridicule, death threats, worry, and potential dire consequences of his actions. He maintains that he and his followers plan to proceed with their scheduled burning. It is unclear if Pastor Jones will find a way to circumvent the need for a burn permit or will conduct the quran burning in direct violation of Gainesville laws.
But in the end, Pastor Terry Jones’ idea of an anti-Islamic message via quran burning did not begin with a Facebook page. It did not begin with simple ignorance and intolerance. Although those aspects were important in the formulation of what would become an idea condemned by much of the world, it actually began when Jones decided that only he and those who believe as he does was right and everyone else was misguided and wrong.
“Anderson Cooper 360,” CNN Television
YouTube.com via FloridaIndependent.com