Pastor Terry Jones and his abysmal decision to burn copies of the Qur’an, the central religious text of Islam, on the ninth anniversary of the tragic September 11th attacks has fueled its own firestorm in recent days, and for good reason. Jones, who pastors a congregation of roughly 50 members at his Dove World Outreach Center (could it have a more hypocritical name?) in Gainsville, Florida, has continually reiterated that he will not be swayed against his promise to burn as many as 200 Qur’ans (also transliterated Quran and Koran) on his church property this upcoming Saturday. Pastor Terry Jones has even gone so far as proclaiming that Jesus Christ would join in on his “International Burn-a-Koran Day”. I could not disagree more, and this whole situation both upsets me deeply and saddens me. I know for a fact that the Jesus whom I attempt to live my life for can’t be the same one Pastor Terry Jones vouches for.
Jones’ movement, which he deems a “radical” message spurned out of necessity, completely contradicts the ministry of Jesus, one that is rooted in love and leaving judgment to God alone. I am by no means trying to oversimplify the message of Jesus; however, there is no way to look at Pastor Terry Jones and this intolerant, misguided act and see Jesus. How does Pastor Terry Jones look at Jesus’ presentation of the greatest commandments (Mt. 22:34-40), that we ought to love God with everything that we have and are, and, completely inseparable to that, love our neighbors as an extension and sign of that love for God? Our neighbors can’t just be the ones we agree with. If you are a person, you are my neighbor. That obviously does not mean that I’m going to agree with you in all things, just as I more than wholeheartedly disagree with Pastor Terry Jones and loathe what he is planning. But I’m even called to somehow love him too.
Regardless of whether or not a Christian or individual agrees with Islam or any other religious belief system, for that matter, should not undermine or certainly dismiss the needed place for respect, tolerance, and dialogue. If Jesus is who He claims be (inasmuch as we can gauge considering the entirety of the New Testament), I cannot even begin to fathom how Pastor Terry Jones considers this horrible movement a reflection of Jesus’ heart. Even more so, how does God gain any glory from a hate-based act against a religion and people who, like all of us here on earth, can only do our best in our attempts to connect with the Creator?