The September 11 bigger picture certainly doesn’t need a Koran burning added to it. That September 11 imagery will forever be etched into the minds of Americans. Many lost loved ones in the attacks. Many lives are still affected by the tragedy that still resonates with many Americans. News this week surfaced of a pastor threatening to burn a Koran.
Pastor Terry Jones has now apparently canceled the suggested Koran burning. The Florida pastor has departed from his original idea of a Koran burning as a remembrance of September 11. Still, the absolute message of hate portrayed by a pastor is a disturbing image to many. Sure, as Americans we want to remember the September 11 attacks. We also vow never to forget those who inevitably lost lives and those who were at fault. But how can such a negative image from a pastor(of all people) be a good message to his followers? In my opinion, this is when church becomes more of a cult. Forcing members to watch a Koran burning as they are supposed to be worshiping God is contradictory on so many levels. We all remember the September 11 pictures vividly. That day was a horrible one for so many reasons. The terror we all felt as Americans will probably never, and I say hopefully, be surpassed. But it just doesn’t make any sense to remember a hate crime with what would be another hate crime. Two wrongs do not make a right.
This country was founded on freedom of religion. The irony is that this country was also founded on freedom of speech. Pastor Terry Jones has every right to do his own Koran burning in his own time. He also has the right to do a Koran burning in a public forum-even if it’s a religious setting. All President Obama can do is strongly suggest that he doesn’t hold a Koran burning. But does that make it the right thing to do? We are free as Americans to voice our opinion on every single idea. If we want to criticize our government, our President or the rock group we can’t stand-we can do it freely. Being critical of the September 11 attacks is certainly within the realm of what is ethical. Burning Korans in a place of worship is a horrible example of what a pastor should set. It’s a message of hate and intolerance for other religions. “It is intended to be a clear clear warning,” Jones told ABC News in a recent interview. “We need to send a message to radical Islam,” he continued.
Fear will drive many people to make ignorant decisions. Pastor Terry Jones made one foolish and ignorant decision-although it was clearly his right to advertise such nonsense. There are people who will support the Koran burning. There are uneducated people who will back Jones–his thoughts are probably echoed by a great many people in this country. Americans have every right to be hurt over what happened on September 11. They have every right to openly criticize other religions for a variety of reasons. But the lack of tolerance is extremely disappointing in my eyes. That is not the way the founders of this great country had intended for freedom of religion to work. In fact, it doesn’t work when one group decides their religion is better than another religion.
As religious people in the United States, we have to understand that other people can be good people despite our religious differences. As non-religious people, we have to be tolerant of people who have faith and religion. I find it amazing that people are so narrow minded that they can’t see for once second that it’s okay for other people to have different opinions on religion. Yet, some people believe we have to adhere to one strict religion or else we are doomed to spend eternity in hell. Pastor Terry Jones is certainly an extremist in this situation. He is a horrible example of what following a particular religion can be like. Fortunately for every Terry Jones, there are hundreds and hundreds of pastors who set good examples of love and tolerance. For the greater September 11 anniversary picture, Americans probably don’t want to envision another horrible memory of a pastor burning a symbol of another religion. If Jones has an aim to send a message, his aim is clearly misguided.
What is so surprising and shocking about this Koran burning incident is that it came from a place of worship. Religion in America has been set apart from many other countries because the differences usually don’t lead to war. It doesn’t lead to violence nor should it. We typically preach tolerance on the same level as our own faith. It’s unfortunate that an extremist would use the potential Koran burning as perhaps a way to make a statement or gain publicity for his church. Maybe Jones just really does feel like sending a message of hate to other like minded Americans. From the sounds of his interviews, it certainly seems like he wants to send a message of intolerance.
There are many excuses why someone in a position of supposed authority within his church would decide to set a horrible example like this. None of the excuses could ever be worthy of my acceptance. Jones has canceled the Koran burning at least for now according to various reports(here is one on ABC NEWS that includes an in-depth interview with Jones). It’s a cancellation that never should have had to happen. Jones should have set a great example in a place of worship. Instead, he will forever be remembered as a preacher of hate and intolerance.