Terry Jones, Pastor of a small, non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida has recently been in the news over his controversial decision to burn the Quran on September 11th.
Jones is no stranger to controversy. In 2009 members of his congregation sent their children to school wearing t-shirts that read; “Islam is of the Devil” on the backs. The children were sent home by their respective schools to change.1
In March 2010 Jones posted a video opposing one of the candidates who was then running for Mayor because he was gay. Jones posted a sign on the church lawn that said “no homos”. 2
Now he is the author of a book, “Islam is of the Devil” and is adamantly determined to commemorate September 11th by burning the Islamic version of the Bible, the Quran.
The very evil and hate he is allegedly against, he is upholding and preaching.
Christianity is supposed to be about a God of Love. Forgiveness is a cornerstone of this faith.
Jones presumes to speak for God, presumes to know how Jesus would act towards the Muslims and his presumption has led him to intolerance and hate. These are not Christian values.
What happened to “Judge not”? What happened to “The greatest of these is Love”?
Terry Jones is using violence and hate to prove that Islam is filled with violence and hate.
He who is supposed to be a witness to the world for his faith, is instead acting in a way that is going to do nothing but drive others away.
On September 11th radical Muslims stole airplanes and used them to kill thousands of innocent people out of their hatred for our Christianity. They call us “infidel” and “unbeliever”.
Where a peacemaker is needed, where an olive branch should be offered, Jones offers a flaming torch instead. With anger and venom, he plans on taking what is most Holy and sacred to every Muslim and burning it in a conflagration of hate and intolerance.
Is this the witness that is supposed to bring others to convert?
Jones is at the center of this drama. But all around him solidarity and goodness have begun to join together. As war screams, peace whispers and starts to be heard.
Shift the focus from Jones, who’s only real motive is public exposure at any cost. Look past him and his closed minded, unchristian cult and something truly good is happening. People of every faith are joining together to oppose this message of hate. Leaders of every political ilk are speaking out with one voice. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, all are banning together as one to face evil.
This is the work of a good People.
Just as the day after September 11th the world came together in support and compassion, so too is the world speaking in one loud voice against this attack on the Muslim community.
Jones may have the Constitutional right to freely spew his bigotry, but the rest of the world is reminding him that morally what he is doing is wrong.
The Dove World Outreach Center is a small congregation. It consists of one small group of people who are misguided and being misdirected.
Preaching hate is not from God.
In the Prayer of St Francis one finds the words:
“Make me an instrument of your Peace,
Where there is Hatred, let me sow Love”
Mahatma Gandhi said; “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”.
The Dalai Lama said; “It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.”
Jones may be bent on destruction and harm, but surrounding him are good people who, by their actions, are showing the world that goodness still exists.
The radical Muslim factor has a choice right now. It can focus on this one hate filled man. Use him as the lodestone and excuse for their continued prejudice against us and keep the tension and terror alive.
Or they can look past this one, small man to the rest of the world. Leaders of every faith, every political leaning are all speaking out loudly and clearly against this burning of the Quran.
Thousands are taking a stand. Surely this must mean something to those who judge us? Could this not be the beginning of building a bridge of peace and understanding?
The Muslim community needs only to listen to the voices raised in their support. They need only to look around to see the outcry against this sacrilege against that which they hold most dear. Is this not a positive step in the direction of healing?
Now is the time to put aside childish things.
The controversy of the Mosque near Ground Zero is flying hot in the media and voices filled with hurt and anger are ringing loudly in the streets. Tension is high and suspicion is rampant. Opinions are divided and debates rage over the morality of this decision. Thrown into this already volatile mix Jones jumps in with both fists flailing shouting about the Devil and building a bonfire.
From out of the maelstrom other voices are raised. Voices of faith. Voices of healing and tolerance. The voices of people who, though the details may be different, all believe in one thing and that is compassion.
Statement after statement of support for the Muslim community and against the burning are added to the fray and like a rainbow appearing out of the storm clouds, goodness is breaking through. A promise of hope.
Jones wants to stand for anger and hate. He wants his bonfire of burning Qurans to be his centerpiece of intolerance.
However if the rest of the world has anything to say about it, he may just become the focal point in this emotional debate for a very different reason altogether.
Later, after the ashes have cooled, people may just point to him and say;
“Because of this radical, the world came together”.
This isn’t at all what this man wants, but we all know that God works in mysterious ways.
1 Christopher Curry (Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.). “‘Devil’ shirts send kids home”. Gainesville.com. http://www.gainesville.com/article/20090826/ARTICLES/908261007
2Chad Smith (April 2, 2010). “Church changes ‘No homo Mayor’ sign to read ‘No homo'”. Gainesville.com.http://citylimits.blogs.gainesville.com/10669/church-changes-no-homo-mayor-sign-to-read-no-homo/