By now most of you have heard about the "controversial" Florida Pastor Terry Jones who is "hell bent" (excuse the pun) on burning hundreds of copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran to "memorialize the September 11th attacks". This of course has set off a firestorm of controversy and reminds me of the trouble that Salman Rusdie got into for his book The Satanic Verses. That caused the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a "fatwa" calling on all good Muslims to kill or help kill Rushdie and his publishers.
Will the same thing happen to Pastor Terry Jones? Well the president thinks the act could have negative ramifications for our service personnel fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and possibly bring terrorist attacks back to our country. So whats a pastor to do when his convictions are so strong? From the nytomes.com writer Damien Cave wrote the following:
Mr. Jones, 58, a former hotel manager with a red face and a white handlebar mustache, argues that as an American Christian he has a right to burn Islam’s sacred book because “it’s full of lies.” And in another era, he might have been easily ignored, as he was last year when he posted a sign at his church declaring “Islam is of the devil.”
But now the global spotlight has shifted. With the debate in New York putting religious tensions front and center, Mr. Jones has suddenly attracted thousands of fans and critics on Facebook, while around the world he is being presented as a symbol of American anti-Islamic sentiment.
Muslim leaders in several countries, including Egypt and Indonesia, have formally condemned him and his church, the Dove World Outreach Center. An Islamic group in England has also incorporated his efforts into a YouTube video that encourages Muslims to “rise up and act,” widening a concern that Mr. Jones — though clearly a fringe figure with only 50 members in his church — could spark riots or terrorism.
“Can you imagine what this will do to our image around the world?” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. “And the additional danger it will add whenever there is an American presence in Iraq or Afghanistan?”
Mr. Jones, in a lengthy interview at his church, said he sincerely hoped that his planned Koran-burning would not lead to violence. He dismissed the idea that it could put American troops at greater risk, and — echoing his sermons — he said that his church was being persecuted.
He said his bank recently demanded immediate repayment of the $140,000 balance on the church mortgage; that his property insurance had been canceled since he announced in late July that he intended to burn copies of the Koran; and that death threats now come in regularly.
So what do you think about all of this? Is the media giving him too much attention? Should we ignore Pastor Terry, or, should we rally around him and his congregations first amendment rights of free expression? Or, do you agree that his actions could bring undue suffering to our troops and citizens here and abroad? And why aren't Christians standing with him?