There are occasions when I say to people
“I’m a Christian”
that those people get a look on their face that seems to say what they heard was
“Do you mind if I take a shit on your floor?”
I see that look too often and it always disappoints me. At the same time, I can understand why I get those looks, comments or even insults. It’s because of people like Pastor Terry Jones, a preacher from Florida. He’s the man who thought it would be a good idea to commemorate 9/11 by burning the Islāmic holy book, the Qur’an on the lawn of his Church.
He wasn’t just planning to burn one copy of the Qur’an on his lawn. What he wanted to do was to start the first ‘International Burn A Koran Day’ where he wanted Christians everywhere to go out and burn Qur’ans on the lawns of churches around the world.
There are many reasons why this is an incredibly misguided and stupid idea. Let’s start with the image of burning anything on the lawn in front of a Church in the southern United States. Sound familiar? To everyone other than Pastor Terry Jones, it does. How many times have we seen photographs and film footage of crosses burning in front of the black churches of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida? And the Ku Klux Klan were famous for their loving liberal attitudes weren’t they?
He doesn’t just want to burn anything on lawns. He wants to burn books. The burning of books doesn’t have any bad connotations at all does it?
So, with one brief suggestion on his website and in his chapel, Pastor Jones has linked himself to the KKK and the Nazis! He’s not the greatest of PR men really.
Yet another reason it’s a stupid idea is because Islam didn’t crash two aircraft into the World Trade Centre 9 years ago. 19 fanatics did. That those 19 men were Muslim, doesn’t mean that everyone of that faith is a crazed fundamentalist killer whose only thought is to wipe out western civilization.
The logic of Pastor Jones’ thinking defies me. That he clothes his publicity-seeking behaviour as Christianity, is personally insulting to me. I believe in a loving, caring God. I believe in the God of Matthew 7:120 which says that we should
“do unto others as you would have others do unto you”
I believe in the God of Matthew 5:43-44 who gave us the Golden Rule. That commandment which He says is more important than all others.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
The enemy isn’t Islam. The enemy is terrorism, fundamentalism, extremism, and people like Pastor Terry Jones who twist the meaning of the great religions to suit their own needs. Tonight, Jones announced he has cancelled his planned Qur’an burning after he apparently got agreement from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf not to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Centre. The Imam has of course denied any such thing happened. So now, Pastor Jones is ‘rethinking’ his decision to cancel. Not that there’s been a lot of thinking involved in the first place.
The irony that Jones is the Pastor of a pentecostal church called the Dove World Outreach Centre seems to have passed him by as he attempted to alienate a huge proportion of the world. It won’t surprise you that it has now come to light that Jones is self-taught, self-ordained, and apparently ‘a delusional personality’ according to Sky News.
I suppose I’m going to have to endure a lot more furtive looks and snide comments for a while. I’ll cope with that.
I notice that in this little rant of mine I’ve included a lot of quotes. I’m sorry if you’re not a Christian but I’m going to finish with two other quotes for you all. First, here is Matthew 5:9
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”
And finally, for the non-believers among my dear readers, my last quote is from Heinrich Heine:
“Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings”