Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yet Another Ignominious Nobody Finds Fame Through Islamophobia: Burning A Holy Book in Commemoration of 9/11

Mr Jones says he sincerely hopes burning Korans will not lead to violence.
Picture and caption from BBC News, Profile: Dove World Outreach Center

Despite Pastor Jones sincere hopes, burning Qurans will lead to violence, and the plan for doing so already has.

The once obscure minister to a congregation of less than 50, with a heavy mortgage debt ($140,000 which the Royal Bank of Canada has now decided to call in full), and precious little in the way of an international following for his "Dove World Outreach Center", the Pastor now has international news outlets reporting on him 24/7.

As an aficionado of protest rallies against pornography stores, abortion centres, and for the  9/11 2009 commemoration, Pastor Jones has now garnered protesters of his own.

Protesters burned an effigy of Mr Jones in Kabul, BBC News

The Pastor's own perseverations:

Undermining Christianity

I once took a Comparative Literature course on the Bible, taught by a Master of Divinity, PhD in Literature, who was teaching the literary structuring and impact of the Bible. One of the offended Doctors of Divinity in this (second year BA) course boomed from the back of the amphitheatre, in his best Sunday sermon voice, "You are undermining Christiantiy!". The senior professor and administrator squinted up through his pop bottle lenses, looked quizzically for a moment, and then proceeded through his lecture notes. Nice Anglican former preacher that he was, the professor never questioned the divine origins of the Bible, but focused instead on its history in human hands, particularly in the writing hands who composed the great literary works inspired by or suffused with it.

Not so Pastor Jones, who confidently holds forth on goodness and evil as if he himself were sitting at the right hand of God. While his whole project is an embarrassment to Christianity, and meets the very definition of the grotesque--simultaneously laughable and horrific (like a gargoyle)--his "amplification" of the Bible is particularly noteworthy.
From Acts 19 (Amplified)

18Many also of those who were now believers came making full confession and thoroughly exposing their [former deceptive and evil] practices.

19And many of those who had practiced curious, magical arts collected their books and [throwing them, book after book, on the pile] burned them in the sight of everybody. When they counted the value of them, they found it amounted to 50,000 pieces of silver (about $9,300).

20Thus the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] grew and spread and intensified, prevailing mightily.
From the Dove World Outreach Blog, 10 Reasons to Burn a Koran
Please note that in the Biblical account of book burning, even in the Pastor's amplified version, those who converted from their previous beliefs to Christianity, c. 52-54 CE, voluntarily burned THEIR OWN copies of THEIR OWN previous religion's texts.
Acts 19 King James Version [Unamplified]
[18] And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
[19] Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
[20] So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
From The Oxford Text Archive, courtesy of the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative
Does Pastor Jones then wish lapsed Christians to burn Bibles? Or does he wish Muslims to spontaneously embrace Jesus as the Son of God, and burn Qurans? Given that Acts 19 describes the missionary journeys of St Paul through Asia Minor, should all Greeks and Hellenophiles burn their Ancient Greek books? In light of the number of great ancient civilizations that marked Anatolia pre-Christianity and pre-Islam, will Turks have the most variety of books to burn? Since the full "Acts of the Apostles" describes the Apostolic era of spreading Christianity after the death of Jesus, and includes St Peter's missions among the Hebrews, should all Jews burn a Torah? Should the Israelis be helping by organizing the latter on a national and international level?

Since the Gainesville Florida Fire Department has refused to issue a license for the burning, could the Gainesville police arrest the book burners? Before or after they torch a Quran? Would it help prevent any violence if they did?

Would it be too much to ask of Pastor Jones, and his flock of <50, that while they "weigh" and "pray" on what to do about the potential ramifications of their International Quran Burning Day, they come up with a little guidance on that issue of which books we should be Biblically burning--especially for us Comparatists who are likely to be crippled by indecision over the plethora of choices on our bookshelves? Forgot. The good Pastor has specifically determined that Islam is of the Devil, hence the title of his book, and the specificity of his book burning day.

It must be nice to be sitting on the right hand of God.

Michelangelo's The Last Judgment, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Cathedral, Vatican City

Or has Pastor Jones simply elevated narcissism to self-deification?

Isn't that blasphemous?

Could Pastor Jones have targeted any other faith group, and proceeded to action despite knowledgeable predictions of resulting violence to Americans in combat zones, without being charged with hate speech?

At what point does one become a Benedict Arnold?

What constitutes high crimes and misdemeanours?

Speaking of which, where is the Commander-in-Chief on this? American religious leaders of all faiths have spoken out against this. So has UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. What does President Obama have to say about it? Is he leaving it strictly in the hands of General David Petraeus? Has he sent out Hillary Clinton to take the fall? Is he leaving the heavy lifting to the Vatican? Is he too quelled by mosque commentary and upcoming elections?

The Last Judgment, indeed.

Fra Angelico, The Last Judgment, San Marco, Florence

Your comments, thoughts, impressions?

Obama urges Fla. pastor to call off Koran burning
Koran-Burning Church’s Website Yanked From Internet
Gainesville Pastor Cancels Quran Burning
Federal Agents Visit Hours After President Urges Pastor To Call Off 'Stunt'

Fla. minister cancels burning of Qurans on 9/11
Pastor Cancels Koran Burning and Plans to Meet Imam


Anonymous said...

I know many Muslims are getting pretty worked up about this, but for some reason, I simply do not give two hoots. Burning the book is not destroying the message and I do genuinely think there's more to the Qur'an than paper and ink.

The best thing to happen is for the day to pass, the church to have its two minutes of fame burning a couple of copies of the Qur'an and the world to carry on as normal.

oby said...

Good Heaven's... round two!!! Sigh...

For this I would argue the same thing I did for Park 51...

Is burning the Qur'ans illegal? No it isn't. Can they do it? Yes they can, but once again the question is not can they but should they? No they should not.

It isn't a question of legalities...IMO as with Park 51 it is a question of ethics and having some humanity. Just because we can poke our neighbor in the eye legally doesn't mean we should exercise that right.

We have to live together and if something is very hurtful to our neighbor I think it bears reconsideration.

I hope that, as I said when Park 51 gets built people who are offended don't do anything illegal or stupid. I can only say the same thing here. If and when it happens I hope that people will not do stupid things to show their displeasure. Protest...OK, burning bibles...OK, violence...not OK.

Countrygirl said...

Burning any kind of books is one of the greatest sins i can imagine but it's in the rights of this so called pastor to do Shafiq well said it's only a book you don't destroy the message.

But there's a question you see often that so called artists direspect Christians religious symbols (eg Madonna who crys sperm and if i recall correctly a so called artist put a holy cross in a human waste) there's an uproar for sure but for sure not of this magnitude, why islam and christianity are treated differentely when their symbols are dessecrated?

I'm for the freedom of expression, if someone wants to burn the bible i think he's a jerk but it's is right to do so, if someone want to poke fun at christianity (eg Life of Brian) i would probabily have a good laught, if someone want to criticize christianity no problem (and other religions as well) but why if someone want to do the same thing to islam he's branded as an Islamophobic.

Sorry for the rant

oby said...


I do see your point about being called an islamophobe if they poke fun at Islam. Non muslims have a rich history at poking fun at their own and others faiths. Sometimes it is in good humor and not distasteful and other times like "piss Christ" it is in very poor taste.

For me it goes to the way people poke fun. I don't think one is islamophobic if one pokes fun at islam and other faiths in a good natured the way that there is "truth in jest". Where I personally start to become uncomfortable is when it becomes very disrespectful and hurtful and not only to Islam but other faiths as well. That makes me feel like why are we deliberately trying to hurt people? and not just Muslims...that philosophy applies to all for me.

That is where the freedom of speech kicks in to protect those knuckleheads because most people WOULD find it offensive and try to force the situation.

The difference between most faiths and Islam (and I don't pretend to know why this is) is that most faiths don't allow the few knuckleheads of the world to get to them and they maintain their dignity and move on without trying to shut down freedom of speech. Muslims have a tendency to go crazy over fairly minor things... I wish they would just let some things not get to them. There will always be knuckleheads in the world who seek to ruffle ones feathers. To over react to each slight just gives these jerks more ammunition.

Wendy said...

Yes, he has the right to do it but considering what else is happening right now I would say that the guy is morally bankrupt and has no clue of what a Christian should be.

Susanne said...

I think it's crazy that the media gave this guy all this free publicity! Why could they not have ignored him from the get go?

I enjoyed all the comments. Why IS it that Muslims in particular seem to go crazy when people (like Terry Jones) are just being idiots? Or maybe others do go crazy and resort to violence and we just seldom see it due to our Islamophobic media? Hmmm

I love Shafiq's reaction to it all. Good advice!

oby said...


He is an extremist in my book. No he is not being Christian...well maybe a radical version of it, but certainly I can't think of any Christian that would call what he is doing Christian actions. I have not looked at his website or any videos he has made (if he has) but I would bet that at the moment it is Muslims he is going on about...but he probably says the same thing about anyone who isn't Christian...his version of Christian. To my mind that is no different than all the Muslim extremists who think that anyone not Muslim "will burn in hellfire" and all the stupid imams who teach their followers that junk.

Anonymous said...

It's been cancelled? And apparently, the not really a Mosque, not really at Ground Zero is being re-located?

Can anyone state-side confirm this? And if it is true, well then everything's sorted - just in time for Eid :)

Chiara said...

Thank you for all your comments.

Just quickly, I updated the post with the excellent news that the Quran burning is cancelled, essentially because it puts American troops at risk, the Pastor's website is down, because he violated rules about inciting to violence and hate speech, and Obama FINALLY spoke out, and the FBI went in to the Pastor's place of worship.

The Park51 project is still going forward as planned according to the news here. The Imam gave an interview to Soledad O'Brien for the Larry King Show and was clear that moving it would likely lead to problems with radical extremist Muslims overseas, ie a similar risk to Americans. He was also clear about his work and his intent which is peace making and bridge building.

The 2, the Pastor and the Imam, are very different in their approach, stated intent, and track record. The one inflames and incites to hatred, the other is a true proponent of interfaith harmony, and the State Dept seems to think so too.

The Imam's comments post 9-11 about American foreign policy being part of the issue for extremist (and other Muslims) was no different than a number of people stated at the time, and have since, now that the crisis reactions have passed. He never condoned the actions, he was making that statement within a discussion of causation.

Also he condemned the violence of Hamas, without condemning the whole organization which like the IRA has a military and a political wing.

The update on the post links to some interesting articles on the Pastor.

Let us all hope/pray for a very calm 9/11 commemoration.

Eid Mubarak!

Chiara said...

Good grief! Spoke too soon:

Koran burning may be on again

The guy really is enjoying the power he is getting out of this.

Hopefully the government will use some of those war measures at their disposal to decide this planned action is too high risk for American troops. That would be normal recourse at a time of war, which the US is in.


oby said...

"Can anyone state-side confirm this? And if it is true, well then everything's sorted - just in time for Eid :)"

Shafiq...I love your laid back reaction. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oby, thank you. It's been almost 9 years since 9/11, which means i've had 9 years to get used to the changes in the world. If i still let stuff like this get to me, then shame on me.

Another interesting thing happened today during the eid sermon. The imam said 'Have you asked yourselves why this man is doing what he is? We as Muslims are partly to blame.' he then went on to say we should pray for the guy and not react in anyway whatsoever. I've never in my 20 year life ever heard an Imam discuss a topic that's even mildly political in a traditional mosque setting - so this was a pleasant surprise.

countrygirl said...

Sorry Chiara but i don't agree with you how can the Iman be a bridge builder when the majority of the american are against this project, and now he's saying if i can't built the mosque you will see problems with radical muslim...thisi s blackmailing.

He condemned the violenence of Hamas but what about Hamas the organization that has in own charter:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

oby said...

The imam said 'Have you asked yourselves why this man is doing what he is? We as Muslims are partly to blame.' he then went on to say we should pray for the guy and not react in anyway whatsoever."

Yes, a very refreshing attitude indeed. I just can't help feel that if Muslims didn't react to people who are doing things either for attention or to get a reaction, incidents like this would lose their power. I mean what fun is it if your best efforts cause no reaction, right?

My mom used to tell me to never give a bully the power to decide for you how you will react to a situation. Ignore them and it will take the wind out of their sails and they wind up looking like the silly ones.

oby said...


"and now he's saying if i can't built the mosque you will see problems with radical muslims"

I do agree with you that it is a very concerning statement. Rauf might be right in his assessment, but that statement goes to a much bigger issue than Park 51. If we are going to cower to the radicals at each turn because they might not like something then we are allowing them to control our country and our world and what the hell were these stupid wars and trillions of dollars spent for then? We could have saved many lives Muslim and non, and a boat load of tax dollars if the end result is going to be the same. And that pisses me off.

It is indeed blackmail...I don't agree with the bookburning, but this guy was an insignificant nobody who was going to burn some Korans with 50 misguided people. It SHOULD have passed by without notice. Let them have their little bon fire and get on with life. Instead the world is on high alert not even because of terrorists, but because of Muslims who don't like it and are getting whipped into a frenzy (where have we heard that before?)and might cause violence.

What is wrong with this picture? I don't see Rauf calling off his project because of fear of his life. And he shouldn't have to. The president didn't ask him to cease and desist because he was concerned with violence breaking out. He supported Rauf's constitutional rights. This reaction by the world to this tiny insignificant man and his infintessimally small congregation with fear of violence to such a degree that they have to issue travel warnings and embassy alerts has made me realize that we have a MUCH MUCH bigger problem in this world than Ground Zero mosques and burning Korans.

And now my fear is how much worse will it get? People will cower only so long and then they get PISSED.


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