The changes surrounding Pastor Terry Jones announcement to burn the Koran (Quran) may outlive the point of this article. The latest round of news is that Jones may cancel the burning; or not.
Before addressing the wisdom of burning the Koran it is far more important to address the reactions newsmen, writers and the public have made to Pastor Terry Jones’ plans to light up the Koran.
He has been called a media monger, publicity hound and a nut besides other names I am not at liberty to mention here. So far, with the exception of highly controversial websites hidden in the backwaters of the internet no one has used these kinds of names to refer to Imam Rauf. Even after speaking in what can be seen as threatening tones about worldwide Muslim reaction if the Ground Zero mosque is not built, no one has yet called Rauf a nut. Is it fear or hypocrisy? You decide.
Top conservative newsmen and pundits have been referring to Pastor Jones in terms that don’t seem like they belong in responsible journalism. They may refer to him in any way they like as they skim across this story that is changing at the speed of light all the while they feed sound bites and opinion to the rest of us.
I would refer them to an article I wrote in September 2009 entitled “Newsmen Do Not Decide what is Good and Evil – A question of Ducks or Eagles.” Very few newscasters are theologians or religious experts and all they say about such issues are limited by that fact. Beyond that, with or without theological training, character assassination is not part of good journalism.
If we are going to examine Pastor Jones’ motivation for burning the Koran we might want to ask him about it in person. Fox News has said they won’t lend any credence to the Pastor by repeated reports about his plans. The story remains at the top of the news cycle nevertheless, even though as yet, no one from Fox has done an interview with the Reverend. Is no speak part of no spin? Here is where hypocrisy is showing its ugly head yet again.
Is this the first plan to burn a so-called holy book in recent times? For the record we must be reminded that in 2009 the United States military was ordered to burn a pile of Bibles that were printed in Afghanistan’s two main dialects of Pashto and Dari. The Bibles came by way of a church that wanted the soldiers to be able to witness (share their faith) to Muslims. The motive for sending the Bibles was innocent enough and they were burned so the Muslims would not take offence from soldiers who would be seen as trying to pull them out of their Islamic beliefs. Where was the American outcry at the burning of these Bibles? You’re right, there was none.
Jones is overwhelmed by news organizations that are encroaching on his church and home and reports indicate that there are more news people hovering around him than he has members in his congregation. With or without an exclusive interview it is not hard to surmise what the preacher’s motivations are; in fact, it is the same reasoning that hundreds if not thousands of other Christian pastors share in the United States.
Not everyone in America agrees with the idea that Islam is one of the world’s great religions. Many think that the Koran was satanically inspired and although they see no good in burning the book they will nevertheless preach against its veracity and question its derivation. With that in mind it is easy to see why burning the book, to some, is just an outward sign of an inward conviction.
The Bible that conservative theologians and preachers teach from has a book burning story as well. In the first thirty years after Christ’s resurrection the book of Acts describes the birth of the church along with the early ministries of both Peter and Paul. While staying in Ephesus for two years the Apostle Paul had such good success at bringing people to the gospel message that many of them brought him their books of sorcery and black arts and Paul proceeded to burn them.
Here is where we can see one possible motivation for burning the Koran. Knowing that many preachers see the Koran as a 1,400 year old satanically inspired lie is motive enough for wanting it burned along with any other works of darkness. Rather than being hypocrisy or anti-Muslim behavior it is in keeping with both their beliefs in the Bible and the example of their predecessors.
How much of Jones’ motivation to burn is a reaction to the building of a mosque at Ground Zero is another matter we can only guess at. Suffice it to say that since seventy percent of Americans don’t want the mosque at Ground Zero either, Pastor Jones may be more demonstrative and more vociferous than most of us but he is no less American.
I find only two difficult points to deal with; one is the safety of our troops in Afghanistan as General Petraeus has indicated in his request not to burn. Yet even this issue shows that there are always two sides to the coin.
Ann Coulter, always known for her forward if not caustic responses to events, said in Townhall.com that perhaps the General should announce that the Muslims have won; and send our troops home. Isn’t the rage of those who think they can take innocent lives for any reason imagined or real the reason we are in Afghanistan in the first place? As I recall, it was a group of screaming Muslims who slammed an aircraft into the Trade Towers that got this thing kicked off at the first, will it end by our giving in to another group of screaming Muslims so they can build a mosque in the place where they did the deed? I’d like to call this just another absurdity but to be honest; it looks more like just another piece of hypocrisy.
The other difficulty I see is that now the Westboro Baptist Church has decided to get behind Jones and even burn the Koran themselves if he does not. Westboro Baptist is the church that sends people to march in protest at the funerals of slain American servicemen. They claim that these servicemen have died as a judgment from God due to our promotion of the gay lifestyle.
I still believe the Bible record that says homosexuality is sinful but I cannot accept that it is directly related to the deaths of our servicemen. Yet, even if I could believe in this connection I still believe that interfering with the funerals of our fallen servicemen and their grieving families is as close to sacrilege as we can get.
Many hope that Jones does not link up with Westboro Baptist and I am among them. In this time of scathing criticism and controversy Pastor Jones may be seeking a friend and a kind voice but we hope this will not be the reason he sides with Westboro.
Finally, as far as hypocrisy goes, once again the biggest one of all it seems is coming from the president. On the evening of September 9, 2010 the media began to report that President Obama may call Pastor Jones and request that he call off the burning of the Koran. Now millions of Americans will be asking this question: will the President be calling Imam Rauf and asking that he move the site of the mosque to somewhere else in New York? The nation is watching.
It can be argued that Pastor Terry Jones is only following his conscience as it pertains to the Koran. He believes it is satanically inspired and would constitute something the Scriptures refer to as the doctrine of devils. On the other hand the media crush to label him everything from a nut to something worse has no scriptural proof text, no connection to decency and considering the beating we have taken from those who believe in the Koran it leaves us to wonder what to call the media. Hypocritical might work but maybe it’s too soon to tell just yet. While we’re waiting here is a bit of reading from the scripture to occupy.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1Timothy 4:1, 2)
Copyright ©2010 Rev. Michael Bresciani