Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crazy Florida pastor shelves plan to burn Islam's holy book on September 11th

Good news... Religious intolerance won't be begetting religious intolerance in Gainesville, Florida, this Saturday. The New York Times reports:
Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who set the world on edge with plans to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, said Thursday that he had canceled his demonstration.

But the global controversy he started — drawing pointed criticism from President Obama and an array of leaders, officials and celebrities in the United States and abroad — stirred new questions and concerns even as he announced its end.
Specifically:
Mr. Jones said he called off the burning in return for a promise to move a proposed mosque in New York City to a new location far from ground zero.

That supposed deal, announced here on the lawn of Mr. Jones’s church, does not appear to exist.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said in a statement that he had not spoken to Mr. Jones or Imam Muhammad Musri, the Orlando, Fla., imam who joined Mr. Jones for his announcement. Even Mr. Musri, after praising Mr. Jones for terminating his plans, contradicted the Pentecostal pastor, noting he had not brokered a deal but rather a meeting.
My suspicion about what happened is this: Jones came under so much pressure, even from fellow fundamentalists, that he decided to cancel his "demonstration". But to save face, he announced that he had extracted this concession involving the Park51 project in New York, which was dishonest.

That way, it looks to his followers like he won, instead of being forced to back down by cooler minds. I wonder, though... there must be at least some fundamentalists who will be unhappy with Jones for calling off the book-burning.

By the way, if you haven't yet stumbled across a profile of Jones, but have assumed based on his rhetoric that he's a kook, you're right.

The New York Times writes that Jones "stutters a bit in his sermons and calls himself doctor based on an honorary degree from an unaccredited Bible school."

It figures.

His "church" is so poorly attended that the property it sits on is for sale. "It has been mostly empty during recent services, with no more than a few dozen congregants, many of them family members," the New York Times reported. "The smell of dust and mildew wafts out from the piles of used furniture that Mr. Jones sells on eBay when he is not preaching."

Contrary to what Jones has implied, there is no understanding between he and the imam who is working on the Park51 project.

The Orlando imam who joined Jones' press conference merely set up a meeting, which has no implications for the fate of the Park51 project. The developer has stated he does not intend to move the project. We applaud that stance. Religious liberty doesn't mean anything if it isn't exercised.

Opponents of the Park51 project haven't offered a single good reason why the project should not proceed. And they can't, because their opposition is based on intolerance. Even the name they use for the project — "Ground Zero mosque", which the media has stupidly picked up on — is a misnomer. The Park51 project is not a mosque and it is not located at the World Trade Center site.

As Americans, we do not advance the cause of freedom by denigrating Islam, one of the world's largest religions. Displays of intolerance may be protected by the First Amendment, but they are un-American.

In the same vein, Christians who preach hatred for other religions are violating the teachings of Jesus Christ, which are recorded in the Gospels.

Matthew 5:43-52 (New American Standard Bible):
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?

Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The words of actions of Jones and his ilk are offensive and demeaning to the world's many practicing Christians. Muslims around the world should understand that these people in no way represent what the Christian faith is all about, just as Osama bin Laden and his followers are not representative of Islam.

POSTSCRIPT: Jones has changed course, apparently aware that his gambit to save face has failed. The bonfire is now only "suspended", not "canceled". Meanwhile, the sickos at Fred Phelps' "Westboro Baptist Church" are whining that Jones is getting lots of attention when they didn't for something similar they claimed that they did two years ago.

They're threatening to burn the Islamic holy book if Jones doesn't.

It's time we stopped giving these fringe fanatics attention. Jones is only drawing condemnation from generals and world leaders because the traditional media couldn't resist playing up this story. There are some things that simply don't deserve to be reported. This is a good example of one.

They should follow the lead of Rackspace Hosting, which took down Jones' websites after they learned of his hate speech. Hate speech is against their business policies.

If Jones does proceed with his nefarious plans on Saturday, he will not be acknowledged here, nor will we participate in the transmission of any images, audio, or video of his hateful and disgusting act.

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