As Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center gets ready to burn copies of the Koran at his Gainesville, Florida church this Saturday (September 11), many national voices are calling for him to change his plans. House Minority Leader John Boehner, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and RGA Chairman Haley Barbour have all criticized the planned Koran burning. And Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander of the Afghanistan War, has gone as far as to say that the plan could put American troops in danger.
But as Jones forges full-speed ahead with his incendiary event, some of the nation’s most prominent Islamophobic voices have expressed their opposition (though usually with caveats), to Jones’ idea….
Pamela Geller is one of the most prominent opponents of Park51, the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero. She’s called the plans akin to “stab[bing] Americans in the eye,” and railed against a plan by the credit company MasterCard to offer a special card for Muslims: “If they don’t want to live under the most advanced humane civilization in the history of man, let them go back to those barbaric countries that live under sharia. I am cutting up my mastercard tonight. Master, my ass. Bloody slaves. Financing jihad and anti-western economics.” She also told TPM last month that “it is very dangerous to want to leave Islam. It’s not all of them, not the majority. The majority are secular Muslims.”
Which might be why she wrote on her Atlas Shrugged blog on Monday:
The 911 quran burning in Florida is a dumb idea. I don’t support such acts. Book burnings are always a bad idea. But Muslims have nothing to fear from those Christians. It is insensitive for that church to burn the quran, but it is still a free country, is it not? Islamic supremacists can’t whine about “insensitivity” while planning to erect a 15-story mega mosque on Ground Zero. Meanwhile, Muslims across the world are going nuts of the book burning, “death to America.”
Florida Pastor Bill Keller launched a 9-11 Christian Center near Ground Zero over the weekend, calling Islam a “1,400-year-old lie.” As Justin Elliott pointed out at Salon, his project’s website also calls “Islam a religion of ‘hate and death’ whose adherents will go to hell. It also says: ‘Islam is a wonderful religion… for PEDOPHILES!’”
But Keller too is not on board with the whole Koran-burning thing. According to Elliott, Keller said that “this stunt is just stupid” and there is “no biblical support for such a thing” and “it does nothing to advance the Gospel in any way.”
Conservative blogger Frank Gaffney made a web video in opposition to Park51 that says: “If we let them defile Ground Zero with a beachhead for sharia we will validate their sense of victory on 9/11 and encourage future attacks on America. No mosque at Ground Zero.” He also wrote that “the twin towers were destroyed on 9/11 by adherents to the barbaric, supremacist and totalitarian program authoritative Islam calls ‘Shariah.’”
But in a post called “Oppose Shariah, Don’t Burn the Quran” for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government blog, Gaffney wrote:
One can properly object, in principle, to book burnings of any kind. Or, one can argue that the publicity-hungry pastor of a tiny Gainesville congregation may have the legal right to burn Qurans, but - to paraphrase President Obama on the Ground Zero mosque - it would not be wise or right to exercise it. Either way, those who oppose shariah in America should also oppose this stunt.
Pastor Robert Jeffress, of the First Baptist Church of Dallas says Islam has a “deep, dark, dirty secret” — that it “promotes pedophilia - sex with children. This so-called prophet Muhammad raped a 9-year-old girl - had sex with her.” He’s also called Islam “oppressive,” “violent,” and “evil,” but that “the worst thing about Islam is that it is a deception that leads people from the true God.”
But, in an email to TPM, Jeffress said: “We would never condone violence against Muslims or any group because of their faith. However, one should not equate criticism of Islam with a hatred for Muslims.” And he had this to say about Jones’ plan:
I do not agree with Pastor Jones’ plans to burn the Koran. Although I believe that Islam is a false religion, I believe there are more effective ways of proclaiming that truth. People can be so offended by a method that they fail to hear the message.
Top social conservative Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the American Family Association, thinks the U.S. should build “no more mosques, period.” This is because “every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for jihad” and thus “you cannot claim first amendment protections if your religious organization is engaged in subversive activities.”
But that doesn’t mean he thinks people should burn copies of the Koran either:
Pastor Terry Jones intends to burn copies of the Qur’an at his church on 9/11. It’s not something I would do were I still in the pastorate, and not something I recommend.
So far the ACLU, which will defend anybody, anywhere, at anytime who puts a torch to the American flag, has been conspicuously silent in defending Rev. Jones’ right to free expression.
But the response to Rev. Jones’ plan proves something we have been saying from the beginning: Islam is a religion of violence, not a religion of peace.
RedState blogger and CNN contributor Eric Erickson compared the right of Park51 plans to go forward to the right of people to perform human sacrifice: “What about the Greater First Church of Satan wanting to do human sacrifice of a willing victim? I guess our founding principles demand the President support that too. After all, it is a religious belief and only willing participants.”
But, he said of Jones’ plan:
Now, all that said, I think this pastor in Florida is terribly misguided. The message of Christ is one of grace and hope. Christians are told to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [Christ] ha[s] commanded.”
Burinng korans does not accomplish that. Neither, I am certain, does it glorify God in any way, shape, or form — particularly knowing with certainty, whether we like it or not, that this act of a Christian church showing not love, but hate, will incite people to violence.
I would encourage this pastor to stand down — but I’m not going to wring my hands over it. If not this, there’ll just be something else causing riots in the “Arab Street.” This is just today’s excuse.
Though he managed to couch it in a criticism of both Gen. Petraeus and Islam:
More specifically, Petraeus’s actions teach the same lesson to both us and the Islamists that the Mohammed cartoon did: Islamists learned if they are sufficiently violent Western governments and elites will fold like a cheap suit and we learned that Islam, as practiced by large swaths of the muslim world, is a violent religion that apparently can’t operate in tandem with a civil society.
And, of course, no pundit-babble would be complete without the input of Sarah Palin, who called on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the Park51 plans in a now-infamous tweet:
Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate
But today, Palin tweeted a link to a Facebook post called “Koran Burning Is Insensitive, Unnecessary; Pastor Jones, Please Stand Down” that said: “Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation - much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.”
I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire. If your ultimate point is to prove that the Christian teachings of mercy, justice, freedom, and equality provide the foundation on which our country stands, then your tactic to prove this point is totally counter-productive.