Un-Christian behavior on the part of an attention-seeking ‘pastor’ and his 30-person fringe church in Gainsville, Florida, has led Muslim extremists in Afghanistan to savagely murder innocent people.
Terry Jones, the 58-year-old pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, presided over what he called an “International Judge the Koran Day” on March 20, in which he supervised the burning of Islam’s holy book in front of some 50 people.
In response Afghan Muslims attacked a U.N. compound in Mazar-e Sharif, savagely slaughtering seven U.N. employees. On Saturday, related protests in Kandahar left nine dead and more than 90 injured.
Reportedly two of the U.N. workers were beheaded.
Jones told news services he does not feel responsible for the deaths. The Telegraph quotes him as saying:
“We don’t feel responsible for that. Of course, that is what they used. Of course that is very obvious and they’re actually saying that. But of course Islam, and as we see their history, I believe they will use any excuse and if they don’t have an excuse, they will simply use the excuse that America is in Afghanistan, America is involved in Islamic countries and they should get out.
“So they will use any excuse they can. Plus, I think, that’s very dangerous for us to approach it from that direction because, to a certain extent, what that says is the killing of people is wrong, we are making that statement, we’re saying what they did is wrong, but at the same time you were provoked.”
To a large extend the savage murders — on the part of barbarians driven by what can only be viewed as religious insanity — go a long way toward proving Jones’ view that the Koran is a dangerous book. Indeed, the lengthy and ongoing history of Islam-inspired violence ranging from so-called ‘honor killings’ to acts of terrorism, demonstrate that Islam has a long way to go before it sheds its historic moniker as the ‘religion with the sword.’
But Jones’ approach to Islam is ill-advised, deplorable and un-Christian.
The Rev. Terry Jones had threatened to burn the text in September, in the midst of a controversy over plans to develop an Islamic center near the site of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan. He was eventually dissuaded through the pleas of religious leaders and government officials, including a phone call from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
But when Jones announced in January that he was going to “put the Koran on trial,” he said he didn’t hear a single complaint. On March 20, Jones dressed in a judicial robe and ordered a copy of the Koran to be torched in a portable fire pit.
“It’s like people forgot about us,” Jones said Saturday. “But we kept doing what we do.”
The Bible teaches that Christians should treat others — including real or perceived enemies — with gentleness and respect. It is perfectly OK to disagree with a certain religion or with someone’s religious beliefs while in the process presenting and defending the message of the Bible. But when that is done in ways that counter the very teachings of the Bible, the message is lost and the messenger is exposed as a hypocrite.
Add to this the fact that Terry Jones lied. The Washington Post says Jones
has been accused by those who intervened in September of breaking his promise not to burn the Koran — a point he concedes. “If you want to be technical,” he said, “I guess we broke our word.”
He added, “We thought twice about it.”
But in the end, his desire to shed light on what he calls a “dangerous book” won out. The Koran was burned in a spectacle streamed live on the Internet. To reach out to Muslims overseas, Jones included Arabic subtitles.
“For some of them,” he said, “it could be an awakening.”
Jones’ 29-year-old son, Luke, says:
“We’re not big debaters. We’re not very well-educated,” Luke Jones said. “We’re just simple people trying to do the right thing.”
Many of Jesus’ disciples were not big debaters or well-educated either. But they learned what it meant to do the right thing by observing what Jesus did. He taught by example. Then he had them do it, under his supervision. And next he sent them out two by two to do the stuff he had taught them to do.
The Jones’ and their followers could learn a lot from that.