The Dove World Outreach Center, a Florida church, has launched a campaign promoting International Burn a Koran Day on September 11. The burning is to take place on their property.
But there’s a problem. Gainesville fire ordinances don’t allow an open book-burning without a burn permit, and city officials have denied the permit to the church. Gainesville Fire Chief Gene Prince said the church will be fined if it stages the book-burning. Mayor Craig Lowe says, “I support and respect the decision.” No friend of the church, the mayor has called Dove World Outreach a “tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community.” In Florida, that’s saying something.
The church’s response to all this? An email notice declaring, "City of Gainesville denies burn permit – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS." His will be done.
Apparently, this isn’t the first time inflammatory rhetoric has spewed forth from the Dove World Outreach Center. In 2009, they made a splash in the press when they distributed “Islam is of the Devil” T-shirts. The arch-conservative church has a website with a video that opens with ominous music and their senior pastor carping about abortion, homosexuality, and the usual litany of right-wing bugaboos that Jesus never talked about. I don’t think scroll-burning was part of his agenda, either.
Their senior pastor, crusty old Dr. Terry Jones, positions himself as an enlightened and tolerant man who agrees that, in America, people have the right to worship as they please. And he has no problem with Muslims. But he does have a problem with Islam, which he calls deceptive, violent, and oppressive. He says the Koran calls for the killing of non-believers (has this guy ever read about Moses and Joshua, or at least the Crusades?), and he caps his argument with the terrifying prospect that, if we tolerate Islam in America, we could end up like Europe.
Sigh... Exactly when did Europe become such a bad place? They're our sister democracies; the people closer to our history and heritage than anyone else on earth. And by a lot of measures, they get higher grades than we do. When did they cease to be the exotic, sophisticated internationalists we admire in the movies? Today, they're cast as economic slaves of Orwellian regimes where “freedom” is an unknown concept, people stand in line for months after a heart attack, 95% of their income goes to the government, nobody owns a small business, and school children are trained to be eco-communists who wuss out of every war.
As for the Koran burning... I have no more use for Islam than I do for any other religion. But really, the whole book-burning thing ought to make Christians of any stripe blush when the idea is brought up. It never occured to Dr. Jones that having Christians solve a problem by book-burning is really bad PR? No alarms go off? It doesn’t make your skin crawl…just a little??
Anyway, let's see what happens on September 11. Maybe I'll send them a few of my own books, at least to fire up the barbecue.