Just as I sat down to write about the Quran-burning controversy, the story changed. Then it changed again. Terry Jones, the pastor of this tiny church in Gainesville, Florida, first called off the Quran burning. This undoubtedly was a great disappointment to the media that hyped the non-story into a story.
Jones says he did so because the imam who was pushing for the Ground Zero Mosque had agreed to move the mosque to a different location. Apparently, this was news to Iman Rauf, who almost immediately refuted the claim.
Then later, Jones said he was lied to about the mosque being moved, so his Quran burning is merely suspended, not officially called off. By the time you read this, the story may have taken another twist. Frankly, I’m having a hard time keeping up with it.
What have we got here? I don’t know Mr. Jones. Obviously, I won’t be the first person to denounce his original plan; neither am I alone in that denunciation. I seem to have joined a chorus that includes roughly the entire universe. The denunciation is richly deserved. Even though I don’t consider the Quran a valid holy book, if I am a true Christian, my goal is to love Muslims into searching for the real truth. How many Muslims will Mr. Jones convert with his approach?
Yes, it’s easy to condemn Jones. But let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. It starts with the media making this into a major event, stoking the story and turning it into a drama of worldwide proportions. No, this is one off-base individual perhaps seeking publicity. Well, thanks to the insatiable desire for “news,” he succeeded.
Another aspect of this is the tarring of all Christians with the “Jones Brush.” The Muslim world, which rarely needs an excuse to be outraged anyway, now is up in arms [both symbolically and literally] against the “crusaders.” If Jones is indeed a genuine Christian, he has now done a great disservice to those he claims are his brothers and sisters.
A sense of proportion is required. Sensitivity is the word being bandied about with respect to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. How about some balance?
And even though I disapprove of Quran burning, we need to compare that deed with others:
Those who claim to be the face of moderate Islam, such as Imam Rauf, need to start trumpeting more loudly their moderation. Yet, when Rauf appeared on CNN the other night, he did just the opposite. He said that the mosque must be at the Ground Zero site more than ever now because if it is moved after all the controversy, “anger will explode in the Muslim world.”
In other words, you’d better let us fulfill our plans for building the mosque or there will be even greater repercussions. It was a not-so-veiled threat: do what we want or else.
Meanwhile, buried in all this barrage of back-and-forth outrage is a story that appeared on CNN’s website [yes, I know I’ve referenced CNN twice in this posting—that’s a record for me]. It seems that our own military in Afghanistan confiscated Bibles printed in the two most common Afghan languages and burned them. We are so culturally sensitive that we won’t even allow Bibles to exist in that country. You can read the whole story right here.
If this becomes widely known, I wonder what the response of the Christian community will be? Protests in the streets? Riots? Demands that infidels be killed? We all know that won’t be the response. True Christians persevere in showing love and forgiveness, and in offering the way, the truth, and the life.