Pastor Terry Jones: This Dove Doesn't Believe in Extending Olive Branches

Hell must be frozen solid today. I find my self agreeing with the Vatican that the Dove Outreach Center of Florida’s plan to burn the Koran is “outrageous and a grave gesture.” Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also responded by saying it would be a “disgraceful and disrespectful act.” No disagreements there either. But, then fanatics and extremists don’t care about being respectful.

The irony is that the Dove Outreach Center is using the Christian symbol of peace – the dove – and their planned action speaks of neither peace nor love, another alleged Christian attribute. Apparently this dove does not believe in extending olive branches. Dove Center is to Christianity what groups such as Al-Qaeda are to Islam – fanatical fringe groups that, while being bellicose, do not speak for the majority of the people practicing either faith. Sadly, these angry, hateful fanatics cause permanent damage. With all their hatred and ignorance it’s no wonder that so many people have a myopic view of either faith group.

Christian leaders across the United States need to speak out vocally against the likes of Pastor Terry Jones and their often extremist views. Pastor Terry even wrote an atrocious and ignorant little book titled Islam is of the Devil. The Dove Center even sells tee shirts and coffee mugs with this sentiment on it. What this ignorant Christian pastor and his sheep (what a great metaphor for the average Christian believer – sheep are dumb animals) is that this will not only be offensive to many devout Muslims, hardened non-believers such as myself just see it as one more reason why we need to protect our nation from religion altogether. Religion can only serve to bring us down and it threatens our survival as a species. There is nothing unifying or truly healing about religion. In fact religion is often anti-human.

If I was inclined to believe that Satan was a real being I would no doubt conclude that the Lord of the Flies is at work in Pastor Terry Jones. I imagine that Satan has no greater weapon in his arsenal than religion. However, I don’t believe in the Devil, hell or an afterlife. This is not the work of Satan. It is, however, the work of ignorance and only those that have blind faith could ever stoop so low. The religious Christian extremists have turned Christianity from a religion of peace, love and redemption and traded it for a near fascist political ideology. On the other hand I am not sure this has ever been the track that corporate Christianity has been on. When you survey world history we see a different story.

Terry Jones is just more fanatic than average. Where do all fanatics begin? They begin by burning books. It would be interesting to watch the reaction of Pastor Terry and his compatriots if a group of atheists or Muslims decided to have an international burn the bible day. It would be an ugly scene to be certain. My initial response was do to just that. I wanted to have a big bonfire and immolate as many bibles as I could get my hands on. But, in so doing I would be as hateful and ignorant as Pastor Terry Jones. I am still angry at his ignorance and hubris and trying to keep my own in check. It hasn’t been easy. I also don’t believe in burning books regardless of whether or not I agree with its message. So the bibles of Denver, Colorado are safe from my satanic ire.

Pastor Terry’s decision to hold this event on the anniversary of September 11, 2001 dishonors those who lost their lives and the workers who courageously rushed to the scene. This act is the antithesis of healing. It rubs salt in a tragic national wound and forces us to relive the trauma. It is the exact type of behavior that abusive individuals engage in. Pastor Terry ignores that many Muslims around the world grieved with the United States for this horrible crime. There was an outpouring of shock, outrage and empathy from countries such as Turkey. He even seems to deny that Muslims lost their lives and loved ones on this fateful day as well as good bible thumping Christian extremists. We have repeatedly ignored this outpouring of the human spirit with our subsequent actions here in the United States and abroad. Is it any wonder we are still at odds with the Muslim world and instead of healing we are teetering at the edge of widening abyss between the two worlds?

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg may have a point in defending Pastor Terry’s right to protest. There is no law against burning books even if it is ignorant. This is civil liberties territory and it is protected by the first amendment. But, here is where human compassion, common sense and ethical conduct come into play. He has the right to burn the Koran as I have the right to burn the bible or the American flag in protest over government policy (and the next time I burn a flag they had better keep their mouths shut) but, he also has a responsibility as a human being and, dare I say, a representative of the so called “good news” to consider the potential effects of his actions.

There is such a thing as the law of unintended consequences. General Petraeus is at least one person worried about the impact that a fringe group burning the Koran could have on the safety of American personal in the area. If Islam cannot deal gracefully with a cartoonist’s depiction of Mohammad then the burning of their sacred text may throw many into apoplectic fits. I couldn’t honestly criticize such a response. This is nothing short of an outright insult.

I can’t help but question whether or not the good pastor is actually trying to incite violence. Fringe religious groups always seem to be itching for a fight – Christian and Islam – and with Christian fanatics it seems that they want to help bring about the battle of Armageddon. The only thing I know for certain is that I must be the only atheist praying for the Rapture. If we can get rid of a few Christians on this planet it might be a more enjoyable place to live.

Finally, Pastor Terry Jones’ actions speak of a growing problem here in the United States - unethical uses of civil liberties. We care only for what is good for us. We want to be heard and we want things our way, but we don’t want to be hindered by what might be good for my neighbor, especially if that runs counter to our personal desires. It is the worst kind of civil liberties. It is devoid of all true ethical considerations. To be a true libertarian, as so many fringe Christians mistakenly identify themselves as these days, requires the highest standard of ethics. This is a burden that they are too ignorant and too ill prepared to handle.

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