Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BUY a Qu'ran (Koran) Don't BURN One!

Each person’s deep, profound spiritual connection to their God is a sacred relationship that should never be belittled or disrespected.

A small town pastor, Terry Jones, has collected 200 copies of the Qu’ran (Koran), the holy book of Islam, that he has threatened to deliberately burn on Saturday – the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9-11, which plunged our nation into two on-going wars.

Ironically, Jones’ church, Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Fla., has only 30 members, but because of news coverage and the Internet, his outrageous plan has been transmitted globally.

Thus far, the openly gun-toting Jones has rejected calls by a multi-religious coalition, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. General David Petraeus, the Obama administration, and the world-wide community to abandon his offensive plan to burn the copies of the Muslim sacred text.

Let me add my small voice to the outrage to this proposed book-burning. The upcoming 10th Anniversary of the worst terror attacks on U.S. soil should be commemorated with healing, not hate; insight, not instigation; and with unification, not ugliness. Just imagine how Christians would feel if an Islamic Imam planned to burn 200 Holy Bibles outside a mosque on 9/11 to protest the U.S. war efforts?

The church has been denied a permit to set a bonfire but has vowed to proceed with the burning. Apparently, Jones has dug in his hateful heels.

I have a genuine proposal. Why don’t a few of us Americans who support religious freedom and the absolute right of Muslims to practice their faith, replace each and every Qu’ran (Koran) that is burned? I suggest we, as individuals, each buy one of the holy books and donate it directly to a mosque, or give it to a practicing Muslim along with a heart-felt apology for the grave insult! The Qu’ran (Koran) is inexpensive in most book stores, so we simply need 200 people of an open heart to do the right thing. This is not an idle suggestion. I have already ordered a Qu’ran (Koran) and will send it to the nearest Mosque.

I am not a Christian, but let me take a moment to quote the Holy Bible. As King Solomon so wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

If we have learned anything in the past decade it is that we need to better understand each other, to abandon the ways of war and adopt the ways of peace. Our country was founded on religious freedom and the respect for each other’s spiritual beliefs. That extends to all faiths, all religions, not just the ones we understand or agree with.

Gen. Petraeus, who is the U.S. and Nato commander in Afghanistan, warned of retaliatory action against U.S. troops after protests took place when the news of what Jones was planning was reported in the capital Kabul. Effigies of Jones were burned alongside the American flag.

Asked by a news agency what Jesus would do if he was alive, Jones said he believed Jesus would burn the Qu’rans (Korans.) I do not, cannot, will not believe that is true. While I do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, I do believe that his was a teaching of love, tolerance and acceptance. Christ would not have burned any sacred text.

Jones says he is determined to go ahead in the face of fierce condemnations, as well as 100 death threats.

"If we don't do it, when do we stop backing down?" he told the media. "It's something we need to do, it's a message we need to send...Instead of us backing down, maybe it's time to stand up. Maybe it's time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior," he told news agencies. Jones confirmed he would be armed during the event. "We are prepared to give our lives for this," he said.

But just what is that message? If it’s that he’s a religious bigot, then he’s more than accomplished his goal.

Secretary of State Clinton led the condemnation of the planned burning, describing it as a "disrespectful, disgraceful act." Others in the Obama administration weighed in, including Eric Holder, the attorney general, who called it idiotic and dangerous. A state department spokesman called the planned protest "un-American."

The plans have been greeted with alarm in the Middle Eastern press. Lebanon's Daily Star said they were "likely to ignite a fire of rage that could consume swathes of the globe," while United Arab Emirates paper the Khaleej Times describe the planned burning as "rabid and insane."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed the concerns raised by Petraeus. "Any type of activity like that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern to this administration," Gibbs said.

At a meal last night ironically marking the breaking of the Ramadan fast, Clinton said, "We sit down together for this meal on a day when the news is carrying reports that a pastor down in Gainesville, Florida, plans to burn the holy Qur'an on September 11. I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths, from evangelical Christians to Jewish rabbis as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion-makers.

"Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. Many of you know that in 1790, George Washington wrote to a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, that this country will give 'to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.' The real story of Islam in America can be found in this room, and rooms across America. We write it tonight in the spirit of fellowship and the celebration of goodwill that is a hallmark of Ramadan. We will write it in the months and years to come as we continue to reach out to engage people around the world in a search for common ground, common understanding and common respect."

This week, hundreds of Afghans protested outside a Kabul mosque and chanted "Death to America." Members of the crowd pelted a passing U.S. military convoy with stones before being ordered to stop by protest organizers.

Last Saturday thousands of Indonesian Muslims demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta and in five other cities to protest against the church's plan. Dove World made headlines last year after distributing T-shirts that read, "Islam is of the Devil."

In a joint statement U.S. religious leaders condemned what they described as an "anti-Muslim frenzy" in America. They said this had been whipped up in part by "misinformation and outright bigotry" in response to plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque close to the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York.

On the plans to burn the Qu'ran (Koran), the leaders, including Washington Roman Catholic archbishop emeritus Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Rabbi David Saperstein, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Dr. Michael Kinnamon of the National Council of Churches said they were "appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text."

I repeat: If these Qu’rans (Korans) are truly burned, then it is up to us to replace each and every one of them – isn’t that the responsible, ethical behavior that Jesus himself might urge people of all faiths to do?

— Danu's Daughter

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