Burning of Koran would not have helped the war against terrorism

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 September, 2010, 12:00am

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, stepped back from the abyss of burning the Koran on September 11 and the anger and violence that it would have engendered in Muslims towards Americans specifically and Christians throughout the world. It can only be hoped that his decision will remain to cancel the event as he has indicated.

This episode illustrates the danger of what can occur when one's actions are rooted in ignorance and when one fails to follow the teachings of one's own faith. By his own admission, Mr Jones knows little about Islam. Speaking about the Koran he told the New York Times: 'I have no experience with it whatsoever. I only know what the Bible says.'

Perhaps Mr Jones has also missed the message of the Bible as well, especially its message of unconditional love toward all, even one's enemies (Matthew: 5:44). Since he has said he views Islam as the enemy of Christianity, maybe he should reread the Bible before threatening to burn the holy book of another faith.

How would Mr Jones feel if Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia or the Middle East burned Bibles? Would he feel indignant? Whatever thoughts and emotions he would have if Muslims, even members of a small mosque with 50 members or less like his church, organised an International Burn a Bible Day, would most likely mirror the feelings of Muslims towards his proposed bonfire of Islam's holy book.

The outcome of his actions, if he had proceeded with his original plan, would have been to foster hatred - the antithesis of the love proclaimed by Christianity, Islam and the world's other major faiths. If Mr Jones wishes to be true to his faith, he could do so by showing respect for others and their faith by, among other actions, not burning their holy books.

He claimed the motivation for burning hundreds of copies of the Koran, was to combat terrorism. He has been quoted as saying that 'it is possibly time for us in a new way to actually stand up and confront terrorism'. His new way though would only have bred more terrorists, not less.

Bruce Van Voorhis, on behalf of Interfaith Co-operation Forum