Wednesday, 25 August 2010
In part one of this series, we discussed the proposed Muslim community center and mosque in Manhattan called the Park51 Project, referred to by protesters as the “Ground Zero Mosque.” We learned that, while the project is within the law and Constitution of the United States, there is some debate as to whether the organization is right in building its center so close to Ground Zero.
As an example of Islam-ophobia in the United States, the Park51 Project is by far the most widely known case, but there are many other examples to be found across the country which point to a much larger American distaste of Islam.
Where I currently reside in Gainesville, Florida, many locals talk less about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” and more about the planned Qu'ran burning being held in town on September 11th of this year by the Dove World Outreach Center.
Dove World is a self-proclaimed New Testament church, focusing on the return to spiritual faith and Biblical principles. The church spreads its message through a variety of ways, not the least of which being controversial signs and protests. Locally, Dove World is known largely for its campaign against the election of a homosexual mayor, which included signs, flyers and videos that pushed for “No Homo Mayor.”
But Dove World's planned Qu'ran burning event, which they dub “International Burn a Koran Day,” has received national attention, from multiple major news stories to an interview with Senior Pastor Terry Jones on CNN. According to CNN's Belief Blog, local Gainesville religious leaders have spoken out and plan to hold events to counter the Qu'ran burning. Even the city of Gainesville has opposed the event, not out of religious reasons but because the event is unsafe; Dove World's request for a permit to host the event was denied, but the group insists it will continue with the event as planned.
While most of the response has been negative toward the group, there are still some who seek to support Dove World in their Qu'ran burning extravaganza
“We fully support Dove World Outreach Center and its efforts to put an end to the notion that Islam is a peaceful religion,” wrote Right Wing Extreme founder Shannon Carson in a statement. “Islam is a violent cult with the goal of world domination.” The report also says the “armed conservative Christian group” will be protecting the church during the event. Yikes.
All of this talk of violence and protests leads me to beg the question: how does any of this translate to scripture? Where in “the greatest of these is love” is there room for Qu'ran burnings? And what message does this event send those who are seeking Christ but instead finding hate? It seems counter-intuitive that a Christian organization protesting what they claim to be a hateful, violent faith are choosing to resort to hate and violence to spread their message.
It's clear that Islam-ophobia is not just prevalent in American society but also in Christian society. In part three of this series, we will discuss what Christians can do in light of the rising dislike of Islam in America.
Do you agree or disagree with the actions of Dove World Outreach Center? Do you think a Qu'ran burning will send the appropriate Christian message? What alternative actions could the church take?