A controversy is brewing in Gainesville, Florida, which is expected to reach its climax on September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States.

Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denomination New Testament Church, intends to burn copies of the Qur’an “in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam.”

This is a really bad idea.

Interfaith groups and others have weighed in on the controversy and counter-protests are already being planned.  The White House and Attorney General Eric Holder have chimed in, as well as P.J. Crowley of the State Department who said “these actions themselves are un-American.”  I’m not impressed by what the Administration has to say because, as far as I’m concerned, the State Department’s recent inclusion of the duly enacted Arizona Immigration Bill in its report to the United Nations’ human rights commissioner is, to me, “un-American.”

What did give me pause, however, was General David Petraeus’s statement in The Wall Street Journal.  “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort.  It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems.  Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

As far as I’m concerned, if any action – whether it be the action of an individual or the press – in any way endangers the lives of our brave men and women in uniform, those actions should not be taken.  Period.  End of story.

If the Rev. Jones goes forward with this ill-conceived idea, I don’t believe the Islamic jihadists will hate us more.  If he doesn’t go forward with this insane idea – and there’s no indication he’s willing to back down – the jihadists won’t hate us less.  They hate us.  Period.  Our very existence is the reason they hate us.  Our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy in this country are the reasons the jihadists hate us.  The jihadists want us dead, they want our soldiers dead, they want our mothers, fathers, children, sisters, and brothers dead.  So, I’m not sure if Rev. Jones’s actions on Saturday will endanger the lives of our military any more than they’re already endangered.

But, because of my deep respect for General Petraeus, I’ll take his word for it when he says, “Images of the burning of a Qur’an would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan – and around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”  Protests have already begun against Rev. Jones and his Church in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia.

I can already hear those who say, “It’s his Constitutional right to burn the Qur’an – it’s a symbolic expression protected under the First Amendment.”

Well, I’ve written about the Mosque at Ground Zero and the Empire State Building’s refusal to illuminate their lights to commemorate Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday, and I fully understand the owners of private property have the right to do what they wish with their property.

But just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.  The fact that the Rev. Jones has the right to burn copies of the Qur’an, doesn’t make it right.  No doubt he would be furious if he saw anyone burn the Bible.  Will his actions make that stop?  Of course not.

Abortion.  Flag-burning.  The exploitation of women who work in strip clubs.  Driving and using a cell phone.  Assisted suicide.  Medical marijuana.  The exploitation of children in beauty pageants.  Texting while driving.  The actions of the Westboro Baptist Church at military funerals.  Prostitution.

All these things, in some or all states, are legal.  But, in my opinion, that doesn’t make them right.

I abhor the use of Christian symbols in what is considered to be “art” such as “Piss Christ” which depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine.  Andres Serrano, the “artist,” has the right to create this obscene piece of crap, but it’s wrong.

I think it was a cheap shot for Seth MacFarlane, creator of the tv series “Family Guy,” to have one of the episodes involve a character on a date with a female with Down Syndrome who was asked about her parents to which she responded her dad was an accountant, and “my mom is the former governor of Alaska.”  Mr. MacFarlane, has the right to mock Sarah Palin, but it’s wrong and not funny.

Our Founding Fathers gave us the Constitution with its Bill of Rights which has provided us with the most wonderful freedoms any people have ever enjoyed in the history of mankind.  But with those freedoms, comes responsibility and self-discipline.

So, yes, the Rev. Jones has the right and freedom to burn copies of the Qur’an on September 11th.  But that action is wrong.

He says he’s not deterred by protests, death threats or warnings from General Petraeus.  He also says he and his members are taking seriously several death threats directed at them, but said if something happens, it would not be their fault.

If his actions incite violence, he and his ilk will, no doubt, consider themselves martyrs for their twisted way of thinking.  “We will not be responsible.  We are only reacting to the violence that is already there in that religion” he says.  It doesn’t sound very Christian-like to me.

I would rather hear about a Church in Gainesville, Florida living up to its name and holding a peaceful and respectful candlelight vigil for all those who died on 9/11.  A reading of the names of the 9/11 victims or those of our fallen servicemen and women since 9/11 fighting to preserve our way of life and for the freedoms enjoyed by the Rev. Jones and his congregation would be so much more appropriate.

I don’t get “International Burn a Koran Day 9/11/2010” and, if you do, God bless you.


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