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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Misguided Expression Against Radical Islam...

There has been a tremendous amount of news coverage in recent days on the Gainesville Pastor that is planning to burn the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11th terror attack on the U.S., as a protest against Radical Islamic Extremists.  

The public outcry has been overwhelming coming from celebrities, to world leaders, to religious leaders from all faiths, the mainstream media and let's not forget the religion-embracing Black Panther Party.  The White House, the Pentagon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and General David Petraeus have all condemned the planned destruction of the Muslim holy book. 

On Wednesday, Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center (with a congregation of about 50 members) said that despite the pressure and criticism, he has no intention of backing down.  He also stated that he has received many messages of encouragement and support, including one from a U.S. soldier, who according to the Pastor, said the military was behind him.

While I may disagree with the provocative and highly polarizing expression of defiance, I also feel the issue is more complex than meets the eye and leaves me a bit queasy about the attention it has garnered.

I remember a couple of years ago, when a University of Minnesota professor carried out his threat to desecrate the Holy Eucharist, who Catholics believe is the Body and Blood of Christ, and encouraged others to do the same without much fanfare, with the exception of Catholic blogs and publications. 

Is that comparable to American lives being at risk?  I'm not suggesting that however, I believe Pastor Jones is getting more publicity than he deserves.  I also see somewhat of a double standard in this controvery and the one generated by the New York City Ground Zero mosque. 

On one hand, you have those who are insulted by the views expressed by Jones because they are offensive to many in our society (let's put aside the threat to the soldiers for a minute since the controversy began before General Petraeus made any comment).

On the other, you have an Imam in New York that, while he may not be offending the 71% of the nation that opposes the mosque, he certainly is provoking and, at the very least, offending some of the families of the victims of the Twin Towers attack.  His plan is to build a mega-mosque at Ground Zero, but the passionate outcry from celebrities, the media, the White House and other high ranking U.S. Government officials has been less obvious (to put it mildly).

Is it because one deals with, what may be viewed, as a right-wing extremist, while the other a liberal one?  Or, is it because we are told that the Quran burning could endanger Americans around the world?

Are we afraid of Islam?  Should we be, considering the protests the news on the Quran burning sparked in streets in several Muslim countries in the Middle East, where they called for "Death to America" and burned effigies of Pastor Jones and President Obama?  Are there more radical extremists around the world then we care to admit?   

The questions are worth pondering because, while I oppose Pastor Jones' method and prefer him to not go through with his plan, for the sake of our military men and women who risk their lives everyday protecting our country, and for the sake of decency and the love that Christians should demonstrate and embrace, we do live in a nation where freedom of expression and freedom of religion should never be compromised... And we should never submit or be ruled by fear...

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