My recent visit to the mosque stirred up a good bit of discussion on Facebook, most of it from a college friend who is convinced the Muslims are trying to take over America.
I don’t believe “the Muslims” (all 1.5 billion of them) are trying to do anything of the kind, although I wouldn’t put it past some Muslims (or Christians or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus) to give it a try. There are extremists in every religion.
One of the extremists in my religion has declared Sept. 11 “International Burn a Koran Day.” His name is Terry Jones, and he is the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., which he describes as “a New Testament church – based on the Bible, the Word of God.”
A link on the church’s website directs you to a Facebook page called “International Burn a Koran Day,” where you are greeted by a banner that reads, “Islam is of the Devil.” Under the banner is this announcement:
“On September 11th, 2010, from 6pm – 9pm, we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!”
Frankly, I cannot imagine a more effective way to stir up the anger of the Muslim world than to publicly burn its sacred text. I can think of a hundred good reasons not to do it. But the one that comes to mind most quickly comes straight out of the New Testament, which Pastor Jones describes as “the Word of God.” Here it is, from Matthew 7:12: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
So, I want to ask Pastor Jones a simple question: “Do you want a Muslim imam to burn a Bible on the property of his mosque on Sept. 11? If not, then don’t burn a Quran on the property of your church. This is good advice, and it comes from Jesus himself.
If he is your Lord, and not just your Savior, then you might want to do as he says. If you won’t do what he says, then (with all due respect) what kind of pastor are you, and what kind of “New Testament church” is the Dove World Outreach Center?
I’m just asking because I don’t want to have to answer that other question, the one my Muslim neighbor will ask me on Sept. 11: “Why are you Christians burning the Quran?”
Jim Somerville is pastor of First Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.