A Southern Baptist minister kept his word to burn a copy of the Quran on Saturday.
Bob Old, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Joelton, Tenn., and Danny Allen, who first identified himself to the Tennessean as an associate pastor but would not disclose the name of the church, each burned a copy of the Quran in Old’s back yard in Springfield, Tenn.
The Tennessean reported that the “burning took place in front of just a handful of people, most of them from the media.”
“It’s about faith, it’s about love, but you have to have the right book behind you. This is a book of hate, not a book of love,” said Old, who was holding a Quran, according to WSMV-TV Channel 4.
While Old and Allen burned Qurans soaked in lighter fluid in a community outside of Nashville, people of faith packed in the sanctuary at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., at an interfaith service where sacred texts from different faith traditions were honored.
“Here in Louisville we don’t burn sacred texts. We honor them,” said Terry Taylor, executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, during the service, according to the Courier-Journal.
Joseph Phelps, the pastor of Highland Baptist Church, is on the board of directors of the Baptist Center for Ethics, the parent company of EthicsDaily.com.
On a Friday radio show, Old said, “I’m going to burn the Quran tomorrow, and that is non-negotiable. The reason I’m going to burn the Quran tomorrow is to make a statement.”
He claimed that he had received death threats and his pickup truck had been vandalized.
Old told WTVF Channel 5 on Thursday, “To the Muslim church I would say the reason I am doing [this] on Saturday [is] because I believe they worship a false god. They have a false text, a false prophet and a false scripture.”
He rejected the perception that burning the Quran was an act of hate.
“How can it be an act of hate when what I am doing is trying to save their souls?” asked Old.
The Tennessee Quran-burning antic came at the end of a week that witnessed an explosion of media attention related to the planned burning of the Quran at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., by the nondenominational church’s pastor, Terry Jones.
Gen. David Petreaus, U.S. and NATO commander of forces in Afghanistan, said last Tuesday that “images of the burning of a Quran” would “inflame public opinion” and “incite violence” around the world, endangering American soldiers.
Petreaus’ warning led to an outpouring of opposition to Jones’ plans from across the American political spectrum, especially among religious conservatives and moderates, who have kept a safe distance from public, constructive engagement with Muslims.
Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham and John Hagee were among the most visible religious conservatives to criticize Jones and to urge him to call off his plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Quran.
Jones canceled on Friday his planned burning.
Associated Press reported on Sunday that two anti-Quran-burning protesters were killed in Afghanistan. Afghan soldiers fired on protesters chanting “Death to America,” who stormed a government building on Logar province in opposition to the planned Quran-burning in Gainesville.
Over a month ago, the First Baptist Church of Memphis, Tenn., decided to host a screening and panel discussion of the documentary “Different Book, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims” on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 2-4 p.m., with area Muslim leaders.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.