By Bill Buchanan
Just when you think, “Well, that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard allegedly done in the name of religion,” someone comes along and trumps it.
I refer to the folks at the Dove World Outreach Center, a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Fla., who plan to host an “International Burn a Quran Day.” They say the event is to “remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam,” which the minister of the congregation calls a religion “of the devil.”
What could be less Christian than that? Exactly how does burning a book that another religion recognizes as holy promote and advance your own religious views? How does burning the Quran (Koran) foster anything but separatism and intolerance? And what is the purpose? Are they trying to convert others? Do they think people will look at this act and say, “Wow, what a great idea, let’s go join up with this progressive group”?
I was also curious about how you would invite people to one of these things. Do you issue an invitation like it was a church social? Would you look down in the church bulletin one Sunday and see something like:
Event: Burning the Quran
Date: 9/11 (of course)
Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
Place: In the big fire pit out behind the church
Food/Drink: Fire and brimstone served from 6 to 7 p.m.
Dress: Flame-retardant casual
Special Note: Coffee mugs and T-shirts available in the foyer
Now I am not saying that the folks at Dove World Outreach don’t have the right to do this. Our Constitution provides the right for our citizens to do pretty much anything within reason to peacefully demonstrate for or against any cause — no matter how stupid it may make the participant look. In fact, the right to look ignorant and stupid is one of our most precious freedoms —- or at least, one of the most frequently used ones. My favorite example of this is the guy who has that church in Kansas who goes to soldiers’ funerals, and holds up signs saying that the death of this brave young man or woman is God’s punishment for people being gay. I’m afraid if I was at the funeral of a relative or friend who gave their life for this country and in the middle of the ceremony, I heard some idiot yelling and holding a sign saying this was somehow justified, I might have to take umbrage —- which might well take the form of getting a tire tool out of the trunk and wearing it out over his head.
Perhaps one of the problems with religious zealots is that they are so busy waving the Bible around they fail to pull it down and actually read what it says. In the 22nd Chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment? He replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The line above does not come with any caveats. Jesus does not say, “Love your neighbor as yourself — unless he is Jewish, or Muslim.” He doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor as yourself — unless he is black.” And he doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor as yourself — unless he is gay.”
It is simply, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And that is good advice for us all, no matter what you believe.—