I shared the open letter to Pastor Jones below early last September. Given the recent murders in Afghanistan, I thought this was a timely moment to re-visit the lessons of this terribly predictable tragedy.
While I respect the free speech rights of the pastor, Terry Jones, the proposed Koran burning raises grave concerns for many Christians--including myself, a Catholic. I would submit to Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center that actions of this nature move many down a slippery slope, making some of us guilty of religious intolerance ourselves. While this pales in the magnitude of intolerance and hatred of radical Islam, it is unhelpful within the current environment. It’s clear that this kind of action doesn’t change minds or hearts, but it does have a way of polarizing everyone. It’s pouring gasoline on a fire when what’s needed is water.
Just like the proposed construction of the mosque / community center in the shadow of the open wound that is the 9-11 memorial, often the things we can do are far removed from the things we should do. Instead of burning the Korans on September 11th, I encourage all Christians instead to pray for their brothers and sisters who suffer such terrible religious persecution within Muslim countries every day. Let’s remember the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This profound truth is reflected in both the Old and New Testaments. If the Koran burning places one soldier or Christian in harm’s way or encourages the burning of the Holy Bible, Pastor Jones meaningless and vitriolic message has sadly reaped its true reward.