Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO BURNING A KORAN

For the record and in the hope of prodding some of my fellow Christians to speak out...

First off, I refute the words and intentions of the Florida pastor of a Christian church who is promising to burn the Koran on September 11.  As a Christian clergy, this man's words and perspective offend and embarrass me.  Much of what I have learned as a theology student and pastor regarding the treatment of people of other faiths runs counter to what this man is saying and intending.  We are only Christian as we speak and act Christianly.  It seems to me that while Terry Jones may be simply reflecting predictable applications of Fundamentalist Christianity, he is not reflecting authentic Christianity.

Second, the eerie silence of evangelicals in the face of this man's posturing and rhetoric is unnerving to me.  To date, I have heard next to nothing in response (I will add links to statements at the bottom of this post as I learn of them). To my knowledge, my own denominational leaders have made no public statement in response.  If they have, I'd like to know and have a link so I can share some important news. [9/11/10 update: note a link to Free Methodist Bishop David Kendall's blog post on 9/11/10 at the end of this post]  This silence is concerning particularly because Christian missionaries working in predominantly Muslim countries are at a rising risk for reprisals (a) if this Florida pastor carries through with what he intends and (b) if people of Muslim faith around the world do not hear an overwhelming refutation of this pastor's words and actions.

Third, while this news item, along with news swirling around the issue of the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City, are not of the churches' or Christians' own making, per se, the implications for Christianity in America and around the world are more than insignificant.  The inflammatory nature of the two issues calls for a resounding condemnation of religious bigotry and affirmation of authentic Christian perspective--regardless of people and parishioners' opinions regarding them.  To remain silent at this point, it seems to me, is to give tacit approval of hatred and bigotry and misapplication of the Bible and Christian doctrine.

Fourth, I wonder how much uncertainty or tenuousness regarding Christian relationship to the Muslim faith--along with outright bigotry against Islam--has contributed to the lack of leadership and guidance among American Christian leaders in the face of the NYC issue and now the threat of Koran burning?  I know many Christians who do not think Islam is at all a valid faith and suspect people of Muslim faith of being violent.  Why are Christian pastors and leaders not giving forthright guidance to parishioners regarding relationship to Islam and other faiths? Perhaps because we know so little of the Islamic faith, have so few neighborly relationships with Muslims, and, for all our claims of religious tolerance, harbor our own Fundamentalist-borne notions about our faith in relationship to others.


So, personal reticence or ministry preoccupations or ignorance or lack of courage and foresight in American conservative Christian leadership failed to frame issues around the Islamic community center near Ground Zero or give guidance to pastors and parishioners.   The source of the fire was not extinguished; a line was not dug around it to limit and rob it of fuel.  Voices of leadership have been--and still are--eerily silent.  Now, it comes down to the brink of a conflagration of violence and hatred with a Fundamentalist pastor leading people in what he's dubbed "International Burn a Koran Day" on September 11.


Why not speak out?  It may not be too late.  Why not write to the Florida pastor to encourage him to stop it?  Write  to info@doveworld.org.  Speak the truth in love.  Or, why not get on plane and fly down to Gainesville, Florida to stand in prayerful protest against this man's actions on Saturday?  With the lives of Christian missionaries and the witness of the church around the world on the line, is anything really more important this weekend?

Links to evangelicals who have spoken out against the words and intentions of Pastor Terry Jones:


Statement by the National Association of Evangelicals (Sept 8): http://www.nae.net/news-and-events/483-the-gospel-of-jesus-christ-is-good-news

A summary of statements from some evangelical leaders (July 30): http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/julyweb-only/40.51.0.html

National Council of Churches statement (Sept 9):  http://www.ncccusa.org/news/100909nineelevenletter.html

Free Methodist Bishop David Kendall (Sept 11):  http://fmcna.typepad.com/david_kendall/2010/09/why-followers-of-jesus-could-never-burn-the-quran.html


3 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Thanks for the call to action, John!
    ~Donna Techau

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://fmcna.typepad.com/david_kendall/2010/09/why-followers-of-jesus-could-never-burn-the-quran.html

    Kendall on Qu'ran burning!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, deartheophilus. I am wondering if David Kendall's blog post is the official FM Board of Bishops statement or if they will issue/share something more broadly together. Do you know? Kendall's post comes after Terry Rogers was persuaded by many international faith leaders to cancel the Koran burning, but it is still a clear refutation of it.

    ReplyDelete

Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.