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August 23rd, 2010
01:55 PM ET

Religious leaders speak out against International Burn a Quran Day

Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, stands in front of his church in Gainesville, Florida

Response so far to an event billed as a Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope has been "overwhelmingly positive," a minister in Gainesville, Florida, told CNN on Monday. The event is planned in response to a local church's International Burn a Quran Day.

As part of the Gainesville Interfaith Forum - made up of Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus - Trinity United Methodist Church will host the event September 10, the night before the planned burning of the Quran.

The nondenominational Dove World Outreach Center said it will host the Quran-burning event on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The group said it will remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam. With promotions on its website and Facebook page, it invites Christians to burn the Muslim holy book at the church from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"Our hope is that we'll have a thousand people here and there will be 20 people [at the Quran-burning]," Trinity's senior minister Dan Johnson said Monday. Johnson predicted the event would be "multicultural and multifaith." He said he hoped it would inspire a number of people to sign up for the city's interfaith forum. "One member told me after church Sunday that they've never been as proud to be a member of this church as they are now," Johnson said.

In a note posted on his church's website last week, Johnson invited all residents of Gainesville to the counterevent. "We feel compelled to raise our voices to proclaim that the action the Dove World Outreach Center is proposing is absolutely wrong and counter to the life and teaching of the Jesus whom we
love, follow and call savior and Lord."

Wednesday, the city of Gainesville denied a burn permit to the center, said Bob Woods, City of Gainesville spokesman. "It was a question of public safety," said Woods. "The Gainesville Fire Department has notified the center through a letter," he said.

But that isn't stopping the church. The Gainesville Sun reported that, in an e-mail newsletter sent out Wednesday, the church announced: "City of Gainesville denies burn permit - BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS."

Gene Prince, the interim chief of Gainesville Fire Rescue, told the Sun on Wednesday that under the city's fire prevention ordinance, an open burning of books is not allowed. He said if the church goes ahead with its plan, it will be fined. And the church's intentions aren't the issue. "It wouldn't matter what the book is they're burning," Deputy Chief Tim Hayes told the Sun.

"We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times," Dove World Outreach Center Pastor Terry Jones
told CNN's Rick Sanchez last month.

Jones wrote a book titled "Islam is of the Devil," and the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase. On the church's website, a section lists "Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran." The Islamic advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Muslims and others to host "Share the Quran" dinners to educate the public during the monthlong fast of Ramadan beginning in August. In a news release, the group announced a campaign to give out 100,000 copies of the Quran to local, state and national leaders.

"American Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper in the release.

The National Association of Evangelicals, the nation's largest umbrella evangelical group, issued a statement urging the church to cancel the event, warning it could cause worldwide tension between the two religions. "The NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbors of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect," it said in the statement.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Florida • Interfaith issues • Islam • Quran • United States

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soundoff (438 Responses)
  1. theoldadam

    This "Christian" pastor is an idiot who cares not what harm he is doing.

    Harm? Let's not forget to speak about the fanatical wackos that are willing to murder because some paper and ink that happens to be their god was destroyed.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  2. Masuma

    By giving this more heed we are giving them more importance. Let them try this and see the consequence. This person is trying to get importance and getting more than he deserves by us going to such sites etc. Ignore this person and all this sites so they don’t get the clicks by us visiting these sites. Allah is great. Islam is great. Eid Mubarak to all my muslim bro/sis.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  3. Sketch

    If a child digs a small hole near the edge of the ocean, is the hole the ocean? Can that hole fill the ocean? Is it any more right to stomp, spit, and burn the values of a very normally respectful and peaceful people because a few extremist twisted their own faith to get what they wanted? Apparently to an alarmingly large amount of people, it is. Apparently it's alright to twist their own teachings and beliefs, if not outright ignore them to get what they wanted as well. The people who believed they were fighting extremism turned out to be extremist themselves.

    September 11, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  4. John A

    I get a kick out of this. I beleive this to be a stupid publicity stunt.
    But stop and think for a second, if it were Muslims burning bibles, would people implore them to stop so there would be no violent reaction? Of course not, because there would be no violent reaction, most would just laugh at the nuts. Most should just laugh at this nut, also.

    But the violent reaction tells you all you need to know about islam. The VIOLENCE that people are worried about will be done by WHOM? Violent people with violent tendencies look for new excuses for their violence. THEY are the problem, not the nut burning some dopey books.

    September 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.