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August 20th, 2010
05:10 PM ET

Religious leaders speak out against International Burn a Quran Day

Religious leaders in Gainesville, Florida, have planned a Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope, in response to a local church's International Burn a Quran Day.

"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," Senior Minister Dan Johnson of Trinity United Methodist Church said, in a note posted on his church's website Wednesday.

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

"Our goal is to foster understanding, mutual respect and peace, while recognizing and appreciating our own particular faith understandings," Johnson said.

The nondenominational 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.

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 details "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 month-long 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: Books • Christianity • Church • Florida • Islam • Quran • United States

soundoff (1,223 Responses)
  1. BeckFastPaws

    "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,"

    Replace Islam with Christianity, and you have a more accurate statement.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  2. Taco Lady

    It's strange to me that a group that has "outreach" at the end of their name would put up such a high fence of hate towards the people they want to convert to their faith. I'm all for freedom of speech and I generally don't get into trying to block that, I just don't get how this group doesn't realize it's actions go against it's own title.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  3. Edwin

    Honestly, I think they are doing it for money. Public stunts showing extremist views are a great way to gather donations from like-minded loonies across the country. But I somehow doubt these donations will end up helping the community - they'll probably just line the pastor's pockets...

    August 21, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  4. Sam

    From an atheist perspective I have to say a HUGE MEGA THANKS to this church for showing the ignorance and stupidity that is religion. Keep those shackles of ignorance and stupidity on you twits.

    Only funny until one reads a history book to realize that in thousands of years we have yet to progress, still as ignorant and dumb as the sun worshiping pagans.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  5. Icurheinie

    My family has been in north America since 1623 and I say these morons are un-American. I say we burn their shorts! "Hatred is never ended by hatred, but by love." – Socrates

    August 21, 2010 at 1:14 am |
  6. penpall

    Before 9/11 this pastor of Dove so and so church should be smeared with syrup and tied to a tree and let the ants crawl over him..

    August 21, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  7. Justina

    Christians should not have this "Burn a Quran Day." There are tons of items that need to be rejected in our society. We should share the Gospel message of Truth with Muslims, or with anyone, as the Bible tells us.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  8. Independent Thoughtr

    Isn't it ironic that the far right call others Nazis when it is they themselves that act like Nazis, with their book burnings, religious/ethnic/racial hate speech, their attempt to overturn the 14th ammendment and their constant 24/7 false propaganda. The right wing's hate will be the end of this great nation unless the rest of us stand up to it, unfortunately the left is simply too weak.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  9. Scholar

    There are a lot of people here that can throw phrases and say some things about Islam that they've heard in the media or through another person (politician, leader, speaker), but in reality have no substance to their claims. If any of you are in to debating the religion of islam I am here for rebuttal.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:07 am |
    • CatholicMom

      This is just a question, not a comment….
      Is the God of Islam your friend?

      August 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  10. SonofMollyM

    Burning books,any books is evil.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  11. thephfactor

    Consider alternative solutions like telling muslims in America to ... Remove the hate content from the koran ... Stop anti-America hate speech in mosques ... Stop building any more mosques in the country ... or Return to their countries. Because, YOUR suggestion to burn sounds as barbaric as THEIR way of living.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • Scholar

      should we tell christians to remove hate phrases from the bible as well?

      August 21, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  12. Faz

    God will give the Punishment i will a witness

    August 21, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  13. thomas

    Its all religion and its all about the competition to she who wins out. Religion is a business that has nothing to do with belief but in the money it generates a for those who preach. The reason America exists, is because religion corrupted governments and those who opposed the corrupted governments wanted freedom, from being force to practice what they don't believe by zealots. Burn all of the religious text and do away with religion. Believe what you want, but drop the doctrine and do you thing in private. Who care what you any of you believe accept yourselves.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  14. Troy

    Anyone that trys to speak to an invisible man is just as crazy as the ones burning the books. There is no god. never was. But, lot people do need something to hold on too. Even if it is talking to themselves

    August 21, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • Scholar

      @Troy, in today's world of empirical evidence there really is no way to prove there is a god.

      August 21, 2010 at 1:09 am |
    • Troy

      Common sense says that there is no god. Period. Magical man/being/animal waived around or said whatever and *poof* man was created....seriously? people believe this? I should retire and become a televangilist if it is that easy to convince people to follow imaginary beings

      August 21, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  15. lorgat

    When i read all these anti-muslim comments,i feel sorry for these ignorant people,what i am about to say is and do not get offended,because it is the truth.you say that islam is evil,i say say christianity as religion is evil because it has not guided you folks the right way.first of all look at the way you have made your women slaves and created multitude of bastards.as soon your girl is a teen she starts have sex with men and the parents do not stop them,by the time they are 30,they must have had sex with more then 20 to 30 men finally she finds a guy to marry and guys are the same,you have become male and female whores and christianity has done nothing to stop it.also having kids before marriage,what do you get?a bastard child.look at your christian society you have produced baby killers,child molesters.child rapist.serial killers,thousands of people are being killed in the states.and the list is endless.what i am trying to say is you at yourself you are the evil people and your religion is evil.it was a good religion but as the centuries passed you changed gods word and created new christianity of today which has distroyed as a society.80% is evil 10% is good.on the the other hand our muslim women are not degraded because islam tells us not to have sex with strange men or vice versa.none of our muslim kids are bastards because,we do not have sex before marriage.we follow gods law and we do not treat our women as whores,in islam woman has dignity.No drug problems,no alcohol problems,we do not use condoms so we get all those deseases you have the list is endless and i can go on forever. these are the biggest sins in islam.by burning the quran you are only damaging yourself,because the quran is allahs words and muslims will not harm you but the curse of allah is upon you and in future he will send his wrath upon you and distroy you.russians did that and look what happened to them all petty states fighting among them selves.we are 90% good and 10% bad but one day when all oor troops get home all these terrorist will disband.so put all your silly differenes and work for peace.those few bad men are all gone to hell.you crying for 3,000 people,what about millions of people killed in the name of christianity the whole inian nation wiped out to escape from europe and taking over all over america just think.first sort out your own grown problems before accusing islam.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  16. Kate

    Understand just who you're supporting.

    Dove World Outreach Center may as well be the Westboro Baptist Church's poor cousin. This is an "outreach" center that supports and admires the same group that heaps scorn and torments the families of our fallen heroes – and they're *proud* of it, they even mention it on their own website!

    Even if you agree with their stance regarding Islam, you don't get to be selective about what you support – if you support them in this matter, then you support *them*, including their support for the WBC and its actions dishonoring our fallen heroes.

    These people are going to put the lives of more American heroes at risk with this. I wonder if that's not a "bonus" in their minds, since they so admire a group that seems to hate America and celebrate the death of our servicemen and women.

    When the inevitable riots erupt in Afghanistan from this deliberate provocation intended to foment violence occur, if any US service personnel are injured or killed as a result, the blame will lie squarely on the head of both the Jones'.

    That's what people here are supporting? Actions by a group that admires those that dishonor our fallen heroes, actions that will risk more of them dying?

    This is designed solely to provoke, no different from the WBC crazies dancing in glee at the tears of the families of fallen service members' funerals. The Jones' aren't going to be the ones facing the backlash – they'll just sit back and watch the reaction to poking a stick in the hornet's nest, not caring who gets stung.

    But then again, maybe he's one of those people who has no problems with burning religious icons? I wonder if he buys large crosses in bulk? I also wonder who provides financing for this "world outreach center" that no-one has ever heard of?

    To paraphrase Heinlein: The problem with zealots isn't that they're willing to die for their cause – it's that they're willing to let *you* die for their cause instead.

    August 21, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  17. sam

    This shows the world that Christianity is a violent racist religion based on hate. By the way the Koran forbids the burning of the bible and the turah and before being a true Muslim one has to believe in the bible, Jesus, Moses and the Turah. Read the Koran if you want to learn the truth don't listen to what extremists and news media tell you. Islam gave the rights to Women long before the US did, Islam said all people are equal no matter their skin color long before the US and Europe did and by the way visit many Muslim countries like Morocco, Tunis, Indonesia....you'll see many churches and synagogues and see people practicing their religion freely. Yes there are always some extremists but they are the minority and the US media focus on them to add to fear against Islam.The only way find out for yourselves read the Koran, you'll be amazed. kat stevens and Malcom x did.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:58 am |
    • The Dude

      I have to disagree with you a little, Sam. Christianity has come a long way in the last few centuries. I'd take burning books over burning "witches" any day of the week. Condone it, no, of course not. Maybe a couple centuries from now they can burn up some cigarettes instead while pondering how silly all of this was.

      August 21, 2010 at 3:33 am |
  18. RT

    Wow. I've read some comments and it is really sad to see people living in this day and age making painful comments to a particular religion or sets of people. Being a Muslim following the interpretation of the Ahmadiyya sect I'm deeply offended by certain individuals making disgusting comments towards Islam. We’re not living in year 1200 or something where the world is not integrated very well. We’re living in an age where one can dig deep and find the truth in a peaceful manner. What I don't understand is why do people think they 'understand' a particular religion by looking at its followers, in order to understand the teachings of a religion one should look at the very source, i.e Holy Quran. I haven't seen a single commenter giving reference from the Holy Qur’an proclaiming how awful the teachings are but instead people are attaching certain individuals to Islam to satisfy their hate towards it. If all of a sudden I converted to Christianity and flew a plane into a building located in a Muslim country would that mean all Christians are like that or the teachings of the Bible are like that (Btw there are far more heinous things that ‘Christians’ have done in the past)? Having said that, holding events like these prove nothing! In fact, what they do prove is that the person(s) committing the act is seriously ill and lacks the knowledge to have a debate/discussion in a peaceful manner; such people hate peace and hate humanity! And I don’t only mean this for people like Mr. Terry Jones but all those people from all the religion who love violence, including people from Al Qaeda or Taliban. Although I have no authority to denounce a person from calling themselves Muslims or Christians, it is only Allah (God) who knows best, but to me, Terry Jones is NOT following the teachings of Jesus (peace be on him) and Osama Bin Laden is NOT following the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

    August 21, 2010 at 12:57 am |
  19. SLafitte

    Could we get over the sensitivity of religion already? It's the 21st Century. The material the Bible/Quran or any other Holy text are printed on is totally worthless. It what it means to you in your heart is where it gets it value...grow up.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:56 am |
  20. wallychamp

    Ay guys! Guess what? This is also useless because there is no god! Hooray!

    August 21, 2010 at 12:53 am |
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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.