The ninth anniversary of 9/11 is upon us amid controversy on two separate fronts—one just a short distance from ground zero and the other a thousand miles south of where the World Trade Center once dominated the skyline.
First there is the ongoing debate about building a Muslim community center near the location where the Twin Towers collapsed. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man spearheading the efforts to construct the center has spoken out in an op-ed piece posted on the New York Times website on Tuesday, September 7th.
“We are proceeding with the community center, Cordoba House," the imam wrote. "More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners. I am convinced that it is the right thing to do for many reasons.”
There remain significant questions regarding the financing of the structure—from what exact source will the $100 million for it come? Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf has vowed to “clearly identify” those involved in the funding.
Time will tell whether or not that promise will be kept. It’s amazing that in the swirling hoopla surrounding the proposed YMCA-like facility, there has not been a widespread demand for disclosure regarding finances.
Some investigations are taking place, but none of the exhaustive kind required to uncover shady bookkeeping. There have been reasonable misgivings about who is bankrolling the endeavor—it’ll be interesting to see where following the money takes us.
The second verbal fracas is happening in Gainesville, FL. Dr. Terry Jones, Senior Pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, is leading the charge for an International Burn a Koran Day to mark 9/11.
Fifteen reasons for burning a Koran have been posted on the organization’s website, in a pair of entries—“Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran”, followed by “5 More Reasons to Burn the Koran”.
The sequel comes complete with a disclaimer: “Let's just make one thing clear. A small church, in a small town, down a back road, burning copies of its own books, on its own property, is not responsible for the violent actions anyone may take in retaliation to our protest.”
Ah-huh. To accept that bit of preemptive washing of the hands as valid and acceptable necessitates the suspension of intelligence.
This planned book burning has likely got Adolf Hitler dancing with delight in his grave. It’s also causing knowledgeable people to reconsider Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451—it appears once again that Mr. Bradbury had a frighteningly prophetic voice.
To refer to Dove World Outreach Center as a church is a grotesque misuse of the English language. Its message and intentions are an abomination of the good news of Jesus Christ—the fear, loathing, and hatred expressed is a perversion that has nothing to do with the One known as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The separate controversies are connected by principles embedded in documents written by brilliant thinkers—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.
Regarding the ground zero mosque—Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has a constitutional right to build a religious center wherever bylaws and zoning allows. Denial of that has never been part of any serious debate on the merits of the proposal.
The real inquiry is this: Is it wise to insist on that particular turf if the true reason for the center is to build bridges, facilitate tolerance, and be an advocate for our common humanity?
Not at all likely—unless of course being provocative is the underlying motivation. If sensitivity and routine decency prevailed, a different site would be chosen.
In like manner, Dr. Terry Jones has a constitutional right to burn as many copies of the Koran as he wants. To deny him or his flock freedom of speech and expression would be a violation of liberty.
Is sponsoring and promoting an International Burn a Koran Day an act of wisdom? Absolutely not—it is a fear-mongering group of so-called Christians stirring up nests of Islamic-fascists. If sensitivity and routine decency—stuff contained within Christ’s Golden Rule—prevailed in this instance, the book burning would be cancelled.
Are we at war with Islam? No—an element within Islam embraced crackpot theology which birthed a cadre of lunatic-fringe cells that issued a declaration of war against freedom on 9/11.
Is Dr. Terry Jones merely misguided? No—his deranged theology is sickening in the extreme. It appeals to the darkest aspects of human nature, and poisons the atmosphere, perhaps for generations to come.
Every Christ-follower on the planet should apologize for this viral display of crackpot theology of the Christian variety. May we commemorate 9/11 by praying and working for peace.