Home > Current Events > All That I Really Care to Say About the Mosque Building/Koran Burning Incident.

All That I Really Care to Say About the Mosque Building/Koran Burning Incident.

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The whole Mosque building and Koran burning things seemed to be destined to intersect with each other, didn’t they?  I wanted to wait until after the anniversary of 9/11  to comment on the situation, so here goes.

By now everyone knows the story, so I will only briefly touch on the synopsis; Muslim folks in New York wanted to build a mosque near Ground Zero, and it made a lot of people mad.  A Florida pastor wanted to burn the Muslim Holy book, and that made a lot of people mad too.  The pastor tried to negotiate a halt in the construction by offering to cease his event.  Some people on both sides try to talk reasonably, some “he said, she said”, and now there’s no burning, and probably still some building.  Oh, and a lot of people are still mad. 

Here’s my take.  While we have people who probably have a positive intention at heart (and probably feel enlightened by their deity that their course of chosen action is correct), we still have people who are blindingly ignorant, don’t understand the concept of “in good taste”, and people who still paint an entire nation of people with the actions of only one of its representatives.  Also, people are idiots.   

Here’s what went wrong, from my perspective, on both sides of the fence. 

great take.

For the Muslims in New York and everywhere; you absolutely do have the right to practice your religion, and you have the legal right to purchase land and to construct holy buildings on it, even at the 9/11 Ground Zero site.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should though.  While I understand the argument that building there represents an evolution of healing, tolerance, and understanding of Islam in Western culture, the thing is, you can build a mosque ANYwhere else in the US and (probably) not have any trouble having it built (or at least, a lot less).  Really, truly, it’s not in good taste, and it is a little insensitive to build at that spot.  Not because the current builders and inhabitants would be terrorists or extremists and destroy other things, but for the simple reason that the people that blew up the World Trade Center claimed to be Islamic.  Those people that committed that horrible atrocity, and the rest that they are connected with, do skew and misrepresent the true, peaceful teachings of Islam, I know.  The world needs to see more good Muslim people in order to understand the negative generalization that has been made towards the religion of Islam.  In the past nine years since 9/11, I think we have come a long way and made good progress in seeing people for who they really are, regardless of their religious or non-religious affiliation; there just seem to be many more ways and locations that we can continue to make steady and gainful progress at, and building at this site just is not one of them.  TV interviews that show innocent bystanders that aren’t Muslim and happen to have dark skin berated for wanting to build the mosque shows the level of ignorance that still exists, and that America’s still not quite ready to make that step.  I think they deserve all the time they need.

For Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida; I’m not sure where he was going to get all those Korans from in the first place, but if he purchased them, or if people were voluntarily burning them in a fire on his property, well it would seem he has the legal right to do that as well, as long as he wasn’t violating any local by-laws.  Of course for him as well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he should either.  Jones was quoted as saying the purpose of the burning would be to expose Islam as dangerous and radical.  And while he very well may have felt enlightened by God to perform such an act, or interpreted a certain scripture that made him believe he needed to do that, the only thing he really achieved was painting himself as an equally radical misrepresentation of his religion, and invoking worldwide anger towards him, America, and Christianity from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

          I think in Terry’s heart, he probably meant well, and that he felt he was doing the right thing (I hope so, anyways).  He obviously believes very strongly in his religious convictions, and wants to defend the Biblical teachings via his own interpretations.  He may also have felt that the mosque building in New York was in poor taste, and thought he had found a way to put a stop to it in the name of God. 

          On one hand, you have to give him credit; garnering worldwide exposure from a church with a congregational populous of 50 is no easy feat.  But on the other, a quick Wikipedia search will show you that Mr. Jones isn’t exactly a “model” Christian.  He has been accused of running a church like a sect leader, using psychological pressure on members; was fined $3800 by Cologne courts for improperly using the title “doctor”; ejected by the congregation in Cologne for being a Christian fundamentalist, and due to untenable theological statements and craving for recognition, amid allegations of financial impropriety; and earlier this year, he published Islam is of the Devil, a book denouncing Islam as a violent faith (only $17.99, available at amazon.com [for interest’s sake only; I am not promoting its sale]).  This has been one hell of a book tour.    

          I don’t think that even Jones himself expected the amount of negative feedback, violence and death threats, and jihadist activity that he has inspired.  Without even one flicker of a flame, he’s now not only endangered himself, but his own congregation, and Christians and Americans currently residing in the US or abroad.  While his now non-action was on a much smaller scale, it was an extreme and unnecessary measure.  The Bible does teach that God is the one, true God, and to not have any other gods before you; but it also teaches love, peace, forgiveness, and tolerance through Jesus Christ.  While the latter are fundamentals of the New Testament, it is interesting that Mr. Jones’ church claims to be a New Testament Church; I really don’t see any of those values coming out of Terry through this event. 

On the outside, a mosque is just a building made of building materials, and the Koran is just paper with words written on it and bound together.  There are plenty of mosques already built, and many more will be built too, all over the world.  There are a lot of Korans that have been printed in the world, and one day’s burning of them is not near enough to even put a dent in the global total of them.  In truth, it will probably make it increase.  But the continuing and ongoing problem is the ignorant view from both sides to each other; clearly neither side has made a large enough effort to understand the other, to understand the deeper meaning of these items to the other party, and to act in good taste and representation of their own religion.  The underlying problem is that we have humans at the root, and that we people are imperfect, no matter how much education, power, money, and enlightenment we acquire.    

As mad as I was after 9/11, it was an opportunity to grow in understanding.  Since then, I have studied a small portion of Islamic teaching in school, and more importantly, met actual Muslim people who are, in fact, quite pleasant.  We need to see people for people, not groups for people.  There are definitely some Islamic terrorists, but there are also some idiotic Christians.  And Atheists, Buddhists, Hindu’s, Americans, Canadians, French, English, Korean, Nigerian, and just some non-religious, all-around jackasses.  But there are also a lot of very nice people from all those groups as well; if we ever took the time to meet more people and understand them on a personal level, maybe then we could stop infuriating each other so frequently.

Let’s hope this is as far as this whole saga goes.

  1. Greg Samborski
    September 12, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Well written Dave! I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. mitch
    September 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Well written dave.
    That being said, Muslims should be allowed to build at the original site in NY, anyone who is upset by this should look into the nation of islam the same way you did. I’m sure they wouldn’t be so reactionary after understanding that 99.99999% of Muslim people would never, ever, take the extreme measures that those few individuals did. It is extreme hypocrisy for anyone, whether they be from a religion or not, to try to take some moral high ground in this situation. Whether you’re christian, muslim, hindu or agnostic, there is someone of your faith, or lack there of, that has done something atrocious to another group of people. How do you think the jews felt when the catholic church would open churches near their homes after they were completely sold down the river by the pope during the holocaust. Probably not too stoked to see one being built.

    What upsets me the most is how once again humanity is making a huge deal out of an age old unanswerable argument between two sides that believe in two unprovable hypothesis. What a waste of time. I’m also pissed as a journalism student. The media has created an absolute monster out of this Florida “preacher” and have given him a platform to spew his hate. Notice how Obama only referred to him as the “individiual” from Florida. It’s the media’s responsibility to report the news that’s worth reporting, instead they’ve give a Pastor Phelps-like crackpot his fifteen minutes of fame that will only tell crackpots around America that they too can get attention if they only say something stupid enough.

    Phew 😉

    • September 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks Mitch.

      I think the Catholic churches/holocaust/jews thing is a great example. But the thing is, it’s never too late for a current generation to “do the right thing”, if only in one instance. While a groups’ past (and probably its future too) may indeed be littered with hypocrisy, it does not mean that the current human individuals of that group (as imperfect as they are) in today’s time cannot grow up enough to make at least one good decision. The Jews certainly weren’t pumped about that move from the Catholics, and neither would the people of New York today if the mosque was built. It’s absolutely within their legal rights to build, but in the interest of peace, cohabitation, showing love to thy neighbor, or any other virtue preached by a religion or not that points towards peaceful societal progression, they should just do it somewhere else. To clarify that, if we all could just stop doing things that piss each other off (or even better, at least listen to the other side when they’re clearly telling you they object to what you’re doing, and try to understand why instead of just writing them off as crazy or just plain wrong), back off and find some other place or way you can do what you’re trying to do; then maybe we could start having rational discussions and making improvements that can actually help this world and its people grow together rather than making it all implode.

      As for the preacher; you make another interesting point that I heard another TV reporter comment on recently. Truth be told, it was a pretty insignificant thing he was doing when you step back from it all; and maybe if it hadn’t been covered at all, it may not have escaladed the way it did. But either way, it did, and to the point that people in other countries (example: my sister-in-law, who commented below) were actually feeling fearful, and that definitely became newsworthy.

      It’s just too bad that so many individuals do so many stupid things that make entire groups of people look bad.

  3. Michael Quirk
    September 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Indeed, well written. I appreciate your thoughts and your objective approach.

  4. Jer B
    September 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I think that the nut job pastor should be charged with reckless endangerment. He was putting myself and my family at risk with his actions. It was the first time we have felt any fear living in a Muslim country.

    • September 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      wow, that is crazy. I had only heard speculations of that happening over there, so it’s nuts that it was actually happening to you guys. What were you experiencing? I think you make a good case for his charge.

  5. becky
    September 12, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Well said. Agreed. Crazy Jer, I think it’s incredibly reckless and naive of him to think his actions would not have repurcutions for others. Very irresponsible.

  6. caseyjayfodor
    September 13, 2010 at 6:16 am

    as soon as I heard about this new Islamic centre in NYC, the first thing I did was go onto google maps and see how many other mosques were around ground zero. when the search results netted numerous little red circles all over the map, a little bit more googling (yes, it’s a verb) provided me with some figures… 1.4 million muslims in New York who practice at over 100 mosques currently existing in the city. anyone who has ever watched home alone, sex in the city, or any nbc sitcom knows that new york is drastically over-dense and the only empty space is in central park. i don’t think the intent of this mosque was to be near ground zero. i think it was to be near the 1.4 million muslims. there are 2 huge churches even closer to ground zero than this proposed mosque. this is the centre of the most religiously diverse city in the world (true story). everybody should have the freedom to practice whatever religion they like. americans need to stop listening to the media and leave the judgements to ummm……judges. the constitution exists for a reason. extreme christian koran burning type of guys exist all over the states im sure, and this would never have even been an issue if it wasnt for cnn and fox news. people need to stop watching tv and remember the fundamental values that dave listed. i am not religious at all and never have been, but i still believe in love, peace, forgiveness, and tolerance. if everyone in the world felt the same way we could move past war for religion and war for oil and get to some real issues that could move humanity in the right direction so that the earth can be enjoyed by generations to come.

    • September 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

      wow, very well researched response, Casey. I don’t know that we should rely on TV and movies’ representations of NY to tell us what the city is like (though set in NY, Seinfeld was filmed mainly in LA afterall), I know that’s not the point of your comment, and I’m not saying it is (But interestingly, it’s the live news media broadcasts that are skewing the picture this time, rather than the fictional portraits). NY definitely is an extremely populous-dense place. And you’re probably right about them trying to build close to their congregation; I know I’d rather go to the church down the street than the one on the other side of the city.

      I couldn’t agree more with your last two lines — thanks for them!

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