News just in says that Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, has decided to cancel his plan to hold a “Koran-burning day” tomorrow. Thank God for that. But you must agree that he was remarkably successful at getting people’s attention just by the mere suggestion of the intention to commit such an act. Everyone from the Whitehouse to the Vatican came out and publically pleaded with the man to reconsider. Mind you, there are places in the world where the pressure to “reconsider” his plans would have been applied rather less publically and rather more persuasively. But in the Good Ol’ U. S. of A. Pastor Jones’ right to go ahead with his plan of action was protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech.
My one observation to add to the whole mix is that the desecration of the Koran to a Muslim is rather more like the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament to a Catholic than the desecration of a Bible – although the latter would be shocking enough. To give an example, Catholics would have no difficulty with placing a bible on the floor (eg. next to your chair in a study room), but Muslims would never do such a thing to the Koran. We wouldn’t do it to the Blessed Sacrament either. That’s more the parallel here.
So what have we learned from all this? Probably not a lot. Pastor Jones was upset by the plans to build a Mosque at Ground Zero. He saw it as provocative. So he wanted to retaliate by doing something provocative in return. Despite the fact that the plans to build the Mosque at Ground Zero have become a source of contention, it was never the intention of the Imam who initially suggested it (whom I have met, by the way, on a visit to Melbourne a couple of years ago) that it should be. I can understand people thinking that his suggestion to locate a mosque at Ground Zero was not a wise one – for a raft of reasons – although it is sad that it should have been received by many as a point of provocation. Pastor Jones on the other hand had provocation as his major purpose in his plan to hold a Koran-burning day right from the start. He felt pain and wanted to cause pain in return to those whom he blamed for his pain.
Friends, this is silly. And dangerous. Anyone who has ever been a parent knows how these things escalate.
“Tommy broke my toy”.
“It was an accident”.
“Well, I going to break one of your toys.”
“You *%^@#!!! Now you’re really going to get it.”
PUNCH, KICK, SCREAM, HOWLING.
As Pope Benedict told the ambassador to the Holy See from Morocco in 2006: “Violence as a response to offences can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion.”