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Opinion

Opinion

Burning more than the Quran

September 8, 2010

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Saturday is International Burn a Quran Day.

Perhaps you hadn’t heard. The day is the brainchild of one Terry Jones, pastor of the tiny Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. You will not be surprised to hear that his plan to build a bonfire of Qurans has stirred passions around the world. The New York Times reports Jones has been condemned by Muslim leaders in Egypt, Indonesia and elsewhere and that some U.S. preachers plan to read the Quran in Sunday services as an act of religious solidarity. Supporters have encouraged Jones to barbecue the Quran with pork, a meat Islam forbids. A young Muslim student at the University of Florida told The Miami Herald of the “uneasiness” she now feels.

And if you’re wondering how Jones picked the day for this repugnant act, it’s simple. Saturday is the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In other words, he proposes to commemorate an act of hate with an act of hate.

He will do this, he says, even though he’s been denied a permit.

He will do it, he says, in the face of protest from Christians and Muslims alike.

He will do it, he says, even though half his church has deserted him.

He will do it, he says, even though it cannot help but inflame radical Muslims.

He will do it, he says, even though it might place U.S. soldiers overseas at risk.

And the surprising thing is that none of this is surprising. To the contrary, you find yourself wondering how something like this did not happen long ago. After all, what Jones plans to do feels sadly predictable, pathetically in line with the kind of sentiments that have been oozing out of our computers, televisions and radios for years now. Indeed, it is difficult to escape a sickening sense that he only reflects the Zeitgeist of a nation that seems to have grown not simply more intolerant, but more “accepting” of its intolerance, more “comfortable” with its intolerance, more willing to rationalize its intolerance, than at any time in almost 50 years.

It’s hardly news anymore when a conservative pundit or public figure — and yes, that’s almost always the profile — says something belittling, bellicose, ignorant or hateful about gay people, Hispanics, blacks or undocumented immigrants.

And Muslims? Lord, it’s been open season on them for years, the increasingly strident denunciations of Islam culminating in this summer of discontent, of angry protest of proposed mosques, not just in lower Manhattan, but also in such far-flung burgs as Murfreesboro, Tenn., Temecula, Calif., and Sheboygan, Wis.

Jones’ plan, then, feels somehow ... inevitable. “Of course” he’s going to fuel a bonfire with Islam’s holy book. Haven’t human beings often resorted to fire to purge themselves of that they fear and misunderstand? The Nazis did it in the 1930s, throwing books into flames as a way of killing the dangerous ideas on their pages. Southern whites did it in the 1950s, throwing rock ’n’ roll records into fire as a way of denying the cultural miscegenation the music proved.

There is in the act of burning something primitive and tribalistic, something that appeals to the lizard brain that has no ability or desire to reason, no comprehension of ideals and abstract concepts, that knows only that it lives in fear of a world it cannot understand and will do anything to send the fear away. The process of becoming a truly human being is the process of conquering that lizard brain. Unfortunately, some people never do.

On Saturday, some of those people will gather round a bonfire to watch pages blacken and curl and turn to smoke. You listen to the hatred spewing from respectable leaders in prominent places, you think of how normal that has become, and one thing suddenly seems starkly clear:

We’re burning a whole lot more than books.

Comments

bevy 3 years, 7 months ago

This "pastor" immediately put me in mind of Phred. He blackens the name of Christ and all true believers. There is no love in this act, it promotes nothing but intolerance and misunderstanding. Perhaps the Rev. needs to read his Bible (though his relationship with books and ideas is apparently tenuous if not downright adversarial.) Even if he considers Muslims his enemy, the Bible says "Love your enemies and bless those that persecute you."

I never thought I'd see a Leonard Pitts article that I would agree with. Is this a sign of the apocalypse?

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 months ago

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/bizarre/koran-burner-creepier-you-think "Rev." Jones is a piece of work, he is. Check this out for a better understanding of his mental disease.

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independant1 3 years, 7 months ago

The koran/q'uran burning, not a good idea The bulding of muslim center near ground zero, not a good idea burning the flag, not a good idea burning the bible, not a good idea

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BornAgainAmerican 3 years, 7 months ago

In other news, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, says the Koran burning should not take place because 'it is going to feed into the radicals in the Muslim world". He also says he will continue with plans to build his "multifaith" center for the same reason. Does he know that there is proclaimed jihad in place from the radicals already? Will they increase their efforts to kill Americans if the mosque is not built in this location? This Imam's audacity is alarming.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/ground-mosque-imam-project-ahead-interest-national-security/story?id=11589316

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Turbin_Cowboy 3 years, 7 months ago

This is great news for Obama. From this 911 Koran burning forward, he and his minions will be able to blame all "Freedom Fighter" events on this Koran burning.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

In other news: "..As a matter of policy, the Saudi regime shreds Bibles and other non-Islamic religious materials and items confiscated from those entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Institute has confirmed this policy: "As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps Bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia," the Saudi Institute said in an article posted on its website. "Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Koran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is confiscated and destroyed by government officials," it said..." http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/203850.php

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 7 months ago

If this gets the attention of radical Islam; it's like this guy is out hitting a killer-bee hive like it's a pinata.

I guess we'll see what happens.

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geoismeo 3 years, 7 months ago

Pitts forgot to mention another group of people who like to burn things when they don't get thier way.

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niles 3 years, 7 months ago

Why waste toilet paper? I could see burning them in the dead of winter... Let us be pragmatic.

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overplayedhistory 3 years, 7 months ago

Having a party! Do you want to come? burning, Bibles, Qurans, Torahs, The Vedas, Satanic verses, and The Tao Te Ching for good measure. I hope it is not actually a good thing when you burn satanic verses. However, people who want to come to burn copies of Einstein Relativity will incite my fanatical violent rage.

Way to stimulate debate about unprovable Dogmas LJW. Stay classy LJW staff.

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dizzy_from_your_spin 3 years, 7 months ago

Gee, what if the pastor of a 50-member backwater church decided to burn a quran and nobody paid any attention?

No, let the press and politicians swarm and feed him the attention he craves.

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seriouscat 3 years, 7 months ago

Islam needs its own Enlightenment.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 7 months ago

Why isn't Hilary taking public note of Fred Phelps? Why doesn't Petraeus inquire about why Fred dropped out from Westpoint, when he had planned to go.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, someone else made a note that Phlorida now has it's own very popular Phred Phelps. But the issue with me is the same as the moron of Topeka.

Why the hell does this story even exist? Why did some news-idiot give this any copy?This little band of bigots and idiots, much like the Topeka mental midgets, would not exist if they did not get any attention. Just what is gained by publishing the bizzare acts of one little stupid alleged pastor who is reality is a prejudiced, bigoted moron. There are plenty of them around, why make note of this one stupid jerk? This whole mess could have been avoided if the media rampant for ratings and advertising revenue had just left this alone and left these psuedo-religious slugs to stew in their own juice.

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tange 3 years, 7 months ago

So, whut?

Is some little man gonna burn some little hard copies?

Maybe he could really work himself up and scribble on the pages first.

( Yeah, that would show them. That would show us all, huh? )

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eldude 3 years, 7 months ago

I might be late on this but here it goes. This is cut from the same cloth as all the pinkos in this country that burn our flag ect ect. So along those lines where is the ACLU during all of this. Im begining to feel that the ACLU only gets involved when people are anti christan. Burning bibles and flags thats ok? Well then burn those Korans baby burn em good. I voted for this clown of a president and I think I will regret it for the rest of my life.

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Clark Coan 3 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone believe in the Bill of Rights anymore? What about burning a Confederate flag at the Confederate Memorial (like Mt. Rushmore but for Davis, Lee and Stonewall Jackson) at Stone Mt. Park, Georgia?

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

You may care if you live in or around Gainesville---or anywhere for that matter. You'd care if a imam and a mosque or group of mosques had a bible burning ceremony here on US soil. And it may happen now, who knows. Imagine that debacle. I can promise you the recruitment of willing and able radical islam jihadists will be on the rise. That's great, isn't it? You may care when AfPak gets so hot we can't gain a millimeter of ground. Your comment is ridiculous. We have enough problems as it is.

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ChiHawkInKS 3 years, 7 months ago

Let them burn a stack of Quran's 40 stories high... who cares.

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gudpoynt 3 years, 7 months ago

doing my part to defeat the spread of fear and hatred by ceasing to devote any more attention to these sad, pitiful people. On three, ready? One... two... three.

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preebo 3 years, 7 months ago

I love how this place and this Pastor are living up to the Church's name. Dove World Outreach Center? Dove, isn't that the Judeo-Christian symbol for Peace? World, doesn't that include the middle-east, where a majority of Muslims reside and practice their particular faith? Outreach, how exactly is burning the religious doctrine of over one-billion people reaching out?

It's easy to evangelize those who already share your foundation for faith (US and Europe), but it is quite another to reach out to those with differing religious views (Middle East) and spread the message of Christ in an effort to allow His words to prevail.

Why not have a "Watchtower" burning celebration, or for that matter, a Book of Mormon burnin'? I mean these doctrines diverge from that of mainstream Christianity, so why not expand the festivities to them?

This is nothing more than veiled bigotry, and thinly veiled at that.

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Turbin_Cowboy 3 years, 7 months ago

I have seen the light. Too many people would be upset if the Koran Skygod book was burned. It is important that people are not upset. It too is important that the community center is built near ground zero. Too many people would be upset if it were not.

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Boosh 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh noes I jest seen da United way kickoff carny add up top. the background looks mightily like de risining sun flag from WWII. It's a conspiracy I tells ya :)

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BABBOY 3 years, 7 months ago

I consider myself a pretty big liberal.

I have only a couple comments. First, I agree with Tom Shewmon's original post. This idiot Terry Jones has the right to burn these books and it is his right to express this opinion in a fre country. I will never challenge that. I agree with Tom that Terry Jones has put himself in bad position. But, maybe the lives to be in that kind of crazy missed up position. The comparison to Fred Phelps (only without the free legal department) is accurate.

Secondly, Devobrun, you are flipping idiot. I respect the right of anyone to believe any religion they want. But, where you got wrong is that too often the bible beaters will try to inject Christian religion as some official stance or the main religion. I got a huge problem with anyone telling me what to believe or religion to follow. So, yeah, you bible beaters run foul with me a lot because making people believe what you believe seems to be an open goal of yours.

But, how in the flip does that mean I support Islam? Where do you make that stupid leap in logic?

While I respect the right for someone to be Muslim, that does not mean I support any of their extremist conduct and further would equally look at disdain with anyone trying to push Islam on me anymore then any other religion. As liberal, no one tells me what to do.

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Bossa_Nova 3 years, 7 months ago

this idiot pastor jones is scum. just like bin laden, he is looking to pick a fight and cause animosity between the christians and muslims. the christian leaders who have denounced this guy deserve a gold star.

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ChiHawkInKS 3 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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mbulicz 3 years, 7 months ago

So the best way to rally against fundamentalist pyromaniac extremists is to gather our fundamentalist pyromaniac extremists.

The best part is that I imagine few if any of these Florida zealots own a Quran and had to go out and buy one. I'm sure the publication companies will thank this group for their quarterly numbers.

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Eride 3 years, 7 months ago

Why shouldn't he be able to burn the Koran? Why shouldn't a newspaper be able to publish an image of Mohammad?

To me the fact that it "will incite violence against Americans" is a great reason to burn it. Someone needs to stand up and say enough is enough. People accuse this priest of being religiously intolerant, and that may be, but the truly intolerant ones are the Muslims who would harm innocent people because someone burned a book or published an image of their prophet.

I doubt we would see Christians threatening to go behead people if a group of Muslims burned bibles or made fun of Jesus (which hey, people do all the time...).

Maybe this particular person's reasons for wanting to burn it is wrong but the act itself is not.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

BTW, if you guys are sick of the Fox News logo, I'll change it. You know I do it because I like to keep you guys sharp.......it must be like sunlight to a vampire when hou scroll down and see it. ;-)

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

The only good to come out of this nutcase's shenanigan is it actually makes us here on this forum (including Leonard Pitts) all agree for a change. It'll be interesting to see what transpires between now and Saturday.

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rooster 3 years, 7 months ago

Well I think that 9/11 would make a great day for a good ol bible burning too.

Who's up for it?

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rooster 3 years, 7 months ago

Well I think that 9/11 would make a great day for a good ol bible burning too.

Who's up for it?

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balishag 3 years, 7 months ago

Sure, this guy maybe a redneck. But if Muslims are allowed to build a mosque at ground zero, then I'm A-OK with this guy burning the Koran.

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beatrice 3 years, 7 months ago

Two thoughts -- first is that this guy has received his moment of fame and the media, including Pitts, is giving him far more attention than the crackpot deserves. Time to move on. He doesn't represent American values, and he doesn't represent Christians, as they have stated. The media will be all over this story, when they should just ignore it. If someone burns a book in the forest with no one else around, will anybody else care?

Second thought is, Fred Phelps must be upset that he didn't come up with this hateful idea first.

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autie 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Shirley Roper Phelps and the Debil spawend an offspring and they named it Terry. ?????

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Agnostick 3 years, 7 months ago

"Haraam?" Can't say I'm familiar with that word, Mullah. Perhaps you have a few moments to instruct us, before you go off stalking merrill again...

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

Respect for the faiths of others is haraam, isn't it?

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like maybe this guy has some things in common with Fred Phelps.

Maybe they could get together to talk about gay muslims?

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Richard Payton 3 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if this Terry Jones is any relation to Jim Jones from the Jonestown cult suicides?

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demonfury 3 years, 7 months ago

"It’s hardly news anymore when a conservative pundit or public figure — and yes, that’s almost always the profile — says something belittling, bellicose, ignorant or hateful about gay people, Hispanics, blacks or undocumented immigrants."

Way to go Lenny !!! You wouldn't be you unless you found a way to integrate the color of your ignorant a$$ into your articles. I can't remember the last article you wrote that didn't reference your race in one capacity or another. Try getting some new material, huh? This one's all fished out.

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mbulicz 3 years, 7 months ago

How about this for a counter-protest?

Let's collect books from all around the community of all faiths and donate them to respective houses of worship.

I'm not huge on religion myself, but I can definitely respect wanting to make the world a better place through kindness. Petty bickering and book burning just makes us the stereotypical western Christian imperialist country in the extremists' eyes.

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Scott Kaiser 3 years, 7 months ago

The pastor has no permit, ergo, he will be arrested. Further media coverage which he obviously seeks. My query involves the ACLU. Where are they on all of this? Which side will they jump to? Or will they be completely silent? I'll be watching to see, though I have my own ideas of the answers to these questions....

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Steven Gaudreau 3 years, 7 months ago

Freedom of speech cuts both ways doesn't it? I find this as offensive as burning the American flag or protestors at funerals.

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Cait McKnelly 3 years, 7 months ago

"Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people." German poet, Heinrich Heine, 1823

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Hydra 3 years, 7 months ago

Burn books? No Burn Flags? No Burn bra's? Only in some cases!

I wonder what the posters in todays world would have said about dumping tea in Boston Harbor?

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

They should just behead some unbelievers & call it good.

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Bruce Springsteen 3 years, 7 months ago

The man's theology is perfectly consistent internally, and with the attitudes conveyed in the Bible which nowhere calls for religious "tolerance," but touts just the opposite. If you accept the premises of this preacher's faith, hatred for Islam and its "false prophet" is an obvious, necessary outcome. If Pitts deplores this kind of hateful religious expression and wants to actually persuade anyone who doesn't already agree with him, he need to debunk the man's premises, which of course Pitts cannot do because religion has no objective criteria, only bald, competing assertions and emotional appeals.

Pitts always zeroes right in on the easy targets, the obvious fools and bigots, and has made a career of that lazy pastime. But he never engages the intellectually hard, socially awkward issues, such as how "liberal" believers -- like Pitts himself -- distort the actual content and character of their holy books to conform to modern, tolerant, secular values and humane intuitions, while dragging all the lousy baggage of their primitive traditions along, needlessly dignifying and perpetuating the whole poisoned mess. If Pitts thinks this guy has his Bible wrong, let him bring out his theological and exegetic credentials and prove it. Let him specifically repudiate the many revolting ideas in the Bible (and Quran) he considers invalid, and explain the basis for his editing choice. He can begin with Hell and vicarious atonement for original sin. Let him explicitly state and prove that Christians who accept those doctrines are wrong, or if he believes in them himself, explain his moral ascendency over a loud-mouthed guy who burns a few books.

Otherwise, he's just name-calling on an obviously tacky man, to no real purpose, and arrogating for himself the same evidence-free religious authority his adversaries claim. Yeah, the Quran-burner guy's distasteful and stupid, but can you demonstrate that he's wrong?

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porch_person 3 years, 7 months ago

Ok, I think everyone is in agreement that Terry Jones has suffered some significant cerebral infarct in his frontal lobes.

Now we can exercise the intelligence that we have (and he doesn't) and contemplate whether the same lines of thought which are "inspiring" Pastor Jones also inform the protest against the Cordoba Center in New York.

The protest against the Islamic community center in Manhattan has no more rational basis than this book burning.

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macon47 3 years, 7 months ago

i dont think this is right but i dont like burning bibles or the american flag and this seems acceptable so what is the difference?

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 7 months ago

In 1522 John Calvin burned bibles. He was a protestent reformer who called translated versions counterfeit( because the text was not in Latin) Mr. Calvn felt that those who translated may have been altering the beliefs of the people. Despite this christianty has continued to flourish for centuries. Terry Jones isn't proving anything except how very ignorant he really is.

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skinny 3 years, 7 months ago

As the general said, this may directly result in soldiers' deaths.

This is how stupid this is. Why would anyone kill somebody over a religious belief? It is all make believe anyway! Wonder if they believe in Santa Claus too? Oh ya, that is a Christian belief, not Islam, sorry!

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devobrun 3 years, 7 months ago

"It’s hardly news anymore when a conservative pundit or public figure — and yes, that’s almost always the profile — says something belittling, bellicose, ignorant or hateful about gay people, Hispanics, blacks or undocumented immigrants."

And it's hardly news anymore, Mr. Pitts, when a liberal pundit or public figure--and yes, that's almost always the profile---says something bellicose, ignorant or hateful about northern Georgia, redneck, flyover-country rubes, or Christians.

The reverend in north Florida has gotten just what he wants. Publicity. This story is all over the place. It raises the questions not addressed by the left regarding how people view Islam. We are now discussing the issue of Muslim violence and how the west can justify Sharia law, stoning of women, Kings and Princes and rulers who brutalize their subjects. You know, Islam.

Next column, Mr. Pitts, inform the masses how a liberal can hold Sharia Law and moral relativism in the same head. I admit that I haven't figured out how liberals aren't even more incensed by Islam than by fundamental Christianity. Talk about hating gays? Islam. Hating women's rights, Islam. How do you hold the fundamental tenets of Islam in your head and not join the burning of the Quran and what it stands for?

Could it be that you are just afraid to take Islam to task? You back Islam against the redneck because he doesn't threaten you, but a bomb might go off in your car if you write a column negative to Muslims?

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

This is the kind of thing that stretches the concept and scope of freedom of speech tighter than a banjo string. This guy is an idiot. Before you lefties make disparaging remarks at random and include be by name, please don't. I think this guy is an idiot, but what can stop him? I believe he'll suffer severe personal repercussions from this. He almost seems to have death wish. As the general said, this may directly result in soldiers' deaths.

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Turbin_Cowboy 3 years, 7 months ago

Desecration at the church of St. Paul in the village ‘Chak 77-RB’, ‘Lohekay’, about 30 kilometers from Faisalabad: on December 17, suspects burned a bible and other sacred texts, leaving a letter threatening Christians that they will "burn in the fire of hell" if they do not convert to Islam.

Pervez Masih tells AsiaNews that on that day, he and others were whitewashing and decorating the little church for Christmas. They stopped at noon for lunch, leaving the church open. When they returned, they found the bible and other sacred texts reduced to ashes, and a handwritten letter telling them to convert to Islam if they wanted to "live in peace" and avoid hell. In Pakistan, there is significant controversy over the law on blasphemy, condemning even to death those who offend the sacred book of Islam, the Qur'an. But nothing is done against blasphemous acts toward the books of other religions.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps they should build a Christian church just a few blocks from the Kaaba to teach the Saudis a lesson in tolerance.

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porch_person 3 years, 7 months ago

Terry Jones' fifteen minutes in the sun..... This is all about attention. No one is paying attention to Terry Jones. He's going to stop that. He's going to make the world sit up and take notice. He's "somebody". He can make people know he's alive. He can hurt people. He can get on television and be interviewed by well known people like Anderson Cooper. General Petraeus knows who he is. Terry Jones is important.

Terry Jones is currently the face of Western Christianity to the rest of the World.

Think about it, campers.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 months ago

Good column, Mr. Pitts. This nutcase is not helping the effort to bring an end to a 1,000+ year dispute with a 'competing' religion. The three skygods invented by the wandering tribes of the Middle East "rule" much of humanity. It is time to realize they all come from the same tradition, teach different versions of the golden rule and seek justice for their members and (we hope) for all others. Let us hope the Florida nuts reconsider, but I doubt they will.

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Stuart Evans 3 years, 7 months ago

of course, burning qurans will change the minds of people hopelessly addicted to their sky god. I'm sure if we held a bible burning right here in Lawrence, lots of christians would immediately change their ridiculous ideas too....

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75x55 3 years, 7 months ago

Pitts makes some good point. The 'pastor' is making a mockery of his witness, and can barely be considered rational.

Yes, he has free speech rights, and as a citizen can make his little 'statement', but in the same light as the ground zero mosque - it's not advisable or useful.

Pitts does take a slam-dunk column and ruin it though - I mean, really... "Zeitgeist"? What a piece of outdated intellectual puffery.

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obamarocks 3 years, 7 months ago

I think that muslims make better americans than christains do.

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Turbin_Cowboy 3 years, 7 months ago

Betraeus warned images of burning Koran could be used to incite anti-American sentiment similar to the pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

He should know. His "Friendly Fire" engagement rules i Afghanistan has killed more troops than when Bush reigned.

How does Betraeus, the Government, feel about Larry David voiding on Jesus and the artwork of Jesus made of feces?

Islamics Burn Books The Library of Alexandria was one of the best-known of the libraries of the ancient world. One of the interesting facts about the ancient world that seems to be missing from many history books is that there were many great collections of books and literature in ancient times and most were open to any scholar from anywhere in the world.

The library at Alexandria actually competed with that at Pergamum in amassing the most complete collection of books in the world. This went on in the 200's B. C., and it is interesting to note that there were already so many works in existence that obtaining a copy of each would have been an impossible undertaking even then. The destruction of this priceless treasure was a stroke of the most unimaginable bad luck. If Byzantine Egypt had been taken by one of the later Islamic conquerors, this irreplaceable collection would have been counted amongst the finest of the spoils of war to fall into a victor's hands.

Early in the year A. D. 642, Alexandria surrendered to Amrou, the Islamic general leading the armies of Omar, Caliph of Baghdad. Long one of the most important cities of the ancient world and capital of Byzantine Egypt, Alexandria surrendered only after a long siege and attempts to rescue the city by the Byzantines. On the orders of Omar, Caliph of Baghdad, the entire collection of books (except for the works of Aristotle) stored at the Library of Alexandria were removed and used as fuel to heat water for

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grammaddy 3 years, 7 months ago

I think it is so sad that a Pastor can be so filled with arrogance and hate that he is determined to do this.Not very Christian-like if you ask me.This is where fear-mongering will take us.

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bobberboy 3 years, 7 months ago

these people are almost as bad as the taliban - not quite but almost.

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