Burning Religious Texts

Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Thoughts | 10 comments

There has been a lot of stink over Pastor Terry Jones and his proposed 9/11 Qur’an burning party, so I thought I’d throw my opinion into the ring and see what comes of it. I’d be interested to see what you think too.

Pastor Terry Jones is a religious nutjob, part of a cult which is not only openly anti Islam, but also openly homophobic. As he is a Charismatic Christian leader, I hold his opinions as extremist anyhow, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that someone like him would be proposing such a stunt.

I don’t have a problem with burning the Qur’an, just as I have no problem with PZ Myers and his treatment of the Christian sacrament. The book is just a book, and that’s that. It’s a physical object, nothing more. While he’s at it he can throw in all his copies of the Bible also. Makes no difference to the world. The media have brought so much attention to his proposed bonfire, and all over a little book-burning. This is not a Fahrenheit 451 situation. He owns the books, and if he needs something to cook his hamburgers over, so be it. Who am I to say what a whackjob like him can do in his own backyard?

As a symbolic act though it is quite sickening to see this man using the tragedies of September 11 to justify his hatred of other people. The tragedies of 9/11 were perpetrated by people who were Muslim, true. But the broad brush of “they are all terrorists” is just not acceptable in today’s society, just as it would be remiss of me to say that all Christians are waiting for the Rapture to come so they can sit with God in heaven while the heathens like myself burn below.

AllĀ  this hype about 9/11 and the Muslim community is a little unsettling. I am by no means defending Islam as a good thing, in fact I’d say it’s more than a little backward in this day and age. However all the Muslims I know, apart from following Islam, are decent and kind folk, and I can forgive them for their faith as they were indoctrinated into it at a young age, as is done in their communities. It’s the “eye-for-an-eye” attitude of this pastor that gets my goat. He thinks that by burning the Muslim holy book (like I said, whatever) he will somehow prove that he and his faith, and America for that matter, is better than the Muslim community? And this is about MUCH more than the Islamic community center proposed for a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero.

Ground Zero is not a holy Christian site. It’s the site of one of the most heinous acts to be perpetrated on humanity in living history. The fact that, so some people, it has become synonymous with their Christian God is a little more than unsettling. Not every one of the people who perished in 9/11 were Christians, in fact there were people from all faiths in the buildings when they came tumbling to the ground. Every life lost on that day was a tragedy. Every one, regardless of their faith.

So the argument that Islam is somehow provoking a backlash by proposing this centre is moot. Sure the hijackers were Muslim, but does that speak for every Muslim? There was an Islamic prayer room on the 17th floor of the Twin Towers, and there is a pre-existing Islamic prayer space much closer to Ground Zero than the proposed Islamic community centre that’s been there for years. It makes no difference in the long run to have a community centre there, in fact it may be helpful in healing some of the bad blood that 9/11 has brought to the surface.

The proposed Qur’an burning is supposedly a reaction against this Islamic community center to try to teach Islam the lesson that “You cannot mess with America!” But the only thing it will achieve is that extremist Muslims will see this act of stupidity as a provocation, and because of all the attention this has received from the media, they may well act upon it in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

This is not about “Freedom of speech”. This is about “Should this idiot be allowed to possibly provoke the people of Islam into a mindset of revenge upon Americans?” He can say anything he likes, because he is an American, but he is throwing stones for the hell of it. And the Islamic faith is much more easy to agitate than that of most Christians.

And one last thing. Religion in this form is dangerous. Hatespeak is dangerous. People who breed this hatespeak are dangerous. This is because these things are not done in their own names, but in the name of their God. No responsibility will be taken, because this is the way they interpret the “wants of God”. Surely it’s not that Pastor Terry Jones is a narrow-minded, bigoted, nationalistic, bible-thumping reactionary himself, is it? Seems all too convenient, don’t you think?

EDIT: See what Olbermann and Obama have to say about this outrage.

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