How can anyone think that an act of hate and religious fanaticism—the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001–can somehow be redeemed by an act of intolerance and religious stupidity?
I have been trying to decide whether Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Center in Gainesville, who is planning to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, has any idea of how much harm and persecution his action will bring upon Christians living around the world–and specifically those living in countries with a majority Muslim population. I have traveled extensively in the Middle East, and I am quite familiar with the precarious situation of Christians in that area.
I can only appeal to him to desist from an action that will hurt his Christian brothers and sisters around the world; they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of his fanatical act.
As an American, I also appeal to his patriotism and concern for our U.S. troops. General David Petraeus, our commander in Afghanistan, has warned that this planned act of disrespect and destruction of the Muslim scriptures will both endanger our troops already in perilous situations and harm our relationship with those Muslim countries that are our sincere allies.
Every page of the Quran that burns will recruit to the ranks of Islamic extremists hundreds of irate Muslims, who will see in this action a confirmation of claims by Al Qaeda and the Taliban that Americans are engaged in our own jihad against the followers of Islam.
What would Jesus do? I am quite sure that burning the holy scriptures of another faith would never be his choice. Our Lord said from the cross where he died, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
I would remind Pastor Jones that our Lord forgives what we find it impossible to forgive and challenges us to move beyond fear, suspicion and hatred to “love one another.”
I want to assure the followers of Islam here and around the world that the planned actions of the Dove Center do not represent the true values and beliefs of the followers of Jesus Christ, who tells us that the greatest commandment is love.
The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade
Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida