Dove World church plan for Koran burning triggers counterprotests
The pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., is no stranger to controversy. Interfaith groups and others are mobilizing to protest his planned Koran burning on Sept. 11.
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He denounced a local political candidate in Gainesville as unworthy of election because he was gay. He sent teens to school in T-shirts with the slogan “Islam is of the Devil.” He has decorated church property with similar signs. Now he wants to make a bonfire out of a book more than 1 billion Muslims revere as divine revelation to the Prophet Mohammed.
Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center is on a mission. According to his sermons and writings, he believes it is essential for Christians to take a stand against what he sees as violations of God’s law.
He says that Islam is “evil” and “the anti-Christ,” and that those who fight it are doing God’s work.
“The churches must stop hiding. We must stand up,” he says in a video statement on his website. He said Islam has a vision of world domination and unlimited financial resources “to make that vision become a reality.”
The book-burning protest, scheduled for Sept. 11, is designed to attract attention. Local officials and local religious leaders are now worried it is attracting too much attention, and the wrong kind of attention.
Gainesville police are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to monitor threats and head off any attempts to retaliate against Dr. Jones and his Dove World church.
City officials have refused to issue a fire permit to Jones. He says the move is a violation of his free speech rights, and he insists that the book burning will take place anyway.
Counterprotests are planned across the street from the church during the burning. In addition, the Gainesville Interfaith Forum is organizing a “Gathering for Peace, Understanding, and Hope.” That event is set for Sept. 10, Friday night, and is open to Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and all others.
“The message I’m getting is that the vast, vast, vast majority of people believe that we can all get along,” says Dan Johnson, minister at Trinity United Methodist Church, where the gathering will be held. He said he’s receiving supportive e-mails from across the country.