Qur’an Burning

Yet again, we are faced with bigotry and intolerance in the name of religion. A pastor at a small church in Gainesville Florida (map) with a congregation of about 50 people has sparked a media explosion. The pastor, Reverend Terry Jones, wants to celebrate International Burn a Qur’an Day this coming Saturday September 11 at his church, the Dove World Outreach Center. This is all over the news. Many people reject the idea and don’t want him to go through with it, myself included. Even right-wing extremist Glenn Beck voiced his opposition, which nearly floored me in that he and I agree on almost nothing at all.

By the Constitution of the United States of America, Jones and his congregation have every right to burn a Qur’an, just the same as everyone here has a legal right to destroy an American flag or a Bible or a Torah (provided that it is their own property which they are destroying and they are not causing anyone harm, of course). The thing about this that gets so many people riled up it its blatant in-your-face religious intolerance. These people in Florida and other parts of the world (I’m certain Jones is far from alone) who plan to burn a Muslim holy book this weekend have it in their minds that Islamic people hate America and are bent on destroying western civilizations in the name of Allah. While it’s true that there are extreme radical people in the Muslim world who do indeed act violently in just such a way, as was made all too painfully clear on a certain Tuesday morning in September 2001, it is not at all fair to liken these news-making individuals with the entire Islam population. According to the Encyclopedia of World Religions by Robert S. Ellwood and Gregory D. Alles, Christians make up 33% of the world’s populations while Muslims comprise 20.1%. There may be more people who do not identify as Muslim than who do, but ~1,283,242,000 people is nothing to scoff at. If it were true that Islam’s goal is to eradicate the western world, would it not stand to reason that we should be seeing exponentially more violence for the glory of Allah than we already do? Would not America’s ever so precious petroleum supply, which is controlled in vast majority by Muslim nations, have been cut off long ago? The fact of the matter is that it is only a small, albeit maniacal, number of Muslim people who take this horribly bent approach to their faith.

In the end, this whole business with burning a Qur’an on 9/11 is a simple act of supreme stupidity and ignorance by a relatively few number of religious bigots. American news media has yet again blown it up into a worldwide debate, feeding us one distraction after another. Not too different from the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ fiasco, isn’t it? Truth be told, I absolutely feel that both Christianity and Islam are full of crap, and they’re both dangerous in their own ways (people lately love to point out that Islamic scripture promotes violence, but at the same time they often fail to recognize that so does the Bible), but snuffing out ignorance is the first step in straightening out this whole crooked mess. I’m not holding my breath.

The burning of the Qur’an by Christians amounts to nothing more than childish hate-mongering, and our news media is only propagating it. This is exactly what the world does not need.

ADDENDUM:

Good news! As of today, September 9, Reverend Terry Jones has canceled the Qur’an burning. BBC News story here.

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