Note: I usually reserve this image for all things Glenn Beck, but the not-so-good reverend’s antics are so outrageous that they deserve this rare exception. Terry Jones is an embarassment to all who call themselves Americans and Christians.
– Monsieur d’Nalgar
Pastor Who Burned Koran Demands Retribution
By Lizette Alvarez and Don Van Natta Jr., April 1, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Before a Koran was burned at his modest church here on March 20, the pastor Terry Jones held a self-styled mock trial of the holy book in which he presided from the pulpit as judge. The prosecutor was a Christian who had converted from Islam. An imam from Dallas defended the Koran.
Sitting in judgment was a jury of 12 members of Mr. Jones’s church, the Dove World Outreach Center. After listening to arguments from both sides, the jury pronounced the Koran guilty of five “crimes against humanity,” including the promotion of terrorist acts and “the death, rape and torture of people worldwide whose only crime is not being of the Islamic faith.”
Punishment was determined by the results of an online poll. Besides burning, the options included shredding, drowning and facing a firing squad. Mr. Jones, a nondenominational evangelical pastor, said voters had chosen to set fire to the book, according to a video of the proceedings.
Mr. Jones said in an interview with Agence France-Presse on Friday that he was “devastated” by the killings of 12 people in a violent protest in Afghanistan when a mob, enraged by the burning of a Koran by Mr. Jones’s church, attacked the United Nations compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. “We don’t feel responsible for that,” he told the news service.
Unlike the worldwide outcry that greeted the pastor’s plan to burn 200 copies of the Koran on Sept. 11 — which he ultimately abandoned — the event last week at the 50-member church was largely ignored by the news media. As of 2 p.m. on Friday, the video of the Koran’s burning on the church Web site had been viewed only 1,500 times.
“The local strategy of everybody was to ignore this,” said the Rev. Lawrence D. Reimer, pastor of the United Church of Gainesville. “It’s just a horrible tragedy that this act triggered the deaths of more innocent people.”
Some church members were surprised by the violent reaction in Afghanistan on Friday, said Fran Ingram, an assistant at the church. She explained that it was decided in the weeks leading up to the burning that a jury of churchgoers and volunteers would hear both sides before deciding what to do.
In a statement, Mr. Jones demanded that the United States and United Nations take “immediate action” against Muslim nations in retaliation for the deaths. “The time has come to hold Islam accountable,” he said.
He also called on the United Nations to act against “Muslim-dominated countries,” which he said “must alter the laws that govern their countries to allow for individual freedoms and rights, such as the right to worship, free speech and to move freely without fear of being attacked or killed.”
Some members of the Dove World Outreach Center said they feared they would be attacked.
“We have a huge stack of death threats,” Ms. Ingram said. “We take precautions. I have a handgun. A lot of us have concealed weapons permits. We’re a small church, and we don’t have money to hire security.”
Before the March 20 service, Mr. Jones asked if the church’s Web site was streaming the event, according to the video. He was assured that it was. Mr. Jones then gave the “defense attorney” the opportunity to leave.
“It is not that we burn the Koran with some type of vindictive motive,” Mr. Jones said. “We do not even burn it with great pleasure or any pleasure at all. We burn it because we feel a deep obligation to stay with the court system of America. The court system of America does not allow convicted criminals to go free. And that is why we feel obligated to do this.”
On the video, a pastor named Wayne Sapp is seen igniting a kerosene-drenched copy of the Koran with a plastic lighter. Members of the church watch the book burn for several minutes while several photographers snap pictures.
Finally, Mr. Jones says, “That actually burned quite well.”
Lizette Alvarez reported from Gainesville, and Don Van Natta Jr. from Miami. Timothy Williams contributed reporting from New York.
A version of this article appeared in print on April 2, 2011, on page A10 of the New York edition.