I agree with Secretary Clinton

I agree with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Not one more second of media attention should be granted to the Koran-burning pastor in Florida. I’m surprised that he has received as much attention as he already has. I was also surprised to receive an e-mail from a reader asking why evangelical bloggers have been so silent on the controversy. I can’t speak for other bloggers, but here’s why I haven’t said much about it until now.

When I first heard about the story, I thought it was in fact a non-story—not because I think burning Korans is okay (in fact I think it profoundly stupid and unhelpful) but because I didn’t imagine that anyone would pay serious attention to a crank in Florida leading a congregation of 50 people. This guy doesn’t represent evangelical Christians, mainline Christians, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, or any other mainstream religious group that calls itself “Christian.” In fact, every “Christian” leader that I have seen to weigh-in on the topic has roundly denounced this plan to burn Korans. I would say that this pastor is a part of the lunatic fringe, but I think that designation still puts him too close to the mainstream. I haven’t heard anybody in Christendom who supports burning Korans. Consequently, I simply did not see the relevance of what this guy was going to do. That’s why I haven’t written much about it until now.

But since this issue is not going away, let me add my voice to the many who have denounced the plan to burn Korans. I agree with Al Mohler that this will not serve the purposes of the gospel. I agree with Trevin Wax that this is a faux controversy that has been manufactured by the media. I agree with Tony Reinke that Acts 19:11-20 in no way supports burning Korans. I agree with countless others who have given a variety of reasons for why this is a bad idea.

So why comment on a crackpot pastor’s publicity stunt that in no way represents how American Christians feel, much less how Americans in general feel? Because the media have been playing this story as if Koran-burning were an evangelical pastime. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you wouldn’t know it from the attention this story is getting. Again, I agree with Hillary Clinton. The media need to back off of this story and not to cover the pastor’s Koran burning. Not one more camera should be set on this character.

20 Responses to I agree with Secretary Clinton

  1. David Vinzant September 8, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    Every “Christian” leader who has spoken out has denounced this? Do you consider the people at AFA (American Family Association) to be “Christians”?

  2. Denny Burk September 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    David,

    What are you talking about? Bryan Fischer says he’s against it.

    Denny

  3. David Vinzant September 9, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    Compare that with what he said here:
    http://afa.net/Blogs/

    where he suggests that Pastor Jones burn the same number of Korans as the Bibles destroyed by the US military in Afghanistan. You can read or listen to more of Fischer to explore the full depth of his antagonism toward Islam and Muslims.

    A sample:
    “I see no reason why our policies toward Islam in the West in general and America in particular should not be a mirror image of our policies toward the neo-Nazi movement. Whatever steps we take in public education and law enforcement to reduce the threat of Aryan supremacists are the same steps we should take in reducing the threat Koranic Islam poses to the West. . . .

    “Our aim should be to make it as unthinkable for a resident of America to embrace Islam as we have made it to embrace Aryan Nations ideology. And for the same reasons.

    “That sounds eminently fair to me – let’s choke off violent, anti-semitic ideology and actions wherever we find them, whether in the meetings of skinheads or in the mosques of America. Anybody have a problem with that?”

  4. David Vinzant September 9, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    And FWIW, Pastor Jones’ “International Burn a Koran Day” group on Facebook has 12,932 fans.

  5. Bekah Mason September 9, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    It is amazing that the media has a unified zero tolerance policy toward showing “attention-seekers” who run onto the field of televised baseball games, but will run non-stop footage of a self-declared attention seeker whose actions threaten the lives of others.
    I am glad that many leaders are responding the amount of coverage he’s receiving instead of responding to the actual “threat”. What he’s doing is irrational and insensitive, the antithesis of the Gospel. The fact that national media gave it even a half second of coverage is unacceptable.

  6. Chris September 9, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    1) Those comments you listed may condemn Islam in general, but still don’t endorse the burning of the Koran.

    2) Facebook? Really? I’m willing to bet the house on the fact that most of the people who joined the group just joined in order to leave their comment about how stupid this event is.

  7. Denny Burk September 9, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    David, I think you’re really reaching.

  8. Jeremy September 9, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    This is such a big story because the media hyped it. This is why Rush calls them the “Drive-by” Media. Like a drive-by shooting, they cause their damage and quickly move on.

  9. RD September 9, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Rush???? Rush is accusing the media of wrecklessly hyping something into a frenzy!?!? Well, I suppose if one were to consult an expert on how that’s done he’d certainly be the source!!

  10. jigawatt September 9, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    … the media have been playing this story as if Koran-burning were an evangelical pastime.

    And I’m sure somewhere, somebody is saying:
    “You see! You see! All those prime-time TV protrayals of Christians as wild-eyed cultist wackos were right all along!”

  11. RD September 9, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    And to comment more directly on Denny’s post:

    I agree that the media has now swarmed around this story and taken it viral. My issue is with the initial response. Once this story hit national news, prominent evangelical leadership should have been the first to speak out against it. It should not have taken Gen Petraeus’ condemnation to light a fire under mainstream evangelical commentators. And right behind the evangelical outrage should have come outrage from all of our political leaders and pundits. I recall the incedent during the campaign when, at a town hall meeting, one of John McCain’s supporters got up and started spouting off about Obama being muslim and how he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, etc etc. McCain to his great credit cut her off and set her straight and basically told everyone watching that the comments were false and that he’d not tolerate such ignorant hysteria. There should have been a similar response in this situation.

    What it looks like – the way it’s unfolded – is that Christain evangelicals waited to see who would be the first to step up and what kind of tone would be set in the response, before anyone else weighed in. Perhaps that’s not fair for me to say, but it’s how it appears to me.

    I have a problem with the notion that most (not all, certainly) prominent evangelicals did not weigh in simply because they felt it was a non-story. It took less time for evangelical commentators to address Ann Rice’s comments regarding her choosing to leave the church, or Jennifer Knapp’s decision to admit her homosexuality, than it did for many commentators to denounce the actions of a group that was being portrayed on national (international) television as Christian.

  12. jigawatt September 9, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    @RD

    If evangelical leaders always had to immediately respond to every dumb thing done in Christ’s name, they’d have no time for anything else.

  13. Nate September 9, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Possibly the reason evangelical commentators were leary to address this is because the media is so congenial to Christianity. NOT!

    Once again we are seeing the media, the president, his cabinet, and others speak of not denigrating Islam but there is no outcry from them for the way the media or Hollywood portrays Christianity. There is no reverence given to concerns that Christians have about how our Lord or how followers of Jesus are portrayed.

    I am against this pastor and this church for burning the Koran. I think it is ridiculous and serves no quality purpose. However, it could be useful to point out that Muslim countries (not individuals), but countries have laws on the books that prohibit religious freedom. It could also be useful to point out that Muslims are granted that freedom here in the U.S., but the reverse would certainly not take place.

    And it is because of our freedoms (especially freedom of religion) that their extremists hate us and seek our harm.

  14. David Vinzant September 9, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I’m reaching, Denny? Here are Bryan Fischer’s exact words:

    “Pastor Jones, at last count, had received 200 Qur’ans destined for the fire. Here’s the solution:

    “Let’s have the U.S. military count up all the Holy Bibles it burned in 2009, and then let Pastor Jones burn the same number of Qur’ans. Then, once parity in torched holy books has been reached and full religious equality has been achieved, Gen. Petraeus and Secretary Gates can complain all they want.”
    http://afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147498158

    Do you still stand by your statement: “I haven’t heard anybody in Christendom who supports burning Korans”?

  15. Charlton Connett September 9, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    David,

    To be fair, I don’t think Fischer was really recommending the idea of burning a number of Korans equal to the number of bibles that was destroyed. Yes, he said that, but I think he was more intending to point out the vast difference in reactions between Muslims and Christians when it came to the burning of religious texts. I think he meant that as a kind of ironic statement.

    I’m basing this on the rest of the article, where he states,

    “There is a reason you probably forgot all about this, or never heard about it in the first place. Christians don’t riot and throw bombs when their holy book is burned to ashes, even when it’s done by their own government.

    But now a lone pastor of a small church just threatens to burn the holy book of Muslims, and it’s Armageddon. Protests ensue, rocks are thrown at military vehicles, and death threats are issued to Pastor Jones, America itself and to President Obama, the latter just for being president while all this was going on.

    This, of course, is exactly the calm, measured reaction you would expect from what everybody tells us is a religion dedicated to moderation, tolerance, harmony, and the well-being of all mankind.”

    I don’t agree with his words. I think they were poorly chosen. But, given the context of the article, do you really think he actually supports the burning of more Korans, since he has demonstrated that he knows what would happen as a result of that burning?

    (For the record, I think there are a lot of other problems with Bryan Fischer’s post, but I don’t think he intended to advocate the burning of Korans.)

  16. Derek September 9, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Muslims don’t just burn religious texts, they also burn churches. This is a huge problem in certain parts of the world, like Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria, to name a few.

  17. Thomas Newell September 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    Wow David you are going a long way for this one.

    This is classic distortion of highlighting the fringe as the center.

    And though I find it awful for this church to burn the Koran, it does highlight the intolerance of segments of Islam, where violence is the response.

    No other group is able to restrict and hinder freedom of speech like radical Islam. Even liberal Comedy Central found themselves cow-towing.

  18. Derek September 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Ray Pritchard is a radio broadcast personality on American Family Radio and he strongly condemned the Quran burning:
    http://snipurl.com/129vm2

  19. Donald Johnson September 9, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100909/ap_on_re_us/quran_burning

    Plan is apparently cancelled.

  20. Darius T September 10, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Wow, David, you look kinda silly. Facebook??? Have you seen the groups that are on there? “My dad can beat up your dad”… “Let’s get a million fans”… you’re kinda funny.

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