Really? My Two Cents on the Matter

(I submitted a guest editorial column to the Paris News this week which they decided to run)

I pastored a small church in the country for about 16 years. Who knew that the fastest way to gain notoriety and become the focus of international leaders around the world was to host a book burning party – or more specifically, a Quran burning?

While it was never my goal to have presidents, four-star generals, Secretary of States, and the Vatican itself commenting on my pastoring methods, I’d be lying to say that I have not been totally dumbfounded over news reports this past week centering on the Rev. Terry Jones, a nearly 60 year old Pentecostal preacher in Florida.

He is the pastor who wants to burn some copies of the Quran on September 11 to express his dislike for the religion of Islam.

The media cannot get enough of this guy and his flock of about 40 members. ABC aired some footage of them praying in a backroom, fervently, with loaded pistols on their belts. I guess those serve as backup for them just in case God does not come to their rescue in the event of some retaliation.

Seriously though, I am confused by several issues. The first one is WHY is this minute fringe group located down in Florida commanding so much news coverage? If it was any other religious book they were burning, would this have created such an international uproar? Jones certainly has the right to his ‘free speech’ and if he can navigate around local ordinances that prohibit outdoor fires in his community, he remains steadfast to carry out the burning on 9/11.

And while I am not endorsing his decision to express himself in this manner, I do find myself asking why there is not an equal amount of public outcry and shock when fringe groups in other parts of the world burn US Flags, or effigies of a sitting president, or bibles?

As a school teacher and a parent who raised three children, it has always been common sense that when a immature child misbehaves or acts out in front of others, in most cases, you simply ignore them and not give in to their attention seeking devices.

But just the opposite has taken place here with the news media fanning the flames of what promises to be a world-wide media debacle should the books go up in smoke.

Something about this whole story doesn’t set well with me. Whether it is the excessive amount of attention to such a small and insignificant group activity in Florida, or the way the world is caving in to the fear of some extremist zealots on the other side of the world, this story has reached the level of absurdity.

But without a doubt, Reverend Jones and his flock of forty have certainly reinforced the notion that a fire continues to be a sure way to draw a crowd.