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Crazy Days

Optimize Blog - September 10, 2010 - 0 comments

In recent days it has been hard to pick up a paper and avoid the face of a particularly annoying Gainesville, Fla., minister staring back at you, with his ‘International Burn the Koran Day’ banner in the background. Since he’s already infamous, we’ll not mention his name here… but his plan to burn a pile of the Koran on September 11th has caused international outrage.
Universally condemned by any reasonable thinking person, this guy’s misguided attempts to “honour Americans who died at the hands of religious extremists” is hard to take when so many others are trying to deliver religious tolerance in tumultuous times. Gainesville itself has spoken of its embarrassment that the minister’s flock exists within their community and in this case the adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ probably doesn’t apply. As ever, two wrongs do not make a right.
In terms of context this minister presides over a congregation of just 50 but the result of their intended act of intolerance has reached global proportions where heads of state from all religious backgrounds have had to take time to comment and condemn – punching above their weight yes, but infamy at potentially great cost.
The dilemma and irony of course is that the US constitution provides the freedom that allows the messages of intolerance to be spread and, therefore, it appears the only hope of preventing this act going ahead will presumably be the city’s regulators trying to find some by-law infringement which they can invoke.
The ability for an independent church to function without centralized governance allows such extremism to exist. But there is no doubt that in this case we are talking ‘crazy’. Just to be clear, by that we don’t mean mentally ill. (According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 26 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. So, basically, that’s just normal life.) We mean crazy in the sense of someone who “thinks it is a good plan to joke with the flight attendant about seeing a bomb in the restroom.”
Thinking that the crazy minister will see sense is probably a false hope and so our hope is that retaliation from offended parties remains at the level of words and rhetoric rather than physical action…
Update: T…. J…., the pastor from Gainesville, Fla., said at a press conference, “We have agreed to cancel the event.” “We have at this time no regrets,” he said. “We feel we have accomplished our goal. We are very, very happy with the outcome.”
The pastor’s decision came the same day President Obama said that the pastor’s plan to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was a “stunt” that violates American principles of religious tolerance. We hope obscurity returns for this Florida congregation and that this man is shunned by those around him who recognize him and his motivations for what they are.

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