The Deacon's Bench

That’s how the Vatican is characterizing the plans by a Florida pastor to burn the Quran on 9/11:

Burning the Quran would an “outrageous and grave gesture,” the Vatican said Wednesday, joining a chorus of voices pleading with a small Florida church not to burn Islam’s holy book on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Vatican body responsible for dialogue with other religions said expressed “great concern” about the plan by Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it would be a “disrespectful, disgraceful act.” She was speaking Tuesday night at a State Department dinner in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Incredibly, the pastor behind this still plans to go forward with it:

An associate pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, which is moving ahead with plans to burn copies of the Muslim holy book on Saturday, said he doubts assertions that burning the Quran will endanger American troops.

“We don’t believe it,” said Wayne Sapp, 41, who has been a member of the church for 17 years. “The troops knew the dangers before they went over there. They knew the radical element of Islam is there. This is nothing new.”

Sapp said the church, headed by Terry Jones, is “still in prayer over the whole thing.”

“We are convinced this is the direction God wants us to go,” Sapp said. “That’s the only reason we’re doing it in the first place.”

He said the church could still decide not to burn Qurans on Saturday.

“God is leading us right up to the moment,” he said. “It’s no different than Abraham and his son. God didn’t tell him, ‘Go right up to the point where you might sacrifice him.’ He wanted him to be fully committed. We’re prepared to do what we’re called to do.”

Jones said he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip since announcing his plan to burn the book Muslims consider the word of God and insist be treated with the utmost respect. The 58-year-old minister proclaimed in July that he would stage “International Burn-a-Quran Day.”

Sapp said the church has collected “in excess of 200” copies of the Quran. “We’ve gotten them from all over the country,” he said.

Stay tuned. And pray that this doesn’t happen.

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