O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Quran Burning Thwarted: Good Job, Amarillo

I don’t mention my hometown very often. Most of my bios just mention that I live in Texas. I don’t hide the fact that I’ve spent my life in Amarillo, my hometown and my current place of residence. But I don’t trumpet it, either, mostly because I like some measure of privacy in my life.

But I live here in a city with a metropolitan population around 200,000, way up in the middle of the Texas Panhandle (that little square notch at the top of the state). We’re sort of out on our own up here, closer to the Colorado mountains than we are to Dallas, and nearer to several other state capitals than to our own in Austin.

We’re more cultured than you’d expect, but we’re also just as independent-minded and no-nonsense and (insert cowboy adjective here) as you imagine Texans to be. Probably more so.


Amarillo is also a very conservative place, politically and theologically. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to hear, on Friday night, that even though the pastor in Florida had canceled his Quran burning, another religious person in Amarillo had vowed to burn one anyway, in solidarity. Or something.

Every community has crazy hateful people who think they’re doing God’s work, including ours.

Such a pronouncement was embarrassing, but this guy — I won’t name him — has a reputation in the area for being an embarrassment to his fellow Christians, and I didn’t feel the need to call any more attention to him than he usually tries to get for himself. Honestly, I didn’t want my hometown to get that kind of attention.


But I will happily report what happened on Saturday when he actually did try to burn the Quran.

He announced that he’d be doing it at a local park at 3 p.m. on Saturday. More than 200 people showed up at the park at that time, most of them to protest. Police officers were there, too, just in case.

There were signs that said “Love thy enemy” and “Love thy neighbor.”

The guy had a grill upon which he intended to barbecue the Quran. When he got ready, the jeering protesters put their hands on the grill and wouldn’t let go.

(That posed a problem.)


Then someone stole the guy’s lighter.

(That posed another problem.)

Then, while the attempted Quran burner was arguing with a few of the protesters, a young guy carrying a skateboard went up and snatched the Quran out of his hands. The skateboard dude got away and handed the book over to a leader from the local Islamic Center.

(That posed a spectacularly big problem, because apparently it was the only Quran he brought.)

The attempted Quran burner was left with no grill, no lighter, and no holy book to burn. All he had was some lighter fluid.

So he got into his car and drove away. The protest died down. Everyone went home peacefully, loving their neighbors.

Well done, Amarillo.

(Read the full story here.)

[Update: I’ve been informed via Twitter that the guy willingly
gave up his lighter when he realized the protesters weren’t going to let
go of the grill.]

Comments read comments(10)
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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted September 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I’m glad that the guy was acting alone – it shows that the people who are doing this kind of madness are in a tiny tiny majority – much like the Dove World Outreach people – who’s membership is 50 people (is that commonly known, I can’t believe it’s inspired worldwide newscoverage when its a small group of 50 people)

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Ken Summerlin

posted September 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Thanks for sharing a story of sanity in an increasingly insane world.

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posted September 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Thank You for the inspiring story, and the reminder that these kind of people (like the pastor) are rare. That decency does still take over when it’s called for in cases like this. I am proud of those who stepped in to prevent the burning of the Quoran, I am also glad the muslim leader got it back. Jacob Isom did agreat Job!

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Rob the Rev

posted September 13, 2010 at 7:39 pm

There is a positive story that is currently on the mainstream media, MSNBC and other news channels, about the Memphis Heartsong Christian congregation that put up a sign welcoming an Islamic center to the neighborhood that is building its facitlity across the street and is allowing this Islamic congregation to use its facility until its own building is completed.
I would think that this positive story BeliefNet, would carry. I find it incredible that this story has not appeared on BeliefNet News or that any Beliefnet blogger has picked up on it, since it offer a positive side to the ugly story about the “church” in Gainesville FL that was planning on burning Qurans.

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posted September 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I’m not so sure I would go “good job” here… Amarillo seems to be a city that doesn’t protect its citizens 1st amendment rights (even the rights of a citizen to be a hate mongering Islamicphobic idiot). So someone who is at the park during legal hours at a BBQ pit wishes to use a Quran as kindling is prevented by a mob of self-appointed guardians of (?) who without warrant seize his lighter and prevents his LAWFUL right to be rude??? “The problem isn’t a few books being burned; that’s not a crime, and it doesn’t diminish anyone else’s personal freedoms. The problem is a whole fleet of deranged wackaloons, including the president of the USA in addition to raving fundamentalist fanatics, who think open, public criticism and disagreement ought to be forbidden, somehow.” [PZ Myers]
I have no objection to a crowd gathering to verbally shame your local celebrity into stopping his stupid actions but when they feel they can run roughshod over his civil rights and property???
– Fastthumbs

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Jason Boyett

posted September 13, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I see your point, but I’m not sure agree that the protester’s civil rights have been “run roughshod” over. It was his right of free speech to threaten and then attempt the burning, just as it was the rights of the protesters to shame him and prevent him from doing so. None of his property was harmed, nor was he. The grill was public property. The lighter he gave up voluntarily. And as I now understand it, the Quran — though initially given to the Islamic leader — was taken into custody by the police and filed as “stolen property,” though no charges have been filed. Though it had the potential to turn ugly, it seems to have been fairly clean all the way around.

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posted September 13, 2010 at 11:15 pm

All i have to say is that Jacob Isom rocks.

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Jason Boyett

posted September 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Thanks for the link to that fantastic story. Look for a post about it tomorrow.

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Rob the Rev

posted September 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

@Jason Boyett
Thanks Jason for noticing. I’m pleased you’re going to write about this positive story. I sent it to BeliefNet editors a week or more ago and posted it at other BeliefNet bloggers, including Belief Beat, comments section who were writing about the Koran burning and they took no notice or chose to ignore it.

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Ryan Paige

posted September 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

“Just as one cannot burn down someone’s house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point.” – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

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