I am ambivalent about giving any additional attention to a hate-filled, fear-driven, religious leader like Pastor Terry Jones. Once the Gainesville, Florida minister is being covered by the New York Times however, it seems that coverage is assured. The only question which remains is what shall be the response?
Is it appropriate to simply right him off as a kook? Can we afford to stand silently by? The answers to those questions have nothing to do with how one feels about Islam in general, or about the proposed cultural center and mosque to be situated a few blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center.
Whether one opposes the mosque or not, this proposed Koran burning is obscene. Tragically and ironically, this is an expression of Christianity which parallels the parts of Islam which represent a genuine threat to the human race. I guess it’s an irony Pastor Jones misses, but reminds us all that it’s not the faith which kills; it’s the fanatical attachment to it.
Before deciding what you think is the appropriate response, think for a minute about the response you would hope for, if it were bibles that someone proposed to burn? What would be the appropriate response to a religious leader calling for the public burning of a Torah scroll?
We cannot call for a vocal response from Muslims when Muslims engage in hateful acts towards the followers of other faiths unless we, who cherish those other faiths, speak out when our religious leaders behave hatefully. Ultimately, this moment is not a test of Pastor Jones, but for the rest of us. I hope we pass. I guess we’ll see.
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About Windows & DoorsAuthor, radio and TV talk show host, and President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Brad Hirschfield is the author of You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Listed as one of the nation’s 50 most influential rabbis in Newsweek, and a regular commentator on Court TV, he is the creator of the popular series, Building Bridges, airing on Bridges TV, and the co-host of the weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula.
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