(Photos from Dove World Outreach Center)
USA (MNN) ― A 50-member church in Gainesville, Florida has decided to go ahead with their "International Burn-a-Quran Day" on September 11 despite numerous warnings to refrain.
Pleas to cease what could be viewed as a blasphemous and treacherous act against Muslims around the world have been ignored by the non-denominational church's pastor, Dr. Terry Jones. Protests in countries like Indonesia and Pakistan have gone unheeded. All attempts by Open Doors USA to contact Jones and the church were for naught, as well; calls consistently went unanswered.
Reports indicate that General David Patraeus, head of Multinational Forces in Afghanistan, has urgently asked the church to put an end to the Quran burnings for the sake of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Patraeus says troops will be in danger of attacks if Muslims see Americans burning their holy book.
Carl Moeller with Open Doors says the problem is even bigger than that. Not only will troops be at risk of attack, but innocent Christians throughout the Middle East will be extremely vulnerable.
"As wrong as it is for them to be attacked in this way--and unnecessarily so, I might add, soldiers are prepared for conflict," says Moeller. However, "The Christian congregations in those same countries are wholly unprepared for violence."
Moeller says in the past, anti-Muslim acts by a few Christians have put all Christians within Muslim-dominated countries in jeopardy. For instance, after a Danish cartoon mocked Muslim culture, many Christians suffered violence as a result. Moeller says that's what we can expect if the Dove World Outreach Center goes forth with their plans.
"When Al Jazeera or another Muslim television network gets a hold of that footage of a Qur'an being burned by an American church, regardless of how small and insignificant that church is in our landscape, and regardless of how irrelevant it is to basic American Christianity, nonetheless it will be portrayed in the Muslim world as American Christians burning the holy book of Islam," explains Moeller. "Literally thousands of Christians' lives are at stake. Millions of Christians' homes and their livelihoods are in jeopardy because of the actions of this tiny church in Gainesville, Florida."
Jones has defended himself and his church with the first amendment rights, but Moeller says, "The issue of free speech is a 'red herring.' One cannot yell ‘fire!' in a crowded theatre."
At the heart of the issue, Jones and his church refuse to see further than themselves, says Moeller. "It's going to have some very dire repercussions for people that this pastor will hardly--perhaps never, until eternity--get to know."
Moeller says it's gone further than just refusing to love our enemies, all the way to refusing to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. "Jesus' followers don't act this way."
With the Quran burning only two days away, the best we can do is continue to continue to pray and to plead with the church to cease their actions. Moeller says we also need to be prepared to stand side-by-side with our faithful brothers and sisters in the Middle East if and when they suffer the consequences for one church's actions.
Pray that the witness of Christ would remain strong, despite the rash acts of others' in the faith. Pray that Muslims who are close to coming to accepting Jesus would not see this act and turn away from the only One who can truly save them.