Why “Burn a Koran” is the wrong mission.

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve entered the fray on the “Burn-a-Koran Day” debate. I’ve sent the below message to Reverend Jones and the congregation of the church behind this wrong thinking.

Before that, you will note that I’ve also written that the Islamic “multi-cultural center” should not be built at Ground Zero. I believe that I have sufficiently distinguished between Islam-as-religion and Islam-as-political-system. I truly believe that Islam-as-religion is a true and valid and wonderful religion that has all the depth and flavor of any of the other of the world’s religions.

While some people bemoan the “division” among the world’s religions, and even within each faith (such as that which is going on within my own Anglican/Episcopal tradition), it is my firm belief that this is all by design. No two flowers, snowflakes, or people are alike. Yet there are wide ranges of individuals that can be called a “this type” or a “that type.” So too with religions. We tend to clump together in groups that we can grasp the concept of, or wrap our heads around. True, sometimes we are not given a choice. But often, later in life, we have that choice. And that choice does not have to involve outspoken rejection or diminution of any other person’s choice.

We can, as it were, “agree to disagree.”

Here, then, the letter:

Dear Dr. Jones and all members of Dove World Outreach Center:

I believe that you are misguided in the core of your mission.

I believe that your mission as Christians must involve sharing with people why Christ is right, not why others are wrong. That, they can discern for themselves, when shown the truth.

As I always remind people, the main text of the Bible is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

If you can demonstrate how your mission, highlights of which are abundant on your website and in the press, is somehow in support of these two Great Commandments, I’m sure we would all like to hear it.

If on the other hand there is some other passage within the Bible that you feel is more important and more fundamental to the faith than these two Great Commandments, then I’m sure we would like to hear this as well.

If neither of these is the case, then I hope and pray that you will reconsider your actions, that you will realize that your actions would run counter to the beliefs of most Christians around the world, and that you, in forging ahead regardless, would be to Christendom what the actions of groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban are to Islam.

I assure you that history will show that you will not want to have taken this action, or to have played this role.

I pray for your right judgement.

Keith Gardner
Member and Vestrymember
Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church
New York City

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