Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Burning the Koran - Updated

*Update& - On tonight's news, I heard the White House has weighed in on the subject and said the church shouldn't burn the Koran. So how is it, that they come down on the side of freedom or religion and speech regarding the WTC mosque, but against it on this matter? Yes, this will be used (if they go through with it) as anti-American material by Muslims, but won't the WTC mosque be used as well? Why doesn't the White House realize that there are some matters that do NOT require their involvement?

You may have seen this story, where a pastor at a church in Florida plans to burn the Koran in a bonfire on 9/11 (the 9th anniversary) of the attack on the US by some Muslim extremists. The leaders of the movement say that they are doing this "to warn about the teaching and ideology of Islam."

My first hope is that the President stays out of this issue. Unfortunately, the current president has a tendency to take issues like this and escalate them to a national level (consider the WTC Mosque, the arrest of Prof. Gates and the firing of Shirley Sherrod). He seems to have the idea that he can fix any problem, if we will only listen to him.

My second thought on this is that the leaders of this church have every right to burn the books. As Americans, they have the right of free speech, especially religious speech. Part of our founding as a nation begins with the concept that we are free to express our own ideas and that we as a nation are better for it.

However, I see this as being much like the WTC mosque. While these Floridians have the right to bun the Koran, I think it's a bad idea. I seriously doubt that anyone will change their mind about following the Koran (one of the goals) because of the book burning. It gives Christianity a bad image, an image of being hateful. As I said in my previous post, just because someone has the right to do something, that doesn't make it right to do it.

One additional comment is that General Petraeus is concerned about the impact of this protest on soldiers in Afghanistan. I have mixed emotions about his concerns. My initial thought is that anything that puts a soldier's life in more danger should be stopped, and stopped quickly. However, what if there are other threats? What if some group decides to oppose apple pie distribution in states in the south and threaten soldiers because of it? Would we stop distributing apple pies? I hope not!!

Americans should not be held hostage to an idea, or from an idea, just because soldiers are threatened. They are fighting FOR the idea of free speech and to limit speech for their protection is contradictory. I also believe American soldiers are quite capable of fighting ANY enemy and to change our beliefs out of fear is ridiculous.

So what do you think? Burn the Koran? Ban the burn?


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I agree that it is a bad idea because this is not the business of the Church. If a bunch of private people want to burn the Koran, let them have at it. But to do it under the auspices of a church is - in my opinion - un-Christlike. Can you imagine Paul ordering the burning of pagan books about their gods? It just makes Christians look like a bunch of fools.

But, in the USA it is their right, so no government official should stick his nose into it! Perhaps if the other churches rebuke this pastor he may reconsider his actions

LL said...

When I was a kid, it was illegal to burn the American Flag. Then some genius in Washington DC decided that it was an expression of the freedom of speech.

After that, burning something -- simply becomes paultry. If it's ok to burn the flag, who cares about a Koran?

Randy said...

Glenn, good point about Paul. As for other Pastors rebuking this, I did hear comments this morning on a local Christian radio-talk show, most of the comments were against the idea of burning the Koran. Unfortunately, I had a call come in, so I don't know what the radio host said.

LL, I think this is your first time commenting on my blog. You're always welcome here.

I confess, I have mixed emotions about flag burning. Part of me thinks it should still be illegal and part of me respects the freedom of speech. In this case, I really couldn't care less about the burning, but it's disrespectful. Out of courtesy, we just shouldn't do those kinds of things.

"The Edge" said...

The sad (and as it turns out, necessary) impact of freedom of speech is just that - freedom. But, I always understood the law to mean my right only extends to the point where it does not adversely impact others' ability to have that same right. Example: I can yell "FIRE!" in a movie theater under the guise of freedom of speech, but that doesn't make it a right (or wise) thing to do. Should I choose to do that, I am going to be arrested for public endangerment - clearly a common sense interpretation of the law.

But, that same right gives radio talk show hosts the right to voice their (sometimes) ridiculous opinions, from Howard Stern to Rush Limbaugh (pick your poison...). I may not like what they have to say - if not, I can tune either (or both) of them out.

I like how one supreme court justice put it (paraphrase)....I can't define pornography, but I know what it is when I see it.

It's the same way with our rights. We may not be able to clearly define what is and is not a "right" under the law, but we generally know common sense when we see it.

I would ask the question - how does burning the Koran endanger Muslims? or the ideals of the Koran itself? How does it help them? It has been said of the Bible that if every copy in existence were burned, we could still recreate the entire text from other source materials recorded in other books outside of the original source text. Is the same true of the Koran? If not, what does that say about it's legacy?

As for burning the flag....the Red, White, and Blue is a symbol of the U.S.A. - not the country itself. It stands for the entire country and everything we stand for. We honor and respect her because it is the right thing to do. To burn it symbolizes burning (destroying) the ideals we live by. To put it another way, you may not think burning the Stars & Stripes in the center of your town is too big an offense, but what if you tried to burn the flag on the White House lawn under the guise of "free speech"? Clearly this is not an intelligent thing to do. It would be an obvious affront to what we stand for. What is any different about your home town?

(Sorry if these ramblings sound incoherent. I've got a bad sinus infection and can't sleep right now.)

Many argue that you can't legislate morality (or even respect, in the flag's or the Koran's case). I beg to differ. How you do something is as important as the way you do it. Murder my brother and you go to jail for life or are executed. Kill my brother in self-defense if he tries to slay your family, and you are a courageous hero, guilty of no crime.

Burning the Koran is an affront to the sensibilities of every devout Muslim. Doing so will not open doors to an honest discourse about what you disagree with their beliefs and why you feel differently. I know of no sensible person who will not sit down to a civil discourse. But I do know of non-sensible people who jump immediately to the extreme without thinking of the impact of their actions. This pastor is one of them in my opinion.