After two visits from F.B.I. agents, condemnations from General David Patraeus, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, and a personal phone call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the “pastor” of a small Gainesville-area church finally backed down from a planned Koran burning event to be held at the church he leads — the Dove World Outreach Center. Mark this day on you calendars. For Thursday, September 9 will mark the beginning of the slippery slope whereby anything “offensive” to Islam will not be tolerated by the powers that be in the United States of America.
Let me be clear at the outset. I believe that what “Pastor” Terry Jones and his followers planned on the 9th Anniversary of the attacks on our country by Muslim extremists — the burning of Korans — is insensitive, idiotic, and un-Christlike to the nth degree. I do not believe that any reasonable Christian would think that burning Korans would accomplish the Great Commission that Christ has given to His followers to carry out. I also believe that Gen. Patraeus and Defense Secretary Gates truly believe that our troops will face increased dangers if the burning went on as planned. And, even if what Jones had planned is legal, that doesn’t make it right. Ditto the Ground Zero mosque!
Jones, after meeting with F.B.I. agents and with a central Florida Imam, says that he struck a deal to cancel the Koran burning in exchange for the relocation of the Ground Zero mosque. Of course, the Imam in charge of the Ground Zero mosque project disputes that any deal was struck. Makes you wonder what was said to “Pastor” Jones, especially by our government officials. Probably no transcript of the F.B.I.’s face-to-face interviews or Gates’ phone call with Jones will be forthcoming.
And, here’s where things start to get slippery. Burning the flag of the United States of America is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. When’s the last time that you heard of a full-court press by government officials to stop a planned flag burning? That’s what I thought. Burning books — including the Bible — is “speech” that is legally protected. Submerging a crucifix in urine and calling it art is not only legally protected, but has been federally funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. (WARNING: Do not click link if you are offended by this image) While many Americans, including Christians, are highly offended by the aforementioned activities, there is little, if any, need to worry about world-wide violence ensuing by those so offended. Protests, yes. Mayhem and violence, not so much. But, threaten to burn the Koran, well that’s another story altogether.
The slippery slope starts somewhere. For those who would dare speak against Islam in any negative tones whatsoever, that somewhere was outside the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL. Koran burning, while it might nominally be protected by the First Amendment, is now off-limits. I’m sure that Jones or someone else will try this stunt again, but the sled carrying the cargo of what is considered Islamophobia and anti-Muslim “rhetoric” has now started its descent down the steep hill. We don’t know for sure where the sled will end up, but we can certainly offer an educated guess, based on past experience in this country and in Western Europe.
If Koran burning is on the sled, then negative comments about Islam, such as when Franklin Graham called Islam a “vile and wicked religion,” are on the sled as well. Well, you can say that, but it will get you disinvited to Prayer Breakfasts at the Pentagon. What about cartoons that mock or ridicule Islam? What about television satire like South Park which depicts the Prophet Mohammed in a bear costume? Oh wait, that was already censored. Of course, Christianity is fair game, but Islam is different. And, how about pastors who tell their congregations that they should share Jesus with their Muslim friends and neighbors because without Christ, people (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) will spend an eternity in hell separated from a loving and holy God? Look to Western Europe to see where the sled has already been. And, let’s not even get started about Christians living in Muslim nations.
Am I glad that the Koran burning has been called off? Yes. It was a stupid and insensitive thing to even contemplate. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the federal government, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secretary of Defense, put tremendous pressure on a small-church “pastor” to help him decide not to follow through with the clearly offensive Koran burning. As the sled of what is considered offensive to Islam hurdles down the hill, plowing over the First Amendment as it goes, it is not a question if something else will be seen as offensive, but merely what will be seen as offensive. The next time, it may not be the Dove World Outreach Center. It may be you. Or me. Remember, the slippery slope starts somewhere!