A pastor whose plan to hold a Koran burning at his church Saturday has drawn the ire of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world. Up until he decided to cancel the event late last week, the Rev. Terry Jones had rejected the pleas of military officials and even the president himself who said the event would "serve as a major recruiting tool for Al Qaeda." If Jones has such a dislike of the Islamic faith, what alternatives could he have considered to get his message across that don't involve burning/desecrating a holy book?
The Rev. Terry Jones has gotten a lot of media attention this week about his threat to burn the Koran on Sept. 11. In the end, he backed off and didn't do it. In several other cases, Korans were burned or had pages torn out. What is the message in all of this? Was Jones a publicity seeker, or did he really have an important message? If the latter, was his method of conveying that message appropriate?
Unfortunately, Christianity has its own groups of extremists. Generally, they don't blow up things, but they do attack others in the name of God. These attacks include attacks on Christian groups or individuals who do not believe the same as they do.
One of the articles of faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." This is not to say that the message of Christ should not be proclaimed. Rather, it means that respect should be given to others as that message is proclaimed.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus instructed his disciples, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
At the same time, he taught his disciples to be tolerant and to forgive others. In Matthew 18:21-22 he taught Peter as follows: "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until 70 times seven."
Yes, Christ's message should be taken to all, but in doing so, there is an obligation to do it in a manner in accordance with his teachings. Sometimes, Christians forget that in their zeal to proclaim.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
La Cañada II Ward,
La Crescenta Stake
How gratifying it is that the planned burning of the Koran did not take place. To do so would have been grossly counterproductive.
It would also be counter to the eminent guidance in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. For example, "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also," and "Love your enemies … pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5)
The temptation to react humanly is understandable, but does not reflect the higher viewpoint of our individual and collective spiritual relationship with God, in which we are one harmonious family, regardless of religion, nationality, social status, etc. When we understand that God governs our lives, we can expect to be guided into the most appropriate paths of action. Prayer based on realizing that God is in control is always the most effective treatment for mistreatment.
By no means does this mean we excuse the actions of those who have committed grievous crimes. However, even the perpetrators of such acts have a higher nature, and we help protect ourselves and our nation when we see that evil is not the higher nature of anyone.
Mary Baker Eddy's book, "Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," has an introductory piece titled, "Love Your Enemies," which counsels: "Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last. If indulged, it masters us.… If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget: God will recompense this wrong.… We should measure our love for God by our love for man.… The present is ours; the future, big with events."
This approach goes far beyond mere positive thinking and taps the spiritual source of good that Christ Jesus revealed as fundamental to the highest human experience. This removes the fear and vulnerability that otherwise make themselves felt, and frees both us and our so-called enemies to become increasingly aware of our God-given peace, and of what we each should do to rectify world issues.
First Church of Christ, Scientist,