This Saturday, September 11, a self-described evangelical Christian pastor will lead his Florida congregation in burning copies of the Koran.
The pastor says the Koran is an evil book. He says the book burning will be a fitting memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks on America nine years ago this September 11th.
I understand why Muslims are outraged. As a Christian, I am outraged also.
There is nothing evangelical or Christian about this minister and the people who support him. Their planned desecration of another faith tradition's sacred scriptures is a desecration of the Bible itself and is a sacrilege against Christ himself.
The word evangelical comes from a Greek word that means "good news."
Where is the good news in burning the Koran and adding to the fires of fear and hatred of Islam in America, fires that have been stoked already by other demagogues on radio and TV, in print, in their campaign speeches, and from pulpits?
How can it be good news that burning the Koran, according to the American general commanding allied forces in Afghanistan, will likely imperil his troops, will spread extremist views, and will encourage further violence.
Moreover, the pastor and his flock call themselves Christians, professing to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They don't follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Jesus makes God known to human beings, and God is love. Jesus' every word and deed, especially his offering himself on the cross for the salvation of all, is done in love.
In loving others, Jesus acts for their well being and for the fullness of life in them. Never does he seek to condemn and destroy others, not even the Roman soldiers who crucify him.
We Christians, along with Jews and Muslims, and people of all faiths (and no faith) should speak out against the evil of bigotry, religious intolerance, and violence.
We should work for understanding among people of all faiths (and no faith), mutual respect, tolerance, and a better world for everyone.
(Through the Interfaith Alliance here in Springfield, we people of faith are loving one another and working for the good of this community. Our next meeting is Sunday at the Library Station on the north side at 3.30 pm.)
And we should pray for people who are consumed by evil, that God will save them, leading them from death to the fullness of life.
Such positive, constructive actions--not burning holy books--is a truly fitting memorial to the victims of September 11 and all the 9/lls that have happened since then in the name of religion.