Sep 6, 2010

On the Dove World Outreach Center, Religious Belligerence, and Common Sense

Left: the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FloridaLeft: the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida

I have been reading with some concern the news that the non-denominational charismatic Christian church Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida has plans to burn copies of the Qu'ran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The event is likely to spark worldwide protests by all sorts of people, not the least of who happen to be Muslims, and General David Petraeus suggested that American troops might be put in danger by this act of religious belligerence.

Church member Fran Ingram, posting on a blog on the church website, offered the following reasoning for the upcoming book burning:
We are using this act to warn about the teaching and ideology of Islam, which we do hate as it is hateful. We do not hate any people, however. We love, as God loves, all the people in the world and we want them to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Setting aside all the other issues related to why this is an idiotic idea (and setting aside my despair at the growing irrationality of a rising number of anti-Muslim Americans), I would like to focus on the last clause in Ingram's statement: "we want them to come to a knowledge of the truth." I suspect that if members of the Dove World Outreach Center were really concerned about saving the souls of adherents of the Islamic faith, they could begin by adopting a less confrontational approach. Every faithful Muslim who hears of this abominable act of religious bigotry will be disturbed by the news, and I highly doubt that angering the people you want to persuade of the righteousness of a cause is an effective method of "outreach."

There is also an element of conspicuous and deliberate antagonism here that as a Christian I find reprehensible. Instead of leading by example - in the manner of Christ Himself - the folks participating in the book-burning are sinking to the very level of inflammatory zealotry that they supposedly deplore in the actions of the radical Islamic extremists who attacked the World Trade Center. Sure, it is only burning books and not thousands of dead civilians, but the sentiments are eerily similar between the book-burners and the 9/11 terrorists: each despises those whose creeds they hold to be heretical.

On a side note, my Lebanese neighbor (whose family happens to practicing Muslims) came by my house this evening to ask if he could borrow my 3/8" power drill, as his was broken. When I walked over to the house to drop the tool off, I saw that they were installing a set of vertical blinds. I ended up spending an hour drilling holes, hanging vinyl blinds, and chatting with the Yussef family about the weather and the excellent fattoush Mrs. Yussef has been dropping off each night (this is Ramadan, if you were unaware, and practicing Muslims share their nightly feast with their neighbors).

So, getting back to the point, I pose the following question. Which practicing Christian do you suppose made a better impression on "heathen" Muslims: me, by loaning my drill and time to hang some vertical blinds, or folks like Fran Ingram, whose idea of "outreach" involves the immolation of the book considered to be most sacred to people of the Islamic faith?

And for the misguided zealots who plan to burn books next week: I pray for your lost souls. I highly doubt that God looks upon your actions with favor, and I suspect that one day you will be called to account for your recklessness and bellicosity in the name of Jesus Christ.


flask said...

God bless you, mike.

keep hanging those blinds.

Anonymous said...

So the 9/11 bombers are the same as Christians expressing their First Amendment rights??? You are the worst sort of liberal weenie Islamo-apologist, and the reason why Sharia law is only a few years away in this country.

your mother's hairy basoomas said...

*tape records Anonymous's comment and replays it alongside a PowerPoint slide of shitty banjo music and a clipart toothless hillbilly picking his nose on Anonymous's front lawn*

Roland Hansen said...

I am proud to be Jewish. And, I loudly proclaim that I agree with historymike, although I myself would not use the name of Jesus Christ.

Whatever happened to all the loving and peaceful Religios people of he world?

The Muslim hatred spewing fanatics along with the growing anti-Latino furor (who mentioned Arizona's new law?) are right up there at the top with the Spanish Inquisition and Hitler's Nazi Regime.

historymike said...


1. Actually, my political beliefs are closer to libertarian than anything else (traditional libertarianism, not the quasi-fascist silliness that passes for "libertarian" beliefs these days). I am pro-Second Amendment, distrustful of schemes to expand the federal government, skeptical of any plan to raise taxes, and generally a person who believes that government has little business screwing around in the economy.

2. So Sharia law is "only a few years away"? So you are saying that the 2.5 million Muslims in the United States are somehow going to hijack the American political and judicial processes, despite the fact that they represent less than one percent of the U.S. population? Really?

3. There are reasonable limits to free speech, including the famous example against shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. However, I think it would be ill-advised for local authorities to step in and cancel the book-burning (assuming the Dove World zealots are following fire codes), because this will just create political martyrs out of them and fuel their belief in Islamic conspiracies. It would be better if sensible friends and neighbors talked church members out of this foolishness, which might also incite retaliation by a Muslim extremist. This idea is stupid on about 19 levels, but I suspect that the apocalyptic beliefs of this group are driving their actions now.

historymike said...

Hairy Basoomas:

It is tempting to dismiss these foilks as ignorant hicks, but they live in a major metropolitan city and exhibit all signs of high levels of intelligence (admittedly, common sense and civility might be in short supply at Dove World). Unfortunately, these are not knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, but rather frightened people who believe the world is a dangerous place, and they respond to these perceived threats by lashing out at what they see as a root cause. Here is a video of the Reverend Terry Jones, pastor of Dove Outreach. He is well spoken and far from an imbecile, but his vision of a showdown between the Christian and Islamic faiths is a central tenet of his faith.

historymike said...


Agreed that there are some disturbing parallels between anti-Muslim and anti-Hispanic zealots and other periods of historical xenophobia and genocide. I want to believe that this is a passing phenomenon (as evidenced by our history of anti-Irish, anti-Chinese, and anti-anyone-who-is-new-to-this-country bigotry), but it is difficult for me to predict the future.

Also, as a historian, I spend more time looking backward more than forward, and it is not difficult to connect dots in interesting (and frightening) ways these days.

Mad Jack said...

If these zealots wanted to follow Christ, their protest march would be centered around forgiveness.

I don't find their activity particularly troubling so much as I find it somewhat pointless and possibly dangerous to the children involved. Eventually this group will get into a confrontation with the Florida police, at which point all video cameras will be confiscated and turned off. Directly following the deactivation of video, the protesters will be Tasered, pepper sprayed, K9 chomped and given a hickory shampoo and massage. Adults will be jailed and juveniles will get sent to juvenile jail, where they can learn about life on the other side of the bell curve.

You know, I wonder if any of these parents knows what a cavity search is? I wonder if they understand that their children will be subjected to a cavity search when they are processed?

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that so many Americans who wear their patriotism on their sleeves have no CLUE about how to fight a war against insurgents. It is exactly this kind of anti-Muslim bias that the terrorist want to see. As long as they're losing, they're winning. All they have to do is wait for all support for the war effort at home to collapse and then mount a final offensive when The Anointed One pulls troops out in less than two years to try to avoid being a one-term loser.

We are fighting a war against insurgents in a host nation where just about everyone is some form of Muslim! The good guys, the bad guys....We must win over the minds of MUSLIM populace in that nation or our losses will have been in vain. This is not WWII. Our mission there is to stabilize the nation and to support the Karzai government to the point where they can govern without our help. In this situation, if you do not support the MISSION, you are not supporting the TROOPS no matter how large of a flag you hang in your window. These idiots posturing for attention by trying to portray this war as a war against Islam are being borderline treasonous as far as I'm concerned.

Mad Jack said...

Looks like the spiritual barbecue is off. That is, if you believe the WP:

The anti-Muslim leader of a tiny Florida church backed off his threat to burn the Quran, defusing an international firestorm Thursday after he said he was promised that a planned Islamic center and mosque would be moved away from New York's ground zero.

However, there may be a slight misunderstanding.

The imam planning the center, however, quickly denied such a deal.

No surprise here -

In Afghanistan, hundreds of Afghans burned an American flag and chanted "Death to the Christians" to protest the planned Quran burning.

You know, this whack-a-do is the minister of a Church with fifty (50) members, and in a nation of 300 million people I'd think the Islamic imams could find a more worthy target for their ire. I'd also think the commercial news media could find a different scandal to focus on. But what do I know? For my money these are only modern books. If they burn a few, more can be printed.

Word Verification: bingo
No, I'm not making this up. No, I haven't been drinking. Yet.

SensorG said...

All this crazy and hate. Wonder who's next.

Anonymous said...

Christians forgive... Forgive the people that had nothing to do with it.