And now for your daily dose of the clash of civilizations. Mollie mentioned yesterday that a tiny Florida church's plans to burn Qurans on 9/11 is news whether we like it or not. I agree. But I'm a bit more skeptical -- some would say cynical -- about the motives of Dove World Outreach Center and its pastor, Terry Jones, and so I don't think it deserves quite the attention its received.
Frank James of NPR noted yesterday on The Two-Way blog that last year another pastor of a tiny church no one had heard of received a lot of free PR -- and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan would remind you, the only bad PR is no PR -- for planning to torch on Halloween a pile of books they considered evil. James, analogizing to the Quran burning celebration of America (go figure), mentioned that last year's Halloween book bonfire never happened. Marc Grizzard and his 14-member church instead opting for shredding those evil books, which included any non-KJV-version of the Bible:
The few media who showed up had to take their word for it since it all happened inside the little church. Grizzard proclaimed the event a great success. And it was. A church with a membership of 14 got world-wide publicity.
Terry Jones basically picked up where the Near Ground Zero Mosque left off and has become the newest media flavor of the week. And better hurry because the shelf life was this one really is about a week. Even more surprising is the attention Jones' intentions have received from our nation's leaders in Washington. The two meet in this nicely done story Wednesday by Tara Bahrampour and Michelle Boorstein at The Washington Post.
I could mention something about strange bedfellows -- when was the last time Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck agreed with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton? -- but I won't. Frankly, I would expect almost all Americans, regardless of politics or religion or any other measure, oppose the Quran burning.
In a news conference Tuesday on the plan to burn Korans, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, said, "Religious leaders cannot stand by in silence when things like this are happening." Burning the Koran, he warned, could be "taken by some as the real story of America, and it is not."
Actions and hate speech against Muslims "bring dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ," said the Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals.
Said the Rev. Gerald Durley, pastor at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta: "From a Christian perspective, this is not what we stand for. This is a fringe group of individuals."
You know the rule: Three is a trend. And especially with a cross-section of American Christians like that. If only they'd found an Episcopalian, though I think we know what they would have said.
Unfortunately, the WaPo's article, which covers a lot of ground and already fills a lot of newshole, stops there. It doesn't explain why burning the Quran isn't Christian behavior and why Jones and Dove World Outreach are on the fringe of American Christendom.
PHOTO: Funny photo protesting a Harry Potter book burning.