ON TERRY JONES,
THE QURAN BURNING PASTOR
WHO KEEPS FUELING THE FIRE
UPDATED APRIL 22: NEWS about Terry Jones this week centers on the diverse religious community of southeast Michigan uniting in opposing his extremism. On April 22, Good Friday, Jones claims he will proceed with a protest in Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the Western Hemisphere.
APRIL 21 DETROIT NEWS: “Pastor: Mosque protest is on in Dearborn. Denied city permit, Quran-burner may face arrest today” Story also includes Terry Jones boast that he carries a semi-automatic pistol.
1ST RESPONSE FROM RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY:
Religious leaders across southeast Michigan made a public declaration “condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith.” And: “In the spirit of cooperation and harmony, the essential basis of this great country, we affirm our support for religious freedom and civil discourse.” Visit the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit website, including a link to sign the statement.
APRIL 20 UPDATE: As ReadTheSpirit posted this weekly update, signatures had topped 1,500.
2ND RESPONSE FROM RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY:
A prayer vigil open to the public is scheduled at 4 p.m. April 21 at the Islamic Center of America (19500 Ford Road), the day before anti-Muslim protesters are expected to arrive in Dearborn. Because Jones claims to be a Christian pastor, Christian leaders are in the forefront of this effort to demonstrate cordial relations across southeast Michigan’s diverse religious community. Helping to convene the event are Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron and Detroit Episcopal Bishop Wendell Gibbs. Organizing the vigil is the InterFaith Leadership Council, which announced that the goal is “to affirm our commitment to unity, harmony and civil discourse. We are inviting clergy and lay people from the metropolitan Detroit area to stand together in the spirit of cooperation and harmony, the essential basis of this great country. We are calling on people to reject fear and intolerance, and to embrace the idea of doing to others as we would have them do to us.” The program will include prayers and short statements from religious leaders representing a wide range of faith traditions, plus a silent procession outside the mosque.
Also see “Latest News” item below for changes in events unfolding this week in Dearborn.
As we compiled this news update, we continue to invite you to alert us to with other important resources by emailing us at [email protected] KEEP CHECKING BACK! We will update this resource page with news. Also, please click the Facebook “Recommend” link at the bottom of this story.
AMERICANS ARE NOT ALONE IN RESPONDING TO TERRY JONES
Wikipedia continues to update its “2011 burning of the Koran” report (within its overall entry on Terry Jones’ actions since 2010). That’s a good place to look for updates, even though rapidly developing news stories like this tend to lag and may contain unintended errors in Wiki.
WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE (WEA) CONDEMNS JONES and VIOLENCE: The Alliance claims to work with 600 million evangelicals around the world from offices in the U.S., Korea and Canada. Its online statement condemns both the deadly protests—and Jones’ provocative actions. THE WEA “calls upon all Christians to refrain from disrespectful and provocative activities towards all other religions.”
AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES: Another worldwide network of churches, this denomination lists the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among its most famous pastors. ReadTheSpirit publishes books by American Baptist Churches’ international peace negotiator, the Rev. Dan Buttry. In this April 8 news story, the denomination goes on record concerning Terry Jones.
MAJOR CATHOLIC STAND AGAINST PLAYING ANTI-MUSLIM POLITICS: Earlier, ReadTheSpirit reported on the landmark testimony before the U.S. Congress by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
DANGER OF COPY CAT BURNINGS AFTER INCIDENT IN THE UK
News from the UK is unfolding in mid-April about a Quran-burning video made by Sion Owens, a regional politician for a right-wing party who is running for a seat in the Welsh Assembly. Following Jones’ lead, Owens made a video of himself dousing the Koran in kerosene and setting fire to it. Reporters were given the video, apparently in a bid to drive news coverage of Owens’ views.
APRIL 18 UPDATE: Sion Owens was arrested under UK laws barring threats to public order. Almost as quickly, charges against him were dropped. Now, the BBC reports that an investigation into Owens’ activities continues and fresh charges may result.
LATEST NEWS & COMMENTARY ON
TERRY JONES & QURAN BURNING:
REPORTERS HELPING TO LOWER HIS PROFILE
APRIL 21 UPDATE: There’s definitely a downward trend in attention to Terry Jones worldwide. One week ago, more than 1 million web pages contained information about Terry Jones and the Quran-burning incident. As of Sunday, that was less than 900,000. Today, it’s less than 800,000. Many major news organizations are deliberately refusing to publish Jones stories to reduce the danger of copy-cat actions. Late last week, ReadTheSpirit contacted newsroom staffers at two national news magazines and two major metropolitan newspapers across the U.S. and asked about plans for further Jones coverage. One religion newswriter said, “I refuse to publish stories about the man because it only touches off a fresh round of web links to our coverage of him.” Said an editor who coordinates national news for an East Coast newspaper: “About all that needs to be said about Jones himself has been reported. We see no point in publishing any long profile of this guy’s tragic life. It would only encourage Jones himself and more Terry Jones wannabes.” Pending news events this week, international attention to Jones appears to be ebbing.
GROUP INVITING TERRY JONES TO DEARBORN CHANGES PLANS
APRIL 21 UPDATE: According to the latest news coverage, Jones is determined to protest in Dearborn—but the tiny extremist group in Michigan that originally planned the protest with Jones has dropped its own plans for a Good Friday event. Apparently, Jones has eclipsed his original hosts and has taken personal control of any protest.
BEST NEWS COVERAGE FROM
DETROIT FREE PRESS, DETROIT NEWS
DEARBORN:PATCH, DEARBORN PRESS & GUIDE: Reporters on the ground in Dearborn have been busy reporting on these changing events.
Earlier, Detroit news reports “Dearborn denies permit, says Quran-burning pastor could be arrested.”
Earlier, Detroit Free Press reports “Prosecutor seeks to stop rally outside Dearborn mosque,” by Niraj Warikoo.
Earlier, Dearborn:Patch Reporter Jessica Carreras reports that the original organizers of the Good Friday protest visited Dearborn, met with civic and religious leaders, canceled their protest—and described Terry Jones as “off his rocker.” Read Jessica Carreras’ latest Dearborn:Patch report here.
Earlier, Dearborn Press & Guide published two reports covering the same story. One headline is “Group Pulls out of Islamic Center Protest.” The other is “Quran-burning pastor is still coming to mosque.”
More coverage of the unfolding story:
- New York Times overview of responses: Peter Catapano assembles one of the most detailed overviews we’ve seen of responses across the spectrum. The Times site may require a registration.
- Washington Post story by WEA General Secretary: Headlined “How I tried to dissuade Terry Jones,” the story explains how the WEA—like many major religious groups—initially did not want to “give oxygen” to Jones by taking public action. Now, it’s time to speak out, the WEA official argues.
- Analysis of tensions in Afghanistan/Pakistan in AlJazeera: Dr. Robert Crews, an expert on the Taliban and a scholar at Stanford University, wrote this commentary that appeared in AlJazeera.
- Analysis in Arab News: Aijaz Zaka Sayed, a longtime Middle East columnist based in Dubai, offers his analysis of Jones’ action and global responses.
- Economist weighs in: “Burning Passions: Singular incident or harbinger of something worse?”
NOTE ON QURAN, QU’RAN, KORAN: Associated Press style on the spelling is: Quran. Other reference works add an apostrophe to better approximate the pronunciation of the Arabic word: Qu’ran. ReadTheSpirit follows AP style, however, in our research into Terry Jones, we recognize that thousands of English-language websites are spelling the term: Koran. To encourage people to find this helpful webpage via search engines, we are using both spellings today.
BACKGROUND ON TERRY JONES, QURAN BURNING & DEATHS
WIKIPEDIA COVERS 2010 THREAT BY JONES AND IS UPDATING FOR NEW INCIDENT:
Many educators and journalists dismiss Wikipedia as error prone, but one thing is certain: The database is highly detailed and an essential research tool for anyone keeping up with major world events. This 2010 “Qu’ran” Burning page in Wikipedia not only details the chronology last year—but already is including events in this latest chapter in the Terry Jones saga.
How fast does Wikipedia move? As of Sunday afternoon, the Wikipedia webpage revised and expanded its 2011 Burning of the Qu’ran section. Also on Sunday, Wiki editors already were working on a webpage about the April 1 attack on UN staff, however the first versions of that page were marred by inaccuracies due to continually changing news reports.
ANOTHER INCIDENT FUELING THE FURY—U.S. KILLERS’ PHOTOS COME TO LIGHT:
Also fueling the fury against U.S. forces is the horrific incident revealed in a Der Spiegel magazine article concerning U.S. soldiers accused of killing civilians, then posing for photos with their bodies like the trophies of big-game hunters. National Public Radio reported on the U.S. Army’s apology. Also, the Washington Post reported on the case. Then, on April 2, the Christian Science Monitor reported on why the reaction to the Der Spiegel revelations were so much less explosive than the reaction to Terry Jones.
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(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.)