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In Theory: Protesting without flames

September 15, 2010

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?

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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.

Rick Callister

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