While everyone from President Obama to Fox News host Glenn Beck has strongly condemned a radical Florida church’s plan to burn Qurans on September 11th, the idea has inspired at least one copy cat on the fringe Cristian-right. Rev. Bob Old of Springfield, TN told the The Tennessean that Rev. Terry Jones’ hateful scheme to burn Qurans has inspired him to the same, because in his view, there should be no Muslims in America:
The longtime Baptist minister says the Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Center Outreach in Gainesville, Fla., is doing the right thing by burning the Quran. So he’s going to do likewise.
Old plans to set fire to a Quran on Saturday at his home and then post a video of the burning book online. And if he had his way, there would be no Muslims in America.
“If they want to have their religion, they can have it somewhere else,” said Old, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Joelton and Academy Heights Baptist Church in Gallatin, which merged with another church. He no longer has a congregation and instead runs an evangelical ministry called Disciples of Christ.
Old’s dangerous plan was met with immediate condemnation from local Christian leaders, with one pastor calling Old “a nut.” “This is crazy,” said Rev. Larry Herbert of Faith Covenant Church in Springfield, “I am sorry that anyone who names the name of Christ would do this.” But to Old, the U.S. is a Christian nation and “freedom of religion does not apply to Muslims or other non-Christians.” “I believe that other religions are a threat to our faith and our beliefs,” Old said.
Jones’ desire to burn Qurans sparked a different reaction from the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for protesting against Jews and gay people, even at funerals for fallen American soldiers. Church leader Shirley Phelps Roper was outraged by Jones’ plan, not because of its hateful insensitivity, but because her bigoted church had the idea first. “We did it a long time before this guy,” she said, noting that her church set fire to a Quran on a Washington, D.C. street in 2008. “Nobody seemed to care,” she complained. Jones’ Florida church has defended Westboro in the past, and in April, even went as a congregation “to stand with” Westboro picketers when they came to Gainesville.
The Associated Press has sent a memo to reporters instructing them not to include images of any Qurans burning in their reports, and to avoid detailed descriptions of the burnings. “AP policy is not to provide coverage of events that are gratuitously manufactured to provoke and offend,” the memo says.