After years of having the field all to himself, Westboro Baptist Church leader and gay-basher extraordinaire Fred Phelps might finally have some competition for the title of America’s most media-hungry hate-church preacher.
On Sept. 11, Terry Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center will hold the first “International Burn a Koran Day” ceremony on the steps of his church in Gainesville, Fla. According to the church’s website, the event was organized “in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!”
If you recognize Dove World, it’s likely from the media outcry (including heavy play on CNN) that met their placement of lawn signs earlier this month proclaiming just that: “Islam is of the Devil.” We’ve also written about it frequently on this blog (here and here and here).
As of this writing, nearly 500 people have clicked “like” on the event’s webpage, which also features Photoshop images premised on the nuking of Iran and Mecca. One of these shows Mecca’s Grand Mosque full of pilgrims, with the simple tag: “Nuke It.”
At least some of the page’s supporters seem to have learned much of what they know about Islam from Fox News’ distortive hyping and conspiracy mongering regarding the case of a conservative mole at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). A person who identified herself as Fran Ingram, for example, posted a video of Fox News’ coverage of the CAIR story with the title, “No Moderate Muslims.”
Like the stunts pulled by Phelps (who runs the infamous Godhatesf---.com website), “International Burn a Koran Day” seems designed to draw heavy fire from editorialists and television news crews. Jones, the Dove World Outreach leader, posts a semi-regular “Braveheart” show on YouTube, and clearly revels in media attention. Dove’s website has collected all of the editorials and television news spots devoted to the lawn sign controversy. The list of links appears just below the description of the church as a “New Testament, Charismatic, Non-Denominational Church that believes in the whole Bible and that we are to act in response to the word of God in order to change the times we are living in.”
Like the more famous Fred Phelps, one of whose rallies this year was joined by Dove congregants, Jones’ theology of hate is streaked with venomous homophobia. “What is homosexuality?” Jones has written. “Detestable, indecent, wicked, offensive, perverted, shameful, unnatural, degrading, impure, futile, foolish, godless, dishonorable, a lie.” On August 2, Jones and his church will be “standing against homosexuality” in a protest in front of the local city hall.
With the announcement of his latest anti-Islam initiative, one gets that sense that Jones and his followers aren’t really satisfied with burning books. Like the old saying goes, it does not take a large leap of imagination to picture them gleefully burning much more besides.