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Rev. Jones is Wrong to Demonstrate at Mosque on Good Friday

Contact: Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, 540-538-4741, 202-547-1735

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Rev. Rob Schenck and Rev. Pat Mahoney:

    Today, on Good Friday, April 22, 2011, as Christians throughout the United States and around the world pause to remember what is, for us, the most generous and loving act ever performed, the giving of the life of God in the death of Jesus Christ, for the redemption of whoever will accept this gift, at least one Christian will do something entirely different.

    The Reverend Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, will stage a demonstration in front of a Mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, denouncing Islam. In the process, he is likely to be read by many Muslims as contemptuous towards them, leaving them to assume that, according to the Gospel of Rev. Jones, they are not among those loved by God.
    Rev. Jones, whom we have met and talked with personally, has a right to air his opinions about another religion, and may raise legitimate questions about the beliefs and practices of some that self-identify as Muslims. Yet, the announced actions of Rev. Jones on this occasion go much further.
    Rev. Jones is the man that threatened to burn a large number of Korans on his church lawn. He relented after several Christian leaders, including the two of us, appealed to him to reconsider. He agreed to give us those Korans, and we arranged for all 225 to be shipped to Washington, DC, where we are distributing them to churches that have pledged to pray for their Muslim neighbors. Unfortunately, six months after all this, Rev. Jones reneged and participated in just such a burning. He carries this history with him.
    Rev. Jones says his intention today is to expose a false religion and a violent extremism, but he does so with the baggage of being a book-burner. Surely Rev. Jones knows the Koran is more than a Holy Book for Muslims. It represents a culture, a history, a people, and a language. An offense against the Koran is registered personally by multiplied millions of individuals, whether Rev. Jones likes it or not.
    Surely Rev. Jones also knows the heavily concentrated Muslim population of Dearborn will be an emotionally charged environment, possibly leading to the violence he claims he abhors. Should that happen, blame shifting wouldn't exempt him from moral culpability.
    Regardless of what Rev. Jones does or doesn't do today in Dearborn, the fact is he is contradicting the very message he claims to embrace. The Christian message is one of love, forgiveness, and redemption, not contempt, exclusion, and denunciation. "God so loved the world that He gave His only son . . ." (John 3:16) After He was tortured and hung on a cross to die, Jesus looked at even His tormentors and prayed to God, "Lord, forgive them . . ." (Luke 23:34)
    Good Friday is about the generosity of God toward man, not man's contempt for his fellow man. Rev. Jones is wrong in what he is doing in Dearborn. His words and actions appear to betray the message of Christ and defy the love of God. On this Good Friday, Rev. Jones needs to follow in the footsteps of Christ and share a message of love, humility, and sacrifice -- including giving up his own fear of people he may not fully understand or know. Only by doing so will he be able to share with others the great gift of that first Good Friday he has received himself.

Rev. Rob Schenck is president of the National Clergy Council in Washington, DC, and serves as chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance International.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney is a Presbyterian Minister and Director of the Washington, D.C. Christian Defense Coalition.  He was worked for years reaching out in dialogue with the Muslim world.