Quran burning Pastor Terry Jones is in Dearborn Michigan to bring his special brand of “Christianity” to protest the Islamic Center of America mosque in Dearborn. Dearborn is home to the largest Muslim community in America and is in close proximity to West Bloomfield and surrounds, home to a large Jewish community. The communities have worked with the neighboring Christian community peacefully and successfully for years, making the Dearborn principle of religious tolerance and interaction a model for other communities.
Terry Jones wants to throw gasoline on their model of tolerance, but his plans have backfired.
Jones was denied a permit to protest on public property, and warned that he could be subject to arrest if he protested without a permit. Jones said that wouldn’t stop him from protesting. After a judge told Jones he could protest if he paid a peace bond and stayed in a free speech zone as he planned protest near a school and churches, Jones opted instead for a trial to rule on his planned protest for 5 PM, which is taking place today. Jones wasn’t pleased when the judge initially cited public safety concerns, suggesting that extra police would be needed if Jones were to protest and Jones needed to pay for such.
900 people gathered to protest Jones’ and to show solidarity with the Mosque, including religious leaders Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, leader of the Islamic Center; and Richard Nodel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
The Detroit News reported:
The Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, said Jones has actually done the community a favor by uniting the various religious factions.
“Thank you for bringing us together,” William said as the audience all stood to applaud. “This is our time to go to work.”
Before and during the rally, hundreds of people signed a 50-foot-long banner that exhorted them to oppose Jones and remember the best parts of their faith.
“We, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith,” read the banner.
The issue here is free speech versus public safety. Jones recently burned the Quran in Florida, an act that incited Muslim retaliation leading to 20 people’s deaths in Afghanistan. Jones says he won’t be burning the Quran in his Dearborn protest. Jones also said he would be armed with a pistol but is coming in “peace.” While Jones is entitled to free speech, he is not entitled to endanger the safety of other people and he is responsible for the cost of extra police if his hate speech is incendiary enough to necessitate extra police. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund riot police for his hate speech. The ACLU is monitoring the situation to ensure his free speech rights are protected.
As much as his behavior can enrage those who witness it, lessons can be learned here. Watching the way the religious communities are rallying together around their Muslim brothers and sisters is a great example of how to deal with hate while not denying free speech.
Hate speech such as practiced by Jones is an example of the lowest level functioning of human beings and sad to say, it’s not going away any time soon. Just like any miserable being, it craves to bring others down to its level; it desires reaction and distraction. Jones would like to bring his hate to Dearborn and disrupt a very workable and admirable cooperative mixed faith community.
But Jones isn’t going to get that satisfaction if the religious leaders of the area have any say about it. Instead, the religious leaders are forming stronger bonds of peace and mutual cooperation, and standing firm in directing their actions to meet the higher expectations of their faiths. This is how we deal best with hate. We show hate that it can’t win, it can’t infest us, and we are immune to it. We return hate with a strong bond that insists on respect and mutual tolerance. And most importantly, we condemn hate without succumbing to it.
It’s maddening that Jones wants to waste his life spreading hate in the name of Jesus. But here in America, he has this right unless he endangers public safety. We’ll see how the jury rules today. There’s nothing hate hates more than being met with immovable bonds of higher-minded intentions, because that’s when hate loses for real.
Image: Dearborn Patch