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(reprinted from Street Prophets)

The first time I heard about Pastor Terry Jones and his venomous Crusade against the Saracens, I wrote the following diary about it.  In retrospect, I think I was too kind to Jones, and cut him more slack than he deserved.  The years have made him only more toxic.  Still, in the wake of this past week's hate video and it's repercussions, I think it's worthwhile to take a look at what Jones and his disciples are really doing:

A mother is preparing her child for school.  “Do you love me?” she asks as she tucks in his shirt.  

“Yes, Mama.”  

“Do you love Almighty God?”  she asks as she ties his shoe.  

“Yes, Mama.”  

“And You always try to do what God wants you to?”  she asks as she tapes twelve sticks of dynamite to his shirt.  

“Yes, Mama.”  

She pulls a hoodie over the explosives and kisses her child on the forehead.  “Then go and take out as many unbelievers as you can!”

What kind of a parent would do that?  What kind of a parent would turn a child into a living weapon who would destroy himself in the process of harming others?  Must be one of those Muslim fanatics, one of those Islamic terrorists you read about.  No Christian parent in America could do such a thing, right?

And yet...

Last week my wife brought an article to my attention about a north Florida school where a handful of students were sent home for wearing t-shirts reading “Islam is of the Devil”.  A representative of the school district said that the shirts were potentially disruptive and offensive and that they violated the district’s school policy.  Apparently they got these shirts from their church, the Dove World Outreach Center.  The pastor of that church, Terry Jones (Not the Python), defended the shirts saying that spreading the church’s message is more important than education.

To which my gut reaction is, “And how does this build the Body of Christ?”

What is the purpose of such a shirt, anyway?  If it’s to proclaim the Love of God and the Gospel of Christ, I’m not seeing it.  As I’ve always understood it, that is what the Church’s message is supposed to be; and yet the shirt says nothing about Redemption, nothing about Forgiveness; nothing about God’s unfailing love.  Now I’m not a big fan of Bumper Sticker Theology, of boiling religious doctrine down to pithy cracks brief enough to fit between the “I (Heart) My (Dog Head)” and the “My Other Car’s a Velocipede” stickers: but this message doesn’t even go that far.

If it’s to persuade Muslims of the falseness of their beliefs, then they’re doing a crappy job of it.  I think that Islam is mistaken about a number of theological points that I believe are important; the Divinity of Christ is a biggie; but then, I’m a Lutheran and we disagree with everybody’s theology.  I can’t brand all of Islam as satanic because I disagree with their teachings any more than I can brand Baptists as satanic for rejecting the practice of Infant Baptism or the Catholics for their belief in Purgatory.  For one thing, I believe that elements of God’s Truth can be found even in religions I differ with; and for another, I’m sure that Satan is crafty enough to work even with Good LCMS Lutherans.  The beliefs and practices seen in the Muslim world that American Christians find most diabolical are not accepted universally by all Islam.  What’s more, as a Christian, I know that our own hands are not exactly clean when it comes to deeds of wickedness.

More to the point, you don’t persuade anybody by calling them evil. Saint Paul knew that.  When he preached to the Athenians on the Areopagus, he did not accuse them of  being pagan idolaters in the grip of Satan; he started off by saying, “I see that in every way you are very religious.” (Acts 17:22).  And then he told about the Gospel by connecting it to the teachings of their own poets and philosophers.

The cynic in me says that these shirts were never intended to persuade anybody of anything, but merely to create controversy; that the church expected the school to reject those shirts so that that the church could then make a big deal over how them Evil Secularists were Persecuting the People of God.  

Of course, that’s just the cynic in me.  I have no evidence that’s what this church intended, and I hope my cynic is wrong.  There’s a passage in 1 Peter that says:  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”  But it goes on to say, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or a thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler." (1 Peter 4:14-15).  The King James Version renders that last bit as “busybodies in other men’s affairs.”  In other words, you are indeed blessed if the World hates you for your belief in Christ; but if people hate you because you’re being a troll, you get no brownie points.

So what then is the real message of these t-shirts?  What do they convey that is so important that Pastor Jones says he must obey the commands of God rather than the dress codes of Man?  The only thing I can figure is the message of the t-shirt, “Islam is of the Devil”, is intended solely to instill and to foment hatred against Muslims.  And what does Scripture tell us about hatred?  “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”  (1 John 3:15)

That’s what these parents are putting on their children, with the best of intentions and with their pastor’s blessing:  a bomb attached to their chests; a bomb of hatred which, like more conventional explosives, destroys the bomber even as it harms his targets.

So again I have to ask, what kind of a parent would do that?  What kind of mother would inflict that upon her daughter?  What kind of a father would shape his son into a bludgeon to the cost of the child’s own bones?  What kind of parents would want their child to become a murderer?

Originally posted to quarkstomper on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jars Are Of the Devil (15+ / 0-)

    I later found out that "Islam Is Of the Devil" was the title of a book Jones had written; so that the t-shirts his church were giving out was not spreading God's Word as much as it was Free Advertising for Terry Jones.

    Whom I suspect is the god Pastor Jones really worships.

    I live for feedback.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:28:12 AM PDT

    •  Appeals to the teachings of Jesus (5+ / 0-)

      are a waste of time with these folks. They are all about "spiritual warfare" or some other BS that requires an enemy. It is their confrontation with the "enemy" that solidifies their flock and gooses the contribution stream.
        Because Muslim demonstrations and riots in the Mideast are so vivid, and yet far enough away to be safe, people like Jones will keep stepping up the incitement. It's so much more profitable than tedious arguments about evolution.

      •  Gospels Apparently Unknown (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper, G2geek, carver, SchuylerH

        The Christers always appear to be totally ignorant of the Gospels.  They seem to be able to quote chapter and verse of the Old Testament and selected epistles in the New Testament.  Somehow, they always seem to be able to leave out any of the core pronouncements of the person they worship.  I have never understood just how they are permitted to call themselves "Christians" without being challenged on it.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:51:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're Probably Right... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SchuylerH

        ...I'm not going to persuade Jones or any of his flock.  But I am a Christian, and as such I feel an obligation to present a positive witness for the Gospel, to oppose the hateful witness of Jones.  To do otherwise would be to cede Christ to these yahoos and let them be the sole voice of Christendom.

        Which would be a waste.  I mean, does Jones ever even mention Jesus?  Granted, I only ever hear of him through the Media, which focus on controversy rather than theology; but still, his message seems to consist solely of "Islam Is Evil" and nothing about Love, about Forgiveness, about Mercy, or even about Salvation.

        No, this guy is all about stoking anger and being in the spotlight.  He may think he's speaking in the tongues of men and angels, but he's a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.

        I wish I could say he doesn't represent Christianity -- he doesn't represent the faith that I was taught -- but his voice has been far too prevalent and far too unchallenged in the Church through history and today.

        Which is also an important reason to challenge it

        "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

        by quarkstomper on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 12:45:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Jones is a narcissist and a huckster (5+ / 0-)

    for whom any attention is considered positive attention. He is obsessed with attaining "relevance" and gaining a broad pulpit through inciteful publicity stunts. Consideration of the effects of those stunts isn't part of his (im)moral calculus.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:39:03 AM PDT

  •  Evil people will always find a "reason" to do evil (3+ / 0-)

    ..... and good people will always find a "reason" to do good.

    Each will justify it by his or her own ideology or whatever beliefs, or will borrow from the local belief system to make it comprehensible to others.  

    But at core there is good will and there is evil will.

    Terry Jones has evil will.  He is no more Christian than he is a squirrel.  

    But if he tried to claim he was a squirrel, the rest of the squirrels would laugh at him and pelt him with acorns.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 07:17:30 AM PDT

    •  He can Claim to be Speaking for Christ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, SchuylerH

      ...but I don't think I've ever heard him mention Jesus.  Or if he does, the Gospel always takes a back seat to His Issue.

      When I lived in Des Moines back in the '80s there was a guy named David Shedlock who led the local Operation Resuce chapter.  He was supposed to be a minister too, but he never talked about Christ in public; just about Killing Babies.  Baby Jesus was an afterthought.

      Now, I suppose it's possible that both men preach the Gospel fervently from the pulpit on Sunday, and that the media only reports on their crackpot stunts and not on the quiet work of being a Minister of the Gospel.  But my suspicion is that washing people's feet is too humble for these guys; they gotta be standing out, harranging the Ungodly.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 12:54:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Dove Center is toxic (4+ / 0-)

    You can google the site; I refuse to link to it but Jones is a Westboro wannabe.  He has perhaps 50 church members but desires bigger and better things, which means much more wealth and much more political influence.  Burning the Q'ran was the stunt that got him national attention.  He will continue with toxic stunts until he gets the wealth and power he craves.

    If memory serves, Jones once or twice had mega churches but was expelled due to irregularities with the church finances  

  •  Church of the Holy Grift (3+ / 0-)

    Hallelootjah

    rMoney: Just another jerk, lookin' for work.

    by OleHippieChick on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 10:34:34 AM PDT

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