I’m writing this post as a regular church attender, a Christian deeply committed to interfaith peacemaking, and a citizen actively involved in several community agencies devoted to improving the quality of life for people locally and globally. I deplore the Florida church’s intention to burn copies of the Koran this weekend. As many world leaders are pointing out, such an action will certainly enflame radical Muslims and increase terrorist responses. This, certainly, is good reason to call off the burning.
But I would say more: If the pastor and his congregation want to score a blow against terrorism, they must choose a method that demonstrates the love of Jesus, not vindictiveness. The Apostle Paul, speaking about that divine love which he had experienced through Jesus, wrote: "Love is patient; love is kind . . .It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful." Would the pastor in Florida examine himself, to see whether he is insisting on his own way, instead of the way that Jesus lived, a way of patience and love? Would he examine himself to see whether what may seem to some a laudable righteous indignation is not, but rather a bitter spirit of resentment?
Now is the time for faithful people who yearn for peace to speak out firmly but not angrily against the contamination of their respective traditions by people motivated by fear, anger, and resentment. Now is the time for voices of love to prevail.