The inaptly named Dove World Outreach Center (an evangelical church) in Gainesville, Florida wants to create a bonfire of Korans but has been denied a permit by the fire marshal. Incredibly, Gainesville’s “burning ordinance” prohibits the open air torching of books — either some city councilman was worried about global warming or wanted to prevent scenes like this:
Either way it is a far-sighted, content-neutral municipal ordinance that should pass First Amendment scrutiny. Despite being denied a permit, the intolerant zealots at Dove have vowed to go ahead with the burning.
To justify their actions, church leaders have helpfully provided us with a “Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran” list (10 being a magic number for wrathful Old Testament types). The list positively drips with irony and ignorance. I have abridged the list and added italicized comments after each item:
1. The Koran teaches that Jesus Christ, the Crucified, Risen Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was NOT the Son of God, nor was he crucified (a well documented historical fact that ONLY Islam denies). This teaching removes the possibility of salvation and eternal life in heaven for all Islam’s believers. They face eternal damnation in hell if they do not repent.
There are close to 7 billion people in the world and only about 2 billion of them are Christians. This means that 5 billion people now living are destined for hell because they do not believe Jesus was the son of God. Hell will be crowded.
2. The Koran does not have an eternal origin. It is not recorded in heaven. The Almighty God, Creator of the World, is NOT it’s source. It is not holy. It’s writings are human in origin, a concoction of old and new teachings.
These comments apply equally well to the Christian Bible.
3. The Koran’s teaching includes Arabian idolatry, paganism, rites and rituals.
This too describes Christian beliefs and practices, if one replaces “Arabian” with “Greco-Roman.”
4. The earliest writings that are known to exist about the Prophet Mohammad were recorded 120 years after his death. All of the Islamic writings (the Koran and the Hadith, the biographies, the traditions and histories) are confused, contradictory and inconsistent.
These assertions apply equally to the composition, compilation, and exegesis of Christian texts.
5. Mohammad’s life and message cannot be respected. They also led to political assassinations and massacres which continue to be carried out on a regular basis by his followers today.
Have these people ever read about the Christian Crusades, Thirty Years War, Heresy Trials, and Inquisitions?
6. Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature. There is no separation of church and state. It is irrational. It is supposedly immutable and cannot be changed. It must be accepted without criticism.
Since when have evangelicals supported the separation of church and state, or accepted criticism of their beliefs?
7. Islam is not compatible with democracy and human rights. The notion of a moral individual capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for them does not exist in Islam. The attitude towards women in Islam as inferior possessions of men has led to countless cases of mistreatment and abuse.
Since the time of Constantine (~324 C.E.), Christianity has been associated with empire, monarchy, and despotism. Christianity has been linked to democracy in only a few countries over the past two centuries. We can grant that Islam has serious problems when it comes to women, but Christians have always had their fair share of patriarchal domination.
8. A Muslim does not have the right to change his religion. Apostasy is punishable by death.
Again, Christianity has a long history of executing those it considers heretics.
9. Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West.
This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black — the West has an irrational fear and loathing of “Islam,” which is neither unified nor hegemonic.
10. Islam is a weapon of Arab imperialism and Islamic colonialism. Wherever Islam has or gains political power, Christians, Jews and all non-Moslems receive persecution, discrimination, are forced to convert. There are massacres and churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship are destroyed.
This is another perfect description of European-Christian imperialism and colonialism. Do these people know about the Spanish conquests of the New World? This also applies to American-Christian imperialism and colonialism, a perfect example of which is the near extermination of Native Americans and their forced conversion to Christianity.
My comments should neither be taken as a defense of Islam nor a condemnation of Christianity. I am simply pointing out that the bill of particulars used by zealous and intolerant Christians to condemn Islam applies with equal force to their own faith, if only they knew its history.