Terry Jones must have noticed the fame clock was about to strike 15 minutes. The Florida pastor at Dove World Outreach Church who last year gained international fame when he vowed to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is at it again.
Jones shelved the Quran burning plans when everyone from Sarah Palin to Iraq war veterans, and even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, basically told him “You’re not helping” our anti-terrorism efforts and you’re putting our soldiers at greater risk.
For his latest stunt, Jones — get ready for this — is putting the Quran on trial for the “murder of millions of people.” That’s right, on March 20 Jones is holding a public trial for the book of the Muslim faith complete with attorneys and judges. The International Judge the Quran Day website makes no mention of a jury, but this being America we’re imagining a jury of the Quran’s peers. Picture it, there in the jury box will sit the Old and New Testament, the Talmud, the Book of Mormon, the Vedas and maybe even Dianetics.
But wait, it gets better.
Jones’ website will live stream the trial and will poll users to choose the punishment if the book is found guilty. Voters will get to pick from burning, shredding, drowning or firing squad. Stoning — that old favorite — is strangely absent.
We’re making light of this latest clownish publicity stunt by Jones because it deserves it. But these kind of stunts are also concerning because the political climate in this country makes it easy for the religious right to stigmatize entire groups of people due to the actions of a few. And it’s not just the Terry Joneses or the Westboro Baptist Churches of the world who are adding to the anti-Muslim hysteria. It’s also elected politicians like U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who last week held hearings to single out Muslim Americans for what he calls religious radicalization. And elected politicians like some of those on the Texas State Board of Education, who last September passed an anti-Muslim resolution that absurdly claims social studies textbooks are anti-Christian and pro-Islam.
Jones’ website notes that the Quran is facing only an “accusation,” so maybe it will at least get a fair trial. Ah, who are we kidding? That Quran is done for. Let’s hope Amarillo’s Jacob Isom happens to be in the neighborhood for this show trial.