The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Pastor Jones denies religious freedom

In August, an evangelical pastor in Gainesville, Fla. publicly announced that he was going to burn the Islamic scared text, the Quran. His announcement outraged members of all communities across the globe, and was radical enough to emit a personal phone call from General David Petraeus.Terry Jones threatened to burn more than 200 copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of 9/11. According to The New York Times, Jones suspended the burning because he felt “like God was telling us to stop.”

Meanwhile, my question is how did Jones ever think this was a good idea in the first place? The entire idea is racist, discriminatory, and goes against what the United States was founded on, and what we as Americans are supposed to believe in.

The First Amendment states that Americans have the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. The Constitution was created to push our boundaries, to make sure everyone’s rights and beliefs were safe. However, I was taught that if exercising your rights starts to hurt anyone else, or takes away their rights, then it was no longer a valid right under the Constitution.

Freedom of speech is a great thing; by writing this article, I am participating in that right. But a lot of Americans hide behind those rights, saying and doing things that hurt others, then claiming that is OK because they are protected by the Constitution. Behavior is voluntary, and it should not be protected when it begins to encroach on another person’s boundaries.

Pastor Jones’s threats, in which he exercised the freedom of speech, caused harm all over the world. According to The New York Times, by Sept. 16, a total of five Afghani people had been killed in Afghanistan during protests. Before that, 35 officers and 12 civilians were hurt by rocks on Sept. 15.

I think as Americans, we hide behind our rights. We are so used to the ease and fluidity of our daily lives, being able to say, do, and believe whatever we want. We take our Constitution for granted. For the most part, Americans live pretty cushy lives, and we need to realize that our actions do have consequences.

It is unacceptable that an action of one person caused both pain and death. How is it logical to protest the death and the pain felt by America on 9/11 by creating more pain and more death? Our soldiers are currently in Afghanistan trying to teach democracy, trying to build up religious tolerance and give Afghanistan the same rights Americans take for granted every day. Yet back home, there are threats to destroy everything we have accomplished since 9/11.

Jones was wrong to threaten the burning of another’s sacred texts. In a way, it is like denying their right to religion in this country. If people are burning their sacred texts, Islamic people are never going to feel at home in America, and that is what the first amendment is all about, allowing the freedom of religion so everyone can live peacefully and happily.

“We need to develop a place of understanding faith and decide what commonalities there are among us,” IFP Gifts Discernment Coordinator Frank Massey said. “Too often we blanket everyone because of the radical few, but we need to stop stereotyping and find out who people really are.”

If we are supposed to be world leaders in religious freedom, we need to start showing responsibility. Threatening to burn religious texts is no way to show the pain from 9/11. That pain will never be forgotten; it has formed us as a country. What we need to do is to keep 9/11 in the back of our minds as we move forward, remembering that we have the opportunity to show our enemies that we can, and will, overcome their prejudice, and we will do them one better; we will help to teach them.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *