Dr Terry Jones
Pastor Terry Jones is the spiritual leader of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida. The dove is a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit. There is clearly a mismatch between the name of the organisation and the words and actions of Pastor Jones.Calls to burn copies of the Qur’an are more likely to enrage Moslems than to lead to peace. Speeches about the perceived “evils” of Islam to organisations like the English Defence League are more likely to inflame their existing prejudices than to lead them into quieter, more reflective, more positive ways of thinking about their Moslem neighbours.
Should the UK Home Secretary ban him from the United Kingdom? The proper response is not immediately obvious. If he is banned, a clear and positive message is sent to Moslems that the UK Government abhors Pastor Jones’ message. Banning him would, of course, lead to much publicity being given to him and his message would appear in newspapers for days. If, on the other hand, he is allowed to come to the UK, the message Moslems glean from his visit might be that the UK Government does not disagree with him. This would have a thoroughly adverse effect on relations with the Moslem community. His visit, to a planned march and demonstration by the English Defence League, could lead to a very violent and ugly situation. English Defence League events are normally violent.
Banning him might be the better decision, but if he is allowed to come, the opportunity would exist for local Christian groups to invite him to debate peacefully with them, providing the opportunity to challenge his understandings of Jesus and the gospel. Opportunity also exists for Christian groups to reach out to their local Moslem groups in order to better understand each other. Quite a few surprises could result. There is much that Islam and Christianity have in common.
Pastor Jones seems unaware that Jesus reached out in friendship to those of a religion other than his own. There were the Roman Centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman, for example. He also seems unaware that the only religious people Jesus took issue with were fellow Jews. The Beatitudes, in particular, are ignored by him. There one finds, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God,” and much else that is relevant besides.