By now many of you have heard of Burn the Quran Day, an idea started by a Protestant pastor of a tiny church in Florida to “commemorate” the September 11 terrorist attacks. This Saturday, he and his congregation plan on burning copies of the Quran, the book considered by Muslims as sacred scripture.
I haven’t thoroughly read the reasons why he’s doing this. I think he wants to send a message that Americans are not push-overs and that Islam is from the devil.
Honestly, I don’t really care about his motives. It’s a stupid idea.
As Christians, we don’t believe that the Quran is divinely inspired. Nevertheless, there’s no point in taking such an offensive and disrespectful action on a book considered holy and sacred by Muslims.
On this blog, we have expressed concerns in the past about some tendencies within Islam, their beliefs and behaviours. But we don’t take any pleasure in mocking their holy objects. Nor should we. That’s just a cheap shot that accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t help in establishing a dialogue and it doesn’t convert anybody. It by-passes the intellect and engages exclusively at the level of the passions, which isn’t conducive to anything constructive. Rational debate about doctrine and behaviours is necessary, but cheap shots should be avoided.
Freedom of speech needs to be kept in check by respect for the common good, otherwise things go sour in a hurry. I think that minimal respect for each others’ sacred objects is in line with the common good in a civilized society.
Muslims are understandably outraged. So would I if somebody was burning the Bible in Saudi Arabia.
That being said, there is a limit to which we can accommodate other religions. For example, if one of our separated brethren takes offense at me praying the Rosary, that’s tough luck for him. I won’t give up my devotion to Mary simply because he thinks it’s idolatry. Likewise, we don’t need to give up eating beef simply because it may offend some Hindus. Granted, if I was going out to dinner with a Hindu friend I wouldn’t purposely order a 16 ounce New York Sirloin steak :-). I’d probably order a non-beef item, just to avoid causing a stir, out of courtesy for my friend.
What we need is balance and respect. Burning the Quran achieves neither.