Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of the terror attacks on the United States at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A group of radical Islamic terrorists hijacked religion and jetliners and killed 3,000 people while transforming the New York City skyline and our nation forever.
I was on Marathon’s City Council at the time; as Vice Mayor, I was the designated speaker at the City’s commemorative vigil on Sombrero Beach. It was probably the singular most important speech I gave in my political career, trying to put into words the shock, anger, and sadness we all felt. Let us vow never to forget was the theme of the speech, and it still rings true nine years after. We can never forget the lives lost on that infamous day, as well as the thousands of lives lost in the subsequent wars fought in the Middle East.
What has always perplexed me is that the nutjobs who perpetrated and carried out this act of terror and murder did it in the name of God (Allah). It’s actually amazing and sad what people have done to each other for millennia, all in the name of The Creator. From the religion-based hatred that seems to be as prevalent as sand in the deserts of the Middle East, to the ethnic cleansing in Nazi Germany and Bosnia, to the my-Jesus-is-better-than-your-Jesus mentality of not-so-old Northern Ireland, the perversion of religion seems to know no bounds.
Let’s get this straight: God did not tell the 9/11 hijackers to fly jet aircraft into the World Trade Center. God did not tell Seamus to bomb Sean’s home. God did not tell the suicide bomber to detonate himself in the pizza parlor. God did not tell the Montana Freeman to shoot the abortion doctor. God didn’t tell Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist crew to picket soldiers’ funerals with signs stating that God Hates Fags.
And God most certainly did not tell Pastor Terry Jones to burn a pile of Qurans in Gainesville.
Granted, the free speech provisions in our Constitution protect Jones’ right to burn the Qurans, the same way they would protect him were he to burn Bibles or the US flag instead. As of my deadline, this nutjob pastor was still threatening to commemorate September 11 by calling it “International Burn A Koran Day” and turning Islam’s holy texts into a bonfire of hate.
A few weeks ago, only the 50 people in his congregation really knew who Pastor Terry Jones was. Now, everyone around the world knows who he is and what he plans to do. Political and religious leaders from around the world have voiced their pleas that Jones not burn the Qurans. US Army General David Petraeus warned that this act would inflame anti-American sentiments among the people in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the likely consequences of violence against American service personnel serving in the Middle East. With people as diverse as Hillary Clinton, Sean Hannity, and Angelina Jolie publicly imploring this misguided minister to abandon this stunt, with the threat of putting our troops in harm’s way, one might think that this might have an effect on Jones. His only response? “I’ll pray about it.”
Guess what, Terry? God isn’t going to tell you to burn Qurans. If you claim that He did, you’re lying. We’ve got enough problems with radical Islamic nutjobs overseas without having to deal with the radical Christian nutjobs here.
And if Qurans are burned in Gainesville on September 11, and any of our troops are hurt or killed as a result, then what you did, though it may be protected free speech, will be akin to an act of treason.
I’ve met some people, and I’ve seen lots of others who claim that they have a “special” relationship with God, and that they can speak on behalf of Him. I don’t believe them.
They’re either knowingly lying, or delusional. And, as we have seen all too many times, they can be dangerous.
I’ll say a prayer as I remember September 11. I’ll pray for more understanding and good will between people of different faiths and nationalities. I’ll pray for a real and lasting peace. And I’ll pray that God will save us from some of his wacko nutjob followers.