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From the Editor’s desk: Terry Jones sparks debate of tolerance, free speech


Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:09


This past week Terry Jones of Gainesville, FL made headlines across the globe with his plan to hold “International Burn a Qur’an Day,” on September 11.

Jones, a fundamentalist Christian pastor, sparked a plethora of debates this past week ranging from religious tolerance to the line between free speech and hate speech, with both General David Patraeus and President Obama intervening.

Christians such as Jones, the  Concord, NC man noted in our “Local and State News” this week, and even the fundamentalist men regularly preaching outside the library give a false representation of Christian thought. Ninety-nine percent of Christian churches you attend across the globe would disagree with Jones for his near actions. There is no need for a pastor to be armed with  a pistol while giving his weekly sermon on Sunday morning, as is Jones.

In reality, Jones, much like the preachers who come to UNCG, should get no representation from the media or acknowledgement from citizens. Yet overnight, Jones became one of the world’s most wanted due to news coverage of his planned event and his “theological belligerence,” according to ABC News.

Free speech is a right protected by our first amendment. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the “right of the people peaceably to assemble,” are rights that make America great. Jones and his church are protected under this very amendment to our Constitution.

Yet, Jones’ planned event caused riots across the world. Muslims in the Middle East attatched another face to their view of Westerners, burning pictures of Jones and our nation’s flag. This prompted, and rightfully so, advice from President Obama and General Patraeus not to go along with plans of the burning.

Patraeus, the leader of the continuing effort in Afghanistan, was concerned for his, and our, troops. Terrorists in the region were sparked to comment on the burning, saying they would retaliate on U.S. troops.

This is when Jones should have stopped. Our country recognized the immediate danger of our troops abroad. No citizen of this country wants a soldier to return home with an American flag draped over their coffin, especially one who was killed in retaliation of a frivolous and unnecessary act.

Jones deserves to lose his church. Yes, Jones did not go ahead with the burning, but he gave a false representation of the millions of hard-working, dedicated pastors across the globe who teach Christian doctrine and peaceful tolerance of other religions. It is up to us to acknowledge the peaceful and the tolerant, and disregard those who abuse their first amendment rights.

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