To burn, or not to burn…

Fahrenheit 451 warned us of the dangers involved in book burning and censorship. I grew up hearing stories of libraries in the 1950s burning books they thought were inappropriate. One of the funniest scenes in the Indiana Jones franchise involves Indiana Jones meeting Hitler at a book burning. Book burning has become synonymous with evil and censorship. So when a church in Florida announced that they will be burning copies of the Koran on September 11th, there was, of course an outrage. After all, burning a book some deem as holy says the burners want a religion censored and even banned, never mind the first amendment! Or are they? While I’m sure this group of “Christians” would love for every copy of the Koran to be ripped off of library and bookstore shelves all across the country, thus burning in a fire fit to destroy the one ring of power, there’s also another side of book burning. That side is one of peaceful demonstration and protest.

Let me clarify my stance on the matter before anyone thinks that I’m siding with the church in Florida. I do not support their efforts to burn the Koran. Having said that, I do support their right to protest, however blindly, anything they wish to protest. Sure, they’re wrong, and downright stupid – not to mention hypocritical – but as Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” These people have the right to peacefully protest Islam, just as the Muslims have the right to practice religion. And like I said, I do NOT side with their beliefs on this matter. I believe they’re being hypocritical and unloving. They are proclaiming their hatred for another religion – one they probably feel should not be covered under the first amendment. However, they are not actually harming anyone, and they are not forcing any censorship – that’s what makes this specific book burning different then the Nazi book burnings.

Twice in this article, I’ve called these soon to be book burners “hypocritical.” This is true on two levels. There’s the obvious level. They are, essentially saying the first amendment is only for Christians. They are saying that you only have the right to practice religion if you are practicing their religion. The second level of hypocrisy is somewhat ironic. These “Christians” are not following the commands of Christ, and hence they are being hypocritical to their own religion. Christ himself commanded his followers to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” (Luke 10:26) and to “Do to others as you want them to do to you” (Luke 6:31). How is taking another religion’s sacred texts and burning them following either of these commandments? Would these “Christians” like it if the Muslims were burning the Bible? Would these Christians stand up in outrage if another religion wanted Christianity exempt from the first amendment? I guarantee you that these “Christians” would be outraged if either of these things happened. And yet, these “Christians” do the very thing to the Muslims. Oh, and this is not just about banning a religion. They chose to do this on September 11th – this is about vengeance. Never mind Mathew 5: 38-42 (turn the other cheek), never mind Romans 12:19 (Vengeance is mine sayeth the lord) – these “Christians” want revenge.

Again, I say that while I support the rights of those who plan on burning the Koran, I also wish they wouldn’t. It seems like something that will do more harm than good. It’s not going to attract any more followers to Christianity. It’s not going to change the first amendment – which is a good thing. It’s not going to change the hearts of any Muslim. Rather, it’s going to scare away would be followers of Christianity. It’s going to make more and more people wonder if perhaps the first amendment should exempt Christians, and it will give more ammo to the extremist factions found in Islam. So while I certainly respect the rights of these “Christians” to protest, perhaps it would be better for all parties involved if they worked on other efforts.

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