Publicity Stunt: Crazy Pastor Wants to Burn the Koran

UPDATE: September 10.

A few hours after the blog below was published, President Obama asked Pastor Jones to listen to his “better angels” and not burn the Koran. He went on to label the burning a “stunt.” Then Defence Secretary Robert Gates called Jones and asked him not to go through with his plan since it would endanger American forces around the world.

The international press covered both communications, and then went into a frenzy when he had talks with a Florida Muslim, who Jones claimed to represent the Muslims who are planning to build the Cordoba Islamic Center near Ground Zero. According to Jones, the Florida man told him that the New Yorkers were on board with moving the Center. Jones canceled the book burning, only to change his tune and say he had only suspended it when the Cordoba team said it was not moving.

(Never one to shun publicity, apparently Donald Trump made an offer to buy the Cordoba site to help the Muslims move elsewhere. Cordoba characterized it as a cheap “stunt.”)

In the meanwhile, Pastor Jones with his ridiculous facial hair and faulty theology continues to grab worldwide attention for his little bit of the lunatic fringe. No matter how this turns out, he’s clearly the winner.

ORIGINAL POST:

By now you’ve probably heard that Terry Jones, the pastor of a tiny Christian church in Florida, plans to honor the 9/11 dead by burning copies of the Koran in a bonfire.

Muslims around the world have made it known they are furious over the planned pyrotechnics. Hard to blame them — and does America really need 1 billion people worldwide to be angry with us because this wingnut is, well, a wingnut?

The largest association of evangelical churches in America has called for Jones not to go through with it.

The Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, has called the burning “idiotic.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that this will harm U.S. interests around the world.

And, most importantly, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan has said this will threaten the safety of his forces there.

Is this clown listening? Will he call it off? Yeah, sure. Why would he do that? Here’s a guy with a tiny following, various news accounts say his parish is anywhere from 30 to 50 people, and he’s getting global attention. All because he says he’s going to do one stupid, ugly thing. He’s got nothing to lose and stands to gain an increased following of people as deranged as he is.

What’s really worrisome is this: What happens if this turns out well for Jones? What if he doubles or triples the size of his congregation? What if he gets interviewed by CNN and Fox News? What does he do for an encore next year?

There are a couple of lessons here for the rest of us:

1) Just because a guy shouts, “Here I am! Look at me!” doesn’t mean we have to look.

2) If you’re pushing a cause or a product or a service or whatever, you need more than an empty publicity stunt to be a success. You have to have something valuable to push.

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