Koran-burning pastor, Terry Jones gets my vote

As voted by the Religion Newswriters Association’s members, among the year’s most consequential religion newsmakers were Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, … Continued

As voted by the Religion Newswriters Association’s members, among the year’s most consequential religion newsmakers were Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Pope Benedict XVI, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and the U.S. bishops.

How would you have ranked them? Has their influence been harmful or constructive? What issue or person do you expect to have the biggest impact in the year to come?

Pastor Terry Jones, the Florida-based minister who planned a public Koran burning gets my vote for the most influential American religious figure of 2010. Why? Because he showed us the limits of our fear and rage, or at least the limits of their expression.

At the end of the day, most Americans, including those with a great deal of fear of Islam, and anger directed at all Muslims, rejected Jones’ proposed actions. Terry Jones helped us to remember that whatever it is we think, the vast majority of us know that burning books, especially books that are sacred to pretty much anyone, is simply not right. While that should be obvious, it turns out that we needed the reminder and we got it, thanks to Mr. Jones.

Addiction experts speak of the need for addicts to “hit bottom” before they can address their addiction, and that’s what happened with America and Terry Jones. We hit bottom, and when we did, even people and organizations that might have been supportive of Jones, pulled back and declared that his proposal crossed a line which needed to remain uncrossed.

Ultimately, even Pastor Jones realized the folly of his ways and in doing so, showed us the line we as a nation were not prepared to cross. That’s a story worth recalling.

Jones surely taught us more than the whole Park 51/Ground Zero Mosque project, which topped the Religion Newswriters Association list. There is no building in place and not even one under construction. That story taught us nothing other than the ways in which a small group of people can stir up publicity based on either over-the-top proposals which have limited chances of being realized as proposed, or on the effectiveness of exploiting baseless fear in the electorate in the months leading up to an election.

We ought not to confuse people we admire or agree with, with those who are important or influential. I doubt there is much about which Terry Jones and I would agree upon, especially when it comes to interreligious affairs in general or Islam in particular. But having said that, to look back on religion stories of 2010 and fail to acknowledge how we all learned an important lesson because of him, would be a mistake. So where on the list he belongs, I cannot say, but he surely belongs there which is why I cast this vote for Pastor Terry Jones.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • WmarkW

    On the news I watched about anti-Quran-burning protests in the Middle East, the protestors expressed their displeasure by burning the American flag, and the newscasters took no note of the juxtaposition of symbol desecrations. Why is burning the US flag a legitimate protest mechanism?Because the American flag is supposed to stand for some principles about the form of government, the rights of man, and the relationship of the state to the individual. When those principles are violated (like during the Viet Nam war or propping up the Shah of Iran) flag burning says “You claim to be upholding the flag’s principles, but instead you’re just using it as an emblem of your power. I’m desecrating it physically t protest the fact that you’ve desecrated its alleged meaning.”That’s exactly how I fell about the Quran. When a Soldier of Allah tries to bomb Times Square or shoots up an Army base, the Religion of Peace has lost the right to claim it’s following a book of principles.

  • [email protected]

    Religion is not guilty of the sins of its followers any more than the son is guilty of the sins of his father or mother.

  • Jihadist

    Addiction experts speak of the need for addicts to “hit bottom” before they can address their addiction, and that’s what happened with America and Terry Jones. – Brad Hirshfield*******************************************When fanatics and extremists reach the edge of their fanaticism and extremism, they have no place place to go but to be over the top or to the edge. They can either fall off the edge, or pull back. The greatest weapon against fanatics and extremists are their own destructive and self-destructive acts repulsing us and reacting against them by war of arms, or by war of ideas, or by reason, or by law, or by acts of decency, or all of it.

  • Arif2

    Muslims have no respect or patience for other religions. You may get some muslims talking about the respect they have for the Christians as WAPO showers us with islamic apologist preatching so often, but that is simply muslim smoke and mirrors.What Pastor Terry Jones taught us not even you understood. He tried but no one listened. Burning a koran can get the attention of all IOC countries and our entire political infrastructre, the entire press and every one even the president of the US gets edgy. Jones backed down only because the President of the US, the Generals in Afghanistan and our pussy “free” press came to islam’s rescue.

  • asizk

    Arif2 says:”Muslims have no respect or patience for other religions.”U know u are lying and u are a false witness and as usual insist on advertising your hate and ignorance.It would be interesting to know where u are coming from and to whom u are working for.

  • asizk

    Mr. Hirschfield, U are way off on this one:for a truly civilized society should know its limits and values without having to learn from a lunatic as jones is-otherwise u are encourging more lunatics to teach us more of the same.

  • Kingofkings1

    Arif wrote:———————————–I have heard the same comparison numerous times – except this was from people in rotting in jail, talking about the constitution

  • asizk

    Mr. Hirschfield, We did not need a luantic like hitler to understand the value of hunman life lost in the holocaust nor did we need zionism to understand and appreciate the Nikba (Catastrophe)of the Palestinian People for the past sixty three years. Did we??

  • ThishowIseeit

    All it takes for the enemies of the freedoms that are in our Constitution to triumph, is for the believers in these freedoms to do nothing. Do you want our USA to become like Malaysia ?

  • RichardHode

    What we learned from the Terry Jones affair is how the establishment can come down like a ton of bricks on an unknown no-name pastor from the hinterlands, at the first sign that he will do something to offend the Mohammedan screamers and assassins of the world. Instead of ignoring Jones as he deserved, the mighty U.S. government distinguished this nonentity by leaning on him full force for fear of the Mohammedans. “Free speech,” anyone?Perhaps some day an enterprising businessman will manufacture a three-set of toilet rolls, each imprinted with the Koran, the Torah, and the Bible. Sign me up for 100 rolls, assorted.

  • asizk

    ThishowIseeit,Why don’t u say a word about the racist apartied 63-year old brutal jewish occupation of all of Palestine?Or the new Aushwitz the occupiers cretaed-Gaza????

  • asizk

    RichardHode,How do would compare yourself to jones? I would say favorably.By the way there is no such people as ‘Mohamadans': Muslims worship the One and Only God there is-the God of Adam,Noah, Abraham,Moses,Jesus and Muhammad. Muslims don’t worship Muhammad-that would be blasphemous. Muslims are committed Monotheists-unequivocally.

  • RichmondGiant

    I agree Mr. Hirschfield. I will protect Rev. Jones’ right to be a twit so long as we have a Constitution. All the bruhaha around him is an exercise in why freedom of speech is so important. We usually learn more from mistakes than we do from success.Fools like Jones keep a free society healthy in that they serve as mirrors for us to gaze in to. Mr. Jones showed us the ugly face of Islamophobia or, more broadly, the fear of anything different than ourselves. What gives me faith in America is seeing how we responded to that image of a raving lunatic that echoes, in a small way, the fears we all bear. My prayer for Islam is that they will also see Bin Laden as a mirror.

  • BigSea

    I’m glad “Mr.” Hirschfield got a chance to reiterate his opinion one more time this year that anyone who disagress with him is filld with “rage and fear.” I’m sure it was high-five time in the WaPo editor’s lounge.

  • garrafa10

    What the incident with the Reverend Jones taught us is that in the US you are not free to state publicly and openly you do not like Islam at all; and that sniveling worms like Hirschfield and President Hussein will soil themselves if you do for fear of offending the precious followers of the religion of peace. What is encouraging is the level of animosity towards Islam in the US, highlighted by the blessed Reverend Jones.

  • garrafa10

    “Why don’t u say a word about the racist apartied 63-year old brutal jewish occupation of all of Palestine?Or the new Aushwitz the occupiers cretaed-Gaza????POSTED BY: ASIZK” Why don’t you say a word about the two million Christians and Animists slaughtered in the Southern Sudan the past twenty years by the religion of peace and its followers.?

  • garrafa10

    “Why don’t u say a word about the racist apartied 63-year old brutal jewish occupation of all of Palestine?Or the new Aushwitz the occupiers cretaed-Gaza????POSTED BY: ASIZK” Why don’t you say a word about the two million Christians and Animists slaughtered in the Southern Sudan the past twenty years by the religion of peace and its followers.?

  • VirginiaConservative

    “Why don’t u say a word about the racist apartied 63-year old brutal jewish occupation of all of Palestine?++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Sorry, gomer, but the occupiers there are moslems. That real estate was Christian and Jewish long before the homicidal pedophiles showed up.

  • shewholives

    RichmondGiant, very nice sentiment and very typical of the left wing living in a fantasy land. You wrote: “My prayer for Islam is that they will also see Bin Laden as a mirror.” Muslims are not capable of introspection. Have you ever heard them take responsibility for the atrocities committed in the name of Islam? Taking responsibility is very difficult for Muslims because it means they did something wrong. It would conflict with Muhammad’s commands to spread Islam by the sword. This is a group who believes in their ultimate supremecy over all other beings. A recent survey from Pew Research found that a majority of American Muslims view Osama Bin Laden as a hero. Take your head out of the sand and start dealing in reality.

  • shewholives

    RichardHode,———–

  • sperrico

    Which religion, of the three principal Western religions, is best described as sanctified rage?

  • robertajkaufman3

    Anytime truth is not offered in the spirit of love and correctness it will always miss its mark. There are many forks in the road but the road you are on will right itself if you have taken proper account of your surroundings. We live are lives in a sea of opinions God is the voice that sits above we have to look up to keep from drowning in them. Hear his say and what assails are thrashing around down here. There is something he so loves in human beings that he grieves for every lost soul and it never hurts to listen or quietly walk away if we don’t believe what we hear. God also tells us when to speak and when to be still and that is because of self the hardest thing we ever have to learn sometimes. The Terry Jones and every one of us is here for a reason God dont make mistakes man does thats why we forgive. I like to think that people can evolve from their mistakes if they have any stock to them. In common terms that is endurance Happy New Year

  • aranoff1

    The only way to function in modern society is by rational thinking. Muslim education is rote only. No questions, no discussions. See the new book, Rational Thinking, Government Policies, Science, and Living. Rational thinking means starting from basic principles, applying logic, and checking with empirical verification. We fail to challenge Islam education.

  • Kingofkings1

    Your point was well received and touched on several important topics besides the main topic of the article. For that, you deserve a compliment and acknowledgment, rabbi.

  • greatgrandmasue

    The Internet has awakened the free world to the fact Islam is an organization of hate. In fact it is the largest, most well financed and organized hate group the world has ever seen. And so far it has been protected, praised and bowed to by our president Obama.Wake up people.If you wish to remain free, new tactics are necessary to fight this ‘religion of pieces,bits and other blown apart body parts’. It is all out war folks. Choose your side.Islam produces terrorists and implants cells. The next time a bomb goes off on American soil, level everything Muslim.Only a complete wipe out will stop their terror.Pure and simple.Doubt if this post will make it past the Post censors.

  • shewholives

    Shewholives: what kind of a life is it that in order to survive, one has to think that she must kill others? Worse than a hyena’s. If I were you, I would also join Greatmother sue and request to join her in a therapeutic journey for the benefit of yourself and mankind.

  • ThomasBaum

    asizk You wrote, “U are way off on this one:for a truly civilized society should know its limits and values without having to learn from a lunatic as jones is-otherwise u are encourging more lunatics to teach us more of the same.”If someone wishes to “burn a book”, not ban a book but burn a book, in making a statement is a “lunatic” as you wrote, what, in your opinion, would someone or someones who burns, blows up, what have you, actual human beings and claims that the aforementioned “book” is their justification, be called and what is the “label” that you would apply to this someone or someones?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Jihadist

    “Islam produces terrorists and implants cells. The next time a bomb goes off on American soil, level everything Muslim.”*******************************************Aye…Muslims have patented and copyrighted “how to produce terrorists” but the Tamil Tigers, the IRA, the Irgun, the Stern Gang all argued they also already have patents for “terrorism” too. Muslims also have patented and copyrighted on “implants cells” and silicone breast implants. But the communists argued that thought up “cells”, and Pamela Anderson contended her silicone breast implants are the original and best. As for the next time a bomb goes off in America, it would still be nothing to all the post World War II bombings done by Americans elsewhere from Vietnam to the Middle East. But of course it is the fault of Vietnamese for being communists, and Muslims for being Muslims in being collateral damage in America’s war against communism-terrorism and Islamism-terrorism. No one said some Americans are not level-headed in wanting to “level everything Muslim” in reaction. It cost more than it pays. And meanwhile, Brazil, China, India are growing and growing and growing….

  • Kingofkings1

    Sperrico wrote:——————————————————————————

  • Mnnngj

    With the recent capture of Islamic terrorists trying to attack a Danish cartoon publishing newspaper it makes one wonder – what would happen if millions of people around the world “offended” Muslims by drawing cartoons, shooting videos, burning korans etc. What would the religion of “peace” do with so many in so many places – maybe they would be overwhelmed and realize the planet is full of people who don’t like their murder campaigns? God/Allah has a sense of humor – don’t take yourselves so seriously – no-one else is – and stop killing people everywhere you are …

  • Kingofkings1

    shewhoisasgoodasdead wrote: “People like Pasteur and Salk are leaders in the first sense. People like Gandhi and Confucius, on one hand, and Alexander, Caesar and Hitler on the other, are leaders in the second and perhaps the third sense. Jesus and Buddha belong in the third category alone. Perhaps the greatest leader of all times was Mohammed, who combined all three functions. To a lesser degree, Moses did the same.” Professor Jules Masserman

  • wiki-truth

    FOODRemember; PROCRASTiNATION iS THE THEiF OF Time. So keep busy if Ye can (Employed or Unemployed)!IMPORTANT: Rich, Middle-class or Poor, If YE hath All these “4-Tetra-Needs“ then Ye hath No Worry’s on this Blesseth Holy Cosmic Miraculous, & zero biblical Sin’th, S.pace-S.hip Planet EARTH, aka S.S. GAiA, S.S. GEOiD, S.S. TELLUSng something!BEHOLD: █▀█░██░█▀█░█▀░██

  • ThomasBaum

    asizk You wrote, “U are truly incoherent my friend.”Was the question that I asked too simple or too straight-forward that you chose to ignore it?Or is there another reason for you choosing to ignore it?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • garrafa10

    “Azik wrote: -garrafa10,Azik: You are a stupid Muslim. I wrote in PLAIN ENGLISH about the Southern Sudan, not your pedophile syphilitic prophet. Southern Sudan is Animist and Christian you mongoloid, and the murderers are slaves like you. Fortunately in the future, they, like hundreds of millions around the world, will be free of refuse like you.