Don’t Burn The Qur’an, Read It

Way too much coverage has been given to some pastor of a tiny Gainesville church just because he plans to burn the Qur’an on 9/11.:  While I have no objection to the content of that coverage, which has consisted of near universal condemnation, it’s not surprising to me at all that protecting Muslim sensibilities seems to immediately launch the media into high gear. As far as I’m concerned, this pastor has gotten more attention than he deserves. But the damage is done on that front, so I might as well go ahead and weigh in.

Gen. David Petraeus pointed out that the stunt may put American troops in greater jeopardy. This is probably true, but I’ve rejected Muslim violence and intimidation as a legitimate reason not to exercise our rights in the past, so I don’t think that by itself is a sufficient reason here. The real issue is that there’s no good reason to do it in the first place.

I don’t know a whole lot about this pastor, but I think it’s safe to assume that he doesn’t like Islam and would prefer if Muslims converted to Christianity. He’s free to take both of these positions, but will burning the Qur’an accomplish his goals? I certainly fail to see how.

I’m no religious missionary – though I do seek to convert people to free markets and limited government – but it seems to me that it’s not very convincing to insult not only their religion, but also the hundreds of millions of adherents who practice it peacefully.

This pastor should be reading the Qur’an and using its contents to converse or debate with Muslims if his goal is conversion.:  Ask them difficult questions regarding specific Islamic teachings. Are the religious interpretation of the radicals actually wrong? If so, how? What about all the clear instructions in the Qur’an to violently confront infidels? If Muhammad is the perfect man, does that mean Muslims should emulate his desire for conquest? For marrying prepubescent girls? Even if he makes no progress with the person he is engaging, others who hear this discussion might confront contradictions that they have never questioned before. They will certainly be more willing to take him seriously if he shows both knowledge and respect for the contents of their holy text.

On the other hand, burning the Qur’an will rally the many factions of Islam against him.:  He will, in essence, legitimize the violent extremists by giving the rest of Islam an issue on which to agree with the radicals.:  And he certainly won’t convince anyone to convert to Christianity. So my advice to this pastor is very simple: don’t burn the Qur’an, read it.

Cross-posted at Conservative Compendium.

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Brian Garst

Brian Garst

Brian Garst is the Director of Government Affairs for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-profit think tank dedicated to preserving tax competition and free markets. He also blogs at BrianGarst.com.

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