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Into the Fire: Who is the radical here?
Erik Dodge
Antelope Staff
Erik Dodge
Courtesy Photo
Jesse Morrell preached by the Nebraska Student Union on the UNK campus last year. His radical views received a lot of attention from UNK students.

The world watched with mixed emotions as Pastor Terry Jones planned— then canceled— the Dove World Outreach Center’s newest attempt at a bonfire—“International Burn a Quran Day.”

Jones told NBC that his plan to burn the holiest book of the Muslim faith, which many Muslims consider the literal word of God, was “to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical”.

At the risk of asking a stupid question, who is the radical?

On a day that should have been spent remembering the 2,749 killed in the World Trade Center attacks, Jones planned a book burning. Protestors and the media descended on the small church, and two people brought guns. They were church supporters.

But if a Bible burning were planned, who would come and how many guns would they bring? I don’t mean to imply that there are more Christian radicals than Muslim ones, but simply that there are radicals in all faiths.

If you believe that all Muslims are terrorists, do you also believe that all Christians are pedophiles?

The inability to distinguish between a few radicals and the millions of American Muslims is extremely troubling and leads to controversies like the one over the New York City mosque. Jones attempted to leverage his threat to burn Qurans to get the mosque moved further from Ground Zero.

In America, the First Amendment grants us free speech, freedom of religion and the right to peaceable assembly. During tranquil times this is considered the lifeblood of democracy, and it should be now as well. A mosque should be built near Ground Zero if there are Muslims there who need a place to worship.    

When two preachers stood outside the union last year and told everyone we were going to hell, the campus responded. A crowd gathered, some shouted, debated and sang songs. Pastor Tom Wilson from the Campus Lutheran church told me he disagreed with their hateful message. From beginning to end, the Bible is a love story, he said.

I hope that in the future we remember Wilson’s message and stand up with similar fervor for any religion under attack. In these clashes, lines should not be drawn between faiths but between acceptance and hate or understanding and fear, and we should remember that people of all religious backgrounds can be found on both sides.

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