When “God’s Anointed” Need a Spanking
by Pastor George Van Alstine

We’re coming up to September 11 and the ninth anniversary of the awful NY Twin Towers tragedy. How can we best commemorate what this pivotal event means to our Nation?

A Florida pastor knows just what to do. He has declared in God’s name that September 11 will be “International Burn a Quran Day.” Well, this has caused quite an uproar. Reverence for the Quran, the actual physical book, is so great that Muslims worldwide have expressed themselves in spontaneous demonstrations against the insult they feel. Since the church is in America, their anger has been directed toward everything American and everything Christian. Missionaries and aid workers feel personally threatened.

Virtually every Christian leader has asked the pastor to back off from the planned book-burning for the sake of world peace, but he insists his mandate is from God. Confronted by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the pastor held to his righteous stand. Matthew’s asked him what national leader he respected most, and he answered former President George Bush. The interviewer continued, “If President Bush called and asked you not to follow through with the planned Quran-burning, would you agree?” The pastor’s unhesitating answer was, “No, this is what God wants us to do.”

General David Petraeus, one of America’s most universally respected military leaders, has made a strong public appeal:

“This could endanger troops and endanger the overall military effort. . . . It is precisely this kind of action the Taliban uses, and it could cause significant problems, not just here, but everywhere in the world where we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

The pastor remains unmoved.

Who is this man who is so sure of himself and so confident that he is doing God’s will? His name is Terry Jones, and he shares with his wife Sylvia the leadership of Dove Worldwide Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. This is a small, tightly-controlled church which has expressed a consistent and uncompromising Fundamentalist message for many years. Muslims are their main target right now, but Jones’ hit-list also includes gays, Jews and political liberals. At the church’s on-line site, you can listen to a tape which repeatedly uses the N-word. The word “Dove” in the church’s name should not be confused with any commitment to peace.

The Joneses also own and operate an e-Bay company that markets furniture. Those who work for the company are all church-member volunteers who work 12-hour days without pay. The site raises up to $15,000 per week, some of which supports the church, with a significant amount used to maintain the Joneses lifestyle, including their two homes and their boat. Needless to say, the IRS has been looking into this arrangement.

It’s really sad that people like this can come to represent Christianity in the eyes of the world. Of course, such an unfair representation is not unlike the caricature we tend to have of terrorists and the Taliban as being typical of Muslims. Christians should say, “Don’t judge us by our worst, and we will not judge you by your worst.”

It’s also sad that people like Terry and Sylvia Jones can so easily emerge into Christian leadership. Many of these folk hide behind the protection of the Biblical warning, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” They teach that their calling from God makes them immune from criticism. Nonsense! They are charlatans and the people who follow them are being foolish — it’s as simple as that. We have not only a right but a responsibility to call out false Christian leaders long before they reach national prominence or an interview on CNN.