Under immense pressure by political leaders on both sides of the spectrum, Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., said in a press conference late Thursday afternoon that he would not hold his "International Burn a Koran Day" event.
He said he would travel to New York City on Saturday to meet with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim leader in charge of efforts to build the Islamic center, which included a mosque and had sparked intense political debate.
However, it is unclear whether Rauf intended to meet Jones. Reuters reported after the Jones press conference that sources close to Rauf said there was no plan to move the center.
... Jones said his church had been looking for signs from God as it tried to decide whether to go ahead with the book burning. The church would cancel the event, the pastor said, "if they were either willing to cancel the mosque at Ground Zero, or if they were willing to move it from that location -- we would consider that a sign from God."
"He has been in contact with the imam in New York City," Jones explained, apparently referring to God. "He has agreed to move the location."
Um ... yeah, whatever. I suppose that for some people, it's comforting to know that God has nothing better to do with his time.
And where does this leave the rest of us? Over a PowerLine, John Hinderaker notes:
The amount of pressure that was brought to bear on Jones and his parishioners (I assume he has some) was remarkable. President Obama made a personal appeal; virtually every political leader in both parties begged Jones not to burn the Korans; religious leaders unanimously denounced Jones's plan; and he was visited by the FBI. The result, I suppose, is a good one, but it is hard to feel positive about any aspect of this story. We now have firmly established the principle that you can kick Bibles and other scriptures around all you want, but no one in the world can act disrespectfully toward a Koran. It is, perhaps, a watershed moment.
The establishment failed to issue a similar hue and cry when gay activists burned a Book of Mormon on the steps of a Denver church, in the wake of the 2008 California Proposition 8 referendum. And there's this now mostly-forgotten item, reported in The Washington Times on May 15, 2002:
BETHLEHEM, West Bank - The Palestinian gunmen holed up in the Church of the Nativity and later deported by Israel seized church stockpiles of food and "ate like greedy monsters" until the food ran out, while more than 150 civilians went hungry.
... Catholic priests said that some Bibles were torn up for toilet paper, and many valuable sacramental objects were removed.
"Palestinians took candelabra, icons and anything that looked like gold," said a Franciscan, the Rev. Nicholas Marquez from Mexico.
"We were told later that they gave them back."
The gunmen and civilians who emerged on Friday went through metal detectors, revealing no stolen objects. (emphasis added)
Again, no widespread condemnation from the Left, and curiously, no worldwide riots by Christians.
If Rev. Terry Jones were smarter (say like Andrew Breitbart or James O'Keefe) I would wonder if he was really calling attention to the apathy (or in some cases, outright disrespect) that our cultural elite shows toward Christianity, its elements and its symbols, in contrast to the eggshells that they tiptoe over with respect to the beliefs and symbols of other religions. It doesn't matter what Jones' intentions really were though. The hypocrisy of our cultural elite has been clearly exposed for all to see.
UPDATE: (*groan*) Terry Jones "fame" is now at about 14:55 and counting, and he's running at light speed in order to stretch out that last 5 seconds as long as he can. I'll just post the link to the Hot Air roundup of latest developments; I'm through writing about this story -- "Koran-burning called off -- in exchange for moving Ground Zero mosque; UPDATE: No deal? UPDATE: Fred Phelps now planning to burn the Koran instead; UPDATE: We're not here to barter, says Rauf"