Bullies for Christ

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Amazing. In the name of Jesus Christ, a pastor of a small Christian church with 50 congregants threatens to do something deeply, gut-wrenchingly offensive to 1.2 billion Muslims. For weeks he promises to burn what 1.2 billion people see as God's word revealed to Muhammad, as controversy flares around the location of another place of worship, this one for Muslims in New York City.

The result: The pastor, using his "bully" pulpit, wins. Now Lower Manhattan will not have a Muslim equivalent of a YMCA because a disciple of Christ--and I use that term loosely here--threatened to set the world on fire by lighting up the Qur'an during one of the holiest times of the Muslim year, the end of Ramadan. The location change for Park51 is as yet unconfirmed. Bloomberg is reporting that Donald Trump has offered to purchase the property at a 25 percent premium on the purchase price. And the Park51 imam has released a statement that he will not bargain over the location, which contradicts Terry Jones' statement cancelling the book burning. The plot thickens.

Welcome to America. The New York imam may be remembered as a reasonable man, maybe even holy, but the precedent is set: Threaten violence, or threaten to provoke violence, and you will get your way. Be a bully in the name of Christ.

No matter what the final outcome, Terry Jones' behavior of these past months is utterly unworthy of any follower of Jesus. Indeed, it is a scandal, a stumbling block, a millstone. As a Christian and a Catholic, I denounce what he has done, I reject the fear he has fostered, and I hope Christians everywhere will do the same. You cannot behave like a bully and claim a place among the baptized.


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