- (Photo: YouTube/Stand Up America Now)
Terry Jones, the controversial Christian pastor known for burning Qurans in protests against "radical Islam," is currently being investigated by the FBI for hanging an effigy of President Barack Obama last week outside his Dove Outreach Center church in Gainesville, Fla.
"The Secret Service is aware of this incident and will conduct appropriate follow-up," FBI spokesman Brian Leary told the Broward-Palm Beach New Times' blog, The Pulp.
The investigation into the effigy-hanging was apparently launched after Jones released a press release titled "Terry Jones on Obama: Hang 'Em High," which featured a YouTube video showing the Obama effigy, as well as an Uncle Sam effigy, hanging in front of the Dove Outreach Center.
The effigies are accompanied by rainbow flags and a toy baby doll, while behind them a banner hanging on a trailer reads "Obama is Killing America."
In the video, released June 6, Jones says, "President Obama is killing our nation. We have hung Uncle Sam to represent that. President Obama is lying to our nation."
He adds, "That is why we have now chosen the hanging of Hussein Obama to represent how the American people must, in a peaceful way, stand up and reject President Obama, reject his anti-American policies. It is time for us to stand up."
Along with accusing President Obama of increasing the national deficit and not bringing the troops home, Jones also said one reason for hanging the effigy was due to President Obama's recent support of same-sex marriage as well as his views on abortion, represented by the baby doll.
Jones also accused Obama of the "appeasing of radical Islam," which included accusations of donating money to Egypt's Islamic political party the Muslim Brotherhood.
This latest political protest is a part of Jones' "Stand up America Now!" campaign, in which he seeks to regain what he sees as the correct standard of American living and morals.
Jones, who led Dove Outreach Cener as senior pastor from 2001 to 2011, has previously attracted attention for his burnings of the Quran, the Islamic holy book.
In July 2010, Jones threatened to burn 200 Qurans on the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. He deemed the controversial event "International Burn a Koran Day."
Although the minister canceled the event, his threat to burn the Muslim holy books reportedly sparked riots in the Middle East and Asia.
Another event in 2011 caused even more concern when Jones held the "trial of the Quran" on March 20 inside his church. The minister burned the Islamic book inside Dove World Outreach Center, prompting massive riots in Northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Shairf. Protesters attacked the United Nations Assistance Mission, reportedly killing 10 U.N. staff members.
More recently, Jones burned a Quran in protest of Iran's imprisonment of evangelical Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has remained imprisoned for his faith since Oct. 2009.
The Quran burning did not grab international attention. However, Jones' action drew condemnation from others in the Christian community, many of whom argued that burning Qurans does not help Christian-Muslim relations.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which has been following Youcef Nadarkhani's case, previously told The Christian Post that Jones' actions are ultimately ineffective.
"We do not support tactics that desecrate or destroy any religious objects. Such a move is not only ill-advised, but reflects a troubling tactic that will do nothing to secure the release of the pastor (Nadarkhani)," the ACLJ said.
Nadarkhani himself called Jones' actions "insulting" and harmful for his case.
Jones, on his "Stand Up for America Now!" platform, is also running for president in the 2012 elections as a "fill in candidate."