- (Photo: AP Images / Phil Sandlin)
A never before aired exclusive interview with extremist Christian pastor Terry Jones was released Tuesday by DoersTV.com.
Hoping to convey the true thoughts and motives behind the Florida pastor’s controversial Quran burning, which sparked several protests and killings in Afghanistan in retaliation, DoersTV.com CEO Pastor David Wright published the unedited raw footage on his website.
“Even though this interview takes place before the Quran burning, I thought it would be in the best interest of the world at large to know how Pastor Terry Jones thinks and reasons,” expressed Wright.
“I truly believe that once the media airs this interview it will show all people, Muslims and Christians, the true motive behind Pastor Jones’ actions and people will make up their own minds in how to judge his actions and words. Hopefully this raw footage will in some way help to put an end to the violence based on one pastor’s actions.”
The interview touched upon several aspects of the fundamentalist, including his supposed hatred of Muslims, view of Christian pastors, and desire to liberate persecuted Christians.
Clarifying first his view on Muslims, Jones stated that he and his fellow congregants tried in almost every interview to emphasize the fact that their message was towards the radical Muslim – the radical element of Islam they believed was much larger than the government liked for people to believe.
“We believe that Muslims in America need to be willing to obey, submit, and respect the constitution of the United States … Our message is not against the Muslim or against the modern Muslim. Our message though is clearly against that element that will try to replace [and] add to our constitution with the Sharia Law.”
Recognizing that though Muslims equally had the right to practice their own religion, just as he had the right to practice his own in America, Jones still wanted to warn the society, government, Christians, and perhaps even unbelievers about the “real true nature of the religion.”
What started off as a front yard sign that was meant to draw attention to the religion, escalated into The International Burn The Quran Day and recently the actual burning of the book after it was found “guilty” of inciting murder, rape and terrorist activities in a mock trial hosted at his church in Gainesville.
So what about the Quran did Jones find dangerous to Christians – dangerous enough to burn it?
Declaring that the Quran was “of the devil,” Jones stated, “No matter how nice you put it, we as Christians believe there’s only one way … There’s only one true religion [and] there’s only one true word of God. Jesus said very clearly he is the way, the truth and the life … In that aspect, we must share with the Muslims that Islam is the wrong way. Any religion that leads you to hell instead of to Jesus Christ and to heaven and to salvation, forgiveness of sins, blood atonement is of the devil.”
Calling other Christians and pastors “cowards” because they did not rally with him, he confessed, “I can understand if somebody said that the burning of the Quran is ‘too much for me’ … I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”
“But the Christians … should have said ‘okay, we’re not really for the burning, but what he’s saying [that] Islam is evil, Sharia Law is wrong, radical Islam is wrong,’ they should have stood with us but they just didn’t have any guts.”
Moussa Bongoyok, assistant professor of Intercultural Studies at Biola University, told The Christian Post that though he agrees that Jesus is the only way to salvation, Jesus did not send Christians to hate other people or attack them.
“Rather he’s sending us peacefully with the message of peace, with the good news, with a message of love, and that is why we can still proclaim that Jesus is the only way without using a language that sends different signals to Muslims around the world,” Bongoyok noted to CP.
When asked to comment if Islam was evil as Pastor Jones claimed it was, Bongoyok said, “I don’t look at religion because when we look at religions … all the religions are actually far from serving humanity, including Christianity. That’s why Jesus is the way, not religion.”
“We’re not saved through Christianity, but through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having said this, all humans are sinners. It doesn’t matter the religion they practice – we are all sinners. That is why we need Jesus,” added the Biola professor.
Like Bongoyok, Jones did see that Christianity as a religion was lost to a certain extent. But not in the way the professor explained.
“We’re doing this because God told us to do it,” Jones asserted. “I don’t know if a lot of pastors preach because God’s told them to. I think they preach messages to their congregation that they know their congregation will like, won’t make them mad but will be acceptable.”
“We don’t desire to make Gainesville mad. It’s not pleasant to live in a community where perhaps a lot of the population doesn’t like you. But we still felt that this message is very important and that God has told us to do it so we’re going to continue on.”
The first attempt at burning the Quran in an effort to honor and commemorate those who died on 9/11 and protest the proposed mosque at Ground Zero was derailed by many prominent U.S. officials, including the President, Defense Secretary, and Secretary of State, who advised against it.
“We actually felt in prayer that God told us not to do it. We felt like God gave us the example of Abraham. What Christians forget is that God also does radical things. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Now that’s much more radical than burning a book.”
“The question would be, the state of Christianity today, the state of churches today, the state of pastors today, could we even hear a word like that? Abraham did, Abraham heard that word, he was going to do it, and at the last minute God stopped him. And we felt that at the last minute God stopped us.”
But Professor Bongoyok told CP that Christians don’t need to have extra prayer to know what God’s will is. “God’s will is clear in the Bible. When we have clear teachings from the Bible calling us to know those who persecute us, to love our enemies, to pray for them, to bless them and to leave vengeance to God, I think that is clear enough.”
Disagreeing with the Florida pastor’s recent decision to go through with the burning, Bongoyok stated, “Burning the Quran is just sending a message of hatred when we know that the Quran is highly respected in Islam to the point that they handle it with care and a lot of respect.”
Jones who took the burning as more of a symbolic act, justified himself by deeming his extremist methods as more of an “Old Testament prophetic warning.” He wanted to expose the dangerous elements of Islam and make people confront the religion.
Bongoyok, however, found that relating one’s actions to the Old Testament was rather strange. “We are no longer under the law as Christians, we are under grace. So we cannot abide by the Old Testament; … Jesus is the accomplishment of the law, so as Christians, I don’t think that is the right way to go back to the Old Testament.”
Respecting the fact that Christians do in fact need to speak up, Bongoyok admitted that believers must not ignore what is going on in the world. But he revealed that there was a better way to do it and it was not by burning the Quran.
Though Jones’ actions seem to continually affirm to the world that he is against Muslims, the interview made clear that he did not hate them. “When we speak out on other subjects like abortion, homosexuality, we don’t hate people who get abortions. We believe it’s clearly wrong … we must speak out against it, [but] we must point people in the right direction,” he said.
“We try to love everyone in the general sense. We want to lead them to Jesus. It’s not the normal Christian way to do things … but it is a way.”
Using the recent publicity also as a platform to open up religious freedom in other Muslim nations, Jones desired to put more pressure on the United Nations to act.
Working with an Arab television station for six hours each week in Los Angeles, Jones’ church receives hundreds of calls from people in Egypt and the Middle East who look to them to influence the United States government to open up the doors for freedom of speech and freedom of religion in their country.
“Freedom of speech and freedom of religion – that’s not really an American thing. That’s just human rights. You should be able to, as an individual, worship as you please, build a church as you please, without the fear of being killed,” Jones disclosed.
“Most Christians don’t realize how persecuted the church is … they don’t realize some of the impact that Islam Sharia Law has upon the world and upon Christians around the world. I feel that as a Christian, as an American, that it’s somewhat of our obligation to stand up for those who actually can’t stand up for themselves.”
According to the latest U.S. State Department report on religious freedom, the Christian community in Afghanistan is estimated to number anywhere from 500 to 8,000. Afghanistan is listed by watchdog Open Doors as the third worst persecutor of Christians in the world, behind North Korea and Iran.
Though it appeared that Jones genuinely desired to bring about freedom of religion and speech for his persecuted brethren, as of now, the repercussions of his actions and the actions of many in his small congregation seem to be doing just the opposite.
Since Friday, at least 21 people have died as protests became violent in Afghanistan. Angry demonstrators have demanded that Jones be brought to trial for burning Islam’s holy book.