A Simple Observation about Terry Jones

I was sitting on an airplane yesterday reading an actual dead tree edition of the NYT (yes, I know, how quaint) and I read the piece on Terry Jones of Koran-burning fame:  Koran-Burning Pastor Unrepentant in Face of Furor.

From the story:

“It was intended to stir the pot; if you don’t shake the boat, everyone will stay in their complacency,” Mr. Jones said in an interview at his office in the Dove World Outreach Center. “Emotionally, it’s not all that easy. People have tried to make us responsible for the people who are killed. It’s unfair and somewhat damaging.”

This made me think of the following passage from Matthew 5:9:  “Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.”  Indeed, on balance it is difficult to look at Jones and think “Christ-like.”

As such, perhaps Mr. Jones ought to spent a bit more time reading his own holy book and not burning that of others.

Is Jones responsible for those who reacted with violence in Afghanistan?  No.  But he an hardly claim the mantle of “peacemaker.”

FILED UNDER: Religion, US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. john personna says:

    Jones intended a stirred pot, and got a stirred pot, but again we should play dumb to cause and effect.

  2. Vast Variety says:

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

  3. PD Shaw says:

    “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
    — Jesus

  4. TG Chicago says:

    To piggyback on john personna: Jones purposely intended to stir the pot. Yet the claim is that he has no moral responsibility whatsoever for stirring the pot. This is incredibly dense.

    If you desire a violent reaction and you undertake a highly provocative act which causes the violent reaction you desire, how can you be morally pure?

    This post is further proof that Joyner’s posts about sports jerseys and cleavage were utterly missing the point. Did the away team’s fans or the woman in the low-cut blouse intend to “stir the pot” and “shake the boat”? Were they warned by the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Speaker of the House, and a host of other political, military, and religious figures that their actions would be harmful to innocent people? No, they were not.

    When you stir the pot and people get killed — and you were fully aware that you were setting off that chain of events — you absolutely have moral culpability.

  5. @PD:

    That passage has absolutely nothing to do with deliberating provoking someone for the sake of provocation.

    Or am I misinterpreting your point?

    (Indeed, I am unclear on the point).

  6. Drew says:

    Shorter: A nut job provoked nut jobs.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    I’m simply stirring the pot; trying to shake people out of their complacency

  8. Scott says:

    Seems clear to me, the bible encourages peace and it doesn’t. Pick whichever suits your ideology.

  9. Herb says:

    “I’m simply stirring the pot”

    I think it’s safe to say that despite hearing a lot about that Voltaire quote about disagreeing but defending, that a lot of folks doing the defending don’t really disagree…..

  10. PD Shaw says:

    Herb: I’ve repeatedly defended Muslims against the accusation that it would be predictible for them to react to this controversy by going out and beheading innocent people. The percentages favor me. It’s the other side that disagrees.

  11. TG Chicago says:

    I’ve repeatedly defended Muslims against the accusation that it would be predictible for them to react to this controversy by going out and beheading innocent people.

    Who has said that “Muslims” would react violently?

    You made this preposterous claim in another thread and I answered it.

    If you want to chastise people for believing that Jones’ act would likely provoke violence amongst a small subset of radical Islamists, then you must chastise a whole host of people who predicted it, including the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Speaker of the House, and many other military, political, and religious figures.

    And you’d have to chastise them for being correct.

  12. Herb says:

    “It’s the other side that disagrees.”

    See….that’s what’s confusing me. What’s all this about sides? Trying to squeeze this into a right versus left box just doesn’t seem like it’s going to work.

    There’s nothing conservative, helpful, or admirable about burning holy books or trying to incite a riot. Period. So I’m not going to be one of those observers with low-expectations clapping my hands and cooing in babytalk, “Oooh, lookey, baby used his first amendment rights. Just wook at him go.”

    I recognize that just because we have free speech doesn’t render all speech of the same quality. There’s helpful speech, and there’s unhelpful speech. Though people are free to do the latter, they’ll get no high fives from me……

  13. PD Shaw says:

    Herb: “What’s all this about sides? Trying to squeeze this into a right versus left box just doesn’t seem like it’s going to work.”

    That’s true. My side doesn’t believe Terry Jones is responsible at all for murder.

    I felt the same way about the Meese Report in the 80s that sought to blame pornography for inciting men to rape and abuse women.

    I think you can blame Jones and pornography for things like coursening the culture, but anything else is a denial of moral agency and in my book immoral.

  14. anjin-san says:

    While Jones is busy whining about how unfair and hurtful the fallout is, Gen Petraeus talks about how Jones actions have damaged the war effort.

    KABUL—The Quran burning by a Florida church, which sparked three days of deadly rioting in Afghanistan, poses new dangers for the U.S.-led war effort against the Taliban, coalition commander U.S. Gen. David Petraeus warned in an interview.


  15. Herb says:

    “My side doesn’t believe Terry Jones is responsible at all for murder.”

    Like I said, such low expectations…..once Terry Jones is actually accused of murder, not by some “leftist” in a comment thread or by some guy speaking in sound bites to a reporter, but by a prosecutor who is trying him with a crime, then “your side” can go full hog defending Jones from the murder charges.

    The bottom line is that “your side” is defending Terry Jones for doing something stupid. And hey, everyone’s got a right to be stupid……..but like I said, no high fives for exercising that right.

  16. PD Shaw says:

    There tons of people commenting here at OTB that hold Jones responsible “in part” for what happened. I’m not going to sift through several days of threads to locate them, but john personna is one and he’s not a Leftist.

    BTW/ Sorry TG Chicago, I missed your earlier response; too many related threads for me to follow.

  17. Herb says:

    “hold Jones responsible “in part” for what happened”

    Yeah, well, that’s not exactly unreasonable considering that people are rioting over Jones’s little stunt.

    Let me clear, I don’t think Jones is guilty of anything criminal at all. He’s just guilty of being stupid and disrespectful.

    Oh, and PS…….I don’t want to hear any Christians getting the vapors over “Happy Holidays” later this year. Free speech and all that.