Florida Pastor 'Seriously Considering' Not Burning Qurans

A Gainesville, Fla. pastor says that he is "seriously considering" calling off his planned "International Burn-A-Quran Day" on the ninth anniversary of September 11th this Saturday but has not yet made a final decision.

Jones announced on Thursday that he was going to halt the planned burning after Florida imam Mohammad Musri promised to arrange for the relocation of a proposed 13-story Islamic center near the former World Trade Center in New York City.

Musri has said that he did schedule a meeting between Jones and NYC center developer Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf but had never promised that the center would be moved.

Jones has since made conflicting statements about the proposed burning, last telling reporters that he wasn't prepared to give a definitive answer on his church's plans.

Jones, who pastors a congregation of about 50 at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, has gained international attention for planning to burn hundreds of copies of the Quran on this year's 9/11 anniversary.

The pastor has said that his intention is to send a, "very clear, radical message to Muslims, to Sharia law, that that is not welcome in America."

The planned demonstration has received a firestorm of criticism from political and religious leaders, including Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono, U.S. President Barack Obama, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Williams said on Thursday that the threat to desecrate scriptures is "deeply deplorable and to be strongly condemned by all people."

"These are challenges that we must respond to with a consistent message: that we oppose collectively all such provocations and insist that there is no place in our traditions for violent response," he said.

National Council of Churches (NCC) Associate General Secretary Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos explained that Jones' plans are particularly provocative because Muslims believe that the Quran itself is the divine Word of God, whereas for Christians, Jesus Christ is the true Word of God and the Bible is the written record of Christ's identity.

Kireopolous said that this is the reason why the Quran takes an "absolutely privileged and passionately defended place in Muslim hearts and minds" and why the planned demonstration would be seen by Muslims as "nothing other than an attack on the ultimate divine revelation."

"It would not be simply an attack on a book, albeit a book considered sacred by 1 billion people, but an affront to the very God that is worshiped by those 1 billion people," he said.

Kireopolous further noted that such a demonstration could elicit violent responses in the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere where "countless Christians may yet again suffer lethal violence at the hands of extremist Muslims for no reason other than the theological shortcomings of an extremist Christian in the United States."

"That is a great price to pay for ignorance, Rev. Jones," he added.

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