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Originally published Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 4:08 PM

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The Gainesville idiot

The Gainesville, Fla., minister promoting the burning of Islam's holy book on Sept. 11 is an embarrassment to his own Christian faith.

WE do indeed live in a strange 24/7, interconnected global news cycle when a goofball in Gainesville, Fla., becomes a de facto spokesman for Christian values and the American way of life.

How many people will die in the name of the Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center? His odious plan to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 have serious people suggesting that is a relevant question. Law enforcement and diplomats are cringing over this combustible moment.

Most Americans would agree he has a basic right to express his hateful views. The rest of us have an equal and robust right to ignore him. He is an embarrassment. Why on God's earth is anyone paying attention?

Jones' ignorant display does have one salutary effect. He is a fetid example of his own indictment of others: the grotesque distortion of a religious creed for selfish, hateful purposes. In his loathing of Muslims, Jones humiliates Christians and demeans their beliefs in the eyes of the world.

Where in his faith and its teachings does this Christian outlier find the motivation and divine calling to fuel hatred for others?

What is the great commandment of the Christian faith? Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second? Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. Two thousand years of religious instruction rest on those commandments.

If Jones wants to be a beacon instead of a bozo, why doesn't this clown organize an interfaith group to feed the poor, build housing and help sustain families of all faiths through this economic crisis?

A lot less pyrotechnic, a lot more work, and a lot more grounded in the faith he professes as he preaches hatred.

Willful perversion of religious values is a bane on all faiths. The man is an idiot. Ignore his self-absorbed piety. And pray for him.

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