Kansas-Based Westboro Baptist Church, Which Has Drawn Much Controversy (and Lawsuits) Over Its Rabidly Homophobic Protests at Funerals of American Soldiers Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Says it Will Burn Copies of Muslim Holy Book if 'Sissy Brats of Doomed America' Persuade Jones into Calling Off His Planned Burning on 9/11 Anniversary, Which Is on Hold -- For Now
(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Saturday, September 11, 2010)
(Updated 12:00 noon EDT Saturday, September 11, 2010)
By SKEETER SANDERS
A rabidly anti-gay Kansas-based cult -- which has drawn nationwide outrage for staging protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- has vowed to burn copies of the Koran, now that the pastor of a fundamentalist church in Florida has put on hold his planned burning of the Muslim holy book that was scheduled for today (Saturday), the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In a press release posted Friday on its Web site, GodHatesFags.com, the Westboro Baptist Church announced that it will "burn the Koran and the doomed American flag" at noon local time today (1:00 p.m. EDT) at its headquarters in Topeka.
The cult branded Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida a "false prophet" who allowed himself to be "bullied by sissy, intolerant rebels worldwide into cancelling plans to burn that blasphemous idol called the Koran."
BULLETIN -- PASTOR JONES NOW SAYS HE'LL 'NEVER' BURN KORANS
NEW YORK -- The Florida pastor at the center of a raging controversy over a planned burning of the Koran declared Saturday that his church will not burn the Muslim holy book, "not today, not ever" -- even if an equally controversial Islamic cultural center and mosque is built near Ground Zero.
In an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville said that his goal all along was "to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical" and that by announcing that his church would burn copies of the Koran, "we have definitely accomplished that mission."
FLORIDA PASTOR BACKS OFF AMID DIRE WARNINGS OF NEW WAVE OF TERROR ATTACKS
Amid worldwide outrage from Muslims and threats of violence, Jones announced Thursday that he was putting on hold his plans to burn copies of the Muslim holy book after receiving a telephone call from Defense Secretary William Gates, who, according to press reports, warned him that he and his followers would put the lives of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in "grave jeopardy" and urged him not to carry out his plans.
Meanwhile, the international police agency Interpol and the U.S. State Department issued warnings that terrorist attacks would likely increase around the world if the Koran burning went ahead.
Jones told reporters at a Thursday press conference that his decision not to carry out his planned Koran burning was prompted by assurances from a local Muslim imam that a controversial Islamic cultural center and mosque to be built two block away from Ground Zero -- where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by al-Qaida terrorists -- would be moved to s site farther away.
But in New York, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who purchased the property last December on which the proposed center would be built, denied any such agreement. "I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Korans," Feisal said in a statement. "However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones or to Imam Musri [of Florida]. I am surprised by their announcement. We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony."
EXTREMELY HOMOPHOBIC WESTBORO UNLIKELY TO BE PERSUADED TO BACK DOWN
Unlike Pastor Jones, however, the Phelps clan at Westboro is unlikely to be persuaded to back down form its threat to burn Korans. In fact, the cult has burned the Muslim holy book before, in 2008. But at that time, their book-burning drew almost no media notice.
Westboro's absolute hatred of homosexuality is what drives its highly controversial actions. It has drawn nationwide outrage for its protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and is the defendant in a harassment lawsuit by the father of a soldier killed in Iraq that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. The justices will hear arguments in the case when the high court begins its 2010-2011 term next month.
Westboro's extreme homophobia is what also drives its hatred of Muslims. It openly accuses the Prophet Mohammed -- without a shred of proof -- of being a pedophile. In its announcement of its planned Koran burning today, the cult employs highly inflammatory language against not only Muslims, but also Catholics. "Like priests-rape-boys Catholicism, Islam is just another false religious system with a pedophile as its prophet," the Westboro statement says. "You're not supposed to be finding common ground with idolatrous perverts, but throwing down their altars, as God instructed!"
State and federal laws have been passed to keep Westboro picketers hundreds of feet away from the military funerals. But the cult is highly litigious: Shirley Phelps-Roper, the eldest daughter of pastor Fred Phelps, is an attorney and has filed numerous lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of those laws. She's also countersued the plaintiff in the case now pending before the Supreme Court.
The cult was expelled in 1991 from the conservative Southern Baptist Convention in part for its extremist interpretations of the Bible and for its membership being exclusively of the Phelps family.
"We share concern over the unbiblical views and offensive tactics of Fred Phelps and his followers," the SBC said in a statement posted on its Web site. "His church is not in any way affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and his extreme position not only stands in contrast to ours, more importantly they stand in contrast to God's Word. . ."
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Copyright 2010, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.