ENGLAND: Planned Quran burning 'deeply deplorable,' archbishop of Canterbury says

September 9, 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has spoken out against a Florida-based evangelical Christian pastor's plan to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, calling it a "deeply deplorable" act that should be "strongly condemned by all people." Williams said that threats by Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida, to desecrate Quranic scriptures "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." High-ranking church and governmental leaders have warned that Jones' actions could have grave consequences for U.S. national security and for Christians throughout the world if he proceeds with what he is calling "International Burn a Koran Day" on Sept. 11 -- the anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Williams' Sept. 9 statement was made in his annual greeting to Muslim communities for the festival of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. The time of Ramadan, Williams said, "is for many an occasion for renewal of the spiritual life and for the service of humanity. These times of fasting, prayer and reflection which are at the heart of the religious life, can provide a positive stimulus to generosity in relationships both with our fellow believers and also with people of other religions. I hope that the spiritual fruits of Ramadan will be shared around the world as we continue to face many complex and difficult matters together." The archbishop's greeting "celebrates the many positive examples of Christian-Muslim encounter, including collaborative relief work in response to the recent flooding in Pakistan," a Lambeth Palace press release noted. The full text of Williams' statement is available here. The bishops of the Church of Ireland on Sept. 9 also joined their voices to the widespread international condemnation of Jones' plan to burn copies of the Quran. "This deliberate desecration of scriptures sacred to all Muslims is a gratuitous act of sectarianism and totally contrary to the Christian spirit of love and reconciliation," the bishops said in a statement. "We recognize that the pain of this outrage will be felt by members of Islamic communities throughout the world."