Last week, Newt Gingrich suggested that Americans were being wusses for practicing religious tolerance while the Saudi Arabias of the world play hardball with other faith traditions. Maybe this is more what he had in mind. A conservative church in Florida is organizing “Burn a Qu’ran Day” to commemorate September 11, which happens to fall during Ramadan this year. Leaders at the Dove World Outreach Center say Islam is a “violent and oppressive religion,” and in their own nod toward religious tolerance, they have invited Muslims to attend the Qu’ran-burning event to engage in dialogue.
Not surprisingly, a few people are upset about the planned lighting-up-of-holy-books party, including other conservative Christians. Yesterday the National Association of Evangelicals called on the Dove Center to cancel the event. President Leith Anderson warned, “It sounds like the proposed Qu’ran burning is rooted in revenge” and reminded his fellow Christians of the New Testament admonition to “make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong.” While statements attacking Islam have split Christians in the past, the speed with which the NAE moved to condemn the Dove Center’s plans is a sign that some conservative Christians are becoming more willing to police each other publicly.