An Open Letter to the News Media Covering the Quran Burning Church and the TV Owners Who Watch Them

Posted: September 9, 2010 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church
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By Matt Horan

Let’s be really honest for a moment.  We all know that this Saturday is the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which resulted in war in Afghanistan and Iraq, which resulted in bombings in Spain and Britain, and so on.  Estimates put the total resulting loss of life from the events of that date at over 100,000 people from dozens of nations.  There have been economic, social, and spiritual repercussions for the entire world.  No nation has been spared.

But it has been good TV.

[I feel that the free press is the world’s greatest hope for freedom.  Those who would oppress and destroy and dehumanize their opponents in order to retain power must plot and plan in secret.  Therefore the press’ work to bring such evil and corruption to light keeps humanity’s temptation to sacrifice morality for ambition in check.  The world needs a free press desperately.  The more access it has, the better.]

This Saturday, when we all remember where we were and who we were with and what we were doing on that day in 2001, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, Terry Jones, with a membership of a few dozen, plans to burn copies of the Quran.  Before he announced this, he was known for local news stories about his abuse of his tax-exempt status as a church and for the church’s children being sent to school wearing t-shirts with anti-Muslim slogans on them, but now he’s world-famous.  This is a small organization on the fringe of sanity (consider the rules for their “academy.”)

But they are  good TV.

The news media has made them into a major news story.  A borderline sociopathic group of 50 or so has been given a megaphone to the world because they are a hateful and instigating spectacle that will drive Neilsen ratings.  They have gotten so much attention from global news outlets that now terrorist groups are planning retaliation, and leaders from army generals to the secretary of state to the President himself have had to make statements about it.  Let’s be honest–this pastor and this group are not worth taking seriously, but in the interest of being able to charge more for advertising time, they’ve been made into a global flashpoint.  They are not a legitimate news story, but they are good TV, so the satellite trucks are jockeying for position around the church, hoping to catch some video footage that’ll make a good teaser so that we’ll all tune in for film at 11:00.

So, to the news media camped out in Gainesville, please turn off your cameras and take back the megaphone you’ve given them.  Let there be no footage at all of this hateful act to make them more than they are, and to put people of all nationalities around the world in danger of retaliatory attacks.  Terry Jones is entitled to free speech.  But he isn’t entitled to injure the whole world with his speech.  Only you can let him do that.

And to those who have the means to watch coverage of this Quran burning on TV, I ask you to turn it off.  Write letters to the editor and emails to news stations.  Let them know that you will not be watching if they air footage of this hate-filled act.  News outlets only put things like this on TV because we’re so likely to watch it.


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