Standing outside his 50-member Pentecostal church, the Dover Outreach Center, alongside Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Jones said he relented when Musri assured him that the New York mosque will be moved.This is a man with a tiny church, who never should have caught our attention. God knows why the President of the United States started talking about him:
Jones had never invoked the mosque controversy as a reason for his planned protest. He cited his belief that the Quran is evil because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.
But he said Thursday that that he prayed about the decision and concluded that if the mosque was moved, it would be a sign from God to call off the Quran burning....
"We are canceling the event because we have agreed, I take him at his word, he has agreed to move the Ground Zero mosque," Jones said. "I verified that three or four times with witnesses. I trust that man who gave me that. I believe he is a man of integrity, a man of his word, I do not believe that he lied to me."
Jones said that if the mosque is not moved, "then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion. I think that would be very pitiful. I do not expect that."
OBAMA: If he's listening, I just hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values of Americans. That this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance.
And as a very practical matter, as commander of chief of the Armed Forces of the United States I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We're already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat...that he's making.Oh, lord. There's so much wrong with that! And yet our President, unlike Mr. Jones, is supposedly very, very smart. For one thing, Obama eventually gets around to Jones's freedom of expression, but that treasured right is presented as an obstacle that the President has got to put up with, because it is, technically, law. Why isn't it one of the "values of Americans" like "religious freedom and religious tolerance"? But, no, in Obama's view, the symbolic speech of burning a book because you think it's evil is "completely contrary to our values of Americans."
… this is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You know, you could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities. You know and so you know, I just hope that, he says he's … he's someone who's motivated by his faith....
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wonder what this must feel like from behind your desk. You're President of the United States. You have to deal with the fallout. And he's a pastor who's got 30 followers in his church. Does it make you feel helpless or angry?
OBAMA: It, well it is frustrating. Now, on the other hand, we are a government of laws. And so, we have to abide by those laws. And my understanding is that he can be cited for public burning. But that's the extent of the laws that we have available to us. You know, part of this country's history is people doing destructive or offensive or harmful things. And yet, we still have to make sure that we're following the laws. And that's part of what I love about this country.
So: the values of "religious freedom and religious tolerance" are what really matters... except that Jones's opinion is religious. If the point is that Jones has the right to burn the book, but he should refrain from exercising it and be sensitive to the feelings of others, then Obama is contradicting the approach he took to the close-to-Ground-Zero mosque, which is that the overwhelmingly important matter is that there is a right to build the mosque and he really doesn't want to talk about whether it's a good idea.
You know, a key religious freedom value is that government must not treat different religions differently. But Obama takes one attitude toward the NYC Muslims and another toward the Florida Christian. With respect to the former, he highlighted the right and wouldn't express an opinion about how that right should be exercised. With the later, he begrudgingly acknowledged the right after stressing the importance of the individual's restraint and sensitivity toward others.
Now, you might jump to say that Obama thus favored Muslims over Christians, but think about how it's actually the other way around. Without hesitation, he called upon the Christian to exercise forbearance and to care for the feelings of others. He didn't dare say that to Muslims. And he talked about Muslims as if they are incapable of understanding a society based on individual liberty and freedom of expression. Obama propounds the stereotype of irrational Muslims who resort to acts of violence when they don't like what people are saying.
Ironically, Rev. Jones wanted to burn the Koran because it seemed to him that it "incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims." And Obama wanted Jones to refrain from burning the Koran because it would incite radical, violent behavior among Muslims.