In recent news, Pastor Terry Jones, has announced that he intends to burn copies of the Quran, and of course, this has been met with furious outrage and debate on all sides of the issue. Many Christians, politicians both conservative and liberal, and of course Muslims, are agianst this act, because the symbolism of this act disrespects what millions hold as sacred.
I agree that this act is DISTASTEFUL AND MISREPRESENTS my belief in Jesus the Christ. However, in a society that is built upon rights; we have to allow distasteful arguments and symbolic acts, because freedom of speech and religion is so important to us. In 1943, in a landmark Supreme Court case in which the West Virginia Board of Education was forcing students to salute the flag, but some students did not salute because of a religious conviction that the flag was worshiping a “graven image.” The court ruled in favor of the dissenters, even during the vicious fight of WWII, and Justice Jackson reenforces the importance of allowing disent: “Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.” We do not want to degrade into the long list of tyranical states that oppress divergences in opinion.
We have a freedom in America to dissent, and this is not a reality in many parts of the world, even though, many disagree with Pastor Jones must allow his dissent to preserve the open market place of ideas, and freedom to believe in what one believes to be true. This, also, means one cannot force his religion on another.
Symbolic acts are a method to disrupt the status qou in order to bring change. An example of this is Rosa Parks simply refusing to take a seat at the back of the bus, and this launched the Montegomery Bus Boycott, and any honest historian, will have to admit that this simply act upsetted many bigoted people, but it served the greater good.
Therefore, we must ask the question, does Pastor Jones act serve the greater good?
I do not think so, because it affronts their beliefs, which turns this issue into a culture war, rather than having a coversation based on mutaul friendship and love. His act of dissent is unwise, and he should renig on his intentions, but that is his decision.
PS. I usually do not write on political issues, but felt the need on this one. thanks for reading and listening to my opinion.
The case i referred to was West Virginia v Barnetter, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)