Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Did you sign the "Don't burn the Quran" petition? I did

Message from the petition author, Citizens of Gainesville Florida and Supporters of Religious Freedom everywhere:

This petition was signed by more than 8,400 people from 97 different countries and all 50 US States. As I am sure you know by now, Korans were NOT burned in Gainesville, Florida on 9/11. You played a part in this outcome by signing this petition which was delivered to Pastor Jones the morning of 9/10.

Those of you who are from places around the world will be pleased to know that this petition was just one of many actions that the citizens of Gainesville took to protest and counteract the terrible plans of this one small church. For a solid week there were public events protesting the planned burning, and the Mayor declared September 11th "Interfaith Solidarity Day". During the entire week, churches, synagogues, and Muslim places of worship held interfaith services. On Friday night, 9/10, one of Gainesville's largest churches held a standing room only gathering where clergy of all faiths stressed the common ground shared by different religions. Numerous Imams read from the Koran that night, which for many Americans was their first exposure to Islam's holy book. This was just one of many gatherings where the Koran was shown respect in the face of the planned disrespect by a handful of people.

But there was another, unanticipated message that came from this petition - the comments. The vast majority of you took the time to express what you would say if you could talk directly to this pastor. You are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and non-believers from 97 different countries who took the opportunity to make your voices heard. If you took the time to read every comment, as we did, something would change deep inside of you. What you would hear is that there is a common thread that passes between all of us. Though we are from all over the world, Kansas to Pakistan, Canada to Malaysia, we somehow speak a universal language. Given your right to speak, almost all of you chose the same words: Love, Peace, Respect, and Caring. It was as though something this wrong touched a common place in all of our hearts. Indeed, something very great happened here - we stood up for each other. The man who wrote that he bathes before touching the Koran, and kisses it as he
turns its pages - he called out for help from total strangers across the seas. He got that help - not because of a book, but because of a deep sense of caring for him and respect for his beliefs.

You walk away from all this with a sense of hope. Perhaps if we really feel this way deep in our hearts, we can learn to live together in peace despite our differences. We in Gainesville, Fl, a town that exemplifies openness and respect, thank each and every one of you for your support in this matter and for the ray of hope you have revealed.

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