State Dept: church Koran burning plan”un-American”

September 7, 2010

There have been lots of angry words over plans by an obscure Florida pastor to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley pulled out the biggest gun of all on Tuesday in his effort to distance the government from the pastor’s incendiary proposal — he called it “un-American.”

“We are conscious that a number of voices have come out and rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed,” Crowley told a news briefing. “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say ‘this is inconsistent with our American values.’ In fact these actions themselves are un-American.”

“Un-American” is not an epithet that trips lightly off the tongue for U.S. government spokespeople, carrying as it does the tang of the 1950’s witchhunt for alleged communist sympathizers  spearheaded by the House Un-American Activities Committee.AFGHANISTAN/

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center church in Florida presumably doesn’t think his book burning plans are un-American, at least by his definition.

Jones said he would torch copies of the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in an effort toward “exposing Islam” as a “violent and oppressive religion.”

“When do we stop backing down?…when does American stand for truth?” Jones said in an interview with CNN.

Crowley was in no mood to back down either.

He repeated warnings from officials including overall U.S. commander in Afghanistan David Petraeus that the proposed burning could undermine President Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims as well as trigger reprisals against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

And he said the proposed bonfire — while covered under U.S. First Amendment free speech rights — was nevertheless an extremely “un-American” signal to send to the rest of the world.

“We have a tremendous tradition of religious tolerance in this country….It is un-American in the sense that it does not represent the views of the vast majority of  Americans who are respectful of religions,” Crowley said.

While it may well be within someone’s rights to take this action, we believe and hope that cooler heads will prevail and other ways can be found to promote a dialogue among the world’s greatest religions which is what we’ve been trying to do.”

Pastor Jones has said he is considering the various warnings, and is praying about the event.

Crowley, meanwhile, appealed to the world’s public not to assume that any action by the tiny church, which has only about 30 members,  represented anything larger about the United States.

“People around the world need to also understand that America is not represented by one pastor or 50 followers. We are a nation of 300 million people and the vast majority of Americans are standing up this week and saying that these contemplated actions are inappropriate, they’re abhorrent, and they should not happen.”

PHOTO:  REUTERS/Marko Djurica (A U.S. Marine adjusts U.S. flag on top of his tent at a base in Afghanistan)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Did anyone ever call flag burning or putting a Crucifix in a jar of urine “unAmerican”?

Posted by Patriot1958 | Report as abusive

“Crowley, meanwhile, appealed to the world’s public not to assume that any action by the tiny church, which has only about 30 members, represented anything larger about the United States.”

If Crowley has to point that out, he is saying that the State department has no confidence that many of the world’s Muslims have the capacity for rational thought. There was no rioting over the piss Christ exhibit and Jews don’t riot over the constant denigration of Jews in the British press and streets. Yet, no government official sees the preemptively apologize to Christians and Jews because most Christians and Jews recognize a horses ass when they see one. Apparently, at the highest reaches o our government, there is no confidence the many of the world’s Muslims can discern the difference between a fool and a nation’s general population. Either the US government really thinks the Muslim world is untenebly vicious

Posted by pellam | Report as abusive

Did anyone ever call flag burning or putting a Crucifix in a jar of urine “unAmerican”?

Posted by Patriot1958

Well, yes, actually. Conservatives have attempted to pass anti-flag-burning amendments several times. It’s really just a dog whistle to get their voters to come to the polls, because that’s the best they can do.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

This reminds me of the imam priest in a mosque in the sindh province of Pakistan who was the sole survivor with the mosque and did not flee from the flood water. His comments to a jounalist; I have been living in the mosque, the house of God and lookibg after it. If God almighty wants to destroy his own house then be it and I am prepared to die”. He survived with the house of the God, Quraan is the property of God and not the property of muslims, Let Got decide what the infidels want to do with the book, read it, agree or dis agree with it or attempt to destroy it. There are always consequences for the crime whioch we commit in this world, the rest is just a distruction!
I have seen flag burning on the TV nand I have seen the on the Tv the burnings of the human written books, I have also witnessed the consequences on the TV and I have read about the crusaders onslaught against Islam and I have seen holiday films about the european kings and noblemen armies march into the holy land and I have also read about the defeats of the evil forces. I have also witnessed the world war war 2 and the consequences andf I am prepared to witness the ww3 on any pretext, so be it. Let us recognise just one principle, the world is controlled by the almighty God and it is illusary to believe that the human power can decide what is to transpire in the end.
Have a nice day, you brave warriors, unleashing anger the oapparent weak people.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive