Reginald Beaufort opened the monthly meeting of the Church Oversight of Ministry Impact Committee (C.O.M.I.C.) with his usual aplomb. Reginald Beaufort’s history in the church founded by his great-great grandmother was well known by everyone who wasn’t suffering from severe tinnitus or profound deafness. Fellow Brothers & Sisters of faith in the Omnipotent, Omniscient & Inerrant Father God, welcome to this historic meeting. Reginald loved large words and imbued a measure of historical importance to each and every meeting. After an extensive reading of the prior meeting’s minutes and the requisite vote he called on his aunt Regina B. V. Cocoletti (she went off the reservation by marrying an Italian exchange student who, sadly, disappeared mysteriously soon after the wedding. Gossip emanating from the Ladies of Lydia Sunday School class suggests he left with a troupe of Roma Gypsies that had camped outside of town that summer). Regina went on to marry a successful taxidermist who, sadly, died in a freak taxidermy accident (everyone thought the bear was dead). His name was Venison, hence the V, but Regina felt that Venison reminded her of deer and deer reminded her of taxidermy, and taxidermy reminded her of…so she shifted back to Cocoletti and placed the V before the C, which reminded her of her favorite rule of spelling.
Regina B. V. Cocoletti read the one item of business : Any ideas for the annual festival? Alice Roberts raised her hand and was acknowledged: I propose we burn that Muslim book and invite the whole town to take part. Alice was a dedicated viewer of cable news shows, especially the Christian news shows on the Jehovah Channel. She especially liked the show with the husband and wife preachers (actually he styled himself as a prophet and his wife as a prophetess), and despite her gnawing feeling that it cost large amounts of money to buy that much make-up and hair spray, she nonetheless sent them a check for $99.00 every month. In return for her consistency she had received a rock from the Holy Land that Jesus might have trod upon, and a prayer rag that was guaranteed to wipe away the deepest stain from a guilty conscience or a cotton shirt. It was the preacher/prophet that gave her the inspiration for the book burning. Regina spoke up first; Do you think that would teach those heathens a lesson? I do, replied Alice. My pastor, well I mean my T.V. pastor, said that the only way to fight the hell fire of Mohammadism is with fire! Alice stood up and shouted, To Hell Fire I Condemn the Koran, Book of the Devil! Unable to stop herself Regina leapt up as well. When she saw that none of the others had moved she sat down in a fluid hurry. Recovering from her unbridled move of vertical support she asked, do we even have a Koran to burn?
The Reverend Martin Barclay, Senior Pastor and sometimes zookeeper of exotic Christians stood to his feet and walked to the front of the room. He addressed the group: With all due respect and love, this idea is up there with some of the worst ideas in the history of time. Alice, your television prophet is a nut who plays off the fears and intrinsic bigotry of people to make money. Does he have a book out on this topic? Alice said, Uh, yes, it’s called Burn Baby Burn: Islam No, Jesus Yes. Reverend Barclay followed up, Alice, how much does he charge for the book? Alice answered, $39.95, but you get a free brick from the church he is building in Palestine. Reverend Barclay decided to reclaim his church and his sanity with a strong stand:
We will not burn a Qur’an for any reason. We will not be swayed by cable television talking heads that pervert the Gospel to make money or to run for public office. Lives are at stake. It’s true that Islam is greatly different from our faith. It’s also true that minority portions of Islam are violent and, that the violence will likely continue. We cannot, however, aid and abet that violence with intentional provocation. The Qur’an may not be holy to us but it is to Muslims. What did Paul teach about meat sacrificed to idols? To make this even easier let’s ask what would Jesus do? Fight fire with fire? No. Fighting fire with fire will ultimately lead to a much bigger fire. Our world does not need another bonfire fueled by hate. We must fight fire with love built on the example of Jesus. This is our only option as people of Jesus.
Alice contritely said I’m sorry pastor. I was wrong. I think I will sell the cable television preacher’s book on eBay and give the money to missions. Regina shouted, How about we burn the t.v. preacher’s book instead? That’ll show him! Pastor Barclay shook his head and thought to himself, and to think I could have been a lawyer.