Christian evangelical churches in the United States blasted a Florida church’s plans to burn copies of the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, had called for repeating its “Everybody Burn Quran Day” it celebrates “in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam.”
"Dove World Outreach Center, shame on you," responded Angel Nuñez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, according to Christianity Today, an Evangelical Christian magazine.
"If I want to win a Muslim to Christ, I surely won't do it by burning the Qur'an in public and provoking them to hate us more," said Nuñez. "The greatest weapon a Christian has is godly love."
The National Association for Evangelicals (NAE) also reacted in stament urging the Dove World Outreach Center to cancel its planned event to burn the Quran.
“The plans recently announced by a Florida group to burn copies of the Quran on September 11 show disrespect for our Muslim neighbors and would exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims throughout the world. The NAE urges the cancellation of the burning,” the NAE said.
The Florida church’s pastor Terry Jones told CNN earlier this week that “Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times.”
Jones wrote a book titled "Islam is of the Devil," and the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase.
The church launched a YouTube channel to diffuse its messages.
"I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they're on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?" Jones asks in one of his YouTube posts.
"No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil."
NAE President Leith Anderson said, “It sounds like the proposed Quran burning is rooted in revenge. Yet the Bible says that Christians should ‘make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else’ (1 Thessalonians 5:15).”
“We have to recognize that fighting fire with fire only builds a bigger fire,” said Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Orlando, Fla., and member of the NAE Board of Directors. “Love is the water that will eventually quench the destruction.”
Anderson said, “The most powerful statement by the organizers of the planned September 11th bonfire would be to call it off in the name and love of Jesus Christ.”
Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had called on American Muslims to react to the planned burning of the Quran by hosting educational "Share the Quran" Ramadan fast-breaking dinners (iftars) at which copies of Islam's holy book will be distributed to neighbors, public and law enforcement officials and journalists.
"American Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper added that the initiative to burn the Quran is one many Islamophobic efforts in that state of Florida and across the United States.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
*Ahmed Alsheeti contributed to this story from Washington