Last month, The Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville made international headlines when it announced on its Facebook page that members of its congregation would burn copies of the Koran to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Church leaders asked other religious groups to join in standing, "against the evil of Islam," and saying "Islam is of the devil!"
The Koran burning ceremony is planned for next month, but the church's pastor, Terry Jones -- who has written a book titled "Islam is of The Devil" and sells T-shirts bearing the same message -- has defended the controversial event.
The Facebook event had received thousands of "Like" recommendations by users, but had also been attacked with a number of threatening messages posted on the page and received corresponding anti-Islam rants.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) called for the church to cancel the event, The Christian Post reported last month.
’It sounds like the proposed Koran burning is rooted in revenge,’ NAE president Leith Anderson said in July. ’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."
Mainstream Muslim groups have also denounced the move and lamented the sentiments promoted by the Gainesville church.
Jones said his life is being threatened after getting international attention for his plans. On Thursday, Jones said agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Gainesville Police visited the Dove World Outreach Center, to inform the pastor of death threats made against him from inside and outside the United States. He said they advised him on steps to secure the safety of hundreds planning to attend the Koran burning.
"We have thought about it," the pastor said, "about the danger in holding the controversial event, and we realize that whenever we made this step, that this kind of thing could happen. But we feel it's that important, and the times call for some kind of radical measure in standing up."
Jones said the charismatic Christian church and its members are burning the Koran in attempt to warn Americans about what he says, are the dangers of Islam.
"Things like 9-11, Fort Hood, and the honor killings... these are possibly not isolated incidents," the pastor said. "These are things that, if we don't stand up now, they can increase."
Also on Thursday, students and faculty at a Sunni Muslim university thousands of miles away in Cairo, Egypt condemned the event. The Al-Azhar Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs issued a statement accusing the Gainesville church of stirring up hate and discrimination and called for other American churches to condemn the event as well.
"Jesus would burn the Koran, because it's not a Holy book," said Terry, when asked if his planned actions were in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The planned Koran burning ceremony has come at a price to the tiny church. Vandals damaged its cross, and signs announcing the event have been torn down. Jones says his members and staff understand the danger involved in holding the burning, "But we feel it's that important ... and the times call for some kind of radical measure in standing up."
Besides the Koran burning ceremony, the Dove World Outreach Center has also held anti-homosexual events. One such event outside Gainesville's City Hall on August 2, "No Homo Mayor Protest," targeted the city's first openly gay mayor, Craig Lowe.
WOFL TV reporter Derrol Nail and Web Producer Stuart Campbell contributed to this report.
Pastor behind Koran burning plan talks | Originally Reported by: MyFoxOrlando.com