Freedom/Privacy

Pastor Terry Jones, a publicity seeking rogue, sits in court in Michigan

by Jane Briggs-Bunting

Florida Pastor Terry Jones is in a Dearborn, Michigan court this morning (April 22) trying to persuade a jury of seven that his plans to hold a protest later today in front of the Islamic Center of America should be allowed, and he should not have to post a $40,000 peace bond. The Dearborn area is home to one of the largest Arabic populations in the U.S.

Jones is more than 1,000 miles north of his Gainesville, Florida church, where he burned a copy of the Koran several weeks ago and made headlines worldwide last year when he said he would burn 200 copies of the Muslim sacred text on September, 11, 2010. He didn’t on that date, but did burn the Koran in March because he says he was duped by a New York Imam last summer.  Seven UN workers and five others were murdered by protesters in Afghanistan in demonstrations after his book burning antics were put on You Tube.

He flew to Michigan on Thursday and was met at Detroit’s airport where he was escorted to court for a hearing. The City of Dearborn has refused to give him a permit to hold his protest in front of the Islamic Center but did give him permission to hold it in front of City Hall, one of several free speech zones in Dearborn, a middle class community and headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.

The city’s mayor, John O’Reilly, Jr., a Catholic of Irish descent, sent a letter to Jones   His letter is worth a read.

Not only did he offer Jones a prime permit free location for his protest, he also gave some very cogent reasons why Jones shouldn’t and couldn’t hold his protest where he planned.

The Islamic Center is on private property, and, wrote the Mayor,

“… has no public property to accommodate crowds, spectators, parking or the media. There is just a small public road with limited access which can’t be blocked and an adjacent grassy area for drainage…And, this property you are focusing on, in front of the Islamic Center of America, is also adjacent to four Christian churches, all of which will be hosting Good Friday services, adding to the traffic flow and congestion. It is ironic that the road that you want to protest near is called Altar Road, so named because it was first constructed to provide access to a row of churches constructed in the 1950s reflecting Dearborn’s diverse faith communities…”

Nonetheless, Jones is determined to have his way. Get more publicity, is more likely.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does allow citizens to assemble and petition. But, as the U.S Supreme Court ruled in March of this year in the Snyder v Phelps decision (that was the Westboro Church members who protest military funerals)  communities can regulate the where and when of protests by promulgating reasonable rules.

Dearborn did this years ago by passing an ordinance  creating permit free  protest zones within the city. Pastor Jones, however, apparently believes he is above the law. He doesn’t want to pay the $40K peace bond – likely he can’t afford it since his congregation has shrunk and the collection plate doesn’t bring in as much as it used to. The county prosecutor says that bond is needed because the threat of violence is so great extra police protection (that means overtime pay) is necessary. So now he is representing himself in a court hearing that he worries will drag on beyond his 5 p.m. planned protest. We can only pray that it will! The Detroit area gets enough black eyes in news coverage and Dearborn borders the city.

Meanwhile, back at the Islamic Center, an Interfaith Community Event was held last night with another planned for later today, Good Friday, one of the holiest of days in the Christian calendar. Participants include many of the local pastors, priests and ministers from area churches and lots of regular folks. It’s getting good local coverage but certainly won’t get many views on You Tube in Afghanistan.

That’s the plus and minus of the 24/7 news cycle and the world wide web. Back in the day, Pastor Jones’s 15 minutes of fame would have ended months ago.

This gun-toting pastor (his .40 caliber handgun accidentally went off, shooting a hole in the floor if his rental car last night while leaving a local TV station) has said, permit or not, he will hold his protest where he’s planned.

And the county prosecutor and Dearborn police say if he does, he will be arrested.

I suspect neither God nor the Constitution will protect him.

10 replies »

  1. There is only one truth…and that is Jesus; who said “I am the way the Truth and the Life”. What we have here in this country is freedom. Freedom to worship what ever God we sit fit to worship. That’s what makes this country so beautiful and like no other. We also have the right and freedom to voice our opinions as protected bt the Constitution of the United States.. To that extent this Pastor Jones has a right to do so, and I don’t think anyone who believes that the Constitution is correct, can dispute that.

    I think the real issue is here is a lack of love on the part of this Pastor from Florida who seems to harbor resentment against the Muslim community. For whatever reason. If I know one thing, it’s that nor ALL Muslims are hateful and want to see all Christians die. And, to make the radical extremist terrorist sects and have them be representative of all the Muslim world is totally wrong, and I think the Pastor Jones needs to take a long hard look at that.

    God Bless, on this day that we Christians celebrate as the day that Jesus hung on the tree for our iniquities.

  2. This is sad on so many levels. But suspect that this protest has less to do with religion and more to do with the fact that this guy has gotten a taste of fame and wants to extend his 15 minutes to an hour. I’m hoping common sense will prevail but I’m not expecting any miracles in this instance. I just hope they can keep the violence to a minimum.

  3. The Supreme Court grants rights to the hate-right but shuts down the left. Why is Phelps OK? His net site is “godhatesfags”? That’s legal and protected and a lot worse. Otoh, “bongs4jesus” is unconstitutional?

    The corporates have made an unholy deal with the “religious” right. Corporastes get to pillage the economy while the right gets to pillage our liberties and take away our personal rights under the banner of a sick, twisted version of “God.” Nearly everybody knows the scriptire, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay sayeth the Lord.” Phelps and Jones like David Koresh confuse their own sick selves for the Lord. Unfdortunately, the five sickos that control the SCOTUS agree.

  4. IF YOU HARBOR A PERSON OR GROUP DETERMINED TO DESTROY CHRISTIANITY IN THIS COUNTRY, AS THE BANKS IN THIS COUNTRY THAT HAVE BECOME MORE POWERFUL THAN OUR STANDING ARMIES, FREEDOM WILL RING, IF YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. THOMAS JEFFERSON AND AMERICANS SHALL SEE TO IT.

  5. THERE IS ALOT OF PUSH POLITCALLY TO PUSH CHRISTIANITY OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS AND CONGRESS, EVEN IN OUR PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE, BILLIONARES JUST KEEP DYING MYSTERIOUSLY TOO, FACT OF THE MATTER IS FREEDOM AND IN GOD WE TRUST WILL PREVAIL AS LONG AS THERE ARE MEN IN THIS COUNTRY DOING THINGS TO KEEP IT SAFE WE THE GENERAL PUBLIC WILL NEVER HEAR ABOUT.

  6. It seems North Americans think that this is an American problem but it affects the greater world. People have died in other countries because of this redneck. As far as I can learn, not one American has been killed there because of his outspoken bigotry, however people are continually getting killed elsewhere. Incitement is incitment regardless of any other considerations. Who does this jumped up little man think he is, when all he has become is a bigoted redneck that deserves nothing but the retribution he wishes on others. A sad bitter little man.

  7. Yesterday, Jones was briefly jailed after the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office filed a breach of peace complaint against him before any rally took place. A jury of six found him guilty, and he was jailed with a bond of $1. Jones initially refused to pay the bond, but was told by police he could be jailed for 3 years for refusing. He forked over the buck.

    Jones told the Washington Post he plans on hiring the Thomas Moore Law Center of Ann Arbor to file a lawsuit against the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. Another protest, in front of City Hall this time, is being planned.

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