Spirit Driving Institute Leila Johnson – Transformation Teacher


What’s Wrong with Burning the Koran?

NOTE: This isn't a "polished" blog post because I wrote it late at night after seeing this story. Please pardon the ramblings, but I think you'll get my point. :)

If you haven't heard yet, check out this Nightline story about a small Christian church congregation in Florida whose pastor plans to have an International Burn a Koran Day on 9/11. I was moved to tears after seeing this.

I tend to remain neutral in my discussions about religion because I don't want to alienate anyone. This story really made me want to say something. I've been lucky, I guess you could say, to have been a part of mainstream religion most of my life. By mainstream, I, of course, mean Christian.  I haven't faced the public persecution that others have, largely because I have kept my beliefs private. There were times in my life when I wasn't so mainstream. I participated in Wiccan practices. It wasn't something that I shared with too many people because their first response was, "You're a witch?!". This tends to conjure up Halloween-ish images of cauldrons and wands. Now, my beliefs are a combination of several things with Christian, Eastern, and pagan influences, although I wouldn't classify myself as a part of any particular religion.

I can remember having a conversation with someone about the whole "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" thing. You know, when it's November or December and you go to the mall and an associate says "Happy Holidays" because they don't want to offend anyone that might not celebrate Christmas. Or, you get someone saying "Merry Christmas" because they assume everyone celebrates it. The person I was speaking with had the nerve to say that they were tired of hearing "Happy Holidays" and complained that it's time for Christians to have more rights.

Are you serious? If any religion has had all of the "rights", it has been Christianity. That tends to be the default religion and some Christians assume that everyone else has the same beliefs. This brings me back to the Burn a Koran day. It is pretty ballsy for a pastor to arrange something like this when I'm sure he would take issue if people from another religion started burning the Bible. He feels that he has the right to do this because he is part of the "right" religion (as in 'correct', not 'right wing'). After hearing this story, I found myself saying, "What the heck is wrong with some Christians?"

This reminds me of 9/11 when many people were fearful of anyone with Islamic heritage. There are so many times that we judge an entire race, religion, or other type of group based on the behavior of a minority from that group. I understand that 9/11 was a scary experience even for those that didn't know anyone who perished during the tragedy. However, it doesn't make sense to hate an entire group of people because of it. As an African-American, I have dealt with this on a much smaller scale. Yes, it's 2010, but I'm still cautious about the way I behave in stores for fear of someone thinking I'm trying to steal something. And again, we go back to the pastor in Florida. How many Christians would want others to think that they believe the same thing this pastor believes?

My husband and I love Persian food. I remember the week after 9/11, we noticed that a few of our favorite Persian restaurants in Denver had significantly fewer patrons than prior to that day. We decided to show a small gesture of support by dining out at some of those restaurants. I don't remember being scared or thinking that anything bad would happen. We're not heroes, by any means, but it was important for us to do that.

So, the title of this blog post, "What's wrong with burning the Koran?" is a philosophical one. I don't think anyone has the right to destroy someone else's holy book. As an author, I think about people that have burned others' non-holy books because they didn't believe what they said. I do think that we need to look deeper and discover what would drive us to participate in something like this. What are we afraid of? What are we trying to stop from happening? Or, what are we hoping to accomplish?

Although it sounds corny and is overused, I keep going back to Rodney King's statement of "...can we all get along?".

Your thoughts?

About Leila Johnson

Rev. Leila Johnson's book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, is a spiritual retreat for overachieving entrepreneurs and professionals who want to redefine the answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?". Leila is President and Co-Owner of Data-Scribe, an information technology systems integration and modernization firm providing services to businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. As part of her journey on the road of life, Leila has earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and in the Metaphysical Sciences. She also holds her Master of Divinity and is an ordained reverend. Prior to starting her business, Leila worked as a call center coach, curriculum developer, and trainer in the financial and insurance industries.
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