His daughter Emma, who still lives in Germany, is estranged from her father and publicly denounced his scheme to burn copies of the Koran.
"I am shocked and condemn it," she told the German newspaper Der Spiegel amid the will-he-or-won't-he confusion of the past several days.
(Emma Jones had previously declined to speak with ABC News without being compensated. Her price: 2,300 Euros, or about $2,900.)
"When I hear what he is currently saying in interviews about his motivations, he seems like a stranger to me," she added.
"I sent him an e-mail. I wrote, 'Papa, don't do it.' I actually haven't had any contact with him since he left Cologne in 2008."
She continued: "But because I think his plan is so awful, I implored him to consider the consequences -- not just for him but for the whole world." She said she hasn't heard back.
To be sure, her father is no stranger to clashes with authority -- just not of this scale. The pastor runs an antique and used furniture business with his wife, Sylvia, on the grounds of the 12,000-square-foot church.
The county property assessor last year was forced to deny the church tax-exempt status on the 1,700 square feet used to turn a profit.
"It was very businesslike, no problems," said county assessor Ed Crapo. "They showed my people the property, showed my people a copy of the lease. So we denied exemption on that part of the property, and they filed no protest to it."
But because of aggressive reporting by the Gainesville Sun on the story, the paper's reporters are no longer permitted on the premises, says Levine, the managing editor.
Shane Butcher, who was expelled from the church for disobeying Jones, told the paper that he worked for the pastor's company for up 72 hours a week without pay and meals were provided from a "food bank."
Butcher said punishments for disobedience ranged from cleaning the barnacles off Jones's boat in Tampa, to carrying a life-size wooden cross or writing out all of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible.
"We carried a card that said 'obedience is always blessed,' " he was quoted as saying.
Indeed, the church has a laundry list of dicta, called the "Academy Rulebook." Created by his wife Sylvia Jones in 2007, the rulebook directs students to sever most contact with family members. "Family occasions like wedding, funerals or Birthdays are no exception to this rule," the rulebook says.
"No phone calls. Exceptions can be made under certain circumstances but only after receiving permission."
The syntactically-challenged rulebook also barred "Singles" from having "romantic relationships to the opposite sex…Except work things, there is no need to talk at all, or even flirt!"
Movies might have been OK, though. Pastor Jones, a fan of Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" -- a poster adorns his office wall at the church -- launched an online video series called the "Braveheart Show," which he uses to preach anti-Islamic sermons to an audience larger than the 50 families who belong to the church.
This affinity for Braveheart's self-righteous rebellion could potentially be alarming given that Jones and members of his staff tend to carry concealed weapons -- and pointedly do so when meeting with police, according to Hanrahan. There were widespread concerns that violence would break out if the church ended up going through with the Koran burning on 9/11.