Terry Jones Defies Administration, Plans to Burn Korans Anyway

Uncowed, fiery preacher says 9/11 Burn a Koran Day will go on

ByABC News
September 7, 2010, 1:08 PM

Sept. 8, 2010— -- Terry Jones, the lanky, hardscrabble preacher from Gainesville, Florida, was at it again today. But now, more and more people around the world are listening to Jones' every word.

"As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing," Jones said. He is the man who has called for a burning of copies of the Koran on 9/11.

As people in Gainesville waited, some of them gathered in prayer, the condemnations from virtually every quarter of American and world leadership continued, starting with longtime televangelist Pat Robertson, who blasted Pastor Jones this morning on the "700 Club" program.

"Imagine a pastor that is so egotistical that he would sacrifice the lives of missionaries and soldiers to go forward with something," Robertson said. "This is so stupid."

Sarah Palin also condemned Jones today on her Twitter account, tweeting that "Koran Burning Is Insensitive, Unnecessary; Pastor Jones, Please Stand Down."

"If your ultimate point is to prove that the Christian teachings of mercy, justice, freedom, and equality provide the foundation on which our country stands, then your tactic to prove this point is totally counter-productive," the former Alaska Governor added on her Facebook page.

ABC News has also learned that evangelical leader Franklin Graham has reached out to Jones in an effort to dissuade him.

Yet, in a remarkable development, a local Muslim leader in Gainesville decided to pay Jones a visit.

"I said I will stand with you. I will talk to the Muslim world, and I will support you. I will defend you as my neighbor regardless of your faith," leader Muhammed Musri said. "I think he was very receptive to that message."

Even so, Jones said he plans on moving forward, convinced he speaks for many Americans, adding that his congregation has received "quite a bit of support."

But a new ABC News poll has found that 26 percent of Americans admit to feelings of prejudice against Muslims. Also, only 54 percent of Americans see Islam as a peaceful religion, with 31 percent saying that mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims.

Still, many Christians feel Jones has crossed the line, including Pastor Dan Johnson of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville.

"From a Christian perspective, [we need] to honor, love and respect other people and treat them as we would like to be treated," Johnson said. "Out of obedience to our Lord and our sense of love of neighbor, it's wrong to act this way."

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man who plans to build the Islamic center and mosque near New York City's Ground Zero site, spoke to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live" about Jones' plan to burn the Koran.

"I would plead with him to seriously consider what he is doing," Rauf said. "It is going to feed into the radicals in the Muslim world."

"We have freedom of speech, but with freedom comes responsibility. ... This is dangerous for our national security, but also it is the un-Christian thing to do."