September 7th, 2010
09:32 PM ET

Controversial pastor sends mixed messages about Islam, 9/11

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – The Florida pastor who has stoked national and international controversy by announcing a plan to burn Qurans on the upcoming anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sent mixed message Tuesday in an interview set to air on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°.

After word of Pastor Terry Jones’ plan spread earlier this week, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the burning of Islam's holy books "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas. "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Petreus said in a statement issued Monday.

Asked about Petraeus’ remarks, Jones told Cooper, “We are taking his concerns very seriously.”

Earlier: Pastor weighing plans to burn Quarans

Then Jones quickly turned the conversation to suggest that his church’s plan to burn Islam’s holy book is intended as a message of defiance directed at the more radical elements of the religious faith.

“We just also have the concerns: How far do we go as Americans? When do we back down? When do we decide to stand up? How long do we bow to fears and threats? Or when does actually a time come that we speak to radical Islam and say tell them: No more, no longer. We will not be pushed around, and we will not bow to threats.”

Notwithstanding his defiant tone, Jones said his church supports the war in Afghanistan, a military campaign which, Cooper pointed out, involves U.S. troops fighting in support of a Muslim government in a Muslim country.

Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, plan to hold "International Burn a Quran Day" Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The church has planned the event as a way to honor the memory of those who died in the attacks.

Asked about this motivation, Jones told Cooper that he could not name a single victim of the coordinated attacks carried out nearly a decade ago. And the pastor insisted that he and his congregation could honor the memory of the victims without knowing specifically who any of them were.

“I do not know their names, no. I do not have to know their names to honor them,” the controversial pastor said.

In the interview, Jones also had harsh words for Petraeus and for the military general’s outspoken indictment of Saturday’s event.

Programming note: Watch more of the Jones interview Tuesday on Anderson Cooper 360° beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Islam • Martina Stewart
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. jda379

    This is another fine example of how religion divides and creates dischord. Intolerance is the main product of religion. It is at the center of everything wrong with this situation. When will America wake up and realize that we don't need ANY of this nonsense?

    September 8, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  2. jim

    I believe Rick Sanchez – on CNN – was the first to interview lunatic Terry Jones on national television and give him a worldwide platform.
    If it wasn't for the media's constant pursuit of all things outrageous, Jones and his tiny sect would have remained where he belongs: in obscurity.

    September 8, 2010 at 7:55 am |
  3. Larry Kayman

    if Terry Jones tries to even go close to burning the Holy book, AL QUR'AN, the whole of Florida is gonna be covered with flood, like putting tsunami, katrina, and the recent one of Pakistan and Guatemala and mexico all together gonna sweep away the state of florida. QUR'AN is no joke. watch it happen

    September 8, 2010 at 6:00 am |
  4. Ehsan

    What good will come out of this Pastor's Quran Burning Event? His Church of Hate will definitely attract more hateful people and this is exactly what he wants to increase his denomination from current 50 to something to boast upon. Satan does have a large following.

    September 8, 2010 at 5:37 am |
  5. oldbanjo

    This Pastor should be arrested as a terrorist along with anyone involved. Also CNN news is giving this idiot and his followers an international platform to speak on. I don't believe that anyone should control what is put on the news but I do think CNN is putting gas on this fire an if a soldier is killed because of this stupidity someone should be put on trial as a terrorist including CNN.

    September 8, 2010 at 5:29 am |
  6. Missionary in Muslim Country

    I don't think Pastor Jones fully understands the ramifications of this decision. Not only will this endanger the lives of the military living overseas, this will also increasingly endanger the lives of Americans and Christians living overseas in Muslim countries (not just missionaries, but especially missionaries.). Plus, his actions will single handedly turn nominal Muslims into fanatical.

    September 8, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  7. Linda

    I would like to know if the pastor would be in agreement to taking a little trip; then stand in the middle of a circle, surrounded by Muslims and proceed to burn 'the book'. I have a feeling he would not want to put himself in harm's way but doesn't mind putting our sodiers in danger with the rage this idiotic act will cause.

    September 8, 2010 at 5:24 am |
  8. Ahmed Khan

    An American Pastor can't do that. He is not a real American, period. Qur'an and Islam has nothing to do with 9/11.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:10 am |
  9. MSgt Tony Wood

    Thank you Anderson for your interview of this pastor. You asked him the same hard questions I would have asked him. I am in the military and have been deployed to Afhganistan twice. Freedom of speech is one of the great freedoms that I lay my life on the line for. However, reckless people like this pastor seem to hide behind the protective barrier that I and my comrades in uniform provide him. I wonder what his decision would be if he had to serve on the front lines in Afganistan after he burned a Quran. I think he would quickly re-think his actions and listen to General Patreus. This pastor said that he wants to fight a form of radicalism. The best way he can do this is by starting in the walls of his own church.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:59 am |
  10. Steve

    I sent Terry Jones $20 and a message to burn one for me. The first amendment is not just for liberals supporting a mosque at ground zero.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  11. Echo Five Delta

    This is a small Christian Church that no one knew about until the MEDIA reported this story.The media should take responsibility and not make this into a major event. You the media have created the danger and have made a mountain out of a mole hill. The media loves to create controversy and this is just another example of their BS. Our troops are in danger no matter if they burn the books or not.If our enemy become more aggressive with violence because of this, we should come down with an iron fist on the muslim terrorist. I am not saying they should burn the book, but the media is the guilty party because they have created a circus out of this. "Let our military fight the war as they were trained to do," not our stupid political rules and this war could be over.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:54 am |
  12. John Burke

    If a US Imam was to burn the Talmud, Old Testaments, and talk against Judaism would this be considered an attack on religious freedom?

    September 8, 2010 at 2:51 am |
  13. Kittu

    He is bluffing, I don't think he would do it.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  14. reggie

    This so called pastor, is a bigit and a nerrow minded racist. He probebly has a white robe and a pointed white hat in his closet.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:18 am |
  15. john

    He is the first in line promoting hate. This is why religion is the cancer of the human race. Instead of making us come together, religion makes us each other even more

    September 8, 2010 at 2:16 am |

    Burning Bible does not put American Troops in danger;
    but burning Quran puts American Troops in jeopardy.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:16 am |
  17. lblt

    "Your comment is awaiting moderation." ...What happened to freedom of speech?

    September 8, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  18. Yahya Rahman

    What would Jesus Do? Thank you

    September 8, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  19. Ebbie

    Shame on Pastor Terry Jones.. shame on him 'cause teaching of Kuran has nothing to do with 9/11. Those who are responsible for 9/11 are hunted everywhere including Islamic countries. To burn the Kuran is a clear message of hostile against muslim.
    What about Timothy Mcvein faith, is it fare to say lets burn the bible simply because he was a Christian?

    September 8, 2010 at 1:53 am |
  20. Symbolic Speech

    Go ahead, coward, take my comment out.
    I am not going to be surporised.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  21. Art

    Pastor Jones will not get his message out if the news media doesn't cover it! News agencies should show a little restraint with this type of nonsense.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  22. Symbolic Speech

    The Supreme Court of the United States call it "symbolic Speech"
    Burn it, burn it burn it!

    September 8, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  23. Shariati Shariati

    The Reverend Jones and his likes are the TALIBANS of USA. USA would do well if it deals with its own TALIBANS first.

    His despicable act would alienate the intellectuals in all the communities. It will endanger the lives of our soldiers; it will put scores of innocent lives in harms way.

    He and his kinds are proof that idiots exist in all communities.

    September 8, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  24. Steve

    The Quran is a holy book that was written to worship the same God of Aberham as the Torah and the Bible. Burning the Quran to protest the radical side of Islam is equivalent to burning Bibles to protest the KKK or another radical group who tries to use the Bible to justify horrible things. You are insulting a lot of innocent people and God/Allah as well.

    I have met a lot of good, decent and honorable people in the middle east. I realize that your religion teaches that it is bad to stand out and take the focus off of Allah. I do believe that Allah will not look badly at good people who stand up in his name to defend Islam and take it back from the radicals who have damaged the outside impression of Islam in their own quest for notoriety.

    As long as all of us who believe in God/Allah are fighting each other, over which religion is better than the other, the forces who are against God/Allah are winning. This is not good for any of us.

    September 8, 2010 at 12:45 am |
  25. Jason Thorogood

    Should we let America become an Islamic state?

    September 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  26. Dan Byrd

    Warning??? What is hje going to do??? Truly a biggot!!!!

    September 7, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  27. Rex

    I have hot-dogs, buns, and condiments–lets do it !!!

    September 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  28. Dan Byrd

    This man of God "supposedly" promoting HATE,should not be a pastor. Would he say or do if someone were to burn the Bible? He is a hypocrite, and should not be a pastor. I do not agree or believe in the muslim religion but do respect their beliefs as this is a free country to believe in freedom of religion and worship.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  29. andrew

    this is not a pastor but a wolf in sheeps clothing like the majority of the pastors of this world. behold i send my messenger before thy face,who shall prepare thy way for thee

    September 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  30. mike salt

    Anderson I love your show but leave the poor congress woman alone. she admits she made a mistake so let it go.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  31. bob

    This is totally the wrong message. no no no!!!!
    Especially from a "Christian Pastor"
    God is doing so much for those seeking Jesus from a Muslim background, don't destroy the work He is doing. Jesus response is not to do evil for evil, but good in return for evil.
    Don't be stupid, please!!!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  32. Kendall

    Does this pastor think Christ would burn a Quran? Pastor Jones makes me embarrassed to be a Christian.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  33. Bradley Odom

    I watch your show nightly. I never take the time to send an email to say that I enjoy your show or to make suggestions. After watching this piece I had to.
    This so called Pastor is an idiot! There are so many great Christian pastors out there who could offer a much more educational dialoge on interfaith topics. Two really powerful people making a difference in my own community in Atlanta is the Rev. Chris Henry and Joanna Adams from Morningside Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. Joanna was Atlanta's woman of the year a few years back. Chris is a brilliant young theologian. Check them out!
    Please, for all of us, don't continue to show such ignorant people on TV. You know this sensationlizes the topic and make all religious people looks stupid....and we're not!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  34. NVBrat

    I no longer associate myself with the "Christian" religion because of people like "Pastor" Jones. Religion is ruining our world. If people would open their eyes and see things from the profoundly spiritual viewpoint, where every one of us is sacred, burning of anyone's religious texts would not happen.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  35. jose

    I think that the troops are in danger everyday and he has a point about not giving in to burning the Quran , how many times they burn our flag and do offensive acts agains us infidels . And we just bite the bullet and do nothing about it , They want us all death let's get it on , there is no diplomacy with them. How can they kidnap people and cut their heads off and tape it , I guess that's OK right.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  36. Don Bleggi

    If Dr. Jones proceeds with his burning of the sacred book of the Moslem religion to the detriment of our American troops, then he should be tried for treason. He is undermining the safety of our soldiers and the workings of our government. Government has a responsibility to stop his planned actions.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  37. Marty Martain

    This man is an idiot. This country was founded on the freedom of choice. The man is the same kind of white man that forced his religion on Native Americans and said that they were saving us. We believed in One Almight Creator and we still very forced to accept the whiteman religion. But to burn the Quron is foolish and dangerous to our wonderful troops, our culture, and to all our allies and all the families of this country. He should get back on the boat that brought his family to this country and go back to where he came from.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  38. bill johnson

    Anderson you aare so wrong on the pastor
    you have been so wrong

    September 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  39. Kevin Voelker

    I am horrified at the ignorance of the Koran-burning 'pastor'. The first image that comes to mind at the mention of book-burning is Nazi Germany. How would he react to other religious leaders burning bibles?? As an attorney, I am appalled at his trampling on the rights of freedom of speech and religion of those who believe in the Koran. As a retired Army Officer, I uncategorically disagree with his assertion that 'most of the military' believe the same as he does.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  40. Linda Stevens

    This man is the descendant of the Devil! He's crazy and bigotted. He doesn't care a thing about the members of the military who might die as a result of this action. All he does is make Christianity dirtier than it already is. When the first marine or soldier dies after his actions he should be arrested and thrown in jail.

    And for God sake, this is a church of 50 people!! Maybe if the media would let this die, it would just go away!!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  41. Alaa

    well i think the Holy Qur'an shouldn't be burnt..Not only will the American troops life's will be in danger but American's will be hated in the world.I disagree with Pastor Terry Jones,the islam's did burn an America flag but not a Holy Bible,so he doesnt have any right to burn the Holy Qur'an.Thank you

    September 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  42. DropZone

    Good ... Good Burn those books. Don't back down Terry Jones. Don't let them intimidate you. Stick to your rights and burn those books and send a hard fast message. They wouldn't hesitate and have done this themselves.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  43. Georgia

    Can not beleieve this to sad the actions of this man can put so many service men & women in danger, he must not have a son or daughter fighting for his freedoms.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  44. Annie Kate

    This pastor is a opinionated nut who will do our military a great disservice just to get attention for himself more than likely. I hope someone convinces him to back off.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  45. Jill

    I can't believe this guy. I hate the fact that there are christians like this. This pastor is influencing others.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:09 pm |