Jason Poling: I'm with stupid
The Rev. Jason Poling is Pastor of New Hope Community Church in Pikesville.
It’s been a tough year to be an evangelical pastor with a small congregation. The two best-known examples are Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The former is best known for protesting military funerals and running www.godhatesfags.com. The latter is known for a plan to burn copies of the Qur’an on Saturday to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.
Well down the list would be me. Like Westboro and Dove, New Hope is small and independent of a denomination. One difference would be that the only thing we burn is cigars when our guys get together to play poker.
There are plenty of other differences as well. But every time I turn on the news and hear about a small evangelical church that’s planning to burn copies of the Qur’an I realize that there just isn’t room for the reporters to describe it as “fringe,” or “cult-like” (see their “Discipleship Manual” at The Smoking Gun), or “nutty.” No, they have to call them something, so “small evangelical church” it is.
I’m getting a taste of what it’s like for many of my Muslim colleagues.
A couple of years back I asked a local Imam what he thought about the blasphemy laws in many majority-Muslim countries that prescribe the death penalty for those converting from Islam to another religion. He told me he thought it was outrageous. I referenced the passages in the Qur’an used to justify the practice, and asked why other imams would endorse it on that basis. “Because they’re idiots,” he said.