By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
(RNS) The National Association of Evangelicals has condemned plans by a Florida church to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"The proposed burning of Qurans would be profoundly offensive to Muslims worldwide, just as Christians would be insulted by the burning of Bibles," the NAE said in a Thursday (July 29) statement.
"Such an act would escalate tensions between members of the two faiths in the United States and around the world."
The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., announced its plans on a Facebook page "in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam," reads the announcement. "Islam is of the devil!"
Evangelical leaders said the plans should be canceled.
"The most powerful statement by the organizers of the planned Sept. 11th bonfire would be to call it off in the name and love of Jesus Christ," said NAE President Leith Anderson.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, joined the NAE in condemning the plans.
"The burning of the book holy to the world's Muslims is morally repugnant," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the center's interfaith director, in a statement.
"We urge leaders of this church to cancel this despicable act, which will certainly spawn a wave of new recruits for Islamist extremism and terrorism."
Separately, leaders of the Baptist World Alliance warned against stereotyping Islam at their global assembly in Honolulu, Associated Baptist Press reported.
"As an American and a Christian, I am alarmed by the growing marginalization of Muslims in the United States--and especially disturbed that American Christians do not defend our Muslim neighbors more courageously," said Robert Sellers, missions professor at Hardin-Simmons University's Logsdon School of Theology in Abilene, Texas.