The Christian minister who has ignited a media firestorm with his intention to commemorate the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by burning copies of the Quran appeared on "Nightline" Tuesday (Sep. 7) to reassert his church's commitment to the plan.
Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, a small, evangelical church in Gainesville, Fla., said that he and his congregation will go forward with the proposed "International Burn a Koran Day" on Sep. 11, 2010, in spite of concerns from the government that the event could put troops in danger.
"It's something that we feel we need to do," Jones said. "It's a message that we feel we need to send."
The pastor stated that he and his congregation have received death threats and will be armed on the evening of the Quran burning. "We are definitely prepared to give our lives for this particular message and cause," he said.
Jones' plans have been met with harsh condemnation from U.S. government officials. General David Petraeus warned that the Taliban could use images of the church's Quran-burning rally to incite violence against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed Petraeus' fears, adding that burning the Islamic holy book is a "disrespectful, disgraceful act."
"We understand that those concerns are valid," Jones said. "The question that we have is if we don't do it, when do we stop backing down?"