So there has been a fair bit of flap about this tiny church in Gainesville, Florida and its plans to burn Qurans on September 11. Others have written about this church, what it reflects in the current political/religious environment, and presented various critiques of its practices, positions, and plans. Fox news even presented an analysis that’s worth a read: Seven Questions for the Pastor Who Wants to Burn Copies of the Koran on 9/11. There really is no need for me to comment further on this and I even welcome this debate as it might force some people to critically assess their thinking about Islam and its characterization as a monolithic evil. My beef is more personal.
I am pissed off by its name. Dove is a potent marketing tool. It implies peace and calm and a sort of godliness. (Never mind that before appropriation by more modern and misogynist Christianity, it was frequently used to represent the feminine divine.) Now, I have put up with my name being used to sell soap, chocolate, ice cream, and Christian music but this–the use of my name to imply that violence, sacrilege, ignorance, and misogyny are peaceful and of the Lord? No way.
While I have long ago separated from any formal religious organization, I do consider myself Christian. Most Christians would not. For example, I don’t believe that the Bible is literally true. It is, for me, a sacred text, containing some amazing metaphorical and philosophical wisdom. I actually know it fairly well, having participated in years of religious studies/Sunday School/Bible study/youth group.
I checked these Dove World Outreach folks out. The website has a ‘Contact Us’ section. I decided to use it to voice my dissent. Tongue fully in cheek, I sent the following. It’s silly, but somehow it made me feel better.
My name is Dove. I am a Christian.
It is appalling that your church, in the name of God, is undertaking activities aimed solely at judging and separating out others, placing yourselves in the role only God should have. The statements made by your leadership on any number of topics are blasphemous–not for their content (offensive as it may be) but for the manner in which the writer/speaker claims to speak for God himself. Using the Lord’s name in vain is, as you know, a sin regardless of the circumstances. But I’ll let him deal with you on that one.
I am writing to inform you that your use of my name without my permission and in a manner that defames my character is unacceptable. To avoid further legal action, please cease and desist immediately by either:
1) Removing the name “Dove” from any and all materials, signs, bank accounts and any and all legal and/or public references to your organization.
2) Aligning your doctrines with the Bible (Exodus 23:9 springs to mind) and the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 5:38-43 are so inspiring) and his Apostles (say, Romans 14:10). He and they stood against revenge and those who stir up hatred (gotta love Romans 12:17-21).
In the spirit of love, peace, and potential All-American litigation,