The Seventh-day Adventist Church is deeply dismayed by a non-denominational pastor's plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11.
In a statement released today, Adventist world church President Ted N.C. Wilson said the so-called "Burn a Quran Day" is "directly contrary" to the belief that Christians ought to relate to others with mutual respect.
Terry Jones, pastor of the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, recently announced his intention to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The church has since been denied a permit to set a bonfire, but Jones has vowed to proceed with the burning, the Associated Press reported this week.
"This causes us great consternation," Wilson said. "Efforts deliberately designed to inflame tensions between faith communities are irresponsible and deeply harmful."
Any deliberate show of disrespect to the Quran is viewed as offensive to Muslims, who consider the Quran the word of God and regard it with utmost respect.
Already eliciting widespread protests, international criticism and government warnings, the burning -- if carried out -- could kindle a significant reaction from the Muslim community, religious liberty advocates have warned. Many have predicted results similar to what followed a series of controversial cartoons depicting Mohammed published by a Danish newspaper in 2006.
In a climate increasingly "marked by growing intolerance and prejudice," the Adventist Church is "working diligently to end religiously motivated repression and violence," Wilson said.
"A hallmark of the Adventist Church is its defense of freedom of conscience, which it holds as a God-given universal human right for all peaceful people of faith, regardless of religious affiliation," he said.
Read Wilson's full statement here.