CNN's Chetry to Koran-Burning Pastor: You'll Have Blood on Your Hands

Kiran Chetry, CNN Anchor; & Pastor Terry Jones, Dove Outreach World Center | NewsBusters.orgOn Tuesday's American Morning, CNN's Kiran Chetry used General David Petraeus's denunciation of a planned Koran burning by a church to blast the church's pastor for any subsequent deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan: "Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?" Chetry also lectured Pastor Terry Jones over his apparent lack of "refined" Christianity.

Chetry interviewed Pastor Jones 41 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. After asking him why he and his church were planning to burn Korans, the anchor launched into her critique of the minister: "I wanted to let you say your piece, because when I first read this story, I thought there's no way that this could be as bad as it sounds. It appears that it is. You're saying that you're going to burn the holy book of another religion to send a message to the radical elements of that religion, with no thought to the fact that you'd obviously be highly offending everyone in that religion. How do you justify that?"

Later in the segment, Chetry turned theologian and quoted Scripture to Pastor Jones as she continued to question his planned action: "What about turn thy cheek? I mean, this is- you know, Christianity at its most- you know, refined. It's that you just don't act out in violence. You don't act out in any manner of hate, that you turn thy cheek, that you don't rise to the nastiness or the level of payback that your perceived enemies do. I mean, isn't this the exact opposite of what Christ taught all of us to be and to do?"

The CNN anchor's "blood on your hands" remark came moments later:
CHETRY: I just want to ask you this: does it bother you that the military and the military leaders believe that by doing this, you are very likely putting the risk- the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk in Muslim countries? David Petraeus, the general- this is what he said: 'Their actions will in fact jeopardize the safety of young men and women who are serving in uniform over here, and also undermine the very mission that they're trying to accomplish.' Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?

As she wrapped up the interview, Chetry again questioned Pastor Jones's Christianity. After the minister emphasized that Islamists "must be shown a certain amount of force, a certain amount of determination," the anchor replied, "That doesn't sound like the Christianity most of us were taught."

Earlier in the segment, Chetry stated how "freedom of religion is...one aspect of what makes our country so great and different from many countries around the world," in the context of Muslims' right to worship and build mosques, such as the Ground Zero mosque, but didn't once raise how Pastor Jones and his church have the First Amendment right to burn Korans. This isn't surprising, given how CNN has been using their coverage to press how "Islamophobia" is apparently sweeping the nation.

The full transcript of Kiran Chetry's interview of Pastor Terry Jones on Tuesday's American Morning:

CHETRY: This morning, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says that a Florida church's plan to burn the Koran on 9/11 could put the U.S. mission there and our troops at risk. Hundreds of Muslims in Afghanistan are protesting the decision, chanting, 'Long Live Islam;' 'Death to America,' we saw. That's the latest video of the Kabul protests. There's been others in Indonesia, as well as other places.

Joining us now from the Dove Outreach World Center in Gainesville, Florida, is Terry Jones, a reverend of the church, senior pastor and the man behind the event. Thanks for joining us this morning to talk more about this, Terry. One of the things I'm wondering is-

PASTOR TERRY JONES: Thank you.

CHETRY: This rally is set to take place Saturday- of course, that's September 11th. It's also the last day of the Ramadan fast, the holiest day known as Eid in the Muslim religion. Why are you going to burn Korans?

JONES: Yeah, we first declared September 11th, 'International Burn a Koran Day'- actually, for two reasons. Number one, we wanted to remember those who were brutally murdered on September 11th. And actually, we wanted to send a very clear message to the radical element of Islam. We wanted to send a very clear message to them that we are not interested in their Sharia law. We do not tolerate their threats, their fear, their radicalness. We live in the United States of America. We want to send a clear message to the peaceful Muslims. We have freedom of speech. We have freedom of religion. They are more than welcome to be here- more than welcome to worship- more than welcome to build mosques. But our 9/11 demonstration- our 9/11 protest is to send a clear message to the radical element of Islam that we will not tolerate that in America.

CHETRY: Well, I wanted to let you say your piece, because when I first read this story, I thought there's no way that this could be as bad as it sounds. It appears that it is. You're saying that you're going to burn the holy book of another religion to send a message to the radical elements of that religion, with no thought to the fact that you'd obviously be highly offending everyone in that religion. How do you justify that?

JONES: Well, we realized that this action would indeed offend people- offend the Muslims. I am offended when they burn the flag. I am offended when they burn the Bible. But we feel that the message that we are trying to send is much more important than people being offended. We believe that we cannot back off of the truth of the dangers of Islam- of the dangers of radical Islam just because people are going to be offended. Overseas, we see they have no problem burning our flag. They have no problem calling for the death of America- the death of our president-

CHETRY: Right, but this isn't overseas, this is America. I mean, part of-

JONES: So we feel it's time to stand up.

CHETRY: But this isn't overseas, I mean, this is America, and you just said that you welcome peaceful Muslims and you welcome people who build Korans [sic]. I mean- you know, freedom of religion is what- is one aspect of what makes our country so great and different from many countries around the world. So why would you want to play into that?

JONES: We're not playing into it at all. I just made a very clear statement. Muslims are welcome here. They are welcome to worship, as long as they submit to- obey the Constitution of the United States- do not, sooner or later, try to institute Sharia law in America. Our message is very clear- it is not to the moderate Muslim. Our message is not a message of hate. Our message is a message of warning to the radical element of Islam, and I think what we see right now, around the globe, proves exactly what we're talking about.

CHETRY: What about turn thy cheek? I mean, this is- you know, Christianity at its most- you know, refined. It's that you just don't act out in violence. You don't act out in any manner of hate, that you turn thy cheek, that you don't rise to the nastiness or the level of payback that your perceived enemies do. I mean, isn't this the exact opposite of what Christ taught all of us to be and to do?

JONES: I agree with you exactly. I think, most of the time, we as Christians are indeed called to turn the other cheek. I believe that, most of the time, talk and diplomacy is the correct way. But I also think that once in a while- I think you see that in the Bible- there are incidents where enough is enough and you stand up. Jesus went into the temple and he threw all of the money-changers out. He did not ask them to leave. He was not peaceful. He was at that time very, very upset. Even when this very close friend and disciple, Peter- even when he tried to stop Jesus from fulfilling his will- from fulfilling the father's will, Jesus called him the devil. Jesus called the religious leaders of that time serpents and snakes. So I agree that, most of the time, diplomacy and turning the other cheek is the proper way, but sometimes not.

CHETRY: Are you- you don't care- I mean, yes or no- you don't really care if you're offending Muslims by burning the Koran, right? That doesn't bother you if they're offended?

JONES: We realize that we are definitely offending them, yes.

CHETRY: Okay. So I want to ask you this: does it bother you though-

JONES: But we actually think that Muslims should-

CHETRY: I just want to ask you this: does it bother you that the military and the military leaders believe that by doing this, you are very likely putting the risk- the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk in Muslim countries? David Petraeus, the general- this is what he said: 'Their actions will in fact jeopardize the safety of young men and women who are serving in uniform over here, and also undermine the very mission that they're trying to accomplish.' Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?

JONES: Yeah, we are actually very, very concerned, of course, and we are taking the general's words very serious. We are continuing to pray about the action on September 11th. We are indeed very concerned about it. It's just that we don't know- I mean, how long do we back down? When do we stop backing down?

CHETRY: So you're saying that you very might- you're saying that you might well go through with this? You're saying that you're praying about it, you may not burn the Koran on September 11th?

JONES: I'm saying that we are definitely praying about it. We have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely praying about it. But like I said, I mean, how long- I mean, when does America stand for truth? I mean, instead of us being blamed for what other people will do or might do, why don't we send a warning to them? Why don't we send a warning to radical Islam and say- look, don't do it.

CHETRY: Well, I'm not questioning-

JONES: If you attack us- if you attack us, we will attack you.

CHETRY: I am not questioning your intelligence, but I am wondering if you thought through the consequences of doing this, of what may happen, and whether or not you'll end up doing far more harm than good?

JONES: We are definitely doing that. We are definitely weighing the situation. We are weighing the thing that we're about to do, what it possibly could cause, what is our actual message, what are we trying to get across, how important is that to us right now- that is very, very important that America wakes up. It's very important that our president wakes up. It's very important that we see the real danger of radical Islam. That's what we're talking about. Actually, everyone should be in agreement with us.

CHETRY: All right. We have to go.

JONES: There should be no disagreement there. We are not against Muslims. We're not against the mosque. We're against the radical element of Islam. Even moderate Muslims should be on our side.

CHETRY: No moderate Muslim is going to be on your side when you're burning their holy book. I mean, that just sounds silly.

JONES: Of course, it's not silly. You can separate yourself from that-

CHETRY: You're burning their holy book. They're supposed to be on their side. I don't get that part. Listen-

JONES: You can say- we are not for the burning of the book, but we are for what this man is saying. What he is doing, we're not for that. We don't believe in burning our holy book, we don't believe in burning the Koran-

CHETRY: Just reasoning this through, don't you think you could possibly reach out to more people by not burning the Koran on September 11th?

JONES: But what he is saying- we are actually for that. We are against radical Islam. Excuse me?

CHETRY: I said, don't you think you could possibly do more good about bringing attention to your concerns about radical Islam by not burning the Koran on September 11th, by saying, you know what? We're going to take the higher road here- we're not going to do this?

JONES: At this time, no.

CHETRY: All right.

JONES: I believe that we are dealing with an element that you cannot talk to. We are dealing with an element- they must be shown a certain amount of force, a certain amount of determination, and putting a stop to it.

CHETRY: That doesn't sound like the Christianity most of us were taught, but, you know what? I thank you for your time and your perspective this morning. Dr. Terry Jones, thanks for being with us.

JONES: Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center