Who Is Terry Jones?
No, not the one time Monty Python actor, but that individual who wishes to make a spectacle of burning the Quran, that’s who.
The TV coverage of this bizarre man hasn’t touch much on his past and I think it is useful to see where he’s coming from.
I should say that under the US Constitution Jones can burn whatever he likes, even if it is considered an offensive gesture, in poor taste and an extremely unwise move.
Most politicians, military leaders and basically anyone with two braincells to rub together thinks it is a bad move, including me, but Jones’s background reveals why he’s drawn to such flamboyant and imprudent actions.
Spiegel has more concerning his time in Germany:
“Former church members are still undergoing therapy as a result of “spiritual abuse,” Schäfer said. According to Schäfer, Jones urged church members to beat their children with a rod and also taught “a distinctive demonology” and conducted brainwashing.
“Terry Jones appears to have a delusional personality,” speculates Schäfer. When he came to Germany in the 1980s, Jones apparently considered Cologne “a city of Hell that was founded by Nero’s mother,” while he thought Germany was “a key country for the supposed Christian revival of Europe,” Schäfer says.
Terry Jones used his powers of persuasion to expand the congregation. By the end, Schäfer estimates, it numbered between 800 and 1,000 people. They had to work in the so-called “Lisa Jones Houses,” charitable institutions named after his first wife who has since died, under very poor conditions.”
Daily Politics details some of the reaction to Jones’s proposed idiocy:
“Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, this week said the plans by the Dove World Outreach Center to burn up to 200 copies of the Koran could endanger U.S. troops in the country and Americans worldwide. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the proposed book burning “disrespectful and disgraceful” at an iftar dinner for Muslims ending their daily Ramadan fast. And Attorney General Eric Holder called Jones’ plan “idiotic and dangerous.”
Even Angelina Jolie weighed in — surely a leading benchmark of media buzz. “I have hardly the words that somebody would do that to somebody’s religious book,” the 35-year-old actress told reporters in Islamabad after visiting refugees camps in flood-ravaged Pakistan. Jolie is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N.’s refugee agency.
The Guardian has more background to Jones’s previous activities:
“New recruits were drawn to the flamboyant, brash American with his trademark moustache and gangly frame. Jones, who had brought his wife, Sylvia, and their three children with him, liked to describe himself as a pioneer whose goal it was to “re-establish the kingdom of God on Earth”. He promised that he would heal people and bring new vigour and meaning to their lives.
“He was very charismatic,” said a former member of the CGK who left in the mid-2000s and identified himself only as Thomas. “How else did he manage to recruit 1,000 members? And how else do you explain that since he’s left the church’s numbers have dwindled to around 60?”
Jones had hoped to replicate the community across Europe. “His goal had been to awaken the whole of Europe,” said Schäfer. “But in truth he never got beyond Cologne.”
The sense of hope with which the community had initially garnered its members began to crumble, replaced instead by a climate of fear and control. “Spiritual abuse as well as economic and psychological dependence were run of the mill,” Schäfer added.
“He was certainly not the type of pastor who approaches everyone and looks after them,” said another former member who asked not to be named.
Among the numerous documented reports of the ways in which he used to allegedly manipulate members were demands for money, as well as complete commitment to the community. Members were reportedly forced to work in the community’s so-called Lisa Jones shops, named after his first wife, which sold and distributed secondhand clothes and furniture.
The members reportedly worked long hours, lived on next to no wages and had no health insurance despite this being required of all German employers.
Members were forced to review relationships with family and friends and in some cases to break up with partners. Parents were reportedly encouraged to beat their children because, said Jones, it was “God’s will”. “
So Jones is not an example that anyone should follow, and particularly on 9/11.
Update 1: Talking Points Memo’s Muckraker has a lot more on Jones.
Update 2: Also see the Washington Post’s SpyTalk.