Pastor apologizes, will remove sign disrespecting Koran

FOREST CITY, N.C. (BP)--After receiving volumes of negative feedback over a sign carrying a disrespectful message about the Koran outside the church where he is pastor, Creighton Lovelace has apologized for his actions and says he will remove the sign.

In a statement released May 25, Lovelace said he "did not realize how people of the Muslim faith view the Koran -- that devoted Muslims view it more highly than many in the U.S. view the Bible."

"Now I realize how offensive this is to them, and after praying about it, I have chosen to remove the sign," he said. "I apologize for posting that message and deeply regret that it has offended so many in the Muslim community."

Creighton is pastor of Danieltown Baptist Church in Rutherford County, N.C., which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The portable display in front of the church read, "The Koran needs to be flushed."

The sign was an apparent reference to a Newsweek article, since retracted, that alleged that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had placed copies of Islam's holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. The article incited deadly riots in Afghanistan and caused large protests in Muslim countries around the world.

In his apology, Creighton said his intentions were only to remind people of the importance of the Bible, not to disrespect another religion's holy book.

"I firmly believe that the Bible is God's Word -- that it is indeed the only divine written revelation from God," he said. "I also firmly believe that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation available to mankind.

"Today, I believe these truths more than ever before.

"When I posted the sign in front of the church, it was my intent only to affirm and exalt the Bible and its teachings," he added. "It was certainly not my intent to insult any people of faith, but instead to remind the people in this community of the preeminence of God's Word."

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, expressed disapproval of the sign May 24, noting that Southern Baptists seek to relate to Muslims in a respectful manner conducive to the mutual sharing of beliefs. Chapman also made clear that Southern Baptist churches do not function within a denominational hierarchy but act on their own authority as autonomous bodies.


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