Some of us who have been following the story about a Florida preacher's plan to burn the Quran as part of an anti-Muslim protest on 9/11 can't help but be reminded of another stunt by a different clergyman which drew publicity last year.
Last year, Marc Grizzard, the pastor of a 14-member church in Canton, N.C. announced that on Halloween 2009 his flock would burn a pile of books they considered evil.
That included every version of the Bible that wasn't the King James Version since only the KJV was "God's preserved, inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God... for English-speaking people" Grizzard said.
He and his followers also planned to burn the works of "heretics," Mother Teresa and Billy Graham.
Just as has happened with the Florida church that promises to burn the Quran, Grizzard was warned by local officials that his church could be slapped with a huge fine, in his case as high as $25,000, because book burning would violate local ordinances.
So Grizzard and his people reconsidered; they had a non-book burning party, instead shredding the Bibles and other books that drew their ire if not their fire.
The few media who showed up had to take their word for it since it all happened inside the little church. Grizzard proclaimed the event a great success. And it was. A church with a membership of 14 got world-wide publicity.
Now it's the turn of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, a church with a purported membership of 100.
By announcing his church's plan to burn the Quran, pastor Terry Jones has gotten more attention than even Grizzard, with no less than Gen. David Petraeus weighing in to urge Jones to reconsider since the backlash in the Muslim world could wind up getting some American soldiers and civilians killed. Jones has so far rebuffed Petraeus.
Doing so means the media attention should certainly continue for the rest of the week, along with the attendant protests overseas in nations with large Muslim nations.
All of this is enough to make me wonder if maybe a small North Carolina newspaper wasn't on to something when it decided to largely ignore Grizzard's stunt.
Explaining its decision, The Mountaineer of Waynesville, N.C. wrote:
As regional, national and international media outlets spread news of the coming display, Grizzard was told his plans ran afoul of state law, and by Saturday night, Grizzard's spectacle was reduced to an invitation-only book shredding for a handful of congregants while a few media outlets and protesters stood outside in the rain.
Could the weather have been a sign of divine intervention?
The promise of someone burning Bibles gets plenty of attention and raises plenty of ire, a point that we're sure wasn't lost on Grizzard when he crafted the book burning. We take comfort in the outcome and give credit to the Haywood County community that Grizzard's publicity grab passed with barely a whimper.
Grizzard told us of the book burning in September. We chose not to give this publicity stunt the attention other media outlets gave it because we felt our resources would be better spent elsewhere.