Nightly News | September 08, 2010
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: A Southern pastor with a small following suddenly has people all over the world following his plans. That's because he has pledged to burn a copy of the Quran this weekend despite a number of people, including his own government, pleading with him not to. There are a lot of issues at work here: religion and free speech, deep anger and recent American history among them. And we begin tonight with NBC 's Kerry Sanders , who has spoken with the pastor in Gainesville , Florida . Kerry , good evening.
KERRY SANDERS reporting: Well good evening, Brian . Despite those calls from the highest levels of the US government , the pastor here says he is not backing down. On the anniversary of September 11th he plans to take the Islamic holy book and burn it, burn the Quran . Pastor Terry Jones says he has more than 200 Qurans , and he claims a message from God to pile them up and burn them Saturday.
Mr. TERRY JONES: It is by no means a stunt. We have thought this out. We have prayed this -- prayed this through. We believe that this type of message is right now very, very necessary in America before it's too late.
SANDERS: The church's associate pastor ...
Unidentified Man #1: It's a Smith Wesson .40 caliber.
SANDERS: ...says he's now armed after hundreds of e-mails from around the world flooded the church's inbox. Messages like, "swear by almighty God , I will slay the church pastor Terry Jones in front of the church's door."
Unidentified Man #2: Please step away from the door.
Unidentified Man #3: You can give your information. I can...
SANDERS: The Dove World Outreach Center sits alongside a cow pasture in rural Gainesville , Florida . The congregation here numbers less than 50. And while this afternoon their leader said he is undeterred...
Mr. JONES: We have no intention of canceling.
SANDERS: ...Pastor Jones admits he's never read the Quran , but takes no responsibility if burning it leads to an attack on a US soldier .
Mr. JONES: Of course we would -- yeah, we would feel terrible. We are not responsible for that. I mean, why don't we point the finger at where it belongs? Don't point the finger at us. Why don't we point the finger at them, the people who did it.
SANDERS: Some Christians and Muslims came to the church here today to urge the pastor to reconsider.
Imam MUHAMMAD MUSRI (Islamic Society of Central Florida): This isolated incident should not change the impression of the world, especially the Muslim world , about how great America is.
SANDERS: While a city ordinance allows for campfires, officials say books are considered a hazardous material because of their ink.
Corporal TSCHARNA SENN (Gainesville Police Department): The way that the fire department describes it is that the ink in the book itself, it doesn't matter what book it is, the ink in that book itself is what makes it a violation.
SANDERS: The local fire department is on alert. And while they will not reveal their tactics, they say they will not let the church violate the law.
Brian: Kerry Sanders in Gainesville , Florida , tonight starting us off. Kerry ,