I was never quite sure why this man made it on the news. I can only assume that he was mistaken for his Monty Python namesake.
I had assumed before he first gained notoriety last year that Koran burning was a not-unheard-of activity amongst fundamentalists in the USA. I should say that I disagree with Koran burning. Not for any religious reason: if people get offended by a particular book being burned frankly they should stop being so silly. I only disagree with in on the basis that it is fairly pointless, not a good use of paper and emits carbon into the atmosphere.
Don't get me wrong, Terry Jones is a tit. A big tit. He's almost a pair of tits he's that much of a tit. But he has the right to burn a book if he wants.
"People will die because of this". True, the burning of a Koran may lead to deaths, but the moral responsibility for those deaths lies squarely on the vile human beings who kill someone (not even involved) for something as trivial as a book being burned. These people must not think their faith to be very strong if it can be threatened by a mere book burning by some fool on the other side of the world, and we can't allow ourselves to be held to ransom by them.
My attention was drawn to this article, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/apr/06/phelps-family-louis-theroux-rowan-williams by a member of the Westboro Baptist Church themselves'. To have been referred to a Guardian article by a Phelps (Jonathan to be precise) was not something I ever thought would happen. But the article itself makes rather a strange point. It acts like Rowan Williams is a staunch and vocal defender of moderate Christianity wielding Biblical quotes against his foes and silencing fundamentalists. Williams is none of these things. Williams is a man who is almost too scared to admit to having any faith at all. He fits in to the category of Christianity mostly found in the UK that has watered-down their beliefs to such an extent as to be impossible to argue against. Rowan Williams is so ludicrously moderate that he advocated using some aspects of Sharia law in the UK. So ecumenical is he desperate to appear that he actively endorses other faiths, despite the fact that the scripture of his own clearly says that everyone else is sinning.
Rowan Williams going to Westboro to interview the Phelps family would be his saying how much he respected their beliefs and concluding that as long as they sort-of believe in Jesus, or even if they don't, God will love them and everyone will be happy. Williams would say that he does not have any specific belief on homosexuality, and he agrees with both sides of the argument. They might even get him to hold a sign.
Why would Stephen Bates want to send Rowan Williams? I would much rather see Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins go and talk some sense into them.