In an interview with controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith doubted whether or not Muslim extremism was really a threat: "Would you regard radical Islam, then, as the enemy?"
While Jones' plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 has been rightfully condemned as offensive and an unnecessary provocation, Smith's response of questioning the danger of Islamic radicalism altogether denies the ideological motivation of America's enemies. After Jones described receiving threats over his planned event, Smith responded by quoting scripture: "...you're a student of the New testament, I'm sure. Did not Jesus say you're to love your enemy?"
After Jones continued to defend the burning of the Muslim religious text, Smith again cited the Bible: "But there are at least two different times in Matthew and Luke where Jesus is quite, quite clear about loving – about loving your enemy." Concluding the interview, Smith commented: "Well, I know you say you've been praying about it. And I hope that you find the wisdom in order to do the right thing, as the next couple of days unfold."
In the past, Smith has not been so quick to tout Christian theology. On the September 6, 2005 Early Show, Smith fretted over Christian charities forcing religion on victims of Hurricane Katrina in an interview with Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren: "...if I'm a family, am, do I need to be concerned that I'm going to go live with a church family, are they going to proselytize me, are they going to say, 'you better come to church with me or else, I'm, you know, you're not going to get your breakfast this morning'?"
On Tuesday, Smith lumped opposition of the Ground Zero mosque in with Jones: "...you've heard about...the controversy near Ground Zero...the proposed building of an Islamic cultural center there. And there have been all kinds of people protesting this and one of them is a preacher from down in Florida, who has really been on the march on this. And he has promised to burn a Koran on the anniversary – on the 9/11 anniversary." During the Wednesday interview, footage rolled of people protesting the mosque in New York City while Jones discussed burning the Koran.
Here is a full transcript of Smith's September 8 interview with Jones:
7:00AM ET TEASE:
HARRY SMITH: Koran controversy. A Florida minister's plans to burn the holy book condemned by the U.S. government and others. But Pastor Terry Jones insists he will set fire to the Koran on September 11th. We'll talk to the man at the center of the controversy.
7:07AM ET SEGMENT:
HARRY SMITH: This morning a Florida minister refuses to back down in the face of worldwide outrage. The Reverend Terry Jones insists he will burn a Koran this Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9/11. We're going to talk to him in a moment. But first, CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella has the latest.
KELLY COBIELLA: From his small office in Gainesville, Florida, Pastor Terry Jones hears the worldwide protests building against him. Muslims in Kabul, Afghanistan, are burning him in effigy. Fellow evangelical Christians are denouncing him.
RICHARD CIZIK [REVEREND, NEW EVANGELICAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE COMMON GOOD]: You bring dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Koran Controversy; Pastor's Burning Plan Comes Under Attack]
COBIELLA: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton singled out Jones and his plan to burn 100 copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 at a Washington dinner to observe Ramadan.
HILLARY CLINTON: I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act.
COBIELLA: Yet despite mounting pressure, this small town pastor will not budge. Jones, who keeps a gun at his side because of death threats, insists he is answering a religious calling.
TERRY JONES [PASTOR, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER]: We are speaking to radical Islam, saying we don't want them, their influence, and their Sharia law.
COBIELLA: Jones says the only thing that will change his plans is a message from God. Kelly Cobiella, CBS News, Gainesville, Florida.
SMITH: And joining us now from his church in Gainesville, Florida, is Pastor Terry Jones. Pastor Jones, good morning.
JONES: Yeah, good morning.
SMITH: So, we've got the White House, you have the Secretary of State, you have General Petraeus, you've got the VFW, among many others, saying, 'please don't do this.' Are you still determined to do it?
JONES: As of right now, we feel that this message is that important. We are still determined to do it, yes.
SMITH: Yeah. And the message being what, exactly?
JONES: Well, the message to Islam is actually the message geared towards radical Islam. We see its influence around the world. We are sending a message to them that we don't want them to do as they appear to be doing in Europe. They appear to begin as they grow in numbers, to push their agenda, to push Sharia law. What we are saying to them is that if they're in America they need to respect, honor, and obey our Constitution and not slowly try to push their agenda upon us.
[FOOTAGE OF GROUND ZERO MOSQUE PROTEST]
SMITH: Right. Would you regard, then, as radical Islam as – as your enemy?
JONES: I didn't quite understand you. Sorry.
SMITH: Would you regard radical Islam, then, as the enemy?
JONES: Oh, I think definitely. Definitely radical Islam is an enemy. I think there's also the question of how – I think sometimes we don't realize that this radical element of Islam goes deeper into the Muslim community than what we actually want to admit. To give you a small example, we had yesterday a Muslim lady came onto our property. I mean, we're here in America. We're in Gainesville, Florida. We're in a little subdivision. And a Muslim lady comes on to our property and threatens us. She says, 'if you do not stop this, there is a wrath, there is a judgment, there is a judgment coming upon you that you cannot handle.'
SMITH: Let me ask you-
JONES: That is in Gainesville, Florida.
SMITH: I understand.
JONES: And we asked the lady, is this a threat? And she says yes.
SMITH: Let me ask you this – you're a student of the New testament, I'm sure. Did not Jesus say you're to love your enemy?
JONES: Yes, definitely.
JONES: And I believe that this approach is not the normal approach, but I believe this approach is at this particular time in history very necessary. We also see times in the Bible where Jesus also got very upset.
SMITH: We understand.
JONES: Jesus went into the temple and threw all the money changers out. We feel this is definitely an exception.
SMITH: But there are at least two different times in Matthew and Luke where Jesus is quite, quite clear about loving – about loving your enemy.
JONES: Right. And that's exactly what we do. With this action here, this action here itself is not – is not supposed to be an act of love. We agree that generally that's what we do. We would reach out to Muslims in other ways.
JONES: This particular act is actually an act of warning radical Islam. It's a different type of a thing.
SMITH: Well, I know you say you've been praying about it. And I hope that you find the wisdom in order to do the right thing, as the next couple of days unfold. Pastor Terry Jones, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.
JONES: Uh-huh. Thank you.