Dove World to be listed as a hate group

The Gainesville Sun/December 2, 2010

Dove World Outreach Center, the Gainesville church behind the "Islam is of the devil" signs and plans to burn the Quran, will be listed next year as a hate group, joining the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced this week.

"It wasn't a very hard call to be honest with you," said Mark Potok, who tracks extremism for the Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights organization and serves as editor of its magazine. "Essentially (Dove World Pastor Terry Jones) is completely over the top with his hatred of gay people and of Muslims."

In the latest issue of the SPLC publication, the church was featured with 17 other small groups around the country that "pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities."

SPLC noted Dove World's anti-gay stances, including its "No homo Mayor" signs during the city's spring elections and its joining with the controversial Westboro Baptist Church - a small Kansas church that protests military funerals and other denominations - when that church was in town in April.

"I don't know of any other group at all that has demonstrated alongside the Westboro Baptist Church," Potok said.

Dove World will become the third Gainesville-based hate group on the SPLC's list, joining an Imperial Klans of America chapter and a skinhead group called The Hated. Others listed include the Nation of Islam, the Jewish Defense League and Westboro.

Jamal Alshaer, the former interim director of the Islamic Center of Gainesville, said Dove World qualifies for the list.

"They hate their fellow human beings for simply having their own religions and having their own beliefs," Alshaer said. "I'm sure we have more respect for Jesus as Muslims than they do when we don't use Jesus to promote hate and prejudice."

In the wake of "International Burn a Koran Day," which brought Dove World international attention, Jones says he plans to take his show on the road, touring the country under the banner of Stand Up America, an organization that is meant to "encourage Americans and the Church to stand up," according to its website,

In an e-mail interview with The Sun, Jones acknowledged that his church was "not received well in Gainesville."

In November, New York's Daily News reported that Jones said a number of his followers had left the church because "they are not interested in the truth," though it was not clear how many had left. Around the time of the promised Quran burning, there were about 30 members.

But, Jones wrote to The Sun, "We do believe that our message will be received, in America, very well."

Last month, Jones was back in front of the cameras - though considerably fewer than in early September - standing in the bed of a truck that on its tailgate depicted the flames and smoke billowing from the World Trade Center's twin towers and read, "Everything I needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11."

The event was among the first of what Jones said will be a number of anti-Islam rallies across the country as the church - vilified by many residents here - eyes a move to the Tampa area.

"As we have just seen in the last elections, most of the country feels that our country is going in the wrong direction," Jones wrote in the interview. "Stand Up America is about encouraging them to stand up and speak out."

The 20-acre church property at 5805 NW 37th St. has been on the market for more than a year and had been listed for nearly $4 million. In October, the figure was down to $2.6 million. On Wednesday, it was going for $1.2 million.

Nevertheless, Jones wrote that he plans to be in Los Angeles on Dec. 11 in front of the office of the Egyptian consulate general on Wilshire Boulevard, where he will "demand that Christians and Christian churches be given the same freedom to worship in Egypt as Muslims have in the United States."

One of the first tests of taking the message on the road didn't go well.

A rally at the Tampa Convention Center on Oct. 10 drew 10 people, the St. Petersburg Times reported in a four-paragraph story about the event.

"The attendance was very disappointing," Jones wrote. "We can only contribute this to the fact that this is the very sad condition of our Church here in America. As I have said before, your average Christian is not interested in anything except those things that concerns himself."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.