On September 11, members of the Dove World Outreach Center -- a Gainesville, Florida church -- plan to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The protest is just the latest in a series of provocative actions from the self-described "New Testament Church," which seems as interested in getting attention as it is in sharing the Word with the world. Unfortunately, their plan seems to have worked -- and local investigators began probing the church's tax-exempt status last year after reports that Dove World Outreach Center is essentially a scam.
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The church, which was founded in 1986, has long been controversial in Gainesville. The Koran-burning protest is just the latest in a string of high-profile "protests on other issues, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion," Religion News Service reports. But it seems clear that taking on Muslims is the one of the church's central goals. The church's leader, Dr. Terry Jones -- who before heading up the Dove World Outreach Center ran a sister church in Cologne, Germany -- has published a book entitled "Islam is of the Devil" and last year posted a large sign outside his church that offered passing commuters the same message. Last year, members sent their kids to public schools wearing "Islam Is Of The Devil" t-shirts (the students were sent home, creating more headlines.) The church's website features a number of videos where Jones takes on Islam as...well, you can probably guess.
But as the Gainesville Sun reported last year, there is one thing Jones likes doing more than burning books -- and that's making money. Sun reporter Megan Rolland delved into the church's numerous for-profit business interests and found a church that local officials say may be violating its tax-exempt status.