Media darling Pastor Terry Jones from Gainesville brings his act to Tampa this weekend

No.  Jones isn't going away.  In fact, he'll be coming to Tampa this weekend, in the first stop of a national tour that will take place at 7:30 Sunday night at the Tampa Convention Center.

From today's Tampa Tribune:

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center said he hopes his "Stand Up America" event encourages Christians to take action for their beliefs.

"We're challenging churches to stand up for what they believe in," Jones said this morning. "If it's against abortion, hold a protest. Don't complain about the government or how it's run, write your congressman."

The pastor said he will cover a broad range of topics. Islam, he said, will definitely be one of them.

"It's not as it was during International Burn a Koran Day," Jones said. "But it will always be an issue."

And there's more good news.  Jones is promising (threatening?) to bring his act permanently to Tampa.

Jones said he is also confident that he will be able to sell his sanctuary and surrounding property in Gainesville so he can move his church to the Tampa Bay area by the end of the year.

"That's still a go," Jones said. "We haven't found a location yet. We're in the process of looking. But maybe the rally will open doors for us."

Or maybe it won't?  Although various commentators had a field day (and still do, as this was a hot topic at a reporters workshop held in Tallahassee two weeks ago) about the media overplaying Jones' stunt, the fact was that once David Petraeus announced on Labor Day that he hoped the Pastor wouldn't burn Korans, and when Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Jones up personally days later to tell him that directly, the story was unavoidable.

But no doubt the collective media were being played, intentionally or not by Jones, who was given a gigantic megaphone to spew his negative feelings about Islam.

But should local media send reporters out to cover Jones this Sunday night?  Probably, though it doesn't feel very good.

During the height of the Jones/burning Koran controversy last month, the Associated Press said that they would not show any Koran burnings.

Tom Kent with the AP sent out a memo at the time, writing that if the burning were to take place,

“The A.P. will not distribute images or audio that specifically show Korans being burned, and will not provide detailed text descriptions of the burning,” he wrote. “With the exception of these specific images and descriptions, we expect to cover the Gainesville event, in all media, placing the actions of this group of about 50 people in a clear and balanced context.”

It all seems like so long ago, doesn't it?

After the controversy over a proposed Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan near Ground Zero blew up in August, national media started reporting on other incidents of Islamaphobia.

One incident mentioned during that time took on a life of its own as the ninth year anniversary of 9/11 approached last month - that being a report that a pastor of a small church in Gainesville intended on burning Korans, the Muslims holy book.

You know the rest.  Much of the national and even international media descended upon Gainesville in the days leading up to September 11, so much so that by the Thursday before the planned Saturday event, the narrative changed from "Who is this crazy guy?" into "Why the hell has the media gone whole hog in covering him?"

Perhaps the best example of that changed perspective occurred on the actual day in question (in which Jones played all of the press for fools by ultimately deciding not to burn anything, but instead go up to New York City and go on The Today Show), was when the St. Pete Times placed a story on the media circus on their front page, written by Eric Deggans, yet buried reporter Alexandra Zayas story about the (admittedly non) event in the middle of the front section of the paper.

So, thanks for being part of what political pundit Mark Halperin years ago called "The Freak Show," Mr. Jones.  Take care, have a nice life.


Since 1988, CL Tampa Bay has served as the free, independent voice of Tampa Bay, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming a CL Tampa Bay Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today because you love us, too.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.