''Quran-burning'' pastor Terry Jones moving to Fort Myers

2:41 PM, Aug 16, 2011   |    comments
Rev. Terry Jones
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Fort Myers, Florida -- Dove Outreach Center made international headlines and received widespread criticism in recent years for its anti-Islamic views. Now the 30-member church based in Gainesville is expecting to make Fort Myers its new home.

The church's senior pastor Terry Jones said the church's property in Gainesville has been under contract for two or three months and once the property sells, the majority of the church's members will make the move to Fort Myers.

"Fort Myers is 100 percent," he said. "We are pretty sure we are going to do that. It should be in October or November."

Last year, Jones thrust himself and the church onto the world stage when he announced he was planning to burn the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 2001 terrorists attacks. Reporters and photographers flocked to Gainesville to cover the event, which Jones dubbed International Burn a Quran Day.

Photo Gallery: Florida pastor threatens to burn Quran

Jones received pleas from around the country to cancel the planned burning. President Barack Obama even asked for the burning to be cancelled because it could put soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in danger.

That burning didn't happen, but the church did hold an International Judge the Quran Day on March 20. During that church event, Jones sat as the judge and his church held a mock trial for the Quran.

After finding the text guilty of three charges, it participated in the burning. Jones said the church's charges included the training and promoting of terrorist activities around the world, the death and rape of people worldwide and crimes against women, minorities and Christians.

A video of the burning was posted on YouTube and sparked outrage in Afghanistan. There were at least 20 people killed in ensuing riots. Seven of those were United Nations workers killed when a mob laid siege to a U.N. compound.

The church also made headlines in 2009 when it posted a sign that read "Islam is of the devil." The church's website sells hats, mugs, T-shirts with the slogan and a book with that name written by Jones. The website describes the church as a New Testament non-denominational church that condemns abortion and same sex marriage.

Jones said he expects about 20 of the church's 30 members to make the move to Fort Myers. He cited several reasons for the move, including wanting to be further south and Gainesville being "a small town with a small town, closed minded mentality."

He said the recent downturn in the housing market makes Fort Myers a buyer-friendly area.

"My wife and I spent a few days down there on our honeymoon, and we've been there several times since," he said. Jones acknowledged his church received a lot of negative publicity in the past couple years, and admits the church's beliefs weren't as accepted in Gainesville. He said he thinks Fort Myers will be a more welcoming environment.

"We're not concerned about that," he said. "We think the community will welcome and accept us."

Last year, Jones had expressed interest in moving his congregation to St. Petersburg.

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