Next day, more children from the Dove World Outreach Center arrived at area public schools with shirts bearing the anti-Islam message. One Gainesville High student, Emily Sapp, 15, another daughter of Wayne Sapps, and two Eastside High students were sent home and a student at Westwood Middle had to change clothes because of the shirt.
Is this freedom of speech? Certainly it is not. It is the abuse of the freedom of expression as guaranteed by our constitution.
According to School district staff attorney Tom Wittmer, the school district allows students to express their religious beliefs but also must protect other students, such as members of the Muslim faith, from discrimination based on their religious beliefs since there has to be equal treatment of different
"The next kid might show up with a shirt saying 'Christianity is of the Devil,'" Wittmer argued.
The Dove World Outreach Center's anti-Islam T-shirts episode came a month after the church displayed a series of hand-painted signs that read in red "Islam is of the devil." The church's website says that the signs are aimed at exposing Islam for what it is. "It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to mascarade itself as a religion of peace, seeking to deceive our society."
The church has refused to remove the hate-filled signs despite protests by the Gainesville neighborhood. Dove's Senior Pastor Terry Jones insists that the sign was "an act of saying there is only one way, and that is actually what Christianity is about. It is about pointing the people in the right direction, and that rightdirection is Jesus and only Jesus." Jones called the sign a "great
act of love."
Tellingly the Dove World Outreach Center's anti-Islam gimmicks came at a time when the church is facing serious accusations of financial irregularities and it is offered for sale. The church accepts donations and is exempt from taxes, while the senior pastors Terry and his wife, Sylvia Jones, own a for-profit enterprise.
According to Gainesville Sun, former church members who have worshiped under senior pastors Terry and Sylvia Jones are speaking out about what they describe as financial abuses at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville and its sister church in Cologne, Germany,founded by Terry Jones in 1981 and closed in 2008.
The paper says that by all accounts - the church's Web site, interviews with current and former members and Terry Jones' own description - the church in Gainesville, as was the one in Germany, is structured with a for-profit business operating out of tax-exempt church property, using the unpaid labor of church members to maintain a steady stream of merchandise for sale online.
That structure has raised questions with the Alachua County Property Appraiser's Office, which has said it will investigate the church's tax-exempt status. The value of the land and buildings located of the Dove World Outreach Center is assessed at $1.6 million and is wholly exempt from taxes.
Interestingly, entwined with the church's message is a theme stressing obedience to senior pastors and work for the Kingdom of God - a theme that persuaded one couple from Germany to work full time and uncompensated for Terry and Sylvia Jones' business, TS and Company. The business sells vintage furniture on eBay.
Terry Jones' daughter, Emma Jones, who still lives in Cologne after breaking with her parents and the church, said TS and Company, which first was established in Germany in 2004 by Terry and Sylvia Jones, fed the private coffers of her father and stepmother in Cologne.
Emma Jones and Heinz Koop - a former church elder in Germany - say church members confronted Terry and Sylvia Jones with an itemized list of alleged abuses such as a car purchased by the church for their son, salaries paid by the church for TS and Company employees and donated furniture that was sold for profit.