GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Action News uncovers new information about Terry Jones and a controversial Gainesville church.
He's making headlines across the world. Dr. Terry Jones is the senior pastor from a small church, in a small town. But now he's being compared to a terrorist after announcing his plans to burn the Koran to mark September 11th. "This is a wakeup call," said Jones.
It's a wake up call, that's prompting death threats, and now Jones even carries a gun. But who is he?.....we did some digging into his past.
All you have to do is Google his name and thousands of articles come up. As we sifted through them, we found out he's a former hotel manager and worked as a missionary in a German church associated with Dove World Outreach Center. He left there when it shut down in 2008. One blog says he was forced out of the country on allegations of "tax evasion, disregard for child labor laws, and misuse of church funds."
Action News found out he's had his fair share of problems in Gainesville too. The Alachua County property appraiser did an investigation earlier this year saying the church was violating Florida law for tax exempt property by operating a non religious business at the church. Now it has to pay property taxes for some of the land, $3,100 a year. Jones is also operating a furniture business out of Gainesville called TS and Company. We even found a job posting.
The church has only been around since 1986. It was started by Don Northrup and his wife. When he passed away, Jones took over in 2001. He split his time between here and Germany. We uncovered, Northrup's wife has since left the church. She told Action News by phone, "I was not happy with the program. I think this is completely wrong," said Dolores Northrup.
We even found articles that one of Jones' kids agrees. His daughter Emma was quoted as calling the church a "cult." But even with all the media circus surrounding his small church, Jones says he still plans to burn the Koran this Saturday. "We can't back down because of fear," said Jones.
Jones has also been accused on several online blogs of using the church to profit. He even sells mugs and t-shirts on the church website, promoting his book, Islam is of the Devil. Jones says he's praying about his decision to burn the Koran and is leaving the door open to changing his plans.
The top military commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, says burning copies of the Koran will endanger Americans around the World and could incite violence.