Update 11:38 a.m. 3/29 — The Gainesville Sun reported that the city Plan Board unanimously approved a proposal allowing Spirit of Faith Christian Center to move onto Dove World Outreach Center’s property with plans to expand. The Spirit of Faith Christian Center is still in negotiations to buy the property.
Original Story – The Dove World Outreach Center, a Gainesville-based church that has sparked international controversy, may be moving out of town. The church is well known for its flagrant anti-Islam message, projected in inflammatory acts like Koran burnings and anti-Mohammed Internet videos.
The church’s 20-acre property in northwest Gainesville, next to Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, has been on the market for a while, but a price agreement has been reached with the Spirit of Faith Christian Center and the sale is proceeding, according to Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center.
Jones said the church is looking to relocate to Tampa Bay. He says the larger area would be good for the political organization he has founded, Stand Up America Now.
“We’ve definitely impacted the Gainesville community,” Jones said. “I mean we’ve impacted the world, of course, with all our speaking out concerning radical Islam.”
Gainesville residents learned through Jones’ stay here that even offensive speech is protected, said Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project and a professor at the University of Florida. He said Jones has been very good at “pushing buttons” and testing the limits of free speech without crossing the line into unprotected speech. The First Amendment would not protect a true threat or incitement to violence.
Based on reactions abroad to Terry Jones’ videos, Calvert said, “Our principles of free speech do not travel well overseas.”
Calvert said he doesn’t think many people would be upset to see him leave Gainesville, but “just because he might leave and go away doesn’t mean there won’t be somebody else who pops up in his place.”