March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Bernero denounces planned Lansing visit by “despicable” pastor Terry Jones

Thursday, Aug. 11 — Controversial pastor Terry Jones is planning a Lansing visit, but he won’t be welcomed by Mayor Virg Bernero.

“The citizens of Lansing and the great state of Michigan categorically reject the hate-filled rhetoric spewed by this despicable individual,” Bernero said today in a statement. reported Wednesday that Jones will hold a rally on the Capitol steps on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. The planned location happens to be in plain view of Bernero’s ninth-floor City Hall office.

“Everything he represents runs counter to the values of tolerance and diversity that are the bedrock of our community and our state. Decent people of all faiths find his tactics and his views to be utterly abhorrent. He most certainly is not welcome in our capital city,” Bernero said.

Terry and Sylvia Jones are senior pastors of the Dove World Outreach Center, based in Gainesville, Fla. The church’s website claims it’s an “apostolic church with a world vision.”

But it’s more widely known for declaring Sept. 11, 2010 “International Burn a Koran Day.” The church has a sign on its property that reads “Islam is of the devil” to “expose Islam for what it is. It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to mascarade (sic) itself as a religion of peace, seeking to deceive our society,” the church’s website says.

Bernero conceded that Jones’ speech is protected by the First Amendment, so long as it doesn’t incite violence. “If he comes to Lansing, we will not hesitate to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law for any actions that violate state or federal laws or our local ordinances,” Bernero said.

Bernero also said he’s planning to stage a counter event similar to the diversity celebration staged in 2006 to counter a neo-Nazi rally at the Capitol.