Oklahoma: Koran Controversy

From an AP Article in the New York Times, October 26, 2007:

Several Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Koran to a state panel on diversity after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent people. The books were given to Oklahoma’s 149 senators and representatives by the panel, the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. At least 24 legislators, including Representative Rex Duncan, a Republican, have notified the panel they will return the gift. Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, chairwoman of the council and a Muslim, denounced Mr. Duncan’s assessment of Islam. “I know he referred to Islam as an ideology,” Ms. Seirafi-Pour said. “That is not a fact. It is a religion. It is very peaceful, very inclusive.”

Another article I read in the Des Moines Register said that Duncan researched the Koran (Qu’ran) on the internet.

I’d suggest that Mr. Duncan also return his copy of the Holy Bible. This Holy Book also advocates killing of people. Granted, the Holy Bible does not advocate killing innocent people. Consider the following:

  • In Exodus 19: Moses is told to tell the people that anyone who touches Mt. Sinai shall be put to death.
  • In Exodus 21: anyone who strikes a mother or father shall be put to death.
  • In Exodus 21: whoever curses mother or father shall be put to death. (Also Leviticus 20)
  • In Exodus 21: if your ox has gored a human before, and you do not control the animal, and it kills someone, you shall be put to death … along with the animal.
  • In Exodus 31: anyone who works on the Sabbath shall be put to death.
  • In Leviticus 19: if a man has sexual relations with a slave woman, both are to be put to death.
  • In Leviticus 20: if a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both shall be put to death.
  • In Leviticus 20: if a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both shall be put to death.
  • In Leviticus 20: if a man has sexual relations with another man, both shall be put to death
  • In Leviticus 20: a medium or wizard shall be put to death.
  • In Leviticus 24: anyone who blasphemes shall be put to death.
  • In Numbers: any outsider who approaches the tent of the tabernacle shall be put to death.
  • In Deuteronomy: any prophet who divines by dreams shall be put to death

That’s all “Old Testament” stuff? How about the words of Jesus? While not killing, this is something from the mouth of Jesus that Mr. Duncan’s constituents certainly would not approve of.

  • Matthew 10: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Mr. Duncan and the Oklahoma lawmakers need to understand that it is a good thing to be familiar with the teachings of a wide variety of religions, Islam included. Just as in the Bible there is the important matter of interpretation, so too with the Qur’an. Too bad they can’t step up and learn something about this particular faith finding considerable adherents across our nation … including Oklahoma.

The reality is any faith making exclusive claims provides significant challenges within a multicultural society. It is the job of those elected to represent the people to be able to represent all citizens. One cannot do that without learning something about those who are different from yourself.

Am I selling out? I’m a Christian pastor. I believe that Jesus is Lord. No, I’m not selling out. I learn about Islam so that I’m not engaged in stereotype dialogue and can actually engage in helpful and important conversation with people who hold a different faith. The bar is even higher for elected representatives.

Pondering Pastor

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6 responses to “Oklahoma: Koran Controversy

  1. Very well put. I support my Duncan’s constitutional right to be an obstreperious jerk, but I cannot condone it.

  2. What version of the bible have you been reading that ‘does not advocate the killing of innocent people’???

    This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ 1st Sam 15:2-3

    And Elisha went up from thence unto Bethel and as he was going by the way, there came forth little children out of the city and mocked him and said to him, go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he looked back, and looked on them, and curesed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. II King 2: 23-24

    For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. – Exodus 31:15

    If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods …do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. – Deut 13:7

    Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. – Lev 24:16

    All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. – Leviticus 20:9

    Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. – Isaiah 13

    Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open. – Hosea 13

    Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. – Numbers 31

  3. In any other cirumstance, I would agree with you. However, Islam is not a peaceful religion. Mohammed lead conquering armies, killed people, engaged in forced conversions, had sex with a 9 yo (with a girl that was betrothed to him when she was 5), so he was a pedophile. Muslims, many with whom I am friends, have a great example to look to for violence and intolerance. As I am sure, nowhere did Jesus call for people to be killed, did he kill people, or engage in forced conversions. So…at its core, Islam is just not a peaceful religion. There are many, many peaceful Muslims in spite of many of Mohammed’s teachings.

  4. Some interesting comments, however …

    Diana, I agree with your examples and have cited many of them in the blog. The reality is that the Bible does not see these people as “innocents”. They have done something to offend God, and so deserve death. That is how the Bible does not condone killing of innocents (but in reality, neither does the Qur’an.)

    Steve, most of Islam is peaceful. Joshua lead conquering armies and pillaged the land. There were forced conversions … forced circumcision. Read Matthew 10:34 again.

    My point is that any religion can be characterized in any particular way if we do not know the religion well. We’ve demonized Islam. It is no different than suggesting that Westboro Baptist Church represents all Christians.

    Pondering Pastor

  5. It’s your definition of “innocent” that’s frightening, Pondering. Guilty means “anyone who disagrees with us.”

  6. I agree Rog.

    And, lets not forget that Jesus was completely Jewish. He did not wish to be separated from Jewish Law:

    Matthew 5:17-19

    5:17
    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
    5:18
    I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
    5:19
    Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    No free pass for Jesus. He condones the violence of the old Testament. Therefore he is a man of violence – not peace. This is where Jesus loses my respect.

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