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.