October 24, 2007
For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC) Today Humanists reacted to the news that several Oklahoma lawmakers refused to accept copies of the Quran, which were offered as gifts from the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. Even though many had welcomed copies of the Bible that had been given them earlier in the year, some were publicly sending back their Qurans.
“When government officials embrace the holy text of one religion and scoff at the holy text of the next, it creates an appearance of religious favoritism that abuses their public role,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
Lawmakers stated qualms about the violence depicted and advocated within the Quran as justification for their disparate treatment; State Rep. Rex Duncan announced that he refused his copy because the Quran advocated “killing innocent women and children.” However, when the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma gave copies of the Bible to Oklahoma lawmakers this past spring, Rep. Duncan said of the gift, “It’s one of the nicest things I’ve received in my three years in the Legislature.”
“It’s remarkable how few holier-than-thou politicians have even read the Bible that they claim to hold such faith in. Rep. Duncan would apparently be surprised to learn that the violence he abhors in the Quran–particularly violence against women and children–also appears throughout the Bible,” continued Speckhardt.
Many passages in the Bible contain and advocate violence. For example, Ezekiel 9:5-6 says: “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and woman…” Several other passages likewise specifically depict the slaughter of innocents. (See www.americanhumanist.org/press/Biblequotes.php for more quotes. Also see www.americanhumanist.org/press/Quranquotes.php for quotes from the Quran.)
“It doesn’t make sense to reject one text for violence when you embrace another that’s similarly bloody,” concluded Speckhardt. “Humanists don’t take issue with assertions that the Quran contains violence–clearly it does. But there’s something dishonest in the rejection of the Quran for violence while implicitly condoning the violence within the Bible. To do this in their capacity as public servants amounts to an inappropriate bias for one religion over another. To avoid this situation, public officials should either accept similar holy texts out of respect for their constituents, or reject them both.”
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Founded in 1941, the American Humanist Association is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation with over 100 local affiliates. The AHA is dedicated to ensuring a voice for those with a positive nontheistic outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.