Friday, July 22, 2005

Your Holy Book vs my Holy Book

"An unnamed Nashville (Tenn.) Metro Emergency Communication Center dispatcher was disciplined for mis-handling a call from a Muslim mosque Imam reporting that a copy of the Quran had been defaced. According to police chief Ronal Serpas, the incident should have been classified as a hate crime, and received a prompt response. Instead, an officer didn't arrive at the mosque for two hours. The chief met with Muslim leaders to express his apologies. Serpas said, "I don't have any reason to believe that someone decided not to go there for any reasons of bigotry or discrimination." He said it was simply a matter of poor call management during a busy period. He noted that some of the dispatchers may not know what the Quran is and what it means to Muslims. He didn't say what discipline the dispatcher received."

So... if a Christian Church called 9-1-1 because a Bible was defaced, would it be classified as a hate crime?
Probably not.  That would all depend on the circumstances, and the article above doesn't go into the circumstances.  If I didn't know how the defacing happened, I'd mark it up to kids being stupid.  Kids do stuff like that, often without hate or malice.

The Bible is sacred to Christians as the Holy written Word of God.  But we realize that the physical representation of that is just paper and ink.  That's why we have gazillions of them in print, and in motel room night stands, and free for downloading from the internet.  It's not the book itself that is Holy and sacred, it's the content - It's more important to Christians to have knowledge and understanding of God's Word *within us*, through learning and understanding in the Holy Spirit, than it is to worry about whether or not the cover to my Bible is falling off and my 2 year-old colored inside it.

Lots of Christians purposely "deface" their own Bibles.  We might underline important passages, we might use highlighters to emphasize scriptures we want to remember, we might use sticky flags to mark pages, we might even dog-ear pages, we write our names inside the front cover or write a note to the person we are giving the Bible to as a gift - some Bibles even have pages specifically for writing that kind of thing.

It's just a book: paper and ink.  It's the content that matters.
And, for now, we can always find that content at a bookstore, or in any church, or on the internet. 

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