Easier to exclude religious materials

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 15 2014 | 10:58 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:37 am in

The title for Pastor John Sheda’s March 3 screed, “Extreme reaction to Bible complaint,” is revealing and unintentionally ironic. A more truthful choice would be “Extreme reaction to removal of Bible from a public facility.”

As an atheist, I am not offended by the presence of a Gideon’s Bible in any private lodging I rent. As a taxpayer of a secular nation, I do take offense if a public entity only stocks the Christian Bible, while not offering up the Koran, the Talmud, Bhagavid Gita, the works of the Buddha or the Satanist’s scriptures.

Sheda, a tax-financed entity must respect any faith that wants representation on public-financed spaces if one faith demands so. It is far easier, as Iowa State University did, to prevent the implied endorsement of any one religion by excluding all references to all religions. That does not diminish your freedom; it does protect my freedom, and that of believers in faiths that differ from yours.

Consider, Sheda: It takes the same kind of courage for an American citizen to exclaim, “I am Christian,” as it does for an Iranian citizen to trumpet, “I am Shi’a Muslim.” Do you really want to travel the theocratic road traversed by the Islamic Republic of Iran? Do I need to see you and like-minded Christians as a threat to my freedom?

Jeff Klinzman



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