Overreacting to Tearing up the Texts of ‘Holy Books’

In Islamabad, Pakistan, an 11-year-old girl with Down syndrome supposedly burned “pages of a Noorani Qaida, a booklet used to learn the basics of the Holy Quran.”

In response, Islamic protesters beat her and her mother up (the rest of the family escaped)… and local authorities sent the girl to juvenile prison.

Have I mentioned she’s 11 and has Down syndrome…? Hardly evidence of purposeful blasphemy. It doesn’t help, though, that her family is Christian and that’s a minority faith in the country.

(Even if it was blasphemy, though, who the hell cares? It’s a goddamned book. It’s a symbol that meant nothing to her. But to these religious extremists, pages of a book are worth more than a non-Muslim’s life.

It gets worse, says the website Christians in Pakistan:

The whole community is now threatened by extremists wanting to burn down the village. 2-300 people have left their homes and are in hiding due to threats from mobs declaring that they will soon attack the village.

… Around 1500 people blocked the roads around the village and burned tires wanting to attack the village…

Overreaction much?

Meanwhile, in America, the group Backyard Skeptics is meeting today at the Huntington Beach Pier in California to do something they did back in September: Tear up sheets of paper with Bible verses printed on them. (Why not actual pages from the Bible? That might provoke the wrong kind of response.)

This is what happened back in September (beginning at the 2:10 mark):

Why do it at all? Group leader Bruce Gleason explained it this way:

“[T]to demonstrate that no one can live by certain laws of the bible, and that many verses in the bible are immoral or just plain silly and should not be approved of in today’s modern culture,”

As examples, Gleason’s [press] release asks, “Should a woman who was raped be forced to marry her rapist? Should children be stones for insubordination? Should non-virgins be killed on their wedding night?

“Both the Old Testament and New Testament have laws that no good Christian would live by without being thrown in jail.”

It’s blasphemy designed to make a point (even though most people won’t see it like that at all).

Incidentally, if Christians wanted to really capitalize on this, all they would have to do is say they support Gleason’s group’s right to free speech even if they disagree with his actions. They would come out as winners in the world of PR.

But they would never do that.

At least Gleason won’t be arrested for this.

Just like the Pussy Riot saga shows, as bad as things are in America, it can be so much worse for religious minorities in other countries.

(Thanks to @ylaenna for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • SwedishSJ

    If anything, the treatment of Christians in countries where they are a minority should make the theocrats of the West want to work to support the separation of church and state here in America, to question what really happens when religious privilege is abused without regard for the protections of those who practice minority faiths (or no faith at all).  But they will use it only as ammunition against Islam and play the persecution card, arguing that what happens in other countries means that they need to protect themselves by building a foundation for future theocrats to do exactly what they think is going to happen to them.

    • Miss_Beara

      They play the persecution card here, where a high percentage a people are Christians. Although the equate not getting their way as being persecuted. :-P 

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    This is what happens when religious extremists run the state. We should take note.

  • CanadianNihilist

    ” But to these religious extremists, pages of a book are worth more than a non-Muslim’s life.”

    Now lets be fair here. Even if it was an 11 year old Muslim girl with Down syndrome they would believe the pages would be worth more then her life.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Anybody who thinks violence or legal punishment is an appropriate response when inanimate objects are questioned, criticized or damaged needs to have their mental health examined–if not imprisoned themselves to protect the general populace. 

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

       Excuse me, but abusers often deliberately damage or destroy their victim’s personal belongings — that DOES require legal punishment.


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