God's Politics

God's Politics


Karl Barth Belongs in Prison (by Kevin Lum)

posted by God's Politics

Before coming to Sojourners to serve as the congregational coordinator, I had the unique opportunity to teach Protestant faith formation classes at Leavenworth federal prison in Kansas. Leavenworth was experimenting with a program called Life Connections that allowed Muslims, Christians, and adherents of a variety of faith traditions the opportunity to live together in community and participate in spiritual formation. Participants had the opportunity to deepen their own faith and, at the same time, build trust and friendships with people from other faiths.


I will never forget arriving at the “Big House” for the first time. I approached the ominous guard tower, announced myself, and ascended the long staircase toward the prison entrance. There is something unsettling about the first time you hear the door click behind you. Yet the biggest surprise was not the unsettling confinement, but the students I was about to meet. I had great plans for imparting my superior knowledge of Christian faith and its life implications to the program participants. But when I arrived, I realized that the awaiting class would not only be students, but they would be fellow dialogue partners on the Christian journey. In particular, I was impressed by their knowledge of church history, theology, and the ability of one student to quote Thomas à Kempis.


The participants, who would soon become friends, had amassed an incredible knowledge of the Christian faith and its history from an extensive religious library in the prison. I was a little jealous of their selection. That’s why I am outraged this week to read the following in The New York Times:



Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries.


The Bureau of Prisons has created a list of acceptable religious books from various faiths and excluded all others. In the name of cleansing the library of radical beliefs, some of the greatest Christian authors have been removed. Who are some of the purged authors? Karl Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Cardinal Avery Dulles, just to name a few. Additionally, the Bureau of Prisons has refused to pay for re-stocking the libraries after the purge, leaving many religious libraries near empty.


In our world and especially in a prison system, where religious faith often seems to divide, my friends in Life Connections, assisted by their extensive religious library, deepened not only their faith but had a profound and positive impact upon Leavenworth federal prison. The purging of religious books from a federal institution hampers not only the discipleship of prisoners, but it should cause us to pause and ask ourselves how this happened in the name of freedom and safety.

Kevin Lum is the congregational network coordinator for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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Donny

posted September 14, 2007 at 10:48 am


This is happening because of the secular progressives (Humanists) YOU SOJOUNERS sponsor. You have fed this secular liberal beast for decades and now you decry it?



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CRP

posted September 14, 2007 at 11:06 am


“cleansing the library of radical beliefs”
Given the authors’ names, these “radicals” are only threatening to those in power. Hardly a liberal idea. It sounds more reactionary.



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Ray

posted September 14, 2007 at 11:18 am


Ata boy, Donny!!! I’m sure Lum would not be at all outraged if they purged authors like Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson, Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, or Hal Lindsey.
By the way, I’m not for this purging at all either. If some of these books are truly helping the prisoners, and they don’t cause disruption to prison regulations, then they should indeed be available.



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squeaky

posted September 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm


“This is happening because of the secular progressives (Humanists) YOU SOJOUNERS sponsor. You have fed this secular liberal beast for decades and now you decry it?”
What an ironic statement. If anything, secular progressives are AGAINST censorship of any stripe.



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Steven Watkins

posted September 14, 2007 at 12:11 pm


Great article! Too bad no seems to understood it, instead they take pot shots at liberal christians. Good job guys! It’s as if we’re not on the same team. I guess guys like barth not only scare prison wardens but also other christians. “Let’s keep them damn prisoners from thinkin.” I can just hear it out of GW’s mouth.



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Moderatelad

posted September 14, 2007 at 12:25 pm


What an ironic statement. If anything, secular progressives are AGAINST censorship of any stripe.
Not in education they’re not. OK – not all educators are into censorship – but there are a significant percentage that will gladdly get rid of a classic for something more outragious. It took two years to remove a book from one of our elementaries libraries that talked (encouraged) about a 4th girls dating an 8th grade boy and during her first ‘make-out’ session with him – she got ‘wet’.
This came recommended from one of the education specialists in our district as good reading for 3rd thru 6th grade students.
I question an author that would write such a book aimed at elementary students. (dare I say ‘perv’)
The whole area of what is ‘approiate’ is truly skewed in many areas of our soceity.
Blessings -
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 14, 2007 at 12:27 pm


From the NYT article:
The lists “show a bias toward evangelical popularism and Calvinism,” [Tim Larsen] said, and lacked materials from early church fathers, liberal theologians and major Protestant denominations.
Just as I suspected — just enough authoritarian religion to “clean people up” but nothing to change the conditions that brought them to prison in the first place. Some of us Christians still don’t get that “moral reform” is not the first priority of the Christian life.



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kevin s.

posted September 14, 2007 at 12:43 pm


According to the article, they had already taken step of removing books by nine publishers that we considered offensive. I wonder what prompted this additional step? I agree with the source that says this is like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 14, 2007 at 1:24 pm


Our self-styled land of the free has 25% of the imprisoned population of the entire world, although we have only 5% of the world’s population.
What kind of a world would one made in the image of Christian America be?
“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage,
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.”
Not no longer. We live by Linda Lovelace, not poet Richard Lovelace, and our brutal pornographic culture seeks to make a cage for minds as well as bodies.



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Anonymous

posted September 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm


“If anything, secular progressives are AGAINST censorship of any stripe.”
Tell that to Guillermo Gonzalez.



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Richard

posted September 14, 2007 at 4:23 pm


Hey Kevin,
I didn’t realize that you landed at Sojo…it’s not surprising though. I thought this was an excellent article. Barth certainly does belong in prision (ironically, he was quite close to actually ending up in prision – I’m sure sending the Barmen Declaration directly to Hitler wasn’t the safest move one might make.)
Keep up the good work…and if you’re ever back in the KC area shoot me an email.
Blessings in Christ ~ RLS



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Ted Michael Morgan

posted September 14, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Does anyone know how to access lists of books approved by the BOP? I have not been able to find which books the BOP allows.



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Ted Michael Morgan

posted September 14, 2007 at 4:40 pm


What works are approved for the BOP list? I have not read the titles of any works approved for prisons.



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Michael

posted September 14, 2007 at 5:34 pm


Tell that to Guillermo Gonzalez.
Out of curiosity, I just looked up Mr. Gonzalez. It seems he’s a professor at Iowa State University who was recently denied tenure. There’s some debate as to whether that was because he’s an advocate of intelligent design, or because he hasn’t published any significant research in the last seven years.
Two questions:
1) How can you even begin to compare this to censoring the reading material available to prison inmates?
2) What does Sojourners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or any of the commenters on this blog, have to do with the actions of the physics department at Iowa State University?



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 14, 2007 at 6:28 pm


My own political liberalism and my sympathy for socialism spring directly out of the relationship I’ve had with Jesus since I was some 3 years old, and my subsequent immersion in His Word.
I frankly cannot understand how so many of you, my ‘Religious Right’ sisters and brothers, can be so angry at everything, and so bereft of compassion for the lame, the halt and the blind, the poor and oppressed,the stranger in the land, any one ‘other’, in short all the ‘scum’ and ‘riff-raff’ Jesus hung out with when He walked the earth, when the Religious Right of His day rejected Him. What’s with you guys? It strikes me you’re afraid. What are you afraid of? Didn’t our Lord say ‘Fear not?’ Isn’t your fearfulness disobedience? Remember when Christ was asked what the great commandment was? ‘To love God with all you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself?’ Is your problem a lack of self-love? Remember after our Lord said that, the Religious Rightist answered ‘Who is my neighbor?’And Jesus told him the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Remember? Jesus said ‘I am come to seek and save that which is lost?’ God is Love. He says so Himself.



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Linda Malloy

posted September 14, 2007 at 6:28 pm


We certainly need a serious investigative report on how the purge list came about and exactly who is responsible (from calling for it, to producing it, to implementing it).
Freedom of religion is too sacred a right to be tampered with by Rovian Christians (those who listen to Rove-types of The Republican Political Machine)and ignore Christian thinking which has been tried, tested and found to be of great value in our many and diverse Christian communities during the past 2,000 years. Freedom of religion
and serious religious study is a gift which “even the least among us” (prisoners) should be able to access.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 14, 2007 at 6:36 pm


My own political liberalism and my sympathy for socialism spring directly out of the relationship I’ve had with Jesus since I was some 3 years old, and my subsequent immersion in His Word.
I frankly cannot understand how so many of you, my ‘Religious Right’ sisters and brothers, can be so angry at everything, and so bereft of compassion for the lame, the halt and the blind, the poor and oppressed,the stranger in the land, any one ‘other’, in short all the ‘scum’ and ‘riff-raff’ Jesus hung out with when He walked the earth, when the Religious Right of His day rejected Him. What’s with you guys? It strikes me you’re afraid. What are you afraid of? Didn’t our Lord say ‘Fear not?’ Isn’t your fearfulness disobedience? Remember when Christ was asked what the great commandment was? ‘To love God with all you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself?’ Is your problem a lack of self-love? Remember after our Lord said that, the Religious Rightist answered ‘Who is my neighbor?’And Jesus told him the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Remember? Jesus said ‘I am come to seek and save that which is lost?’ God is Love. He says so Himself.



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squeaky

posted September 14, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Ted,
I think you raise some good questions. I don’t know how much more conservative-minded folk truly match your description, but I do think you have expressed the impression that more liberal-minded folk have of them. I think it is important to understand each other, so those of you who are more conservatively minded, I hope you respond to Ted and explain where you are coming from.



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kevin s.

posted September 15, 2007 at 12:51 am


“Out of curiosity, I just looked up Mr. Gonzalez. It seems he’s a professor at Iowa State University who was recently denied tenure. There’s some debate as to whether that was because he’s an advocate of intelligent design, or because he hasn’t published any significant research in the last seven years.”
He was one of a very samll percentage who were denied tenure. He has published significant research (enough to meet the requirements for tenure) while at ISU, and also enough before his employment at ISU. He also wrote the textbook used in freshman courses.
He was denied tenure because a petition, drafted by a God-hating (and if you think that is an exaggeration, you didn’t do as much research as you claim) religious studies professor, which was signed by other members of the faculty. Had he never engaged in ID work, he would have been granted tenure without a second thought.
“Two questions:
1) How can you even begin to compare this to censoring the reading material available to prison inmates?”
Absolutely not. Censoring those who would teach our college students, on our dime, is a far worse offense. Our students go to universities to get an education, whereas prisoners go to prison as punishment for their crimes.
:2) What does Sojourners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or any of the commenters on this blog, have to do with the actions of the physics department at Iowa State University?:
What does Sojourners have to do with policy at prisons? How is that issue less relevant than this one?



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James

posted September 15, 2007 at 7:21 am


“Absolutely not. Censoring those who would teach our college students, on our dime, is a far worse offense. Our students go to universities to get an education, whereas prisoners go to prison as punishment for their crimes.”
He wasn’t censored. He was denied tenure- a big difference. He didn’t lose his job. He was not granted permanent status with the university.



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Jeff

posted September 15, 2007 at 11:55 am


Ted,
I think your sampling of religious conservatives may be a little narrow. Some of the best run organizations ministering to the “least of these” are conservative. (Please notice I didn’t say all or the best). I think your questions are valid if you can identify a specific believer (conservative or liberal) who fits your characture (sorry bad spelling).
In my former roll as a fund raiser and volunteer recruiter for the Salvation Army I found people who cared about the poor and those who didn’t want to be bothered on both sides of the political aisle. Though conservatives were always better at writing checks and volunteering than libs.
Jeff



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linda

posted September 15, 2007 at 12:30 pm


My liberal friends tend to devote their vocational lives to such things as social service, ministry, health care, education, the building of colleges. They have worked tirelessly and for subsistence wages.
A retired, top of the line seminary professor who has been kind enough to give short classes at church on Biblical and historical Christianity themes recently recommended one of the classic books on socialism: Sweden – The Middle Way, by Marquis W. Childs, 1936. It is a very interesting historical look into the subject.



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Deno Reno

posted September 15, 2007 at 12:38 pm


Why don’t we have a good old fashioned book-burning ?



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Jeff

posted September 15, 2007 at 1:57 pm


Ted,
I tried to comment earlier but it didn’t make it through the system. Many of the best run ministries helping the poor are run and funded by conservatives. I can tell you that as a former fundraiser and volunteer recruiter for the Salvation Army, there are Christians conservative and liberal who don’t do much for the poor and those on both sides of the political aisle that do. My experience was that the conservatives were always quicker to volunteer or write a check.
Jeff



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Kathy

posted September 15, 2007 at 4:32 pm


This article is about freedom of religion, the First Amendment, and other basic rights of people in our United States of America . I think the books should have remained in the prisons except those which obviously would encourage violence to others and put society as a whole in danger. The reality of all of this is as Christians we should stick together for the rights we have in this country and not be separated, we will not always agree on all subjects but we should always strive for harmony with each other. Bringing ministry and the word of God (The Bible)should always be first priority always, we need to build prison ministry in this country as well as work on keeping people out of our prisons .



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Bill Samuel

posted September 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm


We have a President who loudly trumpets his Christian faith, and his BOP pulls most of the religious books out of prison libraries. It’s even worse for the Muslims. Only two Muslim books besides the Qur’an are allowed.
True faith should be dangerous to the establishment, so maybe this is a sign of increasing faith?



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kevin s.

posted September 15, 2007 at 8:56 pm


“He wasn’t censored. He was denied tenure- a big difference. He didn’t lose his job. He was not granted permanent status with the university.”
Being denied tenure is tantamount to being fired, and denying tenure on the basis of one’s particular viewpoint is tantamount to censoring that viewpoint.
As far as this clap-trap about the Bush administration using this to censor religious ideas that runs counter to his ideology, that is patently absurd.
Setting aside the fact that there is no evidence of such conclusion, the idea that prisoners would suddenly, based on the writings of Karl Barth, mount a unified political campaign to advance liberal ideals, and that the President would be so threatened by this possibility that he would intervene on this matter…
Well, absurd is the right word.
This is an example of an inefficient government going overboard in solving a relatively small (though certainly not inconsequential) problem.
“True faith should be dangerous to the establishment”
What is the establishment, and why should faith be dangerous to it? Do you have a verse that supports this idea?



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Down with censorship

posted September 15, 2007 at 9:56 pm


Speaking of censoring . . .
Where did the post exposing Rigoberta Menchu’s plagiarism and lies go? It was removed on Sept. 14, 2007. What gives? Is someone censoring the post detailing Menchu’s credibility issues to cover up the mistake of promoting Menchu as a moral authority when she is far from that?
I would think that Sojourners would not want to hinder their message by endorsing people like Menchu who deliberately mislead her readers. A known liar does not make a good spokesperson for a cause.
There are ethical problems with using Menchu as an example of moral virtue and wisdom. If someone has a problem with truth and telling it like it was then they shouldn’t take it upon themselves to tell others how to pursue virtue and justice in society. I guess I will have to ask why some are more interested in symbolic justice rather than genuine justice. Is Menchu excused from basic tests of reliability and honor because she gives voice to the proper politics – if so, then this ends up telling us more about the virtue of the enabler all the while exposing the moral platitudes of some activists as relatively empty and remarkably self-serving. What arrogance to expect morality from some but not all.
Perhaps Sojourners is embarrassed by their repeated appeal to Menchu as a moral authority in past blog posts?



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Payshun

posted September 16, 2007 at 12:14 am


Kevin asked:
What is the establishment, and why should faith be dangerous to it? Do you have a verse that supports this idea?
Me:
Great questions. The establisment is the world. Faith should be dangerous to it at least the way Jesus did it. It was dangerous. There are a ton of verses about what we are at war w/. Even though our focus is not the people our war is against the ideas that stand in the way of loving God and loving other people.
p



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Donny

posted September 16, 2007 at 12:35 am


Ted Voth Jr.,
Conservatives are just the original (authentic) version of the Christian presented in the New Testament. “You Liberals” are the new version of age-old pagan-hedonism in an evangelical wrapper. Missionaries should not be feeding and clothing the poor to debauch their children with sexual deviance and condom-morality. Peter and Paul follow the teachings and example of Christ on this and Liberals, the Re-Romans of our day (Liberals and Progressives) oppose them all just as the original Romans did at the start of the Church. Hopefully this book purging will not affect healthy Christian techings. But viewing Liberal and Progressive anti-Christians of today like the ACLU and Americans United, that will be a miracle if it doesn’t happen. I no longer trust Liberals and especially socialist ones. They always come out Marxist in the washing.



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Brian

posted September 16, 2007 at 9:41 am


Either there should be a diversity of religious perspectives in government prisons or they should purge all of it. Either it’s all okay or none of it is. Otherwise we blur the separation of church and state to the point of a dangerous fog. Moreover, presenting only a narrow span of perspectives is idolatrous to the Great I Am who is beyond all our individual perspectives and descriptions.



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kevin s.

posted September 16, 2007 at 12:21 pm


“Great questions. The establisment is the world.”
Fair enough. Can’t we garner enough ideas about how to be dangerous to the world simply by reading the Bible?



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 16, 2007 at 3:40 pm


Conservatives are just the original (authentic) version of the Christian presented in the New Testament.
That would be a surprise to Orthodox Jews, who are ideologically far to your left. Remember that the first Christians were Jews.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 16, 2007 at 3:44 pm


Setting aside the fact that there is no evidence of such conclusion, the idea that prisoners would suddenly, based on the writings of Karl Barth, mount a unified political campaign to advance liberal ideals, and that the President would be so threatened by this possibility that he would intervene on this matter…
Well, look at the conservative disdain for “liberal” ideas demonstrated on this blog. Look at the politicization of the Justice Department, the emphasis on “compassionate conservatism — it would certainly fit the pattern.



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shirleyujest

posted September 16, 2007 at 4:03 pm


What an ironic statement. If anything, secular progressives are AGAINST censorship of any stripe.
Unless it interferes with an abortion or promotes abstinence .



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Eric

posted September 16, 2007 at 4:31 pm


Why has this come down to a debate about liberal and conservative Christians? No one is discussing what is at the heart of the BOP policy.
I read in another article that the real reason behind this policy is that the BOP is worried about radical Muslim texts and the indoctrination of prisoners into radical Islam. The prisons sought to remove certain radical Islamic texts, but they didn’t want to be seen as discriminatory, so they started removing texts from other religions as well. This policy doesn’t have anything to do with purging liberal or conservative Christian books from prisons.
What should be debated here is how far the prison system should go to keep certain Islamic books that supposedly radicalize the prison population away from prisoners and whether the BOP should focus on those books or start to remove other religious books as well. The BOP is caught between wanting to get rid of radical Islamic texts and not wanting to discriminate.



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Eric

posted September 16, 2007 at 4:39 pm


As to where my thoughts lie, I’d rather have them purge radical Islamic texts and keep Barth around. The last thing we need is an angry underclass of radical Islamists emerging from our prisons. Call it discriminatory if you want.
We need to seriously reform our prison system to include more rehabilitation so that ex-cons have prospects and skills upon release as well as a healthy dose of exposure to the saving grace of Jesus.



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Amazon Creek

posted September 16, 2007 at 5:41 pm


I remember reading an article in our local paper sometime the past week. It had something to do with violent, radical Islam.
I can understand the Bureau of Prison’s concern about books advocating violence or hate in prisons. Those would be dangerous books.
But unless books are advocating violence – you get on really slippery ground once you start setting up panels of judges to decide what is “proper” and “appropriate” religious reading material.

I exercise a lot of discernment about all sorts of religious reading material. I hold fast to the Bible’s claims that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God. I believe the Bible is THE Word of God – and literally, unless the passage tells you it using symbolism.
So…I would be in sharp disagreement with much of Buddhism, Islam, New Age thought, etc.
I also disagree with much that has been uncritically accepted within our American Christianity – the embossing of Americanism on the Christian faith, the mixing of American pride and self-sufficiency into the gospel to produce a gene-spliced version of Christianity that values things the New Testament decries.
But…I also trust God – and His Holy Spirit – to do the guiding of people. People learn in many different, individual ways. God knows how each person learns and what thoughts and steps they have to walk through to finally get the true picture of God and salvation. Each person’s road and journey will take a different route and time-schedule.
Let that be. Let God be. We can help God by sharing truth and insights when the occasion arises. But God alone knows the steps a person has to walk through. God is God. And we are not. (That is borrowing the lyrics of Steven Curtis Chapman, said very well.)
Philippians 1 – “And I am confident that God who began a good work within you will perfect it until the day of Christ.”
And those steps may temporarily lead through a lot of books and reading materials that are VERY, VERY incorrect. You can learn from the mistakes you make. Don’t we all?
I trust God enough to guide a person through wrong books. And I want a person to put their trust in Christ because they’ve really thought it through and because, finally GOD IS THE ONE who guided them into the truth. Not me. I don’t want anyone putting their faith in Christ because I was judge of what they should read nor not.
We shouldn’t be messing with God.
Truth defends itself. We don’t need to be constantly worrying about what people are exposed to. The Holy Spirit is much smarter than me. Certainly we should point out the errors in something – but let people seek out God and let God guide them.
I do believe it is going to all get much worse though, as far as censorship. And it won’t at all shock me if it comes to a certain “approved” version of American Christianity. Jesus wanted his disciples that way in Matthew 10:
16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.
17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues.18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers.
But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.*
19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
24 “Students* are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master.25 Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons,* the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
26 “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!



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kevin s.

posted September 16, 2007 at 6:04 pm


“The prisons sought to remove certain radical Islamic texts, but they didn’t want to be seen as discriminatory, so they started removing texts from other religions as well. This policy doesn’t have anything to do with purging liberal or conservative Christian books from prisons.”
I suspect that this is precisely the case. Initially, a small set of Islamic books were prohibited. The sharks started swirling, and they had to make a broader decision. This is what happens when when our government is required to treat Islam the same as the truth.
Personally, I’m all for simply excising Islamic texts from our prisons, which solves the problem entirely.



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Trent

posted September 16, 2007 at 7:33 pm


I believe that the freedom to choose is God’s greatest gift to us, and it underpins faith. For what is faith if not freedom to choose what to believe. Without freedom to choose, then we could not have faith even in Jesus. We could have knowledge of Jesus, like angels and demons do, but no faith.
In my thinking it follows that we must not attempt to limit the freedom of others to choose, even if we believe they are choosing wrongly. So I would have to oppose the notion that one could just remove islamic texts (as suggested by kevin). Just as God allows us freedom to choose against him, so we must allow others the same freedom.
Be Blessed,



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Payshun

posted September 16, 2007 at 7:38 pm


Donny,
What is a Marxist?
Please explain.
You said:
Conservatives are just the original (authentic) version of the Christian presented in the New Testament.
Me
Actually you conservatives are far more similar in stripe and theology to your false Pharisiacal cousins. You legalists pretend to understand grace but then you condemn far more than you forgive. So if you are going to accurately compare yourselves to the new testament church please pick the right group.
You:
“You Liberals” are the new version of age-old pagan-hedonism in an evangelical wrapper. Missionaries should not be feeding and clothing the poor to debauch their children with sexual deviance and condom-morality.
Me:
BS. Quit being a legalist and embrace grace. You know you conservatives debauch your children by teaching them to hate their sexuality instead of teaching them to embrace the God given beauty of it. You teach them to hate themselves.
Oh as a liberal that is for condom use I say teach it. Let the kids decide (once they reach a certain age.) One more thing, you should know abstinence only programs don’t work. If anything the amount of anal sex actually went up for people that come w/ your ideology while other forms of sex stayed the same w/ mine.
you:
Peter and Paul follow the teachings and example of Christ on this and Liberals, the Re-Romans of our day (Liberals and Progressives) oppose them all just as the original Romans did at the start of the Church. Hopefully this book purging will not affect healthy Christian techings. But viewing Liberal and Progressive anti-Christians of today like the ACLU and Americans United, that will be a miracle if it doesn’t happen. I no longer trust Liberals and especially socialist ones. They always come out Marxist in the washing.
Me:
Please shut up.
p



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Trent

posted September 16, 2007 at 7:54 pm


I posted recently about name-calling, and had a few respondents who suggested that it wasn’t really name calling. So be it.
Let’s call it ‘labelling.’ Labelling of others, especially by broad strokes is dangerous. It creates division and conflict. It prevents unity and relationship. It hinders learning and growth.
Just today we’ve had liberals described as pagan hedonists, and conservatives described as pharisaical. This strict categorical thinking prevents reasoned dialogue, prevents relationship, creates mistrust, and ensures that ‘we’ can never learn anything from ‘them’ (and so limits our own growth and development).
I’ll go so far as to suggest that this labelling, so frequent on this site, prevents love, and therefore is un-Christian.
Be Blessed,



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Payshun

posted September 16, 2007 at 9:17 pm


Well I guess I should have been more specific. I was referring to conservatives that think like Donny. that line of thinking is legalistic hence the idea that it he is behaving like a Pharisee.
Labelling does not have to create any division. What really creates division is not respecting others. That creates real division. One more thing Donny and I are already divided. We may not be by God’s standards (we both believe in Yeshua) but he has already condemned us lefties so many time while the only thing I have condemned on this site is homophobia and evangelicalism’s legalism and conservative ideology.
p



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James

posted September 16, 2007 at 9:32 pm


Personally, I’m all for simply excising Islamic texts from our prisons, which solves the problem entirely. Posted by: kevin s.
Uh… there is something called the Constitution. I know that it can be inconvenient to your authoritarian views but you have to deal with it.



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Trent

posted September 16, 2007 at 10:46 pm


Hi Payshun,
Labelling is the basis of categorical thinking. We use labels to sort things into categories. Labels are vry useful when applied to things, and can be useful when applied to people, especially when self-applied.
I could say that I’m a liberal postmodern charismatic Christian (who happens to vote conservatively in Australia – perhaps ironically the conservative party in Australian politics are called the Liberals). It would give you a broad sense of who I am and what I believe. But it is less than who I am. It dehumanises me and reduces me to those things.
Labels do automaticaly create divisions. They are designed to highlight how things are separate from each other, that is their purpose.
Might I humbly suggest that your response about how Donny had already attacked you ‘lefties,’ as a justification for your labelling him suggests a lack of grace as you are retaliating in kind. I imagine that this is the sort of response that Christ would not condone.
Be blessed,



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jurisnaturalist

posted September 17, 2007 at 8:28 am


In response to this outrage, I will be cataloging my entire collection of over 1000 titles and will publish the list and make available to all inmates at the local prison the entirety of my collection, and I will deliver.
There is a non-governmental solution to this problem, and it is me.
Nathanael Snow
ndsnow@ncsu.edu



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kevin s.

posted September 17, 2007 at 10:57 am


“Uh… there is something called the Constitution. I know that it can be inconvenient to your authoritarian views but you have to deal with it.”
The government has already decided upon an “authorititarian” approach. I am going to accept the premise that certain texts were being used to recruit Muslim gang members.
I am simply saying they should ban the books that are contributing to the problem, which is well within their purview. However, your outrage gives us a clue as to why the initial solution (removing texts from nine publishers) was insufficient. It was a lawsuit waiting to happen. You get what you pay for.
But thank you or alerting me to the existence of the Constitution. That was a useful and insightful contribution.



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Eric

posted September 17, 2007 at 12:51 pm


James – Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there is a Constitutional right to any reading material you want in prison. I don’t think denying radical Islamic texts to prisoners is “cruel and unusual.”



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Payshun

posted September 17, 2007 at 2:04 pm


I understand what you are saying Trent I just don’t agree. I am a contemplative African American man. I also happen to be progressive politically. That doesn’t limit me or separate me from anyone. People that separate themselves from me do so on their own. that has nothing to do w/ me.
The beauty of the gospel is that it reconciles all the different “divisive” labels into one whole. Just look at the disciples. You had a zealot next to a tax collector, next to fisherman, next to… The point is that those labels that I use reveal beautiful and broken aspects of my humanity. They are not my total identity but they reveal huge parts of it. Since Jesus loves all of me I see no reason to not share that.
As for Donny, well I would not necessarily agree w/ that. Jesus had some very choice words and insults for the pharisees of his day (white washed tombs, children of Satan…) In all honesty Donny got off light w/ my response. Because if I had used the responses Jesus had for pharisees this would have been a lot worse.
p



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lois

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:00 pm


I am saddened by the tone of some of these messages from people who call themselves Christian. I am a confirmed Christian and have been since my birth 74 years ago. For me, Jesus is a man of peace. I am not naive⁄! Not all Christians are people of peace, be they conservative or liberal! Nor are all Muslims, nor all Jews, nor all any other followers of the world’s religions!
But in my life experience, I have known many peace-loving, justice-seeking Christians of many denominations. I have also met Jews, Muslims and Buddhists who were people of peace, who strove mightily to live the moral values of their beliefs and who longed for God just as much as I do. Why are we fighting one another?
As for the real issue which we should be discussing – the issue of religious books being removed from our prison libraries – that makes me sad, too, because I see that it springs from fear and suspicion which has always been at the root of all divisiveness in society. If we could just begin to respect one another, one human being at a time, what a different world we would live in! Perhaps we should begin by praying for that gift instead of throwing mud at one another.
Peace! Shalom! Or as my Eastern sisters say in greeting, “the God in me reverences the God in you”!
Lois



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Nancy

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:32 pm


The company of those who destroy books is always unwelcome.
We must do better.
We can.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:45 pm


Somehow it all seems like another “Heck of a job, Brownie!” episode, or maybe a graduate of Regent or Liberty university got put in charge, just like Monica Gooding in the Justice Department… and then did the best they could according to how they were taught, not according to Christ, but the Peter Principle.



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kevin s.

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:54 pm


“The company of those who destroy books is always unwelcome.”
Are the books being destroyed? The article doesn’t say this. That would be wasteful.



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Eric

posted September 17, 2007 at 4:59 pm


Actually, Rod, the instinct behind this policy sounds less like incompetence (Brown, Goodling, etc) and more like liberal “we don’t want to discriminate against a particular religion so we’ll throw Barth out with the radical Islamic books.” Sort of like, we’re going to search everyone equally at the airport, that includes males between the ages of 16 and 45 as well as 85 year old grandmothers and their eight year old grandkids because we wouldn’t want to profile.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 17, 2007 at 5:06 pm


Personally, I’m all for simply excising Islamic texts from our prisons, which solves the problem entirely.
No, Kevin, it only makes things worse. You know the priniciple — somebody decides that you can’t have something and it becomes more attractive. And then people really start to believe it.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 17, 2007 at 10:45 pm


If the removal were a “liberal” conspiracy – seems odd when a Republican administration is in power – that just removed everything, the popular right-wingers like Dobson and Falwell wouldn’t have been on the approved list, would they?



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canucklehead

posted September 18, 2007 at 2:23 am


Just as long the Left Behind books were left behind, all is well with the world.



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Eric

posted September 18, 2007 at 1:39 pm


First of all, it’s not a conspiracy Rod. It’s a public policy. Second, I didn’t say liberals were in charge of it. I doubt anyone high-up in the Bush Administration was either. It was probably some lower-down guy at BOP. Third, the principle behind the policy is based is the Liberal mindset of “profiling is bad and we should treat everyone equally even though we know only a certain segment of the population is the problem.”



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Brian

posted September 19, 2007 at 2:08 pm


It seems that some are confusing the Biblical mandate for caring for neighbors, the poor, the orphan, etc. with secular humanism. There is a difference.



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Bruce Robinson

posted December 14, 2007 at 6:00 pm


I see nothing wrong with allowing inmates access to the Bible in spite of its advocacy of human slavery, genocide, oppression of women, extermination of gays, and — perhaps its most immoral theme — transferring sin and punishment from the guilty to the innocent.



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D. Morris

posted December 24, 2007 at 7:59 am


As to an earlier comment, I know for a fact that Lum would get rid or the conservative authors that were mentioned. (Colson, Dobson, Swindoll) The libs want so bad for the right to accept them, but they will not accept the right. They are the picture of what a true hypocrite is. Lum knows better! And I know that for a fact also!!



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posted October 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

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