Lest Ye Be Judged

Enraged bloggers and grandstanding politicians alike denounce the Koran as a glorified terrorist manifesto. Philip Jenkins’s new tome challenges this simplistic logic, analyzing the Bible’s equally—and often shockingly—bloodthirsty passages.

Issue: Nov-Dec 2011

Philip Jenkins, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (New York: HarperOne, 2011), 320 pp., $26.99.

[amazon 006199071X full]A DECADE after the national trauma of 9/11, a rude chorus swells in the homeland, calling for restrictions on American Muslims’ rights to free assembly and free speech. The controversy over the Islamic prayer center in Lower Manhattan—characterized as “the victory mosque” by Islamophobes, who labor under no abrogation of their First Amendment rights—is a notable but hardly isolated effort to deny Muslims access to public space. Anti-sharia measures, already the law in three states and being considered by a dozen more, serve as warnings to any Muslims who would dare advocate for legislation consistent with Islamic norms. Such morality-based, religiously inspired speech is, of course, as American as apple pie. But no matter: Muslims, whether natural-born or naturalized citizens, are today’s “traitors” of choice for the new McCarthyites.

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