That Old-Time Islam…

Perfect prank for a Sunday sermon.

Two young Dutch men wrapped a bible in a cover that identified it as the Koran, and proceeded to do “person on the street” interviews with random passers-by. They had the unsuspecting subjects read selected passages, and then asked them for their reactions to what they had read.

The chosen passages were mysogynistic, brutal and judgmental. There were admonitions to women to be submissive, the old standby about homosexuality (“If a man lies with another man” that probably would have given the prank away here in the United States, considering how often homophobic Christians cite it), and a number of passages instructing believers to take punitive actions against nonbelievers or transgressors–cut off their hands, etc.

The reactions to the selected passages were what we might expect. The readings rather obviously confirmed prior impressions of Islam held by the unsuspecting passers-by, who were shocked when the fake cover came off and the “Koran” was revealed to be the bible.

The prank confirmed two suspicions that many of us hold about citizens of Western democratic countries, definitely including our own: that we hold stereotypical and biased attitudes about Muslims and the Koran; and that very few “Christians” have actually read that bible they constantly thump.

You can watch the “man-on-the-street” interviews here.


  1. MANY Americans in the age of information would rather recieve the information they base their beliefs on from Fox, Rush, Lavine, Beck, Hanidy and Fundamentalist Churches and have never owned a library card or set foot in a book store.
    No wonder America has slipped behind the world in education, science, technology, the environment management and the wonders of the universe, life and even living.
    It makes me sad and I worry for us and our future.

  2. Perfect. We should not be running 2015 Society based on books written by people who did NOT know where the sun went at night. We can do better. THINK.

  3. I’ve often wondered why Christians don’t ditch the Old Testament. It’s merely a record of the times before Chtistianity in a particularly backward corner of the world.

    I don’t see the religious significance of it to them.

  4. I suspect they interviewed many people who recognized the passages and pointed out the New Covenant that came about when Jesus arrived. I’m sure those interviews ended up on the cutting room floor.

  5. Sadly, this is not surprising at all and your last sentence stating that very few Christians have actually read the bible they constantly thump sums it up so well.

    When I come across so-called Christians who see it as their right to judge others based upon Old Testament scriptures while choosing to completely ignore Jesus’ teachings to love one another, my patience for their drivel is less than zero.

    The people that I know who are the most adamant about judging Muslims, refugees, gun laws and our President are the people that have fallen for the NRA and GOP propaganda. They refuse to even listen to anyone that speaks from a point of common sense. Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief.

  6. Some Thomas Paine Quotes, he says it better than I can: “The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.” “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

    “What is it the Bible teaches us? – raping, cruelty, and murder. What is it the New Testament teaches us? – to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.”

    “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

  7. Some time back, my brother told me he was reading the Bible to his young children. I was appalled and told him he should think that through carefully, because that book was not appropriate for children. He didn’t believe me, so I advised him to read ahead before reading to the kids. He did that. One month later he told me he had purchased a children’s version to read.

    Putting things in context, much of the Bible is a history of the Jewish people, but much of it is a health guide, prohibiting things that were thought to cause disease. Prescribed punishments were over the top. Other parts are superstitions that we would today call nonsense, but absent provable fact, superstition works as well as anything to answer questions.

    Since the Bible was written, people have gone through it to pick and choose those parts they believe will reinforce their own prejudices. It is the human thing to do. Most of us read this blog because we generally agree with Sheila’s point of view. Again, it is the human thing to do.

  8. OK Pete; he is my view of why Republicans – and it is NOT Christians – cannot let go of the Old Testament. It has many more human sacrifices and a much tighter rein on human behavior than found in the New Testament to base their political campaigns and enact laws on. Just how they have convinced the massive number of Americans that they are using Christianity is beyond my comprehension.

    Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi and, I do believe, a man true in spirit and holy in his heart when he brought a new message. He would be appalled today to learn that the money-changers have not only regained their hold on the temples but on enough of the American public to put Donald Trump in the lead of that pack of Republican presidential hopefuls. Jesus came from what today is known as a blue-collar, hard working father and a stay-at-home mother; the very element the Republicans are living off of and trying to lower their standards to the level of poverty. The infidels have taken control; calling themselves Republicans and the Republican voters, being sheep, are following the Judas goat into oblivion.

    And Sheila thinks she has a jaundiced look at the world we live in!

  9. AgingLGrl; or taken literally…does he have no father. Said in the New Testament to be a virgin birth…unless the word “virgin” had a different meaning at that time.

  10. Some of you are starting sound like Gopper.

    I’ll assure you, he isn’t for the Old Testament either, nor is the white supremacist: Christian Identity Movement.

    As JoAnn pointed out, that’s where the laws are, whether you like them or not. I don’t like a lot of them either.

    But, Pete you need to read the New Testament. Its foundation is based on the old. Jesus was a Jew. He wasn’t thinking “out of thin air.”

    The New Testament is nothing without the Old Testament.

    In my estimation, the BEST part of Christianity was taken from the BEST part of Judaism. Many Christian theologians, like Renhold Niebur have all said something close to what I just said.

  11. Marv, I respect your Faith and the story of your people but that part is over. The world has moved on.

    I believe that Jesus was a philosopher well ahead of his times and some of what he taught is of everlasting value in establishing what a human life well lived looks like.

    I’m sure that a few of us see his philosophy in the context of his times as important to complete understanding, like numerous history books where the more time and efforts historians devote to full understanding of the conditions of the world at a given time add details that like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. Experts are expert because they know more detail than the rest of us.

    But for me the history is no more irrelevant to the essential message than any past time is. I would like to know everything about everything but my limited time here requires prioritization.

    How your tribe lived 2000+ years ago doesn’t make my cut. There’s too much that needs to be understood about today’s world.

  12. Marv’s right from the first sentence to the last. With reference to the Bible, it takes the former to help us understand the latter.

    Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday was an eye-opener today. Author David Brooks discussed with Oprah the search for character, true humility, and what others would say about us when we have left this Earth. Brooks gave an example of where so many of us, the “selfie” generation, are today: He said he was on a plane sitting next to a young woman who, for the entire hour-long plane ride, watched her own self/her own facial expressions on Vine (whatever Vine is). We must do better.

  13. Pete,

    First of all, I’ve never practiced Judaism, I’m from a mixed Christian-Jewish Family. I’ve said that more than once on this blog. Even Gopper acknowledged that.

    I’ve always been a Unitarian. However, Pete, I will admit to you that under the Nuremberg Laws I would have been “up shits creek.”

  14. Marv, we are all born into the religious tradition of our family that most of us remain in and carry on.

    I have to admit that I have never really studied world religions but believe that there are things valuable to current life in every one of them. And probably some bad, or at least dysfunctional, things too. That’s the nature of human institutions.

    I suppose that the world would be better off nowadays if we just picked one of them for everyone, just like we would be if we picked just one language, but that is not even a possibility in anyone’s lifetime IMO.

    So live and let live is my personal philosophy. I don’t have to follow anybody and have no right to expect anyone to follow me except to the degree that my thoughts make sense to others.

  15. Pete,

    “Marv, we are all born into the religious tradition of our family that most us remain in and carry on.”

    You’re so right about that, Pete. You have carried on well. Be proud of yourself.

  16. “I’ve often wondered why Christians don’t ditch the Old Testament. It’s merely a record of the times before Chtistianity in a particularly backward corner of the world.”

    Umm, Pete,
    I’m pretty sure a good deal of the known world (known at that time) continued to be rather “backward” (if by that you mean simple societies rules by force and superstition- hmm, that sounds a lot like what’s going on today as well) after Christainity as well. Let’s see, we have the crusades, and the Spanish Inqusisition, oh, and then the witch hunts in Europe, North Amercia, and wherever else Christains roamed. And that’s just a tip of the ice berg. And then, of course, there is that rather long period before the enlightenment and the recognition of logic and evidence based arguments (although didn’t this really start with the Greeks?)
    I have to say That I really don’t care for the label “backward” – it lends itself to a very ethnocentric and self-righteous perspective of place and people that are different from what we think of as normal. Afterall, the idea of “backwardness” is always relative.
    I’d also point out that while that “record of a ….backward corner of the world” is also part of the history of Judism and Muslins. And while I’m not personally attached to any particular religuos organization, I do respect people’s history enough not to dismiss it as irrelevant. Whatever that history really is (and no one will ever be able to create a single history that accurately records the times as they were experienced by all parties), the Old Testament represents stories of the past as told by pre-Christian writers (albeit, as translated many times through history) that became the foundation of three different major world religons. So maybe we should not be so dismissive of it.
    Just the same, I agree that it is rather disingenuous for “Godly Christains” to selectively use the Old Testement as a weapon against some groups and behavior as they attempt to advance their own interests

  17. I do not think anything the Jesus person is supposed to have said could stand up in a court of law in the United States. It is all hearsay. I can’t find anything he has said, it is all told to us by someone else

  18. One of the loads we all carry is imagination which can be fun, terrifying, emotionally overwhelming, angering; any number of emotional upheavals in our lives that only happen in our minds.

    I was just imagining Jesus participating in this blog.

    I personally imagine that he’d fit in pretty well except for that stilted language of old.

    What do you think?

  19. Lots of ancient scripts have to do with war and other such atrocities, not only those of the Hebrews and Muslims. With the uncovering of ancient Nineveh and the Assyrian Library we have found stories of conquests and horror that make the Old Testament Hebrew versions look mild, starting with killing all those of conquered states who were deemed unsuited for slavery, blinding the royalty of the conquered states, driving stakes through their tongues and attaching them to a line and marching them through the streets in chains.

    The Old Testament along with the New Testament were canonized by the two Councils of Nicea held 56 years apart in 325 and 381 A.D.(which means that you had different bishops at the second council), and I once heard a theologian at a lecture who described the bishops who did the canonizing of scripture as having the equivalent of high school educations. I for one do not take the Old Testament very seriously. It is, after all, Jewish literature, and hardly sacred. However, I have read the scripts these early Christian bishops chose not to canonize, and in my view (with the exception of Revelations), I cannot say they chose unwisely, considering the slim menu from which they could make their selections given preceding centuries of dictatorial Roman rule.

    Aside from tales of violence found in ancient scripts of most every civilization, I note in passing that it is easy enough for us today who didn’t live in the world of the ancients (who developed their own folkways and mores over time) to put down ancient attempts to understand who they were and why they were here. We smarties, intellectuals all, have yet to answer such questions, and as to those who argue that religion has brought on much of the world’s troubles, the obvious answer is that we can’t know that a human society without religion would have fared better and that the Assyrian model of brutality or worse would not have been the norm, history being linear.

  20. ” we hold stereotypical and biased attitudes about Muslims and the Koran; and that very few “Christians” have actually read that bible they constantly thump.”

    These same views regarding Muslims and the Koran, with the current so-called “Christian” rule taking over the Republican party, can be compared to Naziism which ruled Germany before and during WWII and the Holocaust. It is sadly apparent that many outside the Republican party hold these same views due to fear and the misguided belief that the radical Muslims and terrorists comprise all Muslims. The GOP will rule Muslims claiming Christianity with the same strong hand as the Nazis ruled the Jews with no claim of a religious basis but used fear tactics. “Naziism is the totalitarianism principle of government, state control of all industry, predominance of groups assumed to be racially superior.” They view Muslims – or those they consider to be Muslims – as inferior, therefore subject to their rule. They consider Muslims a race of people just as many continue to view Jews as a race and not a religion. Of course the GOP also considers all outside their party as inferior and subject to their rule; including Christians who do not follow their cherry-picked, misquoted, out-of-context doctrine.

    If the above definition of Naziism doesn’t describe the current Republican party – what does? I read a few articles regarding that “man-on-the-street” interview with the Koran cover on the Bible with interest – I wondered if any of those interviewed went home and got out their Bible (if they knew where it was) to re-read scripture, hoping to find their Bible didn’t say any of those awful things. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, about the long ago Crusades, Spanish Inquisition and the Salem witch hunts in our own country.

  21. Yes, Bill, He would. And He would likely be ignored again by all but a few. We haven’t taken much of His lesson to heart in the past 2,000 years.

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