British Libraries have been told to put Bibles on the top shelf to prevent upsetting Muslims. I mean we don’t want to cause offence to anyone do we? The Daily Mail reports:
Librarians are being told to move the Bible to the top shelf to avoid giving offence to followers of Islam.
Muslims have complained of finding the Koran on lower shelves, saying it should be put above commonplace things.
So officials have responded with guidance, backed by ministers, that all holy books should be treated equally and go on the top shelf together.
The Bible, left, has been moved to the top shelf in libraries following requests that the Koran, right, be put above ordinary books
This means that Christian works, which also have immense historical and literary value, will be kept out of the reach and sight of many readers.
The guidance was published by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, a quango answering to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
It said Muslims in Leicester had moved copies of the Koran to the top shelves of libraries, in keeping with the belief that the Koran is the all-important word of God.
The report said the city’s librarians consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf.
‘This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other,’ the guidance added.
Critics said such a move implied religious works should be treated as objects of veneration rather than as books to be read. Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said:
The shelving guidance came from a quango answering to Andy Burnham
‘Libraries and museums are not places of worship. They should not be run in accordance with particular religious beliefs.
‘This is violating the principles of librarianship and it is part of an insidious trend.’
He said the principle that books should be available to everyone was established in Europe in the Middle Ages.
‘One of the central planks of the Protestant Reformation was that everybody should have access to the Bible,’ he added.
Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: ‘It is disappointing if the policy of libraries is dictated by the practices of one group.
‘It is particularly disappointing if this is done to put the scriptures beyond reach.
‘I hope there will be a rethink. I understand that Muslims revere their own text, but in public libraries there should not be a policy of putting religious texts out of reach.’
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Engage think tank, which encourages Muslims to play a greater role in public life, said: ‘If Muslims wish to see the Koran placed on a higher shelf, and library rules say it should be there, then that is a welcome and considerate gesture.
‘But one size does not fit all. If Christians do not want to see the Bible treated in the same way, I do not see why it has to be dealt with the same.’
Canon Chris Sugden, of the Anglican Mainstream movement, said: ‘This does appear to be a reversion to medieval times, when the Bible could be read only by priests in Latin and was not to be defiled by ordinary people reading it.
‘The principle to be challenged is that there is a certain way in which one must treat all holy books.
‘The Bible is readily available, and it would not be difficult to have more than one copy, with some on display within the reach of children.’
The guidelines warned against another decision made in Leicester, in which Islamic material had been bought from local suppliers.
Libraries then found they had put into stock Islamic books that were condoning violence against non- Muslims, the report said.
The new guidelines make it clear that pornography can be offered by libraries.
They said that some have stocked the Black Lace series of erotic stories aimed at women, and that others bought and lent Madonna’s Sex.
Librarians faced a ‘difficult balance’ but should try to ‘reflect changing fashion and opinion’, the guidance said.
Culture Minister Barbara Follett said: ‘We have to give staff the tools to enable them to make decisions about what materials they can and should stock while, at the same time, promoting learning, education and cultural inspiration for all.
Didn’t Jesus tell us that the Gospel of the Kingdom would offend some people? Is there a problem with causing offence over belief systems, provided it leads to healthy discussion rather than violent militant reprisals? Or, to put it another way, how is it possible not to offend others from a different persuasion unless we all completely shut up about what we believe, including Muslims, who seem to complain about being upset an awful lot!
(via Andrew Bolt)