When the Bureau of Prisons came up with their list of “approved” religious books for prison libraries, I suspect they included as approved the book which contains this incendiary violent tract: “… If it is proved and confirmed that such a hateful thing [serving other gods than one’s own] has taken place among you, you must put the inhabitants of that town to the sword.” Surely, the list would not exclude the Bible, in which the preceding quote appears in Deuteronomy 13:12-16.
It’s not that I believe they SHOULD censor the above—books don’t kill people; people with guns, knives, bombs, etc. are generally responsible for killing people. I suppose if a book thrown at just the right angle were to hit an artery, well … I’ll leave that for the forensics experts.
It looks like the response to this censorship is going to be using the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which along with its predecessor, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), makes members of certain religious groups exempt from rules and regulations with which everyone else is required to comply. In everything from following zoning laws to the right of possibly violent groups to assemble in prisons, RFRA and RLUIPA are being invoked to take advantage of the different and privileged position which members of specific religions receive. These Congressional Acts allow members of the UDV Church to legally use hallucinogenic drugs, but if anyone else does so, it’s a crime. RLUIPA sets a different standard for the doubling in size of a megachurch as compared with an individual adding a fourth floor to her three-story townhouse, when both require zoning variances—amazingly, the huge megachurch has MORE right to its expansion.
Rather than fight a “war on books,” perhaps Congress should take a hard look at the laws they passed which make it impossible to apply the same standard to actions by members of certain religions as those to which the rest of us must adhere. RFRA and RLUIPA need to be revised or repealed.