October 2007 Editorial Winner

Gifts are for accepting
By David Gerard, Muskogee Phoenix

More sensible minds and softer hearts have redeemed some of Oklahoma's dignity.
State Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, said he would accept gift copies of the Quran that 24 other state legislators have chosen not to accept. Sullivan said he would find homes for them. Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, said he will offer gift Bibles to members of the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council to encourage goodwill between Oklahoma Christians and Muslims.
The council offered each state legislator earlier this week an Oklahoma Centennial copy of the Quran. Gov. Brad Henry authorized the council in 2003 at the request of Oklahomans of Middle Eastern descent. Other ethnic groups in the state have similar councils.
But many legislators declined the gift on religious grounds, and one legislator, Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, essentially linked all of Islam to terrorism.
With his off-the-cuff remarks, he fostered the erroneous belief that Islam teaches killing innocent women and children in war or someone of another faith anytime is acceptable. He also complained he doesn't hear the more than 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma opposing violence against innocent people.
The fact that those more than 30,000 Muslims - some of them doctors and other professionals - have lived here for years peaceably, making contributions to the welfare of our state, is evidence that they want something better in life than violence and conflict.
Yes, Oklahoma was home to one of the 9/11 terrorists for a short time.
But historically, some who call themselves Christians, even many in the 21st century, also use their holy book to debase and dehumanize their fellow man.
Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, told the Phoenix he declined the offer simply because of personal preference. It was something he would not read.