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is it a sin to burn a Koran?

So this morning I was in the car and turned on the radio while ESPN was on a commercial break, so I switched over to KTRC [link], which is part of whatever the successor to Air America Radio is. I switched just in time to hear David Shuster [link] wrapping up a segment on the Stephanie Miller Show [link]. I heard him make the rather bold claim that any religion would call the burning of the sacred text of another religion “a sin.”

This got my attention, partly because one rarely hears the word “sin” on the radio except as perhaps part of a commercial for something that’s “sinfully good” or whatever, but mostly because this is a question that had never crossed my mind before. And it’s a fair question.

I can’t figure what chapter and verse would be cited to support this claim. A big chunk of the historical books in the Old Testament (Kings and Chronicles) are fairly obsessed with the question of whether a given king tore down “high places” and Asherah poles but never broach the subject of whether they also went on to burn the holy books of various Canaanite  religions. And of course in the New Testament Christianity is still an emerging sect making its way out of Judaism and so far as I can remember burning scrolls of any kind is never mentioned.

So I’m at a loss here; I’d be tempted to argue that most modern Christians I know would consider the public burning of a Koran rude and the violation of some sort of vague social contract but not a sin in the Ten Commandments sense of the word. We’d probably address the question from the point of view of a citizen living in a modern and at least superficially pluralistic democracy, but not as Christians per se.

Beyond that, I’d expect that people who focused on free will would claim that burning a Koran is probably a poor evangelistic practice; I have no idea what the Reformed position on Koran burning would be.


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