Category Archives: News Prayers

A Prayer for Syria

Heavenly Father,

It seems like we are in constant war with one another. Not only do military personnel suffer but civilians and children suffer, as well. In Syria, we see this unfolding. The people of Syria do not seem to know what a time of peace looks like. Their struggle resumes every time a new person comes to power.

Please help them find peace, Father. Give them leadership and followership that acts in humility and preference for peace. Give them stability in their government that seeks out the welfare of all of its people- whether they are rich or poor, influential or uninvolved. Help them to be leaders in their region for justice and harmony. May those who seek to divide and cause dissension be removed from influence. May those who seek the Kingdom welfare have the courage to speak up and act.


At Syrian Military Hospital, the Casualties Mount
By Deborah Amos, June 12, 2012
All Things Considered

Syrian activists have posted thousands of videos of civilians killed and wounded in the 15-month-old conflict. But there have been many casualties on the government side as well, and they are on display at a military hospital in the capital, Damascus.

For Abdul Kareem Mustapha, a 51-year-old colonel in the Syrian army, the war came for him at 8:15 a.m. on his way to his military post.

Mustapha is among the wounded. He says he was on his way to work, riding in a military car with several others, when two taxis cut them off. Armed men started shooting, he says, killing one of the four officers in the car and wounding the others.

The colonel’s fresh bandages are on his stomach and hands. He is sure his attackers were rebels from the Free Syrian Army. But he doesn’t call them that. He says they are “terrorists” financed from outside Syria.

Government Casualties Mounting

Analysts and pundits are still debating how to define the Syrian fighting. On Tuesday, the U.N. under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, told Reuters that the Syrian conflict could be called a civil war and that the government has lost control of parts of some cities to the rebels.

However the fighting is defined, it’s clear that the casualties are mounting.

An army general runs the military hospital. His office has two life-size photographs of Syrian President Bashar Assad on the walls. The general does not want his own picture — or his name — published.

Assassinations of military personnel have been rising in Damascus, and the general is willing to reveal some alarming statistics. He says the casualty rate for soldiers has doubled since U.N. monitors arrived. The first contingent arrived in mid-April.

On average, he says, 15 soldiers die and 15 are injured every day in the capital. (There was no way to independently verify the figures provided by the general.)

At night, the general says, he can hear shooting from his office. It’s where he works and sleeps. It’s too dangerous to drive back home, he says.

Back on the ward, many wounded soldiers are struggling with severe injuries. Many were inflicted by army deserters — men who once served on the same side.

Lt. Haithem al-Bukai, 24, says he was shot by a sniper in the northern province of Idlib a few days ago. A government escort translates and helps him with his remarks.

The rebels in Idlib are young, he says, about 16 or 17. Bukai also says they are well-armed, with sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and even anti-tank weapons.

But it’s impossible to confirm the Free Syrian Army’s armory.

Syrian activists say they have knocked out nearly 30 tanks. The burned remains of one tank were parked on the highway in central Syria, one place where the army has been on the offensive.

The army’s shelling has been relentless against the rebels based in residential neighborhoods in Homs. Civilians have been trapped in the fighting.

‘We Have 500 Revolutions In Syria’

The U.N. has called the violence unacceptable. On Tuesday, outside the northwestern town of Haffa in the foothills above Syria’s Mediterranean coast, monitors say they were confronted by angry pro-government mobs. The mobs threw stones and metal bars to stop the convoy from entering the rebel-held town surrounded by the army.

The heaviest fighting is still far from the capital, says Bshir Said, an opposition activist. He explains that Syria has many revolutions — every neighborhood and every town has a different story.

“So you can see demonstrations in a place and you can see fighting and war in another place, and in other places [it’s] very quiet and very easy. We have 500 revolutions in Syria,” he says.

Damascus was one of those calm places Tuesday, but the rising number of casualties at the military hospital there shows that the different revolutions are now coming together.

Another activist, who wouldn’t give him name for fear of arrest, says that Damascus is watching and waiting.

“For us, it’s not a civil war yet. It’s a very serious dangerous problem. We hope not to reach this point,” he says.

[Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]


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Prayer for hospitality in Jordan

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the people of Jordan who offer hospitality to their neighbors. Thank you that Jordanians see the Syrians as brothers and sisters in need and open their homes to keep them.

It seems like many people are refugees in our time. Please continue to open the hearts like those in this story to welcome strangers, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. Your Son reminds us that those who practice hospitality are actually feeding and giving shelter to Himself.


For Fleeing Syrians, Jordan Offers Bare-Bones Refuge
By Kelly McEvers, March 15, 2012.

If you’re trying to escape the turmoil in Syria for the calm in Jordan, you have two choices.

You can go the legal way. Just get in a car and try to drive across the border. But that’s not very easy these days. The Syrian government isn’t letting many people out.

Or you can try the illegal way. Wait until nightfall, climb through a barbed-wire fence. It sounds dodgy, but if you make it over, you’ll actually be welcomed by the Jordanian army. Troops will take your name, give you a drink of water, let you rest.

After that, though, you’re on your own. You might end up in an apartment building that’s become a kind of holding pen for hundreds of Syrians near the border.

About 20 men are staying in one room of the run-down building. They all came from the same village in southern Syria. They don’t want the name revealed, because they are afraid the Syrian government might find out they’ve escaped and punish their families back home.

A Familiar Story

Their story is similar to those of many others who have fled the troubled country. About a month ago, a group of soldiers from their village defected from the Syrian army, refusing to fight for the government. They came back home and started defending their village against security forces, who were, according to these men, arresting and torturing anyone suspected of opposing the government.

One man who wanted to be identified only as Abu Ammar says defectors managed to take control of the village for about 15 days. Then the army stormed it with tanks and mortars, and some of the men fled to Jordan.

The only assistance the men can get right now is at a private Islamic charity. Recent arrivals crowd around the bearded director of the charity. He tells the men he has no cash to help with the rent, but he can provide bags of food.

This is the problem for refugees in Jordan. On the one hand, Jordan is more open to new arrivals than any other country that borders Syria. Yet the government doesn’t have much to offer.

Jordan is already a country of refugees. It has hosted Palestinian refugees for decades. And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis came here after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Jordan calls them guests and allows them to go to government schools and hospitals for free.

But its resources are limited.

Calls For Help

Andrew Harper, who heads the Jordan office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, says the U.S. and other countries should provide assistance.

“Jordan can only do so much. Jordan suffers from a lack of infrastructure, it has a very young population, it doesn’t have very much water,” he says. “I spoke to some Jordanians who basically had their own family, and they also had two other families there. And they’re saying, ‘We’re doing what we need to do, because we should do this.’ But there’s only so long they can do this.”

Jordanian analyst Yasar Qatarneh says regardless of whether it gets international assistance, Jordan has to walk a fine line with its stance on Syria.

No one is sure what will happen in Syria. Will Bashar Assad’s government survive or fall? And even if it does fall, Qatarneh says, Jordan’s rulers don’t want to see their neighbor ruled by Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We cannot remain silent to what our brothers in Syria are facing under the Assad regime, yet at the same time we don’t want to replace Assad’s regime to have a puppet regime in the hands of the Muslim Brothers,” Qatarneh said.

Jordan has its own outspoken branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, though they have not engaged in violence. While the Syrian opposition is not currently dominated by Islamist parties, Qatarneh says Jordan, like all countries with interests in what happens in Syria, is planning for all possibilities.

Rima Marrouch and Sean Carberry contributed to this story.

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An extremist for love in the Middle East

Heavenly Father,

Teach us to be extremists for the Gospel. Teach us to mirror heroes of the faith like the Apostle Paul who did whatever it took to communicate your message to his audience.

Remove from us division an hostility. Teach us to understand before being understood. Remove from us bitterness and hatred of our enemies.

The Middle East and the world are in dire need of creative and peaceful extremists. Please show us how to be this.


“I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

“Perhaps the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime—the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.”

Martin Luther King in Letter From a Birmingham Jail”.

In Gaza, Calls for Change Put Hamas at a Crossroad.
By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, March 14, 2012.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a house divided. Its leaders say there are divisions among the ranks as they try to grapple with where to push the movement: toward moderation or a continued commitment to armed resistance against Israel.

Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based political analyst, wonders where Hamas is headed in the next two to three years. He says the changes in the region after the Arab Spring not only shook the world, but they also forced groups like Hamas to reassess where they stand, in terms of old alliances and future direction.

“Hamas is living in the Middle East; they don’t live in a vacuum,” Shaban says. “Hamas has to cope with or respond to these new challenges. This has created a lot of debate within [the] Hamas movement itself.”

Debate And Disagreements

Hamas is filled with contradictions.

On the one hand, it is a Sunni Muslim group that was supported by Shiite Iran; until recently it had its base in Alawite-controlled Syria. It is viewed as a terrorist organization by the West and Israel, responsible for suicide bombings and rocket attacks. But it is also a government, administrating the lives of 1.6 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

If you were to visit Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef in Gaza, you’ll hear of a Hamas that is now willing to turn away from armed resistance.

“Because of the situation now because of the Arab revolution … we shouldn’t give the Israelis any excuse to continue their incursion or aggression against us,” Yousef says. “That’s why we resort to this nonviolent approach or the popular peaceful resistance; we hope the world community will respond positively to what we are doing.”

But go to see Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas’ founders, and the message is very different.

“Hamas is still committed to its principles as a liberating movement [and] freedom fighters,” Zahar says.

These fault lines also extend to where Hamas will get its support.

Last month in Cairo, the group publicly broke with its erstwhile benefactor Syria, saying it supported the right of the people there to get rid of the Assad regime. That angered Iran, one of Syria’s biggest backers, and up until recently the country that provided the most money to Hamas.

But after the revolutions in the Middle East, Hamas is not looking to Tehran anymore but to Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas was founded as an offshoot of the brotherhood, and its leaders are looking to strengthen that relationship. Hamas now says it won’t intervene in any conflict between Iran and Israel over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Promoting Change

The man leading the charge toward change is Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ long-exiled political leader. He’s been pushing reconciliation with the rival Fatah movement, which holds sway in the West Bank.

Yousef, the Hamas leader, sees Meshaal as a positive force in Hamas.

“I think what Khaled Meshaal has done is something great and he should be respected for that,” he says.

But Zahar, the group’s founder, is unhappy at many of Meshaal’s recent decisions and says he is happy the political leader is stepping down.

“He spent more than 17 years as chairman of Hamas movement,” Zahar says. “I think it is good for him to leave now.”

Whatever the divisions, though, most Hamas members agree the Arab Spring has been good for the movement. Political Islam is on the rise throughout the region and Hamas leaders have traveled extensively.

Analyst Talal Okal in Gaza predicts the closer Hamas gets to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the more moderate it will become.

“The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has moderate politics … so [what] they want from Hamas [is] to moderate its political program to have reconciliation,” Okal says. “They are not encouraging violence against Israel.”

But Okal warns the upheaval in the region is far from over, and Hamas is still deciding its future.

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A prayer for hospitality in Turkey

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the kindness that many of the Turkish people have shown to the strangers in their land. It seems that all over your world, strangers are in need and hospitality is needed. Not only in Turkey, grant patience to those who are giving food and shelter to the wandering.

Here in America, help us provide for the needs of the displaced and those that are seeking sanctuary. Who knows why people are outcast or leave their homes but give us resources that we can help provide for their concerns. In doing so, we know that we are actually giving food and shelter to you.


Syrian Refugees May Be Wearing Out Turks’ Welcome.
By Sean Carberry, March 11, 2012

It could be a scene from almost any school in the world: rows of young kids reciting their lessons, the girls dressed in shades of pink and sporting Hello Kitty backpacks, the boys in dark clothing, looking a little restless.

But this makeshift school is in a concrete farmhouse on the outskirts of Antakya, in southern Turkey’s Hatay province near the border with Syria. And the 156 students — aged 6 to 13 — are all refugees from cities and towns across Syria.

The school has been in this house only for two weeks. Before that, students attended classes in a public park because the Turkish government kicked them out of a previous building.

Mustafa Shakir is a school administrator and imam from the Syrian city of Latakia. He’s cofounder of this school, which started out four months ago with 15 students in his apartment in Antakya.

“When we started thinking about the school, we felt that our kids shouldn’t be out in the streets or watching the news,” Shakir says. “And we feel this is part of the revolution, our duty now is to make schools and educate the children.”

Shakir says that Syrian President Bashar Assad is trying to break his country’s people, and educating the children will make the revolution stronger.

Expanding Services For Refugees

Nearly 12,000 Syrians are living in camps in Hatay province, with several thousand more outside the camps. The school in Antakya city, for example, serves the nearly 250 Syrian families living there. Syrians are getting other services, too, including health care, and are setting up more schools and clinics of their own.

But all of this has led their Turkish hosts to start questioning how long they want their guests around.

Wael Kurdy, a 24-year-old Syrian who arrived in Turkey last year, is one of a small group of young doctors and medical students looking after wounded Syrians. During the day, he visits Syrian patients in Turkish hospitals. Kurdy often spends evenings in a cafe across the street from the city’s public hospital.

On a recent night, the young doctor flips through a stack of receipts and patient records. He says few of the Syrians are getting appropriate medical care.

His phone rings. It’s a Syrian woman who says her medication has run out and wants his help getting more.

“We decided to make a public clinic for the refugees outside the camps. This came from our own experience here,” says Kurdy, who fled Syria last July after being arrested for protesting the Assad regime. “My mother was sick and I didn’t know where to take her.”

The small clinic is located in a bottom-floor apartment in a residential neighborhood where cats and chickens roam the dirt streets.

Abu Baha, one of the doctors there, says there are many Syrian patients in the hospitals, but the clinic has only six beds. “We intend to rent a bigger building,” he says.

Turks’ Frustration Growing

Some Turks in Hatay province are starting to lose patience with the refugees. While many say they don’t mind or even notice the Syrians, a recent feature in a local paper quoted business owners who said they are fed up. They are losing money because unrest on the border has dampened tourism in the province. And some locals are starting to feel they are being taken advantage of by the refugees.

Yasar Altunay runs a small grocery a few blocks from the clinic.

“We’ve done all this to help them in any way we can, but it’s like they expect it,” he says.

He says he and other locals have cosigned leases, provided phone and Internet service to the refugees, and given them food. He has rented out his properties to a number of Syrian activists.

“They can take a house and turn it into a barn in the matter of a month,” he says. “My hope is that things go back to some sense of normalcy in Syria and they can go back, and it will be better for Turkey and our economy.”

But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. For now, the kids at the makeshift school seem perfectly happy just being kids, running around the little playground. And the teachers hope the Turkish government will let them keep the school running as long as needed.

[Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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A prayer for restorative justice for teenagers

Heavenly Father,

Please help us to see our biases. Help us to realize what we are doing if and when we treat our children differently and unfairly. Father, I do not fear that we will overlook wrongdoing but I fear that we will overreact to wrongdoing.

Our homes and neighborhoods are not all conducive to raising healthy children. I wonder how many children that are punished in the systems described below are more products if their environment than individuals who act under their own free will.

May we find creative ways to bring up children that love you. May we find ways to better respond to destructive behaviors without further damaging our souls and community. May we find ways of restorative justice which can bring back offenders into the community.

Report: Minority Students Receive Harsher Punishments
by Eyder Peralta

A new report from the Education Department finds that minority students receive much harsher punishment than their white counterparts. The report finds that more than 70 percent of cases referred to police in school-related issues involved black or Hispanic students.

The AP reports:

“Black students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to an early snapshot of the report released to reporters. The findings come from a national collection of civil rights data from 2009-10 of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation.

“‘The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters.

“Duncan said some school officials might not have been aware of inconsistencies in how they handle discipline, and he hoped the report would be an eye-opener.”

The report also found that fully 35 percent of students arrested were black and 37 were Hispanic. “Black students made up 18% of the students in the sample, but they were 35% of students suspended once and 39% of students expelled, the report said,” the AP adds.

The New York Times drills down into the statistics and finds that black males especially face tough punishment. The Times reports:

“One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Over all, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.

“And in districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies.

“‘Education is the civil rights of our generation,’ said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday. ‘The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.'”

That number — the one of expulsions under zero-tolerance policies — are important, because one would expect them to be somewhat proportional to the student population.

The American Civil Liberties Union told the Times they find those numbers especially troubling because they “show that students of color and students with disabilities are increasingly being pushed out of schools, oftentimes into the criminal justice system.”

Duncan will deliver remarks about the report later today. The full report is expected to be released then.

[Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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A Wall Street Prayer

Heavenly Father,

It is difficult to imagine having to live your life this year with less stuff than you had last year. It is difficult to have sympathy for the privileged. It is difficult to see greed in myself, especially in comparison to others.

You remind us to not store treasures on this earth but to store treasures in Heaven. It does not matter to you if our treasures on earth are plenty or few- you want us to hold loosely to our possessions, within our temporal hands.

Thank you for the talents that you have blessed men like Andrew. Thank you for the talents that you have blessed men like me. May we seek to trust in you and your ability to take care of our needs. Our needs seem great and can overshadow what you prefer for us. Thank you for your many blessings. May we use them to bless others.

From NPR’s, “Wall Street Bonuses- The Other Side of the Story” on March 2, 2012.

Until this week, New Yorker Andrew Schiff’s personal finances were his own personal business. That changed last Wednesday when Schiff — communications and marketing director at the Wall Street brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital — was featured in a Bloomberg article about how smaller bonuses are leaving Wall Street workers strapped for cash.

More than 1,500 people have commented on the story, and it’s fair to say most of those comments aren’t sympathetic. Schiff tells NPR’s Robert Siegel that he regrets becoming the public face of the 1 percent’s woes.

“I never intended to do it and I probably should have seen it coming,” Schiff says. “I didn’t want to be a poster child for greed.”

That said, Schiff doesn’t deny that he’s done well for himself. He makes $350,000 a year, lives with his wife and two children in a 1,200-square-foot Brooklyn apartment, has one child in private school and rents a summer house in Connecticut.

“I certainly am aware that on a national average I’m doing very, very well,” he says. “I just find it very expensive and more expensive than I would have thought. If you would have asked me five years ago, ‘Hey, you’re going to make this kind of money,’ I would have said, ‘Wow, everything I’ve ever wanted about living in New York would have been accessible to me.’ And the reality is that it’s not.”

Setting The Record Straight

As a communications director, Schiff concedes that his involvement in the Bloomberg story was “not my finest moment.” But there are a few things he’d like to say to set the record straight.

For one thing, Schiff says he was a bad example to use in the piece because his bonus usually amounts to about one-sixth of his salary, or around $60,000, a far cry from 80 percent many Wall Street workers receive. He says that after taxes, his bonus wouldn’t even cover private school tuition for his two kids.

“I told [the reporter] about things like the traffic jam that I was stuck in and he used that as a metaphor of my entire life, the idea of being stuck,” Schiff says of the article’s opening, “even though I expressly told him that wasn’t how I felt.”

That said, he does see the drop in Wall Street bonuses as potentially problematic, though he’s quick to clarify, “I use the word ‘problem’ in relative terms.”

Schiff explains that if big bonus earners assume those bonuses are going to keep coming, they might buy into a lifestyle that becomes untenable once the bonuses stop.

“They have to make big changes,” Schiff says. “That’s emotional. It might seem like a high-class, frivolous problem to people with much lower means, but it’s going to mean a lot to them.”

For all the grief — and colorful emails — he’s been getting, Schiff says the bright side to all the unwanted attention is that it has people talking. “It’s possible to build some common ground,” he says, “by just having a frank discussion.” [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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A prayer to be gracious with those that disagree with us.

Heavenly Father,

Please help us to better understand each other. We are often hostile to one another. We often assume the worst of intention with those that we disagree with or do not like. Please help us to respect each other, even if we whole-heartedly disagree with each other. Please teach us to be gracious with one another as you are gracious with us.


The Quran is considered to be the speech of God to humankind — word for word — explains Imam Johari Abdul-Malik.

“The traditional way of disposing of used or damaged copies of the text of the Quran is by burning it,” he says.

But Malik, the director of outreach for the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., says that doesn’t include burning it with the trash. That’s what U.S. officials say mistakenly happened with the Qurans in Afghanistan. The burning of Qurans at a NATO airbase near Kabul led to days of rioting by Muslims who say it was a desecration of their holy book and an affront to Islam. President Obama has since apologized for the incident.

Islam certainly isn’t the only religion that has rules about how to handle its sacred text. Many faiths prescribe specific rituals for disposing of them, and the bottom line is respect for the words on the page.

Malik, who spent time in Afghanistan in November 2010, says the troops should have asked for guidance.

“If one said, ‘Well, we’re burning some Qurans today,’ that wouldn’t incite riots in Afghanistan,” he says. “The problem is when one puts a malicious intent as part of the burning.”

Malik says the assumption there is that Americans disrespect Muslims. That’s why there would be such a visceral response to burning the Quran, even though a layperson could do so under Muslim law — as long as the intent was respectful.

The Quran may also be buried. It should be wrapped in something pure and buried in a place where people do not walk.

Many of the religious leaders who spoke to NPR agreed that burial was the most respectful way to dispose of their sacred text. In the Greek Orthodox Church, Bishop Andonios says, either a layperson or clergyman could put the Holy Scripture to rest.

“The appropriate way — if it was necessary to dispose of that item that had been torn or water-aged — would be to bury it or burn it,” he says.

The bishop, who is chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, says no specific ceremony is involved.

“In the case of most laypeople, they would bring it to the church and let the parish priest dispose of it,” he says.

Rabbi Menachem Genack of the Orthodox Union says “the Torah is handled with an enormous amount of respect.” Generally, he says, the sacred texts are buried.

Genack is the rabbinic administrator and CEO of the OU Kosher Division. He says shaimos — documents containing the name of God in Hebrew — are treated in a similar manner.

“You can’t just burn them or throw them in the garbage,” he says. “So either they are buried as the Torah would be, or they’re put away.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America doesn’t have an official policy for the disposal of Bibles. However, “for some it would be burying, which would be a sacred thing to do just as you would bury a loved one,” says the Rev. Donald McCoid, an assistant in the office of the presiding bishop.

The Rev. Monsignor Kevin Irwin, a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., says the Bible “should never be not seen to be revered, or valued and treasured.”

Irwin says he also prefers disposal by burial “because it is so sacred, and you don’t want it to be perceived to be disgraced even by burning.”

The sense of the sacred is also paramount at the Baha’i National Center in Evanston, Ill.

“We feel that Baha’u’llah was a divine figure,” says Thomas Murphy, who works in the office of the secretary at the center.

Murphy says the Baha’i faith is centered around a figure equal in stature to Jesus or Muhammad or Krishna, and his words are to be treated with respect.

“There are no ceremonies attached to the treatment of books containing the sacred word,” he says.

Murphy says the disposal of books containing their sacred texts must be done with a sense of dignity and reverence. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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