SBL : ‘The Bible should not be brandished as a weapon’

The following statement is reposted here with permission from the Council of the Society of Biblical Literature. It first was posted on the council’s website on June 2.

The Council of the Society of Biblical Literature and Executive Staff of SBL issue the following statement:
We are appalled at the murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 by police. We grieve the murder of Breonna Taylor and many others who have died because of anti-Blackness.
We are committed to the clear and unequivocal assertion that Black Lives Matter.
We applaud the spirit of protest that has emerged around the world as a result of that heinous act, while lamenting the violence that has also broken out in pockets of that otherwise peaceful and necessary protest.
Black Lives Matter.
The Bible matters.
We protest the actions by the president of the United States, who, on the evening of 1 June 2020, called for military action against US residents on US soil, had peaceful protesters tear-gassed out of his way, stood uninvited before an Episcopal parish, and waved a Bible.
We call out the president for abusing what is for many a treasured spiritual resource and symbol, and we deplore his violation of sacred space.
We call out political leaders to engage the Bible in thoughtful and responsible ways. The Bible should not be brandished as a weapon to attack humanity or to violate the dignity of the human spirit. We commit to the work of studying and exposing how the Bible has been and continues to be used in this way.
Black Lives Matter.
The 2017 JBL Forum on Black Lives Matter for Critical Biblical Scholarship is available for free download here, beginning on page 203:


  • Cantor Monica O'Desky

    The President is uninvited in front of a church? Does the Episcopal church only invite certain people? Not the ones that I know! How do you know what is/was in his heart at the time he carried his mother’s bible? Could it have been genuine fear and concern for the American public? Why is there no grieving for the hundreds upon hundreds of Black people killed in their own communities by fellow blacks? Children caught in the line of fire while eating their breakfast cereal? I personally deplore the hypocrisy by this and many other groups and their efforts to foment divisiveness and hatred in our communities in the name of academics.


  • Although we do can never know for sure what is in a person’s heart (including Donald Trump’s in this case), we do have lots of previous behavior by him that is a good indicator. Multiple marriages, multiple affairs, lying in many cases, publicly ridiculing a physically disabled person, making up his own “scientific” facts . . . Trying to defend him takes a lot of imagination.


  • We may not know what is in his heart, but his actions have exhibited his beliefs and values. They seem quite clear to me.


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