Two dozen Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Quran to a state panel on diversity after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent people.
The books were given to Oklahoma's 149 senators and representatives by the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.
The lawmakers' intention to return the Qur'ans led to their denunciation by the Jewish Federation of Tulsa and several local interfaith groups, as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Like other public arguments involving American politicians and Qur'ans in recent years, this debate shows how much attention public officials pay (even if clumsily, as in this case) to the iconic functions of scriptures--far more than do most scholars of those scriptures and religions.
November 10, 2007: The Tulsa World now reports that both the lawmakers and the Ethnic American Advisory Council have been surprised by the worldwide press attention to this story. So the politicians underestimated the iconic function of scriptures, too. This is yet another example of why serious analysis of the phenomenon of iconic texts is needed.