Representative Dorman donates Qur'an gift to prison minister

Lawton_Oklahoma's Centennial has passed, but a controversial act still lingers.  Sixteen state lawmakers have refused a Centennial gift - a copy of the Muslin Qur'an from the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.  Some say it promotes terrorism, and after senators and representatives were presented the Qur'an and Centennial bibles as gifts, they refused the Qur'ans.

However, legislators who accepted the gift received their copies this month, and Representative Joe Dorman of Rush Springs is using his in a very beneficial way.  In an act of good faith, he donated his Centennial edition of the Qur'an to prison Minister Eddie Cost.  "Some of the prisoners are Muslim in faith, they have to understand the Muslim faith and be able to work with them," says Dorman.

The gesture doesn't go unnoticed.  "There is a good Muslim faith population in every prison, every prison and every county jail will probably have someone in it," says Cost.  He ministers all over Oklahoma, and says learning every faith is important.  This way, ministers can better understand prisoners and reach out to them.  "I have books of all the religions for prisons because that's so necessary if you're going to be a volunteer," he says.

Although Dorman found a beneficial way to use his Qur'an, other members of legislature rejected their copies.  "I think rather than turning it away they should have tried to find a positive way to use the book," he says.  "It does no good just to tell a group, simply we don't want it."

Representative Rex Duncan of Sand Springs is one of the legislators who declined the gift.  He explained why he rejected the gift.  "Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology."  When asked to explain his statement, he says it's written in black and white.  "That's exactly what it says," says Duncan.  "I think it's pretty straightforward.  By their own admission those are the exact words.  They don't all practice that."

Senator Mike Schulz of Altus also declined the gift.  Although, at the time of broadcast of this story, Sen. Schultz was unavailable for comment, he later explained his refusal of the gift as a conflict in beliefs.  He said, from that standpoint, the Qur'an wasn't a piece of literature he was interested in.

Dorman says education about other religions is important.  "Ignorance does no one any good," he says.  "We have to understand all the faiths so that we can reach out."  Dorman is also in the process of drafting legislation to convert a prison into a reintegration facility.