By Ivan Fernando
A new English language translation of the bible known as “The Progressive Word Bible” was recently completed by the National Council For Progressive Spirituality, representing groups as diverse as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, Native-Americans, and Secular Humanists. The new bible contains many exciting and ground-breaking features. Instead of God being referred to by purely masculine or gender-neutral terms such as Father or Creator, the new translation uses the terms Mother or Great Spirit and appropriate feminine personal pronouns, eliminating masculine pronouns for God entirely.
The most unique feature of the new bible is its extra content, namely, extra inspired books! Unlike traditional bibles, the PWB contains the famous speech “I Have A Dream” By the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It also contains an anthology of writings by Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi. The translators explain that Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela were “No less inspired by God than Moses, Abraham, Jesus, or the Apostle Paul. We have merely updated the bible for the twenty-first century, incorporating the inspired writings of recent prophets and visionaries to produce the most complete bible ever.”
The new bible recently received an unexpected boost in support when it was endorsed by President Barack Obama, who stated that he intends to use the new bible exclusively for his own personal devotional reading. President Obama is asking senators, congressman, and other government representatives to take their oaths of office by placing their hands exclusively on the Progressive Word Bible during their swearing in ceremonies. Doing so, President Obama noted, will show one’s commitment to diversity and will celebrate the fact that America is one nation, made up of many different ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations.
Certain bible verses which may be interpreted by some extremists and bigots as seeming to advocate sexism, homophobia or even racism have been removed entirely and replaced with beautiful positive affirmations celebrating diversity, based on race, gender and sexual orientation. The creation story in Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 3:24 has been entirely removed and replaced with an article by the famous scientist Richard Dawkins about the beauty and the inspirational nature of the big bang, the formation of the solar system, and human evolution over millions of years.
In order to ensure a true diversity of viewpoints the Progressive Word Bible Translation Team was made up of Feminist authors and activists, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered activists, African-American civil rights activists, Hispanic community organizers and diverse group of social justice advocates. Translators spent over four years evaluating the new bible to ensure that any offensive passages or content would be omitted or replaced to ensure an updated and modern bible relevant to today’s world.
The Progressive Word Bible is not, however, without controversy. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Estate representing the children of Dr. King is suing to stop the production and sale of the bible. King’s children claim that they were never compensated for the reprinting of their father’s speech in the new bible translation. The children of Nelson Mandela are also demanding $ 6,000,000.00 in compensation, and are threatening to join the King heirs suit should the publishers refuse. Mahatma Ghandi’s heirs have proposed a compensation plan whereby they would receive royalties of 20% of the profits for the new bible, and have also threatened to file suit if their demand is not agreed to within 90 days.
“It simply disgusts me how these people stole our father’s work and are attempting to profit from it, trying to appropriate it for their own personal financial gain, to satisfy their boundless greed. They told us that our father’s speech ‘rightly belongs to the world.’ Indeed it does, but the legal copyright belongs to his family. We simply want what is owed to us and what we are entitled to. I think 50% of the net income from the sale of this new bible would be a fair settlement.” Martin Luther King III told us when reached for comment.
Let us hope that some kind of settlement or compromise can be reached so that this remarkable and beautiful new bible translation can be enjoyed by the people of the world. It would be a great tragedy if such a noble attempt to reform and salvage what many thoughtful people regard as a backward, regressive and bigoted book, responsible for innumerable wars, injustices, and acts of violence were to fail.
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