Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bible "Soliciting"

Bucknell University believes that handing out free Bibles on campus is "soliciting." provides four major definitions for the word "solicit:"

1. to seek for (something) by entreaty, earnest or respectful request, formal application, etc.: He solicited aid from the minister.

2. to entreat or petition (someone or some agency): to solicit the committee for funds.

3. to seek to influence or incite to action, esp. unlawful or wrong action.

4. to offer to have sex with in exchange for money.

Notice that 2. and 4. entail or allow for money changing hands. Neither applies to the linked story, because giving someone a gift is not the same as asking him for money. This would be like saying, "Sorry, no soliciting," when my wife hands me my birthday present.

Also keep in mind that two of the four definitions have negative connotations (sex for money, and inciting illegal behavior).

Typically, we see "No Soliciting" signs at restaurants or stores, or other businesses. In these contexts, the signs mean: "No expanding the customer base for your product on our property; that's our job."

That leaves us with number 1. "Respectfully requesting" that one read a copy of the Holy Bible -- and giving it to him free of charge -- requires an administration - issued permit? We don't even know if the student organization went that far. Perhaps its members simply placed Bibles in the hands of passersby, and said, "Go with Okenya."

I shudder to think what bureaucratic pitfalls lie in wait for those audacious enough to actually read that radical volume.

I contend that we'd know nothing of this story if the tome had been The Audacity of Hope, by Our Savior from the Serengeti.


Because there would be no story.

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