The Strange and Mysterious Case of the Donated King James I Bible To Papua New Guinea

By Martin Kamu

One area of our life where there shouldn't be silly little secrets is with respect to our national faith. Christian principles are the stated centerpiece of our nation.   Christian principles include honesty, and the open, willing sharing of information.
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Papua New Guinea MPs Theodore Zurenuoc and Loujaya Kouza have been in the centre of crazy activities in the past and are now on centre stage in the strange case of the donated American Bible.
These realities unfortunately seem to be ignored by supposedly Christian leaders like MP Theo Zurenuoc and MP Loujaya Kouza, whose extremist versions of Christianity have already embarrassed PNG before the world.  Recall that it wasn't all that long ago that their axing away at the "evil carvings" in parliament house were laughed at around the world, while here in PNG their actions infuriated the very churches that first brought Christianity to this place.   


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MP Theo Zurenuoc made PNG into a world laughingstock in 2013 when he ordered the removal of priceless traditional carvings with the argument that they were symbols of evil and Godlessness and responsible for all the troubles PNG was suffering.   
Thus, it is good to have a healthy suspicion of whatever latest idea this duo comes up with.   We now hear they have secured the donation of a 400 year old Bible from the United States, a first edition of the King James version, published in 1611.      


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Supposedly  an extremely rare first edition copy of the King James I Bible, printed in 1611, has been donated to PNG by an American government body, and MPs Zurenuoc and Kouza have flown to America to pick it up and bring back to PNG.
Zurenuoc says that it is one of only 3 copies in existence.   This is false:  175 copies are known of the first edition printed in 1611.   But only rarely do one of those copies ever come up for sale and the last copy sold happened years ago and fetched  over K1.2 million at auction.     Here in PNG we are used to politicians stealing not 1 million but hundreds of millions.  In the world generally, even K1.2 million is a lot of money.   Few people or institutions even in developed countries have the money to go spending so much money on a single book, much less giving away anything worth over K1 million.   In considering those realities, we in PNG should feel truly blessed that we have received such an expensive gift.    
A recent EMTV story (http://www.emtv.com.pg/article.aspx?slug=PNG-s-40th-Anniversary-Gift-from-USA&) gives us one of the more complete stories of this donated Bible.  There have been articles in the PNG newspapers about it too.  
Already a  delegation of MPs, led by Zurenuoc-Kouza and accompanied by some taxpayer funded tag along assistants have left for the United States to receive this special Bible and bring it back to PNG.  
Because PNG taxpayers money is funding this trip for Zurenuoc-Kouza and other MPs, everything about this gift should be public knowledge.   Unfortunately a lot of information is missing, starting with who exactly is donating this very rare Bible to PNG.
At first, there was not a clear statement that clarified that it was not Obama or the national USA government donating this Bible.  In fact the USA national government would never provide such a gift to another nation.   United States is majority Christian in population but has never called itself a Christian country.  It has a completely different philosophy and constitutional law (see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state_in_the_United_State)  on the role of religion in government compared to PNG, keeping religion mostly separate from government, unlike what we do in PNG.     
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Some people behind the scenes must have realised this and starting asking questions since MP Zurenuoc finally stated that it is not the USA national government giving the Bible but the minor American State of Indiana.   That does not make this story clearer.   All American states are also bound by their national  constitution that says church and state must be kept separate.   Christian churches and Christianity can't mix with the government in America like they do in PNG.   With that in mind, why would the State of Indiana government even own a copy of this rare Bible?  
Let's forget about all those doubts for a moment and focus on something else.   Because of the extreme rarity of this gift to PNG, surely the governor of Indiana state would set up a special event to hand over the Bible.   Yet Zurenuoc-Kouza are now in America and still, even today,  there is not one word in the world news media about this that has come from American sources.   Searching news.google.com and typing in various key words regarding this gift, it becomes clear that all the announcements of this gift are coming from the mouths of Zurenuoc-Kouza.   
Even if somehow there is a sensible explanation about how an American State Government would have and give away a very rare and expensive Bible, why would they willingly send such a precious 400 year holy book to any moldy and humid tropical environment that is guaranteed to eventually destroys everything made of paper.   Even odder, why would they send such a precious treasure to a particular tropical country government that has displayed its inability to look after such things.   The government has long failed to provide proper environmental storage conditions for all the PNG National Museum, National Archive, and National Library treasures we already have.   There has been deterioration in some of these treasures because of the government's constant inability to maintain uninterrupted air conditioning and humidity control.    Sending a precious 400 year old Bible to PNG to rot away in the tropical humidity of PNG seems almost like flushing the Bible down the toilet.     
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There are too many unanswered questions about this story.   It is clear that we the citizens of PNG have not  been told the full truth.  Too often in PNG, it is assumed that we are ignorant and stupid, politicans can say anything they want and the newspapers will blindly print it, followed by the people of PNG blindly believing anything that the newspapers say.    Once again  our PNG media has swallowed everything about this Bible gift story that politicians have told them.  They have printed it word for word without asking questions to get more information or challenging any of what they have been told to get to any hidden truths in the story.   It is because of the utter failure of our PNG media to do the job they're supposed to do that PNG Blogs and similar sites on the internet have appeared.  That seems to be the only way that in PNG today we can have access to the real truths of what goes on in our country.   
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In this example, there is something not right about the story of the donated Bible.  Important details are missing, including who in the Indiana government made the decision to give the Bible to PNG, and how the State of Indiana government came to own a religious relict in a country where church and state are strongly kept separate. 
Also if this story is true, why would the people of Indiana allow their government to just give away such a rare treasure to a country (PNG) that probably very few people there have even heard of?    Don't forget-in countries where the democracies function properly, citizens don't sit back and stay silent when their government does something stupid.  They demand answers and sometimes protest in the streets instead of looking like brainless stones.  But as regards the gifting of this Bible from the American State of Indiana, there has been no stories appear to document the usual American activism.
The fact that Zurenuoc-Kouza have not given some very important details from us is a clue that they are actually hiding something about this story.   What could it be?   
POSSIBILITY 1-Could it be that the Bible is not being donated by the State of Indiana but by a religious group who lives in Indiana?   If so, why hide that information?    Is it because they were worried that they might have to pay for the trip out of their own pockets if it were found out that no American governement, either national or state, had anything to do with this donation?
POSSIBILITY 2-Could it be that this isn't even a first edition of the King James Bible version but a slightly later edition or a reprinted copy and thus nothing near as valuable an object as what they are getting us to believe?    If so, why hide that information?    Are they trying to avoid paying for their trip to America out of their own pockets as they most certainly would have to do if it were found out that the Bible they're bringing back something that isn't very valuable at all?  
POSSIBILITY 3-Could it be that Zurenuoc-Kouza wanted an excuse to go to America at PNG taxpayers expense in order to carry out a hidden and perhaps crazy mission?    Could there be a new Zurenuoc-Kouza  cargo cult distortion of Christianity behind all this?   We don't need another silly story that spreads like wildlife around the world and makes PNG look backwards and stuck in the dark ages.  


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The only reason why all this has become a mystery is because MPs Zurenouc and Kouza have not followed their responsibilities as political leaders in a democractic society and fully divulged everything about this bible donation. It is clear that they are either falsifying parts of this story or hiding important pieces of information. We obviously cannot depend upon their cooperation. We have no choice but to look other directions for the truth. If anyone out there who is reading this article has more information on this great mystery of the donated Bible, please enlighten the taxpayers of Papua New Guinea.  

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