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Education board member: ‘Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims’

May 16, 1997 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A state Board of Education member, talking about displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools, had a ready suggestion for groups who might object to it.

``Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims,″ Dr. Henry Jordan said during the board’s finance and legislative committee meeting.

``And put that in the minutes,″ he added.

The remarks made Tuesday were expunged from the written minutes, but were recorded on tape. The (Columbia) State obtained the tape under the Freedom of Information Act.

Jordan, a surgeon who failed in a bid to get the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 1994, said Thursday he thought the meeting was over and members were engaged in private conversation.

The tape, however, shows the committee proceeding to other items on the agenda.

Jordan also said he didn’t mean for his comments to be taken literally.

``I was expressing my frustration. We can’t teach basic Christianity even from a historical standpoint, but they can teach about Muslims and Buddhists,″ he said. ``They can teach any kind of cult. Buddhism is a cult. So is Islam. I’m getting a little tired of it.″

In a television interview today, Jordan said no one wants to be tolerant of Christians, although Christians are expected to tolerate other religions, adding: ``I did not wish these two religious groups any ill will.″

Jordan plans to offer a proposal at the next board meeting to allow students to vote to display the commandments at their school and to pay for it with private money.

``What I want to do is promote Christianity as the only true religion,″ he said. ``This nation was founded to worship, honor and glorify Jesus Christ, not Mohammed, not Buddha.″

State Superintendent of Education Barbara Nielsen has dissociated herself and her department from Jordan’s remarks. ``He’s one person, and I don’t think his comments reflect the views of the board,″ she said.

Carl Eisenstadt, a leader of the Buddhist Dharmadhatu in Columbia, said Jordan obviously was intolerant of other religions, while Muhammad Sayed Adley, the imam for the Masjid Al Muslimiin mosque in Columbia, said a school board member should not advocate the killing of Muslims or anyone else in a public meeting.

The two men oppose displaying the Ten Commandments because they feel such efforts are designed to promote Christianity.

It appears unlikely that Jordan could be removed from the board for his comments. The governor can remove state board members only if they are convicted of misconduct.

Jordan was appointed to a four-year term on the 17-member board last month. Board members are chosen by state legislators from each of the state’s judicial districts.