Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea, Politics > Trip to retrieve PNG bible from US cost more than king’s ransom

Trip to retrieve PNG bible from US cost more than king’s ransom

Cover of King James Bible

Cover of King James Bible

The Australian

The Papua New Guinea government has funded a visit to the US last week led by parliamentary Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc, with five other MPs and 30 ­pastors, to receive a bible printed in 1611 that had been bequeathed to the country by an evangelist who died aged 77 in Indiana.

Their travel costs considerably exceeded the up to $95,000 value of the bible — whose translation was authorised by King James I of England and VI of Scotland, and which is one of a few hundred original copies that survive.

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Mr Zurenuoc claimed the copy he brought back to PNG from the family of Gene Hood, a Nazarene Church pastor who operated and hosted gospel radio stations and missionary programs, is one of only five, and is “the best and most well preserved”.

The return of the bible party to Port Moresby’s Jackson’s Airport was acclaimed by a rapturous crowd of about 20,000 people.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill formally received the bible, carried through the crowd on its wooden case, from Mr ­Zurenuoc on a stage specially built for the ceremony.

Mr O’Neill said the new ­“national treasure … adds to the sense of significance as we ­define our nation” as it ­approach­ed the 40th anniversary of its ­independence.

The bible will be housed in the parliament building, but details have not yet been announced.

Mr Zurenuoc was accused of Taliban-style cultural terrorism, when 18 months ago he launched a “cleansing exercise” to destroy the parliament’s traditional ­carvings and totem poles, which took three years by specially commissioned artists to produce — but which he viewed as pagan and demonic. He ordered these massive hardwood carvings, including an ornate lintel, which showcased the country’s diverse traditional skills, to be chopped up and burned.

PNG Trade Union Congress general secretary John Paska led criticism of the Speaker’s actions then and last week.

“I value antiquity and like others welcome the arrival of this bible and its placement in parliament,” Mr Paska said.

But he said he parted company “from those who advocate religiosity as a panacea”.

The core issues, he said, “are about good governance, abuse of power, and the fundamental constitutional tenet of freedom of religion and individual rights to worship in whatever religion or denomination”.

The Post-Courier newspaper hosted a lively debate in its pages on the issue. “In the past, those who opposed God were stoned to death, and Paska should be happy that PNG is a democratic country, so he will never face that consequence,” wrote Isaac Seeto of ­Hohola.

The PNG Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated that plans to “enthrone” the bible in parliament provided a good opportunity to ­reflect on the real meaning of “Word of God,” which has been present in “the heart language” of Papua New Guineans for more than a century.

And PNG Anglican Archbishop Clyde Igara expressed ­concern that only a single group, the PNG Bible Church, was involved in the episode — about which the country’s mainstream churches were kept in the dark.

  1. Eruel William
    May 5, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I would advise this blog not to comment or consider this issue as Corrupt because we are dealing with God of this Universe rather than the Govt systems and the
    Bsbylonian systems we are following.
    Because of your views I see as supporting John Paska, I would be very very careful as owners of this blog.

    I therefore would like my name be removed from this blog.

    Thank you.

  2. Vaclav Havel
    May 9, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Why is the state subsidising religious activities like this?! This is supposed to be a democratic country, not a theocracy like Iran! And don’t give me the usual bulls**t about this being a ”Christian” country. That moniker is merely nominal, serving primarily as a way for the country’s elites to cynically galvanise popular sympathy and support from a public whose own cultural preferences and beliefs tend to fall under the rubric of Judeo-Christianity. They don’t care about us, they just want to do what they want, all the while goading us into (tacit) approval of their actions by feigning solidarity with our concerns.

  3. Vaclav Havel
    May 10, 2015 at 12:38 am


    So you think religion should in effect be exempt from all criticism, even legitimate ones?! You, my dear fellow, are acting as an apologist for some of the worst corrupt activities being carried out by our present government, all being done under the aegis of religion. I suppose you would also wouldn’t hesitate to condone the many terrible things that were done in the name of religion throughout human history, such as the Spanish Inquisition, wouldn’t you?! Check your ignorance at the door before deigning to partake in a discussion like this.

    • Eruel William
      June 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      There is a difference between religion which someone seeking a form of self gratification of self fulfillment, They are in fact searching for a Kingdom. You can never understand what I am saying unless you have a kingdom mindset. I am not Religion , I just love the Lord and I live under a new covenant of Grace.

  4. Kanka Kops
    May 10, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    The genocide of Bosnia in Europe during the 1990s was committed by Serbian Christians whose efforts were praised by many Christians in the name of God. At least this particular piece of idiocy didn’t involve slaughter of innocent people, only the upcoming destruction of a 400 year old treasure that obviously has been physically mistreated through handling from the moment it arrived in PNG.

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