Enough is Enough
Jordan's latest comments warrant resignation


"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." We all know the fallacy of that old adage. Words can cause more damage than the mere physical harm incurred by a good solid object making contact with flesh and bone.

Words make contact with the psyche, the emotions, the heart and soul of an individual -- all areas that can't be healed with salve and bandages. Even after apologies have acknowledged the wrong of words once spoken, healing takes place only after a sincere admission of wrongdoing and a real effort to seek forgiveness through change. Then begins the slow process of rebuilding a trust.

In the case of Dr. Henry Jordan, the 52-year-old Anderson surgeon who said in a board meeting in May "Screw the Buddhists, kill the Muslims," those words continue to haunt. They echo in the hearts and minds of Buddhists and Muslims as well as in those who sympathize with them.

Jordan made a weak apology for his "poor choice of words...indelicate...hasty remarks." He said his remarks were made out of frustration and that "In our modern public school system tolerance seems to apply to every cult and religion except Christianity."

In response to all the negative publicity he received, he stated, "What hurts me more than anything else is this is a negative witness for Christ."

Difficult to detect was sincere remorse. It seemed more a case of, "Yes, I said it, but let me tell you why." Perhaps what the diverse religious community would rather have heard him say was, "I was wrong. I was cruel. How can I make it up to you?"

Following his apology, it was reported that his brother, state Rep. Brad Jordan (R-Anderson) walked into Dr. Jordan's Columbia hotel room the next morning. "I walked into that room and he was on his knees on the floor. At that time he was very, very sorry."

Whether Jordan was sorry for what he said or sorry about the possibility that his position might be threatened, it was enough for Gov. David Beasley to forgive and forget, stating that he felt Jordan was "truly remorseful" and "none of us is perfect."

Jordan still sits on the Board of Education.

One concerned Muslim citizen, David J. Sanders from Rock Hill, wrote a letter to Jordan and sent copies to state Superintendent of Education Barbara Nielsen and to the governor. Sanders expressed his hurt over the "malicious and hurtful thoughts/intentions" expressed by the remarks and requested "that you resign your position as a board member immediately."

Within days, Sanders received responses from both Nielsen and the governor, who expressed "dismay over Jordan's reported comments," suggesting forgiveness over comments that "do not represent those of most South Carolinians."

Sanders waited for a response from Jordan. The summer came and went. Finally the awaited letter from Jordan arrived, dated Sept. 2.

His letter began, "Usually I do not respond to negative letters but you requested a reply. If you are not smart enough to read through the news and see what really transpired from this news event, it is no wonder that you think salvation can be obtained by good works and having faith in Allah. Such a position ignores all Biblical prophecy that is currently unfolding before our very eyes."

Sanders continued, "I would encourage you to study some of the prophesy books that are out such as Hal Lindsey's The Rapture, and ask God of the Bible, Jehovah, not Allah, and God, the Son, Jesus, to remove the veil from your eyes and heart and reveal the truth to you before it is too late."

"I never felt good about his apology,
but at least I had pushed it aside in
my mind and gone on with my life after
a whole summer of hearing nothing.
But now it's like he has
opened the old wound."

David J. Sanders, a Rock Hill Muslim
who wrote state education board member
Henry Jordan about his remark in May
"Screw the Buddhists, kill the Muslims."

In a recent telephone interview Sanders said, "You know, I never felt good about his apology, but at least I had pushed it aside in my mind and gone on with my life after a whole summer of hearing nothing. But now, it's like he has opened the old wound. I don't know why he would respond in such a venomous way now."

Sanders forwarded a copy of his letter dated May 20 and the responding letter from Jordan to the national headquarters of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C.

This month, Executive Director Barry Lynn sent a second letter to Gov. Beasley (the first, sent after the May incident, never received a response) asking again that Jordan be removed from the Board of Education. As of this writing, he has not received a reply.

In May, following Jordan's remarks, my 7-year-old daughter and I made cardboard signs and attended a Muslim-sponsored protest of Jordan in front of the new education building in Charleston.

We joined a crowd of about 50 Muslim men, women and children. One by one, for over a hour, speakers thundered feelings of hurt, anger and confusion through a tinny microphone. Fathers and sons stood to the front, mothers and daughters to the back. All were holding onto one another, nodding affirmation when a phrase would strike a particular chord.

Looking into the faces of those children, I wondered what it must feel like to be a child of a minority faith and to be aware that someone in power has said that they wish you dead.

When Jordan accepted the position on the board, he swore to an oath "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States." Protected within that constitution are its citizens. Jordan would seek to defame, defile and destroy those citizens based on religious beliefs that differ from his. These differences of religious beliefs are protected under the Constitution.

Jordan has broken the oath of his office and reneged on the promises he made. He seems compelled to try to change the belief systems of others rather than to accept the diversity within the wide populace he has been trusted with serving.

Under these conditions, it is not moral or fair that he continue in a role influencing decisions that affect all public school children in South Carolina.

Sharon Robles is president of the South Carolina Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Address: P.O. Box 21413, Charleston, SC 29413 [Voice Mail: (803) 571-1804)].

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a 50,000-member public policy group based in Washington, D.C., that works to defend religious liberty. The group this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

© Copyright by POINT, 1997
Last modified 10/15/97