Sent to the Sunday Times, Johannesburg, Mon 02/01/2012 10:15; not published.
There is nothing wrong with quoting the bible as we would quote any other international literature.
The problem is with people who think the bible is special, even divine, or has some sort of authority.
The bible approves of slavery and genocide and the suppression of women. It may have been useful at a time when people were ignorant about the structure of the universe and the causes of disease, or could only be moral if they believed in heaven and hell. We have moved on from this.
If a god had written the bible, would we not be impressed by the foresight, the wisdom, the compassion, the grace, the poetry of this being? Instead, the god of the bible is a caricature of the worst in humanity: Stupid, jealous, angry, vindictive, and capricious.
No: The bible is largely a work of fiction, and the god it portrays is, thankfully, imaginary.