HONG KONG More than 800 Hong Kong residents have called on authorities to reclassify the Bible as "indecent" due to its sexual and violent content, following an uproar over a sex column in a university student journal.
A spokesperson for Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing authority (TELA) said it had received 838 complaints about the Bible by noon Wednesday.
The complaints follow the launch of an anonymous Web site -- www.truthbible.net -- which said the holy book "made one tremble" given its sexual and violent content, including rape and incest.
The Web site said the Bible's sexual content "far exceeds" that of a recent sex column published in the Chinese University's "Student Press" magazine, which had asked readers whether they'd ever fantasized about incest or bestiality.
That column was later deemed "indecent" by the Obscene Articles Tribunal, sparking a storm of debate about social morality and freedom of speech. Student editors of the journal defended it, saying open sexual debate was a basic right.
If the Bible is similarly classified as "indecent" by authorities, only those over 18 could buy the holy book and it would need to be sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice.
TELA said it was still undecided on whether the Bible had violated Hong Kong's obscene and indecent articles laws.
But a local protestant minister shrugged off this possibility.
"If there is rape mentioned in the Bible, it doesn't mean it encourages those activities," said Reverend Wu Chi-wai. "It's just common sense ... I don't think that criticism will have strong support from the public," he added.