First, I learned that the artist Brendan Powell Smith, "deeply shocked" as he is by Christians' complaints about his work, is a self-avowed nonbeliever who embraced atheism at the age of 13. Smith is called "The Reverend" by his friends—a tongue-in-cheek moniker that he picked up in his junior high days—but a defender of the faith, he is not.

"Reverend" Smith, who had attended church services as a child and whose mother taught Sunday school at their local Episcopal church, spoke of his fall from faith (as quoted in a Wikipedia website on atheists): "I had this idea (I'm not sure from where) that it would be a good idea to 'prepare for adulthood' by consciously trying to rid myself of what seemed like childish ways of thinking. I recognized superstitions for what they were, and tried to turn away from 'magical thinking.' I didn't intend for any of this to affect my religious beliefs, but in the end it did in a profound way, and soon enough I found myself the only atheist I knew amongst my family, friends, and community."

Then I reviewed some of the images on his website. There are the placid Garden of Eden, baby Moses in the bulrushes, the familiar Nativity scene, Jesus walking on water.

But other scenes are so violent or so sexual in nature that it's hard to think how anyone could have thought this was an appropriate idea for children. It's hard to think, too, that atheist Brendan Powell Smith didn't know, when he selected the verses to be illustrated, that many of the images would be incendiary.

Under "The Law" for example, there are sections on:

  

Sexual discharges

  1. Leviticus 15:16 "When a man ejaculates semen . . ." (the scene is of a Lego man masturbating in front of a television set)
  2. Leviticus 15:18 "Whenever a woman has intercourse with a man . . ." (two Lego action figures engaged in sexual relations)
  3. Leviticus 15:19 "Whenever a woman has her menstrual period . . ." (lonely woman sitting in a chair, gazing out the window)
  4. Leviticus 15:24 "If a man goes so far as to have intercourse with her . . ." (Lego couple atop a Lego bed, as fully engaged as a Lego couple can be)

Male genital injury

  1. Deuteronomy 23:1 "A man whose testicles have been crushed . . ." (Poor Lego guy finds himself under the front hoof of a horse)
  2. ". . . or whose penis has been cut off" (A Lego woman leaving the scene with a knife)

Children with a love of potty humor will enjoy the section on Camp Defecation (drawn from Deuteronomy 23:9-14). And I could go on: Transvestism (Dt. 22:5), Proof of Virginity (Dt. 22:13-20), Rape, Female Infidelity, and more.

The section on the Book of Revelation begins with John's vision on the Island of Patmos—nine illustrations under the disrespectful heading "Future Revealed to Guy on Tiny Mediterranean Island."

Revelation holds some terrors for children, as well, under titles like:

  1. "Children to Be Killed as Warning"
  2. "God Tortures, Kills Billions"
  3. "God Tortures a Whore"
  4. "Remaining Humans Doomed to Torture"
  5. "Son of Man's Bloody Gorefest"