Suggestions for the Conservative Bible Project

Although I haven’t commented on this previously, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Conservative Bible Project, a brilliant initiative proposed by the savvy folks at Conservapedia. The plan is that they’ll retranslate the Bible to eliminate “liberal bias” in existing verses – but not by going back to the oldest manuscripts or the original languages or anything like that. No, the Conservapedia community simply plans to take an existing, modern English translation of the Bible, and when they come across a verse that strikes them as unacceptably liberal, they’ll just change it so as to be in line with what they know God must have meant!

This is a major project and I’m sure it will take all the hands they can get. Since I’ve previously given advice to the prosperity-gospel believers on how to interpret some difficult Bible passages, I’m sure that the editors of the Conservative Bible Project would be equally happy to hear my suggestions. So, I thought I’d offer them some.

Let’s begin with this classic example of liberal bias in the Bible, Matthew 5:9, from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Peacemakers? What is Jesus, some kind of liberal Democrat? This is unacceptable.

Real conservatives, as defined in the official Republican Party creed, know that the will of God is to drop bombs on any country that even looks like it might threaten us. After all, that’s just what God did through Joshua in the Old Testament. And anyway, we know from good conservative books like Left Behind that the Antichrist will be a peacemaker, so we know from sound logic that any peacemaker must therefore be the Antichrist.

How can we interpret this verse more fittingly? I have a few different suggestions:

“Blessed are those who wage preemptive war on rogue states that we think might be developing weapons of mass destruction.”

“Blessed are the waterboarders, for those who torture illegal enemy combatants will be called sons of God.”

“Blessed are the politicians who run secret black-site prisons for high-value detainees, for they are righteous in God’s sight.”

“Blessed are the private mercenaries and the contractors working for Blackwater, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Now that’s a properly conservative Jesus for you!

Next, Matthew 6:5-6:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Now, obviously, this is a disgustingly liberal statement. If you read this verse in modern translations invented by egghead Ivy League elitist professors, you might get the impression that Jesus was telling people to keep their faith a private matter and not flaunt it in public. But as we can tell from modern conservatives, who demand that explicitly Christian prayers and overtly religious language be prominently placed in every courthouse, school board, classroom and town council meeting, we know that Jesus couldn’t really have meant that. We need a new translation that’s more in keeping with what Jesus was obviously trying to say. Here’s my suggestion:

“And when you pray, do not be like the liberals, for they love to pray standing in their room, behind closed doors, and to insist that the public square is secular. I tell you the truth, if God can’t see you praying – and he can’t, because he doesn’t know what you do in your own house behind closed doors, except of course for gay sex – then you’ll get no reward for it. But when you pray, go into the courthouse, or the floor of Congress, or the workplace, or just stand on a street corner with a bullhorn and a stack of Bible tracts! The important thing is to be sure that the greatest possible number of people see and hear you praying, because then they’ll realize how pious and humble you are, and that will totally make them want to convert.”

Once this translation is in Bibles everywhere, the religious right will be able to say with perfect honesty that they’re just following Jesus’ example. And that’s what really matters, right?

Finally, let’s take one of the most often misinterpreted verses in the Bible, Matthew 19:16-24. Here’s the usual, inferior translation chock-full of liberal nonsense:

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

…Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

This liberalism-inspired mistranslation could drive a stake into the heart of Christianity. What Jesus is proposing in this passage is nothing more or less than socialism! And as we good conservatives know, once you’ve started down the road to socialism, there’s only one place you can end up – death panels, abortions at the local 7-11, and mandatory gay indoctrination in elementary schools.

Clearly, we need a dash of good conservative common sense to interpret this passage properly. Here’s my advice on how to read it:

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, you must get as rich as possible. The more treasure you have on Earth, the more God is blessing you. I recommend a well-balanced portfolio, with wise asset allocations in both stocks and bonds, plus some side bets on over-the-counter mortgage derivatives. If you run your own business, I recommend hiring cheap immigrant labor, and of course firing anyone who tries to organize a union. And don’t forget, politicians who want to tax capital gains hate God!”

When the young man heard this, he went away joyous, because he knew that his great wealth was a sign that his virtue was superior to the sinful people whom God punished by making them poor.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is as easy as your chauffeur driving you in through the golden gates of a luxury resort in a black Escalade SUV. That’s not a metaphor. Rich people will actually be chauffeured through the gates of heaven in black Escalade SUVs. If any of the poor somehow make it, they’ll be your drivers.”

Not even Ayn Rand could find fault with that!

This should get the Conservative Bible Project off to a good start, but there’s lots of other liberalism that’s crept into the Bible and will have to be purged. What other mistranslations can you detect in the Good Book? And what proper, conservative translations can you offer instead?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • John Nernoff

    A comic book version of the Bible is what really needs to happen. Depict Yahweh as what he really is: an old white male sitting on a throne picking his toes for 13.6 billion years mulling over the idea of bringing about his supreme creation, H. Sapiens. The Genesis story with the talking snake would look suitably childish, and the great deluge with women and pets drowning like rats would scare away all Sunday-Schoolers. Jews conducting genocide on the many tribes surrounding them (not to forget the ripping open of pregnant mothers) would fill many pages with blood and gore. At the end there would be no shortage of lively but lurid action drawings of people suffering in hell-fire while the Lamb of God calmly looks on.

    Come on people. Enough is enough. We don’t need no new steenkin’ academic translation. We need a vivid and bold COMIC Bible and extreme shock value. Only then will Daylight Atheism reach the front pages.

  • Ric

    Haha, that was great! This is my favorite: “That’s not a metaphor. Rich people will actually be chauffeured through the gates of heaven in black Escalade SUVs. If any of the poor somehow make it, they’ll be your drivers.”

    I like it because I’ve watched modern Christians squirm when confronted with the verse and give that old hackneyed “The Eye of a Needle was a gate” to try to explain why Jesus didn’t mean what he clearly meant.

  • Jennifer

    “A comic book version of the Bible is what really needs to happen.”

    The cartoonist R. Crumb has recently put one out. No satire, just a deliberately correct translation, with sometimes gruesome illustrations…

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    BWAHAHA! Great stuff! You totally – wait for it – Poe’nd them!

    Crumb’s a cool dude, but there’s just no beating The Brick Testament.

  • prase

    How far they actually are with the Conservative Bible project? I think that such project is suicidal for any religious organisation – since they have no basis how to settle arguments, one can expect sectarian disputes between different branches of fundies over amost every verse. Some of them will certainly insist that the Bible shoud be edited as little as possible, because it is, after all, the word of God. There will be without doubt others who will want to use the oportunity to remove even the last remnants of liberal bias from the Bible, if it is now permitted to edit it.

    So, I have an (unfortunately testable) prophecy: Lo and behold! In five years it will come to pass that either LORD will make the Conservapedia folks to cancel the Conservative Bible project, or HE will scatter them into numerous sects fighting each other.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Thanks for a good laugh to start my day.

    As for other mods, might I suggest Ecclesiastes be helped with:

    “A time for war, and a time for pre-emptive invasion of Third-World countries by the Unitary Executive”?

    Of course, this does play havoc with the meter.

  • http://piepalace.ca/blog Erigami

    People believe that their deity believes the same thing they do. It makes sense that they would want to correct an erroneous holy book to reflect their view of the world.

  • Jormungund

    Real conservatives, as defined in the official Republican Party creed

    I suppose that this is meant as a joke about how incredibly un-conservative the Republican party is. Surely no one actually thinks that the Republican party is conservative.

  • Javaman

    Is the earth orbiting the sun a liberal idea ? I say we go back to the earth centered model of the Universe the bible describes , Is that conservative enough?

  • Alex, FCD

    I suppose that this is meant as a joke about how incredibly un-conservative the Republican party is. Surely no one actually thinks that the Republican party is conservative.

    Depends what you mean. Certainly they don’t seem to make reducing your national debt a priority. Nostalgia for an imagined past where there were no gay people and women were quiet and subservient and the melanin-deficient were the unquestioned lords of creation is definitely the biggest (only?) part of the GOP’s appeal; and that’s textbook social conservatism right there.

  • The Tofu

    Ugh, Conservapedia is such a joke. I can’t believe those people actually exist.

  • Polly

    lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ

    You’d think god would’ve provided a primer somewhere in the 1,000 or so pages that make up the OT on what to expect in the updated edition.

    Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

    This is an example of a liberal falsehood, eh? Jesus may not even have been all that into forgiveness after all!

    this project has a unifying effect on various Christian denominations, and serves as an important counterweight to liberal efforts to divide conservative candidates based on religion

    Because Xianity was SO unified prior to the rise of liberalism. Listen up everyone, Conservapedia has finally done something about all those pesky, ambiguous teachings that JC (or whoever) so carelessly left to others to write down for him. Let’s thank them for delivering unto us the FINAL version of the truth in plain English.

    I can’t believe what I just read. It’s meta-metaphysics.

  • Snoof

    The thing which really gets me is the fact that if the Conservative Bible actually does produce some output, it’s going to be nigh-indistinguishable from the stuff Ebon’s written.

  • Alex Weaver

    “Blessed are the peacemakers”

    Here‘s another angle for harmonizing this with conservative beliefs.

  • Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Daylight Atheism > Suggestions for the Conservative Bible Project [daylightatheism.org] on Topsy.com

  • TEP

    This is fun!

    Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

    Given that the Bible authors would not have commanded us to love godless liberals, they must clearly have actually meant the following:

    Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy conservative Christian neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

    -

    Deuteronomy 15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

    Well, of course, that wasn’t referring to people who were literally poor – because that would be advocating Communism. No, it clearly must be referring to the need to minister to those who are spiritually poor, through not being conservative Christians, and preach to them about the wickedness of their ways:

    If there be among you a man poor in spirit, lacking in Christian faith, of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy ignorant brother: But thou shalt open thine mouth wide unto him, and shalt surely preach unto him sufficient for his spiritual need.

    _

    Deuteronomy 24:14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.

    Foreign immigration obviously wasn’t a problem in godly times. If it had been, the Bible authors would surely have written this:

    Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, provided he not be an immigrant from far-away lands.

    _

    Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

    Now, Jesus surely couldn’t have meant that Conservatives shouldn’t judge godless liberals, and condemn them for their wicked ways. Obviously, he must have instead been referring to the dangers of criticising other Conservatives:

    Judge not your fellow Conservatives, lest they judge you to be no better than those godless sodomites espousing liberalism.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I’m starting to think that you people don’t respect Conservapedia.

    prase “I think that such project is suicidal for any religious organisation – since they have no basis how to settle arguments, one can expect sectarian disputes between different branches of fundies over amost every verse.”
    And that’s different from the past, how? One man’s exegesis is another’s path to heresy. Luckily, this is America, where a True Believer is free to, upon finding that his denomination isn’t reading the Bible rightly (note: not a real word), leave, walk a mile down the road and start his own One True Church™.

  • Katie M

    What a wonderful start to my day! I’ve actually read Conservapedia (out of morbid curiosity, I guess) to see what their views on various scientific matters are. Did you know that black holes are “liberal pseudoscience”?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus meant to say something like this:

    Hast thou ever seen a crocoduck or a dat? Hast thou ever seen kinds change before thine eyes? I tell thee today that god has created you from the dirt and thou didst not come from no monkey.

  • penguin_Factory

    I laughed my ass off at the bit about the black Escalade SUVs. Well played.

  • keddaw

    If they’re re-writing The Bible, will they say that Genesis is allegorical and that evolution is how it all works? Or is that bit inerrant and science will have to change?

  • Ritchie

    [blockquote]
    BWAHAHA! Great stuff! You totally – wait for it – Poe’nd them!

    Crumb’s a cool dude, but there’s just no beating The Brick Testament.
    [/blockquote]

    Thanks for the link, D. I was just having a bit of fun reading through it, when I happened to come upon a particularly gruesome passage…

    OMFG… GOD KILLS A BABY!!

    I know this is waaaaaaay off topic, and the atrocities in the Bible are absolutely legion, but in 2 Samuel 12:1-18, God sends a messanger to tell King David that he has displeased Him. David repents and begs forgiveness, but God is having none of it. He deliberately kills David’s baby son out of spite!!!

    HOW F***ED IS THAT?!?!

    I’m not even sure why this gave me such a chill. After all, God killed hundreds of babies in the tenth plague of Egypt, and in various wars, but at least then wars and ‘good causes’ were, if not excuses, then moral complications. But the malicious act of ‘You’ve displeased me, so I’ll kill your baby…’??!!?!

    Eeeurrgh, I need a shower. ‘Good Book’ my hairy arse!

    Sorry, just needed to rant about that for a bit.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, provided he not be an immigrant from far-away lands.

    TEP wins the thread for this comment – he very nearly cracked me up in the middle of my office. :) Although I have to say, I think I like Alex’s conservative interpretation of the “peacemakers” verse even better than mine.

  • Nes

    keddaw,

    Just take a look at the moronic* page regarding evolution on Conservapedia (which is about 20 times longer now than when I first saw it; yikes!). I think you can figure out for yourself what their position on Genesis is likely to be.

    * I used that word for the link since I don’t know if rel=”nofollow” is added to links in comments or not, and I don’t want google to associate that page with searches for evolution… and after having read some more of the page, that does appear to be the operative word in my sentence after all.

  • jack

    I think that such project is suicidal for any religious organisation…

    Oh, it’s much worse than that! Evidently these folks — like so many other Christians — have not yet bothered to read the Bible all the way through. Had they done so, this bit from the very last page would probably have made them a little nervous:

    For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

    And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
    Rev 22:18-19

  • TEP

    Unfortunately that passage only applies to the Book of Revelation itself; when these documents were written there was no “Bible” to speak of. Although I daresay the good folks at Conservapedia will find some way to show that a text depicting genocide and fortelling most of humanity being thrown into a lake of fire reeks of liberal bias. For instance, I imagine this passage probably isn’t elaborate enough for them:

    Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    . . . and will probably be expanded a bit:

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, and evolutionists, and Communists, and abortionists, and Democrats, and socialists, and foreigners, and homosexuals, and atheists, and people who voted for Barack Obama, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    TEP: Barack Hussein Obama.


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