The Bad Parable of the Prodigal Son

The tale of the prodigal son is one of the Christian Bible's most famous parables. But there's something about it that's never sat right with me:"A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent … [Read more...]

Some Right-Wing Christians Enthusiastically Promoting a Form of Genocide

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.In 2014, Charisma magazine, a major media outlet for evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, published an open call to genocide. The article in question, titled "Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic" [sic] and written by Gary Cass, begins with the premise that "every true follower of Mohammed" wants to "subjugate and murder" non-Muslims, and therefore it's impossible for Christians to live together peacefully with them.Cass proposes three … [Read more...]

What the Bible Gets Wrong About Hymens

I appreciated this subversively feminist video from College Humor debunking myths about the hymen (SFW, anatomical talk but no explicit imagery):Watching this made me think of the infamous Old Testament law that decrees what to do if a man suspects the bride he purchased of not being a virgin on her wedding night:"If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and … [Read more...]

How the Cross Is Like the Confederate Flag

You can make a bad argument in support of a good conclusion. That's how I felt reading this column "The Cross and the Confederate Flag", written by Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre.Unlike his predecessor Richard Land, who was an all-culture-war-all-the-time partisan, Moore has shown some genuine signs of wanting to listen to marginalized voices. In his column, he takes an unflinching look at the deep-seated history of racism and … [Read more...]

Debunking the Bible’s Gender Binary

Christian fundamentalists who oppose same-sex marriage, or who attack the identities of transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner, tend to cite one biblical verse more than any other:"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."—Genesis 1:27 (KJV)Christians who cite this passage, like San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone or the Duggars' pastor Ronnie Floyd, use it to support their belief in separate and … [Read more...]

Marital Rape in the Bible

The newest Christian site making the rounds on atheist Twitter is Biblical Gender Roles. The author says only that he's a white man and a conservative Christian (so of course he's qualified to tell everyone else how they should conduct themselves in accordance with his archaic notion of gender roles). Today I wanted to focus on one of his recent posts, which is exactly as awful as you'd expect given the title: "Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?"In … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Charisma’s Genocide Fantasies

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Some Right-Wing Christians Enthusiastically Promoting a Form of Genocide. It's about the genocidal anti-Muslim fantasies aired in Charisma magazine in a column by Gary Cass (which was subsequently pulled down with no explanation or apology), as well as the long history of Christians advocating the necessity of mass bloodshed generally, going all the way back to the bloody passages of the Old Testament. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the … [Read more...]

There’s Nothing About Abortion in the Bible – So How Do Right-Wing Christians Justify Their Crusade Against Women?

This article previously appeared on AlterNet.While America languishes in an economic depression, Republican officeholders are bending all their efforts... to banning abortion. In the last few weeks and months, we've seen a blizzard of anti-choice legislation in Texas, in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in North Carolina, and many other places: laws that stall women seeking abortion with mandatory waiting periods, that brutalize them with invasive and unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds, that force … [Read more...]

On Retconning Biblical Violence

In 2009, I wrote "The Twisted Moral of Passover", about how this major Jewish holiday is really a celebration of genocide: the mass killing of the Egyptian children that preceded the Israelites' deliverance from slavery. (The very name of the holiday refers to how the Israelite slaves supposedly marked their doors with blood so that the divine executioner would see it and pass over their houses.)Even if there isn't any archaeological evidence for this event, or for the Egyptian captivity in … [Read more...]

The Perils of Scriptural Morality

I was cheered by a story I saw last week about about heroic activist groups working to end the barbaric custom of female "circumcision", aka female genital mutilation, that's practiced in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. FGM isn't unique to Christianity or to Islam, but is found across a range of traditional societies that fetishize female virginity and purity and view girls as unfit for marriage if they aren't cut. The harm to women is immense: death from infection and blood loss, … [Read more...]


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