On Retconning Biblical Violence

NoahsArkCartoon

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

AcaciaTree

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...]

New on AlterNet: Abortion in the Bible

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, There's Nothing About Abortion in the Bible -- So How Do Right-Wing Christians Justify Their Crusade Against Women? In it, I discuss the biblical verses that touch on abortion - or more accurately, the lack of such verses - as well as the passages which strongly suggest that the Bible's authors didn't consider an unborn fetus to have the same moral status as an adult person. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:One would think … [Read more...]

#1m1w in the Bible

Polygamy

[Since the Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA this week, anti-gay Christian groups have been trying to start a trend on Twitter, under the hashtag "#1m1w", to promote the "one man-one woman" view of marriage that the Bible allegedly teaches. With that in mind, it's probably a good time to repost this essay from 2008 about the biblical endorsements of polygamy, to remind the religious right about these verses they inexplicably seem to keep forgetting.]In recent years, anti-gay bigots … [Read more...]

Facing Up to the Bible’s Darkness

DarkForest

Via Slacktivist, I came across an interesting essay by Greg Boyd, Getting Honest about the Dark Side of the Bible. (You might remember Boyd as one of the theologians interviewed in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, as well as his more recent and praiseworthy stand against the use of Christianity to support American imperial militarism.)I have to give Boyd credit for doing something I've rarely seen Christians do: facing up squarely to the dark and savage morality of the Bible. In his post, … [Read more...]

The Bible as Engine of Extremism, Continued

In my previous post on "Southern Slavery As It Was", I cited two modern-day Christian pastors who claim that black slavery was a positive and beneficial institution. To throw some cold water on their rosy claims, in this post we'll hear from a person with firsthand experience of it: Frederick Douglass, the great American abolitionist and orator who himself escaped from bondage and later chronicled his experiences. I'll cite passages from Wilson and Wilkins' book asserting the gentle and … [Read more...]

Southern Slavery As It Was: The Bible as Engine of Extremism

This weekend I saw Lincoln, which was a tremendous movie. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a compelling performance as President Abraham Lincoln during the closing days of the Civil War, when he battled with a fractious Congress to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery permanently in the United States. Among the movie's many strong points is that it unambiguously presents the Civil War as first and foremost a battle over slavery (which, according to the people who started … [Read more...]

The Creation Order of Genesis

The discovery of the Higgs boson brought forth a fresh crop of high-minded religious apologists to favor us with platitudes about how science and religion can be reconciled, if only we "extremists" would stop fighting about it all the time. Here's one of them I came across the other week, who asserts that the creation order given in Genesis contains a hidden correspondence with the picture of life's evolutionary history assembled by scientists. As always, he has to phrase it in insufferably … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses: Preachers’ Kids

One of my favorite features of the old site was "Little-Known Bible Verses", a regular series highlighting frequently overlooked passages from scripture that are immoral, bizarre, or contradict well-established parts of Christian belief. In the past, I've discussed verses saying, among other things, that true Christians should greet each other with a kiss (try that one at your church!), that they should be communists who reject private property, that they'll be able to do better miracles than … [Read more...]

The Mystical Dogma of Human Equality

Recently, the Catholic writer and apologist Mark Shea fielded a question from a reader who was disturbed by pro-slavery Bible verses quoted on an atheist billboard in Pennsylvania. Here's the letter, in part (HT: Friendly Atheist):One of my atheist/anti-Church friends posted a sign by American Atheists quoting Colossians 3:22 (Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord.") (Funny how they … [Read more...]


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