Repost: The Perils of Scriptural Morality

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]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 … [Read more...]

Repost: The Mystical Dogma of Human Equality

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]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 … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: That’s Not What “Miracle” Means

The newest charity that's sent me an explicitly religious solicitation is American Leprosy Missions, "the oldest and largest Christian organization in the United States dedicated to curing and caring for people affected by leprosy and related diseases around the world". Take a look:Imagine pulling a dollar bill out of your pocket and seeing it multiply 33 times, like Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes!That's what you can do today. Because now every $1 you give will turn … [Read more...]

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...]