Now, they’re getting publicity for going after religion much more directly.
This Saturday at 2:00p, group members plan to gather at Huntington Beach to tear certain pages out of the Bible.
“We’re not there to burn the Bible or desecrate,” Bruce Gleason, director of Backyard Skeptics, said. “There are plenty verses in the Bible that if you did any of those things today, you’d be thrown in jail immediately.”
Group members will rip out verses in the Bible such as Deuteronomy 22: 14-31, which says if a man finds his wife not to be a virgin, the community can stone her; or a later verse in the same chapter the Backyard Skeptics say can be interpreted to say that virgins who are raped will be forced to marry their rapist.
Gleason says the demonstration is modeled after Thomas Jefferson‘s revised Bible, in which he got rid of the worst parts of it.Yeah… I’m sure that’ll go over very well with the handful of spectators and the swarm of Internet Christians who won’t understand the symbolic meaning behind this but will only see it as a hate crime.
To be clear, it’s only a book, it’s not a hate crime, and I get what he’s trying to accomplish. I just don’t think it’ll be effective.
The Orange County Register quotes Ray Comfort (who frequently preaches at that beach) and — dammit, I hate admitting this — he makes a lot of sense:
“I would seriously like to supply them with a Koran and maybe something Hindu,” [Comfort] said. “If he wants to make a statement about God, he should spread it around a little and not pick on Christians.”
I agree with Comfort — ugh, I feel so dirty writing that — if you’re trying to show that holy books are full of lies and bad ideas, the Bible isn’t unique. Tear up the holy books of all faiths. And, just for good measure, tear up a book you don’t agree with that was written by an atheist. (My book’s on Amazon. I praise some Christian churches. Use it. I’d be honored.)
Somehow, I doubt this will get anywhere close to the coverage Pastor Terry Jones got for threatening to burn the Koran, but he was a known bigot. Gleason, on the other hand, actually has a legitimate point to make.
The problem is that his message will inevitably be clouded by the negative backlash. It’s disappointing to me, because I thought the Backyard Skeptics were getting positive and powerful messages out there with their billboards. They don’t need to resort to publicity stunts like this to make their point.
***Update***: According to a couple readers in contact with the group, they now say they will be tearing up *photocopies* of Bible pages instead of the Bible itself… not sure if that changes anything, but there you go.