Atheist Groups Plans to Rip Up Bible in a Demonstration This Saturday

The Backyard Skeptics in Orange County, California have gotten great publicity over the past few months for putting up billboards with positive messages:

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.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • John Small Berries

    “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.”

    Assuming they’re talking about Deuteronomy 22:28-29, I’d be curious to know how it could be interpreted in any other way.

    • John Bigboote

      well, it’s apparently okay as long as you don’t get caught.

      • Anonymous

        Or possibly if you’re poor.

        What happens if you don’t have 50 shekels to rub together?

  • http://twitter.com/Sullivan_Smith Kevin Sullivan

    Yeah…. I agree with the sentiment but I kind of thought we were above these publicity-fests that, in the end, really accomplish nothing.

    • Karen

      I agree.  I don’t support this kind of activity.

  • Justsomedust

    I agree completely. The planned demonstration is not going to accomplish anything, other than to give Fox News and others some great material to twist. This will be widely misunderstood, and the demonstrators will come away looking like asses. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hikari.Pop Crystal Jenae Hollis

    As much as I disagree with Christianity, it is wrong to steep to their level. This is as bad as burning Korans. It disrespectful and that is the last thing we want to do.

    • Anonymous

      You’d find yourself in hot water if you did, Crystal!  Seriously though, agreed!

  • Yuki

    I am very disturbed by this.  This is not who I am.  I may not believe in God, but I also do not believe in supporting a hateful show of disrespect.  It will accomplish nothing more than to give Christians more ammunition.  Please re think this.

    • Anonymous

      did anyone say this is who you are???

      • Anonymous

        Stojadinovicp, did Yuki claim that someone said this is who Yuki is????

        • Anonymous

          yes, she implied clearly that what these atheists somehow reflects on all atheists

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

      What the fuck do you want to respect about things like.. I dunno.. a verse about a bunch of christians who are rejoicing in the idea that the Babylonian infants will be smashed to rocks, for example?

      Some crap deserves no respect at all.

      I get your point about christians probably not seeing the reason behind the event, but don’t fucking dare to demand respect for infanticide, slavery, misogyny and for the rest of the shit that’s in the good book.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not worried about the respect issue… their mythology does not deserve respect as far as I’m concerned.  It is the Christians who do book burnings and feats of this ilk.  Other than that, I agree with you.

  • Yuki

    I am very disturbed by this.  This is not who I am.  I may not believe in God, but I also do not believe in supporting a hateful show of disrespect.  It will accomplish nothing more than to give Christians more ammunition.  Please re think this.

  • Anonymous

    Oh no.  While I personally understand the point being made, most theists will likely be incited to completely irrational rage over it and make a fine example of how bad atheists are.  Also, as much as I find many biblical contents to be vile, I don’t have the right to not be offended and the act of tearing up a book, any book, has a vibe of censorship attached to it.  I’m sure there must be better ways to make this same point…perhaps use the Jefferson version or at least that approach?  Perhaps draft a book of their own that includes only positive passages from the bible…at least then you have a comparison rather than a blatant attack on your hands.

    • Anonymous

      oh cry me a river for a book that sits in every single hotel room across the entire usa…

      • Anonymous

        For one, I’m not “crying” nor am I “crying” about the damage to the book itself.  It’s the damage to an already crappy image that all atheists face daily that I am concerned with.  Or is it smarter to just dig yourself deeper when starting out in the hole?  Actions speak much louder than words and even though much of what this group has to say, I am in full agreement with, I just don’t think the manner will give them the outcome they are likely after.  Good for you for your opposition to hotel bibles though I’m not sure I follow the point you are making about that.

        • Anonymous

          i never said YOU were crying… it’s an expression…

          “It’s the damage to an already crappy image that all atheists face daily that I am concerned with.” – awesome, if you are concerned then do something about it… SHOW people how atheists really are…

          Me, I am not concerned at all because a) I know that atheists are a sufficiently large group of people, much like theist, and that thus we are not all the same and b) I know that we are dealing with people who will do anything, even invent lies, to try to make us look bad because they simply can not take the fact that we even exist, yet alone that we no longer shy away from speaking up…

          The point about hotel bibles was just that there are way too many copies of that book in the world…

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

      Ah come on. Book burning is not the good ol’ sin it used to be. Nowadays you can just download any book from the internet.
      The bible is not on the verge of extinction anyways. It’s omnipresent. I just wish those idiots who claim to take it seriously would actually READ IT.

      • Sware1973

        I’m not so sure it ever was a sin but a local church made the news some years back for inviting young people to a bonfire which was to be stoked by “sinful material meant to distract you from god.”  Sinful material to them was comics, dungeons & dragons stuff, pornography, etc.   Local comic collectors were motivated to hang out at the entrance attempting to convince them to give or sell it to them.  ;0)

        I too wish they would read it cover to cover and just maybe be moved to burn it themselves when finished.

  • Anonymous

    I think they’re going about it the wrong way. Instead of ripping the pages out, they should photocopy and enlarge them, then put them on display with the atrocious parts highlighted.

    Many of us became atheists from reading the parts of the Bible that the pastors/preachers/popes want us to not know about. Basically, we’d be saying “How in your Hell can you worship a God who would condone, endorse, or cause this?”

    Maybe we should make something opposite the Jefferson Bible. Take a Bible, cut out the parts that show the attrocities within, and make those into a book unto themselves. I’ll bet Xians would be surprised how thick it would be.

    • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

      I agree – maybe have a “bookmaking” day where members can put all of the heinous parts (although THAT would be seriously time-consuming) together in a single document..the “Reasons-I’m-an-Atheist-Bible”. Plus it would be a fun exercise in exploring cultural context. Plus it would just be fun. :)

      • Drew M.

        Creating instead of destroying. I like it.  I like it a lot.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        I think it’s a good idea, but I would definitely not sell it as the Reasons-I’m-an-Atheist-Bible. We aren’t atheists because we think the Bible is immoral. We’re atheists because we think it’s untrue.

        • Dona Lynette Stewart

          Could it also be you’re an athiest because of how other human beings (all fallible) interpret the Bible, and proclaim as true, what is supposed to be faith?

          The Rubayait of Omar Khayam “Ah love. could you and I with He, conspire, to grasp this sorry scheme of things entire, would not we shatter it to bits, and then, remold it nearer to the hearts desire!”

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Nope, definitely not. I was an atheist long before I ever heard of the Bible.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Nope, definitely not. I was an atheist long before I ever heard of the Bible.

        • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

          Good point – I hadn’t considered that at all! Maybe a more accurate title should be “Several Hundred (or X number) Good Reasons Not To Be A Christian”. It doesn’t say “be an atheist” very vocally, but it’s would be a pretty clear message about the absurdities within their holy book.

          The negative stuff in the bible was was my first step toward atheism (I just couldn’t reconcile all of the horrible things with the image of the loving, just God I understood to be true.) That said, I totally understand your objection; my first post wasn’t very thoughtfully considered. :)

      • Anonymous

        I first read that as “bookmarking” which gave me an idea. Why not have an official bible bookmarking day?

        They could either use group-branded bookmarks, or to save cash some inexpensive ribbon cut into short bookmark-lengths, and offer to mark off the, ahem, most unpleasant portions of the bible to bring attention to them. They could do it for charity.

    • Elliott776

      I agree, this will mostly incite people and call negative attention to it instead of calling reasonable attention that should spark discussion and question.

    • Miss Coconut

      Deciding not to worship a god you believe in and actually being an atheist are two different things.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not trying to make everyone atheists, Miss Coconut. I’m more interested in getting people to start questioning and thinking for themselves.

        Also, I think I’d call it the Bad Book, since I grew up hearing it referred to as the Good Book. Perhaps showing the people who hold it in such high regard that it’s filled with things that no sane person would be for, they’d realize their imaginary friend is an immature, petulant, sociopath.

        (Sorry it took me so long to respond. Real life has been busy, and I didn’t check my email.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    I’m not sure I buy the “spread it around” angle… Just because thing Y is as worthy of the same criticism as thing X doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to criticize X without simultaneously criticizing Y.  “No criticism of anything unless you criticize everything that is wrong!”  heh…

    But I agree this is kinda a bad idea.  Not gonna go over well, not gonna spread the message well, “feels” to much like genuine hate speech, makes the point in a clumsy manner, etc.

    I’m not losing sleep over it though.  The worst possible outcome is it gives us “nice” atheists more room to say, “Hey, I don’t rip up bibles!  I do think your religion is stupid though….”  :D

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    It seems to me that by ripping some parts out of the bible because they are offensive that you are endorsing the parts of the bible that you leave behind. What kind of message is that for an atheist group to send?

    • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

      Hopefully a positive one. People are usually most rabidly attached to the worst parts of the bible, the ones that reinforce their own prejudices, hatreds and impositions. If you get rid of the worst bits, you’re left with a mealy-mouthed  rehash of ancient beliefs that most people today don’t give the time of day to, mostly. Leave it watered down, and maybe people will just leave it. Of course, if don’t want it all to be for naught, we need to teach people about the beauty of non-biblical, evolving morality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1535286477 Roxane Farrell Murray

    Not wild about the idea, but I don’t fault them for not tearing up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita.  There aren’t a lot of Hindu fundamentalists running around being PsITA or trying to get their religion into the schools.

  • Anonymous

    There is a huge difference between the way Christians see the Bible and Muslims the Koran.

    Christians see it as just a book. The message is important, but the object as such isn’t worth as much in of itself. So if you rip out some pages, it will seen as an attack on the message, but also the religion in general.

    Muslims however, think the book itself is holy or to be revered. That’s why they freak out of its mistreated. They don’t like it lying on the ground either and would always put it in some special place if possible

  • http://twitter.com/KennethLowMD Kenneth Low

         Because the foundation of Christianity is mystery, Christian thinking is full of misconceptions, one of which is the notion that the  Old Testament can be viewed as a form of absolute truth. Reading the letters of  Paul, one is naturally led to that conclusion. Obscured is the fact that Paul was a generic cleric who specialized in organizing church activities; he had no special insight into God, religion or human nature.
         Rationally, the old religion (observance of the Law of Moses from the time of the first high priest until the time of the last high priest) came to a dramatic end thirty-five years after the crucifixion and resurrection when the last of the temple priests were murdered by other Jews who called themselves Zealots. That fact can’t be edited out of any discussion of the Old Testament.
         The Jews of the Old Testament lived in a theocracy. Modern Christians and Judeo-Christians live in a democracy. Supposing the Old Testament is relevant to modern life is just an expression of bias.

  • Anonymous

    If it were me, I’d be inclined to go the route Berlzebub suggests, and make a large freaking deal of the nasty stuff in there via Powerpoint.  That said, I’m disinclined to clutch my pearls too ferociously over this.  Yes, we can argue whether it’s bad PR for atheists, or whether it’s the most effective advocacy tool.  But ultimately, this is a matter of their self-expression, and it’s an expression of some good ideas.  We shouldn’t treat the bible as if it’s something special just because certain people think it is. It’s ink and paper (and a little gold filagree on the nicer ones).  Some of its contents are appalling. We are under no obligation to treat it as sacred or worthy of respect.

    And let’s not pretend this is anything like censorship, just because burning books has been a favorite tactic of censors.   Frankly, I’m sick of the idea that one shouldn’t undertake a certain form of expression because some people with associate it with something completely different.  Nor is this remotely like hate speech.  Ideas are being attacked here.  Ideas that are themselves barbaric, backwards, and hateful.  If some people internalize that, that’s their problem.

    • Smorg Smorg

      I think everyone hear understands what you say. But ideal is one thing and reality is another. And a speaker who don’t care about being effectively communicative to the audience soon finds himself speaking to an empty room.

  • Miko

    To be clear, it’s only a book, it’s not a hate crime

    I would agree completely, on the grounds that there is no such thing as a hate crime.  But I would be curious how people who think that there is such a thing as a hate crime could argue that this isn’t one without simultaneously arguing that there’s no such thing as a hate crime.

    • Drew M.

      I’d like to hear your reasoning on this. I agree that some things are too frequently labeled as hate crimes (Such as symbolic acts like this). But to think that they don’t exist? I completely disagree. For example:

      1. A man gets beat up in the course of getting mugged (Not motivated by hate).

      2. A man gets beat up because he is gay (Motivated by hate).

      • Anonymous

        I see all crime involving hate… mugging = hate of someone having what you do not.  I agree that “hate crime” is used far too much and for many of the wrong things, making it a useless term.  A drive-by shooting involves hate (usually one gang hating another), but they are rarely termed a hate crime.

        • Drew M.

          “Hate of someone having what you do not.”

          I disagree with that.  An addict mugging you for fix money doesn’t give a damn that you have what he does not. He just wants to satisfy a need and if you resist, he may get physical.

          There is a world of difference between that situation and a TG woman getting the shit beat out of her just for being different.

          But I do agree that “hate crime” is used far too often.

        • Drew M.

          “Hate of someone having what you do not.”

          I disagree with that.  An addict mugging you for fix money doesn’t give a damn that you have what he does not. He just wants to satisfy a need and if you resist, he may get physical.

          There is a world of difference between that situation and a TG woman getting the shit beat out of her just for being different.

          But I do agree that “hate crime” is used far too often.

  • Calhoun

    I’m on the fence about this.  On one hand, I feel we have to respect people for being people (whether it be christians, muslims, hindus, ect.), but on the other hand I feel we don’t have to respect their religous ideologies.

  • Trina

    Love the billboards they’ve done that are posted above.  I don’t see any good coming from ripping out parts of the bible.  It will be inflammatory to both Fox, many christians, and people in general who are anti-censorship.  Yes, yes, freedom of speech, but let’s make it wisely-done and useful when we can.  I much prefer the suggestions that the offending passages be brought to the forefront in another manner.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com Marguerite

    I don’t approve (not that anyone really cares about my approval:-).  I’ve never been a fan of destroying books, even ones I don’t agree with.  Also, as someone said above, tearing out selected passages makes it seem as if atheists agree with the rest, which is generally not the case.

  • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

    SMH. This is only going to perpetuate stereotypes of “angry atheists” and the “point” is going to be lost between the media hype and misinterpretations…the backlash is going to be way bigger than the actual event. There IS such a thing as bad publicity (IMHO) and this is exactly that.

    Anger over religious intolerance is justified and atheists need to be muscling in for equal airtime, but I don’t think the best venue to do that is to rip up a book. If tearing up a bible makes you feel better, great, good for you…it would make excellent firestarters for my four-patty grill, but don’t do it as a public representation of an atheist organization or atheists at large. Rip it up in your bathroom when you’ve run out of toilet paper and Kleenex and paper towel (most books have thick paper…hella scratchy!…but that tissue-y stuff just might work), I don’t care – but don’t represent ME while you do it.

  • http://thingsfindothinks.com Andrew Finden

    “There are plenty verses in the Bible that if you did any of those things today, you’d be thrown in jail immediately.”

    Unfortunately, this kind of ‘life manual’ view of the bible is perpetuated by Christians. Of course there’s stuff in there that is wrong – sometimes it’s part of the narrative and the reader is supposed to think ‘yup, that’s pretty wrong’. (and of course, there’s the whole not-being-a-theocracy-anymore thing)

  • Anonymous

    when muslims become a dominant majority in the states i will understand and support same treatment of the kuran… until then, try to remember who is in control still and why it is important for this to be done to the bible only at this point…

  • Smorg Smorg

    “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.”

    Right on. Won’t even have to wait for this stunt to immediately be equated with book burning/censorship of unauthorized reading… and then whatever good and constructive message they’re trying to send will be completely overshadowed by the inflammatory imagery. This is a very bad idea no matter how one looks at it. As Nietzsche saids, when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you. Beware!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alewis2 Adam Lewis

    Yeah, among the mountains of delusional drivel, absurdly stupendous ignorance, obstreperous incompetence, and all-around general stupidity, Ray Comfort does, once in a great while, say something that makes sense. 

    But that said, I mirror the much of the sentiment expressed here: ripping pages out of the bible or any book seems childish.  It also legitimizes it because such a demonstration in effect says: “This book has so much power that we need to physically abuse it.”  I’d advocate a more constructive approach that does not legitimize it in such a way. 

    • Charles Black

      Yes even a stopped clock can be  right, did you know that?

  • Elliott776

          I’m not supporting this in fact I criticize the means of which they are calling attention to this. Think about how it will likely incite more intolerance instead of reasonably questioning these theocratic point
         This will most assuredly incite fundamentalists who are most likely to act out against it thus bringing in Atheism more negative publicity. Commentators already spoke of the Angry Atheist affect.
         A less inciteful and reasonable display is more likely to get moderate Christians involved, which is who we really need to be addressing. You can’t reason with fundamentalists. We need to foster an open discussion with moderates who can then check fundamentalism IMO.
         I suspect they are using this “shocking” display to bring attention to the Atheist viewpoint because most Atheist views are not newsworthy. But I believe this will do more harm than good.

  • Rich Wilson

    I think what bothers me is the ‘ripping’.  Jefferson didn’t rip, he cut.  Same end result, but somehow more thoughtful and measured.

  • http://twitter.com/deanrobertsnet Dean Roberts

    The whole notion of ripping ‘certain’ pages out of the Bible highlights the stupidity of the whole point trying to be made.

    Suppose I ripped certain parts out of a history book that I didn’t like, would I get the whole picture of the Bible? Of course I wouldn’t. Would I get both sides of the story? Probably not. Would I learn anything? Yes, but a limited amount.

    The point I’m making is that people love to major on these things, without looking at the theology, context, cultural, covenant theology behind them.

    But there we go. That’s the first and last comment I’m making on this post. I’ve had a poor experience of debating on atheist blogs at the moment. Not from those who ask valid questions and challenge me. Just people telling me to “F off” and the like. So I’m going to take a break for a little while! Of course, I just want to say that some of you are amazingly pleasant and lovely, and I love interacting with you. :)

    http://deanroberts.net

  • Goodgollyollie

    Interesting as to what they are choosing to rip out of the bible. Jewish law is listed in the bible as historical but it is hardly Christian. The Jewish people were under their own harsh self imposed laws that were triggered by previous historical events.
    It was Jesus who came to release the people from being under these rigorous laws so in that sense Jesus Christ himself ripped those pages from the bible too except he ripped them from our own bondage to them.
    He took the Jewish leaders to task for their own rigorous adherence to stoning and other things only to be condemned by the very same laws.
    So by all means, rip those pages from the bible and read the parts that are left.

    • Demonhype

      Except for a couple points:

      The NT has plenty of ugly in it.  It’s not like you’d be bereft of offensiveness if you eliminated the OT from the conversation.

      And while OT Jewish law might not be technically “Christian”, the vast majority of people in the US who tout those OT verses are Christian and call those attitudes representative of Christianity (unless backed into a corner, at which point they start whining about how Jesus changed all that, never mind the reality of their behavior and stated beliefs and quotations from the OT to justify the evil).  If Christians commonly quote shit from the OT to justify their repressive views, and the OT is still technically in their Holy Book that Must Be Revered Above All Things, then it’s not too far off to call those verses Christian.

      • Goodgollyollie

        Demonhype, my daily newspaper has tons of offensive things. Should I rip out the parts I dont like there either? Of course the bible contains offensive events because humans commit offensive acts, like government, that carry a death sentence.

  • Miss Coconut

    I disagree with Comfort, and I’m pretty disappointed you would agree. Christianity is the most popular and powerful religion in the West, particularly the US, — it’s the same thing we’ve been saying when Christians cry about ‘being picked on’. Why would it be any different now? Comfort is just pulling the ‘martyr card’.

    As for people going on about respect, I really just roll my eyes. It’s a bloody book! Disrespecting a person would be saying they can’t sit anywhere they want on a bus, their gender makes them less intelligent, they can’t marry who they want, or raping them, stealing from them, etc. If someone ripped up a book with Greek myths in in, no one would call that disrespect. If someone’s beliefs are stupid because they have no foundation, then it’s not disrespectful to call them out on it, especially when those beliefs are actually hurting other people and holding us back as a society.

    • Demonhype

      I was wondering if anyone would bring up this point.  Comfort isn’t asking for equal opportunity blaspheming or anything like that.  He’s asking the atheists to limit their anti-religion behavior only to other religions.  He wants them to rip up and/or desecrate the holy text of some other religion that is a minority in this country with so little influence that they are functionally irrelevant  in lieu of the Holy Christian Bible of the majority faith, the more fundie of which are constantly trying  to curtail the rights of others and send the country back about five hundred or a thousand years.  It’s the usual “you’re just pickin’ on me ’cause I’m Christian and you know I’m right” while trying to sound rational and thoughtful on the subject.  He doesn’t believe for a second that atheists destroying a Hindu or Muslim holy book would be a “statement against/about God” because everyone knows the only God is represented in the Bible and nowhere else.

      On the other hand, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to stoop to the level of Christianity throughout history, both because it’s stooping to their level and because bookburning as a concept is not very “atheist” (at least, based on the trends, since there is no doctrines within atheism, of course) and in general a pretty crappy thing even when done as it is today, as a rather symbolic and ineffectual gesture.  The highlighting of the offensive bits sounds a lot better plus a lot more in keeping with the overall trends within atheism–see, we read the bible too, we know what’s in there, and we’re completely ready to argue, we have nothing to fear.  Or to tie in to Jefferson’s work, as some mentioned above, to take out only the nice stuff they like to point and print only the hateful crap, and show how much larger it is than Jefferson’s work.

      • Miss Coconut

        I’m not sure I believe this is stooping to the level of Christianity. This isn’t a generic burning of books; they’re looking at particular passages they think are terrible. That being said, I don’t really like vandalising any books, and I don’t know that this would actually get any point across at all.

        I disagree with highlighting or cutting out the offensive bits, because that’s just saying, ‘Your god is an ass,’ it’s not saying, ‘The Bible is a myth and there is no evidence to support it.’ I’m not an atheist because I think the Bible has bad laws or ideas, I’m an atheist because there is no evidence to support the existence of a god.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          Exactly! It seems like atheists should be focusing more on telling people why we don’t believe in deities and why we think the Bible does not reflect reality. Any non-fundamentalist Christian will agree with us that there’s some bad stuff in there. They don’t think beating slaves or stoning people to death is moral, but they are irrationally attached to their idea of a deity and seem disinclined to consider that the god the Bible talks about might be just as mythological as Zeus or Odin.

  • Anonymous

    I support the proposed action. This is performance art at it’s finest. If you can paint a cross in urine, why should anyone object to tearing out Biblical passages that no one uses anymore?

    Really, I thought the idea was brilliant.We need people to have a visceral reaction so they are shaken out of their stupor and denial. Some will be pissed off, but others just might “get it” — they hold things sacred that they no longer believe . . . just because.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      If you want people to see things more clearly, don’t start by poking them in the eye. 

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

    I think making arguments against holy book is a better way to show they are wrong than just tearing or damaging them.  This is just going to make the group look horrible and not really accomplish their goal.

    I like Berlzebub’s idea of making a book of the parts that are horrible to get the point across that there are so many of them (though the Jefferson Bible kind of makes a similar point, with its small size).  Maybe get lots of people, especially Christains, to vote on whether they follow/agree with certain passages in the Bible, then make a book with all the verses that more than 50% of people say they don’t follow/agree with.Also, I agree with Demonhype’s comment above.  Comfort (and others like him) don’t want atheists to criticize different religions equally; they want people to only criticize other people’s religions and not say anything about Christianity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501162343 Jason Paul Bachand

    While a religious idea does not deserve our respect per se, this idea seems contrary to the rationalist point of view. Assuming a pragmatic perspective and disregarding any ‘moral’ concern about the action itself, this event implies uncomfortable parallels with book burnings and censorship, long the pernicious province of religious types. It will doubtless produce more harm to the atheist movement than good, and solidify the negative image of non-belief that pervades the American zeitgeist. There are many excellent rational reasons to disbelieve and indeed disrespect the bible – I recommend “The End of Biblical Studies by Hector Avalos of Iowa State University as a good start for a critical discussion of ‘bibliotry.’

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    There is the principle behind a statement, action or demonstration, and there is also the pragmatic effect. To completely disregard one of those and focus exclusively on the other is often foolish and self-defeating.

    I admired the Backyard Skeptics ad campaign, and before that, they had some constructive discussions with young people in a local church. I was interested in participating, and so even though it’s a long drive I was seriously considering becoming a member.

    Not any more.

  • PamBG

    Sigh.  As a Christian, I also get what he’s trying to do, but ripping pages out of anyone’s holy book is never a smart idea and betrays a lack of emotional intelligence.

    There is a concept in psychology called “splitting”.  It’s when Individual A can only see people in terms of “all good” or “all bad”.  That’s what fundamentalists do.  And it really ain’t very intelligent when atheists do it.

    This is just juvenile hitting out.  It’s juvenile hitting out when Christians do it to the Koran and it’s juvenile hitting out when atheists do it to the bible.  As a liberal Christian, I actually really expect atheists to be more intelligent than fundamentalist Christians, really I do.

    This is actually a great example of why splitting is incorrect.  Because there are stupid atheists as well as smart ones and stupid atheists as well as stupid Christians.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanfigdor Jonathan Figdor

    Do it Jefferson style and just cut out the verses. You can cite Jim Wallis and Thomas Jefferson as the inspirations.

    • Tony

      If you think anyone who is protesting this will see a difference, you have drastically overestimated these people. 

  • Charles Black

    Why go through the trouble of ripping pages out of the bible?|
    Wouldn’t it make more sense instead to simply put up more billboards with the same bible verses commanding for examples teenagers to be killed for being drunk, women for not being virgins & kill gay people as well?

  • Charles Black

    Why go through the trouble of ripping pages out of the bible?|
    Wouldn’t it make more sense instead to simply put up more billboards with the same bible verses commanding for examples teenagers to be killed for being drunk, women for not being virgins & kill gay people as well?

  • T_jg

    I am a Christian and I don’t actually care if you rip up a Bible. Knock yourselves out.

    • http://thingsfindothinks.com Andrew Finden

      Same here.. (reading some of the pre-emptive comments about Christians getting offended, I can’t help wondering if they might be disappointed when we’re not?)

      • Rich Wilson

        But I seem to recall you’re not an American Christian, let alone an Orange Country Christian.  You know, a few Americans actually think every word of that book is the literal truth*.  No storytelling or allegory involved.  There’s still hope some of them may get cranky.

        * http://ncse.com/news/2011/09/new-cnnorc-poll-evolution-006876

        • http://thingsfindothinks.com Andrew Finden

          True: I’m not american.

        • Jay Delgado

          I am, though, Rich: I’m an Orange County Christian.

          Go ahead…knock yourself out
          God’s Word is forever true and profitable for all. It’s a shame that you feel you must tear up book your don’t understand (tell me: did you tear up your non-linear algebra text book as well?).
          Perhaps, as you (or one of your fellow Atheists) tear it up, you will happen to read more of it and come to understand God’s love for you through His Holy Son, Jesus Christ: the Personification of God Himself.

          • Rich Wilson

            I’m not ripping/cutting up anything at present.  I was just pointing out to Andrew that sometimes non-American Christians don’t get the full breadth of the lunacy of American Christians who think the entire thing is literally true.  Like, for example, Exodus 21, in which God tells us that women and children are chattel.  You did mean that part too, right?  How did I misunderstand it?  Or there’s Gen 22.  Hitchens demonstrates the proper response to that one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQorzOS-F6w&t=5m23s

          • Rich Wilson

            I’m not ripping/cutting up anything at present.  I was just pointing out to Andrew that sometimes non-American Christians don’t get the full breadth of the lunacy of American Christians who think the entire thing is literally true.  Like, for example, Exodus 21, in which God tells us that women and children are chattel.  You did mean that part too, right?  How did I misunderstand it?  Or there’s Gen 22.  Hitchens demonstrates the proper response to that one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQorzOS-F6w&t=5m23s

  • Beth

    Christianity is by far the majority religion in the US so that’s why they aren’t ripping up sections of other religious texts. Surely that should be fairly obvious.

    • Michael S

      If someone takes an approach too aggressive for Hemant, it “will inevitably be clouded by the negative backlash.” He’s already decided what his conclusion will be.

  • Heisenberg

    Yeah, in honor of Jefferson’s Bible, why not make just the opposite. Take out the majority of the things that Jefferson left in, there are some decent parts. A Bible of only the crazy giant fish/whale dwelling people, sea splitters and water to wine miracles (let’s not forget revelations!) would be kind of cool to have.

  • Greg

    Meh – it’s a good idea if you could somehow make sure all the Christians that heard about it understood the subtleties involved. And if you were sure that people wouldn’t deliberately misinform others of what it was trying to accomplish. 

    Unfortunately, a lot of people wouldn’t understand the subtleties involved, and I hate to say it, but the most vocal apologists and anti-atheists around largely strike me as being exactly the kind of dishonest scumbags that would rub their hands in glee at such a chance to lie and misrepresent.

    I doubt it will have the desired effect.

    In a perfect world it would be a great idea. But then again, I suppose in a perfect world it wouldn’t be needed, because the point would already be understood.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Shine a light on the ugliness instead of tearing it out and burying it.

  • Billy

    Ya, idk about this one. Burning the flag isn’t exactly the best way to show your displeasure for America. (or ripping up a bible for your displeasure at it)

  • NorDog

    The difference between a new born child and an embryo is one of development of a unified organism.  The difference between an ovum and an embryo is a difference of substantial change; a difference in kind.  That change in substance happens when the nuclei of the sperm and the egg fuse into a new single nucleus.  The result is a new, genetically unique, complete, and unified human being.  Ironically, an embryo, and even stem cells themselves testify to the unity of a new human being in that while they themselves are radically changing, they do so in a unified effort of growth in behalf of the person.  The stem cells change, but the unified person simply grows.  This is the same way in which the cartilage in a two-year-old’s skeleton changes to bone as the baby simply grows into adulthood.  And just like the child and the adult, so too are the embryo and child the same kind of thing.  The only differences between an embryo, a child, and an adult are those of growth and maturation.
     
    Some supporters of abortion and embryonic stem cell research deny the distinction between growth and substantial change, essentially arguing that a four-day-old embryo is not really a human being because we cannot see its humanity; it’s too small.  Or it is not a human being because it cannot develop without a mother to provide its material need for a uterus and placenta.  Or that “surplus” embryos must not be accorded human rights because they are slated for destruction anyway.  Yet, we justly condemn these arguments when applied to other types of people.  Bigots defended slavery by claiming an inability to see humanity in an African.  Reports of newborns left to die in garbage dumpsters do not compel us to deny the humanity of these babies simply because they do not have a mother to provide them with their material need for milk.  And we naturally recoil in horror at claims (real or imagined) that the communist Chinese harvest vital organs from executed political prisoners.  We recoil despite our knowing that the prisoners were slated for destruction anyway.
     

  • Rick M

    Hemant – over at Ray Comfort’s blog (http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com) he is describing you as, “my atheist friend, Hemant Mehta.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I saw… I didn’t realize we were BFFs, but there you go :)

  • Linda F.

    Let’s put it this way.

    A man calls for the burning of the Koran, and he is called a bigot.

    If a group of angry atheists with WAY too much time on their hands, decides to rip up photo copies of Biblical Scriptures (and later, as it turns out, pages torn directly from Bibles) – targeting ONLY Christianity, and not other religions that some find objectionable … How is that NOT an act of bigotry in the eyes of the public?

    Oh! Wait! I know the answer: it’s because the target is CHRISTIANITY.

    So I guess that makes it okay.

    If I were an atheist, I would be ashamed of the actions of Backyard Skeptics and I would want to distance myself from them as much as possible.

    If you guys truly were “friendly atheists,” you would see the actions of Backyard Skeptics for what they really are: acts of hatred and bigotry.

    Seems you’re not so “friendly” after all.


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