California Atheist Group Rips Apart Bible Verses (with Video)

Over the weekend, the Backyard Skeptics in Orange County, California gathered at Huntington Beach because they planned to tear certain pages out of the Bible. When uproar ensued, they altered their plans a bit — they decided to rip up regular-sized paper with Bible verses (or messages) printed on them.

This is how it went down (beginning at the 2:10 mark):

If you were looking forward to the demonstration, did it live up to your expectations?

If you were opposed to it, do you think Bruce Gleason‘s group handled it properly?

(via LA Atheism Examiner)

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.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t watch the video at work but I’m not sure that challenging someone’s beliefs on an emotional level is doing atheist any good.  I like the idea of the ad campaigns where we say you are not alone so when people start to question beliefs they have a place to turn.  Standing outside a bar pouring booze down the drain doesn’t give drinkers a reason to stop it just makes you look crazy.  Better to engage not make defensive.

  • Jim Henline

    Frankly I think they said they were going to do something and then backed out.
    I have no love for that, destroying a book is legal, and that is all the bible is, a book. If others give it reverence for whatever reason that is their hangup, not mine, tear it up, tear out the parts that need to go or that following say no longer apply, see how much is left, it would be hilarious.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

      Thomas Jefferson beat them to that one.

    • Anonymous

      Or they could have taken a black sharpie to it.

  • me

    well, to be fair, (in the spirit of “there’s no I in team”) there is god in good. of course, there’s also me in team, but that’s another fight.

    I did enjoy the “I’ll pray for you”-”I’ll think for you” exchange, primarily because the woman had already stopped listening and didn’t notice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698681810 Fergus Gallagher

    Much more tame, but I was banned from Premier UK for posting a video of me moving a PDF from my desktop to the trash:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O08O5qUlibo

  • Anonymous

    I just find the whole thing to be silly.

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

    Wow. A shouting match.

    Didn’t see that one coming. /sarc

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Harding/1322662990 Tiffany Harding

    i can understand why they did it, but ripping pages out of a book makes them no better than that nutzoid Florida preacher.  what a puerile demonstration that makes these people hate us even more. 

    • Siamang

       Did you watch the video?   They weren’t tearing pages out of a book.  They were tearing up sheets of paper they had printed themselves.

      Actually, a good way to get the message across without the Ray Bradbury overtones.

      • Anonymous

        The difference to the Koran burnings is that Muslims consider the book itself – the object as such – as holy or something to be revered and treated well.

        Christians don’t. The Bible is just a book to them and it’s the message that counts. When they freak out it’s over the symbolism

  • BornA

    I like the way they did it.

    I love books, and no matter what the book says I don’t think it should be ripped up for any reason.  I have a collection of religious books and treat them with just as much respect as I do my other fiction books.  Taking verses from the bible, putting them in layman’s terms then reading them aloud is a great way for people that have not read the book in its entirety to realize that there are a lot of things in it that don’t make sense in our modern world.  Ripping it up, to me, wasn’t offensive at all. It was simply punctuation. We are not going to blindly follow the teachings of a text that is not relevant anymore.  Doing that would be like finding an old copy of municipal laws and following them blindly, even though they may have been recinded, or updated.  There is a law on the books in my community that says that african american people have to be inside and off the streets when the streetlights come on. Completely stupid! But no one follows it anymore :) This is the same reason why the bible shouldn’t be followed anymore either.

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

    I hate public spectacles, and this one strikes me as immature. Who are they trying to convince? The religious conservatives are beyond reach, and the moderates and liberals agree with us that there are immoral things in the Bible, but they will continue to ignore those statements. I’m not sure what this protest is going to accomplish. If anything, we should be trying to get people to realize that the Bible is not a magic book. We should be hoping that people question their foundational assumptions. Otherwise, they’ll just disregard those portions of the Bible and continue believing in their own version of a warm-fuzzy god and warm-fuzzy afterlife.

    • http://churchofthecasualchristian.blogspot.com Pryopizm

      It’s people like these that forced me into realizing that the Bible had a bunch of horrible passeges in it and that I could never worship any kind of god that could be so cruel. 

      I was the moderate/liberal Christian.  And I think these fine folks have their place along with the more mild-mannered among us (such as me).

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

        Perhaps you’re right. I’m coming at this from a different angle.  Never having believed in any deities, it boggles my mind that people think the Bible is supernatural to begin with, and to me it’s indicative of a larger societal problem. Of course, I want people to get rid of the immoral parts of their religion, but I would be happier to see them lose their supernatural beliefs altogether.

        Admittedly, I don’t have any personal experience, so stories like yours are enlightening. I’m sure for some people, learning that the biblical deity promotes slavery, stoning, genocide, etc. is a wake-up call. It encourages them to take a harder look at their religion. That’s always a good thing, but I wonder how many of the people at this protest already ignore the nastier parts of the Bible. Those people will be offended, and they’ll continue to strongly believe in their own “nicer” version of the biblical deity.

  • b00ger

    Oh the tone argument. Will it ever end? The hard truth is that we need people out there on the front lines making lots of noise. These people are the ones who draw media attention and let closeted kids know that, yes, there are people out there like you and here’s where you can find them. Also, while it might not convert too many hard-lined Christians, there will be those that see this and think, “Wow, I didn’t know that was in there, maybe I should do some more digging.” 
    While I personally would not attend something like this, because I’m rather mild mannered, I’m glad there are people out there doing it. I was first lured into becoming an out atheist through videos of shenanigans much like this posted on youtube. That led me to find Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” which led to “God is not Great”, which led to “Letter to a Christian Nation” which led me to “Liars for Jesus” and Pharygula, and Hemant’s site etc.

    Public spectacles like this are the “gateway drug” to atheism. (If you’ll allow my crude analogy)

  • Siamang

    I think it would have been a more accurate article if they had announced to the media their plan to all show up and yell at a street preacher.

  • Anonymous

    watch the video, people. no books were harmed, just printer pages.

    i too loved the “i’ll pray for you.” “I’ll think for you.” exchange. brilliant. 

    i’ve been to this beach, and it’s a fun place for this sort of theater. hawkers and gawkers abound, i don’t see any harm in this. it certainly seemed like the crowd was mostly on our side, and the theocrat sounded angry and stupid, you could tell most passers-by were walking quickly away from him, and not the atheists. i’ve been rereading the buybull and koran lately and once again i’m struck by just how many indefensible passages there are in them. stone your kids, kill babies, punish great-great-grandchildren for the ‘wrongs’ of their fathers, kill the unbeliever and send him to hell for all eternity, etc. i’ve been reading Numbers and Deut. and the Suras about hell in particular, and goodness! so very many, many mandatory sacrifices of goats, sheep, doves, oxen, etc. i guess jews and xtians and muslims don’t have to do that anymore, why is that? the “lord” is pretty damn clear on what will happen if they don’t, and it’s not pretty. 

    as far as protest goes, the only thing i can think of that would make this more effective is to be there on the day when the preacher is not. just a reading of the worst and most ridiculous passages from “holy” texts is powerful enough. one could even ‘get in people’s faces’ like the preachers do, “hey, was your mom married when she gave birth to you? no? should we stone her then? the buybull says so!” etc

    • Anonymous

      Christians don’t sacrifice anymore because Jesus was crucified.  Not sure why Jews don’t sacrifice anymore and I wasn’t aware that Muslims sacrificed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E5IVDLJRGQTAVFK4KHLDKDH55Y Daniel

    Eh.  I’m all in favor of taking Gideon Bibles and everything Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses will give me to my local recycling center to eat into their bottom lines, but I simply don’t see the point in this.

    Cutting the insane bits out of the Bible is a funny concept (see Firefly), but I don’t think it does anything in practice.  Yes, Jefferson did it, so it might be a nice example to demonstrate that he was not the Christian Founding Father some try to cast him as, but this didn’t really work as a “educate about history” either.

    More or less wasted effort and a bit of negative press.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    Oh gawd damn, I can’t believe how weak and wimpy our movement is. WHEN are we going to figure out that religion deserves zero respect? And that giving it respect anyway is a form of surrender? 

    Yes, they eventually ripped up some paper. So now let’s hear all about how wrong they were for making our movement look like such extremists. lol

    We could run faster as a movement, if one of our feet would get off the other!

  • b00ger

    If you didn’t read the release from the IFI you missed this great picture. I’m sure they meant it to be demeaning, but I kind of like it.

    http://www.illinoisfamily.org/content/img/f35400/obamadontask.jpg

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

    “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.”

    Huh? 
    Bigots don’t have legitimate points?   I guess P Z Myers didn’t have
    any legitimate points to make when he desecrated a Qur’an either since
    he too is a bigot.

    Don’t believe me?  Just read some of his posts
    about libertarians.   He does all the typical things one would expect
    of any foaming at the mouth bigot.   His posts are full of hateful gross
    over-generalizations, complete ignorance of what he is criticizing,
    etc.   He is willing to brand them all to a one as sociopaths.  He’s as
    dopey as bigoted Christians that think every atheist is a communist.

    He’s
    as laughable as someone calling all Darwinists selfish, and motivated
    by greed, just because Richard Dawkins wrote a book called “The Selfish
    Gene”.   In fact the point of that book is that what appears to be
    altruistic is in fact selfish when looked at from a different
    perspective.  

    Ayn Rand did a similar thing when discussing
    morality.   She wrote a book called the virtue of selfishness.    For
    example pointing out that a mother helping her child while appearing to
    be altruistic was actually selfish.   In fact, whenever you act on your
    own values you are acting selfishly.    She called her philosophy
    Objectivism.   

    Just as not all Darwinists are Dawkinists.    It
    is not necessarily true that all libertarians are objectivists.   In
    fact, according to Rand, no libertarians are Objectivists.   Were Myers
    not such an ignoramus he’d know that.

    It’s worse than this
    however.   Not even the Objectivist are against charity.   They just
    don’t think a Marxist totalitarian government providing for the poor
    counts as charity.   They find Christianity and Marxism both offensive
    because they treat the individual as unworthy of their own lives, and as
    ants in a colony to be sacrificed to a greater good defined by some
    elite class of priest or politician.   A group that claims moral
    authority over individual lives to the point where they feel they can
    force sacrifice of others.   An additional concern being that it always
    turns out that these demands of sacrifice are ever increasing, and ever
    diverted to the very people claiming moral authority.

    Which is
    exactly how Myers views himself.   He is does not consider himself of
    equal moral authority.   He not only wants to decide for himself what is
    worthy of his charity, but he wants to decide for everyone else too.

    That
    makes him the monster.   Not only does he not have moral authority over
    me.  He can’t have it.  His usurpation of my moral authority cannot
    make me moral.  No more than preventatively imprisoning a rapist makes
    him moral.  His failure to rape has nothing to do with self control.  

    What’s
    worse here however is that Myers wishes to control not my trespasses
    but how I choose to practice reciprocal altruism, regardless of whether
    I’m an Objectivist, libertarian, or of no ideology.    In his eyes
    anyone who sees flaws in his methods of achieving charity is a
    psychopath.   Like any bigot he can see no charitable interpretation of
    the motivations of others.

    It can’t be, for instance, that I am
    against socialized medicine because I understand the economics, and
    politics involved.    That in my judgment such a system will inevitably
    be a relative failure in the long term.   I choose not to support it
    because I recognize the difference between the short term effects and
    the long term ones.

    I, for example, opposed Cash for Clunkers
    specifically because I am aware that it would cause the following bad
    effects:  1) It would pull sales forward. 2) It would raise the cost of
    used cars therefore hurting the poor.  3) It would subdize new car
    dealers, and harm used car dealers.  4) It would increase the deficit 
    5) It would penalize taxpayers. 6) It would make the economy less
    efficient and actually increase the consumption of natural resources
    like oil.  7) Resources would be wasted in running the program.   8)
    Workers would be diverted from productive employment to the busywork of
    running the program.  9) It sets a bad precedent for future wasteful
    programs.

    These are all points that libertarians agree with.   
    That’s only because it’s sound economic and political theory.    Some 
    conservatives also agree.   Some democrats.

    However, uniquely the
    libertarians are labeled sociopaths for opposing a program designed to
    “help the poor get new cars”.     The idiot in charge is so out of touch
    with the poor that he doesn’t even realized that they don’t buy new
    cars.   Not if they are sensible.  Used cars are much more
    affordable.    

    Heck even the Objectivists aren’t motivated by
    psychopathy.  They in fact think charity is a good thing
    under the correct circumstances.
       They just don’t think
    handing cash over to winos is something that makes sense.   If they
    don’t value what the wino is doing with their life why support their
    habit?   This is essentially what many government programs do.   More
    sensible to place conditions on your charity.   Give the wino a
    sandwich, but not a ten spot.   

    I had a beggar come up to me in
    NYC when I was in KFC.   I offered to buy him a meal.  He gave me the
    look like I cheated him, and stormed off.   I didn’t know him from Adam
    just like I don’t know any of the many people parasitizing my tax
    payments.  I wasn’t about to give him money to spend on booze or
    prostitutes.   I don’t like the government dole because it is not in
    fact charity, and is in fact destructive of society in the long term.  
    Sure in the short term things look better but good economics teaches you
    to be aware of the unseen side effects.    Taxes spend on welfare is
    money that cannot be spent on true charity.

    In conclusion,  
    Jones actually had quite a few legitimate reasons for burning a
    Qur’an.   Despite being a bigot.    That’s because people are right and
    wrong on individual topics, and being wrong on one doesn’t make them
    wrong on all.

     


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