Pennsylvania Atheist Group Buys Billboard To Exploit ‘Year of the Bible’

As you all know (and are no doubt celebrating right now), 2012 has been declared “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania.

Now, one atheist group is fighting back in their own way. The PA Nonbelievers are working in conjunction with American Atheists to put up this billboard in Harrisburg:

The “HR 535 – Year of the Bible Resolution” declared by the PA House of Representatives asked us to “study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures”. After considering the bill, we felt it necessary to highlight one of those teachings and share it with the public in the form of this billboard. It will be posted starting around March 5th for 28 days, and stay up throughout the month of March.

American Atheists adds:

The fastest way for a Christian to become an Atheist is to read the bible. We want them to recognize that they see the application of the verse and how awful the bible is and come out of the closet. We especially want the in-the-pew atheists to begin to question why they are continuing the charade of going to church and giving their money in coercion of the bible.

I can’t wait to see the next billboards in the series.

How can Christians possibly complain when it’s their own holy book? I know, I know, that won’t stop them, but still. It’ll be fun to watch.

***Update***: I spoke with a representative from American Atheists and he clarified a few points people are bringing up in the comments:

  • PA Nonbelievers had no input into the design or location of the billboard. They only paid for a portion of it.
  • Regarding the image and the message, he said, “Our members of American Atheists who are African American are overwhelmingly supportive of the billboard.”


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.

  • walkamungus

    Oh, I do like this billboard. This one should get the whole country’s attention.

  • Methodissed

    Now that’s a billboard I can support (unlike some of AA’s past attempts).

    I’ll wager a guess that this one won’t go viral in the corporate media. Unfortunately that’s a downside of hitting  the nail on the head

  • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

    Exploit is such a harsh word.  How about “highlight the misadventures of the PA House of Representatives?”  ;)

  • observer

    I’ve always wondered what would happen if someone put posters or flyers of questionable text (or better yet, graphic interpretation) from the Bible, and hang them here and there for people to see (legally of course). An see how the Christians would react. Would they censor their own God’s “words”, defend them, or perhaps even claim persecution?

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

       That’s something we’re eager to find out.  There was an article on the local news about the billboard yesterday evening, and it seems that people are having a visceral reaction to the Slavery component, and not happy with it on those grounds.

      It’s weird the mental gymnastics required to simultaneously reject something you KNOW is wrong, and reject the criticism of that same thing from your holy book.

    • Pigelot

      Ooh, I’ll take “claim persecution” for 500.

    • Anonymous

      They’d yap something about taking the verses out of context

      There are also fools who believe that the Bible only referred to voluntary, indentured servitude

      • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

         Heard that one before too.  It’s very easily dismissed, but on top of that, this verse has the ignoble position of being used by preachers in the South to justify American slavery.  That’s the part that makes it even more important to understand how evil it really is – It has ripple effects beyond biblical times.

        The fun part about this one is that it’s not out of context – It’s in a diatribe by Paul about how people should behave (What is right, moral and proper).

  • Astefanelli
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Hibbard/100002227509156 Chris Hibbard

    I think with the picture they should show more of a variety of slaves.  That apears to be a black man, but there where more slaves in human history than just black men.  Just saying this because if the religious can not say anything about the text they might use the picture to say that Atheist’s are racist.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

      Unfortunately showing a variety would make the image more palatable, but less recognizable.

      The Bible, and specifically this passage, was used to condone and support slavery throughout that period in the United States.

    • Neil

      The fact that there have been all kinds of slaves in history is true, but meaningless in this context. It’s not primarily an anti-slavery message, it’s playing on the fact that all moral poeple are now anti-slavery. A black slave is the only one that it makes sense to use here. It is immediately visceral, the remnants of that oppression and hatred still linger today all across america, and it has a message that all americans can easily latch onto given our shared history. Using any other kind of slave would actually dilute and confuse the message, IMO.Not every incidence of non-inclusiveness is bigotry or an oversight, and anyone trying to confuse the message to make atheists seem racist will look pretty stupid to anyone with half a brain.   

      • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

         Exactly right.

  • Rod Chlebek

    Don’t forget Psalms 137:9. Keeps the kids in line.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I hope this is the first in a series of bible quote billboards.  Can we have “put disobedient children to death” next?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    But, but, that has to be taken in it’s context. Y’see, that was a different time, and, uh, well, they had slaves, yeah, but, well, we don’t now, and well, it’s ’cause some of the context has changed and some has stayed the same, so, uh, that’s why we can conveniently ignore huge sections of the Unerring, Perfect, Unchanging, Literal Word of God, and at the same time use other, selected parts to justify our controlling everyone else. Understand? No?

    Well, y’see, the Bible has magic invisible footnotes at the end of every verse, that only True Christians can see. They say stuff like, “After September 22, 1862, this verse shall no longer be taken literally, but must be taken figuratively, with a broad and loose interpretation that does not reflect poorly on Christianity.” So that’s how only we, the True Christians know exactly when to disregard stuff that is embarrassing to us, and when to bash people over the head with the same stuff. If you truly had faith, you’d see those magic invisible footnotes too.

    • Marcie

      That’s the argument I always seem to get when posting bible scriptures on fb.

    • Anonymous

      “magical invisible footnotes”, excellent, I’m definitely using that one.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

       It’s weird how, for a book that supposedly contains Timeless Universal Truth, context is so necessary for proper understanding and interpretation.

      • Anonymous

        And that after 1700 years, people still can’t agree on what any of it really means. Just about every sect has a different interpretation and there are thousands of them

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donny-Pauling/616998781 Donny Pauling

        The Bible isn’t unique in being used a tool by those who wish to justify poor decisions.  However, the poor decisions of humans also do not invalidate it.

        You assume God is supposed to make things perfect. He isn’t. That’s up to us. Slavery is a man made, not God made, institution. God isn’t going to reach down and wipe it from existence. That would violate free will. But God WILL offer comfort to those enslaved.

        So many also seem to be confusing God with the people who claim to represent Him. Using the Bible to justify slavery until the 1800s reflects upon poor human decisions, not poor divine decisions. God meets us where we are. That includes all of human history. Free will is powerful and necessary. Would you want to marry someone you forced to marry you? The decision to unite with you in marriage would mean nothing unless it was done out of free will. The same is true for God: He gives us free will to do whatever we wish to do, and it is His heart that we choose Him. But that same free will allows us to be very evil.

        Context and interpretation will indeed be necessary… always.  Especially so when the audience is not speaking the same language or living in the same culture.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          And yet God bothers to command people to not eat shrimp.  Look, I get that eating shrimp at one point in time was a bad thing, but, oh man, I can’t say it as well as 
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx7irFN2gdI

          • Ulrike Dunlap

             Wow, Rich – that should be shown in every movie theater at the beginning of every movie!
            Thanks for posting that!

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          You assume God is supposed to make things perfect.

          No, but too often he makes thing worse.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RNDED36ZGTDBNVJOUXUVG23BEQ David Hill

            I have to disagree with the idea that He makes things worse.  The Bible is supposed to be a guidebook, not a rulebook.  The problem isn’t with God, but the willful misinterpretation of religious leaders.  And I’ll guarantee that willful misinterpretation creates more atheists than God does.

            In short: gods don’t kill people, PEOPLE with gods kill people.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Well, inasmuch as gods don’t exist, I’d agree with you.

        • Anonymous

          “God isn’t going to reach down and wipe it from existence”. Ok, that does sound like a lot of work you are right. But couldn’t he perhaps have put in a couple of words .. something like “guys, you know this slavery thing is really a bad idea”. It’s pretty confusing when things like Leviticus 25:44 explicitly tell you where you should buy slaves from, y’know? Am I asking too much?

          • Demonhype

             Exactly.  And considering that God not only doesn’t make an effort to wipe out slavery, he actively encourages it!  Come on, I can understand a bit of “treat your slaves well”–even if it is a typical bullshit Christian copout attempt to weasel out of what the bible actually says–but “slaves must obey their masters” and directions on how many stripes to beat your slave with when s/he pisses you off–how can anyone interpret that as “giving comfort to the enslaved”?

            This “God didn’t create slavery” and “God didn’t support slavery” would be a bit more convincing if God didn’t say jack about slavery, rather than constantly spouting off in favor of it.

            • Tony

              There is no god.  End of discussion.

          • Demonhype

             Exactly.  And considering that God not only doesn’t make an effort to wipe out slavery, he actively encourages it!  Come on, I can understand a bit of “treat your slaves well”–even if it is a typical bullshit Christian copout attempt to weasel out of what the bible actually says–but “slaves must obey their masters” and directions on how many stripes to beat your slave with when s/he pisses you off–how can anyone interpret that as “giving comfort to the enslaved”?

            This “God didn’t create slavery” and “God didn’t support slavery” would be a bit more convincing if God didn’t say jack about slavery, rather than constantly spouting off in favor of it.

          • Andreas Wick

            fact is, slavery WAS an excellent idea, specially in the bronze age. 
            why would it be wrong in context? back there owning a person was as common as people owning cattle.
            probably slavery will return sometime or already has. still, back in the bronze age slavery had nothing o do with racism.
            anyway, slaves of the cash we all are.

            • Ivo

              Look, we have a fan of slavery! If I were your owner, such a stupid comment would earn you a most severe beating (strictly as per biblical instructions). What could possibly be wrong, in context?

        • Aaron Scoggin

          The first thing is, you’re right, nobody can make things perfect. We, as humans, can’t even make things perfect – There will always be something that could be better – Nothing is perfect. We can always strive for it, though.

          Secondly, it’s not so much that we’re confusing “god” with the people that “claim” to represent it, so much that we’re pointing out that it’s *in the book*. You know, that book, also called “God’s Word”? So are the words in the Bible “God’s” words, or are they man’s? If it is god’s word, then what we are saying is accurate. If it’s man’s word, then perhaps some revisions are in order, as the vast majority of Christians view it as god’s word. 

          As for marriage, when we marry, we know who we’re marrying. We can see them, touch them, and have a conversation with them. We can get to know them, and they can get to know us, before we make that decision to marry. And if we don’t marry that particular person, there are always more potential partners. Unlike the Christian god, who says, “Ok, you can “marry me”, or you can burn in eternal fire. That’s your choice, though..” 

          It’s not really a “free will” kind of choice when the only other option is pain and suffering. I have the free will to be who I want to be, not because “god” gave it to me, but because it’s naturally-occurring. You have it from the moment you’re born, until someone else takes it away.

          Context is important, because if we take things literally in the Bible, it makes Christians look bad. If it were perfect, context would be unnecessary, and you get something that resembles the Westboro Baptist Church. So you have to decide whether it’s perfect, or it it’s man-made. If it’s man-made, then of course, it can be made up.

        • Anonymous

          Enuma, how do you feel about the following quote from Robert

          Ingersoll? “Love was the first to dream of immortality, — not
          Religion, not Revelation. We love, therefore we wish to live. The hope of immortality is the great oak ’round which have climbed the
          poisonous vines of superstition. The vines have not supported the oak, the oak has supported the vines. As long as men live and love and die, this hope will blossom in the human heart.”
          Don’t you think this hope is just a little bit responsible for humans inventing the concept of god?  

        • Greisha

           No need to wait – we can see reaction already (see above).

        • Anonymous

          No, it is god’s commandment that people be killed and enslaved.  That women be raped and even that the babies be cut out of their wombs (see, god actually supports and commands abortion!).  Those are your nasty gods orders to his people!

          Oh, yes, and why should context even matter if you’re talking about a book that is suppose to be the true word of god. You’d think that such a creature would have knowledge that we mere humans didn’t have thousands of years ago.

        • Chuck Mueller

          Way to go, dude.  Hold up the bible, which is purported to be the inerrant word of God, while telling us that God himself is not perfect, and then blame the readers for not understanding the “true meaning” of the bible or carrying-out God’s very specific orders to discriminate, hate and murder people.”The Bible isn’t unique in being used a tool by those who wish to justify
          poor decisions.  However, the poor decisions of humans also do not
          invalidate it.”Say what???  That is the biggest mouth-full of double-speak and drivel I have ever heard.  “But God WILL offer comfort to those enslaved.”WOW!  That must have meant so much those African Americans who were enslaved by their white masters.  Just knowing that God would punish the violators of human rights, but not until after their captors deaths, must have given the enslaved such comfort as they continued to suffer until they died. And what was God thinking, I wonder, as he looked down at all of this suffering…and excusing it’s occurrence with word-play like “free-will”?”Would you want to marry someone you forced to marry you?Absolutely not!  Which brings up the question of why Christians absolutely insist that I, as a gay man, must marry a woman if marriage is on my mind?  Is that not forcing someone? “Context and interpretation will indeed be necessary… always.
           Especially so when the audience is not speaking the same language  or
          living in the same culture.”Truer words were never spoken.  Christians have not been speaking the same language as the rest of mankind since the inception of Christianity.  Expecting the “audience” to blindly accept and go along with everything they say, is a total avoidance of reality.  And whether Christians want to admit it or not, they haven’t been living in the same “Culture” for some 2,000 years now.We are no longer living in the dark ages or on a flat world that has the sun revolving around it.  Nor should the majority of humans be expected to believe in Peter Rabbit, Santa Claus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster just because some venue like the Vatican says it it so.

        • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

           And God saying, “Slavery is bad.  Don’t own slaves,” would have interfered with free will how?

        • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

           And God saying, “Slavery is bad.  Don’t own slaves,” would have interfered with free will how?

        • Katie

           You talk about free will – do you think the slaves had any free will to choose not to be slaves?

        • Tony

          “God meets us where we are.  He gives us free will to do whatever we wish to do.”  These are empty claims for which there is no evidence.  I repeat, no evidence.

        • Pyrobryan

           Slavery is a man made, not God made, institution. God isn’t going to reach down and wipe it from existence. That would violate free will. 
          Wouldn’t the exact opposite be true.  Slavery takes away free will.  To abolish slavery is to restore free will.

          Also, if god is omniscient and omnipotent, then god knew that man would create slavery in this creation, god had to power to create a creation where slavery wouldn’t be invented, god chose to create a creation where slavery would be invented.  One could argue then that god created slavery.

          • Rwlawoffice

            God did create a world that was free from slavery. He also created human beings that had free will to follow him or not. Once humans decided not to follow him all sorts of heinous things came into the world, including slavery.  If God wiped out slavery then he would be taking away the free will of the masters even though it would benefit the slaves.  This would be the same for any bad act you can think of. But that is not what he did.  The very act of you rejecting Him shows the free will he gave to all. There are billions of people who believe based upon the evidence they have or upon their experiences or upon their own reflection. There are billions, including yourself who have chosen not to believe. That is your free will in action. If that were not so, then all would believe and this board would not exist.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Wearing mixed fiber on the other hand, well that’s just too much!  God had to put his foot down and put a stop to it!

            • TiltedHorizon

              “Once humans decided not to follow him all sorts of heinous things came into the world, including slavery”

              So all those Christians who owned slaves were not true Christians then?

              “If God wiped out slavery then he would be taking away the free will of the masters even though it would benefit the slaves.”

              God does not need to wipe it out, just condemn as the abomination it truly is, instead of sanctioning the practice with a “Slavery for Dummies” guide.  As a side, if taking away free will is ‘bad’, then what is drowning nearly all life on earth constitute as?

              • Rwlawoffice

                If you are trying to say that Christians followed the old testament law then you are mistaken in your understanding of Christianity.   

                As for the flood, it wasn’t ending free will, it was judgment.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  “If you are trying to say that Christians followed the old testament law then you are mistaken in your understanding of Christianity.”

                  There is no language in the OT which declares the concept of people as property as wrong, it therefore sanctions it. Try as you may to call it ‘indentured servitude’ the math does not add up.

                  Leviticus 25:44-46(KJV)

                  “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.”

                  Leviticus 25:44-46(NIV)

                  “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

                  Leviticus 25:44-46 (NASB)

                  “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another”

                  Three different interpretations which all say the same thing. People can be “Possession” & “Property”; to be purchased, sold or inherited, this applies to slaves AND their children born to the master’s land, so sez the lord. Note, the eventual release of dept only applied to the Israelites; heathens remained for life. However you choose to spin this, you can’t escape the stench of it, slavery by any other name or description you apply, was sanctioned and immoral.

                  FYI, it was these scriptures which inspired racial slavery, read the following from the Virginia General Assembly declaration:

                  “All servants imported and brought into the Country. . . who were not Christians in their native Country. . . shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion. . . shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resists his master. . . correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction. . . the master shall be free of all punishment. . . as if such accident never happened.”

                  - Virginia General Assembly declaration, 1705

                  Tell me again (an ex-Christian) how I fail to understand Christianity.

                  “As for the flood, it wasn’t ending free will, it was judgment.”

                  So the dead have free will then?

      • Chuck Mueller

         Yes.  Hence the need for “Bible Study”.

        We wanna make sure we get it right.

        • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

          Funny how God couldn’t get the message across clearly. For an omnipotent and omniscient being, he’s not a very clever guy.

        • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

          Funny how God couldn’t get the message across clearly. For an omnipotent and omniscient being, he’s not a very clever guy.

    • http://twitter.com/hipopotamo Hipopótamo de Río

      You had me on stitches here Richard! I just snorted coffee out of my nose and onto my keyboard!

      Because no True Xian can possibly react that way, isn’t it?

      • Alex

        If I didn’t know who Richard Wade was, and if not all those “um”s and “well”s, it would have been a perfect Poe.

    • Rwlawoffice

       I doubt this billboard will have the effect that is intended other then to mock (which is really the intent so maybe I am wrong). Although you are being sarcastic Richard, this verse, as with all other verses n the Bible should be interpreted in their literal, historical and grammatical context. When that is done you do get a better interpretation of the verse.

      Of course, neither the Jewish nation, nor Christians invented slavery.  It was in place in all communities in ancient history.  It was particularity prevalent in the Roman and Greek culture which some on this board tout as being morally superior to Christianity because of its acceptance of homosexuality.

        It is true that “slavery” in the Jewish tradition was voluntary and was in the payment of debts. It was not racially based. It is also true that every seven years during the year of Jubilee, regardless of whether the debt was paid back, it was forgiven and all “slaves” were released. 

      Sadly, it is also true that some Christians in the south during the time of slavery in our country tried to justify slavery by use of the Bible, but it is also true that Christian groups were the ones that led to the end of slavery in this country and the civil rights for African Americans in the 1960′s.   The abolitionists movements in this country were led and supported mainly by Christians .

      So if you want to mock Christian ethics, at least get your facts correct. Also, point to an atheist based moral system that has a track record of better morality then Christianity.

      • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

        Rwlawoffice: “It is true that “slavery” in the Jewish tradition was voluntary and was in the payment of debts. It was not racially based. It is also true that every seven years during the year of Jubilee, regardless of whether the debt was paid back, it was forgiven and all “slaves” were released. ”

        Leviticus 25:44-6: However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.  You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.

        ***
        Purchasing slaves from foreigners and passing those slaves, which can include children, along to your own progeny as permanent inheritance sure sounds like non-racial, voluntary, debt-based slavery that doesn’t last a lifetime to me.

        Speaking of getting your facts right, that six year limit only applied to male Hebrew slaves.  Female slaves did not get released unless they were married to the Hebrew male slave prior to his enslavement.  Exodus 21:2-11

        • Rwlawoffice

           You are correct that Lev. 25:44-46 holds that under the Mosiac non Hebrew slaves were treated differently then Hebrew slaves in regard to the year of jubilee, but that doesn’t change the comment I made. In the Jewish tradition slavery was related to payment of debts. As for the release in Exodus, you are incorrect when you say that the family is held hostage. The man would go to the elders and declare that he wanted to stay.  

          The fact that Christians are not under the Mosaic law really makes your comments irrelevant.

          • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

             The man gets released but not his wife or kids, so the only way he can stay with them is if he gives up his freedom and stays a slave… and that’s not holding the family hostage?

            You are a shining example of how the Bible completely screws up a person’s relationship with reality.

          • Reginald Jooald

            Not at all true. If the Mosaic law is part of the Bible, and is still considered as being given by God, then that law is immoral and by extension, so is God himself. You can hide behind “mysterious ways” or “another time” or “no longer applies”, but that doesn’t change anything if it’s the same omnipotent omniscient deity.

            • Rwlawoffice

               You should study dispensationalism to get a better understanding of how God has instructed people throughout the history of mankind.

              • Reginald Jooald

                Dispensationalism is one of the strategies I implied when I was referring to “hiding”. Slavery is immoral. It doesn’t matter what time you’re speaking about, immoral instructions are immoral. Slavery is not right, has never been right, will never be right. Stoning is not right, has never been right, will never be right. You can try to rationalize and justify all you like, but it nonetheless contradicts the “compassionate” nature of the Christian deity and holy book.

                If you have an actual argument to make — rather than just referring to how I ought to study X or Y before speaking — please make it.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Dispensations are not “mysteries” as you imply.  You are right, slavery as practiced in our country or forced slavery in any country is immoral.  However, that is not the context of these verses in that they are referring to a voluntary system and any involuntary attempt to impose slavery was punished by death.

                  As far a stoning, it was capital punishment for committing a crime, not unlike the death penalty. You can argue about the crimes for which it was employed, but if you agree that it is every justified then you are arguing relative morality in your mind.  Are you pro choice? If you are then you must justify that by claiming that the fetus is not human, otherwise you would not be consistent with the statement that all capital punishment is immoral.

                • Reginald Jooald

                  Did I say dispensations were “mysteries”? No. I gave a perfectly reasonable reason for their existence: they’re rationalizations. You use them to avoid cognitive dissonance.

                  It’s obvious that the slavery referred to is not always voluntary. It’s been pointed out to you by others. You’re ignoring us, and it’s getting obnoxious. 

                  And stoning: you’re arguing then that stoning is an acceptable punishment for certain crimes? For the crimes described in the Bible? That’s straight screwed up. If it’s not acceptable, then your deity is a terrible evil one, or a flawed and not-so-omniscient one.

                  It sounds like you’re intentionally trying to not listen to us. I’d suggest you open up your mind a bit. Those ideas floating around in there aren’t evil, aren’t trying to take you off the “path”, they’re trying to free you. :)

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Way to avoid the issue. You argued that stoning was always wrong and I pointed out it was capital punishment for crimes. You can argue about what crimes it applied to, but that is different from saying it was always wrong. Are you against the death penalty and at the same time pro choice?    

                • Anonymous

                   Of course he isn’t listen. Haven’t you paid attention? His behavior has always been trollish and annoying

                • Keven

                  Fetus is not human, even your bible teaches so.

                  What was the penalty for killing someone? Death. What is the penalty for killing the unborn in the bible? a few shekel.  If god saw a fetus as a human, then why did he not gave the same penalty?

                • Rwlawoffice

                  People who support abortion try to use that verse all the time and it is a fail. If the baby dies it was considered murder. If the baby is born without injury it is a fine.  Try Jeremiah 1:5 or Psalm 22:9-10, Psalm 139:13-16, Isiah 46:3-4 to see if God views an unborn child a human being

              • Annie

                Ah, yes.  The eschatological  perspective. .. or as I like to remember this group, the “goth Christians”.  How many times must you get the end times wrong before you will realize there is no such think as end times?  Seriously.

                • Annie

                  Oopsie!  That’s ‘thing’, not ‘think’… but I imagine most of you can figure it out.

              • Keven

                 Dispensationalism, seriously? You mean that theological system of confusion that appear in the 1800, that was never taught before that. Suddenly after 1800 years of christian teaching, god reveal a new mystery. No wonder you can not think for yourself, the preachers and the acrobat apologist got you all mess up. Stop following, and start thinking!

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Dispensationalists do not reveal this view of the Bible as a new mystery just now being revealed so your premise is wrong. 

                • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                  Uh, no, it’s factually correct. That view of the Bible DID NOT EXIST FOR OVER 1800 YEARS. It’s necessarily a “new mystery.”

                • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                  Uh, no, it’s factually correct. That view of the Bible DID NOT EXIST FOR OVER 1800 YEARS. It’s necessarily a “new mystery.”

              • T-Rex

                Zeus thinks you’re delusional.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Either it was the word of God or it wasn’t.  If God can dictate all the things he does in Leviticus, he could have said “Thou shalt not keep slaves” and “Women are humans, not property”.  It doesn’t matter who invented any of this shit.  Someone came up with the idea of mixing crops and eating shrimp, and God said “Stop”.  Who he said “Stop” to is irrelevant.  Either we’re all God’s children, or we’ re not.  If we’re not, then who’s children are we?

            The proper way to interpret the Bible, even if you follow the teaching of Jesus Christ and call yourself a Christian is that the Bible is by and large the invention of men.  Plain and simple.  To do otherwise is to accept that God is a jealous,  petty, unjust, unforgiving, vindictive, bloodthirsty,  misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

            • Rwlawoffice

               Actually no, the bible is considered to divinely inspired and not the product of men.  Your description of  god does not comport with the description of Him in the bible. On the contrary he is just, loving, full of grace and mercy,  and patient.

              • Anonymous-Sam

                 Unless you worship another god, in which case, you must be utterly destroyed (Exodus 22:20) or stoned to death along with everyone you know  (Deuteronomy 13).

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                My head is going to explode if I try to continue.  There is such a MASSIVE disconnect between many parts of the Bible and ‘just, loving, full of grace, mercy, and patient’.  You can describe Him all you want.  The way he ACTS in many places is anything but those things.

                I’m sincerely sorry (and I’m careful to not toss out that word lightly) that you feel it’s an attack on Christian morals and ethics.  I had nothing to do with that sign, but I feel safe in saying that the intention is to attack the idea that the Bible is a work of divine inspiration.   I think to you your morals/ethics and the Bible are one and the same.  I think that’s like saying 1+1=3.  I’m not questioning or mocking YOUR morals in any way.  I’m confident you don’t condone slavery for example.  But your hold on the idea that every word of your books is divine means I end up hearing “1+1=3″.

                And I think when I say “That book is fucked up” you feel an attack on your morals.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Rich, I do base my morality on the Bible teaching and am not ashamed to say it. I understand what the Bible teaches how these verses fit into the context and the overall plan that God has for mankind.  However, I don’t think that you can honestly say that this billboard isn’t an attempt to say that Christianity promotes slavery. That is my objection. 

                • Guest

                  Considering that you claim to take the Bible literally and in context (although this is debatable), why not do the same for the billboard? The billboard is repeating a nasty Bible verse. That’s all.

                  Does it say that Christianity promotes slavery? No. It just repeats a Bible verse.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  When the billboard quotes the verse and then has a picture of a black slave then calls it bronze age ethics the point within the context is clear.

                • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                  Are you DISAGREEING that the Old Testament is a bronze age book?

                • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                  Are you DISAGREEING that the Old Testament is a bronze age book?

                • Keven

                   Wow, not ashamed to claim that your morality comes from the bible!

                  Where do you live, just to make sure my children don’t play around your house.

                  You are OK with killing, for example, 40 children by bears because they mock an old man loosing his hair?

                  You are OK with sacrificing young virgin on the alter as spoil of war.

                  You are OK with rape victim, force to marry their aggressor?

                  You are OK with god killing a king wife because she refuse to dance for his friends and was replace by a more willingly wife?

                  You are OK with god ordering to ripe open pregnant woman and kill the unborn with sword under acts of war.

                  You are OK with beatting up a slave as long he gets back up within the next three days.

                  You are OK with men aloud to have as many wife and concubine as they which both woman were not aloud to do the same.

                  You are OK with slaughter of innocent woman and children because god supposedly choose one group of people over the others.

                  Do you want me to continue?

                  If that is your moral, as you claim, you are a sick individual. Go get yourself check out, there is special places now for lunatic like you. And there is a cure, you just need to think .

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Keven, I am not ashamed to follow the teachings of the Bible, nor am I crazy for doing so. If you want to ignore the overall teachings of the Bible and God’s purpose and plan for mankind and then pick out isolated verses to condemn it then we are not playing on the same playing field. 

                • Pureone

                  Isolated verses were chosen because to list all of the immoral things god does and commands others to do would fill a book. Oh, wait….It seems you ignore the teachings you don’t like or find immoral. Plan? You mean to torture people for eternity?  Doesn’t sound loving or moral to me.

                • Anonymous-Sam

                   If you have to cherry-pick which parts of the Bible to ignore and which to take to heart, then why are you using the Bible as the basis of anything?

                  You could just as easily say that Hitler was an excellent role-model if you ignore that whole genocide thing and focus on his magnificent leadership skills. And when the Bible does advocate the mass-slaughter of people (Deuteronomy 13:12-18, along with Deuteronomy 13 in general), I feel like the two are very similar.

                  Make no mistake, the Bible does have some very nice things (1 John 4), but in order to find them, you have to willfully ignore things like Jacob and Esau — a story of a man who lied, cheated, scammed and murdered his way through life and was loved by God for it, while his brother (the victim of two of his worst scams) did nothing worse than marry outside the tribe and was hated by God for it.

                • Anonymous-Sam

                   If you have to cherry-pick which parts of the Bible to ignore and which to take to heart, then why are you using the Bible as the basis of anything?

                  You could just as easily say that Hitler was an excellent role-model if you ignore that whole genocide thing and focus on his magnificent leadership skills. And when the Bible does advocate the mass-slaughter of people (Deuteronomy 13:12-18, along with Deuteronomy 13 in general), I feel like the two are very similar.

                  Make no mistake, the Bible does have some very nice things (1 John 4), but in order to find them, you have to willfully ignore things like Jacob and Esau — a story of a man who lied, cheated, scammed and murdered his way through life and was loved by God for it, while his brother (the victim of two of his worst scams) did nothing worse than marry outside the tribe and was hated by God for it.

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MP3MRN7GL4WX2AUDUNLVYDTBDE Harlan

                  You just said that your morality is based on the Bible–as you interpret it to fit your morals. You’re contradicting yourself.

              • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel


                Actually no, the bible is considered to divinely inspired and not the product of men.”

                By YOU, you myopic nitwit. Your view of Christianity is NOT THE ONLY ONE.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MP3MRN7GL4WX2AUDUNLVYDTBDE Harlan

                Some kids made fun of the prophet Elisha–and God sent a couple of bears to eat them. Is that loving, full of grace and mercy, or patient?

                Was God loving, full of grace and mercy, and patient with Job?

                The Bible makes God out to be a very schizophrenic deity.

      • charvakan

        I think it is christians who are not getting the facts right and don’t understand the bible, and the reason why billboards like this are great.

         “It is also true that every seven years during the year of Jubilee, regardless of whether the debt was paid back, it was forgiven and all “slaves” were released.”

        Not true. Only “Jewish” ones had this privilege.

        “this verse, as with all other verses n the Bible should be interpreted in their literal, historical and grammatical context.”

        Care to explain why an omnipotent deity would do this and leave it open for wrong interpretations when he could have used is omnipotence to come up with something that everyone can interpret and understand correctly?

        • Rwlawoffice

          ” Care to explain why an omnipotent deity would do this and leave it open
          for wrong interpretations when he could have used is omnipotence to come
          up with something that everyone can interpret and understand correctly?”

          I was explaining a method of biblical interpretation. This is opposed to some who try to interpret the bible allegorically or out of context in order to support their own viewpoint. It is my opinion that if you interpret the bible in a literal, grammatical, and historical method, you get a correct interpretation of what the author intended.

          The fact that not all men will interpret the verse the same way says more about man then it does God.

          • TiltedHorizon

            “It is my opinion that if you interpret the bible in a literal,
            grammatical, and historical method, you get a correct interpretation of
            what the author intended.”

            That is certainly one viewpoint. I’ll throw it on the pile with all the others marked “Correct Interpretation”.  Give me a few minutes to take the elevator to the top of the pile and I’ll be back with to you with a receipt.

            • Demonhype

               Pretty typical, really.  Everyone says “there is only one correct way to interpret the bible, which is the way I am interpreting it, and everyone else is just wrong” and they say it without a hint of irony too.

          • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

             And yet knowing how all men would interpret the verses, including the knowledge that for many years they would be interpreted so as to permit slavery and murder, this omnipotent and omniscient God couldn’t think of less ambiguous way to deliver his message.

            • Demonhype

              Kind of like that Sunday Heroes Last Supper episode, where Matthew tries to get Jesus to just declare whether “this is my body/blood” is literal or metaphorical, pointing out that the question unanswered will lead to all sorts of evils and violence in the future, and Jesus just says “well, that’s not MY fault”….

              Would be a hell of a lot funnier if actual Christians didn’t try to pull that same crap IRL.

          • Anonymous-Sam

             If you interpret the bible in a literal, grammatical, historical method, you’ll still run into contradictions, like Genesis 8:13 and 8:14.

            13: By
            the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year,
            the water had dried up from the earth.

            14: By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

            • Rwlawoffice

              No contradiction at all.  One verse says the water had dried up from the earth and in the next the Earth was now completely dry. The water can be gone and Earth still be wet before it drys up. 

              • Annie

                Of course.  And no need to mention that Noah was 601 years old, as it was so very common at that time, right?

              • T-Rex

                Christian apologist anyone?

      • The Captain

        “So if you want to mock Christian ethics, at least get your facts correct”. This is funny coming from someone who got so much wrong.

        Where to start, yea the romans and greeks had slaves, no one likes them for that. So thats a straw man argument, there. 

        But here is the one I really like “It is true that “slavery” in the Jewish tradition was voluntary” no it wasn’t! Lie for Jesus much, or just never read your book? “And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master…. Ex.21:7-8″ Seems the daughter didn’t have much choice in her slavery there. 
        And here it tells of how a child born into slavery is still a slave, “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever. Lev.25:44-46″ Not really voluntary for them is it?

        Also what is the difference between forcing someone into slavery by the sword, or by the threat of starvation. Both are not really “voluntary” now are they?

        You say, “It is also true that every seven years during the year of Jubilee, regardless of whether the debt was paid back, it was forgiven and all “slaves” were released” but guess what else you leave out? Your little wonderful book tells you how to get around that, “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. Ex.21:2-6″ So don’t act like the slaves where all set free in seven years when your damn holly book tell you how not to do that by holding their family hostage.

        And I don’t have time to go into how churches where late to the whole free slaves party here in the US. But the simple fact is you just went through a lot of trouble to come up with excuses on why that supposed “higher being” you worship supported slavery for any reason!

        • Rwlawoffice

           If you would like to get into a discussion of biblical verses regarding slavery i would be happy to do so.  But it doesn’t change my comments about the culture of the times. The Bible and the Mosaic law regulated the practice of slavery which at the time was far different then the racial slavery engaged in in this country in the 1700 and 1800′s which is what makes the billboard misleading, but of course being accurate is not the point.

          If you would like to look at other passages regarding slavery you can look at Exodus 21:16  which prohibited involuntary slavery, the punishment was death.  this appears to apply to both Hebrews and non Hebrews alike, so even the verses in Lev. doesn’t necessarily mean that the foreign slaves were against their will.

          Or Judges 3 which shows that daughters who were sold into slavery were really considered wives and were treated as such. Additionally, Ex. 21:8 prevents a father from selling his daughter to a foreigner where she would not be provided the rights afforded to her under the Mosaic law.

          And I am still waiting for the answer to my question of an atheist based culture which has a more moral society, particularity in the ancient world at the time the bible was written.

          • The Captain

            “Or Judges 3 which shows that daughters who were sold into slavery were really considered wives and were treated as such” Considered by who? Them? Just because sleazy men could sell their kids to other sleazy men and call them “wive” doesn’t mean they are? Now that’s splitting some hairs! Hell, by your definitions of what things are I guess China really is a “republic”, I mean they consider themselves one right?

            Also, your asking a loaded question, there where no “atheist based cultures” in the iron age because you theist killed anyone who didn’t follow your invisible friend. Rome and Greece where not “atheist” since both where really multicultural societies with a wide variety of religions practiced in them. But even then, sure Rome had gladiator games… but they also had aqueducts, so I’d say even that was better than the barbarians you think are so great.

            Also you have a lot of “buts” and excuses to explain why that higher being you worship had no problem with slavery. So once again, I as a mere atheist human, have a much better moral compass than that thing you worship.

          • TiltedHorizon

             Or Judges 3 which shows that daughters who were sold into slavery were really considered wives and were treated as such.

            In the original Hebrew there is no word for ‘Wife’, only ‘Woman’. The raw translation from Hebrew is:

            “and they are taking daughters of them to them to woman”

            In context, the woman is womb-container and handmaid (“slave”) and treated as such.

             

          • Anonymous

             Dear Mr Lawoffice,

            You just defended the institution of slavery as it is outlined in the bible.  You did it seriously, without irony, and presented your defense with a tone of moral superiority.

            Because you did this, I really don’t have to answer any of your concerns that there weren’t atheistic antislavery ancient cultures.

            Seriously, you live in the post-enlightenment, modern world.  And yet, because there wasn’t an ancient tribe of atheists who hated slavery, you feel justified in defending the institution of slavery as it was practiced.

            Not cool.

            I’m not going to ask you to be ashamed of yourself, I’m just going to feel some shame on your behalf. 

            • Rwlawoffice

              Whether you look to an ancient atheist culture or an ancient pagan culture, my question remains, show me a culture that was more moral then the Jewish culture at the time the Bible was written. I am not justifying slavery by any stretch. What I am saying is that the context of these verses are different then is being portrayed and the attempt to portrary Christianity as a supporter of slavery is intentionally wrong.

              • Keven

                 Wrong! KKK was a christian institution, The south who support slavery were christian,

                • Rwlawoffice

                  And Marx was an atheist. So what is your point.

                • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                  Atheists don’t claim to have an absolute, perfect morality. Christians do. And yet the mostly Christian South was the center of slavery in America. Clearly, being Christian has nothing to do with being moral.

                • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                  Atheists don’t claim to have an absolute, perfect morality. Christians do. And yet the mostly Christian South was the center of slavery in America. Clearly, being Christian has nothing to do with being moral.

                • The Captain

                  Marx was against slavery! What is your point?!

          • Neil

            Here’s an answer to your question.   

            First though, even thought you are making a huge deal out of biblical “context” (even when the plain meaning is clear, and clearly leads to abuses of people against their will…even better, if they are women or foreigners, their will is never even taken into consideration) your question is disingenuous- because you allow for no context yourself, regarding the complex evolution of modern secular morality.   There is no “atheist based culture” in any large sense, and what there is has evolved from many forms, including mostly religious ones.  In biblical times, there were no atheist cultures at all, it is a relatively recent thing and you know this. At best, some governments/cultures allowed people to believe whatever they wished, so long as it did not upset things too much.  This tolerance didn’t generally last very long, especially if non-religion started to spread and undermine religious authority.

            Funny thing…religionists like to point to Soviet Russia and China as examples of how horrible it is to let atheists control anything…never taking into account, of course, just how bad it was beforehand, or what other values were part of the culture before atheism became widespread.  Yet strangely, even in these repressive cultures, it was and is still possible to be openly religious.  On this score, atheistic societies have fared no worse, and mostly better, than religious ones.  The absolute numbers of dead or tortured may be smaller in older, biblical cultures, but percentages of population and the absolute nature of religious vs secular rules tell another story.  But I digress.

            So my answer to your dishonest, lopsided, and totally bereft of perspective and “context” question:  What “atheist based culture” has a more moral society than religious ones?” 

            Two-part answer:  

            1.To be honest, looking at  the evidence, it’s pretty much a wash historically, since all “atheist” cultures have evolved from religious ones, and haven’t had much time to differentiate.  I doubt living in red china or soviet russia was any worse for the poor, minorities, women, or any other persecuted group than living in biblical Judea, or early Puritan America, or poor catholic countries now.  Oppression is oppression, no matter what god or government creates it, and older religious societies show no evidence of having been more tolerant or moral than modern totalitarian states.  

            2.  Modern western secular society is in all ways superior to one fully based on any religious ideals.  It is not “atheism-based” (again, a context-free and dishonest way of putting it), but it is “atheist compatible”- completely able to be tolerated, celebrated, and even run by atheists, which is probably the closest anyone wants or needs.  There is no dogma, but only experience and debate.  We all have a chance to participate.  And moral progress, including equal rights for all, the reduction of physical suffering, violence, and oppression, has been on a high-speed train compared to the religious inflexibilty that came before.  The morals and ethics that I learned from my secular parents, secular schools, and my own experience, is far superior to anything in your stupid shitty slave-book.  Also, it’s only getting better by the decade, it takes a REAL honest committment to keep up with, and allows for people that you don’t like to thrive if they can.  I believe this annoys you (and many religionists) and I relish that.  The fact that I take pleasure in annoying you, rather than killing you, is just another proof of how much things have already changed for the better. 

            Now, I suppose you will try to give religion or christianity all the credit for modern secularism, even though there is little resemblance left, even though secularism is directly against the spirit and letter of most religious teachings, and even though most of the moral progress has come from relaxing religious control and simply letting people be as they wish to be.       

            • Rwlawoffice

              Neil, there are so many false assumptions in your response that I really don’t know where to start.  First, the context is very important and helps you “understand” what you think is clear. If you understand from the historical context that a “slave” was a voluntary relationship then it really wasn’t against their will and in an effort to regulate these relationships rules were established to protect the slave. A comparison would be in the Babylonian society where under the Hammurabi code owners could kill and maim their slaves without consequences.

              And like it or not Neil, your so called secular morals are and have been greatly influenced growing up in a Christian western culture.

              As for atheist controlled cultures, your attempt to whitewash the cultures that have been the latest attempt to take Christianity out of a culture, Russia and China is bold, but hardly accurate.  To equate over 60 million deaths, forced abortions, massive imprisonments, total subjugation of women, total dehumanization of  their citizens with Christianity and say they are equally moral is just sad and clearly disingenuous. 

              So I am curious what this secular morality is that you think is so great and not previously influenced by Christianity?

              • Neil

                Man, you are one dedicated liar. 

                 I did not try to whitewash modern oppressive totalitarian staes, I simply pointed out that it was no harder for a minority or “hereitc” to live in one than it was to live in any biblically-inspired state.  Banishment, torture, slavery, loss of property, and execution have been common punishments in religious societies for outsiders and non-believers and anyone who didn’t feel like worshipping the god of the day.  It’s in the book, and it was practiced, and still is in some religious societies to this very day.  How is that any different than what china and russia did?  You mention the absolute numbers involved as if that makes a difference to the victims.  Do you really think that if the populations and technologies had been comparable in  earlier times, that the numbers would still be all that much in your favor?  I think it’s more likely that there would be less religious diversity in the world, as they tend to compete very violently. 

                I never said that context wasn’t important, simply that context, (espercially when provided as a later justification) is not the whole story when the words are clear, and have been interpreted as such for millenia.  You are the one doing the whitewashing, and it is truly disgusting.  The jewish god (or those pretending to speak for him, in reality) ordered and glorified a hell of a lot of violence and oppression, all for the sake of propsperity and political power for the humans in chrage.  Much like some christians (and muslims) today all around the world. (that’s SOME, not ALL, so don’t bother lying about what I said).  That is not a human failing or a bug, it is a built-in feature of all human-created religions, which is ALL of them.

                I also clearly acknowledged that modern secular states evolved from earlier religious societies, and that it was pretty much impossible for it to be otherwise.  How, exactly, is that denying the influence of christianity? 

                You’re a liar, that’s how! 

                Of course christianity had an influence on modern secular society.  So have other religions, cultures, philosophies, and ideals.  Personally, I give christianity, and to a lesser extent judaism and some eastern religions a lot of credit for a very few good ideas.  The only chrisitian morals that I value are the social mechanism for forgiveness, the emphasis on compassion, and the discouragemnet of greed and excessive pride.  Of course, if you were honest, you would note that many, many different religions and secular philosophies have stressed these values as well, before and since the beginning of christianity.  Christianity holds absolutely no monopoly on good behavior, at all.  What modern secularism has done is allowed rational human beings to take the best bits of christianity (and other systems), while weeding out some of the tribal, groupthink “faith” elements that make oppression of non-believers inevitable in purely religious societies.  And a job well done, in my opinion. 

                Also, please quit spreading the disgusting lie that all biblical slavery was a voluntary financial agreement.  It’s a lie, it’s stupid, nobody here is stupid enough to believe it, and in closed tribal societies with massive inequities and no personal rights for citizens, it wouldn’t even matter anyway.  The choice between slavery, starvation, or lifelong indebtedness in such an economy is no choice at all.  It’s just slavery.  Own it.  You know these things, yet you lie anyway, and it’s disgusting.   Not a very compelling example of christian morals, but a great example of the double-standards and justifications of behavior that all humans participate in, and that religions hide and justify so well. 

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Neil, you said in your first post that you learned more from secularism then you did from the Bible then you agreed that these secular beliefs were influenced by Christianity. I’m afraid you can’t  have it both ways.

                  You may not like the idea of what slavery was like at the time of the Bible but that doesn’t change the fact.  If you have a cite that says otherwise I would be glad to look at it.

                  I agree that some of the principles of Christianity are taught in other religions to some degree.  I also agree that a person who is an atheists can certainly be moral. It is also true that some horrible things have been done in the name of Christianity. However none of this devalues the teachings of Christianity.  Just as I am sure you would say the actions of Stalin don’t dismiss the benefits of a secular society.

                  Finally, your perceived justification for the wars by ancient Israel is shortsighted.

                • a_toaster_lover

                  Secular society does not deify Stalin, nor do they think he is the creator of the Universe, nor do they believe in the slightest that his written word is infallible. This argument is invalid. Christianity devalues the teachings of Christianity. The bible devalues itself. Yet it is purported to be the Holy Written word of God the creator of the Universe and “all that in them is”.

                • a_toaster_lover

                  Secular society does not deify Stalin, nor do they think he is the creator of the Universe, nor do they believe in the slightest that his written word is infallible. This argument is invalid. Christianity devalues the teachings of Christianity. The bible devalues itself. Yet it is purported to be the Holy Written word of God the creator of the Universe and “all that in them is”.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Neil, you said in your first post that you learned more from secularism then you did from the Bible then you agreed that these secular beliefs were influenced by Christianity. I’m afraid you can’t  have it both ways.

                  You may not like the idea of what slavery was like at the time of the Bible but that doesn’t change the fact.  If you have a cite that says otherwise I would be glad to look at it.

                  I agree that some of the principles of Christianity are taught in other religions to some degree.  I also agree that a person who is an atheists can certainly be moral. It is also true that some horrible things have been done in the name of Christianity. However none of this devalues the teachings of Christianity.  Just as I am sure you would say the actions of Stalin don’t dismiss the benefits of a secular society.

                  Finally, your perceived justification for the wars by ancient Israel is shortsighted.

              • Neil

                Man, you are one dedicated liar. 

                 I did not try to whitewash modern oppressive totalitarian staes, I simply pointed out that it was no harder for a minority or “hereitc” to live in one than it was to live in any biblically-inspired state.  Banishment, torture, slavery, loss of property, and execution have been common punishments in religious societies for outsiders and non-believers and anyone who didn’t feel like worshipping the god of the day.  It’s in the book, and it was practiced, and still is in some religious societies to this very day.  How is that any different than what china and russia did?  You mention the absolute numbers involved as if that makes a difference to the victims.  Do you really think that if the populations and technologies had been comparable in  earlier times, that the numbers would still be all that much in your favor?  I think it’s more likely that there would be less religious diversity in the world, as they tend to compete very violently. 

                I never said that context wasn’t important, simply that context, (espercially when provided as a later justification) is not the whole story when the words are clear, and have been interpreted as such for millenia.  You are the one doing the whitewashing, and it is truly disgusting.  The jewish god (or those pretending to speak for him, in reality) ordered and glorified a hell of a lot of violence and oppression, all for the sake of propsperity and political power for the humans in chrage.  Much like some christians (and muslims) today all around the world. (that’s SOME, not ALL, so don’t bother lying about what I said).  That is not a human failing or a bug, it is a built-in feature of all human-created religions, which is ALL of them.

                I also clearly acknowledged that modern secular states evolved from earlier religious societies, and that it was pretty much impossible for it to be otherwise.  How, exactly, is that denying the influence of christianity? 

                You’re a liar, that’s how! 

                Of course christianity had an influence on modern secular society.  So have other religions, cultures, philosophies, and ideals.  Personally, I give christianity, and to a lesser extent judaism and some eastern religions a lot of credit for a very few good ideas.  The only chrisitian morals that I value are the social mechanism for forgiveness, the emphasis on compassion, and the discouragemnet of greed and excessive pride.  Of course, if you were honest, you would note that many, many different religions and secular philosophies have stressed these values as well, before and since the beginning of christianity.  Christianity holds absolutely no monopoly on good behavior, at all.  What modern secularism has done is allowed rational human beings to take the best bits of christianity (and other systems), while weeding out some of the tribal, groupthink “faith” elements that make oppression of non-believers inevitable in purely religious societies.  And a job well done, in my opinion. 

                Also, please quit spreading the disgusting lie that all biblical slavery was a voluntary financial agreement.  It’s a lie, it’s stupid, nobody here is stupid enough to believe it, and in closed tribal societies with massive inequities and no personal rights for citizens, it wouldn’t even matter anyway.  The choice between slavery, starvation, or lifelong indebtedness in such an economy is no choice at all.  It’s just slavery.  Own it.  You know these things, yet you lie anyway, and it’s disgusting.   Not a very compelling example of christian morals, but a great example of the double-standards and justifications of behavior that all humans participate in, and that religions hide and justify so well. 

              • Woden

                 You keep insisting that Jewish slavery was voluntary, but the only evidence that you have shown is a single passage saying that kidnapping is punishable by death (and despite your insistence, I haven’t seen anything suggesting that it applied outside of the kidnapping of Jews). Given that there are passages explicitly mentioning the sale of daughters into slavery, and the taking of women as slaves after war, and how children of slaves automatically become slaves themselves, your argument is, at best, misguided and incorrect, and at worst, an outright lie.

                • Woden

                   Also, you have been saying that the Jubilee was every seven years, but Leviticus 25:8-12 says it is once every 50 years.

          • a_toaster_lover

            “Or Judges 3 which shows that daughters who were sold into slavery were really considered wives and were treated as such”

            Your delusion is deep and confounding. To make such a clear distinction between wives, daughters and slaves is not supported by the Bible. Women were male property, with the distinctions in their status apart from slavery being negligible.

            “The Bible and the Mosaic law regulated the practice of slavery which at
            the time was far different then the racial slavery engaged in in this
            country in the 1700 and 1800′s”

            I would really like it if you could provide clear proof on how THAT form of slavery was different from THIS form of slavery, with such a distinction as being “FAR DIFFERENT”.  If that SLAVERY was  so radically different as you claim, there should be indisputable proof that the Biblical endorsement of slavery was morally desirable.

            I shall suspend my deep rooted belief, that there is NO DEFENSIBLE FORM OF SLAVERY, just for the sake of argument.

          • a_toaster_lover

            “Or Judges 3 which shows that daughters who were sold into slavery were really considered wives and were treated as such”

            Your delusion is deep and confounding. To make such a clear distinction between wives, daughters and slaves is not supported by the Bible. Women were male property, with the distinctions in their status apart from slavery being negligible.

            “The Bible and the Mosaic law regulated the practice of slavery which at
            the time was far different then the racial slavery engaged in in this
            country in the 1700 and 1800′s”

            I would really like it if you could provide clear proof on how THAT form of slavery was different from THIS form of slavery, with such a distinction as being “FAR DIFFERENT”.  If that SLAVERY was  so radically different as you claim, there should be indisputable proof that the Biblical endorsement of slavery was morally desirable.

            I shall suspend my deep rooted belief, that there is NO DEFENSIBLE FORM OF SLAVERY, just for the sake of argument.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Exodus 21:4

            If his master gives [his slave/indentured servent] a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

            Where did this wife come from?  Where is her free will in this transaction?  Where is the offsprings’ free will?

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Exodus 21:4

            If his master gives [his slave/indentured servent] a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

            Where did this wife come from?  Where is her free will in this transaction?  Where is the offsprings’ free will?

      • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

        “Teh bible is good because it didn’t put an end to all the shit that started before it, and because people keep misinterpreting it.”

        That’s one incisive argument – I’m going to have to remember that one.

      • Poolio

        The Romans and Greeks practicing slavery doesn’t create a moral dilemma for us though.  It was wrong, yes, but they were ordinary imperfect people subject to their culture and part of an evolving morality that has certainly grown more humane over time.

        The problem arises when a perfect and unchanging god condones slavery and gives specific instructions on how it should be practiced.  When people do it you can admit that they were wrong.  When God does it you don’t allow yourself that option.

        Leviticus 25 is awesome.

      • TiltedHorizon

         “When that is done you do get a better interpretation of the verse. ”

        An interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation. If everyone agreed on them we would not have 180+ distinct churches in the US,

        “Of course, neither the Jewish nation, nor Christians invented slavery.”

        Of course that did not stop Christians from participating for 18 centuries before the secular concept of freedom took hold. And “yes”, it is a secular concept. Since slavery was a divinely sanctioned by the bible it means the idea to challenge slavery came from secular conscience.

        “So if you want to mock Christian ethics…”

        Every time a Christian attempts to put a spin on ethics as you just did with comments like: “Christian groups were the ones that led to the end to slavery in this country”. You essentially mock yourselves.  You tell the story as if SuperChristian Man flew in a saved the day against a faceless enemy. When the reality is the role of ‘enemy’ was also played by Christianity.

        • Annie

          Well said!  I like the writing style too: informative, factual, and with a side of snark.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        We’re not mocking Christian ethics.  We’re mocking the Bible, and the notion that the Bible is the result of diving inspiration.  Remember our previous discussion on church/state?  This is an example.  If you get your direction from the divine, you open yourself to stuff you can’t disagree with.  God said it, that settles it.  Right?

        • Rwlawoffice

           The billboard is expressly mocking Christian morality. And it does so in a incorrect and deceptive manner.

          • Reginald Jooald

            If Christians believe that slavery is justified so long as their deity tells them it’s justified (even if they believe their deity has told them that it’s not justified currently), then that’s worth mocking. There’s no deception happening at all; this is, in fact, a real excerpt from their holy book.

            • Anonymous

              If Christians believe that slavery is justified so long as their deity tells them it’s justified (even if they believe their deity has told them that it’s not justified currently), then that’s worth mocking.

              Bingo.

            • Rwlawoffice

              Christians do not believe slavery is justified if they are following the teachings of Christ. Where does this verse say that slavery is justified? Jesus came to change the heart of men which is greater then simply saying that slavery is wrong. For example, for over a hundred years after slavery was outlawed racism was still rampant and still is. If you want to see the whole context of this verse read Col 3:5 and forward.  

          • Keven

             The bible is expressly mocking morality. And it does so in a incorrect and deceptive manner.

      • Anonymous

        Context. You mean the way Christians constantly take quotes about evolution out of context?

        And, so different context, different ethics? Different situation, different ethics? 

        I thought if God said something was right, then it was always right; if God said something was wrong, then it was always wrong. Why would a all powerful, all knowing being have to change its mind? How could that being be wrong?

        • Rwlawoffice

           God has not changed. The way he has intervened in humanity has been different in different times. It is called dispensations.  There are about seven of them in the Bible and the responsibility of humans is different at different times. During our current time, we are operating under the dispensation of the church or grace as it is sometimes called and the Mosiac law does not apply to the church.

          • Reginald Jooald

            Dispensations are an extrabiblicar invention used in part to rationalize the horrifying nature of the deity of the Bible. They don’t change that the deity was, at some point in history, an amoral thing, and you’re implying that even its more 
            amoral instructions ought to be followed blindly.

          • Wintermute

             Wow, that totally sounds like a logical and reasonable argument, and not at all a desperate attempt to explain away the fact that there’s basically no clear evidence of god acting in the world today.

            • http://profile.yahoo.com/O6I2J4NCTTOHLHVWOOZNFOKB2Y John Spraggs

              “today”, as opposed to the past? It might seem that the age of miracles has come to an end. However, that’s not because there ever were people rising from the dead or madmen being cured by the casting out of demons.

              In centuries past, liars just had an easier time of convincing people that a miracle had happened.

          • Dave

             So the ten commandments don’t apply?

            • Rwlawoffice

              The message behind the ten commandments apply in a life based upon the grace of Christ. Following the legalism of the law has been lifted in the church age. That what Christ means when he said he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The law and following it was never a way to righteousness but was a way to see what was a sin. 

              • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                Jesus didn’t say he fulfilled the law. At all. He said he came to fulfill them – and he never said he did. You might want to re-read Matthew 5:18:

                For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

                Have heaven and earth passed away? No? THEN THE LAW STILL APPLIES.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Mike you are smarter then that.  This verse comes from the sermon on the mount. Jesus fulfilled the law by his very existence and how who he was. He is calling people to have a righteousness beyond the letter of the law and to the spirit of the law. For example, there would be no need for a law against murder of all people had the spirit that they would do no violence to their fellow man.

                   

              • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

                Jesus didn’t say he fulfilled the law. At all. He said he came to fulfill them – and he never said he did. You might want to re-read Matthew 5:18:

                For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

                Have heaven and earth passed away? No? THEN THE LAW STILL APPLIES.

              • a_toaster_lover

                 Why did God (a Perfect infinite being)have to change his mind about what was the way to righteousness? Or WAS IT….humans had to change their mind and then henceforth kept revising the requirements, at least until they stopped revising the requirements some 2000 years ago?

                • Rwlawoffice

                  neither

              • a_toaster_lover

                 Why did God (a Perfect infinite being)have to change his mind about what was the way to righteousness? Or WAS IT….humans had to change their mind and then henceforth kept revising the requirements, at least until they stopped revising the requirements some 2000 years ago?

          • Dave

             So the ten commandments don’t apply?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/O6I2J4NCTTOHLHVWOOZNFOKB2Y John Spraggs

            Can a non-existent entity change? It has no properties at all except perhaps those used to describe it. 

            Naturally the descriptions will change from time to time and place to place. Whatever suits the imagination and ambitions of the writers is what gets written or re-interpreted.

      • Edmond

        If “slavery” in these ancient times actually refers a voluntary system of repaying debts, then why does the bible give instructions on how hard to BEAT one’s slaves?  Is it normal to include violent outbursts as part of a repayment system?  Wouldn’t it have been more “moral” for god to instruct “masters” to REFRAIN from violence against their “slaves” at all?

        It’s very odd to consider all the opportunities that the bible had to advise of BETTER morality than it actually chose to advise.  Humans COULD have been told NEVER to own other humans, but that didn’t happen.  We COULD have been instructed to never commit violence against our debtors, but we weren’t.  The bible COULD have told people not to have sex with children, but it doesn’t.  The bible COULD have said that gay people should be left alone, but instead it says that they should be put to death.

        So many chances to say the RIGHT thing, and yet the bible drops the ball so often.  Instead, we are given vague passages that are poorly translated, so the word “slave” no longer means “slave”.  We are told that even though it’s “sad” that some Christians once used the bible to justify slavery, the bible’s not to blame because some OTHER Christians used it to justify a completely opposite point of view.  Maybe the bible is just a little TOO personally customizable by anyone who reads it.

        There’s no such thing as an “atheist based” moral system, atheism doesn’t describe or call for one.  But a SECULAR based system is FAR more superior to a religious one, as it ignores “divine commands” and focuses on what is truly fair for all people.  Our criminal justice system is a great example, operating far better than the barbaric bible-based ones.

        • Rwlawoffice

           Actually what this verse does is give slaves and servants rights that are equal to free citizens.  This was a code of law, like a penal code. By holding masters accountable for how they treated their slaves, the slaves were given rights they didn’t have before.

          If you compare our recent criminal code it is based in a large part on the laws as outlined in the Bible which itself is a great departure from other laws and codes of the ancient middle east.

          “The bible COULD have told people not to have sex with children, but it doesn’t.”

          Where does the Bible say this?

          The ten commandments outline commandments that include no physical harm, no stealing, no coveting and no adultery. The laws given to regulate the Israelites as they grew into a nation are not in contradiction of these commandments. 

          As far as “gay people need to be put to death” the bible also says that those that commit adultery should be put to death, people who engage in bestiality were put to death, people who commit murder were put to death.  You may not like the sexual moral laws in the Bible but they weren’t directed just to homosexuals.

          • Edmond

            NOBODY seems to like them, as they aren’t practiced anymore.  Seems strange that ANY of these so-called “moral” laws would actually call for someone’s DEATH, and then one of the Ten Commandments says NOT to kill people.  Which is it?  It’s a bit schizophrenic.

            “Where does the Bible say this?”

            The bible DOESN’T say anything about the age of consent, that’s my point.  So many theists these days like to pontificate about the horrors of child abuse and child rape, and yet the bible doesn’t outline this as a “sin”.  In appeals against marriage-equality for homosexuals, theists will often go to the “slippery slope” argument, worried that marriages to children will be next.  So if that’s a worry of theists, what age does the bible say is too young to marry?  It DOESN’T.  It COULD have, but it DOESN’T.

            Like so many other things, it had a golden opportunity to put an end to such practices in no uncertain terms, but it fails to do so.  If slaves and servants had the same rights as free citizens, they should be protected from ALL violence from their masters.  The bible shouldn’t give sneaky ways to brutalize them “a little” and get away with it.

            But I don’t see that our criminal code is based on the bible at all.  We don’t punish people for the pointless “crimes” outlined in Leviticus.  We’ve only codified TWO of the Ten Commandments into law, those against killing and stealing.  The rest are not part of our laws.

            We also don’t punish people the way that god is described to.  We only punish the criminal, not an innocent man to absolve the guilty.  We don’t hold children to blame for the crimes of their parents or ancestors.  And our punishments FIT the crimes, with small crimes earning small punishments.  We don’t sentence people to INFINITE torture, for crimes as petty as following the wrong religion or none at all.

            The bible is not a basis for our modern society.  The “morals” of the bible have been ABANDONED because they are BARBARIC, not moral.

            The fact is, like those Christians of old who used the bible on both sides of the slavery issue, the bible can be interpreted any way one likes.  It can be used to support ANY position, for or against any atrocity.  This makes it inadequate for moral guidance.  It can guide ANY “morality”.  It is the ultimate exercise in pandering, appealing to anyone who reads it as “on their side”.

            • Rwlawoffice

              Actually the supreme court of Indiana  noted the following:

              Virtually all criminal laws are in one way or another
              the progeny of Judeo-Christian ethics. We have no intention to overrule
              the Ten Commandments.

              Your contention that the world is getting less barbaric because it is abandoning the morals of the Bible is only based upon what you consider moral. It is not based upon any objective standard and it flies in the face of reality.  If you look at the overall landscape of the last century and can claim that mankind is getting kinder towards each other then you can only do so by picking out isolated instances and isolated causes. The overall progression is negative. I would argue that the move away from Biblical morality that values all human life and teaches the virtues outlined in the remainder of Col. 3 and elsewhere has been a detriment to society. 

              As for your contention that the Bible can be interpreted anyway one wants and thus is no basis for morality, if that is your reason for rejecting it I would contend that this is true of any other standard you want to put forth. For example, if your standard is that morality should be based upon what brings happiness like Sam Harris contends, I could argue on both sides of the issue of homosexuality.

              Finally, just because the Bible doesn’t outline an age of consent you argue that it condones child rape.  Talk about a stretch. The Bible teaches that sex is between a husband and a wife.  If man in his society says that marriage can take place with a young child then that is a problem with man and not the Bible. Your argument is that if the Bible doesn’t expressly prohibit it then its a free for all and that is not the case.
               

              • Neil

                Rwlawoffice says:  “Your contention that the world is getting less barbaric because it is abandoning the morals of the Bible is only based upon what you consider moral. It is not based upon any objective standard and it flies in the face of reality. If you look at the overall landscape of the last century and can claim that mankind is getting kinder towards each other then you can only do so by picking out isolated instances and isolated causes. The overall progression is negative. I would argue that the move away from Biblical morality that values all human life and teaches the virtues outlined in the remainder of Col. 3 and elsewhere has been a detriment to society.”

                And there it is, folks.  The completely baseless fear of the modern world, with the oft-heard refrain that the whole world is just going to hell in a handbasket, and we need that Old Time Religion to set things right….even though things were never, ever set right in the first place.  Unreasoning fear ( and the implied superiority of his religion), couched in baseless assertions and lies.  Even though humans, especially in western society, are less likely than ever to die in a war or by murder, even though tolerance between groups has been growing steadily, even though most people live much longer and in much better circumstances, even though life-saving help with food and shelter is more available than ever to those who need it, even though large numbers of citizens are becoming aware of the abuses our privilege encourages on other countires….we’re supposed to believe that the world is crumbling into chaos and that lack of religion is the cause.  Unlike many Americans, I listened to my grandparents when I was young.  My half-native american grandfather could tell you all about how wonderful the world was when everyone went to a good christian church.  He could tell you about being beaten by good christian men for taking “white” jobs.  He could tell you about how those from the reservation were treated in christian society.  He could tell you all about the “strange fruit” hanging from the trees in good christian towns, and how nobody even complained.  He was smart enough to know that we were progressing, and he was smart enough to never wish for those good old days. 

                You see, Rwlawoffice, most of us are smart enough, and brave enough without any god at all, to never, ever want to go back to the days of unbounded godly tyranny, religious mental slavery,  and divinely inspired oppression.  Thanks, but no thanks!

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Neil you could have written that same sentence in the 1800′s when people thought that science and reason was leading us to a new utopia.  This of course was followed by the most violent century in our history. And if you would look at the world not just from an American point of view where things are clearly much improved due to our prosperity, you would see that in fact the world is not as pollyanna as you portray. The fact that the plight of those outside of our country is improving is in large part due to the work of religious people, Christian or otherwise. The only history we have to look at for the effects of an attempt to set up a purely secular society is not pretty.

                  I agree that the racial discrimination suffered by your grandfather and others was reprehensible and terrible. Just as I agree that any extreme in religion or otherwise leads to abuse. For example, look at the French revolution and what can happen in a secular society based upon “reason” and how barbaric that turned out to be. The truth is that as long as men look to men to solve anything we will keep getting the same result. That is why I believe that the answer is elsewhere and supernatural.

                  I have enjoyed our conversation and I am sure we will do it again.

                • Neil

                  Thank you, I have enjoyed it as well.  I have to admit, I don’t feel you’ve really countered much, if any, of what I’ve said, and seem to have felt free to ignore that all important context when it suited your viewpoint. 

                  You bring up the French Revolution and Reign of Terror as a worthy example of the acions of a secular state….rank dishonesty.  What of the context?  A hundred years and more of some of the worst abuses of monarchs (and an extremely powerful and complicit christian church, of course) The highest estimte I’ve seen of the body count is 40,00 or less over years.  I wonder how many were killed, imprisoned, tortured, or driven to early graves by the monarchy previously?  How bad are we supposed to feel about tyrants and their supporters being cast down, especially since the new tyrant ultimately failed?  And how do the French feel about their modern secular government now?  The main complaints I hear today come from catholics wishing for more religious influence, and immigrant muslims wanting to have their own code of law.  Most of the people seem to be doing alright without divinely ordained monarchs and politically powerful clergy.

                  And to be honest, your smug dismissal of human progress galls me.  I never tried to paint a pollyanna world, but please fell free to show me how any modern western nation’s population is doing worse than a hundred or two hundred years ago.  In fact, this bounty has even improved the lives of many in less developed countries.  Even theocracies like Iran have millions of modern citizens, tiring of their tyrannical theocracy.   The only downturns that I perceive in western secualr nations are more recent…in the last few decades, religious groups are once again on the march to illegitimately rule the lives of others, especially women.  We are finally coming into a time when a large and growing minority, soon to be a majority, sees at least the value of secularism, and wishes for no more theocracy.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

                  Lastly, I have never once dismissed the value of christians doing good works for the poor, and partaking in movements for equality and freedom.  Notice, however, that every last socially progressive movement that christians have paticipated in, has been a cause long championed by the secular and freethinking minorities.  Abolitionism, women’s rights, freedom of religion….the fact that a majority of the populace, and thus by definition the activists, were christians, does not erase the long standing, often previous contributions of the secularists, and does not claim these victories for Jesus alone.  To imply otherwise, as you have, is again dishonest.  Also, many if not most of the “good works” (at least, the substantial and culturally important ones) have been done by relatively liberal christians who wanted theocracy no more than I do, and who were willing to work cheerfully with non-christians.  Good on them, but it doesn’t make their religion true, and it doesn’t make invisible the contributions of non-christians.

                  Thanks for the conversation, and I look forward to the next!

                • a_toaster_lover

                   To add to that, as Hitchens says (paraphrasing): Nothing that is good is done by a person of faith that cannot be done by a non-believer.

                • a_toaster_lover

                   To add to that, as Hitchens says (paraphrasing): Nothing that is good is done by a person of faith that cannot be done by a non-believer.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Neil you could have written that same sentence in the 1800′s when people thought that science and reason was leading us to a new utopia.  This of course was followed by the most violent century in our history. And if you would look at the world not just from an American point of view where things are clearly much improved due to our prosperity, you would see that in fact the world is not as pollyanna as you portray. The fact that the plight of those outside of our country is improving is in large part due to the work of religious people, Christian or otherwise. The only history we have to look at for the effects of an attempt to set up a purely secular society is not pretty.

                  I agree that the racial discrimination suffered by your grandfather and others was reprehensible and terrible. Just as I agree that any extreme in religion or otherwise leads to abuse. For example, look at the French revolution and what can happen in a secular society based upon “reason” and how barbaric that turned out to be. The truth is that as long as men look to men to solve anything we will keep getting the same result. That is why I believe that the answer is elsewhere and supernatural.

                  I have enjoyed our conversation and I am sure we will do it again.

            • NickDB

              ” Like so many other things, it had a golden opportunity to put an end to
              such practices in no uncertain terms, but it fails to do so.”

              You’d of thought that a all powerful, all knowing being such as god would of thought of things like that, wouldn’t you.

      • Anonymous

         Only Jews got the deal you refer to, none jews were taken as slaves in battle on the command of god many times in the bible and had no release. Before you go look up and see if what I say is true ask yourself “if that is true will I repudiate this despicable immoral text, or will I seek to figure out how what I rejected as not possibly true due to it being so loathsome is somehow okay because i just found out it is true”. Be true to yourself as someone who seeks positive morals.

    • Matto the Hun

      “Well, y’see, the Bible has magic invisible footnotes at the end of every verse, that only True Christians can see. ”

      Cool, then I’ll cut out the eyes of a “True Christian” and use them to verify these footnotes. }:)

      • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

        Thing is, they honestly believe this. They believe that True Christians™ have ‘spiritual discernment’ which allows them to ‘correctly’ interpret scripture, thanks to the help of the Holy Ghost.

      • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

        Thing is, they honestly believe this. They believe that True Christians™ have ‘spiritual discernment’ which allows them to ‘correctly’ interpret scripture, thanks to the help of the Holy Ghost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

    If you like this billboard and want to contribute to future ones in
    Pennsylvania, there’s a billboard fund on the donation drop down on our
    website on the right-hand sidebar.  We need contributions to keep
    funding more of these.  We are a 501(c)3 educational organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.  All donations to our billboard fund go directly to funding the posting of billboards.

    http://www.panonbelievers.org

    • MW

      Oh my, that website makes me so happy. Time to make a donation :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.tingley Richard Tingley

    This is freaking brilliant. It is rightly offensive and 100% accurate which all but guarantees to get them nation wide press. They could easily make a dozen or more equally jarring billboards from Leviticus alone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

       Leviticus is fine, but many Christians argue (wrongly) that Jesus means never having to say you are sorry for Leviticus.

      Taking quotes out of the New Testament is much more fun and fulfilling.

      • Anonymous

        There is even a quote by sweet, gentle Jesus about slavery:

        “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.” — Luke 12:47-48

        It’s part of a parable, but in the next verse the Prince of Peace says that he has come to bring a sword and that he will divide families

  • Keven

    It’s about goddam time someone post a true bible quote that expose those Neanderthal. Next billboard should be about rape victim force to marry their aggressor.   

    • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Uly

       I thought that the rapist is forced to offer to marry his victim (who might have found her value in the marriage market pushed way down… bronze age ethics ftw!) but that she and her family had the final say.

      • Keven

         No the woman and the family have no say.

        If a man is caught in the act of raping a young
        woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. 
        Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be
        allowed to divorce her.   Deuteronomy
        22:28-29

        • Keven

          Look how sick and twisted this passage is:  ‘and he will never be
          allowed to divorce her.’

          Like that’s a punishment for him.

          “Oh crap I can not divorce her, what a terrible punishment. I rape her, now I’m stuck with her. wait a minute, that is a good thing, I get to marry who I desire, even if she doesn’t like me. Thank you god, what a benifit for man. Who cares about her filling.”

          • Keven

             I mean feeling not filling, my bad!

  • Butter Battle Book

    But for the bloody life of me, what the hell is the purpose of that bondage collar? Prop him up while he sleeps for added back support?? Impale white (or Jewish – Old Testament n’ all) women that try to kiss the man???

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I think the collar enabled as many as four men to easily control a large and strong slave who was resisting while walking him somewhere. Using the ends of those horizontal bars as handles, just giving the collar a back-and-forth shake would choke the slave and subdue him. Pulling up or down on those handles could also cause him severe pain as the collar bent his neck.

      Sadly, our ingenuity is not exclusively used for positive purposes.

  • Gus Snarp

    I’ll be the voice of dissent on this one. I hate this billboard. We’ve got to remember that these are signs seen by people quickly as they drive by. They’re not going to read all that explanatory text, they’re just going to see a picture of a black slave in a punishment device and a bible verse saying “Slaves, obey your masters”. They’re not going to think, “Man, that bible has some horrific shit in it, what have I been thinking?”, they’re going to think, “What the fuck is that? Is this some horrible KKK bullshit? Who the hell puts up something so horribly racists?” Hell, that’s what I’D think, because I wouldn’t notice the explanatory text at 65 mph. I think this graphic makes a great case, and it works on the web, but it doesn’t work on the side of the highway, and I think that’s a problem with billboard design in general.

    • Gus Snarp

      Please ignore my typos.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

       This is actually not in a highway portion of Harrisburg, but one that is on a major interchange at a red light.  I think people will have plenty of time to contemplate it’s meaning.

      • Gus Snarp

        That’s one possibility. But there will be plenty of people speeding by, highway or not, and plenty more who simply aren’t going to bother with deep thoughts about a billboard while they’re sitting at a red light. I stand by my statement that this will confuse and offend most viewers without enlightening them in the least.

        • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

           That’s the risk of any controversial statement.  The proof of course, as always, will be in the pudding.

        • Neilt42

          Your complaints are true of all billboards that make strong statements.  However, I’m not too worried about the semi-literate knee-jerkers, most of them aren’t good freethinker candidates in the first place.  Getting them talking at all is enough.  anyone who confuses the message, intentionally or not, will only make themselves look more stupid. 

          So I’ll dissent to your dissent, I think it is easily readable, recognizable, and perfectly engaging and enraging.  KUDOS! 

      • Gus Snarp

        On the other hand, this is only going to work on relatively smart and intellectually curious people any way you slice it, so maybe it will only piss off the willfully ignorant.

    • walkamungus

      I’d support paring down the explanatory text to 
      “PA Year of the Bible 2012″
      and making it slightly larger.

      • Gus Snarp

        Personally, off the top of my head, I’d go with something like:

        Is the Bible a source of morality?
        “Slaves, obey your masters.”
        - Colossians 3:22.

        With the question and the quote in the same font and size used for the quote in the original design, and everything else the same.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

         There was a concern that people would misunderstand the board as text WE support – Therefore we went with the “Brought to you by” to try and make sure that people understand that this message isn’t  ours — It’s the PA House of Representatives in supporting the Year of the Bible.

  • Methodissed

    I’d like to see a billboard that reads, “Worship me or I’ll torture you forever – Love Jesus”

    • Matto the Hun

      I thought Tim Tebow already did that with John 3:16 under his eyes. The passage means the same thing…

  • Miko

    The amount of time it took me to realize that “PANonbelievers” meant “PA Nonbelievers” rather than “PAN on believers” is longer than the amount of time that the average person will see the billboard.  Putting “PAN” all in the same color was a poor design choice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

       I would have preferred the same thing, but to make that correction would have added further delay to the sign, and it wasn’t worth that.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

       I assume it’s because PA Non-believers commonly refers to itself by the acronym PAN, but I agree that it’s confusing.

  • http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-los-angeles/hugh-kramer Hugh Kramer

    The billboard should read “Iron Age ethics.” The Bronze Age in the Middle East was over by 1200 BCE, long before the book of Colossians or even the Old Testament was written. I know “Bronze Age” sounds better but (sob!) I can’t help being an accuracy Nazi.
    >:^)

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

       The *ethics* referred to are Bronze-age ethics, and to be honest it builds on the “Bronze-age myths” theme from previous advertising by others.

      But yes, I will concede the point that the bible is not a “bronze age” book.

      • http://thefloatinglantern.wordpress.com/ Tim Martin

        What’s your source for ethics from the bronze age?

      • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

        Or at least, not entirely. Things like the “chariots of iron” passage in Judges seems to demonstrate a transition period, when cities had high-tech iron, while rural pillagers only had bronze.

  • Anonymous

    well now that’s the “old” testament. jeezuz changed all that so that makes it ok! (except for the parts of the o.t we still choose to follow like the hating of homosexuals. that part is still true) i have to say i think that the average person wont actually “think” about what the billboard is saying. they will just equate it automatically with some evil athiest attacking their lowerd and savyer jeezuz christ.

    • Annie

      Colossians is actually in the new testament, which makes it even better. ;-)

      • Anonymous

        oops, my oversight. sorry.

        • Fargofan1

          I’ve heard a Christian basically dismiss the Old Testament like this. But the OT also contains (1) supposed Messianic prophecies about Jesus, (2) the Ten Commandments some Christians want to see on government display, and (3) the creation stories (plural, as there are 2) that they want taught as literal truth instead of science. It seems they’re hot and cold on the OT.

          • Neil

            They always run hot and cold on the OT.  To do otherwise, they would either have to admit the are (and their bible) are wrong, or take a stand for what is now considered evil. 

            So they blow hot and cold constantly.  This being the case, to borrow a line from god, they should go blow themselves.  Wait, that’s not it….they make me want to spew, that’s it!

            or something like that.   

  • T-Rex

    Love it. Free thought and atheist organizations should use Bible quotes for all of their bill boards.

  • Jacob

    While I love this billboard, I am bothered by the how American Atheists capitalizes “Atheist”. It’s not supposed to be capitalized, but they always capitalize it—and their definition of “Atheism” on their website is very questionable. They’re hijacking the term and redefining it for their own purposes.

    • Lisa Blair

      Atheist is only capitalized if it’s the beginning of a sentence or part of a proper noun… which the proper name, American Atheists, is. 

      • Jacob

        No, I’m not talking about their name. Look at the quotes in the article. They capitalize it in the middle of a sentence.

        • Michael

          But not both times. Sloppy proofreading, angry flowers do not approve.

    • Phil E. Drifter

      It’s a title, hence it’s capitalized. You must have shit for brains.

  • Nude0007

    I would have went with the one where it says beating your slave is ok as long as he doesn’t die in 3 days. It shows that owning slaves is not only ok, but beating them severely is too.

    • Anonymous-Sam

       That would be Exodus 21:20-21.

      If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished.  But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.

  • Reginald Selkirk

     The “parable of the Unjust Steward” is the one that always had me asking “WTF?” (Luke 16:1-13) The only moral lesson I could draw from it is: if you’re going to fire someone, do it right away rather than give them two week’s notice, because they may harm your company in the mean time. I suppose that isn’t short and pithy enough to fit in a billboard though.

  • Keven

    Seriously Christians! stop it now, the more you speak the more dumb you sound. Why should we argue with you about how to interpret  the bible when your fellows Christians would argue with you about it. Remember, last count over 33,000 different christian denominations around the world, each with their own doctrine, willing to argue with you because they hold the truth, not you….

  • Anonymous

    http://www.abc27.com/story/17061822/atheist-groups-plan-billboard-to-protest-year-of-the-bible-resolution

    What christians think when they see the billboard. Rather than say, “Our bible does say that,” they simply deny scripture or admit. The results are epic.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps Mary DeJesus could comment on this? Would be interested to hear her perspective. As per Richard Wade – I assume it is all ‘language and context’

  • Anonymous

    You show irrefutable facts to someone, and you’ll find how well cognitive dissonance pushes creativity.

  • rupi capra

    How can you get so much wrong on one billboard? The point you wish to convey{which is a good one}will be lost in a racism squabble. Also”building on bronze-age myths theme from previous advertising” seems a poor it excuse for getting it wrong. It’s hard to imagine any African-American voting for this. Just out of curiosity, how many African-Americans are there in PAnonbelievers?

    • Phil E. Drifter

       shut the fuck up. there is no god. get over it. EVOLVE.

  • Jett Perrobone

    One thing I am tired of is how Christians often say that Jesus was the ‘lamb’ who invalidated all of the laws of the Old Testament, so that Christians need not obey them anymore.  This is in spite of the fact that their savior himself said in Matthew 5:17 – 19:

    Think not that I am
    come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but
    to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise
    pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore
    shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he
    shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall
    do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Now, I’m not arguing that Christians should obey all those horrid laws.  I strongly believe they shouldn’t.  I just want them to be honest and admit they care for human beings more than they believe the words of Jesus.

  • RESCRIPT

    Think of nature as your God. A God whose purpose and intelligence is far beyond our comprehension. A God creator not We will eradicate ‘God’s absolutes and Country borders.’ Surely not by a utilitarian jihad but, by installing representatives sympathetic to our cause, gradual education of the public through political debate, mass media and peaceful demonstration. We require regulation of world finance for more equal distribution of global wealth and resources toward human sustainability. Redirecting of industrial  government contracts toward support for renewable fuels, research into food production , science and space exploration as opposed to weapons, oil and war. Meanwhile appealing to human sanity, corporations, religions and governments for global cooperation in securing sufficient food and shelter for all humanity, not  just the privileged. We can push for a more active, veto free United Nations with teeth to gradually bite into government & religious tyranny, regional disparity and human inequality. We can also appeal to religious leaders to adopt a more human survival friendly approach to deity. A God who has mercy on those poor souls left here in religious hell on earth. It has to happen or the bloodshed will continue as humanity’s true immortality wanes.

    Our government will be global. We will unite all people across the world. We will unite us all under an altruistic banner and all genders, all races, all faiths will see the justice in our call. Our government will be by the people for the people. Wealth and resources will be shared “equally” or if not equally then fairly. Because we have “eradicated Gods absolutes  and “eradicated the borders of Country” there will be peace on earth. Our government of true thinking altruists will not be corrupted ( like the bondage of those deceptive religions). There will be problems with disputes but, they will be handled with “reason”, forgiveness and understanding. And who could fail to see the much needed humanity in our reason? We can start with an absolute separation between church and state. One should not influence the other.

    There will be no abomination of war in a free thinking world when we shed the shackles of religious mental tyranny. All citizens of the world will be well cared for and supported toward their personal self determination. The self serving attitudes and corruption of world governments will be focused under the same spotlight of accountability and truth. No free thinker would fight or die for a mindless, greedy cause while there remains a remote chance of peace and conciliation. Instead of Big Brother watching us, we will be awatching Big Brother. God protector or savior. A God without favor or prejudice. A God who just keeps on creating & destroying life and is oblivious to our individual or species survival. A God who through an eternity has and will create life trough constant rebirth and death. Not a God of human creation yet one we all know well. A strange paradox where madness reigns and purpose is fleeting. A universe teeming with life all vying for survival.

    Such a universe must be totally void of morals, purpose or reward. But, for the species lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time; a species with the intelligence to unlock the secrets of God himself, this species may be able to survive in the universe through future eternity. If humanity is to survive we first have to save our planet, then explore the universe while spreading the seed of mankind to insure our survival from natures eventual destruction.

    This view of God  comforts me greatly when I realize that I could be a part off, or maybe a contributor to the immortality of such a species.

  • RESCRIPT

    Sorry for the last post. I seem to have made a double paste from two separate comments.
    The first post is as follows:

    Think of nature as your God. A God whose purpose and intelligence is far beyond our comprehension. A God without favor or prejudice. A God who just keeps on creating & destroying life and is oblivious to our individual or species survival. A God who through an eternity has and will create life trough constant rebirth and death. Not a God of human creation yet one we all know well. A strange paradox where madness reigns and purpose is fleeting. A universe teeming with life all vying for survival.

    Such a universe must be totally void of morals, purpose or reward. But, for the species lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time; a species with the intelligence to unlock the secrets of God himself, this species may be able to survive in the universe through future eternity. If humanity is to survive we first have to save our planet, then explore the universe while spreading the seed of mankind to insure our survival from natures eventual destruction.

    This view of God  comforts me greatly when I realize that I could be a part off, or maybe a contributor to the immortality of such a species.

  • RESCRIPT

    We will eradicate ‘God’s absolutes and Country borders.’ Surely not by a utilitarian jihad but, by installing representatives sympathetic to our cause, gradual education of the public through political debate, mass media and peaceful demonstration. We require regulation of world finance for more equal distribution of global wealth and resources toward human sustainability. Redirecting of industrial  government contracts toward support for renewable fuels, research into food production , science and space exploration as opposed to weapons, oil and war. Meanwhile appealing to human sanity, corporations, religions and governments for global cooperation in securing sufficient food and shelter for all humanity, not  just the privileged. We can push for a more active, veto free United Nations with teeth to gradually bite into government & religious tyranny, regional disparity and human inequality. We can also appeal to religious leaders to adopt a more human survival friendly approach to deity. A God who has mercy on those poor souls left here in religious hell on earth. It has to happen or the bloodshed will continue as humanity’s true immortality wanes.

    Our government will be global. We will unite all people across the world. We will unite us all under an altruistic banner and all genders, all races, all faiths will see the justice in our call. Our government will be by the people for the people. Wealth and resources will be shared “equally” or if not equally then fairly. Because we have “eradicated Gods absolutes  and “eradicated the borders of Country” there will be peace on earth. Our government of true thinking altruists will not be corrupted ( like the bondage of those deceptive religions). There will be problems with disputes but, they will be handled with “reason”, forgiveness and understanding. And who could fail to see the much needed humanity in our reason? We can start with an absolute separation between church and state. One should not influence the other.

    There will be no abomination of war in a free thinking world when we shed the shackles of religious mental tyranny. All citizens of the world will be well cared for and supported toward their personal self determination. The self serving attitudes and corruption of world governments will be focused under the same spotlight of accountability and truth. No free thinker would fight or die for a mindless, greedy cause while there remains a remote chance of peace and conciliation. Instead of Big Brother watching us, we will be awatching Big Brother.

  • Heintje

    For their next billboard, I propose Deuteronomy 23:1
    “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    I think it is an excellent and fitting response.

    Make the next one about genocide (tearing children from the womb).

    Then the next about beating kids with staves, or stoning them to death for disobediance.

    Hell, you could run similar boards just quotng line after line from Deuteronomy for the next 5 years on a weekly basis.

  • Curt Hall

    This is a brilliant ad campaign and should be continued throughout the “Year of the Bible” as a monthly series.   Just think, 12 bible lessons for PA that they would never hear in Sunday school.
    There would be no problem collecting 12 classics like “I do not permit a woman to speak”; stoning rebellious children; enslaving captured racial groups; slaughtering entire cities – men, women, children, and horses; talking donkeys; eternal hell; etc…

    • Phil E. Drifter

       killing people for wearing cotton AND polyester TOGETHER

    • RESCRIPT

      They should go for “Year of common sense and freedom from Fairy Tales”
      Just think of the peace on an earth without religion.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I hope there will be pressure to declare next year The Year of the Ramayana.  Then we can have the Year of the Avesta, and then the Navaho sacred oral teachings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LostBoy77420 Eric Jacobson

    This sickens me. I’m calling my rep tomorrow, who also happens to be my uncle. Shame he’s retiring, I won’t have the chance to vote against him for the first time in my life. All it takes is one stupid move to turn off a voter – or a family member…

  • Jesus wasn’t a christian

    If you believe that a god created the earth, the universe and all that is in it, you’d think he could do a better job writing a book. 

    • RESCRIPT

      If god does exist you can bet your life that he had nothing to do with the lies contained in the Bible, Koran and Torah. They are ancient myth like Zeus and the like and have absurdly destroyed truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Just-Ron/100001146318146 Just Ron

    How the christers think:
    I have an appliance business and, whenever I can, I do jobs for the poor, elderly at no charge which includes not charging for parts.
    I do it just because I’m that way and understand their problems.

    One day I was in a driveway packing up my tools and etc when the nosy church lady neighbor waddled over.
    She said, “I know what you do for Mrs So+So. You’re surely going to heaven.”
    I told her that I wasn’t ready to die and that I don’t believe that because I’m an atheist and realist.
    Immediately she looks at me and say, “Oh, you’re going to go to hell.”

    So much for what I think versus what I do.

    • RESCRIPT

      You should have told her you are already in a religious hell and working diligently to change it for the better. Something religion has not been able to do in 2000 years.

  • Wolf Revels

    Today is the 6th. Got any updates? Did the billboards go up?

  • Kat1014813

    The image used is inappropriate. It doesn’t matter that African American atheists supported it. The fact it’s mentioned in the article as being supported by Blacks makes it obvious that it’s a problem. Use another image!


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