The Bible on Abortion: A Topic It Would Rather Passover

nawiedzenie_1It is estimated that HALF of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions. So, let’s be clear: if God wanted to stop abortions, this would be a great place to start. Obviously, there are definite biological reasons why an embryo might not make it, and most people (even firm believers) don’t blame God for allowing so many millions of fertilized eggs to die each year.

But many of the same people who give God a pass for allowing so many embryos to die, would like us to believe that God is punishing us for not making all abortions stop. Setting aside the fact that making abortions illegal does not cause them to stop, let’s examine what the Bible says DIRECTLY about abortion.

If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child, and she miscarry indeed, but live herself, he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require and as arbiters shall award. But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life. —Exodus 21:22-23

 Here, the Bible’s clearest reference to a fetus being killed indicates that the fetus has some unspecified value, but it doesn’t have the value that the mother’s life has. If the mother is killed, it requires capital punishment. If the fetus dies, it’s whatever the husband demands and not capital punishment. So is a one-celled homo sapiens fully human at the moment of conception? Evidently not, according to the Bible.

The other Bible passage that deals DIRECTLY with abortion is the Ordeal of the Bitter Water. Here, the priest administers a potential abortifacient to a wife suspected of infidelity. To punish the woman impregnated by another man, the Bible commands that priests become actively involved in abortions!

If feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife of adultery, then he is to take her to the priest. Then the priest is to have the woman drink the bitter water. If she has been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the bitter water, it will go into her, and her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry. But if she is clean, she will be free and will have offspring.
Numbers 5:14,15, 26-28

Many other references to abortions and miscarriages are written purely for rhetorical purposes, with no thought of taking a stand for or against abortion.

Why was I not stillborn? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? —Job 3:11

Then I said, “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! Jeremiah 15:10

If his soul is not filled with good, and he does not receive proper burial, I say that an aborted birth is better than he. —Ecclesiastes 6:3

No judgement on abortion here, but one of those times when you wish the Bible had an editor to ask for a less grisly analogy.

In Hosea, God is asked to curse some enemies with spontaneous abortions, because that’s what God does evidently.

Lord, give them what they deserve. Make the women miscarry, or else make them unable to nurse their babies. —Hosea 9:14

And try to find a “sanctity of life” sentiment in this passage from Genesis:

Judah was told, “Tamar is with child by prostitution.” Judah said, “Bring her forth, and let her be burned to death.” —Genesis 38:24

Not so much concern for when life begins, but plenty for when it should end: at pregnant prostitutes!

And lastly, we have these three pasages that represent all of the bloodshed condoned and often encouraged by God in the Bible. When an entire city is killed off, that’s a lot of pregnant women dying. But don’t worry, God said it was okay.

Let them perish by the sword. Let their little ones be dashed, and let the women with child be ripped up. —Hosea 13:16

Because its citizens refused to surrender the town, he killed the entire population and ripped open all the pregnant women. —2 Kings 15:16

And now slay every male, even of the children, and put to death the women that have carnally known men. But the girls and all the women that are virgins save for yourselves. —Numbers 31:17-18

Now for the Anti-Abortion Bible quotes.

Well, the ones I’ve seen put forward mention ‘birth’ or ‘wombs’ like this:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. —Jeremiah 1:5

Okay, this is mostly just Jeremiah trying to establish some street cred as a prophet, saying God chose him to be a prophet even before he was conceived. I would like to see the proof that Jeremiah had on that. I’m not sayin’ for sure that Jeremiah just made that up, but I’m just sayin’.

The Jeremiah passage does NOT say “Don’t abort,” it says “Jeremiah is awesome! Thus sayeth Jeremiah.”

NOTHING in the Bible comes close to saying “Don’t abort.” Don’t blame me; blame the Bible! It’s not hard. When the Bible wants to outlaw something, it just comes out and says it.

Never get a tattoo. I am the Lord. —Leviticus 19:28

Or

Never let a witch live. —Exodus 22:18

It’s funny how we finally stopped putting witches to death, which is clearly commanded by the Bible, while some Bible believers will grasp at any tangential verse to devise a Bible sanction against abortion.

I won’t get into why they try to make the Bible say what they want and not embrace what the Bible actually says about abortion. I would settle for them leaving the Bible out completely and making the best arguments they can. But it’s clear that if pro-lifers want to bring the Bible into the debate, the Bible is NOT on their side.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Advertisements

Bring Your Bible (Funmentionables) to School Day™

B-fun2SchoolIt is a twisted logic that some Bible thumpers’ idea of religious liberty includes demanding that the government send out e-mails to promote their religion. Case in point: Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Northern California recently e-mailed parents notifying them of a “Bring Your Bible to School Day” (a.k.a. “Spit on the Constitution Day”). The public school district says it’s totally cool because they added a disclaimer saying it’s not their program, plus their lawyer said it was okay.

Their lawyer has admitted being worried about litigation from the group Focus on the Family if the district refused to send out the e-mail. Religious groups can threaten their own with eternal punishment, but they have to resort to lawsuits when dealing with the government.

Of course, when the e-mail goes out announcing “Bring Your Koran to School Day” or “Bring Bertrand Russell’s ‘Why I Am Not a Christian’ to School Day,” Focus on the Family will be the first to complain. Do I have to remind Focus on the Family that Jesus really hated hypocrites, especially spice tithers:

Woe to you…hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin. —Matthew 23:23

It’s particularly exasperating when the people responsible for educating our youth show such inability to think through situations like these, where it is their duty to keep church and state separate. Now instead of showing you how un-Washingtonian or how un-Jeffersonian the public school district is being, let’s change things up and give some of the less-renowned Presidents their overdue moment in the spotlight:

“Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State.” —James Polk

 

“In my view Church and State should be separate.”
—Millard Fillmore

 

“Keep Church and State forever separate.”
—Ulysses S. Grant

 

“The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute.” —James Garfield

Polk gets extra credit for the “Thank God” intro.

The school district’s legal minds may not quite match our Commanders-in-Chief (dare I call them un-Polkian), but there is also another Commander whose law about making a public display of your religion is being violated:

When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men…but when you make your prayer, go into your private room.
—Matthew 6:5-6

It is a shame that Focus on the Family is so thoroughly ignorant of that Bible quote. To keep today’s youth from being just as ignorant, I present “Bring Your ‘Bible Funmentionables’ to School Day.™”

Screen shot 2015-10-09 at 6.16.04 PMThat’s right; In a spirit of fairness, I have submitted my request to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District that they promote my first annual “Bring Your ‘Bible Funmentionables’ to School Day™” scheduled for October 30, 2015. Since my event is equally legal to Focus on the Family’s, I’m sure they’ll be just as eager to spread the word. Or face the threat of eternal damnation! (It’s cheaper than legal counsel.)

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The Mystery of the Sodomite Suppression Act: How the Bible Inspired the Least Popular Proposition Ever!

Editor’s Note: Below is an op-ed I submitted to the local paper. It did not get picked up, and I am getting the impression that your typical mainstream newspaper finds it much safer to steer clear of this topic even when the information would shed light on a news story that many find perplexing and personally hurtful.

350xThe Sodomite Suppression Act initiative has left many political observers perplexed: What could possibly have motivated attorney Matt McLaughlin to propose capital punishment for homosexuality?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly to some, is the Bible.

Many would like to interpret McLaughlin’s initiative as a Swiftian satire and that he was trying to make some ironic point. The more compelling explanation actually comes from Cervantes: McLaughlin, having read a few too many ancient writings, is on a quixotic quest, tilting at windmills that only he sees as monsters.

McLaughlin, by his own account, has been a daily reader of the Bible since first grade. In 2004 he proposed and failed to qualify a ballot initiative that would have required California public schools to provide a King James Bible to every student.

McLaughlin’s latest initiative claims that God commands us to suppress the “monstrous evil” of sodomy or face “our utter destruction.” It takes its inspiration directly from Leviticus 20:13:

“If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.”

I should explain my own particular interest in obscure Bible verses like this one. Around the time of McLaughlin’s Bibles-in-schools initiative, I started to hear more and more talk from Bible literalists like McLaughlin who sought to compel prayer in public schools. Out of curiosity, I decided to read the Bible cover to cover to learn what was really in it, focusing my attention on the verses that rarely get mentioned by preachers. What I discovered was that there are countless cringe-worthy passages that have conveniently been swept under the rug and that few people know are part of their own religion’s sacred texts.

For example, I discovered that the God of the Bible orders capital punishment for more than just male homosexuality. The Bible explicitly requires the death penalty for the following:

• Witchcraft

• Cursing your parents

• A man who fails to impregnate his widowed sister-in-law

• Gathering sticks on the sabbath

• A man sleeping with his step-mother

• Bestiality

• And at least 20 other less-than-capital offenses

By singling out gays and letting stick gatherers go free, McLaughlin reveals that he is motivated more by his own biases than he is by God’s ancient dictates.

Few Bible aficionados seem to be aware of these wholly unholy Bible passages, but to ignore their existence and their effect on some believers like McLaughlin is a danger.

Bible quotes like Leviticus 20:13 helped inspire Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to famously place partial blame on “the gays and the lesbians” for causing the 9/11 attacks. A few years back, some American fundamentalist Christians supported “kill the gays” legislation in Uganda. The Army of God is an American terrorist group that has promoted Bible-inspired violence against gays. Other Bible passages are complicit in the deaths of dozens of children who die each year from being denied medical treatment because of their parents’ interpretation of scripture. If you need more examples of the damage caused by literal interpretations of Bible verses, plenty of heartbreaking stories can be found at whatstheharm.net/religiousfundamentalism.html.

Unquestionably these fundamentalists do not represent your average believer, but they are on the airwaves and in pulpits spreading their extremist views and influencing eager believers like McLaughlin.

It is crucial to understand the Bible’s key role in inspiring this ghastly initiative. McLaughlin’s Bible literalism should be a warning for anyone attracted to such simplistic answers. Uncritical acceptance of any dogma fosters group-think and a my-way-or-the-highway attitude.

This kind of absolutist outlook played out on a national scale gives us extremists championing the use of the Bible as a legal blueprint for America. Played out on a global scale, it is a poison that has the potential to endanger us all with endless religious wars.

Fortunately, few Bible literalists interpret the Bible quite like McLaughlin does, though many may be surprised to find that the genesis for his horrific initiative can be found in the often overlooked passages of the best-selling book of all-time, the Bible.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

SCOTUS’s Big FU to JC

SupremeandSupremeIt’s not every day that the US Supreme Court gets an amicus brief from their Lord and Savior. Even more surprising is that conservative Christian justices would ignore Jesus’ opinion so completely, as was the case in their Town of Greece, NY v. Galloway decision of May 2014.

My strong suspicion is that Jesus has no immediate plans of coming back to Earth, otherwise he couldn’t have picked a better time to appear as a surprise witness at the Supreme Court reminding the “Christians” that Christian public prayer is an oxymoron, the very definition of “UN-Christian.”

When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. —Matthew 6:5

But wait, Jesus isn’t done yet:

But when you make your prayer, go into your private room, and, shutting the door, say a prayer to your Father in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward. —Matthew 6:6

Pretty clearly the Son of God and King of Kings says only pray in “your private room” where you’re not “seen by men.”

But if Jesus says you can’t pray at your city council meeting, where else could you possibly pray? This time Jesus leads by example:

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. —Luke 5:16

In every gospel, Jesus heads off to the desert or the mountain to pray. That’s fine for him, but he never quite imagined his followers would eventually number in the billions. It really is impractical to start your governmental meeting with a quick trip to the desert.

The “Ceremonial” Argument

The 5-4 decision, by and for conservative Christians, claims that these prayers are acceptable since they are “ceremonial” and “part of the Nation’s heritage and tradition.”

As is often the case, these religious prayers or governmental references to God are claimed to be harmlessly “ceremonial” or “patriotic.” But yet at the same time the prayers are fiercely defended by the religious majority. So which is it? Are they negligibly religious or deeply meaningful and important to the believers?

It is just way too convenient that on this one issue these prayers and phrases are decreed to perfectly straddle the line between meaningful and meaningless. Meaningful enough to continue, but not meaningful enough for non-believers to complain about.

To get a sense of how “ceremonial” the Greece, NY prayers were, here are a few quotes from the prayers that were featured in Justice Kagan’s dissent:

Prayers evoking “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross,” “the plan of redemption that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ,” “the life and death, resurrection and ascension of the Savior Jesus Christ,” the workings of the Holy Spirit, the events of Pentecost, and the belief that God “has raised up the Lord Jesus” and “will raise us, in our turn, and put us by His side.”

The amicus brief from the Freedom from Religion Foundation reminds us that the American “traditions” of miscegenation and sodomy laws had been on the books for a ling time, but that “a longstanding practice can simply be a longstanding violation.”

“We do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” leads to this reasoning from Warren Burger’s 1986 (!) Bowers v. Hardwick opinion:

[H]omosexual conduct ha[s] been subject to state intervention throughout the history of Western civilization. Condemnation of those practices is firmly rooted in Judeao-Christian moral and ethical standards. . . . To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.

Religious Lack of Empathy

Why then are so many (though definitely not all!) Christians unwilling or unable to imagine how it would feel to be a religious outsider when public prayers are being said?

With any religion, just like with any sports team, there is an in-group who shares your core beliefs, and an out-group who doesn’t. What always amazes me is the callous attitude some believers have about the effect of their public prayers on their fellow citizens who don’t share their religious beliefs. What kind of religion does not teach and foster empathy, the ability and willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective? Either that message just does not get through to some congregants, or some churches don’t see it as a priority.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled this month that the phrase “under God” could stay in the Pledge of Allegiance when public school students are told to recite it. Again, their attitude toward these children is fairly callous: “Participation is entirely voluntary,” as if to assume there is no downside for a child who sits out the Pledge of Allegiance on religious or constitutional grounds.

Which brings us to Bible Funmentionables’ Core Principle #3: If your religion makes you a better person—more empathetic, understanding and accepting of others—then great! If your religion allows or encourages you to be hateful, self-righteous, and intolerant of your fellow human beings who are just trying to get along on this planet, you may have missed the point of your religion entirely.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Could Christians Become Erotic Cake Baking Slaves?

yummy-rainbow-cakeEvidently some conservative Christians have completely run out of actual things to fear.

Judson Phillips, the president of Tea Party Nation, worries that without the ability to discriminate against gays, Christians may become “slaves” who could be “required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it.”

You would have to be the world’s worst slave owner, or the most profligate anyway, to use the slaves at your disposal just to create erotic wedding cakes—as if people do that for weddings! I don’t want to know what else Phillips thinks goes on at gay weddings.

Which brings us to Bible Funmentionables Core Principle #7: Whenever people make really outrageous and irrational statements about others, it’s quite likely that they are projecting their own suppressed desires and emotions.

For example, some state lawmakers claim, contrary to all the evidence, that there is rampant voter fraud. They assume their opponents are the ones doing this fraud, which in fact they themselves would like to be doing. They then prove their desire to commit voter fraud by passing voter suppression laws.

But let’s let God’s word itself weigh in on the controversy and see what the Bible has to say about cake making:

Isaiah ordered, “Get a fig cake.” So they did as he ordered and placed it on the ulcerated sore, and he recovered. —2 Kings 20:7

Fig cakes on a sore: good advice at the time when you compare it to other more harmful cures, but what about those slave-baked penis cakes?

For a harlot consumeth unto a cake of bread, and an adulteress the precious soul hunteth. —Proverbs 6:26

In other words, a prostitute will only cost you the price of a loaf of bread, but sleep with some other guy’s wife and it could cost you your life. Finally, some practical advice from Proverbs which most guys never hear about until it’s too late.

And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with human excrement in their sight. Then he said to me, “Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread with them.” —Ezekiel 4:12,15

Newer translations make it very clear that the dung is for fuel purposes only, not part of the ingredients. Either way, ewwww!

So evidently the Bible is agnostic on the issue of whether it’s okay to a snake cake baker, although it has plenty to say about how great slavery is.

Arizona bill SB1062, which was vetoed, is a political/religious Rorschach test: To conservative Christians it’s a matter of freedom of conscience: doing business for a gay wedding is condoning an abomination unto the Lord (which I’ll get into in a future post). To others it’s a violation of gays’ civil liberties.

Whenever you’re demanding your right to refuse service/discriminate against another group, you can usually find some kind of biblical support for your position, but increasingly, you may find that much of the rest of society is moving on to a more charitable and inclusive way of seeing the world. Let’s not tell Judson Phillips.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

When You ASS-U-ME the Bible Will Give You the Right Answer…

GogAndMagogI am repeatedly shocked by how often the Wall Street Journal runs ill-conceived and plainly second-rate op-eds on their editorial pages. As long as your political philosophy aligns with the editorial board, they seem willing to run just about anything. So when I read this, I couldn’t keep myself away from the B-fun blog.

Tevi Troy’s assertion that many American Presidents have been influenced by the Bible (“The Presidential Bible Class”) was as inarguable as it was superficial. It left unasked two vital questions: Have presidential Bible consultations yielded universally positive results? and Should the Bible be relied upon as an unerring counsel for political leaders?

To answer the first question we need only travel back in time to 2003 to recall the account of former French President Jacques Chirac who claimed President Bush tried to convince him to join the invasion of Iraq because “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East.” Gog and Magog are not Mr. Magoo’s adorable nephews, but rather they are creatures prophesied in the Book of Revelation to bring destruction upon Israel. Given that a recent Gallup poll shows that 53% of Americans believe that invading Iraq was a mistake, we may have been better served if Bush had studied more about the tensions between Shiites and Sunnis and worried less about Gog and Magog.

A one-time US Senator and Secretary of War once said, “It (slavery) was established by decree of Almighty God and is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments from Genesis to Revelation.” The author of this quote was also a President of sorts: the Confederate States’ President Jefferson Davis.

Slavery is famously not outlawed in the Bible with passages like

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling.” —Ephesians 6:5

and

“Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters.” —Titus 2:9

That could explain that despite being fully aware of the Bible, 10 of the first 10 US Presidents (who were not named Adams) owned slaves at some point in their lives. But that was a different time. No politician today would really think the Bible meant what it said about slavery, right? Well there is the case of state representative Loy Mauch of Arkansas who claimed in 2012,

“If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it?”

So consulting the Bible has been no guarantor of inerrant advice for past politicians. But is there a place for the Bible as an aide in informing today’s weighty political issues?

In my own study of the Bible, I have endeavored to catalogue the most surprising and arcane passages of the Old and New Testaments, and I discovered that for every Bible verse used to support a given political opinion, it was not difficult to find a verse that would support just the opposite.

There are the more lighthearted contradictions:

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing.” —Proverbs 18:22

and

“It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” —1 Corinthians 7:1

Then there are the confusing directives:

“Even so let your light shine before men.” —Matthew 5:16

and

“Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men.” —Matthew 6:1

Some are deeply theological:

“The Father is greater than I am.” —John 14:28

and

“I and my Father are one.” —John 10:30

And others have important public policy ramifications:

“Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” —Luke 18:22

and

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” —John 12:8

When I combed through every single saying of Jesus in the gospels looking for those with either a hint of liberal or conservative sentiments, I was surprised to find that Jesus was not wholly one or the other, though by my count his liberal-leaning statements outnumbered his conservative ones by a ration of 2 to 1. Given this mixed message in the gospels, what does it mean to rely upon the Bible as a source of political inspiration. Rather than hearing one consistent message, it seems highly likely that one would be tempted to seek out those verses that conform to one’s preexisting ideology also known as confirmation bias. When is the last time you heard a politician say that even though it goes completely against their political leanings, the Bible made them change a deeply held belief.

I mention this as a cautionary tale. Being well-versed in the Bible does not necessarily equal unparalleled political decision-making. Even Abraham Lincoln understood his limited ability to discern the ideal course of action when he said,

“My concern is not whether God is on our side. My greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

And the B-Fun’s Pope of the Year Award Goes to…

PopeoftheYearThe winner of the 2013 Triple (Pointy) Crown—Time’s Person of the Year, Esquire’s Best Dressed Man of 2013 (Really!), AND Bible Funmentionable’s prestigious Pope of the Year Award—is former the chemical technician and bouncer, the BA from Buenas Aires, Pope Francis!

Granted, choosing Pope Benedict instead of Francis was about as likely as Obama winning Constitutional Law Professor of the Year. But Frances earned this award the way Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize—by having the guy in the job before you suck so bad in comparison.

What did he do that made headlines?

• He chose to not wear red shoes. (So did I, but am I Pope? [SDIBAIP])

• As archbishop he cooked his own meals. (SDIBAIP)

• He paid his hotel bill. (SDIBAIP)

• He took the bus. (SDIBAIP)

So he didn’t become Pope of the Year from those facts alone. Let’s try another list:

What did Pope Francis say that was apontifical? (And even angered conservative Catholics)

• “Proselytism is solemn nonsense”

• “If someone is gay…who am I to judge?”

• “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.”

• “An economy of exclusion and inequality…kills.”

• “Trickle-down theories …(have) never been confirmed by the facts.”

• “There are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites.”

• “I like it when someone tells me ‘I don’t agree.”

• “Every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not.”

• “I love tango.”

Since I have lampooned Pope Benedict in the past, I felt it was necessary to give Pope Francis credit where credit is due. When a church leader at the Pope’s level publicly seeks to find common ground with non-believers and non-Catholics instead of demonizing them, that small step is worth noting and encouraging.

And in that spirit, I’m not going to quote the Bible on what it says you should do to non-believers. Although the Pope would probably like to discuss with me those parts of the Bible where I say, “I don’t agree.”

The best news in all of this is having a religious leader who states that he personally openly welcomes dissenting views. If all religious people had this attitude the world would be a noticeably better place.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Who Would Jesus Coldcock?

Boxing-Jesus-2008If we are to believe ancient, secondhand accounts, Jesus once said “Love your enemies.” Blissfully ignored by millions daily, this divine command for adversarial love is not easy, especially when you are facing the evil incarnate that we all try to avoid: the Salvation Army bell ringer.

Volunteer ringer Kristina Vindiola allegedly was attacked by a woman shopping at Wal-Mart in Phoenix for having the audacity to wish her happiness this holiday season. Unfortunately that happiness never materialized, as the shopper/vigilante Christian badgered the volunteer bell ringer by demanding, “Do you believe in God? You’re supposed to say ‘Merry Christmas’!” And in a fit of wonderful Christian irony and horrible Christian PR she slapped the well-wishing bell ringer.

Why do some Christians get it so wrong?

While the pugnacious Christian shopper is a bit of a rarity and a slap in the face to most Christians, this is what happens when Christians, currently about 80% of all Americans, are  repeatedly told by Fox News (sic) and televangelists that they are actually under severe religious persecution. Someone will eventually believe that they really are a victim and want to fight back.

I think something deeper is going on: Hyper-intolerant Christians are facing an increasingly diverse America. The idea that more and more of their neighbors are normal, decent Americans AND don’t worship Jesus is deeply disturbing to them. They kind of like kidding themselves into thinking this was, is, and always will be a “Christian nation.” (The framers of the Constitution just forgot to mention Jesus—it’s more of a typo than an intentional omission.) Living a delusion is great for a while, but sometimes that little bit of irrationality can burst forth like the dramatic final act of Judas.

Now Judas purchased a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. —Acts 1:18

If they choose to selectively read their Jesus quotes, they could stop turning the proverbial other cheek and instead dwell on this gem:

Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. —Matthew 10:34

While completely ignoring this bipolar opposite sentiment:

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. —John 16:33

Christians who bristle at the phrase “separation of church and state” somehow think that the only good thing big government can do is pick religious winners and losers…as long as it’s their savior whose picture is hanging in the public high school’s Hall of Honor.

Sadly there is no commandment that unequivocally states: “Thou shalt not attack a volunteer raising money to feed and clothe the needy just because they wished that you would find some happiness in late December.”

And though it would have really clarified things for us, Jesus evidently never said, “Love your enemies unless they wish you ‘Happy Holidays.’ Then slap ’em. Slap ‘em good.”

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The War on Festivus (and Why the Bible Commands It!)

PoleWake up, America: Festivus is under attack!

The popular Festivus tradition that goes back for many television seasons is the only purely American winter holiday tradition. The Founding Fathers, if they had just lived long enough to watch Seinfeld in 1997, would be frightening to look at and would have found it “eminently jocular, albeit a tad ribald,” —Thomas Jefferson, Senior Living(?) Magazine.

These fine, patriotic Festivus-Americans are just trying to celebrate their First Amendment rights this holiday season by doing what any American would do: demand that their display be prominently featured on public land. (I think that’s in the Constitution somewhere after the part about you have the right to a lawyer, a decent plumber, and a masseuse of the gender of your choosing.)

How Is Festivus Under Attack?

In Bartow, Florida, a Festivus pole was stolen.

And Fox News (sic) has actually begun attacking these fine Americans for making a Festivus pole out of beer cans!

Fox hates beer cans!?! The shining symbol of American consumerism! Even Jesus who was known as a drunkard

“Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”—Matthew 11:19

would be crying in his PBR over such blatant anti-American hatred.

Does the Bible Condone the Vandalizing of Poles?

Is the Pope Catholic? (No, really. This new Pope is such an adjustment from the last few.)

But to answer the question: God totally approves of pole destruction! In my book Bible Funmentionables I explain how the “disgusting” poles at the temples of the fertility goddess Asherah really bothered the writers of the Bible.

But this is what you are to do to them: their altars are to be pulled down, and their pillars broken, and their Asherah poles cut down, and their images burned with fire. —Deuteronomy 7:5

God didn’t appreciating other religions cutting in on his marketshare, and, in true mobster form, he wasn’t afraid to arrange for a little “market correction.”

And King Josiah brought out the Asherah pole from the house of Yahweh, outside of Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it, and beat it to dust, and cast its dust on the graves of the common people. —2 Kings 23:6

So the War on Festivus is part of an ongoing fight for people’s hearts and minds. What’s most puzzling to me is how the manger-at-city-hall people fail to see how their use of the government to promote their religion caused the Festivus display backlash. I guess the one thing that is more American than expecting the government to give you a high profile location in front of City Hall is complaining when some other group gets that same special privilege that you got.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Answering Newt’s Prayer for Open Marriage

Newt GingrichProposing to your wife, that you would like to have an open marriage, is a shocking bit of news, according to Newt Gingrich’s second ex-wife. But surprisingly, one place where such concepts are definitely old news is in the Holy Bible.

In the laws of the Old Testament, polygamy is spoken of in very matter-of-fact terms, without any hint of disrepute:

If he take himself another wife… —Exodus 21:10

If a man have two wives… —Deuteronomy 21:15

A candidate who really believed the Bible would tell us that traditional marriage is between one man and one woman…and as many other wives and concubines as the man can attract and afford.

To get a sense of how commonplace polygamy is in the Bible, the following is a list of biblical characters who carried on with more than one woman, and it reads like one of those too-boring-to-read-out-loud genealogies from First Chronicles (seriously, do not try to read 1 Chronicles chapters 1-9 at your next Bible study group!): Abijah, Abraham, Ahab, Ahasuerus, Ashur, Belshazzar, Benhadad, Caleb, David, Eliphaz, Elkanah, Esau, Ezra, Gideon, Jacob, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Joash, Lamech, Machir, Manasseh, Mered, Moses, Nahor, Rehoboam, Saul, Shaharaim, Simeon, Solomon, and Zedekiah.

In the scriptures, polygamy originated rather humbly with Noah’s father, Lamech:

And Lemech took two wives, one named Adah and the other Zillah. —Genesis 4:19

And it culminates in the harem of King Solomon:

Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines, and his wives led him astray. — 1 Kings 11:3

A man with a reputation for wisdom couldn’t forsee any problem living with 1,000 women?

In the New Testament, or as Rev. Lovejoy calls it, “somewhere towards the back” of the Bible, polygamy is definitely downplayed, though it was evidently accepted enough to work its way into one of Jesus’ parables:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. —Matthew 25:1

Throughout most of the Bible, multiple wives pointed to a king’s increased social status. Perhaps a similar urge affected Gingrich and the most recent batch of America’s polyamorous politicians from both major parties, including John Edwards, John Ensign, Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer, and David Vitter to name but a few.

Officially, it should be stated, Gingrich has denied calling for an open marriage, but his admission of the affair and his shoot-the-messenger reaction to the story has left some unconvinced of his innocence.

The Bible clearly treats polygamy as an allowable practice, and nowhere is it unequivocally forbidden by God. As the practice became socially unacceptable in the U.S., the religions that wanted to stay in business decided to go along with public sentiment, just like they did with other biblically supported issues like slavery, the killing of witches, and the prohibition of tattoos.

In making his open marriage request, maybe the old Newt was making a point that the newly devout Newt would appreciate: it’s not adultery if we can all just agree to call her a concubine. Sadly for him, even those who interpret the Bible literally are unlikely to follow what the Bible says on this issue.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.