Who’s afraid of whom?

Christians seem adept at compartmentalizing, or cherry-picking, their faith, so that so-called victimless beliefs like talking snakes and a person surviving in the stomach of a fish for three days can be held without evidence or anything remotely approaching common sense because they supposedly don't do anyone any harm, yet from there it is a very small, and easy, step to assuming all sorts of things without evidence — extramarital sex is bad, consensual gay sex is worse, women cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies or reproductive health (and don’t even get me started on condoms), people who read a different holy book or the same holy book “differently” or no holy book at all are our enemies and should be persecuted.  Otherwise perfectly rational people who accept the evidence for human evolution and thus that there never was a first couple in a garden who committed an "original sin" by disobeying their creator in listening to the talking snake believe that somehow we are all culpable for this act of defiance which was unforeseen by a supposedly omniscient god.

My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.
(John Dominic Crossan)

The bloodthirsty Judeo-Christian god of scripture has commanded that people be killed for working on Sunday (Exodus 31:15), sleeping with someone other than their spouse (Leviticus 20:10), having sex with someone of the same gender (Leviticus 20:13), talking back to their parents (Exodus 21:17), or exclaiming “Jesus Christ” or “goddamnit” when they stub their toe (Leviticus 24:16).  Someone who ignores these rules because of 21st century laws or mores is substituting secular morality for religious; so-called moderate or progressive Christians who still cling to the religion make a personal judgment that the word of God should not be followed in every case because to obey it would be considered illegal by most of the civilized world.  In the New Testament, Jesus makes clear these laws are still to be followed when he says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17), adding that those who do not accept his authority are to be killed (Luke 19:27).

The point is not that Christians should renew their faith by going on a killing spree.  Rather, this shows that Christians reject much of what scripture claims is right and just (and moral?) because the teachings found in the Bible are barbaric by modern standards and, in the case of all the killing, against the law.

violent Christianity

If we’re really going to confront and address dangerous religion in the modern world, if we really believe democracy is a better form of government than theocracy, if the American experiment was a true refutation of the divine right of monarchs, and if we are to be true to the principles upon which this country was founded, Christians need to look inward and face a hard truth.  Christianity is as violent a religion as there is, responsible for as much barbarism, bloodshed, and oppression as any faith tradition in the history of the world.  And the amount of terrorism perpetrated in this country and around the world by Christians is expansive and relentless.  Just ask the native or indigenous peoples who found themselves colonized by Europeans who felt entitled to their land and resources all in the name of “taming the savages” and making “disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  And for every terrifying verse ripped from the Koran about giving offense to the prophet or disrespecting Allah, I can show you two from the Bible that would give anyone reason to fear Jesus and Yahweh.

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
(Richard Dawkins)


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