Republicans don't read The Bible

Last month, the Republican Congress sought to repeal ObamaCare, slash Medicaid, and strip more than 35 million Americans of their vital healthcare.

They came one vote away from achieving that goal.   

This week they are at it again. A new, even more draconian bill is being considered in the Senate that would once again strip healthcare from millions of Americans, slash Medicaid, and eliminate pre-existing condition protections. 

What they never say is that the repeal of ObamaCare would also trigger a massive tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans. 

The Republican Congress is also attempting to pass tax reform, which they claim will simplify the tax code and give all Americans a tax cut. While this may be true, they fail to mention is that the vast majority of proposed tax cuts are for the wealthiest Americans. This effectively turns their tax cut (and the possible repeal of ObamaCare) into a massive transfer of public assets from the neediest Americans to the wealthiest Americans. 

Call me crazy, but taking healthcare away from children, the disabled, the poor, and other needy Americans while putting money back into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy strikes me as especially evil. In fact, it's exactly the kind of thing that Jesus explicitly advised against.

Read the first four books of the New Testament (or 1 Timothy), and the message is clear:

If you're wealthy, you'd better be using your good fortune to help the needy. 

Remember this often quoted bit of Scripture?

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

This comes from Matthew 19, where Jesus tells a wealthy man to sell his possessions and give to the poor if he wants to gain access to heaven.

Jesus really couldn't have been clearer on the issue. If you're wealthy, you'd best be helping the poor. 

I don't happen to be religious. I'm a reluctant atheist who wishes he believed, but in my search for faith (and because I was an English major in college) I have read The Bible cover to cover three times, and I'm absolutely certain on Jesus's views on these matter.

It's indisputable.

As a result, I can't help but seriously doubt that most Republican lawmakers have actually read the Bible. Members of the GOP are constantly citing their faith in God and appealing to groups like Evangelical Christians for support, yet their deepest, most consistent desire is to transfer wealth away from poor, working, and middle class Americans to the wealthiest Americans.

I know that Jesus preached nonviolence, but I honestly think he would punch some of these Republicans in the face for wrapping themselves in the cloak of Christianity while knowing nothing about one of it's most important tenets. 

bible.jpg

Religious folk shouldn't be filled with so much hate

A waitress with a pro-LGBTQ tattoo received this note from a customer. 

I realize I am a reluctant atheist, but in my lifetime, I have read the Bible from cover to cover three times (which is more than many ardently religious people), so I am familiar with the teachings of Jesus. 

And yes, while it would admittedly run counter to everything Jesus taught, I am fairly certain that he would at least want to punch this bigot in the nose for invoking his name in support of intolerance and hate.  

I like to think that even Jesus had his limits.

My children's personal ten commandments are beautiful, heart wrenching, and completely applicable.

My kids were studying the Ten Commandments at Hebrew School this week. As part of the lesson, they were then asked to come up with some commandments of their own. 

My daughter's commandments are beautiful. Much better than the Bible's ten commandments, which waste the first three on God's obsession with being the best and only God and forbid adultery (#7) but say nothing about rape.

Also, there's the commandment that orders that Sundays be kept holy (#4), which is ignored by almost everyone in America and is especially ridiculous during football season. 

Here are Clara's commandments. Nine in all. 

  1. Have fun!
  2. Let me tuck and kiss my brother at night.
  3. Eat good food.
  4. Have friends!
  5. Have a good education.
  6. Get good helf care. (healthcare)
  7. Do not bother me when the door is close (except at night).
  8. Be kind, respectful, and responsible every day. 
  9. Let me have flowers in my room. 

Charlie's commandments are fewer in number and much more like the commandments that his father would write. 

  1. Do not die. 
  2. Love. 

They also kind of say it all. At least for me. And brevity is the soul of wit. Right?

Serious question: Why isn't religious hypocrisy used more often against the opponents to same sex marriage?

For the last couple months, I've been writing the occasional post - titled #Biblebuffet - indicating the hypocrisy of people who oppose same sex marriage for religious reasons.

If you use The Bible to oppose same sex marriage, don't forget to execute adulterers, people who work on Sundays, and any woman engaging in premarital sex. All of these edicts are stated in The Bible just as explicitly as opposition to same sex marriage, and oftentimes within the same book of the Bible.

I was going to write another post today, but instead, I just have a question:

Why is this argument not made more often?

When someone like Ted Cruz argues against same sex marriage on religious grounds, why don't his opponents ask him why he isn't also stoning those who work on Sunday?

Or at least attempting to reinstate the Blue laws, making it illegal to conduct business on Sunday?

This seems like a perfectly logical argument to make, but I never hear it. And as someone who has read The Bible from cover to cover three times, I assure you that I could continue to write #Biblebuffet posts for years without running out of bizarre edicts and inexplicable prohibitions contained within the text.

Why not highlight the hypocrisy of bigots who hide their bigotry behind a religious text filled with equally clear prohibitions that no sane person would ever follow?

Seriously, what am I missing?

I'm also stunned that no one brings up Jesus when it comes to same sex marriage, because a complete reading of the first four books of the New Testament - the section on Jesus's life on Earth - makes sit abundantly clear that he never treat homosexual men or women with the same hatred and prejudice as people like Ted Cruz do today.

The man who opposed so many things in the Old Testament by advising his followers to turn the other cheek and "love thy neighbor as yourself" (also stating that there is no commandment greater than this) would never support these bigots and their crusade against same sex marriage.

No one ever talks about this. They allow religious zealots to treat The Bible like a breakfast buffet, picking and choosing convenient sections while ignoring others in order to support their own bigotry without ever challenging this hypocrisy. 

I want to know why. Seriously. What am I missing?

#Biblebuffet

Protip: If you're using The Bible to justify your opposition to same sex marriage, don't forget to stone to death any woman engaging in premarital sex. And not just your garden-variety stoning, either. You must gather all the people of the town at the doorstep of the woman's father and kill her there. 

God is very specific about this (Deuteronomy 22:20).

Side note:

If you are a man engaging in premarital sex, fear not. God does not condemn you to death. However, if you were engaged in premarital sex, it must logically be with either with a woman who was also engaging in premarital sex (meaning you must now stone her to death, which strikes me as awkward given the intimacy of your relationship) or with a married woman, at which point you and the married woman must both be killed.

So caution is advised.

#Biblebuffet

Protip: If you're using The Bible to justify your opposition to gay marriage, don't forget to treat all adulterers EXACTLY the same way. God makes it abundantly clear that both are equally bad. 

And if you're really being literal about your Biblical reading, please remember that you must execute anyone who has cheated on his or her spouse.

Happily, God didn't weigh in on the method of execution for this particular sin, so no need to gather stones or look up the meaning of the word "smite" in the dictionary. The method by which you murder every one of the adulterers in your life has been left to your own discretion.
Leviticus 20:10

Rose City Park Church: The sign is real, and the message is fantastic, despite my suggestions for revision.

I assumed that this sign was a fake when I saw it, but no. It's real. 

rose city park united methodist church

It's also both shocking and refreshing. As a person who would like to believe in God and an afterlife but has been unable to do so, a logical, sensible, rational message like this makes religion seem so much more accessible.

Bravo, Tom Tate and company.

I'm also a fan of the Rose City Park United Methodist Church's mission statement (even though I despise the notion of mission statements): 

The Rose City Park United Methodist Church …

 “Where we share God’s love Compassionately and Inclusively

… through Radical Hospitality.”

I could do without the ellipses (of course), but they aren't egregious enough to ruin the spirit of the message.

But it's close.

I also find it amusing that Rose City Park refers to itself as both a city and a park when it's neither. It's actually a small, overpriced (Forbes, 2009) neighborhood in northeast Portland, Oregon.  

As a person who has read the Bible cover to cover three times, I might also suggest changing the word God to Jesus on their sign. Based upon Biblical text, I am quite certain that Jesus would prefer kind atheists over hateful Christians.

The God of the Bible (and particularly the Old Testament) wasn't nearly as reasonable or rational.   

It’s a shame when people pose as Christians and give Jesus a bad name.

A Walkerton, Indiana, pizza shop is the state’s first business to declare it will not service gay weddings after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law last week.

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“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Memories Pizza’s Crystal O’Connor told a local news station. “We are a Christian establishment.”

It’s astounding that a person could claim to be following the teachings of Jesus and believe that discrimination based upon sexual orientation is something he would support.

Recently Washington Post book critic Ron Charles tweeted this:

Seriously, how do you study the Gospels and conclude that Jesus wanted his followers to turn away people they disapprove of? #Indiana

I replied to Charles, offering a possible (and probable) explanation:

In all likelihood, there has been no study of the Gospels. At best, this pizza shop owner has probably listened to out-of-context selections of the Bible, read to her on Sundays by a person who is employed by an organization that discriminates based upon sexual orientation and demands that its employees teach this doctrine to their congregants.

This does not qualify as study. At best, it amounts to biased, second-hand browsing. At worst, it’s a form of indoctrination.

Study requires a careful examination of source materials. It requires an open mind and skepticism. It requires a person to ask difficult questions and give serious consideration to opposing views.

Not exactly the way that services are typically run on a Sunday.

I am not a religious person. I call myself a reluctant atheist. I have spent a great deal of time in Catholic and Protestant Churches and attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for years, but I simply could not find the faith required to believe. I desperately want to believe in a benevolent God and a glorious afterlife, but I have yet to be able to do so.

But I have read The Bible cover to cover three times – twice in college and once on my own – and based upon those careful readings, I can conclude that there is no way in hell that Jesus would supported the position taken by this pizza shop owner.

If the pizza shop owner actually sat down and read and studied The Bible from beginning to end, the message of Jesus becomes abundantly clear. I may not believe that Jesus was the son of God, but I think he was a brilliant philosopher and teacher whose belief in accepting all people regardless of their differences is clear and profound.

Jesus – without a doubt – would stand against any opposition to same-sex marriages.

Still, I suspect that Jesus would happily eat a pizza from Memories Pizza – especially if their pizza is good – because amongst the many things that Jesus espoused was his belief in both acceptance and forgiveness.

Crystal O’Connor may be wrong about her interpretation of The Bible, and her position on same-sex marriage may be bigoted, but that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t be able to make a living. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t make good pizza. I suspect that she is probably a good person – better than me – but misled by a church that picks and chooses its Scripture in order to support its own discriminatory positions.

Let’s be honest:

Any institution that places the text of Leviticus over the teachings of Jesus can hardly be called Christian.

Owning a Canadian would be awesome.

A reader sent this to me, expecting that I would like it. I did. It’s not exactly original in its conceit, but it’s well done and quite amusing , so I thought I’d pass it along.

I’ve also listened to Laura Schlesinger and found her to be condescending and unpalatable.

_____________________________

On her radio show, Dr. Laura said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Schlesinger, written by a US citizen and posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman,
Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian.)