07 April 2005
I enjoyed reading Michael's comments in light of the continuous scary craziness currently coming out of the GOP's 'Culture of Life'® wing. His post is long, but a pretty interesting read.
It's a One Class Flight:
When medieval European nobles decided they wanted to take a road trip - preferably one that would provide them with an opportunity to draw upon their core skills as rapists, plunderers and dashers-of-baby-brains-against-rocks -- they turned to the Bible for moral guidance. And, under the patient tutelage of priests and popes they discovered that God would in fact be very enthusiastically supportive of princes, barons and assorted thugs setting off to reach the big Holy Land Souvenir and Gift Shop where they hoped to pick up pieces of the True Cross.
When the Spaniards reached the New World and discovered that it was populated by people known to Christendom as "future slaves" they found in the Bible all the support they needed to carry on their holy work of slaughtering children, raping women and incinerating Aztec priests. (Granted, the Aztec priests had it coming.)
Whenever Christians have found it necessary to deal with heretics, there was the Bible, their moral guide, ready to support them in their desire to stretch an Albigensian out to twice his normal length.
And when, on occasion (about five centuries, give or take) Catholics felt it advisable to massacre Protestants, or Protestants thought it might be helpful to slaughter Catholics, both sides reached into their ever-present Bibles and came up with all the theological support they needed.
Here in the United States the Bible was in one hand and the whip in the other as slave masters drew upon holy writ to justify selling children away from their parents, working their fathers to death, raping their mothers and then, with something approaching perfect efficiency, enslaving the resulting progeny.
Run, Injuns, run, the Lord says right here in this chapter, in this very verse, that I have the right, even the moral obligation, hallelujah, to burn you out, starve you out, and hound you through forest and across plain till you're exterminated, praise be.
Put a sheet on your head, string up a black man, castrate him and set him on fire? Absolutely, and let's sing Onward Christian Soldiers as we do it.
Every foul, malicious, cruel act that pops into the mind of a believer can somehow be rationalized in biblical terms. When it comes to justifying atrocities by the faithful the Bible is everybody's bitch. And what is so lovely is that this Bible is solemnly asserted to be the eternal and unchanging word of God.
Within living memory -- in fact, within my own personal memory -- the Bible has been used to justify official racism. God apparently was very concerned that whites and blacks not share drinking fountains. And certainly they should not be marrrying and, here is the crucial point, in order to see that God's will be done, in order to make sure that the US of A stayed right with God, we needed to write and enforce laws that made it a crime for whites and blacks to commingle. Again, this was not a million years ago and far, far away. This was in my life, in this country, right here where I'm sitting in North Carolina. Thus spake the Lord in 1959: niggers keep out.
And now, fresh as we are from discovering that the unchangeable Word of God actually doesn't kind of support slavery, and maybe wasn't all that favorable on the topic of torturing heretics after all, and just possibly did not really endorse genocide (oops, sorry guys, wanna build a casino?), and gosh, who knew, didn't even call for keeping black people as a permanent underclass, Bible scholars have dipped into the big book's endless ambiguity and come up with yet another divine decree: faggots should not be marrying other faggots. Thus spake the Lord, as we clearly see in this chapter and that verse and really, there is no possibility, none, none whatever, that this time we might be wrong like we were in every other case where the Lord seemed to call for us to treat our fellow man like shit.
I'm an atheist. Unlike many of my ilk (and we are an ilk) I've actually read the Bible cover to cover. Okay, I skipped some of the begats, and I probably lingered over portions of Solomon longer than strictly necessary, but I've read the Book. And here's what I know: I can find biblical justification for shooting you as you walk out of a McDonald's carrying a cheeseburger. Literally. The Bible is quite clear on the subject of mixing meat with any other product of the same animal. Like beef and cheese. In fact, if you weighed all the biblical references to food, against all the biblical references to homosexuality, you could fairly conclude that God cares a lot more about the kitchen than he does the bedroom. And yet I've never heard off a Christian demanding that we close McDonald's. (Can we at least torture the clown?)
When I read the New Testament, or what fundamentalists refer to as "Revelations and some other stuff," what I see is Jesus beating this message: show some compassion, show some mercy, show some generosity, show some humility, and don't presume to judge your fellow man because I am God, asshole, and you are not. (I paraphrase.)
We are not a theoccracy. This is not Iran or Afghanistan. Sorry, various TV preachers, Jesus is not in the Constitution. The Bible is a religious document intended for the moral guidance of believers -- a fact which must humilate God no end. It cannot be relied on as a guide to cheeseburgers (illegal) or adultery (death penalty called for) or money lending (goodbye Citibank) or slavery (sure, why not?) or gay marriage.
As the court in California has pointed out there is no rational basis for denying marriage to gays. None. Zero. And twenty or thirty years from now the Christians and Jews who are today condemning it with Bible references will develop the same amnesia as their parent's developed on the subject of miscegenation and segregation.
This is not a Right vs. Left, Republican vs. Democrat issue. The Dems have been as contemptibly gutless as the Republicans have been nasty. The issue here is whether we have in this country two different and unequal classes of citizenship: Americans with full benefits, and Americans with something less. I consider it a moderate position to maintain that every American, whether they are Mayflower descendents or Dad just waded the Rio Grande, whether they are rich or poor, black or white or any other color, Christian, Jew, Muslim or none-of-the-above, straight or gay, is equally an American citizen.
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