Oo, wicked

Here’s a headline that gives a bit of pause.

Atheist Group to Rip Up Bible Passages on Saturday

Mixed feelings, eh? I mean, I’ve got no compunctions about the Bible being a holy book or anything, but on the other hand, book ripping isn’t really all that different from book burning. But read the details.

An Orange County, Calif. atheist group plans to put on a demonstration Saturday afternoon in which they will rip up sections of the Bible that they deem “immoral.”

Though they won’t be tearing pages straight out of a book, members of Backyard Skeptics, OC’s largest atheist organization, plans to rip up photocopies of the Scriptures on the Huntington Beach pier.

Brilliant! They found a way to express their disapproval of significant Scriptural passages, without giving in to the temptations of censorship and oppression. They claim that they’re not out to offend anyone (yeah, right), but that they’re hoping to educate people. Don’t apologize, guys—outrageousness is what gets their attention. If Rush Limbaugh went out of his way to avoid offending people, we’d be referring to him as “Rush who??”

And it looks like this stunt is already producing some very educational results. See below the fold for the Christian response.

Ray Comfort leads the charge by jumping straight into moral relativism and abandoning the Old Testament—let the Jews have it, we don’t want it any more.

Ray Comfort, an evangelist who does open-air preaching in Huntington Beach… says that Gleason’s organization is ignoring some very important issues.

“I think we need to take the log out of our own eye before we look at a culture 3,000 years ago, and take portions of their civil law and try to apply them to America somehow, and blame Christians for Jewish Scriptures,” he said in an interview with The Christian Post.

Yes, it’s so unfair of atheists to blame the Christian God for what the Jewish God commanded his followers to do under the guise of giving them a Law that the Apostle Paul, in the New Testament, called “holy and righteous and good.” How dare we claim that there’s anything wrong with stoning a Jewish girl to death if her husband is not convinced of her virginity on their wedding night?

But don’t worry, Jesus loves atheists, and so does Ray.

“Atheists are a very, very tiny minority, but very loud. They’re like chihuahuas. They’re yappy little creatures because they’ve got an inferiority complex,” he said.

I notice he didn’t bring up the topic of projection…

Fear not, atheists, Backyard Skeptics founder Bruce Gleason is ready to fire back with a witty retort.

“There are a lot of good portions of the Bible,” says Gleason, though he finds value in some of the Scriptures because of the principles they share, not because he believes it is the revealed Word of God.

“I’m doing this to make this a better world. I feel that reason, science, and critical thinking will do much more than prayer and belief,” Gleason said of this weekend’s event.

Hmm, calm, tolerant, and reasonable? Is that how unbelievers respond when they’re mocked and insulted by evangelists? Who’d have thought? But Comfort gets in one last dig or two.

Gleason says they are targeting the Bible because there are more Christians in America than there are people of other religions, but Comfort says that his thinking isn’t fair.

“If he wants to make a point he needs to go after all religion, not just Christianity,” said Comfort.

Funny, a minute ago they were only attacking the Jewish Scriptures. Now it’s Christians?

He also said that his hope was that, ultimately, atheists would turn toward God.

“Many atheists don’t realize this, but we love them. We’re concerned for them. We want to see them come to know God and his forgiveness.”

God, unfortunately, was not available to comment on His views regarding the Backyard Skeptics. Apparently, HE doesn’t care as much as Ray does.

Think about it.



  1. noahsarkive says

    How dare we claim that there’s anything wrong with stoning a Jewish girl to death if her husband is not convinced of her virginity on their wedding night?

    Indeed the Jewish Talmud asks this very question. The Talmud seeks to devolve a process that would represent some measure of justice. The question also reveals a weakness in many secular arguments against harsh punishments for scriptural transgression.

    In the case of an indiscreet virgin, there are very high legal hurdles that must be overcome before it becomes a capital offense. According to Talmud/Halacha (Jewish Law)
    1) This is not mob rule, it is a legal proceeding before the court.
    2) The transgression must be witnessed by two independent and credible witnesses who must also warn the transgressor afore-hand and do what they can to stop the offender. (Since sexual crimes usually occur in private, this is a pretty unlikely scenario.)
    3) The court must refer the matter to a court that has the power to impose a death sentence.
    4) The witnesses are to act as the executioners! They must actually be the first to lay their hands on the offenders as proof of commitment to their accusations. Should they demur, the sentence is commuted.

    All of the above in contrast should the husband as plaintiff instead seek damages from his putative wife in violation of the Ketubah – the marriage contract. Very much like current law, the standard of proof in a civil proceeding is much lower than a criminal one. He would seek to have his bride price returned and the contract annulled.

    One should note that the bride has no similar recourse – male infidelity is not a crime in scriptures or Talmud.

    I don’t consider the Talmud or Jewish law to be ‘sacred’. I find it historically important and interesting. My point is that secularists or atheists (and I include myself in that group) should engage in a more sophisticated arguments than literal quotes from scripture as defining religious law.

    After all, isn’t that what fundamentalists do?

    • Deacon Duncan says

      I think there’s plenty of room for more sophisticated discussion when (and if) more sophisticated objections are raised. In the meantime I think the Backyard Skeptics are doing a pretty good job of highlighting an awareness of the Bible’s moral deficiencies.

      What the literal quote establishes is that the Bible itself attributes a moral standard to God that is clearly repugnant. That the Jews themselves found it necessary to surround the Torah with elaborate safeguards and contingencies only goes to show the inadequacy of the original “revelation.” If the Law could not administer justice in a fair and moral manner without these extra additions, why shouldn’t God have been the one to add them? Clearly, we not only can exceed the morality we find dictated in the Scriptures, as the ancient rabbis did, but we risk being guilty of negligence if we fail to do so. The Bible, on its own, is a false and untrustworthy guide.

    • mikespeir says

      So that’s what passes for sophisticated theology, huh? It looks more like misdirection to me. What Christian cites the Talmud as “the Word of God”? Why should it be considered authoritative? If it is, why isn’t all that stuff in the Bible itself? And in the end, who cares? It says what it says. It says to stone her to death; and I’m to take that as some kind of euphemism for, maybe, “annulment”? Strange way to put it. “Moses” couldn’t have said what he meant? Even I give him more credit than that.

      That some Christians today work to “tone down” the obvious barbarity of certain Bible passages, just as the embarrassed ancient Jews did, doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s still barbaric. I’m too sophisticated to be distracted by this species of “sophistication.”

  2. noahsarkive says

    …attributes a moral standard to God that is clearly repugnant…show the inadequacy of the original “revelation.” …why shouldn’t God have been the one to add them?

    What is all this God business? The bible was written and canonized by men over a period of what most hagiographers say was a millennium; hardly a ‘revelation’. (It’s not even clear that it existed in the form we know it today before the Hebrews conquered Canaan.)

    So some religious authority declaimed that a man could charge his non-virgin bride with a capital crime. Other authorities said ‘Hey, wait a minute, we have to administer this law and that’s really problematic.’ So they created legal impediments to its implementation. (And yes, by the way, rabbinical apologists claim that the oral law – the Talmud – was given by God to Moses at Mt. Sinai. So they’ve got that covered.)

    I was not objecting to Backyard Skeptics – as you point out, constructive outrage is useful – I was objecting to YOUR argument.

    Unless I’m mistaken, we both agree that moral authority does not derive from a ‘sacred’ book, they derive from our genes and our social history. It’s not the bible that’s immoral, it’s the insane fundie wingnuts who take scripture as literal truth and attempt to implement it unalloyed.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      The point of the exercise is to draw out the fact that the available evidence is inconsistent with the assumption that there is a divine Being Who is the source of moral authority, which He imparts to us through divine revelation as recorded in the scriptures. I realize that you do not need this pointed out to you personally, of course, but I felt like it was worth saying anyway, as a more general comment.

  3. mywall says

    “Many atheists don’t realize this, but we love them. We’re concerned for them. We want to see them come to know God and his forgiveness.”

    Fuck you, Mr Comfort! I mean that. False pity is one of the worst lies a person can use. It is an attempt to invalidate the position of an opponent by presenting it as a horrible plight, possibly even an externally imposed circumstance. All while appering sympathetic. I hope other readers of the articles saw through this pathetic cheap shot.
    On a positive note, good luck to the demonstration, it sounds like fun.


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