Passing the book

One thing I’ve noticed in connection with the Duck Dynasty brouhaha is a tendency for believers to defend their anti-gay remarks by passing the book. Passing the book is a lot like passing the buck: instead of taking responsibility for the things you do and say, you pass the blame on to someone or something else. In the case of passing the book, that “something else” is the Bible.

Here’s how it works. You don’t come right out and say, “Look, I can’t stand having people mind their own business and I want to make a big stink about people falling in love differently than I do—I want do whatever I can to interfere in their personal lives and keep them from enjoying the same rights and privileges as anyone else.” That would be refreshingly straightforward and honest, but it would make you look like a complete ass.

So instead, you pass the book. “Look,” you say, “don’t blame me, I’m just sharing what the Book says.” It’s a neat little dodge that lets you get away with saying just about any hateful slander you want, all with wide-eyed innocence and a hurt little why-are-you-picking-on-my-faith expression. Then all your fellow believers rally around you and say, “Yeah, why are you criticizing our Book? Don’t you believe in religious tolerance?” So we’re not allowed to criticize what the believer says, because he passed the book, and we’re not allowed to criticize the book, because doing so is supposedly “intolerant.”

There’s two problems with passing the book. One is that it’s fundamentally dishonest. Nobody is forcing believers to persecute and slander gays. Even the Bible doesn’t require them to persecute and slander anybody. People who persecute and slander gays are doing it because they want to, and then they pass the book in order to avoid being held accountable for their words and actions.

Secondly, believers are shooting themselves in the foot by giving the Bible a really bad name. Granted, given its contents it probably deserves a bad name, but it’s still a poor strategy on their part. The name “evangelical” arose as a replacement for “fundamentalist” because fundamentalist behavior was so bad it gave the original term a hugely negative connotation. So they changed the name to “evangelical” but kept the same behaviors, and guess what? Evangelicalism is picking up the same taint. By attributing hateful, untolerant, and unnecessary misbehavior to the Bible, believers are digging Jesus a new tomb.

I suppose that’s not a bad thing, and I’m not really surprised or displeased that believers are passing the book. I do think it’s worth pointing out to people though. Let believers go ahead blame their bigotry on the Bible. We’ll be happy to call them out for it, AND to agree that the Bible is every bit as bigoted and hateful as they say it is. Believers and their Scriptures are responsible for literally thousands of years of Judeo-Christian persecution and violence towards gays, and it’s time both were held accountable for their sins against humanity.


  1. davidct says

    When believers say that the Bible is the word of God, they are picking a nasty piece of work to worship. If by some slim chance there is a God, it’s going to be really pissed.

  2. says

    When believers say “it’s in the bible” they are ignoring the trap Plato (via Socrates) laid for them long before christianity was invented. By passing the book they are basically saying they are willing to be irresponsible peons obeying god’s arbitrary dictates – no moral position that. It failed at Nuremberg and it fails still.

  3. ekwhite says

    I like the term “passing the book.” As you know, Deacon, these bigots are mighty selective in which passages in the bible they pay attention to. I like the strategy of calling them on using their holy book to justify bigotry.

  4. says

    Marcus @2:

    Exactly. I’ve butted up against this wall in a couple conversations. And I objected to the validity of “Just following orders” to e met with silence. Absolutely no response whatsoever.

  5. says

    We’ll be happy to call them out for it, AND to agree that the Bible is every bit as bigoted and hateful as they say it is.

    On the flip side of things, I find your more liberal/tolerant believers quite obnoxious as they line up to defend the bible. With…reasons. They, not surprisingly, do not go into much detail. I saw one complain about Robertson cherry-picking from the bible. That’s really all they said, which left me to wonder how he apparently thinks he doesn’t do the same thing. (And how does he explain those horrid verses of the bible?) Or, on ABC’s This Week, it was Donna Brazile claiming that he has an “ignorant use of the bible.” Really? How so is what I’d like to know?

  6. rpjohnston says

    Inventing an imaginary friend who’s always right and omnipotent so you hafta do what he says is what children do to avoid responsibility. Supporting your beliefs with Reasons is hard. Justifying your beliefs by Yourself lacks weight. But if your Skydaddy can beat everybody else up then you can just steamroll through everything and everybody without worry. That’s what’s at the heart of “passing the book”: A refusal to grow the hell up and take responsibility for their life and even their own BELIEFS like a damned adult.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    Marcus Ranum @ 2 and A Waterchapel @ 4

    Apologetic assholes like William Lane Craig and Doug Wilson are very fond of “just following orders” excuse (i.e. Divine Command Theory) since their deity could never possibly give an evil order. (“It’s not in his character,” they say.) if we find Noah’s flood or Moses and Joushua’s genocidal nature hike appalling, we’re just operating on “fallen” moral instincts rather their god’s “perfect” moral reasoning.

  8. naturalcynic says

    it was Donna Brazile claiming that he has an “ignorant use of the bible.” Really? How so is what I’d like to know?

    By picking out and claiming that one particular verse [or law] is so important while breaking a number of other laws. Betcha he eats mudbugs, for instance.
    Or, to correct the pphrase in cynical terms, “ignorant use of the Bible”

  9. Howard Bannister says

    Call me slow, but I just now noticed you had started blogging again after your break. Hurrah, sez I! (saith I?)

  10. steve78b says

    If you eat the bible and then “pass the book” it will be in a more useful form. ****flush*****

    “Thats not me talking,… thats in the bible”

    “I was only following orders”

    ONE of the many reasons I don’t watch Duck Dynasty or any of the other “reality” shows.


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