What your Sunday School did not teach you

Many of the stories in the Bible are simply appalling, recounting awful behavior by god against people and people against people. But because of a successful whitewashing effort by the church and its followers, people have managed to hide or sugarcoat the worst elements of the stories.

Fellow Ftb Blogger Dana Hunter has done us all a service by publishing a book titled Really Terrible Bible Stories that eliminates all the camouflage and tells it like it is. And this is just volume 1 that deals only with the book of Genesis.

As an example, you can read her rendering of the story of Jacob. He is of course famous for his dream of a ladder that went up to heaven that angels used to go up and down but his sexual exploits are less well known though far more interesting. His life gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘family values’.

This is the book that the Bible-thumping crowd tells us lays out the moral standard that we should uphold. I wonder if those who argue that America has gone to hell ever since the Bible was removed from schools actually want their children to read this stuff. It may be that some of the Bible’s advocates have only read the Bowdlerized or children’s versions and have no idea what the book really contains.

On the other hand, I am sure that children would have paid a lot more attention in Sunday School if these stories had been part of the curriculum.


  1. thewhollynone says

    Spot on! I have thought the same since I was about 8, but my culture forbade me to “criticize” and so I figured that I must be wrong and somehow a weird person. You, as I understand it, did not grow up in a Biblical or Christian/Jewish culture, so you were better able to see those stories more clearly. Were you as able to decipher the myths of your own childhood culture? Aided perhaps by the “genes” which have promoted your more scientific methods of thinking?

  2. anat says

    But Jacob made the robe of many colors for Joseph.

    Anyway, in Israel kids read many of the horrible stories. They are very easy for a child to dismiss. So Abraham nearly killed Isaac? But he didn’t, and there was that ram, so all was good, right?

  3. Mano Singham says

    Actually, I had realized my error and corrected it but forgot to hit the update button before posting! I have done so now.

  4. Mano Singham says


    Actually I grew up in a Christian household and read the Bible but like so many others, the horrors of the stories were hidden from me.

  5. raven says

    Most of what I learned in Sunday school and church turned out to just be wrong or imaginative explanations for the horrors of the bible. This was a progressive Protestant sect, so they whitewashed the bible as much as they could.

    They didn’t pay much attention to the Old Testament and Revelation was treated like the crazy uncle locked in the basement that no one talked about.

    Revelation started me on the way out of xianity though. One day in church and bored, I started reading it at age 7 or 8. The bible was supposed to be a magic book and Revelation the roadmap of the future. A magic book that lays out the future, how cool is that?

    I read a few pages and decided it was gibberish. So much for the magic book. I’ve since read Revelation a few times. It’s still gibberish.

  6. raven says

    I saw a list recently of why people leave xianity. The bible was on it.

    Xians claim the bible is a magic book. It is actually a kludgy, contradictory mess of obsolete morality that has little to say that is worthwhile for modern people.

    This was known millennia ago. The fundies hate biblical scholarship for documenting the atrocities, fiction, and contradictions. The Roman Pagans said the same thing though. The Catholic church also knew it. They resisted translating the bible into English and burned the first English translator, Tynsdale, at the stake.

  7. doublereed says

    I grew up Jewish where we actually learn about a lot of Genesis so I’ve heard that story. Though the way I learned it was less about talking about whether things are good or bad and more just discussing them. It’s not like anyone is necessarily a ‘good guy’ or role model the way I learned it. It was learned more as a historical/parable idea. And learning about the misogyny of tribal times I think is rather important because many people take modern values for granted.

    In fact I remember being rather disturbed/fascinated by Jacob’s whole story, because it paints a major Jewish patriarch as a deceiver. And all I could think about is how Anti-Semites, Nazis, and such often portray Jews (the progeny of Jacob) in this traitorous, untrustworthy fashion. I’ve never actually heard Jacob’s stories used in that way, but it’s a bit of strange cognitive dissonance to view Jewish stories as Anti-Semitic.

  8. anat says

    doublereed, the authors of Genesis are open about Jacob’s name meaning (or could be taken for meaning) deceiver. He deceives his brother and his father, and in turn is deceived by his father in law and later by his sons. Though Genesis doesn’t outright condemn deception -- if those are the means you have to get by and you manage to get away with it -- all the best. Though be warned that there may be consequences later on down the road.

  9. Friendly says

    When I was a Christian lay leader, I taught the fifth- and sixth-grade Sunday school class for a few months. One fine morning I decided that they could handle learning a little about the Song of Solomon. Boy oh boy, were their preteen eyes bugging out by the time we were done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *