The Bible’s Long, Proud History of God’s Broken Promises

NoahsworldRadio preacher Bryan Fischer wants us all to relax about the impact of climate change because God promised not to wipe us out ever again!

Who can forget when this all-loving, though at times lethally capricious, God decide it was a great idea to wipe all but eight of us out:

And the Lord said, “I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth.”—Genesis 6:7

But God would never change his mind and destroy us all again, right? We have his word:

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, then I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures of all kinds. Never again will the waters become a flood and destroy all living things. —Genesis 9:14-15

So Bryan Fischer tells us that rainbows prove that sea levels won’t disastrously rise.

The Bible is full of all sorts of promises. Before we take comfort in God’s rainbow reassurance, let’s see how reliable other Bible promises have proven to be.

In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”
—Genesis 15:18

Yeah, about that…God now regrets overpromising the land of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq which he technically didn’t own at the time.

I will make Egypt the most desolate country in the world. For 40 years Egypt’s cities will lie in ruins. They will be ruined more than any other city. —Ezekiel 29:12

Never happened. And yes, there are more desolate countries.

God bringeth to nought the designs of the malignant.
—Job 5:12

The Lord will not allow a righteous person to starve.
—Proverbs 10:3

If women go on in faith and love and holy self-control, she will be kept safe at the time of childbirth. —1 Timothy 2:12,15

If there is poison in their drink, it will do them no evil. They will put their hands on those who are ill, and they will get well. —Mark 16:17-18

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
—Matthew 5:5

You may not have noticed, but the meek are still waiting. One day they may get the courage to hire a good lawyer and then we’ll finally hear their demands for this unfulfilled promise.

If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
—Matthew 18:19

Will anybody out there on earth agree with me that I should have a dune buggy?

There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
—Matthew 16:28

Some olive trees are over 2,000 years old, so Jesus may still have some time. (Tick, tock, Jesus!)

I will not be angry forever. —Jeremiah 3:12

Mine anger, it shall burn forever. —Jeremiah 17:4

One of these promises is sure to come true!

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised.
—Hebrews 11:13

Ouch! Thanks, Bible, for calling us all suckers!

It’s one thing to point out the irresponsible preaching of Bryan Fischer (who by the way is the only Christian who’s Christian enough to call for the stoning of a killer whale).

(This is also the guy who “proved” America is a Christian nation because it sells bacon! You don’t have to be much smarter than a canned ham to comprehend that it only proves that we’re a salted-and-cured-pork-product-loving nation.)

But more importantly, understanding the false promises of the Bible could give people a healthier perspective on a wide range of issues, from childbearing and handling snakes to the power (or not) of prayer and land wars in the Middle East.

Maybe if we got two people together who would agree to ask for peace in the Middle East…it’s just so crazy it might not work!

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

SCOTUS’s Big FU to JC

SupremeandSupremeIt’s not every day that the US Supreme Court gets an amicus brief from their Lord and Savior. Even more surprising is that conservative Christian justices would ignore Jesus’ opinion so completely, as was the case in their Town of Greece, NY v. Galloway decision of May 2014.

My strong suspicion is that Jesus has no immediate plans of coming back to Earth, otherwise he couldn’t have picked a better time to appear as a surprise witness at the Supreme Court reminding the “Christians” that Christian public prayer is an oxymoron, the very definition of “UN-Christian.”

When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. —Matthew 6:5

But wait, Jesus isn’t done yet:

But when you make your prayer, go into your private room, and, shutting the door, say a prayer to your Father in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward. —Matthew 6:6

Pretty clearly the Son of God and King of Kings says only pray in “your private room” where you’re not “seen by men.”

But if Jesus says you can’t pray at your city council meeting, where else could you possibly pray? This time Jesus leads by example:

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. —Luke 5:16

In every gospel, Jesus heads off to the desert or the mountain to pray. That’s fine for him, but he never quite imagined his followers would eventually number in the billions. It really is impractical to start your governmental meeting with a quick trip to the desert.

The “Ceremonial” Argument

The 5-4 decision, by and for conservative Christians, claims that these prayers are acceptable since they are “ceremonial” and “part of the Nation’s heritage and tradition.”

As is often the case, these religious prayers or governmental references to God are claimed to be harmlessly “ceremonial” or “patriotic.” But yet at the same time the prayers are fiercely defended by the religious majority. So which is it? Are they negligibly religious or deeply meaningful and important to the believers?

It is just way too convenient that on this one issue these prayers and phrases are decreed to perfectly straddle the line between meaningful and meaningless. Meaningful enough to continue, but not meaningful enough for non-believers to complain about.

To get a sense of how “ceremonial” the Greece, NY prayers were, here are a few quotes from the prayers that were featured in Justice Kagan’s dissent:

Prayers evoking “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross,” “the plan of redemption that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ,” “the life and death, resurrection and ascension of the Savior Jesus Christ,” the workings of the Holy Spirit, the events of Pentecost, and the belief that God “has raised up the Lord Jesus” and “will raise us, in our turn, and put us by His side.”

The amicus brief from the Freedom from Religion Foundation reminds us that the American “traditions” of miscegenation and sodomy laws had been on the books for a ling time, but that “a longstanding practice can simply be a longstanding violation.”

“We do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” leads to this reasoning from Warren Burger’s 1986 (!) Bowers v. Hardwick opinion:

[H]omosexual conduct ha[s] been subject to state intervention throughout the history of Western civilization. Condemnation of those practices is firmly rooted in Judeao-Christian moral and ethical standards. . . . To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.

Religious Lack of Empathy

Why then are so many (though definitely not all!) Christians unwilling or unable to imagine how it would feel to be a religious outsider when public prayers are being said?

With any religion, just like with any sports team, there is an in-group who shares your core beliefs, and an out-group who doesn’t. What always amazes me is the callous attitude some believers have about the effect of their public prayers on their fellow citizens who don’t share their religious beliefs. What kind of religion does not teach and foster empathy, the ability and willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective? Either that message just does not get through to some congregants, or some churches don’t see it as a priority.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled this month that the phrase “under God” could stay in the Pledge of Allegiance when public school students are told to recite it. Again, their attitude toward these children is fairly callous: “Participation is entirely voluntary,” as if to assume there is no downside for a child who sits out the Pledge of Allegiance on religious or constitutional grounds.

Which brings us to Bible Funmentionables’ Core Principle #3: If your religion makes you a better person—more empathetic, understanding and accepting of others—then great! If your religion allows or encourages you to be hateful, self-righteous, and intolerant of your fellow human beings who are just trying to get along on this planet, you may have missed the point of your religion entirely.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Throw a Reporter “Off This F—ing Balcony” Day

BalconyAN OPEN LETTER TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

On January 28, 2014, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) issued a direct verbal threat to a reporter inside the Capitol building by saying “I’ll break you in half” and “throw you off this f—ing balcony,” which was a direct violation of D.C. law (District of Columbia Official Code, Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle I, Chapter 4, § 22-407).

Threats to do bodily harm.

Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than $ 500 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, in addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, may be required to give bond to keep the peace for a period not exceeding 1 year.

Rep. Grimm was never arrested for his actions, and Congress has taken no punitive action against him. By its inaction, the US Congress is essentially condoning a Congressperson’s right to threaten to kill average Americans, though conversely, when average Americans threaten the life of a public official, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In keeping with this double standard and to codify for all time this special status, I propose the following:

RESOLUTION

Expressing support for designation of January 28, annually, as “Throw a Reporter “Off This F—ing Balcony” Day”.

Whereas Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) has never been expelled, censured, or even reprimanded by Congress after he threatened to kill a reporter who displeased him by throwing the reporter off a balcony inside the Capitol and to break the reporter in half: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, that Congress–

(1) decrees the designation of “Throw a Reporter ‘Off This F—ing Balcony’ Day” (also known as “Break a Boy in Half Day”);

(2) allows, and indeed encourages, each Congressperson to threaten to do bodily harm up to and including death threats to any one (1) reporter or other American citizen or resident alien who displeases the Congressperson;

(3) denies the right to make such threats to another Congressperson or member of the current power structure including influential or potentially influential staffers, donors, lobbyists, or government contractors. Making threats on any day of the year outside of January 28th is forbidden and may result in having to issue an “If I offended anyone…” type of half-assed apology; and

(4) establishes that no Congressperson shall ever be expelled, censured, reprimanded, in any way criticized, or given the evil eye for threatening to kill a reporter who would have the gall to ask a difficult question that might actually help inform the voting public.

Please sign the White House petition to bring this issue to their attention.

As this is the Bible Funmentionables blog, I offer the following passages which lend biblical support to the idea of breaking your enemies and throwing them down to their deaths. (illustrating the Bible Funmentionables’ Core Principle #5: In American politics, nothing trumps a well reasoned political argument like a quote from the Bible.)

Break the arm of the wicked and evil man. —Psalm 10:15

And Indian burns to the mischievous.

I will break you in pieces, and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel. —Jeremiah 25:34

Questionable translations make for the most perplexing analogies.

The army of Judah captured another 10,000 men and took them to the top of a cliff and threw them off, dashing them to pieces on the rocks below. —2 Chronicles 25:12

At some point wouldn’t they not be landing on rocks anymore?

Throw her down!” Jehu yelled. So they threw Jezebel out the window, and her blood spattered against the wall and on the horses and Jehu trampled her body under his horses’ hooves. —2 Kings 9:33

The Bible rarely leaves out a pointlessly gory detail.

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the boy. Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. —Revelation 12:13-14

The book of Revelation probably made sense once upon a time, and times, or maybe it was just half a time.

Now I have always been reluctant to believe that we have what you would call a Ruling Class in this country—a political establishment that is collectively more concerned about holding on to their own positions of power and sources of wealth than they are about the welfare of the country as a whole. When a reporter can be given a death threat by a sitting a Congressman annoyed by his question (in the Capitol and with cameras rolling, for God’s sake!) and there is no official reprimand, it begs the question: Do we now have an American Ruling Class that prefers to operate by its own set of rules, that expects not to be held accountable by an inquiring press, and that is more responsive to the needs of big money donors which keep the Ruling Class in power than to average Americans?

The answer to that question is revealed daily by the actions and inactions of those in power.

Please Sign the Petition here!

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Could Christians Become Erotic Cake Baking Slaves?

yummy-rainbow-cakeEvidently some conservative Christians have completely run out of actual things to fear.

Judson Phillips, the president of Tea Party Nation, worries that without the ability to discriminate against gays, Christians may become “slaves” who could be “required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it.”

You would have to be the world’s worst slave owner, or the most profligate anyway, to use the slaves at your disposal just to create erotic wedding cakes—as if people do that for weddings! I don’t want to know what else Phillips thinks goes on at gay weddings.

Which brings us to Bible Funmentionables Core Principle #7: Whenever people make really outrageous and irrational statements about others, it’s quite likely that they are projecting their own suppressed desires and emotions.

For example, some state lawmakers claim, contrary to all the evidence, that there is rampant voter fraud. They assume their opponents are the ones doing this fraud, which in fact they themselves would like to be doing. They then prove their desire to commit voter fraud by passing voter suppression laws.

But let’s let God’s word itself weigh in on the controversy and see what the Bible has to say about cake making:

Isaiah ordered, “Get a fig cake.” So they did as he ordered and placed it on the ulcerated sore, and he recovered. —2 Kings 20:7

Fig cakes on a sore: good advice at the time when you compare it to other more harmful cures, but what about those slave-baked penis cakes?

For a harlot consumeth unto a cake of bread, and an adulteress the precious soul hunteth. —Proverbs 6:26

In other words, a prostitute will only cost you the price of a loaf of bread, but sleep with some other guy’s wife and it could cost you your life. Finally, some practical advice from Proverbs which most guys never hear about until it’s too late.

And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with human excrement in their sight. Then he said to me, “Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread with them.” —Ezekiel 4:12,15

Newer translations make it very clear that the dung is for fuel purposes only, not part of the ingredients. Either way, ewwww!

So evidently the Bible is agnostic on the issue of whether it’s okay to a snake cake baker, although it has plenty to say about how great slavery is.

Arizona bill SB1062, which was vetoed, is a political/religious Rorschach test: To conservative Christians it’s a matter of freedom of conscience: doing business for a gay wedding is condoning an abomination unto the Lord (which I’ll get into in a future post). To others it’s a violation of gays’ civil liberties.

Whenever you’re demanding your right to refuse service/discriminate against another group, you can usually find some kind of biblical support for your position, but increasingly, you may find that much of the rest of society is moving on to a more charitable and inclusive way of seeing the world. Let’s not tell Judson Phillips.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Put Down the Damn Snakes!: The Top 12 Gospel Edits Jesus Will Make If and When He Returns (Part 1)

6a00d83451586c69e200e54f2cca758834-800wiMillions of eager earthlings await Jesus’ return to his home planet (in this lifetime if you don’t mind!). In case you haven’t been following current events, Jesus has snubbed this earthly invite for about 1,985 years, assuming a 4 BC birth. By the way, this was Jesus’ first and mostly under-appreciated miracle: Christ being born four years before Christ.

So when Jesus finally does experience terrestrial gravity again, it will be the perfect opportunity to once and for all clarify his message, which in the past has allowed for conflicting interpretations that have led to fistfights, schisms, the occasional war, and The Life of Brian. Okay one out of four ain’t bad.

So without further ado, and without express written consent of God or Major League Baseball, here are Jesus’ Top 12 Gospel Edits:

1. And these signs will be with those who have faith…They will take up snakes, and if there is poison in their drink, it will do them no evil. —Mark 16:17-18

JHC: I gotta start with this quotation because I never said it! (I know that surprises a lot of people.) So put down the damn snakes, people! And don’t drink poison! Poison bad!

This verse wasn’t even in Mark’s first draft. It was added later, maybe by someone trying to create demand in the normally un-lucrative poisonous snake business.

So let’s make a new First Commandment, even before “Love the Lord your God and your neighbor etc.” and it’s this: “First and foremost, use your brain.” Period. I don’t want to read any more news stories of snake handlers dying in my name. You’re not dying for your faith or lack of faith, you’re dying for your gullibility and lack of common sense. Sometimes I wish my followers weren’t such a bunch of followers. Hey, and a shout out to all my non-snake handling followers, way to think things through! Ironically, I have more faith in you than in those uber-faithful snake handlers.

2. But I say to you that whoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye shall cause thee to sin, pluck it out…and if thy right hand shall cause thee to sin, cut it off. —Matthew 5:28-30

JHC: Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed because I really don’t even remember saying this one. Some of my “biographers” sure seem to have had their own agendas. It sounds like I’m condemning all men with a healthy libido to a life of monoscopic vision and one-handed clapping. Updated it would sound like this: “If you look lustfully at a woman, just relax, and do not pluck out or chop off anything! Lust is a very natural thing and quite possibly the reason you are here today. Just focus on finding a partner who’s into you and into what you’re into.” Clear enough?

3. Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” —Matthew 8:21-22

JHC: Wow, sounds like I was a bit stressed out that day. I sure did know how to throw out a catchy soundbite though, didn’t I? I do think this was one of my funnier lines. But since most people don’t seek out a messiah for his jocularity, let’s go with something more practical like “Bury the dead as you must, and then return to the business of living.” I sound like much less of a jerk that way, don’t I? Oh yeah, I still got it.

To be continued…

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

When You ASS-U-ME the Bible Will Give You the Right Answer…

GogAndMagogI am repeatedly shocked by how often the Wall Street Journal runs ill-conceived and plainly second-rate op-eds on their editorial pages. As long as your political philosophy aligns with the editorial board, they seem willing to run just about anything. So when I read this, I couldn’t keep myself away from the B-fun blog.

Tevi Troy’s assertion that many American Presidents have been influenced by the Bible (“The Presidential Bible Class”) was as inarguable as it was superficial. It left unasked two vital questions: Have presidential Bible consultations yielded universally positive results? and Should the Bible be relied upon as an unerring counsel for political leaders?

To answer the first question we need only travel back in time to 2003 to recall the account of former French President Jacques Chirac who claimed President Bush tried to convince him to join the invasion of Iraq because “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East.” Gog and Magog are not Mr. Magoo’s adorable nephews, but rather they are creatures prophesied in the Book of Revelation to bring destruction upon Israel. Given that a recent Gallup poll shows that 53% of Americans believe that invading Iraq was a mistake, we may have been better served if Bush had studied more about the tensions between Shiites and Sunnis and worried less about Gog and Magog.

A one-time US Senator and Secretary of War once said, “It (slavery) was established by decree of Almighty God and is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments from Genesis to Revelation.” The author of this quote was also a President of sorts: the Confederate States’ President Jefferson Davis.

Slavery is famously not outlawed in the Bible with passages like

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling.” —Ephesians 6:5

and

“Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters.” —Titus 2:9

That could explain that despite being fully aware of the Bible, 10 of the first 10 US Presidents (who were not named Adams) owned slaves at some point in their lives. But that was a different time. No politician today would really think the Bible meant what it said about slavery, right? Well there is the case of state representative Loy Mauch of Arkansas who claimed in 2012,

“If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it?”

So consulting the Bible has been no guarantor of inerrant advice for past politicians. But is there a place for the Bible as an aide in informing today’s weighty political issues?

In my own study of the Bible, I have endeavored to catalogue the most surprising and arcane passages of the Old and New Testaments, and I discovered that for every Bible verse used to support a given political opinion, it was not difficult to find a verse that would support just the opposite.

There are the more lighthearted contradictions:

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing.” —Proverbs 18:22

and

“It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” —1 Corinthians 7:1

Then there are the confusing directives:

“Even so let your light shine before men.” —Matthew 5:16

and

“Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men.” —Matthew 6:1

Some are deeply theological:

“The Father is greater than I am.” —John 14:28

and

“I and my Father are one.” —John 10:30

And others have important public policy ramifications:

“Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” —Luke 18:22

and

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” —John 12:8

When I combed through every single saying of Jesus in the gospels looking for those with either a hint of liberal or conservative sentiments, I was surprised to find that Jesus was not wholly one or the other, though by my count his liberal-leaning statements outnumbered his conservative ones by a ration of 2 to 1. Given this mixed message in the gospels, what does it mean to rely upon the Bible as a source of political inspiration. Rather than hearing one consistent message, it seems highly likely that one would be tempted to seek out those verses that conform to one’s preexisting ideology also known as confirmation bias. When is the last time you heard a politician say that even though it goes completely against their political leanings, the Bible made them change a deeply held belief.

I mention this as a cautionary tale. Being well-versed in the Bible does not necessarily equal unparalleled political decision-making. Even Abraham Lincoln understood his limited ability to discern the ideal course of action when he said,

“My concern is not whether God is on our side. My greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The Beatles Foretold: The 12 Bible Verses That Prophesied the Coming of The Beatles!

BeatlesForetoldYou say you want a Revelation!

On the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ First Coming to America, the Bible verses that predicted the incarnation of The Beatles are finally coming to light:

1. He sendeth among them the beetle. —Psalm 78:45
2. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. —John 1:6
3. John spoke out against the ruler. —Luke 3:19
4. Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region. —Acts 18:23
5. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted. —Acts 14:11
6. He kept silent and did not answer. —Mark 14:61
7. A man of understanding remains silent. —Proverbs 11:12
8. And I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. —Ezekiel 16:12
9. As to these four lads, God hath given to them knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature, and wisdom. —Daniel 1:17
10. They will be holy. They must let their hair grow long. —Numbers 6:5
11. And Jesus came down with them to a level place, and a great band.” —Luke 6:17
12. Upon this rock I will build my church. —Matthew 16:18

Eerily accurate or extraordinarily unerring? The answer seems obvious.The Beatles Bigger Than Jesus

This may appear to be a frivolous exercise in cherry-picking Bible verses to fit a predetermined narrative, but in much the same way, the gospel writers scoured the Hebrew Bible to find quotes that “prophesied” Jesus’ life and death (coincidentally about 50 years afterwards). The gospel writers misquoted the Bible, took quotes out of context, and distorted Jesus’ biography to create their “prophecies.” And while fundamentalist Christians would scoff at the Beatles Prophesy above, they frequently point to the Jesus “prophecies” as proof that the Bible is true.

Which brings us to the Bible Funmentionables Core Principle #6:

If your holy scriptures can “prove” either side of any issue, it’s not really proof at all.

Now excuse me while I get back to my Bible to definitively prove that the Walrus really was the most ironically named member of the Beatles, Pete Best.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

And the B-Fun’s Pope of the Year Award Goes to…

PopeoftheYearThe winner of the 2013 Triple (Pointy) Crown—Time’s Person of the Year, Esquire’s Best Dressed Man of 2013 (Really!), AND Bible Funmentionable’s prestigious Pope of the Year Award—is former the chemical technician and bouncer, the BA from Buenas Aires, Pope Francis!

Granted, choosing Pope Benedict instead of Francis was about as likely as Obama winning Constitutional Law Professor of the Year. But Frances earned this award the way Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize—by having the guy in the job before you suck so bad in comparison.

What did he do that made headlines?

• He chose to not wear red shoes. (So did I, but am I Pope? [SDIBAIP])

• As archbishop he cooked his own meals. (SDIBAIP)

• He paid his hotel bill. (SDIBAIP)

• He took the bus. (SDIBAIP)

So he didn’t become Pope of the Year from those facts alone. Let’s try another list:

What did Pope Francis say that was apontifical? (And even angered conservative Catholics)

• “Proselytism is solemn nonsense”

• “If someone is gay…who am I to judge?”

• “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.”

• “An economy of exclusion and inequality…kills.”

• “Trickle-down theories …(have) never been confirmed by the facts.”

• “There are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites.”

• “I like it when someone tells me ‘I don’t agree.”

• “Every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not.”

• “I love tango.”

Since I have lampooned Pope Benedict in the past, I felt it was necessary to give Pope Francis credit where credit is due. When a church leader at the Pope’s level publicly seeks to find common ground with non-believers and non-Catholics instead of demonizing them, that small step is worth noting and encouraging.

And in that spirit, I’m not going to quote the Bible on what it says you should do to non-believers. Although the Pope would probably like to discuss with me those parts of the Bible where I say, “I don’t agree.”

The best news in all of this is having a religious leader who states that he personally openly welcomes dissenting views. If all religious people had this attitude the world would be a noticeably better place.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Who Would Jesus Coldcock?

Boxing-Jesus-2008If we are to believe ancient, secondhand accounts, Jesus once said “Love your enemies.” Blissfully ignored by millions daily, this divine command for adversarial love is not easy, especially when you are facing the evil incarnate that we all try to avoid: the Salvation Army bell ringer.

Volunteer ringer Kristina Vindiola allegedly was attacked by a woman shopping at Wal-Mart in Phoenix for having the audacity to wish her happiness this holiday season. Unfortunately that happiness never materialized, as the shopper/vigilante Christian badgered the volunteer bell ringer by demanding, “Do you believe in God? You’re supposed to say ‘Merry Christmas’!” And in a fit of wonderful Christian irony and horrible Christian PR she slapped the well-wishing bell ringer.

Why do some Christians get it so wrong?

While the pugnacious Christian shopper is a bit of a rarity and a slap in the face to most Christians, this is what happens when Christians, currently about 80% of all Americans, are  repeatedly told by Fox News (sic) and televangelists that they are actually under severe religious persecution. Someone will eventually believe that they really are a victim and want to fight back.

I think something deeper is going on: Hyper-intolerant Christians are facing an increasingly diverse America. The idea that more and more of their neighbors are normal, decent Americans AND don’t worship Jesus is deeply disturbing to them. They kind of like kidding themselves into thinking this was, is, and always will be a “Christian nation.” (The framers of the Constitution just forgot to mention Jesus—it’s more of a typo than an intentional omission.) Living a delusion is great for a while, but sometimes that little bit of irrationality can burst forth like the dramatic final act of Judas.

Now Judas purchased a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. —Acts 1:18

If they choose to selectively read their Jesus quotes, they could stop turning the proverbial other cheek and instead dwell on this gem:

Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. —Matthew 10:34

While completely ignoring this bipolar opposite sentiment:

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. —John 16:33

Christians who bristle at the phrase “separation of church and state” somehow think that the only good thing big government can do is pick religious winners and losers…as long as it’s their savior whose picture is hanging in the public high school’s Hall of Honor.

Sadly there is no commandment that unequivocally states: “Thou shalt not attack a volunteer raising money to feed and clothe the needy just because they wished that you would find some happiness in late December.”

And though it would have really clarified things for us, Jesus evidently never said, “Love your enemies unless they wish you ‘Happy Holidays.’ Then slap ’em. Slap ‘em good.”

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The War on Festivus (and Why the Bible Commands It!)

PoleWake up, America: Festivus is under attack!

The popular Festivus tradition that goes back for many television seasons is the only purely American winter holiday tradition. The Founding Fathers, if they had just lived long enough to watch Seinfeld in 1997, would be frightening to look at and would have found it “eminently jocular, albeit a tad ribald,” —Thomas Jefferson, Senior Living(?) Magazine.

These fine, patriotic Festivus-Americans are just trying to celebrate their First Amendment rights this holiday season by doing what any American would do: demand that their display be prominently featured on public land. (I think that’s in the Constitution somewhere after the part about you have the right to a lawyer, a decent plumber, and a masseuse of the gender of your choosing.)

How Is Festivus Under Attack?

In Bartow, Florida, a Festivus pole was stolen.

And Fox News (sic) has actually begun attacking these fine Americans for making a Festivus pole out of beer cans!

Fox hates beer cans!?! The shining symbol of American consumerism! Even Jesus who was known as a drunkard

“Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”—Matthew 11:19

would be crying in his PBR over such blatant anti-American hatred.

Does the Bible Condone the Vandalizing of Poles?

Is the Pope Catholic? (No, really. This new Pope is such an adjustment from the last few.)

But to answer the question: God totally approves of pole destruction! In my book Bible Funmentionables I explain how the “disgusting” poles at the temples of the fertility goddess Asherah really bothered the writers of the Bible.

But this is what you are to do to them: their altars are to be pulled down, and their pillars broken, and their Asherah poles cut down, and their images burned with fire. —Deuteronomy 7:5

God didn’t appreciating other religions cutting in on his marketshare, and, in true mobster form, he wasn’t afraid to arrange for a little “market correction.”

And King Josiah brought out the Asherah pole from the house of Yahweh, outside of Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it, and beat it to dust, and cast its dust on the graves of the common people. —2 Kings 23:6

So the War on Festivus is part of an ongoing fight for people’s hearts and minds. What’s most puzzling to me is how the manger-at-city-hall people fail to see how their use of the government to promote their religion caused the Festivus display backlash. I guess the one thing that is more American than expecting the government to give you a high profile location in front of City Hall is complaining when some other group gets that same special privilege that you got.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.