The Mystery of the Sodomite Suppression Act: How the Bible Inspired the Least Popular Proposition Ever!

Editor’s Note: Below is an op-ed I submitted to the local paper. It did not get picked up, and I am getting the impression that your typical mainstream newspaper finds it much safer to steer clear of this topic even when the information would shed light on a news story that many find perplexing and personally hurtful.

350xThe Sodomite Suppression Act initiative has left many political observers perplexed: What could possibly have motivated attorney Matt McLaughlin to propose capital punishment for homosexuality?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly to some, is the Bible.

Many would like to interpret McLaughlin’s initiative as a Swiftian satire and that he was trying to make some ironic point. The more compelling explanation actually comes from Cervantes: McLaughlin, having read a few too many ancient writings, is on a quixotic quest, tilting at windmills that only he sees as monsters.

McLaughlin, by his own account, has been a daily reader of the Bible since first grade. In 2004 he proposed and failed to qualify a ballot initiative that would have required California public schools to provide a King James Bible to every student.

McLaughlin’s latest initiative claims that God commands us to suppress the “monstrous evil” of sodomy or face “our utter destruction.” It takes its inspiration directly from Leviticus 20:13:

“If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.”

I should explain my own particular interest in obscure Bible verses like this one. Around the time of McLaughlin’s Bibles-in-schools initiative, I started to hear more and more talk from Bible literalists like McLaughlin who sought to compel prayer in public schools. Out of curiosity, I decided to read the Bible cover to cover to learn what was really in it, focusing my attention on the verses that rarely get mentioned by preachers. What I discovered was that there are countless cringe-worthy passages that have conveniently been swept under the rug and that few people know are part of their own religion’s sacred texts.

For example, I discovered that the God of the Bible orders capital punishment for more than just male homosexuality. The Bible explicitly requires the death penalty for the following:

• Witchcraft

• Cursing your parents

• A man who fails to impregnate his widowed sister-in-law

• Gathering sticks on the sabbath

• A man sleeping with his step-mother

• Bestiality

• And at least 20 other less-than-capital offenses

By singling out gays and letting stick gatherers go free, McLaughlin reveals that he is motivated more by his own biases than he is by God’s ancient dictates.

Few Bible aficionados seem to be aware of these wholly unholy Bible passages, but to ignore their existence and their effect on some believers like McLaughlin is a danger.

Bible quotes like Leviticus 20:13 helped inspire Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to famously place partial blame on “the gays and the lesbians” for causing the 9/11 attacks. A few years back, some American fundamentalist Christians supported “kill the gays” legislation in Uganda. The Army of God is an American terrorist group that has promoted Bible-inspired violence against gays. Other Bible passages are complicit in the deaths of dozens of children who die each year from being denied medical treatment because of their parents’ interpretation of scripture. If you need more examples of the damage caused by literal interpretations of Bible verses, plenty of heartbreaking stories can be found at whatstheharm.net/religiousfundamentalism.html.

Unquestionably these fundamentalists do not represent your average believer, but they are on the airwaves and in pulpits spreading their extremist views and influencing eager believers like McLaughlin.

It is crucial to understand the Bible’s key role in inspiring this ghastly initiative. McLaughlin’s Bible literalism should be a warning for anyone attracted to such simplistic answers. Uncritical acceptance of any dogma fosters group-think and a my-way-or-the-highway attitude.

This kind of absolutist outlook played out on a national scale gives us extremists championing the use of the Bible as a legal blueprint for America. Played out on a global scale, it is a poison that has the potential to endanger us all with endless religious wars.

Fortunately, few Bible literalists interpret the Bible quite like McLaughlin does, though many may be surprised to find that the genesis for his horrific initiative can be found in the often overlooked passages of the best-selling book of all-time, the Bible.

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.

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.

God and SCOTUS v. Ministers: Discrimination Is Divine

The U.S. Supreme Court’s pro-discrimination decision in Hosanna-Tabor Church v. EEOC finally brings U.S. law in line with the millennia-old opinion of Yahweh regarding the hiring and firing of church ministers.

As a quick summary, Cheryl Perich took an extended medical leave from her primarily secular teaching position at a religious school due to her narcolepsy. The Supreme Court determined that she fit the definition of a “minister,” and as such, granted the church license to fire her regardless of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections.

So did they fire her for teaching bad theology? Corrupting the youth? Giving poison to the faithful as Jesus recommended in Mark 16:18? No, they admitted that they fired her because she threatened to sue them under the ADA.

The idea that ministers are a special class of people with fewer workplace rights is as old as Yahweh himself. The God of the Hebrew Bible understood, like a Hooters manager, that it pays to be selective about whom you bring in to act as the face (etc.) of your organization. God himself made his preferences sparklingly clear in his own holy scriptures:

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘Whoever he be of your seed throughout their generations that has a blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatever man he be that has a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that has a flat nose, or any deformity, or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed, or crook-backed, or a dwarf, or that has a blemish in his eye, or is scurvy, or scabbed, or has his stones broken. No man of the seed of Aaron the priest, that has a blemish, shall come near to offer the offerings of Yahweh made by fire. He has a blemish. He shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.’” —Leviticus 21:16-21

The Supreme Court’s ruling was too timid and politically correct to come out as explicitly anti-flat noser and anti-dwarf as God so boldly does.

It is helpful to be informed about God’s longstanding prohibition against ministers who are less than ideal physical specimens. It just may explain, for example, why in all my years in the congregation, I never saw one single scurvy, crook-backed, blind, dwarf preacher whose stones were broken.

So go out and do your duty as an American and a supporter of Yahweh, and discriminate against a minister today! Here’s a handy checklist to print out and take with you. Be sure to bring along a medical professional to check for all of the following conditions.

Indications your minister is unqualified:

• Blemished

• Blind

• Lame

• Flat-nosed

• Deformed

• Broken-footed

• Broken-handed

• Crook-backed

• Dwarfed

• Eye-blemished

• Scurvied

• Scabbed

• Broken stones

Of course, turnabout is fair play. You should know that it’s not just ministers that God holds to very high standards. He has rules about the congregation as well:

No man whose private parts have been wounded or cut off may come into the meeting of the Lord’s people. One whose father and mother are not married may not come into the meeting of the Lord’s people, or any of his family to the tenth generation. —Deuteronomy 23:1-2   

I don’t foresee the day when churches across the country excommunicate every person whose parents aren’t married, but the ensuing outrage would prove the point that we all need to relearn from time to time: Discrimination is usually just not that big of a deal . . . until it happens to me.

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.