The Lost Art of Resurrection

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“How come nobody resurrects anymore!” You hear it all the time. A church is only as good as its padded kneelers, its reliably saliva-free holy water, and its ability to bring about a modern miracle from time to time.

And don’t think that bringing people back from the dead is a thing of the past! It was commanded by Jesus himself, who knew a thing or two about how the whole resurrection thing worked.

Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions…Heal the sick, raise the dead. —Matthew 10:5,8

Churches are pretty confident about the healing the sick part. Prayers for the ill and infirmed abound, though God evidently has a longer wait time than your HMO’s GI specialist as he often needs cure requests repeated on multiple Sundays.

But why are churches so reluctant to try their hand at resurrections. If any church could find a successful revival incantation, its congregation would soon include most of the entire world.

But most of us know the likelihood of raising the dead (I mean the dead-dead, not the near-dead, medically revivable types) is 0.000%. So part of the problem of a church even trying is that no one would believe you if you succeeded. How do we know that? Let’s look at what happened to our most famous resurrected case study: Jesus of Nazareth.

After seeing the empty tomb, here’s what Mark said happened.

The women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone.
—Mark 16:8

None of us would have heard about the resurrection if Mark’s version was not totally contradicted by the other three gospels:

So they left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
—Matthew 28:8

Later, when Jesus showed up, it was not just Thomas who doubted:

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. —Matthew 28:17

That’s right, they saw Him and were still doubtful. I just can’t see how, if a preacher I knew came back to life, I would hang out with him, worship him, but in the back of my mind be saying, “Meh, it’s probably not him.”

While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have ye here any meat?” —Luke 24:41

“Verily I say unto you, what’s in the fridge?”

Furthermore, on the Road to Emmaus, two disciples walk and talk with what we are told is the risen Jesus, yet through it all they don’t recognize him. Again suspicious.

Adding even more to the suspect nature of the reporting of the resurrected Jesus is the blatant inconsistencies of the evangelists. Of all the Crucifixion and Resurrection inconsistencies, and there are many, one of the worst may be the list of who saw the resurrected Jesus. As so much of the religion relies on this supernatural event, detailing who the witnesses were would seem like a high priority. The reality reveals just the opposite.

Screen shot 2016-03-24 at 8.55.12 PMA more likely explanation of events, like the accounts of Elvis’ return in the late 1970s, comes from William Greg’s 1875 book The Creed of Christendom:

We may believe that the minds of the disciples, excited by the disappearance of the body, and the announcement by the women of his resurrection, mistook some passing individual for their crucified Lord, and that from such an origin multiplied rumors of his re-appearance arose and spread.

In addition to the question of veracity, it’s important to ask what any resurrection, including Jesus’, actually proves.

Even though Acts 26:23 insists that Jesus was the first person to rise from the dead, the Bible has over eight resurrections that predate Jesus’ return to the land of the living, and two that followed.

  • The widow of Zarephath’s son (resurrected by Elijah) —1 Kings 17:17–24
  • The Shunammite’s son (Elisha) —2 Kings 4:32–37
  • The corpse thrown into Elisha’s tomb (Elisha’s bones) —2 Kings 13:21
  • The widow of Nain’s son (Jesus) —Luke 7:11-15
  • Jairus’ daughter (Jesus) —Luke 8:49-56
  • Lazarus (Jesus) —John 11:39–44
  • The post-crucifixion saints of Jerusalem (Spontaneous and simultaneous revivals) —Matthew 27:51-53
  • Dorcas of Joppa (Peter) —Acts 9:36-43
  • Eutychus (Paul) —Acts 20:9–12

If resurrecting proves you are God worthy of adoration or that all your teachings are true, then why does no one worship Lazarus? It seems that either your teachings are without peer or they’re not. Whether you ate meat after you died or not should maybe be of secondary importance. Still it’s a pretty cool trick.

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 Fundamentalists’ Science Class: Putting the Moron in Oxymoron

superintendent_chalmers_on_god_by_fiskefyren-d6niqe2Religion-based science classes sound like something you might find in rural Saudi Arabia or Pakistan…or North Carolina, U.S.A.

Public schools in Rowan County, NC have gotten help from Pastor Doug Hefner in teaching elementary school kids that the Earth was created in seven days and that the Bible has predicted scientific breakthoughs.

If only the Bible had included instructions on how to construct a simple microscope or even hinted at a non-geocentric universe! Instead the Bible has given us these scientifically dubious gems:

The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his field, which is smaller than all seeds. —Matthew 13:31

People do set high expectations on their Messiah of choice, but Jesus would be the first to admit that he was a carpenter and was not speaking as an expert in botany.

In this zoology lesson we learn that when goats mate in front of striped tree bark, they have spotted offspring:

Jacob placed the striped branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches, and they bore young that were streaked, or speckled, or spotted. —Genesis 30:37-39

What should you do when you are bitten by a venomous snake? Consult the Bible:

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he was made well. —Numbers 21:9

Now about those seven days of creation, is anybody else bothered that God created all those sun-dependent plants a day before he made the sun?

The earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with its seed in it, after their kind, and God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.

God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day. —Genesis 1:12-13,16,19

And lastly (though there are plenty more examples I’ll save for another time) here’s one Bible quote that has actually killed people, many of them being defenseless children who receive inadequate medical care from Bible-deluded parents who probably meant well:

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick.
—James 5:15

Pastor Doug proudly defends his Bible-based science class as being scientifically valid by declaring, “I think this program dates back to the 60s.” Sadly, he is absolutely correct that he is teaching the youth of North Carolina science from the 60s. But not from the 1960s. From the 60s.

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 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.

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.

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.

Claiming You’re Jesus’ BFF Can Prove You’re Sane . . . And Get You Killed!

One of the advantages of having Jesus as your BFF: imagine this kid’s batting average!

A Florida judge has decided that a certifiably insane man is actually sane because he sounds like a “relatively normal Christian.” John Ferguson, currently on death row in Florida, claims to be “the Prince of God” and is certain he’ll be spending eternity at Jesus’ side. The judge reasons that Ferguson’s beliefs are close enough to actual Christian beliefs to qualify him for his upcoming appointment with a lethal injection.

The judge states, “There is no evidence that Ferguson’s belief…is so significantly different from beliefs other Christians may hold, so as to consider it a sign of insanity.” So if enough people have the same beliefs as Ferguson, who has been repeatedly diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, then he’s not crazy. The judge stated that Ferguson suffers from “grandiose delusion,” but incidentally didn’t say the same about the many Christians who hold views similar to Ferguson.

Finally, a teammate who won’t fumble and who can heal a torn ACL.

Now the Bible has its share of craziness, but let’s see how Ferguson’s crazy compares to the Bible’s:

John Ferguson

  • has hallucinations
  • hears his dead father’s voice
  • and thinks cockroaches have infiltrated his brain

The Bible

  • claims that burning a pigeon will take away your sins
  • forbids the eating of rock badgers
  • and asserts that plants were created a day before the sun came out.

The Bible does have some fascinating incidents of actual and feigned psychotic moments:

Nebuchadnezzar ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of the sky. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws. —Daniel 4:33

David does his best imitation of a madman:

So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. —1 Samuel 21:13

Even Jesus and Paul had people wondering about their mental conditions:

When Jesus’ family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”           —Mark 3:20

On another occasion we hear Jesus saying,

“I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again. This is what my Father ordered me to do.” Many of them said, “He’s possessed by a demon! He’s crazy! Why do you listen to him?”                     —John 10:18,20

Whereas too little education can be a problem for some people,

As Paul was defending himself in this way, Festus shouted, “Paul, you’re crazy! Too much education is driving you crazy!” —Acts 26:24

Isn’t the Bible sterotyping here? Just because you’re named Festus, the Bible automatically assumes you’ll call people crazy because they’re over-educated.

One of the Bible’s most nonsensical passages about the “possessed” was the following description of the secret lives of evil spirits, the assumed cause of mental illness in biblical times.

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.” —Luke 11:24-26

Unfortunately, the notion persists—that mental illness has a spiritual basis and can be cured by religion. Recent reports tell of the horrifying mental health care treatment in “prayer camps” run by churches in Ghana. Often chained to trees and required to fast for days on end, patients are only released when the camp leaders are told to do so by God. Most of the world has come a long way in treating mental illness, but tragically, the skewed view of some religions are still hindering progress on this front and causing ongoing, horrific, and needless suffering.

This seems like a good time to state that I do not think that the Bible is all madness. Just when you think the Bible has lost its mind, it redeems itself with a “madman” analogy that describes that one neighbor that no one really likes:

Like a madman shooting torches or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”    —Proverbs 26:18-19

Selectively read, the Bible can offer comfort and inspiration to believers. But for a judge to claim that a madman’s belief in Jesus makes him fit to be executed; that’s not just ironic (Jesus, a guy who was unfairly executed, would most likely not support the death penalty), but it’s hardly a rational basis for a decision.

Just because many people believe something, it doesn’t make it any more true.

  • More than a third of American conservatives believe that President Obama might be the anti-Christ.
  • Many people used to believe in Zeus. Does that mean he once existed, but now doesn’t?
  • Mormons used to get run out of town in their early days with few followers. Nowadays with their many adherents, their beliefs are just common enough to allow a Mormon presidential candidate.
  • Horoscopes are still printed in just about every newspaper in the country.
  • 12% of Americans are of the opinion that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
  • Millions of Christians have come and gone, convinced that Jesus was coming back to Earth in their lifetime. (Jesus has never failed to disappoint, and I’m willing to wager any amount of money that he will continue to do so. Fervent believers are encouraged to prove that their belief in Jesus’ imminent return is NOT crazy by betting their life savings on it. I figure if I were to ever lose this bet, and Jesus were to return, Jesus would be so pissed at me [and my blog] that losing my money would be the least of my worries.)

The Bible has given its blessing to a lot of delusional thinking through the years. When your religion is judged to be just about as sane as a paranoid schizophrenic, it should make you stop and think. And when a judge claims that holding commonly accepted religious beliefs, like sitting at Jesus’ side in heaven, PROVES that you’re sane, well to me that sounds a little crazy.

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.