Bring Your Bible (Funmentionables) to School Day™

B-fun2SchoolIt is a twisted logic that some Bible thumpers’ idea of religious liberty includes demanding that the government send out e-mails to promote their religion. Case in point: Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Northern California recently e-mailed parents notifying them of a “Bring Your Bible to School Day” (a.k.a. “Spit on the Constitution Day”). The public school district says it’s totally cool because they added a disclaimer saying it’s not their program, plus their lawyer said it was okay.

Their lawyer has admitted being worried about litigation from the group Focus on the Family if the district refused to send out the e-mail. Religious groups can threaten their own with eternal punishment, but they have to resort to lawsuits when dealing with the government.

Of course, when the e-mail goes out announcing “Bring Your Koran to School Day” or “Bring Bertrand Russell’s ‘Why I Am Not a Christian’ to School Day,” Focus on the Family will be the first to complain. Do I have to remind Focus on the Family that Jesus really hated hypocrites, especially spice tithers:

Woe to you…hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin. —Matthew 23:23

It’s particularly exasperating when the people responsible for educating our youth show such inability to think through situations like these, where it is their duty to keep church and state separate. Now instead of showing you how un-Washingtonian or how un-Jeffersonian the public school district is being, let’s change things up and give some of the less-renowned Presidents their overdue moment in the spotlight:

“Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State.” —James Polk

 

“In my view Church and State should be separate.”
—Millard Fillmore

 

“Keep Church and State forever separate.”
—Ulysses S. Grant

 

“The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute.” —James Garfield

Polk gets extra credit for the “Thank God” intro.

The school district’s legal minds may not quite match our Commanders-in-Chief (dare I call them un-Polkian), but there is also another Commander whose law about making a public display of your religion is being violated:

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…but when you make your prayer, go into your private room.
—Matthew 6:5-6

It is a shame that Focus on the Family is so thoroughly ignorant of that Bible quote. To keep today’s youth from being just as ignorant, I present “Bring Your ‘Bible Funmentionables’ to School Day.™”

Screen shot 2015-10-09 at 6.16.04 PMThat’s right; In a spirit of fairness, I have submitted my request to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District that they promote my first annual “Bring Your ‘Bible Funmentionables’ to School Day™” scheduled for October 30, 2015. Since my event is equally legal to Focus on the Family’s, I’m sure they’ll be just as eager to spread the word. Or face the threat of eternal damnation! (It’s cheaper than legal counsel.)

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.

Pray Away the Tornado

St. Peter’s Catholic Church of Quincy, IL after the tornado of April 12, 1945. From family archives

One problem with believing the entire Bible is literally true is that you can sometimes come to distasteful and contradictory conclusions. Here are Pat Robertson’s insights into God’s role in the recent deadly tornadoes:

  • God deserves credit for setting up the conditions that allow deadly tornadoes, but he doesn’t deserve blame for sending them.
  • Those killed by tornadoes deserve blame for living where tornadoes happen—i.e. in every state but Alaska—and for not praying enough.
  • A blameless, omnibenevolent God could have stopped the tornadoes, but chose not too because too few people prayed for him to do so.

When true believers face the question of why God allows great suffering (e.g. 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) the most common explanations are

  1. We can’t understand the mind of God. (In other words, I have no good answer. Let’s talk about something else.)
  2. When someone dies, they’re in a better place. (But what if they would actually prefer to still be alive?)
  3. It is an opportunity to find strength in God. (As if there is no other way to learn this lesson.)
  4. God is punishing us for being sinful. (Let’s not blame God, let’s blame those people that don’t believe what we believe.)

This last explanation, that human suffering is caused by sin, is seen throughout the Bible:

The LORD saw how evil humans had become on the earth, so he said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth these humans that I created. Not only humans, but also domestic animals, crawling animals, and birds.” —Excerpts from Genesis 6:5,7

And a favorite of the fire and brimstone preachers:

For the wages of sin is death. —Romans 6:23

God punishes and kills off sinners in the Bible with incredible regularity—check out the book Drunk with Blood for all the gory details. Since Bible literalists see so many examples of this, it is easy understand why Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell famously fell into the trap of arguing that God allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks because of the actions of the ACLU, federal courts, abortionists, pagans, feminists, gays, lesbians, People for the American Way, and those who want church/state separation. As unlikely as it sounds to non-evangelicals, God hated the exact same people that Robertson and Falwell hated.

It’s very difficult for a preacher to sermonize that innocent people sometimes suffer and die for no good reason, and it’s much more convenient for them to blame their own political enemies.

However, in a little reported decree from Jesus himself, we find a very different explanation of human tribulation:

What about those 18 people who died when the tower at Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more sinful than other people living in Jerusalem? No! I can guarantee that they weren’t. —Luke 13:4-5

So here we have Jesus clearly stating that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and it is not because they were sinners. This passage is underpreached because it offers little solace to people who are grieving. Plus preachers who ignore it can continue to blame the sinners of their choosing.

So the Bible tells us that disasters happen to sinners and that disasters also happen to innocent people, but there’s one more category that’s is rarely heard of in the Bible: those innocent people that God goes out of his way to strike dead. Gather the family around to hear the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished story of Uzzah who steadies the ark of the covenant when his oxen bump into it:

Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error. And there he died by the ark of God. —Excerpts from 2 Samuel 6:6-7

So instead of encouraging people to pray tornadoes away, how about something a little more practical: to lessen your chances of being hit by a tornado, your best bet is to not be a male resident of a hotel or mobile home, 10-35 years old, in Kansas, Oklahoma, or north Texas from 3-9pm from May to June. Or just move to Alaska.