“They take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them, and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off. Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood…” – Phil Robertson
I’ve done my best to bite my tongue over the years regarding the words of Phil Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame), but I now find it necessary to address the latest comments he shared at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast last week. Why was he there in the first place? Because he was invited to speak to a like-minded audience as some one of the most sought-after celebrity Christian leaders in America today. Robertson took the opportunity to share this
fantasy parable which was later broadcast on Rick Wiles’ show “Trunews” on Right Wing Watch.
While some might completely dismiss Robertson’s ideas as being “fringe” and not worthy of discussion, I can’t help but recognize that in many Christian circles, he is a true celebrity – trusted and admired for his rhetorical “zingers” against atheists, gays, and Muslims. Heck, he even has his own bestselling Duck Commander Bible. Hardly fringe… As such, I think it’s worth taking a close look at Robertson’s assumptions and insinuations from a Christian perspective of moral relativism which I’ll attempt with an open letter on the subject below his touching breakfast “prayer”… (Click the “play” button below to hear the story or read the transcript below.)
AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: “I’ll make a bet with you, two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him.
Then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them, and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him, and then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now, is it dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if [there] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun.'”
Dear Mr. Robertson,
Some of my fans made me aware of your comments at the recent prayer breakfast in Vero Beach, FL. Of course, I would never think that you (or the vast majority of Christians) are personally advocating for the torture, rape, murder and dismemberment of atheists, but that’s not what concerned me about your latest speech. What bothered me was your use of a one-way megaphone to disseminate more “zingers” of willful ignorance to audiences that rarely venture outside the limiting confines of like-minded rallies, blogs, churches, and “news” sites to ever experience the true joys of thinking (critically) for themselves. It is in this spirit, that I’ll offer my own tiny voice from the wilderness – should any of your fans care to read what a mere man without a “reality” show has to say about… anything.
In short, I’m stuck by the fact that you just admitted publicly that if it were not for your religion, you would be a wife-murdering child-rapist who cuts people’s penises off to “have fun”. Well then, thank God for your religion keeping us all safe – please never renounce your faith!
Let’s start at the very beginning of your tale. Who are these assailants that break into my home? Are they atheists or Christians? After all, according to the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, less than one-tenth of one percent of inmates identify themselves as atheists – 0.07%. What this means is that in your parable, there is a 99.93% chance that the assailants would be people of faith. Awkward…? (Of course, this isn’t the only clue as to faith of your hypothetical psychopaths.)
But why? Rape, murder, torture, and decapitation – all for the sake of proving a point to someone of a different belief system. Where would you get such awful ideas? Maybe from… the Bible?
Moving on, “two little atheist daughters,” I’d simply suggest that, since no ages are given, it’s possible that these children haven’t yet reached an age where they have made up their own minds about God and religion. That is to say, without the incessant childhood indoctrination through circumcision, baptism, Sunday school, kiddie communion, and Good News Clubs – all children ushered into a world without the pervasive oppression of a family’s chosen religion would naturally be… atheists until proven otherwise. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say these girls are 10 and 12 years old – clearly old enough to “know better” and have chosen to simply not believe in gods for which they see no proof. After all, they were probably taunting their filthy secular flesh around, and all – they had it coming, right? I mean, I imagine that’s what was going on with Righteous Lot’s daughters…
Aside from the explicit creepiness of your
fantasy parable, I couldn’t help but notice that your understanding of atheism appears to be on par with your understanding of the Bible. So, let’s explore a little of each, shall we?
“… and then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now, is it dude?’” Uhm, that’s not how atheism works. Atheism isn’t a set of moral values – it is simply the lack of belief in god(s). Period.
However, it’s becoming awkwardly clear that the assailants in your
fantasy parable are Christian. After all, why would an atheist rape, torture, murder and taunt another atheist over religious philosophies that neither of them agree with? Hypothetical, rhetorical, or otherwise, your parable does a good job of illustrating the bullying tactics of a religious majority, not the other way around. The simple fact of the matter is, atheists don’t need a 2,000-5,000 year old book to tell them that murder and rape of children is wrong. But, let’s look at what the Bible says about raping children. Let’s see… is it in the Ten Commandments? Nope. Does Jesus forbid the practice? Not really… In fact, he reminds us in Matthew 5:18-19 that “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law“ So, let’s look at one of the laws from your Good Book, Phil.
But, moving on, “Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him…” I couldn’t help but notice that you changed the voice of your from “they” to “you”. It’s no longer about “them” doing unspeakable deeds, but clearly about “you” imagining doing them yourself? What is it with your obsession with other people’s “manhood”? Since we are talking about cutting penises, I feel it would be appropriate to return to the Bible’s guidance on this question…
All that said, Phil – what was most surprising to me was your complete lack of understanding of judgment and salvation according to your own holy texts. After all, since these hypothetical assailants are clearly Christian, would they not be welcomed into heaven with open arms as long as they confessed their sins and believe in Jesus? In fact, they would – Jesus is quite explicit in Matthew 12:31, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, except for blasphemy against the Spirit – it will never be forgiven.“ This is one of the greatest sales tools Christianity has used throughout the centuries – seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall be forgiven. The only difference between “atheists” in your
fantasy parable and Christians is that atheists don’t have the luxury of playing “get out of jail free card” anytime they do something wrong. Atheists understand the concept of personal responsibility without the dangling carrot of vicarious redemption through human sacrifice, the fear of hell, or the promise of divine rewards. You want to talk about moral relativism? Let’s look at the Bible once again…
Yes, Phil – according to the Bible, Heaven is completely filled with rapists, murderers, and junk-cutters while hell is inhabited by people who’s greatest sin was to accidentally yell “god damnit” when they smashed their thumb with a hammer while building a free shelter for the homeless. So, congratulations, Mr. Robertson – enjoy your time in heaven! Unfortunately there won’t be any atheists up there for you and your friends to fantasize about raping, decapitating, and castrating. We’ll all be in hell, treating one another with dignity and respect without needing the fear of God or an ancient book to compel us to do so. In fact, free will is our only choice. Remind me of your philosophy, again?
[EDIT: Sadly, the more I think about it, it would be quite easy to alter your hypothetical story with just a couple of words and be supported Biblically as I’ll add below…]
“I’ll make a bet with you, two Christians break into another Christian’s home. He has a little Christian wife and two little Christian daughters. Two Christians break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him.
Then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them, and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him, and then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that we don’t have to worry about going to hell for our crimes? Isn’t it great that these sins are no worse that cheating on a math test in the eyes of the Lord? Isn’t it great that we’ll be forgiven by God, and if you’re a true Christian, you’ll need to forgive us as well, dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if [there] if we were actually held accountable for our actions and couldn’t blame demons or the devil? But God works in mysterious ways, right? Sure, there’s right and wrong, but it doesn’t matter. God will forgive us as long as we repent and trust our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. We’re not perfect, just forgiven!’”
Ugh…. now I’m just sad and want to give you a hug, Phil. May your children never be raped, may your wife never be decapitated, and may your manhood never be severed. I wish you nothing but peace and happiness.
– Horus Gilgamesh, The Happy Heretic (aka “able to choose”)
P.S. Before you try to pull the “But that’s from the Old Testament” card, I might remind you that it is the Old Testament you rely on regularly to spew your hatred of homosexuals. In fact, according to Jesus, it all matters.