UPDATE: I shared this new illustration yesterday morning, just hours before the latest strong of horrifying-yet-not-so-surprising attacks began to unfold in France. As the news broke, I strongly considered removing the post in order to not “fan the flames” of religious division.
However, once I began seeing the “Pray For Paris” and “God Will Prevail” posts from friends and family – filled with pro-Christian, pro-Israel, anti-Islam, anti-Arab rhetoric and rally cries, I realized that it is specifically times like this that we all take a step back and think critically about the history of any violence justified in the name of… any god(s).
Imagine no religion? I keep trying… – HG
I’ve been asked a number of times why we haven’t covered any of the Bible’s instructions to kill those of other faiths. In all honesty, I didn’t really have a good reason other than some sort of conditioned “respect” – not wanting to upset my Christian readers by illuminating some of the darkest roots of violent Abrahamic totalitarianism found in the sacred texts of Judaism, Islam, and… Christianity.
Contrary to seemingly popular belief, my purpose with this project is not to divide or anger, but to educate. As such, this has obviously been a very tricky subject to address. In short, it always seemed too “easy” or too inflammatory to focus on the more “radical” texts that scholars, pastors, and believers would love to erase from the ethos of their chosen faith. This is especially true with the uncomfortable juxtaposition of modern day religiously motivated violence in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and, most recently – the stampede of the radicalized Islamic militants killing under the banner of ISIS. Looking back, I must admit that there I likely had subconscious commercial concerns as well, knowing that we lose thousands of fans from our Facebook page every time we hit a little too close to home for some readers. (We lost 15,000 fans in one week last year when we summarized one month of arrests for sex crimes within Protestant churches in America.) So – I avoided the subject. As I always have, as most Christians do. As a Christian, I became a master of changing the subject or playing the “context” card any time an awkward subject came up. Out of sight, out of mind – hide it in the closet, don’t talk about it, and it’s almost as if it doesn’t actually exist.
How is this passage still relevant today? It’s not just radical Muslims that use fear to intimidate others. As it turns out, not all Christians are as “meek and mild” as their Christ is most often portrayed. Last summer, I received the KJV version of this passage as part of a series of death threats sent to my real name at my home address, ultimately leading to the cancellation of my appearance at a national conference. Over what, an illustrated book of actual Bible stories? The situation helped me re-think my position of showing “respect” for certain aspects of the Bible that are completely unknown to the average believer and conveniently avoided by all, but the most militant fundamentalists. It certainly begs the question, what “respect” should we really have for any sacred texts that prescribe violence toward others?
Please understand – the Bible isn’t referring to capital punishment as a result of another person’s actions, but premeditated murder because of their beliefs. Insanity.
I’ll actually be saving my full commentary on this passage for the next book, but I’ll just say – even as a Christian, when asked if I’d be willing to kill for God, my answer then was the same as it is now – “If God really wants them dead, let Him do his His own dirty work!” Of course, to many, this would just be further proof that I was never a “true” Christian to begin with. If that’s really the test of a “true” Christian, I’m more than happy to have failed the entrance exam. Sadly, not all believers share my “thou shall not kill” ideology (which, incidentally doesn’t actually appear in the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 34). As a result, even in 2015, passages like this are sadly still quite relevant and the conversation is
worth having necessary.
Of course, all of this doesn’t even address the real point – it doesn’t take swords and death threats for a religious majority to largely silence, control, and oppress the masses. It just takes power. Say, for example… both houses of Congress, The White House, and The Supreme Court.
Remember, folks – don’t blame me, it’s in the Bible!
This illustration can be found in Volume. #3.