There are those who seem surprised that a defective rattrap like the Mulford law could be endorsed by the legislature of a supposedly progressive, enlightened state. But these same people were surprised when [California’s] Proposition 14, which reopened the door to racial discrimination, was endorsed by the electorate last November by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.
–From “The Nonstudent Left“, by Hunter S. Thompson, published in “The Nation”, September 27, 1965 (links were added for this story)
So as I said above, there are lots of folks who are just absolutely convinced that the Bible can effectively help us figure out who is being moral and who is being immoral; others are convinced that, with the proper application of the “Judeo-Christian values” that form the basis of our system of Government, we can protect ourselves from the immorality that constantly threatens out American Way Of Life.
Let’s see how that’s been working out.
For about 400 years Christians tried, and tried again, to save Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the immoral Muslims; we know those efforts as the Crusades. In the effort to save the world from that immorality thousands upon thousands of Christians and Muslims were killed in war, thousands more Jews were killed who just kind of happened to turn up along the way, and in 1212, thousands of children either did or did not participate in another Crusade that led virtually all of them into either death or slavery.
Still another Crusade ended the immorality of rivals competing for Venice’s monopoly control over the marketing of Byzantine trade goods. (That took two years, from 1202 to 1204 and led to the sacking of Constantinople).
Here’s what happened with yet another effort to protect Europe from the immoral:
When national feeling and the adoption of religious ideas later associated with the Protestants made Bohemia a threat to European stability, at least in the eyes of the Holy Roman Empire and the pope, a Crusade was declared against Hussites, who were named for John Hus, their first leader. Some decried this as a false Crusade, saying that greed was being sanctified by ecclesiastical banners. But most of Europe endorsed the brutal warfare and the reimposition of Catholicism. This was, in their eyes, a Crusade for Christ’s church and people, as valid as any of the expeditions to the Holy Land.
It turns out that believing in “ecclesiastical poverty” was another one of those immoral things that had to be stamped out to protect the rest of us…and that’s why certain French Christians were subjected to the Inquisition, starting in the 1300s.
Being a Jew could be immoral, too, which is why officials of the Spanish Inquisition killed somewhere between 10,000 and 600,000 of those who refused to convert to Christianity as the Moors were being driven out of Spain.
Ever heard of Galileo? He became famous because he built telescopes that could prove that the Earth orbits the Sun…which was immoral because it was heretical (which essentially means the Church, who told everyone else what the Bible really means, did not agree). He did not have a fork shoved through his chest and jaw to shut him up before he was burned at the stake for those beliefs because he had friends in high places who could protect him.
Ever heard of Father Giordano Bruno? He believed the same things, he had no friends in high places…and he did get the Heretic’s Fork, after which he was burned at the stake to protect the public from his particular brand of immorality.
Sorcery was immoral from the beginning for Church theologians, but magic was OK. Believing in witchcraft was immoral, before 1400, and those who believed in witches, the Bible told us, were heretics who needed to be punished for the protection of the rest of us…but by 1487, when the Malleus maleficarum was published by the Catholic Church, practicing the witchcraft which recently didn’t even exist was now considered idolatry and apostasy, punishable under law…and all that is a long way of saying that thousands and thousands and thousands of “witches” were killed, on orders of the Church and local authorities, partially to try and stop the bubonic plague, which, as the Bible taught us, was being caused by witchcraft…which only recently, the Bible taught us, didn’t even exist.
Do you know what a Bruloir might be?
It’s an oven that is specially designed to cook the living person inside in the most painful way possible (you put them in a cold oven, then heat it up)…and it really gained popularity as a moral means of killing those plague-promoting witches in the second half of the 16th Century.
I could go on and on and on…but let’s have a look at where we’ve been so far, and see what we can learn:
If you believed that the Earth orbits the Sun, and you taught that to others, you were immoral, a heretic, and a menace to society, and had to be exterminated for the good of the rest of us.
If you believed that being Islamic and living in Jerusalem was no big deal…you were immoral, a heretic, and a menace to society, and for hundreds of years entire Christian armies were going to try to exterminate you for the good of the rest of us.
Immoral, at least once.
Immoral, at least twice.
Exterminations all around, please.
When the witches caused crop failures, or the plague, or engaged in their orgiastic behavior, we were darn lucky to have the Bruloir available for the protection of our collective morals…eh?
Even to this very day, theologians warn us to beware of rock ‘n’ roll, I kid you not, because “these musicians have been primarily responsible for the dramatic rise in Satanic practices among young people today.”
And now it’s the damn homos, wanting to destroy our American Judeo-Christian Bible Law And Morality with their efforts to get fag married and turn our babies into lesbian cannibals…even though Pastor Fred Phelps very clearly tells us that God hates Fags….which they somehow can’t seem to understand, which is why we have to pass laws to try and protect our Judeo-Christian
Now I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade here, and I know this is a great campaign issue for Republicans, but if you’re standing in front of the “Protecting Morality Scoreboard”, and the score reads, say, 0-11, and you’re the 11, and every time you’ve screwed it up so far piles of bodies end up strewn all over the place…and now you’re here to tell us that God and the Bible want to shut down the same-sex weddings because you just absolutely know that they’re a moral threat to society…why, exactly, are we supposed to believe you have any idea what you’re talking about?
…since we went to the time and trouble of killing off those dirty, filty, hussites. don’t you?
The biography of Samuel Sewall makes clear that he was the only so-called Christian who repented of his unchristian acts in condemning innocent fellow New Englanders to horrible deaths. Anyone who wants to give me a late birthday present can buy me this book!
and i hope someone takes you up on it.
The Protestants who believe in Biblical inerrancy seem to think that a return to Old Testament ways will win them God’s favor — and with it, salvation or, at least, prosperity.
p>This surprises me, in a way. I’ve always been troubled by the brutality in the Old Testament and the brutality its deity frequently justifies toward the enemies of Israel. In modern times, some of these policies would violate the Geneva Conventions.
p>I’m not alone. When Christians were still the minority in the Roman Empire, they were similarly challenged about this — and apologetic about it. In answering this, for example, St. Augustine in his Confessions offers the excuse that those were more brutal times and we should take everything relatively.
p>It seems obvious to me that teachings that had been a moral advance when people used to be stoned to death has lost that status now that the death penalty has been abolished in much of Europe.
…if, thanks to recent events in afghanistan, some here now suggest stoning is ready to come back into style.
p>we have gingrich suggesting that saudi arabia’s standards of religious tolerance are something we should think about here…and in a race to the bottom, who knows what these folks will suggest next?