Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bible Based Discrimination

Could someone tell me which religious freedoms have been trampled so that we need Religious Freedom Restoration Acts? The claim that there is a religious privilege to discriminate is really pissing me off. So here goes.

If you are a Bible-believing Christian, you believe in the whole Bible, the Old Testament and the New, as the inerrant word of God. If your faith is based on such a belief, you do not pick and choose which passages of the Bible you are going to believe and follow. Or do you? There are people on the extremes of the political spectrum who have lost political battles over whether all citizens of the United States have the same rights under the Constitution and civil law. Because they have lost in the political arena, they are now attempting, in states controlled by Republicans, to trump the law with claims to religious beliefs that would permit them to discriminate against whomever they choose.

Of course, the only religious belief in question derives from Chapter 18 of Leviticus, and specifically verse 18:22: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (KJV). As any Bible scholar knows, the original Hebrew text was translated into Greek and then into English with changes in meaning at each stage. And as any Bible scholar should know, the original name of the Book of Leviticus in Hebrew was “ ספר תורת הכהנים : SEFER TORAT HAKOHANIM : The Instructions of the Priestly Officiants.” The prohibitions in Leviticus were originally meant to keep the Hakohanim (priestly caste) from imitating foreign, non-Israelite, cultic fertility rituals in the Promised Land.

Over a number of years, religious conservatives have produced what they call "new translations" of the Bible that, coincidentally, support their opinions. They are, of course, not translations but editorial revisions to support philosophical points of view unrelated to textual scholarship.

Okay, with that out of the way, back to Christians believing and acting on what the Bible says. As many have explained before, if you are a Bible-believing Christian who believes in the whole Bible, in its entirety, as the inerrant word of God — and who does not pick and choose which verses to follow in your private and public life — you must not do any of these things that carry as much significance as Leviticus 18:22...
  • burn yeast or honey in offerings to God
  • fail to include salt in offerings to God
  • consume fat (like French fries cooked in grease)
  • consume blood (like bloody rare steaks)
  • touch an unclean animal or its carcass (like pork and footballs)
  • let your hair become unkempt (like Duck Dynasty)
  • tear your clothes (like Grunge rockers)
  • consume alcohol in holy places (like taking communion)
  • eat an animal that doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof, such as camels, rabbits, pigs (no more rabbit stew or pork chops)
  • eat or touch the carcass of any seafood without fins or scales (no more calamari and, worse, no more shrimp!)
  • attend religious services within 33 days after giving birth to a boy
  • attend religious services within 66 days after giving birth to a girl
  • marry your wife’s sister while your wife still lives
  • have sex with a woman during her period
  • have sex with your neighbor’s wife
  • give your children to be sacrificed to Moloch
  • make idols or "metal gods" (no more rock stars)
  • reap to the  edges of a field
  • pick up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard
  • hold back the wages of an employee overnight
  • curse the deaf or abuse the blind
  • pervert justice by showing partiality to either rich or poor
  • spread slander (no more gossip)
  • seek revenge or bear a grudge
  • wear clothing made of more than one fabric (no more poly blends)
  • cross-breed animals (no more high end dogs, cats, etc., etc., etc.)
  • plant different seeds in the same field
  • eat fruit from a tree within four years of planting it
  • trim your beard (no manscaping)
  • cut your hair at the sides (no Mohawks)
  • get tattooed
  • consult mediums, spiritualists, or astrologers
  • remain seated in the presence of the elderly
  • mistreat foreigners – "the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born" (no anti-immigrant fanatics)
  • use dishonest weights and scales
  • curse your father or mother
  • slaughter a cow or sheep and its young on the same day
  • work on the Sabbath
  • take the Lord's name in vain (punishable by death)
  • sell land permanently
  • sell an Israelite as a slave

Or, if you're a rational human being, you could conclude that while some of these things might (or might not) have made sense in ancient times and places in the Middle East, maybe they don't any more.


Jeffrey Goines said...

Hi, God, or, as Jewish people write, G-d, Allah, under different names, in essence, is not really knowable, or even conceivable, to our human mind. Which means that finding God in writing, is therefore impossible. By the way, the highest writings of humankind all come from retranscribing orally transmitted (oh, the good bad boys! ;-) bodies of knowledge. Legends are known to be based on real facts, yet clearly are also infused with meaning far larger than facts, symbolic meanings. In Literature are two traditions: the written, and the oral. If a sacred text is written, it comes from a much older knowledge of something. First comes the thought, then the text. But the thought of what, on what, seen through what angle, by whom, and in what circumstances? The Reformed Thought, which also has many marvels, introduced the thinking that the Word was the Inerrant Law of God. Chances are that this is not exactly what the Reformers meant, and for one reason: it's stupid. How can one even believe that God is this anal retentive little scribe, punishing poor lovely people, for being human, as we are made to be? There is, also, the question of the languages. Ancient Aramaic, Ancient Hebrew, Greek, themselves bearing the traces of different linguistic periods, and different individual writers... The question of Time, also. See Henri Beyle, but especially Benedict de Spinoza, regarding that (and many other things!). Obviously, the Bible is multiple, and its only unity is that it seeks to tell us about God. As for the codes, do this, and not that, it is complicated. Some seem merely social, but then who wrote them so, and for what? Others, seem more symbolic, and others still, just make good sense: "Thou shalt not kill". Human Sexuality is the fundamental expression of Life. It is how we came here, but also, it is how we dream, and how we love. It is, truly, fundanental. Interfering with its free expression is THE way to limit the expression of the Spirit. This is why all authoritarian thoughts, always interfere with the fundamental expression of humankind: pseudo-Christianity, which really started with the conversion of Constantine, is a perfect example. At least, here, it was clearly stated! Other movements, that started under seemingly good and generous goals, in the 1980's, have been extremely stealthy, and extremely dangerous to humans, precisely because they claimed to have good goals. In effect, they have made absolutely no progress towards a more harmonious understanding between men and women, they have made a situation that was indeed to be addressed much, much worse than it ever was before, they have not made us progress one bit, they have made us regress severely, fostering anger, hurt feelings it has never sought to address, and imposing appalling punitive modalities which have become a huge and major concern today, and have to be addressed in good faith, and in good heart. Concerning the nature of God... may I suggest checking the definitions of God (which by nature are of course vague and well meaning yet not quite "that" at all, and of "Demiurge"? Both, are not the same at all... Concerning the right to discriminate based on "religion", it is a nonsense. God, does NOT discriminate. Some lights are in the Bible, yes: for example, that God is both so extraordinarily far, and that S/He, or It, or... is also right here, with us, in our Heart. Anything that hurts people, CANNOT be from God. Never, never!

whkattk said...

They've really taken the Constitution and misinterpreted that, as well. It does not say freedom "of," it says freedom "from." If the SCOTUS gets the case - and it will - all we can do is hope they understand the Constitution.
Regardless, the radical religious groups in the country will continue to cram their religion and religious views down everyone's throats.

Jeffrey Goines said...

Dear Whk, you are certainly right. There are excellent religious persons, in all religions, and there are also bad ones, who seek to impose a set of rules on other human beings, therefore, a political agenda. But at least with those, we already know that they can indeed not mean well. Far more dangerous, I personally think, are those that pretend to be "liberal", but are not at all. Those, will have a discourse that seems to seek liberation for human beings, yet when you listen to them, or read what they write, "something" doesn't work: we must be very aware of what their message elicits in us. If it is resentment, hurt feelings, punitive thoughts and systems, then they are lying. Speaking of the Bible, "They will come in My Name". They can also come in the name of Progress and Justice. But if all they do is make people angry and hurt, then, they are lying. If they elicit rage, and if they are creating new scapegoats, they are lying. Progress entails looking at human problems with an objective method, but well meaning intentions, and we must strive to look clearly at every side of the problem. There can be several. Regarding this fake liberalism, we must be extremely careful. One thinker who has, for decades now, warned us of that danger, is someone nobody seems to know, but whom everyone really should read: Sir Kenneth Minogue, U. of London. The title of his main book? "The Servile Mind". By all means, boys, and ladies who like this wonderfully intelligent and sexy blog, read it! You'll see how poor little Eve, whoever she was, first of all could be any one of us, but also, how formidably powerful, yet stealthy, Lies can be