Joe Hoffmann on Romney, Mormonism, and Lying for the Lord

I don’t always agree with Joe Hoffmann, but when I do, you can be sure it is about something he says epically.  Here is a snippet:

No one expected the enemy to take this form. At one point, in reply to Romney’s third asseveration that he was not advocatng a three trillion dollar tax break and that the President’s statements were “simply inaccurate,” (“I don’t know where you’re getting this stuff”) Mr Obama simply looked disappointed and mildly shook his graying head. How many at that point wanted someone to say pointedly “I’m getting it from you, Governor–it’s what you’ve been saying for eighteen months.” Except we all know what Romney would have said, in that Jon Lovitz/Tommy Flannagan style he had adopted: “No I didn’t. You’re making that up, too.” Post-truthfulness, to be effective, must be pathologically coherent.

via Lying for the Lord: The Mormon Missionary Rides High « The New Oxonian.

Visit his blog and read the rest.

On Academic Integrity and Confessional Institutions

My new article is up on Bible and Interpretation.  Here is a snippet:

I wish to pose this question to all accredited academic institutions: “How do we want to educate students in the field of Biblical Studies?” There are perhaps dozens of answers which could be given. I suspect that any answer will depend greatly upon one’s affiliations academically. A scholar teaching the Bible at a research institution will probably have a very different answer than one teaching at a seminary or Christian College. Then there are also Catholic universities which probably share a different perspective all together. How one answers this question has some serious implications, both morally and professionally—the answers posited by some have become the cause of a recent crisis in the field.

via The Bible and Interpretation – On Academic Integrity and the Future of Biblical Studies in Confessional Institutions.

Is Technology Becoming Too Powerful?

This is a very serious concern.  Reported today on MSNBC:

Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down.

In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive.

The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.

via NYT: Tech firms warn of gadgets’ power – Technology & science – The New York Times – NBCNews.com.

Have you ever felt a phantom vibration? You may already be addicted to your gadgets.  I know this happens to me a lot.  I’ll be sitting at my desk, writing or researching, and I’ll feel a buzz in my pocket, think I hear a humming, and reach for my phone and realize I left it in the other room, or it is turned off (rarely), or in the room but away from me.  And when I go to check it, nothing–no call, no text, no alert notification whatsoever.  The scary thing is I can recall these sorts of phantom calls happening since I had a cell phone, back in the early 2000’s.  That means that this phenomenon has been occurring for at least a decade and I have been addicted for that long.

The dangers here are not just addiction, trouble focusing, and limited attention span, but also the physical stress these electronics are putting on us.  How many times do we check Facebook a day?  How many times do we look at phones for a text?  We do it so unconsciously; because we crave the social attention we get from updating our status, uploading photos, forwarding along memes.   If you’re like me, you’re one of the 68% of Americans who suffer hallucinations in the form of phantom vibrations.

That is scary.  But one must ask, how do we stop it?  You cannot stop technology since society and technology are so intricately connected–our economics depend on it now; we are forever a part of the revolution and evolution of the technological aeon and we cannot simply ignore it.  So where does that leave us?  We may put our phones away for a bit, maybe step away from the computer–pick up a book, go outside, do something without our technology.  But the fact remains that we have to come back to it.  At some point, we have to come back.  Whether for our jobs, for our family, for our entertainment, for our livelihoods.

So what is to be done?

 

On Academic Pricing and ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’

Ever since my book released, I have had a lot of people ask me about the price.  Most are friends and family who are not associated with academic publishing, so the typical cost of a book for them is between $5-$15, like the price of a trade paperback one might pick up at Barnes and Noble.  I have finally found some time to write this; since recent reviews of my book, while overwhelmingly positive (so far), have also brought up the issue of the price (sells at $110).

So my point here is two-fold; first, while the book is expensive, I don’t believe the price should factor into book reviews (in fact I had an interesting conversation with Michael Halcomb about this issue recently, and the fruits of that conversation will be born out below) and second I believe someone should write a defense about the pricing, with some caveats.

Clearly academic pricing can be outrageous. Look up anything by Brill and be prepared to fall over when you see compendiums ranging from $600-$1100!  $1100 is, for some, a rent check or a mortgage payment.   Even standard monographs (with 80 less pages than my edited collection) like this one–http://www.brill.nl/use-anonymous-characters-greek-tragedy –that actually looks good, is going to cost a buyer more money than my book.  Even paperbacks are expensive, normally costing from $35-$70 in the lower ranges and $75-$95 in the higher ranges.

But keep in mind what books like mine really are: collections of essays from over a dozen academics. Each chapter is a researched publication on its own, generally worthy of any academic journal. And one should consider how much those cost if purchased individually.  On average, either through JSTOR or EBSCOHOST or any of those online journal storage sites, one 12-page article is upwards of $15 [and that is on the cheap end–more like $30]; so if one were to buy 14 articles at about 12 pages in length separately, the costs would exceed $210; and many of the papers in ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ exceed 12 pages (so actually it would cost more).  And these are for digital copies.  If one were to purchase stand-alone volumes (i.e., monographs) expressing these same ideas by these scholars (even if all the books retailed at $20–which is incredibly low since many are academic publications upwards of $35–that would still be more than this collection) in the same sort of format, one would probably go hungry for a week.

Granted, you may get more pages for your buck by purchasing all of these individual books but not all of it will deal with this particular subject matter (Jesus’ historicity) nor will they likely have the impressive sort of scholarship surrounding this subject (a good portion of the chapters in my volume are refreshingly original and groundbreaking in many ways).  So you’re much better off just saving up and picking up a copy of ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ from a discounted price (many distributors are offering the volume for around $85-$86, which is a significant discount—about 22%) than spending more money on multiple volumes on these subjects which may not be as critical or engaging.

So this is a reason why I believe this volume really is worth the price. I hope it goes to paperback, because I would like it if the book were more affordable for everyone else besides scholars, but I don’t believe the price is out of reach for most people.  And frankly if everyone waits around for a paperback, it may never come–paperback books are only produced when sales of the hardback make a paperback production worth it.  So waiting for this book to arrive in paperback to buy it is self-defeating.  If everyone waits around expecting the price to lower–it may never happen.  But those who have the means should consider the hardback anyway–it looks better on a shelf and survives longer than paperbacks.

Something else to consider: This book did take four years of work from everyone involved and that makes the price worth it if only so I might someday, in the distant future, break even.  So this is why I take some offense when I read reviewers writing about how great this volume is, and then go off on tangents about the price. It seems more like filler than anything else and some reviewers may get the wrong idea; that is to say, some reviewers may read ‘this book is way too expensive’ and receive that to mean ‘This book is great, but not that great.’  I hope that is not what my reviewers are suggesting (it doesn’t seem like they are, based upon the content), but it is possible that some may misunderstand the reviews in this way.

My other concern though is even if the price were halved (if my book were selling for $55) I’m not sure it would do any better.  If someone can afford to buy the book at $55 right away, in a week or two (whenever they get their next paycheck) they can afford $110.  And I’ve read reviews where people complain about books which are as low as $30.  And if a book sells a handful of copies a month, it will take years for the publishing house to see a profit.  The argument that ‘if books sold for less money, they would sell more’ is only true in certain instances.  When there is a high demand, when there is a bestseller, when people care about the issues.  As popular as the historical questions may be about the figure of Jesus, not everyone can make as much money on these questions as Bart Ehrman.  Publishers have to be realistic.

But Richard Carrier and Bill Hamby do raise an important issue.  Most likely, publishers could probably afford to lower the cost of academic texts.  And if the whole of the academic publishing community were to make a concerted effort to lower prices at once, it may make a difference.  I also think that academic publishers should consider lowering prices if only because I do believe that the internet will make academic publishing obsolete in the future–perhaps not in the next decade, but soon enough.  There is certainly a debate to be had about this, which is why I am writing on it, but I don’t believe the answer is ‘tell the publishers to lower prices’ because that can’t be the answer; academic publishers need to price high to break even because frankly there just isn’t much interest in whether or not the spaces in between the Greek mean much, or if the reception of the pastorals was such and such; only people in specialized areas of research need these books; it is bad business planning to price books low that won’t sell many copies.  I would like to think my book is the exception, maybe it is, but the publisher can’t take that chance.  People would start to lose jobs and that would be terrible.

UPDATE 5/15/13: The paperback version is now available for preorder and released at the end of July (…ceteris paribus) and is listed for $17.71!  So if you wanted a copy but couldn’t afford it before, it should be reasonably easier to acquire now.

It’s Official! ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ is Out Now!

Dear readers, friends, and colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that I have heard word this afternoon of the publication of the volume ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus (CIS Series; Equinox), edited by Thomas L. Thompson and I.  Stock will be available over the next few weeks (some distributors in the UK have already received inventory, like Amazon.co.uk and the Book Depository, which has ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ available for about $86 and $85 respectively; quite the discount considering the normal price of $110).  North American distributors should get stock in by the first week of August (though I hope stock will arrive much sooner).

First some background.  For those who don’t know, this project started four years ago, over a skype conversation.  It went something like this (I’m approximating from memory–reception history and all that):

Me: “You know, why aren’t these questions being asked?”
Thomas (amused): “I ask that myself; I’m not sure.”
Me (naively): “These questions deserve to be asked.  Maybe we can work on a project together.”
Thomas (thinking I meant a symposium of sorts): “That is a huge undertaking; where will we host it?  Who would come?”
Me (slightly confused): “Well we wouldn’t have to go anywhere necessarily to edit a volume, would we?”
Thomas (laughing): “Oh, I see!  Yes, yes, well first you have to define the questions you want the volume to ask.”
Me: “Okay, where do I start?”
Thomas: “Start by writing me a proposal with what you want the book to be about and we’ll go from there.”

And I did.  I wrote up the first draft of the proposal and Thomas sent it back to me full of red ink.  So I rewrote it.  Same results.

I wrote that proposal four times before a draft caught his eye and he said, “Now I think you’re onto something.  Let’s say you revise this one more time and then we’ll see where we are at.”  And so I did….and finally, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we had a solid proposal.

One thing about working on this project initially was that I had no formal training (back in 2008, though in 2009 I was back in school) and I had some rather bizarre misunderstandings about academic processes.  A lot of the very basic principles of academic discourse were foreign to me, despite the fact that I had spent many years researching the subject prior to starting it.

Looking back I was a completely different person when we started; I would like to believe this volume helped me grow, to become a better person, to become a better academic.  In fact is was partially Thomas’ urging, partially my desire to become credible, and partially some other personal dilemmas that were the catalyst to my return to school; I would probably still be living the same life I had been living in 2008 had it not been for this project, so in a lot of ways–both personally and professionally–I owe a lot to this collection of essays.  Consequently, I owe a lot to a great deal of people as well.

That said, I would like to take a moment to thank some individuals.  First and most importantly I have to thank Thomas Thompson for his patience in putting up with my incessant questions and middle-of-the-day-phone calls (for him anyway) to ask about something or another.  Without him, I doubt this project would have gotten off the ground; or if it had, I wouldn’t have been introduced to all the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of working with on this project.  Thomas has been a mentor to me since day one, when he responded to a series of questions I had for him about all sorts of topics.  With much enjoyment I listened to every one of his anecdotes and had more than a few laughs.  I have not stopped learning from him and hope that he will continue to relieve me of all my pesky bad habits and faults for years to come.

Also, much credit is due to the contributors, without whom this volume would not be as stunning as it is; Niels Peter Lemche, Roland Boer, Jim West, Lester Grabbe, K.L. Noll, Ingrid Hjelm, James Crossley, Emanuel Pfoh, Joshua Sabih, Mogens Müller, and Bob Price.  Wonderful people one and all. I may not agree with them on every detail, but I can say that this volume does not lack in talent and lucidity.  This project has born fruits in the form of many new friendships that I continue to cherish.  I hope the readers out there will enjoy their contributions to scholarship as much as I have.  I’m sure Thomas shares my sentiments.

On a more personal note, it takes a lot to trust a relatively unknown person like me; especially initially, when I was just some kid with an interest in history.  So as far as that goes, I hope that the final product is an indication of my respect for that given trust.  Thank you all for believing in this project and, in some ways, for trusting in me.  It says a lot about your character and quality.

I’d also like to thank Equinox for graciously accepting this volume for publication, and dealing politely with my nagging here and there.  Both Val and Tristan have been saints in this whole process, even going out of their way to explain things to me which–in my great ignorance–I’m sure was second nature to them.  I hope to work with equinox in the future and will recommend Equinox to other scholars in search of an excellent academic publishing house.

Finally, I’d like to thank Matthew C. and Kim H. for their generous contributions to my research materials over the last few years.  They are both excellent people and I am lucky to have them as friends.

Now, some minor errata…oh, yes, there is some of that…. no book is perfect, not even this one.

Having not seen the most recent publication yet (my copy is on its way and won’t arrive for a few weeks), I was dismayed when I opened the book (published last year–apparently one of several conference copies that were lost in the mail) and saw, in the very beginning of the introduction, a correction that I had stressed to the copy-editor to fix on several occasions.  It was sent in with every draft of the manuscript–including the final manuscript review–and mentioned in many email exchanges (because it was never changed whenever I looked at it).   The error is an embarrassing one.

In the quotation of Mark 6:3, instead of  ὁ τέκτων it reads ὁ τέκνων.   The difference may appear subtle, but the first means ‘craftsman’ (see my discussion here) and the second means ‘children’.  I’m certain it was missed when all of the Unicode Greek font had to be changed into SPIonic (to the terror of all involved), but needless to say I was not at all happy to see it in the final print edition I have, but when I saw it in the final edition there was nothing I could do.  I was not permitted to see the final post-galley PDF file that was sent to print (because of legal issues; the file could potentially be leaked and made available for free to people which would cut back on sales) so there was no way to be sure if any of my corrections made it (though, as I said, Equinox did a fantastic job despite this hiccup).

So with that glaring error pointed out for all to see, this post must come to an end.  But hopefully you’ll pick up a copy or ask your library to pick up a copy and, maybe–if the Publishing gods are happy with us–they will put out a paperback version which will be more affordable.

Recent book reviews of ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ can be found here:

Additional details:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Sets the Record Straight

I’m so happy about this video, I can’t really express it.   This is precisely what I have been saying for a while now.  I’m glad to see someone held in such high esteem saying the exact same thing.    Watch the video and then scroll down.

Now here is what is happening.  In response to this video, atheists are feeling betrayed.  Well, you know what?  He wasn’t yours to claim, so there is no reason for the feeling of betrayal.  Frankly, this is no different than when Christians try to claim the founding fathers, or when certain atheist groups misquote one of them.  There are agendas at play and I think Tyson is 100% correct.

He wants to avoid those agendas.  And frankly so do I.  And so do a lot of people.  And he is correct that certain terms are conversation stoppers or, conversely, can add on baggage to a conversation that doesn’t need to be there.  Frankly, I like the time ‘humanist’ to describe what I am.  It’s a positive term and it best describes me.  If someone asks me if I believe in a God I answer honestly, that I don’t have a definitive answer and it doesn’t interest me.  I have interests elsewhere.  And Tyson has interests elsewhere.  And that should be okay.

New Header Image and Updated ‘Mystery’

Because of my love for the Gnostics (and ancient mystery religions in general) I have thought it useful to update my blog header image and the ‘Of the Muses’ (upper-left column) information.

I will not give out the passage of the Greek text (though many of you students of intertextuality and mimesis will pick up on it right away, I hope), but the link in my ‘Of the Muses’ reference is to 11Q13.  See if you can pick up on all the mysteries. In the words of Paul, I suspect that only the mature (the τελείοις) will understand.

As Paul wrote:

No, we declare God’s wisdom a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (1 Cor 2.7)

Symbolically, then, why not include some in my blog header?  I can’t think of a reason.  Kudos to those who find it.

Well Done Rhode Island!

I have to say I’m a confused by the contradiction between two posts by Jim West who, only a day or two ago, scolded a school for having a song which praises Allah and who just today threw on the mask of persecution because a school had to take down a Christian prayer banner.   And if you can’t see the contradiction, you’re blind.

You cannot claim fowl when one religion (Islam) gets prominence over another (Christianity) and then claim fowl when one religion (Christianity) doesn’t get prominence over another (the rest of the world religions).  That is called hypocrisy and unless you have blinders on, it’s as clear as day.

 

Unfortunately Jim blames secular humanism and calls it “the only allowable religion in America”, which is patently ridiculous, since if this were the case then Jim West would not be allowed to be a Baptist.  Jim West is a Baptist (and a darn good one) and not in jail so obviously secular humanism isn’t ‘the only allowable religion’ in this country.  It isn’t even a religion, so Jim is wrong about this as well.

But what is most unfortunate of all is that Jim (and others in America) doesn’t seem to grasp the reason why we have a separation of church and state in this country.  It isn’t just Christian men and women who pay taxes in this country; Jews, Muslims, atheists, humanists, Buddhists, Scientologists, Raelians, Taoists, Hindus, all contribute to the money used to pay for public facilities like schools, libraries, court complexes, municipal buildings and all have equal rights to them.  Therefore it is all or nothing.  Either every religion is allowed to have a state/locality sponsored prayer or nonprayer banner or none are.

But it would cost more than it is worth to have every religion have a banner in a school or public building so the consensus (especially in this economy) is that none go up.  And that is the right mentality.  Nobody is taking away personal religious freedom; people have the right to pray in school privately (hell, my public school had moments of silence and people prayed all the time–it just can’t be a school-sponsored prayer where one religion is favored).  Besides, every good Baptist should be well acquainted with Matt. 6.6 (right, Jim?):

σὺ δὲ ὅταν προσεύχῃ εἴσελθε είς τὸ ταμεῖον σου καὶ κλείσας τὴν θύραν σου πρόσευξαι τῷ πατρὶ σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ο βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι.

Rhode Island did the right thing.  Religious freedom is something that must be upheld and by allowing everyone the right to feel comfortable and feel belonging at that public school, regardless of religious preference, they have upheld that right proving that Rhode Island is still a safe haven for religious freedom.

I suspect, however, that those who have criticized the Rhode Island public school system on this matter have confused several socio-political constructs: ‘Religious freedom’ has been confused with ‘Christian persecutionism’ and ‘majority rule, with minority rights’ has been confused with ‘might makes right‘.  And that is truly the travesty here.  Because what people who promote this sort of tripe want is a totalitarian rule–and they want the rulers to abide by their religious law.
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‘Secularism is a Humanism’ and Other Important Information

Jim West has recently agitated a few people in his post about Dawkins (here).   One scholar, Professor Avalos, has made it clear that he will expose Jim’s hypocrisy; this would not be the first time Jim and Avalos have exchanged blows.  But I wonder about the value of this back and forth between them and if it really accomplishes anything useful. Below are a couple of points before I get into anything heavy.

First, I don’t know whether or not Dawkins lied.  It isn’t any of my concern.  As far as it goes, Dawkins is an excellent zoologist and I love his work on memes and evolution but that is as far as it goes for me.  I can understand why people like Dawkins as an atheist but frankly he never impressed me.  And that’s fine–at least it should be–since I find the whole ‘does God exist’ debate to be dull and redundant.  But for others, I understand, it is a big issue.

Second, I don’t know if Jim is a hypocrite or not, but I’m certain he has made mistakes and false statements before (though he may deny both).  Perhaps not intentionally, but I recall one time where he posted up a false quote attributed to Darwin and, though he had been told that it was not a real quote, he still has it posted and never offered a retraction or made any indication that he cared.  That is troubling, since I know many Christians rely on Jim to bring them accurate information, even if he would rather them do their own fact-checking.

Third, I have known Hector Avalos for some time.  He and I do not always see eye to eye.  But I respect him and his scholarship and I believe that Avalos is a good and genuine person.  The same goes for Jim West.  I know Jim has his enemies, but I would not count myself among them.  I know Jim to be a dedicated scholar and an good person.

With that said, I have some gripes with both of them at the moment.  It has become clear to me that both scholars have developed mythical constructs of the other and rather than dealing with relevant and interesting questions that I believe they could both contribute to (and therefore advance the field of Biblical Studies), they are wasting their time attacking the mythos they have created–nothing but a caricature of the other.  And the fault rests with both of them.

Ad hominem attacks are common in academia–far too common if you ask me–and help no one.  Minimalists like Jim should know better since we are constantly defending ourselves from pot shots taken at us by BAR, or certain maximalists, and others.  We keep telling them, in our replies, that the arguments stand for themselves.  Attacking the person (as BAR had done to Yuval Goren) accomplishes nothing and is the lowest form of an argument.  Yet Jim is carrying the torch to light the flame war against Dawkins.  And I can see why Jim feels the need to do so, since he feels that certain atheists are out to destroy his profession, shut down churches, and remove all forms of Christian worship.

Avalos sees this assault on Dawkins as an assault on reason.  He believes Jim has misrepresented the facts, and maybe he has, but I don’t see how threatening to expose him will make a difference.  Those who agree with Jim will ignore Avalos and those who agree with Avalos will champion his article.  The problem here is that minds are closed to each other because one side sees the other as the definition of evil, of irrationality, or of depravity.

There is a threat out there, however.  There is a danger.  But this danger is the encapsulation of ones inability to compromise and live together in a functional society.  Both Jim and Avalos see society as broken in many ways.  Each blames the ideals of the other for it.  But they’re both wrong.  They’re wrong because the reason society is broken is precisely because each side has refused to budge, has refused to allow any sort of conversation.  I’ve written on these fabricated mythical figures before.   Wise words on deaf ears.

Just recently I was asked to co-moderate an open dialogue between a secular humanist group in Philadelphia and a local church.  The point of this dialogue seems to me to be an attempt by both sides to see beyond the fabricated mythos each has in place of the other, to develop a common bond and work together to bring about a more peaceful, tolerant world.  I was honored when they invited me to participate and I look forward to working with my christian counterpart to make this a very successful first meeting.   I hope that, if the meeting goes well, other groups both secular and religious will follow in our footsteps, permit an open discussion.

And that is my hope now.  Both Avalos and Jim are leaders.  People look up to them, expect to be guided.  Jim has stated before that being a man of faith is a calling to do the right thing.  And I believe that the right thing is to open a channel of communication.  Extend the olive branch.  Differences over matters of faith seem petty compared to the compromises that can be made and the positive consequences that come from them.

τί δὲ βλέπεις τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου, τὴν δὲ ἐν τῷ σῷ ὀφθαλμῷ δοκὸν οὐ κατανοεῖς (Matt. 7:3)

More wise words.  Let us hope they do not fall upon deaf ears.

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An Explanation of Religious Freedom

Listen, people of Earth: religious freedom does not mean you get to take rights away from, or continually deny rights to, other people so you can continue to freely subjugate, oppress, or objectify them because your religious beliefs say you must.  In other words, if you think ‘religious freedom’ means that you have the freedom to force the dogma of your religion onto others in an attempt to bind their actions to your views of morality and what you think constitutes punishment for those actions like a form of sharia law, then you are wrong.  Period.

Religious freedom means you have the right to opt out of something because you don’t agree.  That’s fine.  You don’t have to allow same-sex couples to be wed at your church or in your private establishment.   You don’t have to take contraception or use condoms.  That is your right.  You can still pray in public school so long as you don’t force everyone to pray like you or with you, nobody is going to point fingers and freak out (unless they’re jerks, in which case you should just ignore them).  You won’t be thrown in jail.  Nobody is taking your rights as a religious person from you.  In fact the government tolerates how silly some of your beliefs are, whether you believe that a tribe of Israelites lived in America before Columbus, or whether you believe the ghosts of aliens from outer space came here and are inhabiting the bodies of humans today; the government can’t tell you that what you’re practicing is wrong, even if you believe you’re really eating the flesh and blood of a man who died 2,000 years ago.

But that also means you have to tolerate everyone else.  Capice?  If you want to live in a religious state, move to a theocratic country where you can enjoy all the fruits that come from following the laws of a religious text that stopped being relevant to society hundreds of years ago.  Have fun!  But don’t you think for a second that you have the right to deny someone the same type of life you live simply because you have an ick factor that you cannot overcome.  Tough shit.  I have to put up with your crappy eisegesis of the Biblical text, so you have to put up with two gay men kissing in public.

Also, if you can’t recognize the difference between a government which allows religious freedom and a theocracy or a religious oligarchy then you should not be engaging in political debates or discussions. Consider, instead, taking a political science course. You need it.

Finally, you’re not being persecuted.  If you live in the West and you are a Christian, you have no clue what persecution is.  These people are persecuted (in the Middle-East).  Just because things aren’t going your way does not mean there is some secular war on religion or that the government is persecuting the Christians in this country.   Ironically, by seeking to deny rights to same-sex couples and women you’re persecuting others.  And if your moral code via your religious laws persecute others for being different, then perhaps you might reconsider the values your religions possess.

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