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.


There is Only One Issue that Matters this Election…

Now Where Have I Seen This Before? Coincidence?

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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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.

Why Does Santorum Say Crazy Things?

Politics and Religion in the Biblioblogosphere (The Quick Edition)

James McGrath talks about Newt’s comment about building a ‘Moon Base’ and how it relates to religion and Science Fiction.

We all share Bob Cargill’s frustration over Santorum’s recent claim that there is only 4,000 years of human history.  Santorum (third on the list), of course, one of the GOP candidates for the presidential race, is also one of the most corrupt politicians (yes, actually) and wants to issue a form of Judeo-Christian sharia.  Awesome.  I’m voting for him (not).

Also this happened (apparently Jesus wouldn’t care about the poor and only helps the rich).

Joel Watts facepalms over Santorum’s comment over birth control.

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