Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — Ethan Morrow: Handwriting on the wall

Vol. 35 No. 9 November 2018
Ethan Morrow                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

By Ethan Morrow

“Because I said so!” This is a phrase that virtually every child has heard. It serves as an escape for parents who wish to not explain their decisions. For toddlers asking why they cannot have the stuffed animal on the shelf, this response is sufficient. However, for rational adults, this type of thinking is dangerous. Unfortunately, this “explanation” is found in an important part of the United States’ culture: the bible. Worship of the bible, or bibliolatry, is a social danger as it obscures other beliefs and viewpoints, chastises modernity and hinders rational thinking.

The U.S., according to the Pledge of Allegiance, is a “nation under God.” However, after sustaining God’s weight for so long, the nation has started to collapse beneath him. The vision of the Founding Fathers of a nation that separated church and state has been forgotten. While the freedom to practice one’s own religion still stands, it is clear that Christianity has become essential in the political world. According to a 2017 article by the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of legislators describe themselves as Christian. With this overrepresentation in government, it is not surprising that actions such as the anti-Muslim travel bans have occurred. Non-Christian minorities have not only had their political voices drowned out, but also have been subjected to the law in unimaginable ways. Laws requiring the display of “In God We

Trust” have recently passed in six states and legislation over the implementation of prayer in public schools has been introduced. The public realm of the United States is becoming increasingly Christian, making daily life harder to navigate for those who do not conform to the faith.

The bible was written thousands of years ago by authors of a highly specific demographic: Middle Eastern males. Due to this, the bible is riddled with passages that support slavery, sexism, homophobia and a host of other society-plaguing issues. Society has changed substantially since the bible was written to the point that many parts are inapplicable. The potential for these outdated verses to be used by politicians as justification for unjust decisions and laws is more than a possibility, it’s a reality. Stepping outside of the political realm, antiquated biblical teachings have been used by extreme Christians, such as those from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, to rationalize their detestation of homosexuals and other marginalized groups. The bible, then, prevents society from embracing modern thinking by keeping its strict followers thousands of years in the past.

In addition to the bible’s outdated (and often inconsistent) teachings, it includes many commands which are not based on reason. Do not take the Lord’s name in vain, a colloquial version of the third commandment, is an example of a baseless demand. The bible does not explain the motive for the third commandment; nevertheless, God commands that it be followed. Without a clear purpose as to why not to take the Lord’s name in vain, the believer who conforms to this commandment does so for one reason: because God said so. This blind trust requires the believer to set aside his or her own rationality to essentially become a mindless worshipper. A strict interpretation and following of the bible, in turn, would cause rational human beings to become unquestioning followers of an often-baseless philosophy. While the loss of logic could be catastrophic in an average citizen, it would be significantly more dangerous in the case of a leader. Societies require a powerful, intellectual leader, but if the leader relinquishes his or her power or ability to think rationally, he or she is no leader at

all.

When Christianity and worship of the bible become extreme, three very real societal threats emerge. Firstly, when Christianity is the only voice, or the only one capable of being heard, it causes issues for minorities and marginalized groups. Secondly, when the antiquated teachings of the bible are applied to modern times, modern knowledge and ethics are neglected. Finally, when one only conforms to the bible’s words, he or she must relinquish his or her own ideas of ethics and logic for God’s, which causes followers to become mindless believers, incapable of dealing with reality rationally. Taking the bible’s message above its words would help combat these potential dangers. However, the only solution to the issue of bibliolatry is to put the bible into perspective to show what it truly is: a book, a collection of bound pages — simply unworthy of worship.

Ethan, 21, from Columbia, Mo., attends the University of Missouri-Columbia where he is seeking a master’s degree in communication. He also graduated from that university in May with an undergraduate degree in communications and a minor in romance languages. He hopes to get a Ph.D. and become a professor.