Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public Schools

Minnesota Atheists member Grant Steves discusses issues surrounding the issue of teaching the Bible as literature in public schools. Teaching the Bible in public schools is not unconstitutional, however, there are concerns which should be raised about which text books should be used, who is writing those books, and why. Also important is how it is taught by a teacher. A teacher must control his or her inner preacher or inner atheist when presenting the Bible as literature. Despite the concerns, there are legitimate reasons for teaching the Bible as literature in schools. Much of other literature makes reference to symbolism within the Bible. Poems, songs, movies, even the news can use quotes which are contained within the Bible, and it can be important to understand the context in which phrases are used. 




Worlds of Their Own Now Available

book_200px.jpg Worlds of Their Own, A Brief History of Misguided Ideas: Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair by Robert J. Scadewald is now available.  Minnesota Athiests member Lois Scadewald has posthumously published her brother's collected works on pseudoscience.  If you have ever wondered what makes pseudoscientists tick, how they think, and how they can find truth is such bizarre ideas, this book is for you.
You can hear Lois Shadewald talk about the book on our radio show.  We also have a review available.  You can visit the book's website, Worlds of Their Own.com .  If you want to purchase the book, it is available from the following sellers: Xlibris, Amazon.com, BN.com, Borders.com, or visiting your favorite bookseller.  If they don't have the book in stock, you have have them order it for you.  The hardcover ISBN is 978-1-4363-0435-1, and the softcover is 978-1-4363-0434-4.  

Truth Wins Out Campaign Against James Dobson's Induction into the Radio Hall of Fame

Truth Wins Out, an organization dedicated to exposing the lies of the "Ex-Gay" movement has launched an online campaign to prevent the induction of James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, into the Radio Hall of Fame.  TWO opposes the induction because of bigoted statements made by Mr. Dobson regarding homosexuals and his misuse of research to promote his view that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are dangerous.  You can add your name to a list of supporters here.

 Minnesota Atheists have a position to support equal rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation.  We do not condone the behavior of Mr. Dobson or Focus on the Family.

Minnesota Atheists along with Rochester Area Freethinkers will have a booth at the Rochester Gay Pride Festival from 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, July 11th.  Stop by and show your support!


Your Turn: It’s Time For Lifestyle Rebellion by August Berkshire

St. Cloud Times, April 19, 2008
Times Writers Group member Mike Williamson believes we should turn to the Bible and Christianity as a cure for modern-day sexual immorality. (“It’s time for cultural rebellion” April 11) Really?

Williamson condemns, as we all do, the sex crimes alleged to have been committed by a 32-year-old man against a 13-year-old girl in Becker.

But what does the God of the Bible tell the Israelites to do after conquering the Midianites and killing every man? “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Numbers 31:17-18.)

How are children treated elsewhere in the Bible? It is permissible to sell your daughter into servitude (Exodus 21:7). Disobedient sons are to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). And, anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death (Exodus 21.17).

When young people mock the baldness of God’s prophet Elijah, Elijah calls upon God to send two bears from the woods to attack the youths. God obliges, and the bears maul 42 young people. (II Kings 2:23.)

In the town of Sodom, Lot offers his two virgin daughters to the mob outside his home, rather than turn over two visiting angels (who, being emissaries from God, presumably could have made a miraculous escape). (Genesis 19:8)

Williamson advocates virginity until marriage. Is this because the Bible says non-virgin brides should be stoned to death? (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) Finally, there is the Bible’s God-ordained ritual of male circumcision, often performed on infants and children with little or no anesthesia.

Williamson talks about “the creator’s good plan for man and woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.” But, according to the Bible, God has no problem with polygamy (Genesis 29:17-28; II Samuel 3:2-5) or a married man having concubines (II Samuel 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chronicles 11:21).

What other “family values” might we learn from the Bible? According to Jesus, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26.)

Thus the mythical biblical gods of Jehovah and Jesus would be the last place we would want to look for family advice.

Many of the polygamous cults in this country that abuse women and children are Bible-based. The male clergy that sexually abuse children are ostensibly biblical God-believers. Why should we be surprised at these facts, given the Bible’s endorsement of patriarchy and women and children as property?

Yes, as Williamson advocates, it is time for a rebellion – but a rebellion away from Christianity.

We must get rid of the “sinful, forbidden fruit” aspect of sex, which only serves to make it more appealing to young people. We need comprehensive sex education for our young people – abstinence-based, not abstinence-only.

If we look to European countries, which have largely replaced Christianity with secular humanism, we find that young people engage in just as much sex as Americans of the same age, but it results in far fewer pregnancies and STDs. Ignorance and bliss do not go hand-in-hand.

Religion has failed, yet continues to do damage to society. It’s time to try something new, something that tends to improve the lives of people wherever it is embraced: atheism (the disbelief in arbitrary, “supernatural” authority) combined with humanism (which includes ethics based on compassion and evidence).

A lifestyle based on God-belief collapses when no evidence for gods exists. A lifestyle based on atheism and humanism has a greater chance for success because it is reality-based.

This is the opinion of August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists, the state’s oldest, largest and most active atheist organization.


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