Why Even Atheists should Care about the Bible

 

What do you believe?
What do you believe?

Even atheists should care about the Bible.  Care about does not mean believe in or support or follow, but to ignore how influential it is in today’s culture is a bit like sticking your head in the sand.

 

Queer Look at the Bible was originally (and will return to be) a podcast I began back in 2006.  For a variety of reasons, I stopped adding episodes, and it has sat, dormant since then.  This isn’t confession, and I have no need to sort out all of the reasons, but one of them, was that by the time I started to produce the podcast, my own personal beliefs had changed dramatically.  Perhaps one of these days, I will write more about my own beliefs, but for this post, suffice to say I think there are three types of people who ought to follow my blog and podcast.

  1. GLBT people who are Christians and for whom the Bible holds meaning.  Maybe those who already feel somewhat liberated from more conservative fundamentalist readings, but also for those who are still stuck hiding within their churches and struggle with their sexuality and their beliefs.
  2. Open-minded Christians and people who are willing to think outside-the-box and consider different perspectives.
  3. Atheists and other non-believers who do care about the world in which we live, and for lack of a better descriptor- our culture. 
So how about that last broad group- atheists and non-believers.  For me, this includes people who don’t necessarily not believe, but aren’t practicing believers; people who aren’t sure they want to believe, but are afraid to admit that they don’t for fear of what might happen; people for whom it isn’t an issue of “believe in” who realize that being a religious person is about action not thought or feeling; as well as those who are sure there is o such thing as God- the true atheist.
No matter where you fall in the spectrum, you have to admit that the Bible affects everyone and everything.  Attitudes based within it affect the laws and government.  Consider the backlash to gay marriage.  The very notion that marriage is fundamentally about one man and one women… Or how prevalent prayer is…  We even have a vice presidential candidate that believes creationism should be taught as science.
No matter if the book or the belief system has personal meaning for it, it shapes much of our world, our government, and the establishments that make up our lives and our culture.  So how do we combat that without taking it (The Bible) away from those who have faith in it?  For they deserve to believe as they wish.  The world really is big enough for everyone’s perspective. The way we maintain a balance and let the believers and the not believers exist in peace is to broaden the discussion.  To be able to answer and counter oppressive viewpoints by offering other ideas.  By bringing light and reason to the mix.
What the Bible has to say- how to understand it, and what it may or may not mean is a topic for everyone if we are going to move our world, our lives and our culture forward instead of backwards into the dark ages.

Queer Look at the Bible

 

gayest jesus ever
gayest jesus ever

A number of years ago, I produced a news magazine program on the local public access cable station called “The Gay Nineties.” Almost every time I was at the station to edit, there would be some bible thumper in the studio, taping their sunday sermon and ranting on about homosexuals and other deviants.  One evening, taking a break from the editing booth, I sat down next to a woman waiting to get into the studio.  We chatted for a few minutes- she telling me about the scripture she was using this week, and didn’t I like the new scarf a friend had blessed her with so that she would look good on camera.  After a short pause, she looked at me and asked what program, I worked on- that I seemed like a nice boy ( I was considerably younger than she) and she hadn’t seen me around before.  I told her the name of my program, and she looked a little surprised, but remained pleasant.  I didn’t hear any ranting about gay people coming from the studio that evening!

 
Too often, the radical religious believe they own the Bible, and equally too often gay and lesbians abdicate participation in the Body of Christ- they hand over this document-the Bible- and allow it to be used as a weapon against them.  But can the Bible be like other hateful word-weapons?  Can some of the power be drained away, and a greater truth be found in a different interpretation of the meaning?