Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

%250 %America/Chicago, %2015

Nontracts Full Text

Why Women Need Freedom From Religion

Organized religion always has been and remains the greatest enemy of women's rights. In the Christian-dominated Western world, two bible verses in particular sum up the position of women:

"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." By this third chapter of Genesis, woman lost her rights, her standing—even her identity, and motherhood became a God-inflicted curse degrading her status in the world.

In the New Testament, the bible decrees:

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." 1 Tim. 2:11-14

One bible verse alone, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, if not millions, of women. Do women and those who care about them need further evidence of the great harm of Christianity, predicated as it has been on these and similar teachings about women?

Church writer Tertullian said "each of you women is an Eve . . . You are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law."

Martin Luther decreed: "If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it."

Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write: "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman's emancipation."

The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the advancement of women, opposing everything from women's right to speak in public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth (since the bible says women must suffer in childbirth) and woman's suffrage. Today the most organized and formidable opponent of women's social, economic and sexual rights remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions and the medical staff which serves them. Those seeking to challenge inequities and advance the status of women today are fighting a massive coalition of fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic churches and religious groups mobilized to fight women's rights, gay rights, and secular government.

Why do women remain second-class citizens? Why is there a religion-fostered war against women's rights? Because the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The bible establishes woman's inferior status, her "uncleanliness," her transgressions, and God-ordained master/servant relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell them into bondage, even sacrifice them. The bible sanctions rape during wartime and in other contexts. Wives are subject to Mosaic-law sanctioned "bedchecks" as brides, and male jealousy fits and no-notice divorce as wives. The most typical biblical labels of women are "harlot" and "whore." They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement. Contempt for women's bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible. The few role models offered are stereotyped, conventional and inadequate, with bible heroines admired for obedience and battle spirit. Jesus scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her, and issues dire warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women.

There are more than 200 bible verses that specifically belittle and demean women. Here are just a few:

Genesis 2:22 Woman created from Adam's rib
3:16 Woman cursed: maternity a sin, marriage a bondage
19:1–8 Rape virgins instead of male angels
Exodus 20:17 Insulting Tenth Commandment
21:7–11 Unfair rules for female servants, may be sex slaves
22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"
38:8 Women may not enter tabernacle they must support
Leviticus 12:1–14 Women who have sons are unclean 7 days
12:4–7 Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days
15:19–23 Menstrual periods are unclean
19:20–22 If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged
Numbers 1:2 Poll of people only includes men
5:13–31 Barbaric adulteress test
31:16–35 "Virgins" listed as war booty
Deuteronomy 21:11–14 Rape manual
22:5 Abomination for women to wear men's garments, vice-versa
22:13–21 Barbaric virgin test
22:23–24 Woman raped in city, she & her rapist both stoned to death
22:28–29 Woman must marry her rapist
24:1 Men can divorce woman for "uncleanness," not vice-versa
25:11–12 If woman touches foe's penis, her hand shall be cut off
Judges 11:30-40 Jephthah's nameless daughter sacrificed
19:22–29 Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man
I Kings 11:1–4 King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines
Job 14:1–4 "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . ."
Proverbs 7:9–27 Evil women seduce men, send them to hell
11:22 One of numerous Proverbial putdowns
Isaiah 3:16–17 God scourges, rapes haughty women
Ezekiel 16:45 One of numerous obscene denunciations
Matthew 24:19 "[woe] to them that are with child"
Luke 2:22 Mary is unclean after birth of Jesus
I Corinthians 11:3–15 Man is head of woman; only man in God's image
14:34–35 Women keep in silence, learn only from husbands
Ephesians 5:22–33 "Wives, submit . . ."
Colossians 3:18 More "wives submit"
I Timothy 2:9 Women adorn selves in shamefacedness
2:11–14 Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless
Why should women—and the men who honor women—respect and support religions which preach women's submission, which make women's subjugation a cornerstone of their theology?

When attempts are made to base laws on the bible, women must beware. The constitutional principle of separation between church and state is the only sure barrier standing between women and the bible.

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Why Jesus?

Jesus has been held in high regard by Christians and non-Christians alike. Regardless of whether he existed in history, or whether he was divine, many have asserted that the New Testament Christ character was the highest example of moral living. Many believe that his teachings, if truly understood and followed, would make this a better world.

Is this true? Does Jesus merit the widespread adoration he has received? Let's look at what he said and did.

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What's Wrong With The Ten Commandments?

Critics of the Christian bible occasionally can score a point or two in discussion with the religious community by noting the many teachings in both the Old and New Testaments that encourage the bible believer to hate and to kill, biblical lessons that history proves Christians have taken most seriously. Nonetheless the bible defendant is apt to offer as an indisputable parting shot, "But don't forget the ten commandments. They are the basic bible teaching. Study the ten commandments."

Do study the ten commandments! They epitomize the childishness, the vindictiveness, the sexism, the inflexibility and the inadequacies of the bible as a book of morals.

Actually, only six of the ten commandments deal with an individual's moral conduct, which comes as a surprise to most Christians. Essentially, the first four commandments say:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make thee any graven images or bow down to them, and if you do I'll get you and your kids and their descendants.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the lord in vain.
4. Keep the Sabbath holy.
The exact terminology is found in chapter five of Deuteronomy. Two other versions of the "ten commandments" can be found in the Old Testament. One version, in Exodus 20, differs slightly from the Deu­ter­onomy version, while a third, in Exodus 34, is wildly different, containing commandments about sacrifices and offerings and ending with the teaching: "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk." This is the only version referred to in scriptures as the "ten commandments."

In essence, the first four commandments all scream that "the lord thy god" has an uneasy vanity, and like most dictators, must resort to threats, rather than intellectual persuasion, to promote a point of view. If there were an omnipotent god, can you imagine him or her being concerned if some poor little insignificant creature puttered around and made a graven image? Do you think that any god, possessing the modicum of good will you could expect to find in any neighbor, would want to punish children even "unto the third and fourth generation" because their fathers could not believe? How can anyone not perceive the pettiness, bluster, bombast and psychotic insecurity behind the first four commandments? We are supposed to respect this!

"Honor thy father and thy mother" is the fifth commandment, and it is, of course, an extension of the authoritarian rationale behind the first four. Honor cannot be bestowed automatically by an honest intellect. Intellectually honest people can honor only those who, in their opinion, warrant their honor. The biologic fact of fatherhood and motherhood does not in and of itself warrant honor. Until very recently parenthood was not a matter of choice. It still is a mandatory, not optional, happening for many of the world's people. Why should any child be commanded to honor, without further basis, parents who became parents by accident—who didn't even plan to have a child? All of us know children who have been abused, beaten or neglected by their parents. What is the basis for honor there? How does the daughter honor a father who sexually molests her? "Honor only those who merit your honor" would be a more appropriate teaching, and if that includes your parents, great! "Honor your children" would have been a compassionate commandment.

Commandments six through nine—thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal or bear false witness—obviously have merit, but even they need extensive revision. To kill in self-defense is regrettable, but it is certainly morally defensible, eminently sensible conduct. So is the administration of a shot or medication that will end life for the terminally ill patient who wishes to die.

Adultery, the subject of the seventh commandment, again raises the question of an absolute ban. For the most part fidelity in marriage is a sound rule, making for happiness; but some marriages may outlast affection. Some couples may agree to live by different rules. Until relatively recent times Christian marriages were not dissolvable except by death, so the ban of divorce coupled with the ban of adultery obviously created great distress. Adultery, it must be remembered, involves an act between consenting adults. How much more relevant and valuable it would be to have, for instance, a commandment that forbids the violent crimes of rape and incest.

"Thou shalt not steal" raises questions regarding the usefulness of a blanket condemnation, and may put squatter's rights ahead of public and private welfare. Should people who are cold or ill steal to ameliorate their situations? Should the child who is hungry steal? Surely this commandment cries for some amending clauses. One is reminded of the comment of Napoleon, who really had religion figured out: "How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of surfeit, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares, 'God wills it thus.' Religion is excellent stuff for keeping people quiet."

In general, to bear false witness is construed to mean "don't lie," and that is a valuable moral precept, except again it is stated in absolute terms. Lies have saved lives, they have preserved relationships, and every day they save hurt feelings. The truth is not always a reasonable or kind solution. Interestingly, in biblical times the dictum not to bear false witness against a neighbor was a tribal commandment and meant to apply only to persons within the tribe—it was quite all right to bear false witness against "strangers."

Finally, the tenth commandment, which riles the feminist blood, says: "Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor's." In addition to rating a wife with an ox and an ass, the bible loftily overlooks the woman who might desire her neighbor's husband. Covetousness somehow does not seem like such a crime. If you can't have a comfortable house or a productive farm, what is the great harm in wishing you did? Covetousness may be nonproductive and unpretty, but to make a big, bad deal out of it is ridiculous.

Bible apologists sometimes will excuse the triviality of the tenth commandment on the basis that to covet, in a more superstitious age, meant "to cast an evil eye." Someone who coveted "his neighbor's house" was purportedly casting an evil eye on that property with a view toward its destruction. Whether one accepts the apologist's definition of covet or the more popular meaning, the tenth commandment lacks real importance.

Little in Christianity is original. Most of it is borrowed, just as the celebration of Christmas was borrowed from Roman and earlier pagan times. When the "lord" supposedly wrote his commandments on two tablets of stone and delivered them to Moses (Deut. 5:22), he was only aping earlier gods: Bacchus, Zoroaster and Minos.

Reflect for a moment that almost anyone reading this nontract could write a kinder, wiser, more reasonable set of commandments than those that Christians insist we honor. Try it!

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What They Said About Religion

Freethought quotes by famous people.

I don't believe in God, because I don't believe in Mother Goose. --Clarence Darrow

Nature made us--nature did it all--not the gods of the religions.--Thomas A. Edison

It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain. --Mark Twain

The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman's emancipation.--Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.--Ambrose Bierce

Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear. --Thomas Jefferson

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize [hu]mankind. --Thomas Paine

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What Is A Freethinker?

Nontracts — the freethought answer to ubiquitous religious tracts. Brief but thorough, easy to read, 3 1/2 x 4 1/4-inch folded brochures address many common myths about freethought or religion. Order individual packs (12 for $4), a Sample Pack or by bulk (100 or more of the same nontract for $16).

free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.

No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.

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What Does The Bible Say About Abortion?

Absolutely nothing! The word "abortion" does not appear in any translation of the bible!

Out of more than 600 laws of Moses, none comments on abortion. One Mosaic law about miscarriage specifically contradicts the claim that the bible is antiabortion, clearly stating that miscarriage does not involve the death of a human being. If a woman has a miscarriage as the result of a fight, the man who caused it should be fined. If the woman dies, however, the culprit must be killed:

"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

"And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . ."--Ex. 21:22-25

The bible orders the death penalty for murder of a human being, but not for the expulsion of a fetus.

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Ten Common Myths About Atheists

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Is America A Christian Nation?

The U.S. Constitution is a secular document. It begins, "We the people," and contains no mention of "God" or "Christianity." Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust" (Art. VI), and "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (First Amendment). The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase "so help me God" or any requirement to swear on a bible (Art. II, Sec. 7). If we are a Christian nation, why doesn't our Constitution say so? In 1797 America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington's presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

What about the Declaration of Independence?

We are not governed by the Declaration. Its purpose was to "dissolve the political bands," not to set up a religious nation. Its authority was based on the idea that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," which is contrary to the biblical concept of rule by divine authority. It deals with laws, taxation, representation, war, immigration, and so on, never discussing religion at all. The references to "Nature's God," "Creator," and "Divine Providence" in the Declaration do not endorse Christianity. Thomas Jefferson, its author, was a Deist, opposed to orthodox Christianity and the supernatural.

What about the Pilgrims and Puritans?

The first colony of English-speaking Europeans was Jamestown, settled in 1609 for trade, not religious freedom. Fewer than half of the 102 Mayflower passengers in 1620 were "Pilgrims" seeking religious freedom. The secular United States of America was formed more than a century and a half later. If tradition requires us to return to the views of a few early settlers, why not adopt the polytheistic and natural beliefs of the Native Americans, the true founders of the continent at least 12,000 years earlier?

Most of the religious colonial governments excluded and persecuted those of the "wrong" faith. The framers of our Constitution in 1787 wanted no part of religious intolerance and bloodshed, wisely establishing the first government in history to separate church and state.

Do the words "separation of church and state" appear in the Constitution?

The phrase, "a wall of separation between church and state," was coined by President Thomas Jefferson in a carefully crafted letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, when they had asked him to explain the First Amendment. The Supreme Court, and lower courts, have used Jefferson's phrase repeatedly in major decisions upholding neutrality in matters of religion. The exact words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the Constitution; neither do "separation of powers," "interstate commerce," "right to privacy," and other phrases describing well-established constitutional principles.

What does "separation of church and state" mean?

Thomas Jefferson, explaining the phrase to the Danbury Baptists, said, "the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions." Personal religious views are just that: personal. Our government has no right to promulgate religion or to interfere with private beliefs.

The Supreme Court has forged a three-part "Lemon test" (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971) to determine if a law is permissible under the First-Amendment religion clauses. (1) A law must have a secular purpose. (2) It must have a primary effect which neither advances nor inhibits religion. (3) It must avoid excessive entanglement of church and state. The separation of church and state is a wonderful American principle supported not only by minorities, such as Jews, Moslems, and unbelievers, but applauded by most Protestant churches that recognize that it has allowed religion to flourish in this nation. It keeps the majority from pressuring the minority.

What about majority rule?

America is one nation under a Constitution. Although the Constitution sets up a representative democracy, it specifically was amended with the Bill of Rights in 1791 to uphold individual and minority rights. On constitutional matters we do not have majority rule. When the majority in certain localities voted to segregate blacks, this was declared illegal. The majority has no right to tyrannize the minority on matters such as race, gender, or religion.

Not only is it unAmerican for the government to promote religion, it is rude. Whenever a public official uses the office to advance religion, someone is offended. The wisest policy is one of neutrality.

Isn't removing religion from public places hostile to religion?

No one is deprived of worship in America. Tax-exempt churches and temples abound. The state has no say about private religious beliefs and practices, unless they endanger health or life. Our government represents all of the people, supported by dollars from a plurality of religious and non-religious taxpayers. Some countries, such as the U.S.S.R., expressed hostility to religion. Others, such as Iran ("one nation under God"), have welded church and state. America wisely has taken the middle course—neither for nor against religion. Neutrality offends no one, and protects everyone.

The First Amendment deals with "Congress." Can't states make their own religious policies?

Under the "due process" clause of the 14th Amendment (ratified in 1868), the entire Bill of Rights applies to the states. No governor, mayor, sheriff, public school employee, or other public official may violate the human rights embodied in the Constitution. The government at all levels must respect the separation of church and state. Most state constitutions, in fact, contain language that is even stricter than the First Amendment, prohibiting the state from setting up a ministry, using tax dollars to promote religion, or interfering with freedom of conscience.

What about "One nation under God" and "In God We Trust?"

The words, "under God," did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them. Likewise, "In God We Trust" was absent from paper currency before 1956. It appeared on some coins earlier, as did other sundry phrases, such as "Mind Your Business." The official U.S. motto, chosen by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, is E Pluribus Unum ("Of Many, One"), celebrating plurality, not theocracy.

Isn't American law based on the Ten Commandments?

Not at all! The first four Commandments are religious edicts having nothing to do with law or ethical behavior. Only three (homicide, theft, and perjury) are relevant to American law, and have existed in cultures long before Moses. If Americans honored the commandment against "coveting," free enterprise would collapse! The Supreme Court has ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in public schools is unconstitutional.

Our secular laws, based on the human principle of "justice for all," provide protection against crimes, and our civil government enforces them through a secular criminal justice system.

Why be concerned about the separation of church and state?

Ignoring history, law, and fairness, many fanatics are working vigorously to turn America into a Christian nation. Fundamentalist Protestants and right-wing Catholics would impose their narrow morality on the rest of us, resisting women's rights, freedom for religious minorities and unbelievers, gay and lesbian rights, and civil rights for all. History shows us that only harm comes of uniting church and state.

America has never been a Christian nation. We are a free nation. Anne Gaylor, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, points out: "There can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent."

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Heathen's Greetings

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Dear Believer

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Cookie Cutter Christs

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Confused? Bible Contradictions

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An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible

Dear Christian

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