From Australian atheist Edward Falzon’s Facebook page:
I was born in Sydney, city of sinners. In the mid-80s, my family moved north to Brisbane, city of slow-driving sinners. Raised Catholic, I came to my senses in my teens, partly because I found religion to be utterly boring, and partly because I discovered that girls were generally more worthy of my attention.
My interest in religion was rekindled to a certain extent when I, quite accidentally, went on a date with a born-again Christian. It was strange to me that an intelligent, super-hot girl was so caught up in this thing called the bible, which we began to read at the end of our first date. Not the best first date in history.
Bigots are always quick to reference the bible when opposing gay marriage, attributing their prejudices to the will of God. But how well do they actually know the book that they harp on about so much? Do they know that the same book encourages human sacrifices? Are they aware that it also prohibits wearing clothing produced from multiple types of thread?
In Being Gay Is Disgusting [2010, Daijin], author Edward Falzon, 38, points out that Christian fundamentalists are cherry-picking which parts of their holy scriptures they follow to fit in which their own prejudices. He points out that the biblical god displays a code of morality that is a world away from that of most contemporary Christians, and he draws attention to the bits of “the Good Book” that nobody who isn’t completely insane would ever think of following.
I caught up with Edward to learn more about his controversial book.
Q. What was the inspiration for the book?
A. Years ago, I went on a date with a born-again Christian. Other than her need to pray out loud in restaurants, she was a nice person, and I wondered what made her so enamored with Christianity. I started reading a bible, and on the first page, I read that the sun is inside the sky of Earth, the moon is a source of light and the stars were created so we know what season we’re in. I concluded that no semi-intelligent Christian could possibly have read any bible and set about summarizing the whole thing.
Q. Do you think Christianity’s popularity is declining because most Christians aren’t actually familiar with the bible?
A: I certainly do. Even Christian websites concede that only about 5% of Christians have read a bible all the way through. There’s a reason atheists are more familiar with biblical contents: Most were religious, then read the owner’s manual and thought, “What the hell?”
Q. Which of the immoral and bizarre decrees supposedly handed down by God is the most disturbing?
A: It’s probably a 15-way tie. Maybe killing your children for being disobedient or slicing open the bellies of unarmed, pregnant women for being Canaanite. How about a god requiring a man to gut his own son to test how much he fears his god? Slavery is not only sanctioned but mandated and codified. Rape is an effective way to gain a wife. The list goes on.
Q. Why the subtitle “God likes the smell of burning fat?”
A. Partly for surrealism and partly to further illustrate the nonsense in these allegedly holy books. In the U.S. (“One nation under God”), no organization lobbies the government to burn the fat of sacrificed animals to please Yahweh. Churches don’t even do it themselves, but yet they still scream about how gayness is a sin.
Q. Why is humor such a powerful tool for exposing religion?
A: Humor is sometimes the best approach to subjects that some consider sensitive because they’ve little choice but to laugh at a concept when it’s distilled to its purest, simplest form. For example, it’s genuinely laughable when it becomes apparent that Genesis claims Abraham got rich from pimping out his 90-year-old wife.
Q. When did you first begin to question your faith?
A: Actually, I didn’t. I just grew out of it. By the time I was about 13, I neither knew nor cared whether the Christian god existed and was quite unaware of any other religion.
It seems to me that faith is like a leaky battery; if you don’t plug in and charge up at a church at least once a week, it drains out of you. You just forget about it and move on with your life.
Q. Why, as you have said, is Christianity particularly harmful to children?
A: It’s quite clear that threatening kids with eternal damnation, hellfire and suffering is going to cause them considerable distress, so that probably doesn’t need underscoring. More subtle yet equally harmful is how religion teaches kids and adults that it’s OK to believe something without the slightest shred of evidence, and even to believe things in the face of evidence to the contrary.
It also conditions people to disbelieve facts such as Darwinian evolution on the grounds that they’re unpalatable to their authority figures. This is upside-down thinking that stagnates and often reverses individual and societal progress.
Q. How has the gay community received your book?
A: I’ve had many positive reviews and none that were negative. They get the joke. In fact, my book barely mentions homosexuality.
The title comes from the modern-day reality, particularly in the U.S., that the only verse in the five books of Moses that is lobbied for is Leviticus 18:22, which I paraphrase in my book as “Don’t be gay; being gay is disgusting.”
Q. You recently completed an American tour. How did that go?
A: I had a great time. I spoke in about 20 cities, mostly at universities, and was very graciously received by secular groups. I’d have liked to have gotten back on the road earlier in 2013 but things got on top of me.
Q. What can we expect from you in years to come?
A: I’m writing the sequel to Being Gay. It will cover the entire New Testament and has a working title of Women Should Shut Up and Listen. I’m also nearing completion of a small book of quotes about the secular founding of the U.S., the irreligiosity of the founding fathers and other wise, anti-religious sentiments from clever people in history.
It will be entitled Asserted Without Evidence, and I’m hoping I can get it on the shelves in the next three months.