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Why Jesus?

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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.

Was Jesus Peaceable And Compassionate?

The birth of Jesus was heralded with "Peace on Earth," yet Jesus said "Think not that I am come to send peace: I came not to send peace but a sword." (Matt.10: 34) "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36) "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27 In a parable, but spoken of favorably.)

The burning of unbelievers during the inquisition was based on the words of Jesus: "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth... and men gather them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6)

Jesus looked at his disciples (Mark 3:5), and attacked merchants with a whip (2:15). He showed his respect for life by drowning innocent animals (Matt. 8:32). He refused to heal a sick child until he was pressured by the mother (Matt. 25:22-28).

The most revealing aspect of his character was his promotion of eternal torment. "The Son of man [Jesus himself] shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:41-42) "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched." (Mark 9:43)

Is this nice? Is it exemplary to make your point with threats of violence? Is hell a kind., peaceful idea?

Did Jesus Promote "Family Values"?

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)
"I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, ad the daughter in law against mother in law. And a mans foes shall be they of his own household." (Matt. 10:35-36)

When one of his disciples requested time off for his father's funeral Jesus rebuked him: "Let the dead bury their dead." (Matt 8:22)

Jesus never used the word "family." He never married or fathered children. To his own mother, he said, "woman, what have I to do with thee?" (John 2:4)

What Were His Views On Equality And Social Justice?

Jesus encouraged the beating of slaves: " And that servant [slave], which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke 12:47) He never denounced servitude, incorporating the master-slave relationship into many of his parables.

He did nothing to alleviate poverty. Rather than sell some expensive ointment to help the poor, Jesus wasted it on himself saying, "Ye have the poor with you always." (Mark 12:3-7)

No women were chosen as disciples or invited to the Last Supper.

What Moral Advice Did Jesus Give?

"There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matt 19:12) Some believers, including church father Origen, took this verse literally and castrated themselves. Even metaphorically, this advice is in poor taste.

If you do something wrong with your eye or hand, cut/pluck it off (Matt. 5:29-30, in a sexual context). Marrying a divorced woman is adultery (Matt. 5:32). Don't plan for the future (Matt. 6:34), don't save money (Matt 16:19-20), or become wealthy (Mark 10:21-25). Sell everything and give it to the poor (Luke 12:33). Don't work to obtain food (John 6:27). Don't have sexual urges (Matt 5:28). Make people want to persecute you (Matt. 5:11). Let everyone know you are better than the rest (Matt 5:13-16). Take money fro those who have no savings and give it to rich investors (Luke 19:23-26). If someone steals from you, don't try to get it back (Luke 6:30). If someone hits you, invite them to do it again (Matt 5:39). If you lose a lawsuit, give more than the judgment (Matt 5:40). If someone forces you to walk a mile, walk two miles (Matt 5:41). If anyone asks you for anything., give it to them without question (Matt 5:42).

Is this wise? IS this what you would tech your children?

Was Jesus reliable?

Jesus told his disciples that they would not die before his second coming: "There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matt. 16:28). "Behold, I come quickly." (Revelation 3:11)

It's been 2,000 years, and believers are still waiting for his "quick" return.

He mistakenly claimed that the mustard is "the least of all seeds" (Matt. 13:32), and that salt could "lose it savour" (Matt. 5:13).

Jesus said that whoever calls somebody a "fool" shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt. 5:22), yet he called people "fools" himself (Matt. 23:17).

Regarding his own truthfulness, Jesus gave two conflicting opinions: "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true" (John 5:31), and "Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true" (John 8:14).

Was Jesus a good example?

He irrationally cursed a fig tree for being fruitless out of the season (Matt. 21:18-19, and Mark 11:13-14). He broke the law by stealing corn on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23), and he encouraged his disciples to take a horse without asking permission (Matthew 21).

The "humble" Jesus said that he was "greater than the temple" (Matt. 12:6), "greater than Jonah" (Matt 12:41), and "Greater than Solomon" (Matt 12:42). HE appeared to suffer from a dictator's "paranoia" when he said, "He that is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30).

Why Jesus?

Although other verses can be cited that portray Jesus in a different light, they do not erase the disturbing side of his character. The conflicting passages, however, prove that the New Testament is contradictory.

The "Golden Rule" has been said many times by earlier religious leaders. (Confucius: "Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.") "Turn the other cheek" encourages victims of violence to invite further violence. "Love thy neighbor" applied only to fellow believers. (Neither the Jews nor Jesus showed love to foreign religions). A few of the Beatitudes ("Blessed are the peacemakers") are acceptable, but they are all conditions of future reward, not based on respect for human life or values.

On the whole, Jesus said little that was worthwhile. He introduced nothing new to ethics (except hell). HE instituted no social programs. Being "omniscient," he could have share some useful science or medicine, but he appeared ignorant of such things (as if his character were merely the invention of writers stuck in the first century).

Many scholars are doubtful of the historical existence of Jesus. Albert Schweitzer said, "The historical Jesus will be to our time a stranger and an enigma." No first-century writer confirms the Jesus story. The New Testament is internally contradictory and contains historical errors. The story is filled with miracles and other outrageous claims. Consisting mostly of material borrowed from again religions, the Jesus story appears to be cut from the same Fabric as all other myths and fables.

Why is Jesus so special? IT would be more reasonable and productive to emulate real, flesh-and-blood human beings who have contributed to humanity- mothers who have given birth, scientist who have alleviated suffering, social reformers who have fought injustice-than to worship a character of such dubious qualities as Jesus.

© 1993. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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Cookie Cutter Christs

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The story of Jesus was copied from earlier mythologies. It is cut from the same fabric as many other ancient superstitions. Following are nine of the more than 20 Savior/Sun gods who were said to be born of a virgin and sacrificed to save mankind.

Mithra
The birthday of Mithra, and ancient sun-god born of a virgin about 600 BC, was celebrated on December 25. Magi brought gifts to his birth. His first worshippers were shepherds and he was followed in his travels by 12 companions. Mother was said upon a cross in Persia to make atonement for humankind and take away the sins of the world. His ascension to heaven was celebrated at the spring equinox (Easter).

Mother celebrated "Last Supper" with is 12 disciples. The Mithraists observed weekly sabbath days and celebrated the Eucharist by eating wafers married with a cross. He was the great sun-god of the Roman world, the most powerful pagan faith in the Empire.

Mother was born in a cave just as Jesus was. The words of St. Paul, "They drank of that spiritual rock and that rock was Christ," are borrowed from the Mithraic scriptures; for not only was Mithra "The Rock," but one of his mythological acts (also appearing in the acts of Moses) was the striking of the rock which water came from.

Attis
Attis was born of a virgin mother named Nana, in Phrygia, something before 200 BC. He was hanged on a tree, died, rose again, and was called "Father God."

The Attis Cult became prominent in Rome about the year 204 BC. The festival of the death of Attis was celebrated yearly from March 22 to the 25th, and its influence on Christianity is undeniable, for in Italy, Gaul and Phrygia, the early Christians adopted March 25th as the date of the passion of Christ.

Buddha
Gautama Buddha, the 9th Avatar of India, was born about 600 BC of the Virgin Maya, or Mary. His incarnation was accomplished by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Maya. Some Buddhists believe that soon after birth, the infant Buddha spoke to his mother, saying, "I will put an end the suffering and sorrow of the world." A mystical light surrounded the infant.

Buddha performed miracles, was crucified, and he descended in Hades (hell) to suffer for three days, and then ascended into heaven. In Hinduism, the word Avatar means a god coming down in bodily form to the earth; incarnation.

Krishna

Krishna was the eighth Avatar of the Hindu Pantheon and is said to have lived about 1200 BC. The parallels between the life of Krishna and the life of Jesus Christ, as related in Christian mythology, are so close that some scholars believe that Christian writers copied their account from the Hindus.

The history of Krishna is contained principally in the Bhagavad Gita, the episode portion of the Mahabharata bible. The book is believed to be divinely inspired, like all other bibles; and the Hindus claim for it an antiquity of 6,000 years.

Krishna was born of a virgin, Devaki. An angelic voice from heaven announced to her: "In thy delivery, O favored among women, all nations shall have cause to rejoice." Krishna's birth in a cave was heralded by a star. He was visited by wise men who brought him valuable presents. In the Apocryphal Goapel "Protoevangelion," a work attributed to James the brother of Jesus, we have been told that the Christian Savior was also born in a cave. Krishna began speaking to his mother shortly after birth. Jesus also spoke to his mother shortly after birth, saying, "Mary, I am Jesus, the Son of God."

Hundreds of precepts uttered by Krishna display a profound wisdom and depth of thought equal to any of those attributed to Jesus Christ. The birth of Krishna occurred while his foster father Nanda was in the city to pay his taxes to the king. King Kansa sought the life of the Hindu Christ by ordering the slaughter of aU male children hom the same night as was Krishna. Krishna performed numerous miracles in Mathura and was crucified.

Quexalcote
Quexalcote, a Mexican god, was born in 587 BC of a virgin mother by the name of Chimalman. Hers was an immaculate conception, just like the Virgin Mary's. Many striking counterparts to the story of Jesus are found in Quexalcote's sacred biography: his 40 days' temptation and fasting, riding on an ass, purification in the temple, baptism and regeneration by
water, forgiving of sins, being anointed with oil, etc. He was crucified on a cross, with two thieves being crucified with him. He was put to death, buried, descended into hell, and resurrected on the third day.

Horus
Horus was born of the virgin Isis in Egypt around 1550 BC. He and his mother were of dark skin. Horus was an infant received gifts from three kings, and was crucified on a cross. There are about 200 close parallels of the careers of Horus and Jesus Christ.

Adonis
The god Adonis was born of a virgin mother called Ishtar (Easter), depicted like the Virgin Mary with her divine child in her arms. Likewise, she was hailed as the Queen of Heaven. Adonis was regarded as both the son and husband of his mother Ishtar, as God the Father and God the Son. This Babylonian legend is an archaic version of the Christian nativity story-God the Son incarnating as Jesus, while at the same time he is God the Father. (Was Jesus both Son and Husband of the Virgin Mary?)

The worship of Adonis (Tammuz) was quite popular among the Semites of Western Asia around 2000 BC. Adonis was crucified, and resurrected. He was sacrificed as was Jesus to save humankind.

Quirinus
Quirinus was a Roman savior born in the year 506 BC of a virgin mother. When he was crucified by King Amulius, the whole earth is said to have been enveloped in darkness, as was said of Christ.

Indra
Indra was born in Thibet in 725 BC. His mother was a virgin of black complexion, hence his was of the ebony hue, as in the case of Christ and some other sinatoning saviors. He descended from heaven on a mission of benevolence, and ascended back to the heavenly mansion after his crucifixion, He led a life of strict celibacy, which he taught was essential to true holiness. He inculcated great tenderness toward all living beings. He could walk upon the water or upon the air; he could foretell future events with great accuracy. He practiced the most devout contemplation, severe discipline of the body and mind. Believers said that Indra was crucified and that there was proof he was nailed to a cross.

© 1993 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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

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Let us introduce you to parts of the Holy Bible which you have not heard about in sermons from the pulpit, that may shock and dismay you and should certainly convince you that the bible ought to be X-rated.

Below you will find a pornographic view of sex and women, lewdness, depravity and sexual violence often ordered or countenanced by the biblical deity. Don't take our word for it-look it up for yourself.

GENESIS

4:17 Cain marries his sister?
4:19 Man "took unto him 2 wives"
12:13-19 Man prostitutes wife
16:2-4- Wife to hubby: "go in unto my maid"
17:9-14 "Ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin"
19:1-8 Rape virgins instead of male angels
19:30-38 "Righteous man" impregnates his 2 daughters while drunk
20:2-12 Man prostitutes wife again
20:12 Woman married to half-brother
22:24 Bible's first "concubine"
24:2-3,9 Place your hand "under the thigh" (sexual organs) of someone swearing sacred oaths
25:1-6 Keeping mistresses is not adultery
Ch. 29·30 Sordid tales of surrogate motherhood
30:3 Woman gives handmaid for hubby's sexual use
30:9 More sordid marital triangles
32:25 God grabs Jacob's testicles
34:1-31 Brothers are riled when sister is defiled
34:25 Circumcised men "were sore"
35:22 Man sleeps with father's concubine
38:8-10 Onan's method of birth control (withdrawal ejaculation) not approved
38:12-30 Woman "plays the harlot" to seduce father-in-law
39:7-20 Woman tries to rape man
47:29 Man ordered to place hand under father's thigh

EXODUS
4:25 Mom cuts off son's foreskin with (ouch!)
stone
20:26 God specifies building of altar to prevent exposure to nakedness
21:7-11 Female servants can be used for sex
21:10 Rule permits polygamy
22:19 Death decreed for bestiality

LEVITICUS
12:1-8 Bible calls childbirth a sin
15:16-18 Sperm and intercourse are unclean
15:19-33 Menstruation unclean; elaborate rules
15:29-30 Women require sin offering for menstrual periods
18:22 Homosexuality declared an abomination
18:23 More bestiality
19:20-22 Man gets forgiven, slave girl gets flogging
20:10 Adulterers shall be put to death
20:13 Death decreed for homosexuals
20:15-16 Death decreed for bestiality (human & beast)
21:9 Burn whore-daughters of priests
26:29 Curse: Eat your sons and daughters

NUMBERS
5:11-31 Fidelity test (belly rot) for women only
25:1 "People began to commit whoredom"
25:4 "Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord"
25:6-8 Holy man impales woman through her belly
31:17-18 Virgins raped as war booty

DEUTERONOMY
21:10-14 God okays captured maidens as trial wives
22:5 Men's clothing not to be worn by women & vice versa
22:13-21 A bride not a virgin must die
22:23-26 Virgin raped in city given no pity
22:28-29 Paying father to have sex with daughter
23:1 Man "wounded in the stones" (testicles) can't enter congregation
23:2 Children born out of wedlock condemned as bastards to 1Oth generation
23:10-11 Nocturnal emissions discussed
23:12-14 Defecation: Carry paddle, dig hole, & cover up
25:5-10 Woman has sexual cause to spit in man's face
25:11-12 A woman shall have her hand cut off for touching a man's penis
28:27 Hemorrhoids ("emerods") a punishment for sin
28:30 Lord's curse: Another man shall lie with groom's bride first
28:53-57 Curse: Eat your own body & children

JUDGES
3:20-22 Dagger in fat king's gut gets "dirt'' out
4:21-22 Hammer & nail murder by woman
8:30 Gideon had many wives, concubines
Ch.11 Virgin daughter sacrificed to God
14:20 Samson gives away wife to another man
16:1 Samson "went in unto" harlot
16:4-19 Biblical game of S & M
19:1-30 Woman raped and ruined by homosexuals
21:6-25 Amidst carnage virgins captured for wives

RUTH
3:6-9 To "hook" him as a husband, Ruth sleeps with Boaz. (4:9-10 Boaz buys Ruth)

I SAMUEL
1:5-11 Lord "shuts"" & "opens" womb
2:8 ''The Lord ... lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill"'
2:22-23 Priests' sons copulate at door of tabernacle
5:9-12 Philistines "smitten with emerods" (hemorrhoids) as punishment for stealing ark
6:1-5 To placate God, make golden hemorrhoids
18:25-27 200 foreskins gain David a king's daughter
25:22,34 A subject never mentioned in sermons

II SAMUEL
3:7 Concubine hanky-panky
11:1-27 Uriah murdered so David can get his wife
12:11-12 Obscene performance to be viewed by all Israel
5:13 David had many wives, concubines
Ch. 13 Amnon rapes his sister
16:2Q-22 Absalom rapes father's concubines on rooftop
20:3 David imprisons concubines for above

I KINGS
1:1-4 Virgin as therapy for sick old man
3:16-28 2 "harlots" feud-sexist tale
11:1-10 Wise Solomon has wives and concubines galore, promiscuous with "many strange women"
14:10, 16:11, 21:21 A subject never mentioned in sermons

II KINGS
6:28-29 "So we boiled my son, and did eat him"
9:8 A subject never mentioned in sermons
9:30-37 Unspeakable assassination of Jezebel
23:7 Male houses of prostitution destroyed

I CHRONICLES
1:32-33 More concubines galore

II CHRONICLES
11:21 King had 18 wives & 60 concubines

ESTHER
Ch.1-2 Sexual contest for new queen
1:11 Queen asked to "display'' body for men

PSALMS
45:10-17 Wily seduction by promiscuous Solomon

PROVERBS
5:3 "Lips of strange woman" warning
7:5-27 Intemperate warnings of "strange" women
30:20 Adulteress "eateth, and wipeth her mouth"

SONG OF SOLOMON
5:4 Man touches woman's "hole of the door'' and "my bowels were moved for him"
8:8 Little sister has no breasts

ISAIAH
3:16 "the Lord will discover their secret parts"
9:20 Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm
14:21-22 Slaughter children for fathers' iniquity
16:11 Bible boast: "My bowels shall sound like an harp"
36:12 Eating dung and drinking piss

JEREMIAH
16:4 Grievous, obscene deaths

LAMENTATIONS
2:19-20 Something to lament
4:10 Women boil children for food

EZEKIEL

4:12-15 God says: Eat bread defiled with dung
5:8-10 What's for dinner?
8:2 Lord's loins make guest appearance
16:15 Fornications pour out
16:36-37 Their "filthiness poured out ... "
23:1-40 Grisly tale related of two sisters who are whores
23:20 Sex organs and ejaculate of harlot's lovers compared to asses & horses
Ch. 24 Lord orders lewd "woman" boiled into "scum"
29:7-8 God performs bloody castration via a sword

HOSEA
1:2-11 God tells Hosea to take whore to wife
2:1-15 Complications ensue (lewdly described)

NAHUM
3:4-6 Lord: "I will discover thy skirts upon thy face"

MALACHI
2:1-4 Angry god will spread feces on your faces

MATTHEW
5:27-30 A man may lust, but it's not just
5:31-32 Man can divorce wife for fornication
19:3-9 Man who divorces and remarries is adulterer
19:12 Castrate yourself for Jesus
22:24 Woman must marry dead husband's brother

LUKE
2:21 Eight day old Jesus is circumcised

ACTS
8:38 Eunuch baptized
15:24 Circumcision is not commandment
16:3 Paul circumcises adult

ROMANS
1:26-32 Gay man and lesbians "worthy of death"

I CORINTHIANS
6:18-20 Abstain from extramarital sex
7:1-40 To be more holy, refrain from sex wholly
7:18-19 If you're not circumcised, stay that way

GALATIANS
5:1-4 Paul speaks against circumcision

I TIMOTHY
3:2,12 More than one wife OK, except for bishop

REVELATION
17:1-16 A drunken whore is stripped, eaten and burned

As Thomas Paine wrote in his classic book The Age of Reason: "Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system." Paine also observed: "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous 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."

© 1993 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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Dear Believer

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You ask me to consider Christianity as the answer for my life. I have done that. I consider it untrue, repugnant, and harmful.

You expect me to believe Jesus was born of a virgin impregnated by a ghost? Do you believe all the crazy takes of ancient religion? Julius Caesar was reportedly born of a virgin; Roman historian Suetonius said Augustus bodily rose to heaven when he died; and Buddha was supposedly born speaking. You don't believe all that, do you? Why do you expect me to swallow the fables of Christianity?

I find it incredible that you ask me to believe that the earth was created in six literal days; that women come from a man's rib; that snake, a donkey, and a burning bush spoke human language; that the entire world was flooded, covering the mountains to drown evil; that all animal species, millions of them, rode on one boat; that language variations stem from the tower of Babel; that Moses had a magic wand; that the Nile turned to blood; that a stick turned into a snake; that witches, wizards, and sorcerers really exist; that food rained from the sky for forty years; that people were cured by the sight of a brass serpent; that the sun stood still to help Joshua win a battle, and it went backward for King Hezekiah; that men survived unaided in a fiery furnace; that a detached hand floated in the air and wrote on a wall; that men followed a star which directed them to a particular house; that Jesus walked on water unaided; that fish and bread magically multiplied to feed the hungry; that water instantly turned into wine; that mental illness is caused by demons; that a "devil" with wings exists who causes evil; that people were healed by stepping into a pool agitated by angels; that disembodied voices spoke from the sky; that Jesus vanished and later materialized from thin air; that people were healed by Peter's shadow; that angels broke people out of jail; that a fiery lake of eternal torment awaits unbelievers under the earth. . . while there is life-after-death in a city which is 1,500 cubed, with mansions and food, for Christians only.

If you believe these stories, then you are the one with the problem, not me. These myths violate natural law, contradict science, and fail to correspond with reality or logic. If you can't see that, then you can't separate truth from fantasy. It doesn't matter how many people accept the delusions inflicted by "holy" men; a widely-held lie is still a lie. If you are so gullible, then you are like the child who believes the older brother who says there is a monster in the hallway. But there is nothing to be afraid of; go turn on the light and look for yourself.

If Christianity were simply untrue I would not be too concerned. Santa is untrue, but it is a harmless myth which people outgrow. But Christianity, besides being false, is abhorrent. It amazes me that you claim to love the god of the bible, a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can't tolerate criticism. I would not want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!

The biblical god is a macho male warrior. Though he said "Thou shalt not kill," he ordered death for all opposition (Ex. 32:27), wholesale drowning and mass exterminations; punished offspring to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5); ordered babies to be smashed and pregnant women to be ripped up (Hosea 13:16); demanded animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judged women inferior to men; is a sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Is. 45:7); discriminated against the handicapped (Lev.21:16-23); ordered virgins to be kept as spoils of war (Num. 31:15-18), Deut. 21:11-14); threatened to curse people by spreading dung on their faces (Malachi 2:3); sent bears to devour forty-two children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punished people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infantile; and said father should eat their sons (Ez. 5:10). Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?

And Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, "I and my father are one," and he upheld "every jot and tittle" of the Old Testament law. (Matt 5:18). He preached the same old judgment: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He believed in demons, angels and spirits. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. Women were excluded as disciples, and as guests at his heavenly table. Except for hell he introduced nothing new to ethics or philosophy. He was disrespectful to his mother and brothers; he said we should hate our parents and desert our families. Matt 10:35-36, Luke 14:26 (So much for "Christian family life.") He denounced anger, but was often angry himself. Matt 5:22. He said, "Think not that I come to send peace on earth, but a sword." Matt 10:34. (So much for "Peace on earth." He irrationally curses and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season. Matt 21:19. He mandated burning unbelievers. John 15:6 (The Church has complied with relish.) He stole a horse. Luke 19:30-33. He told people to cut off hands, feet, eyes and sexual organs. Matt. 5-29-30, 19:12. You want me to accept Jesus, but I think I'll pick my own friends, thank you.

One of Jesus's many contradictions was saying good works should be seen, and not seen. Matt. 5:16, 6:1-4. One of his mistakes was saying that the mustard plant has the smallest seed. Matt 13:31-32. The writers of Matthew and Luke could not even get his genealogy straight, contradiction the Old Testament, and giving Jesus two discrepant lines through Joseph, his non-father! (Matt. 1:1-16 vs. Luke 3:23-34).

I also find Christianity is harmful. More people have been killed in the name of a god than for any other reason. The Church has a shameful, bloody history of Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-burnings, heresy trials, American colonial intolerance, disrespect of indigenous traditions (such as American Indians), support of slavery, and oppression of women. Modern "fruits" of religion include the Jonestown massacre, the callous fraud of "faith healers," the sex scandals of televangelists, and fighting in Northern Ireland. Religion also poses a danger to mental health, damaging self-respect, personal responsibility, and clarity of thought.

Do you see why I do not respect the biblical message? It is an insulting bag of nonsense. You have every right to torment yourself with such insanity- but leave me out of it. I have better things to do with my life.

© 1987 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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Is America A Christian Nation?

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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."

© 1990 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
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This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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What's Wrong With The Ten Commandments?

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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!

© 1993 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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Why Women Need Freedom From Religion

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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.

© 1993 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All nontracts are available for purchase for a small fee at ffrf.org/shop, which allows FFRF to recoup its printing costs.

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Nontracts Full Text

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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 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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Heathen's Greetings

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Cookie Cutter Christs

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Confused? Bible Contradictions

Dear Christian

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Declare and share your nonbelief! Although the nonreligious — including one in five U.S. citizens — is a significant segment of the world population, many Americans have never knowingly met a nonbeliever. You can help dispel myths, educate and promote reason by adding your voice, face and message to FFRF's friendly neighborhood freethinker campaign. This is your chance to proclaim you're a freethinker and why. It's working for the gay rights movement. Now it's time for atheists and agnostics to come out of our closet. Many faces make Enlightenment work.

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