Southern Religion

Grand Theft Jesus


Andy Schlafly’s self-promotional ploy the Conservative Bible Project seeks to transmogrify sacred text to political ends.

Part of (son of Phyllis) Schlafly’s ConservaPedia, this attempt at grand theft Jesus has been derided by the Christian and conservative (1, 2, 3, 4). Although we could find no reaction from Southern Baptist Convention right-wing heavies like Richard Land,’s Bruce Gorley weighed in, along with pastor Jim Evans of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala., and others. As well as skeptics like Ed Brayton.

Yet even Religion Dispatches cannot tell us today, “Whether or not Biblical inerrantists accept the idea that Andy Schlafly and other like-minded individuals are the true guardians of the original meaning . . . .”

Uh huh. In this case, we will risk contradiction and call that one a FAIL.

In a story which struggles not to burst into laughter, Shawna Richer of Canada’s Globe & Mail quotes Schlafly’s explanation for the effort:

The trouble is, new translations of the Bible are done by professors at liberal universities who overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Their political bias seeps into their translations and we felt it necessary to counteract that with one that uproots and eradicates any liberal bias.

In an interview with Canada’s The Star, Schlafly’s favorite “liberal” passages were Jesus saving an adulteress from being stoned in John 7:53-8:11, and Luke 23:34, in which Jesus asks God to forgive his crucifiers, “for they know not what they do.”

Claude Mariottini, professor of Old Testament at independent Northern Baptist Seminary, writes:

If conservative Christians make an effort to rewrite the Bible in order to present a conservative translation as an effort to eliminate liberal interpretation of Biblical texts, then such a translation will violate every hermeneutical principle used by Bible translators in their effort to give the reading public a translation that is faithful to the original intent of the Biblical writer.

James McGrath, associate professor of religion at indepedent Butler University in Indianapolis, said “the translators don’t appear to have any knowledge of the text’s original meaning:”

If it’s an attempt at humor, it’s hilarious, but I have a sinking feeling it’s something else – that conservatives are realizing the Bible does not always serve their interests, something the rest of us have known for some time.

But some element of humour should be part of a healthy response to this, because there’s a danger that taking it too seriously gives it credibility it wouldn’t otherwise have.

October 21, 2009 - Posted by | Religion, Satire, Uncategorized, WWW

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