Over the years, believers and atheists have had their fair share of spats. But, as time progresses, it seems that the tit for tat arguments that often season debates between the two parties are increasing in their ferocity.
Over the weekend, Backyard Skeptics, an atheist group out in Orange County, California, decided to rip apart photocopied pages of the Christian Bible in an effort to rail against the book's "immoral" teachings. Beliefnet's Rob Kerby has more:
[The group] says the demonstration is based loosely on Thomas Jefferson’s Bible – an 86-page book that omits huge chunks of the New Testament, according the Religion News Service. Jefferson’s Bible, which the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is restoring, chronicles Jesus’ life but leaves out the Resurrection and all miracles the Bible says Jesus performed.
Bruce Gleason, the group's director, explained the Backyard Skeptics' opposition to the holy book. “We’re not there to burn the Bible or desecrate," he said. "But there are plenty verses in the Bible that if you did any of those things today, you’d be thrown in jail immediately.” He continued:
“We want to make this a better world for secular and humanistic values. We don’t believe prayer works. We don’t believe religion adds anything except a sense of false hope.”
In actions that the Washington Post's Brad Hirschfield called "hypocritical" (after all, these are "free thinkers" who are purposely destroying something they disagree with), these non-believers decided to hold the very public demonstration to showcase their disrespect for Christian scriptures.
To make sure that people would see the event regardless of their location, Backyard Skeptics even aired it live on UStream.com. Below, find a report from an atheist involved in the event as well as some raw footage from the demonstration:
Also, watch the following event explanation, featuring an interview with Gleason (who admits getting "carried away" and actually tearing up a page from the Bible) and attendee reaction (via the Orange County Register):
Hirschfield responds to all of this, writing:
Fanatical atheism is no worse and no better than fanatical religion, though it may be more bitterly ironic. There is something pretty odd, dare I say hypocritical, about a bunch of people who call themselves “freethinkers” and “humanists” not only verbally abusing people of faith, but actually tearing up verses from the Bible as an act of protest...
And in the Baptist Press, Kelly Boggs discusses the lack of media coverage the event has received:
If the organization were Christian and ripping pages from the Quran or destroying the book "Heather Has Two Mommies," it likely would have garnered media attention from sea to shining sea, with the Christians portrayed as insensitive bigots or intolerant censors.
Considering the negative attention a Florida pastor brought upon himself over his Koran-burning exploits, it's a wonder this hasn't warranted more media scrutiny.