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Mardi Gras, bibles, and beads: Louisiana legislator pushes to adopt bible as official state book

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AndrewSeidelPressKitPhotoUpdate Mardi Gras, bibles, and beads: Louisiana legislator pushes to adopt bible as official state book

Louisiana State Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, has introduced legislation that would make the official state book of Louisiana one that advocates slavery, racism, misogyny, genocide, murder and human sacrifice. That book “shall be the Holy Bible,” according to the new bill.

Carmody is the second religious right-winger in as many weeks to tout the bible. FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor recently took Tony Perkins, who heads the Family research council (a hate group) to bible school. Perkins erroneously claimed that instructions to beat children, kill homosexuals, atheists and infidels, and to subjugate women are not in the bible. Barker and Gaylor bible-slapped Perkins, pointing out countless barbaric passages and principles espoused in the book Perkins claims to know but has apparently never read.

Rep. Carmody ought to read FFRF’s analysis, or the more extended analyses contained in Barker’s books (Godless, Losing Faith in Faith, and The Good Atheist or Gaylor’s book on biblical sexism, Woe to the Women: the Bible Tells Me So. Had he done so, this blog could have been avoided.

I cannot help but wonder why Rep. Carmody, if he has read the bible, is so eager to have the state officially endorse it. The book calls for the death of more than 19% of all adult Americans. Some 60 million Americans and 900,000 Louisianans are not affiliated with any religion, yet Carmody wants to endorse a book that says “whoever does not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman.” 2 Chronicles 15:13. A lovely message for any state government to endorse—in places like Iran or Saudi Arabia, but somewhat out of place here in the free world.

The bible also demands that you murder anyone, including a family member, who might try to get you to expand your religious horizons:

If anyone secretly entices you — even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend — saying, “Let us go worship other gods,” . . . you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them. But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the people. Stone them to death for trying to turn you away from the LORD your God… Deuteronomy 13:6-10

When the Israelites intermarry with the Moabites, another tribe or race, God orders Moses to “Take all the chiefs of the people, and impale them in the sun before the LORD, in order that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” Racism and human sacrifice in one passage. There are plenty of lovely tales of human sacrifice in the bible: Jephthah sacrificing his daughter to god, Abraham’s willingness to blindly murder his child for god, and god murdering his own son/himself in order to appease himself.

Perhaps these are the family values Rep. Carmody thinks most Louisianans respect: murdering your sons, daughters, wife, or most intimate friend because they believe in a different god? But I lived in Louisiana for seven years and cannot recall any of my neighbors exercising these “positive” values.

This legislation does not just endorse the bible generally, but the specific bible of a specific religion — a 1523 Latin Bible — which FFRF’s biblical scholars take to mean that Vulgate translation. Pope Damascus I commissioned the Vulgate translation and it was/is the official bible of the Roman Catholic Church. Do the other Christians in the Louisiana legislature know that Carmody is trying to promote Catholicism over other branches of Christianity? Does Carmody?

Then again, maybe Carmody is not ignorant of the sectarian nature of this particular version of the bible. Maybe he is deliberately endorsing Catholicism. After all, Mardi Gras, a Louisiana institution, has its roots in Catholicism. Nothing says Catholicism like flashy costumes, gaudy jewelry, booze (or blood, if you believe in magic), and gross attempts to use the power of the state to impose your religion on everyone else — Carmody’s latest bill continues that coercive tradition.

This proposal is unconstitutional on its face and should be opposed by every citizen who cherishes the freedoms protected by our First Amendment.

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