Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slaves, Obey Your Masters


Slaves, obey your masters. So says the bible. The Pennsylvania Association of Nonbelievers quite rightly wanted to point out that the bible supports many things that no civilized person approves of any more. They installed this billboard in Harrisburg to prove a point to the state legislature, which declared “the year of the bible",” exhorting citizens to “study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.” Does the legislature want to bring back slavery? One would hope not, but the blanket approval of scripture would mean supporting slavery, the stoning of adulterers, and casting lepers out into the street.

Let’s just say that reaction to the billboard was swift, and not in a good way. The bill board was vandalized and groups such as the NAACP demanded an apology. The atheist group removed the vandalized board and apologized.

It isn’t clear to me what the fuss is about. The billboard shows a man shackled as many enslaved people were in horrific contraptions which kept them running away. I don’t think most people have this picture in their minds when they think of slavery, but they ought to. The billboard doesn’t support slavery, it merely points out that the bible says it was acceptable.

Christians always talk about discerning the scriptures, which ought to mean reading them critically. I guess if  the same message comes from atheists it can suddenly be ignored.

I think the brouhaha emerged because black people don’t know how to think about slavery. It is a subject which is just too painful for us to comprehend. We don’t see images of slavery like this, and we don’t want to either.

Attacking the bible is no small thing either. No one wants to hear that the book they are told is inerrant also supported the same thing that brings them so much pain.

As they say in church, this was a teachable moment. I hope someone was doing their homework.