the slippery sliding scale of religious delusion
Without exception, every Christian denomination believes in an all-powerful and benevolent creator deity. They believe this god, God, has left guidance for mankind in written form, in a collection of books called the Bible. Each Christian group interprets the words of their holy book quite differently, and this variance can be measured on a slippery sliding scale of religious delusion. Let’s examine this scale of 1 through to 5 in more detail, following the hot topic of homosexuality.
Point 1. The Christian Universalist Church has a strapline of “All God’s children – No-one left behind!”. Their interpretation of the god God does not involve the notion of an all-knowing, nice deity who creates sentient beings in the form of humans with the ultimate aim of punishing and torturing the majority of its creation. They like to quote Jesus saying , “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) and require that all their members “pledge that they do not endorse any form of hatred or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.”
Point 2. Since 2009, Quakers in Britain have backed equality in marriage. They recognise that the Bible is a “product of the time period in which it was written, although there are many messages with relevance to all times” and feel that “in the context of Biblical times homosexual relationships may have been extra-marital or have had different meanings, and therefore the Bible references to same-sex relationships don’t necessarily relate to committed relationships”.
Point 3. There are a lot of confused churches hanging around point 3 on the scale in this year of 2014. These churches are careful, distressed and almost falling apart over the issue of same sex coupling. We’ll take the Presbyterian Church of Scotland as our example church. Just last year they allowed actively gay men and women to become ministers, but this was a concession for liberal areas to opt out of the standard church policy on homosexuality, the practice of which is still generally regarded as sinful.
Point 4. Here we find the biggest Christian denomination in the world, the Catholic Church, which tells us: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered'”. They have an interesting suggestion for those of a homosexual persuasion who fall within their ranks: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
Point 5. At the end of the scale, we find the Westbro Baptist Church, whose website godhatesfags (I refuse to link) boasts charming pages listing endless Bible verses to populate informative tracts such as “Bible Verses About The Hatred Of God” and “God Loves Everyone: The Greatest Lie Ever Told. 701 Passages Proving God’s Hate and Wrath for Most of Mankind”.
What the scale tells us. The slippery sliding scale of religious delusion is useful for us to measure just how coherent those who follow the Bible are, because, unfortunately, if you do actually read the Bible, you’ll find that the nasty nutcases who reside on Point 5 of the scale are paying more attention to the words of this allegedly holy book than the nice people at the other end. If a benevolent being wrote the Bible, quite frankly I’ll eat my hat.