Fundamentalist Bible Interpretation In American Politics: John Shimkus Declares That The Earth Will End Only When God Declares It’s Time To Be Over
What happens when fundamentalist Bible interpretation becomes the source of policy decisions in American politics? It produces bad government policy and more examples of Bible Babble Politics.
For a prime example of Bible Babble Politics, consider the words of John Shimkus, who wants to be the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce when the Republicans assume leadership of the House of Representatives. Shimkus claims that he is “uniquely qualified” to lead this committee.
Nick Wing, in his article, “John Shimkus, GOP Rep. Who Denies Climate Change On Religious Grounds, Could Lead House Environmental Policy,” makes this statement about Shimkus.
The highest-ranking House official in charge of environmental and energy policy may soon be a Republican legislator who denies climate change on the grounds of his belief that nothing bad can come of the Earth unless it is preordained by God (John Shimkus.)
Read the whole post on Bible Authority In American Politics.
Discover “Bible Interpretation Questions That Bad Bible Bullies Don’t Want You To Ask” by subscribing to Bible Authority Questions Email Newsletter.
For Your Freedom,
Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D.
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Posted by Kalinda Rose Stevenson - November 16, 2010 at 11:03 am
Categories: Bible Authority, Bible Interpretation, Freedom Story Tags: american politics, bible interpretation, bible verses, Climate Change, Gop, House Committee On Energy And Commerce, John Shimkus, religion, republican legislator, Shimkus, Shimkus Climate Change, Shimkus Climate Change God, Shimkus Energy And Commerce, Shimkus God Climate Change, toronto star, word of god
Does The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible have greater Bible authority than any other translation?
The question of Bible authority is particularly relevant for the King James Version because is also known as the “Authorized Version” (AV) (spelled “Authorised Version” using British spelling.)
This leads to an important question: Who authorized the King James Bible? Read more…
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Posted by Kalinda Rose Stevenson - October 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm
Categories: Bible Authority, Freedom Story, What Is The Bible? Tags: anglican, authority, authorized version, av, Bible, bible authority, king james bible, king james version, kjv, kjv of the bible, politics, puritan, religion, sir thomas more, translations of the bible, tudors, version kjv, word of god
Who has authority over you? This is the basic question lying beneath “Freedom From Bad Bible Bullies.”
Why focus on the question of authority?
Religion Ties You Back
Religion is fundamentally about authority. The word religion means “tied back.”
Every religion makes particular authority claims over people who are part of the religion. Different religions make different authority claims. The claims range from very strong claims of authority to minimal claims.
The key point is that every religion makes its own authority claims over those who profess to be part of the religion. If you are willing to be part of a religion, you willingly surrender some of your personal freedom to the authority of that religion. Read more…
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Posted by Kalinda Rose Stevenson - September 19, 2010 at 11:26 am
Categories: Bible Authority Questions, Freedom Story Tags: bible authority, Bible Authority Questions, bible questions, biblical scholar, obedience, obedience to authority, personal freedom, religion, religious authority, spirituality
By Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D.
What Do Bible Scholars Believe About The Bible?
What is the connection between Bible scholarship and Christian belief? Put another way, do all biblical scholars share the same Christian beliefs about God, the Bible, Jesus, the church, personal piety, and religious practices?
Anyone who thinks for thirty seconds about the extraordinary range of Christian churches and denominations would know in an instant that it is truly ridiculous to think that all Christians agree about anything.
Do Bible Scholars Drink Beer?
And yet, consider the assumptions of the man I talked with at an internet seminar in Orlando, Florida a few years ago.
After the day’s sessions, hotel staff set up a bar in the back of the room, so that attendees could buy drinks and mingle for a while.
I noticed a man I had met at an earlier seminar. Actually, my husband and I had enjoyed a conversation over lunch with him and his wife. I knew that he was a retired history teacher.
He was standing alone, sipping beer from the bottle he had bought at the bar. As someone is not a natural schmoozer at such events, I saw a perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation, and so I walked over to talk with him.
Fairly early in the conversation, I mentioned that the last time I had been in Orlando, I attended the Annual Joint Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion.
He held up his bottle of beer and proclaimed, “I bet they didn’t have any of these at that meeting!” And then he laughed, with a loud guffawing laugh, and took a big swig of his beer.
How To Respond To False Assumptions About The Bible
I was so surprised by his comment that I stood speechless for a few moments, wondering how to respond, as my mind searched through my databank of possibilities.
I thought about challenging his evident assumption that all biblical scholars are teetotalers and that Annual Meetings of professional scholars are equivalent to Sunday School picnics in churches that use grape juice as a substitute for wine in Communion.
I thought about telling him about the two drink tickets every participant receives each year with the name badge as part of the registration process for the Annual Meeting. The tickets are for the joint reception of the two societies, held every year in the biggest ballroom available. Scholars eagerly greet friends and colleagues they have not seen since the last meeting, as they cruise through the crammed ballroom, drinking from the glasses of wine and bottles of beer they hold in their hands. Some even drink fruit punch.
I thought about telling him about my friend Paul, a Jesuit New Testament scholar, who grew up in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Paul and I were teaching assistants together one quarter at the University of California at Davis and we became good friends.
One year, when the Annual Meeting was held in New Orleans, Paul invited me to join him and some other graduate school friends for a night on the town. At first, I thought it might be interesting to go through the French Quarter with someone who had grown up there. But since I am not at all interested in bar hopping, I declined Paul’s invitation.
The next morning, I was especially glad I had made that decision. Paul and I happened to meet in the lobby of the headquarters hotel. I was leaving to attend a session and Paul was just coming in after his night of bar hopping, looking like a man who had visited every bar in the French Quarter.
But the former history teacher had reduced me to a caricature of a teetotaling, blue-nosed moralist. All I said was that I had attended the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion and he had jumped to a conclusion that was so off the mark from reality that I was speechless.
At that moment, I decided that it wasn’t worth my effort to challenge his assumptions. I left him to drink his beer, as he continued to chortle at his cleverness, still utterly ignorant about what it means to be a biblical scholar.
What Do You Have To “Believe” To Study The Bible?
The first thing to know about biblical scholars—beyond the fact that many do drink beer—is that you cannot assume anything at all about what Bible scholars believe or don’t believe about the Bible, God, Jesus, the church, personal piety, and religious practices, because they study the Bible.
You don’t have to “believe” in something to study it. This is why studying terrorism doesn’t make you a terrorist. Studying homophobia doesn’t make you a homophobe. Studying racism doesn’t make you a racist. And studying the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean you “believe” any part it.
In reality, biblical scholars are a large and varied group, including believers and non-believers, from many religious traditions. And most biblical scholars are very clear that a professional meeting is a gathering of scholars and is not a religious function. The meeting is an occasion for “disciplined reflection on religion” not the practice of religion.
The American Academy Of Religion
The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is the larger of the two societies. As you can guess by the name, the range of the AAR is broad. It is concerned with religion in all of its forms and complexities, and includes members from every religious tradition you can imagine. Membership does not imply belief or adherence to any particular religious tradition.
This is its mission statement. The final paragraph of the mission statement is especially relevant.
In a world where religion plays so central a role in social, political, and economic events, as well as in the lives of communities and individuals, there is a critical need for ongoing reflection upon and understanding of religious traditions, issues, questions, and values. The American Academy of Religion’s mission is to promote such reflection through excellence in scholarship and teaching in the field of religion.
As a learned society and professional association of teachers and research scholars, the American Academy of Religion has over 10,000 members who teach in some 1,000 colleges, universities, seminaries, and schools in North America and abroad. The Academy is dedicated to furthering knowledge of religion and religious institutions in all their forms and manifestations. This is accomplished through Academy-wide and regional conferences and meetings, publications, programs, and membership services.
Within a context of free inquiry and critical examination, the Academy welcomes all disciplined reflection on religion — both from within and outside of communities of belief and practice — and seeks to enhance its broad public understanding
The Society Of Biblical Literature
The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) is narrower in focus than the AAR. While the AAR includes study of sacred books from all religious traditions, the SBL focuses on “critical investigation of the Bible.” “The Bible” includes Hebrew and Christian Bibles, including the Apocrypha which is included as part of the Bible in Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions and excluded in Protestant Bibles.
The Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest international scholarly membership organization in the field of biblical studies. Founded in 1880, the Society has grown to over 8,500 international members including teachers, students, religious leaders and individuals from all walks of life who share a mutual interest in the critical investigation of the Bible.
The Society’s mission to foster biblical scholarship is a simple, comprehensive statement that encompasses the Society’s aspirations. Our vision is to offer members opportunities for mutual support, intellectual growth, and professional development.
As a longtime member of both societies, I am disappointed to report that the two societies recently stopped holding joint meetings together. I am happy to report that joint meetings will resume in the future.
Beer And Fundamentalist Bible Interpretation
And so, back to the story about the man with the bottle of beer and what his comment has to do with “Freedom From Bad Bible Bullies.”
This ignorant remark is a symptom of something far bigger. It demonstrates the impact of Fundamentalist beliefs about the Bible within the larger culture, both within the United States and around the world.
Bad Bible Bullies are most often Fundamentalists and their next-of-kin Evangelicals, who claim that their Bible interpretation is the only authoritative interpretation of the Bible.
Fundamentalism began with a specific set of claims about Bible authority, Christian beliefs, and Bible interpretation. Over time, Fundamentalist claims about the Bible have managed to overpower other Christian beliefs about the Bible, so that “what the Bible says” frequently becomes what Fundamentalists say the Bible says.
The man with the bottle of beer was expressing Fundamentalist beliefs about alcohol, whether he knew it or not.
If the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature ever bans alcohol consumption, based on claims about “what the Bible says about alcohol,” it will no longer be a gathering of Bible scholars, who are engaged in a disciplined study of the Bible, but a convention of believers who share a particular set of Fundamentalist beliefs about Bible authority.
And so, “Freedom from Bad Bible Bullies” involves understanding how Fundamentalists hijacked the Bible, to turn it into something it never was.
There is no more effective method to take back the Bible from Fundamentalists than disciplined Bible scholarship, practiced by people who strive to study the Bible without imposing their own religious beliefs upon it.
For Your Freedom
Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D.
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Posted by Kalinda Rose Stevenson - September 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm
Categories: Tags: american academy of religion, bible authority, bible scholars, bible scholarship, biblical scholar, biblical scholarship, christian belief, professional scholars, religion, society of biblical literature
By Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D.
What Is A Bully?
A bully is a “blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bully
Bullies don’t pick on people who can fight back. Instead, they target people who are vulnerable, less powerful, with lower status, or less money.
Bullies manipulate. They intimidate. They often use violence and threats of violence. They shout. They browbeat. They make threats. They do whatever they can to make their victims do what the bullies want them to do.
How Bad Bible Bullies Use Bible Authority To Bully Vulnerable People
Bad Bible Bullies are a special type of bully. They use the familiar strategies and tactics of other bullies to force vulnerable people to do what the bullies want them to do. What sets Bad Bible Bullies apart from other bullies is their primary weapon. They use the Bible as a weapon of power.
It is particularly important to recognize the connection between the Bible as a weapon of power and claims about Bible authority.
The Christian church has always claimed that the Bible is authoritative. However what “Bible authority” actually means is a very complicated and controversial topic.
The claims that Bad Bible Bullies make about the authority of the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God are actually recent developments within the Christian church.
The key point here is that when Bad Bible Bullies turn the Bible into a rulebook and religion into a test of obedience to the Bible as the infallible, inerrant authority for Christian life, they have turned the claim that the Bible is authoritative into a view of the Bible that is at odds with most of Christian history.
In fact, when Bad Bible Bullies tell you that you must surrender your personal freedom in the name of obedience to Biblical authority, they have distorted the Bible itself.
How Do You Recognize A Bad Bible Bully?
Bad Bible Bullies come in many forms. Some are obviously bullies. They are the hate-filled people who quote the Bible while screaming obscenities at you. You know they are bullies.
Other bullies might not be so obvious. They can be con artists and cult leaders who trick you into believing their lies and surrendering to their power.
And then there are bullies who might not seem like bullies at all. They might be loving parents, beloved preachers, and well-meaning Sunday school teachers. These are people you might not consider as bullies, and yet the effect is the same. They use the Bible to bully you to surrender your personal freedom to make your own life choices.
How Do You Feel?
The best way to identify a Bad Bible Bully is to pay attention to how you feel. Bad Bible Bullies use fear, guilt, and shame to manipulate you. They claim to know more than you do. They claim to be right. They claim to have authority over you.
When someone quotes a Bible verse and you feel scared, guilty, and ashamed, you have most likely met a Bad Bible Bully. But even when you think the bully is wrong about you, you have no idea how to defend yourself. After all, they are quoting the Bible. How can you defend yourself against the Bible when it is infallible, inerrant, and the authoritative Word of God?
What About God?
When you really listen to what Bad Bible Bullies proclaim about God, and “God’s will,” you will discover that the “God” of Bad Bible Bullies is the biggest bully of them all. You will hear again and again that God demands your obedience and will punish you if you do not obey.
When Bible Verses Become Weapons
Here are a few verses, beloved and frequently quoted by Bad Bible Bullies, which are often used as weapons against vulnerable people.
- Wives, submit to your husbands.
- Honor your father and your mother
- It is better to give than to receive
- A rich man will never enter the kingdom of heaven
- I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man
- You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
- The women must keep silent in church.
- It is better to give than to receive.
- You cannot serve God and mammon
- Blessed are the poor
- Turn the other cheek.
This is definitely not a complete list of potential Bible verse weapons. You can probably make your own list. The point is to recognize that such Bible verses are often used as weapons by Bad Bible Bullies.
Your Inner Resistance To The Tactics of Bullies
If you have been bullied in the name of Bible authority by Bad Bible Bullies, you know what it is to feel scared, guilty, shamed, and full of doubt and confusion. You might think that they are right. Maybe you are just selfish or full of pride and you need to repent and submit to authority.
But…at the same time, you also know deep down that there is something very wrong with what they are saying.
This kind of inner resistance is a clear sign that you are being bullied by a Bad Bible Bully who has turned claims about biblical authority into a weapon to rob you of your personal freedom. Fear, guilt, doubt, and shame are telltale clues that Bible verses are being used as weapons to keep you submissive, silent, and obedient to authority.
How Do You Take Back Your Personal Freedom?
The core purpose of this blog is to show you how to set yourself free from the bullying tactics of Bad Bible Bullies, so that you can freely make your own decisions to act in your own best interests.
This purpose flies in the face of the fundamental claim of Bad Bible Bullies who will insist that you must surrender your freedom to choose in order to be free. This claim is the heart of the matter for Bad Bible Bullies, who continually focus on authority, submission, surrender and following rules.
Or in the infamous words of Major Frank Burns.
As I see it, unless we each conform, unless we obey orders, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free.
“The Novocaine Mutiny,” M*A*S*H.
Freedom That Is Not Free
The glaring contradiction in the statement by Frank Burns is the crux of the matter.
- You cannot be free if you are bullied into submission.
- You cannot be free if you are forced to remain silent.
- You cannot be free if you are nothing more than a role.
- You cannot be free if you feel too afraid, guilty, intimidated, or powerless to make your own choices.
Is The Bible Bad?
I want to be as clear as I can. The Bible itself is not bad. It’s what people do with the Bible that turns the Bible into Bad Bible, and Bible verses into weapons.
It doesn’t matter whether you believe in God, whether you are an atheist, or whether you are an agnostic. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Jesus as the Son of God or not. It doesn’t matter if you believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God, a worthy book of human wisdom, or simply a primitive book of old stories, myths, and legends.
Whatever you believe or don’t believe about the Bible, God, faith, or any other religious claim about what the Bible is or isn’t, the critical issue is that Bad Bible Bullies misuse the Bible when they turn it into an arsenal of weapons to force people to be obedient to the demands of Bad Bible Bullies.
How Biblical Scholarship Can Set You Free From Bad Bible Bullies
My goal is to teach you how to read the Bible from the perspective of Biblical scholarship so that you can claim your own freedom to live your life according to your own choices.
Biblical scholarship is a powerful weapon against the misuse of the Bible by Bad Bible Bullies, and their distorted claims about Bible authority. It will show you how to recognize how you are being manipulated by out-of-context, misused, mistranslated, misquoted, and misunderstood Bible verses by people who may or may not know any better. [See Bible scholarship]
For your freedom,
Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D.
The controversies over teaching religion in public schools are especially acute on the topics of evolution and creationism. Various Christian groups advocate teaching creationism—recently renamed “intelligent design”—in public schools. Advocates want to counter what they regard as the false theory of evolution. Or, to use the phrase they repeat frequently, evolution is “just a theory.” Read more…
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Posted by Kalinda Rose Stevenson - September 24, 2008 at 12:00 pm
Categories: Impolite Topics Tags: Bible, creation stories, creationism, evolution, Genesis 1:1-2:3, George W. Bush, history, intelligent design, John McCain, myth, politics, religion, Sarah Palin, teaching bible in public schools
The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is also called the “Authorized Version” (AV) (spelled “Authorised Version” using British spelling.) This leads to an important question: Who authorized the King James Bible? Read more…
For many years, I subscribed to a newspaper that had a “Religion” section once a week. The Religion section was location on the last page or two of the “Home and Garden” section. Some weeks there was only one page, with one or two articles. Other weeks, there were two pages. The articles themselves tended to be human interest stories about religion. These minor articles followed pages devoted to helpful hints about redecorating your house or tending to your rose bushes. Read more…
If you wonder about the connection between religion, politics, and persuasion, read the story published by the Washington post about Barack Obama.
“Obama rumors fly in Flag City USA,” by Eli Saslow, Washington Post, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25447998/
The story is not really about Barack Obama, but about persuasion. How do you believe what you believe? Why do you believe what you believe? How do you decide what is true and what is false when you are confronted with radically different claims about the same person? Read more…
For many of us, there are only two reasons to put both “religion”
and “politics” in the same sentence. Read more…