In 1933 the Nazis attempted to obliterate what they saw as anti-German thinking with a book burning campaign. Fortunately ideas are not so easily killed off and book burning as a form of censorship was abandoned. Or so we thought. Then earlier this year along came the wacky Florida pastor, Terry Jones, who decided that the thoughts of a non-existent god in the Koran were a threat to the thoughts of his own non-existent god – and rectified the situation by burning the Koran.
Now another Christian preacher in Wales, the Rev Geraint ap Iorwerth, has been at it too. In a novel twist though he’s not been burning the Koran, or even the works of Marx and Engels. He’s been cutting out and burning the bits of the bible that he doesn’t like.
It’s true there is some nasty stuff in the King James bible. Particularly those bits justifying mass murder and slavery, and advising on the treatment of women. The Rev ap Iorwerth’s boss, however, the Bishop of Bangor, who presumably believes that God knows what he is talking about, is not impressed with the good Reverend‘s actions. “It’s not given to us to pick and choose. Sometimes the most challenging parts are those we need to wrestle with most”.
Well, good luck with that Bishop. We don’t have room for many suggestions, but how about getting stuck into the following. God’s view on genocide for example. Despite telling us “Thou shalt not kill” his instructions on how to deal with the Amalakites was “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Samuel. 15. 3).
His instructions on how to deal with ‘prophets and dreamers’ of other gods. “Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.” (Deuteronomy 13. 8-9).
God’s advice on purchasing slaves. “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever”. (Leviticus 25.44-46).
And what to do if a woman is not a virgin when she marries. “Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22.21).
So much for a loving God. The Rev ap Iorwerth must have had one hell of a bonfire.