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August 25, 2009

Ireland adopting anti-blasphemy law

Ireland is drawing international criticism for a new anti-blasphemy law set to take effect in October.

The legislation would provide for fines up to 25,000 Euros – about $35,750 – for publishing or speaking anything intended to be “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern says it was written to clarify a blasphemy provision in the Irish Constitution. But in an age when countries are repealing such regulations, critics say it is a step backwards.

“One of the world’s most beautiful and best-loved countries, Ireland has recently become one of the most respected as well: dynamic, go-ahead, modern, civilised – a green and pleasant silicon valley. This preposterous blasphemy law puts all that respect at risk,” the British atheist Richard Dawkins said in a statement read last month at the first meeting of Atheist Ireland. “It is a wretched, backward, uncivilised regression to the middle ages. Who was the bright spark who thought to besmirch the revered name of Ireland by proposing anything so stupid?”

According to Padraig Reidy, the answer is: No one.

“Nobody wanted this law: no one can think of a single thundering priest, austere vicar, irate rabbi or miffed mullah ever calling for tougher penalties for blasphemy,” Reidy wrote last month in the Guardian. “Certainly there were the frequent, and frequently ignored missives from Armagh [seat of the Church of Ireland], warning the Irish not to abandon God for 4x4s and Nintendo Wiis. And there was widespread dismay when popular comic Tommy Tiernan pushed the Bible-baiting a bit too far on the Late Late Show. But never did anyone suggest we needed tough blasphemy laws. Until the justice minister, Dermot Ahern, decided we needed to fill the ‘void’ left by our lack of one.”

A member of the Swedish parliament, meanwhile, has filed a complaint with the European Commission over Ireland's new blasphemy law. Karl Sigfrid told Irish broadcaster RTÉ that he is concerned Swedish citizens travelling in Ireland “could be punished for merely expressing a view on a religion or religious symbol.”

The law has also drawn criticism at home.

You're not introducing new blasphemy laws in the 21st century," Michael Nugent, chairman of the group Atheist Ireland, told the Canadian news service Canwest. "These are hangovers from earlier times and certainly in most western countries are anachronisms."

If Ahern tries to enforce the law, Nugent told Canwest, his group will come up with a suitably outrageous blasphemy to challenge it.

Read the story by Canwest Europe correspondent Peter O’Neil at

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 6:00 AM | | Comments (53)


If this law took effect in America Robert Littel and I would be paupers--although Littel would argue, only he would be so distinguished, and I, wouldn't be able to join the exclusive club of the rational and enlightened--I assert this law is a piece of idiocy like none other.

It is the kind of law that will delight the Taliban--I hope Shaukat Malik is taking note--considering he has waxed poetic like Dickens on these blogs--Malik versus the Taliban Part 4 should be about the Irish Taliban.

You see, Shaukat, you get rid of the Taliban, you say, by abolishing Sharia laws in Pakistan but the Sharia has eternal life--it sprouts from the green grass of the Emerald isle, insidiously it crops up where you least expect it.

How the religious would love this law! They will be faint of heart, pull out their handkerchiefs and sniffle every time they are mocked for their insights into their various Gods and wham bam 35, 750 dollars fine from the offender to the offended as appeasement!

Or is it to the offended the money would go? Probably straight into the Irish treasury, that's where this blood money from bowdlerization will be headed. How much over and above for the lawyers? How much court fees and such as feudal levies?

If Sheila Dixon read this blog, she would get all excited at the possibilities for Baltimore--money from unleashed dogs, money from unleashed men outside bars, moocho money from unmoored cars and now from those who offend the religious-- more money--the Archdiocese of Baltimore couldn't have it better--every time one of its own is accused of shenanigans committed with cassock lifted over the head this law could be invoked as inoculation--deem by edict passed in the city council it is an offense to accuse any man of the cloth of rape and fine the offenders big.

And in Iran-- no more Fatwas. Just attach the copy rights to all of the books of guys and dolls like caustic Salman Rushdie--anyone who considers the Prophet Mohammed with jaundiced eyes--fine and fine until their pens drop and they are rendered homeless and penniless.

Ahmadinejad would whisper, when he finds out, in Khameini's ears that the Irish government is one up on the rest of the world in protecting religious rights--he will expand the list of religious insults, offenses and punishments to include 1 million Dinars for insulting God Ahmadinejad.

bin Laden will dance a jig in his cave, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will gladly give up terrorism to become a bailiff in an Irish court. Unbelievable! And this is the land of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett?

Ireland is caught between the devil and deep sea--between Catholicism and its ale-quaffing-story regaling-Irish repast of song, dance and runaway emotions. Pick the latter Irish folks, consign Catholicism to the deep sea where the bottom dwellers will have it for breakfast. Let the Robert Littels of this world speak their minds and the Clays of this world reply. Let freedom ring! Unless of course the Irish treasury is completely empty and the justice minister is doing his iddy bit to fill it up--now that's another story.

Time for the Irish to rise up and commit mass blasphemy and if that doesn't work, toss out the government in the next election that can be arranged, and if that fails, seize the government and throw out the Talibanists, rewrite their constitution to exclude such behavior and start again.

There is a bill now before congress that says that no one can harass someone because of their sexuality. As the bill is written, a pastor can be arrested for teaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Isnt this an anti-blasphemy law? I dont agree with either law. No one should harass someone. However, we should be able to disagree with a religion or someone's sexuality, especially if it is biblical, without worrying about the police coming through the door. The way the laws are written or interpreted could allow for people to be unfairly treated in some huge ways. A law that says someone can be jailed for blashpeming Christians? Why would I as a Christian want that? I could be jailed for disagreeing with someone's crazy religion like scientology, even though I feel that I have a biblical basis for doing so. That restricts my freedom of religion guaranteed under the constitution. And so does a bill that could fine or jail me for expressing other biblical views. Thanks.

Clay - We wouldn't want to do anything that would interfere with your biblical right to hate gays, now would we? Lets just get rid of religion altogether. It seems to have outlived its usefulness for Humanity and if the weak minded simpletons still need the crutch, perhaps putting them on drugs would be better, or easier to kick, anyway.

No one said anything about hating gays Bob. I have known some gay men for years since I was a kid and I still see them and talk to them on occasion with no ill feelings. They know how I feel about God and what He says. The hatred here seems to be coming more from you than from anyone else I have seen posting. I spoke with a former gay man who was attempting to give up that lifestyle because he found God. I asked him if he thought that people are born gay. Actually researchers have found that gay men have a lack of an enzyme that encourages the proper use of testosterone, although their testosterone levels are normal. He replied, "It doesnt matter if people are born gay because we all have choices to make in life and we have to be sure we make the right choices." He fears God. I would only wish and pray that you and yours do the same. Thanks.

As long as you treat gays as being abhorrent violators of god's word, you are a bigot. To wish the curse of delusional thought on them is just sad. To need fear of your god creature is just pathetic. You have my pity.

God has decided what constitutes a violation of His word. I dont argue with Him. God bless.

Clay - It must be so comforting to you to have an "end all" statement you can make to justify all your bigotries.

As a Catholic myself I will agree that such laws should be abolished. Thankfully we have no such laws here. If someone like Robert Littel wants to spout of hateful insults an commit what I might consider blasphemy that's his right. Although I would like someone to explain how exactly saying an activity is wrong or sinful constitues hate. From where I am standing Robert you're spouting as much hate as any ultra right religious group.

That being said it's their counntry so it's up to the Irish and no one else, including myself, to pass judgement .

ravensfan - So anything that is said negatively about religion is hateful? You will have to forgive me for not seeing it that way because religion has spent so many centuries trying to kill people who do not agree with their peculiar view of reality. I only feel fortunate that I live during a period of time, in a place, where such action has been temporarily suspended and am striving to see that such centers of ignorant arrogance do not gain the power to do that again.

Well Bob, you insinuate in another blog that the biblical view of slavery is that it is ok, without checking what God or His Son have to say in the bible. Then you say that you are glad that our constitution abolished it. Can you blame someone for thinking that you may have hatred in your heart? Ravensfan never said that everything said against religion is hateful. Read what he said. You certainly seem to have a lot of anger, thats for sure. Open up that heart and live a happier life. Thanks.

Clay - Your call for me to "Open up that heart and live a happier life", I'm afraid that the trade-off that would also mean shutting down my mind to achieve your nebulous suggestion and that would be far to be too high a price to pay.

Robert I'm simply using the same logic you do when you call Christians hateful and homophobic. You also confuse the actions of people for what the relgion actually says. The problem is you are judging the message on the basis of some of it's messengers. As for forgiveness that's between you and God. You have done nothing to me and even if you had I would have forgiven you already as Christ preached.

Robert you don't have to shut down your mind to open your heart. What you have to do is let go of your anger and hate. I certainly don't think that is much of a price to pay to live a happier life.

Clay it is imbecilic to say that there is a hormonal reason for being gay and then to suggest this hormonal reason should be overcome by choosing the right way because God says so--the hormonal reason takes away the choice and in fact, if you by force pick a choice contrary to your hormonal milieu then your choice will lead you to have immense emotional turmoil--if you are female by hormonal milieu and your brain's sexual imprint is female, but you are forced under fire to accept the male gender as your own, your locks are scissored and your breasts are cut off and you are converted to a creature for sodomization by men, you will suffer grave psychological damage and your misery would be immense. Any person who would do that to you would be a sadist. And you are a sadist Clay-- you preach to people a lifestyle hostile to their hormonal milieu, a milieu created by God--even this enzymatic problem with testosterone--created by God, not by Satan because Satan does not create-- (and that info you've thrown out about testosterone is a piece of garbage but I won't argue with your science on that one--I'll just accept it as another ignoramus 101 from your mouth and pretend it's true) and therefore consecrated--and you dare say it should be changed because God wants it to be so? Then you are a false prophet and your church is a tower of babble, Clay--of course you would insist that God creates ambiguous genitalia, hemaphroditism and enzymatic defects in testosterone conversion because He wants to put a bit of Satan in everyone and see if they would succumb to the Satan in them. Clay, I will ask the Hindus I know to pray for Shiva to dance on your ignorance and destroy it . By the way, the priest at that Hindu-Catholic wedding Clay, crooned his priestly rituals just right.

Well, Robert, it seems to me that your mind is already shut down, as all of your previous statements are based on misinterpretations of other statements. You are one of "those people" who only comment on articles to gain attention and force your opinions upon others, claiming that you are the only one who is right. You are no better than the people who are passing this anti-blasphemy law.

I agree with Clay and ravensfan; you should open up your heart. Maybe it'll get some oxygen to your brain. :P

None of you can actually argue Robert on relevant points. You keep asking him to open up his heart--get back to the drawing board folks--Ravensfan, Robert is right. The Bible is not just Jesus. It is the Old and New Testaments. It does condone slavery--look up the following--Leviticus 25: 44-46, Exodus 21: 2-6, Exodus 21: 7-11, 1 Timothy 6: 1-2, and Jesus himself approved of beating slaves Luke 12: 47-48 (NLT) For the longest time the slave masters of America used the Bible to buoy their cotton picking idiocies. That of course would be explained away as not the fault of the Bible but the fault of those who would misinterpret it. But who has challenged Clay here? His nonsense about testosterone goes unchallenged due to medical illiteracy. But accepting his untruth, that an enzymatic defect in testosterone conversion is responsible for gays being who they are, his next piece of biblical sophistry that gays have to overcome their hormonal milieu to obey God goes unchallenged. But the enzymatic defect--the altered hormonal milieu itself is God's creation is it not? Thinking the way Clay does--full of prejudice and insidious venom--I ask, considering even Satan was created by God, and Satan has no powers to create, where does this enzyme defect come from? If it is part of the grand scheme of creation, why should it be condemned or be overcome? Why should it be deemed aberrant? Is this Christian God a fanatic without sense?
Answer Robert on his points raised. Stop crying hate because he renders you otherwise impotent. I have an awful feeling Clay's Bible study class is sitting in judgment before judgment day. These guys are giving God a bad name.

Thanks for the assist and quite frankly, the effort to point out Clay's hypocrisy, that I would consider too much of a waste of my time at this late stage in my life. I kind of view having a rational discussion with his ilk, more like trying to keep the Titanic afloat would have been by bailing out the water with a coffee can.

Anonymous all Robert has is the same hate that he accuses others of having. He starts out trying to raise relevant points then goes off on some hateful insulting rant doing the exact same thing he accues others of doing. I'm merely pointing out Robert's hypocrisy. I'm sorry if the truth bothers him or you. Not being a biblical scholar I'm not going to try and explain Old Testament passages that seeming support slavery. I will agree you wre right on that the Christian Bible contains both Old and New Testaments. I also appreciate you researching and present objective questions rather tban the rants Robert goes off on. Clay and I don't agree on homosexuals. According to the doctrine taught as I my church it is the act that is a sin. It also specifically says we are to treat all people including homosexuals with respect and dignity. No one ever said being Christian was easy. In fact the bible says quite the opposite. Myself while I agree it a sin it is no different than any other sin and since we all sin I'm in no position to judge anyone else. Nor should I according to Jesus. That doesn't mean I can't call sinful behavior sinful. It doesn't give anyone the right to vilify or persecute someone Robert seems to operate under the notion that the actions of a some misguided Christians represents all of us.

Robert could I suggest that instead of worrying about someone else's hypocrisy you worry about your own. You've spent a lot of time and effort yuorself on complaining about the prejudice and hate of religious people while ignoring your own. Somehow I struggle to see how you're any different.

In Luke 12 47-48 Jesus is speaking in parables and calls men here on earth whom He has taught much and expected much servants. He says that when He returns He expects them to be doing what He told them to, otherwise they will receive eternal damnation. He uses the example of a man who has returned home and finds his servant being lazy and drunk and so he gets punished. Does that say that He condones slavery? No. It says that people in those days had servants to look over their households and farms, etc, just as we have hired help today, and He used that example to say what He will do when He returns. Timothy 6 1-2 says, "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren ; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort." What I see here in your two New Testament passages is that God wants his servants (us) to be obedient and faithful, and that God wants servants of others to respect their masters. If we dont respect authority, who will respect God? This seems to be doing those who were servants a great favor in my opinion. Jesus never said to take servants. Timothy is saying for those who serve to be respectful, that this will do them good. In your old testament passages it mentions taking servants in those days, that it is ok to do that. What myself and Ravensfan were asking and still are, is that there is a New Testament since the old one. Where does that New Testament condone slavery? Thanks.

And Bob. I think you will find that beating out God by trying to argue with His words is a lot harder than trying to save the Titanic from sinking with a coffee can. It is impossible. God bless.

Clay - If you were using the name Clayton, I would, out of common respect, use that name, rather than the common familiar. I have never answered to Bob.

You are, however, quite correct in asserting that the very words of your superstitional tomb, cannot be used to discredit it, because it is so vague about so much and so specific in its contradictions about so much else. That is why the American Atheist Association has a several hundred page book called "The Bible Handbook" which is nothing but a compilation of contradictory statements from the supposed absolute word of your god. It is far more interesting than your side also having to have a concordance to do the opposite, by making some sort of swallow-able sense out of the bible for the believer. Personally, my favorite contradiction has to do with the edict "Thou Shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13) and the biblical demand that "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus 22:18), or the same thing stated much more poetically in Leviticus 20:27. I also like the edict directing the faithful not to eat road-kill (Exodus 22:31). It is a very entertaining and duplicitous book.

Robert Bravo--now you're getting the hang of it--fight the Bible with the Bible and watch Clay spin you several good ones about what the good Lord meant. Jesus asked the servants to obey their masters he says--if the slaves had followed this edict there would have been no civil rights and people like Clay will be standing in the cotton fields, whip in one hand and Bible in the other preaching from Timothy 1 or what ever.

Robert, I’m sorry if I called you Bob at anytime, I don’t hold the bible to be a literal absolute dictated of God. It wasn’t dictated all at once rather it took well over a 1,000 to come together. Much of what is in it was told orally for quite a while before it was ever written down. Add to the fact that it was written in different languages and translated and countless times and you arrive at apply opportunity for man made errors. Did you ever participate in the experiment where you take a bunch of people and tell the first one something and have it passed on? It usually ends up different than how it started I would venture to say human beings played the principal role any real contradictions. I’m also sure some of what you believe to be contradictions have explanations some of which we haven’t yet come to understand. It all comes down to a simple reality that belief is a question of faith not science. You can’t prove God exists. You either believe or you don’t. Even if you don’t believe there are considerable useful ideas in the bible. Ideas such as love your neighbor as yourself, turn the other cheek, treat others as you want to be treated. I’ll grant you that not even all Christians practice them and that is a pity.

Hi Anon. Again, Jesus asked us as His servants to obey Him. He said what He will do when He comes back and finds us being disobedient, just like a servants master would do to that disobedient servant. He said nowhere that we should even have servants, let alone slaves to be whipped. Read the passage. Timothy is the one who said for servants to obey their masters because it creates order here and respect for authority and for God. He didnt say for anyone to have servants or slaves either. And Mr. Littel I dont understand whay you have a problem with "Thou shalt not kill." It refers to people and not animals to eat. And yes, God has killed people, Sodom and Gomorrah for one example. That doesnt mean we are to mistreat gays or anyone. And the Jewish people have traditions not to eat certain things. It came out of a respect for their religion. I dont understand what you both are trying to say. Things are getting quite twisted and there are omissions. I think it is because you both are angry. The bible does not contradict itself. You can make statements about it all you want and I can refute them. Quite frankly, I am getting tired of winning. It makes me appear like I am not being humble, and I am humble. I will stay on here to witness to others. God bless.

Clay - Arguing with a Christian is like playing chess with a pigeon. You knock over all the pieces, crap on the board and then fly back to your flock to declare victory. You are "getting tired of winning", indeed! You are nothing but the pompous end of a donkey with delusions of near god-hood (as in thinking you are anywhere near a god). And when did "witches" become animals to be killed for food? You are not a trip, you are a bad trip.

"Arguing with a Christian is like playing chess with a pigeon" Robert that's a rather predjudiced remark coming from someone who spends so much time complaining about the injustice and evil of others. What does resorting to that kind of remark as well as the "pompous end of a donkey" really say about you?

ravensfan - Faith is nothing more than the excuse to believe something that if you were using your head, you would never swallow. It is therefore, the excuse for ignorance and that is my objection to it. Ignorance is not something that should be used as a basis of social organization and should never be touted as truth under any circumstances.

My response to Clay's absurdity was an analogy to show the futility of reasoning with someone who spouts nothing but unsubstantiated rubbish as being truth and being vacuous enough to be proud of his effort.

Robert your problem is that you don't seem to get the point that it's your opinion not a fact. Ignorance is a closed mind, and yours is as closed as any I've seen. You are entitled to your opinion of course, but your intolerance for anyone who sees things differently shows your own lack of compassion. I agree ignorance should not be used as a basis of social organization or touted as truth. That’s why thinking like yours makes for a poor social organization and is not the basis of truth. Your anger comes out in every post. I don’t agree with everything Clay says myself, but I respect his right to his opinion. I don’t agree with just about anything you say, but I respect your right to your opinion.

ravensfan - You have a vested interest in painting anyone who makes a credible argument against religion as being angry. When you have no real foundation (considering the nebulous character of delusional belief), you have no choice but to marginalize your opponent by personally denigrating them instead of engaging them on a level playing field. It is difficult enough fighting against the ingrained power of myth and superstition without also fighting spurious charges being flung by desperate fanatic religionists. It is not my fault that you have a weak argument, no fact that can be called into play, or that your disagreement with my position causes you so much angst that you have to resort to dishonest discourse.

Yes, Clay--Timothy or Jesus, we are talking about the Bible. Indeed, it would have created more order and also respect for authority, if the slaves had submitted century after century and obeyed their own masters. Jesus comparing mankind's disobedience to him to the disobedience of servants to masters is disturbing and disconcerting to swallow. You should learn about a place like Dubai where servants are enslaved, their passports impounded and they are beaten on a regualr basis and exploited. the life of servants has never been wonderful--particularly during the time of Jesus. Jesus never advocated someone should have slaves or servants. Perhaps true. But Jesus forever advocated obedience to authority. This is where I believe, Robert and I differ from the rest of you. Such obedience would keep a large swath of mankind shackled and in bondage. Such obedience would impede the progress of science and Medicine. The authorities never loved Galileo, Socrates, Copernicus and many of the great minds of this world. Even considering God is above man, the similes, metaphors and comparisons in the Bible are not those that encourage men to reach the full potential of their God given right to rebel and seize the moment from the "AUTHORITIES". Leave talk about anger and humility out of it. There is no personal insult intended to you or to Ravensfan. I respect both of you highly. I am sure Robert does too. Why would I waste my time arguing these points with you Clay, if I didn't also respect you?

Robert what exactly have I been dishonest about? I conceded there is no way to prove the existence of God. It is solely a question of faith, and it will always be that way.. Keep in mind that the fact it can’t be proven doesn’t make it false either. You can not prove He doesn’t exist and that’s what bothers you. You can’t silence believers like Clay or I because you can’t undeniable prove God does not exists. So you resort to the same marginalizing you are accusing me of doing.. Go back and read the number of insults and belittling comments you’ve made regarding those who do believe. What bothers you is I’m right about you. You are no different then those religious zealots you complain about. You just happen to be an atheist zealot. I’m not painting anyone as angry accept you.

Hi. I think what Christ is saying by being respectful to authority is that you dont have to necessarily agree with them on things, just do it in a respectful way. Does He want us to agree with the President on all the issues? Certainly not, but that doesnt mean He wants us to start rioting. I think that is what He is trying to say with those passages more than anything. We cant have a world where everyone forces things on everyone else, no matter who we are. We have to be respectful in our disagreements. If no one respects authority, it undermines respect for God, the ultimate authority. He isnt saying to agree with slavery, just dont assume you can kill the master if he is wrong. I believe that Timothy was agreeing with Christ with this in his passage. Let us respect one another, as you Anon have said in your passage. Maybe it is a little disturbing to read if you are black, etc or whatever, but God wants us to respect authority so we will honor and respect Him. He will see that slaves are set free somehow, even if He realized that it wasnt going to happen in His time because of all the disobedience on earth. Hopefully, we will make the right decisions and be free with Him and not be doomed in the other place. Thanks.

Clay - OOOOOOO, the old pie in the sky when you die lie. How low can you go? I sure you will show us.

Now Robert, you know what Christ said. "Get behind Me satan." I hope that you can realize who you are working for. Thanks.

Clay - I work for no god, especially any of yours.

Hello. Satan was a very powerful angel who had many important functions. He came to the point where he thought that he was more powerful and important than God. God kicked him out of heaven along with his friends, and they are now here. He is very angry, and he spews out anger and hatred from his lips. He loves to see us be disobedient to God and he encourages others to do also. It wont be much longer before Christ will come back and satan will be contained. After 1000 years, he gets out again and after that is over then there will be a great judgement. Satan is thrown into hell forever, along with those here who support him. You need to be aware of what is happening. I am trying to do you a great favor. We should never let that guy control us. Have a good one.

Clay - You truly are mentally deranged, more so than many fanatic delusionalists I've had the displeasure to be preached at, with their silly fairy-tales, absolutist dogma and certainty of purpose based on an accumulated pile of rubbish. You need serious help.

Robert I'm curious why a die hard atheist as you is spending so much time on a blog section on faith? Are you trying to convert us poor delusionalists to your way of thinking? If so that's about as futile as Clay's attempts to save your soul. At least he's polite about it. Pity you can't say the same.

ravensfan - A doctor who goes to Africa to fight AIDS has little chance of conquering that disease, yet they go. My coming here has about as much effect, but all that is needed is to plant the seed of doubt in just one mind, that would not be planted if this was purely a blog where people came to reinforce their programed beliefs. There are people who will read with seething anger, what I have said, but it may just come back to them later as the sprouting of doubt that will grow into a realization that there is a larger existence outside the dogma driven fantasy they have been taught to believe is truth. We have started the exodus from the pews and eventually we may make religion so unprofitable a con, that it will fade away. Its about time we grew up as a species and started facing reality from a more rational perspective.

Hey Ravensfan,
I do like some of your postings. You are a measured man and you ask sensible questions. I am not a person of faith but this is my most favorite site of all--I've always had a passionate interest in all religions--I love fables, myths from ancient times--the epic of Gilgamesh is one of my favorite books. I actually am fascinated by the Bible--I don't have to believe in it--when I was young I went to a Christian school where I studied the Old testament like there was no tomorrow--at one time I could recite the Psalms and the Proverbs. I argued the Bible like crazy while in school-- I love to argue with Clay--he is very knowledgeable about the Bible--I also like to challenge him and you--only because I love the adrenaline flow, the replies, the clash of brain versus brain--I don't agree one iota with Clay but I marvel at the consistency of his beliefs--he is unmovable like a rock--that too keeps me prodding him. In short there is no malice intended in anything that I do. Even when I am rough verbally I enjoy the comebacks from you and Clay. Why am I hear on this site--because of the diversity of opinions--Shaukat Malik is on this site--I don't agree with him at all but I laughed my head off at how Clay tackled him--I love it when Dave T pops up once in a while with his wisecracks--I love the mad scientologists-their primal screams--this site is nutty, hilarious, unique and at times absolutely exhilarating to me. So stay on Ravensfan--don't let Robert drive you off-he is a curmudgeon--I am actually more on his side than with you or Clay in beliefs but Clay, I want to tell you, STAY--you often make my day!

Where I said "hear" I meant to say "here" in my last posting--I am demolished by work today. Off to recuperate. Robert you cannot be vanquished. Never will you plant that seed of doubt in Clay's mind--doubtless is his middle name when it comes to Jesus and the Bible. Been there done that and failed myself--but I have got a great contentious debate to corner him in the works--I am smacking my lips about this even as voice inside me screams, "Put it to rest!"

Hi. Debates arent what is important. What is important is what is in our hearts. Of course God wants us to have a heart for Him. Like I said before, He isnt impressed by brains. He gave them to us. But He also gave us free choice to choose our heart's desires, and He will treat us accordingly. If you are that interested in the bible maybe you feel God calling you like you did before. Thanks.

Heh Clay,
I am also interested in the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, many Buddhist tracts and the Rig, Sama and Atharma Veda--I am interested in comparative religion as a study and I am interested in theism versus atheism. God never called me when young and is not calling me now--in the same sense as God has called you. Yours is a state of total surrender Clay--mine a state of suspended animation. There are few points I do need to dispute. For one thing there is no proof in the Bible that Noah's daughters were married to their own cousins. Noah's family was unique in being saved during the great flood but the daughters could very well have married 2 guys outside the family--not a blood relative and the sons-in-law may have been saved as part of the Noah household, not because they were cousins, but because they were relatives by marriage. Second every time a biblical disagreement arises and your knowledge of the matter rests on shaky ground you just sweep it away by declaring that fact checks are redundant to the larger issue (according to you) of God loving our hearts more than our brains. You have, in this thread, said solemnly that you do not hate gays but they are disobeying God by their sexual preference. If you yourself have a son who is gay and you reassure him repeatedly that you love him no matter what, at the same time you pray for his soul to be saved from its disobedient sinful ways and you ask God's forgiveness for him you think that is acceptance of your son? You think that will convince your son you care about him one iota? That kind of treatment of your son will make the boy creep away into a corner and blow his brains out with the nearest pistol or shotgun he can find. I hear a lot of Christians like you declare themselves charitable people, profess themselves as lovers of all of mankind but with rigid unmoving faith hit their hard truncheons on the heads of those who don't fit into their way of believing. As long as your faith remains in this heart of yours Clay, the business is between your God and you but when that which is in your heart, prejudice according to Robert and I, love of the Lord and faith in the Bible according to you, infiltrates the way the government thinks, when state and church merge as one, as you advocate they should, that's when belief catches fire and burns individual lives. It dictates that gays cannot marry-- it says that gays are people too--the church loves them-- but they need to ask God for forgiveness and exert their will power to be like heterosexuals--it says, yes, they may have an enzyme defect that makes them gay--but they must, despite this defect overcome their gayness--the state joins the chorus of voices from the church, points to gays and says, "Since you pick a different hole for your pleasure than a man would with a woman--though several men having sex with women are known to do the same as gays--you cannot have the same rights as a man and a woman can when they are married, and you cannot marry because holy matrimony is one man to one woman period"--it is when the state does that Clay or when the state says to gays in the military, "don't ask, don't tell", that's when the church and people like you Clay, pave the road of good intentions all the way to hell for those who have been created the way they have been, with a certain hormonal milieu, be it the gays, or the hemaphrodites, or the transgendered, when you say they too are God's children and you accept them as they are but they are not in concordance with God's laws and you cannot help but point that out as a student and servant of the Bible, then unwittingly you may be sending some of these people broken hearted to their own demise--several have committed suicide precisely because of friends and neighbors like you--they have either hung themselves out of despair or blown their brains out because people like you with sweet platitudes on their lips have made these folks feel like sinners whose ways should be mended. Clay, your entire attitude may be more dangerous to the health of many in this land than all the incendiary remarks of Robert, yet you have sweetness on your tongue and Ravensfan would see you as a more reasonable man because of your modest tone and Robert's inflammatory voice he would condemn as utterly unseemly. Can some one have roughness at the edge of a pen or on the tongue and be alright in the heart? Yes, Clay. Have you not known an eccentric teacher or a rough talking coach, gruff on the outside and genuinely sensitive and kind on the inside? The Israelis are called sabras--a sabra is a prickly pear, it stings on the outside and it is sweet on the inside. It is important Clay that you should consider the real life consequences of your personal faith to others, especially if it spills into the public arena, flows into the halls of government and it removes reason and replaces it with edicts that could drive some to suicide and others to eternal damnation right here on earth.

Ridiculous. The bible says that Noah and his sons and their wives were the only remaining people on earth and no one else. If someone is gruff on the outside and true to heart, fine, but if they spew out enough cursing and anger then their heart isnt very sweet. What God has said about homosexuality is His word and decision. I dont argue with Him. Thanks.

Clay, the righteous god sanctioned bigot. How convenient for you that your god is also a bigoted being, it must be a great comfort to your deluded twisted mind.

Robert This is just a guess but most doctors fighting Aids in Africa probably don't start out insulting the patients or their practices. I will agree that no doubt their will be some who read your post and seeth with anger. That is too bad because they don't realize in doing so they are violating one of the basic tenets of the faith. Actually in reading your post you sound about as zelaous as any Fundementalist Christian I've ever encountered. Despite what you think your insults and belittling of Christians won't sow any doubt. In fact if anything you'll probably drive them closer to the faith. If you really want to sow that seed of doubt you might try toning down the belittling and insulting. Unless you've reach someone who isn't involved in the conversation so far I'd say you haven't had much luck. I doubt you can change Clay's mind and Anonymous doesn't believe already. As for me sorry to say you haven't sown any doubt in my mind either.

Anonymous Robert hasn't driven me off. I was busy with more important things over the weekend. I respect your views and willing to discuss without the needless insulting and belittling. My views are probably quite a bit more liberal than Clay's. I guess that's the result of going to a more liberal church I guess. You're actually more knowledgeable about the Bible than I am. Tough thing for a Christian to admit.

Ah Clay,
You are dense. Yes, Noah, his sons and his sons' wives were the only remaining people on Earth according to the Bible. But how does this make you draw the non sequitur that the wives of Noah's sons and Noah's sons were cousins? You specialize in non sequiturs--which shows your conclusion doesn't follow your own line of argument.

And by the way Robert, check out Poe's Law regarding Clay--he is a pretender to the religious throne, not the real McCoy--he makes egregious errors about the Bible and some of his glib statements ring hollow for someone who is not a fake.

And finally Ravensfan I am glad you are back--as I am glad Clay continues his crusade.

For gosh sakes Anon, when Noah's sons had kids with their wives, the kids were all cousins to one another. Who do you think had the next generation? The cousins. Then you came about. I never even called you a kissin' cousin either. Thanks.

Anonymous glad to see you back as well. I don't know if Robert checked out Poe's Law, he's busy on his crusade to enlighten poor, misguided, drones like Clay and myself as well as to stamp out the scourge that is religion from the face of the Earth.

Sieze the Post Office until these medieval laws, or the government, are thrown out.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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