A friend of mine, (one who knows I’ve just finished a year long project of re-reading the Bible—for the fifth or sixth time—and while doing so consolidating close to thirty years of notes and annotations into one very large volume), has been sending me tidbits off the internet which he felt to be pertinent to my task.
Assorted articles, some quotes, and the like.
Then the other night he sent me this panel of an Ann Coulter quote:
Normally I dismiss Ms. Coulter, as one shooing a particular bothersome mosquito on a hot August night.
But with the assault in congress against Planned Parenthood, the rasping campaign rhetoric of the Republicans, and now the tragic events in Colorado Springs, I found myself moved to address Ms. Coulter’s remarks.
I’ve been lead to understand that Ms. Coulter has announced her intention of taking legal action against anyone making statements alleging that she is a transsexual.
Personally I don’t think Ms. Coulter is a transsexual, and if she were, she certainly wouldn’t be a walking billboard for her Sex Reassignment Surgical team.
What I will allege, however, is that on the topic of Christianity, Ann Coulter is an extremely ignorant individual, as indicated by her vacuous and uninformed notions of its doctrine.
Such errancy on Ms. Coulter’s part comes as no surprise.
The principles of Jesus I consider among the finest articulations of the human condition and needs. I stand in awe of those who strive to fulfill the challenges of following his path, as I do all who seek spiritual truths.
However I have found few individuals whose comprehension of the scriptures was both authentic and intelligible, and few of them were Christians.
Now when I call into question the competency of those calling themselves “Christians” in matters of doctrine, I am notconjuring up a statement from pure fancy in order to give my argument weight.
No, I leave such chicanery to others.
The Pew Research Center has a wonderful site of which every American, whatever their political slant, should avail themselves.
In 2010 they conducted a survey of “Religious Knowledge” in the U.S. consisting of 32 questions. Christians scored not only the lowest on the general test concerning world religions, but low on awareness of Christianity and their own faith. (For example 53% of Protestants could not identify the person whose writings and protests against the Catholic Church lead to the Protestant Reformation.)
The findings of the survey might surprise you, and the questionnaire is available on line to take HERE.
Also you should know, at the outset I am anti-abortion. And I am confident if I ever found myself burdened with an unwanted pregnancy, that I would never surrender to “self-interest,” the slave driver of us all.
Of course, my convictions have never been put to the test, and it’s rather unlikely they ever shall.
But my anti-abortion views do not allow me to impose them on others.
It is a wretched, painful decision for anyone to have to face.
But it is not my choice to make, nor the state’s, nor the choice of one or one million well-intentioned sincere souls who find the procedure abhorrent.
The choice belongs to that individual who must make it.
It can be no other way.
This is America, a land of individual rights and liberty.
We are Americans, which means we must respect the rights and liberty of others and be willing, if necessary to defend them even when they are contrary to our own opinions or beliefs.
A person must have sovereignty over their own body and thoughts or it is tyranny.
A woman cannot be told what she can or can’t do with her own body, anymore than a man can be ordered to stop shaving or told he is forbidden to masturbate.
Nor can I tell Ms. Coulter to stop conducting herself like a complete simpleton.
In America everyone has the inalienable right to be an asshole; though the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ms. Coulter abuse the privilege.
But the focus here is not on the social theories of John Stuart Mill, for Ms. Coulter does not frame her argument in those terms, she, in her uneducated fashion, calls on biblical prohibitions against abortion.
In doing so she exposes herself as – now let me find the right phrase – a silly empty-headed ignoramus. Yes, that about covers it.
But at least she can take some comfort in the fact that she does not have to suffer her stupidity in solitude, for she has the entire contingency of right-wing, conservative pseudo-Christians to keep her company.
I’ve never liked that term “pseudo-Christians” when referring to the segment of our social/political fabric that tends to wrap itself in the flag and don a plastic “crown of thorns” before trying to force their views on others. For there is no part, whatsoever, in their policies, which are primarily political mandates whitewashed in scripture, that holds any resemblance to Jesus or his teachings.
So if you don’t mind I’ll use my own designation, which is “Fundamentalist Fakirs,” beginning that I regard them as little more than Ayatollahs, American style.
As stated at the outset of this article, I have just concluded my fifth (or sixth) reading of the Bible, during which I had resolved to compile a precise record of all of Jesus’ direct injunctions.
My guidelines for inclusion on this list were simple:
It had to be a commandment, decree or instruction from Jesus; not a quote attributed to him.
It could not be an interpretation of what Jesus meant, whether by Paul or any other disciple.
It had to be unequivocal, not a parable, no ambiguous meanings.
Now to the question at hand: abortion.
If one is completely unfamiliar with the Bible, one could assume that opposition to abortion is a major statement found on its pages.
Here are two facts.
1. Nowhere in either the Old or New Testaments is “abortion” expressly forbidden.
2. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus make any mention, whatsoever of his opposition to abortion.
One may denounce these two statements as “false”; that’s their right. But to do so reveals that they have never read the Bible, or they are spuriously manipulating Biblical verses to give consequence to attitudes or positions reflecting their own viewpoints and not that of the Scriptures.
The Bible is comprised of some 31,273 verses.
There is not a single reference, either disavowing or allowing the act of voluntarily terminating a pregnancy.
The Old Testament does not address the subject directly, but it offers two passages that at least hold some relevance to the debate.
“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”
Here in Exodus the killing of a fetus is punishable by a fine, designating abortion as not “murder,” but misdemeanor.
In Leviticus 27:3 again:
Here Moses, and by extension God, fix the penalties for doing harm to others, and they are very precise:
If the victim is:
• Male 60 or older the guilty party must pay 15 shekels of silver
• If female and over 60 the fine drops to 10 shekels.
• For Males ages 20 to 60 the fine is 50 shekels;
• For women of that age, 30 silver shekels.
For injuring those between the ages of 5-20 the penalty is 20 shekels for men, 10 shekels for women.
The penalties established for doing injury to a child seem shockingly low to our modern sensibilities.
The fine for injuring a male child from one month to five years of age is five shekels, if the child is female the penalty drops to three shekels.
“And if it be from a month old even unto five years old,
then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver,
and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver. “
There the penalties end, so that according to the Old Testament, infants younger than one month old, which would include fetuses, have no worth.
On “abortion” the New Testament says nothing, Jesus says nothing.
Now some may argue interpretation and we will address that shortly.
Starting in the 5th century CE, the Masoretes rabbinical scholars employed two basic tools in their struggle to preserve the Old Testament:
1) “Kethib” = “what is written”
2) “Qere” = “what is read”
But another category should be added to these; It is important, in reading the New Testament, to understand what Jesus speaks about, but equally important, is understanding what he doesn’t.
“WHAT IS NOT WRITTEN AND NOT READ”
In Jesus’ day there were:
The tax collectors
The issues Jesus spoke on must have been those that held importance to him.
Therefore, judging from the number of times he addresses them in the New Testament, the first eight topics on the above list, were the most significant to Jesus, with the subject of the poor being the foremost.
The last four topics were seemingly of no significance to Jesus, and are not mentioned by him at all, earning neither his praise nor his condemnation.
So to say that Jesus was against homosexuals (catamites) or abortion (a major service of all mid-wives) has no more scriptural support than saying Jesus was fond of dogs and found cats an abomination.
Abortion was as much a part of Jesus’ world as it is part of ours today.
Jewish law is clear on that matter. No fetus, nor even an infant, was judged a ”living thing” (‘bar kayama” in Hebrew) until thirty days after the birth, so in Jewish law, and to Jesus, the embryo was not held to be a viable living person.
Even today, the Jews, in their preservation of tradition, don’t view abortion a sin.
Those who renounce the practice of abortion have every right to do so, and they may be as vocal as they wish in their repudiation of it.
But regardless of how loud those opposing abortion are, Jesus is silent.
As to interpretation, most Biblical passages may be raked over and laden with conflicting opinions, but concerning “abortion” the arguments constantly put forth suffer from garbled logic or are simply inaccurate.
The convoluted and deceitful efforts the “Fundamentalist Fakirs” resort to in their efforts to falsely represent Jesus’ teachings are easily recognizable as barefaced shams to anyone familiar with the New Testament.
For when Jesus wishes to condemn some offense he is clear in his criticism and there is no question as to his intention.
For example, there is a subject which Jesus repeatedly condemns voicing his disapproval and denouncing it on 9 different occasions: Divorce.
“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
There is nothing vague about that passage.
Therefore if Christians wish to enforce a tenet of Jesus on secular society, then they should be demanding the divorce courts shut down.
Jesus’ greatest concerns was not what he and Jewish law regarded as the “non-living,” but for those suffering in this life – the poor, the sick, the needy.
This is irrefutable.
For in the four Gospels are found 30 separate entries in which Jesus instructs the faithful, time and again, to aid the needy, feed the hungry, tend the sick, “renounce wealth and care for the poor.”
Jesus’ challenge to his disciples to “Do good.” (Luke 6:35), is his second most recurring reframe in the New Testament.
It is precisely what Ms. Coulter in her abysmal ignorance mocks as, “changing bed pans of Ebola patients in Nigeria” that Jesus most explicitly commands his followers to do.
The only explanation for Ms. Coulter missing that point is when she read the Bible she forgot to keep her eyes open.
Yes, that is a sad joke, as is Ms. Coulter.
However the saddest of jokes is in believing America is a “Christian” nation when political agendas in Washington reveal us to be the most un-Christian of societies.
In support of this assertion I offer as evidence a representative American “Christian”; Ms. Coulter herself.
She claims to be a Presbyterian, and has gone on record that along with the works of Dave Barry and true crime literature involving serial killers, her favorite book is the Bible.
I remain unconvinced that Ms. Coulter has ever read the Bible.
Frankly I wouldn’t believe it if she said she’d read the Classic Illustrated comic book Bible or even sat through the 1966 film by John Huston.
But if I have not decisively demonstrated her abject lack of scriptural understanding, let me add to my argument her own testimony:
“I’m a Christian first and a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative second, and don’t you ever forget it,” Ms. Coulter brays.
If Ms. Coulter had even glanced at the New Testament Cliff Notes, she would recognize the absurdity of that statement, which is akin to saying, “I am a prima ballerina in the Bolshoi Ballet first and a 358 pound, one legged Sumo wrestler second.”
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
Anyone can say “Christianity” is their faith, but a Christian must express his faith in practice.
A prize fighter is someone who enters a boxing ring with an opponent and slugs it out until one is unable to continue.
A skydiver is someone wearing a parachute that leaps from a plane in flight.
A Christian is someone who tries to live his life in accordance to the teachings of one now called “The Christ.”
In truth, either facing a 22-year-old Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. or setting out to beat Alan Eustace’s free-fall jump record would be the easier of tasks than living up to the standards set by Christ.
I’m sure there are many who consider themselves Christians simply because they spend every Sunday in church. This is like arguing you’re a dolphin because you spend every Sunday frolicking in the water off the Santa Monica pier.
Jesus was very specific in stressing that one does not achieve any spiritual benefits merely in declaring themselves a “Christian.”
You are a Christian when you demonstrate yourself to be one.
Let’s focus on Ms. Coulter’s description of herself as “a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative,” and place it in a Christian context…
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment… whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell.”
“You can’t come before God with anger in your heart”
“Do violence to no man.”
“Become children of the light.”
“Thou shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.”
There are 24 additional verses in which this commandment is repeated.
Again, there is nothing the least vague in these verses, they are unequivocal.
They also explicitly express what the very hallmark of being a Christian is:
“A new commandment I give unto you,
That ye love one another, as I have loved you…
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another.”
Nope, no wiggly room here. † (see below) And finally –
Jesus challenges us to tend those who are prisoners (rather than build more prisons); to clothe the poor and feed the hungry (rather than cut funding to programs that do just that); to tend the sick (rather than denounce Obamacare as socialism and “bear false witness” against Planned Parenthood); and to offer shelter to those who are strangers in our land (At last count, well more than half the states of the union had refused to accept Syrian refugees.)
The Gospels offer 30 distinct verses in which Jesus repudiates the entire conservative agenda. Or should I say, where the conservative agenda is revealed in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus.
I will not list all these passages, but Matthew 25:34-41, exemplifies them as Jesus reveals what awaits those who stand before his God in judgment:
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty,
and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord,
when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
This passage also indicates what awaits those who rejects the charity and compassion Jesus urged:
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
It is plain for all but the self deluded to see that what were priorities for Jesus are not those of the conservatives in Washington.
One final point.
It is true that on “abortion” Jesus makes no comment.
But Jesus does have something to say about those who distort Biblical passages in support of the claim that their struggle is in obedience to the teachings.
Each time I have read the Bible I am astonished by what I find.
This time, keeping the running list, gave me the greatest surprise of them all.
What is Jesus’ greatest concern over?
He invokes it 32 times in the New Testament, more than any other:
Beware of those false preachers who add or subtract from Jesus’ words and makes money off his teachings.
“Take heed and beware of those who call themselves servants of God.” Matthew 16:6
“Guard against those who try to lead them astray.” Matthew 24:4
“Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” John 2:16
“Do not teach falsehood.” Matthew 5:19
“And many false prophets shall arise.” Matthew 24:11
“And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ;
or, lo, he is there; believe him not.” Mark 13:21
“All who speak on their own authority are after praise for themselves.” John 7:18 (ASV)
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.: Matthew 7:15
“Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name,
saying, I am Christ;” Mark 13:5-6
“Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.” Luke 20:46-47
“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men,
but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:28
Here, arguably, is where those who called themselves “Christians” have failed the greatest; they have allowed themselves to be misled by those “full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
I say once more, that America is not a Christian nation.
If it were a Christian nation there would be no homeless in our cities, no hunger, fewer prisons, less untreated illness, more forgiveness and greater love:
The fact that the clownish Ms. Coulter is given attention and her books have been best sellers contributes support of my contention.
No doubt I’ll be accused of bending the scriptures to my political views. If you think this, you should read the Bible yourself.
The danger in this is once you do, you may find yourself questioning if the only Christian was the one who died on the cross.
So Ms. Coulter, I submit that you are no Christian, and in closing offer this advice: Whenever the topic turns to the Bible or the teachings of Jesus, you should never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.
† Coulter has been a long time contributor to VDARE, a anti-immigration, anti-Darwin, anti-multiculturalism “Paleo-conservative” blog and website. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated it as a “hate group” alleging ties to white supremacist groups.