This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is one of the more amusing religio-political stories of the year: the Conservative Bible Project. Amy Sullivan, who called the project “insane,” summarized the problem nicely.

The guys at Conservapedia (aka, “the trustworthy encyclopedia”) have decided to retranslate the Bible in what they’re calling the Conservative Bible Project, because “liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations.”

And you thought liberal bias was limited to the evil mainstream media. Apparently the early Church fathers had their own problems, because the Conservapediacs are particularly intent on scrubbing the Bible of “liberal” passages they say were inserted into the original canon and therefore shouldn’t be considered sacred. Passages like the story of the adulteress whom Jesus saved from being stoned with the famous line: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Conservapedia complains that liberals have used this story to argue against the death penalty. Plus, this Jesus character sounds like a radical moral relativist.

Also among the goals of the project: replace liberal words like “labor” with preferred conservative terms; use concise language instead of “liberal wordiness”; and — my favorite — “explain the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning.” Jesus talks about economics more than any other secular subject in the Bible, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. I look forward to learning the free-market meaning of “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Conservative Rod Dreher noted that “the insane hubris of this really staggers the mind…. It’s like what you’d get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin’.”

Dreher went on to ask, “These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture? They really think it’s wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism?”

Apparently, yes.

Also from The God Machine this week:

* The U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are warning Congress that they will oppose health care reform unless it restricts abortion funding, does more to assist the poor, and covers the needs of legal immigrants.

* A new website, called “Day Six,” was unveiled this week by a coalition of progressive religious groups, promoting climate change legislation from a liberal, faith-based perspective.

* Despite some reports to the contrary, Sarah Palin’s soon-to-be-released book will not be published with a separate Christian version.

* Jon McNaughton’s “One Nation Under God” painting really has to be seen to be believed.