Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Conservapedia Rescues Bible from Liberals: The Conservative Bible Project

This has been making the rounds lately: the Conservapedia website, founded by Andrew Schlafly, son of conservative Catholic activist Phyllis Schlafly, has created a Conservative Bible Project whose goal is to remove supposed liberal bias from the biblical text.

I’m finding all Conservapedia links are down today as I post this. But several sources that posted about the Conservative Bible Project yesterday offered summaries of the project (see the first link above for Rachel Weiner’s summary at Huffington Post, as well as P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula* and Rod Dreher at Crunchy Con).

It seems the Conservapedia crowd are intent on rescuing the sacred text from emasculating wordy liberals (nothing bespeaks he-man status like a terse grunt) who don’t understand that Jesus was all about the free market and pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps individual initiative. So Schlafly’s group intends to clean up the text and its translations to assure that God’s word reaches us in suitably macho-terse, free-enterprise-celebrating forms.

P.Z. Myers reports that the Project has problems with Luke’s text (Luke 23:34) that has Jesus praying for forgiveness for those who crucify him, on the ground that this verse does not appear in the earliest and most authentic Lucan manuscripts nor in the other gospels. According to Myers, the Conservative Bible Project asks, “Is this a liberal corruption of the original? . . . This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible.”

I don’t know if the following story is apocryphal or not, but a report that has circulated in American religious circles for years now claims that Jim Wallis often lectures using a copy of the bible from which every reference to poverty and the poor has been cut out. As he speaks, Wallis opens the bible to show his audience what a bible from which the terms “poor” and “poverty” have been removed would look like.

The text he displays is gutted, full of holes everywhere. The bible is, in other words, brim-full of references to the poor and to the moral obligation of believers to show concern for those caught in poverty.

Which presents something of a problem for those whose gospel is all about free enterprise and macho self-reliance, or about gay bashing, for that matter, since the purportedly anti-gay texts in the scriptures can be counted on the fingers of both hands, with several fingers left over. I can well imagine that those who take their cue from those ideological concepts and not from a biblical text replete with commands to take care of the poor would want to tinker with that text. Just a little bit.

*I'm grateful to Terry Weldon for sending me this link.