When I was a kid in Brooklyn, my family attended the First Baptist Church of the Redeemer in Flatbush. It was a beautiful brick building on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Cortelyou Road. I looked forward to Sundays, a they were the only opportunities I had to spend time with my very first girlfriend, Arlene Crozier.
But my most vivid memories of Redeemer were the congregation singing two particular hymns, There is Power in the Blood,
‘There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
and Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
“Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”
The image of someone washing themself in the blood of the bled out corpse of a baby lamb was the first drop in the sea of doubts that made me reject the barbaric Christian cult, and all other religions as well.
I can still envisage my mother, father, and their friends, belting out the bizarre refrains, completely oblivious to what the words actually conveyed.
One Sunday I was asked to teach the next week’s Sunday School class. My brother and I had each just gotten a puppy. I thought I would teach a class on love and responsibility, so I picked up a concordance to the King James version of the Bible and searched for scripture which would support my thesis.
I couldn’t find one comment about dogs in the Bible which wasn’t pejorative. The Bible doesn’t have one kind word to say about dogs or puppies. Not one!
So I decided to read the entire Bible. Cover to cover. I was astounded to learn that God likes the smell of burning animal flesh. That if you kill a dove and drip it’s blood on your big toe you can cure leprosy. That the Bible says there were unicorns and dragons. That snakes and donkeys talked. That slavery is OK.. That God murdered babies.
I questioned my parents. My Sunday School teachers. The pastor. No one could satisfactorily explain any of my concerns.
Nor has anyone since.
I see the Bible as a compilation of the folklore and myth of ancient goat herders whose view of science and history is rooted in the Stone Age, and whose sense of morality is only steps away from the jungle. Human life is trivialized and animal life is worthless.
Incredibly, millions of people buy into the Bible.
Even more incredibly, few of those have ever actually read it.
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