Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review - Bible Bullies


Bible Bullies: How Fundamentalists Got The Good Book So Wrong

By: C. Arthur Ellis, Jr.
Publisher: Gadfly Publishing
Publication Date: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0982094099
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 2013

As a society, we all thrive on the opinions and advice of others. The diverse universe we find ourselves in is, in part, welcomed into our homes through the Internet and our televisions. We feel free to select and explore things that interest us, things that support our belief systems. Likewise in our “real” lives we surround ourselves with those of similar belief systems and lifestyles. Perhaps even the foods we eat can be said to be influenced in part by our beliefs. The only barriers are those of our own creation and making ... until now. It used to be understood by most of us that it’s a my house, my rules world, but it has slowly turned into one in which the rules of others are now encroaching on our very doorsteps via insidious Bible bullies.

Since when did it become fashionable for others to tell you what to do? Since the evangelical Christians decided to shake hands with the Republican party, that’s when. The Republican party has evolved into a conservative one and the marriage was a match made in heaven, one that revitalized a party that was fractionalized and fraught with dissension. Mudslinging was rampant as the more conservative members labeled other more progressive members RINOs, Republicans in Name Only. Now we have the Teavangelicals whose outlook on your life and mine is biblically based. The Republican party now has cohesion with many adhering to a biblical world view.

The intent of this book is to help us “learn to identify Bible bullies -- their personality traits, their tactics, and how they use the Bible to push others around” while exploring topics so near and dear to their hearts (and Bible). Undoubtedly, few people need to read a book to learn how to identify those who have a Bible verse at the ready to back up their political beliefs, beliefs based on their religious ones. We all are prone to confirmation bias and can find support for our beliefs on many levels, but Bible bullies are armed and ready to spew their “unvarnished hatred, ostensibly justified in the name of religion.” Perhaps the terminology is a bit strong, but the Ellises counter their verses and voices with a little logic and points that defy argument.

The first part of the book deals with topics near and dear to the Bible bully’s heart: misogyny, child abuse, family planning, sexual diversity, alcohol, social programs, creationism, and public prayer. In a firm, conversational style, the Ellises open their Bibles and find the verses the Bible bullies so often use to support their arguments, arguments that are often weak and cannot be attributed to the teachings of Jesus. WWJD is not the question, but rather it’s what did Jesus say? Many Bible thumping bullies cite verses that Paul penned. For example, “The only verses in the New Testament that sanction child discipline are attributed not to Jesus, but to Paul.”

Perhaps someone should alert the Pearl family of this faux pas. The second and third parts of the book use confirmation bias (what’s good for the goose is good for the gander) to further voice and support the Ellis’s viewpoints. Of particular interest to the reader will be an exploration of Paul’s teachings in contrast to Jesus’s. What I did appreciate was the fact that there was no venom in these pages. There was an attempt to give an historical overview of an issue, relay what the evangelical Christian or Bible bully might cite for “proof,” and examine what actually is in the Bible, or isn’t as the case may be. The book itself is a challenging read and if you want to challenge Bible bullies, you’ll find this to be a fascinating read with plenty of food for thought.

Quill says: Bible Bullies is an excellent way to explore the mindset of the fundamentalist Christian Bible bully.

For more information on Bible Bullies: How Fundamentalists Got The Good Book So Wrong, please visit the book's website at: www.biblebullies.com