Orange County, CA may be best known for TV shows about spoiled rich teens frolicing on the beach, but this Saturday (September 17) there’ll be something different happening along the OC shores; a demonstration to publicize biblical immorality by a local atheist group. Backyard Skeptics, a local group of atheists, agnostics and skeptics will meet for lunch near the Huntington Beach pier and afterwards hold what their meetup page describes as an outreach program of dialogues with theists and anyone else who’d like to talk with them. But that’s not all they’re doing. According to the Orange County Register, they plan to publicly rip out passages from the Bible that they describe as promoting immoral laws.
From the OC Register:
“We’re not there to burn the Bible or desecrate,” Bruce Gleason, director of Backyard Skeptics, said. “There are plenty verses in the Bible that if you did any of those things today, you’d be thrown in jail immediately.”
Group members will rip out verses in the Bible such as Deuteronomy 22: 14-31, which says if a man finds his wife not to be a virgin, the community can stone her; or a later verse in the same chapter the Backyard Skeptics say can be interpreted to say that virgins who are raped will be forced to marry their rapist…
Gleason says the demonstration is based loosely on Thomas Jefferson’s Bible – an 86-page book that omits huge chunks of the New Testament, according the Religion News Service.
Jefferson’s Bible, which the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is restoring, chronicles Jesus’ life but leaves out the Resurrection and all miracles the Bible says Jesus was a part of.
“We will have copies of the Jefferson Bible (on Saturday),” Gleason said. “Out of 1,100 pages he only kept (86) of them. This is one of our Founding Fathers.”
I contacted Bruce Gleason to verify that they were going to actually tear pages out of bibles and he said, “We will be tearing pages from the bible but they MIGHT be photocopies – not directly from the Bible – we’re playing this by ear because this might be a little to abrasive even though our point is that christians agree with atheists that some verses are not to be lived by.”
The instructions on the Backyard Skeptics event meetup page reflect the less confrontational approach:
The main purpose of this outreach is to let other non-believers know that there is a group that exists for them where they can share the idea that we can be good without God. Although many believers approach us, we are not there to convert or debate, but rather to educate. It’s not only entertaining to discuss an atheistic world-view with others, but it keeps us ‘on our game’ when discussing what we think is a better world-view.
If you join us, always be calm and considerate. I suggest talking with a Christian no more than 3 minutes if you feel they are there only to argue or challenge you. If there is a sincere conversation issuing, by all means continue.
It does not, however, offer instructions on how to tear pages out of bibles; or even mention the subject.
The Backyard Skeptics of Orange County is a very active group that has put up atheist themed-billboards (see Atheists are “getting ever so bold” in Southern california) and even more recently, posters in bus shelters (Atheists storm Calif. bus shelters with “no god” ads). More information about them can be found at their website and their meetup page gives details of the Huntington Beach demonstration and other upcoming activities. The demonstration will also be live streamed on UStream.com.
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