My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible
The 17th century painting Judith Beheading Holofernes, by Artemisia Gentileschi, depicts a biblical scene.
February 25th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible

Editor's note: Steven James is the author of more than 30 books, including "Flirting with the Forbidden," which explores forgiveness.

By Steven James, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” (At least the King James Version got that one right.)

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The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded soliloquies. Take Psalm 77:1-3: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help” (New Living Translation).

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to St. Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

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I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism.

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls (Job 31:1).

It’s easy to make “Bible heroes” (as Protestants might say) or “saints” (as Catholics might refer to them) out to be bigger than life, immune from the temptations that everyone faces.

I find it encouraging that Jesus never came across as pietistic. In fact, he was never accused of being too religious; instead he partied so much that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is like a church service that goes on and on forever and never ends.” He said the kingdom was like a homecoming celebration, a wedding, a party, a feast to which all are invited.

This idea was too radical for the religious leaders of his day. They were more concerned about etiquette, manners, traditions and religious rituals than about partying with Jesus. And that’s why they missed out.

That’s why we miss out.

According to Jesus, the truly spiritual life is one marked by freedom rather than compulsion (John 8:36), love rather than ritual (Mark 12:30-33) and peace rather than guilt (John 14:27). Jesus saves us from the dry, dusty duties of religion and frees us to cut loose and celebrate.

I don’t believe we’ll ever recognize our need for the light until we’ve seen the depth of the darkness. So God wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with us about life and temptation and forgiveness. And grace.

Only when the Bible seems relevant to us (which it is), only when the characters seem real to us (which they were), only then will the message of redemption become personal for us (which it was always meant to be).

We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steven James.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (5,744 Responses)
  1. Mismo

    Alongside this article I see a link to another: "Pastor, wife accused of killing 'possessed' children". Kind of says it all doesn't it? The very same sort of insane thinking is displayed in both articles. People who feel the need to run their lives (and other peoples lives!) according to a book of fairy tales are pitifully sick.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • 2012dawning

      Amen brother

      February 27, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • rw

      What a fitting name for your mindset, Mismo. Yes, Mismo, you will miss mo' of God's Eternity and get mo' of Satan's Eternity in Hell as long as you keep that mindset.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • 2Pc

      Hey, Mismo,
      I bet you believe in that modern-day fairy tale where that cosmic-speck-of-dust-just-up-and-explodes-and-all-of-a-sudden-we get...the universe, don't you?

      February 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Brando

      Yes that one incredibly rare instance proves it's all bad. All the other good stuff religious people are doing, which is too numerous to report... uh... science! flying spaghetti monster!

      February 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  2. Erin

    Add me in to the voice of atheism. The Bible is an evil book of myths and lies that has caused unmeasurable suffering. The sooner the world sees that the better we all shall be. Science has explained all that god was supposed to be in control of, and the creator of.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • IDoBelieve

      where would science be without God? No where. Because God created that and everything along with it....including you.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Sick and...

      Love and peace are evil? First time I've been told that... Honoring the rights of other human beings... evil? Still hadn't crossed my mind...

      Just because a bunch of sword toting idiots misinterpret what the word of a scripture says does not make the words themselves evil. Oh, and a person who has no moral pedestal of pure good and pure evil does not really have the ability to see the shades beyond the "Mostly bad" or "Mostly good," since absolutes do not exists to a person without that standard. Please stop misusing words... It makes my head hurt...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • 2Pc

      "Science has explained all that god was supposed to be in control of, and the creator of."


      Science can barely predict the weather forecast.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • GalapagosPete

      "Science can barely predict the weather forecast."

      Maybe science doesn't do it very well, but I haven't heard *any* weather forecasts out of your god.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  3. Golden Rule

    My whole life as a Christian, I never saw a bit of proof. Ever. From anyone at anytime. It didn't matter to me because I was insane and participating in a group psychosis. Now I am free. I'm not in your nasty little cult anymore.
    Sincerity is not proof that something is true.
    Dying for something does not make it true.
    We are not liable for what other people do if we were not involved in the first place.
    Emotional feedback is not proof that something is true.
    Emotions and feelings have no relation to the truth. They are caused by brain chemicals, not by anything supernatural.
    The Bible is a mishmash of different fables and extreme exaggerations and outright lies.
    Every so-called holy text in existence is made-up.
    I could go on, but why should I bother? When you are a participant in the group psychosis, you are a prisoner of the mind.
    What believer will listen to reason regarding their faith or what it's based on...when reason opposes religion?
    Many believers do not like to think about other religions in a way that might show the weaknesses in their own religion.
    They refuse to question the very causes of their religion. They think they already know it, yet they have never seen any proof of it themselves.
    I remember what it was like and how lobotomized I felt when deep in "faith."
    I can recreate my "faith" just by remembering how it felt.
    I KNOW that "faith" is a mental disconnect with perception and reality and awareness.
    It is a mental filter that strangles a person's ability to think realistically about almost everything.

    Religion has shown time and time again that it is nothing but group-psychosis that is also a giant hoax on the victims.
    Like any group-psychosis, most inside of it find companionship, comfort, and repeated reinforcement of the "tenets" and special propaganda and anything that can be used to explain any obvious hole in the shared-psychotic-belief.

    Hey, when I busted out of it, I made sure I was correct in every supposition. My faith was deep, but I clawed my way out and escaped the clutches of anyone who might use my religion against me by making sure I was being reasonable about it.
    Logic and common sense and science knowledge are tools for freedom from delusion. Any delusion.

    Proof is impossible because there is no "God", no "Jesus", no "Holy Spirit", no supernatural anything.
    There is no way I'd ever willingly pretend that a lie is true.

    That's why I'm an atheist. I'm more honest than you believers.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • MiGrant

      Very well stated!
      Hats off to you for following your own good common sense!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • John

      He still..loves you. I wish you the best.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  4. Reverend Reverse

    I rather enjoyed this article, and will now drink a beer while reading all the negative replies. Heck, i may even smoke a blunt and burn a bible while i'm at it. lol

    February 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  5. Mike Dubois

    The bible and organized religions everywhere should go away. That would just leave man and Gods.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  6. Kevin

    with 27 major religions on the planet, that's down from the 1000's that have come & gone. I will stick with NONE OF THE ABOVE and live a good & decent life with humility and the principles of kindness, love, & compassion. good stories though...

    February 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  7. TheeJC

    Some of the oldest debate available appearing... Maybe to re-spark the Faithful to encourage belief again.
    I appreciate the article and the debate! I suppose my two cents may be acceptable to some for my own form of clarity of Faith in God. Firstly, Nearly all of the violence witnessed in the Bible is from the Old Testament.... Read- Before Jesus Christ. Jesus' message remains today, Love is the answer. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you have struggles with true belief, then, aside from all the other fine examples of Gods existence then remember no amount of Science, Rationalization or Physics can explain or duplicate LOVE. be it any form, that which dominates the main function of what we call "The human heart" is from God..... No other.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • John 13:34-35

      “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

      February 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Wes

      Quite a lot of claims you make. We understand much about "love" today using the methods of science. There are many differing variables which your claims ridiculous.

      You might wish to ask yourself just how much you know. As u seem to put yourself on a pedestal of supernatural knowledge above the other 7 billion persons on this planet that have no - connection - to these revelations you are claiming. Being honest, is being able to say: "I don't know" Try it sometime.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  8. tallulah13

    While I approve of using the Gentileschi painting to illustrate this story, I much prefer the Carava.ggio rendition of Judith and Holofernes, because the Judith in that painting has that "Ew, this is nasty!" expression.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  9. Sick and...

    *Random insulting phrase that will generate 50 posts of mutual animosity/ rage from both sides*

    There. Now that we've gotten that out of our systems, GET SOME SLEEP!

    Funny observation, the blog about religions is trolled by those who hate religion so much that they make more than half of the posts on a sub-forum? In fact, it's a thread of a sub-forum! Don't we have something better to do with our time than tearing down a book that sets up what is a rather nice teaching of some admirable (if not entirely realistc) moral viewpoints, like eating, sleeping, working, doing jumping jacks, spending time with our families, finding a guy/girl to make a family/ babies (unless we're into the adopting thing) with, generally anything other than theology bashing on the internet? I mean really, let them have their God and let them have their rituals. Meanwhile, we will go out and but things that teach us how the noodely one wishes for us to live and laugh our butts off at the ridiculousness of the book (which is a joke... I hope you know that...) while we toast marshmallows on the beach and light off a few fire works. Sound good to anyone?

    February 26, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not really.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Sick and...

      Well then, how about a cake and we watch a movie about explosions? Really, I have a rather long list here of things we could be doing other than getting mad on the internet.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Sick, I felt much the same way as you until a few years ago when some people showed up at my childrens' school and wanted to push their religion as science. They brought this fight on themselves, and some of them are little better than the people flying planes into buildings because "their god told them to".

      February 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Wes

      Check it out... many of the christians posting on tihs site use the word: "Hate" over and over again. They don't realize they are programmed to use this word as it is indoctrinated into their brain since youth. The word "hate" is used in the bible over 150 times. Most of the persons who are posting here that are free-thinkers, use this rarely in their every day speech.

      The very Christians who purport they promote "love" use words like "evil", "enemy", "hate" so often, their character can't help but assimilate it. The word enemy is also used over 350 times int he bible.

      Part one of indoctrination is to repeat and repeat and repeat words so that the subject eventually assimilates them into their life. Sad...really that they have no idea.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  10. Chris

    Oh C'mon ... anyone who understands the history of the Bible knows that what we see in the bible has been very carefully chosen by groups of mortals throughout the ages. Certainly choosing which gospels to choose (early Catholic church) was editing with a really really big pen.

    Whether or not the Bible started out as something written by the hand of God, it is now totally the creation of humans. You ever play the game of telephone? You give a message to one person and he gives to another and he gives it to another around a circle and when it comes back to you, it has nothing to do with what you said.

    Only in the case of the Bible, this is being handed down from people who have little common experience and tremendous language differences.

    I'm not saying that the passages in it are not relevant to modern life, but only in that they were written by people who writing about what they thought was most important. I consider Shakespeare just as much a view of the human condition.

    To say that we should interpret the bible with less sugar in the name of some sort of theological understanding is missing the point: What we read now has already been so thoroughly interpreted/translated/edited in ways that make it acceptable to the masses of the time that trying to go back a step is to promulgate the false belief that we can really know the mind of the original writers.

    We can't. Hell, we can't even figure out what our US Forefathers were thinking 236 years ago, how can we possibly know what was meant be writings pre-Christ or even in the thousand years after?

    To give the Bible sacred status as the writing of God is as counterproductive as making the Quran an object that must be revered. And yes, it has started just as many wars for exactly the same reasons.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • What!!!

      Chris belief and faith in God is totaly in your hands! God don't want you to believe because He is able to put on a greater show than Las Vegas but because you have sought Him for yourself. It is personal! Blessed are those that believe and have not seen! I pray for you Chris, that you see the love of God for you as I will pray that he blesses your business, your home and your family.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Sick and...

      Indeed sir, but taking a neutral standpoint on the whole religion thing doesn't tend to be the best of tactics. It appears that everyone wants you to yell for or against everything these days, and the fence is made of electrocuted sharks with fricking laser guns. To be a little more blunt, us people who see the bible as a grouping of admirable grouping of moral codes tend to be hated on by... well... everyone.

      And on the subject of editing, well duh. With the massive recall of all bibles in the (what, 4th, 5th?) century by the catholic church, there has been some rather obvious editing and changing going on with the current scripture. Maybe it isn't so blatant now as it was back then, but the scriptures have been changed time and again for all religions down in writing so that the church can remain relevant to the time it is being preached. That hasn't and will never change.

      Now, what do you say we go play with those sharks? I heard they haven't been fed in a rather long time.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • What!!!

      As for hatred of unbelievers there is no scripture to justify that stance. The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before we believed we should recognize that we stood where you stand, and none of us were born with a ticket to Heaven. To hate those that don’t believe is a totally opposite view of Christ. He came to give Hope to the lost, the lonely, the incarcerated, the motherless, the fatherless, the lost, the overwhelmed and all that seek redemption. All of His followers are required to stand in the gap as Ambassadors acting as His hands and feet serving and praying for those that don’t know Him for themselves.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  11. Chozo

    "Stop sugarcoating the Bible".

    How about a better one: "Stop believing the Bible".

    February 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Josh

      Yup. I can't take a book seriously when it has things going on in it like in Genesis 19:30-38, Psalms 137:9, and Luke 19:27.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • My Daddy is THE King

      Chozo, no one makes you believe or read the Holy Bible. So, why are you on here reading a Christian based story?

      February 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Numbers 22:22-35
      Talking donkey, and I don't mean Eddie Murphy. 🙂

      February 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • KD

      To believe in God or not beleive – both show extraordinary faith. The Bible has never been disproven – it's been tried and tried again. However, there are parts that are tough to believe and that is where faith kicks in. Atheists have a strong faith that God doesn't exist because there is no definite proof it's phony. Great article on how the BIble should be read in my opinion.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • MacMaven

      KD – The Bible has never been proven. The burden of proof is on the believer my friend. Science has more going for it in the realm of 'proof' then the Bible ever had. There is no accounting of the bulk of the Bible in any other historical writings, except of course, in the Bible. That should tell you everything. How's that Ark working for ya?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @KD, If you had a friend that believed they were visited by aliens, and these aliens were ana.lly probing them... and they were secretly positioning themselves in the government... wouldn't you want your friend to get some help? That's why we come on here and "troll" as you put it. We're worried about your sanity.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • ashrakay trolls, but for the greater good of humanity. Oh my! Tears in my eyes!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • ashrakay

      It's a tough job, but somebody's got to keep the crazy on the fringes. I hope you'll join the fight for reason, rationality, and reality one day.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      How much faith do you need to dismiss all the other gods? I doubt that you have to work harder than I do, and I'm an atheist. I just happen to be an atheist to one more god than you. Dismissing what the Bible claims is as easy as dismissing the supernatural claims of Odyssey.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  12. KC

    CNN you are just as disrespectful as these so called christians posting here.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • bobcat

      CNN is not disrespecting your faith, the author is Christian and he is making the bible come alive.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Jessy the Gnostic

      This is a section known for opinions. By the way, did you even bother reading the disclaimer at the bottom of the 'commentary' (assuming you even got that far)?

      Quote: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steven James.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  13. Jesus C.

    Yea, try telling an ignorant public this in person. You'd be stoned to death. People want the "fluffy cloud" not down and "dirty".

    February 26, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  14. Paul Buck

    Dwight The real problem is your making bad decisions in Life . Biola college is the most liberal God forsaken Bible school out there . There is a God ,there is a creator who designed the world and he loves people who repent and follow Him .the problem with Dwight he has become his own god .Good luck with that . Read Evidence that demands a verdict and see if this Book is a Fairy tale

    February 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Dubby

      To state there is a god only shows your ignorance. You can fully believe 100% that there is a god but you don't know. That's why it's called faith and beliefs. Blind sheep will be blind sheep though I guess. I like how every religion "knows" that there god is real and the only one, but surely they can't all be if any. Yet everyone still "knows."

      February 26, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      There is not a single ounce of proof to indicate that the bible is anything more than a collection of bronze age myths. Sorry.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Too Old to Care

      Sorry Paul, but I'll stand up for Dwight here. Biola is a pretty well-respected evangelical school along the lines of Dallas Theological Seminary. If you find Dallas too liberal, then you're probably in the 15 % of the most conservative fundamentalist Christians in the country and we'll have a hard time agreeing.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  15. Mark

    Very interesting. I want you to examine the Quran next, or soon would be OK. That isn't going to happen, is it? Nope, christianity is the religion to be destroyed.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • In Reason I Trust

      Don't worry Mark, all religions are fictional, not just yours.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  16. Clever Patter

    I don't get this whole 'menstrual blood unclean' thing. Why would any self respecting woman be judeo-xian?

    February 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Josh

      Good question. Maybe they don't respect themselves.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  17. Ben Franklin

    Actually, this is a whitewash. God repeatedly tells Jews to kill their neighbors' babies by bashing their heads against rocks, in the Old Testament.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • kluvalab

      Really? Repeatedly?

      February 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Hosea 13:16
      The people of Samaria must bear their guilt,
      because they have rebelled against their God.
      They will fall by the sword;
      their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
      their pregnant women ripped open."

      Psalms 137:8-9

      8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
      happy is he who repays you
      for what you have done to us-

      9 he who seizes your infants
      and dashes them against the rocks.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Observer

      Interesting. Why do you think that sounds evil to you?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I think I see where you're going with this, but we're talking about actual, live babies and not fetuses here. Exodus 21:22-23 clearly indicates that a fetus does not have the same legal status as a person.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Observer

      I mean actual infanticide. Why does that seem evil, and apparently more so as time goes on?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • JC4E

      Ok 'Oh Yeah'..

      prior to Jesus people all had the same fate and death ruled over everyone. So when people rebelled against God as a whole, God would wipe them out. Thats for Hosea, and that is actually a judgment of people of Israel! God's chosen people.. He obviously holds Israelites to a high standard.. and that Psalm is an end times prophecy..the daughter of Babylon is probably a country or city, and the children are probably smaller cities.. maybe suburbs of somesort.. just the countries little infants.. and this may indicate a nuclear war.. and that exodus thing.. Exodus 21:22-23 does not discount a fetus as a human.. in fact it says that if someone strikes a baby, that but it lives he shall be punished if it lives, but if it ends up dying, aka ABORTION then that man shall pay a life for a life.. man, what Bible you reading from?

      February 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  18. Jon

    Jesus was a drunk and a laggard. That made my day. And here I thought he saved people. Good to know he had his priorities straight.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Too Old to Care

      Sorry, Jon, read again. Jesus was ACCUSED of being a drunk & a laggard as a character assassination, much as some bozos claim that Barack Obama is the antichrist.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Why are you surprised, he was human after all.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  19. krep

    Good Article!!!

    February 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  20. Keith

    In a shocking case out of Pennsylvania, an American judge has thrown out an assault charge against a Muslim immigrant based on Sharia law.

    The assault victim was the head of the Pennsylvania chapter of American Atheists, Ernest Perce V, who was marching in a Halloween parade as “Zombie Mohammed” next to a fellow atheist dressed as “Zombie Pope.” The former depiction didn’t sit well with Muslim onlooker Talag Elbayomy, who then attacked Mr. Perce. And with an admission of guilt by the assailant and video of the incident, it should have been an open-and-shut case.

    But that’s not how it turned out.

    As Andrew McCarthy at National Review reports:

    Magistrate Judge Mark Martin, a veteran of the war in Iraq, ruled that Talag Elbayomy's sharia defense — what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed — trumped the First Amendment free speech rights of the victim.

    Yes, you read that correctly.

    Al Stefanelli of American Atheists provides some more information, writing:

    The defendant is an immigrant and claims he did not know his actions were illegal, or that it was legal in this country to represent Muhammad in any form. To add insult to injury, he also testified that his 9 year old son was present, and the man said he felt he needed to show his young son that he was willing to fight for his Prophet....

    The Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he'd be put to death.

    I wonder, if Elbayomy had put Perce “to death” not knowing that such an action in response to an insult to Mohammed was illegal in America, would Judge Martin have thrown out the murder charge?

    Stefanelli also reports, “Judge Martin's comments included, ‘Having had the benefit of having spent over 2 and a half years in predominantly Muslim countries I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam.’ ”

    I’m sure. But it appears Judge Martin knows only a little bit — at most — about American law. Perhaps he should consider the benefit of spending time in a Muslim country permanently.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bobby


      Only goes to show that people's dislike for atheists transcends all common sense. It's a free country. If you don't like that, go some place else.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Keith

      What it shows is that Sharia law, whether you like it or not, whether it is consti-tutional or not, is HERE. Thanks to cnn and others for promoting it. The law was broken. Justice was not served. I'm a Christian and I support the right of the atheist to do what he did. God gives us free will. If he wants to reject the forgiveness of sins and the grace of our Lord, he's free to do so, albeit to his detriment. I hope he'll reconsider. What I'm afraid of is the support the US is giving in the UN in terms of blashemy laws on an international scale. This is happening. If it continues, no one-atheists included, will be able to speak out against islam in the US. Therefore, this case is extremely relevant. Why does cnn refuse to report on it? This judge needs to be removed. Cnn ignores this because their "pet religion" is exposed for the ugly, horrible religion that it really is.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:49 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.