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May 2007
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More fringe religious follies

Having been raised as the son of a minister (and therefore spending a lot of time considering the fundamental compassionate roots of Christianity), I got a bit of a sad chuckle out of this one (via Jim Henley, via Crooked Timber).
If you’re unfamiliar with the new phenomenon of Conservapedia (billed as the answer to the “liberal” Wikipedia), it can be quite… bizarre. This essay about the Adultress Story is a prime example. The story of Jesus saying “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” is determined to not be authentic in the Bible, primarily because it interferes with people’s desire for bloodthirsty retribution.

Amid this scholarship [denying its authenticity], why is the emphasis on this passage increasing? The answer lies in its liberal message: do not criticize or punish immoral conduct unless you are perfect yourself. But one need not be perfect before he can recognize and punish wrongdoing in himself and others. Civilized society may not depend on stoning to deter immoral crimes, but it does depend on retribution enforced by people who are themselves sinners.

In the post below, the pope talked about divine retribution. These people are looking for divine allowance to practice personal and societal retribution on those who violate their definition of moral behavior, regardless of the flaws of those imposing the punishment.
Christianity and retribution. Not the way I remember it.
But it’s what you see in the sado-moralism of many of the drug warriors. Treatment more cost-effective than incarceration? Who cares! We want retribution. Punishment. Criminalization. Prisons. We want retribution. Death from dirty needles and tainted drugs. We want retribution. Doors smashed in the middle of the night. (But we’re not including our own “youthful indiscretions,” of course.)
William Bennett doesn’t want Jesus telling him not to cast stones when he has a gambling problem himself. Mark Souder doesn’t want anything to put a downer on his psycho-sexual punishment fantasies.
Ah, yes. The new Christianity. “Blessed are those who inflict punishment on others for petty moral crimes, for they shall feel smug.”

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