In Jan Brewer’s Arizona, if you hit your thumb with a hammer, you’d better watch your back. About this time last year, Brewer signed a bill into law allowing public schools to teach the Bible in public school.
Teach that the Bible is the foundation of law in the United States, as right wingers want to do, and you’ll be teaching the legal doctrine of Leviticus chapter 24 verses 13-16: “Then the Lord said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”
Yes, the Bible teaches that anyone who dares to criticize its prime deity must have their bodies smashed with stones until they are dead. Some people believe that this kind of brutal morality is the foundation of law in our society. Other people see things differently.
Among those who see things differently are a group of atheists at the University of Arkansas. This week, they held a public stoning on campus – but it was a satirical stoning. Members of the group stood still and allowed themselves to be “stoned” by onlookers, with water balloons standing in for real stones. It was a simulation, but the stonings of the Bible were not merely theatrical.