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Fundamentalist Christianity Is a Collection of Justifications for Hate

more from Hrafnkell Haraldsson
Monday, August, 13th, 2012, 8:00 am

Modern Heathens have found that when you’re trying to reconstruct a religion it’s useful to know exactly what you’re trying to reconstruct – and from when. You see, Heathens don’t have an unbroken connection to the past thanks to a long history of Christian intolerance. Our ancestral believes were not allowed to develop naturally from the eleventh or twelfth century until today. We have to make do with what survived.

Because religions and religious beliefs evolve and do not remain static, a strict reconstructionist runs the risk of making a living, vibrant thing into a dead and static thing: a skeleton. You can’t simply say you’re going to reconstruct Viking Age religion and insist that is how it should be forevermore. It wouldn’t be that way if it had been allowed to live and evolve. That brings us to another approach, which I like to think of as revivalism, which has a less strict approach, one which allows a modern Heathenism that is inspired by more than transplanted from the past.

A revivalist believes that not all the customs of the past are necessarily relevant to today: thralldom (slavery) for example. The world has changed drastically, after all. Compounding the problem is our ignorance of beliefs and rituals. When we know for example that people chanted, we don’t know what they chanted or why, or what was being accomplished by the ritual. Simply transferring every bit of knowledge we have of the past to the present would result in a oft-times meaningless collection of activities.

The Tale of Volsi (Völsa Þáttr) is a case in point. This story is found in the Saga of St Ólaf in the Flateyjarbók (II, 331) and takes place in northern Norway during the days of forced conversion. St. Ólaf plays the part of the ugly Christian. A Heathen peasant family plays the victims. The story goes like this (I’ll let the eminent Turville-Petre tell the tale):

One autumn a fat draught-horse died and, pagan as they were, the family cut him up and stewed him. When the horse was skinned, the farmer’s son, full of boisterous humour, picked up the generative organ (vingull), ran into the house and shook it in front of the women, saying:

Hér meguð sjá   Here you can see

heldr röskligan a good stout vingull

vingul skorinn   chopped off from

af viggs föður   the horse’s father.

þér er, ambátt,     For you, serving-maid,

þessi Völsi            this Völsi (phallus) will be

allódaufligr          lively enough

innan læra.           between the thighs.

The housewife grasped the vingull, saying that neither this nor any­thing else should go to waste. She dried it, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, with onions and herbs to preserve it, and put it into her chest. Every evening she brought it forth, uttering a formula, and she placed all her faith in it, holding it to be her god (guð sinn), and persuading all the household to do the same. The vingull was filled with such demonia­cal power that it grew strong and great and could stand beside the housewife. Every evening she chanted a verse over it and passed it round the assembled company, each of whom contributed a verse.

Late one evening, St Ólaf arrived with his friends, Finn Arnason, and the Icelandic poet, Thormóð, all of them disguised. They sat down in the hall waiting for the people of the house to assemble. Last of all the housewife came in, bearing the vingull, which she addressed affection­ately as Völsi, while she clutched it to her bosom. Völsi was passed from hand to hand, and everyone who received it uttered a verse, often obscene, and always accompanied with the puzzling refrain:

þiggi Mörnir (Maurnir, MS.)  May Mörnir

þetta bloeti                                receive this sacrifice.[1]

Now I can insist upon my Heathen right to wave a horse cock around at the dinner table while chanting over it but that wouldn’t make much sense now, would it? I don’t know why they did it or what they chanted or even why they’d ask Mörnir, himself a phallus, to receive “this sacrifice” of a phallus. The whole thing is probably directed toward Freyr, a god of fertility, but as Rudolf Simek says in, “The various…interpretations of the Völsa Þáttr have led to several conclusions which contradict each other.”[2]

Much like the various stories and injunctions found in the Old and New Testament, when you get right down to it.

Which brings us to Christianity, or what I think of more and more as aberrochristianity, to differentiate it from the real thing. Christianity is a perfect example of how religion changes and evolves and is subject to outside influences.

Being the persecutor rather than the persecuted (whatever its worldview claims), Christianity has had the opportunity to enjoy an unbroken connection to the past. You can see that if you had used the year 1000 as a cut-off that religion then and now are very different species. And that is no surprise. Religion reflects geography and culture just as culture reflects religion.

You can’t take a set of beliefs out of their temporal and spatial context and expect them to be seamlessly transported to a new set of circumstances and conditions. Reconstructionists are left having to decide whether to transplant every (often discordant) detail they can or pick and choose – for example, the horse cock.

The problem is compounded by Christian fundamentalists who focus more on the Old Testament, both Old Testament beliefs and Old Testament language, than they do upon Jesus. You would think they were trying to reconstruct ancient Jewish religion, not practice their own Christian faith. They insist they are Christians but when did Jesus talk about things like the “land vomiting forth” its inhabitants, as does Pat Robertson?

Robertson: It’s a chicken sandwich, it’s a piece of white meat chicken between two pieces of white bread, it’s also a milkshake, now we’re going to go have demonstrations over that? But you know something, I was reading today in Leviticus, which is the law of the Old Testament, but it lays out the reasons why land will vomit out its inhabitants and it goes through a category of stuff we are calling Constitutional rights: killing babies, offering them to Moloch, and it says it is an abomination for a man to lie with a man as with a woman. It’s what it says. That is the moral law that God set forth and now we’ve got people at a university petitioning because somebody said I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I defy these homosexuals to bring forth a baby from that part of the anatomy which they concentrate on, when that happens I will change everything I’m saying; until that happens, I wish those demonstrators would shut their mouth.

I won’t even go into the First Amendment issues suggested by “shut your mouth.” Let’s go right to the heart of the matter instead: See YHWH’s threats espoused at Lev 26.14-17; they are enough to chill anyone’s blood.

As R. Joseph Hoffman observes, the God of Abraham “has always threatened vengeance of cosmic proportions for not keeping his laws…The Abrahamic god must be understood in terms of two words: exclusivity and judgment.”[3]

Regina Schwartz notes the manner in which the biblical narrative paints “inclinations toward polytheism” as “sexual infidelity” and how Israel itself “is castigated for ‘whoring after’ other gods, thereby imperiling her ‘purity.’” The land itself must be kept clean “or its inhabitants will be ejected, ‘vomited’ out of the land…when Israel is not monotheistic, it is filthy and it pollutes the land” (Lev 20.22-25). When Israel worships a foreign deity, she is a harlot, the land is made barren, and she is ejected from the land” (Jer 3.2-3).[4]

The God of monotheism is made the “True” God and the “gods” of polytheism are false. The result, when the opportunity offered, was slaughter, pure and simple. See as examples, 2 Kings 23:20-25 and Deuteronomy 13:13-18 for chilling examples of what happened to those as, George Carlin has put it, “gave the wrong answer to the God question.”

The Psalms of Solomon, as John J. Collins reminds us (and tell me if this sounds familiar to you), exalt Israel “above all other nations.” There is no room for Gentiles in the new, hoped forIsrael: “The alien and the foreigner will no longer live near them (17:28). Gentile nations will serve under the yoke of the messiah” (17:30). This sounds very much like Psalm 2.7-9: “I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The Jews of the Second Temple period (the era in which Jesus lived) were quite capable then of following the injunctions of these various biblical texts, which John J. Collins characterizes as “programmatic ideological statements”:

We can no longer accept them as simply presenting what happened. Whether we see these texts as reflecting expansionistic policies of King Josiah or as mere fantasies of powerless Judeans after the exile, they project a model of the ways in which Israelshould relate to its neighbors. In this perspective, ownership of the landof Israelis conferred by divine grant, not by ancestral occupancy or by negotiation, and violence against rival claimants of that land is not only legitimate but mandatory, especially if these people worship gods other than YHWH, the God of Israel.[5]

This was also the Israel that the Fourth Philosophy and the Essenes hearkened back to, an Israel ruled by God and unpolluted by Gentiles (Pagans), back to the days of the Maccabees and beyond, just as the Maccabees had hearkened back to the zeal of Phinehas (Num 25.10-15): Mattathias “burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri, the son of Salu” (1 Macc 1.26). As John J. Collins and others have shown, these biblical texts have served to “legitimize violent action.”

Fundamentalist preachers like to talk about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ or leading people back to that Gospel but they don’t seem much aware of it themselves, and seem more interested in leading people back to the dark ages of Israel’s past, to a time when God destroyed entire cities and eradicated entire nations in fits of genocidal rage; when he turned people into pillars of salt and pushing a doctrine of unreasoning hate rather than the injunction to love even your enemies.

As I have asked before, when was the last time you heard a fundamentalist preacher recite the Beatitudes? Despite enjoying that unbroken connection to their past, it is almost as if fundamentalist Christian preachers have elected to skip right over the New Testament part and go right back to the Bronze Age.

Modern-day Heathens often get hung up on the Viking Age – understandable given that’s pretty much the high-water mark of Heathenism – but why intentionally go back to Judaism, to a time before Christ, if you want to call yourself a Christian? It’s less like any of this represents a coherent religion than a collection of excuses and justifications for bigotry and hatred.

Christianity preaches a clear demarcation between Christianity and Judaism – the idea of an Old and New Testament, of a New and Old Covenant, of an Old and New Chosen People, dates back to the early days of Christianity. If, as those early Christians taught, everything changed with Jesus, why are today’s fundamentalist Christians acting like nothing changed at all, except maybe a few things they find inconvenient, like the injunction against shellfish, or shaving their beards?

It’s almost as though the injunction against a man loving a man exists in a vacuum and is the entire purpose of the Old Testament, the alpha and omega of the religion of Moses.  The many types of Biblical marriage are ignored in favor of one and abortion, an activity God himself demands and orders, is suddenly anti-God; the God who orders millions of deaths, who orders rape and destruction and slavery and human sacrifice is suddenly pro-life.

If Heathen revivalists have learned anything in trying to salvage their ancient customs and traditions it is that things have to make sense. You have to ask yourself, how does this fit? Does it still make sense ten centuries later? Do we understand why they did this or that back then? Obviously I’m not going to hang people from trees in sacrifice to Odin just because my ancestors engaged in that activity rather freely (attractive as people like Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson make that activity sound). Heathens don’t have any choice but to scrounge. Christians do not have to scrounge. It is all there: 2000 unbroken years of history and continuity: nobody burned their sacred texts except when they burned their own.

So why skip over Jesus and pick and choose the most hateful and bigoted passages out of the Old Testament, from an Old Covenant, from the beliefs of what Christian doctrine insists are an Old Chosen People? Why skip over the love for the hate, except to find justification for your own?

I would have more respect for these people if they would actually live as the Old Testament demands, before like Buster Wilson of the AFA, insisting that Chick-Fil-A is successful because “they live according to God’s word” and have kept God’s command to meditate on His law day and night.” Because they haven’t. They haven’t kept God’s command and neither has Buster Wilson and neither has Pat Robertson. They’ve picked out the bits like like best, that best suit their own prejudices. They’re not Jews; they’re not even Christians. They’re parasites, living off other people’s beliefs and demeaning both.


[1] E.O.G. Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), 256-257.

[2] Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology (D.S. Brewer, 1993), 365-366.

[3] R. Joseph Hoffmann, ed. The Just War and Jihad: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, & Islam (Amherst,NY: Prometheus Books, 2006), 10-11. Among this god’s enemies are, as Hoffmann identifies this group’s composition, “a blend of idolaters, foreigners, sorcerers, heretics, homosexuals, drunken sons, dismissed wives, disobedient slaves, and above all the catch-all remainder of ‘those who do not do his will.’”

[4] Regina Schwartz, The Curse of Cain (University of Chicago Press, 1998), 18, 63.

[5] John J. Collins, “The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence,” JBL 122 (2003), 11.

Which brings us to Christianity. Christianity is a perfect example of how religion changes and evolves. It has had the opportunity to enjoy an unbroken connection to the past. You can see that if you had used the year 1000 as a cut-off that religion then and now are very different species. And that is no surprise. Religion reflects geography and culture just as culture reflects religion. You can’t take a set of beliefs out of their temporal and spatial context and expect them to be seamlessly transported to a new set of circumstances and conditions. Reconstructionists are left having to decide whether to transplant every (often discordant) detail they can or pick and choose.

The problem is compounded by Christian fundamentalists who focus more on the Old Testament, both Old Testament beliefs and Old Testament language, than they do upon Jesus. You would think they were trying to reconstruct ancient Jewish religion, not practice their own Christian faith. They insist they are Christians but when did Jesus talk about things like the “land vomiting forth” its inhabitants, as does Pat Robertson?

<iframe width=”500″ height=”283″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/gmjNKbTy2cM?feature=player_embedded” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Robertson: It’s a chicken sandwich, it’s a piece of white meat chicken between two pieces of white bread, it’s also a milkshake, now we’re going to go have demonstrations over that? But you know something, I was reading today in Leviticus, which is the law of the Old Testament, but it lays out the reasons why land will vomit out its inhabitants and it goes through a category of stuff we are calling Constitutional rights: killing babies, offering them to Moloch, and it says it is an abomination for a man to lie with a man as with a woman. It’s what it says. That is the moral law that God set forth and now we’ve got people at a university petitioning because somebody said I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I defy these homosexuals to bring forth a baby from that part of the anatomy which they concentrate on, when that happens I will change everything I’m saying; until that happens, I wish those demonstrators would shut their mouth.

I won’t even go into the First Amendment issues suggested by “shut your mouth.” Let’s go right to the heart of the matter instead: See YHWH’s threats espoused at Lev 26.14-17; they are enough to chill anyone’s blood.

As R. Joseph Hoffman observes, the God of Abraham “has always threatened vengeance of cosmic proportions for not keeping his laws…The Abrahamic god must be understood in terms of two words: exclusivity and judgment.”[1]

Regina Schwartz notes the manner in which the biblical narrative paints “inclinations toward polytheism” as “sexual infidelity” and how Israel itself “is castigated for ‘whoring after’ other gods, thereby imperiling her ‘purity.’” The land itself must be kept clean “or its inhabitants will be ejected, ‘vomited’ out of the land…when Israel is not monotheistic, it is filthy and it pollutes the land” (Lev 20.22-25). When Israel worships a foreign deity, she is a harlot, the land is made barren, and she is ejected from the land” (Jer 3.2-3).[2] The God of monotheism is made the “True” God and the “gods” of polytheism are false. The result, when the opportunity offered, was slaughter, pure and simple. See as examples, 2 Kings 23:20-25 and Deuteronomy 13:13-18 for chilling examples of what happened to those as, George Carlin has put it, “gave the wrong answer to the God question.”

The Psalms of Solomon, as John J. Collins reminds us (and tell me if this sounds familiar to you), exalt Israel “above all other nations.” There is no room for Gentiles in the new, hoped forIsrael: “The alien and the foreigner will no longer live near them (17:28). Gentile nations will serve under the yoke of the messiah” (17:30). This sounds very much like Psalm 2.7-9: “I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The Jews of the Second Temple period (the era in which Jesus lived) were quite capable then of following the injunctions of these various biblical texts, which John J. Collins characterizes as “programmatic ideological statements”:

We can no longer accept them as simply presenting what happened. Whether we see these texts as reflecting expansionistic policies of King Josiah or as mere fantasies of powerless Judeans after the exile, they project a model of the ways in which Israelshould relate to its neighbors. In this perspective, ownership of the landof Israelis conferred by divine grant, not by ancestral occupancy or by negotiation, and violence against rival claimants of that land is not only legitimate but mandatory, especially if these people worship gods other than YHWH, the God of Israel.[3]

This was also the Israel that the Fourth Philosophy and the Essenes hearkened back to, an Israel ruled by God and unpolluted by Gentiles (Pagans), back to the days of the Maccabees and beyond, just as the Maccabees had hearkened back to the zeal of Phinehas (Num 25.10-15): Mattathias “burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri, the son of Salu” (1 Macc 1.26). As John J. Collins and others have shown, these biblical texts have served to “legitimize violent action.”

Fundamentalist preachers like to talk about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ or leading people back to that Gospel but they don’t seem much aware of it themselves, and seem more interested in leading people back to the dark ages of Israel’s past, to a time when God destroyed entire cities and eradicated entire nations in fits of genocidal rage; when he turned people into pillars of salt and pushing a doctrine of unreasoning hate rather than the injunction to love even your enemies.

As I have asked before, when was the last time you heard a fundamentalist preacher recite the Beatitudes? Despite enjoying that unbroken connection to their past, it is almost as if fundamentalist Christian preachers have elected to skip right over the New Testament part and go right back to the Bronze Age. Modern Heathens often get hung up on the Viking Age – understandable given that’s pretty much the high-water mark of Heathenism – but why intentionally go back to Judaism, to a time before Christ, if you want to call yourself a Christian? It’s less like any of this represents a coherent religion than a collection of excuses and justifications for bigotry and hatred.

Christianity preaches a clear demarcation between Christianity and Judaism – the idea of an Old and New Testament, of a New and Old Covenant, of an Old and New Chosen People, dates back to the early days of Christianity. If, as those early Christians taught, everything changed with Jesus, why are today’s fundamentalist Christians acting like nothing changed at all, except maybe a few things they find inconvenient, like the injunction against shellfish, or shaving their beards?

It’s almost as though the injunction against a man loving a man exists in a vacuum and is the entire purpose of the Old Testament, the alpha and omega of the religion of Moses.  The many types of Biblical marriage are ignored in favor of one and abortion, an activity God himself demands and orders, is suddenly anti-God; the God who orders millions of deaths, who orders rape and destruction and slavery and human sacrifice is suddenly pro-life.

If Heathen revivalists have learned anything in trying to salvage their ancient customs and traditions it is that things have to make sense. You have to ask yourself, how does this fit? Does it still make sense ten centuries later? Do we understand why they did this or that back then? Obviously I’m not going to hang people from trees in sacrifice to Odin just because my ancestors engaged in that activity rather freely (attractive as people like Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson make that activity sound). Heathens don’t have any choice but to scrounge. Christians do not have to scrounge. It is all there: 2000 unbroken years of history and continuity: nobody burned their sacred texts except when they burned their own.

So why skip over Jesus and pick and choose the most hateful and bigoted passages out of the Old Testament, from an Old Covenant, from the beliefs of what Christian doctrine insists are an Old Chosen People? Why skip over the love for the hate, except to find justification for your own?

I would have more respect for these people if they would actually live as the Old Testament demands. Instead we get people like Buster Wilson of the AFA, insisting that Chick-Fil-A is successful because “they live according to God’s word” and have kept God’s command to meditate on His law day and night.” Because they haven’t. They haven’t kept God’s command and neither has Buster Wilson and neither has Pat Robertson. They’ve picked out the bits like like best, that best suit their own prejudices. They’re not Jews; they’re not even Christians. They’re parasites, living off other people’s beliefs and demeaning both.


[1] R. Joseph Hoffmann, ed. The Just War and Jihad: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, & Islam (Amherst,NY: Prometheus Books, 2006), 10-11. Among this god’s enemies are, as Hoffmann identifies this group’s composition, “a blend of idolaters, foreigners, sorcerers, heretics, homosexuals, drunken sons, dismissed wives, disobedient slaves, and above all the catch-all remainder of ‘those who do not do his will.’”

[2] Regina Schwartz, The Curse of Cain, 18, 63.

[3] John J. Collins, “The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence,” JBL 122 (2003), 11.




Fundamentalist Christianity Is a Collection of Justifications for Hate was written by Hrafnkell Haraldsson for PoliticusUSA.
© PoliticusUSA, Mon, Aug 13th, 2012 — All Rights Reserved




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