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Lawrence O'Donnell on the Bible, the Oath of Office, and the Ousting of Louie Giglio: VIDEO

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Lawrence O'Donnell last night looked at the ejection of Rev. Louie Giglio from the inauguration ceremony over what he says it says in the Bible about gay people, as well as the use of that book in the inauguration ceremony, and the ironies present therein:

“This time, as it was last time for the first time in history, the book will be held by a First Lady who is a descendent of slaves. But the holy book she will be holding does not contain one word of God condemning slavery. Not one word. But that same book, which spends hundreds and hundreds of pages condemning all sorts of things and couldn’t find one sentence in here to condemn slavery, does indeed manage to find the space to repeatedly condemn gay people, as the now banished Louie Giglio says it does. And as the First Lady is holding that book for the President, sitting somewhere near them will be a pastor who the Inauguration Committee will make sure is much more adept at hiding what that book actually says than Louie Giglio was.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. While I understand and agree with the point he is making, as someone with advanced degrees in theology, I have to say that he did not do a very good job of saying what the Bible itself actually says or even how the issue of translations/paraphrase works. So I give him an A- on intent but a C+ at most on accuracy. Bottom line: People do not believe what the Bible says -- they believe what other people tell them the Bible says.

    Posted by: Damien | Jan 11, 2013 11:53:55 AM


  2. " But that same book, which spends hundreds and hundreds of pages condemning all sorts of things and couldn’t find one sentence in here to condemn slavery, does indeed manage to find the space to repeatedly condemn gay people"

    Someone with the full expertise that I lack needs to explain to Lawrence that the quoted statement above is just some person's "interpretation" of what the Bible says. And, that there are those who understand what the Bible was actually saying in terms of the times that it was written. That being a condemnation of prostitution and pederasty and not making any condemnation of loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships.

    Posted by: anonymous | Jan 11, 2013 11:55:00 AM


  3. A degree in theology is about as useful, valid and respect inducing as a degree in phrenology.

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 11, 2013 12:11:45 PM


  4. I appreciate Steve's point. However, a degree in phrenology would be useful for explaining what phrenology believes, no matter how absurd that belief is. That was my only point. I can tell you what is in the bible (lots of folks can) without believing it is a useful guide for life today in all (or any of) its details. Sorry if I failed to make that clear.

    Posted by: Damien | Jan 11, 2013 12:18:39 PM


  5. Come one, folks. On our side at least, we hear folks constantly claiming the Bible isn't really anti-gay. We've got theology experts all over the place saying it's been misinterpreted, hell, we've even got a new translation just for us.

    I for one think it's a breath of fresh air to say YES, the Bible *is* anti-gay. It's also anti-women, pro-slavery and a host of terrible things. I'm not interested in "rehabilitating" the "good" book. Or Christianity for that matter.

    Posted by: adamblast | Jan 11, 2013 12:24:13 PM


  6. The Abolitionists thought the Bible had a great deal to say about slavery in its American form.

    Posted by: Kevin | Jan 11, 2013 12:25:32 PM


  7. DAMIEN please tell me what the bible says about homosexuality. I'm a young gay man and just wanna know more about this.

    Posted by: Larry | Jan 11, 2013 12:27:43 PM


  8. A degree in theology attained by a humane person interested in social justice can actually be pretty useful if it injects some intelligence into religion. Organized religion is likely to be around for quite a few generations yet and likely to represent a majority lifestyle for most people, and I'd like to see it not be totally dominated by bigots and extremists.

    Anonymous makes a good point. The overall message of the Bible and the context within which many of the so-called proof texts exist--not to mention the complete lack of mention of homosexuality in any of the Gospels and a ton of poor translation especially in the last two centuries--and the biblical support for condemning homosexuality is really weak.

    On the whole, though, I don't understand why it's still used in the inauguration of the President. It's not exactly a binding oath because of the Bible, and clinging to religious symbolism in the public sphere seems odd in 2013.

    Posted by: Stefan | Jan 11, 2013 12:31:42 PM


  9. Also Obama is descended from 1 of the first colonial slaves = Jamestown via his mother's family

    Yes america, many white people have african american ancestors. There is no such thing as racial purity

    Posted by: Moz's | Jan 11, 2013 12:36:03 PM


  10. Laurence needs to stick to secular rants. He is failing badly in theology with his attacks on Christianity. Moreover, as a progressive, we don't need more people with him perpetuating the widespread meme that progressivism is anti-Christian. No, people like Laurence are anti-Christian.

    Posted by: Javier | Jan 11, 2013 12:37:27 PM


  11. Didja notice that Louis Giglio looks a lot like Alan Chambers?

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 11, 2013 12:44:50 PM


  12. The people who say crap like "I don't know if the original text says about homosexuality" are the same ones who can't fathom what spending five minutes on Google can do.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 11, 2013 12:54:24 PM


  13. I listened to Lawrence last night and thought what the hell is his point? The irony was either too thick or it was his ego getting in the way. It was a hot mess.

    Posted by: KevinSF | Jan 11, 2013 12:59:16 PM


  14. God can and does put a powerful prophecy in anyone's mouth, as He does here! It's time for the bigots to read and understand the Bible correctly.

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jan 11, 2013 1:06:47 PM


  15. You'd think that deity that was Omnipotent would be capable of "writing" a book that wasn't filled with so many contradictions and so open to interpretation that it's still being debated about 2000 years later.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Jan 11, 2013 1:10:47 PM


  16. If Romney has won the election, does it mean he can replace the Bible by the Book of Mormon?

    Posted by: simon | Jan 11, 2013 1:12:53 PM


  17. @ Javier,

    No, his theology is OK for a lay person. And he is not anti-Christian, just pointing out the incongruency of understanding of the Bible on the parts of the fundies.

    One noticeable thing is that Giglio says the focus of his ministry has been shifted from the homophobia to a broader perspective for the last fifteen years or so and all the problematic quotes are from the older period.
    Anyhoo, I am glad that he is out of picture here.

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jan 11, 2013 1:21:16 PM


  18. @Larry,

    A good place to start is Daniel A. Helminiak's “What the Bible Really Says about homosexuality" ,a NYT bestseller...

    His recent article on the subject:

    My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/my-take-what-the-bible-really-says-about-homosexuality/

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jan 11, 2013 1:29:58 PM


  19. That anyone even cares about the fairy tales and asorted nonsense that makes up the bible is absurd. A pile of badly translated make believe stories handed down from a backward isolated desert people. If the weak minded and suspertitoius need to have a dream daddy in the sky that is their right; but to treat it as anything other than useless fiction is ridiculous.

    That said, Song of Solomon has beautiful moments of poetry.


    Posted by: Mike in nyc | Jan 11, 2013 1:33:07 PM


  20. That anyone even cares about the fairy tales and asorted nonsense that makes up the bible is absurd. A pile of badly translated make believe stories handed down from a backward isolated desert people. If the weak minded and suspertitoius need to have a dream daddy in the sky that is their right; but to treat it as anything other than useless fiction is ridiculous.

    That said, Song of Solomon has beautiful moments of poetry.


    Posted by: Mike in nyc | Jan 11, 2013 1:33:09 PM


  21. @DAMIEN: I agree with you 100%. In Mr. O'Donnell's case, the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

    The alleged "condemnations" of same-sex relationships are actually very few in the entire compendium known as The Holy Bible.

    There are the infamous verses in Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians, but if one interprets those passages accurately and within their social/historical/cultural contexts, the alleged condemnations are concerned more with lustful behavior and cultic, temple-based prostitution.

    Mr. O'Donnell is very correct about one thing: the word "homosexual" appears no where in The Holy Bible. Nowhere. It is an invented word; its origin is quite benign, as it was coined by an associate of Sigmund Freud to describe same-sex attraction. Any Bible that uses the word "homosexual" in the passages that allegedly condemn same-sex relationships is therefore an inaccurate and biased translation.

    In the end, especially for vile evangelical reprobates like Giglio et al, one must always ask them directly: what did Jesus The Messiah have to say about same-sex love? Their answer should be thus: nothing.

    The Lord Jesus, The Messiah, The Son of God, The God-head Incarnate said nothing AT ALL. No condemnation, no judgment, no admonition.

    In fact, one can interpret one of the two versions of the New Testament story of the Roman centurion who asks Christ to simply say the word so that his young servant boy (or, his young lover) be healed as an acceptance by Jesus of the centurion's love.

    Christ does not blink an eye, does not make any judgment about the great love this centurion has for his young companion. Instead Christ uses the situation as an example of unbridled faith and praises the centurion.

    There is also the great love that Jonathan had for David. There is the Story of Ruth. There are numerous examples of same-sex love (not necessarily sexual, but in many cases, sensual) in The Holy Bible.

    It is long past due that the evangelicals and the fanatics are finally challenged on their interpretations of Scripture. The Bible does NOT condemn same-sex love at all.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jan 11, 2013 1:52:34 PM


  22. Laurence O'Donnell has done a really sloppy job here, putting words into the mouth of the administration ("... even though it is the word of God...") and misguiding his viewers on the words in the Bible in a way that could potentially empower haters and even murderers.

    Laurence says he found the word "effeminate" in his Bible instead of "homosexual" as in that pastor's Bible. Where YOUR Bible's publisher changed it to "effeminate," the actual word that Paul (not "God") wrote (shortly after he stopped attacking Christians himself) was
    "μαλακοι." It means "soft" in Koine Greek.

    Being "soft" might seem like a weird trait for Paul to judge people on. But no serious reader of Greek would think he was refering to those who use moisturizer and hair conditioner or sing in a sweet voice (and isn't it strange that those who have recently changed that word to "effeminate" never use this verse to suggest that only butch women are acceptable women?)

    The most logical explanation is that Paul meant people of soft moral fiber who are pliable enough to be talked into doing anything.

    Two words later, Paul also used the word "αρσενοκοιται," which has unclear meaning.
    That pastor likes to read a version that has changed it to "homosexual" (a word which never appeared in any Bible until 1946).
    The French Louis II version has turned it into "les infâmes," which just means "the infamous."
    Scholars of Greek think that word likely refered to the prostitutes who worked in religious temples performing sexual rituals (common back then but so unheard of today that we don't even have a common word for it).

    O'Donnell makes it sound like the originally-scheduled pastor brings more clarity to the Bible than anyone else who will be picked.
    On the contrary, O'Donnels own argument contradicts that notion. Any pastor who has any integrity and consistency in his reading of the Bible can ONLY be one who reads its various books in their historical contexts, considering who wrote them, what they ACTUALLY said, and fully cognizant of the fact that following all the books phrase-by -phrase and out-of-context is dangerous.
    A real, true word-for-word literalist would be murdering his neighbors for planting more than one kind of flower in the garden or for mowing the lawn on a Saturday or gor getting re-married after a divorce.
    If O'Donnell wants to talk about how no one follows all that's in the Bible, he should be pointing out THOSE kinds of verses.
    Groups like prostitutes are already murdered in alarming numbers and their attackers don't need to be empowered by O'Donnell's words.

    Posted by: GregV | Jan 11, 2013 2:08:43 PM


  23. @Mikeinnyc, +1! The bible is a fairy tale. It is the biggest scam since the beginning of time, and billions of people buy into it out of fear of the unknown. Yes, the bible is anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-shellfish, anti-everything, and no matter how people try to spin it, especially these "gay friendly" churches, it is still bullsh*t. Maybe it is good for uneducated people who need some sort of belief to cling to, but wake up people. It's a fairy tale. A very destructive fairy tale.

    Posted by: Lucas | Jan 11, 2013 2:36:35 PM


  24. @STEFAN...you are right. The Bible has NO place in a sphere of government, which should be totally devoted to absolute separation of church and state.

    Posted by: Citizen of the United States | Jan 11, 2013 2:40:16 PM


  25. @GregV
    The most interesting comment.

    By the way, here's a little elaboration on the first Greek word:
    http://www.gaychristian101.com/Define-Malakoi.html

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jan 11, 2013 2:47:02 PM


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