New Video Blog: Bibles in School

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Thanks to Maria for the tip on this story!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. Yea, I actually read the bible some years ago. It was excruciating. I have also read an english translation of the Koran. I found that both books were filled with more hate, murder, suffering and gratuitous sex than just about any other books I’ve ever read. Perfect fare for 5 year olds. That’ll get them prepared for prime time network TV.

  2. Using your kid to whore your religion is always a win win, either they let you do it, or they don’t and you can whine about what poor little oppressed things Christians are.. in America… where you cant be president unless you log face time at a church…..

    The bible could be his favourite story book… one of those little cartoon-book children’s bibles where they turn bible stories into pathetic shadows of Aesop’s fables….

  3. Aw, you didn’t read any of the parts ordering genocide, rape, mutilation & pillage. They’re still horrible but not as boring as the begats.

  4. I got a kick out of the cat strolling by at 1:11. :-)
    Seriously–good video, Rebecca. I hadn’t heard this story, but can’t say it surprises me.
    Sorry to hear about your run-in with the SUV, and certainly glad you weren’t badly hurt. Hope your bike isn’t too banged up.

  5. Didn’t you get hit by a car not too long ago or am I misremembering.

    I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m glad to see you are somewhat okay… and alive.

    Still, you have to admit* The Great No-God must work in mysterious ways considering he/she/it sent an SUV to hit you so that you could them stay home and preach the gospel of the No-God.

    Good video, I hadn’t heard that story before. How unsurprising to see another Liar for Jesus. And when she gets called on her BS it’s all “I’m being persecuted, blah, blah, blah.”

    Ugg, what are we going to do with these people.

    * ‘You have to admit’ is a phrase I loath. Every time I hear it I think (and sometimes say) ‘Actually no, I don’t have to admit anything. in fact even if you are 100% correct I do not have to admit to it.” Given the sarcastic nature of my comment, however, I fell justified in using it. Though I won’t force anyone to admit that I am justified.

  6. I’m going to go against the grain here. While I don’t think the woman was right in trying to read the Bible in public school, with all due respect I think that Rebecca was a bit too harsh in completely rejecting the Bible itself. Yes, there is a lot of unattractive stuff in there, things that may have been important in their historical context but outdated owing to modern practices (including medical advances). But without an understanding of the Biblical story (all those years in Sunday school) I wouldn’t have nearly as comprehensive a grasp on a lot of the forces and thinking that have driven Western culture.

    By way of passing example, consider how much more one can get out of a visit to a gallery of Raphaelite art if you are familiar with the stories being depicted. And the ability to understand the Biblical phrases that have worked their way into our cultural shorthand is priceless.

    Plus there is a lot of hippie-chick “love thy neighbor” stuff in the New Testament.

    So I’m glad that I have that religious education. I don’t think I’d be a well-rounded modern citizen without it. What I don’t know is how we can gain that knowledge without that education, short of a “Bible as literature” class.

  7. I don’t get all the love the new testament tends to get. Sure it says “Love thy Neighbour” It also says “I come not to bring piece but a sword” and has Jesus beating the hell out of moneylenders for kicks. At best its the tale of a Schizophrenic.

  8. I guess the Bible is only exciting when it talks about God smiting people or semen (and you forgot incest!). The rest, you wonder “when will it end!” as you read through it.

    Say, isn’t this like your fifth incident with your bike, or something?

  9. I can say with some authority that the bible can bore a soul to tears.

    I went to, for lack of better term, a really fucking fundamentalist christian school until the 9th grade. Every week we had chapel (i.e. church in school only some how more boring) and the only thing I had to entertain myself was a bible.

    In times of extreme boredom I would open the bible to random spots and read. Sweet jebus, there’s some weirdness in the bible. This activity more than any other, planted the seed of doubt in my mind about the whole ball of wax they were sellin’ me.

    Conclusion. The bible would be the end of christianity if the average christian sat down and read the whole thing cover to cover. There was a reason they told us not to read “song of solomon”.
    ….. Wow. I just second though the reading of the bible in school…. hmmm…. Still bad.

    Also I though “Lolita” was too introspective and have never been able to finish it.

  10. @capheind: Jesus whipped the money lenders because their presence defiled a place dedicated to god. That doesn’t fit my definition of “just for kicks”. I’m OK with much of the philosophy that Jesus taught. I think it’s just sad that it wasn’t sufficient to preach the value of his views but the divinity (and, therefore, unassailability) of his views.
    Forgiveness? That’s a good thing. I can get behind that. Charity? That’s good, too. A promise of physically raising this body from the dead at the end of days? Why would I want this body? If an almighty god brings me back from ash, I’d hope he’ll fix a few defects.

  11. Back on topic:
    My sister bought her kids one of those cute little children’s bibles and I picked it up thinking, “The Bible? Isn’t that a little hard core for an eight year old?” I flipped to Noah. There he is with the ark and animals floating on the flood. No mention of wiping out all of humanity. I flipped to Job (one of my favorite chapters) and… no Job at all! No boils, no dead family. Not a word. How about a little savior scourging? The entire passion was reduced to a picture of the risen lord and a paragraph saying that “The enemies of Jesus killed him but he defeated them by rising from the dead three days later to prove his promise of salvation to everyone.”
    I am of the opinion that Christianity knows it have a PR problem with the Bible. It knows that frightening little kids with sex, violence, and a nigh-on psychopathic god doesn’t sit well with our new mamby-pamby think-of-the-children culture.
    My personal dream is a follow up story from a classmate of the junior Bible thumper coming home and telling his/her parents, “I’m not going to be Christian! Their God is nuts!”

  12. Yeah, but beating up money lenders for running a buisness out of a “holy place” sort of runs against “Turn the other cheek”.

  13. @SkepLit: Jesus whipped the money lenders because their presence defiled a place dedicated to god. That doesn’t fit my definition of “just for kicks”.


    Fit’s mine. I mean, most of the time, when a good old fashioned for-kicks-ass-kicking goes down, there’s some excuse. “He looked at me funny.” is the favorite, but the Jesus reason–“He said somethin’ ’bout my pa!”–will do.

    Going at it with a scourge is a little kinky, if you ask me. Dude was probably bored with preaching sweetness and light and wanted to get his Dom on in public.

  14. Jesus isn’t allowed to have a bad day? You think he’s supposed to be some sort of perfect being or something? Why don’t you just go deify him for chissake!

  15. All I know is that in Chuck Norris’ new movie, Jesus Now its Personal, the moneylender scene will be given high precidence. He will portray a middle aged jesus who must save his deciples from the roman empire using only the martial skills taught to him by a time travelling Samuri ghost. It ends with the Crucifiction cliffhanger.

    In Jesus 2: Ressurected for revenge he’ll have to hunt down Judas who has kidnapped Jesus’ girlfriend, played by Shania Twain, who I’m also told will be doing the soundtrack for both movies.

  16. What the hell… I just described Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Way and the Light, the Lamb of God, with the phrase “wanted to get his Dom on” and I don’t get any COW love?

  17. Students bring bibles, korans and other religious books to school all the time and if they want to talk about them in an appropriate setting then fine, that’s part of education. I cant imagine where it would be appropriate for five year olds let alone any grade school age kiddo. Bible as Literature classes seem appropriate in a public school settings but not for a parent reading the bible to young kids. The school absolutely made the correct decision.

    The bible is not a children’s book for sure but there are some very interesting bits. I think an understanding of the bible is essential to have a full understanding of history and western literature of the past 2000 years. The bible has been used as an authoritative tome for the church and governments for two millennia and has had a substantial impact on world history. All the philosophers you may care to mention in the past three hundred years all had a fairly complete understanding o the bible and its teachings and much of what is called classical literature borrows heavily on biblical themes and arch types.

    One constant theme within the skeptical community is the apparent idiocy of Christians and the evident stupidity of the bible. Fair enough, some Christians are narrow minded and unthinking and most of the old testament is a xenophobic representation of a violent, misogynistic middle eastern tribal culture of the first millennia BCE. Conversely many great authors, play wrights and philosophers have been inspired by old testament literature and stories, the teachings of Jesus and the writings of the New Testaments. I would venture most Christians (excluding fundamentalists) would agree that much of the bible is metaphor and not to be taken literally.

  18. @SkepLit: It was just unfortunate that the normal centurion wasn’t on duty at Golgotha. Western civilization would have been sooooo different if that guy hadn’t mixed up the code for “Get me the fuck off this thing” with “Now get me with the spear!”

    Important safety tip for extreme group bondage, people. Meetings, meetings, meetings, and if you don’t know a guy, don’t assume he knows the drill.

  19. As someone who read the first 18 books of the bible in the 6th grade (couldn’t get through psalms), all of it in uni, and also Lolita, I found this video blog offering truly excellent.

    I also chose Leviticus 18 for my bible quoting needs from the age of 11 and onwards. Maybe _that’s_ why I was never popular at parties…

  20. @James Fox:

    Thanks for saying that. The bible has certainly been misused by many a preacher man (and woman), but it is a fascinating block of literaure, and it provides some amazing insight into history (literary and otherwise), in terms of narrative, metaphor, and so on.

    If one can get over one’s topical prejudices, and read it as a work of fiction and an example of literary styles, it’s endlessly interesting. As are such related things as Greek, Roman, Norse, et al, mythologies.

  21. There’s always Luke 19:27
    “But for those my enemies ,who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither and kill them before me.”

    But my favorite is Luke 14:26
    “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and yea, his very own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

    Sounds like a mission statement to me.

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