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In Orange County, Florida, public schools, a Christian group was allowed to hand out Bibles and other literature on Freedom of Religion Day, January 16. In response, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, FFRF, has applied for permission to hand out their own pamphlets, which question the truth of the Bible and call into question the divinity of Jesus.
So far, so good: if a public school allows religious groups to hand out materials to students, they are constitutionally prevented from picking and choosing what religious beliefs are allowed to be distributed. Ideally, there would be no religious group allowed to attempt to manipulate students on public property, since that’s the entire point of having a clear separation of church and state.
One of the pamphlets FFRF wants to hand out is called “An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible,” and it apparently highlights the not-family-friendly parts of the supposedly Good Book. Since it seems as though most Christians haven’t actually read the complete work they claim to abide by, this, too, is a valid point.
The cover of the X-Rated Book pamphlet shows a crude drawing of a personified Bible sexually assaulting or possibly raping a woman, thrusting his hand up her dress and letting his long tongue loll out his grinning mouth.
Come on, FFRF.
We can’t fight against the misogyny inherent in the Bible while simultaneously revelling in that misogyny, using the rape and abuse of women as a tawdry attention-getter. If you condemn the graphic representation of violence against women as a tool to sell an ideology, then you shouldn’t engage in those very behaviors to sell atheism or skepticism.
This is, essentially, the equivalent of an anti-gay protester who speaks endlessly and graphically about gay sex acts to the point where you wonder if he’s really anti-gay or if he’s just jealous that other people are having so much fun.
The cover of “An X-Rated Book” isn’t designed to attract the attention of people who actually care about the treatment of women. It’s designed to attract the attention of people who want to experience the shock and guilty pleasure of seeing a woman humiliated.
Considering that FFRF is run by out-and-proud feminists who I personally have a lot of respect for, I hope they can reevaluate their strategy here. Instead of relying on crude misogyny to get PR, I hope they can focus on tactics that don’t completely negate the message that many religions only see women as objects to be used to further the goals of men.