Florida tract wars: fighting fire with fire

Florida tract wars: fighting fire with fire

America’s  Freedom From Religion Foundation stands accused of ‘ramping up their proselytizing’ in Florida schools with a series of anti-religious tracts, including the ‘distasteful’ leaflet pictured above.

A report in the Examiner is couched in terms that makes clear that the author, Linsey Bald is appalled that the FFFR has:

Released a number of anti-Bible tracts that depict the Word of God as nothing more than an X-rated book that’s full of salacious accounts of immorality, violence and obscenity. The distasteful leaflet, which the group plans distribute to teenagers attending Florida schools, shows a picture of a tongue-wagging Bible getting an upskirt grope of a fleeing girl.

CNS News reported last month:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, is planning to hand out in several Florida public high schools a pamphlet that features an illustration on its cover depicting a humanized Bible sexually assaulting a young woman.

The FFRF describes their antidotes to to silly Bible tracts, like those produced by Chick Publications, as:

Non-tracts: the freethought answer to ubiquitous religious tracts.

The introductory panels in an anti-gay Chick tract

The introductory panels in an anti-gay Chick tract

The group, clucked Bald:

Has published a number of religious rebuking messages, including other offensive handbills with titles like ‘Confused? Bible Contradictions’, ‘Cookie Cutter Christs’, ‘Heathen’s Greetings’ – a discussion of pagan Christmas roots, and ‘What’s Wrong with the Ten Commandments?’.

Last year the FFRF had attempted to distribute their “non-tracts” to schools in the Orange County district, but were initially prevented from doing so after the board found the reading material and cover pictures “wholly inappropriate”.

While some tracts were allowed among the schools with 14- to 18–year-olds, An X-Rated Bible was not.

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said at the time.

This brochure may not be distributed … it will cause substantial disruption and is age-inappropriate. There is a picture on the cover of a Bible book given human features sticking its hand up the dress of a woman.

The FFRF responded with a lawsuit against the Orange County School Board, claiming that the “district had unlawfully discriminated against it and violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights” by prohibiting their tracts whilst allowed an evangelical Christian group to distribute Bibles.

The school board hastily withdrew the ban, and the case was dropped.

The now-permitted materials include a pamphlet that the district had previously prohibited. It argues that:

Jesus did not promote equality and social justice, was not compassionate, was not reliable and was not a good example.

Other FFRF “non-tracts” which discuss what the Bible says about abortion and “assert that God is hateful, arrogant, sexist and cruel”, will now be allowed. As will Robert Price’s Jesus Is Dead, which the district banned earlier because:

The claim that Jesus was not crucified or resurrected is age-inappropriate for the maturity levels of many of the students in high school.

The FFRF described this as:

An odd claim given that the district allowed the violence-filled Bible.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel, who worked closely on the case with litigating attorney Steven Brady, noted that the forum is now open to all comers.

Satanists can distribute their literature, Muslims can distribute the Quran and atheists can distribute books that criticize religion.

The Central Florida Freethought Community Leader David Williamson added:

We intend to give out a lot more literature to educate students about atheism and the importance of keeping religion out of public schools. We are even designing new materials specifically for students and families in Orange County.

The irony is that kids can get a Bible anywhere. It’s the country’s most widely available book. But where could a Christian kid get a copy of Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation so easily?

Seidel concluded:

I think the bottom line is, you can’t consider any of our materials obscene when compared to the Bible. They [the OCPS] cannot approve the Bible, which is full of all the things that are in the pamphlet, and then say that our materials are somehow obscene.

21 responses to “Florida tract wars: fighting fire with fire”

  1. Paul Cook says:

    I think this (‘licensed’ paraphrasing) sums it all up:

    “we put things from the Bible in the pamphlet, and then [these religious infants] say that our pamphlet is obscene”

  2. Broga says:

    This is an inspired tactic by FFRF: distribute quotations from the Bible. How can they be banned? How can they be wrong? They are biblical truths and the inerrant word of God. This tactic has a lot of mileage in it. I would like to see some of these quotes on the dire Thought for the Day.

    The religious must want the “good news” spread as widely as possible. Here are atheists helping them. Confront the religious with the words of their own holy book. It would be a shock for most of them who have been fed on the selective pap of the victors.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    Now they’re getting on the right tract.

    There is no better way to disabuse a bible believer than asking him to read the bible.

  4. Broga says:

    The way to become as atheist is to read the bible with care and objectivity. That means reading the bits the preachers want to keep hidden.

  5. barriejohn says:

    If you’re interested in obscenities (and contradictions, and inconsistencies, etc) in the Bible, this is the site to go to:

  6. barriejohn says:

    I love that Chick tract: the “gay priest” is happy at last because he’s been truly saved. Yeah, right, and we all know how realistic THAT little scenario is – especially those of us who were once evangelical Christians, and gay, and driven to the brink of suicide because of it. I knew Christians who gave out the silly things, but good luck to them again, as nothing is better designed to present Christians as swivel-eyed lunatics to any sane person. I wonder whether Betty Hutton distributes them? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Secularists (you know – the people who think that everyone should be free under the law to follow their own beliefs, ideas, lifestyles and so on) are “Nazis” now. Has the idiot EVER had an original thought?

  7. Rob Andrews says:

    Here’s another good website on the inconsistances and immorality of the bible.

    “Philosophy has questions that may never be answered; religion has answers that nay never be questioned”.

  8. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Bob Hutton! The only way to heaven is via Jesus – a man who never lived. Or at least the man portrayed in the frequently re written bible never lived. I read somewhere a while back – can’t remember where – that a scholarly examination of 100 plus accounts from the time of Jesus never mentioned him or his miracles.

    The one mention is now accepted by reputable biblical scholars, and I don’t think they include Mr Hutton, to be a later interpolation to provide evidence for what Christians have invented.

  9. L.Long says:

    I remember as a catlick that we were not to read the buyBull as it was too complicated and that the priest was there to read and interpret it for us.
    Or more directly don’t read the buyBull as you are too stupid to understand.
    Or more accurately Don’t read the buyBull carefully as only a psychotic person would believe the BS in it.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Rob Andrews: Steve Wells again!

    Broga: Are you referring to Josephus? The arguments as to whether SOME of what he allegedly said about Jesus was authentic (nobody believes that it all was) will run and run, but he was writing, again, around 60 years after Jesus was supposedly put to death. I rest my case!

  11. Barry Duke says:

    “I wonder whether Betty Hutton distributes them?”.

    Indeed he does (or did), BarrieJohn. Somewhere on his pathetic webshite he recently wrote: “I used to leave ‘chick books’ in the toilets.”

    I’m guessing these weren’t wank mags.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Ah, yes, I recall that now Barry. Many others have deposited Gospel tracts in lavatories too.

  13. Broga says:

    @L.Long: You can see why there was so much opposition when it was first translated into English. The manipulated plebs could read what was being said. Shame that so many didn’t take, and haven’t taken, that opportunity.

    I heard lots of bible stories at Sunday School. Loved them. Baby Jesus being born in a manger. The three wise men following the star (before I knew anything about astronomy). Him walking on water. And so much else. It all came tumbling down in my teens.

  14. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: That is the man: Josephus. Having read the link you sent he does seem a bit flaky.


  15. AgentCormac says:

    Personally, I think the cover of this leaflet is crass, ill-considered and utterly unhelpful. If we as a group of people are supposed to be claiming the moral and intellectual high ground, then surely the information we put out there, especially to young people, needs to be of a much, much higher caliber than this crap. We will not win the argument by being vulgar or sensationalist. That’s what our opponents do. We have to be better than this every single time. I’m afraid this, for me, just makes the job of making atheism credible even harder.

  16. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry, the following has nothing whatsoever to do with this thread – but it did make me and Mrs AgentCormac chuckle.

  17. @broga and @barriejohn The real killer for the Josephus passage is that no Christian knew about it until the fourth century, when Eusebius of Caesarea quoted it. Origen, more than a century earlier, says that Josephus failed to mention Jesus. Curiously, some have seen tell-tale signs of Eusebius’s writing style in that passage of Josephus that Origen managed to overlook. Odd, isn’t it? I’m sure that No True Christian such as Eusebius would ever stoop to forging a passage like that [/sarcasm].

  18. Marky Mark says:

    Excellent Idea !!! Need to spread these pamphlet everywhere the religious are pushing their babble book onto our youth.

  19. Newspaniard says:

    I don’t suppose that the FFRF would dare to produce similar tracts on the koran, their offices would be burned within a week and all staff members found dead. After all, the religion of peace doesn’t like its hate book being read and interpreted by infidels, the truth is too damaging.

  20. Broga says:

    @Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthew: Thanks for that. Interesting and informative for me.

  21. barriejohn says:

    There’s a whole bunch of people listed here who either didn’t notice that Josephus passage about Jesus Christ, or, if they did, somehow forgot to mention it:

    #Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), who obviously pored over Josephus’s works, makes no mention of the TF.
    #Theophilus (d. 180), Bishop of Antioch–no mention of the TF.
    #Irenaeus (c. 120/140-c. 200/203), saint and compiler of the New Testament, has not a word about the TF.
    #Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-211/215), influential Greek theologian and prolific Christian writer, head of the Alexandrian school, says nothing about the TF.
    #Origen (c. 185-c. 254), no mention of the TF and specifically states that Josephus did not believe Jesus was “the Christ.”
    #Hippolytus (c. 170-c. 235), saint and martyr, nothing about the TF.
    #The author of the ancient Syriac text, “History of Armenia,” refers to Josephus but not the TF.
    #Minucius Felix (d. c. 250), lawyer and Christian convert–no mention of the TF.
    #Anatolius (230-c. 270/280)–no mention of TF.
    #Chrysostom (c. 347-407), saint and Syrian prelate, not a word about the TF.
    #Methodius, saint of the 9th century–even at this late date there were apparently copies of Josephus without the TF, as Methodius makes no mention of it.
    #Photius (c. 820-891), Patriarch of Constantinople, not a word about the TF, again indicating copies of Josephus devoid of the passage, or, perhaps, a rejection of it because it was understood to be fraudulent.

    When I was a young Christian that passage was “proof” that Jesus existed and that what the Gospels said about him was, er…gospel truth!