Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

Years ago, Andrew Schlafly, the son of you-know-who, decided that Wikipedia was too liberal, and created Conservapedia, which…

strives to keep its articles concise, informative, family-friendly, and true to the facts, which often back up conservative ideas more than liberal ones. Rather than claim a neutral point of view and then insert bias, Conservapedia is clear that it seeks to give due credit to conservatism and Christianity. Schlafly said in regard to the point of view issue, "It's impossible for an encyclopedia to be neutral. I mean let's take a point of view, let's disclose that point of view to the reader.

Newbible I've written about Conservapedia before — it's a source of endless amusement.

So what is Schlafly and the crew up to now?

Believe it or not, they are creating a conservative Bible:

The Conservative Bible Project is leading the charge to deliberalize the Bible by using a Wikipedia-like Web site to correct what it calls "errors in conveying biblical meaning."

Those errors are a "lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ," "lack of precision in modern language" and "translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one."

On its Web site -  which is emblazoned with an Old Glory logo above the words "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia" – the group is seeking to create a fully conservative translation of the Bible that follows 10 commandments, er, guidelines.

Those guidelines include "a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias;" not "dumbing down" the Bible; not emasculating the Bible, that is, not using "gender inclusive" language, and not downplaying the "very real existence of Hell or the Devil." But do, the Web site says, "utilize powerful conservative terms."

Yup.  The Bible, according to these nutjobs, kind of lacks that conservative bent.  How extremely inconvenient.

So they've pooled their considerable talents to re-translate the Bible.

They've set out ten guidelines for doing this:

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

Basically, they are starting with the King James Version and working from that, verse by verse, to say what they think it should.

Of course, in doing so, they are tacitly admitting that the so-called "undeniable Word of God" is subject to interpretation (and now, they're spinning their own interpretation), something which plays well into the hands of atheists and agnostics.

Moreover, they are explicitly rejecting the current versions of the Bible as being "liberal" (or else — why would they be doing this?).  This might come as news to the religious right.

Rod Dreher over at looked at the above ten guidelines and quipped:

"The liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio"? Hoo-wee! Elitists like to use words, and lots of 'em! "Unnecessary ambiguities"? But how are you going to abide by the conservative mandate to avoid "dumbing down" Holy Writ while at the same time avoiding big words liberals use?

More seriously, the insane hubris of this really staggers the mind. These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture? They really think it's wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism? These jokers don't worship God. They worship ideology.

I wandered over to the actual Conservative Bible Project to see how it's going.  It's only been a few days — not much "translation" has been done.  But despite their "guideline" not to "dumb down" the "reading level", that much is clearly going on.  For example, take the KJV version of Mark 3:7:

But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea

I understand what that means.  But they've clearly dumbed it down to reach a lower reading level.  Now, under the Conservative Bible, it reads:

Jesus then departed for the quiet of a lake, but crowds from Galilee and Judaea followed him

… complete with an explanatory annotation that "'lake' is better than 'sea'".  I'm not sure why (is "lake" too "liberal" or one is it of those "elitist" words?) – but there it is.

I have no objection to making the Bible more accessible to modern reader — in fact, this has been done before.  But don't say you're going to dumb it down, and then go ahead and dumb it down.

Other than that, I confess to being a little disappointed.  There wasn't much about the "Conservative Bible" that struck me as being, well, conservative.

And then I found this, also in their translation of Mark Chapter 3 (my ephmasis added):

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. Jesus returned to the synagogue, and noticed man with a crippled hand.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. The Liberals watched Jesus to see if they might catch and accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. Tentatively using "Elite" rather than "Pharisees" or skeptical "teachers" for more modern accessability. See talk. – "Self proclaimed elite" = "liberals", fits modern terminology, see talk.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. Jesus told the man with the crippled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. Jesus asked the Liberals, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: doing good or evil? Saving a life, or killing one?" The Liberals did not answer.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. Jesus looked at them, feeling anger and pity for the hardness of their hearts, and said to the injured man, "Open your hand." He then opened and held out his hand, and it was as good as new.
6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. The Liberals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod's people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy him.

Well, it's a work-in-progress.  We'll see if that language sticks.

But this first attempt is revealing.  The Pharisees were actual people, a historical fact, an actual sect of Judaism.  They're not represented well in the Bible (the more accepted versions), because — well, to be blunt — the Pharisees (being Jewish) didn't proscribe to Christianity when the Bible was written.  But could they be described truthfully as "liberals" in the modern sense of the word?  Hardly. 

Nevertheless, you can see the thinking process already at work in the "Conservative Bible" translation, i.e., Pharisees were "bad", liberals are "bad" — therefore, why not exchange one word for the other, even if it dilutes historical fact?

While we're at it, boys, let's just make the Romans "liberals", too.  Then we can have Holy Writ which explicitly says that the Liberals crucified Christ.  Why not?