Here's an interesting item. Bradley Fowler, a gay man, is suing two Bible publishers for mistranslating the Bible and causing him "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."
The lawsuits also blames the publishers for causing "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence... including murder."
It's interesting that one would think of using the law this way. It's not too hard to make a connection between the way the Bible's been translated/interpreted and violence against LGBT people.
I'm going to guess that this case will be dismissed pretty soon considering everything (Fowler has no lawyer, he's suing Bible publishers for specific damages, etc.), but I hope that he doesn't get dismissed as a kook, as would be first impulse. Bradley Fowler has been working for a long time in AIDS and gay advocacy, and there is definitely a point to what he's arguing: the Bible has been misused to hurt LGBT people, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
From his site (link via JMG):
In 1964, the scripture found in 1 Corinthians Six, verse Nine read as followed:
Know ye not that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminates, nor abusers of themselves with mankind...
In 1982, the same scripture read like this:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexuals...
In 1987, the same scripture read as followed:
Do you not know that the unrightoues and the wrong doers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be decieved(misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexual behavior...
But the 1994 editioin reads like this:
Know ye not that he unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulteres, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind...
Which one of these is truth? Which one is not?
He later remarks that the problem for him is the oscillation between "effeminate" and "homosexual." I don't agree that one is particularly worse than the other, but it does show the emptiness of textual fundamentalism.
The Religious Right is already on this one saying that it'll hurt freedom of religion to have to translate the Bible a certain way, but, frankly, I'm having a hard time seeing their argument here. It's probably because, as a radical homosexual, I've always had a problem with the concept of freedom of religion overriding other rights, especially since it gets used as a tool by the state to designate which religions are real and which ones aren't.
Take, for example, the story of the Indian boy who was told to cut off his braids to attend school. When his mother said that he can't because of his religion, the school wanted written proof that it was part of his religious beliefs, even though their tradition was oral.
On the other hand, there was the man who was charged with possession of marijuana who was a card-carrying member of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry. The Hawaii Supreme Court found that freedom of religion did not allow him to smoke pot. So I guess written on paper isn't enough.
Fundies have used the idea of freedom of religion so cynically, at one moment arguing that their freedom of religion is being violated because they can proselytize in schools and the next arguing that Muslims shouldn't be allowed to express their religious beliefs, and legal entities have defined it around various corners so much that it makes me wonder if anyone outside of fundamentalist Christianity is entitled to freedom of religion as a trump card to avoid even being sued for the obvious results of their actions.
They can argue all they want that they can misinterpret the Bible to hurt others and it's protected by the First Amendment, and they'll probably win, but consider this winning argument from the prosecution in the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry case:
"The law prohibiting possession of marijuana ... applies to everyone," similar to traffic laws, said prosecuting attorney Janet Garcia. "Otherwise, you could have someone who says, 'My religious belief is that I shouldn't have to stop at a stop sign."'
Or we can have someone who says, "My religious belief is that I need to preach and disseminate the idea that gays needs to be stoned, are evil, and are hated by God."
That sort of Bible interpretation has results, and whether a religion is worth respecting or not is something that the government shouldn't be involved in. And when Janet Garcia can credibly argue that freedom of religion doesn't let anyone off the hook unless there's a statutorily created exemption, it seems like that's the distinction the courts have to make.
Oh, well. This case was at least an interesting thought.