The Gospel According to Julia Sweeney

June 4, 2016

Julia Sweeney was one of the first visible celebrities who I became aware of who made nonbelief, well, normal. She was among the first I knew of to discuss the difficult transition from religion to atheism in a way that the mainstream public could feel for. I think our movement owes her a lot.

So leave it to Julia Sweeney, sweet, funny, delightful Julia Sweeney, to point out what a bloodthirsty monster Jesus is.

Okay that’s not all she did, but she did make a point of highlighting some of the savior’s more violent and misogynistic tendencies, from parables she called “foggy,” “meaningless,” and “offensive.” There was stuff about putting people to the sword, and the galling stuff about “I must not permit a woman to teach,” and if she must know something, “let her ask her husband at home.”

“That’s ‘the good news,’” she hissed.

Yet Sweeney was able to understand why some ostensibly secular people were less than ready to leave their religious traditions, for the community and comfort of them. “I actually sort of get that,” she said, but also noted that those more or less secular religious believers then get to be claimed by these religions as fully-invested and believing members. The secular, she tells us, we “freethinking individuals, free from superstition,” need to make themselves known.