Friday, August 14, 2015

Spot the difference: Swiss Catholic bishop and ISIS

The Swissinfo news service reported on Thursday that Vitus Huonder, the Catholic bishop of Chur, the capital of the Swiss canton, Graub√ľnden, has apologised if anyone "felt hurt" when he quoted a Bible verse calling for homosexuals to be put to death, but he says he stands by his literal reading of the Bible.

In his 50-minute address on marriage at a forum in Germany on August 2, Huonder quoted two verses from the book of Leviticus, including Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

In response to applause, he continued: “Both of these passages alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the church’s position on homosexuality.”

Three generations ago, the antecedents of the Germans in the audience who applauded, applied Leviticus to homosexuals in Germany.

“Both passages are in the Bible — they are the word of God and must be taken seriously — but they must be interpreted and placed in a modern context,” Huonder later told a Swiss newspaper. 

Huonder's meaningless apology and lame clarification are likely related to a criminal investigation.

Also on Thursday, The New York Times published a report, ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape, detailing how the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group uses the Quran to justify sex slavery, including children, in "conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool."

Religions do have a problem as beliefs are not based on evidence and some adherents inevitably follow the literal words that have been passed down from primitive times.

William Shakespeare's 1595 play 'The Merchant of Venice' contains the famous lines: "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose/ An evil soul producing holy witness/ Is like a villain with a smiling cheek."

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), the Irish-born playwright, author and co-founder of the London School of Economics in 1895, expressed a similar sentiment:

“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means” — The Quintessence of G.B.S.: The Wit and Wisdom of Bernard Shaw (Creative Age Press, 1949), p. 257