“Lemme guess…don’t tell me.” I implored, ”JW’s right?”
”Yes, how did you know?”
”Because the Mormons usually wear short sleeve white shirts, black ties and no jackets…and only travel in twos or threes. You seem to have the whole congregation with you.” He smiled broadly.
He began to sweat, and mopped his brow with his free hand. In the other he held copies of their Watch Tower publication, the Bible, and another pamphlet. I offered him and his hoard a cold drink and use of the bathroom. He declined graciously on their behalf.
”If you read the Bible you know it has all the answers.” He offered. “I didn’t fully understand God until I read the Bible.” I explained that having read the bible only reinforced my dismissal of god as fable and myth, and the original writers as misogynistic, blood thirsty, Bronze Age and first century C.E. cultists. He looked perplexed.
”If the bible has all the answers then you should be able to answer this: Why did god command a woman’s hand be chopped off, and for her to be shown no mercy, for coming to the aid of her husband and grabbing the genitals of her husband’s attacker?”
He had zero idea what I was talking about.
“Deuteronomy 25, I think. That’s the Old Testament” I offered snarkishly. “And please, no ‘CONTEXT’ reply, since I’ve yet to hear anyone give me the context in which god comes off looking good, kind, loving and merciful for demanding a ‘hand sandwich’ for a grope.”
He thumbed feverishly to find the verse. While he searched I asked how is it if god has all the answers that there are 30,000 Christian sects and denominations who perceive the so called answers differently, as well as the questions? Why couldn’t his god been more specific?
And how is it god forgot to out law slavery, and instead established rules for when a master can beat a slave? And why no prohibition against pedophilia?
He was digging for his glasses now, fumbling with his bible. “Well, we don’t go by the Old Testament anyway…Jesus established a New Covenant replacing the old.”
”Oh, so what’s your position on gay rights and gay marriage?” I queried.
”Well, we are obviously opposed to it, since it is an abomination to God.”
”But, that’s the OLD Testament, the OLD Covenant” I reminded him, “Jesus established a New Covenant. So unless you are keeping Kosher, and stoning your unruly child, are you saying you are cherry picking what parts of the ‘old covenant’ you will keep as god’s law and what parts you’ll disregard?”
This is where he asked me what I meant by “kosher.” I patiently explained about pork, shell fish, and other food sources that the Old Testament prohibits. He nodded as though he had heard of this but had briefly forgotten.
”Well…no, we don’t pick and choose. But being against gay marriage is just common sense be sides, it’s in the New Testament. There are rules against homosexuality there as well.”
”Ah…but any reference against homosexuality in the New Testament would have been by Paul. I thought you followed the word of Jehovah, and his son Jesus Christ…not Paul as an intermediary, who never even met Jesus. You’re not Paulists are you?”
”No, no, not at all! But I’m sure Jesus said something about homosexuality.” he offered feebly. He started leafing through the Bible again, abandoning the Deuteronomy amputation clause research. Things were obviously not going according to his plan and script. He was frazzled.
”Tell you what. If you find where Jesus specifically speaks against homosexuality… against man lying with man, or woman with woman; I’ll become a JW.”
I could have sworn at that instant the guy was having a vision of heaven, or was hearing a heavenly choir, or experiencing religious ecstasy. He positively lit up. He asked for my email and said he’d find and send the chapter and verse to me. He extended his hand as if he was about to make a deal with the Devil which he figured was at worst a no lose situation. That’s when I hit him with the down side clause:
”Naturally… if you can’t find Jesus’ personal admonishment against homosexuality, you’re going to give up your faith and become an atheist. Right?” He withdrew his hand, with a sheepish smile and quickly opted out of the bet.
As we said our goodbyes, the group asked where the camels were, referring to the Camel Ranch sign at the top of the driveway . I explained we’re between camels right now…well… except for me. “I’m known as the Atheist Camel. You can find me on Google.” They smiled and chuckled softly, then drove down the drive way to their next…hopefully less educated … potential convert.