While the Christian Bible is used by hundreds of millions of people across the planet for peace and love, it has been used to justify some of the most horrific injustices committed against some of the weakest people in society. Even though the people using the Bible in this manner represent a minority of believers, those who succeeded in such a practice are responsible for some of the worst atrocities ever committed.
10 Child Abuse
Most people agree that abusing a child through neglect, emotional abuse, or physical harm is a terrible thing to do, but according to some passages in the Bible, it’s necessary to properly raise a kid. Various passages have been interpreted to support child rearing over the years, but one in particular, Proverbs 13:24, has been used by various people to implement the harshest types of abuse against children.
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
The people guilty of human rights abuses who follow this passage are Biblical literalists who beat, malnourish, and torture children to break their will. Hana Williams was adopted by two Evangelical Biblical literalists who starved, beat, and ultimately killed her after they locked her outside, where she succumbed to hypothermia, in 2011.
Torture is nothing new, and it has been used by pretty much every civilization on the planet for one reason or another. During the Spanish Inquisition, torture was regularly used by the Catholic Church to identify heretics and also to forcibly convert Jews and Muslims to Catholicism or leave the country. What resulted was the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people who were tortured and confined, leading to an estimated 32,000 executions.
Modern uses of torture are rarely justified using the Bible or Christian practices used centuries ago. The most recent example would be the United States’ waterboarding of prisoners during the Bush administration following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. While not directly linked, President Bush mentioned in a speech that the United States was engaged in a “crusade” against Islam. Because the US is considered by many to be a Christian nation, his statements reignited images of the historical Crusades, which led many to question his motives as possibly being motivated by his faith.
Most Western societies have abolished child marriage, but it sadly continues in various countries around the world. The practice is justified in Numbers 31:18, which reads:
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the female children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Child marriage was common throughout history for a number of reasons, but primarily, women would be wed as soon as they could bear children. As society evolved around modern medicine, it was no longer necessary to marry children so young. Unfortunately, it seems many people didn’t get the memo, and the age of consent in many states and countries is still relatively low. In Andorra, Albania, and Austria, the age of consent is only 14, while some states in Mexico set the limit at 12.
Marriage laws in the United States vary, but young girls are often pressured into marriage should they become pregnant in certain Christian communities. This can occur legally with children as young as 12 years of age.
Faith healing isn’t inherently an evil practice, and there are millions of people who rely on it. It becomes a serious concern for law enforcement and the general welfare of human rights when it is used to treat children who have no choice in the matter. For example, when parents decide to treat an infection through prayer, they forego the necessary antibiotics which would normally eradicate the disease. This can result in an incredibly painful—and, more importantly, preventable—death.
The practice of faith healing is justified in both the Old and New Testament. In various passages, Jesus credits healing someone through their faith in God, which many have interpreted as a path to wellness. Most deaths attributed to faith healing were preventable via modern medicine, and many parents have lost their remaining children and been imprisoned as a result of the death of a child. In 2017, a couple lost their two-year-old daughter to “God’s will” after they refused to take her in for treatment of pneumonia.Both parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.
Photo credit: Supplierty
If you live in the United States and other Western countries, you may have noticed a growth in LGBTQ+ acceptance over the past 30 or so years. While acceptance has grown, the pressure from the other side has equally intensified. Ironically, most people who oppose legislation supporting gay marriage and other aspects of equal rights insist they don’t have a problem with gay people themselves. This cognitive dissonance results from an adherence to a specific Biblical passage found in 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.
This has led Evangelical Christians and other fringe groups to “love the sinner, hate the sin,” which has evolved into an outright anti-gay agenda. In the United States, a 2018 Supreme Court decision favored a Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. The court favored his “religious freedom” rights over the anti-discriminatory rights of the couple. The baker and many others have cited Leviticus 20:13 as their reason to withhold services or support for LGBTQ+ people.
Photo credit: Thom Carroll/Philly Voice
A fundamental, sacred aspect of a funeral service is that it is a somber occasion. In most cases, a procession makes its way to a cemetery after a service and quietly buries a loved one. When it comes to a military funeral in the United States, this is accompanied by a respectful ceremony involving the folding of a flag, presenting it to the deceased loved ones, and the playing of “Taps.” It’s respectful and dignified, which is why the protests put on by the Westboro Baptist Church fall into the category of a human rights abuse, requiring their placement on this list.
The church, which is unaffiliated with any formalized religious body, began protesting military funerals in 2005, bearing signs reading “GOD HATES FAGS” and “GOD LOVES A DEAD SOLDIER,” among other inflammatory statements. The church opposes homosexuality, Muslims, Jews, Romani people, the US government, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and pretty much anyone who isn’t a member of their group. They use numerous Bible passages to justify their actions, and they have caused a great deal of hurt and suffering to the bereaved.