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Posts for December, 2011

Pink Bibles and six degrees of absurdity

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2011

I hate the Culture War. It wastes time, harms my communities, and makes enemies out of people who would otherwise be friends. And sometimes the consequences of prioritizing this nonsensical War results in decisions that are truly deeply wrong.

Take the latest action by the Southern Baptist Convention. In order to make sure that “evil” is punished, they are denying funds to breast cancer screening. Let me explain:

Evangelicals have an emotional attachment to the King James Version of the Bible. But as that translation was conducted between 1604 and 1609, it isn’t easy to read or understand. Yet, many conservative evangelicals have been suspicious that newer translations include changes to the meaning of scripture. And though these changes are often the result of the discovery of additional text sources or intensive research, they been seen by some as a tool for those who seek to corrupt or twist the meaning of scripture.

So as to prepare a more readable Bible, but one which could be trusted to be scripturally inerrant, the Southern Baptist Convention funded a new translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible. The goal of the inter-denomination team was “to convey a sense of the original text with as much clarity as possible”. The new Bible began rolling off the presses last year.

As part of a promotion, LifeWay Christian Resources (a seller of Bibles and other Christian books and paraphernalia) marketed a copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible bound in pink. And for every pink Bible sold, Lifeway contributed a dollar to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to be used for breast cancer screening and awareness.

That’s kinda cool. If you’re going to buy a Bible, why not help fight breast cancer at the same time?

But then the Culture War stepped in and the surrealism began. Because:

* The Southern Baptist Convention owns Lifeway Christian Resources
* Lifeway gave a dollar of each pink Bible sold to the Susan G. Komen Foundation
* Komen used the funds to screen women for breast cancer
* The screening was facilitated through local chapters
* Some of the local chapters contribute funds to Planned Parenthood specifically to be used for breast screening
* Planned Parenthood also performs abortions

Well, there you have it. As Susan Tyrrell of the Bound4Life blog put it, “The sign might as well read, ‘Buy a Bible and support abortion!’ ”

Whatever one might think about abortion, surely Planned Parenthood and the Southern Baptists can agree that breast cancer is a bad thing? No. They can’t. Because the Southern Baptist Convention is in a Culture War and right now they hate Planned Parenthood more than they hate breast cancer.

So LifeWay is canceling the program and “recalling” the Bibles. (Tennessean)

“Though we have assurances that Komen’s funds are used only for breast cancer screening and awareness, it is not in keeping with LifeWay’s core values to have even an indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood,” Rainer said in a statement.

And although Komen’s funding of specific Planned Parenthood programs paid for 139,000 breast exams and about 5,000 mammograms, detecting 177 cases of cancer in the past five years, the lives of those 177 women are immaterial. They are just collateral damage in a Culture War.