Bible Literalism ala The West Wing

June 8, 2007 at 12:27 am 30 comments

I remember watching this scene from West Wing when I still considered myself a Christian. At that time, it made an impact on me. I’ve been trying to find it after my de-conversion and recently discovered it on Null’s Tumblelog.

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Does God deserve the credit he gets? Tithing: The Church’s Greatest Lie?

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. brian t  |  June 8, 2007 at 3:02 am

    I remember this – the very first scene with Martin Sheen as President Bartlett, in the first episode of the first series. Aaron Sorkin, who wrote this, happily admits he based it on an email that was going round the ‘Net at the time, and tried to find the author to credit him or her.

  • 2. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 8, 2007 at 7:44 am

    Most excellent! Thank you. Spurred me to link to it on my site. :-)

  • 3. Agnostic  |  June 8, 2007 at 8:23 am

    And now, it still makes an impact. Took my breath away. Thanks for finding it and posting it.

  • 4. HeIsSailing  |  June 8, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Martin Sheen is cherry picking his verses! You have to look at the whole picture!

    He is quoting mostly from the Old Covenant. We are now under grace!

    You have to consider the audience to whom those passages were written to!

    The laws of Moses are a Divine Model of the depravity of man, and the prophetic redemption of Jesus Christ! You cannot be saved if you don’t know what sin is!

    Let’s see, cherry picking – check. Old Testament – check…. um … yup I think I have all the standard excuses covered. So, how else does the literate Bible reader justify the Scriptures as our Divinely Ordained standard of morality?

  • 5. Radec  |  June 8, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Brian, although it had a similar theme, I don’t think this was the first scene with Bartlett that you are referring to. If my memory serves, that scene had something to do with a conservative Christan group sending his daughter a doll with its head cut off because of something she said. The above scene is a few seasons into the series.
    Still an excellent clip though! I miss that series.

  • 6. agnosticatheist  |  June 8, 2007 at 9:44 am


    Don’t you know that there are methods of choosing with O.T. verses Christians should continue to follow and which ones they shouldn’t? I never quite figured it out since there’s really no logic behind it but I’m sure it’s there. My finite mind just cannot comprehend it. God ways are higher than my ways. :)

    To me you either throw the whole thing out or accept it all. If you use the N.T. as the guide, Acts 15 only lists a couple that should be continued. Of course, TITHING was NOT on that list but it somehow it survived the cut.

    I so wish Christians would just THINK for a second and be open to all the illogical ways they interpret their own holy book.


  • 7. Heather  |  June 8, 2007 at 9:47 am

    **You have to consider the audience to whom those passages were written to!** What I love about that logic is that if I have to look at the cultural context for the OT passages, shouldn’t I also do so for the NT passages as well? What makes the NT straightforward and the OT obsolete?

  • 8. Radec  |  June 8, 2007 at 10:04 am

    **Of course, TITHING was NOT on that list but it somehow it survived the cut.**

    Story time-about 6 years ago we had a deacon ask my wife and I about our “giving back to God” (Since he was the one in charge of collecting the contribution, my guess is he felt my check wasn’t as big as it should be). My wife and I at the time chose to give most of what we set aside to organizations outside of the church as we felt a greater percentage of our money was spent on people in need. I told the deacon this, and he told me he wasn’t sure “if that counted since it wasn’t given to the church”.

  • 9. agnosticatheist  |  June 8, 2007 at 10:08 am

    :) The whole tithing thing is such a sham.


  • 10. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 8, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Excellent point. Why are we viewing the Talmud as obsolete, but not the New Testament injunctions? Also, why is Adam’s curse relieved by Christ and Eve’s isn’t? No one has ever answered this question either.

  • 11. agnosticatheist  |  June 8, 2007 at 10:27 am


    There are soooooo many questions with no good answers. It’s a good thing that Christians are taught that to doubt is being double-minded and that they will be “unstable in all their ways.” Keeps them from asking too many questions that could set off the doubt-a-meter. After all, who wants to be “unstable?” Without these types of ‘control mechanisms’ in place, Christianity would be almost extinct by now.


  • 12. stellar1  |  June 8, 2007 at 11:21 am

    MOI said, “Also, why is Adam’s curse relieved by Christ and Eve’s isn’t? No one has ever answered this question either.”

    I just presumed that Eve’s curse was included and have been trying to teach women that they are no longer subjected to their husbands. :-)

  • 13. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 8, 2007 at 12:27 pm


    You see, that’s just it. Fundies SAY it’s included, but still presume she is under the curse by making her subordinate. Yet men are never reminded over and over that they listened to Eve (as if that’s literal and might that not have been a good thing?) and are therefore weak. It’s Ye Old Double Standard. Adam gets a free pass and headship for taking Eve’s word for it, but Eve is the mother of sin for taking the “serpent’s” word for it (and who put the serpent there????)

    Besides the whole story being a good allegory for Eve’s listening to the serpent (spiral) wisdom of Goddess, as she should have, rather than stupid rules about a garden and knowledge. Sheesh! :-)

  • 14. Pamela  |  June 8, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Sigh…I miss The West Wing…

  • 15. The West Wing « pam3la  |  June 8, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    […] Bible Literalism ala The West Wing […]

  • 16. tobeme  |  June 8, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Wow! I love this scene. It says so much!

    BTW – for those who said this is cherry pickin, I have yet to see a religious institutuion which does not cherry pick to meet their dogma needs.

  • 17. Joe  |  June 8, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I think cherry picking was exactly his point! She focused on the verse about homosexuality but disregarded all that he mentioned and more because they didn’t fit what she believed.

    His point was highlighting her cherry picking.

  • 18. stellar1  |  June 8, 2007 at 3:07 pm


    That is exactly why women are better off without christianity.

  • 19. Karen  |  June 9, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    It’s a good thing that Christians are taught that to doubt is being double-minded and that they will be “unstable in all their ways.” Keeps them from asking too many questions that could set off the doubt-a-meter. After all, who wants to be “unstable?” Without these types of ‘control mechanisms’ in place, Christianity would be almost extinct by now.

    Ain’t that the truth. Daniel Dennett talks a lot about the self-replicating meme of religion, and how control mechanisms greatly enhance its survival.

    Case in point: I went through a period of questioning religion in college, no doubt as I started learning something worthwhile beyond what I was taught in church.

    Instead of pursuing my questions, however, I got scared sh**less when I recognized that I was starting to DOUBT. There was such a strong taboo about doubt, and so much teaching that doubt came from satan, that I was really frightened that I was under satanic attack.

    I wound up rebuking satan, praying in tears, and eventually shoving all my (legitimate) questions ‘under the rug.’ For the next 15 years. After which they surfaced again and eventually led me to where I am now.

    Sometimes I wonder what would have happened in my life if I’d remained open to entertaining those doubts and pursuing those questions when so many decisions were still ahead of me. Sigh.

  • 20. Tyler  |  October 17, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Dan Kimball has also blogged on this video. See

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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