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The Washington Post deserves praise for being one of the few national newspapers that attempts to take religion (somewhat) seriously. They have an excellent religion reporter (Michelle Boorstein) and a forum—“ On Faith ”—dedicated to “news and opinion on religion and politics” (because what is religion without politics, right?).

But chances are that you’ve never taken note of the On Faith section, though, because . . . well, because the articles are rarely noteworthy. I’ve lost all faith in their editors ability to find consistently interesting and thoughtful columnists (they exist, but they are rare).

A prime example is the juvenile screed by Paula Kirby , a “consultant to secular organizations.” Kirby writes about all the ways Christianity—and especially the Old and New Testaments—represses women. Not surprisingly, like many atheist critics of scripture, Kirby doesn’t seem to have actually read much of the Bible.

For example, she says, “Jezebel . . . has become synonymous with sexual excess, despite this not being among the vices attributed to her in the bible story.” 1 Kings 16:31 notes that Jezebel incited Jeroboam to worship Baal, a practice that included such “sexual excesses” as sacred prostitution. That is why the second chapter of Revelation says:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.

Kirby also claims that the New Testament says that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. It does not. That mistaken view began in the sixth century but has largely been abandoned by Biblical scholars since it has no scriptural warrant.

The biggest howler, though, is Kirby’s claim that “The New Testament is woefully short of significant female characters, and a brief look at those who do make it to the hall of fame will suffice to tell us exactly how they were perceived.” Considering how women were viewed in the first century, it is amazing that there are so many influential female characters to be found in the New Testament. There’s Anna (a prophet), Susanna (accompanied and financed Jesus’ ministry), Tabitha (a disciple), Lydia, Euodia, and Syntyche (leaders of the church at Philippi), Phoebe (a leader in the church at Cenchra) . . . the list goes on and on.

As for Kirby’s comments on Paul, I’d recommend she read Sarah Ruden’s Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time to get a better grasp of how “progressive” the Apostle was in his view of women.

In fact, I’d recommend that if she wants to be taken seriously, Kirby should do some sort of research (any at all) before she writes in a national publication about a subject she clearly knows nothing about. And if the Post wants the “On Faith” to be taken seriously, they should be a bit more discerning about who they let write for that section.

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