Dan Savage Says Bible is Pro-Slavery, Right Goes Ballistic

The anti-bullying activist Dan Savage (‘It Gets Better’) is the subject of massive right-wing media criticism because he called those who use the Bible to denounce gays “hypocrites.”

He gave a speech two weeks ago, which you can watch part of below, about bullying to the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention. The convention was ironically titled “Journalism On The Edge.”

In the speech, Savage correctly pointed out how the Bible is used as a reason for bullying of LGBT kids in schools — which, as part of the right-wing evangelical Christian pushback against the fight against anti-gay bullying, some states plan to protect as ‘religious free speech.’

He explained how the Bible was used to justify slavery in exactly the same way, yet this caused some of the prospective journalists to clutch their pearls and walk out.

“Then he started going off about the Bible,” one said. “He said somehow the Bible was pro-slavery. Iím really shy. Iím not really someone to, like, stir up anything. But all of a sudden I just blurted out, ĎThatís bull!í”

Those comments were in an April 18 report — which characterizes the ‘It Gets Better Project‘ as ‘encouraging teens struggling with same-sex attractions to embrace homosexuality’ — and were picked up over the weekend by a Fox News website, then the Drudge Report and are now echoing around the echo chamber, the subject of nine front-page articles at Breitbart.com. The themes being ‘Savage Attacks Christians’ and ‘Advocate Becomes Bully.’

Here’s some of what Savage actually said:

The Bible. We’ll just talk about the Bible for a second. People often point out that they can’t help it — they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.

We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn’t say “Christians don’t own people.” Paul talks about how Christians own people.

We ignore what the Bible says about slavery, because the Bible got slavery wrong. Tim — uh, Sam Harris, in A Letter To A Christian Nation, points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong. Slavery. What’re the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? One hundred percent.

The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night — if a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. Callista Gingrich lives. And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days.

People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality.

Um, one other thing I wanna talk about is — [chuckles] — so, you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back now, because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.

I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings. But. I have a right to defend myself. And to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible, and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.

Savage has apologized for the “pansy-assed” remark. But he is not withdrawing his critique of Biblical literalism as an excuse for anti-gay bullying and bigotry. The exact same critique made by many Christians including, in this classic clip, by President Bartlett to a demagogic preacher in The West Wing.

Watch a section of Savage’s remarks:

One has to wonder how these supposed journalists are going to survive out in the big, bad world without having constant fainting fits if they cannot stand to hear the word ‘bullshit,’ never mind have their beliefs criticized.

The National Scholastic Press Association said:

Some audience members who felt hurt by his words and tone decided to leave in the middle of his speech, and to this, we want to make our point very clear: While as a journalist itís important to be able to listen to speech that offends you, these students and advisers had simply reached their tolerance level for what they were willing to hear.

Related stories:

Louisiana Upholds the Right to Bully Gays in School

Bullied Gay Iowa Teen Committed Suicide After Alleged Death Threats

ĎDonít Say Gayí One Step Closer in Tennessee


Photo credit: screengrab of audience reaction from trailer for Paranormal Activity

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Huber F.
Huber F.3 years ago

Thought the more you save someone the better you become at serving a flock..

Don H.
Don H.3 years ago

Ron G said:

"Blah blah blah blah"

Michael G.
Michael T.3 years ago

@Ron coughs god means nothing to many people and do not see the connection between themselves and him.

Thankfully people are wise enough to refuse to see this.

@Ron tries again But they are connected and are accountable.


@Ron blows They are simply reinforcing what I have written here.

Only you are reinforcing what you are writing here.

@Ron missed it again completely in trying to redicule what the buybull says.

I have repeatedly told you Ron that the word is spelled RIDICULE not redicule.

Michael G.
Michael T.3 years ago

@Ron belches The heart of man is decietful above all things and desperately wicked.

Yes Ron they are talking about you and your heart.

Michael G.
Michael T.3 years ago


Ron Grubner
Ron Grubner3 years ago

In Rome.many of the population were slaves and many of those were Gods " chosen" people...the Jews. They were treated as just that...real slaves and were martyerd because they refused to bow down to the emperor.But even the Romans often treated their slaves well and valued them.Many also earned their freedom by serving their masters who rewarded them with freedom.Often it was the only way for many to live a better life.And then there were those who wanted to stay as slaves or servants.It is easy to see the reference of slavery in the Bible and viewing it from todays perspective....unless of course God means nothing .
Well,child abuse is extremely anti-God.Even though you don't want free-will and choice mentioned,it is precisely that when people commit crimes ( sin).They don't have to do it but choose to believing they will get away with it and simply don't care.God means nothing to many people and do not see the connection between themselves and Him.But they are connected and are accountable.I don't care what Michael and others write about me here.They are simply reinforcing what I have written here.They are simply exercising free-will and choose to express their hatred of God just as is Dan Savage' purpose in trying to redicule what the Bible says.There is no other reason for it and so choose their own eternity as we all do.

Ron Grubner
Ron Grubner3 years ago

" The heart of man is decietful above all things and desperatelywicked. Who can know it ?" Thy prophet Jeremiah noted that even back in those times.We cannot know all that another thinks for ALL our thoughts and actions come from the heart.But are we aware that God knows ? He created us as His greatest creation.He could move in and stop anything at any time but He won't because it would defeat His purpose...that we should choose Him over all else.Most don't and their thoughts deeds and actions often prove it.How would we re-act if the we were directly confronted with the One who created the whole universe? Where would our choice be then? The Bible says that no one has seen God and lived meaning that our humaness would not be abe to stand it.None in the old testament saw Him as He appeared as a burning bush or a cloud or lightening or a voice of thunder etc.
Homosexuality is a hot topic and is directly against what God says.Aborton is another and both are against who we ourselves are.We ALL have the same origins and both defile that for God is part of it .To abort a fetus is to murder the unborn .Homosexualty is against why we are created as male an female.Some things are not about choice but about defying the Creator .And slavery?Slavery was the custom of much of the times and civilisations.It was NOT that God condoned it because He says no man can own another.Many slaves were actually better off but they were the ones who were treated as servants.

Ron Grubner
Ron Grubner3 years ago

The Israelites wee given the task to spread God's purpose and reasons and standards etc. throughout the world.They failed at it.That standard was the reason the laws were given...to how people that humanity falls far short of what it means to live according to a sinless life.Even now we cannot live a day without breaking the law.To understand and know God and our relatonship with Him is essential to understanding His purpose.The Israelites were equired to offer continual sacrifices to God to show atonement for those sins.And His plan was to introduce just a single perfect sacrifice for once and for all.He did that when Jesus was crucified a few thousand years later.
I cannot answer your concerns unless I give some detail.You are horrified as most peple are by the child abuse mentioned .In fact it just shows how far people will go when they consider themselves ss unaccountable to anyone ( if they don't get caught).They don't believe in God and don't accept that He WILL hold them accountable.Don't be decievd that He won't and their penaty is to be paid for sure.We don't seem to be able to use the law ourselves justifiably and many get away with their crimes but eternity is forever and so are we and above all...God.

Ron Grubner
Ron Grubner3 years ago

Pat..I waited to see if any others would answer your questions rather than hear what i know of
God for it is good to get others views s well.You asked and also pointed out opinions and questions which are obviously close to your heart.You also said at one stage you were agnostic but now are atheist so obviously you never got the answers you required.But the one of child abuse is one which is close to the heart of many and rightly so.As you know,there are many things which show the depraved state of humanity and the rape and murder of a child is close to the top.Even other hardened criminals are abhored by it.Children often become the target of depravity right from the unborn to teenage .You may not agree with what I say but Iexpress it the way God demands.You mentioned particularly Leviticus which is often quoted to show God's demands on sex for example.Leviticus is a special book written probably Moses because it contains many laws and principles God handed down through Moses to the new nation of Israel...just after the 10 Commandments were given on Mount Sainai.It is the period when laws of all kinds were recorded from ceremonial to civil to moral.It is also neccessary to understand something of history of the times,the culture,how they lived,what they understood and that they were being led to the new land of Canaan. I feel it is neccessary to point this out because God was introducing Himself and His purpose for mankind to be expressed through the Israelies who were giv

Matt L.3 years ago

At best, the Bible may be neutral on slavery, but telling slaves they should be obedient to even their "harsh" masters seems difficult to justify. Telling masters to immediately release all their slaves, and pay them back wages would have given it some moral credibility at least.

Lol Micheal, yeah a few accurate predictions or scientific knowledge that nobody knew at the time would go along way to providing some plausible evidence of God. Nukes would not be too hard to describe for example, even with the language of the time.