Happy Easter, bloody Easter

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade…

On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, photographers will snap us
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure…”

Irving Berlin

“They tried to nail him down, but he got away.”

Marquee outside church in Massachusetts

Well, it’s that day again, and our Greek Orthodox friends, as well as our Roman Catholic brethren and sistren, are celebrating the most bizarre and barbaric events, the darkest, ghastliest nook of their religion: Easter.

Easter, dating back to a 3,000-year-old pagan spring ritual, is now about blood, suffering, sacrifice, more blood and suffering, and — what people come to church for: religion’s heroin and cocaine — the defiance of death.

It is perhaps the most excruciating of ironies that “Easter Parade” was written by a Russian Jew. Berlin’s lyrics describe Happy Easter – smiling kids, new clothes, chocolate bunnies, egg hunts, everything at Walgreens is pink, white, purple, or yellow. My neighbor has a giant inflatable pink bunny on his front lawn.

As a child, I helped my parents assemble Easter baskets for the Gentile customers of our drug store. And I supposed they would all go to church, marvel at the Resurrection, and have massive brunches, with lots of ham.

Spring is here and it’s a happy time of year.

Bloody Easter

But not for all of us. To a Jewish humanist, Easter is when Christians engage in some of their creepiest, ghastliest, most gruesome beliefs and practices. It’s when they get in touch with their inner Mel Gibson. The color of this Easter is red, as in blood.

First there is the communion ritual, which is primitive and barbaric in the extreme. I refer to transubstantiation, the consumption of the body and blood of Christ, a practice engaged in by Jesus at the Last Supper.

Whoa! Don’t they know they’re practicing an ancient form of tribal cannibalism? Just read The Clan of the Cave Bear for a description of the primitive practice of killing and eating the god/totem (in this case, a bear).

Actual cannibalism persists to this very day. I find it astonishing that so many supposedly sophisticated people solemnly carry it out in symbolic form.

More blood

Then there’s the persecution. Easter was generally an awful time for Jews, as Christians used Jesus’ (probably fabricated) story as an excuse to indulge their worst impulses. I once read that in Charlemagne’s time, one was supposed to seek out a Jew and box his ears, thereby perhaps causing permanent hearing damage.

And there was much worse. Tortures, crucifixions, burnings…truly, much of the blood of Easter is Jewish.

More blood

One of the main reasons all this Jewish blood was shed was blood itself: for centuries, Christians tortured and massacred Jews because of the unspeakable “blood libel:” the lie that Jews used the blood of Christian children for one ritual purpose or another, typically to make the Passover matzo. For more on this lie and the untold misery that it caused, go to

I think the tragedy of the blood libel is both ironic and hypocritical, since it’s the communion-taking Christians who are the ones drinking blood!

More blood

Besides the blood libel, what are Christians so enraged about? The answer is right in front of us: the passion of the Christ. After centuries of passion plays, Mel Gibson has topped them all with a truly hideous rendition of a — I repeat, probably made-up — story.

Christians should know — but most don’t — that the story of Jesus is far from unique. Many ancient Near Eastern demi-gods were sacrificed and resurrected, but only one of them got to be at the center of a world religion. If instead the cult of Mithra had somehow taken over, people would probably still be celebrating the Resurrection, because it was the same story line!

I had resolved that I would not see Gibson’s movie, and I have not. But it was a significant part of Brian Fleming’s brilliant documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There.”

Christian porno

If there is such a thing as Christian pornography, this is it.

The similarities are remarkable. Just as with sexual porn (but unlike most legitimate movies), the title tells you exactly what you are going to see. Like porn, this movie is intended to arouse a specific base emotion, and, like porn, with its explicit focus on throbbing genitals, it pursues that purpose with relentless intensity. Like porn, it is a non-story where only one thing happens.

In his doc, Fleming rapidly goes through the movie at accelerated speed, with scrolling words that, minute by minute, describe each gory shot and act of violence. The scrolling words are superimposed on snippets from the movie.

As with porn, the first few minutes are quiet, but then the movie really gets down to business. Fleming notes the close-up of a nail being driven into Jesus’ hand — and resulting blood-spurt. He points out the care that Gibson must’ve taken to arrange such a “money shot” (my term) and create that spurt. No effort was spared to give us a close-up of 90 minutes of sadism and suffering.

And its effect must be only to inflame the most primitive parts of Christians’ brains, to the good of no one and the detriment of many.

Happy Easter, bloody Easter

Happy Easter, bloody Easter. Lilies spattered with the blood of those killed in the name of a man who supposedly preached peace and nonviolence — and who perhaps didn’t even exist. All of that rage and anger to no purpose. And to inflame it further with the images of modern cinematic technology is an outrageous act of moral irresponsibility.

The worst thing that Christians have done with Christmas is to commercialize it. That’s nothing compared with the dark underbelly of Easter: centuries of blood, barbarism, and death.


Alan M. Perlman is a secular humanist speaker and author — most recently, of An Atheist Reads the Torah: Secular Humanistic Perspectives on the Five Books of Moses. For information, go to

19 Responses to “Happy Easter, bloody Easter”

  1. on 09 Apr 2012 at 1:16 amRick

    Happy Zombie Jesus Day.

  2. on 09 Apr 2012 at 5:32 pmAlan

    The gospels are tantalizingly vague as to just how he “appeared” to his disciples (according to one account, a crowd of 500): hologram in the sky…actual corporeal person…zombie…or maybe a simultaneous image on all their cell phones (now that would really impress me).

  3. on 09 Apr 2012 at 11:38 pmRich

    Myth of Osiris. Myth of Iknaeton.

    Orphism: Dionysus’ death and resurrection. Bone tablets found in Olbia (5th cent. BC) carry short and enigmatic inscriptions like: “Life. Death. Life. Truth. Dio(nysus). Orphics.” The function of these bone tablets is unknown.

    Many other world religions & cults have similar themes.

    “There is nothing new under the Sun”.

  4. on 10 Apr 2012 at 2:33 pmAlan

    Jesus’ story is largely cribbed from existing myths, because many years after his (supposed) death, if he even lived at all, people wanted to know more about this miraculous man, so the apostles filled in the details. Imagine my surprise when in a college Greek class, I discovered the Mithra story, similar in so many details. But, hey, they didn’t have Google, so how could they check?

  5. on 13 Apr 2012 at 6:23 amAh, throbing genitals...

    Porn portrays sex for the horny but lonely, giving them a view of the action so close that spectators feel like the actors, thus getting satisfaction.
    Religion, which is also manmade for another desperate crowd, alows the worshiper to witness what they crave- forgiveness, love, eternal life, played out in writting and in the experience of churh.
    Both porn and religion spring from deep needs and desires, both are satisfying and addicting. If they cant get it in real life, thigs provides a way.
    Its a wonder that a religion based on orgiastic sex, violence, and gambling, followed by attonement and fee based forgiveness hasnt been developed yet…or is tv televangelism almost there?

  6. on 13 Apr 2012 at 2:52 pmAlan

    Excellent comparison. Televangelism is the closest we’ve come to the play-pray-pay model. But Catholicism, offering blanket divine forgiveness, allows you to do anything Sat. night as long as you atone Sun. morning.

    I wonder what quirks of fate elevated the Abrahamic religions to world domination, with all their repression of sex and drugs as a gateway to the religious experience. In many other, older religions, orgies, sometimes drug-assisted, were central to the religious experience (fertility rites, etc.). I bet there’d be fewer atheists if religion meant getting stoned and getting laid.

  7. on 13 Apr 2012 at 10:54 pmRich

    I’m not a Freudian by any means. Or much of a Weberian.

    But I think the hydraulic theory of repression has much to recommend itself.

    Lotus Eaters aren’t conquerors or rulers. Puritains of every type are. Purse-lipped, frustrated, inwardly-hysterical and thus brutally censorious folks “inherit” the world with sword & fire & prisons & mass slaughter. Plus, many children.

    Hypocrites their Leaders may be, even we here in USA are under their domination. How else explain the insane prohibitions of Pot, Prostitution, and (in Santorum’s fevered dreams) Porn?

    The endless search for other Degenerates who occupy their supposedly sovereign time and bodies w/thoughts, Words! & substances under Anathema?

    In “Abion’s Seed”, David Hackett Fischer limns early Puritains as “living under possibly the most agonizing self-imposed misery in history”.

    They brought their children to burials, assuring terrified tykes the coffins contained bodies whose souls would assuredly burn in Hell for all eternity - as they would soon.

    Yet their Calvinistic Code conquered America and its soul. Today, their descendants include members of every denomination.

    TR. Wilson. Hillary. Bill Bennett. George Kennan, the brilliant diplomat who outlined our Cold War strategy, but despised his lascivious country & the West itself. Other censorious Leaders of Every Party affiliation.

    Both sides of our horrific Civil War initiated, and pursued w/o mercy, their versions of the Heavenly Kingdom.

    I think it may be inevitable. W/o Puritan bloody-minded, greedy asceticism, America well may not endure. Charles Murray’s latest book argues that.

  8. on 14 Apr 2012 at 12:25 amAlan

    I’m a big fan of Murray’s and will make a point of reading it.

    What the Christian prudes do in South Carolina, Jewish prudes do in Israel and Crown Heights, Muslim prudes do all over Africa and Asia. There’s plenty of self-imposed misery to go around (Shi’ites flogging selves). There is still way too much religious sexual repression in this country, but people fuck anyway.

  9. on 14 Apr 2012 at 9:41 pmRich

    Indeed, people of all stripes do the Dirty Deed (why it’s dirty I don’t know, but Puritan George Kennan - born in WI - in “Around The Cragged Hill” echoes the sentiment).

    Not to divagate, but Kennan is one of the most eloquent writers I’ve ever read. Google “The Long Telegram” or “Sources of Soviet Conduct” to start. His literary brilliance is one reason he was so influential (he was an Absolutely Terrible diplomat).

    Ahem. But. Point taken, yet who has lots & lots of children? It ain’t latitudinarian sophisticates.

  10. on 15 Apr 2012 at 5:24 pmAlan

    That gets you away fropm lasciviousnes per se and into a whole different area: encouragement of (marital) procreation to supply as may new indoctrinees as possible and feed the politicians’ cannons. Also, the more kids I have, the more of a man I am.

  11. on 02 Apr 2013 at 12:31 pmAnonymous

    Been thinking what a sad bad brutal thing human life is, esp before Modern Era & Modern Countries. From Conception, to Birth, thru life, and Early death.

    Drenched in bodily fluids, blood, and random horrible death. Probably less than 50% of children survived to age 5. If they did, their lives were haunted by oppression, killing work, fear of famine & excruciating pain.

    Egypt’s pyramid builders lived to about 30. Louis XIV’s favorite daughter-in-law died of tooth decay at 18. Lincoln & Twain both lost 3 children.

    I find it hard to condemn such people for their manifold ways of dealing w/life’s horrors. From the macabre to the frivolous.

    … Been a Gloomy Gus lately.

  12. on 03 Apr 2013 at 7:48 pmAlan

    Not a day goes by when I’m not thankful to be living in the 21st century. 1950’s medicine now looks barbaric, as I’m sure ours will. But today it sure is good to have available a standard of living and medical care that even monarchs didn’t have 500 years ago.

    You’re right - nasty, brutal, and short. Almost no Hollywood version shows life as it was before indoor plumbing and running water. You had smallpox scars if you survived and were lucky to not be killed by infectious disease by 40. Everybody had cataracts and rotted teeth and stank.

    What gets me is that Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and Michael Crichton, all of whom died in recent years, had the best medical care available…and it couldn’t get them past their 60s? Worrisome.

  13. on 05 Apr 2013 at 5:24 pmAnonymous

    Make it 100 years, maybe 50. Penicillin and its offshoots. Psycho-active drugs that keep people from drinking themselves to death, suicide, and homicide (tho most of our recent mass killers were on them).

    A few years ago, I started having awful pain. Couldn’t sleep, groggy, near-constant pain. My Evil Nurse Sister suggested Alleve. Problem solved. I don’t have to use it anymore for some reason. So add a lot of Pain - so common, people must have taken it for granted.

    I’ve read heretical texts. 1. Most deaths have been prevented by Public Health & other systems. Clean water, clean food (w/exceptions), heat, cooling, transportation (of food & necessities), healthy varied food (if you want it). Norman Borlaug saved more lives than any man in History.

    It’s not fail safe. Another Great Influenza (50M dead) or Black Death (up to 1/2 Europe, maybe same in Asia). BTW. Know why they call(ed) it The Spanish Influenza?

    It came from Ft. Riley, KS. WW1 was still on. Morbidity was a National Secret. Divisions dropped in droves. Spain wasn’t fighting, so it had no reason not to tell the truth. And got blamed, at least in name.

    Tiny viruses. Not really fully living organisms. Undead, like vampires. Yet they killed >100 M in last century. Might do worse still.

    2. Modern medicine and dentistry, do good work and save lives and Pain. Big picture tho, no comparison to Public Works and systems.

    3. Your lost geniuses. Good genes for smarts, bad genes for long life. Genetics is overlooked, minimized, even attacked for non PC. I look this way, have this body, from Genetics. My modest intellectual gifts. My bad teeth and myopia. My neuroses.

    My Ma lived on vodka and ice cream for 5 years, exercise chair to bed. Then LF Hosp to NH. Her blood work was peachy! Started smoking at 8. Hard miserable life worsened by serious mental illness & booze. Lard, bacon grease, chicken fat. Lived to 86.

    … In the 80s, I had a physician, same age as me. I said we could grow old together. He said I’d never make it. Overweight, smoker, bad diet. He, on the other hand, competed in Triathlons.

    Less than a year later, he was flying back from a Tri in LA. Massive stroke. Maybe electrolytes, maybe not. Serious mental and physical debilities, wheelchair, I don’t know if he can watch TV.

    I had no Schadenfreude. Too superstitious. But I thought of the saying, “God (Fate) is not mocked.”

    So. You never really know, as Rosanne Rosananada (lost SO young) used to say, or something. Sorry for logorrhea.

  14. on 06 Apr 2013 at 2:47 pmAlan

    Roseanne (yes, an very sad premature loss) said, “As my Daddy used to say, ‘If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” I think. I knew some of Gilda’s family members in Detroit suburbs.

    Richly ironic, the jock doctor. This is what happens when fitness goes from a health goal to a divine mission. The human body has limits. Exceed them at your own risk.

    Viruses were here for millions of years before we appeared, and they, along with rats and roaches, will be here long after we’re gone.

    Why are there so many promising lives cut off so early, while the genetic lottery preserves my mother (who has not had a new thought in 50 years) into her 10th decade? Her father survived to 82 on a diet rich in chicken fat.

  15. on 06 Apr 2013 at 4:42 pmRich

    Ecclesiastes has your answers. “The race is not always to the swift …”, I think. It’s virtually Existential. Author?

    Re Gilda. I never thought she was v funny, but she was Adorable. Poor Gene Wilder.

    My hubristic Dr. may have overdone it. Or maybe it just Happened. It happened to a trailer park neighbor in his 40s, worked for DHL, in good shape, in his bed. Lived alone. Luckily Found before putrefaction.

    And to another friend in CO about 50. Totally helpless and infantilized, bags for urine and poop, IQ shot. He cries in his wheelchair.

    Just bought supply of cigarettes at Sams Club. $1,000. I got them Free or a buck a carton in VN. Irony makes me laugh.

    Viruses. “I will show you fear in a grain of sand”. Well, at least you don’t need an Electron Microscope for that.

    Henry James on his deathbed. “Here he is, the Distinguished Thing.”

    Ted found an effective Testosterone compound at GNC. Gonna buy it.

    Watching “Vikings” on History Channel. They were some tough mo’fo’s.

  16. on 07 Apr 2013 at 7:08 pmAlan

    People were a lot tougher, until recently. They had to be. We’re the softies.

    Gilda not funny? Have you seen her demure Lisa Lubner (composite of Jewish Detroit suburban girls) fend off the salacious advances of Todd (Bill Murray)?

    Holy shit, you know a lot of life-horror stories.

    My addition to the They Went Thataway anthology: my last wife’s father, who at 79 keeled over, never regained consciousness, fini, just as he was holding up a forkful of broccoli and remarking on their healthy eating.

  17. on 07 Apr 2013 at 7:26 pmRich

    My favorite was the Health Food Guru (I’ll remember name tomorrow - Rodale!!!) who assured Dick Cavett on LIVE TV that he planned to live indefinitely. Reason - he Lived Right.

    He keeled over dead after he said that. God is Not Mocked. Not that I believe in God. But I believe in the Sentiment.

    … I’ve never been susceptible to any kind of Utopian Dogma. At age 6 I knew better.

  18. on 07 Apr 2013 at 8:55 pmAlan

    As I always say, Nature has no interest in our living long enough to raise the next generation to childbearing age — say, 30-35. Anything after that is borrowed time.

    Rodale founded Prevention Magazine - his spirit still lives.

    It’s hard for a child if he/she doesn’t have an adult skeptic role-model (my father). I had arrived at atheism by 12, but it took me decades to understand that a lot of people really do believer this horseshit…and then to figure out why believers buy it, why this fraud is perpetrated on children, generation after generation.

  19. on 09 Apr 2013 at 1:27 pmRich

    I had a different path. My family were Devout Believers. My home was cruel Bedlam.

Leave a Reply

Best News: Best News:
Site Secured By: Website Guardian