Title: God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible
Author: C.J. Werleman
Published: November 16, 2009
Add to Goodreads
Purchase on Amazon
Final Rating: 3/5
Last night, I finally finished a book I have been working through for several months: “God Hates You, Hate Him Back” by CJ Werleman. I purchased the book in December for my Kindle (after enjoying the sample I had received from another atheistic Kindle purchase) and finally finished it up last night. It was published in November 2009, but I couldn’t find a lot of information about the author besides a now-deleted Wikipedia page, his social media profiles, and a few articles accusing him of plagiarism as well as copies of an email exchange between him and Sam Harris. I always like to understand the perspective of the author and how that affects his writings and worldview, but in this case, I think it’s probably better to skip over the allegations and go straight to the book.
For people who know me, it is no secret that I am one of those “militant atheists,” meaning that I occasionally get quite ranty about it on Facebook, and I would like to not be portrayed as evil by media, politicians, or whoever else thinks I’ll burn in hell for eternity. What that really means is that I quite often read books written by atheists because the subject matter is a priority to me (I usually describe myself as a “childfree liberal vegan atheist,” which tends to describe my most important values fairly well). Ironically, in my quest to continue to educate myself and masochistic urge to continue to read more of religion and its followers, I think it’s safe to say that I spend more time in the study of religion as an incredulous outsider than those who claim to be devout to the faith. I suppose it goes hand in hand with my fascination for cryptozoology and occasionally a good paranormal read; a little suspension of disbelief can go a long way.
So anyway, it would only make sense that after reading the bible, I would read a book that only relies on the bible to point out the insanity of it. Because I wasn’t really reading this with the intention of writing a review (and to be quite honest, it didn’t really stick with me as much as I had hoped it would), my review will be quite brief. Think of this as an incredulous atheist’s take on a book that far too many people, and presidents, take as doctrine. It doesn’t come across as too dense or wordy like Dawkins, and it’s not quite as unbridled and seething as Hitchens. Rather, it inserts some much needed humor and occasional laughs at a very violent collection of writings from a bunch of misogynistic men.
The entire book simply goes, chapter by chapter, through each book of the bible, pointing out the ridiculousness of some of the scriptures that are nowadays scoffed at by modern-day christians as irrelevant (often right next to one of the verses they quote incessantly), and it does not rely on any outside resources, besides a few references to historical and political events. It’s fairly readable, with nothing particularly tough to read like you might find in other, more pedantic writings from atheists, although then again, there’s nothing particularly quotable or memorable either. In fact, Werleman even does rely on that glorious quote from The God Delusion to set the stage for the challenge posed to the bible, whether or not the god of the bible really is a “vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (spoiler alert, he is). There were some instances that I felt plodded along a little too slowly, and I’m not too enthralled with the writing style (although there are plenty of comedic gems).
But the biggest issue that I do have with this book is that some of the quotes he has attributed to former presidents (most notably the good ol’ Bush boys) cannot be verified on an independent search. One of the memorable quotes was attributed to George W. Bush. In my rough paraphrase, the quote was that if English is good enough for the bible, it’s good enough for America. Shocking, right? But upon doing some of my own research, I found out that the quote has most recently been attributed to the resident crazy, Michelle Bachmann, and that was also an untrue statement, with no truth to it being from Bush either. Another quote from George H.W. Bush implied that atheists were not citizens or unpatriotic; another search turned up fruitless and there are claims that the senior Bush did not immediately deny those claims, so therefore he must agree. However, I still cannot find a factual source that claims he was directly confronted with that quote; presidents usually have better things to do than squash internet rumors, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he simply let this one go, if he even knew that this was attributed to him. So while I have no love for the Bush boys or Bachmann, I would much rather express my dislike for them in more factual terms, which is my biggest issue and one that seriously compromises my positive opinion on this book. For Werleman being a journalist (according to his social media), I’m a little shocked that he did not do his due diligence, or that someone else didn’t think “now wait a minute, surely Dubya can’t be that stupid!” (I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if he was, but that’s “spilling beer on yourself because you don’t know how to tip a bottle back” stupid)
So with that being said, my initial positive opinion of the book is that it is a good read, albeit a bit monotonous and forgettable (much like Jeb, to complete the Bush trio). It is easy to find the books of the bible, and I suppose the most opportunistic way to use this book would be to present the relevant section of Werleman’s writings to a dogmatic christian and watch them squirm their way out of the misogyny and genocide that is presented in their doctrine. Then again, simply referencing a few related bible verses would be equally potent, and you could add in your own commentary!
I did like sections of this book on the initial readthrough, but frankly, the whole lack of research on his quotes tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. As a vegan and atheist, I believe that, even though the arguments for our sides are resoundingly logical and easy to win, we must still present ourselves factually and with citations. It annoys me to see the “woo” surrounding veganism or the “well who cares if the quote is accurate, you’re not going to fact check it” behavior that shows up in atheism. This would not be on my atheist reading recommendations list as one of the top “must read books” or “books to make you deconvert” (for me, that was The God Delusion, just so you know), but it is a good read if you want to read the bible without actually reading the bible.
My final rating was initially 4/5 stars, but with the further research and lack of accuracy in his presidential quotes, I feel obliged to knock it down to a 3/5.
The paperback version is 296 pages, and it is available for the Kindle or in paperback through Amazon.