The fundamentalists behind the "conservative, family-friendly" version of Wikipedia have launched an effort to eliminate what they see to be liberal bias within modern day Bible translations.
The editors of Conservapedia claim that, as of 2009, "there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible" that satisfies the ten guidelines that their project will translate in accordance with, including "thought-for-thought" translation without corruption by liberal bias; avoidance of unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity; use of "powerful new conservative terms"; and use of modern political terms, among others.
The only Bible translation Conservapedia editors seem to respect is the King James Version, which they said could be used as the baseline for developing a conservative translation without requiring a license or any fees.
"Where the KJV is known to be deficient due to discovery of more authentic sources, exceptions can be made that use either more modern public domain translations as a baseline, or by using the original Greek or Hebrew," they added.
According to Conservapedia editors, examples of "liberal bias" include the verse in Luke 23:34, in which Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
"[T]he simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible," the editors stated.
They also said the inclusion of the story about the adulterous woman that appears John 8 "is not authentic" and is one of a number of "later-inserted liberal passages."
"Arguments against the death penalty often cite this passage," they noted.
To create a "conservative Bible translation," the editors of Conservapedia are calling upon its members to help identify pro-liberal terms, the omission of liberal terms for vices, conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations, and terms that they say have lost their original meaning, such as "word" in the beginning of the Gospel of John, which they suggest should be replaced with a term such as "truth."
"In stage one, the translation could focus on word improvement and thereby be described as a 'conservative word-for-word' translation. If greater freedom in interpretation is then desired, then a 'conservative thought-for-thought' version could be generated as a second stage," the editors stated.
Since word of the Conservative Bible Project hit the blogosphere, the effort, not surprisingly, has drawn a high volume of criticism - from liberals and atheists to conservatives and theologians.
"I still can't help but think that someone is spoofing here," commented Dave Doran, president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and senior pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church in Allen Park, Mich.
"[T]his is exactly the line of argument that liberals make when they want to follow the so-called trajectory that they see in Scripture by moving from an ancient, unenlightened view to a modern one (e.g., on gender issues or homosexuality)," he noted in his blog Wednesday.
"Basically, here conservatives (falsely so-called) are adopting the same trajectory strategy-Jesus introduced concepts that weren't fully developed yet, so now we can 'translate' them into fully developed conservative ideas. This isn't conservatism at all. It is heresy. Hokey heresy, but still heresy."
Like most critics, Doran is hoping the project is "simply an unfunny joke."
Judging from Conservapedia's announcement, however, it's not.
"You really need to read the whole Conservapedia entry to grasp how crazy this is," commented Beliefnet's Rod Dreher, who runs the Crunchy Con blog on conservative politics and religion.
"It's like what you'd get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin'," he added.
Started in 2006 by lawyer and social studies teacher Andy Schlafly, son of conservative activist and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, Conservapedia seeks to "provide information about the American people that liberal critics would rather hide."
It also seeks to give "due credit to conservatism and Christianity."
Unlike Wikipedia, Conservapedia requires its contributors to register.