“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.


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Comment by Alan Perlman on April 22, 2014 at 9:49am

Pat...You're most welcome.  I would add that the near-unanimity of such behavior can make those of us who abstain feel like WE'RE the nutty ones.  Finding each other greatly helps us to resist group pressure.  My 2nd wife was immersed in New Age medicine, as were all of her friends, and there wasn't a dissenting voice to be heard...so I was under lots of pressure not to raise mine. 

Comment by Pat on April 22, 2014 at 7:33am

Alan, that's one of the best descriptions of the herd mentality for Black Friday, Christmas, Easter, etc. I've read. Orchestrated seasonal behavior. If you don't mind, I'll use it.

Comment by Alan Perlman on April 20, 2014 at 8:04pm

Thanks to all commentators.

To Pat...Antisemitism, I just learned, antedates Christianity.  Romans practiced it.  But Christians took it to a whole new level.  For 2,000 years, whenever anything went seriously wrong, whether plague or economic chaos...it's the Jews.   Resurgence in recent years is the same thing: social upheaval, uncertain economic times...it's the Jews, secretly manipulating it all behind the scenes.

To Nap...Great case for eating human flesh.  But it's the added layer of superstition -- eat your god (totem, enemy), and you become him -- that I can do without.

To Luara...And then there are outcasts like me, who long ago stopped bothering with orchestrated seasonal behavior.  

Comment by Grinning Cat on April 20, 2014 at 6:50pm

... and yes, chocolate aspect.

Tomorrow is a perhaps more important holiday: Half-Price Chocolate Bunny Day!

(Half-Price Chocolate Days are also celebrated in the U.S. on February 15, November 1, and December 26. There's actually a Facebook page as well.)

Comment by Luara on April 20, 2014 at 5:29pm

I rather like the seasonal holidays in their "commercialized" form, they are a kind of modern paganism.  We have in summer fireworks in the evening on July 4th, when people go and watch outside; Halloween when you see people in costumes everywhere; Christmas with the trees and lights.  And Easter in its bunny/painted eggs/ outdoors hunts and yes, chocolate aspect. 

The dark side of Easter to me, is that agonizing death on the cross.  But all of those holidays have anguish associated with them if you look closely. 

Comment by Pat on April 20, 2014 at 4:41pm

As to Mel Gibson, a wife beating, drunken, die-hard anti-semitic Catholic, I too refuse to watch his pornographic (as you correctly labeled it) snuff film. I did see Noah, but only because Christians, Muslims and Atheists all seemed to be united in their outrage. What the hell.

Sam Harris made a salient point about Christianity. It's a death cult based on human sacrifice. Now, once their man-god is dead, alive, and shuffles off to heaven - in that order - there has to be more blood sacrifice. Until recently, that was the Jew. Actually, I should correct that, because there seems to be a resurgence of anti-semitism in France, Germany, and other parts of Europe. I think the only reason it hasn't infected the US as much as Europe is due to the support for Israel by evangelicals and their own pornographic death wish for the end of the earth. However, as Kansas City recently has shown, it's not dead here by a long shot.

Israel will bring about the end of civilization and the man-god will return. Those I've confronted about the rapture, telling them the whole story is anti-semitic, vehemently deny it. I then ask, after the turmoil and tribulations, what will happen to the Jews who don't convert to Christianity, as I draw my thumb across my throat. They tend to get real quiet. 

Comment by Alan Perlman on April 20, 2014 at 3:52pm

Oh sure, any excuse to sell greeting cards and tchotchkes. And eat candy. 

Comment by Luara on April 20, 2014 at 1:12pm

The pastel eggs and bunnies and hunts outdoors for hidden things do make a nice rite of spring, though.



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