The book of evil
It is often said that the Old Testament condemns homosexuals to death, but this is actually not the case. Let's look at the wording of the relevant text, Leviticus 20:13 (KJV translation):
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Note that this wording does not condemn "homosexuals" as such (a concept which, as far as I know, didn't exist until the nineteenth century anyway). It condemns anyone who has committed a particular action. Any man who has engaged in sexual relations with another man, ever -- even once -- is condemned to death.
This is a much larger number of people than just "homosexuals". Most studies on the subject have concluded that around 2% of the adult population is predominantly homosexual or bisexual in orientation; given an adult male population of at least 100 million in the US, this means there are at least two million gay or bisexual men, and executing all of them (as some hard-line Christian sects such as the Dominionists apparently aspire to do) would mean mass murder approaching the scale of the Holocaust.
But carrying out the actual clear intent of Leviticus 20:13 would mean executing every man who, say, ever went through a period of homosexual experimentation in late adolescence or early adulthood (something which as many as 20% of males may have done, by some estimates), or once had one isolated gay encounter while he was drunk, or resorted to such an act due to prolonged deprivation in an all-male environment such as prison or certain military deployments. This would likely run to tens of millions of people, most of whom don't think of themselves as "gay" at all and wouldn't be considered such by anyone else.
Notice that Fred Phelps, leader of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church (those much-photographed loons who pop up in so many places waving colorful "God hates fags" signs) actually stands revealed as un-Biblically permissive, since he denounces only gays as a category and ignores the much larger number of people actually condemned to death by the Word of God.
At this point someone may object that Leviticus is irrelevant to Christian morality because the New Testament has somehow abrogated the laws of the Old. This claim is unequivocally false. Here are the words of Jesus Christ according to Matthew 5:17-19:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoso- ever shall do, and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
There is no wiggle room there. All the laws of the Old Testament remain in full force and will continue to be so for as long as the Earth itself exists. If you are a liberal Christian and you claim that Christian morality does not require enforcing Leviticus 20:13 and executing every man who has ever committed a homosexual act, Jesus Christ himself says that you are wrong and that Fred Phelps ("whosoever shall do, and teach them") is right.
(Notice too that almost all of the Biblical passages condemning homosexuality which are cited in Phelps's propaganda are from the New Testament, not the Old; they are not the actual words of Jesus, but they are the words of people much closer to him in time and culture than any modern Christian is.)
Many liberal Christians are decent people and I have nothing against them, as people. But they are decent people only because they do not get their morality from the Bible.
Homosexual behavior is not the only sin punishable by death according to Biblical morality, of course. It might be rather an interesting exercise for you, the reader, to leaf through the parts of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers in which Moses is getting all these laws directly from God, to see if you can find anything you yourself have done which is declared a death-penalty offense (assuming you aren't put to sleep by the interminable and tedious rules concerning animal sacrifice). Heterosexuality does not get you off the hook. Just three verses before the condemnation of homosexuality, in Leviticus 20:10, we find this:
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
You may not approve of someone sleeping with a married woman, but to kill both parties for it? Can you imagine how many people would have to be killed if this were enforced, as the Dominionists aspire to do, and America would need to do if we were serious about claiming the Bible as the ultimate source of morality?
(That would include me, by the way. I once had a relationship with a married woman. The circumstances were such that I felt, and still feel, no guilt about it at all. But the Biblical pronouncements make no exceptions for individual circumstances.)
Another passage of interest is Numbers 15:32-36:
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath-day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.
Gathering sticks on a Sunday? Are you sure you've never done that? Even if you haven't, do you think of it as no big deal? Yet this is a crime worthy of death; God himself said so. If you disagree, then you're judging the Bible by some other moral standard, which is to say that your own morality is ultimately based on something other than the Bible.
If we took the Bible as our source of morality and actually did what it tells us to do, we'd need to kill so many people that we'd make the Nazis look like angels of mercy. We'd need to build a dozen Auschwitzes and keep them running around the clock for years. We'd be lucky if a quarter of the population were left alive when we were finished.
Those survivors, by the way, might include some pretty unsavory characters. There are many other ways in which Biblical morality deviates from real morality. Consider the story of Lot in Sodom. As we all know, two angels came to visit Lot, and his house was quickly surrounded by locals who demanded that the attractive male strangers be handed over to them for, shall we say, purposes of which Fred Phelps would not approve. Lot's shocking response is found in Genesis 19:8:
Behold now, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Lot tried to defuse the situation by handing over his own virgin daughters to a mob of would-be rapists. And God clearly approved of this behavior, since he judged Lot to be the only man righteous enough to be saved from the destruction of the city. So this, too, is Biblical "morality".
I do not condemn only fundamentalism or theocracy. I condemn the Bible itself. It is a work of irredeemable evil.