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The story of Elisha and the bears is one of the more disturbing ones in the Bible. It’s the one where kids make fun of Elisha, a bald-headed man… and then two bears come down and maul to death all 42 children.
Lovely, isn’t it?
Jonny Scaramanga, whose reporting on the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum has been eye-opening for me, explains that one of ACE’s workbooks designed for 11-year-olds features this story as a moral tale.
Because mean little kids deserve to die.
Scaramanga explains on his new Patheos blog:

If you want an example of how ACE combines barbaric morals with bad education, it doesn’t get much clearer than this.

On this blog, we’ve repeatedly seen how fundamentalist religion warps people’s moral compasses, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone suggest that a mauling from a bear is appropriate punishment for insulting someone.

And that doesn’t even get into the awful poem that’s underneath the cartoon. You’ll want to check out Scaramanga’s analysis of it here and then be grateful that you didn’t use these books when you were growing up.
You may also appreciate this animated version of the Elisha story.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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