Ancient and modern

Allah, Zeus and the Church of England

A deliciously pagan gesture from St John’s Waterloo

21 March 2015

9:00 AM

21 March 2015

9:00 AM

A ‘prominent liberal cleric’ in London has held an Islamic prayer service in his church, St John’s Waterloo. ‘We all share these traditions,’ he announced, ‘so let us celebrate our shared traditions, by giving thanks to the God that we love, Allah.’ How deliciously pagan of him.

One way ancient Greeks tried to make sense of the bewildering array of gods they came across was to make links between them, both in name and function. For example, the ‘father of history’ Herodotus tells us that Scythians worshipped Zeus, Apollo and Aphrodite under the names Papaeus, Oetosyrus and Argimpasa. All very St John’s.


But does this mean that ancient gods shared traditions? Certainly not. Herodotus makes clear the huge differences in practice between e.g. Scythian, Persian, Egyptian and Greek ritual. Likewise, given that with religions ‘older was better’, they all competed in making airy professions of antiquity. Herodotus records Egyptian claims of gods going back over 345 generations.

Which brings us to Christianity. It saw great advantage in being rooted (like Islam) in monotheistic Judaism, whose Old Testament gave it a uniquely hard history as the oldest religion of all. So at first, Christians hoped to win over Jews by claiming that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. The Jews were not interested. So Christians forged a ‘modernised’ identity, recognising pagan philosophy (it partially saw the truth, but Jesus ‘in the beginning’ was the true logos); welcoming the Roman Empire (it was ‘God’s work’, preparing the world for the end of times); but anti-Jewish in claiming Christianity pre-dated Jewish scriptures. Islam in the 7th century argued likewise for its unconditional supremacy.

These three faiths may be rooted in the Old Testament, but that does not mean they ‘share traditions’. YHWH is not God is not Allah. Would we be having any of our current problems if the faiths were all one big, achingly liberal family? After all, if they were, there would be nothing to distinguish them.

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  • Patently E(uropean)

    I suppose Giles must rebrand ‘Inclusive Church’ to ‘Inclusive Pace of Worship’.

    • Mark

      Following the example of the Ordnance Survey symbols now designated…..former or current place of worship with spire, minaret or dome.

      All helpfully marked with a cross attached to a spot, or a square to designate a former place of worship with a tower.

  • Zanderz

    Islam is not rooted in the Old Testament. Islam is rooted in the life of Mohammed. There are only 2 Abrahamic faiths – Judaism and Christianity.

    • Ivan Ewan

      But to be fair, Jews Christians and Muslims do all agree that Islam is the cultural progeny of Ishmael’s line. Abraham was Ishmael’s father, conceived in an act of faithlessness toward one of God’s promises.

      “He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand raised against everyone, and all hands will be raised against him.”

      If that isn’t a perfect descriptor of your average Arab Muslim man I don’t know what is. Oh no, racism, someone please lock me up. Lock God up too.

      • islam was born in the seventh century of a marauding pedophile. It has nothing to do with Abraham – oh yes it wishes it were so. What gravitas it would have. But Abraham lived a thousand years before, in the time of the pharaohs. Old Ishmael wandered off and worshipped his moon god until his progeny were all submerged under islam.

        This pseudo-righteous limp-wrist of a vicar needs to dress appropriately. A burka would suit.

        • Wh0_Is_J0hn_Galt

          Abraham wasn’t a saint himself, he wasn’t much better than Mohammed.

        • Agree with your points. But it’s actually suspected Abraham lived about 1700 BC.

        • Terry Field

          The vic was in heaven because he had a few people n his church and he did not care if they were Muslim. He’s just jealous of the collection plate revenue.

      • Richard

        Interesting how many of these religious ways of explaining turn out to be so right in the end.

        • Terry Field

          How so, old cocker?

          • Richard

            “He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand raised against everyone, and all hands will be raised against him.”

            This is almost as true of their nature as Kipling (“The God of the Copybook Headings”) thought.

      • Zanderz

        The religion of Islam is very different from the heritage of the people in whom it first started.

    • I agree – I’m sick of this argument coming out. Christianity dramatically expands on Judaism but it doesn’t reject it. Islam says Jews and Christians are mistaken about their beliefs and about their history, and rewrites them so they mean the exact opposite. How can anyone say that Islam is an Abrahamic religion when one of the central beliefs of Islam is that at the end of time all Jews will be hunted down and killed? Islam’s relation to Judaism and Christianity is fundamentally murderous.

      • Terry Field

        Tell that to the crapheaps in power in Britain and Europe old son.

      • Mahnoor

        Darling, Islam never said that “at the end of time all Jews will be hunted down and killed”, and neither is it at all murderous. These are fibs created by extremists who’ve twisted the true Islam into something they wish it was: violent and hateful. I highly suggest you actually go into the details before embarrasing yourself by thinking you know something just by what a certain group of people portray it as.

        • Here we go. The Koran endorses the same as the following hadith:
          Book 041, Number 6985:
          Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

          • Richard Baranov

            My apologies, I just more or less duplicated your post. Didn’t notice it in replying to the Muslim, Mahoor. My guess he will now try to dissimulate, a perfectly acceptable form of behaviour according to Islam or he will not answer at all.

          • Do you mean you were Muslim or just lived near Muslims? If you left Islam what made you do it?

          • Richard Baranov

            No, was brought up in Libya, of all places. It was a British protectorate on behalf of the U.N. My father was British Military stationed in Al Khums, although in those days it was called Homs. Leptis Magna, the Roman city was literally my playground! Not many kids can claim a whole ancient city as their playground 🙂

            I loved Libya and I loved the people and had many Arabic friends, so ended up with an enduring interest in Arabic culture. People are wonderful. Islam is a perfect example of Christopher Hitchens remark that religion makes truly good people do dreadful things. I have seen examples of that with my own eyes and therefore regard Islam as being beneath contempt for the way it corrupts decent people.

          • Very interesting comment. Echoes my own view – Islam corrupts even the most decent of people.

        • Richard Baranov

          A Hadith: Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews. (Sahih Muslim, 41:6985; see also 41:6981-84 and Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:176,177 and 4:56:791)

        • “the true Islam”

          Let’s have a look, shall we:

          https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B7Q9qQ8CQAAFEtT.jpg:large

        • Gettingby

          You all failed to mention Islamic eschatology where Jesus returns as a subordinate to the Madhi and will lead the war to destroy the cross and all those who called themselves Christians.

        • ‘ere we go

          As the Koran is interpreted in as many ways as there are preachers it is rather difficult to know just what it says. A fact is that Islamists are often ” violent and hateful.”

        • will91

          Oh! I’m sorry! Do tell me more about the true Islam…

    • Rowland Nelken

      And Mahomet was given the final and ultimate truth from the angel Gabriel, a lead player in the Bible. So much of what Gabriel told Mahomet was a recycling of Bible Stories from both testaments. So Islam in all its bewildering and mutually incompatible varieties is part of the same shambolic family as the Jews and Christians.

      • Zanderz

        I’d refer you to Richard’s comment below.

      • Rose

        That angel gabriel was actually Satan doing one of his tricks in impersonating Gabriel.
        Mahomet/Mohamed or whatever his name was was completely fooled just as was Bernadette at Lourdes.
        Jesus was the last prophet and He will return shortly and destroy all the devil worshipping Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics etc

    • Terry Field

      And Christ does not require vegetables to be heaped upon him.

    • Feminister

      Christianity isnt Abrahamic, it’s Hellenistic. Virgin births, trinities, rising from the dead, divine-mortal couplings, Apollo, Hell, neither Jew nor Greek…

      And Roman Catholicism is Roman Paganism: Incense, relics, icons, priests in robes, gods and goddesses converted to saints, vestal virgins converted to nuns, eunuchs converted to monks.

      Islam is Arab paganism borrowing from the Bible to outdo the Jewish faction in Jerusalem.

      Judaism is Zoroastrianism and Egyptian sun worship. The Ten Commandments are derivativeps of the Book of The Dead, the creation story and Noah’s flood, the Epic of Gilgamesh.

  • Richard

    This is the lazy man’s way of trying to defuse tension. Some people say, “All religions are the same,” in the same way as they say, “In Rwanda, both Tutsi and Hutu were to blame'” or “Jews and Germans share equal blame for the War.”

    It imbues the speaker with a sort of neutrality, which is really nothing other than self-interested cowardice. As you intimate, how would Jesus deal with the statements of the Islamic prophet?

    • Terry Field

      With a boot up the posterior. And a removal of the little green vegetables.

  • doctorseraphicus

    The Christian revelation is that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, buried, and on the third day rose from the tomb. That’s the nub. The Islamic revelation is that he isn’t. They just cannot both be right. And if you believe that truths of this kind can be revealed, they therefore cannot originate from the same source (unless the source itself is wholly unreliable).

    • Terry Field

      There may be TWO gods, and monotheism is wrong. And a third one that runs Australia.

      • Kennie

        That third one seems to be very good at sport but not much at anything else.

      • Rose

        Nonsense Terry.

        There is only one God – Jehovah or JHWH.

        • Terry Field

          Aah a bigot from the transfusion-rejecting tendency. Piss off.

          • Rose

            ANy plans to mature, Terry?

  • Roger Hudson

    Why the angry jealous god of the deserts became so popular i don’t know, look at the eclipse tomorrow and worship something important, Sol,solar energy.

  • Zombie Voltaire

    This article strikes me as missing a conclusion. I was left thinking so what? What’s your point? I do, of course, have my own response to the facts of this story but I was left confused as to what the author thought. He didn’t seem to approve but he didn’t really say what he thought inter-religious interaction should look like either.

  • DonCamilletto

    Oh dearie me, another journalist who appears to have mugged up on his article using the Ladybird ‘Peter and Jane learn Theology’

  • omgamuslim

    YHWH is not God is not Allah. This is an asinine statement affirming the superficial. Let us take the case of the US Pres under whom the Americans are united. Yet If you listen to the Reps who criticise him and call him Barak Osama, and you listen to the Dems who adore him and call him Barak Obama, you will be forgiven for thinking that there may be two US Presidents after all. But are there?

  • dan

    they clearly share traditions – both are pretty keen on Jerusalem for example

  • Tqwt

    How long will it be before Allah is worshipped in this church without Christens being allowed to worship. All it needs is an iman to chant the adhan and the church will become a mosque. The precedent is the Hagia Sophia at the fall of Constantinople.

    • Rose

      Nonsense!
      Muslims may follow Satans fantasies but God will not allow any Church of true Christians to be taken over by some silly chanting.

      • Tqwt

        Like I said above, The Hagia Sophia, before the fall it was one of the top Cathedrals in the World. The Dome of the Rock, was built on the Holiest Jewish site.

        If you god does not care about these two sites, then he will not care about minor churches.

  • Mark

    The word Allah appears in Arab Christian bibles and means God in the Christian understanding of God, i.e. The triune God of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    The Allah as spoken by a Muslim Imam means God in the Islamic understanding of God…..the God of whom Muhammed is the messenger.

    Spot the difference?

    Six hundred years after Christ declared He is the way, the truth and life, and set an example of a life of service, healing and self sacrifice. Then Muhammed appeared and gave a contradictory message of warlordism, conquest and the denial and destruction of any religious belief preceding Islam.

    By their fruit ye shall judge them.

    The Vicar in question needs a reminder of basic Christian theology.

    • Terry Field

      BUT their violence is not met by the traditional Christian approach of putting down the uprisings by, simply, wiping them out. Now it’s all peace, love, turning churches into weird homes and queer vicars with removable surpluses.

      • Bonkim

        Religion is dead!

    • Bonkim

      Allah=Elohim=Jah or Jehovah

  • Richard Baranov

    Allah is either the moon god or the storm god of pre-Islamic Arabia, ultimately he has his roots in Baal who was a storm god and, of course, is mentioned in the Bible. Mohammad simply attached his god to the god of Judeo-Christianity in order to gain legitimacy. That he learnt his Christianity from imperfect and, technically, heretical sources is obvious to those who have read up on these matters. That his understanding is imperfect is quite clear, his understanding of the Trinitarian concept in Christianity is appalling, to put it mildly. It, therefore, becomes obvious that far from being divinely inspired, Islam is nothing more than a fraud, and not a pious one at that but rather an excuse for a particularly nasty form of Imperialism and intolerance the aim of which was loot and power, the usual accoutrements of tyrants.

    • There’s reason to believe he thought Mary was one of the trinity.

      • Richard Baranov

        Your quite right. He thought the Trinity consisted of The Father, his wife Mary, and their son Jesus.
        The more you delve into Mohammad’s beliefs the more it becomes evident that he was an utter fraud and ‘divine revelation’, there was none. It happens to be a matter of record that a dove would sit on his shoulder, supposedly a manifestation of Gabriel relaying to him the word of God as presented in the Koran. The dove was tame and Mohammad would put grain in his ear so that it would give the impression that the bird was whispering to him. Jews and Christians contemporaneous with him knew he was a fraud but in our sick times people who should know better but contaminated with political correctness perpetuate nonsense insulting others by always referring to this charlatan as “The Prophet” and thereby aiding and abetting a fraud that does no one any good least of all those who wish to escape from this hypocrisy and seek safety in the West. Instead, such people are betrayed by the like of Parris who aid and abet intolerance via their ignorant liberalism.

        • Terry Field

          And the peas are a problem as well

        • Mahnoor

          Dude, where does it say anything of the sort? In the Quran? Hadith? II don’t think so. I’d love a link, if you’ve got one. Or the title of the book you’ve read it in.

          I feel sorry for those who readily believe all the laughable fibs people tell them regarding Islam.

          • Richard Baranov

            “These passages leave no doubt that Mohammed denied the doctrine of the Trinity and that he conceived it to be, or affirmed it to be, a species of tritheism consisting of God, Mary and Jesus Christ. [Whether Mohammed had a correct idea of the Trinity and deliberately put forth this travesty of the Christian idea, we will consider later.] The commentaries interpret the Koran as follows: Zamakhshari on 4:169 remarks, “The story received among Christians is that God is one in essence and three persons, (akanim) the person of the Father, the person of the Son and the person of the Holy Spirit. And they verily mean by the person of the Father, the Being, and by the person of the Son, knowledge, and by the person of the Holy Spirit, life. And this supposes that God is the third of three, or, if not, that there are three gods. And that which the Koran here refers to is the clear statement of theirs, that God and Christ and Mary are three gods and that the Christ is a child (walad) of God from Mary.” For proof he then quotes Surah 5:116, and adds: “And it is universally known concerning Christians that they hold the deity and humanity of Christ as regards his father and mother.” From this it is evident that Zamakhshari had a more correct idea of the doctrine of the Trinity than did Mohammed and that after offering a modal trinity as the creed of Christians he covers up the Koran mistake by asserting, without proof, that the trinity was a triad of Father, Son and Mother. (Vol. I. of the Kishaf, p. 241.) Beidhawi (on 4:169) remarks: “Jesus is called the Spirit of God because He makes the dead to live or quickens hearts.” On the following verse he is doubtful; “Either God is the third of three gods or is a triad of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Vol. I., p. 319.) He, too, avoids a real explanation of the gross misstatement in the Koran that Mary is one of the persons of the Trinity. The Jilalain (Vol. I., p. 278) prove that Jesus cannot be God, “because He has a spirit and everything possessed of a spirit is compounded (murakkib and God is absolutely without compounding, arrangement (tarkib), i.e., simple.” He says the Trinity consists of “Allah and Jesus and His mother.” (The Moslem Doctrine Of God, Samuel M. Zwemer, 1905, p 80)
            It is interesting to note that the charges against Christians of looking upon the Virgin Mary as the third person of the Trinity is made in the last of all the Suras:- O Jesus, Son of Mary, hast thou said unto mankind ‘Take me and my mother as two Gods beside God? ‘ He shall say: ‘Glory be unto Thee! it is not for me to say that which I know to be not the truth.’ Sura Al-Ma’idah (v) 116. Whether Muhammad knew better or not is uncertain, but, however that may be, this is his parting accusation. He could have ascertained the true facts of the case, for on Christian monuments found by Dr. B. Glaser in Yemen, the Sirwah inscription opens with the words, ‘In the power of the all-Merciful and His Messiah and the Holy Ghost.’ (Zwemer, Islam, p. 21.) To say the least, Muhammad here made a serious mistake, which it is difficult to reconcile with the verbal inspiration of the Qur’an. (The Historical Development Of The Qur’an, Edward Sell, 1869-1932, p 172)”

            So there you go. Like most Muslims you are brainwashed into thinking that what your so called religion says is 100% true. But it is nothing more than a mishmash of falsehoods and misrepresentations spread by force and terror.

          • Adam85

            Cool story old boy.. Someone might even imagine you had an agenda and no other purpose in life at this rate. You seem to be a big fan of the writings of Imperialist old boys from yesteryear. Edward Sell was an Anglican Anglican orientalist and missionary and your just as dead buddy Zwemer was an American Missionary. Academic
            balance certainly is not a factor here.

            I understand elderly gentleman often have a lot of time to kill and as an ex-Buddhist monk of 40 odd years you sure do have a lot to overcompensate for. I guess anything to while away the time in the long boring days of the of your
            sunset years.

            I don’t think it is worth countering anything you say rationally as you obviously need to do this to feel some sense of purpose and are too old to change your mind. Just as an aside, the last Surah in the Holy Quran is Surah An Nas, the one you mention is nowhere near the final one. I guess that’s the inherent risk of copy and pasting of your arguments. . Maybe we’re all just not as “super intelligent” or biased as you but you state “so there you go” as if you’ve proved anything. You really haven’t. Pseudo-Intellectualism seems to spring to mind.

          • Richard Baranov

            Thank you for your pointless input. Said nothing, The texts speak for themselves. From you, hot air comes to mind. Have a good day! And don’t expect any other reply from me.

          • Rose

            Your Quran is a mess of Satanic verses written by a fool who wa stricked by Satan.

    • Terry Field

      And it spread because all the other real civilisations were destroyed by catastrophic haemorrhagic fever from the upper Nile.

      • Richard Baranov

        I would not agree with that, not because it may be partially true, but because it ignores the main cause of Islam’s spread, that Islam has been unrelentingly violent to all non-Muslims since its inception.

    • Mahnoor

      Before you start commenting on such things, I highly recommend you pick up a trustworthy translation of the Quran and try understanding what it says. I bet you can’t find a single verse that complies with any of the rubbish you’ve written, or proves it is true.

      • Richard Baranov

        In my post above, I’m talking about the origins of Allah in Arabian history. You will find information concerning what I am saying in histories of pre-Islamic Arabia, obviously, so of course that information is not in the Koran. Before criticising you should learn to read accurately. And, since the Koran is a fraud perpetrated by an illiterate scoundrel, it is hardly a reliable source for anything.

    • Rose

      Richard you are perfectly true!
      Satan fooled Mohammed by ‘appearing as an angel of light’ – see 2 Corinthians 11:14-16.

      Satan hates Jesus and knows that Jesus will shortly come to bind him and ten destroy him foreever so for the moment Satan has th epower of ruling the earth and making people do his evil deeds.

      Jesus is God’s Son and has the ultimate last laugh over Satan and Islam by rasing all the dead.

  • Andrew Smith

    A Rabbi a Priest and an Imam all sit together in a discussion circle. The Priest says “oh but we all believe in the same God”. The Rabbi replies: “well if you mean the one without the son, then yes, I suppose we do.”

  • cestusdei

    Christians and Jews do worship the same God. He is not Zeus. Muslims, well the jury is still out on that one although the Church charitably will say that they do. When can we have Mass in one of their mosques?

    • AndrewMelville

      Let us pray that the abomination of the a mass is said no where in our realm.

      • cestusdei

        Spoken like a true bigot. So you don’t mind killing all the Catholics so that we can’t have Mass? That’s what it would take and you have tried it before.

        • AndrewMelville

          I have nothing against Roman Catholics. When did I express a wish to harm any Roman Catholic, let alone kill them all? Because you are so thick, I will answer my question for you – NEVER. That sick thought only occurred in your twisted mind. What an insane freak you are. Please reassure me that you are safely behind bars.

          • cestusdei

            You want to eliminate the Mass. To do that you must eliminate the Catholics. Now you admit you want to jail me. Bring back the penal laws, right?

          • AndrewMelville

            I don’t want to gaol you. I only hope that someone already has, since no one with your perverse ideas should be loose in public.

            I do wish the mass would disappear. I’m no fan of pagan magic cannibalism, since I am a Christian. I don’t wish the Roman Catholics harm by any means – that shtick is exclusively yours – rather I wish them joy, hoping that they might return to a Christian Church.

            There is no need for the penal laws nowadays. It has been a very long time since Roman Catholics acted upon the injuctions of the anti-Christ in Rome to act as traitors to their country. Hence no need for such harsh and unpleasant laws.

          • cestusdei

            Exactly my point. You want to gaol anyone who disagrees with you, esp. if they are Catholic. By banning the Mass you do us harm. You don’t believe in religious liberty and want to oppress Catholics. That makes you a bigot. Many Catholics have fought and died for the Crown, you are a disgrace for ignoring their sacrifice.

          • AndrewMelville

            You are deliberately and wilfully stupid. How do you get through the day without help? The only person who has talked of gaoling and banning is – YOU! I don’t want to compromise anyone’s religious liberty or to oppress Roman Catholics. You’re saying so makes you an idiot and a liar.

          • cestusdei

            I am not the one who says we should ban someone elses religious services and persecute them. That would be YOU. You brought it up, read your own posts! Be honest about what you want and the implications. You are an anti-Catholic bigot.

          • AndrewMelville

            No. Re – reading your posts is exactly what you should do. Because I don’t like the mass – being a Christian and not being a cannibal – you make unwarranted and wrong assumptions about my views on Roman Catholics and how I would liked to see them “killed”.

            You are rude, wrong and frankly insane.

            I will await your apology.

          • cestusdei

            Outlawing the Mass is religious persecution. That’s what you want. You are the one who is insane. I don’t wait for an apology because you will give none, bigots never do.

          • AndrewMelville

            You really need a course in remedial reading. I NEVER talked about outlawing the cannibalistic ritual called the Mass. I expressed a wish that it disappear. See the difference, thicko?

            You are rude, thick and illiterate. Other than that I’m sure you are no more unpleasant than a nasty attack of midges.

          • cestusdei

            Indeed you did. If someone says they wishes you would “disappear” it would imply something. You are rude, ignorant, and bigoted.

          • AndrewMelville

            And you are wrong, stupid and clearly unable to read. I have my doubts about your hygiene forebye.

          • cestusdei

            I have my doubts about your sanity.

          • AndrewMelville

            You should seek help

          • cestusdei

            Right back at ‘ya.

            http://www.catholic.com

          • AndrewMelville

            Enjoy your cannibal feast. When you’re done, consider converting to Christianity.

          • cestusdei

            Interesting that the pagans used to accuse Christians of cannibalism. I guess you would not have been accused of being a Christian. I used to be a Protestant, but then I learned the fulness of truth in the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    …Likewise, given that with religions ‘older was better’, they all
    competed in making airy professions of antiquity. Herodotus records
    Egyptian claims of gods going back over 345 generations….

    Well, there were people living in the Egyptian area and building dwellings around 30,000 years ago. Burials with grave goods, indicating a religion, was around in 6000 BC. So, if a generation is 20 years, that fits reasonably well with the claim…

  • Bonkim

    Christianity does not recognize Gods other than the one in the Bible. I am not a believer but by definition all religions stand on their own and are exclusive of the beliefs of the other/s.

  • David Booth

    And should that “prominent liberal cleric in London” pop along to his local Mosque seeking a little reciprocity I suspect he might be disappointed.

  • This church endorsed the ideology that actively throws off gays from buildings … what a “delicious gesture” this was from them.

  • Feminister

    Yahweh had a wife, Asherah. What happened to her?

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