LISBON — A row broke out in Portugal on Monday after a Nobel Prize-winning author denounced the Bible as a “handbook of bad morals”.
Speaking at the launch of his new book “Cain”, Jose Saramago, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, said society would probably be better off without the Bible.
Roman Catholic Church leaders accused the 86-year-old of a publicity stunt.
The book is an ironic retelling of the Biblical story of Cain, Adam and Eve’s son who killed his younger brother Abel.
At the launch event in the northern Portuguese town of Penafiel on Sunday, Saramago said he did not think the book would offend Catholics “because they do not read the Bible”.
“The Bible is a manual of bad morals (which) has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different, and probably better people,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency Lusa.
Saramago attacked “a cruel, jealous and unbearable God (who) exists only in our heads” and said he did not think his book would cause problems for the Catholic Church “because Catholics do not read the Bible.
“It might offend Jews, but that doesn’t really matter to me,” he added.
Father Manuel Marujao, the spokesman for the Portuguese conference of bishops, said he thought the remarks were a publicity stunt.
“A writer of Jose Saramago’s standing can criticise, (but) insults do no-one any good, particularly a Nobel Prize winner,” the priest said.
Rabbi Elieze Martino, spokesman for the Jewish community in Lisbon, said the Jewish world would not be shocked by the writings of Saramago or anyone else.
“Saramago does not know the Bible,” the rabbi said, “he has only superficial understanding of it.”
The author caused a scandal in Portugal in 1992 with “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.”
The book depicted Jesus losing his virginity to Mary Magdalene and being used by God to control the world.
Saramago quit Portugal at the time and moved to Lanzarote, in the Spanish Canary Islands.
Trump can’t attack Kamala Harris without contradicting his own message: Bakari Sellers
On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former South Carolina lawmaker Bakari Sellers broke down why Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) poses such a challenge for President Donald Trump.
"What we're seeing with the two parties is the narrow focus is going to be on the fact that Donald Trump and the Trump campaign have no way, and they do not know how to deal, with Kamala Harris," said Sellers. "It very difficult to say 'Kamala is a cop' and be a 'law and order president.' Those two things simply do not mesh. Not only ahistorical and inaccurate, but the messages, they collide."
"But second, it shows that the Republican Party and Democratic Party are going in two vastly different directions," continued Sellers. "The country is becoming more diverse, the country is becoming more brown. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent the demographics of what the country will be, and Donald Trump and Steven Miller and Mike Pence represent a day that's passed. So what I would say tonight is while Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to cheer on the Confederacy, we're trying to re-imagine what this country will look like. It goes back to a time where Americans can feel good about being first and about thinking about what our country can be: full of hope and faith."
WATCH: Tucker Carlson flips out after guest teaches him how to pronounce ‘Kamala Harris’
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson repeated mispronounced the first name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is Joe Biden's running mate.
"On Fox, Tucker Carlson keeps calling her KAM-uh-luh, which is not how it's pronounced," Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel noted.
He linked to a tweet with a picture of Harris explaining in her memoir how to pronounce her name.
Harris wrote, "my name is pronounced 'comma-la' like the punctuation mark. It means 'lotus flower,' which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom."
Bishop falsely claims Joe Biden is not a Catholic — and it doesn’t go well for him
On Tuesday, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island attacked former Vice President Joe Biden's faith, claiming that he is not really a Catholic.
Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.
— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) August 11, 2020
Biden is a lifelong, practicing Catholic, and he was also on the 2012 ticket, so Tobin's claim doesn't make any sense. But Tobin is an extreme right-wing firebrand with a history of politicizing the church — in 2007 he denied communion to former Rep. Patrick Kennedy for his pro-choice views, and in 2019 he called Gay Pride events "harmful for children" and demanded Catholics not attend them.