^ Groups like Westboro are actually the natural outcome of the kinds of belief systems put forward by knapp. "If the Bible is to be trusted, then it has to all be literally true, in the context that we as 21st century Americans read it." Well how do we read it in a straight forwarded literal sense? We read that God is a genocidal maniac ready to strike out at any time in wrath.
If the only thing you get from a literal reading of the Bible is that God is a genocidal maniac, you may need to re-read it.
The Westboro Baptists are nutters. They aren't a product of anyone's belief system but their own. Putting that on me is a way of minimizing my argument and it's intellectually unfair.
If you give the texts a proper shake, though, you can come to a very reasonable conclusion that the God of the OT was presented in a way that ancient near eastern people would have understood God - namely, a being concerned with their military might and the acquisition of land. Same thing with the Ark of the Covenant - God dwelt inside the arc, because that was the sort of thing that different gods did around Mesopatamia back then. The Bible is a constantly, highly contextualized dialogue about what exactly this God really is, and the culmination is in Jesus, who preached love, grace, forgiveness, and non-violence.
You could also come to the very reasonable conclusion that the god of the Old Testament is no different than any other god of the region, that he changed and took on forms of other religions as the Hebrews were influenced by them, and that following a progression of their history and the religions of the peoples they interacted with shows that their god is no more real than Baal, Ammon, or any other god of the time.