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Could you please explain to me what the meaning of the sentence is?

That’s their god, and they whore after it.

The full text is here:

God couldn’t abide faithlessness, Dad said. That’s why the most hateful sinners were those who wouldn’t make up their minds, who used herbs and medication both, who came to Mother on Wednesday and saw their doctor on Friday—or, as Dad put it, “Who worship at the altar of God one day and offer a sacrifice to Satan the next.” These people were like the ancient Israelites because they’d been given a true religion but hankered after false idols. “Doctors and pills,” Dad said, nearly shouting. “That’s their god, and they whore after it.

Educated by Tara Westover

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    It's a usage typical of old-time tub-thumping religious nutters. Semantically and syntactically it's more than a little confusing. What the speaker means is these people "prostitute" themselves (debase themselves, as it's assumed is what prostitutes do when they sell their bodies for sex), by "worshipping" modern medical practice rather than the speaker's "one true God". But you'd probably be well advised not to use the idiom to whore after [bad things] in your own speech. – FumbleFingers Jun 5 '18 at 18:40
  • @FumbleFingers Why "whore after" is worst than the description that you have done of "whore"? The author is not using the idiom? collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/whore-after – RubioRic Jun 5 '18 at 19:08
  • @FumbleFingers: +1. Agreed but you would do well to elaborate upon old-time. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 5 '18 at 21:10
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo: I've probably already offended plenty of people with tub-thumping religious nutters, without getting bogged down in explaining the additional negative connotations of old-time there! Seriously, when I posted that first comment I knew it wasn't an adequate "Answer", because I couldn't easily find anything like a dictionary definition of the rather unusual idiomatic to whore after [something the fervently religious speaker disapproves of]. Happily, I now see that RubioRic has found exactly the relevant definition. – FumbleFingers Jun 6 '18 at 12:53
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A "whore" is a prostitute. Here the writer is using it as a verb, meaning to have sexual relations with a prostitute or perhaps simply to desire a prostitute.

In conventional Jewish and Christian theology, if someone who calls himself a Jew or a Christian also worships some other god, that is compared to prostitution. The Bible says that the Christian Church is the "bride" of Christ. So if being a Christian can be compared to being married to God, than also worshipping some other God would be like consorting with a prostitute. Like a cheating wife, you are not being faithful to God but splitting your attentions.

I'm not sure if "Dad" in the story is supposed to be a Jew or a Christian or something else, but apparently the same idea. The thinking in the paragraph you quote appears to be that going to a doctor and taking medicine is somehow being unfaithful to God. I guess "Dad" here thinks that if you truly believe in God, you should only use herbs and prayers to "Mother" and not medicine and doctors. (So if he's a Christian he's one who hasn't read his Bible, as Jesus specifically said that the sick should see a doctor, Mark 2:17. But the point here, I presume, is to discuss the grammar and not the theology.)

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    Dad is a fanatic mormon. – Peace Jun 5 '18 at 19:01
  • @Peace - That explains a lot. – J.R. Jun 6 '18 at 0:41
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@Jay has done a good description in his answer and he may be right but I think that the meaning used in the text corresponds (as pointed by @FumbleFingers) to

whore (verb)

Debase oneself by doing something for unworthy motives, typically to make money

Or just doing something unworthy in the eyes of Dad. Something unholy in relation with his religion. Something comparable with prostitution. Dad didn't like at all education nor medicines. Visiting a doctor or taking medicines is blasphemous because he somehow establish a relation between those things and not being a good christian or mormon.

Collins Dictionary offers a more accurate meaning

whore

  1. (often foll by after) to seek that which is immoral, idolatrous, etc

Apart from the religious aspect, references to sex are implicit in the text. With whore but also with hankered

hanker

Feel a strong desire for or to do something

Dad is comparing the urge for sex (whore, tanker) with the need for medicines. He despises people who can not resist the temptation and, instead of curing themselves just praying and trusting in God, go to the doctor.

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