The Winners Are…

I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing I’ve been chewing my nails over (sorry, Jesus) more than the Public Option it’s the results of Center for Inquiry’s “Blasphemy Day” Competition.

You hadn’t heard? BD was an event designed to bring out the puckishness in organized atheism.

And high time. A lot of people think that atheists aren’t funny. Except Bill Maher. He’s very funny. But a lot of people think you have to be a Jew to be funny–a Groucho or a Seinfeld.

A lot of people think Muslims aren’t very funny but my Iraqi girlfriend, Yasmine, tells me that “infidels just don’t get it” and that I won’t either if I keep watching re-runs of Curb Your Enthusiasm and You Bet Your Life.

The idea behind having a contest was to prove to religious people that their religion is ridiculous. Of course, a lot of religious people know that already, but there’s nothing they like better than a little God-bashing to remind them.

It takes an atheist to bring religion down to comic size. An atheist like P Z Myers who teaches at the University of Minnesota. Myers is famous for snatching a Catholic communion host and driving a spike (no, I don’t know how long) into it, along with a page from the Koran, and a page of Richard Dawkins’s God Delusion.

Believe or not, he was not struck dead, but he was charged by the Library with defacing university property.

According to Myers, the point of BD was to “mock and insult religion without fear of murder, violence, and reprisal.” He says he wants every day to be Blasphemy Day. Personally, unless they include a gift-giving component I’ll stick with Christmas, but let’s wait and see how it plays out.

Meantime we have the winners. Sit down.

Ken Peters of California was first prize winner, a T-shirt and coffee cup.

His contribution, a pithy four word aphorism–“Faith is no reason.” I guess that’s Blasphemy Lite–sounds a little like Thomas Aquinas to me.

The others in no special order of offensiveness,

“There’s no religion like no religion,” submitted by Daniel Boles of Thailand, inspired by John Lennon and Ethel Merman. (Hold on to that Peace Corps job, Dan.)

“I wouldn’t even follow your god on Twitter,” submitted by Michael Hein of South Carolina, inspired by Yo’-Mama jokes.

“The reason religious beliefs need protection from ridicule is that they are ridiculous,” Michael Nugent of Ireland, inspired by a total disregard of how that slogan would look on a coffee mug.

“I survived the God virus,” submitted by Perry Bulwer of British Columbia, Canada, in a desperate attempt to prove that Canadians can be outrageous.

There were also a couple of limericks. Here’s one I didn’t understand:

“Minds harbor incongruous memes:
Religion and fairytale dreams.
Relentlessly nutty,
They turn brains to putty,
Inculcating scurrilous schemes.”

Rumour has it that some top-notch submissions arrived too late for consideration:

“Take this God and shove it” submitted by recently-deposed bishop, John McNakerney of Angel Falls, MN; “Who needs the devil when my wife still prowls the earth,” by Sol Wasserstein of Glencove, NJ, and “He only rested one day, you, you sit in that chair like it’s a throne for six,” by Ethel Wasserstein of Glencove, NJ. “Gods don’t kill people, people do because there is no God” was cited as the most confused but strangely accurate late submission.

Don’t worry if you missed the suspense and the playoffs. CFI has a new treat in store as part of its “Campaign for Free Expression.”

A cartoon contest. “We’re looking for sophisticated hard-hitting ideas and images that pose serious questions about belief and disbelief–cartoons that prod readers to think as they laugh (or maybe cry).”

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