If it quacks like a duck it’s probably Daffy
American shock jock Pat Robertson has stirred up another bit of controversy by saying on his show, the 700 Club (I think 700 refers to the number of angels one can fit on, or in, the head of CBN) that a man should divorce his wife who is suffering from Alzheimers.
Some Christian leaders are upset with him, divorce being a big no-no and all (thus no divorce in their communities) but Pat’s wild. He’s made a career of saying things that even other evangelists can condemn. I am sure that upon reading of Pat’s latest declaration, lots of good people shook their heads and muttered “he doesn’t represent Christianity.” That’s a nice sentiment but it’s not correct. The phrase should read: “he doesn’t represent MY Christianity.”
Reps at any faith dealership will tell you why they carry the only true line (the more progressive might say the truest line) on the block. How many faiths can you buy into within an hour’s drive? How many can you access through the web? Every one of them is the truest and all the others are wrong, or at least less true.
Right after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which devastated many people already living in a tough situation, Pat announced that the event was due to Haiti’s founders having sworn a pact with “the devil” over 200 years earlier. It’s pretty messed up, to think a grown man believing in “the devil.”
Or how about that time Robertson said that the Jews must retain control of Jerusalem, or at least look after it until evangelical Christians can run it for them, because in Pat’s words: “Jesus Christ the Messiah will come down to the part of Jerusalem that the Arabs want,” and that’s “not good.”
Jesus will “come down” to Jerusalem, with the great sound of a trumpet and bathed in sunlight I’m sure. With clothes whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them, he’ll land on a bit of highly valued real estate. I think The 700 Club could up the zazz level here; why not Jesus in a tricked out UFO blaring Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky?” Throw Mohammad and Sasquatch in there too. They could spin a reality show out of it.
And Pat isn’t alone. Other guys (it is still mostly a guy’s game) are out there working day and night (even on Sunday sometimes) to keep us all entertained. A few months back Harold Camping proclaimed that the Judgement Day was upon us (“coming to a town near you”). Of course it really did happen, and we’ve been fighting zombies and kudzu ever since, but I’m always surprised when someone actually names a specific date and time for a prediction. Leave the details out, make it vague! Just say something like, “I’ll be right back” and then leave. If you play your cards right there will be people expecting you for a long long time.
Every faith tradition has beliefs which adherents are deadly serious (sometimes literally) about but are just plain laughable. These aren’t just the fringe beliefs, we’re talking ones at the core of the tradition. Muslims believe the Koran itself is a miracle delivered from none other than Allah himself and “there are a lot of people who think that crystals have power. They don’t.” Mormons have holy underwear (giggle) and some Jews transfer their sins onto chickens.
It’s always the other guy’s faith that’s really nuts. Most faith peddlers don’t get as much press as Pat Robertson with his bizarre comedy but every faithsertion is equal to every other one as far as it goes with faith. Some faithsertions are more reasonable then others but once we’re talking reason we’re leaving faith behind. Every faithsertion has just as much (in)validity as every other faithsertion, the only difference is popularity.
Greg Lammers is the American Atheists Missouri State Director. He works with freethought groups and individuals in the state and the region to promote secular values and godlessness. He lives in Columbia Missouri with his wife Katie and their young son Henry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org