A cracker is not a god (Crackergate)

18 March 2010

Video | ZJ on YouTube | Subscribe

ZJ: Some people have asked me about my opinion of the incident now known as "Crackergate". For anyone who's not familiar with the events in question, here's what happened: A few atheists from YouTube were invited to a Catholic church. So, out of curiosity, they went to a service. They didn't disrupt anything, they helped with collections, and they took communion. Afterwards, they poked fun at the Catholic doctrine that a communion wafer is literally the flesh of Jesus, and posted a video about it. Apparently some other atheists didn't like this, because they felt it was disrespectful to go to a church service just to joke about it. Eventually this dispute spiraled into a widespread controversy among atheists on YouTube, and that is where the situation now stands.

First of all, this entire series of events does not even deserve to be called "Crackergate". This is not a "-gate", it could hardly be considered a scandal, and it clearly does not merit the "-gate" suffix. Henceforth, I'll be referring to it as "the cracker thing", because that's all it is: a thing. They went to church, they went through the motions, they didn't make a scene, and apparently they even enjoyed it.

If the issue is that they attended a service for a religion they don't believe in, churches are typically fine with that, because it means that more people are being exposed to their message. Although if you're into the whole church tourism thing, there are plenty of denominations that are far more interesting than the Catholics. If you can find one of the more enthusiastic Pentecostal churches, you could have the rare opportunity to convulse on the floor while babbling nonsense in a place where that's considered completely normal. I do hope that our intrepid atheists will try this next—I'm sure it's more fun than a mass.

Now, if the issue is that they filmed the proceedings, that's really not much of a violation. There are recordings of church services all over YouTube; sometimes, people bring cameras to church. That's why we get to see Benny Hinn knocking people over by waving his hands at them. That's why we got to see the Pope getting knocked over at the Christmas Eve mass. Did you see how many people had cameras there? This is not some novel and shocking transgression they've committed.

But perhaps the most common objection raised was that they failed to treat the church and the communion wafer with the appropriate respect. And I don't agree with that. Given that they were among people who either honestly believe or profess to believe that their god incarnates himself into cookies for them to eat, I think they definitely showed the appropriate respect. A belief like that is obviously something to make fun of, because it's just really funny. And it's also quite sad, because this is just one of many similarly absurd beliefs that form the foundation of the Catholic Church. To them, this is their reality—they act on these beliefs.

Let's be clear about what this means. This is a church that opposed a life-saving abortion for a 9-year-old who was pregnant with twins by her own stepfather. This is a church that collects millions of dollars from its parishioners for political campaigns to destroy the rights of gay people. This is a church that tells African nations that using condoms will actually increase the spread of HIV rather than reduce it. This is a church where known child rapists were simply transferred elsewhere to rape again, and the current pope facilitated this coverup by ordering that these crimes be kept secret from the authorities.

Do you understand what's going on here? The beliefs of the church are not just issues of theoretical theology, or different points of view to be respected regardless. These are people's lives. Right now there are people who can't get married in California and Maine because of the church. Right now there are women who don't have access to safe and legal abortion because of the church's influence. Right now there are gay teenagers who hate themselves because the church says they're "morally evil" for loving someone. Right now there are children at risk of being raped because of the church. Right now there are people dying of AIDS because of the church.

And for what? Why are they doing this? All of the hate, the waste, the lies, the abuse, the rape, the disease, the death, it's all for nothing. All in the name of a god that doesn't even exist. And no, I am not going to qualify that with a "probably" or a "most likely", because at this point, the only justification any borderline honest believer can resort to is the pitiful excuse of "you can't prove there isn't". Well, that's not good enough. When the cost of your faith is measured in human lives, there is no excuse.

If the question is one of respect, here we have a church that disrespects humanity in every possible way because it can't let go of mythology. So no, I see very little to respect about the church or its beliefs, let alone the preposterous Christ-cracker doctrine. Whatever these atheists may have done in that church, which appears to be nothing at all, it is certainly dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of evil that the church represents. And if they want to show us exactly how much respect they have for the insane beliefs of a church that places dogma before decency... go for it.

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