Listen up, my bearded and veily friends!
“I’d like to start this week with a request, and this one goes out to the followers of the three Abrahamic religions: the Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It’s just a little thing, really, but do you think that when you’ve finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privileges while you do it, do you think that maybe the rest of us could sort of have our planet back? I wouldn’t ask, but I’m starting to think that there must be something written in the special books that each of you so enjoy referring to that it’s ok to behave like special, petulant, pugnacious, pricks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistent, power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off. It’s mainly the extremists obviously, but not exclusively. It’s a lot of ‘main-streamers’ as well. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
Muslims: listen up my bearded and veily friends! Calm down, ok? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that said about you is an attack on the prophet Mohammed and Allah that needs to end in the infidel being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down and chill out. I mean seriously, what’s wrong with a strongly-worded letter to The Times?
Christians: you and your churches don’t get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all. They’re your bloody rules; either stick to them or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral. Oh, and stop pretending you’re celibate — it’s a cover-up for being a gay or a nonce. Right, that’s two ticked off.
Jews! I know you’re god’s ‘Chosen People’ and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent, psychopathic bully and someone mentions it that doesn’t make them anitsemitic. And for the record, your troubled history is not a license to act with impunity now.
So, when the letters come (and I’m guessing they will), I can gaurantee that each one of those faiths will be convinced that I’ve singled them out for special criticism.
[In mock Arabic accent] Why did it have to be us? Islam is a peaceful faith!
[In upper class British accent] I don’t see what’s wrong with being Christian? We’re a peaceful, loving faith.
[In affronted, huffy voice] How dare you after all we’ve been through! We Jews know how terrible violence can be.
You see, all of them will be convinced that they’re the ones being picked on. The Abrahamic faiths are like scousers: they’re always convinced they [in scouser accent} have it harder than everyone else.
And why is it that all of these faiths claim to be peaceful, when even a most fleeting glance at a history of warfare will tell you otherwise? The relationship between religion and warfare is very similar to the relationship between Ant and Deck: you could have one without the other, but I’m not sure anyone would see the point. I wouldn’t actually like it, but it would be refreshing to hear one of them come out and say [in working class London accent] “Our faith’s violent as you like. We love a scrap, us lot, we do. Our special book says ‘fight fight smash maim murder kill fight fight.’ That’s why I signed up to be honest. I’m a bit naught, know what I mean?” But yet all of them claim to be peaceful religions. Yeah, peaceful right up to the point where someone takes something they think is theirs, or says the wrong thing or looks at them funny. Then it’s fighty smashy kicky punchy all the way. I know this’ll upset a lot of people and frankly I don’t care. I’m getting so sick of religious people screwing it up for the rest of us.
Please don’t kill us, seriously. As far as I’m concerned this is the only chance we get. When we die it’s all over — there’s no virgins and pearly gates waiting for us, no big, beardy man saying [in deep, echoing voice and upper class accent] “Right, so how do you think that went, then? Killed a lot of people in my name I see. Not really what I had in mind. Um, tell you what, have another go as a worm.”
While we’re at it, I’m sick of religious people forcing their children to define themselves by their parents’ faith. A four-year-old is no more a Christian than he is a member of the Postal Workers’ union. [in child’s voice] “We want a fair working wage, decent working conditions, and time allotted to see the new Transformers film.”
This week Lydia Playfoot, who took Millay School in Horsham to the high court so she could wear jewelry to prove she’s staying a virgin for Jesus, lost her case. Good. I’m glad. I don’t care how many times her parents claim it was her idea, rules is rules, and if you want to wear a ring that tells everyone you’re not having any sex you can get married like the rest of us. Now, the lawyer for the chaste Miss Playfoot said the question for the judge was ‘What are the religious rights of school children in the school context?’ Well, I’m no judge (not yet, anyway), but if you want my opinion, none. No rights. No religious rights whatsoever. Schools are for learning. If you want to have a little pray before maths so that Mr. Figures won’t set too hard a test, or prevent the P.E. teacher from being a colossal pervert, then go head, fill your boots. If you want to pop on a feathered headdress and chant and dance and mumble and sacrifice something you can do that on your own time. (Or take a drama course, pretend it’s art, and get a degree in it. That’s what I did.) The lawyer, Mr. Diamond, argued “secular authorities cannot rule on religious truth.” Hmm. Well, Mr. Diamond, I’m going to assume you’re not related to Neil Diamond, because he rocks. Yes, I like Neil Diamond. And Prince. And I’m married — go figure. But the point is “religious truth” is a foxy one, because religion, by it’s very nature, doesn’t tend to concern itself with truth. There simply isn’t time for truth. By the time all the singing and candle-lighting and toadying and condemning and hiding from science is done truth has given up and gone down to the pub for a pint. Here’s the truth: faith is about as interested in truth as I am in hanging out with Anthony Warrel Thompson, ie, not very.
Now, I know that most religious folk are moderate and reasonable and wear tidy jumpers and eat cheese, like real people. And on hearing this they’ll mainly feel pity for me, rather than issue a death sentence. But they have to accept that they are the power base for the nutters. Without their passive support the loonies in charge of these faiths would just be loonies, safely locked away and medicated — somewhere nice with a view of some trees where they can claim they have a direct channel to god between sessions making tapestry coasters, watching Teletubbies and talking about their days in the Hitler Youth. The ordinary faithful make these vicious, tyrannical thugs what they are. See, I get angry that show like Celebrity and Big Brother and insert-title-of-wretched-show-here still fill our lives with vapid, pointless emptiness, and I wish the producers’ development executives would crawl back under the rocks they emerged from, but the truth is they sell stuff that people consume. Without the audience to prop it up, Heat magazine and fundamental religious fanaticism goes away. Imagine what humanity might be capable of if we had that much spare time! We could explore space properly, have decent look in the sea, find a cure for James Blunt, anything!
Thank you very much. Letters to the usual address.”
Marcus Brigstocke – The Now Show, BBC4