Hallelujah! I’m back from my travels and spiritually renewed! Indeed, I’ve been bitten folks! Yes, bitten with the bug of faith! I’ve got religion guys! In a big way! In fact, I’m using this editorial to announce the formation of my new faith: The Church of Jesus Christ the Atheist. For too long now we non-believers have had to suffer being treated like second-class citizens, with the theists looking down their noses at us and pitying us for our supposed lack of moral compass and our pathetic inability to place our faith in higher powers. In truth – don’t they have a point? Let’s all be honest here and admit that we’ve all been deluding ourselves by believing that we could go through life with no focus for our lack of faith? Haven’t we all secretly envied the arcane, yet reassuring, rituals of the church? Admit it – there have been times when you longed to be part of a congregation of the like minded, organising tea parties and fetes, haven’t there? Don’t you always wish you had some pious-sounding pithy response for every moral dilemma or global disaster? It’s like Karl Marx (one of greatest prophets) said, religion is the opiate of the masses – and now we non-believers want our fix too! Well my faithless brothers and sisters, you need not yearn for such things any longer! Thanks to the Church of Jesus Christ the Atheist, you too will be able to sit on cold hard wooden pew in a draughty, yet architecturally impressive, ‘church’, singing the praises of Godlessness! I’m asking you all to donate generously, so that I can start the construction of our ‘First Church’ which will become the model, I fervently hope, for many, many similar places of worship. Obviously, such a building must do full justice to our cause, and I want to be able to match the full pomp and circumstance of the established churches in this country. I’m planning to have a full set of stained glass windows, each one depicting a great rationalist ‘saint’ being persecuted by religious zealots – we must never forget the martyrdom of the likes of Galileo and Christopher Marlowe!
But just what has Jesus Christ, the Son of God, got to do with atheism, I hear you ask. Well, haven’t you often thought of how the teachings of Christ – love thy neighbour, I am my brother’s keeper and that business about, camels, needles and rich blokes – actually form quite a reasonable philosophy by which to conduct one’s life, if only they weren’t tainted by religion? I know I have. But fear not, the solution is close at hand: remove God from the equation and we can co-opt Jesus! It’s easier than you might think – nowhere in the Testaments does Christ actually claim to be the Son of God! Oh no – he actually describes himself as the ‘Son of Man’. Son of Man, eh? Obviously a humanist, and it’s a small leap from Jesus Christ the Humanist, to Jesus Christ the Atheist! So, I say to you all, it’s OK to bring Jesus into our lives. If we drop all the supernatural nonsense, then the story of Jesus becomes the story of a man persecuted for his rationalist teachings (and we can all identify with that). After all, wasn’t he actually challenging the religious orthodoxies of his day, telling the masses that they didn’t need all that superstitious mumbo jumbo? The just needed a simple set of guidelines (which make no mention of God) in order to live in peace? By cutting out the religious angle, we can pursue his teachings in their purest form – we’re doing the right thing, not because we think it might help us get into heaven, but because it is the right thing! Isn’t that really what religion always claims: that goodness is its own reward? Clearly they have no faith in their own congregations, as they have to tempt their followers into living righteous lives with vague promises of eternal paradise and dire threats of damnation! In truth, only we atheists can do this concept true justice – our actions are not motivated by such crude considerations.
So, by co-opting the theists’ most powerful icon we can answer their tiresome claims that we cannot have a moral base for our lives, because we lack faith in a higher power. Well, now we do have a higher power – man himself! The Son of Man has shown us the way to live and given us our moral code, and guess what? It’s the same as yours! The difference is, we take it seriously! Isn’t it ironic that the Christians have as a saviour a man who was persecuted for his beliefs, when they themselves have spent centuries persecuting us for our lack of belief? Well, now we’ve claimed him as our own and we’re going to turn the tables! The only way to fight the religious hordes is to adopt their tactics: we have to out-Holy them, become more righteous than even they can be! They seem to think that organised worship is the key to righteousness – fine, we’ll organise too, we’ll hold Godless communions to celebrate our lack of faith. They bring everything back to the bloody Bible claiming it represents the true word of God. OK, we’ll create our own ‘Bible’ which explains everything – starting with the creation of the universe (‘In the beginning was the Big Bang’), and continuing with the emergence of life on earth and its evolution into higher forms (‘And in the Quaternary period evolution came up with man’). Trust me, this is the only way. If we are to deliver the world from the irrationality of the squabbling religious hordes, we have to start converting people to our cause, and apparently the only way to do that successfully is to organise, build churches and preach the message of non-belief. Damn it – we’ve got to start sending missionaries into the bastions of fundamentalism: Iran, Iraq, the US and the Vatican, just for starters! Remember, only we can deliver the world from madness! So, my unbelieving brothers and sisters, let’s join hands and not thank God for our lack of faith! Instead, let us rejoice in the clarity of vision our atheism confers on us! Hallelujah! Until the next sermon, my children of men, just remember to keep it sleazy – it’ll save you from salvation!