I've always been a big fan of The Onion, and this week I had to pass along what I thought was a particularly awesome bit of work from them.
Introducing The Onion Book of Known Knowledge, clearly the greatest encyclopedia in world history, and also the source of this week's Quote of the Week. I present to you the introduction to the Book's entry on "Christianity", the world's most popular religion.
This week's QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Christianity, monotheistic religion occasionally rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom Christians regard as the son of God and a sometimes-convenient model for their own values and behavior. Christ promulgated charity, humility, nonviolence, and other virtues that Christians once in a while regard as sacrosanct and that, when sporadically adhered to, demonstrate the path to a righteous life. The world’s 2.2 billion Christians consider Jesus a messianic figure who will deliver to heaven all who conduct themselves as he did when the mood strikes them and if they have the time."
- The Onion Book of Known Knowledge
I think the timing of this little takedown is particularly apt, given the interesting (though rarely discussed) religious undertones which underlie our current Presidential election. With an ever-increasing population of evangelical Christians among the voting ranks, especially in many of the nation's swing states, the opinion of the so-called "Christian right" is typically heard very loudly in November.
In this election, those voters are faced with a bit of a dilemma—the sitting President is a practicing Christian whom many people believe is secretly a Muslim, whereas the Republican challenger is a high-ranking official of the Mormon church, which many Christians sneeringly deride as a cult. This has led to some strange and awkward moments for religious conservatives like Billy Graham, who recently had to remove Mormonism from his "list of cults" so as to encourage his followers to vote for Romney instead of Obama. These are strange times indeed for the Christians in our nation, many of whom are not sure exactly what to do in two weeks.
Of course, I must admit that The Onion's criticisms are hardly unique to Christianity—they could just as easily be applied to Islam, for example—but their short satirical summary certainly does give some food for thought, while possibly helping to explain people like this and places like this. No, not all Christians (or religious people of any persuasion) are bad people or hypocrites, but neither are all churchgoers good or honest people. One does not necessarily lead to the other, even though many people do profess to be good citizens and members of their community simply because they regularly attend services on Sunday. It's a pet peeve of mine, and it's a significant reason behind my personal disillusionment with the church during my adulthood.
Yes, I recognize that I'm treading on a third rail here, foolishly discussing both religion and politics at the same time—typically, it's advisable to talk about neither, under any circumstances. But with a possibly pivotal Presidential election hanging in the balance, it's simply no longer possible to ignore the elephant in the room. Whichever way voters lean in November, religion (and race) will certainly have a big role to play.