The other day, while I was driving to where I was going to be playing ultimate frisbee, I saw a great bumper sticker that read “Jesus Christ loves the HELL out of you.” I laughed at this, but afterwards wondered whether it was something I (an atheist) should be laughing at.

I decided that yes, it was something I should laugh at. Not because the concept is humorous; the notions of sin and Hell — and Jesus’/God’s complicated role in their interaction — are more contradictory than funny. Rather, I realized that any jokes related to religion are not really meant for overly religious people. They are for those who do not take the concept of religion seriously.

For someone who takes religion seriously (and by seriously I mean really believing that if you don’t do the rituals correctly or believe the necessary things, bad things will happen to you after you die), it’s a matter of life and death. Actually, it’s worse than life and death. Death is death, this is eternal torment we’re talking about. Someone who takes this stuff this seriously cannot risk laughing at a bumper sticker like the one I saw the other day.

And this seems to be prevalent not only in orthodox branches of religions. Religious people in general, I think, have a sort of reverence for the establishment of religion. They might not feel that if they make fun of Jesus or the Bible they will go to Hell (they might not even believe in Hell) but they might refrain from poking fun at it because it is so embedded in society. To laugh at (or criticize, especially) religion is to declare oneself against society’s traditions, in a way.

Then you have religions like Islam, where it’s actually dangerous to make jokes!


Nevertheless, I think the faithful need to start adding some humor to religion. They need to make it fun, cool, sexy. I have no idea how to fully accomplish that, and it may actually be impossible. It may be too late. But if they actually want to try, they can start with injecting a little humor.

A good example (in my opinion) of some “sacrilegious/religious humor” was a facebook status I had a while back:

I understand why God made Sunday a day of rest… I can’t do anything productive after a night of drunken shenanigans, either.

Do I believe in God? No. Do I think the God I don’t believe in created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh? No. But I took that widely-held belief and spiced it up with a little humor.

Religious people are going to need to start doing this, lest they become tired and boring. Ahem, I guess I mean more tired and boring. Religion is already a very unfashionable thing to be into. Though I’m not sure whether such heretical humor would bring more people to the faith, or cause more people to leave it. Perhaps the seriousness of religion is what compels people to stick with it. If it wasn’t serious business they might not bother.

However religious people want to sell religion, be it with or without humor, I think it will be a win for people who dislike it. If they use humor, the blow to the seriousness of the whole enterprise might cause God to be finally removed from public discourse. If they don’t use humor, more and more people will leave the faith as they feel more and more ostracized by the rest of society.

Anyway, anyone know any funny sacrilegious stuff? Any good links? Post ’em in the comments! 🙂

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com