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Rant Control

Atheist-Mormon Affinity

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // April 27,2011 - Sean Gallacher wrote a letter to City Weekly suggesting that satirizing Mormons like Broadway’s The Book of Mormon does is kind of trite [“Laughing at Atheists,” April 21, City Weekly]. Gallacher asked, why not satirize atheists? 

Aboo Caprawalie was incredulous that atheists—who rarely formally proselytize—have the raw material for decent comedy.

“I am a seventh-day atheist and welcome any satire targeting my lack of belief in an almighty, angels, saints and miracles,” Aboo Caprawalie said. “I think a satire on atheists will probably offend believers, as it may be more of a spoof on them than the nonbelievers.”

linked to a video in which Australian comic John Safran does some door-to-door proselytizing on behalf of atheism—quoting Darwin and XTC’s ’80s pop hit “Dear God” along the way. But it makes fun of missionaries, not atheism.

But atheist JC manages to emphasize. 

“Both Mormons and atheists are very misunderstood. Both have big problems with PR and portrayals in the media, and both tend to be very well-read on the subject of theology,” JC wrote. “So I tend to commiserate ... when people make fun of Mormonism, though I admit I have very little intellectual respect for their beliefs.”

Empathy lacking respect: And they say there’s no material for satirizing atheists!

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Posted // April 27,2011 at 15:42

I am an atheist and an ex-mormon. I tend to feel some sympathy toward mormons, as I see the LDS religion as no more far fetched than the religion of the people who generally ridicule them.

That being said, I would like to see how one could ridicule an atheist and be funny. It's one thing to take a belief that is absurd and turn it around on someone, but to take someone's lack of belief in something and try to make fun of them would indeed take lots of work, especially since it's not like someone not believing that the sun exists or something similarly testable.


Posted // April 28,2011 at 09:22 - You are right-on, GL! It cracks me up to hear Baptists call the LDS religion a "cult." They are all cults. They require complete obedience to principles taught by a few, they require money out of your pocket into theirs for the Salvation Warranty to kick in (if you ever want to see Granny on the other side, you'll donate and be obedient 'til it hurts), and anyone who beleives differently is to be forgiven, but chastised for being on the wrong track. Christ's teachings replaced the Roman and Greek tradition of multiple gods and godesses for everything that their developing cultures couldn't. The Greeks believed that the Sun was really a god in a chariot pulling a flaming ball across the sky. Jesus comes along and modernizes it: It's really just a single entity, people, and He happens to be my Father, so go screw yourselves. I'm right and you're wrong. . .oh, and by the way, there's no room for women to lead. Since my Dad replaced all those male and female dieties, we're going to go froward with men in charge." Next thing I know, I've got two adolescent, scrubbed-pink, white boys knocking on my door to tell me that they've heard of the church I was raised in ("Yeah, that's cool") BUT they know in their hearts that theirs is the one, TRUE religion.


Posted // April 27,2011 at 12:23

Actually, it's been done already. C.S. Lewis has done some excellent (but gentle) ribbing of atheism in several of his works, both nonfiction and fiction. See The Great Divorce, Mere Christianity, Miracles, and his space trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength).

In general it is much harder to do and requires a lot more set-up. Many (though not all) atheists spend their lives studiously avoiding any exposure to ridicule. Believing in nothing is a good way to insulate yourself from ever having the appearance of being "taken in", which appearance is what most satire is founded on.

That very fact is the only angle by which they can be ridiculed, but it is a very highbrow sort of humor that perhaps doesn't really fit the label "satire". It takes a very mature perspective to see the humor in someone avoiding belief in anything larger than himself in order to avoid exposure to scorn. Most audiences are not very mature, and therefore this sort of satire doesn't have a very large market.


Posted // April 27,2011 at 13:53 - Interesting examples, insightful points. I don't agree with your perception that atheists are avoiding belief in anything larger than themselves. That characterization shows a poor understanding of atheist philosophy and humanism. It could be that people who appreciate that type of satire have a "very mature perspective", or it could be that our philosophy just isn't very funny (as opposed to say, Mormon theology or Scientology, which would sound pretty bizarre to an outside observer).


Posted // April 27,2011 at 09:05

Ha, interesting to see my comment used here. I'm afraid you don't seem to understand the difference between empathy and respect, though, Mr. Fruhwirth. Let me give you another example: my Mormon friend from the above andecdote has talked to me about my homosexuality. She empathized, saying that she has struggles in her life that she sees as trials from God. She was quick to tell me that she didn't have much respect for my lifestyle, however.

So I don't think it's an atheist phenomenon. Good luck satirizing me.