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Big ol’ shameless liars with a poll for Jesus

Every once in a while, someone chastises me for calling someone a liar. It’s rude, they say, and you don’t know if they’re intending to utter a mistruth, so you can’t really call them “liars”.

Oh, fuck that noise. When you get patent phonies like the Christians of Evansville, you have to call it as it is: they’re lying. Lying, lying, lying. The West Side Christian Church is putting up 30 crosses on the public streets along the riverfront, and they’re going to have them decorated by their vacation bible school. How can the city get away with permitting this blatant violation of the separation of church and state? By LYING.

The Board of Public Works has jurisdiction under city ordinance to approve or reject such requests, Ziemer said.

“We told (the church) they could not have any writing of any kind of them,” Ziemer said of the crosses. “So they are statues. They might be a religious symbol to someone or they might be attractive statues to someone else.”

Oh, yeah? Just an “attractive statue”? Does this look like an “attractive statue” to anyone with half a brain?

evansvillecross

This is the same kind of stunt Christians tried to pull with the 9/11 “cross” they want to install as a memorial. The same thing they did with the Soledad cross. Somehow we’re all supposed to pretend that their obvious religious symbol, erected by a church, used as a prop for religious instruction, is supposed to be a merely secular symbol. Lies. And within the context of their own religion, worse — it’s a denial of a symbol of their faith. It’s total cowardice and dishonesty.

Of course there’s a poll. And of course the majority of godflogging pudtuggers in that town are for it.

Should West Side Christian Church be allowed to put crosses along the riverfront?

Yes 55%
No 44%

I have an idea. Let’s cast a decorative bronze statue of my ass, and erect multiple copies of it on Evansville’s streets. To some, they might be an obnoxious symbol of my contempt, but they might be attractive statues to someone else.

Comments

  1. chigau (aaarrgh) says

    Since these things are on public sidewalks, can anyone decorate them?

  2. says

    I wonder how they would react if somebody tagged each one with “Allahu Akbar” and claimed that Allahu was Admiral Akbar’s first name so it was just a star wars reference?

  3. Sastra says

    Someone once compared church/state violations like this to dogs pissing on their territory. I think it’s apt. They could easily have these crosses on church or private property … but no. They’re not marking something as ‘theirs’ in defiance to others.

    “We’re doing it on behalf of the community. We will feel like it will bring people to the riverfront who wouldn’t otherwise come,” church member Roger Lehman told the Board of Public Works

    And I bet you feel it will bring people to Christ who wouldn’t otherwise come! And you feel it will bring that warm glow of self-righteousness to those people who might otherwise forget how privileged they are! This is just full of win!

    Why limit the decorating to kids from Bible class? Let’s let a few non-Christian citizens in on the fun of decorating these “statues?” That way their non-religious nature will become even more apparent.

  4. bad Jim says

    They look like handy places to chain a bicycle – better than a parking meter, anyway.

  5. says

    PZ:

    Let’s cast a decorative bronze statue of my ass, and erect multiple copies of it on Evansville’s streets. To some, they might be an obnoxious symbol of my contempt, but they might be attractive statues to someone else.

    I’m reminded of a bit from a Joe Lansdale story, where John the Baptist was the messiah and Jesus a bit player:

    If we were more open-minded, a religion might have formed where Jesus was worshipped, and instead of the little bleeding head on a platter medallions many of your congregation wear, they might be adorning themselves with little buttocks with donkey cart tracks across them.

    Letter from the South, Two Moons South of Nacogdoches.

  6. consciousness razor says

    West Side Christian Church has received approval from an Evansville government panel to display 30 decorative crosses Aug. 4-18 on the city’s Downtown riverfront.

    My impression is that they’re just going to be on display for that two week period. (Right? They’re not permanent fixtures?) I don’t see any information about the city funding it or whatever else, just apparently allowing the church to pull this stunt. I don’t know what the point of big plastic crosses painted by Bible school kids is.* I probably wouldn’t like any of them,** but it doesn’t seem like a problem to me.

    So if you wanted to do some piece of performance art on the streets in Evansville, perhaps involving bronze statues of your ass, you might be able to do that, PZ.*** But I’m not a lawyer, thank fuck. Everywhere else in this fucking country, I don’t know.

    *Well, okay, I do know. I just don’t want to admit it. The War on Christmas has definitely gotten out of hand when it starts in August. We can’t even have Labor Day first.
    **It’s hard to appreciate a fine statue of a torture device. It’s up there with the value of Nazi art. I guess the fact that it’s made by children makes it a little worse.
    ***It’s probably not a great idea to make them too graphic, since this is in public after all. But you never know. See above.

  7. consciousness razor says

    They look like handy places to chain a bicycle – better than a parking meter, anyway.

    Nah, they’re going to be plastic. You could saw right through it in no time.

  8. says

    Sastra:

    Why limit the decorating to kids from Bible class?

    That’s not a bad idea. Get some identical statues, paint them with Buddhas, various Islamic icons, maybe a Tlingit design featuring Raven having sex with a clamshell to produce humanity, and various other symbols that some might find religious, and others will just find interesting and beautiful. Place those other statues near the original ones as a demonstration of public support for this project.

    I kinda like it.

  9. Sastra says

    Some of my least favorite shameless sneaky religious lies:

    1.) It’s not religious: it’s about God.

    2.) Christianity isn’t a religion — it’s a philosophy/personal relationship/general fact.

    3.) References to “God” are only ceremonial Deism.

    4.) When we say “Christian” we just mean “moral” and so it’s meant for everyone.

    5.) “Spirituality” is whatever moves you deeply.

    6.) “Prayer” isn’t talking to God — it’s another word for “meditation” or “contemplation.”

    and now

    7.) It’s not a religious symbol; it’s a statue.

  10. bobbyearle says

    I wonder if Evansville approved of that tape measure on the ground. You know, carpentry and all.

  11. consciousness razor says

    7.) It’s not a religious symbol; it’s a statue.

    That’s not a lie, Sastra. It is a statue. It is art. It is religious art, a major part of art history, probably the most significant part you could possibly name.

  12. says

    consciousness razor:

    That’s not a lie, Sastra. It is a statue. It is art. It is religious art, a major part of art history, probably the most significant part you could possibly name.

    But its significance is rooted in its religious symbolism, making Sastra’s #7 very much true. The lie isn’t that it’s a statue; the lie is that it’s not a religious symbol. The more subtle lie is that context somehow obscures the religious symbolism, magically transforming it (using some kind of transubstantiation similar to a cracker becoming the flesh of Jesus, I imagine, only in reverse) into merely a statue.

    At least, that’s how I read it.

  13. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    “We’re doing it on behalf of the community. We will feel like it will bring people to the riverfront who wouldn’t otherwise come,” church member Roger Lehman told the Board of Public Works

    Who the hell are they trying to attract, Margaret White?

  14. WhiteHatLurker says

    @Caine, Fleur du mal

    (#17) Do you mean that my investment in the model guillotine market might not have been as good a deal as I have been led to believe?

    Also, thanks for the note about the Lansdale story. I read it and found it to be pretty good.

  15. consciousness razor says

    The lie isn’t that it’s a statue; the lie is that it’s not a religious symbol.

    Alright, but the scare-quotes in #4 around “statue” seem to be saying something else. And Hemant did some similar things on his post about it.

    Anyway, the relevant part is the law. It’s not clear to me what exactly counts as “establishment” when it comes to publicly displaying/performing religious art. It involves “religious symbols” — is that really supposed to be enough by itself?

    The annual bullshit around Christmas, with displays on courtyards and such, seem to be saying the government is endorsing the holiday. They might toss money at it, they might make special exceptions so that other kinds of messages can’t be made, etc. This looks like a church getting some random attention for a short time, probably more about attracting people to their Bible school than attracting people to the fucking riverfront (like it’s claimed in the article). Which their government is enabling.

    I guess it is problematic, but we don’t have some analogous group which isn’t being allowed to express themselves, so it’s not like these people are being treated preferentially in any obvious way. They’re just displaying their art, which should generally be allowed. If PZ wants to start The (Reformed) Church of Bronze Ass and start doing stuff like this too, then it could become a problem, but otherwise this just seems like a private event that’s spilling out into a public area.

  16. anuran says

    Crescents, pentacles and eights-spoked wheels are much more attractive. Lets put statues of them up instead.

  17. ImaginesABeach says

    So according to the article, the city let the United Way put up a series of sculptures for a few weeks, which were then auctioned off. If the city said no to the church, after having permitted the United Way to do this, wouldn’t it make the city vulnerable to a lawsuit alleging viewpoint discrimination?

  18. says

    Funny story: A few weeks ago, I was wandering around downtown and saw a preacher and a choir on the steps of city hall. I stopped to listen because a lot of our local churches are involved in various social justice causes (and, trust me, we need all the help we can get here) but no, it was all “REDEMPTION THROUGH JESUS” bullshit. Added bonus: they weren’t from a local church, but bussed in from who-knows-where.

    Anyway, I called a friend who is on the city council and found out that since city hall is public property, there’s nothing that anyone can do. And there’s the rub: the mayor and city council desperately want these assholes to go away, while at the same time it looks like our city is endorsing that crap.

    As for these crosses? I’d be tempted to set them on fire.

  19. ImaginesABeach says

    That looks like a fine place to walk your dog – when it lifts it leg, you don’t need to worry that it will hurt the grass or plants.

  20. says

    Maybe the Christian Right could really make a point by getting men in white sheets with pointy hoods to burn them. They are polyethylene and would make a nice molten puddle.

  21. HidariMak says

    “That looks like a fine place to walk your dog – when it lifts it leg, you don’t need to worry that it will hurt the grass or plants.”

    I was going to suggest something similar. Gotta be careful how you “decorate” statues with governmental endorsement. Of course, somebody can always use ingredients from their kitchen to create some rather realistic looking bird poop and/or dog urine.

    Of course, I’m speaking from a strictly hypothetical viewpoint here…

  22. Lofty says

    Plastic crosses? I thought they were a species of public urinal. Aim here to prove you are shober. Especially if you’ve already set fire to it.

  23. cubist says

    As I write this comment, the vote stands at 1,079 (72%) “Yes” and 415 (27%) “No”.

  24. Die Anyway says

    Currently Pharyngulated… NO – 1178, YES – 415.

    BTW, the Wallenda wire walk is on and it is Jesus, Jesus, God, Jesus, God, Christ. I’m almost puking.

  25. stevem says

    But isn’t our government a “democracy”, i.e. “majority rules”. If 51% of the people *want* such a display, shouldn’t the government do so? That’s what that “poll” is for: to prove it; that the majority want it. Government “gives” what the majority “wants”. Even if they don’t explicitly “want” it, they must “approve” of it. And since we are a “Christian” nation, Christian symbols are simply part of our “heritage”.

    {my snark is rampaging again. Rational responses are useless against these “people”, so I can only repeat their arguments and hope the “satire/parody” is obvious}

  26. Randomfactor says

    wouldn’t it make the city vulnerable to a lawsuit alleging viewpoint discrimination?

    What religion did the United Way exhibition endorse–Mithraism?

  27. says

    So if we put up 30 plastic “sculptures” of erect penises, as long as there’s no writing on them “They might be giant dicks to some people or attractive statues to someone else”.

    For that matter, couldn’t they be both?

  28. anteprepro says

    Man, for people who believe to be champions of Absolutes, theocrats sure do love them some relativism.

  29. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    BTW, the Wallenda wire walk is on and it is Jesus, Jesus, God, Jesus, God, Christ. I’m almost puking.

    For those of us who are not into approximate snuff films on live television, can you clarify what is happening? Is Wallenda blaspheming or requesting divine aid, or are others doing so on his behalf, or is it just one big “God gets the glory for me not falling and dying” schtick?

  30. Infophile says

    @37: Democracies of that sort went out of style a couple millenia ago. The US is little like such a democracy. It’s a republic, where officials are elected to vote on laws, and the majority (or supermajority sometimes) of representatives determine what laws are passed. These representatives are limited in the laws they can enact by the constitution, which guarantees basic safeguards such as freedom of religion, and is significantly more difficult to change than laws.

  31. Jemand says

    Put that cross with the horizontal bar lower than the midpoint of the vertical bar instead of above it…..

    And see just how blazingly fast they come down!

  32. Infophile says

    @43 Addendum: My bad, missed the snark tag. Sadly, there are still people who think that way.

  33. says

    #25 this is the bind religion always puts us in. They can claim it is anything and everything. They can also reject the idea that it is anything they do not like to associate with it*.

    So it gets to be a secular point of view in a lawsuit. But it sure as shit needs religious freedom protections as well. The rules always morph and they always morph in favor of Christianity.

    *It always gets me when some Christian asserts that their faith isn’t anti-gay. When you look at the polling, I suspect if you took out the Jews and non-believers, marriage equality doesn’t have majority support. And that’s just current Christians. Basically all past Christians were anti-gay. Somehow the slim percentage of Christians past and present gets to assert that Christianity isn’t anti-gay, simply because to think otherwise might make them feel bad about how their security blanket plays out in the lives of others in the real world.

  34. cicely says

    Since these things are on public sidewalks, can anyone decorate them?

    I like where I think you’re going with this, chigau.
    :) :) :)
    -

  35. says

    Far from it from me to suggest civil disobedience or vandalism, but I can think of ways to decorate these crosses that are more scatological, politically incorrect and terrifying than can be described on this respectable blog.

  36. Tyrant says

    That looks like a fine place to walk your dog – when it lifts it leg, you don’t need to worry that it will hurt the grass or plants.

    Pisschrist 2.0, eh? :D

  37. jennifert says

    What you’ve got there is 30 scarecrow skeletons just waiting to be fleshed out.

  38. says

    C’mon, this could very well celebrate people’s love of intersections… or of the lowercase letter T… or, indeed, of the apparatus by which first century Romans put to death and tortured Jewish insurgents.

    (This joke is brought to you by Tim Minchin)

  39. fernando says

    “Putting up 30 crosses on the public streets along the riverfront”.

    +1
    Marcvs Licinivs Crassvs likes this.

  40. says

    It’s now 86% No.

    I should hope that eager beavers decorate the crosses as a citizen initiative without making children do all the work. If they really are foam plastic, a bread-knife will carve them. You could have some fine lingams.

  41. Tyrant says

    It is religious art, a major part of art history

    Yeah, indeed cheap plastic crosses are a major part of art history…

    I wonder how the kids will decorate these crosses. I mean, that’s not macabre at all, right?
    Next week: these walls in the local gas chamber are so dreary, let’s bring in the kindergardeners with finger paint! And don’t tell me it’s not a symbol for an instrument of execution, its entire religious meaning is based on it being that.

  42. says

    Definitely dress them up–how about ghost, KKK, and Pope costumes? Turn them into T’s. Scarecrows are good, or the Gender-bending Super League. Carve them into long narrow things: bows, pencils, etc.

  43. consciousness razor says

    Yeah, indeed cheap plastic crosses are a major part of art history…

    If you say so, but that’s not what I said.

    And don’t tell me it’s not a symbol for an instrument of execution, its entire religious meaning is based on it being that.

    Who me? It’s obvious what it can symbolize. You must be talking to the bullshitter in the article. Like bullshit tends to be, it’s irrelevant; it doesn’t make much difference what it’s a symbol for. I still don’t know in what sense the government is even doing anything here, much less establishing anything. Or how it’s supposed to fail the Lemon test, assuming that’s a fairly reasonable standard to work with.

    But don’t let that stop anyone. Please carry on with your fantasies of destroying “cheap plastic” decorated by children, which wouldn’t seem to have any substantial effect on your life. It’s really helpful, and it does remind me a bit of the Christians who went nuts over Piss Christ, among other things. “it takes a religious mind to turn the demolition of art into a virtue” — not actually true, as it turns out. (If only the damn comment section wasn’t missing.)

  44. boygenius says

    They look like handy places to chain a bicycle – better than a parking meter, anyway.

    Nah, they’re going to be plastic. You could saw right through it in no time.

    Cool Hand Luke; Redux

  45. fmitchell says

    Let me just say I do not condone defacing or vandalizing these crosses. I do not, for example, endorse spray-painting the face of Bob Dobbs using a stencil pattern anyone can download (106k). Nor do I condone hanging a flag from the arms, not the U.S. flag hung upside down, not the Israeli flag or the South Korean flag or the crescent-and-star flag of the Ottoman Empire, and certainly not the Nazi flag. Nor can I countenance buying a Teletubbie or Elmo doll from your local Toys R Us and nailing it to the cross.

    I’m just saying it would be awesome.

  46. crocodoc says

    Try doing that with swastika statues. “No no, it’s got nothing to do with national socialism. We told them they could not write ‘Gott mit uns’ on them”

  47. eamick says

    I’m not terribly surprised. When I was at Purdue, they explained to the newcomers that Indiana was on Eastern time everywhere but in Gary, which thinks it’s in Chicago, and in Evansville, where they can’t tell time anyway.

  48. DLC says

    I think we should get some large plastic Roman Fertility Symbols and plant those along the streets. perhaps we could lean them up against the back of the crosses. well, you know, it’s just artwork!

  49. says

    Nevertheless…if someone goes through and defaces or destroys these “statues” the Christians will HOWL about persecution and religious protections. Almost as though they aren’t really just statues…

  50. alwayscurious says

    Perhaps they will fail the Lemon Test more explicity after decorations are done…And then they will cry even louder about “What will the innocent children think?” when it’s all torn down.

  51. John Horstman says

    @60:

    “it takes a religious mind to turn the demolition of art into a virtue”

    Of course that’s not true, and it’s an absurd statement. It’s simply begging the question of what constitutes “art”, as any that the person making the statement thinks *should* be destroyed are defined out of the category. We don’t even have to go to something where there’s an objection to the content depicted to demonstrate that context matters a hell of a lot: how about cancer-causing art made with, for example, radioactive paint or structural materials? PZ was wrong, because context matters, so his absolute statement doesn’t actually hold. And…?

  52. says

    I wonder how they would react if somebody tagged each one with “Allahu Akbar” and claimed that Allahu was Admiral Akbar’s first name so it was just a star wars reference?

    I need to try to remember that one.

    maybe a Tlingit design featuring Raven having sex with a clamshell to produce humanity

    Hmm. I suppose there are some imagery that would be hard to translate into really pretty, and not glaringly obvious, art, like the whole Hindu, “Some god shot semen all over the place.”, one, but.. I am also sure we could find quite a few really fun versions, in the same theme. Heck, we could even, if we went to “religious stories” rather than creation myth, add in some Christian stuff, you know, for balance, say.. the discovery of Bathsheba, by David, bathing nude in the river. Oh, right.. and, the old Pagan myth involving the horned out, where a guy gets dressed up with horns, and runs around naked, after a bunch of naked women, to “hunt” his mate for that year, and… lol