Monday, September 7, 2009

Blasphemy Day Ideas

Blasphemy Day is September 30th, so I'm trying to solidify our club's plans. Here's a description from their Facebook group (since their website is continuously hacked):
Blasphemy Day International is a campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a day to promote free speech and stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, and reprisal. It is the obligation of the world's nations to safeguard dissent and the dissenters, not to side with the brutal interests of those who demand "respect" for their beliefs (i.e., immunity to being criticized or mocked or they threaten violence).
We're definitely doing something, but the question is what. Part of me is nervous because Purdue is such a conservative, religious campus. Our two most controversial events are our Pastafarian Preaching (how dare you mock religion! My God isn't anything like a Flying Spaghetti Monster!) and Fiction for Fiction (Are you saying the Bible isn't completely true?! You're going to hell!). I'm afraid for our reputation and our member's physical well being to do anything too blasphemous.

But that speaks loads, doesn't it? The whole point of Blasphemy Day is to stand up for our freedom of speech and right to criticize and mock religion, just like any other topic. We're supposed to be fighting this exact feeling of fear that I have. I shouldn't have to feel unsafe for standing in public and saying "If God was real, he's a megalomaniac and an asshole. Thankfully he doesn't exist." Or something.

Here are some of the ideas I've come up with so far. The event will be outside to get maximum publicity, and we'll have a table or two. Some of these things are more meaningful/positive than others, some are things I find hilarious but probably wouldn't dare to do.
  • Have a large banner that anyone can write whatever they want on. Only rule is they can't cross out other people's stuff.
  • Instead of a banner, have a ton of post it notes that people can stick to something (a wall, maybe). That way one message doesn't take up more space than others.
  • Have a megaphone where someone can say whatever they want for a predetermined number of seconds. You have to wait in line to get the megaphone.
  • Have line drawings of religious figures (Jesus/Moses/Mohammed/Buddha/Shiva/Thor/Zeus/The Pope) and let people color/deface them however their hearts desire
  • Play "blasphemous" music that mocks or criticizes religion
  • Have a laptop playing a continuous loop of short blasphemous videos from YouTube (Rock Me Sexy Jesus comes to mind)
  • Have a bunch of blasphemous cartoons, including the banned Mohammed drawings
  • Have someone dressed as Jesus...well, doing anything, that would probably be blasphemous. Let people throw pies at him for a dollar? I dunno.
What do you think? Horrible ideas, bad message, pointless, hilarious, necessary? Please let me know any Blasphemous suggestions you have, whether they be whole event ideas or just specific videos/songs/images we definitely need to use.


  1. I wonder if you can find a copy of the poster that was the subject of one of the last blasphemy cases in the US (1971). A wanted picture of Jesus stating

    “Jesus Christ – Wanted for sedition, criminal anarchy, vagrancy and conspiracy to overthrow the established government. Dressed poorly, said to be a carpenter by trade, ill nourished, associates with common working people, unemployed and bums. Alien, said to be a Jew.”

  2. Does it particularly need to be blasphemous? Couldn't it just be a free speech day, if you're that concerned about it?

    I would put up a huge banner that says, "Fuck (your god here). He's an asshole." If you're gonna do this...make sure it's equal blasphemy.

  3. A bit of an experiment I'd be interested in hearing the results of: dedicate your blasphemous demostration to mocking Islam, and see how many Christian students come up to you to demand respect for religious beliefs in general.

    Of course, I wouldn't wager on any number higher than zero. Bit of a foregone conclusion, that.

  4. So... I'm not discouraging... But I am curious. What's your objective here? It seems like going out of your way to disrespect others' beliefs - no matter how rediculous they are - is only going to upset them. Is your goal to upset them? Or is your goal to make them more open-minded about free speech and a lifestyle that does not require beliefs? I think that's probably the first thing you need to figure out.

  5. I like the idea of having cartoon/drawings of LOTS of gods and religious figures and let people color them and post them. Having Zeus and Jesus makes a better point, I think, than just Christian or Western or current or whatever religious images.

    Good lukc, no matter what you pick.

  6. Do a painting of Jesus, Zeus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Gandalf, and Osirus playing strip poker.

  7. I really like the post-it idea. If you have a banner, some douche will just write JESUS LOVES YOU as big as possible or something.

  8. Whatever you do, playing irreverent music while you do it would be good. Let me nominate a few bands/performers/whatever:

    Bad Religion (American Jesus, Atheist Peace, Sorrow (not that people will get the Biblical reference), lots of others)
    Roy Zimmerman, expecially Creation Science 101
    Galapagos Mountain Boys
    A Perfect Circle (Judith, Imagine)
    John Lennon (Imagine)

    I'm not so fond about the Post-it/banner/megaphone thing, though. I suspect that most of what people write will be pretty inane. It could also come back to bite you if your university has lewdness/“indecency” policies, and you end up having to censor what people write (or just get cited).

    Oh, but you should definitely do the Jesus thing. I'm biased. I happen to share Catholic Jesus's long flowing locks and patrician features. I may just have to steal that idea, actually... But I'd have to shave. :(

  9. Oh, and the painting of strip poker, that would be good. Add Devi to the picture, and I'd even buy the t-shirt.

  10. I think mocking Christian bible and idiotic behaviors of Christians should be fun. I think imitating Christians can be a great way to bring lots of laughters.

  11. I like the post-it note idea, but it'd definitely have to be approved first.

  12. Gotta add to the irreverent music: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Shallow Be Thy Game. It could be a heretic's anthem.

  13. I bet each religion will assume you're specifically having a go at them, as Marcus Brigstock said:

  14. Just put up posters saying "Come celebrate Blasphemy Day!"

    That's probably going to offend enough people as is.

  15. I'd go with something a little less hostile. I would imagine that most every religion finds it blasphemous to deny the existence of their deity, perhaps something more in line with that?

  16. Yea, you really want to be careful here. It can come off the wrong way if done to be overly offensive.

    Something like recall said with a poster saying to celebrate blashemy day would be good. You want to stop short of openly mocking. That sends the wrong message. Sure, what these people believe is batshit crazy, but if someone believed in UFO's and claims they were adbucted or someting, I would voice my skepticism, but I wouldn't (unless they were a close friend) say anything like "Did you just decide to give up on reality?"

  17. Yeah, but it's Blasphemy Day. By definition, it _has_ to be offensive. What's the point otherwise?

  18. I love the Jesus getting pied in the face idea, but I'd definitely expand that to include the opportunity to pie other deities--or major religious figures (the pope and Allatoya Kohmeni come immedaitely to mind). That way a. there are more people to pie, and b. no one can complain that your disproportionately targeting one figure.

  19. I think the post-it thing is a fabulous idea, and its one thing we were thinking about doing at Kent State. We don't have any specific plans yet, so all it might end up being is a group meeting where we discuss it.

    Although you CAN'T seriously consider censoring post-its during a demonstration about free speech. People suggesting that are completely missing the point. We had a similar even for festivus last year, where people could anonymously "air their grievances" which were read out-loud. Most of what was said every one agreed with (like "fuck parking tickets"), so I wouldn't worry too much. Just be open and honest with the people in charge and be above suspicion of wrong doing.

    Another REALLY important issue to bring up is the great injustices being committed as a result of sharia law:

    and all of the legal loopholes available for religious groups that Sean Faircloth from the Secular Coalition talked about at SSA. There is a right way and a wrong way to host these events. I wouldn't hesitate to ask SSA or CFI for help in presenting yourselves as well as possible during these highly inflammatory yet completely necessary demonstrations.

  20. You know, it's hard to be obvious about blaspheming God. I mean, yeah, I can write God out instead of writing G-d. I could also draw pictures of animals and humans. If it were on a Saturday, I could carry things outside of home. Or flip light switches. I don't know. I'm not going to get a copy of the Tanakh and damage it in anyway though. Religious text or not, it's still a book, and books... I have trouble with the idea of doing anything to hurt a book.

  21. Take a page out of Russels' Teapot and have a Name That Saviour! contest - they're hard to tell apart after all.

    Of some good quotes from the Reformation and Counterreformation - always fun to see the Christians play No True Scotsman. Add in the Mormons, Witnesses and Unification Church for added attitude. (Who is the real last prophet/incarnation?)

    Apparently the Krishnas think the Moon is further away than the Sun. And you can't shake a stick at the nuttiness of Hiduïsm and Buddhism.

    And just to be fair, presumably the Muslims and Jew are good for a coupla giggles as well - at least the bit about rabbits chewing their cod for the latter (Everybody loves rabbits!). And I think it's still Rhamadan for the former - hand out snacks!

    Have fun! And fuck Larry!

  22. This brought to my mind the Futurama episode in which they had annual "Freedom day" when people of Earth are free to legally offend each other. However, you'd better not to eat the Earth flag, as Dr. Zoidberg did...

    Nothing much to say. Please try to make the point that blasphemy is not meant to offend people but to express free speech. Offended people are just a fun side effect:)

  23. I'm pretty sure at IPFW we're going to go with the wall of post-it-notes, we're going to set up in the middle of one of the malls too... nice and visible :)

  24. Listen up, because I think you are going to like this.

    Blasphemy is boring. Okay, don't stop reading yet. Blasphemy for the sake of it is boring, but there are no shortage of cool things out there that happen to be considered blasphemous, but are nevertheless good fun.

    In fact, my suggestion would be that you find the most innocuous harmless things you can find and provide details at the events of just how much controversy they stirred up. Make people realise just how senseless complaints about blasphemy really are.

    As such, don't have people throwing pies at Jesus. Have people dress up as Jesus the vampire slayer or something. Something cool. Make religious figures rock in a way that would seem wholly inappropriate to an actual believer.

    So yeah:
    The obvious choice is "Life Of Brian", the classic Monty Python movie. Classic blasphemy movies also include: "Last Temptation of Christ", "The Exorcist" and "Dogma".

    One rather odd source of complaint was the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" (though I haven't seen it) which apparently doesn't depict Lord Ram as well as it might.

    The movie "Keeping Mum" is worth checking out since, while not actually considered blasphemous, it has an interesting plot concerning a priest who discovers that using satirical religious humour (which is often considered blasphemous) livens up his speech. Also, the church in the film was used, rather more controversially, to phtograph nudes by Andy Craddock.

    The case which destroyed the blasphemy law in England was over the musical "Jerry Springer - The Opera". Personally I don't think it's actually very good, but you might want to check it out anyway. Earlier a poetry reading was successfully prosecuted for blasphemy. The poem was "The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name" by James Kirkup. It was convicted because apparently it suggests Jesus is homosexual.

    Unlike 'Muslim Massacre' which was seriously f**king offensive, I really liked the online computer game 'Faith Fighter', not least since it makes the often noted distinction between Buddha and Bodai.

    Meh, I think more research is needed, but you get the point....

  25. I read up on blasphemy day and retract my earlier statements. I understand now what it is about, and so instead I suggest :

    Everyone's favorite game, pin the crown of thorns on the saviour. Also, get some big pieces of cardboard and draw different dieties/prophets/religious figureheads on it, cut out the faces and you can get your own picture as Mohammed.

  26. Its important to bring up the cartoons, too. That is why its on the day it is. Maybe have a whiteboard where people can draw depictions of Muhammad? Or any other god for that matter

  27. Put Jesus on a dunking machine. Every time he gets dunked, backlight the water so it looks crimson, like wine. And have him (or someone else) act surprised that he didn't just land on top of the water.

    Haha, I just had a thought of someone dressed as Jesus 'walking' on a non-newtonian fluid. Now THAT would be funny.

  28. I like:
    * Instead of a banner, have a ton of post it notes that people can stick to something (a wall, maybe). That way one message doesn't take up more space than others.
    * Have a megaphone where someone can say whatever they want for a predetermined number of seconds. You have to wait in line to get the megaphone.
    * Play "blasphemous" music that mocks or criticizes religion
    * Have a laptop playing a continuous loop of short blasphemous videos from YouTube (Rock Me Sexy Jesus comes to mind)
    * Have a bunch of blasphemous cartoons, including the banned Mohammed drawings
    * Do a painting of Jesus, Zeus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Gandalf, and Osirus playing strip poker. But have the devil winning with three six's.

    But most importantly make it equal opportunity. Blaspheme one, blaspheme all.

  29. Dod's grace is popupar,but His wrath is not.On that day some people will curse the day that their mothers bring them to this world.

  30. I think I am definitely going to like this day. ^_^