CFI Announces Blasphemy Contest Winners

November 16, 2009

The Center for Inquiry is pleased to announce that Ken Peters of California is the Grand Prize winner of its Blasphemy Contest , which asked contestants to submit statements of no more than twenty words critical of religious beliefs.  The entry Mr. Peters submitted was: “Faith is no reason.”  Regarding Mr. Peters’ entry, CFI president and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay observes, “This entry, using only four words, summarizes nicely one of the key principles of post-Enlightenment thought.  Beliefs should be based on evidence and reason.  Faith is not a basis for logically sound belief.”

In addition to the Grand Prize winner, there were four other winners.

  • “There’s no religion like no religion,” submitted by Daniel Boles of Thailand;
  • “I wouldn’t even follow your god on Twitter,” submitted by Michael Hein of South Carolina;
  • “The reason religious beliefs need protection from ridicule is that they are ridiculous,” submitted by Michael Nugent of Ireland; and
  • “I survived the God virus,” submitted by Perry Bulwer of British Columbia, Canada.

All top five winners will receive a CFI T-shirt with their submission imprinted on the shirt.  Ken Peters, the Grand Prize winner, will also receive a coffee mug with his slogan and he will be officially recognized in a forthcoming issue of Free Inquiry , the magazine published by CFI’s affiliate, the Council for Secular Humanism .  Also, as indicated in the contest rules, Ken Peters will likely be able to look forward to eternal damnation, although that prize is not entirely within CFI’s control.

The T-shirts featuring the individual winning phrases can be viewed and ordered for purchase in the CFI On-line Store .

Many will recall that when CFI decided in September to hold a contest in conjunction with its commemoration of International Blasphemy Day , it generated a firestorm of controversy.  Some observers claimed that CFI was soliciting hate speech, and they likened CFI to Nazis publishing anti-Semitic attacks.

CFI rejected those mischaracterizations then and continues to reject them now.  “In holding a blasphemy contest, we wished to underscore our position that religious beliefs are subject to examination and criticism, just like other beliefs,” said Lindsay.  “Sometimes that criticism may take the form of a scholarly essay; sometimes the criticism may take the form of a pithy, pointed remark.  Both are appropriate forms of free expression.”

In its contest, CFI emphasized it wanted clever, concise statements that might capture some of the flaws of religious beliefs.  CFI was not interested in crude attacks on believers.  Overall, CFI was not disappointed in quality of the entries.

Nor was CFI disappointed in the quantity of entries.  About 650 individuals submitted well over 1,000 entries (contestants could submit two entries).  In fact, deciding which entries deserved to make it into the top five was difficult.  Accordingly, the judges have decided that the following entries deserved honorable mention.

HONORABLE MENTION:

"Think outside the pew."
Gerry Stearns

"GodLess is more."
Harout Markarian

"Minds harbor incongruous memes:
Religion and fairytale dreams.
Relentlessly nutty,
They turn brains to putty,
Inculcating scurrilous schemes."
Kate Jones

"A fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'
A wise man shouts it from the rooftops."
Mark Palmer

"Jesus has all the answers...to your vague, non-specific questions to which you already know the answer."
aaoe98 (no name accompanied the email)

"God is incredible."
J. Laudig and George Tipton (submitted separately)

"A perplexing entity, God
Exhibited properties odd
A generous savior
With wrathful behavior
Both Barney and Marquis de Sade."
Tim Harrod

:–)  <-- Muhammad
Nicholas Rinard

"Religion is the blasphemy of reality."
Joe

"Our Father, Heavenly King
Stop watching me sleep.
It's creepy.
Amen"
Jacky Chow

Finally, the judges decided that a blasphemous joke uttered by CFI Founder Paul Kurtz at a CFI event in early November merited special mention—even though the joke is longer than twenty words, it was made after the contest ended, Dr. Kurtz is disqualified from making an entry, and Dr. Kurtz never formally submitted the joke as an entry.  But, hey, it’s our contest.  Anyway, here’s the joke:

A priest and a nun went golfing. On the priest's first swing, the ball went wide of the green.

"Shit," said the priest. "I missed!"

"Oh Father, please don't speak like that," said the nun. "God wouldn't like it."

On the priest's second swing, the ball went into the rough.

"Shit," said the priest. "I missed!"

"Oh Father, you mustn't curse," said the nun. "God will strike you dead if you use such language."

On the priest's third swing, the ball went right into the water hazard.

"Shit," said the priest. "I missed!"

Suddenly it got very dark.  Black clouds boiled up.  There was a flash of lightning, an ear-splitting crack of thunder.

And the nun was gone.

"Shit," said a great voice from above. "I missed!"

Note that when Dr. Kurtz told this joke, he decorously substituted “merde” for “shit” about halfway through.  But we don’t want to imply that God is French.  Not even the French deserve that.

CFI thanks everyone who took the time to submit an entry.  Your participation helped make the contest a success.

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