For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
November 16, 2009
Center for Inquiry declares
“Faith is no reason” the winner.
Amherst, N.Y, (November 16, 2009)—The Center for Inquiry (CFI) 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.”
In announcing the award, CFI president and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay said “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.”
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.”
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. CFI was not disappointed in the entries—either in their quality overall or their quantity. Approximately 650 contestants submitted over a thousand entries (contestants could submit two entries).
In addition to the Grand Prize winner, there were four other winners. Their entries were: “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.
The contest judges also decided that ten other entries, including a couple of limericks, would receive “honorable mention.” Those entries, and further information about the contest, can be found at the official announcement on CFI’s Web site.
The Blasphemy Contest was one component of CFI’s continuing Campaign for Free Expression . Another ongoing contest that is also part of the Campaign is the Free Expression essay contest ($2,000 Grand Prize).
The Center for Inquiry/Transnational, a nonprofit, educational, advocacy, and scientific-research think tank based in Amherst, New York, is also home to the Council for Secular Humanism, founded in 1980; and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP), founded in 1976. The Center for Inquiry’s research and educational projects focus on three broad areas: religion, ethics, and society; paranormal and fringe-science claims; and sound public policy. The Center’s Web site is www.centerforinquiry.net .