RIP Billy Graham, merchant of delusion

My stomach has been roiling with nausea, my eyes perpetually rolling, at the outpouring of religiosity that accompanied the passing of the most successful fantasy merchant of the last century, perhaps of all time.

His message -- God loves you -- is absurd. George Carlin first described religion's visions of the tortures of hell -- then ended with "...but he LOVES you."  So much for God's love.  

I'm really sorry that major secular organizations didn't speak out -- or speak out more loudly -- against this tsunami of bullshit, including wall-to-wall TV coverage. Nobody dared question it.  

Billy Graham was no friend of reason and critical thought, which have been responsible for all human progress.  Instead, he promised to make you ever closer to his fantasy friends, thereby ensuring a permanent state of childhood in anyone who took him seriously.  Left alone, children abandon fantasy friends.  But as B.F. Skinner observed, "Society attacks early, when the child is helpless."

What did Billy have that a million other clerical fantasy merchants didn't have?  As a speechwriter, I giver him lots of points for presence and oratory. He started at a very young age and worked hard to hone his craft. The man SOLD his message.  And because he also really believed it, they bought it. ;.

And Presidents listened to this man!  Or they pretended to, because religiosity in America is ineradicable -- and intrusive.  In letters to the editor, I read that kids get shot in schools because we have taken God out of the schools.  Only in this space could I say how ludicrous that proposition is.  

But back to Graham.  He made fantasy friends pay off -- for him, big-time. The amounts of money he was able to amass by selling access to the fantasy friends is astounding.  Yes, he urged people to behave themselves and act morally -- because the fantasy friends said they have to.  So when he died, instead of getting about the work of behaving ethically, countless people wasted countless hours in mass prayer services, which are disgusting exercises in humiliation and obeisance to those fantasy friends.  

Billy Graham deserves no more respect than P.T. Barnum, with whom he had much in common.  Instead, the response to his death was over the top. OK, believers can waste their time mourning him.  But when the entire political apparatus of the state genuflects to this charlatan (and the leading secular voices are silent, far as I can tell), one wonders if our society will ever be able to question, much less rid itself of, the poison called religion.   

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Comment by Craigart14 on March 12, 2018 at 1:27pm

Alan, do you remember Trump's stirring words at the National Fanta--er, I mean, Prayer Breakfast?  He expressed grave concern over declining ratings for The Apprentice and asked the attendees to pray for new host Arnold Schvarzenegger and for better ratings.  Why can't True Believers see through such self-serving crap?

Comment by Alan Perlman on March 7, 2018 at 2:11pm

Thanks to all commentators.

To Randall -- I think you were an atheist before.  Certain things trigger it.  I distinctly recall when they put "under God" in the pledge, and I immediately thought, "I'm not saying that."  Then I saw real and fake religiosity (both equally repugnant) all around me.  I really thought I would have seen more progress by now. 

To Joan -- Thanks as always for the kind words.  Of course you may share this with a receptive audience.

To Loren -- This constant equating of God and Jesus (= going to church and talking a lot about the Bible) with moral conduct has always baffled me.  "Good without God" just doesn't compute with these people.  Re other comment -- Why weren't the secular organizations more vocal with press releases like the above?  Fear of religious violence?

Comment by Randall Smith on March 7, 2018 at 7:44am

My life as an atheist may have begun with a Billy Graham event I attended along with my Methodist youth group back in high school. I distinctly remember thinking, "This is a bunch of bull shit!" And when a couple of my group members went up to the stage to be "healed", I thought "what fools". Get me out of here, I said to myself.

When I first heard Graham had died, I actually said out loud, "Hurray!" Make that a double for the day The Donald dies.

Comment by Michael Penn on March 7, 2018 at 6:50am

Not much difference between Graham and Trump except for the fact that Graham had a bit more finesse.

Comment by Joan Denoo on March 7, 2018 at 3:33am

Wow! Alan! you tell the truth in powerful language. May I share your piece with my Facebook Family, your words will resonate with some of them and encourage them to speak? Sometimes, most of the time, it is lonely, telling the truth and naming con-artists of the religious right for what they are. 

We just have to bite the bullet and tell the truth. Not easy! Not fun! Necessary to do. 

Comment by Loren Miller on March 6, 2018 at 10:08pm

Hell, they don't even really worship a god.  They worship a concept that they think will either earn them votes or keep them out of trouble.  Truth be told, it might have some impact on the first issue but absolutely NONE on the second ... and if they get that at all, you couldn't prove it by me.

Stupid is as stupid does.
-- Forrest Gump

Comment by Grinning Cat on March 6, 2018 at 10:03pm

Trump thinks of himself as God, and Republicans gladly bow down, putting party before country.

Comment by Alan Perlman on March 6, 2018 at 9:42pm

Loren, a long slog it is.  Three centuries after the Enlightenment, Trump defines the difference between the two parties as "Democrats worship government.  We worship God."

Comment by Loren Miller on March 6, 2018 at 6:11pm

Sadly, Alan, so long as people hold respect for belief without evidence, those like Mr. Graham will continue to flourish.  It's left to us to remind the populace that the emperor STILL has no clothes.



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