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 give 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.