Secular Sunday

In his book the God Delusion Richard Dawkins comments to the effect that serious belief in divine intervention, although not in a deity per se, largely petered out in the 19th century. Not in the part of this country, fronted up until a matter of months ago by a theocrat, where belief in it is worthy of front page coverage. In the case of Mickey Harte, the Tyrone football manager there is at least something of the serene saviour about his god: a merciful deity who responded to prayer and saved the life of the petitioner trapped in his car after a road accident.

Looking elsewhere it is not too long before another type of interventionist god is discovered. One embraced not for his mercy but for the lack of it. Take a look at that big bollix Ian Paisley. He has been writing about a different type of intervening god, one as hateful as himself. One who far from professing love prefers to mutter ‘I hate them with a perfect hatred.’

In Free Presbyterian rubbish sheet the Revivalist Paisley gleefully wrote that god has been punishing the banks as of late, although when the Provisionals punished the banks the good reverend was not so approving. Not a lot wrong with god if that amounted to the full extent of his meddling in worldly affairs. But there is a self serving reason for his heavenly involvement in the world of finance. According to big Paisley, ‘God gives man six days in which he can work and play. God demands from us one day for his work and worship.’ A scriptural revelation from the gospel according to Ian has god mightily displeased that the bankers, rather than spend Sunday massaging his god’s huge ego, have decided to work for themselves instead.

Now that the wrath of Paisley’s vengeful god has been visited on bankers I am reminded of other instances where this baleful old god has been punishing those unfortunate enough not to have fitted in with his intelligent design. Paisley’s fellow bigot, Councillor Maurice Mills of the DUP was in no doubt that ‘Asia was hit by the tsunami because of the continent's people not being Christian ... God had marked their cards.’ Cards, always the devil’s game. US evangelist Pat Robertson professed to believe that Hurricane Katrina was despatched to New Orleans as punishment for legalised abortion. Perhaps a sound theological reason underpinning a clerical fondness for young boys – a natural contraception, no pregnancies there. The 9/11 attacks on American were said by the late Jerry Falwell to have happened because ‘the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians’ had been seeking to have America go secular. It was not attacked oddly enough by the heavenly hand when it confined itself to being segregationist; saints here sinners there type separation, all theologically sound.

A hateful lot, they confirm Nietzsche’s admonishment to ‘beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong.’ Evidently, an all-merciful god doesn’t seem attractive to the frothing at the mouth fundamentalists who prefer the punitive old despot rather the forgiving one.

In the Revivalist we also learn from ‘God’s anointed leader’ that ‘the world without Sunday properly sanctified is a pagan world.’ That excludes me then from membership of the pagan community. I certainly sanctify Sunday - with beer, watching a football match, or taking the kids to the park. Different from years ago when the big bigot and his clerical gang would deter kids from going to parks by having the swings chained up. It is always the problem with puritans. As Mencken observed they suffer from the ‘haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.’ Besides, clerics often have other ideas for children on Sundays not to mention every other day as well.

Sunday is a day of rest and as such should be free from the pestilence of religious mania and the indignity of paying homage to the belligerent brute that is Paisley’s deity. If either Paisley or his god do not like it they can both stick their heads where the sun don’t shine, up one of those many black holes that are dispersed throughout our universe. Not an easy task for a head the size of Paisley’s. Worse still, imagine the wrath of god having spent the best part of a Sunday trying to squeeze that dome in.

No comments