Church can have the last laugh ... take jibes in good humour

John Coulter with an Irish Daily Star column. It initially featured in Newshound on 5 February 2014.

Perform a comedy drama, or tell stand-up jokes which mock Muslims, Islamic militants, and the prophet Mohammed!

That's my public challenge to comedians and playwrights who campaigned to get Newtownabbey council to overturn its decision banning the Reduced Shakespeare Company's controversial play, The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged).

My main gauntlet is thrown down to one of the North's top – if not the best at the moment – stand-up comics, Jake O'Kane, who branded the people who voted for the initial ban as "zealots".

So jocular Jake, let's see you grow a set of real balls and perform a public routine where all the jokes cut the tripe out of Islamic militants.

After all, if you defend a play which takes more than a few pops at the Christian faith, you should have no problem at using your comprehensive talents to slabber a few choice tales about the people who carried out 9/11 in the US and 7/7 in Britain.

But let's swallow some bitter pills. Many comics are just too scared to tell jokes about Muslim fanatics for fear they become the target of suicide bombers.

The other tough medicine is that Christianity has been easy meat for comedians because the faith always adopted a 'turn the other cheek' attitude towards those who poked fun at the clergy or Churches.

What about the very catchy tune, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, from Monty Python's mass crucifixion scene from Life of Brian?

Then there's the controversial dream scene from The Last Temptation of Christ.

Why did the Catholic Church not lobby to have the hit TV series Father Ted banned given the hilarious portrayal of the priests? How many Irish priests are actually mirror images of the hard-drinking, hard-cursing Father Jack?

Or was it a case that there was no censorship of Father Ted because the Catholic hierarchy knew of the looming storms of clerical abuse and alleged Church cover-ups?

The Christian faith has been ridiculed for generations by sitcoms – remember the camp vicar in Dad's Army, or the women clerics in The Vicar of Dibley?

The Christian Church needs to adopt a more positive approach to mocking programmes and plays.

Rather than seeing a return to the placard protestors, the Churches should use these opportunities to show that Christianity is fun, relevant and a constructive force for good in society.

If the Churches are smart, they will use the u-turn on The Bible drama to get people interested in the holy book and the life of Jesus.

For example, when Hollywood star Mel Gibson launched his brutally visual The Passion of The Christ about Jesus's trial, torture and execution, it sparked a rebirth in interest in the Christian faith.

On many occasions, militant fundamentalists have done more damage to the Christian faith than helped it.

I was once banned from joining a Baptist Church because I am married to a woman who does not wear a hat to church.

Before becoming a journalist, I was a punk and heavy metal music producer with my own label, Budj Recordings, based in the heart of the Ulster Bible Belt.

The first two albums I released were Christian punk and rock, yet militant fundamentalists slammed the evangelical outreach by these bands.

Just as comedy has helped us understand the Troubles, could comedy rekindle an interest in the Christian faith?

Or will one of the long-term fallouts from the two BBC Paisley programmes be a resurgence of the Paisleyite tactics of the hymn-singing, placard-waving pickets outside theatres and cinemas? 


  1. John,

    I'm with you why don't people tell jokes about Islam/Muslims..,

    An Arab was being interviewed at a US checkpoint."Your name please?"“Abdul Aziz”“Sex?”“Six times a week!”“No, no, I mean male or female.”“Doesn’t matters, sometimes even goat or camel.”

    *.A young Arab asks his father “What is this weird hat that we are wearing?”“Why, it’s a ‘chechia’ because in the desert it protects our heads from the sun,” says the father.Then asks the son “And what is this type of clothing that we are wearing?”The father is Obliged to reply:“It’s a ‘djbellah’ because in the desert it is very hot and it protects your body!”The boy gets even more curious:“And what are these ugly shoes that we have on our feet?”Again the father lovingly explains:“These are ‘babouches,’ which keep us from burning our feet when in the desert!”Finally the son says,“Tell me Abba?”“Yes my son?”
    “Why the f*ck are we living in Detroit and still wearing all this shit?

    Q. Mohamed and Mouloud are in a car, who's driving?
    A. The police.

    An American man, a French guy, and an Arab are all on a plane. Suddenly the pilot comes over the PA and says the plane is going to crashif they don't get rid of some unnecessary weight.
    The American takes a huge bag of hamburgers out of his suitcase and tosses it out the window, saying "Not a problem, I've got plenty of these where I come from."
    The Arab guy somehow produces an entire barrel of oil and tosses it out, saying "Not a problem, I got plenty of this where I come from."
    The French guy thinks things over for a minute, then grabs the Arab and throws himout the window.

    A devout Arab Muslim entered a black cab in London. He curtly asked the cabbie to turn off the radio because as decreed by his religious teaching, he must not listen to music because in the time of the prophet there was no music, especially Western music which is the music of the infidel.The cab driver politely switched off the radio, stopped the cab and opened the door. The Arab Muslim asked him,“What are you doing? The cabbie answered,“In the time of the prophet there were no taxis, so fuck off and wait for a camel!”

    4 people in the carriage of a train – a Jew, a pretty young blond, an ugly old woman and a Muslim.
    It all goes dark when the train goes through a tunnel.
    In the dark there’s the sound of an almighty slap, and when the train emerges from the tunnel the Muslim is rubbing his face, and there’s a huge red mark on his cheek.
    The old lady thinks “I bet that Muslim fondled the blond in the dark and she slapped him”
    The pretty young blond thinks ” I bet the Muslim tried to fondle me in the dark, got the old lady by mistake, and she hit him”.
    The Muslim thinks “I bet that dirty Jew fondled the blond in the dark, but the blond thought it was me and hit me”
    The Jew thinks “I hope there’s another tunnel coming up soon so I can slap that Muslim moron again.

  2. A man goes into an adult entertainment shop and asks
    the assistant for an inflatable doll.
    "Would you like male or female?"
    "Female, please."
    "Would you like Black or White?"
    "White, please."
    "Would you like Christian or Muslim?"
    This question confused the man, so he asked,
    "What has the religion got to do with it? It's an
    inflatable doll!"
    "Well," explained the assistant, "The Muslim one blows
    itself up!"

    Q: How do you tell a Sunni form A Shiite?

    A: The Sunnis are the ones with the Shiite blown out of them.

    What do you call a Muslim with bacon on his brow? Ham head
    What do you call a Muslim with 2 bits of bacon? Mo' Ham head

  3. I'm sympathetic to John's distain for comedians who take cheap shots, and Christians who just knee-jerk in response to the cheap shots.

    Yes, a positive approach to ridicule of holy things is the way to go. Negative protesting and seeking to ban a play are misguided.

    Christians are commanded not to give holy things to dogs - but the dogs performing in Newtownabbey had taken the holy things themselves, so it was not up to us to stop them. We are to graciously point out their error, explain why they are foolish to speak that way, and bring them the gospel.

    One of John's comments puzzled me: 'I was once banned from joining a Baptist Church because I am married to a woman who does not wear a hat to church.'

    No Baptist church I know of would ban a person from membership based on the non-compliance of his wife. But I'm willing to be surprised!

  4. Frankie,

    very funny. I love jokes.

  5. Here's a few more....

    A Catholic nun was sitting on a train opposite a
    Muslim man wearing a turban, who was eating fresh shrimp.

    Every time he ate one, he spat the tail in her
    direction, requiring her to deflect it.

    He finished the box and threw it out the window.

    Seeing this, she had enough, and pulled the Emergency Cord.

    The Muslim looked at her and said, “You’ll get fined $250 for doing
    that, you stupid, Infidel, worthless Catholic bitch.”

    She laughed and said, “When I cry out rape and they
    smell your fingers, you’ll get 10 years, you towel headed camel-fucker !


    Q. What do you call a Muslim who owns a camel and a goat?

    A. Bisexual.

    Q. How do Muslims practice safe sex?

    A. They mark the camels that kick.

    Q. What do Tehran and Hiroshima have in common?

    A. Nothing, yet.

    Q. What do you call a Muslim who owns 6 goats?

    A. A pimp.

    Q: What’s the difference between Dar al-islam and Dannon yogurt?

    A: The yogurt has a living culture.

    A news reporter goes to see a Jewish man who has been going to the western wall in Israel to pray once a day for 70 years, the reporter goes up to him and says, “hello I’m a reporter for the BBC and we know you’re quite famous around this wall so we were wondering if we could ask you a few questions.” The man agrees and she asks, “so we were wondering; what have you actually been praying for all of these years?”

    The man replies, “I have been praying for peace between the Jews and Arabs and for all world hatred and terrorism to stop, and for my children and grandchildren to grown up in a peaceful world.”

    The news reporter says, “Wow that’s truly beautiful, how do you feel after doing this for 70 years?”

    The man replies, “I feel like I’ve been talking to a fucking brick wall.”


    Q: Did you hear about the Catholic Iraqi?
    A: He was a Shite Muslim.

    Q: Did you hear about the winner of the Islam beauty contest?
    A: Me neither.

    Q: How do you play Taliban bingo? A: B-52...F-16...B-1...

    Q: How did you get out of Iraq? A: Iran

    Q: What do you call a Muslim on a toilet?
    A: Islamic Relief.

    Q: What is the most popular kids show in the Middle East?
    A: Dora the Exploder!

  6. Whats the nonsense with the fatwa against anyone wanting to go on Mars One?

  7. I had lived in the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets for 6 years, and unless you have lived in an area like that then you will take for granted liberal victories, like poking fun at religions. Its quite clear when you walk to work and see the “Sharia Controlled Zone” stickers, forbidding alcohol/music/improper dress because Islamic value are enforced, or see gay people stabbed for being gay (clearly an affront to God), you know any perceived slight wont be laughed off. I believe this sites author had an anecdote about meeting this sort of crowd with the Dark in Hyde Park, and concluding they are the new fascists. Its my view too.

  8. DaithiD,

    nothing short of clerical fascists as Tony Cliff once termed them before it came fashionable for the party he created to have alliances with some of them.

    I remember that day in Hyde Park so well - Brendan was amazed. They were something else. These guys are not about progressive politics. Theirs is a theology of domination not liberation.

  9. I had lived in the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets for 6 years, and unless you have lived in an area like that then you will take for granted liberal victories, like poking fun at religions


    You are meeting the wrong type of Muslim that's all...

    Go to the leafy suburbs of Paris and check this place out**. I can also take to you to a place no less than 500km from there and from each Friday evening until Thursday evening you'll find the brothers banging 20 euro hookers, getting drunk and smoking hash.

    And every Friday until mid afternoon they are getting friction burns on their knees. Now personally DaithiD, I've better things to do at weekends than to visit a Chapel, Mosque or Synagogue...

    **At 46seconds the reporter says it's in the North pf Paris<--deffo in the South Eastern part of the leafy suburbs.

  10. Anthony,
    This is why the author you carry on this site, Maryam Namazie, is important but also another illustration of the problem. The debate has been poisoned by the Left in the country who consistently conflate Islam with race, as such I as a white conservative practicing catholic, and others like me, are not as comfortable in addressing these issues as I should be. As such it can only be done by people like her, and she is brilliant at it, but she gets zero help from supposedly progressive groups. Never mind living under the orange jackboot, try living under a sandal, you will find you have no place ‘left’ to crawl.
    If they rioted like that in Tower Hamlets, they could reasonably claim to be integrating into British culture….. by saying they are replicating what happened at Twadell!


  11. no less than 500km from

    Should have read no less than 500meters..

  12. DaithiD,

    I am no more inclined towards conservative Christians than I am towards conservative Muslims. I just think religion is something people sgould be free to practice ... on themselves but on no one else who doesn't want to be used for religious target practice.

    But white conservative Catholics should be as free as the next person to give their views on Islam. This attempt to stifle and muzzle opinion is a dangerous route to go down. But the Left has tried to back the introduction of blasphemy laws to faciliate the censorship of opinion. They sought the Blanket silenced over its carrying of the anti theocratic danish cartoons. But then you only have to look at the knots the SWP managed to tie itself in over the rape allegations to get a sense of how warped its outlook actually is.

    I think the Left have been opportunist on the question of Islam. A principled left will defend the secular against the clerical and more importantly against the clerical fascist.

    Maryam Namazie is a very capable activist who has admirably faced down the mullahs and their ilk. I must revisit her stuff and carry it again. We have been flooded with material lately so have missed out on what she is at.

  13. Anthony ,
    I agree with you. Although a catholic, I believe a separation of church and state is the only guarantee of my religious freedom. I think we in the west are too far removed from why and when this was fought for, and as such don’t value it and won’t fight for it now. I understand the lefts view of working class solidarity etc, but it seems self-evident that they are on the side of women repressors, and clerical fascists on this one.
    Regarding the rape case, as serious as the allegations were, I experienced a large amount of schadenfreude in Comrade Deltas misfortunes, the papers fittingly characterised it as a sharia court! That they put the onus on the victim using her sexual history as an extenuating factor for what might of occurred speaks for itself.

  14. DaithiD,

    the history of the theocrats slaughering the left should have been a salutary lesson to the left to sup with a long spoon. But they couldn't resist the temptation and in my view betrayed the long historical tradition of vocation of the left.

    The SWP handling of the Comrade Delta case was sbysmal and showed that there is little difference between them and the clerics.