Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recognise bad faith

Your chance to vote in an election that Sarah Palin might even win: the worst faith practitioner of the year

One of the biggest complaints about us non-religious types is that ours is essentially a negative position. Rather than being "for" something in a thrusting positive "yes-we-can" type of way what defines us is that we are against – God, religion, superstition, pseudoscience. While faith-based people are all about proposing, all we do is oppose, and we do it, it is argued, in a trivialising, smug, sarcastic and cynical manner that pays insufficient respect to the feelings and deeply held beliefs of others.

Well quite. Take the New Humanist Bad Faith Awards 2008, just launched by New Humanist magazine (polls are open until the end of November). How typical that at this moment of great Obama-optimism the sceptics would launch an initiative that appears to be aimed solely at mocking. For those who are sick and tired of jumped up atheists sneering at the god-ful, then I strongly urge you not to follow this link to the online poll.

The rest of you, come on over for some superior satirical sneering.

For this year's award we have invited some of our very best contemporary mockers to introduce the shortlist by podcast. Visit the blog to hear American biologist PZ Myers put the case for Sarah Palin, columnist Johann Hari finger Rowan Williams for his sharia shenanigans, Ariane Sherine of the atheist bus campaign recount how she owes at all to Stephen Green, comedian Nick Doody recall Tony Blair's contribution to world peace, comedian Robin Ince admit to his Ann Coulter obsession, me speak for the Bond-villianish Darwin-denier Adnan Oktar and comic Natalie Haynes, in an unprecedented twist, nominate the entire board of school governors of St Monica's High School, Prestwich for their backward strides in girls' health.

Competition has been fierce since the launch last week. With over 4,500 cast so far Sarah Palin is currently ahead by the length of a hockey stick (here's a vote she just might win), with Ann Coulter and Adnan Oktar neck and neck in second and rank outsiders St Monica's governors showing surprisingly strongly with 10%. The winner will be announced in the January issue of New Humanist and online.

Of course there is a place for respectful interfaith debate and consensus building. But the Bad Faith Awards isn't it. If you feel inclined to have your say in who has made the most ridiculous faith-based statement of the year and play your part in exposing an enemy of reason, cast your vote now.

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