Now, that line may look wrong to some people, for various reasons. “Jason, aren’t you an agnostic?” Yes I am, despite being baptized into the Episcopal church and being confirmed in my younger days. I have since thought my way out of it (damn that logical brain, with all the thinking, thinking, thinking!) and now pretty much believe it’s hubris to think anyone knows for sure, absolutely, one way or the other. Yeah, militant atheists, that means you too. “Then why are you praising God? Isn’t that kind of… out of character?” I’ll get to that, keep your pants on. “Jason, aren’t you supposed to capitalize the pronoun you refer to God with? As in He, instead of he?” Yes, generally, that’s the accepted use, but it doesn’t apply in this case… because I’m not talking about Jehovah, the Big Man, Jesus’ Pappy, the I’m-Really-Not-A-Knockoff-Of-Zeus-And-A-Bunch-Of-Other-Middle-And-Near-Eastern-Father-Gods-Honest God of the Bible.
I’m talking about the God… of Facebook.
The Good Lord ministers to a flock of nearly 1.8 million followers on Facebook regularly, as well as over 74 thousand Twitter faithful. If he isn’t the deity of the book, he seems to be doing a far better job of representing the core values of the Big Guy than most of the people who claim to speak for Him. God’s message is one of peace and caring toward your fellow man, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Pastafarian, whatever. He regularly creates and posts memes intended to reinforce the positive emotions of those who read them. He’s pro-science, saying that the ability to think is one of the best gifts to humanity and we should use it.
This God often tries to encourage people who might be suffering from mental illness or contemplating suicide to seek help, and consoles them with caring words and understanding. He exhorts humanity to stop killing each other and instead be kind and giving. All of this, and he’s generally pretty entertaining to boot, dealing with people who try to rage at him, who accuse him of blasphemy, and who tell him he’s going to Hell with a kind of word aikido. He has, in some cases, converted a few to believe that he IS God… or at least divinely inspired. Even his non-confrontational discourse with his followers, like his regular “Ask God” features, can be fun to read, as long as you come to it without a stick up your rear.
That’s not to say that God is a puffball “deity”, continually turning the other cheek; he condemns the evil-doers regularly and virulently, and consigns them to a hell made up of cutting mockery and snark. He involves his followers in the process by asking them to submit new Commandments; most are of the “thou shalt not be an asshat” variety. He also takes input on who should feel God’s wrath and “smites” the unfortunate baddie. He regularly makes mock of people who want to discriminate because of their religious beliefs, and recently pointed out the uncomfortable truth about the religious-to-atheist ratio among suicide bombers.
One of the big things for God on Facebook is his complete and total opposition to the Westboro Baptist Church. He says that they are putting words in God’s mouth, since they claim that he hates gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. In favor of his point, we really haven’t had any direct input from On High aside from, supposedly, a book that isn’t very clear, has been translated and edited He would only know how many times, and which circularly justifies its claim to be the word of God because it says it’s the word of God. Even that tome, steeped in the social taboos of its Middle Eastern origin, doesn’t come right out and say, “Gay people are bad, mmkay?” He claims, instead, that he loves these kinds of people; after all, if he didn’t love them, why would he make them so cute?
Unlike most deities, this God (the one on Facebook, that is) is getting off his duff and doing something about this slander. God has a plan, and for once it’s not your car breaking down when you have no money. His plan is to raise money to put up “God Loves Gays” billboards all over Topeka, Kansas where the Westboro Baptist Church is headquartered. As of this time, the donations to the project have topped $37,000 toward the stated goal of $50,000, with 52 days left in the project. The first billboard is now under contract, and more can be expected to follow. Given the size of God’s following and the stomach-curdling offensiveness of the Westboro Baptists, there’s really no telling where this will end, and I’m pretty sure that the target sum will be a distant dot in the rear view mirror before it’s all said and done.
It’s often lamented that people like the Westboro Baptist loons give Christians a bad name, that not all Christians are like them… but “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” as Edmund Burke famously said, and not much has been done by the Christian community to counter them or ameliorate their excesses. That leaves it in the hands of God, and this time, God’s doing something. It’s not a flood, or a plague of locusts, or people being turned to salt; it’s a campaign celebrating love and acceptance, virtues much valued by that Jesus guy so many people claim to follow and often forgotten by those same people in their rush to exclude and revile those who love differently from themselves. It’s a good effort, a worthy campaign, and if that message sticks sideways in the craw of some virulent bigots, all the better, I say.
Watch the video below and consider giving to this great campaign.
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