was an ad for The United Church of Bacon. It seemed rather startling
on the face of it, and so I decided to check it out.
I did not spend hours researching the organization or reading every
article I could find, but I believe I got the gist of their position.
When “official” or so-called “normal” churches present their positions
to the world (to anyone who will listen, or to those who might be
inclined to follow their leaders with the presumed hope that such
following will lead them closer to God), usually mixed in with such
“presentation” one finds a lot of requirements for living up to the
standards they set forth, or some kind of belief system to which one
must subscribe and which one must follow if one is to be a true
believer and a member of the “club” (the organization) and eventually
find God. Along with all that, there is usually some kind of
presumption that “club” members are exempt from some rules and
regulations that other people must follow; and even more than that,
there seem to be some benefits for “club members” that do not extend
to others at large.
Sad to say, many of those “official” religions give God a bad name, to
say nothing of being exclusionary, excluding everyone in the
brotherhood of man who does not believe in and follow that particular
religion’s way. Not to say that they wouldn’t interact with those
outside the “club”; but as “outsiders,” they are viewed as not having
the Truth, not being in God’s “inner circle,” and perhaps — depending
on their beliefs — doomed to hell, or at least to a life of misery in
the here and now.
Enter The United Church of Bacon. Half making fun of “official”
religions and half going for some kind of way to reach out and help
people who are not attached to one of those “official” religions yet
want some kind of support, it offers a camaraderie of a sort for the
anti-church “church”-seeker. Having Penn Jillette as its “approved and
sanctioned Sunday school teacher” is telling in itself.
It’s not for me to pooh-pooh all organizations that do not meet with
my particular belief system, nor to insinuate that those who take up
with new and/or strange beliefs are doing something wrong, especially
since I’m very big on free will and freedom of choice. However, some
belief systems might require a closer look.
Let’s say that one’s very own mother was not the epitome of
motherhood, and would not even make last place on the list of “Things
I liked about my childhood.” That may be a fact of life as you
experienced it, yet it does not in any way discount all mothers or the
concept of motherhood. To go about spouting “Down with motherhood!” or
“Let’s trash all mothers!” would not make one the most popular guy in
town. However, no matter how many people out there love their mothers
and praise the idea and concept of motherhood, it obviously will never
erase one’s own unhappy experience of one’s own mother. All the good
ever done in the name of mothers in general, or someone’s own mother
in particular, cannot change the experiences that cause someone to
remember or still suffer from the grimness of their own
mother-experience. Yet should mothers at large be ridiculed? Should
Mother’s Day be banned? Should people who love their mothers be
laughed at? Should mothers be denied access to family gatherings?
As we grow older and wiser — that seems to be the plan — we generally
come to some kind of understanding about mothers in general. We
realize that they are necessary if for no other reason than to
continue to populate this earth. And we also realize that although
they may have never read the “Mother’s Manual” on how to BE a mother,
it is not their job to keep “mothering” us into and for the rest of
our life. That’s right! Who we grow up to be, and the way we decide to
be, is up to us. As long as our mind is in some fashion still allowing
us to think, to come to conclusions and make decisions, we can rise
above the lessons we were taught as children — if indeed they did not
comport with the kind of life lessons that other children were
apparently getting, and lessons that ran counter to what other
trustworthy adults suggested we should have learned — and design the
person we want to be in spite of our impoverished lack-of-mother-love
Now what, you may ask, does any of that have to do with The Church of
Bacon? Humor definitely has its place in life, and being able to laugh
at oneself and at some of the ridiculous things we do along the path
to growing up and gaining wisdom is a valuable and important insight.
Yet there comes a time when we have to step aside from the individuals
— however popular or influential, and that includes the growing crowds
as well — that will laugh at anything, criticize anything, devalue
anything or in some way make something important and valuable into
something of a joke for the sake of making a point in their own
particular way. Remember, in the past people have laughed at the idea
of equal rights for women; they have laughed at the idea of equal
rights for Blacks — and thought nothing of “owning” slaves.
Worshiping God in one’s own way was not always popular, especially
when there was an “official” way to worship and those not conforming
were punished by ostracism, excommunication, public humiliation, or
worse. Those ideas of “We’re the only true religion,” or “God wants
everyone to worship the way we say” make it so easy for the Church of
Bacon to lure away those disgusted with the church machine and the
self-righteous attitude of something like “Worship our way or fry in
hell.” The Church of Bacon “worshippers” simply enjoy the smell
(required) and likely the taste (optional) of bacon, and the sense of
no rules, no dogma, no criticism from the pulpit or the “preacher’s”
stand, and no worry about the afterlife, since enjoying bacon is for
the here-and-now, coupled with support for those who feel “put out” by
the religious establishment.
Unfortunately, however humorous it sounds or seems, there is something
very important missing from this “religious philosophy.” As I attempt
to keep my literalism in check, it still pops out when thinking of all
those many people who add comments to the Church of Bacon articles,
cheering it on and happily joining into the spirit of the movement.
Yes, they are having fun with it, while some of them perhaps still
even believe in God and worship in some other fashion; yet for those
who are struggling with the journey — that would be life’s journey,
including the finding of God — it can give them pause to think that
ALL religion is a joke.
Just as all mothers are not monsters and there are those who cherish
their own mother or value motherhood in general, all religions are not
to be scorned or ridiculed, and all people who practice one or another
of the so-called “official” religions are not fools or robots who
can’t think for themselves. Worshipping bacon might be good for a
laugh, but it can’t be good for the soul. And although good people can
like bacon, and “bacon-worshippers” can still have room in their
hearts for a God that is not of this world, I still feel that to
criticize everything that one does not believe in, wholesale — even if
doing what one believes is “good” in the name of the organization
doing the criticizing — is to do more harm than the good one believes
one is doing.
Bacon will NOT sustain you in your darkest hour, nor be your comforter
or guide in your time of need. Sure, if you like it, it will taste
good. But while God will love you through your bacon-loving days,
bacon will not be there to love you through your God-needing days.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.