Just One Small Critique About That Otherwise-Hilarious Onion Headline… January 4, 2014

Just One Small Critique About That Otherwise-Hilarious Onion Headline…

One thing I appreciate about The Onion is that it’s an equal-opportunity offender

But the headline would sting a little more if those same Christians weren’t kicking out atheists who wanted to volunteer with them…

Whatever. I still laughed.


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  • I used to volunteer at a church-run foodbank and while they very commendably do feed the poor, their primary agenda was a missionary one. For instance, they push their bible-study class by seeing that participants get first place in line when the food is handed out. Choices are a lot more limited by the time the bible study groups have gone through them.

  • Neko

    Some fundies I know cook for and feed the poor on Sunday while I sit home watching football. No strings attached.

  • Makoto

    I’ve been hitting a similar issue in my local free dinner program. It’s mostly supported by a couple of local churches, and most of the volunteers are from one in particular. I’m atheist, but help out because I think making food and serving it to those in need is a good thing to do.. but they’re pushing more and more forced prayer and other religious items into the food line.

    Probably won’t stop making the food, but each time I consider just walking away from the serving line when they start off with their forced prayer.

  • i reserve my critique for believers who want to destroy my freedoms, oppress me, or otherwise engage in hateful behaviors against minorities and nonbelievers.

    if you actually are feeding the poor on your own dime/time, you move to the back of my list of people to rail against. i may agree with H and others that they offer charity at the cost of listening to a sermon. yeah, that sucks. it’s wrong. but…

    my list of believers to oppose and shut down begins with what i think of as “active haters.” the ones who do NOTHING to help the downtrodden, and everything to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

    there are more than enough of them to keep me busy 24/7. we’ll get to the “jesus loves you, eat this food” types later.

  • Mario Strada

    Well, someone has to watch football. Imagine the economic consequences if everyone stopped watching football. Media companies would go bankrupt, sport franchises move to other cities, ballplayers would have to trade their Lamborghinis for Priuses.
    So, you are also doing your part for charity.

  • anniewhoo

    Personally, I’m delighted that Christianity is not on the big ‘no-no’ list over at The Onion. I also wonder how many Christians, not knowing the Onion is satire, will be outraged and share this on their social media site of choice.

  • Neko

    I hate to break this to you, but certain atheists were being satirized, not Christians.

  • Art_Vandelay

    That’s what I got too. It’s mocking people that criticize people’s religious beliefs because sometimes those religious beliefs motivate them to do charity. Completely off the mark by the way. If you’re practicing acts of kindness because you think it will please a 2000 year old Palestinian carpenter, it’s still great that people are being helped, but it doesn’t make you any less of a mindless sheep. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Neko

    Well, I think the Onion was specifically mocking atheist rhetoric about Christians.

    As for practicing charity because it would please Jesus, I don’t think that’s so bad. I see Jesus in part as a cipher for moral idealism, so in that respect it’s not mindless.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Oh, okay…I thought religious people adhered to a set of beliefs from stone age Judea because someone told them it would make them immortal. I didn’t realize it was just a cipher for moral idealism. That explains all the shitty things people do in the name of Jesus.

    Anyway…it doesn’t matter whether you think they are mindless sheep or not. If you’re a person that thinks they are mindless sheep, the fact that they volunteer at soup kitchens is in no way an argument against that claim. There are other arguments against that claim but this isn’t one of them. Being a mindless sheep doesn’t mean that you’re morally repugnant. It just means that you’ve surrendered your critical faculties and became a slave to an idea.

  • anniewhoo

    Hm. I interpreted it differently. I thought they were using the obvious stereotypical atheist speak to cover their butts.

  • Neko

    OK, you made me laugh, you win.

  • Neko

    Don’t think so.

  • Slaughter

    “Local church dull of brainwashed idiots…” Don’t see how that refers to atheists, considering our aversion to places of worship.

  • God’s Starship

    So what do you say to the guy who serves the poor on Sunday and then votes for the guy who proudly boasts he wants to cut food stamps to the neediest families?

    PS. The article is funny.

  • Neko

    The thing about satire is that it’s ironic. It also has to play on recognizable truths, or it doesn’t make sense.

    If the Onion was satirizing Christians for being “brainwashed idiots” who happen to be serving the poor, where’s the irony?

    The recognizable truth is the rhetoric, familiar to anyone who frequents atheist sites, often used to criticize Christians. The Christians here are the good guys serving the poor; the rhetoric is therefore ironic. The satire is of atheists who deploy the rhetoric.

  • Dan Weeks

    I thought you might have liked this one, but the first thing I thought of was them denying atheists and non-religious volunteers, and then I lost the stomach to read it

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Satire is difficult in a world of Poe.

  • UWIR

    Paraphrasing a quote I saw once: you don’t need religion for bad people to do evil, or for good people to do good, but you do need religion for good people to do evil. People don’t serve others because they’ve joined a church, they join a church because they want to serve others. Religion just takes credit for the goodness that already exists.

  • Richard Thomas

    Does The Onion HAVE a ‘no-no’ list?

  • Emmet

    Good on you for helping out.

    Why is it important, though, to do “good things”?

  • Jonas

    Oh Onion, will you ever cease to make me laugh?

  • Anyway…it doesn’t matter whether you think they are mindless sheep or not. If you’re a person that thinks they are mindless sheep, the fact that they volunteer at soup kitchens is in no way an argument against that claim. There are other arguments against that claim but this isn’t one of them. Being a mindless sheep doesn’t mean that you’re morally repugnant. It just means that you’ve surrendered your critical faculties and became a slave to an idea.

    I think this is just the sort of condescension the Onion is satirizing, Art. By all means, criticize the bad things that religious people do in the name of their God, but at least admit that they also do things that aren’t so worthy of your rationalist contempt.

    As far as nutty beliefs go, the myth that all Christians are irrational homophobic idiots is one that should really go the way of phrenology and haruspex.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Anton, my uber-moderate Christian practically atheist friend…I’m not speaking about myself. I neither think that all Christians are mindless sheep or that all of their faith-based actions are worthy of my contempt. I’m simply saying that if you are the type of person that the Onion is satirizing here (ones that think Christians are all a bunch of mindless sheep), the fact that sometimes their religion motivates them to do kind acts is not in contrast with that. If the Onion was satirizing people that think that all Christians are evil, this soup kitchen scenario would stand in contrast to that fine. It’s not though. It’s satirizing people who think Christians have surrendered all of their critical faculties. That does not mean they can’t lift a fucking ladle.

  • It’s satirizing people who think Christians have surrendered all of their critical faculties. That does not mean they can’t lift a fucking ladle.

    Okay. I just question whether that means they can’t do good works for others, which is the point of lifting the ladle in the first place.

    I’m willing to say it’s crass when Christians characterize all atheists as amoral sociopaths. Why not criticize nonbelievers for making crass generalizations too?

    Oh, I forgot. When the shoe’s on the other foot, why, it’s a whole different shoe.