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Why doesn’t God pay tax? I’m not suggesting that God actually does the transfer. He has elected representatives among us, apparently — and authorised them, allegedly, to collect funds on his behalf. Some of them have outfits and everything. The ruling that God’s money is safe from SARS can only ensure that shysters and thieves breed under and cling to his holy hem. If we audited churches and had them cough up, surely we would help create a better average quality of believer, surely? Wouldn’t the faithful like the idea that we assist them and close loopholes in tax laws that will keep the worms out? Why would you resist such a suggestion? Because we hate scrutinising our strongest beliefs — faith is like writing or music — the popular kinds are seldom any good. Questioning what you believe is not to destroy your belief, it’s to make sure the thing you believe in has foundations — a house built on rock, I think it says.

I know some people have already started to react to the above words. That knee-jerk is what has kept flimsy houses up for centuries. While most things are open for debate, and for humour, the one monolithic no-no that rapes the simple symmetry of the human horizon is this nonsense that God is beyond us. Even for a religious person, it is ridiculous that this omnipotent Pops we have refuses to play with his children. How much would I love my daughter if I refused to laugh with her, at myself? Would I prefer her to dress in camouflage and be solemn and slaughter my critics, maybe even kill herself in protest? Would I demand that she intimidate cartoonists for humanising me, trying to rationalise the foibles of my imperfect fans? I would be a monster.

What is chilling is all the evidence that, if God does exist, we are his ego. Perhaps our suffering is his conversion to eastern philosophy?

If we write off our deities as completely beyond our understanding, surely trying to venerate them is as pointless as Joost promising fidelity? Religious people bandy words about such as “merciful”. How does that become such mouldy manna in the hands of zealots and blinkered loons who keep punishing each other on behalf of their all-powerful bosses upstairs?

Do people honestly believe that omnipresent and omniscient beings beyond our grasp need something as weak and deranged as a human being to enforce their divine rights? Are we to put all our eggs in the basket of an almighty that needs to hide behind us? Why should we put up with stuffed shirts grabbing cash from the poor and old and sick and desperate, and worse — the faithful — on behalf of voices in books written for God by people? How do you like that, we wrote the operator’s manual for our Creator … pretty shameless if you ask me.

Why hasn’t heaven stepped in for the Jews if they are chosen, or Palestine if they have been so wronged — or before America dropped hell on Japan? Where was God as the planes banked towards the Towers? Do we really credit God with the moral ethics of the CIA, who knew but thought they would wait and see how things would unfold? Are you serious that Blood River was his one chosen moment to kick some butt and he sided with the only people in the fight who had guns? Smart choice but hardly great PR. What about orphans? Everyone loves an orphan. Perhaps during a hurricane, that would be on CNN, and we love a good special-effects piece, don’t we?

What kind of dad would I be if I allowed my child to play with fire, electricity or venomous snakes, or maim other children who said I was an idiot? Or if I allowed my child to spew hatred, or form groups of armed kids, and allow them to go around, breaking other kids’ toys and forcing others to submit to their will? You would not stand for me then, you would stare and shake your head and mutter disapproval, one or two of you might call the authorities and report me. How come our Father can do all of the above, allegedly?

Around now, some may quote fear of hell as a good motivator to avoid such heresy … do you really believe there is a place where people do worse things to each other than here? Look around — we have authored suffering that would send shivers down a devil’s spine. And would a deity who wanted me to emulate their positive essence really dangle me over a pit of monsters to extract a sincere expression of love … come on kids, I’m off to paint eggs so the bunny can lay them to remember a guy who was nailed to a cross to save me, because I was born bad … which is not odd, because on his birthday, a pagan priest visits a pine tree in my lounge to eat sacrifices and leave bribes for children before he vanishes over a ritual fire – oy vey — are we screwed.

You know, atheists may have a bleak Christmas, but perhaps they know how to truly appreciate miracles for what they are — chance dancing with itself.


  • You can follow John on Twitter if you like @fortyshort. John Vlismas is an increasingly reclusive former hell-raising coke fiend and fall-down drunk. Now a scuba teacher and far better father; he is an award-winning anti-socialite, has played The Royal Albert Hall and has been described as "blunt" but also as "sharp". He has little regard for team sports and his name is very often mispronounced. He is also the co-owner of a company called "Whacked", which does good things for local comedy.


John Vlismas

You can follow John on Twitter if you like @fortyshort. John Vlismas is an increasingly reclusive former hell-raising coke fiend and fall-down drunk. Now a scuba teacher and far better father; he is...

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