Nominations for 2010’s 
“Most Embarrassing Christian Award” 
are in, 
and the ballot is below. 
Cast your vote today.

This award is for the person or persons who have done the most awful, embarrassing thing in 2010, while believing he or she is honoring Jesus. The recipient must sincerely believe that he or she is being faithful, while at the same time humiliating the rest of Christendom in the process. This is your opportunity to vote.

The award will be given out at a special ceremony in my daughter’s garage sometime next year when we get around to it. The ceremony will include a press conference, a media presentation, and potluck supper with Jell-O salads. The winner and all of the nominees will be invited to attend to pick up his or her award in person. Special recognition will go to the honoree who actually comes.

There is a second award for people who have been about the task of embarrassing Christians for a long, long time. This is the first year for this award and will be called the "Fred Phelps Life-Time Achievement Award," named for the pastor of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church who attends funerals for slain soldiers of the war in Iraq with signs claiming that the young man or woman was killed by God to punish America for tolerating homosexuals. We are proud to announce that Fred himself will be the first winner of the award in his name.

To cast your vote, send an email  message to the following address with the numbers 1-5 in the body of your note.

This year’s nominees for the prestigious MEC Award of 2010 are… 

1. Christians who hate Christopher Hitchens
This is a group nomination. Hitchens is a militant atheist who wrote the book, God is not Great, and regularly insults and demeans anyone who holds any religious view on any topic. He also, however, is very ill, and probably dying, with cancer of the throat. 

In responding to his illness, a number of well-intentioned (one hopes) Christians sent him messages on his web page with comments like, "How apropos, losing the throat with which he used to blaspheme"; "this foul reprobate in the end, knowing he shall die, will beg for forgiveness"; and "I can't wait until the last little breath in his miserable body starts to fade, and then he will know if there is a God or not." I’m sure that that last comment really touched Chris and encouraged him to convert.

Some people even sent similarly worded sweet comments about him to their local newspapers and posted them on "Christian" web pages. 

2. The guy who regularly shows up at Obama rallies 
and rails against his lack of religion, and campaigns to establish a more enlightened Christian nation. He carries a sign saying "I'm Voting for the Ten Commandments For Presnident." That’s about all that needs to be said about him. 

3. Sherri Shepherd, co-host of the View
I’m not a viewer, but I’m told that Shepherd regularly says odd and embarrassing things in the name of her Christian faith. She has refused to acknowledge that the world is round, she takes the creationism side of the evolution debate, and in the statement that garnered her this year’s nomination she says that Christians existed before the Greeks and Romans. Whoopi Goldberg tried to jump in and save her by suggesting that maybe she meant Jesus as “the Word” (i.e. John 1:1), but she didn’t bite. She seems to literally believe that Jesus pre-dated the rest of history. And (worst?) she clearly thinks that this belief makes her a good Christian.

4. Pastor Terry Jones and his “Burn a Koran” Day
A protestant Pastor in Gainsboro, Florida gained international fame and shame for his attempt to show those awful, meanie “Moslems” that some of our fundamentalist Christians can be just as crazy as some of their fundamentalist Muslims. He stated that he believed that burning thousands of Muslim holy books would spark inter-religious dialog and would somehow discourage Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf from building a community center in Manhattan. For one brief moment in time he succeeded in unifying the entire planet in opposition to the plan. According to very scientifically produced surveys, for the week of his scandal, every man, woman, and child on earth thought he was stupid, with the possible exception of my cousin Ralph, who thought that “burning the Koran” had something to do with Cajun cooking. See below for a CNN interview with him. 

5. Evangelist Pat Robertson

Also a nominee for the Fred Phelps award has had long career of statements about God and national tragedies that make “normal” (more or less) Christians cringe. His statements this year were in January 2010, following Haiti’s earthquake that killed possibly more than 100,000 people, when he said that "It may be a blessing in disguise." On his "700 Club" program Robertson elaborated, saying, "They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'we will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' the devil said, 'ok it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another." 

My Sunday School teacher taught me that there was some good in everybody if you just try to look for it in prayer. It's good advice, because Pat has managed to keep me in prayer for a good many years.

And now for a serious thought
The serious message in this award (and there is one) is that when people with odd and strange "takes" on Christianity (or religion in general) get into the media for their odd and strange behavior, the rest of mainstream, middle of the road, decent Christians get painted by the same brush.

The message is that, while you as a loyal churchgoer and follower of Jesus may spend your time building Habitat Houses, or writing Congress on behalf of poor people, or hosting bake sales for the youth group, or teaching church school, or visiting the nursing home, as soon as someone is interviewed on TV because she saw the face of Jesus in her Big Mac bun, a lot of society looks at us and thinks we’re just as crazy. It's a tough world, and one of the few things we have to fight back with is sanity and humor. It’s easy to get defensive about that. It takes more patience and wisdom to look at some of these oddities and say, “Yeah, well, we think they’re pretty funny too, but they are NOT us.” Vote for the MEC of the year and remember Mark Twain’s words: “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

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