A Heretic’s Guide to Religion

Wikipedia Wordle - Religion

Artwork: “Wikipedia Wordle – Religion” by RichardFOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

by Erin Abernethy (Inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary)

Christian, n. One who believes that Christ died for everyone’s sins so that we might go to heaven, yet feels that you will need to repent and be forgiven of all your multitudinous transgressions before you’ll be allowed in.

Evangelist, n. A Christian with a cult following and a TV audience.

Faith, n. Believing in that which you cannot see or understand. When it’s your religion, it’s called “faith”; when it is your neighbor’s religion, however, it is called “superstition.”

Heathen, n. One who has not yet been enlightened enough to understand and accept your own beliefs.

Heretic, n. One who not only doesn’t believe what you do but also has the audacity to say so quite loudly.

Heaven, n. Mythological place where good Christians go upon death; the streets are paved with gold, the gates are made of pearl, and in the tradition of earthly Christendom, it is all tax-free.

Hell, n. Mythological place where everyone else will go upon death; the climate is too hot, the company is irksome, and one is all too likely to think one has gotten into the wrong line and gone to K-Mart instead.

Hypocrite, n. One who denounces his neighbor for making church into a social occasion while he consults with his wife about which tie to wear and whether her hair looks OK.

Immoral, adj. That which offends you or is an inconvenience.

Immortal, n. Someone who either can’t finish what they started, or doesn’t know when the ride is over.

Miracle, n. An event which goes against the laws of nature as we know them. This may include turning water into wine, raising the dead, or not getting a sexually transmitted disease despite failure to use a condom.

Missionary, n. One charged with translating the holy rites of “primitive” peoples into ideas more palatable to the civilized world, and attempting to convince them that their material poverty is a blessing in disguise.

Neighbor, n. One whom we are supposed to love as ourselves, unless they are married or a man of the cloth.

Pray, v. To petition a higher power to do that which you ought to already be doing.

Preacher, n. One who rants about how you’re riding the express train to hell and then passes the offering plate to collect your fare.

Priest, n. A holy man to whom one confesses sins in order to clear the slate and have room for more.

Religion, n. A popular cult, with more followers.

Reverence, n. To have an attitude of deference, awe and respect; to place one’s deity upon a pedestal in order to watch him or her fall off it.

Rite, n. Going through the motions of a holy service you aren’t sure you understand to commune with a spirit or deity you aren’t sure exists.

Saint, n. Dead sinner, Version 4.0.

Scripture, n. The divinely inspired writings from which our own beliefs are formed, not like the drivel those other people believe in.

Sin, n. That which we would innocently engage in all the time if we did not have the superior wisdom of our holy guardians to tell us it was wrong.

Spirit, n. That which is not material, yet substantial enough to hang the cloak of our beliefs upon.

Tongues, n. Divinely inspired speech which we do not understand, not to be confused with the jabberings of our psychotic neighbor or a sibling who has taken too many amphetamines.

Truth, n. That which I believe and you will too, as soon as you come to your senses.

© Copyright 1999 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2007, 2011, 2015.

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