Friday, 6 November 2009

Bad Faith Awards 2009: the polls are open

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Who should win the 2009 Bad Faith Award? Vote now using the poll at the top right of this page - see shortlist below for more on the challengers.

Ladies and gentleman, the time has come. For months now, nominations have been pouring in for those most deserving of our prestigious Bad Faith Award, presented each year to the person deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution to the cause of unreason.

Last year saw a runaway victory for erstwhile US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (oh those halcyon days, when she was a mere election and a heart attack away from the nuclear codes). Of course, Palin was always a frontrunner in that contest (Bad Faith, that is), but this year's poll may well be more closely contested. Drawn from nominations we've received online, by email and by post, as well some of our own based on another year of tackling the forces of irrationalism in the pages of New Humanist, here's the shortlist, in alphabetical order, of the 10 enemies of reason ready to battle it out for the ultimate prize:

Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya: The Islamic world's leading creationist charlatan will be looking to go one better than last year's second place finish, when he polled a staggering 1,091 votes on the back of his attempt to have Richard Dawkins' website banned in Turkey. Oktar must fancy his chances this year though – back in 2008, we mostly knew him as the producer of slapdash creationist literature, but in 2009 the stakes have surely been raised by his exposure in our own pages as the leader of what essentially amounts to a creationist sex cult. If you're looking for a good reason to vote Oktar, look no further than the many comments left by his minions on this blog post.

Anjem Choudary: This man surely represents Islamic extremism at its most ludicrous. He's the self-styled "judge" of the "Shari’ah Court of the UK", and a former leading member of Omar Bakri Muhammad's banned extremist organisation Al-Muhajiroun. Earlier this year he tried to restart that organisation with a meeting at London's Conway Hall, which is somewhat ironically the home of British freethought, using his heavies to try and enforce a spot of Sharia-style gender separation on the building. He recently called off a planned march to demand Sharia law for the UK, having earlier revealed on his website how Trafalgar Square would look once Britain is under Islamic rule: he'd replace Nelson's statue with a clock, while down the road Buckingham Palace would "be converted into a beautiful mosque".

Anthony Bush: Proprietor of Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, the creationist zoo on the outskirts of Bristol which we investigated in the September/October issue of New Humanist. Has grand designs for "Creation + Evolution", his very own theory for how life on earth developed, telling New Humanist: "Our paradigm is radical, but may, as Galileo’s did, take many years for people to take seriously." But it's not just creationism that has put Anthony in the media spotlight – it was alleged in October that Noah's Ark breeds animals for Britain's last live-animal circus, and that the head of a tiger which died in childbirth was stored in a freezer at the zoo. Noah's Ark has just been suspended from the British zoo association, pending an investigation into the allegations.

The British Chiropractic Association: An unusual candidate, since the Bad Faith Award is generally aimed at individuals, but there was no way we could leave out the organisation which has arguably done more than any other to put the problem of Britain's illiberal libel laws in the public eye. Unintentionally, of course – the BCA are currently trying to sue science writer Simon Singh for libel, after he described as "bogus" their claims that chiropractic can treat childhood conditions like colic and asthma. Extra credit must surely go to them too for accidentally appearing to libel Singh back via a foolishly premature press release.

Cormac Murphy O'Connor: As he prepared to make way for Vincent Nichols as Archbishop of Westminster, the former head of the Catholic Church in England bid us all farewell by branding atheists as "not fully human".

Dermot Aherne: Ireland stepped back in time a few centuries earlier this year when a law was passed making blasphemy a crime punishable with a fine of €25,000. As the Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Aherne was the man responsible for introducing it. For the inside story on why the law was passed, read Newton Emerson's view in our September issue.

Damian Thompson
: Telegraph blogger and editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald is no fan of atheists. In fact, he doesn't seem to be a fan of anything, unless it's Catholic (and even then, only if it's conservative and backed by Pope Benedict XVI). We've had our own run in with him before over God Trumps ("politically correct atheist cowards", I believe he called us), and he recently described Richard Dawkins as "vicious and crazy" for having the audacity to criticise the Catholic Church. The blogger The Heresiarch, who nominated Thompson for Bad Faith, hit back by pointing out that "Thompson's house style of triumphalist, sneering, ultra-papalist camp ... does more damage to the image of Catholicism than Richard Dawkins ever could". Thompson was also nominated by sceptic Richard Wilson on account of the opinions he expressed in blog posts such as this. And, just as I was compiling this list, Damian shored up his claim to the Bad Faith Award by declaring a wish to burn an effigy of national treasure Stephen Fry on a bonfire.

Pope Benedict XVI: The Pope was up for the award in 2007, but failed to make the shortlist in 2008. Having stated in March that AIDS "is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems", could 2009 finally be his year?

Terry Eagleton and Karen Armstrong: An unusual double nomination, this – one's an ex-trainee nun and a scholar of religion, the other's a combative Marxist literary critic. The link is that both have written books this year criticising the New Atheists and mounting what some might call a more sophisticated defence of religion – see Richard Norman's piece on the subject in our current issue, and Laurie Taylor's interview with Eagleton from our July issue ("God didn't create the world. He loved it into being. Now what that means, God knows, but that's exactly what Aquinas was saying"). As a result, the two academics have been nominated for the Bad Faith Award by "Valdemar" for "attacking Enlightenment values from the well-padded comfort of Enlightenment institutions". Ouch!

Tony Blair: Another repeat nominee. Last year our former PM was put forward on account of his round-the-world interfaith quest, and that's something he's continued this year, in between making millions from after-dinner speeches and consulting roles with global corporations. And trying to bring about peace in the Middle East. Oh, and trying to become President of Europe. What's probably earned Tony his nomination this year is a speech he made in October, in which he suggested that the major world religions should work together in the face of "an aggressive secular attack from without".

So, there you have it – it's a strong shortlist, and there's sure to be some fierce competition between now and the New Year, when we will announce the person (or organisation) who has been crowned 2009's most scurrilous enemy of reason. You can place your vote now using the poll at the top right of this page.

To help get things moving, we've once again asked our in-house rationalist bookmakers Paddy Gowers to price up the runners and riders for the Bad Faith Award:

Adnan Oktar 7/2 F; Pope Benedict XVI 8/1; British Chiropractic Association 10/1; Anjem Choudary 10/1; Damain Thompson 12/1, Anthony Bush 14/1, Dermot Aherne 16/1, Cormac Murphy O'Connor 25/1, Tony Blair 40/1, Terry Eagleton & Karen Armstrong 50/1.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

God, please let it be invidious, snivelling, obnoxious Damian Thompson. He may not have the power and influence of the Pope, but goddammit I actually think I hate him more. At least most of the other candidates have the decent, common hypocrisy to cover up their insufferable ignorance and their loathing of humanity. Whereas Damian Thompson's fundamental misanthropy is allowed brazenly to shine its ghastly light upon the world, unshielded by the normal filters of intellectual conscience, so that there's not the slightest doubt how despicable and wrong about everything he always is. Just the sight of his smuggest-of-smug profile picture (with the shirt and tie that don't quite fit, like a school boy's uniform bought to last til next year) is enough to make me want to vomit all human decency into his shoes.

But hey that's just my opinion. (Something Damian Thompson has never said.)

Andrew King said...

Is it possible to vote for all of them?

I really want to vote for all of them.

Roger Davidson said...

Surely the Pope is too easy - you could take him out of the running on grounds of infallibility. Plus, he's only the Pope after all; surely the Bad Faith awards should focus on those in a position to know and behave better, not those bound by their status as, say, Vicar of Christ...

woodpigeon01 said...

So much crazy, how can you choose? Nice to see Dermot Ahern there - good one!

Michael Smith said...

Fuck me, you people do a great job of making us humanists look like deranged bigots.

Anonymous said...

The polls are a bit of fun but I agree with Michael. It's hard to square the word rational with the image some of these comments conjure up of foaming at the mouth bigotry.

I also think the 'God Trump' cards are a bit smug. Is riducule and getting peoples backs up the best way to make them see sense?

Leveller on the Liffey said...

I don't consider highighting the zealots' or law-makers' actions that their adherents would have impact on all our lives if their advocates had their way amounts to bigotry.

Surely the awards are just another way of raising questions in a media that genuflects to the various religious beliefs but loves polls.

Anonymous said...

How can't Pope Benedict win? I was surprised that his equating homosexuality and the loss of the rain-forests in his Christmas speech was not included in his quite short section.

I did feel inclined to reconsider my vote in light of Roger Davidson's comment - how very true.

Loren said...

I think that this poll ought to be a multiple-choice one or a preference poll.

With the latter, there are various algorithms to find overall preferences, like Borda and Condorcet and instant runoff, so it might be interesting to run all of them to see how they compare. Here's a site where you can make preference polls:

http://betterpolls.com/

Anonymous said...

Pope Pope Pope

Being anti condom in Aids-ridden Africa. Pretty hard to top that.

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to finding Choudary on this list when I navigated to the page, but when I saw you'd included Aherne, I realized he was a natural. What a perfect storm of contempt for hard-won human rights, trumped-up piety, and abuse of power.

On the side of the angels said...

it would help if you opposed the Pope for real reasons rather than presumed ones which you deem contrary to your factoids !!!

His alleged allusion towards homosexuality and the rainforests is an out-and-out lie. He made no mention.

Also ; given that condoms are only 85% safe [UN stats] isn't using them a false security and merely a game of russian roulette ?
Many world experts on hiv [including the CMO of Harvard] agree that condom equivocation aggravates a situation in providing false security [think the philippines vs. Thailand , Uganda vs Botswana]

...but of course you don't really care about facts do you - not when it contravenes your ideology - sure : Fire ahead - condemn Benedict XVI as an eidolon to everything you oppose ; but be aware neither your version of reality nor his bogey-ism are cogent or justifiable.

Honestly if you humanists wish to be treated with any credibility - you need to get your act together and fight your real adversaries...

Anonymous said...

Why not CAN them altogether and send them into outer space on the next rocket launch. Hey, they might make it as the next syzygy.

Anonymous said...

Guidance from the committee:

Do we vote on who we hate the most, think is the most dogmatic, or who we believe is the worst influence ?

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that Cormac Murphy O'Connor is neither fully Irish nor fully male. I'd vote that he is fully deluded and fully crazy though, but I'm also betting he doesn't give a hoot since he's also full of money.

dublinstreams said...

its Dermot Ahern not Aherne

Sarah said...

I'm going to have to go with Aherne. I may hate others more, but he's doing more damage by getting laws passed.

Anonymous said...

No one in Turkey likes Adnan Oktar , he is just fraud and big liar. None of his words matches with Quran but he and his a few fans seems to like and belive him like he is messiah.He use his money to be on TV shows or websites.Try to impress and trick rich families children by creating his own closed world.

Anonymous said...

team adnan oktar ftw!! lol. no one deserves this award more than adnan. he must be at least in top three.

Anonymous said...

I have to vote for the pope. The negative influence and unnecessary human suffering his ill-considered anti-scientific nonsense has on the world, especially parts of it plagued by AIDS, is a hard one to beat.

Anthony said...

You appear to missed Melanie Phillips.

Fiona Donaldson said...

Just had to vote for Anthony Bush, I mean a creationist zoo? In England? Children are being taken to see this by schools, what a world...

Anonymous said...

wheres barak obama? hes promised everything under the sun(and won a nobel funkin prise for it) and delivered nothing! or is that just to be expected from polititions thusly ruling him out?

Anonymous said...

So to get on this list it's enough to "have written books this year criticising the New Atheists".

That's a little scarey. Shall we burn their books?

BTW, I vote for Damian Thompson, who proves that it's far easier to be snide than it is to do up a tie properly.

Anonymous said...

I"d like ten dollars on pope Benedict, please.

Dwight Gilbert Jones said...

I nominate the BHA for hijacking Humanism as a nicer suit of clothes than atheism, their non-belief that keeps on selling more books for Dawkins, but steals all that is good from the brotherhood of Man for that purpose.

Revive Renaissance Humanism! And leave people's collateral beliefs as their private matter.

Michael Smith said...

. . . and Dwight Gilbert Jones wins the thread.