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Laughing religion off the planet with Pat Condell

Laughing religion off the planet with Pat Condell

With over 5 million hits on YouTube, and another couple of million on LiveLeak, Pat Condell is a leading voice of atheism on the internet. He is also a stand-up comedian, a playwright, a former lumberjack, a talk-show panelist, and a subscriber to The Freethinker.

We tracked the blaspheming infidel down to a garden shed in London and asked him a few questions.

The Freethinker: Your first Youtube video was a response to the Blasphemy Challenge. Was this your first foray into the world of internet video? If so, did you imagine that it would snowball like it did?

Pat Condell: Yes, it was. I didn’t know what to expect. I was looking for ways to publicise my stand-up show when I heard about the Blasphemy Challenge. It looked like fun, so I devised a little rant about how much I deny the holy spirit (quite a lot, as it happens), made the video in my garden shed and posted it on YouTube. The positive response convinced me that this was a medium I should explore further.

I didn’t know much about YouTube, but I guessed that most of the audience would be in America, so I made ‘Hello America‘ about how I see the relationship between our two countries. Again the response was very positive, especially from Americans. It was viewed thousands of times in a few days, and I realised I could reach a lot more people like this than in a lifetime of performing in small theatres. So I mothballed the stand-up show, much of which was topical anyway, and decided to make more videos.

Then somebody alerted me to LiveLeak, a site with a more newsy edge than YouTube. I posted my videos there and ‘The trouble with Islam‘ took off. To date it has had more than 1,750,000 hits, and with 380,000 on YouTube, it’s now been seen well over two million times.

FT: What do you like about internet video as a medium?

PC: It’s open to anyone. We no longer have to ask someone else’s permission to communicate with a wider audience.

I’ve been criticising religion for years, but only in comedy clubs. Whenever I tried to do it in the mainstream media I was censored, especially by the BBC where jokes about the subject are always heavily edited, and it’s virtually impossible to say anything at all about Islam.

The internet allows all of us to bypass these self-appointed gatekeepers and communicate our ideas without interference.

FT: How has becoming an “internet celebrity” changed your life?

PC: Thanks, but I’m not any kind of celebrity. I’m just speaking my mind. My personal life hasn’t changed, I’m glad to say, because I’m very happy with it as it is.

FT: Your attacks on religion in general, and Islam in particular, have led many people to describe you as “fearless”. Are you?

PC: No. I get death threats and I take them seriously. However, I’ve never responded well to bullies, and I have no intention of starting now.

FT: Christian evangelist Dinesh D’Sousa has accused you of being smug. How do you respond to this?

PC: People have called me a lot worse. I’d never heard of this guy until someone directed me to his blog. Since then I’ve read his book on Christianity, and I didn’t see anything in it to warrant respecting his opinion on anything, so he can call me whatever he likes.

FT: Do you still do stand-up?

PC: I haven’t worked the circuit full time for years. I wrote my last show specifically to say something about religion. Confronted first hand by the political correctness at the BBC, I felt the subject was being falsely represented and legitimate opinion was being censored. As a result, religion, and Islam in particular, was getting an inflated idea of its own importance. Stand-up was the medium I knew best, and as I didn’t see anybody else in the comedy world queuing up to address this situation I elected myself.

FT: How would you describe your personal philosophy?

PC: I’m a vegetarian and I strongly support animal rights. (I hope that’s OK with Jesus.)
I find it hard not to smile at religion’s conceit that we’re superior to animals on the basis that we have souls and they don’t, when five minutes in a slaughterhouse would convince anyone that, if anything, it’s animals who have the souls and human beings who don’t.

As for my opposition to religion, it’s not about theology – I couldn’t care less whether God exists or not – it’s a civil rights issue. I believe everyone should be free to determine their own experience in life and not have it imposed by someone else. We don’t need our reality filtered through religious dogma any more than we need spring water adulterated with chemicals.

FT: What is your favourite thing about religion?

PC: If nothing else it is genuinely inclusive. Nobody is rejected, as it doesn’t require intelligence, only faith. Not that some intelligent people aren’t religious. There are people with biochemistry degrees who devote their lives to proving Genesis true. Nobody could call those people unintelligent, but they are fools.

The best thing about religion is that it’s so transparently absurd it can’t possibly last forever. I’m convinced it will only take a small shift in human consciousness for it to be laughed off the planet, and I hope I’m still around when that happens.

FT: What about the future? Will we see a collection of your videos on the market?

PC: Yes. The Richard Dawkins Foundation is issuing a non-profit DVD of my first thirty-five videos which should be out soon.

FT: What can we do to resist the growing influence of religion?

PC: We can speak out. That’s what the internet is for, and it’s the only reason my voice is being heard. We need to make as much noise as religious people do, and with as much certainty about our right to do so.

Nobody should be bullied into showing respect they don’t think is deserved. If you hear somebody claiming special treatment because of their faith you’re entitled to say: ‘No, I object to this. It offends me, it insults my beliefs, and it’s a violation of my human rights.’

Use their tactics if you feel strongly enough. Make a nuisance of yourself. Make an official complaint. Take it to a tribunal. As an atheist you’re part of a minority whose beliefs are constantly ignored and marginalised while religious prejudice is pandered to and encouraged, and you have every right to be offended by that.

Also, I would urge everyone to join the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, both of whom do excellent work in the cause of sanity.

Remember, one person on their own can’t do much, but a million people each doing a little every day can change things very quickly.

UPDATE (1/4/08): Here is Pat’s latest video, a comment on the uproar surrounding Geert Wilders’ anti-Koran film Fitna:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3_qelW5qp4[/youtube]

175 Responses to “Laughing religion off the planet with Pat Condell”

  1. el_polacko says:

    i'm completely sick of hearing about how i'm required to respect the religious beliefs of other… regardless of how completely asinine they are. the healthiest thing we can do is to mock their half-assed, primitive beliefs if we expect this foolishness ever to end.

  2. Ergo says:

    Well done, Pat. Keep it up. I hope more people will join you.
    I for one is on your side.

    Thanks for speaking up loud and clear.

    Ergo.

  3. mike says:

    keep up the good work pat , you are a trail blazer

  4. Oldozsapper says:

    See:

    http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm

    "race" outside of zoology has no place in conversation. It is Emperor's New Clothes. To use the word, sans inverted commas, is to subscribe to a theology of discrimination. To use the word is to reify it, put clothes on the Emperor. If someone attempts to use the word in my presence, I brief them on their ignorance of the above (link) information, 13,000 USA anthropologists!

  5. Belar says:

    Pat Condell is awesome. I've watched quite a few of his videos on Youtube over the last couple of years. I had to chuckle at the comment about Dinesh D'Souza too. He's about as arrogant and pretentious as you can get (he used to do blogs, most of which were devoted to the magnificense of the great Dinesh D'Souza and his amazingly keen intellect..meh), so for him to accuse Pat Condell of being smug is sheer hypocrisy.

  6. Dandelion says:

    Absolutely spot on, Pat!! I have no particular religious leaning though I respect those that do….. That said, providing they are able to maintain the moral high ground. Those that consider you a racist and take offense at what you deliver are simply affirming that they are the ones you are addressing…. yes? As Abe Lincoln said…. “It is better to remain silent and let other think you a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt…” There are hose that with every word they spout just confirm their idiocy….. but not bright enough o even realise it, perhaps? Keep up the good work, Pat….. xx

  7. Bo Diddly says:

    Pat you’re the MAN

  8. Tommy Wylie says:

    Pat’s observations make a lot of sense to me. In 1983 I was nearly sucked into Christianity like a helpless asteroid into a black hole. It’s all to do with the threat of everlasting hell. Right, we should make all mention of hell illegal under hate-speech laws. After all, it is a direct (OK, second-hand) threat against individuals. Once this is removed, the religious fundamentalists will have lost their main converting tool.

    Josiah… I have watched all of Pat’s videos, and nowhere do I find any hate speech. His message is all about freeing the minds of human beings from dogma and baseless superstitious fear. I’m all for it. Every time another female is circumcised, an unjustifiable act of hate and abuse is committed. Every time a happy young girl is forced into an endless cycle of rape (called “marriage”), an unjustifiable act of hate and abuse is committed. We have enough intelligence and human instinct to see which religions / belief systems are aggressive and oppressive… and which are not. Buddhism does not constitute a threat to Judaism or any other way of life.

    The Internet is now the way for communication to be handled properly without interference. I’d rather watch a presentation on Youtube than the BBC. At least there can be feedback and discussion on the Internet. If there is to be a thought revolution in this country, it will start on the Internet. We can all see the way the World is going, and we can see how things will end up if it is not changed. I don’t want to see bloodshed, just a reversal of dangerous trends and the last-minute rescue of humanity.

    And if anyone misconstrues me as racist… I have friends of all colours. It’s dogma and attitude I’m concerned with, not race.

  9. Lauryn says:

    Pat, keep it up.

    I have already made a bunch of my friends listen to you~ they are getting a little sick of all my religious rambles. My favorite video had your “invisible car” epithet and that is such a clever way of wording things. I’m glad that there are people who will say what you have to say and never give up that freedom of speech. So many of my fellow ‘Americans’ could care less about politics or anything like that. Living in such a small town means we have quite a few evangelists but that can’t be helped.

    I have been an atheist since I was very young, thought my family was Catholic. I always told them that the only reason I was an atheist was simply because I thought it would have been much more interesting to be an Egyptian and believe in their afterlife, because hell, at least they had gods for drinking. You’ll never find one of those in Christian dogma.I have subscribed to you on iTunes, favorites you on facebook, and laughed at your website.

    Good luck.

  10. RasputinMcPunt says:

    Josiah wrote: “Condell is yet another product of a secular, dysfunctional, justice starved society. He has allowed himself to be manipulated by the system, and has been led astray by HaSatan into pointing the finger of blame at all the wrong places; he is a rancid, malicious prophet of hopelessness, with which the Atheist creed is replete: offering nothing constructive; no hope, no reason, no dignity, no honor, no moral fabric, no brotherhood; no Ahavah/agape/love for the brothers of the nation; no answers, no solutions; just the wages of G-dless sin- death! Condell virtually foams at the mouth whilst spewing out his insults, a fanatical “whacko” with few peers in the religion of Atheism.

    In all honesty, I actually believe you to be a closet shylock. I notice how you have refrained from picking out the bones of Rabbinical Judaism. You’re just a Pharisee in the guise of Hitchen’s ventriloquist dummy. I pity you for your enslaved state of mind.”

    You’re full of brown stinky bovine gravy.

  11. RasputinMcPunt says:

    Josiah wrote: “Condell makes only biased, provocative and sarcastic attempts at character assassination; not a modicum of intellect and “humour” is contained in such base sport. Condell exhibits the lowest form of wit. In fact, when sarcasm is vomited out with Condell’s vile acerbity, it merely amounts to hate speech. Condell is a hateful bigot, a fanatic for his Atheist creed.”

    And he has people like you pegged to a “T”.

  12. stuart says:

    hi i have just watched your video and feel if more people were not scared to speak up about there views maybe we could have a far better europe/world to live in . my view is that we are in a 100 year war with islam slowly creeping in to our everyday life until it takes over . i only hope that countries like america france germany start to recognise this fact and respond to this threat because in the uk the politicians will be the last to respond to any form of inteligence . perhaps if the tv stations were to televise truthful programs about islam and sharia law (which already is strong in the uk ) many people would be more than concerned stuart

  13. Loyiso says:

    Pat Condell does not just bash religion or spew obnoxious ridicule for fun or comedy, rather he is doing something revolutionary to liberate the natural human consciousness. Pat is playing a major part in civilization, we need to stop giving undeserved respect to these phony flim-flam artists(religious /spiritual teachers) and religious/supernatural BS anxiety spewed by these schizophrenics who need an insane asylum like Josiah.

    Keep doing what you do Pat!

  14. Pvt Chuff says:

    mr. condell

    as a canadian having spent a decade in the uk(1999-2009), my only complaint about you is that i didn’t find you and the Truth until i came back to the old country.
    your country and mine are in deep shit if we don’t bop these nuts a.s.a.p. you and professor dawkins are my kind of heroes man.
    don’t stop callin’ them like you see ‘em buddy and i will spread the word.

    peace

  15. NIQ says:

    .
    This is not comedy(cleverly disguised)… it is a cry from the truly oppressed, those of us who bear not witness.

    No need for a ‘Religion for Dummies’ format. I have my doubts those whom should be touched by this material have the mental aptitude, linguistic level or wits to interpret it as intended.
    And those who have the ‘faith’ and intellectual power will use it to fuel their eternal fire of blessedness.

    Pat is one of the most eloquent persons on earth.
    He clearly understands the difference between spirituality and oppressing religion.

    Josiah obviously has no clue about that – at least until he opens his mind at some point-in-time in this short life we inherit on Earth.
    Josiah is your typical brain-washed(faithed) person who could never see beyond his falsely based knowledge(or ignorance). …and he may remain destructive(if even by oppression) till he passes. But I like to hold faith he will awaken and taste of freedom(free of fear).

    No-one, NO-ONE has sufficient data to elect a God or deny One(or more). The only valid position for all of us is neither believer nor non-believer, but ‘search-mode’.
    Thus: believer, non-believer, atheist, agnostic, worshipper, etc., are all wrong as they all imply it is all about ‘A’ God

    We merely search for the truth thru visual and intellectual observation. The accumulation of knowledge via observation combined with the ingredient of time shall reveal the truth. We are mere instruments walking down the path of knowledge… we discover nothing but rather uncover what already exists.

    Meanwhile, spend YOUR time helping the search and eat your religion on your own plate, no that of anyone else, even if your son.

    Josiah, I pray for you, as one as me so prays for peace always.

    The ‘NATURAL’ Buddhists have it more ‘right’ than anyone else.
    .

  16. John says:

    I have a bone to pick with these athiest commentators…

    First, to set the record straight, I’m an agnostic.

    As the great agnostic Bill Maher said, “Atheism mirrors the certainty of religion”… and he was right.

    Also, you guys call religious people “nuts”… and I simply can’t believe that. Most people on the earth are religious, because they’ve been taught to be so from a young age.

    We, the “doubters”, are lucky to have not been indoctrinated to that degree. We are no smarter or more rational than these people. To say that we are more intelligent or rational, all the while calling them “crazies” or “loons”, is just ignorant.

    Get it through your heads.. you are no better than them. And if you continue to act superior, they will never respect any of you. Stop being smug and start having genuine conversations with these people and try to understand them.

  17. Barry Duke says:

    “Most people on the earth are religious …”
    No they are not. A conservative estimate is that 50 percent of the world’s population are non-believers, and the Dalai Lama estimates that more than 2/3 of the world does not believe in any god(s)
    Also see
    http://freethoughtkampala.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/how-many-atheists-are-there-in-the-world/

  18. shargraves says:

    Sadly, Pat came out recently, as a UKIP supporter. A political party for bigots and jerks who haven’t got the balls to admit their racism and join the BNP.

    As a huge fan of his – I was gutted. Hey – shit happens. I’ll get over it. But I just hope that his future rants aren’t tinted with this knowledge of his backing of racists.

    Anyway – good on ya Pat for all your great vids – I wish you’d kept your political views to yourself though! But – I respect his right to be a UKIP supporter and would certainly buy him a pint of quality beer if I met him in a pub. I guess thats the difference between civilised man and those following a religion.

  19. james says:

    You make valid points in just about everything you say. It is hard to argue with someone who doesn’t scream and yell. Both religious AND atheists could learn a lesson from this man. Though I disagree with 99% of his rants. I would possibly be persuaded to go to a show if he came to america. Just because much of what he says IS funny!

  20. Me says:

    This is all well and good but why is it necessary to batter other people’s beliefs? Really Atheism is still a belief and life style. I’m not religious myself but I don’t find the need to scream it at other people and if Mr. Pat doesn’t have a problem with peoples beliefs than why does he seem ready to begin a religious holocaust encompassing all religions? It seems to me like he needs to get a life and learn to relax a bit more. He says people should live for joy but he is hurting other people…mind that is ridiculous but it is true. While the man is funny as hell he is a contradiction in my eyes. I don’t see the necessity in forcing others to believe in not believing in faith. Which is a belief of faith in itself as you must take the step in the faith that their is nothing out there. So how is he different from the religious zealots he pretends not to be?

  21. rachel says:

    In response to Shargraves’s comment regarding Pat’s decision to vote UKIP:

    UKIP are a NON-RACIST, LIBERTARIAN party- as clearly asserted in their manifesto. How dare anyone use the vile slur of racism to attempt to stifle democracy, free-speech, patriotism? British people have every right to oppose mass immigration, which is already crippling our schools, economy, and welfare state. UKIP have nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with the preservation of free-speech, and the security of our country, for future generations.

    Also, they are one of the very few British parties who are not implicitly Sharia-compliant.

  22. P. Lewin says:

    Thanks Pat.
    As I get older, I have less and less patience for the religions, their lies and imaginary benefits.
    I had started to speak openly about it, like you do, and recognise my attitude in the first video I’d seen of you! You can imagine how good it is to see someone with a very similar attitude :)))

  23. Robster says:

    I was in the Cubs and Scouts back in the 60’s. Had the best time. The only religious element was a short prayer at the start of proceedings. There was no pressure to take part and if I remember correctly, most of us kids treated it with the respect it deserves, that is, as a bit of a joke. Sad that the courts have upheld the Scouts right to discriminate though.

  24. David S. says:

    Salaam,
    As a Muslim I care less on what he says. But what i’m concerned about how he has accused 1.5 Billion Muslims (People) as liers… For what: Denying that Islam “rejects” freedom and diversaty.

    To Mr Condell and his supporters,
    Were the muslims that also died on 9/11 the liers?
    Would the 9/11 victims want to wipe a relgion off the map even though it was not reponsable?
    Are the Palestinians the terrorists even though they are constanly hummiliated and gunned down by Israeli soldiers?
    And who did give that rougue madman osama bin ladin the CIA training that allowed him to crash the planes in the first place?

    He’re a thought.. Get out of the Middle East after all the conflict and wars the American Government put the people though since the day it sprung up oil. And let the nations develop and then we will have all the peace we want. Millitants only exist because of occupation. There are bad and good people in every religion or group. Don’t judge Islam on the unopen and backwarded fools but judge it on it’s teachings.
    Islam is here to stay, And so is:

    Atheism
    Christianity
    Jeudaism
    Hinduism
    Bhuddism
    and other beliefs.

    Peace and blessing of Allah be upon us.
    Salaam.

  25. Jeffrey Jones says:

    There is no “Allah”.