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United Church of Bacon: May the Lard be with you

August 8, 2014

“Hail Bacon, full of grease, the Lard is with thee.”

So go the opening lines to the United Church of Bacon’s “Hail Piggy: A Prayer for Bacon.”

Despite all the puns (most UCB clergy are “friars”), the secular church has a serious mission: to fight religious discrimination against nonbelievers, to preserve church-state separation in the public sector and to demand equal rights for everyone, regardless of faith.

Prophet John Whiteside talked about why he founded the UCB, why the church’s friars are officiating at weddings and, of course, the obvious: Why bacon? Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What motivated you to start the United Church of Bacon?

A: The church was started at Penn Jillette's house in 2010 by the 12 apostates, all friends of Penn. The first active membership drive was in 2012 at The Amaz!ng Meeting, a science and skepticism conference. The motivation was to get people to donate to secular charities. We go to conventions and team up with secular charities, giving out free T-shirts to people who donate a minimum of $5. We teamed up with the Secular Coalition for America at the American Atheists National Convention in April and raised over $23,600. At TAM 2014, we raised more than $25,000 for the Secular Student Alliance and the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Q: How did you and Penn Jillette, the comedian/illusionist/atheist of Penn & Teller fame, team up?

A: Penn is a personal friend and our approved and sanctioned Sunday school teacher. He’s also known for throwing the Bacon and Doughnut Party at The Amaz!ng Meeting. Other preachers include singer/actress Heather Henderson and comedian Emery Emery who together host and produce the “Ardent Atheist” and “Skeptically Yours” podcasts. We recently named former Seventh-day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell, who was fired for living a year as an atheist, "Prophet of Defrocked Pastors," so he is once again clergy.

Q: So why … bacon?

A: Because bacon is real and can be proven to exist in a court of law. We are a church of skeptics. If you can prove it, we will believe it.

Q: Have you had any complaints that the church is somehow offensive to Muslims and Jews? Or noninclusive of vegetarians?

A: Veggie bacon counts too. Our mission states, “First and foremost, Praise Bacon! (Even if you don’t like bacon -- gasp -- all you have to do is enjoy the scent.)”

Q: What are some of the tenets of Baconism?

A: Bacon is our god, bacon is not jealous, you may have other gods or no gods before bacon. It would be nice if, as some other religions teach, you would love your neighbor and be a generally nice, moral person. Baconists love those of all races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders and beliefs, and they in turn love the divine smell. The smell of bacon is bestowed equally on all people (except those who have no sense of smell, for whom baconists feel much pity).

Q: How many members do you have and what does membership involve?

A: We count about 3,500 humans and 300 pets as members. We will baptize any family member in the name of Bacon as long as they love the smell of bacon, be it real or vegetarian. We ran ads in the religious section of the Las Vegas Review-Journal for six months to attract members and placed two billboards in the city. Occasionally I appear on "Penn's Sunday School" to answer callers’ questions.

Q: You’ve said that nonreligious wedding officiants are discriminated against in Nevada, where you’re based. How so, and how are you trying to change this?

A: Nevada law has long prevented people who are not affiliated with religious organizations from performing weddings. There was a lawsuit that was recently settled, but the results were unsatisfactory to secular groups. Now you can avoid the religious requirement and become a notary public to perform weddings, but you have to pay a fee and take a test every year. To get around this, we started doing weddings as a religious organization for free.

Q: How many wedding ceremonies have been performed?

A: In Las Vegas, we currently have four clergy who have performed or scheduled at least 12 weddings so far. They range from simple ceremonies to ones with many guests. Worldwide, we have 600 registered clergy.

  1. If you don't get it, you won't get it.

    by Will McGarvey

    August 12, 2014

  2. Two things: This article was picked up by PCUSA News Service from Religious News Service wire. It falls under that category of religious news. Second, you do recognize that the Church of Bacon is satire, don't you?

    by Rich Hinkle

    August 10, 2014

  3. You know, sometimes it's just good to laugh. We have plenty of people reporting on the news and we have a Presbyterian peacemaking department that keeps us up to date on what's going on. We're certainly not lacking for information in the news world. As we as a denomination talk about what it means to be a church (1001 Worshiping Communities) and define our place in some of the hot bottom issues (ie., marriage), it's nice to know that our denomination hasn't lost its sense of humor. Praise God for that :)

    by Rebecca Weltmann

    August 10, 2014

  4. I'm confused why this is being reported. What type of nonsense is this? Is this what Christ was crucified for? To spread this garbage story? You have the platform to write real stories and tell the truth about Christ, but you choose to instead talk about this? Shame on you!

    by diana p.

    August 10, 2014

  5. This "article" is shameful.

    by John T. Bates

    August 9, 2014

  6. I think the issue here is not that this news story is presented here, which makes sense considering it is religious related news, but that people would rather have a church where bacon is worshiped as some kind of deity. Also if you are unhappy in the PC(USA) church there are hundreds of other other denominations willing to take you as a member so I would remind posters to consider that some people, myself included, are proud to be members in the PC(USA) church and to please keep your offensive comments to yourself.

    by Nicole Miller

    August 9, 2014

  7. I guess we older folks lose our senses of humor with the passing of the years ... This is not at all funny, and it is surely not appropriate. This must be why the PCUSA news and announcements feature ends up in my spam filter. Henceforth it may as well stay there. LSL

    by Louis S. Lunardini

    August 9, 2014

  8. This post shows an appallng lack of reverance for a Holy God , complete absence of respect for the faith and intelligence of your readers, and an apparent ignorance of those whose tithes pay your salary.Totally tasteless.

    by Marie Bowen

    August 8, 2014

  9. Is this a joke? Is the PC(USA) trying to be funny?, or has it completely given up on its pretendng to be an actual church? Truly sad...

    by Jonathan Ratliff

    August 8, 2014

  10. This is trivial nonsense

    by Jeff winter

    August 8, 2014

  11. Thousands of Christians are fleeing death and torture in Iraq, other groups are suffering horrendous treatment which you could be reporting on, but instead this silly bit of stupidity.

    by Viola Larson

    August 8, 2014

  12. This is perfectly appropriate for the Presbyterian church. Since the denomination has become mainly secular and full of lard, why not embrace such nonsense on the official news website. My prayer is that the Lord (not lard) shuts the PC(US) down soon.

    by Carolyn George

    August 8, 2014

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