14 Biggest Sh*tstorms Religion Has Gotten People Into4
By Jason Horton
14 Biggest Sh*tstorms Religion Has Gotten People Into
Since man has existed, so has religion. Religion has helped shape cultures, societies, economies – basically life as we know it. Unfortunately, it is also the inspiration for war, assassination, corruption, greed and, sometimes, plain old stupidity. Just look at the controversial KoldCast TV comedy series, Living with the Infidels, which follows a bumbling British terrorist cell as they prepare for the ultimate sacrifice. Go out in public and make a controversial (sometimes stupid) declaration in the name of religion, and see for yourself what kind of trouble you can get yourself into. If you don’t believe me, check out this list of shitstorms created in the name of religion.
Living with the Infidels, Episode 1: Ample Abi
1. Mel Gibson is labeled an anti-Semite.
Before the movie even released, director Mel Gibson was called an anti-Semite for his 1994 film, The Passion of the Christ (an account of the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life). His version of the biblical story was labeled as inaccurate, excessively violent, and anti-Semitic. Two years later, when Gibson went on a drunken rant after being pulled over for erratic driving in which he further slandered the Jewish religion, the claims didn’t seem as ludicrous. But cut the guy a break, at least he doesn’t hate black people or assault women, right?
2. Isaac Hayes, aka Chef, quits “South Park.”
Despite South Park’s lampooning of every religion, sect, ethnicity and celebrity, Isaac Hayes, aka Chef, was only up in arms when the show got around to insulting Scientology. Because of the outrage, his “people” asked that he be released from his contract and the character of Chef was subsequently written off the show. The season 10 premiere of South Park recounted the departure of Chef and asked everyone to not blame him, but “be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains.”
3. Reverend Ted Haggard resigns after being caught with meth and a male prostitute.
In 2006, the Reverend Ted Haggard was forced to resign from the evangelical New Life Church after a male prostitute revealed that he had a three-year relationship with Haggard. To make matters worse, said male prostitute also revealed that he had purchased drugs for the good Reverend as well. Haggard, a staunch opponent of gay rights and a one time confidant of President Bush, apparently never knew about the often overlooked 12th Commandment: Thou shalt not pay for gay sex while zooted out on meth.
4. Madonna gets mad at Sinead O’Connor for bashing Pope John Paul II on SNL.
During a Saturday Night Live appearance on October 3, 1992, Sinead O’Connor protested the then shocking revelations of sexual abuse of young boys suffered at the hand of Roman Catholic Priests by tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II and encouraging the viewing audience at home to, “Fight the real enemy.” Of course, instead of being enraged at years of cover ups and what would end up being billions of dollars of lawsuit settlements, much of the mainstream press, countless Catholic organizations, Frank Sinatra, and even Madonna – MADONNA! – criticized O’Connor for disrespecting the Pope. Yes, MADONNA! Like, I know right?
5. Ayatollah Khomeini calls for the assassination of Salman Rushdie.
In 1988, British-Indian author Salman Rushdie published “The Satanic Verses,” a novel loosely inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Muslim fundamentalists around the world were not amused, and the spiritual leader of Iran went so far as to call for Rushdie’s assassination after ruling the book to be blasphemous. Rushdie went into hiding for a few years, but in the interim managed to write six more books, become friends with Bono, plus get married and divorced three times. In fact, his last marriage was to Padma Lakshmi, the ex-model and co-host of ‘Top Chef’ who happens to be 23 years younger than him. What the hell is his pick up line? “Twenty years ago, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for my death. Can I buy you a drink?” That there is some smooth operating!
6. Pepsi pulls Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” commercial from network television.
In 1989, Madonna had signed a deal with Pepsi where her single, “Like a Prayer,” would be debuted as a Pepsi commercial. The squeaky-clean soda commercial debuted during an episode of The Cosby Show on NBC. But the following week, Madonna’s own version of the song debuted on MTV. This version had Madonna French kissing a black saint in church, witnessing a graphic rape and dancing in front of a field of burning crosses. With threats of boycotts, Pepsi yanked the commercial, but let Madonna keep her $5 million endorsement. She later put this money to good use by paying people to forget the rap in her song “This American Life.”
7. John Lennon is attacked by American Teen Magazine, Datebook.
While being interviewed in March of 1966 by the London Evening Standard, John Lennon delivered this famous quote, “We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.” No one in the UK cared, but five months later American teen magazine Datebook took notice and printed the quote out of context and the four Beatles became public enemy number one. Radio stations in more conservative parts of the US banned their records, some church groups sponsored Beatles record burnings, and those upstanding civic groups like the Ku Klux Klan and John Birch Society protested outside their concerts. Fearing for their lives due to the numerous death threats made against them, the Beatles decided to never perform in the US again.
8. Televangelist Jim Bakker is sent to jail for fraud.
In 1984, television preacher Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye were living out the American dream as hosts of ‘The PTL Club’ and heads of the PTL television network. With their ministry taking in tens of millions of dollars every year, the Baker’s opened up a Christian theme park. They spared no expense since they were accumulating a small personal fortune and numerous real estate holdings through their Christian efforts. That all crashed down around them in 1984 when the US Government started investigating the PTL ministry and found Jim Bakker guilty of 24 counts of mail and wire fraud. Even worse, the investigation revealed a $279,000 payment to one Jessica Hahn in exchange for her not going public with allegations that Bakker raped her a few years earlier. In 1989, Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in a federal prison, but his sentence was later reduced and he only ended up doing about 5 years of hard time. That time went to good use, though, as Bakker admitted in 1996 that the first time he ever read the Bible all the way through was during his incarceration.
9. Tom Cruise & Scientology (insert own jokes here: limit 5).
It’s hard to mention one without thinking of the other. It was not until Cruise joined the ranks of this religion that we began to ask questions. Who is L. Ron Hubbard? Why do you have to pay to be a Scientologist? But it wasn’t until 2005 that the real fun started, and the handsome face of Scientology became the crazy face of Scientology. It started with his attack on Brooke Shields and her use of antidepressants to treat postpartum depression. Shields responded angrily stating she wouldn’t take advice from anyone who believed in space aliens. This led to a heated conversation with Matt Lauer on The Today Show. But that year’s most memorable Tom Cruise/Scientology moment was the infamous couch rant on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where Cruise proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes. Tom Cruise’s career seems to have survived the rants, but Scientology took a big blow to the gut.
10. Cult leader David Koresh engages the ATF.
On April 19, 1993, David Koresh and 75 of his followers died when their compound headquarters in Waco, TX burned to the ground after a 50-day stand off with the ATF, Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Koresh, with his messy hair, glasses, and everyman style of dress, struck many as a bit too nerdy and creepy to be a charismatic cult leader in the vein of Charles Manson. But this cult leader was like any other maniac. He hoarded automatic weapons, married 15 women, and lead several people to their deaths… all for his warped truths.
11. Cat Stevens gets deported for visiting Dolly Parton.
In 1978, folk singer Cat Stevens completed his conversion to the Islamic faith by changing his name to Yusuf Islam and dropping out of the music industry. His name rarely re-surfaced in news circles after that, although he was scheduled to appear at the 1985 Live Aid concert (he was skipped because Elton John played too long) and was briefly tied into the controversy surrounding the aforementioned fatwa involving Salman Rushdie. All that changed, however, after the 9/11 attacks, he was traveling to see Dolly Parton and was denied entry into the US. His name surfaced on a terrorist watch list, and he was detained by authorities upon his arrival. Stevens/Islam was deported back to the UK the following day and repeatedly denied rumors he provided monetary support to Hamas. He was allowed entry back into the US in 2006, and no further incidents have occurred.
12. Jeremiah Wright says God Damn America.
During The 2008 Presidential Elections, the pastor at the church of then US Senator Barack Obama came under fire for sermons in which he denounced whites and Jews while sharing his vision of what is often described as Black Liberation Theology. The reverend Jeremiah Wright was quoted saying, “In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01. White America and the western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away.” He was also quoted saying “God Damn America” and other inflammatory statements that were taken as reverse racism. Obama initially only condemned the words of one of his mentors, but he later resigned from the congregation after Wright made further inflammatory statements in subsequent public appearances. Mainstream and conservative commentators were unimpressed with this action, however, and many tried to link Obama to Wright’s words repeatedly during the 2008 campaign. As former Presidents Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II clearly demonstrated, luckily, being friends with religious whack jobs means you’re a shoe-in.
13. Galileo goes to jail for believing the Earth revolves around the sun.
In 1632, Italian astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei was called before the Holy Office in Rome and, after a Papal Trial, was found guilty of heresy. His crime? Embracing the heliocentric view of the planets, a view that theorized that the sun was the center of our solar system and not the Earth. The Catholic Church, in contrast, taught the geocentric view of the planets, a view that places the Earth at the center of our solar system. Galileo had actually embraced the heliocentric view as far back as 1610, but questioned it publicly as to not come into direct conflict with the church authorities. After his conviction, Galileo was sentenced to house arrest under which he remained until his death 10 years later; the Roman Catholic Church did not accept the heliocentric view until 1757.
14. The world protests against Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”
Every page of Dan Brown’s bestselling mystery thriller, “The Da Vinci Code,” had Christians around the world up in arms. From the mere mention of the illuminati, to referencing Mary Magdelane as being the Holy Grail incarnate, everyone had something to say about this fictitious novel that they believed was poisoning minds everywhere. Not sure that any of the hoopla made a dent, however, considering the film grossed over $750 million dollars worldwide. The Catholic Church got swift revenge, however, when audiences went back for more and suffered through the dismal sequel, “Angels & Demons.”
Living with the Infidels, Episode 2: Voracious Virgins
Living with the Infidels, Episode 3: The Honeytrap
Jason Horton is a New Jersey native breaking all the rules in Hollywood. He is an actor, writer, comedian, and improviser performing sketch and improv comedy weekly at both iO West & the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. He is also frequently in the top 100 viewed comedians on YouTube. He also wants pizza, now.