It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s… Captain Salvation?

Who cares about all those boring superheros that have spider powers or x-ray vision and super strength? What comic books need is a superhero with real power, from God!


Disguised as a mild-mannered vitamin salesman, the character who will become Captain Salvation is the son and grandson of superheroes. Like them, he relies on his own strength to do good works. But after he survives a mishap in which villains strap a bomb to his chest, he accepts Christ and is born again as Captain Salvation – dedicated to doing God’s will and relying on God’s power.

“Victory!! In Jesus’ name!” Captain Salvation says (in a dialogue balloon) as he vanquishes a giant robot in league with the devilish forces of the underground.

The muscular captain even has a masked sidekick: Joshua quotes the Bible and, in a takeoff on David’s defeat of Goliath, loads his slingshot with magic yams.

Their version of the Batmobile is a vintage Harley motorcycle with sidecar. “Quick, Joshua,” Captain Salvation says whenever there’s new evil to battle, “to the HOLY ROLLER!!!”

[…] At the end of the comic book, Captain Salvation urges kids to pray with him “to ACTIVATE your salvation.”

Magic yams?!?! How can Batman hope to compete against the utter coolness of MAGIC YAMS??? All other superheroes will forever pale in comparison to this dynamic duo! Best of all, you can meet them in person at your local church! Or at least the creators hope you’ll be able to soon:

At Freedom House, a nondenominational church Hawn attends in Charlotte, he met 6-foot-6, 305-pound Burton. The former Panthers defensive tackle blocked a field goal in the 2004 Super Bowl. When they met in 2007, he was more interested in winning souls.

“He about squeezed my hand off,” Hawn remembers. “Then he said to me, ‘Every time I see you, I think of kids.’ And I told him, ‘Maybe God is up to something. I have a comic book.'”

Now, once a month, Burton plays Captain Salvation to groups of children. He’s joined by David Sparks Jr., a mechanic and an usher at Freedom House who dresses up as Joshua, the captain’s sidekick.

But if Hawn gets his way, many others will be portraying the superheroes he has created. Churches can order the comic books – the next three editions have been written – and get the rights (with no licensing fees) to wear the costumes in Sunday schools, mission trips and vacation Bible school.

“I want thousands of Captain Salvations. That’s the end game,” says Hawn. “We just want to spread the gospel.”

So, yeah, in the end he admits it’s just another attempt at propaganda to get ’em while they’re young. People don’t tend to read comic books because they want to be lectured to, they read them to be entertained. It’s not that I think a comic book with a Christian superhero can’t work, just the main point has to be to entertain and not to sermonize because most kids these days will see right through that tactic. The only ones who are likely to pick up such a comic are the ones who are already committed believers, which does little to actually spread the faith.

It’s not like this hasn’t been tried before. There’s The Christian Knight series that’s been around for awhile and has spawned several other characters. And we can’t forget Bibleman which is actually even more transparently propagandistic than Captain Salvation is. None of them are what you’d consider to be a huge success in either materialistic terms (read: making money) or in terms of bringing in new converts to the faith. That won’t stop someone from trying the same damn thing with the same damned intent as is the case here with Captain Salvation. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time then these guys are short a few sidekicks.

It’s not like religious faith has been ignored by the popular mainstream comics out there. Almost all of the well-known superheros have affiliation with a major religion as part of their background story. Superman, for example, is Methodist while Spider-man is more generally Protestant. Batman is either Episcopalian or a lapsed Catholic. All the big religions are represented as well as atheists. Hell, even the Scientologists have a couple heroes in their corner. Of course, the religions of the various heroes doesn’t play an overt role in most of the stories told because the point isn’t to convert the reader.

Which isn’t to say that the mainstream comic publishers haven’t had overtly religious superheroes, though most of them haven’t gone on to mainstream success. Marvel had The Illuminator which was developed in cooperation with major Christian publisher Thomas Nelson that attempted to have a religious message without it being overpowering to the story. It lasted two issues before being shut down. Marvel has had better luck with Nightcrawler from The X-Men who is devoutly Catholic. But, again, the goal isn’t conversion so even the overtly religious characters are an entertaining read.

My point is that if these people really want to put out something that might actually convince some folks to check out their religion they shouldn’t focus so much on the conversion part as much as the writing a good story part. The best superheroes are flawed in some way and if Christianity is about anything it’s about how flawed mankind is and that how faith in God can help you overcome those flaws. There’s an inherent conflict in the fact that Jesus advocated turning the other cheek while superheroes are generally about planting a boot in that cheek and that could make for an interesting moral dilemma for a man with extraordinary powers to struggle with. Show a man of faith trying his best to live by the beliefs he professes to hold dear without being preachy and you just may convince a few people to check this Christianity thing out.

But what would I know? Being an atheist and all, I’m probably trying to trick you guys into putting out a failure of a comic book. You should probably just keep trying to same thing repeatedly until you eventually succeed. If nothing else, it’ll amuse the shit out of me.

Gather round kids! It’s Tea Party Story Time!

Here’s what passes for satire with the Tea Bagger Party crowd as written by failed Republican candidate for Washington’s third district, David Hendrick:

Pic of the cover for The Liberal Clause

They're coming to ruin your Christmas! Aiiiieeeeee!

The Liberal Clause takes place in the small town of Camas, WA where, for as long as anyone can remember, the children have been given the special responsibility of electing the Great Elf Council that serves at the North Pole. This year, however, the ballots go missing. Suspiciously, nasty ol’ Elf Peloosi discovers a box she claims are the missing ballots under a shelf in the back of a union warehouse. The elves are so glad the ballots have been recovered that they don’t bother to question the fact that there are more ballots returned than were cast! This is all reported in local newspaper, The Christmas Times, above a picture of Hendrick himself with the subtitle “Camas man’s rant goes viral”.

The elves’ relief dissipates quickly as it becomes clear something fishy is going on. After the Liberal Party of Elves takes over the Great Council Santa Claus suddenly goes missing and the elf people are told he is being replaced.

via Read The Tea Party Children’s Book About How Obama Stole Christmas. No, Really.

That’s right, it’s a Christmas story about President Obama as the evil Liberal Clause and his cabal of Socialist elves and their scheme to ruin Christmas by forcing all manner of stupid Liberal policies on everyone. Just as you’d expect, it hits on all of the Tea Partier’s favorite talking points such as Obama’s birth certificate, his use of teleprompters, being forced into evil labor unions, the bailouts, Al Gore and global climate change, Obama’s former preacher Reverend Wright, the changing of “Christmas” to “Holidays”, the campaign against obesity, and so on.

The book is filled with really bad illustrations — I especially liked the one with Obama standing next to Josef Stalin just in case anyone reading it isn’t bright enough to pick up on the Evil Commie theme he’s pushing — and the text is about as puerile as you can get. Here’s a small sample:

Shortly after these words left Sneed’s mouth, a man dressed in Santa’s suit stepped onto the stage and strutted to the mike. In front of him, a group of elves ran out holding up a TV screen with words on it. This was the first time the elves had seen a teleprompter at the North Pole. Santa Claus had always spoken from the heart.

The skinny imposter began to read.

“My fellow citizens of the North Pole,” he stated with a hint of arrogance in his voice, “I am here to pull Christmas back from the brink of destruction. My name is Barry, but you can call me Liberal Claus.”

“Are you even from the North Pole?” an elf questioned from the crowd.

Liberal Claus scowled at this elf with pure evil in his eyes. For a moment all of the elves stood in disbelief waiting for a response, but the response would never come.

In the end it comes down to one brave girl who, after finding out the truth about Liberal Clause’s evil plans from “Ox News”, rallies the other children to form a Tea Party. They defeat the the evil Liberals by unplugging Liberal Clause’s teleprompter — without which he is apparently powerless — and then dumping all the free candy they got into the local lake.

I suppose in a way it is pretty funny in a stuffed-shirt inflated sense of self-importance way, but it’s also disheartening to think that for many Tea Partiers the falsehoods presented in this story are Gospel truths. It’s also a creepy kind of child indoctrination following in the grand Christian tradition of “gettin’ ’em while they’re young.”

Though Hendrick is hardly the first TPer to put out propaganda for kids. He was beaten to the punch by the Tea Party Coloring Book:

Calling it a “wonderful book of The Tea Party for Kids,” a St. Louis-based publisher has sold “many thousands” of its Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids! The book, complete with “puzzles, mazes and connect the dots,” promises to teach kids about “Liberty, Faith, Freedom and so much more!” “We’re not really making a political statement,” publisher Wayne Bell told CBS News, though the book contains a good deal of far-right rhetoric. For example, it warns that government-run healthcare “cannot be the only choice,” and that “[w]hen taxes are too high, the high tax takes away jobs and freedom.” “In 1773 we had a Tea Party and this led to freedom from high taxes,” the book explains to kids. “Today we are having another Tea Party and this will lead to freedom from high taxes again!” (Nevermind that tax rates in 2009 were actually the lowest since 1950).

I suppose I should at least be happy that Hendricks story doesn’t end with the kids taking up arms and killing all the Liberals and then mounting their (the Liberals) stuffed heads on the wall. Actually, I’m a little surprised that’s not how it ended.

New Christian movie about Christmas shows how evil us atheists really are.

So have you heard about the new Christmas movie coming out soon called Christmas with a Capital C? You’ll never guess what it’s about. Here’s a hint: It’s one of Bill O’Reilly’s favorite things to harp on starting right about this time of year. That’s right! It’s about the:


When you first see the trailer you’ll think it’s a parody, but it’s not. Check it:

Is that just flabbergasting or what? The Digital Cuttlefish, which is where I saw this trailer first, pretty much sums it up:

No wonder people look at me strangely when they find I’m an atheist; this movie presents what they think atheists are, and I am not at all like that. Come to think of it, nobody is like that.

This is a beautiful piece of propaganda; in the trailer alone, the revisionist history about both the holiday and the country shine through. As most of us know (except, of course, the people who need to the most), the beginnings of Christmas in America (home of The War On Christmas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fox News) were not festive in the least. The Puritans had better, purer things to do on December 25th (for a couple of decades in the 1600’s, Boston even had a law prohibiting the celebration of Christmas!); a Christmas holiday as we know it did not begin until the 1800’s. Interestingly, celebrating Christmas (as opposed to observing it) spread with the notion of Santa, “The Night Before Christmas”, and commercial connections to stores and products, not with the story of the birth of god’s human sacrifice.

Yes, that’s right. The rise in popularity of the modern holiday of Christmas had more to do with Santa and good old fashioned materialism than anything having to do with the birth of Christ. Which shouldn’t be too surprising considering that the original holiday was dreamed up by the Catholic church to allow the Pagans to continue their Winter Solstice celebrations with the “proper” religious iconography in hopes that converting them would be easier. It’s basis in Pagan rituals is part of the reason so many True Christians® in the past made a point of banning it in the legal code of the time. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about the delusion of Christian persecution this movie represents.

Apparently this film was in production back in February and is just getting noticed outside of the Christian nutcase fringe because it was shown at the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit last night. Seeing as a lot of news media actually give that convention of the religiously obsessed more attention that it probably deserves this was the first major exposure the film has had. Over at the official movie website we find the synopsis for the story:

Christmas has always been a exceptional time of love and tradition in the small town of Trapper Falls Alaska. Hometown of Mayor Dan Reed (Ted McGinley) looks forward to each year with enthusiasm to all the events, friends and family that fill this special season. Together with his brother Greg (Brad Stine) they dedicate time away from their adventure tour company to drape the town is [sic] Christmas cheer. When Dan’s old high school rival Mitch Bright (Daniel Baldwin) returns home after 20 years, Dan is immediately suspicious. Mitch is a highly successful big city lawyer who has never wanted anything to do with Trapper Falls or its people, so why now?

The rivalry re-ignites when Mitch takes offense to seeing the town’s flagrant violation of the constitution’s Establishment clause. Mitch wants the Nativity scene removed from the front of City hall and more importantly the word Christmas switched to Happy Holidays on all signs. Fifty years of tradition are now challenged not by an outsider but a former member of the community. As the conflict escalates it goes beyond one persons opinion but magnifies into an entire town problem when Mitch enters into the mayoral race to have Dan replaced.

In the heat of the legal battle and facing certain defeat, Dan’s wife Kristen (Nancy Stafford) and their daughter Makayla (Francesca Derosa) wanting to show the true meaning of Christmas are inspired to launch a “Christmas with a Capitol C” campaign as an effort to keep the town together. In doing so they discover the secret behind Mitch’s return but also reminds all of Trapper Falls that with the arrival of God’s Son, peace on earth and good will was to be given to all; even those whose heart seem closed to Him.

I have so got to find a copy and watch the whole thing just to verify that it’s as bad as it sounds from that plot description. Of course, the fact that the hyper-religious Daniel Baldwin is starring in it (as the evil atheist no less!) is already a pretty good sign it’s going to be terrible. It was originally supposed to be released straight-to-DVD this fall, but word has it they may delay it until 2011 in hopes of getting an actual theatrical release. Wouldn’t that be special?

Here’s the really interesting part. Apparently the movie is inspired by a song of the same name by a Christian pop group called GoFish Guys and it’s full of the sort of lyrics you’d expect from a song about the fictional War on Christmas:

Well I went to the coffee shop to get myself a mocha,
The lady at the counter said “Happy holidays”;
I said, “Thanks lady, I am pretty happy,
But there’s only one holiday that makes me feel that way.”

It’s called Christmas, what more can I say?
It’s about the birth of Christ
and you can’t take that away.
You can call it something else,
but that’s not what it will be.
It’s called Christmas with a capital “C.”

Woven between the lyrics are snippets of a comedy rant by Christian comic Brad Stine (who plays the hero’s brother in the movie) about how no one supposedly says “Merry Christmas” anymore. One of the more telling bits he says is “But nobody wants to say Christmas [inaudible] after Christmas. Why? I know why. You do too. It’s because it’s got “Christ” in it and after 2,000 years he’s still intimidating people. You see when a religious person says ‘I am the way’ people don’t want to hear it.”

Which, much like this trailer itself, shows us how Christians think we think as opposed to how we actually think. I can’t speak for all atheists, but I find it pretty difficult to be intimidated by something that doesn’t actually exist. I’m no more intimidated by the concept of God than I am the concept of the Bogeyman, but that will never sink in for the reality impaired.

Doubtless someone will claim I’m upset — which I’m not — about this movie because it reveals how atheists want to kick Christ out of Christmas, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know some atheists who don’t celebrate the holiday at all and are annoyed by it, but the vast majority of atheists I know, and I’m one of them, celebrate the day right along with everyone else. We just leave out all the Jesus-was-born-on-this-day nonsense. The simple fact is that it’s as much a secular holiday as a religious one and has been for nearly a century and a half with the rise of commercialism and conspicuous consumption. It’s an excuse to give each other presents and who doesn’t love getting and giving presents? The retailers are certainly happy about it and work very hard to encourage as much participation as they can. On top of that, most of the rituals practiced have their roots in Pagan custom as much as Christian tradition and, while I may not be a believer in Pagan Gods either, they did have some fun customs which I enjoy partaking in. In fact I’ll go to a Pagan party over your average Christian party any day of the year. Some folks just know how to do it right.

And while it is true that many atheists will put up a fuss about a nativity scene on the lawn of City Hall (or other government building) the vast majority of us have absolutely no problems with one on the lawn of the downtown Church or in the window of a business or on your own front lawn. If a business wants to put up great big obnoxious signs saying Merry CHRISTmas that’s certainly within their rights, but if they want to go with Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays then THAT’S FUCKING OK TOO. In fact, you Christians would really do your image a favor of you’d back off on insisting that everyone only use greetings which you approve of.

Face it. The holiday isn’t yours alone anymore. You don’t have to be happy about it, but you should acknowledge that what you think of as “Christmas” hasn’t had much to do with what it originally was for a very long time. The only reason it grew so massive in popularity is because a whole bunch of shit that had nothing to do with Christ got mixed into it. It’s an amalgamation of different faiths, myths, customs and traditions of which Christ’s birth is only a small part. It doesn’t matter how many times you claim candy canes were invented to symbolize Jesus (they weren’t) or that the 12 Days of Christmas is a coded reference to Christian concepts (it’s not) or whatever other popular piece of Christian revisionist history is making the rounds regarding this holiday, the truth remains that it’s a sloppy mess of secular, religious, and plain old myth making that happened to capture the attention of the masses.

And, honestly, it’s probably one of the best bits of Public Relations any religion could hope for. It makes a lot of people, Christian and otherwise, feel pretty damn good for at least a few days every year. Granted, it also stresses the fuck out of them for about three months, but when the day finally arrives it does seem to bring a little of that fabled good will towards all men that everyone — Christian, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. — would love to see realized in this world. Why would you fuck that up by being so obnoxiously shrill over what a store decides to use as a greeting on their seasonal sale signs? Or any of the other obnoxious things you do to try and force everyone else to celebrate the day the way you think it should be celebrated?

If you want to focus on the story of Christ’s birth and whatnot then, by all means, make that the focus of your celebration. Go ahead and knock yourself out! We won’t mind! But let the rest of us celebrate the season the way we see fit as well. Be happy that something you had a hand in creating seems to bring some joy to the world even if it’s not exactly the way you had intended it to bring it about.

Or you could continue to be obnoxious pricks about it like you have the past few years with movies like this one and continue to wonder why Christians have such a bad image among non-Christians.

The IDiots behind the “Expelled” movie manage to screw up again.

You may recall a week or so ago an entry here by R.D. Newman about how Professor PZ Myers was expelled from a screening of the Intelligent Design propaganda film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It was particularly amusing because they apparently didn’t realize one of PZ’s guests, all of whom made it into the movie, was Richard Dawkins. Well this caused quite a bit of a stir and the cancellation of a few screenings as the producers tried to figure out how they could spin the fiasco to their advantage. They put out a lame press release that didn’t convince anyone and then decided they would hold a conference call and invite a bunch of journalists and bloggers.

Now for a group that keeps harping on the idea of free speech being denied to ID believing scientists you have to wonder why they go to such great lengths to control who has the freedom to ask questions at their events. The conference call, for example, only allowed questions to be submitted via email as all of the lines the journalists/bloggers were on were muted. This means that the producers of the film could happily ignore any emailed questions they didn’t feel like answering. However at least one line into the conference was two-way and the producers were stupid enough to mention this fact—along with the code for the unmuted line—about an hour before the press conference was due to begin on the very line that the journalist/bloggers were going to be listening in on. They assumed that there wasn’t anyone on the conference line that early before the start time, but there was:

However, I dialed in a few minutes early, and got to listen to a tiresome five minutes of Leslie and Paul chatting away, during which time they mentioned the secret code (DUNH DUNH DUNNNNH!) for the two way calls. I know. Sloppy, unprofessional, and stupid, but that’s the way they work.

So … I redialed. (DUNH DUNH DUNNNNH!)

Then I listened along quietly until I could take no more.

Yes, PZ managed to crash their party once again. Better yet, the girls over at Skepchicks recorded the whole thing. Again PZ shows the IDiots just how stupid they are. Can’t wait for the next lame press release from the folks at Expelled explaining how they knew PZ was on the two-way line all along and blah blah blah.