During this holy time of year, it's time to look at the absurdity of some religions

As the holiest time of the year approaches, I thought it would be a good time to make fun of some religions. Actually, all religions can be poked fun at, because they're just so darned quirky. Take mine, for example. Do you really think it's a good idea to serve alcohol at a church service where a lot of the partakers are Irish?

Then there's the church where the young guys wear crisp white shirts and ties and ride around on bicycles, trying to convince people that their church's founder wasn't a womanizing racist. Hey, there's also that really big religion, the one that's in the news a lot, probably because they treat their women with such respect.

Obviously, every religion has its faults, so it all comes down to faith.

The definition of faith is believing in something you can't prove, and that's why I believe to my soul that Jesus multiplied those fishes and loaves. Heck, I've left dirty socks in the trunk of my car, and they've multiplied.

I actually believe a lot of the stuff in the Bible. (I used to believe all of it until I was in the fourth grade, and I saw Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March. Now I sometimes wonder if somebody did hold another creation over in the next county.)

There are actually two reasons I'm writing about religion. One is that a group of Wiccans have gone to court to force the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow pentacles to be placed on government-issued grave markers.

(I must note that I wrote a column about Wiccans once, and a few weeks later, I started losing my hair. I've always thought it was a coincidence, because Wiccans don't do that stuff, except on that really bad show with Alyssa Milano. There is always the chance that they farmed it out to some voodoo people, however.)

Anyway, the government now allows 38 different symbols to be placed on grave markers, including everything from the standard crosses and stars of David to the Muslim crescent. They also have some rather esoteric things as well, including something called the Humanist Emblem of Spirit (which looks like those artsy symbols they use at Olympic Games to denote events; this one would be the Stand Up and Hold Both Arms High in the Air event), and an atomic swirl for atheists.

I'm sorry, but if atheists can get a grave marker, why not Wiccans? This seems ridiculous to me on its face. These people gave their lives in the service of their country, and we can't honor them by denoting what they believed in?

The government would appear not to have a leg to stand on, seeing as they already allow Wiccans to state their religion on their dog tags and to hold services on military installations. There are also several strains of Wicca, and some people openly admit to concocting a home brew of Wicca, incorporating everything from Celtic rituals to Native Americans beliefs, but that shouldn't be a problem.

Whatever the case, the government needs to change this now.

Changing directions, many of you may know that the Catholic Church is experiencing a severe shortage of priests. It may have something to do with priests having to take a vow of celibacy. I'll pause here while you get all the lame-ass jokes out of your system.

Anyway, there are guys in the church known as deacons. They study the liturgy, go through some kind of religious boot-camp training, and come out as deacons. They help out with church duties and even get to be up on the altar during masses. In exchange for their help, they sometimes get to give the sermons. Big mistake.

When a priest gives a sermon, you know what to expect. He's going to touch on A, B and C, and it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. Some deacons, knowing they have a captive audience, drone on and on. Worse, they stray from A, B and C and sometimes head off into D, L and Q.

Just last week, at the church I attend, a deacon got up and proclaimed that if you watch R-rated movies, you're going to go to hell. Yes, he really said that. If you watch The Godfather or Saving Private Ryan, you're punching your eternal ticket for the Gruel Café, seated between Kenneth Lay and Joseph Goebbels.

When I was growing up, I was taught what was meant by "don't take the Lord's name in vain." A lot of people think it just means you shouldn't ever say "God" before "damn" (a phrase I readily admit I have never uttered even once in my life for fear of being smitten).

But it really means that one shouldn't speak for the Lord. That's why, in my version of hell, Pat Robertson will be sitting on Saddam Hussein's lap for all eternity for having suggested, among many other things, that homosexuality brought on Hurricane Katrina.

I was going to speak to the deacon, but I held back, afraid I might utter a phrase like, "You freaking dolt!" in church.

I don't have that much hair left.

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