This is what a godbag looks like

It’s not a term I use that often, but this is the simple definition of godbag that I just added to a jargon file today:

godbag – religious authoritarian, theocrat

That’s always what the word has meant. There are, sadly, still people who just can’t (or cynically refuse to, for the purposes of partisan demonisation) accept that it doesn’t paint all believers with a broad derogatory brush.

This was the definition offered by a less perceptive website:”godbag n. a person who espouses or promotes a religion, especially in politics or the public sphere.”

Notice the sneaky way they’ve left authoritarian (aka intolerant) out of there? Really, has any religious skeptic ever used godbag to describe someone who wasn’t an authoritarian displaying intolerance (usually with the standard side dressings of hypocrisy and misogyny)? I’m open to persuasion with evidence, but I’ve never seen godbag used to describe tolerant people who follow a faith tradition.

Godbags are fanatics who use religious language to bully other people of whom they disapprove. Religious people who are tolerant of other people’s different choices are not godbags, not matter how public their faith may be.

PunkAss Marc explained in simple words who is and is not a godbag last year, although he’s sharper with his line than I am, but I think the more repulsive specimens of species ignoramus pearlclutchii simply must have things spelt out in pictures.

  • This is what a godbag looks like:
    Westboro Baptist Church demonstrators, who call everyone who isn’t them fag-enablers. [edited to add: link to earlier post on the WBC]
  • More pictures to make things clear:

  • Not godbags:
    soup kitchen mission
    Presbyterian Soup Kitchen Mission
  • This is what a godbag looks like:
    Pope Benedict XVI, who would rather people catch AIDS from their infected spouse than have sex using condoms.
  • Not a godbag:
    Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Anglican church, who is however denounced by godbags among his fellow Anglican bishops
  • This is what a godbag looks like:
    Pat Robertson
    Pat Robertson, who called for the assassination of another country’s leader as merely his latest headline intolerance
  • Not a godbag:
    A Fransciscan Father in a charity soup kitchen
  • This is what a godbag looks like:
    Jerry Falwell blamed everybody but religious fundamentalists for the attacks of 9/11
  • Not godbags:
    believers performing an immersion baptism
  • This is what a godbag looks like:
    Osama Bin Laden, Muslim terrorist coordinator
  • Not godbags:
    believers at a church wedding
  • This is what a godbag looks like:
    Eric Rudolph, Christian terrorist killer
  • Not godbags:
    believers attending an infant baptism
  • Not godbags:
    believers volunteering medical services in Haiti

Hopefully it will be more clear to ignoramus pearlclutchii now.

Categories: religion, social justice


12 replies

  1. Here is the number for the Westboro Baptist Church : (785) 273-0325
    call them and let them know how much you disapprove.

  2. I appreciate that to you “godbag” means what you’ve posted here and on my web site, but my definition is based on an examination of how the term is used by many people, not just you, and not just in the cites I chose to include in my entry. As is often the case with slang, across the broad pattern of usage the meanings’s sharp edges are beveled down so that it becomes less derogatory, more generalized, and more bland as it spreads among more people and across a longer expanse of time. Also, since the term is relatively new, there is not a clearcut consensus as to the severity or specicifity of its meaning. My definition is all-inclusive and covers the broad range of uses, from people who use it merely to mean “a believer in God” to those who might choose your definition. Perhaps in a few years when the term has had a chance to spread further and be more widely used I will reexamine the definition to see how it settled out.

  3. Thanks for dropping by, Grant. If you’re still around, what frequency of the non-authoritarian usage did you find before the Donohue-Marcotte-McEwen blowup, when Bill Donohue insisted that the term applied to all believers?
    Since then, I agree that a lot of upset people have written about the term using Donohue’s definition without question, but does he as a propagandist for the culture wars really get to define the meaning of jargon outside his arena?
    It’s jargon that specifically disparages him and godbags like him, and that’s exactly why he shouldn’t get to decide that it applies more broadly just so he can get more donations to his theocracy-advocating group.
    Would you publish in your dictionary that Nazi means anyone who publicly professes Germanity, just because Allied propagandists used the term to apply to all Germans?

  4. I cannot answer a hypothetical question on the meaning of a word, except to resort to extant definitions in mainstream dictionaries. To give my own definition, I’d have to have done my own legwork, which I will beg off of here by calling “Godwin!” on you.
    The term definitely occurs well before the hissing match you’re referring to, but not very far before. A year or two, according to my research. You can see the significant cites I found at the entry for “godbag”. The one in brackets (as it the style of my site) is uncertain and not necessarily related to the current use.
    I should point out that if there is one use of a term that causes a public stink and much comment about that term, and many dozens or more people use that word in direct reference to the original utterance, that lexicographers will not consider the comment on that original use as strong evidence that a word is widespread and will endure. So all those uses of “godbag” in connection to the events you refer to, even if they all use the term with the exact same meaning, don’t heavily weight defining the word in that direction. They need to be independent, non-referential, non-reflexive, and un-selfconscious uses of the term in order to be considered significant.

  5. Some cuts and pastes from my comments at your site:
    *the two 2005 references explicitly refer to authoritarian intolerance (anti-abortionists, creationists) when using the term.
    * The 2006 reference is pure faux-etymology from an unqualified pundit: surely you know the problems with etymological speculation based on homophones?
    * when “focusing on slang, jargon, new words,”, isn’t differentiating between jargon and slang important?

  6. From December 2005, again at IBTP from commentor Grace (describing herself)

    ”“ a female Christian feminist not-godbag ordination candidate who believes that subscription to the Nicene Creed is perfectly reconcilable with feminism, environmentalism, hyper-lefty progressive politics, and queer-friendliness, thank you very much.

  7. This made me laugh. I’m so glad the Presbyterian soup kitchen escaped censure!

  8. e, they look so cuddly, don’t they? I liked their church website.

  9. The Phelps clan have released a video cover of We Are The World as ”God Hates The World”, complete with little kids singing along about hating fags etc. [link]. This is the description posted with the video:

    Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. — Psa. 2:1-6
    The people of the world love to fornicate their brains out, divorce and remarry at will, murder unborn babies by the millions, march in parades to express their pride for committing the abominations of Sodom in callous defiance of God Almighty, and pass laws making sincere Gospel preaching a criminal offense. All the while, these brute beasts pervert and cling to John 3:16, demanding that the God who judged all the aforementioned acts as vile abominations loves everybody, no matter their rebellion. This lie is so pernicious and so pervasive that it is leading every nation of the world straight to hell, bar none. The members of Christ’s church (aka The Westboro Baptist Church) cry aloud in this music video, causing the people of the world to know their abominations: God Hates the World!

  10. Warner Music have made a copyright claim and the ripoff of We Are the World has been pulled. It is, however, still on the Westboro Baptist Church’s website, along with two other ‘efforts’: an ‘Osama was right to do 9/11′ to the tune of ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘God Hates America’ to the tune of ‘God Bless America’.
    These people are very disturbed. Fortunately, someone has managed to convince them to appear on a local radio show instead of picketing the Virginia Tech funerals. Sick sick sick!

  11. I read something a year or so back about the few Phelps children who’ve managed to get out and away and practice law anywhere but Topeka.
    Daddy Phelps made all the kids study law, so that they can run their own lawsuits against anyone they figure they can make a buck from. Apparently the clan’s major source of income is from settlements in lawsuits.
    One freaky, freaky man.


  1. Club Troppo » Missing Link
%d bloggers like this: