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To: Skeeve <avalon@infohwy.com>
From: "Fredric L. Rice" <frice@skeptictank.org>
Subject: Re: How can you pick on that poor Jimmy Swaggart?

At 00:21 7/23/98 -0500, Skeeve wrote:

[...cuts...]

s> I am fixing to read the material on the Restored Church of the Star
s> Goat, of which you are an ordained (?) reverend.

Yes, I'm ordained by the Universal Life Church. In fact today I was asked by a colleague of mine if I would provide to him samples of the weddings that I have outlined since he wants to get married again. Not wanting a traditional wedding (because his family's church doesn't approve of him marrying a prostitute from Holland) he's asked me what kind of wedding I would perform.

I assured him that the jokes about having to wear goat leggings is just that: a joke. I'll be working up a marriage outline and sending a copy to him in a couple of days to see if it sounds like it's acceptable. If he's agreed and his wife agrees, I will perform the ritual and file the papers with the State of California.

If you're interested in how that works, let me know. There is a web site that you can access which gives all kind of information on how to become an ordained minister. I caution, though, that it's a serious undertaking because something like performing a wedding or planting someone who's died is serious stuff. While the Restored Church of the Star Goat may be done with fun and amusement, I know when it's time to set aside nonsense and help out a couple who's own ministers have abandoned them.

Hell, if you or anyone else here at The Skeptic Tank are interested, let me know and I'll forward a copy of the wedding outline I'll plan. I've already got most of it typed-up and just need to clean it up and make it a bit longer.

s> I have a couple of quick questions. What is the Church position
s> on agnosticism? Are agnostics welcome in TRCOTSG? Keep up the
s> Good Work!

I think that if we were to poll everyone who's joined the Restored Church, more than half would consider themselves agnostics. Few -- if any -- would consider themselves strong atheists; that is, people who state that there are no gods. If I recall the positions of everyone who's joined, they merely accept that there's simply no evidence for or against the existence of gods and that's okay with me and all the other members.

Also, there is a Deist who's a member. I think he might have actually changed his mind somewhat and is an agnostic but I can't be sure. (I'll have to ask Steve Q. about that.)

Also, my brother is a Wiccan who has the Goddess Lilith.

What I think makes a good Goatee is someone who understands the symbology that Star Goat represents. Someone who believes that their god exists while all others are some how evil frauds doesn't fit my ideal of what a Goatee should be. I don't want the intolerant and badly closed-minded joining up. I want to see people who are willing to admit that there might be gods; people who admit that evidence is lacking but would be nice; people who -- if they have god beliefs -- are not so stuffy as to proclaim they have the "right" gods and that everybody else is some how punishable for not believing.

For me -- and I believe other members -- Star Goat represents the symbol of tolerance and open-mindedness for non-destructive, healthy religious ideals. If we must have a god, why not have a god that doesn't reflect the petty bigotries and prejudiced of humanity? Since humanity seems destined to have gods for quite a few more years, why not create gods that are better than the ones we currently have? Why not learn from the evils that plague us and build tools -- like Star Goat -- which can't be turned into weapons to beat our brothers and sisters over the head with?

My feelings about Star Goat are difficult to pin down, exactly. I suppose that if I needed a god, I would create one rather like Star Goat: Mill around the garden looking for tasty flowers and tree bark to eat and leave humanity alone. When the religious dictate to humanity what the gods want and what the gods don't want, tyranny and inhuman atrocity are the norm. Star Goat loves us by leaving us the fuck alone. Science, truth, and reason will eventually make humanity the equal to the gods at which time perhaps we can join Star Goat, eating the flowers, and stripping the trees in Paradise of their tasty bark.

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