That’s a Unique Way to Protest the National Day of Prayer…

On the National Day of Prayer, a group of Christians were going to gather outside the Idaho Capitol Building. When it began to rain, they were invited inside…

As it turned out, Mike Lee (the Religious Antagonist) had a protest of his own in mind:

You would think the Christians would have been more thrilled to receive the bananas… they’re supposed to be an atheist-repellent, I thought.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • DG

    Why do so many young people follow atheism today?  I’m beginning to think it’s because atheism offers them a place to feel mature by comparison to the atheists around them.

    • Allison

       Why don’t MORE young people wake up and realize that they’ve been indoctrinated since birth? I’d say that’s a better question.

      I think it has absolutely nothing to do with maturity. I became an atheist when I was 12 years old while attending a catholic school. I didn’t do it to feel superior. I didn’t do it to feel mature. I did it because I knew it was the right thing. I knew that my prayers would get me nowhere. I knew that life was more than the bible and religion. We live in a complex and amazingly complicated galaxy. To me, believing it was a god that created all of this just seemed like a slap in the face.

    • Tylermshepherd

      Why are so many xtians so butt hurt about my lack of belief these days? Maybe because they fear the collapse of their parent organizations’ ability to dictate my future. Or maybe because all these atheists around makes them embarrassed about the intellectual immaturity indicated by their professed belief in unicorns, virgin birth, and of course their sky daddy?

    • http://churchofthecasualchristian.blogspot.com Pryopizm

       Because one guy defines an entire group of people, amirite?  I mean, why aren’t more people joining Christianity after such luminaries such as Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, and Charles Worley?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Ya, um, you realize that makes no sense?  I mean, I’m ready for you to take a dig at us, but that’s like you were looking for something condescending to say but couldn’t think of anything and nonsense came out.  You’ve had some good snarks in the past, so I know you have it in you, but that one’s just an air-snark.

      • JoeBuddha

        Air-snark. I’m TOTALLY using that. With proper attribution, natch…

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Public domain- take it away.

    • Baby_Raptor

      How dare people disagree with you! They simply MUST be stupid and shallow!

    • David McNerney

      Nobody follows atheism.  It’s not something you can follow.  We don’t get up in the morning and do our atheist stuff.  We don’t spend our time wondering how we can believe in gods even less.

      Rightly or wrongly (see MD above) – Mike is protesting against a perceived illegal breakdown in the separation of church and state. He doesn’t even have to be an atheist to do this (though it helps).

      What you need to ask, is why so many young people reject your particular beliefs.

    • Reginald Selkirk

       Ooh, pseudo-psychology.  I’m game for that. Why would DG repeatedly troll atheist blogs with inane comments which are not even relevant to the blog posts? Could it be a desparate cry for attention from someone who realizes that he cannot succeed by using rational arguments?

  • Patrick Houghton-Brown

    I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to film a public official carrying out public duties (i.e. that police officer). Heck, if you’re going to defend one right, you might as well defend others while you’re at it.

  • Douglas Szklarski

    That’s discriminant to Atheist!! no signs!! bs, the gorilla carried a sign all around that place! the cop only threw them out so that he could keep worshiping the sky king.

  • Jdstumpff

    Any Whovian knows you should always bring a banana to a party.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    Good source of potassium, there.

    Also, non-slip surface. The atheist’s nightmare.

  • observer

    I’d love to hear these people complained about this.

    “The prayer was disturbed by a man dressed like a monkey handing out bananas…stop laughing, my religion was under attack that day!”

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    What’s that bit at 2:40 about “fear the Lord”?  Why are Christians so obsessed with ‘fearing’ one who is supposed to be all loving?

    • Aljaž Kozina

      You have to take it in context: look at Stockholm syndrome, for example.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Mike is starting to win me over with his videos. He doesn’t come off as dickish as he used to.

  • David Brown

    So what did the cop have to say? He was counting things off on his fingers.

  • Renshia

    Way to go mike.

  • Annie

    The idea of passing out bananas was brilliant!  I too used to think that Mike Lee was over the top, but lately, I’ve found his videos incredibly funny and spot on.  Either he is changing… or I am. Either way, I appreciate the work he does.

  • Robyman44

    I’ve been an atheist for 13 years and I can’t eat bananas. I like the taste but they give me a stomach-ache. Uh oh… is the Great Sky Daddy trying to send me a message there?

  • Keulan

    That was great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.dillahunty Matt Dillahunty

    Once again, Mike gets it (partially) wrong. There isn’t necessarily a violation of Church/State separation going on. As long as the venue is open the public for use without favoritism or discrimination, the mere fact that some theists gather to pray there isn’t a problem.

    The violations come when public officials, in their official capacity, issue endorsements and calls to prayer. The Capitol is public property and as long as the process allows for citizens to gather to pray as well as to support reason, or to protest, or demonstrate on anything else (and the rules governing its usage are fair), there’s not a problem.

    Now, I fully support the counter-demonstrations (we have our own National Day of Reason outside the Texas Capitol) and I have no problem with Mike dressing up and handing out bananas and speaking his mind. That’s all good…
    The problem comes when you make claims about church/state violations that aren’t necessarily true…and when you disrupt someone else’s legal use of the facilities. If, for example, our rally to protect Texas schoolbooks from religious intrusion had been disrupted by religionists, we’d have a legitimate complaint. Likewise, if they book their time and it gets disrupted by atheists, they have a legitimate complaint.We should always stand up in opposition to Church/State separation issue, but not every public expression of religious liberty qualifies. Sometimes an expression of religious liberty is merely a proper exercise of one’s First Amendment rights.

    I’m not completely down on what  Mike has done here, but he’s got a track record of getting it wrong and while his sensationalizing may be entertaining and garner some publicity, what’s the response when someone who actually understands the law points out that he doesn’t? There’s a lot of good stuff here that can prove beneficial, but when you start making accusations that boundaries are being crossed when you’re the one crossing the line, that’s a problem.

    Now, if there actually WAS a violation, then take them to task…but I don’t see any evidence of a violation in the video.

    • mikelee

       Hey Matt, this is Mike Lee from the video. Thanks for checking out the video and commenting.

      We can certainly agree that if the National Day of Prayer had initially reserved the state capitol steps and were then allowed to move inside due to rain (I would say “what rain” – the video clearly shows the hour leading up to the ceremony and there was little to no rain) that may be passable. But there is more at work than just christians holding church service inside of the state capitol here.

      You mention political officials, participating in official capacity. At the 1:00 minute mark in the video, I show a clip of our State treasurer, introducing himself as such – and letting the audience know that he will be MC-ing the event. In Idaho (where I live and film) – the state treasurer is an elected official. Violation?

      Of course my third beef with the NDOP is that it’s not interfaith. Muslims, Hindus and  Buddhists are not invited to participate….and even worse, the NDOP organizers discriminate against offshoots of christianity include the jehovah’s witnesses and mormons. And as I’m sure you know, there are more mormons in Idaho than other faiths…so why are they excluded?

      I think that  we can all agree that the state capitol is not the place to be playing the “my gods got a bigger dick than your god” game.

      • http://www.facebook.com/matt.dillahunty Matt Dillahunty

        Elected officials aren’t required to check their religion at the door or remain silent about it. That said, if he’s doing this in his official capacity that’d be a violation. It’s just not clear (in the video or as a matter of settled law) that merely stating your name and title automatically puts you in ‘official capacity’ mode.

        That said, I’d certainly like to see that clarified and objecting to it is a start. I don’t show up at events that aren’t part of my job or ACA position and announce myself as “ACA President” or ‘(redacted company) Software QA Engineer”…. but there have been times where I’ve said the rough equivalent of “I’m not here as a representative of the ACA”. It would seem that something like might be appropriate.

        The problem is that they’d just be tap-dancing. “Hi, I’m Governor Rick Perry but I’m not here today as your elected Governor, I’m here as a bat-shit crazy proponent of finger-crossing and pleading to the sky.”
        It’s tricky.On the interfaith thing – that’s an issue, but not a church/state issue. It’s no secret that this is a Christian day of prayer – and a specific type of Christian, at that. It’s a little sleazy that they try to portray it as otherwise, but that’s not a church/state violation.On the last point, I have a hard time thinking of any venue that would be appropriate for the deity-penis-measuring game…but what I’d prefer doesn’t matter. That’s public property and it needs to be available for the public to use in a civil manner. People should be allowed to book time to sing or pray or protest or educate or whatever. It’s our property and it needs to be available to all (or none) equally.
        I’d prefer that it be available to all – because the opposite is a trampling of free speech. So, as much as I might like to agree with your final point – I can’t. I support their free speech rights – even when I don’t like what they’re saying.And let’s be honest here, this is really just an excuse for them to feel like they’ve accomplished something. They sing, they pray, they feel like they’ve contributed to the process – when they’ve done nothing.

        If the treasurer crossed a line – that most definitely needs to be addressed.

        And, in either case, I support the counter-demonstrations and the monkey suit and the bananas and the sign… I just want to be clear that my objection isn’t about tone, it’s about claiming a violation of the law without a clear demonstration of it and about intending to disrupt someone else’s legal gathering. (The individuals gathered there were always within their legal rights, even if the treasurer did wrong.)

  • ConureDelSol

    This proves my theory that Christians don’t get enough potassium in their diet.

  • judith sanders

    It makes sense to know the details of the local law before protesting.  If the local law says no signs in the capitol building, next time wear t-shirts with the same messages.

  • dantresomi

    You know, maybe its just me, but they had people singing in there and all. That was like  a straight church service not a prayer. 


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