Catholic Priest Freaks Out Because Someone Didn’t Capitalize the Word ‘God’

Someone seriously pissed off Alexander Lucie-Smith, a Catholic priest, because this is the last paragraph of an article he wrote for the Catholic Herald:

Heresy, and atheism, produce nothing beautiful. They can’t. They are stony barren fields. And the examples above are some of the ugly fruit of these intellectually incoherent movements.

Wow. What did we do?! Did atheists desecrate a Renaissance painting depicting a scene from the Bible? Did we burn down an ancient church? Did we kill off an entire group of religious people?


Someone didn’t capitalize the word “God”:

Those who deny the capital letter to the Almighty do so out of a desire to belittle Him… This actually has a long history. Back in the day when anti-Semitism was openly espoused by writers and publishers, some used to deny the capital letter to the term ‘Jew’…

So if you write “god,” you’re practically an anti-Semite.

Man, he’s gonna hate those of us who write g0d… which is a word with nothing on the inside.

That’s not the only thing atheist grammar-deniers did to make him angry. Lucie-Smith can’t stand anyone who uses CE and BCE when naming years instead of BC and AD:

One would like to know why the “Common Era” — whatever that is — began at just the moment that Christ was born? If the exponents of CE and BCE wish to use the unlovely terms, why don’t they pick a key date (on which they can all agree!) at which the Common Era begins that has nothing to do with Christ?

Then-Secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, explained the CE/BCE reasoning back in 1999:

[T]he Christian calendar no longer belongs exclusively to Christians. There is so much interaction between people of different faiths and cultures — different civilizations, if you like — that some shared way of reckoning time is a necessity. And so the Christian Era has become the Common Era.

Father Grammar Nazi wasn’t done there, either. He had one more reason to complain: There are people who don’t use “He” as a pronoun for God! Not “It.” Sure-as-hell not “She.” (And I’ll bet “He” has to be capitalized, too.)

Watch out for the few (and they are still thankfully few) who say at Mass “It is right to give God thanks and praise” instead of “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” To refuse to address God as He is in fact to attack the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. It is completely unacceptable theologically; but it is also downright ugly and silly. Particularly so is the use of the neologism ‘Godself”, as in “God reveals Godself to us.” Anyone using that is, frankly, a heretic, and, what is almost as bad, an abuser of the English language.

For what it’s worth, I tend to capitalize God for purely grammatical reasons — it’s a proper name, and those ought to be capitalized, and I feel dirty when I don’t do it. But Lucie-Smith is taking that compulsion to a whole new level.

And lest you think he’s only trying to preserve the rules of grammar, he added this lovely point on Twitter:

So it’s not a Grammar issue. He’s just mad when other people don’t respect his god.

That previous sentence is gonna make him lose his shit. Oh well.

(Thanks to @juniperjulip for the link!)

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.

  • The Other Weirdo

    So denying the humanity of a real group of humans is now equal to denying the divinity of a fictional character thought up over 2000 years ago?

  • BrandonUB

    I’m just continually amazed that there’s anyone living in a modern nation that falls victim to superstition that’s quite this silly.

  • Tezcatlipoca

    I wonder how hard Fr Lucie-Smith has been hitting the sacramental whine?

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    I guess the Dutch are only antisemites when talking about religion then. After all, Dutch distinguishes between Joden, Jews by culture, and joden, Jews by religionI suppose having about 25 million people he antisemites some of the time isn’t so bad.

  • C Peterson

    When I see “God” I usually assume it’s a reference to the Abrahamic god, which is actually named “God” in English. When I see “god” where the context implies the Abrahamic god, I usually assume a grammar or spelling error (we do have people in this forum who don’t seem to understand the most basic rules of capitalization…)

    Consistently writing “god” when you mean “God” just makes the writer look a bit ignorant. Nothing about it is insulting, though (except perhaps to the writer’s education).

    If this joker wants to find insult somewhere, perhaps he should look to those of us who refuse to capitalize references to God or Jesus. English doesn’t require that. God is most properly referred to as “it” and Jesus as “him”.

  • Guest

    derp. That is all

  • Slow Learner

    Someone should let him know that the url is all lower case:

  • onamission5

    I utterly fail to see why the working title of single unit deities inherently requires capitalization where the working title of multiple unit deities does not. If I don’t capitalize gods, I won’t capitalize god. Sorry, Christian exceptionalists, no preferential grammatical treatment for you!

    Turning pronouns into proper nouns is just silly on the face of it. I don’t refer to my own mom as She, and she exists, and we’re related. I am certainly not going to refer to someone else’s deity as He.

  • Rabid

    >I tend to capitalize God for purely grammatical reasons

    Sure, “God” is a proper noun, but “god” is not. There are (literally) countless uses for “god” and only one use for “God”. I don’t think Mr Lacie-Smith has really thought through the implications of his decree, but if he wants to force me to be properly reverent to the God of Lost Cutlery and Socks, then I’m sure I can accommodate him… probably much to his chagrin.

  • Oranje

    He’s like an angry Catholic version of Stanley Fish.

  • cipher

    (And I’ll bet “He” has to be capitalized, too.)

    You’d win that bet: “Those who deny the capital letter to the Almighty do so out of a desire to belittle Him, one assumes (oh yes, did I say the personal pronoun
    when used of God should also be capitalised?”

    This is hardly as egregious a sin as he’s making it out to be. Granted, it isn’t as trivial as sodomizing an altar boy, but still…

  • cryofly

    Only unique entities can have a capitalized first letter. But, god is neither unique nor an entity. Fairies on the other hand…

  • asonge

    I capitalize fictional character names all the time, dunno about you.

  • ZenDruid

    I’m accustomed to writing ‘the god of Abraham’.

  • vexorian

    I just avoid using “God” as a proper noun. So I make sure to specify that I don’t believe in any gods, or “a god”.

  • BrandonUB

    Sure, so do I, but I’m not strictly obligated to operate on the grammatical principles of a particular bit of fan fiction. If I’m discussing it in context, it’s probably a good idea for clarity though.

  • Smiles

    …and if I do intentionally deny capitalization…so what? I would rather refer to their “god” as “the king of lies”, “corrupter of the youth”, “power hungry Nazi sympathizer”…but for the sake of simplicity, “god” will do. I will not be told by them how to mention any god; just as, I will not be told by them how/what to worship.

  • Rain

    Those who deny the capital letter to the Almighty do so out of a desire to belittle Him.

    Says the dude with the lame capitals everywhere. He has more capitals than the actual U.S. Capitol Building, which technically we are supposed to capitalize. That guy could be a Rowan Atkinson skit.

  • Holytape

    How about we start spelling god with a zero instead of an ‘o’? Or how about we capitalize the ass-end of goD?

  • Geoff Boulton

    Surely, BC and AD don’t really have any meaning either. I mean, nobody can even remotely convincingly show that Jesus actually lived let alone when he was born. Then add in the various calendar revisions and it all becomes even more nonsensical.

  • A3Kr0n

    I usually capitalize, too, unless I’m mad. Then it’s god.

  • Holytape

    To really piss these people off, we should write ‘God’ but only in Comic sans.

  • mountaintiger

    I’m basically on board with the CE complaint, actually. Annan’s reasoning is admirable, but changing a Christian calendar’s name is a pretty weak gesture of inclusion compared to adopting a new calendar (say, years since the founding of the UN for UN business). Bonus: UN years would drive people convinced the UN is a demonic cabal nuts.

  • TiltedHorizon

    ‘allah’ ‘god’

    I just checked out the window, there is no wrath, no fiery hail, no plague of locusts, nothing.

    Oh wait, I just heard Xander Lucie-Smith’s panties bunch up. (I did not know men could hit such notes)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “God” vs. “god” is ambiguous. If you are referring specifically to the Judeo-Christian deity of the Bible, then you should use His proper name, which everyone knows is Jealous (Exod 34:14).

    Lucie-Smith can’t stand anyone who uses CE and BCE when naming years instead of BC and AD…

    The Christians had their opportunity, but they screwed it up by forgetting to include a year 0. Hey, had your chance.

  • Rich Wilson

    So many people belittle their own god by assigning to it petty human traits like arrogance and jealousy and ego.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    For what it’s worth, I tend to capitalize God for purely grammatical
    reasons — it’s a proper name, and those ought to be capitalized, and I
    feel dirty when I don’t do it

    1) Sometimes God id used as a proper name, sometimes as a generic word for any deity.
    2) All due respect, Mr. Math Teacher, but I don’t look to you for guidance in proper grammar.

  • Rain

    Slow Learner • 35 minutes ago −

    Might want to talk to your webmaster, because the URL (above) clearly has “god” all in lowercase.

    Yeah he better raise a “hissy fit” about that and refuse to write any more internet articles.

  • NoYourGod

    Best use of the phrase “fan fiction” I’ve run across.

  • vexorian

    2) All due respect, Mr. Math Teacher, but I don’t look to you for guidance in proper grammar.

    Cause only a grammar teacher could possibly know such obscure rules as “proper names are capitalized”.

  • RobertoTheChi

    What a flaming asshole!

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    If only the Catholic priesthood would focus more on grammar rants, instead of lobbying and legislating. I’d love to have them yell at me more about capital letters in god and less about what celibate (?) men think married women should do with their bodies.

  • Thomas J. Lawson
  • ortcutt

    I generally prefer to call the fictional Christian god “Yahweh”. It seems a bit presumptuous for them to take the generic term for deities and use that as the proper name for the specific supernatural character in their mythology.

  • carmen

    Orthodox Jews consider it to be blasphemy to use the name of god (or God) period. They use “g_d” or “G_d” (I’ve seen it both ways). So they would consider this guy’s use of the word “God” to be blasphemous.

    Reminds me of the stoning scene in Life of Brian – “All I said was, this halibut is good enough for Jehovah!”

  • Anna

    I wonder how that inner peace and humility is working out for him, LOL. This guy seems like a nasty, mean-spirited piece of work.

    The whole capitalization issue seems like much ado about nothing. I don’t think it even makes sense to use “God” as the name of the biblical deity. Its proper name would be Yahweh or Jehovah. I usually just go with “your god” or “their god” or “a god” or talk about deities in general. Theirs isn’t the only one after all, no matter how much they like to pretend that it is.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    I don’t capitalise the word “god” because I don’t see it as a proper name, to me it’s a description of a mythological concept. I always refer to it as “it” because it cannot have a sex.

  • flyb

    [removes sunglasses]


  • Graham Martin-Royle

    How can I have a desire to belittle something that doesn’t exist?

  • BobaFuct

    Does he know that “allah” simply means “the god” in Arabic and isn’t actually the name of the Muslim god? So really, he means it should be “the god” and not “the God”. Given that Arabic-speaking Christians use the word “allah” to refer to the Christian god, the tweet is totally contradictory to the idiot priest’s original point.

    Tweeted that to him…we’ll see what he says…

  • Hunter Taylor

    This is one of those semantic issues that don’t really accomplish anything, but make me feel really smug. Lucie-Smith writes that:

    “One would like to know why the “Common Era” — whatever that is — began at just the moment that Christ was born?”
    Actually, it is generally understood that Jesus would have been born 6 years before the beginning of the Common Era. So, whether you use AD or CE, it is not actually set to JC’s birth due to Medieval misreadings. Take that, calendar arguments!

  • meekinheritance

    …and gender.

  • Richard Wade

    Out of compassion for the extremely thin-skinned and just as extremely self-privileged Father Lucie-Smith, we should use any of the more honoring and fully descriptive titles for the big-G God whom he apparently thinks is the only deity ever conceived. Use any of the following, and mind those caps:

    He Who Is As Inconsequential As He Is Reputed To Be Powerful

    He Who Is As Unavailable As He Is Reputed To Be Omnipresent

    He Who Going By His Own Words Is Extremely And Inexplicably Late

    He Who Is As Invisible, As Inaudible, As Intangible As The Nonexistent

    He Who Used To Be Able To Pick Off The First Born Male In Every Family In Egypt With The Precision Of An Elite Marine Sniper, But Who Now Can’t Kill A Few Gays With The Biggest Hurricane In History.

  • DavidMHart

    I strongly feel we need this distinction in English – it’s unfair to presumptively label people of Jewish ethnicity (or indeed any other ethnicity) with the superstitious beliefs that happen to have been invented by their ancestors. Just like ‘Hindu’ and ‘Indian’ both come from the same root but one means a religious affiliation and the other means citizenship of the country that that religion happens to come from.

    I suggested we should use ‘Jews/Jewish/Jewishness’ for the cultural affiliation, and ‘Judaist(s)/Judaism’ for the religion. I put it to a friend who is an English, non (ethnically) Jewish convert to Judaism. She said it would be unfairly outing people. I didn’t really get why.

  • C Peterson

    If you’re talking about the Abrahamic god, “God” is its name, and it’s grammatically incorrect to write it in lower case- as much as if you called it “yahweh”. E.g., “To a Christian, God is the only god”.

    Indeed, if you refer to it by name and fail to capitalize its name, you are actually going out of your way to mark it as something special, something with a name that gets handled differently than any other.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    The context makes it obvious that he was describing its usage as a proper name.

  • Terry Firma

    Are there 25 million Dutch people? I thought it was 17, including the overseas parts.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Haha, yeah, it is funny when a man acts all offended, shrill and bitchy like he’s a GIRL or something.

  • 00001000_bit

    I don’t capitalize the words “doctor” or “skipper” when talking about the professions. However, if referring to “The Doctor” (Doctor Who) or “Skipper” (from Gilligan’s Island,) I will capitalize. It isn’t showing any deference to, or confirming the real existence of, the character; it just provides clarity that it is a *specifically named* character.

    On the other hand, I agree with you on the “He” capitalization, as that isn’t used as the name of the Christian god, but is meant to show deference. I have no problem capitalizing “God” when referring to the Abrahamic god by name, even though technically it is a job title, as it has become the accepted name for the character.

  • Sarah Smith Nessel

    I capitalize “God” in most contexts for the same reason I capitalize “Santa Claus” — because it’s a proper noun. Also Zeus, Venus, Apollo, etc. All are mythological, but all get capitalized in my world. It’s a copy editor thing.

    I’d like to see that priest square off against an Orthodox rabbi over the “God” vs. “G-d” issue. Popcorn, anyone?

  • DavidMHart

    It’s also believed in some quarters that Jesus was entirely mythological and wasn’t actually born at all. Thus, given that we do not have sufficient reasons to believe that there actually was a Christ for there to have been a Before, I could get on board with the idea of Common Era, except for the fact that the letterings ‘CE and BCE’ are inelegant given one of them is so similar to the other and a bit longer.

    If you ask me, we need to retrofit the already-popular initalisms ‘BC’ and ‘AD’ with non-religious full versions. Sadly I haven’t been able to think of any that aren’t at least as inelegant as ‘BCE/CE’

  • Toast4122

    “He Who Is As Invisible, As Inaudible, As Intangible As the Nonexistent” My favorite, better than “Random and Procrustean Lord”. An oldie but goodie.

  • Alex G.

    When I hear Catholics complain about something, all I hear is this:

  • DavidMHart

    If you will worship a god called God, you can’t blame people for being confused.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    I had completely forgotten about that. It adds an interesting tone to Jerry Coyne’s insistence on writing “dog” as “d_g”, which I had at first assumed was because he considered dogs too wretched to speak of outright, especially when talking about his beloved cats.

  • Cafeeine

    Regarding allah, the way you say it in english is of lesser importance than the arabic, and arabic doesn’t have capital letters.

  • Rain

    Good point although a big part of his theology says that everyone secretly knows it is obvious that his god exists. So it’s hard to say if he missed your point or if he is as big of a presumptuous self-centered obnoxious all-encompassing ass as his theology is. He may actually think that everyone knows his god exists.

  • Don Gwinn

    I LOL at these LULZ.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “Heresy, and atheism, produce nothing beautiful.”

    Really, so the only true works of art or things of beauty are only things that espouse official catholic doctrine? Maybe he should tell that to those that carved such delicate figures of other deities or perhaps he could tell it to art historians that the roman and greek mosaics are not beautiful because they are heresy. So, according to this guy any artwork that is not catholic is heresy since it is creating false idols.

    Since when does god have a gender anyway? If god does not have human traits then it cannot have a gender and should be referred to as an “it.”

  • phiggy

    the victimization of christians is a palpable weight on all of their (many) shoulders….how do they survive all the whips and barbs that are directed at them and them alone…the poor poor victims.

  • Holytape

    Technically ‘Allah’ has a small ‘a’ in it already. But just to piss everyone off ‘allAh’

  • WallofSleep

    “If the exponents of CE and BCE wish to use the unlovely terms…”

    The early ’90s called. They want their nontroversy back.

    And I have to wonder, does Alex also throw a hissy fit when someone writes “G-d”?

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Why is he complaining about people using BCE and CE instead of BC and AD? Theologians can’t even pin down the exact date of when they think Jesus was born. They have a two to seven year window in which they think he was born if he even was born at all. So technically this would be the year 2015 to 2020.

  • Compuholic

    Shit. I didn’t know the video before. Now I need wipe the coffee off my screen.

  • WallofSleep

    “I just checked out the window, there is no wrath, no fiery hail, no plague of locusts, nothing.”

    That’s why the concept of ‘Hell’ is so precious to them, perhaps even more so than the concept of ‘Heaven’ is.

    Knowing full well that they are absolutely powerless to invoke god’s wrath upon you in this world, and that their god himself has no will or power to do so, they console themselves with the dream that you will suffer for eternity in the next world.

  • Adam

    God is not a proper name, rather it is a title. The Christian gods actual name is in the bible(YHWH), and the bible uses god as a title in several instances (“Thou shalt not have any gods before me” for example)

  • LesterBallard

    God isn’t a proper name, you fucking idiot.

  • WallofSleep

    The way I’ve looked at it is similar to the difference between “pope” and “Pope”. When referring simply to the office itself, “pope” is the acceptable norm, while when referring to the office holder, “Pope” is the acceptable norm.


    god god god. Neener neener neener.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I tend to call the christian god “Biblegod”. I’ll capitalize that since that’s sort of a name rather than a generic term, but I also capitalize Zeus, Thor, and Pikkiwoki. (I’ve also noticed that Discus has an autocorrect capitalization on “christian” that I have to go back and fix.)
    I’ll only use the capital “H” pronoun for the FSM, as in “pesto be upon Him”. And yes, it’s to tick off pompous idiots like Lucie-Smith. Their insistence on deference to their religion needs some skewering.

  • CBrachyrhynchos

    Well, sometimes I’ll say that I don’t believe in “a god” because I wasn’t exactly Christian before I became atheist. However, it gets so many knee-jerk reactions that I’ve switched to saying that I don’t believe in “a deity” or “a divinity.” Unless I’m feeling really obnoxious about the cultural biases of mainstream apologetics, then I’ll liberally drop the Wiccan “She” into the discussion.

  • Rationalist1

    I capitalize God and I capitalize Santa Claus. Hope the priest is happy.

  • Mikko

    i never write god with a G

  • cipher

    I don’t know; seems more presumptuous to call him by his first name. ;-)

  • Stev84

    It’s the same with military ranks. There are people who incorrectly capitalize ranks all the time. But they are only capitalized when used as the title of a specific person.

  • Frank Mitchell

    If “God” is the True God and “Allah” is a false god, what about those poor pagans who pray to Dieu, Gott, or Kamisama?

  • Artor

    God is not a proper name, it’s a job description. The Xtian god’s name is YHVH, plus a few secret vowels, but it’s not “God.”

  • ZenDruid

    Plus, the Gnostics know (gno:)) him as Yaldabaoth, Salael (the blind god) and Saklas (fool).

  • onamission5

    By that same token, if I am talking to my mom I refer to her as Mom, but if I’m talking to my friend about his mom I say your mom, not Mom. I recognize that there’s more than one mom in the world, that my mom is not the supreme Mom-figure. Likewise I recognize that there’s more than one god, and treat them with equal (lack of) deference.
    Since the Christian god is not my deity, since I am talking about it and not to it, and since the word god is an operational title which could refer to any nearly infinite number of deities and not a name, no capital letters are required.

  • allein

    Whenever I read “BCE” aloud, it always comes out sounding like “BC,” anyway.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Sometimes I use “Yahweh 2.0″ since the Christian God seems so very different from the Jewish tribal god of Yahweh.

  • allein

    Father Grammar Nazi wasn’t done there, either. He had one more reason to complain: There are people who don’t use “He” as a pronoun for God! Not “It.” Sure-as-hell not “She.” (And I’ll bet “He” has to be capitalized, too.)

    I like how his example for this is of using the word “God” instead of “He”…not even “she” or “it,” but using his, sorry His, actual name instead of a pronoun.
    It would also be nice if he identified the book he was reading, because I am curious as to the actual usage of the word.
    (This post especially amuses me, as my username here is my first name, and I didn’t capitalize it when I made my account.)

  • MD

    Maybe he’s counting Flemings?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The Christian gods actual name is in the bible(YHWH),

    Chapter and verse please? YHWH does not appear in the original King James version of the Bible, written by God himself. Rather, the Greekified version Jehovah is used several times. And God’s actual proper name is given in Exodus 34:14

    “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

  • Colin Walmsley

    More like “anti-semantic”.

  • baal

    I can annoy her followers and strict grammarians though by talking about god and his only misbegotten sun. It’s very win-win.

    I also tend to refer to christians on blogs since most of them are god-awful trolls.

  • baal


  • ortcutt

    Christianity is Judaism Fan-Fiction, just as Mormonism is Christianity Fan-Fiction. The identity of fictional characters across extensions of the canon is something that is too nebulous for me to grasp. If I write Star Trek fan fiction where Picard acts out of character of the Star Trek canon, is it still Picard or not? I don’t think there’s any definitive way of saying.

  • baal

    There was only one Fleming, his name is Ian but he imagined that he went by James.

  • Alice

    There are no capital letters in ancient Hebrew, and ancient Greek was written in all capital letters, so that’s not even Biblical. LOL. You have to admit “GOD” looks more impressive than “God.”

  • Frazzah

    I only write it “god” just to provoke catholic priests. SUCCESS!

  • SeekerLancer

    I usually don’t capitalize the word “god” because I’m talking about the concept of god in general or rather all gods. Sometimes I capitalize it when I’m specifically referring to the biblical character of the Christian god since that’s just proper grammar. However, I admit sometimes I don’t because it’s funny to get reactions like this one.

  • SeekerLancer

    Likely he’ll continue to play dumb and won’t say anything. They like to think of Allah as a completely separate thing because it makes it easier for them to complain about Islam without confusing their dumber followers.

  • Hat Stealer

    Actually, that last sentence was totally fine. You were referring to the priest, not his god.


  • Houndentenor

    There are also no vowel letters in Hebrew. That’s why they write it G-d. That o is an abomination. ;-)

  • DavidMHart

    For maximum knee-jerkery, you should get into the habit of saying you don’t believe in any gods. Nothing pisses off a monotheist more than the idea that their god isn’t unique :-)

  • Houndentenor

    So much English-centrism in this. Is this priest really this monolinguistic? Not all languages capitalize nationalities. The romance languages, for example. German on the other hand, capitalizes all nouns. It is a grammatic error in religious writing (at least Christian writing) not to capitalize god when referring to the Christian deity, but the rest of that hissy fit is full of so much ignorance.

    “Heresy, and atheism, produce nothing beautiful. They can’t. They are stony barren fields. And the examples above are some of the ugly fruit of these intellectually incoherent movements.”

    Bullshit. Countless artists, musicians and scientists are atheists and have produced work of great elegance, meaning and beauty. That’s an arrogant thing to say.

    And finally…allah, allah, allah. Happy now?

  • Houndentenor

    You have to excuse Americans. Lack of study of foreign languages leaves them with the idea that quirks of English grammar have universal meaning.

  • Feminerd

    Well, there sort of are vowels. They’re dots and dashes above and below the letters. You get them when you’re first learning to read Hebrew, and a lot of prayer books have the vowels, but you certainly don’t write modern Hebrew with vowels and there aren’t any in the Torah.

  • allein

    Can we all say a Prayer to the Disqus GodS to bring back the Comment i posted here an hour ago? i’ll use whatever capitalization scheme They would prefer.
    (Lowercase “i” to emphasize how humble my small request is.)

  • Houndentenor

    Composer Georges Bizet was an atheist. If Carmen isn’t a work of beauty, I don’t know what is. Berlioz and many other composers were also atheists.

  • allein

    I wonder how many of the great religious works were done by non-believers.

  • KishinD

    I use “God” to refer to a singular, ultimate god, and “god” to refer to any deity.
    Generally, I use a deity’s proper name, though. Calling him Yahweh or Jehovah pulls away from so many of the ideas linked to “God” and places him among the company of Krishna or Thor.

  • JET

    Good gawd! As if there weren’t already enough grammar rants on the internet… Now we have to put up with religion-induced grammar rants as well. Language is a method of communication. Sometimes breaking a grammar rule helps us communicate more effectively. If “god” seems snarkier than “God”, maybe the writer is trying to convey something.
    One of my first grammar arguments was with my dad, who said that Star Trek’s “… to boldly go …” was improper. And technically it was. But it was certainly more poetic. I now tend to intentionally split infinitives. I prefer the way the words flow.
    Language also changes over time and so does its accepted usage. Adhering to ancient rules of grammar for their own sake is “something up with which I will not put.” (Winston Churchill)

  • Space Cadet

    Disqus has been borking out a lot lately, it seems. Is it the post that begins with:

    I like how his example for this is of using the word “God” instead of “He”…

    ‘Cause that one is there.

  • allein

    I never really thought about it that way, but I like it.
    I usually just use “God” for the Christian god. Depending on where I’m writing and who I’m addressing, I may or may not capitalize it. Sometimes I’ll write a quickie comment or email and don’t bother to capitalize at all. Sometimes I care more about what I’m trying to say so I’ll be more formal and “correct.” Nothing to do with deference or lack therof.

  • JET

    Mr. Deity would probably agree.

  • allein

    That’s the one but I’m still not seeing it. I actually reloaded the page and all my comments disappeared. I’m only replying to this from the link in my email. Sigh. Patience is a virtue, right?

  • Carmelita Spats

    Whew! I always use “he” when referring to rascal Yahweh. I’m completely off the hook with my usual blasphemy because I always masculinize the Christian trinity. To wit: the Bearded Guy, his Brat and their Pigeon. I don’t know the Pigeon’s gender. Instead of whining, Padre Creep should be asking himself why he continues to work for an organized crime syndicate that REFUSES to hold bishops criminally liable for the sexual torture of children. They are getting ready to kill another woman. This time the murder will take place in El Salvador. Padre Creep is worried about grammar.

    May doG B. Less.

  • Houndentenor

    But those dots are just aids to pronunciation. Some lectern Bibles for Christian churches have their own set of marks over proper names to aid in pronunciation (long and short vowels, where the accent falls, etc.). It’s similar in that those marks are not actually part of the text.

  • Feminerd

    Not actually true. There’s two sets of dots and dashes- vowels (which then help define the words, because different sets of vowels would change the meaning of the words. It’s a big reason a lot of translation is so contentious) and trope. Trope are in the Torah as chanting guides- it’s a different form of musical notation and that’s what tells you where the accent falls. The vowels do change the meaning of the words, though, and thus are important to keep in mind as more than just a pronunciation guide.

  • Cattleya1

    How come his all-powerful and frequently wrathful god doesn’t blast us non-capitalizing atheists where we sit?

  • KishinD

    He’s moved on to other projects. There’s some sheepherders in the Andromeda galaxy that really need some guidance on how to perform genital mutilation on week-old infants.

  • KishinD

    Damn right. It’s a “spirit of the law” vs “letter of the law” thing. Grammar is there to increase clarity of language and successful communication. If breaking the rules of grammar serves those purposes, there should be no problem. If your words become a sloppy mess of nonsense, other people should call you out on your bad grammar.

  • Anathema

    I really wish that the people who complain about the use of CE/BCE would bother to learn what they were talking about.

    People like Lucie-Smith seem to think that the term “Common Era” was invented recently just for the sake political correctness. They treat the phrase “Common Era” is some sort of terrible anti-Christian propaganda.

    But the phrase “Common Era” has been around for a couple of centuries and “Vulgar Era” (which means exactly the same thing) has been around for even longer. I’ve read 18th century translations of the Jesuit Clavijero that use the term “Vulgar Era.”

    I personally prefer using the AD/BC system of labeling, largely for aesthetic reasons. But good grief, the objections a lot of people have to the BC/BCE system are dumb!

  • 00001000_bit

    Yes, but if someone was nicknamed “Mom” and ran a restaurant named “Mom’s Place” – it’d be correct to refer to the person as Mom (capital “M”) even if it wasn’t your own mother.

    It seems like a lot of people are so bent on proving that “God” means so little to them that they go out of their way to ignore the rules of grammar to show it.

    “God” isn’t my god either, but The Doctor isn’t my doctor either.

  • indorri

    The entire “split infinitives” malarky was based off some geezers trying to shoehorn Latin grammatical constructs into English. From what I’ve read, it’s been done even from very early English.

  • indorri

    Given if I recall correctly seminary training requires studying ancient languages, the priest has even less of an excuse that other Anglophones this side of the ocean…

  • Space Cadet

    Sometime in the past you must have used a lower case ‘d’ when you typed Disqus.


  • chicago dyke

    i’m just the opposite. i write “god” on purpose, and Father kiddie raper isn’t wrong; i’m doing it to forward a general disrespect and disbelief in the idea that the ‘holy name’ must be respected. i’m not really too concerned with proper grammar on the interwebs, for gawd’s sake we’ve all seen some really horrific misuses of “proper” engrish, on every topic. but for me, writing “god” is a way of identifying myself to others. i am an atheist. i want people to understand that.

  • Pepe

    and existence..

  • RedGreenInBlue

    Dear Fr Lucie-Smith,

    You say that “anyone using [the term "Godself"] is, frankly, a heretic.” I suggest that anyone using the word “heretic” in earnest is, frankly, living several centuries after their time.

    Yours sincerely,

    The Year 2013, Common Era

  • chicago dyke

    heretic. it’s “alfredo be upon Him.”

  • Feminerd

    Buttergarlic be upon Him. I must start my own, third sect!

  • Kevin Sagui

    Actually, even if one was to give credence to the biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth, it’s marked by two events that did not in any way overlap. The census referred to in Luke did indeed occur in 6 CE. Matthew, however, places the birth during the reign of Herod, who died in 4 BCE. Even if the Christian faith was somehow true, the terms BC and AD would be inaccurate.

  • Bill Santagata

    Capital letters are not used to denote respect. They are used to denote proper nouns. Adolf Hitler is just as properly capitalized as Martin Luther King, Jr. This does not make me a civil-rights loving Nazi.

    “God” is capitalized when it is used as a proper noun, such as when referring to the Christian god (coincidentally named “God”) or to the concept of God in general. When it is modified and not referring to any particular god (“the Christian god”) it is properly in lowercase.

  • allein

    My comments came back! Prayer works!!

  • onamission5

    Re: rules of grammar, since we’re getting all pedantic ovah heah, one only capitalizes a title when speaking directly to the title holder and using the title in place of their name or when the title is used in combination with their name. God is not a name, it’s a title, regardless of what Christians claim, their deity has a name (several names, actually) and its name is not god. It is *a* god, but it is not *the* god. The reason Christians call their deity by god with a capital G is to denote that it is above all other gods, and that is also why they tend to get their undies in a wad when someone fails to give what they consider due deference in capitalization. I assert that it is not above any other god and therefore is due no special deference. Not a name, not more uber special than all the other gods of all the other religions, therefore little g.

    If you want to refer to the Christian deity as The God the same way you refer to a different fictional character as The Doctor, by all means. ;P “Mom’s Place” is a business name– a name, therefore a proper noun. Same as “Assembly of God.”
    ^^ My pedantic-assed reference link

  • David S.

    Any start of a calendar except for the Big Bang is arbitrary. Dealing with different systems is a pain in the ass, and nothing you do with the calendar will get you away from the problem of having a year that is 365.25+ days long, and 365 = 5 * 73 is not a terribly nice number, and 366 (6 * 61) isn’t much nicer.

    I will admit that I have dated things AUC (an old Roman calendar, since the founding of Rome) in the past and still use straight Julian dates occasionally. Today is JD 2456447.

  • Steve Jacoby

    But HIS God is the only true God! Just like everyone else’s God is the true God. Right?

  • onamission5

    All that aside and back to the OP, I am no more going out of my way to crap Christians when I use a little g to refer to their deity than I am crapping on Jews when I spell g-o-d or write Yahweh with vowels intact. What I am saying is that their rules of worship and reverence don’t apply to the rest of the world. Their god is the same to me as all the other gods and is treated accordingly. They give it special grammatical deference because they believe in it (or should that be It) as the one and only True Deity above all others, I don’t because I don’t.

  • Tanner B James

    and if you roughly count backwards from when our planet was created well you get a different number or worse would be to try to narrow down when life first evolved

  • Tanner B James

    Oh mah gawd, what a loser. But thank you for calling me a heretic, please may I have another.

  • 00001000_bit

    My example with “Mom’s Place” wasn’t about the restaurant name, but just as a data point to reinforce the use of “Mom” as a nickname.

    “This is Mom’s Place.”
    “Who’s that behind the counter?”
    “That’s Mom.”

    Not anyone’s mom in particular, just someone to whom the term has been applied as an identifier.

    I get that Christians capitalize it as a way of elevating theirs above others, but it IS how they address it, so I accept it as a nickname and, therefore, give it a capital letter.

    Where I would not capitalize would be in a situation like:

    “Do you believe in God?”
    “No, I do not believe in god.”

    As my reply would not be a direct response, but a response to a more generic (unstated) request.

    “Do you believe in (my deity named) God?”

    “No, I do not believe in (any) god.”

    I’m curious, would “Allah” be capitalized? It, too, just means god. If so, is the difference that the word is from a different language? If that is the case, then that would mean that non-English speakers should capitalize “God” (when referring to the Abrahamic god) as it is not the direct translation of their word for “god”. This leads to changing whether it is a proper noun depending on your language.

    Along those lines, if I were to name my dog “Dog” – would I not be able to capitalize it when referring to it?

    “What’s that noise?”
    “Oh, that’s just Dog.”

    Arguably, it is not that big of an issue in the end. The bigger issue is that they hate us for not believing the same as they do either way, whether we capitalize it or not.

  • Fifth Dentist

    I usually refer to it as Bible-monster. The star of that book is the most monstrous character in a truly monstrous compilation of fan fiction, and Bible-monster demands the genocide of tons of people, virgin rape, stoning of rational people, etc. It truly is a monster.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Let’s tweet at him with the acronym OMg

  • onamission5

    “Arguably, it is not that big of an issue in the end. The bigger issue is that they hate us for not believing the same as they do either way, whether we capitalize it or not.”
    True to that. It’s been fun arguing grammar with you nonetheless. :)

  • Greg G.

    We have days of the week named after Norse myths. We have months of the year named for Roman myths. Using BC and AD is just using a Christian myth for the calendar.

  • McAtheist

    I am waiting for my favourite friendly atheist ‘chicagodyke’ to weigh in on this one. lol.

    capitals, we don’t need no stinkin’ capitals.

  • William C. Walker

    What does Lucie-Smith have to say about pedophile priests ?

  • WallofSleep
  • Katherine Hompes

    I’ve always wondered why Christians lacked the imagination to give their god a proper name- the Greeks, Egyptians, and plenty others managed to come up with thousands of names.

    It’s like calling my dog, “Dog”.

    I do understand there are other names for this god- although, I’m not sure of the translations- why not use those?

  • sk3ptik0n

    So was Giuseppe Verdi and he happened to write one of the greatest “Requiems” of all time.

    Watch and tell me if this isn’t one of humanities masterpieces.

  • JET

    G.O.D. (Genocidal Obnoxious Dick)

  • JET

    Or even more so if you reference the plural Christian gods of the trinity. Bonus gods with Catholics who have the virgin Mary and a celestial host of saints, all of whom have at least demi-god status.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Disqus doesn’t do prayers. It requires sacrifices.

  • Good and Godless

    I use “Atheist”, “god” and of course “Godless”.

  • SarahAB

    Good post. I’m an atheist but capitalise both God and He/Him, but only because it feels ‘correct’, not out of respect. Not capitalising Allah, deliberately, just seems silly.

  • Robster

    Calling this strange little person Father Lucie Smith raises a giggle. I’m confused about the persons gender, Father Lucie just doesn’t work for me. Bit like Superman being named as Beryl Kent.

  • ~SoACTing

    Why does it have to be a “Him” at all??

    Besides, I picture Her as Spaghetti Squash with long blond hair…lol!

    You, folks, have Her nature completely backwards for I’m going to start the One True Church of the Flying Spaghetti (Squash) Monster.

    *cough* Heritics! *cough*

    ~ SoACTing

  • ~SoACTing

    Which I find slightly humerous considering the very first commandment is ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me…’, which seems to suggest there ARE other gods.

    But I digress…

    ~ SoACTing

  • ~SoACTing

    I’d say that’s a compliment!

    You’re being way too nice :)

    ~ SoACTing

  • ~SoACTing

    I’m guessing he’s using a different definition of beautiful. After all, if one wouldn’t think a necklace with an electric chair with a man dying in it is beautiful, I fail to see how a necklace with a cross and a dead man on it is much better.

    ~ SoACTing

  • JD929

    Capitalizing “god” is a lot like capitalizing “human”. It’s not a name. There are a lot of names for the Christian God, but Christians rarely use any of the,.

  • trog69

    What a sad, little man. I do truly feel sorry for him, that he is so wrapped up in his contempt for fellow humans that he cannot hear his own hateful words, or somehow believes that they’re necessary; for what, I’d rather not know.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Deity’s first name is “El”. I’ll capitalize that, if it will make Father pants-in-a-twist happier!

  • Houndentenor

    I’ve performed this work many times. I’d recommend Fritz Reiner’s recording with Jussi Bjoerling, Leontyne Price, Rosalind Elias and Giorgi Tozzi as solists. It’s one of the greatest recordings of anything ever. I was never sure if Verdi was an agnostic or an atheist. He certainly had no use for the church. Personal religion is treated with respect (but futility…note that almost all the prayer scenes…Leonora, Desdemona, etc. are followed by something horrible happening to them) but the church is treated with contempt (the Egyptian priests in Aida are a stand in for the RCC and depicted and mean-spirited and bloodthirsty). My interpretation of the Dies Irae has always been “if all this turned out to be true, I’m in deep shit!” It’s certainly as dramatic as any of his operas, and at least as beautiful. It’s also his 200th birthday this October.

  • Tainda

    Was it me? I very rarely capitalize god.

    Just to make you happy, father *cough*…allah, allah, allah

  • JKPS

    Sometimes I capitalize god, something not. It really depends on if I’m referring to a specific god. So if I’m talking about the bible (which I don’t capitalize unless I’m talking about specific versions: the ESV Bible, King James Bible, etc), then I might say “In this passage, God acts like a dick.” But if I’m throwing out casual use, then I’ll type out “oh my god,” “I swear to god,” etc.

    Guy has his knickers in a twist. And I had no idea being an atheist made me part of a “fashionable…minority.” I always wanted to be fashionable!

  • JA

    What a crybaby.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    Quite a bit more than half of Belgium speaks Dutch too you know. Still, that number might be a bit higher than it should be.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    That’s actually a great suggestion, though I’d prefer just not using capitals as much.

  • Anna

    I think some fundamentalists actually do believe that there are other gods, but those gods are false ones created by Satan. Or Satan is masquerading as those other gods. Something like that.

  • Jordan Sugarman

    I always use “god” as an abstraction. I’m not convinced that it should be a proper noun. Using it as such assumes that there is only one deity that the word could refer to. If I’m referring to the Abrahamic god directly, I generally use Yahweh or Jehovah.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Sure, it’s just following standard rules of grammar. We write “god” when talking about a generic one, and “God” when speaking about Yahweh for the exact same reason we write “elf” and “Legolas”.

  • Tobias2772

    “Those who deny the capital letter to the Almighty do so out of a desire to belittle Him” This can’t be true because he doesn’t Fucking Exist !

  • Grotoff

    But “Allah” is literally the Arabic word for god. It functions as their name for a god, but it’s literally the same as “God”.

  • DreadPirateRogers

    “For what it’s worth, I tend to capitalize God for purely grammatical
    reasons — it’s a proper name, and those ought to be capitalized…”

    I don’t, but I don’t think it’s a proper name. When I refer to their god, I use their god’s name of Yahweh.

    “One would like to know why the “Common Era” — whatever that is — began at just the moment that Christ was born?”

    Wonder how he would react if he learned that Christ was actually born several years before the switchover.

  • cyphern

    I don’t capitalize ‘i’ (except when it starts a sentence). Does that mean i have a desire to belittle myself?

  • egarae

    I think I love you heheheheheheh

  • joshua pierce

    I tend to not to capitalize god because I use it as a catch all for any god or gods people may be talking about. And while it has come to act as a proper name it really isn’t.