It’s all about respect for St. Patrick.

You may have heard by now (Hemant, as usual, has a lot of the details), but the Kansas City Atheist Coalition wanted to be in the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day parade but got denied by the parade committee because…

“Kansas City’s parade celebrates the Feast Day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and the Christian teachings and beliefs that he lived and suffered for,” the statement said. “The Atheist Coalition’s published mission is to advance godlessness through activism, and its stated intent regarding the 2013 parade was to carry banners with phrases such as “positively godless” and “morals without mythology.”  It was with respect for the legacy of St. Patrick that the parade committee turned down the Atheist Coalition’s application to participate in this year’s procession. “

Oh?  When I go to the parade’s website to read about the parade committee it says:

The Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is organized and staffed by a group of private volunteers devoted to providing Kansas City with a family-oriented parade celebrating the Irish heritage of our city and citizens. The Parade Committee is a non-profit 501C3 corporation.

Hey!  Atheists, who are part of your city and citizenry, have Irish heritage too!  But that shit doesn’t matter because they don’t believe a guy rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, which is apparently far more important than the parade committee’s stated position.  Perhaps the web site should be changed to say “…devoted to providing Kansas City with a family-oriented parade celebrating our religion and nothing else.”

Well, the “nothing else” really wouldn’t fit.  Here are a bunch of pictures from the 2010 and 2011 parades.

Sure, there was music back in the fifth century. But that was also the beginning of the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages the Catholic Church implemented the Suppression: outlawing the use of the tritone in writing music (they called it the devil’s chord). This would be one of the Catholic beliefs at the time that St. Patrick suffered and died for.  Since the tritone is the basis for all tonal music (read: all the music you hear nowadays) you can bet this band is playing that evil, evil chord. A lot. Yet these sinners are allowed.

The Shamrock, used by Irish Pagans as the symbol for many of the triple goddesses in Irish religion before St. Patrick ganked their style to use its three leaves as a representation of the trinity. If they want to keep the parade about honoring Irish heritage, they should include the goddesses Brigid, Ériu, and the Morrigan. St. Patrick can be honored as the guy who thought the Pagans were on to something and jocked their ideas.

Did you know that St. Patrick had a dog named Scooby Doo?

Little known fact: St. Patrick was a huge fan of the Austin Powers movies.  And since the KC St. Patrick’s Day parade “celebrates the Feast Day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and the Christian teachings and beliefs that he lived and suffered for” it is with respect to St. Patrick that Austin Powers, and his message of penis pumps and raucous, unmarried sex with that particular movie’s love interest were included in the parade.  Speaking of the love interest, you can bet the woman in the slinky dress and Mr. Powers are handing out beads to all the women/men who most love St. Patrick.

But atheists?  Come on, this parade is all about St. Patrick and his suffering.  Can’t those atheist try not to ruin the Catholic tradition?

This is obvious discrimination, and it’s pretty low of the committee to call their discrimination “respect”.  If you need to discriminate against a group of people to please a long-dead saint, he’s probably not much of a saint.  Unfortunately, this is an independent group and so they’re allowed to discriminate against whoever they want.  Yes, the parade is on public land, and while I’m no lawyer I’ve been around situations like this enough to know that the likely comeback would be that the atheists are free to organize their own parade on public land, hence equal treatment.  And I think that argument would stick.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that letting in all of these people, and leprechauns, and all other competing myths, but keeping atheists out reveals a group that wants to discriminate, but knows most people will think ill of them for it, and so they just call discrimination against this one group they wish to bar from the festivities “respect for what their saint stood for.”  In the 21st century, when the choice is between equal treatment and maintaining the tenets of a religion, it should be clear that the it’s the religion that needs to get thrown out, not the other way around.

Apparently St. Patrick also stood for dishonesty, because the planning committee gets to participate.  If the Catholic Church ever appoints a saint of making shit up, they should keep this planning committee on retainer for that parade.

I’m in Kansas for the next three weeks.  On St. Patty’s day I think I’ll get drunk and have sex out of wedlock so St. Patrick and Jesus can both grit their ethereal teeth and shake their impotent fists at me from the most boring heaven ever conceived.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Art Vandelay

    Who wants to be the one to tell them that the President of Ireland is an atheist?

    • Glodson

      They won’t care, because he’s not really Irish enough for them.

      • Chris

        No True Irishman fallacy?

      • tubi

        Are you implying that he’s No Real Irishman?

        • Glodson

          Pretty much what those barring the Atheist from taking part in the parade about Irish Pride would say. Or at least think.

          I doubt strongly they’ll be bothered by any facts about Ireland. They just don’t want any atheists in their parade.

    • Aoife

      And don’t forget that we’ve been welcoming LGBT groups into PaDDy’s Day parades all over the country for years now! We love us some atheists and queermos, so we do.

  • James Croft

    St. Patrick’s Day Parades LOVE to discriminate! The LGBTQ groups I work with have been barred from the Boston Parade for years now. We were going to challenge this in court (again) until we remembered that if the St. Patrick’s Day Parade were required to accept us we would possibly have to let Fred Phelps march in our Pride Parade. This is not something we want.

  • Art Vandelay

    Know who else wasn’t Irish? St. Patrick. He was a Roman.

  • Gordon

    The legacy of St Patrick is the overthrow of the traditional faith practiced by the majority.

  • Rain

    I’m surprised they didn’t say it’s because of their relationship with Jesus. That’s the new lame excuse meme that’s going around these days. They need to keep up with the lame excuse memes.

  • Juby!

    To be pendantic, Patrick was a Roman citizen, but he was a Celtic native of Britain.

    • Peg

      Well, to be annoying, that would “pedantic.”
      And the notion that a bunch of heathens adopt my cultural heritage observation day to drink green beer, get drunk, and wear green is offensive to my sensibilities.

      • otrame

        Peg, it is MY cultural heritage, too. I am mostly Irish with the rest other Celtic peoples (except for that one Comanche). And I welcome anyone, especially “heathens” who wants to drink green beer and have fun during a largely fake “heritage” event. It beats the hell out of killing each other over religious identities. Stan Rogers said it best:

        All rights and all wrongs have long since blown away,
        For causes are ashes where children lie slain.
        Yet the damned U.D.I and the cruel I.R.A.
        Will tomorrow go murdering again.

        THAT’S your fucking heritage, Peg. And that is offensive to my sensibilities.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what they do in Ireland. In America, the Irish immigrants have a little different fucking heritage as an oppressed minority, and their mythological plucky attitude that turned their misfortunate history into one of the largest groups that are proud of themselves, and now “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”. I don’t know what that means since I’m not at all Irish, but I take it as if you’re not going to be jubilant and drunk off your ass, nobody wants to look at you today. So their heritage now is “fuck all the party-poopers” while they take a green plastic hat from Party City as a license to puke on your lawn. “St. Patrick” is just a prop.

  • iknklast

    I’m part Irish, and all atheist, so it appears it isn’t so much about Irish heritage, but about Irish Christians. (Protestant? Or Catholic?) With all the horrors that religious divisiveness has caused in Ireland, you’d think they’d be reluctant to point out the religious beliefs. Austin Powers? No, the more likely celebration of Irish religious heritage would be an explosion, and that would be horrifying indeed. Sometimes we need to move a bit away from our heritage, and forge ahead into a new understanding of who we are.

    • Aoife

      Actually, I’d say explosions are more about politics, economics and culture than religion. For purely religious Irish cultural traditions, you’re going to have to go straight to incarcerating thousands of innocent women in forced labour camps. I’m sure that’ll make for one hell of a parade float.

  • pjmaertz

    Isn’t the Catholic Saint of making shit up just the secondary job of every catholic saint?

  • NotTheBoss

    I’m not sure if this is Australia, but over here we tend to see St Patrick as the patron saint of wearing green and getting amazingly sloshed. If you really want to disrespect St Boozehound, stay sober! Wear orange! That’ll learn him.

  • Andrew Kohler

    “During the Middle Ages the Catholic Church implemented the Suppression: outlawing the use of the tritone in writing music (they called it the devil’s chord). ”

    This makes me want to listen to the first movement of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (in which the chorus’s only pitches in the first section are the tritone C and F#) in protest. Or Stravinsky’s Petrushka, which features the triads built on those two pitches played simultaneously. Or, anything by Beethoven with all his diminished seventh chords (built of two tritones a minor third apart). Tritones rule.