Lipstick on a Pig

Lipstick on a Pig October 14, 2020


Yesterday’s blog was about ‘scripture’, a word that glorifies writing. It’s the literal equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. 

Allow me to digress to give you another example…

This morning, on my drive to deliver members of the family to work and school, I was in the overtaking lane doing seventy mph (113kph) behind a large van. I couldn’t see anything beyond the slab-like rear of this vehicle. Suddenly, without slowing down, it jinked into the other lane leaving me to discover why – there was a long line of almost stationary traffic ahead! Fortunately, I don’t tailgate, so I had time to check in my mirror that the other lane was still empty and to dive into it myself instead of piling into the tailback and causing a domino effect collision. 

But I felt tricked – it was like when the magician pulls back the curtain to give us the revelation that his glamorous assistant is no longer in the box that we have just seen her get into!

Why am I telling you this? Because the van had a slogan on the back proclaiming that it was in the business of ‘Logistics’. It reminded me of a chat I had with a fellow Councillor many years ago. I asked him what he did and he said, “I’m in logistics”. At that time, ‘logistics’ was a new and uncommon word so he was able to impress most people with his job description. I was tempted to ask, “Do you drive a truck, or answer the office phone?” but I bit my tongue; it seemed wiser to leave him to his delusions of grandeur!

The point is, we can deliberately use language to bamboozle people, to give them a false impression – to put ‘lipstick on the pig’. You may not be surprised to hear that the religious have developed a whole vocabulary especially for doing this, for ‘confirming’ their claims. 

As well as ‘scripture’, words like ‘sacred’, ‘holy’, ‘heresy’, ‘sacrilege’ and ‘blasphemy’ have little use in atheistic communication. Also, ‘revelation’ gets much more work in a Biblical context than it does in road incidents like I experienced this morning! 

These words assume the existence of a god, and they mean something special in the context of a deity. The world’s most international language, English, is heavily polluted with words and expressions that reinforce the notion of god. Haven’t the Christians done a good job, over the centuries, of indoctrinating us!

That’s why I prefer to say ‘Gesundheit’ and not ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezes!


Image by Ixocactus / CC BY-SA (


John Richards is the Publications Director of Atheist Alliance International. You can read more about the author here.

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