We thank thee for this fine tobacco, Father. We thank thee for Philip Morris and *cough*our Patron Saint the Marlboro Man. We pray you bring us protection from sanctimonious former smokers, full ashtrays and ever increasing sin taxes. Accept this offering of smooth, mellow flavor, oh Lord, that You may*cough* know our pleasure in Your bounty of the wonderful leaf that brings us bold, soothing satisfaction.
Or so might go the prayer of the new One and Universal Smokers Church of God in the Netherlands. A smoking ban that went into effect in bars on July 1st has prompted one man, Michiel Eijsbouts to start a new religion dedicated to “the trinity of smoke, fire and ash.” Stating that they “honour their god by smoking,” the new church claims protections under the Dutch Constitution and European Union Charter. Several bars have already joined.
Eijsbouts, although well intentioned, is something of a loon. Either that or he is mixing wacky weed with his Winston’s:
Church founder Michiel Eijsbouts says café owners who are trying to get round the ban on smoking will not be allowed to join. The church, he says, takes smoking very seriously.
‘It has ritual aspects, it is something you experience and we follow our faith very strictly,’ he told the Telegraaf.
Every religion has its ascetics, I suppose.
Worshipers of the Almighty Smoke receive a card that entitles them to light up inside cafes. While there is no word yet of other Holy Practices of the One and Universal Smokers Church of God I think it is safe to assume that they will bring a whole new meaning to “Ash Wednesday.”
This leads me to other questions. Is it a sin to ash on the floor? Is one kind of cigarette holier than another? Can Dutch citizens write cigarettes off on their taxes now as donations to the church? What about other paraphernalia such as ashtrays and lighters? If you burn to death in bed after falling asleep while holding a lit cigarette is that Divine retribution or the Devil going after a devout follower of The Smoking God?
If I were to start an affiliate church here in America, I would double down on the Muslims and make it a rule that you have to pray 10 times a day, going Allah 5 better. Of course, Muslims don’t need an ashtray to pray and the call to prayer isn’t interrupted by the muezzin going into uncontrollable fits of coughing.
This new religion also opens up a whole new business for iconographers — you know those folks that make those pictures of Jesus to hang on your wall? Imagine a new Jesus icon with a Marlboro dangling and maybe even a cowboy hat. Maybe God wasn’t smiting Sodom and Gomorrah as much as He was just trying to get His followers to light up and worship Him in the way He demands. Maybe the Hawaiian’s have the right idea with Pele, Goddess of the Volcano.
I have always believed that God would probably be a grizzled old bearded guy with a voice like Johnny Cash and an attitude that’s a cross between John Wayne and Jack Bauer. But now I get to picture him with a lit cigarette hanging from his lips as He pronounces your fate on Judgment Day.
Of course since it is bars that are joining The One and Universal Smokers Church of God one can honestly say they are going to church after work. This has marvelous possibilities for increasing the plummeting attendance of churches in the European Union. If they could somehow combine the smoker’s church with the High and Holy Church of Beer I see a whole new group of very devout worshipers and “church attendance” skyrocketing. Why, we could see more devoutness around the world than we have seen since the Inquisition and what’s more it would be devoutness done with a glad heart and much enthusiasm rather than racking and burning at the stake.
I am feeling pretty pious myself right about now and am thinking I should crack open a cold one and light up a Holy Smoke. Speaking of which, smokers would no longer be pariahs but would be seen as devout adherents to a religion and chasing us outside into the cold of winter would no longer be allowed. Imagine a world of non smokers as apostates. The next time you light up and someone coughs loudly and glares at you for daring to pray in their presence you can sue them for stomping on your religious freedom.
Of course the existence of this Church opens up whole new possibilities for Barack Obama, who reportedly quit smoking recently. He left his church of twenty years after it was revealed his pastor is racist, hateful and anti-American so he’s bound to be looking for a new church to attend. I’d like to suggest if the whole President thing doesn’t work out for him that he take up the mantle of leadership for the North American branch of The One and Universal Smokers Church of God. Once Tony Rezko gets out of jail he can come aboard as the money man.
The one problem Obama will run into is the left’s notorious anti-tobacco and anti-religion stance. So they would have two fronts on which to attack this new church. In fact I can’t think of any other construct that has the possibility of angering the hard left unless you added in actually pouring crude oil directly onto the heads of baby seals and deliberately setting old growth forests aflame while railing against a deaf, blind, obese African American lesbian at your worship services.
Once one gets away from the nanny state of the modern western world, one finds smoking is much more common that it is here. The One and Universal Smokers Church of God could easily go international and then Obama would be poised to know true power in running a worldwide church. We could call him “The Pope of Smoke.”
Forget about running the United States, Barack. My advice to you is to drop out now and secure your place in The One and Universal Smokers Church of God and shoot for the Holy Smoking Stars, baby.