There is a church in Las Vegas named after bacon. Despite the humorous association, the United Church of Bacon is a legal church with a serious mission—to promote scepticism, advance secularism, and foster equal rights.
Decorated military veteran and self-proclaimed Bacon Prophet John Whiteside founded the church in 2010. It began as a concept among group of friends and became active in 2012 upon recruitment of members. Central to the concept is the intent to fight religious discrimination against non-believers, promote church-state separation, and demand equal rights for everyone, regardless of faith.
As an institution, the United Church of Bacon is a registered non-profit organisation that functions just like any other religious institutions in the United States. It can even perform legal marriages. Now with more than 12,000 members, the organisation now has a status compared to mega churches.
It would be imprudent to say that members actually worship bacon. The church opposes supernatural claims while also promoting scepticism and atheism. Furthermore, it champions against the discrimination and marginalisation of atheists.
The church also opposes legal privileges granted unto religions, arguing that there is nothing about people of faith and their groups that make them better than secular non-profit organisations.
And like any other atheist groups, the church calls for the separation of church and state. Members believe that faith-based arguments from one group of people have no business in government decisions that affect all of the people.
Simply put, the United Church of Bacon is a religion that doubts religion—an atheist and secularist parody church. This is where the argument of the organisation becomes both tricky and nifty.
Accordingly, by asking for legal privileges for an organisation that purportedly gives reverence to a bacon, the United Church of Bacon has demonstrated how every church or religious institution has strange beliefs. This should not be the basis for bias in the law. Thus, arguing again that religious organisations do not deserve special legal privileges above secular non-profits.
It is important to note that churches and religious institutions have many unfair privileges, including freedom from reporting expenditures of acquired funds from donations. Accordingly, this privilege creates an environment conducive for exploitation.
Nonetheless, while secularism and atheism are central to the tenets of the church, it also conducts charitable deeds. Through fundraising activities, the church has channelled funds for healthcare advocacies, other secular organisations, and educational foundations.
In April 2015 for example, members of The United Church of Bacon participated in the annual Aid for AIDS of Nevada Charity Walk. Hailed as the largest walking team in the entire event, the church raised a total of $30,000. It also donated another $43,000 to veterans organisations and secular causes.
The church reports its expenditures and it aims to give a larger portion of acquiring funds to good causes.
With an active and enthusiastic pool of members, the United Church of Bacon also conducts other advocacies. It is a keen supporter of equal marriage and has been vocal in supporting LGBT rights. It was also successful in stopping illegal and dangerous parking at Calvary Chapel Spring Valley, a non-denominational church in Las Vegas.
More information about the United Church of Bacon and membership registration are available on its official website. The church welcomes members from across the world. Photo credit: United Church of Bacon/Adapted