Diary: Trump cards
Our religions game seemed to annoy everyone. Result! says Christina Martin
It started a couple of months ago when I saw this headline – “Gay Rights Don’t Trump Christian Rights say Christian Rights Group”. How stupid, I thought; as if people’s rights and beliefs can be reduced to a game of Top Trumps. Then I thought – actually that would be quite funny!
That’s how New Humanist’s God Trumps came about. It’s a card game ranking the habits and foibles of all the major religions plus one silly one. And once the magazine put it on their website it, to quote the cool kids, went viral. It was being forwarded, blogged about, and posted on discussion forums at an incredible rate. Over 56,000 people visited the website the first day it was online – the average daily visitor count is about 4,000. God Trumps has now had more than 120,000 visits and is the most read article in New Humanist’s history.
This massive proliferation prompted a lot of reaction and debate. But not everyone saw the joke. There are now forums containing pages and pages of sober theological debate sparked by the trumps, which is weird when you consider, for example, that the Catholic card has “Pope Mobile” named as Weapon of Choice. And let’s not forget the person who actually thought they were a genuinely useful tool for choosing a religion. Yeah, I don’t know either.
One of my favourite reactions was from the Agnostic forum. They got really annoyed at their card, and retaliated by mocking up an Atheist card to get back at us. Bless them.
In fact quite a lot of people mocked up their own cards. Some were motivated by a desire to see their faith included in the fun and games, others by dissatisfaction with the original set. “I think it’s more likely that Mormons were left out on purpose. Yes, folks the Mormons are that powerful,” wrote one blogger. Another produced a rather vitriolic Muslim card, because they considered our version to have been a cop-out. And they weren’t alone.
Daily Telegraph blogger and editor of the Catholic Herald Damian Thompson wrote an article entitled “Humanist Attack on Religions Chickens Out of Criticising Islam” wherein he accused us of not tackling Islam properly for fear of reprisals (the Islam card does not have categories like the others; it is designated as the ultimate trump because nobody is allowed to joke about it). He also dusted off that tired old argument that “It’s okay to knock Christians but you can’t have a go at Muslims, can you?”
I’d actually expected a quite different reaction to the Islam card since it depicted Muslims as humourless, unable to take jokes made at their expense, and given to burning effigies over trifling things like cartoons. It was a deliberate send-up of the usual stereotypes, a tactic I’d used with all the others. But I had a feeling they might mind.
What I hadn’t predicted, though, was that it would be a po-faced Catholic rather than a fiery Mullah who decided to take offence – because I hadn’t been offensive enough! Damian Thompson clearly has no sense of humour. But he did manage to make me laugh with the tags he used for his piece: "Islam", "New Humanist", "politically correct atheist cowards".
Oh and by the way, Mr Thompson’s piece ended up being posted on the Islamophobia Watch website – I guess he showed me a thing or two about how to inflame Muslims.