Bad Faith Awards 2008
Following a tough campaign and a hard-fought election, we can finally announce last year's most scurrilous enemy of reason
Our 2008 Bad Faith Awards began with a series of podcast nominations from well known rationalists, including PZ Myers, Robin Ince, Natalie Haynes and Johann Hari, all of which remain online for you to hear. The resulting shortlist was then put to a public vote on the New Humanist blog, where 5,563 voters determined the eventual winner. The breakdown is shown in the graph to the right, and we can now proudly announce the winners and losers in this historic race.
Winner of the 2008 Bad Faith Award: Sarah Palin (1,855 votes)
The charges: Being an election and a heart attack away from controlling the world’s largest thermonuclear arsenal while simultaneously believing that the End Times may arrive during her lifetime.
What they said: “You’ve heard about some of these pet projects. They really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.”
What we say: “In dismissing fruit fly research to the great delight of her audience Palin was actually belittling basic science, something that has actually advanced our understanding of autism, and at the same time throwing in this nationalistic jingoism. She deserves the Bad Faith Award, she’s an awful person.” PZ Myers, biologist
2nd place: Adnan Oktar AKA Harun Yahya (1,091 votes)
The charges: Endless – he’s one of the world’s most high-profile creationists. But they include sending a hardback book weighing 12 pounds that denies evolution to teachers and professors around the world and getting Richard Dawkins’ website banned in Turkey.
What they said: “Darwinism lacks any scientific foundation. Not one scientific proof to back up the theory of evolution has so far been found in any relevant branch of science. The findings which have been made all show that evolution never happened.”
What we say: “Oktar stands for the naïve pseudoscience that is creationism. He has written a book which has the most incredible, unbelievable, ludicrous zoological errors in it but he counts on the fact that his audience won’t know the difference. He even has a fishing fly, complete with metal hook, as an illustration of an insect, in order to try and disprove evolution.” Richard Dawkins, biologist
3rd place: Ann Coulter (1,040 votes)
The charges: Ongoing services to Christian conservative intolerance.
What they said: “George W Bush, the man responsible for keeping Americans safe from another terrorist attack on American soil for nearly seven years now will go down in history as one of America’s greatest presidents.”
What we say: “I can only read her books one page, sometimes only one paragraph, at a time without becoming furious at the number of lies in them. I’ve tried reading from them on stage in front of an audience but have never got further than two pages before ripping out pages and jumping up and down like an angry boy in a jar full of bees. I also write to her to let her know when her jokes are logically flawed, but she never writes back. Come on Ann, we could be pen pals.” Robin Ince, comedian
4th place: Governors of St Monica's RC High School, Prestwich (623 votes)
The charges: The only secondary school in Britain to decline to give its female pupils the HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer.
What they said: “Morally it [the HPV vaccine] seems to be a sticking plaster response. Parents must consider the knock-on effect of encouraging sexual promiscuity. Instead of taking it for granted that teenagers will engage in sexual activity, we can offer a vision of a full life keeping yourself for a lifelong partnership in marriage.” Monsignor John Allen, governor
What we say: “It seems they believe the girls at the school deserve a bit of cancer if they have sex with boys as teenagers. They can’t accept even the remotest possibility that the baby Jesus wouldn’t have wanted the punishment for slagging around as a teenager to be an early death.” Natalie Haynes, comedian
5th place: Tony Blair (331 votes)
The charges: Post-premiership worldwide inter-faith Catholicism-fuelled evangelism
What they said: “You cannot understand the modern world unless you understand the importance of religious faith. Faith motivates, galvanises, organises and integrates millions upon millions of people.”
What we say: “Hangs out with Nazis . . . I know the Pope’s not a Nazi any more but his hobby these days is to hang on balconies giving speeches to adoring, chanting throngs, so he hasn’t moved that far.” Nick Doody, comedian
6th place: Stephen Green (262 votes)
The charges: Possibly Britain’s most intolerant Christian homophobe. Pickets any event he perceives as offensive to Christianity, preaching hell fire for atheists, gays and writers.
What they said: In response to the Atheist Bus Campaign – “People don’t like being preached at.”
What we say: “Stephen Green, everybody. Not the sharpest prong on the fork.” Ariane Sherine, Atheist Bus Campaign creator
7th place: Rowan Williams (178 votes)
The charges: Stating that Sharia law would inevitably enter British law for family cases
What they said: “If what we want socially is a pattern of relations in which a plurality of diverse and overlapping affiliations work for a common good, and in which groups of serious and profound conviction are not systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty, it seems unavoidable.”
What we say: “Williams claimed we could introduce Sharia law while incorporating women’s rights, but the evidence from all the Sharia courts that already exist in Britain is that the women involved mostly don’t speak English, are bullied, are subjected to domestic violence and then ordered to stay with their abusive husbands. It is repellent that someone would suggest giving that the force of British law. We need to show solidarity with Muslim women, not try to ram them into a court system that reinforces the most ugly forms of misogyny.” Johann Hari, journalist
8th place: Cardinal Keith O'Brien (134 votes)
The charges: Inability to discuss important moral and scientific issues in a rational and sensible way in his role as head of the Catholic Church in Scotland
What they said: “The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life.” Other descriptions of the bill included “grotesque”, “hideous” and of “Frankenstein proportions”.
What we say: “The British Humanist Association has tried to encourage a rational and humanist approach to the Embryology Bill, and one of the biggest obstacles to rational thinking on this, to human empathy, and to progressive moves forward on our embryology law is Cardinal Keith O’Brien.” Andrew Copson, BHA
9th place: Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham (49 votes)
The charges: Stultifyingly ignorant statements regarding the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
What they said: “Gender bending was so last century – we now do species bending. . . . Look how clever we are, Utopia must be just around the corner.”
What we say: “An immature and frankly insane reaction to scientific progress but, then, I guess that’s the bulk of a bishop’s duties.” Christina Martin, comedian
Already know who you think should win the 2009 Bad Faith Award? Send them in to us at the usual address.