Updated: Aug 18
Okay, it's true: we at GCRR tend to showcase our irreverence for religion, as well as our (admittedly) poor attempt at a sense of humor. But we promise we love religion. We really do! Indeed, while some of us at GCRR are nonbelievers and skeptics, many of our academic society and international board members are also devout religionists from multiple faith traditions. In every case, we all love the history, philosophy, and social-scientific study of religious belief systems. But unlike other institutions, we also want to have fun with our studies!
It's just that the academic study of religion, particularly here in the United States, is run by a lot of hardline religionists who simply refuse to entertain anything sacrilegious or nontraditional. For way too long, conservative religionists of every stripe have used academia as a way of promoting their own ideology in order to prevent other viewpoints from having a platform. And believe it or not, religious fundamentalists have even influenced academic societies that are devoutly secular in their approach to religious studies. To this day, there are still some ideas and hypotheses that will never receive a fair hearing at big-name institutions because traditionalists have effectively poisoned the well.
So why does it look like we hate religion? Well, some of it is on purpose. It's called "abductive provocations."
GCRR was created out of a disenchantment with conventional academia and its insistence on exploiting researchers while disqualifying anyone who didn't tow the “party line.” Initially, many of us saw only two choices: leave academia or endorse a system that we no longer accept as helpful to scholarship. Soon, however, we discovered a third alternative: engage in a new way to be an academic.
Underpinning our religio-philosophy is the need for humility and self-correction. We find that researchers, particularly religious researchers, routinely disparage other people’s beliefs yet are unwilling to question their own assumptions about reality. In order to counter this tendency, and make fun of ourselves in the process, we engage in abductive provocations.
For many of us professional researchers, we seek to be deliberately provocative and mischievous in order to stimulate abductive thinking and create a little cognitive dissonance. Why? Because genuine learning occurs when people have to think for themselves! We want to make fun of everyone, including atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and wanna-be Jedi Knights.
The only religion we won't poke fun of is Raëlianism 'cuz that. sh*t is REAL!
We know that simply spouting information to people does little to educate the public. This is why GCRR thrives on astonishment and shock in order to encourage imaginative discourse. We want to motivate contemplation rather than dictate a particular belief system. And sometimes, the best way to encourage self-reflection is for you to be the butt of a joke and be exposed to things you never thought about before. Engaging in comedic parodies of the surrounding culture can be very effective, as seen with the so-called "John Oliver Effect."
And let's be honest: religion is often bat-sh*t crazy. It kinda deserves to be ridiculed sometimes. GCRR's principal objective behind our playfulness is to initiate debate, suggest new questions, offer new insights, rouse people’s instinctive passions, and stimulate self-reflection. We want to seize on your imagination in order to help you gain a new perspective. When it comes to religion in particular, sacrilege and irreverence help to remove people from their world of assumptions.
In many ways, our tactics are concomitant with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25‒37), which intended to make a theological and practical argument by exploiting the conventions, expectations, and perceptions of the religious establishment. Jesus’ conclusion, that a heretical Samaritan is morally superior to the most dogmatic Jew, would have been offensive and controversial; yet the corrective nature of his message continues to resonate long after the sermon is over. That's what we want to do with academic scholarship. While we admit that some of our caricatures of religion are unfair, they are also meant to tease our religious brothers and sisters, kind of like receiving gentle taps with a sledgehammer.
So, we hope you have the same sense of humor and will have fun with us in the process! If not, then enjoy the torments of hell, ya heathen!