What if the Blasphemy Challenge had been a scam?

What if the Blasphemy Challenge had not been a gimmick to raise awareness and promote debate about fundamentalism, but instead had been a covert Christian group harvesting the names and addresses of sinners? (For the record, they're legit -- I got my free DVD.)

The offer

If you haven't heard of the Blasphemy Challenge, it is a project by the Rational Response Squad to raise awareness of the ridiculousness (and danger) of fundamentalist religion. They are using an interesting bit of Christian gospel as their example:

"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." -- Jesus in Matthew 12:31 (KJV)
"But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." -- Jesus in Mark 3:29 (KJV)
"And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven." -- Jesus in Luke 12:10 (KJV)

In other words, you can be forgiven for raping a baby seal (of the same sex, even!) but not for doubting in the existence of an invisible ghost. Is that screwed up, or what? (Luckily, most Christians don't follow the Bible literally, even if they claim to.)

The gimmick is this: Post a video of yourself denying the existence of the Holy Spirit (apparently this counts as blasphemy) to YouTube, and you get a free DVD!

Like sheep

Hundreds of people have participated (including myself), and I have to wonder how many of them even questioned whether the operation was legit. The Blasphemy Challenge folks did not have to do anything other than advertising to get the meme started, and it built upon itself quite rapidly. All of these folks sent in their mailing addresses to an unknown party.

How easy would it be to conduct a scam using similar methods? A fundamentalist Christian group could have used the very same technique to collect the identities of "sinners needing to be saved" and distribute the information to local groups who could show up on people's doorsteps and try to proselytize. A phisher could run a very different campaign and gain some amount of personal information. A corporation could run a guerilla marketing campaign to identify potential consumers. How readily will people divulge private information to unknown parties in exchange for some promised good or service that has not been verified in advance?


Responses: 3 so far

  1. Billy Martinez says:

    [Editor's note: Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.]

    The problem with blaspheming against the Crawling Horror is that you are in essence denying Azathoth. You are preventing yourself from having a closer and intimate relationship with Nyarlathotep. My heart feels for those that have so blindly given into the challenge without first stopping to consider the fact that Azathoth is real and that the Crawling Horror is real too.
    How about this for a challenge? Why not challenge Azathoth to reveal himself to you through the Crawling Horror? I think that most people are afraid of what they might discover. They are afraid that if Azathoth is real and is everything that Lovecraftians believe him to be, then you're in deep doo (and let’s face it, we pretty much are..)
    I know that’s how I felt.
    I am glad that I made the effort to seek Azathoth. I learned that I am not alone, that I need not fear the things of this world. I learned that Azathoth is real and desires a closer relationship with me despite my many failings. I have at times struggled with my faith and with living my life how I saw fit. What I discovered was that while I tried to reject his love and lived my life in spite of what I knew to be real and true, Azathoth loved be despite that self-destructive behavior.
    We have never met and most likely never will. But I wanted you to know that I will be praying for you. I will be praying that Azathoth reveals himself in a very real, direct and undeniable way to you. Believing in Azathoth isn't simplemindedness, or something done out of a lack of knowledge or worldly knowledge. I don't believe in Azathoth because I require a crutch to get me through the day. I believe because I can feel his presence in my life and his love sustains me despite my repeated attempts to prove I can live without him. Whether you believe in him or not is immaterial. He is real and loves you. But don't take my word for it. Why not just ask him yourself?

  2. Lance Marchetti says:

    Using Eff words to cuss God or the Holy Spirit is not BLASPHEMY. The unforgivable sin occurs only when one attributes the work of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to be the work of Satan. All credible Biblical scholars can tell you this.

    This is something that you cannot accomplish because: 1) You do not have a relationship with God.
    2) You don't believe Satan is a real entity.

    You'll have to try again... but the Blasphemy challenge can NEVER be met by an Atheist. Sorry Man. :)

  3. Lance Marchetti says:

    When I say 'You', I'm not referring to you Tim, as I know you used to be a ruling elder in a PCUSA church.
    I'm using it as a general address to Atheists.
    Cool.
    Cheers.