June 10-17 is Secular Students Week, a week dedicated to the stories and work of the awesome students served by the Secular Student Alliance. The week also marks a big fundraiser for the organization (which I proudly support and work for), with a $20,000 challenge on the line if we can bring in 500 donations (of any size) over the course of the week.
To do my part, I’m going to be resurrecting my (God)Awful Movies segment with a bang: by covering the entire infamous video series of “BibleMan” over the course of the week. Also, I’m pledging to honor any coverage requests for people who donate to the Secular Student Alliance (through my fundraising page) over the course of the week. If you want me to cover your favorite movie, a movie you made, a training video you found on YouTube, a cat video, a movie you think I will hate/love, a horror film about killer rabbits, whatever: I’ll honor whatever you point me to. That doesn’t mean I’ll like it, but I will certainly watch and write about it. Caveat emptor, as they say.
Now, if you aren’t familiar with BibleMan, here is the rundown: it was a long-running home video series that starred an evangelical superhero in a garish armored outfit. Each story followed a vague biblical lesson, and often featured musical numbers, awful special effects, inane plots, and over the top villains. It has achieved a bit of cult status, and has been referenced and parodied in shows like “The Venture Bros.” and films like “Super.”
“BibleMan” initially starred Willie Ames of “Charles in Charge,” who was eventually replaced in the later installments. It managed to spawn a number of touring live performances, a video game, and some licensed merchandise that is still floating around out there somewhere.
One of the things that I enjoyed during my time as a secular student at the University of Alabama was the occasional ironic viewing of “BibleMan.” A lot of people I knew grew up with the costumed crusader, who is a common presence in children’s programming in evangelical churches (which, as you might imagine, are numerous in the area). For many, college is the first time that they could look back and laugh a bit at some aspects of their religious upbringings, and BibleMan always made for a prime therapeutic target.
Of course, it isn’t all funny. Some of the lessons and content in “BibleMan” teach (explicitly or implicitly) xenophobic, anti-semitic, and anti-scientific rhetoric. I have made it a personal policy to buy any copies I find at buy/sell/trade stores (which doesn’t profit the BibleMan folks), in order to do my part to keep them out of the hands of kids.
In any case, the Secular Student Alliance helps build and sustain communities for young atheists, agnostics, humanists, etc. on college and high school campuses across the United States, much like the one that I was in at the University of Alabama. We also, as an organization, strongly support interfaith and progressive cooperation on campuses (LGBT orgs, Feminist groups, etc). If atheism isn’t your bag, that’s all cool by me! We aren’t out to destroy churches or shame the religious: we’re trying to be constructive, by building communities where they didn’t exist previously. I think many religious folks take for granted the advantages and benefits of having a natural community around their faith: it gives them a social network, a meeting spot, and a pool of people you can potentially lean on in times of need. That is the sort of thing we are building for the not-so-religious across the country, in cooperation with organizations like Openly Secular.
Regardless, enjoy the ride through BibleMan over the next week! If you can spare it, toss a couple of bucks to the Secular Student Alliance: it’ll help us (and more importantly, our students) out a ton. If you do, I’ll cover a movie of your choice. Again, here is my campaign page for donations. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be sure to do your bad movie bidding.