John Whiteside is a prophet of the United Church of Bacon.

John Whiteside is a prophet of the United Church of Bacon. RNS photo courtesy John Whiteside


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“Hail Bacon,
Full of grease,
The Lard is with thee.”

So go the opening lines to the United Church of Bacon’s “Hail Piggy: A Prayer for Bacon.”

Despite all the puns (…most UCB clergy are “friars”), the secular church has a serious mission: to fight religious discrimination against non-believers, to preserve church-state separation in the public sector and to demand equal rights for everyone, regardless of faith.

I spoke with Prophet John about why he founded UCB, why the church’s friars are officiating weddings, and of course asked the obvious: Why bacon? This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Brian Pellot: What motivated you to start the United Church of Bacon?

John Whiteside: The church was started at Penn Jillette’s house in 2010 by the 12 apostates, all friends of Penn. The first active membership drive was in 2012 at The Amaz!ng Meeting, (TAM) a science and skepticism conference. The motivation was to get people to donate to secular charities. We go to conventions and team up with secular charities, giving out free T-shirts to people who donate a minimum of five dollars to them. We teamed up with the Secular Coalition for America at the American Atheists National Convention in April and raised over $23,600. At TAM 2014, we raised more than $25,000 for the Secular Student Alliance and the James Randi Educational Foundation.

BP: How did you and Penn Jillette, the comedian/illusionist/atheist of Penn & Teller fame, team up?

JW: Penn is a personal friend and our approved and sanctioned Sunday school teacher. He’s also known for throwing the Bacon and Doughnut Party at The Amaz!ng Meeting. Other preachers include singer/actress Heather Henderson and comedian Emery Emery who together host and produce the “Ardent Atheist” and “Skeptically Yours” podcasts. We recently named former Seventh-day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell, who was fired for living a year as an atheist, Prophet of Defrocked Pastors, so he is once again clergy.

BP: So why…bacon?

JW: Because bacon is real and can be proven to exist in a court of law. We are a church of skeptics. If you can prove it, we will believe it.

BP: Have you had any complaints that the church is somehow offensive to Muslims and Jews? Or non-inclusive of vegetarians?

JW: Veggie bacon counts too. Our mission states, “First and foremost, Praise Bacon! (Even if you don’t like bacon – gasp – all you have to do is enjoy the scent.)”

BP: What are some of the tenets of Baconism?

JW: Bacon is our god, bacon is not jealous, you may have other gods or no gods before bacon. It would be nice if, as some other religions teach, you would love your neighbor and be a generally nice, moral person. Baconists love those of all races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders and beliefs, and they in turn love the divine smell. The smell of bacon is bestowed equally on all people (except those who have no sense of smell, for whom baconists feel much pity).

BP: How many members do you have and what does membership involve?

JW: We count about 3,500 humans and 300 pets as members. We will baptize any family member in the name of Bacon as long as they love the smell of bacon, be it real or vegetarian. We ran ads in the religious section of the Las Vegas Review-Journal for six months to attract members and placed two billboards in the city. Occasionally I appear on “Penn’s Sunday School” to answer callers’ questions.

BP: You’ve said that non-religious wedding officiants are discriminated against in Nevada where you’re based. How so, and how is UCB working to change this?

Bacon rings

Bacon rings Image from United Church of Bacon's website

JW: Nevada law has long prevented people who are not affiliated with religious organization from performing weddings. There was a lawsuit that was recently settled, but the results were unsatisfactory to secular groups. Now you can avoid the religious requirement and become a notary public to perform weddings, but you have to pay a fee and take a test every year. To get around this, we started doing weddings as a religious organization for free.

BP: How many wedding ceremonies have been performed?

JW: In Las Vegas we currently have four clergy who have performed or scheduled at least 12 weddings so far. They range from simple ceremonies to ones with many guests. Worldwide we have 600 registered clergy.

Sizzling to share a bacon pun? Leave it in the comments section below. As with all puns, the worse they are the better. 

47 Comments

  1. See…this is the absolute garbage the overriding mentality of our secular gov has lead to. It will only get worse for us. It cannot improve as long as people are encouraged and mocked for believeing in God.

    This bacon man can openly and very publicly make light of religion. A personally held worldview. But you may not criticize his secular worldview. There is much legal ringfencing in place to keep any discussion the two of you might have unbalanced. He is protected. You are not.

    And I bet the bacon worshipper thinks he has a superior argument….not realizing the fight is kept unfair from the very beginning by a godless American gov and godless american people who would rather devote the mission of their monkey lives to bacon.

    It will only get worse. Its the start if the open and unchecked persecution.

    • Unchecked persecution? You mean like the kind religions have inflicted for centuries on others who did not share their beliefs? And still do. Secular government? Godless Americans? I am not seeing America as a secular society, but rather, a pluralistic one where religion is still a strong motivating force (and a persecuting one for some, including women, gays, atheists and pagans). But then maybe you and I don’t live in the same America. If you want to see a truly secular society, try living in Europe for awhile. Britain is a far better example of a country without religion, and all the benefits that go with it.

    • Are you kidding? What planet are from? Atheist, agnostics, and Secular Humanist are attacked and criticized constantly by religious people. The reason the debate seems unfair to you is that the only argument the religious have is faith and that’s an arbitrary concept. This guys arguments are based on fact, logic, reason and science. You can’t win. We are not a theocracy and our laws are not God given. They come from the founding fathers who were students of the Enlightenment. We have separation of church and state for a reason, to keep religious zealots from forcing their beliefs on others.

      • Your so typical.

        So his “science” is bacon based. Therefore its proved, and the existential claims he makes of bacon..the deity…can be verified.

        And because of all this it is superior to any deity who cannot be scientifically proved and measured. And as superior, the argument for a bacon god should take precedent in the governance of society over unverified deities. But oh yeah, you are free to believe in religon and live it out. Right?

        I think that sums up your position.

        • *Sigh
          Your religion is not nearly as tedious as your humorless ignorance. Get a life.
          If your biggest opponent is bacon, you have alot for which to be grateful. Count your blessings – and start with “grateful to be allowed to be online.”

          • Hummmm:-O

            Sounds like you’d prefer a gov protect you from people like me…to make your online experience funny and less trying. Oh dear. My zippy my da doo.
            Its all about u after all. I bet your of the generation that got a trophy just for showing up.

        • blood of bacon

          Wow. When you can use correct English, perhaps I’ll consider your arguments. Start with the proper understanding of “your” vs. “you’re”.

          Praise Bacon!

    • Of course you can criticize his secular world view. You are even doing it right now. While there are certainly individuals who think that religion is ridiculous, their right to say so is what protects your right to say that they are wrong. Freedom to profess your religious views is only protected if everybody else has the right to express their views. Someone saying that they don’t believe in religion, even through a parody such as this, does not in any way persecute you or anyone religious, and is not representative of our government’s position in any case.

    • Secular government certainly doesn’t mean secular leaders, considering EVERY president has been Christian. There are how many atheist/agnostic congressmen representing what percentage of society? We need to be shielded from specific religions messing with our rights such as happened in England with the Anglican and Catholic Churches. Stop acting like being religious is some sort of oppressed minority; it’s a tired Fox “News” line.

    • See…this is the absolute garbage the overriding mentality of our religiously-influenced gov has lead to. It will only get worse for us. It cannot improve as long as people are discouraged and ridiculed for not believeing in God.

      A religous man can openly and very publicly denounce atheism. A personally held worldview. But you may not criticize his religious worldview. There is much social and political ringfencing in place to keep any discussion the two of you might have unbalanced. He is protected. You are not.

      And I bet the god-worshipper thinks he has a superior argument….not realizing the fight is kept unfair from the very beginning by a religiously-influenced American gov and god-fearing american people who would rather devote the mission of their monkey lives to some god.

      It will only get worse. Its the start if the open and unchecked persecution

      • Cool. My concepts are absolutely reciprocal. It would be inequality with either group in charge are prohibiting the other an equal voice.

        I wish I had thought to demonstrate it like that.

    • You can criticize him all you want. Our secular constitution allows for free speech. The fact that you cannot take away people’s rights with laws based on your preferred religion does not mean you are being persecuted.

  2. Lles – We’ve dispatched our angels of love to help you see (or smell) the light. They will visit you the next time you smell bacon! You will enjoy the smell of bacon, and the bacon angels will help warm your heart, and turn your nose to feel better about us.

    • Yep. Its all cute and fun to poopoo religion until some “evil fundie” lets loose a crack about thr gay worldview. They you “humanists” act very offended and threaten to harm us unless we stand quitely and take thr abuse.

      Some country you got here. Some secular movement. I’m pretty sure I can do without it and have it be a benefit to my life. Ah, yes….the world the “thinking” humanist has built.

      • Lles, when anyone – “evil Fundie” or not, attacks a group of people in a bigoted way, then yes, of course, that group should be defended.

        That’s not the same as attacking ideas. Ideas are not people, just as corporations aren’t people. If you want to attack the ideas of secular people, go ahead (well, you already are doing so). Just don’t complain when others attack other ideas. Ideas are to be discussed, after all.

        I think you’d be a lot happier if you began to see the difference between ideas and people.

        • I cannot make the seperation. People define their reality in terms of ideas. Concepts and beliefs. Most times fabulously generalizied…as I have read. These chains of logic mixed with belief of relative degrees of accuracy or inaccuracy determine the rules we operate under day to day.

          So to allow one group to make fun of another based on its specific rules, while not allowing for reciprical mocking….is just biased and unbalanced IMO. The very basis of inequality.

          I think in america, since secular worldviews have been deemed to rule exclusively, and argument for a worldview that is religious is ignored….simply because its religious. So this is a conversation that will not be allowed to take place by means of the rules set up to govern the discussion itself.

          We’ve operated this way for a while now and I ask you to judge it….by examining for yourself if we are better off now as a society than we were at any given point in time. Keep in mind, the cognative rules each individual is operating under are founded in something. Would a more religious society he better or worse than ours today? How bout a more secular one? Are we more or less proud of ourselves than we used to be? And why?

          Of course this is all highly subjective and personal. Just asking for reflection. Thats all.

          • “if we are better off now as a society than we were at any given point in time”
            How far back are we going? Before or after genocide of Native Americans? Before or after slavery? Before or after the civil rights movement? Before or after women could vote?

          • Lles-

            OK, we disagree about it being possible to respect all people without respecting all ideas. We can discuss that more sometime, but I want to respond to your question at the end of your post, especially since you asked me to consider it, and did so without attack.

            First, I don’t think a secular worldview has been deemed the only acceptable view in America. It may seem like that to you, but I think that’s due to the fact that until quite recently, only a religious worldview as allowed to be expressed. Going from that to one where both are voiced may indeed seem like religious views are no longer allowed to you by comparison. In the recent past, only the Christian worldview as allowed, and it was assumed true, without any request to be supported by evidence. Today, the Christian view is still given special privileges, while all views are at least asked to use some objective evidence as support. While that’s still far from one where all worldviews are treated equally, and all are judged based on evidence, it’s a big improvement from the previous state, IMHO.

            Based on nearly any measure, it seems clear that we are much better off today than in the past – especially in the area of human conflict. Looking at the old honor based culture (especially in the US south prior to 1860), people today are much less likely to be violent. For instance, google “culture of honor”, “photo lab”, and read about one experiment looking at this. Many more sources of evidence show the same thing. Another is the book “the Better Angels of our Nature” by Pinker, which I highly recommend. I listened to it on audio on my commute, so it didn’t take time from my day (it’s available on Amazon).

            Comparing all that information and more, along with things like those mentioned by CT150, it does seem we are much better off now, with a more civil society, now that at least a weak request is made to use some evidence instead of just assuming the Christian worldview, as was the recent past. I think thing will get better as we continue to more towards treating different worldviews fairly – by expecting all of them to base assertions on evidence. In that way, I would expect less hatred as we all just look at the evidence instead of thinking that the other side is evil. I’ve seen this on a personal level at work too. In teams, when we have evidence and base discussions on it, we attack ideas, not people, and agreements are easier to come by. Even when I’m in the “losing” side, it’s no big deal, since more evidence will either vindicate me, or show that I’m wrong (in which case I’ll happily change so as to make the right decision). When we don’t base things on evidence, we end up attacking each other personally.

            So to answer your fair, thoughtful and useful question – I think that we are better off now, and will be better off in the future as well, as more people use evidence to support their worldview, and ignore worldviews that refuse to do so.

  3. I don’t see why we should not have very high hopes for the 12 marriages that took their vows according to god bacon. And in Las Vegas, no less.

    Haha. I bet each and every one will be absolute marital bliss for the remainder of their lives.

    • John Whiteside

      Up until this comment I thought you would realize that your position had been neutralized by other commentators. Thank you to all (religious and non-religious) that defended the United Church of Bacon.
      Concerning this latest issue of “marital bliss”, if you can please check out actual divorce rates by religion. The more dogmatic an individual is, the higher the
      chance they will eventually divorce. Evangelical Christians have the highest divorce rates in the US. Atheists, Jews, and Mormons have the lowest.
      Loose the hate and cherry picking of the bible and your life will get better.
      Sincerely, John Whiteside

      • @john if you can look at more recent studies, Christian marriages actually end in divorce about half as often as secular marriages. you are free to mock religion all that you want under American rights, but that is all that it ever will be, mockery. you can hide behind the fact that you collect money for charitable organizations, but when it boils down to it, you could easily do that with a regular organization which does NOT mock religion and that truly desires to help out those in need. you enjoy the feeling of superiority that you get knowing that you are doing something that ticks off those that you disagree with, and you know that’s true. I understand that you have the right to mock and belittle, and that most certainly is a flaw in our government, but I can not understand how anyone with any sort of respect for those different than them could take you seriously. Disagreement is a part and a flaw of our lives, but those who handle these disagreements with malice are not practicing anything respectable, and I will have you know that I certainly do not respect nor acknowledge what you do as true service to humanity, as it is meant solely to mock and belittle religion, specifically Christianity. You claim to want your secularity because you have been oppressed, but then you use this secularity to attempt to oppress the Christian faith with your right to free speech. If you desire those around you to actually accept secularity, a good start may be to quit mocking those you are attempting to persuade. Lose the mockery and your self-righteous attitude, and your life will get better.
        Sincerely, Hunter

        • John Whiteside

          Just remember Hunter, “mocking a religion” is open to interpretation. Do you roll your eyes when muslims profess 72 virgins as a gift to men in Heaven? Do you not “mock” conservative Jews concerning their beliefs, such as a lack of heaven, or the use of only one fabric in clothing? Or how about the sun worshipers? In my mind, the sun can be proven to exist, unlike an invisible deity. We call “bacon” god in the same way you think your pet is a god. Not a real god, but in our mind, “god”. But, just as your dog, it can be proven to exist.

          Your comment about “a flaw in our government” that I can openly “mock” your religion is scary. Yeah, lets bring out death to witches and atheists for blasphemy. Great idea. Christians did that. It was called the dark ages, or crusades, and simply being a wife that would not submit to the biblical principal of being a rag doll for men was burned at the stake. It truly was a man’s world, and still is in religion. Thankfully, society told the churches to change, and if they did not it would show in the collection plate.

          Do you not “mock” my religion? It does not bother me, however If you took time to look at the praise bacon.com website and look at our tenets, you would see a tolerant religion that does not believe in blasphemy laws, and accepts all, including those that accept your god, or any other god before bacon. The only reason you “find a flaw” in the lack of blasphemy laws is because, due to the internet age, people are actually reading the entire bible and finding out disgusting immoral stories that they were never told in church. The term blind sheep comes to mind. Or maybe “pandering for cash” by telling only the good stories.

          It seems every time science or society questions “facts” in the bible, there magically appears a new revelation. Examples: slavery in the south was fought tooth and nail by churches,( slavery was “biblical”) the civil rights movement was also fought by southern churches because the bible prohibits mixing races. And the latest target are the gays. And science….is the earth flat? Does the sun revolve around the earth? ( Galileo spent 10 years under house arrest until death for this “blasphemy”). And now….a 6000 year old earth and Darwin is wrong that a rib was taken from Adam to create Eve.

          My church does not accept donations and pays taxes. We skip the middleman when donating. The “match” that the church makes to causes come from my personal account… And over 25% of my income goes to charity. And no, I am not rich. You should check out this fact: 85 billion dollars per year is what the tax exemption status amounts to by religious organizations. That amounts to all the cost of food stamps, and 10 billion left over for housing. A church gives about 20-30% to charity, the rest is for infrastructure.

          Not sure where you got your stats on divorce rates, please provide evidence. In the meantime, wiki “Barna Group”, an evangelical survey group that was sold in 2009. Their survey that they put out, showing divorce rates, showed evangelical christians had the highest divorce rates. Funding eventually dried up, and THEY WENT OUT OF BUSINESS.
          The fact is they were silenced by people like you.

          • 1) I never said that your church did not give or that you were not generous. My statement solely was that I do not respect the way that you choose to go about attracting people to donate. It is an open mockery, and I do not support that.

            2) I believe that you are confusing “mockery” with a disagreement. I most certainly disagree on certain beliefs and doctrine of other religions; however, never have I been, nor will I ever be, able to justify mockery of another religion through mine. Just because I simply do not agree does not mean that I mock or make fun of them. I do believe in equality, I do believe in a right to believe what you would wish to believe. Even though I believe those things, I do still believe that there is still one way to salvation and one way to find true fulfillment. That does not mean that I publicly degrade them. Where is the love or tolerance of other religions in that? Tolerance is a claim taken up by most atheists, but 3/4 of the time, I do not see an ounce of it in their actions.

            3)Many dark times in Christianity came when the Catholic Church’s preists had self-given authority to be the sole owners and interpretors of the Bible. Of course, the Catholic Church had great power during the dark ages, and still interpreted the Bible the way that they politically saw fit, which caused great confusion in the message of the Gospel. and more recent dark times for Christianity have proven to be arguments that were hollow, as there is no grounds in the Bible for what they were saying. You have to understand that not all Christians were pro slavery or segregation, and also there are many people who will find one verse in the Bible, take it out of context, and use it to have their way. We see this in mentions of slaves in the Bible, which were most likely the verses used to support slavery. We do know that when the Bible mentions slavery in every day life, it is not “slavery” as we picture it, and was more of a servant-like “job” that was used to work a debt off. Of course we see times where slavery wasn’t so humane, but we see God get His people out of those kinds of slavery. This violent slavery was not the slavery that the Bible promotes. The kind of slavery the Bible promotes in when a child asks his dad for 20 bucks and his dad gives it to him on the condition that he will do yardwork the next day.

            4)We can see much evidence for homosexuality being immoral in the Bible, Old and New Testament. Now, I know that it is inevitable that homosexual relationships will be recognized in America as marriages and such, and I know that in America, I cannot deny anyone of that right, but that does not mean that I believe that it is moral, and I will still stand and say that it is immoral, even if it is legal. That doesn’t mean it is “hatred”, as I do not hate or discriminate against them, and I believe that they are people just like me. None of us are perfect, but we do need a savior from these imperfections, and Jesus IS that salvation and a life honoring to Him IS the life that is fulfilling and peaceful for all of humanity. a TRUE life honoring to Him, not cherry picking.

            As for my divorce statistics, I’ve seen them multiple places. Here is one I just looked up. A relatively small sample size in comparison to the U.S. population, but they also add information gathered by another organization studying divorce rates.

    • I like the Biblical marriage of Solomon. He had 700 wives and 300 whores, (concubines) God was all into Solomon’s way of life until one of his wives/whores turned him to other gods.
      And good old Abraham who married his sister…god is into incest too.

      • Don’t you love the way Hunter ends the conversation above Alison without the ability to reply? Obviously this is an attempt to “have the last word” as he is afraid of criticism.
        His justification for his dislike of “mockery” and confusion with “disagreement” is wrong. The term “I’m a Christian woman” is nothing more than an attempt to show that someone is morally superior. This “attitude” that your religion is morally superior to other religions deserves mockery…There are good people both religious and non religious, but to make a good person bad takes religion. It is tied to the lack of a fully developed pre-frontal lobe, which allows us to reason. Thinking that slavery in the bible is a metaphor is wrong historically.
        This “Church of Bacon” members think that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Hunter’s “evidence” is a book that is no different than what all other abrahamic religions followed 500 years ago. Jesus is now “God-lite” yet Hunter cherry picks what he wants to follow in the old testament forgetting that in Matthew and Luke Jesus stated ” I did not come to change the law but enforce it”. The law was the old testament until the concept of liberty and lack of a stranglehold by churches over governments came to fruition. This applied to all abrahamic religions, and still does in theocracies.
        Either “Hunter” is a 10 year old child or adult without an education in history.

  4. it’s kind of weird how the Anti-Religion News Service takes kooks seriously.

    Obviously, the whole point is to mock religion. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no serious intent behind the group.

    • RNS is an advocacy tool for liberal activists. I’m not kidding. Take note of which commenters show up on which articles. The same guys show up time after time on gay topics, hobby lobby topics, and israel topics.

      See, the advocates are either professional day jobbers who post and are paid for it, or self directed but maybe with a bit if formal training from their chosen advocacy/propaganda group. Both types have a subject driven newfeed desktop service that covers a lot of web portals. Once a article pops up on a pet topic they want to propagandize, they flock in to that website and pepper the boards with prepackaged argument points and thumbs up “likes”. The purpose of all this is to get you, the unsuspecting casual reader, to form an opinion in synch with their agenda via the appearance of broad organic support…which may or may not actually exist.

      AIPAC funds a lot of these groups and developed the techniques, and they have been adopted widely by gay rights groups who are nonprofits legally, but operate under a publicly facing guise as a church of sorts. A collection or foundation of multi-faith participants from churches all across the country who band togather to promote “education” to schools and churches for their agenda.

      Its really all quite ugly and subversive when you realize what is going on. Just remember, its an effort to mold opinion via a largely (yet artificially) supported and orchastrated message via mass media reach….to thr lowers nodes (discussion boards).

      I know CarrotCakeMan is one of them. He has a yabberz you can lookup detailing over 5000 posts of his on political and religious boards. He posts mostly during working hours, and thr topics are narrow. Hes revealed he and his domestic partner are members of the ACLU and live in Lakeport CA…..if I remember correctly.

      • You forgot to include the contributions Illuminati, The Thule Society, Odessa, HYDRA and those people secretly keeping Joseph Stalin’s brain in a jar.

      • John Whiteside

        Interesting comment concerning “day jobbers”. Nat, you started posting Friday at 1026am and this final post was on Friday, July 19th is at 330pm. Sounds like the kettle calling out the pot to me.
        But thanks for starting a riot among the non dogmatic religious, which are sick and tired of people like you trying to create a Christian nation.
        I lived in a dogmatic theocracy flying F-16′s in Desert Storm. I know how disgusting that is. The citizens in the United States are smart enough to realize the original immigrants that came to the United States did so to avoid religious persecution….as a matter of fact it was persecution of Christians AGAINST Christians.

    • No?

      Do you think there are any jewish humanists? Any that support hurting palis by proxy through a state?

      How about agnistic american humanists? Any.thay just might be ok with the idea of droning a Pakistan suspected terrorist by proxy through their state.

      I think all of us share blame for the acts of our state, regardless of ideology. And governments harm people on huge scales.

  5. I applaud that they “question with boldness” but they don’t seem to be sticking around for the answers. Skeptics and those of the atheistic faith seem to believe that they get to ask all the questions while many questions exist that they must answer in order to meaningfully claim relevance.

    They praise the existence of an autonomous culture but as soon as you disagree, they take a heteronomous stand in order to silence you as so many have done in the comments section. It’s a very common sort of “bait-and-switch” in that your sacred autonomy is disregarded if you don’t hold the same view.

  6. I am one of the UCB clergy liscensed to officiate marriages in Nevada. You can find us by searching the Nevada Secretary of State’s officiant registry for “United Church of Bacon,” or “The United Church of Bacon.” I haven’t done one yet, but would be happy to officiate your ceremony, free of charge of course. I’m hoping to do a Jedi wedding and look forward to legalized gay marriage in Nevada so I can officiate the first gay Juggalo union.

    I fall out of line with church dogma slightly due to the fact that I believe this reality is a simulation, therefore bacon is not real. James called me a “true skeptic” and still signed my letter of good standing so I could register with the government.

    Feel free to contact me at ChrisDyer@ChrisDyer.com to see if I’m right for your ceremony.

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