An Atheist Church of Bacon Lovers Can’t Believe Banks Won’t Take It Seriously

The church has started a petition where fellow atheists and other sympathizers can join their fight for the right to be seen as legit.

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Apr 20 2015, 10:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Val D'Aquila

The United Church of Bacon doesn't get it: Why is it so damn hard to be taken seriously as a religious organization when your central deity is a slab of cured pork belly?

After all, there are plenty of bacon-worshippers who may not personally ascribe to the meat in a religious setting but who bow before it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are gun-totin' 'Mericans who like to fry it on the barrels of their assault rifles, Japanese fake-food artists who spend years perfecting its visual intricacies, inventors who hope to reinvent it in non-porcine forms, and even vegetarian chefs who vouch for cooking it regardless of their own diets. Let's be honest: bacon is kind of a god.

The United Church of Bacon isn't really concerned with gods, though—at least not in the traditional sense. It is a real, legally recognized church with some 4,000 members, but its central aims are less monotheistic and more atheistic.

See, the United Church of Bacon—founded in 2010 by Las Vegas-based ex-Marine John Whiteside—still believes in charity, weddings, and compassion, but selected bacon as its central theme as a means of creating focus on the experiential aspects of life rather than, in its words, the "supernatural." In the mission statement and beliefs outline on its website, the Church explains, "We are skeptics and atheists. In our religion, we doubt religion." And considering its small size, the church has done its fair share of social goodness, raising close to $100,000 for an assortment of charities in 2014 (on top of, err, hosting a Burning Man event and "[stopping] illegal and dangerous parking at Calvary Chapel Spring Valley"). The UCB describes itself as "one of the fastest growing new religions in the world"—and one of its biggest goals is to end discrimination towards atheists.

Which is why it's ended up in quite the squabble with bank Wells Fargo, after Whiteside was refused notary services for an official document of the organization last April. Apparently, Whiteside visited a Las Vegas branch of the bank with unnamed church documents that needed to be formally notarized and was denied by an individual whom he believed discriminated against the church due to its name and atheist beliefs. "Whiteside's ID was accepted and he had an account at Wells Fargo," a statement about the incident issued by the church reads. "The only explanation for his rejection is discrimination against his church's minority status and godless mission." The church has also started a petition where atheists and other sympathizers can join their fight.

The church does not claim tax-free status, so it's unclear exactly what documents the notary public refused to sign. But Whiteside has taken the situation seriously and has rallied seven national secular groups together—including including American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the Secular Coalition of America, and more—to urge Wells Fargo to end its "history of discrimination." Basically: a formal apology and a promise that they won't be jerks to atheists anymore. (As of press time, Whiteside had not returned MUNCHIES' request for comment.)

In the meantime, the United Church of Bacon will just have to continue fighting for its right to sizzle.