The Day Religion Died

They’d done it.

After millennia of fighting, war, desolation…

The world had achieved total, utter, perfect peace.

All countries became states of one large country.  The UN became their governing body, and throughout the world, people burned up their guns and weapons.  Armies dissolved.  People embraced each other.

And it was all thanks to a moment, collectively, where the entire world looked at itself and said, “My gosh, this is all because of religion.”

They looked at the Middle East.  They looked at almost every war, almost every despot, almost every insane thing happening in the world.  It was all religion’s fault they realized.  It was their beliefs that were getting in the way.

And so the presidents of the world had convened an emergency meeting.  They sat in a room for twenty hours trying to work everything out.  Pizza was ordered.  Twice.

And they came to the inescapable conclusion: it was time for religion to go.  Belief too: out the window.  In one swift motion, they could get rid of 95% of the problems of the world.

They went back to their respective countries and announced the news.  Sure, there was some hubbub.  Sure, some of the priests and rabbis and all that didn’t like it.  But they were paid to go along with the plan, given handsome jobs doing the kind of government work that allows you to have the same blind authority over people that priests do.

Most of them were cool with that.  A few resisted and they were either shot or put in jail.  It was a temporary measure, you see, to get over the hump.

And yes, there were some protests.  But the governments paid off the media and made them look like a radical fringe. In the meantime, they legalized pot and a few other drugs for good measure, and handed out the drugs at protests.  Soon, everyone was singing and dancing, and people forgot what they were protesting against.

Sure, a few resisted there too.  They were shot on sight.  Again, temporary.  The weeding out just had to be done, you understand.  No way forward without  getting rid of the riff-raff.

Yes, it didn’t take that long for all the world to come around, what with the money, drugs, and indiscriminate killing to help sway them.

It takes bravery, vision, genius to make the world perfect.  And, luckily, the leaders of the world were willing to take the necessary steps to perfection.

Soon everyone was happily going about their lives.  There was nothing to argue about anymore.  Politics?  Come on, the whole root of all issues in politics was always religious.  Abortion and all that.  Soon everyone became a Republicrat, and there was one party, and everyone had rights and good jobs and equality and all that good stuff.

People were allowed to question, and be cynical and all that, but because scientists were now doing studies about almost every question people had, there was simply not so much to question anymore.  The scientists were asking and answering the questions for them.

All was perfect.  Nothing, nothing could change this situation of absolute perfection.

And that’s why what happened next will be very hard to comprehend.

It all started in a simple home dispute: Mr. and Mrs. McrGregor, residents of Normal, Illinois, began what seemed, at the time, like a minor disagreement.

Mr. McGregor had been raised to believe that the proper way to hang toilet paper was overhand.  His whole life he had lived that way.  His parents and their parents before them and on and on, had always hung toilet paper overhand.

Mrs. McGregor, on the other hand, had come from a family of dutiful underhanders.  Since the beginning of time, it was told, they hung their toilet paper underhand.  When her grandfather fought in the war, and he was lost in a jungle with no toilet paper, he would hang the leaves he used on a branch underhand, that’s how devoted they were.

Now, Mrs. McGregor loved her husband, and when they married, she had agreed to try and accept his ways.

But as time went on, it became harder and harder for her to accept her husband’s position.  Every time she replaced the toilet paper, she felt that she was betraying her family.

But what was even worse was that every time she went to the bathroom, she kept reaching for the toilet paper like it was underhand.  Every time.

Finally, she realized she could take it no more.  She had to confront Mr. McGregor.  Surely he would understand.  Surely, he would adapt.

“Absolutely not!” he yelled, the moment she brought it up, “To sacrifice my family’s tradition!  And for something totally illogical!  Underhand!  Pshaw!  No decent person in the world hangs it that way.  Smart folks, educated folks, people that know this from that, they all hang overhand!  Yes, it’s the poor, foolish folks like your family that…”

And on and on he went.  Blustering, guffawing, and generally pshawing his argument.

Well, it could have all ended there, but fate would have it that this was just the beginning.

Angry, frustrated, and screaming, they continued their argument for days.  Weeks.  Months.

Soon, the families of Mr. and Mrs. McGregor got involved.  At family get-togethers, the toilet paper debate would dominate conversation.  They would argue and argue until food fights ensued, screaming matches, and even physical brawls.

Oh, it was a sad sight.  But what was even worse was that soon, the town of Normal found out about this debate.  And they began to debate as well.  Everyone had their reasons: underhand was better for the wrist, overhand worked whether you were standing or sitting…

But the debate continued to rage.  Soon, the town of Normal itself became divided into the Unders and Overs.  Unders couldn’t eat at Over restaurants and vice versa.  Male and female bathrooms were converted into Over and Under bathrooms.  Sure, it was awkward for men and women to be in the same bathrooms, but it would have been much more awkward to be in a bathroom where the toilet paper was on wrong.

Soon, the media caught wind of what was happening, and Normal, Illinois became national news.  “A Town Divided Like Perforations On Toilet Paper” the headlines read.  Although there hadn’t been a debate in ages thanks to the disappearance of religion, a debate show was brought back on every major news channel, and panelists would come on just to argue about the validity of each style.

Scientists were interviewed as well, but, for the first time in ages, they couldn’t come to an agreement.  Soon the scientists became convinced that the people that disagreed with them were doing so for cultural reasons: “He only believes that because he’s been paid by the Unders!” they would accuse.  Or, “She’s only saying that because her family is Overs!  She’s not being objective!”

And in no time, the debates spread from town to town, from state to state, from country to country. 

Soon, Unders began to wear their clothes inside-out to show their solidarity.  But it became dangerous to walk around the wrong part of town at night.  Gangs would go from bathroom to bathroom to check how toilet paper was hung.  But there would be other gangs waiting in the bathrooms for them, and soon there were people dying.

It was a sad sight.  After all the work that had been done to make the world peaceful, religion gone, people were now fighting over the one thing in the world that didn’t have proof one way or the other.

At first, world leaders called for peace.  They were watching their towns burn with violence for the first time in decades, and they were shocked, appalled.

But during a national conference of leaders, Mozim Obagwi of New-Zimbabwe claimed, “Yes, we should have peace, but only after the world has accepted underhand toilet paper.”

And that was the spark that lit the match.  Soon, the same leaders who had been calling for peace began debating.  Then arguing.  Then screaming. 

And then Mark Funkhowser of Non-French-Canada punched Minzy Bimby of One-Percent-America in the face.

And that was it.  They all realized that now they had to take a stance.  There was no gray in this discussion anymore, you were either on the good side or the black side.

Minzy Bimby got on television, his eye still bruised from the punch, and told his rich fat cat country, “Yesterday, Funkhowser, that damn Hoozer who apologizes for everything forgot to apologize for one thing: being an evil terrorist dictocratic (a word I made up to make him sound even worse) fool.  He wouldn’t apologize for that because that’s what his whole country is, those dogs.

“From now, if you are not with us you’re against us.  If you are a primitive, uncivilized overhander, we don’t want you in our country.”

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Funkhowser, of course, had his own speech, where he called Bimby an “infidel” and a “weak, skinny snake who slivers from under the dirt, just like the toilet paper he hangs so pathetically ‘under’”.  He said still other things that even this uncensored publication won’t allow to be printed.

Country after country joined either the “Axis of Unders” or the “Allied Overs”.  Mrs. McGregor was forced into hiding in the land of Illinois, since 99%istan obviously had to do the opposite of the 1%.  Her whereabouts were unknown, but it was said she was hiding somewhere in the cornfields of Illinois, where authorities became too bored to look for her.

In swift succession, country after country began creating what they all called “Freedom Laws”.  Whereas gangs used to roam their nations looking to start fights with those who disagreed with their way of looking at things, now the police enforced the toilet paper hanging laws.  They would tear through bars, restaurants, cafes, any place with a public toilet, and make sure the toilet paper was hung the correct way.

Of course, in every country, there were those who bribed to preserve their way of life.  Some places even became known “Poop-Easies” that would have crazy party at night where people would come and drink laxatives at a bar and then run to the bathroom in a frenzy of joy.

But for the most part, these activities were stamped out. 

Each country introduced the same tactics that were used to stamp out religion: they bribed whoever they could to come to their side.  All the rest they shot on sight.  Some countries put them in “work camps”.  Other countries, following custom, would behead the “infidels” in public and send the videos to the countries they were at odds with.

It was all temporary, though, you see.  Just until the world was set right in their eyes.  All the problems would be gone after that.

And as each country started to finally fall in line, as their people finally understood that their points of view were correct, and the people who didn’t agree were killed, peace started to fall within each country, in its borders.

Suddenly, all the scientists in each country sided with their country’s positions.  They went on TV and said there were no longer any quibbles.  That life had been figured out.  That the peace they had been living when religion had been destroyed was now finally coming to pass.

But it couldn’t last long, because as soon as the calmness fell in each country’s borders, they knew that just across the border from them were people who had a fundamentally unscientific, undeveloped point of view.

And, of course, Bimby hadn’t forgotten that punch to his face by Funkhowser. As his country slipped into peace, he had secretly smuggled the now-hero of the “under”ground resistance in 99%istan, Mrs. McGregor,  into his country.

When the time was right, he paraded her in front of the cameras, saying, “This is a true hero.  A model we must follow.  And Mrs. McGregor knows that we cannot stop until we have achieved total victory.  Peace is good in our country, but we know that it is not enough.  Those poor souls, those poor sad souls, in 99%istan and beyond, they have allowed themselves to be tricked by pseudo-scientific explanations given to them by manipulative, monstrous political leaders who only care about themselves.  We are their liberators!  Here to show them the truth.  We will free of them of their foolish notions.  But first, we must defeat them.  It is the only way.

“And don’t worry… it’s only temporary.”

After his rousing speech, Mrs. McGregor came forward solemnly.  She nodded.  She said, “Also, Mr. McGregor always left the toilet seat up.”

And that was it.  The enemy had been vilified.  The righteous hero exalted.  The leader empowered.  People cried in the streets after that night, hugging and kissing each other, sure in their purely rational mission to liberate the fools in the other countries. 

It was war time.  The Axis of Unders against the Allies of Overs.  The symbolism of what Mr. and Mrs. McGregor stood for.  Now it would all be decided.  The temporary problem would be resolved.

For years, the Great Toilet Paper War, as it came to be known, raged.  Each country drafted their people.  They spread their propaganda in an even stronger way for the people at home. 

Cities were leveled.  Children left without parents, or even killed alongside them (“It’s okay,” some soldiers said, “They would have grown up to be an Over (or Under) anyway.”)  Nuclear bombs were dropped.  Hydrogen.  War everywhere.  Complete destruction all around.

And the worst part was that it seemed no one could win.  One day the Axis was on top.  The other, it was the Allies.

The war went for ten years.  Then another ten.  Then ten more.

Mr. and Mrs. McGregor were now old and feeble, but they had grown to be even more extreme than when this whole thing started.  They now shared the view that the other side could not be reformed, that it had to be annihilated.  Like the soldiers that had killed children, they argued that there was no way the other side could be convinced because they were too irrational, too brainwashed, too foolish.  The only option was total destruction.

And so the war continued to rage.  Fifty years, one hundred, two hundred, half a millenia.  Until soon entire countries were decimated, until people started to forget how the war started, and legends began to develop.  Legends on both sides, of how Mr. McGregor was told by a voice in the middle of the night to liberate the world from the foolish underhanders.  Legends of how Mrs. McGregor had only married Mr. McGregor in order to trick him and kill him, but how he had escaped and that is how all the evil in the world exists.

Buildings were built to praise Funkhowser, who had a fist of iron and toilet paper made of gold.  Statues were built of Bimby, who it was said had a heart made of toilet paper.

People would burn toilet paper in sacrifice to whoever they had chosen as their “heart’s leader” as they called it, hoping that the toilet paper would reach their leaders in another dimension, so that they would have something to wipe with in the next world.

The war raged for another five hundred years.  The legends spread and grew, but it soon became clear that many had become tired of these stories.  They didn’t have any connection to Bimby or Funkhowser, and every year that passed seemed to prove that they didn’t have any real power, and perhaps they were even misguided.

People looked all around them, and they saw the destuction, the pain, that a millennia and a half of war had wrought on the world.

It was time to end the war, it was finally decided.

And so the world leaders came together.

And they spoke.

And they discussed.

And soon, it became clear what the problem was.

Toilet paper.  And the foolish leaders that had guided them into fighting over it.

Toilet paper was illogical, it was irrational. Under, over… what was the point?  Who cared?

It was all toilet paper’s fault!

And so it was decided that no longer would there be toilet paper, but only bidets.

The statues of Bimby and Funkhowser and Mr. and Mrs. McGregor also had to go, of course.

And yes, most of the world understood the necessity of getting rid of the things that had caused them so much pain over the last millennia and a half, but of course, war and tradition and belief are hard things to break.  So yes, there were some people that resisted.

The leaders of the various resistances were paid to go along with the plan, given handsome jobs doing the kind of government work that allows you to have the same blind authority over people that they had before.

Most of them were cool with that.  A few resisted and they were either shot or put in jail.  It was a temporary measure, you see, to get over the hump.

And yes, there were some protests.  But the governments paid off the media and made them look like a radical fringe. In the meantime, they legalized more drugs for good measure, and handed out the drugs at protests.  Soon, everyone was singing and dancing, and people forgot what they were protesting against.

Sure, a few resisted there too.  They were shot on sight.  Again, temporary.  The weeding out just had to be done, you understand.  No way forward without getting rid of the riff-raff.

And so toilet paper had finally been eliminated.  The cause of all human suffering eliminated.

As it turned out, that was also temporary.