Note: If you missed the Runner-Up list or Official Assholes 10 and 9, go back and check those out first. And remember to keep checking back this week for the rest of the worst.
There’s just simply no way I could do a countdown like this and avoid the topic of religion, which is a cornerstone of American assholery and still makes us the most Christian industrialized nation on the planet today. And who better to be a stand-in for all that puritanical scorn and ignorance than the intellectual Godfather of the Salem Witch Trials and the founder of America’s largest, most respected cult, respectively.
Cotton Mather…It’s nearly impossible to find one individual responsible for the Salem Witch Trials, and it’s of course inarguable that the young girls who accused the first women are technically more responsible, but that was feeding off a mass hysteria at the time that Mather was most responsible. It’s also not for nothing that he became the leading public defender of the Salem Witch Trials, and still defended them years after everyone else knew they were a mistake.
Asshole Adjacent: Despite Cotton’s public disgrace, you can feel his sweaty, puritanically-scolding ghost in everything from TV evangelists like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson and “fire and brimstone” nutjobs like Fred Phelps. Still, it may be a tall order to let just one man be the place holder for hypocritical religious nuts trying to cash in off the public’s ignorance, which is why I also selected…
Joseph Smith…The most controversial selection on this list and the one most likely to get my site hacked since every time I have ever written a piece critical of the Mormon Church, the amount of hacking attempts and negative comments I get grow ten-fold. The Mormon Church’s official flunkies are kind-of like Scientologists and Russian hackers rolled into one, and a uniquely American brand of high-tech, polished, P.R.-savvy fools.
Joseph Smith was a con-man even before he found religion, and there’s little doubt outside Mormon circles he founded his religion mostly to marry a lot of women and finally find financial success. He was chased out of nearly every town Mormons set up shop, and kept changing “what God was telling him” based on what was convenient at the time. The Church of Ladder Day Saints is the largest religion ever set up inside America, and it’s founded on complete and utter bullshit like Native Americans being a lost tribe of Israel, Jesus somehow being an American, magical underwear, and black skin being a curse from God. I maintain that Salt Lake City is the most openly racist place I’ve ever been in my life, and I’ve been all over the Southeast.
Smith even ran for President, constantly changing his position on just about everything, saying what he needed to different groups of people, which is perhaps why Mormons discarded the polygamy part of their religion (practically the whole point) when Utah needed to become a state, and you can still find political flip-flopping in their first major Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
This is not saying that all Mormons are bad people at all, just that they are following a religion that is essentially the world’s largest ponzi scheme, taking money from impoverished people all over the world through Mormon missions to build shopping malls in Utah.
Asshole Adjacent: Brigham Young (who may have ordered the Mountains Meadows Massacre and undoubtedly had a role in early Mormon bloodshed), early Mormons who killed people (and developed a reputation for being violent and clannish), Mitt Romney, a man who seemingly has absolutley no real political values at all, and was royally trolled by Trump, stringing Romney along for a Secretary of State job just to expose that Romney would gladly lick his boots after months of calling Trump a con man. I guess Mormons are pretty comfortable with con-men since their religion was founded by one.