Easter rarely falls on April Fools Day, but this year it does, and now’s the time to stop repeating an old joke targeting non-believers.
For the first time in 62 years, Easter will fall on April Fools Day in 2018. How rare is it? Since 1888, and counting this year, it will have happened only five times: 1888, 1923, 1934, 1956 and 2018.
Easter and April Fools Day will next coincide in 2029 and again in 2040. If we’re fortunate, we’ll be around to see those two Easters as well.
Easter’s date varies wildly year to year. It can actually vary by more than a full month, anywhere between March 22nd at the earliest and April 25th at the latest. That’s because the Council of Nicea decided in the year 325 A.D. to standardize how Easter’s date is determined. They decided to set Easter as the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. If you want to know more about that, I wrote about that back in 2013 here.
The April Fools Day joke targeting non-believers isn’t dependent on Easter’s date.
A few years back, I wrote about the joke the first time I saw it. I still see it from time to time on Facebook. It goes something like this:
“Did you know there’s an official holiday for non-believers? Yes! It’s called April Fools Day!”
As Christians chuckle to themselves at the little dig at their perceived adversaries, they justify the snide comment with, of all things, a Bible verse! Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”
A longer passage that uses the word fool can be found in Luke 12: 16-20, known as “The Parable of the Rich Fool.”
The problem with this joke that too many Christians seem to miss ought to be obvious.
How is ridiculing a non-believer supposed to inspire that non-believer to walk inside a church or start up a conversation about God? Such jokes might be examples of actions that “cause a brother to stumble,” a reference to a passage in Romans 14 that instructs Christians to make sure we’re not placing obstacles in the way of our fellow believers in their faith journey.
Some of the more pious Christians, it should be noted, are quick to recite the spirit of that passage when a believer attempts to argue a different interpretation of the scriptures than the accused might believe. Some of those same pious Christians, oddly enough, completely forget that passage in favor of humor like the April Fools Day joke.
Such jokes serve neither God or those we’re called to minister to. Maybe this is the year we can put this unnecessary joke to rest.