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WEEK IN REVIEW: A major drop in God-belief
Arson at The Satanic Temple HQ, a Jewish challenge to an abortion ban, the narrow-mindedness of organized skepticism, and more!
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A Gallup poll released this morning found that a record-low 81% of Americans believe in God.
Is 81% still way too high? Definitely.
Are the trends heading in the right direction? Definitely.
Is this newsletter the sole reason for the decline? Definitely. You can support the work I do—and help me continue it—by getting a paid subscription or donating via Patreon.
Now onto the news…
A Jewish synagogue, the Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, is suing Florida over its impending 15-week abortion ban because they say it would violate their religious beliefs. Their faith requires women to have control over their bodies.
The lawsuit is a direct challenge to the Christian nationalist mindset that now seems to permeate conservative judges. If religious beliefs can override pandemic safety measures or threaten long-standing church/state separation principles, why can’t Jewish beliefs pose a credible threat to a law banning abortion for almost any reason after an arbitrary time?
The case will ultimately boil down to whether Republicans’ desire to force their conservative Christian will on people will be allowed to stand, even when it directly prohibits other people from exercising their religious beliefs.
Some good news: The Canadian Armed Forces just got its first Humanist chaplain, Captain Marie-Claire Khadij, and she’s hopefully going to be the first of many.
Khadij had been a Catholic chaplain since 2017, but she drifted away from that religion over time. Becoming secular won’t have any impact on her ability to do the job, though, because military chaplains aren’t supposed to push their beliefs on others. They’re supposed to help service members get the help they need, meeting them wherever they’re at.
A whole bunch of unvaccinated Christian cops in San Diego say that getting tested for COVID is now a violation of their faith. Is that actually true? Of course not. But these conservatives know that citing Jesus gets them out of basic safety precautions and they just don’t give a damn how many people they hurt. In summary, Christian cops won’t get tested for COVID because they believe judges will let them get away with it, and that sentence summarizes everything wrong with America over the past several years.
The Nativity School of Worcester, a private Catholic middle school in Massachusetts, put up Pride and Black Lives Matter flags outside its building a few months ago. They got pushback at first from Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester but stuck to their beliefs. And that has now culminated in McManus revoking the “Catholic” designation from their school.
To put that another way, a guy who works for a child sexual abuse cabal is punishing a Catholic school for daring to be loving and inclusive of marginalized communities.
Dozens of students at Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian college, protested their school’s recent decision to block the hiring of openly LGBTQ people by handing rainbow flags to the university president as he gave them their diplomas.
It comes after many of those students staged sit-ins outside his office for weeks (and will continue to do so through the end of the month).
On Friday, a man wearing a “GOD” shirt tried to burn down The Satanic Temple’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts. The suspect, Daniel Damien Lucey, was quickly apprehended because 1) he was caught on camera and 2) he was still there when police arrived on the scene.
Despite the video evidence and open confession, though, Lucey says he’s not guilty:
Winchester (Winston) Hagans has been found guilty of littering and will have to pay a $300 fine. Why is that a big deal? Because he was leaving flowers at the gravesite of his fiancée, who died in a car accident last year, and her father, a local preacher, decided to go after him because of it. Just more of that conservative Christian love we keep hearing so much about.
Many of us became atheists because we had a passion for dismantling misinformation and promoting critical thinking. And yet the mindset that led us to leave religion doesn’t always get applied to matters like sexism and racism. In a piece for The Humanist, Kavin Senapathy writes about how our movement has historically been too narrow-minded: "The pseudoscience that skeptics tend to oppose is only a subset. By and large, what U.S.-based skeptics groups haven’t done in a concerted way... is address dehumanizing pseudoscientific inquiry, practices, and beliefs."
Christian nationalists are hosting a forum next week to discuss making Pennsylvania an "explicitly Christian state." Because that is a normal thing that just happens now.
At least, in this case, the backlash against everyone involved has been intense.
There was a shooting inside an Alabama church Thursday night. I don’t say this to make light of a tragedy, only to make a point: God isn’t the issue. Prayers aren’t the problem. It’s the guns.
With a predicted red wave, election news is typically bad, but here’s one bright spot: Christian nationalist Mark Burns couldn’t even win his GOP primary despite a campaign full of lies:It looks like Christian nationalist MAGA pastor Mark Burns won't be able to fulfill his dream of going to Congress and reestablishing HUAC in order to execute LGBTQ-friendly parents and teachers for treason.Christian nationalist MAGA pastor/GOP congressional candidate Mark Burns says that "LGBTQ indoctrination" represents "a national security threat" and anyone engaged in it should be executed for treason. https://t.co/lTLkeOlgQ3 https://t.co/8L3sBIncYIRight Wing Watch @RightWingWatch
Burns had said supporters of “LGBTQ indoctrination” should be executed and that any laws contradicting his interpretation of the Bible should be overturned and declared illegal. Even Republicans didn’t want to get on board with that level of theocratic craziness.
Rewriting American history is now a requirement for Republican candidates:
Christian nationalist Rep. Lauren Boebert openly prayed for the death of President Joe Biden, and you probably didn’t hear about it because the media just accepts conservative Christians saying this kind of stuff now.Note: As has been noted by Bible scholars for centuries, the full context for this verse Boebert cites in Psalm 109 very clearly suggests a prayer for the death of another. “May his days be few; may another take his position. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”Lauren Boebert’s prayer for President Joe Biden: “May his days be few.” https://t.co/1ft1LoYqnKPatriotTakes 🇺🇸 @patriottakes
The conservative Christians who vote for MAGA Republicans while pretending to care about “family values” are all hypocrites. Every one of them.SCOOP: Herschel Walker has a secret 10-year-old son, who he doesn't see. He also repeatedly rails against fatherless homes in the Black community, and says the greatest achievement of his life is being a good dad. Me
Update: There are more secret kids. Because of course there are.
At their annual conference, the Southern Baptist Convention debated whether churches with female pastors should be booted out of their club. Which surely had nothing to do with the following chart:
By the way, Pastor Rick Warren gave a speech at the SBC conference in defense of putting women in leadership roles at his church. Sounds great… but keep in mind that he just handed control of Saddleback Church to an anti-LGBTQ bigot.This is the guy now taking over Rick Warren's megachurch, in case any of you thought Warren was one of the more decent pastors. mercurynews.com/2022/06/03/pas….Andy Wood, the lead pastor of California's Echo Church, couldn't handle people applauding Jeopardy! phenom Amy Schneider for being openly transgender. He whined about how being anti-trans is now considered "shameful" while insisting he's not a bigot. https://t.co/hNBhMxylBcHemant Mehta @hemantmehta
While we’re discussing bad Christian dudes…
Make sure this is never the headline for your obituary:
I don’t want to spoil this. But just read this story from Humans of New York. The beginning of the thread is below:
Need more weekend reading material? Here’s a fantastic essay from a former Jehovah’s Witness: "As the months went by, I waited to see if anyone from the congregation would reach out to me to see how I was. No call or SMS came. The shunning had begun."
The full conversation also aired on Australian TV:
When Steph Curry points to his future ring…
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, had a slew of horrible tweets:I imagine some of you have a strong reaction to Lori saying Purity Culture “wasn’t destructive with lasting consequences.”
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Christian hate-preacher Tanner Furrh says gays and lesbians should be stoned to death by the government. "Putting a bullet in their head is too nice... that's the easy way out."Christian hate-preacher Tanner Furrh issued an apology for all the anti-LGBTQ bigotry coming from his New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist colleagues. I swear this is what he released.Christian hate-preacher Tanner Furrh says he celebrates when gay people are murdered. "If God allows some other reprobate to kill a bunch of other reprobates, I'm not gonna be sad about that... I'm gonna rejoice!" (Warning: It gets loud in the middle of the clip.)Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley said he gives LGBTQ people "a reason to live" because they spend so much time and energy denouncing him. ("It's not our fault that they hate themselves.") He also trashed their looks. Content warning: He mentions suicide.Christian hate-preacher Corbin Ressl is very upset that only his fellow hate-preachers ever make news for calling for gay people to be executed by the government. "Why is it always our guys?" He wants other Baptists to get in on the action.Christian hate-preacher David Akers says you can't experience "true hatred" against LGBTQ people until you've witnessed childbirth.Christian "prophetess" Kat Kerr says you can ride saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths in Heaven. Also: "You can ride the pterodactyls."If you enjoy hearing crazy people scream nonsense at the top of their lungs, have I got the Father's Day gift for you...Scamvangelist Kenneth Copeland said this weekend that Vitamin C is a cure for COVID. That is not true.
There was a protest outside Stedfast Baptist Church in Texas last weekend which led to some pushing and shoving by the Christians. Thank goodness it didn’t escalate beyond that.
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 6. The Bible finally answers the question that everyone's been asking: How do I become a Nazarite? Also: What is a Nazarite?
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
I did an interview recently with The Burning Eden Podcast that’s probably NSFW despite being audio-only.
Finally, these lists are always weird…Most obvious: "Satanists". Most overlap: “Disobedient Children”/“Party Animals”. Most threatening to Jared Leto: “Jesus Mockers”. Most universally damning: "Masturbators". Most dismissive of 75% of Christian history: "Catholics". Most self-descriptive: “Fake Christians”.
That’s it for this week! Stay safe. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Please become a full subscriber or share this with someone who may enjoy it. It would mean a lot to me :)