WEEK IN REVIEW: Backlash after challenging Christian prayers and the Pledge
Religious discrimination against Muslim students, a Christian mom loses her "smudging" lawsuit, ChatGPT's attempt at a theological debate, and more!
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Emily Olson, the newest city council member in Owosso, Michigan, is already making waves—and getting threatened—for trying to end the tradition of Christian prayers at meetings and refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
After reading an article about what she did, and how she was being threatened, I reached out to Olson and ended up having a lengthy phone conversation with her. Not only was she a delight, she’s the sort of person who makes you want to run for office because she’s doing it for all the right reasons.
She didn’t protest the Pledge and prayers (in her own way) because she wanted to create a stir. She was just hoping Owosso could be more welcoming and inclusive to people who aren’t part of the majority faith. Her attempt to make things better was met with resistance by people who believe the city belongs to them and only them.
The city isn’t changing just yet. But the people of Owosso should be grateful they have someone like Olson looking out for the community’s best interests. If only the majority of her colleagues on the City Council felt the same way.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to spend time on articles like these.
And while I still love what Twitter could be, I know that option may not be viable much longer, so here’s my Mastodon account for anyone interested. Let’s hope I never actually have to use it.
The Board of Trustees for the Greenville County Schools in South Carolina wants clergy members to be able to review what books are appropriate for public school students, and they may face a legal challenge if they go through with it.
The board says they’re just following state law, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation says the law is specific: It limits clergy involvement to reviewing “reproductive health education, family life education, and pregnancy prevention education.” (That’s a horrible law, to be clear, but it’s specific.)
If the clergy members are allowed to remain on the committees, a lawsuit may be forthcoming.
A teacher at Franklin Academy, a public charter school in Florida, was fired after interrupting three Muslim students in the middle of a prayer. She stepped on their hands during the sacred ritual and dismissively calling their worship “magic.” That’s especially ironic coming from a Christian, since the same faculty member said, “I believe in Jesus, so I’m interrupting the floor.”
It was all caught on video where over a million people have seen it on TikTok:
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A new report obtained by CBC News found that the lawyer tasked with helping the Archdiocese of Montreal be more transparent when it comes to child sexual abuse allegations has discovered that Church leaders were sabotaging her efforts.
Marie Christine Kirouack said that the same priest undermining her efforts “failed to notify her about one complaint and in another, told a complainant not to contact her.”
All of this makes it less likely that victims will come forward with their stories. The Church’s ability to downplay or ignore abuse allegations, even while a watchdog investigates over their shoulders, is no comfort to those who were hoping the Archdiocese would fix itself. Kirouack vows to stay on the job and continue pushing the institution in a better direction, but when she isn’t allowed to do a thorough investigation, it’s hard to have hope in the process.
A Christian mother spent YEARS arguing that a school in British Columbia violated her family's religious freedom by making her kids participate in an Indigenous “smudging” ritual.
Now a Court of Appeal has dismissed her case. Turns out her claims weren't even true. One example? The Court said, “Children were not participating in the smudging, but that they were actually observing it as part of a lesson about others’ beliefs.”
Educating kids about religion doesn’t amount to religious indoctrination.
This shouldn’t be controversial. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul should immediately sign into law a bill letting people who need substance abuse treatment know that they have non-religious options.
Even though After School Satan Clubs are nothing more than science clubs with a twist, Virginia’s Chesapeake Public Schools has delayed one ASSC group’s first meeting citing safety concerns. What they won’t say is where those concerns are coming from.
The Satanists are coming in peace and they’re bringing art supplies. The Christians who claim this is evil, and may choose to take measures into their own hands, are far more of a threat to this community than the Satanists trying to teach compassion without Christ.
Interestingly enough, FOX host Jesse Watters brought on The Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves to talk about this story, and when Watters asked what values TST stood for, the response appeared to leave him dumbfounded:
On Monday, Congressman Louie Gohmert, one of the most conservative members of the Republican Party, gave a general speech on the floor of the House and recited a sermon written for him by Pastor Tommy Nelson, who runs Denton Bible Church in Texas.
Somehow, Gohmert left out the whole part about how Nelson’s church has become a hotbed of sexual abuse and Nelson’s own negligence allowed that abuse to continue.
Gohmert said instead that Tommy Nelson was full of “profound truth,” the sort of morality that could only come from a higher power.
Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke has a new YouTube channel… which shouldn’t be up for long given that his two previous channels were banned.
The announcement coincides with his new movie trailer…
Someone send this woman help:
May we all have the confidence of Grinnell’s men’s basketball team playing a Christian college:
Ark Encounter is going through another attendance slump. Too bad. So sad.
The U.S. House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing about the threat of Christian Nationalism and how it’s a guiding force for right-wing extremists:
I asked the ChatGPT tool to write up a short theological debate… and thank goodness I never have to listen to this in real life.
What is the source of this? Someone please find out.
Kudos to Andrew Hartzler, the gay nephew of right-wing Christian bigot Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who recently went viral for crying about how protecting marriage equality would hurt Christians.
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Oh, look. Those drag queens are at it again. (What’s that? Oh. I see…)
Leave it to a Muslim commentator to remind Christians what Jesus taught:
I made a video about how we ought to respond to the vandalism at Focus on the Family's headquarters.
I also spoke with Janice Selbie for the Divorcing Religion Podcast:
It’s never good when I can’t decide if a conservative Christian is being racist, sexist, transphobic, or just plain heartless.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, is just making things up now… while telling boys to avoid school:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 32: It's time for another round of names you do not care about. Thanks, Bible!
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, I guess this is a news story.
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