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WEEK IN REVIEW: Condemning bigotry isn't Christian persecution
The “Watchman Decree," atheists on the ballot, hate-groups turning into fake churches, and more!
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I’m excited to released Version 1.0 of a project that will be updated throughout the year: All the openly non-religious candidates running for public office at the state level or higher.
You might think there are virtually NO open atheists running for office because you’ve been led to believe that’s taboo. “Atheists are unelectable!” right? But that’s just not true, especially at the State level. The list (which still includes candidates running in their primaries) includes a Republican in Idaho, a transgender atheist in Kansas, and a surprising number of incumbents aiming to retain their seats. Have a look and you may be in awe of just how many people are willing to be public about their godlessness.
Will they all win their races? Of course not. But none of these people seem worried that their embrace of a non-religious identity will be used against them—and, on that front, they’re probably right.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to participate in efforts like this campaign while working on articles and other projects.
First some good news: The James Webb Telescope images were released, giving us remarkable insight into what the universe looked like billions of years ago. How much better is this telescope compared to Hubble? Look at this before and after:
Enjoy that image and a whole bunch of other ones that will never be interpreted correctly by the Creationists at Answers in Genesis.
I cannot get over the complete lack of self-awareness that went into this essay, published in the New York Post, by Sophia A. Nelson, all about how she’s being persecuted for her Christian faith. As you’d guess, no one’s ever been upset with her for being a Christian. The real story involves bigoted comments she made against the mere existence of a (fictional!) bisexual character. But she goes on and on about being a victim of religious discrimination while refusing to acknowledge how her faith-based hate is the cause of her problems.
It’s just an irresponsible essay from a privileged Christian who’s finally coming to grips with the fact that beliefs that may be taken for granted in her church bubble come across as hateful and prejudiced to everyone else.
Remember how the conservative majority on the Supreme Court said a football coach’s prayers wouldn’t be coercive to players? In an incredible piece from Michael Parker, the former co-captain of the Katy High School football team that won a Texas state championship in 2003, he was absolutely coerced. He knew pushing back against his coaches, or not participating in the prayers, would be a sign of disobedience.
Just look at these excerpts:
”I never felt I had a choice, I just knew to fall in line. This was especially true while I was a co-captain. I believed I had to set a good example by joining the majority of players and following the coach’s example.”
”I was being indoctrinated — whether intentionally or not — by a group’s beliefs. I had succeeded on the field based on my discipline and by doing what the coaches told me to do. Naturally, I thought I had to submit and conform by participating in the religious practices just as I was participating in the football practices.”
On July 1, a slew of conservative Christians, including conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and anti-abortion zealot Abby Johnson, gathered in Georgia for a FlashPoint Live event hosted by evangelist Gene Bailey. At one point, his other guests recited what he called the “Watchman Decree”… and it’s absolutely terrifying for those of us who don’t want to live in a Christian theocracy:Here's a higher quality version of what shared earlier.If this doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. Christofascist indoctrination ceremony: https://t.co/gQZ9KdwsMUNick Knudsen 🇺🇸 @NickKnudsenUS
The segment was meant to be inspirational. Instead, it’s a nightmare vision of what our country could look like if the wrong people get another chance to run the nation.
Some good news! Three Democrats in Congress, led by Rep. Jared Huffman, have proposed a bill to crack down on all those scammy Christian “health care ministry” companies that pretend to sell insurance but often leave customers with medical debt they believed would be covered. If it passes, it would help customers know what they’re buying into and hold the ministries accountable for not adhering to their promises… which means conservative Christians will complain about the legislation any moment now.
I regret to inform you that the one mom at One Million Moms is at it again:
I still don’t know how I feel about this. Insane right-wing radio host Jesse Lee Peterson, a Black man, has spent his career spewing the sort of vile rhetoric you expect from white Republicans, even referring to Donald Trump as the “Great White Hope.” Lee is also, predictably, homophobic. But two men have been alleging sexual relationships with him and their claims were amplified this week by The Daily Beast.Conservative pundit Jesse Lee Peterson is one of the right’s most prominent anti-gay voices, rising to the top of the macho “Manosphere.” But now multiple male friends of Peterson say they had sexual relationships with him, including a decade long affair.
I’m not sure I would take these claims seriously. As damning as they would be, the claims are all unsubstantiated. And they're being propagated by people who don't have a track record of credibility. There are plenty of problems with Jesse Lee Peterson even w/o this supposed hypocrisy.
The Georgia Guidestones were destroyed last week in an act of vandalism that was immediately celebrated by fundamentalist Christians who felt a Satanic threat had been destroyed. It’s not like liberals were fans of the monument either, since they were very likely erected by a white supremacist/eugenicist, but they weren’t the ones crowing about the destruction.
As local historian Raymond Wiley told Religion News Service, the Guidestones were meant to survive the apocalypse, but “they could not survive Southern culture.” A frivolous-yet-fun monument was likely shattered due to Christian superstition and a mindset that says anything deemed “un-Christian” must be destroyed at all costs.
A new billboard just outside of Columbus, Ohio tells members of Dwell Community Church that it’s possible to escape the abusive Christian congregation. The sign reads, “Stuck in Dwell Community Church? There is hope.”
While the church denies any abuse, no doubt the claims of cult-like behavior by the escapees will sound all too familiar to people who have tried to leave their own evangelical subcultures.
The Mennonite Brethren Church hoped to celebrate women’s voices with a new compilation of essays written by its female leaders. One of those women, Mary Anne Isaak, reflected on her decades in the church and how her own views shifted over that time, including her beliefs about same-sex marriage, which she now believes is compatible with her faith.
The men running the denomination couldn’t handle that, though. They destroyed all copies of the book and reprinted it after removing three critical pages from her essay. And they didn’t have the courage to even say anything about it to Isaak or her editor.
Because celebrating women in conservative Christian circles means censoring their views if they may be controversial.
What do you do when the Constitution doesn’t provide a clear pathway to shoving Joe Biden out of office? For right-wing “prophet” Manuel Johnson, the answer is: Make something up. It’s not like his fans are ever going to fact-check him…Christian "prophet" Manuel Johnson says that if Joe Biden's approval rating dips below 20%, the Constitution says "Congress and military can step in and make decisions." None of that is true.
Johnson claimed that if Biden's approval rating dips below 20%, the Constitution says "Congress and military can step in and make decisions." None of that is true. But his co-host, “prophet” Julie Green, just nodded along and agreed with the lie.
Speaking of Christian Nationalists making things up to suit their agenda, hello pseudo-historian David Barton:
Also, is convicted felon/MAGA cultist Mike Flynn rounding up from 0%?
The Christian hate-group Family Research Council, which has long been a non-profit organization pushing a conservative agenda, is now technically a “church” in the eyes of the IRS, according to a new report from ProPublica. That designation allows it to shield information about donors, salaries, and more from the public eye.
Even more concerning? They’re hardly the first Christian Right group to do this. A bunch of conservative Christian groups have made the move to shield the public from details about how they operate. The real question is why the IRS is letting them get away with this obvious subversion.
While we’re at it, the IRS has two options: 1) Enforce its own rules. 2) Point us to where it says the rules don't apply to Christians.
Alaska could very well elect this woman to be its next U.S. senator:
Have you ever doubted your ability to make it as a songwriter? Just do what “prophet” Robin Bullock does and turn your sermon into a repetitious song.This sermon from Christian "prophet" Robin Bullock goes from weird to very, very weird around the 0:43 mark...
It’s still better than anything you’d hear on Christian radio.
Actress Sam Sorbo (wife of Kevin) wants schools to stop teaching science, apparently:
Good question, regarding a Liberty University football coach:
Answers in Genesis paid for a 5-minute segment on FOX & Friends, though you’d never know about the product placement if not for the tiniest of chyrons…
Do these people even listen to themselves?
If this is your mindset, you have no business running for Congress. Go launch your own church.
Rep. Lauren Boebert holds those views, AND is in Congress, AND wrongly thinks church/state separation forbids wearing a headscarf.Boebert: “If there really is this separation of church and state like they believe, then what is Ilhan doing with her hijab on? Why is she able to go in there with that?”
When Muslims in Congress force the rest of us to abide by their religious beliefs, we’ll talk about church/state separation. This, from Boebert, is just sheer stupidity.
How’s preacher Gene Kim doing these days, you ask? The same. Always the same.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, thinks marrying someone because it makes you happy is blasphemous.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Christian hate-preacher Steven Anderson says it's okay to call for the execution of gay people because he's never going to "have that kind of power"... at least not until "Christ returns in the Millennium." Therefore, calm down, "gaytheists and f*gnostics."Christian hate-preacher David Berzins wishes the government would execute gay people with a "bullet to the head," but he knows it won't happen anytime soon due to the "perverts and pedophiles in power."Christian hate-preacher Cameron Hall says gay people should be "shot in the back of the head. Or the front of the head. I don't really care. Multiple times in the head." He calls it an "evolution of stoning" since a bullet is just "a really fast lead rock."Christian hate-preacher Matthew Stucky teaches his son about Hell by showing him videos of volcanoes. "I can see the look of fear in my son's eyes."Christian hate-preacher Aaron Thompson can't believe people are upset about his colleague's pancake sermon... or that he said women who have abortions should be executed.Christian hate-preacher Jared Pozarnsky says wives must obey their husbands... even for the pettiest of reasons. #SheShouldMakePancakes https://t.co/5uyGvfhSE0Hemant Mehta @hemantmehtaChristian preacher Hank Kunneman, who refuses to concede that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, said last night that God would use whistleblowers to take down Democrats. "The true insurrectionists will be brought to justice."In a "prophetic release" today, Pastor Kent Christmas claimed a natural disaster would hit Disney World due to its "spirit of rebellion." No details. No timeline. Just a vague claim that he will inevitably apply to any weather-related incident that happens there in the future.Christian conspiracy theorist Johnny Enlow says we know how God feels about abortion because the Supreme Court overturned Roe on June 24, 2022. Therefore 666.During a speech last night at a Pentecostal "camp meeting" in Ohio, Rev. Mark Morgan implied the existence of transgender people was a threat to Christianity, but the Church would eventually win. "God never intended for us to have a transgender... in the Church."
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 10! Before they all start walking again, we have to take attendance. A lot of attendance. But don't worry, we get some music along the way!
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, some sobering words:
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 :)