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WEEK IN REVIEW: Greg Locke's Literal Witch Hunt
Arrests at a Christian school, Bill Donohue's salary, a lawsuit over in-school preaching, and more!
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As I mentioned before, OnlySky has launched! (You can read my articles right here.) OnlySky is an explicitly secular media outlet that goes far beyond blogs. You’ll find topical posts and longer reflections, sure, but you’ll also get podcasts, videos, news analysis, and more from a variety of progressive voices. Please check it out!
This is incredible to me: This week, two members of Congress (Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)) announced they’re joining the Congressional Freethought Caucus. That raises the number of caucus members to 16 people openly protecting church/state separation and defending atheists on Capitol Hill… and I don’t think I’ve heard a single peep in the news about it. I haven’t heard right-wing complaints, either. Amazing progress right there.
If you are one of the six “witches” who goes to Pastor Greg Locke’s circus tent church in Tennessee… who are you and what are you up to?
This clip went viral this week, leading to all kinds of predictions about how Locke must be trying to plant seeds of doubt in his congregation before one these “witches” accuse him of misbehavior.Earlier today, Pastor Greg Locke threatened to expose the six witches who are members of his church.
I have no reason to think that’s true, but a common theme of right wing rhetoric over the past several years is to accuse everyone else of the things you’re guilty of. Locke’s only rebuttal so far has been that two of the supposed witches are men.
It’s not that Locke is going to expose witches. It’s that he’s creating an environment where anyone could be declared a witch. And if you don’t want to become a target, the best path forward is to do anything and everything that Locke says, lest you become a target yourself.
By the way, Locke added in a follow-up sermon that he’s not trying to get in front of some kind of accusations against him, as some have alleged, because his wife is hot and they get it on.Greg Locke wants the media to know he's not threatening to expose six witches in order to get ahead of potential sexual assault allegations, as some have suggested. After all, his wife is a hottie and they have plenty of sex, thank you very much.Earlier today, Pastor Greg Locke threatened to expose the six witches who are members of his church. https://t.co/NSoTqQayQkHemant Mehta @hemantmehta
Locke knows my name, dammit. But still, this was amusing…
Locke wasn’t the only one going after witches. Perry Stone wanted to join in, too:
I’m still stunned by this story: A young man lost his fiancée in a car accident last year, and he’s been putting flower boxes on her gravesite ever since. Those boxes are not permitted by the city, but the city made it very clear they’re not going to punish him.
Last month, however, he was arrested at the cemetery for littering. The warrant was signed by the woman's father, a Baptist preacher and Roy Moore supporter. Why? We have no idea because he won’t explain himself.
For reasons that defy logic (and non-profit best practices), Bill Donohue of the Catholic League now makes over $1 million a year. Does he get paid by the decibel? It’s hard to imagine that money is earned, given that his group is mostly known for predictably angry press releases defending the Catholic Church no matter what.
Donohue claims it's because he'll be "retiring probably," and his board was rewarding him with a generous exit package, but experts say that wouldn't justify his last raise.
Five employees of Midland Christian School in Texas were arrested this week for allegedly trying to conceal news about a sexual assault that occurred on campus. A freshman baseball player was the victim of a brutal hazing and the five employees, from the baseball coach to the superintendent, never reported the assault to the police despite a law requiring them to do so.
What’s also troubling is that former students say none of this shocked them. They internalized this kind of behavior from adults at the school when they attended. At least those adults are finally facing consequences.
Speaking of unwarranted outrage, the one mom at One Million Moms is very angry at Zillow for featuring two women in an ad. What did they do that was so disgraceful? They were “playfully and lovingly stroking, caressing, and tickling each other's hands.” That’s it. That’s the supposed travesty that conservative Christians can’t handle.
I, for one, appreciate this Republican candidate’s honesty. For her, Jesus is #1, and babies are not quite as important as #2.
The good news: The percent of Americans who say they have “no doubts” about God’s existence is below 50%.
The bad news: Nearly half of all Americans are absolutely, positively 100% certain that God exists. At 100%, it’s no longer faith. It’s just indoctrination. (Remember that even Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, said he wasn’t 100% certain that there was no God and it’s absurd to say otherwise.)
Send this to your relatives:
Why do I do this to myself:
Earlier this month, teachers at West Virginia’s Huntington High School told students they had to attend an in-school assembly... that turned out to be a religious revival. That’s bad enough, but it’s even worse because this wasn’t the district's first time doing something like this.
Now, parents and one student (who led a walk-out protest!) have filed a federal lawsuit against the district over administrators’ complete apathy toward adult employees condoning or participating in Christian proselytizing.
Christian conspiracy theorist Bianca Gracia (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) says that if Christians don’t vote for her in a race for Texas State Senate, then they’ll have to answer to God: “… You will be held accountable because I have been appointed and assigned for this position and God is testing you all.”
It’s a hell of a campaign strategy, threatening voters with eternal hellfire for voting against them. But given the GOP base, it’s not a particularly bad strategy either...
Last week, I posted a clip of New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher Danil Kutsar talking about how gay people deserve to die. Just vile, awful stuff from a pulpit.
But here’s where things took a rather strange twist: After I shared that clip, Kutsar became aware of it… and delivered another sermon in which he (1) doubled-down on his hate-speech, (2) claimed that the world was on his side based on how many people responded to the tweet, and (3) vigorously denied being gay himself.Baptist preacher Danil Kutsar became aware of the vile sermon clip I shared earlier... so he doubled down on his statement calling for the death of gay people. He also thinks most of you agree with him.On Sunday, Baptist preacher Danil Kutsar was telling his congregation that he hates gay people... when he went on a quick tangent to remind them that he really, really hates gay people. Just vile stuff... https://t.co/swLIGnONemHemant Mehta @hemantmehta
All of this got even worse elsewhere in the sermon when he actively celebrated the deaths of gay people:
As soon as this series airs, I want you all to inject it directly into my veins. It’s a close look at the ultimate Christian megachurch Hillsong… and all the scandals its leaders are currently embroiled in.
Actor Kevin Sorbo, of God’s Not Dead, says he’s having trouble finding funding for all the movies he wants to make… and it’s all because he’s conservative and not because he’s a bad actor whose range is flatter than a pancake.Actor Kevin Sorbo says his production company has 30 movie scripts with crews and locations all lined up but can’t get people to finance any of them because he is a conservative.
For what it’s worth, there are plenty of conservatives in Hollywood. But unless a movie is profitable, it’s going to be tough to get something made. Sorbo’s admission suggests that even people who care more about money than politics don’t see any value in his ideas.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Australian preacher Kevin Sepulveda says it's cruel to make fun of people for things that are out of their control (like their accents). But there's one exception...
Here’s your weekly dose of Gene Kim:
I've been writing/speaking about atheism for a looooooong time. But a while back, I came across a YouTuber who went by Notes From Autumn. She was new to discussing atheism publicly, but she’s become very outspoken about the problems in our community and how we communicate. I spoke with her for a new OnlySky podcast called “Human Story.”
This is an excellent conversation between Jake the Atheist and Dee the Humanist about how to come out as an atheist (and the struggles that may come with it):
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Leviticus 16. The Bible is back to doing what it does best: making you feel guilty... about discharge. Which means you need to atone for everything!
On this week’s podcast, Jessica and I discussed many of the stories I mention in this newsletter!
Oh no. It’s the theological version of the “How to pronounce Gif” debate:
Finally, if someone made this movie, I would absolutely watch it:
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 :)