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WEEK IN REVIEW: The Church Scandals Got Even Wilder
These scandals have EVERYTHING: Affairs, a secret video, the FBI, and more!
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Just a reminder that I’m currently on a brief hiatus from posting regularly and I’ll be back writing at a website called OnlySky in early January. You can read more about my decision 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.
While the site isn’t live just yet, you can be updated ASAP when it goes live.
Churches emerge and die all the time, but rarely do you see a church expand so quickly… only to implode even faster.
At Venue Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Pastor Tavner Smith is currently caught in a scandal that involves an affair, a secret video, spiritual and physical abuse, and allegations of bad Christianity. And that’s just the beginning of it.
It’s so bad that eight staffers and volunteers quit last week after confronting him about his behavior. But until the congregation breaks out of their spell and walks out, I have to believe nothing will really change.
You know what’s better than watching a Christian Christmas movie? Watching a sarcastic-yet-thorough review of a Christian Christmas movie.
Here’s Andrew Miller with a beautiful dissection of “Christmas with a Capital C.”
Pastors: You really don’t have to do this…
An article by columnist Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post talked about how the conservative Christian movement has effectively been co-opted by Donald Trump, especially on matters like immigration. But in justifying that idea, Rubin wrote about how data “goes a long way toward explaining the MAGA crowd’s very unreligious cruelty toward immigrants.”
Notice how she used “unreligious” as a synonym for cruel. That’s just straight-up bigotry and an example of unearned religious privilege. I explained that thought in more depth here.
Am I saying Rubin purposely tried to target atheists with her language? No. But that right there is the problem. I don’t think it ever crossed her mind that anti-atheist language would be problematic at all. It’s something she just wrote reflexively. That’s what needs to stop.
Speaking of which, if only everyone shared “unreligious” views about immigrants…Thrilled to see atheists at the very bottom of this list.60% of Southern Baptists want to cut *legal* immigration to the US in half over the next decade. But, even lots of mainline Protestants want less immigration. Like, United Methodists - the largest mainline denomination by a long shot. 44% of the ELCA want less immigration, too https://t.co/fyY9FIFhP4Ryan Burge 📊 @ryanburge
For evangelist Tony Suarez, having to show you're vaccinated before flying is why preachers should buy their own private jets.
When a conservative religious leader adopts 70 children, that should raise eyebrows before it ever warms your heart.
Nikolai Stremsky, a former rector at the Holy Trinity Convent of Mercy in Saraktash — part of the Urals in Russia — was found guilty of “raping an underage girl,” sexually abusing two or more other girls, and “dereliction of duty” in raising his kids. Given his older age, whatever it is, the odds are he’ll die in prison.
Ah, yes, and that’s why Jesus lived to the ripe old age of…
I watch New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist sermons so you don’t have to. Now my brain is broken:See if you can guess the sermon's theme given just the closing prayer from Brother Brandon Darnell of Pure Words Baptist Church.Brother Brandon Darnell of Pure Words Baptist Church in Houston, Texas has some advice for fathers everywhere.Brother Jason Graber of Sure Foundation Baptist Church in Spokane finds Christian persecution EVERYWHERE. Including math.
Short clapbacks are the best clapbacks.
I spoke with the guys at the “This Is Not Church Podcast” about the hypocrisy of faith.
Skip church. Save the country.
Creationist Ken Ham wants you to believe he’s on the side of science, and that science points in the direction of a Young Earth. But he’s very clearly anti-knowledge no matter how much he claims otherwise.
Every time right-wing pastor Perry Stone is in the news, it seems, it’s because he’s either embarrassed himself or been accused of sexual misconduct.
Here’s what I mean: In 2019, he went viral for all the wrong reasons when he was caught checking his phone while speaking in tongues:
But this past week, we learned that the FBI may be involved in an investigation over sexual misconduct allegations. Why the FBI? Because there’s reason to believe his close ties to local law enforcement officials in Cleveland, Tennessee have prevented them from taking more serious actions.
Obviously, allegations are not synonymous with guilt. But Stone’s history of bad behavior isn’t helping his case.
Someone please help me understand Christian “prophetess” Kat Kerr:Christian "prophetess" Kat Kerr says families in Heaven visit "Christmastown," where they give presents to Jesus, and tree lights are ACTUAL STARS, and Jesus and St. Nick are best buds. Also, some folks live there in their mansions. "I can't wait," responds host Kelsey O'Malley.
She also seems to confuse Heaven with Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory:
The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina promotes Christianity and here’s Exhibit A:
While Sheriff Jody Greene insists this is harmless, the message is clear: Non-Christians will not get a fair hearing from anyone who works here. This is a Christian facility through and through.
Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation is warning them to remove the ads for Jesus from their taxpayer-funded facility. Greene is refusing to do it. The only question now is whether FFRF will file a lawsuit.
You are allowed to tune out any Christian who says atheists secretly hate God.
Pastor Kent Christmas never preaches this message while standing in a pediatric oncology ward.
If a 221-year-old church closes down, but no one is around to see it, did it really even shut down? (That made more sense in my head.)
The First Presbyterian Church of Bellefonte, in Pennsylvania, just held its final service on Christmas Eve with a couple dozen people in attendance. But despite its longevity, it no longer fits in the local religious landscape.
I wrote about why they died out and what it says about the future of organized religion in America. I think, for me, what stood out was how one long-time member, 77-year-old Pam Benson, described why she attended:
“It was so different. It was just what you did. Unless you were really sick, it was just what you did,” Benson said. “It’s just change, it’s progression. It’s what happens. Not that I like it, but it is what it is.”
She proved a key point about why religious institutions are losing members: What keeps so many people in the pews is tradition, not some deep desire to hear the words of Jesus for the umpteenth time or because the church gives them some greater purpose. It’s just on the schedule. It’s something you do because your parents did it. You go because you think you’re supposed to, not because you necessarily want to. And when no one's forcing you to do it, you'll find better things to do with your time.
I think I’m now a biblical literalist…
No one ruins the True Meaning of Christmas like these preachers…
After spending months and months downplaying COVID and arguing against the need for vaccines, “The Transformed Wife” has some very unsurprising news:
FOX News ran a segment about a Satanic display in the Illinois Capitol. For some reason, they didn’t invite any Satanists involved to discuss it. They invited evangelist and hate-monger Franklin Graham instead.Conspicuously absent from this discussion about The Satanic Temple's display was any effort to speak to The Satanic Temple. Instead, spoke from (and to) ignorance to dictate to viewers what he prefers people believe our intentions to be.Thank you to @FoxNews @RaymondArroyo for having me on The @IngrahamAngle tonight. He asked me about a satanic display at the Illinois State Capitol & our work at @SamaritansPurse. You can watch our conversation here… https://t.co/6EZHUA146xFranklin Graham @Franklin_Graham
Our journey through the Bible is currently at Leviticus 9, with Aaron and his sons finally starting their ministry.
That’s it for this week! Have a wonderful new year! Let’s hope it makes up for the past two... or six. (But who’s counting?) Please become a full subscriber or share this with someone who may enjoy it. It would mean a lot to me :)