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WEEK IN REVIEW: The hate-preachers are getting nervous...
A loss for the Religious Right, changing an anti-Satanic dress code, the worst church service ever, and more!
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If any of you are looking for me, I currently live rent-free in the head of Christian hate-preacher Aaron Thompson. During last weekend’s "Red Hot Preaching Conference." Thompson spent roughly 20 minutes trashing me (yes, me, personally) for sharing clips of him and his New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist colleagues.
That would be a fairly long video (though anyone who wants to can watch it here), so I condensed it down to the highlights:
This guy has spent more time than I ever have thinking about my sexual orientation…
Needless to say, beyond the distractions and attempted insults, Thompson admits the clips are having an effect. They’ve led to YouTube banning certain New IFB channels, preventing their bigotry from reaching a wider audience. They’ve also created a PR nightmare for a group of preachers who have become synonymous with spreading hate — especially against LGBTQ people — even though they want to be known for spreading the Gospel.
Which means I’ll keep watching and sharing the clips.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue these efforts while working on articles and other projects.
Also, with this newsletter, I’m going to use a slightly different format that I hope allows better embedding/quote-usage/etc. Hope it helps (or at least doesn’t make anything worse)!
Democrats in the House have been passing a series of bills meant to protect Americans from the chaos of a right-wing Supreme Court, including protecting access to contraception and abortion rights. (Whether those bills overcome a Senate filibuster is another question.)
But I was shocked to see the votes on the “Respect for Marriage Act.” This bill, if it passes, would require all states to respect the marriage laws of other states just as they do with straight couples. So a gay couple married in New York would still be considered legally married in Alabama even if the Supreme Court overturned Obergefell, left marriage rules to the states, and a Republican legislature decided to ban same-sex marriage. )The same bill would also protect interracial marriage the same way.)
Not only did every Democrat in the House support this bill, they managed to peel off 47 Republican votes. There’s hope that at least 10 Republicans in the Senate will make the same decision.
But these numbers would have been unfathomable 25 years ago. Back then, every Republican and most Democrats in Congress opposed same-sex marriage. It took so many activists so many years to achieve this shift in the public understanding of the issue.
And where are we now? Same-sex marriage has become a wedge issue in the Republican Party. Incredible.
The Christian Right is furious over this supposed betrayal... which is strange on its own. Even as Christian Nationalism infects the highest echelons of politics, “traditional marriage” has become a lost cause for the Right.
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the sale of 43 Catholic Church-owned properties (with many more to come) in order to pay settlement claims for victims of child sex abuse. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for the Vatican, though, given how long they’ve dragged their feet over this matter…
Given that the Catholic Church in Canada has, historically, acted like it doesn’t have the money to pay for the damage its caused, this is also a firm reminder that the Church has more than enough wealth to pay its victims. If they have to give up their land and buildings to make amends, so be it. Anything less means valuing property over human lives.
The Hays USD 489 school district in Kansas has a dress code banning students from wearing clothes endorsing “Satanism.” But that may change after a parent, who happens to be a member of The Satanic Temple, urged the school board to revise the student handbook.
To their credit, the board took Mary Turner’s claims of religious discrimination seriously and vowed to reconsider the dress code at an upcoming meeting.
It’s exactly how these board meetings ought to work, and yet, it feels like a major victory.
Maryland’s next Attorney General could be an anti-abortion, pro-secession, Roy Moore-stanning, conspiracy-embracing Creationist who once donated a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to the Creation Museum. Michael Anthony Peroutka won his Republican primary this week, and if he wins in November, it would be an utter disaster.
When the fact that a major party candidate for statewide office is a Creationist appears to be the least of anyone’s worries, you know things are bad.
Dozens of lawsuits were recently filed against Miracle Meadows School, a Seventh-day Adventist-run alternative school in Salem, West Virginia that has become synonymous with abuse and neglect. It’s not even the first batch of lawsuits against the place.
In 2020, after a total of 29 former students made similar physical and sexual abuse allegations against founder Susan Gayle Clark and the school, the two sides reached a $52 million settlement. Clark “pleaded guilty to child neglect, failure to report and obstruction of justice, and received a six-month jail sentence along with five years of probation.”
So why these new cases? Because a recent change in state law allowed them to do it.
West Virginia lawmakers passed a law in 2020 extending the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. The previous law had only given victims until age 22 to file their claims. The new law gives them until age 36 or four years after the abuse is discovered (whichever is later).
In 2003, Frank Murray discovered illicit pictures on a Catholic priest's computer and reported it to Church leaders where he worked as a pastoral assistant.
A week after the pictures were discovered, the Diocese told parishioners that Father Darell Mitchell, who worked at Holy Family Catholic Church in Yakima, Washington, had suffered from a “nervous breakdown” and that’s why he couldn’t be their priest for the time being. That was obviously a lie—or, at the very least, not the entire story.
Over the next several years, Murray lost his job, Mitchel was shuffled between a number of Catholic churches, and even the Vatican reprimanded a bishop for his mishandling of the entire situation.
Over a week ago, I shared this clip of Pastor Joshua Feuerstein literally endorsing a candidate, congressional candidate Jerone Davison, from the pulpit.
Feuerstein knew this was controversial because endorsing a candidate should, theoretically, lead to the IRS revoking a church’s tax-exempt status. But because the IRS almost never acts on these cases, Feuerstein felt comfortable daring them to come after him.
Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation is putting some pressure on the government to do something. In a letter sent this week, FFRF says Feuerstein “knowingly and flippantly disregarded the law by endorsing Davison” and calls on the IRS to “ensure that the Redeemer Apostolic Church is no longer receiving the benefits of 501(c)(3) status and that donations made to the church are no longer treated as tax deductible.”
Last year, as COVID was still wreaking havoc across the country, public health inspectors in Alberta were tasked to make sure people were wearing masks and social distancing. Churches weren’t immune from the rules that applied to all gatherings.
But Pastor Tracy Fortin of Church in the Vine refused to allow those inspectors to come inside her building on multiple occasions. That’s illegal according to provincial law.
If this were the United States, there’s a good chance the story would end here. But in Alberta, there’s no religious exemption when it comes to jeopardizing the public’s health. So the Fortins were found guilty of violating the Public Health Act six separate times, and this week, a judge declared they’d have to pay $80,000 in fines. ($65,000 for the church and $15,000 for Tracy Fortin.)
I doubt any amount will actually deter the Fortins from thinking about anyone but themselves in the future. They’ve made it clear they’ll gleefully watch the world burn as long as they get to keep doing whatever they want. No amount of dead bodies and human suffering during the pandemic made them consider the consequences of their own actions last year, and there’s no reason to think they’ve developed any empathy since then.
No one was ever asking this church to stop holding services—or even gather in person. All they had to do was abide by the same rules as everyone else. They chose not to due to nothing more than their own Christian arrogance. It’s about damn time they paid a price for it.
Which people prioritize political cooperation (even with people you’re not fully aligned with) in order to achieve shared goals?
Sociologist Samuel Perry has the answer: Atheists believe shared goals are more important than our other differences… while white evangelicals lag far, far behind everyone else. (No surprise there.) To put that another way, the white evangelical purity test ruins everything for the rest of society.
Rapper Tyson James has released a series of songs to spread faith-based hate speech. In that way, he’s not that different from typical Christian hate-preachers. But unlike them, he’s still up on YouTube/Apple/Spotify, which means he’s making money off of his calls for violence because those services refuse to abide by their own terms and conditions. (UPDATE: The video has been removed on YouTube.)
Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison told a Pentecostal congregation on Sunday, "We trust in [God]. We don’t trust in governments."
That’s not a thing you ever want to hear from a former PM and tells you a lot about why he became so unpopular.
Take a look at how Richard Dawkins is perpetuating an anti-trans talking point:
Dawkins urges people to read an article by Jerry Coyne, who constantly promotes right-wing grifters.
Coyne links to an article by Jonathan Turley, a conspiracy theorist and election denier often seen on FOX News.
Turley points to right-wing websites that use anti-trans language to mock a legitimate concern raised by a handful of activists/academics.
It shouldn’t be a huge ask for Dawkins to apply the same principles of critical thinking on trans issues that he asks his readers to do with evolution.
What’s the worst church service you ever attended? Read the responses to this Tweet and weep…
Do you know how horrible you have to be for Piers Morgan to look like the voice of reason?! We have evangelist Franklin Graham to thank for that moment of lucidity after Morgan pointed out his anti-LGBTQ bigotry in the mildest of ways. He noted that Graham’s bigoted preaching was one reason religion was “going out of fashion with younger people.”
Graham’s response? A standard rehearsed recitation of how the Bible justifies his rhetoric. He has no clue how to communicate with people who don’t accept his favorite novel as fact.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, predicts teachers will leave the profession because they have to use correct pronouns for students… and not because of low pay, threats of violence, disrespectful students, helicopter parents, or any of the other actual reasons they want out.
Turns out she’s full of bad ideas when it comes to public education…
… and everything else, too:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:
Only 20% of Americans say the Bible is literally true—a record-low.
I would hold off on any celebration, though...
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 11! Have you ever been on a long road trip with your family and wanted to destroy everyone around you? Well, God actually goes through with it... and makes it rain quail.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, The Good Liars visited Ark Encounter. You’ll want to stick around for the interview and last line:
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 :)