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WEEK IN REVIEW: Why are Democrats still participating in the National Prayer Breakfast?
The ghost of Todd Akin, the Satanic Bible, a literal book burning, 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!
In a move that’s both long overdue and shocking, the Norwegian government said it would no longer provide funding to the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the religious sect’s cult-like practices. Because the JWs pressure you to remain in their fold under threat of being shunned for life — a move that also applies to children who leave the faith and are cut off from their relatives — the government says the Witnesses are no longer eligible for a subsidy available to many other religious and philosophical groups.
A newly proposed bill in Oklahoma from State Senator Rob Standridge would punish any public school teacher who promotes any position “in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students.” If that sounds vague, that’s because it is. The bill would effectively allow religious fundamentalists to have veto power over the teaching of evolution, sex education, American history, and so much more. A teacher found guilty of offending religious sensibilities would have to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and risk getting fired.
Will the bill become a law? I have my doubts. But the purpose of this bill isn’t to get enacted. It’s arguably to scare decent educators away from the profession so that public schools suffer even more, because who in their right minds would ever put up with this shit? Ultimately, because of Republican lawmakers, Oklahoma students are the ones who will suffer the most.
Prominent Democrats, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Sen. Chris Coons participated in the National Prayer Breakfast, lending credibility to what has long been a right-wing evangelical event. Not attending might have become a bigger story for their critics, but still, supporters of church/state separation shouldn’t be anywhere near these events.
If you’re a Republican running for governor of Michigan, and you’re trying to get more name recognition before a competitive primary, the solution appears to be to out-extreme everyone else.
That’s what candidate Garrett Soldano did recently during an interview with a right-wing website when he said rape victims should be forced to give birth against their will. He encouraged them to be “heroic” and accept that “God put them in this moment.”
The entire statement is awful, but I was particularly incensed by his rationalization that victims “don’t know that little baby inside them may be the next president.” Guys like him never believe that the victim herself could’ve become a great president had she not been forced to deal with the burden of an unwanted pregnancy and the trauma of assault.
There was a time when a heart statement like that from a Christian Nationalist would’ve sunk his campaign. Unfortunately, I fear he’ll only get support from anti-abortion activists and MAGA cultists alike.
Secular Americans: We’re everywhere.
A woman in California was going through alcohol and drug addiction that was so all-consuming that she soon lost her job, her home, and her kids. But after reading a book and going through a recovery program, she’s getting back on her feet and is working to get her life back in order. It’s just an incredible story.
Mostly because, as Joshua Tehee explains in an article for the Fresno Bee, that book is the Satanic Bible and the woman got help from The Satanic Temple's Sober Faction program.
Through her recovery with Sober Faction she is no longer holding on to guilt or anger and has been able to take accountability for her past choices. And she’s gained back some of what she lost.
Hahn was told just last week that she could retain parental rights of her children and while they are still under the guardianship of their grandparents, she has the chance to eventually get them back.
She would not have that chance if it wasn’t for the support she found through the Satanic Temple and Sober Faction, she says.
“That was the missing piece I needed in my recovery.”
I will never understand the victim mentality of Christian Nationalists who have more political power than arguably any other group."Why are we allowing our country to be ruled by atheists, Satanists, and pagans?" asks Gab founder Andrew Torba. "This is a Christian nation."
Okay, then. Let's swap. Conservative Christians can have all the positions of political power held by atheists, Satanists, and Pagans. We get all of theirs.
Michael Peroutka, a secessionist and Creationist who once gave a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to the Creation Museum, is running for Attorney General in Maryland. And since GOP primaries are just races to the bottom these days, we can’t count out his candidacy.
Fundamentalist Christian wife Lori Alexander promotes the idea that women ought to be subservient to their husbands. But this ethical dilemma she tried to answer took a turn I wasn’t expecting…
From this week’s New Yorker:
In 2019, the Democratic National Committee passed a symbolic resolution acknowledging the “value, ethical soundness, and importance” of non-religious people. It said Secular Americans should be "represented, included, and heard by the Party." That's it.
In the official 2020 platform, that language didn’t appear at all. It said "Religious freedom is a core American value and a core value of the Democratic Party." There was general support for church/state separation. None of that was shocking.
And yet conservative Christians continue spreading the lie that the Democratic Party is somehow anti-religious, which has no basis in reality but plays right into the GOP's hands. Just look at what preacher Brenda Kunneman told her congregation this week:
Christian preacher Greg Locke planned a massive “burning service” this week to destroy Harry Potter books, Ouija boards, and the like. As if the people calling for book-burning have ever been the good guys in history.Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke is planning a "burning service" on Wednesday night. Targets include Ouija boards ("a portal to Hell"), tarot cards, and Harry Potter books ("full-blown witchcraft").
It’s not his first time burning a book he didn’t like (and didn’t read). When the actual event came around, there was indeed a bonfire:
How many pastors have the guts to call out this behavior and rhetoric from their pulpits and say that MAGA cultists aren’t welcome in their congregations?
Citipointe Christian College (a K-12 school in Australia) revised their contract last week to be explicitly anti-LGBTQ. Parents had to agree to it or their kids couldn’t attend.
There was a huge backlash, though. The public outrage was enormous and some parents were already pulling their kids out of the school. A lot of former students even said the school was always this awful even if their contract didn’t spell it out in writing.
And within days of that public backlash, the school announced it would withdraw the contract and go back to the drawing board. The critics were winners.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:During a sermon about why you shouldn't get divorced, Christian preacher Jonathan Shelley told his congregation that he knew someone who was married to a "Christ-rejecting, God-hating Jew"... only to break up and get remarried to a pedophile. "It could be worse!" he concluded.I am convinced fundamentalist Baptist preachers have no clue what life is like outside their bubbles.Desperate for a new reason to hate Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Christian "prophet" Robin Bullock said today that he has PROOF they're demonic. Wait for it...This is a Christian conspiracy theory I've never heard before: Satan created a "fake" Saturn. Christian "prophetess" Kat Kerr talked about it after explaining how Heaven is full of angels who want to hear about your journey there.New IFB preacher Steven Anderson says all gay people "got molested" as kids... before comparing them to serial killers. Just vile stuff. Nasty language. (I know the audio and video don't sync up at times. That's not me. That's all in the original video.)Preacher Grayson Fritts condemns missionaries who do good works but don't prioritize conversions. "This fresh well-water... that's not gonna help folks in Hell, is it?"Baptist preacher Tyler Baker says "jealousy" involves things that you "own." Things that are "rightfully" yours. Like your wife.Kat Kerr and Steve Shultz, two of the most gullible Christians out there, spent a chunk of today's show mocking Flat Earthers. So at least we have that in common.These preachers all insist that God miraculously filled up a bottle of anointing oil. For some reason, no one does a demonstration while the camera is rolling.Preacher Christy Hair is just casually dismissing COVID vaccines tonight in the name of Jesus. "His blood wasn't good enough for you? No wonder you don't have a breakthrough... Oops, I said it."For conservative Christians, the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is just the beginning. They want to destroy marriages too. (Lower the volume, for your own sake.)
This delightful display may go up in the Florida State Capitol... if it gets approved. Ron DeSantis would love it.
Enjoy this palate cleanser: Samantha Bee spoke with three liberal religious leaders to find out what their faiths say about abortion. As they point out, the anti-abortion rhetoric is much more of a conservative phenomenon than a literally religious one.
David Brooks of the New York Times also has this lengthy piece about evangelicals who feel their world has been turned upside down because many of their closest religious colleagues have become MAGA cultists. (I may write more about this later…)
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Leviticus 14, a chapter about how to cleanse yourself of leprosy and mold. And clean the leprosy in your home.
On this week’s podcast, I spoke with Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of the New York Times bestseller Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. The book attempts to explain why white evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, despite all the non-Trumpy values they claimed to hold dear before he came along, by looking at the history of evangelical culture.
Finally, in a brilliant bit from The Good Liars, it turns out Christians want to ban books in school that include sodomy and incest… until they realize which book is actually being discussed.
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 :)