WEEK IN REVIEW: America's future is a lot less Christian
A future Christian minority, educational malpractice in Hasidic schools, the wrong explanation for gun violence in schools, and more!
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Back in 2015, the Pew Research Center released a landmark study about the changing religious landscape in America, and there was one graph in particular I still think about to this day. I’ve even used it in presentations I’ve given to various groups over the years.
It involved religious “switching” and showed that people were leaving Catholicism, Mainline Protestantism, and Historically Black Protestantism at a much faster rate than they were entering. Similarly, people were “joining” the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated much more frequently than they were exiting. (Evangelical Protestants were growing, too, but at a much slower rate.)
The same 2014 Religious Landscape Study also found that 22.8% of Americans were Unaffiliated compared to 70.6% who were different varieties of Christian.
It raised a fairly straightforward question: If all those people were leaving Christianity, and many people were becoming non-religious, at what point would the “Unaffiliated” become the majority in the country?
This week, the Pew Research Center offered some potential answers to that question.
The bottom line? No matter what scenario they use, the future of Christianity looks grim while the Nones (not just atheists and agnostics, obviously) get closer to—or take over—the majority.
Why is this shift happening? Theories include a push for secularization, anti-women/anti-LGBTQ views held by conservative religious zealots, child sex abuse scandals, religious intermarriage, and the ability for religious doubters to find helpful resources and forums online for their new beliefs. You can read my writeup here.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue these efforts while working on articles and other projects.
For anyone interested, I will be speaking at the following places in the coming weeks. Tickets for the events are still available!
September 24-25: 3rd International Humanism Conference on Social Justice (Toronto, Ontario)
October 30: Houston Oasis (Houston, Texas)
No one asked for it, but it’s happening anyway: God’s Not Dead 5 (or, more accurately, God’s Not Dead: Rise Up) is coming to a TV or phone near you in 2023.
David A. R. White, the co-founder and managing partner of Christian film studio Pure Flix and the main character in the previous two films in the series, will once again star in this vanity project all about Christian Nationalism:
Here’s what to expect in “God’s Not Dead: Rise Up”: When a favored incumbent suddenly suspends his candidacy for Congress, an embittered but brilliant campaign strategist is lured out of retirement and convinces Reverend Dave Hill to run for office. The race pits them both against formidable opponents from their past, each with plans to inexorably remove religion’s influence on public policy. Set against a backdrop of unprecedented political, civil and spiritual unrest, Dave struggles to answer an increasingly relevant question of our time: Is God dead in American politics?
It takes serious chutzpah to question whether God is dead in politics when 99% of Republicans in Congress and 88% of Congress as a whole practice Christianity. That’s in addition to the ultra-conservative religious majority on the Supreme Court.
I still say it would be more entertaining and just as meaningful if they beat a dead horse on camera for two hours.
If your response to the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse scandal is to claim the victims were tweens, not toddlers, you know you’ve lost the battle… but that’s what the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue did this week, trying to condemn Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro by saying his earlier prosecution of the Church (as attorney general) was unnecessary because the victims “were adolescents, not children.”
Years ago, when he echoed these sentiments, he dismissed many of the allegations, saying they weren’t serious because “most of the alleged victims were not raped: they were groped or otherwise abused, but not penetrated.” As if priests groping children was nothing more than innocent horseplay.
The owners of two Christian facilities assured parents their troublesome teenagers would receive a much-needed, faith-based rehabilitation if they simply handed over custody and paid a hefty fee. Instead of making things better, though, the Christian ranches became a hotbed of physical and emotional abuse that left the kids far worse off than when they entered.
Now the former residents of Trinity Teen Solutions and Triangle Cross Ranch in Wyoming, which housed girls and boys, respectively, are speaking out against the treatment they received at the hands of the Christian family behind both facilities after state officials declined to take their complaints seriously.
Decades after the “Satanic Panic” upended people’s lives with baseless accusations of ritualistic child abuse, it’s back with a political tinge. NBC News points out that more recent versions of right-wing, religious conspiracy theories are taking pages from the Satanic Panic handbook.
You should really read the article just for the jolt it’ll give you when you see example after example of Satanic references by Republican politicians.
You know things are bad when a teacher at Point of Grace Christian School in Florida gets arrested for sexually inappropriate behavior with a child... and you have to ask, “Wait, which incident are we talking about?”
Earlier this summer, Julie Kinsey Hoover, a high school math teacher at the Christian school, was arrested after a parent discovered sexually explicit text messages between Hoover and her son. Hoover was allegedly planning to have the student sneak into her home while her husband was at work. She was arrested, fined, and released on bond.
Now she’s been arrested again for after stories came out about how she offered a student alcohol at Prom, pressured him to take a sip from her drink, and twerked on a student in front of witnesses.
Other than that, the Purity Culture routine seems to be going well.
On a recent broadcast of the show FlashPoint, televangelist Kenneth Copeland told host Greg Stephens that the school shootings that occur in the United States can be blamed entirely on the 1963 Supreme Court decision that removed mandatory Christian prayer from public schools.
Prefer a video instead? No problem. Here you go!
For several years now, it’s been an open secret that the religious schools for Hasidic Jews in New York City have deprived students of a quality education. Because of their religious nature, there was also little to no oversight of the curriculum. Boys were expected to become rabbis, so their classes involved a heavy dose of religious indoctrination at the expense of all other classes. Girls received a slightly more well-rounded education, but it was hardly any better.
The only way that sort of training prepares you for the future is if you actually become a rabbi… something that only occurs for about 5% of those boys. The rest? They’re left with no useful knowledge that can set them up for success down the road. That also means they’re effectively locked into their religious bubble for life because stepping outside of it would leave them without most of the requisite skills to make it in the “real world.”
On Sunday, the New York Times‘ Eliza Shapiro and Brian M. Rosenthal published a damning account (gift article) of how these private religious schools, “flush with public money,” have failed the students in their care. After a year of reporting and interviews with more than 275 people close to the conflict, their article reveals just how poorly students are taught in these religious schools.
One of the bombshells: These Hasidic boys’ schools have received over $1 billion in government funding over the past four years.
I summarized the major findings and offered some thoughts on the reporting.
Rapper Kanye West just opened his own private Christian school, where parents have to sign NDAs, and oh my god there’s no way this is going to end well.
This is interesting: Atheists United has launched a podcasting network.
“At Atheists United Studios, we plan to explore the unique questions, ethics, challenges, and aspirations of people trying to build a more secular and compassionate world.”
Ark Encounter's attendance numbers haven't improved from last year and they're a far cry from the same time in 2019. I put the details behind a paywall here.
Imagine how broken your brain has to be to take one of these "prophets" seriously.
I can think of maybe one person. But I'm not a Christian so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If a Democrat said anything like this about Joe Biden, conservative Christians would be furious. And yet…
These missionaries are pushing something that’s unreliable, benefits those near the top of the pyramid at the expense of others, and probably won’t be worth it in the long term.
And also crypto.
Is this satire? Probably.
Is it hard to tell? Yes. Very much so.
Is this satire? Probably.
Is it hard to tell? Yes. Very much so.
Just gonna leave this here for anyone who needs to hear it this week:
southpaw @nycsouthpawFrom the Martha's Vineyard Times https://t.co/S8m46lL8KT https://t.co/I61bYH1lXS
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, must be trying to create atheists with her tweets:
Your guess is as good as mine:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 19: What do you do if you've touched a corpse? The answer involves sacrificing a red heifer.
I interviewed Andrew Seidel, author of the new book American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom, which is out next week. If you’re concerned about the director of the Supreme Court, you’ll appreciate a lot of what Andrew said!
Finally, this never works when I do it:
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