WEEK IN REVIEW: Britney Spears is an Atheist, Y'all
Secret baptisms, Purity Culture meets Bridgerton, the Catholic Church chooses dogma over decency, and more!
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Last week, I opened this newsletter with a story of Peter Schmidt, a Wisconsin Republican who appears to be a lock for a seat in the State Assembly in November’s elections.
Given his track record and public statements, he would undoubtedly be an anti-LGBTQ lawmaker… which is why it was news when I obtained incident reports from his local sheriff’s office detailing allegations of extortion in which Schmidt claimed a video of him and a male colleague hooking up was being used to blackmail him.
When I first posted that article, the reaction was fairly quiet. Many commenters pointed out the hypocrisy, but that’s about it. And then, over the weekend, some popular social media users posted about the story and the piece began making the rounds online.
Will the public awareness of Schmidt’s hypocrisy be enough to sink his campaign? I’m not sure. But local races always swing more easily than federal ones…
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue these efforts while working on articles and other projects.
Britney Spears is one of us now. In a now-deleted Instagram reel, the pop star who recently got out of her controversial conservatorship announced, “I’m an atheist, y’all.”
Spears is, by all measures, a decent person who has gone through hell and back over the years. If she’s an atheist, then I just hope it’s a choice she made after serious thought and not just because the religious people around her have screwed her over in so many ways.
As I wrote, though, her explanation for why she no longer believes in God plays right into those archaic stereotypes that atheists are born from tragedies, not thought.
You can bet we’ll hear plenty of sermons in the near future all about how God has a plan for everyone, even Britney Spears, no matter how bad things may seem!
James Theodore Highhouse, a former Army chaplain who later took a job at a federal prison, was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing female inmates. The length of his sentence was far more than federal sentencing guidelines suggested.
Why did a judge do more than what was necessary? It’s because of the nature of the crimes.
Highhouse used his status as a Man of God to coerce prisoners into having sex with him, even telling inmates not to report him because “no one will believe you because you’re an inmate, and I’m a chaplain.”
The “In God We Trust” saga in Texas schools continues. After a Republican bill requiring donated IGWT posters to be displayed in schools, we’ve already seen an atheist response with a version written in Arabic and other activists donate signs in rainbow colors.
Now a law firm says a Christian company’s posters don’t follow the law’s rules and must be taken down.
You know things are bad at a Christian school when parents are furious over baptisms.
Northwood Temple Academy, a private religious school in Fayetteville, North Carolina, baptized 100 students last week without telling parents what was happening. That meant they weren’t present to witness what they believe is a sacred rite of passage.
The Fayetteville Observer spoke to one mother who only found out what happened when she got a call from her daughter shortly after the event took place:
“My daughter calls me from the school and says, ‘Mama, can you bring me some dry clothes? I got baptized today.”
“I said, ‘WHAT?’”
The school’s administrator issued a half-hearted apology saying “the Spirit of the Lord moved and the invitation to accept the Lord and be baptized was given and the students just began to respond to the presence of the Lord”… as if the parents have nothing to be angry about. (Take it up with God!)
The whole thing seems like more of an omen. I doubt it’ll be the last time leaders at a religious school give absolutely no thought to what might be best for parents because they’re blinded by their own faith.
In perhaps the most clear-cut example of the Catholic Church choosing dogma over decency, the Archdiocese of St. Louis told leaders at all its Catholic schools to start charging kids for food rather than participate in the government’s National School Lunch Program which provides free meals to children across the country.
The reason? If they continue using those government funds, they might have to follow the government’s rules prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and the Catholic Church believes perpetuating bigotry is more important than feeding kids.
The Post-Dispatch notes that the new rule could “potentially leave thousands of Catholic school children without access to the free meals they have had in previous years.” Just completely unnecessary cruelty in the name of religion.
In a lengthy interview with CNN Portugal, Pope Francis insisted, falsely, that he had a “zero tolerance” policy when it came to the sexual abuse of children.
Simply put, if you were designing a system to prevent and prosecute child sexual abuse, you would never craft the policies the Catholic Church has implemented. They don’t go far enough and bad behavior is still allowed to thrive.
The fact is: The pope doesn’t really care about sexual abuse. We know that because he refuses to take major steps to solve the problem, the steps experts say are necessary to seriously curb abuse. If he really cared, he’d be talking about suspending all who are accused of bad behavior, handing investigations over to independent (secular) authorities, paying victims what they’re owed, making all findings transparent, and changing “traditional” rules that have contributed to the problem.
A Texas judge ruled that free coverage of PrEP drugs to prevent HIV infections, as required by the Affordable Care Act, is unconstitutional because it violates the religious freedom of Christian-owned companies.
If the ruling by Judge Reed O’Connor is upheld, it would be another victory for religious business owners who claim their faith requires them to make other people suffer if those people might be gay.
As expected, the lawsuit made false claims about the drugs themselves, saying they “encourage homosexual behavior and intravenous drug use.” Another plaintiff said PrEP drugs “facilitate behaviors such as homosexual sodomy, prostitution, and intravenous drug use.” Those claims are nothing but lies. But because religious beliefs must be respected regardless of truth, the lawsuit was successful.
Because of Christian bigotry, the ability for Americans to receive cancer screenings and diabetes medication is now also in jeopardy.
A viral video this week showed South Carolina State Sen. Katrina Shealy calling out the cruelty of her male Republican colleagues for removing exceptions for rape and incest in their near-total abortion ban.
If you want to believe that God is wanting you to push a bill through with no exception, that kills mothers and ruins the lives of children, lets mothers bring home babies to bury them, then I think you’re miscommunicating with God. Or maybe you’re just not communicating with Him at all…
It was a powerful speech. But it would have been a hell of a lot more powerful if Katrina Shealy hadn’t passed a cruel near-total abortion ban of her own.
In 2021, she co-sponsored her own bill to ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. SHE CO-SPONSORED IT! That bill was signed into law last year.
Because of the lack of rape/incest exceptions, the current abortion ban failed on Thursday. But “victory” in this case —a ban with the exceptions — would still be horrifically cruel.
It’s bad enough that Purity Culture tells young evangelical Christians to avoid sex (as if that’s possible)… but when it seeps into your MARRIAGE, you know you’ve got problems.
It’s not just them, though. During a recent “deliverance” conference hosted by Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke, a couple of guest speakers made bizarre claims about masturbation, including the idea that anyone you fantasize about will become real and that the demon of adult content needs to be fed “every single three weeks.”
Kim Daniels is returning to the Florida House after her sole remaining opponent dropped out of the race. But before you get excited about a Democrat getting a guaranteed seat in the state legislature, you might want to take a look at Daniels’ bizarre and harmful history.
Among other things, Daniels has ranted against witches, pushed for “In God We Trust” signs to be placed in public schools in response to a school shooting, thanked God for slavery because “If it wasn’t for slavery I might be somewhere in Africa worshipping a tree,” claimed to cure someone’s cancer with a CD of Bible verses, tried to force schools to offer Bible classes, claimed dolls could be possessed by demons, and skipped the first day of the legislative session in 2019 to tape a segment for Pat Robertson‘s The 700 Club.
Even before getting elected to the State House, she opposed an LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinance while sitting on the Jacksonville City Council.
It’s no wonder she received money from a political action committee aligned with GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Do you want to live in a nation where Christians are in the minority?
Atheists overwhelmingly (and not surprisingly) don’t mind this… and we’re more united on this question than in rejecting the existence of the supernatural.
While we’re on the topic of Ryan Burge’s excellent charts, atheists are more likely than other groups to give money to political campaigns. (It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have to tithe!)
Hey, look! Some good religion news! (Just not in the U.S.)
How is this still a talking point among the Religious Right?
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, says women don’t need to work. They can just run their own daycares. This implies it’s not work and that training isn’t necessary... all of which sounds very, very bad.
Also, if you’re recommending home-schooling, maybe don’t misspell “tutor.”
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 18: God needs to work quickly if He wants to get money out of His people. So this chapter is all about tithing.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, a big thanks to the FOX propaganda outlet for admitting church/state separation is an “accomplishment”…
But don’t ignore how they’re downplaying slave ownership on the left side of that chart. As if that’s just some “gotcha” that liberals love to trot out against the Founders…
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