WEEK IN REVIEW: Can Idaho's "Faith-Healing" Laws Be Fixed?
Prison baptisms, a megachurch that keeps digging its own grave, giant phallic energy in Fort Lauderdale, and more!
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Idaho is one of only six states where belief in “faith-healing” can help you escape charges of negligent homicide, manslaughter, or capital murder. So if a child dies because her Christian Science parents refused to take her to a doctor, those parents won’t be punished.
So far, state legislators have refused to pass a law removing any and all faith-healing exemptions. But after the recent elections, a third of the legislature is brand new and may have less allegiance to the argument that “religious freedom” overrides basic medical needs.
I recently spoke with Geoff Schroeder, one of those new lawmakers (and the openly atheist Republican legislator in the country). He told me he “would support repeal or amendment” of that exemption, which is wonderful news. The question now is whether enough of his colleagues have the guts to join him. The faster they can do something, the more lives they can save.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue stories like these.
I was also first to report this week that lawmakers in Mississippi are proposing a bill that would reinstate prayer in schools if the Supreme Court were to overturn a 1962 decision banning such an act. It’s essentially a “trigger law” meant to go into effect as soon as the conservative justices do away with that vital brick in the wall between church and state.
Even more shocking? The bill is sponsored by a Democrat and has the support of several Democratic colleagues.
Iowa Republicans are working on a bill to funnel hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools, which is really a sneaky way to move money from public schools to religious schools.
During a public hearing this week, atheist Joe Stutler told lawmakers that, if they pass the bill, he’ll open “Little Devils Academy” (tag line: “Bite The Apple”) in order to spread the Gospel of Satan to little kids.
Will that ploy work? I don’t know. But I hope it gets some lawmakers to realize their actions would have consequences they may not have considered
The ARISE Church in New Zealand, after an independent review of abuse and misconduct, is refusing to pay the legal bills of the person they hired to conduct the independent review of abuse and misconduct… even though her legal problems were a direct result of the investigation.
Charlotte Cummings, the counselor who conducted that investigation, was hoping to let her report speak for itself. But after the financial shenanigans by the church, she’s finally speaking out.
The Decatur County Sheriff’s Department in Greensburg, Indiana has been pushing Christianity on inmates in the county jail. We know this because… they openly brag about it on Facebook.
In a series of posts, the sheriff celebrated baptizing “nearly 40 men and women” during a December event while noting that they’ve converted “nearly 300” people over the past four years.
Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation is demanding they put a stop to it.
Why did the taxpayer-funded Weatherford College, a community college in Texas, donate 39 acres of land, six buildings, and a “large parking lot” to a private Christian institution? That’s the question the Freedom From Religion Foundation wants to know because they believe that transfer is unconstitutional.
Here’s the kicker: After FFRF made a public records request about the transfer, the school ran to Attorney General Ken Paxton (a Christian Nationalist) to see if they could be shielded from providing all the requested information. That’s not an admission of guilt, but it’s horrible optics.
An update to an older story: After an art history professor was fired for showing students classical paintings of Muhammad (with ample warning), she has sued Hamline University, and the school has walked back its claims that her actions were “Islamophobic.”
Months after Fort Lauderdale, Florida hosted a Christmas tree lighting ceremony as well as a Menorah Lighting Celebration, atheist activist Chaz Stevens has made his own request in honor of the Shinto “Festival of the Steel Phallus”:
He also told city officials that proceeds from the event would be “donated towards [AIDS] research as well as LGBTQIA+ awareness — elevating both artistry and philanthropic causes in tandem!” He also plans to hire a cop to protect his crown jewels.
Is he trolling them? Undoubtedly.
Should he be permitted to move forward (even with a fence around the sculpture)? The city needs to have a very good reason to say no if they want to avoid any lawsuits.
Last month, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin died at the age of 99. He may be best known for writing a decision in 2002 upholding a lower court’s ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because it pressured kids to say they believed we were a nation “under God.” (He was right.)
The Supreme Court later overturned that decision on a technicality, but Goodwin’s willingness to do the right thing in the face of immense pushback deserves a lot of credit.
No show is safe from the one mom at One Million Moms:
It’s embarrassing that any Democrat would willingly participate in the Christian Nationalist “Day of Prayer” event, but some senators and White House officials still do it for the optics. Now several church/state separation groups are urging them to come to their senses:
Ooof: Look at this discrepancy…
Don’t overlook the fact that, with some exceptions, the red dots (Republicans) really go one way or the other while the blue ones (Democrats) hover much closer to the center.
For paid subscribers: Attendance at Ark Encounter fell (again) this past December. The attraction continues to be a drag compared to how successful Creationists claimed it would be when they opened.
I’ll have more on this over the weekend, but 13 clergy members have filed a lawsuit "challenging Missouri’s abortion bans and several related abortion restrictions." They say it's an imposition of "one narrow religious doctrine on all Missouri residents."
At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, this looks a lot more like graffiti religious people would use to role-play as atheists rather than the work of atheists… but we’ll see. It’s troubling either way.
When you’re a progressive lawmaker in the minority, you have to know what tools you have to prevent or delay acts of right-wing extremism. Lucky for all of us, Nebraska State Sen. Megan Hunt is very well versed in those procedural rules.
She knows all amendments must be debated, so she’s packing an anti-abortion bill full of any amendments she can think of, including one to nullify the bill altogether.
A reminder that conservative Christians were primarily defined by their racism before they decided to make abortion their pet cause:
This kind of “religious freedom” proclamation is appreciated:
No one asked the Catholic League to chime in but the bigots can’t help themselves:
This week in red-pilled atheists:
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, wants to make your life miserable:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Deuteronomy 1. This is not a continuation of the Israelites' journey. So... what is it? Does anyone even know what a Deuter is? Maybe we'll find out.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, this is not a good thing:
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