WEEK IN REVIEW: Christian homework in a bathtub
When to ignore God's advice, a public school field trip to a church, a bizarre controversy involving Tennessee’s license plates, and more!
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For the past few election cycles, with the help of the Center for Freethought Equality, I’ve been compiling a list of all the openly non-theistic candidates. I initially thought it would be a short list, but it keeps growing every cycle.
With this year’s primaries now over, I can say there are well over 100 openly non-theistic candidates running for state or federal office who will be on the ballot come November. They use a variety of non-religious labels. Some are first-time candidates. Many are running in states you might not expect.
Check out the full list here! (Below is a glimpse.)
The list of candidates includes 18 state senators, 92 state representatives, several people running for Congress, and (literally) 1 Republican.
How many of them will win their races? We’ll find out in about six weeks.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to work on things like this while writing articles and working on other projects.
For anyone interested, I will be speaking at the following places in the coming weeks. Tickets for the events are still available!
October 30: Houston Oasis (Houston, Texas)
In a remarkable new ad from Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker, the incumbent Democrat goes after his challenger, Republican Darren Bailey, for running a fundamentalist Christian school that lies to kids using textbooks from Bob Jones University Press.
For years, reporters and ex-Christians have sounded the alarm about the misinformation and bigotry in these kinds of books, but I can’t recall ever seeing them used by a politician to go after an extremist candidate. It’s about damn time. And hats off to all the people who’ve been writing about these awful textbooks for so many years.
The full ad is no less powerful:
Someone who thinks BJU textbooks are valid has no business dictating what public education ought to look like. People who lie to children that easily can’t be trusted to look out for your kids’ best interests.
With early voting now underway in Illinois, let’s hope voters are equally appalled by Bailey’s fundamentalism.
This is late-breaking news: On Thursday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of Wayne Mack, a Texas Justice of the Peace who opens each courtroom session with coercive Christian prayers, reversing an earlier decision against him.
It’s the latest example of a conservative court further eroding church/state separation in favor of performative Christianity.
Even the dissenting judge couldn’t believe his colleagues ignored the coercive element of the prayers, writing (emphasis his) “For the majority to find that there is no evidence of coercion, suggests, in my opinion, willful blindness and indisputable error.”
The next question is what the Freedom From Religion Foundation will do. Challenge the decision or take the loss.
Thousands of high school seniors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana believed they were taking a field trip to a “College & Career Fair,” but they were actually transported to a massive church service called “Day of Hope.”
All the warning signs were there, but because the students and their families trusted school administrators, or at least figured they could get free food and a day out of class, they ended up wasting their time listening to Christian propaganda instead of learning more about their futures.
It wasn’t just unethical. It was illegal. And there’s video and pictures to back it up.
Americans United and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have each sent letters to the parish demanding an end to this program.
Do the license plates in Tennessee allow cops to determine which drivers are atheists?
That rumor has been floating around for months, and it has some validity to it, but the full story makes the whole situation seem far less conspiratorial.
The short answer? There’s no reason to think the license plate numbering system is being used for nefarious reasons. Until I hear evidence to the contrary, this is all smoke but no fire.
Keep an eye on this one: Atheist activist Chaz Stevens says he's submitted formal requests to ban the Old Testament and Book of Mormon from Florida's Broward County Public Schools as a way to counter the Republican Party’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-sex book bans.
In early August, Indiana’s Republican Governor Eric Holcomb signed an extreme abortion ban into law. Instead of the 22-week ban previously in place, the new law would prohibit the procedure with very few exceptions. The law went into effect on September 15.
In a lawsuit filed this week against Holcomb and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, The Satanic Temple says they represent a number of women who wish to remain anonymous and who believe having an abortion is consistent with their religious views.
Stopping them from exercising that option, then, violates their First Amendment rights.
Will the lawsuit work? I’m doubtful, but the arguments made in the lawsuit are unique, different from what they’ve put forth before, and interesting to consider.
Actor Kevin Sorbo of God’s Not Dead and Hercules can’t accept that he’s a bad actor with no good ideas. Much easier to whine about victimhood all day long.
Jihad Rehab, a new documentary focusing on Islamic extremism, is getting attention and criticism after its recent premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but some of the most defensive reactions are coming from prominent atheists who refuse to dig into the nuance.
In short, those atheists and some media outlets are acting like the big controversy centers around “identity politics” with a white filmmaker.
They’re wrong. The biggest concerns have to do with the process, the lack of context, the security risks created for the subjects of the film, and how the movie adds to anti-Muslim sentiment.
And yet the people who claim to be experts in critical thinking are tweeting idiotic things like this:
If your child’s teacher tells her to send a picture while reading in the bathtub, the proper response is, “Wait, what? NO! Why would you even ask for that?!”
And yet when two parents did exactly that, the end result was that their 8-year-old daughter was kicked out of Victory Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida.
It would have been so easy to take care of this problem by apologizing and clarifying the assignment, but the school’s reaction was to double down until the media attention made that impossible, then they took their wrath out on the family, leaving them scrambling to find a new school and forcing the child to make new friends after the school year has already begun.
The family is worse off because they enrolled their kid in a Christian school.
Give it up for this man, the hero we all need right now:
Yikes. This clip shows Christian preacher Mike Winger saying you should kill someone if God tells you to… (but He probably won’t so, you know, relax).
I’ll have more about this on the website over the weekend.
Joseph Kennedy said he was fired as a Bremerton High School football coach for his "quiet" Christian prayers at midfield after games.
He wasn't fired. The prayers weren't quiet. But he still won.
So why isn't Kennedy back in his old job? This video goes through the recent deveopments:
Who says comics aren’t educational?
Three years ago, constitutional attorney Andrew Seidel wrote about the threat of Christian nationalism in his book The Founding Myth, arguing that we were never a “Christian Nation” in any real sense of that phrase.
His latest focus is the Supreme Court, where a right-wing majority has enforced conservative Christianity at the expense of church/state separation.
In American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom, Seidel takes a look at some of the most consequential church/state decisions this particular Court has made and how they affect us today. (An excerpt from the book is up at OnlySky.)
The Pew Research Center recently projected that, if current trends continue, Christians will be in the minority within 50 years (and probably sooner). By 2070, they said, “Nones” may represent 48% of the population.
Two Christian nationalists discussed those Pew findings over the weekend. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (a Christian hate-group), asked Ronnie Floyd, a former executive with the Southern Baptist Convention, what he made of those results.
Floyd’s response? The solution to the shift away from organized religion is… more God. He was also shocked that so many Americans were comfortable being openly non-religious.
The entire conversation is nothing more than banter between two ignorant men who have helped inadvertently lead the exodus away from Christianity.
They see themselves as the solutions because they fail to recognize that they are the problems.
Who could’ve seen this coming? (Answer: Everyone.)
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, continued her efforts to push women’s rights backwards.
I’m not done with her yet. After Lori released another tweet comparing “Feminists” to “Christians,” I wrote about her deranged values and why her list doesn’t even make sense on her own terms.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 21: The Israelites need to find a detour to get to the Promised Land. They will have to ask nicely for safe passage... or just destroy everyone in their way.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, a reminder for parents everywhere:
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