WEEK IN REVIEW: Herschel Walker's Abortion Hypocrisy
A new Secular Government Caucus, the worst Christian dad in America, churches using spyware, and more!
Thank you for checking out this newsletter! Thank you even more if you become a full subscriber! Consider giving someone a gift subscription! Think of your friends! (Or your enemies.)
In a story I was able to break this week, a “Secular Government Caucus” is coming to the Minnesota state legislature, thanks to four lawmakers who want to protect church/state separation and push back against the forces of Christian Nationalism.
I had the chance to chat with three of them over the past couple of weeks, along with the grassroots atheist/Humanist organizers who led the way in helping the lawmakers feel comfortable launching such a potentially controversial group. It was a thrill talking to lawmakers who were genuinely interested in using the power of government to protect the rights of everyone instead of granting special privileges to Christian Nationalists.
Minor scoop: Two of those lawmakers even came out to me as non-theistic during our conversations, a fact they gave me permission to share.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to spend time working on important pieces like this one.
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)
On Monday night, The Daily Beast published evidence that Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a “proud pro-life Christian,” had literally written a check to a woman he impregnated so she could have an abortion. That happened months after he had an out-of-wedlock child with another woman—a detail that the woman who obtained the abortion did not know. Which means Walker now has four children with four different mothers in addition to what conservative Christians would call a fifth child that he helped murder. And those are just the children we know about.
On Tuesday night, we also learned that the woman in question… also gave birth to one of his kids. Which means he lied when he said he didn’t know her.
Unfortunately, none of this will affect Walker’s standing among conservative Christians.
They don’t care because honesty doesn’t matter to them. They’re conservative Christians. They’re addicted to power, not decency. They would rather elect a Republican buffoon who continues to embarrass himself than get behind a liberal pastor who is inspired by his Christian faith to fight for civil rights. That’s how much white evangelicals are scraping the bottom of the barrel right now.
Just gonna leave this here, by the way:
How do you know when all your so-called friends have abandoned you? Nobody warns you against talking to a local news team about your insane Facebook post that says Hocus Pocus 2 is a harbinger of evil.
Texas mother Jamie Gooch wrote that the kid-friendly sequel (which she has not seen) was “based on harvesting the purity of children’s souls so that witches may live on.” She also tossed in some old-school “Satanic Panic” lies.
And the local news team was there with a camera zoomed in on her face.
Sometimes, other people do my work for me, and I truly appreciate it.
If you’re going to try and convert students in a public school, why brag about your plans online?
According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Jenny Savoy, a reading enrichment teacher at Richards Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, has spent the past couple of months helping FFRF assemble all kinds of evidence to be used against her.
Maybe the weirdest exhibit? Her statement that God is the reason vending machines work and it helped bring one student closer to Jesus.
I took her to the faculty vending machine to get a snack. Every time she put the last two coins in, the machine would spit them back out. She much have tried 5 times. I tried 2 more. Then I put my hand on the machine and said, “Jesus, please make this machine accept our money.” She laughed, but I also saw curiosity on her face. I said, “I’m serious. He will do this just to show you He’s real. He cares about you.” After I prayed, she put the coins in, and guess what happened! I wish you could have seen her eyes! She was utterly amazed.
Sure, some kids may be suffering from bone cancer. But a vending machine not accepting quarters?! That’s the real travesty. Glad God has His priorities straight…
Matt Kennedy, rector of Church of the Good Shepherd (an Anglican church) in New York and father of six, recently revealed his best child-rearing advice in a Twitter thread.
Kennedy measures his success by the fact that “none of them are in jail.” If that’s a joke, so be it, but his advice is a perfect example of how parents can traumatize their children without realizing it. Here’s just the first of his rules…
I am told this is *huge* news in Australia: The newly appointed CEO of the Essendon Football Club, Andrew Thorburn, resigned less than 24 hours after taking on the new job due to widespread backlash over his other job: chairing a Christian church that promotes anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion views.
Those bigoted ideas stood in stark contrast to the more progressive values of the football club, and Thorburn couldn’t convince the public he had their best interests at heart.
Thorburn has every right to hold whatever views he wants. He doesn’t have a right to be rewarded for it or avoid the consequences of his church’s hate. He had every opportunity to set the record straight about his own beliefs regarding homosexuality and abortion rights if he disagreed with his church’s positions. His refusal to reject those stances made it clear he’s not truly bothered by them.
A new study from researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University finds that evangelicals who spoke with their pastors rather than health care professionals when it came to COVID were less likely to get vaccinated, adding yet another piece of evidence to what we already suspected: white evangelical leaders who treat vaccines like some kind of liberal conspiracy theory are leading their congregations off a cliff.
There will be other pandemics in the future. Vaccine hesitancy and avoidance will likely stick around. Evangelical pastors need to figure out if they want to be part of the solution or exacerbate the problem. They failed with COVID. Countless Christians (and people they came into contact with) died because of their faith-based negligence.
How many more deaths will it take before these evangelical leaders who pretend to be “pro-life” actually start giving a damn about people’s lives?
The Christian accountability program Covenant Eyes is supposed to alert certain designated people if you were looking at anything online that you shouldn’t have been. It’s primarily known as a tool used by pastors to keep tabs on gay members who think they’re “struggling” with same-sex attraction and need a babysitter to make sure they’re not looking at gay videos on adult sites.
But according to WIRED, the software is being used to monitor a lot more than adult content. That includes doing Google searches concerning any religious doubts.
“It’s really not about pornography,” says Brit, a former user of Accountable2You who asked to only be identified by her first name, due to privacy concerns. “It’s about making you conform to what your pastor wants.” Brit says she was asked to install the app by her parents after she was caught looking at pornography and that her mother and her pastor were both her designated accountability partners. “I remember I had to sit down and have a conversation with him [her pastor] after I Wikipedia’d an article about atheism,” she says. “I was a kid, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some kind of right to read what I want to read.”
These churches are effectively criminalizing thought within their ranks. It’s not illegal, but it’s arguably unethical. It’s a reminder that these religious organizations aren’t set up to handle critical thought that challenges their beliefs. They already treat homosexuality as a sin, but even questioning their faith in private—something that became even more popular once internet access became widely available decades ago—is seen as a problem that must be resolved.
Last year, Rob Shiflet, a former youth pastor at Denton Bible Church in Texas who had been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse, was sentenced to 33 months in prison for sexually assaulting two girls on church trips. He’ll be released next April and have to register as a sex offender.
The church recently announced the results of its own investigation. They found that Shiflet had allegedly abused 14 girls (including 11 at Denton Bible). His actions ranged from “grooming behavior and sexual harassment to criminal sexual abuse, abuse of power, and spiritual abuse.” The biggest issue in the report, however, was that church leaders didn’t seriously take action into the matter until 2019.
And they never went to law enforcement.
Unimpressed and frustrated by the church’s investigation, one of the victims is now going public in order to talk about the church’s failures.
I will have you all know that Arkansas State Sen. and Christian Nationalist Jason Rapert wants me to find Jesus.
Mike Winger, a Christian preacher who runs a giant online ministry, recently said believers should listen to the voices in their heads if they believe God is telling them to kill someone.
I repeat: He says if they sincerely think God wants them to commit murder, they should follow through… before adding a caveat about why he thinks that’s unlikely to happen.
This shouldn’t be complicated: If the voices in your head tell you to hurt someone, go get professional help.
This may be relevant to a lot of readers: After more than 15 years, Matt Dillahunty is leaving The Atheist Experience, a popular public access (and later YouTube) show where hosts debate religious callers. He’ll also be stepping away from other shows sponsored by the Atheist Community of Austin.
Specific reasons will be coming soon, he says, though he praises the group and the people there.
During Thursday night’s gubernatorial debate between Democrat Gov. J. B. Pritzker and Republican Darren Bailey, Bailey was asked about his comments comparing abortion to the Holocaust… specifically his defense that Jewish leaders said it was an apt comparison.
It did not go well.
Officer, I see a bunch of red flags…
… We may have found out who’s doing it:
There’s a new billboard in the city where showboating Christian football coach Joe Kennedy used to live:
Because you deserve joy, I made a video about the forthcoming God’s Not Dead 5.
(Do I love my face in the thumbnail? No. YouTube made me do it.)
I have a new conspiracy theory:
This article from the University of Notre Dame's "Church Life Journal" is supposed to be about why people are leaving Catholicism... yet doesn't ever mention LGBTQ people, abortion rights, or child sex abuse.
If they can’t diagnose the problem, how the hell do they expect to solve it?
An update! This pastor just pleaded guilty to Count II Grooming, a Class 4 felony, because of his sexually inappropriate Snapchat messages to a child.
Dammit, atheists. Tell the Spirit Halloween team I need to see them in my office.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, is becoming a parody of herself at this point:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 22: The Israelites are just hanging out at this point on their way to the Promised Land. Which means it's a perfect time to insert two new characters into the story who want to get revenge on these Israelites for taking over their land. Say hello to Balaam and Balak. And Shrek.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, you will LOVE this video from drag queen Trixie Mattel reacting to the bigoted fundamentalist Christian sisters at Girl Defined after they made a video trashing… drag queens.
Please become a full subscriber or share this with someone who may enjoy it. It would mean a lot to me :)