WEEK IN REVIEW: How Many Houses Did Jesus Have?
A church that’s too loud, public schools aren’t godless after all, a YouTube suspension, and more!
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A new survey from the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of all Americans, 45%, believe we ought to live in a “Christian Nation.” They disagree, however, on what that means in practice, and most Americans still believe church and state should remain separate.
You can see there that 60% of Americans falsely believe we were originally intended to be a “Christian nation,” that 45% of Americans say we should be one, and 33% of Americans say we currently are one.
And yet the other responses don’t quite match up with any of those results. Should Supreme Court members rely on their faith when deciding cases? An astonishing 83% of Americans say no. (They are correct.) Similarly, 77% of Americans don’t want churches (and other houses of worship) endorsing political candidates.
I analyzed those numbers along with several others in a lengthy piece this week that (I promise) includes some silver linings.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue these efforts while working on other projects.
For anyone interested, I will be speaking in Texas this weekend! Details below:
October 30: Houston Oasis
Since we’re talking about data, Statistics Canada just revealed this week that more than a THIRD of Canadians citizens have no religious affiliation. The census numbers show that the 34.6% of Canadian “Nones” more than doubles the 16.5% who fell into the same category in 2001, revealing a trend that has yet to plateau.
Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke, of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee, is So. Damn. Loud. that his county is considering a new noise ordinance that would institute a decibel cap during certain times of the day.
Locke is already pretending this is an act of persecution, vowing to defy any rules in the name of Jesus.
Things didn’t get any better on Wednesday when Locke attempted to read an email from a critic… only to accidentally delete it mid-sermon and blame everyone but himself:
And just a day later, his church’s YouTube account was permanently banned (though Locke’s personal account remains active). The reason for the takedown now is unclear.
We’re currently in the midst of another full-throated attack on public schools by conservatives who treat them as godless hotbeds of liberal insanity.
If you believe their lies—and you shouldn’t—public schools are where young furries need litter boxes in the classroom, where teachers encourage kids to be LGBTQ, where sex education promotes risky behavior, where “Critical Race Theory” and “Common Core math” and unpatriotic history are regularly preached, and where pandemic-related mask mandates are suppressing student development. Conservative Christians have also attempted to censor books in school districts under the guise of protecting kids.
Underlying all of that is this belief that public schools are somehow anti-Christian, which also explains why football coaches can’t pray at midfield after games and why teachers can’t push Creationism on kids.
All of these things are lies or exaggerations.
The rumors are routinely debunked. Conservatives mistake the requirement of government neutrality with the loss of their own privilege. But trying to talk sense into them is futile when their false beliefs are just amplified in right-wing media.
That’s why we should give credit where it’s due: Christianity Today recently published an essay by Ericka Andersen (who’s hardly a liberal) saying in no uncertain terms that “Public schools aren’t godless.” Andersen spoke with a number of Christian parents whose kids are in public schools as well as Christian teachers who work in them, all of whom push back against the myth that public schools are hostile to their faith.
I regularly post vile sermon clips from Christian hate-preachers online (and below, in this newsletter), but rarely do they get as vile as what Jonathan Shelley said recently.
He told his congregation at Stedfast Baptist Church in Texas that we’d be “lucky” if the Holocaust really took the lives of six million Jews (implying it didn’t happen as reported), that being Jesus-like meant spreading antisemitic hate, and that the biggest problem with the phrase “Judeo-Christian” was the “Judeo” part.
He also added that he wouldn’t shed a single tear if a terrorist murdered everyone in a gay bar, echoing what his colleague said after the Pulse nightclub massacre several years ago.
In other words, it was everything we’ve come to expect from the religious extremists who lead the New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement.
On October 17, the Sumner County Commissioners in Tennessee voted to codify a new set of “Standing Rules and Procedures” to guide their meetings that references their allegiance to “Judeo-Christian values.” Their attorney warned them not to do it, but they didn’t listen.
None of that means a lawsuit is forthcoming… yet. But the groundwork has been laid.
The statements made at the meeting itself don’t help, given that commissioners made it abundantly clear that their goal was to promote the false belief that conservative Christianity is foundational to our nation’s history and that it must be the basis for the county’s future.
A month after the New York Times‘ bombshell report about how Hasidic schools in the city were depriving students of a quality education, the largest such school has now admitted to fraud, stealing millions of dollars from the state government that was meant to assist kids.
The Central United Talmudical Academy (CUTA), which serves over 5,000 students over multiple campuses, “submitted false and misleading documents” to the state to get reimbursed for student meals.
Despite the school saying that over 1,000,000 meals were served, virtually none of those claims were real. The school, however, received $3,256,338.68 for those lies.
They will now have to pay that back along with an additional $5 million in fines.
Over the past four years, Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt has been one of the more sensible, progressive voices in her state legislature. The openly atheist lawmaker has called out conservative Christians who rejected comprehensive sex education and helped defeat an extreme abortion ban this past summer.
She just did an interview with OnlySky in which she talked about why she ran for office, why more people don’t do it, and what she’s accomplished so far as she runs for her second term.
I would quote a little piece of it, but everything she said was gold. Go read the whole thing.
Christian “prophet” Robin Bullock says that Jesus was a wealthy man who owned five houses. Don’t bother looking for a citation. There isn’t one.
You know things are bad in the Catholic Church when the Diocese of Buffalo, in New York, agrees to government oversight because their own leaders didn’t do enough to protect kids from child sex predators.
The Church has routinely opposed outside interference, claiming it was capable of policing itself, but as we’ve known for decades, that’s obviously not true.
The program in question will be in place for at least five years, according to NY Attorney General Letitia James’ office. The Buffalo Diocese will submit to an annual audit of its compliance to be conducted by a former FBI agent who specializes in clergy sexual abuse and who will be paid by the Diocese. The audits will be made public on the Diocese’s website.
Furthermore, if future allegations of abuse arise, an independent investigator will look into the matter and return findings within 45 days. A mandatory lay review board will offer recommendations in each case, which will also be made public. Accused clergy members who are suspended will also be named publicly. All complaints will go to law enforcement and the Buffalo Diocese will cooperate in all oversight investigations. If a priest refuses to cooperate, the Church can now withhold that priest’s pension until he complies.
Here’s some positive news: When Christian extremists and Proud Boys threatened a family-friendly drag show, the Northern Indiana Atheists helped provide security for families.
“It’s important that we as a community show up for each other,” said one member.
Well, we all know how well-behaved priests are…
I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be basing any public policy on the Book of Leviticus… which is the go-to book for Christian extremists who want to execute their perceived enemies.
Gonna go out on a limb and say the people spinning in circles to control the elections have too much political power.
If you have paid much attention to Creationist Kent Hovind recently, you’ll want to watch this video from Paulogia detailing the insanity going down at his Alabama compound. Beware all the red flags.
Churches are far more dangerous for kids than drag shows and this mom let a bigoted local leader know it:
Tell me more about Christian persecution…?
Piggybacking on an article I wrote last week, I made a video about why Southern Baptist Convention president Bart Barber's "60 Minutes" interview was a disaster.
He had his moments when discussing the SBC's abuse problems, but everything else? Yikes...
Well, well, well, it looks like former high school football coach Joe Kennedy will return to Bremerton, Washington this March in order to return to the role that allows him to perform Christian prayers at midfield after games. I’m still wondering why someone would sell a home in Florida and move cross-country in order to take up a part-time coaching position, but Kennedy’s entire coaching career has been all about making selfish decisions that benefit no one but himself.
Not to sound conspiratorial, but I’ll believe he’s doing this when he actually completes the move.
Satan’s looking more and more appealing these days…
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, is still on the domestic abuse bandwagon:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 25: The Israelites are still trying to make their way to the Promised Land, taking a bunch of detours and destroying everyone on their path. They also sleep around a lot. So you know the Bible people are angry.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, it’s wonderful (and important!) to see this from a sitting member of Congress:
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