WEEK IN REVIEW: Most Americans now have some doubts about God's existence
A forfeited basketball game, a prominent Christian predator had help, a hate-preacher's church shutting down, and more!
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Just before Joe Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, a Southern Baptist leader made sure to add his racist beliefs to the conversation:
The share of Americans who are absolutely certain God exists has dropped below 50% for the first time ever.
While that ought to be good news and another sign that the country is heading in a more secular direction (even as Christian nationalism remains as powerful as ever), it’s still disturbing that nearly half of all Americans are absolutely, positively, 100% certain that God exists.
But the irony is that roughly 65% of Americans said the same thing in 1993 (before the internet became ubiquitous), and yet about 15% of them—we’re talking tens of millions of Americans—eventually caved to their doubts and skepticism.
So as troubling as it is to see half of all American adults cling so strongly to something so wrong, they may not actually be as stubborn as they seem.
A high school basketball team in Alabama, affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventists, forfeited a playoff game because it was scheduled on their Sabbath. The reason this became a much larger story is because they had requested a change in the time of their game—and even got approval from the three other teams that would’ve been affected by it—but the state organization running the playoffs said no.
If you read online reactions to this story, or Governor Kay Ivey’s angry letter to the organizers, you might think this is a case of religious discrimination or at least just unnecessary heartlessness. But I would argue there are many more factors that the public isn’t considering. The main one? The number of people affected by a time change would go beyond just the teams themselves.
Christian sex predator Ravi Zacharias was inadvertently aided in his sexual misconduct by leaders in his ministry who looked the other way when there were reasons to question his actions, gave him donors’ money so he wouldn’t have to go after one of his victims in court on his own dime, and were shady enough to pass around money through financial shenanigans that no serious non-profit would ever consider.
That’s the bottom line in a new report from an agency tasked with investigating Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. It’s a damning look at a group of people who acted like members of a cult instead of adults responsibly promoting their religious mission.
Her reaction says it all, doesn’t it?
A Christian “Missing Man” display went up a few years ago at a VA hospital in New Hampshire. When a polite request to remove the Bible from the table didn’t get anywhere, and a lawsuit dragged on for years, the plaintiffs this week asked a judge to dismiss their case (and he agreed) because they decided on a different approach. Now they’ll be asking the VA hospital to put up a similar, secular table that honors all POW/MIAs instead of just implying they were all Christians.
A follow-up from last week’s reporting on Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke and his literal witch hunt. Locke said over the weekend that he didn’t like how critics only focused on a few seconds in a much longer sermon. The answer, of course, is that those few seconds tell you more about his true beliefs than the rest of the sermon ever would. Those few seconds are why sensible people shouldn’t join his church.Earlier today, Christian pastor Greg Locke complained that his critics only focus on the three seconds of a 45-minute sermons where he talks about "fraudulent Joe Biden" or says "Nancy Pelosi is demon-possessed." Can't imagine why...
If you’d like to hear more about this story, though, I made a video explaining why his witch hunt is so concerning:
Just a totally normal request…
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving an anti-gay Christian website designer who doesn’t want to make sites promoting same-sex weddings. While such a website would violate Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws, all of this is theoretical anyway. Lorie Smith hasn’t launched the website or said no to any gay clients. In other words, there’s no reason the Supreme Court should be taking up this case… and yet they are, which is frightening.
The goal isn’t to right a wrong because nothing has even happened. It’s to prevent state governments from protecting LGBTQ people under the law. That’s the Christian game plan here.
Religious bigotry shouldn’t be an exception to civil rights laws, but that’s where we’re heading.
The Christian Right will always find a way to defend the worst people as long as they profess a belief in Jesus. This week, they even did it with the Russian leader:
I just want you to think about the words “beginning to realize.”
I had no idea “company harlot” was even a position someone could have, but Creationist Matt Powell wants you to know he rejected her advances.
Inflation is part of an anti-Christian agenda, according to a guy who’s literally in Congress right now.
Jeff Sharlet, who has done as much as anyone to expose the power and intentions of the Christian Right through his book “The Family,” says the religious attacks on trans people are part of a much bigger plan. His thread describing their overarching goals is frightening. Read the whole thing.
Nebraska State Senator Mike Groene is a conservative Christian who once argued that even atheists ought to support displaying the phrase “In God We Trust” in every public school because it “keep[s] people in line because they fear the afterlife.” (He’s telling on himself right there.)
That particular bill aside, he made it clear that he was a religious conservative who wanted to use his power to push his faith on other people.
Turns out he’s a sex pest, too. Groene resigned this week after a legislative aide accused him of taking “objectifying” photos of her, without consent, and then sharing the “zoom-close-ups of provocative body parts” with other people while attaching “explicit subject lines” on them.
Now an atheist colleague of his is demanding further investigation to see if any crimes were committed. So at least we know who the moral one is here.
Well, it's not like Jesus would want them to help the poor…
It’s standard Christian apologetics to say God has a reason for allowing natural disasters to occur, even if we can’t understand it, but this explanation from Sean McDowell is particularly awful.
Does anyone know if something prophetic happened on Tuesday? Because self-proclaimed Christian “prophet” Jeff Jansen insisted, days prior, that something major would happen… which opens the door to him taking credit for anything and everything in the name of Jesus.
Did Noah build an Ark to save humanity? No, of course not. But of all the explanations I’ve ever heard as to how he could’ve built such a boat, even Creationist Ken Ham will never touch this bizarre theory put forth by Robin Bullock:
Speaking of which, Ark Encounter had a rough January. I wrote about the attendance numbers and what it tells us. (Behind a paywall. Please subscribe!)
Preacher Hank Kunneman insists he once spoke to a “president of a nation” and blew his mind with (extremely underwhelming) signs from God. Don’t bother asking for details because you’ll never get them.
Here’s some good news: The Universal Life Church (a.k.a. the website where anyone can become an “ordained priest” in order to officiate a wedding ceremony) settled a lawsuit allowing them to perform unlimited ceremonies in Clark County, Nevada. For a while, they were limited in their abilities because the county didn’t consider them a real religion. While the policy quickly changed, it took years for this lawsuit to play out.
When you insist you’re not a bigot, while going on an anti-trans sermon rant, you’re still a bigot.Andy Wood, the lead pastor of California's Echo Church, couldn't handle people applauding Jeopardy! phenom Amy Schneider for being openly transgender. He whined about how being anti-trans is now considered "shameful" while insisting he's not a bigot.
What really bothers me is that guys like this are the mainstream face of evangelical Christianity. He’s just as bad as the fundamentalists (seen later in this newsletter) who are openly anti-LGBTQ to their smaller congregations, but he couches his rhetoric in more “loving” terms and delivers it with a smile. The message isn’t that different, though. It’s far more insidious.
Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley says his church is getting evicted from it’s property in Texas (!) due to his hate-speech.Christian preacher Jonathan Shelley just announced that his Texas-based church has been evicted from its property due to his hate speech.
The last ten seconds of that clip are telling. But so is the sermon he delivered the very next day, calling for the death penalty for homosexuals and gluttonous children.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Christian preacher Jonathan Shelley on women running for office: "You are an idiot if you vote for a woman. You are a fool. And you hate the Word of God." What if she's a conservative Republican? "Well, get in the kitchen and start making conservative sandwiches."Christian preacher Corbin Ressl got backlash after I posted a clip of him longing for the days when he could play "smear the queer." He now says there's more where that came from and vows to double down on his anti-gay bigotry.Christian preacher Corbin Ressl longs for the good old days when he could bully gay kids without consequences. https://t.co/9qznzyuuSMHemant Mehta @hemantmehtaHere's New Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher Salvador Alvarez flat-out saying "it's okay" when LGBTQ people take their own lives. Just horrible stuff in the name of Jesus. (The video was glitchy in the livestream.)That feeling when you accidentally suggest women are equal and quickly correct yourself, courtesy of preacher Tanner Furrh.Preacher Jason Graber tossed in a line in a sermon about how gay people should suffer. Just casual hate speech in church.Preachers like David Berzins will use any opening they can find to trash Joe Biden... and trans people... even when it makes no sense.
Here’s your weekly dose of Gene Kim… this time brought to you by megachurch preacher Ed Young. This is not some dude on the fringe. This is one of the most popular pastors in the country spreading utter nonsense in the name of Jesus.
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Leviticus 17, a chapter all about animal sacrifice and eating blood. Hopefully, not together.
On this week’s podcast, we discussed some of the bigger stories that appear in this newsletter!
Finally, you gotta love headlines on conservative Christian websites:
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"The share of Americans who are absolutely certain God exists has dropped below 50% for the first time ever."
The share of Americans who believe Trump is God has increased to over 33% for the first time ever.
Look out, Jesus--you've been cancelled!