WEEK IN REVIEW: Richard Dawkins and the atheist "schism"
Humanism and identity politics, a pro-LGBTQ protest at a Christian college, a superintendent preaching at a graduation ceremony, and more!
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This week, LGBTQ Nation, Boing Boing, and The Advocate all covered a story I first posted on Twitter about a Christian hate preacher speaking at a city council meeting and calling for the execution of LGBTQ people.
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Now onto the news…
Richard Dawkins is one of the most influential science writers I’ve ever read. I love his books about evolution. And while I was an atheist long before The God Delusion came out, I know many people who were influenced by that one too.
That’s why it’s so disappointing that this supposed champion of critical thinking and warrior against religious dogma has been so completely irresponsible when speaking about transgender people.
The head of the Center for Inquiry, which merged with Dawkins’ foundation years ago, recently wrote an essay for Free Inquiry saying Dawkins’ critics are creating a “schism” in the Humanist movement. I disagree and elaborated in an essay of my own.
By claiming identity politics (my words) are antithetical to Humanism, the head of one of the largest Humanist groups in the country is also claiming trans rights and social justice aren’t as important. If Dawkins wants to throw trans people under the bus under the guise of a hypothetical question, then CFI’s CEO Robyn Blumner wants Humanists to just accept that in the name of unity. Anything less, she says, distracts us from coming together “to work arm-in-arm against Christian Nationalism.” (You know what else distracts us from working against Christian nationalism? The world’s most famous atheist helping Christian nationalists demonize trans people.)
A graduation ceremony is supposed to celebrate the students. But at Dawson County High School in Dawsonville, Georgia, retiring Superintendent Damon Gibbs used his pulpit to preach Christianity to the captive audience in an attempt to get them to convert.During his address at graduation, a retiring high school superintendent in Georgia urged students to convert to Christianity... before mocking trans kids. More details (and a transcript) here: onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/g…
It’s irresponsible and arguably illegal, but so far, he hasn’t faced any consequences for what he did.
He’s not the only person hijacking a graduation ceremony. Jim McGuire, a businessman in Ohio, spoke at the River Valley High School commencement in Caledonia, Ohio. His advice included urging students to make a wise decision when it comes to a future spouse… and that means following “biblical principles—you know a male with a female and female with a male.” Nothing like espousing Christian homophobia at a public school celebration for seniors...
Some conservative Christian candidates run ads mentioning their faith. In Oklahoma, however, Republican Luke Holland launched his own campaign for U.S. Senate with an ad that only focused on the Christian aspect, including the lie that his church was “shut down” during the pandemic.
Some positive news! Students at Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian college in Washington, are staging sit-in protests after the school chose to keep in place “lifestyle expectations” in their contracts, effectively blocking the hiring of openly LGBTQ people. The students don’t feel like bigotry is compatible with their faith, but the question is whether their pushback will change anything, especially now that the school year is wrapping up and momentum will be lost. So far, some board members have resigned… but only the good ones who objected to the bigotry.
Hear me out. We could solve this problem by removing the phrase entirely.
More good news! Four excellent books about Humanism written by sisters Elle and Bailey Harris, 12 and 16 years old, respectively, have been translated into Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Bahasa Indonesia. They’re available for free as PDFs in order to help people access the material in countries where religious freedom is hard to come by.
California: Be sure to vote wisely in Tuesday’s primary or else Christian fundamentalists like Rachel Hamm could soon be in charge of elections.
Former pastor David A. Walker will spend the next few years in jail after being found guilty of sexually abusing a child. He tried avoiding punishment by telling the judge that he thought the girl, then 14, was his wife and that he began “rubbing her” during a church lock-in and didn’t realize she wasn’t his wife until the next morning. That story wasn’t very convincing, apparently.
Christian Nationalism is a problem… unless you’re a Christian Nationalist who wants everyone to believe it’s the solution to everything. Everyone else, she says, is a terrorist.
When you get 3% of the vote in a primary, you didn’t lose because of voter fraud. But try telling that to Kandiss Taylor of Georgia. (More on her later!)
If you were running for office, what’s the first thing you would do? According to conspiracy theorist Michele Bachmann, it better be forming a “prayer committee.”
Stepping aside from the result of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial, former American Atheists president David Silverman attempted to inject himself into the story by claiming he’s the one who canceled Depp’s scheduled appearance at the 2016 Reason Rally because he believed Depp had been abusive. Silverman says he apologized to Depp about that and the apology was accepted.
Except… that’s not the story.
Depp’s appearance was known months in advance (so it wasn’t a secret, like Silverman said), and he and Heard canceled on Reason Rally organizers the same week they got divorced and shortly after Depp’s mother died, which was understandable. (It was just before Heard accused him of abuse, though rumors were floating around at the time.)In 2016, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were headliners at the second "Reason Rally," an atheist gathering in D.C. Then his mom died. Then they divorced. Understandably, both had to cancel. friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2016/05/26/joh… I say that because these tweets from Dave Silverman make no sense.Also, Depp was not "secretly" scheduled to appear. The Washington Post literally publishing a piece about Depp's appearance *months* before the event.washingtonpost.comJohnny Depp goes to Washington for atheist gatheringJohnny Depp will bring a touch of Hollywood glamour to a planned gathering of atheists and other secularists at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial.
Remember last week when we learned how complicit Southern Baptist leaders had been in perpetuating a longstanding sexual abuse problem? Well, one of the most prominent Southern Baptist preachers in the country, Robert Jeffress, who’s also a regular on FOX News, invited one of those complicit leaders to speak at his church about… anything but abuse.
Surprise, surprise: Scamvangelist Kenneth Copeland blames the Uvalde school shooting on The Devil.Televangelist Kenneth Copeland says the Uvalde shooter was "demon possessed" so don't blame him, hold "the devil responsible."
He’s not alone.Right-wing Christian conspiracy theorist Derek Gilbert wonders how the Uvalde school shooter managed to be so accurate with his weapon. The only logical answer, Gilbert thinks, is that he was controlled by a demon.
Ted Cruz, in addition to blaming doors, blamed the lack of church-going:The five states with the highest incidence of gun violence: Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Missouri, & Alabama. The lowest: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York. Which set does @tedcruz imagine has higher church attendance?NEW: At the NRA convention, Ted Cruz just blamed mass shootings on “prescription drugs, video games, and declining church attendance.”No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen @NoLieWithBTC
But at least one group of people—the Good Liars—went to the NRA Convention and thanked its leader for his repeated thoughts and prayers. (Too bad no one there seemed to get the joke.)
On that note, happy anniversary…?
Christian “prophetess” Kat Kerr says that “the skateboards fly” in Heaven. Because proof is irrelevant when you make things up for a living.
Copeland’s colleague Jerry Savelle wants you to know he never took a vow of poverty.
How’s preacher Gene Kim doing these days, you ask? The same. Always the same.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, had a slew of horrible tweets:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Tonight, Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke claimed megachurches like Willow Creek and Hillsong have lost members because they don't preach the Bible like he does. He didn't mention all their sexual misconduct scandals.
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 4. Remember how the sons of Levi were responsible for taking care of the curtains, the ark and altars, and the carpentry in the tabernacle? This exciting chapter is all about the specifics.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, I had no idea where John Oliver was going with this when he said he was going to talk about rocks… but it became a 17-minute digression into the Christian Nationalist candidacy of Georgia’s Kandiss Taylor and it was spectacular.
That’s it for this week! Stay safe. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Please become a full subscriber or share this with someone who may enjoy it. It would mean a lot to me :)
This just in...Moslem nations have issued a Fatwa against sisters Elle and Bailey Harris, 12 and 16 years old, respectively, for their four excellent books about Humanism that have been translated into Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Bahasa Indonesia. Humanism has no place in Mohammed's war against the infidels. Akbar!