WEEK IN REVIEW: The Mormon "Help Line" that buries abuse allegations
Christian furries, atheists in federal prisons, a “new style” of atheism, and more!
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There are 157,064 people in the U.S. federal prison system, and exactly 134 of them identify as atheists. Those self-described atheists made up a mere 0.09% of the federal prison population.
That’s according to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed earlier this year with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I recently received a response with the data and made it public this week.
While there are a number of takeaways, I would point out two things: Our presence in U.S. federal prisons is significantly lower than what we find in the general population… and, at the same time, we shouldn’t conflate immorality with being behind bars.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue these efforts while working on articles and other projects.
Also, for anyone interested, I will be speaking at the following places in the coming weeks. Tickets for the conferences are still available!
August 26-28: BAHACon (Sarnia, Ontario)
September 3: Kentucky Freethought Convention (Louisville, KY). Use promo code “FRIENDLY” for a discount!
September 24-25: 3rd International Humanism Conference on Social Justice (Toronto, Ontario)
October 30: Houston Oasis (Houston, Texas)
What’s the matter with Kansas? NOT MUCH THIS WEEK after voters overwhelmingly defeated a ballot measure that would’ve allowed lawmakers to ban abortion. I only bring that up to say there’s another aspect of Tuesday’s vote that might also bring a smile to your face:
Value Them Both reported raising $2.45 million in 2022 from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Kansas City, Kan., and $550,000 from the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, accounting for a majority of the group’s cash donations this year.
The Catholic Church donation millions of dollars to punish women through this referendum… and failed. This was a rebuke of Catholic doctrine as much as it was conservative policies. Well done, Kansas voters and all the organizers who worked so hard for this victory.
The Mormon Church instructs bishops to contact a "help line" for guidance. That supposed hotline has become a key way for them to bury allegations of sexual abuse within the Church.
In a bombshell report from the Associated Press, one man confessed to his bishop that he was sexually abusing his 5-year-old daughter. The bishop called the “help line.” The “help line” didn’t help. The man continued abusing her for seven more years… in addition to abusing his six-week-old newborn.
Would any Mormon defend those actions? Surely not. And yet they continue to give money and time and their entire lives to the Church.
Why remain in an organization that cares more about its reputation than the members themselves? If you’re in the Mormon Church, you’re supporting an institution that covers up cases of abuse and creates more victims every day, whether you want to admit it or not. This is the Church. This is what they do. It is indefensible.
In an essay for MSNBC’s website, columnist Zeeshan Aleem called for a “new style of atheism” that could address both the growing threat of Christian nationalism and the decline in community that’s been hastened by people leaving organized religion.
Those are worthy goals for a secular future… but what Aleem got wrong was the underlying premise that our movement isn’t doing these things already! We are fighting Christian Nationalism, and we are creating communities. But so many of those groups are underfunded and overlooked, making it much harder to gain traction among the masses.
The Christian hate group Liberty Counsel is attempting to rally its members against a bill that would protect marriage equality nationwide. The bill would require all states to respect the marriage laws of other states (as they already do with straight couples). It’s such a sensible thing to do that 47 Republicans in the House voted for this bill along with all the Democrats.
But instead of trying to explain why their preferred brand of bigotry should be defended, Liberty Counsel went with a very different approach, saying that this bill would legalize… child brides.
They managed to stick Christian bogeymen like “pedophiles,” “California” and nationalized policies all in one paragraph… while ignoring the actual purpose of the bill: To protect marriage equality in case the conservative justices on the Supreme Court cause more chaos.
Australia now has a new leader in the Senate, Sue Lines, and one of her first orders of business was suggesting that Parliament end a tradition of Christian invocations because it was basically a government endorsement of one religion.
“On the one hand we’ve had almost every parliamentary leader applaud the diversity of the Parliament and so if we are genuine about the diversity of the Parliament we cannot continue to say a Christian prayer to open the day,” Senator Lines told The Australian.
Everything she said was perfectly sensible. You can’t celebrate the diversity of elected officials, then turn around and celebrate a Christian tradition in the government as if one religion represents the entire nation. Hell, just last month, Australia’s Bureau of Statistics revealed that 38.9% of citizens have no religious affiliation at all, compared to 43.9% who are Christians. (The latter group keeps getting smaller while the “Nones” continue growing.)
And yet her suggestion was met with right-wing backlash, with one commentator saying the idea “represents the worst and most nauseating aspects of the upper-middle-class left.”
This is a problem that could theoretically be solved within a matter of minutes. It’s the defenders of Christian tradition who are turning this into a controversy. If they ever had the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes, maybe they’d realize just how oppressive and meaningless those prayers are for everyone who doesn’t share their faith.
40 Congressional Democrats are calling on the IRS to investigate why it allows groups like the Family Research Council, a Christian hate-group that is most certainly not a church, to reclassify themselves as “churches,” presumably to avoid transparency.
This is an issue I’ve worried about for a while now, ever since we learned Focus on the Family and Liberty Counsel did the same thing before 2018. But the IRS hasn’t done anything to correct its own mistake.
That’s what the Democrats want to fix, saying, “Tax-exempt organizations should not be exploiting tax laws applicable to churches to avoid public accountability and the IRS’s examination of their activities.”
Now, maybe with additional funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS can do its damn job.
18 former students at Christian Centre Academy in Saskatoon (in Saskatchewan) say they were subject to exorcisms, paddling, and other forms of emotional and physical abuse. Four of them spoke with the CBC, sharing their traumatic stories. The school denies many of the claims but didn’t offer much in the way of a defense.
The big takeaway for me is how many adults knew about the abuse but didn’t do a damn thing to stop it.
Here’s the kicker: This school receives government funding (because Canada), which is why the victims want officials to block funding and end tax breaks until an investigation by law enforcement officials is completed and the school is cleared.
Just because you don’t understand other people’s lives doesn’t give you the right to criticize them.
That said, I’m just gonna leave this here:
Christian furries exist.
Christian furries are worried about… being Christians.
I’m not sure how much sympathy I can generate for conservative Christians who adopt fursonas in a community that’s often vilified by conservative Christians.
Jerry Falwell, Jr. is gone but Liberty University is still in the business of screwing… people over.
This time, according to ProPublica, the grift involves former military members whose tuition is cover by the GI bill. Despite raking in hundreds of millions of dollars (if not more) from its online degree mill, the quality of courses from Liberty U. is pathetic, which means students who put their lives on the line for the country are receiving a sub-par education from the school.
You should never compare anything to the Holocaust.
You should definitely not compare abortion to the Holocaust.
And you should absolutely not compare abortion to the Holocaust if you’re a Republican gubernatorial candidate who lives in a rural Illinois bubble.
For all the talk about whether Democrats ought to elevate the worst GOP candidates in a primary race for strategic reasons, Darren Bailey is a shining example of that plan working exactly as Democrats hoped.
If your response to the abortion debate is to say forced birth is fine because “I’ve seen a lot of 13-year-olds do phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal,” you’re an immoral monster whose ideas should never be taken seriously.
The lady who said that to the Washington Post, by the way, is about to build a $10 million “crisis pregnancy center” in Texas, pretending to help pregnant women while spreading all kinds of misinformation.
I know scamvangelist Kenneth Copeland loves money, but this is just gratuitous.
I would greatly appreciate anyone who can explain to me whatever the hell is going on in this conversation about Catholicism.
Huh. My comment still hasn’t been approved.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, can always be counted on to say the worst possible thing at any time:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 13: It's time for another roll call. But the payoff is worth it because this chapter also involves spying, giant grapes, and giant giants.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, Hell is us watching this movie:
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 :)
Hemant, great poke at Catholics for not praying hard enough! Maybe it's because their thoughts don't leave their heads, or because there is nobody in imaginary heaven to receive said messages. If ever there were a reason to call religious prayer a delusional behavior, this is it!
New Zealand police for the win! Jessica was right on the podcast, they are unarmed so spend less time murdering people.