WEEK IN REVIEW: The Plagiarized Pledge of Allegiance
An outrageous blasphemy ruling, an old school prayer case riles up Republicans, an incredible speech from an atheist lawmaker, and more!
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Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt and a handful of her colleagues in the legislature managed to block an anti-abortion bill pushed by her conservative Christian colleagues. That would be news on its own. But the way she spoke out against the bill was just stunning, pointing out the ramifications of the short-sighted bill and using their religious rhetoric right back at them.
After threatening to derail all the other pieces of legislation waiting in the queue, Hunt said the Christian God would be on her side and delivered some first-class shade.
… if I go to the Pearly Gates and meet your God someday—which sounds great, I hope I do—I don’t think I’m gonna get in any trouble for killing all of your bills who vote for this. I don’t think your God’s gonna have any problem with that. And I don’t think I’m gonna see any of you there either.
What’s the worst thing about the Pledge of Allegiance? Perhaps the reference to being a nation “under God”? The false claim of having “liberty and justice for all”? The fact that it was conceived as an anti-immigrant mantra?
We just learned a new fact that may be substantively worse than all of that: The man credited with writing the Pledge, Francis Bellamy, may have plagiarized it from a child.
Bellamy always cited a specific date for when he wrote the Pledge. But recently, a historian discovered an old newspaper article about a classroom reciting the Pledge, virtually word-for-word, months before Bellamy’s supposed insight. It appears that a child wrote it, submitted it to Bellamy’s magazine, only for him to take full credit for it years later.
Mubarak Bala was accused of blasphemy two years ago, and the entire situation just got worse this week after a Nigerian court sentenced him to 24 years behind bars for essentially insulting Islam.
As the saying goes, blasphemy is a victimless crime. No one deserves this. Bala’s sentence must be overturned. Make no mistake: The sentence will be appealed. But it’s not clear if he’ll ever receive the justice he deserves.
You would think a bill to rename a courthouse in honor of one of the most famous judges in your state would be non-controversial. In fact, there was a bipartisan bill to rename a courthouse in Florida after Joseph Woodrow Hatchett, the Florida Supreme Court’s first Black justice. Every single congressperson from Florida sponsored or co-sponsored the bill.
And yet, it hit a snag recently after another Republican congressman began circulating a 1999 decision written by Hatchett in which he said school-sponsored prayers at graduation ceremonies were unconstitutional.
Let me repeat that: A judge said schools should follow the law and respect judicial precedent... and Republicans revolted. In fact, 10 Republicans who co-sponsored the bill soon voted against fast-tracking its passage. Because that’s how spineless they are.
I haven’t been able to confirm this, but if this ad campaign is real, then it raises far more questions than it answers:
Christian conspiracist congresswoman Lauren Boebert suggested that LGBTQ people should be at least 21 before they make any “decisions” about their sexual orientation or gender identity.We require people to be 21 to purchase alcohol beverages, and 21 to purchase tobacco products. Why is it so unreasonable to require people to reach a certain level of maturity before making life-altering decisions about their sexuality and identity?
… Which leads to an obvious question: How old should everyone else be before making those decisions? Straight, cis people don’t have to wait till they’re 21 to declare themselves anything. No one questions it when they talk about grade-school crushes, who they’re dating, or how they self-identify.
But remember that conservatives like Boebert don’t care about the answer. They’re just saying this stuff to demean trans people. It’s how bigots operate.
Did you hear about the anti-abortion zealot who was arrested after police found five aborted fetuses in her home? Turns out she was working for an atheist who happens to be a fellow anti-abortion nut. (Moral of the story: Being rational in one area doesn’t make you rational in all the other ones too.)
I know we’re all done with Will Smith takes, but here’s a new one, courtesy of self-described “prophet” Robin Bullock: It was all part of God’s Plan:
Over 80% of Democrats are religious. 78% of Democrats in Congress are *Christian*. Literally one congressman uses a “Humanist” label. And yet…
According to a new report from Truth & Transparency, the Mormon Church may have the most valuable private real estate portfolio in the country that ranks in the "... top five in terms of acreage and likely number one in terms of market value."
I’ve been saying this for years: While we know there’s plenty of money to be made with religion, there are also plenty of opportunities for those who leave religion and are willing to use their voices to help others down that same path. VICE has a look at some prominent exvangelicals and other “apostates.”
I will never understand why fundamentalist Christians think everything would be better if families stopped bringing in a necessary second income.
While we’re at it…
Oh wait there’s more:
Willy Rice was poised to become the next president of the sexual abuse-plagued Southern Baptist Convention, but he's dropping out after revelations that his church ordained a man guilty of sexual misconduct.
Rice described that man as "an exemplary follower of Christ."
Of all the dumb things Rep. Madison Cawthorn has ever said, the idea that science doesn’t change surely has to rank in top 1,000.
How’s preacher Gene Kim handling the Disney/DeSantis controversy? Not well.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Nothing to see here. Just Christian hate-preacher Steven Anderson having a good laugh with interviewer Bryson Gray about the definition of the word "gay."Christian hate-preacher Tommy McMurtry doesn't like the anti-gay reputation of his church. Not that he plans to change anything.Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke said this morning that he can spot someone's gender by looking at one specific body part... He then claimed (without evidence) that his church helped someone de-transition during a service.Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke said tonight that people shouldn't trust their doctors or take medication because the Devil is responsible for bipolar disorder and "multiple personality disorder." He could cure it all, he said, with the Bible and some anointing oil.Christian hate-preacher Jared Pozarnsky is very angry about women's sports... but someone must have sent him the wrong talking points. "Women's sports is in the news today... because, like, it's being taken over by a bunch of homosexual men." It gets worse from there.Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley says the WNBA is "worthless" and Brittney Griner can remain captive in Russia for all he cares.Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley is furious about images of Jesus with long hair. "The Jesus of the Bible looks like a real man!... I wanna see some kind of a hairy, short-haired dude wearing pants that's kinda Middle Eastern looking. That's Jesus."
This is a really nice (far too brief) chat with Dee the Humanist about how she escaped her evangelical upbringing. Pay special attention to what caused her to seriously question her faith during a mission trip:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Leviticus 23. We're about to get the rules for a bunch of festivals, including Passover, but God's about to ruin the holidays.
By the way, YouTube has now flagged those Bible videos TWICE for inappropriate content. (Both times, even after a human reviewer upheld the demonetization, YouTube reversed course.) I feel like Christians should be angrier about this, and yet I haven’t had any pastors come to my defense. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, how do you handle an annoying street preacher? Pit him against another annoying street preacher:
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 :)