WEEK IN REVIEW: These evangelicals aren't actually dissenting
Evangelical “dissenters,” racism in the Mormon Church, a gambling nun, and more!
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I mentioned last week that David Brooks of the New York Times had written a lengthy piece about evangelicals who feel their world has been turned upside down because many of their closest religious colleagues have become MAGA cultists.
The problem is that many of those same evangelicals have created an environment for right-wing extremism to flourish. They would rather see abortion banned by a Supreme Court that Republicans rigged to their advantage over the past two decades than give women the right to control their own bodies. They would prefer to see LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights than admit faith-based taxpayer-funded groups should play by the same rules as everyone else. They want in-person, crowded, maskless church services instead of abiding by sensible COVID restrictions in order to avoid backlash from their own members.
Trump is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. Until those “dissenters” realize it, nothing will change.
In 2014, the chief of the Ocala Police Department in Florida signed a letter calling for public prayer as part of a prayer vigil. Uniformed chaplains in the department spoke at the service and it would be easy to assume the government agency officially promoted the event.
That would normally be illegal. But when conservative Christians do it, the rules never matter, do they? Now, after a years-long legal battle in which judges previously deemed the religious endorsement illegal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is taking up the case, presumably to overturn the earlier rulings. It’s a disaster in the making.
Mormon leader Brad Wilcox apologized after a speech Monday night in which he downplayed the long history of racism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You would think someone who teaches religion at BYU and happens to be one of the few Mormon leaders literally in charge of the Church’s youth program worldwide would have a stronger grasp of how to talk about these issues, but when you’re near the top of the LDS hierarchy, it’s very easy to remain in your bubble.
What’s Christian privilege, you ask? It’s when a Republican governor openly states he wouldn’t nominate someone to a position of power unless that person believes in Jesus. That’s what Missouri’s Mike Parson did recently in defense of nominating someone who was deemed insufficiently conservative.Missourians know that I share these beliefs and would not have nominated someone who does not share the same Christian values. Yet, Senators chose to believe baseless rumors and outright lies on social media rather than the facts in front of them.
Identity politics exist in the GOP. They can’t stand it when Joe Biden pledges to put a Black woman on the Supreme Court, but when there’s a conservative Christian litmus test for everything else, it’s perfectly fine for them.
It’s impossible to discuss the January 6 insurrection attempt without bringing up the role Christian Nationalism played in the attacks. Now a major report from the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) shines a light on that link through a series of essays written by experts in the field. If you’re looking for some not-so-light weekend reading, this is it.
A public school district in West Virginia allegedly told students they had to attend an in-school assembly… that turned out to be a religious revival featuring preacher Nik Walker. The school insisted the event was “voluntary,” though students said otherwise, but even if that were true, why was a school hosting a church service during the day?
One student led a walkout while the Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed an open records request to find out the nature of this event. The story is far from over. Even Congressman Jamie Raskin tweeted his support for the walkout organizer:
Anti-vaccine truckers in Ottawa, Canada had their fundraiser shut down on GoFundMe, but naturally, they found a new home on a Christian fundraising site that has no real rules about raising money for people whose only goal in life is to make others miserable.
A Catholic priest resigned. One article about that said, "Diocesan officials did not disclose how many people are affected by the discovery." The priest himself added, "I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people."
Sounds like he did something pretty damn awful, right? Of course not. This is the Catholic Church. The smaller your mistake, the more likely you’ll be punished for it.
I mentioned last week that Citipointe Christian College (a K-12 school in Australia) revised their contract last week to be explicitly anti-LGBTQ. Parents had to agree to it or their kids couldn’t attend. After tons of backlash, the school announced it would withdraw the contract and go back to the drawing board. The whole situation has destroyed whatever reputation they were hoping to cultivate.
Now, another shoe has dropped: The principal has stepped down for an "extended leave." It’s always nice when active bigotry ends up hurting the bigots.
A nun was sentenced to a year in jail after stealing over $835,000 from the Catholic school she ran, partly to fund her frequent trips to Vegas.
The collective response on Twitter? Celebration on behalf of the nun, from what I can gather.
A public school teacher in Tennessee is under fire after allegedly telling students “how to torture a Jew” by making them say YHWH (or “Yahweh”). That’s only the tip of the iceberg for an elective, ostensibly secular Bible class in a middle school. The mother of a student shared stories this past week about how this course is more like an indoctrination camp, and now Americans United for Separation of Church and State is demanding answers from the district.
Liberty University is currently facing a lawsuit over their mishandling of sexual abuse allegations. So 10 Virginia lawmakers have responded by… commending Liberty U. in a government resolution. Because of course they did.
You will thoroughly enjoy the folks at Evangelicalish reacting to what The Transformed Wife said about vaccines… and something else.
This shouldn’t be difficult, right?
Fresh off his book burning, hate-preacher Greg Locke insists The Simpsons can predict the future because literal demons are involved… and not because the show’s been around for more than three decades, creating a lot of cherries to pick through.Greg Locke of @globalvisionbc says that The Simpsons predictions are the work of demons. @hemantmehta @RightWingWatch @patriottakes
As for the book-burning, Locke’s defense against all the criticism is that he burned more than just books. Which is… a horrible rebuttal.
Remember that just because someone has a chart, it doesn’t mean what they’re saying is true.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Scamvangelist Kenneth Copeland says to anyone with COVID: "I don't care. Get out of bed." (This is the same Copeland who claimed to destroy the virus nearly two years ago.)Scamvangelist Kenneth Copeland knows exactly what it takes to be persecuted. And how to recover after saying something you didn't mean.Christian Preacher Brenda Kunneman is just making up statistics to get her congregation to ditch face masks.Preacher Grayson Fritts said he doesn't care if someone clips his sermons to make him look like a "crazy Baptist." Then he said a bunch of things that fit the profile.Nothing says "I'm reasonable" like smashing a TV that's already turned off. But no one has ever called Christian preacher Joshua Feuerstein "reasonable"...Christian "prophetess" Kat Kerr says there's non-alcoholic wine in Heaven. But don't worry because you'll get drunk on the Holy Spirit.
You know you missed your weekly dose of Gene Kim:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Leviticus 15, an R-rated chapter about bodily fluids. You’re not ready for it.
On this week’s podcast, Jessica and I discussed many of the stories mentioned in this newsletter:
Finally, Ark Encounter had to temporarily close earlier this month because of bad weather. (That sound you hear is an irony meter exploding.)
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 :)
I resent GiveFundGo holding themselves out as a "Christian" crowdfunder. Since when do Christians have a monopoly on honesty?
I was scammed several times by a man who fronted a business in my name without my knowledge and permission in Orlando, Tampa, Asheville, and Nashville to dupe Christians for fundraisers. Ironically, his first name was Angel.
I feel uneasy whenever anyone uses "cult" or "cultist" in a pejorative vein. We need to admit that our country was founded by cults and that the basic fabric of the United States is a fabric of cults--many good, some bad.
Atheists like us are a cult, perhaps the largest cult. So were/are the Pilgrims, the Jews, the Shakers, the Mennonites, the Quakers, the Catholics, the Red Cross, the US Senate, etc. To slam one's detractors as a cult is also a form of bigotry.
Note that the Religious Tolerance Act of 1649 came about in the early days of enclaved settlements by several cults who could not tolerate each other, much less cooperate amidst the threats of surviving disease, the Indians, the weather, etc. Eventually, they decided not to cruelly punish and kill each other over religious differences. But the Act exempted Jews and atheists from this protection.