WEEK IN REVIEW: "Unwise" DMs from a Christian leader
A fake massacre, Haggard-level hypocrisy, forfeiting a football game due to cooties, and more!
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I’ve been giving public talks lately on how the atheist “movement” has all but disappeared compared to what it was 10-15 years ago at the height of “New Atheism”… while, at the same time, the religious demographics in the U.S. are rapidly shifting away from organized religion.
How could that be happening? Are we winning or losing?
Journalist Aysha Khan was wondering those same things. She recently published an article attempting to answer those questions, and we spoke at length for her piece.
One response I gave was that the movement’s goal, it seems, is no longer to “de-convert” people, or at least it’s no longer the top priority. What’s the point of helping people become atheists if they still hold irrational views on a variety of other social/cultural issues? That’s why we’ve shifted to maintaining church/state separation and fighting Christian Nationalism even if that means working with religious allies to achieve it.
“They’re not doing the work to convert you out of your religion to become an atheist, because even they kind of acknowledge that, ‘well, we wouldn’t win anything if you’re an atheist,’” Mehta said. Instead, they’re shifting their focus to organize around issues that matter to their membership: church-state separation, reproductive rights, racial equity. They’re also increasingly working to engage people of color, women and LGBTQ people in their efforts, working with racial and ethnic affinity groups such as Black Nonbelievers, which runs an annual Women of Color Beyond Belief conference, and the Latinx Humanist Alliance to do so.
Check out the full essay here.
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to pursue these efforts while working on articles and other projects.
For anyone interested, I will be speaking at the following places in the coming weeks. Tickets for the conferences are still available!
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)
Peter Schmidt is a Wisconsin Republican who appears to be a lock for a seat in the State Assembly in November’s elections. His party is hell-bent on blocking civil rights for LGBTQ people and openly pushing policies that make their lives worse.
Schmidt himself supports discrimination against LGBTQ people by Christian business owners, opposes transgender girls competing in women’s sports, wants parents to be able to “obtain professional counseling” for their trans kids so that the parents can “reach their desired outcomes,” and opposes adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in the state’s non-discrimination laws.
You know where this is going…
Schmidt is now downplaying his past same-sex flings in an effort to stay on the good side of conservative Christian voters.
In a police incident report I obtained, Schmidt said someone filmed him performing oral sex on a colleague who worked on his family’s farm. (Encounters like those, he said, happened “many” times. Always consensually.) That footage, however, was somehow obtained by someone else… who attempted to blackmail him with it.
While the extortion is criminal, and outing him publicly is unethical, the hypocrisy overrides all of it. Someone who wants to be in power to hurt gay people doesn’t get to keep his own homosexuality a secret. Just ask Ted Haggard.
Back in May, 27-year-old John Channels pulled out a handgun and began shooting inside Catholic Charities in Omaha, Nebraska, leading workers to scream and scatter at the sight of bodies and blood on the ground, doing anything they could to avoid the shooter.
There were no gunshot victims that day, however, because the entire thing was staged. The gun shot blanks. The bodies were actors. The blood was fake. Everyone was in on it… except the workers themselves.
It was all part of an active shooter drill requested by the Catholic group’s leaders and designed by Channels. He’s now “facing five charges of terroristic threats and one charge of weapon use,” according to the Omaha World-Herald. (That’s in addition to the separate charges of sexual assault and production of child sexual abuse material.)
Michigan Republicans have selected Kristina Karamo as their nominee for Secretary of State, putting the Trump-worshiping, Satan-believing, sex-negative, homophobe one step closer to overseeing the state’s elections.
How extreme is she? Well, just watch this now-deleted video from 2018 in which Karamo claims Satan is poisoning Americans because too many people were having pre-marital sex or practicing homosexuality.
Someone who blames Satan for all of society’s problems shouldn’t be leading a church, much less holding a leadership position in a secular democracy.
She sure as hell shouldn’t be running statewide elections.
Valley Christian Academy, a religious school in Santa Maria, California, said it would forfeit an upcoming football game rather than play an opposing team that has two girls on the roster.
It won’t surprise you that they’ve done this sort of thing before, justifying that move at the time by saying “Football is a violent game.”
It’s fine if they forfeit the game—better than whining about being persecuted—but it would be far better if the Christian school was punished by having to forfeit all its games this season.
Let them scrimmage all season amongst themselves. It shouldn’t be a huge adjustment considering they already live in a Christian bubble.
The Boston City Council used to pay clergy members to deliver an invocation at their meetings and only stopped the practice after The Satanic Temple requested the same opportunity.
That “pay-to-pray” revelation came during a deposition of Christine O’Donnell, Boston City Council Compliance Director and Staff Counsel, late last week as part of a lawsuit the Satanists filed against the city in early 2021.
My takeaway? Boston knows what church/state separation looks like. It’s bizarre that, not long ago, they were literally paying clergy members to give invocations at meetings, a practice that shouldn’t have been happening in the first place.
Speaking of which, after rehashing an old story about After School Satan clubs, white nationalist Dalton Clodfelter said non-Christians shouldn't be allowed to hold elected office... and that The Satanic Temple's Lucien Greaves should be charged with treason.
Greaves told me in a statement:
I’m not familiar with this little Dalton fellow in the video, and I suppose that my immediate concern should be whether or not he’s attached to violent radicals, as he’s calling for me to be tried for treason. But, to be honest, it looks too much like a campaign video made by a kid running for middle school class president to be intimidating.
Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Texas, may be one of the most prominent Christian leaders you’ve never heard of, mostly because he’s the current president of Acts 29, a major evangelical “church planting” network that gives giant wheelbarrows full of cash to men who show promise in starting and leading churches that adhere to a strict conservative interpretation of Christianity.
That may not be for much longer, though. Chandler announced on Sunday that he’d be stepping away from the pulpit indefinitely after admitting to an inappropriate online relationship with a woman on Instagram.
He said their DMs were not “romantic or sexual,” but they were “unguarded and unwise” to the point that they were “revealing some unhealth in me.”
(His statement comes around the 22:00 mark below.)
If anyone knows what any of that verbal vomit means, I’d love to hear it.
I firmly believe there’s more to this story. The only question is when the details will become public…
But while we’re waiting, just watch this:
By the way, just as I was about to send this, another Christian leader who knows Chandler well insists this is all a big fuss over nothing. Just the “Billy Graham Rule” taken to extremes.
If that’s true, then the entire church ought to be condemned for dragging Chandler through the mud over a nothingburger.
Back in July, at Redberry Bible Camp outside Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a boy approximately 13 years old was found on the ground, bleeding from his nose and writhing in agony. Instead of rushing him to the nearest hospital, a Bible camp staffer decided to… perform an exorcism.
And then the staffer announced he had eradicated the demon possessing the boy.
And then the staffer handed out his business cards to all the kids watching all this horrifying spectacle unfold.
And then the staffer told all the kids they’d have to stay in touch with him forever because only he knew how to rid the demon that could possibly possess all of them.
And by the way, the staffer was hired to work with kids despite his past pornography and drug addictions, despite admitting to domestic violence, and despite getting fired from his “previous job as a camp counsellor.”
Just another week at Bible Camp.
It’s troubling that North Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2024, fantasizes about watching everyone else suffer.
For what it’s worth, those are metaphors in the Bible. He seems to think they’re literal…
I love coffee. But Pastor Ed Young, Jr. is making me hate coffee.
Remember those Arabic-language "In God We Trust" signs that atheist Chaz Stevens was going to mail to Texas schools because a new law requires them to display donated IGWT signs? One school district has now rejected it, saying they already have a poster from a Christian group and they’re not legally obligated to display all of them.
Stevens has now set up a form for suggestions on where all his other posters should go.
By the way, Stevens has competition from LGBTQ allies:
Now, State Sen. Bryan Hughes, who sponsored this legislation, is trying to fix the problems he created.
In a letter to the state’s Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, Hughes elaborates on his intentions. He says that the wording of the law requires posters to say “In God We Trust” in English because that’s the way it’s written in the law itself. He also says the law requires schools to display “a durable poster or framed copy.” Singular. So even if multiple posters are donated, schools only have to display one of them.
Whether any of this will work in a potential legal battle remains to be seen.
Keep messing with Texas, everyone :)
The former dean of Agape Boarding School, a Christian school with a very disturbing history, allegedly hired guys to abduct a teenager, handcuff him, and drive him 27 hours to... Agape Boarding School. All with the boy's mother's permission.
mmrBoth adults now face up to five years in prison.
Evangelist Franklin Graham is giving Mike Lindell a run for the money in the race for dumbest person with the largest platform.
Obviously, the government already asked Trump for the documents in question and he didn’t return them, which is the only reason the FBI went to his residence to get them back.
One of the Supreme Court’s biggest blows to church/state separation in the past term has effectively achieved nothing. The bang became a whimper because the conservative Christians in Maine who wanted taxpayer money to fund religious schools—and then got that opportunity from the Supreme Court—have now realized they’re better off on their own.
They’re rejecting state funds in order to keep their anti-LGBTQ policies in place.
It’s not how I expected this story to end, but it’s a reminder that state lawmakers can still nullify the damage done by the Supreme Court.
It’s amazing how many lies you can tell a gullible audience when you say you’re Christian.
Still waiting for the IRS to enforce its own rules… (And, yes, this is the father of the coffee guy from above.)
No one understands the importance of letting "reality guide our world" more than the people obsessed with Satan.
A reminder for all those staffers working to get Democrats elected…
Ryan Burge 📊 @ryanburgeHere's how important evangelicals are to electoral politics. In 2020 - 37% of all votes cast for Trump were from evangelicals. For Biden - no group got above 20%. https://t.co/aKpKi3RpY2
In case you’re wondering why young people no longer go to church…
Of all the videos about the "Scamilton" controversy (where a Texas church illegally put on a Jesus-tastic version of Hamilton), this one by Avery Talks About Stuff is VERY well done and extremely thorough:
I think God is trying to send Creationist Ken Ham a sign.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, says feminists invented the word “career” in order to make work seem more appealing. It won’t surprise you to learn she’s lying.
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 17: The Israelites don't have a lot of faith in Moses and his brother Aaron. So God's creating a little miracle to show everyone who His favorites are...
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, the anticipation is killing me:
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