WEEK IN REVIEW: Where did Joe Kennedy go?
The future of church/state separation, political endorsements from Jesus, a present for Liberty U’s football team, and more!
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Imagine my surprise when I began watching the new NBC Peacock series Shadowland, all about how conspiracy theorist spread and affect people, only to see myself on screen:
Didn’t know that was gonna happen.
Anyway, two of the six episodes feature conspiracy theorist and hate-preacher Greg Locke, and the show is fairly accurate in how they portray him. He’s a confident speaker who realized years ago that trolling liberals was far more powerful and appealing than talking about Jesus. He openly brags on camera about how the anti-gay and anti-trans videos he posted on Facebook helped his page get verified and gain tens of thousands of followers in a relatively short amount of time.
The show also includes footage of Locke chumming it up with Republican operative and convicted felon Roger Stone before Stone’s appearance at his church. The show includes footage of him burning books in a bonfire. Locke openly speaks to the producers about how COVID is a hoax and how Bill Gates and George Soros helped “steal” the 2020 election. He also shows some fear about getting subpoenaed over the January 6 insurrection attempt, though that has never transpired because Locke, as far as we know, wasn’t involved in the organizing nor did he enter the Capitol. (In a book he published this summer, Locke suggested the whole insurrection was a hoax.)
And yet when he preached on Wednesday night, Locke told his circus tent congregation that the show “made us look like idiots.”
Which is like blaming a mirror for your face tattoo.
I think it’s vital people understand what Locke and his allies are saying to each other when outside cameras aren’t watching. If that makes him uncomfortable, that’s his own damn fault.
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 events are still available!
September 24-25: 3rd International Humanism Conference on Social Justice (Toronto, Ontario)
October 30: Houston Oasis (Houston, Texas)
Joseph Kennedy, the showboating Christian coach who led performative prayers at midfield after Bremerton High School football games, spent years demanding his old job back, and took his case all the way up to the Supreme Court. The Court rewarded him with a victory, further eroding church/state separation, and requiring the district to give him his old job back.
Yet now that he has the opportunity to work with the team again, he’s nowhere to be found, according to a column in the Seattle Times. He’s too busy being a conservative celebrity to actually do the low-paying job he claimed he wanted back… which is precisely what atheist groups predicted would happen.
As any high school coach could tell you, the job is a sacrifice. You don’t get paid much and it takes a lot of time, but you do it because you love the students. You do it because what you get out of it is more valuable than a paycheck. When Kennedy used his platform to advertise his religion, it was clear the students were not his main priority. That’s why no one should be shocked that, even though everyone he fought against is now legally obligated to bend over backwards to accommodate him, he’s moved on.
He never cared about the kids, the team, or the job. He only ever cared about himself.
Last week, during the “Pray Vote Stand Summit” in Georgia, hosted by Christian hate group Family Research Council, Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the audience that they had a religious obligation to vote a particular way or else they were being “unfaithful” to God.
By particular way, of course, he means Republican. Because conservative Christians are just the MAGA base by another name.
This is especially rich coming from Mohler, who wrote in mid-2016 that conservative Christians should not vote for Donald Trump because they could not “allow a national disgrace to become the Great Evangelical Embarrassment.”
It’s telling that Mohler has becoming the very embarrassment he once decried.
At that same summit, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma claimed that God showed approval for his state’s extreme abortion ban by… making it rain after a drought.
Lankford didn’t mention that the drought is still ongoing or that the rain in question was more of a flood that created its own chaos.
No surprise coming from the state’s second most famous climate denier, his Senate colleague James Inhofe taking the crown.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently asked me (and a few other defenders of the Good Wall) where we go from here. After a string of devastating losses in the ultra-conservative Supreme Court, and Christian Nationalists taking over several state governments, was there a path forward?
My response? Hope isn’t lost but we all need to call out the problem for what it is so that decent people across the country, religious and non-religious, recognize what we’re up against.
The irony is that the Religious Right has spent decades fighting for the kind of power and control they have today, and yet our country has never felt more divided or weakened. It’s hard for conservative Christians to argue that their beliefs have made the country better for everyone, and it’s up to us to constantly point out how they’ve hurt us. The more people realize that, the more we can mobilize them to run for local office, vote in swing districts and retake control of a government that’s been hijacked by religious zealots who have no respect for the Establishment Clause and who think separation of church and state is a myth.
You can read my full response as well as the other ones right here.
Yeshiva University, a private Orthodox Jewish school with campuses in New York City, has decided to shut down all undergraduate clubs rather than allow an LGBTQ group to meet following a Supreme Court decision that’s designed to be temporary.
It marks the second time in a week that Orthodox Jews are in the news for making the worst possible decisions when they easily could’ve done the bare minimum.
I’m still shocked that parents can be shocked when their kids’ private Christian school institutes anti-LGBTQ policies. But some parents are finding out that reality the hard way.
The Charles Finney School, a private Christian school in New York, recently updated its policies to ban openly LGBTQ students.
One parent reacted, “It goes against everything I thought this school stood for because the Bible says that Jesus loves everyone regardless… You are specifically singling out one particular group of children, children that are no longer welcome in your school.”
No kidding. That’s conservative Christianity for you.
(That parent has since removed her kids from the school.)
As I mentioned last week, rapper Kanye West has opened his own private Christian school where parents have to sign NDAs. It’s also understaffed and unaccredited. I assume the mascot is just a red flag. Even more bizarre? The school doesn’t explain what it means when it says it’s “Christian,” even though statements of faith are usually front and center at other religious schools’ websites.
It also doesn’t help that Donda Academy’s former executive director Beulah McLoyd quit the job, pointing to “philosophical differences”:
“We had philosophical differences about the level of stability that is required to educate students in an effective way,” McLoyd says in response. “As an educator with over 22 years of experience in the field, I always put children at the forefront of any decision I make. Consequently, I moved on.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence.
This won’t end well. The only question is how bad things will get.
Is this trolling or coincidence? It’s hilarious either way.
When Liberty University comes to UMass for an October 8 football game, UMass plans to celebrate “Pride Day.”
UMass doesn’t have a particularly good football team, but they apparently drafted the finest trolls in the country.
Liberty, of course, has long been one of the most homophobic Christian schools in the country. Campus Pride ranks it among the “Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth,” a fair assessment given that the school will expel anyone in a same-sex relationship. It’s also the former home of Jerry Falwell, Jr. who allegedly enjoyed watching another man have sex with his wife, but whose sex life received a pass until his antics finally caught up with him.
I should say at least one other school has pulled the same stunt recently, but it’s not clear if UMass was inspired by them or did this independently.
You won’t believe this, but Eric Trump lied, claiming at a recent rally that Christians were under attack.
Trump said people are trying to get rid of God in society when the only thing atheist groups have ever seriously done is try to prevent government officials from treating Christianity like some sort of default faith for their communities.
Earlier this summer, 18 former students of the Christian Centre Academy (now called Legacy Christian Academy) in Saskatoon told the CBC about how they suffered while attending the private religious school. One was subject to a “violent exorcism” to cast out his “gay demons.” Another was placed in “solitary confinement” every day for two full weeks.
Making matters worse was that the school received government funding for decades. It amounts to roughly $700,000/year today.
The victims have since filed a class action lawsuit against the school and the Saskatoon Christian Centre Church (now known as the Mile Two Church) which oversees it.
But the man who ran the school and the church during that time, Keith Johnson, appears to have disappeared, making it much harder to serve him the legal papers.
This is a formality more than anything else, but Johnson’s actions suggest he doesn’t want to face accountability for what he supposedly did.
Conservative Christians want to control your children.
If only there was a word conservatives had to describe those who attempt to coerce other people’s kids into their lifestyles…
On a similar note, the biggest critics of public schools have no idea what actually goes on in public schools.
These people know exactly who their Lord and Savior is.
This is fascinating: Evangelical Christians strongly disagree on core matters involving their faith… but widely agree on “culture war” issues and politics. Which suggests “evangelical” is quickly becoming a more useful cultural description than a religious one.
No matter how much they invoke the name, Jesus is irrelevant to these people.
A reminder that Idaho cult leader Doug Wilson fantasizes about a city where non-Christians and LGBTQ people have effectively been wiped away.
Christian pseudo-historian David Barton will never stop lying about American history to suit his agenda, and the Christians who take him seriously will never fact-check anything he says, so thank goodness Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch is here to do it:
I made this video about Peter Schmidt, a Republican candidate for the Wisconsin State Assembly, because wannabe anti-LGBTQ lawmakers who have a *very* hypocritical past deserve to be exposed:
I know way too much about the personal life of fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 20: The Israelites are complaining about a lack of food and water, but a very consequential rock will come to the rescue. God will not be happy about that.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, The Onion knows all:
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