WEEK IN REVIEW: Why are there still apes?
A $100 million ad campaign for Jesus, the release of an alleged blasphemer, Herschel Walker's ignorance, and more!
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Some good news: After 10 years spent in a Saudi prison for the “crime” of “insulting Islam,” Raif Badawi was finally released.
But before anyone celebrates, remember that he never should have been locked up (or flogged or had to pay a fine) in the first place and that he’s still prevented from leaving Saudi Arabia to reunite with his family in Quebec. This is far from over. As long as blasphemy remains criminal, more people will be unjustly persecuted for something that should never be a crime.
If you read nothing else this weekend, check out this incredible article from Jill Lepore at the New Yorker about the battle over what’s taught in public school classrooms. While LGBTQ issues and racism are seen as controversial today, Lepore focused on the evolution battles from 100 years ago… and finds that the basis for those concerns back then were not that different from today.
”Lela Scopes insisted that her brother’s trial had never been about evolution: ‘The issue was academic freedom.’ Twentieth-century Progressives defeated anti-evolution laws not by introducing pro-evolution laws but by defending academic freedom and the freedoms of expression and inquiry. This approach isn’t available to twenty-first-century progressives, who have ceded the banner of free speech to conservatives.”
And if you watch nothing else this weekend, watch this video from Jo Beckwith, who makes YouTube videos about being an amputee. She recently spoke about how, as a former evangelical Christian, she was led to believe a lack of faith was responsible for her disability. When she didn’t get healed, she thought she had somehow let down God.
This month marks the launch of one of the largest and most ineffective religious ad campaigns in American history: A $100 million campaign (funded by anonymous donors) meant to shove Jesus in as many faces as humanly possible. That cash will pay for TV spots, billboards, and online ads that tell viewers one message about Jesus: “He gets us.”
But marketing Jesus comes with an inherent flaw: Most of the people using the product aren’t worth admiring. Between televangelists, megachurch leaders, Republican politicians, campus evangelists, hate-preachers, lazy apologists, everyone at Pure Flix, and Franklin Graham, the amount of harm caused by the most fervent Jesus followers can’t be understated.
Video about all this coming soon…
Rachel Hamm is a fundamentalist Christian running to become California’s Secretary of State all to pursue the fictional bogeyman of “voter fraud.” But every time she talks about her faith and why she entered the race at all, she comes off sounding like a lunatic.Rachel Hamm, a Republican running for Secretary of State in California, says witches at her preschool tried luring her into Satanism. "Literally."
During an appearance over the weekend at Sugar Hill Church in Georgia, U.S. Senate candidate and former football star Herschel Walker made it clear that he was a Creationist by asking, OUT OF NOWHERE, “why are there still apes?”
This would be less horrifying if there wasn’t an actual chance Walker could soon be in the U.S. Senate. But when you’re catering to the least informed voters, it’s always a race to occupy the gutter.
The governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, urged more drilling for fossil fuels in a speech this week. What about climate change, though? No problem, he responded: “If there is such a thing as climate change, I believe that He (God) will give us time, and the smart people will fix it.”
So, yes, we’re all screwed.
Speaking of ignorant Republicans, I know this is just an applause line for ignorant people, but you can't have "freedom OF religion" if rejecting it altogether isn't a realistic option.
We often criticize churches for allowing abuse to thrive within their walls. That’s why it’s important to recognize when ministries rightly call out one of their own. That’s what happened this week when reporter Daniel Silliman and editor Kate Shellnutt published a piece at Christianity Today documenting allegations of sexual harassment from two of their former leaders. Multiple women reported the abuse. Human Resources did nothing about it.
You’re going to love this bit from comedian Taylor Tomlinson, whose new special is on Netflix, about how growing up in a conservative Christian church messed with her as an adult. (I’m putting it delicately because this is a family newsletter, dammit.)
It should trouble everyone that the attorney general of Kentucky posted a video of his visit to Ark Encounter… and that his office won’t respond to open records requests about how the tour came about.
You may be familiar with the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ policy against receiving blood transfusions. The same rule applies to JW medical professionals who may be tapped to perform those transfusions. But there appear to be exceptions to the rule that are so convoluted, opaque, and hard-to-follow that it calls into question the religious basis for all of this. If you want to get into the weeds, read this Reddit thread.
Of all the ways Christians can help (and have helped!) the people of Ukraine, preaching at them while they try to get the hell out of the country is perhaps the least useful idea.
I don’t know why I watch preacher Joshua Feuerstein talk about anything, but it’s never good when fundamentalist Christians start offering marriage advice. And everything he does will make you cringe.Christian preacher Joshua Feuerstein and his wife, both human adults, refuse to watch movies with sex scenes because they consider it a form of adultery. Wait till you hear their analogy.
This may not strike everyone as a big deal, and some may condemn the very premise of it, but the Democratic National Committee’s Interfaith Council, which advises the party on matters of religion, will once again have atheist representation on it. I see this as a win-win, partly because Sarah Levin is an activist I admire tremendously, and also because it’s vital to have a voice at the table who’s not afraid to remind politicians of the importance of church/state separation and the necessity of including Secular Americans in any party-wide move.
Remember how hate-preacher Greg Locke vowed to expel the “witches” in his church? Two people accused of witchcraft finally spoke out… and, while they hold plenty of crazy beliefs in their own right, they make clear that the accusations against them are ridiculous.Pastor Greg Locke recently revealed the names of two of the supposed "witches" in his church: Gina Guy-Warren and Brian Warren. They told their side of the story tonight.Earlier today, Pastor Greg Locke threatened to expose the six witches who are members of his church. https://t.co/NSoTqQayQkHemant Mehta @hemantmehta
Speaking of which, Locke claimed to receive a letter from a witch. After reading it from the pulpit, he burned it on stage.
Why are people obsessed with the afterlife always so eager to take others with them…?
Some food for thought:
Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, is a fundamentalist Christian grandmother who spouts wildly unhelpful bits of advice on Twitter. This is just a sample from this week:
Nothing about this is accurate, but that’s never stopped Christians before…
When you can’t find actual examples of Christian persecution, just make them up like Jim Bakker.
Never take dating advice from the abstinence-only crowd:
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity:Christian hate-preacher Nick Gomez, who opposes divorce in all circumstances, has advice for any woman considering it: Just pray for the death of your husband.At his post-eviction makeshift church yesterday, Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley trashed "weak" men. By which he meant men who don't attend his church. For example, he said, it's hard to find a man these days who "hates f*gs. I mean, when I grew up, everybody did!"Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley wanted to work with an app that shares sermons... but things went sour after he learned the company bans "hate speech." "I said, 'Dude, I'm totally getting banned from your platform as soon as I start preaching.' Because love hates!"Christian hate-preacher Jonathan Shelley trashed female District Attorneys for not being cruel enough to alleged criminals. "They didn't even spank their own kids. And so how are they gonna actually execute criminals?"
And now for your weekly dose of Gene Kim:
I guess conspiracist Lance Wallnau is taking lessons from Gene Kim, too:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Leviticus 20, one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible. It's all about the punishments for sin. (And in the Bible, everything's a sin.)
On this week’s podcast, Jessica and I talked about many of the stories mentioned in this newsletter!
Finally, we all know what the worst gift ever looks like:
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 :)
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