WEEK IN REVIEW: Why do Uber and Lyft let drivers proselytize?
The power of Secular American voters, a disgraced pastor’s return to the pulpit, Kirk Cameron, and more!
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This may not be the biggest story in the world, but it’s a perfect example of how powerful companies are letting bad behavior slide because religion is involved.
While both Uber and Lyft have strict rules prohibiting religious discrimination, there’s no rule blocking drivers from proselytizing and attempting to win new converts. And Christians know it.
A recent Associated Press article and plenty of older tweets feature riders frustrated by preaching drivers. This isn’t just some minor annoyance either. There’s no way for passengers to know what might make a driver snap. How many of them smiled and nodded, or pretended to want to hear about Jesus, because they worried about what might happen if they said they weren’t interested?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is now calling for both companies to revise their policies to stop drivers from taking advantage of their captive riders by attempting to win new converts.
My coverage of this controversy got further attention from Raw Story:
As always, I appreciate your support through Patreon and Substack, which allows me to write about these stories while working on other projects.
Two trends in America are finally converging in a way that could become the dominant story of future elections: More Americans are leaving organized religion, and nonreligious voters are crucial to Democrats and their agenda.
The Associated Press, which conducts a massive survey called the AP VoteCast, says that voters without any religious affiliation—roughly 22% of all voters—backed Democratic candidates and abortion rights “by staggering percentages” during the midterms.
I analyzed those numbers and wrote about what it could mean for Democrats… if candidates and elected leaders care to listen.
Are (white) evangelicals backing away from Donald Trump? You might think that if you read this headline at Semafor:
The article is mostly a short list of prominent white evangelicals who appear to be done with Trump. They’re fed up with his fixation on the 2020 elections and they’re disturbed by his more recent meetings with white nationalists (Nicholas Fuentes) and antisemites (Kanye West).
But don’t let the headline fool you. White evangelical leaders are more interested in power than principle, and if Trump wins the GOP presidential primary in 2024, they’ll quickly flock to his side… again.
It’s exactly what they did in 2016 after the hateful speeches and Access Hollywood tape. Today, no one should expect conservative Christians to take the moral high road when we have years and years of evidence of them scraping the bottom of the barrel.
This Christian’s anti-sex video is troubling…
… but April Ajoy’s response is glorious:
Three months ago, megachurch pastor Matt Chandler, who had a history of downplaying sexual misconduct in his church, stepped away from the pulpit after sending "unwise" DMs to a woman on Instagram.
Now he's back and he doesn't want to talk about any of it.
What changed between three months ago and now? What exactly did he do? How did church elders set up his rehab? Who is he apologizing to? Anyone?
We can’t assess whether the church went too far or didn’t go far enough without knowing the true nature of the Instagram conversations. Given his track record, though, the public would be wise to assume the worst. He hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.
Someone should elect this guy to Congress:
Members of The Family Foundation, a Christian hate-group, were outraged after their reservation was canceled at Metzger Bar and Butchery in Richmond, Virginia. The restaurant’s staff found out that they were people who fight against civil rights for LGBTQ people, deny the existence of trans people, and want women to give birth against their will, and refused to serve them.
They have every right to do that and it’s not religious discrimination for reasons I explain here, but it’s ironic that the same Christians who routinely file lawsuits so bakers and florists and wedding website designers can discriminate against LGBTQ people are shocked to be the receiving end of perceived persecution.
Christian evangelist and former TV star Kirk Cameron claims public libraries are censoring him even while welcoming drag queens and hosting LGBTQ-friendly events. He and his publishers told FOX that they reached out to 50 libraries to see if they would sponsor events in which Cameron would read his book to kids.
They wanted the libraries to advertise the events on their websites and market the readings as they do other children’s events. Naturally, many of them said no. They also reminded Cameron’s team that they were always free to reserve (or rent) space in the buildings and hold their own events.
Cameron could have taken that option. He didn’t. There’s no victimhood in that.
As one tweeter put it, all future stories involving Cameron should include “Drama Queen Story Hour” in the title. I’m mad I didn’t think of it first.
This is troubling in part because it’s not the first time it’s happened.
On Tuesday, atheist Joseph Richardson of the Central Florida Freethought Community was slated to deliver an invocation during a meeting of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners in Florida. He gave an excellent speech, thanking the commissioners and staffers for their hard work and urging everyone to keep their “hearts and minds open.”
Perfectly fine. Completely non-offensive.
But then, moments after Richardson was done, Fred Schneider from the local Public Works Department was invited to give a second invocation. A replacement invocation. A Christian invocation. Because, apparently, the secular one didn’t count.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has now sent a letter to the commissioners in Lake County, calling their actions “discriminatory, unconstitutional, and a slap in the face to all of Lake County’s non-Christian citizens.”
Set aside some time to read this excellent-but-disturbing piece (gift article) about a very messed up situation. Two guys went down a COVID misinformation rabbit hole full of conspiracies, Jesus, and Satan. It didn't end well.
Richard Dawkins did an interview with The Australian (paywalled) before a recent series of talks in the country, and some of the answers are… not ideal.
Get ready to cringe for two straight minutes. (Not because of what he’s into but because of how he talks about it.)
Happy Satan-mas to all who celebrate:
I don't care about his size, but evangelist Joshua Feuerstein said he would become a registered Democrat if he didn’t hit his goal weight by this week. Is anyone going to hold him accountable…?
You know things aren’t going well in South Dakota when conservative Christians make news for angering the Republicans in charge:
The framing of this week’s Supreme Court case involving a bigoted Christian wedding website designer has been incredibly frustrating:
If you’re looking for a summary of the oral arguments, Andrew Seidel has a terrific rundown:
I really wish the Creation Museum's offices had a livestream so I could see their faces as they read this article about how ancient DNA (more than a few thousand years old) holds hidden secrets.
The monarchy is bad and yet evangelist Ray Comfort found a way to make it worse:
This Onion tweet feels strangely appropriate in light of that:
Here’s one more legal story that didn’t get much attention…
In September, an appellate court ruled 2-1 that Texas Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack, who opened courtroom sessions with coercive Christian prayers, could keep doing it, reversing an earlier decision.
Now the full 5th Circuit has upheld that egregious mistake. No word yet on whether the Freedom From Religion Foundation will appeal, but since the Supreme Court is the only option and their decision is a foregone conclusion, this may be the end of the line.
Steve Wells, the author behind the incredible Skeptics Annotated Bible, has started a podcast where he and his wife summarize each chapter of the Bible... but without the boring parts (i.e. the "begats"). Definitely worth checking out!
Do nearly half of all Americans really want to live in a "Christian Nation"? A recent survey said so. I went through the data and made this video.
Fundamentalist Christian grandmother Lori Alexander, a.k.a. The Transformed Wife, took us on a ride…
And now for your weekly dose of fundie insanity and right-wing preaching:
This week in Atheist Bible Study? Numbers 31: Moses needs to make sure the Midianites are destroyed. In a book full of gruesome, unjustifiable cruelty, this is one of the worst.
I spoke with my co-host Jessica Greiff about many of the stories in this newsletter during this week’s podcast:
Finally, congratulations to Sen. Raphael Warnock for his runoff victory. The Christian defeated Christian Nationalism.
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