“I Lost Control of My Body” – Escape Chapter 12: Accident

Prepare yourselves for a ridiculous amount of victim-blaming, financial abuse, sexual and reproductive coercion, and food insecurity. Ain’t being an FLDS wife great?

Eleven months into her travesty of a marriage, Carolyn Jessop becomes pregnant. She suffers horrible morning sickness. In the best traditions of religions everywhere, she’s promptly blamed for being ill:

Within the FLDS, any personal problem is seen as the direct result of sin. Serious emotional or physical problems were considered a curse from God. It was also dangerous for a woman to show any incapacitation related to pregnancy because it was viewed within her family as a sin of rebellion – unless, of course, you were Barbara, for whom the double standard applied with regard to her crying bouts during her pregnancy.

Not only do her sister-wives think God has a mad because Carolyn must have fucked up somehow, they also accuse her of being violently ill several times a day just to get attention. And women in this culture, reduced to virtual property and valued only for how many babies they can manage to squeeze out, are often the ones most keen to tear a fellow wife down. Women are pitted against each other in a precarious struggle for pitiful scraps of power. These systems could not survive if they didn’t get their victims to willingly participate in their own victimization, and help keep each other down. No one’s going to encourage women to band together and help one another find their power. The system is set up to reward backstabbers and crush revolutionaries. And, while one woman can acquire considerable power by playing by the rules, she’s at risk of being torn down by the jealous others if she gains too much of their husband’s favor. [Read more…]

“The Shell of a Human Being” – Escape Chapter 11: Honeymoon

Merril Jessop, arguably one of the worst husbands and fathers in the FLDS, decides after two weeks of being wedded to two new wives that the whole family needs a honeymoon. He’ll take his six wives and thirty-four children to the San Diego Zoo. In order to carry out this cunning plan, he rents a bus and assigns an elder son as the driver. But he does precious little else to arrange things, because that’s the sort of asshole he is.

Hold tight, kids, cuz this is gonna be quite a memorable trip.

Content note for rape, neglect.

Of his six wives, one is too detached from reality to know what’s happening. One is too depressed and neglected to give a shit. One is too much of a sociopath to lift a finger. One is too busy trying to curry favor with her new husband to do practical shit. That leaves Carolyn and Cathleen to prepare enough food and pack enough clothing for five days away with a family the size of an over-crowded elementary school classroom. [Read more…]

Adventures in ACE XVII: “Satan is Like an Iceberg” and Other Important Earth Science Facts

You know, I laugh, I do, when I’m reading these creationist textbooks, and I see the ridiculous religious bullshit being passed off as important facts about earth science. And then I recall the important fact that children are actually being taught that this shit is Genuine Science™, and my laughter dies.

And ACE is pretty much the worst. This section of ACE PACE 1087 demonstrates why. [Read more…]

“Coming Undone” – Escape Chapter 10: Cathleen and Tammy Marry Merril

Welcome back to our ongoing Escape review! If you need to catch up, the complete series is here. We’re about to finish Chapter 10: you can find the first half here if you want to refresh your memory. I know it’s been a long time!

CN: Mental illness, ableism, domestic violence, abuse and neglect.

Merril Jessop has two new wives. Tammy has to personally turf one of his daughters out of a bedroom so that she has a room in the same house as her unlawfully-wedded husband. Cathleen, gentle-natured one, is installed in the younger boys’ room, forcing them to squeeze in with other brothers. Lest you think Merril gave her a room because he actually likes her, note that he immediately skedaddled with his favorite wife, Barbara, leaving Cathleen to care for 28 children pretty much by herself. Ruth and Faunita are too consumed by psychosis and depression to help, Carolyn’s at college, and Tammy could give two shits about other people’s children.

So yeah, Merril married Cathleen for political power, and then moved her in because he needed a nanny. Proper Prince Charming, ain’t he just.

And when she finally confronts Merril about it, he tells her to learn how to do stuff from his elder daughters (who are completely MIA) and that she needs to take a nap.

Husband of the fucking Year material right here, yo.

Meanwhile, Tammy’s only concern is how she can get moved into the house and persuade her new hubby to fuck her rather than fuck her over. Yep. He married her, but he still hasn’t slept with her.

When Merril gets home from his post-wedding business trip, he chooses to deal with Ruth’s psychotic behavior by ignoring it. Cathleen about loses her shit, because the man of the family is falling down on his job:

In the FLDS culture, people believe that the mentally ill have invited evil spirits into themselves. Cathleen could not fathom why Merril would allow a wife who’d been taken over by an evil spirit to be running around his home and scaring his children with her bizarre behavior.

Such a healthy attitude towards mental illness. *fatal eyeroll* [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXI: Wherein Seismology is Annoyed, and Extinction is In

After all ES4’s introductory nonsense about operational vs. historical geology, it’s nearly a relief to get into a discussion of the earth’s structure. However, seeing all seismic waves defined as sound waves rather curbs any enthusiasm: they’re their own things, people, even if p waves share sound wave characteristics.

It’s also not pleasant when we discover they think seismic waves slow down at the Moho. They, in actual fact, speed up, from about 6 kilometers per second to about 8 kilometers per second. These aren’t negative numbers, BJU people. Larger is faster, just like on your speedometer. Sheesh. I’m beginning to think you know nothing of seismic waves. (Also, you’ve made the average crustal thickness too thick by about 20 kilometers, FYI.)

They do a ho-hum job explaining matters from the asthenosphere to the core, skimming details or omitting them altogether in a way that makes me suspect they have little idea what they’re talking about. Then, when we reach the core, it just gets weird. Despite the fairly firm grasp we’ve got on the properties of it, they act as if geologists just throw up their hands and exclaim, “Can’t nobody know what that’s like!” Sure, it’s hard to imagine the immense temperatures and pressures down there, but that’s what science is for. Do a search on Google Scholar, and you’ll find plenty of papers talking about it. There are lots of lines of evidence that have led to our current knowledge of what the core is like, and although there are many blanks to fill in, the outline is pretty solid. So all this “Many geologists don’t even try to guess what the core material is like” and “We cannot imagine” and “geologists believe” the outer core is liquid and the inner is solid – all that’s just the creationist way of throwing out massive chaff in hopes of confusing their students. What the students will find, if they look beyond their appalling education, is that we do try and can imagine and are, actually, pretty damned sure we know a thing or two about the earth’s core.

Wondering why creationists are so desperate to deny what we know? Me, too! The clue is in the following paragraph: [Read more…]

Updated for 2015: Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Religion Books Suitable for Gift-Giving

Ohai! It’s another midwinter holiday gift giving season, and you’ve probably got a reader or dozen on your list. Did they give you some titles? Fantastic! Gift giving shall be easy, and if you purchase through this link, you can get your gifties and support ye olde blog, too. No list? No problem! I’ve got you covered with a super-awesome, super-gargantuan guide to many books suitable for secular gifting.

Through the next couple of weeks, I’ll be updating our lists with additional titles. Here’s a wonderland of atheist books not previously listed in our Super-Gargantuan Guides!

Image shows a dark gray kitten with its back hunched, standing on a book. Caption says, "I know it's a spellbook. I'm quite familiar."

[Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus NOW AVAILABLE!

It’s here, just in time for the midwinter holidays! I read the Book of Exodus so you don’t have to, and pulled out the juicier bits. All retellings guaranteed 110% snarky.

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is now available worldwide at Amazon:

United States  ♦  Canada  ♦  Mexico  ♦  Brazil  ♦  United Kingdom  ♦  Germany  ♦  France  ♦  Spain ♦  Italy  ♦  Netherlands  ♦  India  ♦  Japan  ♦  Australia

The story of Exodus is often portrayed as a heroic rescue from slavery and an epic journey to freedom. What it’s really about is God’s neglect, followed by lots of malicious destruction meant to show the Egyptians and Israelites who’s LORD. Then there’s a bumbling escape, complete with thirst, starvation, and mass murders caused by the incompetent and sadistic God. The rest of Exodus is basically God being really picky about the clothes, accommodations, and sacrifices he expects from these poor escaped slaves. This book will give you the big pin you need for deflating Christian claims about the awesomeness of their God. And it’ll make you see Exodus in a light you may not have anticipated. Especially useful for redirecting tedious conversations about that wretched Exodus: Gods and Kings movie. Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is the perfect book for anyone who wants a look at the Good Book without any rose-tinted lenses in the way. Get your copy today!

Also available: [Read more…]

Religious Terrorists Are Killing the Women They Can’t Control (But They’re Not Islamic)

You’ve of course heard about the shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood that left three people dead and many more injured. There are all kinds of people running around right now trying to claim ridiculous shit, like the terrorist who shot up the place was a “gentle loner,” or was a leftist transgender woman. None of that’s true. We don’t know much about the asshole who did this, but we do know that all his neighbors were scared of him, he was an anti-Obama jackass who fell for those fake Planned-Parenthood-sells-murdered-baby-parts stories, and he was a Christian.

A lot of media outlets, politicians, and other people won’t want to call this terrorism, but it is. It’s a very specific form of terrorism, and it’s not just the shooter who’s the terrorist. There are many terrorists and their supporters involved in this attack and others that Planned Parenthood, along with various other abortion providers, have suffered. Some of them are running for President of the United States. [Read more…]

Pregnant? Don’t Go to a Catholic Hospital Unless You Enjoy Risking Your Life for Other People’s Religious Beliefs

Imagine going to a hospital, and being told that although they could fix the problem that brought you there quite easily, they won’t do anything for you until you’re dying. Imagine lying in a bed, in pain, terrified, begging to be treated, and being told no. Not until your condition has progressed to the point where you’re gravely ill and at risk of losing your life. Then you can have the simple procedure that could have prevented all your suffering and ensured your survival. Maybe. If the doctor isn’t so terrified of losing their job that they wait until it’s too late, and you die before they get round to treating you. In which case, if you haven’t had the proper magic water sprinkled over you, you’re assumed to be burning in hell for eternity for the crime of having a medical emergency.

This is basically the situation when someone having a miscarriage goes to a Catholic hospital for treatment. Let me tell you what one of my abiding fears is: it’s that I’ll have a crisis in my ladyparts, and the only hospital within a hundred miles is Catholic. Allow me to show you why.

Content Note: description of medical crises and interventions, pointless suffering, medical torture, treating a doomed fetus as more important than a born human being. [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XX: Wherein Creationists Misrepresent Secular Scientists for Jesus!

Oh, joy! After a fallacy-filled introduction featuring a two-faced jackass, Earth Science 4th Edition is gonna teach us all “geology.” After they’re done with us, we’ll be able to “explain the dangers of viewing the history of the earth as very old and as the product of natural processes.” We’ll also be equipped to “exercise dominion on God’s specially created earth.” And wow, look at this… interesting… history of geology right here:

People have been studying the earth for a long time, probably since right after the Creation and Fall (see Gen. 4:22).

O-kaaaay… so do tell us how a verse about a woman having a son who was good at making metal stuff proves people studied the earth in a systematic fashion.

After the Genesis Flood, people needed geology to identify new sources of metals and building materials.

Oh, yes. Creation myths are great science texts. Such proof. Much evidence.

They also seem to think there was no geology in Medieval Europe, as Renaissance folks had to discover that science from other people’s writings. So I guess that means they didn’t need any building materials, then?

Image shows facade of St. Giles' Cathedral, a large, gray-brown stone cathedral with many spires, arches, and buttresses.

St. Giles’ Cathedral, built in the late 14th century – positively medieval! Image courtesy Carlos Delgado (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Oh, my.

Well, but surely nobody in the Middle Ages was in the market for metal. [Read more…]