Answers in Genesis’s Statement of Faith Becomes More Strident

(Guest post by Dan Phelps)

Many of you are aware that Answers in Genesis (AiG) has a very strict Statement of Faith (SOF). Until early this year the SOF was in this form. This original version was retrieved via an internet “Wayback Machine” search. On March 5, 2021 this updated and expanded version of the SOF was posted to the AiG website without fanfare. This newer SOF is even more strident than the old one and actually adds several requirements that previously were not mentioned. One has to wonder if there was some internal conflict in AiG’s ranks that led to the additional dogmatic statements.

The original version of the SOF was problematic to most thinking people for a number of reasons. Scientifically, it required signers to believe in a young earth and universe as well as ascribe most of earth’s geologic record to Noah’s Flood. Even more damming is the statement:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

This statement is a very clear science stopper. How could science be done when the results are already known dogmatically? Furthermore, the SOF has specific statements concerning non-scientific subjects that exclude non-Fundamentalist Christians and anyone who is pro-choice or partakes in sexual activity that AiG finds offensive or belongs to groups AiG finds offensive. Here is a sample:

“The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one naturally born man and one naturally born woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God.“

Making questions of sexual orientation equivalent to bestiality and incest is particularly hateful. However odd and bigoted as these tenants are, AiG has every right to require the above tenets of their SOF when hiring staff for the AiG ministry itself or the Creation Museum (which is officially part of AiG’s ministry). However, these strict faith-based requirements almost lost the for-profit Ark Encounter $18.25 million in Kentucky Tourism tax incentives in 2014. The Ark Encounter’s for-profit corporation (officially called Crosswater Canyon) repeatedly and publicly told the state of Kentucky that they would not discriminate in hiring or require workers to sign the SOF when the project was announced in late 2010. The entire project was promoted to government entities as a way to bring “JOB JOBS JOBS!!!” to a financially troubled area. Simultaneously, Ken Ham and AiG’s spokespeople would slyly tell religious audiences that the project was about religious proselytizing. Rick Skinner, Mayor of Williamstown, Kentucky, home of the Ark Encounter, posted this statement to Facebook in March 2014 (since removed) when defending the creation of $62 million in junk bonds for Ark Encounter:

In July 2014, in the midst of the controversy over the Ark Encounter receiving the $18.25 million in tax incentives from Kentucky Tourism, AiG posted a help wanted advertisement for the Ark Encounter requiring that potential employees sign the SOF (and adhere to numerous other religious based requirements). This was a major mistake on their part. I discovered this and wrote an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader. This op-ed led to closer scrutiny and Kentucky revoked the incentives. In late 2014, AiG sued in Federal Court for the right to simultaneously receive the incentives and discriminate against anyone who would not sign the SOF. Surprisingly, a Federal Judge agreed with AiG in an early 2015 decision. By this time, Kentucky had a new, religiously conservative Governor, Matt Bevin, who would not appeal the decision. Governor Bevin also appointed new members of the Tourism Cabinet. These appointees were all supportive of the Ark project. Thus, the Ark Encounter was legally allowed to discriminate in hiring and only hire workers that will sign the SOF. Ark Encounter continues to receive $1.825 million dollars every year in tax incentives from the state and will continue to do so until 2026.

On March 5, 2021, AiG posted a new version of their SOF. This is somewhat more lengthy, detailed, and (remarkably!) strident than the original version. The new SOF is also more detailed on various sundry theological requirements. Especially disturbing are new tenets that attack social justice, transsexuals, and other non-gender conforming individuals. The SOF states:

“The concepts of “social justice,” “intersectionality,” and “critical race theory” are anti-biblical and destructive to human flourishing (Ezekiel 18:1–20; James 2:8–9).”

And also:

“Gender and biological sex are equivalent and cannot be separated. A person’s gender is determined at conception (fertilization), coded in the DNA, and cannot be changed by drugs, hormones, or surgery. Rejection of one’s biological sex (gender) or identifying oneself by the opposite sex is a sinful rejection of the way God made that person. These truths must be communicated with compassion, love, kindness, and respect, pointing everyone to the truth that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking his mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:26–28, 5:1–2; Psalm 51:5, 139:13–16; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 1:20–21, 19:4–6; Mark 10:6; Luke 1:31; Acts 3:19–21; Romans 10:9–10; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Galatians 3:28).”

Another bizarre addition is that one must believe that hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis are caused by human sin:

“Human death (both physical and spiritual) as well as all animal death, disease, bloodshed, suffering, extinction, thorns and thistles, and all other natural evils (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.) entered this world subsequent to, and as a direct consequence of, man’s sin (Genesis 2:16–17, 3:8, 3:19, 4:4–8; Romans 5:12, 8:20–22; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).”

I recently learned that Answers in Genesis (AiG) has rented Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) Grant County facility to use for job fairs to interview perspective employees for positions at the Ark Encounter. These job fairs are scheduled for April 22, May 6 and 20, June 2 and 17, July 15 and 29, and August 12. I am not a lawyer and cannot comment on the legality of NKU allowing AiG/Ark Encounter to use the Grant County property. In fact Northern Kentucky University could actually be legally obligated to provide the site to AiG. I informed NKU of the contents of the SOF and made them aware that they have a reputation to protect and should be aware that AiG and the Ark Encounter have a history of bigotry, hatred, and discrimination against numerous protected groups. I also mentioned that the Creation Museum had accepted the donation of a dinosaur skeleton valued at $1 million from a white supremacist and former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South. The reply I received only indicated that NKU’s attorneys had already reviewed their rules for room rental, but I was not provided the actual policy.

It remains to be seen if AiG will continue to use government entities for their benefit. AiG has been particularly talented at using Kentucky, Grant County, and Williamstown to their advantage with relation to the Ark Encounter. One suspects that this behavior will continue in spite of their discrimination and bigotry.

Teaching in Kansas sure must be different

The pedagogical methods of Mark Samsel wouldn’t fly here. In fact, they weren’t even successful in Kansas.

Kansas state Rep. Mark Samsel was arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery on Thursday after getting into a physical altercation with a student while substitute teaching in Wellsville.

Samsel, 36, was booked into the Franklin County Adult Detention Center after 3:30 p.m. Thursday. He has since been released on $1,000 bond, Sheriff Jeff Richards said.

Superintendent Ryan Bradbury said that Samsel will no longer be allowed to work for the district.

Yeah, he’s a Republican state representative, and he works as a substitute teacher. He’s screwing over the citizens of the state in two ways!

I can’t quite figure out what courses he was supposed to be teaching. It sounds like he thought he was in Sunday school, and was wandering about moralizing and wagging his finger at everyone and giving incoherent advice.

On Wednesday, Samsel, R-Wellsville, was substitute teaching at the Wellsville school district’s secondary school. Throughout the day, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible.

In one video shared with The Star, Samsel tells students about “a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times,” adding that it was because “he has two parents and they’re both females.”

“He’s a foster kid. His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who are gay,” Samsel tells students. “How do you think I’m going to feel if he commits suicide? Awful.”

In another video, Samsel is recorded telling students, “make babies. Who likes making babies? That feels good, doesn’t it? Procreate … You haven’t masturbated? Don’t answer that question….God already knows.”

He seems to have been harassing one student in particular.

At one point, Samsel tells the student, “You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God. Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me?” He then pushes him, and the student runs to the other side of the classroom.

“You should run and scream.”

In another video, he tells students, “Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls.”

Parents told The Star that Samsel “put hands on the student” and allegedly kneed him in the crotch. In a video apparently taken immediately after the incident, the student is shown on the ground. Samsel is standing over him and says, “did it hurt?”

He then asks him why he is about to start crying, pats him on the shoulder and apologizes, and then says he can “go to the nurse, she can check it for you.”

Samsel addresses another student and says, “do you want to check his nuts for him, please?”

Now he’s out, and he’s claiming that he meant to do that. He was “sending a message”.

In a Snapchat post shared with The Star, Samsel wrote that “it was all planned.”

“Every little bit of it. That’s right. The kids and I planned ALL this to SEND A MESSAGE about art, mental health, teenage suicide, how we treat our educators and one another. To who? Parents. And grandparents. And all of Wellsville,” he posted.

He wrote that he gave one particular student “hope.”

“I went to jail for battery. Does that really make me a criminal? Time will tell.”

He said that the incident happened during fifth period, and that the classes before that hour went as planned, and he shared the same lesson in each one. He said what happened was “exactly what God planned. The kids were in on it. Not all of them. But most.”

I have no idea what message he was sending. I do know that kicking your students in the crotch does make you a criminal, and I don’t believe for a moment that he was implementing a god’s plan. He was just an incompetent jerk who ought not to be allowed anywhere near a school. Or a statehouse.

Videos here. His classroom seems to have been nothing but self-indulgent chaos and Christian abuse. At least he has “apologized”. Sort of.

The Church Militant tries humor…badly

I’m weirded out here. This is a video put out by fanatical, old-school Catholics to tell their followers to obey Canon Law 1251. What is that, you ask?

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

That’s still a thing?

Anyway, in this video a caterer named Karen shows up at a church event with piles of meat. Lots of unappetizing grey, slimy meat and burgers that look like flattened hockey pucks and hot dogs on paper plates…you know, church food. She also, for some reason has a plush koala toy she uses to hypnotize people to eat her food, and also as an excuse to use a “koala-tee” pun, twice. She is defeated by a guy wearing a fish mask. I present it here as your Sunday morning venture into surreality.

What stuck with me is how dreadful the food looks. Photographing meat, and food in general, is hard, and these guys fail spectacularly at it. That’s just not the vegetarian in me speaking, either — the food is even worse than the humor, which is saying a lot.

“…your fine ointment, brand new and expensive Could have been saved for the poor…”

Christ.

First, I have to say that I can’t imagine choosing to sit around listening to “worship songs” on a Sunday morning. It’s like deciding to jump into a bush full of chiggers, as far as I’m concerned, and then, when that wasn’t sufficiently excruciating, stuffing fire ants in my ears. But this guy, Ben Kirby, was willingly inflicting televangelist noise on himself.

From his couch in Dallas, Ben Kirby began asking questions about the lifestyles of the rich and famous pastors when he was watching some worship songs on YouTube on a Sunday morning in 2019. While listening to a song by Elevation Worship, a megachurch based in Charlotte, the evangelical churchgoer noticed the lead singer’s Yeezy sneakers were worth nearly the amount of his first rent check.

Kirby posted to his 400 followers on Instagram, “Hey Elevation Worship, how much you paying your musicians that they can afford $800 kicks? Let me get on the payroll!”

Plus, Kirby wondered, how could the church’s pastor, Steven Furtick, one of the most popular preachers in the country, afford a new designer outfit nearly every week?

Now he’s happily filling up his Instagram account with photos of the exorbitant styles of preachers. Hey, I fill up my instagram with photos of spiders, and even I think that is creepy. I haven’t subscribed to his account because I really don’t need frequent reminders to know that televangelists are selfish, lying scum.

On his feed, Kirby has showcased Seattle pastor Judah Smith’s $3,600 Gucci jacket, Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes’s $1,250 Louboutin fanny pack and Miami pastor Guillermo Maldonado’s $2,541 Ricci crocodile belt. And he considers Paula White, former president Donald Trump’s most trusted pastoral adviser who is often photographed in designer items, a PreachersNSneakers “content goldmine,” posting a photo of her wearing $785 Stella McCartney sneakers.

I really don’t need to know the details.

In his book, Kirby writes that these pastors who have enormous social media followings aren’t just simply pastors anymore, he writes. Often they are motivational speakers, corporate coaches and leadership consultants. Kirby said he has heard of churches where a volunteer was designated solely for the purpose of carrying the pastor’s Bible. Often, he writes, these pastors have private entrances, reserved parking spaces, security details and a gaggle of personal assistants or handlers. And, often, they promise blessings from God to their followers if their followers bless the church.

Oh, stop it. I’m feeling sick.

Kirby notes how the fancy-sneaker-wearing preacher trend has taken off while the resale market for sneakers has also boomed. In 2019, Kirby posted a picture of Pastor John Gray wearing the coveted Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, selling at the time on the resale market for more than $5,600. If a pastor buys or receives a new pair of shoes as a gift with a lucrative resale value and chooses to wear them, it can demonstrate to followers that he can afford to not resell them.

We don’t even tax these assholes.

Across the United States, the biggest-name pastors and worship leaders produce best-selling books and albums, often earning huge salaries and housing allowances from their churches. And many of the biggest churches, which do not have to disclose their revenue publicly, often generate opulent untaxed revenue.

Ben Kirby still considers himself an evangelical Christian. I wouldn’t be able to stomach the hypocrisy.

FORNICATION!

The sin which got Sye Ten Bruggencate ostracized has been revealed by his church:

Following admissions by Sye ten Bruggencate of fornication with a vulnerable woman, and following a formal complaint (with evidence) by the woman concerning the particular admissions given by Sye, the Session has begun a full and thorough investigation.

Sye has been suspended from all privileges without limit of time while the church judicial process is followed.

I will admit that the church has been more swift and efficient in its response than some secular organizations.

Christian humor

Do Christians get the funny drilled out of them? I ask because I recently got this ad from Ray Comfort:

Don’t try to analyze it. It’s about as funny as a fart, which means you have to be in a certain state of mind to be amused, and even then, it’s not going to be a clever joke, let alone one of the “world’s funniest one-liners”. It’s just part of the Living Waters grift — you can buy the booklet for $10, which is probably almost entirely profit for Ray, especially since buying it would immediately put you on his mailing list of gullible people.

Oh, also, he gives the content away for free! The ordering info includes the complete text, which is nice. There isn’t much that’s funny in there, though.

101 of the World’s Funniest One Liners

1. Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
2. Borrow money from a pessimist — they don’t expect it back.
3. Time is what keeps things from happening all at once.
4. Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
5. I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.
6. Never answer an anonymous letter.
7. It’s lonely at the top; but you do eat better.
8. I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
9. Always go to other people’s funerals, or they won’t go to yours.
10. Few women admit their age; few men act it.
11. If we aren’t supposed to eat animals, why are they made with meat?
12. No one is listening until you make a mistake.
13. Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
14. We have enough youth. How about a fountain of “Smart”?
15. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
16. Campers: Nature’s way of feeding mosquitoes.
17. Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.
18. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
19. There are three kinds of people: Those who can count and those who can’t.
20. Why is “abbreviation” such a long word?
21. Nuke the Whales.
22. I started out with nothing and I still have most of it.
23. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
24. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
25. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
26. As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.
27. Laugh alone and the world thinks you’re an idiot.
28. Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let her sleep.
29. The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.
30. You can’t have everything; where would you put it?
31. I took an IQ test and the results were negative.
32. Okay, who stopped the payment on my reality check?

Editorial: Probably the most thought-provoking one-liner is “Eat right. Stay fit. Die anyway.” It’s sad but true — no matter what you do, you will die. This is because you have sinned against God. Let’s see if that’s true: Have you ever lied (even once)? Ever stolen (anything)? Jesus said, “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Ever looked with lust? If you have said “Yes” to these three questions, by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart; and we’ve only looked at three of the Ten Commandments. How will you do on Judgment Day? Will you be innocent or guilty? You know that you will be guilty, and end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He provided a way for you to be forgiven. He sent His Son to take your punishment: “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus then rose from the dead and defeated death. God promises everlasting life to all those who confess and forsake their sins, and trust in Jesus Christ. Please do that today . . . you may not have tomorrow. See John 14:21 for a wonderful promise. Then read the Bible daily and obey what you read. God will never let you down.

33. We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.
34. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
35. Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.
36. If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
37. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
38. Eat right. Stay fit. Die anyway.
39. My mind is like a steel trap, rusty and illegal in 37 states.
40. Nothing is fool proof to a sufficiently talented fool.
41. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
42. I’ve only been wrong once, and that’s when I thought I was wrong.
43. God made mankind. Sin made him evil.
44. I don’t find it hard to meet expenses. They’re everywhere.
45. I just let my mind wander, and it didn’t come back.
46. Don’t steal. The government hates competition.
47. Humpty Dumpty was pushed.
48. National Atheist’s Day April 1st.
49. All generalizations are false.
50. The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.
51. Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.
52. If you don’t like the news, go out and make some.
53. For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.
54. IRS: We’ve got what it takes to take what you have got.
55. I’m out of bed and dressed. What more do you want?
56. I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not too sure.
57. I can handle pain until it hurts.
58. No matter where you go, you’re there.
59. If everything is coming your way, then you’re in the wrong lane.
60. It’s been Monday all week.
61. Gravity always gets me down.
62. This statement is false.
63. Eschew obfuscation.
64. They told me I was gullible…and I believed them.
65. It’s bad luck to be superstitious.
66. According to my best recollection, I don’t remember.
67. The word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary.
68. Honk if you like peace and quiet.
69. The Big Bang Theory: God Spoke and BANG! it happened.
70. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
71. Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?
72. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
73. A day without sunshine is like, night.
74. The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
75. Corduroy pillows: They’re making headlines!
76. Gravity: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the LAW!
77. Life is too complicated in the morning.
78. We are all part of the ultimate statistic — ten out of ten die.
79. Nobody’s perfect. I’m a nobody.
80. Ask me about my vow of silence.
81. The hardness of butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.
82. The last thing on earth you want to do will be the last thing you do.
83. Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else get your way.
84. If ignorance is bliss, then tourists are in a constant state of euphoria.
85. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try skydiving.
86. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
87. Stop repeat offenders. Don’t re-elect them!
88. I intend to live forever. So far so good.
89. Who is “General Failure” and why is he reading my hard disk?
90. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
91. I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
92. Energizer Bunny arrested; charged with battery.
93. I didn’t use to finish sentences, but now I
94. I’ve had amnesia as long as I can remember.
95. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
96. Vacation begins when Dad says, “I know a short cut.”
97. Evolution: True science fiction.
98. What’s another word for “thesaurus”?
99. Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
100. A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.
101. I went to the fights, and a hockey game broke out.
. . . Don’t forget to read the editorial!

Right. The editorial is the whole point, that and the $10 and getting on his mailing list.

He doesn’t even include his very best joke!

Man, Christians can be scary people. How does he know what God says? If you snuck into his house and wired his bed with hidden speakers that whispered unspeakable suggestions to him all night, you could get him to do some very scary shit. I also hope he never gets schizophrenia.

3 out of 5 white evangelical Christians are poisonously stupid

Jan 6, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Protesters at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Congress meets to formally ratify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021.. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

But there are some good ones, principled ethical Christians who are appalled at the direction their congregants have taken, like Jared Stacy.

Jared Stacy is still processing his decision to leave Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., last year. Until November, he was ministering to young parishioners in their 20s and 30s.

But in the four years since he had joined the church as a pastor, Stacy had found himself increasingly up against an invisible, powerful force taking hold of members of his congregation: conspiracy theories, disinformation and lies.

Unfortunately, they’re outnumbered by the bad ones.

The lie is so powerful that a recent survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute shows that 3 in 5 white evangelicals say Biden was not legitimately elected.

Among them is Pastor Ken Peters, who founded the Patriot Church in Knoxville, Tenn., last year.

“I believe that right now we have an illegitimate president in the White House and he was not elected by the people,” Peters told NPR. “I believe the truly ‘We the People’-elected, should-be president is residing in Florida right now.”

On its website, the Patriot Church is described as a movement: “a church interceding on behalf of her nation.” That movement has a name: Christian nationalism. Some conservative evangelical circles have incubated and spread these kinds of conspiracy theories — some of which have led to violence – for years.

These people have totally ruined some perfectly reasonable words, like “family” and “patriot”, that have now become red flags to let you know that what follows is only hatred and paranoia and selfishness.

(By the way, I don’t trust the American Enterprise Institute, so it is entirely possible that white evangelicals aren’t as generally wretched as their poll suggests.)

I hope more Xians catch on to the big lies they’ve been sold

Isaac Bailey is not an atheist, but he makes the atheist case strongly.

I’m struggling to hold fast to my Christianity— because of Donald Trump. Not exactly Trump himself, though, but the undying support of the self-professed Christian pro-life movement that he enjoyed. My faith is in tatters because of that alliance. And I am constantly wondering if I am indirectly complicit because I dedicated my life to the same Jesus the insurrectionists prayed to in the Capitol building after ransacking it and promising to kill those who didn’t do their bidding.

If Christianity can convince so many to follow a man like Trump almost worshipfully—or couldn’t at least help millions discern the unique threat Trump represented—what good is it really?

Yeah? What took you so long, Mr Bailey? This isn’t a problem that suddenly appeared years ago — it’s been a property of the American political establishment since day one. It’s gotten worse in relatively recent years, since at least the 1950s, when the evangelical Christian movement was sinking their claws into our government, making lip service to Christianity a prerequisite for running for office. Where were you in the Reagan years, when cloaking oneself in piety and patriotism while practicing the politics of greed became de rigeur? This behavior flares up regularly in American history, where Christianity surges up and wrecks the country. How can you miss the corrupting influence of religion, and the hypocrisy of its most vocal advocates?

He seems to have been caught up in the most successful propaganda campaign American Christianity has waged: the “pro-life” movement, in which we get people worked up over a medical procedure and tell them it’s baby murder. It’s not, of course, but it has become such a deeply ingrained dogma that embryos are people from the instant of conception that you’ll never talk them out of it, and that lie is the wedge they hammer in to tell you that you have to vote Republican or you’re a baby-killer. But Mr Bailey is finally starting to see through it.

Trump oversaw a 200% increase in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria during his first year in office. He presided over more than 460,000 COVID-19 deaths, far outpacing any other industrialized country. He repeatedly demonized a group of men, women and children seeking refuge in this country from the violence and uncertainty they faced in their own. A man picked up an AR-15-style assault rifle and committed a massacre in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh after becoming convinced Jews were responsible for the despised caravan of vulnerable brown people. He murdered 11 people; how could Christians have supported the man whose conspiracy theory he quoted?

The body count didn’t end there, though. Trump incited an insurrection that resulted in at least five deaths, dozens of injuries and a stain on America’s reputation so severe it will be harder to get other countries to take us seriously when we demand that they honor life and not commit human rights abuses. Aided by “pro-life” Supreme Court justices, Trump was able to fast-track 13 federal executions during the final months of his presidency, the most by any president in more than a century. Even the abortion rate slightly increased in the middle of Trump’s term, a reversal from major declines during Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

If you can’t quite see yourself leaving Christianity fully (I did, it felt good and honest), at least let’s recognize that politicians claiming holy moral authority are all lying and that they are the last people you ought to elect to office.

The Christian Right poisons everything

I know Christopher Hitchens’ motto was that religion poisons everything, but maybe we should be smarter about parceling out the blame. Here’s a fascinating thread by Jane Carnall about the history of splitting out the “T” in “LGBT”. In Scotland, the alliance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people was basically taken for granted; in the US, the hate campaign against gay marriage was stopped cold by a Supreme Court decision. The Religious Right needed a new way to spew venom over non-cis non-heterosexual people, and they consciously decided that one way way would be to splinter the alliance.

So in 2017, at the Values Voter Summit held by the FRC (Patriarchy Research Council), they said it explicitly.

As Right Wing Watch also mentioned in their coverage of the same panel, a trend emerged during the session, as various speakers wrapped their opposition to nondiscrimination measures in rhetoric passing as progressive: transgender rights were depicted as anti-feminist, hostile to minorities and even disrespectful to LGB individuals. This seems to be part of a larger strategy, meant to weaken transgender rights advocates by attempting to separate them from their allies, feminists and LGBT rights advocates.

In her presentation, Kilgannon [a conservative activist] mapped out three non-negotiables in the fight against the so-called gender identity agenda, a conspiracy theory touted by anti-LGBT groups that disavows sexual orientation and gender identity. The first is to “divide and conquer. For all its recent success, the LGBT alliance is actually fragile and the trans activists need the gay rights movement to help legitimize them.” In other words, separate trans activists from the gay rights movement, and their agenda becomes much easier to oppose. As Kilgannon explained, “Trans and gender identity are a tough sell, so focus on gender identity to divide and conquer.” For many, “gender identity on its own is just a bridge too far. If we separate the T from the alphabet soup we’ll have more success.”

I’m rather impressed at how readily the Religious Right adopted feminist rhetoric to use against the open, tolerant views of LGBT feminists. Strategically it’s brilliant, even if it is hypocritical and morally repugnant, since they hate LGBs as much as they do Ts. They are consciously allying with a group they plan to stab in the back, once LGBT unity is weakened.

Kilgannon identified a wide coalition of potential allies outside the Christian Right who could confront trans friendly measures. Here’s her advice on how to draw them in:

Explain that gender identity rights only come at the expense of others: women, sexual assault survivors, female athletes forced to compete against men and boys, ethnic minorities who culturally value modesty, economically challenged children who face many barriers to educational success and don’t need another level of chaos in their lives, children with anxiety disorders and the list goes on and on and on.

The list could almost read like a manifesto for intersectionality, if it weren’t for its exclusion of some key groups, most notably transgender people themselves.

For Kilgannon, an example of effective coalition building includes the Hands Across the Aisle Coalition (HATAC), a group that unites religious and non-religious women to oppose transgender rights.

Yeah, good work, secular Americans. You were duped.

Let’s not forget that the Religious Right had reciprocal assistance from TERFs.

In many ways, there are possible allies to this pivot toward anti-trans secular movements: trans-exclusionary radical feminists, dubbed TERFs by some activists, have made waves in recent years. Some TERFs have reclaimed the term and redubbed themselves PERFs, penis-exclusionary radical feminists. Their rationale is that people who are assigned male at birth can never experience the same conditions as women do, and still hold on to their male privilege. (The latter becomes harder to prove in the face of the discrimination experienced by trans and gender non-conforming people.) As reported by Political Research Associates, trans-exclusionary feminists “may actually be guilty of drafting [the Christian Right’s] talking points, adding fuel to the fire of this dangerous anti-trans frenzy.”

I feel clarity coming on, like a nice cool draft of water. The barbarians who want to destroy our civilization and remake it in the stifling raiment of theocracy hate me for my atheism and science, despite the fact that I’m conventionally cis and hetero. They hate my friends who might be gay, or trans, or anti-authoritarian, or black, or liberal Christians, or Muslim, or any other that doesn’t conform to their views, and they are having remarkable success at picking off one narrow demographic at a time and weakening the bonds of our unity. We should know better here in the US, where the Religious Right has used single-issue rhetoric like an icepick against the body politic, splintering us into deeply divided blocs that they can manipulate. They’ve been using abortion, for instance, as a tool to get people to vote against their own interests, and now they’re gearing up to use anti-trans ranting to break us up further.

Stand strong, everyone. Don’t let disunity allow the Robertsons and Falwells and Copelands and all the other parasites to win.