Once you recognize that resurrection is a metaphor, you’re free to ask, “OK, but are there any *better* metaphors?” And the answer is yes. Bowling. It has all the same allegorical potency, is truer to life, generally comes w/ beer, and has no holiday you’re obliged to celebrate.
In video snippets on his evangelical upbringing, such as his Christian education, Abraham Piper, whom his father revealed in 2012 had become an unbeliever at the age of 19, has attracted a following of almost a million followers as of Monday evening after posting his first video in November. His videos have also amassed nearly 15 million likes.
“In a real class at a school that charged real money to parents to give their kids a real education, I was taught that the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin all had satanic messages in their music. But this was the ’90s — 25, 30 years after these bands were in their prime,” he said with wincing sarcasm.
“So let’s say my teachers were telling us the truth and it wasn’t just fear-mongering propaganda from another little ‘ministry’ hiding out in Colorado. Why didn’t the devil have anything new to tell us? Shouldn’t we have gotten that demonic head nod from Green Day or Nirvana? Maybe Garth Brooks?” he asked. “Anyhow, these lessons took place between teaching us how to defend Young Earth Creationism and protect ourselves from secular humanism which, in case you didn’t know, is the root cause of every single atrocity that took place in the 20th century, if you went to my high school.”
“Is one of my themes attacking Christianity? No. I don’t attack Christianity. I berate evangelicalism. Fundamentalism. It’s a destructive narrow-minded worldview. And one of the most destructive, narrow-minded aspects of it is that its adherents feel as if they are the entirety of Christianity rather than the tiny sliver of it that they actually are,” he argued.
“Evangelicalism is a toddler tradition that’s cousins with Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy and the snot-nosed little sibling of mainline Protestant denominations. So yes, I’m out here saying that fundamentalism is bizarre anti-intellectual bulls–t. But that’s not me attacking Christianity. Christianity is a big family. I’m just saying that one of the kids is being kind of a brat. And most of the rest of the family agrees,” he added.
Four years after Abraham Piper was excommunicated from his father’s church for turning away, he returned to the faith and was restored. He later walked away from his faith again and has not returned to it since.
Taylor Brown, a New Testament Ph.D. student at Baylor University opined on his dislike for both Pipers in a comment on Twitter Monday: “Abraham Piper seems just as bad as his dad with saying dumb stuff but just in an insufferable exvangelical way instead of an insufferable hyper-Calvinist way.”
The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that states with laws or policies prohibiting transgender-identified biological males from competing in women’s sports will lose opportunities to host championship events and tournaments.
The NCAA Board of Governors released a statement Monday stating that it “firmly and unequivocally” supports “transgender student-athletes” being able “to compete in college sports.”
“Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee,” stated the NCAA.
“Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport.”
The statement explains that NCAA policy “directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”
“We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants,” the board’s statement concluded.
The NCAA’s statement received the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, which expressed support on Twitter.
“Today the NCAA confirmed it will pull events from states with bills banning trans students from participating in school sports,” tweeted the ACLU. “State lawmakers take note: discriminating against trans youth is wrong, against the law, and costly.”
Ryan T. Anderson, head of the Ethics & Public Policy Center think tank in Washington, D.C., who authored a book critical of the transgender movement, took exception to the ACLU’s description of the NCAA statement.
“I don’t know of a single state that bans ‘trans students from participating in school sports,’” he tweeted. “Smart states, though, have policies saying physical competition should be based on a student’s biology not ‘gender identity.’”
The NCAA statement comes as some states have in recent weeks passed “Fairness in Women’s Sports” legislation to prevent transgender-identified biological males from competing in women’s and girls’ athletic contests, and vice versa.
The Family Policy Alliance, a conservative Christian organization that lobbies state governments, criticized the NCAA statement as an attempt to bully states that have acted to protect women’s sports.
“Today, the NCAA made it clear that it is willing to prioritize its own power over the opportunities available to its female players,” stated Family Policy Alliance Vice President of Strategy Autumn Leva.
“In the face of political pressure, the NCAA Board of Governors has shown, yet again, that what matters most to them is their own bottom line.”
Last month, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 354 into law, also known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”
“I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully,” stated Hutchinson at the time.
“This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”
On March 11, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law a similar bill. Later in March, Tennesse passed its own version of the bill.
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem issued an executive order to ensure that “only girls” will “play girls’ sports.” The order came after Noem vetoed a “Fairness in Women’s Sports” bill that passed the Republican-controlled legislature.
Noem had earlier expressed concern with part of the bill that would ban transgender-identified biological males from competing in women’s sports at the collegiate level because of how the NCAA might react.
“South Dakota has shown that our student athletes can compete with anyone in the country, but competing on the national stage means compliance with the national governing bodies that oversee college athletics,” Noem tweeted on March 19.
In a March 22 press conference, Noem stated that legal experts told her that the odds of the state winning a lawsuit against the NCAA over such a bill “are very low.” During the press conference, Noem announced the creation of a multi-state coalition focused on “protecting women’s sports.”
“Once we have enough states on board, a coalition … big enough where the NCAA cannot possibly punish us all, then we can guarantee fairness at the collegiate level,” she argued.
Idaho became the first state to pass a “Fairness in Women’s Sports” bill last year, a law that has faced a setback in federal court.
Theologian Al Mohler has cautioned Christians against giving too much or too little attention to the “occultic, the demonic, the satanic,” emphasizing that the devil achieves victory by either being “made too important or by being ignored.”
On Monday’s episode of The Briefing, Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, examined an article published at Vox that investigates the societal fear of the occult that has impacted the United States and other parts of the world for decades.
“Satanic Panic” truly began in the 1960s and 1970s — and received heightened attention well into the ‘80s and ‘90s — Vox wrote, adding that society’s fear and obsession with the occult “never really ended.”
“Satanic Panic never truly went away. It’s alive and well today, and its legacy threads through American culture and politics,” Vox added.
Though events like the Manson murders and the release of the film “The Exorcist” exacerbated people’s fears, Mohler explained that what was actually behind the so-called “satanic panic” was a “sense of America going out of spiritual control.”
“There was a concern about the growing presence of cults and sects in the United States, S-E-C-T-S. Cult and sectarian movements that included everything from the Moonies of the Unification Church to Harry Krishnas. You could go on and on,” he said.
But as a Christian theologian, Mohler noted that Christians are “always looking at a dual danger.”
“The danger is giving too much attention to the occultic, the demonic, the satanic, or too little,” he said. “When you look at the victory of the devil, that victory comes by either being made too important or by being ignored. The Bible doesn’t ignore and the Bible certainly does not make the demonic, does not make Satan himself, does not make demons, does not make the occultic anything larger than that over which Jesus has triumphed.”
Still, Mohler said that the Vox article and the “reality behind it that spans several decades” is also an artifact of “a secularizing America, that is simultaneously secularizing and becoming more and more theologically confused.”
“If nothing else, this reminds Christians of a great opportunity and indeed a profound responsibility … to look at the world, including the United States, the nations of the West, the entire world as a mission field that calls us, a mission field in which the reality everywhere is spiritual confusion, confusion that must be confronted with the clarity of the [G]ospel of Jesus Christ everywhere to everyone until Jesus comes.”
Mohler’s comments on society’s fear of the occult come on the heels of the recent controversy surrounding Lil Nas X and his latest music video “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” in which he descends down a pole and gives Satan a lap dance.
In collaboration with the Brooklyn-based company MSCHF, the singer also released 666 pairs of limited-edition blood-infused Nikes dubbed “Satan shoes.” The shoes are decorated with a pentagram pendant and a reference to Luke 10:18: “And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’”
Both the release of the Satan Shoes and the music video, announced ahead of Palm Sunday, drew criticism from conservative and Christian leaders from Franklin Graham to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, with the former condemning what he dubbed as “a dangerous marketing endeavor.”
In an op-ed for The Christian Post, Michael Brown, host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program, stressed that Christians “must not underestimate Lil Nas X’s influence on children in general” and called the sneakers “a momentary (yet demented) publicity grab.”
Still, he advised readers to “concentrate on the real satanic evil in the world around us.”
“I’m talking about the sexual trafficking of children. About rape and murder. About hatred and violence and injustice. About abortion and the destruction of the family. About deception and spiritual delusion,” he wrote.
“So while it is understandable that the sneaker announcement has garnered attention, we should keep our focus where it belongs, namely, on combating the real work of the devil in our society.”
Brown pointed out that “there will always be something sensational related to Satan,” and “something satanic will be in the headlines.”
“The reality is that these occasional, sensational stories will always be here. Let them be a reminder of the devil’s real presence in society rather than a distraction from his evil agenda,” he wrote.
A coalition of advocates and sex trafficking survivors have detailed to U.S. Congress the myriad ways one of the world’s largest pornography sites has concealed the sexual abuse of children for over a decade and has “built an empire” off criminal copyright violations.
In a congressional briefing that took place last Thursday hosted by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the advocates continued scrutiny that Pornhub has come under in recent months as it has already faced questioning from lawmakers in Canada.
MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub and other popular porn websites, has faced mounting accusations that its companies have hosted child sex abuse videos and other non-consensually recorded content, including videos of rape and sex trafficking.
“MindGeek’s empire of exploitation is built on the monetization of sexual abuse and exploitation of children,” said sex trafficking survivor Brook Bello of the Sarasota, Florida-based More Too Life. She called for it and Pornhub to be shut down.
The heightened pressure on Pornhub has intensified since early 2020 as more survivors have come forward with their stories of exploitation, and a petition was launched that garnered over 2.2 million signatures calling for the website to be shut down because of its links to trafficking. The petition came as The New York Times published an article by columnist Nicholas Kristof titled “The Children of Pornhub” in December.
A Pornhub survivor named Serena, whom Kristof interviewed for his article, shared Thursday that the man who exploited her also uploaded a video of her to Pornhub. And when she contacted the website pretending to be her mother to demand the company take the video down since she was only 14, Pornhub took weeks to respond.
The video was taken down only to reappear there days later, Serena detailed.
“I’d have to do this over and over and over again,” she said, noting that she would tell the company that the videos were during a dark time in her life, and she was a minor when it was filmed.
She explained how Pornhub made her go through many steps to prove her identity and said the company made her send photos of herself with an ID card next to her face.
She said the video set her on a destructive path of dropping out of school, drug use and becoming homeless. She wound up with an older guy who convinced her that since she already had an online presence, there was nothing wrong with making money in the same way.
“It wasn’t something that a 14-year-old should have had to deal with, let alone continue to deal with all the way up until I’m 20 now. And just after the [Kristof] article, that’s when Pornhub started deleting all of their videos. And I haven’t seen a video of myself up there again,” she said.
Offering a legal perspective, Serena’s attorney, Michael Bowe, shared during the briefing that her story is indicative of what has happened to thousands upon thousands of women. In the span of just one year of investigation, the attorney has spoken to and investigated over 100 stories that sound very similar to Serena’s plight, he said.
“And the impact … doesn’t end with the assault or the posting [of videos on the site]. It takes life away from women, and it derails their life,” Bowe told congressional staffers, emphasizing that lawmakers need to understand that the porn industry is not occupied by responsible corporate actors.
“This is not Apple. This is not IBM. It’s not Microsoft. This is an industry which, for various reasons, grew up in illegality. The most obvious and mundane illegality is that the entire industry, this online porn industry, particularly Pornhub and MindGeek, the mack daddy of them all, built its empire on criminal copyright violations.”
“They basically stole millions and millions of legitimate adult entertainment videos, put them up there, all of which was criminal,” he added. “And they made a fortune, between $500 million and $1 billion a year.”
The companies knew that child sexual abuse content, trafficking and rape videos were on the sites and they did not care, he said. The attorney argued that their carelessness reflects the entire industry that is inherently rogue and can’t be trusted to self-police.
Current federal legislation on the books in the U.S. is dated and from the pre-internet era, Bowe added. He asserted that Pornhub and MindGeek do not believe that existing laws apply to them.
“What needs to happen is the statutes need to be updated so that there is no loophole and no ambiguity. … There needs to be a clear obligation that they ensure that the content that’s on their site is consensual and of age,” he stressed.
Laila Mickelwait of the group Exodus Cry, who launched the petition to shut down Pornhub last year, highlighted six areas of criminal content on the website: sex trafficking, child sex abuse material, rape, incapacitated sexual assault, “revenge porn” and hidden-camera/spycam abuse.
“Videos on Pornhub have obvious indicators of illegality, of criminal sexual abuse,” Mickelwait explained, noting that some videos contain tags such as “middle schooler” and “young teen.”
Content moderators who have come forward said that Pornhub could flag illegal content and disturbing comments. But what the site did instead was hide and censor the troubling signs, Mickelwait said.
“They have spent over a decade concealing the sexual abuse of children on their site, making zero reports to relevant authorities and child protection agencies,” she added.
Since December, five lawsuits have been filed against Pornhub on behalf of trafficked women and minors, while calls for criminal investigations have occurred in both the U.S. and Canada.
“The evidence of crime is overwhelming,” Mickelwait said at the close of the briefing.
She stressed that three things need to happen: a formal government hearing in the U.S. as Canada has done, the passing of preventative laws to respond in a regulatory fashion to the evasive porn industry and a criminal investigation and prosecution by the Department of Justice of MindGeek and Pornhub.
“A slap on the wrist for MindGeek is a slap in the face for the countless survivors who have had their lives completely destroyed by this predatory company,” Mickelwait concluded.
Terry Forliti of Breaking Free in Minnesota, also a survivor, emphasized that extensive movement occurs between several fronts of the commercial sex trade. Women are recruited into pornography from stripping or prostitution, trafficking victims are videotaped and the material is posted on pornography sites that they have no control over. People who are recruited into adult films are then pressured to escort, she explained.
“The commercial sex trade tries to create false borders between the legal industries like stripping and illegal crimes like sex trafficking,” Forliti said. “These lines are more blurred and coercion is deeply embedded in all forms of the sex trade.”
She continued: “the physical and psychological harms of being exploited on a platform such as PornHub is similar whether you’ve been in the life, or you were passed out and somebody uploads a video of your sexual abuse.”
“In both cases, you lose control of intimate images, and it’s a massive violation of your privacy,” Forliti said. “And this has a long-term impact on your sense of security, ability to form long-term relationships and can lead to other addictions and coping mechanisms.”
Online sexual abuse is becoming increasingly common, she believes, because there is no legal check on such abuse.
Author and researcher Christine Stark was trafficked as a child in the 1970s and 1980s in an organized sex trafficking and porn ring. Because victims have no control over the use of the images that are widely distributed, they have no closure from the abuse they endured.
“I’ve lived my entire life dealing with the harms of being tortured and also knowing that those images are being used over and over and over again,” Stark stated. “It’s like being used all the time for the rest of your life, psychologically, knowing that that is going on.”