The Week in Stupid

The Week in Stupid is a new feature that will highlight some of the more grandiose exhibitions of anti-intellectualism occurring in contemporary America. As anyone who observes the cultural landscape knows, America has a proud tradition of delivering inexplicable idiocy in the public arena. This is especially so in the realm of politics, where irrational statements and actions can be an asset in many parts of the country, but it also can be found in other areas: schools, media, and throughout popular culture.

The Week in Stupid will document some (but certainly not all) of this ongoing American tradition, with hopes that calling attention to it might prompt more of us to consider what can be done about it. Of course, with the topic being anti-intellectualism in American society, we’ll have a vast pool of material from which to select, so the hardest part of writing this column might be deciding which candidates for inclusion make the cut and which don’t.

Below are our inaugural entries, three examples of anti-intellectualism in America today. All took place within the last week, showing that Americans never have to wait long for the next act of buffoonery. Taking us on a tour of the Bible Belt, with stops in Florida, Texas, and Mississippi, here they are:



Prayer in public schools was declared unconstitutional over fifty years ago, but sometimes public officials just can’t help themselves. Almost always motivated by a need to put their Christianity on display for their constituents, some school committee members ignore the law and try to slip in a prayer to start their meetings. Since this isn’t so uncommon, the fact that the Okaloosa County school board in Florida started its meeting with a prayer this week would hardly be noteworthy—but this was no simple prayer.

As the video above shows, this school board meeting erupted into a full-fledged revival, with singing, preaching, and pretty much everything that you’d expect in a Sunday morning evangelical service. It seems the Christian community saw that a non-Christian invocation was going to be offered, and this resulted in a bombast of religious expression from the Christian faithful, who apparently thought that only their religion would be promoted at the meetings. After watching how this school board conducts business, one has to feel sorry for the kids of Okaloosa County.




It’s perhaps no surprise that Texas would make the inaugural issue of The Week in Stupid. The state’s governor, Gregg Abbott, this week declared his “full support” for placing the words “In God We Trust” on police cruisers. As I’ve written elsewhere, religious conservatives have launched a campaign to post “In God We Trust” everywhere and anywhere, an obvious effort to resist secularism and portray America as a Christian nation. Abbott, apparently oblivious to the fact that many of his constituents do not trust in God, ardently endorses this invidious practice. As the successor to a governor who launched a presidential campaign with a public prayer rally, who in turn had succeeded a governor who became known as one of the most anti-intellectual American presidents of all time, Abbott seems to be following in the footsteps of his predecessors.




Our final entry this week comes from Mississippi, where public school teacher Rick Hammarstrom, who moonlights as a Baptist preacher, told his students that atheists have their own day, “It’s called April Fool’s Day, because you are a fool if you don’t believe in God.”

Well, as they say, it takes one to know one. Hammarstrom, a history teacher, reportedly makes a regular practice of promoting his theology and denigrating atheists in the classroom, and this upset at least one of his students, who turned to us at the American Humanist Association for assistance. We sent a letter to the school district (which has already been found to be in contempt of a consent decree requiring it to operate within the bounds of the Establishment Clause). We’re still awaiting the district’s response.

Until next time, that’s The Week in Stupid.


(Note: If you have examples of American anti-intellectualism that you would like to submit to this column, please send them via the contact page.)


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7 replies
  1. ibanezerscrooge
    ibanezerscrooge says:

    Looking forward to reading your blog! One question I had with regard to the school board revival meeting… Were you or any of the other people up front invited to come give an invocation or was it an open invitation or what? None of the stories about this have given those details that I have seen. I get the impression that you were scheduled to give it and they all got up there with the express purpose of interrupting you and drowning out your “evil” “satanic” message. 😉

    Keep it up!

    • David Suhor
      David Suhor says:

      I’m the guy giving the unwelcome prayers. Facts were scant in most reports.
      This all happened in the 1/2 hour before the meeting started. It was Christians who organized a (3rd) prayer vigil in the meeting room. I asked to participate and they refused. So I exercised MY constitutional right to free exercise of religion – with predictable and ugly results. I hope they are as welcome when official invocations are given by non-Christians.
      The school board voted 3-2 to scrap their temporary policy of a moment of silence – when they each previously led Christian-only prayers for years. Instead, they will open up invocations to any 501c3 representative in the county – not just ‘clergy or laypersons” – per Galloway. They claim legislative privilege under Galloway and are getting help from some Christian legal “Foundation”. Their attorney could cite NO COURT RULING that says school boards are legislative. But they want to hear prayer, so they are looking for a way.
      Only two of us spoke for an inclusive moment of silence, which lets everyone pray (or not) according to their conscience. Most of the rest claimed Christian privilege.
      David – You wanna take this on if FFRF doesn’t? Or my local Escambia County schools – even worse. They refuse non-Biblical prayers and each SB member chooses someone they like, with full discretion to exclude others. They claim the prayers are for them (though they ask everyone to join in) and they shouldn’t have to hear prayer that is not Christian-friendly. They’ve discussed it stupidly and openly (see my blog for video). Yet they will offer no written invocation policy and refuse to answer attorneys from FFRF or AHA.

  2. Bethany Spielman
    Bethany Spielman says:

    That guy had to have a lot of patience to stay there. I’m a Muslim and would’ve left the second someone started praising Christ.

    This “meeting” is downright ridiculous and a joke.

  3. kfreed
    kfreed says:

    You’ll notice that the stupid emanates from the right of the political spectrum:

    The Daily Stupid featured at Right Wing Watch:

    Solution: remove them from public office – with votes. These tea partying nincompoops have no business holding public office. They are currently hold a majority in Congress, control over half of state legislatures (occupying Governor’s mansions in a great many states s well) and they have the majority on the Supreme Court. Next up: the Oval Office. Americans have only themselves to blame.

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