A Minnesota psychology professor caught the attention of conservative pundits this week after tweeting that God impregnated the Virgin Mary without consent.
Eric Sprankle, Psy.D, an associate professor at the Minnesota State University, angered Fox News host Tucker Carlson and guest commentator Mark Steyn with his Monday comments.
He wrote: "The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays."
He later added: "The biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying 'no' negates her 'yes.' To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst."
The professor's stance failed to impress during yesterday's airing of Tucker Carlson Tonight, with the host and Steyn left fuming over what they called the "dismal" state of atheism in America. They didn't appreciate Sprankle's use of "Satanic ornaments" on his Christmas tree.
A Fox News article also pointed out that his bio included the line "Ave Satana," or "hail, Satan."
"Fifty years ago, this kind of shallow banality would be something the province of a drunk undergraduate at three in the morning," Steyn said when asked about the tweets.
"The idea that God has got the Virgin Mary back to his pad, and she's saying 'I really must go,' and he's saying 'baby, it's cold outside'...I miss the days when atheists were at least intelligent enough to take seriously what they were purporting to knock down," he said.
Steyn continued: "The stupidity and banality and shallowness and reductiveness of this is a dismal comment on the state of atheism in America. They don't seem to make the same kind of Ramadan jokes as they do Christmas jokes. It's odd that isn't it; I wonder why that is, Tucker."
But, Jeff Bezos?
The host interjected that religious critics never target the owners of technology companies.
"It's not even brave," Carlson responded. "They never criticize Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world. Or Apple. Tim Cook. Or Google. They suck up to people in power and then beat up on evangelicals and call themselves, you know, countercultural. I mean, it is pathetic."
Also during the show, the pair reacted to the story that a teacher in Nebraska had been placed on administrative leave after banning a range of Christmas items from use in her school.
The principal decided to outlaw candy canes because "historically, the shape is a 'J' for Jesus" and said Christmas colors including red and green should not be used in classroom lessons.
"When you are actually banning colors, when you are banning two of the colors on the color spectrum—red and green—so there's only orange, yellow and blue left, you are bonkers," Steyn said, as Tucked smirked. "You're nuts. You have flown the coop of reality. You are living in a more bizarre fantasy than Santa, his reindeer and his elves could ever come up with."
Tucker Carlson Tonight reacted to the story under the banner "Candy Cane Crisis."