Josh Duggar has some company in the penalty box, it appears.
I wasn’t going to say anything originally about Sam Rader, a YouTuber who came to notoriety over a bizarre stunt he staged regarding a pregnancy test, because he seemed pretty harmless, if a little wackadoodle. But the more I read about him the more I want to say something.
This professional Christian video blogger (or “vlogger”) showed up on Ashley Madison in their customer leak. And the funny thing is, that’s not even the worst part of this whole story. The way I see it, there is a bigger problem here than that yet another fundagelical husband was sneaking around behind his wife’s back.
As I see it, the problem here is more about Christians’ eagerness to embrace anybody who bleats the party line well and photogenically enough, even in the face of their idols’ bizarre behavior and very clear dishonesty–and their inability to live the message they preach. This guy is a very common example of the hypocrisy that infests his religion, and that’s what makes his story worth telling. So let’s get started.
Sam Rader is an attractive Christian guy who really seems to love publicity. About a year ago he and his equally pretty wife uploaded a video of them singing a song from Frozen together. It was viewed enough times that they started a whole channel devoted to daily uploads outlining their Happy Christian Marriage and Family.
He was always aching for fame, though. Like about half of his general age-group peers, the 29-year-old Mr. Rader wanted to be famous (and like 81% of those crazy kids, he very clearly wanted to be rich).
So earlier this month, he uploaded this absolutely surreal video of him surreptitiously dipping a pregnancy test into a toilet his wife had urinated into (and not flushed) to discover that she’s pregnant. He bounces up into her face while she’s cooking breakfast for him and their two children (his kids are indeed adorable, and his wife cooks breakfast in full makeup apparently). He shoves the test in her face, then hoots and hollers and mugs for the camera while she reacts in photogenic shock. The video went viral.
His attempt to parlay their newfound fame into a free trip to Legoland a week later backfired because the employee didn’t recognize them. He blamed the employees there for his “bunch of disappointed kids” instead of his own lack of planning and sense of personal responsibility. The video is awful, by the way; at the 3:50 mark he gives the camera this petulant look and whines about how he “drove an hour to get here” only to be turned away because the place had sold out of tickets. Then he gives this weird grimace and complains that the employee won’t let him “leverage his virality” to let them in for free anyway. It’s hard to watch the video without bursting out at my monitor about what a genuinely useless, whinybutt, entitled, fake-ass, manipulative swampy asscrack he seems like in the video.
As we’d have said back in the Deep South, the whole act is tacky–but he was still getting the kind of numbers that propelled him to get a real live manager and start talking about a possible reality-TV show.
The Facade Cracks.
The weird thing? Look at the datestamp on that Legoland video: August 9th.
Here is August 8th, where he and his wife talk about the 10-week miscarriage she literally just had the day previously, apparently right after they’d uploaded their August 7th video, which is just a few days after his pregnancy-test stunt itself was uploaded. She claims she felt her uterus “empty out,” incidentally. I’m not the only one to think that their tears look a little, well, unreal, but had the August 9th video looked a lot different I would have cut them a lot of slack.
The August 9th video is supposedly the grieving parents the next day after the wife’s miscarriage. The husband is perky and opportunistic still, but the really remarkable part of the video is his wife. Nia is seen in this ten-minute-long video out and about, totally physically fine and reacting with joy and cheerfulness to things happening around her. She’s out shopping and bragging about the haul she made in children’s clothes, playing with the kids at the Legoland displays out front, and pushing a baby stroller around (yes, this thoughtless dipstick not only doesn’t offer much at all in the way of comfort to his grieving wife, but makes/allows a woman who claims she just lost a 10-week fetus push a goddamned baby stroller). She lifts heavy houseplants at garden stores and photogenically cries over the fact that one is called an “angel plant,” and more. She appears in full makeup, nicely-done hair, and a minidress and leggings.
And look, it’s not like we all would react the same way to stuff, but this just looks so incredibly weird.
Oh, it gets worse.
In the middle of the video, Ms. Rader wears the official Whackjob Trying to Persuade Look* as she explains at length why she’s feeling better about her miscarriage:
A really good friend of ours that we’ve known for a few years, she reached out to me a couple of months ago and told me that she had had a miscarriage. She’s not someone that I talk to like daily or even weekly; she’s just someone from our past that we knew very well. And she said, “I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to reach out to you right now and tell you that I had a miscarriage this week.” And that was really it. We really didn’t talk about it again, which again I’m like such a dummy, I should have checked on her, I should have done all these things if I had just realized, I would have. And she messaged me today and she was like “I told you that God had me reach out to you two months ago for a reason and I didn’t know why and this could be why now, Him knowing that you would have needed me two months later and that we would be needing to go through this together.” Isn’t that crazy? [Her husband chimes in: “That is crazy. Wow.”]
You heard her right.
In response to hearing out of the clear blue sky that a woman she had known a long time ago had had a miscarriage, Ms. Rader totally blew her off. But now, ISN’T IT CRAZY? she asks with the perkiest Utterly Sincere Look ever on her face. This fairly common-but-devastating thing happened a couple of months ago to someone she actually kind of knew from a long time ago, and now it’s happened to her! Wow! It’s soooooooo crazy! Let’s not tell her how hard it is to find parking spaces at the mall. She might just decide she’s the next Prophet next time she goes shopping.
This lady is a self-described devout Christian (she and her family attend a small Dallas-area nondenominational church, which almost certainly means they’re basically Baptists). They’re standard-issue fundagelicals; I mean hell, they lost a sponsorship from Naturebox because of a now-deleted video in which they patiently tutor their daughter in homophobia by doggedly correcting her innocent declaration that gay people should be allowed to marry.
As Gawker went on to discover, Mr. Rader himself subscribes to every platform of evangelical Christianity there is. I’m not sure how many dogwhistles someone needs to hear before forming some distinct opinions about where these two stand on the topics of pregnancy and fetuses.
Thankfully, it also appears that no fetuses were harmed in the making of any of these videos.
No evidence was ever offered that she was really pregnant, much less that she miscarried. I didn’t notice a single hospital visit or doctor’s note (odd, since her husband was/is a nurse). Mr. Rader followed the fundagelical playbook to the letter as he battled these concerns, claiming that he was being persecuted for his TRUE CHRISTIAN™ beliefs by “haters” and indignantly declared that YES IT WAS STAGED–BY “GOD”–SO SHUT UP**. I was even more suspicious at that point; I agree with Gawker’s writers that it is downright weird that a fundagelical guy whose wife just suffered a miscarriage is making “jokes” like that, arranging play-dates at an amusement center one day after the supposed miscarriage, and is obviously totally chill with the idea of a god destroying a developing life in his wife’s body if it’s for a good cause.
Besides the general implausibility of the initial viral video setup and the sheer mind-boggling impossibility of their behavior one day after the supposed miscarriage, Buzzfeed talked to doctors who advised that dipping a pregnancy test into toilet water wouldn’t give a very reliable result–if it gave any result at all. They uncovered other problems with Sam Rader’s account, including that he told his wife in the August 9th video that he’d just quit his job as a nurse–which as Buzzfeed discovered was news to the hospital still employing him.
People began to openly question the couple’s various stories. The Raders released a video specifically responding to the questions and criticisms raised by their behavior by Buzzfeed, in which the indignant Mr. Rader seems way more concerned about “haters” than about the miscarriage itself. Interspersed with cozy cut-scenes of Ms. Rader and the adorable children doing adorable things is his (very petulant and angry-sounding) response: Buzzfeed obviously just “talked to the wrong person” at the hospital and sputtering that “it’s ridiculous,” followed up by the standard-issue fundagelical taunt to “haters”: “You’re a true blessing.” Yes, I’m sure he thinks so. I didn’t notice him offering any evidence at all to support his self-defense, either.
Now it turns out he had a paid Ashley Madison account in 2013, having paid the site about $200 to buy blocks of tickets with which to message female members of the site. He began the account shortly before uploading his first viral video using the account name “Dirtylittlesecretman28” and requesting “sneaky and cute” fuckbuddies who wanted to have sex outdoors with him. And then a few months later he was vlogging about how his wife Nia is a “gift” from his god and that he wants to be the kind of husband to her that he wants his daughter to marry.
In the inevitable response video uploaded after the Ashley Madison leak, with his wife right behind him to make supportive noises at the appropriate times, he trots out the Jesus Card repeatedly. He’s been forgiven and “washed clean.” He brought this sin to his “discipleship partner” and confessed long before it became public. It all happened before he started vlogging anyway so what the hell, man.
One notices that the viewcounts look a lot different now than they used to. The viral pregnancy announcement had over 14 million views, largely because it hit a lot of news sites. The miscarriage announcement had almost 5 million views. But the ones afterward tend to hit about half a million. That’s still quite a lot of views, most of them coming from sympathetic Christian supporters.
If this guy is so dishonest that he’d fake a pregnancy test for views and put his entire life on display to get money and attention, really the least shocking thing that could happen is that he might be sneaking around behind his wife’s back to find a sex partner more to his taste. I could have bought that he’d cleaned up his act if he had in fact cleaned up his act. But he didn’t. Leopards don’t change their spots.
And then there’s this.
When researching this story, I happened to catch what is currently the top comment on the “Forgiven” video made August 21st, and it made me curious.
Also I just talked to a few people that witnessed you threatening people with violence in the green room at #VloggerFair today which lead to you being ejected from the event and having your meet & greet cancelled. I find it strange that when the camera is on you try and act like you’re a loving, caring, god fearing family vlogger but when the camera is off you threaten people with physical violence to a level where you’re ejected from an event you’re a VIP at. You’re obviously a very different person off camera and it makes me feel really bad for Nia because I suspect she cooperates on a lot of things you want to do simply out of fear.
— Barnacules Nerdgasm
There was a big convention in Seattle yesterday (the 22nd) called the Vlogger Fair. Sam Rader was one of their “Featured Vloggers & Guests”. The comment writer is referring to an unpleasant fracas involving Mr. Rader, who claims he was provoked by someone who’d “got in my face”. According to everyone else, he threatened a number of other attendees and made convention-goers feel unsafe, so he was “asked to leave the conference.”
Wow, another SuperChristian turns out to have a teensy weensy anger problem. Color me shocked!
So… yet another hardcore Christian who outwardly buys into every single party line his religion pushes about marriage, family, religion, and culture turns out to be a hypocrite. He only apologized for being a hypocrite after he got caught and would certainly have gone on pretending to be a SuperChristian if he hadn’t been caught. It makes me just cringe to imagine what his wife is going through right now–if she’s not totally in on the act.
Here’s why I’m talking about this.
My hope is that Christians start losing some of their charmingly-childlike naivete and start really questioning their idols and heroes before surrendering their time, money, and energy to them. That’s why I’m talking about this. Sam Rader might be a pretty mundane example of the breed of Posturing Christian Hypocrite, but the pond in which he swims is very large indeed–thanks to an audience eager to have its ears tickled by anybody who makes them feel like their teachings produce results.
People like him will quit fleecing the sheep when the sheep figure out to quit paying attention to them.
I just realized that neither Josh Duggar nor Sam Rader have actually denied being Ashley Madison customers, though. That’s pretty interesting. Okay, next time: for realsies, The Love Dare.
* Remember it? Raise your eyebrows as high as you can, widen your eyes, and then tilt your head so far backwards that you’re looking right down your own nose at whoever you’re talking to; talk quickly and smile your biggest Jesus smile.
** He’s got a funny way of mispronouncing “Sam.”
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