Nel's New Day

March 11, 2018

Evangelicals Leaving DDT?

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
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Gay? Horrible! Paying hush money to a porn star for an affair four months after your son was born to a new wife? God forgives all. Robert Jeffress, an evangelical adviser to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), doesn’t’ support sex with adult film actors but doesn’t hold DDT’s affair with Stormy Daniels against him:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.”

Jeffress’ opinion has shifted in the past decade. Ten years ago, he said:

“Christians need to remember that the kingdom of God is not going to come riding in on Air Force One. The danger in all of this discussion is that Christians sometimes are willing to sacrifice the temporal for the eternal, that in order to get their candidate elected, to enact those laws that they feel are crucial, somehow we fool ourselves into thinking we are going to bring about the kingdom of God here on Earth. We are not going to do that. I’m not willing to trade people’s eternal destiny for some temporary change in the law.”

In the 2012 presidential candidacy, Jeffress called Mitt Romney “a member of a cult” and described Roman Catholicism a “cult-like pagan religion” which represents “the genius of Satan.” Former DDT associate Chris Christie said that any relationship with Jeffress was “beneath the office of president of the United States.”

About evangelicals’ ignoring any of DDT’s flaws, Michael Gerson, former speech writer for George W. Bush, wrote:

“The level of cynicism here is startling. Some Christian leaders are surrendering the idea that character matters in public life in direct exchange for political benefits to Christians themselves. It is a political maneuver indistinguishable from those performed by business or union lobbyists every day. Only seedier. You scratch my back, I’ll wink at dehumanization and Stormy Daniels. The gag reflex is entirely gone.”

Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said about evangelicals on MSNBC’s Hardball:  

“Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it…. After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up.”

Christian Dominionists, another far-right religion, not only give DDT their votes but also enrich his personal wealth. Last month, their event at DDT’s Trump International Hotel in Washington pursued the Dominionist plan to take complete control of every part of the country—secular, cultural, and political. “The Turnaround: An Appeal to Heaven National Gathering” collected people who believe, like Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, that the DOJ and FBI are trying to destroy DDT’s presidency and plan to help DDT with “the turning of the Supreme Court.” The hotel lowered its prices for the group.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Communications Director Rob Boston said about the Dominionists and another fringe group, the Reconstructionists:

“They are at war with much of modern life. They refuse to accept things like women’s liberation, LGBTQ rights, secular public schools, religious pluralism, democracy, modern science, higher education, biblical criticism, liberal Christianity, non-theistic belief systems, and so on. To Reconstuctionists, the 6th century Byzantine Empire is a model society—except, of course, that they would install a fundamentalist Christian emperor and not an Orthodox Catholic one.”

Frederick Clarkson, senior political analyst at Political Research Associates, said that the groups “intend to fill the atmosphere in Washington with ‘biblical decrees’ [in] the ‘divine call to war.'” Top Dominionist leader Chuck Pierce will halt a meeting to receive the word of God, and people are glued to his every message about “enforcing kingdom rule” and an “Army of Special Forces.”

Despite DDT’s amoral behavior, Dominionists proclaim him as God’s instrument. Clarkson said:

“It’s a typical political bargain, and whether this crowd cares to acknowledge it or not, it definitely involved the selling of many souls and the shredding of mounds of moral credibility…. Holding the event in the five-star Trump hotel a few blocks from the White House is plenty of proof of the truth that they are carrying out the will of God and must stand up to Trump’s opponents, who must also be seen as the opponents of God.”

The media paid the Dominionist event almost no attention, preferring to concentrate at CPAC and the mass shooting in Florida, a lack of notice that makes the group even more dangerous. VP Mike Pence has declared that abortion will be outlawed “in our time,” Cabinet secretaries are guaranteeing that abstinence-only (aka “sexual delay”) policy will be mandated for federal funding, and rights for anyone who is not white, Christian, and straight will disappear throughout the nation. DDT is appointing, and Senate is confirming, judges who will carry this legacy for decades. In his destruction of environmental protections, EPA Scott Pruitt told televangelist Pat Robertson that their god gave people dominion over the world’s resources with no limits to human uses—or abuses—of these resources. The Biblical “dominion,” to evangelicals, is mastery to plunder at will.

As the mission of different agencies change to promote discrimination, 22 Senators, with the blessing of the RNC, have reintroduced the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA) permitting discrimination against marriage equality and sex outside marriage in the name of religious freedom. Anyone who pleads “religious belief” cannot be denied any tax benefit or any access to “any Federal grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, license, certification, accreditation, employment or other similar position or status.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said that he wants anyone to be able to discriminate without consequence. Ramifications:

  • Government workers could refuse married same-gender couples and their families such services as processing tax returns, visa and passport applications, and Social Security checks.
  • Employers could refuse family or medical leave to care for same-sex spouses and fire unmarried women who get pregnant.
  • Hospitals could refuse to visitation to same-sex partners and spouses.
  • Social services like homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and adoption agencies could turn away anyone who has had sex outside of a man-woman marriage.
  • Commercial landlords could refuse to provide housing to a single mother.

Lee refutes these concerns, but the legislation would exempt people and groups from following the law to protect unmarried people and LGBTQ couples. Mississippi’s similar law, passed in 2016, remains in effect. All this hatred despite a recent court ruling that “Tolerating [a person’s] understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

DDT’s sole religion is becoming more and more wealthy. His “spiritual” adviser, Paula White, preaches the “prosperity gospel,” that God wants people to be rich. According to White, the richer a person is, the more the person is loved by God. Franklin Graham compared DDT to the ancient Persian king Cyrus from the Old Testament. Over four centuries before the birth of Jesus, Cyrus, called the “Messiah,” conquered the Babylonians, released Jewish captives, and decentralized the government. To evangelicals, DDT delivered the righteous from the “whore of Babylon.”

An earlier influence on DDT was Norman Vincent Peale, the pastor who provided the roots to the “prosperity gospel” with the theory that whatever is said long enough will come to fruition. That’s the reason for DDT repeating “Make America Great Again,” the message that the United States isn’t good now but that he alone will create the greatness of the past white nationalism. DDT is operating a Ponzi scheme with short-term returns at the loss of long-term investment. When DDT’s base stop getting these returns, whether emotional of fiscal, they may leave him. Until then, the evangelicals will lead the Republican party by the nose.

Jeffress and Graham may be standing alone one of these days. A February poll shows that 61 percent of evangelicals support him. That’s a high percentage but doesn’t match the 80 percent of evangelicals who voted for him. Black evangelicals are drawing away from white churches.Even worse for DDT, 83 percent of evangelical leaders think that evangelicals should not identify with the percent and policies of DDT, according to a January survey by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in January. Comments show that these evangelical leaders are drawing away from any political platform. It’s a start.


March 4, 2018

Gun-Lovers Flock to Pennsylvania Church

In this gun-loving country, weapons are caught up in the Christian religion. The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland (PA), about 20 miles southeast of Scranton, views the AR-15 as the “rod of iron” in the Bible’s book of Revelation. Therefore, about 600 people gathered together last Wednesday for a blessing ceremony that featured their beloved rods. Wearing bullet crowns, the worshippers “drank holy wine and exchanged or renewed wedding vows,” according to an Associated Press report.

The religious group, led by Rev. Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, is an off-shoot of the Unification Church, founded by Moon’s father, Sun Myung Moon who died in 2012. Another Moon son, Moon Kook-jin (aka Justin Moon), founded Kahr Arms, a firearms manufacturing company nearby that sold AR-15s to anyone who didn’t bring one for the ceremony. David Konn, a ceremony participant who drove from Florida, said that he has several rifles bought an AR-15 because he didn’t own one. “I think it retails for $689,” he said.

Part of the religion’s weeklong “Festival of Grace,” the ceremony’s name was the Cosmic True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humanity Cheon Il Guk Book of Life Registration Blessing to follow god’s will in honoring the 2nd Amendment. Moon (wearing long blue velvet robes below with officials dressed in pink) talked about the “last days” and fighting socialism and communism while he wife held an AR-15. The week included a “President Trump Thank You Dinner” on Saturday.

Moon calls himself the “Second King” and anointed heir to the “True Father”; he calls on his followers to use guns in defending their families, communities, and “the nation of Cheon Il Guk,” the kingdom of God the church believes is prophesied in biblical Scripture. He told people that everyone without a weapon or a $700 coupon from a gun store proving they will buy one, couldn’t come to the ceremony.

“OK, you may be able to sit in the back and receive the blessing like the ungrateful punk that you are, the ungrateful piece of shish that you are. And you’ll know that you’re a piece of cr*p. Will you go to hell, will you lose salvation if you don’t bring a crown and a rod of iron? No. Will you be a b**** if you don’t? Yes.”

Teddy Hose, who grew up with the church but left with his entire family, said, “Sean was a bully.”

The Moon multibillion-dollar conglomerate includes the founding of the conservative Washington Times and is now called the Tongil Group. The pro-gun rhetoric has recently become a major part of the empire and received attention from politicians. In 2016, Eric Trump spoke at the opening of Tommy Gun Warehouse, a Tongil gun store.

The AR-15 is known as the favorite weapon of mass shootings, most recently used to kill 17 people on Valentine’s day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (FL

The Unification Church, a combination of Christianity and Moon-created Divine Principles, started in 1954 and gained fame in the 1970s U.S. with the premise that true enlightenment comes from marriage, sometimes arranged to other Unification members. His followers, sometimes called “Moonies,” were known for public mass weddings of thousands of couples, often complete strangers. The financial success of the enterprise led to ownership of such businesses as a cable TV network and a shipbuilding studio. Moon used his profits for political lobbying.

In 1976, an investigation found that Moon’s church may have been used for Korean government interests, and during the 1980s, Moon served 11 months in prison for tax invasion. Moon created a large network of right-wing organizations with alliances starting with Ronald Reagan’s administration. This week’s gun-worship ceremony in Pennsylvania is a blend of Christian and corporate pro-gun sponsorship. Their techniques, such as “home churches,” has been incorporated into the mainsteam evangelical community that also fetishizes guns with ritual significance.

Of white evangelicals, 77 percent feel safer with a gun in hand, a percentage far higher than any other religious group. Highly religious gun owners are twice as likely to belong to the NRA as less religious gun owners (24% vs. 12%), and one-fourth of gun-owning white evangelicals are members of the NRA.

Opposition to gun safety laws didn’t lessen after 26 people were killed in a Sutherland Springs (TX) Baptist church, but the Florida shooting may be shifting their opinion. Like most other people, white evangelicals hide behind the “mental illness” fix for gun violence, but 80 percent of them also favor expanded background checks and match others with banning assault-style weapons with a 68 percent favorability rating for this practice. Fifty-eight percent of evangelicals in general were more likely than the 46 percent of conservatives and the 45 percent of Republicans to support gun safety reform.

Last week, even Pat Robertson advocated banning automatic weapons and using background checks to screen people before they purchasing guns. These are the people in the Republican base. GOP legislators may need to reconsider their allegiance to the NRA.

Highly religious gun owners are twice as likely to belong to the NRA as less religious gun owners (24% vs. 12%). Gun owners who worship weekly are also more likely to join the NRA (23%) than those who don’t worship as often (18%). A quarter of gun-owning white evangelicals are members of the NRA.

This op-ed in the Oregonian, however, shows that not all NRA members follow the organization’s party line. Rural Oregonian Rusty Munn, an NRA owner, debunks the NRA partyline:

  • Myth 1: The government is trying to take our guns away. Not true….
  • Myth 2: Because of our frontier history, all Americans are good with guns. Not true….
  • Myth 3a: This one is widespread. I call it the Hollywood myth, in which a bad guy is vanquished by a good guy with a gun…. In real life, even well-trained police personnel have difficulties making the correct decision on when to use deadly force. Most people don’t have the training, judgment or instincts to make the right decision in a split second, chaotic situation.
  • Myth 3b: The way to stop school shootings is to arm teachers. Read 3a and add the fact that many teachers do not want to carry a gun.
  • Myth 4: The NRA speaks for all gun owners. Not true. The NRA doesn’t speak for me. The NRA wants license — the ability to do what they want when they want no matter the effect on others and society. Freedom requires responsibility for your actions. License does not….

“The second amendment does not confer unlimited rights. It states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The founders acknowledged the need for regulation…..

“Violence is a cancer in our society and there are many things we must do to address it. One step is to attempt to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do violence. If that inconveniences me, I’m willing to put up with that. Regulations are coming….

“It makes sense for gun owners to be involved in the development of those regulations. If we gun owners don’t get out in front of this, we won’t like the results.”

Thank you, Mr. Munn. May the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary become more of an outlier.

February 25, 2018

Billy Graham Leaves a Devastating Legacy

Billy Graham, evangelical advisor to presidents for over a half century, died at the age of 99 this past week and will be buried on March 2. People are showering the dead Christian evangelist with tributes, but some of his beliefs are far from what Jesus preached.

Women: Graham criticized feminism and created the Mike Pence rule which advocates men avoid meeting, travelling or eating with a woman, other than one’s wife, alone, to prevent infidelity. At Boston Garden, he told women not to nag their husbands, keep their houses clean, and read a great deal to keep up with their husbands. Graham said that women should wear enough makeup to be pretty and not so much that husbands notice.

Graham’s Wife: When Graham’s wife felt the call to proselytize in Tibet, he told her that the Bible makes the husband the head of the wife: “Then I’ll do the leading and you do the following.” He moved on to harvest fields “more white” while she stayed in the U.S. to get pregnant and raise children according to a dog-training manual before they were sent off to boarding schools.

Civil Rights: Activists, not laws, should change hearts because personal conversions, not federal policies, change behaviors. His 1971 book, The Jesus Generation, praises people who reject government as a way to correct injustices. Of the 1963 March on Washington speech, “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., Graham said, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” “There wasn’t a major Protestant leader in America who obstructed King’s Beloved Community more than Billy Graham did,” says Michael E. Long, author of Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America’s Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Global Warming: In his 1992 book about signs that the end of the world was near, Graham suggested that businesses reduce pollution, but his 2010 version eliminated the term “global warming.” Government had no right passing laws to save the world for posterity, he claimed.

New Deal: Graham believed that helping people through government, a godless competition for churches, was going to take Christians’ rights and liberties.

Wealth: With a net worth of $25 million, Graham normalized ultra-rich pastors and the focus on riches earth for the clergy.

Pro-War: Graham urged President Richard Nixon to use nuclear weapons that would destroy the dikes managing North Vietnam’s flooding and kill over one million people. Even Henry Kissinger considered this war crime “just too much.” George H.W. Bush said that Graham’s presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, “even for a second … (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night.” With the next Bush, Graham blessed the next Christian “crusade” into the Middle East.

Anti-LGBTQ: Graham preached that AIDS is the judgment of God. Saying later that he didn’t believe that statement didn’t stop other pastors from repeating it. He claimed that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” that contributes to the decay of civilization. He promoted conversion therapy that uses Graham’s rhetoric. In 2012, he paid for 14 full-page ads in newspapers across North Carolina to support the state’s Amendment 1 prohibiting marriage equality. In the ads, Graham wrote, “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Anti-Semitism: Jews control the media and that was dangerous, Graham told Nixon. “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” In White House audio tapes released in 2002, Graham also refers to Jews as pornographers.

Graham was used as a pawn by both business and conservative government leaders:

Publishing magnates William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce helped make him famous, and financial and business leaders used him to fight the “socialistic” politics of Franklin D. Roosevelt that brought people out of poverty and starvation.

To elect Richard Nixon, Graham promised President Lyndon B. Johnson that Nixon, if elected, would give Johnson “a major share of the credit” for Nixon’s ending the war and “do everything to make you … a place in history.” Johnson promised Nixon full cooperation if he took the White House. Johnson’s Defense Secretary Clark Clifford thought that LBJ wanted Nixon to become president. Nixon sent Graham as an emissary to Johnson because he knew about their closeness. Graham didn’t know that Nixon was undermining a peace initiative during the last days of Johnson’s presidency.

About his anti-Semitic comments with Nixon, Graham said, “If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it. I guess I was trying to please.” He always gave Nixon a pass, saying that “mistakes and blunders have been made.” The disclosure of Nixon’s wealth, however, and especially the small amount he donated to charity “surprised” Graham. The racist, foul, maniacal rantings on tape that made Graham physically ill, according to Marshall Frady’s 2006 biography of Graham, but Graham continued to make excuses for Nixon and claimed that he had become “deeply religious.” Graham blamed Nixon’s advisers because he was “just trying to protect” them. Frady reported that Graham eventually blamed “all those sleeping pills [that] just let a demon-power come in and play over him.”

Cecil Bothwell wrote about Graham as the father of modern evangelism:

“Graham’s message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior.”

Theolorigan Dorothee Sölle called white evangelical religion “Christofascism.”  Rev. Broderick Greer’s definition:

 “The perpetuation of a societal status quo in which Christians maintain power, frame the aim of Christianity as a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’ and retain all the ills of white Christian society like patriarchy, colonization, and heterosexism.”

Greer added that the religion “has evolved into a hyper-nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic corner of American Christianity” instead of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Almost 20 years ago, Graham wrote:

“If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… there have been times when I undoubtedly stepped over the line between politics and my calling as an evangelist.”

He was too late in this decision. His son Franklin Graham, who controls the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the group legitimizing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to evangelicals, has moved to the far right of Billy Graham. About DDT, Franklin tells his 6.3 million followers to “hold your nose and go vote.” He ridicules rights for non-Christians and LGBTQ people, spews hate speech, and calls for discrimination while raising funds for “persecuted Christians.” Franklin Graham claims to “love Muslim people” but adds that Islam “can’t keep you from the doors of hell.”

Sarah Jones described how Franklin changed Billy’s evangelicalism:

“As the father waned, the son waxed: first as a spokesman for his elder, then as an evangelical figure in his own right. Franklin, using the platform he inherited from his father, has defended Trump’s Muslim bans, promoted Russia’s campaign to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda,’ and once accused gay people of trying to ‘recruit children.’ Franklin, not Billy, represents the evangelical mainstream now.”

The father wanted change by “politeness”; the son follows the style of DDT who “offended everybody! And he became president of the United States.” Franklin crowed, “Only God could do that.” Or maybe Vladimir Putin.

Billy Graham was a handsome man with a powerful voice who was said to have brought more people to Jesus than any other evangelist, a Jesus and a population filled with hatred, bigotry, war-mongering, and domination.


February 18, 2018

GOP Tries to Erase Constitutional Church-State Separation

Christian counseling has taken a new meaning during the time of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Reports about his paying off $130,000 to a porn star after a sexual liaison with her led to James Bakker complimenting DDT for his “counseling” her and giving her money to get out of the pornography industry.

Now George Gregory, a 61-year-old Pennsylvania pastor, claims that he “was counseling a young man with a drug problem.” The man was found in the front seat of Gregory’s car, naked and tied up with nylon rope. Gregory claimed that the man propositioned him, but that he “did nothing.” A neighbor had called the police, and officers found Gregory in the back seat adjusting his clothing. He told officers that he and the man “were just playing” and that they “meet up from time to time to play with each other.” Gregory also claimed that he thought he was in a private place, and officials reminded him that he was on a public street. He said, “That conversation never happened.” The Pittsburgh pastor has been charged with lewdness and indecent exposure, and the other man confirmed that what they were doing was consensual.

In Texas, evangelical minister Gloria Copeland believes in Christian immunization:

Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu. We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu.’ We’ve already had our shot.”

Texas has already had 2,300 deaths from the flu, and the season—which Copeland claims doesn’t exist—isn’t over. Jesus didn’t save Copeland’s megachurch from a 2013 measles outbreak after the preaching that people don’t need vaccines because of Jesus’s protection. Both Gloria and her husband, Kenneth, Copeland were members of DDT’s evangelical advisory panel in 2016.

Evangelical belief is fast becoming the mode, as evidenced at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. DDT said that faith “is central to American life and liberty” although he rarely attends church. The percentage of atheists in the United States has almost doubled to 3.1 from 1.6 percent in 2007, and another 4.0 percent identify as agnostics.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who delivered the keynote address at the event, was even farther off target than DDT. The legislator who was shot at a baseball practice last year gave a revisionist view of American history:

“This was a nation founded with a deep belief in God. Our founding fathers talked about it when they were preparing to draft the Constitution. In fact, Thomas Jefferson—who was the author of the Constitution—If you go to the Jefferson Memorial right now, go read this inscription from Thomas Jefferson: ‘God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’

“You can’t separate church from state…. People would say, you know, when you’re voting on issues, how do you separate your faith from the way you vote? Faith is part of who you are.”

Time for a reality check:

Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the U.S. Constitution; he was in France at the time. James Madison, who supported separation of church and state, wrote the constitution. Jefferson did write the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson also strongly supported the separation of church and state. The term “wall of separation” between the two institutions come from Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist Association about the First Amendment: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” As president, Jefferson refused to issue proclamations for official days of prayer.

People’s votes may come from their personal beliefs, but not always religious. And government neutrality on religious issues allows people to seek their own paths without government interference.

Evangelical ascendance is leading the United States into a “post-truth era,” according to writer and reporter Kurt Andersen, and that seems to reduce the average IQ. Anderson, a linguistic expert on DDT’s speaking style, points out that only one-third of GOP candidates in 2012 agreed to the scientific theory of evolution. George W. Bush said that evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools unless it is accompanied by the religious belief of creationism. By 2016, only one candidate, George W.’s brother Jeb Bush, was the only one in a large field supporting the science of evolution. Anderson thinks that the Republican candidates, however, are forced to deny evolution to keep their voters as the GOP becomes increasingly extreme. When religious belief “bleeds over into how we manage and construct our economy and our society,” the United States suffers from lasting trouble.

One way that the DDT administration puts Christianity in charge of justice for all people is the religious liberty czar required for every U.S. attorney office. The DOJ has ordered each office to assign a person who monitors litigation for any suits involving “religious liberty” and notify supervisors. All offices must get the approval of the Associate Attorney General, formerly Rachel Brand, before that case can proceed. With Brand’s resignation, the replacement may be Noel Francisco, allied with the ultra-conservative Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom. The new policy mandates:

“To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, Department components and United States Attorneys’ Offices must reasonably accommodate religious observance and practice in all activities, including litigation.”

The policy adds that “the Office of the Associate Attorney General has supervisory responsibility for overseeing the Department’s respect for religious liberty in litigation.”

A new DDT division of the Office of Civil Rights, the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (CRFD), permits healthcare workers to deny treatment to LGBTQ people and women seeking abortions if it conflicts with their religious convictions. [The White House has also issued many other mandates giving Christian control of the United States.]

The CRFD will cost the health care system at least $300 million to set up new religious requirements as hospitals, nursing homes, state health programs, pharmacies, and other service providers must post employee notices, draft policies, maintain documentation, and prepare other methods of guaranteeing that health care workers can discriminate against people based on their form of Christianity. Annual maintenance of these practices will continue to cost $125 million. Catholics at institutions supported by taxpayers have re-confirmed their opposition to abortion and death with dignity practices.

Other GOP leaders are following DDT’s lead. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has picked anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian pastor to head up the Michigan Civil Rights Commission last week. The state senate is supposed to confirm the person for this position, but Snyder ignored that requirement.

As evangelicals move farther from the cultural mainstream, they are also losing their constituents through aging and attrition. As a result, the white evangelical Protestant population in the U.S. has fallen over 25 percent from 23 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2016. over the past decade, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2016. Almost two-thirds of them are now at least 50 years old. Perhaps this change will overcome the listing of the ship of state toward Christian theocracy and Christian sharia-like law.

February 4, 2018

God Says ‘No’ to Bachmann

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 9:11 PM
Tags: ,

Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had considered running for U.S. Senate after Al Franken’s resignation, but she had to get permission from God. has provided her an answer

The definition of “Christian” those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Bachmann’s Christian god may not want her for a senator for some of these reasons:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” [John 13:16]

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Matthew 7:1-2]

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” [Luke 6:41]

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” [Matthew 5:9]

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” [Matthew]

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” [John 8:7]

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” [1 John 3:17]

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” [Matthew 9:35]

“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” [Matthew 23:28]

“And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” [John 2:14-16]

“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” [Matthew 19:24]

“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37-40]

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” [Matthew 6:5]

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” [Matthew 12:7]

“But Jesus said unto them, they need not depart; give ye them to eat.” [Matthew 14:16]

“And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” [Luke 11:46]

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” [Luke 12:48]

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew: 11:28]

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:34-40]

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” [Matthew 25:41-43]

Conservative Christian pretenders hate peace, charity, mercy and acceptance. They want power and wealth for themselves with none left over for anyone else and presume to set themselves up to judge everyone else. They are the only ones deserving of health care. The Christian god will not want to set Michele Bachmann up in the U.S. Senate to be another vote for anti-Christian beliefs. And those of us who follow these egalitarian Christian beliefs without bragging about what spiritual following we have don’t either.

January 21, 2018

Evangelical Racism in America

[Note on government shutdown: a GOP talking point against the shutdown is that Democrats are holding the military hostage by refusing to pay them from the shutdown. VP Mike Pence lied to an audience of U.S. soldiers that the Democrats were at fault: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) immediately attempted to introduce a bill to pay all military-connected employees after the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shut her down.]

American evangelicals has a long history of racism:

  • New England Puritans waged war against indigenous people in the 1600s resulting in best-selling fiction about innocent white women forced to live in the forests with men who scalped their children.
  • Ulster Scots in the middle and southern British American colonies in the 1700s viewed the Creeks, Cherokees, and Shawnees the same as the savage Irish infidels they escaped.
  • American Founders considered themselves superior to non-white people in the American “nation,” the term from Latio natio, birth. Thomas Jefferson called black people a hostile nation.
  • Future president Andrew Jackson told volunteers in the War of 1812 that they were free to wipe out indigenous communities and runaway slaves south of the Tennessee River like Israelites waged holy war for “their” land west of the Jordan.
  • Whites believed they were endangered and had the right to vengeance in the 19th and 20th centuries: the KKK lynched black men who they accused of raping women in the 1890s, and the KKK of the 1920s attacked Jews and Catholics because of “racial purity.”
  • White nationalism was manifested in the mid-20th century with communism as the enemy.
  • Southern and western evangelical mega-churches became a political force during the 1970s and 1980s.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has ridden the wave of white supremacy since he was sued in 1973 for trying to keep black people out of his rentals. In 1989, he called for killing five men of color who were accused of raping a white woman in Central Park and continue to declare their guilt ten years after DNA proved them innocent in 2006. His white supremacist following increased in 2011 when he started the “birther” movement, claiming that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. DDT has never personally retracted his accusation. Andrew Jackson was his model when he came to the White House, and his racist rants have increased. The religious right has now adopted DDT and his racist beliefs.

Evangelicals have defended both DDT’s sexual assaults on women and his “s**thold” statement. Robert Jeffress, one of DDT’s Evangelical Advisory Council, said:

“What a lot of people miss is, America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background. I’m glad Trump understands the difference between a church and country. I support his views 100 percent.”

Samuel Rodriguez described DDT’s remarks “a distraction,” and Mark Burns justified DDT’s comments with 1 Timothy 5:8:

“A man that does not take care of his own home, his own home, their own people, is worse than an infidel. We have somehow forgotten that in America.”

In his inability to understand that the bible doesn’t make law for the U.S., Jeffress also said that DDT has the religious authority to kill the leader of North Korea:

“The Bible gives President Trump the moral authority to use whatever force necessary including assassination, or even war to take out an evildoer like Kim Jong-un.”

Steve Strang, founder of the Christian magazine Charisma, compared DDT to the Messiah while touting his new book, God and Donald Trump.

“Here he was, the promised Messiah, and these are the people who practice Jewish law better than anyone else and they just had a mindset against him and couldn’t see the truth. A lot of people get a mindset, they think a certain way politically … and they just think that way and they don’t think for themselves.”

According to Strang, people who don’t support DDT are like the “Pharisees in Jesus’s day” who conspired to sabotage Jesus. Dissenters will not be tolerated. Strang compared opposition to DDT with other “Christians throughout history who have twisted facts.”

Strang did get one strong dissent to him in an article reporting these beliefs. Ernst Loehl Sr. (Expeditor at Freelance Entrepreneur) shouted this in an email:


Televangelist Jim Bakker, convicted criminal for accounting fraud and accused of rape, exonerated DDT’s alleged sexual relationship with porn queen Stormy Daniels by saying that DDT was sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with her and the $130,000 that DDT secretly gave Daniels was “to help rescue her from the destructive adult film industry. What a man of God!”

The religious right may start trying to ban people of color in the judicial system just as they want to prevent LGBTQ judges. Mat Staver, head of the far-right legal group Liberty Counsel, has said gay judges cannot make fair rulings in LGBTQ rights and his “religious freedom.” He protested the nomination of Andrew McDonald as chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court who could be the first openly gay chief justice of any state court. McDonald has been on the court since 2013. Staver accused McDonald of being a sexual deviant by comparing him to Alex Kozinski, the 9th Circuit Court judge accused of sexual misconduct by six women. According to Staver, gay judges “identifies as someone based upon his sexual practices” but heterosexual judges don’t. It would be appropriate, however, to nominate a judge whose identity is wrapped up in religious beliefs such as Thomas Nielsen who defended Prop 8 in California that banned marriage equality.

One pastor lambasted DDT for his racist comments about Haiti and African countries when Vice President Mike Pence listened to him from the front row. Pence and his wife, Karen, attended the Metropolitan Baptist Church, an historic black church in Largo (MD) when Maurice Watson told the congregation that God led him to speak against DDT’s “dehumanizing” and “ugly” comments. Watson said that many of his congregants had come from those countries and added:

“Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”

The congregation clapped, and Pence’s face turned red. The next day Pence failed to appear at a public Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony although his name was listed on the program. He had taken photos of himself laying a wreath at the King memorial in private the day before and tweeted something about “all men … created equal.” Comedian Samantha Bee of Full Frontal took him to task, referring to Pence flying across the country to walk out of a NFL game after players knelt in protest during the National Anthem:

“Three months ago, you walked out of an event in disgust because of a non-violent protest by black athletes.”

The pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach (FL) left the GOP because of its failure to denounce white supremacists and child molester Roy Moore. Former DDT supporter Reverend O’Neal Dozier said he can no longer tell black voters to support Republicans. He had hoped, like the “white people from the ’60s and ’70s,” DDT would “reverse his views concerning black people” but “saw after he was elected that he has not changed,” Dozier said. “He is always attacking people of color.” Calling DDT “the great divider in chief,” Dozier said, “He hates everybody except the white supremacists.” (Dozier still hates “homosexuality.”) Dozier’s letter to the South Florida Times.  

Evangelicals are becoming polarized like the rest of the country. Roger E. Olson, theology professor at Baylor University in Texas, asked his colleagues to stop enabling DDT’s language and actions.

“My fellow evangelicals who continue to support and even defend Trump in spite of everything he has said about the weak and vulnerable people of the world: It is time to admit you have been wrong and stop defending the indefensible.”

Olson pointed out that the poverty in the countries that DDT denigrated often comes from “European and American colonialism and exploitation.”

To further polarize the nation, DDT created an agency promoting health workers to deny services to people for any reason that they consider “moral” or “religious.” It’s an authoritarian method permitting the dehumanization of all groups of people except white Christian men—the same process used in other countries to eliminate all “undesirables.” DDT started the process immediately after his inauguration by almost entirely selecting far-right Christian white men for the judiciary and the executive departments and continued it with a “fake” report that demonizes immigrants. The new agency advancing discrimination furthers his purpose to “Make America White Again.”

We cannot forget the poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller protesting the Nazi movement and the inattention by other Germans that begins “They came for the …” and ends “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” We are in a time when the government has started coming for one segment before moving on to another. If we are not careful, there will be no one left “to speak for me”–or you.

December 23, 2017

The Christian War on Christmas

For centuries, fundamentalist Christians avoided any involvement in politics. During Ronald Reagan’s campaign, however, Republicans decided to use evangelicals to get their candidate elected, and these Christians have increasingly left their biblical religion to move to a political religion. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has raised this avoidance of traditional Christian values to a high. This year, he and other Republicans spread the lies about the use of “Merry Christmas,” telling people that it had been banned and that President Obama never used the term. Videos prove them wrong, but facts don’t dissuade fundamentalist Christian beliefs, especially because the Fox seasonal message began with the term “War on Christmas.”

The politicization of Christmas, as shown by this billboard, is in keeping with the rest of the Republicans. More confirmation of the GOP lie comes from the political group America First Policies that is spending $1 million for a pro-DDT A pro-Trump nonprofit says it is spending $1 million to air a new pro-Trump ad concluding with a little girl saying, “Thank you President Trump for letting us say ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” The ad also thank DDT for “reminding us to stand for our national anthem.”

DDT goes beyond politics to capitalism with his baseball cap, embroidered with colored lights on “Make America Great Again” and “Merry Christmas” on the back. Selling for $45, the cap is all sold out, but you can still get one from eBay for $150.

Six years ago, DDT tweeted the lie, “What a convenient mistake: @BarackObama issued a statement for Kwanza [sic] but failed to issue one for Christmas.” Tweeting about Kwanzaa did not preclude President Obama from also sending his last Merry Christmas message with the image below.



“The best part of the holidays is the time we share with those we love. On behalf of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, Merry Christmas everyone.”

Chris Hayes has put together a number of video clips showing President Obama saying “Merry Christmas.” (Check out the last minute for this montage.) Meanwhile, tweets from Ivanka Trump and her brother Eric trumpet “Happy Holidays!” (And yes, Ivanka Trump is Jewish.)  Despite DDT’s concentration on the word “Christmas,” the invitations for the White House parties called the event a “Holiday Reception.”

Christmas celebrations for DDT’s first term were similar in style to those of past years but less in substance. DDT’s events were also less attended as shown by this visual from the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. It’s like the difference between inaugurations for President Obama and DDT. As you might guess, DDT’s ceremony is on the left.











The White House decorations for DDT were sometimes a bit bizarre. The library had a “booktree” although DDT doesn’t read books. The books were purchased with a focus on the color green instead of the books’ contents, indicated by such titles as World of Golf, Tainted Evidence, and Ronin: A Marine Scout-Sniper Platoon in Iraq.” Another that may be a precursor to DDT’s term is American Mourning, how public mourning shapes politics and our future outcomes. Last year’s library decorations used the theme “Let Girls Learn” for the First Lady’s education program.

This year Melania Trump chose the theme “Time-Honored Tradition. The spooky trees in the White House East Colonnade (below left) produced a variety of humorous tweets complete with photoshopping. Tim Teeman wrote:

“Melania Trump, with what looks like the help of Tim Burton, has designed an anti-Christmas wonderland of white branches set stark against the wall and casting creepy shadows on the ceiling…. The only thing missing is a dragon breathing fire, intent on stopping you getting your hands on a magic amulet.”

In contrast is the East Colonnade decorated at Christmas in the time of President Obama.

DDT dropped his obsession with Christmas by spending his first day of that vacation at Mar-a-Lago talking about problems in North Korea and the Middle East as well as lambasting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who he had appointed as acting FBI director after he fired James Comey. That was after he skipped over the majority of his supporters to give a massive Christmas gift to the wealthy through the tax bill that he signed yesterday.

Although fundamentalist Christians perceive DDT’s occasional fixation with saying “Merry Christmas” as a form of religious liberty, all other religions are downplayed or eliminated from notice. People who have watched politics the past year might see that there is no “War on Christmas,” but there is a war on Jews—as shown by the white supremacists marching against them—and a war on Muslims, made clear by DDT’s travel bans. People are really demanding Christian beliefs.

To feel the Christmas cheer, remember how Barack and Michelle Obama celebrate it with children. Below is President Obama a week ago taking a bag of gifts to 50 children  of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2017

Jerusalem Decision Continues to Rankle

Jerusalem continues to stay in the news as leaders of 57 Islam nations have declared East Jerusalem the Palestinian capital. Turkey, chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, hosted the summit meeting in Istanbul. The nations also condemned actions of Dictator Donald Trump to change the status of Jerusalem as a “unilateral” and “dangerous declaration” as well as an announcement that the U.S. was withdrawing as a sponsor of peace for the region.

In another objection to DDT’s declaration on December 6, 2017 that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Ali Salam, mayor of the Israeli town of Nazareth, said that Christmas celebrations were canceled.  He has withdrawn the statement, but the objection still exists. Nazareth, home to Jesus during his youth, is now a town of 76,000, about 80 percent Arab. “Christ”mas celebrations in Nazareth seem to focus on Santa Claus.

Determined to create more problems in the Middle East, DDT may follow his officials in their view that the Western Wall will also be declared a part of Israel. The contradictory position is that borders of the city must be determined through Palestine-Israel negotiations but refuse to accept any position in which Israel doesn’t control the Wall. The sacred location is outside Israel’s pre-1967 borders and is next to Islam’s most revered sites.

VP Mike Pence is headed for the Wall on his trip this week. He will be accompanied by a rabbi, similar to DDT’s trip last May. Pence will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will no longer meet with Pence after DDT tried to give Jerusalem to Israel.

Until DDT, the United States has not recognized Israel sovereignty over the Old City, territory occupied in 1967 and home to valued Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious sites. Israel controls the Western Wall, a retaining wall from the biblical Jewish Temple, and holds state ceremonies there. Nearby is the hilltop Noble Sanctuary, the third holiest Islam site, and the Temple Mount, considered the holiest site in Judaism.

Thousands around the world continue to protest DDT’s announcement, and DDT is the object of satire.

The UN Security Council plans to vote tomorrow on a resolution requesting the withdrawal of DDT’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. The draft U.N. text expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” It “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.” The resolution also asks countries to not establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and “demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”

A UN Security Council resolution adopted in December 2016 “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” The resolution passed with 14 votes in favor and an abstention from the U.S.

The current resolution will fail because it cannot pass with a veto from the United States, but a majority vote will further isolate the U.S.

Jerusalem was granted special status in 1947, placed under international sovereignty and control, because of its religious importance to all three Abrahamic religions. Zionist forces took over the western half of the city in 1948, and Israel captured the eastern half in 1967. In 1980, Israel declared that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel” in the “Jerusalem Law.” The UN declared that law “null and void” through the passage of Resolution 478; international law maintains that an occupying power cannot have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.

Israel gives citizenship only to Jews in East Jerusalem. The 420,000 Palestinians lack any citizenship, even of Jordan or Palestine. They are treated as foreign immigrants and required to fulfil requirements to maintain their residency status, including proof that they have lived there continuously for a specific period of time. For proof, they must submit many documents including title deeds, rent contracts, and salary information. Citizenship from another country revokes their status to residency. All Jews in the world, however, may live in Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship.

The UN also considers Israel’s settlement in East Jerusalem to be illegal, directly contravening the fourth Geneva Convention preventing an occupying country from transferring its population to occupied territory. Reasons include a temporary occupation that cannot use military rule to establish a long-term presence, protection of occupied civilians from theft of resources, demographic changes in the territory. Despite international law, Israel has built over a dozen housing complexes, or settlements, in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods, and 200,000 Israeli citizens live there under army and police protection, infringing on Palestinian rights.

Israel already forces Palestinians to suffer from apartheid while DDT makes the situation worse as The New York Times describes:

“The president [has] made a typically grandiose and poorly thought-through political gesture to domestic supporters — in this case, those who staunchly back Israel’s hard-line Likud government.”

December 10, 2017

Jerusalem: DDT Further Isolates U.S.

Evangelical approval for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) fell 17 points last week, and DDT wants to bump it up again—recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In the 19th century, Bible teacher John Nelson Darby created the theory that the Jews had to control Jerusalem before Jesus could return to earth in a second coming to save his loyal followers by the seven-year suffering and turmoil called the Armageddon when Satan is defeated and Christ controls the world. Hal Lindsey popularized the belief during the 1970s in The Late Great Planet Earth. At DDT’s rally in northern Florida, conservative state Sen. Doug Broxson said that DDT may bring the biblical end times. The crowd cheered.

DDT has already shown success in starting a conflict with his Jerusalem executive order as protests have spread across the Middle East. The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem barred all personnel and their families from traveling in the West Bank and Jerusalem’s old city immediately after DDT’s proclamation. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital, and part of the city is also occupied by Christians. The last quarter is occupied by Armenians. Although Jordan claims the east half of Jerusalem and Palestine calls Jerusalem its capital, the city has a distinct status as not belonging to any country, according to the international community.

Only the U.S. and the Czech Republic recognize Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital, and the United States would have the only embassy in that city. The senior Christian leader in Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, sent a letter with a dozen other church leaders in the Holy Land warning of “irreparable harm.” DDT’s move “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division”, they wrote.

DDT’s violation of international law in his executive order follows the U.S. pattern of allowing the illegal expansion of Jews-only colonial settlements in occupied Arab Jerusalem and across the West Bank. But this act is creating even more problems in the area. DDT has removed any leverage in the negotiations for peace between Palestine and Israel and confirmed that the U.S. is a completely biased party to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Twenty-five former Israeli Ambassadors, academics, and other dignitaries publicly denounced the move. The pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church canceled his meeting with VP Mike Pence when he travels to Cairo this week, saying that DDT did not take into account the “feelings of millions of Arab people.” Only the visit to Israel may be pleasant to Pence; the ones to Germany and Egypt are guaranteed to be chilly. For the first time, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, committed to a two-state solution, is refusing to meet with a senior U.S. leader. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi predicted “possible dangerous repercussions,” and Turkey warned the decision represented a “red line” for Muslims. The Middle East is already volatile, and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the U.S. was “plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight.” He hinted Turkey might cut diplomatic ties with Israel if the embassy is moved.

History has already shown how a supposedly small act can be incendiary. The second intifada in late 2000 began when Ariel Sharon declared the Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third holiest site in Islam, reserved for Israel. The result was a two-year bloody war of suicide bombers and military attacks that killed both Israelis and Palestinians. In the Palestinian-Israel conflict, symbols matter.

Instead of consulting with impacted countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, DDT said, “This is what we are going to do.” The Arab League of 21 countries said:

“The decision has no legal effect… it deepens tension, ignites anger and threatens to plunge the region into more violence and chaos.”

Jordan said that DDT’s announcement has “no validity under international law.”During a meeting of the Arab League, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called on members to consider economic sanctions on the U.S. to stop it moving its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said:

“Pre-emptive measures (must be) taken… beginning with diplomatic measures, then political, then economic and financial sanctions.”

Countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and China have condemned DDT’s action as a threat to peace.

DDT also ignored Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who recommended a different course. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued against DDT’s order and took the brunt of anger in Europe during a tour to convince State Department officials that they are better off without any employees and, in some cases, without ambassadors. Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, stood beside Tillerson while telling reporters that the U.S. was wrong to back away from the Iran nuclear deal and that the move of the U.S. embassy would undermine peace. Countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and China have condemned DDT’s action as a threat to peace. Other foreign ministers showed their disapproval of DDT’s action in an indication of decreased respect for the U.S. Relationships with Europe could worsen if DDT appoints Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Only VP Mike Pence seemed pleased as he watched like a proud father as DDT held up the order like a toddler who had accomplished a fine BM.

The United States stands largely alone after DDT made his proclamation. The UN passed six resolutions affirming Palestinian rights and condemning Israeli violations of international law. One resolution stated that “any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and void.” Six countries, including the United States and Israel, voted against the resolution; 151 voted in favor of the resolution. In an emergency meeting, 14 of the 15 nations on the UN Security Council condemned DDT for his declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel because of its threat to peace. The 15th member of the Council is the United States. Council members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay.  Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenti said:

“While there are two parties in this conflict, they are not on a level playing field. One is an occupying power, the other is an occupied people. One party builds illegal settlements… One party puts a siege on Gaza… One party takes over the water resources and farmlands of the other …. One of the parties engages in forced displacement.”

DDT’s decision to placate the evangelicals also benefits his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is working to further an anti-Iran coalition in the Middle East developed around Saudi Arabia and Israel. A few days before DDT signed the order, DDT pressured the PLO office in Washington with eviction if they didn’t agree the Israeli human-rights-violating settlements. Kushner has supported illegal West Bank Israeli settlements for years, helping to funnel tens of thousands of dollars to Jewish institutions in the settlements encroaching on Palestinian land through his family’s foundation. In late 2016, Kushner ordered Michael Flynn to persuade Russia to delay the UN Security Council vote criticizing these illegal settlements although Russia didn’t follow Flynn’s request. Kushner’s family also has lucrative real estate deals with Israeli financial institutions, one of them shared ownership and profits on a New Jersey apartment building. Another Kushner relationship is with two Israeli banks investigated for helping wealthy clients evade U.S. taxes.

Only 23 percent of evangelicals believe in a two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis whereas a majority of U.S. Jews support a Palestinian state. Only 17 percent of U.S. Jews think that moving onto Palestinian land helps Israel’s security. Almost two-thirds of evangelicals think that a candidate’s stance on Israel matters “a lot” whereas only nine percent of U.S. Jews agree with that statement. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley claims that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and declaring the city to be Israel’s capital is “the will of the American people.” Yet 59 percent of people in the U.S. prefer that the U.S. select neither side of the Palestine-Israel conflict, and 63 percent oppose moving the embassy.

As with all his other actions, DDT shows no thought. He merely threw gasoline on the embers of a fire, perhaps hoping for an easier war than in North Korea so that he can look like an important leader in the world. Instead he has further isolated the United States from any part in global decisions, all of which negatively affects the United States’ status in the world.

December 3, 2017

How Far Can Republicans Sink?

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 10:35 PM
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The reports of sexual assault have filled the news, and Democrats are going into the problem head on while the GOP (Grand Old Perverts) are running away. It’s the shiny object keeping people from paying attention to the disastrous tax bill passed by the Senate and headed back to the House while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his lies and alienates reasonable leaders in other countries with his bigotry—the past week a focus against Muslims. And Roy Moore is most likely headed toward Washington as the new senator from Alabama. The world will know after the special election on December 12, nine days away.

Last year’s presidential election changed the perspective in the United States toward leadership. Eighty percent of Christian evangelicals voted for an alleged pedophile, and the trend continues with Moore. A survey at end of November shows that 39 percent of registered evangelical Christian voters are more likely to support him after they hear that he may have sexually abused a 14-year-old girl, dated teenage girls when he was in his 30s, and groped women in his office. Only 28 percent says that his behavior makes them less like to vote for him. Sixty-four percent of evangelicals say that they support him over a Democrat. In Alabama, 35 percent of the state are white evangelical Protestants and 58 percent of the state GOP.

Moore is running a campaign rife with fraud. His wife Kayla published a letter supposedly from 50 pastors endorsing her husband. At least four of them said they wanted their names removed from the letter, and others didn’t live in Alabama. Dozens of other evangelical pastors have signed a letter that declares him “not fit for office.”

The stories go far beyond his sexual assault, dating teenage girls, and groping. People who lived in his town knew that he was banned from a mall and the YMCA because he harassed the girls there. An Alabama police officer was assigned to watch him at local high school football games. Her task was to keep him from harassing the cheerleaders.

The recent unabashed GOP support for candidates like Moore and DDT demonstrates the shift in evangelical approach. The party has long proudly supported “family values,” but they have lost their Christian approach toward goodness to vote for policies. Even in 2004, “values voters” who said they prioritized character embodying Christian values such as kindness, honesty, and forgiveness voted for George W. Bush’s policy positions. In a survey following the election, 23 percent referenced personal characteristics of candidates whereas 44 percent talked about their opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights. That percentage increased to 58 percent among evangelicals by 2015 who held high priorities for social and cultural goals no matter the quality of the candidate. Those who want “religious freedom” also want to remove secularism and diversity from the nation. Seventy-two percent thought in 2015 that too many laws about moral standards have been removed and want to keep the United States a “Christian nation.” Last year almost half of white evangelical Protestants described Democrats as a serious threat to the nation.

Moore fits the evangelical view of what the United States should be. He blames the 9/11 attacks on the legalization of abortion and LGBTQ rights, stating that the Supreme Court recognition of marriage equality is worse than the 1857 Dred Scott decision declaring that blacks were property and not citizens. In addition to rejecting LGBTQ rights and abortion, he denied the existence of evolution and opposes women voting and running for office. He wrote that it is a moral obligation to never vote for a woman to hold public office. It also criticizes a woman’s right to vote.

The evangelical philosophy of marrying young women is taught in homeschooling with the phrase “14-year-old girls courting adult men.” Part of Vaughn Ohlman’s career was speaking at home-school conventions about his retreat for families to arrange child marriages. Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson said that men should marry 15- and 16-year-old girls because 20-year-olds are too old to be molded. Another term for evangelical approach to a male selecting and grooming young girls is predation. Roy Moore represents a Christian fundamentalist problem.

Fundamentalist Christians leadership has a record of protecting GOP sexual predators. Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, covered for Ohio state Rep. Wes Goodman (R) after his sexual encounters with other men, at least one of them allegedly not consensual. Documents indicate that he sexually assaulted a young man at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. in 2015 while employed by the Council for National Policy (CNP), a somewhat-secretive umbrella organization for prominent conservative leaders from across the country. Goodman has since resigned after an “inappropriate interaction” in his legislative office that GOP Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger deemed consensual. The legislator’s position included virulent opposition to LGBTQ rights; Perkins promised the teenage boy’s stepfather that “this will not be ignored nor swept aside. It will be dealt with swiftly, but with prudence.” Two months later Goodman was running for office. Perkins did suspend his membership with CNP but isn’t answering questions.

Approximately 30 sources, mostly college-aged men, reported inappropriate advances such as unwanted sexting, photos of his body, and hot tub invitations. One news source reported that Goodman targeted “young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain.” They feared for their own careers if they reported his undesired sexual advances.

Although the future looks dark at this time of year, a column by conservative Ross Douthat gives a light at the end of the tunnel. According to sociologist Christian Smith, younger evangelicals will “invent evangelicalism anew” because they were “betrayed by older pastors who insisted on the importance of moral character and then abandoned these preachments for the sake of partisanship — revealing their own commitments as essentially idolatrous.” Baylor professor Alan Jacobs goes farther when he predicts that young people will stop identifying with evangelicalism and move on to less radical philosophies. An “evangelical crackup” may come from pitting anti-Trump Southern Baptist Russell Moore “against the nationalist evangelicalism of a Jerry Falwell Jr. or Robert Jeffress.”

A common question about Republicans is how low can they sink. The possibility seems bottomless. After saying that he believed the allegations against Moore, that he was unfit to serve in public office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is now tacitly supporting him.

“The people of Alabama are going to decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. It’s really up to them. It’s been a pretty robust campaign with a lot of people weighing in. The president and I, of course, supported somebody different earlier in the process. But in the end, the voters of Alabama will make their choice.”

Despite McConnell’s call on Moore to drop out of the race, Moore continues to say that Democrats and the media are making all the women are lying about what he did to them. He claims that LGBTQ people are orchestrating a campaign against him, and conservative outlets are smearing the women. The polls have been up and down for Moore, but polls have proved to be sometimes unreliable since the advent of DDT. One poll gives Moore a six-point lead over his opponent, Doug Jones, whereas another one puts Jones three points ahead.

The Alabaman argument for supporting Moore is to stop abortion. Conservative Jonathan Last wrote that his election will “set back the pro-life cause of years.” It will be an “albatross” for the GOP, and Democrats can use him to take over both chambers in 2018. According to Last, “the chances of Moore hurting the broader GOP caucus in a catastrophic way next year outweigh the chances of that one vote being make-or-break for abortion during the next four years.” (The winner of the December 12 election will be up again in 2020 because he is finishing Jeff Sessions’ term.)

Voting for DDT already increased the rot in the GOP; voting for Moore would increase the decay. Last asks if there is any limit to what a GOP candidate would do to stop votes—and stop the putrefaction. He concludes:

“If you care about the actual impact of supporting Moore—rather than preening in public about how you want people to view you—you start by looking in the mirror and thinking about the next compromise you’ll be asked to make.”

Nine more days until Moore’s election date. We’ll see then whether people in Alabama continue the destruction of the GOP.

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