Nel's New Day

July 31, 2022

Alito Leads the Christian Nationalists

Last week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor (R-GA), a GOP leader, called on Republicans to rename themselves “The Christian Nationalist Party.” She said, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.” In the past, Christian nationalists largely denied its existence or shouted name-calling if accused of the religious white supremacy. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) followed Greene by saying:

“The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church. I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

Christian nationalists believe the myth that the U.S. was created as a “Christian nation,” that framers didn’t believe in neutrality in religion. The purpose of Christian nationalism is dividing the nation into “us v. them” with entitled White Christians controlling all governments and courts. The January 6 insurrectionist was a public example of the violence to obtain this privilege. The 2022 election has expanded the push toward Christian nationalism with candidates such as Doug Mastriano as a candidate for Pennsylvania’s governor.

When Greene ran for Congress in 2019, she attacked Muslim Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), accusing them of trying to impose “Sharia in America” and demanded they “go back to the Middle East.” No religious freedom there. Omar is a naturalized citizen from Somalia, and Tlaib was born in Detroit. Greene’s accusations violate the “freedom of religion” in the U.S. Constitution. Mastriano agrees with Greene in falsely claiming that elected Muslims “practice Sharia law” because they “respect neither the culture nor the rights of the original population.” Neither does he, because Native Americans, America’s indigenous peoples, did not practice Christianity.

Christian nationalism tries to enforce their belief that only White Christians have full rights, and the U.S. Supreme has gained a majority supporting that fascist belief. Justice Samuel Alito is leading the group to force his values on the entire nation. Last Thursday, he gave a political speech in Rome, supposedly about “religious liberty,” but ridiculing national opposition to his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. In his writing, he went back to rulings from the 1200s to justify the rights of states to block all abortions, even one for a raped 10-year-old girl.

Justices now give faith-based speeches at faith-based events sponsored by faith-based parties who file briefs before the court. They have no obligation to publicize or record their speeches, but the University of Notre Dame released a video of his speech. To Alito, secularism is a threat to religious freedom although authors of the Constitution created a secular government with religious liberty. Alito’s justification for forcing religion on people is that an increasing percentage of the population is rejecting it.

In his speech, Alito attacked world readers to get cheap laughs about people who don’t meet his high “religious” standards. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed disappointment at Alito’s faulty ruling and opinion in eliminating abortion in the U.S., and the European Union’s parliament formally condemned the reversal of protections for this reproductive healthcare after the SCOTUS ruling of Roe v. Wade a half century ago. Alito sarcastically said that Johnson “paid the price” with his criticism by his resignation from the position, which had nothing to do with his comments about the supreme Court ruling.

Alito decried the “growing hostility to religion, or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.” When he complained almost two years ago about safety restrictions precautions during the pandemic, his political speech railed against marriage equality, contraception, reproductive rights, and five Democratic senators. Last fall, Alito criticized U.S. journalists,Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CO) said that “judges turning into political actors, giving speeches attacking journalists, is terrible for the court and terrible for democracy.” 

Instead of a “new moral code,” however, the United States “has more non-Christian people to question the implied, often systemic primacy of Christian values and rules in American society,” wrote Philip Bump. He compared the change to the increase of non-White people who may be skeptical of a society in the U.S. that advantages Whites.  The “new code” which Alito sneers at, is recognition of people long excluded from power. This is the threat to Alito’s “traditional” beliefs.

Since Alito got on the Supreme Court, thanks to George W. Bush, he has followed the evangelical policy of denying rights to women. In 2007, he ruled against Lily Ledbetter’s lawsuit that Goodyear was guilty of pay discrimination by giving men higher wages than women for the same type of job. Ledbetter discovered the discrimination in 1998 and filed an EEOC complaint, and Alito stated that she should have followed the law by filing her claim within 180 days after he first paycheck. She filed as soon as she discovered, after nine years, the disparity, but Alito didn’t care. 

Known for rolling his eyes at female justices during oral arguments, Alito belonged to Concerned Alumni of Princeton, formed from outrage for women being admitted to the university. Appointed to the 3rd Circuit Court by Ronald Reagan, Alito argued that women must tell their husbands before having an abortion, indifferent to the possibility of domestic violence. He used the justification that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor held that position although she joined the ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that “women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry.” Angry about Casey’s reference to “undue burden” permitting abortions, Alito threw out the possibility of any abortions. His argument is that regulating abortion is not a “sex-based classification” of the sort that would trigger heightened constitutional scrutiny merely because it’s a “medical procedure that only one sex can undergo.”

During Alito’s speech, he took umbrage that he witnessed a young boy in Berlin ask who Jesus was, which he described as ignorance about religion. He described it as a “growing hostility to religion, or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.” Thus  he makes Christianity is mandatory although Christians comprise under one-third of the people in the world. Alito’s speech was the emphasis on demanding all people being religious (aka Christian).  Quoting St. Augustine, he said, “Our hearts are restless until we rest in God.”

On the same day as Alito’s speech, Justice Elena Kagan warned that the hard-right majority of justices risks destroying the court’s legitimacy. At a conference in Montana, she said,

“I’m not talking about any particular decision or even any particular series of decisions, but if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for a democracy. People are rightly suspicious if one justice leaves the court or dies and another justice takes his or her place and all of sudden the law changes on you.”

After the six Supremes removed women’s right to abortions, confidence in SCOTUS fell to 25 percent in a conservative Gallup poll. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called Alito’s speech an “embarrassment to the Supreme Court.” Lieu tweeted:

“He doesn’t understand there are different religions in America. What makes America great is that we let you practice your faith, change your faith or have no faith at all. Some religions support abortion, some don’t.”

Norm Ornstein, Emeritus scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

“Alito is not just a partisan hack. He is the leader of this partisan and reckless court, and he is a clear and present danger to our basic system of governance and of justice.”

Samantha Marcotte tried to explain how Alito was wrong in why people abandon religion, that it has occurred because of evangelicals’ opposition to expanded rights for all regardless of race, gender, sex, and sexuality:

“If Republicans want to know who is to blame for young people abandoning the church in droves, they should look in the mirror. The more both Republicans and the Christian establishment reject these basic rights, the more they can expect to be rejected themselves, especially by younger people.”

Instead of protecting religious freedom, Alito wants to impose his religion on everyone as a baseline of morality and public policy. He ignores any separation of church and state but instead expresses rage and disgust that society shifts away from the beliefs that he wants to be central to society. His treatment of those presenting cases in his court displays a personal belief that they are all fools or idiots—Republicans in the first group and liberal justices disagreeing with in the second.

Both Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas lead the charge to do away with rights by appearing to keep them—just making them much harder to achieve. In the case of blocking abortion, they turned it into states’ rights with about 60 percent of the states determined to block the procedure and going so far as to prevent pregnant women from cross state lines and perhaps even execute women who obtain abortions. In Miranda, people must still be read their rights—if they know enough to ask for them; people can’t sue police for not receiving a Miranda warning. Criminal defendants can’t challenge convictions for bad legal help with lawyers missing deadlines for appeals.

In the past, sane people held out a hope that Congress could protect them from Christian Nationalists; now the Supreme Court will not be protecting the law.

July 24, 2022

Christian Nationlists Drive Away Church Members

Religious leaders in the U.S., like the conservative Supreme Court justices, want to make the U.S. a theocracy, overturning rights such as abortion and moving forward to block contraception, marriage equality, etc. With the growing prevalence of Christian nationalism (aka white supremacy) since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was elected in 2016, however, Christianity is losing numbers in its congregations. For the first time, a majority of people don’t belong to any church; only 47 percent have a membership. Only 14 percent of people in the U.S. identify as evangelical Christians.  

The movement from a “feel-good,” “uplifting approach” to hateful political Christian nationalists rants in sermons may be partly responsible. Instead of “welcoming and inclusive,” one pastor in a large St. Louis church prepares his audience for a bloody “final battle” where “the bullets are real.” He assigns books and documentaries about the evidence-free election fraud of 2020, and calls Christianity a “battleship.” Sermons began to sound like “Fox News” at the beginning of DDT’s term, even calling the COVID vaccine “the mark of the beast.” People started leaving halfway through the sermons about “critical race theory,” and new faces were older and whiter.

Christian nationalists believe the U.S. is a completely Christian nation and should follow evangelical beliefs. They want to erase separation and state while claiming biblical references for right-wing culture issues such as the drag queen story hours. DDT is represented as a Christ-like figure, and the violent Proud Boys provide security for Christian nationalist pastors.

A breaking point for many parishioners was insisting on in-person services during the pandemic. Churches had millions of dollars stashed away but ignored the growing poverty caused by lockdowns. People left the radicalized churches because they showed no love for people.

In 2019, the 86-year-old group Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, composed of ministers, lawyers, and political activists, formed the Christians Against Christian Nationalism. It calls Christian nationalism a “damaging political ideology,” a “persistent threat to both our religious communities and our democracy.” According to its initiative, Christian nationalism “often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation.” The group also wrote the 2021 report identifying Christian nationalism as the driving ideology behind the Capitol riot.

Evangelical Christians are lobbying conservative Supreme Court justices by wining, dining, and entertaining them for conservative positions on abortion, homosexuality, open gun use, and other issues for several decades. Couples meeting with the justices were directed to focus on “the importance of a child having a father and a mother” and say, “We believe you are here for a time like this.” They report back to the group regarding their progress. VP Peggy Nienaber of Faith and Liberty, part of the legal group Liberty Counsel, prayed with justices. A staffer for Liberty Counsel behind much of the anti-civil rights litigation, reclassified as an “association of churches” in 2018, also said she prays with conservative justices inside the court building.

Since DDT’s election in 2016, activist groups can much more easily gain church status, hiding themselves from financial examination and taxes. An example is the Family Research Council (FRC), steps from the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Its legislative lobbying opposes gender-affirming surgery, abortion, and civil rights through religious exemptions. FRC’s parent organization, Focus on the Family, became a church in 2016. Groups with church status are not required to file public tax returns, reveal key staffer salaries and other officials such as board members, and give such information as grants and large payments to independent contractors. They cannot be audited without permission from a high-level Treasury official.

The IRS has 14 characteristics to identify churches or association of churches, but an organization doesn’t need to meet all 14. FRC states the group has almost 40,000 churches in its association but didn’t name them. It performs ceremonies bush as baptisms and has schools, but these are the responsibilities of the unnamed churches. Although FRC stated it holds regular chapel services for its 65 employees at its office building, a staffer denied the claim.

In early 2022, the American Family Association running the influential American Family Radio network, a film studio, and a magazine changed its designation to a church. It sends out frequent “action alerts”asking subscribers to sign petitions opposing government appointees or boycott media and brands that it identifies as supporting LGBTQ rights or abortion access.

Churches also have a “ministerial exemption” to hiring discrimination laws for religious leaders; i.e., Catholic churches can exclude women when hiring priests. Judicial rulings permit churches to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and other reasons.

The IRS does not reveal how many groups apply to come churches and how many applications it denies. With the proliferation of right-wing political activist groups becoming churches, the Satanic Temple received church recognition in 2019 and is now suing Texas, claiming that the state’s abortion restrictions inhibit the liberty of the organization’s members to practice their religious rituals. The FRC and Liberty Counsel complain that the Satanic Temple is too political to be a church, but the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the FRC, Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association as hate groups for their anti-LGBTQ stances and advocacy. Their theocratic direction, however, leads them to influence politics away from democracy.

Rules prohibiting public, tax-exempt charities including churches from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office” dates back to 1954. These tax-exempt groups, however, can deal in “issue advocacy” such as voter education. If their lobbying is not a “substantial part” of their activities, they can lobby for political causes. For direct political activities, the FRC uses another tax-exempt organization, a social welfare organization called Family Research Council Action, which actively endorses candidates and lobbies for legislation. It is registered at the same address and shares five part-time employees with the FRC with FRC listing no full-time employees.

Scandals are also driving people away from churches. A Southwest Missouri boys’ boarding and reform school faces 19 lawsuits for physical and emotional abuse of the students and violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by misrepresenting or concealing information from parents, such as the quality of education provided, activities at the school, discipline practices, and food and medical treatment. State AG Eric Schmitt asked Gov. Mike Parson for 65 criminal courts against 22 individuals connected to Agapè Boarding School. A longtime physician for the school also faces charges of child sex crime charges in another county. Still open and enrolling students, the Christian school, a ministry of Agapè Baptist Church, supposedly “turns around rebellious boys.”

In the Daily Beast, Kate Briquelet reported on her interviews with former students:

“They encountered a climate … like Lord of the Flies, where staff were given free rein to restrain and beat students, and where some kids were emotionally and sexually abused. They claim Agapé has functioned like a ‘cult’ and ‘Christian torture compound’ for decades, allowing adults to manhandle teenagers and withhold food, water, and proper clothing — apparently without most parents ever knowing.

“[Agapé] banned children from speaking to each other without adults present, censored their letters home, destroyed photographs showing anything other than happy faces, and admonished kids that if they ran away, locals with guns would hunt them down.”

Finally closed seven years ago, West Virginia’s Blue Creek Academy, another “reform” school for boys and part of the nearby Independent Fundamental Church, was an “alternative to today’s degenerate, secular culture and education methods.” It subjected boys to neglect, isolation, silence, rat-infested quarters, physical beating, and sexual abuse. Religious schools in West Virginia don’t need to comply with any standards, and the state is not unique with other states providing no control over these schools. Pastors consider school licensing an “intrusion into freedom of the church’s rights.” No website tracks schools, and the Supreme Court may require taxpayers to pay for tuition to them.

In May, the Southern Baptist Convention released a report about 703 pastors and church workers accused of sexual abuse, most of the cases suppressed by the churches by years and kept in a secret database for almost two decades. Assaulters went to the highest level with one leader sexually assaulting a woman one month after he finished a two-year tenure as convention president. Heather Cox Richardson provides an overview of SBC’s deterioration and declining enrollment.

A survivor of abuse said:

“This is a denomination that is through and through about power. It is misappropriated power… I am so gutted.”

The Southern Baptists said the denomination couldn’t put together a registry of sex offenders because it goes against how it functions. One reason, however, is that leaders were afraid of being sued. Private emails also showed how leaders believed sexual abuse concerns were “a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.” Russell Moore, who left his position in 2021 as head of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “The depths of wickedness and inhumanity in this report are breathtaking.”  

Michael Gerson, George W. Bush’s speechwriter, wrote about “a culture of brutal chauvinism that has grown up for generations around Christianity… An utter failure to prioritize abused women and children is the largest crisis of institutional religion in the United States.”

And the Republicans—including the Supreme Court majority—promote the practice.

February 27, 2022

Putin’s Christian Empire Including U.S.?

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has polarized the world with the majority of countries opposing him. On the other hand, he still has U.S. Nationalists on his team, many of them claiming to be Christians. Lauren Witzke, Delaware GOP 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate, claims, “I identify more with … Putin’s Christian values than I do with Joe Biden’s.” Former adviser to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) agreed by asserting in approval, “Putin ain’t woke.” Tucker Carlson praised Putin for not “teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination” (which the U.S. doesn’t), “making fentanyl” (which the U.S. federal government doesn’t), and “trying to snuff out Christianity” (again something the U.S. doesn’t do). Russian state-TV played Carlson’s full declaration because Carlson skipped the part about Putin jailing and murdering dissidents and LGBTQ people.

Carlson ignored some of Putin’s history. He passed a 2016 law criminalizing evangelical efforts outside church walls, targeting Christians for public displays of faith. In 2019, a Baptist pastor was arrested in Russia for his “illegal” missionary activity in leading a Baptist worship service, and two other Baptists got into trouble for handing out religious material at a bus stop. Jehovah’s Witnesses are often persecuted, facing up to ten years in prison.

In Russia, anyone sharing a religious faith must also have a permit. The year after Putin’s law was passed, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom put Russia on its list of countries most hostile to the expression of faith, and Russia stayed there along with Syria, India, and Vietnam perpetuating “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” violations of religious liberty. The Soviet Union of Putin’s earlier years, firmly atheistic, used secularism to have state worship. It failed at that time so Putin is working back toward this position.

Putin claimed his invasion is to “denazify” Ukraine, the country with an elected Jewish president receiving 70 percent of the popular vote, because, according to Putin, Russian Christians were the real victims of the Holocaust. Ukraine has a far-right group with the Azov battalion, a far-right nationalist group, but all democratic countries suffer from the same problem, the U.S. perhaps more than many. The Ukrainian far-right received only two percent of the vote in the 2019 election, again far less than the far-right vote for DDT in 2020.

The fascism of Russia and eastern Europe targets Jews as a corrupt stateless race seeking global domination and excusing its violence to protect its perception of a pure religious and national identity from liberals. In the West, fascism is inextricably tied to Christian nationalism with its defense of European Christianity and opposition to Muslim migration.

Fascism justifies its violence by offering to protect a supposedly pure religious and national identity from the forces of liberalism. In the West, fascism presents itself as the defender of European Christianity against these forces, as well as mass Muslim migration. Thus it is increasingly hard to distinguish from Christian Nationalism. Putin’s goal to “denazify” Ukraine fits the myth that the real agents of violence are a global cabal of Jews trying to destroy Russian Christians by attacking the Christian faith and the Russian nation. He uses this lie to persuade Russians who oppose his preemptive invasion of Ukraine.

Concerned about the growing Christian Nationalist movement in the U.S., the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty released a report on the growing nationalism leading up to Christian insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The report went public only two weeks before Putin used Christian Nationalism in a false rationale to invade Ukraine. The main points of the report:

White Christian nationalism supports the same kind of “sharia law” used to damn Muslims. For those who have forgotten about this excuse for discrimination, bigots warned about how Islamic religious law could rule governments, preventing constitutional law and statutes to govern the people in the United States. In the years from 2010 to 2017, state legislatures introduced 201 anti-Sharia law bills and enacted 14 of them in a non-existent problem. They didn’t want extremist religious fanatics using their version of God to run the nation—like the Christian Nationalists now want to do with legaling their military theocracy through their “Christian” fatwas and jihads.  

Christians need to condemn the distorted versions of “Christianity” just as they demanded Muslims do the same after the 9/11 attacks. Even now, people who look like Muslims, speak like them, read their religious book, and call God by the name they use face suspicious; they’re told to clearly state, “That’s not us. White Christians need to disavow Christian Nationalists who support a military religion and want to use it for dominating all other people.

“Every robber or oppressor in history has wrapped himself in a cloak of patriotism or religion, or both,” said Eugene V. Debs. In another version, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” Just like the flags and crosses at the insurrection, Putin is using his flag and religious excuses to justify taking over an independent democracy.

In 1981, Billy Graham said, “The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.” “God’s Law” has existed since the formation of the U.S., and the nineteenth-century Manifest Destiny—the idea that only white Christians can control the U.S.—was an excuse for either eradicating indigenous peoples or putting them on small plots of undesirable plots of land while continuing the subjugation of any other minorities. Thanks to big corporations and Republicans controlling Ronald Reagan, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority began to take over the U.S., piece by piece, pushing Christian nationism in the last part of the twentieth century. The twentieth-first century George W. Bush and Donald Trump increased the movement’s control over government and the judiciary.

The Baptist report called for a nonviolent countermovement centered in the Jesus of the Bible. As the authors declared, Christian Nationalism is growing support from places such as the Republican National Committee that adopted a resolution calling Christian Nationalists attacking the Capitol “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” Millions of people, joined by more millions of people, will believe in how the insurrection began a holy war. These people have the financial support of wealthy, powerful people who can arm the Christian Nationalists.

Like Vladimir Putin and DDT, millions of people in the U.S. are pushing the idea of a Christian Nationalist takeover—not for Christianity but for power.

Like Lauren Witzke, conservatives have a history of worshipping Putin. During President Obama’s administration, right-wing Christian leader called him a “savior of Christian civilization,” and two-time presidential loser Pat Buchanan said Putin was “a God-and-country Russian patriot” and champion of Christianity “against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be” during DDT’s time in the White House.

Christian Nationalists love Putin’s oppressive regime because he promotes “traditional” views of family, sexuality, and gender while working to prevent and reverse international recognition of reproductive rights or the equality of LGBTQ people. The International Organization for Families (IOF), working against marriage equality and adoption by same-gender couples, obtained funding from Putin’s oligarchs and political operatives through leadership by Brian Brown. A major funder of IOF’s parent company World Congress of Families, billionaire Konstantin Malofeev, wants to reestablish the Russian monarchy with Putin as tsar. In 2013, Malofeev stated that “Christian Russia can help liberate the West from the new liberal anti-Christian totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass-media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma.”

Among far-right Christian leadership, evangelist Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, praised Putin as the hero taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue.” Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and asked U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions like Putin did. Matt Barber extolled Putin for being able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world,” and far-right Christian activist Scott Lively admired Putin for “championing traditional marriage and Christian values.”

Conservatives have delivered many lies about DDT’s strength and Biden’s weakness. Radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones praised Putin for promoting “masculine men” and homeschooling. To Christian Nationalists, destroying democracies through violence and force is the manly thing to do.

Religious historian Diana Butler Bass described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “a new version of an old tale—the quest to recreate an imperial Christian state, a neo-medieval ‘Holy Roman Empire’—uniting political, economic, and spiritual power into an entity to control the earthly and heavenly destiny of European peoples.” In 2013, Putin spoke about Euro-Atlantic countries “denying their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization.” He attacks secularism, communist China, and Islam in a desire for “a coalition to unify religious conservatives into a kind of supra-national neo-Christendom.” The partnership will be among U.S. evangelicals, traditional Western Catholics, and Orthodox peoples under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church to complete the Third, and final, Roman Empire, predicted in Christian prophetic books. 

Putin’s invasion won’t stop at the Ukrainian border.

February 13, 2022

Christian Nationalists Take Over U.S.

Last fall, Mike Flynn, the first National Security Adviser for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who was fired in less than three weeks, said, “We have to have one religion. One national under God, and one religion under God.” Company at the “Reawaken America Tour” included Alex Jones (“the devil’s reign on this planet is coming to an end”), MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, DDT-pardoned Roger Stone, and the incessant “Let’s go, Brandon” chant.

Ohio’s GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel declared, “We should be instilling faith in the classroom, in the workplace, and everywhere in society.” Fired by DDT because he wouldn’t overturn the 2020 election, former AG Bill Barr received an award from the Catholics and blamed all the ills of society on the nation for not being Christian. The rejection of separation of church and state has joined the radicalization of violence as those searching for a theocracy supports a ”Holy War,” just like Islam jihadists.  

In the past year, Republicans, pushed by far-right Christians have rewritten the history of the January 6 insurrection, according to a report from the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Journalists and researchers found the Christian nationalism behind the January 6 insurrection drives the rewrite. Christian nationalist support for the insurrectionists doubled in the past year with support for prosecuting rioters declining by 20 percent, leading to “future potential violence.” According to Christian nationalists, the United States was created as a Christian nation with its founding documents divinely inspired. “True Americans” are “white, culturally conservative, natural-born citizens.” Almost half the people in the U.S. want to fuse Christianity and civil life.

The report explains that the movement of Christian nationalism into the mainstream came from the “Holy War” coding of the “War on Terror” after 9/11. The insurrection was filled with Christian symbols and multiple statements about God’s hand or voice leading them to break into the Capitol. Proud Boys prayed in the street as “God’s warriors.” At DDT’s rally on January 6, a group of young men, followers of White nationalist Nick Fuentes, waved “America First” flags and chanted, “Christ is King!” Fuentes’ followers use this chant at anti-vax and anti-abortion protest while holding up crucifixes as well as at the America First conference when Fuentes said America will no longer be America “if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ.” He called the U.S. “a Christian nation.” During the U.S. attack on the Capitol, insurrectionists, including Fuentes’ followers, prayed and waved banners reading “Proud American Christian.” Their philosophy includes racism, anti-Semitism, and passionate nationalism.

From believers in Christian nationalism come the lies that Antifa or Black Lives Matter caused the violence on Jan. 6 and DDT is blameless. They believe that the 2020 election was rigged, violence is necessary to save the country, and Democrats are involved in “elite child trafficking.”

A study published last September in Political Psychology shows that Republicans change their moral values to be congruous with DDT. Researchers said:

“Political leadership is moral leadership. Many voters revise even their fundamental views of what they describe as right and wrong based on their perceptions of the candidates they support. Ideas and positions that might have seemed out of bounds can become normalized very quickly if they receive support from political leaders.”

This shift can be a reason for intractable partisan conflict blocking debate: “voters from each party may not even share a common understanding of the candidates in question.” Although the study was for the 2016 election, follow-up work shows even greater polarization for Biden supporters, and “anti-democratic attitudes among Trump supporters.”

Christian nationalists are indoctrinating their students in public schools. In Huntington (WV), students were taken to an assembly during school where they were told to close their eyes, raise their arms in prayer, and turn their lives over to Christ to save themselves from eternal damnation. A Jewish student asked to leave, and the teacher told him he couldn’t because the classroom was locked. Learning of their rights, about 100 students walked out of school in protest.

Oklahoma has a pending bill permitting parents to sue teachers who provide instruction opposing the “closely held religious beliefs of students.” Parents can also demand any book on school shelves with LGBTQ content be removed. Each incident is worth $10,000—like the anti-abortion law in Texas—with a $10,000 charge for every day the book stays on the shelf. Teachers must pay the money “from personal resources” without “any assistance from individuals or groups.” Any teacher who cannot pay will be immediately fired without the right to teach in the state for five years. An offence could be teaching evolution if any students believes in creationism or forms of birth control if a student believes in abstinence. Or correctly explaining the mix of religious and non-religious Founding Fathers.  

Evangelicals have been joined by libertarian billionaires who think tax money should not be wasted on improving “the underclasses” that they “worked so hard to earn.” Put people in these two categories with white supremacist militia leaders who want to expand their white membership by “taking on authorities” and Fox propaganda makes the issue of book burning and anti-teaching a winner. Within the past few months, they have all created a non-existent moral panic leading to hundreds of GOP bills in double-digit numbers of red states to censor books and school curricula.

Accompanying those bills, many of them turned into punitive laws, is the movement to completely privatize public education like the one fighting segregation after the 1954 Brown v. Topeka Supreme Court decision ended racial segregation in public schools. Counties responded by closing their schools and opening “Christian academies,” meaning White only. These schools morphed into Ronald Reagan’s charter schools which began to dominate public education. Washington, D.C. has as many for-profit charter schools as public schools.

Former Secretary of Education and billionaires Betsy DeVos wants to destroy unionized public education because she believes any “reform” is impossible:

“Because wokeness is the left’s religion, ‘banning’ critical race theory or the 1619 Project won’t fix the problem. The liberal education establishment will simply rename, rebrand, or repackage these insidious ideas to get around so-called bans.”

Republicans specialize in creating panics: Islamophobia, birther claims against President Obama, migrant caravans heading to the southern border, “bathroom hysteria” against trans students, etc. The only losers in the current crisis are minorities and youth, and almost all students can’t vote.

The new panic against “history” and education is being twisted into “parental rights,” a strategy that Glenn Youngkin, worth $440 millionaire, used to drop himself into the Virginia gubernatorial seat. Right-wingers, especially Christian fundamentalists, don’t want young people to think for themselves; that’s why they are discouraged from attending higher education. Intellectual curiosity tends to separate from the church that wants them to be obedient to whatever the leadership claims. The “biblical parenting” movement starting in 1970 from James Dobson’s book Dare to Discipline promotes a believe in “the enforced submission of children to absolute authority.” Children are to be “trained,” not educated. Striking children is outlawed in 63 countries but “legal in all 50 states.”

The Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation led the promotion of the term “critical race theory” that outrages some parents in curriculum about racism in history and literature classes. A hate group behind the movement, the white supremacist International Organization for the Family, pushes the authoritarian and patriarchal definition of family. Originally called the World Congress of Families, it excludes any families except a married man and woman with their biological children; the man is the head of the household and the woman the bearer of children. All families must follow this pattern to prevent the “demographic winter,” caused by women in the workplace, abortion, homosexuality, and any other deviations from the “natural family.”

All these mandates are lumped under “parental rights,” a term that blocks education about history, critical thinking skills, literature and art, health education including information about sexuality and gender orientation/identity. Eliminating these elements in education removes young people’s right to expand their horizons and grow up to become healthy adults. The Christian right, however, doesn’t want children to think for themselves, even when they become adults.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the “replacement” for the brilliant jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is leading the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. Less than a month after her confirmation, she led the decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, permitting churches to spread COVID throughout the congregation in the name of “religious liberty” instead of complying with state directives for all large gatherings.     

In an earlier case Chief Justice John Roberts had stated that “an ‘unelected federal judiciary’ … lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” No longer. As shown in the overruling of vaccine mandates, ignorant conservative justices believe they know all. And the same rulings will occur for book selection and school curricula. Gone is “a neutral law of general applicability” requiring “religious liberty” followers to follow the same laws and rules as everyone else. Religious cases are now being heard in the high court far more often than previously, many of them in shadow dockets without argument—and the rules are weighted in favor of conservatives, especially the Christian right. Thus, conservative religious objectors get exceptions, disfavored groups including “lesser” religions get fewer rights, and the separation of church and state is crumbling.

January 17, 2022

Supreme Court Caught on Religion

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 12:59 AM
Tags: , , , ,

For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has no self-identified Protestant. Although Neil Gorsuch now attends the Anglican Church, he was raised Catholic, putting him one of the seven Catholics sitting on the bench. Steven Breyer and Elena Kagan are Jewish. This demographic is at odds with the religious makeup of the U.S. population: 20 percent Catholic and two percent Jewish. Another 43 percent are Protestant, and 26 percent of the population considers themselves unaffiliated. Thus 78 percent of the U.S. population has no representation on the Supreme Court.

Religion should not interfere with a judge’s ruling, but a strong Catholic upbringing can result in a hierarchal and patriarchal philosophy in governance and behavior. Amy Coney Barrett demonstrated her adherence to the church by serving on the board of her religion’s schools after knowledge of their sexual abuse became well known. Decisions are delivered from the top in the Catholic Church with no allowance for democratic input or appeal. The rationale of originalism or textualism, when convenient, is especially important to Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, following the former Catholic justice Anthony Scalia.

Thus the conservative Catholic justices view the U.S. Constitution, intended to be secular, as holy Scripture that must be read for its words and not its meaning. The end result is a controlling authority by these justices by only the elite. This ideology fits the Republican party that expects their justices to follow party dictates to obtain the GOP political goals.

Since justices appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have gained the majority, one of them only ten days before Joe Biden was elected president, they have permitted the rampant spread of COVID in churches, kept refugees in Mexico, and refused to block evictions during the pandemic. Recently, the majority permitted vigilantes to pursue anyone “assisting” with abortions, even if that meant only talking positively about abortions and giving a pregnant person a ride for her procedure.

The Reformation, a protest against Catholicism, began a more bottom-up approach to decision-making, and Protestantism influenced the U.S. political governing bodies from the days of the Founding Fathers. Women began to be admitted to Protestant clergy and leadership decades ago, and Protestant ideology is one of “priesthood of all believers” in which people use independent consciences to make decisions. From this comes a process of independent judicial thought, missing among the SCOTUS majority.

Catholics tend to oppose separation of church and state, obvious in the Supreme Court decisions within the past several months. Activism of the conservative majority effects this through its “state law” instead of constitutional law. In that way, the Republicans can control a majority of states, thereby controlling a majority of senators to block laws presented by Democrats. Through the increase of religious control within DDT’s four years, the country has become increasingly polarized because conservative Christian religion expanded its control over laws for all people, no matter what religion they have—or don’t have. The Supreme Court has the ultimate rule over any laws. At this time, the conservative majority of justices is enforcing religion over secular law, using any artifice they wish.

During this term, the Supreme Court will decide such religious cases as whether taxpayers must fund tuition at non-licensed private religious schools, whether the city hall can fly a religious flag on the city flag pole, and if a person being executed can have non-Christian spiritual advisers—which Alabama and Texas have banned.

The high court will now take Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the case of a Washington state high school football coach who wanted to pray at mid-field after games. A parent had filed a complaint because his son, an atheist and one of the team players, felt as if he must join in the prayer to avoid loss of playing time. The district tried to make accommodations for the coach by offering a private space for prayer or permitting him to pray after the crowd had left. He continued the practice and was placed on paid administrative leave. The head coach recommended he not be rehired for a variety of reasons, and Kennedy, who didn’t apply for a coaching position, used the First Amendment and civil rights laws to suit the school district. His appeal against the decisions by the district court and the 9th Circuit Court to the Supreme Court in 2018 was turned down although Alito issued a statement, joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, that the court might review it in the future. The high court now has its majority for the coach with Barrett.

Another case likely to appear before the Supreme Court could come from mandatory vaccines starting with those in military service. The troops have peacefully agreed to take 17 different vaccinations, but some of them are balking at the vaccination for COVID. In early January, a federal judge in Texas blocked the Defense Department from taking action against 35 Navy sailors refusing the coronavirus vaccine, stating that they can use religion as an excuse because the vaccine uses cell lines from a voluntarily aborted fetus. The Navy does not permit religious exemption to any vaccine before the COVID vaccination.

Success with this excuse would also exempt people from vaccines against rubella (German measles), hepatitis, chicken pox, smallpox, and polio as well as over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Claritin, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, Prilosec, and Zoloft. In addition, the most popular treatment COVID, the monoclonal antibody Regeneron, was derived from fetal tissue as was the medication Remdesivir. 

A major missing piece in “religious freedom” is a formal definition of “religion,” something that the courts have never established. In 1890, the Supreme Court wrote in Davis v. Beason:

“[T]he term ‘religion’ has reference to one’s views of his relations to his Creator, and to the obligations they impose of reverence for his being and character, and of obedience to his will.”

An expansion of this explanation in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) was the statement that the establishment clause prevents government from aiding “those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.” A footnote clarified that this principle extended to “religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God … Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.”

In United States v. Seeger (1965), the court addressed conscientious objector status by people objecting to war individuals for reasons other than a supreme being, which the statute required, as did Welsh v. United States (1970) which combined religion with deeply and sincerely held moral and ethical beliefs.

Yet by 1972, the majority in Wisconsin v. Yoder applied the free-exercise clause only to “a ‘religious’ belief or practice and “the very concept of ordered liberty precludes allowing every person to make his own standards on matters of conduct in which society as a whole has important interests.” Thomas v. Review Board (1981) went further away from protecting philosophical values, ruling that a Jehovah’s Witness who quit his job after transfer to a weapons-making facility was motivated by his religious beliefs.

Courts throw around the words “religion” and religious freedom” but have no guidance about what they mean. The current court’s “definition” of religious freedom makes people denied freedom by the religion into second-class citizens, in some situations even in danger of illness.

Last Saturday night, DDT, the man who appointed one-third of the Supreme Court justices met with 15,000 of his faithful followers at Florence (AZ), home to the prison where the state performs executions. Once again, John F. Kennedy didn’t appear to be president, and the “live performances” by dead musicians and singers such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Tupac, and John Lennon didn’t materialize.  [visual: trump tired]

Last July, DDT looked a bit tired at his appearance in Sarasota (FL), but he evidently lasted 93 minutes to worshipping cries. As usual, he spewed lies about election fraud in a state spending $5.8 million, only to find fewer votes for him and no criminal charges for any fraud. Pennsylvania, which wants to mimic Arizona with a so-called “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election, suffered a setback after the state Supreme Court temporarily delayed a private inspection of the Dominion voting machines used in a heavily GOP county, population 14,500, where DDT won 85 percent of the vote.

The New York Times bravely did a fact-check on DDT’s statements and published one article about how nervous Republicans are about DDT’s repetition of past grievances.  Otherwise, the mainstream media largely ignored the event. The world is tired of DDT’s stale repetitions, and he isn’t getting any buzz for them. People aren’t even outraged about him anymore; they’re just waiting to see what comes out of the January 6 investigation—and the Supreme Court.

 

January 9, 2022

Pope Francis: Pets v. Children

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:07 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

According to Pope Francis, people who have pets instead of children are “selfish,” demonstrating a “denial of fatherhood or motherhood” that “diminishes us, it takes away our humanity.” He followed that statement in an interview by saying this value system reflects a “sign of cultural degeneration.” Although the pope has no known pets, unlike many of his predecessors, he wrote in his 2015 encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You. On Care for Our Common Home”:  

“Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.”

His statement about pets and children resulted in an immediate backlash. Massimo Comparotto, the president of the Italian branch of the International Organization for the Protection of Animals said:

“It is strange to think that the pope considers love in our lives to be limited in quantity, and that giving it to someone takes it away from others.”

(Right: Our Latte questions a decision by the veterinarian.)

Others had longer explanations. Flora x. Tang, a doctoral student in theology and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, wrote for the National Catholic Reporter, referencing her fostering kittens;

“I recall when I was 15 and was separated from my own parents for half a year due to flawed American visa and border policies that granted me a visa but denied a visa to my parents. Similar visa policies are still in place today, arbitrarily separating non-American parents and children for much longer than half a year at times. Whether I and many other non-Americans who live in the U.S. would be able to start a family, and what rights our children might have in this country, depend on whether such policies continue.

“Because of these and other complex circumstances in my own life, family — as well as fulfilling my maternal instincts of loving small animals — will always look different for me.

“I no longer look to pet ownership or parenthood as necessary milestones in my own life. Rather, in discovering new and creative ways to love others (animal or human), I learn daily that our universal calling toward fruitful love may look a myriad of ways for each one of us. Fostering cats, mentoring college students, and teaching catechesis to neighborhood children have become not temporary placeholders of motherhood for me, but equally fulfilling as vocations in themselves…

“The church’s view of childbirth, or intention to conceive children, as a central and crucial part of marriage continues to contribute to its theological justifications against lesbian and gay relationships, its prohibition on artificial contraception and its views on gender complementarity. While the church acknowledges the life-giving vocations of celibate religious men and women who dedicate their lives in service of others, it does not honor that option for married couples who choose to dedicate their lives to service in ways other than childbirth or adoption.

“The pope’s view that couples who choose not to have children are selfish also fails to acknowledge the many barriers that prevent single people and couples from raising children. This includes people who live in poverty or unsafe conditions and people who work multiple jobs to make ends meet for themselves. The absence of a nationwide paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as rising cost of pediatric healthcare, likewise prevents many from giving birth to and caring for their newborn children without going into debt. The decision to have children is further complicated for those who live in areas of the world most significantly affected by climate change. Barriers as such may prevent families from having children of their own, but do not prevent them from demonstrating much courage, love and discernment to which we are all called.

“My Catholic faith teaches me that all are called to service and self-gift. All are called to pour out their love for others, especially for those who are vulnerable in our society. Rather than a unilateral obligation, biological or adoptive parenthood is but one sacred way to fulfill this universal calling. As much as the church looks to large families as models of love, families who do not have children for a variety of reasons may also serve as examples through the creative ways they love themselves and their communities as the church together navigates the ever-complex circumstances of life.”

Another Catholic woman who has one daughter wrote:

“The pope’s words are quite hypocritical: The church talks the talk on families, but it doesn’t walk the walk. Many of its beliefs and policies are decidedly not pro-family.

“Consider, for example, the second-class status married people have had in the church itself for centuries. For close to 900 years, the church has deemed celibacy crucial to a priest’s vocation. By being unmarried, it was thought, the priest more fully conformed to the life of Christ, and thus his role was more elevated spiritually. ‘As followers of Christ, we must aim for that pure love which renounces life,’ theologian Max Thurian wrote.”

She continues by describing the Catholic Church’s prevention of invitro fertilization. The pope’s speech was about the importance of adoption while Church adoption agencies block same-gender couples from fostering or adopting their children. Yet while the Church bans artificial contraception, he chided a woman expecting an eighth child after having seven others by cesarean section. “That is an irresponsibility,” he told her and advised Catholic couples not to breed “like rabbits.”

My favorite response may be this piece, “Pope Francis, Your Comments on Choosing Pets over Children Don’t Add Up” from Sergio Peçanha:

Dear Pope Francis,

I was born Catholic. Long story short, today I am a stray sheep.

Something you said recently concerned me. You criticized people who don’t have children. You said that people who have pets instead of children are selfish and that pet-parenting “takes some of our humanity away.”

Coming from the leader of a church that forbids priests and nuns from getting married and having children, this doesn’t seem like something you fully thought through.

Pets make us better humans. They are a constant reminder of some of the most important values in life: love, loyalty, being in the present and finding joy in the small things.

Think: A dog finds transcendency in a fake rawhide bone. They are capable of seeing god every day, as soon as their owners get home. And cats … well, they have their own way of teaching us we’re not quite that divine. Animals give us way more than they take away from us.

Second, my bet is that most households are not choosing between pets and children. Some may not be able to have children. Others may not want them because they find different callings more fulfilling. Look in the mirror for a second: Think of how much good a person can do for humanity if they are not focused on nurturing one single being.

And it is not like we are underserved in the baby department — the planet will reach 8 billion people this year.

Finally, we all make choices. They usually involve trade-offs. You have made such choices. Everybody knows that Pope Benedict XVI, your predecessor, is the definition of a cat man — a single guy without kids who owns cats.

I’m sure that you were not suggesting that Benedict is selfish. Nor are the priests and nuns who must choose between having children and joining the church you run.

The point is: Priests and nuns make a choice. Just like you did. Just like Benedict did with his celibacy and his cats. Just like people who don’t have children do, for whatever reason they hold sacred.

Exercising free will is not equal to being selfish.

Besides, if some people want to say that their pets are their kids, who cares? Sometimes they even look alike …

Yours,

 

 

 

 

 

As my partner (left with Coco a few years ago), a Catholic while she was growing up, said, “It’s the Pope’s fault. He skims off the elite breeding stock to marry Jesus.”

Pope Francis took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Although a playboy until he was 22 years old, St. Francis is not known to have any children.

December 5, 2021

SCOTUS May Bring Religous Authoritarianism to Education

Last week, the Supreme Court heard a anti-choice case in which six of them generally trashed the 49-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade, which permitted women to legally obtain abortions up to the viability of the fetus. This week, the high court will hear Carson v. Makin, deciding whether tax dollars should go to religious schools. The plaintiffs began their brief with this statement by claiming “Maine’s public schools expelled students for adhering to their faith” in the 19th century. A Catholic student was expelled for not completing lessons from a Protestant bible. The plaintiffs claim that situation is the same as not paying state residents’ tuition at private religious schools. They call it “denial of educational opportunity through religious discrimination.”

The war against secularism has moved from religious conservatives calling for exemptions to any law to demanding that the nation fund their faith. “Religious liberty” formerly meant not blocking religious individuals and groups from following their faith. In this way, they managed to hold crowded services during an epidemic in spite of endangering the public good through public health orders. Now they want to take tax revenue from secular individuals and groups to pay for their religious schools. The plaintiffs already have children receiving the vaunted education, but they wants free education at the religious schools—paid for by the state.

Ian Millhiser wrote that the plaintiffs want taxpayers, including LGBTQ people, to pay for hate speech against LGBTQ people and discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers. One cited school requires teachers to sign an employment agreement stating that “the Bible says that ‘God recognize[s] homosexuals and other deviants as perverted’” and that “[s]uch deviation from Scriptural standards is grounds for termination.’”

Maine already pays for private high school tuition for almost 5,000 students with no local school so that they will have access to education, but the subsidy is only for nonsectarian schools. Parents don’t receive state funds for religious schools. The case’s plaintiffs want “equality” for religious schools. Their goal is to deny the constitutional “freedom of religion” that used to mean separation of church and state, banning laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. No one in Maine is prohibited this “free exercise”: anyone can send children to religious schools.

Two decades ago, a debate questioned whether states can fund religious education. The precedent from Everson v. Board of Education (1947) holds that “no tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” In 2002, however, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris asked for a school voucher program primarily benefitting religious schools. Five of the nine Supreme Court justices overturned this religious separation from government but allowed lawmakers to make the law.

Last year, the court decided in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020) that certain circumstances require states to subsidize religiously affiliated schools. It held that the state cannot deny the subsidy to a religious institution “simply because of what it is”—that it identifies with a particular faith. Yet the ruling distinguished between religious “status” and religious “use.”

Maine defines a “sectarian” school, ineligible for state subsidies, by asking whether it “promotes the faith or belief system with which it is associated and/or presents the material taught through the lens of this faith.” The definition of sectarian cannot be an “affiliation or association with a church or religious institution” because that would be “status.” Instead, the determination is “use,” or “what the school teaches through its curriculum and related activities, and how the material is presented.” The 1st Circuit Court ruled in favor of Maine on the basis of “use,” but the Supreme Court has taken the appeals from the plaintiffs in the case.

Plaintiffs want to expand Espinoza to include “use,” claiming policies requiring policies requiring religious families to “choose between their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit” are unconstitutional. They maintain that Maine’s tuition program forces these families to choose between “their right to tuition assistance or their right to freely exercise their religion.”

The existing school voucher program applies to under three percent of K-12 students in Maine, most of them in far-out rural areas when the state saves money with vouchers instead of public schools.

A win in Carson, however, puts the nation’s entire public school system at risk. Public education operated by the government and offering free education is a government benefit. If the plaintiffs are granted their wish, the public education system will be forced to pay for tuition to teach students religion. In Espinoza, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “A State need not subsidize private education, but once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools” because of their religious status. Roberts is no longer in control. The court now has five conservative justices in addition to Roberts. If religious plaintiffs win to have free tuition at religious schools from Maine’s subsidy program, the next case will be for all children to have free tuition in private schools—paid for by the government.

Parents have been demanding that they select what happens in public schools—do away with the mythical “critical race theory,” refuse materials on racism, eliminate counselors, block any reference to LGBTQ people, etc. Now they want the government to pay for any religious training students get, similar to what they receive in their religious institutions. Imagine this education:

In Bronx (NY), a Seventh-day Adventist pastor told his congregation that wives, as their husband’s property, must “submit,” even to the extent of being raped. He said:

“In this matter of submission, I want you to know upfront ladies, that once you get married, you are no longer your own. You are your husband’s. You understand what I’m saying? I emphasize that because I saw in court the other day on TV where a lady sued her husband for rape. And I would say to you gentlemen, the best person to rape is your wife. But then it has become legalized.”

Carson wants taxpayers to provide this type of education.

In Texas, a woman is creating a Christian maternity ranch where women can bear their children and live for a year. It would also have “host homes” for couples modeling “healthy marriages.” And of course, Bible study for Christian development in accord with her evangelical church’s beliefs.

Conservatives usually worship the words of the Founding Fathers, but they will likely ignore James Madison. Before he became the 4th president of the United States, he wrote the following for the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the basis of the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments:

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

He associated the one religion, as evangelical Christians want, with attacks on representative government by destroying “unalienable” rights. Those who order subsidized religion become tyrants.

Thomas Jefferson wrote about the “wall of separation between church and state”—the “total separation of the church from the state.” Just as government cannot rule within religion, religion cannot rule within government—but Carson plaintiffs want taxpayers to give them money for their children’s religious education. Three-fourths of the states prohibit this public funding through constitutions and laws.

Ruling for the plaintiffs in Carson can mean taxpayers subsidizing teaching of creationism, theocracy, and discrimination against civil rights. One of the schools in question mandates that classes “refute the teachings of the Islamic religion with the truth of God’s word.” This isn’t true of private religious schools. Students coming out as LGBTQ under “counseling” and renounce the sexual orientation or gender identity. Public education are open to all students regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability, but the religious makeup of the majority of Supreme Court justices makes this case a slam dunk for the plaintiffs.

Rachel Laser presents a few guesses about what follows a ruling for Carson plaintiffs: homeless people required to attend religious services before county-funded housing, religious tests before they receive food, a mandate to accept Jesus as the savior for addiction treatment. That’s “religious coercion.”

In his brief, Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey stated:

“Maine has appropriately determined that a public education should be a nonsectarian one that exposes children to diverse viewpoints, promotes tolerance and acceptance, teaches academic subjects in a religiously neutral manner, and does not promote a particular faith or belief system.”

Students won’t get that in the schools that the plaintiffs have selected, one where they want taxpayers to provide tuition for their children. The high court’s march toward authoritarianism may add religion to reproductive rights.  

November 7, 2021

Moscow (ID), a Template for Theocracy

Christ’s Church in Moscow (ID) may be a template for the evangelical attempt to take over the United States for a theocracy; it even has the goal “to make Moscow a Christian town” by taking over the town of at least 24,000 population. Behaving like the biblical version of Jesus might not be a huge problem, but Christ’s Church opposes secular government, browbeats perceived opponents, harasses elected officials regarding COVID restrictions, and takes over land and businesses to transform the nation into following its ultra-conservative moral ideology.  

Controversies began with Douglas Wilson, the church’s founder and pastor, and has continued with his son who threatens political violence. YouTube removed Wilson’s blogpost “A Biblical Defense of Fake Vaccine IDs,” based on the conspiracy theory that the vaccine is President Joe Biden’s “power play. He also urged readers to “resist openly” in the civil war because it is not “rebellion against lawful authority” but “an example of a free people refusing to go along with their own enslavement.” The church has grown to about 2,000 since its founding in the 1990s and draws people to the area with the hope that northern Idaho will become a conservative fortification against U.S. modernity.

Sexual abuse and theological subordination of women: In 2005, Wilson asked a judge to be lenient in the case of a former student at a Christ Church-aligned college who was convicted of sex offenses involving children. Wilson married the student in 2010 who Wilson met through a then-Christ Church elder and now pastor in Colville (WA).

Slavery: In the 1990s, Wilson co-wrote the book Southern Slavery As It Was with the co-founder of the neo-Confederate organization the League of the South. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2004/doug-wilson%E2%80%99s-religious-empire-expanding-northwest    A year ago, Wilson distributed flyers on at the University of Idaho at Moscow advertising an upcoming conference featuring himself and his co-author, Stephen Wilkins. The flyer included excerpted “highlights” of the book:

  • “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.”
  • “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. …
  • “Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.”

Theocracy: Wilson’s 2016 book describes the church’s aim as “a network of nations bound together by a formal acknowledgement of the lordship of Jesus Christ,” as opposed to secular society ruled by “civil governments, [which] are in necessary degrees satanic, demonic, and influenced by the god of this world, who is the devil.”

Non-profit abilities: Christ Church doesn’t need to report income and maintains tax-free status, and Wilson has developed a profitable network of educational institutions, publishing houses, churches, and national associations that he founded and controls with a small group of men, many of them from his own family, that exert power in both his organization and Moscow. For example, the town’s New Saint Andrews College (NSAC) has Wilson, his son-in-law, and his pastor on the board of trustees; another of Wilson’s son-in-laws is college president. Wilson and his son Douglas are on the faculty along with Wilson’s brother, who believes the world was created in seven days, as senior fellow of natural history. These college employees draw salaries.

Town influence: A founding director and former trustee at NSAC, Andrew Crapuchettes, was CEO of Moscow’s largest private employer, EMSI, for over 19 years until the company was sold in June 2021 to become EMSI Burning Glass. The company, announced by Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) as Idaho Small Business of the Month for July 2021, provides labor market data for education. EMSI employees 55 NSAC graduates of the total 635 people since its founding in 1994. The COO/CFO at EMSI is a Christ Church elder and a teaching elder at the church’s suburban offshoot church, and Wilson’s son-in-law, the NSAC trustee, is EMSI’s executive VP of higher education. Crapuchette has started an employment website for church run or founded organizations and companies belonging to other church members. He also expanded into property development and gained legal “annexation” of 27 acres of land on Moscow’s south-western edge for a new, 109-unit subdivision, Edington.

Wilson’s ideas about slavery came from theologian Gregg Singer who rediscovered writings of Civil War Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s chaplain, Robert L. Dabney, in the 1960s. Singer joined another far-right theologian, Rousas John Rushdoony, to develop the view of the pre-Civil War South as a religiously ordered society overtaken by rationalist and anti-religious thought. The theologians used Dabney’s work which described Blacks as a “morally inferior race, a “sordid, alien taint” marked by “lying, theft, drunkenness, laziness, waste”—lies to opposed the Civil Rights movement. Rushdooney’s book Institutes of Biblical Law, established him as the founding thinker of Christian Reconstruction, a “reconstructed” society following the Old Testament. Equality has no place in Rushdoony’s society of classes with differing rights.

Rushdooney’s strategy planned the development of Christian homeschooling and private schools to train a generation that would follow his guidelines. His influence led to the collaboration between “orthodox Christians” and “Confederate nationalists,” and Wilson’s Logos School, a private Christian academy in Moscow, follows Rushdooney’s plan. Logos is now one of 165 “classical schools” teaching students Greek and Latin in the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, also founded by Wilson. Thousands of students order their books from Wilson’s Canon Press which publishes and sells 31 titles. Graduates from a three-year training program in the 20 churches in the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CRE), another of Wilson’s inventions, must promise to engage in “cultural reformation”; they have started several churches around the country. Rushdooney and Dabney are considered foundational thinkers like Plato and Aristotle at Wilson’s college NSAC.

In Alabama, college professor Michael Hill founded the League of the South with Wilkins. The organization called for a second Southern secession to create the “revitalization of general European hegemony” in the South. People would be welcome in his new South only if they obeyed Hill’s religious rules, including its “Anglo-Celtic” nature. His ideas all followed those of Rushdoony. The group now has 15,000 members in 87 chapters throughout 16 states.

Wilson tries to maintain he isn’t a Christian Reconstructionist and the movement is “dead,” but his theology is almost identical to Reconstruction. He and Wilkins have been instrumental in building the neo-Confederate theology far beyond pro-slavery. Some of these positions:

The goal is “the overthrow of unbelief and secularism.”

Children are “foul—unclean” if “neither parent believes in Jesus Christ.”

“Government schools” are godless propaganda factories.

Woman “was created to be dependent and responsive to a man.” They should be allowed to date or “court” only with their father’s permission and then Christians with other Christians.

A rapist should pay the father of his victim a bride price and then marry her with her father’s permission.

Gay men and lesbians are “sodomites” and should be exiled.

Cursing parents is “deserving of punishment by death.”

Christian parents “need not be afraid to lay it on” when spanking and used for children as young as two years old for such “sins” as whining.

Other evangelicals follow the pattern set up in Moscow (ID), according to a new study from Public Religion Research Institute. A growing number of other religious and non-religious people in the U.S. want the United States to be a place where people follow diverse faiths, but 57 percent of white evangelical Christians want them to be only Christians. The values of Islam are at odds with U.S. values and ways of life, according to 75 percent of white evangelicals. In opposition to minorities, white people in other religions, and non-Christians, only 47 percent of white evangelicals want undocumented people to find a path to citizenship. Almost as many want to see them deported. A large majority of white evangelicals, 60 percent, also think that the election was stolen, and one-fourth of that religious group are QAnon followers. Also 26 percent of them want violence to “save the country.”

The number of evangelicals may be shrinking because of COVID. Only 45 percent of white evangelicals say they will definitely or probably not get the vaccine, compared to 90 percent of atheists and 77 percent of Catholics.

November 1, 2021

Conservative Religion Ready to Attack U.S.

Dominionism, the theology of the contemporary Christian right, may be the underlying movement against democracy under Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and the Republicans lawmakers, according to Paul Rosenberg. In a Salon piece, he discusses Rachel Tabachnick’s research about the movement.

In the past, dominionism was a fringe belief, but a strong supporter in the U.S. Senate, former presidential candidate Ted Cruz from Texas, has brought it into the lighted mainstream. While far-right Christians damn Taliban ideas such as death by stoning, dominionists hold this belief. Believer are also behind the vigilantism of the new Texas anti-abortion law, undermining the federal government including the current attempt to ignore its laws, and the anti-vax revolt against healthcare policies by proclaiming the freedom to infect others. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is part of the increasingly common accusation of any opposing elected officials as “tyrants.”

Rosenberg explains the belief of dominionism:

“Power comes from God, not the people. Whatever the people want is irrelevant. Whatever laws they may pass are irrelevant, too, if they go against God. ‘Tyranny’ is whatever the Christian reconstructionist decides he doesn’t like.”

A Congregational minister, Dr. Cari Jackson, talked about her early training in the Christian right:

“I was taught a very individualistic approach, taught that we shouldn’t pay taxes, because doing so enabled people who were not working, and enables people whose lifestyle we don’t agree with.”

Jackson described the intersectional approach of evangelicals against current progressive philosophy:

“We believe that to understand the attacks on abortion also invites us—or even requires us—to look at attacks on voting, to look at attacks on immigrants, attacks on prison reform, attacks on equal pay and on and on. It’s all of the same cloth: They are all attacks on humans flourishing. That’s my language. The God of my understanding wants all of us to flourish in who we are.”

Dominion in religion follows the meaning of the word: control, authority, and subduing—ruling as kings. They are to have dominion over all of society through control of political and cultural institutions. Christian Reconstructionism, according to Tabachnick, is “about bringing government in all areas of life under biblical law, a continuation of the Mosaic law in the Old Testament, with some exceptions.” Part of their goal is public execution of women who have abortions and those who advise them to have an abortion.”

Rousas John Rushdoony, master dominionist theologian in Christian Reconstructionism, created his view of Christian governance based on the Ten Commandments and judicial applications from the Old Testament, “including about 35 capital offenses.” Rejected is a biblical social gospel, replaced by a view of God’s unfettered capitalism and virulent anti-statism. Evangelical attacks on public education, social safety net, and government functions come from the dominionist philosophy through the doctrine of the “lesser magistrate.”

This doctrine comes from opposition to federal authority from the 19th-century defense of slavery through the Jim Crow segregation. Martin Luther King, Jr referred to this philosophy in his “I Have a Dream” speech, describing the Alabama governor “having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification.” Tabchnick added “secession” to the religion’s position. She said the “lesser magistrate” is a heroic figure who “resists the tyranny of a higher authority,” including popular common-sense laws or policies in order to justify actions by “many violent anti-abortionists.” Paul Hill, one of these believers, murdered Dr. John Britton who performed abortions and his bodyguard in 1994.

The Texas anti-abortion law turning everyone into vigilantes assigns all of them the “lesser magistrates” status, setting dominionism into action after the Supreme Court refused to stay the law pending judicial action. To dominionists, the law of Roe is tyranny, and justices owe God their resistance to it. The silence and attitude of Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas demonstrate their support for this philosophy.

In an expansion of anti-abortion, Pastor Matthew Trewhella, leader of the violent anti-abortion movement in the 1990s, attempted an authority with state legislators and attorney general to fight the “tyranny of mask mandates” and COVID vaccinations. More opposition resists government authority of FEMA, EPA, Bureau of Land Management, etc. A 1997 book, Eternal Hostility, brings the argument to anti-tax groups and spreads the resistance to federal authority among militia members, “freemen,” and anti-abortion activists. Tabachnick cited their believe that “rights come from God and not from any government.”

Rev. T. Robert Ingram’s essay, “What’s Wrong with Human Rights” in The Theology of Christian Resistance,” rejects the Bill of Rights as “a statement of sovereign powers of states withheld from the federal authority of the Union” and purports that there are no human rights.

Ingram rejects all freedom of speech and the press except for protection of instigators of riot and rebellion and those who undermine human order with other attacks on morals and customs. He stated the current right to dissent is “not a lawful claim to own or to do something, which is the true right,” but “a turning upside down of right and wrong, calling good evil and evil good.”

About the Civil War, Ingram claimed that “Yankee radicals inflamed the Northern peoples to mount the Civil War in the name of a ‘human right’ to be free … if they did not destroy the whole Southern Order, they did at least dismantle its vast and efficient plantation economy.” On the other hand, the civil rights movement defies “tradition, law, and custom, which preserved public peace and order in the bi-racial state of the union, both North and South,” and became “the target of the right to resist in the 60s, the supposed human rights justifying the violent means.”

In an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Tabachnick explains the purpose of what dominionists call the New Apostolic Reformation: to unify all Protestant denominatons under the dominion apostles and then take over society and government through their warfare with demons. They have prayer warrior networks in all 50 states, and the Seven Mountains campaign, teaching that they will reclaim the seven mountains of culture and society: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion. With business, they can finance the other six mountains and bring the kingdom of God on Earth.

In addition to anti-abortion and anti-gay rights, dominionists, like Tea Party members and young libertarians, believe the nation is too socialist. They want to privatize all the schools for their form of education, that humans must help God regain control after he lost control when Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Corruption and poverty come from a hierarchy of demons controlling the Earth under the authority of Satan. Instead of one-by-one evangelizing, they conduct general spiritual warfare activities to remove demons from all the people in a geographic area.

Competing for religious control is the Patriot Church in Tennessee, a network of six churches worshipping DDT instead of God. Pastor Ken Peters and other like-minded pastors follow their belief in the Black-Robed Regiment, a mythical group radical preachers during the Revolutionary who “arose and led their congregations into the battle for freedom.” according to a website dedicated to a modern-day version of the organization. Peters added the belief that DDT is still “president” and spreads the lie to prepare congregations for the violence of the coming civil war. For a ten-percent cut of their church’s earnings, Peters promotes their churches and helps them tax filings.

In America’s Church, Pastor Joshua Feuerstein organized a revival, complete with a contest for an AR-15 assault rifle from a pro-DDT insurance company. The head of the company told followers, “You come to worship Jesus and leave with a gun.” Attending the revival was Greg Locke, head of the Global Vision bible Church and preacher of QAnon conspiracy theories, who also connected with the Black-Robed Regiment movement.

Pastor Bill Cook, leader of America’s Black Robe Regiment, dresses like  a Revolutionary War soldier and argues that pastors should take up arms to lead congregations to war. Speaking at a pro-DDT “prayer rally” on the National Mall in December, Cook wore an Oath Keepers T-shirt. Organizer of a pro-DDT Christian group Jericho March promised bloody civil war if DDT didn’t stay in the White House.

One-fourth of all white evangelical Protestants believe the U.S. government, media, and financial worlds are controlled by a group of devil-worshipping pedophiles—the philosophy that pastors push on them. Peters said, “We’ll see Trump back in the White House before Biden’s four-year term is done.” 

Conservative media helps far-right religious leaders promote the conspiracy theory of a “stolen” election. Despite claims from DDT’s cybersecurity and election security officials that the 2020 election was the safest and most secure, 82 percent of those who put their trust into the Fox network believe the conspiracy theory. Of those who trust far right outlets such as One America Network and Newsmax, 97 percent believe DDT’s lie. And 30 percent of Republicans want violence to give the election to DDT. Far-right churches and media are endangering democracy.

October 24, 2021

Evangelical Congregation Collapse

Until the 1970s, evangelical Christians stayed out of politics and concentrated on their religion, helping people and supporting family values. When big business and Bob Dole decided evangelicals could elect Ronald Reagan as president, religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell loved the power of politics and led their flocks with them. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) began campaigning in 2015, and they spread hatred of government assistance for the needy, repeating Jerry Falwell Sr. accusation that the “giveaway programs” are “developing a breed of bums and derelicts.

In the Atlantic, Peter Wehner, George W. Bush’s speechwriter, described DDT’s influence over evangelical Christians through insistence on politics in churches, a position that shredded congregations. For example, three elders failed to get 75 percent of the vote for installation in a Northern Virginia megachurch because church members were told the candidates would sell the building to Muslims to convert it into a mosque. A small group of parishioners had already accused the conservative church’s minister of “wokeness” and “left of center.” According to them, he pushed a “social justice” agenda and promoted critical race theory plus attempts to “purge conservative members.”

The situation at McLean Bible Church is not uncommon. Targeted by right-wing elements of the Southern Baptist Convention, theologian Russell Moore and Bible teacher Beth Moore left the church. Wehner wrote:

“The root of the discord lies in the fact that many Christians have embraced the worst aspects of our culture and our politics. When the Christian faith is politicized, churches become repositories not of grace but of grievances, places where tribal identities are reinforced, where fears are nurtured, and where aggression and nastiness are sacralized. The result is not only wounding the nation; it’s having a devastating impact on the Christian faith.”

Historian George Marsden said:

“When Trump was able to add open hatred and resentments to the political-religious stance of ‘true believers,’ it crossed a line. Tribal instincts seem to have become overwhelming.” [Trump’s Christian followers] have come to see a gospel of hatreds, resentments, vilifications, put-downs, and insults as expressions of their Christianity, for which they too should be willing to fight.

Wehner wrote:

“For many Christians, their politics has become more of an identity marker than their faith. They might insist that they are interpreting their politics through the prism of scripture, with the former subordinate to the latter, but in fact scripture and biblical ethics are often distorted to fit their politics. The former president normalized a form of discourse that made the once-shocking seem routine. Russell Moore laments the ‘pugilism of the Trump era, in which anything short of cruelty is seen as weakness.’ The problem facing the evangelical church, then, is not just that it has failed to inculcate adherents with its values—it’s that when it has succeeded in doing so, those values have not always been biblical.”

Tim Schultz, the president of the 1st Amendment Partnership and advocate for religious freedom, predicted a reckoning for evangelicalism, “held together by political orientation and sociology more than by common theology.” Pastor Timothy Keller called evangelicals some of the most “anti-institutional” religious believers, making them more prone to “insider abuse.” Media, not the church, develop evangelical beliefs, making them unrooted—“susceptible to political idolization, fanatical ideas, and conspiracy theories.” James Ernest, editor at the religious publisher Eerdmans, said:

“The evangelical Church in the U.S. over the last five decades has failed to form its adherents into disciples. So there is a great hollowness. All that was needed to cause the implosion that we have seen was a sufficiently provocative stimulus. And that stimulus came.”

Alan Jacobs, a professor of humanities at Baylor University, spoke about the media influence:

“What all those media want is engagement, and engagement is most reliably driven by anger and hatred. They make bank when we hate each other. And so that hatred migrates into the Church, which doesn’t have the resources to resist it. The real miracle here is that even so, in the mercy of God, many people do find their way to places of real love of God and neighbor.”

In her book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, Calvin College history professor Kristin Kobes Du Mez argued that DDT fulfilled many of the White evangelicals’ values. She wrote that they wanted to replace the biblical Jesus with a ruggedly masculine person supporting Christian nationalism, “the belief that America is God’s chosen nation and must be defended as such.” The nationalism encapsulates evangelical attitudes on non-Christians, immigration, race, and guns. Du Mez explained:

“Evangelicals are quick to label their values ‘biblical. But how they interpret the scriptures, which parts they decide to emphasize and which parts they decide to ignore, all this is informed by their historical and cultural circumstances. More than most other Christians, however, conservative evangelicals insist that they are rejecting cultural influences when in fact their faith is profoundly shaped by cultural and political values, by their racial identity and their Christian nationalism.”

Evangelicalism also defines the role of gender, according to Du Mez, depicting men and women as opposites during the past half century:

“They believe God ordained men to be protectors and filled them with testosterone for this purpose. Men … are to exhibit boldness, courage, even ruthlessness in order to fulfill their God-appointed role.”

In contrast, women, the nurturers, must display the feminine virtues of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.” Men, however, are to fight secular humanism, LGBTQ rights, feminism, radical Islam, elected Democrats, and critical race theory. Evangelical leaders stoke fear in their followers for personal power and interests with a militant response. According to Cherie Harder, Trinity Forum president, “fear and grace … are incompatible”; she quoted the New Testament: “Perfect love drives out fear.” Survival may require some fear, but constant fear is dangerous: “stoking it, cultivating it, and dwelling within it … distorts and deforms.”

The conflagration of fear and polarization within congregations has led to pastors resigning, not only from their churches but also from the ministry. Pastor Scott Dudley said:

“They have concluded that their church has become a hostile work environment where at any moment they may be blasted, slandered, and demeaned in disrespectful and angry ways, or have organized groups of people within the church demand that they be fired.”

Conflicts are not doctrinal but political, stirred up by DDT, the lies about the 2020 election, the January 6 insurrection, protests surrounding George Floyd’s murder and critical race theory, and COVID discord—masks, vaccinations, and lockdowns blocking in-person worship.

In Mark Noll’s new preface to his 1994 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, to be rereleased, he argues that “white evangelicals appear as the group most easily captive to conspiratorial nonsense, in greater panic about their political opponents, or as most aggressively anti-intellectual.” He warned that “the broader evangelical population has increasingly heeded populist leaders who dismiss the results of modern learning from whatever source.”

 The extreme anti-vaccine position of evangelicals supporting DDT, sometimes compared to the MAGA suicidal “death cult,” was expressed by Christian fundamentalist Joy Pullmann on The Federalist website on the day of Collin Powell’s death. She argues about the benefit of COVID:

“For Christians, death is good. Yes, death is also an evil—its existence is a result of sin. But thanks be to God, Jesus Christ has redeemed even death. In his resurrection, Christ has transformed death into a portal to eternal life for Christians…. The Christian faith makes it very clear that death, while sad to those left behind and a tragic consequence of human sin, is now good for all who believe in Christ.”

To Pullmann, social distancing is sinful because she translates keeping the Sabbath day holy in the Third Commandment as going to church. She also stated that “our Christian heritage also rejects the avoidance of death at any cost” doesn’t venerate “the millions of martyrs.”

In Robert P. Jones’ White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, he writes about his evangelical childhood, experiencing the “seemingly icy surface of guilt and culpability [over] a deeper current of innocence and entitlement. Individually, I was a sinner, but collectively, I was part of a special tribe. Whatever our humble social stations might be, we white Christians were God’s chosen instruments of spreading salvation and civilization to the world.”

Results of a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the non-profit he founded, from White evangelical Protestants:

  • 61 percent: the 2020 presidential election was stolen from DDT.
  • 68 percent: DDT is a “true patriot.”
  • One-third: “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”
  • Over seven in ten: denial that the history of slavery and discrimination in the U.S. has any bearing on economic inequalities between white and Black Americans today.
  • One-fourth: QAnon conspiracy believers.

The faculty at the small nondenominational Christian Cornerstone University may give some hope to evangelical thought; 46 of 62 voted no confidence in the incoming president, Gerson Moreno-Riaño, with 14 abstaining. His history of opposing diversity, equity, and inclusion through a culture of fear caused his firing and dissenting staff and professors with little or no warning. Staff may not use any language related to anti-racism, including “micro-aggressions,” “privilege,” and “unconscious bias,” and official documents censor this language. An intercultural studies lecture series was abruptly canceled. Evangelicals need more open dissent like this.

Next Page »

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

Current

Commentary. Reflection. Judgment.

© blogfactory

Truth News

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: