Nel's New Day

March 19, 2017

DDT Supporters Start to Lose—Everything

 

A campaign argument from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to voters was “what do you have to lose?” People voting for DDT almost uniformly said that they wanted a “change.” Now they have a change, and DDT’s policies are proving that everyone except those in the highest income levels will most likely lose.

DDT won with 80 percent support from white evangelical Christians, but some conservative faith leaders are beginning to question the validity of DDT’s policies. Over 100 Christians, many of them conservative, wrote a letter to congressional leaders about how DDT’s cut of $10.1 billion for the International Affairs Budget will damage humanitarian programs abroad.

“With just 1 percent of our nation’s budget, the International Affairs Budget has helped alleviate the suffering of millions; drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio. As followers of Christ, it is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget, and avoid disproportionate cuts to these vital programs that ensure that our country continues to be the ‘shining city upon a hill.’”

Progressive Sister Simone Campbell wrote that DDT’s cuts “disproportionately affect the same group of people — women, people of color, and all at the economic margins.”

Mick Mulvaney, architect of DDT’s budget and OMB director, has tried to explained that punitive cuts for vulnerable populations are really “compassionate” because people should not pay for services to others unless it’s for a “proper function.” He didn’t explain that this function is for building “the wall” and increasing the military by ten percent. He also said that the cut to Meals on Wheels was only three percent when the federal government actually pays 35 percent.

A five-minute search on the Internet would show Mulvaney positive quantifiable results for Meals on Wheels and another project he wants to slash, after-school programs that provide meals.

Meals on Wheels: 26 of 48 states would save money for Medicaid with an expansion in the program of one percent by keeping seniors out of nursing homes. Florida could trim as much as $11.5 million, and Pennsylvania could save $5.7 million. Overall, the nation would pay only $8 million for this  one-percent expansion.

After-School Meals: feeding hungry children costs $.80 a meal. Several studies show that these programs improve student grades, attendance, and school participation.

DDT has taken five trips to Mar-a-Lago since becoming president for a grand total of about $16.5 million, but there are no concrete results for his personal entertainment. Any meetings there could easily be at the White House. Meals on Wheels could feed 5,967 seniors for a year for that amount. After school programs could feed 114,583 poor children for a year for the same amount. Among the 2.4 million people served by Meals on Wheels are 500,000 veterans. The cost for feeding them for a year could be covered by a little over one month supporting DDT’s family in New York.

A tweet: “Trump golfing at Mar-a-Lago costs $10 million/mo. The National Endowment for the Arts costs $12 million/mo. Guess which is being cut?”

Mulvaney’s “compassionate” budget will eliminate the 50-year-old program, National Endowment for the Arts. The basis for this legislation is that a great country comes from an enlightened and unfettered citizenry:

“Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster … access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.”

An early NEA decision was to foster local and regional economies in individual states: the approximately $400 million—25 percent of it targeted to rural communities—returns more than $704.2 billion to the nation’s economy, about 4.23 percent of the GDP. This is more than construction ($619.8 billion) or transportation and warehousing ($483.5 billion). In 2015, NEA funding provided audiences of 33 million people to “30,000 concerts, readings and performances and 5,000 visual and media arts exhibitions,” according to statistics. The NEA makes cities and towns better place to live and extends education, helping students get higher grades and stay in school. Maintaining DDT’s New York home where his wife and son live costs over $4 million a month; NEA costs the average taxpayer $.46 a year.

The budget also used “compassion” to whack $580 million a year from NIH because the 21st Century Cure project gets $480 million to research cures for 10,000 diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Oddly enough, the charge to taxpayers doesn’t go away, but it can’t be spent unless Congress okays it.

What do blacks have to lose with DDT? He answered this campaign trail question in his budget: elimination of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity program, SHOP which DDT calls “lower priority programs.” Mulvaney calls this compassion.

The facts belie a demand for the ten-percent increase in military and outright elimination of many programs or cuts of 31 percent to slowing down climate change.

  • The U.S. spends more on military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France, India, and Germany — combined. Yet the U.S. spends far less per capita than other countries on initiatives that DDT cuts.
  • Eliminated programs are more valuable to West Virginia’s coal miners and Detroit’s single mothers, referenced by Mulvaney as not needing them, than the ten-percent increase in military. DDT’s budget cuts funding for early-childhood education, public housing, transit, food assistance, and job training as well as programs that help people in West Virginia and many surrounding states to find jobs. It also cuts the federal agency, the Chemical Safety Board,  that investigated the 2014 chemical spill outside Charleston leaving 300,000 people without drinking water for five days.
  • On top of DDT’s budget cuts is a huge regressive tax cut which gives money only to the wealthy while Mulvaney talks about worrying about coal miner and single mothers. His argument about trying to protect these people in a budget that takes all their services makes no sense.
  • The budget doesn’t reduce the deficit, which DDT had promised to do.

Mulvaney demands “results,” but the U.S. has spent $4 trillion to establish new regime that don’t work instead of repairing U.S. infrastructure and providing jobs for people in this country. The Pentagon is decades behind in a congressionally-mandated audit, and in 2015 alone Army accounting couldn’t support $2.8 trillion in third quarter adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end adjustments. In just that one year, $125 billion in administrative waste was identified, double what DDT budget wants for a Department of Defense increase.

The GOP Trumpcare will kill 17,000 people a year, more people in three months than foreign terrorists have killed in the U.S. since—and including—the 9/11 disaster almost 16 years ago. And far more deaths will ensue from DDT’s budget attack on poor people. Those not forced out of their homes may have no heating assistance.

DDT has joined with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to attack people with student debt by rolling back a regulation from President Obama preventing extortionist fees on student loans for late payments. Before this went into effect, students were charged up to 16 percent even if people paid with 60 days of defaulting. For example, a woman with an $18,000 loan was charged $4,500 in fees when she was 18 days late in paying.

Robert Reich wrote about DDT’s theme of unnecessary cruelty in his policies: his budget attacks the poor at a time when the majority of people suffer greater poverty than they have in almost a century; his Trumpcare adds not only to their poverty of people in the U.S. but also to their deaths; his Syrian refugee and Muslim ban does nothing to protect people from terrorism; and his dragnet approach toward driving immigrants out of the country loses some of the nation’s most productive members and keeps other equally important people from coming to the United States. DDT has no reason for this cruelty other than his business style—create chaos and rule through persecuting people.

Fox’s Howard Kurtz wrote, “The swamp fights back,” referring to the backlash against DDT’s budget, including assistance for food, affordable housing, banking, job training, home heating oil bills, and legal counsel. When DDT said he would “drain the swamp,” people believed that he meant the bureaucracy that destroys jobs and moves money to the wealthy. Evidently the “swamp people” represent people DDT had promised to protect only a few months ago.

There is nothing Christian about any of DDT policies and nothing Christian about conservatives calling those who believe in human rights “swamp people.”

March 12, 2017

Fight Back against Fundamentalist Christian Control

Faith groups came out to protest Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) second attempt last week to ban Muslims from the United States. Throughout the first day of the order, a number of groups condemned DDT’s actions calling it an affront to religious freedom.

  • American Jewish World Service tweeted its solidarity with immigrants.
  • Auburn Seminary President Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson decried “the false narrative that this country is at war with a religion” and the “dramatic spike in Islamophobia, including a rise in hate speech, vandalism, and fires at mosques across the nation.”
  • Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed concern “that this administration is using religious identity as a proxy for ‘security threat’ and a reason for exclusion.”
  • Stosh Cotler, the CEO of the social justice advocacy group Bend the Arc Jewish Action, stated that DDT “is targeting Muslims, immigrants and refugees purely out of spite and fear, but national security experts agree that his action today will not keep us safer.”
  • Catholic Relief Services issued a lengthy statement condemning the ban that explained refugees already undergo “significant vetting” and stated that “now is not the time for the world’s leader in refugee resettlement to back down.”
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reiterated its previous concern “about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war, and religious persecution.”
  • Church World Service unveiled a new grassroots campaign in support of refugees in tandem with the National Council of Churches.
  • The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach reminded people “that we are a nation of immigrants and refugees and we are called to stand in solidarity with them.”
  • The Conference of Major Superiors of Men stated, “It is completely unjust to punish an entire country due to the suspicion of a potential crime by an individual. We should be asking about the root causes of violent acts, such as U.S. militarization of conflicts, and giving our attention to addressing those concrete situations.”
  • Rev. Allison Liles, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, wrote that it “asks that God look with compassion on the whole human family, taking away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts, breaking down the walls that separate us and instead unite us in bonds of love.”
  • Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, stated that the ban is “bigoted and un-American … fueled by anti-Muslim bigotry and motivated by a desire to score political points—not keep Americans safe.” Moline continued, “Now we look to the courts, Congress and the American people to restore what makes American great — our freedom and diversity.”
  • Other groups making statements in opposition to DDT’s restrictive order included Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Council of Churches, National Council of Jewish Women, the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, Pax Christi USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, United Methodist Church, and PICO National Network which stated:

“This [ban] is less about keeping America safe and more likely a step toward the ethnic cleansing of America. Coupled with this nation’s track record of detention, deportation and mass incarceration, the travel ban is a path to reassert white supremacy and dominance in the U.S. It is evil, sinister and stands in stark contrast to a core tenet of faith which asserts that we are all children of God. Even with its revisions, President Trump’s ban on Muslim-majority countries continues a xenophobic false hierarchy of human value. It is not only anti-American, it is anti-Christian.”

White evangelicals, however, are pitying themselves. According to a survey, 57 percent of them believe that they face a great deal of discrimination in the United States while only 44 percent think that Muslims are confronted with the same level of discrimination in the nation. White evangelicals are the only major religious group to think that Christians suffer from heavy persecution.

An example of prejudice against Islamic comes from Oklahoma Rep. John Bennett, who refused to meet with his Muslim constituents on its annual Muslim Day at the Capitol unless they completed a questionnaire from the Islamophobic hate group called ACT for America. Three students from Tulsa’s Peace Academy, a private school, asked to speak to Bennett and were told to answer such questions as these:

“Sharia law says that it must rule over the kafirs, the non-Muslims. Do you agree with this?”

“The Koran, the sunna of Mohammed and Sharia Law of all schools say that the husband can beat his wife. Do you beat your wife?”

“Mohammed was a killer of pagans, Christians and Jews that did not agree with him. Do you agree with this example?”

In the United States, an average of almost 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, equating to over 10 million women and men a year. Yet Bennett asks only Muslims if they “beat your wife.”

In his second Muslim ban, DDT demonstrated the same false belief in Islam violence as Bennett does. The executive order includes a provision requiring the Department of Homeland Security to collect and make public “information regarding the number and types of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.” The United States has fewer than 30 so-called “honor killings” each year, but about 1,500 women are murdered from domestic violence in the same time. DDT’s budget eliminates the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women grants of $480 that funded 25 programs last year to help victims of domestic violence. Both DDT and his white supremacist and chief strategist Steve Bannon have been seriously accused of domestic assault.

DDT’s provision follows his plan to use federal resource to increase racial panic when he also promised to create the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE, during his speech to Congress last week. The program ignores the fact that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born people in the United States and that people in the United States are far far more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim terrorist. Yet DDT’s federal counter-terrorism program will ignore all extremist groups not composed of Muslims, including violent white supremacists.

Facts have no value for DDT’s policies. As for the DHS report that “citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” a senior administration official said:

 “The president asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

The GOP has increasingly pushed religious freedom for the United States although almost everyone knows that the harder a person pushes for this “freedom,” the more that person means only fundamentalist Christianity. In an evangelical discussion last summer, one of them asked how the Baptists could defend Muslims when they kill and imprison Christians. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore gave a sensible answer—that restrictions on Muslims could lead to restrictions on Christians. Moore said that people must freely choose their faith.

Pastor John Wofford answered:

“So what I am actually doing if I support and defend the rights of people to construct places of false worship, I am helping them go to hell. And I do not want to help people go to hell.”

That’s the direction of the United States if we don’t fight back.

February 12, 2017

People Use Religion to Disrespect Women’s Rights

Yesterday’s marches against Planned Parenthood again ignored that federal money doesn’t go to abortions whereas the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people around the world—many of them innocent—and conservatives are determined to kill people through air and water pollution. These pro-life people are willing to kill anyone except what they consider the “unborn” and abuse children after they are born. Yet they use the bible as their justification for a woman’s choice regarding her own body because conservatives believe women aren’t smart enough to make the right choice for themselves.

A few facts from their bible:

God defined a potion for abortion potion: “May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”—Numbers 5:22-27

God fines the killing of a fetus but puts to death the person killing a woman: “And if men strive together, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit [children] come out, and yet no harm follows; the one who hit her shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose upon him; and he shall pay a fine as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth ….” —Exodus 21:22-23

God defines a person through the ability to breathe: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

The bible’s opinion of women:

A wife is man’s property: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” —Exodus 20:17

Girl babies are twice as unclean as boys: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days …. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks. —Leviticus 12:1-8

Women should keep silent:  “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” —1 Cor. 14:34

A raped daughter must be sold to her rapist: ““If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” —Deut. 22:28-29

Women must cover their hair—like the Muslim hijab: “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” —I Cor. 11:6

Women should be forced to have children: “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”—1 Tim. 2:15

Women make men dirty: “[Those redeemed from the earth] are those who did not defile themselves with women.” —Revelation 14:4

Opinions from revered church leaders:

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. …” –Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

“[Women’s] very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. … Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband…. For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior.” –John Dod: A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603

“A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” – Official Faith and Message Statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998, (15.7 million members)

“The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.” –James Fowler: Women in the Church, 1999.

People who use the bible—“God’s word”—to justify their treatment of people, including eliminating reproductive rights for women,  often also say that no one should take the words in the bible literally. According to Matthew 13:13:

“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

People who try to limit others by quoting the bible should follow their own advice and not bully others with their personal religion.

Fortunately, many people in the United States agree with this position. Counter-protests yesterday were much larger than the anti-abortion activists outside Planned Parenthood to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood. Those attending the rallies talked about how much Planned Parenthood does for health—birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, counseling, etc. Medicaid funds pay for these health services for both men and women. Last month, Donald Trump banned U.S. funding to any international group that even provides information about abortions. Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood would cause 400,000 women to lose access to health care.

Oregon senators, in support of women, are working on a bill to require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive health care services. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB 2232, would cover all services under the current Affordable Care Act as well as abortion. The bill goes to the House first to address questions and clarify language. At this time, the measure has an exemption that protects religious beliefs.

Illinois advocates are supporting HB 40 to guarantee reproductive care services, including abortion, for all enrolled in Medicaid, something available only in 17 other states.

New Mexico lawmakers have introduced three bills to improve reproductive health access and rights: preserve birth control access, allow women to obtain one year of contraceptive medication at a time, penalize medical providers who refuse reproductive health services, and mandate “reasonable accommodations: for pregnant women in the workplace. Hospitals would not be permitted to “limit or otherwise interfere” with a doctor’s “independent professional judgment” in providing reproductive health information, referrals, and procedures “where a failure to provide” them “would violate the medical standard of care owed to the patient.”

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that protects abortion rights as outlined in Roe v. Wade.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a bill prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive decisions or pregnancy with a limited exemption for religious institutions but not for business owners who use religion to object.

Respect for women means respecting our rights–all of them.

February 5, 2017

DDT Aims U.S. toward Bigoted Theocracy

With 80 percent of the evangelical vote in the recent election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is paying them back for their loyalty. He nominated Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court to get anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-death with dignity rulings. At the National Prayer Breakfast, he promised to allow tax-exempt churches to promote candidates from the pulpit and engage in other political action while keeping their tax-exempt status. And he appointed Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to an educational task force for the Department of Education that will use right-wing fundamentalist Christianity in controlling higher education through eliminating regulations to keep the institutions secular.

In a bizarre appearance, DDT gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast that lambasted Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance on The Apprentice and asked the audience to pray for the series that he produces. Then DDT proceeded to justify his ban against Muslims entering the United States by saying that  it will ensure that everyone in the U.S. will follow “our values of religious and personal liberty.” About Senate Chaplain Barry Black, DDT asked, “Is that an appointed position? I don’t even know if you’re Democrat or if you’re Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year, the hell with it.” Yup. The hell with it.

DDT used Jefferson’s language at the prayer breakfast to argue for limiting worship in the United States to Christianity and eliminating the Islam religion:

“It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, the God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Jefferson asked, can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God. Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. . . .”

The founding father believed in the “right to worship,” not the right to take away other people’s rights.

The last fragile vestige of separation of church and state came from the Johnson Amendment from over a half century ago, but Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) have introduced legislation to eliminate that law. DDT declared he would destroy the law. The proposed bill would ban religious institutions from donating to campaigns, but there can always be amendments.

Under the existing Johnson Amendment, religious groups may discuss political issues but not endorse candidates. Religious groups may spend up to 20 percent of their operating budget on political organizing and advocacy without violating their tax-exempt status. LifeWay, a religious research organization, found that 79 percent of U.S. citizens don’t believe “pastors [should] publicly endorse political candidates during a church service.”

DDT has still not overturned President Obama’s executive order that prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation, but he is considering an executive order allow religious beliefs to discriminate against anyone. The basis of the drafted order:

“This Constitutional protection ensures that Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their consciences, and will remain free to express their viewpoints without suffering adverse treatment from the Federal Government.”

Although the news media has focused on the order’s effect on LGBT people, it could be disastrous for children, non-Christians, unmarried heterosexual couples, unmarried mothers, and women’s reproductive rights, including contraception and abortion—in short, permitting anyone to refuse any services for any self-declared “religious” reasons. The order could permit child abuse, domestic violence, injuries, any persecution or humiliation, and perhaps even murder. Parents could deny medical attention to their children and allow them to die.

The order would cover “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations” “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

In addition, the order would allow any church or charitable organization  to be directly political without losing their tax exempt status if  it “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

According to the draft of the order, agencies shall faithfully discharge their duty to accommodate the religion of federal employees and shall not promulgate regulations, take actions, or enact policies that substantially burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious exercise

Asked if DDT believes that Islam is a religion, senior White House aide Sebastian Gorka, a former Breitbart national security editor, refused to answer. Islamphobia has run rampant at the White House: its National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, described Islam as a “cancer,” which “hides behind this notion of being a religion,” and Steve Bannon has made other inflammatory comments about the religion. Avoiding to answer this question indicates that the answer would probably be “no—Islam is not a religion” from the White House administration.

Pope Francis called out DDT on his Muslim ban, criticizing “the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West, and, on the other hand, are against refugees and other religions.” Francis explained:

“The sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy, which is precisely what is happening when someone claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of Christ. You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian.”

The pope cited the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 which concluded, “I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

[Note: DDT’s staff must have taken away his phone again. Thus far, he has not tweeted against the pope–just the “so-called judge” who overturned his Muslim ban.]

Fundamentalist Christians are accusing progressive women of being witches if they don’t support DDT. In the past men controlled women by declaring them witches and killing them. The water test meant that they were innocent if they drowned and guilty—and then burned at the stake—if they survived. Twenty-first century men are bringing back the threat of witchcraft for uppity women who marched for our rights.

According to “prophet” Rick Joyner, any opposition to DDT is the sign of devil influence and explained that the march’s “out-of-control rage” had to be Satanic. Lance Wallnau accused the nature of “the progressive spirit” in “a desire to control and intimidate, manipulate”—just like witchcraft. Jim Bakker chimed in with his second wife, Lori, to talk to Billye Brim who explained that the march was “driven by demons” and called on her viewers to pray in order to “control the demons that were in those women.” Bakker agreed that he sensed “the most evil spirit I have ever felt” in his hotel lobby on the day of the march.

Bakker was imprisoned for several years and then divorced after his sex scandal, including an alleged rape, and accounting fraud. Jerry Falwell, Sr. called Bakker a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and “the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history.”

Despite the founding of the nation on religious liberty, almost one-third of people in the United States think that only Christians can be real “Americans.” Once again, the youth of the nation may save the country: 44 percent of adults over 50 find Christianity being a key whereas only 18 percent of adults younger than 35 agree.

Religion as the key to being a part of the national identity is far more prevalent than it is in other countries. Only 13 percent of Australians, 15 percent of Canadians, and 15 percent of Europeans believe that belonging in their countries is tied to the Christian religion.

In answer to another question on the poll, the same percentage of people in the U.S.—32 percent—think that people have to be born in the country to be an “American.”

Under DDT, the United States is shifting from being a “flawed democracy” to a white supremacist theocracy.

January 29, 2017

Protesters Gather over Muslim Ban

Filed under: Donald Trump,Religion — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

protest-boston-copley-squareThe women’s march was only a week ago, and now thousands of protesters, such as the ones in Boston’s Copley Square above, have gathered in opposition to President Donald Trump’s (PDT) ban on Muslims coming into the United States. PDT’s order, written by white supremacist Steve Bannon, bars all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and all Muslims from seven Middle East countries for 90 days. Although PDT staffer Reince Priebus denied on Meet the Press that the ban is also on legal U.S. residents who hold green cards, these people have also been retained. The order states that they will need a case-by-case waiver to enter the country. Especially notable about the order is that is poorly written and was not vetted by any legal members of the PDT administration.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, called the ban “a dark moment in U.S. history,” citing the need for suffering people to save their lives by seeking refuge. Cupich wrote:

“The world is watching as we abandon our commitments to American values. These actions give aid and comfort to those who would destroy our way of life. They lower our estimation in the eyes of the many peoples who want to know America as a defender of human rights and religious liberty, not a nation that targets religious populations and then shuts its doors on them.”

PDT has denied that his ban has anything to do with religion:

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion.”

trumpYet PDT’s order clearly identifies that refugee claims are for “religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” All seven countries’ majority religion is Islam; thus the ban clearly favors Christian refugees and violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment prohibiting one religion over another. Equal protection is also covered in the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. PDT is following his campaign promise of calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and his admission that he would pretend the ban would be a neutral immigration restriction. Another argument for overturning PDT’s ban is the violation of a federal law forbidding discrimination based on national origin in the immigration system.

Within the first 23 hours of the ban, at least 375 people were impacted before U.S. District Court judge Ann M. Donnelly of Brooklyn issued an emergency order last night, halting the deportations. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of those banned, which Donnelly said is likely to succeed when a full trial is held in several weeks. Several other federal courts also issued similar stays. Rulings in four other cities are limited to those already at U.S. airports or in transit, not to the legality of PDT’s ban.

A federal judge ordered the DHS to allow an Iranian man holding a U.S. visa to return to California from Dubai where he was awaiting removal to Iran. Judge Dolly Gee found that PDT’s ban “violates the Establishment Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and his rights to Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

Yet many people are still in airport detention. After issuing the ban, PDT provided no guidance to airports or airlines about actions, other than confirming that the ban will not be lifted. Canadian Prime Minister has offered to take any refugees holding green cards who are banned in the U.S.

PDT counselor Kellyanne Conway, promoter of PDT’s “alternative facts” on Meet the Press a week ago, hid on the Fox network today and still had a meltdown about the horrible press that prints information about the new president. Describing reporters, she said:

“We turn the other cheek. If you are part of team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day…. I’m here every Sunday morning. I haven’t slept in a month.”

[Turn the other cheek? Gaping wounds? A comparison to Jesus?]

Conway was fortunate in her interview: Chris Wallace failed to point out that the ban most likely violates international treaties, federal statutes, and the U.S. Constitution. Yet she couldn’t even handle that situation.

Arguments from the PDT team are that the ban promotes safety at the cost of a small convenience. But bans on the basis of nationality or religion can be disastrous to national security. It can undermine efforts of security agencies and erode relationships necessary to fight terror.  Iran has already accused Congress of violating its agreement after lawmakers put new sanctions on the country last month. The ban will accelerate hostilities in a fragile relationship: Iran’s Foreign Ministry has called PDT’s order “an insult to the Islamic world, and especially to the great nation of Iran.” According to the statement:

“The decision of the Government of the United States incorporates certain requests that are illegal, illogical, and contrary to international law. The Islamic Republic of Iran will carefully examine and legally pursue any negligence or violation of the international obligations of the United States under bilateral and multilateral agreements and reserves the right to respond as necessary.”

A Bipartisan Policy Center report pointed out that the result can be reciprocal bans against U.S. citizens and commerce, costing the nation billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. The Iraqi parliament is already contemplating a block on visas for people from the U.S. who want to travel to the country.

Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich called the immigration “ham-handed” because it “sowed so much confusion” among international travelers and “sent a message that somehow the United States was looking sideways at Muslims.” He added, “In probably many Arab capitals today, people are like, ‘What is America doing?’ ”

Showing that public outcry can be effective, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly issued a blanket waiver to immigrants holding green cards or entitled to permanent residence in the U.S., allowing them to enter the country, despite President Trump’s new executive order. But the damage to the nation’s reputation is already done. There’s no going back. World War III, anyone?

January 8, 2017

‘Understanding’ Won’t Change GOP Voters

If only Hillary Clinton were more likable. If only she had gone to the right states. And on and on.

After the election, Democrats used Clinton as the scapegoat for losing the election and skipped over the antagonistic media, the James Comey illegal releases, the Russian hacking, the Trump lies, and a number of other issues beyond her control. Ignoring all these reasons, Democrats decided they lost the presidency because they didn’t try to “understand” the white working-class segment of the population.

Forsetti’s Justice presents his perspective of “understanding” rural Christian white America.

“The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.”

The white Christian god is king in deep-red states. Tribal belief systems are shaped by religious fundamentalism which prevents curiosity, change, learning, and criticism. Democrats who think that these fundamentalists need “understanding” are wrong: they only want agreement. All educated progressives are enemies to fundamentalists.

“Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts.”

Fundamentalists believe in teaching reading and writing but reject any disagreement to their doctrine. Women should marry and have children the minute that they graduate from high school, and college for young men is a waste of time. Even young people who attend college automatically reject whatever doesn’t fit into their fundamentalist belief systems.

Justice defines rural Christian white Americans as racists. They may deny this description because they’ve—mostly—stopped burning crosses and lynchings, but their belief system tells them that they are superior because they are white, all made in the image of their white god. Religion teaches them that a less-than-white skin comes from sins instead of their ancestors. Fundamentalist belief that blacks are curse, for good reason, means that they shouldn’t be treated as equals. Internal change is frightening to fundamentalists so they ignore evolution, genetics, and science. No “understanding” from Democrats will make them less racist and more open to facts.

Propaganda works exceptionally well with fundamentalists because they have no protection against it, no openness, willingness to re-evaluate, critical analysis, and self-reflection. Fundamentalists grant some people “expert status” and believe everything they say, treating it like gospel.

“Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them.”

These people are like DT: they have nothing in common with these fundamentalists except for their color and language of white superiority. Yet fundamentalists treat them as authorities.

Bad information stays with fundamentalists because of their “closed-off” belief systems. Justice compares this to spinal fluid, “great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.”

Anything outside their belief system is a threat to fundamentalists who want the behavior be blocked for everyone. Same-gender couples marrying, blacks protesting police killings of unarmed friends and family, immigrants performing cheap labor, Muslims celebrating a non-Christian religion, women making a working wage, people getting a college education, scientists warning about climate change—all these are threats. A black president is a threat. The Chinese are threats. Fear makes them create or believe false information such as “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.”

The solution isn’t “understanding” the irrational and unjustified fears based on the lies that come from their fundamentalist belief systems promoted by rural white Christians. Fundamentalists don’t trust Democrats and aren’t open to them. Finding “common ground” isn’t the answer. Justice wrote:

“When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.”

One way fundamentalist belief changes is through personal occurrence. Acceptance of same-gender marriage switched from 68 percent of the people opposed 20 years ago to a 61-percent acceptance today. Even 40 percent of Republicans support marriage equality. Fundamentalists learned that their friends and family were part of the LGBT community, and the conflict between the belief system and personal experience more than reversed their opinions.

Changes in belief systems can come from catastrophes, especially if taken personally.Comedian Dennis Miller changed from using complex, left-leaning humor to right-wing anger and frustration after the 9/11 attacks. The reverse can also be true: the Great Depression and FDR’s progressive remedies moved GOP members into being Democrats who disagreed that the economy could be saved only by the free market but destroyed by the government.

George W. Bush’s disastrous recession didn’t have the same effect because Congress and the Obama administration saved people from the suffering in the 1930s. Without the shock of a devastating economic depression, conservatives stuck to their belief system of badly regulated markets, supply side economics, and ineffective ways to respond to financial crises. Instead they rewarded the political party causing the problem by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and House control.

Catastrophes also don’t always solve situations. A century and a half after the South lost the Civil War fundamentalists there think they were right and need to change the outcome.

The fundamentalist belief system supports lies that President Obama was in charge at the beginning of the financial crisis and that the mortgage crisis was because the government forced banks to lend to unqualified minorities. President Obama’s dark skin made their lies seem accurate.

Fundamentalists believe that only god can change the weather; that god thinks women should be subservient to men; and that god created whites superior to people of color, especially in an environment where white people interact with few people of color. The fundamentalist belief system requires fundamentalists to vote for massive tax cuts and cutting back government although it hurts their personal situation.

Justice wrote:

“’Rural white America needs to be better understood,’ is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea’s view of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about Aunt Bea’s views. It’s the classic, ‘You’re a racist for calling me a racist,’ ploy.”

Democrats are only avoiding the obvious—that the U.S. has always had a race problem. The divide will continue as long as rural Christian white Americans fail to accept such truths that their votes are responsible for the largest redistribution of wealth to the top in the history of the country, that white business owners are to blame for moving jobs overseas, that no one is going to block their buying guns if they are sane, that their churches won’t have to marry same-gender couples, that access to birth control won’t damage their lives, that they get more help from the government than people in the blue states, that health crises are not “moral failings,” that shopping at big-box stores destroys small businesses, and that most of their problems come from the Republicans who they elect. Economic policies that help rural Christians—increased minimum wage, unions, infrastructure assistance, renewable energy, closing climate change, healthcare reform, etc.—come from Democrats.

Until fundamentalist Christians quit voting against their personal interests just to hurt immigrants, they will continue to suffer—along with all the rest of the bottom 99 percent. Trying to “understand” the white voter isn’t going to change anything.

December 25, 2016

Time for a New Age of Enlightenment

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 3:36 PM
Tags: , , ,

Merry Christmas! Conservatives are now gloating that people can use this phrase again although no one was ever blocked from saying it. Today is the holiday that Christians use to celebrate the birth of Christ despite indications that he was born in the spring after lambs were born. (They’re either four months early or eight months late in their celebration.)

Conservative Christians are also unaware of the holiday’s strong pagan influence. Christians were so eager to proselytize pagans that they used their customs to draw them into the new religion, but there were no Christmas celebrations until the fourth century. In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation banned the practice for a few hundred years both in England and then America. The Puritans started the “War on Christmas.”

  • The choice of December 25 to celebrate the new Christian holiday came from its proximity to the Winter Solstice celebrating the sun god. Before the calendar was changed, Christmas was on the same day as this solstice celebration which falls between December 21 and December 23. It is the date of the longest night and shortest day introducing the rebirth of the Sun. In Old Europe, this date was known as Yule, the old Norse term, Jul, meaning wheel.
  • The Yule log was burned on the solstice to honor the sun. Christians changed the tradition to call is a sign of goodwill through the 12 days of Christmas.
  • Bells were always used to drive away evil spirits, and mistletoe was a druidic device, hung in the doorway to protect people from thunder and lightning. The traditions remained, but the reason changed to jollity and romance. Holly was the sacred plant of the Roman god Saturn. Laurel or bay leaves were sacred to Apollo, the sun god.
  • Greenery, including Christmas trees, was popular in pagan times because it reminded people that vegetation would return in the spring. Holly was the sacred plant of the Roman god Saturn.
  • Red and green colors traditionally represent fertility as shown by the green leaves  and red berries of holly, mistletoe and wreaths.
  • Feasting was popular during pagan times because food was scarce. Excessive eating showed that they had hope for an abundance of food in the new year. The act also came from the ancient Roman Saturnalian celebration between December 17 and 24 to honor the Roman god Saturn.
  • Candlelight was used for pagan celebrations honoring the sun. The first use of candles in December came during the Roman Saturnalia festival where tall tapers of wax presented to Saturn and given as gifts. were offered to Saturn as a symbol of his light and also given as a gift to guests. Jews may have absorbed the pagan tradition of candles for Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
  • Christmas carols come from folk solstice songs. Oliver Cromwell tried to eradicate the songs during his reign in the mid-seventeenth century but failed because people sang them in secret. The Victorian era rediscovered them, and Christians wrote new ones.
  • Santa Claus may have come from the pagan god Odin, a tubby old man with a long white beard and flowing cloak. Others trace him to Nicholas, born almost 1800 years ago in a small town in Greece which has been subsumed by Turkey. A devout Christian whose parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was young, followed Jesus’s teaching to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor.” He used his inheritance to help needy people who suffered from sickness and poverty, a far cry from the greed displayed today that rewards large corporations with billions of dollars. People didn’t exchange gifts at Christmas until Queen Victoria started the practice in 1850.

The Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, “Mary on Top of Minerva,” is an Italian church dating back to 1280 when Christians built it on top of a temple to Minerva, the pagan goddess of wisdom, medicine, and war. A namesake for this goddess is Professor Minerva McGonagall of Hogwarts.

This morning I read a column from conservative Paul Greenberg about the wonderful “Christmas spirit” causing people to do kind things for others. Why don’t Christmas believers follow the teachings of Jesus and perform kind acts throughout the year instead of confining their generosity to a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas? And stop bashing everyone who doesn’t use the “Christian” terminology or who doesn’t follow their faith?

“Christmas” and Winter Solstice are a time to bring back the light, a time to consider enlightenment instead of darkness. The Age of Enlightenment during the 18th century was a movement to center ideas on reason instead of dogma. It was a time when governments moved toward liberty, tolerance, science, constitutional government,  and separation of church and state. The American Revolution was founded on freedom and questioning of religious orthodoxy, an opposite philosophy to the conservatives’ anti-science, anti-reason, anti-freedom anti-tolerant, anti-constitutional beliefs in the 21st century.

The motto of the Enlightenment was “Sapere aude – Dare to know.” Founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson helped incorporate these enlightened values into government leadership. It’s time for these ideas to return. We need a new “Age of Enlightenment” to free us from these dark ages.

Happy holidays and dive into the new year by joining the search for a return to enlightenment during the 21st century!

December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Today, the United States is being taken over by an insecure, anger-ridden megalomaniac who rose to power through lies and election assistance from a foreign country. He’s already using his position for personal financial gain and nominating federal officials who will help him create further poverty and deprivation for 99.99 percent of the people in the nation. His opposition to any press that he doesn’t control violates the First Amendment, and his plan to stop any protests against him violates the constitutional right of assembly. Democracy as people in the United States is in great danger.

Today is also the first of an eight-day Jewish celebration for the defeat of an insecure narcissist ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, known for his excessively extravagant display of riches and cruelty over two millennia ago. Initially appearing congenial toward his subjects, he felt contempt for them and sold political positions to benefit only the wealthiest in the country. His quick anger earned him the nickname of “madman.” After he forced the Jewish people in his kingdom, which included Judea, to follow the country’s primary religion and culture, Judah Maccabee and his followers revolted. Through their skill and knowledge, they took back their freedom from Antiochus and showed that a minority can fight back against a repressive regime through intelligence and the ability to work together. The exact date of this Jewish festival of lights changes each year because it is tied to the lunar Hebrew calendar.

Last week, Michele and Barack Obama hosted their last Hanukkah party at the White House. His observations about the event demonstrate the articulate graciousness of the current President of the United States at a time when non-Christians are targeted by hatred and bigotry. I will miss President Obama and his leadership in the coming years.

“Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference. That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time. How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation. It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have. The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world. So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.

“This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom. The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith. Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it—to publicize the mitzvah. And that’s why we’ve invited all these reporters who are here.

“Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition. Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be—and defending the rights of others to do the same—that’s our common creed. That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window—not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors.

“The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance—these are one and the same. Elie Wiesel taught us that lesson probably better than just about anybody. In one of his memories of the Holocaust, Elie watched a fellow prisoner trade his daily ration of bread for some simple materials with which to piece together a makeshift menorah. And he wrote that he couldn’t believe the sacrifices this man was making to observe the holidays. A stunned Elie asked him, “Hanukkah in Auschwitz?” And the man replied, “Especially in Auschwitz. The world lost my friend, Elie Wiesel, this year. We lost a keeper of our collective conscience….

“Through centuries of exile and persecution, and even the genocide of families like the Wiesels endured, the Hanukkah candles have been kindled. Each wick an answer to the wicked. Each light a signal to the world that yours is an inextinguishable faith.

“Jewish leaders from the Maccabees to the Wiesels, to the college students who proudly sing Hebrew songs on campus, reaffirm our belief that light still drives out darkness, and freedom still needs fighters.

“As many of you know, the name ‘Hanukkah’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘dedication.’ So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defense of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.”

A video of President Obama giving these comments is here.

Fomented by Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.com, much has been said in the conservative media about the president’s “stabbing Israel in the back” by abstaining from the UN resolution to keep further encroachment into Palestine’s West Bank by Israel. Hillel Schenker wrote this in the Times of Israel:

“Thank you President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. And thank you New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia for moving forward with the resolution.  And thank you Egypt for drafting the resolution. The passing of yesterday’s UN Security Resolution on the settlements is the best Hanukkah gift you could have given to the people of Israel, and it provides a glimmer of light on the horizon amidst the current darkness.  It reaffirms the international commitment to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based upon a two-state solution, the only realistic solution to the conflict that can provide security and peace to both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.”

Schenker explains that, as the resolution states, “the status quo is not sustainable.” He also agrees with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power who said that continued settlement building “undermines” Israel’s own security. Schenker pointed out an appreciation from many Israelis who understand that “it was done in the spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948”:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL … will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Declaration also requires that Israel “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples” and “do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.” It added that Israel will “cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947.”

The resolution passed with a 14-0 vote after the U.S. abstained. It states that Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory since 1967 are not legal and calls for a stop to “all Israeli settlement activities.” At this time, almost a half million from Israeli have claimed ownership of Palestine land and another 200,000 live in east Jerusalem, the area that Palestinians view as their capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to stop the vote with an appeal to Donald Trump (DT), who will not be U.S. president until January 20, 2017. DT also contacted Egypt, asking them to delay the vote indefinitely although he has no legal right to control the current president’s foreign policy. Egypt did so, but four other countries sponsored it.

With strongly pro-settlement David Friedman as his pick for the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, DT is following his plan to move the nation’s embassy to Jerusalem, an act which should instead be determined by peace talks. At this time, DT doesn’t understand—or refuses to accept—that the United States has only one president at a time as he continues his thrust to support far-right Israelis in their journey toward creating strength that diminishes the power of oil-producing companies in the Middle East. In this way, DT can both win back evangelical Christian support and join Israel to take over oil fields.

As people have said about the next four years, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Meanwhile we can appreciate President Obama’s last four weeks in supporting the people of the United States. Happy Hanukkah!

November 13, 2016

Trump: Pick of White Christian Evangelicals

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:39 PM
Tags: , , ,

Donald Trump accomplished what another thrice-married, philandering candidate couldn’t do. He won the White House, and Newt Gringrich lost it. Exit polls show that 80 percent of white evangelicals threw the support behind Trump. It was the first campaign for several years in which no one mentioned religion beyond Jerry Falwell trying to justify his support by saying that Trump is now “born again”—he isn’t—and Trump saying that Hillary Clinton isn’t religious. Considering Trump’s behavior, no one may talk about religion for the next four years.

The question now for white evangelicals may be the direction of their movement. They knew that his character is far more questionable than any other presidential candidate has been for a long time, but they chose him anyway. Eighteen years after these evangelicals fought to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, they fought to elect a man who brags about grabbing “pussy” and lies 80 percent of the time. As a result, these voters have lost all right to the moral high ground.

The same 80 percent of white evangelicals also voted for a man who supports racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and nativism, a problem for many black evangelicals. Television is filled with Trump surrogates claiming that the president-elect isn’t racist and respects women, that he’s really a nice guy, but thousands of hours of video belie these false claims. Trump has claimed since his election that he wants to “unite” the country, but he continues to select advisors who lead movements to deport immigrants, disallow refugees into the country, and remove women’s rights.

White evangelicals evidenced concern during Trump’s campaign about whether he possessed conservative and biblical standards, but them managed to twist the bible to justify his behavior. Lying, murdering, and committing adultery are just fine for the new white evangelical–just follow the story of King David.

As Trump announces his direction, these conservative bona fides are becoming more and more questionable, for example slowly discarding the idea of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Gingrich explained about a major pillar of Trump’s campaign that he never really meant to build a wall, but it was a good campaign argument.

Proselytizing will become more and more difficult for white evangelicals because of their current stand of electing a severely flawed man. They have shamed people for moral weaknesses and sins ever since whites moved to America over four centuries ago. Now the unrepentant has no reason to follow the gospel if white evangelicals select politics over Christianity.

One anti-Trump voice speaking in the wilderness came from Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who called for a gospel-driven Christianity rather than a focus on politics:

“The most important lesson we should learn is that the church must stand against the way politics has become a religion, and religion has become politics. We are not, first, Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or progressives. We are not even, first of all, the United States of America. We are the church of the resurrected and triumphant Lord Jesus Christ.”

Deborah Jian Lee, author of Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism, wrote:

“I’ve been hearing from evangelicals leaders and lay people who are people of color, women and LGBTQ who fiercely opposed Trump and are now stunned to see just how many of their white fellow believers supported a candidate that proudly demeans their humanity. Trump preached xenophobia, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and more, and the white evangelical base said ‘Amen.’”

Lisa Sharon Harper, chief church engagement officer at the progressive Christian organization Sojourners, described the 180-degree shift in U.S. culture:

“Our nation’s first African American president will be followed by a candidate backed and promoted by the Ku Klux Klan. What’s worse, white people who claim Evangelical faith (women and men) pushed him to victory.”

Long-time Republican Max Boot, now turned Independent out of disgust, describes the three GOP factions that may rip his former party apart:

“Movement” conservatives, led by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan: They want to cut taxes and entitlement programs, promote free trade, apply a “balanced” approach to immigration reform, reach out to minority communities, and increase a strong defense and internationalist foreign policy.

Trumpkins: These “nationalists” want to do exactly the opposite and achieve their isolationism by bombing any country that gets in our way.

Politicians and political professionals, led by past RNC and current Trump chief of staff Reince Preibus: They are happy to back anyone as long as they win and thus will support the victorious of the first two.

As president, Trump will support any position that makes him popular because he can’t stand being disliked. At this point, he fits the Trumpkins, but he could change in the next 30 seconds. He put far-right religious Mike Pence in charge of domestic policy, good news for white evangelicals, but Trump may not follow Pence’s directives because he doesn’t like being told what to do.

In the meantime, white evangelicals have a model for their children that treats females like meat, encourages bullying, brags about being ignorant, smears anyone who disagrees with him, and prizes lying and cheating to get his way.

That’s the life of a white Christian evangelical under the new regime.

October 16, 2016

Beliefs of Christian Right, Trump Match

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 6:30 PM
Tags: ,

A major question regarding Donald Trump is why the Christian right supports such an immoral man. Marlene Winnell has suggested reasons for this cognitive dissonance. She writes, “Trump actually represents the worst of what might be called ‘deep Christianity’ … deep-seated assumptions in orthodox Christianity.”

“The world is a bad and dangerous place.” Spreading fears about terrorism, violent crime, and financial ruin, Trump’s messages match the Bible with its threats of evil and peril, especially the threat of impending end times. Both Trump and the Bible preach the same message: Be very afraid.

“Might is right.” Trump’s values are strength without equality, peace, or justice. An example of this is his beating the drum with his demand that Hillary Clinton be put in jail—before she is tried in an impartial court and before there is any proof of wrongdoing on her part. Trump measures his success by how much money he makes and how much he has cheated the government. The Bible’s Jehovah displays his power by killing people with plagues, floods, and slaughter. Even Jesus, many times gentle and giving, physically drove merchants out of the temple and brags that his “Father” would send him “more than twelve legions [72,000 soldiers] of angels.” To many of those on the far Christian right, Trump is messianic.

“A savior is needed.” Trump continually tells his audiences that only he can save them. There is no team effort; he speaks only about himself in solving problems. He also doesn’t say how he will save the nation; he tells people that they should “trust” him because he is their “voice.” Fundamentalist Christians are waiting for the Messiah to return and save them from all their problems in a way that didn’t happen the last time Jesus appeared on earth.

“Simplistic thinking is adequate.” Trump’s sole solution to immigration problems is to “build a wall.” Trade deficits can be fixed by defaulting on loans. The sole solution to foreign policy issues is nationalism. Every answer to Trump comes from a black and white look at the problem with complete obedience that comes from either right or wrong—no alternatives. Both Trump and Jesus hold the believe that “whoever is not with me is against me.”

“Obedience is key.” Trump supporters don’t reject anything that he has done or said no matter how racist or misogynist. Their position is that others are worse. His fraudulent Trump University? His birther movement? His cheating Trump Foundation? No problem—he’s their leader and shall not be questioned. A Biblical story lauding Abraham when he obeys God by sacrificing his son Isaac praises Abraham. Devout far-right Christians must follow their pastors’ reading of the Bible instead of thinking for themselves, and Trump audiences at his rallies follow the same knee-jerk response to their leader.

“Violence is okay.” In fact, it’s beyond okay because Trump has called on people to beat up on protesters because it supports his purposes. This is the same premise in the Bible as people who don’t agree with God’s teachings can be burned, buried alive, or otherwise struck down. A constant in the Bible is God’s wrath, something visible in almost every Trump rally.

“Prejudice is acceptable.” God sanctions genocide in the Bible and punishment by death for homosexuality in the same way that Trump wants to punish people.  God regards the disabled as “unclean,” and women are ordered to be quiet and submit to their husbands. Slavery is endorsed in the Bible, and people who read the Bible literally are comfortable with Trump’s superior attitude toward LGBT people, women, disabled people, and racial and other minorities.

“Earth is dispensable.” Despite scientific consensus about the dangers of climate change, Trump believes it is a hoax. “Deep Christianity,” however, put apocalyptic vision over science and rationality. Like many fundamentalist Christians, who have no sense of responsibility for the Earth because of their belief in the End Times, Trump can ignore the problems of global warming in order to make more money.

“Exclusive self-interest is moral.” Moderate Christians believe in giving and helping people, but isolationist Christians and Trump are supremely selfish, in opposition to an ethic of working collectively for the common good. Evangelicals are focused primarily on getting to heaven. The nineteenth-century belief of Manifest Destiny, responsible for making the New World into a white man’s paradise at the cost of killing millions of people native to the country, holds a strong similarity to “making America great again.” Trump’s extreme position of American “exceptionalism” can lead to greater genocide by white men.

“America has lost its way.” Trump’s speeches are filled with false claims of the horror of the U.S.—the “hell holes” where blacks live, the way that blacks have never had worse lives (even during slave times), the disastrous economy, the dangers of ISIS and the global financial institutions, etc. Fundamentalist Christians who believe that the Founding Fathers were devout Christians (actually many of them were Deists) think that the U.S. has abandoned those mythical Christian principles; they’re happy to hear Trump claim that U.S. leaders—of both parties—are running the nation into disaster. They believe the biblical message that these “evildoers” will cause entire nations to suffer and be punished. To these people, every natural disaster, many of them caused by climate change, come from the behavior of sinners who don’t follow their belief. To them, Trump will be their savior.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is one of those people who look on Trump as the nation’s savior. He believes Janet Porter’s movie, Light Wins, in which she claims that the Old Testament flood described in the story about Noah’s Ark was caused by same-gender marriage. Gohmert claims that the same thing can happen in contemporary times because of legalized marriage equality and calls on people to vote for Trump in a goal of “saving America.”

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. has tried to convince the Christian school students to vote for Trump who reminds Falwell of his father. Ironically, there are some similarities as Jerry Falwell, Sr. used his Old Time Gospel Hour to spread videotapes accusing Bill Clinton of drug smuggling and murder when he was governor of Arkansas.

Falwell invited his Trump supporter friend Ralph Reed, who demanded Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, to convince the Christian school students that they have a Christian duty to vote for Trump. After a brief criticism of Trump’s bragging about sexually assaulting women, Reed launched into a diatribe about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and then urged them to not sit out the election or vote for a third-party candidate. He said:

“We are called to put away our ‘my way or the highway’ pride, forsake cynicism and negativity, and participate fully as citizens, always cheerful, always winsome, always ready to defend our faith.”

Pat Robertson also continues his support of Trump by explaining that the candidate’s delighted claims of grabbing women by the “p***y” is just his way of “trying to look like he’s macho.”

These are the people who support the bigoted, racist, sexist, violence, murderous, fearful, narrow, black and white perspectives that they glean from their readings of the Bible. These are the people who want to force everyone to follow their own beliefs without thinking for themselves without permitting any diversity. These are the people who are regarded as role models by the Christian right.

It speaks well for many of the 15,000 students and 500+ faculty at Liberty that they have signed a criticism of both Trump and Falwell. The group Liberty United against Trump wrote that Falwell’s support for Trump had cast a stain on the school’s reputation:

“We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history. Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him. … He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

Of the over 2,500 signatures posted by yesterday, 1,100 of them had Liberty University email addresses, and some faculty members have not signed the petition because of concern about retribution. The issue is valid: after Liberty board member and confidant of Falwell, Sr., disagreed with Jr.’s Trump endorsement last January, he resigned, citing “concern about a lack of trust.” Jr. had supported his endorsement by saying, “Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught.”

Polls indicate that fewer than 100 Liberty students voted for Trump in the Republican primary. Unlike their president, Reed, and other Christian right leaders, they understand this dilemma: Can you still claim to be the “Moral Majority” when you support a man who has boasted about sexual assault? The tragedy for those who say “yes” to this question is that they believe Donald Trump will follow through with his promises to “religious liberty.”

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