Nel's New Day

August 25, 2019

Recession Looms, Unconstitutional Demand

Filed under: economy — trp2011 @ 10:15 PM
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The use of “dictator” for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be a misnomer.  He approvingly retweeted a comment from a radio host that “Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…” He followed that by saying “I am the Chosen One” while looking meaningfully up at the sky. He was supposedly talking about tariffs on China. Earlier in the week, he accused Jews who vote for Democrats (79 percent of them in 2018) of showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” meaning to Israel as if U.S. citizens swear fealty to a foreign country.   

DDT panders to evangelical Christians because Jews don’t believe in the second coming. Evangelicals refer to Jews as “uncompleted Christians,” that they still need to come to Jesus.

One response:

“Matthew 24:24 – ‘For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’”

Self-identified evangelical Jay Lowder did call equating Trump with God “blasphemous and sacrilegious.” He added that the “antagonism” toward evangelicals will increase if they support a double standard for DDT’s “actions, policies, or behaviors” and will be forced “to do the same with the next president.”

DDT’s accelerated tariff fight caused the stock market to go on a roller-coaster ride, the Dow Jones down almost 400 points last week after dropping over 600 points on Friday. The volatility came as DDT increased tariffs onto China, China increased them on the U.S., and DDT ordered private companies not to deal with China. After the stock market closed Friday, DDT again increased the tariff percentage on Chinese goods.

Earlier, DDT delayed new tariffs on Chinese goods from September 1 to December 15 but will raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports from 25 percent to 30 percent starting Oct. 1. In addition, tariffs on $300 billion worth of other goods would increase from 10 percent to 15 percent on the December 15 tariff. DDT decided to punish China by withdrawing from the 192-member Universal Postal Union that set international postal rates for over 150 years. If nothing changes by DDT’s deadline in October, mail service will be disrupted for U.S. voters living abroad and cost them $60 to return their ballots.

DDT excluded some tariffs as favors to his base: no bibles although books are fined; no Chinese processing of salmon and cod caught in Alaska although pollock is not protected; no chemicals used for fracking; zirconium for airplanes, even civilian ones; aluminum oxide for steel manufacturers already protected by earlier tariffs on imported steel; shipping containers for big companies like J.B Hunt and CSX. These items were exempted for “health, safety, national security and other factors (aka favoring his voter base).” Legally, DDT can put tariffs on products only for the reason of “national security,” yet his first tariffs were on washing machines to protect “national security” for Whirlpool. Meanwhile U.S. Steel is laying off hundreds of workers the week after DDT bragged about how he had made the company strong.

After 13 failed trade war talks with China, DDT’s Friday tweets were particularly vicious:

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also “ordered” the U.S. Postal Service and private companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS to search packages from China for fentanyl and refuse delivery. DDT claims that he has the power to force private companies to change their business practices because of the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act that targets rogue regimes, terrorists, and drug traffickers in commerce regulation. Earlier this year, he threatened tariffs on Mexico with the same law because of southern border crossings. By today, he said he had no plan to call a national emergency. (DDT’s Trump Organization has business ties with China; both he and daughter Ivanka Trump have multiple trademarks in China.)  

In its editorial, the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote: 

“Somebody should tell Chairman Trump this isn’t the People’s Republic of America.”

The tariff situation became more confusing today when DDT said that he may be second-guessing his tariff attack on China. Five hours later his press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote he DDT “regrets not raising the tariffs higher.” G7 Summit leaders reported on DDT’s disastrous trade war, but he said, “Nobody’s told me that.”

The volatile stock market leads to fears of a recession although DDT denies the possibility. He said, “Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they’re loaded up with money.” Yet 39 percent of people in the nation don’t have enough cash to cover an unexpected $400 expense. DDT sent Larry Kuklow and Peter Navarro to Sunday talk shows with the intent of misrepresenting the current economic situation and railed about how, despite the facts, a possible recession is a conspiracy against him.  

DDT claims he has a strong, “powerful” economy, but he proposed steps for an extremely weak economy. White House officials first considered a cut in payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security to make up for the tax cut for wealthy and big business that DDT will use to eliminate Medicare and Social Security. Other ideas which might also require Congressional approval were a currency transaction tax weakening the dollar (currency manipulation), rotating Federal Reserve governors to check Powell, and lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent to spur more investment. DDT also went back to badgering Powell for a one-percent reduction in interest rates, calling him the same kind of enemy as China’s president Xi Jinping. DDT would save millions of dollars in lowered interest rates. He has already benefited from the decrease in July’s Fed Reserve interest change.

After the Labor Department accurately revised job gains from April 2018 to March 2019, DDT lost over 500,000 jobs. Average monthly job growth dropped to 170,000—9,000 less per month in 2017—with the biggest losses in leisure/hospitality, professional/businesses services, and retail. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the probability of a recession within a year is the highest since the last financial crisis.

Other recession indicators are the skyrocketing deficit (higher even than expected), GDP drop to 2.1 percent in the second quarter, dropping tax revenues, and consumer confidence at a seven-month low. Wealthy buyers are pulling out of expensive housing markets, and RV sales are down over 20 percent. Car sales are drastically dropping, bankruptcy filings are steadily increasing, major retailers shut down more stores, tech companies are cutting costs, and U.S. freight shipment volume has fallen during the past 8 months, threatening a negative GDP by the end of the year. Both credit card debt and late payments are on the rise. The U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 49.9 in August from 50.4 in July, the first time it was below 50 since September 2009, and exports sales fell at the fastest pace since August 2009. Falling exports cause reductions in inventories, cuts in productions, and loss of jobs. The problems ripple across the economy because manufacturing affects every part of it—business services, distribution, transportation, etc. The fall in manufacturing output during the first six months of 2019 entered a “technical recession.”

The Dow looks good, but DDT’s percentage of increase at 32.2 percent is below that of Democratic presidents at the same time of their first term—Clinton at 39.3 percent and Obama at 45.2 percent. DDT’s only accomplishment is a low unemployment rate, but it was headed there when he was inaugurated. A look at DDT’s chaotic response to the financial problems he caused, and a comparison of the DDT and the Obama economy in 15 charts. 

DDT thinks that dropping interest rates will get him re-elected, but they will damage savings and be devastating for blocking a recession. Buying a year or two with lower interest rates would create a massive credit bubble like the subprime mortgage crisis over a decade ago. The current risk comes from huge corporate debt, especially high-yield bonds. Dumping these at one time at low prices would culminate in a disaster, especially if lenders bought corporate bonds with low-interest loans, and lenders may be forced into more debt. With the weak expansion, sellers may have no buyers, and companies won’t be able to service debt.

DDT started out with a solid economy, and everything he does is designed to ruin it. He is damaging not only U.S. economy but also that in other countries with conservative leadership. UK’s Brexit vote preceded DDT’s election by a few months, but Boris Johnson is pushing the nation into disaster with half Britain’s farms poised to fail. Brazil’s new DDT-style leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has made no reforms to pension and tax systems that undercut economic growth. Italy’s enormous debt and annual deficit led to the collapse of its government and the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte after his election 14 months ago—the second election in 18 months.

Frank Rich wrote an excellent article on DDT’s panic about the economy and its destruction because of DDT’s policies. Future generations in the U.S. will have nothing, and DDT cares about nothing except getting re-elected. 

February 17, 2019

A Wall to Protect People from Religion?

If we used the same standards for religious figures that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tries to use for undocumented immigrants, the United States would build a wall between the country and all churches. Another former archbishop and cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse with no chance for appeal, Theodore McCarrick has been found guilty of “sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power” and “solicitation” during confession. A study completed in 2002 found almost 11,000 cases of sexual abuse by almost 5,000 priests. Far more have emerged in the past 17 years, including the uncovering of over 300 priests in just one state who abused over 1,000 children.

Catholics aren’t alone in sexual abuse by their leaders: at least 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced charges of sexual misconduct against over 700 victims in the past 20 years—more in Texas than any other state. The church urged many of the victims to forgive the offenders and for becoming pregnant. Sometimes churches shunned the victims. Some sexual abusers returned to their churches to preach. Southern Baptist Convention officials shielded the predators and refused any reforms.

The above are just two examples of denominations in which people are sexual abused by their religious leaders. The stories go into the tens of millions, unlike DDT’s concerns about undocumented immigrants.

The Roman Catholic diocese has exonerated the male white students from Covington (KY) who appeared to invade the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. after they attended an anti-choice March for Life. The bishop claimed that their students were being threatened can called their behavior “laudatory.” The opinion was based on online video and interviews with 43 students and 13 adult chaperones. No one from the Indigenous Peoples group was interviewed. All of them are quite pleased with themselves.

Wyoming has failed to repeal the death penalty, and state Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne) is grateful because Jesus also got the death penalty. Without his execution, he could not have absolved the sins of mankind. Therefore, retaining the death penalty is vital. I’m a bit confused about her logic. Does she compare all executed people to Jesus? Self-identified on her FB as “your only true Conservative, Christian, Pro-Life Candidate,” she also made this argument for her homophobia while speaking to students from Cheyenne Central High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance:

“If my sexual orientation was to have sex with all of the men in there and I had sex with all of the women in there and then they brought their children and I had sex with all of them and then brought their dogs in and I had sex with them, should I be protected for my sexual orientation?”

Frustrated by two Muslim women in the newly-elected House, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has accused her of being anti-Semitic because she pointed out that Israel gets its power with the U.S. government because of its donations to legislators. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is right in her claim, but she left out the money that anti-Semitic evangelicals donate to conservative legislators while lobbying them to support Israelis and destroy Palestinians. It all comes from the Christian belief that Christ must convert the Jews after he returns to Israel before the great millennium, the golden age, can begin. Thus their obsession with strengthening Israel for Jesus’s return. Eighty percent of evangelicals viewed Israel’s new state in 1948 as a vital piece of the Second Coming, and 52 percent say they support Israel because of its role in the End Times. VP Mike Pence is one of these people.

The Center for Religion and Civil Culture at the University of Southern California divides evangelical Christians into five different sects since DDT developed power:

Trump-vangelicals:  Primarily white with a few Latinx or black pastors; DDT’s base who want access to political power with the belief that God picked DDT to “make America great again.”

Neo-fundamentalists: DDT supporters who try to keep some Christian values and separate themselves from DDT’s “moral failings.”

iVangelicals: Conservative but pretend to be non-partisan; ministering in big churches to mostly white, financially well-off suburbanites.

Kingdom Christians: Separate from evangelicals but with similar beliefs; keep to smaller, urban churches, sometimes rented spaces.

Peace and justice evangelicals: The left-wing with origins in the 1973 “Chicago Declaration of Social Concern,” urging evangelicals away from prosperity gospel and toward the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia shows that religious fundamentalism comes from a functional impairment in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Damage results in diminished cognitive flexibility and openness—a loss of curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness. Religious beliefs, socially transmitted mental representations of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real, differ from empirical beliefs based on the appearance of the world and updated with new evidence and new theories. People with lesions in the prefrontal cortex rate radical political statements as more moderate than people without the damage possibly caused by brain trauma, psychological disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, or genetic profile. Although brain damage can lead to religious fundamentalism, the reverse can be true: extreme religious indoctrination can harm the development or functioning of the prefrontal brain areas.

Conservatism is connected with religious beliefs because they are not updated with new evidence or scientific explanations. Fixed, rigid beliefs promote predictability and rules of evidence in the person’s tribe. Religious fundamentalism discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues—anything that challenges their beliefs. People can become aggressive toward others who are perceived because they don’t share their anti-science and supernatural beliefs.

Although brain damage can lead to religious fundamentalism, the reverse can be true: extreme religious indoctrination can harm the development or functioning of the prefrontal brain areas. Dr. Marlene Winell, daughter of Pentecostal missionaries and a human development consultant, addresses the problem of Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) in her counseling and in her book Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion. She explains that emotional and mental treatment by authoritarian religious groups causes RTS from teachings such as eternal damnation, religious punishment and guilt, and neglect when people are denied information and opportunities. Indoctrination leads to fear and anxiety, and some people suffer from nightmares and panic attacks throughout their lives. The syndrome can also cause depression, cognitive problems, and difficulty in social functioning because the core message of fundamentalist Christianity is that people are wrong and deserve to die.

To control people, fundamentalists tell them that they are weak and dependent, keeping them from making decisions because they must follow the Christian leaders. Leaving can be almost impossible because of religious shunning if people don’t conform.  Departure from a church requires a complete change of one’s self of reality and belief systems. Traumas other than RTS are built into society because of an understanding about the horrors of domestic abuse and war-related PTSD. A person needed counseling because of issues related to RTS are sent back to religion.

One of the goals for fundamentalist Christians is to block marriage equality, and seven Kansas GOP legislators are using the concept of religion to accomplish their mission. Their proposed bill would eliminate all rights for sexual minorities because being LGBTQ is “a religion that does not fulfill any compelling state interest.” They maintain that secular humanism was recognized as a religion in the 1961 unanimous Supreme Court decision when the decision merely determined that the U.S. Constitution prohibits government prohibits a religious test for public office. The legislators’ proof is that the LGBTQ community is organized and has “a daily code by which members may guide their daily lives” along with its religious symbols, i.e., a rainbow-colored flag, and the creed of “love is love”—a shibboleth to oppress those outside their denomination.

Perhaps we need a wall to protect people.

July 8, 2018

Stop Caging People

An Episcopalian church in VP Mike Pence’s home state has put the Holy Family—Mary, Joseph, and Jesus—“in detention” to protest the separation of migrant children and parents mandated by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Statues of two parents an infant child appear caged, similar to conditions provided by DDT, in front of the Indianapolis church to represent the almost 3,000 children torn from their parents. Dean and Rector Steve Carlson had participated with many of his congregation in the huge “Families Belong Together” rallies, but he wanted to make a stronger statement because DOJ AG Jeff Sessions used an out-of-context bible quotation to justify his inhumane actions. About the statues in the cage, Carlson said, “That family is every family who are seeking safety for their children.”

Pence wants to allow refugees into the U.S.—just not those from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In a meeting with the three Central American countries, he told them to curb illegal immigration, stop public advertisements by human smuggling organizations, and root out corruption. Yet according to Pence, Venezuela refugees are acceptable because they live in “a dictatorship that is tyrannizing its own people,” adding that there is no comparison between life in the South American nation and that in Central America. He attributes his born-again evangelical religious beliefs to his bond with the Venezuelan people. Pence’s religious background allows himself to avoid the facts that the U.S. foreign policy in Central America throughout the past century has promoted the extreme violence causing flight from these countries. And Pence’s complete allegiance to DDT overlooks the massive corruption in the U.S. government.

The White House bible study group is largely responsible for tearing migrant children from their parents. Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, both Pence and DDT give great control of both domestic and foreign policy to evangelicals, led in the White House, Congress, and DDT’s Cabinet by Ralph Drollinger. Taxpayers provide the funding for “significant staff time and resources [invested] in coordinating Christian bible studies every week,” according to information discovered by a FOIA request. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who strongly defended separating families, has a great deal of involvement in these bible studies.

Drollinger is particularly fond of Pence:

“Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh.”

Drollinger bragged about DOJ AG Jeff Sessions:

“Jeff Sessions [will] go out the same day I teach him something and he’ll do it on camera. And I just think, man, these guys are faithful, available, and teachable.”

The day before Sessions used the bible to justify the separation of children and families, Drollinger’s lesson used the passage quoted by Sessions to separate families on the border. Drollinger has bragged:

“It follows that when someone breaks the law of the land that they should anticipate that one of the consequences of their illegal behavior will be separation from their children.”

A major question might be if any illegal behavior on the same level as entering the U.S.—traffic violations, drunkenness, trespass, vandalism, discharging a firearm within city limits, etc.—should require separation of children and parents. He made no mention of felonies such as DDT’s Cabinet members perjuring themselves under oath during their confirmation. (Oh yes, their children are grown.)

Drollinger continued:

“God intends for Governments to bear the sword relative to enacting justice. They are to be an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. This means Government is sanctioned, bound, and responsible to punish those who break the law … including illegal immigration.”

Evangelicals, who support DDT despite his sexual misconduct and lying, are also supporting Dennis Hof for the Nevada state legislature. Calling himself “The Trump of Pahrump,” the town where he resides, Hof is a pimp who owns five brothels, married three times while facing multiple allegations of adultery, and sexually harassed his employees. One former sex worker claimed that he raped her. About Hof, Pastor Victor Fuentes said:

“We have politicians, they might speak good words, not sleep with prostitutes, be a good neighbor. But by their decisions, they have evil in their heart. Dennis Hof is not like that.”

About the Liar-in-Chief, Hof said:

“People will set aside for a moment their moral beliefs, their religious beliefs, to get somebody that is honest in office. Trump is the trailblazer, he is the Christopher Columbus of honest politics.”

DDT’s daughter Ivanka donated $50,000 to a Texas church with a history of anti-LGBTQ activism after receiving a tweet that the church wanted to help immigrant children. The Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Jack Graham also tweeted support for the separation of these children from their families. President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2003 to 2004, Graham claims 38,000 members in his Plano megachurch.

Evangelicals follow DDT’s view of immigrants as animals: Leigh Mitchell, host of the Faith & Freedom program on the YourVoice American network, accused “children below ten years old engaging in sexual activity.” He added, “All kinds of sin and disgrace and darkness; the pit of the pits.”

DDT’s mandated separation between children and parents at the Mexico border evidences the white people’s deep hatred, an insistence that these people must suffer because they are inferior, that they deserve great punishment. The Christian bible tells stories about victims, but DDT’s policy turns Christian against victims fleeing misery and violence. DDT’s symbol of supremacy for his white followers is a tall wall. Logic shows that the structure will not accomplish safety in the United States, but DDT first created a massive fear of the non-white subhuman people and then a solution that would make his followers feel safe. DDT ran on a platform of fear and hatred, and he hopes that his continued promotion of the same emotions at his rallies will win more elections for himself and the Republicans.

The millions of people protesting for immigrants, women, LGBTQ, the poor, non-Christian religious groups, and other marginalized groups in the United States are fighting the fake “righteousness” exhibited by people claiming to support the U.S. Constitution. Psychologist Jeremy Sherman compared this “token righteousness” to trinkets that people collect:

“Pick some easy, trivial issue and crusade on it pretending that it’s the highest priority, the most epic concern. With token righteousness, you can pose as if your bravely, lovingly saving the world without having to prioritize the truly daunting threats to it.”

Sherman described “a whole charm bracelet of trinket issues to make yourself feel like you’re covering all the marks of righteousness” that owners use to “tinkle … as if tolling the bells of epic righteousness”:

  • For bravery: Defending the second amendment.
  • For civil rights: LGBTQ bathrooms.
  • For national defense: Barring immigration.
  • For care: Anti-abortion.
  • For defending tradition: Anti-gay.
  • For fiscal responsibility: Anti-welfare to others (they’d like to keep their own).
  • For compassion: Devotion to Christ and care for fellow members of their self-righteous exceptionalist cults.
  • For Truth: Faith in the bible.
  • For freedom: Corporate libertarianism.
  • For patriotism: Upholding the flag and opposing the bended knee.
  • For global concern: Anti-Islam, anti-communism.
  • For justice: Lock her up.

Psychologist Otto Rank used the word “partializing” for making these “little something everything,” for example, being anti-abortion to protect fertilized eggs will protect all life. Its triviality allows them to not think. Instead they change the debate by saying “but what about this?” This “form of threat displacement” allows people to make threats “manageable” and pass it on to others. Using these trinkets also makes them more important: i.e., a right to not be offended by marriage equality is a higher priority than the right of same-gender couples to marry.

Trinketing people fail to face the knowledge that their “token righteousness” cannot address the world’s problems. It is the growth of their frantic behavior that makes the United States dangerous for everyone—not just minorities.

DDT’s survival methods:

  • Always lie if you find yourself in trouble.
  • Claim yourself patriotic for anything you want.
  • Take whatever you want …
  • Bully people because you have the right to take anything you want.
  • Violence is the best resort to take what you want.

It’s time to stop using DDT’s methods, take people out of cages, and reunite everyone.

June 17, 2018

Father’s Day ‘Celebration,’ Separating Children from Parents

An undocumented Honduran women was handcuffed after she protested against federal agents tearing her baby away while she was breastfeeding. That baby was one of 2,000 children removed from people crossing the border since AG Jeff Sessions declared his “zero tolerance” policy, even if immigrants legally entered asking for asylum. Conservatives continually claim that families should be expected to be separated because they are “breaking the law.” Crossing  the border for the first time is a misdemeanor—as are traffic violations, disturbing the peace, petty thefts, and other legal violations that do not lead to prison.

Today is Father’s Day, celebrating fatherhood and the influence of fathers in society. AG Jeff Sessions, a father of three and self-identified Christian, uses a biblical verse to defend his policy of tearing all children from their parents at the border, even if families seek asylum. He quotes Romans 13, “that God has ordained the government for his purposes.” John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, said:

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked. One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution. [The other] is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong.”

Sessions appealed to “church friends” to support him. They aren’t. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said:

“Overwhelmingly, Scripture causes families to be kept together. Overwhelmingly Scripture causes us to defend families. As Evangelicals, we have a doctrine to be a pro-family-values people, you know. The Bible calls us to be pro-family, and I personally find it deeply lamentable that we are separating children from their parents at the border or anywhere.”

The Vatican tweeted a quote from Deuteronomy 10:18-19:

“The Bible teaches that God ‘loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.’”

The leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly condemned DDT’s immigration policies as immoral. One bishop suggested that Catholics who help carry out the Justice Department’s policies should be denied Communions because they violate their faith.

Even white evangelicals, who defended Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his other transgressions including pride in grabbing p**sy, are appalled at his immigration policy. Far-right Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, called the policy “disgraceful” and said that he doesn’t “support that one bit.” (He did try to exonerate DDT by blaming politicians during the past three decades “that have allowed this to escalate.” The conservative evangelical Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution maintaining “the priority of family unity,” securing the border “and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the country.” The resolution also stated “that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

VP Mike Pence, who spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention, was not universally welcomed because of his support for separating families. North Carolina Pastor J.D. Greear called for an “identity is in the gospel” in the first controversy since conservative evangelicals’ objections to Richard Nixon.

Over two dozen of the largest religious groups in the U.S. ask DDT to eliminate its policy separating all children from parents at the border.

Facts about the current separation of children and parents:

  • Border Patrol agents lie to families about reasons for and length of separation. Parents are told that children are taken briefly for questioning or baths. Then women are told that they will “never see their children again.”
  • First-time border crossers probably won’t do prison time and are released after a few weeks in jail awaiting trial. At the trial, parents are told that pleading guilty gives them the best chance of seeing their children.
  • Children separated from their parents are classified “unaccompanied alien children,” a designation for those under 18 years old with no adult relative arriving with them. This classification puts them in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and kept for days or weeks while ORR looks for a relative in the U.S. or releases them to labor traffickers. The DOJ does not attempt to reunite families and has no system to bring families together.
  • With 11,000 children being held, ORR facilities were 95 percent full by June 7. The government is adding tent cities in 100+ degrees for more unaccompanied children.
  • DOJ claims that the zero-tolerance, child-removal policy is working, but it has no evidence to support the statement.

MVM, one of the private contractors making tens of millions off the illegal housing of children separated from their parents has a record of abusing minorities and possessing unauthorized weapons and explosives. Another contractor, General Dynamics, makes billions of dollars off taxpayers despite its $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995.

Federal courts have ruled that using family separation for “deterrence” is illegal, but the DOJ ignores these rulings. The ACLU sued to force the government to reunited families after parents have been sentenced. The judge refused to throw out the government’s request to not hear the case, stating that allegations, if true, are unconstitutional by violating family integrity, part of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of “liberty” without due process of law.

According to medical research, the separation of children from their parents causes “toxic stress” that disrupts brain development and results in developmental delays in motor function and speech, worse in younger children. The separated children are more likely to have life-long health problems, depression, and multiple behavioral changes. The fear of families in the U.S. being separated leads to refusal to get health care or help for legal issues. Friends of children in immigrant families are beginning to suffer from similar syndromes. About 4,600 mental-health professionals and 90 organizations have asked DDT to halt the separation policy.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained the reason for a Senate bill called Keep Families Together:

“Kids locked up like animals in cages made of fencing and wire. Others huddled together on cold metal benches and cement floor. Meanwhile, their parents are held in detention centers hundreds of miles away in a different state – with little to no way of communicating.”

Sessions went beyond tearing children from their parents when he overturned a DOJ Board of Immigration Appeals decision accepting victims of gangs and domestic abuse for asylum who fear persecution in their homelands. The Board is the highest authority, but the AG can assign himself cases and set precedents that end up in federal appeals courts. He says his goal is to reduce the backlog of 700,000 court cases. More families will be shredded because he refuses to help women and children victims of domestic violence.

DDT, father of five children by three different women, claims to “hate” the policy that he and his attorney general generated. Aware of the policy’s unpopularity, he now tries to blame Democrats (false) for a law (false). The separation, however, has been part of his plan since he was inaugurated. White House senior policy advisor and white supremacy supporter Stephen Miller convinced DDT that the policy would be successful in its “deterrence.” Chief of staff John Kelly, mentor to DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, is a full-throated supporter of separating children from their parents. With a few exceptions, the GOP has joined DDT in holding the children hostage to get tens of billions of dollars to build DDT’s “wall” and to drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants to the United States. (More lies here.)  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted how happy he is to be a father with a video wishing everyone a “happy” Father’s Day. Over 90 percent of the responses addressed the GOP separation of children and families.

DDT spent Father’s Day playing golf on one of his courses. He tweeted nothing about celebrating Father’s Day or his children.

Stephen Colbert made an impassioned plea on The Late Show, asking viewers to call their congressional representatives for Father’s Day and ask them to stop the deliberate cruelty of Sessions and DDT. He said:

“I sincerely believe that it doesn’t matter who you voted for—if we let this happen in our name, we are a feckless country.”

Protest marches are spreading across the nation against the separation of children from parents. In Suffolk County (NY), DDT’s poster children for the brutality of gang murders to justify crackdowns, people are wearing yellow bracelets to support migrant families. In red Augusta County (VA) a rally drew protesters and supporting honks from drivers going by. Los Angeles demonstrators blocked traffic.

On Father’s Day, ICE planned to deport Nelson Omar Rosales Santos, in end stage renal failure and waiting for a kidney transplant, but a petition gave him a six-months stay. With a family friend donor, medical insurance, and a surgeon, Santos has three U.S. citizen children and a U.S. citizen wife who successfully petitioned for him to stay in the U.S. He has lived in Stamford (CT) for 30 years. A new petition asks that he be guaranteed a least one-year recuperation in the U.S. after surgery so that it will be permitted.

April 8, 2018

Evangelicals Enable Sexual Misconduct, Other Un-Christian Behavior

After enabling Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his non-Christian behavior during his campaign and since his inauguration, evangelicals worry about losing elections from his behavior and divisive language. A leader of a faith-based ministry said about the Stormy Daniels’ affair, “We’re very concerned.” Christian evangelical leaders plan a meeting with DDT on June 19 at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel. DDT has been asked to take questions for 90 minutes during the daylong meeting with questions about the women suing him in private discussions, a “sidebar conversation.”

A source referenced Galatians:

“There’s things that are like fingernails on the chalkboard to people of faith. That’s not who we are; that’s not a ‘fruit of the Spirit’; that’s not leading with humility.”

Ethical concerns come from its organization with the White House its venue at DDT’s hotel. A planner said, “This is probably the best deal in D.C.”

Two years ago, mostly white evangelical Protestants met with DDT at a New York hotel to reassure evangelicals about DDT’s vulgarity and multiple marriages just a few months before DDT’s infamous Access Hollywood tape. According to evangelicals, DDT followed his campaign promises on abortion, religious freedom, and Israel policy. They want DDT’s reassurance and mobilization of conservatives around other issues for the election. Other agenda items  include discussing priorities and strategies for the elections, such as the insertion of voting reminder in church bulletins. Church leaders will be told to describe voting as a Christian’s “civic duty.”

The need for such a meeting shows a recent change in the political climate. Only a month ago, ultra-conservative megachurch leader Robert Jeffress said:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him…. Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump.”

The shift in the evangelical movement from “family values” to the focus on white males is shown in the new church on the evangelical block, Focus on the Family, a charity founded by James Dobson who was a strong supporter of Roy Moore. In joining the religious welfare state by declaring itself a church, the charity eliminates all taxes and audits with the loose IRS requirements that “organization need not have all of the characteristics (few churches do, and newly-created churches cannot be expected to); thus, no single characteristic is controlling.” VP Mike Pence, a worshipper of James Dobson has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

In a 1998 letter, Dobson wrote:

“What has alarmed me … has been the willingness of my fellow citizens to rationalize the President’s behavior even after they suspected, and later knew, that he was lying. Because the economy is strong, millions of people have said infidelity in the Oval Office is just a private affair–something between himself and Hillary. We heard it time and again during those months: ‘As long as Mr. Clinton is doing a good job, it’s nobody’s business what he does with his personal life.’

“That disregard for morality is profoundly disturbing to me.”

Dobson cited that people involved in licentious behavior would be fired in any other situation—for example, corporate, academic, and medical fields–and finishes with the vital importance of “character”:

“As it turns out, character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world…! Those two positions are fundamentally incompatible. In the Book of James the question is posed, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring” (James 3:11 NIV). The answer is no.”

Twenty years later, Dobson’s answer to the question from the Book of James is “yes.”

Operating as a “church auxiliary,” Liberty Counsel, a collection of lawyers, also escapes filing forms with the IRS. Members represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses, awaits the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like, and fills the DOJ. Others travel the world to push legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Evangelicals should clean their own house before controlling the lives of others who choose not to be a part of their religion.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Matthew Dennis “Denny” Patterson, pastor for over 20 years at the Nolensville Road Baptist Church (Nashville, TN), resigned last September following charges of child abuse for at least two decades. He is accused of touching children, mostly male, in their underwear and having them sit on his face and stomach.
  • Bill Hybels, co-founder of the megachurch Willow Creek Community Church (Chicago, IL) had a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct and fired several pastors and staff members. Now former pastors and staff members are accusing Hybels of sexual harassment and misconduct, including a prolonged affair with a married woman.
  • Pastor Ken Engelking was fired for “sexual immorality” from the Morning Star Community Church (Salem, OR) because of abusive, adulterous relationships that included sexual assault and rape covered up by the church since 1982 and still led by Senior Pastor Scott Nelson. One victim said she decided to tell what happened after seeing the movie Spotlight, describing a newspaper investigation into the church’s cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests. Past reports about the sexual misconduct to pastors were not reported to minors’ parents or anyone else. Engelking’s wife blamed one of the victims for a rape because the victim was wearing a tank top instead of a t-shirt.
  • Former youth pastor Brad Tebbutt is on administrative leave by the International House of Prayer of Kansas City after being accused of sexually abusing a Washington woman three decades ago when she was 14.
  • Joshua Clemons, a former youth pastor, has been arrested for sexual assault of children while he worked at Cross Roads Community Church (Parker, CO) and the children were part of the youth group. The married pastor also had an affair with a 17-year-old girl.
  • Chauncey Walker, a former youth pastor at Wichita’s Word of Life Ministries Church,faces trial for having sex with a 15-year-old  girl. The senior pastor, Robert Rotola Sr, said there was nothing he could do because Walker had quit when the victim told him and threatened to shame the victim by going public. Conversations showing the guilt were taped and can be used in the April 9 trial, legal in Kansas because only one party needs to consent to a recording. The victim is suing World of Life Ministries and Schools, Rotola, and his son, Robert Rotola Jr who is the church school administrator, for $575,000. An amended lawsuit petition indicates that more victims might be added.
  • Navy Capt. Loften Thornton, chaplain for over 25 years, was from released from his post after a video showed him having sex with a woman in front of a New Orleans pub five minutes away from the Marine Reserve facility.
  • Andy Savage, pastor at Highpoint Church (Memphis, OR), received a 20-second standing ovation after he apologized to his rape victim, Jules Woodson, who he assaulted when she was a teenager. (Savage resigned two months after the ovation.)

These examples are only a few from a cursory search of articles during the past few months in reports of massive coverups regarding sexual misconduct. Coverups are demonstrated by an evangelical leader calling DDT the “dream president” and white evangelicals overwhelmingly supporting former judge Roy Moore in his run for the Senate seat in Alabama after women talked about his sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Evangelicals are reviving the “Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rules,” the evangelical solution to sexual misconduct and assault by preventing Christian male leaders from meeting alone with a woman who is not his wife. Katelyn Beaty, Editor at Large for Christianity Today, gives the female perspective of this male-centric guideline:

“The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

“Most female Christian leaders I know find the Pence rule frustrating. (All the people I know who keep the rule are men.) Imagine a male boss keeps some variation of the rule but is happy to meet with a male peer over lunch or travel with him for business. The informal and strategic conversations they can have is the stuff of workplace advancement. Unless there are women in senior leadership positions — and in many Christian organizations, there are not — women will never benefit from the kind of advancement available to men.

“The answer is not to ask women to leave the room. It’s to hold all men in the room accountable and kick out those who long ago lost their right to be there.”

If DDT were to leave office—for whatever reason—VP Mike Pence might replace him. And so would the “Pence Rule” for the nation’s administration. Women would suffer far more losses because of this evangelical control.

March 11, 2018

Evangelicals Leaving DDT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 4, 2018

Gun-Lovers Flock to Pennsylvania Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 21, 2018

Evangelical Racism in America

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

American evangelicals has a long history of racism:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SO JESUS WAS AN ADULTERER, LIAR, PERVERT AND SEXUAL PREDATOR by his own words ????? A THIEF, CHEAT, DISCRIMINATOR, AND A RACIST????? HAD FIVE CHILDREN BY THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN AND DIVORCED TWICE??? THAT’S THE COMPARISON YOUR ANALOGY PURPORTS TO SUPPORT !!!  … YOUR CONTENSION IS NOT ONLY DISGUSTING AND UNTRUE,, ITS EVIL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 20, 2017

Evangelicals Lack Moral Compass

Four advisory councils for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) disappeared after his support of white supremacists and another never came to fruition. Another one that disappeared today is the panel for the National Climate Assessment that included academics, local officials, and corporate representatives. Two councils, however, are still going strong—one that suppresses votes and another that gives far-right racist Christians power over DDT’s decision. Of the 25 DDT-appointed radical born-again preachers, televangelists and conservative political influencers, only one resigned, showing a bit of the moral compass that the majority of business CEOs did after DDT’s outrageous statements equating people standing for racial justice to the “whites-only” groups. One member had resigned months ago. Those remaining were either silent or strongly supported DDT’s impassioned criticism for those who opposed militant neo-Nazis.

Evangelical supporters of DDT claim the high ground, saying that “the Bible calls us to do as ambassadors of reconciliation, reaching across the aisle, [and] reaching out to other ministers.” This action, however, is not one that they took when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were presidents. Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tweet about DDT’s statements described them as being “bold truthful.” Caught up in a backlash, he later tried a spin to say that the “truth” from DDT is that white supremacists “are pure evil and un-American,” but not everyone swallowed his bull.

More bull came from Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who blamed media misrepresentation, despite the entire press conference broadcast on television. Jeffress also advises war with North Korea. He said, “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.” According to Jeffress, nonviolence is only for “Christians,” not government. He added that a president should “absolutely not” obey the Sermon on the Mount, including helping the poor. Jeffress’ mandates comes from Roman 13, “that gives the government to the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un.” [Note: Roman 13 refers to people obeying the laws of their own nation, not making DDT the dictator of the world. It also mandates paying taxes.]

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, tweeted that “corporate America has a greater moral compass” than the Evangelical Council. Only A.R. Bernard (Christian Cultural Center, Brooklyn) formally left the council with the tepid statement “that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.” Guardian has a list of the remaining “ultra-conservative religious cheerleaders.”

One of DDT’s evangelical council will extend her responsibilities to the United Nations where she will help all the nations in the world adopt Christianity in preparation for the “End Times.” Michele Bachman’s (above right) “appointment” comes from The Jefferson Gathering, a project from the Skyline Church that came from congressional conservatives gathering with religious right leaders in Statuary Hall to pray for forgiveness for the nation’s sins such as legalized marriage equality. These people believe that God caused 9/11 and the 2012 Benghazi attack in his judgment.

Former students at Liberty University plan to return their diplomas in protest to Falwell’s racist perspective. A group letter states:

“This is incompatible with Liberty University’s stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness.”

Chris Gaumer, a former student government president at Liberty, called Falwell “complicit” in DDT’s defense of “Nazis and white supremacists.”

The Southern Baptist Church has formally rejected racism but only for the church. All that concerns evangelical church, and others, is collecting everyone into their fold to win their souls. Evangelicals support any politician who furthers their position, despite that person’s character. They use these politicians as a tool to gain their domination. Evangelicals think that God anointed DDT as their president This group of religious leaders has decided that God has placed Trump as POTUS. Because God has put DDT there, they have no right to lift their hands against God’s anointed one; he is their master and they cannot object (1 Sam 24:6). Changing their position about him would destroy the entire belief systems of evangelical leaders and cause them to lose their followers—and income. [Note: Rejecting Clinton would probably not have hurt their belief system.]

From the Guardian:

“It is one of the ‘difficult but primary duties’ of a political leader to speak for a nation in traumatic times. A space shuttle explodes, a school student goes on a shooting spree, a terrorist flies a plane into a building, a hurricane floods a city. When such things happen, Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post, ‘It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul.’ Yet if Donald Trump’s words about the violent white extremist mobilisation in Virginia on Saturday – which an under-pressure White House was desperately trying to clarify on Sunday – are an expression of its soul, America may be on the road to perdition….

“There is absolutely no moral equivalence between the fanatical white supremacists who rallied in the Virginia city on Saturday and the equality defenders who demonstrated peacefully against them, one of whom was rammed and killed by a speeding car allegedly driven by a man who had attended the neo-Nazi rally. The supremacists hate black people and Jews, and regard white people as superior. They talk portentously about blood, soil and the right to bear arms. They admire Hitler and give Nazi salutes. They fly the flags of the pro-slavery Confederacy – the ostensible cause of their rallies this summer is Charlottesville’s decision, more than 150 years after the south’s surrender, to remove a statue of Robert E Lee from a park. And one of them committed the sort of act that was rightly called terrorism when it occurred in Nice, Berlin and London.

“Yet, in his first response on Saturday, Mr Trump utterly failed in his primary duty to uphold equality and speak the truth about the racist violence that had taken place. Instead of placing the blame where it belonged, on the supremacists and Klansmen who triggered these events, and rather than stand up for the indivisibility of equality and tolerance before the law, Mr Trump’s words were by turns slippery, banal and morally compromised. It was not true that the violence in Charlottesville came from “many sides”, as Mr Trump evasively said, before repeating his evasion. It is the head of state’s duty to stand up, explicitly and unequivocally, against racists and those who promote racial violence. Mr Trump was found wanting.”

The above was written before DDT’s appalling press conference on Tuesday that lambasted people in opposition to racial injustice. The Guardian continued after that egregious performance:

“In his angry and undignified press conference on Tuesday night, Donald Trump deliberately and shockingly crossed the line that separates the acceptable and the unacceptable in the conduct of an elected democratic leader in a multiracial society. Mr Trump must now face the consequences of this momentous and inexcusable decision. Those consequences should include the way that the leaders of multiracial European nations, including Britain, conduct their dealings with the US president from this moment on….

“Mr Trump’s petulant and narcissistic demeanour made it clear that he is more outraged by criticism and with the American press than he is with his country’s racists and its neo-Nazis. He clearly cannot help himself. But that is no excuse. This is therefore a moment at which America and the world need to display the moral clarity of which the US president is so embarrassingly incapable. There are not “many sides” to the arguments that came to the boil in Charlottesville and since. There is a right side and a wrong side. Racism, antisemitism, white supremacism and Nazism, new or old, are wrong. A leader who cannot bring himself to say this clearly and unequivocally is not just clueless. He also forfeits his claim to moral authority and much of his right to be respected as leader….”

Far-right Christians face another crisis tomorrow—a total solar eclipse across the United States. A 60-mile wide band of total darkness begins on the north-central Oregon coast and continues through 13 more, mostly red, states of the nation.

Evangelicals such as  Pastor Mark Biltz warns  how the event is a sign from God:

“As the sun is larger than the moon, the sun represents the nations of the world and the moon represents the nation of Israel…. When there is a total solar eclipse, it is a warning to a specific nation or nations depending on its path.”

According to Biltz, eclipses recorded in his bible led to war and plague. If DDT stays president, these events may come to be, attacking at least 12 GOP-dominated states.

October 2, 2016

Trump Needs Evangelical Votes

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 9:10 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Donald Trump has long known that Christian fundamentalists could provide him the path to the presidency. That decision led him to curry the favor of religious right leaders who claimed for a short time that he had become a “born again Christian.” Since then, he is working to destroy the freedom of religion part of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

As Trump does with all his campaigning, he is now going over the edge in trying to woo conservative Christians. At a rally last week, he asked people in the crowd to raise their hands if they aren’t Christians. After a few brave people put their hands in the air, he said, “That’s alright. I think we’ll keep them, right? Shall we keep them in the room? I think so.” Trump’s method of identifying and shaming non-Christians wasn’t a one-time practice. He did it at another rally that day.

Trump may be winning with the evangelicals, but he lacks popularity with Roman Catholics. Hillary Clinton is ahead by 23 points with this demographic group at 55 percent to 32 percent. The last three GOP presidential candidates received over 40 percent of the Catholic vote.

Political scientist Michael J. New wrote in the conservative National Review that Trump lost support because of his attacks on Latino immigrants, considered the future of the Catholic church, and his attacks on Pope Francis. Christopher Hale, the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, called the Trump-Pence ticket the “most anti-Catholic GOP presidential ticket in modern history.” In addition to Trump’s anti-immigration position, his running mate, Mike Pence, has a strong record of blocking the Catholic Church’s efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in Indiana.

Trump’s ratings with the Mormons are also so low that he could lose Utah, a state that hasn’t voted Democratic since Goldwater’s debacle in 1964. Trump is still seven points ahead of Hillary Clinton, but an independent run by Evan McMullin is gaining momentum. In addition to Trump’s immigration problem, Mormon Mitt Romney is a staunch Never Trumper, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), whose Mormon pioneer ancestors settled in northern Arizona, refuses to vote for the GOP presidential candidate. Utah’s GOP Sen. Mike Lee has refused to support Trump because of his “religiously intolerant” statements in banning Muslims from the U.S. Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz (a convert to Mormonism at Brigham Young University) told a group of 50 Utah Muslims that Trump’s call to ban Muslims is un-American, immoral, and does not represent “who we are as a people.”

Last May, former Sen. Bob Bennett, dying from a stroke, asked:

“Are there any Muslims in the hospital? I’d love to go up to every single one of them to thank them for being in this country and to apologize to them on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.”

Utah’s GOP governor, Gary Herbert, declared that Trump lacks “Utah values” because of his “bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics,” as Mitt Romney describes Trump. Herbert pointed out that Trump’s campaign is based almost exclusively on creating “scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants”—something that Mormons have faced all their lives through violence and state-sponsored persecution. Mormonism, like Catholicism, is also dependant on Latinos for its growth. With close to 1,400,000 church members, Mexico is second only to the U.S. as the nation with the largest Mormon population.

Mormons on the political left ask GOP Mormons to pray for anyone except Trump to become president. On the popular Mormon blog By Common Consent, Russell Fox, a political science professor at Friends University, wrote about how Trump, as president, “would apparently be comfortable with trashing the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments.” He stated that it was up to the Mormons to save the country.

Recent polls show that 80 percent of white evangelicals intend to vote for Trump. It’s not because he’s a born-again; it shows how much their desire for political power has overcome their Christian principles. Trump has promised that he will allow non-profit, tax-exempt religious groups to endorse political candidates, destroying the separation of church and state. He has enflamed the religious right by falsely claiming that their religious institutions would lose their tax-exempt status “if they openly advocate their political views.” By spreading this lie, Trump hopes to get the votes of conservative Christians. He is the first presidential zealot who has advocated for overturning the law that was signed by GOP President Eisenhower.

After declaring his campaign, Trump used Christianity as an excuse for his decisions. In refusing to release his tax returns, he claimed that the IRS was persecuting him for his “strong Christian” beliefs. Christian leaders endorsing him had trouble justifying their position about a man who has bragged about his extramarital affairs. When Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson personally endorsed Trump, he said that his conversion had made him “born again.” Trump has never made this claim, and Dobson shifted his statement to saying, “Only the Lord knows the condition of a person’s heart. I can only tell you what I’ve heard.”)

Evangelicals are a fertile field for an authoritarian candidate who praises the anti-LGBT leader of Russia who wants a “Christian civilization.” For example, Bryan Fischer called Vladimir Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called on legislators to eliminate free speech. Others have called Putin “the moral leader of the world” and champion of “traditional marriage and Christian values.” Franklin Graham, son of the great Billy Graham, puts Putin above President Obama and praised Russia’s actions in Syria, called a “holy battle” by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Trump’s other voting base comes from the white supremacy movement that believes in eliminating all except “the right kind of people.” Some of the “wrong kind of people” are non-Christians, including Jews.  The candidate shows himself in accord with these groups such as the Alt-Right led by Jared Taylor. As shown in the Frontline documentary, “The Choice,” Trump’s father taught his son that success is genetic. Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said:

“The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

Like other Trump ideas, this philosophy matches that of Adolf Hitler who murdered over six million people because they lacked the right genes, because they weren’t “the right kind of people.”

A religious conversion may work for Trump if it fits into his business value of fleecing people with his scams. Last summer he selected televangelist Paula White, his “spiritual leader” as his evangelical outreach leader. White has a resurrection seed that will bring the dead back to life—for only $1,144. Russell Moore, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, called White  a “charlatan” and a “heretic” who preaches a “prosperity gospel” that falsely claims that “God’s favor is seen in increasing wealth and freedom from sickness.” [Below: White and other prosperity preachers lay hands on Donald Trump and pray for him at Trump Tower, from a video made September 2015.]

trump-laying-hands

White’s advice complements Trump’s goal: “Find your passion in life and figure out a way to make money.” Before her divorce from her second husband, Congress investigated them for an abuse of the tax-exempt status of their church. Trump and White are a matched set: religion is a scam for both of them.

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