Nel's New Day

April 22, 2017

DDT: Thirteenth Week inside the U.S.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) crowned the week of the March for Science by firing his U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. Possibly, Murthy’s belief that the over 33,000 deaths and more tens of thousands of woundings from gun violence is a public health issue doesn’t align with DDT’s philosophy. Murthy also believes in vaccinations for children. He had another two years in his four-year term.

Misogynist in Charge of Women’s Issues: DDT has put 31-year-old speech writer Stephen Miller in charge of women’s issues. He has denied the gender wage gap, stating that women just work fewer hours than men; opposed paid maternity leave; and claimed that “in modern-day America, there is a place for gender roles” because closing the gap will force men to give up a “noble career.”

Rally instead of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner: The traditional annual dinner in 2011 to benefit the press association may have been the start for DDT’s push to become president, but he will be the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan after he was recovering from a failed assassination attempt. Instead DDT announced he will hold a “BIG” rally in Harrisburg (PA) at the culmination of the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association Jubilee. Hours before the traditional dinner is Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” DDT’s 100th day in office will be a busy day for political wonks.

Another Conservative Loss in Texas: For the third time this month, a court has ruled against the state’s voting laws, this time stating that the GOP-drawn voter map violates the U.S. Constitution with intentional discrimination against minorities. It’s a trifecta: the voter ID law, congressional maps, and state legislative maps all violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Now Texas faces the possibility of mandated federal approval before changing voting laws—not that big a deal since racist Jeff Sessions heads the “Department of Justice.” The minority vote on the panel of three argued that the maps were drawn to favor the Republican party rather than to discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Deported Dreamers: Last year, DDT complained that a judge’s “Mexican heritage” prejudices him against DDT. Born in the U.S., Judge Gonzalo Curiel will now hear another case related to DDT, this one to determine whether DACA participant Juan Manual Montes Bojorquez was illegally deported. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has claimed that no person with an active DACA status has been deported, but Borjorquez is one of several people who disprove Kelly’s assertion.

Proposed Nuclear Storage in Nevada: For the past 30 years, Nevada has fought an underground facility at Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste. The issue was supposedly over in 2016, but DDT has allotted $120 million to resume licensing operations. Nevada opposed the plan on a variety of concerns, including volcanic hazard estimates, corrosion and toxic contamination risks. An experiment to determine Yucca’s suitability showed underground water and waste seepage issues, and research indicates that the place is “geologically and hydrologically active and complex.” Using Yucca Mountain would cost approximately $100 billion. DDT might want to consider what a nuclear accident at Yucca Mountain would do to his Las Vegas hotel.

Lawsuit against DDT’s Inciting Violence: In a lawsuit against DDT’s encouraging his supporters to be violent, his lawyers claim that a president can’t be sued, but the perpetrator of the violence blames DDT. A lawyer for Alvin Bamberger, who was taped shoving protesters over a year ago, wrote that Bamberger “would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s specific urging and inspiration.” Bamberger even wants DDT to pay his damages if he loses the lawsuit. A year ago February, DDT told an Iowa audience:

“So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, okay, just knock the hell. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees; I promise, I promise.”

Another DDT-supporter, Matthew Heimbach, has claimed that he “acted pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President” and that “any liability must be shifted to one or both of them.” In his filing, Heimbach wrote that he “relied on Trump’s reputation and expertise in doing the things alleged.” DDT’s lawyers are also trying to stop a defamation civil suit filed by one of the women who accused DDT of sexual misconduct through the same claim that no one can sue the president.

No First Amendment Rights for Protesters: In response to the lawsuits about violence at DDT rallies, lawyers argued that protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies because such protests infringed on his First Amendment rights. According to DDT’s lawyers, he was protected by First Amendment rights, but dissenting people don’t receive the same constitutional protection at his rallies.

DDT’s Continued Profiteering from Current Campaign: On Inauguration Day, DDT announced his candidacy for president in 2020. Last week’s filings show that over six percent of his current take—about $500,000—goes to DDT-owned hotels, golf clubs and restaurants, including $274,013 in rent to Trump Tower, $58,685 for lodging to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and $13,828 for facility rental and catering to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Donald Trump predicted his “scampaign,” several years ago:

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

Yup.

New Chief of Staff in White House: Before DDT was inaugurated, he said his children would have no role in his administration. Then Ivanka Trump joined as a senior adviser. It was legal because she wasn’t being paid. Now Ivanka, the “special” assistant, has a taxpayer-funded chief of staff. As well as a taxpayer-funded close adviser. And who knows how many more staff members for a member of DDT’s family.

While taxpayers suffer, Ivanka Trump adds to her fortune because of her father’s “connections.” On the same night that she and her husband sat next to Chinese president Xi Jinping, China gave her three new trademarks with monopoly rights for her brand of jewelry, bags, and spa services, in addition to the existing 13 trademarks and 32 pending applications. She has over 180 pending and registered trademarks throughout the world. Her imports into the U.S., mostly from China, increased 166 percent last year and another 40 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Both Ivanka and her husband have extensive communication with China’s government. Kushner’s financial disclosure form lists 24 corporate entities directly related to his wife’s company, but Ivanka has not filed a disclosure.

Smaller Easter Egg Roll at White House: DDT managed to survive the Easter Egg Roll with a rare appearance by First Lady Melania who had to remind DDT to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Asked by a child to autograph a hat, DDT complied and then threw it away into the crowd while grinning like a little kid and the child screams “No!” Attendance was about half that at President Obama’s Easter event although Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the former president had lied about the numbers during his terms. The event has been touted as a success, perhaps because it was run by 400 President Obama volunteer holdovers. My favorite tweet from the event, however, comes from David Frum, past ? for George W. Bush: “The people who f—cked up the White House Easter Egg Roll are asking America to follow them into war without allies in NE Asia?” [DDT’s first Easter Egg Roll]

Dropping Polls: The pundits may have loved the DDT’s bombing in the Middle East, but his actions haven’t brought the hoped-for bump in popularity. Except for glowing comments from far-right media, polls show that he’s still at the lowest approval rating for new presidents, somewhere around 40 percent. Even worse is the loss of 17 points in the number of people who think that DDT keeps his promises—from 62 percent in February to 45 percent in April after people had a chance to watch him as president. He also lost seven points in being seen as a “strong and decisive leader” and a president who “can bring about changes the country needs.” The percentage of people who said they see him as “honest and trustworthy” also dropped by six points. Fewer than half of voters (46 percent) say they are “very or somewhat confident” in Trump’s ability to work with Congress, down from a 60 percent majority in December.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) has also dropped to 29 percent approval with with 54 percent disapproving. And that’s before this next week with the zombie health care reappearing and the potential of a government shutdown if DDT’s staff carries through with their blackmail threats.

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March 9, 2014

Are You Persecuted for Your Religious Beliefs?

Religious persecution has been up front and center in the news in the past few weeks because of the bills in over a dozen states, including the one that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed, to protect religious groups from the menace of LGBT rights. Arizona hasn’t stopped its anti-LGBT action, however. The state has another bill allowing judges and other public officials to opt out of marrying same-sex couples. These are the people who are paid by taxes from same-sex couples.

At the same time, my own state, Oregon, could have a ballot measure saying that businesses don’t have to provide services or goods for same-sex weddings. And my own small-town newspaper published an editorial saying that this ballot measure is okay because a little bit of discrimination in the name of religion is okay.

Later this month and almost exactly one year after the oral arguments on marriage equality, the U.S. Supreme Court will deliberate the case brought by private business regarding the Affordable Care Act that requires them to have insurance providing free contraception to women. If SCOTUS decides that these businesses can opt out of providing birth control, then businesses might be able to claim those same religious beliefs to opt out of services for LGBT people. It could be that same-sex couples can be married but at the same time be turned down for anything to do with the wedding ceremony.

When the Founding Fathers wrote and passed a constitution for all people in the United States, they protected religion for everyone in the First Amendment:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” In the past two centuries, religious people have complained about the way that the government tramples on their personal right to practice their faith:

The Right to Persecute Witches: At the end of the 17th century, people were hanged, killed by heavy stones pressed on them, and imprisoned because others believed that they were practicing witchcraft. The U. S. Constitution denied the right of people to further persecute people for the possibility that they are witches, and courts actually protect witches. People can’t even legally shoot them unless they claim that they are acting in self-defense.

The Right to Own Slaves: The Bible promotes slavery, but U.S. law prevents people from owning other people. The book of Christian belief also states that God wants darker people to be in servitude to the lighter people, according to the religious beliefs of many people. The Mormon Church didn’t rule that blacks are not inferior and that dark skin is not a “curse” sent by God until December 2013.

The Right to Take More Than One Wife: Government took away the religious rights of Mormons to have multiple wives and is still persecuting people for this practice. It also persecuted Mormon men by preventing them from marrying girls 13 and younger.

The Right to Deny Children Health Care: Much to their dismay, Christians now face imprisonment if their children die because of the refusal of medical care for their children.

The Right to Kill People Who Work in Clinics Where Abortions Are Performed: Some Christians believe that they should kill anyone who performs an abortion and anyone who works in one of the clinics where abortions might be performed. The killers believe that it is their Christian right to do this.

Almost three years ago, the Rev. Emily C. Heath, an ordained minister, published the following quiz so that people could determine if they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs:

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

3. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

4. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

5. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

6. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

7. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

8. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

9. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

10. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

Scoring key: If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake..

If you answered “B” to any question, then you might actually be persecuting someone else rather than being persecuted.

Heath wrote:

“Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority. The only way to ensure your own religious liberty remains strong is by advocating for the religious liberty of all, including those with whom you may passionately disagree. Because they deserve the same rights as you. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

January 18, 2014

Bloggers Gain First Amendment Rights

When I started this blog almost three years ago, I wondered what would happen if someone decided to sue me for what I wrote. I’m careful to give sources and not get too radical in my words, but the right wing’s goal is to close down any dissention—and some of the them are millionaires and billionaires. A recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals helped set some of my concerns to rest.

Yesterday, the federal appeals court ruled in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation. Plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages if the issue is of public concern.

The lawsuit began when an Oregon bankruptcy trustee got riled when a Montana blogger wrote that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case. The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure because they are compensated by assets of the Chapter 11 estate they administer and not the government. Cases invoke a higher standard for public officials, requiring proof that the writer acted with malice. Because of the public concern decision, the negligence standard applied.

Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press said the ruling affirms what many have long argued: Standards set by a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., apply to everyone, not just journalists.

Bend attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, had sued blogger Crystal L. Cox, now living in Port Townsend (WA), after she accused them of fraud, corruption, money-laundering, and other illegal activities. In 2010 she wrote about one of the firm’s principals who was appointed as a bankruptcy trustee to a company that misappropriated client funds. She accused him of impropriety in advising the bankrupt firm.

A district court ruled that Obsidian did not need to prove malice or negligence on her part because she wasn’t a journalist. Judge Marco Hernandez of United States District Court (Portland, OR) did throw out most of Padrick’s claims of defamation, ruling that Ms. Cox’s posts were so over-the-top that no reasonable reader would conclude that she was making allegations of fact. The court’s jury awarded $2.5 million to Padrick and Obsidian.

According to the appeals court, Padrick and Obsidian were hired by Summit Accommodators to advise them before filing for bankruptcy, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court later appointed Padrick trustee in the Chapter 11 case. The court added that Summit had defrauded investors in its real estate operations through a Ponzi scheme.

“The district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently,” Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote. “We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages.” The appeals court agreed with the District Court that other posts by Cox were constitutionally protected opinion.

Cox originally acted as her own attorney, but UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh offered to represent her in an appeal after he learned of her case. Volokh said such cases usually end up settled without trial, and it was rare for one to reach the federal appeals court level. He said:

“It makes clear that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional journalists. There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers.”

Steven M. Wilker, lawyer for Padrick and Obsidian wrote, “We are evaluating our options with respect to the court’s decision.”

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to the story. Cox’s interest in the bankruptcy of Summit Accommodators, an intermediary company that holds cash to complete property exchanges, came from the daughter of one of the four senior executives charged with defraud clients of millions. Padrick went after the woman’s father, and Cox blamed the trustee of using inside information and illegal measures to get rich while he was trying to restore his clients’ investments. According to Padrick, Cox ruined him.

According to David Carr in The New York Times, “there is nothing in Mr. Padrick’s professional history or the public record that I found to suggest he is any of those things. He was appointed as a trustee by the court, he was subjected to an F.B.I. background check, and there have been no criminal investigations into his conduct. About 85 percent of the funds have been returned to the creditors, which seems to be a good result.”

crystal-cox-bloggerCarr reported that she frequently created a domain with the person’s name, allegations of corruption, or both. Over a year ago, she had at least 500 URLs at her disposal and likes to use them. Although she had sworn to not give up until Padrick was indicted, she did write his lawyer a letter waving a white flag:

“At this Point in my Life it is Time to Think of Me. So I want to Let you know and Obsidian Finance that I am now offering PR Services and Search Engine Management Services starting at $2,500 a month [to promote Law Firms [and] Finance Companies [and ]to protect online reputations and promote businesses.”

The letter was signed, “In Love and Light, Crystal Cox.”

Another blog had far more to tell about the saga of Crystal Cox.

This holding is the first of its kind for the 9th Circuit Court although other appeals courts have ruled that individuals have the same First Amendment rights as journalists. It is, however, the first case that specifically protects bloggers’ rights.

The bonus of the decision is the ruling that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as the public and the media. The downside is that it came from a sleazy blogger.

December 31, 2012

Myths, Odd Stories

For the end of the year, a few myths that conservatives have pushed enough to persuade some progressives—and the rest of the populace–in their validity.

  1. Social Security is causing the deficit. No, it doesn’t! Social Security would be self-sustaining for the next few decades if the government would just replace the $2.7 trillion that it took out of the Social Security fund. And it could be permanently self-sustaining if the tax were proportionately raised on the wealthy.
  2. The “morning-after pill” causes abortions. No it doesn’t!  Also known as Plan B, the pill just delays ovulation, the egg’s release, but it doesn’t cause abortions. It works the morning after unprotected sex, not the morning after fertilization. Because sperm takes up to five days to fertilize an egg, emergency contraception allows time for the sperm to die off before an egg is released.
  3. Tax cuts help the economy. No they don’t! Maine governor Paul LePage just found that out—and he’s surprised. After the tax cuts didn’t grow the state’s economy, he slowed payments for bonds. That didn’t work so he claimed more tax cuts would solve the problem. Maine now faces its largest deficit in history and is considered the worst state in the nation for business.
  4. Alan Greenspan is gone. No, he isn’t. The Fed chair behind the great recession during George W. Bush’s terms, the man who ignored the $8 trillion housing bubble because he believed in the “integrity” of banks, may not have an official position in the government but he’s working with “Campaign to Fix the Debt.” This is the group of more than 80 CEOs that has raised over $60 million to lobby to reductions in corporate taxes made up for added costs to poor and elderly, including lessening Social Security payments.
  5. Republicans want to be bipartisan. No, they don’t. If they were, we would have increased the minimum wage to $10; that’s still $.40 under what $7.25 would be if indexed to inflation. We would have had transparency in campaign finance instead of the opaque wall that the Supreme Court created through Citizens United. We would have had a minimum tax on millionaires, a non-discrimination act in employment, a U.N. treaty to protect the equal rights of the disabled, and the Payment Fairness Act to ensure that men get the same pay as men.  

Beyond the myths are the stories that tell how peculiar far-right conservatives are. Possibly the oddest story of the year—and there’s a lot of competition—is the one about Dick Armey’s separation from FreedomWorks after being a co-founder of the ultra-conservative Tea Party group. At first, it appeared to be a difference of opinion with Matt Kibbe, the organization’s president. Freedomworks offered Armey $8 million to leave, and he walked. But the story become even more bizarre.

Washington Post reported that the day after Labor Day Armey went to the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide wearing a holstered gun. Army’s assistance took two top employees off the premises, and Armey suspended several others. The coup lasted six days before Armey was gone, and the ousted employees had returned, thanks to Illinois millionaire Richard J. Stephenson who offered to pay Armey $400,000 annually during the next 20 years if he would leave.

After Armey’s departure, Stephenson put over $12 million into two Tennessee corporations that then fed the money into FreedomWorks’ Super-PAC for a last-minute campaign push. A goodly sum, $1.7, was provided to Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Stephenson’s local congressman, in his disastrous campaign against Iraqi veteran winner Tammy Duckworth . Nobody’s talking, but two watchdog groups have asked the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department to investigate these donations.

Add to this, the bizarre story of Washington, D.C.’s police investigation of David Gregory after he help up two empty high-capacity magazines while questioning NRA’s Wayne LaPierre on Meet the Press two days before Christmas. Possession of the 30-round magazine is illegal in the city where the program was filmed. But the police did nothing about Armey’s armed security guard carrying a concealed weapon, also illegal in Washington, D.C.

Three federal judges in California, two appointed by Ronald Reagan and the other by George H.W. Bush, have ruled that only publishers have the right to determine the content of newspapers. The case started in 2006 when reporters gave the address of a lot that Rob Lowe, the publisher’s friend, wanted to develop. Lowe complained, and the publisher sent letters of reprimand to the reporter and three editors. The remaining employees joined the union, and the publisher fired them for this affiliation. Yes, wealthy people can purchase the control of the media in the United States.

This is something that should be closed down! A website called “Potential Prostitutes” allows anyone—anyone!—to post a woman’s photo, phone number, and location without her consent. Anyone wishing to be removed from the site must pay $99.95.

Another “blame the woman” judgment comes from Iowa’s all-male Supreme Court. After Dr. James Knight, an Iowa City dentist, fired his female assistant because she was “irresistibly attractive” and a threat to his marriage. Melissa Nelson, employed in Knight’s office for ten years, sued, and lost in what Knight’s lawyer called a home-run for family values. “These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don’t think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires,” Nelson’s attorney, Paige Fiedler, said. “If [the bosses] get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it.”  Nelson said, “I wore a long-sleeve or short-sleeve T-shirt and I wore scrubs.” She added that she’s “happily married.”

It’s just a few hours before midnight in Washington, D.C., the time when the 112th Congress can no longer address the fiscal issues of the country. Rumors fly about whether an agreement is close, whether the president is going to cave, whether there will be a disaster because of the stalemate.

“Tomorrow is another day,” as Scarlet O’Hara said at the end of Gone with the Wind 73 years ago. And tomorrow is the 113th Congress.

April 8, 2012

Freedom from Religion on Easter

Since the Republican conservatives have taken over the word “Christian,” even accusing President Obama of not being the “right kind” of Christian, the word has become increasingly loaded. Today is Easter, one of the two days that many Christians show up in their place of worship. The question is how they define themselves.

I live in the area of the Northwest near the city made famous by Portlandia. There are many things to appreciate about my adopted state, but last week a sign on a Portland church added one reason. “God Prefers Kind Atheists over Hateful Christians” claims the sign outside the Rose City United Methodist Church affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network, dedicated to including people of all sexual identities.

Pastor Tom Tate reports that positive comments about the sign have outnumbered the negative ones about 30-40 to one in an amazing reaction from people across the country. Even Glenn Beck’s poll on his conservative website, The Blaze,  shows a positive attitude toward the message with more than 69 percent of the respondents agreeing with Tate’s statement compared to the 22 percent who disagree.

This response is encouraging when we consider how many people want to deny that the Constitution ensures separation of church of state. The most frightening of the populace are those who believe that the First Amendment states that the U.S. government cannot control religion but religion can control government. This belief has resulted in a growing loss of rights because elected officials follow the pieces of the Bible that appeal to them, and they have done this since the Puritans came to the country wanting the opportunity to practice their religion. The first thing they did upon arrival was to block anyone else’s beliefs.

A classic example of religious bigotry is when Roger Williams, a Puritan minister, was banned from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. His greatest sin was the belief in separation of church and state, a sin so severe that he was forced to flee his home alone and on foot in the middle of a winter’s blizzard. After help from the Native Americans, Williams settled Providence (RI). Because the town’s compact said nothing about God, Massachusetts claimed jurisdiction over Rhode Island and seized the town of Warwick by force of arms after its soldiers marched through Providence.

In his negotiations with England to save Rhode Island, Williams pointed out the hypocrisy of the people in Massachusetts, that they had left England to escape having to conform and then fought to suppress anyone who disagreed. According to Williams, mixing church and state corrupts the church, that when one mixes religion and politics, one gets politics. After years of negotiation, the English Parliament granted Williams a charter to Rhode Island that authorized a democracy, a civil government unhampered by religion.

After the Revolutionary War, our country continued its religious bigotry. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith, was killed by a mob who considered him to be the devil. People in many parts of the country today still think of the Mormon Church as a cult. New York Gov. Even Rick Santorum insinuated that Mormonism was a cult in a 2007 speech.

Al Smith was accused of taking orders from the Pope instead of following his oath of office if he were elected to president in 1928 and lost in a landslide to Herbert Hoover.

Another Catholic, Rick Santorum, plays the evangelical card in pushing his religious beliefs whenever he speaks. Yet over one-third of evangelicals don’t know that he is Catholic. Even 42 percent of Catholics don’t know Santorum’s religion. Perhaps that’s why he keeps losing in the polls—plus only 10 percent of likely voters are evangelicals. They just make a lot more noise than the rest of us, trying to create a theocracy—a return to Puritan New England.

Despite the attempts to force religious belief on the people of the United States, the number of non-religious people has doubled during the past quarter century while the people with a strong belief in religion has dropped by 25 percent. In her surveys of young adults, Monica R. Miller, a post-graduate fellow at Lewis & Clark, has found a pushback against traditional language. “’Religion’ is bound by institutional context. For youth, religion is only done in institutions of faith, and for them, that’s a problem.”

The young people may be on the right track. Atheists have lower divorce rates than those who claim a religion. The least religious countries (such as the Scandinavian countries) often have the lowest levels of crime and corruption, the best educational systems, the strongest economies, free healthcare for all, and other indicators of concern for the common good.

Today, on Easter, may we find a resurgence in the hope that people in this country will be freed of religious tyranny, the dogma that is creating laws across the country. And may the evangelicals do some research on how this country was founded, both freedom of and freedom from religion for all.

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