Nel's New Day

April 7, 2013

Religious Views in Red States

With DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) possibly disappearing over the western horizon, is there the chance that DORA will appear in the east? North Carolina is the first state that considered a try for an “official state religion,” and conservative legislators in Congress might be unconstitutional enough to attempt a “defense of religion act” for the entire country. Although the GOP House speaker in North Carolina has killed the legislation, it doesn’t mean such a law is dead across the nation.

The original argument is that  the constitutional prohibition in making laws to establish a religion fits only the United States, not individual states. Other states may try for it next.

House Joint Resolution 494, the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013, stated that North Carolina “does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” GOP state Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford introduced the bill after the ACLU sued Rowan County to stop them from opening public meetings with a Christian prayer. Their argument was that the Constitution only protects separation of church and state federally, not in individual states.

Right now, this bill and any similar one could not go into effect, based on the U.S. Supreme Court case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. The law advances one religion, in this case Christianity, as a primary goal. But some legislators thought they had a way around the “Lemon Test.”

Using nullification, lawmakers think they can disregard or subvert federal law and court rulings, and they’ve been getting away with their approach as shown by the proliferation of anti-abortion laws, including “personhood” that violates Roe v. Wade. In Mississippi, legislators have filed a bill creating a state committee to determine which federal laws the state will obey and which ones they will ignore. Lawmakers claim that they have that power because of state sovereignty.

In another Sunday story from the South, evangelical Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, has been known for banning alcohol, dancing, kissing, women wearing skirts “shorter than the top of the knee,” R-rated movies, music not “in harmony with God’s word,” and a Democratic Party group. The school will, however, allow loaded guns everywhere on campus including in classrooms. Jerry Falwell, Jr. is proud “that Liberty is a little more open than some schools.”

Also from the Rachel Maddow blog, Morality in Media is calling Attorney General Eric Holder the nation’s top “pornography facilitator” for not using law-enforcement resources to crack down on pornography. Pat Robertson has also decreed that ignorance is necessary for miracles: that’s why  “people raised from the dead, blind eyes open, lame people walking” seem to “happen with great frequency in Africa.”

Those who follow Robertson, famous for his televangelism program The 700 Club airing on his own Christian Broadcasting Network, shouldn’t be surprised at some of his recent statements:

Men with “rebellious” wives should live where wife-beating is legal. “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done” about wives who fail to “understand authority.” Robertson recommended moving to Saudi Arabia where a husband can legally batter a wife.

Secondhand clothes have demons that must be cast out before the previous owner’s evil infects the purchaser. Because witches may have cursed these clothes, praying over them is a good precautionary measure. “Hey, it ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”

Women’s newfound discovery in sex and eroticism is amazing.  “The thing that shocks me. We always thought this was a male thing. But now it looks like 30% of women are involved in pornography.” He was referring to Fifty Shades of Gray and was surprised that the author doesn’t look like a “glamour queen.”

People should beware of “scamsters in religious garb quoting the Bible.” This came from the man who requested that people who cannot afford to pay their bills continue to send him money. “There is no way you can out give God. You can’t do it. It’s just $20 a month. And if all of us do it together, it gets to be millions and millions and millions of dollars!” And that’s why Robertson is wealthy—millions and millions and millions of dollars.

The government will soon round up Americans for unknown reasons. “Long trains full of armored vehicles, personnel carriers with armor, what are they for, the army going into battle against the enemy? They’re used by Homeland Security against us.” This conspiracy theory has been making the rounds back into the last century. 

Abortion is a lesbian conspiracy. Lesbians have a “deficiency” of not having babies, and therefore, “If these married women don’t have children, if they abort their babies, that puts them on a level playing field.” Robertson missed the studies showing that unwanted childbearing is strongly associated with poverty and stress.

Atheists want to steal Christmas to make Christians miserable. “Atheists don’t like our happiness, they don’t want you to be happy, they want you to be miserable. They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable.”

The earthquake punished Haitians for overthrowing slavery in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries.

“…something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, uh you know Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story. And so the Devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island is Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.”

Divorce is wrong unless the woman gets sick. For a man whose wife’s senility is making him lonely, Robertson said, “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again. But to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.”

Robertson may seem fairly moderate compared to Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe (AZ). Part of his ministrations includes his rant about how women shouldn’t have sex, publicly speak, read books of their own choosing, dress how they want, and look at/think about/acknowledge any men apart from their husbands who they must always, always obey.

Regarding the marriage equality debate in the Supreme Court at the same time as North Korea’s war threat, Southern Baptist Convention leader Fred Luter asked on a Christian talk show, TruNews with Rick Wiles, “Could the two be connected?”

Also Dave Agema, Michigan RNC chair, claims, in addition to other disgusting lies, that LGBT people account for a high number of murders in cities. The new kinder, gentler GOP is not calling for his resignation. Agema has support from Michael Reagan, the former president’s son, who said that marriage equality will lead to legalizing murder.

Yesterday, I wrote about the massive differences between red and blue states. Obviously this runs to conservative religious beliefs which, ironically, also correlate with high use of prescription drugs. A study released earlier this year shows that Mississippi is still the most religious state in the nation, closely followed by other southern states—Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma—and then Utah.  These states also have the highest use of anti-depressants topped by Utah where residents are twice as likely to be on these medications as the average U.S. population. Of the top ten religious states, nine have higher than average use of anti-depressants.

Of the ten most religious states in the nation, six are also on the list of top-ten most medicated states. Dr. Jane Barlow, vice president of medical strategy and clinical quality for Medco Health Solutions, said that the rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes are higher in these states than the national average, particularly West Virginia. “The growth in prescription drug use [is driven in part by] chronic diseases that are largely preventable and are linked to lifestyle and physical activity.”

Once again, states with the highest level of mental and physical health issues want to drag the United States down to their level.

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