Nel's New Day

August 9, 2017

Washington Subway Bans Constitution

Should a government entity be required to obey the U.S. Constitution? That’s the question raised by the ACLU after the tax-supported Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) refused its paid ad that quoted the First Amendment. WMATA claims that it restricts “controversial” advertising and turned down ads from Carafem, a healthcare network that provides access to birth control and medication abortion; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); and Milo Worldwide LLC, the corporate entity of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

To communicate support for Muslims (freedom of religion) and the media (freedom of the press), ACLU put up ads in Arabic, English, and Spanish that simply cited the First Amendment.

WMATA refused the ACLU because of its policy forbidding advertisements “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” or “intended to influence public policy.” The tax-aid transit accepts beer (no problem with alcoholism), mink coats, Coke-or-Pepsi jokes, etc.—no “varying opinions” there. The PETA ad showed a pig with the text, “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See the individual. Go Vegan.” WMATA has several ads asking their riders to eat animal-based food, wear clothing from animals parts, and attend circus performances. It did suggest that they might run the PETA ad with the removal of “Go Vegan.” To ACLU, WMATA stated, “You’ll have to dramatically change your creative.”

Ads for Milo Worldwide LLC were initially accepted. The author of Dangerous brands feminism a cancer, proposes that transgender people have psychological problems, and compares Black Lives activists to KKK. His ads showed Milo Yiannopoulos’ face, a suggestions that his new book be ordered, and one of four quotations from his reviews: “The most hated man on the Internet” (Nation); “The ultimate troll” (Fusion); “The Kanye West of Journalism” (Red Alert Politics); and “Internet Supervillain” (Out Magazine). In contrast to his writings and speeches, the ads didn’t appear to influence except for selling the book. The ads stayed for 10 days until WMATA got complaints.

These ads—including the First Amendment—were considered “controversial,” but those from gambling casinos, military contractors, and internet sex apps weren’t. PETA was rejected, but a restaurant dish “PORKADISE FOUND” was advertised. The same for a rejection of Yiannopoulos’ book while advertising movie ads of four women drooling over a male stripper.

ACLU’s lawsuit requests that the court declare parts of WMATA’s advertising guidelines unconstitutional because they violate free speech rights and are unconstitutionally vague. Although disagreeing with Yiannopoulos’ viewpoints, the organization also filed a motion on behalf of Milo Worldwide LLC for restitution of loss of revenue by the wrongful removal of advertisements for his book.

Arthur Spitzer, the legal director for the ACLU in Washington, stated:

 “The First Amendment protects the speech of everyone from discriminatory government censorship, whether you agree with the message or not.

For the better part of a century, the Supreme Court has wobbled back and forth on the exemption of “commercial speech” from the First Amendment. But to prevent the First Amendment as an advertisement? This is not freedom of speech!

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December 10, 2015

GOP Celebrates Xenophobia on Human Rights Day

Conservatives claim that members of a religious group are stockpiling weapons for a takeover of the United States and make them subjects of discrimination and violence, arson and protests. Muslims experience this persecution now, but Catholic Americans endured the same persecution a century ago when they lived in fear, many of them lynched. Formed by white supremacists after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan was declared a “terrorist organization” by 1870, but by the 1920s, the group persecuted Jews and Catholics.

The United States has a long history of xenophobia: anyone who isn’t white and Christian can be the subject of ethnic and religious discrimination.

Europeans began their xenophobic march across the United States in the 17th century when they began their elimination of the indigenous peoples. By the time they finished, they had eradicated 95 percent of the native population and deported survivors to the most undesirable land they could find. Most Native Americans were denied U.S. citizenship until 1924, but not until 1940 were all the indigenous peoples of the U.S. considered citizens. Not all “Indians” were permitted to vote until 1948.

Anti-Jewish sentiment has existed in the U.S. since the 17th century, peaking in the years between the two world wars. Restrictions in the 1700s included bans from practicing law, medicine, etc. States had religious tests for public office, and some states prevented Jews from voting until the late 1800s. During the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant issued an order—immediately rescinded by President Abraham Lincoln—that expelled Jews from the areas in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi under his control. During the first half of the 20th century, Jews were excluded from “white Christian” jobs, social clubs, resort areas, and colleges.

As people in the America expanded, they brought black immigrants—legally until 1808 and illegally thereafter—to be unpaid labor. Initially, most people believed that these violent, amoral savages could be reformed only through Christian belief, and many still hold the same position.

Irish immigrating to the U.S. in the mid-19th century were called “white Negroes” and stereotyped as alcoholics, depicted like apes to insinuate that they were an “inferior race.” They were Catholics, but Protestants labeled them as pagans—immoral and demonic.

The railroad across much of the United States was built by Chinese labor, but later the nation passed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to keep out these laborers. The law stated that Chinese immigration “endangers the good order of certain localities” and led to California’s tax on the hiring of Chinese-American laborers and Oregon’s Chinese Massacre of 1887 in which an angry white mob killed 31 Chinese Americans.

Italian-American immigrants were seen as members of the Mafia. New Orleans acquitted 19 immigrants in 1890 after the police chief was killed, but a white mob attacked and killed 11 of the freed men. World War II led to arrests, interments, and travel restrictions against thousands of law-abiding Italian Americans.

The Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924 was passed to limit immigration from “non-white” countries.

Early drug laws were based on xenophobic beliefs. During the early 20th century, San Francisco banned opium smoking because of its popularity within the Chinese community, and El Paso (TX) made marijuana illegal as an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants. Although restricted, other drugs such as heroin and cocaine have remained legal in the U.S.

California passed a law in 1913 to prevent Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Korean immigrant farmers from owning land. Directed toward Japanese Americans, the law was supported by two Supreme Court cases and wasn’t lifted until for almost 40 years in 1952. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a 1942 executive order interred at least 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, 62 percent of whom were U.S. citizens. Three Supreme Court cases upheld this order.

In Minoru Yasui v. U.S., Yasui fought a ruling that he was no longer a citizen because he had worked for the Japanese Consulate and learned the Japanese language. The Supreme Court case reinstated his citizenship, but Yasui was sent to an internment camp in Idaho. Gordon Hirabayashi was jailed for two years for missing curfew and failing to report to an internment camp. Fred Korematsu refused to go to an internment camp because he didn’t want to leave his Italian-American girlfriend. In his case the Supreme Court ruled that race did not factor into the internment of Japanese Americans.

Four decades later, legal historian Peter Irons found evidence that government officials had withheld documents from the Supreme Court stating that Japanese Americans posed no military threat to the U.S. In 1983, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Korematsu’s conviction, one year before Yasui’s conviction was overturned, and three years before Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned. In 1988, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act, apologizing for the internment and paying $20,000 to each internment survivor. That act was 44 years after the Supreme Court struck down Jim Crow laws in the South, ruling that the policy of “separate but equal” violated the Constitution.

Although German Americans comprise the largest identified ethnic group in the United States today, the two world wars brought out xenophobia with state laws against speaking German and the indefinite detention of 11,000 German Americans by executive order without trials or due process protections.

The 21st century has seen the targeting of Latinos by police who racially profile, harass, and brutalize Hispanics because of the growing fear of undocumented immigrants. In Maricopa County (AZ), for example, Latino drivers are stopped from four to nine times more than other drivers and detained for longer periods of time. County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, also consistently failed to investigate cases of sexual assault against Hispanic women.

Korematsu v. United States (1944) ruled that individual rights are not absolute and may be suppressed at will during wartime. The conservatives have created a permanent war for the United States, and, by so doing, destroying human rights. Xenophobia: Fear or prejudice against people, culture, ideologies, etc. from foreign lands. That’s the legacy of the United States; Donald Trump is building on that legacy with the support of Republicans who either outright support his xenophobic statements or say that they will support him for the GOP presidential candidate.

The Frankenstein party has been developing its monster of xenophobic members for decades as it developed their “Southern Strategy.” Until now, they have used coded language to appeal to their increasingly angry base, but Donald Trump discovered that he doesn’t need to use code in spewing his hate.

For decades, the GOP has played on the fear and anxiety of its white, evangelical, working-class base. Republicans shipped jobs overseas and made sure that wages stagnated before they decried the loss of the American Dream. The GOP succeeds by turning people against each other instead of fighting the real enemy—the profiteers of the top 1 percent. Only through a system of “divide and conquer” of racism, sexism, homophobia, class-prejudice, and xenophobia can the corporations and wealthy maintain their power.

The Koch brothers, along with other wealthy people, understand the success of fear. The tragedy of 9/11 by 19 people—15 of them from Saudi Arabia—started a war on the Muslims in the U.S., part of its culture since the 17th century. An important component of this war is the distribution of 28 million anti-Muslim CDs, costing over $15 million—funded by a shadow group funded by the Koch brothers.

The media promotes the fear of a Muslim terrorist-inspired mass shooting. This visual of this year’s mass shootings demonstrates how lacking in credibility this fear is.

mass shooting

The Christian-inspired killing of three people at a Planned Parenthood two weeks before the San Bernardino shooting has largely disappeared from the media, not because fewer people were killed but because it was not by a Muslim.

Frankenstein’s monster is now calling for ethnic cleansing—“the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another.” The conservatives started targeting Latinos as aliens, rapists, and criminals and then moved on to describe all members of the largest religion in the world as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.

It’s like working for a large corporation. People who don’t fit into companies are likely to be isolated or fired so people can’t speak out against bullying and sexism. The answer to any resisters is that these are exceptional times and people will be forced to do extraordinary things to be safe.

The question is how far the GOP will let Trump go. He has started threatening to leave them if they aren’t “nice” to him. They need to hang on until he can no longer qualify as an independent candidate in many states. Meantime, the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are increasing in number and openly praising Trump.

William Daniel Johnson, chairman of the white supremacy group the American Freedom Party, called Trump “the real deal.” He claims that “virtually all pro-white nationalists are at least somewhat supportive of Donald Trump and most are even enthusiastic. …European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view.” The term “European Americans” is code for “white Christianity.” Trump is delivering the message of xenophobia to millions of people in the U.S., and other GOP politicians are supporting him.

Today is International Human Rights Day; its them is “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” Today Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), GOP presidential candidate, voted with three other Republicans—Jim Sessions (AL), Thom Tillis (NC), and David Vitter (LA) against a proposal that would oppose using religious beliefs to deny people entry into the United States. Cruz’s vote is stronger than Trump’s rhetoric, but only Trump receives public disgust. Trump is not worse than the other candidates: he’s just noisier.

September 21, 2014

Conservatives Continue To Fight Freedom of Religion

Air Force enlistees and commissioned members will no longer be forced to swear “So help me God” in their oath, after a review of the policy by the Department of Defense, possibly because someone read the Constitution:

“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The revised policy has greatly disappointed religious right members. Bryan Fischer had already praised the oath that included his God, stating that “a man who doesn’t believe in the Creator … most certainly should not wear the uniform.” In this manner, Fischer dismisses the value of soldiers such as Pat Tillman, an open atheist who lost his life after he left his professional football career to fight al-Qaeda.

Televangelist Pat Robertson claims that it’s “crazy” to remove the requirement. He blames “a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it, and he has just terrorized the armed forces.” Robertson went on to describe Weinstein as “one little Jewish radical.” Weinstein is the President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Robertson has also added to the blessings of Jesus on the poor and hungry in his Sermon on the Mount. The televangelist added, “Blessed are the fully armed because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

There’s more information about the 14-year-old boy who could go to prison for two years because he posted a photograph of himself simulating oral sex on a statue of Jesus. DA Bill Higgins of Bedford County (PA) called him a “troubled young man” and used a law from 1972 for punishment higher than simple vandalism. “Troubled” might also refer to Higgins: he admitted to having an extramarital affair in his office with a woman who sued him for sexual harassment but was then “convinced” to drop the charges. In addition, he seems to be fan of pornography. The ACLU is looking into the boy’s case.

The Mars Hill (Seattle) is megachurch no longer led by Mark Driscoll; he’s taking a leave of absence after it was revealed that he considers men to be God’s “tool” and women the shelter for the “tool.” In 2001, under the name William Wallace II, Driscoll wrote:

“Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

“Therefore, if you are single you must remember that your penis is homeless and needs a home. But, though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not… And, if you look at a man it is quite obvious that what a homeless man does not need is another man without a home.”

More recently Driscoll said that women need to serve their husbands with oral sex, he would not have married his wife if he knew she was a victim of sexual abuse, and masturbation is homosexuality unless the man’s wife is watching him. He also accused a parishioner of having “sexual demons” and asked her, in front of her husband, “which one of my husband’s friends I had imagined sleeping with.” Forty percent of the Mars Hill staff has been laid off, and the executive elder has resigned.

Continuing its support for separation of church and state, the Satanic Temple announced its plans to provide its own materials to public school students in Orange County (FL). The action would be a response to a Christian group’s distribution of Bibles to students. In its decision for evangelical groups showing Christian films on school property in Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that  “the First Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others.” Unlike many Christians, the Satanic Temple does not believe the devil to be real and “advocates for religious tolerance and pluralism.”

raelian symbolEarlier an atheist group sued the school district’s refusal to leave its pamphlets after the distribution of Bibles. The district dropped the case, allowing the pamphlets in the school.  Joining the Satanic Temple are the Raelians, a UFO cult that claimed in 2002 that they had cloned a human baby. As Rael said, “Religious freedom is either for everybody or it doesn’t exist,” Rael declared in his statement. Raelian Guide Ricky Roehr, head of the group’s North American branch, said, “Children should … be exposed to a variety of spiritual beliefs and philosophies, and to experience them as well if they wish. That way, they can make their own choice when they reach adulthood, without the pressure of their parents or their social environment.”

The bombs spread across the country from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in support of Hobby Lobby’s religion have started to explode.  U.S. District Court Judge David Sam ruled that because of Vergel Steed’s religious belief, the member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) can avoid naming church leaders who took children out of school and sent them to harvest pecans in violation of child labor laws. Government officials have also been investigating FLDS for several years because of their forced marriage between underage girls and adults males. Warren Jeff, FLDS’ former president, is in prison for life because of several sex crimes including incest and pedophilia.

Meanwhile Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green is moving forward with his $800 million, eight-story Bible museum in Washington, D.C. His only concern is that he wants it closer than two blocks from the National Mall. To a retailer, location is all.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has defined faith as “belief without proof.” Bryan Fischer now has the proof (scientific evidence?) that the United States is meant to be a theocracy and not a secular country. In one word, bacon. He told his radio audience:

“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation? One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.”

In his follow-up article, “The Blessings of Bacon,” he complains about attacks from the God-hating left and libertarian right. No mention of the idea that a secular society would also sell bacon. That’s because selling bacon is in the Bible: Mark 7:19 says of Jesus, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” Leviticus 18 bans bacon, which bothers Fischer not one whit although he uses Leviticus to blast his hatred against same-sex relationships.

According to Fischer’s rationale, China must be a very Christian nation. Each person in that country eats 39 kilograms of pork a year, about 45 percent more than people do in the United States. Actually, fewer than 4 percent of people in China are Christians. Of those believing in religion, about 12 percent are Christians whereas 66.1 percent are Buddhists, Taoists or worshippers of legendary figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune. Fischer is the Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association which annually receives $20 million in donations.

Fischer has other pronouncements. Although scientists have support for the threat of a sea-level rise, he denies any problem. Climate change is causing the rise of temperatures which are melting ice caps and glaciers at a rapidly growing rate. Increase in water from decrease in ice causes higher sea levels that are putting thousands of miles of coastline underwater. Rainbows remind God to not flood the planet, according to Fischer, because he read it in Genesis 9. God might not flood the planet, but humans are certainly doing this. By the way, rainbows are both a reflection and refraction of light in water droplets. That’s science, not faith.

The Catholic church is expressing an ambivalent attitude toward same-sex marriage. It refuses to recognize marriage equality, but it demands that a gay couple, together for over 30 years and legally married in Washington state, must be legally divorced before they can receive communion. Rev. Samuel Spiering served four days as administrator of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown (MT) four days before he issued his directive to the couple. The next day he dismissed them from their volunteer posts in the church.Two weeks later, the couple agreed to write a restoration statement supporting the church’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, but they refuse to get a legal divorce. About 50 percent of the parishioners support the gay couple.

Christians should celebrate the actions of 13-year-old Kyle Bradford (Weaverville, CA) who gave his lunch to a friend assigned to the cheese sandwich for “non-paying” children. “It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it,” Bradford said.  Kyle got detention. And we wonder why we have problems in the United States.

December 15, 2013

Fundamentalist Christians Go Too Far

Fundamentalist Christians have taken great umbrage regarding the proposed memorial that the Satanic Temple plans to put on the grounds of the Oklahoma statehouse (last Sunday’s blog). Not a great surprise! Bryan Fischer has used at least two segments on his radio show to explain that freedom of religion in the U.S. Constitution means only freedom of Christianity. No other religion need apply. Therefore Oklahoma can legally reject any non-Christian memorial:

“Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we’re not going to have that monument. If we don’t understand the word ‘religion’ to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains.”

Fischer joins the religious lawmakers in Oklahoma who claim that they can reject the Satanic memorial because they live in a faith-based state. Again, their faith is almost certainly Christian.

Another religious memorial may be removed from federal land after a 24-year-old case. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered that a 43-foot cross on Mount Soledad in San Diego be taken down within 90 days. The ruling, however, would be put on hold if it is appealed. Two years ago the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross violated the constitutional separation of church and state. The Supreme Court declined review, and the case went back to Burns to consider possible alternatives.

Charles LiMandri, an attorney for the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, said Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has signaled that the group backing the cross could return directly to the nation’s high court if it disapproved of Burns’ ruling. “Unless the U.S. Supreme Court denies review or takes it and finds it unconstitutional, that cross isn’t going anywhere,” LiMandri said. “At that point, we’ll go to Congress. We’re not giving up.”

ACLU represented the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents to challenge display of the cross. Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said, “We should honor all of our heroes under one flag, not just one particular religious symbol.”

Ohio wants to put pictures of Jesus back into public schools with its proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Rep. Tim Derickson says he plans to block further encroachment on expression of religious freedom such as prohibition of prayer in schools and public places, zoning issues for churches, and public expression of religious faith, such as wearing crosses and displaying Nativity scenes.

Patrick Elliott of Freedom from Religion explained, “The proposal creates special exemptions from state laws for those who claim any religious burden.” Anyone could complain about a mythical burden.

Seventeen other states already have such a law on their books. In DC, firefighters claimed they wore beards for religious expression, and two Chicago churches used the law to oppose land acquisition for an airport runway expansion. Ohio’s proposed law is similar to a 1993 federal religious freedom act that restored a “strict scrutiny” standard in religious freedom cases after the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the scrutiny standard in a 1990 ruling.

religious cohabitation

Meri Brown, Christine Brown, Janelle Brown, Kody Brown and Robyn Sullivan of TLC’s The Sister Wives may now legally live together in Utah thanks to a court ruling. U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups struck down the state law preventing cohabitation between a married person and another person not his or her spouse. Although Clark didn’t use the word “polygamy,” he did refer to “religious cohabitation.”

According to the judge, Utah’s law violated the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment because the point of that provision in the statute is “to infringe upon or restrict” people practicing religious cohabitation “because of their religious motivation.” He used the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas that struck down sodomy laws when he noted, “Consensual sexual privacy is the touchstone of the rational basis review analysis in this case, as in Lawrence.”

Another change in Utah last week came from the Mormon leadership. Thirty-five years after the Mormon Church allowed black males to become priests in their church, they decided that brown skin is no longer a punishment of God.  In the Book of Mormon, dark skin is a sign of God’s curse because of the conflict of the two lost tribes of Israel who came to the New World.

The verses about the curse were to explain the dark skin of Native Americans. The blackness of Africans came from the stain of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. In 1960, Church apostle Spencer W. Kimball was delighted that Native Americans who converted to Mormonism were gradually becoming lighter skinned.

Friday’s document removing the stigma of dark skin in the Mormon religion blamed the nation’s prejudicial attitudes in 1830 when the religion was created. It didn’t explain why the discrimination stayed 150 years after the slaves were freed.

People lamenting the ignorance of children in the United States need look no farther than Christian education. Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a fundamentalist curriculum founded in Texas in 1970, is commonly used with conservative home schoolers and in private Christian schools and government-funded voucher programs around the world. Jonny Scaramanga wrote:

“I went to an ACE school for almost four years. By the time I left, I was certain that it was against God’s will for governments to provide healthcare, evolution was a conspiracy to destroy Christianity, parents were morally required to spank their children, and science could prove that homosexuality was wrong. But worst of all was the feeling uneducated; I still struggle with self-conscious fears about gaps in my learning. ACE workbooks consist of simplistic fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions. And these questions are often hilariously, spectacularly bad.”

The article lists 33 of these questions. Here are a few:

wiscom: The pastor spoke with great wisdom.

 

  •  Wisdom means (a) a test  (b) Godly thinking  (c) tasty milk
  •  (Sports coaches, Piano tutors, Librarians) can touch the lives of their students. [Scaramanga explained that “piano tutors” is the right answer because that sentence had appeared earlier in the material and students were supposed to remember the sentence.] 
  •  The word alphabet comes from the Greek Letters ____________  and _____________.  Alpha and Iota    Beta and Gamma  Alpha and Beta   [Question for ages 15-16]

 

If you want to shake your head, go to the article for another 30 of these questions.

While ignorance grows among fundamentalist Christians, so does sex abuse. Christa Brown of Stop Baptist Predators is now asking for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission like the South African group that put apartheid behind them. Veteran religion reporter Peter Smith of the Louisville Courier-Journal has also noted the attempts at accountability and reform moving through the Southern Baptist society after the lawsuit against C.J. Mahaney, leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Boz Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse, said that evangelicals are worse than Catholics and that too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims. Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.

Georgia pastor Peter Lumpkins sponsored a resolution at this year’s Southern Baptist annual meeting urging urging denominational leaders “to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse.” His reference was to the way that SBC was ignoring their own resolution calling for “a zero-tolerance policy toward the sexual abuse of children in churches.”

Ken Starr, ruler of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial after his affair with a consenting adult named Monica Lewinsky, may have to take a few lumps because he thinks Christopher Kloman, a teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing several female students should not have to do time.  Starr is President and Chancellor of Baylor University in Waco (TX)–the largest Baptist university in the world.  Christa Brown wrote: “Why should parents of high-school students feel any trust in sending their kids off to a university whose president writes a letter urging leniency for a man who molested teens?”

A huge travesty of the sex abuse crisis is that mainstream media fails to report it, instead choosing to protect the fundamentalist Christians. Perhaps, however, embarrassed religious leaders and bigots have reached the tipping point.

February 16, 2012

Hypocrisy of Catholic Politicians

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Catholic leaders oppose birth control on religious grounds and claim that President Obama has declared a “war on religion” by forcing them to participate in this. Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are Catholics and carry the banner for the Catholic bishops who want to control women’s reproductive rights. Foster Friess, the main donor to the Super PAC backing Rick Santorum’s presidential bid, describes the candidate’s approach toward birth control: “On this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they used Baer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Determined to castigate President Obama for giving free birth control to women, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called a hearing this morning to investigate the Obama administration’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Who testified? The first panel of witnesses was composed of male religious leaders opposing the rule. Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but Issa refused because the hearing wasn’t about reproductive rights and contraception but instead how the administration’s actions relate to freedom of religion and conscience. He also refused to allow the testimony of a female college student because she lacks “the appropriate credentials” to testify before his committee. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision.

Yet conservative and Catholic politicians fail to follow the Catholic Church policies in many important ways.

Preventive war: The U.S. Conference of Bishops and the Pope have denounced “preventive war,” which George W. Bush started with his attacks on Iraq and Republican presidential candidates, except Ron Paul, want to continue with an attack despite no real and present threat of an Iranian assault on the U.S. In opposition to the Catholic policy, the hawkish Santorum wants to ride the rocket down on Isfahan himself.

Israeli withdrawal: Catholic bishops demand that Israelis leave the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967; Rick Santorum denies that Palestinians exist.

Immigrant persecution: After Arizona passed its restrictive laws regarding immigrants, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops tore into the state’s position, and Cardinal Roger Mahony characterized Arizona’s S.B. 1070 as “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law,” saying it is based on “totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources.” Santorum, however, is a believer of “anchor babies” and opposes any services to children of illegal immigrants despite the fact that these children are legal citizens according to the Constitution.

The bishops also hold the position that illegal immigrants should not be treated as criminals and that their contribution to this country be recognized. In fact, many Catholic priests provide sanctuary for these people. Santorum wants them all out of the nation.

Health care for all: The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans, but Santorum opposes universal health care.

Executions: Santorum largely supports executions while the Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in most situations.

Minimum wage: Santorum has always voted against the minimum wages, but the U.S. Conference of Bishops urges an increase of the federal minimum wage for the working poor.

Welfare: The bishops also support welfare for all needy families, saying, “We reiterate our call for a minimum national welfare benefit that will permit children and their parents to live in dignity. A decent society will not balance its budget on the backs of poor children.” Santorum is a vocal opponent of welfare.

Union support: While the U.S. bishops declare that “the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions…,” Santorum has reversed his support of unions in the 1990s has turned to opposing them, starting with eliminating all public employee unions.

Conservatives do not truly believe in freedom of religion over law; they believe in Christian control of the country over all other religions and secular beliefs. This is proved by the proliferating laws against Sharia law at the same time that conservatives fight birth control, same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights, abortion, and the teaching of creationism and climate change because of  “Christian” law. Religion is the same argument preventing interracial marriage until the Supreme Court declared that one class could not be discriminated against—despite Christian beliefs.

All the candidates have made some of the following statements: No religion but Christianity will suffice. U.S. law should follow God’s law. Anything that’s immoral by religious standards should be outlawed. Courts that get in the way should be abolished. Freedom means obeying morality. In their war on women—in fact, all people—all four of the candidates oppose insurance covering birth control, breast cancer screening, coverage for maternity and newborn care, women under 26 on their parents’ insurance, and screening for diabetes. All four candidatesfavor continuing higher insurance costs for women than for men.

Under a theocracy, people in the United States will lose the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. On the other hand, with the Catholics running things, there might not be preventive wars, executions, and persecution of immigrants. People could receive welfare, if necessary, and universal health care. All workers could freely belong to unions, and the minimum wage might be increased. And the Palestinians could return to the land that they had before 1967. If only Catholic candidates actually listened to everything that their church preaches rather than just picking the political hot spots!

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