Nel's New Day

October 31, 2013

It’s Halloween–Be Afraid

Halloween came early this year with television showing scary movies for at least three weeks, and the Internet showing a fascination for bizarre costumes. The Catholic Church is reminiscing about exorcisms, and evangelicals oppose Halloween because it represents demons.

The basis of Halloween in 21st-century culture is fear, and evangelical Christians don’t need the television movies to be afraid. Leaders use far-fetched stories to foment this fear among the followers as a method of control. In that way, people vote against their own best interests. That’s why we hear about the conspiracy theory of fluoridated drinking water and brainwashing in public schools.

YouTube is a popular place for all sorts of horror tales such as Sharia law taking over the country. That’s why conservative legislators keep trying to pass laws preventing Islamic law in the United States while they pass oppressive Christian laws. Browsing the Internet, however, reveals new—to me—conspiracy theories, for example the “FEMA camps.

Supposedly the Federal Emergency Management Agency is building “concentration camps.” One visual purporting to be a camp in Wyoming is actually a North Korean detention center with changed headers, photo dates, and annotations. Another so-called camp Camp Grayling, a large National Guard training center in Michigan. The Beech Grove Amtrak facility for repairing railcars filmed 15 years ago is another footage that the wingnuts have used to prove these “camps.”

I had also missed the lizard people who are running the world. It appears that 12 million people believe that certain powerful people, such as George W. Bush and the British royals, are actually part of an alien race of shape-shifting lizard-people. That comes straight from onetime BBC reporter David Icke. Princess Diana confirmed this to one of her close friends, but, of course, she is no longer alive to tell us about it.

Most of the extremist conspiracy theories pass through Glenn Beck’s program, who created his version of Agenda 21, the purported plot to collectivize private property through the benign policy of “encouraging sustainability.” Beck expanded articles in his magazine, The Blaze, from early 2012 into a dystopian science fiction novel that exposes “the global scheme that has the potential to wipe out freedoms of all U.S. citizens.” Stanley Kurtz, another extremist, published an article in the National Review claiming that President Obama “intends to abolish” the suburbs and basing his argument on demographic shifts analyzed by Joel Kotkin.

Maybe the most far-fetched story—and that’s hard to do!—is the fear of the Illuminati. The super-secret society surfaced in Bavaria during the 18th century as an off-shoot of the Free Masons. Then, as now, people believe that the Illuminati are working for world domination through its penetration of governments, finance, science, business, and the entertainment industry. John 1 in the Bible discusses the coming of the Antichrist, who many people think is President Obama. Those fearful of the Illuminati have websites with mysterious symbols such as pyramids on paper money, Washington monuments, and other public places with the belief that knowing about these symbols remove their powers.

Far-right extremist objections to organizations such as the United Nations, European Union, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G-20 Economic Group, the World Court, NATO, Council on Foreign Relations, World Council of Churches and various multinational corporations may have come from fear of the Illuminati. Ironically, there are far-right religious sects that believe in “dominionism” in their attempt to take over the religions of the world.

Illuminati conspiracy theories combine the best and worst of all others as they feature everything from demons to aliens. Clones, lost prophecies, invisible RFID chips, secret societies—all these appear in Illuminati stories. Your best video might be here, but Mak Jagger has put together more for your fearful delight.

Why do people believe in these conspiracies? Psychologists who explored the question defined a conspiracy theory as “a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal” that is “notoriously resistant to falsification … with new layers of conspiracy being added to rationalize each new piece of disconfirming evidence.”

Once you believe that “one massive, sinister conspiracy could be successfully executed in near-perfect secrecy, [it] suggests that many such plots are possible.” People who believe in one conspiracy find these to be “the default explanation for any given event—a unitary, closed-off worldview in which beliefs come together in a mutually supportive network known as a monological belief system.” Like potato chips, people can eat just one.

The same people who believe in many conspiracy theories also think authorities are fundamentally deceptive. Their distrust is so strong that they prefer alternative theories. The only requirement for believers is that officials disagree with them. As Alex Jones proclaimed in Conspiracy Rising: “No one is safe, do you understand that? Pure evil is running wild everywhere at the highest levels.”

Polling shows an amazing number of voters believe in these conspiracy theories:

  • 28 percent believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda are conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or a New World Order.
  • 13 percent think that President Obama is the Antichrist.
  • 37 percent think global warming is a hoax.
  • 28 percent of voters think Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.

And these people pick the lawmakers who run our country! Now I’m afraid.

June 19, 2013

GOP Protests Immigrants, Filibuster Control

The House GOP passed its ridiculously restrictively anti-abortion bill yesterday, re-alienating women. Now they’re moving on to reject Hispanics with bigoted their stand against immigrants. GOP Congressmen have worked hard to tell anyone that letting minorities into the United States is counterproductive because most of them will vote Democrat, especially those from Latin America.

Tea Party representatives have put House Speaker John Boehner between the proverbial rock and a hard place by demanding that he not allow any immigration reform bill on the House floor unless a majority of Republicans is willing to vote for it—meaning that he must reject all bills that the Tea Party opposes. Unless he doesn’t. When he was asked yesterday if a bill would require majority GOP support to get to the House floor, he said, “We’ll see when we get  there.”

Immediately after the 2012 election, when the GOP was pursuing ideas to move their voting base beyond white men, Boehner said that he and President Obama could find common ground to immigration reform because “a comprehensive approach is long overdue.” Fast forward seven months, and he said that the idea that he is “pushing a comprehensive immigration bill” is “just not true.”

Media have spent a great deal of time trying to determine exactly what Weathervane Boehner means when he says, “I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans.” One side says he’s bluffing; the other side claims that he will join the GOP in killing immigration reform.

The GOP business community wants the reform bill to pass, not only to get cheap labor but also to win the 2016 presidential election. Yet the party base is dead set against immigration reform. Most likely most of the GOP legislators are bad-mouthing the bill in public while demanding in private that it be brought to the floor. Boehner may think that his language gave him wiggle room, but his base won’t agree. The question for Boehner is how much he is willing to endanger his position as Speaker of the House.

Today the far-right members of the House made themselves very clear in their rejection of immigration reform through a day-long press conference, organized by Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX). Scheduled for the west side of the Capitol, the group was joined by Tea Partiers who were there to protest the IRS. In addition to the usual far-right suspects from Congress, Glenn Beck, who had decided that he should stop trying to divide the country and then developed paralyzed vocal chords, returned with his toxic rhetoric.

Yesterday he used his television show to draw a comparison between the immigration reform advocates peacefully protesting outside the home of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the Ku Klux Klan. “The left is set up on revenge,” Beck said, comparing the demonstrators to Greece’s Golden Dawn party, a neo-Nazi group with ties to anti-immigrant hate crimes. Kobach was not home during the protest, as the Sunflower Community Action knew, but he threatened to shoot them if necessary. One of Kobach’s achievements is writing Arizona SB 1070, an anti-immigrant law that drove thousands of people out of the state in fear.

King’s six-hour anti-immigration reform press conference/rally today opposed “amnesty” for “illegal aliens,” Sharia law, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). A sizeable group of the conservatives booed Rubio’s name and carried anti-Rubio signs including “Marco Early Advocate of Muslim Brotherhood Takeover. Obamas [sic] Idiot.” Once in favor of the immigration reform bill, Weathervane Rubio opposed it and then appeared on ABC’s This Week last Sunday to say that “95, 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go.”

Rubio is one of the many GOP presidential wannabes of 2016. Meanwhile Allen West, former representative from Florida, has said that he’s considering a run against Rubio, if God sets his feet on that path. In addition to being virulently anti-government, West has shown himself to be sexist, anti-Muslim, pro-corporation—the list continues.

King has compared immigrants to dogs and livestock. For years he has tried to “clarify” the 14th Amendment that provides U.S. citizenship for anyone born in the country. In 2010, he said, “The framers did not consider the babies of illegals when they framed the 14th amendment because we didn’t have immigration law at the time, so they could not have wanted to confer automatic citizenship on the babies of people who were unlawfully in the United States.”

When DREAMers came to his office to advocate for immigration reform after the House voted to deport them, King tweeted:

20 brazen self professed illegal aliens have just invaded my DC office. Obama’s lawless order gives them de facto immunity from U.S. law.

#Gof8 You promise border security. How, when we can’t secure Congress from Obama amnesty? Schumer, McCain, come guard my door.

Here are the fearsome 20. King would never survive a high school classroom.

king aliens

While part of the GOP Congressional caucus stands on the Capitol steps to alienate Hispanics, House Republicans are planning a series of meetings with Hispanic-Americans in the nation’s capital as part of a GOP effort to woo minority voters. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the one woman allowed to be on the House leadership team, is planning four meetup sessions between Hispanic-Americans and GOP lawmakers at the Capitol Building this summer, starting today. Wonder how that went with the anti-immigration talk outside.

The situation in the Senate is growing so dire that even Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is finally considering the so-called “nuclear option,” ending filibusters of administration nominees in the upper chamber, after years of opposing the loss of the filibuster. If this were to happen, judicial nominees and Senate-confirmed administration positions, including the presidential cabinet, could be approved with a simple majority rule. To employ this option, he would need almost unanimous support of the chamber’s Democrats, which he most likely can’t get, starting with the retiring Carl Levin (D-MI).

GOP senators are coming unglued about the possibility of returning Senate procedures to a few decades ago before they mandated 60 percent of the vote on even the simplest action. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has threatened Reid if he were to follow through with his plans. If the GOP were to take over the Senate, Alexander said that the GOP agenda would repeal Obamacare, convert all federal education funding into school vouchers and scholarships, open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, and repeal the estate tax.

This threat is the most hollow of any I’ve heard in a long time. The minute that the GOP gets a Senate majority, this is exactly what they will do—and far worse!

May 26, 2013

Tornadoes, Atheism, Bigotry, Tolerance Plus the Supreme Court

Religion during the past week has presented a mixed bag of news. Pat Robertson seems to be mellowing. Three years ago, he told his viewers on the 700 Club that tornadoes are a sign of the End Times, and he traditionally blames LGBT people for any disaster. This week, however, he just asked the victims, “Why did you build houses where tornadoes were apt to happen?” He did move on to theology: “If enough people were praying, He would’ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms.”  So it’s the victims’ fault. 

Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka (KS) did stick to his hate script by blaming gay Jason Collins for the tornadoes. His website inadvertently helped tornado victims, however. Anonymous hacked WBC website, GodHatesOklahoma.org, and automatically directed viewers to a Red Cross donation site. People gave over $8,000 before the website was taken down.

Wolf Blitzer, too, struggled with theology surrounding the recent Oklahoma tornadoes. On live television, Blitzer referred to the survival as “blessed” three times before he asked, “You’ve gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?”

Holding her 18-month-son, Rebecca Vitsmun politely replied, “I’m actually an atheist.”

Blitzer stuttered, “You are. All right. But you made the right call.”

Still gracious, Vitsmun replied, “We are here, and I don’t blame anyone for thanking the Lord.”

Vitsmun’s honesty has  a benefit. Stand-up comic Doug Stanhope started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign titled “Atheists Unite” to help rebuild her home. People have already donated over $85,000 with almost two months remaining in the campaign. FreeOK is also selling t-shirts to benefit Vitsmun.

Glenn Beck attacked Blitzer’s interview with Vitsmun as a setup. According to Beck, a television producer “who is sympathetic to the atheist plight or just doesn’t like Christians” handpicked Vitsmun to be interviewed to “point out that in the middle of heartland in America, where most people are God-fearing, there are atheists there too.” Beck’s conclusion:

“We are not fighting against flesh and bone. We are fighting the forces of spiritual darkness and it doesn’t matter what people’s intent are, but I will tell you that that was there for a reason.”

Another atheist also made great news last week. When it was his turn to lead the opening prayer for the House session, Arizona state Rep. Juan Mendez changed the format:

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”

Mendez also quoted legendary astronomer Carl Sagan: “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” He concluded his address by saying he hoped “Arizona’s non-believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers.” After Mendez introduced members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona sitting in the gallery, a member said she was “witnessing history.” Mendez then called himself one of just 1.3 million Arizonans not affiliated with a religious tradition or organization. That’s almost 20 percent, the same percentage for the rest of the United States.

If you want a scholarship to college, you might want to break the law by wandering around with guns.  After Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. learned that David Cole Withrow was arrested for taking guns onto school grounds, the North Carolina high school senior was offered a scholarship to Falwell’s school. Despite his first claim that he didn’t know the guns were in his car, he changed his story later.

Michele Bachmann has a solution for her giant GOP problem of repealing Obamacare. After the House passed its 37th repeal still knowing that their votes would go nowhere, she said:

“I think the President will ultimately be forced to repudiate his own signature piece of legislation because the American people will demand it. And I think before his second term is over, we’re going to see a miracle before our eyes, I believe God is going to answer our prayers and we’ll be freed from the yoke of Obamacare. I believe that’s going to happen and we saw step one last week with the repeal of Obamacare in the House. We have two more steps. We serve a mighty God and I believe it can happen.”

Bachmann gets two points, unlike Sarah Palin, for knowing the word “repudiate.” And she does blame God for the 9/11 and Benghazi attacks.

The new pope gets lots of points for his openness to all people who do good. In last Wednesday’s message on Vatican radio, he described the apostles as “a little intolerant” and disagreed with the idea that non-Catholics cannot do good. He said:

“If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter. We need that so much.”

This isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has used this message. In March,  he declared that the faithful and atheists can be “precious allies to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.”

This speech makes an amazing change from the former pope who made all non-Catholics into second-class citizens in the same way that fundamental evangelical Christians do. This could be the first step toward peace.

More attention will be paid to the separation of church and state next year when the Supreme Court takes on a case about predominantly Christian prayers in public meetings.

Eight years ago, in an opinion warning of the “violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government,” retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor challenged her fellow conservative justices eager to weaken the wall of separation between church and state:

“Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?”

With the loss on the bench of O’Connor (originally a conservative), the Supreme Court has five justices who sometimes desert the system devised over 200 years ago. O’Connor supported the position that government cannot endorse a particularly religious belief or take action that might convey such a “message of endorsement to the reasonable observer.”

Since her departure, the Roberts’ court has taken pieces out of the wall between church and state one at a time. In Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, SCOTUS ruled that the president could provide money to faith-based groups with immunity. In Arizona Christian School v. Winn, SCOTUS allowed religious groups to receive taxpayer funding as long as these were structured as tax benefits and not as direct spending.

Next year’s case determines whether the government can “demonstrate . . . allegiance to a particular sect or creed.” In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the issue is whether a municipal legislature violated the Constitution’s ban on separation of church and state by beginning its meetings with overtly Christian prayers roughly two-thirds of the time. This case addresses the question of whether the constitution permits a government “endorsement” of religion of the kind rejected by O’Connor.

As usual, conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy will most likely be the swing vote in this case. He has said that “government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise.” The question is whether he will forbid anything in the Constitution’s ban on government establishment of religion.

November 9, 2012

Republicans Show Themselves Jerks

Some GOP members behaving like spoiled rich kids—which, with Super-PACs, is what they are! Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is a prime example. Swept into the 112th Congress with other extremist Tea Party members, West accused the Congress of sheltering 81 Communists among the Democrats and called Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as “vile” and “despicable” after she said that West had a large number of Medicare clients in his district. He also said President Barack Obama, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and others should “get the hell out of the United States.”

Before West ran for the House, he had been relieved of his command in Iraq after he violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice laws on torture. Although his $17 million, mostly from out of state, overshadowed the $3.6 million of his opponent, Patrick Murphy, West failed by 2,456  votes, a margin of 0.8 percent. Now West is screaming ballot tampering and suing Murphy.

On another note, when President Obama telephoned House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to extend the arm of bi-partisanship and affirm his intent to move forward on addressing the looming “fiscal cliff,” the Commander-in-Chief was unceremoniously told that the pair was “asleep.” An awkward beginning for the Republicans to “work across the aisle.”

One of the major meltdowns came from Glenn Beck, former Fox host, who told people to buy guns and farmland. He added, “If you live in the East, may I recommend get the hell out of the East. Find a place where you are surrounded by like-minded people and the best way to find those people is, you should probably look at the maps on how counties voted… May I highly suggest you get grandfathered in to the second amendment today. Oh and don’t forget the ammunition.”

Huffington Post collected some of the most common GOP whines: The media selectively reported Romney’s gaffes; fact-checkers were biased (yes but against President Obama); Hurricane Isaac hit the Tampa convention; Romney was too nice in his advertising; Superstorm Sandy and NJ Gov. Chris Christie were to blame; Obama won by “suppressing the vote”; Romney wasn’t conservative enough (which Romney?); Obama was backed by the 47 percent; and  America’s white establishment is now a minority. The GOP sees the last one as a problem because, according to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, all minorities, including women, “want stuff.”

My two favorites. Americans are basically ignorant: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may be right but if true, that whine hurt, not helped, the president. And liberals bought the election. Liberals got 20 percent—at best—of the super-PAC money, and they “bought the election”!?

Rhetoric in the past year has accelerated about racism: liberals have written about racist attitudes toward President Obama, moderates claimed it didn’t exist, and conservatives (aka Fox News) have called the president a racist. Now it’s definitely out in the open. Hundreds of students at “Ole Miss,” for example, rioted, shouting racial slurs just like 50 years ago when violent rioting followed the forced integration with James Meredith’s enrollment as the school’s first black student. Mississippi is also the state in which 46 percent of the Republicans think that interracial marriage should be illegal. Floating Sheep has analyzed locations of the racist tweets following the election. They seem to match the voting patterns of the geographical areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the GOP will never admit is that the amazing amount of gerrymandering that the Republican states accomplished after their sweeping election in 2010 is the only reason that they maintained the House. When these legislators crammed all the Dems into small areas, the rest of the states turn red, as shown by Ohio and Pennyslvania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although House Republicans have kept a similar majority to the last Congress,  237-197 majority plus or minus four seats, more than half the people in the country voted for Democrats.  In areas where Republicans can’t control the districts—the Senate and the presidency–Democrats won outright. That’s why there’s a group of GOP legislators who want to repeal the 17th Amendment and let state legislatures determine the senators, so the GOP can take over the Senate too.

Everyone this year worried about who would vote. Democrats were concerned that people wouldn’t show up, and the GOP hoped that the people who voted in 2008 would not bother to go to the polls this year, partially because of the heavy GOP vote suppression. They were wrong. People of color comprised 28 percent of the voters, 2 percent higher than in 2008 and 5 percent more than in 2010; young voters comprised 19 percent of the vote this year, 1 percent up from four years ago and way up from only 12 percent in 2010. Some people think that the reason for the increases was the GOP’s suppression strategy. Senior turnout stayed the same, but liberals went up 3 points to 25 percent of voters in 2012. At 35 percent, conservatives were down 7 points from the 2010 vote.

Although the president went from 59-percent support of whites in 2008 to 55-percent support this year, he made up the difference among minorities, increasing among Hispanics from 67 percent in 2008 to 71 percent in 2012. One report indicated that the Hispanic support may have been greater because Spanish-dominant Latinos are undersampled because they are poorer and live in less assimilated communities. Latino Decisions pool found Latino support for Obama at 75 percent nationally and up in swing states. Asian-American support rose from 62 percent in 2008 to 73 percent this year. Those who said that the president’s marriage equality position would lose him big-time among black voters were wrong; his 93-percent support showed only a 2-point drop from 2008. The GOP appeals to none of these groups in the majority.

The GOP plans an exhaustive search into the reasons behind their loss of the presidency and Senate. Asked about the GOP’s demographic problems, Boehner said: “What Republicans need to learn is: How do we speak to all Americans? You know, not just the people who look like us and act like us, but how do we speak to all Americans?” Some hard-core conservatives claim the problem stems from being too far left—just move to the right. Collecting information will not do the GOP any good: Republicans will not accept these facts any more than they accepted the polls.

Charles Krauthammer, an old white man, is the classic example of the GOP’s refusal to look at the people in 21st-century United States. His take on Hispanics? Their only liberal issue is immigration. Thus Krauthammer puts 16.7 percent of the country’s 300+ million citizens into a tiny box. His solution is “Border fence plus amnesty.” He then suggests that running Marco Rubio (R-FL) is enough to win the Hispanic vote, a racist assumption that people vote for those of their own race in spite of different beliefs in policy.

According to Krauthammer, the rest of minorities, including women, are all liberal.  Again he shows his ignorance about the face that many blacks are actually conservative. Krauthammer wrote that the majority of women are anti-choice, but 60 percent of the 2012 voters want abortion legal in all or most cases.

Despite the failure of massive amounts of money for conservative causes and candidates and the open attempts at voter suppression to achieve a presidential win, Krauthammer repeats the GOP mantra: “The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy–speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.” It appears that women’s issues such as forced transvaginal ultrasounds just need to explained with “delicacy.”

Chances are good that the GOP wants to believe Krauthammer and will continue down the same path while they  will ignore conservative columnist George Will’s succinct conclusion: “Demography is destiny.” Keep it up, GOP. I don’t want you to change your position. It’s what makes you lose.

October 28, 2012

Perverted Perspectives from So-Called Christians

“When you elect Mitt you’re electing every right wing nut he’s pandered to in the last 10 years. If the Mitt-mobile does roll into Washington it’ll be towing behind it the whole anti-intellectual, anti-science freakshow.”—Bill Maher

The vast majority of Romney supporters identify as white and Christian, nearly eight in ten (79%), including 37% who identify as white evangelical, 19% who identify as white mainline Protestant, and 19% who identify as white Catholic. Not all these people can be classified as belonging to the “right wing nut” category, but there are many of them. Here’s a recent sample:

Gary Cass, a former leader of the San Diego Republican Party and current leader of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, has usually spent his time attacking the president, Muslims, LGBT people, and Mormons. According to Cass, Harvard is now “animated by the spirit of Antichrist.” His latest rant claims that people without guns cannot be Christians. He uses the Bible for his rationale:

“You have not just a right not bear arms, you have a duty. How can you protect yourself, your family or your neighbor if you don’t have a gun? If I’m supposed to love my neighbor and I can’t protect him, what good am I?”

Evangelist Cindy Jacobs has called for prayer against Hurricane Sandy and “rebuke this storm in Jesus’ name.” She claims that “the authority of the believer is powerful enough to shift weather patterns.”

The theory that President Obama is a Muslim because of the ring he wears has been confirmed by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. When “Chip in Fitzgerald, Georgia” asked Fischer on his radio show why no one in the mainstream media is reporting on this fact, Fischer responded that there are no reports because President Obama “may in fact be a closeted Muslim.”

In his strong support of fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck has a new reason behind his claim that the Obama administration lied about the attack in Benghazi, Libya: it’s an attempt to cover up the president’s arming Syrian rebels for the benefit of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

After her attempt to literally follow the Bible for a year, evangelical Rachel Held Evans wrote and published a book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. LifeWay Christian Resources, operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, has refused to stock the book. Although they gave no reason, Evans assumes that the problem is that she left the word “vagina” in the book despite the fact that she removed a few mild profanities.

The same white Christians are trying to remove what is left of the separation of church and state in the United States. An example is the initiative on the ballot to allow public funding of religious ministries. Amendment 8 would remove century-old language in the State Constitution that bars religious or sectarian institutions, or people, from receiving state money. Religious groups in Florida already receive state money, but they are barred from using the money to proselytize. Typically, the money is used for social services and health programs run through organizations like Catholic Charities. Passing this amendment would allow the state to funnel taxpayer funds to religious schools through the use of vouchers.

A basic premise of the religion known as Jehovah’s Witnesses is a separation from state, such a deep separation that they don’t even vote in political elections. Yet the city of Raleigh (NC) is providing $150,000 so the Jehovah’s Witnesses can hold a major event locally. And it’s not the first time. Once again, taxpayers are funding a religion.

So many evangelicals are upset with voting for either a Mormon or someone they believe to be a Muslim, that they are pledging to write in another name for president—Jesus. Evangelist Bill Keller, founder of the Internet ministry liveprayer.com, has set up a website where people can do this pledging, at the rate of 1000 names an hour during Eastern daytime hours. By now, Keller has harvested between 1.5 million and 2 million pledges. Keller describes his reasons for opposing both candidates:

“If President Obama is re-elected, his anti-American, socialist policies will continue, as will his attacks on Christianity and Christian churches. He will continue to support abortion, homosexuality, the enemies of Israel. How can a true follower of Christ vote in good conscience for a man who has proven to be a true enemy of God and His Word and will continue to be so in his next term?

“If Mitt Romney is elected, he will be the fulfillment of his cult’s polygamist, pedophile, racist, con artist, murdering founder Joseph Smith’s ‘White Horse’ prophecy that Romney and all Mormon’s believe. That prophecy says that the United States will facing great economic and social unrest, a Mormon will be elected President, declare a national emergency and set aside the US Constitution and enact a Mormon theocracy.”

Mormons who displease the church leadership, or commit “apostasy,” can be excommunicated from the LDS Church. When Mormon blogger David Twede found himself in this position, he resigned his church membership. His sin was writing critical essays about LDS history, temple worship and contemporary issues. Those who take this path can belong to the Exmormon Foundation, a group that provides support for those leaving and/or questioning the Mormon faith.

LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy has vehemently denied that any Mormon would be disciplined “for having questions or for expressing a political view,” and the faith claims that they are neutral in political affairs. This is the same church that admitted to spending almost $200,000 to pass California’s Proposition 8, that stopped marriage equality in the state. Some people guess the church was behind 70 percent of the almost $44 million raised to pass the initiative that has now been blocked by courts.

I’m still pondering what kind of government we would have it Jesus Christ got elected in a write-in. Maybe less money on defense and more to help people?

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