Nel's New Day

June 4, 2017

Is This the Direction for People in the United States?

 

On his visit to the Middle East, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told the world that the United States shared values with Saudi Arabia. Now its King Abdullah will define atheists as terrorists to continue the nation’s repressive laws on political dissent and protests that it claims can “harm public order.” Royal Decree 44 criminalizes “participating in hostilities outside the kingdom” with prison sentences of between three and 20 years. Article One of the new provisions defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”

Saudi money is being sent to Europe to create its fanatical version of Islam throughout Germany. Instead of moderate Islamism, the push is toward the Wahhabi supremacy of Sharia law and use of violent jihad and takfirism to kill Muslims not following the Saudi interpretation of Islam. Almost all terrorist attacks in the West are connected to Saudi Arabia with almost none to Iran, excoriated by DDT.

Those who think that this idea can never move to the United States need to realize that DDT will do anything to pander to his base of evangelicals and VP Mike Pence is a “Christian” first. One of his leaders, Pat Robertson, has called for parents to beat non-Christian children if they don’t respect Christian beliefs. On his television program he told a woman upset because her grandchildren don’t follow her beliefs to “take that kid to the woodshed and let him understand the blessings of discipline.” He further told the women that the grandson would go to prison if a “strong male figure” doesn’t give him that “discipline.”  Robertson advised before predicting that the kid would end up in prison if a strong male figure didn’t start beating him right away.

Robertson’s form of child abuse follows Glenn Beck’s call four years ago to physically abuse children until they believe in God. Two years before that, fundamentalist Christian parents beat their nine children in the name of God and killed one of them. Across the country “Christians” are following the advice of Robertson and Beck. Robertson’s solution of child abuse is against the law if it results in physical harm or death–at least for now.

Religious Right activist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire (right) is calling for “a more violent Christianity” and gave DDT and Greg Gianforte as examples of men who are properly “walking in authority.” Gianforte is the new Montana U.S. representative who threw a reporter to the floor and continued to attack him the night before his successful election. Daubenmire played a clip of DDT shoving another world leader aside at the NATO summit to show that DDT “is large and in charge.” He added about DDT, “He just spanked them all.” Daubenmire said, “That should be the heart cry of Christian men. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of God has suffered violence and violent men take it by force.”

Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin thinks he can solve the problem of community violence in Louisville through prayer. His plan is to send roaming prayer groups to needy areas that will walk around and pray with people two or three times a week for the next year. Bevin thinks that prayer can take away the need for investment in housing, education, and health care.

In Michigan, Rep. Tim Walberg told his constituents that God would “take care of” the climate crisis.

In late May, Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate and father of White House communication staffer Sarah Sanders, joined 5,000 Israeli settlers with an armed guard to perform religious rituals at Joseph’s Tomb in Palestine’s West Bank. With him was Israeli Parliament member Bezalel Smotrich who wants to murder all Palestinians who refuse to admit their inferior status. Later Huckabee met with parliament member Yehudah Glick, called “the most dangerous man in the Middle East” by Israeli police. Glick’s goal is to bulldoze an Islamic holy site and build a Jewish temple in its place before creating a theocracy over all residents in the Holy Land.

According to Calvinist evangelicals, wealth is a sign of God’s approval, a reason that they consider DDT to be God’s anointed. Some people are just destined to accumulate material things, at the expense of others, while others are simply relegated to a far lower place. Combined with fundamentalist reverence for authoritarianism, DDT had the characteristics for the evangelical leader.

In his campaigning, DDT promised Christians that they would not be persecuted if he became president. The GOP has used the persecution myth for decades, but DDT sold it to them to get elected. Now women are being persecuted with the Christian law of the United States. DDT appointed Charmaine Yoest, the former president of an anti-abortion group, to lead public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. He followed that egrigious choice a few weeks later by naming another anti-abortion advocate to oversee the Title X program with the responsibility of allocating $300 million a year in family planning funds for low-income people. Teresa Manning is also in charge of shaping policy and regulation about contraception and teen pregnancy. Her philosophy that family planning is only among “a husband and a wife and God.” She also thinks that contraception doesn’t prevent pregnancy but instead increases the number of abortions. She said, “The prospect that contraception would always prevent the conception of a child is preposterous.”

The past decade has seen increasingly abusive laws for women seeking abortions, and DDT has moved on to controlling contraception for women. DDT’s executive order about eliminating the health care birth control mandate hasn’t appeared yet, but leaks have provided an idea of its direction. If he signs the existing draft, any employee can declare a “belief” reason to stop providing free contraception through their insurance plans. Because of “Obamacare,” teen pregnancy has hit an historic low.

DDT claims that women can get contraceptives from a family member’s health plan, buy separate insurance for them, or use “multiple other federal programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptives.” He didn’t specify which ones because he also wants to close down Planned Parenthood in exchange for “crisis pregnancy centers” that don’t provide contraceptives. Losing Planned Parenthood will leave almost 1.6 million low-income patients with no family planning care—and maybe no insurance if employees deny them. DDT also wants to largely defund Medicaid, another source for contraception for low-income women. Any DDT order would be immediate with no public comment because he would declare it an interim final rule because employers need immediate relief. Any DDT order would be immediate with no public comment because he would declare it an interim final rule because employers need immediate relief.

Before the removal of contraception came DDT’s executive order protection of “religious liberty,” removing constitutional rights of others. An example is hospitals which can deny services, fire people on a Christian basis, and refuse federally-mandated retirement regulations and disclosures through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. An example of religious firing was an employee at a faith-based addition center in Missoula (MT) because she didn’t pray hard enough.

The U.S. is already one of the most extreme fundamentalist religious countries in the world, according to scholar Noam Chomsky. Over 42 percent of the people in this country think that the world was created 10,000 years ago by the hand of God, and these people are a political force, controlling others with their beliefs and fear-mongering. The problems of the nation come from income inequality inculcated by huge corporations, but the DDT supporters blame anyone who isn’t white. Yes, the United States shares values with Saudi Arabia, basing its laws on religion and calling for physical punishment. The question is how far the pendulum will swing to the right before it returns—if it ever does.

September 8, 2015

Davis’ Rejection of LGBT Rights Not Unique

Chuck Todd celebrated his first year’s anniversary on Meet the Press last Sunday with more misinformation. In the interview with Colin Powell, one of George W. Bush’s Secretaries of State, cogently explained why the United States needs to follow through with the proposed Iran agreement. At the show’s end, however, came a discussion about U.S. cause célèbre, Kim Davis, the county clerk who become famous for her refusal to follow the land of the law.

Once again Todd showed his inability to do his research:

“This is the only place in the country that we’ve had this. Meaning that I think a lot of people thought there would be more clerks that wouldn’t do this.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin followed Todd’s lead and said, “All of our country, and other registrars, in other counties, people have gone issuing marriage licenses. And that’s the important thing to understand, that that social movement created an acceptance.” Even revered television journalist Tom Brokaw expressed ignorance about marriage-equality problems since the decision:

“I think acceptance of same-sex marriage is so outrunning the opposition that it’s game over, quite honestly. This was an exception down there.”

What makes Kim Davis unique is that she is the only person who went to jail because of her refusal, contempt of court for not following a judge’s order. Across the nation, however, government officials are refusing marriage services to same-gender couples. Both North Carolina and Utah allow judges to not perform any marriages if same-gender ceremonies violate the judges’ “religious beliefs.” An Oregon judge, Vance Day, is also refusing to perform marriages. He is not required to do so by state law, but he clearly stated that he had stopped marrying people because of his “religious” opposition to same-sex marriages.

Alabama Probate Judge Nick Williams ordered his deputies in Washington County not to issue any licenses at all since the court’s June decision. In Pike County (AL), Probate Judge Wes Allen said that the law does not require county officials to issue marriage licenses.

Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, Texas AG Ken Paxton told government officials that they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples on religious grounds. Granbury (TX) lost $43,872.10 in attorney’s fees because Hood County Clerk Katie Lang refused to issue a license to residents Joe Stapleton and Jim Cato, partners for 27 years. A federal court judge forced Lang to issue the license, but the settlement of the case cost the taxpayers. Lang’s website states that she doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage, but she is now allowing deputies in her office to issue the licenses.

In Texas, two counties have not confirmed that they will issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. “We are not going to discuss marriage policy over the phone. If a couple comes in to apply, we will discuss it at that time,” said Molly Criner, a clerk in Irion County, 200 miles northwest of Austin.

Several Kentucky clerks initially refused to issue any marriage license, included the president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association. By now the number is probably down to two clerks—both named Davis. Casey County Casey Davis said that he might be willing to die to avoid issuing a marriage license to a same-gender couple. Kentucky considers it a Class A misdemeanor, a first-degree official misconduct, if “a public servant … refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”

Fifty years ago, white people dominated the media, and black issues were largely underrepresented. On Meet the Press, three straight people decided that discrimination against LGBT people is “game over.” Same-gender couples face discrimination across the nation, and the mainstream media doesn’t report it because journalists are ignorant.

Several GOP presidential candidates have rushed to support Kim Davis. Yet a Supreme Court decision in Garcetti v. Ceballo (2006) limited free speech protections for government employees when they are on the job. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that a public official is only protected only when engaged in an issue as a private citizen, not if it is expressed as part of the official’s public duties. Government employers must comply with the central duties of their jobs. As for the states with laws that permit judges their choices of whether to comply with their responsibilities, Katherine Franke, a Columbia University law professor, said that government officials “don’t have a First Amendment right to pick and choose which parts of the job they are going to do.”

cruzDetermined to out-perform Donald Trump, both GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz rushed to Grayson (KY) when the judge announced he was releasing Davis if she performed her job. Huckabee was front and center while one of his aides blocked Cruz from speaking to the media. (A video of the encounter is available here.)

In releasing Davis, the judge mandated that she “not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” According to Davis’ lawyer, Davis would go back to work on tomorrow or the next day and “would not violate her conscience.”

More legal problems may come from the rally. Composers for rock band Survivor were offended by the use of “Eye of the Tiger” in the Grayson circus without permission. Jim Peterik wrote:

“I was very surprised and dismayed at the misuse of the song I co-wrote with Frankie Sullivan for Rocky lll. The song has motivated thousands through the years to reach beyond their limits. Its use for the release of Kim Davis does not support my views or my politics. I have contacted my publishers to make sure this usage is stopped immediately.”

Sullivan was more blunt in his Facebook post: “NO! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use ‘My Tune — The Eye Of The Tiger.’ I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!” In 2012, Sullivan sued Newt Gingrich for using the piece during campaign events.

Even Fox network disagrees with Kim Davis’ position. A panel of legal experts agreed that Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, is “ridiculously stupid” for his claim that the Supreme Court cannot legally strike down same-sex marriage bans. Trial attorney Chip Merlin said that anyone who violates a judge’s order should “expect to be thrown in jail.” Criminal defense attorney Sharon Liko added, “She’s applying for the job of a martyr. She wants to practice her faith by not issuing marriage licenses. Yet, she will not agree to let the deputy county clerks issue marriage licenses even if it’s okay with their faith.”

Fox News host Gregg Jarrett explained:

“When she took the job she swore to uphold the law. We rely on government officials to do that. They can’t just pick and choose what laws they like, which ones they don’t. If they were allowed to do that, wouldn’t that lead to chaos, anarchy and so forth?”

The consensus was that Davis “can either follow the law—she can do her job—or she can get out.”

Staver went on Wallbuilders.com to rile his followers and said that marriage licenses for same-gender couples will “grant a license to engage in pornography, to grant a license to sodomize children or something of that nature.”

Kim Davis is not paying fines or legal fees, and she’s getting her usual salary. Yet the conservative anti-marriage equality group National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is using her name for fund-raising. The group’s statement began, “I am writing you today with a more personal request, something unrelated to NOM. Kim and her family face a very uncertain future.” It goes on to explain that NOM has joined ActRight.com  “to create a special crowdsourcing fund whose proceeds will go directly to Kim Davis” and asks for “a generous contribution to the Kim Davis Fund.” It promises to make funds “available” to her and “to support her family while she sits in jail.” [And continues to draw her salary for not doing her job.

During live coverage of Davis’ release from jail, anchor Shephard Smith spoke up with an amazingly rational assessment of those who support her refusal to issue marriage licenses:

“They set this up as a religious play again. This is the same crowd that says, ‘We don’t want Sharia law, don’t let them tell us what to do, keep their religion out of our lives and out of our government.’ Well, here we go again.”

Discussing the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality, he said, “This is not unprecedented. They did it when they said black and white people couldn’t marry.”

He concluded, “Haters are going to hate. We thought what this woman wanted was an accommodation, which they’ve granted her, something that worked for everybody. But it’s not what they want.”

 

Amazing!

June 28, 2015

‘Christian’ Opposition to LGBT Rights, Healthcare with Love for Confederate Flag

The white, entitled male, Christian fundamentalists were traumatized last week with important events negating their view of how the United States should benefit only them and their beliefs. Their reactions show that they are close to insanity.

On legalized marriage equality:

American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer covered the complaint waterfront by comparing the ruling to the attacks on the U.S. on 9/11 and Pearl Harbor with a nod to Sodom and Gomorrah, “From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11 because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists.” He continued by saying that June 26, 2015 is “a date which will live in infamy. On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah.”

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee predicts that Christians will fight same-sex marriage just as Dr. Martin Luther King fought racial discrimination. He called on conservative Christians to participate in his “Biblical disobedience” campaign against the “false god of judicial supremacy” before he compared the ruling to the Dred Scott case upholding the Fugitive Slave Act returning slaves to their “owners.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) believes that God won’t protect the United States any more because the court “violates the law in order to destroy the foundational building block for society provided by Nature and Nature’s God—that was stated as divine law by Moses and Jesus.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who signed an executive order to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of “religious freedom,” said, “If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.” Jindal declared himself a GOP presidential candidate last week.

On Breitbart, John Nolte wrote about the need to take down the “fascist, anti-Christian gay-pride flag” because it fosters hate and intolerance against Christians.

A growing movement in conservative states to eliminate same-sex marriage is to eliminate all marriages.

  • Utah Republicans are drafting a bill to “end government agencies’ involvement in issuing marriage licenses.” (Rep. Jake Anderegg, a supporter of the bill, admitted that it had problems because of the laws including probate, inheritance and other benefits tied to marriage. Mr. Anderegg, that was the reason that LGBT people went to court for marriage rights!)
  • Michigan is working on legislation requiring all marriages be “ordained” by clergy, who are not required to perform ceremonies against their “firmly held religious beliefs.”
  • Alabama probate judge Wes Allen of Pike County has declared that he will protest the marriage equality ruling by no longer issuing any marriage licenses, and Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic said he plans to permanently close his office’s marriage license bureau. Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore also says he will resist the ruling.
  • Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said the decision is not effective in the state until the 5th Circuit Court lifts its stay, and State House Judiciary Chairman Andy Gipson suggested that Mississippi follow other states in no longer issuing marriage licenses.
  • Louisiana Attorney Gen. Buddy Caldwell said his office is not immediately enforcing the ruling because there wasn’t a specific mandate in the decision for Louisiana to issue marriage licenses.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated that the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling will “embolden” people to abuse Christians because “an increasingly-activist [sic] judiciary” takes away First Amendment rights, which Paxton thinks are there to abuse anyone who doesn’t follow Paxton’s religion.

Pastor Rick Scarborough has decided not to set himself on fire, despite his promise that he would do this if the U.S. enshrined marriage equality. He said that “we will burn” really means that “we will accept any sanction from the government for resisting today’s Supreme Court decision. We do not support any violence or physical harm.” In the same discussion about burning, Scarborough encouraged pastors to say “shoot me first” if bakeries, and florists are “persecuted” for refusing service to LGBT individuals. No follow-up for that statement, but he didn’t ask anyone to shoot him—just recommended that they shoot other pastors.

On keeping healthcare subsidies for low-income people:

Huckabee complained about the Supreme Court rulings being made by “five unelected lawyers … who decided they knew better than the legislators who actually get to make law.” (I don’t remember his complaining about the five unelected lawyers who took contraception for millions of women in the United States.) He also used the usual term “judicial tyranny” to describe court decisions that he hates.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told Elizabeth Prann on Fox network yesterday that Obamacare is “a malignant tumor that is metastasizing, and feeding on God-given American liberty.” He concluded by saying that people “were fine before they met Obamacare, and will get along fine without Obamacare.”

On the killings in the Charleston (SC) church and the pleas to remove the Confederate flag from government property:

South Carolina State Rep. William Chumley blamed his colleague, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, and eight other people in the church for being killed. Echoing the NRA claimed, Chumley said that there would be “less funerals” if the people hadn’t “sat in there [and] waited their turn to be shot.”

Pat Boone knows that Satan caused the Charleston murders and criticizes President Obama for connecting the killings with racism. According to Boone, the killer “was carefully prepared and led by the Devil himself to kill as many Christians as he could. The fact that they were black was an excuse more than a reason.”

Tennessee State Sen. John Stevens compared the suggestion of renaming the Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park to the actions of ISIS. Forrest was a terrorist member of the KKK.

Pundit Ann Coulter accused Nikki Haley of not understanding “America’s history” because she is “an immigrant” because the governor of South Carolina suggested that the Confederate flag be removed from state grounds. As a self-identified “student of American history,” Coulter should remember that the Confederacy attacked the United States of America and caused 620,000 deaths. She did remember that it was a “battle flag” but said that “anyone who knows the first thing about military history, knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.”

Bill O’Reilly told Juan Willians on the Fox network that the Confederate Flag “represents bravery.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said he totally “disregarded” a report that white supremacists, anti-government extremists, and others have killed nearly twice as many people as radical Muslims since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Instead, he talked about organized attacks by Muslim extremists, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Huckabee, who has something to say about everything, says that the cure for racism is Christianity—the same religion that still has members who want “separate but equal” for blacks and whites.

Usually, disasters bring out the prejudice against the LGBT community. That position is transitioning to hatred primarily for transgender people. On Red State, Erick Erickson blamed Caitlyn Jenner for the killings as did Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America.

Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the state Capitol grounds so that it won’t be a “major distraction” for the budget talks. At the same time, South Carolina refused to remove the flag or even lower it when one of the slain people at the Charleston church, state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was taken to the capitol for public viewing by hundreds of people. Rep. James Clyburn, the elder statesman of South Carolina politics, requested that they take it down just for the viewing, but the legislators refused. State Sen. J. Thomas McElveen III spoke for millions of people in the United States when he said, “I am troubled that the flag a murderer waved as a banner of hatred flies as his body lies in repose.

bree newsomeEarly yesterday morning, Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flag pole on the South Carolina capitol grounds to tear down the Confederate flag. The protest was shortlived; a black state employee was ordered to return the flag. The action needed to be fast because of the “Confederate flag pride” rally scheduled that morning where white people waved dozens of Confederate flags. The black man who told them that the flag represents a time of black slavery and the war fought to keep them in bondage was told to “go back to where you came from.” He responded, “I am where I came from.”

Since the killings, nighttime fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominantly black churches in four southern states in the past week. At least three of them were from arson. The first one was at a Tennessee Seventh Day Adventist Church last Monday, followed by a fire at God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon (GA) and another in North Carolina.

Last week saw remarkable advances for people in this country, but we have a long way to go to overcome the strong sense of entitlement by people like the shooter and the white fundamentalist Christians who think that they own the United States.

June 14, 2015

Christian Unjustified Paranoia Leads to Discrimination

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) may be a Catholic, but he opposes his church’s leader in climate change. Santorum thinks that Pope Francis should stay quiet about this subject because the pope isn’t a scientist. Santorum said,”I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality,” he said. Francis has an advanced degree in chemistry—which makes him a scientist.

During his interview on the Fox network, host Chris Wallace asked Santorum:

“I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?”

Santorum answered that “there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Santorum has company in Bill Donohue, Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, who thinks that the pope’s authority lies only with faith and morals. Donohue wants Pope Francis not to talk about climate change because “no one has ever said that air pollution is intrinsically evil.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who proved to his personal satisfaction that climate change doesn’t exist because he threw a snowball on the Senate floor, is equally upset with Pope Francis. He said:

“Everyone is going to ride the pope now. Isn’t that wonderful,” he said. “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours…. I am not going to talk about the pope. Let him run his shop, and we’ll run ours.”

A Presbyterian, Inhofe doesn’t need to follow the Pope’s precepts, but Santorum and Donohue should. And the pope is scheduled to speak to Congress in a little over three months.

The persecution complex of fundamentalist Christians ratcheted up when Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, a far-right mega-church leader in Texas, compared the treatment of Christians in the United States to Germany’s treatment of Jews before the Holocaust. “They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them, and make them objects of contempt.” Questioning from Fox’s Sean Hannity led Jeffress to add that Christians in the United States are “treated as objects of contempt by the media and once that happens then the taking away of further rights will be very easy.” Jeffress’ terror comes from LGBT rights in receiving businesses and services.

After Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order allowing refusal of services based on the provider’s religious beliefs, the “religious freedom” fans scored victories in other states. In Michigan, faith-based adoption groups can refuse to work with any couples that violate the groups’ religious beliefs. The bill was put on the state Senate’s agenda at the last minute with no notice, and the House immediately concurred. North Carolina now allows magistrates and registers of deed to recuse themselves from performing marriage duties that might violate their religious beliefs. The number of legislators required to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto was lowered because of absent legislators, some who had voted against the bill the first time. North Carolina’s bill has an interesting twist. Any North Carolina officials opting out in writing cannot perform marriage duties for the next six months, creating long delays for couples wanting to marry in rural areas. [My question is whether they still get paid.]

Although both Michigan’s and North Carolina’s laws are intended for same-sex couples, the legislation is so broad that anyone can be the brunt of discrimination. Almost 40 years ago, Carol Ann and Thomas Person, two legally blind North Carolinians, were denied a marriage license by two different magistrates because of their skin colors. This happened nine years after the Supreme Court had declared that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. Person recently wrote, “The magistrate told us that marrying an interracial couple went against his religious beliefs.” The current law gives magistrates the right to discriminate against couples because of their race, religion, divorce status—in short, anyone.

At least one presidential candidate thinks that Christian discrimination is more important than LGBT rights. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is positive that being LGBT is a choice and that LGBT people don’t suffer discrimination because they don’t have to drink out of different fountains from heterosexual people. He refused to discuss LGBT rights further, insisting that they talk about discrimination against Christians in the United States. T. Steelman wrote:

“When you have your Bibles confiscated, churches burned and gun-toting idiots protesting outside your sanctuary then you can talk about being persecuted. Nobody is stopping you from worshiping as you wish or burning you at the stake for heresy. Until they do, please just stop it.”

On his 700 Club program, Pat Robertson first explained that the death of a woman’s child was human error rather than the fault of God.  Then he explained to her that God killed the woman’s baby because he could grow up to be Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or a serial killer. According to Robertson, God deliberately terminated the baby’s life to save the world.

The Duggar story keeps growing after the revelation that the oldest of 19 Kids and Counting molested at least four of his sisters, one of them five years old at the time, and another young girl several years ago. Two weeks ago, the parents refused to let DHS talk to a child in their care after a 911 call. The refusal led to a county DHS employee calling police for help. The information was revealed after Fox’s Megyn Kelly gave a cozy interview with the parents when patriarch Jim Bob Duggar said that child molestation is common in Christian families.

The Duggars had a compelling reason for not divulging Josh Duggar’s molestation of his younger sisters. While Jim Bob was in state legislature, Arkansas passed a law that the children could not have been homeschooled if Josh were forced to register as a sex offender. Jim Bob said that he knew Josh’s actions were crimes, but he didn’t trust government-sponsored programs to help Josh.

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continued to support the Duggars after the truth came out. He told Megyn Kelly that “a person is innocent until proven guilty” although Kelly said, “But he confessed.” That didn’t matter to Huckabee, who joked that he wanted to be transgender as a teenager so that he could shower with high school girls.

Another of Huckabee’s friends has also been accused twice of child molestation. John Perry, the man who co-authored several of Huckabee’s books, escaped “sustained” allegations of “sexual battery” against children because the statute of limitations had expired. Perry was ex-communicated from the Presbyterian church because he “has confessed to committing heinous and repetitive sin […] and has not shown evidence of repentance.” Perry molested one of the girls for three years.

Have you read what the religious right has written about the alleged history of former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert molesting his high school students? No? There’s a reason. The conservative religious media is staying mum on the issue: to them, it’s not really news.

People who think that separation of church and state might delight in this exchange between Australian comedian and satirist David Thorne and the self-proclaimed “School Chaplain” at his son’s school. The email exchange is five years old but priceless.

“Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins,” according to Mayor Will Rogers’ sign in Hawkins (TX). Putting the sign on public land isn’t any violation of the constitution, according to Rogers, because “Jesus is part of every major religion in the world, so you can’t pin one religion on Jesus.” No wonder U.S. ranks 14th in the world in education. I’m surprised that the nation isn’t lower.

May 24, 2015

Worry about Josh Duggar’s Crimes, Not Sins

The conservative world is still reeling since the revelation that Josh Duggar, eldest son in his family and the face of Family Research Council (FRC) at anti-LGBT rallies, molested at least five girls when he was a teenager. As executive director of FRC Action, the organization’s political arm, he raised funds, hobnobbed with half the GOP presidential contenders, and talked about how LGBT people are a threat to children. Because the statute of limitations has run out on the 27-year-old’s crimes, he will most likely not be prosecuted, but the publicity surrounding his actions is well-deserved, because of his “holier-than-thou” demeanor toward people who don’t follow his path of hatred and bigotry. Duggar has resigned from his position, but the whirlpool of his actions and the resulting reactions spreads every day.

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The patriarch of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob Duggar, waited over a year—and three months after he told the elders of his church—to file a police report after learning about Josh’s crimes. Jim Bob also refused to allow police to interview Josh during a felony investigation in 2006. The police report emerged only after In Touch magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request and has since been expunged at the request of a judge appointed by then Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Police spokesman Scott Lewis said the expunging of the record was highly unusual because similar records are usually kept indefinitely.

Huckabee explained that the file was destroyed to protect the “innocent victims.” Six years ago, Huckabee wrote about director Roman Polanski’s raping a child almost 30 years ago in a Fox op-ed: “If something is right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Diversity is a good thing; duplicity is not.” Huckabee has a history of releasing criminals, including two murderers who went on to kill six more people.

The police report shows that Josh was investigated for sex offenses—including felonies—against five minors, four of them his sisters. He was accused of touching the girls’ breasts and genitals, often while they slept. Instead of alerting the police, the family later claimed they sent Josh to a four-month Christian program of hard physical work and counseling in 2003 but really sent him to live with a family friend in the home remodeling business. Jim Bob finally took Josh to personal acquaintance Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens, who only gave Josh a “very stern talk.” Hutchins took no other action and is now serving a 56-year prison sentence for child pornography.

After TLC became aware of Josh’s history of molestation, the channel waited to determine the future of their cash cow program. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was immediately canceled after TLC learned that “Mama June” was dating a convicted child molester although he had not been a member of the cast, but TLC aired a Duggar marathon after Josh, a part of the program, apologized for his behavior on his Facebook page. The program began losing its advertisers such as General Mills, and the TLC indicated that it was pulling the show. The show is still listed to air on June 1, and the network hasn’t decided on its long-term decision regarding the show’s fate.

Josh’s former employer, FRC, has traditionally demonized LGBT people through false allegations. The website still posts a 2002 document, “Homosexuality and Child Abuse,” which wrongly assumes male molesters of boys are gay to purport that homosexual men molest boys at disproportionate rates to “the rates at which heterosexual men molest girls.”

Duggar mentor Bill Gothard, 79, has also resigned from Basic Life Principles, the Christian homeschooling organization he founded, after accusations that he sexually harassed over 35 women and teenage girls. Three years ago, Gothard was asked to step down because he “has exhibited a 40-year pattern of moral failure” and “publicly repent.” Basic Life Principles’ curriculum preaches that victims are at fault for being sexually assaulted and the perpetrators are the real victims who are defrauded by the sexual assault victims. Girls are also taught from an early age that they provoke the rapes and have no right to pursue justice. That is what the Duggar children may have been taught.

The billionaires who own Hobby Lobby have provided substantial financial support for Gothard’s organization for at least a decade. Gothard is also associated with Quiverfull, a movement championed by Jim and Michelle Duggar that advocates wifely submission and considers all forms of birth control as sinful. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green praised one ofGothard’s books: “Through the example and teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, we have benefited both as a family and in our business.”

In a religious homeschooling family in Wake Forest (NC) , four of the six brothers pled guilty to sexually abusing their sister for nine years. Anti-schooler parents, John and Nita Jackson, fled to Colorado with the victim to keep her from being interviewed. Eight indictments were handed down after they were returned to North Carolina. Oldest brothers Eric and Matthew received sentences of 12 to 15 years, and two other brothers, Nathaniel and Benjamin, will serve two years each for multiple counts of incest. One brother is expected to plead guilty, and another will go to trial. The girl told police that her mother had walked away after witnessing at least one of the crimes.

Like Josh, the Duggar parents are politically active. Jim Bob was a state representative from 1999 until 2003 and a U.S. Senate candidate. Michelle campaigned for overturning a measure that banned LGBT discrimination in Fayetteville (AR) on the basis that the law would endanger children. She said, “We   should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child.” She succeeded.

Fayetteville is the location of a Christian school that knowingly employed a man convicted of sexual offenses against an 8-year-old child. Paul Leroy Connor, convicted of “taking sexual liberties with” and committing a sexual offense against the child in 2001, served two years in prison and is barred under state law from being on school property. The school’s administrator, Joan Drayton not only refused to fire Connor but also told the reporting teacher to stop teaching students how to search for sex offenders. An investigation revealed grade tampering for the athletic program and wealthy families as well as “fraudulent conduct on the part of the school and its administrators.” One senior with a GPA of .97 received a diploma.

Freedom Christian Academy is one of the state’s top recipients of private school vouchers, almost $120,000 taxpayer funds in 2014. A recently passed state law diverted $10 million from the state’s public system to student vouchers at schools like Freedom Christian that operate with no accountability or oversight and are exempt from financial accountability, ethics oversight, and academic reporting standards which are required of public schools. Many of these schools have no certified teachers on staff, and at least 74 percent do not follow state curriculum mandates. They also collect taxpayer funds for schools who are taught at home rather than at school.

Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential candidate who earlier slammed President Obama for letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé, praised Josh Duggar for his apology and said that his life as an adult “is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility.” Today, Huckabee told Chris Wallace on the Fox network that the president of the United States should not be required to follow a Supreme Court ruling that legalizes marriage equality. Wallace pointed out that the country has obeyed court rulings since the 1803 Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803) which formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review under Article III of the Constitution.. Huckabee answered that the president must follow the “Supreme Being” and not the Supreme Court.

Huckabee may be surprised by the negative response he has received on his Facebook page regarding his protection of Josh Duggar. Instead of praising him, they have erupted with criticisms. Responses can be found here. These comments reflect how conservatives are disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Duggars and those who defend Josh’s criminal actions. His behavior was horrendous, but the actions of those who try to protect him are far worse. Josh Duggar committed a crime, not a sin, and adults who tried to cover up for him are also committing crimes.

May 6, 2015

This Week Doubles GOP Presidential Field

Another day, another GOP presidential candidate. Yesterday Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, made his announcement by preaching the good word from his birthplace of Hope, also Bill Clinton’s birth place. Using ministerial language to match that of candidate Ted Cruz, Huckabee declaimed that the United States has “lost our way morally” while his crowd cheered.

Huckabee trails in sixth place at 7.5 percent, following two undeclared candidates—Jeb Bush (15.5 percent) and Scott Walker (12.3 percent)—and three already in the field: Marco Rubio (14.3 percent), Rand Paul (10 percent), and Ted Cruz (8.8 percent). His attacks in the speech were directed not only against the president but also GOP candidates. According to Huckabee, a politician running for higher office should “at least have the integrity and decency to resign” from his current job. He attacked Jeb Bush for hailing from a “family political dynasty.” Huckabee said, “I grew up blue collar, not blue blood.”

Huckabee mansionThe “blue collar” guy has come a long way in the last eight years as testified by his $3 million beachfront home in Florida. He and Texarkana friend and former legislator David Haak got permits to build neighboring homes on an eroding beach in Santa Rosa. Seven hurricanes in six years made the lots unbuildable because the “frontal dune” was too close to the street for the 11,000 square-foot compounds. They simply dumped truckloads of sand farther out on the beach, shaped it into a mound, and declared the man-made hump to be the new frontal dune. The Florida DEP wouldn’t give permits until Huckabee’s contractor moved the home sites back five feet and made a deal with the head of the agency. Taxpayers are provided $43 million for the replenishment of the 19-mile stretch of beach in front of his vacation home.

During the past eight years ago, Huckabee made money from his own show on the Fox network, a syndicated radio program, and several books. More funds went into his coffers from “renting” his campaign email list. One group charges people $72 to locate the miracle cure for cancer hidden in the Bible; another one sells food to survivalists for the upcoming disaster. When CNN host Jake Tepper asked him about allowing his mailing list to pedal bogus cancer cures, Huckabee compared it to selling legitimate medical equipment. He said he hadn’t lost his credibility because “I never signed that letter.” He followed up his justification by saying, “I didn’t actually run that part of my company.” His name, however, was on the promo.

As huckster, Huckabee had a video on the “Diabetes Reversed” website in which he touts the “amazing” treatment for Type 2 diabetes. He recommends getting rid of all those medications and switching to Barton Publishing’s Diabetes Solution Kit. A New York Times report stated that “the American Diabetes Association and the Canadian Diabetes Association caution against treatments like the one peddled by the company Mr. Huckabee represents.” A spokeswoman said that the candidate had dropped his connection with Barton early this year, but the website had a reference to the “governor” earlier today. (It’s not there now.)

Huckabee finds the IRS as criminal as abortion. He wants to replace income taxes with a 23-percent sales tax. To Huckabee and his supporters, this so-called FairTax would fund the government, including Social Security and Medicare.  Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economist, pointed out that multi-million-dollar houses would not be taxed and wealthy people might effectively avoid paying the sales tax.

The candidate also suffers from the same flip-flopping that other presidential candidates do. Common Core educational standards were “near and dear to my heart” just two years ago, but now he hates them. As governor, he called for lifting Cuba’s economic embargo of Cuba to help his rice farmers but now opposes the president’s foreign policy by saying that Cuba’s government is tyrannical. While running for president, he said that “climate change … is real”; now he opposes “cap and trade” legislation. At the same time that he objects to what he calls “wage stagnation,” he opposes a higher minimum wage.

In a promo for his candidacy, Huckabee claims that he cut taxes and welfare … and raised average family income by 50 percent.” A fact check shows that the increase over 11 years wasn’t adjusted for inflation. It was actually 20 percent at a time (1996-2007) when the federal average increased more than this. He also took total credit for the income change. Huckabee was governor during increases in sales taxes, a three-percent income-tax surcharge, a 25-cent cigarette increase, and a tax on beds in nursing homes. Club for Growth maintains during Huckabee’s governorship that state sales tax rose 37 percent over his tenure, motor fuel taxes rose 16 percent, and cigarette taxes rose 103 percent, while spending rose at three times the rate of inflation.

Huckabee has been an Obama “birther” and made other personal attacks against the president. Because President Obama lived with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia, he’s neither a Christian nor a “real American.” As Huckabee told Bryan Fischer:

“Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”

Huckabee also pushed the conspiracy theory that Obama may have identified as a foreign student in college and said that the president’s administration gives “special rights and privileges ” to Muslim-Americans. He told people to refuse to join the military until there is no longer a conservative president in the White House and wants officials to defy federal law on marriage equality.

According to Huckabee, President Obama is making the U.S. less free than North Korea, and an expansion of contraceptive access is comparable to the belief that “cannot control their libido.” He declared that “Obamacare” would have forced Ted Kennedy to commit suicide were the celebrated senator not already dead and blamed the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre on the lack of government-sponsored school prayer. One of his religious claims is that “a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”

During his 11 years as governor, Huckabee commuted and pardoned 1,033 prisoners, twice as many as his three predecessors combined. Twelve of them had been convicted of murder. Maurice Clemmons went on to kill four police officers in Washington state, and serial rapist Wayne DuMond moved to Missouri where he raped and killed two women after Huckabee pressured the state parole board for his release in an illegal private meeting.

Huckabee assured his audience in his candidacy announcement that he hasn’t changed even if he has more money. In the past he endorsed quarantining AIDS patients, condemned efforts to shield homosexuals from discrimination, and called for the death penalty to be imposed on big-time drug dealers. Being gay should be a criminal offense, he has argued. Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times, thinks Huckabee’s ideas haven’t changed:

“He’s got a penchant for sort of cheap-shot quips. He thinks a lot of himself. He thinks he can talk himself out of anything. The main thing I still marvel at is how many people think he’s a nice guy, because he’s got a real mean streak.”

Chuck Norris is still a strong Huckabee support, which may be a mixed blessing for the candidate. The actor has been highly visible recently in his declaration that the federal government is planning a military takeover of Texas in Jade Helm 15, a U.S. military training program.

Jon Stewart is definitely not a supporter of Huckabee—or of Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. A piece on The Daily Show supplements news footage about the most recent “crazies.” About Huckabee’s objection to the worshipping of “the false god of judicial supremacy,” Stewart commented, “Ah yes the false god of Judicial Supremacy, or as your founding father dinner-mates once called it, the constitutional rule of law.”

A year ago, Huckabee said that female political candidates should be put on a pedestal. We’ll see where he puts his competition now.

April 25, 2015

Presidential Campaign Updates

Three declared GOP presidential candidates and almost 20 others are jostling each other with insults and geometrically increasing extremist positions to make them stand out from the crowded field. Most of their speech time is spent condemning Hillary Clinton, the top Democratic candidate at this time, but this is what they have to say in their spare time. Just a peek at how they would act if they were elected President of the United States:

Ted Cruz: “Obama is a … socialist.” Conservatives think the word socialist—actually meaning public ownership of the means of production—is a term for “stuff Republicans don’t like.”  To Cruz, however, it must mean all-time high corporate profits and stock market with the big drop in unemployment based on private-sector jobs. Cruz’s complaint that “the top 1 percent in this country … earn a higher share of our national income than any time since 1928” must mean “an unmitigated socialist.”

Cruz has openly attacked his two declared opponents, Paul and Rubio, for not supporting the Second Amendment. As a blogger wrote, “Let the cannibalism begin.”

Last Wednesday, two wealthy gay business hoteliers, Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, arranged a fundraising dinner; Thursday Cruz rolled out his plan to make marriage equality illegal. The first proposed bill is pretty standard for a Republican: amend the U.S. Constitution to prevent same-sex marriage in any state that doesn’t want it. The second bill, however, is bizarre. It would ban any federal court from issuing a ruling related to marriage equality until the constitutional amendment passed. No mention was made of these proposed bills the night before, but Cruz did say, “If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much.” Reisner and Weiderpass both disavowed Cruz’s position, but they’re taking a lot of heat about the event from their customers.

In the House, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is introducing a bill to keep judges from hearing or deciding “any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, any type of marriage.” Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) has countered with a bill to restrain King from introducing bills and made a statement about King’s long record of outrageous racist and other inflammatory remarks–ending “anchor babies” and describing undocumented immigrants as having “calves the size of cantaloupes” because they were smuggling drugs.”

Cruz may have found his billionaire supporter in Wall Street hedge-fund magnate  Robert Mercer who made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market.  Oregonians remember Mercer as the man who bankrolled Art Robinson’s attempt to unseat Rep. Peter DeFazio. Robinson, known for his opposition to scientific viewpoints about evolution, AIDS, and nuclear waste, is now collecting urine samples from people across southeastern Oregon in an experiment about curing cancer.

With the highest percentage of missing votes in the Senate—10.4 percent—Cruz also skipped the vote on Loretta Lynch for Attorney General for a fundraiser in Texas. He also missed the vote on the Keystone Pipeline while fundraising in California. (Rubio is second in missed votes with 8.2 percent.)

Rand Paul: Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are President Obama’s “lapdogs,” said Paul in response to the two war hawks accusing Paul of naivete. from the two war hawks. McCain and Graham are actually contemptuous of the president’s foreign policy because he won’t attack more nations and start more wars: the president is more like Paul until as Paul advocates a huge increase in defense spending and more strikes against ISIL.

Paul is over 50 years old, but he still struts around in his shades trying to look “cool” with his shades. The inclusion of “Rand branded Raybans” in his campaign store, however breaks the law just as Paul’s plagiarism may have. The glasses are gone after a Rayban made a formal request that Paul remove the glasses from the store and “cease any further use of our trademarks.”

Paul’s revelation that he had found a Hillary Clinton scandal so terrible that her campaign would be wrecked fizzled after Peter Schweizer admitted that he had no proof for his allegations in his book, Clinton Cash. Now Paul is begging for information about Clinton scandals on his website and through Twitter.

Paul wants to terminate programs for the elderly such as Meals on Wheels and let old people depend on the “nobility of charity.” He also wants to destroy more federal agencies than Rick Perry did, eliminating all federal funding for education—even school lunches. Privatizing Medicare and Social Security also fits into his agenda.

Paul wrote the piece lauding the Koch brothers on Times’ 100 most influential list, praising their “generous philanthropic efforts” and their consistent lobbying “against special-interest politics.” The brothers developed the pledge “No Climate Tax” to combat climate change, signed by over 450 federal and state politicians including Rand Paul. Thirty-six of 48 Koch Industries lobbyists in 2013-2014 had held government jobs in the past. Here’s a partial list of the special-interest groups that receive millions from the Koch brothers. And they plan to donate almost $1 billion to elect a GOP president in 2016.

Marco Rubio: The $85 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler was not the “right way” for the federal government, but “our auto industry is important.” The bailout actually saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the industry bounced back. It was an effective action, but Rubio still thinks that the successful policy wasn’t “the right way to handle it.” Everyone can agree and disagree with Rubio’s statements because he takes both sides with the same breath.

A few other self-avowed “undeclareds”:

Mike Huckabee: “I might suggest to parents, I’d wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe ‘one nation under god’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country.” In other words, Huckabee is telling young people to not join the military in an attempt to weaken security for the United States.

Huckabee claims that the backlash to Indiana’s law permitting discrimination is proof that liberals hate all Christians. He also says that the upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality will be moot because “one branch of government does not overrule the other two.”

Bobby Jindal: Despite watching the debacles in other states attempting to legalize discriminatory “religious freedom” laws, Jindal wants one of his own. IBM has asked Jindal to change his position because the law creates a “hostile environment” in the state that is already in dire financial straits. Jindal refused and thinks he can solve his fiscal problems with an 82-percent cut for higher education. Louisiana is already in the top ten least educated states in the country and almost last in the annual education report card issued by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. College professors get about $16,000 less than the national average salary. Jindal explains his low approval rate—27 percent—by saying that it’s dropped by 15 to 20 points because he cut spending and took on the teacher unions. That was his campaign platform in a deep red state; he did exactly what he told the voters he would do.

Rick Santorum:  As president, the former senator would force children to read the Bible, force pregnant rape victims to give birth, stop birth control, and keep mothers at home. He thinks that people misunderstood the Crusades, Palestinians don’t exist, and President Obama wants a secular theocracy. It’s an oxymoron: theocracy is a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god, and  secular is not subject to or bound by religious rule.

Scott Walker: Wisconsin’s current governor is such a disaster that his actions require several books to explain, but, using Wisconsin as a model, the U.S. would get higher employment and deficits if Walker were president. From January 2011 to January 2015, Wisconsin was 35th in job growth, compared to a national average of 8.21 percent. (Other governors considering the White House have the same problem: Jindal’s Louisiana is 32nd, and Chris Christie’s New Jersey is 40th.) Walker, with a two-year deficit as high as $2 billion, has cut $300 million for higher education on top billions in previous education cuts. Without a college diploma, he may consider education to be superfluous. In his home state, his disapproval rate is 56 percent.

After the New York Times published an article accusing Hillary Clinton of exchanging favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation, Mitt Romney’s commented, “It looks like bribery.” He missed the facts. As Secretary of State, Clinton had nothing to do with the review of the Uranium One deal, and nine separate U.S. agencies, including departments of Treasury, Justice and Commerce, were part of the process. The donation to the Clinton Foundation occurred in early 2008, a year before Clinton became Secretary of State. As NBC news wrote, “[U]pon reflection, that Times article doesn’t hold up that well 24 hours after its publication.” All the discussion was on “perception” or “narratives.”

Deficits, high unemployment, lack of personal freedom, poor education, corruption, illegal activities, lying, bigotry, war—which one do you pick for president?

February 1, 2015

U.S. Closer to a Theocracy

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 4:12 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Evangelical candidates are circling the wagons, readying themselves for presidential candidates against attacking infidels. One prime fundamentalist Christian in this position, Mike Huckabee, has declared that no school shootings would occur if public schools provided Bible readings, daily prayers, religious assemblies, and “chapel services.” In the good old days—according to Huckabee—people brought Bibles to school, not guns “except for the deer hunters who left them in their trucks.” His big-government solution would use legislation to force religion on public school children in flagrant violation of the First Amendment.

Huckabee is missing a few facts. Gun violence in school occurred before the Supreme Court ruling on neutrality toward religion. Bibles aren’t prohibited in public schools. And the presence of Bibles doesn’t stop wrongdoing in hotel rooms, and people still steal money although it’s all been printed with “In God We Trust” since the 1950s.

If he were elected president, Huckabee said if he were elected president that he would have “God’s blessing” to fight the “secular theocracy” imposed by atheists. According to Huckabee, the United States needs to become a “God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God.”

Other wishful presidential candidates are trying to force their religious beliefs on U.S. citizens. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rally last weekend hosted, among others, the Christian Dominionists who believe that every part of everyone’s life, from politics to wearing apparel, should be directed by their religion. George W. Bush’s administration funneled billions to their cause and employed a large number of Dominionist believers. At the rally, Dominionist Gene Mills said, claimed that the rally was a vital part of the effort “to reclaim territory that rightfully belongs to God [because] these seven spheres of influence are under enemy occupation right now.”

Jindall wrote to 100,000 pastors stating that the event was to train “the men and women of Issachar.”

“There is a great need for the kind of leaders we read about in the Old Testament, ‘The Men of Issachar’ (1 Chronicles 12:32). We need such men and women of wisdom today who will accept the challenge to restore our Judeo-Christian heritage in America.”

US_ARMY_SANDWICH_BOARDChristian control is already in effect in the United States. The U.S. Army, funding for by U.S. taxpayers, is recruiting soldiers in Phoenix (AZ) in the name of a Christian god using graphics of shoulder tabs from the U.S. Special Forces: Green Berets, Rangers, Delta Force, Airborne, etc. Using the phrase “On a Mission for Both God and Country,” it follows other religious positions of the armed services such as the threat of “lockdown” if service members didn’t attend “Christian Rock” concerts, Trijicon riflescopes inscribed with New Testament Bible references, and the mandatory “Jesus Loves Nukes” indoctrination course to train USAD nuclear missile launch officers.

The mayor and city council of Winfield (AL) have declared that God the “owner” of their city by calling it a “City under God.” Their rationale is that they are no different from the coins that state “In God We Trust.” Mayor Randy Price said that the nation is an “awful condition” and that Winfield residents might become more religious if God owns the city.

Price justified their decision in a secret meeting by claiming that “our forefathers said ‘One Nation under God.’ ” These forefathers were Congressional members who added “One Nation under God” in 1954 to the Pledge of Allegiance—written by a Socialist in the 1890s. The Winfield ownership resolution:

 “Whereas we acknowledge God is the owner of the City of Winfield and that it is a City under God. We acknowledge that at all times, He is in control.

“Whereas, we acknowledge that through His leadership, the Mayor and City Council will seek his wisdom and knowledge to be good stewards of the city.

“Whereas, we acknowledge that though prayer, with His guidance and presence, that we will be able to trust that no problem will be too large or too small to overcome.

“Whereas, we acknowledge that the City of Winfield is where it is today because of God’s grace and mercy.

“Whereas, we acknowledge that at all times and in all circumstances, His will shall be done.

“Whereas, we acknowledge that to God be the glory.”

No one knows if the mayor and city council consulted God about his owning the town, but at least one Winfield resident said he was sending a complaint to the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). Price admitted that he might “step on a lot of people’s toes,” but he believes that  “there’s not but one God.”

Other governments are trying to establish theocracies. Oklahoma legislators have introduced a bill limiting marriage to only Christians and Jews—and only married by priests, ministers, rabbis, or ecclesiastical dignitaries. State Rep. Todd Russ said that the bill protects court clerks and other officials from being forced to participate in same-sex marriages. Todd said, “[People other than Christians and Jews] don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.” Oklahoma law doesn’t recognize common-law marriages.

Three Mississippi legislators, including one Democrat, have introduced bills to make the Bible “the state book.” State Rep. Tom Miles (D) said, “The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people. They could read in there about love and compassion.” Bills’ supporters claim that they aren’t trying to force religion on the rest of the state.

Missouri lawmaker Elijah Haahr (R) has devised a way for universities to get federal funding even if they ban LGBT organizations: just ban all LGBT people from belonging to groups based on the members’ religious beliefs.

“No Gays Allowed.” Virginia’s lawmaker Bob Marshall wants any provider of service in the state to have the right to post such a sign. Marshall has wanted to exclude LGBT people from the state National Guard and block a gay judge’s appointment because, according to Marshall, “sodomy is not a civil right.” Michigan and Mississippi have passed “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” that allow denial of service to anyone—pregnant women, people of another religion, etc. instead of just LGBT people. Over a dozen other states are moving in this direction in the 24 states controlled by both GOP legislators and governors.

Twenty-six percent of people in the United States—80 million people!—think that the God-favored team will win the Super Bowl. Twenty-seven percent of the nation’s sports fans have that belief, and another 53 percent of respondents to the survey think that God rewards faithful athletes with good health and success. Thirty-three percent of football fans pray for their team’s win, 31 percent think that God has cursed their team, and 25 percent perform pre-game or game-time rituals.

Proof to some of these believers is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the losing Green Bay Packers said, “I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome (of football games). He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.” The winning Seattle Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson, Seahawks quarterback, gave God full credit for the win. Devout Christian Tim Tebow wasn’t as lucky. The Patriots went to this year’s Super Bowl after they fired Tebow.

Maybe the religious faith in “the church of the NFL” is the reason that it doesn’t have to pay taxes—just like other churches. Would that happen to the people of the United States if it turns into a theocracy?

August 11, 2013

Leaders Who Give Religious Directions

Control in organized religion comes from self-appointed leaders who tell others how to behave and what to believe. A prime example is Mike Huckabee, who went from Baptist pastor to governor to presidential candidate and most recently to media star. In the past, In the past, Huckabee stuck to criticizing his own country, claiming that President Obama “grew up in Kenya,” falsely complaining about the “death panels” of Obamacare, going so far as to argue that the health care reform plan forced Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to commit suicide, and equating the national debt with the Nazi Holocaust. He’s also over the edge with his defamatory comments about LGBT community and relating the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to the lack of government-sponsored religion.

Last week, however, Huckabee attacked the Muslims, suggesting that Islamic teachings caused recent threats putting U.S. embassies on high alert during the religion’s holy month of Ramadan. “Can someone explain to me why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called ‘holiest days,'” Huckabee said. “You know, if you’ve kept up with the Middle East, you know that the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday.” Later he did justify his statements by saying he wasn’t referring to all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide when he called Muslims coming from the mosques as “uncorked animals.”

Imagine a nation that has a murder every 17 minutes, cities with higher murder rates than war-torn Iraq, a violent crime very 26.2 seconds and a property crime every 3.5 seconds, and a rape every every six minutes. Also a country where one in four women will be raped before graduating from college, and 97 percent of the rapists never spend one day in jail although 25 percent of the population is in prison. This country is the predominantly Christian United States.

The Huffington Post’s report noted “numerous factors that have made Friday the most popular day for protests, including the fact that most of the Muslim world gets the day off and frequently congregates in large communal areas to observe the day of prayer.”

Cathie Adams is another religious leader, who served as chair of the Texas Republican Party for the larger part of a year between 2009 and 2010. Before President Obama was elected for the second time, she called him a Marxist who “fried his brain on drugs” and said that watching him in the last debate made her “want to go up and just smack his face!”  Her current rants are directed toward immigration reform, accusing it of causing the End Times. A Senate proposal, now withdrawn, would require fingerprinting of people leaving the United States, a “biometric scanning” that Adams calls “the Mark of the Beast.”

The Catholics are known for having male religious leaders with “feet of clay.” The most recent addition is Monsignor Arthur Coyle, a top official in the Merrimack Valley area for the Archdiocese of Boston, who was arrested Sunday last Sunday, charged with soliciting a prostitute. Police report that he paid her $40 for oral sex. A month after Coyle was first stopped for suspected solicitation in Lowell, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and Pope Benedict XVI honored him by giving him the title of Prelate of Honor, a rank within the title of monsignor. O’Malley credited Coyle for “exemplary service” throughout his priesthood and said Coyle’s leadership as episcopal vicar would be “of great assistance” as the archdiocese moved ahead with plans to reorganize some parishes.

Catholics don’t believe in divorce, as Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, could know. Catholics see marriage as a duty and institution, not as an expression of love, which is why the church leadership denounces same-sex marriage. As Donohue said, “The whole purpose of marriage is to have a family. It’s not about making people happy. It’s not about love.” Donohue is a divorced father of two.

Bill O’Reilly is not a church leader, per se, but his position on the Fox network allows him to preach to millions of people. Anti-contraception and pro-abstinence, O’Reilly tried to get his ex-wife ex-communicated from the Catholic Church for remarrying, considered “adultery” by church teachings. Yet his sexual pursuit of coworker Andrea Mackis in 2004 was so severe that she sued him for sexual harassment. O’Reilly settled out of court.

After his relationships with men and use of meth, married evangelical minister Ted Haggard went to claiming he was bi-sexual and then back to heterosexual. While in “recovery,” he lived off donations. Now absorbed into the evangelical fold as a pastor, he thinks that biblical teachers are against marriage equality but believes that the state should allow it.

Many of us watched Newt Gingrich run for president last year after the evangelicals accepted his apology for his transgressions. He secretly dated his high school geometry teacher and then married her. When she was in the hospital with uterine cancer surgery, Gingrich said he wanted to be free to marry his girlfriend. On Mothers Day in 1999, he told his second wife he was divorcing her after discovering that she had MS. He had asked her for an “open marriage” to continue a relationship with his mistress who later became his third wife. Six months before his second divorce request, Gingrich was a leading advocate for President Clinton’s impeachment because of a sexual liaison.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) has just kicked off a campaign for his third term. Court transcripts show that he admitted under oath to eight affairs, pressured a lover to get an abortion, and used a gun to intimidate his first wife during an argument. According to testimony, the medical doctor and his ex-wife agreed for her to seek two abortions, one of them because the pregnancy didn’t happen at the right time and the other because they weren’t getting along. DesJarlais was also reprimanded and fined by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners in May for having sex with patients. He’s running as a “family values” candidate highly opposed to abortion. He could get re-elected: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and  Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) have.

Religion has used the ex-gay groups to convert LGBT people into the straight mode. A major force in the 1990s for the “cure” through prayer and therapy, John Paulk finally gave up after he shown to be in a gay bar in 2000. Fading from public notice, he has reappeared in Portland (OR), trying to publicize his catering business with the LGBT community. They are less than impressed with their new entrepreneur. Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, thinks an apology is not enough for redemption from Love Won Out’s former spokesman. Another gay man, Terry Bean, talked about the damage that Paulk did in his ministry and the number of teenagers who killed themselves because of Paulk’s former leadership.

My nomination for the worst Christian “leader,” however, is Ronald William Brown of Largo (FL) who had a successful Christian children’s show, Joy Junction, to warn kids about the horrors of pornography until he was arrested for possessing child pornogrphy. His puppet show that presents his anti-porno message is truly creepy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by lifetime probation. Brown was also allegedly involved with Michael Arnett, whom he met through the Gulf Coast Church, to kidnap, cook, and eat a child. They had even picked out the child.

Brown says that he hadn’t intended to carry through his sick fantasies. On an Internet chat, however, he wrote, “I imagine him wiggling and then going still.” He also used the Internet to solicit images of dead children from people with similar fantasies. The website for Gulf Coast Church states, “Get out of the ordinary and try something new.”

Polls show that younger people are becoming more and more religiously progressive than the seniors. Conservatives have high hopes that youth will switch to conservative policies as they age. With hypocritical leaders like these, that may not happen.

January 11, 2013

Wacky Friday – January 11, 2013

Here’s a sampling of craziness during the past week. Reading these, you might ask yourselves how many of these people should be added to the national list of mentally ill people that NRA thinks will solve all our guns problems.

The “We the People” petition system requires a White House response to any petition that gets at least 25,000 signatures. There were several states that achieved over that number to secede from the United States, and over 25,000 signed the one to deport Piers Morgan because he advocated gun control. A remarkable petition with 34,435 signatures was a request for the country to build a Death Star. According to Wikipedia, “the Death Star (officially the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station) is a fictional moon-sized spacestation and superweapon appearing in the Star Wars movies and expanded universe … capable of destroying a planet with a single destructive energy beam.”

death-star-510

The White House, because of its promise, issued a response from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, entitled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For.” One reason is that a Death Star would cost $852,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s $852 quadrillion). He also noted that ”the Administration does not support blowing up planets” and pointed out that it would be foolhardy to build a space station “with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.” He also explained what the country is actually doing right now.

This past week Fox News host Eric Bolling explained that schools are “pushing the liberal agenda” by teaching an algebra about the distributive property as it applies to multiplication. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said that the algebra worksheet had put her on “high alert” for the liberal agenda in her 6-year-old son’s curriculum. According to algebra.help, “The Distributive Property is an algebra property which is used to multiply a single term and two or more terms inside a set of parentheses.”

Co-host Greg Gutfeld added to the myth of liberal education: “I think the only way leftism can survive is through indoctrination because its number one adversary is reality. So you got to get them young and it’s perfect for kids. Paul Krugman’s logic is child’s play: Share your stuff… A lot of this comes from the teachers. They get their news from The Huffington Post and their antiperspirant from a health food store. This is the way they live.”

Bolling complained about the liberal bias in his son’s textbook: “George Bush went in there [Iraq] because he heard there were weapons of mass destruction and they were never found.” Almost a decade after Bush declared war, Fox News still hasn’t gotten the news. Then Gutfeld said, “There are science teachers that if they hear that if a student is questioning, like, any kind of climate change thing, they just, like, think you’re an idiot.” It’s encouraging that their children may grow up smarter than their parents because of education.

Gutfeld has other misconceptions, for example, “The biggest myth of all time is that sweatshops are bad. Sweatshops for an emerging economy are for workers with no skills. And then over time, the country moves away from it.” Fox is known for repeating “the biggest myth”: an excellent example comes from Bill O’Reilly in 2005 when he said that “the biggest myth in the world” was that the U.S. lost the Vietnam War. But O’Reilly is known for his offensive comments, for example:  “Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working.”

When rumors that Susan Rice might be appointed to President Obama’s cabinet hit Washington, the GOP went ballistic. After the dust settled and the president appointed men for three open positions, he was criticized for selecting all white men. Mike Huckabee is really making hay of the situation, accusing the president of waging his own “war on women” by not appointing more women to top administration posts. According to Huckabee, Obama used charges of a Republican “war on women” and promises of “contraceptives and free abortions” to get women to vote for him, but “never promised women would have seats of significance at the table of power.” The New York Times reported that 43 percent of the president’s appointees have been women, more than George W. Bush appointed.

Huckabee might have a point, but we also need to consider the source. This is the man who stood by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) who defined “legitimate rape.” This is the man who opposes abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. This is the man who justified the deaths of six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School with 20 six- and seven-year-olds by saying, “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability?”  This is the man who fought Obamacare with its provisions for women’s reproductive care.

And Huckabee is the person who falsely claimed that President Obama grew up in Kenya: “If you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

Akin may be gone, but Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) is carrying his “legitimate rape” banner in the 113th Congress. Gingrey said that when Akin said that the woman’s body had a way of shutting down in a “legitimate rape,” that he’s partly right on that.” He continued with her fertility advice: “Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.” He also pointed out that he had been an OB-GYN since 1975. When he was approached about his comments, he retracted them: “I do not defend, nor do I stand by, the remarks made by Rep. Akin and Mr. Mourdock.” I just hope that couples didn’t pay a lot of money for his fertility expertise.

I’m guessing that Donald Trump is just looking for publicity when he threatens to sue Bill Maher. When Maher appeared on Jay Leno last Monday, he said he would give Trump $5 million if he could prove that the guy with all the hair wasn’t the son of an orangutan. The sum is the same that Trump offered to the president to show his college records. Trump sent his birth certificate and wants his money. He said, “If he doesn’t give me the money, we’ll probably sue him.”

My favorite wacky idea of the week is the platinum coin. The GOP claims that it will let the country default on its payments at the end of February if the Dems don’t take money away from the poor and middle class, particularly the elderly. The Dems say they won’t. In the middle is an obscure law that allows the Treasury to issue platinum coins of any denomination. Floating in the blogosphere is the idea that a $1 trillion platinum coin could finance the budget for the coming year. The GOP is so panicky that Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) wants a law to prohibit this.

Even sane people, such as writers for The Economist, like the idea. Unlike bank notes, coins are liabilities of the Treasury and don’t become part of the monetary base until they are spent. The expansion would then be gradual while the Fed retains control of interest rates and therefore of inflation. The political problem would violate the Congressional debt ceiling.

As The Economist concludes, “In any case, the idea is just too weird to be taken seriously. When the answer to America’s debt problems is something that could be lost down the back of a sofa, it’s no answer at all.” That doesn’t stop Walden from trying to pass a law against it!

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