Nel's New Day

November 7, 2021

Moscow (ID), a Template for Theocracy

Christ’s Church in Moscow (ID) may be a template for the evangelical attempt to take over the United States for a theocracy; it even has the goal “to make Moscow a Christian town” by taking over the town of at least 24,000 population. Behaving like the biblical version of Jesus might not be a huge problem, but Christ’s Church opposes secular government, browbeats perceived opponents, harasses elected officials regarding COVID restrictions, and takes over land and businesses to transform the nation into following its ultra-conservative moral ideology.  

Controversies began with Douglas Wilson, the church’s founder and pastor, and has continued with his son who threatens political violence. YouTube removed Wilson’s blogpost “A Biblical Defense of Fake Vaccine IDs,” based on the conspiracy theory that the vaccine is President Joe Biden’s “power play. He also urged readers to “resist openly” in the civil war because it is not “rebellion against lawful authority” but “an example of a free people refusing to go along with their own enslavement.” The church has grown to about 2,000 since its founding in the 1990s and draws people to the area with the hope that northern Idaho will become a conservative fortification against U.S. modernity.

Sexual abuse and theological subordination of women: In 2005, Wilson asked a judge to be lenient in the case of a former student at a Christ Church-aligned college who was convicted of sex offenses involving children. Wilson married the student in 2010 who Wilson met through a then-Christ Church elder and now pastor in Colville (WA).

Slavery: In the 1990s, Wilson co-wrote the book Southern Slavery As It Was with the co-founder of the neo-Confederate organization the League of the South. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2004/doug-wilson%E2%80%99s-religious-empire-expanding-northwest    A year ago, Wilson distributed flyers on at the University of Idaho at Moscow advertising an upcoming conference featuring himself and his co-author, Stephen Wilkins. The flyer included excerpted “highlights” of the book:

  • “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.”
  • “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. …
  • “Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.”

Theocracy: Wilson’s 2016 book describes the church’s aim as “a network of nations bound together by a formal acknowledgement of the lordship of Jesus Christ,” as opposed to secular society ruled by “civil governments, [which] are in necessary degrees satanic, demonic, and influenced by the god of this world, who is the devil.”

Non-profit abilities: Christ Church doesn’t need to report income and maintains tax-free status, and Wilson has developed a profitable network of educational institutions, publishing houses, churches, and national associations that he founded and controls with a small group of men, many of them from his own family, that exert power in both his organization and Moscow. For example, the town’s New Saint Andrews College (NSAC) has Wilson, his son-in-law, and his pastor on the board of trustees; another of Wilson’s son-in-laws is college president. Wilson and his son Douglas are on the faculty along with Wilson’s brother, who believes the world was created in seven days, as senior fellow of natural history. These college employees draw salaries.

Town influence: A founding director and former trustee at NSAC, Andrew Crapuchettes, was CEO of Moscow’s largest private employer, EMSI, for over 19 years until the company was sold in June 2021 to become EMSI Burning Glass. The company, announced by Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) as Idaho Small Business of the Month for July 2021, provides labor market data for education. EMSI employees 55 NSAC graduates of the total 635 people since its founding in 1994. The COO/CFO at EMSI is a Christ Church elder and a teaching elder at the church’s suburban offshoot church, and Wilson’s son-in-law, the NSAC trustee, is EMSI’s executive VP of higher education. Crapuchette has started an employment website for church run or founded organizations and companies belonging to other church members. He also expanded into property development and gained legal “annexation” of 27 acres of land on Moscow’s south-western edge for a new, 109-unit subdivision, Edington.

Wilson’s ideas about slavery came from theologian Gregg Singer who rediscovered writings of Civil War Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s chaplain, Robert L. Dabney, in the 1960s. Singer joined another far-right theologian, Rousas John Rushdoony, to develop the view of the pre-Civil War South as a religiously ordered society overtaken by rationalist and anti-religious thought. The theologians used Dabney’s work which described Blacks as a “morally inferior race, a “sordid, alien taint” marked by “lying, theft, drunkenness, laziness, waste”—lies to opposed the Civil Rights movement. Rushdooney’s book Institutes of Biblical Law, established him as the founding thinker of Christian Reconstruction, a “reconstructed” society following the Old Testament. Equality has no place in Rushdoony’s society of classes with differing rights.

Rushdooney’s strategy planned the development of Christian homeschooling and private schools to train a generation that would follow his guidelines. His influence led to the collaboration between “orthodox Christians” and “Confederate nationalists,” and Wilson’s Logos School, a private Christian academy in Moscow, follows Rushdooney’s plan. Logos is now one of 165 “classical schools” teaching students Greek and Latin in the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, also founded by Wilson. Thousands of students order their books from Wilson’s Canon Press which publishes and sells 31 titles. Graduates from a three-year training program in the 20 churches in the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CRE), another of Wilson’s inventions, must promise to engage in “cultural reformation”; they have started several churches around the country. Rushdooney and Dabney are considered foundational thinkers like Plato and Aristotle at Wilson’s college NSAC.

In Alabama, college professor Michael Hill founded the League of the South with Wilkins. The organization called for a second Southern secession to create the “revitalization of general European hegemony” in the South. People would be welcome in his new South only if they obeyed Hill’s religious rules, including its “Anglo-Celtic” nature. His ideas all followed those of Rushdoony. The group now has 15,000 members in 87 chapters throughout 16 states.

Wilson tries to maintain he isn’t a Christian Reconstructionist and the movement is “dead,” but his theology is almost identical to Reconstruction. He and Wilkins have been instrumental in building the neo-Confederate theology far beyond pro-slavery. Some of these positions:

The goal is “the overthrow of unbelief and secularism.”

Children are “foul—unclean” if “neither parent believes in Jesus Christ.”

“Government schools” are godless propaganda factories.

Woman “was created to be dependent and responsive to a man.” They should be allowed to date or “court” only with their father’s permission and then Christians with other Christians.

A rapist should pay the father of his victim a bride price and then marry her with her father’s permission.

Gay men and lesbians are “sodomites” and should be exiled.

Cursing parents is “deserving of punishment by death.”

Christian parents “need not be afraid to lay it on” when spanking and used for children as young as two years old for such “sins” as whining.

Other evangelicals follow the pattern set up in Moscow (ID), according to a new study from Public Religion Research Institute. A growing number of other religious and non-religious people in the U.S. want the United States to be a place where people follow diverse faiths, but 57 percent of white evangelical Christians want them to be only Christians. The values of Islam are at odds with U.S. values and ways of life, according to 75 percent of white evangelicals. In opposition to minorities, white people in other religions, and non-Christians, only 47 percent of white evangelicals want undocumented people to find a path to citizenship. Almost as many want to see them deported. A large majority of white evangelicals, 60 percent, also think that the election was stolen, and one-fourth of that religious group are QAnon followers. Also 26 percent of them want violence to “save the country.”

The number of evangelicals may be shrinking because of COVID. Only 45 percent of white evangelicals say they will definitely or probably not get the vaccine, compared to 90 percent of atheists and 77 percent of Catholics.

September 26, 2021

Evangelism: The Newest U.S. Political Party

In the 18th century, the Christian evangelical movement began in Britain and the United States as a movement of conservative Christians. For almost two centuries, the evangelicals had beliefs such as being born again and avoiding politics. Their goal was to rule heaven, not secular government. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, however, the evangelicals decided to join business to control the U.S. government, and almost a half century later white evangelicals have stopped being a religion and developed their own political party.

The evangelical platform includes anti-immigration and anti-science but blocks any discussions of racism. Between DDT’s election in 2016 and his loss in 2020, 16 percent of people not identifying as evangelical and not voting for DDT reversed these positions. In 2020, 18 percent of white evangelical voters voting for DDT were converts to him after not supporting DDT in 2016. Although the majority of people blame the January 6 insurrection attempt was by white supremacist groups, 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants blame liberal left-wing groups such as antifa, and 68 percent of white evangelicals believe DDT is a “true patriot.”

To pastors in the Mercy Culture Church, the U.S. belongs to God, and the Lord claims that 2021 is the “Year of the Supernatural” when believers wage “spiritual warfare” to advance God’s kingdom. In this nondenominational political engine of DDT’s GOP, leaders are called apostles and prophets in publishing empires, prayer networks, TV programs, podcasts, and merchandizing. Demons and miracles are real as civilization has only two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, evangelical-based education, and laws blocking the rights of everyone except the believers. As mainline denominations shrank since the 1980s, nondenominational groups grew to ten percent in 2020 though the recent New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).

In dominionism, a sociological approach to attract members, God commands Christians to assert authority over the “seven mountains” of life: family, religion, education, economy, arts, media and government/ With success, Jesus Christ returns and God reigns for eternity. The new expansion comes from DDT’s network of NAR-style leaders who made him God’s chosen president. Evangelical voters are no longer older Southern Baptists in wooden pews but younger extremists firing up the Great Awakening with an epicenter in Texas.

These white evangelicals have joined other Republicans as the defenders of lawlessness and disorder, a system which employs the law only for them and uses courts to protect their personal interests while intimidating opponents. Their new laws control women through a “legal” vigilante style and distorted language. The term “protect life” is used for fetuses but not for protection from disease, guns, and other violence. “Integrity” in election law means eliminating the voting rights for anyone considered undesirable voters, specifically non-conservatives. “Court packing” means having bipartisan judges but doesn’t refer to the GOP “packing” of conservatives in all the U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court, in the past four years. Judicial activism refers only to positions opposed by conservatives.

In July, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) demonstrated the religious need to control women during a confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee for Hampton Dellinger, Biden’s appointment as assistant attorney general in the DOJ Office of Legal Policy. When Dellinger, a devout Catholic, said GOP men are the driving force behind abortion restrictions, he offended Kennedy, who asked:

“Do you think that my votes with respect to abortion are based on the fact that I want to control women?”

Dellinger said he could not “speak to that,” and Kennedy asked Dellinger why he said that “in front of God and country.” The exchange continued, and Kennedy asked, “Do you believe in God?” Dellinger said he had “faith,” and Kennedy asked:

“A lot of people have faith. Did it ever occur to you that some people may base their position on abortion on their faith?”

Kennedy outright stated the GOP opposition to women’s right to choose comes from Republicans’ religion and their refusal to permit women to determine their personal reproductive health care—all violating the First Amendment as well as the constitution’s Article VI, mandating “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It was the same Article VI Kennedy used three years earlier in complaining about a question for Supreme Court justice candidate Amy Coney Barrett about whether her extremist Catholic faith would interfere with fairness as a jurist.

Evangelicals may claim to be religious, but they are far less moral than those in the secular population. In June, 14 percent of the U.S. population said they will not be vaccinated under any conditions, but among white evangelicals Christians, the number was over 50 percent higher at 22 percent, the highest of any demographic group. As the percentage of vaccinations increased since then, refusals remained high among white evangelicals as right-wing, white supremacist political figures spread disinformation and “suspicion of science.” Evangelicals assume they won’t contract the disease and feel no need to protect the lives of anyone else, even those close to them. They have no need to block, or even slow down, the pandemic, therefore causing it to surge throughout the nation.

Data shows that human activity is destroying the world through wildfires, floods, melting glaciers, polluted water and air, worse hurricanes, rising sea levels, etc. Over 80 percent of secular people in the U.S. accept evidence for this catastrophe and make its change at the top of their priorities. Only 33 percent of white evangelicals take responsibility for climate change. Secular people are far more likely to oppose gun violence, government use of torture, and corporal punishment while supporting refugee assistance, affordable health care for all, LGBTQ rights, etc.

Project Blitz, a secret Christian white supremacist “bill mill” to create a female-controlling theocracy in the U.S., begins with innocent-seeming bills such as mandating schools display the national motto, “In God We Trust.” Its exposé in 2018 drove the project underground, but proposed bills continue to emerge, including those to criminalize librarians and teachers for using “age-inappropriate sexual materials.”

For example, Tennessee’s “Moms for Liberty” demand that the Williamson County School District ban a book because its watercolor illustrations of “seahorses is too sexy.” A book about Johnny Appleseed, the folklore hero traveling the Midwest and planting apple trees, is “sad and dark.” A book about hurricanes should be eliminated because “first grade is too young to hear about possible devastating effects of hurricanes.” And a fifth-grade novel about the Civil War includes “out of marriage families between white men and black women” and depicts “white people as ‘bad’ or ‘evil.’” The group recommends removing 31 books or placing them at a higher level—seahorses touching tales in Seahorses: The Shyest Fish in the Sea, published in 2006, might work for 8th grade, according to the misnamed “Moms for Liberty.” 

The same forces behind Project Blitz has other legislative agendas: anti-trans youth legislation, religious exemptions to COVID-related public health protections, broad denial-of-care bills, and bills that undermine abortion access. The push for religious exemptions has the biggest traction and the broadest effect, especially with its attacks on contraception, child labor laws, etc. Another “blitz” focus is against the so-called “critical race theory” with efforts in 27 states to block education related to racism, contributions of different racial and ethnic groups in American history, and related topics.

Rachel Laser, president of Americans United For Separation of Church and State, said:

“White Christian nationalism is the belief that America is and must remain a Christian nation founded for its white Christian inhabitants, and that our laws and policies must reflect this premise,” she said. “They completely reject church-state separation. White Christian nationalists oppose equality for people of color, women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and the nonreligious.”

Former evangelical Valerie Talrico lists ten thought patterns developed by its fundamentalism:

  • All or nothing: any sin can send people to hell; people are either saved or damned.  
  • Good guys and bad guys: people are in one of two mental boxes, and they are either for us or against us.  
  • Never feeling good enough:
  • Hyperactive guilt detection: in a world of should and should-nots leaves one with a constant sense of guilt from the smallest failing.  
  • Sexual hangups: sexual sins—meaning pleasures—are the worst.  
  • Living for the future: all life must be focused on the future instead of the moment because only heaven has value.
  • Bracing for an apocalypse: the impending doom of nuclear disaster, pandemic, etc. keeps people driven instead of the sense of curiosity and discovery.  
  • Idealizing leaders: demagogues and authoritarians exuding confidence about what is right and how to solve problems prey on all fears reinforce the sense that everyone who doesn’t share a person’s worldview must be extinguished because they are evil. 
  • Desperately seeking simplicity: the lack of multi-dimensional nuance and moral ambiguity reinforced frustration of differences among people and coping with problems that have no right answers. 
  • Intrusive what-ifs: nagging doubts lead to people second-guessing themselves and making them believe they are wrong even if they aren’t.

The increasing polarization of the United States matches almost all the characteristics developed in evangelicals.

November 27, 2020

DDT: Week 201 – A Time of Contrasts

In a CNN op-ed on Thanksgiving Day, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill, in a CNN op-ed, thanked people who keep the nation functioning during the pandemic:

“We are grateful for the frontline workers who have never stopped showing up over these long and confusing months, making sure our food is harvested and shipped, keeping our grocery stores stocked, picking up our trash, and keeping our cities and towns safe.

“We are grateful for the health care workers who put in long shifts and isolate themselves from their loved ones, the nurses who comfort and help people say one last goodbye, and the doctors who fight for every breath.

“We are grateful for the educators who learned to teach in virtual classrooms almost overnight, who did extra work to reach families without technology, or who took late-night phone calls from parents on the verge of tears.

“We are grateful for the parents who have carried their families through the chaos, working or searching for a job, navigating childcare and remote learning.

“We are grateful for the researchers and scientists who have spent this year learning everything they can to understand how to fight this pandemic and working tirelessly to find a vaccine and therapeutics.”

On Thanksgiving Day, in the midst of ranting tweets, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) held a press conference, the first time he has taken questions since his defeat. He claimed proof for election fraud is people voting for Biden. Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked DDT if he would concede to Biden, and DDT shouted, “Don’t talk to me that way! I’m the president of the United States.” For the first time, he declared he would leave the White House if the Electoral College selects Biden.

DDT paid Wisconsin $3 million for recounts in two counties. One of them, Milwaukee, announced Biden picked up another 132 votes in the recount. About 65 percent finished, Dane County will be done by the state’s certification of ten electoral votes for Biden on Tuesday. DDT still wants to throw out over 238,000 ballots in the two counties.

Unable to win lawsuits to stop voting and certification, DDT tries to decertify existing certifications. He failed in Pennsylvania this morning when a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court rejected the case, writing, “Calling an election unfair does not make it so.” Like the other almost 40 rejections to DDT’s arguments, the ruling determined lawyers had no “specific allegations and … proof.” A DDT-appointed judge wrote the opinion. Jenna Ellis, DDT’s lawyer, wrote, “On to SCOTUS!” Biden won the state’s 20 electoral votes by an 80,000 majority.

A Commonwealth court uncertified Pennsylvania’s certified votes until an evidentiary hearing in the case. The same court has rejected GOP arguments two other times. GOP Rep. Mike Kelly challenged 2.5 million mail-in ballots, accusing the state legislature of constitutionally expanding the process. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman pointed out that lack of certification would eliminate “down-ballot elections”:  

“If [votes are] not certified, we don’t have a House or have our state Senate, and those are controlled by Republicans. So they’re literally trying to make the argument that there was fraud with Joe Biden’s race but my race, there was no fraud in that race. So there’s absolutely no basis in reality, but that’s never stopped them from lying.”

Fetterman said Pennsylvania found only two cases of voter fraud, both from Republicans who tried “to vote for Trump with their relatives, whether they were dead or living.” The Pennsylvania GOP legislature approved mail-in voting over a year ago, but no one objected because they thought it could favor the Republicans.

With QAnon queen Sidney Powell as lawyer, Michigan electors and local GOP officials are using her conspiracy theories against Biden in a federal court case. On Monday, Michigan certified the win for Biden. and Powell’s arguments have already been ruled “not credible” by a Wayne County judge. The lawsuit also demands voting machine and software be impounded for inspection. Powell, dropped by DDT’s campaign, also filed a wacko lawsuit in Georgia with both filings marked by inaccurate spelling. Losing in Pennsylvania, she’s heading to Arizona with allegations already rejected in a court case there.  

Rudy Giuliani receives $20,000 a day for his inept lawyering, but Powell asks for the checks to be made out to her personally. She set up her website on November 11, the day after she appeared on Fox’s Lou Dobbs Show.

DDT had a busy week, at least for him, with two major appearances last Tuesday—each about a minute. One of them was the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkeys, this year named Corn and Cob. Hailing from Iowa, the turkeys are returning to their home state after a time in a luxury hotel. He was kinder to these than Carrot two years ago when he ridiculed Carrots for losing the count and refusing to “concede.” Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman have a great piece on how DDT had expected his time in the Oval Office to be “a rolling turkey pardon.”

DDT’s bad relationship with birds doesn’t seem to have improved since before his inauguration. Over five years ago, Time’s cover story, “The Donald Has Landed,” featured a photo of him and “Uncle Sam” who evidently didn’t approve of bigots and demagogues. Footage for the photo shoot.

Before Michael Flynn’s ruling, DDT pardoned him. DDT fired Flynn for lying to VP Mike Pence, and Flynn pled guilty to lying twice to the FBI about promising Russia in secret conversations before the inauguration that DDT would remove Russian sanctions. Flynn also secretly worked with Turkey. QAnon members are upset because the pardon means “guilt” when they want “exoneration.”

Still struggling to win by disenfranchising millions of voters, DDT called an informal meeting of Pennsylvania legislators at Gettysburg (PA) despite the state’s formal certification of 20 electoral votes. DDT originally meant to appear in person, but his legal team leader, Rudy Giuliani has again been exposed to COVID-19. Giuliani appeared with the group, most of them not wearing masks.

DDT’s conservative Supreme Court increased the rate of infections and deaths from COVID-19 by agreeing with New York religious organizations claiming they were illegally targeted by virus restrictions. In the 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts joined the three progressive justices, writing:

“It is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic.”

Roberts also noted restrictions were already eased, eliminating the need for court intervention. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was alive, Roberts’ vote created a majority to treat religious groups the same as others. Justice Sonia Sotomayor added the state treated churches equally or more favorably when compared with other groups; thus it did not discriminate. Cuomo increased restrictions because some religious groups turned areas into “hot spots” of spiking coronavirus cases. Changes were temporary, based on numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In a tweet, Joyce Vance, a federal prosecutor for 25 years, addressed the majority of justices who elevated Christian and Jewish beliefs over public health officials and state laws for other groups:

“Your religious views now give you the right to withhold the services of your business from people whose ‘lifestyle’ you disagree with, withhold healthcare from women & attend superspreader events that let you infect your neighbors with a deadly virus.”

After DDT demanded churches open last summer, the virus surged across areas in which religious groups refused to take precautions. The disease hits not only the people within the church but also others throughout the community as church members become superspreaders. For example, 12 deaths and 213 cases are connected to events at the Charlotte (NC) United House of Prayer for All People earlier this year, and 11 buses brought people for another superspreader event two weeks ago to further spread disease. 

War in the Middle East could add to DDT’s death toll. For the third time in 18 months, he sent several heavy bombers to the Middle East threatening Iran after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s secret meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed ben Salam. Pompeo was supposedly on a diplomatic mission. The last threat was when DDT used an airstrike to assassinate top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. DDT’s “maximum pressure” against Iran led to more nuclear material at higher levels of enrichment. Within the next 54 days before he leaves the Oval Office, DDT plans far more sanctions and “covert actions” against Iran to sabotage Biden’s efforts to rejoin the anti-nuclear deal.

DDT may have killed 33 unaccompanied Guatemalan children by deporting them after a judge ordered them to stop a deportation. Agency officials claimed they didn’t know about the order until the plane landed in Guatemala, but they didn’t bring them back. DDT’s administration claims it’s protecting the public during the pandemic, but the permission for unlimited church gatherings shows no protection from the virus. Coronavirus cases and deaths per capita in Guatemala are far fewer than in the U.S.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has lost another member, Lamar Alexander (TN) to a COVID-19 infection, but McConnell keeps punishing people. He plans a pay freeze for all civilian federal workers in the spending package required to keep the government open after December 11.

May 12, 2019

Evangelical Christians, Radical Zionists Demonstrate Sociopathic Behavior

For almost a century, evangelical Christians believed that their religion should not be involved in politics. But their growing connection with the corporations fighting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal came to a head when they found Ronald Reagan as a puppet for their takeover of the United States. The mission of fundamentalist Christians is the same as ISIS—to take rights from anyone who disagrees with them, if necessary by violence. The evangelical coalition with white supremacists means attacks on immigrants, sometimes any people of color. Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, talked about how conservative Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s with “pro-life,” only for fetuses, and opposition to LGBTQ marriage. When “theology fell to the background,” evangelical Christianity moved to hatred and abuse, emblematic of sociopathy.

According to Tim Rymel, Psychology Today listed 16 characteristics of sociopathic behaviors: “untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).”

Church leaders and followers display these sociopathic characteristics. Franklin Graham, evangelist Billy Graham’s son, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue” in a callous attitude toward immigrants. Lev. 19:33-34 and Mark 12:30-31 show that caring for asylum seekers is indeed a “Bible issue.” Graham treats tragic casualties in war-torn countries where immigrants try to flee with the same heartless approach.

After the terrorist attack on a Florida gay nightclub killed over 50 people, Pastor Roger Jimenez of Sacramento’s Verity Baptist Church said:

“The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is—I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!”

Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, wrote a blog titled “Giving Your Child to the Devil”:

“Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.”

She quoted Matthew 10:37:

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Her blog was a justification for rejecting her gay son; she posted these comment on his wedding day.

On this spring’s National Day of Prayer, the personal pastor of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), Paula White-Cain, called him a biblical prophet and declared she cast off White House demons on the same day that DDT released regulations allowing healthcare workers to deny anyone care because of personal opinions.

DDT is choosing high-level officials to put the United States under evangelical Christian control. Former AG Jeff Sessions seemed like a major danger to the nation’s First Amendment, but his proposals were minor compared to those of the new AG, Bill Barr, who believes that his duty is to enforce god’s laws. According to Barr, there is no place in the nation for the abomination of secularism. He wrote that the government must impose “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that flows from God’s eternal law,” an eternal law best dictated by the Vatican and taught in public schools at taxpayer’s expense. Those moral edicts do, however, permit DDT’s criminality and corruption.

As the epitome of religious fanaticism, Barr blames all problems—divorce, crime, sexually-transmitted diseases, etc.—on “the federal government’s non-stop attacks on traditional religious values.” Barr demands taxpayer-funded religious instruction in Catholicism throughout public schools and calls for legislation to promote Vatican edicts to “restrain sexual immorality,” meaning bans on homosexuality, extramarital sex, and “artificial” birth control. Equality for LGBTQ people is determental to Barr:

“[Equality] dissolves any form of moral consensus in society. There can be no consensus based on moral views in the country, only enforced neutrality.”

“Enforced neutrality” is defined by Barr as the guarantee of equal rights for all people in the United States by the U.S. Constitution. And he runs the Department of “Justice” so that he can control everyone.

In his new mandate, Pope Francis similarly ignores the needs of his people. His recent church law requires clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups to be reported to church authorities, some of whom are the abusers, but not to the police. It’s a system that’s failed for centuries. Only a few bishops and religious superiors, accountable only to the pope, have been sanctioned or removed for sex abuse or cover-up. Theodore McCarrick, an example of how the pope’s new law can be corrupted, rose to the top of Catholic hierarchy while the Vatican received credible allegations of sexual misconduct with adults against him. He was defrocked only after the discovery that he also sexually abused minors.

The young man who shot and killed one person and wounded two others in the Poway (CA) synagogue was an evangelical who wanted to glorify God. He was a member of Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church created to counter the mainstream Presbyterian denomination, and his father was an elder in the church. The young man’s manifesto delivered “a frighteningly clear articulation of Christian theology,” according to a pastor in another evangelical denomination sharing beliefs with the Escondido church who said that the shooter was following much of what he was told in his church.

Sociopathic behavior among religious people isn’t limited to evangelical Christians. Like many Christians, Zionism, the radical political arm of the Jewish religion, has gone overboard in victimization if they don’t get everything they want. All Palestinian support is anti-Semitic, according to Zionists who have pushed people into sending death threats to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after DDT gave Palestinian and Syrian land to Israel and U.S. Jews swore their first allegiance to Israel instead of the U.S. Even Democrats damned Omar for talking about the “Benjamins” that support Israeli interests in U.S. lawmaking, but hardliner Israeli supporter do exactly that when they declare taking over other countries’ lands is their biblical right. Republicans’ attempt at a resolution against hate speech was restricted only to anti-Semitism.

A high level of sociopathic behavior exhibited  in the 2016 election only increased since then. Once upon a time, James Dobson said that “character does matter” when he referred to Bill Clinton. Regarding his strong support for DDT, Dobson said, “I’m not under any illusions that he is an outstanding moral example. It’s a cliché but true: We are electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief.”

One megachurch evangelical pastor, Dave Gass, decided to leave his church and dump his Christian faith because “the supernatural interactions between the deity of the Bible and mankind sounded like ancient mythology.” He added that his Christian belief didn’t help or save his marriage, “a sham and a constant source of pain for me.” In another tweet, he wrote that “church people are just sh*tty to each other.” He concluded:

“This massive cognitive dissonance—my beliefs not matching with reality—created a separation between my head and my heart. I was gas lighting myself to stay in the faith. Eventually I could not maintain the facade anymore, I started to have mental and emotional breaks. My internal stress started to show in physical symptoms. Being a pastor—a professional Christian—was killing me.”

Gass observed that people who strive to be in the evangelical leadership are the problem because they treat their church and religion as their “small kingdom for personal control and ego.” According to Gass, people who have nothing to do with Christianity have a better understanding on being good Christians.

March 3, 2019

Religion, GOP’s Desperate Hypocrisy for Control

Yesterday, I wrote about the values of Republicans who attacked Michael Cohen, former fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during testimony before the House Oversight Committee hearing. Walter Einenkel, social media editor and writer on Daily Kos, has produced a compilation of their specific values. The following are all GOP committee members who attacked Cohen’s character. Their behavior reflects their personal values:

  • Jim Jordan (R-OH): He denies the allegation of complicity in multiple sexual assaults against athletes while he was assistant coach, but the accusations are credible. The other congressional Republicans protected him.
  • Clay Higgins (R-LA): He resigned his job as an Opelousas (LA) police officer to avoid disciplinary action for using “unnecessary force on a subject during the execution of a warrant and later lied during an internal investigation.”
  • Virginia Foxx (R-NC): She claimed that she didn’t know that “tar baby” is a racial slur and that the murder of Matthew Shepard was not a hate crime, but instead “a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing [hate crimes] bills.”
  • Jody Hice (R-GA): He wants to remove Muslims from any First Amendment protections with the claim that Islam is not a religion.
  • Mark Green (R-TN): He said that people should get their health care from God, not Medicaid, and his disparaging comments about Muslims and LGBTQ people are so extreme that he had to withdraw his nomination for DDT’s Secretary of the Army.
  • Paul Gosar (R-AZ): His seven siblings opposed his election and supported his opponent, perhaps because he subscribes to conspiracy theories such as Jewish Holocaust survivor George Soros funded and organized the neo-Nazi movement in the U.S., including the violent rallies in Charlottesville (VA) and most recently said that climate change doesn’t exist because of “photosynthesis.” He’s the one who said, in his adult fashion, “liar, liar, pants on fire” to Cohen during the hearing.
  • Thomas Massie (R-KY): He met with Maria Butina, arrested for being a Russian spy.
  • Mark Meadows (R-NC): He lied about having a college degree and claimed that he wasn’t a racist during the hearing although he campaigned as a “birther” while President Obama was running for a second term.
  • Ralph Norman (R-SC): He pulled out a gun at a townhall meeting and left it lying on the table in front of him in violation of state law, but high-level friendly officials exonerated his actions.
  • Bob Gibbs (R-OH): He compared serving in Congress to serving in the military to wipe out his veteran opponent and sent fliers to influence the Democratic primary.
  • Glenn Grothman (R-WI): He has a long history of saying crazy things such as marriage equality should be illegal because it does a disservice to men who fought in the Civil War and college Pell Grants “discourage marriage.”
  • James Comer (R-KY): He was sued for threatening a senior state legislative staffer who reported allegations of sexual harassment to his superiors while they were both in state legislature.
  • Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): He has a history of driving infractions—a DUI conviction in 2001 that he tried to get out of and more recent citations for using a wireless communication device while driving and speeding in North Dakota.

That’s over two-thirds of the GOP members of the Oversight Committee who failed to defend DDT’s actions in exchange for smearing Cohen throughout his testimony. The other five members are new—first or second term—and standard far-right, Christianity only, gun-loving, climate deniers.

Christian Republicans elsewhere are standing up for their religion.

Some of them celebrated West Virginia GOP Day with a poster connecting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to the terrorism of 9/11 because she is a Muslim. The arguments about the image in the capitol rotunda became so heated that the state House’s sergeant at arms, Anne Lieberman, resigned after her anti-Muslim remark and another person was injured. Last month, a West Virginia legislator was called on to resign after he called LGBTQ groups “the closest thing to political terrorism in America” and “a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.” It’s the state that believes in freedom of religion—if the religion is Christianity.

In December 2018, a girl was bullied after her mother sued the Mercer County School District for teaching the Bible as fact.

Fundamentalist Christians have become so rigid that they think even Catholics don’t deserve religious freedom. DDT’s waiver permitting a South Carolina foster care agency to discriminate kept same-gender parents from becoming caregivers for children; now the agency is discriminating against a Catholic because of her faith. The Catholic woman was not only rejected as a foster parent but also told that she could not volunteer with the agency because it wanted only the “right type of Protestant church.” The biggest foster care agency in the state, Miracle Hill Ministries refused to work with a Jewish family in 2017. The governor rescued them with an executive order allowing the government-supported agency to discriminate, and Miracle got its federal waiver from the federal Department of Health and Human Services in January. This sentence in Miracle’s foster care manual may need revision:

 “In accordance with Federal and State laws and South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) policy, this agency and contracted providers for foster care and adoption services are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability.”

During the past ten years, the number of South Carolina home placements has been flat while the number of children in foster care has spiked. In addition, South Carolina law requires that foster children receive religious education “in accordance with the expressed wishes of the child’s natural parents.” The exemptions for Miracle permits it to “effectively terminate biological parents’ rights to direct their children’s religious upbringing while those children are in the care of the child-placement agency or a foster family,” according to a lawsuit. Another lawsuit is challenging Michigan’s “license to discriminate” law for adoption agencies.

The evangelical legal service Alliance Defending Freedom is suing on the behalf of homeless shelter Hope Center in Anchorage (AK) for the “right” to deny assistance to transgender people. The shelter wants an exemption from the city to discriminate in violation of its law and say that charities should be able to deny access if they want. Assistant municipal attorney Ryan Stuart said that the suit has not proceeded because Hope Center refused to cooperate with the investigation. Rather than being threats, transgender people are the most likely targets of physical and sexual abuse.

In his speech at last week’s conservative CPAC conference, VP Mike Pence said that “freedom of religion” is under attack, and the above examples prove that he’s right. What he wants, however, is freedom of evangelical religion to oppress all others. Pence’s religion is attacking LGBTQ rights, denying health care to people, limiting medical providers to communicating only his own non-medical beliefs, keeping children from finding good homes, rejecting scientific education for young people, in short, complete control of all people in the United States with his far-right Christian sexist, racist, homophobic beliefs.

Many times, I’m proud to live in Oregon, and this week is one of those times. The City Council for the state’s largest city, Portland, unanimously approved a measure giving civil rights protections for atheist, agnostic, and other nonreligious residents in employment, housing, and public accommodation. Madison (WI) may be the only other city in the United states with similar protections.

What a strange country where people have rights–or no rights–based on where they live.

 

May 13, 2018

Pence Aims to Control All through His Evangelical Belief

Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was inaugurated, the Washington Post has kept track of his lies—what the New York Times sometimes calls “reversed his position” as in when DDT said he did pay hush money to Stormy Daniels after he said he didn’t pay her off. Or sometimes from the NYT, “contradicts earlier claims.” After at least 3,001 “false or misleading claims” in his first 466 days in the Oval Office, however, the question might be how long people can stay in denial about DDT’s incessant lying. That 6.5 lies per day is an increase of 32.6 percent over the average of 4.9 daily lies during his first 100 days. One of his prime lies is that he keeps his promises. The Post also noted that DDT “kept only 23 percent of 60 key promises and broken 27 percent.”

A high percentage of DDT’s lies are to make himself appear superior, especially to earlier presidents. For example, his statement to the Celebration of Military Mothers and Spouses Event when he bragged about his raises for the military were “first time in ten years” in his continuing attempts to make President Obama look bad. Except DDT’s wrong. The military received raises every year since the inception of the all-voluntary military—45 years ago.

With so much attention focused on DDT’s lies, the media generally ignores VP Mike Pence’s history of lying, including this list from Politifact. Pence will do anything to do what the person in authority requires, including lying for him. Since Pence rejected a coup against DDT after the “pussy” video was released, Pence has been sycophant in chief—“servant to authority”—supporting all DDT’s lies including DDT’s false claim that he had no collusion with Russia.

Conservative columnist George Will became fed up with Pence’s lies and sycophancy after Pence’s full-throated support of former Maricopa County (AZ) sheriff and current U.S. senator candidate Joe Arpaio as “a tireless champion … of the rule of law.” Will’s opinion of Arpaio differs from that of Pence. Instead of Pence’s hero, Arpaio to Will is “a grandstanding, camera-chasing bully and darling of the thuggish right, [who] is also a criminal, convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to desist from certain illegal law enforcement practices.” Will concluded his column about Pence:

“Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.”

The entire column is well-worth reading, if only for an amazingly extensive use of vocabulary.

In his attempt to assume the role of authority in another few years, Pence works to retain support from evangelical voters and donors, including his commencement address to Hillsdale College, the small, private, far-far-right wing Christian school in Michigan. Pence’s message was that more people in the U.S. believe in God because DDT was elected to the nation’s highest office. “President Trump and our entire administration have been advancing the very principles that you learned here in the halls of Hillsdale College,” Pence said. Considering the fraud, corruption, destruction of the planet, and robbery of poor people, the question might be what principles are taught at the Christian school.

A look at the recent Gallup poll shows that Pence is “misrepresenting” the involvement of religious involvement in today’s United States. The poll indicates an increase in the number of people who express dissatisfaction with religion and want less influence by organized religion. Fewer people in the United States believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, to be taken literally, and more people see the Bible as fables. Fewer people believe in God. (Further statistics here.)

A Pew Research poll from April 2018 revealed that 80 percent of people believe in “God,” but only 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible. One-third of the population believe in some other higher power.

Hillsdale is important to Pence because of its ties to wealthy family of Betsy DeVos. Both she and her brother Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security services company paid millions by the U.S. government, are graduates, and Prince is a member of its board. Other alumni work for DDT, including as speechwriters. As an article in the Hillsdale Collegian states, “Hillsdale Alumni Take over the White House.” Conservatives Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), both aiming for House Speaker, have Hillsdale graduates on their staffs. After DDT’s national security spokesman left the White House, he found a job at Hillsdale. Quite astonishing for a college of only 1,486.

Hillsdale gained notoriety last year when a GOP amendment would have exempted the school from a tax on university endowments. The proposed amendment was written so that Hillsdale would have been the only college in the nation with that exemption. Four GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Deb Fischer (NE), John Kennedy (LA), and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—joined Democrats to vote down the amendment.

DDT has pushed a theocracy in his first 68 weeks, but Pence would be even worse in continuing to support far more people like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. After trying to allocate most educational funds to religious charter schools, she wants to give more taxpayer monies to religious colleges and universities, a possibility after the Supreme Court ruled last June against denying government grants to religious institutions for secular purposes. That case, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, was about surfacing playgrounds; DeVos will move the bar far lower to education. The DOJ also plans to greatly expand support for religious groups in “employment, contracting, and programming,” according to AG Jeff Sessions. Sessions and DeVos intend to permit unrestrained discrimination to federally-funded institutions.

A coalition of Christian right groups, including those from Congress, has created Project Blitz, a legislative initiative to pass connected Christian nationalism bills on the state level for a “dominionist” nation. Basically, they want a Sharia law for Christians to subjugate everyone to their perception of family structure, gender identity, marriage, and all other societal issues. The 71 bills introduced in states have innocuous “feel-good names” such as the Child Protection Act.

Joining the evangelical movement to take over the United States is Focus on the Family, founded by Roy Moore supporter James Dobson. This movement that proudly claimed to focus on “family values” focuses only on white men. By declaring itself a church, the organization can avoid taxes and audits through IRS standards that a religious organization does not need to meet all the requirements. Supposedly tax-exempt religious status mandates “a recognized creed and form of worship,” “a formal code of doctrine and discipline,” “regular religious services,” “Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young,” and “schools for the preparation of its ministers.” Yet Focus on the Family has no congregation and “rites of various parts of a person’s life,” according to Gail Harmon, an attorney who advises nonprofits on tax law. VP Mike Pence has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

Liberty Counsel also escapes filing IRS forms by declaring itself a “church auxiliary.” Lawyers in this group represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses and is awaiting the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like. The DOJ is filling up with members of the Liberty Counsel, those who aren’t traveling the world to help countries legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ laws.

The dual evangelical goal is to force non-evangelicals to pay for their institutions by not paying all taxes and control the actions of the entire population of the United States, no matter what their beliefs.

October 20, 2017

Pence, a Christian Ideologue Who Could Destroy Democracy

[Note: Yesterday’s blog post about not impeaching Donald Trump (DDT) brought a few comments. One is that “DDT” is a pesticide. Yes, it’s a poison that kills humans and harmless creatures, and the man inaugurated as U.S. president in January 2017 displays many characteristics of a dictator. Another one—”Explain to me again why just Pence would be worse than 45 + Pence.” Without DDT, Pence would be unleashed to make the nation a total unconstitutional theocracy. DDT is only interested in benefiting himself; Mike Pence will do anything to spread Dominionism throughout the world. People who still aren’t afraid of Pence after reading the following should go to some of the links for additional information.]

Becoming candidate for vice-president was a personal advantage for Mike Pence because his term as governor of Indiana was up for renewal. He was unpopular with both parties, his favorability down to 40 percent and only four points ahead of his Democratic opponent when 30 percent of the people in the state didn’t know who the Dem was.

Pence is an ideal sidekick for DDT, always willing to lie for him and always looking adoringly at DDT. Joel K. Goldstein, a historian at St. Louis University, calls him the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” Pence brought conservative donors who didn’t trust DDT back into the fold, especially the Koch brothers.

During his campaign for vice-president, Pence denied concern about the “Access Hollywood” tapes when DDT was caught bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” but a campaign aide said his wife, Karen, was horrified. Pence wouldn’t take calls from DDT but sent DDT a letter saying that he and his wife were deeply offended and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. Pence decided to stay, and DDT dumped New Jersey governor Chris Christie—and his thirty binders of résumés and plans—to make Pence head of his transition team. In his appointments, DDT leaned heavily on Koch-supported people: Scott Pruitt, Patrick Traylor, Don McGahn, Betsy DeVos, and Mike Pompeo. Koch involvement caused DDT base’s priorities to move down, subsumed by the corporate right. Gone are such Koch-opposed proposals as infrastructure reform, “border-adjustment tax,” and higher tax bracket for earnings over $5 million.

Two days after DDT was inaugurated, Stephen Roderick wrote about how Pence and DDT claimed to save jobs in Indiana by preserving 730 jobs at Carrier. Another 550 jobs that were being sent to Mexico. As usual, Pence had given the typical spin about Washington policies driving jobs offshore, but Mexican workers get $6 an hour, $1.75 less than federal minimum wage. As governor, Pence gave Carrier $7 million in state tax breaks. Sarah Palin called it “crony capitalism.”

Pence may be responsible for some of DDT’s current problems. Christie told DDT to avoid Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests may have been the impetus for the investigation. Pence hired Flynn with almost no vetting although Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent warned him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn failed to disclose that he had done paid lobbying work during the campaign for Turkish interests. Pence claimed he didn’t see the letter, but Cummings has an email from the transition staff, promising to carefully review his letter. Flynn’s hiring most likely led to the special investigation surrounding DDT’s connection with Russia.

After DDT fired former FBI director James Comey, Pence again lied, claiming that the firing had nothing do to with the Russia investigation. He had attended a meeting about DDT’s intention to get rid of Comey where a letter connecting the firing to the Russia investigation was distributed. White House Counsel Don McGahn recommended against sending the letter, and the DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein made up an excuse for the firing. Hours after Pence claimed that DDT’s decision was based on Rosenstein recommendation, DDT told Lester Holt in an interview that Russia was the reason for his action. Pence’s lies may be classified as obstructing justice, or “misprision of a felony,” for giving the public a false cover story about a meeting to shut down a federal investigation.

Pence’s Bible-study group for Cabinet members is led by Ralph Drollinger who wrote:

“Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”

Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. He said that Pence “has uncompromising Biblical tenacity” and “brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Joan Walsh wrote that Pence is a far worse person than DDT “because of his creepy Handmaid’s Tale patriarchal approach to women’s equality. But also because he usually knows he’s lying about Trump, and their administration’s agenda, and he lies anyway.”

Pence’s argument against athletes taking a knee to protest injustice during the national anthem is the use of “national” in the NFL. He said, as if the NFL belongs to the government, “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that players in the National Football League to stand for our national anthem.”

Jeremy Scahill wrote about other Pence beliefs:

Pence wants to ban the burning of the U.S. flag and make the Patriot Act permanent. He thinks that law enforcement should not need a FISA warrant for domestic surveillance and voted against requiring any warrant for domestic wiretapping. He wanted to give retroactive immunity to telecom companies involved in warrantless surveillance. Pence said that “enhanced interrogation” has saved lives and doesn’t want congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. He also opposes protections for whistleblowers to prevent retaliation for reporting crimes and misdeeds. Expansion of the military tribunal system and “filling up” Guantanamo Bay are other Pence goals. No matter what, Pence will stand with Israel. Fortunately, he and other legislators failed in making a U.S. policy to use military force to eliminate nuclear threats in Iran.

Roe v. Wade would disappear in a Pence presidency, and he wants 14th Amendment protections for fetuses by declaring them persons. He voted for two-year sentences for doctors performing late-term abortions for any reason except the danger of women’s lives. If this had passed, women would have had to carry dead fetuses to term. According to Pence, “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”

Pence wants DDT’s “wall” and advocates greater militarization against drugs. He said that “police officers are the best of us” and finds it offensive to “use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism and that really has got to stop.” Stop-and-frisk programs are “on a sound constitutional footing,” according to Pence, who wants these on a nationwide basis.

No-bid contracting should not have restrictions, according to Pence, perhaps because he has a close relationship to Blackwater’s cofounder, Erik Prince, Betsy Devos’ brother. Pence and his Republican Study Committee welcomed Prince to Washington in 2007 after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The Prince family joined with the DeVos family to fund the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House Speaker in 1994 on the platform Contract with America.

In the Concord Monitor, Robert Azzi wrote:

“I want [Donald Trunp] to stay in office because I fear a President Pence more than I fear Trump.

“While Trump the narcissist is an uneducated wanna-be statesman who seemingly has never read a book, who lacks empathy even for those close to him, and whom I believe couldn’t find Jerusalem on a map – at least not until either he or Jared got a contract to build a new tower or embassy there (a really, really, really beautiful thing – amazing, really!) – there are currently enough Republicans and Democrats (supported by grown-ups like Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster) who are equally so revulsed by his lies, his ignorance and his erratic-ness that they’re willing to stand in his way to keep his fingers off the nuclear codes.

“Trump’s ambitions can be deflected (he has the attention span of a gnat); Pence’s can’t, and his elevation to the presidency – either through Trump’s impeachment or resignation – would, I believe, present a clear and present danger to the pluralistic, aspirational, constitutional values upon which this nation relies for its strength and prosperity….

“Pence is the real thing. He’s much smarter than Trump, has better hair, has much more government experience, and he unrepentantly embraces and advocates for an unreconstructed Christian supremacist America…. Pence is the tip of the spear for a Christian Dominionist movement envisioned, as Betsy DeVos says, to “advance God’s kingdom….

“A Pence presidency would herald the rise of an American supremacist Taliban who’ll have their way rolling back the privacy and civil, human, religious and personal rights of Americans whom they believe, both in the present and in the hereafter, are less worthy than they.”

The worst part of impeaching DDT is that the Trumpets would solidify with the GOP party, giving them far more leverage. The U.S. is better off by leaving DDT where he is and controlling his ability to blow up the world. If DDT is impeached, only a Pence impeachment could save the nation—and that would never happen.

I have long believed, like longtime Democratic operative Harold Ickes, that Pence would work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich believes that Pence will be the 2024 GOP nominee. Pence is the first vice-president in history to have his own fundraising effort instead of raising money for the president, the party, and congressional and state-level candidates. He may be aiming at 2020. A Pence presidency would erase what is left of democracy in the United States.

 

September 17, 2017

When Evangelicals Take Over the Government

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got to the White House with 80 percent of the Christian evangelical vote, and he’s repaid them with multiple appointments from their following. One of these is former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) who moved into the position of CIA director. He started by using his Christian faith to defeat any other religion. In an early speech, he said that Islamist terrorists will “continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.” God and Christianity continued to be frequent references in his trip report while overseas.

Establishing chaplain services for CIA members was Pompeo’s next move. He consulted with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a guarantee that chaplains will focus only on Christianity. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled FRC an anti-gay hate group. CIA employees have registered complaints about Pompeo’s religious pressure with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Its director, Michael Weinstein, said:

“In the intelligence community, we see supervisors wanting to hold Bible studies during duty hours [and] inviting lower-ranking individuals to their homes for Bible studies.”

Weinstein said that agency employees are afraid to be public about their concerns because of retribution of accusations of leaking. Officials’ signing off with “have a blessed day” is “straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale, Weinstein said.

Pompeo raised further concerns with his refusal to honor the CIA’s diversity mandate. He is openly anti-LGBT, even talking about this position on college campuses, and he has become openly angry about questions directed toward  the agency’s commitment to diversity. Pompeo defended DDT’s “many sides” statements about Charlottesville (VA) protesters by claiming that DDT’s condemnation of bigotry was “frankly pretty unambiguous.”

Recently Pompeo blackmailed Harvard Kennedy School into rescinding its invitation to Chelsea Manning as visiting fellow. The position is not an honorific, but Pompeo could not tolerate the transgender woman being included in the ten selected for this fall. Pompeo canceled his appearance at a Harvard forum in a letter that included:

“I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.”

Two people offering their wisdom as visiting fellows to Harvard are former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who constantly lied for DDT, and former DDT campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who physically attacked protesters at DDT’s rallies. These are two of the people offering their wisdom to Harvard students this fall.

Cabinet members are also determined to turn the United States into a theocracy. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is determined to destroy public education and move all students into private religious schools at taxpayers’ expense. A few months before he became attorney general, Jeff Sessions said that the constitution allows states to “establish a religion.” Other Cabinet members such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry have joined DeVos and VP Mike Pence in sponsoring weekly bible study classes at the White House. Pastor and leader Ralph Drollinger is part of conservative Capitol Ministries, with the goal to “evangelize elected officials and lead them toward maturity in Christ,” and has set up biblical ministries in state capitols across the country as well as in the House of Representatives. A climate-change denier and ferociously anti-LGBT, Drollinger believes that mothers who work while leaving children at home are sinful and Catholicism is the “world’s largest false religion.”

While Oklahoma AG, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt fought to keep a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state capitol that the state Supreme Court ordered removed in 2015. Tom Price, Health and Human Services director, is an anti-reproductive-choice zealot.

DDT wants transgender people out of the military. Are non-Christians next? U.S. Air Force chaplain Sonny Hernandez claims that Christians in the U.S. Armed Forces “serve Satan” and are “grossly in error” if they support service members’ right to practice other faiths. He “ministers” to thousands of military members at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio by telling them they rely on Christ, not the Constitution:

“Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.”

Hernandez ignores the oath that all members of the U.S. military, including military chaplains, take when they sign up for the Armed Services:

“I , _____ , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.’’

Hernandez is not alone. Noncommissioned officers at one Air Force base reported that their superiors told them Trump would make it USAF policy that in order for “disbelieving Jews” to be allowed into the USAF or be deemed fit for promotions, they would have to show via objectively established behavior that they were at least honestly “considering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The wife of a combat-decorated Muslim U.S. Naval officer was surrounded with her children in the commissary before being spat on and accused of not being a “true American and being a spy and a terrorist.” Army Major General Julie Bentz, spoke at the 56th Annual Kansas Prayer Breakfast and stated:

“But my greatest privilege is standing in front of my king and my God, carrying every member of my organization to his throne and asking for his protection, his mercy, his love on each of them and their families and whatever are their concerns and burdens of the day.

Complaints, doubled since DDT’s election, are going to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) because targets fear retaliation by going through their chain of command. Approximately 84 percent of military chaplains, and about one-third of these are fundamentalists who believe they don’t need to conform to the U.S. Constitution, Department of Defense directives, or law. DDT is increasingly seen as a savior for them, especially with his selections of evangelicals for vice-president and at least nine Cabinet members. De-frocked, ex-felon Jim Bakker, back to televangelizing, said that criticism of DDT is “satanic,” that critics are channeling the spirit of the Antichrist.

On the campaign trail, DDT promised to do away with “political correctness”—his term for the U.S. Constitution—and put Christianity back into the military.

The House also supports DDT’s Christian agenda. Hidden within the $1.2 trillion spending bill passed in mid-September by a 211-198 vote is a provision partially blocking the tax code prohibiting places of worship from endorsing political candidates. It stops funding IRS attempts to penalize churches violating tax law in these endorsements by mandating that any funds enforcing this law requires agents to notify two congressional committees, wait 90 days, and then get IRS commissioner permission. At this time, the existing law is rarely enforced but much discussed in churches. The provision doesn’t apply to nonprofits that are not faith based. If the Senate agrees, the law would transform tax-exempt churches into Super PACs.

Seventy-one percent of people, including majorities among white evangelicals, are opposed to church’s endorsing candidates, and some faith-based groups have strongly lobbied against the idea. A letter from 4,000 faith leaders against the endorsement of candidates read in part:

“Changing the law would threaten the integrity and independence of houses of worship. We must not allow our sacred spaces to be transformed into spaces used to endorse or oppose political candidates.”

The Senate went the opposite direction from the House when the Appropriations Committee moved to reinstate funding for the UN  Population Fund and overturn the global gag rule, known as the Mexico City Policy, a longstanding GOP policy forbidding U.S. support for international health organizations that offer or discuss abortion services. Those denied resources including family planning funding, nutrition, child health, and disease control. Two GOP female senators voted for the bans removal and Democratic Joe Manchin (WV) wanted to keep the ban.

Christianity is the U.S. majority religion and have the greatest privileges, but white evangelical Christians suffer from a massive persecution complex. They think that they face more discrimination than blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, atheists, or Jews, a belief reinforced by their bible. The book they use for worship tells them that they will be hated, flogged, persecuted, excluded, insulted, rejected, and imprisoned. They will suffer from others’ jealousy, conspiracies, hardship, famine, danger, and deception. People striving to be superior have learned that the way to the top is claiming to be a victim—something that is a constant from the minority of Christian conservatives who increasingly take rights from others in the nation. The more than non-evangelicals fight for equality, the more than these Christians oppress anyone not in their tribe.

February 5, 2017

DDT Aims U.S. toward Bigoted Theocracy

With 80 percent of the evangelical vote in the recent election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is paying them back for their loyalty. He nominated Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court to get anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-death with dignity rulings. At the National Prayer Breakfast, he promised to allow tax-exempt churches to promote candidates from the pulpit and engage in other political action while keeping their tax-exempt status. And he appointed Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to an educational task force for the Department of Education that will use right-wing fundamentalist Christianity in controlling higher education through eliminating regulations to keep the institutions secular.

In a bizarre appearance, DDT gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast that lambasted Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance on The Apprentice and asked the audience to pray for the series that he produces. Then DDT proceeded to justify his ban against Muslims entering the United States by saying that  it will ensure that everyone in the U.S. will follow “our values of religious and personal liberty.” About Senate Chaplain Barry Black, DDT asked, “Is that an appointed position? I don’t even know if you’re Democrat or if you’re Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year, the hell with it.” Yup. The hell with it.

DDT used Jefferson’s language at the prayer breakfast to argue for limiting worship in the United States to Christianity and eliminating the Islam religion:

“It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, the God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Jefferson asked, can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God. Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. . . .”

The founding father believed in the “right to worship,” not the right to take away other people’s rights.

The last fragile vestige of separation of church and state came from the Johnson Amendment from over a half century ago, but Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) have introduced legislation to eliminate that law. DDT declared he would destroy the law. The proposed bill would ban religious institutions from donating to campaigns, but there can always be amendments.

Under the existing Johnson Amendment, religious groups may discuss political issues but not endorse candidates. Religious groups may spend up to 20 percent of their operating budget on political organizing and advocacy without violating their tax-exempt status. LifeWay, a religious research organization, found that 79 percent of U.S. citizens don’t believe “pastors [should] publicly endorse political candidates during a church service.”

DDT has still not overturned President Obama’s executive order that prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation, but he is considering an executive order allow religious beliefs to discriminate against anyone. The basis of the drafted order:

“This Constitutional protection ensures that Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their consciences, and will remain free to express their viewpoints without suffering adverse treatment from the Federal Government.”

Although the news media has focused on the order’s effect on LGBT people, it could be disastrous for children, non-Christians, unmarried heterosexual couples, unmarried mothers, and women’s reproductive rights, including contraception and abortion—in short, permitting anyone to refuse any services for any self-declared “religious” reasons. The order could permit child abuse, domestic violence, injuries, any persecution or humiliation, and perhaps even murder. Parents could deny medical attention to their children and allow them to die.

The order would cover “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations” “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

In addition, the order would allow any church or charitable organization  to be directly political without losing their tax exempt status if  it “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

According to the draft of the order, agencies shall faithfully discharge their duty to accommodate the religion of federal employees and shall not promulgate regulations, take actions, or enact policies that substantially burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious exercise

Asked if DDT believes that Islam is a religion, senior White House aide Sebastian Gorka, a former Breitbart national security editor, refused to answer. Islamphobia has run rampant at the White House: its National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, described Islam as a “cancer,” which “hides behind this notion of being a religion,” and Steve Bannon has made other inflammatory comments about the religion. Avoiding to answer this question indicates that the answer would probably be “no—Islam is not a religion” from the White House administration.

Pope Francis called out DDT on his Muslim ban, criticizing “the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West, and, on the other hand, are against refugees and other religions.” Francis explained:

“The sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy, which is precisely what is happening when someone claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of Christ. You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian.”

The pope cited the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 which concluded, “I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

[Note: DDT’s staff must have taken away his phone again. Thus far, he has not tweeted against the pope–just the “so-called judge” who overturned his Muslim ban.]

Fundamentalist Christians are accusing progressive women of being witches if they don’t support DDT. In the past men controlled women by declaring them witches and killing them. The water test meant that they were innocent if they drowned and guilty—and then burned at the stake—if they survived. Twenty-first century men are bringing back the threat of witchcraft for uppity women who marched for our rights.

According to “prophet” Rick Joyner, any opposition to DDT is the sign of devil influence and explained that the march’s “out-of-control rage” had to be Satanic. Lance Wallnau accused the nature of “the progressive spirit” in “a desire to control and intimidate, manipulate”—just like witchcraft. Jim Bakker chimed in with his second wife, Lori, to talk to Billye Brim who explained that the march was “driven by demons” and called on her viewers to pray in order to “control the demons that were in those women.” Bakker agreed that he sensed “the most evil spirit I have ever felt” in his hotel lobby on the day of the march.

Bakker was imprisoned for several years and then divorced after his sex scandal, including an alleged rape, and accounting fraud. Jerry Falwell, Sr. called Bakker a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and “the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history.”

Despite the founding of the nation on religious liberty, almost one-third of people in the United States think that only Christians can be real “Americans.” Once again, the youth of the nation may save the country: 44 percent of adults over 50 find Christianity being a key whereas only 18 percent of adults younger than 35 agree.

Religion as the key to being a part of the national identity is far more prevalent than it is in other countries. Only 13 percent of Australians, 15 percent of Canadians, and 15 percent of Europeans believe that belonging in their countries is tied to the Christian religion.

In answer to another question on the poll, the same percentage of people in the U.S.—32 percent—think that people have to be born in the country to be an “American.”

Under DDT, the United States is shifting from being a “flawed democracy” to a white supremacist theocracy.

July 20, 2016

GOP Platform Goes Back to 19th Century

Republicans love to talk about the importance of following the U.S. Constitution being the party of Lincoln. Judges and legislation are bound by the Constitution. This year the platform of the self-proclaimed party of Lincoln has seven pages—ten percent of the content—in a section called “A Rebirth of Constitutional Government” (aka revisionist constitutional theory).

This section of the GOP platform proclaims that government exists to protect “God-given, natural rights”; in any difference of opinion, God wins. One of these God-given “inalienable right that predates the Constitution” is “the right of individuals to keep and bear arms” as “a natural inalienable right that predates the Constitution.” Another God-given rights are “to devote resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports” (such as influencing elections), influence elections), to “set their own membership standards” free from anti-discrimination laws, and the “freedom of Americans to act in accordance with their religious beliefs” often when those beliefs call for defiance of the law, as examples of rights that are “not given to us by the government but are rights we inherently possess.”

The platform gets worse by completely invalidating  the U.S. Constitution. “The government cannot use subsequent amendments to limit First Amendment rights.” Thus the GOP repudiates the way that legislators and judges are bound by the Constitution. Republican position is that Congress cannot propose and states cannot ratify, for example, a constitutional amendment overruling the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Republican Party’s position is that this amendment would be null and void.

“Inalienable” means “impossible to take away or give up.” Therefore Republicans state that rights that they consider inalienable cannot be changed through constitutional process and no more amendments with the slightest connection to the First Amendment—religion, free speech, and financing—can be made.  Also “the unborn child” has an “inalienable right to life … which cannot be infringed.”

Stephen Rosenfeld has culled these excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.

  1. Tax cuts for the rich.
  2. Bank deregulation.
  3. Elimination of consumer protection.
  4. Repeal of environmental laws.
  5. Shrinking unions and union labor.
  6. Privatization of federal railway service.
  7. Freezing or elimination of federal minimum wage.
  8. Cuts in government salaries and benefits.
  9. Appointment of only anti-choice Supreme Court justices.
  10. Appointment of only anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices.
  11. Legalization of anti-LGBT discrimination.
  12. Christianity as a national religion.
  13. Greater campaign finance loopholes and dark money.
  14. Eliminate gun controls nationwide.
  15. An anti-choice constitutional amendment.
  16. Elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  17. Permission to states in closure of abortion clinics.
  18. Opposition to stem cell scientific research.
  19. Condemnation of executive branch policy making.
  20. Retention of the electoral college.
  21. Requirement of citizenship documents for voter registration.
  22. Drawing congressional districts without consideration of undocumented immigrants.
  23. No labeling of GMO ingredients in food products.
  24. Work requirements for welfare recipients and cuts in food stamps.
  25. More oil and gas drilling on U.S. shores.
  26. Completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  27. Expansion of fracking and burying nuclear waste.
  28. No tax on carbon products.
  29. Disregard of global climate change agreements.
  30. Privatization of Medicare.
  31. State administration of Medicaid.
  32. No increase of Social Security benefits by taxing the rich.
  33. Repeal of Obamacare.
  34. Monopoly control by internet service providers.
  35. English as the official U.S. language.
  36. No amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
  37. Wall along U.S./Mexico border to keep immigrants out.
  38. Government verification of citizenship of all workers.
  39. Penalties for cities giving sanctuary to migrants.
  40. Puerto Rico a state but not Washington DC.
  41. Support of traditional marriage but no other families.
  42. Privatization of government services to fight poverty.
  43. Mandatory bible study in public schools.
  44. Replacement of public schools with privatized options.
  45. Permission of abstinence-only approaches in sex education.
  46. Privatized student loans without lowering interest rates.
  47. Restoration of the death penalty.
  48. Dramatic increase in the Pentagon budget.
  49. Cancelation of Iran nuclear treaty and expansion of U.S. nuclear arsenal.
  50. Reaffirmation support for Israel and elimination of sanctions movement as anti-Semitic.

And that’s just a few of the issues covered in the platform. The GOP shows itself to be pro-rape, pro-gold standard, and pro-“right-to-work” while being anti-national parks and anti-mass transit.

The less rabid members of the Republican party who don’t follow all these positions blithely say that no one reads the platform or pays any attention. Yet the platform is the wish list of GOP leaders for Congress; it’s what they think they want to do to the United States. This platform calls for a drastic military buildup when a large percentage of taxes already goes to the Pentagon. This policy, combined with the massive tax cuts that they call for, follows the first term of George W. Bush which led to trillions of dollars in deficit and a recession that still hurts the nation’s economy.

In his speech tonight, GOP VP candidate, Mike Pence, called for the appointment of Supreme Court justices who will uphold the constitution, but the platform calls for justices who follow the GOP platform. During the convention, speakers consistently maintained that there is nothing progressive about the Democratic party, that it is the GOP that wants to move forward. In many ways, however, the platform resembles the conservative position of the mid-1800s except conservatives 150 years ago didn’t oppose abortion and immigration.

The theme of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) speech tonight is that “freedom matters.” He’s right, but his party’s platform wants to take away freedom for many people in the United States—no freedom for LGBT people to have the same rights as heterosexual people, no freedom for women to have reproductive health care, no freedom from poverty and illness, no freedom to have clean water and air, no freedom for equal internet use, no freedom for people with any skin color to travel safely wherever they want, no freedom for people other than strict “Christians.” In short, no freedom for all—just the entitled.

Of course, Cruz was booed at the end of his speech for not endorsing  Donald Trump after he said that people should not stay away from the election in the fall and that they should vote their conviction. Then Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was escorted from the floor for her own safety. So much for GOP unity. Or maybe the entire situation was a set-up so that Cruz would make Mike Pence, who followed Cruz, look good.

As far as the platform and Donald Trump, however, anyone with sense knows that Trump won’t even read it—and he certainly won’t pay any attention to it. He only wants a wall between the United States and Mexico.

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