Nel's New Day

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.

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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.

November 29, 2015

Conservative ‘Christians’ Wage War on the United States

 

Black Friday, traditionally known for store sales putting them into the “black,” can now be known for the most recent mass shooting in the far-right “Christian” war on the people of the United States. A 57-year-old white man killed three people, including a policeman, and injured nine more at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. He was heard to yell “no more baby parts.” The right-wing first called the attack a bank robbery and then said it was done by a “mentally disturbed individual.” The Washington Post called him “adrift and alienated,” and the so-called liberal New York Times called the killer an “itinerant loner.”

The first two GOP candidates who made any comments about the attacks—Ted Cruz and John Kasich—waited for a day and then just prayed for the victims. Cruz had spread anti-PP propaganda and led the charge to close down the government to stop its funding. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul remained quiet and advertised clothing for sale on their websites. Ben Carson was busy visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan where he said that Middle East countries should absorb the refugees who he had called “rabid dogs.” Other predictable comments from GOP candidates trickled in two days later on the Sunday news talk shows. Mike Huckabee who agreed that the killings were domestic terrorism, but he claimed that it was against Planned Parenthood for making pro-life people look bad. He said:

“I don’t know of any pro-life leader—any—if you can tell me one, please correct me — but I don’t know of anybody who has suggested violence toward Planned Parenthood personnel or some act of violence towards their clinics. I’ve not heard that, not from one single pro-life person.”

Out of many, one example is when a pro-lifer shot Dr. George Tiller in the head while Tiller was in his own church. In another, Huckabee proposed using physical force from federal troops to keep women from entering Planned Parenthood.

All terrorists are Muslims, according to conservatives led by Huckabee and Cruz. Jeb Bush said the Middle East had no Christian terrorists. Politicians use the Paris attacks as an excuse to close down the refugee program that saves Syrian people from the jihadists. Donald Trump said that PP is like an abortion factory, and Carly Fiorina joins him in spreading lies about the contents of falsified videos about PP. Rubio tells the world that women get pregnant “just to sell their fetuses to Planned Parenthood,” and Cruz blames the Obama Justice Department for not investigating “Planned Parenthood because they’re a political ally of the president.”

At first, right-wing media declared that the attack’s target was a bank. Deciding the killer started with PP, conservative pundits and their respondents praised the killer as a “hero.” While the tragedy was ongoing, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said that anti-abortion fanatics have “legitimate concerns” about Planned Parenthood.

Declining to admit that the killings were domestic terrorism, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House committee for Homeland Security, labeled the PP killings as “a tragedy… It’s, I think, a mental health crisis.” Six years ago, the House GOP members forced Daryl Johnson, the leading expert on right-wing terrorism in the U.S., to resign from Homeland Security because his research was not in accord with conservative beliefs.

Meanwhile, police are calling on Congress for help with domestic terrorism. In his appearance on Meet the Press a week ago, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expressed his opinion about accepting Syrian refugees that is supported by police officers across the nation:

 “[If] Congress really wants to do something instead of just talking about something, help us out with that terrorist watch list, those thousands of people that can purchase firearms in this country. I’m more worried about them than I am about Syrian refugees to be quite frank with you.”

The man who was legally able to have an assault rifle to kill and wound people at the Planned Parenthood has a record of traffic violations, voyeuristic stalking, and domestic violence. After he hit his wife and pushed her out a window, she filed a police record but didn’t press charges. A neighbor woman later filed a restraining order against the man in 2002 because he hid in the bushes beside her house to watch her. He also abused an animal and threatened another neighbor. Thanks to the lax laws in Colorado (and other parts of the nation), he can openly carry an assault rifle because he hasn’t been convicted of these crimes. Earlier this month Colorado laws allowed a man to murder four people before being apprehended.

The right-wing is frantically trying to erase any idea that the killings were religiously and politically motivated, using quotes from his neighbors that the killer wasn’t at all political. Yet he claimed that “Obama is ruining America,” wanted him impeached, and tried to hand out anti-Obama leaflets to people. His cabin sported a cross, and a posting on his Facebook urged people to “Accept the LORD JESUS while you can.”

“Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration.” A large majority of domestic terrorists in the U.S. connect these beliefs to the “Christian Identity” ideology. Like Adolf Hitler, the leaders of the movement persuade followers to commit evil acts in the defense of their God and religion. Rubio’s comments on the Christian Broadcasting Network a week ago represent the prevailing guidelines of the “Christian” conservatives:

“We are clearly called, in the Bible, to adhere to our civil authorities, but that conflicts with also a requirement to adhere to God’s rules. When those two come in conflict, God’s rules always win. In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel … we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”

The real heroes of the shooting are the people who go to work every day—including the day after the most recent attack—despite the possibility that they may be killed. They are the ones who continue to care for people’s health needs in clinics that can be attacked at any time. Since 1993, eight doctors have been killed; since 1976, over 200 crimes of bombing or arson have occurred at clinics. Since the release of the fraudulent videos, four Planned Parenthood clinics were burned to the ground, and others were damaged or vandalized. This is not a “lone wolf” situation; this is terrorism—Christian radical terrorism in the United States.

A 2012 study by Arie Perliger, professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, shows that “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.”  The toll increased since the study’s release: 305 mass shootings—four or more people shot—have occurred this year as of mid-October. Refusal to recognize Christian terrorism in the United States is killing people.

The GOP Congress legitimizes pro-lifers such as Troy Newman who campaign for violence against women’s clinics and medical people who perform abortions. Donald Trump’s racist remarks have led to attacks and beatings on people of color, and the mainstream media criticize him. Yet the GOP incitement of religious violence continues putting the blame on the perpetrator without recognition of how they provoke these violent acts. Political and religious leaders in the United States routinely call for executing LGBT citizens, Muslims, immigrants, abortion providers, liberals, etc. while allowing unfettered gun ownership. As a result, people in the U.S. live in a terrorist-occupied war zone. Armed and dangerous U.S. citizens represent far more menace in this country than ISIS does.

Of the dozen people shot at Colorado Springs’ Planned Parenthood, several had nothing to do with the clinic. Any one can be impacted by the violence even if they are not a member of a targeted group. Two weeks ago, the GOP candidates were cheering about the attacks in Paris because they thought that the opposition to ISIS would put them in control of the country. Now they have the fallout of domestic terrorism after months of virulent rhetoric. Meanwhile other killings go on as if usual. In the early morning hours before the killings in Colorado Springs, a man shot a waitress in the head after she asked him to put out a cigarette. The woman is dead, and the former firefighter is in a Biloxi (MI) jail.

Those who criticize the “politicization” of the PP travesty fail to understand that they are the ones who surrounded PP with poiltics. After the most recent mass killings, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted, “I hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences,” Republicans, words matter!

[Meet the Press update:  Today Donald Trump stood by his statement that Muslims in New Jersey cheered as the Twin Towers came down on 9/11. On this morning’s news talk show, Trump and Todd devolved into an argument of “I’m right” and “You’re wrong.” Yet neither one alluded to the record of five Middle Eastern men who celebrated the tragedy. All five were Israeli Jews, speaking Hebrew. Another religious group that traditionally celebrates 9/11 is the membership of Topeka (KS)-based Westboro Baptist Church. These Christian terrorists describe 9/11 as “a gift from God” and honor its “anniversary.” Todd wants Trump to tell the “truth,” but he doesn’t bother to find itself for himself.]

August 30, 2015

Zombie Duggars Won’t Disappear

In the past, zombies were defined as the living dead, soulless corpses. Now the term is also used for legislation, debts, and anything else that reappears after people thought the issues had been resolved. Controversy surrounding the Duggar family, particularly oldest son Josh, fits into that category. The family of “19 Kids and Counting” started publicly suffering in mid-May when the report about Josh sexually molesting five young girls—four of them his younger sisters—went viral. At that time, he was 14, and the youngest girl was under five. The tragedy was more scandalous because his father, Jim Bob, concealed the information from the police until he was no longer in the state legislature and then downplayed Josh’s behavior so much that Josh didn’t face arrest for his crime.

In 2004, the Duggar family began their TV notoriety with a program called “14 Kids and Pregnant Again.” Two years later, Josh was still molesting his sisters. The information was kept under wraps until May 19, 2015, when InTouch published an article about Josh’s crimes along with a police report detailing the abuse. The police report was destroyed, and Josh apologized. He also resigned from his job as a lobbyist for the extreme-conservative religious Family Research Council. Reruns of “19 Kids and Counting” were pulled after over 20 corporations pulled their advertising. Not until July 26, however, did the cable channel cancel the program. Since then, Josh’s activities, past and present, have been headlined on the Internet.

Josh’s life further unraveled after a hacker found the names of 37 million people signing up for the Ashley Madison site. He was the first celebrity to be outed from the release of the names. As a paying member of Ashley Madison, the social-networking site made to facilitate illicit extramarital affairs, he spent almost a thousand dollars on two different accounts between February, 2013, and May, 2015, including an “affair guarantee” fee of two hundred and fifty dollars. Josh had not one, but two, accounts with the site which showed an extensive list of his sexual preferences.

The Ashley Madison account wasn’t the first that Josh created. Over a decade ago, his Facebook profile used to hook up with women was allegedly under the alias “Joe Smithson.” He used a photo of Jonathan Blankfein, son of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, on that profile. The “Smithson” profile was also linked to a profile on OKCupid, “joesmithsonnwa,” until it was flagged by Gawker and deleted. That photo belongs to Hollywood DJ and producer named Matthew McCarthy who is losing jobs because at least one club thought he was linked to the Duggar scandal.

According to porn star Danica Dillon, Josh had sex with her twice while his wife was pregnant. Before InTouch published this information, Dillon passed a polygraph test in which she talked about his coming into the Gold Club in Philadelphia where she was stripping. Josh talked about what a fan he was of Dillon, even before her recent “boob job.” Dillon said that sex with him was “creepy,” that “he was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll.” Although the sex was consensual, Dillon said, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”

Satan originally got the blame for Josh’s actions, but the responsibility was moved over to Josh’s wife, Anna. The Duggars privately urged Anna to admit that “she should have been more aware of the pressures Josh was under, of the issues he was facing, and how she could have better counseled him or helped him,” according to an unnamed source. Divorce is not an option for Anna because their religion requires her to stay married to Josh forever.

Last week, Josh wrote, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” Later the reference to pornography was replaced by a reference to allowing “Satan to build a fortress” in his heart and then completely removed. There was no apology to the lives he damaged through his bigotry toward LGBT people and others who don’t follow his faith. Duggars’ world teaches that women’s improper attitude and dress are to blame for men’s inability to control their libidos.

Family dynamics show possible reasons for Josh’s behavior. Father Jim Bob teaches his sons to repress sexual desires, partly by not looking at attractive women. “Nike” is the code word for the boys to look at their shoes because, as the autobiography Growing Up Duggar states, God forbid that they like looking at women. Sources say that Jim Bob operates like a dictator, for example telling anyone seen kissing before marriage that they shouldn’t do it. Statistics indicate that conservatives, many of whom grow in fundamentalist Christian churches, watch more porn than anyone else. In the Duggars’ home, the father cannot be challenged, women are inferior to men, and using birth control is a sin.

Two unnamed members of the Duggar family are fed up with the way that Josh has gotten away with his sexual behavior. The solution to Josh’s problems was to send him back to the same fundamentalist Christians who supposedly rehabilitated him over a decade ago; even family members don’t believe in this solution. Why they have doubts is understandable: Pastor Paul Kingsbury, who runs the North Love Church facility, reportedly helped a man accused of sexual assault evade prosecution in the United States by keeping him in a mission in Bolivia. According to his protector, the man had fulfilled his penance by showing remorse and would protect him in “any way necessary” from facing charges in the United States.

The brother of Josh’s wife went much farther. Daniel Keller, infuriated by a post from Josh’s sister Jessa about Jesus cleansing Josh if he confesses, engaged in a back-and-forth Twitter exchange that pointed out the difference between confessing and getting caught, concluding with calling Josh a “pig.”

Losing their show cost the Duggars $25 million dollars. First they begged for money, and Michelle complained about having to do the housework. No comment about Jim Bob helping her with the housework. One of Michelle’s big rants came from having to fold laundry at 1:00 in the morning. Their next solution to financing their expensive lifestyle was to have a new show—counseling victims of sexual abuse. At the same time, they’re preparing a documentary, “Breaking the Silence,” featuring Jill and Jessa Duggar plus other sexual abuse victims to bring the issue further into the public eye. Beyond that, they plan a new series featuring themselves, parents who condoned sexual abuse, as sex abuse counselors. That from parents who never sought counseling for Josh’s victims.

If Josh were an ordinary person, leaving others to their lives, the news would not be important. But the family actively opposed a local ordinance to ban LGBT discrimination because they claim that LGBT people are a danger to children. The Duggars have always held themselves up as fine, upstanding Christians to be used as examples for all. After the show’s cancellation, parents Jim Bob and Michelle wrote that “our desire in opening our home to the world is to share Bible principles that are the answers for life’s problems.” Josh could not even take responsibility for his own actions but instead blamed his wife. His sisters, who were victims of his sexual molestation, tried to justify his actions.

As Josh’s sins become more openly known, the conservative world is either ignoring them or claiming that progressives are the hypocrites and that Josh isn’t because he has confessed. At the same time, they continue to pillory people who do not violate the law in the way that Josh has. And they want the United States to become a theocracy that would follow the Duggars’ teaching.

August 12, 2015

Only Trump Supports Women in Planned Parenthood Debacle

All the problems in the United States come from a lack of Christian belief, according to GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who promises that he will create Christian dominion over the entire country. In an interview with American Family Association leader Tim Wildmon, Cruz said,

“Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead.”

As U.S. president, Cruz would fight the nonexistent religious persecution and seek criminal charges against Planned Parenthood. Cruz’s ad to prosecute Planned Parenthood begins with this pitch:

“For a century, Americans have helped heal and care for millions in need. Our values propelled extraordinary innovation. America made the world better.”

Visuals in the beginning of the ad use images of polio victims, people who suffered from the dread disease before a poliovirus vaccine, using fetal kidney cell research, saves 550,000 lives every year. People are actually angry about the use of fetal tissue in research, but they use Planned Parenthood as a symbol of this. The public doesn’t want to think about the use of fetal tissue as an answer to exploring treatment and cures for health issues from vision loss to cancer. Not one person in Congress, including Cruz, has introduced legislation to ban this kind of research. All of the attackers are removing health care from lower-income people, both women and men, not dealing with the issue that has caused a series of inflammatory statement.

Of the 17 GOP candidates, 16 of them, including the one woman, are firmly united in opposing Planned Parenthood. Carly Fiorina said that Planned Parenthood should be “defunded immediate.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), oddly declared the winner of the first candidate debate although he fell to seventh place in the field, is trying to lead the attack with a new initiative on both social media and his campaign website. A large picture of a fluffy-white kitty cat is accompanied by the statement, “Watch this video and sign this petition if you know that a human life won’t become a donkey or a cat.”

rubio's catRubio’s brilliant (at least to himself) idea came from an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN after the debate when he began to insist that “science” has declared that human life begins at conception. In reality, biologists maintain that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg has the same level of life as a sperm or an unfertilized egg. Conservative men such as Mike Huckabee so fond of “personhood” might want to consider this science the next time that they masturbate. Cuomo tried to explain the facts of life to Rubio, who kept his own irrational viewpoint:

“[The fertilized egg] cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that that can become is a human being…. If scientists] can’t say it will be human life, what does it become, then? Could it become a cat?”

Pro-choice advocates don’t believe that a human egg can become a cat. The accurate description of the belief is that a difference exists between people and fertilized human eggs just as there is a difference between acorns and trees—and between eggs and chickens.

The one candidate who separated himself from the crowd in defunding Planned Parenthood is—surprise—Donald Trump. Although the businessman still opposes abortions, he explained to Sean Hannity that Planned Parenthood does “good things that aren’t having to do with abortion.” He also talked about “many Republican conservative women [who] come up and say Planned Parenthood serves a good function other than the one aspect. We have to help women.” Hannity wasn’t happy with Trump, but Fox president, Roger Ailes, wants the network to go easy on Trump.

The rest of the candidates know that they have to oppose abortion—and therefore Planned Parenthood—to have any chance of being elected. Seventy years ago, Jeb Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood. In 1950, however, he narrowly lost a run for U.S. senator after a newspaper publicized his connection to the “Birth Control Society.” Twenty years later, Prescott Bush’s son, George H.W. Bush, championed family planning as an important backer of Title X, the program which helps Planned Parenthood get millions of federal dollars every year. GOP President Richard Nixon signed the legislation that passed with a bipartisan vote. H.W. Bush went on to support population control and family planning services around the world. Conservatives forced him, however, to follow the GOP’s anti-abortion position, and by 1989, he eliminated funding for the U.N. program that he supported ten years earlier. Jeb Bush knows that he can’t get elected with support for the evangelicals, and that means he has to be strongly against women’s reproductive rights.

The worst STD rates are in the United States are in Georgia. State legislators have decided to make the rates worse by stopping STD testing kits to Planned Parenthood. State school law mandates abstinence training in sex education with no information about safe sex. Georgia pharmacists can legally deny filling prescriptions for birth control for “religious” reasons. Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal has kept 600,000 people in his state from getting health insurance. At the same time, he is spending thousands of taxpayer dollars investigating Planned Parenthood despite all the other investigations that have proved that Planned Parenthood has not broken the law. In Texas, the state with the highest rate of uninsured people of any state, Planned Parenthood cannot afford to offer cancer screenings because of state defunding.

The United States has organizations dedicated to shutting down Planned Parenthood. The sole purpose of some legislators is to make abortion and birth control illegal. For example, a new bill in Wisconsin would lower birth control reimbursement rates for safety net providers serving low-income women to a level that could shut most or all of these health centers down. When GOP presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker defunded Planned Parenthood, he shut down five of the mostly rural health centers that didn’t perform abortions but did screen for cervical and breast cancer. In 2013, 25 percent fewer women have access to a woman’s health center in Wisconsin than in 2010 when Walker became governor. State laws prevent the use of public funds for abortion services, but states want to deny federal family planning funds to providers, including Planned Parenthood.

A leader in stopping Planned Parenthood, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is supported by the wealthy Koch brothers. This is a group that provides state legislators with ready-made conservative legislation. ALEC pretends not to address social issues such as abortion, but national anti-choice groups exhibited model policies and rubber fetuses at the recent ALEC convention. They share the same funding sources and goals—electing Republicans to carry out the extremist conservative agenda.

Debate moderators need to ask GOP presidential candidates why they are so determined to cause more pregnancies by stopping access to birth control. Candidates should also be asked why their position on “smaller government” doesn’t apply to women’s medical decisions, which legislators are determined to make for them. As studies show, the greater the access to contraception, the fewer unwanted pregnancies. Mike Huckabee talks about abortion demonstrating the moral depravity in the United States. This “depravity” would dissolve if Huckabee—and all his conservative colleagues—would help women from getting pregnant.

The good news is that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is warnng states that defunding Planned Parenthood may be illegal by restricting beneficiary access to services. State Medicaid programs are required to cover family-planning services and supplies for anyone of child-bearing age. Defunding agreements with Planned Parenthood would limit beneficiaries’ access to care and services from qualified providers of their choice.

A sixth video asserting wrong-doing on the part of Planned Parenthood has surfaced. Here is an explanation of how it was doctored to make watchers believe that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law.

March 1, 2015

If the U.S. Becomes a Theocracy

The Republicans want to take over the United States, and the first thing they might do with control is to make the nation a Christian theocracy—if they decide to please their constituency. According to a Public Policy Polling survey, 57 percent of Republicans “support establishing Christianity as the national religion” while 30 percent are opposed. Another 13 percent said they were not sure. Those 57 percent are most likely the ones who like to refer to themselves as “Constitutional Conservatives,” ignoring the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

This past week, an Idaho county Republican party pushed a resolution to make the state a “formally and specifically declared a Christian state.” A local activist said, “We’re a Christian community in a Christian state and the Republican Party is a Christian party.” The county is in northern Idaho heavily populated by white supremacist groups like Christian Identity and the Aryan Brotherhood. Although the resolution was defeated by the state GOP, it received support.

U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Hluchaniuk does understand equal access. In Michigan, he ruled that the city of Warren would have to allow a “reason station” at the city hall if it has a “prayer station.” Without any reference to “freedom of religion” or “separation of church and state,” he ruled that in “the reason station will be allowed to operate on terms not less favorable than the terms granted to the prayer station.”  Hluchaniuk also ordered the city of Warren to pay the ACLU $100,000 for costs and attorney fees. In his denial to atheist Douglas Marshall for the reason station, Mayor James Fouts had written, “To my way of thinking, your group is strictly an anti-religion group intending to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms or at least discourage the practice of religion.” For the past six years, Warren had allowed volunteers to distribute religious material, offer to pray with passersby, and discuss their religious beliefs. Marshall wanted to offer philosophical discussions with passersby who express an interest in a secular belief system.

The American Family Association was so outraged that it put the win for freedom of religion second on its list of anti-Christian bigotry. The first one is “Anti-Christian SPLC admits their hate misdirected” after the organization removed Ben Carson from its extremist watch list despite his hatred of LGBT people.

Last month, June Griffin, a “longtime crusader for Christian values,” gave the opening prayer for the Tennessee Senate, starting by asking the Lord to protect the people of the state from Medicaid. She wanted to “let the people know that our coverage is the same as with Moses and the children of Israel when they went through the wilderness with only the divine providence of almighty God.” In the past, she had stolen a Mexican flag from a grocery store, saying that the flag  was an “act of war” and it “insulted my citizenship.”

According to Bryan Fischer, torture is a “Christian principle,” and terrorists deserve to be tortured because Americans value Christian values. Despite the Eighth Amendment, which prevents legal torture, he says that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Geneva Convention protects terrorists from torture.

In South Carolina, a first-year state representative Jonathon Hill issued a survey with 30 questions to judicial candidates including their “personal relationship” with the “Supreme Being,” whether they would perform a gay marriage, and how they would rule if a woman sued for equal pay. The South Carolina legislature selects judges. Staffers emailed candidates to tell them that they didn’t have to answer most of these questions. Hill said he would do a better job next year.

A mentor program receiving Ohio taxpayer funding from “Community Connectors” requires that the schools partner with both a church and a non-profit business.  Gov. John Kasich’s spokesman, Rob Nichols, said, “The governor believes faith-based organizations play an important role in the lives of young people.” The law does not mandate the religious involvement—but the governor does.

According to Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, the White House and governments in Europe have been “infiltrated” by Muslims. His claim was made on Bill O’Reilly’s program who has been highlighted for several of his lies in the past week, including his explanation that seeing photographs of killed nuns is exactly the same thing as seeing the dead nuns themselves. In a segment about the “persecution of Christians” by ISIS, O’Reilly asked Graham why the world is reluctant to enter a holy war in the Middle East. Graham explained that the reason is that Muslims are advising President Obama. At least O’Reilly asked for names of the advisers, but Graham needed to “get those for you, Bill.” He said he has been told about this by a number of people, the same answer that is becoming increasingly common when people make outrageous claims that they cannot support.

viral plea for identityThe growing popularity of “Christian homeschooling” gained some unwanted media coverage when 19-year-old Alecia Pennington created a viral plea for help to prove that she really existed. Her parents had refused to get her a social security number, a birth certificate, or any form of medical history; technically she is undocumented, despite having been born in Texas. She can’t get a job, she can’t attend college, she can’t rent or buy a home or car. She managed to escape her home with the help of her grandparents. Her mother, Lisa Pennington, writes extensively about homeschooling and speaks at conferences. In her blog, she blames Alecia for taking advice from a “godless woman.”

Jennyfer Austin had a similar experience. Adopted by a fundamentalist Christian family, her birth certificate and Social Security number were hidden from her. Her parents forbid her from dating, and she couldn’t even hold hands with a boy. She was forced to wear long skirts and blouses with high necklines and long sleeves. She recalled, “Even my swimsuit went down to my knees and had sleeves.” Her parents told her that she had been “sold” to a man twice her age, something that she and her friends call commonplace in her community. The parents asked only $25,000, half the average price, because she was “damaged goods” after being molested as a child. Refusing to marry the man, she was ordered to pay the would-be husband his $25,000. Austin fled her home at the age of 27 after finding the hiding place for her documents. The AHA Foundation has uncovered at least 3,000 cases like that of Austin in the past two years.

Imagine what the Fox network would have done if a Christian church had received the following:

“We are praying for civil war so we can start shooting you slime bags” — “We can’t wait until it’s ok to start bombing you f***ers and your kids so we can reduce the number of slime bags being born into this world, of ours” — and “You like your radical relatives serve no positive purpose on earth. Keep you (sic) eyes open.”

There was no publicity, however, because the letter was sent to a mosque in McHenry County (IL).

What do Christians do when they encounter alternative opinions?  Roland Hesse, a student at Billy Graham’s alma mater Wheaton College, threw an apple at another student, Philip Fillion, who questioned the theological consistency of the school’s position against homosexuality and threatened him with “destruction.” The altercation happened during the same week that another Wheaton student at the religious school was arrested for allegedly secretly filming a female Wheaton student in her shower since October 2014.

One blogger has written about a woman accosted by a Christian evangelist with the typical speech about persecuted Christians and the need for more God in schools, government, etc. The woman responded, “If God needs government to defend Him, doesn’t that make him pretty weak?” As the blogger wrote, “How omnipotent is a Supreme Being whose influence will wane without His glory being touted daily in public schools?” The conclusion: “[No conservative] wants to be seen worshiping some lame-ass, welfare-moocher, 47%ish, taker God.”

 

September 28, 2014

Control by Religious Fanatics

ISIL has established school curriculum in the occupied Iraqi city of Mosul, declaring that it seeks to “eliminate ignorance, to spread religious sciences, and to fight the decayed curriculum.” History classes are on hold until a revised history can be written and codified, and offensive pictures are to be removed from textbooks. Science classes are to be taught in accordance with religious doctrine, including the banning of evolution as a subject. In its anti-homosexual, anti-women and pro-death penalty approach, ISIL opposes all other religions. Imagine if you woke up in the morning and found yourself in a country controlled by religious fanatics? That would happen in the U.S. on November 5, the day after this year’s general elections.

Political right-wing leaders in the United States support the following:

Texas is trying to approve new textbooks that place Moses into history lessons.

The Wilks brothers, Farris and Dan, are using millions of dollars gained from fracking to put the Bible back into public schools. Their church, Assembly of Yahweh (7th Day), believes “That the Bible, as originally given, was true and correct in every scientific and historical detail. Every translation of the Bible is not necessarily one hundred percent correct, however.”

“Religious” organizations—including businesses—object to telling the federal government the names of insurance providers because their female employees might be able to get birth control from the government.

The Family Research Council Values Voters Summit had speeches from many political leaders, including presidential wannabes Bobbie Jindal, LA governor and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin also made an appearance. An FRC premise is that freedom of religion applies only to Christians who oppose same-sex marriage. Bobbie Jindal calls anti-discrimination laws a “silent war on religious liberty.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson believes that the Bible supports genocide of those who oppose against people of different religious beliefs.

Oklahoma’s GOP state Senator John Bennett claimed in a town hall meeting all Muslims are violent and need to be removed from the U.S. like “a cancer” that “needs to be cut out.” Complaining about the violence in the Koran, he ignored the fact that the Bible has more violence than the Islam holy book. Religion historian Philip Jenkins said on NPR, “Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Koran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wants the federal government to spy on mosques to defeat ISIL. The U.S. estimates that ISIL has about 12 U.S. citizens in the country, but most of the Muslims in this country rejects the organization. They view ISIL as an abomination because it deviates from Islam fundamentals in destroying Qur’an copies, murdering Muslims, killing innocent youths, using rape and sexual slavery.

After a teacher harassed a student and threatened punishment for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the ninth-grader contacted the American Humanist Association for help. The Supreme Court ruling that compelling people to recite the Pledge violates the First Amendment hasn’t reached Beaufort County, South Carolina. Although a form of the Pledge was written in 1892, “under God” wasn’t added until 1954.

Kentucky senate candidate Robert Ransdell told listeners Constitution Day at Kentucky University that “I believe that there is no such thing as racial equality. You see that in our cities everyday.” He added, “Blacks used to know better when they did not see whites as…easy targets. When they knew that there were real consequences if they were to attack a white person, especially…a white woman or a white child. Black people are a race of savages living in a white nation.” This was after he posted 20 campaign signs across the Cincinnati suburb of Florence stating, “With Jews You Lose.” He has 200 more signs.

with jews we lose

Quiverfull is a fundamentalist Christianity that rejects all contraception, including family planning, as a form of abortion because the faithful must “out-populate the enemy” to win the culture wars. In this patriarchal cult, men are “leaders, teachers, initiators, protectors and providers,” and women are “helpmeets” who serve men by being “submissive and yielding.” Girls cannot date but must be “courted” under the watchful eye of the father until they can marry and “experience their first kiss at the marriage altar.” The Duggar family of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting are adherents to Quiverfull. Men who constantly criticize their families are “hating the sin, but loving the sinner.” Domestic abuse, economic and emotional, is praised in their beliefs. All the Quiverfull beliefs—that men and women have separate and complementary gender roles, that sex should be restricted to marriage and is primarily for procreation, that the secular world is a threat that children must be sheltered from—come directly from the mainstream conservative Christian movement.

Catholic priest Father Jonathan Morris, Fox network contributor, wanted to stop a Satanic black mass because it was “inciting violence” by mocking Christians. He said on The Fight for Faith that Oklahoma City must stop the mass because it has a “responsibility to defend the good governance of its people.” Morris used that excuse to declare that the mass was not “free speech” and therefore against the First Amendment. He used the examples of desecrating a Koran or speaking “pro-Nazi stuff right in front of my church” as non-protected speech. It actually is protected, but as stating Christian beliefs is protected by the First Amendment.

Televangelist Rodney Howard-Browne has claimed that the federal government, under President Obama’s orders, is building concentration camps and gas chambers while preparing to institute martial law. Howard-Browne is known for leading prayer groups with senior U.S. Congressmen, including Rep. David Jolly (R-FL). A “leading congressman” told the televangelist that the dollar is about to collapse, food will become scarce, and riots will start within 12 hours.

“For Christian swingers, things are not easy.” So reads the first line of a website advocating wife-swapping for Jesus. Cristy and Dean Parave had trouble finding other couples who wanted to discuss Bible verses while trading partners, so they now shop on the net. Cristy said that God created people “to breed and enjoy each other.” She’s also pretty sure that God wouldn’t be angry with wife-swapping. Want to take a look? Go to FitnessSwingers.com. Dean said, “I’m getting to people that probably never even visited church,” the usual excuse from Christians so that they can whatever they want. Last year, the website ChristianSwingers.com preached the same idea. Dean stated that he’ll keep swinging until God sends him a sign.

Wrestling also has its own group—the Christian Wrestling Federation. Their goal is “to be a Christian outreach ministry that shares the love of Jesus Christ, through wrestling events around the world.” Their website also uses the excuse that “the Bible says we are to use unique and different ways to reach people for Christ.” The CWF thinks that Jesus would like to see someone handcuffed to the ropes before getting stomped, chocked, and kicked. After this, the handcuffed person is released and led to a room where they are told to give their lives to Jesus Christ.

Hypocrisy from the religious right in Kansas: Massive tax cuts for the wealthy have left the state with a $238 million budget deficit by 2016. Instead of raising taxes for the wealthy, Kansas plans to pay for part of the deficit is to sell thousands of X-rated items seized from five sex shops in the state because the businesses didn’t pay $163,000 in states taxes.

August 7, 2014

U.S. Persecutes Pregnant Women

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was published almost 30 years ago as a dystopian view of the United States in the future. In the novel, the United States has changed into the totalitarian theocracy called the Republic of Gilead with the motto “One Nation, Under One God.” The writings in the Bible’s Old Testament ruled the country. Because much of the population in the novel is sterile because of environmental pollution, fertility is prized. The few fertile women have only one purpose—to make babies. Any fertile women who break rules and conventions are consigned to the status of “Handmaids,” forbidden from reading, working outside the home, or spending money.

Even in the Reagan era when it was first published, the premise seemed far-fetched. Yet, twenty-eight years later, the book seems far more realistic. Recently Atwood talked about the way to take control of the United States:

“Nations never build apparently radical forms of government on foundations that aren’t there already. … The deep foundation of the US – so went my thinking – was not the comparatively recent 18th-century Enlightenment structures of the republic, with their talk of equality and their separation of church and state, but the heavy-handed theocracy of 17th-century Puritan New England, with its marked bias against women, which would need only the opportunity of a period of social chaos to reassert itself.”

Although the U.S. Constitution has not been overturned—yet—areas of the U.S. are showing Gilead-like conditions, especially in the South. Between 2011 and 2013, 30 states enacted 205 abortion restrictions, more than the total of the previous decade. Anti-choice activists have used the Affordable Care Act to assault insurance coverage for contraception. In Hobby Lobby, they achieved a tremendous advantage in being able to disallow any contraception as causing abortions with no facts on their side.

Adding to the image of women as only fetus-holding vessels, states are beginning to hold women accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies. An Indiana woman was charged with attempted murder for a suicide attempt while she was pregnant; a Mississippi woman was indicted for “depraved heart murder” after traces of a cocaine byproduct were found in her stillborn baby’s blood. Across the country, hundreds of pregnant women have been detained, arrested and sometimes convicted on charges as serious as murder for activities that authorities viewed as dangerous or harmful to their unborn child.

While people claim that they are justified in their concern for the fetus, the need to control women comes from a demand for “traditional Christian values.” Recently, Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore ruled that the use of the word “child” in the state’s statute applies to a fetus:

“This natural life being, as was before observed, the immediate donation of the great creator, cannot legally be disposed of or destroyed by any individual, neither by the person himself nor by any other of his fellow creatures, merely upon their own authority.”

Moore used the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to give the same obligation to protecting a fetus as to “persons already born.” The mandate that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” begins with conception, according to Moore, even if the statement is in the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution.

The poorer states in the country have failed to accept Medicaid for most of their residents. Poor care for pregnant women results in higher infant mortality rates. Mississippi has the highest rate of infant deaths in the United States; Alabama is second. Tennessee has the fourth highest rate. None of these states accepts federal funds for Medicaid expansion, leaving the poorest and most vulnerable residents without access to health care. Yet women are held responsible for birth outcomes.

On July 1, Tennessee’s law to criminally charge pregnant women for using illicit drugs went into effect. Although the governor claimed that the purpose was to get pregnant women into drug treatment programs, the first woman to deliver a newborn testing positive for methamphetamine was arrested and charged with assault. At two days old, the newborn was too young for a medical diagnosis of drug-related harm.

The  American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology wrote:

“Although legal action against women who abuse drugs prenatally is taken with the intent to produce healthy birth outcomes, negative results are frequently cited. Incarceration and the threat of incarceration have proved to be ineffective in reducing the incidence of alcohol or drug abuse. Legally mandated testing and reporting puts the therapeutic relationship between the obstetrician–gynecologist and the patient at risk, potentially placing the physician in an adversarial relationship with the patient.

“Pregnant women who do not receive treatment for drug dependence cannot be assumed to have rejected treatment. The few drug treatment facilities in the United States accepting pregnant women often do not provide child care, account for the woman’s family responsibilities, or provide treatment that is affordable. As of 2010, only 19 states have drug treatment programs for pregnant women, and only nine give priority access to pregnant women.”

Criminalizing and disempowering women diverts attention away from the real problems of poverty, inadequate housing, food insecurity (aka hunger), lack of health care, violence, unemployment, environmental hazards, etc. The same people who place all the blame on the woman if her fetus is not perfect refuse to place regulations on the environment that will add to the fetus’s health. Many pregnant women tested for chemicals have high levels of lead, mercury, bisphenol A, flame retardants, pesticides that disrupt the development of the brain or reproductive systems. Some of the chemicals increase the risk of birth defects or cause future problems such as cancer, autoimmune issues, asthma, and other disorders.

Not all persecuted pregnant women are poor, however, or live in the South. After a woman told her doctor during a prenatal checkup that she had a history of medication addition but had quit on her own, he ordered her to take an anti-addiction drug. She refused, and the state arrested her and sent her to court in shackles where she was told that her fetus had a lawyer. She was sent to a treatment facility under threat of jail. Forced to spend three months there, she lost her job. Wisconsin is one of four states, along with Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, to legally confine pregnant women for substance abuse.

The conservative Wall Street Journal is complaining about giving equal employment rights to pregnant women after the EEOC issued new guidelines to oppose pregnancy discrimination. As common with arguments against regulations, the WSJ falsely claimed that pregnant women are already protected by federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that excluding pregnant women from some workplace benefits is not sex-based discrimination.  This was after the court did admit that “pregnancy-related disabilities constitute an additional risk, unique to women.” Congress passed a law in 1978 to nullify the Supreme Court ruling in connection to Title VII employment law, but the court’s ruling still leaves pregnant workers “unprotected under federal law.”

Women working at Pier 1, Walmart, and other companies have been forced to take unpaid leave because their doctors prescribed light duty. Even non-pregnant fertile women suffer discrimination. A battery manufacturing company excluded all fertile women from jobs that might pose a hazard to unborn children but didn’t exclude fertile men. A high-level executive was demoted two weeks after she told her manager she was planning to get pregnant although she had always receive outstanding performance reviews.

Democrats continually introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and Republicans continually kill it. Ten states have passed laws of varying strength to protect pregnant workers: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and West Virginia. New York City and Philadelphia also have city-wide protections. Mississippi is not one of those states, and that’s where the Christian, family-friendly person-corporation Hobby Lobby supposedly fired a pregnant woman without giving her an opportunity for maternity leave.

As the nation gradually moves toward making the pregnant woman solely responsible for the health and well-being of the fetus, the United States becomes more and more like the Republic of Gilead. In Atwood’s country, there is no need for amniocentesis, ultrasound, or other modern prenatal health detection techniques, because abortion is illegal and medical doctors who perform them face capital punishment. At least Gilead takes care of the children after they are born; the United States won’t even do that.

The United States has become a country where pregnant women can be persecuted and prosecuted without having many rights guaranteed to other people under the U.S. Constitution. Unlike over industrialized nations, pregnant women don’t automatically receive health care for herself and the fetus and lack a guarantee of medical leave for delivery.

 

 

July 20, 2014

‘What Would Jesus Do?’ – Christians Claim to Know

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:46 PM
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Prionda C. Hill, 25, ran over motorcyclist Anthony Oliveri and blamed God. She was behind the wheel of a car in Fort Wayne (IN) “when God told her He would take it from here.” The “accident” broke all Oliveri’s ribs on the left side, damaged his spleen, bruised his kidney, and gave him road rash over most of his back and limbs. Fortunately—according to Oliveri—God saved his life, perhaps in apology for being a bad driver.

In Orange County, elementary teacher Thomas Hammer, 58, testified that God told him to attack a skateboarder—for the second time.

That’s just a bit of information sent from on high as people ask for Jesus’ advice, including what kind of assault rifle they should buy.

Jesus would build a fence to keep  unaccompanied minors from Central America out of the United States, according to Texas megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress. He said that it’s “the most compassionate thing to do” because the lack of a fence is “enticing  children and mothers to make this dangerous journey.”

Jesus would oppose universal health care, according to over three-fourths of Republicans in a YouGov poll. The GOP scripture reads:

“You were hungry and thirsty, so I eliminated funding for Meals on Wheels and food banks. You were a stranger, so I vilified you and demanded you be deported. You were naked, so I called you an evil liberal who hates conservative family values. You were sick, so I repealed your only hope for health care. You were in prison, so I tortured you.”

Jesus would oppose stricter gun laws, according to the same survey, although Jesus didn’t face guns.

A woman called on Jesus—and then Pat Robertson–for advice after her son heard sounds sending shock waves through his body and then felt as if someone had hit him hard in the stomach. Jesus didn’t answer, but Pat Robertson diagnosed the problem as demonic possession.  He advised the mother to get “somebody with you that understands the spiritual dimension and spiritual warfare…. you don’t want some quack in there that’s casting out nonexistent demons!”  She should also think about her family: “Do you have anybody involved in the occult, somebody in witchcraft or tarot cards or psychic things?”

On his 700 Club, Robertson also claimed that watching the show can cure asthma and rebuking deafness will heal the disorder. When this didn’t work for the caller, Robertson blamed her for not doing the rebuking correctly.

Because Christians rule in the United States, the entire populace is largely forced to abide by their beliefs. The fundamentalists’ persecution complex has made them even stronger in their belief that they must force their beliefs on everyone:

Oppose protections and rights for children: The U.S. stands alone with Somalia in failing to ratify  the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Christian justification is that the Bible tells parents to hit their children. Parents own children and can be killed in accordance with the father’s religious beliefs and other priorities.

Denying youth accurate information about their bodies: Christians mandated that the federal government spend one billion dollars during the past decade on abstinence-only education programs–which failed–because fundamentalists think that virginity is next to godliness and teaching prohibition works. Over one-fourth of girls become pregnant before they are 20 years old, and half the girls who give birth in high school drop out of education. Only two percent of them graduate from college.

Demean and subjugate women: Christians refuse to believe in the dignity and equality of women, starting with the rejection of females in church leadership. Even female GOP legislators believe that women are not smart enough to understand the GOP platform.

Prevent intentional childbearing: Martin Luther wrote, “If a woman dies in [child]bearing, let her die; she is there to do it.” That’s the current belief of legislators who prevent women from family planning by closing women’s clinics and blocking contraception. Last month, Christians in the U.S. Congress voted to slash family planning aid by 25 percent, and the five Catholic men on the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the “religious freedom” of corporations is more important than the right of working women to care for their health and their families.

Undermine science: Valerie Tarico writes, “We know now that the Genesis creation story is myth, neurotransmitters rather than demons cause mental illness, mandrake roots and dove blood don’t improve female fertility or cure skin diseases, and the cognitive structures of the human mind predispose us to certain kinds of religious belief.” In fighting solutions to climate change, resource depletion, and growing health problems, Christians follow their centuries-old history: their personal ends justifies the means.

Promote holy war: In the current debate on Israel actions toward the Palestinians in Gaza, fundamentalist Christians cheering Israelis because “it is written in the scripture.” Tarico describes the conversation with Evangelical relatives about the Iraq war that led to her epiphany to reject Bible worshop:

“From the vantage of my relatives and my childhood church ‘family,’ George Bush needed no diplomatic or cultural expertise; he was Born Again. He didn’t need to seek input from his earthly father about the invasion, because he asked his Heavenly Father. Besides, Jesus is coming soon and war in the Middle East is predicted in the Bible. That makes it not only inevitable, but—in a manner of speaking—desirable.”

Abuse and kill LGBTQ people: Christian missionaries cause African and Latin American LGBTQ people to live with the threat of violent death. Oppression in Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia comes from U.S. Christians who moved their homophobic message to these countries after failing in the United States.

Destroy the earth for future generations: The Bible promotes the belief that humans are more important than any other being and that this world is only prelude to the streets of gold, leading Christians to the belief that humans should do anything, no matter how destructive, and there is no need to care for future generations on the earth.

Heritage Academy in Mesa (AZ) is a prime example of how Christians distort history to promote their agenda. Required reading in the charter school, supported financially by taxpayers, is Cleon Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America which teach the lies that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that blacks were better off under slavery than they are as a free people.

According to Fred Albert Shannon’s essay:

“If [black children] ran naked it was generally from choice, and when the white boys had to put on shoes and go away to school they were likely to envy the freedom of their colored playmates.”

After Americans United for Separation of Church and State brought the teachings of the Heritage Academy to light, Glenn Beck gave a sales pitch for Skousen’s book: “Teach it to your children. Read it to them at night. Bring it to the dinner table. It will be the only chance they have to actually learn American history.”

On his Facebook page, GOP candidate Jim Brown for the Arizona 2nd Congressional District wrote in a post that slavery was good for blacks because slave owners took care of their livestock. Two years earlier, an Arkansas Republican called slavery a “blessing in disguise.” The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) defended slavery in 2013, and the same year a Nevada Republican said he would vote to bring slavery back if his constituents wanted him to do so.

Christians who want to believe in the myths of the Bible should have the right to do this. They should not, however, have the right to foist their arrogant control on everyone else. The Bible comes from “a time of incredible brutality—tribalism, warfare, destitution, disease, murder, misogyny, sexual slavery and superstition of biblical proportions.” We should not have to go back to those times because Christians lead our country.

Jesus would probably not want this to happen.

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