Nel's New Day

April 24, 2016

Conservatives Use God as Justification

About going back into politics, Marco Rubio, failed GOP presidential candidate, said, “We’ll see if God offers us another opportunity in the future.” Let’s hope that God has more sense than Rubio. Below are other lawmakers that God should turn down.

Answering the question about funding a defense for Oklahoma’s latest unconstitutional attack on women, state Rep. David Brumbaugh said that God will pay all the legal expenses as well as fixing the state’s disintegrating economy. The state has a $1.3 billion deficit. Last week, the state House passed SB1552 that revokes the license of any doctor who performs an abortion other than for women who have miscarriages or have endangered lives. If the Senate passes House amendments to the bill, which looks likely, and Gov. Mary Fallin signs the bill, which looks likely, women can’t even get a legal abortion within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy when 90 percent of these surgeries are performed. Brumbaugh compared passing this bill to the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Act, and the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a place where religious conservatives go to pat themselves on the back because they are better than the rest of the people in the United States. It’s also a place where they plan to make everyone in the nation believe the same way that they do. Many of their positions will be found in The Federalist. George W. Carey explained that its readers “would agree with Clinton Rossiter that it stands with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution among the “sacred writings of American political history.” One of these authors of “sacred writings,” Henry Scanlon, published a piece explaining how women who share his views are “incredibly attractive,” whereas the women on the left are manly. In one paragraph of his 2,000 word piece, he writes:

“The young women who attend CPAC are spectacular. No kidding: What’s up with this concentration of incredibly attractive young, conservative women? It’s noticeable and remarkable. They are beautiful and stylish in the way French women often are, which is to say in their own way, not in a conforming or predictable way. They all look like the girl the high school quarterback wants to date, and they are confident, relaxed, and smart, joking amongst themselves.”

He has an explanation for this incredible beauty: daring to read Ayn Rand makes young women “the prettiest, smartest girls” because they have an inner confidence. Scanlon’s wife told him that it’s because these women don’t act like boys which is ugly and they are willing to take fashion risks like Parisian trendsetters. In addition, Scanlon thinks that women get wrinkles from being “politically correct.” In essence, conservative women are “freer” because they don’t have to think. And of course, because God favors registered Republicans. Now we know what religious Republicans are thinking about at CPAC.

In addition to ogling young women at CPAC, Republicans are writing letters in support of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and asking for leniency for the recently-convicted child molester. Among 40 letters of support for Hastert is one from Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority whip who helped make Hastert the speaker and wrote that he is a man of “strong faith” and “great integrity.” DeLay wrote:

“We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.”

Dennis HastertWhile part of the movement to impeach President Bill Clinton over an extramarital affair between consenting adults, Hastert covered up Rep. Mark Foley’s inappropriate relationships with young Congressional male pages. Legislators in southern states are in a panic about molesters in their women’s bathrooms. Lawmakers, here’s what a child molester looks like. The sentencing for the man who was two heartbeats away from the presidency for eight years is this coming Wednesday. It is not for his molesting children but instead for a financial crime. (More about Hastert here.)

Many fundamentalist Christians, finding Donald Trump too liberal, are turning toward Ted Cruz as a presidential candidate in November. Their question now is whether he’s the kind of fundamentalist that they want. Cruz’ father, foreign policy adviser Jerry Boykin, PAC leader David Barton—and possibly Cruz himself—are “Seven Mountains Dominionists” who want to take over seven cultures: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. Those who say that Cruz is just a “constitutionalist” see Dominionism as an “elastic” concept and avoid talking about the Dominionist influence on Cruz.

Every year since 1952, the President of the United States has been forced to sign a proclamation declaring the observation of the National Day of Prayer despite the 7th Circuit Court ruling that Congress’s law is unconstitutional. Alabama state Rep. Mack Butler wants to push religion into government ever farther with his proposal of a resolution demanding that the United States become a Christian nation banning abortion and returning to “traditional values.” His proposal follows the first “whereas” that “God has blessed America, where freedom exists for all, regardless of belief or creed.”

God wanted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to make a fortune off securities fraud, according to the man who’s charged with an alleged kickback deal in which he persuaded people to invest in a company. After his friends put $840,000 in Servergy, Inc., Paxton, who failed to tell them his connection to the company, got 100,000 shares of stock. Paxton claims that the shares were a gift from Servergy’s CEO, William Mapp, because Mapp told him the shares were a gift while they were eating at a Dairy Queen.

Texas has many links to Christianity. The state Board of Education has managed to insert fundamentalist Christianity into the textbooks that then infiltrate the United States, and the Board’s new leader doesn’t believe in science. The woman assigned to head the state’s Board of Education is a home schooler who doesn’t believe in science. Mary Lou Bruner, a woman running for the Board of Education, thinks that the Middle East is forcing Islam content into the textbooks by buying the books. She also has some other bizarre claims, including her accusation that President Obama is a gay prostitute. With a Masters of Education degree from East Texas State University, Bruner has worked as a teacher and counselor in Texas public schools for 36 years. Last November, the board approved about 90 social studies textbooks deemed inaccurate, biased, and politicized.

Almost a year ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a mental health bill on advice from Scientology lobbying. SB 359 would permit hospitals to detail potentially dangerous for several hours in order that they be evaluated. Scientology does not believe in mental illness and purports that the 9/11 attacks were spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden’s psychiatrist.

While engaged in child molesting, other crimes, demolition of the economy, sexism, and falsehoods through their attempts to put fundamentalist Christians into a secular government, Republicans move forward in their attempts to destroy women’s lives. South Dakota plans to be the third state after Arizona and Arkansas that forces doctors to lie about the pseudoscience that a pill will reverse abortions in progress. The theory is based on a physician’s anecdotal case report who tested something on about six patients who said they regretted swallowing the abortion pill. Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, said that doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women.” Now legislators with no medical training are forcing doctors to do just that in at least three states.

Cecile Richards, director of Planned Parenthood, said, “A woman voting for Ted Cruz is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.” I would say that her statement holds true for the vast majority of Republicans now running for office.

August 10, 2014

Conservatives Claim Moral High Ground But Ignore Bible, Constitution

God—and the U.S. Supreme Court—gave people the right to discriminate, according to Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). That’s why they’re pushing a bill, “The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014,” allowing adoption and foster care centers to discriminate against same-sex couples. Nowhere does the language in the bill use references to LGBT people, and it is so vague that any organization can discriminate against anyone if its “sincerely held religious beliefs” are being infringed. The senators claim that the bill is meant to “ensure children can continue to get care from people of faith,” but the bill is intended to give special rights to religious organizations.

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who started a range war against the U.S. government, told a gathering last week that his vendetta was between good and evil. Providing him personal inspiration, God told Bundy, “This is your chance to straighten this thing up.” At least that’s what Bundy claims. He added that people rallied around him because they were “spiritually touched.” The “touched” might have been accurate. Bundy’s big concern at the gathering was that only about 100 people attended. He asked:

“Where is all of your college students? Where’s our young and where’s our old? Where’s our black and where’s our brown? Where are you people? Aren’t you interested in freedom and liberty?”

Although Mormon, Bundy is the perfect example of Tea Party believers. They claim that they want religion back into politics, but what they want is just their own religion represented throughout the country. Despite their claims that the movement is secular, it is religious, founded in spiritual revival and zealotry. Their devotional belief system mandates how people should live, how society should function, what is right and wrong, and who should—and shouldn’t—lead the country.

The basis of their system is a refusal to compromise. The Tea Partiers’ moral imperative is that they will shut down the government before bending on any legislation just as Samson pulled down the pillars of the temple. Their bellicose nature keeps them from reasonable disagreements about fiscal or foreign policies. Anyone who opposes their dogma in government, economics, race, and sex are infidels. Heretics are burned at the primaries.

The Antichrist of the Tea Party religion is the illegitimate Barack Obama must be opposed just like the lesser demons of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Tea Partiers blame them for any problems in the past six years. Washington, D.C. is the seat of corruption in the same way that Rome was before Christ. The solution for Tea Partiers is to undermine the government while pretending to repair it. To do this, Tea Partiers put forward the vision of Paradise from the white, male, Christian country after the Civil War with plantocracy in the South and plutocracy in the North. States rights put blacks in their place, and robber barons fought off the sinful labor laws, unions, and income tax. The cry of “take back America” means a return to the Gilded Age when immigrants, minorities, and women knew their subservient place to the ruling whites.

Without reading the U.S. Constitution, the Tea Partiers have proclaimed this document as its holy text and themselves as solely responsible for its interpretation. If literal readings serve their purpose, they follow the words exactly, cherry-picking text as they do in the Bible. An example is the omission of “a well regulated Militia” in the NRA’s printing of the Second Amendment at its headquarters and the rulings concerning the militia until the past 30 years.

A return to states’ rights got a big boost from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he stated that separation of church and state was never intended in the states. He claims that the only purpose of the Establishment Clause is to protect states from federal interference; it “does not protect any individual right.” His position goes back over 20 years to a SCOTUS case about whether states could have term limits on Congressional representatives. A 5-4 ruling determined that the state could not limit federal terms because the Constitution had no amendment allowing them to do this.

Thomas was on the losing side, and he wasn’t happy. “The ultimate source of the Constitution’s authority is the consent of the people of each individual state, not the consent of the undifferentiated people of the nation as a whole,” he wrote. If there was nothing in the constitution, then states had the power by default. That argument has failed for over 200 years, but Tea Partiers agree with Thomas. They cannot acknowledge that the constitution is an agreement among the citizens of the United States and not among 50 independent republics.

To increase acceptance of the U.S. Constitution among fundamentalist Christians, far-right political figures claim that the document comes from the Christian god. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) explained the process: “Jesus destroyed Satan so that we could be free and that is manifested in what is called the Constitution of the United States. God created this nation and God created the Constitution; it is written on biblical principles.” DeLay gave Texas politics to the GOP by putting Republicans into the Texas House with corporate money so that gerrymandering could keep Democrats out of the legislature.

A big victory for Tea Partiers, at least temporarily, was the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the family that owns Hobby Lobby, and the family is not finished. After starting to push its Christian curriculum into public schools, the Greens plan a Bible museum two blocks south of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the home of history, science, and art museums. Steve Green explained why:

“This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. If we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

The text of the Tea Partiers’ Bible is actually opposed to all of them who want small government. According to 2 Peter, 2:10-15, false prophets are those who “despise government.” These government-haters are “wells without water” and “clouds that are carried with a tempest”; they are those “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” Verse 17 provides disgusting descriptions that I won’t include. God’s judgment of these government-haters “lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (Verse 3).

To those who condemn LGBT people, the Bible states:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” – Romans 2:1

About abortion, God commanded women accused of adultery to drink an abortion-producing potion. Under Jewish law, the fetus is the same as “water” during the first 40 days. Abortion is always commanded when the mother’s life is endangered at any time during the pregnancy. The God who handed down Jewish law is the God of Christianity.

The Bible supports charity, loving your enemies, putting down your weapons, not judging others, welcoming the foreigner at the gates, putting others before yourself, not lording yourself over others, and not despising the government.

November 3, 2013

Church v. State

Church v, state is a topic before the conservative U.S. Supreme Court this coming week in a case about Christian clergy calling on God’s guidance for the town board meetings in Greece, a Rochester (NY) suburb. During the last decade, opening prayers were given by only three non-Christians—a Baha’i, a Jew, and a Wiccan priestess. And that was after the lawsuit was filed. The 2nd Circuit Court agreed unanimously that board meetings should be secular, but SCOTUS decided to take the case on appeal.

Last year, a federal appeals court referred to the “steady drumbeat” of Christian invocations  that violates the Constitution’s prohibition of government’s religious endorsement. This year, or probably next June, we’ll see what the ultra-conservative court of six Catholics, two Jews, and one Protestant have to say about separation of church and state, the court that begins with the phrase “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

Thirty years ago, SCOTUS said that these Christian invocations are just fine in March v. Chambers. To decide otherwise, they would have to overturn the precedent, but the conservative majority, led by Chief Justice John Robert, has shown great comfort in doing this. In Marsh, the Nebraska legislature employed a Presbyterian minister to give invocations for 16 years with people as spectators. The clergy in Greece asks the public to participate in the town hall prayers. The U.S. Congress employs a chaplain, perhaps one of the reasons that President Obama is supporting Christianity in the Greece town hall meetings.

Another church v. state lawsuit may erupt now that cadets at the Air Force Academy are no longer forced to recite “So help me God” as part of the school’s Honor Oath. The religious right decided that this change discriminates against Christian cadets. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council claims that this proves Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation “has been trying to drive evangelicals out of the Academy for over a decade.”

In his protest, Perkins used the myth that George Washington initiated the phrase “So help me God.” According to the Library of Congress, James Madison, a strong proponent of separation of church and state, headed a legislative committee that deleted the phrase.  Chester Arthur was the first president to use the phrase. The non-secular phrase wasn’t used at the Air Force Academy until 1984.

In other revisionist history, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) explained the inception of the U.S. Constitution: “Jesus destroyed Satan so that we could be free and that is manifested in what is called the Constitution of the United States. God created this nation and God created the Constitution; it is written on biblical principles.”

A Texas appellate court overturned Delay’s conviction for allegedly scheming to influence Texas state elections with corporate money. He was at the “C Street House,” the place where many of the extremist religious members of Congress live or go to pray, when he heard the news.

Prosecutors said that Delay’s actions and money helped the GOP win the control of the Texas House and then push through a gerrymandering of districts that now tries to stop many Democrats from voting. The Department of Justice is currently participating in lawsuits against the gerrymandering, claiming it unfairly draws minority communities out of certain districts. While Speaker of the House, Delay earned his nickname, “The Hammer,” for his command of the House GOP.

DeLay also talked last week about his four-hour “conference call with the Lord.” According to Delay, God told him that he is to write a book called Shut It Down about the need for Constitutional revival. God also told Bill O’Reilly to write Killing Jesus, according to O’Reilly. In addition, God told DeLay that He has heard the voice of His people and that “my awakening is beginning,” in which DeLay will play a role.

Possibly even more intent on the government forcing Christianity on the United States, a Massachusetts state representative has sponsored a bill to create a mandatory class in Bible and international religions for “the purposes of teaching morality and brotherhood” to high school students. Objective religious studies are not banned by the U.S. Constitution, but “morality and brotherhood” make this bill questionable. The bill’s sponsor, Christopher Fallon, is a Democrat who endorsed Scott Brown in opposition to Elizabeth Warren for U.S. senate.

Also last week, the Public Religion Research Institute released its annual American Values Survey showing religio-political differences between Libertarians and Tea Party members. Each of the first two groups comprise seven percent of U.S. adults. An additional 15 percent lean toward libertarian views, socially liberal and economically conservative, with another 17 percent learning toward the Tea Party. As the report indicated, the survey was done before the Tea Party endorsed the government shutdown.

Libertarians: 94 percent non-Hispanic white; 68 percent male; average age, 44 (national average, 47) compared to 51 in the Tea Party; 27 percent each Protestants and no religious identity, 11 percent Catholic, 6 percent non-Christian faith, and 4 percent another Christian group; 5 percent Democrats and 45 percent Republicans.

Because a libertarian in a political race is more likely to take votes from the Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli is in even more trouble for his gubernatorial run in Virginia than his recent fraudulent actions might predict. Libertarian Party Robert Sarvis is likely to gather votes from young white male voters, giving the advantage to Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday’s election.

The one major exception to libertarians’ socially liberal views: 59 percent of them oppose legalizing marriage equality. Yet only 22 percent of libertarians belong to the religious right while 52 percent of Tea Partiers are part of this movement. The two groups don’t have much crossover: 61 percent of libertarians do not belong to the Tea Party movement, and 75 percent of Tea Partiers are not libertarians. Those in the Tea Party prefer Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president; libertarians prefer Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Even more libertarians (96 percent) oppose the Affordable Care Act, compared to 78 percent of Tea Partiers. Raising the minimum wage also ires both groups, libertarians more (65 percent) than Tea Partiers (57 percent). That’s the perspective that Republicans who wish to lean in a more moderate position or even compromise with the opposition face in Congress.

The new pope continues to criticize his flock as he rails against right-wing “ideological Christians”:

“When a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new.”

Pope Francis followed this up with a comparison of the mindless pursuit of money to idolatry:

“Having more, having more, having more… It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not money, but the attitude, what we call greed. Then too this greed makes you sick, because it makes you think of everything in terms of money. It destroys you, it makes you sick. And in the end – this is the most important thing – greed is an instrument of idolatry because it goes along a way contrary to what God has done for us.”

The problem with “greed,” according to the pope, is the hoarding, like the top 1 percent of the people in the United States. And the people in Congress who are used by money-hoarders like the Koch brothers. The 61 Catholics in the House and nine Catholics in the Senate are a large enough block to keep the others from destroying Social Security, Medicare, and the safety net, including health and food. The pope is speaking directly to them.

Pope Francis was so intent on his message about the evil of greed that he suspended German Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who some called Bishop Deluxe or the Bishop of Bling. With an estimated cost of $55 million for his official residence, the bishop will not know his destiny until after he submits a detailed report of construction expenses. Although the Vatican exudes opulence, the pope refuses to live in the papal residence and has urged prelates to adopt a more humble lifestyle.

Once the pope dispenses with the bishop, he may get around to telling members of Congress that they are ideological and greedy. I’m hoping!

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