Mocking Pence For Hearing Voices Is Not Religious Intolerance

It is fairly well-acknowledged by some Americans that freedom of speech does not include the freedom to express an opinion that fails to praise and venerate the Christian religion and its adherents. Even though members of the religious right, particularly Republican members, routinely demean all manner of humans for being out of compliance with the bastardized version of Christianity that American evangelicals embrace, they feign being persecuted at the perception of an untoward remark about their religion.

Apparently, being outraged at the truth about their faith has something to do with the faithful always having to feel persecuted, which is itself a complete mystery. Especially in America where evangelicals hold great sway over society and persecute the rest of the population under the guise of religious freedom.

Recently, there was some bizarre outrage toward an entertainer for what evangelicals claim is being bigoted toward, and persecuting, Christians. Of course Fox News and an ultra-right wing outfit joined in the “outrage” and attempted to fan the flames by attacking “liberal media bias” driving attacks on poor persecuted evangelicals.

Most of the latest outrage originated with America’s aspiring “preacher in chief,” Mike Pence. Pence took umbrage at comments from a pair of television celebrities for expressing their concern over the man “one cheeseburger away from the presidency” hearing voices no-one else hears.

Hearing voices, no matter whose voices, is ‘generally’ a sign of mental illness. According to the Mental Health Foundation:

Between 5% and 28% of the general population hears voices that other people do not. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination in people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.”

 Apparently during a segment on ABC’s “The View” a little over two weeks ago, one of the co-hosts, Sunny Hostin, remarked:

“I don’t know that I want my vice president, um – speaking in tongues and having Jesus speak to him.”

That reasonable statement prompted co-host Joy Behar to proffer her opinion that “hearing from Jesus is actually call mental illness.” Seriously, Ms. Behar is right; even Christians have to admit that mythological Jesus died a couple of millennia ago and is not speaking to Pence or any other religious Republican.

Now, only poor persecuted evangelicals would take the women’s comments, and informed opinions, as “anti-Christian bias,” or as “preacher Pence” complained, “religious intolerance.”  Pence was incensed and attacked ABC News saying:

To have ABC maintain a broadcast forum that compared Christianity to mental illness is just wrong, It is simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of religious intolerance.”

Except that Pence, no kind of “real” Christian, is lying again. Neither Ms. Hostin nor Ms. Behar compared Christianity to mental illness and Pence knows it. They simply stated a fact –  that hearing voices, no matter the source, is generally a sign of a mental disorder; and they expressed a very valid opinion most Americans would tend to agree with. A vice president hearing voices and speaking religious gibberish no-one alive or dead can comprehend is a frightening prospect. Besides, the Christian bible says speaking in tongues ended a couple of millennia ago.

Still, there was a minor outcry from about 30,000 infuriated evangelicals who joined a concerted evangelical campaign organized by Media Research Center (MRC) to force ABC to hold the “View” co-hosts accountable for expressing their opinions; or what the outraged evangelicals called spewing “anti-Christian bigotry.” Thus far the evangelical effort has fallen woefully short.

Obviously, the MRC has taken up the poor persecuted Pence mantle and accused Behar and Hostin, and by extension ABC News, of advancing “the liberal media’s pronounced bias against Christianity to the next level.

The MRC’s mouthpiece, a conservative piece of work named Brent Bozell, published an open letter to ABC News demanding an apology for allowing the View’s hosts to express their opinions. It wasn’t enough for Bozell to demand that ABC News sanction the two women, he used MRC to post contact information for the show’s advertisers so “angry evangelical viewers” can inflict damage on the program, the network, and the show’s co-hosts.

The MRC’s claim to fame is being “America’s leading media watchdog in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.” So there it is again – the dreaded “liberal media bias.” Seriously, liberal media bias is what sane human beings call accurate reporting and informed opinions. Bozell said:

I am sure the advertisers of “The View” will be just as appalled as I am about the anti-Christian remarks made on the show.”

However, as of late last week, the MRC sadly informed Fox News that neither ABC News nor any of “The View’s” advertisers had made contact with the angry folks at MRC.

The mad folks over at Fox News also weighed in to add some fuel to the fire and condemned Ms. Behar for not keeping her opinions to herself; even after viciously attacking Mike ‘preacher’ Pence’s Christianity. The View was accused by Fox News of failing to “tone down its rhetoric.” Because like no small number of journalists and pundits, Behar told the truth that “the conservative conference’s (CPAC) participants have a ‘penchant for Nazis.’” A statement even a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool conservative columnist Mona Charen echoed in an opinion piece about her experience as a panelist at CPAC.

The problem here, and the reason evangelicals are outraged over an opinion, is that they are used to a media and population giving them a pass and never calling out their absurdities, or the bigotry, borne of their bastardized interpretation of Christianity. Face it, if Pence is hearing voices, or one voice, it is the voice of the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation, not Jesus. Even fictional Jesus wouldn’t tell Pence to take from the poor to enrich the wealthy or to be intolerant of anyone for not subscribing to his version of Christianity.

Neither of The View’s co-hosts attacked Christianity or Pence for that matter and they definitely did not express any “anti-Christian bigotry” or “religious intolerance.” It is a miracle that Pence, the 30,000 evangelical crybabies, and MRC chief Bozell didn’t choke on their own hypocrisy; because no group in America is as bigoted as the evangelical extremist movement and there is ample evidence to support that fact.

Perhaps if more media figures and politicians did, in fact, assail the religious as the source of most bigotry and attacks against other Americans, the nation may be less divided and less dominated by the religious right and their vile religious Republican facilitators.

As far as anyone being guilty of “religious intolerance” or “anti-Christian bigotry” for attacking Mike ‘preacher’ Pence, it is impossible because he is no kind of Christian. And if mythical Jesus were speaking to him, he would tell him he was going straight to proverbial Hell for being a lying hypocrite and a filthy fake Christian – because nothing he represents or stands for has any connection to anything mythical Jesus purportedly preached. That is not anti-Christian bigotry, it is a fact that most ‘real Christians’ know is true.

Image: Evan Vucci/AP

Billy Graham On Display in the Capitol Is a National Disgrace

One of the primary reasons Americans are fundamentally unaware that their nation and their freedoms are being whittled away by theocrats posing as Republicans is because of sheer cowardice. Mainstream media, Democrats, various pundits, and most commentators are absolutely terrified of attributing Republican atrocities like attacks on women, gays, contraception, Jews and other religions, and the Constitution’s equal rights provisions to one religion. Specifically it is the religion comprised of the cults adhering to the bastardized form of Christianity that falls under the umbrella term “evangelicals.”

Now there is another purely Republican religious atrocity being unchallenged and although it does not necessarily inflict harm in typical religious Republican fashion, it epitomizes just how deep theocracy is entrenched in government.

This particular little screed is over the lack of outrage at an honored privilege being bestowed, at taxpayer expense, on a private citizen simply because he was a Christian preacher. Billy Graham has spent decades adversely influencing at least two generations of Americans while not providing any contribution or service whatsoever to the nation. Still, House Speaker Paul  Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are honoring Graham for his “distinguished service to the nation.”

Graham died last week so Ryan and McConnell sent a letter to Graham’s evangelical extremist son for permission to honor his dead father in the Capitol Rotunda. McConnell and Ryan’s letter said:

“Congress joins the American people in expressing our sincerest condolences to you on the passing of the Rev. Billy Graham.

In recognition of Rev. Graham’s long and distinguished serve to the nation, it is our intention to ask the House of Representatives and the Senate to permit that his remains lie in honor in Rotunda of the Capitol.

With your approval, we will move forward with these arrangements, so that Americans have this opportunity to pay their respects to Rev. Graham before he is laid to rest.”

Graham will be only the fourth private citizen to “lie in honor” in recognition of his “contributions to the nation.” However, even Paul Ryan failed to identify any of Graham’s  “contributions to the nation” in an official Speaker of the House “press release“ announcing the atrocious waste of taxpayer money; no matter the amount.  The three other ‘honorees’ were private citizens who actually contributed to the nation either defending the Capital with their lives, or in Rosa Parks case, making a stand for civil rights the Constitution guaranteed to all Americans. Where the two Capital police officers and Ms. Parks contributed a service the nation that benefits all Americans,  Graham contributed to his Baptist religion; and his own incredibly substantial bank account.

Now, in all fairness there is something Graham has contributed to the nation, but it cannot possibly be regarded as anything other than horrific and contrary to the U.S. Constitution. For all intents and purposes, Graham is the dirty bastard who spawned the religious right movement, myriad charlatans posing as televangelists, and the bigoted evangelical extremist movement decimating America today. He also spawned that piece of work Franklin Graham who spreads hate the way mythological Jesus Christ is rumored to have spread love. It would be unfair to equate Graham’s hateful son with old Billy’s legacy, but old Billy was in no universe contributing anything resembling distinguished service to the nation. He was an enemy of the nation in most respects.

There are myriad reasons Congress is dead wrong in honoring a cretin like Graham, but none more so than he is responsible for the U.S. Congress violating the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment. It was Graham who, in 1952, convinced Congress to “pass legislation establishing religion” and a nationwide religious practice by federal government fiat. Graham insisted that despite the 1st Amendment’s prohibition on Congress legislating religion, he wanted a federal law mandating that the president of the United States “declares an annual National Day of Prayer to see the leaders of our country kneeling before almighty God in prayer.” (author bold)

That one piece of legislation set in motion all manner of religious atrocities that have only increased to the point that theocrats following in Graham’s footsteps are not only fleecing millions of Americans, they are firmly ensconced in running the government. That is just one reason Ryan and McConnell giving a place of honor to an unAmerican preacher is an abomination; particularly in a secular democracy informed by a Constitution without any mention of god, Jesus, Baptists, Christians, bible, prayer, evangelists or revivals.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell protesting the Republicans’ decision to honor a Baptist preacher. They wrote:

The fact is that Graham lived his life in service to his evangelical Christian religion, and the bible that he believed was an infallible reference manual. He placed the bible far above the Constitution. He was known as a soul-winner and lauded as a “Christian superstar preacher.” What influence he had on this country and its government was purely religious, not civic in nature, and that religious influence was uniformly regressive. While it would be appropriate for evangelical Christian institutions to honor him in this manner, it is not appropriate for Congress and our federal government to do so.

Billy Graham believed fervently in Christianity and people listened to him. But that is not worthy of praise or a spot in the U.S. Capitol, however temporary. Graham in his own way sought to undo the only sure way to guarantee freedom of religion: a government free from religion. Graham is on the wrong side of history. You will be, too, if you authorize this unearned honor.”

Of course the Republicans ignored the concerns of FFRF like they ignore the U.S. Constitution because they are an integral part of the conspiracy to “undo the only sure way to guarantee freedom of religion.” If that were not the case, then Republicans would have never considered, not for any Planck-time, allowing a preacher to lie in a place of honor reserved for Americans who actually contributed to the general good of the nation; especially when that preacher has inflicted a world of damage on the nation.

God Is Not A Surrogate For Sane Gun Measures

The Florida legislature did a fine job distinguishing itself as a dispassionate group of cretins this week by refusing to debate a ban on the kind of weapon used in the Valentine’s Day Massacre about a week ago. Florida Republicans failed to give the state’s students a modicum of consideration concerning their safety, but they succeeded in declaring that pornography is a public health risk to Floridians. That action alone should inform exactly what the Florida legislature’s priorities are regarding public safety. To further distinguish itself as out of touch with reality, the legislature’s lower chamber came through for the terrified massacre survivors with an action that will have no effect on public safety or school gun violence – invoking god.

In an overwhelming majority vote, the Florida house passed legislation putting god in all Florida schools because of the recent gun massacre and legislative inaction on school safety.  The final vote count was 97-10 and the numbers elicited a standing ovation from proud members of the Florida House.

The bill, H.B. 839, requires all public schools in the state to post a sign, “In God We Trust, in a conspicuous place” to bring a little light into the Sunshine state’s public schools and administration buildings. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Kimberly Daniels, is a Jacksonville Democrat who operates her own global Christian ministry and said the state’s public schools needed some god signs in light of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gun massacre last week, and the legislature’s inaction on gun safety.

No doubt the massacre survivors will feel comforted that their representatives couldn’t be bothered to give them some consideration in restricting assault weapons, but they could damn sure declare that porn is dangerous and then vote to force a stupid god sign on the schools. Ms. Daniels explained why Florida desperately needed god signs in every school after a mass shooting. She said:

He [apparently god] is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white. He is the light, and our schools need light in them like never before.”

Daniels spoke directly to the school shooting and admitted that it’s no secret that the state has gun issues that must be addressed. She voted to move the assault weapon ban to the House floor for debate, but she was on the losing side – so she naturally thought the alternative is a god sign. The idea of substituting a “god sign” for action on assault weapons cannot be encouraging for Florida students reaching out to their representatives for help in making schools safe; particularly when those politicians are feigning regard for the students’ “hearts” and the public’s health threat from pornography. Daniels explained what is really important to aid the students.

The real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart. We cannot put god in a closet when the issues we face are bigger than us.”

Ms. Daniels also talked about video games that train children to become virtual assassins, and that things are getting so bad that maybe people will finally “come to realize that problems are much bigger than politics.”

So apparently when the only Americans capable of putting the brakes on the NRA gun proliferation crusade fail to protect the population, because that problem is “bigger than politics,” they appeal to god. It sounds suspiciously like every insipid Republican calling for “thoughts and prayers” after every mass shooting, and it is exactly like every stinking religious right sycophant blaming school violence on the lack of god, bible and prayer in public schools.

This god business as a prophylactic against gun violence is just a monumental abomination, particularly so coming from a Democrat. For dog’s sake, putting up god signs is not going to stop angry white people from using firearms to kill innocents anyplace, much less in public schools. Perhaps Ms. Daniels, like no small number of evangelical fanatics, fails to recall that there were god signs, god books (bibles), god images (crosses), and all manner of “heavenly” icons in plain sight in the two Christian churches ravaged by gun violence. And it is beyond refute that those gun victims put all their trust in their god while they were in their god’s alleged houses; and yet they were still viciously massacred.

One of the 10 representatives to vote against an unconstitutional measure actually condemned the bill for exactly the right legal reason; it violates the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Separation Clauses.  Representative Carlos G. Smith said on Twitter what should have informed every member of the Florida House’s vote on the god sign bill.

Let’s keep a clear separation between church + state. Forcing our public schools to post “In God We Trust” in a conspicuous place is inappropriate. I don’t care if it was a Democrat who sponsored the bill. I vote based on core values, not party lines.”

Mr. Smith is right, of course, about the unconstitutionality of legislating god in public places, especially in schools. But he would have been “more right” if he had also condemned the god signage as surrogate for action on assault weapons, which is what this ‘in god we trust’ business is really all about. It is also another dangerous step in forcing religion on the public by legislative fiat, and it is despicable for using the gun massacre as cover for an unconstitutional action advancing theocracy.

The survivors of the school massacre have an abundance of reasons to be incensed at their Florida representatives. It was insulting enough that the legislature refused to consider debating a ban on the kind of weapon used in the shooting to stop a clear and present public health risk, while officially declaring that pornography is a real serious health threat to Florida residents. But overwhelmingly voting to force schools to post god signs “to address issues that are bigger than politics” is beyond insulting. It is a personal affront to the survivors and the victims’ families; many who already trusted in a god while an angry man with an assault weapon slaughtered their friends and teachers.

Image: Patheos

Another Republican Theocrat Rejects Church State Separation

The U.S. Constitution demands that there is no religious test to serve in any government capacity as an elected office holder or employee and for good reason; America is not a theocracy. Despite clear language in the Constitution, and historical evidence from the Constitution’s Framers and Founding Fathers, no small number of Republicans still  insist that the Christian god rejected the Founders’ concept of “separation of church and state” when he created America. As forward thinking as the Founding Fathers and Framers were, they were remiss to envision a Christian political party that rejects the law of the land  out of hand and with veritable impunity.

If the Constitution’s Framers had as much foresight into the threat of elected officials flouting the law of the land as they did theocrats taking over government, they would have included a Constitutional literacy test in Article VI, Section 3. If they had required every candidate for office pass a constitutional literacy test,  the “no religious test clause” would have been unnecessary. Of course, Republicans are not yet demanding a religious test to run for office or work for the government, but there is an increasing number of them denying the validity of the 1st Amendment’s “separation clause” in their crusade to create an America governed by an evangelical theocracy.

The latest Republican theocrat, Steve Scalise, is claiming that he is horrified that some people believe the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers were serious about keeping evangelicals from dictating policy and running the government.  Scalise joins all manner of evangelical leaders and historical revisionists who not only claim there is no such thing as separation of church and state, but that no politician is capable of separating church and state. It is an integral part of the Dominionist crusade to put religion, the evangelical religion, in government as the nation’s guiding force and the only barrier to their success is the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Separation Clause.

It is true that Scalise is an evangelical freak of nature, but he is far from being an outlier in Republican ranks. For dog’s sake, the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, has argued that the Establishment Claus and separation of church and state are “extra-constitutional doctrine” and a “recent thing that is unhistorical and unconstitutional.” (Author bold) According to “sermon” Sessions, and likely Steve Scalise, the Constitution’s prohibition on Congress legislating any religion was a devious machination of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to evict god, the Christian bible, the Ten Commandments and Jesus Christ out of government.

However, Thomas Jefferson explained precisely what the meaning of the Establishment Clause was in 1802, at least a century before the ACLU was even created. An honest-to-dog historical figure, Founding Father, and third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson wrote explicitly what the Establish Clause in the First Amendment actually means.

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Nevertheless, a sitting United States congressman, like the current attorney general, claim that no politician can possibly separate church and state despite swearing a “so help me god” oath to support and defend the Constitution – including the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. It is noteworthy to remind Scalise that if not for the Establish Clause he claims is invalid, he would be prohibited from exercising his particular brand of Christianity. It is only because America is a secular nation and only because the Constitution forbids the government establishment of a religion that Scalise can be a practicing Catholic.

Remember, America was actually settled and founded by Puritans who vehemently forbade any other religions or religious celebrations such as Christmas and Easter. Their religion also strictly adhered to the Old Testament that demanded punishment for other “neo-Americans” if they displayed graven images such as the cross, “Christmas trees,” the nativity scene, or images of Jesus. Without a secular Constitution, all Americans would be Puritans by law and anything those Puritans considered “pagan” would be strictly verboten. It is precisely why Thomas Jefferson explained to Danbury “Baptists” that they were protected under the secular Constitution and were allowed to worship as they pleased; in the same manner Scalise can worship according to Vatican dictates.

There have always been religious fanatics like Scalise, Sessions and preacher Pence and they were generally regarded as harmless freakoids. They are still fanatical religious freaks, but they are no longer harmless now that evangelical extremists control the government lock, stock and barrel. Of course the religious right and their fundamentalist malcontents are in the minority and everything they advocate for is highly unpopular with the majority, but they wield enormous influence over the majority party running all three branches of government.

It is important to note that these religious fanatics are unafraid of saying out loud exactly what their intent is now that they own power over the government. Remember that Trump’s ridiculously unqualified Education Secretary announced that she would use her Cabinet level position to “advance god’s kingdom” and there was no outrage whatsoever. Remember too, that the Department of Health and Human Services designated a single-celled organism a “person” worthy of full government protection and no-one as much as blinked. There has also been relative silence, and acquiescence from most Americans, at the outrage of Trump and House Republicans giving the religious right preferential treatment including authority to ignore the conditions necessary to be tax exempt as well as equal rights protections in the 14th Amendment.

Americans have enjoyed a Constitution that prevents religious imposition for so long  that they actually believe that protection cannot be abridged. And yet it seems like every couple of weeks since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration  there is another violation of the Separation and Establishment Clause.  Now another Republican is claiming that evangelicals cannot possibly, and will not, adhere to the Constitution and keep their church dogma out of government policy. That being the case they are disqualifying themselves from serving and it is damned high time the people evict them from government with extreme prejudice.

It is a sad fact of life, but Republicans are on the brink of imposing a theocratic government on the American people because there is a fear of confronting evangelicals in public or ever citing the preponderance of attacks on women, the U.S. Constitution, and the LGBTQ community are borne of religion. That cowardice in the face of a bloodless theocratic coup d’état will be the death of the nation the Founding Fathers created and put an ugly end to the Constitution they purposefully left god and religion out of.

Republican Bill Bans Non-Church Marriages

As if the nation is not in enough trouble, there is another sign that with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the rush toward America as a theocracy is ramping up. At the rate Republicans and Trump are pandering to the evangelical fanatics, America is not far off from being run like Iran and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Whether the religious right admits it or not, the majority hew to a mindset that only Christians are real Americans worthy of certain privileges and rights. It is likely true that mindset is substantiated by Republicans who work tirelessly to elevate evangelicals to a position of authority over the rest of the population with ever-increasing incidences of theocratic legislation.

The GOP has, in fact, given the religious right purview over women’s access to healthcare as well as the legal right to discriminate against any American unwilling to toe the evangelical line. There have even been murmurings that only evangelicals should be allowed to vote and that only Christians should run for and hold political office. Evangelicals still claim that America was created as a Christian theocracy and the Constitution was written by the god of the Christian bible. Now an emboldened religious Republican has introduced legislation that says only evangelicals can enter into the institution of marriage performed in a church.

Despite the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nearly three years ago, religious Republicans are still crusading to deny same-sex couples the legal right to be married. In a new attack on same-sex marriage, a really religious  Republican in the Missouri state legislature, some theocrat named T.J. Berry,  introduced House Bill 1424to restrict marriage in the “show me state” to “people of faith.” It is noteworthy to mention that Berry is as real a religious Republican as any evangelical fanatic and an ordained deacon of the First Baptist Church In Kearney, Missouri.

Berry’s theocratic legislation defines marriage as being a “solemnized union that takes place only inside a church.”  Note that it doesn’t say inside a mosque, a synagogue, or a temple by design; Muslims, Buddhists or Jews do not worship or get “married” in a “church.” If Berry’s bill becomes law, any marriages that “were to take place outside of the church” will not be legal or recognized as legal marriages by the theocrats running Missouri; they will be domestic unions regardless the couple’s gender.

The First Baptist deacon Berry proudly admits that his bill’s purpose is redefining marriage in favor of “the church.” He said the only way a person in Missouri can be legally married under his legislation is “to go through a religious ceremony in a church.” Any couple refusing to take that route can get a civil document from the government, but they will not be legally married in Missouri.

The Legal Director at the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Warbelow, explained the obvious that the law will hurt LGBTQ married couples in Missouri. She also said that restricting “marriage” to “church weddings calls into question all couples’ rights;” particularly those who were not married in a church in a “solemnized union.” Ms.Warbelow said:

It’s hard to believe [this legislation is] something most conservatives support. Most Americans think that marriage is an important institution, and they don’t want to get rid of it.

Most Americans are not running the government any longer so it doesn’t matter what they want or don’t want. Evangelicals are running the government despite their minority position, and along with their money machine the Koch brothers, they fully control the fate of the nation by wielding authority over Republicans.

It is noteworthy that this particularly nasty evangelical legislation is not about  “getting rid of marriage as an institution;” evangelicals love solemnized man-woman church marriages. Berry’s bill simply restricts participation in the “important institution of marriage” to the evangelical faithful, but only if they are wed in a church. It is the only way Republican evangelicals claim they can protect churches and businesses from “the gay encroachment” and protect religious bigots refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. That was another urgent reason for the theocratic law.

The bill’s supporters claim the new law will be “the remedy to controversies across the country involving government employees who object and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons.”

No, the remedy for government employees who object to following the law of the land, and willfully violate the 14th Amendment, is immediate termination of their taxpayer-funded employment. And if it were possible, they should face charges for violating terms of employment as government employees for refusing to support the Constitution. Nearly all government and public employees from presidents to senators to law enforcement to school teachers swear an oath to support the U.S. Constitution; and that includes the 14th Amendment that evangelical Republicans claim violates their religious liberty.

Critics of the legislation concur with the HRC’s legal director in warning that it would cause LGBT couples, as well as all other non-religious couples, a great deal of trouble. It is almost certain that “causing all non-religious couples a great deal of trouble” is an important aspect of this particular theocratic abomination.

Like many Americans, the executive director of a Missouri advocacy group, the Center Project, is “irritated and frustrated” over the religious Republicans’ never-ending assault on equality and the concept of progress. Dion Wisniewski said:

No matter how much progress we make, there is always going to be a push from conservative [evangelical] groups to roll back protections for individuals or enact new laws to make it more difficult to live normal lives. Conservative groups are putting pressure on the legislature to protect the ‘biblical definition’ of marriage, even though they aren’t being forced to perform these services.

The evangelical fanatics supporting this particular theocratic edict never elaborated on exactly what “gay encroachment” entails, but it likely has everything to do with gays having equal rights. It is not out of the realm of possibility that when evangelical theocracy is officially the law of the land, the LGBTQ community will be banned from America, much less “evangelical churches and businesses.”

Although it should be unbelievable in a 21st Century secular nation, it was not surprising to learn that a Republican state is working to ban non-Christians from being married.  It is unclear if the legislation will pass and become a state law, or progress to become a national crusade. But it is abundantly clear that with a puppet in the White House and most federal agencies in the grip of theocrats, evangelicals are on a crusade to do much more than ban non-Christians from being legally married. Tragically, very few Americans will notice the theocratic tyranny until they become targets of the religious right, and as centuries of “church” history informs, sooner rather than later every American will be a target of the fanatical religious right.

Trump’s Evangelical War Against Women Took A Dangerous Turn

In yet another despicable move to sate evangelicals crusading towards transforming America into an evangelical theocracy, Trump continued 2017’s pandering to the religious right with another attack on a greater number of the people. Anyone still curious about why the evangelical right adamantly supports a proud sinner who blatantly rejects the concept of repentance and contrition, Trump’s prioritization of evangelical’s freedom to control the rest of the population should explain why bible-thumpers love what decent human beings consider to be a seriously evil man.

For an administration allegedly opposed to federal regulations and federal government agencies, Trump announced some new federal regulations and created a new federal government “division” to protect evangelical workers who refuse to do their jobs and provide medical care. That medical care can be anything that offends the “conscience” of the evangelicals who are cheering Trump for finally  “prioritizing” their religious freedom to discriminate according to their religious conscience. Make no mistake, this new “division” and “new regulations” are specifically protecting evangelicals who intend to discriminate primarily against women and gays by refusing to provide medical care and services that are required as part of their jobs.

If an atheist public school teacher refused to teach any student who was an evangelical Christian on the grounds it violated their conscience, religious Republicans would go ballistic and attack that teacher mercilessly; despite the teacher was immediately terminated for refusing to do the job they were hired to do. Likewise, if a Jew or Muslim worker claimed it violated their conscience to accommodate an evangelical or Catholic because they ate pork products, then they would be summarily fired and Republicans and the evangelical right would go ballistic and attack them mercilessly.

But when pharmacists refuse to fill a physician’s prescription because the medication offends their morality, or the patient is not in compliance with the evangelical’s religious edicts,  there is a new Trump-created federal agency to protect their jobs; because Trump is all about “prioritizing” conscience protections for evangelicals that allow them to violate anti-discrimination laws.

Many have warned for years that so-called “conscience protections” for evangelicals pose a serious danger to the population, and now there is an official division in the Department of Health and Human Services. It is not, as Trump or the White House claim, about protecting healthcare workers opposed to abortion or assisted death based on their “religious” or “moral beliefs;” it is another Republican “license to discriminate” with lifelong, and possibly, life-threatening consequences for a large percentage of the population. Basically, any American who fails to hew closely to religious edicts evangelicals believe should be federal law is open for trouble from the faithful who work in the healthcare industry.

The new theocratic agency, the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, is a monumental victory for evangelicals who complained bitterly for eight long years that President Obama failed to give evangelicals what they demanded – much more authority under the guise of “religious freedom.” And it is noteworthy that in 21stCentury America, religious freedom means federal power for evangelicals to impose their religious beliefs on the nation to control women and impose some biblical punishment on members of the LGBTQ community.

The language in the new regulations is so broad that only an idiot cannot see that the “rule” is a veritable license to discriminate and withhold “access to medical care” from anyone if the religious worker does not approve of that “medical care” or the patient’s lifestyle. It is about more than just evangelicals opposed to abortion or birth control, it will lead to legalized discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, lifestyle, marital status, and sexual orientation; the main categories evangelicals firmly believe fall under their purview as theocrats running the government.

In keeping with the “poor persecuted Christian” sentiment based on the inability to control the population, the “poor persecuted” president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s lobbying arm said:

I am thankful that [Trump’s] HHS recognizes how imperiled conscience rights have been in recent years in this arena and is actively working and leading to turn the tide in the other direction.”

It is important to note that this new theocratic solution for persecuted evangelicals and their wicked imperiled consciences is about much more than giving pro-life healthcare workers the religious right to refuse performing an abortion or sterilization as HHS claimed. The Obama Administration left in place the decades-long federal protections for evangelical healthcare workers who objected to performing abortions or sterilizations. President Obama’s HHS also kept the George W. Bush rule’s formal process for workers to file complaints if they were expected to do the job they applied for and were hired to do, and then refused according to their “godly morality” or “deeply-held beliefs.”

This latest theocratic advancement is primarily an attack on women’s right to self-determination regarding their reproductive health, but no American is safe from evangelicals who believe their “conscience rights” have been “imperiled” for too long; now they want revenge and Trump willingly  complied.  What is new in 2108 is a full frontal assault on transgenders to bolster the already vicious religious attacks on the LGBTQ community based on evangelicals’ morals and their renowned Christian consciences.

Here’s the thing, if any of these cretins had a conscience, especially a “follower of Christ” conscience, they would never support Republicans who are gleeful at taking away healthcare, food, retirement, and housing from Americans to enrich corporations and the wealthy. Their objections to providing healthcare services, whether it is contraception, abortion, or transgender hormone therapy are not founded on their morality or religious conviction. They object to being prohibited from controlling other Americans who fail to toe the religious right line; it is the only reason why evangelicals vote for Republicans religiously. If they were “followers of Christ” or “Christians,” they would oppose Republicans like plague.

It is a dangerous sign that despite at least four or five Trump administration actions legalizing discrimination against women and the LGBTQ community in 2017, now the religious people who provide healthcare services possess their own federal license to discriminate. Trump’s Department of Justice and Education have openly legalized discrimination against women and the LGBTQ community under the heading “protecting evangelicals’ religious liberty,” and last month the Republican Congress followed suit in an education bill. This latest move at the start of 2018 is the result of an executive order Trump signed last May.  As noted by Sarah Warbelow in the U.S. News and World Report, “Trump’s executive order directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to seek a license to discriminate in agencies across the federal government.”

There has been a deliberate and concerted effort to impose religion as governance and law for a couple of decades, but now that Christofascists co-own and co-control the federal government, the theocrats are having a field day. All the while, Americans await Trump’s next “tweet” with bated breath and many could not possibly care less because they are not women or members of the gay community. Remember, religious zealots are not known for restraint when they are empowered and when Mike Pence and his religious right fanatics finish putting women and gays in their “biblical” place, they will turn their attention to the rest of the population. If anyone is not terrified at the idea of medical professionals refusing to treat anyone based on conscience objections, then maybe understanding that now fire fighters, police officers, and paramedics can refuse to do their jobs according to their consciences represents a clear and present danger to all Americans.

GOP Education Bill Gives Religious Bigots License To Discriminate

Republicans have had a field day with a rubber stamp in the White House, and besides handing the treasury to the rich and corporations, they have handed social and domestic policy over to bigots under the guise of protecting religious liberty. And it is noteworthy that they have acted stealthily while the happy fascist in the Oval keeps the people mesmerized with social media distractions.

Last week House Republicans introduced a “massive” 542-page “higher education” bill that gives bigots steeped in evangelical fundamentalism a free pass to discriminate if they do so according to their deeply-held religious beliefs and part of their religious practices. The bill, H.R. 4508, authored by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), contains a pair of provisions that “enables discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” without saying it is legal to violate the 14th Amendment on religious grounds. By not specifically mentioning sexual orientation or gender identity the Republicans left room for religious fanatics to discriminate against any group they choose.

The inaptly named bill, “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education” Reform (PROSPER Act) gives the impression that Trump’s America creates opportunities for Americans, but like nearly everything else in Trump’s America, it is a gift to evangelical bigots. Don’t believe it? In a section titled “Campus Access for Religious Groups” a provision guarantees that students can be discriminated against if the bigotry is founded on “religious beliefs or religious standards of conduct.

The offending provision states:

None of the funds made available under the Act may be provided to any public institution of higher education that denies to a religious student or organization any right, benefit or privilege afforded to other students or organization because of their religious beliefs, practices, speech, membership standards or standards of conduct of the religious student or organization.”

What that really means is any person or any group can discriminate against anyone based on a deeply-held religious belief and their religion’s standard practices without repercussions from the “place of higher learning” or state policy forbidding discrimination; it obviously neuters the 14th Amendment to sate religious bigots.

It is yet another Republican religious license to discriminate that taxpayers and tuition-paying students will have to fund and like it; it is how theocratic governments operate and Americans better get used to it.

Prior to this GOP theocratic legislation, the only way to prevent blatant discrimination was by withholding funding from institutions of learning, or by denying religious organizations campus funding for violating nondiscrimination policies they are obliged to uphold as recipients of free money. That concept is unacceptable to religious Republicans and their radical evangelical supporters. So they inserted language allowing the free flow of campus funding to evangelical bigots so they can discriminate against whatever kind of person they regard are “undesirable.”

Apparently there have been institutions of higher learning and governments that have withheld funding for groups that reject LGBTQ students’ membership or participation because “those kind of people violate the religious tenets of the group.” Despite non-discrimination policies at higher-learning institutions and the state and the federal government, the religious groups expect to be funded like every other campus organization that adheres to the U.S. Constitution and campus non-discrimination policies. With this hideous abomination of a bill, Republicans are ensuring that taxpayers and tuition-paying students will have to support bigoted religious groups whether they like it or whether it violates their humanitarian beliefs that discrimination is vile and unconstitutional.

Another section of the “PROSPER Act” protects universities that encourage and enact blatantly discriminatory policies with language virtually mirroring the religious Republicans “First Amendment Defense Act.” That “Act” is a federal Republican license to violate the 14th Amendment with impunity by protecting any businesses and organizations that refuses to serve LGBTQ people; it is the religious bigots’ version of the former Confederacy’s “whites only” laws and religious Republicans love it.  That provision states:

No government entity shall take any adverse action against an institution of higher education that receives funding under title IV, if such adverse action… has the effect of prohibiting or penalizing the institution for acts or omissions by the institution that are in furtherance of its religious mission or are related to the religious affiliation of the institution.”

Some of what religious Republicans call adverse actions to prevent discrimination are:

Denial or threat of denial of funding, including grants, scholarships, or loans; denial or threat of denial to access to facilities or programs; withholding or threat to withhold licenses, permits, certifications, accreditation’s, contracts, tax-exempt status or exemptions; or any other penalty or denial, or threat of such other penalty or denial of an otherwise available benefit.

The two provisions combined mean that institutions of higher learning cannot legally enforce their own non-discrimination policies, and states cannot enforce state or federal discrimination laws on offending schools. This hate-policy is typical of Virginia Foxx who said in 2015 after the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality that it was a threat to the rights of religious bigots and their organizations. She pledged at the time to “do everything in my power to defend these rights;” she followed through with a religious license to discriminate tucked into an education bill.

These religious impositions legalizing discrimination are a growing trend now that the religious right co-owns the federal government. And as the folks over at the Human Rights Campaign noted, this particular “higher education bill is rife with other troubling aspects that should concern both LGBTQ students and all other students.” It is a continuation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ effort to dismantle protections for victims of campus sexual assault targeting women and endemic in her crusade to use the Department of Education to “advance the kingdom of god.”

Since Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration there have been nonstop attacks on the rights of Americans, primarily women and members of the gay community, founded on evangelical fundamentalism. And those attacks are always justified as promoting religious freedoms despite they violate the U.S. Constitution; something that should horrify any American who still thinks they live in a free democratic society. Americans’ equal rights are being whittled away by religious Republicans and it is a tragedy that there is absolutely nothing any American can, or is willing to, do to stop the rush towards theocracy. For dog’s sake, most Americans are too afraid to even whisper that all of the Republican attacks on equality are founded on America’s bastardized version of Christianity and it’s exactly why the religious right is running the government.

Bishops Advise Republicans and Parents to Reject Trans Children

There is relatively solid proof now that all of the Republican negative ranting and raving about transgender people is driven by the historical bane of human decency, freedom and equality – religion.

First, when this column cites a religion as “fanatical, radical, or extremist,” particularly Christian denominations, it is not using a “broad stroke to portray” all Christians as fanatical, radical, extremist or bad. The same is true regarding criticism of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) or the Vatican or the Pope or any of that ridiculously rich syndicate’s bizarre dogmata; it is never about “all Catholics.

There are myriad reasons to attack many members of the clergy and none deserve more than the USCCB; if for no other reason than they implanted the “religious liberty” idea in the evangelical Republican lexicon. That American group of Catholic bishops are guilty of a world of offenses against women particularly, but also against members of the LGBTQ community.

At issue is an “open letter” issued by the USCCB, with many other religious leaders as signatories, “rejecting the legitimacy of transgender identity.” The theme of the letter on families is that parents have to “reject their transgender children” because god, bible, and social conservative (church) norms.

The open letter, “Created Male and Female” asserts that “transgender” is a “false idea that goes against reason;” and it is a “deeply troubling notion that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa.”  It was once a false idea and deeply troubling to “the Church” that the Earth orbited the Sun, but the Church still exists although it imprisoned and killed a few heretics for spreading a false and deeply troubling idea — heliocentrism.

The bishops failed to provide a link to any empirical data as to why transgender identity is a false idea or deeply troubling; just that a parent’s job is rejecting their child if they identify as transgender. The bishops attempted to validate their position by claiming ”transgender children are ‘harmed’ when they are affirmed in their identities,” but no-one with a pulse believes these former priests have any regard for children being “harmed.

One particularly offensive section of the letter states:

“Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

There is so much inherently wrong, and revealing, in that section of the letter that it boggles the mind until one remembers who issued the ‘open letter’ in the first place and who the signatories are; a bunch of religious fanatics controlling the Republican social agenda. Republicans have hewed closely, and dutifully followed, the real meaning of the USCCB’s theocratic dictate:

The state has a compelling interest to maintain [church] policies and support the social [church] institutions and [church] norms that surround it.

Now, this holy edict that children especially are “harmed” if their transgender identity is affirmed is pure bovine excrement. According to several studies’ results, “the way parents respond to their child’s gender identity can have drastic consequences for their mental health.”

Parents that heed the USCCB’s advice and “reject their children for being transgender significantly increases depression and suicidal thinking.”  Conversely, one of the single most effective  “buffers against those negative consequences” is affirming the child’s identity, “allowing them to be as happy and healthy as their peers.”  What these bishops are advising is exactly what “sows self-doubt and confusion and can be remarkably damaging;” including causing depression and suicide.

The bishops also used a favorite religious right claim that the faithful who condemn transgenders are the “true victims.” They claim:

The movement to respect transgender people is ‘deeply troubling’ and compels people to either go against ‘reason’ or face ridicule, marginalization and other forms of retaliation.”

If the bishops contend that calling a dirty bigot a dirty bigot is “deeply troubling,” then they are no different than the dirty bigots in Trump’s Alt-right Nazi movement.  What the bishops never mention is the hate, “retaliation,” and discrimination that transgender people suffer in “employment, housing, health care, education, the justice system, and public accommodations.

Something that should raise red flags, even for people unsure about what “transgender” means, is this bizarre concept that a bunch of old white guys decked out in Goth-gear and claiming to be celibate get an opinion on parenting when they have never “had” children. Oh it is true that a terrifying number of those “holy men” have “had” plenty of children, but not in the sense that normal, decent or real “god-fearing” human beings ‘have’ children.  These are the same control-freaks who claim to have profound and godly expertise in women’s reproductive science as well as OB/GYN bona fides that Republicans use to control women’s reproductive rights.

What is particularly dangerous about this USCCB “open letter” is that Republicans will seize on it as overwhelming proof that restricting transgender people’s equal rights is justified. Remember, both houses of Congress summoned the same male religious leaders to give expert testimony to restrict women’s access to contraceptives. To think they won’t reference this letter as justification for denying transgenders’ rights is the height of naïveté; the letter tells Republicans that “the state has a compelling interest to maintain church policies and support church institutions and church norms that surround it.” The only group Republicans are more obedient to than the Koch brothers is the religious right and all it entails – particularly the USCCB.

It is one thing for the bishops, priests, reverends and ministers who signed on to the USCCB letter to control Republicans and their radical evangelical supporters; stupid people are easily manipulated. But they have no right to insert their perverted opinions on child-rearing into any family; especially when there is legitimate research demonstrating that the quickest way to harm transgender children, or adults for that matter, is to follow the bishops’ teachings.

It is noteworthy that there are a significant number of religious leaders, including Catholics and Baptists, who are strong advocates on behalf of transgender people; they at least act like “real Christians” and real “followers of Christ.” They are also not enamored with the USCCB for using religious dogma to put children at risk of depression and suicide; something the bishops apparently don’t regard as important. In fact, according to one of the signatories representing the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission;  “trans people are responsible for their own suffering for rejecting God.” As Zack Ford over at ThinkProgress noted, it is a sentiment the USCCB letter strongly implies.

This “parenting” letter from a bunch of old “celibate” white guys is further proof that the force behind most GOP attacks on Americans’ equal rights is driven by religion. That might be acceptable in theocratic regimes such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, but it is an atrocity in America. Not because they are attempting to control the people, that is what religion does. The real atrocity is that Republicans are dutifully following their edicts to the letter.

If that is unbelievable, think back to the GOP’s claims during North Carolina’s “trans toilet” controversy and then note the USCCB’s letter demanding enactment of “policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all.”

It is true these bishops are hateful religious leaders to even suggest that parents should reject trans kids, but they represent a controlling religious syndicate that would not exist without using hate to control their sycophants – like the Republican movement. That they would endanger children by fundamentally saying they are “deeply troubling and false” as if they don’t exist is par for the course and something Republicans will repeat ad nauseam.

Image: Patheos

Armageddon Is Why Evangelicals Cheered Trump’s Jerusalem Speech

For normal people, the concept of sitting in safety and watching an event that wipes out most of the Earth’s population is certainly nothing to be excited about or celebrate. But no-one in their right mind has ever labeled evangelical fanatics anything remotely resembling normal people. On Friday during a Trump event and as a welcome to Florida, a Republican state senator gave an almost uneventful “introductory speech” for the Oval Office crook, and then he incited the audience to religious zeal with a statement that is beyond the pale, but typical for America’s theocrats.

The Florida Republican, Doug Broxson, represents Florida’s panhandle and he obviously knew his audience well because he gave them something horrific to cheer about and they delivered. Broxson said:

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem — where the King of Kings [wild applause] where our soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem, it is because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be capital of Israel.”

Ignoring the absurdity, audacity and danger of a foreigner “declaring” where a sovereign nation’s capital is, and the sovereign nation celebrating the intrusion into is “sovereignty,” there is a disturbing aspect of Broxson’s religious declaration.

There are millions of Trump supporters praying for, and highly anticipating, what a highly-respected theologian labeled the “climax of human history” in a globally devastating war. It doesn’t matter whether sane people believe the biblical prophesy of a global apocalypse or not, there are a very significant number of people within Trump’s administration, and likely all of his most fanatical evangelical supporters, who not only believe in “End Times” destruction, they want it to come tomorrow. And they will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

These people are inherently evil because they expect to be “raptured” away and given a “heavenly” seat to witness the extermination of humanity in a global god-war. That war, the dreaded “Armageddon,” will end in global conflagration that the Christian bible claims will occur around the time the faithful “rebuild the Temple” in Jerusalem. This is exactly why there were evangelical celebrations at Trump designating the city that is Israel’s new capital.

A little background on Broxson may shed some light on why he celebrated the idea of the new Israeli capital that leads to global devastation, the end of human history, and the extermination of human beings unwilling to bend to the will of the biblical god. And yes, even “regular Christians” have to admit that their holy book describes the end of non-compliant humanity at the biblical End Times.

Broxson attended a private Christian university with an embedded seminary located in Springfield, Missouri. The “Evangel University” is affiliated with the Assemblies of God Christian denomination that seriously believes End Times prophecy and looks forward to Jesus’ return to lay waste to the non-compliant in a globally devastating war.

Broxson is obviously not alone in his glee at Armageddon and that anticipation is widely shared among Trump’s religious supporters. That is particularly true for Trump’s most trusted “spiritual advisor” Robert Jeffress who believes the biblical “End Times” prophecy is the immutable word of god. Jeffress celebrated Trump “officially” designating Jerusalem as Israel’s new capital because it is where Jesus is rumored to return to wipe out evil. He said in a statement:

It is the place where Jesus, a Jew himself, was crucified and where he was resurrected. It is the place where he will set foot again on earth at his second coming.

According to theological scholar Dr. Diana Butler Bass, there is a reason, although a damn bizarre one, why recognizing Jerusalem is so crucially important to evangelicals lusting for “the apocalypse” and the end of the world. Ms. Bass said, and anyone familiar with the psychedelic book of Revelation is aware, that Trump’s announcement was important because “rebuilding the Temple” in Jerusalem “sparks the events of Revelation and the End Times.

Ms. Bass said:

Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days. They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies.”

It is important to note, and a point Bass warned was a real danger, is that for the evangelical fanatics supporting Trump, including Pence, Sessions,Ted Cruz, Roy Moore and countless other of the “frighteningly devout,”  Trump’s decision will hasten the “climax of history” and expedite their trip to proverbial Heaven to watch humanity’s destruction.

Professor Bass continued:

Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire. People believe this. Really believe this. Have given their lives to these ideas, sing about them in their churches, evangelize others, teach them in Sunday schools. And, this morning, with the news of Jerusalem, these people are ecstatic. This is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. And Donald Trump is not only acting on a campaign promise, but enacting a theological one.

They believe that Donald Trump is God’s instrument to move us closer to the Rapture, the Judgment, and the End. Because to them, that’s actually the beginning — the beginning of their reward and heavenly bliss.

What matters is that Jesus comes back in Judgement. To these sorts of Christians, that Judgment is the only true peace. Everything is phony, deceptive, even evil. Millions of American Christians believe all this. Millions of Trump voters. Sacred history is unfolding right now because of Donald Trump and God. They’ve based their faith, their identity, their purpose, their eternal lives on these ideas. Trust me. There’s no arguing with any of it.”

It is likely that “regular Christians” are as appalled at cheering for alleged “planet-wide”  destruction only possible in a biblical fantasy story, as non-believers. But Trump’s evangelical fanatics are as far from being “regular Christians” as Earth is from the edge of the observable universe; so this is not an indictment of “all Christians” or “using a wide brush” to portray all Christians as fanatics.

Even the Israeli media outlet Haaretz recognized that Trump’s “Jerusalem declaration” was driven by “evangelical forces” as well a to please Netanyahu. Only an idiot believes the declaration had anything to do with establishing Middle East peace. It has everything to do with inciting Muslims to violence, possibly to initiate the End Times to “bring on Armageddon” like so many evangelicals yearn for.

At this point no American should be confused about why “the faithful” support  a consummate sinner like Trump and it is apparent it is not all about abortion. The religious right has even started an organization, “POTUS Shield” to protect what evangelicals claim “is the anointed by god” so he can fulfill god’s will and bring about the End Times. Trump fulfilled his godly role by designating Jerusalem as Israel’s new capital and sane humans await the impending violence in response to another American’s interference in the Middle East.

For Trump’s evangelical supporters, that “interference” and impending violence is what they pray for because they are certain it is what god wanted Trump had to do to force the biblical destruction they get to watch from on high. If America was a secular democracy and not in the clutches of a seriously demented group of evangelicals, this entire story would be amusing. But it is not funny and it is certainly nothing for civilized human beings to celebrate.

Image: Patheos

Religious Leaders Arrested For Protesting Republicans’ Tax Bill

In a new low, even in Trump’s America, a group of faith leaders representing every major religion showed up at the Senate to protest the Republican tax reform legislation and for all their godly effort they were detained, handcuffed, and arrested – while they were praying.

It isn’t often that organized religious leaders join forces in opposition to Republicans, but in another sign the GOP’s tax reform giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy is highly unpopular, another group of “faith leaders” joined a chorus of criticism against the Republicans. One thing that is universal in the great majority of religions is the idea of protecting the poor and the vulnerable, it was a major theme of Jesus Christ’s teaching and something ‘religious” Republicans vehemently oppose as un-American.

On Thursday, a group “faith advocates” gathered to protest the GOP legislation at the Hart Senate building. The head of a Christian social justice group “Sojourners,” Jim Wallis was joined by Barbara Williams Skinner of the National African American Clergy Network and a large group of clergy to pray and condemn “unjust rulers” using religious ideology right from the scriptures. The theme of the criticism was that the “bill is an assault on the poor and vulnerable” the multi-denominational clergy “are sworn to protect.”

Mr. Wallis actually quoted a passage from the GOP’s favorite part of the Christian bible, the Old Testament, that fairly describes what Republicans are attempting to do to the American people who aren’t corporations or members of the one percent. Wallis recited Isaiah 10:1 saying:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

Police waited until after several other members of the clergy spoke out against the tax bill and then “detained, handcuffed, and escorted them away while they prayed.”  So much for the GOP’s high regard for “religious freedom.”

The previous day a group of “more than 2,400 faith leaders” representing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and many other “faith traditions” signed a letter to Republican leaders in the Senate slamming the bill as “unjust.” In fact, the “clergy” listed several issues they opposed with special emphasis on how it was created to “disproportionately benefit the wealthy,’ explode the deficit and increase the number of uninsured Americans by millions.” The letter read, in part:

As people of faith, we view decisions about tax policy and the federal budget as moral decisions. Simply put, this proposed legislation is fundamentally unjust. If it becomes law, it will result in harmful consequences for those most needing support so as to benefit high-income earners and big corporations.”

Several high-profile religious organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and surprisingly, even the president of the National Association of Evangelicals joined the CEO of Catholic Charities USA and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to condemn the cruel bill. The National Council of Churches summed up briefly why a majority of Americans, whether they are religious or not, oppose the GOP’s tax reform bill:

The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended.”

The tax bills cannot be “fiscally defended” either; but that isn’t stopping the Republican march towards transferring the treasury to corporations and the wealthy and burden the poor and middle class in the process. It is noteworthy to remind the clergy that their bible has no place in whether a tax plan can be defended; that theocratic remark ruined whatever positive “optics” the group hoped to shine on their worthy effort.

Now, although the faith leaders coming together to oppose this tax reform abomination is a kind gesture, as was the same group’s opposition to Trump’s immigration ban, repeal of DACA, and attempt at ending the Affordable Care Act, it is only a gesture and the religious leaders know it. The question a majority of those leaders have to answer before they will be taken seriously is why do they predominately support Republicans when they are well aware this particular “unjust” tax plan is the same as every other “unjust” Republican tax plan.

Without the reliable religious vote, Republicans would not control the House or the Senate or a growing majority of state legislatures. The only one reason the faithful support Republicans is because they pander to every faith and denomination that opposes women’s right to make their own reproductive choices. A fair number of the religious leaders condemning the Republican tax scam were also instrumental in aiding those same Republicans attack women’s rights over using birth control.

It is quite troublesome for a secular humanist to give much credence to some of these religious leaders because most of them know their efforts helped give Republicans control of Congress; all in a religious crusade to control women because doing so is “biblically defensible.” However, it is refreshing  to see Republicans being assailed by their staunchest supporters for a change; not that it matters to Republicans who no doubt had some input in having the protestors arrested while they were praying for the wrong issue.