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.

Trump’s Bullying Backfires – NFL To Take Up Protestor’s Cause

Donald Trump epitomizes incompetence that he attempts to conceal with his big mouth; as if bloviating nonstop lies and absurdities will convince Americans he is anything other than a monumental douchebag. When the oaf in the Oval took up the cause of defining patriotism as denying other Americans their Constitutionally guaranteed rights, not only did he reveal his fascist tendencies, he pushed an American institution to declare that they would not join his tyranny against mostly African American athletes.

The fascist bully Trump was certain he could “force” the NFL to restrict its players’ constitutional rights by running his mouth and calling socially-conscious players “sons-of-bitches” and demand they be “thrown off the field.” There were even rumors that next week the NFL was convening a meeting with owners to do as Trump ordered and punish mostly African American players who are unwilling to forfeit their constitutional rights. However, the only thing Trump running his big mouth accomplished was doing precisely what Colin Kaepernick began over a year ago; use the NFL to bring attention to racial and social injustices.

Trump has been hoping to distract Americans from his corruption and incompetency by continuing to portray Americans exercising their constitutional right as being deliberately disrespectful to a song, the country, veterans, active duty soldiers and the American flag. On Friday he kept his big mouth running and addressed the issue again.

Before watching a football game, you want to see those players be proud of their country. Respect our country. Respect our flag. And respect our national anthem and we think they will. We certainly hope they will.”

Trump is a petty piece of work if he believes, and he does, that standing up when a song plays informs a person’s pride and respect for a country or a flag. If Trump wasn’t a know-nothing idiot, he would understand that this country began as a protest against his type of tyranny during a so-called ‘tea party’ in Boston Harbor in 1773. The nation’s founders and Constitution’s Framers made “freedom to protest” a guaranteed right for all Americans for all time, and like everything about America, Trump hates free expression and wants it to stop under threat of retribution. It’s why he called on the NFL to get the “sons-of-bitches” off the football field for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Loudmouth Don likely thought the NFL owners would follow the lead of Dallas Cowboys piece of shit owner and threaten to bench any player who dared exercise their constitutional right of free speech. On the same day Trump accused players taking a knee of disrespecting everything America because the displayed their pride to live in a country” that gives them freedom of speech,” the NFL made an announcement that it was not going to do what the fascist demanded.

Instead of strictly obeying the fascist Trump, the NFL has decided that it will focus on how best to use its powerful forum to do exactly what the protestors are taking a knee for; bring national attention to the racial and social injustices destroying America.

According to Reuters, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the League’s commissioner Roger Goodell:

Has a plan that he is going to present to owners about how to use our platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country.”

Mr. Lockhart said that instead of “throwing the sons-of-bitches” off the field, or “forcing” mostly African American athletes to give up their 1st Amendment rights like Trump demanded, the League is joining the players’ crusading to make social change. He said there will be discussions focusing on using the NFL players and clubs “broad platforms” to actually make progress on “issues of equality, social justice, and criminal justice reform.” Lockhart said:

These are issues that are important to our clubs, issues that are important to our players, issues that are important to the communities in which we play.  That’s what we are discussing. So for everyone who has speculated over the last few days that somehow there is a proposal that is set for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday you are speculating. Those who are reporting it as fact are reporting it incorrectly.”

The announcement by the NFL reflects the desire of the NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith according to a statement he made last week. Mr. Smith related that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants owner John Mara, chairman of the NFL’s management council, informed the players’ union that “they would respect the Constitutional Rights of our members without retribution.” Trump doesn’t get it, but that is precisely what it means to “respect America.”

The NFL announcement Friday also fulfilled one of Smith’s desires; He said:

I look forward to the day when everyone in management can unite and truly embrace and articulate what the flag stands for: ‘Liberty and justice for all’ instead of some of them just talking about standing. We look forward to continuing our talks with them on this very issue.”

Based on the NFL announcement Friday, those upcoming talks will address what the flag stands for and how to address the issues the players are protesting.

It is noteworthy that these “sit don’t stand,” or “take a knee” or “lock arms in solidarity” protests began well over a year ago and they went relatively unnoticed. There were isolated outbursts from from racists and faux patriots, but it was nothing like the “national outrage” Trump attempted to create to divert attention from his incompetence and corruption.

Trump’s big mouth changed all that and for all his insane rants, propaganda plots and lies about “disrespecting America,” what he accomplished was an announcement that the NFL commissioner has a “plan about how to use our platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country.” It is precisely why Colin Kaepernick started protesting and why athletes from all over the sporting world joined the cause. Now, if the NFL follows through on its promise, the “League” will be joining the cause and it is the result of big mouth Trump’s tyrannical aspirations.

SCOTUS Aids Theocratic Coup d’état

 

As America nears another anniversary of its Declaration of Independence from an empire heavily influenced by a powerful theocracy, advocates for America under a theocratic government celebrated a major step towards their goal; a nation of the bible, for the evangelicals, and governed by the Christian religion. There is little doubt that the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers would be appalled that the deliberately secular government they created inched closer to officially compelling Americans to support a religion. Indeed, it was the Declaration of Independence’s author, Founding Father, Constitution Framer, and  3rd President Thomas Jefferson who said that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Republicans and their evangelical masters believe Thomas Jefferson was an abomination to theocrats everywhere. They also fiercely believe that despite the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment, and well over two-thirds of state Constitutions’ blunt prohibitions on “spending any public money on any church, sect, or denomination of religion,” that Americans must be compelled by force of law to provide “support for religious worship, places, and ministries.

One of those states with prohibitions against using public money to support churches, sects and any denomination of religion is Missouri. Missouri’s Constitution, according to evangelicals, was abhorrent; especially after a few federal courts upheld the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition on using taxpayer money to support religion. So the aspiring theocrats appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution, and thirty-six state constitutions are unfair to religious organizations because they cannot compel taxpayers to support places of worship.

It is noteworthy that although greed is a mortal sin in the Christian religion, the churches are not satisfied taking well over $82.5 billion annually (2013) on top of the over $28 billion in “faith-based initiatives” from taxpayers “compelled” to support religion. They demand that taxpayers pay for private religious schools and want more of their dollars.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court added to those horrific dollar amounts in what appears to be a small way, but they also opened the door for ungodly amounts of taxpayer money to be stolen from public eduction to fund private religious schools. The High Court ruled that it was unfair, and one seriously nasty form of religious persecution, for Missouri’s Constitution to forbid a religious school from taking taxpayer money to improve its playground. It may seem like a small thing, compelling taxpayers to fund improvements for a religious organization’s property, but it was the opening evangelical school choice advocates, and evangelical Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, demanded to compel public schools to “promote god’s kingdom” by government fiat and with taxpayer money.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos celebrated the Trinity decision as a victory for the taxpayer-funded religious school choice movement, which has gained momentum and stands to expand under the Trump administration.

Trump’s budget features a $1.4 billion religious school choice package that includes millions of taxpayer dollars for evangelical families to send their children to private, for profit religious schools.

DeVos is a staunch and lifelong advocate for compelling  taxpayers to fund private, for-profit religious schools. She is also a notorious evangelical and public education enemy who attended and sent her children to private religious schools; likely because they met her requirement that schools exist to “promote god’s kingdom.”

DeVos said the High Court decision affirmed her belief that  “religious discrimination in any form cannot be tolerated in a society that values the First Amendment;” unless of course religion drives discrimination against people of color and the LGBTQ community, then DeVos tolerates “religious discrimination.” She said after the Trinity ruling was announced:

We should all celebrate the fact that [bible-based] programs designed to help students will no longer be discriminated against by the government based solely on religious affiliation.”

DeVos wasn’t the only evangelical celebrating a ruling that opened the door for compelling Americans to support a religion, place, or ministry. The senior attorney for the Institute for Justice who represents evangelicals who couldn’t convince authorities in Colorado to compel taxpayers  to pay for religious school tuition through scholarship grants, Michael Bindas said:

This is a tremendous development for [religious] school choice. It shows the court takes the principle of neutrality toward religion in public benefits programs very seriously. We’re very confident that the Colorado Supreme Court may come to the correct decision.”

Evangelicals claimed that Colorado’s Constitution, and its Supreme Court’s judgement that the state’s Choice Scholarship Program’s  prohibited public funding to “ support or sustain any school that is controlled by any church or sectarian denomination” was patently unfair to evangelicals. The Colorado evangelicals are demanding the Colorado Supreme Court correct their error and start compelling all Colorado taxpayers to “financially support a religion, place of worship, and ministry.

It is always a mystery why so-called Constitutional advocates in the Republican movement are intent on compelling Americans to pay for religious instruction with money appropriated for public schools. This week Kentucky governor and evangelical malcontent Matt Bevin signed a bill into law legalizing bible-courses disguised as social studies in the state’s public school system. Bevin said at a signing ceremony:

The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy. I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”

To answer Bevin’s question; every state and the nation is not embracing compelling taxpayers to pay for “religious instruction, places of worship, or bible classes” because it is patently unconstitutional, and not all Americans are religious welfare queens. The Kentucky religious imposition bill demands that religious classes “must discuss all aspects of the Christian bible because they are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”

The evangelical zealots in Kentucky’s Republican legislature and governor’s office claim that teaching the Christian bible is the only way for students “to get a better insight on the structure of the country.” One Republican advocate for compelling taxpayers to  support “a ministrysaid the law will “help educate our kids on the background of how they came up with our founding documents.” Founding documents, by the way, that make absolutely no mention of the Christian bible, the Christian religion, or how religion was used in developing the “structure the country” because they did not.

The SCOTUS ruling this week, although seemingly harmless, is being touted as probably the most important High Court ruling all year and that is no exaggeration. It gave evangelicals the opening they have lusted after to tear down the wall of separation the Founders installed in the Constitution to protect the population from a theocracy. The immediate celebratory comments by DeVos and evangelicals intent on “compelling Americans to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever” informs that not only was the SCOTUS ruling significant, it was a dangerous step towards a government ruled by an evangelical theocracy.

Journalists and Protestors Mourn the Death of the Constitution

It is getting to the point that any American who believes they have rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution had better come to grips with the tragic fact that Donald Trump’s election victory put their constitutionally protected personal freedoms at risk. It is beyond refute that as part of the conservative movement, Republicans have demonstrated time and again that they despise any part of the Constitution that ensures American citizens certain “unalienable rights,” and chief among those most hated by the party’s standard bearer Trump are a free press and the people’s right to peaceably protest.

No-one conscious should be surprised that Trump spent the entirety of the presidential campaign demeaning the press and peaceable protests; he idolizes and heaps praise on the worst and most authoritarian tyrants on the planet. It is hard to determine if Trump hates protestors more than journalists, but he has had little reservation calling for both protestors’ and journalists’ arrests and imprisonment for doing what American citizens believe is their Constitutional right; gather peaceably and do the job they’re paid to do. A bevy of Republican states have legislation pending to criminalize the former and journalists can expect a similar fate if Trump gets his way. This is the new America – Trump’s America – and the way Trump intends to make it great.

The reason these two rights are becoming extinct is because on two occasions within a week a journalist was attacked by a Republican politician and then rewarded with a seat in the House of Representatives, and a gang of foreign thugs attacked and injured peaceable protestors and were rewarded with no arrests. This is the new America – this is Trump’s America –  and it’s the kind of America Trump and his acolytes consider great.

The big story late in the week was a Republican House candidate physically assaulting a reporter for the Guardian without being arrested on the spot; because the county sheriff was a contributor to the bully’s candidacy. One can surmise that the sheriff also contributed to Trump’s campaign. And, like Trump, the Montana Republican lied through his teeth that a reporter attacked him first prompting a “self-defense” claim by the man who said he was “sick of this [journalist’s questions]” as he punched the reporter.

The incident was witnessed and reported on as a completely valid story by a team from Fox News who were “stunned” at the assault on a reporter. It may be one of the only times the GOP’s official party network was not reporting “fake news.” And in what is becoming a troubling trend,  like five of Trump’s lying cabinet appointees who committed perjury under oath before the Senate, Montana’s Republican voters rewarded the candidate with an election victory; likely to send a message to Trump to keep up the good work demonizing the media.

There was another bunch of “brutal attacks” last week, but this time it was peaceful protestors who were assaulted, punched, kicked, choked, and slammed to the ground by a foreign authoritarian’s henchmen; all while American police officers stood by observing American citizens being criminally assaulted by a gang of foreigners – some of them carrying firearms. This too is the new America, Trump’s America, and it’s what Trump meant when he promised to “make America great again;” even though for 238 years journalists and peaceful protestors were protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The New York Times displayed and analyzed a multitude of videos and photographs of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail and Turkish police viciously attacking American citizens for exercising their constitutional right to protest. What the videos and images show are 24 agents of a foreign government who outnumbered protestors two to one leaving their official vehicles to charge into a group of American citizens and attack them; likely what they do as a matter of course in Turkey.

It is plain to see, as the NYT notes, the video and still images leave little doubt that the foreign head of state’s “security guards” attacked peaceful protestors in clear view of the police; not one of the foreigners was charged with a crime. And, there is no doubt the foreign thugs attacking Americans were “members of the [Turkish] president’s security detail and Turkish policeaccording to Turkey’s state-owned news wire, Anadolu Agency; the videos the NYT analyzed were provided by the Turkish news agency people who filmed the assaults.

The incident start when three men left their official vehicles and charged at the protesters. One man knocked two women protestors to the ground, and another man repeatedly punched Lucy Usoyan, a protester, as she lay on the ground. One of the attackers actually acknowledged that he participating in kicking one woman thrown to the ground because,  “I wasn’t paying attention. I thought it was a man. I would never kick a woman.” One of the attacker’s accomplices said that by joining three other men in kicking the woman on the ground, the attacker was just defending himself from female protester he said was a “terrorist.” Interestingly, one Republican has proposed legislation equating peaceable protestors to terrorists; a “slightly” watered-down bill is still in committee.

But regardless the Turkish men’s mendacious remarks and pathetically false excuses of combating terrorists, the man did kick an American woman exercising her constitutional right; his excuse that he “thought it was a man” doesn’t justify his actions no matter that the police and Turkey’s president watched as the thugs attacked American citizens.

One of the Turkish guards grabbed and choked 26 year old Ceren Borazan prior to throwing her on the ground. The foreign agent slammed the American citizen, a young woman, to the ground for exercising her Constitutional right to protest as he was saying “You are dead.” Ms. Borazan told New York Times that, “I felt so awful. As a woman, as an American. Right now I don’t even feel safe here.”

Another woman who was thrown to the ground and kicked repeatedly by several men sustained a concussion leading a doctor to authorize six weeks off from work to recover. The woman said  “I’m glad I’m alive.”

Although the State Department allegedly condemned the episode, and some American lawmakers have called for the foreign agents to be prosecuted, it is likely they will never experience even a minute in the American criminal justice system; this is the new America – this is Trump’s America – and it is what Trump meant when he pledged to make America great again. Great like Nazi Germany, Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt and Russia; all 21st Century nations where journalists and protestors have no Constitution go protect their “unalienable rights” as human beings.