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.