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.

Missouri Allows Employers To Fire Women For Using Birth Control

For human beings that live in a free society, it is impossible to imagine how horrible it would be to live in an uncivilized Hell where it is necessary to pass a law to protect a woman’s personal freedoms and privacy. In a free society, those personal freedoms and privacy are generally guaranteed to all citizens, so it would never be necessary to even consider a law that protected women from being punished for anything legal, much less for their personal choices. Conversely, patriarchal theocracies controlled by a religious sect would likely forbid such a law from being considered in the first place, much less debated and passed.

In the American state of Missouri, when a city had to pass an ordinance that prohibited employers and landlords from punishing women for exercising their legal Constitutional right to use contraceptive birth control, the religious Republican legislature and governor reacted like the Taliban – minus the guns.

The religious Republicans running the state of Missouri, under direction from the religious Republican Missouri governor, are deep into the process of enacting legislation granting religious individuals authority to punish women if they dare exercise their Constitutionally-protected freedom to use birth control or have an abortion without facing the wrath of the religious right. It is important to note, this is Missouri in America, the Show Me State. And the religious Republicans are showing the nation they are doing exactly what this author has warned about for a decade; use their ugly, savage, insidious religion to control women by punishing them for disobedience. The Missouri Republicans initial form of punishment is being fired and homeless, or become a slave birth machine for evangelical Jesus and the Vatican.

The anti-women legislation was the subject of a “special legislative sessionconvened by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to put a screeching halt to a recently-passed ordinance that “prevents employers and housing providers from punishing women for their “reproductive healthcare choices.” The focus of the special session was to, as quickly as possible, overturn what in a civilized society should have been a completely unnecessary ordinance. Apparently, the city of St. Louis must not feel Missouri is civilized if they had to pass a law to protect women’s personal privacy and freedoms already guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

The ordinance enraged religious Republicans in the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the state legislature that concurred with the governor; the St. Louis ordinance is “a radical attempt” to transform the area into “an abortion sanctuary city.” So the state’s House and Senate quickly passed SB5 on June 14  to put women back under religious men’s control. But still, the legislation wasn’t nearly harsh enough so six days later (June 20) the Republican House passed “an expanded version of SB5” awaiting Senate passage and the governor’s promised signature.

The new and improved SB5 authorizes any landlord or housing provider to refuse housing to any woman based on their reproductive health choices, such as using birth control or if they ever had or contemplate having an abortion. And a landlord can evict a woman for using birth control, having or had an abortion, or for “becoming pregnant while unmarried.

Employers will have the power to fire any “female staff members” who use birth control, or refuse to hire them for being “non-compliant” to a church-driven edict. And to skirt any federal or state privacy laws, particularly medical privacy laws, the theocratic SB5 authorizes employers and landlords access to “what forms of reproductive health care they are using.”  Obviously, men who have had a vasectomy or use “rubbers” are exempted from religious control.

This hideous religious legislation, and that is all it is, puts the great majority of Missouri women at risk of losing their employment or their residence according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) because,

99 percent of all sexually-active, reproductive-age women have used contraception.”

As Sejal Singh of “Feministing” opined, “whether or not someone is part of that 99% is none of their boss’ goddamn business.” Missouri’s religious right Republicans, like all nasty religious right Republicans, disagree that it is none of their business. They claim it is their biblical right to “invasively give employers and landlords power to police highly personal choices women make about their bodies and lives.

There is already a federal law, the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against women because they have had or considered having an abortion, but there is no specific federal legislation protecting women from being punished for using some form of birth control, or becoming pregnant while unmarried; in a free society there is no need for those kinds of legislation. However, in Trump’s savage America, his evangelical administration is frantically rolling back or stripping civil rights protections across the board, and with a conservative Supreme Court anxious to expand evangelicals’ religious liberty to impose biblical edicts as the law of the land, women are in serious peril and not just in Missouri.

Most Americans oppose being ruled by a theocracy, and yet that is precisely what is unfolding now that religious Republicans own the federal government. All of these anti-women’s choice measures are attempts by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to exert control over American women and impose the Vatican’s 1968 Humanae Vitae that forbids sexual activity not intended to produce offspring.

A major reason this religious savagery continues unabated is because the media, Democrats, and women’s rights activists and advocates are terrified to cite the only source of any and all of these anti-women laws. Until the media, women’s rights activists, and Democrats start citing the Vatican and evangelical fundamentalism as the only source of terror being inflicted on American women, legislation like Missouri’s SB5 will continue spreading across the land. And with an evangelical maniac like Mike Pence directing Trump’s domestic policy, Americans can look for more extreme versions of SB5 being enacted at the federal level.