Theocracy Alert: LGBT students forced to read bible as punishment

No doubt human beings read the Christian bible for various reasons whether it is to learn how to live according to Stone and Bronze Age sensibilities in the 21st Century, or to verify that America’s bastardized version of the faith is founded on fantastical lies, or for academic studies into archaic mythology and superstition. For some people it is probable that reading the Christian bible is sheer torture, and it may explain why an Oregon school forced LGBTQ students to read Christian bible scriptures as punishment.

First, although America officially began lurching towards becoming an evangelical theocracy shortly before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, it is still patently unconstitutional to insert any religion into public education – regardless what “preacher” Pence or Education Secretary and evangelical extremist Betsy DeVos believe. It almost certainly occurs often but is hardly reported for a couple of reasons. Either because victims are terrified of the theocrats, or because there are far too many evangelical extremists in power who regularly flout the U.S. Constitution by inserting and promoting some form of the Christian religion in public schools they refuse to accept or believe that their Christian bible is not the Constitution and ultimate law of the land and they will inflict damage on anyone claiming otherwise.

It is noteworthy that the evangelical extremists who reject the Constitution as heretical also believe that the Constitution imparts religious liberty authorizing evangelicals to single out women and members of the LGBTQ community for “special treatment” regardless of equal rights laws or federal protections against discrimination. Of course it is abominable and contrary to the Constitution to discriminate against any American, but to discriminate against gay students and then use the Christian bible for punishment in the public schools would be criminal if America wasn’t creeping towards theocracy.

In a rural region about 200 miles from Portland Oregon the North Bend School District is facing what are being termed “serious discrimination” charges for “forcing at least one LGBTQ student to read the Christian bible as punishment.” The discrimination aspect entails allegations that the district singles out LGBT students for  “separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment;” such as a school administrator “forcing LGBT students to read the Christian bible while they were being disciplined.

Of course the district, and likely the culprits, summarily denied the allegations because like all common criminal they knew they were violating more than a few rules. However, it seems certain that at some juncture someone in authority actually scanned the Old Testament and read “Number Nine” of the BIG Ten Commandments prohibiting lying under pain of death. Possibly then the theocrat using their bible for punishment realized they were courting death according to Old Testament rules if they continued lying. The administrator in question, although not contrite, confessed to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) investigators that the allegations were indeed true. It also was revealed that another teacher was reported as equating same-sex marriage to marrying a dog — during taxpayer-funded public school lessons.

Part of the Oregon Department of Education investigation is whether the “forced Bible reading violated the student’s First Amendment rights, including the Establishment Clause which recognizes the separation of church and state.” Obviously, any introduction of religion in public school violates the Constitution, so there is no question that punishment by bible is a serious violation; obviously forcing any student to read it is violating the students’ rights.

The ODE letter to North Bend School District Superintendent Bill Yester said in part:

There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment… The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred.”

Coos Bay World provided excerpts from a “detailed account” of the three primary allegations lodged against the district.

Under the matter of “using the bible as punishment,” the ODE noted that:

The District allegedly treated students differently on the basis of sex and sexual orientation when imposing discipline.”

The district also “failed to respond to sexual harassment complaints when those complaints were made by LGBTQ students.”

And finally, “District  failed to take appropriate action to remedy a hostile environment after complaints had been made by LGBTQ students alleging that students and district staff had sexually harassed other students.” (author bold)

This incident should raise myriad red flags and incite outrage about the increasing imposition of religion occurring at the state and federal level, but it has not. It is likely increasing because at one time only an evangelical extremist would disagree that using the Bible for anything in the public schools violates the First Amendment; now the minority die-hard evangelical extremists run the government as an extension of their version of “the Church” in a burgeoning evangelical theocracy.

Under Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, educators cannot use the Bible as a moral authority in public schools because it is an “establishment of religion” that violates the separation between church and state. The concept of separating church and state, although enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution is an abomination and “unconstitutional” according most religious right fanatics, including Mike “preacher” Pence and J. Beauregard Sessions.

The ODE’s letter to the District also noted that one school counselor the students appealed to for assistance faced retaliation from the district officials after he began advocating for LGBTQ students. The counselor said:

These students have required quite a bit of support, but luckily they have some good family and friends. A lot of students who have been involved didn’t come forward or remained anonymous so it’s two main students who spearheaded the appeal. They had the courage to do this.”

No-one should be surprised at this latest imposition of religion in the public school system, or that LGBTQ students have been singled out and “openly discriminated against and forced to read the Christian bible” both as a form of punishment and to “demean LGBTQ students.” There is a crusade at the federal level to force evangelical teaching on public school students as the be all, end all “national moral authority,” as well as to inculcate America’s youth into the superstitious worldview of bigots according to a religion.

Another aspect of this atrocity in a secular nation is that, save a few local and regional media outlets, this all-too-common story has been woefully under-reported, if reported at all. That dearth of reporting is part and parcel of why evangelical extremists, religious right activists, and Republicans nationwide continue flouting the Constitution with veritable impunity. Sadly, although they only make up a minority of the population, the evangelical theocrats now co-own the federal government with the Kochs and corporations and if Republicans are not thrown out of power quickly, this particular incident is going to be a regular occurrence. And if the Christian Dominionists achieve their goal, it will not be unconstitutional, it will be the law of the land and reporting it as discrimination will be a crime.

Image: Patheos

Religious Republican states inform women abortion can be reversed

In the religious war against women being waged by Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, there are unlimited absurdities and atrocities in the crusade to deny women their constitutional human right to self-determination regarding their reproductive health. Republicans believe their constitutional right as theocratic legislators is controlling women’s reproductive health and a piece in the Huffington Post reveals just how maniacally driven religious Republicans are in their crusade to control American women.

It is a sad state of affairs, but too few media outlets are apprising women about the unrelenting attacks on their reproductive rights because the media is as terrified of inciting evangelical rage as Democrats. They still believe there is a federal statute forbidding alerting Americans that Republicans are legislating according to a bastardized form of evangelicalism unique to the American religious right. And that religious legislation is most rampant where  women’s medical and health rights are concerned.

Most folks who have undergone a medical procedure have signed a consent form and been adequately educated about the risks and their options by a physician. Every state has their own version of what information the state deems is necessary for the patient to be adequately “informed” before giving their consent for a medical procedure. This is particularly true with regard to a relatively simple and routinely safe procedure unique to women intent on terminating an unplanned pregnancy. Suffice it to say that some dyed-in-the-wool evangelical red states include phony information that is simply not supported by any medical or scientific research; their goal is to prevent women from making an informed decision when they can make a Vatican-approved decision instead.

Informed consent based on fake science, first or second-person anecdotes, or a theocrat’s notion that “seems to make sense” is not informed. However, in three statespart of advising a woman seeking an abortion is “informing” them that if they “act urgently” they can “reverse an abortion.”

This unscientific “idea” is a real “thing” only in that there is a real organization, the “Abortion Pill Reversal” (APR) worldwide network, pushing the idea. The “idea” is actually just another religious “crisis pregnancy center” deception with only one reason for existing: to frighten, cajole, and dissuade women from terminating a pregnancy.

This APR “idea” was first introduced about six years ago under the guise of a “case study” that is as far removed from any kind of real science as some of the other dimwitted assertions from evangelical conservatives. In fact, the concept of reversing an abortion is so fantastical that one believed it had been promptly sent to the dustbin about six years ago when it was first introduced. Instead, it was embraced by evangelicals and the Catholic personhood movement and written into legislation in a few red states.

Seriously, the idea of “reversing an abortion” ranks up there with other debunked assertions such as homosexuality causes hurricanes and earthquakes; more guns on the streets mean fewer shootings; college turns Christians into gays; and abortion causes breast cancer, infertility, and severe lifelong psychological damage from making a decision evangelicals oppose.

The issue here is not necessarily another deceitful machination to manipulate women into toeing the Vatican line on reproduction, although it is an issue posing monumental threats to women’s rights. No, the matter is that religious Republicans are actually passing laws targeting women’s reproductive rights based on nothing more than “an idea” some evangelical cretin conjured up to control women. Some real scientists generously labeled the abortion reversal plan “an experiment;” but it is far less than any real scientific experiment.

The insanely ridiculous notion is courtesy of APR  founder Dr. George Delgado who published what he declared was a “small case series” in the Annals of Pharmacology back in 2012. In that poor excuse for a study Delgado claimed that he found a way to reverse “medication abortion” in 4 out of the six women he said participated by giving them an injection of the hormone progesterone; a seventh woman bailed on Delgado’s study.

The women were allegedly administered the progesterone after taking a dose of “mifepristone,” the first of two drugs necessary for a medication abortion. According to Delgado, “giving women extra progesterone – a hormone that helps support pregnancy – will ‘outnumber’ and ‘outcompete’ the ‘misoprostol’ [first pill] and keep it from working.”

Delgado also said that since a higher concentration of one hormone “will tend to win the battle at the receptor, it just makes sense” that progesterone can block the effects of mifepristone and reverse an abortion.

In August 2017, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had to release a real science and fact-based statement warning that “Facts Are Important” and that “Medication Abortion Reversal Is Not Supported by Science.” The gist of the ACOG statement is that real OB/GYNs do not support prescribing progesterone to stop an abortion because it is “not based on science and does not meet any clinical standards.” ACOG also assailed Republican states for “unfounded legislative mandates [that] represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety.”

Another OB-GYN, the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, Dr. Daniel Grossman said:

It’s one thing to exaggerate the risks of abortion, but it’s far more concerning when a state codifies into law a medical treatment that is completely unproven. We should all be concerned when our government forces doctors to recommend an experimental therapy — without making it clear that it’s experimental.” (author bold)

As one might expect, any suggestion that a fake anti-abortion treatment is unscientific enraged the Catholic personhood movement and drove them to lash out at what they deemed is a “hostile media” for reporting that Delgado’s “idea” is unscientific and unproven. At the time, the Catholics were furious that several media outlets’ reporting convinced legislators in two or three states to reconsider “forcing doctors” to counsel their patients with junk science; the abortion reversal information was not included in those states’ informed consent laws.

Learning that three Republican controlled states actually included this APR gibberish and forcing doctors who know better to recommend a treatment based on an unscientific and untested “idea” was somewhat surprising. It is almost unbelievable that this “abortion reversal” nonsense is still a thing, but then every religious Republican attempt to deny women their equal rights is scientifically unproven and patently absurd. Whether it entails claims that abortion causes cancer, a single-celled zygote is a person, or a fetus feels pain before there is any neurological structure in place to feel anything, the anti-women’s choice movement is the epitome of deceitful.

It is not clear if Republican legislators truly believe the level of lunacy they are basing their anti-women’s religious legislation on, or if they want to believe the non-science supports their crusade to control women’s lives. But whatever their particular religious dysfunction, they never take into account the health and well-being of the woman. The so-called six-person APR “case study” never even considered how the “treatment” would affect the woman’s health, or what might happen to the fetus if it survives. It is something that a real scientific study would have explored extensively prior to beginning the study.

One can argue that without any documentation other than an anecdotal “study” void of any data, that so-called abortion reversal therapy is not even experimental in a scientific sense. It may seem to make biological sense to an ignoramus abortion opponent like Delgado and his personhood devotees, but it is nothing remotely resembling anything “scientific;” which explains why religious Republicans in three states are forcing doctors to inform patients about some idea.

It isn’t unexpected the religious right and Vatican defends these anti-women charlatans; they exist to control women. However, Republicans, and any idiotic Democrat, who supports misleading women using fear or fake “science” is beyond despicable – they are supporting religious extremism targeting American women. But by dog, because this is a religious patriarchy the religious Republicans and their anti-women evangelicals continually get a free pass; because they are using religion to control women.

Image: Eclectoblog

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

Trump’s Evangelical War on Women Goes Global

If not for the flood of news regarding guns and Trump’s Russian problem, there may have been more reporting on yet another in a long line of Trump’s attacks on women on behalf of the religious right.

This administration has been on a tear in its relentless assault on women’s reproductive and equal rights since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, and now it is obvious that a leaked White House memo last October outlining the escalation in the evangelical war in 2018 was not an aberration.

Instead of attempting to stealthily subvert women’s rights, the Trump administration is making it known globally that going forward, America does not regard women’s reproductive rights, or discrimination based on sex, gender, race and ethnicity as any kind of priority. Of course a couple of Americans are aware this evangelical-driven administration is engaged in a vicious war against women, the LGBTQ community and people of color, but it is stunning that the administration is making a global statement affirming to the world that Trump’s nasty evangelical agenda is official policy. Don’t believe it?

Last week current and former State Department officials say they were ordered to eliminate passages in its annual report on global human rights  that “traditionally discuss[es] women’s reproductive rights and discrimination.” It is a clear signal that Trump and his religious Republican cabal are serious about putting women in a place America’s religious patriarchs believe they belong – as second class citizens at the mercy of evangelicals.

It is also clear that Trump is giving a nod to other patriarchal nations that controlling women and subverting their human, equal, and reproductive rights is approved by America. It is a gross departure from America’s leadership on women’s rights under President Obama’s administration and what Trump and his acolytes insist is making America great again.

Politico reported that someone at the State Department, likely an aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ordered officials to omit any mention of women’s reproductive rights and discrimination on the basis of sex, race, and ethnicity in its annual human rights report to reflect America’s new global focus. Trump’s message is that America is not concerned with human rights for women, people of color, or the LGBTQ community, and that women’s reproductive rights are officially under an evangelical assault. The dirty pig did pledge to the radical anti-women’s movement that the White House was firmly behind the evangelical crusade while boasting of his religious assault on women’s right of self-determination so far during his brief tenure in a place he does not belong.

Apparently, the evangelicals driving Trump’s anti-women’s rights crusade are hoping other nation’s will follow the United States in attacking women’s rights and legalizing discrimination for religious bigots. It is also likely that someone at the State Department is aware that any American report mentioning women’s reproductive and equal rights will put the focus on the Trump administration’s violations.

In past annual reports there were extensive details on women’s reproductive rights, but Trump’s evangelicals believe reproductive rights are an abomination leading the administration to attack them with a vengeance. In fact, in the “soon-to-be released report,” a section that was previously titled “Reproductive Rights” has been changed to “Coercion in Population Control.”  That phrase is as bad as it sounds and frames family planning and women’s reproductive rights advocates as tyrannical monsters.

The immediate meaning and reason for the name change is to portray advocates of women’s reproductive rights are part of a plot to force contraception, sterilization, and abortion on the rest of humanity. The anti-reproductive rights movement claims the only solution to those governments that are “coercing women” to stop reproducing is to abandon “reproductive rights” and promote the only Vatican approved method of “birth control,” the high failure rate rhythm method.

According to one current official at the State Department, the directive is intended to “send a clear signal that women’s reproductive rights are not a priority for this administration, and that it’s not even a rights violation we must or should report on.” However, the “official” Trump State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said that completely stripping  entire passages about family planning, access to contraception and abortion, and another section dealing with discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex was to bring some  “clarity and focus” to America’s foreign policy agenda.

Ms. Nauert said the move had nothing to do with “downgrading coverage of LGBT or women’s issues” like Trump began immediately after his poorly attended inauguration. If the statistics were included in the annual report, an inordinate amount of space would have to be devoted to the Trump administration’s rampant and relentless religious attacks on women’s reproductive rights.

Thus far Trump’s evangelical war on women includes giving religious employers authority to withhold contraceptives from their employees according to their Vatican-inspired belief that any “artificial” means of birth control is abortion; probably as remuneration for the religious rights’ electoral support. As part of the payment, Trump’s Health and Human Services Department mission statement was rewritten to include “personhood” language denoting a single-cell organism (zygote) as a living person worthy of federal government support.

Trump’s evangelical Health, and Human Services have twice dealt women’s rights a serious setback and like the State Department action, it had everything to do with bringing “clarity and focus” that Trump’s war on women is driven by religion. In both cases, women are relegated to third-class status and religious extremists gained federal authority to discriminate against women with impunity.

In that leaked memo from October outlining the 2018 war on women tactics, although it did not mention the State Department’s action, it did promise that one of the first acts is to “gut all funding” for any evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs. Instead, that funding will be transferred to evangelicals to promote failed “abstinence only education” and “fertility awareness programs” as family planning. It is noteworthy that the so-called “fertility awareness program” is the only Vatican approved method of family planning because it is not artificial – it is the failed  “rhythm method.”

America’s leadership internationally in several areas has suffered the Trump administration and international organizations are well aware that equal and human rights are no exception. Now it is glaringly obvious that women’s reproductive rights, like equal rights, are not any kind of priority for America domestically or globally, and that should concern the rest of the civilized world. The only “clarity and focus” the State Department is projecting by omitting of any mention of women’s reproductive rights is that the domestic assault on women driven by the theocrats running America is going global.

Image: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

Alabama Senate Race Exposed America’s Extremism Plague

It has been interesting seeing the various commentaries about the stunning upset win in Alabama’s race for the Senate pitting a radical evangelical nut job against a former prosecutor and civil rights champion. Of course sane Americans, and some Republicans, likely breathed a sigh of relief that a deranged enemy of the United States Constitution will not get a taxpayer-funded trip to the Senate to lend his evangelical bona fides to “change Washington” into a theocracy. However, folks should hardly be celebrating much more than there are a few more decent Americans in Alabama than there are savage evangelical malcontents. The margin of victory informs that nearly half of Alabama’s voters are every bit as racist, religiously extreme, bigoted and un-American as the freak of nature they came close to sending to Washington.

The election results are not a commentary on the impending demise of extremism in Trump’s America as some have inferred. Believing otherwise is a very serious mistake and along the lines of thinking that Barack Obama’s first Presidential election victory in 2008 signaled an end of racism in America. The defeat of an evangelical hero like Roy Moore is going to incite the “fanatical faithful” to outrage like President Obama’s election incited the racists to come out of hiding and do their worst. Doug Jones’ victory is not going to do anything to curtail, much less stop, the raging religious extremists any more than President Obama’s wins signaled an end to racism.

Of course Mr. Jones victory is beyond “good news” for myriad reasons, but that good news is dependent on how Democrats maneuver in Trump’s America. Speaking of Trump, as other commenters have rightly noted, Doug Jones victory was as glaring a rebuke of Trump as it was a well-warranted slap in the face to his vile henchman Steve Bannon. It was also a temporary minor setback for the evangelical extremists who crawled out of their spiritual sewer with scriptural justifications to support a pervert pedophile; something they did in predictably large numbers that nearly propelled Moore to victory.

Remember, there were a significant number of Republican voters who “wrote in” a different candidate than Moore and those numbers were close to Mr. Jones’ margin of victory; that is really what should prevent Democrats from celebrating as if the nation has turned a corner on extremism. It hasn’t and the number of votes Moore received should sober up any victory-drunk Democrat because every one of those extremists who voted for Moore, like their cohorts nationwide, are not going away. If anything, they will regroup and come back with a vengeance as religious extremists are wont to do.

If America, and particularly Alabama, was not drowning in extremism, a piece of work like Roy Moore would have never been able to run as a viable candidate anywhere in the nation. Not only was Moore a viable candidate for Alabama Republicans, he garnered nearly half the votes in an election he would have lost by a huge margin in any “normal state.” Moore represents every extremist sect in America, and yet he still garnered the support of nearly half of Alabama voters because he is a racist, a bigot, an un-American, and a dangerous religious extremist.

Alabama extremists voted for Moore despite he was twice evicted from Alabama’s Supreme Court for rejecting the United States Constitution as the law of the land because it is not the Christian bible; almost half of Alabama voters wanted Moore to take that theocratic mindset to the Senate to “change Washington.

The same Republicans also voted for Moore despite his assertion that what the country needs is to “get rid of the Constitution’s Amendments after the Tenth” to eliminate many of the nation’s problems. In Moore’s mind, and apparently nearly half of Alabama voters, equal rights, women’s right to vote, abolition of slavery, non-white voting rights and the elimination of poll taxes pose a serious problem for America.  Even though Moore accepts the first Ten Amendments as “valid,” he concurs with former Alabama Senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the First Amendment’s “separation of church and state [clause] was never meant to separate god and government – this country was founded on god.”

Almost half of Alabama voters agree with Moore or they would never have supported sending him to “change Washington.” The evangelical extremists even went so far as claiming that it would be better to elect a pervert pedophile than a Democrat who supports a woman’s constitutional right to self-determination in making her own reproductive health choices. Without the unwavering evangelical extremist support, Moore would have never won the state’s primary or a second election to be Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court after being kicked off for being an evangelical extremist. That he came close to winning a Senate seat should give every American pause to reflect on the alarming number of Americans still supporting extremism.

There could hardly have been a more extreme candidate than Roy Moore and it is almost certain that any other slightly less extreme Republican would have cruised to victory; and that is not taking anything away from Doug Jones Herculean effort or his victory. Alabama is as dyed-in-the-wool Republican red as any state in the Union and without Moore’s extremist position on everything, it would have been an honest-to-dog miracle for any Democrat to win in Alabama. But Moore was, and is, the personification of extremism and that is what won him nearly half of the people’s vote; that is what is frightening because those evangelical extremists are not going away and they are nationwide.

Look, only demented evangelical fanatics and racists would support an un-American pervert like Roy Moore, and according to the voting numbers they make up about half the electorate in Alabama. Although it is true that a Democrat winning a Senate seat in Alabama, an uber-religious and traditionally extremely conservative state,  is phenomenal, it would be a giant mistake to believe the nation or Alabama has “turned the corner” on racism, bigotry and evangelical extremism because Moore lost a close election.

Remember, Roy Moore was as bad as a candidate as any fiction writer could concoct but he still  won half of the Alabama voters’ support; almost certainly on religious grounds. Although religious extremism was insufficient to defeat a Democrat in a deep red state, it should be a wake-up call for Democrats to start addressing what is one of greatest threats to this country and its Constitution; radical evangelical extremists. Those Alabama extremists came very close to sending one of their champions to the United States Senate to join a growing number GOP religious extremists with a view towards a theocracy. Roy Moore may be going away, but his radical religious base of support still exists and they infect the entire nation or Donald Trump would not be in the White House.

Senator-elect Doug Jones, and his brilliant campaign, deserve a world of credit for pulling out an unlikely victory; it was a victory for Alabama and a victory for America. However, any celebration should be tempered with the knowledge that the kind of racists, un-American, bigoted and religiously extreme voters who wanted Moore in the Senate are angry and laser-focused on revenge. Only an imbecile would think they are going away over the defeat of one of their own.

Virginia’s Chief Homophobe Defeated By Transgender Heavy Metal Singer

At a juncture in American history when the concept of good news seems fantastical, there was a bit of encouraging news upon waking Wednesday morning. Most of the bad news over the past several months was not necessarily that the Trump administration still exists, it has been the raging religious attacks on women, LGBTQ people, and non-Christians that Trump plays a pivotal role in executing.

One of the nation’s worst religious right bigots after Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, a nasty piece of work named Robert Marshall, expected to win another stint as a delegate to Virginia’s legislature so he could continue to intimidate and discriminate against women, the LGBTQ community, and anyone unwilling to toe the evangelical line. In a glorious win for the “good people” of Virginia, Marshall was not victorious. Instead, justice prevailed and he was soundly defeated by a Virginia resident who represents everything Marshall hates and has spent his political career tormenting – LGBTQ people.

Danica Roem is a former journalist and now the first openly transgender elected to a state legislature in America after she defeated “bigot Bob” Marshall.  She is also a singer in a “melodicheavy metal band that was almost certainly an extra irritant to Marshall’s “holier-than-thou” sensibilities.  Regardless what the defeat meant to Marshall, Ms. Roem’s victory was historic as a transgender woman; defeating a raging religious right homophobe and “real conservative” was “extra sweet.”

As an aside, another transgender won a first-ever city council seat in Minneapolis; it informs that Americans are rejecting bigotry driven by religion and actually voting for a candidate based on their policies and qualifications, not on who they hate according to their religion.  Andrea Johnson was the “first ever” African American transgender woman to win an election in America.

Roem likely captured some national attention not so much because she is the first state-level transgender to win an election, but because she defeated an avowed malcontent Catholic that wears his religious bigotry proudly and refers to himself as “chief homophobe.”  Obviously in the 21st Century Virginia voters were no longer impressed that their representative was a religious bigot.

Marshall is so much more than just a nasty bigot; he is as religiously vicious an anti-women’s choice Catholic as the author of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. Marshall is one of those personhood freaks that, besides claiming contraceptives are abortion and a mortal sin, invents fantasy science as a means to control women. A few years ago he confidently asserted that abortion causes birth defects in subsequent pregnancies. He also made an attempt at fear-mongering and warned that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would reinstate the draft and force the unwilling to serve.

He preached  that “X-rated videos were a public health hazard” and authored an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. His pride and joy, however, and a tool he should not have used in the campaign, was his legislation banning transgender people from using the correct restroom. Although his bill perished in committee, he embraced the “chief homophobe” role throughout the campaign as a badge of honor.

Marshall spent time during the campaign claiming that Ms. Roem’s identity was “against the laws of nature and nature’s god.” To belabor the point, Marshall always referred to “Ms. Roem” using a male pronoun to prove to voters that he’s right with “nature’s god.”  Marshall refused to debate Roem and instead resorted to typical Republican mudslinging and ugliness over Ms. Roem’s performance in an old music video. Apparently if X-rated videos are a “public health hazard,” then a heavy metal music video Ms. Roem sang in was  “lewd” according to Marshall.

Marshall and his supporters also produced disgusting hate campaign adsdisparaging Ms. Roem’s transgender identity.” It’s a tactic that likely backfired after the level of hate Virginians recently witnessed in Charlottesville.

In response to the attacks on her gender, Ms. Roem explained why Marshall had to resort to the only thing he knows; hate and bigotry borne of religion. She said: “This is what happens when he can’t defeat me [on] the core quality-of-life issues facing the people of the 13th District . . .”

 As it turns out, Ms. Roem had no difficulty convincing voters that Marshall is so consumed with hate inspired by his devotion to “nature’s god” that he had been woefully negligent to the needs of his constituents and their concerns about roads, education, equality and jobs.

After her victory, Ms. Roem said:

Discrimination is a disqualifier This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”

In Ms. Roem’s case, the voters supporter her because she pledged to work towards alleviating their concerns over jobs, education and transportation. Her victory was a win for the LGBTQ community for sure, but it is also a telling sign that campaigning on hate, although the only thing Marshall knows, is not what voters are interested in.

Roem’s victory is also a signal that the evangelical hate groups are not representative of the entire population. It is true they run the government, something Trump has allowed with his blessings, but the people are growing weary of their tax dollars going to torture other Americans because of whom they love, what gender they identity with, or whether a woman chooses to give birth or not. It is an encouraging sign that despite the vocal minority making up the Republicans’ base, all Americans are not hateful bigots; fortunately Virginia residents will not have to put up with the self-proclaimed “chief homophobe” any longer.

Bob Marshall is not a nice man and the level of hate he dished out daily informs that he is not any kind of “real Christian.” This author has had a personal interest in seeing Marshall thrown out of office and the public’s consciousness for eight years. Marshall took exception to an op-Ed newspaper column condemning his attacks on gays and women and made a written response that was very personal and unrelated to the theme of the admittedly incendiary hit piece. That it was a transgender woman who defeated the dirty bigot is sweet justice indeed.

It is a travesty that the 13th District voters gave Marshall 26 years in the legislature to spread hate and bigotry, but it is heartening to learn that the voters finally became decent citizens and rejected his hate. It cannot be overstated that for the LGBTQ community, beleaguered women in Virginia, and decent Americans everywhere there is justice that a person representing everything Marshall hates was the candidate to send him packing. Maybe there is hope for America after all.

Image: Patheos

God and Prayers Will Not Prevent More Gun Massacres

Most Americans are familiar with the term talk is cheap, and after another regular occurrence in America, they should be aware that Republicans talking about prayer isn’t just cheap, it’s utterly worthless; and that is precisely what it is meant to be.

It was interesting to see, yet again, that after the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Texas, a comedienne was raked over the coals for “talking politics” in the aftermath of a massacre. Apparently, Chelsea Handler should have followed Republicans’ lead and talked about prayer as if it is going to have any impact on stopping these uniquely American events. After several mass shootings every year and every Republican alive offering prayers for the victims, one can say without hesitation that prayers are not and will not stop senseless gun massacres; only politics will. Even Republicans’ base comprehends that flagrant truth.

Ms. Handler was assailed for writing:

Innocent people go to church on Sunday to honor their God, and while doing so, get shot and killed. What country? America. Why? Republicans.”

Like plenty of other Americans, this wasn’t Ms. Handler’s first attack on Republicans over their rejection of gun safety measures, but to be criticized for calling out the real source of the problem is, in part, why these senseless massacres will continue unabated and result in more calls for “praying” from Republicans who are complicit in the proliferation of guns in the population. The gist of the criticism Handler received is as common as American mass shootings:

The bodies aren’t even cold yet and you are politicizing them. You really have a dark heart.”

That particular comment had to have come from a Republican and likely a gun-toting evangelical to boot. Handler wasn’t politicizing the “cold bodies;” she was rightly politicizing the massacre and putting the onus for the event on the politicians responsible – NRA-funded Republicans. They are the first to offer “prayers for the victims” because that is all they will do to protect the NRA. They bear the responsibility for creating a society that allows a former bible studies teacher to don “combat gear” and acquire an assault rifle in what will never be a civilized society as long as Republicans exist to serve the NRA.

What Ms. Handler knows, like even half-sane Americans, is that only Republicans can prevent more “cold bodies” as well as more worthless offerings of “prayers for the victims” that serve no purpose whatsoever. Let’s face it, if “prayers for the victims” were ever going to solve the regular gun massacres in America, the last mass shooting would have been in Sandy Hook; there were nationwide prayers, and calls for prayers for the victims after 20 children and six adults were slaughtered by a white guy with an assault weapon, but those prayers didn’t prevent any more. And, one adds that “praying for the victims” after they are slaughtered is not going to bring them back to their families.

Look you phony Christians, your religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ, specifically commanded you to go in your house, in a closet, and pray in private. For dog’s sake, if Jesus Christ condemned fake Christians for praying in public to put on a “showy display,” then he certainly condemns going on television or releasing “official” statements or issuing “Tweets” as a “showy display” of your fake “prayers for the victims.” The only thing Republicans are praying for, especially after another gun massacre, is a continued flow of campaign money from the National Rifle Association for not taking a political stance to protect the people they claim to be praying for.

It is noteworthy to mention, while “the bodies are barely cold,” that there is a completely different response from Trump and his Republican facilitators when a terror attack is committed by a non-white suspect. Three white guys within a month commit a mass shooting and it’s all about “praying for the victims.” And yet one Muslim kills several pedestrians in New York and there are immediate calls for harsh action to prevent any more senseless killings.

There have been no Republican calls for action on gun violence or the proliferation of assault weapons in the population no matter how many victims or how many times they issue “calls for prayer for the victims” to “stop the evil.” Curiously, there were even calls for more religion in America after Las Vegas becauseAmerica needs god, not gun control;” as if the innocent Texas victims were not in “their god’s house” sincerely “praying to their god” when they were killed with an assault rifle.

America does need gun control and Americans have to start politicizing the bodies ad nauseam; and they damn sure need to make it painful. Because several times a year Republicans call for and offer prayers for the victims of gun violence and nothing changes because the NRA doesn’t want it to. Don’t believe it?

Immediately after the Sutherland Springs massacre Texas attorney general Ken Paxton called for more people to buy and carry guns to church and for more liberal open carry laws. It is noteworthy that in 2014 the NRA proudly announced that its 5-million nationwide members were endorsing Ken Paxton in his campaign to be Texas’ attorney general.  It should be no surprise that Paxton was quick to offer his “prayers for the victims” just prior to calling for more guns in church and looser open carry laws.

Texas’ governor also got in on the “god and prayers” for the victims as if that is going to prevent more mass shootings. Gregg Abbott said what Texans need is more god.

Texans were asking for god’s comfort, for god’s guidance, and for god’s healing for all those who suffered.”

Abbott, like his NRA-funded attorney general just called for a temporary “no-cost license to carry” and in June signed every pro-NRA gun legislation he could get his hands on. And like Ken Paxton, Abbott garnered a coveted NRA endorsement during his campaign for governor that included “all 5-million nationwide NRA members” support to govern Texas and promote more firearms in the population; including assault weapons like the one that slaughtered 26 innocent Texans worshipping and praying to their god for comfort, guidance and healing. If Abbott cared about his constituents, he would stand up to the NRA instead of sitting there signing legislation putting more guns on Texas’ streets.

Exactly as happened after Sandy Hook, Orlando, Charleston, Las Vegas, and countless other mass shootings, Republicans will spend a day or two criticizing what they call  “politicizing the tragedy” even as they continue to offer meaningless “prayers for the victims” and more calls for “god.” Even though god or prayers have proven impotent to stop these preventable massacres, the only people who can help stop the madness continue praying and saying “more god.”

There will be more calls for some sane gun safety measures that an overwhelming majority of Americans ardently support, and the NRA will watch its industry sell more guns, likely more assault rifles. And those victims’ families will grieve and mourn the senseless gun violence that claimed their loved ones without wondering why their god is not listening to all the Republicans’ prayers. The insanity of this abominable and regular situation is that as absurd as it seems, every one of the victims’ families will likely rush to the ballot box to vote for Republicans, the NRA and more of their useless prayers.

Vatican Edict In Trump’s HHS Portends Extreme Danger for Women

When the right-wing screams they want to take their country back to a dark era when women were relegated to third class status, they likely didn’t count on going back to the 14th Century. That was smack in the middle of the seriously dark era when the Catholic Church virtually ruled the world by controlling nearly all of western civilization by imposing its theocratic will on leaders of most nations.

Now, the Catholic Church is influencing America’s leaders according to an abominable three words in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) draft mission statement. Although it defies science, the Christian bible, the Catholic and evangelical right’s almighty god and just plain common sense, Trump’s evangelical cabal inserted a purely religious edict as government policy to sate the religious right and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They are the two extremely dangerous groups that vehemently oppose a woman’s right to make any decisions about their reproductive health and lives. This is really that serious and a sign of terrible imposition of religion by government fiat.

Some Americans know there was a Republican war on women but it was really always “religious” war on women. Now that war is being conducted by Trump’s federal theocrats who inserted a Vatican phrase into the HHS mission statement lifted right out of the 1968 Papal encyclical on life –  Humanae Vitae subtitled “On the Regulation of Birth.”

During previous administrations, the HHS mission statement was:

HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life.”

 Now, with an administration hewing close to the standard Catholic discriminatory religious orthodoxy on women’s health and personal life decisions, the HHS mission statement says:

HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.”

Those three words, “beginning at conception,” are the sole basis for the Vatican’s unholy and unscriptural opposition to “any form of ‘unnatural’ or ‘artificial’ birth control.” It is noteworthy that the only form of ‘natural’ birth control that literally guarantees “birth control” is celibacy.

Some Americans are aware that under the Affordable Care Act birth control was required to be covered with no co-pay as a preventive health service for women and their families. It was an attempt to correct the bias against women in the insurance industry as well as provide Americans with valuable assistance in family planning. That “assistance” was too much for Republicans indebted to the radical evangelical cult that exists to control and dominate women. So Trump jumped at chance to repay the patriarchs in the religious right and scrapped the contraception mandate in a blatant religious attack on American women.

The new theocratic ruling will impact the millions of women who now receive contraceptives at no cost under the “former” provision and it was a ruling the evangelical fanatics and USCCB wanted to eliminate. The idea of women getting or using contraceptives at all is an abomination to the Vatican, so in conjunction with the religious right they tasked Republicans to oppose the mandate and Trump made it go away.

The new rules allow all manner of employers, including nonprofits, private companies, and publicly traded corporations to join radical evangelicals like Hobby Lobby’s owners and ban contraceptives in health insurance plans based on a “sincerely held religious or moral objection;” an objection founded on the Vatican’s 1968 “encyclical on life.”

Tragically, now that the evangelical extremist sect got the basis for the Vatican’s edict on life inserted into the federal Health Department’s mission statement, the stage is set for the personhood movement to abolish, not just restrict,  any form of ”unnatural or artificial birth control,” fertility treatments, abortion, or anything to do with stem cell research; all forbidden in the 1968 Roman Catholic encyclical on life and founded on the religious fantasy that “life begins at conception.”

The idea that life begins at conception is a Catholic construct with absolutely no scriptural, biological, or medical science basis whatsoever. In fact it contradicts what the Christian bible’s almighty god said several times about when life begins. As a reminder, according to the “immutable and unerring word of god” of the Christian bible; there is no life, or “living being,” until a fetus leaves the womb and draws “the breath of life.” No zygote, embryo or fetus can possible draw “the breath of life;” but that inconvenient truth doesn’t fit the Vatican, and now bastardized American Christians, plan to control women’s reproductive lives.

Of course the evangelical fanatics and Vatican control freaks know exactly what their god said regarding living beings, but they cannot control women’s reproductive health choices unless a single-celled zygote is a person; that is exactly what the Catholic ‘personhood’ movement claims. Now the United States federal government claims it as official policy.

It was that “life begins at conception” absurdity that Hobby Lobby used to convince the conservatives on the Supreme Court that birth control pills are “abortifacients.” For the uninformed, an abortifacient is a drug used to induce an abortion or cause a miscarriage after a sperm cell fertilizes an ovum; the definition of “ the moment of conception.”

Hobby Lobby, following the Vatican’s encyclical on life, claimed that using birth control prevents conception and is therefore abortion. Of course the conservatives on the High Court conceded that using contraceptives is not “an abortion,” but because it was contrary to Hobby Lobby owners’ “sincerely held religious or moral objections,” the Court acquiesced to the Vatican edict and ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor.

It is likely that many Americans, including religious Americans and women, have no concept of the danger inherent in an extremist religious edict such as “life begins at conception;” it will have a deleterious impact on women and men. Remember, according to the Vatican edict, any unnatural form of birth control is strictly verboten on pain of everlasting torment in Hellfire; because birth control prevents “conception” the clergy claims is tantamount to murder. That means birth control pills, IUDs, diaphragms, tubal ligations, hysterectomies, vasectomies, condoms and any other “unnatural or artificial” form of birth control are abortion; because they all prevent “conception.”

Now that America is in the clutches of a cabal of radical religious extremists, every nightmarish scenario possible is just another executive order away from becoming reality. It is worth remembering that the religious right was not always opposed to abortion or contraception. They embraced the issue as their own after they lost the right to impose school segregation in the South on counsel and advice from the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB). The religious right needed an emotional cause célèbre to garner electoral support for Republicans and the USCCB gave them one straight from the Vatican – “life begins at conception.”

To be perfectly clear, and head off criticism, this is not condemning Catholics any more than it is condemning Christians; just those extremists, organizations, and clergy forcing their dangerous pseudo religious dogmata on all Americans. It is almost certain that most Catholics and Christians would be appalled if they understood the danger of theocratic edicts like “life begins at conception” as a federal government policy.

As an aside, it is odd that a very high percentage of Catholic women have used birth control and it leads one to wonder if making it harder to acquire contraception in America is driving this bizarre fantasy that life begins at conception. According to the Catholic god’s immutable and unerring word, life begins when a fetus exits the womb and draws “the breath of life.”

The only thing that begins at conception is a diploid cell (zygote) resulting from the fusion of two haploid gametes; a sperm and an ovum. It is a basic biological fact that the Vatican, evangelical fanatics and Republicans refuse to grasp even though their god explained it so a three-month-old Rottweiler could understand it. Now America is in the grip of these religious maniacs, and it appears women are in the grip of the Vatican’s 1968 Humanae Vitae; a document well-suited for the 14h Century the Trump administration and evangelical right are imposing in 21st Century America.

Image: CNS/Bob Roller

Strip Tax Exemption From Churches – Not the N.F.L.

Apparently the petulant brat in the White House is butt-hurt that he has been unable to bully the National Football League’s team owners in his fabricated outrage over athletes exercising their constitutional rights. To further rile up his base, Trump came up with some “fake news” that brings up a point of contention, and a cost of hundreds-of-millions of dollars, among many American taxpayers; churches’ tax exempt status.

After scheduling a propaganda plot with his evangelical buddy Mike Pence, Trump took to Twitter to ramp up his base’s animosity toward the N.F.L. to portray the wildly popular sports league as unpatriotic “takers.”

Trump said Congress should eliminate a law that allowed the N.F.L. central office to avoid paying taxes as a nonprofit entity. It is important to note that “only the central office” was tax exempt, like every church in America has been for far too long. The teams, players, and team owners all pay taxes and Trump knows it.

Another bit of news Trump is aware of is that the N.F.L. “voluntarilygave up its tax exemption in 2015; there is nothing Congress can do to eliminate the N.F.L.’s tax exemption they no longer have. Trump is guilty of fabricating “fake news” that he projects on every news outlet on Earth that fails to praise him as a Republican demigod.

It is important to note that the N.F.L. central office’s tax exempt status didn’t bother Trump when he was trying, and failing, to buy an N.F.L. team in 2014. As an aside, many pundits assert that Trump’s current attacks on the league are, besides a distraction from his glaring incompetence, retribution because the league didn’t accept his bid to buy the Buffalo Bills because it was considerably lower than billionaire Terry Pegula’s.

On the only media outlet that Trump has a semblance of control over, his Twitter account, he tweeted:

Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country?” Change tax law!

Ignoring the fact that the N.F.L. is not getting any “massive tax breaks,” there is more “fake news” from Trump that the 32 teams that make up the “league” are disrespecting “our anthem, flag and country.” Neither the “league” nor any one of the 32 teams are disrespecting a song, a flag or America any more than the players exercising their First Amendment rights are. The players are protesting racial injustice and they are paying taxes; something no-one knows if Trump is doing because he is too corrupt to release his tax returns. Everyone knows churches are not paying taxes.

One would support eliminating the N.F.L. central office’s tax exempt status if it still existed on one condition; first strip the tax exempt status from every church in America and do it with extreme prejudice.

According to the last time an organization “estimated” how much church tax exemption is costing American tax payers, that free welfare amounted to about $8.5 billion annually in 2013.  It is noteworthy that the $8.5 billion does not include tens-of-millions in “faith based” initiative money or the double-dipping members of the clergy enjoy on what little they claim on their personal income tax returns. Added in those number are religious organizations exemption from paying sales tax, property tax, federal, state, and local income tax, or investment taxes.

Trump’s claim the N.F.L. Is disrespecting “our country” applies “bigly” to evangelical and Catholic Church organizations. According to their namesake Jesus Christ, and  “their” almighty god’s immutable words, Christians are commanded to pay taxes as well as obey the government on pain of everlasting damnation in eternal Hellfire.

Instead, primarily evangelicals and Catholics regularly violate federal and state laws they claim don’t comport with their “religious beliefs;” even though those “deeply held beliefs” are not part nor parcel of either faith. Those groups also disrespect the United States Constitution by denying other Americans their constitutional equal rights or freedom from religious imposition. It is a monumental form of “disrespect” to other Americans and the Constitution to violate their equal rights and still take the “violated people’s” tax dollars in the form of a tax exemption.

There are many people who have asked for years; “Why are churches getting massive tax breaks while disrespecting the Constitution, other Americans’ freedoms and the secular nation the Founding Fathers provided? Change tax law!”

Trump doesn’t come up with great ideas often. For dog’s sake, he never comes up with even good ideas until now. It is an excellent idea, and time, to “change tax law.” However,  before even considering the N.F.L.’s non-existent tax issue, it is damned high time for Congress to strip tax exemption from every church in the land and save taxpayers what is certainly well over $100 billion annually.

It is possible that for some Americans churches provide a service of sorts, but they don’t deserve tax exemption for doing what their “holy books” command. School teachers, firefighters, military personnel, police officers, librarians, dog catchers and many, many other Americans pay taxes and they all actually provide crucial services to all Americans. For Trump to demand the N.F.L. lose a tax exemption it  forfeited voluntarily two years ago while not focusing on the unwarranted, and wildly expensive, church tax exemption is not only hypocritical, it is further proof that Trump is a punk-ass hypocrite looking for a reason to rile up his base and distract America from his criminal enterprise in the White House.

 

DOJ Issues Religious License To Discriminate Against Women and Gays

The corrupt and radical religious cesspool known as the Trump-Pence administration ushered America one step closer to an extremist evangelical theocracy and assaulted the secular U.S. Constitution and federal laws in the process on Friday. The good news for evangelical fascists panting to punish Americans who fail to hew to the religious right’s nasty worldview came courtesy of Trump’s racist attorney general, Jeff “sermonizer” Sessions.

As a man who claims the religious “separation clause” in the U.S. Constitution’s is patently unconstitutional and unhistorical, Sessions laid down the evangelical law that going forward, no government employee, agency, or contractor has to adhere to anti-discrimination laws or the 14th Amendment if they claim doing so offends their religious beliefs.

This ultimate “license to discriminate” has been pushed in red religious Republican states since 2010, but prior to the last election there was a firewall at the federal level protecting equal rights. And no, the firewall was not the U.S. Constitution or federal anti-discrimination laws; they still exist but religious Republicans ignore them. The firewall was an administration that hewed closely to the Constitution replete with a Justice Department defending all Americans’ right to protections outlined in the 14th Amendment. It should be obvious by now that the Trump administration players have as much respect for the Constitution as they do veracity, or tolerance for Americans unwilling to subject themselves to radical evangelicals’ nasty form of “Christianity.”

According to the Trump administration’s latest theocratic edict, all it takes is a claim of “violating religious freedom” to “override any anti-discrimination protection for LGBT people, women, and many, many other Americans.” In fact, as the Associated Press noted:

The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty are calling them a legal powder-keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.”

The reality is that with a theocratic administration, Justice Department, Congress and Supreme Court, those “wide-ranging” lawsuits will be shut down with extreme prejudice. The DOJ under Sessions and Trump has already inserted itself into employment lawsuits on behalf of radical evangelicals who claim their religious liberty makes them immune to the Constitution’s equal rights provisions, employment laws, and anti-discrimination laws.

The humanitarian folks over at LGBT Weekly performed a preliminary analysis of this newest Trump-Pence theocratic assault on Americans and although they focused on the LGBTQ community and women, every demographic and American citizen are at risk. After all, the concept behind an overarching evangelical “license to discriminate” is providing radicalized Christians uncontested federal government authority to punish any American they believe violates their “religious freedom.”

Just a sampling of the horrors of the latest evangelical edict may provide a preview of what American citizens can expect with a federally-enforced “license to discriminate” declaration from Trump’s justice department. For example:

A Social Security Administration employee could refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse. Government contractors will no longer be legally bound to  provide emergency services to unmarried women or members of the LGBT community because the risk of losing federal, state or city contracts no longer exists.

Organizations that receive federal tax dollars, like every church in America, that was at one time prohibited from demanding that all of their employees adhere to the tenets of the organization’s religion could now legally discriminate against LGBTQ, single women, and the non-religious by not providing employment benefits or employment.

Any agency, including churches and tax-exempt non-profits that receive federal aid in any form, and even those organizations’ individual staff members could refuse services for LGBTQ children in crisis. And they now have something they have fought tooth and nail to see implemented; unilateral authority stop  “placing adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple;” or non-Christians and people of color if they claim doing so offends their religious sensibilities.

Women will face as much discrimination as LGBTQ people and that is part and parcel of the evangelical edict. The religious right Republicans have attempted to pass legislation forcing women to reveal if they use contraception, and organizations that receive federal funding have, in fact, attempted to require women, not men, to sign employment documents pledging to adhere to the organization’s owners religious standards on pain of employment termination.

This new theocratic edict will affect more than just “federal” agencies and contractors. There are very, very few state and local entities serving the public that do not receive federal funds whether they are public utilities,  public schools, police and fire departments, churches, hospitals and clinics, and emergency service providers. And it is noteworthy that this theocratic expansion of “conscience laws” now has the full weight and authority of the federal government based on religion. This is the new “religious liberty” radical evangelicals have lusted for and if any American thinks they are immune because they aren’t gay, aren’t women, or aren’t people of color, they are phenomenally stupid.

Of course the Trump administration’s latest theocratic edict elicited outrage from advocates for equal rights, but it is probably far too little far too late.

The president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) commented thus:

Today’s guidance by Jeff Sessions proves this [theocratic] Administration will do anything possible to categorize LGBTQ Americans as second-class citizens who are not equal under the law. Freedom of religion does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate. Nothing could be more un-American and unholy than using religion to justify harm and discrimination to others.”

The president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Chad Griffin said:

Today the Trump-Pence administration launched an all-out assault on LGBTQ people, women, and other minority communities by unleashing a sweeping license to discriminate. This blatant attempt to further Donald Trump’s cynical and hateful [theocratic] agenda will enable systematic, government-wide discrimination that will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people and their families. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have proven they will stop at nothing to target the LGBTQ community and drag our nation backwards.

It is noteworthy to remind the naysayers that religious freedom in 21st Century America is the freedom to impose the radical evangelical worldview on all Americans and punish those unwilling to comply with the bastardized version of Christianity. And yes, it is bastardized because the religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ, preached against everything the religious right stands for and promotes.

This latest theocratic assault on America and its Constitution will affect more than just the LGBTQ community and women; although they will bear the brunt of the attacks first. Like previous state-level “license to discriminate laws,” anyone remotely connected to an organization or agency receiving federal taxpayer dollars, can refuse to provide a service or assistance to anyone they claim violates their deeply held religious beliefs, even if they aren’t religious or affiliated with a religion. Bigotry is now a religious faith in America so everyone is a target.

This is not, as was once apt to say, ‘the way theocratic tyranny begins.” Theocracy is here in 2017 in the form of a federally-enacted “license to discriminate” and is not simply an invitation to discriminate, it is a signal to the extremist evangelical right that their “religious freedom” now includes federal protection to flout the equal rights of all Americans and the U.S. Constitution.

Tragically, with radical evangelical extremists running all three branches of the federal government, no American is safe. And there is no longer any freedom from imposition of religion by government fiat; something the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers thought was so important they included it in the First Amendment.

Image: Gage Skidmore