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

Court Rules Against Kentucky’s Religious Abortion Law “With Prejudice”

As expected, women in Donald Trump’s America have already suffered assault after assault to their rights. There has been no good news for women since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration and it is likely there won’t be at the national level until the “pussy-grabbing” misogynist is out of the White House and Republicans lose control of both houses of Congress. However, there was a sliver of good news late this week at the state level when an evangelical extremist governor suffered a blow from a federal judge in Kentucky.

In the ruling handed down in an opinion that only required one page, Federal Judge David Hale told Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin that his cherished anti-woman law violated the Constitution. What that means for Kentucky women, and their healthcare providers is that they will no longer be forced into undergoing an ultrasound prior to terminating a pregnancy.

The law, H.B. 2, which was enacted in January, required doctors to perform an ultrasound and attempt to show an image of the fetus and play audio of its heartbeat to a pregnant woman before performing an abortion. Instead of being truthful and admitting that the barbaric law was the work of radical evangelical extremists, upon signing it Bevin hailed the law as “protect[ing] our most vulnerable, guaranteeing important freedoms for workers and setting our Commonwealth on a course for unparalleled opportunity and prosperity.”

It’s unclear exactly how forcing physicians to perform an ultrasound to demean the woman “guaranteed freedoms for workers” when it forced doctors to perform an unnecessary procedure, or set Kentucky “on a course for unparalleled opportunity and prosperity.” But it sounds more reasonable than Bevin explaining the real reason for the law; to control women, deny them their constitutional rights, and dictate to doctors how to practice medicine according to radical evangelical extremists.

Bevin was being honest when he saidIt is an honor for me to sign into law these historic pieces of legislation” because his evangelical bent informs his intent, and honor, to control women’s reproductive lives and force doctors to do the bidding of the radical evangelical extremists running Kentucky.

The Federal Judge’s ruling is just months after Bevin attempted to shutter EMW Women’s Surgical Center on “his claim” it didn’t meet state health requirements.  A lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the woman’s clinic and said:

If EMW is forced to close its doors, there will be no licensed abortion facility in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky women would be left without access to a critical and constitutionally protected medical procedure.

Of course that was Bevin’s, and the Kentucky legislature’s, intent and it inspired the Judge to issue a tersely worded one-page decision slapping the evangelicals down like they deserved. The key part of the very short ruling said:

The defendants (Bevin et al) “are permanently enjoined from enforcing H.B. 2 by civil action, criminal proceeding … or any other means of penalizing any person for failure to comply with H.B. 2 by by civil actions criminal proceeding, administrative action or proceeding, or any other means; and applying, imposing, or requiring compliance with, implementing, or carrying out in any way any part of H.B. 2. This action is DISMISSED with prejudice and STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.” (Judge’s bold and caps)

In a statement the ACLU said the ruling was a “vindication of the rights of Kentuckians and their physicians.” A senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, Alexa Kolbi-Molinas also said in the statement:

We are pleased that Kentuckians will no longer be subjected to this demeaning and degrading invasion into their personal health care decisions. This ruling puts us one step closer to getting Kentucky politicians out of the exam room.”

If Ms. Kolbi-Molinas were more forthcoming and not terrified of butt-hurting the evangelical extremists behind H.B. 2, she would have said the ruling puts “us one step closer to getting Kentucky evangelical extremists out of women’s vaginas.” But she made her point. As anyone with a pulse comprehends,  although it was Kentucky’s Republicans “in the exam room” and physicians’ medical practices, they were driven by evangelical interlopers to impose their bastardized religion on women and their medical providers.

It is true that this victory is noteworthy, but Kentucky is just one of the many Republican-controlled states on a tear to criminalize a legal medical procedure on religious grounds. Kentucky’s other attack on women is a ban on abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the lawsuit only focused on “forcing doctors to perform ultrasounds” and not the 20-week ban. The evangelicals running the House of Representatives are set to vote next week on a federal version of H.B. 2 and never one to pass up an opportunity to punish women, Trump pledged to sign that 20-week abortion ban. It is unclear if the federal attack on women’s rights will advance past the Senate, but this Federal Court ruling may inform religious Republican senators that passing laws targeting a legal medical procedure is unconstitutional.

As this column has complained about relentlessly, neither the Federal Judge nor the ACLU ever mentioned that these and other attacks on women’s reproductive rights are founded solely on a genuinely bizarre version of Christianity championed by the radical evangelical personhood movement, and the Vatican. It certainly leads one to believe there is a federal law or article in the Constitution prohibiting anyone from uttering an unkind or accusatory word against a specific religion. Conservatives have no issue defaming other religions.

Despite spending no small amount of time studying the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Code, this author can find no state or federal law, or statute, or article in the Constitution banning any American from uttering an untoward comment about religion. Kentucky’s H.B. 2, like the House’s ridiculous fetal pain legislation, is founded on an absurd religious belief and according to the First Amendment, religious beliefs cannot be legislated into law. It’s damned high time women’s advocacy groups and Democrats, and Federal judges acknowledge that it is patently unconstitutional to legislate the establishment of religion; particularly legislating religion to punishing non-compliant women.

Image: LeoWeekly

Military Chaplain Warns That Serving the Constitution Is Serving Satan

he evidence of the trickle-down effect of President Donald Trump’s relationship with the far fringes of the Christian Right is blatant and rampant, and now it is being exposed in the U.S. Military. Many Americans are unaware of the myriad times Trump has issued executive orders explicitly advancing the prejudices, hate and bigotry of the “far fringes” of the one of his last remaining support groups: the evangelical right. However, they have not gone unnoticed by an Air Force chaplain who is preaching that service members’ obedience to the U.S. Constitution over their Christian faith is serving Satan.

An article in Newsweek elucidated the ‘trickle-down effect” of Trump’s pandering to the religious right in reporting the practices of a United States Air Force chaplain at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The chaplain who ministers to “thousands of men and women” at the Air Force base is blatantly asserting in an essay that “Christians in the Armed Forces serve Satan,” and are “grossly in error” for supporting other service members’ Constitutional right to practice other faiths. The chaplain, Captain Sonny Hernandez viciously criticized Christians in the service who “rely on the U.S. Constitution and not Christ.”

Hernandez posted an article on BarbWire and wrote:

Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, which means they have no accountability for their souls.  This is why so many professing Christian service members will say: We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.

 Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.”

Captain Hernandez is wrong on many levels, religious fanatics typically are, but he definitely knows exactly why “Christian” service members support the rights of other faiths and the U.S. Constitution. Like Captain Hernandez had to do, every member of the American Armed Services swears an oath, to the Christian god no less, to support and defend the Constitution.

“I , _____ , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.’’

It is noteworthy that nowhere in that oath, or the Constitution, is there any reference to Christ, Christianity or swearing “true faith and allegiance” to religion whatsoever. Bear in mind that chaplain Hernandez swore the “so help me god” oath to support and defend the Constitution, and yet he is actively preaching to his charges that doing so is “grossly in error.” Hernandez’ actions have not gone unnoticed and they have elicited “many complaints” from service members according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

MRFF reported earlier in the year that the number of complaints it has received from servicemen and -women in the Army, Air Force, Marines and other branches has doubled since Trump’s election. Service members are reticent, no they are terrified, of lodging complaints with their superiors or the Department of Defense for fear of retaliation at the hands of firmly ensconced high-ranking evangelical fundamentalists in the military.

After fielding “multiple complaints” from service members specifically about Hernandez, MRFF finally filed an official complaint with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) inspector general in April urging the powers that be to investigate Hernandez. After writing the essay in BarbWire, MRFF filed a new complaint this week. As of Friday past, Newsweek reports that neither the Air Force base where Hernandez works nor the DoD’s inspector general has responded to requests for comment or to MRFF’s complaints.

According to MRFF’s most recent complaint, Hernandez’ article “blatantly and indisputably advocates the subordinating of the U.S. Constitution to his personal Christian ideology and violated his Oath of Office as a commissioned officer, as well as Title 18, U.S. Code § 2387.”

That section of the U.S. Code deals with “criminal prohibitions against counseling or urging insubordination, disloyalty, or ‘refusal of duty’ to other military members.” There is little doubt Hernandez has violated his own “so help me god” oath, as well as Title 18, U.S. Code § 2387, but there is little to no chance in proverbial Hell that the Defense Department will take action against a Christian chaplain for fear of inciting Trump’s wrath for “persecuting Christians.”

The founder of MRFF, Michael Weinstein, is a retired Air Force officer that directed blame for Hernandez’ public call to subordinate the Constitution to Christianity at Trump and his intent to always do the bidding of the fanatical evangelical right. Mr. Weinstein said:

America’s military members look to the president for direction and inspiration. Trump’s statements and actions have fully endorsed and validated this unbridled tidal wave of fundamentalist Christian persecution, which is now more inextricably intertwined into the very fabric of our Department of Defense than ever before.”

It is noteworthy that fundamentalist Christianity was already “inextricably intertwined” in the upper echelons of the military long before Trump; and it was heartily encouraged by the George W. Bush administration. The issue became much worse since Trump occupied the White House.

In May, for example, MRFF reported that with the advent of Trump as commander in chief, the organization experienced “a massive influx of new military and civilian personnel complaints of religion-based prejudice and bigotry, most of them coming from non-fundamentalist Christians being persecuted by their military superiors for not being ‘Christian enough.’”

As reported by MRFF, and well-acknowledged by members of the Armed Services, “the U.S. military has long been seeded with radical Christian fundamentalists,” sometimes called Christian Dominionists, who believe “Warrior Jesus” supports their fight against Islam. Like Trump’s choice for Education Secretary, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, the “Dominionists” fervently believe their task is establishing a “Kingdom of God” on Earth, starting with the United States. Apparently establishing that kingdom in America is predicated on establishing a fundamentalist military flush with “onward Christian soldiers” according to the Wright-Patterson chaplain.

Americans should be horrified that the military has been infiltrated by fanatical evangelicals who now have a champion in the White House. The idea of soldiers being preached at to put their religion above the Constitution and to stop supporting their fellow soldiers’ constitutional rights is, as MRFF’s Weinstein asserts, a glaring threat to national security. It is also a terrifying sign that theocrats have taken over the military.

Image: U.S. Defense Department

Rand Paul Beds Down With Organization Advocating Prison for Abortion

Republicans are being lured to do an anti-women’s choice organization’s bidding that includes advocating jail sentences for women who have an abortion. While the nation is mesmerized by a con man’s social media use and incompetence, the religious right is making unprecedented progress in the war on women while no-one is watching. Of course it is tempting to only monitor the criminal in the White House, but it is a distraction giving cover to religious anti-choice advocates and Republicans to pass legislation ending women’s reproductive rights and compelling them to become either birth machines or celibate.

It was reported that Rand Paul (R-KY) is pandering for donations for a personhood organization, the National Pro-Life Alliance, to give them more funding leverage to buy Republican support for Paul’s latest “fetal personhood” offering. The nasty religion-driven “non-profit” is making a major push to control women now because Trump signed a solemn pledge to support Paul’s “personhood legislation.” Trump also told the religious group that he supports a “federal” personhood bill, and they expect him to repay them for their ardent electoral support.

National Pro-Life Alliance recently sent out a letter supporting Paul’s “fetal personhood” bill bemoaning the fact that women who exercise their legal right to a medical procedure are not arrested, charged, prosecuted and sent to jail.

Rand Paul’s latestpersonhood” bill, “Life at Conception Act 2017” is short and says much more than it seems.

This bill declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being.”

What the bill doesn’t say is that anything the religious right deems an “unnatural interference” with that “moment of fertilization” will be considered a crime. Paul did add a “provision” to make his bill palatable to more senators, but it means nothing if the bill is passed and signed into law. The provision states:

Nothing in this bill shall be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child, a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.”

If anyone believes the measures Paul inserted to make his anti-choice measure palatable are legitimate, they are stupider than dirt. Remember, once theses religious fanatics get their foot in the door, women’s right to choose their own reproductive health is finished. In the Hobby Lobby ruling, although the conservative Justices acknowledged that according to all known medical and biological science, birth control is not abortion, still ruled for Hobby Lobby. They claimed that because according to Hobby Lobby’s owners’ religious belief that birth control is abortion, then it must be abortion to them. It was that “religious belief” aspect that gave Hobby Lobby and the religious right another means of banning birth control because it is unnatural and interferes with “the moment of conception.”

Now, it is getting old having to remind these “Christ centered” personhood malcontents that according to their god in their Christian bible, there is no “living being” until the moment the fetus leaves the womb and draws breath. The result of “the moment of fertilization” is a single-celled organism called a “zygote.” It is not a living human being and deserves no more constitutional rights than an embryo or a fetus. It is noteworthy that Republicans, particularly the evangelical Republicans, are immensely concerned about protecting the rights of a non-living human being, but the second that fetus exits the womb and draws breath they have no use or regard for its well-being whatsoever.

These “Christ centered” personhood advocates could not care less what their holy book says, and despite that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is not a human being, they hew closely to a document created by a Catholic they believe should be enshrined as the law of the land in America. And it is terrifying that there are religious Republicans who share their conviction and now have the means to make it law.

Most Americans who have heard about the Catholic “Personhood Movement” are either completely clueless to its purpose or laugh it off as just another bizarro-world religious right worldview. Although they didn’t start the personhood crusade, the religious right embraced it whole-heartedly to keep the “faithful” electing Republicans who do the movement’s bidding. Prior to being convinced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that birth control and abortion were brilliant emotional appeals to sway evangelical voters for Republicans, the religious right was not anti-women’s choice.

The ultimate goal of the personhood movement is to force legislation that conforms to the 1968 papal encyclical on human life known as Humanae Vitae. The movement adheres to the “encyclical” thesis that all “unnatural” forms of birth control are sinful and that sexual relations are for the express purpose of producing offspring; but only in marriage.

That is a loose summary of Pope Paul VI’s instructions to the Catholic faithful that the personhood movement has adopted as its raison d’être. Now that the personhood movement has a White House occupant’s signature on a document supporting any personhood bill,  they see an opportunity to finally succeed.  With Trump, and Pence who supports jail for abortion, on board, and two Republican versions of “personhood” bills in the works in Congress, it looks very bad for women and their constitutional right to control their reproductive health.

There has been a methodical effort by the personhood movement, with valuable aid from religious Republicans, to create a strategy to eliminate any and all legal protections for abortions, and eventually any and all “unnatural” forms of birth control. Central to that effort is building a body of laws that define zygotes and fetuses as full U.S. citizens with the same legal and constitutional rights Republicans want reserved for white evangelicals.

Women have never been in as much peril of being controlled by the religious right regarding their reproductive rights as they are today. Since Republicans control all three branches of government, there is no firewall against something as absurd as personhood legislation or the real risk of women being imprisoned for choosing a legal medical procedure. It is true a personhood bill on its own will not technically overturn Roe v Wade, but the result will be exactly the same.

If women, or the men who love them, think the religious maniacs will stop at jailing women for having an abortion, it is worth reminding them that there are pro-life personhood zealots who support charging women for murder for choosing a legal medical procedure. No one should be shocked if Republicans “compromise” and settle for just jailing women who have an abortion.

Trump Appellate Nominee Says Religion Supersedes Constitution

Anyone serving in the U.S. Government has to abide by the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land, but that is not the ardent belief of Trump’s nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The idea that the Constitution is secondary to a judge’s religious belief has been a growing threat for at least a couple of decades or so, but now that threat is becoming reality as America lurches toward an evangelical theocracy. For far too long politicians have looked the other way as theocracy-minded evangelicals have infected the government hoping to spread their evangelical beliefs like an incurable cancer.

At least now some members of the Senate realize the danger of a religious fanatic serving as an appeals court judge, but it is likely far too little to stop a serious threat to the rule of law by a Trump nominee who said judges have a duty to put their faith above the Constitution.

Amy Coney Barrett is a practicing conservative Catholic, and is an extraordinarily enthusiastic opponent of a woman’s right to choose. She has written extensively on the Catholic Church’s need to dismantle a long-standing legal medical procedure, Roe v. Wade. Barrett also does not subscribe to the idea of adhering to long-established legal precedents if they conflict with her religious belief that some laws, or Supreme Court rulings “were gross mistakes” because they are not founded on the Christian religion.

Barrett is a law professor at the Catholic Notre Dame University and except for serving as a “law clerk” for dead SCOTUS justice Antonin Scalia and appellate Judge Laurence H. Silberman, she has not served as a judge: and she damn well never should for one very good reason.

According to a recent report from the Alliance for Justice (AFJ):

As a judge, Barrett could be expected to put her personal beliefs ahead of the law. She wrote specifically about the duty of judges to put their faith above the law in an article entitled “Catholic Judges in Capital Cases.” Among other things, she strongly criticized Justice William Brennan’s statement about faith, in which he said that he took an oath to uphold the law, and that “there isn’t any obligation of our faith superior” to that oath. In response, Barrett wrote: “We do not defend this position as the proper response for a Catholic judge to take with respect to abortion or the death penalty.” (author bold)

If that is Barrett’s position, and she has written extensively that it is what she believes,  it automatically disqualifies her for any position in America’s judicial system. No judge, federal or otherwise, can blatantly disregard the only basis for law in the United States, the U.S. Constitution. Barrett claims the law of the land is secondary to a judge’s religious belief.

And, regarding Barrett’s nomination to a life-long position on a federal Circuit Court of Appeals, AFJ’s president Nan Aron said In a statement:

Amy Coney Barrett is a judicial nominee the likes of which we have rarely seen: a person who believes and has stated that judges can and should put their personal beliefs ahead of the law and Constitution when carrying out their duties. Specifically, Barrett has written that judges should put their religious faith ahead of the law in certain cases. She also has written that judges should not have to abide by precedent if they disagree with how past cases were decided. These views are so contrary to our system of democracy and justice that, in our view, they clearly disqualify her for the federal bench.

That AJF report elicited concerns in the Senate leading Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch to ask about her “questionable record” while quoting directly from the AJF report. But Barrett, a self-admitted “conservative Catholic” did what is becoming natural for so-called “conservative Christian” adherents;  she violated her Christian bible’s Ninth Commandment and lied by denying the AJF’s accusations. She responded to Senator Hatch saying:

That is not true. I totally reject and have rejected throughout my entire career the proposition that the end justifies the means or that a judge should decide cases based on a desire to reach a certain outcome.

Barrett’s assertion was quickly called what it was, a dirty lie, by the legal director for Alliance for Justice, Daniel Goldberg who asserted that Barrett’s testimony is “a point-blank lie.” He said:

Look at our report. It quotes Coney Barrett directly.”

California Senator Dianne Feinstein joined Senator Hatch in expressing her deep suspicions about Barrett’s religious extremism. She noted:

When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

Minnesota Senator Al Franken actually did the right thing and questioned Barrett’s “fitness to serve” when she claims a judge’s religious beliefs trump the U.S. Constitution. He also rightly chastised “the conservative Catholic’s close ties and communication with the anti-gay Christian hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.”

It isn’t immediately clear who in the Trump administration directed Trump to nominate Barrett as an Appellate Court judge, but it was almost certainly either Mike “preacher” Pence or Jeff ‘bible” Sessions. It may have even been the Christian hate group Alliance Defending Freedom; they all believe the Christian bible supersedes the U.S. Constitution as the law of the land. There is no doubt that the idea of a conservative Catholic panting to overturn Roe on the federal bench almost certainly gave them a 19-year-old’s ‘boner.’

Barrett has no right serving in any capacity as a judge. And no, her religion is not the issue; nobody has any shit to give about what Psalms she sings, how she worships, who she prays to, or what Christian denomination she subscribes. However, every American alive should shudder that Trump is nominating Christian extremists who fervently believe that judges have “a duty to put their faith above the law of the land” because it is a direct line to an oppressive theocracy; exactly what whoever nominated an extremist like Barrett intended.

Image: Patheos