Trump theocrats claim abuses against women and LGBT people are Christian values

If Americans are the least bit doubtful that the Trump theocrats are on a White House-sanctioned global crusade to spread their savage version of Christianity, a recent announcement at the State Department should disabuse their reservations.

It is not a revelation that evangelical extremists yearn for an executive order from Trump asserting that punishing women for making their own reproductive choice is exercising “religious freedom,” and legal. It is also common knowledge among cognizant Americans that part and parcel of the religious right’s definition of “religious freedom” is brutalizing the LGBTQ community according to their “Christian values.” Now it is an official policy of the Trump administration intent on imposing the evangelical extremists’ style of “religious freedom” around the world; and any opposition to that imposition of “religious freedom” is officially “religious persecution.”

In yet another move legitimizing the evangelical rights’ bigotry and hatred, the Trump administration sent a clear signal that “Christian America” will no longer denounce countries that punish LGBT citizens or women for making their own reproductive health choices. In fact, going forward, nations that embrace religious-driven hatred leading to imprisonment and/or death of LGBTQ people, and abuse targeting women, will be rewarded by Christian America; because Christian-inspired hatred and bigotry exemplify “Christian values” according to Trump’s theocrats.

During an atrocity in a secular nation in Washington D.C., the “Christian Values” proclamation came during the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The Trump theocrat honored to tell the world that Christian bigotry and hatred epitomize America’s Christian values was the director of Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney’s announcement entailed attacking the Obama Administration for threatening to withhold foreign aid to countries that punish women and members of the LGBTQ community. The evangelical right’s war on women and gays is now a global crusade sponsored by the Trump theocrats’ pushing a brutal version of religious freedom according to evangelical extremists.

Mulvaney said the theocrats in Trump’s administration will no longer encourage countries to abandon their draconian and deadly anti-LGBT and anti-women’s choice laws. Instead, Mulvaney “defended criminalizing and punishing homosexuality” as an American “religious freedom” issue, and that abusing and discriminating against women and gays embodies “Christian values.” According to Mulvaney and evangelical zealots, it is a disgrace that President Obama dared represent America as promoting women’s and LGBTQ rights.

As part of his remarks to the “State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom,” Mulvaney said:

Our US taxpayer dollars are used to discourage Christian values in other countries. It was stunning to me that my government under a previous administration would say, ‘We know that you have a law against abortion, but if you enforce that law, you’re not going to get any of our money. We know you have a law against homosexuality, but if you enforce that law, we’re not going to give you any money.’

That is a type of religious persecution that I never expected to see.

I never expected to see that as an American Christian, that we would be doing that to other folks.

I am here to let you know there a lot of people in this government who want to see things done differently. They want to do something.”

What that means is that in the Trump theocracy denying women access to reproductive health care and criminalizing homosexuality indicates “Christian values;” while opposing discrimination against women and homophobia is “religious persecution.

As Zack Ford at ThinkProgress noted,  “Mulvaney’s implication that the Trump administration would turn a blind eye to anti-gay persecution around the world is consistent with actions it has already taken.”

As part of the “religious freedom” crusade promoting “Christian Values” globally, Trump already rejected a United Nations resolution condemning the use of the death penalty to target LGBTQ people. The Trump theocrats gave some lame excuse about not opposing the “proper” use of the death penalty, but it is noteworthy that Trump has mentioned that according to the head of domestic policy, Mike “preacher” Pence, “proper use” of the death penalty would be hanging all gays based on the Christian bible’s Old Testament rules.

It is also noteworthy that another Trump theocrat, Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions proclaimed earlier this summer that America has ceased granting asylum to people who are victims of violence and abuse, and that America would be adding many new barriers to the asylum process. That includes new policies targeting LGBTQ people fleeing persecution to make it impossible for them to escape the brutal “Christian values” cult Trump’s theocrats are defending as part of their global “religious freedom” crusade.

It should be painfully obvious now that in America under Trump’s theocracy, “Christian Values” include criminalizing anything the evangelical extremist cult deems “ungodly.” And it is significant that the religious right supporting Trump’s theocrats are self-appointed authorities on what is “ungodly,” such as women’s reproductive rights and homosexuality. Further, anything resembling opposition to or non-compliance with those “Christian Values” is “religious persecution.” It is something that has been happening in America for a decade, at least, but it was never an official policy position until now.

Most Americans keeping abreast of the GOP’s crusade towards theocracy were already aware of what evangelical zealots considered “religious persecution,” but it has never been proclaimed publicly at the State Department by a high-ranking government official . However, it is now official and Americans should shudder at the revelation. It is a damn frightening prospect that anyone opposing the evangelicals’ brutal Christian values faces being accused of “religious persecution;” especially in an evangelical theocracy in the midst of an honest-to-dog religious crusade.

It is true that all Americans claiming Christianity do not embrace “Christian values” focusing on punishing homosexuality and criminalizing a woman’s right to self determination regarding her reproductive choices, but those “Christians” are not running the government. They are also not screaming in the streets that Trump and his theocrats do not represent Christian values. And why should they?

After all, they embrace the same Christian bible that the vicious evangelical extremist sect asserts gives them religious freedom to abuse women and gays – what they claim expresses their “Christian values.” And anyone opposing the imposition of “Christian values” is committing religious persecution. It is not a new policy by any means, but it is now the official position of America under Trump’s  theocracy and it began in earnest the day of Trump’s poorly attended inauguration.

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House votes to make churches dark money PACs

One of the greatest atrocities against the U.S. Constitution and America as it was created was foolishly providing churches with tax exemption with one simple requirement they refuse to abide.

As much as Americans complain about the filthy rich and corporations not paying their fair share of tax, it is curious there is no outrage about religious groups paying no amount of tax or contributing anything of value to society. Oh, it is true the “faithful” boast about the church’s “good works,” but those works are mandated by the faith for entrance into eternal bliss, or some such absurd notion. “Good works” are alleged to be their own reward for “real” followers of Christ.

It has been on the religious right’s wish list for decades, but now those “good works” entail actively funding Republican candidates and campaigning from the pulpit for more Republican “good works” enriching the wealthy and punishing non-compliance with evangelical edicts. In addition, Republicans have provided wealthy donors and dark money groups with a nearly foolproof means of avoiding campaign finance regulations with a value-added bonus of deducting campaign contributions as “charitable donations to a tax-exempt church.”

The religious right has revolted against the Johnson Amendment since its inception in 1954 because without their political activism in support of Republicans, they would be incapable of installing anti-women and anti-gay cretins in office. They wanted their tax exemption and the ability to campaign from the pulpit – which is exactly what the Johnson Amendment prohibited until now.

Although House Republicans did not vote to repeal the dreaded amendment, they did vote to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from taking action against churches and clergy that violate the rule with veritable impunity. Every year for the past five years on so-called “pulpit freedom Sunday,” over a thousand evangelical churches recorded clergy campaigning from the pulpit and then sent the video records directly to the IRS – daring them to take action. The goal was to initiate a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court to give the evangelical conservatives an opening to strike down the Johnson Amendment as unconstitutional. It is ironic because giving churches taxpayer money is contrary to the Separation Clause in the First Amendment and seems patently unconstitutional. And yes, tax-exemption for churches is giving religious groups free taxpayer money as much as the obscene “faith-based initiative” atrocity is giving churches free taxpayer money.

Now, with Trump demanding that the IRS give churches what they want, something he promised before his poorly-attended inauguration,  and House Republicans voting to make it illegal for the IRS to hold churches accountable to their sacred agreement as non-profits; churches will be the ideal dark money PACs. Remember, donations to political campaigns or PACs and candidates are not deductible and are limited by law. However, donations to religious organizations are deductible and likely unlimited.

What that means is that wealthy donors like the Koch brothers can donate to churches that will funnel the money to the campaign coffers of Republican anti-choice and anti-gay candidates; and they would be tax-deductible unlike any other form of the Kochs’ political giving. It also means “dark money” donors will be able to conceal those contributions from the prying eyes of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and especially the Internal Revenue Service. As Matthew Bulger at The Humanist noted:

Donations to churches for political ends would be anonymous, unlike most other forms of political giving.  This is especially concerning because while most 501(c)(3) groups must file a Form 990 with their tax return, which provides some information about the group and its activities, churches are exempt from that reporting requirement. As a result, their political spending would be nearly impossible to track.”

Moreover, the recently announced Treasury Department rule allows certain tax-exempt organizations, including politically active nonprofit groups like churches, to conceal the identify of their donors to tax authorities ensuring an unlimited, and unchecked, supply of dark money in campaigns. If anyone still believes there is an ounce of fairness in America under Republican rule, they are a moron.

As an aside, it is difficult to believe that this Treasury Department action was not enacted, at least in part, to protect groups like the NRA from reporting that Russia paid the gun-zealots to campaign and advocate for Trump and his gun-crazed GOP cohorts during the 2016 general election.

As Politico noted, the Republican House legislation “amounts to a backdoor way around the so-called Johnson amendment,” but it is so much more. It portends nothing good for America’s waning democracy and all but guarantees that the religious right’s crusade to install more GOP theocrats in high places will proceed with the utmost expediency.

These Republican actions on behalf of churches, and the permanent political supremacy of Republicans, certainly have the potential to be a greater attack on democracy than the dreaded Citizens United ruling. It does not necessarily mean that every church in America will be holding weekly Republican campaign rallies, but it does give evangelical clergy the freedom to promote candidates that share their Dark Age mentality with a captive audience every Sunday. And, coupled with the recent Treasury Department ruling, it will give wealthy donors and dark money groups all the cover they ever hoped for without abolishing all campaign finance regulations.

The concept of giving churches tax exemption, and by extension free taxpayer money, is an honest-to-dog abomination; and it is contrary to the intent of the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers. Why so many Americans believe church tax exemption is sacrosanct is beyond comprehension; likely a fair amount of the blame rests with the media and politicians who refuse to alert the people that they are giving churches free welfare to the tune of over a hundred-million dollars every year. Of course the ignoramus public falls for the tired argument that the church and clergy provide “special” benefits to society, but they never consider that nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, and public service workers all provide a benefit to all of society and they all pay taxes; a portion of which is flowing directly to churches.

It is an honest-to-dog travesty that large and small communities across America are struggling to find funding for services like clean water, law enforcement, schools, and dependable roads while churches avoid paying anything for the same roads, clean water, schools, law enforcement and firefighters the rest of the population funds. While discussing exactly what “religious freedom” entailed at the nation’s creation, Founding Father and third President Thomas Jefferson said:

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Nearly two-and-a-half centuries later, not only are all Americans compelled to support religious worship, places and ministries by government fiat, they are soon going to compelled to comply with the evangelicals who now have all the tools they need to create their theocracy – a theocracy that is being partially funded by the poor unwitting American people.

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DeVos Has a Plan To Force Taxpayers to Fund Religious Schools

For many Americans hearing incompetent Education Secretary and  evangelical extremist Betsy DeVos’ name is tantamount to having their eyeballs gouged out with a rusted salad fork. For Americans concerned about educating the next generation to live and compete in the 21st Century, DeVos represents a clear and present danger to the nation as it has existed since its inception.

It is no secret that DeVos hates the public school system for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is that they are not taxpayer funded evangelical madrassas and they do not yet exist to enrich her wealthy cohorts in the corporate private and religious school movement. In fact, DeVos was disappointed to learn that because the federal government does not contribute nearly as much education funding to states as she believed, she is unable to impose her evangelical agenda on states’ public schools as Education Secretary. Now she has a solution to complete her task of using taxpayer money to propagandize American children in America’s bastardized version of Christianity.

For a reminder, DeVos clearly stated that her goal in running Trump’s Education Department is shaping the culture “to advance god’s kingdom.” And she fully intends to force American taxpayers to fund her effort as part of a larger Christian Dominionist movement to restore Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution by 2020. While Americans have been ignoring the warnings and real threat out of fear of offending “the faithful,” theocrats have been systematically setting the stage to reach their 2020 target date and DeVos’ actions are a crucial part of the plan.

DeVos’ effort entails redefining corporate charter and private religious schools as “public” to legally funnel taxpayer dollars away from “non-religious” and “non-profit” public schools directly to her friends in the religious and charter school movement. DeVos exposed her devious machination during a meeting of 50 teachers of the year during her response to concerns that her anti-public school agenda is already damaging public schools.

DeVos revealed her “plan” during a private visit when she asked the country’s “top teachers” to describe the obstacles they face in doing their jobs. At least one of the teachers had the courage to speak the truth and he told the public school enemy that many of her policies are damaging public education. In particular, Oklahoma’s teacher of the year, Jon Hazell, questioned her unconstitutional policy of using “taxpayer money meant for public education to fund private, mostly religious schools.” Mr. Hazell said:

We have a problem where public money is siphoned off from the public schools and given to children who are going to [corporate] charter and private [religious] schools.”

Mr. Hazell said DeVos’ immediate response was shocking. She told the gathered public school teachers that her intent was to redefine “what education is and declare all of it ‘public’ education.” The reason is clearly to legally fund religious, private and corporate charter schools, all for profit, with money stolen from public schools.

Another “teacher of the year” from Pennsylvania, Michael Soskil Sr., confirmed Mr. Hazell’s account of the exchange and like Mr. Hazell, he was stunned saying:

“One of the things that was so stark and memorable in that exchange was . . . SecretaryDeVos trying to redefine what the word ‘public’ is. It was almost like Orwellian double-speak to me.”

Most Americans are aware that DeVos is more of a “know-nothing” than her boss Trump, particularly about the public education system, and that she is a filthy rich member of the upper echelon of the richest one-percent. But she is also a raving evangelical theocrat desperate to eviscerate the public school system to fund private, for-profit, religious schools. The only reasonable assessment of DeVos is that she is a “radical Christian extremist intent on using America’s public school system to ‘advance god’s kingdom;” and she is on a mission to force American taxpayers to fund her theocratic crusade.

One of the reasons DeVos is so enamored with private religious and charter schools is she relishes using taxpayer dollars to discriminate against gays, the disabled and women according to “the sensibilities” of the conservative Christian movement. In fact, DeVos is very upset that there is no federal taxpayer money to fund private religious and charter schools. so her plan is making them “public” to rob taxpayer dollars.

When DeVos was queried about her intent to spend taxpayer dollars on evangelical madrassas, an intent that is patently unconstitutional, she said:

There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the [theocratic] need in education…[versus] what is currently being spent every year on education in this country…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom.”

DeVos has made no secret that, in her evangelical mind, the pressing need in the public schools system is more Christianity, more god, more prayer and more archaic mythology disguised as science. And since filthy rich evangelicals like her are unwilling to pay tuition for idiot parents that demand religious indoctrination for their offspring, DeVos is more than willing to “destroy public education and use public school funds to advance her dreams of a Christian theocracy.”

There are already many Republican controlled states that are funneling money meant for public schools to private religious and charter schools that are for-profit. And although it is patently unconstitutional, the religious Republicans want to use all federal education money to inculcate American children according to their evangelical form of Christianity.

DeVos, like all of Trump’s people, took a “so help me god” oath of office and swore to her god that she would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States … without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me god.”

Instead, DeVos is purposely defying the document she swore to uphold and defend by going to extreme measures to force Americans to pay for “advancing god’s kingdom” in the “public schools.

This idea of using the federal government to extract money from taxpayers to “continue advancing god’s kingdom” is an abomination, and in no small measure the blame is on the media and Democrats who are still terrified of even mentioning that DeVos’ “school choice” nonsense, or attacks on women’s reproductive rights, or blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community are borne of theocrats pushing their religion on the population as if it is the law of the land.

At this juncture it is apparent that the Dominionist movement attempting to create a theocratic government is perilously close to reaching fruition by the movement’s 2020 target date. And it is worth noting that once the theocrats have succeeded, Americans will lose the right to criticize the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to advance the kingdom of god.

Republican Bill Bans Non-Church Marriages

As if the nation is not in enough trouble, there is another sign that with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the rush toward America as a theocracy is ramping up. At the rate Republicans and Trump are pandering to the evangelical fanatics, America is not far off from being run like Iran and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Whether the religious right admits it or not, the majority hew to a mindset that only Christians are real Americans worthy of certain privileges and rights. It is likely true that mindset is substantiated by Republicans who work tirelessly to elevate evangelicals to a position of authority over the rest of the population with ever-increasing incidences of theocratic legislation.

The GOP has, in fact, given the religious right purview over women’s access to healthcare as well as the legal right to discriminate against any American unwilling to toe the evangelical line. There have even been murmurings that only evangelicals should be allowed to vote and that only Christians should run for and hold political office. Evangelicals still claim that America was created as a Christian theocracy and the Constitution was written by the god of the Christian bible. Now an emboldened religious Republican has introduced legislation that says only evangelicals can enter into the institution of marriage performed in a church.

Despite the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nearly three years ago, religious Republicans are still crusading to deny same-sex couples the legal right to be married. In a new attack on same-sex marriage, a really religious  Republican in the Missouri state legislature, some theocrat named T.J. Berry,  introduced House Bill 1424to restrict marriage in the “show me state” to “people of faith.” It is noteworthy to mention that Berry is as real a religious Republican as any evangelical fanatic and an ordained deacon of the First Baptist Church In Kearney, Missouri.

Berry’s theocratic legislation defines marriage as being a “solemnized union that takes place only inside a church.”  Note that it doesn’t say inside a mosque, a synagogue, or a temple by design; Muslims, Buddhists or Jews do not worship or get “married” in a “church.” If Berry’s bill becomes law, any marriages that “were to take place outside of the church” will not be legal or recognized as legal marriages by the theocrats running Missouri; they will be domestic unions regardless the couple’s gender.

The First Baptist deacon Berry proudly admits that his bill’s purpose is redefining marriage in favor of “the church.” He said the only way a person in Missouri can be legally married under his legislation is “to go through a religious ceremony in a church.” Any couple refusing to take that route can get a civil document from the government, but they will not be legally married in Missouri.

The Legal Director at the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Warbelow, explained the obvious that the law will hurt LGBTQ married couples in Missouri. She also said that restricting “marriage” to “church weddings calls into question all couples’ rights;” particularly those who were not married in a church in a “solemnized union.” Ms.Warbelow said:

It’s hard to believe [this legislation is] something most conservatives support. Most Americans think that marriage is an important institution, and they don’t want to get rid of it.

Most Americans are not running the government any longer so it doesn’t matter what they want or don’t want. Evangelicals are running the government despite their minority position, and along with their money machine the Koch brothers, they fully control the fate of the nation by wielding authority over Republicans.

It is noteworthy that this particularly nasty evangelical legislation is not about  “getting rid of marriage as an institution;” evangelicals love solemnized man-woman church marriages. Berry’s bill simply restricts participation in the “important institution of marriage” to the evangelical faithful, but only if they are wed in a church. It is the only way Republican evangelicals claim they can protect churches and businesses from “the gay encroachment” and protect religious bigots refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. That was another urgent reason for the theocratic law.

The bill’s supporters claim the new law will be “the remedy to controversies across the country involving government employees who object and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons.”

No, the remedy for government employees who object to following the law of the land, and willfully violate the 14th Amendment, is immediate termination of their taxpayer-funded employment. And if it were possible, they should face charges for violating terms of employment as government employees for refusing to support the Constitution. Nearly all government and public employees from presidents to senators to law enforcement to school teachers swear an oath to support the U.S. Constitution; and that includes the 14th Amendment that evangelical Republicans claim violates their religious liberty.

Critics of the legislation concur with the HRC’s legal director in warning that it would cause LGBT couples, as well as all other non-religious couples, a great deal of trouble. It is almost certain that “causing all non-religious couples a great deal of trouble” is an important aspect of this particular theocratic abomination.

Like many Americans, the executive director of a Missouri advocacy group, the Center Project, is “irritated and frustrated” over the religious Republicans’ never-ending assault on equality and the concept of progress. Dion Wisniewski said:

No matter how much progress we make, there is always going to be a push from conservative [evangelical] groups to roll back protections for individuals or enact new laws to make it more difficult to live normal lives. Conservative groups are putting pressure on the legislature to protect the ‘biblical definition’ of marriage, even though they aren’t being forced to perform these services.

The evangelical fanatics supporting this particular theocratic edict never elaborated on exactly what “gay encroachment” entails, but it likely has everything to do with gays having equal rights. It is not out of the realm of possibility that when evangelical theocracy is officially the law of the land, the LGBTQ community will be banned from America, much less “evangelical churches and businesses.”

Although it should be unbelievable in a 21st Century secular nation, it was not surprising to learn that a Republican state is working to ban non-Christians from being married.  It is unclear if the legislation will pass and become a state law, or progress to become a national crusade. But it is abundantly clear that with a puppet in the White House and most federal agencies in the grip of theocrats, evangelicals are on a crusade to do much more than ban non-Christians from being legally married. Tragically, very few Americans will notice the theocratic tyranny until they become targets of the religious right, and as centuries of “church” history informs, sooner rather than later every American will be a target of the fanatical religious right.

Bishops Advise Republicans and Parents to Reject Trans Children

There is relatively solid proof now that all of the Republican negative ranting and raving about transgender people is driven by the historical bane of human decency, freedom and equality – religion.

First, when this column cites a religion as “fanatical, radical, or extremist,” particularly Christian denominations, it is not using a “broad stroke to portray” all Christians as fanatical, radical, extremist or bad. The same is true regarding criticism of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) or the Vatican or the Pope or any of that ridiculously rich syndicate’s bizarre dogmata; it is never about “all Catholics.

There are myriad reasons to attack many members of the clergy and none deserve more than the USCCB; if for no other reason than they implanted the “religious liberty” idea in the evangelical Republican lexicon. That American group of Catholic bishops are guilty of a world of offenses against women particularly, but also against members of the LGBTQ community.

At issue is an “open letter” issued by the USCCB, with many other religious leaders as signatories, “rejecting the legitimacy of transgender identity.” The theme of the letter on families is that parents have to “reject their transgender children” because god, bible, and social conservative (church) norms.

The open letter, “Created Male and Female” asserts that “transgender” is a “false idea that goes against reason;” and it is a “deeply troubling notion that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa.”  It was once a false idea and deeply troubling to “the Church” that the Earth orbited the Sun, but the Church still exists although it imprisoned and killed a few heretics for spreading a false and deeply troubling idea — heliocentrism.

The bishops failed to provide a link to any empirical data as to why transgender identity is a false idea or deeply troubling; just that a parent’s job is rejecting their child if they identify as transgender. The bishops attempted to validate their position by claiming ”transgender children are ‘harmed’ when they are affirmed in their identities,” but no-one with a pulse believes these former priests have any regard for children being “harmed.

One particularly offensive section of the letter states:

“Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

There is so much inherently wrong, and revealing, in that section of the letter that it boggles the mind until one remembers who issued the ‘open letter’ in the first place and who the signatories are; a bunch of religious fanatics controlling the Republican social agenda. Republicans have hewed closely, and dutifully followed, the real meaning of the USCCB’s theocratic dictate:

The state has a compelling interest to maintain [church] policies and support the social [church] institutions and [church] norms that surround it.

Now, this holy edict that children especially are “harmed” if their transgender identity is affirmed is pure bovine excrement. According to several studies’ results, “the way parents respond to their child’s gender identity can have drastic consequences for their mental health.”

Parents that heed the USCCB’s advice and “reject their children for being transgender significantly increases depression and suicidal thinking.”  Conversely, one of the single most effective  “buffers against those negative consequences” is affirming the child’s identity, “allowing them to be as happy and healthy as their peers.”  What these bishops are advising is exactly what “sows self-doubt and confusion and can be remarkably damaging;” including causing depression and suicide.

The bishops also used a favorite religious right claim that the faithful who condemn transgenders are the “true victims.” They claim:

The movement to respect transgender people is ‘deeply troubling’ and compels people to either go against ‘reason’ or face ridicule, marginalization and other forms of retaliation.”

If the bishops contend that calling a dirty bigot a dirty bigot is “deeply troubling,” then they are no different than the dirty bigots in Trump’s Alt-right Nazi movement.  What the bishops never mention is the hate, “retaliation,” and discrimination that transgender people suffer in “employment, housing, health care, education, the justice system, and public accommodations.

Something that should raise red flags, even for people unsure about what “transgender” means, is this bizarre concept that a bunch of old white guys decked out in Goth-gear and claiming to be celibate get an opinion on parenting when they have never “had” children. Oh it is true that a terrifying number of those “holy men” have “had” plenty of children, but not in the sense that normal, decent or real “god-fearing” human beings ‘have’ children.  These are the same control-freaks who claim to have profound and godly expertise in women’s reproductive science as well as OB/GYN bona fides that Republicans use to control women’s reproductive rights.

What is particularly dangerous about this USCCB “open letter” is that Republicans will seize on it as overwhelming proof that restricting transgender people’s equal rights is justified. Remember, both houses of Congress summoned the same male religious leaders to give expert testimony to restrict women’s access to contraceptives. To think they won’t reference this letter as justification for denying transgenders’ rights is the height of naïveté; the letter tells Republicans that “the state has a compelling interest to maintain church policies and support church institutions and church norms that surround it.” The only group Republicans are more obedient to than the Koch brothers is the religious right and all it entails – particularly the USCCB.

It is one thing for the bishops, priests, reverends and ministers who signed on to the USCCB letter to control Republicans and their radical evangelical supporters; stupid people are easily manipulated. But they have no right to insert their perverted opinions on child-rearing into any family; especially when there is legitimate research demonstrating that the quickest way to harm transgender children, or adults for that matter, is to follow the bishops’ teachings.

It is noteworthy that there are a significant number of religious leaders, including Catholics and Baptists, who are strong advocates on behalf of transgender people; they at least act like “real Christians” and real “followers of Christ.” They are also not enamored with the USCCB for using religious dogma to put children at risk of depression and suicide; something the bishops apparently don’t regard as important. In fact, according to one of the signatories representing the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission;  “trans people are responsible for their own suffering for rejecting God.” As Zack Ford over at ThinkProgress noted, it is a sentiment the USCCB letter strongly implies.

This “parenting” letter from a bunch of old “celibate” white guys is further proof that the force behind most GOP attacks on Americans’ equal rights is driven by religion. That might be acceptable in theocratic regimes such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, but it is an atrocity in America. Not because they are attempting to control the people, that is what religion does. The real atrocity is that Republicans are dutifully following their edicts to the letter.

If that is unbelievable, think back to the GOP’s claims during North Carolina’s “trans toilet” controversy and then note the USCCB’s letter demanding enactment of “policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all.”

It is true these bishops are hateful religious leaders to even suggest that parents should reject trans kids, but they represent a controlling religious syndicate that would not exist without using hate to control their sycophants – like the Republican movement. That they would endanger children by fundamentally saying they are “deeply troubling and false” as if they don’t exist is par for the course and something Republicans will repeat ad nauseam.

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Religious Leaders Arrested For Protesting Republicans’ Tax Bill

In a new low, even in Trump’s America, a group of faith leaders representing every major religion showed up at the Senate to protest the Republican tax reform legislation and for all their godly effort they were detained, handcuffed, and arrested – while they were praying.

It isn’t often that organized religious leaders join forces in opposition to Republicans, but in another sign the GOP’s tax reform giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy is highly unpopular, another group of “faith leaders” joined a chorus of criticism against the Republicans. One thing that is universal in the great majority of religions is the idea of protecting the poor and the vulnerable, it was a major theme of Jesus Christ’s teaching and something ‘religious” Republicans vehemently oppose as un-American.

On Thursday, a group “faith advocates” gathered to protest the GOP legislation at the Hart Senate building. The head of a Christian social justice group “Sojourners,” Jim Wallis was joined by Barbara Williams Skinner of the National African American Clergy Network and a large group of clergy to pray and condemn “unjust rulers” using religious ideology right from the scriptures. The theme of the criticism was that the “bill is an assault on the poor and vulnerable” the multi-denominational clergy “are sworn to protect.”

Mr. Wallis actually quoted a passage from the GOP’s favorite part of the Christian bible, the Old Testament, that fairly describes what Republicans are attempting to do to the American people who aren’t corporations or members of the one percent. Wallis recited Isaiah 10:1 saying:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

Police waited until after several other members of the clergy spoke out against the tax bill and then “detained, handcuffed, and escorted them away while they prayed.”  So much for the GOP’s high regard for “religious freedom.”

The previous day a group of “more than 2,400 faith leaders” representing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and many other “faith traditions” signed a letter to Republican leaders in the Senate slamming the bill as “unjust.” In fact, the “clergy” listed several issues they opposed with special emphasis on how it was created to “disproportionately benefit the wealthy,’ explode the deficit and increase the number of uninsured Americans by millions.” The letter read, in part:

As people of faith, we view decisions about tax policy and the federal budget as moral decisions. Simply put, this proposed legislation is fundamentally unjust. If it becomes law, it will result in harmful consequences for those most needing support so as to benefit high-income earners and big corporations.”

Several high-profile religious organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and surprisingly, even the president of the National Association of Evangelicals joined the CEO of Catholic Charities USA and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to condemn the cruel bill. The National Council of Churches summed up briefly why a majority of Americans, whether they are religious or not, oppose the GOP’s tax reform bill:

The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended.”

The tax bills cannot be “fiscally defended” either; but that isn’t stopping the Republican march towards transferring the treasury to corporations and the wealthy and burden the poor and middle class in the process. It is noteworthy to remind the clergy that their bible has no place in whether a tax plan can be defended; that theocratic remark ruined whatever positive “optics” the group hoped to shine on their worthy effort.

Now, although the faith leaders coming together to oppose this tax reform abomination is a kind gesture, as was the same group’s opposition to Trump’s immigration ban, repeal of DACA, and attempt at ending the Affordable Care Act, it is only a gesture and the religious leaders know it. The question a majority of those leaders have to answer before they will be taken seriously is why do they predominately support Republicans when they are well aware this particular “unjust” tax plan is the same as every other “unjust” Republican tax plan.

Without the reliable religious vote, Republicans would not control the House or the Senate or a growing majority of state legislatures. The only one reason the faithful support Republicans is because they pander to every faith and denomination that opposes women’s right to make their own reproductive choices. A fair number of the religious leaders condemning the Republican tax scam were also instrumental in aiding those same Republicans attack women’s rights over using birth control.

It is quite troublesome for a secular humanist to give much credence to some of these religious leaders because most of them know their efforts helped give Republicans control of Congress; all in a religious crusade to control women because doing so is “biblically defensible.” However, it is refreshing  to see Republicans being assailed by their staunchest supporters for a change; not that it matters to Republicans who no doubt had some input in having the protestors arrested while they were praying for the wrong issue.

New GOP Tactic in the Evangelical Forced Birth Crusade 

In a scene right out of a dystopian novel about a future evangelical theocracy in the former United States of America, a Wisconsin Republican claimed America needs “forced birth” policies for the continued success of economic prosperity. As absurd as it sounds, this latest ploy should convince naysayers that evangelical Republicans are pulling out all the stops to to force women to be human incubators by theocratic fiat.

The evangelicals and Republicans waging war on women’s reproductive rights and freedom of self determination have employed every conceivable argument to avoid admitting controlling women’s lives is a religious crusade. So it was not that unexpected that Wisconsin Republicans were restricting women’s right to choose on a familiar “excuse” to control women. But it was a new low for one evangelical Republican state representative, a reprobate Republican named Scott Allen, to defend another attack on women’s rights by saying abortions are bad because “labor forces are tied to population declines.”

Allen was arguing in favor of Assembly Bill 128 that prohibits health insurance coverage for abortions. Wisconsin already prohibits public employee’s healthcare plans from covering abortion services unless it is medically necessary, but it wasn’t harsh enough for evangelical Republicans. In fact, it is safe to say nothing is harsh enough for evangelical Republicans in their war to control women.

Wisconsin Democrats attempted to add two amendments to the anti-women bill, but Republicans said no, the personhood movement won’t allow it. One of the amendments should be shocking it had to be proposed, but to prevent America from becoming Gilead, Democrats sought to ensure that the evangelical measure would not prohibit women from using contraception. Republicans rejected that idea out of hand. As per the Catholic Humanae Vitae, contraceptives are considered “artificial” birth control and thus are on the legislative chopping block.

The second amendment attempted to eliminate the requirement that a sexual assault or incest victim report the crime to law enforcement to be legally eligible for an abortion; evangelical Republicans rejected that measure also. When they say they want to control women’s right to self-determination about their reproductive lives, they mean there are no barriers and no exceptions to their religious tyranny. That’s why Scott Allen’s contention that women choosing when to give birth is bad for the economy was a canard and a dangerous one at that.

In his speech Allen said:

Often in public debates people are afraid to say it, but let me just say it: Abortion is wrong. Although it may be legal we should in no way shape or form should we provide public funding for abortion.

Labor force shortages are tied to population declines. And labor force shortages are a limiting factor in economic growth. And limited economic growth poses a problem when government tries to pay for public services and infrastructure. In spite of this … the Democrats continue their effort to support the abortion industry.”

There are a few things in Allen’s statement that have to be addressed. First, according to Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin “total labor force reached an all-time high in September.” The evangelical state does not have to enact “forced birth” laws because there is a labor shortage.

Second, this notion that “we provide public funding for abortion” is an oft-cited fallacy and one that is never addressed or corrected. Any employer, public or private, that offers healthcare insurance is doing so as “part of the employee compensation” package for work performed. What an employee does with that “compensation” is none of the employer’s, or religious Republicans’ business, but it has been an easy means of the righteous theocrats to control women. The Republican men passing these laws would react violently if women employers prohibited male workers from using part of their  “employee compensation package” to buy “boner pills.”

Third, Allen’s smart-ass remarks about “economic growth” and government revenue falling short to pay for “public services and infrastructure” is pure bullshit, and Allen knows it. He is a Republican and like all other Republicans he doesn’t believe government should pay for anything; except his salary and his  employee benefit package.

Allen’s claim to fame is being a champion to reform (eliminate) prevailing wage laws and crusading to enact “right to work for less” laws; he is an ardent anti-organized labor cretin who supports slave wages that are the bane of “economic growth and prosperity.” He also opposes fair taxation. And coupled with a labor force earning poverty wages that Allen supports, tax cuts for business and the wealthy are what “pose a problem when government tries to pay for public services infrastructure,” not access to abortion.

Now, it is likely that Allen doesn’t even believe his own argument opposing women’s choice, but these absurd reasons to control women never stop with one idiotic evangelical Republican. It should be expected that other Republicans will embrace the “economic” reasons for restricting women’s autonomy on their reproductive choices. Contraception in health plans was once considered a non-controversial part of basic healthcare until religious Republicans discovered “the fetus” as an emotional campaign tactic. Even Hobby Lobby’s owners “lavished” contraception coverage on their employee’s health plans prior to the Affordable Care Act. Now denying, and banning, contraception is a tried and true means of controlling women. It is no coincidence that Wisconsin’s religious Republicans rejected language prohibiting the state from banning women from using contraception and it means it is in the offing.

It is still a mystery why women are not taking to the streets in massive numbers to protest their certain loss of autonomy as American citizens since the religious right took power after last year’s election. Even a bigger mystery, really, is why the men that claim to love their mothers, wives, girlfriends and daughters are not storming the White House, Congress and Republican statehouses to confront this group of white religious Republican men attacking their loved ones; especially to impose evangelical tyranny on over half the population. It is incomprehensible that in the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” a religious minority is imposing its tyrannical edicts on America’s women without any opposition.

It is true that women’s reproductive rights advocates are fighting the good fight, but they never cite the real reason women are under a sustained assault. One of the primary reasons the religious right, and many in the clergy, are escalating their attacks on women is because they know that they can work behind the scenes and prevail because no-one is identifying religious tyranny as the source of the assaults. It may be Republicans introducing and enacting anti-women’s rights laws, but they are simply surrogates for the Vatican and personhood religious movement. Now they are employing a new tactic and fear-mongering that if the religious right is prohibited from forcing women into perpetual child birth, the nation’s economy will suffer. It is an obscene and absurd assertion, but the stupid quotient in the population means a significant number of idiots will believe it is an immutable truth.

Image: Daily Kos

Trump Legitimizes The Evangelical Hate Movement

Donald Trump is hate personified and it would be nearly impossible to think there were very many Americans who don’t believe that is the case; including no small number of his zealot devotees. They support Trump because like them, he is not the least bit bashful about exuding rage towards the people he hates; a group of Americans that is growing at about the same rate a productive hen lays an egg.

Fortunately for Trump, there is an honest-to-dog hate conference sponsored by several bonafide evangelical hate groups that welcomed him with open hearts last week so he didn’t have to hate alone. In fact, Trump was so enthused at being amongst a throng of religious hate mongers that he stopped talking about himself for a minute to say what an honor it was to be among “his” people. Sadly, “his” people make up a larger segment of the population than most Americans want to admit.

The Values Voter Summit is put on annually by several religious right hate groups led by the Family Research Council; an officially-designatedhate group.” Trump was the first White House occupant to address the hate group and he promptly told the cheering evangelicals that their racist, anti-women and anti-LGBTQ views would “no longer be silenced;” they would be administration policy because he pledged to “defend and protect” the evangelical hateful.

While any self-respecting human being would avoid commiserating in public with a movement renowned as a “hate group,” Trump delighted in being admired and praised by “his people.” He said:

I am honored and thrilled to be the first sitting president to address this gathering of friends, so many friends.  I pledged that in a Trump administration, our heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like you have never seen before. We are returning moral clarity to our view of the world.”

When Trump said “our view of the world,” he meant the Family Research Council’s evangelical view founded on pure hate against everything LGBT, women’s rights, and racial equality as evidenced by the white supremacist presence at the hate convention. Of course Trump couldn’t address anyone without addressing his own awesomeness and with a captive audience as dripping with evangelical hatred as Trump has for everything America, he let loose with a few of his most hateful actions to date.

Anti-LGBT groups like the FRC exerted a fair amount of pressure on, and plenty of evangelical prayers to, Trump for a sweeping federal license to discriminate against women and gays according to their evangelical hate standards. So Trump praised himself for directing his equally hateful evangelical attorney general to issue a “bombshell directive” giving evangelicals a ‘’religious exemption” from abiding by any and all anti-discrimination protections for women, gays and people of color.

He also boasted that he gave churches the right to violate campaign finance and tax laws to help elect Republicans and give dark money donors like the Kochs and Karl Rove untouchable religious Super PACs. Not only do churches not have to be accountable to campaign finance or tax laws, the wealthy donors like the Kochs can write off their campaign donations as charitable contributions to churches.

Trump said:

To protect religious liberty, including protecting groups like this one, I signed a new executive action in a beautiful ceremony in the White House on our national day of prayer.

Among many historic steps, the executive order followed through on one of my most important campaign promises, important to so many of you. To prevent the horrendous Johnson Amendment interfering with your First Amendment rights.

We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors, our ministers, our rabbis. These are the people we want to hear from and they’re not going to be silenced any longer.”

When Trump said people “we” want to hear from, he meant Republicans want to hear evangelical clergy campaigning from the pulpit to expedite their hate crusade against women and LGBT people; a crusade that already gave religious Republicans control of all three branches of government.

Trump also boasted that he did precisely what the evangelical hate movement demanded by appointing an anti-women’s rights and anti-LGBT equality conservative to the Supreme Court. In a nod to the FRC hate group’s dream of “banning gay sex,” Trump bragged that “I appointed and confirmed a Supreme Court justice in the mold of the late great Justice Antonin Scalia.” In 2002 Scalia dissented on the High Court decision to strike down barbaric religious laws banning gay sex in the United States just 15 years ago.

It is noteworthy that at least two of Trump’s “great friends” speaking to the Hate Voters, as well as the Family Research Council’s president, are violently opposed to anything remotely LGBT and women’s rights. Trump’s newest love-interest Roy Moore allegedly is not publicly certain that gays should be allowed to live; but he is publicly certain that his bible is the law of the land and it does call for killing gay people. Another man equally as enamored with Trump as Trump is of him, Duck Dynasty malcontent Phil Robertson, addressed Trump’s “great friends;” Robertson often makes it perfectly clearhe wants to rid the Earth of wicked gays.

Now, it is no revelation that Trump is the embodiment of hate, or that the FRC’s Values Voter Summit typifies American evangelical hate, there are likely hate groups in every society and most are driven by radical religious beliefs. However, only a minority of the world’s nations are in the thrall of an administration founded on hate with veritable universal support from a small, but very vocal radical religious minority.

The seriously damning indictment of America is that 60-plus million Americans’ supported Donald Trump or he would be pandering to some second-rate cable network for another reality show gig. Throughout the presidential primaries and general election, Trump exuded hatred for every and anything and no American of voting age can say they didn’t know what kind of hate monger he is.

It is a damn sad state of affairs, but now that monster and his hate-infested evangelical cabal are running the nation, and Trump legitimized the hate movement by boasting about every hateful action he directed according to the evangelical’s demands. There are plenty of commentaries claiming the hate groups in America are a small minority, but don’t believe the sophistry. Instead, believe the numbers of Americans who spent six or seven months hearing and seeing hate incarnate on a daily basis and then voted for that incarnation to run the nation and legitimize evangelical hate as an integral element of “his government.”

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

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