Trump and McConnell’s judicial havoc will last for decades

After the events of the past 10 days, it is abundantly clear that there is no end to the amount of damage Trump will wreak on the United States internationally and domestically. However, it is almost certain that every dirty move Trump makes internationally can be reversed by a sane administration – although no foreign nation will ever trust America again whether they are an ally or an antagonist. It is a travesty, but because of Trump and his Republican henchmen in the Senate and the Christofascists running the Heritage Foundation, no American should ever trust their government to look out for their interests; or that they will continue to have constitutional protections. It is likely that within a year or so, Trump, his theocratic cabal, and Republicans will have succeeded in unleashing lasting damage on the American people and the federal government. In this case “lasting” means several decades if not permanently.

Over at Salon, Amanda Marcotte, opined that there is a “vile reason why Republicans will keep covering for Trump’s unending, and perilous, scandals.” Although Ms. Marcotte makes a sound argument, it ignores the simple fact that even if Republicans were inclined to stop protecting Trump and throw the criminal out of the White House, there is a dyed-in-the-wool Christofascist conservative who will continue “packing the courts” with far right-wing religious extremists. According to Ms. Marcotte, that is the “vile reason” Republicans condone Trump’s wrecking-crew agenda as if only Trump will “pack the courts” with evangelical right-wing activists.

Where Trump does the evangelical extremists’ bidding for electoral support, Mike “preacher” Pence is a true believer that America was created as an evangelical theocracy and his Christian bible is the law of the land. Pence would move the proverbial “Heaven and Earth” to make America as Christian as Trump is attempting to make it Aryan. Still, there is no denying that with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “court packing” crusade in full swing, America as it has existed for 238 years is finished and two of the Heritage Foundation’s theocratic judicial appointments should disabuse any American’s idea that there is  a limit to the damage Trump is doing to America and its people.

It is true that the theocratic Heritage Foundation is in the process of shaping the Supreme Court in its image for at least a generation; the religious right has clamored for a Christian conservative majority for decades. However, the real damage is their appointments of young, incompetent, and inexperienced right wing ideologues and evangelicals filling the federal appellate courts. At the rate the lower courts are being packed with neo-con evangelical crusaders, it is possible that many cases will never reach the High Court. These recent Trump-Heritage appointees are openly biased and because it mainly concerns religion, they are not being assailed as religious extremists. There must be a convention in America that forbids questioning the imposition of the evangelical religion as if doing so is tantamount to what used to be considered treason – siding with a hostile foreign leader against the interests of the United States.

Regarding the Russian asset in the Oval, while the media and some Americans were watching Trump lie about his “misspeak” regarding Russia’s attack on America’s democracy, Mitch McConnell was holding a confirmation vote on a “radical right wing” ideologue, Andrew Oldham, as a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. To label Oldham as a radical, anti-government neo-conservative is an understatement.

Oldham is, as reported in May, a wet dream for the Koch brothers and particularly the theocracy-minded Heritage Foundation. Like the Koch brothers, Oldham openly questions the “legitimacy” of the federal government by arguing vigorously, “The entire existence of this edifice of administrative law is constitutionally suspect.” He also claims that agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Labor are patently “illegal and illegitimate.” Apparently, Oldham is opposed to any form of taxation and federal or state regulations unless they target women’s right to self-determination; it is the primary reason the evangelicals at the Heritage Foundation ordered Trump to nominate him.

Oldham argued in defense of a set of bizarre 2013 Texas evangelical laws that regulated the medical profession with the purpose of closing down “safe, legal abortion clinics” while he was deputy solicitor general in Texas. The Supreme Court overturned the law that had nothing to do with improving women’s health, particularly when it immediately closed down 13 abortion clinics. As NARAL’s Adrienne Kimmell noted:

Oldham’s track record proves time and time again that he will be a foot soldier for the anti-choice movement’s agenda, which includes overturning and gutting Roe v. Wade to criminalize abortions.”

It is a “track record” as an evangelical foot soldier that prompted the Christofascist Heritage Foundation to appoint Oldham to the federal appellate court. His embrace of the Koch brothers’ mindset that federal government agencies, departments, and regulations are, for all intent and purposes, “illegitimate and illegal” is a value-added bonus to sate the greed of the bastard libertarian Kochs and their GOP ilk.

Just recently, a different Trump-Heritage appellate judge revealed exactly why he was appointed to the federal bench; he hates the idea of women’s choice and he loves the church he claims is being treated unfairly.  The Trump-Heritage appointee, some evangelical malcontent named James Ho sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the recently-confirmed Andrew Oldham is joining. In a case involving another Texas law requiring the cremation or proper (Christian) burials of “fetal remains,” a U.S. District Judge blocked its enactment because it imposed an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion access. It was a more than reasonable decision simply because “it [the law] created absolutely no benefit for women, while passing on substantial costs to patients and clinics.”

Texas evangelicals disagreed and claimed that forcing proper Christian fetal burials does not impose any extra expense or burden on anyone because the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered to bury fetal remains for free, or at reduced costs. However, when the plaintiffs, Whole Woman’s Health, served a subpoena on the Bishops requesting documents relating to its funding fetal burials for veracity, the church said no – they don’t have to prove anything because they are the Holy and infallible church.

In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court ruled that the lower court had to “suppress” the plaintiff’s subpoena and stop being mean to “the church.” In that ruling the Court assailed the plaintiffs, Whole Woman’s Health, for daring to “intimidate” the poor beleaguered church by requesting proof of the Catholic Bishops’ claim. The ruling also attacked the District Judge for his “religious insensitivity” of having the audacity to “rule against the Catholic Church on a Sunday morning when its members were almost surely in church.” Trump’s appointee, Ho, added that the district court judge was barbaric in “retaliating against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”

If anyone does not believe the reason “Mitch McConnell kept hundreds of vacant judicial seats open under President Barack Obama so the Senate Republicans could fill those seats” with evangelical far right ideologues, they are ridiculously naïve, if not stupid. As Kristine Lucius of The Leadership Conference noted:

Under McConnell and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, the record-breaking pace of hearings, committee votes and floor votes, and utter disregard for Senate norms and traditions on nominees, has been shameful. Trump is trying to take over the federal courts by nominating young extremists who are unfit to serve impartially.”

It is worth repeating that much of Trump’s damage can be reversed; tariffs can be lifted, environmental regulations can be reinstated, cuts to social programs can be halted, corporate tax cuts can be rescinded, and immigration atrocities can be stopped. However, there is nothing whatsoever any American, legislative body, or future administration can do to change the makeup of a federal judiciary packed with radical religious and far-right wing ideologues serving for life.

It is a sad state of affairs that the people are fundamentally ignorant of the coming disaster of a radical religious federal judiciary. But they will likely get a clue when their voting rights are restricted, LGBTQ rights are struck down, environmental protections are completely abolished, executive power is increased, campaign finance regulations are eliminated and when women are prohibited from making their own determination regarding their personal reproductive health and childbearing.

America is headed for a seriously rough time with a generation’s worth of evangelical conservative federal courts earning the theocratic Heritage Foundation’s mandate to decide what laws are constitutional. It is not going to matter one iota what a future Democratic president or Congress passes into law – any one of Trump’s radical religious courts can rule them unconstitutional and that will be the end of them. Moreover, no American should believe for any measure of Planck time that with a federal judiciary packed with anti-women’s rights crusaders, women are not going to suffer the wrath of Christofascists who are perilously close to running all three branches of what was created as a secular government.

Churches are fuming over being taxed by Republicans and Trump

There is no reason whatsoever to celebrate America these days; the concept of good news has all but vanished. In fact, it is highly likely that a fair number of Americans are mourning the demise of their nation as it existed for 239 years and see nothing but the relentless advance of corporate fascism and a bloodless theocratic coup d’état on the near horizon; many observers, including this author, believe the theocrats have taken over already. These are seriously bad days for America as a nation, and devastating for any citizen that embraced a secular democracy with liberties and freedom for all Americans regardless of race, religious affliction, or gender.

There was a bit of news recently that, although not necessarily good, is certainly worth celebrating if for no other reason than the religious right is up in arms over what they regard as an attack on their religious freedom. In addition, even more reason to marvel is that the attack came at the hands of Congressional Republicans and the religious right’s messianic hero Dumb Don Trump. This particular attack entails a little known “reform” in Trump’s highly touted GOP tax legislation that includes a first ever tax on churches and other non-profits. It is a brief “good time” moment in what is now a horrifically hideous country run by a fascist pig with theocrats and white supremacists supporting his regime.

To remark that the various church leaders are dumbfounded and irate over being taxed would be a monumental understatement. Literally hundreds of church leaders are struggling to comprehend why Republicans would dare treat them like every other American and business, and why their Republican facilitators stabbed them in the back in secret. Actually, since the GOP tax reform legislation was conceived and crafted in secret by the Heritage Foundation, and Republicans voted en masse to enrich the wealthy and corporations without even perusing that legislation, few in Congress were aware of the tax on “the church.”

However, this “tax outrage” is not the kind of tax regular people bemoan; it is a minor tax on the various freebies church and some non-profit organization’s employees receive. Still, the concept of religious organizations being required to contribute anything in the way of “a tax” has infuriated church leaders who vehemently insist that their tax exemption is “sacrosanct,” and non-negotiable.

Subsequently, over 600 churches, thus far, signed a petition demanding that Republicans repeal the tax immediately; because regardless what Jeff Sessions says about the Christian bible command to obey the government, the faithful say they are “exempt” from that particular bible passage like they are exempt from contributing anything of value to America.

The gist of the “hidden tax atrocity” simply requires “churches, hospitals, and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on some types of fringe benefits they provide their employees.”

As a seasonal tax professional and former minister, this author is well-acquainted with the ridiculous number of “tax-free benefits” church employees, especially members of the clergy, receive because they are “blessed” to live in a country that gives churches tens of billions annually as “theocratic welfare.”

The new tax will seem like more “secular persecution” to churches and their employees who are accustomed to special treatment due to their “deeply held faith.” Expecting them to pay taxes like their bible commands is an abomination, and is perceived as the secular government punishing them. It is irrelevant that the “persecution” came at the hands of Republicans and Trump; Trump’s evangelicals, in particular, are beyond incensed. They are not satisfied that the same tax bill “persecuting” them with a small tax also grants them the unconstitutional and unconditional freedom to campaign from the pulpit with the Trump government’s blessings.

That perceived persecution has incited over 600 churches, and some other greedy groups, to sign a petition demanding the Republicans’ tax be repealed.  The churches claim they “don’t need the hassle” of taxes or interacting with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or their silly tax forms. The vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of evangelical organizations, Galen Carey said:

There’s going to be huge headaches. The cost of compliance, especially for churches that have small staffs or maybe volunteer accountants and bookkeepers — we don’t need this kind of hassle.”

It is an affront to decency that Carey has the temerity to complain about “the cost” of obeying his evangelical bible’s command to pay taxes. It is a particularly egregious remark since churches receive tens-of-billions of free taxpayer dollars annually due to being exempt from taxation. Moreover, since Bush’s “faith-based initiatives,” they receive billions of taxpayer dollars in direct payments from the federal government because “faith.”

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) is joining evangelicals in complaining that their group may face a tax bill this year because of the Republican tax reform that Trump celebrated signing. The senior tax policy counsel for the group, Steven Woolf, predicted the faithful would force Congress and the Treasury to “stop the outrage.” Woolf said:

“A lot of people are just finding out about it and the more people find out about it, the more pressure there will be on Treasury and Congress to either delay implementation or consider changing this.”  

At least one Republican lawmaker is now promising to rescind the tax he just celebrated voting for because god – or some related nonsense. As previously mentioned, many groups are beyond outraged that they are expected to adhere to Jeff Sessions’ favorite scripture, Romans 13, that commands abject obedience to the government. The churches are particularly aggrieved because Republicans failed to get clearance from the religious right before passing tax reform that Trump signed. According to the crybaby chairperson of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, some malcontent named Mike Batts:

What we’re talking about is an income tax on the church. It’s absurd. The whole idea of tax exemption for nonprofit organizations that are doing charitable, religious and educational work is for them not to be on the same playing field when it comes to taxes, in order to incentivize the good work they do to make our society better.”

If Batts wasn’t an entitled religious cretin, he would understand that millions of Americans in jobs that “make our society better,” such as law enforcement, healthcare, education, disaster relief and the military pay taxes on all their earnings and employee benefits; and they don’t complain that they don’t understand how to do taxes.

Many of the 600 and counting churches demanding the tax’s abolition say  they are confused over how exactly the tax is supposed to work – because they have been exempt unlike the rest of the population. Churches want to know how they are supposed to calculate the value of “freebies” they include as compensation for their employees. Some openly wonder if the garages provided as part of clergy residences are now taxable, or if they can still “double dip” and avoid paying their fair share of tax.

It is worth reiterating ad nauseam that religious organizations (churches et al) already receive at least $82.5 billion annually from taxpayers, and that 2013 amount did not include the billions in faith-based initiative funding from taxpayers. In a fair country with a secular Constitution, churches would not be tax exempt; it is probably why the immutable word of god and Jesus in the Christian’s holy bible commands the religion’s adherents to pay taxes.

Although this is not a major story among the daily revelations that America is lurching towards an evangelical theocracy with a corrupt fascist incrementally decimating everything decent about America, it is worth enjoying for a minute. Of course the “faithful” will force Republicans to abolish the tax, and they will continue using Republicans to take complete control of all facets of the government. They will succeed, in large part, due to a curious fear among Americans, the media and Democrats of “offending” the faithful by resisting their bloodless coup d’état.

It is little consolation, but for people devoted to America as a secular representative democracy, they now have an “event” to look back on fondly and they had better enjoy it. It is the last time the religious will ever be “inconvenienced” by the government because it is likely there will never be a law passed without the express consent of the religious right theocrats running America.

White House preacher heavily influenced Trump’s decision to tear families apart

There is a damn good reason the Constitution’s Framers and Founding Fathers went to great lengths to prevent what they knew was an ever-present threat of religious fanatics taking over the U.S. government. Since even before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, Americans have been witnessing the greatest representation of the theocratic threat the Founders’ attempted to prevent because Trump has loving embraced radical Christian extremists and has given them authority over a broad range of issues related to domestic policy.

In the continuing saga of America’s transformation into an inherently barbaric theocracy, there was the revelation that the bastardized Christian fascists running the government played a pivotal role in directing Trump’s barbarous family separation policy. Although it is true there has been a tepid backlash to Trump’s brutal immigration policy by some Christian groups, the evangelical zealot running Trump’s White House Bible Study group has been, and still is, directing Trump’s administration according to his interpretation of the Christian bible, not the U.S. Constitution.

It looks very likely that J. Beauregard Sessions’ idea to use his Christian bible as justification for Trump’s policy of ripping children from their parents came by way of a theological edict from Trump’s White House Bible Study (WHBS) preacher. The evangelical cretin named Ralph Drollinger runs Capitol Ministries as well as an evangelical indoctrination program for the White House, Congress, and Trump’s Cabinet members. It is noteworthy that as reported by ThinkProgress, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request noted that taxpayers are paying for “significant staff time and resources (invested) in coordinating Christian bible studies every week,” with an inordinate amount of involvement by Trump’s DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who vehemently defended Trump’s family separation policy.

As reported by Andrew L. Seidel, the day prior to Sessions using the bible to defend Trump’s cruel child kidnapping crusade, preacher Drollinger’s bible lesson centered around “The Importance of Parenting and the Course of the Nation,” beginning with need to force “obedience to a nation’s laws” with the same cruel abuse as a good god-fearing parent.  The lesson included scriptural citations of Proverbs 28:4 and Romans 13:32 – the latter being the passage Sessions used to justify the tearing children from their parents. In fact, it is almost certain that Sessions jotted down some notes from Drollinger’s lesson verbatim because as the White House preacher has often boasted:

Jeff Sessions [will] go out the same day I teach him something and he’ll do it on camera. And I just think, man, these guys are faithful, available, and teachable.”

Obviously, because he has no expertise in anything of value to the people or the government, preacher Drollinger considers that his job does not entail advising or influencing Trump’s policies, it is manipulating them; and no members of Trump’s cabal are more easily manipulated thanSessions and aspiring preacher Mike Pence.

According to documents in the FOIA request, Drollinger provided the Trump cabal with the exact rationale supporting separating families using the same theological arguments “espoused in his previous Bible study entitled “What the Bible Says About Our Illegal Immigration Problem.” When Sessions was railed on for using the Christian bible to justify ripping families apart, Drollinger rushed to his defense with bible in hand. Drollinger defended Sessions with a “theological explanation of the child separation policy” from 2016 on the Capitol Ministries homepage. The “follower of Jesus” explained that there is “zero tolerance” for anything untoward or illegal in Trump’s America and losing ones children is an apropos price to pay for lawbreakers. Drollnger said:

It follows that when someone breaks the law of the land that they should anticipate that one of the consequences of their illegal behavior will be separation from their children.”

Like Sessions, Drollinger’s defense includes citing scripture about everyone following the law of the land, unless they are religious Republicans serving in Trump’s criminal organization. However, if they are refugees of color and seek asylum from abuse, Drollinger says god’s word justifies punishing the children of undocumented immigrants he insists “must suffer all the consequences of breaking the law.” Drollinger writes:

It is not overreaching to reason from this passage [Romans 13:1-7] that immigration laws, like all of a nation’s laws, should stem from a desire to protect the nation and its citizenry. That protection should deter a myriad of intrusions by illegals. God intends for Governments to bear the sword relative to enacting justice. They are to be an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. This means Government is sanctioned, bound, and responsible to punish those who break the law … including illegal immigration.”

However, Drollinger offers no mention of government vengeance for violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, Take Care Clause, or anti-nepotism laws committed by Trump, or several instances of Trump’s mendacious Cabinet members committing perjury under oath.

It is an atrocity that an evangelical maniac in the White House is “manipulating” the Trump administration to action despite a constitutional prohibition on religion influencing the government. If Democrats, the media, and American people were not so terrified of offending the “faithful,” the nation would not be facing a clear and present danger of a theocratic coup d’état. Moreover, although it is true there are some Christian groups opposed to Trump’s barbaric “zero tolerance” immigration policy, it is likely there are no small number of Trump’s evangelical acolytes clinging to the concept that their archaic bible does support tearing families apart – because they are the wrong color. This particular immigration issue is not about enforcing the law of the land. If that were the case Sessions, Pence, Trump, and several other Cabinet members would be sitting in a federal penitentiary. They did, in fact, violate 18 U.S. Code § 1621 that succinctly details the federal punishment for committing perjury under a “swear to god” oath.

No doubt there is plenty of blame to go around for Trump’s nasty “zero tolerance” immigration policy, and it is not unbelievable that Stephen Miller had a hand in convincing Trump that cruelty towards Hispanic children is a policy to be proud of implementing. However, a fair share of the blame lies at the feet of preacher Drollinger who has spent the past two years inculcating biblical inhumanity into the Trump cabal and defending the practice as “godly;” as if America is already an evangelical theocracy. Tragically, because far too many Americans still fail to see the impending doom of an extremist religious regime running the government, that dreaded theocracy is manipulating the most powerful office in the land; and all the while the people are mesmerized by Trump’s tweets and how often he hits the links at Mar-a-Lago.

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.

Evangelical Extremists Freak Out Over “Unholy” Yoga in Schools

It really is tragic that America is home to an inordinate number of both religious extremist and stupid people, and not solely because they installed an ignorant and corrupt fascist in the White House. Actually, one could comport a nation of ignoramuses and religious radicals if they kept to themselves, and if their Republican facilitators would cease pandering to what is a growing threat to the rest of the population. However, without the ridiculously stupid sect and religious extremist cult, Republicans would not be in power and America would not be in danger of becoming the West’s version of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

As has been the case since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, there is yet another in a long list of signs that the evangelical malcontents are crusading to make America great by attacking anything unrelated to advancing their filthy version of the religion. Religious extremist have once again attacked a public school over a program designed specifically to help students succeed and prosper. It is beyond question that the only “problem” with this specific “program” is that it does not entail imposing evangelical god-prayers or inculcating students with an Old Testament mindset as part of public education.

The outrage among some Christians in a Maryland public school district is the addition of a locally produced program in recorded video format known as the daily “Mindfulness Moment.” The program was created solely to  “help young students calm themselves both physically and mentally, and thereby help them focus on their schoolwork.” As an extension of the school’s daily announcements, “the students participate in a mini 6-10 minute mindfulness and yoga session to help them positively start off their day.”

As has occurred in a few other states, the stupid and the religious, a nasty combination in any situation, went ballistic at the idea of students not being forced to “focus on all things god.” Seriously, one comment on the school’s Facebook page demonstrates the epitome of stupid and religious extremism. The outraged “Christian” wrote:

“THIS IS COMPLETE LAST DAYS DECEPTION! There is nothing wrong with stretching, or being still to focus on your day, but yoga takes it another step further. There are spirits invited in by focusing on things not of God … there is an unholy Spirit behind it. If this is allowed in school, than (SIC) Jesus must be allowed to be enjoyed in school also.”

The furor prompted the school to set up an approval meeting with four local preachers; the school principal, the district superintendent, the school guidance counselor and two women leading the program attended to defend their effort to assist the students. It is likely that school officials were attempting to show the “faithful” that unlike in Sunday School, the children were not being compelled to listen to archaic mythos about god to frighten them into submission. The result was the school changed the word “yoga” to “stretching” to comfort the stupid Christians who complained because they believe “yoga” is an “unholy”  religion, and nearly as Satanic as meditation. It is noteworthy that meditation is mentioned often in “god’s immutable” word in the Christian bible.

To get an idea where the radically stupid faithful get the idea that yoga or meditation are unholy religions implemented to “invite unholy spirits” in, one of the four preachers monitoring the program issued a statement prior to preaching about how horribly dangerous yoga is. Daryl McCready is the pastor of SonRise Church, and he posted a statement about the observational experience on his church’s Facebook page. He wrote:

Our meeting went well and the Superintendent of the Board of Ed, the Principal of the school, the Guidance Counselor, and the two ladies leading the new program met with myself and the other three pastors. Everyone was kind and respectful of one another and the meeting went well. I am not sure yet what the result will be but they said they understood our concern. It was clear that everyone wanted the best for the children though we may differ about what that is.”

Despite eradicating the word “yoga” from the program to satisfy the preachers’ demands, McCready gave a sermon with a different tone about the “program,” or acknowledging that the school, principal, superintendent, and guidance counselor submitted to the will of the preachers who were terrified of the unholy word “yoga.” McCready spent no small amount of time “denouncing practices like yoga and reiki as teaching a false equivalence between humanity and divinity. Christians are being deceived!”

It is true Christians are being deceived and this author has spent the past two-and-a-half decades opining in print and digital media that as the Christian bible warns, false prophets (clergy) are deceiving the imbeciles under their control. This is not the first time evangelical zealots have raised holy Hell over the public schools they claim are using Satan’s religion yoga to destroy Christianity and crush the “holy spirit” children learn at home and in church.  If those evangelicals were not so ridiculously stupid they would comprehend how absurd their claims are about an exercise.

Yoga, like reiki, is not a religion. And there damn sure is no stinking divinity involved in either practice. Yoga is an exercise with several minor variations according to the particular “style” being practiced, and in twenty-plus years as a practicing yogin, this author can attest that divinity” never entered the picture. And reiki is a well-documented pseudoscience, like chiropractic therapy, with no measurable, medical or scientific value whatsoever; except whatever placebo effect easily manipulated ignoramuses experience.

It is noteworthy that this opposition borne of ignorance and extreme religiosity is not shared by all faiths, including Christians. There is an entire network of Christians who practice yoga and this author personally knows two Christian pastors who are dedicated yogins. One of the preachers explained that even in her congregation, ignorant people are easily swayed by extremists they see on television leading them to criticize her for being a yoga practitioner. Obviously, this issue is the purview of a minority of extremists who curiously control much of the public agenda because politicians are too frightened to dare challenge a small religious minority’s power over the majority.

Look, if radical evangelical parents do not want their progeny participating in “yoga,” then they should take their children and enroll them in the nearest Christian madrasa, but at their own expense. If that is not acceptable, then they should humiliate their children by forcing them to explain that they are forbidden from participating in yoga because of the scary unholy spirits. However, either of those options will not force the rest of the students to stop participating or compel the school to allow the evangelicals abolish yoga entirely and force all students to “enjoy Jesus in school.”

This incident is a portent of the state of America going forward with an administration Hell-bent on allowing a radical religious minority to control all aspects of public life. It is worth restating that if America was not home to an inordinate number of stupid people and religious extremists, the nation would not be lurching towards a theocratic coup d’état and Trump would not be living in a place a dirty fascist has no right visiting.

“Wrong” Kind of Christian Chaplain Fights Back and Rescinds Resignation

As America continues its abominable spiral towards a dominionist theocracy, the news that some members of the House were angry at Speaker Paul Ryan for forcing out the “wrong” kind of Christian as House Chaplain was somewhat surprising. It is not shocking that Ryan forced the “wrong” kind of Christian out of his position; only an ignoramus is unaware that there is a “purity” movement in the religious Republican movement. What is curious is that both Democrats and some Republicans were “upset” as if Ryan’s move took them by surprise.

The minor furor last week was over Ryan unilaterally “firing” the Reverend Patrick Conroy, the highly-respected Jesuit House chaplain and warmly-regarded spiritual counselor to members of Congress. There are conflicting reports, and conjecture about why Ryan forced Reverend Conroy out, but it seems relatively clear what prompted Ryan’s action. Unwilling at first to cause any more conflict, the obedient servant Reverend Conroy succumbed to Ryan’s pressure and submitted his resignation.

That action vexed a bipartisan group of House members who demanded that Ryan explain his justification for what is certainly a rare move. In a letter to Ryan, the bipartisan group of House representatives wrote:

We are seeking additional information regarding your decision to request the resignation of Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the House of Representatives. The sensitive nature of this situation requires a description of the process followed to arrive at the decision and a justification for that decision.”

One Republican who was particularly revolted at Ryan’s action, Representative Peter King (R-NY), told reporters:

“To be the first House chaplain to be removed in the history of Congress, in the middle of a term, raises serious questions. I think we deserve more of an explanation of why. Was there political pressure?

To answer Mr. King’s question; of course there was  “pressure,. But it was not necessarily “political pressure;” it was theocratic pressure. And it surrounds two specific “incidents” that devotees of America’s bastardized version of Christianity are not going to comport in their Christian Dominionist theocracy.

However now, the Reverend Conroy is not going to comport being “pressured out” and on Thursday he rescinded his resignation. As Conroy noted, in agreement with a gang of Democrats and Republicans, he did not do anything wrong and expects any action taken against him to be done correctly; no matter the outrage from evangelicals for being the “wrong kind of Christian.

Ryan and the Republicans’ evangelical caucus took umbrage at Reverend Conroy’s prayer appealing for members of Congress to follow the “structure” of the nation that guarantees equity for all Americans; including those who are “struggling.”  It is noteworthy that Mr. Conroy was also appealing to members of Congress, primarily religious Republican members, to follow mythological Jesus Christ’s teaching to help all people, especially “those who continue to struggle.”

After a few years on the job, Reverend Conroy was aware that Republicans intended on heaping more wealth on the rich at the expense of “those who are struggling” under the guise of “tax reform.” He likely hoped a “prayerful” appeal might convince some religious Republicans to harken to Christ’s teachings about helping those who are struggling. It was a valiant effort, but Republicans are never going to consider the plight of any American who is not rich and they damn sure are not going to abide a Chaplain appealing to them as Christians.

It is glaringly apparent that Paul Ryan and his heretical evangelical cohorts are apostates to the “Christianity” Jesus preached; they are fierce adherents of “prosperity gospel” that particularly targets “those who are struggling” to enrich the already wealthy. Even atheists and agnostics are likely aware that the mythical Jesus of the Christian bible spent the majority of his time preaching that helping those who are struggling at any cost is paramount to being a “follower of Christ.”

The prayer that offended Paul Ryan and his band of evangelical heretics occurred during last November’s tax reform debate and included an appeal for members of Congress to be fair and consider the plight of all Americans – including those who are suffering. Reverend Conroy prayed thusly:

“Bless the members of this assembly as they set upon the work of these hours, of these days.  Help them to make wise decisions in a good manner and to carry their responsibilities steadily, with high hopes for a better future for our great nation.

As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Ryan was irritated over the prayer and bluntly told Reverend Conroy, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”

If a Christian prayer for fairness for Americans who “continue to struggle” is wrong, then mythological Jesus Christ was a criminal of epic proportions. If Paul Ryan or any prosperity gospel devotees had ever opened their New Testament, they would be well aware that Reverend Conroy was not being political – he was being a “follower of Christ” who commanded his disciples to teach and preach about helping those who are struggling.

Ryan said  that “a few” Republicans complained that they wanted “a more active Pastor.” No doubt a few Republicans complained that Reverend Conroy prayed like a “Christian” by appealing to Republicans to consider the plight of “those who are struggling.”

It is noteworthy that he also did the unthinkable in the GOP’s aspiring Christian theocracy by inviting a Muslim to offer a prayer. However, it is almost certain the real issue was the Christian clergyman calling for consideration for those who are struggling – something that is anathema to Republican evangelicals promoting the heretical “prosperity gospel.” It is “gospel” that uses Christianity to justify living to attain “personal empowerment, personal wealth, and personal health.” Prosperity gospel is, no matter what Christian cult one subscribes, contradictory to everything the religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ, preached incessantly while he was alleged to live as a man on Earth.

Although it damn sure should be as unconstitutional to employ a “House Chaplain” as it is to designate a national day of prayer, or claim all Americans “trust in god,” or pledge allegiance to a flag “under god,” it is an abomination that a chaplain was forced out because he was the wrong kind of Christian. And by dog, that is the real reason Ryan pushed Reverend Conroy to “resign.” Because since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, the religious right has pushed its agenda down the American people’s throats with valuable assistance from that dirty lying sinner Donald Trump, his equally despicable underling Mike “preacher” Pence, and the nasty Republican evangelical caucus.

It is worth noting that Republicans who claim Christianity as the be all, end all to the world’s woes were vicious in a months-long set of attacks on Pope Francis because, like Reverend Conroy, he followed his namesake’s teachings and appealed for attention to income inequality and “those who continue to struggle.” Those same religious Republicans love the Pope and Catholic clergy when they support the GOP effort to control and dominate women, but praying for fairness for “those who are struggling” crosses a “prosperity gospel” line they will not accept without a fight.

As Representative Steve King said, Ryan ousting Reverend Conroy in the middle of the term, the first time in American history, does raise serious questions, but he surely knows all the answers. Reverend Conroy is the wrong kind of Christian and he committed a major sin by praying for so-called Christian Republicans to do something they consider an atrocity – give consideration to Americans who are struggling.

There is another message for Americans who still refuse to see the creeping evangelical theocracy threatening this country, especially Americans who are Christians. When the evangelical fundamentalists take control of the government, something they are on a crusade to complete by 2020, there will be no safe “Christian.” If any American doesn’t believe it, consider the plight of the “wrong” kind of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or any country controlled by religious extremists. The only difference in America, at least for now, is that the “wrong kind of Christian” serving as House Chaplain can rescind a forced resignation and avoid being beheaded.

Billy Graham On Display in the Capitol Is a National Disgrace

One of the primary reasons Americans are fundamentally unaware that their nation and their freedoms are being whittled away by theocrats posing as Republicans is because of sheer cowardice. Mainstream media, Democrats, various pundits, and most commentators are absolutely terrified of attributing Republican atrocities like attacks on women, gays, contraception, Jews and other religions, and the Constitution’s equal rights provisions to one religion. Specifically it is the religion comprised of the cults adhering to the bastardized form of Christianity that falls under the umbrella term “evangelicals.”

Now there is another purely Republican religious atrocity being unchallenged and although it does not necessarily inflict harm in typical religious Republican fashion, it epitomizes just how deep theocracy is entrenched in government.

This particular little screed is over the lack of outrage at an honored privilege being bestowed, at taxpayer expense, on a private citizen simply because he was a Christian preacher. Billy Graham has spent decades adversely influencing at least two generations of Americans while not providing any contribution or service whatsoever to the nation. Still, House Speaker Paul  Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are honoring Graham for his “distinguished service to the nation.”

Graham died last week so Ryan and McConnell sent a letter to Graham’s evangelical extremist son for permission to honor his dead father in the Capitol Rotunda. McConnell and Ryan’s letter said:

“Congress joins the American people in expressing our sincerest condolences to you on the passing of the Rev. Billy Graham.

In recognition of Rev. Graham’s long and distinguished serve to the nation, it is our intention to ask the House of Representatives and the Senate to permit that his remains lie in honor in Rotunda of the Capitol.

With your approval, we will move forward with these arrangements, so that Americans have this opportunity to pay their respects to Rev. Graham before he is laid to rest.”

Graham will be only the fourth private citizen to “lie in honor” in recognition of his “contributions to the nation.” However, even Paul Ryan failed to identify any of Graham’s  “contributions to the nation” in an official Speaker of the House “press release“ announcing the atrocious waste of taxpayer money; no matter the amount.  The three other ‘honorees’ were private citizens who actually contributed to the nation either defending the Capital with their lives, or in Rosa Parks case, making a stand for civil rights the Constitution guaranteed to all Americans. Where the two Capital police officers and Ms. Parks contributed a service the nation that benefits all Americans,  Graham contributed to his Baptist religion; and his own incredibly substantial bank account.

Now, in all fairness there is something Graham has contributed to the nation, but it cannot possibly be regarded as anything other than horrific and contrary to the U.S. Constitution. For all intents and purposes, Graham is the dirty bastard who spawned the religious right movement, myriad charlatans posing as televangelists, and the bigoted evangelical extremist movement decimating America today. He also spawned that piece of work Franklin Graham who spreads hate the way mythological Jesus Christ is rumored to have spread love. It would be unfair to equate Graham’s hateful son with old Billy’s legacy, but old Billy was in no universe contributing anything resembling distinguished service to the nation. He was an enemy of the nation in most respects.

There are myriad reasons Congress is dead wrong in honoring a cretin like Graham, but none more so than he is responsible for the U.S. Congress violating the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment. It was Graham who, in 1952, convinced Congress to “pass legislation establishing religion” and a nationwide religious practice by federal government fiat. Graham insisted that despite the 1st Amendment’s prohibition on Congress legislating religion, he wanted a federal law mandating that the president of the United States “declares an annual National Day of Prayer to see the leaders of our country kneeling before almighty God in prayer.” (author bold)

That one piece of legislation set in motion all manner of religious atrocities that have only increased to the point that theocrats following in Graham’s footsteps are not only fleecing millions of Americans, they are firmly ensconced in running the government. That is just one reason Ryan and McConnell giving a place of honor to an unAmerican preacher is an abomination; particularly in a secular democracy informed by a Constitution without any mention of god, Jesus, Baptists, Christians, bible, prayer, evangelists or revivals.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell protesting the Republicans’ decision to honor a Baptist preacher. They wrote:

The fact is that Graham lived his life in service to his evangelical Christian religion, and the bible that he believed was an infallible reference manual. He placed the bible far above the Constitution. He was known as a soul-winner and lauded as a “Christian superstar preacher.” What influence he had on this country and its government was purely religious, not civic in nature, and that religious influence was uniformly regressive. While it would be appropriate for evangelical Christian institutions to honor him in this manner, it is not appropriate for Congress and our federal government to do so.

Billy Graham believed fervently in Christianity and people listened to him. But that is not worthy of praise or a spot in the U.S. Capitol, however temporary. Graham in his own way sought to undo the only sure way to guarantee freedom of religion: a government free from religion. Graham is on the wrong side of history. You will be, too, if you authorize this unearned honor.”

Of course the Republicans ignored the concerns of FFRF like they ignore the U.S. Constitution because they are an integral part of the conspiracy to “undo the only sure way to guarantee freedom of religion.” If that were not the case, then Republicans would have never considered, not for any Planck-time, allowing a preacher to lie in a place of honor reserved for Americans who actually contributed to the general good of the nation; especially when that preacher has inflicted a world of damage on the nation.

God Is Not A Surrogate For Sane Gun Measures

The Florida legislature did a fine job distinguishing itself as a dispassionate group of cretins this week by refusing to debate a ban on the kind of weapon used in the Valentine’s Day Massacre about a week ago. Florida Republicans failed to give the state’s students a modicum of consideration concerning their safety, but they succeeded in declaring that pornography is a public health risk to Floridians. That action alone should inform exactly what the Florida legislature’s priorities are regarding public safety. To further distinguish itself as out of touch with reality, the legislature’s lower chamber came through for the terrified massacre survivors with an action that will have no effect on public safety or school gun violence – invoking god.

In an overwhelming majority vote, the Florida house passed legislation putting god in all Florida schools because of the recent gun massacre and legislative inaction on school safety.  The final vote count was 97-10 and the numbers elicited a standing ovation from proud members of the Florida House.

The bill, H.B. 839, requires all public schools in the state to post a sign, “In God We Trust, in a conspicuous place” to bring a little light into the Sunshine state’s public schools and administration buildings. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Kimberly Daniels, is a Jacksonville Democrat who operates her own global Christian ministry and said the state’s public schools needed some god signs in light of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gun massacre last week, and the legislature’s inaction on gun safety.

No doubt the massacre survivors will feel comforted that their representatives couldn’t be bothered to give them some consideration in restricting assault weapons, but they could damn sure declare that porn is dangerous and then vote to force a stupid god sign on the schools. Ms. Daniels explained why Florida desperately needed god signs in every school after a mass shooting. She said:

He [apparently god] is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white. He is the light, and our schools need light in them like never before.”

Daniels spoke directly to the school shooting and admitted that it’s no secret that the state has gun issues that must be addressed. She voted to move the assault weapon ban to the House floor for debate, but she was on the losing side – so she naturally thought the alternative is a god sign. The idea of substituting a “god sign” for action on assault weapons cannot be encouraging for Florida students reaching out to their representatives for help in making schools safe; particularly when those politicians are feigning regard for the students’ “hearts” and the public’s health threat from pornography. Daniels explained what is really important to aid the students.

The real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart. We cannot put god in a closet when the issues we face are bigger than us.”

Ms. Daniels also talked about video games that train children to become virtual assassins, and that things are getting so bad that maybe people will finally “come to realize that problems are much bigger than politics.”

So apparently when the only Americans capable of putting the brakes on the NRA gun proliferation crusade fail to protect the population, because that problem is “bigger than politics,” they appeal to god. It sounds suspiciously like every insipid Republican calling for “thoughts and prayers” after every mass shooting, and it is exactly like every stinking religious right sycophant blaming school violence on the lack of god, bible and prayer in public schools.

This god business as a prophylactic against gun violence is just a monumental abomination, particularly so coming from a Democrat. For dog’s sake, putting up god signs is not going to stop angry white people from using firearms to kill innocents anyplace, much less in public schools. Perhaps Ms. Daniels, like no small number of evangelical fanatics, fails to recall that there were god signs, god books (bibles), god images (crosses), and all manner of “heavenly” icons in plain sight in the two Christian churches ravaged by gun violence. And it is beyond refute that those gun victims put all their trust in their god while they were in their god’s alleged houses; and yet they were still viciously massacred.

One of the 10 representatives to vote against an unconstitutional measure actually condemned the bill for exactly the right legal reason; it violates the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Separation Clauses.  Representative Carlos G. Smith said on Twitter what should have informed every member of the Florida House’s vote on the god sign bill.

Let’s keep a clear separation between church + state. Forcing our public schools to post “In God We Trust” in a conspicuous place is inappropriate. I don’t care if it was a Democrat who sponsored the bill. I vote based on core values, not party lines.”

Mr. Smith is right, of course, about the unconstitutionality of legislating god in public places, especially in schools. But he would have been “more right” if he had also condemned the god signage as surrogate for action on assault weapons, which is what this ‘in god we trust’ business is really all about. It is also another dangerous step in forcing religion on the public by legislative fiat, and it is despicable for using the gun massacre as cover for an unconstitutional action advancing theocracy.

The survivors of the school massacre have an abundance of reasons to be incensed at their Florida representatives. It was insulting enough that the legislature refused to consider debating a ban on the kind of weapon used in the shooting to stop a clear and present public health risk, while officially declaring that pornography is a real serious health threat to Florida residents. But overwhelmingly voting to force schools to post god signs “to address issues that are bigger than politics” is beyond insulting. It is a personal affront to the survivors and the victims’ families; many who already trusted in a god while an angry man with an assault weapon slaughtered their friends and teachers.

Image: Patheos

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.

GOP Education Bill Gives Religious Bigots License To Discriminate

Republicans have had a field day with a rubber stamp in the White House, and besides handing the treasury to the rich and corporations, they have handed social and domestic policy over to bigots under the guise of protecting religious liberty. And it is noteworthy that they have acted stealthily while the happy fascist in the Oval keeps the people mesmerized with social media distractions.

Last week House Republicans introduced a “massive” 542-page “higher education” bill that gives bigots steeped in evangelical fundamentalism a free pass to discriminate if they do so according to their deeply-held religious beliefs and part of their religious practices. The bill, H.R. 4508, authored by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), contains a pair of provisions that “enables discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” without saying it is legal to violate the 14th Amendment on religious grounds. By not specifically mentioning sexual orientation or gender identity the Republicans left room for religious fanatics to discriminate against any group they choose.

The inaptly named bill, “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education” Reform (PROSPER Act) gives the impression that Trump’s America creates opportunities for Americans, but like nearly everything else in Trump’s America, it is a gift to evangelical bigots. Don’t believe it? In a section titled “Campus Access for Religious Groups” a provision guarantees that students can be discriminated against if the bigotry is founded on “religious beliefs or religious standards of conduct.

The offending provision states:

None of the funds made available under the Act may be provided to any public institution of higher education that denies to a religious student or organization any right, benefit or privilege afforded to other students or organization because of their religious beliefs, practices, speech, membership standards or standards of conduct of the religious student or organization.”

What that really means is any person or any group can discriminate against anyone based on a deeply-held religious belief and their religion’s standard practices without repercussions from the “place of higher learning” or state policy forbidding discrimination; it obviously neuters the 14th Amendment to sate religious bigots.

It is yet another Republican religious license to discriminate that taxpayers and tuition-paying students will have to fund and like it; it is how theocratic governments operate and Americans better get used to it.

Prior to this GOP theocratic legislation, the only way to prevent blatant discrimination was by withholding funding from institutions of learning, or by denying religious organizations campus funding for violating nondiscrimination policies they are obliged to uphold as recipients of free money. That concept is unacceptable to religious Republicans and their radical evangelical supporters. So they inserted language allowing the free flow of campus funding to evangelical bigots so they can discriminate against whatever kind of person they regard are “undesirable.”

Apparently there have been institutions of higher learning and governments that have withheld funding for groups that reject LGBTQ students’ membership or participation because “those kind of people violate the religious tenets of the group.” Despite non-discrimination policies at higher-learning institutions and the state and the federal government, the religious groups expect to be funded like every other campus organization that adheres to the U.S. Constitution and campus non-discrimination policies. With this hideous abomination of a bill, Republicans are ensuring that taxpayers and tuition-paying students will have to support bigoted religious groups whether they like it or whether it violates their humanitarian beliefs that discrimination is vile and unconstitutional.

Another section of the “PROSPER Act” protects universities that encourage and enact blatantly discriminatory policies with language virtually mirroring the religious Republicans “First Amendment Defense Act.” That “Act” is a federal Republican license to violate the 14th Amendment with impunity by protecting any businesses and organizations that refuses to serve LGBTQ people; it is the religious bigots’ version of the former Confederacy’s “whites only” laws and religious Republicans love it.  That provision states:

No government entity shall take any adverse action against an institution of higher education that receives funding under title IV, if such adverse action… has the effect of prohibiting or penalizing the institution for acts or omissions by the institution that are in furtherance of its religious mission or are related to the religious affiliation of the institution.”

Some of what religious Republicans call adverse actions to prevent discrimination are:

Denial or threat of denial of funding, including grants, scholarships, or loans; denial or threat of denial to access to facilities or programs; withholding or threat to withhold licenses, permits, certifications, accreditation’s, contracts, tax-exempt status or exemptions; or any other penalty or denial, or threat of such other penalty or denial of an otherwise available benefit.

The two provisions combined mean that institutions of higher learning cannot legally enforce their own non-discrimination policies, and states cannot enforce state or federal discrimination laws on offending schools. This hate-policy is typical of Virginia Foxx who said in 2015 after the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality that it was a threat to the rights of religious bigots and their organizations. She pledged at the time to “do everything in my power to defend these rights;” she followed through with a religious license to discriminate tucked into an education bill.

These religious impositions legalizing discrimination are a growing trend now that the religious right co-owns the federal government. And as the folks over at the Human Rights Campaign noted, this particular “higher education bill is rife with other troubling aspects that should concern both LGBTQ students and all other students.” It is a continuation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ effort to dismantle protections for victims of campus sexual assault targeting women and endemic in her crusade to use the Department of Education to “advance the kingdom of god.”

Since Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration there have been nonstop attacks on the rights of Americans, primarily women and members of the gay community, founded on evangelical fundamentalism. And those attacks are always justified as promoting religious freedoms despite they violate the U.S. Constitution; something that should horrify any American who still thinks they live in a free democratic society. Americans’ equal rights are being whittled away by religious Republicans and it is a tragedy that there is absolutely nothing any American can, or is willing to, do to stop the rush towards theocracy. For dog’s sake, most Americans are too afraid to even whisper that all of the Republican attacks on equality are founded on America’s bastardized version of Christianity and it’s exactly why the religious right is running the government.