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.

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.

Image: Patheos

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

Roy Moore’s Win is a Symptom of the Radical Evangelical Voter Plague

Something happened on Tuesday that epitomizes everything wrong with America, and this isn’t just about some conservative Christian malcontent  or criminal conspirator posing as a politician; it is about a plague in the electorate. The real plague destroying this country is the people who consistently elect lawless individuals who are either employed to do the bidding of special interests over the people, or they refuse to adhere to the laws of the land; particularly “the” law of the land the U.S. Constitution. Alabama candidate for Senate Roy Moore is the personification of every one of those “plagued” voters sick dreams and desires.

Likely, no small number of Americans delighted in the results of Alabama’s special election to replace Jeff Sessions because the wild extremist Trump backed lost. However, no sane American is celebrating bigoted, and disgraced former judge, Roy Moore’s victory. More likely they are dumbfounded that Alabama voters gave a victory to a radical evangelical extremist who had to be removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice because he refuses to acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land.  Moore acknowledges “laws,” but they are Old Testament laws as interpreted by Roy Moore.

This is kind of the freak-of-nature Alabama Republicans want representing them in the United States Senate after he takes the “so help me god” oath to support and uphold the U.S. Constitution. Moore has taken that oath at least twice in the past and like Trump he violated it with great zeal and even greater support from radical evangelical extremists.

Roy Moore is a Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, Joe Arpaio, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee kind of freakoid encapsulated in one dangerous human being; the kind of human being Alabama Republicans want representing their interests in the U.S. Senate.

He is more evangelical extremist than Pence, Palin, Cruz and Sessions, and as opposed to the U.S. Constitution as Trump, Sessions, Arpaio and Huckabee. Moore is the kind of “politician” more than just Alabama voters are desperate  to see in important leadership positions. What happened in Alabama is a portent of what is happening more often across nation; voters opting for lawless evangelical extremists. It is precisely what happened November past and it appears to be just beginning.

It is stunning, really, that two times in 13 years Roy Moore was removed as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice because he believes “There is a higher law that we’re bound to recognize [than the U.S. Constitution]. It’s my duty to recognize that.” This is the kind of Republican that more conservatives are flocking to and any American who isn’t horrified is likely ignorant of the threat or a radical evangelical extremist.

When Moore first ran afoul of the Constitution, he not only garnered widespread support among evangelical voters, he was supported by establishment Republicans. One of Moore’s advocates during the humiliating “Ten Commandment fiasco” was then-governor Fob James who came to Moore’s defense and reiterated one of the Moore’s religious arguments that ultimately got him thrown off the bench. Parroting one of Moore’s reasons for refusing to adhere to federal court orders, James said:

To strip the Ten Commandments from the courtroom is a violation of the United States Constitution.” James also “threatened to use the force of arms if anyone tried to remove the Ten Commandments or ‘judge-initiated’ prayers in any of Moore’s courtrooms.”

Moore was finally suspended off the Alabama Supreme Court. But he still refused  to acknowledge that he or his god’s laws do not supersede the U.S. Constitution; or that the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of the law. Moore repeated his lawlessness 11 years later and had to be suspended again; this time permanently for refusing to follow a Federal Court order.

His final suspension was for following Joe Arpaio’s lead and virtually saying “fuck you” to a United States Federal Judge who ordered him to abide by the Constitution and the High Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. It has been less than a year since Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary permanently suspended Moore for his unconstitutional directive to Alabama judges: “stop complying with [legally] binding federal law.”

Moore believes that because Obergefell afforded same-sex couples the same Constitutional equal rights as heterosexuals, Alabama judges could nullify the ruling based on Moore’s religion and assertion that federal courts have no authority to enforce Supreme Court rulings that Alabama bigots’ object to.

In typical evangelical fashion, Moore claimed he was being persecuted and responded to his suspension by Alabama’s nine-member Court of the Judiciary by playing the martyr and attacking the groups he claimed did not have 14th Amendment rights. Moore said:

“This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as chief justice of the Supreme Court because of [my] outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda.

As the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen rightly asserted:

Roy Moore doesn’t know the difference between being a judge and being a preacher. He thinks his religious beliefs trump his obligations under the law, and that’s a dangerous thing.”

It is also a “dangerous thing” that Alabama voters believe Moore is worthy of a seat in the U.S. Senate. The tragedy is that it isn’t just Alabama voters and it’s something that sane Americans ignore at their own peril. Remember, these evangelical extremists like Moore, Pence, Sessions and Cruz completely reject everything in their Christian bible except Old Testament “mean god” edicts. It is almost certainly why Alabama voters gave Moore a victory and a fairly certain Senate seat. If the trend continues, Moore’s victory informs the atrocity in November may have been the warm-up for the horrors to come.

Of course there are always “fringe” lunatics running for office and they certainly have devotees championing their cause, but over the past seven years those fringe candidates have been elected to high office more often than not. Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Ted Cruz and many others represent the ‘mildest’ form of radical evangelical extremists. And although Trump is a sinner by biblical standards, he depends on advisors and counselors to put him right with the radical evangelical extremists’ agenda; one he has supported dutifully since his poorly attended inauguration.

It should be a wake-up call to sane voters that the extremist Trump supported in Alabama’s special election was not fanatical, or radically evangelical, enough for Alabama’s Republican base. Roy Moore represents the base. Whether it is his intent to “serve a higher law,” impose religious tests for politicians who aren’t evangelicals, or deny Constitutional rights to non-heterosexuals, Alabama voters wanted another radical evangelical extremists imposed on the government.

The problem is it isn’t just Alabama voters or Trump would not be in the White House with an evangelical cabal running his administration.  Now it appears that cabal will get another radical evangelical extremist and America will take another step closer to theocracy; all while too many Americans are laser-focused on Trump’s Twitter activity.

Military Chaplain Warns That Serving the Constitution Is Serving Satan

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

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

Hernandez posted an article on BarbWire and wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: U.S. Defense Department

Pat Robertson’s Christian Network Is Trump’s New Propaganda Outlet

 

Apparently Donald Trump is dissatisfied with Fox News, Breitbart, and Twitter as his primary propaganda outlets crucial to push his fascist agenda, so he is reaching out to an organization with much more experience at propagandizing Americans and spreading lies. Of course the widely unpopular Trump did not have many options available, but he does have a reliably despicable group happy and ready to do his bidding for an entirely self-serving reason. Unfortunately for the people of this country, Trump’s choice is yet another sign that America is on a path towards being controlled by an evangelical theocracy.

Unlike every democratic leader on the planet, Trump has spent the entirety of his time on the national stage demonizing the national media as “America’s greatest enemy;” not unlike the faithful claiming Satan as their god’s greatest adversary.  In Trump’s fascist mind, the media are “enemies” because they report facts as they happen; it’s what Trump labels “fake news.”

It is because the media has used Trump’s own words in fair and accurate reporting that prompted him to threaten creation of his own news network. He desperately needs an established organization to validate every fantastical utterance from his mouth as if they issued forth from the biblical god.  As it turns out, there is already an established network-in-waiting to do what the real media refuses to do and tout everything Trump does as good and godly. It is precisely what anyone with a brain expects from Pat Robertson’s evangelical Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) to do to promote theocracy, portray Trump as godly.

In particular, a partnership between the lying Trump and a CBN program, “Faith Nation” is being heralded as “a faith-based alternative to the mainstream media as well as a mouthpiece for an unfairly maligned administration to get out its ‘true’ message.” In Faith Nation’s premiere episode, hosts David Brody and Jenna Browder introduced the pro-Trump “news program” and immediately hewed to a Trump mainstay – media is fake, deliberately misleading, and can’t be trusted.

“In an age when there’s so much mistrust in the mainstream media, Americans are looking to news outlets like CBN News — and this administration is looking our way, too.”

This partnership is nothing to scoff at, and cannot be underestimated in the danger it portends for the nation’s imperiled democracy. Yes it is despicable and demonstrates how desperate Trump is to reach out to an apocalyptical faith-based “evangelical news outlet” to save his criminal administration, but it is also inherently dangerous. As noted in Vox, when Trump sat down with Hellfire-and-brimstone purveyor Pat Robertson a couple of weeks ago, the tone of the “softball” interview and embarrassing love-fest between the two confidence men informed that, “the intersection of faith, news, and propaganda make it one of the Trump administration’s most potent — and dangerous — mouthpieces.”

What makes the partnership extraordinarily dangerous is the increasing willingness of Trump to use his appeal with the evangelical malcontent class to delegitimize the media and the federal government from two directions; as inherently untrustworthy and now “implicitly ungodly.” It is likely why just recently Trump pandered to his nasty evangelical base when he took to Twitter and  tweeted, out of the blue, that “In America we don’t worship government, we worship god.

Trump’s pandering to the faithful at the same time his new evangelical propaganda network was doing an “exclusive piece about bible study for Trump’s Cabinet members” was no coincidence and likely planned well in advance. The Faith Nation’s special White House correspondent Jennifer Wishon’s “faith exclusive” report about the White House’s weekly bible study group was “explicitly designed to cast Trump and his administration as divinely ordained.

Wishon gave special attention to the Mike Pence-hired biblical leader, Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries’ shame and his unbelievably bizarre comparison of Trump’s administration to Old Testament biblical characters. Ms. Wishon told her gullible audience that:

In [Vice President Mike] Pence, Drollinger sees many similarities to biblical figures like Joseph, Mordecai and Daniel — all men who rose to the No. 2 position in [biblical] governments at different times in history. … Like others, Drollinger compares President Trump to biblical strongman Samson.”

As an aside, it’s doubtless that Trump is furious he was not compared to biblical strongman god almighty, but not quite furious enough to risk alienating his evangelical base by saying out loud what he believes in his narcissistic black heart; that he is comparable to god or at the very least is “a god.

Of course it is obvious that by using a fake (religious) news outlet like Faith Nation, coupled with Trump enabling its religious sophistry, he is pandering to evangelical fanatics. That pandering includes giving the evangelical “propaganda network” exclusive “open door” access to the White House to more conveniently spread pro-Trump propaganda. It is a calculated means of “destabilizing the very idea of truth.

As noted in a recent special report by Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss of the Institute of Modern Russia, Trump is following closely in the footsteps of his love-interest Vladimir Putin. The two journalists argue convincingly that Trump is using Putin’s tactics “that are central to the Kremlin’s diplomatic aims in Russia’s ‘misinformation’ war and use of blatantly fake news. The aim is not so much to persuade (as in classic public diplomacy) or to earn credibility, but to sow confusion and suspicion via conspiracy theories and to proliferate falsehoods.”

In Trump’s case the falsehood he and the Christian Broadcast Network are spreading is that only Trump tells the truth; the conspiracy theory is that mainstream media is not only untrustworthy, but ungodly. And, as is always the case with religious and fascist propaganda throughout history, if they repeat a lie long and loud enough, eventually greater numbers of people will believe it is true and offer their unconditional support. Unfortunately for a secular nation, that unconditional support can reach a fevered pitch and as Nazi Germany demonstrated, even “good people” can be caught up in religious fervor and commit horrendous atrocities. And like Nazi Germany, it all started by portraying the media as “ungodly and the enemy” and the fascist leader as the sole source of “godly” truth.

Many Americans are wont to blow off warnings about the threat of a theocratic cabal taking over America, but at this point they aren’t confused or ignorant, they are blind idiots. Trump is a lying sinner, but his religious right fanatics are true believers and his underlings are using their Cabinet level positions to “advance the kingdom of god” and preach that the Constitution’s Separation Clause is patently unconstitutional.

Now the White House is using apocalyptic Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network as its premiere propaganda outlet to portray the media as of Satan (ungodly) and Trump as America’s messiah ordained by the biblical god. That is not a conspiracy theory, it is not fear mongering, not fake news, and not ungodly; it is straight from the lying evangelicals’ lips and gleefully sanctioned by their lying demigod Donald Trump.

Vatican Attacks America’s Evangelical Push Toward Theocracy

 

It isn’t often that any secular humanist can find a point of agreement with a religion, especially a religion with a sordid history of inhumanity in the name of god. Although there have been what appear to be reasons for hope with an alleged “liberal” Pope heading up the Catholic Church, it always turns out to be more of the same despite some hints things are going to be different. Last week was different, though, because in a “Vatican-approved and reviewed” article being hailed as “explosive,” two of Pope Francis’ closest allies lashed out with religious fervor at “the spurious alliance between politics and religious fundamentalism in the United States.”

Pope Francis’ allies, Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa “called out” evangelical dominionist groups “composed mainly of whites from the deep American South” for rejecting the “global ecological crisis” and their dire “Armageddon-infused rhetoric.” The two authors were very adept at pointedly drawing parallels to Islamic fundamentalism. The two men charged the evangelical fundamentalist movement of seeking to control “the political and parliamentary sphere and in the judicial and education areas so that public norms can be subjected to [the evangelicals] religious morals.” (author bold)

The Pope’s allies had no qualms calling out the political organizations and networks feeding the “apocalyptic” politics polluting the entire American conservative movement. They specifically noted a nasty religious right conservative group, the Council for National Policy and the machinations of one of their exponents, Steve Bannon, as “staunch supporters of apocalyptic geopolitics.” And, they did not hold back attacking something this author has screamed about for a couple of decades in print and digital media; “Catholic Integralists” who are attempting to force their domineering “religious influence in the public sphere.” The article states:

Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists. . . . Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. . . . This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.

It isn’t exactly clear why it took the Vatican a couple of decades to figure out that, as this author has “screamed about forever;” the “defining feature of the Christian Right in America is the conservative evangelical-Catholic convergence.” Remember, it was in 1970 that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that introduced the Southern religious right to their terrible “loss of religious liberty” to control the masses that threatens this nation more than ever today.

The two authors were spot on in identifying the “shocking rhetoric” of the “Church Militant” and other pro-Trump organizations that “are openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses of Christian symbols to impose itself:

The American elections in this perspective were seen as a ‘spiritual war’ . . .  Church Militant asks if Trump’s victory can be attributed to the prayers of Americans. The response is affirmative. The indirect missioning for President Trump is clear: he has to follow through on the consequences. This is a very direct message that then wants to condition the presidency by framing it as a divine election.”

Naturally, an American Archbishop from Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, attacked the Vatican article as an “exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation” against the U.S. Constitution’s attacks on the religious freedom of the aspiring theocrats. Chaput claims there is no “political warfare cloaked as spiritual warfare;” it is just the logical and necessary outcome of the Constitution’s attacks on “the traditional church.” Chaput claims that:

Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power. . . . Dismissing today’s attacks on religious liberty as a ‘narrative of fear’—as the La Civiltà Cattolica author curiously describes it—might have made sense 25 years ago. Now it sounds willfully ignorant.  It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief.”

Messrs. Spadaro and Figueroa call this nonsense from the American religious right Archbishop Chaput false ecumenism; this author calls it what it really is, pure unadulterated bullshit and a filthy dirty lie. The two Vatican allies accurately explained what it really is: “an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic state that ‘wants walls and purifying deportations.’” They also say that by stark contrast, Pope Francis’ ecumenism “moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges.” (Author bold)

As noted at the beginning of this piece, it is extremely seldom that one can find anything to agree on with the Catholic Church, but by dog these two ‘Christians’ certainly nailed the religious right and Catholic crusade for “their dream of a theocratic state” smack on the head. Where they are confused though is underestimating the power of the religious right despite the cretins are in the minority.

They claim that Pope Francis seriously “wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and the Church,” but “that link” underpins the entire conservative movement in America. It will take more than Pope Francis’ efforts to break that link because for some unknown reason Americans are terrified of uttering an unkind word about the ambitious theocratic takeover of America. If politicians, especially Democrats, would identify evangelical fundamentalists as the source of the danger to democracy and Americans as a free people, the Pope may see that dangerous link broken and theocrats in the conservative movement permanently put out of our misery.