At the outset, I have to concede this is something of a tempest in a teapot. We aren’t talking about very much money here, and the stakes aren’t very high, on either side of this conflict. Still, it is an example of someone daring to take on a well-known and vocal Religious Right group, which is actually rare, since they’ve been so successful at intimidating others and bullying them into acquiescence.
Now then, on to the story … !
The state of Connecticut has a program by which its employees can have money deducted from their paychecks and sent directly to a number of charitable organizations. To be included in this program, charities must sign up and agree to abide by certain standards. But in the case of the American Family Association, that proved to be a problem. CT’s comptroller, Kevin Lembo, whose office administers the program, wants to find out if the AFA is actually living up to that agreement; but as CT News Junkie reports, the AFA is none too happy about that (WebCite cached article):
After asking a Christian organization that’s against LGBTQ rights for more information about how it conforms with Connecticut’s nondiscrimination clause to qualify for state employee payroll deductions, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo became the group’s newest target.
The American Family Association, a Mississippi-based group that is known for its anti-gay and anti-transgender boycotts of businesses, is flooding Lembo’s office with calls and emails. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Lembo said his office had received 4,455 emails from people associated with AFA.…
Last week, Lembo, who is the Connecticut’s first openly gay constitutional officer, announced that his office was investigating [cached] whether the group conforms with the anti-discrimination policy for the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving program. Lembo said the group signed the anti-discrimination clause, but their website seems to offer a different story.
As one would expect, the AFA went ballistic over Lembo’s investigation. It probably didn’t help that Lembo is openly gay. They claim his move is an “attack” on their religious freedom, and Lembo’s way of trying to wipe out devout, dutiful Christians like themselves … but it’s not. At stake here is just one very small question: Whether or not the AFA is allowed to remain in CT’s payroll-deduction program for state employees. That’s all. Nothing more. Whether they’re in this program or not, will not change their lives in the slightest. It won’t force them to give up their beliefs. It won’t close any of their churches, it won’t rip Bibles out of their homes or hands. It won’t do anything of the sort, even if they claim it would. What’s more, as CTNJ explains, we’re talking about a small amount of money:
Between 2011 and 2016, AFA has receive $202 from three state employees. Since the group is part of a larger group of 13 charities within the account, it’s unknown exactly how much it received in undesignated funds. The group of 13 charities under the Neighbor to Nation heading received a little more than $4,000 a year between 2011 and 2014.
That kind of money isn’t going to make or break the AFA. It just won’t, no matter how sanctimoniously enraged they may be at this insolent, profane gay man who dared take them on, even in a small way such as this.
Really, the problem here is with the AFA. They reached an agreement with the state of CT in order to be included in this program, and that agreement included anti-discrimination terms, which they haven’t abided by, and which they even insist they’re obliged to ignore by dint of their religious beliefs. In other words … they signed an agreement whose terms they damned well knew, from the very start, that they never intended to live by. They weren’t coerced into signing up for that program or signing that agreement; no one put a gun to their heads and forced them to do so. They did that of their own volition. It now appears they did so dishonestly. I salute the Comptroller for pointing out their duplicity and for taking them on … even if the end result won’t accomplish very much (at best, the AFA will be deprived of a few hundred dollars a year in contributions, should they be removed from the program).
Really, for me — as I stated at the beginning of this post — what’s significant here is that Lembo was even willing at all to try to take on the AFA. Most of the time, public officials won’t contend with Christofascists. Rather, they tend overwhelmingly to bend over for them and give in to their bullying tactics. This is how they’ve succeeded as much as they have over the last three or four decades. They always seem to resort to their claim of sincere belief and “religious freedom,” as though this means all of humanity is required to knuckle under to all their demands, all the time, and that they’re never to be questioned, ever, for any reason. The world doesn’t work that way, and there’s no reason officials should act as though it does.
This year’s annual edition of “the War on Christmas” rages on. This is something I’ve blogged about ad nauseam; it’s a propaganda trope in which American Christianists pretend that their religion is being wiped out, initially via an insidious campaign to outlaw the celebration of Christmas.
This is delusional, of course; Christianity is in no danger in the US, and people are still free to celebrate Christmas. That won’t change … but you can’t tell Christianists that. They refuse to accept it, and claim their religion is standing at the precipice of total destruction and that they’re just a moment away from being killed off.
The Atheist Americans holiday campaign debuted in Monroe yesterday with two digital billboards near Hwy 165 and Pecanland Mall.
“It’s definitely a strong Christian community and a lot of strong believers in this area,” says Kyle Klitzke of Monroe.…
The billboards lasted less than two hours in Monroe before the billboard company, Outfront Media, suggested the organization take it down.
Nick Fish, program director for American Atheists, took the words right out of my mouth:
“They need to get over themselves and realize this is a country with a lot of viewpoints, and they’re not the only ones with a view on this,” Fish says.
He’s absolutely correct that Louisiana’s Christianists “need to get over themselves” and understand that they’re not the only ones … but they never will do so. They view the fact that they’re not alone in the country as an intolerable burden that they simply cannot withstand, and will never tolerate — not even for a second.
As I often do when remarking on “the War on Christmas,” I remind American Christendom that many of its beliefs about Christmas are false. Absolutely, totally, 100% wrong. Not that most of them care very much about facts … but I do, and I plan to throw as many of them as I can in their faces. No matter how much they dislike it, or how vehemently they deny those facts.
An Ohio State University student has been identified as the suspect behind the gruesome attack Monday on the school’s campus.…
[The attacker] was born in Somalia and living in the United States as a legal permanent resident. Investigators discovered a message he posted on a Facebook page before the attack in which he expressed anger about the treatment of Muslims around the world, according to reports from multiple news outlets, citing unidentified law enforcement officials.
Maybe it’s because I have an overly rational brain, but I’m not quite clear on the connection between the people this fucker drove into, and then stabbed, and attacks on Muslims around the world. I’m aware of no direct connection.
But then, I’m just an insolent, god-hating agnostic heathen, and can’t possibly expect to comprehend such high and holy things, now, can I?
I can only conclude the attacker objected solely to Americans killing Muslims, and thought a terror attack would prevent that … but that he didn’t object to Muslims killing other Muslims — because after all, there’s a fucking helluva lot more of that going on in the world than there is of violence against Muslims by any other kind of person. No?
Oh wait. As usual, I’m insolently attempting to make rational sense of a high, sacred mission, and that’s simply not allowed. Isn’t it? I mean, how horrific of me to dare try to logically evaluate this kind of holy pursuit!
So go ahead, Muslims. Please. By all means, pin the blame for everything bad that’s ever happened to one of you on the US. And in turn use that blame to justify attacking Americans wherever you go. Because obviously, they deserve to die. Right? Go ahead and continue to ignore all the Muslim-on-Muslim violence that goes on, including the long history of conflict between your religion’s two major sects … which predates the existence of the US by more than a millennium. Yeah, obviously, all of that means nothing whatsoever … but when the US reacts to Islamist terror, well, that just can’t be fucking tolerated for one second, now, can it!?
Maybe it’s time for Muslims to get a grip on themselves, and each other, and start taking responsibility for their own religion, fercryinoutloud. Stop blaming others for one’s own misfortunes, and stop letting extremism slide.
Note, I’ve consistently asked the same of Christians, and Jews, and people of every other religion, too. Whatever religion one happens to belong to, is one’s religion. One owns it. It belongs to those who follow it, and they must take responsibility for it. If they don’t respect it enough to police it and stamp out extremism within it, they can’t rationally expect outsiders, such as myself, to respect it, either … or to respect them for belonging to it.
*I absofuckinglutely refuse to call it “‘THE’ Ohio State University.” What an asinine and juvenile fucking marketing gimmick that is.
Now that Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump has been elected president, he’s begun assigning roles to the various men (many of specious character and/or ability) who supported his campaign. The transition process has turned out to be a clusterfuck, which should surprise exactly no one (WebCite cached article).
In August, the Dallas Morning News reported that Flynn had delivered a speech to a Dallas gathering of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America, in which he had called Islam “a political ideology” that hides behind “being a religion,” and “a cancer.”…
“Islam is a political ideology.… It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion. And I have a very, very tough time because I don’t see a lot of people screaming ‘Jesus Christ’ with hatchets or machetes or rifles shooting up clubs or hatcheting, literally axing families on a train, or like they just killed a couple of police officers with a machete.”
Flynn’s complaint that Islam isn’t a religion, but rather a political ideology, is an oldone amongReligious Rightists. By saying Islam isn’t a religion, the R.R. rationalizes outlawing that religion and robbing Muslims of their religious freedom. Their assumption that Islam could be abolished in the US if it’s found to be a political ideology and not a religion, is — of course — foolish, since in addition to religious freedom, we also have political freedoms. The R.R. could no more ban Islam-as-a-political-ideology than it could the ideology of Leftism (which it would very much like to do, but can’t).
As I’ve blogged many times before, these Neocrusaders view Islam as the chief rival of their own religion (which, for nearly all of them, is Christianity). Their “war” against it is basically just a form of religious one-upmanship … i.e. a way of pushing the narrative that their god is bigger than the Muslims’ god. By agitating against Muslims, they hope to “prove” the virtues of their own religion and make Muslims cave in to them.
As such, it’s all very childish, but this is the ideology that elected Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump. So what can one expect?
Between requests for prayers for the sick and a notice for an upcoming chastity luncheon, a newsletter from a Catholic church in Old Town that doubles as an election-day polling site included a flier that told parishioners they’ll go to hell if they vote for Democrats.
Two Sundays later, the message had changed: Satan was working through former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Oct. 16 bulletin from the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was stuffed with a flyer written in both English and Spanish that cited five legislative policies — support for abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research — that will doom a politician and their supporters to eternal damnation.
“It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat … immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell,” the flyer said. It cited the five public policy issues from the “Voters Guide for Serious Catholics” and said that Democrats violate each of them, while Republicans cross none.
The diocese admits this flyer was given out in violation of Catholic policy and professed that they hadn’t done it:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego on Wednesday said the messages in the flier and bulletin do not reflect Catholic teaching or diocese policies, are inappropriate, and that voters should use their conscience to determine which candidates to support.
“It’s not a mortal sin to vote for Democrats, number one. And number two, the church doesn’t take positions on this, and we’re not going to,” diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery said.…
The diocese said the flier was not authorized by the parish, but it was somehow inserted into the Oct. 16 bulletin.
The problem with this “it wasn’t authorized” defense is that it happened twice, not just once; you’d think the parish priest(s) and staff would have been on alert for someone stuffing crap into their bulletins, after it had happened the first time. That it occurred a second time can only mean they are — at best — unconcerned about it, and — at worst — they approve of it.
As for Hillary being a Satanist by virtue of her links to Alinsky, I addressed that just this summer, when former GOP candidate Ben Carson trotted out that trope. I said then, and will repeat here, that Alinsky was no Satanist at all, and that Clinton was not his sycophant. Yes, it’s true that Religious Rightists despise Alinsky and many of them truly do believe him to have been a Satanist … but their belief, no matter how sincere it might be, cannot magically make that true. Because it’s not. And Clinton herself differed with Alinsky, to the point of refusing a job offer he made.
Although this is a blatant violation of the IRS code, I’m sure that feared agency will do nothing about this. At all. For decades they’ve consistently bent over for the Religious Right, and I have no reason to think they’re going to change, any time soon.
Eight more former Bergen Catholic High School students have come forward to accuse former staff members at the school of sexual abuse.
The eight have levied their allegations since it was revealed in August that the all-boys high school in Oradell had reached a $1.9 million settlement [cached] with 21 men who said they were sexually abused at the school.
The eight men, who are now between the ages of about 55 to 75 years old, say they were sexually abused when they were teens between the years of 1956 and 1977, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented some of the previous alleged victims.
The timeframe of the alleged attacks is similar to the one provided by the other alleged victims who settled with the school. They had said they were abused between 1963 and 1978.
The school itself, not the archdiocese of Newark (in which it’s located) or the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers (the priests who staff it), reached the settlement with the victims. Apparently the archdiocese plays no role in the school’s administration, so — at least for now — they’re not involved.
At any rate, I expect Catholic apologists will repeat their old rationale for why they don’t think their holy Church or its clergy did anything wrong: The accusers are just in it for the money, and some of them — so far — were paid off. There was no abuse, they’ll say; accusers made it all up long after they left school, just to get some money for themselves and their attorneys.
While I agree money might motivate some accusers, the “profit motive” can’t explain all the accusations that have been leveled, around the world, for decades, nor does it account for the fact that many investigations — again, from all around the world — have substantiated that abuse did, in fact, take place, and moreover, that in a lot of cases the Church hierarchy did, in fact, cover it up and on occasion enable the abusers by moving them around.
I expect to hear more about this. I also expect to hear a lot more whining from Catholic apologists about how terrible it is that accusers are coming forward now and how terrible it is that some have already been paid off. It’s as though the victims somehow owe it to the Holy Mother Church to keep silent — forever — about the abuse they’d endured, because … well! … it’s the Holy Mother Church. Or something. Because for some reason, no one is supposed to say anything bad about the Holy Mother Church. Or something.
Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 51, and Patrick Stein were all charged with domestic terrorism.
Beall said the three were planning to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City occupied by a Muslim community of about 120 Somali refugees.
Beall said the men planned to carry out the attack on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day.…
Beall said the men wrote a manifesto, which they wanted published after the bombing.
According to an affidavit, the were a part of a group called the Kansas Security Force and the Crusaders.
“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” read the affidavit.
Beall said the men’s arrest is a part of an eight month long investigation.
For the last year, the Right — led by GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump — has blustered and fumed over Muslim refugees living among us, and how horrifically dangerous they are. Supposedly. It’s only natural, after all, because isn’t it obvious that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists, bent on killing “infidels” wherever they may be? Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore — according to Neocrusaders’ thinking — that it’s better to kill them before they kill us?
Fortunately for the country, but unfortunately for the Neocrusaders, those Somali refugees in Kansas aren’t very likely to become terrorists … but sanctimonious Christianists don’t let little things like “facts” get in the way of their towering fury.