Progressives Are Taking Up Religious Freedom Day
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Nov 26, 2015 at 08:34:59 PM EST
In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don't see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the Christian Right does -- and they do not like what they see. The Christian Right has made religious freedom the ideological phalanx of its current campaigns in the culture wars. Religious freedom is now invoked as a way of seeking to derail access to reproductive health services as well as equality for LGBTQ people. But history provides little comfort for the theocratic visions of the Christian Right.

The first national Day of the New Year will be one that most of us have never heard of. Authorized by Congress in 1992, Religious Freedom Day has been recognized every January 16th by an annual presidential
proclamation commemorating the enactment of the  Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786.

This seemingly obscure piece of Revolutionary-era legislation is so integral to our history that Thomas Jefferson asked that his tombstone recognize that he was the author of the bill, along with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the University of Virginia as one of the three things for which he wished to be remembered.

It is worth taking a moment to understand why Jefferson thought it was that important.

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GOP and Right-Wing Evangelicals Face Off Against Jesus over Syrian Refugees
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 25, 2015 at 11:22:12 AM EST
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people and wounded hundreds of others, a number of major conservative Christian evangelical groups have joined 27-+ governors, and Republican Party presidential hopefuls, in demanding that President Obama shut the borders to refugees from Syria, the majority of which are women and children. While Donald Trump's anti-immigrant sound bites are feeding the frenzy against the refugees, and Senator Ted Cruz and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have called for allowing only Christian refugees into the country, conservative evangelical Christians are finding themselves doing battle with some mainstream Christian organizations supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
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Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 23, 2015 at 12:06:00 PM EST

Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and expand an Islamic center where they have been worshipping for 15 years.

What should have been a routine matter of zoning turned ugly when two men in the audience began hurling insults.

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Christian Right Electoral Hegemony, Rising in the States
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 22, 2015 at 04:28:27 PM EST
This is a revised, updated and retitled post I did on the long term trend of significant political progress of the Christian Right and the increasing electoral hegemony of the Republican Party, where the Christian Right plays a major role. -- FC

Recently, journalist Matthew Yglesias published an influential article in which he points out that currently, “70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state – are in Republican hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress.”

While Republicans have done all this, he observes, “Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot.” The failure to develop an effective electoral response to the growing influence of the Right is especially remarkable because journalists and other political observers have seen the situation developing for years. Republicans have control of the legislative and executive branch in 25 states, making erosions of reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and labor rights likely, and reforms and advances, unlikely. And yet, there is a remarkable degree of denialism of the seriousness and magnitude of the problem.

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Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice?: The AFA Explains It All For You
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 20, 2015 at 09:55:49 AM EST

If you're like me, you've been sitting around anxiously awaiting the release of the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers for the 2015 holiday season.

Just kidding. I haven't been awaiting the release of this list - and I suspect you haven't either - but the AFA sent it to me earlier this week, so let's take a look at it, shall we?

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U.S. Department Of Judeo-Christian Values?: Kasich Proposes New Religious Propaganda Arm
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 18, 2015 at 09:57:37 AM EST

According to some polls, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who believes that ancient Egyptians built the pyramids to store grain.

Not far behind Carson (or leading him, other polls say) is Donald Trump, a millionaire real estate developer whose platform consists mainly of insults delivered while he waves his arms and screams.

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Scripture Stories: Religious Right Claims About The `Aitken Bible' Don't Hold Up
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 16, 2015 at 02:41:00 PM EST

Tomorrow several conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to hold a public reading of the Aitken Bible on the East Front Lawn of the Capitol. Among the participants will be U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who once famously quizzed AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn about hell during a congressional hearing.

So what is the Aitken Bible, and what are people reading from it? As it turns out, this Bible has been the subject of much bad history from the Religious Right. It's important to set the record straight.

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The Tallest Statue in the Nation of an Individual
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 15, 2015 at 07:04:32 PM EST
Many a day I drove on I 45 past the statue of Sam Houston.  The monument to the statesman is the largest in the nation dedicated in memory to one person.  Houston was baptized in a tributary to the Brazos River by a Baptist minister.  The Baptist minister did not understand Baptist doctrine and after baptizing Houston asked how it felt to have his sins washed away.  Houston looked at the preacher  and replied that if his sins were just washed away, "Lord help the fish that swim downstream."
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Honoring Everyone Who Served: A Veterans Day Reflection
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 11, 2015 at 10:19:52 AM EST

In 1952, a private group sought permission from government officials to erect a large cross atop Mt. Soledad near San Diego. They did it because they wanted a place to hold sunrise services on Easter. Once erected, the huge cross was dedicated to "Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" during a Christian service.

As time went by, some people began to question whether it was appropriate to display a towering symbol of Christianity on government-owned land, and in 1989 a lawsuit was filed.

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One Million Maniacs?: AFA Attacks Magazine For Highlighting Family Headed By Same-Sex Couple
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 09, 2015 at 10:04:01 AM EST

I have a daughter named Claire who is 21 years old and working her first job in journalism since graduating from college. I'm awfully proud of her, but like all dads, I can't help but fondly remember days gone by when she was a little girl.

For several years, Claire was enamored with a popular line of toys called American Girl dolls. For the uninitiated, these dolls, made by the Mattel company, feature girls from specific historical periods. Each girl comes with a backstory, as well as lots and lots of outfits and accoutrements.

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What Catholic Neo-Confederates Don't Want You To Know About Secession
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 04, 2015 at 02:02:38 PM EST
During the summer of 2013 I wrote several posts about Catholic Neo-Confederates. My purpose was to explain the activities of libertarians such as Tom Woods, Thomas DiLorenzo and an organization known as the League of the South: all of whom advocate for the secession and nullification as tools to be used by the Christian Right.

To that end, they perpetuate the myth of an antebellum South that was united in its belief in and desire for secession. They paint a portrait of Old Dixie as both an orthodox Christian and libertarian paradise for all its inhabitants that was spoiled by a foreign intruder:  thus their claim that the conflict of 1861 to 1865 was not a Civil War initiated by a faction of Southern planters -- but a war of Northern aggression.

Bullfeathers and balderdash!

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Sex And Common Sense: Texas Public School Reconsiders `Chastity' Speaker
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 02, 2015 at 10:45:55 AM EST

A self-appointed expert on sex and relationships won't speak at an El Paso, Texas, high school - for now.

Jason Evert runs an outfit called Chastity Project. He is yet another in a seemingly endless parade of speakers who somehow manage to get themselves invited to public schools even though what they have to offer is thin at best and sometimes offensive.

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Two Trials that Impacted American Religion
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Oct 29, 2015 at 09:39:08 AM EST
Silent movie, Birth of a Nation, became the first blockbuster screen phenomena.  Civil Rights groups deplored the production and sought to ban it.  It was a glamourous portrayal of the   Klan and promoted the idea that the primary motivation of black freed slaves was to seduce or rape white women.  A Baptist minister wrote the story that became the epic media event early last century.  Media events were proven to have a huge impact regardless of the historical or factual accuracy.
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The Francis Trajectory.
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 19, 2015 at 12:06:57 PM EST
The recent dust-up over the meeting between Pope Francis and culture warrior Kim Davis has caused the Pontiff's stock to fall somewhat among liberals. Many of us felt let down by the pope's opposition to marriage equality after his uplifting talk and formal declarations about confronting the causes of both global warming and economic inequality.

But with that said, it is for wiser to look at the Pope's actions as opposed to individual statements. And for that reason he has put the Catholic Church on the trajectory for positive change.

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Taking Care Of Business: Religious Right Group Plans `Religious Liberty' Ratings For Companies
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 19, 2015 at 10:29:13 AM EST

My inbox this morning contained a press release from the American Family Association (AFA). The Tupelo, Miss.-based Religious Right group has exciting news: It has decided to launch a new tool to rate companies based on how they deal with "religious liberty."

It's called the Corporate Religious Liberty Index (CRLI), and it will be compiled based on a short questionnaire (just seven questions) that "seeks to gauge the importance of religious liberty for the nation's major companies." The index, the AFA reports, is being compiled "in direct response to the growing threats against religious liberty in the U.S."

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