This post is dedicated to a dear blogging buddy, Scottie, who has experienced bullying and threats since the election.
On April 1 of this year, I wrote about the Mississippi Senate voting 31-17 approving House Bill 1523, known as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill. It was one of the most overtly discriminatory laws in the United States.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the “religious objections” law just moments before it was to take effect July 1, ruling that it was unconstitutional.
The law would have allowed individuals, businesses, state and local government employees, nonprofits and other entities to discriminate against LGBT citizens, but also anyone who has or has had sex outside of marriage. It would have allowed clerks to cite religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It would also protect merchants who refuse services to LGBT people, and could have affected adoptions and foster care, business practices and school bathroom policies.
Anyone could cite their religious beliefs to justify their discriminatory behavior if sued by the victims of that discrimination. If they did, not only would they be guaranteed victory in court, but compensatory damages as well. In late October, the Republican governor asked a federal appeals court to uphold the state law.
Mississippi Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood declined to appeal Reeves’ ruling. Instead, the governor’s appeal will be handled by private attorneys, including some working for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Christian legal group that helped write the measure. Remember that group, I will address them and others in a bit.
First Amendment Defense Act
Governor Bryant might not have to worry about appealing “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act”. Look what I just discovered: H.R. 2802, known as the “First Amendment Defense Act.” The bill is nearly identical to HB 1523, except it will make it legal to discriminate nation wide.
President-elect Donald Trump said he would sign it into law if it passed in Congress, and I suspect the Republicans will move quickly on this once they secure the Supreme Court.
From the Trump/Pence website:
“Religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is our first liberty and provides the most important protection in that it protects our right of conscience. Activist judges and executive orders issued by Presidents who have no regard for the Constitution have put these protections in jeopardy.
If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths. The Little Sisters of the Poor, or any religious order for that matter, will always have their religious liberty protected on my watch and will not have to face bullying from the government because of their religious beliefs.”
The New “Civil Rights” Means Anti-Gay and Anti-Women
If passed, the law provides that the federal government “shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
The bill defines “person” to include for-profit companies, and “discriminatory action” to include “revocation of tax-exempt status, grants, loans, benefits, or employment.
Based on “religious freedom” or “sincerely held religious beliefs”, a company could fire someone for being gay, or being pregnant out-of-wedlock. Hospitals could refuse to treat LGBT people (or their children), or unmarried women who became pregnant out-of-wedlock.
To put this into perspective, the Roman Catholic Church is the leading player in the health care system in the United State. In the past 10+ years, Catholic hospitals have merged with and purchased nonsectarian hospitals around the U.S. They receive billions of taxpayer dollars each year and have a combined gross patient revenue of $213.7 billion. Of the largest health care corporations in the country, five out of six are administered by the Catholic Church. One in six patients in the U.S. receive care in a Catholic institution.
Pharmacies chains could refuse to fill birth control prescriptions for single women, or even married women. Businesses could refuse to offer health benefits to a same-sex partner, and state-funded adoption agencies would have the right to refuse placing children with gay families. Gays and unmarried heterosexual couples could be denied bank loans, and housing. They could be denied services and good. The ramifications of this probable law are daunting. It’s religious freedom on steroids.
Who Hijacked Our Country?
Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly Alliance Defense Fund
Who are they?
They are a wealthy, American conservative Christian “nonprofit” organization with the stated goal of “defending the right to hear and speak the “Truth” through strategy, training, funding, and litigation. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the organization as “virulently anti-gay”. They also vehemently oppose a woman’s right to her own body.
The American Prospect writes: “Flush with cash and ancient hatreds, American evangelicals are incubating a Christian right in secular Europe. Cumulatively, their victories may be changing the global climate on some of the biggest social issues of our time. ”
ADF and conservative Christian groups like them are waging battles, globally, to undermine the progress that’s been made for LGBTs and women. Here are their allies who have been working fervently, with ADF, under the radar.
In the Sidney Morning Herald, it states: “The ADF attracted notoriety in 2014 when a reproductive health group discovered in its literature a passage declaring that it “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries”.
The ADF further declares:
“This is catholic, universal orthodoxy and it is desperately crucial for cultural renewal. Christians must strive to build glorious cultural cathedrals, rather than shanty tin sheds.”
They has built a massive “legal ministry,” relying on 21st century attorneys and an eight-figure annual budget to reshape American law and society. ADF has supported laws that would criminalize sex between consenting gay men. They told that to the United States Supreme Court. The group has been at the forefront of conservative attempts to undo key sections of President Obama’s signature healthcare laws.
The Christian Right Is Taking America and The World By Storm
While it is true that moderate to liberal Christianity is losing members and closing churches in the U.S., that is not the case with conservative Christianity. They are well organized, and filthy rich. Evangelical churches are growing in historically secular France, and new ones are springing up all over Europe — even in China. In fact, China is on course to become the world’s largest Christian nation.
If you think that’s impossible, remember who our president-elect is.
The Christian right have profoundly influenced and infiltrated state and local governments, Congress and the military. They played a significant role in electing Donald Trump. The Supreme Court of the United States is their next target, and it looks like they are going to get a bullseye.
Can you imagine the outcry if laws in America were being passed that didn’t allow Christians to marry; or didn’t allow Christians to qualify for adoption, or medical and mental health treatments?
President-elect Donald Trump told a packed ballroom at the Omni Shoreham hotel in downtown Washington, DC:
“Our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before.”
“He promised to repeal 1950s-era legislation prohibiting tax-exempt organizations, like churches, from endorsing political candidates. Many evangelical activists were slow to embrace Trump early in the primary season. But a steadily growing number on the religious right now view a potential Trump presidency as their only chance at reasserting conservative influence on the Supreme Court, which may very well make decisions on many key social issues.”
James Paul, former executive director of the Global Policy forum in New York, and a prominent thinker on the globalization of the Christian right, stated: “We have a conservative period now in history — a substantial movement to the right around the world.”
In the New York Times, March of 2005, U.S. Representative, and a Republican said: “This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.”
We must not be silent!