Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

A history lesson.

Source: Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America | Alternet

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…

Source: An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America | Alternet

The Ways to Destroy Democracy | The Nation

By Richard J. Evans

…Whereas other politicians seemed to dither or to act as mere administrators, Hitler projected purpose and dynamism. They remained trapped within the existing conventions of political life; he proved a master at denouncing those conventions and manipulating the media. The first politician to tour the country by air during an election campaign, Hitler issued an endless stream of slogans to win potential supporters over. He would make Germany great again. He would give Germans work once more. He would put Germany first. He would revive the nation’s rusting industries, laid to waste by the economic depression. He would crush the alien ideologies—­socialism, liberalism, communism—­that were undermining the nation’s will to survive and destroying its core values…

…Few took Hitler seriously or thought that he would actually put his threats against the country’s tiny Jewish minority, his rants against feminists, left-wing politicians, homosexuals, pacifists, and liberal newspaper editors, into effect. Fewer still believed his vow to quit the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations. But within a few months of taking office, he did all of these things—and much more…

Source: The Ways to Destroy Democracy | The Nation

What the right keeps getting wrong about free speech

On Wednesday night, a rally against the federal Liberals’ Motion M-103 was held in Toronto. The motion is moderate and largely exploratory, and is in part a response to the grotesque […]

…Charles McVety, once debated with me on CBC television, again on sex education. On air, he said that I was no longer “a family man” and suggested I was defending the former Ontario government advisor and convicted child pornographer Benjamin Levin.

This is the very type of “free speech” to which many on the new right refer: the right to insult, offend and, often, simply lie.

Source: What the right keeps getting wrong about free speech

Reclaiming Tradition: Islamic Law in a Modern World | International Affairs Review

Given the linguistic, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Muslim world, it is facile to suggest that Islam is the source of all these problems. There is after all very little relationship between the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and that practiced in Egypt, Malaysia, or the United States. To the extent that there are problems in Muslim-majority countries, it is far more likely that they arise from a shared history of colonialism, oppressive governance, poverty, disease, and war—especially over natural re-sources—than a common religious underpinning.

 

Source: Reclaiming Tradition: Islamic Law in a Modern World | International Affairs Review

How I escaped being a right-wing extremist

No child should be taught that the only options in this life are to “hate or be hated.”

How do you change the mind of a diehard Trump voter? You don’t. It’s a waste of your time and you have better things to do. We are not going to unite as a country anytime soon after what has happened.

I was raised in the ’80s to be a right-wing extremist like my father. I was sent to an extreme right-wing (John Birch Society) summer camp where I was brainwashed to be a heartless, paranoid conservative, just like my dad. I used to believe that homosexuals, atheists, immigrants, liberals and anyone who wasn’t white like us, were out to take away our rights as good, god-fearing Americans. When I heard the words humanist, environmentalist, feminist, educated, and equal or civil rights, I’d get irritated, suspicious and angry.

I was taught that if someone challenged my statements or beliefs, they did so because they were scared or intimidated and afraid of the cold hard truth. I was taught that liberals and Democrats were brainwashed and trained to ignore the truths regarding what was really going on in America. Arguing with a liberal was a complete waste of time, my dad would say. They were too dumb, too brainwashed and there was no way we could change their minds. Every time someone argued with me about anything, I felt contempt. I felt ridiculed. I felt like they were telling me I was stupid and wrong. I felt they were telling me that my parents and everything I knew to be true was a lie. Just having someone argue with me or having my point of view challenged made me angry, regardless of the facts presented. I was taught not to believe your facts.

If you are wondering how to deal with a member of America’s extreme right, forget it. It’s a waste of your time. In fact, the harder you try to convince right-wingers or Trump voters that Trump is destroying America, the more they’ll support Trump and argue with and belittle you. As much as we all want every American to be mature, compassionate and to believe only in actual facts, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. They think of us as their enemies. The GOP has been overthrown by the extreme right and they have zero interest in working together to actually keep America great…

Source: How I escaped being a right-wing extremist

The New Anti-Semitism by Ian Buruma – Project Syndicate

Those who have been telling us that Islam, not just revolutionary Islamism, is a lethal threat to Western civilization should now feel satisfied: the US president and his main advisers agree with them. Less than a century ago, the same arguments were used to exclude and persecute Jews.

Source: The New Anti-Semitism by Ian Buruma – Project Syndicate

Trump Seeks to Take Wrecking Ball to Division Between Church and State | Common Dreams

Draft executive order ‘reads like the administration was challenged to see how many violations of the Bill of Rights can be contained in one policy change’

 

A 2016 poll found two-thirds of Americans say churches and other houses of worship should not come out in favor of one candidate over another during political elections—but President Donald Trump wants to “destroy” the amendment that keeps it that way. (Photo: Peter Miller/flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump appears intent on demolishing the wall between church and state, telling an audience on Thursday that he will “totally destroy” an amendment that bars religious tax-exempt organizations from engaging in political activity—while his administration reportedly circulates a far-reaching draft executive order on “religious freedom” that effectively legalizes discrimination.

Trump told attendees at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday that he “will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.”

The amendment, passed in 1954, prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates; repealing it—which Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also vowed to do on the 2016 campaign trail—”would theoretically allow houses of worship and religious leaders to openly advocate for political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status, while also allowing them to funnel religious donations into explicitly political efforts,” according to Emma Green at The Atlantic.

Repeal would require action by Congress. A 2016 Pew Research Center poll found that fully two-thirds of Americans say churches and other houses of worship should not come out in favor of one candidate over another during political elections, while just 29 percent say churches should get directly involved in electoral politics in this way.

Meanwhile, The Nation and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) revealed Wednesday that the Trump administration is circulating a four-page draft executive order that would, according to the center:

  • allow religious organizations receiving federal dollars to hire and fire employees based on their beliefs;
  • allow employers to deny health care benefits for birth control;
  • allow federally funded groups to prevent married same-sex couples from adopting; and
  • protect federal employees who refuse to do their jobs if work duties violate their beliefs.

And “[i]t would create a section or group within the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce the order,” according to CIR’s outlet, Reveal.

Sarah Posner writes for The Nation: “The breadth of the draft order, which legal experts described as ‘sweeping’ and ‘staggering,’ may exceed the authority of the executive branch if enacted. It also, by extending some of its protections to one particular set of religious beliefs, would risk violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

Or as the National LGBTQ Task Force wrote online, it would “completely destroy Church/State Separation to destroy lives and roll back fundamental rights.”

ABC News reported Thursday that “the draft appears to be among the hundreds of executive orders that are circulating—drafted by either the Trump transition team, the White House policy team, or even by outside groups—and that not all reflect administration thinking or likely policy. One official did not say who drafted this potential order, but did not dispute its authenticity.”

ABC further notes that the order contains language that “appears to be an attempt to roll back the Johnson Amendment” through executive action, as it “seeks to ensure tax-exempt status for religious organizations even if they speak out on beliefs opposing gay marriage, extra-marital sex, abortion rights, and rights for transgender individuals.”

In a statement, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) executive director Noah Bookbinder said Trump’s latest statements taken alongside the draft order constitute “a stunning assault on free speech, and a gift to dark money groups—as long as they agree with the president.”

Considered in the context of a post-Johnson Amendment landscape, the draft order “would eliminate longstanding restrictions on political speech by nonprofit organizations, and favor religion, allowing the government to penalize some political viewpoints by nonprofit organizations while protecting the opposite viewpoints, and would sanction discrimination against a particular group of people,” said Bookbinder. “It reads like the administration was challenged to see how many violations of the Bill of Rights can be contained in one policy change.”

He concluded: “The administration should immediately reverse course on this proposed executive order which could do nothing but catastrophic harm to our democracy.”

Source: Trump Seeks to Take Wrecking Ball to Division Between Church and State | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Terrifying Ted and his Ultra-Conservative Vision for America | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at a town hall on Wednesday. (Photo: Elise Amendola / AP)

Perhaps nothing captures the imperialist arrogance of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz more succinctly than his campaign’s statement declaring, “What is best for America is best for the world.” In addition to the obvious issue that billions of people around the world might disagree with Cruz on this point is the fact that it is not at all clear that the Republican presidential candidate’s proposed policies are even best for most Americans. But given his victory this past week in the Iowa caucus, Cruz’s ultra-conservative views can no longer be ignored while mainstream and progressive pundits busy themselves dissecting the bombastic rhetoric of the far less scary Donald Trump…

Source: Terrifying Ted and his Ultra-Conservative Vision for America | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community