Andres Serrano

A Marriage Update (Massachusetts)

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“Did you just feel an icy chill, homophobes who think hiding behind your religion will protect your right to be discriminatory and hateful? It’s called the wind of change, and it’s going to get a lot stronger. A Massachusetts judge this week has ruled that a Milton all-girl Catholic prep school broke the law when it withdrew a job offer to a gay man. I suspect you’ll be seeing a lot more of that from here on in, America. You might want to get used to it.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams

So … right. I don’t know, just keep an eye on this one. I mean, you know, it’s good news and all, but I’m not sanguine. It’s not quite the pricking of my thumbs, but something tells me this isn’t over.

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Image note: Detail of Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano, 1987.

Williams, Mary Elizabeth. “Sorry, Catholic schools: Discriminating against gay people in the name of ‘religious freedom’ just got harder”. Salon. 18 December 2015.

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A Meandering Consideration of Absolutism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, 3 March 2015.  (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Maybe it’s an unfortunate hallmark of contemporary conservative thought?”

Steve Benen

Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan offers an interesting consideration:

It’s looking more and more like Benjamin Netanyahu committed a strategic blunder in so ferociously opposing the Iran nuclear deal and in rallying his American allies to spend all their resources on a campaign to kill the deal in Congress.

SlateIf current trends hold, the Israeli prime minister and his stateside lobbyists—mainly AIPAC—are set to lose this fight. It’s politically risky for Israel’s head of state to go up against the president of his only big ally and benefactor; it’s catastrophic to do so and come away with nothing. Similarly, it’s a huge defeat for AIPAC, whose power derives from an image of invincibility. American politicians and donors might get the idea that the group isn’t so invincible after all, that they can defy its wishes, now and then, without great risk.

It would have been better for Netanyahu—and for Israel—had he maybe grumbled about the Iran deal but not opposed it outright, let alone so brazenly. He could have pried many more favors from Obama in exchange for his scowl-faced neutrality. Not that Obama, or any other American president, will cut Israel off; but relations will remain more strained, and requests for other favors (for more or bigger weapons, or for certain votes in international forums) will be scrutinized more warily, than they would have been.

There is, of course, much more to Kaplan’s consideration, including the implications of current Congressional momentum and the widening gap between the credibility of favoring and opposing arguments. Toward the latter, he notes, “Most criticisms of the deal actually have nothing to do with the deal”, and that’s about as least unfavorable as his critique of the criticism gets.

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Reality

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“The reality is that there are few if any places in the world where it is better to be Christian than the U.S., so pretending that being forced to abide by the constitution is somehow a “war” comes off a lot like the spoiled rich kid whose parents won’t upgrade the radio on the new BMW I8 they are buying for his birthday. It just makes you look uninformed, selfish and silly.”

Dale Hansen

Is there really anything we need to add, or is this pretty straightforward?

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Hansen, Dale. “Christian Persecution Is a Problem, Just Not in the U.S.” The Huffington Post. 19 May 2015.

The Mike Huckabee Experience (Christian Hatedown Remix)

In this April 18, 2015 file photo, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH.  Huckabee is set to announce he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  He has an event planned for May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Ark., where former President Bill Clinton was also born.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

This is a look ahead, toward some difficult times.

On Tuesday, Mike Huckabee made it official. The former Republican Arkansas governor and Fox News host launched his second bid for the White House in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, vowing to stop the “slaughter” of abortion and calling for the protection of the “laws of nature” from the “the false God of judicial supremacy.”

Tim Murphy reports, for Mother Jones, the “Mike Huckabee you may not remember”, and it’s just as foul a history as you might imagine.

Huckabee, then a Baptist pastor who operated a small television station out of his Arkadelphia church, made sex and morality the centerpieces of his ’92 campaign—and he preached as fiery a message from the stump as he did from the pulpit. The novice politician let loose with eyebrow-raising tirades that occasionally put him to the right of the most fire-breathing conservatives. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients, condemned efforts to shield homosexuals from discrimination, and called for the death penalty to be imposed on big-time drug dealers. He attacked Bumpers repeatedly as a libertine who supposedly supported giving condoms to 12-year-olds, sanctioned gay throuples, and voted to use taxpayer funds on “pornographic” art.

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)Huckabee’s 1992 platform was an artifact of the Moral Majority’s high-water mark. In interviews and on the stump he explained that the nation had strayed toward “selfishness and sensuality” and had been “savaged by radical groups bent on a moral and social agenda” at odds with Judeo-Christian values. “When I was in school, they passed out Gideon Bibles—today, they pass out condoms,” he said at stop after stop on the trail. In the new liberal order, Huckabee warned his hometown paper, the Hope Star, a family would consist of “three homosexual men living together.”

The gay agenda, he believed, was influencing and restricting the nation’s response to the AIDS crisis. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients from the rest of society—a radical view even among conservatives at the time—while arguing that the severity of the epidemic had been exaggerated because gay people wielded so much political clout. The federal government should spend less money on AIDS, he insisted, and more on diseases that the afflicted had not brought on themselves, such as cancer.

“I realize a lot of people have received AIDS through blood transfusions, but AIDS is basically a lifestyle disease, and when the lifestyle is changed, the disease risk goes significantly down,” Huckabee said in one interview. AIDS advocates themselves, not taxpayers, should pony up: “Elizabeth Taylor went before Congress and made a big pitch that we needed more federal funding for AIDS. If Elizabeth Taylor would take one of the rings off her finger and sell it, she could get more money for AIDS research than the average Arkansan will make in two years of hard work. If she’s really serious about it, she’s got assets that she could dispose of. Why should she make me take money from my children’s future, and take it right off my table when she needs to cough up some of her own coin for that.”

It is worth noting that in this time when American Christians lament that they are, in various ways, under some sort of siege―from gays, women, television, even basic reality―it probably won’t help anyone to have so many Republican candidates rushing to proclaim hatred in Jesus’ name.

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Christian Faith and Character in Idaho

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Jesus Christ

The word from Laura Zuckerman of Reuters:

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)Members of a county Republican Party in Idaho are to take up a measure on Tuesday evening that would declare the state a Christian one to bolster what the proposal calls the “Judeo-Christian bedrock of the founding of the United States.”

The resolution to be voted on by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee is non-binding, meaning it does not have the effect of laws or rules.

The proposal seeks that Idaho be “formally and specifically declared a Christian state,” guided by a Judeo-Christian faith reflected in the U.S. Declaration of Independence where all authority and power is attributed to God, the resolution reads.

The measure argues that the Christian faith is under “strident attack” in the United States, and cites as evidence the absence of Christian traditions and symbols in public institutions such as schools.

To the one, we have yet another reminder that for many, “equality” can only mean “supremacism”.

To the other, we have yet another reminder that conservatives prefer to pretend their piety before others than actually live their faith.

Bottom line: If the Christians can’t be Christian, why should anyone else?

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Image note: Detail of Piss Christ by Andres Serrano, 1987.

Zuckerman, Laura. “Republicans propose declaring Idaho a ‘Christian state'”. Reuters. 24 February 2015.