Christian identity

The Supremacist’s Lament

Zombie Republic: The Demon Sisters cope with the results of their plan.  (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 8, '… Of the Dead')

“Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

Win Johnson

The disgraceful derby scrambling in the wake of Obergefell has yet to settle out; with presidential candidates struggling to find ways to evade the U.S. Constitution, or taking up the notion of just calling the whole marriage thing off, an Alabama attorney named Win Johnson has appealed to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to opt out of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Johnson, for his part, is a state official, a director at the Administrative Office of Courts, which in turn oversees the courts for state Chief Justice Roy Moore.

It seems a striking letter; Charles J. Dean reported, for AL.com:

In harsh words and a lecturing tone, a lawyer who works for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written a letter seemingly directed at Gov. Robert Bentley rebuking him for saying Alabama will obey the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal.

More appropriately, it really is a striking letter, so wild-eyed and seemingly irresponsible that the Souther Poverty Law Center has called for Johnson’s resignation.

And let us be clear; part of the problem with excerpting the letter is that the whole thing really is a show and a half. Christian supremacism, abdication of duty, rejection of the Constitution, and hey, even a Godwin violation just to hit for the cycle. Again, let us be clear: All for hatred in Jesus’ name, amen.

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The Ted Cruz Show (Hair-on-Fire Apoplexy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

“As ridiculous as Cruz’s posturing seems, it’s important to remember the broader context: national GOP candidates have a built-in incentive to be as hysterical as possible right now, in the hopes of currying favor with the party’s base. Mild, reasoned disappointment with the court doesn’t impress far-right activists; unrestrained, hair-on-fire apoplexy does.”

Steve Benen

This is an obvious point, or, at least one might think.

Steve Benen points to his msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin’s report Friday last detailing the 2016 GOP presidential reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of same sex marriage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went so far as to call for a constitutional convention to overturn the court’s decision while campaigning in Iowa, according to CNN. In an interview with Sean Hannity he called the back-to-back rulings on health care and gay marriage “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

While the Texas junior is hardly the only Republican presidential candidate opting to skip out on posturing his response within the realm of general dignity, Mr. Benen responded aptly:

Hannity, incidentally, found Cruz’s rhetoric quite compelling, responding, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”

For what it’s worth, it’s not hard to think of some genuinely tragic 24-hour periods in American history. The Lincoln assassination comes to mind. So does the time British troops burned the White House. There were days during the Civil War in which tens of thousands of Americans died on the battlefield. Just in the last century, we witnessed the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor, and a corrupt president resign in disgrace.

For the Republican presidential hopeful, learning that Americans will have health benefits and loving couples will get married belongs on the same list.

The thing is that Mr. Cruz is not entirely wrong; the rest, as Benen points out, is a matter of perspective.

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A Note on the Republican Clown Car

Kamon Dreams and Stranger Things: Detail of frame from 'FLCL' episode 5, "Brittle Bullet".

There is little about Timonthy Egan’s blistering critique of the Republican Clown Car that we might call … er … ah … not unkind:

Last election cycle, the Republican presidential field was a clown car, holding the thrice-married Newt Gingrich lecturing about values, the pizza magnate Herman Cain fending off sexual harassment claims, and Michele Bachmann confusing John Wayne with a serial killer. That was just the front seat. This time around it’s a clown bus, with as many as 17 Republicans expected to compete for the nomination.

Most of them are unelectable, to say the least. But can any of them get out of the party’s winnowing period without saying things they picked up in the far right netherworld? Probably not. As previous gaffe-a-matics have shown, it pays to be crazy. And for many Republicans, crazy is the new mainstream.

† † †

There is no ceiling for crazy in Texas, nor political consequence. This year, the Lone Star State’s most odious export is Senator Ted Cruz, who also has some concern about the nefarious designs of our military, and those Walmart tunnels. He couldn’t just say, as the Pentagon did, that our troops would soon be conducting a long-planned field operation, called Jade Helm 15. He had to dog-whistle to the mouth frothers.

“I understand a lot of the concerns raised by a lot of citizens about Jade Helm,” said Cruz. “It’s a question I’m getting a lot, and I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of citizens.” Dwight Eisenhower — look him up, Texans — is rolling over in his five-star grave.

If you don’t think the inability to distinguish a military exercise from a totalitarian takeover disqualifies you from leading the free world, Fox News has a hosting chair for you in its studios. That’s where Mike Huckabee promoted his brand of Gomer Pyle politics over the last few years, building a following for quack health remedies and Christian victimhood.

It is not so much a matter of being funny because it’s true. Rather, this bit that reads like comedy is, at the very least, a little sad because it really, really is happening. Now and then it is easy enough to fancy that what voters really want is a spectacle, but the problem with that notion is the proposition that every spectacle must be a bacchanal of ignorance and clodhopping disgrace.

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Egan, Timothy. “Fringe Festival”. The New York Times. 8 May 2015.

The Next Step

Leelah Alcorn (d. 27 December 2014)

In January, all of a week after Leelah Alcorn committed suicide, the White House “We the People” program received a petition for a new law, named in her honor, that would prohibit a devastating fake therapeutic practice called conversion therapy.

The petition drew 120,958 signatures before its period closed. This week, the White House responded.

The statement, authored by Valerie Jarrett, begins as follows:

“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us―on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”

— President Barack Obama

Thank you for taking the time to sign on to this petition in support of banning the practice known as conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy generally refers to any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.

When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.

As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors ....

This is important.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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Something Important

Evangelist Joshua Fuerstein, April, 2015.  (Image: WKMG)

Well, right. Almost missed this. How could we almost miss this?

Days after the anti-gay pizzeria controversy rocked Indiana, former televangelist Joshua Feuerstein went after a Longwood, Florida, bakery for refusing to put the words “We do not support gay marriage” on a cake.

Feuerstein made the request himself, and when Cut The Cake owner Sharon Haller refused, she said threats started pouring in.

“He wanted us to put a hateful message on a cake, and I said, ‘We’re not gonna do that,’” Haller told Orlando news station WKMG Local 6, adding, “We started getting some hundreds of phone calls and making very nasty and negative gestures towards our business, towards us.”

As for Feurestein, he believes he’s teaching a lesson about tolerance.

(Weingus)

This is just another example of a conservative failing to comprehend basic differences. In this case, what, between merely existing and choosing how one exists? Or between existing and expressing? How about the basic difference between celebration and antagonism? Sympathy and hatred? Any of this ringing a bell? Of course it isn’t.

Christianity is a choice; being gay isn’t. Ms. Haller can no more refuse Mr. Fuerstein service for simply being Christian than any other baker can refuse service to a gay person simply for being gay. Asking businesses to go out of their way to be hateful and provocative? That’s a different notion altogether, and apparently one that is too complicated for those who have sacrificed their intellects for the appearance of pious faith.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Weingus, Leigh. “Florida Bakery Faces Threats After Refusing To Print Anti-Gay Message On A Cake”. The Huffington Post. 5 April 2015.

Fifteen Minutes, and Then Some

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, 6 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.

Cynicism can be difficult.

Well, okay: Cyncism can be difficult for a person with a conscience.

Not long ago there emerged in my circles a notion that bakers and florists refusing to serve gay weddings “were probably going under before”, a note that prompted a brief and general reflection at the time: “blaming the government and calling yourself a victim is one way to appeal to the fifteen minutes”, and, “It seems like almost a side note, but watch how showbiz and the fifteen minutes become so many Americans’ backup plans”. It really is a cyncial outlook, except reality keeps suggesting it; funds raised on behalf of picking a fight with gay people reinforce the notion that “a stunt like this would seem more plausible to the actors because they can reasonably hope for a crowdsourced bailout”.

That seems to be where this is all going. Over at Huffington Post, Cavan Sieczkowski reports on the fundraising response to over $840,000 given in support of an Indiana pizzeria that picked a fight, cried that they were being bullied, and shut down their business; it’s been a profitable “fifteen minutes” for the O’Connor family. And Dominique Mosbergen reports on Baronelle Stutzman, a bigot from Richland, Washington, who has collected $94,000 in donations with a similar publicity stunt.

Meanwhile, also via HuffPo, a bit of good news: At least the courts can still tell the difference.

Or, as Curtis M. Wong brings word that Marjorie Silva did not discriminate against William Jack when she refused to decorate a cake with “derogatory language and imagery”.

It is really easy to be cynical toward these stunts posing alleged acts of conscience as an appeal to crowdsourcing and the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. To the other, we hear a lot from conservatives about “sincere beliefs”, so it’s not entirely fair to be so condemning in our assessments; after all, there remains a strong possibility that people like the O’Connors and Ms. Stutzman really are that stupid.

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Image note: Detail of This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow, 6 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.

Sieczkowski, Cavan. “That Anti-Gay Indiana Pizzeria That Received $840,000? This ‘Pizza’ Supports The LGBT Community.” The Huffington Post. 5 April 2015.

Mosbergen, Dominique. “Supporters Raise More Than $94,000 For Florist Who Refused To Sell Flowers For Same-Sex Wedding”. The Huffington Post. 6 April 2015.

Wong, Curtis M. “Colorado’s Azucar Bakery Did Not Discriminate By Refusing To Bake Anti-Gay Cakes, Court Rules”. The Huffington Post. 6 April 2015.

What Victory Will Mean

Detail of 'Tom the Dancing Bug' #1232, by Ruben Bolling, 2 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.And it’s Tom the Dancing Bug for the score. And the win, really.

No, seriously, just click the damn link.

Or the picture. That works, too.

And when you do, read. Understand. Get the point.

You know it’s the only way this can go.

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Bolling, Ruben. “Lo, in the land of Indiana …”. Tom the Dancing Bug. Daily Kos Comics. 2 April 2015.

What Folks in “Middle America” Call “Family Values”

Detail of FLCL episode 3, 'Marquis de Carabas'.

Okay, so, there is certainly a lot going in Indiana, but it seems worth checking in on this small point:

An Indiana pizzeria under fire for saying it would refuse to cater a gay wedding shut down on Wednesday after its owners said they received threatening messages.

However, a GoFundMe page set up for Memories Pizza in Walkerton has raised more than $40,000 in just six hours.

The pizzeria made national headlines this week when its owners called the business a “Christian establishment” and said the state’s contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow it to refuse to make pizzas for a hypothetical gay wedding.

That led to a flood of angry reviews on Yelp as well as the threatening messages.

“I don’t know if we will re-open, or if we can, if it’s safe to re-open,” co-owner Crystal O’Connor told TheBlaze, the news network run by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.”

The fundraiser was set up by Dana Loesch of TheBlaze, and Lawrence B. Jones III, a contributor to the network.

“Nobody should ever have to suffer or suffer alone for their faith, for standing up for Christian principles,” Loesch said on her broadcast.

(Mazza)

So you pick a fight on behalf of bigotry, and people send you money. This is the real face of “Middle America” and its “family values”.

Then again, this is Indiana, after all.

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A Note on an Abomination

"Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination" ― Headline from Marc Leandro of The Huffington Post, 31 March 2015, in reference to the Indiana Republican signing into law a Religious Freedom Act intended to enshrine discrimination in state law.

There really is a reason for Marc Leandro’s headline, “Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination”.

The situation in Indiana is upsetting for a lot of reasons. First among them is the overt discrimination against LGBT individuals the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as currently written, will protect under the law. And a close second is the utter venality displayed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

In the photograph taken of Pence at the bill’s private signing ceremony, he is surrounded by various religious figures, and some activists well known to the LGBT community in Indiana. Micah Clark, standing behind and to the left of the governor, has claimed publicly that homosexuality is a “disorder” that can be treated. Curt Smith, directly behind the governor, has equated gayness with bestiality and helped to write the bill the governor was signing. Eric Miller, to the right, was the man behind a flyer claiming falsely that if same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana, religious figures might be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.

Again, this was a closed ceremony, and one has to presume that the governor had knowledge of who would be there. These are people that the governor is close to, who in at least one case helped to write the bill, and in two other cases have taken public stances against LGBT individuals. I take that back — publicly they might state that they love “the homosexuals” but hate their “sin”, a distinction as infuriating as it is dunderheaded.

This goes back at least a quarter of a century. Or, it was on already on fire when I arrived.

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The Shadow over Indiana

22 FEBRUARY 2015: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on 'FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace'.  Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 'dark horse' for the GOP presidential nomination, and the Hoosier State's 'religious freedom' bill empowering discrimination, which Pence signed into law in late March.  (Image credit: FOX News)

“Indiana businesses can now discriminate against gay people because of the ACA’s contraception policy?”

Steve Benen

Perhaps it seems an odd question, but there is a reason, after all:

The Republican governor, and possible presidential candidate, published a Wall Street Journal op-ed overnight in which Pence outlined his plan to address businesses that exploit his new law to discriminate against gay consumers: “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”msnbc

As Rachel joked on the show last night, “So, if you were worried that gay people might be refused service by a business in Indiana now, don’t worry. That could never happen because the state has decided to wield the grave threat of depriving businesses of Mike Pence’s personal patronage.”

In the same piece, the Hoosier State governor suggested this whole mess can be traced back to Obamacare.

Many states have enacted [Religious Freedom Restoration Acts] of their own … but Indiana never passed such a law. Then in 2010 came the Affordable Care Act, which renewed concerns about government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby and the University of Notre Dame both filed lawsuits challenging provisions that required the institutions to offer certain types of insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

Last year the Supreme Court upheld religious liberty in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, based on the federal RFRA. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the need for a RFRA at the state level became more important, as the federal law does not apply to states. To ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year the General Assembly enshrined these principles in Indiana law. I fully supported that action.

Hmm. Indiana businesses can now discriminate against gay people because of the ACA’s contraception policy?

This apparently wasn’t persuasive, either, leading Pence to announce this morning his support for a legislative “fix.”

The question persists: How did Pence not see this coming?

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