Turn on any cable news show and youâ€™ll hear conservatives, particularly from the Religious Right, giving long tirades about religious freedom and how the Left is seeking to strip it away from good God-fearing Americans. But if you watch how the Religious Right works in court, you know that itâ€™s actually the other way around.
Religious freedom has been a strongly-held belief in America since the very beginning. All three branches of government have worked hard to preserve the rights of Americans to choose for themselves whether they wished to be Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, or an atheist. Itâ€™s a fundamental part of the system that our country built itself on: the right to believe as you will, and to change your mind about it.
Legislative bodies and the courts have centered those rights around the individualâ€”allowing the individual to choose for themselves how they would or would not believe in a god, rather than imbuing an institution with the right to choose for them.
If you were to believe the talking points of conservative punditryland, you might think that the right to believe (or not) as you will is under attack from the Left, and that no-good liberals (particular the gays) are trying to force Americans to accept their wicked ways and deny those good God-fearing citizens their right to worship in peace.
But how is this actually playing out in the courts and in the legislatures?
In theÂ Sebelius v. Hobby LobbyÂ case before the U.S. Supreme Court right now, the owners of the private for-profit corporation Hobby Lobby chain are seeking an exemption from a provision within the Affordable Care Act that requires that the health insurance their employees receive include coverage for birth control methods such as morning after pills and IUDs. Hobby Lobbyâ€™s owners, the Green family (who happen to be evangelical Christians)Â say that they consider such birth control methods to be abortifacientsâ€”despite the medical and scientific community pointing out that they are notâ€”and as such their company should be exempted from the Affordable Care Act because providing their employees with insurance coverage for such methods is a violation of their religious freedom.
Mississippiâ€™s Religious Freedom Restoration Act
On April 1 this year (appropriately), the conservative-controlled Mississippi state legislature passed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was quickly signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant (R). The bill allows businesses to turn away customers and/or employees (such as LGBTQ people) because the owner of the business happens to disagree with them on a religious level.
A similar law was passed just a few months prior by the Arizona legislature, but Governor Jan Brewer had vetoed it after coming under enormous national pressure and media scrutiny.
What both of these situations highlight is the concerted effort by the leaders of the Religious Right to fundamentally alter the way religious freedom works. Where in the past it has always been applied toâ€”and designed forâ€”the individual, Christian Right legal organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly known as Alliance Defense Fund of Prop 8 notoriety) are seeking to strip those rights away from you and me, and bestow them upon businesses themselves. Those corporate religious beliefs can then be used to circumvent civil rights laws, if they happen to conflict with the businessesâ€™ newly-bestowed conscience.
What does this mean for us? It wonâ€™t just affect LGBTQ people. If the only religious beliefs that matter are what your boss happens to believe, employees across the country will be forced into complying with those beliefs or risk their (and their familyâ€™s) livelihood and well being. If a business owner happens to belong to a faith that believes women should always be subservient to men, they could legally be allowed to deny women managerial positions (or not hire them at all). Muslims could refuse to hire Jewish workers, or keep them at lower pay rates than their co-workers. White business owners in the South could use religion as an excuse to deny service to Black customers.
Now, neither the Hobby Lobby case or the Mississippi law go so far as to completely open the floodgates for all of these civil rights abuses on their own, but each are significant cracks in the wall. And once precedent is set, the next exemption is that much easier to create.
If we are going to shore up the foundations of religious freedom, itâ€™s going to take more than just quippy catchphrases. The Religious Right has been enormously successful capturing the dialogue, and painting all outsiders, particularly the LGBTQ community, as the enemies of our rights. Weâ€™ve got to help the nation understand that the leaders of the Right are seeking to not only strip the religious freedom of LGBTQ people, but of every citizenâ€”no matter what their beliefs.
Eric EthingtonÂ has been specializing in political messaging, communications strategy, and public relations for more than a decade. Originally hailing from Salt Lake City, he now works in Boston for a social justice think tank. Ericâ€™s writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Telegraph, and The Public Eye magazine. Heâ€™s worked as a radio host, pundit, blogger, activist and electoral campaign strategist. He also writes atÂ NuanceStillMatters.comÂ
Follow Author Eric Ethington on TwitterÂ @EricEthington
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3 Dead in Current Active Shooting in Austin – Outrage as Texas Lawmakers Move to Make Unlicensed Open Carry Legal
Three people are dead in a shooting in Austin, Texas, with the gunman is at large, per multiple reports and the Austin-Travis County EMS:
UPDATE: Active Attack incident in the 9600 blk of Great Hills Trl; To this point #ATCEMSMedics have obtained Deceased On Scene pronouncements of 3 adult patients. This is still an active scene, please continue to avoid the area. More to Follow…
— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) April 18, 2021
“Police and medics are staging at a parking lot in the area where a Starbucks and Trader Joe’s are located, but the actual scene of the shooting is further down Great Hills Trail, according to officials,” KVUE reports.
KVUE senior reporter Tony Plohetski is on-scene:
UPDATE: Choppers continue to circle overhead as authorities pursue suspect who reportedly remains at large. https://t.co/l2nLV8OvPw
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) April 18, 2021
There have been at least 150 mass shooting this year.
As reports flood social media many expressed outrage at Texas GOP lawmakers who this past week voted to eliminate requirements for gun licenses, which would allow open or concealed carry of handguns without a license.
Rather than work to resolve the problem of gun violence – Texas exacerbates it.
This week, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow adults to carry handguns without a license.https://t.co/5vTFrwG3IJ
— NastyNanciResists Vote BLUE in 2022 MAGA is EVIL (@NanciAma) April 18, 2021
— Karebear 🐻🌈 (@karenessi_) April 18, 2021
Another mass shooting today. This time, Austin Texas. At least 3 dead.
It looks like Texas is also in the middle of trying to approve “Constitutional Carry” — making it legal to carry a gun without a permit. 🤦♂️
— Angry Staffer (@Angry_Staffer) April 18, 2021
A few days ago, we did everything we could to stop Permit-less carry from passing the TX House.
Here we are again, an active shooting situation in Austin that has left 3 people dead so far.
This should NOT be normalized.
— Chris Vasquez🌹 (@CVasquezForUs) April 18, 2021
There’s an active shooter in Austin. Last week, the San Antonio airport was shot up. And right now, Texas lawmakers are trying to pass a law allowing people who haven’t had background checks or training carry guns in public, schools, bars, polling places, stadiums and hospitals. https://t.co/Wx2TR1YaAR
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 18, 2021
Me too. 3 dead in a shooting in Austin, TX today. It happened in an area I used to frequent when I lived there and that my family still does. 😕 And Texas is trying to make it *easier* to open carry without a permit.
— Patricia Farley (@mspatricia317) April 18, 2021
Oh look another mass shooting in America. This time close to me. This shouldn’t be a daily occurrence. Also I’m enraged with Texas for the bill they just passed allowing people to open carry without a permit…. https://t.co/TmE0a7n8gw
— GlitterPantsMcGee (@dalekgirlmandy) April 18, 2021
Maria Bartiromo and Stephen Miller Panic Over Voting Rights Putting Democrats in Charge ‘Forever’
Fox News host Maria Bartiromo and former Trump administration official Stephen Miller worried over the weekend that Democrats will be in charge “forever” if voting rights are expanded or protected.
During an interview on Bartiromo’s Sunday morning program, the Fox News host accused social media platforms of inflicting “cancel culture” on conservative voices.
Miller argued that Republicans should pass laws protecting Chrisitians on social media as soon as the party regains control of government.
“Yeah, will Republicans have the chance?” Bartiromo agreed. “That’s the whole point of H.R. 1, Nancy Pelosi wanting to put this bill through so that Democrats are in charge forever or certainly decades. Your thoughts on election integrity and that Democrat [sic] H.R. 1 bill.”
“It’s a real sign of the threat to the health of our democracy,” Miller opined. “When democracy faces risk, when democracy is imperiled, what you see happening instead is the party in power tries to change the rules of the game structurally to stay in power.”
Miller argued that the voting rights bill is “a very dangerous path to go down.”
“H.R. 1 is saying, now that we’re in power, let’s fundamentally change the rules of how elections are conducted to stay in power,” he continued.
“Unbelievable,” Bartiromo gasped.
“That’s a very scary thing,” Miller said. “And so if you care about democracy, you should all say with one voice, no, it is the right of every state in this union to set their own election rules as desired by their own citizens to protect the security and integrity of their own elections. That’s fundamental!”
“It’s all quite extraordinary,” Bartiromo lamented.
Watch the video below from Fox News.
‘Violent, Vain, Boasting Oafs’: GOP’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus Brutally Dismantled by Historians as ‘American Fascists’
On Saturday, Newsweek profiled a number of historians outraged at the effort by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to create an “America First” congressional caucus that would defend “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”
Grand View University associate professor of medieval history Thomas Lacaque did not mince words: “These American fascists have no relation to Anglos or Saxons, the terminology is clearly chosen on far right lines. They do remind me of Beowulf, though —violent, vain, boasting oafs who think killing is governance and will die doing dumb shit leaving the nation in ruins.”
“There is no such thing as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ political traditions’ unless Margorie [sic] Taylor Greene is talking about Old English charters and she isn’t,” wrote University of Toronto medieval scholar Mary Rambaran-Olm. “If she wants to return to those, she’ll have to stop advocating for gun use. ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is being weaponized by the far-right.” She added that the very term “Anglo-Saxon” is a “racist dog-whistle, inaccurate and generally sucks balls.”
The new caucus, which Greene co-founded with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and has attracted membership interest from Reps. Barry Moore (R-AL) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), has even drawn criticism from other Republicans.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) responded to the news by saying, “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles.” And Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a frequent critic of Trump loyalists, has called for any Republican who joins the caucus to be stripped of committee assignments and expelled from the Republican conference.
Image via Facebook
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