Chaz Stevens Wants Alternative Plaques In Government Buildings That Display “In God We Trust”Â
After successfully erecting gay Pride “Festivus” poles at seven state capitols this year, Chaz Stevens has hatched a more devilish plot â€” literally.Â
Stevens, executive director of the Florida-based Humanity Fund, wants to put up “In Satan We Trust” banners in government buildings that display “In God We Trust.”Â
Just as with the Festivus poles, the goal of the “In Satan We Trust” banners is to highlight free speech and the separation of church and state.Â
“In the end, the right has James Oâ€™Keefe of the Veritas Project, and outside of the animal rights folks, those on the left sorely need my militant atheistic efforts,” Stevens wrote in an email to The New Civil Rights Movement. “You might not like me … you might even loathe me, but I get results.”Â
It would be difficult to argue that Stevens didn’t get results with his gay Pride “Festivus” pole campaign this year. He drew national media attention by erecting them at state capitols in Washington, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida.Â
The 6-foot tall poles, adorned with 8-inch disco balls and wrapped in the colors of the LGBT rainbow, mark the Dec. 23 anti-commercial parody holiday made famous by an episode of the popular 1990’s TV sitcom, “Seinfeld.”Â
Although the Festivus pole campaign reached new heights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality, the first was erected in Florida two years ago.
“In December of 2013, I felt the religious symbols being displayed in the state of Florida capitol rotunda building were showing the state’s endorsement of a certain viewpoint. So I forced the state of Florida to allow me to erect a Festivus pole,” Stevens said.Â
â€œSure, a Festivus Pole is a silly gesture, but itâ€™s a world wide recognizable symbol that provides us with a vehicle to promote awareness to the issue of Christian privilege and the religious rightâ€™s manufacturedâ€ outrage, he added. Â
That type of outrage was evident this year in places like Oklahoma, where lawmakers complained the pole was “sacrilegious” and part of the “war on Christmas.” However, if states allowed nativity scenes but not Festivus poles, they likely would have invited lawsuits.Â
Next year, Stevens is aiming to place the poles in all 50 state capitols. But he’s also launching the “In Satan We Trust” campaign, beginning in Hallandale, Florida, where the mayor is pushing for an “In God We Trust” plaque.Â
According to In God We Trust America, a national group that advocates displaying the motto,Â 373 local governments in 15 states were doing so as of last year.Â
“In God We Trust,” which appears on US currency, has survived court challenges based on the establishment clause, but groups like the ACLU have questioned its legality in other contexts.Â
â€œEspecially in a courthouse or council chambers, people should not be made to feel like outsiders in their own community because they donâ€™t share the dominant religious view,â€ saidÂ Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina.Â
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters to 30 US law enforcement agencies, objecting to the display of “In God We Trust” on police cruisers.Â
In response to the letters, one Texas police chief told the foundation to “go fly a kite,” and right-wing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion saying the displays were legal, although he acknowledged there are noÂ court rulings addressing the specific issue.Â
According to Breitbart, some police officials believe displaying “In God We Trust” on cruisers somehow counters mounting criticism of law enforcement amid a series of controversial fatal shootings across the nation. Â Â
Stevens said the Humanity Fund is launching a nonprofit to fund the Festivus and “In Satan We Trust” projects, as well as partnering with a well-known legal firm that handles First Amendment cases. The group is also working on a documentary and plans to put up a KickStarter page in the next few weeks.Â
“If you proclaim yourself worried about the separation of church and state, then you either get off your ass and get in the game, or open your wallet,” he wrote.
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Watch: Schumer Compares McConnell to Southern Segregationists for Blocking Voting Rights
On Tuesday, following Senate Republicans’ lockstep vote to block debate on voting rights, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gave a thunderous speech comparing Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to the southern segregationists who fought the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“Republican state legislatures across the country are engaged in the most sweeping voter suppression in 80 years,” said Schumer. “Capitalizing on and catalogued by Donald Trump’s big lie. These state governments are making it harder for younger, poorer, urban and non-white Americans to vote. Earlier today, the Republican leader told reporters that, quote, ‘Regardless of what may be happening in some states, there is no rationale for federal intervention.’ The Republican leader flatly stated that no matter what the states do to undermine our democracy — voter suppression laws, phony audits, partisan takeovers of local election boards — the Senate should not act.”
“The Republican leader uses the language and the logic of the southern senators in the ’60s who defended states rights, and it is an indefensible position for any senator, any senator, let alone the minority leader to hold,” said Schumer. “When John Lewis was about to cross that bridge in Selma, he didn’t know what waited for him on the other side. He didn’t know how long his march would be. And his ultimate success was never guaranteed. But he started down that bridge anyway. Today Democrats started our march to defend the voting rights of all Americans. It could be a long march, but it is one we are going to make.”
Pelosi Will Create Select Committee to Investigate January 6 Insurrection After GOP Kills Bill for Bipartisan Group
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just told Democrats she will create a special Select committee to investigate Donald Trump’s violent January 6 insurrection, a deadly attempted coup.
WASHINGTON (AP) — AP source: House Speaker Pelosi tells Democrats she will create new committee to investigate Jan. 6 attack at Capitol.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 22, 2021
The House voted to approve a bipartisan committee but Senate Republicans killed that bill.
Pelosi made the announcement as Senate Republicans killed debate on the voting rights bill.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
GOP Senators Orchestrate ‘Blockade’ of Key Biden Agenda Bills: Voting Rights Bill Killed, Infrastructure in Doubt
Republicans Tuesday evening killed debate on the For the People Act, a key component of Democrats’ agenda to protect democracy, expand and strengthen voting rights, and reduce the influence of dark money in elections. As Senators were voting on the motion to begin debate on the bill, news broke that the GOP Whip, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota had announced another critical piece of Democratic legislation, the infrastructure bill, was even further in doubt.
GOP Senators appeared to be orchestrating a complete and total shutdown of key legislation critical to President Joe Biden’s progressive agenda.
Democratic Majority Leader Schumer immediately denounced Republicans’ “blockade.”
Sen. Thune also said Republicans would oppose a slimmed down version of a voting rights bill:
Thune contradicts Blunt when asked just now if GOP leadership would come out against narrower measures like the VRA: “I suspect yes.”
“It just replaces a state’s sovereignty with the federal government, and that’s a bridge I don’t think our members are willing to cross.” https://t.co/mmVduM5fPH
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) June 22, 2021
60 votes were required to begin debate on the voting rights bill. The motion failed in a 50-50 vote. As voting was taking place GOP Minority Leader Mitch mcConnell could be seen huddling with other top Republican Senators including John Cornyn of Texas and John Kennedy of Louisiana.
The only option to pass the bill now would be for a simple majority of Senators agree to kill the 60-vote filibuster. Some are supporting a modification to 55 votes. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona had steadfastly refused to support killing the filibuster.
“This is a dark day in this country,” Al Sharpton said on MSNBC.
“This is a dark day for Republicans,” host Nicolle Wallace replied. “Republicans won’t just walk over norms, they will burn them down,” she told host Ari Melber during the handoff.
Voting rights expert Ari Berman weighed in, chastising the GOP:
Vote on For the People Act isn’t on legislation itself, but whether to start debate on the bill. Republicans are so afraid of democracy they won’t even allow a debate on how to fix it
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) June 22, 2021
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