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Lawmaker On ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill: ‘Baking A Cake Is Not Persecution’

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Only Jewish Lawmaker In West Virginia House Emotionally Denounces Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The West Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday took up one of dozens of anti-LGBT bills making their way through state legislatures this year. Most in some way try to make discriminating against LGBT people – especially same-sex couples – legal, by letting anyone or any company, corporation, or organization claim to have a “sincerely held religious or moral belief” against same-sex marriage or even LGBT people in general.

The House debate Thursday was contentious. For two hours lawmakers battled with HB  4012, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), even though one supporter of the bill admitted that it “really doesn’t restore anything.”

Several lawmakers took to the floor to explain why the bill was supposedly necessary. 

Republican Delegate John Shott, according to The Register-Herald, “said he was dismayed at a Christmas party last year when a guest there said he had not displayed his Nativity scene this year because he ‘wasn’t sure whether it was legal or not, whether it was going to create any problems or not or whether somebody was going to complain.’ Shott said the party guest ‘just didn’t think it was worth the trouble.'”

“That really caused me to pause,” Shott told his fellow lawmakers. “We really live in a country of hyper-sensitivity. We have really become so paranoid,” he added, at expressing “the devotion that we feel to what is the foundation of this nation, and that’s religion.”

Democratic Delegate Mike Pushkin took to the floor, and in a very respectful and honest speech, explained that he was “offended by the intent” of the bill.

Pushkin said he attended a hearing that detailed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “is about protecting a religious minority from undue persecution.”

“I believe I am the only member of a religious minority elected to this body currently,” Pushkin said. “I’m Jewish. Religious freedom is very important to me. If it wasn’t for religious freedom I wouldn’t be here,” he stressed, adding that his family fled “real religious persecution” in Eastern Europe.

EARLIER: Watch: West Virginia Lawmaker Says If Gays Are Allowed Nondiscrimination Protections Pedophiles Will Get Them Too

“In my lifetime I cannot tell you what religious persecution is, because I’m an American, and we do not persecute people in America for religious beliefs, because we have the First Amendment to the Constitution, that’s very well written.”

Asking what the real reason behind the RFRA is, Pushkin concluded it’s because “same-sex marriage is now legal in West Virginia.” He called the bill a “pushback” from people who are “not persecuted, but possibly inconvenienced.”

He offered as an example of religious inconvenience a meeting he had to attend as a state lawmaker on the most holiest of days on the Jewish Calendar, Rosh Hashanah.

“I did my job,” Pushkin said, adding that he was late for religious services. “That was an inconvenience.”

“I didn’t stand on the courthouse steps and cry about it, I didn’t really say much,” he said. “Mike Huckabee didn’t fly into West Virginia and hold my hand on the courthouse steps,” Pushkin said, raising his arm in a manner similar to the now-iconic image of the Baptist preacher standing with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.

“It was a scheduling problem that interfered with my religious beliefs.”

Pushkin then offered an example of the difference between religious inconvenience and religious persecution.

“Having to bake a cake when you are a professional baker, and having somebody pay you to bake a cake is not discrimination. It could, possibly, be seen as an inconvenience,” Pushkin offered. “But you’re a baker.”

“I don’t see that, really as an inconvenience. It’s somebody choosing to do their job,” he said, then, paused in frustration.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, baking a cake is not persecution. Getting baked in an oven is persecution,” Pushkin said, clearly alluding to the millions of Jews and other people slaughtered in Nazi Germany.

The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday passed by an overwhelming majority, 72-26. It now moves on to the Senate.

There is a change.org petition you can sign asking the Senate to not vote for hate.

 

Image via Facebook
Video via WV House Democrats

 

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

Just 9 Republicans Joined Democrats to Uphold the Rule of Law and Vote to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

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Only nine House Republicans joined with every Democrat in voting to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress. Thursday afternoon’s final vote was 229-202.

Bannon refused to obey a lawful congressional subpoena ordering him to hand over documents and to submit to congressional investigators for a deposition. His legal defense was mocked by experts after he tried to invoke executive privilege.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise had directed House Republicans to vote against the motion.

Top voting rights attorney Marc Elias warns against praising the nine Republicans for doing the right thing in this one instance: “all nine of them voted against voting rights legislation,” he tweeted.

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News

‘Act of War’: Trump Blasted for ‘Chilling’ Statement Calling Election an ‘Insurrection’

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Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president, on Thursday issued what is being called a “chilling” statement on the election and the insurrection he incited.

“The insurrection took place on November 3, Election Day. January 6 was the Protest!” Trump said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh simply and clearly calls it an “act of war.”

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) during debate on the House floor has “repeatedly” been “calling on Republicans to denounce the Trump statement,” according to reporter Jamie Dupree.

“All my colleagues were elected on November 3,” McGovern said. “If you believe that Election Day was an insurrection, then your election results are illegitimate.”

McGovern is not the only one to blast the Trump statement:

Some journalists are also slamming the former president’s latest remarks.

S.V. Dáte, the White House correspondent at HuffPost weighed in, saying, “Donald Trump tried to overthrow American democracy after he lost his election by 7 million votes, but nearly a year later, he’s still lying. About all of it.”

Washington Post national political reporter Felicia Sonmez called it a “chilling statement … that makes clear his stance on peaceful democracy vs. violent insurrection.”

Washington Post White House bureau chief Ashley Parker pointed to the statement and said: “In which Trump’s shamelessness continues to be his political super power.”

ProPublica Senior Reporter Peter Elkind says: “This is the position of the widely embraced leader of the GOP. Republicans all behind that?”

More:

 

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Garland Destroys GOP Congressman’s False Suggestion His School Board Memo Calls Parents Terrorists

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday morning was forced to respond to repeated Republican false claims about his memo directing the DOJ to hold “discussions” with local leaders about threats of violence made against school board members, and several times had to push back hard against false accusations made by GOP Congressmen.

Franklin Graham, Stephen Miller, and countless others on the right for weeks have been falsely claiming that Garland has ordered DOJ to investigate parents merely for opposing school board decisions, mostly on mask mandates and what they claim is “critical race theory.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) on Wednesday during a Judiciary Committee hearing falsely suggested Garland was calling parents’ challenging school boards domestic terrorists.

“One example of a so-called terrorist incident was a parent, merely questioning whether school board members had earned their high school diplomas. Now that might have been rude, but does that seem like an act of domestic terrorism that you or your Justice Department ought to be investigating?” Chabot asked.

“Absolutely not,” Garland replied. “And I want to be clear the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish, about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in the schools. That is not what the memorandum is about at all, nor does it use the words ‘domestic terrorism’ or ‘Patriot Act.’ Like you, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism.”

As NCRM has previously reported, school board members and educators in at least nine states this year have been targeted with threats, death threats, and often racist death threats, including in Virginia, Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Vermont, according to local news reports.

Ironically, it was Congressman Chabot who, a decade ago, was legitimately accused of violating the First Amendment when his staffers directed local police to confiscate video cameras at the Congressman’s town hall event, held in a public school.

Chabot, ruffled and rebuffed by Garland’s response, decided to end the inquiry there.

“Thank you I’m nearly out of time.”

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