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TENNESSEE: Governor Vetoes Bill to Make Christian Bible Official State Book, Saying It Deserves More

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GOP Governor Tries to Find Way to Pacify Far Right Christian Lobby

The Holy Christian Bible will not be the official book of Tennessee. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has just vetoed a bill that would have placed the “Good Book” among other state symbols, including salamanders, the Barrett M82 sniper rifle, the Eastern box turtle, milk, bees, raccoons, tulip poplar trees, tomatoes, the largemouth bass and the channel catfish, and the square dance.

“In addition to the constitutional issues with the bill, my personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text,” Haslam wrote in his veto. “If we believe that the Bible is the word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance.”

Lawmakers are in session for another week, should they decide to try to overturn his veto.

Less than two weeks ago it took state lawmakers less than 30 minutes to pass the bill and rush it off to the governor’s desk, despite, as the governor suggested, the fact that it’s unconstitutional. 

As NCRM reported earlier, the bill’s sponsor is Sen. Steve Southerland, the Republican Caucus Chaplain. Southerland “said it is aimed at highlighting the historical significance of the Bible in Tennessee, not as an official endorsement of a religion,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Southerland told his colleagues that should the bill become law then challenged in court, the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) promised to defend it. FACT says that “healthy families and communities come about when basic values from the Bible are embraced and upheld.”

The only other state to have an official book is Massachusetts. In 2003 the state chose the 1941 children’s classic Make Way for Ducklings.

While the Governor has his veto pen handy, perhaps he’ll maintain his momentum and veto HB 1840, which will allow therapists to turn away LGBT people if they can claim that treating them would violate their “sincerely held principles.”

 

Image via Wikimedia

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CHURCH POLITICIZING RELIGION

‘I Dare You to Deny Me Communion’: 60 Democrats Blast Bishops for Move to Punish Biden by ‘Weaponizing’ Eucharist

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They were warned.

Before their three-day meeting that culminated Friday with a vote to move toward denying America’s second Catholic President, Joe Biden, communion over his stance of supporting a woman’s right to choose an abortion, the Vatican told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to not politicize communion or other sacraments.

They did it anyway, and now powerful Democrats – and many others – are furious.

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat of California, and a Catholic, with a massive 1.6 million followers on Twitter, threatened the Bishops.

His comments were in response to Friday’s news of the USCCB’s politically-motivated decision, and in response to SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile, who asked if other Catholics will be denied communion over their “sins.” Signorile pointed to Newt Gingrich, whose history includes adultery, divorce, and re-marriage. Gingrich’s wife was President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the Vatican.

Another California Democrat, Rep. Jared Huffman, suggested the church should lose its tax-exempt status.

Lieu and Huffman were far from the only Democratic lawmakers to speak out against the USCCB’s move toward denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” 60 House Democrats said in a three-page “Statement of Principles” letter released Friday afternoon.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of abortion is contradictory.”

And they carefully noted the hypocrisy of the Bishops, who have never even suggested denying communion to Republican lawmakers who support the death penalty or engage if the separation of families at the border and caging of children.

“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.”

Some other prominent House Democrats who signed on to the letter include Cheri Bustos, Joaquin Castro, Gerry Connolly, Rosa DeLauro, Debbie Dingell, Ruben Gallego, Marie Newman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jackie Speier.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

US Catholic Bishops Move Toward Denying Biden Communion in Political Decision Violating Vatican Direction

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly voted on Friday to move toward chastising President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, for his policies supporting and defending a woman’s right to choose an abortion. It is the first official step toward denying the U.S. President communion. Biden personally opposes abortion but believes it should be a safe, protected, and legal right, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

The Bishops voted 168-55 to create a “teaching document,” as NBC News reports, to serve as a “rebuke” of Biden and other Catholic politicians who support abortion. The Roman Catholic Church opposes the move.

“The Vatican has warned conservative American bishops to hit the brakes on their push to deny communion to politicians supportive of abortion rights — including President Biden, a faithful churchgoer and the first Roman Catholic to occupy the Oval Office in 60 years,” The New York Times reported Monday, suggesting the U.S. Bishops’ move is just as much a political gesture as a religious rebuke.

“Some leading bishops, whose priorities clearly aligned with former President Donald J. Trump, now want to reassert the centrality of opposition to abortion in the Catholic faith and lay down a hard line — especially with a liberal Catholic in the Oval Office.”

The Times reports the push to go after President Biden is being led by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles (photo), the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The focus of this proposed teaching document,” Archbishop Gomez wrote in a memo, “is on how best to help people to understand the beauty and the mystery of the Eucharist as the center of their Christian lives.”

But the Times noted the Vatican does not want “to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon,” Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and close ally of Francis, said.

Conservative American bishops were demanding “a strong rebuke of Biden,” NBC notes, “because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warned that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions across the country.”

 

Image of USCCB President José Horacio Gómez by Prayitno via Wikimedia and a CC license

 

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SENDING A MESSAGE

Watch: ‘Traitor’ Pence Heckled and Booed by Pro-Trump Christian ‘Faith & Freedom’ Conference Attendees

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The conservative Christian Faith & Freedom “Road to Majority” conference erupted early Friday afternoon as pro-Trump attendees heckled and booed likely 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pence, calling the former vice president a “traitor” for refusing to overturn a free and fair election on January 6.

Pence tried to ignore the verbal assaults, speaking over protestors. Some were escorted out of the room, according to a Tampa Bay Times editor:

Watch as Pence gets heckled. Video via Forbes‘ Andrew Solender:

 

 

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