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DOJ Refuses Requests for Text of Speech Jeff Sessions Gave to an Anti-Gay Hate Group (But Here It Is)

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Sends Speech to Right Wing Website

The Department of Justice has either ignored or refused requests from media outlets like Buzzfeed, and at least one progressive advocacy organization, People for the American Way, to hand over the text of a speech Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered in California behind closed doors to a group that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of active anti-gay hate groups.

The speech was given by Sessions to the Alliance Defending Freedom on Tuesday. It was published Thursday afernoon by The Federalist, a right wing conservative website. Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden was the first to report Sessions would be delivering the speech. On Thursday Holden published his report on the speech, and via Twitter posted the Freedom of Information (FOIA) request he filed with the DOJ that was ignored.

“A person familiar with the situation tells me the Justice Dept DID provide Sessions’s remarks to The Federalist,” Holden reports. It’s unclear why the DOJ chose a small right wing website rather than share the text with all who requested it, or why it did not just post the text on its site as a matter of course. 

Was Sessions or the DOJ concerned about its content? They have good reason to be.

RELATED: DOJ Refuses to Explain Why Jeff Sessions Is Speaking to an Anti-Gay Hate Group Tonight Behind Closed Doors

The DOJ’s refusal to release the text of his remarks has highlighted the group’s extremism, causing some on the right to lambast the hate group label. But the SPLC is clear in the criteria they use to define hate groups, and among them is the repeated spreading of false statements in an effort to marginalize groups of people. The SPLC has produced a 949 word profile of the attacks on LGBT people made by the ADF.

All that said, now we have the text of the Attorney General’s speech, and much of it is of great concern.

Sessions talks about “the Western heritage of faith and reason,” and says, “I propose that in America our understanding of religious freedom can only be understood within that heritage.”

“Heritage” is a dog whistle term, especially concerning when people like Sessions – who has a long history of racist allegations tailing him – use it.

So our freedom as citizens has always been inextricably linked with our religious freedom as a people,” Sessions says. But he does, surprisingly, add: “It has protected both the freedom to worship and the freedom not to believe as well.”

Sessions then laments, “the cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief. And in recent years, many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack. This feeling is understandable. Just last year, a Harvard Law professor publicly urged judges to ‘take aggressively liberal positions…The culture wars are over. They lost; we won…Taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers.'”

It’s clear in his speech that Sessions has taken sides, and is ill-prepared to see all Americans equally. His speech reveals an “us vs. them” approach, and as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, that is chilling.

And he doubles down, in a very partisan manner.

I believe that this recent election was significantly impacted by this concern and that this motivated many voters. President Trump made a promise that was heard. In substance, he said he respected people of faith and he promised to protect them in the free exercise of their faith. This promise was well received.”

And then, it comes.

In all of this litigation and debate, this Department of Justice will never allow this secular government of ours to demand that sincere religious beliefs be abandoned,” Sessions says. “We will not require American citizens to give intellectual assent to doctrines that are contrary to their religious beliefs. And they must be allowed to exercise those beliefs as the First Amendment guarantees.”

“We will defend freedom of conscience resolutely. That is inalienable. That is our heritage.”

Heritage, again.

What does Sessions intend to do when a religious belief contradicts the law?

Well, here’s the answer, a very partisan support of Donald Trump.

“Since he was elected, President Trump has been an unwavering defender of religious liberty. He has promised that under a Trump Administration, ‘the federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs.’ And he is fulfilling that promise. First, President Trump appointed an outstanding Supreme Court justice with a track record of applying the law as written, Neil Gorsuch. I have confidence that he will be faithful to the full meaning of the First Amendment and protect the rights of all Americans.”

And then, what progressives, liberals, LGBT people, women, minorities, and many others should see as a warning. The elevation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The president has also directed me to issue guidance on how to apply federal religious liberty protections. The department is finalizing this guidance, and I will soon issue it.”

The guidance will also help agencies follow the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Congress enacted RFRA so that, if the federal government imposes a burden on somebody’s religious practice, it had better have a compelling reason. That is a demanding standard, and it’s the law of the land. We will follow it just as faithfully as we follow every other federal law. If we’re going to ensure that religious liberty is adequately protected and our country remains free, then we must ensure that RFRA is followed.

Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as a problem to be managed. The federal government will actively find ways to accommodate people of all faiths. The protections enshrined in the Constitution and our laws protect all Americans, including when we work together, speak in the public square, and when we interact with our government. We don’t waive our constitutional rights when we participate fully in public life and civic society.

This administration, and the upcoming guidance, will be animated by that same American view that has led us for 241 years: that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square. It has served this country well, and it has made us not only one of the tolerant countries in the world, it has also helped make us the freeist and most generous. Thank you.

Consider this fair warning. 

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Florida Christian School Warns Parents All LGBTQ Students ‘Will Be Asked to Leave Immediately’

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Citing the Book of Leviticus a Florida K-12 private Christian school is telling parents any student found to be LGBTQ will be asked to leave “immediately.”

NBC News reports it “obtained an email from the Grace Christian School in Valrico, about 20 miles east of Tampa, sent before the beginning of the school year by Administrator Barry McKeen.”

The school’s email lumps being LGBTQ, or engaging in acts including “bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography” as “lifestyles.”

“We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgender identity/lifestyle, self-identification, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography are sinful in the sight of God and the church (Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1; I Corinthians 6:9; I Thessalonians 4:2-7),” the email reads. “Students who are found participating in these lifestyles will be asked to leave the school immediately,”

READ MORE: Authoritarian Orban at CPAC Texas Delivers Anti-LGBTQ Attack on Marriage to Standing Ovation: ‘Leave Our Kids Alone’

NBC News says the “June 6 correspondence to parents cited scripture and said that students will be referred to by the ‘gender on their birth certificates’ during the school year beginning this month. While the email refers to ‘biological gender,’ the National Institute of Health defines ‘gender’ as a social construct, as opposed to ‘sex,’ which is the biological difference between females and males.”

On its website Grace Christian says annual fees are up to $6595, plus items including books and other fees.

“It is our desire to provide the best Christian education and training for ALL children, for God is not a respecter of persons,” Grace Christian says. It calls “humanism, materialism, secularism, and New Age” philosophies “godless.”

The school’s website also says, “Students are only admitted when the administration believes that the parents and their church are in full support of the purposes and policies of the School. Expressions of dissention or lack of support for the School’s mission, policies, or leadership are grounds for dismissal of any students of a family in which such action occurs.”

“ALL STUDENTS are expected to abide by rules set forth by the administration. Attendance at Grace Christian School is considered a privilege and not a right. Students forfeit this privilege if they do not conform to the standards and ideals set forth by the administration. The school may insist on the withdrawal of any student that, in the opinion of the administration, does not conform to the spirit of the ministry.”

 

 

 

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Watch: McConnell Blasts GOP ‘Candidate Quality’ as He Admits Democrats Likely to Keep Senate

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Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a surprising admission Thursday: the GOP’s candidates running for Senate may not be good enough for Republicans to take control of the chamber he once led as Majority Leader.

“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell responded when asked at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon about his projections for the upcoming November elections, as NBC News reported.

“Senate races are just different,” he explained. “Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

READ MORE: Watch: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Likens Mitch McConnell to Segregationists Like Strom Thurmond by Using His Own Words

“Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly,” McConnell added, wrongly.

The country is not 50-50.

According to a Gallup poll conducted over a three week period in July, 28% of Americans identify as Republican, 29% as Democratic, and 41% as independent.

Thanks in large part to Donald Trump, “candidate quality” is definitely a challenge for the GOP.

There are 35 Senate seats up for (re)election in November, 14 are held by Democrats and 21 by Republicans. Possibly sensing the headwinds five GOP Senators and just one Democratic Senator are not running for reelection and are retiring.

Among the Republican candidates running, several likely will held Democrats keep control of the chamber, including Mehmet Oz (Pennsylvania) and Herschel Walker (Georgia).

The GOP pulling cash out of races it may think its candidates cannot win.

“As midterm election campaigns heat up in the Senate’s top battlegrounds, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is canceling millions of dollars of ad spending, sending GOP campaigns and operatives into a panic and upending the committee’s initial spending plan,” Politico on Monday reported.

Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight currently shows Democrats have a 64 in 100 chance of retaining the Senate, a number that’s been growing: On July 22 it was 50-50.

Watch Leader McConnell below or at this link:

 

 

 

 

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Herschel Walker Raked in Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Giving Paid Speeches While a Candidate for Senate: Report

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Like nearly every candidate for elected office, entrepreneur and former NFL star Herschel Walker, the Republican Party’s nominee for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia, has been giving speeches since he announced his run for office. Unlike nearly every candidate for public office, Walker has been charging for those speeches.

Not entrance fees for an audience to hear him speak, but actual speaking fees, paid by lobbying groups and even non-profits like a Boys & Girls Club in Georgia.

And he’s racked up big money doing it as a declared candidate for elected office.

The fees he says on his disclosure form he’s received range from $12,000 to $60,000.

After having served as a U.S. Senator and then as a U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was flogged by Republicans for giving paid speeches after leaving the Obama administration, during the time she was a private citizen and far from declaring any intention to run for office.

READ MORE: Herschel Walker’s Remarks Against Same-Sex Marriage Resurface: ‘Each State Can Just Stop All of That’

But Walker is making money as a candidate for elected office, according to The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberg.

A lot of money.

“Herschel Walker—who has so far only agreed to participate in the one debate that provides topics in advance—has earned $569,000 in speaking fees since Jan. 2021,” Sollenberger reports, citing Walker’s financial disclosure.

“More than half” of that $569,000 “came after he launched his Senate campaign last August.”

That means Walker has raked in well over a quarter million dollars while a declared candidate for public office.

NCRM examined Walker’s annual SEC filing, dated August 15, 2022. It lists his declaration of candidacy for office as August 24, 2021.

READ MORE: ‘Pathological Liar’: Herschel Walker’s Own Advisors Don’t Trust Him, Think He Isn’t Mentally Fit for the Job – Report

In February of this year Walker was paid $60,000 by the University of North Texas for its Kuehne Speaker Series. Last year, before officially declaring as a candidate for office Walker was paid $35,000 by the All Sports Association, and $25,000 by the Boys & Girls Club of Gainesville, Georgia.

These payments and many others – 21 in total – are listed under the section titled “Honoraria Payments or Payments to Charity in Lieu of Honoraria.” The filing asks, “Did any individual or organization pay you or your spouse more than $200, or donate any amount to a charity on your or your spouse’s behalf, for an article, speech, or appearance?”

Walker answered “Yes.”

The filing asks, “Who received payment?” For each of the 21 entries Walker indicated “Self.”

Under “Activity,” each response was “Speech.”

READ MORE: Herschel Walker Calls for Creation of Federal Agency to Spy on Americans’ Social Media Posts to Prevent Gun Violence

There are many others.

Three days after officially declaring himself a candidate Walker was paid $35,000 by the Texas Bankers Association. A few days later $20,000 by the Georgia Realtors Association. $35,000 in October by the Baldwin County Community Drug Foundation.

In December of last year the Atlana Journal-Constitution reported Walker is “the richest man in Georgia Senate race.”

“U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker is worth somewhere between $29 million and $65 million, and he pulled down about $4 million in income from late 2020 through late 2021, according to financial disclosures he filed late Wednesday,” the paper reported.

“About $400,000 of his earnings were from speeches he delivered to over a dozen groups, including charities such as the Boys and Girls Club that paid him as much as $27,000,” the Journal-Constitution confirmed at the time.

Walker, who was the subject of great controversy after The Daily Beast revealed in a series of reports that Walker, despite criticizing Black men for being absent fathers, has three secret children, and says he lied to his own campaign about their existence. In addition to his adult son, a popular social media influencer. One of the three is an adult but the other two and young children.

Walker has also taken money for speaking to anti-abortion organizations.

“He was paid $20,000 in October to speak to the Mid City Women’s Clinic in Hurst, Texas, and $27,000 in November to speak to the Pregnant Choice medical group in Augusta. Both are among a network of clinics that seek to deter abortions.”

 

Image: Screenshot via Facebook

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