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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

WATCH: Mike Pence Says More Americans Believe in God Now Because Donald Trump Is President

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Vice President Mike Pence delivered the commencement address to graduating students at a small, private, ultra-conservative Christian college in Michigan Saturday afternoon. Many consider the former Indiana governor a devout Catholic, and his speech certainly supported that perception.

The Vice President told the Hillsdale College graduating class that because Donald Trump is now president, more Americans believe in God.

“Faith in America is rising again because President Trump and our entire administration have been advancing the very principles that you learned here in the halls of Hillsdale College,” Pence said. “The principles that have always been the source of America’s greatness and strength.”

“Facts are facts,” Pence also insisted. “Faith is rising across America.”

Hillsdale happens to have major ties to the family of Betsy DeVos. The  college “considers itself a trustee of our Western philosophical and theological inheritance,” according to its website. The Education Secretary and her brother, Erik Prince, are graduates of the school. Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security services company, sits on its board. He has been questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Pence also made other questionable claims – even claims that seemed to be at odds with other remarks in his own speech.

“Faith has always been the wellspring of hope for millions of Americans, and from our Founding, faith has been the foundation of our freedom, and religion essential to our republic,” the Vice President said.

“The percentage of Americans who live out their religion on a weekly basis – by praying, going to church, and reading and believing in the Bible – has remained remarkably consistent over the decades, even as the population of the United States has grown by leaps and bounds,” he claimed.

That’s actually false, as this Gallup study shows.

Pence also told the students that on a per capita basis, Americans are four times as religious as they were when the country was founded.

Aside from being able to get Vice President Pence as its commencement address speaker, Hillsdale college is famous another, albeit less distinguished reason. Last December Republicans tried to exempt the school from a tax on university endowments. The amendment was craftily worded to exclude from having to pay the tax an college or university that does not accept any federal funds. Hillsdale is the only college or university that does not accept any federal funds. Democrats were able to defeat the handout.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘Love This Guy’: Franklin Graham Praises Mayor for Having ‘A Lot of Guts’ After He Attacked LGBT People

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Evangelical empire scion Franklin Graham has made attacking LGBTQ people a core principle of his self-styled “ministry,” aka Facebook. After New Jersey Mayor Alfonso Cirulli delivered an 11-minute anti-gay screed during a township committee meeting Graham took to social media to praise the Republican for calling the LGBTQ community “an affront to almighty God.”

“Love this guy—he’s got a lot of guts!” Graham told his nearly 8 million followers on Facebook.

Mayor Cirulli told elected town officials he opposes the state’s new law that requires schools to teach students about the contributions LGBTQ people have made to society.

“We’ve crossed over the line into absurdity,” Cirulli said. And he urged residents to vote state lawmakers out, saying, “no group has a right to force others to comply with their beliefs, deprive them of their First Amendment rights, and strip them of their parents of how to morally raise their children.”

Graham totally agreed.

Related: Franklin Graham’s Astonishing Ungodly Hypocrisy

“In the world we live in,” Graham wrote, “the truth of God’s Word many times isn’t received well. But that shouldn’t stop us from standing with God’s teachings from the Bible. Pray for Mayor Cirulli—and pray that this state mandate will be reversed.”

Graham has been preaching his version of the anti-gay gospel for years, but in recent times many have grown sick and tired of his ministry of hate.

After telling Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to “repent” or suffer “eternal damnation” for marrying his husband, Graham’s hometown newspaper’s editorial board made clear where it stands.

“It’s been a little while since Franklin Graham offered up a shovel of moral manure,” The Charlotte Observer’s editorial board wrote in “The gloriously growing irrelevance of Franklin Graham.”

They called his attack on Buttigieg “a typically ripe bite of bigotry from Graham,” and said his “perspective on homosexuality has been pushed to the fringe.”

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘Broadest Protection of Religious Exercise’: Trump’s New Labor Rule Would Allow Massive Discrimination by For-Profit Companies

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President Donald Trump’s Labor Department on Wednesday announced a new rule that not only would codify the “right” to discriminate into practice, but would help corporations do so. The new rule applies to federal contractors, who employ up to one quarter of all employees. As NCRM reported earlier, it would allow any company, corporation, or organization with a federal contract that claims it is either religious or faith-based or follows any sort of belief system – so-called “religion-exercising organizations” – to discriminate based on those beliefs.

The word “religion” appears 241 times in the 46-page draft document.

The draft rule says “religious employers can condition employment on acceptance of or adherence
to religious tenets,” and “should be construed to provide the broadest protection of religious exercise permitted by the Constitution and other laws.”

The ACLU calls it ” taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion. Period.”

Buzzfeed calls it “Trump’s latest move to let religious people sidestep civil rights policies,” and says it allows federal contractors to “cite religious objections as a valid reason to discriminate against their workers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, LGBTQ status, and other characteristics.”

The new rule would not apply only to, say, churches, Catholic hospitals, or even a privately-held company like Hobby Lobby – if Hobby Lobby were a federal contractor. It would allow discrimination at literally any federal contractor that can show it has a “religious purpose,” but makes clear: “This need not be the contractor’s only purpose.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality says the new rule “would allow federal contractors to apply for broad exemptions to civil rights law after engaging in discriminatory behavior, including firing or refusing to hire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It could also lead to federal contractors refusing to hire women or unmarried workers who are pregnant or parents, or even discrimination on the basis of race.”

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Here’s the Truth About the Shadowy Group Behind the National Prayer Breakfast

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The National Prayer Breakfast is a relatively uncontroversial affair these days. Presidents from both parties make a habit of attending it, and giving simple speeches about what their faith means to them, and leaders from around the world join them.

But a new Netflix documentary miniseries, “The Family”, explores the shadowy group known as the Fellowship, which originally set it up in 1935.

The Fellowship began as a secretive fraternity of evangelical men, first organized under the leadership of a man named Abraham Veride, who was attempting to gather business leaders to thwart union drives. It evolved into what Rolling Stone described as a “secret theocracy” used by powerful Christian men to influence politics worldwide. Its members include Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Vice President Mike Pence is also reported to have ties to it.

The group has stringent rules against sex and dating, and there is an undercurrent of homophobia — but also simultaneously homoeroticism. “[There’s] a lot of that uneasy joking about masculinity and the potential for it and, at the same time, this desire for intimacy that becomes really challenging for people who have a theological and ideological opposition to that,” said Jeff Sharlet, an author who has written extensively on the Fellowship.

They also have had ties to current and former authoritarians around the world who have committed atrocities in their home countries, for the sake of advancing a conservative religious agenda — including the late former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“In the face of all these dictators, they don’t say anything at all,” Sharlet said. “They don’t ask any accountability.”

Yet despite this group’s broad reach in world affairs, it has attracted little public scrutiny, because it operates with scrupulous secrecy. A secrecy that the Netflix series seeks to dissipate.

You can read more here.

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