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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Jeff Sessions Has a New, Secret ‘Religious Liberty’ Task Force – and Won’t Answer Questions About It

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Sessions’ Speech Suggests Task Force Could Go After Pro-LGBT, Pro-Equality, and Anti-Hate Groups

Attorney General Jeff Sessions one week ago announced the creation of a new religious liberty task force within the Dept. of Justice. According to Buzzfeed News, the DOJ has not answered any questions about it, and won’t even respond to its questions.

As Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden reports, Attorney General Sessions “had surrounded himself largely with players from the religious right, including anti-LGBT, anti-abortion organizations,” and told them the “‘dangerous movement’ threatening people of faith must be ‘confronted intellectually and politically and defeated.'”

There appears to be no public list of who will be on Sessions’ Religious Liberty Task Force. No criteria or qualifications have been published. No agenda. Not dates of meetings. And what, exactly, it will do that the DOJ is not doing now has not been made public, other than Sessions suggesting it will ensure continuity in DOJ actions and legal arguments, which is not generally the role of a task force.

And most importantly, will its meetings, actions, and records be public?

Buzzfeed asked the DOJ many of these questions.

The Justice Dept. did not answer. Aside from referring them back to the transcript of Sessions’ announcement, the DOJ did not respond.

Casey Brescia, a spokesperson for the Secular Coalition for America, told BuzzFeed News the Justice Department did not reach out to his organization, as the Obama administration did with its religious initiatives. And just as the Constitution protects religious exercise, he noted, it also guarantees that religion cannot be imposed on secular Americans.

“Sessions is twisting the concept of religious liberty and weaponizing, and using it to assert a political agenda that is the exact opposite of what it was intended for,” he said.

Sessions’ speech, clips of which MSNBC’s Joy Reid played this past weekend on “AM Joy,” reveal some of Sessions’ intent, as does the transcript of his speech.

For example, it appears Sessions intends to go after groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which the religious right for years has attacked for labeling lie-telling anti-gay organizations like the Family Research Council “hate groups.”

“We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Sessions, falsely, claimed in his speech last week.

The Attorney General also bragged about the DOJ’s anti-gay stance in cases of Christian bakers refusing to sell wedding cakes to marrying same-sex couples.

“And, of course, we were proud to file a brief in support of Jack Phillips,” said Sessions, speaking about the Colorado baker who recently won a very narrow victory at the Supreme Court.

Religious liberty means freedom of religious practice, but also freedom from religious practice.

Under Sessions, its clear the DOJ has no interest in enforcing the latter.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Jan. 6 Rally Attending Lawmaker Wants ‘One Nation Under God’ Decals Put on School Buses to Root Out ‘Communists’

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More than a week before incoming Glenn Youngkin is sworn in as governor of Virginia, a Republican lawmaker who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riot has introduced a bill to put God on school buses.

Delegate Marie March has introduced House Bill 113, which “permits local school boards, notwithstanding any regulation to the contrary, to display on the sides and rear of public school buses decals containing the motto ‘In God We Trust’ or the phrase ‘One Nation Under God,’ provided that no such decal obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus.”

March made waves in southwest Virginia after traveling to Jan. 6 for Trump’s rally seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

“At least two local restaurant owners are facing backlash for attending President Trump’s rally in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday,” WSLS-TV reported one year ago today. “A Christiansburg business owner is also taking heat. Marie March owns Fatback Soul Shack and Due South. She also attended the rally.”

READ MORE: Sobbing Jan. 6 insurrectionist sent to prison after lawyer argues his brain was not fully developed

March addressed her attendance in a statement issued to The Daily Beast, claiming she left before Trump’s speech ended.

“I apologize for nothing, I regret nothing,” March said.

March has said her school bus bill will expose communists.

“If there are communists in the House of Delegates, let’s figure out who they are,” March said.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Watch: MAGA Congressional Candidate Calls for All Laws ‘Contrary to God’s Word’ to Be Overturned

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Mark Burns, a MAGA pastor who is running for Congress in South Carolina, is an unabashed Christian nationalist who openly declares that “any policy that is contrary to the word of God” needs to be made illegal.

Burns appeared on the Real America’s Voice program “The Water Cooler” Monday, where he proclaimed that “the gospel of Jesus Christ should be [at] the center of American politics.” When asked by host David Brody what he meant by that, Burns declared that “any law that is against the word of God” must be overturned.

“Laws that are contrary to God’s word that are actively legal or laws today need to be overturned,” Burns said. “Any law that is against the word of God, that is clearly against what God has said in his word—in a nation that is a Christian nation, a nation that has the majority of citizens who actively believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that he is coming back again with omnipotent power in his hands—if it’s against the word of God and it’s actively a law today, then it should be overturned. We should have a moral compass, and right now in America, we’re losing that moral compass. The liberal left is slowly [chipping] away.”

Burns was a proponent of the movement to keep former President Donald Trump in power. He has made numerous calls for war, including on the eve of the Capitol insurrection when he riled up Trump loyalists at a Stop the Steal rally by telling them, “We’re ready to do war!”

 

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is published here by permission.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Watch: Far Right Anti-Vaxx Pastor Just Can’t Understand Why There Are No ‘Big Democrats’ Who Have Died From COVID

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Far right wing pastor Kent Christmas, famous for his anti-LGBTQ remarks, is now seemingly embracing a conspiracy theory, telling parishioners no “big Democrats” have died from COVID and asking them, “Doesn’t that make you wonder?”

Christmas is a pro-Trump anti-vaxxer who back in August claimed Christians should not get vaccinated because “the law of God supersedes the law of men.”

Now he’s saying no “big Democrats” or billionaires have died of the coronavirus, and he’s correct – but for reasons that appear to escape him.

“I can’t think of one big Democrat that’s died from the Coronavirus,” he says in video posted by Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta. “I can’t think of one billionaire that’s died of Coronavirus. Bill Gates is fine. George Soros is fine,” he adds, as an parishioner can be heard saying, “You’re right.”

“Biden’s fine. He’s 80 years old and half dead anyway,” the pastor added, to laughter and applause. “Rupert Murdoch’s fine. The CEOs of Vanguard and Berkshire Hathaway and State City and Mark Zuckerberg – they’re just fine.”

“Doesn’t that make you wonder?” he asks, as audience members agree.

Christmas has claimed gay people die by suicide at a high rate because they feel guilty about being gay, and blamed a “demonic spirit that comes after our seed” for the increase in people who identify as LGBTQ.

Here he is not comprehending the power of COVID vaccines:

 

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