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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

‘Lied’: Gorsuch Blasted After Photos Expose His Claims in High School Coach Praying Case Are a ‘Flat Out, Knowing Lie’

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Many people from legal experts to court watchers to journalists to ordinary Americans on social media are criticizing Justice Neil Gorsuch for his majority opinion in a decision siding with a former high school football coach. That coach sued after the school district ordered him to stop praying after every game at the 50-yard line. Justice Gorsuch’s opinion, as many are noticing, appears to be based on facts that are false. Several are accusing Gorsuch of just plain lying.

Justice Gorsuch claimed the coach’s First Amendment rights were violated, and that he was merely engaging in “quiet personal prayer” as he knelt.

Gorsuch uses the word “quiet” 14 times, as The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman notes.

“Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks,” Justice Gorsuch writes as he begins his majority opinion. “Mr. Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway. It did so because it thought anything less could lead a reasonable observer to conclude (mistakenly) that it endorsed Mr. Kennedy’s religious beliefs. That reasoning was misguided.”

“The contested exercise here does not involve leading prayers with the team,” Gorsuch continues (despite photos that appear to suggest otherwise), “the District disciplined Mr. Kennedy only for his decision to persist in praying quietly without his students after three games in October 2015.”

These are the photos of Coach Kennedy that Justice Sonia Sotomayor included in her dissent:

“They aren’t even trying to use reason anymore,” former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade laments:

And Vox’s Ian Millhiser makes clear what just happened: “The Supreme Court hands the religious right a big victory by lying about the facts of a case.”

Calling the decision “a big victory for the religious right,” Millhiser writes that’s “only because Gorsuch misrepresents the facts of the case.”

On Twitter Millhiser adds that Gorsuch’s own opinion debunks his own opinion:

Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy:

Here’s noted political scientist Norman Ornstein:

Others also felt it necessary to correct the facts in the case:

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Watch: Full 11 Minute Documentary Video of Insurrection Shown by Jan. 6 Committee in Primetime Hearing

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The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack showed to America as part of its first primetime hearing an eleven-minute video from British documentary filmmaker Nick Quested.

Quested “was embedded with the Proud Boys for a significant period of time leading up to January 6 and is considered a firsthand fact witness because of the amount of time he spent with the group,” CNN has reported.

News organization The Recount posted Quisted’s documentary to YouTube (embedded below.) They call it “shocking footage from the Capitol insurrection,” and note the “final 20 seconds are chilling.”

Those final seconds, it’s important to note, include a shot of a Trump flag and a Christian flag (screenshot above). The insurrection, as Rolling Stone and other groups have stated, is tied to the far Christian right.

Watch:

Final 20 seconds:

UPDATE:
The Committee posted the video to Twitter. This appears to be slightly shorter:

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Christian Preacher Calls for All Gay People to Be Put to Death (Video)

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A Texas-based Christian extremist preacher is calling on the government to round up “every single homosexual,” put them on trial, convict them, and put them to death by shooting them in the head, which he falsely says Jesus Christ commands.

Dillon Awes of the Stedfast Baptist Church on Sunday also falsely claimed every gay person is a pedophile, every heterosexual pedophile is a “fag,” and “sodomites” are responsible for school shootings. None of those claims are factual.

“What does God say is the answer, is the solution, for the homosexual in 2022, here in the New Testament, here in the Book of Romans?” Awes asked, as reported by OnlySky’s Hemant Mehta. “That they are worthy of death! These people should be put to death!”

“Every single homosexual in our country should be charged with the crime, the abomination of homosexuality, that they have,” he continued. Homosexuality is not a crime in the United States, nor in most countries around the world.

“They should be convicted in a lawful trial,” he added, which would be legally impossible. “They should be sentenced with death. They should be lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head! That’s what God teaches. That’s what the Bible says.”

The Bible says nothing about shooting anyone in the back of the head, as guns had not been invented when the Bible was written. Many oppose capital punishment, with some citing the biblical commandment of “thou shalt not kill,” a claim they often use to fight abortion, but not guns.

Some theologians also dispute the passages of the Bible that condemn homosexuality. Others recognize that the laws of the Bible can not apply to modern-day life, and in fact, it would be unlawful to do so.

The Stedfast Baptist Church appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

“You don’t like it? You don’t like God’s Word, because that is what God says,” Awes falsely claims in this video:

 

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