The Trump administration is planning a new, strong “religious liberty” regulation that would place the rights of businesses with federal contracts over the rights of LGBTQ workers – including the right to fire them for being LGBTQ.
Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden reports this new, proposed “regulation would carry more legal force” than Trump’s previous directive, “and is tremendously difficult to undo.”
This new plan, which is still in the works, is in addition to President Trump’s earlier directive this summer that carved out a religion-based loophole for federal contractors, effectively gutting President Barack Obama’s previous executive orders protecting the rights of LGBT workers.
After the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which was limited to only that one business, the Trump administration misapplied the Court’s ruling and used that language to create its religious liberty directive targeting LGBT workers.
Meanwhile, information on Trump’s new proposed regulation, which the administration claims is actually “deregulatory,” is sparse. The Dept. of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has only published that it “plans to update its regulations to comply with current law regarding protections for religion-exercising organizations.”
That would be at best a misinterpretation.
Buzzfeed notes “Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, a Christian Republican, has pushed for the regulation.”
The ACLU has already weighed in.
“A formal regulation could serve to further entrench the position that engaging in taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people can be permissible as long as it is framed as ‘religious liberty,’” Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the ACLU, told BuzzFeed News. “We made clear that taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people is unacceptable.”
Melissa Rogers, a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, also weighed in, via Twitter: “Using the term ‘religion-exercising organizations’ seems to be an attempt to extend this exemption to businesses that serve as federal contractors. No Supreme Court decision mandates or supports such a change.”
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Evangelical Christian Conservatives Are Giving Americans an ‘Allergic Reaction’ to Religion: Researchers
The number of Americans identifying as atheists is increasing — and recent social science research suggests that the Christian Right is playing a key role in making that happen.
As reported by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, new research has found that distaste for Trump-loving Christian conservatism has not just turned some Americans off from individual churches but from religion altogether.
“As recently as the early 1990s, less than 10 percent of Americans lacked a formal religious affiliation, and liberals weren’t all that much likelier to be nonreligious than the public overall,” FiveThirtyEight notes. “Today, however, nearly one in four Americans are religiously unaffiliated. That includes almost 40 percent of liberals — up from 12 percent in 1990, according to the 2018 General Social Survey.”
“It’s like an allergic reaction to the mixture of Republican politics and religion,” David Campbell, a political scientist at Notre Dame University, explains to FiveThirtyEight.
Christian Ministry Tells Teachers and Students They Must Support School’s Anti-Gay Beliefs – Some Are Quitting
Jacinta Tegman, the new head CRISTA, a massive $100 million Christian ministry in the state of Washington, has been pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda since taking over in January. She told the organization’s members that “sexual intimacy” must be “confined within the marriage of one man and woman.” Over the summer the head of the organization’s K-12 King’s schools, Eric Rasmussen, sent families and faculty an email “to reaffirm the school’s core values, and repeated Tegman’s line that sexual expression only occurs within a heterosexual marriage,” the Seattle Times reports.
The school now has a textbook that calls homosexuality “unnatural,” and “a result of the failure to worship God.” Both claims are false.
At least five teachers and two students have quit the school as a result of these attacks on LGBTQ people.
And while families may be upset at the loss of the teachers and students, Tegman apparently is not.
“This may not be the place for everybody,” Tegman told the Seattle Times. “So if it’s not, we just want to make that clear so people can make a good decision whether they want to stay.”
Some teachers questioned the email that was sent over the summer. In response, the head of King’s schools responded.
“You can continue to work at King’s if you are a Christian, confirm understanding and alignment with our doctrinal statement and willingly conduct your personal life and professional role of educating our students in a manner that is not in disunity with King’s theological beliefs,” he wrote.
One teacher, Megan Troutman, called working at the school “an amazing experience,” but resigned, saying, “I cannot, in good faith or conscience, teach in a place that creates policies that negatively impact an entire section of the student population.”
“I could not be complicit in a policy that could harm or ostracize any student.”
One student spoke out after deciding to leave.
“Colby Crispeno, 17, agreed” with Troutman. “He attended King’s since preschool, but eventually decided to leave at the end of his sophomore year after coming out to his family as gay.”
“Even as he struggled with depression and anxiety at King’s, he found solace in a family friend who taught there. She too left the school over the summer,” the Times notes.
“You don’t have to accept me or the LGBTQ+ community, but when you’re the head of the school and this decision brings some youth closer to suicide, you lose my respect,” Crispeno said.
CRISTA “runs private schools, retirement communities and radio stations in addition to its international relief work. The schools serve more than 1,300 students, from preschool to high-school,” the Times reports.
KIRO published this video report:
Right-Wing Religious Prayer Pleas Make Hurricane Victims Worse Off — Here’s How
Right-wing evangelical leaders often make grand displays of piety and sympathy for those in the path of deadly weather events like Hurricane Dorian. But as Rewire.News’ Tony Keddie noted in an opinion column, those who preach the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” are in fact bringing further harm to these victims.
“In between advertising her own books and promoting her rock star husband’s albums, Trump’s Prosperity Gospel confidant, Paula White-Cain, took a moment to acknowledge those affected by Hurricane Dorian,” wrote Keddie. “White-Cain tweeted a link to the evangelical pastor Greg Laurie’s Fox News article defending ‘prayer’ as a legitimate response to mass shootings and hurricanes … This is surprising because Laurie has criticized Prosperity Gospel preachers like White-Cain for glorifying the human will more than the divine will and prayer can often be a point of contention in these debates.”
“Whereas Laurie stresses ‘the power of the one we are praying to,’ White-Cain stresses the power of the one who is praying,” wrote Keddie. “This is a subtle theological distinction that enables Prosperity Gospel preachers to insist that believers should bootstrap their way to physical and financial prosperity. Shortly after tweeting out Laurie’s article, White-Cain used a Prosperity Gospel keyword, ‘favor’: ‘I pray open doors that no man can shut, favor, promotion, divine opportunities and connections for you to fulfill the purpose of God in the name of Jesus!’”
The upshot, Keddie wrote, is that evangelists like White-Cain are preaching that God wills people to be self-sufficient and individualistic — and that they, like Republican political ideology generally, oppose government intervention to help the destitute. Another example of this, he wrote, is Joel Osteen, the Houston megachurch pastor who did not open his doors to Hurricane Harvey victims until considerable public backlash.
“Laurie and White-Cain present two prevalent views of free will that are often used to support Republican opposition to what they call ‘Big Government,’” wrote Keddie. “Whether believers are supposed to rely more on God or themselves as a hurricane destroys their homes, they are not supposed to rely on the government. Sure, Christian relief organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and Convoy of Hope might offer some aid, but their role in disbursing federal funds is also an indictment against government institutions of relief, as Inderpal Grewal observes in Saving the Security State, and they often come with strings attached.”
“When we hear conservatives using the language of ‘prayers’ and ‘favor’ as a disaster strikes, it’s important to recognize that this pious rhetoric conceals neoliberal politics that impede the work of government institutions of disaster management,” concluded Keddie.
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