Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been touring the country to promote her plan to hand over billion of dollars in federal tax credits to dramatically expand the number of students attending private schools, religious schools, or even being homeschool. The program, part of a bill in Congress, would be funded through private donations in exchange for tax credits. In other words, tax dollars would effectively be paying for the program, as those dollars will have to be made up by taxpayers.
Secretary DeVos’ “Education Freedom Scholarships” program would continue the Trump administration’s blurring of the lines between church and state. Just last week Sec. DeVos announced the Dept. of Education will no longer ban religious organizations from being funded with taxpayer dollars for secular projects.
The Dept. of Education claims up to $5 billion annually could be allocated, but Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who spoke at an event with DeVos to roll out his bill to support the program (video below), said it would be $10 billion.
The reception in Sec. DeVos’ stop in Iowa appeared less than enthusiastic.
“Pitching her proposal to fund scholarships for private school and home-schooled students, federal education secretary Betsy DeVos met behind closed doors Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state leaders and lobbyists,” Iowa’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.
The paper notes that Waterloo Community Schools’ Superintendent Jane Lindaman was “the lone public education representative invited to participate,” and described her as being “concerned.”
“I was surprised by the imbalance of people at this meeting today,” Lindaman told The Courier. “Out of 14 people, I was the only public school advocate. I quickly realized the responsibility and, quite honestly, the burden of speaking for the hundreds of thousands of kids who are in public education in Iowa.”
Here’s a local news report from Alabama last month that features Sec. DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz, a big home schooling advocate, promoting his bill and the Secretary’s program. Cruz endorses the federal government effectively paying for private and religious education, calling it a “civil rights issue.”
In 2015 Sen. Cruz spoke with homeschooling parents, telling them LGBT people are waging “jihad” on Christianity.
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If States Start Designating ‘Christian History Month’ You Can Thank This Far Right Christian Nationalist Group
When the National Association of Christian Lawmakers held its annual conference at Liberty University last month, the event featured a “para-legislative session” at which state legislators and religious-right activists proposed and discussed various resolutions and sample legislation.
Among the speakers at the session was Allan Parker, president of religious-right organization The Justice Foundation, who urged the lawmakers in attendance to return to their states and introduce resolutions declaring the month of June to be “Christian History Month.”
“I think people are feeling it’s time for Christian History Month,” Parker said. “I hadn’t thought about when but I’m going to suggest June because it’s also Celebrate Life Month. The life of this nation was founded on a Christian worldview [and] if we preach all this and teach it in June, we’ll be ready for the Fourth of July with a true understanding of what it means.”
“You have the authority to create celebratory months and recognize things,” Parker reminded the gathered lawmakers.
Parker’s comments make it clear that religious-right leaders would use any state-designated “Christian History Month” as an official vehicle for promoting false and exclusionary Christian nationalist versions of American history, the kind promoted relentlessly by right-wing activists like David Barton, his son Tim, and pastors like Jackson Lahmeyer and Jack Hibbs.
The NACL was founded by unabashed Christian nationalist and former Arkansas state senator Jason Rapert, who is quite open about his intention to do everything that he can to ensure that Christians who share his far-right worldview “take authority” over every aspect of this nation.
Christian nationalists like Rapert believe that the country was founded as an explicitly Christian nation and that right-wing Christians must do everything they can to keep it that way, including making laws align with their particular religious and political worldview, one that is not shared by many Americans and even many Christians.Via the National Association for Christian Lawmakers, Rapert is putting this talk into action, using his organization advance so-called “biblical” legislation in statehouses throughout the country that would roll back abortion rights and the rights of LGBTQ Americans, defund public libraries that offer LGBTQ-friendly materials, and now perhaps push states or localities to honor Christian History Month.
It is surely no coincidence that LGBTQ Pride Month is already celebrated in June in the United States, a fact that drawn increasingly hostile responses this year from anti-equality activists as right-wing political leaders have escalated their rhetoric targeting LGBTQ people and their supporters.
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Image via Shutterstock
Trans Man Says Walgreens Pharmacist Refuses to Give Him His Hormone Prescription
An Oakland, California transgender man says one of the pharmacists at a Walgreens refused to hand over his hormone replacement medicine, even though the prescription was ready for pickup.
Roscoe Rike posted his story and a video to Reddit’s r/Oakland forum on Tuesday. Though the text of the post has since been deleted, according to KRON, Rike said he had the specific prescription filled for three years at the Telegraph Avenue location. He also said he’d been going there for other medications for the past decade, and never had a problem before.
This time, though, an unfamiliar pharmacist was behind the counter. When Rike asked to pick up his prescription, the pharmacist, he says, asked what it was for.
“I told him I was pretty sure that it wasn’t any of his business,” Rike said, according to KRON.
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In a followup comment on the Reddit post, he added that since Rike wouldn’t tell him, the pharmacist tried calling Rike’s doctor—though Rike doesn’t know if he was able to find anything out.
The pharmacist then told Rike that he couldn’t fill the prescription “due to his religious beliefs.” This is when Rike took out his phone and recorded the video that can be seen in the Reddit post above. In the clip, Rike asks “So right now you’re telling me that you’re going to deny me my medication because of your personal religion, you’re not my f***ing doctor? So you think you know better than my doctor, that’s what’s going on?”
“I just need to know the diagnosis,” the pharmacist replies.
“Why? That’s none of your f***ing business,” Rike counters. “I’m going to let you know right now that I’m going to be reporting this, by the way, what’s your name?”
The pharmacist replies “Malik Tahir,” and Rike says that he’s going to report him for discrimination. Tahir says Rike can come in at noon, but Rike says he wants it now.
“Always the religious people who have the most f***ing hate in their hearts. You’re disgusting,” Rike says, and Tahir repeats that Rike can come in at noon. Rike reiterates that he wants his medication now, and the video cuts off.
In comments, he said that he’d “never yelled at a stranger before that day.” He then asked to see the manager, KRON reports, who “apologized profusely,” Rike said, and gave him his prescription.
Walgreens told KRON it would “review the matter.”
“Our policies are designed to ensure we meet the needs of our patients and customers, while respecting the religious and moral beliefs of our team members. In an instance where a team member has a religious or moral conviction that prevents them from meeting a customer’s need, we require the team member to refer the customer to another employee or manager on duty who can complete the transaction. These instances, however, are very rare,” a Walgreens spokesperson told the station.
Rike says he’s reached out to the Transgender Law Center and hopes to hear back in the next two weeks.
“My main concern is making sure I do everything I can to keep this guy from doing what he did to me, to anyone else. That comes first. If I can get a settlement out of it, great! But it’s not my priority. I just want peace for myself and other trans people trying to live their lives,” he wrote on Reddit.
Ron DeSantis: I Would Have Loved to Hang Out With Jesus and His Disciples – America Needs More God
Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis says he would have loved to hang out with Jesus and his disciples, and thinks America needs more God.
The 2024 presidential candidate, currently a double-digit distant second to Donald Trump, has been accused of being a “Christian-nationalist MAGA leader,” holding “‘White Christian Nationalist’ beliefs,” or “flirting” with Christian nationalism, yet he not only has ignored his accusers, he is increasingly embracing the concepts of Christian nationalism and telegraphing to Christian nationalist voters he is their guy.
DeSantis recently spoke with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody in an interview that aired on CBN’s “The 700 Club” Friday.
“How do you see the country from a Judeo-Christian standpoint?” Brody, a hard-right partisan, asked Gov. DeSantis. “How do you see that in terms of infusing that into public policy?”
“You know,” DeSantis replied, “this society, the United States of America, you know, was built on the foundation, you know, of what happened thousands of years ago in the Holy Land, and I think that the Judeo-Christian values undergird everything that the Founding Fathers did, some of it, you know, was just so embedded, they didn’t even need to think about it.”
“Of course, you know, those are the values that you had. And I think that’s one of the reasons why in the First Amendment, they have the free, free exercise of religion and making sure that that people had the ability to believe as they wanted to, because of course, in the old world, that wasn’t always the case. It was, you know, you’re prescribed to be this particular denomination, and they really understood that people had the right to be able to believe as they want, and I’ll tell you, you know, you had more flourishing of religion in America as a result of having that religious freedom protected,” DeSantis declared.
He did not allow for people who do not hold religious beliefs, or for people who are spiritual but not religious. And he agreed with Broody that America needs more God.
JUST IN: Ron Desantis would have loved to hang out with Jesus and His Disciples. Plus, his pick for best president in U.S. History. This is part of my exclusive interview with @RonDeSantis at the Governor’s Residence in Tallahassee. Watch Today on @700club and online at… pic.twitter.com/v7GdrNneNX
— David Brody (@DBrodyReports) June 16, 2023
“So we need more God in society today?” Brody asked.
“Oh, absolutely. I mean, look, at the end of the day, there’s certain problems, economic problems, there’s, there’s problems at the border. There’s all very important, but you know, why are we here? Why are we free people?”
“We’re free because God has endowed us with inalienable rights. That’s why America was founded, our constitution was created, not to give us rights, but to protect the rights that God has already bestowed upon us,” he declared, as he has repeatedly before.
Back in February after DeSantis delivered similar remarks to Fox News, the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote, “Our rights do not come from ‘God,’ Gov. DeSantis,” and explained that the Florida GOP governor had “missed the fact that the rebellious Founders didn’t only throw out the ‘divine right of kings,’ they threw out ‘divine rights’ altogether.”
DeSantis continued to share his biblical beliefs with Brody.
“And that’s just, I think that was the Founders’ central insight, because before them, it was thought, you know, the king has the power. So you may have rights as a subject of some kingdom, but it’s the courtesy of what the state is giving you. That’s not what our Founders believed. They said, God has endowed these for us. Yeah, we’ll give governments some power. we give them limited power, and we give them power primarily for the purpose of protecting these pre-existing rights.”
JUST IN: Ron DeSantis says our society needs more God and that America “was built on the foundation of what happened thousands of years ago in the Holy Land.” This is part of my exclusive interview with @RonDeSantis at the Governor’s Residence in Tallahassee. Airing on @700club… pic.twitter.com/lr4NFK5etg
— David Brody (@DBrodyReports) June 16, 2023
Over at CBN, Brody reports, “Ron DeSantis credits his Catholic faith for keeping him grounded in truth,” says the GOP presidential hopeful will “be spreading a 2024 campaign message of conservatism guided by faith,” yet claims, DeSantis “doesn’t publicly tout his faith.”
Except, he does.
“Gird your loins for battle. We are going to fight. You put on the full armor of God,” the Florida Republican said in a video posted to social media, with the state flag behind him and a poster reading, “Keep Florida Free.”
“You take a stand against the Left’s schemes. Yeah, you’re gonna face flaming arrows, but if you stand for truth, you and we will prevail,” DeSantis added.
As NCRM reported at the time, the full biblical reference makes DeSantis’ remarks even more disturbing. It comes from Ephesians 6:11-18, which mentions the Devil and the spiritual forces of evil. It reads in part:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. … In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The Tampa Bay Times last year chastised the Florida governor over his “full armor of God” speech.
“Christian nationalism for many conservatives has become a political identity, and unlike conservative politicians in the past who used their faith to inform their arguments, DeSantis is more aggressive, using war imagery to describe the political debates as a battle over who will be the better American,” the paper wrote.
“The full armor of God passage is a favorite amongst certain types of Pentecostals who really do see the world in terms of spiritual warfare,” Yale University comparative-history sociologist Philip Gorski told the newspaper.
Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, a former DeSantis administration official, at the time weighed in, writing: “Desantis gets sexual and biblical on the campaign trail.”
Desantis gets sexual and biblical on the campaign trail: “Gird your loins for battle. We are going to fight. Put on the full armor of God. You take a stand against the Left’s schemes. Yeah, you’re gonna face flaming arrows.” pic.twitter.com/5obcV4pead
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) March 31, 2022
In September, the Miami Herald’s Editorial Board published a warning.
“DeSantis’ flirting with Christian nationalism — the belief that America is in God’s plan and was intended to be a Christian nation — as the Herald recently reported, is not new in GOP politics. But it shows where the governor’s mind is.”
Pointing to DeSantis’ “Christian nationalist shtick,” the Editorial Board added, “given the onslaught of religious talk in Florida — and the use of government to promote one conservative religious view — Democrats must find a better way to acknowledge the importance of religion and spirituality in people’s lives without crossing the line into proselytizing. If DeSantis is telling his followers to go fight to shape the nation to their religious liking, the counter-narrative should be that this rhetoric could not only incite violence, but it also undermines Christianity itself. For most Christians, religion doesn’t mean hostility toward your fellowmen and those who share different beliefs, as DeSantis makes it seem.”
Last year in November, DeSantis not only went biblical again, he posted what was seen as “blasphemy” – a “heretical,” according to some, re-election ode celebrating not God, but himself.
Indeed, the Tampa Bay Times in that same piece called DeSantis’ biblical reference a “recurring theme.”
“DeSantis has made the biblical references in numerous stump speeches. He did it at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in February. Then, at the Florida Republican Party’s annual gathering in July. And again, in August, while campaigning alongside Doug Mastriano, a right-wing Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate who has promoted Christian power in America.”
In May, New York Times’ opinion writer Michelle Goldberg asked, “Whose Version of Christian Nationalism Will Win in 2024?”
“What’s not yet clear,” Goldberg said, “is what sort of Christian nationalism will prevail — the elite, doctrinaire variety of candidates like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida or the violently messianic version embodied by [Mike] Flynn and [Donald] Trump.”
“The issue isn’t whether the next Republican presidential candidate is going to be a Christian nationalist, meaning someone who rejects the separation of church and state and treats Christianity as the foundation of American identity and law,” Goldberg explained. “That’s a foregone conclusion in a party whose state lawmakers are falling over themselves to pass book bans, abortion prohibitions, anti-trans laws and, in Texas, bills authorizing school prayer and the posting of the Ten Commandments in classrooms.”
Also in May, Newsweek warned, “Thousands of Christians signed an online petition condemning Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign, accusing him of ‘twisting religion’ for political gain.”
DeSantis does not appear to care.
“Our household is a Christ-centered household,” the governor told CBN’s Brody. “We’re raising our kids with those values. We think that that’s very important…It’s great for us when our kids are coming back from preschool or kindergarten, talking about David and Goliath and we’re like, thank you. So we’re very, very appreciative of being able to do that…My son, he was four for Christmas this year, he wanted a sling to be like David slaying Goliath and so that really warms our hearts when we see that.”
Watch the videos of DeSantis above or at this link.
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