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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Bills Requiring Public Schools to Teach the Bible Are Flooding State Legislatures – Some Are Becoming Law

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In 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that teaching the Bible in public schools was unconstitutional.

56 years later right wing religious extremists are still trying to find ways to get the Bible taught in public schools.

And now they’re succeeding.

According to the civil rights organization Americans United, there is a “coordinated attempt by the Religious Right to enshrine Christian nationalism in our schools, in our communities and in our government,” and teaching the Bible is a part of that attempt.

Also part of that attempt: President Donald Trump.

Conservative lawmakers across the country are embracing this attempt, sponsoring bills that mandate the creation of required or elective courses in public schools to teach the Bible, or finding other means to inject religion – especially the Christian religion – into taxpayer-funded curriculums.

Since January of this year alone there have been bills mandating the creation of Bible study or instruction bills in at least 14 states, including Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Florida, West Virginia, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, West Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Washington, and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s bill is listed as “emergency” legislation.

Some of the bills, like Georgia’s, have passed and been signed in to law as recently as Monday. Some have failed or died in committee. There are still many Bible instruction bills active and awaiting hearings, votes, and governors’ signatures.

Some states have filed multiple bills with the same or similar intent: get the Bible – and religion – into as many classrooms as possible.

While some of the bills direct the creation of “elective” Bible study classes, other states, like Texas, make clear Bible instruction would be required. Some legislation is careful to mask the Bible classes as instruction in history, others are more overt in their direction and intention.

Alabama’s SB 14 allows “elective courses” of Bible study, but overtly opens the door to displaying the Bible and other “artifacts, monuments, symbols, and texts related to the study of the Bible and religious history if displaying these items is appropriate to the overall educational purpose of the course.”

That bill will be reviewed by the Alabama House Education Policy Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Also up for review on Wednesday is the Missouri Senate’s Concurrent Resolution 13, which, among other objectives, would, “Require that all world literature courses include a three-week session on wisdom literature from the Bible, as has been done for three thousand years.”

The resolution cleverly claims that “forty studies have documented a correlation between improved school grades for children and the teaching of the biblical character of love, integrity, compassion, and self-discipline.”

Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist documents how Republican state Senator Ed Emery, sponsor of Missouri’s resolution, is “full of it,” and the Senator’s similar claims about another Bible bill he sponsored were disproven. He also reports that Sen. Emery is the “head of the Missouri Prayer Caucus Network, which is affiliated with the group known for promoting the Christian Right’s Project Blitz. Their goal is to shove Christianity into our public institutions (including public schools).”

West Virginia’s SB 234 would “require all schools provide an elective course on Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible or New Testament of the Bible,” while HB 2742 would “make available elective courses of instruction in all schools located within this state on the history of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.”

New York Assembly Bill 6315 would “teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.”

The text is almost exactly the same Virginia’s SB 1502, which died in committee, and almost the same as Georgia’s SB 83, which GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed in to law Monday.

Texas’ SB 2090 makes “Bible instruction” part of “the required English language arts curriculum for public school students.”

Mississippi’s HB 1403 died in committee but had it passed would “require school districts to offer a secular program of education to high school students which includes elective courses relating to religion, Hebrew scriptures and the Bible.”

North Dakota’s SB 2136 failed to pass, but would have offered elective Bible instruction and allowed portions of those classes to replace social studies requirements for graduation.

Image by Paul Keller via Flickr and a CC license

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Amy Coney Barrett Puts Reversal of Marriage Equality ‘Clearly Within Sight’ Says National Organization for Marriage

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While many Republicans and right-wing activists are pretending that they have no idea how Amy Coney Barrett will rule on major issues, anti-equality activists like National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown aren’t being so coy.

In an email to supporters Wednesday, Brown said his group’s goal of overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in Obergefell is now “clearly within sight.”

When the US Supreme Court illegitimately redefined marriage in 2015 with their anti-constitutional ruling in the Obergefell case, NOM vowed to work every day to overturn that decision. People said we were crazy to think that was possible. We were mocked and ridiculed by LGBT activists for even suggesting that the Supreme Court would ever reverse their ruling imposing gay ‘marriage.’ Regardless, NOM pressed on and now the supposedly unthinkable is clearly within sight.

They don’t think we’re crazy any longer.

Brown was gleeful that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., mentioned NOM during his questioning of Barrett, calling it evidence that “leading politicians from both parties see NOM as a powerful force for marriage and all the issues we care so deeply about.”

Brown continued, “We may already have the five votes we need on the US Supreme Court to overturn the Obergefell decision that redefined marriage, but there is no question that the addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the Court significantly strengthens our hand.”

 

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

Image of Brian Brown via Facebook

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘I Won’t Do That’: Amy Coney Barrett Refuses to Reveal Her Legal Position on Same-Sex Marriage Law Obergefell

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett is refusing to say if Obergefell, the law that found same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry was properly decided. Amid questioning from Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, Barrett held fast, claiming she has an obligation to not share her legal beliefs.

“I’m asking your legal position judge,” Senator Blumenthal told Judge Barrett. “Not your moral position, not a policy position, not a religious faith position, a legal position. Correctly decided? Obergefell v. Hodges.”

“Senator Blumenthal, every time you asked me a question about whether a case was correctly decided or not, I cannot answer that question because I cannot suggest agreement or disagreement with precedents of the Supreme Court,” Barrett insisted. “All of those precedents bind me now as a Seventh Circuit Judge, and were I to be confirmed, I would be responsible for applying the law of stare decisis to all of them.”

Two conservative Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, on the first day of this year’s Supreme Court term, had no problem revealing their legal opinions on Obergefell, announcing they believe it was wrongly decided. They called legalizing marriage for same-sex couples “a problem” that only the Court can “fix.”

“But your honor,” Blumenthal continued, “think of how you would feel as a gay or lesbian American to hear that you can’t answer whether the government can make it a crime for them to have that relationship. Whether the government can enable people who are happily married to continue that relationship. Think of how you would feel?”

“Well Senator you’re implying that I’m poised to say that I want to cast a vote to overrule Obergefell and I assure you, I don’t have any agenda and I don’t, I’m not even expressing a view and disagreement of Obergefell, you’re pushing me to try to violate the judicial canons of ethics and to offer advisory opinions and I won’t do that.

Senator Cory Booker chastised Barrett on Tuesday over similar refusals.

“You seem to honor the precedents that are enough to protect discrimination against African Americans [and] interracial couples, but you stop on saying that unequivocally about … religious discrimination.”

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Busted: Amy Coney Barrett ‘Lied’ to Dem Senator Over Her Ties to Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group Says Top Political Scientist

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett is being accused of lying to a top Democratic Senator in an apparent attempt to hide her ties to and awareness of an anti-LGBTQ hate group that advocates for the re-criminalization of homosexuality and sterilization of transgender people.

Judge Barrett has been paid by and given speeches to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups. ADF advances its agenda by finding and litigating cases involving Christians who say they are being discriminated against for their faith by LGBTQ people, often same-sex couples.

The head of the Alliance Defending Freedom attended the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s #SCOTUS nomination in the Rose Garden,” former US Senator Al Franken  tweeted Wednesday. 

He posted a devastating video (below) of him questioning Barrett in her 2017 judicial confirmation hearing. The video then cuts to this week’s confirmation hearing, with Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) asking her about the Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Were you aware of ADF’s decades-long efforts to re-criminalize homosexuality?” Leahy asked Barrett on Tuesday.

“I am not aware of those efforts, no,” Barrett firmly responded.

Franken adds, “I questioned her about this in 2017. She spoke to them 5 times, took money from them, and is very, very, very aware of what they do.”

Norman Orenstein, a top political scientist and a resident scholar at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), says Barrett “lied.”

 

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