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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

GOP Senators Force Trump Nominee to Withdraw Because He Didn’t Give Catholics Extra Rights to Discriminate Against Gays

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Prominent Michigan attorney Michael Bogren on Tuesday withdrew his nomination to become a District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan after being attacked by several Republican Senators who accused him of anti-religious bigotry and not giving Catholics extra rights to discriminate against gay people.

Those U.S. Senators were pushed in to action after an anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council, along with two far right organizations, the Catholic League and the Judicial Crisis Network, urged President Donald Trump to pull Bogren’s nomination.

It is a rare blow for President Trump, who has – thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – been able to pack the federal bench with more judges, and especially more far right wing extremists, than any president in modern history.

So what happened?

You might remember this story.

In 2017 the City of East Lansing, Michigan, banned a farmer from selling his goods at a local farmers’ market after he announced he would not allow same-sex couples to marry on his farm, which also serves as a wedding venue. The farmer cited his Catholic faith as his reason.

Michael Bogren was the attorney for the City of East Lansing, and in that capacity wrote in a legal brief that “there can be no constitutionally sound argument that sincerely held religious beliefs would permit a secular business to avoid the prohibitions against racial discrimination or gender discrimination found in federal, state and local laws.”

He is correct, legally and morally.

Which is why the religious right waged war against his nomination.

Bogren, as The Detroit News explains, “offered an example of how a Ku Klux Klan member opposed [to] interracial marriage ‘who ran a business similar to the plaintiffs’ business would not be able to invoke’ the First Amendment to avoid anti-discrimination statutes that apply to public accommodations if interracial couples were refused service.”

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley – a grenade-throwing Republican who coincidentally supports special rights for Christians to not have to serve or otherwise do business with same-sex couples – led the charge. He was joined by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz – who once accused gay people of waging “jihad” against Christians, and has very publicly supported special rights to discriminate for Christians.

During the confirmation hearing, Hawley berated Bogren, accused him of not supporting the First Amendment, and wrongly used the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cake Shop case as a cudgel against the nominee.

Here’s the video:

Now, it’s also important to note that we actually have no idea what Bogren’s personal beliefs are, because, as he explained, his job was to represent his client.

And for all we know he might even share Sen. Hawley’s own beliefs. We don’t know.

But to make the story even more absurd, Bogren’s cousin is an opinion writer at the far right wing website The Federalist. She has been advocating for him, even penning a column titled, “No, Judicial Nominee Mike Bogren Is Not An Anti-Religious Bigot.”

In it, she admits if she did not personally know her cousin she too “would likewise have shared concerns that [his] zealous representation of the City of East Lansing, as his briefing demonstrated, might mean the attorney making those arguments held a disregard for people of faith.”

All of this is to point out that the religious right, enabled and empowered by President Trump, is turning America into a nation that places it unique, extreme religious beliefs over the law, and is carving out special rights for far right Christian extremists.

In fact, “Far Right Christian Extremists Only” is the sign they would like to see at the borders of the United States.

If you have any doubt that the Christian right is trying to use its powers to turn America in to Gilead from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” take a look at these stories just from the past few days:

ANTI-LGBT TEXAS GOVERNOR PROTECTS SANCTITY OF BISCUITS AND BIGOTRY BY SIGNING ‘SAVE CHICK-FIL-A’ BILL INTO LAW

HHS BEING SUED OVER POLICY GIVING SPECIAL RELIGIOUS RIGHTS TO HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS OVER LGBT PEOPLE AND WOMEN

UNDER INVESTIGATION: D.A. WHO BRAGGED HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS CONTROL HIS DECISIONS IN CASES AGAINST SAME-SEX SPOUSES

PRIEST WHO URGED WOMEN TO COVER THEIR SHOULDERS TO PROTECT MEN’S ‘PURITY’ CALLS TWITTER ‘DEMONIC’ – WIPES ACCOUNT

FRANKLIN GRAHAM GOES ON ANTI-GAY RANT, SAYS ‘GAY PRIDE FLAG IS OFFENSIVE TO CHRISTIANS,’ GETS TOTALLY DESTROYED

TRUMP STATE DEPT. BANS LGBT PRIDE FLAG FROM FLYING ON FLAGPOLES AT ALL US EMBASSIES

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘We Will Stand for the Freedom of Religion’: Pence Brags Trump to Allow Adoption Agencies ‘Right’ to Ban LGBTQ Parents

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Vice President Mike Pence this week attended a federal government event during which he bragged about the Trump administration’s latest attack on LGBTQ people. The vice president (video below) heralded a fast-tracked proposed policy from the Dept. of Health and Human Services that would reverse an Obama-era rule barring discrimination by adoption and foster care agencies against LGBTQ people and same-sex couples.

The proposed rollback of that rule is expected to go into effect in just a few weeks, granting government protection to religious, faith-based, or any other adoption organization that wishes to claim a moral opposition to LGBTQ people from facing a loss of federal funding.

“We will stand for the freedom of religion and we will stand with faith-based organizations to support adoption,” Vice President Pence told supporters at an HHS event Tuesday, as he pounded his fists on the podium, to cheers.

“I couldn’t be more proud that at President Trump’s direction and with the strong support of leaders across foster care, adoption, and our faith communities, we’ve taken decisive action,” Pence bragged.

That “decisive action” literally reduces the pool of prospective parents for large numbers of children who don’t have parents or homes.

“More than 100,000 foster children are awaiting adoption, according to government data, but a constellation of religious agencies refuse to consider same-sex parents when placing these children,” NBC News reports. “Shortly before the end of his second term, President Barack Obama changed nondiscrimination rules governing adoption agencies to expand the definition of groups protected against discrimination to include LGBTQ people. Trump’s proposed rule change will undo that.”

In fact, same-sex couples have far higher rates of adopting and fostering children than their different-sex couple peers.

A 2018 report from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that 1 in 5 of the estimated 114,000 same-sex couples raising children in the United States are raising adopted or foster children — significantly higher than the 3 percent of heterosexual couples doing so.”

The latest discriminatory HHS rule Vice President Pence bragged about comes from Roger Severino, HHS’s Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Severino is known as a “radical” anti-LGBTQ religious right activist who previously served as CEO and counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious right non-profit that opposes separation of church and state. He also once served as the Director of the DeVos family’s Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.

Watch Vice President Pence (video may be slow to load):

RELATED STORIES:

Texas Teams Up With Far Right Religious Law Firm to Sue for ‘Right’ to Use Foster Agencies That Discriminate Against Gays

Federally-Funded Catholic Adoption Agency Blocks Same-Sex Couple From Fostering Migrant Children, Because Jesus

HHS Being Sued Over Policy Giving Special Religious Rights to Healthcare Professionals Over LGBT People and Women

 

Hat tip: Towleroad
Video via Washington Blade/Facebook

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Religious Right Activist Ralph Reed: If Christians Don’t Get Trump Re-Elected ‘It Will Be Open Season’ on Churches

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Religious right activist Ralph Reed appeared on Stephen Strang’s podcast yesterday, where he warned that if Christians don’t come out in record numbers to ensure the reelection of President Donald Trump in 2020, they will face wholesale persecution from Democrats and they will deserve it.

Strang claimed that “life as we know it as Christians” would be forever changed if Trump does not win.

“It’s going to be bad news, and Christians have to realize that they cannot be complacent,” he said. “[Trump] is our champion and he has come through on his promises again and again, and we’ve got to get him back into a second term to finish what he’s started and also to stop the other side.”

Reed readily agreed, saying that Trump deserves the support of Christians because of what he has done regarding Israel and the judiciary.

“If the Christian community doesn’t rise up like it never has in modern political history and if we allow, through our inaction, the left to remove this man from the Oval Office, then we will deserve everything that we get,” Reed said. “If they get the White House back, it will be open season on Christian ministries, on churches, the IRS will be able to persecute those faith-based organizations again. They will, under Obamacare, be able to force them to pay for abortion again. They will be able to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor and drag God-fearing nuns into federal court again to make them pay for abortion. That’s what will happen, and if we don’t turn out and vote in the biggest numbers ever, then we deserve it to happen.”

 

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

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

New Regulation Would Strip Federal Protections for LGBTQ People from All HHS Programs in Favor of ‘Religious Freedom’

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A proposed new regulation would strip all protections for LGBTQ people from all programs administered by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and give special rights to entities or programs that are religious or “faith-based.” HHS, under the direction of Secretary Alex Azar, has a budget of $1.2 trillion affecting the health and well-being, directly or indirectly, of nearly every person in the country.

Lambda Legal says the proposed rule “would invite HHS grantees receiving taxpayer funds to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.”

While reportedly drafted to focus on adoption and foster care organizations, the Human Rights Campaign also says the proposed rule would extend far beyond those entities to all programs that receive funding from HHS.

“The Trump-Pence White House has proposed a horrific federal regulation that would permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “This would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women in programs related to foster care, adoption, HIV and STI prevention, youth homelessness, refugee resettlement, elder care programs and more. It is unconscionable that the Trump-Pence administration would prioritize advancing discrimination over the wellbeing of vulnerable people and expect taxpayers to foot the bill for their discriminatory policies. The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people and other communities.”

The Washington Blade, noting the  proposed regulation “will have far-reaching implications,” reports the proposal would “undo an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation among federal grantees.”

Earlier: Texas Teams Up With Far Right Religious Law Firm to Sue for ‘Right’ to Use Foster Agencies That Discriminate Against Gays

According to  the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) the Blade says “the rule will allow anti-trans discrimination in HIV and STI prevention programs, opioid programs, youth homelessness services, health professional training, substance-use recovery programs and other life-saving services.”

“The proposal seeks to gut an Obama-era rule that barred entities receiving money under federal contracts, including adoption agencies, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.”

HHS is reportedly granting only 30 days for public comment and review.

Developing…

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

 

 

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