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:
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Jan. 6 Rally Attending Lawmaker Wants ‘One Nation Under God’ Decals Put on School Buses to Root Out ‘Communists’
More than a week before incoming Glenn Youngkin is sworn in as governor of Virginia, a Republican lawmaker who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riot has introduced a bill to put God on school buses.
Delegate Marie March has introduced House Bill 113, which “permits local school boards, notwithstanding any regulation to the contrary, to display on the sides and rear of public school buses decals containing the motto ‘In God We Trust’ or the phrase ‘One Nation Under God,’ provided that no such decal obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus.”
March made waves in southwest Virginia after traveling to Jan. 6 for Trump’s rally seeking to overturn the 2020 election.
“At least two local restaurant owners are facing backlash for attending President Trump’s rally in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday,” WSLS-TV reported one year ago today. “A Christiansburg business owner is also taking heat. Marie March owns Fatback Soul Shack and Due South. She also attended the rally.”
March addressed her attendance in a statement issued to The Daily Beast, claiming she left before Trump’s speech ended.
“I apologize for nothing, I regret nothing,” March said.
March has said her school bus bill will expose communists.
“If there are communists in the House of Delegates, let’s figure out who they are,” March said.
Watch: MAGA Congressional Candidate Calls for All Laws ‘Contrary to God’s Word’ to Be Overturned
Mark Burns, a MAGA pastor who is running for Congress in South Carolina, is an unabashed Christian nationalist who openly declares that “any policy that is contrary to the word of God” needs to be made illegal.
MAGA pastor Mark Burns, who is running for Congress in South Carolina, says that “this is a Christian nation and any policy that is contrary to the word of God, we need to remove it from mainstream America and make it illegal.” pic.twitter.com/4j8oxoavhg
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) November 18, 2021
Burns appeared on the Real America’s Voice program “The Water Cooler” Monday, where he proclaimed that “the gospel of Jesus Christ should be [at] the center of American politics.” When asked by host David Brody what he meant by that, Burns declared that “any law that is against the word of God” must be overturned.
“Laws that are contrary to God’s word that are actively legal or laws today need to be overturned,” Burns said. “Any law that is against the word of God, that is clearly against what God has said in his word—in a nation that is a Christian nation, a nation that has the majority of citizens who actively believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that he is coming back again with omnipotent power in his hands—if it’s against the word of God and it’s actively a law today, then it should be overturned. We should have a moral compass, and right now in America, we’re losing that moral compass. The liberal left is slowly [chipping] away.”
Burns was a proponent of the movement to keep former President Donald Trump in power. He has made numerous calls for war, including on the eve of the Capitol insurrection when he riled up Trump loyalists at a Stop the Steal rally by telling them, “We’re ready to do war!”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is published here by permission.
Watch: Far Right Anti-Vaxx Pastor Just Can’t Understand Why There Are No ‘Big Democrats’ Who Have Died From COVID
Far right wing pastor Kent Christmas, famous for his anti-LGBTQ remarks, is now seemingly embracing a conspiracy theory, telling parishioners no “big Democrats” have died from COVID and asking them, “Doesn’t that make you wonder?”
Christmas is a pro-Trump anti-vaxxer who back in August claimed Christians should not get vaccinated because “the law of God supersedes the law of men.”
Now he’s saying no “big Democrats” or billionaires have died of the coronavirus, and he’s correct – but for reasons that appear to escape him.
“I can’t think of one big Democrat that’s died from the Coronavirus,” he says in video posted by Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta. “I can’t think of one billionaire that’s died of Coronavirus. Bill Gates is fine. George Soros is fine,” he adds, as an parishioner can be heard saying, “You’re right.”
“Biden’s fine. He’s 80 years old and half dead anyway,” the pastor added, to laughter and applause. “Rupert Murdoch’s fine. The CEOs of Vanguard and Berkshire Hathaway and State City and Mark Zuckerberg – they’re just fine.”
“Doesn’t that make you wonder?” he asks, as audience members agree.
Christmas has claimed gay people die by suicide at a high rate because they feel guilty about being gay, and blamed a “demonic spirit that comes after our seed” for the increase in people who identify as LGBTQ.
Here he is not comprehending the power of COVID vaccines:
“I can’t think of one big Democrat that’s died from the coronavirus…”
Pastor Kent Christmas is so close to figuring it out.
Instead, he’s going with a conspiracy theory. pic.twitter.com/hWe3bYxT78
— Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) December 2, 2021
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