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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Rights Activists Alarmed as Pompeo Installs Anti-Gay Anti-Abortion Activist to Head New Commission on ‘Natural Law’

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the formation of a new commission that will take a “fresh look” at human rights through the lens of “natural law,” and civil and human rights advocates are outraged. In preliminary filings the State Dept. noted the Commission will explore “our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

“Natural law,” is religious right wing extremist code for anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights, especially marriage for same-sex couples.

Critics are outraged.

The director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program weighed in:

Secretary Pompeo, a known right wing Christian extremist in his own right, has named Mary Ann Glendon, a professor who is also his former mentor, to lead the “Commission on Unalienable Rights.”

Glendon is an anti-abortion, anti-gay Catholic activist who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (the Vatican) under President George W. Bush. She is also known for her opposition to the use of condoms to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to claim something is, in fact, a human right?” Pompeo told reporters Monday, adding, as Yahoo News notes, that “words like rights can be used for good or evil.”

Glendon should understand Pompeo’s remarks. She penned a 2004 op-ed supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In a unique twist of language she claimed the amendment “should be welcomed by all Americans who are concerned about equality and preserving democratic decision-making.”

And in a shocking move Glendon chastised the awarding of a Pulitzer Prize to the Boston Globe for its work exposing pedophile priests. She reportedly said; “If fairness & accuracy have anything to do with it, awarding the Pulitzer to the Boston Globe would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.”

Anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins was briefed on the Commission before it was officially announced, CBS News reports.

A State Dept. official says the Commission is a “personal project” of Secretary Pompeo’s, and Politico reports the Commission “was conceived with almost no input from the State Department’s human rights bureau, people familiar with the matter say, effectively sidelining career government experts who have focused on human rights policy and history across numerous administrations.”

As extreme as Glendon is, the preliminary proposed Chair was Robert P. George, a Princeton professor who co-founded NOM, the extremely anti-gay National Organization For Marriage.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International issued a scathing rebuke t Pompeo and his new Commission. In “Trump Administration Commission on Unalienable Rights Politicizes Human Rights for Hate,” the human rights organization’s national director of advocacy and government affairs, Joanne Lin, said:

“This administration has actively worked to deny and take away long-standing human rights protections since Trump’s inauguration. If this administration truly wanted to support people’s rights, it would use the global framework that’s already in place. Instead, it wants to undermine rights for individuals, as well as the responsibilities of governments.”

“This approach only encourages other countries to adopt a disregard for basic human rights standards and risks weakening international, as well as regional frameworks, placing the rights of millions of people around the world in jeopardy.”

“International agreements, like the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, have been upheld by prior administrations over the last 71 years, regardless of their party. This politicization of human rights in order to, what appears to be an attempt to further hateful policies aimed at women and LGBTQ people, is shameful.”

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Christian Ministry Tells Teachers and Students They Must Support School’s Anti-Gay Beliefs – Some Are Quitting

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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:

 

Image by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia
Hat tip: Towleroad

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Right-Wing Religious Prayer Pleas Make Hurricane Victims Worse Off — Here’s How

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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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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

NFL Star Dismisses Outrage Over His Support of Infamous Anti-LGBT Group: ‘I Do Not Support Any Groups That Discriminate’

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Focus On The Family is one of the most well-funded anti-LGBTQ organizations in the country

Star New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is angrily dismissing outrage from fans, including many supporters of the LGBTQ community, over his involvement with an infamous anti-LGBT organization, Focus on the Family. The 42-year old group, one of the best-funded anti-gay organizations in the world, promotes and advocates for the harmful and destructive pseudo-science of “conversion therapy.” LGBTQ people who have experienced it have likened it to torture.

Brees says all he did was record a short video for kids for “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” a nationwide effort to use kids to indoctrinate and convert their classmates into Christianity, which is disturbing enough.

But to make matters worse, “Bring Your Bible to School Day” is a program of Focus On The Family, which also actively opposes civil rights for LGBTQ people, including marriage and adoption.

In a videotaped statement Brees defends making the video, and blasts those criticizing him for it.

And in an astonishing act of ignorance, Brees concludes his videotaped statement by saying: “I do not support any groups that discriminate or that have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality. So, hopefully that will set the record straight.”

It might be written off as a wrong move by a football player who didn’t bother to consider what he was doing, but as  Big Easy Magazine, which first reported on Brees’ “Bring Your Bible to School Day” video notes, he has been involved with Focus On The Family for nearly a decade.

On Thursday Brees continued to defend his actions, telling reporters, “I was not aware of any of the things [Focus On The Family] said about them lobbying for anti-gay, any type of messaging for inequality of any type of hate-type related stuff. I was not aware of that at all.”

Brees apparently doesn’t understand he cannot separate his support for tiny portion of a group’s actions from that group’s principles.

And he has yet to denounce Focus On The Family or conversion therapy, nor has he promised to sever his partnership with the anti-LGBTQ group.

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