As coronavirus cases in Texas have reached all-time highs of over 5,500 new cases a day, Vice President Mike Pence is encouraging over 3,000 churchgoers to cram into the sanctuary of the First Baptist Dallas megachurch this coming Sunday to hear him speak at a “Celebrate Freedom Sunday” event. The event won’t make facemasks or social distancing mandatory.
On Friday, Pence’s own Coronavirus Task Force listed Texas as one of several “hot spots” that he’ll tour to better understand the ongoing epidemic. The state currently has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases among U.S. states, and Dallas County has the second-highest number of overall cases in the state.
In short, it’s not a great time to hold a huge in-person event, but that’s not stopping the church from “strongly encouraging” masks and social distancing without actually requiring them. Instead, the church will conduct temperature checks at the front door. The event will also have a fireworks show, patriotic music, and visits by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
The church’s pastor, Robert Jeffress, is a huge Trump-supporter and member of President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board and White House Faith Initiative. As Hornet reminds us, he’s also got a long history of some very un-Christian behavior:
In 2010, he called Islam an “evil, evil religion,” a “heresy from the pit of hell” and said that it “promoted pedophilia.” That same year, he called Catholicism a “Satanic” result of “Babylonian mystery religion” and Mormonism “a cult.” Towleroad.com also reminds us that “In 2015, Jeffress said that ongoing ‘gay cake’ rows would lead to an anti-Christian holocaust. He also claimed that same-sex marriage would have terrible consequences for Christians, that cakes at same-sex weddings are a sign of the Antichrist and that all gay men want is to molest children.”
Pence’s visit shouldn’t really surprise anyone as Trump needs to court the 81 percent of Evangelical voters who voted for him in 2016, and Trump has also overseen the most anti-LGBTQ administration in U.S. history.
Regardless, considering that Abbott recently reversed course and shut down all of Texas’ bars on Thursday, delaying his quick reopening of the state, perhaps Pence shouldn’t be asking the church’s largely elderly congregants to potentially expose themselves to a deadly disease in the name of “freedom.”
But then again, Pence thinks prayer and not facemasks will help end the epidemic, so… God help us all.
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Conservatives are freaking out over the NFL playing “The Black National Anthem” before games
In a performative gesture that does nothing to discourage police from killing Black people, the National Football League has decided to jump on the feel-good Black-ally bandwagon and play “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (aka. the Black National Anthem) at the start of every week one game when the season opens on September 10.
The song, which was written in 1900 and set to music in 1905, will reportedly play before the usual national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and will be presumably be all but forgotten by the NFL after one week.
Predictably, conservatives on social media are using the hashtag #BoycottNFL to express their displeasure:
How many national anthems do we have??
Is there an Hispanic national anthem?
An Asian-American national anthem?
This is asinine. We are ONE America. E Pluribus Unum. https://t.co/nv0djWREnH
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 3, 2020
Everyone should take a knee during the Black National Anthem
We have a National anthem, it’s for the entire nation. Why are they trying to bring back segregation? So RACIST
Martin Luther King Jr
DID NOT MARCH FOR A BLACK NATIONAL ANTHEM.
— Terrence K. Williams (@w_terrence) July 3, 2020
NFL players make millions a year playing a game. Don’t lecture us about how evil America is. #BoycottNFL
— JT Lewis (@thejtlewis) July 3, 2020
The NFL needs fans more than we need the NFL.
If they kneel during the anthem, or play anything other than the actual National Anthem, we should not tune in.
It’s time to teach these overpaid athletes that they can’t bully the American people! #BoycottNFL
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) July 3, 2020
If you wanna lose fans in Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin, and Texas, and Florida, in the Carolinas, and anywhere people have a brain… if you want to destroy pro football… then go ahead and NFL slit your own throat. Have fun without us! #NFL https://t.co/uxa97cHfOX
— Graham Ledger (@GrahamLedger) July 3, 2020
There are an equal number of other Twitter users mocking such “fans” for turning their backs on the league at a moment’s notice. But as Black writer Panama Jackson at The Root points out, the playing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” could backfire if cameras capture scores of NFL fans turning their backs as the anthem plays. However, perhaps that would show the NFL just how widespread racism among its fandom really is, despite 70 percent of its players being Black.
Beyond the playing of the Black National Anthem, ESPN explains, the NFL has other plans to make symbolic gestures against anti-Black police violence, though none (except for the final one mentioned below) are sure things:
Having recently displayed increased awareness about the problems of systemic racism, the NFL, in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. The NFL also may produce educational programs about victims, among other plans…. [like] plans to increase its social justice footprint by pledging to donate $250 million over a 10-year period.
In other race-related NFL news, this week the NFL said it will finally conduct a “thorough study” on possibly renaming the Washington state football team whose name is an old-timey slur for Native Americans.
In early June, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL was wrong to ban players from protesting anti-black policing in America. However, his apology didn’t name Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player whose 2017 on-field kneeling protest compelled the NFL on May 23, 2018 to threaten fines against any players who didn’t stand during the national anthem.
The national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as Teen Vogue reminds us, was written by a slave-owning Washington lawyer, Francis Scott Key, who referred to African-Americans as “a distinct and inferior race of people.”
Lastly, on Friday the National Basketball Association (NBA) said it would allow players to wear slogans on their jerseys in the upcoming season including the following messages: Black Lives Matter, Power to the People, I Can’t Breathe, Say Their Names, Vote, Justice, Peace, Equality, Freedom, Enough, Justice Now, Say Her Name, Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can), Liberation, See Us, Hear Us, Respect Us, Love Us, Listen, Listen to Us, Stand Up, Ally, Anti-Racist, I Am A Man, Speak Up, How Many More, Group Economics, Education Reform, and Mentor.
Watch: Congressman Who Quit GOP Over Trump Stands on House Floor ‘As an American’ and Says ‘It Is Our Duty to Impeach’
“Impeachment is not about…criminality based on statutes that did not exist at the time our Constitution was written.”
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) stood on the House floor Wednesday afternoon and told his fellow members of Congress it is their “duty to impeach” President Donald Trump. Amash, originally a Republican who declared himself an independent, leaving the GOP because of Trump, was the only Republican lawmaker to ever support Trump’s impeachment.
During Wednesday’s impeachment debate, he again made his position clear.
“I come to this floor not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, but as an American who cares deeply about the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of the people,” Rep. Amash said. “Impeachment is not about policy disagreements or ineffective governance, nor is it about criminality based on statutes that did not exist at the time our Constitution was written.”
“Impeachment is about maintaining the integrity of the office of the presidency, and ensuring that executive power is directed toward propewr ends in accordance with the law.”
“We in the House are emowered to charge impeachable conduct,” Amash continued. “The Constitution describes such conduct as high crimes and misdemeanors, because it pertains to high office, and relates to the misuse of that office.”
Justin Amash, who left the GOP after becoming the first Republican to back impeachment: “I come to this floor not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, but as an American who cares deeply about the Constitution, the rule of law and the rights of the people.” https://t.co/QTVelgw30s pic.twitter.com/U8m0JmQoj1
— ABC News (@ABC) December 18, 2019
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