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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘Tools of the Devil’: At FRC Conference Former Military Officials Denigrate LGBTQ Service Members

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panel of former military officials told religious-right activists at Family Research Council’s “Pray Vote Stand” conference on Oct. 7 that the United States military is threatened by “wokeism” and what the panel claimed are attacks on religious freedom. A retired admiral denounced critical race theory and the LGBTQ movement as “tools of the devil.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, FRC’s executive vice president, emceed the panel, which included retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral William Dean Lee; Michael Berry, a former Marine and current reservist who is now general counsel for the religious-right legal group First Liberty Institute; and retired Army Col. Joe Martin, who worked for Boykin at Fort Bragg.

Berry portrayed resistance to taking a COVID-19 vaccine as a question of religious liberty, claiming that he gets 60 to 80 messages per hour from service members opposed to the Department of Defense’s vaccine requirement. He said that service members are “telling me, ‘The military is forcing me to choose between my faith and serving my nation.’”

Berry said that he is willing to resist the vaccine mandate, saying, “This is the hill for me to die on.” He continued:

I love being a Marine. I love the Marine Corps. And for them to tell me you must choose between serving your God or serving your country, I say, “The oath doesn’t require me to do that. Neither does the Constitution. You’re the one that’s wrong, not me.”

Martin warned that the military lacks leaders who are competent in developing strategy, warning that he could not even get the Department of Defense to include in its dictionary the term “unrestricted warfare,” which he said describes the Chinese government’s strategy to defeat an enemy without firing a shot. Fentanyl coming into the United States from China is the equivalent of poisoning our wells and killing citizens, he said, but “no one’s talking about it.”

Boykin jumped in to compare “unrestricted warfare” by the Chinse government to LGBTQ activism and “the Marxist movement in America.” Here’s Boykin:

You made an interesting point. And let me just follow up on that. He talked about the treatise that was written by these two Chinese colonels—you can find this online folks, it’s called unrestricted warfare. And what they do is they tell us exactly how they’re going to take over America, how they’re going to defeat us, how they’re going to subjugate us.

The thing about it is, there’s two other groups that have done exactly the same thing. And we haven’t paid attention to them, either. One of them is called “After the Ball.” Anybody ever read it? “After the Ball.” It’s the LGBT community telling us how they’re gonna take over America. And the other one is called “The Naked Communist.” It’s by the Marxist movement in America, how they’re going to take over America. I challenge every one of you that are here and especially those of you who are watching us online to read those books. Because they tell you how they’re going to take over this country.

For the record, Boykin is not telling the truth about “The Naked Communist,” which was not written by “the Marxist movement” but by W. Cleon Skousen, a far right-wing conspiracy theorist.

Lee read a list of “new words they’ve invented under this umbrella of woke,” including “inclusivity,” “indigenous people,” “intersectionality,” “gaslighting,” “gender binary,” and “systemic oppression.” He complained that “all of these ideologies are encroaching upon the workforce in the U.S. military.” And he claimed that those ideas run counter to “the core values of honor and integrity” that are taught at bootcamp and the military academies, making things harder for military officers:

And now what’s happening is, as this tsunami breaks upon their heads, and they’re trying to hold up these core values, they’re in a battle against, as the bishop said before, it’s against Satan himself. Because all of these things that fall—I mean, you can name them: critical race theory, the LGBT movement—they’re all tools of the devil. And every single one of them is trying to divide us into identity groups. And that’s the last thing you want in your military armed forces is different teams when they ought to be all one team.

First Liberty Institute’s Berry claimed that the vaccine mandate, “woke ideology,” and “extremism training” are eroding confidence in the military. He claimed that he is speaking with members of the military who aren’t sure whether it is worth fighting the vaccine mandate because they aren’t sure they want to stay in “a military that no longer has our best interests and the country’s best interests.”

Boykin warned that if the 70 percent of military members he said identify as Christian begins to erode due to vaccine mandates and “wokeism,” there will be a “talent exodus” and the U.S. would “wind up with a mercenary military.”

“How do we fix this?” Boykin asked. The 2024 election could be a pivot point, Martin responded, while warning that President Joe Biden could get a second term or “it becomes President Harris, God forbid.”

When the crowd groaned, Boykin joked, “You were doing OK until right then.” Martin responded, “Sir, I went to the Special Forces schoolhouse, someone ran it. And they taught us you have to plan for the worst case. And this is what we as a nation have to plan for and prepare for, and what are we going to do? This is the absolute worst that could happen? What do we do to avoid that? And what do we do if it does happen?”

Lee said that it is important to “breed into our officers, our upcoming officers” the idea “that it is service above self” and that they should be willing to sacrifice their careers if necessary. “Stop fearing your next promotion and start being willing to throw your stars on the table on principle and doing the right thing, because first and foremost, our military services exist to win the nation’s wars, not to be a petri dish for social experimentation.”

Berry said that First Liberty institute will defend vaccine refusers facing the possibility of dishonorable discharges. “We are tired of Dunkirk; we’re ready for Normandy,” he said.

Boykin joined Berry in criticizing Army recruiting commercials, which Boykin called “the most disgusting thing that I’ve seen as I reflect on my military career.” Boykin did not get into specifics, but presumably he was talking about a set of commercials meant to recruit from an increasingly diverse pool of young people that conservative activists have criticized as “too woke.” Berry said that the Chinese government is banning television portrayals of men as non-masculine, adding, “I’m not advocating this, I’m just using it as an example.” Boykin also railed against the possibility of women being drafted.

Lee promoted “Irresistible Revolution,” a book self-published this year by Space Force Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier which portrays discussions of racism and extremism in the military as part of a plan for “Marxist conquest” and the replacement of the U.S. government with a “communist dictatorship.” After the book came out, Lohmeier was stripped of his command. Panelists also praised Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who publicly criticized military officials over the withdrawal from Afghanistan and who landed up in the brig after repeatedly calling for “revolution” on social media. At his court-martial scheduled tomorrow at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Scheller reportedly plans “to plead guilty to several charges and seek a discharge that allows him to keep some military benefits.”

 

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

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Listen Live: SCOTUS Hears Christian Right Religion vs. LGBTQ Civil Rights Challenge

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments in yet another Colorado case of a right wing Christian business owner who claims their work is artistic expression which entitles them to discriminate against LGBTQ people who want to use their product for a same-sex marriage. And once again conservatives on the nation’s highest court are being asked to, and could move towards striking down another decades-old ruling in favor of the far Christian right.

This time the case involves not a Colorado baker refusing to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, but a Colorado web designer refusing to make web sites for same-sex weddings. Both have cited their deeply held religious beliefs against marriage equality, only this time the web designer is suing not because she refused a same-sex couple – indeed, no same-sex couple has ever asked her to create a website for their wedding – but because she’s afraid someday one will.

Lorie Smith, who owns 303 Creative, objects to Colorado law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, and objects to the law banning notices or statements that a business intends to do so.

And just like the Colorado baker or the Washington florist, Smith insists she’s not anti-gay, just anti-same-sex marriage.

“If a client who identifies as gay asked her to design graphics for his animal rescue shelter or to promote an organization serving children with disabilities, Smith would happily do so,” Ms. Smith’s lawyers told the justices in a brief, The New York Times reports. “But Smith will decline any request — no matter who makes it — to create content that contradicts the truths of the Bible, demeans or disparages someone, promotes atheism or gambling, endorses the taking of unborn life, incites violence, or promotes a concept of marriage that is not solely the union of one man and one woman.”

RELATED: ‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes

Despite all the other issues listed, however, marriage equality is the apparent basis for the case being brought to the Court.

Indeed, a unique aspect of the case is that unlike the Colorado baker or the Washington florist, no one has ever asked Smith to make a product that violates her beliefs, so it’s unclear why the Court even accepted the case. (The Court refused to rule on the Washington florist case, and issued only a very narrow ruling in the Colorado baker case, one that the Trump White House incorrectly used to enact discriminatory policy in agencies including HHS.)

Philip J. Weiser, Colorado’s attorney general, is defending his state’s law.

“A business could, based on its claimed beliefs, refuse to bake for Catholic baptisms because it is pro-choice, photograph reunions of Black families because it opposes racial equality or create floral arrangements for events celebrating women’s business achievements because it believes only men should work outside the home,” Weiser wrote in a Court brief.

Supporters of civil rights and LGBTQ equality are concerned the activist wing of the Court, especially Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, could use this case to overturn a 1990 ruling, Employment Division v. Smith.

IN OTHER NEWS: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

Indeed, Smith’s attorneys have specifically asked to Court to do so, although the Court is not expected to.

“In that case,” The Times explains, “the Supreme Court ruled that laws that are neutral and apply generally could not be challenged on the ground that they violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.”

But the current Trump-infused Roberts Court has made clear it sees conservative Christian faith at the center of American jurisprudence, and want that 33-year old ruling overturned.

Indeed, as Vox reported last week, the Supreme Court “appears eager to give religious conservatives sweeping exemptions from the law.”

“Although 303 Creative no longer presents the question of when the Constitution permits people with religious objections to an anti-discrimination law to defy that law, the Court has been signaling for quite some time that it is very sympathetic to such objectors — and that it is likely to abandon a more than 30-year-old precedent establishing that the law generally applies equally to everyone.”

Vox accurately describes this as a case involving “religious conservatives,” and not just people of faith. There are many Christians who support the LGBTQ community, same-sex marriage, and equal civil rights.

The decision in Employment Division v. Smith, “arising from a case involving the use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies, is unpopular among conservative Christians, who say it does not offer adequate protection to religion, and with some of the justices. Last year, the court’s three most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said it was time to overrule the 1990 decision.”

Already the LGBTQ community, its supporters, and advocates for equal civil rights are on edge after the Court struck down its 49-year old Roe v. Wade ruling, with Justice Thomas actively and openly calling for cases that would overturn decisions that made access to contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage the laws of the land.

Oral arguments in the case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, start at 10 AM ET.

You can listen live at the Supreme Court’s website, or via C-SPAN.

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Marco Rubio Lashes Out Against Passage of Same-Sex Marriage Bill After His Attempt to Create Special Religious Rights Fails

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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) lashed out with a Bible verse Wednesday morning, after the Senate passed legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage, while rejecting his attempt to infuse special religious rights through an amendment that even some Republicans refused to support.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which passed in a 61-36 vote Tuesday evening, will return to the House for a final vote before heading to President Joe Biden, who promised to sign it into law. Not included in the bill the Senate passed is Senator Rubio’s amendment, which he claimed was necessary despite the clear religious protections included in the legislation.

The bill goes to great lengths to state it will have no impact on current religious liberty protections. Section 6 is actually titled, “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience.”

READ MORE: Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate

It states: “Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty or conscience protection otherwise available to an individual or organization under the Constitution of the United States or Federal law.”

It goes even further.

“Consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonprofit religious organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, religious educational institutions, and nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion, and any employee of such an organization, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage,” it reads. “Any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.”

READ MORE: Marco Rubio Recorded an ‘Emergency Video’ After Pete Buttigieg Responded to His Anti-LGBTQ Attack. It Didn’t Go Well.

Senator Rubio has been actively opposed to the bill from the start. In July he called it a “stupid waste of time,” suggesting he does not think the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the 2015 Obergefell ruling that made same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional – despite actively calling for the court to do so.

In addition to the video above, Florida Democrats this summer tweeted a video of a local news report showing Rubio preaching to campaign supporters that same-sex marriage is “sinful.”

Last week in a press release Sen. Rubio called the bill “the insanity,” and falsely claimed the Respect for Marriage Act does not have religious protections.

“This bill does not protect religious liberty,” Rubio said in a statement last week. “Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.”

His amendment to create additional, special religious protections failed Tuesday evening, as did amendments from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and Senator James Lankford (R-OK).

READ MORE: ‘Punditry, Not Leadership’: McConnell Slammed for Refusing to Say if He Would Support Trump in 2024

Sen. Rubio, a frequently vocal opponent of LGBTQ people and their civil rights, has attacked people who opposed Florida Governor DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” legislation as “ridiculous.”

During his failed 2016 White House run Sen. Rubio repeatedly promised he would not run for re-election. He used the Pulse Massacre, one of the worst and deadliest anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, to declare that the LGBTQ community needed him and launched a re-election campaign on the back of those massacred LGBTQ people.

Rubio, who is known for posting passages from the Bible on many mornings, on Wednesday used Christian verse to lash out at the Respect for Marriage Act.

“The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,giving wisdom to the simple,” he tweeted.

His tweet did not go over well. While some responded with a simple, “Amen,” others explained to the Senator who took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” that the Christian Bible is not the law of the land.

“The ‘law of the lord’ was deliberately excluded from the US Constitution,” wrote one social media user. “There is only one law in the US and it’s not the law of the lord, it’s the law of the people.”

READ MORE: RNC Taps Right Wing Extremists to Head Group Designed to Expand GOP Appeal in Wake of Midterm Losses

History professor and author Douglas M. Charles noted Rubio’s tweet had a small typo, and accused him of having a staffer do his work.

“More empty-suitness from the epitome of empty suit senators,” Charles wrote. “These copy-paste BS tweets of his always have a spacing typo, which is how you know a staffer copy-pasted it rather than his being serious about it.”

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Mike Pence: Americans Have No Right to ‘Freedom From Religion’

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Former Vice President Mike Pence claimed during a Wednesday appearance on Fox Business that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not protect Americans from having other people’s faiths forced upon them.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” it states.

In fact, there are no references to a supreme being anywhere in the Constitution, because the Founding Fathers were adamantly opposed to centralized religious power as well as requiring individuals to subscribe to any particular denomination.

READ MORE: ‘God’s gonna cut you down’: How Republicans conspire with churches for power

The concept of separation of church and state was sacrosanct to men like President Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in his 1776 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that “setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time” and that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

Jefferson’s condemnation of forced faith in the document was unambiguous, further affirming that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

President James Madison, in whose hand the Constitution was penned, concurred with Jefferson.

“The settled opinion here is that religion is essentially distinct from Civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connexion between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast, which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law,” Madison explained in an 1819 letter, noting that “a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with toleration, is no security for public quiet and harmony, but rather a source itself of discord and animosity.”

READ MORE: White men refusing to share power is a silver stake piercing the heart of American democracy

Benjamin Franklin took it one step further, arguing in 1780 that any religion that seeks to impose itself is simply “bad.”

Yet Pence and host Larry Kudlow share an interpretation that strays wildly from what Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison clearly spelled out more than two centuries ago.

“These lefties want to scrap religion, Mike Pence, and I think it’s a terrible mistake,” Kudlow griped.

“Well, the radical left believes that the freedom of religion is the freedom from religion. But it’s nothing the American founders ever thought of or generations of Americans fought to defend,” Pence said.

As mentioned, that statement is completely false. Jefferson even concluded in his treatise that “such act will be an infringement of natural right.”

But Pence was not finished. He also suggested that the Supreme Court’s right-wing supermajority has a duty to side with one faith over another. Today, that means the GOP’s embrace of Christian nationalism.

“You know, I said today here in Houston that the source of our nation’s greatness has always been our faith in God, our freedom, and our vast natural resources. And the good news is, that after four years of the Trump-Pence administration, I’m confident that we have a pro-religious freedom majority on the Supreme Court of the United States. And I’m confident that come Election Day, November the 8th, you’re gonna see that freedom majority around the country turn out and vote pro-freedom majorities in the House, and in the Senate, and in statehouses around the country,” Pence said. “So stay tuned, Larry. Help is on the way.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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