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‘The State is Not God’: DeSantis Paid Educators to Teach ‘Christian Nationalism’ Report Says

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Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis last year recruited thousands of public school teachers and paid them thousands of dollars out of taxpayer funds to attend training on teaching what he called “civics,” but a report states the program focused on “the tenets of Christian nationalism,” and included at least one quote from the Christian bible.

“Training materials produced by the Florida Department of Education direct middle and high school teachers to indoctrinate students in the tenets of Christian nationalism, a right-wing effort to merge Christian and American identities,” Popular Information founder Judd Legum revealed in his exclusive report Tuesday.

“A three-day training course on civic education, conducted throughout Florida in the summer of 2023, included a presentation on the ‘Influences of the Judeo-Christian Tradition’ on the founding of the United States,” Legum writes. “According to speaker notes accompanying one slide, teachers were told that ‘Christianity challenged the notion that religion should be subservient to the goals of the state,’ and the same hierarchy is reflected in America’s founding documents. That slide quotes the Bible to assert that ‘[c]ivil government must be respected, but the state is not God.’ Teachers were told the same principle is embedded in the Declaration of Independence.”

Legum included a screenshot from the training that bears the logos of the Florida Department of Education and DeSantis’ “Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative.”

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It reads in part: “‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’ Matthew 22:21.”

“The next slide in the deck,” Legum continues, “quotes an article by Peter Lillback, the president of Westminster Theological Seminary and the founder of The Providence Forum, an organization that promotes and defends Christian nationalism. The group’s executive director, Jerry Newcombe, writes a weekly column for World Net Daily— a far-right site known for publishing hundreds of stories falsely suggesting Obama was a Muslim born in Africa.”

That slide “argues that there would be no freedom, no republic, and no constitution without religion. The speaker notes accompanying the slide emphasize that ‘the separation of Church and State did not mean the separation of God and government,’ and all the founders were ‘steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition.'”

In a March of 2023 press release, DeSantis’s office trumpeted: “Today, Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted Florida’s continued commitment to expanding civics education in Florida schools and announced that the first 4,500 teachers have completed the Civics Seal of Excellence endorsement course and will receive a $3,000 bonus.”

The statement claimed the course was “at capacity with 20,000 teachers making their commitment to civics education, and there are additional 14,000 teachers on the waiting list for this first of a kind civics teacher professional development program.”

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It also pointed to a 2022 program, saying “Florida’s Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative also included a three-day Civics Excellence teacher training course in the summer of 2022 for teachers to increase their knowledge of civics in addition to the creation of supplemental materials for civics lessons including the Civics Reading List and the Portraits of Patriotism video series to further student interaction with civics.”

Some teachers called that 2022 program’s teachings “cherry-picked,” NBC News (video below) reported at the time. Others were “shocked to learn what they were expected to teach their students.”

“They told us what to think and what our opinions were,” one teacher told NBC News, calling it “very unsettling.”

One slide in that program NBC News reported claimed it is a “misconception” that “The Founders desired strict separation of church and state and the Founders only wanted to protect freedom of worship.”

In 2022 The Washington Post reported, “New civics training for Florida public school teachers comes with a dose of Christian dogma, some teachers say, and they worry that it also sanitizes history and promotes inaccuracies.”

Watch that NBC News video below or at this link.

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Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats

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U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

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On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

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“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

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Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

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Clarence Thomas Took Even More Billionaire-Paid Trips Than We Knew: Senate Report

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took even more billionaire-funded trips than he or investigative reporting have previously revealed, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democrat Dick Durbin, who says those trips were not disclosed via the Justice’s annual financial reporting forms.

Justice Thomas received an estimated $5.8 million in gifts over the past two decades, a large portion from billionaire Harlan Crow, the government watchdog Fix the Court revealed last week. It is not known if the additional trips Chairman Durbin’s investigation exposed are included in that calculation. The total of all gifts all justices accepted over 20 years, including “likely” gifts, Fix The Court reported, was $6,592,657.

“Thomas traveled on Crow’s private jet during trips in 2017, 2019 and 2021 between various US states, as well as on a previously known 2019 trip to Indonesia, during which Thomas also stayed on Crow’s mega-yacht,” CNN reports. “The newly revealed private plane trips add to the picture of luxury travel enjoyed by Thomas and bankrolled by friends of the justice who have ties to conservative politics.”

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Punchbowl News’ Andrew Desiderio adds the new information “was obtained via the [committee’s] subpoena authorization for Crow.”

“’Mr. Crow reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide information responsive to its requests going back seven years,’ Crow spokesperson Michael Zona said of the information revealed Thursday,” CNN also reported.

Zona claimed Crow has “serious and continued concerns about the legality and necessity of the inquiry,” but “Mr. Crow engaged in good faith negotiations with the Committee from the beginning to resolve the matter. As a condition of this agreement, the Committee agreed to end its probe with respect to Mr. Crow.”

Watch CNN’s report below or at this link.

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