Oh man, as usual the crazy just burns. How, in the name of all that is holy, do some of these people get elected.
Let’s start with Republican State Representative James Van Huss of Tennessee who wants to make one small change to the constitution of the state of Tennessee. Van Huss’ change would rewrite Article I to say, “We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior.” Perhaps it won’t be a huge surprise that Rep. VanHuss, who also goes by the name Micah, and just for the record, is a Republican. (Maybe he should read the book of Micah sometime, especially the part in 6:8 about walking “humbly with your God.”Continue reading »
The story is based on a recent action by the City of Atlanta in which they fired Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran for the publication of a religiously themed book, and how it was distributed within the department. The book included some pretty strong anti-gay comments, so of course the main characters in anti-gay, inc. are all grifting on Cochran’s martyrdom. I’d like to offer some reminders to these staunch defenders of “free speech.”
Let’s lay out the facts of the case (and not the overwrought screeching of the ‘phobes). First, as part of taking an executive level job with the City, Mr. Cochran had to agree to and sign a work agreement. One requirement imposed by the work agreement was that Cochran (like anyone else in a similar position) had to get the City’s permission for anything he might publish. This is not at all unusual. Cochran didn’t bother to get this approval.
The grifters have tried to make the claim it was all innocent, as the book was written for a bible study group in his church (in one explanation), or, was just given to a couple of friends who asked for it. Actually, it was given out by Cochran to several of his subordinates in the fire department. Let me remind you, he was the Chief, therefore had direct influence over the employment status of these people. This just isn’t acceptable in any work environment, let alone in the public sector.Continue reading »
Brian Brown of the anti-gay designated hate group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and Bryan Fischer of the designated hate group American Family Association (AFA), both have their knickers in a twist over recent court ruling out of New Mexico. In this ruling, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against a Albuquerque wedding photographer, Elane Photography who refused to work with a lesbian couple citing her deeply held religious beliefs.
“This decision is outrageous. While simultaneously admitting that this decision will harm the Huguenins, the court uses its full power of coercion to force them to compromise their beliefs,” declared Brian Brown, NOM president. “This is not what this country was founded upon; governmental coercion has no place in the public square never mind the freedom of religion supposedly enjoyed by the Huguenins.”
NOM and scholars on both sides of the issue have long agreed that redefining marriage will be a direct threat to Americans’ First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. Increasingly, gay-‘marriage’ activists are using the courts to force people of faith to violate their beliefs when a myriad of other options exist for the same-sex couples in question.
“While the court calls for compromise, they got it wrong in this case,” continued Brown. “The Huguenins should not have to compromise. Their beliefs are constitutionally protected. But the Willocks could easily have compromised by going to another photographer who would not have had such a conflict. Instead the Willocks forced the issue and used the power of the court to put the Huguenins in an impossible position – compromise their beliefs or give up their livelihood. There is nothing just about that.”
What Brian doesn’t get, or doesn’t want to get, is his lack of understanding about how the freedom of religion clause works. First, these folks are not being coerced, nor required, nor ordered to alter their religious beliefs on iota. They can stay the hateful, small-minded, bigoted people they are today, clinging to an inaccurate interpretation of an ancient text. The court hasn’t said a single word about that. They can still pray to the god, gods, or goddess of their choosing. Again, nothing’s changed. So stop with the drama queen routine Brian.
More than 200 years ago, Americans decided to develop and live in a societal arrangement governed by civil laws, underlying a set of inalienable rights. They even felt compelled (because this was a committee effort after all) to enumerate some of those rights. One of those was a right to religious freedom, but another was the right for each person to receive equal treatment within that society. Now I admit we’re still trying to perfect that concept, but what it means is, your individual rights will, sometimes, seem to you to be restricted, because the larger societal rights will take precedence. But that’s not even the situation here. They aren’t being forced or coerced into changing their religious beliefs.
The slippery slope here has been noted. That ancient text speaks to slavery only in the affirmative. My Methodist Church was divided over that very issue, with many using their religion and the Bible to justify slavery. So, what Brian, and everyone else who listens to him and sends money, needs to get, is that, based on his argument, if I have a strongly held religious belief that slavery is OK…then society (the civil government) has no right to keep me from owning a slave.
Who’s the arbiter here? Who decides which deeply held religious convictions we are going to respect? Who gets to determine that it is really is a deeply held religious belief, and not economic opportunity? We do, the American people through our founding documents, our elected government, and the courts.
And Brian, we have found your arguments lacking. So as a civil society, we’ve decided that when you open your doors to conduct commerce in our society, you have an obligation to provide your services and goods to anyone who walks through the door with the means to buy them, but you can hate them just as much while taking their money as you do when they walk past your store hand-in-hand.
Fischer is a bit more succinct in one of his many twitter posts:
Lesson from the New Mexico ruling: we must choose between homosexuality and religious liberty because we can't have both.
Again, he sets up a false dichotomy. Lot’s of people are religious, Christian even, and gay. Despite a lot of churches and pastors doing all they can to run them off (see more here). No Bryan, you don’t have to choose. If you open your doors to the public, we decided a long time ago in this country, you have to serve all the public. You can still hate people based on any little thing you want to use, but you don’t get to pick and choose who you sell to.
Their screeching just grows more shrill the more they realize they are losing this battle.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and their President, Brian Brown, just have not had a good year. Back in November they lost most of their anti-equality marriage amendments. Recently, several States have adopted equal marriage laws, and there are two cases before the Supreme Court related to gay marriage.
The Supreme Court cases have already been to brief and argument. Those two cases are in the hands of the Court, and there are no more opportunities to influence their decision. Colorado just passed civil unions, Maine, Maryland and Rhode Island have adopted gay marriage, and Delaware looks poised to be the next.
So, if you are the head of an organization finding itself on the losing side of the issue, what do you do? Well, you ask for more money from your supporters to fight these already lost causes, at least that’s what Brian Brown of NOM is doing. Below are a few excerpts from a recent fundraising email.Continue reading »
It really doesn’t get more appropriate than this. National Organization for Marriage (NOM) head, Brian Brown, tweeted out the picture below a couple of days ago from his “commencement.” The Coalition of African-American Pastors, a co-sponsor of NOM’s hate march on the Supreme Court next week, awarded Brian an honorary doctorate of letters degree from the American Urban University.
It should be noted that the American Urban University corporation was suspended a while back. The president of American Urban University was (self-named) Bishop George D. McKinney from St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church of God in Christ in San Diego, CA. Bishop McKinney is one of the organizers of Coalition of African-American Pastors. It should be noted, the “university” is a townhouse in Long Beach, CA. Check it out, 224 E Randolph Place Long Beach, CA 90807
So let’s see how this all adds up:
Catholic and Mormon tithes spent to keep gay people as second class citizens – Nearly $50 million;
Salary to Brian Brown from his hate group from those same sources – ~$250k
An ill-fitting mortar board at a jaunty angle on a head that’s two sizes too big at a fake graduation from a fake university presented by a fake Bishop – Priceless.
Seriously, it’s like at the last-minute someone realized they needed to try to at least make it look like something legitimately academic so they found a mortar board in the kindergarten Sunday School class.
Brian Brown, President of leading gay hating group National Organization for Marriage, has, not surprisingly, done what he so often does and tweeted a blatant lie. According to Ms. Brown (and yes, I used the right title, we all know about people who claim to be straight but obsess over all things gay), a “Christian Vendor” in Maryland was forced to close down because of gay marriage.
Let’s just clarify Ms. Brown’s little white lie. First off, his tweet is false on its face. The business didn’t “close.” According to Matt Grubbs, owner of Discover Annapolis Tours, he has shut down the “wedding part” of his business on the advice of his attorney…not the whole business.
So why did his attorney recommend this. Well, it’s because Grubbs, who claims to be a “Christian,” didn’t want to abide by the public accommodation laws of Maryland, and treat everyone equally. He’d do weddings for straight people, but didn’t want to do them for gay people. So, to Grubbs and Ms. Brown, this is an infringement of his religious freedom rights. You know, just like some of those good Christian people ought to be able to open restaurants and not serve blacks because they have a religious objection to black people being free.Continue reading »
I haven’t been posting anything really in a long time. I’ve been writing so much for work, that even though there are lots of things I want to write about, I just haven’t been able to find the motivation. However, there are a couple of stories lately I would like to share some thoughts about, and one is the horrible event at the movie theater in Aurora, CO this past weekend.
Here is my primary thought. To everyone who was actually touched by this calamity, my prayers are with you and your families.
My second thought is, everyone else needs to just take a breath, and let’s bring some sanity to the discussion. We all want to know why. We want to understand how this person came to this place. We want to assign some motivation, some identifiable cause. We want to blame someone or something so it will look like we can control these situations. We want these answers because we want to be safe. We want to know how to identify this person in the future, or how to create circumstances where this can never happen again.
There are already those taking to the airwaves and the internets to blame Hollywood’s violent movies, gaming violence, guns — both the lack of regulations and the lack of a gun-toting savior, our mental health system, troubled youth, social media, normalization of gun violence, lack of prayer in schools, gays, abortions. I’ve heard criticism of parents who brought children to the movie premier, midnight openings, and once in a while, even some mention of the alleged shooter.
We search for meaning in madness, and don’t take the time to simply grieve. I understand that very basic human compulsion. But “why” will drive you crazy. Has everyone in the entire country forgotten what it’s like to be around a two-year-old, … Why? Because I said so. Why? Because I’m in charge. Why?….” Sometimes there’s just no good reason anyone can articulate for some of the things that happen in this world.
In my Sunday School class were doing a study from a book called The Psalms for Today by Beth LaNeel Tanner. Coincidentally, This past Sunday’s lesson was “Learning to Live Without Fear.” Appropriate for the time, no? This coming Sunday’s lesson is on Psalm 13, and the Chapter is titled, “Living In A Broken World.” The first five verses of the Psalm are, in the American Standard Version:
How long, O Jehovah? wilt thou forget me forever? How long wilt thou hide they face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God; Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Let mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; Lest mine adversaries rejoice when I am moved.
You see, even David didn’t have all the answers. Sometimes he cries out to God for some sign, for some deeper understanding. The Rabbi in Ecclesiastes often has the same response. They don’t understand why some things happen in this world, yet we desperately want those answers. However, the rhetoric we’re getting so far is not going to do anything to heal anyone, nor the nation, nor the world.
In her book, Dr. Tanner talks about how the Israelites often, for protection, carried a Psalm rolled into an amulets. We Christians wear crosses and many wear St. Christopher necklaces. Dr. Tanner writes, “We have become a society where fear sells everything from the latest weather forecast to new cars. Much of our economy is fueled by tapping into our fears. If we own the right things, we can protect ourselves and our family from harm, and that will make us happy. We have replaced amulets with things that supposedly will keep us from harm and offer that ever elusive contentment.”
We have this overblown fear when things like this happen that is out of proportion to the real danger. It’s been noted that, while nothing takes anything away from terror and pure evil of this event, the 12 people killed here represent merely one-half of the total number of people killed by guns on an average day in the United States. John Mueller writes: “International terrorism generally kills a few hundred people a year worldwide—not much more, usually, than the number who drown yearly in bathtubs in the United States. Americans worry intensely about “another 9/11,” but if one of these were to occur every three months for the next five years, the chance of being killed in one of them is 0.02 percent. Astronomer Alan Harris has calculated that at present rates, the lifetime probability that a resident of the globe will die at the hands of international terrorists is 1 in 80,000, about the same likelihood that one would die over the same interval from the impact on the earth of an especially ill-directed asteroid or comet.”1
Let’s take a look at some of the rhetoric up to now. Not surprisingly, the krazy kristian kooks have taken to the internets will all sorts of bullshit. Continue reading »
As quoted on American Broadcast Network’s 20/20, Feb. 23, 2007. John Mueller was commenting about his book Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them (New York: Free Press, 2006). These statistics apply to the world in general and not war zones such as Iraq. ↩
Today’s featured guest is Ruth Sheldon, but before we get to Ruth’s story, don’t you just love the intense music NOM uses at the beginning of their videos? Ruth was the Town Clerk for Granby for nearly 16 years. She wants us to be sure we know that she loved the job, but was forced to give it up because of those icky gay people expecting to be treated fairly. She wrote in her resignation letter that “New York State passed the same-sex marriage law, a law which violates my conscience and my faith.”
We get a ways in here before we find out that Ruth went to the town attorney, who actually gave her a way to accommodate her beliefs. He said the town could quit giving out marriage licenses altogether. I suppose the people in Granby would then just go to the Clerk of Court or the County Clerk’s office. But despite having an “out,” Ruth decided she just had to quit and make a video about it for NOM. Because if she hadn’t quit and just started not providing the service to anyone (which would be fair), then she couldn’t claim to have been persecuted for her religious beliefs.
Ruth quotes some scripture near the end of the video about standing for what you believe, but I’d quote another scripture, Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Laura Fotusky is another of the town clerks being trotted out by NOM with the claim that she was somehow being persecuted because, God forbid, she might have been expected to carry out her ministerial duties as prescribed by New York State law, and actually treat everyone equally under those laws. Well, we can’t go around having government employees doing that now, can we? Back in July, Laura resigned her position as the Town Clerk of Barker, NY rather than sign marriage licenses for everyone qualified to be married under civil law.
Laura starts claiming her daughter thought her life was in danger because she had to make a choice between her work and God because signing a marriage license for someone other than the type of couples she agrees with goes against God. Let’s get that out of the way right up front…first off, Laura we’re not in a theocracy, but are a nation of civil laws that are supposed to apply equally to everyone.
But most important Laura, once again…that cotton/poly blend blouse gives you away. You’re not that strict in your religious views, you just like to decide which of the Levitical laws you want to follow.
Laura claims, “my religious freedoms were violated by the Marriage Equality Act.” Sorry Laura, that’s just not true, and you know it. Just like Rose in a previous story Laura is an agent of the state (she is, in effect) the State for this purpose. She is not being asked to affirm any marriages nor offer a religious blessing nor perform a religious rite in respect to anyone’s marriage. Just like with Rose, she is expected to perform a ministerial duty, and issue a marriage license to any couple who are legally qualified to be married in the State of New York.
I contend there is no religious argument which can be made here. I suspect Laura has issued marriage licenses to mixed race couples and couples who have been perviously married and divorced. All these classes are prohibited from being married under biblical laws…so that just removes the whole religious argument. With religion, you’re either in all the way, or you’re not. But for the sake or argument, I’ll allow Laura some leeway here on that reason. The problem then arises that there are churches and religious groups which do not object to same-sex couples being married, and celebrate those just as they do heterosexual marriage. So Laura is violating their religious freedoms when she refused to perform a civil duty that is part of her job. Sorry Laura, but no one asked you to worship a specific God, nor bless a same-sex union, nor even send a wedding gift.
Laura falls back on the old standby of talking about how the Lord knows what’s in her heart, that she has love and compassion for people, and that she really cares about people. Well Laura, great. I hope you do, and I’m sure the people who know and love you believe that about you, but that’s not what is in question here. The question here is, will you carry your civil duties (not impose your religious beliefs) on the people in Barker. But NO, you state that you wanted to stay in your “government” job, and practice your religious convictions. In this country, at least for now Laura, thank God we separate those two things.
Laura, you get to keep your religious beliefs, and you get worship you want to where you want to, but as Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” When acting as an agent of the state, you don’t get to deny to me rights and privileges to which I am otherwise entitled under the laws of that state.
But Laura, you resigned. So you don’t get to play the martyr card and claim persecution. You quit. Lots of people quit their jobs for lots of reason, and I don’t hear them getting on the Youtube channel for a hate group and crying foul.
It appears that folks at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Maggie Gallagher’s personal hate group, is collecting stories of town/county clerks from around New York State who feel put-upon for having to follow the state’s law that all couples are equal under the State’s Marriage laws. As they collect their videos of the horrible (horrible I say) persecution caused these people by being expected to do their civil duties under state law as Agents of The State, we’ll look at them under the light of a Constitutional Republic which is ruled by law, not religion.
We’ll start with Rose Marie Belforti. According to Rose, “this may be the first time in her life she’s had to receive persecution.”
Let’s start with the her statement of “may be.” Apparently she’s not sure, but she certainly wants to make it sound that way, and then there’s the thing about “receiving” persecution. I didn’t know it was sent along in a package via UPS, but, maybe that’s the way the new form of the marriage licenses got to her.
Rose used to have an idyllic life after moving to the rural Ledyard, NY where she builds barns and is the part time town clerk. It’s a town of 2,000 where the record number of marriage license in any given year was seven. Rose assures us that she really does love helping people, and she goes out of her way to make sure everybody gets what they need…but gay people, not so much. They are not welcome in the Clerk’s Office in Ledyard.
Also, despite her strong Christian morals, that whole “thou shalt not bare false witness” thing is apparently just a quaint old saying that doesn’t mean much, because Rose’s video here has some whoppers in it.
Let’s start with the part about how the Legislature just “so quickly…no debate,” suddenly gave gay and lesbian people equal treatment under the law. Sorry Rose, this bill had come to the legislature of New York State several times in previous sessions, and it certainly didn’t pass quickly this time, and there sure as hell was lots of debate and protest marches, and plenty of anti-gay vitriol to go around. I guess things move so slow in the bucolic Ledyard (we know it’s bucolic because NOM takes pains to show us chickens and lots of grain fields) the many months seem like a day.
According to Rose, she has a problem administering the new applications because she’s a Christian, and the Bible tells her that marriage is between a man and a woman. Funny thing about that whole biblical marriage thing though, many biblical characters had multiple (and is some cases many) wives. The woman was considered the property of the man, and then there’s the whole thing of a woman having to marry the brother of her husband if her husband dies before fathering a child. So, them’s the rules, I guess, that the N.Y. Legislature took away. So, it’s no longer biblical marriage there in Leyard.
But I guess Rose is OK with all the other stuff about biblical marriage. What has her knickers in a wad is the idea of gay people getting married. She can’t endorse that, and believes the law is wrong…so, even though she is an agent of the State, she thinks she has a right, based on her religious beliefs, to pick and choose the laws she ignores.
To combat this, the Town apparently attempted to accommodate her by appointing a Deputy Clerk. Here’s the problem with that. City Hall is apparently open only during certain hours, and the Deputy Clerk isn’t there during those hours, so, a gay couple who recently attempted to get a marriage license was told they would have to call to make an appointment with the Deputy Clerk, and come back at a different time. Sort of sounds like a little “separate but equal” to me.
Well Rose, I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it in a Republic which is based on laws. You are claiming that your religious beliefs should be accommodated in respect to your actions as an agent of the government, but it is not a reasonable accommodation when you just flatly refuse to provide the services to a certain class of people who are otherwise legally qualified to receive that government service. The State may make a reasonable accommodation for your religious practices, but are under no obligation to make accommodation for your religious beliefs. There is a difference.
But that whole religious objection thing is just a red herring. That shirt she’s wearing is a cotton/poly blend, and we now also know that she has issued marriage licenses to previously married people…something forbidden in her Bible (except that whole marrying your brother-in-law exception), so good ole persecuted Rose isn’t really being persecuted for her Biblical beliefs, she’s having a problem because she has a problem with treating gay and lesbian people equal under the law.
So Rose, get over yourself, and if you can’t fulfill your obligations as an agent of the government, then you have to go…but it’s not unfair, it’s not persecution, and it’s not you being denied your religious freedom…it’s you wanting to be a martyr. There are indeed a few theocracies left in the world Rose, perhaps you should move to one of them.
ABC News did one of their “What Would You Do” segments in a Texas diner. They had a lesbian couple with children (actors), and a gay couple with children go in, and a person playing a waitress who began to criticize the couples openly. I must admit, I was heartened by what transpired, and reminded of how important it is to speak out in face of bigotry and inequality. The Texan’s fared better than New Yorker’s.
Of course, when the good kristians at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) saw it, they just couldn’t tolerate the fact that some people are actually opposed to discriminating against gay folks, so they had the following response:
Let’s note first of all that the behavior of the “waitress” in this setup up is outrageous.
The insidious propaganda point from ABC News is the suggestion that millions of good Americans who believe marriage means a man and a woman because children ought to have moms and dads, would or are behaving like this. Shame on ABC.
Be prepared for lot more prejudiced stereotyping of decent and honorable Americans down the road by powerful elites.
Maggie forgets that there is often a grain of truth in stereotypes.