Author Topic: Jeff Sessions Delivers for The Evangelical Zealots  (Read 175 times)

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Jeff Sessions Delivers for The Evangelical Zealots
« on: October 10, 2017, 07:32:22 AM »
The Trump Department of Justice just released a couple of memos that will set back the separation of church and state in the US for an indefinite period.

The ACLU's article on this: "Discrimination Is the Big Winner in the Justice Department’s New Religious Guidelines" | American Civil Liberties Union

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The Department of Justice today issued religious-liberty guidelines for all federal agencies, and anyone who values equality for all and the separation of church and state should be deeply disturbed by the message the guidelines send.

Purporting to interpret religious-liberty protections in federal law, the guidance — a 25-page memo sent to all executive branch departments — doubles down on a distorted understanding of religious freedom. Not only does it allow discrimination in the name of religion, it also treats the separation of church and state as a mere afterthought.

[Continues . . .]

"The DOJ’s new 'religious liberty' memo pushes religious freedom to its limits" | Vox

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As the Trump administration announced it would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandates on Friday, the Department of Justice released two memos of its own. The first, titled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” is a 25-page, 20-point document outlining guidance for how various federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services, should operate to preserve religious liberty as much as possible — even when it conflicts with anti-discrimination laws or other policies. The second, “Implementation of Memorandum on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” requires the DOJ to adhere to the first.

The guidelines include ensuring the “government may not target religious individuals or entities through discriminatory enforcement of neutral, generally applicable laws.” Those entities include for-profit corporations as well as nonprofits such as churches or synagogues. So for example, according to this guideline, the IRS is required to avoid enforcing the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and other 501(c)(3) nonprofits from endorsing particular candidates, in circumstances where the amendment would not be enforced against secular nonprofits.

Quoting President Donald Trump’s speech on ending the Johnson Amendment earlier this year, Sessions said in a statement, "‘Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation … [this administration] will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore.’” Sessions added, "President Trump promised that this administration would ‘lead by example on religious liberty,’ and he is delivering on that promise.”

Trump has made religious liberty a key issue during both his campaign and time in office, courting the religious right by working to dial back the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, and promising to roll back coverage of employer-based contraception under the Affordable Care Act, which he has now done. Now, his administration has gone a step further, interpreting religious freedom so broadly that, according to the memorandum, the government can require an individual or corporation to act against its religious principle only "if it is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling governmental interest." These religious principles, in turn, are defined incredibly broadly, with any “sincerely-held” religious belief considered valid.

[. . .]

Among the most striking parts of the memo is the determination that the federal government and its agencies may not second-guess "the reasonableness of a religious belief.” Therefore, according to the document, the Department of Health and Human Services could not question whether an employer’s religious beliefs would be actually violated if it had to provide contraceptive coverage to a worker, even if opposition to contraception is not formally part of the employer’s religious doctrine. Also notable is the document’s final point, which states that religious organizations must compete “on equal footing” for federal financial assistance, regardless of their hiring practices. This also means that religious schools can compete for and receive school vouchers. (It also reiterates the Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer earlier this year, which found that a Lutheran school’s playground should be allowed to receive public funds for renovation).

[. . .]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the memorandum. “Anyone who values equality for all and the separation of church and state should be deeply disturbed by the message the guidelines send,” said Heather Weaver, senior staff attorney at ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, on the ACLU’s website.

[. . .]

These departmental guidelines are for internal use, and are not law. Like an executive order, these guidelines can easily be overturned. But because the memos interpret the RFRA so broadly, they, like the Hobby Lobby case, set a formidable precedent. And groups like the ACLU cannot preemptively challenge the memo, as World magazine’s Emily Belz points out. Rather, potential challengers have to wait for what they see as harm to occur before initiating a lawsuit.

[Link to full article]

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


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Re: Jeff Sessions Delivers for The Evangelical Zealots
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2017, 05:18:19 PM »
Since the article below tangentially ties in with the one above, I'll add it to this thread instead of starting another.

"Christianity in America is more politically polarized than ever" | Vox

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Americans are becoming more polarized than ever — especially when it comes to religion.

A series of Pew Research Center polls released last week shows how ideas about religious belief and morality are increasingly falling along racial and political lines. Fifty-six percent of Americans now say that belief in God isn’t a necessary component of morality, up from 49 percent in 2011. The uptick reflects the wider prevalence of the spiritually unaffiliated, or “nones,” as nearly a quarter of Americans identified as atheist or agnostic in 2011.

The change may be only a 7-point difference. But those differences manifest themselves almost exclusively along political lines.

While Republicans have roughly held steady in their attitudes — 50 percent say a belief in God is necessary for morality, while 47 percent say it is not — Democrats have shown the most change in their perspectives. Almost two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters now say belief in God is not part of being a good person, compared with 51 percent in 2011.

Although other polls carried out by Pew as part of the study — including questions on race and gender — seemed to reflect stronger political polarization, this particular survey seems to speak to the rise of a more committed and vocal secular contingent on the left. Already, religious “nones” are the largest single religious bloc among Democrats. The survey suggests that Democrats who might otherwise have identified with a traditionally Democratic religious tradition (such as Judaism or mainline Protestantism) regardless of personal belief may now feel more comfortable with the “none” label, something echoed by the fact that mainline Protestantism is likewise in decline [< link to Washington Post--limited number of free articles per month].

Beliefs in the relationship between God and morality also differ by race, with black (63 percent) and Hispanic (55 percent) respondents saying that belief in God is integral to personal morality. By contrast, only 35 percent of white respondents do. Race seemed to outweigh stated religious affiliated as a marker of this belief: Among Catholics, for example, 61 percent of Hispanic Catholics said believing in God was central to morality, compared with only 40 percent of white Catholics. While almost two-thirds of white evangelicals cited belief in God as a necessary component, only 34 percent of white mainline Protestants did.

Such numbers speak to the relative theological liberalism of white mainline churches — many of which have traditionally been associated with progressive politics — as well as the tricky needle many mainline Protestant churches must thread. While they are often more socially as well as doctrinally more liberal than their evangelical counterparts, placing less of a public emphasis on dogma, such a “middle ground” has often left them short of members: Another 2015 Pew study found that, nationwide, mainline churches hemorrhage 1 million members annually [while religiously conservative churches continue to thrive]. Other religious groups were not polled for this particular part of the survey.

[Continues . . .]
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Dave

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Re: Jeff Sessions Delivers for The Evangelical Zealots
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2017, 06:23:59 PM »
I think the article on the possible demise of American democracy, as in the side bar, is part of the same pattern. Religion seeks, ultimately, to control every aspect of life, Islam having just about done so. It can get as totalitarian as fascism and communism.
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Re: Jeff Sessions Delivers for The Evangelical Zealots
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2017, 09:23:05 PM »
I think the article on the possible demise of American democracy, as in the side bar, is part of the same pattern. Religion seeks, ultimately, to control every aspect of life, Islam having just about done so. It can get as totalitarian as fascism and communism.

People want to believe this can not happen with Christianity. I wonder how they passed out of history in their schooling.

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Dave

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Re: Jeff Sessions Delivers for The Evangelical Zealots
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2017, 09:31:56 PM »
I think the article on the possible demise of American democracy, as in the side bar, is part of the same pattern. Religion seeks, ultimately, to control every aspect of life, Islam having just about done so. It can get as totalitarian as fascism and communism.

People want to believe this can not happen with Christianity. I wonder how they passed out of history in their schooling.

Yes, just look back at the history of the Roman Catholic Church with its spy systems, underhand diplomacy, intrigues, selling "forgiveness" on an industrial scale etc etc etc. 

Then, possibly, inflicting us with the likes of "Sister Agatha"! Is there no end to their crimes!?
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.