Religion

Israeli Government Is Petrified of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

by Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview – The following is an interview with Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace and the editor of On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice. Mark Karlin: How is the charge of antisemitism used to smear critics of the Israeli government and its ignoble policies toward Palestinians? Rebecca Vilkomerson: As Tony Lerman’s contribution to the On Antisemitism book explores, Israel and its advocates have worked hard to portray criticism of the state of Israel as the “new antisemitism.” However, using the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israeli policies diminishes the meaning of the term and makes it harder to combat the real thing. In our advocacy work for Palestinian rights, we must always be vigilant for cases of real antisemitism directed against Jewish people — as opposed to protest against the Israeli state — just as...

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Malala Yousafzai Made an Honorary Canadian Citizen

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours – The advocate for girls’ right to education worldwide is only the sixth person to ever receive the symbolic title. Ottawa, Canada – Pakistani human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has become only the sixth person, and the youngest, to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship. Canada bestowed the title on Yousafzai, 19, during an honorary citizenship ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday. “I’m humbled to accept honorary citizenship of your country,” she said in the House of Commons, where she received several standing ovations from parliamentarians and members of the public that packed the gallery. Malala and Satyarthi receive joint Nobel “While I will always be a proud Pashtun and a proud citizen of Pakistan, I’m grateful to be an honorary member of your nation of heroes,” Yousafzai said. “Though I still require a visa, but that’s another discussion,” she added, with a laugh. Yousafzai...

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With Gorsuch Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice, a New Conservative Era Begins

by Deirdre Fulton – Neil Gorsuch could immediately make an impact on cases dealing with religious freedom, gun rights, and immigration. After a bruising Senate confirmation battle, former federal judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in Monday as the 113th Supreme Court justice, restoring a 5-4 conservative balance to the nation’s high court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath at 9:00am in a private ceremony; later Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy—for whom Gorsuch formerly clerked—will ask his new colleague to take a second oath in a public ceremony at the White House. Watch below: Gorsuch “is widely expected to shift the ideological balance of the court to the right,” wrote Lydia Wheeler for The Hill, “with his views seen as mostly in line with the man he is replacing: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.” However, she continued, “some court watchers say Gorsuch may be even more conservative than Scalia, his mentor...

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Mexican Archdiocese: Companies That Help Build Trump’s Wall Are “Traitors”

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred’. Denouncing President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States as “an open threat that violates relations and peace,” the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City said Sunday that companies who profit from its construction are “traitors to the homeland.” The country’s largest archdiocese made the charge in an editorial (Spanish) published in its weekly newsletter, Desde la fe. A spokesman said the editorial represented the views of the diocese. “Joining a project that is a serious affront to dignity, is to shoot yourself in the foot,” the editorial declared. “The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred.” It continued: “Any company with the intention to invest in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners should be considered traitors...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Judge Temporarily Halts Trump’s Revised Muslim Ban Hours Before it Goes into Effect

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “Nothing of substance has changed.” A Hawaii judge ordered a temporary restraining order on President Donald Trump’s revised Muslim ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was set to go into effect. The ban, which is a revised version of a similar executive order Trump signed just one week into office, suspends all refugee resettlement for 120 days and blocks the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for at least 90 days. It also limits the number of refugees the United States will accept in 2017 to 50,000–60,000 less than originally planned under Obama. The ban was set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson heard Hawaii’s case, which the state filed by itself. The state argued that the ban violates the First Amendment’s establishment, as it is essentially a Muslim ban, and it also hurts...

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The “Freedom Cities” Campaign: Resistance Through Progress at the Local Level

by Ronald Newman – On Saturday night, people at more than 2,200 events around the nation tuned in for the inaugural event of People Power, a new platform harnessing nationwide grassroots resistance to the Trump administration’s assault on our Constitution and our values. At the event, we announced “Freedom Cities,” a campaign that provides a concrete plan for the People Power team to play offense in cities and towns across the country. WATCH THE RECORDING Even before “Freedom Cities,” our grassroots activism has borne fruit, as evidenced by the incredible protests around the country that brought defeat to President Trump’s first attempt to ban Muslims and refugees. We will resist with equal strength Muslim Ban 2.0, along with any other unconstitutional and un-American policies that flow from the White House. While we resist, however, we must also play offense, and work to paint a picture of the type of country we...

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Muhammad Ali’s Family Takes to Capitol Hill to Oppose Trump’s ‘Insulting’ Muslim Ban

by Lindsay Gibbs – “Someone needs to turn the humanity switch on.” Last month, Muhammad Ali Jr. and Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the son and ex-wife of the late Muhammad Ali, were detained by immigration officers for several hours at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on their way back from Jamaica and questioned explicitly about their religion. On Thursday afternoon, the devout Muslims — both of whom are U.S. citizens and had all the proper documentation with them while traveling — spoke about this experience at a House of Representatives forum on Capitol Hill. “I was so violated,” Camacho-Ali, the second wife of the boxing legend and mother of four of his children, said. “This is not acceptable. I’ve never felt this uncomfortable being in this country.” The mother and son had no qualms tying their experience directly to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, the executive order — now in its second iteration — banning nationals from several majority-Muslim countries and preventing all...

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We’ll See You in Court, 2.0: Once a Muslim Ban, Still a Muslim Ban

by David Cole – If a Muslim Ban is cleaned up to exclude Iraq, exempt lawful permanent residents and other current visa holders, is it still a Muslim ban? That’s the question presented by President Donald Trump’s decision to replace his original executive order, enjoined by the courts, with a new one. The administration’s decision to abandon the old order is wise — every judge but one who had reviewed it found it raised grave constitutional concerns. The new order will be less catastrophic in its roll-out than the first, both because it exempts those who already have visas and because it will not go into effect until March 16. But it’s still religious discrimination in the pretextual guise of national security. And it’s still unconstitutional. As I’ve written before, Donald Trump has repeatedly made crystal clear his intent to ban Muslims from entering the United States. As a candidate, he repeatedly stated...

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Baby Remains Found in Mass Grave at Ex-Irish Orphanage

Remains of children ranging from new-born to three-years-old discovered in sewers of a former Catholic Church-run home. A mass grave containing the remains of babies has been found in the sewers of a former Catholic orphanage in western Ireland, according to investigators, confirming a local historian’s suspicions of the unmarked burial of hundreds of children. Excavations found “significant quantities of human remains” in an underground structure divided into 20 chambers at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, a report from a government-appointed inquiry said on Friday. The judge-led Mother and Baby Homes Commission said DNA analysis of selected remains confirmed the ages of the dead ranged from 35 weeks to 3 years old. The investigators did not say how many babies’ remains were recovered, or how many might still be buried in what are believed to be the home’s sewage or waste water...

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List of Sexual Predators Protected by Pope Francis Grows and Grows

by Betty Clermont – The Catholic Church has long been known for gut-wrenching sex abuse scandals. But this personal involvement by a pope is unprecedented. ____ Fr. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second Vatican trial after new evidence emerged against him as reported on Feb. 25. The Vatican found the Italian priest guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing young boys and he was defrocked. But Inzoli is friends with Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio who “intervened on behalf of Inzoli and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to ‘a life of humility and prayer.’” Inzoli was later seen at a conference on the family. In June 2016, a civil court convicted Inzoli of eight incidents of sexual violence between 2004 and 2008 against five children aged 12-16. Fifteen more crimes were barred by the statute of limitations. (Two out of three sexual assaults in the U.S. go unreported. An Australian report found a 33...

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Hate Crimes in New York City Have Skyrocketed this Year

by Adam Peck – And Jews are increasingly the ones being targeted. Except for Tel Aviv in Israel, New York City is home to the largest Jewish population on earth. And since January 1, the number of attacks and threats made towards Jews in the five boroughs is up 94 percent compared to the same period last year. The New York Police Department has documented 68 hate crimes since the year began, more than half of which targeted Jews. Over the same span in 2016 there were 44 hate crimes — an increase of 55 percent from year to year. The rise of anti-Semitic attacks isn’t constrained to New York City, either. Across the country, waves of terroristic threats and attacks have poured into Jewish neighborhoods and communities in recent weeks. So far, ProPublica has documented more than 100 bomb threatsdirected towards various Jewish organizations, schools, and community centers in more than 90...

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Where We are Now: George W. Bush’s Defends the Constitution to Rebuke Trump (VIDEO)

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – During an interview on Today, former President George W. Bush responded to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and recent criticisms of the media by speaking in support of religious freedom and the free press. “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush told host Matt Lauer, weighing in on a question about whether the media should be considered “enemies of America,” as Trump said during his speech at CPAC last Friday. “We need an independent media to hold people like me into account,” Bush said. “Power can be addictive and it can be corrosive. It’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.” Bush explained that he spent “a lot of time” trying to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin “to accept the notion of an independent press. And, it’s kind of hard...

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Philadelphia Muslims and Jews ‘Unite Against Hatred’ After Cemetery Attack

by Nadia Prupis – Muslim activists rally to donate funds, assist in cleanup after Jewish grave site in Pennsylvania desecrated. Muslim activists rallied again to help repair another Jewish cemetery vandalized over the weekend, this time in Pennsylvania, where at least 100 gravestones were toppled. The president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA visited the Mount Carmel Cemetery in the northeast part of the city on Sunday and expressed solidarity and condolences to local Jewish leaders. “We are deeply troubled by these rising and ongoing attacks on our Jewish sisters and brothers, and members from our Philadelphia chapter are in route to assist in clean up,” said Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, the group’s national vice president. “We call upon all Americans to stand united against this hatred and extremism.” The incident was reported on Sunday after a man visiting the cemetery found that three of his relatives’ headstones...

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Muslims Raise $55,000 to Fix Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

Muslim activists launch crowdfunding bid to repair Missouri’s Chesed Shel Emeth graves after anti-Semitic desecration. A crowdfunding project launched by Muslim activists has raised more than $55,000 in one day to repair a vandalised Jewish cemetery in St Louis. On Tuesday, Linda Sarsour of the grassroots civil rights MPower Change group and Tarek El-Messidi of the non-profit CelebrateMercy organisation called on people to donate after more than 100 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in the St Louis suburb of University City were toppled. By early Wednesday, at the time of  publishing, $55,341 had been raised. According to reports, police said they did not yet know who was responsible for the vandalism. “Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration,” the activists said. They launched the campaign with a goal to raise $20,000, a target that was hit in three...

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Abraham Lincoln’s Warning About American Demagogues Like Trump

by Joe Romm – Lincoln argued that only “reason” and “a reverence” for the law could stop them. On Saturday, President Donald Trump compared himself to “Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents.” On his inauguration, Trump chose to be sworn in on the so-called “Lincoln bible” — the same one Honest Abe was sworn in on — because he was “inspired by Lincoln’s words,” Quartz reported. On Presidents’ Day, though, it’s worth remembering that Trump is the anti-Lincoln (and anti-Washington). Indeed, he is not just the demagogue Founding Fathers like Alexander Hamilton warned us about. He is exactly the demagogue Lincoln himself warned us about. At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln famously asked whether a nation “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal … can long endure.” But Lincoln’s concern about the fate of the Republic — and the danger of a demagogue just like Trump — dates much earlier. Way back...

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Merkel: ‘Islam is not the Source of Terrorism’ (VIDEOS)

Both Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence attend key security conference in Munich with Russia high on the agenda. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Islam is not the source of “terrorism” and that cooperating with predominantly Muslim states in the fight against it is vital. Merkel, who has been critical of US President Donald Trump’s attempt to impose a temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, was speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, with US Vice President Mike Pence in the audience. “I think, those countries, first and foremost have to give a contribution. Because only in this way we would be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the source of terrorism. But a falsely understood Islam,” she said. “I expect from religious authorities of Islam to find strong language in order to delimitate peaceful Islam from terrorism committed...

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Immigrants are Fleeing the United States to Seek Refuge in Canada (VIDEO)

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Some of them are crossing the border on foot in freezing conditions. A growing number of immigrants who initially sought refuge in the United States are now fleeing to Canada — and, in many cases, are risking frostbite to make it across the northern border on foot. Immigrant advocates say desperate people are being driven away from the U.S. thanks to the fear and uncertainty sparked by President Donald Trump’s policies — including, recently, an executive order that temporarily halts refugee resettlement from Syria and bars people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Nine asylum-seekers from Sudan, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday in an exchange that was captured by a photographer from Reuters. After a cab dropped off the group near the border line in Champlain, New York, they dodged a U.S. border patrol officer trying to examine their passports, climbed...

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This Virginia County Denied a Permit to Build a Mosque: It Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

by Rebecca Guterman – In Culpeper County, Virginia, some parcels of land have soil that make installing a septic system untenable. Unfortunately for the Islamic Center of Culpeper, they bought just such a parcel of land to build their mosque on. The solution, however, was straightforward. All they had to do was request a routine “pump and haul” permit from the county to remove sewage from the site. In April 2016, the county denied the Islamic Center’s permit request, and that denial doesn’t pass the smell test. Since 1992, Culpeper County has received 26 commercial or religious use applications for this permit, including nine from churches. It has approved all but one — that’s right, a request from the Islamic Center of Culpeper. The county’s denial of the routine permit request came after local residents inundated officials with opposition calls and emails that disparaged Muslims and made references to terrorism...

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‘Shocking’ Scale of Catholic Church Sex Crimes Revealed

More than 1,250 Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse in Australia with few allegations pursued in cover-up drive. About seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2010, but few allegations were investigated, an inquiry in Sydney has heard. The scathing figures, released as hearings began on Monday over the allegations dating back decades, were compiled with the cooperation of the church as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The commission, Australia’s highest level of inquiry, reported 4,444 alleged incidents of sexual abuse by Catholic priests between 1980 and 2015. The inquiry also heard that 1,265 priests and religious brothers and nuns had been accused during a 60-year period ending 2010. “These numbers are shocking. They are tragic and they are indefensible,” Franklin Sullivan, head of the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the commission in Sydney....

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Trump Leads the Religious Right to the Promised Land

by ADELE STAN – Evangelicals’ alignment with Trump shows their affinity for power over morality. It’s been a heady two weeks for right-wing Christian evangelicals. Never before has a president of the United States — not Reagan or either of the Bushes — delivered so much of their agenda in such short order as Donald Trump has just done. He capped off his string of early valentines to the religious right with the announcement of a Supreme Court nominee who is poised to revoke the rights of women, further tear down the “wall” between church and state and open wider the doors for big monied interests to buy the political system they want. The right-wing press was breathless in its praise for 49-year-old Judge Neil Gorsuch, named by Trump on Tuesday night to ascend to the high court with the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia, who was a ferocious...

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Jews Give Local Muslims Keys to their Synagogue After Town Mosque Burns Down

by wagatwe – This is what solidarity looks like. While some Texans are going out of their way to target and scare Muslims, there are others who serve as a reminder that, yes, there are people in America who do have a soul. Over the weekend, the only mosque in Victoria, Texas burned down. The cause of the fire is unknown but until the new place of worship is built, the Muslims of Victoria had no physical home base. Fortunately the local Jewish community swiftly stepped in and made an incredible gesture: they gave the Muslim leadership keys to the synagogue. Thanks to this offer, their Muslim neighbors will have space nearby to congregate while their mosque is reconstructed. For the Jewish leadership the decision was a no-brainer. The president of the synagogue Robert Loeb explained: “Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. This is sad for everyone in the community and as Jews we...

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Key Facts about Refugees to the U.S.

by JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD AND JYNNAH RADFORD – An executive order signed Jan. 27 by President Donald Trump suspends refugee admissions for 120 days while security procedures are reviewed, though the resettlement of persecuted religious minorities may continue during this time on a case-by-case basis. Under the plan, the maximum number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in fiscal 2017 will likely decline from 110,000 to 50,000. Separately, admission of Syrian refugees will be suspended pending a revision of security screening measures. About 3 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program and the current national standard for the screening and admission of refugees into the country. This is not the first time U.S. refugee admissions have been stopped. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. largely suspended refugee resettlement for three months while security measures...

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Trump Creates ‘Constitutional Crisis’ as Travel Ban Enforced in Defiance of Court Orders

by Nika Knight – ‘We have a constitutional crisis today’ Chaos reigns in the wake of President Donald Trump’s sweeping executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world. No fewer than five courts have issued emergency stays limiting the order’s power since Saturday. The most far-reaching court decision, issued Sunday morning by Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein in Massachusetts, goes so far as to call for a total halt to detentions of anyone targeted by the travel ban. Yet agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on Sunday defied the judiciary and continued to enforce Trump’s travel ban, despite immigration lawyers and even members of Congress pleading with them to enforce the federal courts’ decision. “Rogue Customs and Border Patrol agents continue to try to get people on to planes,” International Refugee Assistance Project director...

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World Leaders Condemn Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ (VIDEO)

Politicians, rights groups and activists criticise Trump’s crackdown on refugees from Muslim-majority countries. European leaders, the United Nations and international groups have condemned US President Donald Trump’s measures against refugees and travellers from several Muslim-majority countries. The chorus of criticism came as passport holders from Arab countries were blocked on Saturday from passing through customs at US airports and others were prevented from boarding US-bound planes. Is Donald Trump’s agenda symbolic? Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will curb immigration and the entry of refugees from some Muslim-majority countries. He separately said he wanted the US to give priority to Syrian Christians fleeing the civil war there. The bans, though temporary, took effect immediately, causing havoc and confusion for would-be travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The United Nations refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration called on the Trump...

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Anti-Choice Republicans Likely to Ignore Key Reason for Abortion Rate Decline

by Deirdre Fulton – Experts credit improved contraceptive use with historic decline in abortion rate—so why do Republicans want to gut access to birth control? Improved contraceptive use was a major factor in the just-revealed U.S. abortion rate decline, but Republican attempts to gut critical healthcare programs could reverse those gains, experts warned Tuesday. The Guttmacher Institute, which works to advance reproductive health and rights through research and policy initiatives, announced Tuesday that in 2014, the U.S. abortion rate reached the lowest level ever recorded. In addition, the number of abortions in the U.S. dropped under one million for the first time since 1975. In an analysis published alongside the report, Guttmacher’s Joerg Dreweke argues that while anti-choice organizations are sure to claim that increased abortion restrictions led to the decline, improved birth control use and access “likely played a larger role.” “Several data points support this hypothesis,” he wrote: Births...

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Oklahoma Considers Extreme Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill

by Zack Ford – The conservative state fell behind on anti-LGBT legislation in 2016 and is trying to catch up. In 2016, Oklahoma set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills introduced in one session, worsting Texas from the year before. Fortunately, legislative deadlines kept them from advancing, but now one lawmaker is back with what appears to be one of the most extreme “religious liberty” proposals any state has considered. Behind the measure is Sen. Joseph Silk (R), who has an extensive record of particularly anti-LGBT legislation and statements. He calls his new bill, SB 197, the “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act,” but it explicitly enables discrimination against LGBT people — and possibly just about anyone else! SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.” Additionally, such denials will be immune to any...

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Jewish Centers in at Least Six States all Receive Bomb Threats on the Same Day

by Jack Jenkins – “It seems to be an unfortunate trend.” Jewish centers in at least six states all received bomb threats on Monday, adding to a growing wave of anti-Semitism across the country. As first reported by Haaretz, several Jewish centers were forced to evacuate after anonymous callers phoned in with bomb threats. Although no one was harmed, the threats occurred in New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, and possibly others, according to local news sources and ThinkProgress reporting. Paul Goldenberg, who helps coordinates security for the Jewish Community Centers across the country, said a total of 16 centers received threats. “We have a preschool with almost 200 children, and probably another 30 or 40 staff,” Michael Feinstein, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center in Rockville, Maryland, told ThinkProgress. “Everyone was evacuated calmly and quickly.” Feinstein said the threat was the first the center had ever received,...

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Keith Ellison’s Radical Plan to Save the Democratic Party

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Ellison rejects the choice between supporting the working class and supporting religious and ethnic minorities. With the country still reeling from the outcome of the presidential election, another high-stakes election approaches. The Democratic National Committee — having lost control of the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate, most state legislatures and governorships, and soon, the Supreme Court — is preparing to elect its new leader. As the left argues over what went wrong over the past few years and how to recover, many are calling for fresh blood in the top ranks of a party that has long been controlled by older, white officials from coastal states. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) — the first Muslim ever elected to Congress as well as the first black congressman from Minnesota — is gunning for the job. A leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, one of the few members of Congress to back Bernie Sanders...

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Pope Francis has no Patience for Threats to Abandon the Paris Climate Agreement

by Natasha Geiling – Looking at you, President-elect Donald Trump. On Monday, Pope Francis urged world leaders to remain steadfast in their commitment to fighting climate change, requesting that they continue to implement international environmental agreements as quickly as possible. During a speech addressing a group of international scientists, including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the pope warned against turning away from climate pacts for political reasons — a thinly veiled reference to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to withdraw the United States from the historic U.N. Paris climate agreement. “The ‘distraction’ or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment shows that politics has become submissive to a technology and economy which seek profit above all else,” Francis said, according to a Reuters report. Since assuming the role of pope, Francis has been a staunch proponent of environmental action. In the summer of 2015, he released an encyclical — one of the highest forms...

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Memo to Curt Schilling: Here’s why Jewish Americans Overwhelmingly Vote for Democrats

by Jon Perr – The short answer: Jews vote Democratic because people like Curt Schilling are Republicans. Former Boston Red Sox pitching great Curt Schilling announced this week that he might run against Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018.  Schilling, previously best known as a bankrupt businessman and collector of Nazi memorabilia who was fired by ESPN despite famously bleeding from wherever in the 2004 American League playoffs, took to the cable news shows to ask why Jews vote for Democrats.  As he phrased the question to Jake Tapper of CNN: “I would like to ask you something as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith and have since you were young, I don’t understand, maybe this is the amateur, non-politician in me, I don’t understand how people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party, which over the last 50 years have been so clearly anti Israel, so...

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Mormons are Embarrassing the Rest of the Religious Right by Abandoning Trump

by Jack Jenkins – The spiritual shame is real. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign tumbled into a tailspin this past weekend after the Washington Post released a video in which he gloated about sexually assaulting women. Within hours, former supporters of the businessman began to distance themselves from his candidacy, resulting in an avalanche of un-endorsements that ultimately left one-third of all Republican senators unwilling to back him. As several commentators and reporters were quick to note, however, many evangelical Christian members of the Religious Right — who have long claimed to be the arbiters of “family values” — refused to abandon the Donald. Some condemned his comments, but leaders such as Ralph Reed (head of Trump’s advisory board and the Faith and Freedom Coalition) and Jerry Falwell, Jr (president of the evangelical Christian college Liberty University) argued that right-wing faithful still had an obligation to vote for Trump, if for no other reason than...

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Major Evangelical College Group will Allegedly Fire People for Supporting Marriage Equality

by Jack Jenkins – It’s not the first time they have done something like this. A major evangelical college campus organization is allegedly instituting a policy that would result in firing employees who support same-sex marriage. According to a report published on Time.com Thursday evening, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA—a campus organization that runs evangelical Christian student groups at 667 colleges across the country—is prepping a series of “involuntary terminations” for staff members who disagree with a new slate of internal policies on sexuality. The policies, which are outlined in a 20-page theological document, condemn any sexual activity that occurs outside of a marriage between a man and a woman—including premarital sex and a same-sex marriage. The report also detailed the account of at least one staffer who says she was fired because she saw the policy as discriminatory—in part because her child is transgender. “We internally categorize these as involuntary terminations due...

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Oklahoma Governor Declares Oct 13 a Day of Prayer for the Oil Industry (no, this is not a joke)

by Jen Hayden – Let me be perfectly clear: what you are about to read is not satire. It’s entirely real and it’s all happening in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Trump lovin’ Governor Mary Fallin is has proclaimed October 13 as Oilfield Prayer Day: “We’re asking churches all over Oklahoma to open their doors, put on a pot of coffee and pray for the oil field, and not only for the oil field but the state, because the economy of our state is so connected to the oil field.” Jeff Hubbard, with Oilfield Christian Fellowship- Oklahoma City, agreed.  “We have a saying: The oil field trickles down to everyone,” he said The “oil field trickles down to everyone.” Well, Oklahoma’s wealthiest person is Harold Hamm, an oil billionaire with a nearly $15 billion fortune, most of it from shale oil fracking. Yes, the same oil extraction method responsible for at least 90% of the earthquakes in Oklahoma. Maybe Oklahoma could raise his...

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Religious Freedom Follies: Invoking Faith to Discriminate in Health Care

by Daniel Mach – On September 16, ACLU filed a motion to intervene in Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell on behalf of the ACLU of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance. In this three-part blog series, we examine why this case matters from a transgender rights, reproductive rights, and religious freedom perspective. Yet again, opponents of critical civil rights measures are trying to turn back the clock and undo important equality gains under the guise of religious liberty. This time, the main targets are transgender people seeking health care and women seeking reproductive health care. But while the details may change, the underlying principle doesn’t: Religious freedom is an essential right, but it shouldn’t be a license to discriminate. The latest civil rights assault comes in a new lawsuit filed in Texas by five states and several religiously affiliated health care organizations,Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell.  The groups are challenging a federal regulation implementing Section 1557 of the...

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Surprise, Surprise: Trump Lied About What Happened When He Visited A Black Church In Flint

by Shannon Barber – Donald Trump visited Flint, Michigan on Wednesday. Of course, that city is the place where is a crisis regarding having unusable water due to dangerously high lead levels and pipes that need to be replaced. While there, Trump toured a water plant and visited a Black church, where he pretended to care about the community, which is mostly poor and black, and suffering badly due to the water crisis. This was a bad idea in the first place, as the Mayor of Flint, Michigan, Democrat Karen Weaver, had already told Trump and his campaign that her city’s very real issues were not to be used as some kind showboating photo-op. However, as per usual, Trump did what he wanted anyway, and when it didn’t go well, he did what he usually does in such instances: LIED. Thursday morning, Trump went on Fox and Friends and criticized...

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Alabama Pastor Says People Who Don’t Stand For National Anthem Should Be Executed

by Stephen D Foster Jr – And his church supported him. An Alabama “Christian” pastor told a crowd at a McKenzie High School football game that if they don’t stand for the national anthem they should be lined up and executed by our military. Pastor Allen Joyner of the Sweet Home Baptist Church made the announcement prior to the match, therefore abusing his position as the school’s game announcer. “If you don’t want to stand for the national anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots at you since they’re taking shots for you,” Joyner declared on Friday as the crowd cheered. Denise Crowley-Whitfield, who attended the game and heard Joyner’s remarks, posted about them on Facebook but quickly deleted the post. Here’s a screenshot of the post via AL.com. Joyner’s church posted on their Facebook page that they support...

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Is Hillary Clinton Right About Trump Supporters? This is What the Polling Data Says

by Judd Legum – She has an opinion. These are the facts. Speaking at a fundraiser in New York on Friday night, Hillary Clinton described half of opponent Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” an evocative phrase that Clinton used to describe various forms of intolerance and bigotry. You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites…He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Clinton went on to describe another “basket” of Trump supporters: “people who feel the government has let them down, the economy let them down, nobody cares about them.” She stressed that “hose are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”...

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Charles M. Blow Takes on Trump’s Visit to the Black Church

by teacherken – and it is simply delicious. His column today is titled Donald Trump Does Detroit and for those of us of a certain age it seems to be a deliberate reference to a porn film of another time, “Debbie Does Dallas”  (and no I am not going to link anything, but you can surely Google it to see what I mean). Blow reminds us that before Detroit, Trump went to North Philadelphia and tried to argue that he was not a bigot and blamed the media for that image, to which Blow responds No sir, stop right there. We are not going to allow any deflection or redefining of words here. You are a bigot. That is not a media narrative or a fairy tale. That is an absolute truth. No one manufactured your bigotry; you manifested it. Then follows several paragraphs detailing the evidence of Trump’s repeated bigotry,...

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UN Human Rights Chief Urges Action Against Western ‘Demagogues’

by Nadia Prupis – Comparing the likes of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, and Geert Wilders to ISIS, UN’s Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein implores: “Speak out and up…Draw the line!” United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein condemned Western “demagogues” like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, and Geert Wilders and urged people to “draw the line” against their far-right rhetoric before it leads to “colossal violence.” Zeid spoke at the Hague in the Netherlands on Monday, about a week after Wilders, founder of the increasingly popular Dutch right-wing Party for Freedom, released an 11-point plan to ban the Koran, close Muslim schools and mosques, and shutter asylum centers around the country. And while polls show Wilders is poised to do well in the Netherlands’ elections in March, Zeid said, his incendiary tactics are similar to those used by the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh). “All seek in varying degrees to recover a...

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Detroit Reverend Blasts Trump’s ‘Scam’ He Just Tried To Pull On Voters (VIDEO)

by Joe Fletcher – Donald Trump’s visit to a historically black church in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday is being met with fierce condemnation from black leaders. Reverend Wendell Anthony is one of those leaders who is calling out Trump. On Saturday, Anthony, who is the head of the Detroit NAACP chapter, appeared on CNN where he derided the entire visit as a “scam.” “This is nothing more than a ruse. This is a scam,” Anthony said during the segment. “Mr. Trump is seventy years old, I believe. That election now is less than seventy days from now. It’s gonna take a whole lot of conjecture and whole lot of programming to undo what has been done.”  Anthony is correct. Trump has polling numbers so low with voters of color that it seems almost absurd at this point to try and win them over so close to the election. Considering Trump’s...

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Trump’s Favorite Pastor Admits He Made Up Large Swaths Of His Resume (VIDEO)

by Aviva Shen – After giving a radically partisan benediction at the Republican National Convention in July, Pastor Mark Burns has hit the campaign trail hard for presidential candidate Donald Trump. Now that he’s in the spotlight, however, he’s being confronted with several claims on his website that appear to be false. Burns, a prominent leader of the increasingly popular “prosperity gospel” movement, says on his website that he received a Bachelor of Science degree from North Greenville University and served six years in the Army Reserve. He also says he was a member of a prestigious African-American fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. But North Greenville University told CNN Burns only attended for one semester, and the fraternity says it has no record of Burns. He also never served in the Army Reserve, but he spent some time in the South Carolina National Guard. Marc Lamont Hill  ✔@marclamonthill The national registry, the...

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The Catholic Vote as a Key and Underreported Story Hurting Trump

by teacherken – Aaron Blake’s story Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem went live at the web site of The Washington Post.  This is a data laden story that is very important. Yes, to be sure, part of it is the antipathy of Latinos to Trump, but it is so much more. The story notes that in 2012 Obama only beat Romney 50-48 among Catholics, and that Republicans have won the Catholic vote in 5 of the past 10 presidential elections. This cycle?  Consider some data: Public Religion Research Institute Poll has Clinton up among Catholics 55-32, a 23 point margin The last Washington Post — ABC poll was even worse, with Clinton up 61-34, a 27 point margin. And in that WaPost-ABC poll, the 25 point swing from Romney to against Trump is the largest swing among any demographic, with the next highest being 21 points among voters over...

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Juno Space Probe Makes Closest Approach to Jupiter

NASA says space probe orbiting the “king of our solar system” has flown closer to the planet than any other spacecraft After leaving Earth more than five years ago, the space probe orbiting Jupiter has flown closer to the planet than any other spacecraft before, according to the US space agency. The space probe, named Juno, “soared close to the cloud tops of Jupiter this morning,” NASA announced on Saturday on its official Twitter page, adding that scientists were awaiting results from the unmanned spacecraft. Juno mission: NASA probe successfully enters Jupiter’s orbit In a statement released on Thursday, the agency had said Juno would be about 4,200km above Jupiter’s clouds and traveling at 208,000 kilometers per hour with respect to the planet. “This is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our solar system and begin to figure out how he works,” Scott Bolton, head of...

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Anti-Gay Pastor Who Cheered Killing Of Pulse Victims Just Got Arrested For Child Molestation

by Stephen D Foster Jr – This hypocrite just got his ass handed to him by karma. Ken Adkins is an anti-gay “Christian” pastor in Georgia who cheered when a gunman killed nearly 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando,Florida this past June. The nation was horrified by the mass shooting, but many so called conservative “Christians” were very pleased. Adkins himself wrote on Twitter that the victims deserved to be killed. “I don’t see none of them as victims,” he wrote. “I see them as getting what they deserve!!” His tweet received wide condemnation but that didn’t bother the 56-year-old “man of God.” He simply continued preaching hate to his congregations. But now karma is biting Adkins in the ass for doing something that conservative “Christians” often falsely accuse gay people of doing. On Friday, Adkins turned himself in to police after he was accused of molesting a child...

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13-Year-Old Physicist Has A Mindblowing Theory On God [Must Watch]

by Amanda Froelich – This young man’s theories on the universe are sure to inspire deep contemplation… Remember the name Max Loughan, for you’ll likely hear it again and again in the years to come. The 13-year-old physicist is known for his eloquent theories on God, the universe, and the bible, and his lessons  are sure to inspire some deep contemplation on life’s big questions. Not only did Loughan invent a free Tesla-inspired energy device using a coffee tin, spoon and wire (all of which cost him $15), he has developed some intriguing ideas on the universe. In the video below, he shares his latest theory on God, and it’s sure to touch your heart.  Loughan says, “As cheesy as this sounds, from day one on this planet, I knew I was put here for a reason. And that reason is to invent and to bring the future. My true...

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The Religious Extremists At Trump’s Republican Convention

by JOSH ISRAEL – Anti-immigration activists, “prosperity gospel” preachers, anti-LGBT politicians, and the NRA’s top lobbyist will headline Donald Trump’s 2016 Republican National Convention. The Republican National Committee released a partial list of the people who will speak at next week’s event and it is a virtual who’s who of extremist voices from within the party. Additional names reported by the New York Times include anti-abortion activist Tim Tebow, who briefly was an NFL quarterback. Here are some of the people who will highlight the Cleveland convention, where Trump is widely expected to receive the GOP nomination for president: Pam Bondi Florida’s Republican attorney general, Bondi’s relationship with Trump has drawn criticism from ethics watchdogs and state newspapers. Four days after she announced she might join an investigation into Trump University, one of Trump’s family foundations gave $25,000 to a group supporting Trump’s re-election. Soon after, she announced she would not...

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Congressman Cummings Destroys Arguments For License-To-Discriminate Bill In Three Minutes Flat

by CELISA CALACAL & EVAN POPP – Exactly one month after the deadliest gun massacre in recent U.S. history at a gay bar in Orlando, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Tuesday on a bill that would give a license to discriminate against gay individuals under the guise of freedom of religion. The bill, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) last year, and would provide special legal protections to individuals who oppose same-sex marriage and those who oppose extramarital sex. Under the bill, the government cannot deny tax subsidies, grants, or benefits to individuals or religious organizations who harbor anti-LGBT views. While the bill’s authors and supporters on the panel attempted to frame the bill as a logical extension of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause and claimed it was “not a...

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Trump’s ‘Spiritual Advisor’ Is Just Another Con Artist And She Stole Her Con From Harry Potter

by Wendy Gittleson – It seems that every time we turn around, there’s a new layer to the con that is Donald Trump. While we’re in the thick of the presidential election, Trump is being accused of conning people with his Trump University. He’s conning people with email fundraising scams. He’s even conning people with his fake knowledge of the Constitution and his fake Christianity. If you’re still not sure about that last one (after all, he is the favorite for Evangelicals), it’s been uncovered that his “spiritual advisor” is herself a con artist who scams people out of $1,144 each in a Harry Potter inspired scam. Trump credits Pastor Paula White with his conversion to Christianity. The two have a lot in common. White is an attractive blonde (likely just his type) and at 50, she, like Trump, has been married three times. She’s known Trump for a long time...

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Churches File Nonsense Suit Challenging Iowa’s LGBT Protections

by ZACK FORD – Iowa’s law protecting LGBT people from discrimination should be overturned, two churches are arguing, because they want to be able to discriminate against transgender people who might come to their services. The Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, represented by the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission seeking to completely knockdown the LGBT-inclusive Iowa Civil Rights Act. Cornerstone World Outreach, an historically litigious church based in Sioux City, similarly sent a demand letter to the Commission Tuesday afternoon with representation from another anti-LGBT legal organization, the First Liberty Institute. The ADF suit argues that Fort Des Moines holds religious beliefs that do not recognize the gender identities of transgender people. In response to recent advances in transgender equality, including the federal government’s suit challenging North Carolina’s HB2 and Target reminding customers of its inclusive restroom policy,...

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The Religious Right Are Without Principle

by Brianm1968ca – After living my first 23 years as a Christian, either by proxy or by proclamation, I left the church. I  had spent my childhood and youth going to church (on average) about 3 times a week.  Once I left home to support myself and get married, I decided that religion was not for me. But this isn’t about me. I am stating this only for context. Although I am not a Christian, I still live my life by a set of rules: Don’t kill others Don’t do things to hurt other people Treat other people as you would want them to treat you Help others who are in need when you can These rules are pretty standard for most peace-loving people.  You don’t need a PhD in Theology to learn and adopt these rules, or even Jesus in your heart.  You may have learned these on Sesame Street. With 23...

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God, Gays, Guns And Orlando

by Terrance Heath – The tragedy in Orlando reveals that the three issues that once made up the Republican’s “winning formula” may have finally ripened into political poison for the GOP. In 1994, James Inhofe told Oklahoma voters that the senate race could be summed up in “the three Gs — God, Gays, and Guns.” Inhofe, whose victory propelled him into the senate the same year that Republicans took both houses of Congress, wasn’t just summarizing the Oklahoma senate race. He identified the major support beams of the GOPs “culture war” platform that had a significant impact on politics throughout the 1990s, and delivered significant victories for Republicans well into the 2000s. It was defined by an insistence that government endorse and enforce conservative Christian morality, codify anti-gay discrimination and prohibit LGBT equality, and allow almost unrestricted access to guns. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, hate crime, and...

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Passing a New Rubicon on Gun Violence and Terrorism

by Frank Vyan Walton – This has been quite a week.  Truly.  It feels almost as if the country is in the midst of an upheaval, one almost as great as the change and trauma we endured following the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.  As great, if not greater, than what we survived following the bombing of the Boston marathon. We do live in interesting times. I do not believe I can fully summarize all that has occurred in the last 7-8 days completely. I do not believe I can fully expressed all the emotions this weeks has generated, but I do feel a need to at least try to talk about some of the highlights, and the lowlights, and attempt to make some sense of it all and offer, humbly, a bit of commentary and suggestions. The first thing I want to point out is...

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‘Climate of Xenophobia’ Gripping Europe, UN Official Warns

by Andrea Germanos – UN refugee chief warns of ‘worrying’ atmosphere as Brexit referendum puts immigration attitudes in spotlight As more details indicate the killing of British lawmaker Jo Cox was politically motivated, the United Nations Refugee Agency head is warning of a “climate of xenophobia” gripping Europe. Speaking to Agence France-Presse in Tehran on Saturday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said, “Refugees… don’t bring danger” but “flee from dangerous places.” He put responsibility on the shoulders of national leaders, saying that those who don’t talk about the benefits of immigration but instead “stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today’s Europe.” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also touched on the issue on Saturday,urging the region to reject “barriers and bigotry” as a response to the influx of refugees and instead take “a humane...

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Another Round of Fear: Refugees in America

by Paul J. Ramsey – In the wake of the massacre in Orlando on June 12, 2016, the likely Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, again stated that the United States should ban Muslims from entering the country, according to the New York Times.Although the shooter was an American citizen, Trump reiterated (and praised) his recommended prohibition from December 2015, a prohibition that was then primarily directed at the 10,000 Syrian refugees the Obama administration pledged to resettle in the U.S. Of course, these calls for banning Muslims pander to Americans’ fear of refugees, a fear that is largely without historical justification. Last year, after the terrorist attacks in Paris and the ensuing concern that Middle Eastern immigrants could pose a threat to the security of the United States, a number of articles and opinion pieces, including Jamelle Bouie’s essay in Slate (November 17, 2015), pointed out that this is not the...

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Tony Perkins: Christians Are Living In ‘Spiritual Ghettos’ Under Left-Wing Rule (VIDEO)

by Shannon Barber – The Family Research Council’s hater-in-chief Tony Perkins is joining his fellow deranged right-wing Christians in insisting that left-wingers are slowly but surely about to outlaw Christianity. He appeared on D. James Kennedy Ministries’ Truths That Transform show with the Ministry’s president, Frank Wright, and ranted on about how the inability of Christians to force their crazy beliefs on the rest of us somehow means they are being persecuted. Perkins told Wright: “We are not disqualified from engaging in the public square simple because we’re Christian. And that’s where we’re at today, where people want us to check our Christian faith at the door of even public service; not just holding public office, but if you’re a fireman, a policeman, a teacher, a football coach, you’re supposed to leave your faith at home or within the confines of the church. totally contrary to what the founders...

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10 Facts About Atheists

by MICHAEL LIPKA – Estimating the number of atheists in the U.S. is complicated. Some adults who describe themselves as atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. At the same time, some people who identify with a religion (e.g., say they are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish) also say they do not believe in God. But one thing is for sure: Along with the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans (many of whom believe in God), there has been a corresponding increase in the number of atheists. As nonbelievers and others gather in Washington, D.C., for the “Reason Rally,” here are key facts about atheists and their beliefs: 1 The share of Americans who identify as atheists has roughly doubled in the past several years. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 3.1% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in...

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Iowa Governor Steps Into A Tangled Web Of Church And State With Proclamation Encouraging Bible Study

by Laurel Raymond – Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation in April encouraging “all Iowans” to participate in a statewide Bible-reading marathon, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa argues the declaration is unconstitutional. The ACLU and two other groups, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers, claim the governor’s proclamation promotes one religion over others and over nonreligion. “The governor’s proclamation is frankly outrageous and embarrassing, and inconsistent with our core American and Iowan principles of inclusion and respect of all its people of all faiths, as well as those who are not religious,” Legal Director of the ACLU of Iowa Rita Bettis told ThinkProgress over email. “Our U.S. and Iowa state constitutions protect from precisely this sort of government overreaching and endorsement of a particular faith.” Branstad’s proclamation is in support of a Bible-reading marathon organized by several Christian-based groups,...

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John Hagee: Vote For Trump Or Face The Wrath Of God (VIDEO)

by Shannon Barber – It’s funny how extreme right-wing Christians always think they know what their God is thinking about politics, especially since most of the candidates who say that God told them to run for president never even get the nomination, much less become president. Well, another such right-wing Christian has added his voice to this narrative: Pastor John Hagee. On the Tuesday edition of his show Hagee Hotline, the fiery preacher issued a dire warning: Vote for Donald Trump in November, or God will come for you. Hagee warned that “God will not hold us harmless,” and that voting is an imperative duty. He continued to rant: “I’m going to vote for the candidate that’s going to make the U.S. military great again. I’m going to vote for the party that is going to solve the immigration problem, not the one that has created the immigration problem. I’m going...

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Right-Wing Pastor Calls Upon Christians To Die Fighting Transgender Equality

by Stephen D Foster Jr – In response to the Department of Justice’s guidelines preventing school officials from demanding that students prove their gender identity to use a restroom, Franklin Graham took to Facebook to whine and call upon Christians to die fighting transgender protections and President Obama. Graham, also known as Billy Graham’s demon spawn, posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page on Sunday night asking conservative Christians to “take a bullet” for their beliefs instead of following the law. “What would you take a bullet for?” Graham asked. “What are the principles and beliefs that you would not compromise under any circumstances? Even if it meant putting your life on the line?” And of course, that led into a Bible story featuring Christians martyring themselves. King Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over Babylon issued a decree that everyone worship the golden image he had made. Three men who knew the...

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Franklin Graham’s Daughter: 9/11 Happened Because God Is Mad At Trans People (AUDIO)

by Shannon Barber – Religious bigots continue their hateful rhetoric against transgender people at alarming rates, and now Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of hateful evangelical pastor Franklin Graham and sister to the equally hateful Billy Graham, has jumped into the fray as well. Her statements are especially outrageous; in fact, she has said that the reason the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil happened is because God is  upset that transgender people exist. Lotz appeared on a right-wing hate radio show run by Steve Deace to express her horrible opinions. She said to Deace: “What I see in the nation of America right now, just the chaos on every level. There is silliness, there is craziness, there’s the most illogical rulings. The one in North Carolina on HB2, which is to protect our children in bathrooms and locker rooms, has become something where the justice department is suing us...

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Sadiq Khan and the End of Islamophobia

by JOHN FEFFER – The victory of Sadiq Khan has “normalized” Muslims in UK politics in much the same way that JFK normalized Catholics in American politics. But American Muslims are still waiting for their JFK moment Even his own sister was mortified. In the recent mayoral race in London, the Conservative Party’s Zac Goldsmith was in many ways the perfect candidate: a young, handsome fellow who possessed full-spectrum appeal. To win the election, Goldsmith could have focused on all the work he’d done on the environment, as a journalist and former editor of the magazine The Ecologist. To further woo liberals, he could have highlighted his considerable international experience and his support of the rights of indigenous peoples. Conversely, he could have cemented his popularity among conservative populists by emphasizing his skeptical attitude toward the European Union. If he’d played it safe, Goldsmith could have translated an early lead in...

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Jehovah’s Witnesses Create Cartoon To Indoctrinate Kids Into Hating Gay People (VIDEO)

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Apparently tired of people slamming doors in their faces, Jehovah’s Witnesses have found a new way to indoctrinate children. Rather than accept that most parents do not want their children to be brainwashed into hating people, the religious sect is creating cartoons meant to teach them to be anti-gay “Christians” who can act as advocates for their cause. The cartoon begins with a child at school looking at the drawings her classmates made of their families. Gazing at one image of a child holding hands with her two moms, the child goes home and presents her mother with a picture she drew of her family, which features what conservatives call a “traditional” family featuring a mother and father. She mentions that one of her classmates drew two mommies, who are married to each other, and that her teacher says that it doesn’t matter as long as...

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Liberty University Just Lost A Board Member Over Its President’s Endorsement Of Trump

by JACK JENKINS – A member of Liberty University’s board of trustees has resigned, saying he cannot support the evangelical school’s decision to endorse businessman Donald Trump for president. According to the Religion News Service, public affairs executive Mark DeMoss said this week that he disagreed with Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support for presumptive GOP nominee Trump, who spoke at the influential conservative university in January. DeMoss expressed his displeasure with the endorsement earlier this year, telling the Washington Post that Trump’s insult-laden campaign is not “Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.” The comments resulted in board members asking DeMoss to step down from their executive committee, a move he said contributed to his decision to abandon his post. “While the decision to leave the committee I chaired was not mine, the decision to step down from the board was mine,” he said....

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Conservative ‘Christian’ Says Wives Should Submit To Husbands Even If Treated Like Shit

by Stephen D Foster Jr – If you’re a woman you’re going to want to deck this asshole for what he just said. During an interview with the Christian Post this week, evangelist nut job Kirk Cameron said that no matter how wives are treated by their husbands they should be submissive and stay in the marriage because God commands it. “Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband,” Cameron said before claiming that women should know their role so that the marriage can succeed. “When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.” In other words, even if she is being beaten daily by her husband and treated like a slave, a wife should always remain submissive and basically...

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Major Faith Leaders Declare Trump ‘Racist, Bigoted, and Hateful’

by JACK JENKINS – A group of high-profile Christian leaders has published a lengthy statement passionately condemning Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, calling his campaign message “contrary to our Christian values” and condemning his bombastic rhetoric as “racist, bigoted, and hateful.” The statement, which is housed on the website called toresist.org, dedicates more than 2,000 words to decrying Trump’s candidacy. Among other things, it heavily criticizes his proclivity for language and polices that demean immigrants, Muslims, women, people of color, and the disabled. “The ascendancy of a demagogic candidate and his message, with the angry constituency he is fueling, is a threat to both the values of our faith and the health of our democracy,” the statement reads in part. “Donald Trump directly promotes racial and religious bigotry, disrespects the dignity of women, harms civil public discourse, offends moral decency, and seeks to manipulate religion. This is no longer politics...

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Colorado Supreme Court Rejects Anti-Gay Baker’s Claim Of Religious Freedom

by ZACK FORD – The Colorado Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not hear an appeal brought by a man who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple — upholding lower court rulings that concluded this decision was in violation of the state’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop has argued that declining to sell a cake to David Mullins and Charlie Craig (as well as other same-sex couples) was an expression of his religious freedom to refuse to contribute his “artistic expression” to a same-sex wedding, noting that his shop otherwise serves gay people. So far, the courts haven’t found this argument compelling. Phillips lost his case at a lower court in 2013 and then again at the Colorado Court of Appeals last August. As the Court of Appeals ruled, refusing to serve a same-sex wedding cannot be distinguished from discrimination on the...

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250 Faith Leaders Demand Nations Ratify Paris Climate Deal

by JEREMY DEATON & JACK JENKINS – Former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres has credited faith groups for helping to advance the Paris Climate Agreement by supporting “holistic, equitable, but above all, ambitious climate action.” Now, faith leaders are going one step further, calling for immediate ratification of the landmark international accord to curb global climate change. In December, 196 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit warming to well below 2º C (3.6º F) above pre-industrial levels. While nations have agreed to the language of the accord, 55 parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change representing at least 55 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions must still ratify the agreement for it to enter into force. Monday’s Interfaith Statement on Climate Change urges “all Heads of State to promptly sign and ratify the Paris Agreement.” More than 80 groups and 3,600 individuals of Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian,...

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TV Host Rips Anti-Gay Christian Leader To Shreds For Using Religion To Excuse Bigotry (VIDEO)

by Stephen D Foster Jr – If you want to watch an anti-gay conservative “Christian” squirm as he is torn to pieces by a TV host, this will make your day. In North Carolina and Mississippi, Republicans have passed anti-LGBT laws under the guise of religious liberty allowing business owners to discriminate against customers and employees. Other red states such as South Carolina and Tennessee are also trying to push similar bills into law, some of which allow discrimination against not just gay people, but also interracial couples and people who have pre-marital sex as long as the bigot claims that they have a sincere religious belief. Basically these so-called “religious liberty” laws are similar to the kind that were used during the 1960s when white business owners refused service to black people. Now states in the South are trying to legalize discrimination again by dubiously tying it to religious freedom....

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‘Christian’ Author Rants That Women Who Masturbate Are Going To Hell

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Christian fundamentalists just can’t keep their mouths shut, and they wonder why people are turning away from organized religion. A supposed “Christian” author took to Facebook on Saturday to condemn women who use sex toys and masturbate to Hell, claiming that both are a “direct path to Satan” and declared that any Christian who disagrees should be ashamed. “Too many Christian women are losing their salvation because they masturbate.” author Mack Major wrote. “Dildos and all of those other sex toys have been used for thousands of years in demonic sex rituals. It’s one of the main ways ancient pagan societies worshiped their demonic gods.  Masturbation is a direct path to Satan. There’s nothing normal about it. And shame on any Christian that says so.” Hypocritically enough, Major seems to only take issue with women achieving sexual pleasure by themselves while avoiding the topic of...

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Mississippi’s New LGBT Law Is About Protecting Only Certain Religious Beliefs

by Scott Shackford – This is not a religious freedom act Republican Mississippi  Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a new bill into law in his state that lets religious people and institutions discriminate in some areas on the basis of attitudes toward homosexuality and transgender identities. It can be complicated to evaluate what these laws do. What Mississippi has approved is very different from what Georgia’s legislature approved (and was then vetoed by the governor) and what North Carolina approved. I’ll get basic about it. To start, this is not a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). Those acts (which was mostly what Georgia passed) mimic a federal law that allows individuals to use their religious beliefs as a defense against complying with certain laws. It’s not a perfect defense—the government must then respond by showing that the law meets a compelling government interest and that the law is the least intrusive...

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This Man Riddled A Mosque With Bullet Holes. Now They’re Forgiving Him

by JACK JENKINS – Just hours after a series of deadly terrorist attacks struck Paris, France, on November 13, 2015, Ted A. Hakey Jr. slipped deeper and deeper into a drunken rage. Convinced that Muslims were inherently dangerous and overcome with anger, the inebriated Hakey — a retired Marine and resident of Meridian, Connecticut — snapped. At around 2:00 a.m., he grabbed one of his high-powered rifles, pointed it out the window at a nearby mosque, and squeezed off several shots. Many of the bullets pierced the wall of the Baitul Aman “House of Peace” mosque, leaving holes just feet from where worshippers sat a few hours earlier reading the Quran. The chilling episode was the first in an unprecedented wave of anti-Islam incidents that swept the country in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, with an ever-growing number of Muslim Americans falling victim to harassment, threats, and assaults on...

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Hypocritical Alabama Governor Gets Booted From His Own Church For Affair With Staffer

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley claims to be a “family values conservative Christian,” but because of an affair with a woman who was not his wife he’ll have to find a church that supports hypocrisy. The Republican governor has resisted repeated calls for him to resign his office despite a scandalous audio recording of Bentley admitting to having an affair with Rebekah Mason, a staffer who works for him. “I love you,” Bentley told Mason in the recording. “I love to talk to you. Baby, let me tell you what we’re going to have to start doing, we’re going to have to start locking the door. If we are going to do what we did the other day, we are going to have to start locking the door.” To spell it out for anyone who doesn’t get it, Bentley told Mason they’ll have to lock the...

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Inside The Christian Right’s Strategy To Keep Fake Abortion Clinics Open In California

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – Fake women’s health clinics run by anti-abortion organizations currently outnumber licensed, professional abortion clinics 3 to 1 — and they’re nearly impossible to regulate. Called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs), these clinics advertise free pregnancy tests to get patients in the door, but ultimately lean heavily on junk science and spiritual guilt to talk women out of having an abortion. In January, California became the first state in the country to enact a law successfully cracking down on the state’s nearly 350 misleading clinics. At least in theory. In practice, it’s been very difficult for California’s groundbreaking law to make any real difference. That’s because three conservative anti-abortion organizations have filed sweeping lawsuits against the officials responsible for enforcing the law — and their threats could effectively freeze any enforcement for the unforeseeable future. California’s Reproductive FACT Act requires that CPCs give their patients information on how...

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Science Is a Good Substitute for God

by Ronald Bailey – Religious believers tend to be happier than non-religious folk, according to a long line of psychological research. Scientists have suggested several possible explanations for this phenomenon, including the ideas that religion offers a greater sense of control, provides a purpose for life, and reduces uncertainty. So if religious belief makes people more satisfied with their lives, why is secularism growing in many countries? A new study offers one possible answer: A belief in scientific and technological progress can also serve as a source of life satisfaction. Indeed, it may even offer more lifetime happiness than religion does. The study appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, and the research team that conducted it was led by Olga Stavrova, a psychologist at the University of Cologne. The researchers first did a deep analysis of how the belief in scientific and technological progress affects the life satisfaction of a...

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