Reacting to the "Religious Liberty Task Force"

Apparently the Trump administration is so utterly in the pocket of the Religious Reich that they feel as though they can implement policies which are so blatantly bigoted that they beggar belief.  That to me is how I feel about the Religious Liberty Task Force which was unveiled this past Monday, 30 July, 2018, by Jeff Sessions.  Their intention is apparently to assist in justifying discrimination by Christians, which they see as being motivated by their faith.  Not only does this fly in the face of the First Amendment, but it also threatens to empower and enable a tyranny of the majority, solely on the basis of belief.

Having seen this travesty aborning, the following has gone to the offices of my Congresspeople, both via their websites and though the US Postal Service:

I note with a profound sense of disquiet the Department of Justice’s announcement of a “religious liberty task force,” designed, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to counter a “dangerous movement” to erode Christians’ right to practice their faith as they see fit. As an atheist who has no problem in granting their right to worship, I DO have a problem when their practices transgress onto other people’s rights. Does this give license to those who would cite Leviticus 20:13 to harass gay men and Lesbian women because they’re in violation of some deity’s misguided law? Would it allow a Christian man who takes 1 Timothy 2:11 to heart to disregard a woman because, in the words of Paul, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man?” Would it, in short, allow Christians to discriminate against those whom they feel are in violation of their god’s law, without recourse to those being discriminated against? Mr. Sessions may wish to allege that I am wrong and this “task force” is there to serve all religions. Having seen how this administration genuflects toward fundamentalist Christianity, I am not persuaded.

A saying I heard a long time ago says, “Your right to wave your beliefs about ends at my nose.” Christians may exercise their faith, granted, but when that exercise steps on someone else’s toes, especially when that someone is a minority under duress or a woman who continues to face “glass ceilings” without let, a very serious line has been crossed. Allow me to remind you that the Bible does NOT govern this country, and while we may be a nation of mostly Christians, “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” That, as you may know, is from the Treaty of Tripoli, which is a part of US law and something I take very seriously. Even more basically, whatever happened to: “Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion?”

In short, I see this task force as being an engine of discrimination to be used by those who have enjoyed Christian privilege in this country practically since its inception and wish to more deeply formalize their right to act against those who may live differently from them. I see this not just as unjust, intolerable and unconstitutional, but un-American. I urge you to take action to see to it that the religious liberty task force is stopped before it has a chance to start.


People, we can't let this stand. Contact your Senate and House representatives and let them know that the thumb which Trump & Co. wish to place on the scales of justice in this country is intolerable. Make it clear to them that they have made a mistake and a bad one, and that We Won't Have It.

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Comment by Compelledunbeliever on Thursday

I knew Trump would suck up the the evanglicals, I had no idea he would go as far as he has.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 29, 2018 at 9:39am

When DeVos and Pence are in your administration it becomes perfectly clear who you think your main supporters are. The religious right is being  played by the Kock brothers, Adelson, and Mercers at el in every way possible. They have thought they were persecuted for years, mostly because their bible says they will be persecuted. They are into politics so badly that they wanted Pat Robertson to be president some time ago. It is from this base that American Fascists will get their strength. If fascism takes over the super rich will still be super rich, and they will have things fixed where they all get richer.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 16, 2018 at 5:16pm

I am pleased to announce that I've gotten a response back from Senator Sherrod Brown:

Dear Mr. Miller:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me regarding Attorney General Sessions’ creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In July, Attorney General Sessions announced the creation of a religious liberty task force aimed at protecting religious groups from persecution and furthering the Department’s work to protect and promote religious liberty.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental right. I firmly believe that we must protect the religious liberties of all Americans, and that no one should be discriminated against because of their sincerely held religious beliefs. I also believe that religion should not be used as a justification for discrimination against others, and I am concerned that Attorney General Sessions is doing just that through the creation of this task force. I am concerned this task force is yet another example of the Attorney General attempting to politicize religious belief. Presently, the DOJ Civil Rights Division protects all Americans from religious discrimination. Therefore, I do not feel a special task force is warranted when there are literally hundreds of lawyers already working to protect the religious rights of all Americans.

Although many of the Founding Fathers had strong personal religious beliefs and prayed for our nation to receive spiritual guidance, the laws and government of this great country were created in a secular manner to ensure all Americans were treated equally. Diversity and tolerance are essential qualities to our democracy and these things are protected through the separation of church and state.

Thank you for writing me. If any legislation comes before the Senate regarding this issue, I will keep your thoughts in mind.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator


=================================

It's clear that he's on our page.  The problem is, too many AREN'T.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on August 3, 2018 at 5:11pm

I think a grass roots movement is necessary.  I thought of this a long time ago.  It seems so obvious. Glad i am not the only one. Once the idea is promulgated in a very public way it is not hard to envision massive support.  Not from politicians obviously but from Americans who have to do things the hard way. Once Americans contemplate the hard work and the rationale for licensing through examinations it will cause resentment for the entitled who skate through.  Also knowing how we want pilots to prove they can fly (thousands of similar examples are obvious) so that the public is not put at unnecessary risk the public will realize that politicians are more critical to safety and well being than any given profession.  So we as a nation are nuts if we don't have a constitutional amendment requiring it. The force of custom whether by commission or omission is powerful. But this issue is so ripe and yet unexplored.  It will appeal to all Americans other than politicians. 

The general distrust and disenchantment with politicians is a non-party phenomenon. And the real vehicle for change is through an amelioration in the quality of the candidates. Allow democracy to have a chance.  Even those with good intentions are corrupted because it is the only way to perpetuate oneself.  A new and educated coterie of candidates would be eager to effectuate change that is so overdue and so not going to happen as things stand. 

Comment by Loren Miller on August 3, 2018 at 12:59pm

I have been thinking about the same issue – qualifications for office – ever since Dubya got elected.  As things are, the only two requirements I'm aware of are 1) be a natural-born American citizen and 2) be 35 years of age or older.  I could throw in 3) believe in god, but that's far more de facto than it is de jure, and besides, if Trump genuinely believes in god, I'd eat my hat.

It would be nice to believe that Trump's appearance on the political stage would inspire lawmakers to raise the bar on requirements for office, but that's purely a pipe dream. It also fails to recognize the problem of Trump's base, who like him just the way he is: off the chain and out of control. Indeed, before we can do much of anything about the people in office, we have take action about the people who elect them! Teaching civics, the dynamics of government and economics, never mind other essential topics is MANDATORY if we are to avoid such a debacle in the future.

Yeah, it's the "lead-the-horse-to-water" problem yet again. Doesn't change the fact that it's necessary.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on August 3, 2018 at 12:30pm

I have been advocating a competence test for politicians. Is there any good reason a hair cutter needs to pass a test to attain a license to cut hair while a senator or president does not? We demand competence in our teachers, engineers, attorneys and physicians yet we have no such requirement for the most important offices. 

We would be aghast if a surgeon were performing surgery without proving competence and yet we allow a man of such little merit to be our president.  The surgeon might harm or kill a few, a president might cause far reaching and incalculable harm. We must protect the public lest incompetent engineers build faulty bridges, physicians harm their patients, hair cutters use a straight razor in a haphazard way.  We must protect the public from actors who have not proven their competence. Nobody gets a free ride except at the highest level and with the most dire consequences. A more incongruous and indefensible stance is not easy to imagine. 

If we had competence tests before a candidate could run we would rid the political scene of the dreck we have.  There is a senator in Religulous who concedes senators do not need to be educated. Philosopher kings? No.  But competent politicians well versed in geopolitics, history, domestic issues, constitutional law? YES

Comment by Loren Miller on August 3, 2018 at 9:06am

You have it exactly, Craig.  This administration has virtually no interest in what the Constitution says, but only what they want to implement, unconstitutional or not.  Their base will go along with damned near anything, because they don't know and they don't care.  The Republicans in Congress isn't much different in that they won't call Trump on his insanity, because they want to stay in power.

How it gets more dangerous for the US, I don't know ... which is why I'm screaming bloody murder at those who represent me and tell them to do their fucking jobs!

Comment by Craigart14 on August 3, 2018 at 9:00am

If all religions will be equally protected (yeah, right) so that all believers will be able to act out their faith with impunity, can we still fight religiously motivated terrorism? There are violent Muslims who believe the Koran demands religious war. True, they are in the minority, but they seem pretty sincere to me. In protecting their religious freedom, do we not give them carte blanche to continue the killing? Or will SCOTUS eventually have to rule on what the angel Gibreel meant when he dictated the passages in the Koran that some Muslims interpret as a command to kill infidels? Will the new task force legitimize the murder of the abortion providers? Will the Christian right revert to its roots and fight against integration? Will hotel chains establish guidelines for employees so they can reliably identify queer folk and deny them services? We already have pharmacists refusing to fill certain prescriptions and county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Should Warren Jeffs be pardoned and returned to marrying child brides? Besides, Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders have already explained that the Bible commands us to obey the laws of our society. The US is a nation founded by immigrants who wisely tried to keep religion out of government. Unfortunately, the contemporary American right has forgotten that--or more likely never understood--that freedom of religion applies to thoughts, not actions that harm or discriminate against others. It's one thing to decide based on faith that you don't want to sell chicken sandwiches on Sunday and another thing to forbid others from selling on Sunday. Aarghh!  

Comment by Loren Miller on August 1, 2018 at 11:10am

Yeah, Frankie ... sorta like this:

To which I answer, "Uh-huh ... SUUUUUUUUUUUUURE you are...

Comment by Frankie Dapper on August 1, 2018 at 11:05am

I heard from my local marijuana dispensary that Sessions will change the payment of all products to cash only. This will make it a little tougher to purchase or a little more inconvenient. Jesus will kiss him for his good deed. 

I just sit back and watch the human comedy unfold. The poor powerful and dominant Christians are being persecuted!

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