The FRC wants you to “Help free Kim Davis from jail”

Todays I received the following email from the Family Research Council (FRC) headed by Tony Perkins. A theocratic grifter of some renown.

Kim Davis is the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. She has been jailed by a federal judge for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. And Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) wants to keep her there.

Gotta love the gratuitous swipe at a Democratic governor. Especially since he has no control over whether Ms. Davis is in jail or for how long. Also, she wasn’t jailed for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. She was jailed for contempt of court.

Her refusal is based on her belief that God has ordained marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Regardless of the recent Supreme Court decision claiming same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, Kim is standing on a higher law, one she believes derives not from the decision of any court but from the hand of our Creator.

Apparently the FRC believes that everyone should be able to flout civil law if they hold a belief incompatible with that law. Not to mention all the people who want to be paid to do jobs that conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs. What do you want to bet that they will hastily modify that assertion once it is pointed out that by their reasoning

a) A Protestant paramedic can refuse to give aid to a Catholic and vice-versa.

b) A Muslim working at the DMV should be able to refuse to give a drivers license to women.

c) A Hindu working at McDonalds should be able to refuse to cook or serve hamburgers.

d) An Amish bus driver should be able to refuse to drive busses but still be paid.

Etcetera.

Our Constitution guarantees Kim Davis the right to practice her faith. It's called "freedom of religion," and is the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights.

Yes, Ms. Davis is free to practice her faith. She can attend the church of her choosing as often as she wishes. She can give that church as much of her $80K/year salary as she wishes. She is free to read and write about her religion without government interference. What that right does not include is violating civil law and refusing to do the job for which she is paid.

The couple demanding she issue them a marriage license claims Kim's exercise of her freedom of religion has imposed a burden on them. Yet they have had many other options for obtaining a license and have, in fact, now gotten one.

Irrelevant point. Also disingenuous. Ms. Davis’ behavior imposes an unreasonable burden on the members of her community she is obligated to serve.

Apparently Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is more concerned with imposing a moral and personal burden on Kim Davis than he is with accommodating her deeply-held Christian convictions. So, he is keeping her in jail.

Yawn. Repeating a tiresome lie doesn’t make it true. A federal judge is keeping her in jail. You’re asking that Gov. Beshear provide her a “get out of jail free” card.

This is wrong. We jail criminals, not people of conscience. We penalize wrong-doers, not people who simply decline a service for moral reasons -- a service which is readily available in other places.

We do jail people of conscience. All the fucking time. People who protested the Vietnam war were jailed. People who protest nuclear war are jailed. And by telling a federal court she won’t abide by their ruling in a matter she has committed a crime known as “contempt of court”. What the FRC really means is that Christians shouldn’t be jailed for following “biblical law”. But only the parts of biblical law they feel like following. Not those other bits like killing adulterers (I’m looking at you Ms. Davis) or people who work on the sabbath.

American Christians need to stand with Kim Davis's right to stand by her religious convictions. You can help by signing our petition below to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear asking him to issue an accommodation to Kim Davis allowing her to live and work according to her beliefs…

I followed that link. A full 48 hours after I received the FRC’s email they had 32,158 signatures including mine. Yawn. And, of course, the petition page had the obligatory prominently placed “DONATE NOW!” button. Grifters gotta grift.

Michigan representative Todd Courser wants to make it hard for non-hetero Christians to get married

Updated 2015-09-11: Todd Courser, bigoted homophobic Republican state representative, has resigned. His coworker, that he was having an adulteress affair with, has been fired (technically “expelled”) by the rest of the state legislature. Please excuse me while I experience some schadenfreude.
Updated 2015-08-08: I just learned that Todd Courser, the elected representative responsible for the Christian motivated legislative bill I discuss below was having an affair (i.e., committing adultery) with legislator Cindy Gamrat. You can read about it in the Detroit News. Honestly, what the fuck is with these moralizing assholes who insist on imposing their religious morals on everyone else when they themselves are breaking that very code of conduct?

I read this article at The Friendly Atheist blog. It so outraged me I took the time to send the following email to Rep. Courser:

Mr. Courser,

Have you actually thought about the ramifications of your proposed legislation? What about atheists? Mixed faith couples? Religious couples who simply don't want a religious "leader" involved? No one is asking that government officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses agree with the beliefs of people seeking to be married. If a government official is incapable of doing the job they were hired to do they should be encouraged to seek another job.

To my surprise I received a reply:

from:      toddcourser@house.mi.gov
to:        krader@skepticism.us
date:      Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 9:56 AM
subject:   Re: so you believe atheists shouldn't be able to marry?
mailed-by: email.nationbuilder.com

Dear Kurtis,

Please read the bills.  You will see that you will not be required to be married in any faith.  In fact, the marriage does not have to be religious.  There does not have to be a ceremony.  The marriage can be recognized by an affidavit signed by both parties and given to the county clerk.  The bills are taking the government out of the marriage process, not determining who should be married and how.  There will be more freedom, not less.

Respectfully,
Karen Couture
Legislative Aide
Rep. Todd Courser

Hmmm, perhaps Mr. Mehta and other sources I’ve read about this legislation have drawn the wrong conclusion. So I did read each of the three bills: HB 4731, HB 4732, HB 4733. There is also an announcement at gophouse.org regarding the three bills. This is the reply I sent Ms. Couture and Mr. Courser:

Ms. Couture,

I just finished reading all three bills (HB 4731, 4732, 4733). What you say is literally true in as much as the bills do not require the  applicants to affirm a specific faith. However, the bills expressly require the applicant to have their "MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY CLERGY"(from page one of HB 4733 but similar language and provisions are in the other two bills). At the top of page two it says "AS USED IN THIS ACT, "CLERGY" MEANS A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, CLERIC, OR RELIGIOUS PRACTITIONER."

The bills also explicitly modify the language to read "minister of the Gospel" rather than simply "minister" which makes it quite clear Mr. Courser favors Christian sects. These bills quite clearly make it more difficult for anyone not a member of a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish faith tradition to get married. The bills effectively make it impossible for an atheist to be married in your state unless they're willing to disregard their beliefs regarding religion and beg a "minister of the gospel" to grant them the boon of a certified marriage certificate.

You should hang your head in shame for lying like that. Lying for Jebus is still lying and not acceptable in civilized society.
Rep. Courser’s office sent me another email pointing out that section 1A (page 3, line 13) of HB 4733 does provide for registering a marriage by filing a notarized affidavit. I’m not a lawyer but it does appear that section allows for atheists, homosexuals, and any other minority group to have their marriage recognized by the state of Michigan.

Nonetheless I find the bill odious. It clearly signals that Christian marriage is preferable to marriages not recognized by Christian sects. There is absolutely no legitimate secular (i.e., government interest) for doing so. Rep. Courser could simply omit section 1 and require everyone follow the requirements in section 1A and his goal of protecting the fragile religious sensibilities of state employees would still be met.

The Rude Pundit nails it again regarding crime and punishment

I’ve been binge watching “The Wire” for a couple of weeks since I signed up for HBONow. This is a show renowned for its realistic depiction of how police handle crime in Baltimore, MA, USA. I love the show and hate what it says about the America I live in as a privileged white male.

The Rude Pundit writes another article you should be reading instead of mine about “America’s Obsession With Punishment: Who Cares If You’re Guilty?“. How can anyone, even a Republican, agree that holding someone in jail for three years for petty theft (even assuming there is sufficient reason to believe they are guilty) without trail is moral and consistent with American ideals?

See this article from the New York Times in April, 2015 where they claim

As of late March, over 400 people had been locked up for more than two years without being convicted of a crime, according to city data that is to be released publicly for the first time. And there are currently a half-dozen people at Rikers who have been waiting on pending cases for more than six years.

White trash heterosexuals raising children with godly morals

This is what happens when you let heterosexuals raise children.

Said by a commenter on the Joe My God blog article about a brawl between two women at a Walmart in Beech Grove, Indiana. The comment is in response to learning that one of the woman instructed her son to:

Johnny, punch here in the face! Johnny, punch her in the fucking face!

This is the perfect counter-example to all the bigoted xtians who wail about homosexuals being allowed to marry and adopt children. It’s true I don’t know that these women are god fearing Christians. However, the city of Beech Grove is 92% white and Indiana as a whole is staunchly Republican. Too, Indiana’s current head is Governor Mike Pence, a bigoted tea-party idiot. And according to the Pew Research Center Indiana is 72% xtian. So it’s a pretty safe bet that these women are god fearing xtians who believe that without God they would be free to do whatever they felt like doing. Such as brawling in public.

Johnny, punch her in the face!

<sarcasm alert>Yes, we definitely need more God fearing Christians in our society. <eye-roll>

Newspaper gives honest answer to “Why do you support such a liberal agenda?”

The title of this post is from Daily Kos where Black Max points out that the newspaper’s answer contains

No snark, no smartassery. This is one of the finest responses I’ve ever seen to this kind of question.

I encourage you to read the article by Taylor Batten. Here are a couple of the answers that resonated especially strongly with me:

We believe in consistency, so if you are going to drug-test recipients of public assistance, drug-test them all, including the corporate chieftains who are the biggest beneficiaries.

That’s because the “masters of the universe” on Wall Street who precipitated the 2008 economic collapse and received enormous bailouts by the US government have suffered no consequences. No drug testing let alone jail time. And

We believe if you’re a fan of a politician solely because he has a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ after his name, then you’re not paying attention.

That last quote struck home because until the 2010 midterm elections I gave little consideration to the political affiliation of a candidate. Until 2010 I had always believed in voting for the most qualified candidate regardless of their party affiliation. But in the 2010 election I voted for any candidate who was not a Republican. It didn’t matter to me if the Republican was a better choice than their opponents. The Republican party was so toxic that I would vote for anyone who was not a Republican as long as they had not been convicted of a crime.

Having said that I’m still in agreement with Batten’s point that you should not vote for someone simply because of the political party (i.e., tribe) of which they are a member. Whether you should vote against someone due to their political party affiliation is an open question. As I write this I’m sorry to say the Republican party has been taken over by insane people unable to distinguish between reality and what they wished were true. Thus while I won’t vote for someone simply because they’re a Democrat I will vote against someone because they’re a Republican.

Also, you’ve got to read some of the comments to the article by Taylor Batten. Including this by John Keller:

He lost me with the Obama is not from Kenya comment. That was an obvious dig at conservatives, the majority of whom never believed that was true. …

Several people replied, correctly, that there was nary a conservative (and certainly not FOX News) arguing against the assertion that Obama was not a USA citizen and thus eligible to be president.

The right-wing is up in arms over DOD calling Bible sexist

Google “deomi sexism bible” and you’ll find a huge number of right-wing news sites and blogs expressing horror that the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), a group within the US Department of Defense (DOD), has a course on sexism that points out the self-evidently true fact that the Bible, US Declaration of Independence, and US Constitution all allowed, if not outright sanctioned, treating women as second-class citizens. Not surprisingly many of the blogs I read also used rhetoric consistent with the MRA (mens rights advocacy) movement.

Here is a representative assertion from one of the articles you’ll find with this Google search:

It doesn’t matter that Christ, Moses, or the Founding Fathers were not in the least hung up on sexism.

Yes, I’ll grant you that those groups were not “hung up on sexism” in as much as they thought it the natural order of things that women were not equal to men. You would be hard pressed to find an individual man in any of those groups (by which I mean Jews, followers of Jesus, and people living during the time when the USA was being formed) who actually thought about their attitudes towards women and whether those attitudes might not be justified. So, sure, they weren’t “hung up on sexism”. But that misses the point that they were sexist and the documents they wrote enshrined the idea that women are second-class citizens.

All of the outrage boils done to one, if not all, of these ideas:

1) How dare anyone imply the Bible is anything other than a source of perfect morality and rules for living.

2) How dare anyone impugn that the US Constitution is the perfect template for running our affairs today. It does not require any interpretation or adaptation to our current world.

3) How dare anyone question the behavior of US military personnel who pledge to uphold the US Constitution (unlike that Kenyan-Muslim-Communist-Socialist-Atheist elected to be our current president).

My mind boggles at the willful ignorance and stupidity on display.

P.S., This came to my attention via an email from Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, representing the FRC, titled “Help Us Stop the Battle against Our Armed Forces”. The title is interesting in that it implies that the US military is above reproach and is being undermined (by ungodly, leftist, members of society).

Tony Perkins, FRC head, warns that American churches are being persecuted

Another day, another frightening email from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council begging for money (sorry, asking for a “generous gift”) so they can do God’s work. Why God can’t handle this himself (for example, by smiting the guilty) isn’t explained. What do they need the money for? To fight the “rampaging persecution of the American Church!” Does the FRC mean that churches are being closed by the state? Are Christians being forced to disavow their religious beliefs? Are Christians being fed to lions? Nothing quite so dramatic.

The examples of persecution Mr. Perkins cites boil down to forcing businesses owned by Christians and religious charities which use public tax money to follow the same regulations that secular organizations must follow. Specifically, they can’t discriminate based on a person’s sexual orientation. In other words, the FRC is claiming that because Christians can’t persecute homosexuals it is actually Christians who are being persecuted. The mind boggles at the “thinking” on display by those poor, downtrodden, good hearted Christians.

P.S., One of the persecuted business owners is quoted as saying

“It would almost appear as if we have lost the battle for the culture as Christians. I would say that’s not true. I say that we can become relevant. I say that we can fight for our rights. I say that we should fight for our rights… we’re called to put on the full armor of God—and stand.”

What does the full armor of God look like? Is it shiny? Does it convey special powers like the ability to fart rainbows that smell like bananas?

Dear Patrick Lynch, NYPD police benevolent union head

Patrick Lynch, head of the New York police department benevolent union, recently claimed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was responsible for the Saturday deaths of two Brooklyn cops who were murdered by a lone gunman from Georgia. Note that the killer was known to be mentally unstable.

Patrick Lynch is a prime example for why even white, middle-age, males like myself now view all police officers with suspicion. My brother is a police officer. They have a difficult job. Yet it’s reached the point that whenever I see a police officer interacting with someone else I automatically put my phone on “record” and walk toward the situation to help ensure there is a record should the police abuse their power. Because we can no longer assume, even in San Jose, CA, that the police will treat all citizens equally.

See also Charles P. Pierce.

A police chief who understands his job

Talking Points Memo brought to my attention that there are, even in the deep south of the USA, police chiefs who recognize that their job isn’t to pander to the frightened, bigoted, citizens they protect. Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson wrote a marvelous response to someone who sent him an email essentially demanding that he use excessive force in dealing with non-violent protesters.

The person who wrote that email is, among other things, annoyed that the protests adversely impacted his activities (e.g., getting to work on time). I share that sentiment. In as much as I’d be annoyed by protesters whose actions get in the way of me going on about my business especially if I am not sympathetic to their views. But being inconvenienced does not warrant having the police assault and arrest the protesters.

I am thankful that many police officers can do their job with the understanding that their personal biases regarding who is a “good” or “not good” person is irrelevant. I am sad that there are so many officers who clearly cannot do so and are not held accountable for their irrational behavior.

Answers In Genesis, Ark Encounter, whine some more

After Kentucky informed AIG they would not be receiving $18M in tax incentives due to their discriminatory hiring practices AIG responded that they are being discriminated against. You’ve got to love this statement in their whine:

Nobody seems to want to force the group American Atheists to hire Christians (and we do not advocate it).

American Atheists and every other secular organization doesn’t require “statements of faith” (or non-faith) in order to be hired. They only require that you are competent to perform the duties of the job. Regardless of whether or not you believe in a deity.

If AIG/Ark Encounter had their way it would be legal for businesses to refuse to hire (i.e., discriminate) based on the color or your skin. Sorry, but religion does not deserve that secular privilege.