Category: Politics

Forget wedding cakes. ADF now wants to keep transgender women out of homeless shelters.

By Zack Ford

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the hate group challenging LGBTQ protections all over the country, has a new client: the Downtown Soup Kitchen (“Hope Center”) in Anchorage, Alaska. Because the charity wants permission to refuse to shelter transgender women, ADF argues in a federal lawsuit that the city’s entire nondiscrimination law should be declared unconstitutional.

The suit was filed last month but only came to light in the past week, and ADF’s lack of publicity about the case is a relevant part of the case. On its face, it’s a response to a specific complaint of alleged discrimination, similar to the cases ADF has taken defending bakers, florists, and photographers who have been found in violation of nondiscrimination ordinances for not serving same-sex couples. But this particular response is actually a messy overreach mirroring ADF’s other pre-enforcement challenges that seek to override all LGBTQ protections in the name of “religious liberty.”

The Anchorage Equal Rights Commission currently has two complaints open against the Hope Center that it has not yet adjudicated. The first is a complaint filed by a transgender woman earlier this year, after she claimed having been twice refused shelter at the Hope Center. The shelter actually had perfectly plausible reasons for these two refusals. On the first occasion, the woman reportedly was drunk — a violation of the shelter’s admissions policy. On the second occasion the following day, she sought admission at a time when the shelter was closed.

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U.S. Senate Introduces Resolution Calling for Global Repeal of Blasphemy Laws

By Hemant Mehta

There’s not much that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate can agree on these days, but both parties ought to condemn countries that punish people for saying unpopular things. And now a bipartisan resolution has been introduced that does just that.

This week, Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a resolution that calls for the “global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws.”

Resolved, That the Senate–

(1) recognizes that blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws inappropriately position governments as arbiters of religious truth and empower officials to impose religious dogma on individuals or minorities through the through the power of the government or through violence sanctioned by the government;

(2) calls on the President and the Secretary of State to make the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws a priority in the bilateral relationships of the United States with all countries that have such laws, through direct interventions in bilateral and multilateral fora;

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Evangelical Leaders Are Frustrated at G.O.P. Caution on Kavanaugh Allegation

By Jeremy W. Peters and Elizabeth Dias

Worried their chance to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could slip away, a growing number of evangelical and anti-abortion leaders are expressing frustration that Senate Republicans and the White House are not protecting Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh more forcefully from a sexual assault allegation and warning that conservative voters may stay home in November if his nomination falls apart.

Several of these leaders, including ones with close ties to the White House and Senate Republicans, are urging Republicans to move forward with a confirmation vote imminently unless the woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, agrees to share her story with the Senate Judiciary Committee within the next few days.

The pleas are, in part, an attempt to apply political pressure: Some evangelical leaders are warning that religious conservatives may feel little motivation to vote in the midterm elections unless Senate Republicans move the nomination out of committee soon and do more to defend Judge Kavanaugh from what they say is a desperate Democratic ploy to prevent President Trump from filling future court vacancies.

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Mike Pence To Address Event Hosted By Anti-LGBT Hate Group

By Jared Holt

Vice President Mike Pence will address this year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, an event put on annually by Religious Right group Family Research Council.

Last year, President Donald Trump was the first sitting president to address the group. Trump was invited to speak at the conference again this year, but at the time of publication, his attendance was unconfirmed.

The Values Voters Summit is hosted annually by the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed in its index of hate groups. FRC president Tony Perkins and his employees have actively lobbied against marriage equality and transgender rights for decades—an agenda that Perkins told radio listeners he once discussed with former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Last year, Bannon and other White House officials recruited FRC in their war against the Republican establishment that they believe to be too moderate.

As made abundantly clear last year, Perkins and his ilk have retooled their “family values” message from years past to include unwavering support of the Trump administration and its allies. Since last year’s conference, FRC has provided cover for failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after he was accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls while he was in his 30s, announced that evangelicals were giving Trump a “mulligan” for his alleged affair with Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford as long as he continues to fulfill their agenda, and called for prayers to protect Trump from “left-wing news media.” Coincidentally, Perkins has also received an appointment to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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Louisiana Rep. Johnson Claims California Atheists Are Trying to Spy on Students

By Griffin Connolly

Rep. Mike Johnson, who represents a vast swath of Louisiana’s northwestern corner, accused California atheist groups of trying to spy on students at a school in his district by taking covert video.

“WARNING TO OUR FRIENDS IN BOSSIER SCHOOLS (Please share),” Johnson wrote on Facebook Tuesday, referring to Louisiana’s Bossier Parish (the state’s equivalent of a county) that includes parts of Shreveport.

“Last night we received very credible information that atheist litigation groups in CA have contacted private investigators in our area to try to hire them to obtain hidden video of Christian student groups and activities at Benton High School and potentially other Bossier Parish schools,” Johnson wrote.

The Louisiana Republican’s post was first reported by the Shreveport Times. Johnson’s spokeswoman, Ainsley Holyfield, declined the Times’ requests for information about the California litigation groups and the congressman’s sources.

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GOP Senate Candidate Claims 99% Of Rape Allegations ‘Are Just Absolutely Fabricated’

By Michael Stone

Conservative Christian and U.S. Senate candidate for Mississippi Chris McDaniel claims 99 percent of rape allegations “are just absolutely fabricated.”

McDaniel, in an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, discussed the recent allegations of sexual assault being made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Speaking on the conservative Christian program Focal Point, hosted by Bryan Fischer, McDaniel was asked about the alarming allegations being made against Kavanaugh. McDaniel replied:

I’m tired of all these made up scandals frankly. We have a system where Judge Kavanaugh is obviously well suited for, and they’re going to drag something up even theoretically, allegedly from all those years ago that all of a sudden disqualifies this man. All of a sudden, he’s a terrible human being. No not a chance. I don’t fall for it anymore. I hope the American people aren’t falling for it. These allegations 99 percent of the time are just absolutely fabricated.

Note: McDaniel is not only claiming that Kavanaugh’s accuser is a liar, he is also suggesting that 99 percent of all women coming forward to report crimes involving sexual assault and rape are also liars.

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Christian Pol, Attacked for Opposing ‘In God We Trust’ in School, Talks Church and State

By Frederick Clarkson

In his first State of the Union address, Donald Trump wagged his finger and declared, “the motto is In God We Trust.” He was, of course, talking about the national motto, designated by Congress in the 1950s as part of the post-war culture of anti-communism. It replaced the original motto E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) which spoke to the spirit of unifying the diverse nation of the founding era.) Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) told CBN News that he “was moved by the president’s commitment to God.”

The disingenuousness of these and allied pols has set the tone for much that has happened since. And there are indications that this may become more the rule than the exception. If so, the experience and example of State Senator John Marty (D-MN) may be instructive.

Marty was smeared on Fox News after he opposed a legislative amendment that would allow for the display of In God We Trust in the public schools. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Dan Hall, described Marty as part of an “anti-faith movement” that seeks to “suppress” religion and “wipe it out of government.” Hall went on to say it was a matter of “religious freedom” to post In God We Trust in the schools.

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Betsy DeVos wants to allow schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students in secret

By John Gallagher

While the president’s tweets get all the attention, the damage being done by his minion’s policy changes often escape notice. In the latest example, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to make it easy for Christian schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students without having to reveal their bias to the government.

At issue are regulations under Title IX, the federal law that prevents discrimination on the basis of gender. Advocates, including Department of Education employees, have been concerned from early in DeVos’s tenure that watering down that protection will have an outsized impact on LGBTQ students.

In the past, schools have been able to opt out of complying with the law if they cite a religious exemption. However, the Obama administration required the schools to submit a letter explaining their request for an exemption. The list of schools was then published online. 

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Trump’s Spiritual Adviser Urged a Church Congregation to Vote Republican

By Hemant Mehta

During a service last week at Kenneth Copeland‘s Eagle Mountain International Church, evangelist Paula White (a spiritual adviser to Donald Trump) and Copeland’s daughter Terri Pearsons told the crowd in no uncertain terms that they needed to vote Republican this November.

It was a complete violation of the Johnson Amendment which, contrary to what Pearsons said, has not yet been invalidated.

“There is so much at stake in this,” Pearsons responded, hammering home the point that Trump’s judicial appointments are “probably the single biggest, most critical issue” in the upcoming elections. “That’s what your vote means, so we’re going to vote for the team that will most press that agenda through because it’s the judges that have brought so much of the ungodliness into our nation.

“You see the hand of God in all this,” White chimed in, falsely claiming that California has already passed a law “that says the Bible is a book of hate speech and to ban the sale of it.”

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Texas board votes to eliminate Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller from history curriculum

By Lauren McGaughy

History curriculum in Texas remembers the Alamo but could soon forget Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller.

As part of an effort to “streamline” the social studies curriculum in public schools, the State Board of Education voted Friday to adjust what students in every grade are required to learn in the classroom. Among the changes, board members approved the removal of several historical figures, including Clinton and Keller, from the curriculum.

The board also voted to keep in the curriculum a reference to the “heroism” of the defenders of the Alamo, which had been recommended for elimination, as well as Moses’ influence on the writing of the nation’s founding documents, multiple references to “Judeo-Christian” values and a requirement that students explain how the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” in the Middle East.

The vote Friday was preliminary. The board can amend the curriculum changes further before taking a final vote in November.

Barbara Cargill, a Republican board member from Houston and former chairwoman, said work groups recommended removing Clinton and Keller, and the board agreed.

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