The Piety Police

Those of us who live in Indiana are well aware of Mike Pence’s hostility to the rights of LGBTQ citizens, but the national press is still learning about “Pastor” Pence’s fundamentalist religious views on women and gays. Just a few days ago, a Newslo reporter dug up old Pence speeches and satirized his homophobia. [Sorry the original version of this post didn’t clarify what was real and what was satirical. Mea Culpa]

Digging up Mike Pence’s past political work has become a sport in the brief time since he was named Donald Trump’s running mate. The most recent finding is that Pence penned strong anti-LGBT letters in the 1990s during his time as head of the Indiana Policy Review. In 1993, he attacked gay leadership in the military, claiming: “Homosexuals are not as a group able bodied. They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity, which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”

Given his long history of calling to violence against members of the LGBT population, it’s no surprise that Pence can’t go long without going back to his hateful ways. In a recent interview with Fox News, following the results of the presidential election in which his running mate Donald Trump triumphed over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Pence issued a call to homosexuals throughout the United States to “voluntarily quit any jobs they might have with God-fearing employers” for the purposes of “avoiding laws that reject gay people from working in such jobs.”

The “God fearing” Republican party of Mike Pence is a far cry from the party of Barry Goldwater, who famously said of gays in the military “You don’t have to be straight; you just have to shoot straight.” In fact, today’s GOP is a far cry from the party of Ronald Reagan, whose “legacy” is piously invoked and routinely misrepresented.

Today’s GOP is a radical cult–much more like a religion than a conventional political party. And that religion’s basic doctrine is becoming clearer every day: it’s the prosperity gospel on steroids. Prosperity gospel, as you probably know, is the belief that financial and physical well-being are evidence of the will of God. If you are poor and sick, well, that’s God’s will, and government has no business interfering.

You only have to look at the GOP’s so-called “health care” bill to see this doctrinal belief in action.   Why eviscerate Medicaid? Well,if God wanted us to keep grandma alive in a nursing home, He would have seen to it that she could afford it.

In fact, there’s a lot that the Republican God doesn’t want. He (their God is definitely a He) also doesn’t want us bothering to combat climate change. Just ask Senator Inhofe, who insists that only God can change the climate, and says the idea that manmade pollution could affect the seasons is “arrogance.”

The theology of today’s GOP may forbid interfering with God’s will by providing government-subsidized health care or a hand up to the poor, but when it comes to issues of gender, the Prosperity Gospel defaults to garden-variety Christian fundamentalism, a la Pence, which teaches that God wants government to ensure that women aren’t allowed to control their own reproduction. God also wants government to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing poor women with breast exams and/or pap smears. (Why an omnipotent God can’t manage this on His own is one of the mysteries of Christian doctrine…)

Bottom line: Today’s GOP is a thoroughly unholy amalgam of prosperity gospel (whose adherents overlooked Donald Trump’s unfitness for office because, hey–he’s rich! God must love him)–and anti-woman, anti-gay Christian fundamentalism. Its members are antagonistic to science, dismissive of evidence, uninterested in policy and the nitty-gritty of governing, and unmoved by the real-world, human consequences of their actions.

They’re only interested in doing the will of the God they’ve created in their own image.


  1. Sheila, you really hit the nail squarely on the head with this column.

  2. Newslo is a satirical site. Other than that, I agree with your overall thoughts.

  3. I volunteered on Representative Phil Sharp’s campaign in the late 80s. It was widely known among the people involved in politics that Pence was just plain dishonest. He twisted the facts and coated his words with religious bullshit to give the appearance of a “good person.” Combine his BS factor with his ability to appear to do something when he does absolutely nothing, as in 11 years in Congress with no legislative credits, and you have a perilous, incompetent idiot who would be capable of doing more harm than Trump.

  4. @Peggy Stenz Casey, I’d not heard of Newslo until today so I checked it out and found an attention-grabbing story from earlier this week, “Women Who Wax Their Private Parts Are Hurting God’s Work”. Thanks for sharing.

    On to more serious thought, I now wish I’d spent more time understanding Goldwater’s message in 1964; however, I was still smitten with my high school girl crush on the young handsome JFK and the aura of Camelot, so blinded by my youthful adoration of JFK that I actually voted in my first ever presidential election for LBJ, thinking he’d simply carry on in Camelot style. Oh my, LBJ, what a vulgar, common man, and I voted for him for two flimsy reasons, 1) mistakenly thought he’d be an extension of JFK, and 2) demographic location that routinely voted Democrat.

    Times certainly have changed, Democrats have changed, and most assuredly Republicans have changed by straying far from their traditional conservatism of recognizing individual liberty and protecting the individual’s liberty ‘to live and let live’ as long as no other’s same liberty was infringed.

    I found a 1998 post from Ms Kennedy that still hits the sweet spot.

  5. Your assessment about the “prosperity gospel on steroids” is spot on!
    Hence, the popularity and extraordinary wealth of Joel Osteen.
    This is an historical replay of the worst of colonial Puritanism.
    Unfortunately, this nation is ignorant of and doesn’t teach the religious history of the U.S. and how that history is inextricably linked to our political history. I had to learn it during 10 years spent studying in a UCC seminary in Minneapolis.

    Theresa’s comment about crossing Ayn Rand & Christianity is priceless.

  6. Surprisingly, we never hear those same fundamentalist bible thumping Christians demand that erectile disfunction drugs should be banned. They, of all people, should know that God decided that certain men should suffer from ED and that only God should have the right to do something about it.

  7. The thing that saddens me most is seeing the white women who agree wholeheartedly with the policies of these anti-women politicians.

  8. Ayn Rand devotees are Paul Ryan and his fellow young groupies. Rand hates collectivism…refers to it as a weakness. Pence is a pretend Christian; an actor who appeals to the believers of Evangelism. He’s also a well-known liar.

    The “anti-science” crowd are con men. In fact, most of the people in Washington on both sides of the aisle are con men and women.

    We don’t have public servants any longer. They are private sector servants serving the Donor Class.

    Pence “loves coal”; not because he’s anti-science or ‘traditional-minded’, but because his major donors are the Koch brothers and Duke Energy who make huge profits blowing up mountaintops to extract coal poisoning the water supply in West Virginia and the air in Indiana.

    The political parties are a fraud in America. Journalism is a fraud in America. Our press/media is a fraud in America.

    If you can’t write the honest truth because it might offend a Donor, guess what?

  9. @Janine Gehris, you wrote “Unfortunately, this nation is ignorant of and doesn’t teach the religious history of the U.S. and how that history is inextricably linked to our political history.”

    Your one sentence sums up a huge void in our public school education system as it exists today. In our quest to maintain a strict separation of church and state, we’ve become fearful of even entertaining the idea of a broad liberal arts Social Studies course designed as an overview of world religions.

    Not until my older son spent 4 years at The Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA where all students completed a required Social Studies course, “World Religions” did I personally discover the basic tenets of religions other than Christianity. I made this discovery as an adult by reading his high school class textbook which in no way attempted to proseltyze the reader for any particular religion. What a shame that we are not provided an historical overview of religions and their impact, both good and bad, on past, current, and future politics in the US and in global affairs.

  10. Keep your religion and religious views to yourself; I chose not to be a part of any organized group. I feel Pence. Is a danger to our form of government.

  11. @ Peggy Hannon

    I could not agree more with your comment. We women have our own worst enemies living among us.

  12. On a slightly different topic…..

    Keeping Score


    Vern Turner

    In this world of ultra-partisanship in politics and social class competition, it is often overlooked that some kinds of score keeping are more important than others. Take, for example, the building wave of investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice that are about to break on the rocky shores of the ever-shrinking Trump Island of lies. There are investigations into almost every Trump campaign and staff member who had dalliances with the Russians and other nefarious characters. Flynn, Monafort, Paige, Kushner, et. al., the list seems to grow every day. It’s almost like watching someone turn on the lights is a funky apartment and watching the roaches scurry for cover. Do the terms obstruction of justice, money laundering and emolument clause violations sound like a salad of honesty to you? Before it’s over, I predict, the Trump administration will set a new league record for lawyers being retained and indictments flowing over the transom of their rapidly sinking boat.

    Sadly, though, this is not a new phenomenon. Below is the scorecard for the latest list of Presidents, both Democrat and Republican.

    When comparing criminal indictments of those serving in the executive
    branch of presidential administrations, it’s patently lopsided as to be obvious which party is more embedded with corruption, crimes and scandal. Yet, the whine and memes from the right-wing media and Republican talking heads are all about how supposedly “corrupt” the Democrats are. So, why don’t we break the numbers down by president?

    Obama (D) – 8 yrs in office. Zero criminal indictments, zero
    convictions and zero prison sentences. So the next time somebody
    describes the Obama administration as “scandal free” they aren’t
    speaking wishfully, they’re simply telling the truth.

    Bush, George W. (R) – 8 yrs in office. 16 criminal indictments. 16
    convictions. 9 prison sentences.

    Clinton (D) – 8 yrs in office. 2 criminal indictments. One conviction.
    One prison sentence. That’s right, nearly 8 yrs of investigations, tens
    of millions of dollars spent and 30 yrs of claiming that the Clinton administration was the most corrupt ever, yet there was exactly one person convicted of a crime.

    Bush, George H. W. (R) – 4 yrs in office. One indictment. One
    conviction. One prison sentence. Oh, and don’t forget that he pardoned president Reagan and his fellow coconspirators from any crimes associated with the Iran-Contra scandal. The Reagan league record of indictments would have been even higher.

    Reagan (R) – 8 yrs in office. 26 criminal indictments. 16 convictions.
    8 prison sentences.

    Carter (D) – 4 yrs in office. One indictment. Zero convictions and
    zero prison sentences.

    Ford (R) – 4 yrs in office. One indictment and one conviction. One
    prison sentence. And who can forget his dramatic pardoning of Richard Nixon just after the words “so help me God” dripped from his lips. See, a sitting president can’t be indicted, but a private citizen can for crimes committed as president. Ford gave Nixon the ultimate ticket to ride in our country.

    Nixon (R) – 6 yrs in office. 76 criminal indictments. 55 convictions.
    15 prison sentences.

    Johnson (D) – 5 yrs in office. Zero indictments. Zero convictions.
    Zero prison sentences.

    So, let’s see where that leaves us. In the last 53 years, Democrats
    have been in the Oval Office for 25 of those years, while Republicans
    held it for 28. In their 25 yrs in office Democrats had a total of
    three executive branch officials indicted with one conviction and one
    prison sentence. That’s one conviction in two and a half decades of Democrat leadership.

    In the 28 yrs that Republicans have held office over the last 53 yrs.,
    there have been a total of 20 criminal indictments of executive branch officials, 89 criminal
    convictions and 34 prison sentences handed down. That’s more prison
    sentences than years in office since 1968 for Republicans. If you want
    to count articles of impeachment as indictments (they aren’t really,
    but we can count them as an action), both sides get one more. However,
    Clinton wasn’t found guilty while Nixon resigned and was pardoned by
    Ford (and a pardon carries with it a legal admission of guilt on the
    part of the pardoned). So those only serve to make Republicans look
    even worse.

    Let’s just review the numbers again, shall we? 120
    indictments for Republicans. 89 convictions, and 34 prison sentences.
    Those aren’t “feelings” or “alternate facts.” Those are simply the
    the real numbers. Republicans are, and have been for my entire
    lifetime, the most criminally corrupt party to hold the office of the presidency. Of course, we forget the abject corruption of the Harding administration, so it’s been a pretty egregious lot, these administrations. One might even go so far as to suggest that the only Republican administrations that were even a little bit honest were Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The latter was killed by a racist bigot and the latter was so pilloried by his Republican peers that he had to form his own political party.

    The Republican brand is currently being sullied and tarnished by its idiotic pursuit of a health care law that overrides the Affordable Care Act. Why, even many conservatives are starting to think straight about single-payer systems instead of this convoluted exercise in corruption now being presented by the Senate. This is what happens when you babble mindlessly about repealing a law that doesn’t make your friends rich, and prevents them from purchasing even more influence in the government. For seven years, the Republicans have been promising to “repeal and replace Obamacare”. So, one has to ask, where is the result of all your “hard” work? Clearly, they have nothing that makes any sense to anyone but those getting rich off of the sick and the injured. A 22% approval rating for the current bill suggests that it is actually written on a perforated roll.

    I’m looking forward to outcomes of all the legal machinations related to the Trump time of corruption, cronyism and utter stupidity. The 62 million people who voted for the President of Lies must be feeling even a little ashamed by now. If not, they will soon enough.

  13. Pence adheres to his faith as a matter of principle–much like Goldwater supported institutional bigotry,only out of principle. How admirable.

    It all makes sense. No wonder the Democratic Party is nothing but milquetoast today, it’s now overrun by former Republicans and Goldwater Girls!

  14. I love your work, just be very careful citing Satire Sites, because….credibility.

  15. Just ran across a current article from the Daily Beast, a liberal left publication per the Media Bias/Fact Check site, that outlines the folly of hoping and wishing for a Trump impeachment rather than concentrating on the design and implementation of a single-minded progressive agenda directed toward the next election. Hating on Trump does not enhance the progressive message and is unlikely to change the course of history.

  16. Today’s Democrat is much more upset that Trump has disgraced the Republican Party than the lack of genuine healthcare in the country.

    If you take away the supposed umbrage of Trump from the current DNC what does it stand for? More capitulation to the Republican side of the aisle. More capitulation to the donor/investment-class.

    Focusing solely on Trump,the Democrats don’t need to elucidate because beyond Trump and OMG RUSSIA! They have nothing.

    They’re so clueless,they’ll probably run Biden for pres in the next cycle.

    Fight Student Debt

    Fight Misogyny

    Fight Racism


    All one needs to do is play a video of Biden ruthlessly verbally attacking Anita Hill and the facade quickly fades away. Nevermind the fact that Biden supported his donors wrt the student debt/bankruptcy law(s).

  17. BSH; Trump is the symptom of the disease, Congress IS the disease. His certifiable mentally unbalanced state is working FOR them; as long as he signs what they put before him (do you really believe Trump has authored any of the bills or Executive Orders he has signed – and displayed to the cameras?) they will refuse to use their Constitutional RESPONSIBILITY to take any action against him. They have done a great deal of damage to this country in less than 6 months, without keeping campaign “promises”. We will not survive with government intact or salvage democracy for another 3 and a half YEARS without hard work and sweat 24/7. YES; we need to be working and planning for 2018 and 2020 elections but we must not sit idle while “concentrating on the design and implementation of a single-minded progressive agenda directed toward the next election”. Multi-tasking is necessary.

    The numbers of uninsured in this country quoted by the CBO is only looking at loss of currently insured. There will be many who will stop paying for coverage when it is no longer required by law; those who have low incomes and having a problem making those monthly payments will buy food, and those whom Pence has advised and convinced they need no health care coverage because the Lord will heal them, will raise the numbers drastically. The number of estimated deaths is also lower than the actual losses we will have if Trumpcare is passed in any form. The Lord does not provide money for monthly premiums nor does he maintain life in those who cannot afford medical care.

    Hoping and wishing for Trump’s impeachment is NOT folly; it is the road we must stay on as we work our way toward the next two elections. It is the rallying cry keeping the marches and protests alive. We are all on overtime without pay right now.

  18. JoAnn, I hear every word you’ve said, I respect the sincerity of your statements, and at the end of the day, Trump is still the President whether we like him or detest him. Focusing all time, energy, and effort toward hating Trump and hoping for an impeachment is an exhausting course that is reactive rather than proactive in nature. And, taking it a step further, what would happen if Trump were impeached? What then? Perhaps a moral victory but after the celebration, then what?

  19. Wingnut party of the last 50 years are not kristian, by any means. I am not religious, but wingnuts disgrace and mock their supposed lord and saviour I am surprised that a thunderbolt hasn’t wiped them off the face of the Earth.

    Wingnuts are afraid to go to their closets and pray in solitude to their lord, as he/she/it commanded. They are afraid to come out Gay.

  20. BSH; I never used the word “hate”, of course I hope for impeachment, that doesn’t mean I expect to get what I want, only that I won’t give up hope. If we get impeachment and Trump is removed from office what will we get; a pseudo Christian pastor who at least is against nuclear war and is too big a wuss to insult world leaders and have entire countries not want him to cross their borders. I would gladly settle for that outcome for 3 or 3 and a half years. In 2018 we can begin to clear out Congress and take back the presidency in 2020.

    Can I get an Amen!

  21. My uncle, now deceased, was a Major in the Marines in WWII. The medic assigned to his unit was gay, and we discussed this. He told me that this guy saved several lives, and no one cared that he was gay. He never tried to hide it, either, and the troops joked with him about it–not in a mean-spirited way, but in a way that gay men would tease other gay men.

    The point is, that no one ever asked military personnel how THEY felt about this. If they had, they would have gotten responses inconsistent with their conservative beliefs.

  22. Sheila’s commentary is spot on. One would think with a history of competing popes, papal corruption and Pharasaic marketplaces in temples through the ages leading up to money-grabbing TV preachers and the necessity of having ayatollahs O.K. legislation in Iran before such legislation is effective would be enough to persuade voters that this admixture of church, temple and mosque (and state) should be summarily dismissed in any consideration of public policy. I think a view of religion can be practiced without the aids of delusion and miracle, but that an apparently delusionary Pence would not agree. I think that he is not a religious-minded person but is rather a phony who uses religion as a cover. How could he otherwise possibly be so heartless as a politician and still pretend to be a follower of the gentle Nazarene who preached helping the poor and being your “brother’s keeper?” If he really is a Christian, when is he going to act like it 100 percent of the time?

  23. @Todd Smekens, I wholeheartedly agree. But I do see some rays of hope in the MSM e.g. Cuomo at CNN and McDonnell and Reid at MSNBC. I also like The Young Turks – an online news source that features a lot of milennial points of view. They give me hope.

  24. About Goldwater, theology and conservatives I ask Who Cares? Today Mika and Joe are enraged about DJT tweets. There is new news about removal of The Donald from the office because he is mentally and emotionally unfit to serve, that he endangers the USA and the World.
    The contributors to this blog can help to propel this movement.

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