The God Squad In The Courts

Rewire has a feature called “Gavel Drop,” with brief descriptions of recent lawsuits involving religion and the First Amendment, and providing links to longer descriptions of the parties and issues involved. This particular issue highlights the current (sad) state of “faith-based” America.

Allow me to share a few of the featured entries.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is now arguing in federal court to allow homeless shelters to deny services for transgender people. Downtown Soup Kitchen in Anchorage, Alaska, filed the religious freedom lawsuit against Anchorage earlier this year over the city’s nondiscrimination law; a case had been filed against the center after it denied a transgender woman admission to its shelter. The shelter director said that the woman was denied because she appeared drunk, but also that it would never accept a “biological man.”

In the linked article describing the lawsuit, ThinkProgress points out that ADF’s claim for relief  isn’t simply a request to allow this particular discriminatory act; it is a demand that the court overturn the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance in its entirety. It’s part and parcel of the Christian Right’s persistent attacks on any and all LGBTQ protections, in the name of “religious liberty.”

If a homeless transgender woman has to be thrown out into the cold Alaskan street in order to show proper deference to the religious sensibilities of the “Christians” who run the shelter, well, those are the breaks.

Speaking of religious liberty, the Gavel Drop also reported on this lawsuit from Illinois.

Illinois’ Fourth District Appellate Court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging a state law that provides funding to Medicaid and state employee health insurance plans that cover abortion services. Anti-abortion groups, represented by the Thomas More Society, are planning to appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

I note that, for these “good Christians,” religious liberty goes only one way: their way. Adherents of religions that permit abortion are to be denied the liberty to follow their beliefs.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates the hypocrisy of the “religious freedom” movement as piously promoted by people like Mike Pence and organizations like ADF and the Thomas More Society than this insistence that “liberty” means their right to have government impose their beliefs on everyone else.

The theologies of these “Christian” plaintiffs prohibit abortion (for them and for any of their neighbors); but those theologies evidently do allow flat-out lying in service of their “godly” goals. Their argument against the law included the repeated accusation that the measure promoted taxpayer-funded abortion services.

“Taxpayer-funded abortion” is a myth pedaled by abortion-rights foes that feeds on public ignorance about abortion funding. Two-thirds of the public is unaware the federal Hyde Amendment prohibits paying for abortions with federal Medicaid dollars, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Also among the lawsuits listed in the Gavel Drop was yet another effort to have government endorse Christianity by displaying a cross on public property.

The city of Pensacola, Florida, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and allow a large memorial cross to remain standing on public land in Bayview Park. Earlier this month, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court judge’s ruling that displaying the cross on publicly owned land violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The city of Pensacola is represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

These public monument cases are brought repeatedly, and just as repeatedly dismissed under a long line of precedents invoking the Establishment Clause. Not only do I fail to see how moving the cross to private property violates anyone’s  “liberty,” I fail to understand why the Christian Right is so dead-set on having the government endorse their brand of religion.

Okay, that’s a lie. I do understand.

They’re theocrats, just like the Taliban. They want government to post their symbols in order to remind the rest of us that this is their country, and the rest of us are just here by virtue of their forbearance.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really get tired of these people.


  1. Sheila writes, “They’re theocrats, just like the Taliban.”


    They are fighting the liberalization of society and our government. They are also in an ever-shrinking minority. And their outbursts and protests ensure their numbers will continue to shrink.

    It’s also why these mental giants stare at Fox News all day- bashing our liberal government and liberals (the Devil) is part of the territory. They also bash public schools because they teach science vs. bible verses.

    Fundamentalism is all fear based which is why they are so easily manipulated for political gain. I also think Pastor Pence is a showman or snake oil salesman. Much of his pro-Christian schtick is an act to rally the conservative right. Remember, these people do show up to the polls religiously to pull an R lever. 😉

    Voting against their self-interest isn’t a concern because faith overrides reason.

  2. Isn’t yesterday’s blog regarding the Gamble case, currently in SCOTUS, based on the same dual-sovereignty doctrine as the Alliance Defending Freedom action against one apparent public service organization in Anchorage, Alaska? Both are pitting Amendment I vs. Amendment X …or Amendment X vs. Amendment I, regarding religious rights of the people. The Alliance Defending Freedom is simply a more directly discrimination worded RFRA which rules PARTS of the state of Indiana thanks to Pence. When Republican Mayor Ballard of Indianapolis saw that Pence’s law would have a large effect on tourism here, he quickly passed a local “protective” ordinance, a Welcome Wagon for any and all to visit this city. Our Indy Pride Day was a booming success; but nothing has really changed when you get down to where the cheese binds.

    We have already seen the infamous “Cake Case” uphold the rights of one religious denomination while denying the religious rights of specific groups of people. Pence’s RFRA, anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ laws here will be enacted at the federal level as Pence promised during his campaign for Vice President. What then happens to dual-sovereignty doctrine regarding Amendment 1 and Amendment X of the Constitution of the United States of America? Will specific issues be handed to the ACLU to resolve differences of religious beliefs of organizations vs. individuals, state vs. federal; a Religious Cluster-Fuck at the national level?

    It is Kavanaugh’s Catholic religion at the basis of the current leading news item at the national level; whether directly named or not it is based against dual-sovereignty doctrine and pitting two Constitutional Amendments against our civic and human rights as Americans. There is more at stake in the Kavanaugh case (and it has become a public case in essence) than “he said, she said”. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s religious beliefs and political affiliations have not yet been made public – that I have seen.

    “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really get tired of these people.”

    Currently the eyes of the nation and the world have narrowed to Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh as “these people”; one woman with the current federal government suddenly against her in order to place one of their own on the highest court of the land.


  3. “Religion is the brainchild of fear, and fear is the parent of cruelty. The greatest evils inflicted on humankind are perpetrated not by pleasure-seekers, self-seeking opportunists, or those who are merely amoral, but by fervent devotees of religion.” Emmanuel Kofi Mensah

    All in the name of an imaginary character who created everything, is invisible and has super powers.

  4. “If a homeless transgender woman has to be thrown out into the cold Alaskan street in order to show proper deference to the religious sensibilities of the “Christians” who run the shelter…” those running the shelter are not Christians. It’s that simple. If they had taken the trouble to read the New Testament, they would know that Jesus would never have condoned their actions.

  5. These are the same people posting to Facebook about the high number of Muslims running for office and the potential that they’re out to install Sharia law in the US.

    I’d like to point out one other thing. The only people I know of who are “pro-abortion” are Republican legislators whose mistresses have gotten pregnant. Most of us who are “pro-choice” wouldn’t just choose abortion, but would choose life. The most fundamental part of the equation is “choose.” It’s probably just my bad interpretation of the Constitution, but I like to think that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons…” includes the right to decide what happens to our persons.


  6. Authoritarians lurk everywhere and are ready at any moment to jump out of any Bush (error intended) screaming “you stole my freedom” meaning of course that they demand the imposition of what’s best for them on everyone who’s not them (which includes you and I).

    Swatting at them is entertaining but typically unrewarding because they multiply like rabbits.

    You can’t live with them and can’t kill them so other strategies are required.

    I believe that one such strategy is to deprive them of all political power by voting for alternatives to that at every opportunity.

    BTW, DEET is ineffective for these purposes.

  7. “Get Tired’?? I’m exhausted! Pence nauseates me — that beaming, bobble-headed endorsement of Trump idiocy. Scary! VOTE BLUE

  8. OMG I heard a rumour that the VP that Agent Orange carries around is like my little dog’s best friend; a stuffed toy. I can’t get actual confirmation but as no motion or change in facial expression has been observed it’s a possibility.

  9. “No reasonable prosecutor would bring sexual assault charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh based on the public evidence, the prosecutor whom Republicans hired to ask the questions during last week’s Senate hearing said in a memo to senators.

    In the memo, which was sent to all Republican senators and was obtained Sunday night by NBC News, Rachel Mitchell, the deputy county attorney in charge of the Special Victims Division in Maricopa County, Arizona, said her “bottom line” was that “a ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove.”

    “The God Squad In The Courts” doesn’t even apply to the above copied and pasted section of an NBC news item on AOL. What we watched last Thursday and on Friday was NOT to “bring assault charges” against Kavanaugh. In addition to the “God Squads” in the court system, we should be concerned about having properly trained legal members of the judicial system at all levels. Mitchell; an Arizona Republican was reported to be a “nonpartisan” questioner in the “hearing”. Wonder what her religious affiliation is; we know her political affiliation and her lack of understanding as to why she was hired. Her few compliments to and about Dr. Ford’s strength coming forward didn’t ring true; obviously, she didn’t even understand the situation she was hired to oversee.


  10. “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott

    “You have to help another person. But it’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough.”
    ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

    Even with all the personality defects on display by President Agent Orange and his henchmen and a woman in the case of DeVoss, the bible thumpers still rally around him. This hyper loyalty by the bible thumpers makes sense. During my baby boomer lifetime I have yet to see any bible thumper’s take the lead on Civil Rights, or Human Rights.

    The bible thumpers are not only comfortable with authoritarianism, it is demanded of them.
    Definition of authoritarian
    1 : of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority
    2 : of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people
    It is common to think of authoritarianism in terms of secular government, however it is pillar of the bible thumper structure. I would include the Catholic Church here in the bible thumper category, since it is dominated and controlled by the male gender.

    This whole idea of the supernatural being, acting like an abusive parent, or negligent parent -Obey or go to Hell forever- is beyond my understanding.

  11. Fake Christians have turned ‘religion’ into a dirty word. Our younger generations have recognized the hateful theocracy of many churches and have been rapidly abandoning religions.

    They give me hope for the future of this country. They seem to be working diligently to stop the Christian Taliban.

  12. Excellent, excellent column and comments. JoAnn, your post “Her few compliments to and about Dr. Ford’s strength coming forward didn’t ring true; obviously, she didn’t even understand the situation she was hired to oversee” is so true about Rachel Mitchell. Bravo!

  13. Yes, fear, guilt, institutionalized ignorance and total obedience to authority are the basis for religions of all types. In today’s America, hypocrisy is the norm. Politics thrive on these faults in human logic and behavior. Republican politics exploit them, because power and control is their only real philosophy. They will do and say anything to get that power, then foist their own principles on everyone else…just as churches do. Those principles: Money for the rich. Wealth for the corporations. More money. POWER.

    These are the things that have crushed every great society in all of history. These will be the things that will crush our great American dream and hope for humanity…the last, best chance for humanity to intelligently govern itself.

  14. The author admits that he/she is a liar. The apostle Paul said, ” I got you here by deceit, and guile…”
    This PROVES that the author, JUST LIKE the alphabet people who don’t know whether they want to stand up , or sit down to take a pee and are just trying to make their confused sexuality a political issue Is in an aberated state of mind.
    Do you support transsexuals going into 1st grade classes and teaching that it’s OK to CHOOSE their gender ? They then have the little first graders TUCK dollars in to their G-strings. This IS happening now. It started in Vancouver , BC, and is spread across Canada , and in the U.S. starting where else , but in that NEW country called California.
    This is being reported Everywhere but in the Mainstream Prestitue Media. WAKE UP people.

  15. Mark,

    Oh My!

    You obviously have been shamelessly brainwashed by the lies spewed by Fox Noise and Brietbart. Heaven help the rest of us who are intelligent enough and strong enough to refuse to be manipulated by those fake Christians and devilish Nazis that know how to appeal to your desire for bias confirmation.

  16. Mark; spoken like a true Trump/Pence/DeVos Republican, evangelical, right-wing, Facist who has no idea what transgender means or that sex education is NOT taught to first graders or in most of any American schools. I would much prefer a licensed teacher who is straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer to teach my grandchildren and great grandchildren than any of the three named above. Or Kavanaugh or Rachel Mitchell, McConnell, Ryan, Graham…but the list is too long to continue.


  17. Mark, >> This IS happening now. It started in Vancouver , BC, and is spread across Canada , and in the U.S. starting where else , but in that NEW country called California.
    This is being reported Everywhere but in the Mainstream Prestitue Media. WAKE UP people. <<<

    You must be talking about UFO sightings and UFO abductions. The mainstream McMega-Media are ignoring the crop circles, actually grass circles in my front yard. Where is Mulder and Scully when you need them???

  18. I am more charitable toward those who believe in God than some on this blog, but even so the extreme behavior of what I would term “the Republican sects” of Christianity is both deceitful and hateful and has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ–or for that matter–the Buddha, Lao-Tsu, Mohammed et. al., etc.

    The above characterization as Taliban equivalents is not unfair it seems to me. There is a history of attacks on abortion clinics, the murder of abortion doctors, the defacing and destruction of synagogues, etc. Evangelicals are horrified when accused of this, huffing and puffing and citing scripture they do not understand for purposes it was never intended. I have spoken and written the following on many occasions and it is more true than ever today: “The most terrifying words in the English language are these, ‘I’m a good Christian, but.'”

    It is the self-identified “good Christians” who caused me to leave the pulpit in disgust after 17 years.

    Having said all that I must gently chide my friends who label the genuinely held beliefs of some Christians as stupid. Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to a young admirer of his, cautioned that person not to publish a paper “debunking” (my word) religion as potentially harmful as it would undermine the belief systems of some good and well-meaning people, leaving them without a support system that they truly needed, and, it may be that the historian Procopius (490?-554 AD) put things in their proper perspective with this quote:

    “ . . . I hold it a sort of mad folly to research into the nature of God. Even human nature cannot, I think, be precisely understood by man; still less so can the things which appertain to the nature of God. So let me shun this peril and pass these questions by in silence, if only to avoid casting doubt on things revered.” (The Wars of Justinian)

    Finally: The “Christian right” is, in my opinion, neither Christian or right and must be opposed. They are a self-serving hateful bunch and to grant them legitimacy is absurd and suicidal.


  19. Wray,

    Re your comment:
    “The “Christian right” is, in my opinion, neither Christian or right and must be opposed. They are a self-serving hateful bunch and to grant them legitimacy is absurd and suicidal.”

    This statement describes them perfectly. Thank you!

    BTW – would you mind telling us what hateful denomination you were in that caused you to leave the pulpit?

  20. Nancy

    Thank you. The denominations I served were fairly liberal; Methodist and United Church of Christ. My problems were with a few bigots within the congregation not with the denominations themselves. The UCC us openly liberal, while the Methodists waver between liberal and, “I don’t want to give up the past.” LOL Mostly they leave you alone. I appreciated that.

  21. Wray,

    Thanks for answering my question. I actually grew up in both of those denominations and can say that UCC was better in my experience. A few years ago when the denominations were trying to figure out if they would accept LGBT people, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. It seemed so “unChristian” to me to even be considering such a hateful question. I was done.

  22. Wray and Nancy,
    Although they have no creed, the Unitarian Universalist accept LGBT people. In northern Indiana there are congregations in Ft. Wayne, Elkhart and South Bend. You may already be aware of it but I thought I would mention it in case you weren’t.

  23. I too am so tired of Christians who want the government to take sides – THEIR denominational side – and I’m a Christian. I also am tired of hateful people who call themselves Christians.

    Just to set the record straight, Jesus commanded us to love, not hate. And he said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s (separation of church and state). Those who sought a Messiah so wanted one who would take over the government and rescue them from government oppression. Jesus rescued souls instead.

  24. Of course, “Mark” didn’t care to share with us which or what “news” sources –” Everywhere but in the Mainstream Prestitue Media” — are reporting on this moral outrage. Now, isn’t that a surprise?

    I can only assume “Mark” was so beside him or herself in anger and moral outrage over the image of little first graders tucking dollar bills into transsexuals’ G-strings in school that he/she wasn’t able to spell “Prostitute” correctly. “Mark” also seems to be a bit confused about what it means to be a “transsexual” person. But I guess that’s not surprising either. Just part of those awful “alphabet people.”

    My guess, if there really are any non-mainstream, non-“Prestitue Media” sources reporting that this is happening right now — a quick Google search failed to turn up any — they would be the same ones that falsely reported that Hillary and other prominent Democrats were running a child sex ring out of the basement of a pizzeria in Wash. D.C. And we all know that “Whopper” was swallowed whole by the true believers to the extent that one of them armed himself and went and shot up the pizzeria! Actually I understand that there are still those who believe it’s true.

  25. Is there a reason why DT can pick and choose items for the scope of the FBI’s investigation? Isn’t that THEIR business?

  26. While Christ didn’t live long enough to formally come out of the closet, he did spend as much time as possible with male companions, none of whom were known to fraternize with the opposite sex. Deep inside the souls of the Jerry Falwell think alikes, there is a fear that some evidence may come to light to show that Jesus not only approved of the people today’s evangelicals claim to hate, but he may have held them in esteem. God forbid!

    But to me they seem to spew their venom in directions that – when successful – lead always to more power over others. I can’t find where in the Bible that policy is advocated, but today it ranks second only to the acquisition of wealth as the chief desire of the most vocal of the faithful. The Catholic Church is the leader in persuading its victims that it must be disestablished. Evangelicals aren’t far behind.

    Could there possibly be a cleaner solution to the problem of separation of church and state than convincing people that their self-interest lies in reason and logic and not in superstition and wish-fulfillment? They’ve had more than two millennia to make their point, and, so far, all they’ve shown is that you can fool some of the people all of the time.

  27. And NOW youi know – “Why” I am not a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Catholic… I refer to myself as a Pagan – because I am of a truth a ‘forest dweller’ – I have a faith. I don’t force it on others but I do try to direct them to something of substance and reason and that is solidly based on a mathematical principle. BUT FOR GOD-GODDESS’S SAKE!!! I am a human being like every other human being on the face of this Earth, when others hurt – I feel it! It never ever leaves me. Some call it empathy and compassion – I call it realizing – we really are ONE. Some of us are stupid, some of us are totally reprobate of any humanity, and some are just Menches! People you could walk up to and shake hands with or give a hug just for them being them. I don’t care what you claim for ‘religion’ or gender! Why should I, I am an ordained minister without congregation devoting myself to scholarly study, granted, but how can I not care what is happening to any of us that is unjust, indecent, mean or against all human dignity as well as human rights! To me that is unconscionable. People who are claiming to be adoring of a god that created our species – To say they all claim to worship the same ‘god’ – well in a way, yes they do – but THAT god resides in hell.

  28. By definition I am an ultra left wing radical liberal hippie freelove pot smoking Democrat.
    BUT – I have sense enough to know that everything that the Don advocates relating to national , and INTERNATIONAL security issues are a guarantee that I can STAY that way unhindered.
    For those who feel ok with their 1st graders tucking money into their teachers g- strings , and don’t find it on Google just remember that like Apple and others , GOOGLE has moved its corporate HQ to China , and now censors as per THEIR guidelines , and whims.

  29. Terry, the culture of 2nd Temple Judaism in the 1st century CE was much different than our current times. There is no reason to think that Jesus was in the closet — or that he just hung out with men. He had many female followers, mostly widows I believe. Some are named. That most women could not actually follow him around, and that he would never think of appointing a woman as a disciple is purely cultural. In fact, many women in the early church were leaders, it wasn’t until there was real power to be had that men started stating things like, “Women must be silent & women must obey their husbands.” And, that was not Paul stating it, it was Psuedo-Paul — people writing letters in Paul’s name, to either honor what they thought were his teachings, or to give their own more weight.
    Wray — it’s been many years since I’ve actually read up on this… if I’ve made some mistakes, please let me know.

  30. mark, and yet, you still don’t share links to this important ‘news’ with us. How are we supposed to ‘feel’ about something we don’t believe? If it’s true, if it’s “out there” in some hidden place, expose it! Tell us where we can see it, read about it, hear a news report of it – either here or in Canada. And if you can’t, then I suggest you keep your conspiracy theories to yourself, or share them on a site that is generally populated by others of your ilk.

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