Fighting Tolerance

One of the (relatively few) bright spots in recent American culture has been the vast improvement in social attitudes about LGBTQ people and the laws addressing their status. It never made sense–culturally or constitutionally– to make the religious beliefs/prejudices of one subset of Americans the law of the land.

Of course, a fair number of our persistent “hot button” issues are a replay of that same  demand–the insistence by some Christian denominations that the law should require everyone to abide by their denomination’s religious convictions.

The progress toward equal civil rights for LGBTQ folks should not lull us into a belief that we can declare victory for “gay rights,” because it turns out there are still powerful forces intent upon turning back that progress.

The Guardian recently published a lengthy article about one such effort.

Titled “The Multi-Million Dollar Christian Group  Attacking LGBT Rights,” the article focused on an organization called–misleadingly–The Alliance Defending Freedom. (Of course, the “freedom” the Alliance is defending is the freedom to impose its religious views on others).The Alliance is described as “a conservative Christian powerhouse working internationally to remake laws governing family, sex and marriage in a vision which ‘keeps the doors open for the Gospel.'”

Their Gospel, of course.

ADF, which reportedly received more than $55m in contributions in 2018, claims to have more than 3,400 affiliated attorneys and judges worldwide. In the 25 years since it was founded, it has brought 10 cases before the US supreme court, including some of the most consequential cases of the last decade on contraceptive and gay rights.

ADF is, “an aggressive, strategic legal group that is about Christian supremacy and hegemony in the US and in the world,” said Frederick Clarkson, a senior research analyst with Political Research Associates. “It’s the world under God’s law.”

The group’s work against LGBTQ+ people has led experts on extremism at the Southern Poverty Law Center to label them a hate group. ADF rejects that label.

The Alliance gave us Hobby Lobby, and more recently, the case of the baker unwilling to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding.

The group was founded by prominent opponents of gay rights, including Jeff Sessions, and it hasn’t confined its activities to the U.S. (In the UK, for example, it is defending graphic signs used by anti-abortion protestors.)

In the last decade, ADF attorneys argued in favor of state-sanctioned sterilization for trans people at the European Court of Human Rights. Their brief argued, “equal dignity does not mean that every sexual orientation warrants equal respect”.

Gee–I guess we are not all “God’s children…”

The Alliance is one of the groups behind those misnamed “religious freedom” laws that have popped up in so many states– laws that would give businesses the right to refuse customers or perform services based on “sincere” religious beliefs.

The article notes that, since American public sentiment now strongly favors same-sex marriage, groups like the Alliance have focused on curtailing trans rights, and the rights of trans girls in particular, alleging various “dangers” their existence causes to cis women.

Interestingly, on the same day I came across the Guardian article, the Religion News Service  reported on the “Godly” behavior of some other “Christians.”

A California-based Christian college and the former publishers of The Christian Post and Newsweek have pled guilty in a scheme to fraudulently obtain $35 million from lenders, according to the Manhattan district attorney….

Earlier this month, William Anderson, former chief executive officer of Christian Media Corporation and former publisher of the Christian Post, and Etienne Uzac, former co-owner and chairman of Newsweek Media Group, each pleaded guilty to one felony count of money laundering in the second degree and one felony count of scheme to defraud in the first degree.

Anderson stepped down from the Christian Post, an evangelical Christian publication, in 2018. Christian Post Executive Editor Richard Land, a longtime Southern Baptist ethicist, was not immediately reached for comment.

The publication made headlines in December for publishing an editorial in favor of President Trump. That editorial caused a politics editor at the publication to quit.

Perhaps the pious, holier-than-thou” “Christians” who are so concerned about other people’s “sins” should turn their attention to the behavior of their own brethren. Perhaps, too, they should consider the possibility that immoral behavior doesn’t occur exclusively below the waist.

And so long as we’re being “biblical,” Isn’t there some passage about removing the beam from one’s own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else’s?


  1. ..and I suspect there rotten bastards are doing most of this in TAX EXEMPT groups.
    Just a hunch.

  2. So who does The Trumpet pick to be the Virus Czar – Pastor Pence.

    Mike Pence literally does not believe in science,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat. “It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of U.S. coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic. This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have.”

    Ocasio-Cortez pointed to Pence’s tenure as Indiana governor, where he she said his “science denial contributed to one of the worst HIV outbreaks in Indiana’s history.”

    “He is not a medical doctor. He is not a health expert,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “He is not qualified nor positioned in any way to protect our public health.”

    The Verge reported following Trump’s announcement Wednesday that as governor of Indiana, Pence “slashed public health spending and delayed the introduction of needle exchanges, which led to the state’s worst outbreak of HIV.”

    Gregg Gonsalves—a Yale epidemiologist who co-authored a 2018 paper connecting Pence’s policy decisions as governor to the 2014 HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana—denounced the president’s decision to allow Pence to coordinate the administration’s coronavirus response.

    “Over 200 people were infected with HIV in an outbreak, met with ignorance, bumbling, incompetence, and ideological intransigence. Two hundred needlessly infected, now on medication for life at great costs to themselves and the state,” Gonsalves tweeted Thursday morning. “Now Donald Trump has put Mike Pence in charge of coronavirus.”

    One thing The Trumpet can count on is a smiling and groveling Pastor Pence to echo what ever The Trumpet wants Pastor Pence to say – the perfect puppet.

    Now as far as vaccine for the coronavirus, it will be Profit over people.
    From Common Dreams Web Site:

    Members of Congress and advocacy groups are voicing outrage after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar—a former pharmaceutical executive—repeatedly refused during House testimony Wednesday to guarantee that any coronavirus vaccine or treatment developed with taxpayer money will be affordable for all in the U.S., not just the rich.

    Progressive advocacy group Social Security Works said late Wednesday that “this is what happens when you put a Big Pharma CEO who doubled the price of insulin in charge of regulating Big Pharma,” referring to Azar’s tenure at Eli Lilly.

    “Pharma and their friends in the Trump admin don’t care how many people die,” the group wrote, “as long as they get to make a profit.”

    So if you cannot afford to buy the vaccine, well Pastor Pence will be able to offer Thoughts and Prayers.

  3. “Mike Pence literally does not believe in science,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat. “It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of U.S. coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic. This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have.”

    Pence’s decision in southern Indiana was to stop all funding to Planned Parenthood Clinics to stop abortions; clinics which provided a variety of testing and healthcare for men and women. It was all part of his anti-abortion law but resulted in the HIV outbreak and rise in opioid addictions but we never learned how many young girls or women, his only targets, suffered health issues or even deaths due to forced pregnancies. His RFRA law is still inflicting religious intolerance in much of the state of Indiana not protected by special laws in only 11 populated areas. Pence is a health hazard now at the national level; part of keeping his promise to take his Indiana’s RFRA and total anti-abortion laws to the federal level.

    “The Alliance is described as “a conservative Christian powerhouse working internationally to remake laws governing family, sex and marriage in a vision which ‘keeps the doors open for the Gospel.’”

    The Trump administration is a major branch of that Alliance; how much of this is due to the Pence influence? How long will we TOLERATE this administration by not supporting voter registration and getting out the vote?

    “Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
    go ahead and cheat a friend.
    Do it in the name of heaven
    You’ll be justified in the end.”

  4. “Tolerance is the virtue of the person who has conviction.” Federico Mayor

    ” And he also told them a parable: “Can a blind man guide a blind man? will they not both tumble into a pit? 40 a pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone thoroughly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why is it that you can see the particle of straw in your brother’s eye, but do not observe the beam of timber in your own eye? 42 how can you say to your brother ‘Brother, let me get out the particle in your eye,’ when you cannot see the timber in your own eye? Hypocrite, first get the timber out of your eye, and then you will have good eyesight to get out the particle in your brother’s eye.”( Luke 6:39-42)

  5. Whenever I read or hear about the ugly bigotry of some Christians, I turn to All Saints church in Pasadena which is a very progressive Christian church. I listen to the sermons on YouTube. I was lucky. I had a Christian mother and sister who loved and accepted me when I came out to them. I never came out to my atheist, alcoholic father who was homophobic. Often those who most object to those of us in the LGBTQ community are themselves closeted gays. They have not even faced their own sexual orientation. They see us as an existential threat. They don’t understand that people are rapidly departing organized religion due to its inability to make Biblical teachings relevant to people in modernity. Many of those who depart scoff at their homophobia and their so call “pro-life” stance.

    I now fear that the very conservative Supreme Court and other federal judges will try to push us back to an era when LGBTQ people were regarded as perverted, sinful, etc. Well, they can try. Times have changed.

    And yet, there is still much work to do. We need protection against housing and job discrimination. And somehow, in this very Republican state, we need to help conservatives understand that oppressing LGBTQ people harms them as well.

    It is too bad that the millions of dollars wasted on trying to oppress gay people can not be utilized to help us deal with the corona virus and climate change which are definitely an existential threat to the whole human race.

    Oh the blindness of some religious people. They need to wake up. I pray they do.

  6. While sorting through conspiracy theories and trying to guess off what is in the mind of our demented leader and quite aside from religion and Pence’s past in dealing with HIV etc., here’s my latest theory on why Trump appointed Pence and not a scientist to head our response to CORVID-19.

    Trump wants first of all to look good – to be able to absolve himself of responsibility in case the virus continues to devastate Wall Street investors, so his appointment of Pence and not a scientist to head our response is so that Pence has the final word on the efforts of our scientists to make whatever their findings are politically palatable for Trump’s reelection, or alternatively, if Pence’s efforts tank, Trump can announce that he will have a different running mate due to Pence’s incompetence, thereby absolving himself for the continuing crisis and releasing Pence to the role of lobbyist for Bronze Age activist organizations such as Sheila highlights today.

    Trump, unlike his politicized ventures into national security and everything else he can politicize, is finally faced with a situation he cannot politicize, but he’s trying. Our task? 1. Remind voters that Trump has the primary power and responsibility for our response that cannot be delegated via such tactics, and 2. See #1.

  7. Tres simple. If the pandemic doesn’t happen, Trump takes credit. If it does, Pence gets blamed. The magic chemistry of ….Teflon!

  8. $64,000 question: Would the Nazis under the leadership of Adolph Hitler have appointed someone with the lack of credentials such as Mike Pence to lead an effort to control an outbreak like the Coronavirus? No. The answer easy. They had some redeeming value. This regime has none.

  9. Marv – apologizing first for being ugly – the Nazis would have appointed an expert …to ensure that the pandemic went directly to Jews, gays, gypsies, etc.

  10. Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, just on MSNBC, LOL, he says he has complete confidence in Mike Pence to spearhead the coronavirus resistance. Of course they brought out that VP Pence(Governor of Indiana at the time) completely failed with the HIV outbreak in Indiana, slow, way too slow to put in Effect the recommendations by health officials.

    Mike Braun sounded like a tick on POTUS’s backside, completely dependent on his life’s juices. Now all of a sudden, when their butt is on the line, they can figure out how to look towards science, talk about hypocrisy, LOL, ridiculous. Trump was just on worldwide television telling everyone how well he had everything concerning coronavirus IS under control, the very stable genius, I mean Genetically Genius Gene less POTUS, Definitely looks like the modern day Nero, completely insane, all while playing with his fiddle.

  11. Lester,

    I disagree. You’re not making any sense. You can’t control something like a Coronovirus to effect only a group or groups you dislike. Has Trump done anything like the Autobahn which Hitler started construction, immediately, after he took office in 1933?

    Let’s be fair and reasonable. This “present jerk” is the worst of the two. Just wait and see when he puts us all under martial law.

  12. Marv,

    I didn’t mean “only” – I simply meant he might be sure to insert an infected individual into those groups, already identified…

  13. Indiana had a “dump Pence” movement going when Trump picked him out of thin air. “Good, we thought, now we’ll never hear from him again” because whoever thought Trump would be elected (and of course he wasn’t) but here are, living our worst nightmares. And it’s getting worse.

  14. Mike Pence doesn’t believe in science? Yeah, I know people on here don’t like him, but that’s nonsense.

    I know Pence from law school. He was a decent, affable, intelligent, thoughtful and open minded guy. I know people on here like to view him as the devil incarnate, but that wasn’t reality. People on the right and left really liked Pence in law school despite some pretty conservative views. Pence’s problem post-law school is that he’s clearly sold his soul (and integrity) to the devil for political advancement. If he were acting on his own, I’d be comfortable with his leading the effort to deal with coronavirus. But that’s not how things are going to work. Trump will constantly be interfering and Pence, as lap dog, will constantly be trying to serve whatever idiotic thought crosses Donald Trump’s mind. Lester’s take is 100% correct. If the health crisis doesn’t happen, Trump will claim victory. If something goes wrong, he’ll blame somebody else…maybe not Pence, but what about Obama or Hillary Clinton? I know that wouldn’t make any sense, but when has common sense, logic and hypocrisy ever stopped a Trump claim?

  15. The religious freedom folks are more into religious suppression. They have battled within the religious community to split denominations and individual churches over letting blacks worship with whites, ordaining women, ordaining and letting LGBTQ people marry, and discriminating against other religions. Jesus weeps.

  16. Pence is being set up so that Trump can blame someone else for the failure of the gutted Federal government under Trump.

  17. Science is human knowledge which doubles every year now thanks to, among other things, science. People like Pence fell behind in keeping up decades ago and, like others with that limitation, are so surprised by that fact that they’ve given up on catching up and adopted mythology to create a pretend world in which they are informed.

  18. Pete, excellent comment @ 2:37 pm >”like others with that limitation, are so surprised by that fact that they’ve given up on catching up and adopted mythology to create a pretend world in which they are informed.”

    In a 2002, Mike Pence delivered a speech in the House of Representatives, a passionate repudiation of evolution aimed at continuing the common rhetorical device of evolution deniers: that evolution is just a theory and should be presented as such.

    It is unclear if Pence is either willfully or unknowingly misrepresenting the scientific definition of the word “theory”. In scientific terms, a theory is the highest designation of knowledge and represents something that has been rigorously tested using the scientific method. 98% of scientists surveyed believe humans evolved over time, so among experts, this is not a debate anyone is having.

    Pastor Pence does not know, understand or is willfully ignorant of the difference in Science between a Theory ( A Fact) vs a Hypothesis (proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation).

    I suspect that any further announcements on the virus will try to be controlled by The Trumpet and Pastor Pence. People in the government by this point know what happens to you if you contradict or oppose the The Trumpet.

  19. The Hitler virus is trying to forge an alliance with the coronavirus, not trying to stop it. Pence is the Hitler virus’s ambassador to the coronavirus world.

  20. Larry,

    Your thinking is in the right direction. We have three very serious problems: Trump and his supporters, the Coronavirus, and the New Strain of the Hitler Virus. All of which have the potential to join together in one enormous “tidal wave.” If that happens, we can forget it.

  21. Paul K. Ogden; “I know Pence from law school. He was a decent, affable, intelligent, thoughtful and open minded guy.”…who has forced his religious beliefs and bigotry on the entire state of Indiana in the form of laws. As far as I know; the voters in this state have allowed him his right to freedom of religion without hampering his practice in any way and have not tried to force their/our religion on him. Your old law school buddy is a religious fanatic who has had too much power for too long and has forced his religious views on Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists and those who opt not to be connected to any religion.

    I look forward to planting my “Pence Must Go” yard sign soon and will leave it till November in hopes that this time he goes away.

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