Our coming theocratic hell: Look out, the right’s “religious freedom” push is just the beginning

Our coming theocratic hell: Look out, the right's "religious freedom" push is just the beginning

Charlton Heston as Moses in “The Ten Commandments”


Draw the line from Hobby Lobby to Indiana: Religion has dangerously infected our legal system. It’s getting worse

By now, it’s clear that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was crafted to empower piously bigoted entrepreneurs and companies desirous of freelancing with their own “Jim Crow for gays” restrictions, and to let them cite as legal justification for doing so their precious religious sensibilities.  The RFRA, said the original text, sought to give judicial succor to those who found that their “exercise of religion . . . has been substantially burdened,” or was just “likely to be substantially burdened” by performing services for people their faith’s sacred credos enjoin them to abhor (gays, in this case).  The ensuing uproar in the media and business circles compelled Indiana’s state Senate to amend the legislation to prevent its deployment against the LBGT community, but state Democrats are still calling for its repeal.

The danger, however, has by no means passed.  RFRAs already exist in 21 other states (in three of which, bills are pending to fortify them), and three more are considering adopting similar measures.  The RFRA just passed last week in Arkansas may allow faith-based discrimination; we now await a test case.

Yet the real menace to our priceless heritage of secular governance comes from the Supreme Court, which a year ago (in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby) ruled that corporations, on the basis of their religious convictions (yes, the Court decided corporations have those), can exempt themselves from the Affordable Care Act’s relevant articles and refuse to pay for contraceptives in their employee health plans.  (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent, warned that this was a “decision of startling breadth,” and she was right.)  If a case involving a new manifestation of such legislation (say, the Arkansan RFRA) ever lands before the nine-member Roberts Court, its five conservative justices will no doubt adjudicate in favor of the faithful – and against rationalists who hold that religion, in no shape or form, should be allowed to infect our legal system.  What is really needed is a federal LGBT shield law, but none exists.

Continue reading here…

Religious right’s next crusade: What they want to throw women in jail for now

Religious right's next crusade: What they want to throw women in jail for now

Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence, Mike Huckabee | (Credit: AP/Reuters/Susan Walsh/Michael Conroy/Joe Skipper/Photo montage by Salon)

Salon ~ Heather “Digby” Parton

It’s been heartening to see such a strong reaction to Indiana’s new law enabling bigotry against gay people over the past few days. A bright light is now shining on the cleverly framed “Religious liberty” movement and it’s going to be politically risky in the future for any officials to use the Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby” invitation to social conservatives to use a religious liberty doctrine to allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. This is very good news. The Big Money Boyz decided that it was bad for business and the only people to whom conservative leaders listen more closely than the members of the religious right are the leaders of corporate America.

Unfortunately, as you will undoubtedly recall, the Hobby Lobby decision, which for the first time granted religious status to a corporation, wasn’t actually about gay rights. It was about denying female employees health insurance coverage for contraception due to the employers religious objection. (The employee’s beliefs were not deemed to be relevant.) So far, there hasn’t been much outcry against that in Indiana or elsewhere. Indeed, in Indiana the clock has been turned so far back on women’s rights that they are now imprisoning women for having abortions. Yes, you read that right.

The case of Bei Bei Shuei, a Chinese immigrant living in Indiana came to international attention in 2011 when she was charged with murder under the states “feticide” law when she attempted suicide while pregnant. The law had been originally intended to be used against third parties who killed a fetus while intending harm against the mother but this shocking case was the first in the state to use the law to prosecute the pregnant woman herself. After years of legal fights Shuei, who served 435 days in jail pending trial, eventually accepted a plea bargain for time served. The prosecutor in the case insisted that they never intended to use the law to monitor the behavior of pregnant women.

That insistence is especially interesting in light of a similar Indiana case that unfolded under the radar as the whole country was up in arms over the new law allowing business owners to discriminate. A woman by the name of Purvi Patel was convicted of feticide and neglect of a dependent for what they called an illegal abortion. Irin Carmen at MSNBC reported on the case:

On Monday, Patel, a 33-year-old woman living with her parents near South Bend, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, of which 10 will be suspended. These prosecutors told msnbc that Patel had, in fact, been convicted of having an illegal abortion, which they said she had induced by pills ordered over the internet.

Ken Cotter, the prosecuting attorney of St. Joseph’s County, said one of Patel’s crimes had been flouting the state’s abortion laws.

“There are certain requirements that the legislature wants to make sure that you go through before an abortion is sanctified by society,” said Cotter. “If you don’t go through those procedures, then the legislature has determined that that’s a crime.”

In Indiana, failing to follow proper abortion procedures can get you 20 years behind bars. Indeed the prosecutor in this case told MSNBC that “[a] more accurate title [for “feticide”] would be ‘unlawful termination of pregnancy.’ He went on to fatuously declare that if the legislature didn’t intend for the feticide law to include “the mother or the person who is pregnant” they could have said so. (One wonders what other person he thinks might be pregnant other than the mother.)

Indiana is obviously a very conservative state and it would be easy to chalk these laws up to its particular tendency to use the state to advance a social conservative agenda in the name of “life” and “religious liberty.” Sadly, Indiana is not the only state criminalizing pregnancy. Prosecuting pregnant women for the death of their fetus has become distressingly common throughout America. The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law published a study called “Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States“. They found hundreds of cases of women being held criminally liable for the deaths or alleged endangerment of their fetuses along with forced medical interventions and incarceration of women for the alleged protection of the fetus. The authors of the study, Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and Jeanne Flavin, Professor of Sociology, Fordham University pointed out the strange legal terrain on which this is all taking place:

In almost all of the cases we identified, the arrests and other actions would not have happened but for the fact that the woman was pregnant at the time of the alleged violation of law. And, in almost every case we identified, the person who initiated the action had no direct legal authority for doing so. No state legislature has passed a law that holds women legally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies. No state legislature has passed a law making it a crime for a pregnant woman to continue her pregnancy to term in spite of a drug or alcohol problem. No state has passed a law exempting pregnant women from the protections of the state and federal constitution. And, under Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal.

Yet, since 1973, many states have passed feticide measures and laws restricting access to safe abortion care that, like so-called “personhood” measures, encourage state actors to treat eggs, embryos, and fetuses as if they are legally separate from the pregnant woman. We found that these laws have been used as the basis for a disturbing range of punitive state actions in every region of the country and against women of every race, though disproportionately against women in the South, low-income women and African-American women.

Here are just a few examples cited in the study:

A woman in Utah gave birth to twins. When one was stillborn, she was arrested and charged with criminal homicide based on the claim that her decision to delay cesarean surgery was the cause of the stillbirth.

After a hearing that lasted less than a day, a court issued an order requiring a critically-ill pregnant woman in Washington, D.C. to undergo cesarean surgery over her objections. Neither she nor her baby survived.

A judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion.

A woman in Oregon who did not comply with a doctor’s recommendation to have additional testing for gestational diabetes was subjected to involuntary civil commitment. During her detention, the additional testing was never performed.

A Louisiana woman was charged with murder and spent approximately a year in jail before her counsel was able to show that what was deemed a murder of a fetus or newborn was actually a miscarriage that resulted from medication given to her by a health care provider.

In Texas, a pregnant woman who sometimes smoked marijuana to ease nausea and boost her appetite gave birth to healthy twins. She was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance to a minor.

A doctor in Wisconsin had concerns about a woman’s plans to have her birth attended by a midwife. As a result, a civil court order of protective custody for the woman’s fetus was obtained. The order authorized the sheriff’s department to take the woman into custody, transport her to a hospital, and subject her to involuntary testing and medical treatment.

Advocates of banning abortion always insist they have no desire to punish women for having abortions. But the incoherence of this legal scheme indicates quite clearly what would happen if Roe vs Wade were to be overturned and the many state abortion bans around the nation were to take effect. If women are routinely being prosecuted for harming (or potentially harming) their own fetus in a nation in which abortion is a constitutional right, imagine what would happen if that thin protection were removed.

In the meantime, these Indiana style laws against feticide or “illegal abortion” are likely to be employed more and more in places which have made legal abortion very difficult to obtain.As Carmen reported in her MSNBC piece a Pennsylvania single-mother was sentenced to jail for ordering the pills online for her pregnant daughter because there was no clinic nearby. And the Patel case involved the alleged use of misoprostol, one of the two drugs used in early medication abortion which apparently is being used commonly by desperate women in places where they can obtain that one portion of the prescribed treatment. This is dangerous and backwards and has no place in a civilized society.

Women are being hit from all sides by the social conservatives. They are closing as many clinics that offer reproductive health services as they possibly can, they’re opposing affordable birth control on the basis of “religious liberty”, they’re using the legal system to enforce their own behavioral standards on pregnant women and they are throwing women in jail for “feticide” in a country in which abortion is still ostensibly legal. Since millions of women will have an abortion during their lifetimes regardless of these risks, this is leading to more dangerous self-induced methods without medical supervision. Many will suffer terribly. If one didn’t know better one might think this whole thing stems not from a beautiful love of life in all its glory but rather from a deep and abiding hostility toward women themselves, especially when they’re pregnant. Why else would anyone want to treat them so cruelly?

Mike Pence Spends 20 Minutes Lying To ABC News About His Anti-Gay Discrimination Law

Crooks & Liars

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Sunday insisted that people on the Internet had conspired to create a “misunderstanding” that a so-called “religious freedom” law was about denying services to LGBT people. But at the same time, he repeatedly refused to answer if it effectively gave Christians a legal defense for discriminating against same-sex couples.

“I understand that there’s been a tremendous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding around this bill, and I’m just determined — and I appreciate the time on your program — I’m just determined to clarify this,” Pence told ABC’s George Stephanopolous.

“So this is a yes or no question,” the ABC host noted. “Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment?”

Pence, however said that the purpose of the bill that he signed was to “empower” religious people.

And this was a pattern that would be repeated over the next 20 minutes: Stephanopolous asking if the bill allowed anti-LGBT discrimination, followed by Pence dodging the question.

“And so yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?” Stephanopolous asked. “Yes or no?”

“This is where this debate has gone, with misinformation,” Pence replied. “There’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you’re doing that, as well.”

“That was one of your supporters who was talking about the bill right there,” Stephanopolous pressed. “It said it would protect a Christian florist who — against any kind of punishment. Is that true or not?”

“George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two way street or not?” Pence opined. “I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. But here Indiana, steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.”

“So when you say tolerance is a two way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that it’s now legal in the state of Indiana?” the ABC host tried again.

And again, Pence deflected: “I’m telling you, George, it is a red herring and I think it’s deeply troubling to millions of Americans and, frankly, people all across the state of Indiana who feel troubled about government overreach.”

The Indiana governor added that he had no plans to add protections for LGBT people to the state’s civil rights laws. But officials had been “been doing our level best, George, to correct the gross mischaracterization of this law that has been spread all over the country by many in the media.”

“I mean, frankly, some of the media coverage of this has been shameless and reckless,” he insisted. “The online attacks against the people of our state, I’m just not going to stand for it.”

Pence said that he would be open to a bill that “amplifies” the current law, but “we’re not going to change this law.”

“A final question, a final yes or no question, Governor,” Stephanopolous pushed. “Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?”

“It’s a yes or no question,” the host added.

“Hoosiers don’t believe in discrimination,” Pence insisted. “I mean this is not about discrimination. This is about protecting the religious liberty of every Hoosier of every faith.”

“We’re going to continue to explain it to people that don’t understand it. And in — and if possible, we will find a way to amplify what this bill really is in a legislative process. But I stand by this law,” he concluded. “I’m proud that Indiana has adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Fox’s Hume Details How Right Wing Media Push GOP To Extremes

Media Matters

HUME: I’m not sure they’re calling the shots but make no mistake about it, Bill. These — some of these radio talk show hosts have real influence. They have a huge following, particularly in very conservative areas where they are most popular and where the many members of congress who inhabit those areas are not worried about being reelected if they can get nominated. But they are worried about a primary challenge that could deny them the nomination.

O’REILLY: And that happened —


HUME: So they’ll go a long way to avoid it and keeping radio talk show hosts off their back is one way of doing that.


O’REILLY: That happened in Indiana to Lugar. He was a very well thought of senator, moderate. And then a more conservative guy got the nomination. He lost in the general race. So you believe that in Congress, if somebody has to run every two years as they do, and they get on the wrong side of a powerful radio voice, that’s beamed into their district, because the guys are national, they can really do them bad damage if they promote the other guy?


HUME:  Well, look, it’s not controlling but it’s a factor. I mean, if you’re a pragmatic politician up for reelection, you’re looking at the landscape and you don’t want to a lot of problems. And you don’t — and in many of these districts the Democrats can’t cause you any problems. There are just not enough of them. What there are enough of is conservative Republicans and conservative Republicans around the country today are very disappointed in their party and its leadership. And they think that the control of the House of Representatives should have been able to give them much more leverage than they seem to have been able to demonstrate and they should have been able to do more with it. And so if you’re sitting over in the House of Representatives and some measures of defund Obamacare comes along and you think it’s a suicide mission because it might involve a government shutdown you’re going to be hesitant to oppose it anyway because you don’t want the most conservative — you don’t want the tea party and you don’t want the conservative radio talk show hosts on your back. That doesn’t mean they can defeat you but it means you don’t want it.

See video here…

World Trade Center, Built With Union Labor, Is Now America’s Tallest Building

Think Progress

One World Trade Center, which will replace the World Trade Center towers that fell in the September 11 terrorist attacks, became the tallest building in the United States this morning when workers hoisted a 408-foot spire atop it. At 1,776 feet tall, the building is now the tallest in the United States and the third-tallest in the world.

And, as American Rights at Work noted when it became the tallest building in New York, it was built with union labor:

It’s fitting: union members were among the first responders; union members served in the immediate cleanup; and now union members are part of the rebuilding.

Anti-union legislation has made its way across America in recent years, from Michigan to Indiana to Wisconsin. But unions were instrumental in building America’s middle class, in responding to the attacks on 9/11, and now, in rebuilding the World Trade Center in the decade since the attacks.

“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” project manager Juan Estevez told the Associated Press. “It’s a culmination of a tremendous amount of team work … rebuilding the New York City skyline once again.”

Men With Loaded Rifles Intimidate Moms Gathered At Gun Safety Rally


Think Progress

Several men with assault rifles and hand guns crashed a Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns National Day to Demand Action event in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday and stood silently as the state chapter of Moms Demand Action held a rally in favor of limiting the availability of military style weapons and universal background checks.

At least two or three men showed up at the rally site before the event began and engaged in a discussion about gun regulations with the group, two participants in the action told ThinkProgress. The armed men — who were later joined by another man carrying a hand gun and a woman who runs Indiana Moms Against Gun Control — insisted that they had a right to carry the loaded weapons:

Watch local news coverage of the event:

A member of Moms Demand Action said that she felt unsettled by their presence and said that the organizers would have to think twice before holding another event, particularly one where children could be present.

Members of Moms Demand Action also attended an event at the White House today, during which President Obama called on Congress to pass sensible gun regulations and urged the nation to remember the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Indiana Senate Candidate Mourdock: Rape Pregnancies Are A “Gift From God”

If Tea Party candidates keep making these gaffes, they will be obsolete before the mid-term election in 2014…

Alan Colmes

Debating his opponent, Democrat Joe Donnelly, Richard Mourdock said women who are raped should be forced to give birth because these pregnancies are a “gift from God.”

“I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”




GOP Front Group Suing States To Force Voter Purges

A screen shot from True the Vote’s website

This is going to get uglier than it already is.   For instance, Florida is a swing state and Romney must win Florida to even be in the running.  I suspect this is why they are playing hardball with the voter purge there and in several other states as well.

Think Progress

A Tea Party group is suing states to try to purge their voter rolls before November’s election. True the Vote, an arm of the King Street Patriots, has filed a suit against the state of Indiana, alleging that the state has poor “list maintenance” of its voters.

This suit kicks off a series of state-focused attempts by True the Vote, serving as a co-plaintiff with the conservative “watchdog” group Judicial Watch, to limit voter turnout this election season. Voter purges may be presented under the guise of fairer elections, but the idea of “cleaning” a list usually results in legal voters — overwhelmingly voters of color — being kicked off the rolls.

True the Vote’s agenda is clearly political, as can be evidenced from their website that lists Wisconsin’s recall election as a ‘victory’ (despite day-of claims of voter fraud) and Florida as an upcoming target. Other states on the list for lawsuits include more than half are swing states in play this election season:

According to a Judicial Watch investigation voter rolls in the following states appear to contain the names of individuals who are ineligible to vote:Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, and California. As part of its 2012 Election Integrity Project, Judicial Watch has put these states on notice that they must clean up their voter registration lists or face Judicial Watch lawsuits.

The Obama Justice Department has failed to enforce Section 8 the NVRA in court, having last filed a lawsuit to enforce voter list maintenance requirements of the NVRA in 2007. The current DOJ it is now opposing Florida’s Section 8 efforts to remove non-citizens from the voting rolls.

“This lawsuit is a historic step in restoring integrity to the American system of electing its leaders,” stated True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht.“Dirty election rolls can lead to election fraud and stolen elections.”

Attempts at “list management” aren’t quite as clear-cut as the press release makes it out to be. Florida’s recent tussles over voter rolls have resulted in voter suppression efforts — though it was technically aimed at non-citizens, those kicked off the rolls included two 90-plus world war two veterans. But while those voters were purged under the banner of protecting elections, fraud in the state is still less likely than getting hit by lighting.

Outrageous: Kid Sings “Ain’t No Homo Gonna Make It To Heaven” – Church Cheers (Video)

It appears to me that the folks that may not make it to heaven are those in the church teaching that little boy hate…

Class War Exists

The other day – Aphrodite wrote about these cute kids who talked about presidential history and one of them said basically he supported President Obama because gay people could marry.  And while that is something that IACWE supports wholeheartedly…the point was made and I think rightly so – we need to be very careful about using children as props.  I think it’s great that kids have a good heart…but at the end of the day – they will tend to support the position of the households they’re raised in.  You can find that video HERE.

And the ugly side of that coin is indoctrination in all of it’s nastiness.  Watch the video…and see how the church filled with adults ERUPTS with pride to see this young kid sing and no sooner than he says “ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven”…it was a deafening set of cheers.  That. Is. Indoctrination.

Courtesy of a local Indianapolis channel HERE:

“The Bible is right, somebody’s wrong. Romans 1 and 27, ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven,” the boy sings as congregation members cheer and clap. The video appears to show The Rev. Jeff Sangl, the pastor and founder of the church, according to the church’s website, laughing and congratulating the child after he finishes the song.


No Questions For Mitch Daniels About Indiana Voter Fraud

This is typical Fox News bull crap.

Although they have been incessantly talking about alleged voter fraud committed by Democratic voters, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace never mentioned a word  about Indiana’s voting issues in his Q & A with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R).


Although Fox News obsesses about (Democratic) voter fraud, the subject somehow never arose during Chris Wallace’s lengthy interview yesterday with Indiana Republican Governor Mitch Daniels.

Even though Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State, Charlie White – the man in charge of voting integrity – had just been convicted of multiple counts of  felony voter fraud.

Even though Daniels had considered re-appointing White if the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor (they weren’t).

And even though allegations have recently surfaced that Indiana’s Republican Senator Dick Lugar’s voter registration lists him at an address he moved from in 1977.

And if all that wasn’t enough to pique Wallace’s voter-fraud curiosity, you’d think that White’s recent accusation that Daniels’ own voter registration doesn’t match his domicile would.

But no.

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