Saturday, December 02, 2017

A Guest Post-- And A Warning-- From Frank Schaeffer On The Coming Theocratic Takeover Of America


You may be aware that author and film-maker Frank Schaeffer is currently traveling around the country filming progressive candidates who are running for Congress next year. He started in Wisconsin with Randy Bryce, drove to North Carolina, then the OC and just finished with Jared Golden in Maine. (Next stop may be Texas.) Meanwhile his latest book, Letter to Lucy, just came out and he's been tweeting up a righteous and worthwhile storm on a daily basis. Yesterday, Frank published a treatise, America Stands On The Brink Of An Evangelical/Catholic-Imposed Theocracy All In The Name Of “Religious Freedom”…And Trump's Judicial Picks Will Be The Sole Arbiters. He agreed to let us publish it as DWT guest post as well.
A GOP theocracy coup against checks and balances is gaining momentum through Trump’s court picks. Trump’s legislative failures are in the news but his far-right theocracy-facilitating judicial appointments are the bigger story.

Trump’s picks will have a lasting outsized impact on American life. Trump has many judicial vacancies to fill because the GOP anti-Obama-obstruction worked.

Trump doesn’t care about the religious right’s agenda but since he has ceded the selection of judges to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, ultra-right groups that do care, the religious right is literally being put in power in ways most Americans don’t seem to understand. I do understand because in the 1970s and 80s I helped craft this plan.

We’re well on the way to making Evangelical Sharia Law permanent. Trump’s Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation judges will roll back the expansion of civil rights and civil liberties that have developed over the past seven decades. Women, gays, blacks-- beware. America is headed for Saudi-style repression and religious theocracy in the name of “religious liberty.”

What’s been astounding in filling the open seats left because of GOP- Obama obstruction is the rapid pace of committee hearings and confirmations for Trump’s Federalist Society-Heritage Foundation far-right religious extremist judicial nominees. The breakneck pace is unprecedented. This is not a coincidence. It fulfills a dream hatched by my late father Francis Schaeffer and me. We crafted this in Dad’s book A Christian Manifesto (1983). It sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The media paid no attention.

The ideological evangelical/conservative Catholic extremism of Trump’s Federalist Society-Heritage Foundation appointments should alarm anyone not willing to live in what will amount to an American version of Iran. The nominees are deeply conservative and often unqualified. No one on the right cares about their lack of qualifications because they will reverse abortion rights, gay rights, voting rights and affirmative action.

One of Trump’s judicial nominees has supported “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth and supported legislation that would allow employers to discriminate against gay employees under the guise of religious liberty.

Another Trump judicial nominee called Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute” for supporting gay rights.

Another Trump nominee stated that being Muslim is synonymous with being a terrorist and called transgender children “part of Satan’s plan.”

Theocracy looms. Put it this way: Mike Pence’s Francis Schaeffer inspired ideology looms!

A memorandum made public last week proposed a court-packing plan that will give Trump hundreds of new appointments to the federal judiciary. These partisan religious right picks will make the federal judiciary a theocracy stronghold that won’t shift for decades.

Remember that facts don’t matter here anymore than judicial pick’s qualifications. Trump doesn’t deceive his followers rather he creates an environment in which whether something is true or not becomes irrelevant. All that matters is if it feels good for a moment. And Trump’s white evangelical supporters crave winning the culture wars I helped start-- even while Trump’s GOP shafts them by raising their taxes to make rich GOP donors richer.

And nothing distracts (middle-class voters from the fact their Medicare is about to be cut) better than sharply focused hate. “Those most powerful in society have always been able to wield religious freedom arguments for their own interests,” says Tisa Wenger, associate professor of American religious history at Yale.

The Christian right’s religious freedom talk is designed to be a distraction as used by Trump. But there is an underlying reality: Religious conservatives are set to impose their cultural mores on broader society.

Trump’s borrowed theocracy policy began gradually in the late 1970s and ’80s, following Roe v. Wade. My dad Francis Schaeffer and I led the way on this with C Everett Koop who then became Ronal Reagan’s surgeon general. Forty years later the white evangelicals gave us Trump out of frustration because their agenda wasn’t winning. Now it is! And I found myself writing these words in my new book, LETTER TO LUCY-- A manifesto of creative redemption in the age of Trump, fascism and lies:
“I ask myself these questions silently and inwardly: How may I atone for helping to poison America with certainty addiction? How do I defend my grandchildren against the religious right juggernaut I helped create? How do I reject what my parents stood for (fundamentalist fanaticism) and yet honor the love they gave me? How can I help my grandchildren stumble upon the goodness of life before they’re sold towering mounds of brain-damaging garbage? How do I help save the world? (And what kind of deluded messianic fool am I to believe that this is even possible?)”
Evangelicals and conservative Catholics settled on a highly effective framing of “religious freedom” painting any participation in (or association with) gay rights or abortion as an infringement on their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” As I describe in Letter to Lucy, Dad and I began this strategy in reference to taking away women’s abortion rights as a matter of Christian “conscience.”

Evangelicals and conservative Catholics have successfully taken what we did and 40 years later are framing their opposition to gays and abortion rights in a compelling way making freedom of conscience their claim but ALSO forcing their religious fundamentalism on millions of Americans-- in fact on the majority-- who have no connection to extremist religious beliefs. This is tyranny.

“Religious freedom” litigation in the 21st Century has increasingly attempted to expand the definition of what may be considered a religious practice. A ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop against gays would expand this sphere to the very gates of theocracy. And this is just a foretaste of what Trump’s deluge of court-packing appointments will do.

With legal recognition for LGBT people Trump’s evangelicals are recycling the “religious freedom” argument to oppose gay and women’s rights. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a “Christian” legal nonprofit is leading the way imposing theocracy as “religious freedom.” It models its strategy on the Christian legal groups Dad inspired in the 1980s like the Rutherford Institute.

Just as evangelicals today use the arguments Dad and I forged against legal abortion rights to bash gays, so too using the “religious freedom” evangelical argument white supremacists will soon also be using religious exemption non-discrimination laws. Their plan will be to facilitate the resurgence of Nazis and white supremacist activities as above the law, exempted from restraint because bigotry too will be a religious right. Trump’s far-right white judges will rule in their favor.

Given the highly effective Evangelical/Catholic legal framing of “religious freedom” Dad helped invent, look for Nazis and white supremacist (Trump’s “good people” carrying torches) working on rulings in favor the right to a faith-based Nazi hate bubble. Anti-Semitism is also a Christian tradition!

Bedrock American religious liberty ideals have been used to justify imperialism, racism, slavery, misogyny, and (recently) anti-LGBT animus. Trump’s far-right religious zealot judicial picks will soon be deciding cases in favor of overt discrimination as a bedrock all-American “religious freedom.”

Despite the long history of Supreme Court adjudication of religious freedom claims, the precise nature of what the Court considers to be a legitimate faith-based issue used to vary widely. It’s now tilting to the far theocratic right.
Goal ThermometerI want to add one thing to what Frank has to say. Trump will continue nominating reprehensible and dangerous judges for as long as he's in the White House and the Senate will continue rubber-stamping confirmations for as long as the Republicans control the Senate. It's absolutely crucial to defeat every Republican senator up for reelection in 2018. Every one of them has rubber stamped every single Trump nomination, regardless of their lack of competence. The Democrats you'll find by tapping on the ActBlue 2018 senatorial thermometer on the right are vetted progressives who can be counted on to fight against the spread of theocracy. Replacing Ted Cruz with Beto O'Rourke in Texas is especially important-- as is going to the wall to reelect incumbents Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Sherrod Brown in Ohio. The health of what's left of our democracy depends on it.

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At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been 'coming' for 4 decades. In fact, Rs have won literally thousands of elections in that time running on both religion and hate, which go hand-in-hand in the usa.

Given the constitutional injunction on the natural end point of all of this, one might wonder how we americans can allow such a purely evil thing to happen.

well, it's not all that complicated. We americans are the 2nd or 3rd most delusionally religious (and intolerant) society on earth. So the third who have elected all those thousands of Rs actually yearn for this evangelical caliphate.
The other third who vote are indifferent to it, so goddamn stupid are they that they fail to see the pure evil in government enforced puritanism. And the last third never vote because there isn't anyone or anything useful to vote FOR (that has a prayer of ever happening).

When you let the lowest third on the totem pole select your government for you, you tend to end up ratfucked and forced to pray to their deity for more.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Religion requires that anything factual be disdained in favor of "faith". It is NOT a coincidence that America is declining in factual topics like math and science while home-schooled religious types dominate society more and more. We as a nation are headed in reverse while the rest of the world is attempting to meet the future. There will be blood. Humanity just might die, and it won't be at all like Revelations.


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