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May 23, 2019

What separation of church and state? Religious right is pushing its dogma hard behind the scenes in Washington

Right-wing D.C. prayer group pushing Trump administration’s anti-sex agenda

Recently, a congressional staffer going about his business on the Hill encountered a couple of people who handed him a pamphlet with the scintillating title “Sexual Sin and the Aphrodisiac of Power.” Sadly, this was not a post-#MeToo effort to discourage sexual harassment in the halls of Congress. Instead, the document implored “legislators, staff and lobbyists” to adopt a strict fundamentalist view of sexuality, which holds that there is no legitimate expression of sex — including masturbation — outside “the confines and commitment of a husband and a wife (a male and a female) in the bonds of matrimony.”

Most urban dwellers, in Washington or elsewhere, have had these chance encounters with religious proselytizers trying to lure in the lost, lonely and emotionally vulnerable. But this was no random encounter with some true believer or doorbell-ringer. These folks were working for Capitol Ministries, a powerful right-wing group that is laser-focused on founder Ralph Drollinger’s goal of recruiting public leaders and leaning on them to impose the group’s far-right views on a public that overwhelmingly rejects them.

Furthermore, the group has been quite successful so far. As the pamphlet indicated, sponsors of the Capitol Ministries Bible Studies includes seven members of President Trump’s Cabinet, the head of NASA, and Vice President Mike Pence. According to Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way, who has been monitoring Capitol Ministries for years now, the group has weekly Bible studies for House members and senators, as well as one for Cabinet officials.

“[Drollinger] uses this really rare and privileged access he has by doing things like a Bible study with members of the Cabinet to tell these powerful public officials that the Bible mandates right-wing economic, social and environmental policies,” Montgomery told Salon.

This is evidence, he continued, “that the Trump administration is the culmination of the religious right’s takeover of the Republican Party over the last few decades.”

For instance, in a 2018 class, Drollinger taught his acolytes that “Government is meant by God to quell evil” adding, “Governments and their leaders must send a constant message that sin will be punished.” So the policy upshot of that message would be that Americans can believe whatever they want in private, but if they commit what Drollinger teaches is “sin,” they should face governmental punishment.

For example, Capitol Ministries counts Alex Azar, Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services, as a member. Under Azar’s leadership, HHS has moved swiftly to live up to Drollinger’s instruction to “send a constant message that sin will be punished.”

One of the first actions by HHS under Azar was to announce a dramatic remaking of the Title X program such that it can’t fulfill its central stated main purpose, which is distributing contraception to low income women. A leaked HHS memo implored employees to shift focus away from effective, female-controlled methods of contraception towards unpopular and ineffective ones, such as pressuring patients to use periodic or even total sexual abstention. HHS has also restructured the program to divert funds away from reproductive health clinics that effectively serve patients to organizations with less outreach or expertise.

In at least one case, HHS funds have been channeled to an anti-choice group that opposes the use of any form of contraception, so that women who depend on Title X for birth control can now get a finger-wagging lecture on the evils of fornication instead.

More at the link above.  Hugs




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