A bill in Tennessee would require women seeking an abortion to get the permission of the father first. If he says no, she can’t have it.
It’s a gift to sexual predators across the state. Naturally, it’s the brainchild of Republicans.
Now, SB 494 (and HB 1079 in the State House, sponsored by State Rep. Jerry Sexton) would give men veto power over a woman’s body, forcing her to give birth if he decides he wants her to cause her pain against her will.
At the hearing, if the man can prove that he is the biological father and that there is a “reasonable probability” that the woman would obtain an abortion, the court shall issue an injunction prohibiting her from terminating the pregnancy. Proof of parenthood requires only that the petitioner acknowledges paternity. A DNA test is not required.
If the woman violates the injunction by obtaining an abortion, the court may hold her in civil or criminal contempt. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Congratulations to rapists all across Tennessee. Pody and Sexton, both of whom are Christians, decided to reward you for your future crimes.
This is what happens when a “pro-life” mentality overrides common sense, basic human decency, and any modicum of respect for women.
The bill, if it became law, would almost certainly be deemed unconstitutional, but that doesn’t matter to Republicans because they will pass anything in the hopes that a conservative super-majority on the Supreme Court would eventually give them the victory they want.
Another case of a male Christian forcing his god view on others especially women. Hugs
In case you’re wondering what Republicans do when they have total control of a state legislature and no actual desire to make anyone’s lives better, just look to Arkansas. The State Senate just passed a bill, HB 1195, which would force women seeking an abortion to call a hotline and speak with someone whose only goal is to talk them out of the abortion.
The State House passed the bill earlier this week, so it awaits the Republican governor’s signature. It’s sponsored by State Rep. Jim Dotson (below), who hopes the bill will reduce abortion rates. But his method of doing that isn’t to provide more financial support to people living in poverty, or fight for contraception access, or support affordable healthcare, or do anything meaningful.
He thinks women are too stupid to make decisions for themselves and they need more obstacles in their path.
Dotson isn’t a smart man, obviously. So he has no way to pay for this hotline he wants to create. He just assumes it’ll be taken care of despite the multi-million dollar cost.
Dotson told the House on Monday that the legislation would cost $1.2-1.5 million, based on similar programs in other states.
The Health Department, however, told a legislative committee last week that it would cost between $4-5 million to develop and fund the hotline and connection to services.
The bill itself does not include any funding for the Health Department to create the hotline, nor does it fund the creation or expansion of any services for pregnant women or mothers.
He hasn’t thought through how to pay for his unnecessary blockade. But he did include a passage in the bill that would fine doctors $5,000 if they perform a legal abortion without first verifying that the woman called the hotline.
Dotson is a Christian who thinks his role in the state legislature is to advertise his faith wherever he goes. It’s never surprising when someone who broadcasts his faith also uses his power to hurt women.
In British Columbia, biology professor and science communicator Dr. Carin Bondar is running for Chilliwack School Board trustee on a platform that emphasizes inclusivity, respect for diversity, and — naturally — scientific literacy. She’s an accomplished professional who’s written multiple popular science books, hosted television and web series, and founded a charity to help support women working in STEM fields. She has experience working with students and herself has four children in Chilliwack schools.
But she’s a lady who talks about sex, and that’s made her a target for the conservative men who are currently steering the board… and the conversation.
Conservative groups have made much of the fact that Bondar’s field of specialization, by her own proud admission, is animal sexuality. Her Facebook page calls her “the world’s foremost expert on animal sex” and her web series Wild Sex — aimed at an adult audience interested in learning more about science — has been known to feature salty language, slinky dresses, giant dildos, and references to Fifty Shades of Grey.
It also features serious scientific information presented in a fun, often humorous format using everyday language for the lay viewer, but none of that is apparent in the video compilation her detractors are circulating on Vimeo, bearing the sneering title “Carin Bondar for Trustee Highlight Reel.” (The video has since been removed from the site.)
In case that didn’t make it apparent that the conservative contingent aims to discredit Bondar by sexualizing her, they made their objections even clearer earlier this week, posting a roadside billboard to publicly smear Bondar.
The billboard depicted a still image of Bondar lying on her back, dressed in a white tank top and matching underpants. Superimposed text asks the viewer: “Carin Bondar: Is this your child’s idea of a school trustee?”
The image comes from a video she made in early 2014 — seven years ago — entitled “Organisms Do Evolve,” a parody of Miley Cyrus‘ hit song “Wrecking Ball.” Bondar replicates some of Miley’s original imagery with tongue firmly in cheek: reading On the Origin of Species atop a pile of bricks, sensually licking a microscope, and showing off a hand-drawn Darwin fish tattoo.
It’s certainly not beyond the social conservatives to attribute malice and menace to anybody who so much as admits knowing what sex is, but given the composition of the current Board of Trustees, one can’t help but wonder if maybe the science is the problem.
Just over two years ago, the city of Chilliwack elected Creationist Darrell Furgason to the Chilliwack School Board in spite of his record as a Young Earth Creationist whose Worldview Studies Center teaches anti-evolution apologetics and calls it “critical thinking.”
Then there’s Barry Neufeld, a veteran of the Chilliwack School Board, who’s been extremely public in his opposition to the LGBTQ-inclusive SOGI 123 curriculum. He’s disregarded widespread calls for his resignation, even after provincial Education Minister Rob Fleming took him to task for speaking at an anti-LGBTQ rally.
Fergason and Neufeld don’t appear to bear any responsibility for the billboard itself. But they undeniably own a role in the tone of discourse that makes smearing a woman’s sexuality an acceptable tactic. They’ve whipped up a frenzy in an extremely sex-negative portion of the population that takes everything Bondar stands for beyond the realm of polite discussion, characterizing it as a danger to children.
The end result is this: a smear campaign predicated on the idea that a woman can be credible or sexual — never both — and on the idea that moral rectitude somehow rests on pretending that sex doesn’t exist.
But the culprit’s exact identity remains a mystery. Text on the billboard attributed it to a group calling itself “Coalition of Concerned SD33 Parents”… but there’s no officially registered group with that name, and they did not post any of the legally required identifying information, like who paid for the ad and which campaign — if any — endorsed it. Nobody asked the landowners’ permission before erecting the billboard, and no witnesses have come forward.
Elections BC is looking for leads; this is a serious violation of electoral bylaws. If a culprit is identified, they could face a $2,000 fine or possible jail time.
Bondar isn’t the only one who’s been targeted for special vitriol during the campaign period. Fellow candidate Adam Suleman says his signs have been vandalized, with racist social media messages leading him to conclude that “this is what happens when a brown man decides to run in a Chilliwack School Board by-election.”
Only in the hideous backwards world of the Religious Right could a school-board by-election create this much hideous drama and vitriol.
In conversation with reporters from NEWS 1130, Bondar says she expected better of the adults responsible for Chilliwack’s educational policy:
How is this setting an example for our students if we’re acting this way? It’s just not good enough. I also wonder what kind of message this might send to other women thinking of entering public office. It’s not what one would expect in an electoral campaign where we are making it about the issues and about the kids.
Unless, of course, your primary concern about the kids is that they remain obedient to your church’s interpretation of an ancient religious text.
A Minnesota town has voted to allow a white supremacist church to set up shop in an abandoned Lutheran church. They did it in secret, voting 3-1 in favor of it with the cameras on the video call turned off, and claimed they had no real choice in the matter. (Stephanie Hoff was the lone dissenter. It’s not clear which member of the council abstained from the vote.)
To make sense of this, you need to understand the “Asatru Folk Assembly,” a group that makes clear it’s an “ancestral religion” that honors the “spirit of our gods.”
But on their website, that seemingly innocuous statement takes a dark turn very quickly:
If the Ethnic European Folk cease to exist Asatru would likewise no longer exist. Let us be clear: by Ethnic European Folk we mean white people… Asatru is not just what we believe, it is what we are. Therefore, the survival and welfare of the Ethnic European Folk as a cultural and biological group is a religious imperative for the AFA.
It’s a religion of white supremacy.
Under their “Statement of Ethics,” there’s also this declaration:
Healthy families are the cornerstone of folk society and its strength and prosperity is derived from them. We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships. We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own. We believe that those activities and behaviors supportive of the white family should be encouraged while those activities and behaviors destructive of the white family are to be discouraged.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says the group operates by saying they’re just trying to preserve their heritage… and they need to defend the purity of their children.
Present-day Folkish adherents also couch their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity. At the cross-section of hypermasculinity and ethnocentricity, this movement seeks to defend against the unfounded threats of the extermination of white people and their children.
Back in October, we learned that the church wanted to open a “Midwest regional center” in the tiny city of Murdock, Minnesota. Doing so, many residents argued, would make their community the “hate capital of Minnesota.”
The church’s lawyer, Allen Turnage, said the claims against them were “lies”… but didn’t elaborate. He said they’re not a “hate group” because they don’t hate anybody… which is the same line conservative Christians use before supporting legislation opposing civil rights.
A church that bans non-whites from joining it, in the name of heritage and purity, is a hate group, just as white evangelicals who want to tear apart the legal marriages of gay couples because they “love families” are haters, just as conservative Catholics who would rather see pregnant women give birth to their rapists’ babies than allow the women to have access to birth control or abortion services are haters.
There was also a question about whether this was really a legal issue. This wasn’t even about religious liberty. The land the church purchased was meant to be residential. If they wanted to use it to build a church rather than a home, they needed permission from local officials. Voting against it wasn’t necessarily blocking a religious group from practicing their faith.
But last night, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the city council approved the group’s permit anyway, in part because the city’s own lawyer said they there would be legal challenges for rejecting the request.
“We as leaders of the city of Murdock want people to know that we condemn racism in all forms,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said before the council voted in favor of an organization that religious scholars have identified as a white supremacist group.
“There are certain constitutional protections that apply to religions,” [city attorney Don] Wilcox said. “I haven’t seen any evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption that they are a religion, whether you agree with it or not.
“There’s not a compelling interest in keeping that building from being used for meetings,” he added. “Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean they can’t do it.”
Just to be clear: The vote doesn’t mean the city council agrees with the church’s views; they just felt they had no choice here. Their lawyer even said as much. (Which is to say: Don’t send nasty emails to these council members.)
For now, residents opposing the group say they’ll watch the church closely to see if there are any violations of the permit; that would give them a tangible legal reason to shut the place down.
Until then, though, Murdock will unfortunately be known as the city where hate has a home — despite the best intentions of many who live there.
(Screenshot via Fox 9. Thanks to Scott for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)
This is a guest post by Rick Snedeker. He writes at the Godzooks blog.
Which should be granted primacy in America’s secular republic: freedom of religion or from religion?
It’s a daunting question that recently has even bedeviled U.S. Supreme Court justices, the crux of a compelling article by Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic last week, titled “The Supreme Court Is Colliding With a Less-Religious America.” The subhead projects how this “collision” might play out: The justices will intensify their push for “religious liberty.”
While most conservative analysts have cheered the Court’s moves in this area, centrist and liberal critics see the ingredients for a political explosion as the Court backs religious-liberty exemptions to laws on employee rights, health care, education, and equal treatment for the LGBTQ community.
“What we are seeing today is this effort to turn religious freedom into religious privilege,” Rachel Laser, the president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told [Brownstein in an interview for the piece]. Religious institutions and individuals are being given “the right to wield religious freedom as a sword to harm others, and frankly to dial back social progress in light of our changing demographics and progress toward greater equality.”
Brownstein contends that the Court’s decision last week rejecting New York’s COVID restrictions that apply to religious gatherings, using an apples to oranges comparison, is a harbinger of what may likely “become one of the coming decade’s defining collisions between law and demography.”
The demographic shifts to which he alludes include deeply sagging religious interest among young people and expanding secularization overall, plus steady decline in the past few decades of the aggregate number of white Christians in the populace, as well as Christians in general.
That contrast increases the likelihood of a GOP-appointed Court majority sympathetic to the most conservative religious denominations colliding with the priorities of a society growing both more secular and more religiously diverse, especially among younger generations.
In all these ways, “religious liberty” seems certain to become an even more crucial battlefield as the political cold war grinds on between a Republican coalition that mostly reflects what America has been and a Democratic coalition centered on what it is becoming.
The recent decisions by the Court’s conservative Christian super-majority, favoring religious freedom over civil rights, including cases absolving religious Americans from respecting the dignity of LGBTQ citizens, bodes poorly for future rulings, Brownstein warns:
In oral arguments on a case heard early last month, the Court’s conservative majority signaled that it is highly likely to rule that the city of Philadelphia cannot deny contracts to a Catholic social-service agency that refuses to certify same-sex or unmarried couples as prospective foster parents.
Citing George Washington University Law School professor Ira Lapu, Brownstein said that in Lapu’s 35 years teaching law he recalls having “never seen such a spurt of religious-liberty cases in such a short time, especially where over and over again there is a victory for religious-liberty claims.”
Browstein contends that the pace of such cases has proportionately increased as demographic shifts have made white Christians a minority segment of the population and “created the most pluralistic religious landscape in American history.”
This shift has been almost palpable. White Americans have hugely dominated the U.S. population for most of the nation’s history — enjoying a two-thirds majority as late as the 1990s — but by the second decade of the new millennium that traditionally predominant demographic group dropped to minority status for the first time, Brownstein explains, citing the National Opinion Research Center’s annual General Social Survey.
The Pew Research Center data on U.S. religiosity released in early 2020 ranked white Christians at slightly more than 40 percent of Americans, non-white Christians at 25 percent, and non-Christian theistic believers, 10 percent. Religiously unaffiliated citizens, including atheists and agnostics, now comprise 25 percent of the populace, which has surged upward from 17 percent barely 10 years ago.
One upshot of these social transformations is that white Christians — particularly Republican adherents — have coalesced behind a shared ethos of victimhood, where 62 percent of them claim they face widespread discrimination in these changing times, even more than African-Americans historically have and do still, Browstein writes, citing the latest PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute] American Values Survey. He quotes PRRI founder and CEO Robert P. Jones:
“I do think the sense that something is sunsetting, something is ending … has set off the kind of feeling of vulnerability, feeling of persecution, feeling of grief, all these things. Trump didn’t create them, but he has stoked those worries and concerns.”
Brownstein characterizes some Supreme Court justices as expressing a kind of snarky grievance regarding laws that appear to lean secular. Ultra-conservative Justice Samuel Alito insisted in a recent public speech that, “Religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.” Justice Neil Gorsuch, also a staunch conservative, was more expansive in his disgust:
“At least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” Gorsuch wrote. “The only explanation for treating religious places differently seems to be a judgment that what happens there just isn’t as ‘essential’ as what happens in secular spaces.”
But, of course, shopping briefly in a mostly uncrowded environment is far safer than packing shoulder-to-jowel into a megachurch, masked or unmasked.
Nonetheless, the jury, so to speak, is still out on whether the Court will end up favoring “what American has been” to “what it is becoming.” On prioritizing freedom of or freedom from religion.
It appears American Christianity and other theistic religions, as they have been for a long while now in western Europe, are trending in the direction of the flightless and now extinct dodo bird.
But it may take some time.
József Szájer had boasted of rewriting constitution to define marriage as heterosexual institution
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has condemned the behaviour of MEP József Szájer, from his rightwing Fidesz party, after Szájer’s participation in a “gay orgy” in Brussels prompted accusations of hypocrisy.
“What our representative, József Szájer, did has no place in the values of our political family. We will not forget nor repudiate his 30 years of work, but his deed is unacceptable and indefensible,” said Orbán on Wednesday evening. He said Szájer had left the party. He had already resigned as an MEP over the weekend.
Orbán’s government has enacted a range of legislation over the past decade infringing on LGBT rights, and Szájer boasted of personally rewriting Hungary’s constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual institution in 2011.
That made it all the more embarrassing when he was caught by Brussels police shimmying down a drainpipe to escape a gay orgy last Friday. Police raided the gathering as it violated Belgium’s coronavirus regulations.
In a terse statement, the Fidesz grouping in the European parliament commended Szájer’s resignation. “He made the only right decision. We acknowledge his decision, just as we acknowledge that he has apologised to his family, his political community and to the voters,” it read.
Prior to Orbán’s intervention, Hungarian ministers were tight-lipped when questioned by a reporter from the outlet Telex on Wednesday morning as they arrived for a cabinet meeting at a government building.
“Mr Szájer made the only possible right decision, and all the rest is his personal matter,” said the justice minister, Judit Varga. Other ministers ignored questions. A police cordon was set up to prevent the journalist from questioning any further officials.
Szájer, who is married, resigned unexpectedly on Sunday, without giving any reason. He made a statement on Tuesday when media reports about the orgy began to circulate. According to the Brussels region’s deputy public prosecutor, he was arrested with bloodied hands after a passerby spotted him “fleeing along the gutter” to escape the raid.
Szájer admitted he had been at a “house party” but said the drugs the police found on him were planted. He apologised to his family, but made no reference to the nature of the party. One person who knew Szájer said while the politician never discussed his sexuality, it was considered an “open secret” among Fidesz circles.
David Manzheley, the organiser of the party, told Belgian newspaper HLN that Szájer had come to the party as the plus-one of another guest. “I always invite a few friends to my parties, who in turn bring some friends along, and then we make it fun together. We talk a bit, we drink something – just like in a cafe. The only difference is that in the meantime we also have sex with each other,” he said. He added that guests had been “completely naked” at the time of the raid.
Belgian police have opened a case against those present for violating lockdown rules, as well as against Szájer for possession of drugs. But the “gay orgy” element is the one receiving the most attention, mainly because Szájer has played a key role as part of a rightwing government that has enacted numerous pieces of anti-LGBT legislation.
In 2011, Szájer boasted that he had drafted Hungary’s new constitution on his iPad, including a clause that explicitly defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He dismissed a question from a journalist who asked how he could refer to it as “a 21st-century constitution” when it did not guarantee LGBT rights.
Szájer said: “It depends how we interpret the 21st century. I don’t think that the traditional concept of marriage has changed just because we came into another millennium.”
In the intervening decade, Orbán’s government has gone further in its “traditional values” drive. Last year, senior Fidesz figures called for a boycott of Coca-Cola after it used gay couples in a Hungarian advertising campaign, while the country announced late last year it would not participate in the Eurovision song contest, with sources saying the contest was deemed “too gay” for conservative government and public media bosses.
Last month, as Hungary struggled amid surging coronavirus cases, Orbán’s government introduced a new set of constitutional amendments to parliament, including one that stipulates that, in a parent-child relationship, “the mother is a woman and the father is a man”. It also said that only heterosexual married couples could adopt children, with even single people requiring special ministerial dispensation.
The government’s justification for the amendment explained that “new, modern ideologies in the western world raise doubt about the creation of the male and female sex, and endanger the right of children to have healthy development”.
Opposition parties seized on the scandal as evidence of Fidesz hypocrisy, but leading government figures appear to have decided the best policy is to remove Szájer from the political spotlight and hope the scandal blows over.
In a programme on the pro-government Pesti TV, host Zsolt Jeszenszky criticised liberals for making “a huge political deal out of a sex scandal” and praised Szájer’s statement of apology. He also insinuated, as did many other pro-government commentators, that the scandal or arrest could have been a setup by unnamed enemies of Hungary’s government.
1/ Why does it matter that Viktor Orbán’s close friend and ally, MEP József Szájer was caught having an orgy with 20+ men? Very simple. While he was enjoying himself in LGBT-friendly Brussels, he made life for LGBT people in Hungary miserable by rewriting the constitution. THREAD
2/ After Viktor Orbán came to power in 2010, Szájer famously drafted a new constitution for Hungary on his iPad (yes, really), becoming the legal architect of Orbán’s regime. There was no consultation with the opposition or anyone outside the government.
3/ Here’s the English version of Hungary’s (Szájer’s) constitution. 'Article L' on "protecting the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman" was inserted, essentially making it impossible for gay couples to get married. But that’s not all.
4/ It’s not just about marriage – this part of the constitution on marriage and families became a reference point for future legislations aimed at restricting the rights and freedom of LGBT people. Moreover, it became the legal justification for Viktor Orbán’s culture war.
5/ Just a few examples (and I’m gonna be using lots of Guardian articles by @floragaramvolgy and @shaunwalker7 on this)… Most recently, a consitutional amendment was introduced that "would ensure that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children”
6/ In May – also following up on Szájer's original 'Article L’ -, Orbán’s parliamentary majority "has voted to end legal recognition for trans people (…) The new law defines gender as based on chromosomes at birth”.
7/ It’s not just about what is included in the constitution drafted by Szájer – it is just as important what’s lacking. For example, there is no constitutional protection against discrimination based on the grounds of sexual orientation.
8/ And then there is all the culture war going on, where the Szájer-drafted constitution always comes up as an argument against anything that is pro-LGBTQ. Look at this story from last year, for example:
9/ The whole anti-gay crusade became such an integral part of the Orbán government’s agenda that it started allying itself with some really weird and scary people.
10/ From last year: "Hungary will not participate in next year’s Eurovision song contest, amid speculation the decision was taken because the competition is “too gay” for the taste of the country’s far-right government and public media bosses."
11/ Recently, the government's anti-gay crusade reached new levels when even Viktor Orbán spoke out against a children’s book (!) with LGBTQ characters, saying that "there is a red line that cannot be crossed (…) Leave our children alone!"