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News nuggets from the la-la land of Christian nationalism 

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The floor of the Arizona Legislature in which a prayer circle is taking place
Photo from @tcani on X

One of the most bizarre displays of Christian nationalism in the past month was a “prayer circle” that took place literally on the floor of the Arizona Senate chamber, where a state senator and others loudly “spoke in tongues.” The embarrassing spectacle was led by Arizona state Sen. Anthony Kern on April 8, the day the Arizona Supreme Court approved a 160-year-old abortion ban. Kern was lashing out at “God-haters” who criticized the judgement.

Below follows a curated sample, by no means complete, of other recent statements and actions by Christian nationalists that show we’ve definitely entered la-la land:

— U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (who else?) tops the list with her absurd hysterical rant, blaming a rare East Coast earthquake — and the predicted and benign eclipse — on God’s wrath: “God is sending America strong signs to tell us to repent. Earthquakes and eclipses and many more things to come. I pray that our country listens.” Clearly, Greene is trying to fill the void left by the death of Rev. Pat Robertson, so notorious for his many ludicrous prophecies and predictions. For this and so many other reasons, FFRF Action Fund, FFRF’s lobbying arm, named Greene its most recent “Theocrat of the Week.” She could be “theocrat” every week, but there are plenty of contenders.

Lauren Chen, a Canadian-born political commentator, recently went on YouTube to say that she doesn’t believe in democracy — or letting women vote! She claims many on “the Right” such as her believe repealing the 19th Amendment is the answer to “the woman problem.” This fringe idea began surfacing in 2016, according to Time magazine, after a poll found that Trump would overwhelmingly win if only men voted.

— Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds declared April 13 “Iowa Religious Freedom Day,” signing this law on April 2 at a private dinner hosted by The Family Leader, a conservative Christian organization whose mission is: “Inspiring the Church to engage Government for the advance of God’s Kingdom and the strengthening of Family.” This group is an off-shoot of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and seeks to elect “Christ-like leaders and promote righteous policy that honors God and blesses people” and inserts “biblical values in government. In one surprising move, Reynolds actually mentioned the “nonreligious.” But please note in what context: “Our liberties are more secure when religious belief is both strong and free,” she proclaimed. “When people of faith and nonreligious beliefs can openly participate in public debate and when government respects our God-given rights.” [emphasis added]

— Tenn. state Rep. John Holsclaw, who previously sponsored and passed a law to add “In God We Trust” to the Great Seal of Tennessee, recently declared that “Tennessee is a faith-based state.” (FFRF, naturally, wrote him a corrective letter.)

— Dane County (Wis.) Supervisor Jeff Weigand, voted against a proposal to grant funding for the unhoused at an April 4 meeting, ranting: “Sin is the root cause. When God created this world, there was no sin, he created a perfect world, man ruined that by sinning, and we’ve seen the depravity and the decline of our world ever since then. So when we talk about the root cause, if you really want to go back to why we have mental health issues, to why we have greed, to why we have people being mean to other people, it’s sin. And until we address that issue, we’re going to continue to see this issue of homelessness and a whole slate of other issues in our society.” (Yes, he received a letter from FFRF, too.)

— LifeWise, a bible study program started in 2018, has grown exponentially and now “partners” with more than 300 public schools in a dozen states, reports NBC News. FFRF has tussled with it and issued warnings about it, by the way, and its efforts have ensured that at least some Ohio students have been kept safe from the program.

— University of South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley told reporters after a game: “If you don’t believe in God, there’s something wrong with you.” Following an Easter Sunday victory at a postgame press conference, she even added, “He is Risen.” FFRF got a lot of media coverage for our complaint against her, but she’s been doing this for years without any ramifications. There’s definitely something wrong with that.

— The Florida Legislature has appropriated $25 million for the Florida Pregnancy Care Network to “support services” to allegedly help pregnant women. The Florida Center for Government Accountability inquiries show “that what Florida women get from state-supported crisis pregnancy centers is a double dose of right-wing Jesus.” Religious groups getting the funding use ultrasounds to guilt women into continuing pregnancies sowing misinformation. Reporter Diane Roberts calls it “an ungodly grift” whose message is: “God wants you to have that baby: shut up, push, and pray.”

— FFRF nemesis Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters recently contended that his political opponents are waging a “civil war” against children and conspiring to topple religion, notes Politico. Walters has used his office to promote the nation’s first public religious charter school (a Catholic institution) and to wage war against the separation between religion and government. But here’s the interesting news: The Oklahoman reports that the Department of Education has lost 130 staffers since he became superintendent. We’re glad to see that many besides FFRF deem him unfit to lead a state’s education division.

— Walters isn’t the only Oklahoma official FFRF has asked to resign. We also called on Oklahoma state Sen. Dusty Deevers to step down after he claimed that federal law should not be obeyed if it violates “God’s Word.”

But reason, fortunately, still prevails. Let’s end with good news.

The Maine House this month censured state Rep. Michael Lemelin, after he said a mass shooting of 18 individuals in the state last fall and recent storms showed that God was avenging “immoral” laws. Those laws included a bill to protect health care workers who provide abortion or gender-affirming care from out-of-state-lawsuits. Lemelin said the shield bill was “inspired by Lucifer himself.” Rep. Shelley Rudnicki agreed with him, and both were, appropriately, censured on April 11 by their peers. Let’s hope some more public officials experience such peer pressure to quit using their offices to promote reckless Christian nationalist nonsense.

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One Response

  1. The item about Laura Chen was the main prompt for this but it relates to the others as well.

    In his syndicated column for January 2, 1995, George Will, the right wing’s version of an intellectual, wrote “‘Back to 1900’ is a serviceable summation of the conservative goal.”

    I want that quote drilled into the consciousness of every progressive, every protector of rights. Every time someone, anyone, like Chen speaks, we should remember that quote, recall the state of rights and justice in 1900 in the US, and remember: That is what they want.

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