The Anti-Fred is dead. Look for the helpers.


The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder and longtime leader of the Westboro Baptist Church and the crafter of its gospel of hate, has died. He was 84.Phelps' public persona perversely served one useful function. He provided a handy superlative for hate and bigotry, one that served as a warning sign and guardrail for other, slightly less exuberant haters, and that helped to refute their absurd claims of "persecution." Fred Phelps lived and died a free man. That fact proves -- proves, beyond any shadow … [Read more...]

A wolf in wolf’s clothing: Reviving the ‘religious liberty’ to hang Quakers in Boston Common


The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona issued a strong statement* last week condemning the anti-gay bill eventually vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. "Who among us doesn't want to support religious freedom?" Bishop Kurt Smith wrote, condemning the bill's dishonest "guise of religious freedom" as a "wolf in sheep's clothing that masks discrimination under a veneer of piety."That's true as far as the very generic language of "religious liberty" used by promoters of these bills. But as soon as they get more … [Read more...]

Scenes from the Class War

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"These men who rigged the rules of the game to make themselves obscenely wealthy are trying to convince themselves, and us, that they're entitled to those rewards.""At least 268 of 534 lawmakers currently elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate had a net worth of $1.0 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed by all members of Congress.""As state governments limit reproductive rights, gerrymander voting districts, harm workers and the environment, and sup … [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars (2.26)


"First off, we are not the world, we are not the children.""Hundreds of Lebanese took to the streets of the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday to protest the torching of a decades-old library owned by a Greek Orthodox priest.""They should be able to put the statue up, and then they should be shot right next to it, and then we take it down.""What could possibly go wrong with training up an elite religious paramilitary opposed to minority religions that engage in magic?""This com … [Read more...]

Kansas Christianists seek monopoly on worldly honors and emoluments

Dimmitt, Texas, 1949.

Initially, it looked like a bill to provide sweeping sectarian exemptions to civil rights laws was going to easily become law in Kansas. It sailed through the state legislature's Republican-controlled lower chamber, and was expected to cruise through the Republican-controlled Senate and then be signed into law by the state's Republican governor.But it turns out this bill wasn't just a Very Bad Idea, it was also a Very Badly Written Very Bad Idea. Once some of the big-business, … [Read more...]

This is either hypocrisy or consistency. I think it’s the latter.


From a February 2013 article on "pro-life" Montana state Sen. Jason Priest: It took three tries Friday, but Republicans on a House budget panel finally voted to cut from the state health budget $4.6 million in federal family planning funds, part of which go to Planned Parenthood of Montana.Rep. Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton, the panel’s chairman, said he voted to cut the funds because he can’t support sending public money to an organization – Planned Parenthood – that supports abortion. …Ehli tri … [Read more...]

This is what actual ‘religious liberty’ looks like


Thomas Jefferson left strict instructions for how he was to be remembered on his gravestone: "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, Father of the University of Virginia."That statute for religious freedom embodied the ideals that would later become a foundation of American law in the First Amendment of the Constitution: Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious … [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars (2.10)


"Every single one of those issues was promoted by progressive reformers. Every single one of those issues was opposed by the conservatives of the day. Viciously so in many cases. Violently so in some.""Nothing about that approach to thinking about any moral issue at all even begins to approach the threshold of an authentically Christian ethics.""They're already admitting that direct contact with gay people is a threat to their beliefs. They're already admitting that openness and truth a … [Read more...]