Insight Into the Evangelical Persecution Complex

Insight Into the Evangelical Persecution Complex October 5, 2019

The Kim Davis story is just one log on the fire of imagined Christian persecution. Here is what their environment tells conservative American Christians:

  • Louisiana governor and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said, “If you disagree with gay marriage, they put you in jail,” a perhaps deliberate misunderstanding of the Kim Davis fiasco.
  •  “Christian convictions are under attack as never before,” Republican candidate Mike Huckabee said. “We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.”
  • Rick Santorum’s 2015 film, “One Generation Away,” reveals how long he fears we have until religious rights are swept away by the jackbooted liberals.
  • God’s Not Dead, a film that imagines an America in which Christian students are persecuted by professors for their beliefs, was a surprise success in 2014 (my critique). Persecution porn is good business, and two sequels have followed (here, here).
  • Ratio Christi promoted God’s Not Dead 2 with “If Christians don’t take a stand today, will we even have a choice tomorrow?”
  • Pundits assure us that laws forcing pastors to conduct same-sex marriages are around the corner.
  • Pat Robertson, always quick to add thoughtful insight to bring a topic into focus, said, “Christianity, the founding principle of this nation, is criminalized. You go to jail if you believe in God and stand fast for your beliefs against the onslaught of secular humanism.”
  • Tom Gilson said, “Could it reach a tipping point, where it boils over into widespread, active anti-Christian violence? Yes. Most of the pieces are in place.”
  • Rev. Robert Jeffress recently said, “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal.” Utah senator Mike Lee said something similar in 2018. And Rev. Jim Bakker in 2017.
  • And doesn’t the War on Christmas seem to come earlier each year?

Christians are told that if they’re not seeing Christian persecution they must not be looking hard enough. The Bible makes this clear in a dozen places.

All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you (1 John 3:13).

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man (Luke 6:22).

Not only is persecution to be expected, it’s a blessed thing, and conservative leaders capitalize on this. They fan the flames of persecution to help rally (and shake money and votes out of) the faithful.

Atheist response

Most atheists and those who insist on secular government would be surprised to find themselves accused of being behind this persecution. The Persecuted may point to other countries where preaching the Bible’s anti-gay message is prohibited, but that’s not the United States. More to the point, in any situation where pastors were forbidden from preaching or Christians were jailed for being Christian, every atheist I know would rally to their side. (Ignoring the bluster to the contrary, Kim Davis wasn’t jailed for being Christian; she was jailed for not doing her job.)

Freedom of speech means nothing if it doesn’t protect offensive speech, and a society where Christians can’t freely speak is (or may soon be) a society where atheists also can’t freely speak.

Imagined persecution is kept alive by Christian excesses—a public school with a Jesus painting, a Bible quote on the wall, or coaches who force students to pray, for example. When they are sued to force them to stop, conservative Chicken Littles whine that the sky is falling, but there’s a difference between Christian rights and Christian excesses. When you have an unfair privilege and then that privilege is removed, you’re not being persecuted.

Why the persecution has traction

With atheists making clear that they want a secular public square where everyone can participate (yes, Christians, too), where’s the problem? Why doesn’t this defuse conservatives’ predictions of apocalypse, at least partially? I think the idea of persecution against Christians is a sticky idea because, if the roles were reversed, persecution is exactly what they’d do!

Let me illustrate with an anecdote from the book The Man Who Stayed Behind about Sidney Rittenberg, a U.S. soldier who helped the Chinese against the Japanese during World War II. He came to appreciate the struggle of the Communists and remained in China to help after the war was over.

During the Cultural Revolution, he worked as a translator in a press agency. Society was chaotic during this period, with little central control, and one faction within the organization took control. This faction acted in the traditional Maoist manner by stamping down all dissent. Rittenberg was part of an opposing group that said that one of the goals of the Cultural Revolution was openness, and that all voices should be heard.

Eventually, Rittenberg’s faction was able to seize control, but the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Despite Rittenberg’s efforts, his faction reverted to the only way they knew to rule, the same tactics they’d been fighting—totalitarianism. Openness was important when it suited them, but they in their turn shut it down when it became inconvenient.

Maybe it’s the different moral thinking that governs liberals and conservatives. Maybe Christianity’s totalitarian past reveals a theme that still animates Christians today. Efforts by some Christian leaders (or conservative politicians, who are often indistinguishable) to have things their way without compromise, reveal their view of how power should work. If atheists gained more power, they imagine, wouldn’t they do things the same way?

For a quantitative example of how secular America is the good guy, consider one of conservative Christians’ favorite demons, the ACLU. The ACLU (dedicated to preserving “the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”) has taken on two hundred religious legal cases in the last twenty years. In more than half of them, the ACLU took the side of Christians. The ACLU defends free speech and religious rights for all Americans, Christians included. Similarly, atheists want a secular public square for the benefit of everyone.

Lay Christians are surrounded by conservative leaders eager to amplify perceptions of persecution, but if those ordinary Christians would listen to us, they might find that secularists simply want a society that benefits everyone.

Ignorance, misery, and fear
[is] the soil in which religion flourishes best.
Linda LaScola and Daniel Dennett


(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/11/15.)

Image credit: Wikimedia

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  • Brian Curtis

    Well, I see Christian persecution everywhere. In fact, it’s all Christians ever seem to do, and they really love it.

    Of course, there’s also the privilege issue: anything less than blatant favoritism and exemption from all the rules feels like persecution to someone who’s never faced the horrible specter of equality of before. Picture any spoiled child being told “no” for the first time.

    • RichardSRussell

      Yes, that insight about how “Christian persecution” can be interpreted in two different ways (“of” vs. “by”) reminds me of the right-wing team cheer about “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, which some of them apparently still think refers only to OTHER people.

    • Guestie

      “Picture any spoiled child being told “no” for the first time.”

      I’m picturing Donald Trump.

  • Jim Jones

    > Despite Rittenberg’s efforts, his faction reverted to the only way they knew to rule, the same tactics they’d been fighting—totalitarianism.

    It’s a pity that the Chinese have never come up with a democratic government, despite all their civil wars.

  • Desperate Ambrose

    If I recall correctly, Kim Davis was jailed for contempt for disobeying a federal judge who ordered her to do her job.

    • BertB

      Yeah, she was jailed for contempt of court. See my comment up at the top of the thread. I’m surprised that hasn’t been challenged by the Religious Right. The ACLU did not want her jailed. They wanted her fined, but the judge might have been concerned that the RR would just raise the money and pay her fine, and she keeps on not doing her job. So he jailed her. I’m glad he did, but I’m not sure about the Constitutionality…

  • smrnda

    I think part of the problem might be what some have termed ‘privilege distress.’ Christians in the USA have enjoyed dominance for a long time. Now that society is moving more towards neutrality, they see it as being oppressed.

    Another blogger (Captain Cassidy) writes that evangelicals see themselves as the ‘designated adults’ – perhaps another problem is that they can’t stand living in a society where by and large, people just don’t care about their opinions? After all, they are totally freaking out over GLTBQ equality. They seem deeply bothered that society no longer shares their prejudice.

    • Treyarnon

      Yes, I think that it’s a shock to US evangelicals that others are simply bypassing them and many don’t care about what they think. It’s a process that England went through some decades ago, and even during my youth in the 70s we were a subculture which was coming to terms with not being able to dictate terms to the surrounding culture. It’s a painful adjustment to make so they are misinterpreting all pushback as persecution.

      • epeeist

        It’s a process that England went through some decades ago

        I would largely agree, though organisations such as the Church of England and the RCC do still have significant influence despite their falling role in everyday life.

        However, we do entryism from elsewhere. I was listening to the the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning, they included a spot on a vicar in Fowey who has resigned and is planting a new church under the auspices of GAFCON. There are a number of other churches being set up in the same way. Given that he was on a stipend as a CofE vicar one has to wonder who is funding him in the creation of this new, conservative, church.

    • Not only are the Nones the largest religious worldview group, the Democratic National Convention recently acknowledged that the Nones are an important political force.

    • Pofarmer

      Evangelicals considering themselves as “Designated adults” is – distressing.

  • DingoJack
  • For them, persecution means as one I know, and there’s more I cannot remember now, of “atheists wanting them to make their cults, preaching as if no one knew about Jesus, etc. -this despite them claiming not to practice a religion- in private, not in public”, when I’ve never seen cops ordering the occasional preacher or Bible-thumpers with his End Times BS to stop.

    Even if all that jazz is made by them to reinforce their group status, it says a lot of the extremes they’ll reach taking at face value what was written 2,000 years ago within a very different society.

  • Carstonio

    The fear that higher education is actively turning kids away from Christianity is rooted in anti-Semitic myths. And the larger persecution complex comes from old fights against abolition and civil rights – arguably its an update on the Lost Cause.

    • Illithid

      Pretty sure the fear is also rooted in fact. Even believing kids run into ideas which conflict with their dogma, and find out that people who think differently aren’t slavering Satanic freaks (well, mostly: there was this one guy I hooked up with…).

      And then there are the ones with doubts or outright disbelief already, but who hide it until they’re out of the house. Put together, there’s a pretty strong correlation between going to college and junking the indoctrination.

  • Lex Lata

    “I think the idea of persecution against Christians is a sticky idea because, if the roles were reversed, persecution is exactly what they’d do!”

    Yes, at least as far as certain vocal, right-leaning Christian nationalists go. Among the more extreme examples that come to mind, Christian reconstructionists such as Gary North even go so far as to pine for the revival of OT-style law, with apostates and nonbelievers on the receiving end of stones. Similarly, we can find any number of YouTube videos of pastors demanding the recriminalization of same-sex conduct–some even calling for the death penalty.

    As a practical matter, an old-timey Calvinist theocracy is not likely to emerge, but U.S. history offers some cause for vigilance. About half a dozen states still have unconstitutional (and currently unenforceable) provisions on the books prohibiting atheists from serving in government–historical vestiges of the anti-atheist default that tended to prevail in our culture and many state governments. For a good chunk of this country’s existence, state laws often banned nonbelievers from elected office, effectively prevented atheists from offering testimony or affidavits in court proceedings, and punished the utterance or printing of blasphemy with fines and even jail time in some instances.

    Of course, gays and lesbians were treated even more shabbily. Until recent decades, they were categorically ineligible for security clearances, couldn’t work in a variety of government jobs (especially the military), and of course ran the risk of being harassed, fined, or imprisoned by authorities in certain states. Indeed, strictly speaking, sodomy was a capital crime in some states until the late 1800s (although actual executions appear to have been rare).

    As St. Joel the Innocent Man sang, “the good old days weren’t always good.”

    • Michael Neville

      As St. Joel the Innocent Man sang, “the good old days weren’t always good.”

      There is a reason why some of us refer to them as “the bad old days.”

      I’ve just finished reading Jack Kelly’s The Edge of Anarchy about the 1894 Pullman strike. While the strike itself didn’t furnish the end result that the workers needed, it did cause new labor rules to be enacted by the government. The book also shows what is still true today-that the moneyed elite are not made to suffer for their wrongdoing, only the lower classes pay the price. The strike happened during a time where corporations and the robber-barons who ran them owned the government as well. This included judges, who interpreted the laws as their puppet masters required. The conditions of the day were unsafe and underpaid while the heads of the corporations made piles of money and shareholders got huge returns. The rich got richer.

      George Pullman was in many respects a typical tycoon of the time, although he saw himself as altruistic, by creating a community where his workers were required to reside. In effect, he became a feudal lord. He set rents high and cut wages so the workers barely survived and owed his company money, literally the “company store” scenario. Pullman cut wages several times, the last time by 25%, until his workers could not afford to eat. He also insisted that his workers must live in his community and pay his rent if they worked for him. Finally the workers had enough and went on strike.

      Kelly focuses on the Pullman Strike to juxtaposition striking similarities between the late19th century Gilded Age, and the early 21st century’s Gilded Age. Readers cannot but help themselves from making comparisons: from the fake news then to the fake news of today; from the plutocrats then to the plutocrats now; from the corporation is a person Supreme Court decision in 1886, to the corporation is a person Supreme Court decision in 2009; from the ruling monopolies then to the ruling monopolies now; from the awe inspiring magical technologies then to the magical technologies now; from the heart-breaking inequalities then to the heart-breaking inequalities today; from the shift from local to national to international then to the shift from local to national to international now.

      At no time in the history of the nation was the issue between labor and corporations so sharply drawn and well defined. But we’re getting close to the same situation, as concentrated capital puts a stranglehold on workers everywhere. The Occupy movement may not have amounted to much but it was a sign that people are getting angry about corporate excesses. Now the Yellow Vests (gilets jaunes) are spreading outwards from France. The edge of anarchy is approaching once again; but this time it’s global.

      Eugene Debs put it simply: “Government ownership of companies is decidedly better for the people than company ownership of Government.”

      • DingoJack

        George Pullman was in many respects a typical tycoon of the time, although he saw himself as altruistic, by creating a community where his workers were required to reside.
        Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic…
        [A diametrically opposed method of capitalistic thinking had developed. The Victorians were weird, wacky & relentlessly self-improving].

        • Michael Neville

          Company towns were not unique to the US. Even Australia had them Catherine Hill Bay [LINK] is but one example.

          Publicity surrounding the event [1941 strike] called attention to the squalid living conditions in the company town, noting that it was completely owned “by shareholders who live in England.”

          EDIT to fix link

        • DingoJack


          In August, 1917, miners at Catherine Hill Bay struck in sympathy with striking Railway workers. The Government of New South Wales replied by taking over direct control of the state’s coal mines, importing strike-breaking labourers to keep them in operation. At Catherine Hill Bay, a train was deliberately derailed and the jetty dynamited. Extra police were sent to the town to protect the railway, the jetty, a nearby armaments depot and the strike-breakers. Even when relations between miners and employers were peaceful, discontent and public concern mounted over the deteriorating conditions in which Company housing obliged the miners to live.

          Who was running the town?

        • epicurus

          A gazillion company towns in Canada as well. Mainly in areas people wouldn’t normally move to.

        • Michael Neville

          I didn’t know St. Johns was a company town.

        • epicurus

          haha, you’re mean

      • Yes, scary parallels. It’s an early Halloween.

      • Lowell, Mass. was a mill town. Initially, it also provided decent living conditions for its employees, but I understand conditions went downhill.,_Massachusetts

      • NS Alito

        “That Pullman seems like a great guy!” said a certain POTUS.

    • By odd coincidence , I’m in the middle of a brush brush with unions at the moment. Our garbage company (Seattle), for some reason, is in sympathy with a garbage strike in Boston, so we haven’t had a pickup for a few days.

      Maybe it’s good for the public to be forced to think more broadly about the people behind the scenes who make stuff work.

      • smrnda

        It’s not a bad thing – sure, it’s inconvenient, but many of these services get little thought from anyone until something breaks down. Part of the problem with modern convenience is that we take it for granted and don’t really think about how it happens.

      • NS Alito

        Maybe it’s good for the public to be forced to think more broadly about the people behind the scenes who make stuff work.

        I always make nice to garbage/recycling collectors and delivery people for just that reason.

    • “…even go so far as to pine for the revival of OT-style law, with
      apostates and nonbelievers on the receiving end of copious heavy stones.”

      I’ve sometimes said that if Sharia law were ever enacted, they would eventually realize that they like it.

  • RichardSRussell

    ACLU! What’s not to like?

    American: of or pertaining to the United States

    Civil: of, relating to, or befitting citizens as individuals

    Liberties: freedoms, autonomy, immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority, political independence

    Union: a group of individuals acting together to accomplish what none of them can do individually

  • Chris Jones

    “I think the idea of persecution against Christians is a sticky idea because, if the roles were reversed, persecution is exactly what they’d do!”

    You’ve hit on something I started noticing for the past few years, and how long it was true before, I don’t know. I just started taking notice of the far right accusing the left of many things the left are not doing (at least not widely), while actually doing those things themselves or having a mindset to do those if the opportunity were to arise. It’s all a matter of projection. They’re projecting their own ethical lapses. They seem to do this a lot. All of the lying and cheating they keep accusing the left of doing? They actually ARE doing it. Persecuting others? Yeah. Doing it where they can, and poised to do it when they aren’t.

    • They’re projecting their own ethical lapses.

      It’s like Trump tweeting something ridiculous: it’s misdirection. We should look instead at everything else in his life to see what he’s trying to distract us from.

      Back to your point: when the Right makes up some nonsense and assigns it to the Left, we should look for that behavior in them.

      • BertB

        Usually, you don’t have to look far.

    • Ficino

      Exactly. Look at a Trump tweet or listen to a rant. The very crimes he accuses of others, he is doing himself.

      • Greg G.

        He claimed the Mueller Report was a witch hunt, claimed it exonerated him, yet continues to try to discredit it. It only makes sense if he is from the tribe on the logic puzzle island that never tells the truth.

      • Judgeforyourself37

        That is why I have a name, well really many names, but my favorite is “Mr. As Shole.” Pronounced AZ Holay.”

  • zenmite

    I live in the American South. At age 8, my (atheist) grandson was bullied by Christians for not believing. One of the bullies, in addition to name-calling, actually tripped him in the hall at school, causing him to fall. So, projection…yes.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Upvote in sympathy.

      Boo against the bullying.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      I hope the bully was disciplined.

      • The bully ws probably congratulated.

      • Judgeforyourself37

        Probably not. Add to that if the 8 year old fought back and punched the bully, the bully would have been crying to the teacher, his/her parents, the PTA, and the principal. Meanwhile the youngster who was brave enough to stand up to the bully would have been punished for “daring to fight back.” If the bullied 8 year old had told the teacher or principal that he/she was being bullied, then the 8 year old would have been told to “stick up for himself/herself” and grow up. So it would end up being a lose-lose situation for the bullied 8 year old. How do I know this? Because 74 years ago I would have been that bullied kid and some things just do not change.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Meanwhile the youngster who was brave enough to stand up to the bully
          would have been punished for “daring to fight back.” If the bullied 8
          year old had told the teacher or principal that he/she was being
          bullied, then the 8 year old would have been told to “stick up for
          himself/herself” and grow up. So it would end up being a lose-lose
          situation for the bullied 8 year old. How do I know this? Because 74
          years ago I would have been that bullied kid and some things just do not

          I too have experienced this when I was a kid at school. I understand completely.

  • Connie Beane

    The current evangelical obsession with “persecution” is merely another form of fortress mentality, designed to encourage their membership to huddle together for “protection” against outside forces, insulate them from exposure to opposing views, and–not coincidentally and most important–to refrain from criticizing their leadership as a sign of internal solidarity.

    • Unfortunately, even when Christian leaders do wrong and are criticized, they’re able to give an apology and come back. (I’m thinking mostly here of televangelists. Perhaps it’s similar with conservative politicians?)

      • BertB

        Sure, as long as they “repent,” it’s all okay….unless you’re a Democrat. That, and nonbelief are the only two unforgiveable sins. :>)

    • Everything on them looks tailored for that purpose, for them to isolate of the world and to be together. It’s the only way to explain the buttload of nonsense coming from their mouths.

  • gemini bowie

    Xian persecution in the US is a myth. Xians have total freedom of belief, expression of their belief, ability to congregate, worship, raise money, form political groups, make billions (tax-free) in religion-related enterprise and media.

    Actual persecution of xians happen mainly in Muslim countries where there is a theocracy, and a person is not allowed to leave, question, criticize or contradict the Islamic faith and must live by religious laws.

    The fact we don’t allow xians to enact a similar system here, suppressing all other belief systems and non-beliefs systems is NOT persecution. Their beliefs not being coddled by public law is not persecution. Their doctrines not being taught in public schools is not persecution. Their beliefs about sex and reproduction not being forced on everyone is not persecution.

    The CPC-Christian Persecution Complex – is a form of delusion where xians believe that they are the victims of persecution – quite often while the sufferer is involved in bigoted behaviour towards others themselves.

    Martyrbation: the act of declaring oneself a victim to win an argument when confronted with facts or ridicule often accompanied by CPC-Christian Persecution Complex.

    CPC, or The Christian Persecution Complex, is very common in America. It is driven by the need to dominate the political and social landscape. Born of a fundamentalist xian worldview, it strives to claim discrimination against xians in all form and manner. Regardless of the “moderation” of any one particular denomination, the idea of xian persecution is drilled into the heads of the faithful from day one. Fundamentalist mentality leaches into the god groundwater, slowly contaminating the “moderate” viewpoint, and sucking them into all the drama surrounding today’s persecution rhetoric, like the “War on Christmas”, “Prayer In Schools” and “Christian Nation”. You’d think that we were once again feeding xians to lions. The fact is that America does not persecute xians. To the contrary, xian’s are those who persecute anyone that doesn’t agree with them and their doctrine of subservience to a mythological entity, aka “jewish zombie.”

    When the victimizers can’t victimize anymore, they call themselves victims.

    • Silverwolf13

      Note that Muslims are victims of Hindus in India and Buddhists in Myanmar. And then there are the ultra-orthodox rabbis in Israel who claim that most Jews aren’t really Jews.

      • BertB

        Yep, religious belief is based on self-righteousness, which is, by its very nature, intolerant. All religions require a “leap of faith,” across the canyon of logic and reason. Anybody who takes that leap has convinced himself that he is right, and anybody who disagrees is wrong. Otherwise he knows he is a fool.

        • gemini bowie

          Thanks. Mind if use that in future?

        • BertB

          I don’t mind at all. It’s a message that needs to be spread.

  • John Grove

    Christians are simply horrified that people question religion and think it is absurd. I recall watching an American fundamentalist visiting the Nordic states and asking people about their religious beliefs only to discover nearly everyone he asked were either atheist or never took the proposition of religion serious at all. He was so taken aback by this, he simply could not believe it. This is what happens when you insulate yourself with other believers only for such a long time. You essentially lose touch with reality and only see through the lense of your dogma.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Yeah, the look on his face was that of the baby who just doesn’t get it


    • NS Alito

      At one point he mentions “what God said in the Bible” about homosexuality. Technically, he and the slaveholders had the right interpretations on those points. Meanwhile, they ignore the story of the sentence of execution for gathering sticks on the Sabbath and Jesus’ personal injunction about praying in public.

    • Steven Dillon

      Yes! Only TRUMPNAZIS attend his ral!ies! I hope he is in for a big shock in 2020!

  • Cozmo the Magician

    The simple fact is that FEAR is a great way to control your followers. Tell them that the sky is falling and only YOU have the cast iron umbrellas. Tell them only YOU can prevent them from being locked up in jail. Only YOU can stop their kids from being forced to turn gay. etc etc. And the ONLY way you can help them is if they send LOTS AND LOTS of money. Simple formula really, and the fundie lords and masters use it all the time.

    • BertB

      Yep. They play that fear card with lies and distortions…like the claim that pastors in churches will be forced to perform gay marriages.

      • Judgeforyourself37

        OMG you should read the screeds that the southern, especially Tennessee, folks in the UMC are writing. Check out “Perspective” that is written by the right wing extremist UMC group called “Good News.” “Good News,” in my estimation, is questionable. It is not “good” unless you are a right wing fundamentalist. This dust-up is causing a schism in the UMC and soon you will see a re-do of what happened before the Civil War and immediately after, a Methodist North and a Methodist South.

    • Steven Dillon

      Yep! Hitler figured this out

      • DDRLSGC

        So did the Republican Party.

        • Silverwolf13

          They stole the playbook.

        • DDRLSGC

          They also made modifications to the playbook like using Judge Powell memorandum on how the corporations can take back America and they add the Southern Strategy.

        • Silverwolf13

          The Republican Party was founded as an anti-slavery party and was the party of African Americans for over a century after the Civil War. After the way they threw African Americans under the bus, can we be surprised at their betrayal of the Kurds?

        • DDRLSGC

          I know the history of the Republican Party. They sure as heck threw their followers under the bus when for the last 39 years, they support corporations moving the jobs overseas and/or letting them imported foreign labor (illegal and legal).

        • Silverwolf13

          Lincoln said that without labor, there would be no capital. Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes complained that we had become “a government of the corporations, for the corporations, and by the corporations.” President Theodore Roosevelt reined in the corporations and protected wild places.

          Then the Republicans sold their soul to the racists in order to win a few elections. Now, they can’t get back either their party or their soul.

        • DDRLSGC

          I heard that statement by Lincoln; however, some people have said that he never made that statement about labor.

        • BertB

          Since we didn’t have recording devices back then, we have to rely on people’s memory and hearsay. And Lincoln lived a hundred and fifty years ago. Now think about the stories of miracles from the Bible, often from hearsay, from written accounts created hundreds of years after the events allegedly happened, created by individuals who were not necessarily all that objective about what they saw or heard. And sometimes there were mutually contradictory accounts….etc. How much stock should we place in those “records?”
          And yet, religionists claim that they are all accurate and factual.

        • DDRLSGC

          Well, to be fair they did had ink, pen, and paper plus rolling press machines, so there should be some document record of whether Lincoln had made that statement. Otherwise, I agree with you about your statement regarding the Bible since parts of the Bible were written at different times by the authors and they did not not live in the same time period.

        • BertB

          Still, there is controversy over whether he said it or not. A recording would resolve that. But read what Dingo Jack says above.

        • DingoJack

          “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation.”
          1st State of the Union Address. 3rd December, 1861.

  • Larry Dawson

    The French got it right: ALL marriages are civil. You go to a church if you also want a religious ceremnony, afterwards.

    • BertB

      That won’t solve the problem. Christians are against same-sex marriage, whether it’s a civil ceremony in a government building, or a religious one in a church. Kim Davis refused to even issue marriage licenses.

      • Judgeforyourself37

        Which meant that she was not doing her job, thus, firing was the best solution. If she wanted to discriminate let her do it on her own time, she should not be allowed to do so on the taxpayers’ dimes.

        • BertB

          Yep, but she was an elected official, and so could not be fired. I don’t know if a county clerk can be impeached. So the judge jailed her for Contempt of Court, which was a questionable action, legally.

  • BertB

    The ACLU did not want Kim Davis jailed. They wanted her to be fined to force her to do her job. She should have been fired, like any other employee who refuses to work, but as an elected official, she can’t be fired. The judge who jailed her was apparently concerned that religious organizations would raise money to pay the fine, and there would be no way to compel her to do her job. And the evangelical majority would be happy to re-elect her in the next election. I read a detailed critique by a right-wing legal beagle, and he made some good arguments that jailing her was probably unconstitutional. I am surprised that hasn’t been tested by one of the religious advocacy groups that seem to have unlimited money to blitz the courts with lawsuits on any religious issue. But the question is. here is a government official who ignores a SCOTUS decision, and defies anyone to keep her from inflicting her own personal views on other people.
    Her intolerance is intolerable for someone in a position of power, who can oppress people. We have to fix this…but how? One question: Why are county clerks elected? We don’t elect dogcatchers or street sweepers. Why clerks?

    • Maybe we can use the “Kim Davis effect” for being celebrated by rightwing politicians and religious leaders in 15 minutes of fame and then, a year later, being stuck with a mountain of legal bills, with those leaders responding to your phone calls, “Kim who?”

  • Steven Dillon

    I think the Romans got it right 2000 years ago, christians do make excellent CAT FOOD!

  • S. Arch

    Imagined persecution is kept alive by Christian excesses—a public school with a Jesus painting, a Bible quote on the wall, or coaches who force students to pray, for example. When they are sued to force them to stop, conservative Chicken Littles whine that the sky is falling, but there’s a difference between Christian rights and Christian excesses. When you have an unfair privilege and then that privilege is removed, you’re not being persecuted.

    Exactly! But here’s the question: How many of these “Christian Excesses” are going on without challenge? It often seems to me that groups like FFRF, Americans United, AHA, etc. are engaged in an endless game of legal wack-a-mole. They win some cases; they lose some cases; but more “excesses” keep popping up. How many of them go unreported and unchallenged in court? (I prefer to call them “abuses” rather than “excesses.” And the list of examples given above could be greatly expanded.)


      Unless you can remove their tax exemption, they will keep coming back and doing “Christian Excesses” without challenge because they have an unlimited supply of money.

    • Not sure what your point is. Yes, Christians cross the line. Secular organizations push back.


      • S. Arch

        I was just asking a question. I’m curious about how many cases of “Christian excess” might be going unreported/unchallenged, and what it might mean. Why are you so combative?

        • BertB

          I think he was just asking for clarification.

        • S. Arch

          If so, then I owe him an apology for misreading the tone of his message. But, it’s hard to imagine why he would need clarification, when I posed my question twice in my original post:

          How many of these “Christian Excesses” are going on without challenge? … How many of them go unreported and unchallenged in court?

          Instead of speaking to my question, he seemed to imply that I was making an ulterior point.

        • BertB

          I think it’s a communication problem. From what I know about both of you, I think you are largely in agreement. I will let Bob correct me if I am wrong.

  • Silverwolf13

    These churches demand their god-given right to compel the heathen (including members of denominations deemed not sufficiently orthodox) to attend weekly worship services and tithe 10% of their income.

    (Unfortunately, not snark.)

  • C_Alan_Nault

    I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do. ~D. Dale Gulledge

  • Pofarmer

    I thought some here might be interested. Holy shit.

    “Before his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in January, Barr had completed a questionnaire,” Betty Clermont reported. “On page 4, he listed positions he’s held as director of the Catholic Information Center [which is managed by priests from Opus Dei], (2014-1017), director of the [decidedly right wing think tank] Ethics and Public Policy Center (2004-2009) and director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (1994-2015).

    In her blog, The Open Tabernacle, Clerment, the author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America, wrote: “the Opus Dei Catholic Information Center’s ‘members and leaders continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics. It is the conservative spiritual and intellectual center … and its influence is felt in all of Washington’s corridors of power,’ the Washington Post stated recently.”

    “As Cozocelli points out,” researcher D. Cary Hart told me in an email, ”Barr was on the board of Catholic Information Center. The priests who manage CIC are all Opus Dei members and it is generally believed that membership is required of the board of directors. [However] [y]ou will never be able to prove it, [since] Supernumeraries and Cooperators keep their identities secret.”

    “The Attorney General has in the past spoken with language that is in line with the goals of both Opus Dei’s and the EPPC’s [the Ethics and Public Policy Center where Barr was director from 2004-2009] overlapping agendas,” Cocozzelli suggested. “This past December Americans United’s Rob Boston reminded us of Barr’s past theological screeds. These run the gamut from condemning public schools (they had undergone a ‘moral lobotomy’); in a 1992 address to Bill Donohue’s Catholic League, he called for the imposition of ‘God’s law’ in America. In that same address he went after contemporary supporters of the separation of church and state (‘The secularists of today are clearly fanatics’).”<

    • BertB

      Here is a link to an article on another Patheos blog about a recent Barr speech that claims secularism is the cause for society’s problems. I find such statements from the head of our Justice Department to be frightening. I didn’t know about his history in the fanatical branch of Catholicism. This man is a danger to nonbelievers, and unfit for his job. Why was he confirmed? Disgusting.

      • Greg G.

        I was about to mention those things Barr said.

      • Pofarmer

        Why was he confirmed? Because one party of our Govt has been taken over by fellow travelers?

        • BertB

          Yeah, but I don’t think any of this came up in his confirmation hearings. Were the Democrats asleep?

        • Pofarmer

          Remember the confirmation hearing for the Catholic female judge for the democrats all got accused of being anti-religious bigots? I know that they are afraid of that period but they are going to have to get over it. Unfortunately the secular vote in the US hasn’t realized what’s going on yet.

        • BertB

          The growing secular cohort is largely young people, and most of them are politically apathetic. When they wake up, the game’s over for Bible Thumpers seeking public office. Turnabout’s fair play. I said “when” not “if.” It’s gotta happen eventually if trends continue.

        • Pofarmer

          How much ground do we lose, how many judges get put in place before they get it?

        • BertB

          I know. We are gonna be living with those troglodytes in the courts for a generation or more.