962 Comments

It amazes me how some folks drum up their own morality while toting their ill-gotten gains to the bank. Looking at you, Rick Scott, TFG, the flying monkeys of the House of Representatives, et al. As an acquaintance once said, "When someone tells me they are a Christian businessman, I hold onto my wallet and run." From Rupert Murdoch to Putin to the Christian Nationalists, when will they see that, despite calling us socialists and worse, they delude themselves most of all.

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Great comment, Hope. I especially liked:

"As an acquaintance once said, "When someone tells me they are a Christian businessman, I hold onto my wallet and run.""

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"After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands." Friedrich Nietzsche

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That is an extreme position that aborts communication. On this planet there are businesses that embrace the Christian model that has not wandered too far from the “love thy neighbor...” thing. But news outlets don’t cover this.

Nor do I see cable news pundits discussing how trends in the Republican Party parallel the rise of Nazism.

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I assure you it only seems extreme to those who worry their contact could evoke that response in others. To the rest of us, such feelings reflect generations of experience and millenia of history.

I do not patronize any business because of their religious views, but I do avoid many because of their sanctimonious proselytizing. It's disgusting.

Nor do I see any religious organizations denouncing the extreme right, instead just enjoying the ride on their coattails.

As Sam Smith points out so eloquently, it is the concentric circles of decreasing reason of "good" religious people by degree that ultimately makes the completely psycho religious people possible.

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I see religious people rejecting hate and greed and counseling social awareness and compassion, as MLK did, but am disappointed that as a whole, there is so little visible "religious" protest (that I am aware of) of the cruel and narcissistic values of so many who claim to speak for their religion. I am not religious in any conventional sense, but I very much respect the values of some who are. Actions speak louder than words.

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Your comment reminds me of the not-so-distant past, May of 2022, the Southern Baptist Convention published a list of hundreds of men in power positions who have been accused of sexual abuse. What happened to this list of hundreds? I'd like to know - the rats.

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I recently found this organization: https://www.christiansagainstchristiannationalism.org/

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Thinking today of Jimmy Carter, a religious man who has lived his principles. In addition, he put solar panels on the White House (which Ronald Reagan, who used tricks to get himself elected) took off.

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Actions speak louder than words !

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AMEN! "Ye SHALL KNOW Them!, ...by Their FRUITS!!

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Many religious leaders in Portland were behind Measure 114, the gun law that voters passed here in Oregon and is currently being held up by a judge in eastern Oregon. The Oregon Supreme Court has declined to interfere until that plays out in that court.

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I refuse to go into a Hobby Lobby because of their very vocal "look at me I am Christian".

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They are also discriminatory and help finance a lot of intolerance. We have several places here in Salem where we will not darken the door that are local, but have made their pseudo-Christianity well known. One couple owns a couple restaurants and bragged about conning someone who asked if they had been vaccinated and they said yes because sometime as children they were for the usual things. They thought they were too clever by half. Liars and hypocrites.

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Pamela, I refuse to step foot into a Hobby Lobby, too. The one near me went out of business, and I was thrilled. Did you know that they purchased plundered antiquities (from Iraq?), knowing their origins, and imported them to this country by describing them as "tiles"? I'm fuzzy about the details, but think they had to surrender them and pay restitution. In my opinion, they should have been forbidden to conduct business as a penalty. Oh, and then there's their refusal to pay for employee insurance that would have covered birth control.

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Where I live, Ithaca NY, Hobby Lobby went under because enough people did as you did

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same, Pamela ... for years now!

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I agree that religious institutions rarely remind the public of the core of Christianity which is to love in the ways suggested in biblical texts.

I also think that theocracies generally are oppressive.

I personally have the good fortune to be part of a local church that very much embraces the core values I mentioned above.

Me, I love the art of argument but I have found that persuasion is better. To further that shift I have to be better at first finding common ground, find a way to validate the other person, walk alongside rather than go nose to nose trading glares.

I like peace too. Best wishes John Rochat

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Thank you, though your comment about peace reminded me of a particularly egregious saying - "Know Jesus, Know Peace, No Jesus, No Peace" which appears to be more of an action plan. I have yet to meet any religious person who demonstrated any moral advantage over any good person of no religious indoctrination. Consider that religious beliefs are essentially determined completely by where we are born and little else. Every Christian I know (I grew up evangelical) would adamantly deny they could be Hindu or Muslim if simply born in a different part of the world, but will confidently say Hindu and Muslim peoples are "lost." Lol.

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The (over)focus on white evangelical Christians does tend to obscure the truth that what makes the right-wing (white-wing?) movement so awful is not unique to evangelicals, or Christians, or religious people in general. Authoritarian movements appear not only in religions but in secular ideologies (Nazism and Stalinism for starters), and often when they arise they have widespread popular appeal.

Religious authoritarians have a head start because they can claim that their ideologies are underwritten by God. Secular authoritarians may adopt a religious veneer ("Kinder, Küche, Kirche") but they often turn into personality cults where a man (almost invariably it is a man) stands in for the deity.

I'm fascinated (as well as somewhat terrified) by the apotheosis of Donald Trump. On so many counts he's the antithesis of what the white-wing evangelicals claim to value and believe. I'm daring to believe that he's the fault line, the (I hope) fatal flaw in this home-grown fascist movement -- the fracturing of the GOP as we head toward 2024 suggests as much. But a whirlwind has been unleashed, and it's a long way from behing tamed.

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*Sorry, Sam Harris

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John, you now can edit on Substack! Click on the three dots (…) at the end of the line below your comment and voilà: those pesky typos can be fixed anon 😁

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Yes. Moderate religious people shield the extremists.

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Sam Harris

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Feb 19, 2023·edited Feb 19, 2023

Here is a link to a talk in Minneapolis in January 2023 by Dr. Michael Emerson on his research that looks at the beliefs of Practicing White Christians (PWC). They are people who say they are Christian, who say their faith is extremely important to them, and they attend worship at least once per month. Emerson is a sociologist at Univ. of North Carolina. His book on this research is "The Grand Betrayal: The Agonizing Story of Religion, Race, and Rejection in American Life." His lecture starts at about minute 37. This was sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Churches, and the news of his survey findings is spreading. In essence, PWCs interpret biblical passages in ways that are incongruous with the meaning of biblical faith which teaches, among other things, that we should care for the foreigner, confess our own sin, etc. There is much more here: https://youtu.be/KtnmxSYH_vM

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Shall look. Your American “Christianity” makes me keep a bucket near by. Emerson probably travels with a bucket handy. And the term practising white Christian’s is as much an oxymoron as … you think it up.

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The problematic word in PWC is "white" because it is the group of white people in the survey (among all Christians) who registered the most positive emotions about White Privilege and the most negative emotions around Social Justice, Reparations, Undocumented Immigrants. These views are found across the board among Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, and evangelicals who are white. So what's disturbing, Anne, is that PWCs are not only the evangelical conservative MAGAs we might think. And the bucket-worthy survey results are not explained by political party affiliation, age, residence, gender, etc. It's just about being white.

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Thanks for the link

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Thanks for the link. Besides confirming my fears this lasso shows that other Christians are organizing to provide a counterweight. Rock on…

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Mary, when you are presented with a "Christian religious man" who tells everyone around him that gayfolk are an abomination of God, please tell me why John's quote of Nietzsche "is an extreme position that aborts communication". Please tell me how that is different from people who tell me they "hate the sin but love the sinner". How does one "communicate" with someone who believes they are an abomination and a sinner because of what some "god" said?

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I agree that that is a problem and that quote has been used to justify oppression, hatred and violence. But I believe that that problem does not nullify all of Christian scripture. If I ever converse with someone who clutches that problem to his or her breast I would still try to talk about it to

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Probably because they are in parallel. Read the history.

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My first reaction to this quote was to chuckle and agree. Because the damage done by "religions" is arguably much greater than the good they are supposed to represent. Many of today's Bible Thumpers are terrifyingly dangerous.

But then I remind myself that as soon as we make sweeping generalizations about any group of people (except Trumpers and Nazis, etc.) we have demonstrated ignorance.

I don't have a religious bone in my body. I would tax every "church". I think that most megachurch preachers are as trustworthy as George Santos. I think it would be appropriate for the Roman Catholic church to declare itself an enemy of mankind and sell its assets to feed the poor. The Russian Orthodox version should be sent to the gulags for supporting Putin the monster. I could go on....

However, I know many people who consider themselves religious who are exemplary human beings. The fact that they have another take on faith just means they have another opinion. I still honor them for the complete humans they are - despite believing that their "faiths" are silly superstitions. I work with what people do. How do they treat others? That is all that matters to me.

That being said, the religious people who are well intentioned - accepting of all people regardless of faith or lack thereof, regardless of gender identity, color, cultural background or political views - those people, that you and I might get along with, have been way too silent. An exception, whose following I hope is growing, is John Pavlovitz. https://johnpavlovitz.com/

You will find some mighty fine people in this comments forum who are on the correct side of democracy, diversity, social justice and all around fairness. And many of them have some sort of religious faith. One is a "chaplain". I stand with them because we share core values about how we should treat people.

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Love John. But, about half way into the trump years I had to stop reading his work. I had really started to despise trump voters. So now I read him periodically. He's a really good man!

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Thanx for mentioning my pastor John Pavlovitz.

(Yes, the dichotomous Atheist has a pastor, just like the Non-Catholic has a patron St. Francis.)

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My Jewish wife and I toured parts of Italy. Every city or large town had a duomo. Painted on the interiors were scenes of torture. People being speared, roasted and dismembered. Except for the duomo in Assisi. My wife said: "I like this guy Francis. "Franny" can be my saint". She is an animal lover, so that helped, as well.

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He could be a secular saint. He sort of bucked the Catholic Church and came close to heresy. He would be forgotten today if killed by the Inquisition for heresy, but prevailed and became the gentle Saint, embraced by animal lovers and non-religious seekers.

My partner and I took off on our pilgrimage on October 4, 1975 and learned later that was the Feast of St. Francis. Synchronicity?

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"...the religious people who are well intentioned ... have been way too silent."

I disagree, emphatically. They are not so much silent as unheard: ignored as not relevant and thus not quoted. That's on us, buried in our own silo that divides people into handy representational categories. Not all religious people carry a flag that says so. Maybe we need to open ourselves up to be receptive.

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It's true that they don't make the headlines because they aren't outrageous. You are right. It's on us to listen. I'll work harder on that.

But to break through in this world, we need to do something attention grabbing. Maybe a big electric F-150 pickup with a flag of Jesus (black version, of course) with the words "Proud Democrat"?

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We just have to get out of our own silos and pay attention to what is really going on instead of just assuming we already know. Not sure flying a flag is going to help out a lot with that. It's still letting the extremists set the standard. Let's face the other way and pay closer attention to who else is working with us that we are too blind to see. Or hear.

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I've toyed with the idea of flying the National Colors and the Pride flag from my half-ton pickup (sadly, not electric). But I'm not sure how safe I'd be.

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Although I belong to a different Faith, "Faithful America" is a wonderful group of Christians who are fighting peacefully and having an affect, against Christian Nationalist. They are against the extremist who have twisted the teachings of Christ. Please check them out, they need support. I'm sadly not tech savvy to put a link.

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Feb 19, 2023·edited Feb 19, 2023

David, I was about to say that, too. You and Hope beat me to it. I've always known that I was in good company here in Heather's Herd, and that belief has been reinforced.

The good news, to me, is that these insane bigots on the extreme right are finally spelling out their plans in public. I hope that we won't be disappointed at the reaction of every sane person in this country.

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Nancy, My guess is that we won’t be disappointed, presuming we respond proactively. To clarify, in my view, the outcome of future elections could land primarily on how effectively Biden and Democratic leadership manage the upheaval much of the GOP feasts on. Democrats need to lead in this moment when GOP far-right extremists are fueling hate and division. They have to go where the trouble is in this country, the trouble the GOP extremists are stoking, the trouble said extremists are making worse. Democrats must go there and meet with the people who doubt that Democrats care about the wreckage of their dreams and show they can work on legitimate issues and grievances.

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I agree, Barbara Jo. I don't understand why so many people don't already know the valuable things that Biden has accomplished, and my guess is that it is due to the fact that Biden is not a charismatic speaker. His life-long speech impediment has hampered his ability to get past many peoples' affinity for style above substance.

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Nancy, While I mostly agree with your thoughts about Biden, please note that when I wrote, “They [Dems] have to go where the trouble is…” I was speaking about our local, state, and federal representatives. Moreover, I wasn’t expecting these officials merely to enumerate the accomplishments of the past two years, which, compliments of Manchin and Sinema, were dramatically edited down. Instead, I expect Democrats authentically to empathize with legitimate grievances and inequities and to demonstrate their commitment to implementing meaningful change.

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Yes, Barbara Jo, local politics is essential to any real progress. I agree, too, that the Democrats need to listen and help everyone who's aggrieved and hurting.

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Be nice if MSM. did their jobs as well as Rupert spews hate and division

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Jeri, While I don’t disagree with your assessment of much of MSM and have served as a lay media critic for some time, I also believe in pressing our Democratic representatives to do a better job of messaging both their agenda and the harms and injustices each time it is blocked.

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Absolutely, the Dems are awful at messaging - from "defund the police" on. It looks as though Biden's trying.

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Amen to that!

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The real concern is how many are NOT sane! And vote.

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The number of sane people is the problem.

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“Half of republicans” (supporting “Christian” nationalism) is indeed a lot of people, but what proportion of the total voting population is that now - 20%,25%?

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Heavy turnout of "sane" voters in '22 made the difference between having a red tsunami and a pink trickle. Fingers crossed.

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This line bothered me too. Per 2022 Gallup polls of party affiliation, ~28% identify as Republicans; 30% as Dem, 40% Independent. MSM routinely disingenuously frames Dem/Repub split like it is 50-50. The article that HCR referenced says "According to the PRRI/Brookings study, only 10% of Americans view themselves as adherents of Christian nationalism and about 19% of Americans said they sympathize with these views."

Those numbers are still very concerning and require that we all draw attention to this dangerous threat in our society with friends and via any platform we have because 81% of Americans are NOT among the crazies.

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Yes, it’s still a lot of people And important to try to counteract. Thanks for calling attention to the reference, I hadn’t checked. Who knew Marjorie Taylor Greene was a Christian, though? Not real noticeable, imho.

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David “Onward Christian businessmen

Coming forth to steal,

Why should we pay taxes

To pay for a poor folk meal?’

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What Nancy Fleming said, directly below!

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Perfect, and funny, too, Keith.

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Thank you David. I am pleased we are LFAA friends.

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Me too! You keep putting smiles on my face.

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Are you referring to Letters From An American? 👍🏼

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We have a particularly sleazy developer right here in River City (Salem, OR) that touts his Christianity. My neighbor, when she finds out someone is a fundamentalist, says watch your back. Yes, run, don't walk. I also reminded of another person, neighbor of my in-laws who made much of his Christianity. And he called us at night to ask my husband, who worked at Employment, to somehow make things work for him. My husband refused. Then later one, he commented to me at a party at my in-laws that the neighborhood had changed, meaning that it was no longer lily white. I just smiled and said yes, it is more diverse. This turkey and all the others have no idea of who Jesus was or what he said in the first three Gospels.

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So you're saying you got trouble?

Right there? In River City?

*ducks out of the way of splatting tomatoes*

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Yes they do. Here in Eugene, too, and it ain't spelled "pool"!

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Gotta keep our children moral after school!

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I tell ya people we got TROUBLE, terrible terrible, trouble, with a capital P & that does stands for Pool!

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Are there words creeping into your son's conversation? Words like "swell" and "so's your old man?"

MASS-STERIA!!!

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Oregon is a weird critter when it comes to its attitude regarding anyone not white. We removed racist language from our constitution in 2002 and repealed the section of our constitution that permitted slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime just this last year. There were "sundown towns" in Oregon as late as the 1960's. Our racist roots run deep and no "whitewashing" will change that.

With that in mind, larger metropolitan areas are better than smaller towns, but there is still awful discrimination and harassment that goes on for BIPOC. I have become friendly with women who run two restaurants in town (one Vietnamese and one Chinese) and both have had their businesses targeted for vandalism in the past several years. A big problem in Eugene in particular is that the global "we" (of liberal white folks) think we are more racially equitable than we really are, which isn't very...

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This is interesting. I'm sure glad I don't run into people like this in Massachusetts. I'm a bit disappointed in Oregon, which was the third state I was ever in. (My parents had friends outside of Portland, and we'd drive from Seattle.)

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I am always amazed at what people will say when they think they are talking to someone who is as prejudiced as they are. My husband has Lakota ancestry, for example, but a lot of people don't know that. I made up my mind about racism when I was about seven and have not changed since although I had and still have a lot to learn. I did spend three and half years in Sierra Leone (student at Fourah Bay and Peace Corps) and when I came back, I have to say people here looked very pale and not quite healthy. We also have people here in Salem who keep track of the efforts of the fundamentalists and often video what they see....yes, taking a risk. Now we have a bill in the legislature that will make it very difficult for militias like the Proud Boys to harass and intimidate. The gun nuts oppose it, but I do hope it passes.

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There's a really awesome guy on Twitter - Lakota Man - who more than 456K followers. Cool dude.

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I've run into Lakota man--yes, good guy!

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David, having been born and raised in the Boston suburbs, my experience was that there was plenty of similar conduct there. Evangelicals weren't prevalent, but I had many neighbor children tell me that I was going to hell because I was of a different Christian denomination than they were, and one schoolteacher informed the school principal when he referred to me as "little Irish eyes" that I was no such thing, as someone in my family was a "fence-jumper," as I attended the Episcopal church. Evangelical bigotry and hypocrisy in Georgia takes on a different tone, but all of it has the same basis, and none of it bears any resemblance to the spirit of Christianity.

By the way, one child who predicted that my fate would be hellfire ended up being a huge fan of tFg. Surprised?

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My Dad's father was Jewish, his mother Catholic. Very Catholic. IRISH Catholic. So the kids could do Hannukah but would go to Bible study. Fair enough.

Dad recently told me that one day some nun in Sunday school was going on about how non-believers are never saved. He went home a bit upset, related it to my Nana, and asked, "but what about Daddy?" Nana got the sternest look he'd ever seen, and simply, flatly stated, "ALL GOOD people go to Heaven."

The kids never went to Sunday school again.

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As a "non-Catholic" 4th grader in parochial school, the nun proclaimed that my deceased father's soul was likely not to have made it to heaven. I subsequently stayed home because had a stomach ache for 3 days. My mother, who rarely took my side, eventually called the nun and said something like "just give her an education and leave out the editorial stuff".

This began my long love - hate relationship with religion. (I still love the teachings about love.)

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I just had to look this up again, for it is one of the most moving things I have ever seen: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/04/16/my-dad-heaven-little-boy-asks-pope

It is amazing to me that anyone could actually purport to know, with any certainty, what God would want, what God decides, or even what God looks like. I myself don't believe in God per se, but neither do I disbelieve, because how could any human ever know for sure. Anyone who purports to know these details just strikes me as wanting to, you know... play God.

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From the Crusades, to torturing thinkers like Galileo during the inquisition to "re-educating" indigenous children and ruining their lives, the Church has a lot to answer for, as do many organized religions. Even today, many forbid birth control (a la Justices Thomas and Alito) so that there will be more contributors when the offering plate is passed. Like you, I believe in being kind and contributing to the welfare of all, but I gave up on organized religion (even the moderate Episcopal church) years ago.

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Good for Nana! Clearly, she hadn't been thoroughly indoctrinated, which was a good thing for her children.

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Not surprised by that last sentence. I missed most of the hellfire and damnation, probably partly as a result of going to a Quaker elementary school, and living in a housing development full of professors and similar. Oddly, my best friend in second grade, though Jewish, had had a friend before we met who was hellfire and damnation Christian. So, for example, my best friend got me to go to Saturday school with him, by saying, "It might make the difference between whether you're up there with those angels or down there with those devils." I was surprised when I went to Saturday school with him that there was no mention of hellfire and damnation, not even a hint of it. It was just a pleasant small group, coloring, and hearing some judaism related stories.

After second grade, we moved away, and I didn't see this guy again until I looked him up after graduating from college. He had only the vaguest memory of me, (oh, wait, he said, after five minutes of my explaining who I was and how we'd done everything together in secoind grade, "did your family live at the top of the hill and have an orange station wagon?" (That was indeed us.) And he had no recollectoin of the hellfire and damnation, and as far as I could tell he wasn't religious.

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Where you lived and went to school was definitely a factor. For years, I thought that if we'd lived in the Back Bay or a similar area my experience would have been much different. As a young teen, I had many Jewish friends, and there was none of the hellfire and damnation conversation common with my Catholic (mostly Irish) friends. Much better that your long-ago friend recalled your family's orange station wagon rather than any hellfire and damnation. I'm also impressed with his second grade understanding of the choice of "up there with those angels or down there with those devils."

I must confess that despite my "friend" warning me of my destiny to burn in hell, I asked my parents if I could go to parochial school. I wasn't worried (just insulted) about the hell prediction, but "sister" school had the advantage (to me) of a later start to the school year in the Fall, an earlier end in Spring, lots of holy days off during the year, and I was fascinated by the nuns' garb - especially the veils. The downside was that nuns had the reputation of smacking your knuckles with a ruler for infractions, but I believed that my good behavior and good grades would probably exempt me from punishment. Fortunately, my mother and father (who left the Catholic church as a teenager, thus the "fence jumper" described by my 5th grade teacher) weren't having any of my pleas of attending parochial school, so I continued in the more rigorous public school system.

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I was a bit surprised that Ralphie didn't remember that the station wagon was a '57 Chevy. Ralphie forgot stuff because his father had died when he was six, I think. He never talked to me about that, but my mother did. Ralphie's father had had two heart attacks, and at some point he told my mother, "my father was lucky the first time." (And my mother told me--she thought, probably rightly, that that statement was very signficant.)

Ralphie's mother was a noted interior decorator in Seattle, did work for John Ehrlichman, among others, and drove a Thunderbird. His grandfather had been a founder of Nordstrom's (this was Seattle), and Ralphie was an incredibly precocious kid. One weekend day, we were hanging around where there were swings and such, and some Black girls were there, too (this was academic year 1960-61). I referred to them as negroes, and Ralphie said, "don't call them that. It's not nice." One of them responded, "but that's what we are". He also married a woman he met in college, and they're almost certainly still married.

I don't know when Ralphie gave up the hellfire and damnation, but I'm sure he had totally forgotten about it by the time we met after college.

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Hi David,

I live in "MetroWest". But I spent my first 50 years in Western Mass. It was a great place to grow up. A lot more space. More of the "natural world". But there are patches of scary people out there. More than a few big pickups with huge American flags and Trump stickers. Pockets of hate. I feel much safer here.

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They are here in the South Shore of Boston too. They look so foolish.

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Oy. Funny, my best friend lives outside Albany NY, and I now take the back roads when I visit him and his SO, meaning Rt. 2 all the way to Williamstown and then either 2 to Albany or a couple of way-back roads through Powlan VT (the extreme southwest corner of that state) and then up to 7 in NY, which goes almost all the way to my friend's--and no trumpiness--and least none that I've seen. I HAVE seen a bit of trumpiness when taking other backroads, which I've occasionally done.

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People think “Portland” when they hear of Oregon....there is SO much more out there, of the right-wing extremist variety. Same as CA, where I am from originally...again, it’s not all SF and LA...very red areas. And now we live in AZ!🤪

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I live in Boise. Now a huge swath of Eastern Oregon wants to become Idaho because Oregon isn't racist enough.

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Yes, have read about this movement😡

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And I have friends in the Willamette Valley that want us to do that as well.

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Michele, I grow up in Salem, OR.

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I agree when I see a sign in a business with “in god we trust” I head the other way knowing that I am (pardon the language) screwed.

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Don't forget the sentence that follows "In God we trust." "All others pay cash,"

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Exactly. Because if you pay in cash, they can “forget” to report it to the IRS.

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Our “Constitutional” Sheriff put “ In God We Trust” on the back of all the patrol cars.

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That would make me completely insane and I would have to start a revolution!

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That disturbs me greatly. Unless he also put "All others checked through NCIC" but I strongly doubt he'd do that.

NCIC is the national clearinghouse for holding warrants on wanted folks, stolen things, and other items of police inquiry.

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In God We Trust. All others pay cash. Wasn’t that originally coined by the Three Wise Men: Neiman. Marcus, and Macy?

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Just as (back in the days of yellow pages ads being where you looked to find stuff) I stayed away from the "fish" that was so prevalent a time back.

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When I was a kid I always saw those fish on the backs of people's cars.

I thought it was a chill way to communicate they liked surfing.

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HA! I love that! Oh, you say you're from Cal? Who could have guessed? ;)

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I bought my nephew (a pagan) one of those that had legs and a tail and read "Darwin" in the middle...

I like your younger self's translation of that!!

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North Carolina has I think 3 background choices for automobile license plates. One is "In God We Trust". I always select "First in Flight".

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I've seen igwt on several plates; most commonly Utah, but I think I've seen it in one of the "I" states. Indiana maybe?

Then I did a Google search and found this:

https://www.blitzwatch.org/in-god-we-trust-license-plates#:~:text=Current%20Status-,%E2%80%9CIn%20God%20We%20Trust%E2%80%9D%20license%20plates%20are%20already%20available%20in,%2C%20West%20Virginia%2C%20and%20Wisconsin.

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All, thank you for posting that. I had no idea and will definitely spread the word. Horrifying.

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It was pretty disturbing to me.

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Translated, it means:

"IN THI$ WE TRUST"

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I ran the other way when the local interior design studio posted an “I Support the Second” sticker. Huh?

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"the flying monkeys of the House of Representatives"...and their lying flunkies.

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Good one!

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" As an acquaintance once said, "When someone tells me they are a Christian businessman, I hold onto my wallet and run."

While I was still in junior high, I figured out that the guys who bragged the loudest about their "conquests" were the guys who couldn't get a date if they had Cyrano de Bergerac writing their material.

Same with the folks who find it necessary to tout their "Christianity" with bells, whistles, banners and horns. They apparently missed this admonition in Matthew 6:5-6:

"“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Because to them, it's the appearance that matters, not the substance.

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Ah yes, praying loudly in the Temple. I always look at actions and not words.

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In 2010, as a retired engineer with more than 30 years in heavy industry I volunteered as the "owners representative" to head up a major addition to our Episcopal church. At that point I had lots of experience with contractors both great and crooked and in between. I was working with another engineer who had been in technical sales representing the church, and we were meeting with various contractors. We sat down with one contractor, in his conference room and the first thing he had to do was open the meeting with prayer. We were not there to pray, we were there to talk about technical details and cost. This was our last meeting with this contractor.

We found another contractor from about 60 miles away who was outstanding. These were tough times for the building trades but the measure of the great contractor was how he treated his people not the show he put on.

By the way that "praying" contractor got caught praying on customers and went bankrupt.

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You had me at “flying monkeys of the House of Representatives,” 😂😂😂

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"the flying monkeys of the House of Representatives" I love it. :)

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Another sign to make you run away - a large pickup truck in the south with a Christian fish emblem stuck on the tailgate, and a confederate flag bolted onto the front bumper. Saw one yesterday.

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James Sounds like a bipolar Republican. There’s no Jesus in that message.

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Janet “Fish got to swim

and birds got to fly

As Lake Powell dries up

Even Boebert is gonna die.”

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And they voted in a very conflicted and very confused congressperson. Shame on them. IT weakens our democracy.

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Religion is and always has been about power. Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor said it perfectly. “There exists no greater or more painful anxiety for a man who has freed himself from all religious bias, than how he shall soonest find a new object or idea to worship. But man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped; whose rights are so unquestionable that men agree unanimously to bow down to it. For the chief concern of these miserable creatures is not to find and worship the idol of their own choice, but to discover that which all others will believe in, and consent to bow down to in a mass.”

Here is Sir John Gielgud playing the Grand Inquisitor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om6HcUUa8DI

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Love the term and image of “flying monkeys”! Brings to minds scene in the “Wizard of Oz”

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Thanks, Nancy. That is exactly where I got the image. I couldn't recall what they were called. "Harpies" I think. But Harpies are a different creature all together.

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AHEM! Run

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Hope I was so gobsmacked by your ‘flying monkeys’ imagery that I couldn’t immediately baboonsil my way through the remainder of your spot-on commentary.

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Hi Keith! Alas, I am not too original. The image comes from The Wizard of Oz (which fits our current times in so many ways!) A big "heart" to you.

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Hope From the Wizard of Oz I realized that balloons had a will of their own. At 11 I had a Coke with Frank Morgan on his yacht. To me he didn’t seem to be a malevolent balloonist.

I can’t say the same about Xi and/or his military sycophants with their ‘intelligence balloons.’

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"Their own morality", as you so aptly put it, seems to be the result of way too little time reading history. As in, when the Pope owned the world, Church of England, & on & on...

From R. Scott via HCR; " But it also reflected the turn toward Christian nationalism, centering Christianity and “Judeo-Christian values” by investing in religious schools, adoption agencies, and social services and calling for an end to abortion, gender-affirming care, and diversity training. It explicitly puts religion above the law, saying “Americans will not be required to go against their core values and beliefs in order to conform to culture or government.”

Seems to me that Christian belief is centered on the concept of 'one true God', which is a faith based (and unprovable by mere humans) notion. It's a good thing in context. Except the Repubs want to put the unprovable above the law. Then, only the "leaders"will be able to make policy. Only they will be able to fix it. The religious texts of the leaders' choice will become scripture. And then, the Repubs will finally get their cummuppance.

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Dan I believe that religion is a matter of personal faith. It can neither be proved or disproved by ‘facts.’ For ‘Christians,’ presumably they believe in the teachings of Jesus: love, forgiveness, and turn the other cheek. (Also that a rich man has a very slim chance of going to heaven.)

If they reject this, then I do not consider them ‘Christians.’

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Each religion has its own name for 'God'. Jesus, Jehovah, Buddha, whatever. The thing religions forget is that all of these represent pure LOVE. They need to focus on that rather than their rules and man-made commandments that are the cause of so much hate and war.

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Debbie Before humans ‘formalized’ religion, ‘God’ was acknowledged in agriculture, the sun, water, and in ‘birth mothers.’ Only around 3,000 BCE do we start finding historical evidence of formal religion—often linked to political power [Egypt, Ur].

Some modern religions have a diversity of ‘Gods.’ In Judaism, the diversity of ‘Gods’ was reduced to one god about 700 BCE. In Christianity there was focus on Jesus being the ‘son of God.’ While Jesus symbolized love, this was not my impression of the ‘God’ of the Old Testament.

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I guess my point is that virtually every religion depicts its 'God' as love. Yet they get all tangled up in their rules and exceptions to who is worthy of love and who we should hate because they don't follow our particular set of rules, etc., etc., etc., that 'love' is hardly visible.

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Upcoming election in Wisconsin for election of justice on state Supreme Court. Important for Democracy. Participate.

From Politics Girl, Leigh McGowan on making a difference in Wisconsin. And our country.

https://youtu.be/NWoWDQsLM7g

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I signed up several days ago!

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"flying monkeys" is perfect!

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Your letter brings home once again how vital it is that we push back and hold at bay the Christo-fascists!

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Feb 19, 2023·edited Feb 19, 2023

Jane,

"Your letter brings home once again how vital it is that we push back and hold at bay the Christo-fascists!"

Maybe.

But, the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, was not caused by Christo-fascists. It was caused by the degradation of Obama era regulations on train safety that were removed during the Trump administration through effective "lobbying" accepted by non-Christo-fascists in Congress and by Norfolk Southern management's willingness to prioritize profit over all aspects of train transport.

In other words: The real threat in America is:

A Governmental model in this country that looks more like Prostitution than Democracy.

In short: I will call the governmental model in the US: Democratic Prostitution.

Those two words MOST accurately reflect the government model actually in use in the United States of America.

And, the current drumbeat from Fox News focusing NOT on the causes of the train derailment itself but on the EPA response? Nobody at Fox News is a Christo-fascist.

But everyone at FOX IS a Capitalist extremist and in full support of purchasing as many politicians as possible (lobbying) to get them to do their bidding. There it is again: Democratic Prostitution.

Likewise. Drug prices are not astronomical because of Christo-fascists.

Drug prices are high, and hospital stays are (now) profoundly expensive because Pharmaceutical companies prioritize profit over all aspects of health care and hospitals are now all owned mostly by hedge funds that also prioritize profit over the health of anyone at all.

And? The reason the two above facts exist is because of effective lobbying in Congress by Capitalist extremists who prefer a governmental model that looks more like prostitution than democracy. Democratic Prostitution again is the model for government here.

So, I would like to introduce what everyone already knows: Religious extremism is particularly easy to demonize because it is real, and, yes, some rich folks want private schools (mostly so that they don't have to go to integrated schools with black folks honestly).

BUT, the real problem in America is Capitalist Extremism that has led to a Governmental Model called: Democratic Prostitution.

Democratic Prostitution NOT Christian extremism/Christo-fascism is the threat we face most.

I rush to say: Sometimes, and more frequently of late, Capitalist Extremism in the form of Democratic Prostitution and Christo-fascist rhetoric overlap, in particular, with junk Christianity called "Prosperity Gospel".

But, that is (so far) a minority of Christians.

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Fox “News” may not believe a word they speak, they may be doing it all for money, but they are in fact promoting the self-called-Christian authoritarians. Mussolini, who knew fascism, once said it should have been called corporatism. So it’s both. My only problem with your snappy label, is that in today’s environment too many will think it describes Democrats and not Republicans.

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Interesting take on Democratic Prostitution. Prostitutes need money to live on. Without the insane political system where politicians can't run a campaign without a ton of money, which make them beholding to their donors. It is impossible to see a problem where money is not at the root. (of all evil). A healthcare industry that is profit motivated is nuts. There is nothing wrong with lobbying the government. The problem is when big $ wants something from the government they have politicians who NEED their $. Public financing and eliminate large donations might help. If running for office did not require large sums of money thing might look differently.

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But since when is health care an “industry”? Has the Hippocratic Oath lost all meaning? Isn’t it time that we have free medical schools for qualified applicants? And maybe it’s also time to outlaw hedge funds which are causing so much damage to so many while contributing nothing of which I am aware. (Someone can correct me on that?)

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Feb 20, 2023·edited Feb 20, 2023

Agree. Except healthcare in America did become an industry in America when, in the 1930's, private physicians invented illness insurance so they could be paid more than a sack of potatoes and a chicken for their services. And hospitals and nursing homes, many started by well intentioned physicians and nuns, became more capitalistic toys for hedge funders like Mitt Romney who squeezed out any extra funds (I won't say "profits" because most are non-profits), and regular revenues, firing "excess" employees, requiring remaining ones to do overtime to make up the difference this hustle created. Yes, there should be a law - MANY EFFECTIVE LAWS AGAINST THIS THIEVERY:

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-183291/

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Couldn’t agree more. Who is really happy that we want to help Ukraine? The corporations that will rake in billions in war profits. They are the ones in the rooms where decisions are made. Who was just happy to have a pandemic for a few years? The profiteers who were in the rooms where the decisions were made (under both Republican and Democratic administrations). Make America really great again-especially if it’s manufactured overseas for more profit.

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Well, that might be part of it (the ill-gotten gains of the military-industrial complex), but as a Latvian I also know that this *is* about a rules-based international order. I was angry at Obama regarding his response to Crimea and predicted the war in Ukraine. Moldova, Poland and the Baltics will be next. Putin has never been shy about his obsession with restoring the USSR. Of course, this will lead us into WW3; we - and our allies - need to control Putin’s aggression or we are REALLY in danger.

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Both things can be true. Profits will be made and democracies will lose if Ukraine is not supported.

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Yes, that was the first thing I said.

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I am really happy that we want to help Ukraine even with the war profits, of which I am very much aware. Helping Ukraine is helping Europe, our first western cultural center, and helping US keep democracy alive.

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Why do you call it Democratic prostitution when it is the Republican side of the aisle that set up the flood of corporate money corrupting our elections? I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said,”In America , it’s lobbying. In the rest of the world, it is graft and corruption.” Corporations can no longer give legislators dinners, and cigars. But they can give them as much unidentified campaign money as they want. This happened when John Roberts agreed to make it the law of the land that a corporate entity was a person, right? What do you think would be the best way to stop the flood of anonymous money into campaign coffers at all levels of government, which is the only way I can see to push the “playing field back toward some semblance of level”?

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Ideally, pass Adam Schiff's proposed Constitutional Amendment to repeal the Citizens United decision. Since that's not happening in my lifetime, support Senator Whitehouse's DISCLOSE bill that would put some daylight onto the 'dark money' being poured into campaigns.

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Good post. Thanks!

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Mike S. I mostly agree, but do not underestimate the power of the Christo-fascists. Their numbers are growing with the aid of Mike Flynn, and their fanaticism is strong.

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Flynn is SO DANGEROUS.

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Extremely dangerous!

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Feb 19, 2023·edited Feb 19, 2023

If they are voting and they get enough others to vote with them than that is democracy in action yes?

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As Republicans talk of Judeo-Christian values, the incidence of violent antisemitic attacks is exploding. Call it what it is antiJew-Christian values.

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You are right to use the term Christofascists, a term I first heard Carolyn Baker use. It encompasses the reality of authoritarian white male control over other beliefs, basically. Can anyone doubt its inherent values of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-semitism, deliberate ignorance, and greed? Nevertheless, it's a loaded term that folks aren't quite ready to contemplate. But go for it, Jane! It certainly fits.

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I first used the term "Christofascists" a few years back while arguing with my MAGAt cousin. It really made her angry, but because she was a Texan, "Y'all Qaeda" made her even angrier.

It makes me kind of sad now, because she was one of the Covid casualties last year (she got sick at the end of 2021) and we used to be close. But I still think the terms were kind of appropriate in the context of our conversation, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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I'm sorry that your cousin passed from Covid, Karen. Was she a no vaxer? If so, that is one among many reasons the MAGAs pursue their mad goals while causing their own demise (literally!)

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Thanks.

I suspect that she was a no-vaxxer. She and I had had a falling out over tfg, and I didn't even realize that she had died until I happened to look at her Facebook page just before what would have been her 81st birthday last May. I only found out the tiny bit I did by messaging her daughter.

It's very sad. And I blame that selfish orange narcissistic asshole. Covid never should have been politicized in any way.

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Oh my, that is so sad. I hope you are okay. Yes, I too blame tfg for the million plus deaths under his watch. I too have learned of deaths by Facebook. It feels bizarre, frankly.

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And so heartbreaking.

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Wow. What a Letter, Professor Richardson. I am reeling from the implications. The extremist wing of the Republican Party is at its inflection point and is now quite dangerous.

I’d like to take Senator Voldemort, while at his helm as governor of Florida caused suffering amongst human beings, straight to the woodshed and throttle him. And then follow with DeSantis. Florida has become a stain on the map of the UNITED States of America. How dare they become a blatant autocratic warship. They can go f*ck themselves and their white, racist agenda of christian nationalism. There is nothing of ethical and human value within its rotten framework.

Thank you for your Letters from an American. I know where truth shines.

Salud!

🗽

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Christian nationalists like to refer to “Judeo-Christian values” and I am taking this opportunity to tell you how angry I feel whenever I see this term used! Most Jews do not - and I emphasize not - connect ourselves to “Judeo-Christian values."

I think that term may have been used as an effort to show that Christianity was a natural outgrowth of Judaism and had led to it. Although there are values that both religions share, Judaism is a distinct and separate religion.

Our views about abortion, separation of church and state, rights of LGBTQ+ members of society etc. differ from those of Christian nationalists and many fundamental Christian sects.

I'll be curious if anyone else shares my views and concerns.

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I am not Jewish, but I agree with both your views and your concerns. They have no idea of what they are talking about. I also do not want to live in a theocracy.

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Yes, for example, it is my understanding in Jewish law the life of the existing human, the woman, takes priority over the life of the potential human being, the fetus. The extreme anti-abortion laws of the Christian Nationalists put the life of the fetus over the right to life of the mother in all cases. I suppose that is because half of the fetuses are male.

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What I've read recently is that, according to Jewish law (it could just be tradition, and not law since that's not my area of expertise) until the first breath is drawn, a fetus is not considered to be a human being.

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That used to be the Christian notion as well. It has been politicized. And here's to Fr. Robert Drinan, a pro life Catholic priest, who was my representative to the House for a good while. RIP.

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America: where your rights begin at the GENDER REVEAL PARTY! Specialty cakes on sale now with your choice of organic* food coloring!

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I always read the expression "Judeo-Christian" as a facile portmanteau shield against accusations of anti-semitism, essentially meaningless.

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The point is that it is neither meaningless nor benign.

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Feb 19, 2023·edited Feb 19, 2023

Mina -- As a Jew (and fellow Bay Area resident), I have never liked the term Judeo-Christian, for the reasons you have so clearly identified.

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Ditto here in NJ.

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Yes, I share your views, but I also have Orthodox Israeli cousins whose views are very different from yours and mine.

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I learned, many years ago, that "Judeo-Christian" referred to the root of our laws, religion (one god) and culture, versus other civilizations.

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When this term became common in the 1950s mainline Protestant denominations and Jews did indeed have a lot in common and still do.

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Mina, I was raised by a Jewish mother, first generation from Eastern Europe, and a very lapsed Irish Catholic father. They were both true “Christians” in all the best senses of the word. I love both cultures and I am grateful I had so much richness in my life because of that. But I couldn’t agree more with you about the term “Jude’s-Christian values”. Always made my skin I crawl....

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I wish you could see my smile of warmth and pleasure on reading this, Elisabeth! No wonder they gave you that beautiful name.

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How wonderful that you had such amazing parents. I've been blessed to have friends who were born as Christians and live their Christianity every day. We share the same values and show great respect for each other's religion.

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It's not the same at all. Messianic Jews are a weird in-between sect that believes Jesus was the prophet as described in the Old Testament, and therefore believe in Jesus as savior but lean more heavily on Old Testament/Torah teachings than other Christians. They consider themselves Jews, but actual Jews consider them Christians. Caveat: I'm very far from an expert, and needed to Wikipedia it to refresh myself. As folks above have pointed out, Judeo-Christian is a term with origin in American politics, intended to invoke an unified American society, originally to contrast with Communism. (Funny how the other Abrahamic religion - Islam - is conspicuously absent from this grouping.)

*Sigh* Essentially, religion is a human creation and just a mirror for all of human society. Good people do good with it, bad people do bad with it, and folks get caught up on weird details that don't actually matter. Yadda yadda yadda.

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No, it's not the same - just look it up - you'll find plenty of simple explanations on line. Gayle, this is a private matter! Nobody can force a belief system on you. It's just "thanks but no thanks", end of story. Just enjoy being a truthful agnostic! I was an obedient little churchgoer until I was about 14 and they were starting to pressure me into making declarations and I realised that I couldn't. It just wasn't true. I didn't believe.

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Hi Gayle -- Will and Anne-Louise have already given brief explanations, but the Wikipedia references will give you more information that I can squeeze into this response.

"The term Judeo-Christian is used to group Christianity and Judaism together" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian)

"Messianic Judaism is a modernist and syncretic movement of Protestant Christianity that incorporates some elements of Judaism and other Jewish traditions into evangelicalism." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messianic_Judaism)

A final difference. Messianic Judaism incorporates so many Christian beliefs that it is not at all Judaism. And like many Christian denominations (not all), Messianic Judaism proselytizes to get new converts, whereas Judaism does not.

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“But the United States has traditionally backed democracies against autocracies. Today in Munich, Vice President Kamala Harris talked of the war crimes and atrocities the Russians have committed in Ukraine and said: ‘We have examined the evidence, we know the legal standards, and there is no doubt: These are crimes against humanity.’”

Yes, they are crimes against humanity, and Putin must be stopped!!!

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The United States has NOT traditionally supported democracies over autocracies. Look at the incalculable damage it has done in Latin America by overthrowing legitimately elected governments which were perceived to be left-leaning or socialist.

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The only relatively acknowledged US organized coup over a democratically elected, secular government in Iran degenerated into the oppressive theocracy we see today.

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Ffs,

Different time, different era an I suspect a Republican at the helm.

It was an absolute monarchy btw. Remember the Shah?

The people rebelled and they won and were promised much.

Now they are rebelling again against the small minded misogynistic violent murderous comptrollers.

Answer me … a young woman should be beaten ,by men ,to death because her fashionista scarf wasn’t tied right …

Young men are hanged .. crime is supporting young woman’s protest… like being on the street.

Read and understand

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The coup that brought the Shah into power, basically backed by big Oil interests in the US and CIA (Moussadeq who was overthrown wanted to nationalize the oil fields), was in 1953.

The Shah was overthrown in 1979--remember Carter lost, partly due to the hostage crisis in Tehran? The Shah was a brutal dictator, his regime tortured many people and initially, it was a nationalistic movement that finally managed to gather enough strength to lash back and get rid of him--which got taken over by the extreme Mullahs.

As we watch Carter in hospice now, never forget that Reagan sent envoys behind the scenes to slow down negotiations, promising $$ to these Mullahs, so Carter couldn't claim the 'win' of bringing home the hostages--the hostages were released the moment Reagan placed his hand on the bible to swear an oath to protect our Constitution. Outright treason that may have also tipped the balance against Democratic forces that were still nascent in Iran at the time, because Reagan and his Oil buddies continued to reward the Mullahs handsomely.

Anyone visiting Iran in the 70s would never have believed by 1980 the cosmopolitan, sophisticated (almost European) Iranian elite would be under the thumb of religious police. Their sophistication was unmatched at the time in the region.

A long and complicated history. Yes, CIA did a lot of damage by picking dictators through the 60s. But there were a lot of other currents and undertows involved in that disaster.

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Talia You are correct that America’s ‘democratic principles’ abroad in recent generations have not reflected our self-proclaimed ‘exception is.’ We should and can do better. As I reflect on the Soviet Union, Putin’s Russia, Western colonialism, African fragmentation, and much more, I suggest that ‘he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

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Not just recent generations but from the beginning of our history, the tension between supporting democratic principles and colonialism usually leaned towards colonialism. How we got Texas, the southwest (Mexican War), our treatment of the Philippines, Viet Nam, S. America, etc. What we couldn't buy, we just annexed.

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Dot Like the British did before us—and the Roman Empire much earlier. I guess that Switzerland wasn’t ‘expansionist,’ though I’m not sure how the diverse cantons were assembled.

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And the Greeks before Rome. I read a comment once about Christianity being a cult that killed off the old Greek and Roman religions. It gave me a whole new perspective on the Christian in Judaeo-Christian.

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Dot Oh those crafty Athenians. They turned the Delian League into their own imperial club and shot daggers at the Spartans.

As for the Crusaders, their activities often were ‘non-Christian,’ while Saladin conducted himself with honor. Were the Crusaders fore-bearers of today’s Evangelical Christinas?

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Like with everything else the US always supported what was in the interest of the US. That's every country's right - one should just always keep it in mind. Sometimes that interest just matches what the majority of the population of the other country wants.

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That's not entirely true. The US government has always supported what was in the interest of the corporations that support the politicians who run the government. It was not in the US interest to interfere in the Middle East. For example, it was not in our long term interest to interfere with Iran in 1953, but British Petroleum took issue with democratically elected Mohammed Mossedegh nationalizing the oil business in Iran so they could build schools, hospitals, etc., so the CIA overthrew him, reinstalled the Shah, trained his secret police, SAVAK, and started the reign of terror that ended up with the Islamic revolution in 1979, which inspired us to back Saddam Hussein next door and you all know the rest. We are still dealing with the fallout from that. If we had supported democracy instead of a foreign oil business, the Middle East could have become a region of democracy instead of the mess it is now. Same with Central America. Why do we have so many people seeking asylum here? Because of our long term policy of destabilization in the region which has ended up with people fleeing failed states. All in the interest of private companies. Read Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. It's a good description of our mid to later 20th century policies and how they have wreaked global havoc, all underpinned by conservative philosophies of people like Milton Friedman. The interests of the people of the US have rarely had anything to do with any of it.

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The interests of the people of the US have had their champions including some influential public movements, but (though not for the first time) the power of money has increasingly "tr#mped" the public's interests in the last four decades. But yes, Iran came immediately to mind as a poster child for the evil wrought by conscienceless, extortionate greed. Reaganomics made the very rich waaay richer, many poorer and most more harried and less secure. That clear from the governments own stats. There are businesses that I admire and some I have genuinely mourned when they closed, but those that live by the "Chicago School" doctrine to "maximize profit" irrespective of the cost to others, have organized around sociopathy.

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Totally agree with you and should have been more specific - the US does what is in the interest of corporate US and tells the ignorant masses, who have to foot the bill, be it by providing soldiers or financing the military, that it is in their own interest.

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🎯💯

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Yes! We reap what we sow…

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The Shock Doctrine was compelling, and it remains one of the most frightening narratives of how we got to present day economics and political violence.

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