Friday, February 21, 2014

End-of-Week News Roundup: And Then There's Kansas (and Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Other States)

And then there's Kansas--and Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and other states:

Fred Clark at Slacktivist on Kansas and "religious freedom" for me but not for thee: 

This bill is the epitome of the recent effort to redefine “religious liberty” as a way of enshrining the privileges of the privileged.

And the law not only protects individuals, religious assemblies and religious institutions, it also would now protect private businesses, who under this new law could now claim to have "religious beliefs."

Dana Liebelson for Mother Jones on who's behind this sudden proliferation of nationwide anti-gay laws claiming a "right" to discriminate--because "religious freedom":

Republicans lawmakers and a network of conservative religious groups has been pushing similar bills in other states, essentially forging a national campaign that, critics say, would legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

And Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches on the same question--who's driving these "religious freedom" anti-gay bills?:

[G]iven that their supporters are backed by national groups like the Ethics and Public Policy Center and powerful state affiliates of Focus on the Family, as well as state Catholic conferences, it's not likely that they will cowed by periodic setbacks. This is probably just the beginning.

As Fred Clark points out in his article at the first link above, the Ethics and Public Policy Center is "basically George Weigel, Inc." That's to say that with George Weigel, a leading Catholic neocon thinker, and the state Catholic conferences driving this anti-gay, bogus "religious freedom" movement across the nation, we're looking at a movement with deep roots in the Catholic right.

Here's Steve Benen at the Maddow Blog on the nationwide push: 

Congressional Republicans have taken a newfound interest in anti-abortion legislation; at least nine states have taken up "religious liberty" bills that would allow anti-gay discrimination; and Indiana has moved on a new measure to ban marriage equality.

David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement on the bill that Maine rejected yesterday, with the vote falling along partisan lines:

Like legislation proposed in Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, Oklahoma, and other states, the bill allows anyone to discriminate against gay people for any reason as long as they can claim they are acting on their sincere religious beliefs.

Andrew Sullivan on the theological basis of this anti-gay "religious freedom" movement:

I’ve had my say on this, but it’s worth reiterating that this bill has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. It is, rather, is an attack on Christian principles and a betrayal of the Gospels.

And Andrew Sullivan on the "acid test" for these bills:

It seems to me that the acid test for the new bills being prepared by the Christianist right with respect to religious freedom and marriage is whether they are discriminatory against gays and straights alike.

And Sullivan on why the Jim Crow analogy for these bills seems so plausible to so many of us:

And they wonder why the Jim Crow analogy seems so apposite to so many.

Here's Republican state senator Steve Yarbrough (via Shadee Ashtari at HuffPo) in Arizona, arguing for the bill permitting anti-gay discrimination in his state:

"This bill is not about allowing discrimination," Yarbrough said during a nearly two-hour debate on Wednesday. "This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith." 

And here's Kansas Republican representative Charles Macheers arguing for the bill in his state's House permitting discrimination against gay citizens (by way of Dylan Scott at TPM): 

"Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful. It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill," Kansas Rep. Charles Macheers, one of the Republicans who voted for that state's bill, said on the House floor.

And then there's bible, bible, bible: everywhere that these anti-gay, bogus "religious freedom" bills are now under consideration, people pushing the legislation are quoting the bible, defending their right to discriminate against a targeted subset of their fellow citizens because the bible says so: at Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner wonders on what basis journalist Damon Linker decides that it was illegitimate for slaveholders and segregationists to quote the bible to support their racist views, while it's legitimate for those bashing gays to quote the bible to defend their discrimination:

Who is Linker to say that slave owners and segregationists and racists misused the Bible to justify slavery, segregation, and racism, but that opposition to homosexuality is a "normative teaching . . . contained within the Judeo-Christian scriptures"?

Fred Clark may have part of the answer to Posner's question, as he comments on the insistence of churches that practice snake-handling that they're only taking the bible literally, after all:

The people most likely to insist on being "totally biblical" are the least likely to have noticed the total Bible.

And then there's John Milbank, as cited by Elizabeth Stoker in a Salon article about Rand Paul's recent attempt to fuse libertarianism and Christian belief:

Christianity is a politically inconvenient religion. It features, rather than a clear-cut and easily referred to legalism, what theologian John Milbank called "the anarchy of love."

So it goes, this week in late February in the nation with the soul of a church . . . .  

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