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Tag: Donald Trump

Freedom of Religion According to Evangelicals 

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I spent fifty years in the Christian church. Twenty-five of those years were spent pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. I attended an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Bible College in the 1970s. Most my Christian life was spent either attending or pastoring Baptist churches. As young aspiring pastor, I was taught that there was a strict separation between church and state; that freedom of religion was absolutely crucial to the life of the American Republic and to the status of religion. Church and state were equal planes, each having their sphere of influence. Churches and preachers didn’t meddle in matters of state, and the government was expected to keep its nose out of church business. In the late 1970s, things began to change with the establishment of the Moral Majority by Paul Weyrich, Ed McAteer, and Jerry Falwell. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, scores of parachurch groups were started for the express purpose of reclaiming America for God. These promoters of American nationalism and exceptionalism flexed their muscles during the recent 2016 presidential election, delivering to Americans their next president, Donald Trump.

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The last thirty years have brought a radical change in Evangelical thinking concerning the freedom of religion and separation of church and state. The impenetrable barrier between church and state that President John F. Kennedy spoke of in the 1960s is now considered a fabrication of liberals meant  to destroy Evangelical, conservative Catholic, and Mormon Christianity. One presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, even went so far as to say that the separation of church and state is a myth; that the founding fathers never meant to exclude Christians and their religion from influencing and controlling government. These deniers of separation of church and state believe, to the man, that the United States has been uniquely chosen by God — a special nation above all others. Believing that the United States is a Christian nation, these theocrats spend their waking hours attempting to take over government at every level. Having trampled over the wall of separation of church and state, these warriors for God intend on returning America to what they consider its Christian roots. Now that Donald Trump has been elected president and God-fearing, flag-waving Republicans control Congress, we can expect to see a full-bore frontal assault on laws and policies meant to keep church and state separate.

While Evangelicals have discarded the notion of the separation between church and state, considering it myth, they continue to say that they support the First Amendment and the idea of freedom of religion. However, their idea of freedom of religion is far different from what has generally been understood in the past. The freedom of religion and separation of church and state go hand-in-hand. Can we have the freedom to worship or not worship as we please if the government gives preference to Christianity? As history clearly shows, any time religion and state are one, freedoms and liberty are lost and people die. Who is it that is clamoring for the national registration of Muslims and the banning of immigrants from non-Christian countries? Who is it that is demanding that prayer and Bible study be permitted in public schools?  Who is it that wants creationism taught as science and the 10 Commandments posted on public school classroom walls? Who is it that is tirelessly working to overturn societal progress on same-sex marriage, homosexuality, and abortion? Who is it that is clamoring for the government to adopt a nationwide voucher program that will pay for students to attend private Christian schools? Evangelicals and their conservative compatriots in other sects, that’s who.

So when Evangelicals talk about the freedom of religion, remember what they really mean is freedom for THEIR  religion, and their religion alone. While they with their lips say that they support the freedom of all religions, what they really mean is that they support your right to worship your God freely as long as it doesn’t interfere with or influence the American religion — Christianity — and its control of government. Muslims, Buddhists, and other non-Christian religions will be tolerated only so far as they stay out of the way. According to theocratic Evangelicals, their God alone is the one true ruler over all, and the Bible is the standard by which we should not only govern our lives but our nation. And those atheists who have tirelessly worked to make sure the wall of separation of church and state is absolute? They will be expected to stop harassing fine Christian school officials and government leaders who only want to follow the dictates of God and the Bible. People who spent their lives working to change the legal system and its brutal punishment of the poor and people of color will likely see a return to the days of an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth. Again, appeals will be made to the Bible and its code of justice. It should not surprise anyone when Evangelicals call for re-criminalizing homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and marijuana use.

Remember these things the next time your Evangelical friends, family members, or coworkers say they support the freedom of religion. You might want to ask them what they mean by “freedom of religion.” Do they mean freedom equally for all religions? Do they mean freedom to not believe in any gods at all?  Do they support the separation of church and state? If not, do they believe America is a Christian nation? Would they be okay with a Muslim president or the building of a mosque next door to their Baptist Church?  If Christian prayers  and Bible readings are permitted in public schools, would they be okay with Muslim prayers and Buddhist teachings being given the same level of support? As you ask these types of questions, you will likely find out that what your Evangelical acquaintances really mean when they say freedom of religion is “freedom for the Christian religion.” Believing that secularism equals socialism and communism, these worshipers of the Christian God want a culture that is dominated and controlled by Christian beliefs and philosophies.

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Now that God’s Only Party (GOP) controls  the federal government and most state governments,  we can expect to see attempts to derail and destroy the social progress of the last fifty years. I suspect that savvy Evangelical parachurch groups will use state and federal courts to bulldoze the wall of separation of church and state, leaving its rubble as a monument to the days when social progressives thought they could challenge the authority of the Christian God. And it is for this reason that those of us who value religious freedom must not idly stand by while Evangelicals attempt to remake America into a new version of the 1950s. Don’t think for a moment that such monumental societal change cannot happen. It can and it will if we stand by and do nothing. It is time for us to quit whining about Bernie and Hillary losing. Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States and he has a Republican majority behind him who is anxious to re-create America in the image of the capitalistic Christian God. If Trump succeeds in putting several Antonin Scalia-like justices on the Supreme Court, we can expect to see a rapid undoing of decades of social progress. Sensing that they might have a short window in which get their way, Evangelicals will be working overtime to make sure that Trump and Congress put God back on the throne of the United States of Christian America. Those of us who value and understand freedom of religion and the separation of church and state must do everything in our power to make sure that this does not happen.

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If you do not support the following groups, I encourage you to do so.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Freedom from Religion Foundation

American Atheists

American Humanist Association

American Civil Liberties Union

People For the American Way

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Praise Jesus! Donald Trump Won! by Jim Bakker

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This is the one hundred and thirty-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of con artist Jim Bakker and friends thanking Jesus for electing Donald Trump.

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My Final Thoughts on the Election of Donald Trump by Tristan Vick

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Guest post by Tristan Vick. Tristan Vick is an author and good friend. You can read his writing at Advocatus Atheist.

After the election I took a hiatus from social media and the Internet. I was too disturbed, disgusted, and disappointed to even gather a coherent thought let alone talk meaningfully about it. Now I feel I have regained some semblance of sanity and will share with you my final thoughts and opinions on the whole Trump election.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed Trump’s plans always involve doing the opposite of what is reasonable,  prudent, or right.

According to Trump himself, he’s going to quit social healthcare, regardless of who it affects. Very unwise.

He’s going to quit the Asian Pacific Trade deal, never mind that it took decades to work out and it will benefit everyone involved. Very ill-advised.

He’s going to get rid of Muslims and illegal aliens. Never mind that’s racial profiling (evil) and doesn’t make logistic sense on any rational scale. Very-xenophobic and racist.

He’s going to ban reporters  from saying “mean” things about him even if they’re true. Very fascist and totalitarian.

And he feels Global Warming isn’t really real, so why bother, even though the science is in and it states that Global Warming is definitely real. Very ignorant.

And his lies are endless. People complained about Hillary lying all the time, but her lies were to cover things up. They were strategic. You may not have agreed with them, or liked her very much, but Trump’s lying is far worse! All he knows how to do is lie.

First he’s going to revoke the marriage equality thing, but then he’s claiming he never said such things and that it’s perfectly fine for gays to marry and he’s not going to change the law but uphold it. But you can never really know what he’s thinking, because he says one thing, then says another, then claims he said neither, and everyone is like, yeah, that’s normal.

Yeesh.

In the words of Jon Oliver, “This is not normal.”

And all I can wonder and be terribly impressed by are those who voted for him thinking that the things he says don’t carry any moral weight, that they don’t matter, that they aren’t hurtful because, luckily, most those who voted for Trump are the white privileged, albeit sorely under-educated and morally retarded.

I use retarded in its literal sense of retardation. Not as an ad hominem. I don’t think people are acting retarded, but their moral reasoning is clearly retarded, leaving them to make bad moral decisions. Concepts like altruism, fairness, kindness, virtue, compassion, empathy and the like are absent from their vocabularies. It’s why Trump was so popular with them.

Yes, the fact of the matter is, I’m appalled and horrified by the anti-intellectual and morally vacant claims of Trump and his entire campaign.

But…I’m MORE appalled and terrified by the people who voted for him thinking he was the lesser of two evils or that he really would make America great again.

If I knew how to wage a war on all those who embrace blissful ignorance as if it was their God given right, then I wouldn’t be so bothered by Trump and his crippling ignorance and vile rhetoric. But the fact that he feels it his duty to inflict his painful ignorance and debauched rhetoric on the rest of us, and his ignorant supporters gladly eat up his nonsensical propaganda like yummy, yummy candies, makes me very worried for my country.

Then there are the other type of Trump supporters who get mad at the so-called-justice warriors calling Trump out on all his BS. It’s really strange how mad they get at honest and good people trying to criticize a not so honest and not so good person who they seem to idolize. Very strange. Can’t really explain it apart from the blatant ignorance part and retardation of any moral sense a decent person might have.

But I digress. I’ve been ranting about social justice for over a decade in my writing, my books, on my five blogs, in numerous OpEds, on social media and elsewhere. And it’s impacted about zero percent of the people who obviously voted for Trump.

I don’t think many realize how disconcerting that is. I wasn’t expecting to change millions of minds. But I was hoping that by speaking reason, by being virtuous, and living an ethical life and upholding high moral principles, people would read and say this makes more sense than what this right wing alt news site is claiming.

As disappointed as I felt after the election, I thought, I’m quitting Facebook. It obviously doesn’t do any good. And it’s true. There’s no breaching the bubble. Everyone sets up their own social-political-global bio-dome and never come out of it.

I’ve been luckier than most too. I’ve traveled the world. Been to 14 countries. Been forced to open my mind. I’ve had to learn to understand other peoples and cultures. I’ve had to step outside my bio-dome. I’ve stood on the precipice of an entirely new worldview, terrified of what I might discover, but knowing there was no going back. Only going forward.

I sometimes take it for granted that most people have never had to face this very real crisis. They haven’t had to grapple with reality in this way. They’ve been content to live in the blissful seclusion their bio-domes and internet safe-spaces can afford them.

They don’t want to face reality. Hell, they don’t have the skill set for it. Which is why, the things Trump says makes sense to them. He speaks their same language. The language of ignorance and fear. Of a person with a worldview so astonishingly narrow it could split the atom.

In the grander scheme of things, Trump is like a pimple. A redish-orange crusted whitehead just needing to be popped. His legacy will do some serious damage. How could it not? The gushing ooze of his loathsome ideas will ooze all over us like a cum-blasted-whore at an orgy, and his shameful level of ignorance and disgraceful lack of moral sense will make sure that everyone gets a taste. Those who voted for him will share in the culpability of the damage of his reprehensible actions and words and that which he blithely inflicts upon the nation he swears he wants to make great again.

But greatness doesn’t come from tearing down others, and that’s all Trump has really offered. His policies are bogus. His foreign policy is non-existent. He lacks all leadership qualifications. He’s not dignified or skilled enough to handle diplomatic matters. He has no military service. His legacy is on fake, failed universities, slanderous abuse to women and minorities, and litany of crashed-and-burned business with heaps of bankruptcy. Those are facts. And people actually thought, well, this is better that voting for the status quo. This will at least bring some real change.

Maybe in this they are partially right. Maybe Trump will be the catalyst to usher along the change we need. The change that says, you fucking morons…you voted for this prick, now reap the benefits and suffer–and then, when you’re screaming your safe-word through your mouth gag, then, that’s when we’ll begin to want real change and not the bad facsimile that Trump offers in false promises and hollow convictions.

Of course, after the clusterfuck the next four years will undoubtedly prove to be, others will be left to clean up his mess. And after the deforestation needed to produce enough tissues to get Trump’s filth off us, we’ll do the only thing we can do…move forward. Because there is no going back. Not after this.

And, moreover, there is no “Making America Great Again.” If you bought into that lie, sorry, you’re #DAF. There is no bygone time of perfect peace and prosperity. There is no point in time where America could lay claim to being the pinnacle of greatness everyone imagines it once was. That’s always been an illusion. A pipe-dream. But that’s the thing we need to chase. That’s what will keep us moving forward. The pursuit to make America great, but full well realizing it will never be great again. The competition isn’t with other countries or nations. The competition is with ourselves. Can we be greater than yesterday? Can I make the person I am today better than the person I was yesterday–you see, that’s the real challenge. That’s what the whole pursuit of becoming great again is about. It’s about chasing the ideal–about pushing forward.

Trump’s lie was sweet and tempting though. To slip back into some magical bygone era–where everything was flowers and sunshine. Yeah, right. Any level-headed person in touch with reality could see the lie for what it was. But so many bought into it, for whatever reasons. Maybe they were down on their luck, maybe the economy had kicked them in the nuts, maybe they were the disenfranchised. I doesn’t matter. They bought into the lie, and they voted a vulgar imbecile into the highest office in the land. Because he promised them a cure to all their woes.

But after the election, there was the lingering sense of dread in all of us who were privy to the reality of the situation. Those of us who remained firmly disillusioned to the lies we were being fed. We felt sick to our stomachs after. Because that was the moment we realized all those sweet lies really only amounted to a mountain of arsenic.

It was devastating to say the least.

But like I said…

The only thing we can do is go forward.

Keep struggling to try to make America better than it was yesterday. But it will be a hard and long four years before America can ever lay claim to decency let alone greatness again. And the fact that this doesn’t bother the nearly 60 million who voted for Trump sure as hell bothers me.

Because, the truth of the matter is, the people who bought into the lie will be trying to take two-steps back for every step forward the nation makes together. We’ll lose some ground in the next four years, I practically guarantee it.

But what’s the use of complaining, right? It doesn’t do a lick of good. People are enjoying the psychedelic ride of the insane acid trip too much to care about reality right now. And snapping our fingers in front of their faces and shouting, “snap out of it,” isn’t going to do much good.

But I jot down these thoughts now; as a matter of record. As a way of trying to get past this undeniable trauma, and reminding myself, all we can do is move forward.

That’s going to have to be good enough, because at the moment, that’s the best any of us can hope to do.

Christians Say The Darnedest Things: Trump and Republicans Ushering in Spiritual Revival

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For generations now, the American church has been declining in both relevance and number as it sought to placate sinners rather than model holiness, call for repentance, and watch Jesus save them. The hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya-with-culture way of doing church looked like it was modeled after the accommodate-and-yield way of doing politics (especially in the Republican Party). “Whatever we can do to keep you from getting mad” has been the mantra of both for decades.

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Americans were drawn to Donald Trump because of his fearless tell it like it is attack on what’s plainly and clearly wrong with the nation.  That same go-along-to-get-along mentality he railed against in government has clearly trickled into the churches and found a home.  We have hope for a better tomorrow in this country because a few pastors and Christian leaders boldly stood up and said Trump’s vision for America was more in line with biblical values and our Founders intent than Clinton’s dream of open borders, taxpayer funded abortion, and gun control.

Something is going on in America and it’s not just about the president.  Republicans are now in control of the White House, both houses of Congress, and a record number of state legislatures and governorships.  Liberals in government have been telling the American people for too long to “sit down and shut up” while they tell us what we need to do and even think.  At one point in her campaign Hillary Clinton even said, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”  Mrs. Clinton wanted the government in charge of changing religious beliefs.  People are obviously fed up with it.  And the same goes for liberals and progressives in the church.  People are sick of it.

Smart churches that are experiencing growth have found that people are actually hungry for plain talk from the pulpit.  America’s parishioners are rejecting the progressive religious message just as they are rejecting the progressive political message.  They are sick and tired of being told by programmed clergy that the Bible doesn’t mean what it clearly states.

This country, as demonstrated by the 2016 presidential election, is ripe for a message of repentance, renewal, and restoration!  Someone has said that the electorate voted to make America great again and the Church should decide to make America a Christian nation again.

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Now is the time to speak truth to power from the halls of Congress to the padded pews in the vaulted ceilings of our church sanctuaries. The Left will call it hate speech, bigotry, and a long list of words ending in ‘phobia.’ But it is crystal clear that people are ripe for straight talk on both politics and religion. We will always have a welcome and needed contingent of people calling the body of Christ to love, forgive, and accept God’s love. Thank goodness. But what we have lacked for a long time is the voice of the prophet thundering about God’s judgment on unrepented sin. Surprisingly, we find out that people actually want to know God doesn’t look the other way when we sin.

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This may be our last chance. The political climate has actually paved the way for it. People are responding to plain talk. If our preachers will stop apologizing for what is in the Bible and start reminding people that God is both loving and holy, teaching about forgiveness and Heaven as well as God’s judgment and hell, we just might have a revival in the country. We might make America a Christian nation once again. I wonder if that might have been the real purpose in the miracle of the Trump victory?

— Ray Rooney, Jr., American Family Association, On the Cusp of National Revival?,  November 18, 2016

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Praise Jesus for Donald Trump by Mario Murillo

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The prayers of the saints have been answered.  Hallelujah!  Political Correctness is done.  Hallelujah!  The evangelical vote is back!  Hallelujah!  Israel has a new friend. Hallelujah!  The Swamp will be drained.  Hallelujah!  The justice that our government refused to deliver came from the people.  Hallelujah!   Abortion has a new enemy.  Hallelujah!   A leader will work for us and not our enemies.  Hallelujah!   The Supreme Court will be saved.  Hallelujah!

The people have repudiated the Obama legacy.  Hallelujah!  Obamacare will be replaced.  Hallelujah!   America has been spared.  Hallelujah!  Instead of filth, there will be faith in the White House.  Hallelujah!  The House, the Senate, and the President will work together for hard working Americans.  Hallelujah!  Outreach ministries are safe from the IRS.  Hallelujah!  A corrupt mainstream media has been discredited and neutralized. Hallelujah!

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Today, you are indeed, witnessing a singular miracle in American history. Donald Trump faced insanely impossible resistance. He was pronounced dead again and again. Today, he stands with humility, on the cusp of making America Great Again. Hallelujah!

Mario Murillo, Mario Murillo Ministries, Hallelujah!, November 9, 2016

Did Prayers to the Evangelical God Deliver the Presidency to Donald Trump?

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Shortly after Donald Trump was named the winner of the 2016 presidential election, scores of Evangelicals came to this site looking for Jeremiah Johnson’s prophecy about Trump, one that stated that he would become president. Johnson “prophetically” farted and now Evangelicals are stopping by to let me know how sweet it smells. Sadly, it is impossible to reason with people who believe God speaks through prophets, telling us what will happen in the future. It does not matter to them that these prophets are wrong most of the time and, according to the Bible, should be stoned to death. Looking for confirmation of their political, social, and religious beliefs, Evangelicals scour the internet searching for God sightings.

These are the same people who believe that, thanks to their prayers, the Christian God interceded in the presidential election, making sure that the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, pussy-grabbing orange-skinned Trump was elected. What evidence do they have for this? None. Much as in the case when Evangelicals pray over lost keys and God leads them to the exact place they left their keys, there is no evidence answered prayers were instrumental in the election. White Evangelicals voted and this is one of the reasons, come January, that the New York Clampetts will take up residence in the White House.

If God answered Evangelical prayers for a Trump presidency, what does this say about the master Puppeteer? It says that the Evangelical God thinks that the behaviors and policies espoused by Christian Donald Trump and his traveling troop of imbeciles are copacetic. This means that the Evangelical God is fine with demeaning and sexually assaulting women, deporting millions of hardworking undocumented workers, torturing prisoners, and raining death upon the heads of helpless civilians who live in countries that “baby” Christian Trump deems to be anti-American.

If it is God who put Donald Trump in the White House, then surely it is fair to hold God accountable for the deeds of HIS presidential choice. If Evangelicals want me to believe that there is a God in the heavenlies whom they have on speed dial, then I am going to hold that same God accountable for what happens on Donald Trump’s watch.

My Thoughts on the Complicity of Rural America in the Election of Donald Trump

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I am appalled, as are tens of millions of other Americans, by the fact that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. I voted for Bernie Sanders during the primary season, believing that his progressive views were (are) the best way forward for the United States. Sanders’ inability to connect with older, rural, white Americans, and the Democratic National Committee’s attempt to derail him, doomed Sanders’ candidacy. While many Bernie supporters think that he would have beaten Trump had he received the nomination, I am of the opinion that this is little more than wishful thinking. Yesterday, I cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton primarily because I thought (and still do) that a Trump presidency will be disastrous for America. I was willing to overlook Clinton’s scandal-plagued career and her connection to Wall Street because I believed at the time (and still do) that electing Donald Trump would send the United States careening down a path that could lead to world war. A Clinton presidency would likely have been more of the same, a sameness that I could, if need be, stomach for four more years. As a progressive and a liberal, I’ve come to see that neither political party represents me. In 2008, swept up by promises of hope and change, I believed that Barack Obama would bring fundamental change to America. By 2012, I realized that idealistic hope and change had been swallowed up by an obstructionist Congress, lobbyists, big banks, and Wall Street. While President Obama talked a good game, his allegiances were still with corporate America. This became clear in the aftermath of the housing bubble collapse, when the Obama justice department failed to prosecute those who caused the collapse. The political élite ignored how angry middle America was over the pain and suffering caused by the last major recession. Having been ignored for decades, these older, white, Christian Americans see in Donald Trump a man who is willing to stand up for them; someone who speaks their language and empathizes with their pain; someone who doesn’t see them as deplorable. These are the people who swept Donald Trump into the White House. The majority of baby boomers and older people voted for Trump. Over eighty percent of Evangelicals cast their vote for the Republican nominee. Most of these people were never going to vote for a Democrat, so there is literally nothing that Trump could do that would turn them away from voting for him.

Next year, I will be 60 years old. Outside of a few years in California in the 1960s and Arizona and Michigan in the 1970s, I have spent my life living in Ohio. I have watched Ohio turn from a union-strong democratic state to a solidly red state where virtually every major political office is held by a Republican. As an Evangelical Christian and pastor, I was pleased to see Ohio move to the right. I suppose that, if I were still an Evangelical, I would be actively involved in trying to turn back the social progress of the past eight years. I have no doubt that I would have been working to criminalize abortion, shove gays back into the closet, reinstitute marriage as between a man and woman, force transgenders to use the bathroom that corresponded to their birth sex, and above all, I would been working to establish God and the Bible as the absolute authority in matters public and private. Fortunately, for me, my political and social views began to change in the late 1990s. While I was still conservative in many ways, my views began to creep leftward as I realized how hurtful and harmful many of my views were. By the time I left the ministry in 2005, I had moved to the far left of the evangelical tent, and had I not ultimately lost my faith I am sure I would now be a liberal Christian.

I now find myself quite alone in a sea of ravenous Evangelical Republicans. I know that there are numerous area residents who feel as I do. What do we do, now that our fellow citizens decided to elect a xenophobic, misogynistic, race baiting man unfit for public office? I live in Defiance County Ohio. Seventy-one percent of registered voters voted yesterday. Sixty-four percent of them voted for Donald Trump. Twenty-nine percent voted for Hillary Clinton. In nearby Fulton, Henry, and Williams counties, the splits were pretty much the same. Even worse, in Paulding County, seventy-two percent of people voted for Donald Trump, while Hillary Clinton received twenty-three percent of the vote. In nearby Putnam County, eighty percent of voters voted for Trump. A measly fifteen percent voted for Clinton.

While most rural Northwest Ohio counties have unemployment rates below state and national levels and jobs are plentiful, the fact is that much of the area has not yet recovered from the housing collapse. Yes, jobs are plentiful, but wages are not. My wife works for a large manufacturing concern who is having a hard time attracting new employees. If you find yourself looking for a job that starts out at $10 or $11 an hour, then move to rural Northwest Ohio. Housing is relatively cheap, as are groceries. If jobs are plentiful and housing and food are affordable, why do so many local residents still fear the future? One of the reasons is that wages are stagnant, and for those who work in local factories, after they reach a certain wage level all they receive are token, often laughable wage increases. The same workers have had to absorb scandalous increases in insurance costs. When my wife started with her employer in 1997, her insurance plan had a $300 deductible and a $1,200 maximum out-of-pocket. Today, her insurance plan has a $3,750 deductible and a $6,000 maximum out-of-pocket. During this time span, the amount that she pays for insurance premiums has gone up over 200%. Outrageous costs such as these are dragging many rural Americans right out of the middle class.

The housing collapse destroyed local property values. While values have improved in recent years, they are still below what they were in the 2000s. My wife and I bought our house in 2007 at the height of the boom market. Over the past 10 years we have made $25,000 of improvements on our home, including a new roof, windows, doors, and major inside remodeling. Yet, if we sold our house today, I doubt that it would bring much more than $10,000 over what we paid for it. Three houses across the street from us have sold in the last two years. All of the sellers were forced to reduce their prices in order to sell their homes. That said, housing prices are cheap, often hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper than similar homes in cities and on the East and West Coast.

During the Obama administration, environmental regulations have been used to saddle local residents with increasing water and sewer costs. In nearby Defiance, residents are having to deal with water and sewer bills that could, when all the forced EPA mandates are met, reach $200 a month. While the EPA is absolutely right to force Defiance to stop dumping shit in local waterways, I do understand the frustrations of local residents who are forced to pay ever-increasing utility bills without any meaningful wage increases. The small community I live in had to install a sewer system for similar reasons. Fortunately, the project was shovel ready and the village received over $1 million of TARP money to pay for the new system. If the village of Ney had not received this money, our water and sewer bills would be much more like those of Defiance.

Rural Northwest Ohio is religiously dominated by Evangelical, mainline Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic churches. These sects are decidedly white, conservative, anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, and Republican. They are an aging population who think that the 1950s were the best times of their lives. Farms dot the landscape, and the latest election results show that farmers overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, even though, if Congressional Republicans have their way, drastic cuts will be made to farm programs.  Quite frankly, the only thing that will turn rural areas such as this one towards a more progressive path is for there to be a lot of funerals. Until grandma and grandpa die off, rural Northwest Ohio will continue to be a bastion of Republican values. I will do what I can to be a voice that counters their delusions, and I know many others will do the same, but we do not have sufficient numbers to make a meaningful difference in the short-term. Our best approach is to begin helping the millennial and gen-x generations find their political feet. Both the Democratic and Republican parties attempted to co-opt younger Americans for political gain. These young voters bought into Barack Obama’s message of hope and change. Eight years later, many of these same voters believe that the two-party system is broken beyond repair. It is for this reason many young Americans supported Bernie Sanders, hoping that he would split off from the Democratic Party and run an independent campaign. Disheartened by Sanders’ pragmatic refusal to do so, many of these disillusioned young voters stayed home on election day, allowing idealism to trump pragmatism. It remains to be seen if the millennial and gen-x generations will continue to support the two-party system, or will instead opt to burn the house to the ground and start a political revolution. I think Bernie Sanders is right when he says what America really needs is revolution. Perhaps after four years of being ravaged by an orange-skinned monster, America will be ready for a real hope-and-change revolution.

I am often asked why I continue to live in rural Northwest Ohio. Why would an atheist with socialistic/progressive/liberal values continue to live in an area dominated by God’s Only Party? The short answer is that this is where my children and grandchildren live, but there is more to my living here than just my love for family. First, I was born here. My father’s parents were Hungarian immigrants who settled in this area, operating a hundred-acre farm until both of them died in the 1960s. Both my mom and dad were raised on the farm. While my dad was raised in Ohio, my mom spent most of her younger years on a farm in Missouri. My rural country roots run deep. Polly and I recently celebrated our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. We have spent most of our married years living among rural people. The slow, lazy hum of rural life suits us. Good schools surround us and we have few of the fears that many city-dwellers face. While we lock our doors and cars out of habit, if we didn’t it is likely that nothing would happen. We know our neighbors, even though we have little in common with them. We are surrounded by wildlife and greenery, and the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Michigan are but short drives away. We know little of traffic jams, and when we go to the big cities of Toledo and Fort Wayne to indulge in that which only they can provide, we are always glad when we return home; and that’s the key word…home. Yes, I am angry that my fellow country folk played a big part in electing Donald Trump. I totally get the anger that many of my blue state friends have towards rural America. Their anger is warranted, but I hope they will remember that not every country hick or hillbilly is a Republican. This is my home, and I will, from my little corner of the universe, do what I can to make sure that Donald Trump is a one term president and that his harmful policies are kept from fruition. As disheartened as I am today, I know that I cannot remain silent. If my goal remains a better future for my children and grandchildren, then I owe it to them to muster what strength I can to defeat political ideologies that want to roll back progress. Throwing feces and writing screaming blog posts will gain me nothing. I must do what I’ve always done, and that is to be a loud voice for progressive values and the humanist ideal.

Donald Trump, Thieving Democrats, God is Pro-Life, And Jesus is the Cure for Heroin Addiction

Welcome to Defiance County, Ohio, home to Jesus and Donald Trump.

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Evidently, the person who put up this sign has never read the Bible. Had they bothered to do so, they would have found out that God is definitely not pro-life.

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This sign would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that the person who put it up really believes these things. Come Wednesday, I am sure she will be screaming long and hard about how Democrats stole the election from Donald Trump.

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Gamerz is a Defiance, Ohio video game store. While I certainly believe that every American has a right to voice their political views, it is not good for business to do so when you own a small business. Earlier in the day, the owner of Gamerz unfurled and hung two anti-Clinton banners above the sidewalk in the front of his business. He had taken them down by the time I took this photograph. Evidently, the owner is more interested in supporting Trump and disparaging Clinton than he is making money. He shall, most certainly, NOT get any of my money.

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The Gathering Place, Defiance, Ohio is a frequent contributor to my church sign series: On the The Road Looking for God’s True Church. While these signs wisely do not mention Donald Trump, rest assured Gathering Place congregants and pastors support Donald Trump. Those voting for Hillary Clinton will keep their heads down and mouths shut lest they give the appearance of standing against God’s chosen one, Donald, Pussy-gabbing Trump. Turning back our nation is code for “time to evict the Negro from the White House and replace him with an orange and white “baby”  Christian.”

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V.I.P Nails (and gym) in downtown Defiance wants passerbys to know that Jesus is the ONLY answer for those struggling with heroin addiction. In fact, their banner suggests that local police and drug rehab centers should STOP fighting against heroin and instead lead addicts to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Imagine a man jonesing for a heroin fix — willing to do ANYTHING to feed his need. Get saved? Sure, now can I have some s-m-a-c-k? Telling addicts that only Jesus can cure them is not only dangerous, it could also kill them. Yes, Defiance County has a heroin problem, but the solution is NOT a soul-saving experience with Jesus. What happens when the Jesus-fix wears off? Addicts go right back the streets, looking for the only God who can satisfy their needs.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Danger! Will Robinson, Hillary is Coming! by Nancy Campbell

nancy-campbellWords in [words] belong to Dr. Snarkapus

It’s hard to believe what is happening [liberals, communists, socialists, atheists, secularists, and humanists taking over America] in our nation, isn’t it? It’s difficult to comprehend the corruption in someone [Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump] who wants to lead our [Christian] country! There was a time [when exactly?] when America was the least corrupt nation in the world. Now it is rife at the top [especially since Obama took office]! But we thank [the Evangelical] God for answering prayer. We have been praying earnestly and consistently [look at us, so faithful in serving Jesus] for [the Evangelical] God to expose all deception, corruption, and the hidden agendas in our government. God is answering prayer and exposing it [exposing meaning Benghazi and Hillary’s emails].

We must keep praying. Praying begins with families, not the church. Are you praying earnestly [for Donald Trump to be elected] as a family each day for these coming elections which are just about upon us? This country is at tipping point [tipping point being Christianity losing its preferential seat at the cultural and political table]. These elections will determine the course of this nation and ultimately the world.

We must pray and we most vote against evil—against corruption [Hillary Clinton], against the murdering of babies in the womb right up until the day they are born (which is Hilary’s [sic] agenda) [which is a bold-faced lie Nancy Campbell keeps repeating over, and over, and over again] , against euthanasia, against the appointment of liberal Supreme Court judges (which Hilary [sic] plans to do) and it goes on and on [as does Nancy Campbell’s whining].

….

If you are not currently praying, can you begin today? [not today, my favorite TV show is on] Gather your family together at your evening meal tonight and PRAY TOGETHER, Everyone around the table. Don’t just pray. CALL out to God to save our nation [from Hillary Clinton]. You may have to rearrange your whole schedule. We can’t even consider that sacrifice when we consider that our nation hangs in the balances.

Can you imagine what could happen if every God-fearing, Bible believing family began to gather their family together morning and evening and cry out to God for this nation. [ yes, absolutely nothing]

— Nancy Campbell, Above Rubies, Are You Praying?, November 2, 2016

Local Christian Says My Letters to the Editor Belong in Library’s Fantasy Section

fantasy-bookI regularly write letters to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. I am one of a handful of liberal/secularist/humanist/atheist letter writers who challenge and rebut the never-ending stream of right-wing drivel that daily appears on the Crescent-News editorial page. Local Christians will often respond to my letters. Five men in particular: Daniel Gray, John Wilson, Larry Tonjes, Randall Peabody, and Richard Mastin have repeatedly over the years responded to my letters.  You can read the various responses to my letters here.

I recently wrote a letter to the editor concerning Evangelical support of Donald Trump. You can read my letter here. You can read previous letters to the editor here. In today’s Crescent-News, Daniel Gray responded to my latest letter, Gray, along with Richard Mastin, have gone out of their way to spread lies about me and besmirch my character — all in the name of Jesus, of course. Here is Gray’s response:

It seems Bruce Gerencser is completely ignoring the fact that the person who would be the First Husband has been accused of sexual assault and rape by no less than six women. You want that in the White House?

I find it very amazing that Gerencser would believe any of these women. The latest one is coming forward because Trump refused to loan her money for her failing food business in California, and this is a way to get back at him. The first one claimed to have been groped on a Braniff airline on a 707. Problem is there were no 707s at that time, only 727s, and the arm rest in first class is bolted and cannot be moved. Not to mention that $500,000 was deposited into her account after making the claim and it came from a high ranking Clinton campaign officer. Let’s not forget the $8 million worth of furnishings that Clinton had to return when the Secret Service caught her taking them from the White House.

Let’s not forget that she has used racial slurs against minorities or the Bimbo eruptions and her violation of the federal Anti-nepotism Act of 1968 when she tried to take over health care. The emails that show she is the one that ordered the stand-down of the rescue team for Benghazi and the 600 plus times she ignored ambassador Stevens when he begged for help. Or the simple fact that pay-to-play has been found in the recent Podesta emails.

What’s worse is that Hillary has told Goldman Sachs that her dream is to have a hemisphere-wide NAFTA from Chile to Canada. That would cut the union’s throats and yet they still want to endorse her. Say goodbye to GM and JM.

Isn’t it just strange that Gerencser, and his ilk want the government out of the bedroom, but then turn right around and demand that the government says who can and can’t get married? You can’t have it both ways, either they are not in the bedroom or they are. Mr. Gerencser’s letter is so full of half truths and myths that it would be better to be placed in the fantasy section of the public library.

People should vote for who they want, but just remember you may get what you asked for and there is no way to return it.

Daniel Gray
Defiance

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Christians Who Don’t Vote For Trump Guilty of Murder by Kenneth Copeland

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This is the one hundred and twenty-ninth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is video clip of Kenneth Copeland telling Christians why they MUST vote for Donald Trump. This video clearly shows that Copeland is endorsing Trump. In doing so, Copeland is in violation of Federal law. The IRS should, but won’t, strip Copeland’s “ministry” of its tax exempt status.

Video Link

Christians Say The Darnedest Things: Hillary Clinton Hates the Human Race by S.M. Hutchens

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Donald Trump is a nearly perfect icon of carnality, an unspiritual man who can be reasonably seen as having spent his entire life striving with remarkable devotion and energy after the riches he cannot take with him when he dies (i.e., he bears the image of a fool), and flouting the divine laws which limit and control the pleasures he seeks in wealth and its indulgences, cynically using the laws God has set in the world, as well as his fellow human beings, for his own enlargement, so that the charge of narcissism leveled against him seems as reasonable as the conclusion that while he claims to be a Christian he is in fact only a Presbyterian.

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Mrs. Clinton cannot be compared to Donald Trump simply as a person who will counter his more conservative policies with an opposing liberalism. She represents something dangerous to a geometrically higher degree than carnal depravity. America is in deep crisis, one of the signs of this being that its electors no longer enjoy the privilege of choosing between candidates who profess Christianity but have different ideas on how monies should be allocated or wars should be waged, but between carnal ambition and behavior on one hand, and on the other destruction of the created good of which Trump’s carnality is a mere perversion. Hillary operates in a far more spiritual sphere. Her familiars hate the incarnation of spirit in flesh (for they are pure spirit) pre-eminently the incarnation of God, and are intent on the degradation and destruction of the race in whom this image is found.

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The new spiritual order, a form of religion itself, has better ways of defining human life, the family, and sexual being, better ways to define and administer justice, better ways to educate and better goals and materials for education, ever-improving ways to direct and control, for their own good, the lives of people who don’t share the opinions of those Thomas Sowell identifies as the self-congratulatory “anointed”–who consider themselves, despite their massive and continual failures in experimental manipulations of society, the best and brightest, the natural ruling class.

This class has well-planned ways, especially through its homosexual office, to rid the polis of the influence of uncooperative religion, and, along with this, to neutralize the danger represented by any society functioning independent of government control. During the Obama administration one has seen significant adumbrations of this party’s willingness to use its powers to oppress and suppress those it perceives as enemies of the religion of progressivism, looking as it does to the dawn of a new age of universal peace and prosperity, for which it does not hesitate, like every utopian tyranny, to break anything that gets in its way, truth being its greatest enemy and the necessary first victim of its ravages.

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This is not only what may be expected from Hillary Clinton but is already operative in her and her colleagues in office, and to which her presidency will signal a further removal of restraint that will become most immediately evident in its control of a federal judiciary that operates according to party doctrine, and will for decades to come.  Her party and her office may be expected to continue reflecting a deep hatred of the human race, desire to make it at least as lawless and miserable as life in the cities it has for decades controlled, to break every rule of faith or honor that opposes them, to weaken the country’s moral and physical ability to resist destructive forces, to the end of exterminating the nation both spiritually and materially.

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In this scheme of things the merely carnal man, the man of weak and desire-wracked flesh, is still a man and as such a threat to beings who despise incarnate spirits above all things. A man who simply runs things according to his appetites is better, even if he is very bad indeed, than someone who is controlled by not by flesh and blood, but spiritual rulers of this present darkness, who have already shown copious evidence of hating the human race through the Party of Abortion.  That is why I will vote for Donald Trump and hope for things that I could not reasonably hope for under Hillary Clinton.

— S.M Hutchens, Mere Comments, How I Will Vote and Why, October 17, 2016