Category Archives: Religious Issues & Conflicts

MAGA & Neo-Confederate Racism, By the Numbers

[The most revealing analysis of the mythic underpinning of the authoritarian upsurge I’ve seen points straight to the “restoration” of a zombie version of white Jim Crow Dixie culture, circa 1920-1950. This survey bolsters that impression. Progressives who want to push back effectively against this drive need to get over the tendency to ignore this history & culture and its stubborn legacy.]

Washington Post — September 28, 2022

Just how racist is the MAGA movement? This survey measures it.

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

It has long been understood that the MAGA movement is heavily dependent on White grievance and straight-up racism. (Hence Donald Trump’s refusal to disavow racist groups and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” in the violent clashes at the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville.)

Now, we have numbers to prove it.

The connection between racism and the right-wing movement is apparent in a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.

The survey asked respondents about 11 statements designed to probe views on racism. For example: “White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.”

The pollsters then used their answers to quantify a “structural racism index,” which provides a general score from zero to 1 measuring a person’s attitudes on “white supremacy and racial inequality, the impact of discrimination on African American economic mobility, the treatment of African Americans in the criminal justice system, general perceptions of race, and whether racism is still significant problem today.” Higher scores indicate a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs.

 Continue reading MAGA & Neo-Confederate Racism, By the Numbers

Today Cubans Vote on Same Sex Marriage – & They May Say, “Si!”

Washington Post

Cuba sent gay men to work camps. Now it’s voting on same-sex marriage.

By Mary Beth Sheridan

September 24, 2022

After 79,000 neighborhood meetings, months of discussion and an outpouring of more than 300,000 suggestions from citizens, Cubans will vote in a referendum Sunday that could redefine family rights — including legalizing same-sex marriage.

The proposed new Family Code would be among the most progressive in Latin America, defying a long tradition of machismo in Cuba. In addition to approving same-sex marriage, it would allow gay couples to adopt, and increase the rights of women, the elderly and children.
Supporters call it a sign of the progress on LGBTQ+ issues under Cuba’s Communist government, which was once so hostile to gay men that it sent them to forced labor camps for “reeducation.”

Yet leaders of the influential Roman Catholic Church and the island’s growing evangelical movement have expressed unusually vocal dissent.

“It reminds me very much of the debate we had in Canada and the U.S. 10 or 20 years ago, about the role of the family, the role of gay rights,” said John Kirk, a Cuba scholar at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

What makes Cuba different is the political context. Gay rights activism has been channeled largely through the single-party system, rather than independent civil-society groups, which are restricted. The government has promoted the new law on billboards, at rallies and in official media. President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Thursday urged Cubans in a televised address to vote for the code, tying the balloting to support for the political system.

“Voting ‘yes’ is saying yes to unity, to the Revolution, to socialism,” he said.

That rankled government critics, who noted that Cubans were rarely given the opportunity to vote freely on other matters — such as choosing their leaders.
The vote comes at a time of widespread anger over food and electricity shortages. The economy is still hobbled by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and extra U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and partially maintained by the Biden administration.

The dissatisfaction raises the possibility that some Cubans could cast a protest vote.

“I understand that the rejection of the dictatorship will prompt many people to want to vote no, reflexively, so that the regime suffers a symbolic defeat,” independent journalist Mario Luis Reyes told the news site 14ymedio, run by the Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez. “But if the ‘no’ wins, those who will really be defeated are us.”

The 100-page proposal reflects a sea change in official attitudes toward gay rights in Cuba.
In the 1960s, after the triumph of Fidel Castro’s revolution, the Communist government exalted the “new socialist man” and repressed dissidents of all kinds. Gay citizens were fired from jobs and even sent to labor camps.

A leading figure in transforming such homophobic attitudes was sexologist Mariela Castro, the daughter of Fidel’s brother and fellow revolutionary, Raúl. She runs a government sex education institute and is a prominent advocate of gay rights.
Today, workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is outlawed, and the public health system provides gender-reassignment surgery free of charge.

The new family law would expand not just gay rights but also protections for women, children and the elderly. It urges couples to share housework equally, condemns family violence and insists that kids have a voice in family decisions.

“So this goes against the traditional paterfamilias [model], with the Latin father being in charge,” Kirk said.

Cuba’s Catholic bishops and other Christian religious leaders have spoken out strongly against the proposal. It could also get a thumbs-down from other social conservatives.

“The proposal is permeated by what is known as ‘gender ideology,’ which, as often happens with ideologies, is a construction of ideas that people want to impose by force onto reality, and wind up distorting it,” the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

The new measure, which would replace a 1975 family code, was discussed in more than 79,000 community meetings between February and April, and amended based on citizens’ suggestions. Cuba’s National Assembly passed it in July. It needs more than 50 percent of the votes cast in Sunday’s referendum to take effect. Typically, measures put to a referendum in Cuba receive overwhelming support, but the outcome this time is not as clear.

While the government has billed the referendum as an exercise in democracy, some critics say the rights of gay people shouldn’t be subject to a vote.

“The fact they are asking people what they think about the rights of a minority shows they don’t really understand how democracies work,” said Juan Pappier, senior Americas researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Alejandra Ibarra Chaoul contributed to this report.

Mary Beth Sheridan is a correspondent covering Mexico and Central America for The Washington Post. Her previous foreign postings include Rome; Bogota, Colombia; and a five-year stint in Mexico in the 1990s. She has also covered immigration, homeland security and diplomacy for The Post, and served as deputy foreign editor from 2016 to 2018.

Gavin Newsom takes Pro-Choice fight to Anti-Abortion States

On September 15, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that billboards with the assertive pro-choice messages below were going up in several states. Very striking. How many more to follow?





South Carolina? Way too close for my comfort. North Carolina could join his target list if the midterm elections go badly.





What’s this thing about states that start with “South”??





Hoosier daddy? Mike Pence has a plan . . .




The Buckeye Ban could STOP you here . . .





Politics aside, The flame of liberty will not be put out . . .

Preserving Liberty & Justice


Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion Vote Back on The Ballot

Esquire: Politics With Charles P. Pierce
The Logic Behind Dobbs Was Always Crap, and Michigan Is a Case in Point
“Leave it to the states,” they said, disingenuously.

By Charles P. Pierce — SEPT. 9, 2022

Friday’s entry in our new F*ck Around And Find Out archive comes to us from Michigan.

Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court

It seems that over 700,000 Michiganders signed a petition to keep abortion legal in that state. Of course, this is exactly what the Supreme Court suggested should happen when it stripped away that right from American women, which they’d had since 1973. “Leave it to the states,” the anti-choices howled for nearly 50 years.

Of course, once the question was put on the ballot, Republican monkeyshines ensued. From Politico:

The Michigan Supreme Court’s emergency ruling overrides last week’s party-line tie vote by the Board of State Canvassers, which blocked the certification of the proposed constitutional amendment.

The two Republicans on that panel sided with conservative groups that argued spacing and formatting errors on the text canvassers presented to voters rendered the entire effort invalid.

This is the kind of penny-ante ratfcking in which state GOP organizations specialize—and in which they glory, truth be told. Unfortunately for them, however, Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack can see a church by daylight. Continue reading Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion Vote Back on The Ballot

Russell Moore on Current U. S. Church splits, and their wider implications

An Excerpt From, “What Church Splits Can Teach Us About a Dividing America,”

Russell Moore, in Christianity Today:

“I asked a pastor of a large Methodist congregation what took the churches in the denomination so long to figure out that they must go in different directions.

He responded, “You are looking at this wrong, and a lot of people do. People think there are conservative churches and progressive churches and we just put the one group in one denomination and the other in another and then we’re all happy. You’re wrong.”

“Most congregations are not ‘blue’ or ‘red,’ if you want to use the partisan political analogy,” he said. “Most of the conservative congregations are 30 percent progressive, and most of the progressive congregations are 30 percent conservative. We’re not talking about a dividing line going down the middle of a denomination but a dividing line going down the middle of almost every individual church.”

After that conversation, I started asking different questions of my Methodist friends. I asked one group of pastors, “When the Methodist Church splits, where is your congregation going?” One answered, “Thirty percent of my church wants to stay put, 30 percent wants to leave, and 30 percent just want everybody to get along. [And] Ten percent don’t know that anything’s going on.” Many others nodded.

I then asked, “So what are y’all going to do?” One of the pastors quipped, “Take early retirement,” and the others laughed and said “Amen!” I’m not sure they were joking.

Yet their situation tracks with the state of the country—perhaps not in the reason for the division but in how it is playing out. “ . . .

Russell Moore leads the Public Theology Project at Christianity Today. He previously served as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as dean of the School of Theology, senior vice president for academic administration, and as professor of theology and ethics. In August 2022 he was appointed as incoming Editor-in-Chief of Christianity Today.

More illuminating (& sobering) background on the earlier church splits are in these two resources:

1) Broken Churches, Broken Nation, by the late scholar C. C. Goen, recounts the major schisms over slavery in three large American denominations prior to the Civil War. (More on that here.)

2) A wave of similar Quaker schisms, over newer social issues but older theological ones, fractured five U. S. Yearly Meetings (thus far) in the 21st century. These are recounted and analyzed in the three-volume study, The Separation Generation.