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Might it be time for Democrats to reclaim some actual ideas, instead of simple marketing memes designed to entice the largest possible contributions?

Get Religious

Before Mueller's report was delivered to the attorney general for sanitizing and emasculating, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave an interview in which she observed that merely impeaching (or criminally prosecuting) the Donald would not solve the pressing issues facing our nation and the world. The new activist agreed with old-master, Nancy Pelosi.

Several commentators have been writing for months that Democrats, progressives, and anyone else truly concerned about big issues, should stop focusing on the orange clown and start working on real solutions to real problems.

Several commentators have been writing for months that Democrats, progressives, and anyone else truly concerned about big issues, should stop focusing on the orange clown and start working on real solutions to real problems. Yet, as responses to the Mueller report show, too many people are talking about how the Donald's appointees are doing the job they were appointed to do - protect the president, not the presidency.

OK, sure. William Barr wrote a job application for the attorney general job. His job application was published by Fox News. In his application, he wrote a promise that, no matter what the evidence showed, he would rule as attorney general that the Donald could not be, would not be, prosecuted or convicted of Obstruction of Justice. On Sunday, without having had time to review or analyze Mueller's tens of thousands of pages of evidence, Barr announced that he had decided that evidence was insufficient to support a charge of Obstruction of Justice.

He told the world, months ago, what he would do. Now he has done it. Why is anyone acting surprised? Let's move on to real issues.

Are there any progressives anywhere who remember a guy named Martin Luther King, Jr.? How about Malcom X? Those two guys based their work on their religious beliefs. Across this nation, there was a time when people believed that Abrahamic religious principles meant doing social good. They built movements and sacrificed their lives to the values their Abrahamic faiths taught them.

In the depths of WW-II, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1st Amendment means that governments can't forc anyone to act on someone else's religious beliefs. Since then, religious freedom supporters and anti-freedom religious zealots have conducted constant battles to put religious indoctrination out our schools, or to keep it in schools. Unfortunately, short-sighted thinking on the "liberal" side of these efforts have yielded control of religious indoctrination to corporate, for-profit extremists.

While liberals cheered at the removal of religious studies in public school classrooms, corporate interests took notice of the effectiveness of religiously supported opposition to racial discrimination and to the colonial war on Vietnam. Just as plantation owners in 1845 created the Southern Baptist Convention to promote a new, pro-slavery, pro-business religion, post-Civil Rights Movement corporate activists created a new anti-Jesus, Ayn Randist religion and recruited segregationist ministers like Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones and Pat Robertson to promote it.

Understanding the value of a good brand, they continued to use the "christian" label for their religion. But the core messages of the religion are that EVERYTHING that Jesus preached was wrong, and that Ayn Rand was right to preach that the only true human value was personal greed.

While liberals fought to keep religious indoctrination out of schools, the well-funded for-profit new church worked hard to gain a virtual monopoly over public discussions of religions and especially of "christianity."

While liberals fought to keep religious indoctrination out of schools, the well-funded for-profit new church worked hard to gain a virtual monopoly over public discussions of religions and especially of "christianity." With carefully edited bible passages, and constant reliance on such terms as "commandments," "communism" and now, "socialism," the corporate church built its new definition of "christianity" to include oppression of the poor and minorities, promotion of every profitable (preferably colonial) war, and exalting the pursuit of profits above any previously acknowledged "christian" values.

And the left opposed any efforts to use public schools to contradict this conscious, intentional rejection of the Christian values that drove the Puritans to mandate public education as a core societal value, in the first decade after their arrival in this "new world."

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Malcolm X preached that the most dangerous person in America was a black man with a library card. Malcolm X knew that education was the key to raising black Americans out of the poverty and oppression in which they have been, and continue to be, held since the earliest days of colonial America.

Corporate, for-profit churches are now the most common, most constant source of racist bile that has become the central plank of Republican Party dogma. And liberals aggressively work to prevent any school courses that might contradict this Republican orthodoxy.

But not all Democrats. In Florida, state representative Kimberly Daniels has introduced House Bill #195 to require all school districts to offer an elective course teaching objectively about the bible. Predictably, "liberal" activists sprang instantly to oppose the bill.

Teaching objectively about the bible would mean teaching:

  • About the virtually endless contradictions between various bible texts;
  • About the lack of any historical support for bible stories;
  • About the bible's denial of scientific reality;
  • About the pre-Jewish roots of biblical texts in earlier mythologies;
  • About how the bible has been, and is being, used to justify discrimination and warfare and despotic rule, and profit taking by ruling classes.

True, a course teaching objectively about the bible would not give equal time to Greek religious mythology, or to African religions, or to Native American religions. But that misses the point. Teaching about various religions might be relevant for a religious studies curriculum. But an objective course about the bible would not necessarily be "about" religion at all. In the U.S., the bible has lost a lot of its religious significance as it has been adopted as a source book for political and business activity.

For decades, religious hucksters like Falwell, and Robertson, and Jeffords and Osteen have raked in tens of millions of dollars exploiting the bible to biblically illiterate audiences. For-profit hucksters like the Thomas More Society and Jay Sekulow make fortunes for the founders by suckering biblical illiterates into funding "litigation", whose sole purpose is to deliver dollars to lawyers' pockets.

For-profit hucksters have laid a long trail of litigation arguments about the need for religion in school. Consider two possible liberal opportunities presented by laws like the proposed Florida objective study bill:

tom hall
  • Just as right-wing parents routinely sue, trying to force schools to censor or remove books and course materials that promote equality, human rights or even simple scientific facts, liberal parents could demand that objective bible studies course actually were objective. If the law calls for objective study of the bible, liberal parents should ensure that objectivity about the bible, and its place in history and current events is maintained;
  • Churches in America have been losing membership for years. But they still wield enormous political power. Their strength lies largely in their influence over biblically illiterate members. While the current membership won't be affected by bible objectivity courses, their children and grandchildren will be. The long game here is to let objective study teach new generations about the truth of biblical mythology, inconsistency and exploitation.

Biblical objectivity is anathema to all Fundagelical and for-profit "christian" churches. They rely on people believing the lies they tell. A course required to be objective about the bible would be like Aaron's staff aimed at the staffs of Pharoah's priests.

The corporate for-profit churches all preach that Jesus was wrong in all of his social ministry. But the ministries of Dr. King and of Malcolm X preached that Jesus taught valuable truths. An objective bible study course would also allow students to consider whether the ministries of Jesus or of Ayn Rand were better for society, whatever one thinks of the bible.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall