Sunday, January 25, 2015

Not Just Religion in Schools; Actual Churches in Schools

That this does not bring the full wrath of the U.S. Justice Department down on these schools is a terrible sign that the Dominionists are winning the battle with the Constitution, and all of us are doomed.

From the Nation, a long one that is well worth your time:

Far from an isolated incident on the border of church and state, Venue Church’s involvement in Florida’s public schools is part of a national trend. In the evangelical world, the past twenty years have seen the rise of a franchise organizational model, in which a single national or international entity works with local “religious entrepreneurs” to install churches in public-school buildings, or in other relatively affordable facilities like movie theaters, rather than fund its own buildings.

Venue Church appears to be independent, but other churches in public schools are more closely allied with broad evangelical networks. Thirteen miles away, the Celebration Orlando Church, located in Howard Middle School, is part of the Association of Related Churches, a Birmingham,
Alabama–based network that works with “church planters” to assist them in launching and expanding new churches. In 2006, ARC planted nine; in 2009, it was averaging around fifty new church plants per year. Today, with a more developed structure, ARC is training and coaching hundreds of church planters annually.

Evangelical networks that have planted churches in public schools across the United States include Redeemer, Vineyard, the Evangelical Covenant Church, Sovereign Grace, Victory Outreach, Morningstar and many dozens of others. Acts29, a Seattle-based evangelical coalition that has started 350 churches across the nation in the past five years, estimates that some 16 percent of its church plants meet in public-school spaces.

A 2007 national survey by LifeWay, a Christian research agency, found that 12 percent of newly established Protestant churches met in public schools. Today, that number is surely higher. In many cities, just about every public-school auditorium is rented to a church plant on Sunday morning.
In some places, houses of worship have operated inside public schools for years without paying any rent at all—a situation that, in New York City at least, has led to an ongoing battle in the courts. Even when rent is paid, the arrangement is a boon for churches, which are able to obtain safe and comfortable facilities, as well as furniture, heating and air-conditioning, and other benefits, for a fraction of the cost of financing their own facilities.

In recent years, the movement to plant churches has had a particular focus on cities. In October 2014, Movement Day—a conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York City—convened more than 1,000 pastors and other church members to focus on providing social services and bringing the Gospel to the urban “unchurched.” Movement Day speakers advocated “church/school partnerships.” One panel on education brought together Pastor Chip Sweney; Dorothy Parker-Jarrett, the principal of Summerour Middle School in Norcross, Georgia; and Terri Hoye, who champions church volunteers mentoring in public schools. As Hoye commented, “Once [the door to the public schools] is open, it is wide open!”

This phenomenon has given rise to organizations such as Kids Hope USA, which “equips [churches] to mobilize into the schools.” Kids Hope USA has made possible over 1,000 partnerships between churches and public schools. The program it facilitates consists of tutoring and mentoring. Participants in such partnerships are supposed to abide by a strict separation of church and state and refrain from proselytizing.

But the leaders of some of the religious entities involved in these types of partnerships are clear in their view that the separation of church and state is a “myth.” In Texas, for example, where the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship has established “church-school partnerships” between evangelical entities and over sixty Dallas-area schools, senior pastor Tony Evans has a clear message for those who think that public education and sectarian religion need to be kept separate: “God never intended that such a separation exist in His world.”

What does partnership look like for Oak Cliff? Church representatives implement a “Kingdom Agenda Strategy” by acting as student mentors, participating in academic tutoring and character-education classes. The latter include abstinence-until-marriage teachings and promote a narrow, religion-driven idea of what constitutes an acceptable moral life.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Crossroads Fellowship produced a slick video promoting its own Adopt-a-School initiative. “One hour a week of your time could be a future and eternity in Christ for a kid,” a woman in the video explains. “All of us are called to be a missionary in our own backyard,” a middle-age man adds. “We just want to show the love of Christ,” says another. “Adopt-a-School is going to ‘ping’ on that in a powerful way.”

While many of the church groups in public schools market themselves as “nondenominational,” evangelicals of a generally conservative type overwhelmingly dominate this new field. The leading groups are committed to the inerrancy of the Bible. Some, such as Morningstar, draw heavily on Dominionism—the idea that Christians should seek to dominate all aspects of secular politics and society until the return of Jesus Christ. Mark Driscoll, a controversial founder of Acts29 who left the organization after scandals involving allegations of plagiarism and psychological abuse, is known for his unapologetic commitment to male-centered authoritarianism. “We live in a completely pussified nation,” he has said.

The new interest of these groups in public schools reflects a significant shift in missionary strategy. It is now accepted wisdom that the most fruitful targets of their efforts are young children, who are thought to be more susceptible to conversion. The focus on schools stems in part from the realization that students, especially in the younger grades, invest a lot of authority in their school, and typically can’t distinguish between what is taught in the school and what is taught by the school.

The legal theory that these groups promote, which makes possible the rise of church-school partnerships, hinges on several key arguments. The first seeks to collapse claims about the freedom of religious exercise into claims about the freedom of speech. The second argument makes a strict distinction between private speech and publicly sponsored or official speech. The third drastically minimizes the weight of peer pressure or social coercion. And the fourth conceives a lack of religion as just another religious view among many, and therefore not to be favored over other religions.
When you put these premises together, you end up with the conclusion that including religious groups in school does not involve an establishment of religion in any meaningful sense, whereas excluding them does involve the violation of their free-speech rights and thus represents discrimination against religion. Justice Clarence Thomas ably sums up this line of argument in a key 2001 Supreme Court decision, Good News Club v. Milford Central School. On the one hand, he dismisses the idea that kindergartners might falsely perceive the private speech of religious groups operating in the school as coming from the school; on the other, he asserts that banning these religious groups from school might be perceived by the community at large as discrimination against religion in favor of secularism.


Divine Irony:

People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.

Isaac Asimov (via whyallcaps)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Now we have to choose what we want that future to look like."

Alright, Mr. President, I choose a future without billionaires, millionaires, homeless people or hungry children. I choose a future of renewable energy, good jobs and Medicare for all. I choose a future in which science, facts and reality are respected and religion - especially christianity - is kept in its place. I choose a future in which our military defends us, not the brutal, fascist dictatorships we used to call allies. I choose a future in which people who are not white or christian or straight or rich or male walk the streets in safety and confidence as valued members of society.

GOP: Biggest Danger to Kids is Not Guns, But Women

Bless their hearts.It must be exhausting constantly manufacturing nonsense in the face of all facts, science and reality.


"The womb is the most dangerous place for a child"
Well, that says it all, doesn't it? It's right out of a dystopian novel. This is basically saying that the half of the population that is biologically programmed to gestate the species is actually an enemy of the human race.

Here's the thing.  If you believe that life begins at conception then that's actually true.  The baby birthing vessels (sometimes called "human beings", "women" and "mothers") lose millions of zygotes, blastocysts and embryos through their natural biological processes. But apparently the birthing vessels don't even know or care that they are committing mass murder over the course of their lives. This slogan tells all of them what they really are.

These people are talking about abortion, but that doesn't change the basic thrust of this argument. If life begins at conception then the womb is an extremely dangerous place for children. The only people who have wombs are women.  Therefore, women are the most dangerous threat to children. You can't separate one from the other.

This is the kind of deeply embedded misogyny that has ruled this world since the beginning.  That bitch Eve tempted poor Adam with the apple and revealed woman's true nature. What I can't figure out is why they think so many of these murderous baby-killers should be trusted to raise children in the first place. Back in the day they solved that little problem by giving men full property rights over their children. If all women are child murderers then that only makes sense. Maybe they'd like to go back to that.

But for some reason these same people tend to immediately lose interest in the whole question of child safety after they emerge from the dangerous, life threatening womb:
Kaleb Ahles' grandparents sobbed as Pinellas detectives investigated the 2-and-a-half-year-old's death.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the boy's father, Kevin Ahles, put his son in the family car. As other family members helped Kaleb's parents move out of their house, at 1094 Misty Hollow Lane in Eastlake, the toddler found a small .380 caliber handgun in the glove box. He suffered a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound around 4:47 p.m. Wednesday, deputies said.

I'm going to say that the most dangerous place for children is any place where loaded guns are left lying around for 2 year old to find. The womb, not so much.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Via Juanita Jean:




Making the GOP look foolish is easy.  Getting voters to show up and punish the fools in the GOP is the hard part.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New KY House Dem Whip Not Just Racist, Sexist Pig; He's STOOPIT

Bell, the dusky-skinned lady you just fired is going to sue your ass right out of office, you moron.
Jack Brammer at the Herald:
New state House Majority Whip Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, fired a female staffer in the office Wednesday who alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a former state lawmaker from Western Kentucky.
Louisville attorney Thomas Clay said Yolanda Costner received a letter earlier in the day from Bell that said her service was no longer required.

No other reason was given for the termination that is to take effect Thursday, Clay said.

Clay said Costner, who has 25 years of government service, will amend a complaint filed in Franklin Circuit Court on the sexual harassment scandal that will include Bell as a defendant.

He claimed Bell violated the state law to protect whistleblowers and Costner's civil rights.

Wendell Ford: RIP and Good Riddance

I would dearly love to know what Wendell H. Ford, former Governor, former U.S. Senator, and godfather of the Kentucky Democratic Party since before most current members of it were born, really thought about President Barack Obama.

Because while Governor Ford pushed progressive policies in Kentucky beyond what would be possible even today - massive public spending, getting the General Assembly to approve the Equal Rights Amendment and a coal severance tax - U.S. Senator Ford kept the FDA from regulating tobacco, supported anti-abortion legislation and poured billions of tax dollars down the "synthetic fuels from coal" toilet.

Given his age and background, I am quite certain Ford was a stone racist, though a quiet one. But he was also a stone Yellow Dog Democrat, reviling repugs at every opportunity and supporting Democratic candidates.  In the 2008 and 2012 elections, did the racist or the Yellow Dog win out?  I can't imagine him voting for a repug, but I can't imagine him voting for a black man, either. 

In the end, I can't forgive him for retiring from the Senate in 1998, allowing repug Jim Bunning to replace him. In Ford's day 40 years ago, Kentucky had one of the deepest Democratic candidate benches in the country.  You could predict which Democratic candidate would win the governor's race 20 years out, just by looking at the current holders of state offices. 

Repug voters registered as Democrats just so they could vote in the Democratic primary, the winner of which automatically won the general election.

Now, there's not a Democratic candidate in sight who could beat a widely-hated repug with a 35 percent approval rating last year, or any of the current repug candidates for governor in November.

Ford let that bench collapse. And because of that, by Jan. 2017 Kentucky is likely to have an all-repug state government.

And we'll all be envying Ford, safe in his grave.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Are There In Kentucky No Bathroom Stall Doors?

And how wonderful that the most pressing problem faced by Kentucky public schools is an apparent shortage of bathroom stall doors.

This would be funny if it weren't tragic for thousands of Kentucky students.  From the Fairness Alliance:

  • It's an unnecessary solution in search of a problem
  • Absurdly demands chromosomal and biological proof of gender to use school restrooms
  • Opens the stall door to Kentucky politicians regulating school restrooms throughout the state
  • Violation of Title IX, the federal law banning discrimination in schools based on sex
  • Takes home rule away from local school districts and school principals
  • Targets gender non-conforming students, who are already among the most harassed--nearly nine in ten have been verbally harassed at school and more than half have been physically assaulted
  • Allows students to claim a $2,500 bounty for each encounter with a transgender student and more money for psychological and emotional harm
  • "I tend to think that working through issues such as this are better handled on the local level." -Bowling Green Independent School District Superintendent Joe Tinius.
Meanwhile, the moron is giving interviews to national reporters, who are giving him plenty of rope to hang himself.

Last week, Kentucky State Sen. E.B. Embry, Jr. (R) filed a bill that would ban transgender students from using their appropriate school restrooms and locker rooms and even allow other students to sue schools for $2,500 every time they see a trans student in one of those facilities. In private conversations with a concerned citizen, Embry revealed more about his beliefs about transgender people and the origins of the bill, including an invented problem to justify it.

Angela Swift Hill is a former Kentucky resident, an educator, and the proud mother of a transgender teenager. She reached out to Embry via Facebook to express her concerns about his legislation, lauding the “love and strength” she has found in her own daughter’s journey and suggesting that he was “encouraging hatred.” Hill shared her exchange with ThinkProgress, though Embry kept much of it private.

Embry defended his bill by essentially rejecting the existence of transgender people:
There is no hate involved. It is simple. Children of a certain sex should be the only ones allowed to use the restroom for that sex. Children can present themselves and dress as any sex they want. They can be gay or staight [sic], as they wish and should not have to deal with bullying. Strong action should be taken regarding bullying of any type. Those things have nothing to so with this issue. School children who are girls should use the girls restroom, and the boys the boys restrooms, nothing else is at issue.
His claim to oppose bullying does not jibe with his vote against an anti-bullying bill that would have extended protections to LGBT students.
Here's an idea: How about the Democrats turning this disgusting spew of ignorance, homophobia and hate into a law that protects transgender students from locker room harassment

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

QOTD: The SOTU We Deserve

Charlie Pierce:

"Mr. Speaker, Mr. Majority Leader, thank you for inviting me here tonight to discuss the state of our union. The state of our union is strong, and it's all because of me, motherfkers, and no thanks to your sorry, wrinkled white asses. I did everything I could do to pull the economy out of the shallow grave your deregulatory frenzy and the two-term nitwit who preceded me dug for it. You stood there like squeaking eunuchs and blocked everything you could, and a narrow slice of the electorate gave you virtually unprecedented control over the entire national legislature. I don't care. Your party has sold its soul and lost its mind. I'm not going anywhere. So I'm'a gonna do what I goddamn well please, because the state of our union is strong, motherfkers, and it's all because of me. Nice to see you all again, though."

Unless the speech begins that way, I really don't care about it.

Training Black Families Won't Stop Racist Copping

Only training the cops will do that.

Last Saturday, more than 50 African-American residents of Shelbyville met in the basement of the library to listen to a bunch of cops tell them how their children needed to play Step-n-Fetchit in order to avoid being murdered for being black.

I understand that under the current racist law enforcement inexcusably tolerated in this country, only by submitting to such condescending, racist treatment and forcing their children to obey it can black parents have a hope of seeing their children survive to middle age.

That does not make it in any way excusable.

What should have happened on Saturday was African-American and white and Latino and Asian and Muslim residents of all ages and parental status confronting the sheriff and police chief and all the deputies and officers and demanding that they start treating non-white citizens with respect.

Because deferring to terrorism - and make no mistake, law enforcement in this country is pure, unadulterated terrorism toward everyone who is not white and rich - only empowers the terrorists and guarantees more and worse terrorism.

Down with Tyranny:

Late last month we looked at some solutions to the devastating problems inherent in hair-trigger police brutality. We heard a diverse array of opinions-- from Ice-T, The Clash and Millions of Dead Cops to ex-police officers Frank Serpico and Redditt Hudson. Here are half a dozen from legendary New York City police detective Serpico:
1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;

2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;

3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;

4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do-- so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;

5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;

6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality-- and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wannabe Security Goons Slapped Down in Louisville

People work private security because they couldn't pass even the pathetic excuse for psych tests given by police departments.

And why the fuck are private minimum-wage goons there instead of good federal employees? Austerity strikes again. 

James Bruggers at the Courier:

I guess you might call them the Keystone Kops, those private security officers responsible for breaking up and moving an environmental protest outside Louisville's federal courthouse on Tuesday.
The security guard who told about 75 participants to move along did not have the authority to do so, said Brian Parrish, chief deputy of the U.S. Marshal's office in Louisville.

"I was frustrated by that situation yesterday," Parrish said, adding that he has taken steps to make sure the private security firm, Paragon Systems, doesn't do that again.

The rally had to do with the Keystone XL pipeline, which was being debated yesterday in the U.S. Senate. Environmental advocates oppose the pipeline because they say it will encourage the development of Canadian oil sands, hastening the climate chaos of global warming.

RELATED | Pipeline foes booted from courthouse sidewalk

The security guard worked for a contractor with the Federal Protective Service, part of the Department of Homeland Security. He declined to tell me his name, when I asked yesterday, and he said he was just doing what his boss told him to do. A spokeswoman for the Federal Protective Service said she was looking into the situation.

Repugs Are Terrible at Predictions, Too

As the repug Congress prepares to reverse every step toward progress made in the last 70 years, let's review how good they were at predicting the catastrophe following the 2012 election:

Think Progress:

It’s now 2015, nearly two years after Obama took the oath of office for the second time. A few years ago, prognosticators were very confident about what would happen to America by now because of Obama’s reelection. Let’s check in and see how their predictions turned out:

1. Gas was supposed to cost $5.45 per gallon.


2. Unemployment was supposed to be stuck at over 8%


3. The stock market was supposed to crash


4. The entire U.S. economy was supposed to collapse
Remember: everything repugs stand for and demand is refuted by facts, science and reality.  That's why they have to lie about everything.