Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Facing the Inevitable with Rage

CW: Kavanaugh, Christofacism

The moment that Brett Kavanaugh began his angry tirade during the Blasey Ford hearing, I knew that he was going to be confirmed. I knew that our stories didn’t matter, whether we screamed them in elevators or courageously asserted them in Congress or even if a Senator read them into the record for posterity. No matter what we did to protest and no matter how concerning Kavanaugh’s record of sexual assaults, or drinking habits, or suspicious debts, or lack of qualifications, or lack of judicious temperament; he was going to be confirmed and the Christofascists would celebrate this as a win and mock and humiliate the victims.

I wanted to be wrong. That’s why I didn’t write about it, because I wanted so badly to be wrong. To see Kavanaugh step down, and some equally horrible Christofacist take his place. Because that meant having hope that things could still get better. Sitting here, braced with gin I’m prepared for it to get worse.

Honestly, I don’t know where we go from here. I do know that some of the ideas floating around about loading the Supreme Court are more reactionary than proactive. And while reactionary feels good, it isn’t always good in the end.  Loading the courts is a Christofascist game, after years of campaigning on the issue of judges, they have it down to an art form and have the infrastructure to support their goals. We don’t, so we can’t realistically expect to play by their rules and win. But we can figure out how to go around their rules, I know we’re smart enough.

More immediately, what I can recommend is this: 39 states elect judges at some level, 38 of those have elections for high court positions. While I’m still uncertain about the safety of the upcoming elections (given that no one has improved ballot security), judicial positions get low coverage and low turn out; so our efforts to elect progressive, Democrat, or liberal judges might actually make a difference for the judiciary.

Remember to make sure you’re registered in time. These sites can help: Rock the Vote, Vote Save America, and Vote with Me. Apps like Smash the Vote are helpful too.


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The Wandering Bible and Use of Resources

I had to take some time off from writing because the Kavanaugh news was getting to me and I took my Masters exam yesterday and I needed to prepare for that (I passed by the way!). So I’m back and trying to get back on my normal schedule.
Today is “Bring your Bible to School Day” to celebrate religious freedom. Christian groups on campus pray (although, in my experience as the president of a Pagan college group neither I nor any of the non-Christian religions were invited to join); and a cluster of men in cheap suits hand out New Testament/Psalms/Proverbs Bibles outside my building.  They forcefully press the Bibles into students hands, the students feel uncomfortable so they don’t put the bibles in the garbage or recycling bins next to the men. So they take them into the large lecture halls in my department and leave them there. Of course, no one else wants them. When I go to the lecture halls throughout the day they Bibles move from desk to desk, abandoned.

Normally I can ignore the Bibles. They irritate me a bit; I think the money spent on the money could go to feed the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, helping the sick, or helping the children being separated from their families. But who am I to tell a camel how to go through the eye of a needle?

But this time, I was really bothered. The men handing out Bibles were asking us to pray for Kavanaugh.

I can’t. I’m a survivor and I can’t light a candle for Kavanaugh. I can’t support him in any way. Especially when the FBI doesn’t even do their due diligence and interview Dr. Ford.

This is our daily reminder that we can’t ignore Kavanaugh, we can’t ignore the machinations of the Christofascists in America, and we can’t stop resisting.

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On performing trauma for sadists

About a year into my relationship with my ex-husband, he proudly told said that he didn’t believe that I was raped until he saw my night terrors on the anniversary of the trauma. He was so proud of his skepticism, that he didn’t unfairly judge a man he had never met. If he realized that he destroyed my trust in him, he never mentioned it. I doubt he ever did. I also doubt he realized how that compounded the trauma I was recovering from.

I was required to perform my trauma to his satisfaction before I was believed, and then once I had performed well I was to get over it. To not let it impact my life. To ignore the harm that came from repeating the event in detail over and over.

On a much grander scale, this is what Dr. Ford is going through. Many members of the public do not believe her, and she has had death threats and has had to spend the time she would use to prepare her testimony talking to the FBI about her safety. When she testifies, she will be asked invasive question after invasive question. She will construct the scene as accurately as she can for the salivating GOP.

That same GOP and their deplorable supporters will hoard her story and use it as the foundation for their rape fantasies. They will take her trauma and use it to get off. And after they will tell her to go home and continue her life like nothing happened.

Like her family and life weren’t threatened.

Like she wasn’t forced to re-open her wounds for their pleasure.

Like she wasn’t forced to bleed for them.

So I stand with her. Today, and every day, I stand with survivors and I believe them. I hold space with Dr. Ford and send Unconditional Love to give her strength from the Divine.


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Surviving Kavanaugh while a being survivor

When I was in 5th grade, at an evangelical elementary school, two boys in my class put their hands down my shirt while making sexual comments I didn’t fully understand. They were just kids; their life wasn’t negatively impacted. I transferred schools and lost my faith in the Christian god.

In middle school, I pushed a boy who tried to put his hands down my pants. I was scolded because he had a hearing aid, and probably never heard me say no, and why didn’t I say it louder? He was just a kid and his hearing aid was on, but his life wasn’t negatively impacted. I stopped trusting the school administration and adult authority.

In the summer between middle school and high school, two boys pulled a seatbelt across my throat on a church trip. My fingernails left marks on the material, a permanent sign that I was there. I felt the marks for a week, and when I lost my temper at the boys I was told to turn the other cheek and forgive them. They were just teens, their lives weren’t negatively impacted. I still check seat belts, refuse to let people sit behind me, and hate scarves that lie too close to my throat.

In high school, my first “boyfriend” groped me in front of the Wednesday night youth group that my mother still forced me to go to, despite my search for a Goddess with kintsugi skills. He was a just a teen, his life wasn’t negatively impacted. He went on to a music school and then a college scholarship.

The week before I moved into my college dorms, my ex-boyfriend raped me in my parents home. I still remember the color of the carpet with a shocking intensity and the exact number of times I said no, over and over again. He was just a teen, his life wasn’t negatively impacted. He went on to finish university, and from what I’ve heard since gotten a decent job. I went into a fugue state for two weeks, had depression and night terrors for years after. I sought treatment, but somedays that only goes so far.

My ex-husband had issues with boundaries, specifically the ones I and the women around him set. He used positions of power to pressure them. His life wasn’t negatively impacted during our marriage, nor after the divorce. I’ve gotten into debt going through the divorce, and my credit score has been trashed.

“He’s a child” “He’s a teen” “He’s a young man” “We all make mistakes”.

Their “mistakes” chased me away from Christianity to Paganism. Their “mistakes” mean I don’t sit in certain seats in cars. Their “mistakes” mean I don’t sleep well in the summer when the university I work at prepares for the new fall semester. Their “mistakes” mean I struggle with depression and anxiety some days. Their “mistakes” mean I wonder if I enabled him to hurt others, spiraling into grief and rage. Their “mistakes” mean I’m going to spend years getting out of debt and giving my credit score TLC.

Their “mistakes” impact every aspect of my life.

Kavanaughs “mistake” impacts every aspect of his victim’s lives, of which I have no doubt there are many.

Dr. Christine Ford is an incredibly brave woman. Senator Feinstein did her best to protect Dr. Ford as a victim and report the crime. Now, despite Senator Feinstein’s best efforts, Dr. Ford will go in front of a panel of GOP “statesmen” and be verbally abused.

I can’t do much, but I can take up space with her. I can write, and I can stand with her even as this reopens wounds and traumatizes survivors all over again.


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Screw Brett Kavanaugh and the cross he rode in on

BrettKavanaugh-CSPAN

Content Note: Christofascism

I’m writing this on the eve of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and I’m reminded of Fascism: a warning. Secretary Albright’s book is a bitterly difficult book to read, but a necessary one for anyone interested in political Shadow Work. She describes fascism not as a political ideology, but as a method of seizing power. While Brett Kavanaugh may not be the exact flavor of White Evangelical Christian that is oh-so-fashionable in the current administration, he is a good little Christofascist and the first mature product of their long game. Brett Kavanaugh will compliantly support this administrations’ grabs for power. As if that weren’t immediately obvious from Kavanaugh signaling that he would be against indicting a sitting president.

Christofascists use Christianity as a cudgel to consolidate and abuse power. American White Evangelical Christians aren’t unique in this, they’re just the ones doing it here. At a baseline level, Kavanaugh’s record worries. If this were a normal presidency, with a president who behaved according to our norms and institutions, I would focus on specific issues (although I still wouldn’t want him anywhere near the Supreme Court). Combined with the Mueller investigation and the appalling behavior over the Merrick Garland nomination, I don’t want the GOP to have the opportunity to choose their own judges.

All that said because this isn’t normal, I’m specifically worried about how Kavanaugh’s personal religious life will impact his rulings. Because the personal is political. State-run media outlet Fox News is already touting Kavanaugh as someone who will defend the “most sacred right” to religious freedom. The more radical (but still well read) Religion News claims Kavanaugh will do his job to “apply the law objectively, without regard to his personal views….he understands that our founders believed deeply in religious liberty and that the Constitution they wrote protects the free exercise of religion”.  Now, I’m a Pagan and a Witch, I believe all sorts of woo. But you will never be able to convince me that Kavanaugh knows exactly how the founding fathers felt about the freedom of religion, and I will bet all my student loans that the founders did not use the definition that we use today.

Further, the political is personal and the personal is political. Much like systemic racism makes “white” the perceived default race; White Evangelical Christianity makes “Christian” the perceived default religion. I very much doubt Kavanaugh, who was the chair of the Federalist Society’s religious liberty practice group, has the self-awareness to see that. After all, the Federalist Society is the incubation tank for baby Christofascists who want to be judges with they grow up.

In all the articles about the nomination are Christofascist dog whistles, the loudest of which are “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”. Let’s be honest when Christians say that, they mean “religious liberty for us” and “religious freedom for religions like ours”; not for anyone else. Those whistles ring loud and clear for Trump supporters. But there is a second set of whistles for the rest of us, where well-known conservative groups say Kavanaugh isn’t conservative enough. The Federalist has an article like this. Large media outlets like Slate report on how the American Family Association, the National Review, and the Human Coalition are lukewarm on Kavanaugh.

This supposedly ambivalent response to Kavanaugh is just as dangerous at the blatant support of Kavanaugh. He only seems conservative in comparison to the literal shit storm raging around us. This fire is not fine. This isn’t a moment when we should sit down and take the “lesser evil”. This is a moment when we should realize the lesser evil is a greater evil hiding behind a bland mayo exterior.

And by his own actions, Kavanaugh is definitely a Christofascist mess.

His origin story in the Federalist Society set Kavanaugh up to be a religious crusader, and he was even before he sat down at the White House or on a bench. Kavanaugh did pro bono work on Good News Club v. Milford Central School and in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, both cases that focussed on students ability to have Christian after-school groups and student-led prayer at football games. Where someone puts their unpaid pro bono hours is a good indicator of what they value.

Some may point a third pro bono case where Kavanaugh worked to change the zoning for a synagogue that wanted to build in a residential area. At first glance, this may seem like a sign of equitable religious tolerance. But consider for a moment, Evangelical Christians and hyper-conservative Catholics have an affinity for Judaism because they expect the Jews to kick start the apocalypse. So his defense isn’t unexpected. Further, this case was in the 1990’s and since then we’ve seen White Evangelical churches popping up in residential areas like daisies. Correlation is not causation, but it does cast suspicion.

On the bench, his stance on four cases are equally suspicious and concerning.

Priests for Life v. United States Department of Health is one of the most well known of Kavanaughs cases, and likely to be covered more in depth during the confirmation hearings. I will point out this nugget of joy though regarding the birth control mandate regulations that “substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs (submitting the form) or else pay significant monetary penalties”.

The Archdiocese of Washington v. WMATA focuses on proselytizing on public transport. The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to put an ad in the public buses at Christmas time that said: “Find the Perfect Gift” with shepherds following the Star of Bethlehem. WMATA rejected the ad, and the Archdiocese sued. The case hasn’t been settled yet, but during oral arguments, Kavanaugh called the ban “pure discrimination” and odious to the First Amendment.

In Boardley v. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service stopped a man from passing out Christian material at Mt. Rushmore. Currently, a park official has to issue a permit for those types of activities. Boardley didn’t have a permit, and when the National Park Service made him stop he claimed that they were limiting his ability to exercise his religion. Kavanaugh was in the majority agreeing that “the regulations in their current form are antithetical to the core of First Amendment principles.”

Last is Newdow v. Roberts, atheist activist Michael Newdow sued Chief Justice Roberts over the phrase “so help me God” in Obama’s first inauguration, as well as the prayers delivered by Reverend Warren and Reverend Lowery. Kavanaugh responded with “stripping government ceremonies of any reference to God or religious expression…would, in effect, ‘establish’ atheism”. While that particular quote demonstrates a fundamental inability to understand or empathize with the 26% of Americans who aren’t Christian there’s a worse one. “In our constitutional tradition, all citizens are equally American, no matter what God they worship or if they worship no god at all” however, they “cannot dismiss the desire of others in America to publicly ask for God’s blessing on certain government activities and to publicly seek God’s guidance for certain government officials”.

Let that sink in for a moment. Kavanaugh just tried to say we’re all equally American, but some Americans religion supersedes the religion of everyone else. Pair that with the rest of his rulings, and Kavanaugh doesn’t look like a Christofascist. He is one. This is very bad for Americans who aren’t the specific flavor of Christianity that’s in vogue when Kavanaugh makes his rulings.

There’s a lot to discuss about Kavanaugh. But by any and every metric, he’s a bad judicial pick for Americans, America, and the American dream. And you should call your Senator because this shouldn’t be allowed to stand.