Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Project Blitz: Phase 1

Photo Credit: Hulu’s A Handmaids Tale

Ealier I wrote about Project Blitz and their playbook is online. Dominionists want Gilead. They’re working to get it with three stages of legislation. Just so y’all know, everything below comes from the playbook, link above. It’s their own words.

Phase 1 seems very straight forward. “Legislation Regarding Our Country’s Religious Heritage”. At this point, the very words seem like a dangerous double speak. The proposed actions at first blush seem very innocent and toothless. But they are part of an insidious framework. Phase 1 has 4 simple aspects, but it starts to lay the groundwork of some truely nasty shit. So let’s dig in.

First is are the display acts. They want “In God We Trust”, or some similar motto such as “God Enriches” or the Ten Commandments in classrooms, libraries, public colleges, universities, and government buildings, and optionally on liscense plates.  At first blush bills that propose this seem to have no teeth, all displays must be paid for with donations or with funds from private donors. No religious iconography or verbiage should be in schools, libraries, or governments. Just full stop, no. These are halls where the many become one in the eyes of the law. Dominionism and Christian Nationalism has no place there. Especially when you consider that people of color already experience disproportionatly negative outcomes in courthouses compare to white people, and that Dominionism claims that people of color are fundamentally lesser and full of more sin than white people. That’s how you perpetuate racism in the legal system, and it’s a human rights travesty as it is. It doesn’t need to be worse. Several states have laws in this vein, including Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Civic Literacy acts are also part of the first phase. Again, this seems like a good idea, they define civic literacy as including familiary with “representative” documents of American heritage. Now I’m for improved civic literacy, but the representative options in the document are pretty exhaustive and school districts can select what they want to include or exclude. The best example is that the Articles of Confederation are completely ignored. This playing fast and loose with history leads to some bullshit like “the Civil War was fought over states rights” without adding the ending to that sentence “to own people as slaves”. There’s also a tenacious strain of Originalism that’s fed by this kind of education. It’s very easy to create an environment were people become dedicated to the idea that the US Consititution is this stable document rather than a living document. When you view the Constitution is viewed as a stable document, it’s easy to view non-cis, het, white, Christian men as less than human. Lastly, these acts say that civic literacy should start in high school. That’s a lot of elementary and middle school to lay some suspicious groundwork for document interpretation. Examples of states with this legislation: North Carolina, South Carolina, and California.

Of course to understand the civic documents fully, you need context. Then look no further than the Religion in Legal History acts. Not only does it endorse a presentation of the role of religion in the Constitution in the courthouses, it has some sketchy af readings. The required readings include the Northwest Ordinance. Now I have some personal history with the Northwest Ordinance. When I was taught the Northwest Ordinance in elementary school, I was told that it promised that the US government would treat all Indigenous peoples well (it didn’t) and that it outlawed slavery (only in the states it formed). I believed the teachers because I was in elementary school, and that’s what you do. So when I found out about how the Indigenous peoples were treated, and that the Civil War was fought over slavery, my world view took some strong hits. It’s not just that either, it’s also that the talking points in the playbook deliberately play lipservice to the “civil rights” in the Northwest Ordinance while at the same time reiterating over and over the “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind” part of Article 3.We’re meant to see the “civil rights” and ignore the emphasis on the Christianity. Not to mention, unlike the previous civic documents, this selection of historical documents should be taught early, at their recommendation.  To my knowledge, no states have legislation of this flavor on their books.

Lastly is the Bible Literacy acts. They claim that these are elective courses for students in high school about the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. This includes “the influence of the Old or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, customs, morals, values, and culture”.  While the fill-in the blank act says the course “must be taught in an objective and non-proselytizing manner that does not attempt to indoctrinate students” there’s a lot of wiggle room for peer pressure and guest speakers to act inappropriately. It does also say that schools may offer a couse based on the books of a religion or society of a non-Christian one. But let’s be real, when was the last time you saw a high school class in Arkansas or Arizona about Islam? They also claim that so many of the American historical works can’t be understood with out understanding the Bible. Or that one can’t have a proper appreciation of literature without understanding the Bible. Which is funny, I can appreciate Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses without having read the Quran. I can also fully enjoy Into the Badlands (which is based off of the Journey to the West) without a full understanding of Buddhist mythology. It’s almost like we can enjoy art, beauty, and philosophy without needing a religious framework to do so. States with this flavor of legislation include: Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia.

These are all things that seem simple, innocuous, and because they focus on education, they often slip under the radar. But if you mold the minds of the young, its hard to break the patterns of thinking later. This happens at the state level, where people traditionally pay less attention, so push back when they come to your state with legislation like this.

Up next: Phase 2 “Resolutions and Proclamations Recognizing the Importance of Religious History and Freedom”.

 


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What is Project Blitz?

Photo Credit: Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Today I engaged in the most noble day off activities: watching movies and scrolling through social media. My movies of choice were “Now You See Me” and  “Now You See Me 2”. I love cheesy B-rate sequels (hello “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny”), and the gender reveal of the floozy and the doctor in “Now You See Me 2” is one of my favorite things. At the same time, a meme about what feminists really care about during Christmas time came up on my feed. For the record, as a feminist, I don’t think “Baby it’s cold outside” aged well; when Santa tells me their gender I’ll use the proper pronouns, and I do think that everyone should say “Happy Holidays” to be polite. But I also think there needs to be a “War on Christmas” and I do think we need to be fighting it.

Let’s set aside for a moment, the many examples of Christian privilege which exist both inside and outside the United States as well as the fact that Christianity bases its identity around the cultural, spiritual, and literal genocide known as mission work; to Christian Nationalists in the United States, these are features not fuck-ups of the system.

Christian Nationalists are DYING to make America a more Christian nation than it already is, they and the Dominionists are all about that fascism; to the point that Christian Nationalism and Dominionism were the main reasons white Evangelicals voted for Trump. Who needs Matthew and Luke when you have the  Prosperity Gospel and Project Blitz?

Project Blitz is a concerted and dedicated effort to lay the groundwork to making America the ideal home for Christian Nationalists. They want to pave the way to Gilead where the wounded white men are made whole, at the cost of everyone else. We’ve all heard about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and there are several pending petitions to the Supreme Court coming up (two crosses, employment, funding churches, and school prayer). I expect with the current court line up, we’ll be hearing a decent bit about these cases. But that’s loud. Project Blitz is more like the magic tricks in “Now You See Me”. While you’re watching the cool tricks, you’re missing the theft. While we’re watching the Supreme Court and the drama about the War on Christmas, we’re missing the theft. But like the reality behind many magic tricks, the Project Blitz playbook is online.

I’ll be posting over the next few days the details about Project Blitz, from their own playbook; simply because it’s too big for one post to get into. Suffice to say, the War on Christmas doesn’t end just because it’s the 26th.


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Grief and History: how to hold space for George H.W. Bush

I spent most of my childhood riding horses. This is where my tight bond with horses and dogs as magickal animals came from. After all, horses and hounds go together like peas and carrots. I remember watching the riderless horse during Reagan’s funeral. I will watch the riderless horse at Bush’s funeral, and we will have come full circle.

On a personal level, my heart goes out to the Bush family. They lost a husband, a father, and a grandfather.

On a national and political level, my heart fills with rage at the sterilizing of his legacy. The Smithsonian released an article about his life long service to the country. I disagree. No president is perfect and, perhaps with the current administration as an exception, they all occasionally get something right. But we don’t get to whitewash Bush’s legacy just because he’s dead. Death is inevitable it does not get you a free pass.

He originally campaigned against civil rights.

He supported Vietnam.

He was fiercely loyal to Richard Nixon, even when it was clear he was guilty.

As a director of the CIA, he supported Operation Condor and the military dictatorships in Latin America, decisions whose repercussions can still be felt to today.

The family members of the soldiers who were killed or injured in the first Gulf War don’t get to forget Daddy Bush’s legacy.

The loved ones of the victims of the AIDS crisis in the 80’s don’t get to forget his legacy.

The LGBTQ community doesn’t get to forget his legacy.

The victims of the “War on Drugs” don’t get to forget his legacy.

We can’t forget his legacy of Clarence Thomas.

We can’t forget how he ushered in the current era of Evangelical Republican, and the irreparable harm that has done to the country and the world.

My heart goes out to the Bush family for their loss. But more of my heart goes to the victims and survivors of his policies. I see you, even if it feels like the rest of the country does not.

 


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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.

 

 


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White Evangelical Pastor is a bigot. No one is suprised.

Content Note: Bigotry

On August 19th, Reverend John Kilpatrick preached against witchcraft being used against Trump. Since they post their sermons on Facebook, the video has gone mildly viral. Kilpatrick made claims that “when Elijah faced Jezebel, he was facing witchcraft” and that “what’s happening right now in America, is witchcraft’s trying to take this country over”.  Other statements include “I’m not being political, but I don’t see how President Trump bears up under it…here’s what the Holy Spirit said to me last night and what He said for me to tell you. He said, ‘Tell the church that so far, Trump has been dealing with Ahab. But Jezebel’s fixing to step out from the shadows.’ That’s what the Lord said to me…He said ‘Pray for him now, because there’s about to be a shift, and the Deep State is about to manifest, and it’s going to be a showdown like you can’t believe.'”.

Now, I personally find this to be a gross violation of church and state, and that this church should lose its tax exempt status. But that’s neither here nor there.

Witchcraft and Wicca do have a history of using magick against people they don’t like. Doreen Valiente said that she and some friends attempted to use magick against the Nazis during WWII. Witches have been cursing Trump since day one. I, myself, put small curses on his name every time I spit on it. And if his policies kill someone in my family or close to me, I will eat his heart. The fact that Trump is so hated and cursed makes it difficult to refute these types of claims, which may explain why no Pagan or Witchcraft group has called Kilpatrick out and said his claims are bullshit.

Here’s my statement: Trump is a sexist, racist, classist, ableist bigot. He is a traitor to the United States, and guilty of collusion with Russian agents and Vladimir Putin. Many magickal practitioners have cursed him as part of their First Amendment rights to practice their religion freely and as part of protest activities. However, the most effective curses aren’t the ones cast by others, but the ones we put on ourselves.

Here’s the other part of this video that worries me. Kilpatrick isn’t fringe. Kilpatrick has a large platform and he’s using it to spread hate against Pagans and magickal practitioners. His congregation applauded his words. He may have backtracked by saying “it’s not a witch after him, it’s a spirit of witchcraft trying to muzzle him”; but it’s not an apology, and it’s just as hateful as the words he said from the pulpit.

White Evangelical Christians want us gone, and they will do what they have to to get rid of us. Hate crimes start at church.