By Ken Bronstein.
In our July / August 2016 NYC Atheists newsletter we explained the critical importance of being a single-ticket voter in November. Only an across-the-board Democratic victory can prevent a Republican-controlled Congress from approving conservative Justices (like Antonin Scalia) to the Supreme Court. Note: there may be as many as four seats in play in the next four years, and conservative decisions that would echo for decades.
As I listened to Donald Trump’s acceptance speech, I became distressed about his candidacy for President of these United States. In June, he held a meeting with 1000 Evangelical leaders in New York City, and has finally crossed over into the Evangelical Christian establishment. James Dobson, author of Focus on the Family and member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, announced that Trump had recently accepted “a relationship with Christ” and was now a “Baby Christian.” Trump guaranteed to support the Board’s positions on abortion; to defend the sanctity of human life; preserve religious and conscience-driven liberty; appoint conservative faith-based Supreme Court Justices; and pledged to replace “our beloved Justice Scalia” with a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies. That’s about as clear an agenda as you can follow. Also: for the first time, Trump used “God Bless America” to end his convention speech.
The Baby Christian has vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a law which prevents tax-exempt organizations (including churches), from endorsing candidates or becoming involved in partisan politics. Trump complained that the law prevented Evangelicals from speaking their mind from their own pulpits. He further declared that the Evangelicals’ voice had been taken away and that he would work hard to repeal the amendment and protect free speech for all Americans. And there’s more: he claimed that Evangelical Christians have much to contribute to his campaign, and that their support had been a decisive factor in his winning the Republican Party’s nomination. Also note that the Republican Party platform also states that God-rights must always be considered.
According to Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, “Trump’s new position is outrageous! In 1954, then-U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson championed a law that stops churches and other houses of worship from acting like miniature political action committees. The idea behind it was to ensure that the benefits of tax exemption should be awarded only to organizations that operate in the public interest—not partisan entities. Houses of worship are free to speak out on issues or focus on partisan politics, but they may not endorse candidates.” Lynn considered Trump’s proposals to be “short-sighted, reckless and corrosive to religious life. The 2016 Republican platform seeks to turn America’s houses of worship into miniature political action committees.” Clearly, NYC Atheists must oppose this possibility.
American Atheists also condemned Trump’s pledge, saying that “the Johnson Amendment applies equally to religious and secular nonprofit organizations. Repealing this critical protection of our nation’s secular character would fundamentally undermine the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and upend more than 60 years of law.”
Trump reinforced his commitment to the Evangelicals by selecting former Catholic (now Evangelical) Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate; While in office, Pence signed Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act and has opposed abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He also voted against measures strengthening LGBT rights, and supported federal legislation prohibiting same-sex marriage. His basic positions are Religious-Right-friendly.
By contrast, Hillary selected Tim Kaine as her vice-president. Although he is pro-life, Kaine believes the decision to have an abortion should be made entirely between a woman her and her doctor. In 2007 he cut off state funding for abstinence-only sex education, and has earned a perfect score from Planned Parenthood.
I would like to add this message (below) from Michael Moore—a must-read:
“I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full- time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”
“Well, folks, this isn’t an accident. It is happening. And if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut. As of today, as things stand now, I believe this is going to happen – and in order to deal with it, I need you first to acknowledge it, and then maybe, just maybe, we can find a way out of the mess we’re in.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I have great hope for the country I live in. Things are better. The left has won the cultural wars. Gays and lesbians can get married. A majority of Americans now take the liberal position on just about every polling question posed to them: Equal pay for women – check. Abortion should be legal – check. Stronger environmental laws – check. More gun control – check. Legalize marijuana – check. A huge shift has taken place– just ask the socialist who won 22 states this year. And there is no doubt in my mind that if people could vote from their couch at home on their X-box or PlayStation, Hillary would win in a landslide.”
“But that is not how it works in America. People have to leave the house and get in line to vote. And if they live in poor, Black or Hispanic neighborhoods, they not only have a longer line to wait in, everything is being done to literally stop them from casting a ballot. So in most elections it’s hard to get even 50% to turn out to vote. And therein lies the problem for November—who is going to have the most motivated, most inspired voters show up to vote? You know the answer to this question. Who’s the candidate with the most rabid supporters? Whose crazed fans are going to be up at 5 AM on Election Day, kicking ass all day long, all the way until the last polling place has closed, making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Bob and Joe and Billy Bob and Billy Joe and Billy Bob Joe) has cast his ballot? That’s right. That’s the high level of danger we’re in. And don’t fool yourself—no amount of compelling Hillary TV ads, or out-facting him in the debates or Libertarians siphoning votes away.”
“Remember back in the ‘90s when the people of Minnesota elected a professional wrestler as their governor? They didn’t do this because they’re stupid or thought that Jesse Ventura was some sort of statesman or political intellectual. They did so just because they could. Minnesota is one of the smartest states in the country. It is also filled with people who have a dark sense of humor — and voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system. This is going to happen again with Trump.”
“Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.”
As president of NYC Atheists, I have concluded that the presidential debates will be the most crucial factor in this upcoming election, and for our next four years. Here’s the schedule:
First Presidential debate: Monday, Sept. 26
Vice-Presidential debate: Tuesday, Oct. 4
Second Presidential debate: Sunday, Oct. 9
Third Presidential debate: Wednesday, Oct. 19