Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, January 20, 2014

By WHAT Objective Measure can either SB1062 or HB2153 be an EXPANSION of Civil Rights?

In its Sunday, January 19 edition -- Martin Luther King weekend -- the Arizona Republic willfully lied or at minimum, intentionally mislead its readers about legislation now on the fast track to passage in the state legislature. Identical bills, SB1062 and HB2153 have been filed in each chamber purporting to "expand religious protections" in Arizona civil rights statutes (ARS Title 41, Chapter 9).

Last week, KPHO Channel 5 investigative reporter Morgan Loew caught Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-LD17/Chandler) the sponsor of SB1062 specifically mischaracterizing (prevaricating about) his role in sponsoring legislation which has personally enriched himself, in one year by at least $700,000. Yarbrough, identifies himself as one who,
leads a bipartisan group of legislators and citizen group leaders known as the Arizona Values Action Team which supports public policy that is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-school choice and pro-religious liberty. 
If you're like me, you don't see the values of a Republican lawmaker -- who personally enriches himself by sponsoring legislation that he easily sells to his Republican majority colleagues -- as YOUR values.

Nevertheless, Values Action Team is a euphemism for Christian Dominionism. In 2011, Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalismwriting for the Daily Beast,
Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult.... 
Now, however, we have the most theocratic Republican field in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman’s intellectual and theological development.
If you're skeptical about my claims, there is a plethora of information about Dominionism on Theocracy Watch. And YES, this IS about theocracy in America.
In a September 1994 plenary speech to the Christian Coalition national convention, Rev. D. James Kennedy said that "true Christian citizenship" involves an active engagement in society to "take dominion over all things as vice-regents of God." Kennedy's remarks were reported in February 1995 by sociologist and journalist Sara Diamond, who wrote that Kennedy had "echoed the Reconstructionist line." [...]
Dominionism is therefore a tendency among Protestant Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists that encourages them to not only be active political participants in civic society, but also seek to dominate the political process as part of a mandate from God. 
SB1062 and HB2153 are nothing more and nothing less than Republicans carrying water for Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, a fundamentalist right-wing advocacy organization.

Back to the Arizona Republic. Here's more about the misdirection set up on its website with the story about SB1062. Columnist EJ Montini and sidekick reporter Richard Ruelas, in a brief video clip, about a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Montenegro (a co-sponsor of Eddie Farnsworth's HB2153, when they probably meant Steve Yarbrough) dismissively state this is an unnecessary bill which is only offered to "appease a certain element of the political base."

A sidebar poll asks readers "Do you approve of a bill that would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense in a lawsuit filed by another individual?" The wording of the poll takes, at face value, what Yarbrough claims in Alia Beard Rau's story
Yarbrough called the bill a “modest clarification” of the state’s existing religious-freedom law.
“Prohibited discrimination remains prohibited,” he said. “In no way does this bill allow discrimination of any kind.”
While that may be technically true, Yarbrough knows, and I can't believe that Ms. Rau doesn't also know, full well that what I wrote last Monday about this bill is the implied intent of the bill.
In other words, not only can a gathered church congregation be allowed to raise holy hands, but ANY association, partnership, corporation, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity -- if Yarbrough, and by extension, Herrod, get their way -- now also will be lawfully allowed to raise holy hands too, if the corporation so chooses.
What is keeping a corporation or estate, etc., from praying now? Other than that it is not a living, breathing organism, I suspect, nothing.
So, why would they need THIS legislation?
Section 41-1493.01 also defines the "Exercise of religion." Herrod, er, Yarbrough, wants that definition to now read:
"Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist (but it does take someone who knows CURRENT EVENTS) to discern the true intent of this legislation. In a Washington Post op-ed published just days ago, Brigham Young Law Professor Frederick Mark Gedicks, an expert on religion and constitutional interpretation, wrote,
Can my employer make me pay the cost of practicing his religion? In the coming months, the Supreme Court will decide two cases involving this issue. The cases are about the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate” — the law’s requirement that employer health plans cover Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives without out-of-pocket expense, including co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles. The employers in these two cases are among scores of profit-making businesses that are claiming a religious right to be excused from this requirement because the use of contraceptives violates their owners’ religious beliefs.
The businesses in these cases are not churches or even nonprofit hospitals or universities with religious affiliations. They are instead a cabinet manufacturer and a chain of arts and crafts stores. Nevertheless, their owners claim that contraceptive coverage poses a grave threat to their religious liberty.
These cases indeed pose a grave threat to religious liberty, but not to that of the owners of these businesses. 
EJ Montini's dismissiveness toward modern day Christian Theocrats is irresponsible. Given that it is likely to cause many readers and viewers to take the attitude that "this is no big deal" -- which equates to lulling Arizona citizens into an apathetic stupor -- it is gross journalistic malpractice.

When was the last time, I wonder, that "journalists" on that same editorial board opined that Arizonans have the government they deserve? Is it reasonable to expect an engaged, informed citizenry when you have pitiful reporting like we've seen in the first week of the 2014 legislative session?

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the furthering of the United Christian States of America, one discriminatory piece of legislation at a time.