With Charity for All: What Abraham Lincoln Can Teach us About Religious Freedom

There's a reason everybody quotes Lincoln: he was just so damn thought-provoking.

There’s a reason everybody quotes Lincoln: he was just so damn thought-provoking.

Abraham Lincoln is by far the most famous of American presidents, and not just because he cut an impressive, bearded and stovepipe-hatted figure that forever gave historical reenactors and drunk Halloween party-goers a reason to get out of bed every morning.

Lincoln was the president who saved the Union from the southern slaveholders’ insurrection (with a little help from the United States military), and he died as a martyr for that most American of notions: that all men (and women) really are created equal. Plus, according to at least one scholar, he single-handedly fought off hoards of vampires. April 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination by actor, Confederate sympathizer, and monumental buzzkill, John Wilkes Booth. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton truly said it best (if he said it all) when he remarked upon Honest Abe’s violent death that, “Now he belongs to the ages.” The current age could learn a lot from Lincoln’s wisdom and honesty.

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Indiana: Jim Crowing Religious Freedom?

Indiana: the place where some Christians denounce gayness, all in the name of Jesus, a guy who hung out with twelve dudes all the time.

Indiana: the place where some Christians denounce gayness, all in the name of Jesus, a guy who hung out with twelve dudes all of the time.

What in tarnation is happening to America? It seems like everywhere you look, the gays are taking over, demanding to be treated like human beings instead of being the go-to pariahs for self-righteous, sin-selective, persecution-complex-racked, judgmental neo-Pharisees. The nerve. Take Indiana, for example, where Republican Governor Mike Pence’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a form of legislative red meat for holier-than-thou moral crusaders passed with the express intention to not discriminate against the LGBT community — hasn’t gone over as smoothly as the Governor expected.

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Ted Cruz’s religious horror: Why he’s really running for High Priest of America

Read Cruz's words and watch his stagecraft -- and you see this is the deeply fundamentalist vision he's propagating.

Read Cruz’s words and watch his stagecraft — and you see this is the deeply fundamentalist vision he’s propagating.

My latest piece is an article for Salon that explains why Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential ambitions are driven, in part, by a strangely fundamentalist  interpretation of American civil religion.

In many ways, America deserves Ted Cruz. After all, it’s been nearly eight years since voters (and the Supreme Court) elected a cocksure, right-wing adopted Texan, long on discredited ideology but short on wits, who plunged the United States into a sinkhole of economic and foreign policy chaos from which it has yet to fully emerge. The American political attention span is notoriously short.

Read the whole thing over at Salon.

America and Homosexuality: An Unfortunate Hate Story

A motley collective of passionate Californians, fresh from re-reading the Sermononthe Mount, practice loving thy neighbor.

A motley collective of passionate Californians, fresh from re-reading the Sermon on the Mount, practice loving thy neighbor.

America. It’s the land of the free. The home of the brave. The country that invented the bacon milkshake. If that isn’t freedom, then “freedom” has no meaning. But in the twenty-first century, this great nation faces many threats to its cherished notions of freedom: wage stagnation, income inequality, unequal pay, infrastructure collapse, money in politics, endless overseas wars, environmental degradation, poorly guarded nuclear arsenals, TED CRUZ!!! But, according to some conservative Americans, no threat is more threatening than the threat of two dudes making out (lesbians don’t count, because they’re what conservatives download at night after a hard day of protesting gay marriage at any given state capital).

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47 Vallandighams: The GOP’s Iran Letter and the Shadow of Civil War Treason

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R-Confederacy) and his GOP collegues don't take kindly to Obama being president of 'Murica.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R-Confederacy) and his GOP colleagues don’t take kindly to Obama being president of ‘Murica.

What exactly is treason? Well that’s an easy one, innit? Treason is when a scheming, disloyal jerk betrays a sacred oath they took to their country, usually in the service of an enemy power or for shallow, partisan, political gains. It’s one of those concepts that everyone intuitively understands, but it gets really thorny when brought under the parsing nuance of the law.

Thus, when 47 members of the Republican-dominated Senate sent “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” (seriously, they used a generic salutation more akin to an editorial in a local newspaper) for the express purpose of undermining the Obama Administration’s ongoing diplomatic nuclear talks with Iran, they probably weren’t concerned about committing treason against the United States (besides, Obama’s from Kenya anyhoo, right?). And while their boneheaded attempt to score political points with their war-happy, right-wing base by giving said knuckle draggers yet another collective, foreign-conflict buzz may or may not constitute treason in a constitutional sense, there’s another conception of treason — the popular conception — that’s played a major role in U.S. history, and 47 GOP senators have skirted this line closer than Cubans in a missile crisis.  Continue reading

Bibles, Bubbas, and Hucksters: Mike Huckabee’s “Real” America

The cover to Mike Huckabee's book. "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy," a concise history of alliteration for rubes.

The cover to Mike Huckabee’s book. “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” a concise history of alliteration for rubes.

Much like the distant European Pleistocene past, when modern Homo Sapiens co-existed with their brow-ier Neanderthal cousins, there are currently two species of humans in twenty-first century America: “Real” and “Fake” Americans. While many noted anthropologists, such as Dr. Sarah Palin of the University of Boonedocksville – Alaska have devoted their studies to understanding how and why these two species of Americans exist, few scholar-scientists have understood the phenomenon of bifurcated modern American humanity better than that foremost expert on U.S. political alignment: former Arkansas governor (and last-remaining Ted Nugent fan), Professor Mike Huckabee.  Continue reading