Christian Nationalism Is Infecting the United States

Christian Nationalism Is Infecting the United States


It’s great to welcome back to the program. Catherine Stewart, who’s the author of The
Power Worshipers Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Catherine, so great to have you back. It’s wonderful to see you again. Thank you. So I think that now, partially thanks to this
Netflix series, The Family, there are more people who are becoming familiar with the
under the radar way in which Christian nationalism is a thing here in the United States, despite
sort of at least nominally, the separation of church and state. And one of the things a lot of people may
not understand is all of the different sort of centers of power and influence that that
are playing a role here. So can you kind of lay out the landscape for
us a little bit? Sure. The political movements are pretty complicated. And this one is, I think, more complex than
most. Most it’s kind of centralists. It consists of a variety of for profit and
nonprofit organizations, legal advocacy groups, right wing policy groups, data initiatives,
media and messaging workshops, legislative initiatives. So, you know, the movement’s leaders, are
there a number of them? They’re often interconnected through some
of these initiatives. But it’s it’s a really vast kind of movement
with a lot of different components. And it shows the extent to which this the
Christian right has organized over decades, really, in building this kind of infrastructure. Can you give a couple of the examples that
might be more surprising to people of where what what some of the components are? Sure. I mean, let’s start with the legislative initiative
called Project Blitz. It operates a little bit like the American
Legislative Exchange Council. You know what that is? They craft centrally craft legislation. And then these different pieces of identical
or near identical legislation are they flood the states, all of them, and intending to
sort of chip away bit by bit at the separation of church and state in different ways. So, for instance, this past year and a half
in dozens of states have seen these in God we trust bills which mandate that people put
large in God. We trust science in public school classrooms
and public schools, even on public buildings, even the windows of police cars, just to sort
of get the idea in people’s minds, you know, in God we trust this is somehow, you know,
unifying the idea of religion with a national identity. But, you know, when they these aren’t God
we trust does come into a state. People think it’s sort of a one off and maybe
they oppose it or maybe they don’t. But the fact is, these are pieces, a piece
of legislation that are crafted by project blitz. And so they understand one thing I’m thinking
of is when when bans on same sex marriage were effectively outlawed by the Supreme Court
in June of 2015. We talked at the time about how the battle
lines against LGBT rights were going to shift from marriage to workplace discrimination,
so-called religious freedom. And then a whole bunch of different instances
of this popped up at the state level. Was that also an example of the way in which
this is this is crafted and then kind of rolled out nationally? Absolutely. I mean, this the architects of Project Blitt
have arranged this type of legislation, the three categories. The first is more, you know, you could call
it symbolic. But the third category is really about a license
to discriminate against people whose so-called lifestyles are very being that they disapprove
of. So opposition to LGBT equality is on the frontlines
of that third category. When we talk about this concept of the culture
war religiosity seems to be a big part of that. I mean, very often when we talk about like
the more religious and older Fox News demographic and how it ties into very often supporting
Republican agenda rather than Democratic agenda. Can you talk a little bit about how you think
of the concept of culture war in this concept, context of religiosity? Sure. I mean, I think we’re kidding ourselves if
we just look at this through a culture war framework. The this is a political movement and it’s
all about power. And if you look at the expansiveness of the
positions of the leaders, look, when they’re talking to the, you know, the voters and when
they’re talking to pastors about how to talk to their congregants about these issues, to
turn them out, to vote, they’re it’s all abortion all the time or at some of these other same,
you know, same sex marriage or. These other kinds of culture war issues. But when you look at what they say in the
forms that they share, when they’re talking to sympathetic audiences, they have incredibly
expansive policy proposals, economic policy, foreign policy, domestic policy. And that shows that this is a much more expansive
movement. It’s not just a culture war. I mean, if you can understand really well
that if you can get people to vote on one or two issues, you can capture their vote. So that’s why they’ve focused so heavily on
these on these particular issues. You know, in the Corona virus situation that
we’re dealing with, we’ve seen a lot of prominent Christian televangelists preying on vulnerable
people on their disproportionately elderly audiences, offering things like silver you
can drink to cure Corona virus can. That’s Jim Baker. Kenneth Copeland did a sort of pray away Corona
virus thing with his hands covered in. I mean, I’m guessing it’s water, but some
systems have wholly liquid, I’m sure is that that’s a very cartoonish representation of
the connection between news and religion. Does that have any connection to the to the
movement you’re talking about, which is working legislatively, etc.? Or are these really two totally different
things? And no, it’s all connected. Look, the movement is deeply hostile. It’s very anti-science. They, you know, obviously are anti evolution,
very take very strong in both segments of the movement, take very strong, anti-environmental
policies, because that’s sort of part of their policy. It’s a very sort of pro-business, you know,
business friendly of movement because they depend critically on the wealth of a subsection
of America’s plutocratic class. So they do take anti-environmental policies. They take in anti science policies, and they
and they disparage critical thinking above all. And so that movement has really kind of taken
control of the Republican Party. And I think you see the consequences in the
administration’s reaction to the Corona virus and a pandemic like this. We were unable to sort of. There’s a kind of diminishment of value of
expertise. You know, the people who are around in Trump’s
inner circle, they’re not chosen because they’re experts in their field. They’re chosen because they adhere to an extremist
ideology and because they’ve demonstrated like severe political like extreme political
loyalty. So we’re talk a little bit about you mentioned
that political divide. Right. Republicans and Democrats. On the one hand, there’s no question that
in the electorate this is far more prevalent on the right than on the left. At the same time, things like the National
Prayer Breakfast and, you know, prayer from. From a chaplain before the House starts, this
stuff is basically codified and not really questioned very much by Republicans or Democrats. So can you talk a little bit about where there
is a partisan divide on this and then where there is not? Well, I think most Democrats support the separation
of church and state and understand that it’s not just sort of a technicality in our Constitution
and it’s not just something for atheists. It’s a principle that served our country very
well since our nation’s founding, the kind of respect for religious pluralism. America’s irreducibly pluralistic. And I think that that’s become a kind of partisan
issue. Respect for pluralism or the desire to impose
a sort of single improved approved varieties of religion on the on the rest of us and to
create within America a kind of hierarch hierarchy of rights. At the same time, though, again, we see that
there are these elements, you know, everything from the prayer before the House comes to
order and the National Prayer Breakfast, where the lines seem more blurred in terms of that
separation. I’m wondering whether the movements you talk
about, are they specifically targeting Republicans or are they simply having sort of more success
with them? How does that work? That movement is really seize control of the
Republican Party. Let’s just look at the issues like abortion
when Roe v. Wade was passed. Most Republicans supported it. Most Republican Protestants supported it. And there were a Republican pro-choice organizations
up into the 90s or early 2000s. But bit by bit, they were purged because that
sort of extreme wing seized control of the party. They knew that it was like easier in a way
to unite a smaller group around a radical core than it is to unite more disparate group
of folks and create a no cohesion there. I mean, look, it’s absolutely true that religion
there’s always been religion, our country, freedom of religion is one of our founding
principles and freedom of conscience. And it’s worth noting, I think, that there
is a very strong progressive religious movement in America that rejects the politics of conquest
and division that this movement represents. What are the other issues? I mean, it’s obvious that abortion and gay
marriage have recently been been very, very prominent. You sort of alluded to religious messages
in civil society, in God we trust everywhere, currency, pledge of Allegiance, et cetera. What are some of the other policy issues that
this movement is concerned with in pushing for? Well, they’re always talking about religious
freedom of religious liberty. And it’s a kind of specious idea of freedom
that the religious freedom is your the right of people, the so-called correct views, supposedly
correct. Used to discriminate against others. But I think that calls for religious freedom
are as loud and insistent as they are, not just because people are the correct views,
want the right to discriminate against others and to destroy basically various forms of
equal rights and civil rights legislation, but also because they’re really desperate
to secure their tax subsidies and to expand access to public money. So let’s think about it this way. Religious organizations already enjoy substantial
tax privileges and benefits and subsidies that other religious non-religious nonprofits
do not enjoy. Have parsonage exemptions. They don’t have to open their books so the
taxpayer can see where the money goes. Once you know when they have it. So so they get all these exemptions and subsidies
and yet they’re still eager to seize a greater share of public money. So this is really obvious. I’ll just give you one example. The field of public education, America spends
something like, I don’t know, six hundred billion dollars every year in public K through
12. The movement is really desperate to see, but
this is an even greater portion of that than they are have to vouchers. So there you know, there are already voucher
programs throughout many states, something like state of Florida, where 80 percent of
the voucher money flows into religious schools, which are free to discriminate against LGBT
students and teachers, that are free to promote creationism and to teach kind of contempt
for other forms of religion. Some of them teach a kind of Christian nationalist
version of American history. So there’s. But they they just want to seize more, more
and more money. And now there’s a case in front of the Supreme
Court, I think it’s called it’s it took place in Montana. Again, the name escapes me right now. But it’s another case where observers are
are noting that this may open the floodgates to even more tax punting funding for religious
organizations. So you write about like a three phase agenda
and you talk to phase one is stuff like in God We Trust on bills and on police cars,
et cetera. Is that this is just for project blitz itself? That’s not for the movement overall. God project blitz is only one small of a much
larger, much larger wheel, even larger machinery. I mean, give us a sense of. What is the broader plan? So, you know, at the micro we’re talking about
this in God we trust type stuff. It seems more macro is, for example, gettings
getting of state money for schooling that can discriminate on religious grounds. What’s the big picture? Well, it’s a nationalist, authoritarian, anti-democratic
movement. And I think that’s kind of the bigger picture
here, is that this is a movement that tries to is trying to bring about a different kind
of order. They don’t think a lot of people think of
the religious right and they think, well, they just kind of want to sit at the table. They want, you know, in the form of noisy
form of American democracy. They just want to have their voices heard
and be taken into account. But this is a movement that really doesn’t
believe in my modern, pluralistic democracy with equal rights for all. They really want to establish an authoritarian
form of power. So let’s look at it. We can compare it to other forms of religious
nationalism around the world. When you look at what Vladimir Putin is doing
in Russia or Orban in Hungary or Erdoğan in Turkey, when these leaders bind themselves
closely to conservative religious authorities in their own countries in order to establish
a more authoritarian form of power, we rightly recognize this is a form of religious nationalism. And I think that this is what we’re seeing
today with Trump’s alliance with our own religious hyper conservatives. Yet in the limited time we have left, I wanted
to ask, you know, Trump has not been known to be a religious person for basically his
entire life. All of a sudden, the Bible’s his favorite
book and so on and so forth. How much is Trump sort of controlled by this? It’s come back to bite completely because
he’s dependent on them for his power. I mean, they’ve managed to get a lock on a
bloc of voters and without their support, he would have failed. And I think when you look at his alliance
with them, a lot of people think it’s transactional. They think he’s just going to appoint justices
favorable to their interests or economic policies, favorable to their pocketbooks. But I think it goes further than that. I mean, Trump sort of personifies a certain
kind of authoritarian power that the elite that, you know, religious nationalism often
favors, which is nationalism doesn’t want a nice leader. They want a leader who’s going to sort of
break the rules and and knock heads as long as those heads belong to their their so-called
enemies. Yes. And and we’re seeing that weekly, if not daily
with with this administration. We’ve been speaking here with Catherine Stewart. The book is The Power Worshipers Inside the
Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Catherine, such a pleasure having you back
on. Thanks so much for having me

100 Comments on "Christian Nationalism Is Infecting the United States"


  1. I will admit that I am no social scholar but I have been watching and listening to the religious right working on this movement for some time. When openly far right religiously leaning candidates were elected to political office I instinctively knew we as a nation were in trouble.

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  2. Great interview guest! I appreciated hearing how the emphasis on the culture war is shallow and ignores the more fundamental attempts to errode separation of church and state.

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  3. Some Christians believe that the mysterious harlot in the Book of Revelation called Babylon The Great represents corrupt religious entities. She's described as fornicating with the Kings of the Earth…uhh, that seems very appropriate

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  4. Trumps isnt having his massive crowd to feed off on due to covid19. Maybe they should continue to have it so that they could have their Jesus moment to learn the truth and see the lies.

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  5. In God we trust isn’t really for everyone. It’s more a sign saying that white people are in charge and will use their god to justice their hate.

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  6. The christian right would love nothing more than a theocracy than a democracy. Then fascism will have it's hold.

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  7. While liberals squabble among themselves, refuse to vote unless the election excites them and their candidate is a messiah, conservatives like industrious ants band together to work quietly under the radar–voting in every election, taking over school boards and town councils, then state legislatures and state houses.

    Liberals lack of political discipline and their preferring to sabotage each other as opposed to uniting to defeat the common enemy–the GOP–is why they are unable to consolidate power. 2000. 2016.

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  8. Sooooo, that thumbnail…what's the origin? Because I already know in my gut whoever created that was being dead serious, because NOTHING is too ham-fisted and on the nose for Trumpian Christian fundamentalists.

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  9. It's not at all pro-business to oppose environmental protection. Failure to stop or reduce global warming would lead to global recession. It's the energy and mining companies which are opposing this, and they have the ear of many politicians and influencers

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  10. Folks like pakman always try to BS about how only old people watch fox.

    Reality is,
    Fox almost always tops 18-49 demographic which advertisers desire

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  11. There is nothing Christian about Christian Nationalism. It is a sin that they even get to use the word "Christian" ! They preach hate ! Some even preach the "gospel of riches", God wants you to be rich ! They are the antithesis of what Christ taught !

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  12. Proverbs 27:2
    'Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.'

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  13. The religious right is determined to take us back to the Dark Ages. The 5 Conservatives on the Supreme Court will make sure we get there.

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  14. There an existential threat and need to be watched. These are the same people who join facist altright movement. Hopefully the Corona virus wipe them out.

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  15. It's crazy how these super hard core religious Christian's loooovvveee going to Israel…the insane amount of Christian's that take tours to visit the birthplace of Jesus and they eat that up…hmmm the religious Christian right and Israel are besties awww

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  16. meanwhile Christian prayer is banned in school yet we muslim parents who have sued and won to allow kids time to pray throughout the day and special treatment during Ramadan

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  17. Judaism, Christianity and Islam were all born in the Middle East, and all follow the teachings of Abraham, the first prophet of God. All three of these religious disciplines are linked, with the Quran positively regarding Jews and Christians as "People of the Book!" – I'm not religious, but I love to say this just to torpedo the racist comments I hear from ignorant bigots out there. I work and live in Massachusetts like Mr. Pakman. If I have to school idiots in this "liberal" state, I can't imagine what it's like for non-Christians anywhere else!

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  18. Katherine appears to be Happy about this Movement. Where is her Outrage? This is an attempt to legislate Discrimination by religious Fanatics. Ignorance Promotion, plain and simple.
    Have People on who actually Understand just how Damaging this is to our Society. She seems to be Amused by all this for lack of a better word. Smiling the Whole way. I sensed Zero Danger from her at all……She acts like a Cult member herself. Or is she Flirting with David….??? You might need to make a move Dave. I'm so Confused.

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  19. They seized on abortion because it's hard for anyone to say they're in favor of it. The problem is that it has nothing to do with Christianity or Judaism. In fact, Judaism has no qualms about aborting a baby, even if it includes the mother dying, if the woman's husband even SUSPECTS that it's not his baby, just in case. They make the woman drink some crud and see if she dies or not. If she dies, it means she was impure. If I'm not mistaken, Judaism's god is the same as Christianity's.

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  20. I'm a Christian, and a pastor, and I fully approve of this. Mixing politics and religion pollutes both.

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  21. D'ya think!!!!…This has been going on for a damn while and I have not seen ANYBODY jumping up and down about their relentless attacks on the separation of church & state. Where has everyone been? Asleep at the switch?

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  22. Throughout the history of the world, atrocities have been committed “in the name of the Lord”

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  23. Separation of church and state is actually being upheld if all your concerned with is the Freedom of an elected official attending church, meetings, etc.
    Even if an official dropped dead in the White House it is not illegal for a Priest to give last rights(given he or she may be Catholic).
    It is however an outrage for the Pres to call the Pope on legal advice on how to write or even word laws before passing.(if in these examples proper chain of command is violated in favor a religious views of a singular religion/religious leader).
    "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food" Being recited by the President before his morning cheerios is in no way a violation of the Separation of Church and State.
    Though I am gaining late insigjt into this "Me too culture" right here haha.

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  24. Respect for other religions and the Constitution is something the right has no problem disregarding. Has there been orher religions that constantly complain when they dont get there way?

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  25. Umm , working white man here , know a lot people and have been around quite a bit and have no idea what these people are talking about , this is all make believe democrat crap , what about the strong underlying anti white hatred in the Democratic party ? Is that not a horrible thing ? This is an angry gay man's view of the world ,gay people want acceptance and then you have this gay man , David Pakman, making fun of everyone who is not like him , how does that work ? ,Just shows you how blind the Democrats are , following the ideas of a gay man from Argentina , and why is this woman constantly smiling ? I will tell you why because she is crazy , and she has a vendetta . What a bunch of bullshit .

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  26. Ok now I wish she’d write a book about how we can rescue Christianity from these corrupt extreme conservatives who have highjacked it! Nothing they do is actually Christian or follows what Jesus actually taught: Turn the other cheek, love your neighbor, welcome refugees, do not be greedy or boastful, throw out the corrupt moneylenders, care for all children, feed the poor. (Just to name a few). In fact it seems they do just about the opposite of all those things.

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  27. If you ask me, letting people back into their houses of worship in large groups during this time of Coronavirus will help the overall situation.

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  28. When religion becomes political, bad things happen like sharia law, war against science, and indoctrination of people. It also gave us Donald Trump who made a deal with these religious leaders to allow them to take over our governments in return for votes from the religious masses.

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  29. The GOP terrorists have been waging a decades long campaign against the US government to replace it with a fascist theocracy.

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  30. So, the religious want to turn America into the Europe that people left to get away from the religious authorities.

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  31. Not to mention that these non-profit religious organisations meddle in politics. Last I heard this was illegal and they should lose their tax-free status. Honestly I don't think religious groups should be tax exempt, but, oh well, this is America, where there is no justice so why be indignant.

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  32. The Religious-Right would have us all living in a real world version of the Handmaid 's Tale.

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  33. None of this surprises me in the least. I have been saying for years that the United States is a theocratic military state. Religion holds wayyyy too much power in your country. You people bow to your military, and bend over for religion.

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  34. It is only recently that I learnt that religion and state are supposed to be separate in U.S.A… WTF is there a priest connected to congress? And a CHRISTIAN priest at that! Isn't that unconstitutional? Anyway, I have always had the image of American majority being pretty puritanic Christians, only comparable to 3rd world countries. (Especially as they are evolution denialists, rather than trying to unite and assimilate the science into religion.)

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  35. These religious fanatics are proving what a scam and fraud religion is ….. wake up America …. before we become Afghanistan ….

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  36. It´s almost funny, if it would´t be tragic, that they have the most direct chanel to "heaven" in Italy (Vatican), and still they are suffering the most of this Corona-virus. I suppose they are really leaving it to the hands of their god, and it really shows!

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  37. A religious person will do what he is told no matter what is right…where as a spiritual person will do what is right no matter what he is told…Religion is not for people who are afraid of hell, but Spirituality is for those who have been there already. Christianity is a way of life, not a religion.

    You do not believe in God? And there is no God because you do not believe in it? Will he exist any the less because you do not please to believe in it? Should a thief be so foolish to deny that there is a prison? Would the prison thereby cease to exist if he did not believe in it? And would the thief not enter it?

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  38. The US is going in the way of many third world countries…where religion is typically used by politicians to exert their power. Good luck and welcome to the club.

    Religion does not have anything to do with God, it never has and never will. Religion has always been a political tool.

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  39. No, this is not Christian Nationalism, nor it is jewish particularism, it is STUPIDITY that is infecting the US. And the stupidity bears with your (actual) leaders.

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  40. A stupid question: "if the time is there. shall the annual pilgrimage to Mecca be canceled this Year?! Or shall they die for god?!

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  41. Seems like religion is just one more thing for people to hate on in this world. Pick any topic, If it’s not what you want or you like then it’s not okay with you.

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  42. David, these people commenting on your story are just as fucking insane as the trump supporters you condemn. And the shit they spew is no different.

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  43. Lots of crazy people out there with crazy ideas. Some of them just love this end of days stuff because they think it will make Jesus come back.

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  44. bernie bros didn't show for the primaries now biden in front because dems didn't want tom steyer guess its trump for 4 more

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  45. I wish the evangelicals would just stop looking in other people's bedroom windows, what happens in your neighbour's bedroom is none of your business.

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  46. Evangelicals push "religious freedom" unfortunately they seem to think that means they should be able to force their idiotic ideas on everyone around them.

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  47. If the church wants to interfere in politics they need to pay taxes. They are spending money lobbying governments instead of doing charitable acts, therefore their and property should not be tax exempt.

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  48. As if the US hasn't got enough troubles with king Trump. Religion is like an insidious cancer and the tax-free status needs to be abolished for churches. Which one will finally bring down the US?

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  49. All these people are going to burn in hell because they're living a complete lie! JESUS WAS BLACK ( Revelation says that his skin was like BURNT BRONZE and his hair was like WOOL) baby used to slide to keep black people down for centuries. I hope they do you rot in hell.

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  50. They been the down fall of American they are Satan soldier and alway use god name they are sheep that walking around in human being clothes and use fake church with god name on it God never preacher hate and racists and sexists because he make everybody and we all are his kids.

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  51. “This ultimate wickedness and ultimate stupidity…” Christopher Hitchens on how religion poisons everything.

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  52. Having a relationship with God has nothing to do with religion. I do trust God. I do not trust our government. Mike Pence and Evagelist predictors do not represent me. Those people dont love God , they love the traps of tradition and religion. Christian's does not equal religion.

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  53. Hypocritical fanaticism is very dangerous in any form because it shuns reason and relays solely on emotion. Its main purpose is to manipulate others to their purposes. The underlying aim is more money and power. I dont want to be told what to do and what to think by any person or group, that's not democracy.

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  54. Stupidity is infecting the nation. Liberty U is back in session and kids shoulder to shoulder in hallways

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  55. Jesus doesn't want trump. When trump's spiritual father Satan fell from grace trump was already predestined to become president, meet Bubba in prison, and then go straight to hell…..from prison.
    Epstein is waiting for him there.

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  56. I think there was a preceding pandemic that was hardly noticeable, but which genetically altered large segments of the population to make them incapable of learning, unless given a simple mantra to repeat, one that stokes their pride. After that, zilch, immune to logic and violent about defending their absolute truth. That, or humanity is this, and we are all f*****.

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