A Brief Thought: Citizens United in Religious Liberty

Editor’s Note: well my absurdly irregular sleep schedule has finally caught up with me and as a result, today’s Brief Thought is coming to you later in the day on Sunday than I had originally intended; please accept my apologies and know that I’ve been working pretty hard on keeping the flow of posts on this website more regular since the start of February.

With that noted, today we’re going to look at one of the most dangerous executive orders President Donald Trump has signed since taking office after the objectively horrifying 2016 US election and why it is that this order isn’t getting anywhere near the attention an issue of this magnitude deserves in the mainstream, corporate media:

 

 

Note: Please be reminded that if you’re having trouble reading this info graphic, you can right click on the picture and select “view this image” to pop out a larger version. Additionally, don’t forget to check out my comments after the sources section of this article.

 

Sources:

READ: Trump’s executive order on religious liberty

Trump’s Order on Religious Liberty Pleases a Few, but Lets Down Many Conservatives

Why Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty Left Many Conservatives Dissatisfied

LGBT groups condemn Trump’s religious liberty executive order

Clergy members warn religious liberty order will “harm others in the name of those beliefs”

Trump’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Executive Order May Have More to Do With Fundraising Than Freedom

Trump Religious Liberty Executive Order To Turn Churches Into Republican Super PACs

Trump Order Could Lure Churches into Dark Money Politics

Welcome to our new plutocracy: Citizens United has effectively destroyed the First Amendment

How Is Citizens United Ruining Democracy and How Can We Stop It?

Not Just News Corp: Media Companies Have Long Made Political Donations

Twenty Years of Media Consolidation Has Not Been Good For Our Democracy

 

As is often the case, I expect that many will describe the views I’ve expressed in the above info-graphic as alarmist or perhaps even paranoid but I cannot help but feel this is merely an expression of wishful thinking at best, or disingenuous fuckery at it’s lowest. Many establishment-leaning pundits have already argued that the IRS rarely enforces the 1954 Johnson Amendment that Trump’s executive order essentially defangs; even in cases where individual religious leaders have made overt political advertisements – I would counter by pointing out that nobody has tried to funnel unlimited political advertising money through a church before either.

Simply put, Trump’s new religious liberties order is a Pandora’s box of religiously weaponized political advocacy and anyone who tells you they can accurate predict how far this is going to go, is probably stone fucking lying because the unanswerable questions practically write themselves. Could a group of like-minded, politically active elites form their own church much the way the Church of Scientology rose to power? If that seems like too many hoops to jump through for you, have you considered the possibility of simply buying an existing church? How many churches, temples and mosques in America that have already been granted tax-exempt status are cash light and running a yearly deficit? Do you think some of them might be persuaded by a guy like Roger Stone or Glenn Beck to let wealthy elites run a pseudo SuperPAC out of their church on behalf of the right kind of candidate in exchange for straight hard cash donations? Not that I think it matters all that much, but has Trump even realized that it won’t just be Christian conservative churches that can take advantage of this order and one might reasonably expect fundamentalist Muslim & Jewish organizations to also begin funneling money to candidates with this clause? Considering how often the IRS already turns a blind eye towards sketchy donations to religious organizations, isn’t this order practically begging Christian conservatives to try and play kingmaker in politics on behalf of primarily Republican candidates? In my opinion these are questions that should be dominating the current daily news cycle in the United States and I believe it would be extremely naive to believe that the answer will be “no” to any of the truly important ones.

Despite all the griping from hateful religious conservative groups, it seems very clear to me that with the signing of this order, the American Taliban is back in a big way under Trump and threatening to open up a whole new frontier of buying influence in American politics. While I’m certainly glad that our short-fingered vulgarian in chief refused to write an illegal carte-blanche to discriminate against LGBT Americans like his most rabid hardline Christian followers desired – I have a hard time celebrating yet another potentially fatal blow to an American democratic process already on life support and I genuinely fear that last Thursday is a day that will live in infamy for future generations of our disenfranchised children who don’t happen to be rich.

 

  • Nina Illingworth

 

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