Survivors of religious persecution, left, stood and were recognized by Sam Brownback, at podium on right, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, during the start of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the State Department on July 24, 2018. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Brownback opens religious freedom summit with plea to fight persecution

WASHINGTON (RNS) — U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback opened a summit at the State Department this week by urging leaders from a range of faiths to work together to help the persecuted across the globe.

“We need your faith in action to move the world to not just tolerance of differences —although that’s important — but unfortunately, that bar is just too low,” said Brownback, a former Republican Kansas governor and U.S. senator, on Tuesday (July 24). “We must move to a place where people genuinely care and love one another, no matter our differences. You must help us get there.”

He listed the faiths represented in the room of some 350 representatives from 80 countries, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, Yazidis and others.

“We were as inclusive as possible because we wanted to include everyone of every faith or no faith at all, everyone who cares about religious freedom and who will join us in this cause,” said the ambassador nominated by President Trump in July 2017 and confirmed in January 2018. “Religious freedom really, truly is for everyone. It’s a right given by God and it’s a beautiful part of our human dignity.”

The website for the first-ever event, called the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, said it aims to bring foreign ministers and religious leaders together to “identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all.”

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters he hoped the three-day meeting “will move many countries in the right direction on religious freedom. We think that’s an invaluable part of American diplomacy and the capacity to shape America’s vision in the world.”

RELATED: Pompeo says Putin summit helps with religious freedom push

In his opening remarks, Brownback listed examples of religious persecution of religious minorities, from the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to the victimization of Yazidis and Christians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq. He also noted that U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson “remains wrongly imprisoned on false charges” in Turkey.

Brownback introduced the first two of several survivors of persecution scheduled to speak about their personal experience.

Jamie Powell, the wife of pastor John Cao, said he was arrested by Chinese border police after doing “faith-driven work” to help poor people in neighboring Myanmar and has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

“He has lost 50 pounds, he’s not been able to communicate with me and my children,” said Powell, who lives in the U.S. “My son and I traveled there, 10,000 miles, and we were not allowed to see him.”

Tahir Hamut, a Uighur Muslim from China who now lives in the U.S., told of how the Uighur population “is now living in horror,” with some sent to “re-education camps” similar to concentration camps.

“There are unprecedented restrictions on the religious lives of Uighurs,” he said through a translator. “The government has confiscated and burned religious books and demolished mosques.”

Other invitees ranged from Americans representing Southern Baptist, Scientologist, Hindu and Hare Krishna organizations to a delegation of Christian, Muslim and Sikh leaders from the United Arab Emirates. Scheduled speakers include Vice President Mike Pence; Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Discussions have included expert advice on the U.S. grant-making process that may assist religious and nongovernmental organizations in gaining financial support for their work on religious liberty.

Experts have said the meeting aims to demonstrate how the Trump administration prioritizes religious freedom. But others have questioned if it is primarily an opportunity to appeal to Trump’s base of white evangelical supporters, who have long called religious liberty a priority and who overwhelmingly voted for the president in 2016.

Ahead of the meeting, the National Religious Broadcasters, a group whose membership includes prominent evangelicals, welcomed the gathering.

“I am particularly grateful that you have chosen America’s first freedom — religious freedom — to be the focus of your first formal ministerial,” wrote NRB President Jerry Johnson in a Monday letter to Pompeo. “Religious liberty is a source of strength and stability for societies, and the focus that President Donald Trump and his administration have placed on this core principle sends a powerful message within our nation and to governments abroad.”


  1. Brownback has no business in any official capacity regarding religious freedom. The man supports establishment of sectarian religious beliefs as law and discrimination. Much like putting Steve Bannon in a position on racial equality.

    But it kept him out of governance of Kansas, so there is something to be said about putting him in a useless token position.

  2. “We must move to a place where people genuinely care and love one another, no matter our differences.”

    That “place” is where and when religious people have completely renounced their proclivity to spin the various falsehoods on non-religious people. The attendees most likely won’t be told about such a “place” at this conference. It is being held, after all, for the purpose of advancing a greater fog of falsehoods, not about cutting through the fog of any or all of them. Imagine yourself being told 30 years ago that Donald Trump is installing himself as the head of world Christianity with the permission of virtually all fundamentalists. It is as surreal now as it would have been then.

  3. “But it kept him out of governance of Kansas.”

    I’m afraid I’m not following you there, Spuddie. Brownback was Governor of Kansas for seven years from 2011-2018, plenty enough time for his “trickle-down economics” to prove its worth. What it proved is that it bankrupted the state in order to give billionaires like Charles Koch who reside in Topeka huge tax breaks while slashing and burning public education, infrastructure projects, you name it. It took the people of Kansas seven years to finally figure out that “trickle-down” wasn’t trickling down far enough, so they’re finally beginning to experiment with other ways of doing things – the sort of things Democrats have long advocated. To the failed Kansas experiment you can add Wisconsin under Scott Walker and Louisiana under Bobby Jindal. All three were laboratories of putting Republican principles in place with Republican majorities in their state houses and Republican Governors. All three experiments failed miserably.

  4. ““We were as inclusive as possible because we wanted to include everyone of every faith or no faith at all, everyone who cares about religious freedom and who will join us in this cause,” said the ambassador nominated by President Trump in July 2017 and confirmed in January 2018. “Religious freedom really, truly is for everyone. It’s a right given by God and it’s a beautiful part of our human dignity.””

    As I see it – Man doesn’t get it does he – and presumably doesn’t listen to the nonsense he spouts.

    “we wanted to include everyone of every faith or no faith at all” – ” It’s a right given by God”

    Inclusivity does not mean simply letting people you think are wrong take part – it means accepting that their viewpoint is, at least, as deserving of expression as yours.
    By crediting “God” not only does he deny the validity of those of “no faith at all” – he clearly intends that we know that the true deity is God rather than god(s) – i.e. the Christian deity.

  5. Question: How do you begin to move the needle on international religious freedom at a time when it’s clearly absent in the case of the Rohingyas, the Uighurs, the Yazidis, and many other peoples?

    Answer: Do exactly what Ambassador Brownback has done here. Assemble, organize, and energize the huge, diverse, mutual conversation that took place at this week”s summit. This is how you crank up Religious Freedom. This is how you change the score.

  6. More untruths from eblabulus…

    Walker has improved the business climate in WI compared to his democratic predecessor. He reduced taxes, reduced regulation, busted the teachers union and just landed the flat screen manufacturer FOXCONN which will bring 30k jobs to southern Wisconsin.

    Because of the changes made, Illinois jobs are migrating to WI.

  7. You only care about discriminating against LGBTQ+ people, along with anyone else that you don’t like. Black people should know better.

  8. ‘the Uighur population “is now living in horror,” with some sent to “re-education camps” similar to concentration camps.’

    This is no different from the anti-gay and anti-trans conversion therapy that Christians force upon LGBTQ+ children. How dare you people talk about religious discrimination?

  9. Umm, Brownback didn’t micro-manage what the other speakers wanted to say, nor did he censor the personal beliefs they respectively wanted to self-identify with.

    Likewise. nobody gets to micro-manage or censor Brownback on these aspects. He was respectful to all the other beliefs (including atheism).

    So he gets to openly credit God in one brief sentence (why complain about that?) because after all, that is Brownback”s own personal belief.

  10. It’s presentation. If he’d said “I believe it’s a right given by God” I’d have no problem other than disagreement. He didn’t – he said “It’s a right given God”. The difference is the difference between honesty and bigotry.

  11. There is nothing respectful about censoring the personal beliefs of LGBTQ+ people.

  12. I wasn’t responding to your garbage. Notice the name where the little arrow is going from?

    Brownback practically destroyed his state as did Scott Walker
    “Walker has the worst job-creation record in the country: Walker’s strategy of giving to the rich and squeezing everyone else isn’t working. Walker has the worst job-creation record in the country”

    The Damage Scott Walker did to Wisconsin

    1 of the 5 worst governors ever

    Your article is

  13. Brownback is a typical failing upwards Trump crony. After leaving Kansas in a condition straight out of a Mad Max movie, he was put in a token position to promote taliban-like sectarian discrimination.

  14. Oh, there you are. I thought I was talking to your alter ego.

    Also, if you’re going to cite a left wing rag like the shepherd express; at least pick a current edition. The article you cite is from 2012.

  15. Just “false charges”? Or are they “[PROVEN false charges”?

    “U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback … nominated by President Trump in July 2017 and confirmed in January 2018 … noted that U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson ‘remains wrongly imprisoned on false charges’ in Turkey.”

    Well, then, PROVE them “false”, man! Wachawaitinfer?!

    PROVE this is a “false charge”. That my fellow born-again Christian brother, Andrew Craig Brunson, contacted (1) the top FETÖ official in the Aegean region named Bekir Baz, (2) Baz’s aide named Mustafa Safa and (3) that Amnesty Turkey Branch Executive guy accused of aiding FETÖ by the name of Taner Kiliç. How do “they” know? Global System for Mobile (GSM) telecommunications signals showed that these guys were virtually at the same place on many, many, many – say again, many – occasions.

    PROVE this is a “false charge”. That my fellow born-again Christian brother, Andrew Craig Brunson, got involved in organizing the 2013 Gezi Park riots. He had lists with him naming Turkish gas station workers, railway workers and soldiers.

    PROVE this is a “false charge”. That my fellow born-again Christian brother, Andrew Craig Brunson sent this message to an American soldier six days after that 2016 failed coup attempt, which “they” blamed on military infiltrators by FETÖ: “Things will get worse, we will win in the end.”

  16. I’ve actually heard that line coming from atheists elsewhere. To which I respectfully respond, “I’m sorry, I understand what you’re aying, but Christians can’t be trying to appease Atheists by saying or even tacitly implying things like “but I could be wrong that God exists.”

    Now on some issues, “I believe” is indeed appropriate. No problem. But THIS issue is different. Christians, you gotta watch out for these little word games coming from Atheism, Inc.

    Can you imagine the Lord Jesus Christ, inserting or implying such an equivocation in His public statements? No? Then no use suggesting His followers go that route either. God is fact — no exceptions no exemptions at any time — and it’s okay for followers of Jesus to say so. If that creates a debate or disagreement, then that’s how the chips necessarily fall.

  17. Wait, what? Who forced “anti-gay and anti-trans conversion therapy” on “the Uighur population”?

  18. Wait, what? My friend floydlee is a “discriminat[ed] … Black”?

  19. Hang in there, I’m not ignoring you, I gotta come back to your posts in just a little while.

    But this thread IS about religious persecution, and you have NOT ONCE posted anything about being persecuted in America, or sent to concentration-camp, because of your personal religions of Buddhism and Satanism. In other words, you’ve enjoyed just as much Religious Freedom in America as I have enjoyed as a Christian.

    You and I “read about” the Rohingyas and Uighurs from a very safe distance, instead of experiencing the huge horrors they continue to receive. Brownback is trying to do a lot more than just “read about it.”

  20. However, ‘yo Dawg, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, December 17, 2012:

    “In the case of imprisoned Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan, the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief also protects the right not to believe … Both the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18) support the freedom of an individual or community to publically manifest a religion or belief, to change religions or not to follow any religion. As atheism is a form of belief, atheists enjoy protection under international law. Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2006, though the world’s most populous Islamic country officially recognizes only six religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, and Protestantism) and has a 1965 law that outlaws blasphemy and the dissemination of atheism.”

  21. Actually, I have posted about how my parents tried to beat the tomboy out of me as a child, on top of the persecution I faced for coming out as an atheist at age 11, while attending inner-city public schools in Mobile, AL.

    Hail Satan.

  22. Christians force those things on the American population, which is why the practice is being outlawed, one state at a time, since the federal government is too busy licking Christians’ a$$es.

  23. Black Christian homophobes and transphobes are the bane of my existence. They’d just as soon kill me as look at me. #ThatsSoChristian

  24. Okay, I’m back. I am genuinely sorry to hear what you’ve been through there. But I have to tell you that I’m still working with people who have suffered childhood parental abuse and school bullying / other troubles. What you report here sounds like parental abuse, sounds like some real school issues (and no I’m not fishing for more information about it)….
    ….but it does NOT sound like what these governments are doing to Rohingyas, Uighurs, Yazidis, and others. Neither one of us have even remotely dropped THAT far into the rabbit hole. The government didn’t arbitrarily remove us or imprison us, your relatives and neighbors weren’t — and aren’t — called upon to spy and report upon you and me lest THEY take the hit instead of us.

    We are both the recipients of American constitutional religious freedom. Taking it for granted, even. But others are heavily suffering right now. Even with Brownback’s efforts, it’s a real hard road for them. You could always volunteer and see if you can do better than Brownback.

  25. Eat sh*t, Christian scum. Church blacks are the f*cking worst.

  26. “We must move to a place where people genuinely care and love one another, no matter our differences. You must help us get there.”

    That’s a real laugher coming from a man who has long called for LGBT people to be stripped of their human and legal rights.

  27. True, I am black, and I can remember a small dollop of Jim Crow. So Charlotte says I’m supposed to be a Gay Marriage supporter. I’m not supposed to publicly oppose gay marriage. Especially if I’m running for Congress or President as a Democrat, or trying to break into the top tiers of secular music & TV entertainment. (This rule is seriously enforced, by the way.)

    But I can’t help it. I follow Jesus. I follow the Bible. And even if I were an Atheist, the scientific fact is that Men and Women are NOT interchangeable. What black Bishop Gilbert Thompson told the Boston Globe in 2004, is still the correct explanation:

    “Today, we look back with scorn at those who twisted the law to make marriage serve a racist agenda, and I believe our descendants will look back the same way at us, if we yield to the same kind of pressure a radical sexual agenda is placing on us today. Just as it’s distorting the equation of marriage if you press race into it, it’s also distorting if you subtract gender.”


    “(David) Sirota …. argues that leftist politicians are more successful in so-called “red states” than the mainstream media have previously reported. He is an opponent of free trade policies, a supporter of fair trade, and an advocate of workers’ rights and organized labor. His May 2007 speech at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention in Butte articulated many of his views. Sirota supported Sherrod Brown over Paul Hackett for the 2006 Senate election in Ohio and criticized Hackett’s claims that he was “forced out” of the race by party elders as disingenuous. In 2008, Sirota stated on radio program Democracy Now! that he had cast an early vote for Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama”

    “Lisa Kaiser to Join Community Advocates – This week, the Shepherd Express bids goodbye to our longtime colleague Lisa Kaiser. She has consistently represented the paper’s progressive vision of a more just and ethical society, questioning authority when questions needed to be asked …”

    “Chris Osterndorf is an entertainment reporter and movie critic”

  29. Which is why, dear brother in THE Christ Jesus, it’s always good to remember what our apostle Paul once said about said “law … race … [and] gender” in that quote from “Bishop Gilbert Thompson”. That Jesus saves! – and is the solution even to today’s “gender” crisis, “race” crisis, and “law” crisis.

    “Before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”

    Source: Galatians 3:23-29.

  30. I guess, in his mind, genuinely caring and loving gay people means denying them employment, housing, marriage and family life. How caring and loving is that? What a stinking pile of horse manure!

  31. Unless you’re gay or trans, according to you. #hypocrites

  32. ” I follow Jesus. I follow the Bible.”

    Of course you do, because it accomplishes several things for you: 1) It allows you to maintain the imaginary truth that your existence doesn’t end when your body dies, and that your imaginary god has given you control over which of two places you will spend the imagined next phase of your existence. 2) It allows you to maintain the delusion that you, along with those who share your imaginary truth, are not only superior to everyone else, but must seek dominion over their lives – because, if you don’t, you may not be granted your choice for where you will spend the imagined next phase of your existence. 3) Your Bible is one of the world’s greatest tools for cherry-pickers who want to easily justify their beliefs/opinions/attitudes/bigotry without having to waste their time with useless and annoying things such as reason, evidence, and logic.

  33. I am not Bob. I don’t use sock puppets.

    Your article got a lot of facts flat out wrong. Although you don’t like my sources cited, you aren’t giving any reason why they are factually incorrect or have a history of being so.

    Stats don’t lie. Conservative state governments have been driving their economies into the ground with tax burdens on the poor and middle class, none for the wealthy and money exiting the states by the truckload. Coupled with feeble job growth and high “misery indices” compared to others.

    Brownback was hounded of office by the consensus of the state. Walker has done nothing to change Wisconsin’s rust belt status.

  34. I was replying to eblabulus including Wisconsin as a poorly managed state.
    Per the business insider, Wisconsin’s economic growth is 10th in the nation for Q2 2018. It’s unemployment rate is 2.1%, and its GDP growth rate is a robust 3.1%.
    As I stated earlier, Walker personally landed Taiwan’s Foxconn’s only US manufacturing plant that will employ over 10,000 people on its Wisconsin campus and an additional 20k supporting jobs in the local communities.
    You generally have a good handle on your facts, but in this case you have no clue.

  35. You’re right, you don’t use sock puppets, you are a sock puppet.

    Stats don’t lie. Conservative governments run lower deficits and produce more jobs.

    They do that despite your AFL-CIO propaganda to the contrary.

  36. Any you were still wrong there too.

    Job growth was -70% under Walker

    Scott Walker’s exaggerated claims of employment trends in Wisconsin (Fact Checker biography)

    Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate in July 2015 was the lowest it had been since Walker took office in 2011.

    Scott Walker and the Failure of Trickle Dow

  37. No disrespect, but you wouldn’t be maybe exaggerating things a little, would you?

    I really don’t see myself as the bane of your existence. Got too many work projects already.

  38. ITS 2018! I just have you the most recent numbers.
    You keep citing articles from 3 or more years ago. Plus, you cite an article from the democratic candidate running against Walker in this years election.
    You continue to lose credibility with each reply. You’re not even a good data miner.

  39. So, how exactly do we Christians “force” these things “on the American population”?

    Can’t seem to find any local, state, or federal laws to that effect — anywhere in the nation.

  40. The mere fact that anti-gay and anti-trans conversion therapy even exist is a testament to how Christians force their beliefs on others and drive them to suicide, because they cannot change who they are. #ThatsSoChristian

  41. No, you really are the bane of my existence, and your white counterparts with you. How much money do you people get paid to exterminate gay and trans people, exactly? It certainly seems to be a lucrative endeavor for Bishop Gilbert Thompson.

  42. Sam Brownback is a sociopath. He is not capable of anything related to “tolerance”, “loving” or “caring”. He’s demonstrated that clearly for years.

  43. And Scott Walker has a huge past decline of his own creation to claw back from. Slight growth now does nothing to counter a steep drop for a while.

    We have been going with bullcrap supply side economics as policy for nearly 40 years. If it actually worked we should have the largest and most economically stable middle class since the 1950’s by now. Instead we have a shrinking middle class, more expensive benchmarks of middle class existence, stagnant wages for all people who earn paychecks and the drastic decline of jobs paying living wages.

    Added to that: attacks on education, promotion of predatory finance and a crumbling infrastructure.

    Conservative economics have made life crappier for virtually everyone who works for a living.

  44. Move along. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

  45. Crude Jedi mind tricks do not work on Jabba!

  46. I wonder if he allowed atheists in the room? The largest group of ‘faith’ people in america is now the ‘nones’, the people who put organized religion out of their lives some because of the hate and persecution of NON christians and gays by the christians. There are more nones than christians in half the states in America.

    Brownback believes christianity is the only way to heaven, is a biblical literalist, and I find it hard to believe he believes in ‘religious freedom’, but believes in christian freedom instead.

  47. Sure – you can say God is fact – but saying it doesn’t make it true.

    God is a belief – whether that god be Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu. Odin, Apollo or Athena.

    It isn’t a matter of appeasement – it’s a matter of truthfulness.

  48. Not sure how they get the idea that atheism is a form of belief – they’re probably confusing it with antitheism – religious folks often like to.

    Not sure either why your quote from December 2012 is relevant to the personal attitude of the current U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom – Sam Brownback – it seems that the post was then held by Suzan Denise Johnson Cook.

  49. Just as in THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation “there is neither male nor female”, likewise in Him there ain’t no LGBTs!

  50. If there is neither male nor female, then it hardly matters whom you bang, now, does it?

  51. That’s why they call him tater I suppose…

  52. Your name is “Paid Russian Troll”.

  53. Fine by me. If you don’t care one way or the other, I don’t care either whether on the one hand, it’s because “atheism is a form of belief [that] atheists enjoy protection under international law.” Or whether on the other hand, “it’s because “atheism [ain’t no] form of belief [that] atheists [never] enjoy protection under international law” (even though scholarly atheists do recognize “atheism [a]s a form of belief”).

  54. Says the evolution-denier. No one cares what you think.

  55. Ain’t no “bang[ing]” in heaven. You never knew? Oops I forgot. You hate Jesus.

    Never mind.

  56. “The largest group of ‘faith’ people in america is now the ‘nones'”? What Intel have you been rub-a-dubbed with? Patheos’ nonreligious blogs? (There’s a reason why they’re called bbbbbllllloogggs.)

  57. There’s a reason why no one cares what Christians think.

    I’ll give you a hint: it’s you.

  58. Cambridge U Dictionary: sociopath means a person who is completely unable or unwilling to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. That defines CanisPulchrae too, then.

  59. “Atheists” – what’s that? Oh those whose fav tabloid is Religion News Service? And who troll there religiously?

    Yes there were and no there were not.

  60. Are you suggesting that atheists don’t have a legitimate interest in religious news?

  61. For crutch purposes? Oh sure. Big time.

    Blog with Friendly Atheist & Dispatches from the Culture Wars for “legitimate … [non]religious news”, is my advice. RNS used to have a specialist in atheism news, but she quit.

  62. Raef Wolfe explains.

    According to him in Urban Dictionary dating June 29, 2004, “Hail satan” is Charlotte N/A’s “way of saying ‘Hail me!’ for [HpO’s] accomplishments” at RNS. It’s Charlotte N/A’s “way of saying ‘Hail us’ [Satanists] for the accomplishments of Satanists overall”. Therefore, “Hail satan” is “always said by a Satanist.”

    Say again, “Hail satan” is “always said by a Satanist.”

  63. The Bible as a tool for cherry-pickers is vastly surpassed by Marx’s “Das Kapital”.

    Your issue with “dominion over lives” is simply an adult version of juvenile Oppositional Defiant Disorder. No one can tell YOU what to do.

  64. A few minutes over at JoeMyGod will disabuse readers of any notion that LGBT people respect anyone else’s human and legal rights.

  65. Citation needed. W/o that you’ve got no intel. Which you don’t.

    I wanna see this thesis: “The largest group of ‘faith’ people in america is now the ‘nones'”.

  66. You certainly are obsessed with JoeMyGod, given how often you bring it up. What exactly bothers you about it?

  67. Ahh, but if all the atheists left here, the religious posters would be fooled into thinking they’re right. And they have enough experience with that fallacy already.

  68. So, you’re NOT able to say why JoeMyGod bothers you so much. Iiiiinteresting.

  69. In what way does that define me? Be specific.

  70. What’s wrong with anti-religion? You and your smarmy, sanctimonious ilk epitomoize what’s wrong with religion. I like to talk about that. I like to point it out. Our perspective is valid.

  71. I’ve never read “JoeMyGod”, but Bob does. Bob thinks everyone does.

  72. Says the guy who can’t stop trolling Ben at every opportunity. You’re a closet case. You’re obsessed with self-respecting gay people because you’re shot through with self-loathing.


    Brownback is a key player at the state level in the “War on Women”, signing 3 anti-abortion bills in his first year in office as governor in 2011, attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in the state budget (which was blocked by a judge who ruled they were being unfairly targeted),

    In 2012, Brownback signed the Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, which allows pharmacists to refuse to provide drugs for patients if they believe they are being used for abortions (which means anyone who decides birth control is murder can refuse the morning after pill to a rape victim, or what have you). Theoretically, a pharmacist could reject anything based on “belief”. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the party of “smaller government” at work.

    In April 2013, Brownback got carried away enough to sign a bill that declared that life begins at fertilization, but the law is still written to defer to the Supreme Court decisions that obviously contradict that.

    As of October 2013, lawsuits filed over the various anti-abortion measures Brownback’s leadership had pushed for had cost the state almost a million dollars (it’s now likely upwards of $1 million).

    Brownback equates his crusade against abortion to that of the not-at-all-similar debate against slavery.

    “I see it as the lead moral issue of our day, just like slavery was the lead moral issue 150 years ago.”

    Just in case you think that above quote is along the lines of “he misspoke”… well, you’d be wrong. He gave a 2014 speech that continued to compare the anti-abortion movement to abolitionists.

    Among the anti-abortion protests Brownback has championed include the “Summer of Mercy” 1991 and 2001 protests, where pro-life extremists from groups like Operation Rescue railed against abortion providers including Dr. George Tiller. Many attribute the rhetoric within those as having eventually led to Tiller being assassinated in his church by Scott Roeder in 2009. But after all this time, surely there’s no link between Brownback and extremists like that, right?

    Wrong. Brownback named the group’s lawyer to serve on the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. Meaning, he had the right to issue, or revoke licenses to medical doctors, physical therapists, and other health care workers.

  74. Right, because all “LGBT people” think alike. You’re a bigot, “Bob”.

  75. What Charlotte experiienced as a child is directly due to your bigotry.

  76. Jesus would never behave as you do. You don’t follow anything but your own ego.

  77. Religious fundamentalists like Brownback know a lot about persecution — persecuting others is their real belief and their actual vocation.

  78. no. but we are a voting block and are equal in the law. we push back from religion taking over our govt. we have standing in the courts. we should have been in that room standing up to theocrats and dominionists.

  79. Well, hang on, there may be a voting block freedom summit coming.

    You’re not demanding to be in the black caucuses in Congress by any chance, are you?

  80. Were any atheists there? What about their religious liberty? Brown back claimed religious liberty is “a right given by god”. Really, that applies to atheists. We all know who this goat F’king was put on for and it wasn’t for the non-religious.

  81. Freedom of conscience makes all groups equal under the law, religious or not.

  82. Been lots of articles in the news about survey’s showing church membership and attendance declining. Try reading. But of course it’s all “fake news” if it’s not the news you want to hear……………….isn’t it.

  83. No, but it’s a protected class under religious liberty, freedom of conscience and anti-discrimination laws because every religion likes to discriminate against everyone else.

  84. And christianista’s don’t engage in anti-atheist bashing?

  85. Atheism is the absence of belief in god(s). There is no reason (other than that it’s the rational stance) why an absence of belief need be any more or less protected as a world-view than the equally irrational beliefs that there is, or that there is not, anything that can be made to fit someone’s definition of “god”.

  86. As specific, in parallel, as “Sam Brownback [being] a sociopath … not capable of anything related to ‘tolerance’, ‘loving’ or ‘caring’ [as] demonstrated … clearly for years.”

  87. How would you know? In his case, we have years of documented malfeasance, and just plain fundamentalist crazy. .

  88. According to this atheist, David Hoelscher, however, in “New Atheism, Worse Than You Think”, CounterPunch, January 29, 2016:

    “In a move as useful as it was overdue (a few people have tried this, but to my knowledge none nearly as successfully), [Stephen LeDrew’s The Evolution of Atheism] demolishes one of the most widely held myths that atheists have about themselves, namely, the belief that atheism is simply a matter of not believing in any gods. Atheism is in fact ‘a complex term with an even more complex history’ and ‘cannot be reduced to one single all-encompassing definition.’ [CJ Werleman in The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists] remarks that ‘on its own,’ atheism ‘is a non-positive assertion.’ Unbelief, however, is rarely ‘on its own.’ As LeDrew points out, with the rise of evolutionary theory, atheism ‘moved from simple negation of religious beliefs to an affirmation of liberalism, scientific rationality, and the legitimacy of the institutions and methodology of modern science—and thus from religious criticism to a complete ideological system.’ Atheism, then, is ‘a form of belief—rather than a lack of belief—shaped by its socio-historical context’ and ‘inextricably bound up with’ a plethora of principles that emerged from the Enlightenment. … LeDrew … observes that through the promotion of its scientistic ideology, which includes the belief that ‘techno-scientific progress is equivalent to social and moral progress,’ New Atheism ‘legitimates the current neoliberal world order,’ while religion is made a ‘scapegoat’ for whatever problems society faces. … He suggests that, where issues of economics, foreign affairs, and gender are concerned, the atheist right, including the New Atheism, has far more in common with the Christian right than with humanistic atheism.”

  89. Your quote seems to be presenting (or to be trying to present) a view based on scholarship.

    The Enlightenment was a long time ago. What atheism meant then was complex.

    Now it’s simple. The absence of belief in god(s).

    Words are not static, they change meaning over time – I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that women are guys!

  90. Hee, hee! Yup, I enjoyed that one… really drove the point home. And knowing that you’re obsessed enough to keep hunting down my other posts makes me proud.

  91. It is probably worth pointing out to the folks who read Religion News Service to actually get news about religion, and perhaps discuss it, that there is a JoeMyGod contingent on board whose sole and only purpose is to carp at and ridicule religion and “religionists”.

    Yes, I am sure you are very proud – what it drove home is that you’re one of those mentioned on board.

  92. Atheism is a form of belief, spirited by non-belief. Our Lord Jesus Christ seemingly had His greatest disdain for the religious and religiosity? No wonder why we seem so confused and faithless? He is always welcoming and inviting and we are a nation founded by a people who wanted to worship Him freely. He not only died for the sins of this world, for the believer He has given us the victory over death itself, praise God. The flesh will always criticize and find fault, looking to man will always disappoint, but let them know we are Christians by our love, yes by our love let them know we are Christians..

  93. Sam Brownback is a little punk-ass bitch who tried to run Kansas into the ground, along with his chief henchman Kris Kobach who’s currently running for governor. I wish William Allen White would rise from his grave in Emporia and kick both of their motherf***ing asses…

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