Trump only aghast when others question his religious views

Donald Trump:

“I have many friends that live in Salt Lake,” Trump said, adding: “By the way, Mitt Romney is not one of them.”

“Are you sure he’s a Mormon?” Trump asked the crowd. “Are we sure?”

Donald Trump when the Pope somewhat-sorta-maybe noted that he might not have Christian values:

For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.

Of course Trump isn’t a leader so I guess it’s ok for him to question another man’s faith.

Jerry Falwell Jr makes a funny

So, the Pope said this:

“A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they are, and not in building bridges, is not Christian,” said Francis, who grew up in Argentina and is the first pope from Latin America.

Trump, of course, insulted him but that’s not news. But this is:

Jerry Falwell Jr., a well-known evangelical leader who has endorsed Trump, also responded by saying the pope was out of line.

“Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country,” he told CNN.

First, he contradicts himself immediately (since he has endorsed Trump) and second he’s the son of Jerry Falwell who was one of the most political religious leaders in history.  Given this, I assume Falwell meant this as a joke. It’s actually pretty funny.

Marco Rubio doesn’t like unity

So, President Obama went to a mosque yesterday:

“If we’re serious about freedom of religion — and I’m talking to my fellow Christians who are the majority in this country — we have to understand that an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths,” he said.

Although Obama never mentioned Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the targets of his remarks were clear. “We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate bigotry,” Obama said.

Now he does hit the Republicans who have been pushing against Muslims, so let’s see what Marco Rubio says:

Rubio accused Obama of pitting Americans against one another “along ethnic lines and racial lines and economic lines and religious lines.” His comments were part of a meandering response to a question about what his management style would be like as president.

“I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done,” Rubio said. “Always pitting people against each other. Always.”

“Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque,” Rubio continued. “Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam. And by the way, radical Islam poses a threat to Muslims themselves.”

The main part of Obama’s speech was about how Muslims are part of America and have been since its founding. It was mostly a typical unity speech, which Rubio finds divisive. Here is some of that divisive rhetoric:

 

and:

We’ve got to make sure that hate crimes are punished, and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld.  And just as faith leaders, including Muslims, must speak out when Christians are persecuted around the world or when anti-Semitism is on the rise — because the fact is, is that there are Christians who are targeted now in the Middle East, despite having been there for centuries, and there are Jews who’ve lived in places like France for centuries who now feel obliged to leave because they feel themselves under assault –sometimes by Muslims.  We have to be consistent in condemning hateful rhetoric and violence against everyone. And that includes against Muslims here in the United States of America.

and:

If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States:  You fit in here — right here.  You’re right where you belong.  You’re part of America, too.  You’re not Muslim or American.  You’re Muslim and American.

Oh, and Marco:

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans and mosques across the United States have tripled in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., with dozens occurring within just a month, according to new data.
The spike includes assaults on hijab-wearing students; arsons and vandalism at mosques; and shootings and death threats at Islamic-owned businesses, an analysis by a California State University research group has found.

Cruz craziness

Ted Cruz’s crazy preacher father is campaigning for him in Iowa, so let’s hear what he has to say:

The next day, at the Marion church, Cruz, dressed in a blue suit, railed against the abolition of prayer and Bible reading in schools as the cause of skyrocketing teen pregnancy, dropout rates, and vandalism. Now, he said, “homosexual marriage” is the latest “frontal attack on religious liberty.”

“The devil overplayed his hand because this decision has acted as a catalyst to awaken the sleeping giant,” Cruz said, his voice booming through the church. He never mentioned his son’s name.

Hmm, let’s see: teen pregnancy is at record lows:

The preliminary birth rate for teenagers in 2014 was 24.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19–down nine percent from 2013 and a whopping 61 percent from the most recent peak in 1991.

high school graduation rates are at record highs:

For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday. Achievement gaps have narrowed, too, with graduation rates ranging from 89 percent for students classified as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 62.6 percent for English-language learners.

Violence is decreasing, but I’m too lazy to see about vandalism so I’ll leave that alone.

So Rafael Cruz is completely wrong, but the reporter here doesn’t think it’s noteworthy to say that what he said was completely wrong. I see why people might not realize that he’s completely wrong.

Planned Parenthood

Republicans say we need to bring Planned Parenthood to court to prosecute them for what they’ve done. Oh wait, it’s already happening? Well, now we’ll see all the terrible things they’ve done:

Officials in 11 states have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing after investigating claims that they profited from fetal tissue donation, officials said, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington.

Officials in eight other states declined to investigate citing a lack of any evidence, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Oh. Well, now there’s a grand jury investigation in Texas and they’ll surely find something:

A grand jury investigating allegations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood after the release of covertly shot videos about the use of fetal tissue from abortions has instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who made the videos, authorities said Monday.

David Daleiden, 26, director of the Irvine-based non-profit Center for Medical Progress, was indicted by the grand jury on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement.

An employee at the center, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.

Oops. I wonder if this will change the minds of the Republicans:

“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement late Monday.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton agreed.

Silly me, of course not.

 

Stay there

Ben Carson went to visit Syrian refugees in Jordan:

After meeting with refugees at a camp in Jordan, Carson, 64, told CNN that “their true desire is to be resettled in Syria.”

“But they are satisfied to be in the refugee camps if the refugee camps are adequately funded. Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities that are really quite nice. And there (are) all kind of things that make life more tolerable,” he added.

Speaking from Jordan, told ABC’s “This Week” program: “We’re hearing that they all want to come here to the United States, and that’s not what they want. They want to go back home.”

In the ABC interview, Carson called for increased U.S. aid for regional refugee efforts such as those in Jordan.

“I believe that the right policy is to support the refugee program that is in place, that works extremely well but does not have adequate funding,” Carson said. “If you do that, you solve that problem without exposing the American people to a population that could be infiltrated with terrorists who want to destroy us.”

Of course they want to go home, but there’s a bit of a problem–Syria’s in the midst of a civil war involving at least three sides. What about that?

Carson said that Islamic State should be defeated quickly and criticized the current U.S. strategy as “piecemeal.”

“I think we need to work in close conjunction with our Department of Defense, with our Pentagon, with our experts. Ask them what do you need in order to accomplish this? And then, let’s make a decision,” he told NBC.

Carson went over to Jordan because he is perceived, rightly, as being very weak on foreign policy. Somehow I don’t think announcements like this will help. He has no idea of what defeating ISIS involves and he seems to have no idea that the refugees might want to go home but know they can’t right now. They also might be satisfied with being in a refugee camp, but they don’t want to live there long term–Carson might have noticed that more than a million have tried to make their way into Europe. Or maybe he hasn’t noticed.

The Good Samaritan

I’m not religious (being agnostic and all) but I went to Sunday School when I was a kid and so have heard the Parable of the Good Samaritan (go here for the passage):

25 Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind;(Deuteronomy 6:5) and your neighbor as yourself.”(Leviticus 19:18)
28 He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31  By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32  In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33  But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, 34  came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ 36  Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”
37 He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
A bit of background: Samaritans and Jews came from the same religious background but had split and now didn’t like each other much. So if you replace the injured man with someone from your group and the Samaritan with someone from a group that you don’t get along with, you get the idea of what Jesus what saying. Martin Luther King Jr. looks at this here in a fairly famous way here (in his I’ve been to the mountaintop speech in Memphis):

One day a man came to Jesus and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base.  Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from midair and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho.  And he talked about a certain man who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side; they didn’t stop to help him. Finally, a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying this was the good man, this was the great man because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now, you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that one who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony. And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association.  That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road.  I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho.  And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road.  It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about twelve hundred miles, or rather, twelve hundred feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about twenty-two feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road.  In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around.  Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking , and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight.

Now let’s see what Republicans are saying about Syrian refugees (from here, here, and here):

More than half the nation’s governors say they oppose letting Syrian refugees into their states, although the final say on this contentious immigration issue will fall to the federal government.

States protesting the admission of refugees range from Alabama and Georgia, to Texas and Arizona, to Michigan and Illinois, to Maine and New Hampshire. Among these 31 states, all but one have Republican governors.

“We cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion,” (Speaker of the House) Ryan said Tuesday after meeting with House Republicans. “This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”

Most of the Republican presidential candidates have called for the program (a program to bring in refugees) to be suspended, though Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wants to make exceptions for Christians.

Breaking from the pack, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush shifted his approach Tuesday and said the U.S. should not do away with its “noble tradition” of helping refugees.

In a letter to Ryan, Ben Carson — the retired neurosurgeon and a Republican front-runner — called for Congress to block funding for any programs “that seek to resettle refugees and/or migrants from Syria into the United States, effective immediately.”

“Until we can sort out the bad guys we must not be foolish,” Carson said in a news conference in Nevada.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee similarly heaped pressure on Ryan, saying in a statement: “Speaker Ryan needs to make it clear that if the President won’t stand to protect America from wholesale open borders, then Republicans will.”

“If Ryan will not lead and reject the importation of those fleeing the Middle East without assurances that we can separate refugees from terrorists, then Speaker Ryan needs to step down today and let someone else lead,” Huckabee said.

In addition, Govs. John Kasich and Bobby Jindal of Ohio and Louisiana, respectively, said they would work to keep refugees out of their states.

All of these men claim to be Christians (hell, Huckabee is a minister), which means they all know about the Good Samaritan and what they are supposed to do if they want to go to heaven. It turns out they are all the Priest or Levite in the story (if you look at King’s interpretation you can see that’s exactly what they are) and, according to Jesus, not good neighbors.

Now, as I said above, I’m not a Christian and so I want the people to be screened before they’re accepted into the US, which is already being done–the process takes 18-24 months, but I want the US to help these people even if they end up in my neighborhood. I guess I’m just more of a Christian than all those Republicans.

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