PHILADELPHIA — Three of the teens accused of shooting five young football players, killing one, outside Roxborough High School in September are expected to be charged with murder in connection with another fatal shooting the day before, police said Friday. Troy Fletcher, 15, and Zyhied Jones, 17, will face new murder charges in the killing of 19-year-old Tahmir Jones in North Philadelphia on Sept. 26, said Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore. Police also expect to charge Dayron Burney-Thorne, 16, who is wanted in the Roxborough case but remains a fugitive, with an additional murder charge ...
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'Anathema to the soul of our nation': Donald Trump pilloried for his demand to cancel the Constitution
The White House on Saturday afternoon responded to former President Donald Trump's demand for the "termination" of the United States Constitution over non-existent "fraud and deception" in American elections, which he continues to claim cost him the presidency in 2020 and that he is expecting Republicans to embrace in his 2024 reelection campaign.
Trump wrote on his struggling fake Twitter app Truth Social:
ELECTION INTERFERENCE AT A LEVEL NEVER SEEN BEFORE!!!
So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great 'Founders' did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!
He went on to add:
UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!
I wonder what Mitch McConnell, the RINOS, and all of the weak Republicans who couldn’t get the Presidential Election of 2020 approved and out of the way fast enough, are thinking now?
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the elections of 2022, or 2020, or any other major historical contest, let alone that which was pervasive enough to affect the results. And the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next – which Trump has attempted to upend through his lies and ultimately by mounting an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 – is a key tenet that holds the American democratic experiment intact.
White House Deputy Press Secretary and Senior Communications Adviser for Strategic Response Andrew Bates touched on those points in a statement:
The American Constitution is a sacrosanct document that for over 200 years has guaranteed that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country. The Constitution brings the American people together – regardless of party – and elected leaders swear to uphold it. It's the ultimate monument to all of the Americans who have given their lives to defeat self-serving despots that abused their powers and trampled on constitutional rights. Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned. You cannot love America only when you win.
The Democratic National Committee also fired back at Trump, as reported by Politico:
Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes in 2020 and his calls to undermine our democracy cost his party key races in 2022. The continued silence by Republican leaders, including his potential primary competitors, shows a MAGA party that is beholden to Trumpism, his divisive rhetoric, and his extreme positions.
Democratic lawmakers denounced Trump as well.
Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia tweeted:
Days after Trump dined with men who praise Hitler and the Nazis, he demands the ‘termination’ of the Constitution’s electoral process so he can be illegally reinstated. Trump’s words and actions are unacceptable, they stoke hatred and political violence, and they are dangerous. Every Member of Congress swore an oath to 'defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.' Donald Trump has openly declared himself an enemy of the Constitution, and Republicans must repudiate him.
Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz said:
Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution and it is the final straw for zero republicans, especially the ones who call themselves ‘constitutional conservatives.
New York Representative Richie Torres noted that "January 6 was Donald Trump’s attempt at terminating the US Constitution. He’s a repeat offender."
California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who regularly faces death threats, stated that "every congressional reporter should demand responses from Congressional Republicans about Donald Trump’s call for the Constitution to be terminated … how many of them called themselves 'Constitutional conservatives' during the Obama years???"
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said that "Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 results. Georgia VOTE. You stood tall against Trump and his minions last time. A win for [incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael] Warnock is another win for democracy."
While outrage over Trump's "truth" was not exclusive to the left, few on the right have stepped up to rebuke Trump. One exception, however, was ex-United Nations Ambassador and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who posted that "no American conservative can agree with Donald Trump's call to suspend the Constitution because of the results of the 2020 election. And all real conservatives must oppose his 2024 campaign for president."
According to a report from the Daily Beast's Will Sommer, the former headmaster of a Baton Rouge private school dedicated to providing a "classical Christian education" is scrambling to explain the racist posts he made under a pseudonym that led to his firing just after Thanksgiving.
At issue for self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Thomas Achord is a Twitter account he created under the name Tulius Aadland that was laden with racist and sexist comments.
With Sommer writing that Achord was seen as a "rising star" in the Christian nationalist movement, he added that star has plummeted to Earth since the Twitter revelation.
"Achord lived a clandestine second life on Twitter, under the vaguely ancient-sounding name 'Tulius Aadland,'" he wrote. "There, he called a Black member of Congress a 'negress' and Black teenagers 'chimps.' Achord opined about his desires for a 'race realist white nationalism.' He complained that the middle school-aged stars of a Netflix movie simply weren’t hot enough for him. He expounded on his ideas about 'Jewish satanism' and argued Jewish people were tricking the United States into “'Jew wars.'"
Those revelations in turn led to his ouster at Sequitur Classical Academy and Achord admitting that he was the owner of the account. However he is putting up a fight saying he may have owned the account, but he doesn't remember writing the ugly tweets.
"Achord insisted there were contradictions between himself and the 'Tulius' person that he couldn’t reconcile. For example, while he wrote on the Tulius account that he would never go to a Mexican restaurant, his Mexican mother had made him food as a child," Sommer wrote.
"Achord’s secret Twitter account has occasioned much agonizing in the world of Christian nationalism, as his ideological compatriots publicly struggle to understand how one of their own could harbor such racist views. One called him a 'stowaway' within Christian nationalism, smuggling racism into their beliefs," the Beast report states before adding, "What’s come to be called 'the Achord affair' among right-wing intellectuals comes as Christian nationalists—who believe that America is a divinely favored nature nation that should be governed according to conservative Christian principles—are increasingly open about their goals in American politics."
You can read more here.
Hundreds of Texas Methodist churches vote to split from denomination after years of infighting over gay marriage and abortion
“We are a broken body,” Presiding Bishop James G.Nunn, said as he explained to his hundreds of congregants how the communion bread represented both the broken body of Jesus Christ but also the tension within the faith. “But it teaches us that the breaking is not the end.”
Nunn continued, calling the accompanying communion juice “cups of forgiveness.” He prayed for the congregation’s mercy and forgiveness toward one another.
“Even in the best of circumstances, there are feelings that are hurt, and sometimes, relationships are rendered in two,” Nunn said.
The Northwest Texas Conference includes 200 churches from far West Texas up through the Panhandle. The Lubbock gathering included 145 of those churches — about a third of the 439 Texas churches that finalized their departure from the denomination on Saturday. The split, organized by more conservative church members, comes after years of infighting that stems from the UMC’s more inclusive stances when it comes to congregants and its acceptance of gay marriage and other divides that mirror, and are likely to intensify, America’s broader, ongoing polarization. The measure in Lubbock passed by a vote of 261-24.
Hundreds more are expected to similarly depart in the coming months after getting final approval from church leaders and join the Global Methodist Church, which would follow the same beliefs more conservatively. The UMC has four regional bodies in Texas, two of which met on Saturday: the one in Lubbock and another and the Texas Annual Conference in Houston.
There, in the nation’s fourth-largest city, 1,245 members voted to approve the disaffiliation, with 3% voting to oppose the split and another 4% abstaining. Nearly half of the UMC congregations in East Texas — 294 churches — voted to leave the denomination.
The fight within the denomination occurs as the UMC has expanded into more conservative areas of the world. And it comes amid a national reckoning in broader, American Christianity over similar questions about inclusivity and doctrinal alignment that have intensified
“It parallels this moment in the broader world,” said Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe, senior pastor at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Houston, which is remaining in the UMC. “It's a hard time to bring people together. We really reflect the brokenness of the culture and the world.”
In Lubbock, the Northwest Texas Annual Conference greenlit the exits of nearly 75% of the region’s congregations. According to the conference workbook, it is anticipated the northwest division will cease to exist.
Archie Echols, a retired deputy minister who has been part of the conference for 75 years, was the only person to speak before the vote to disaffiliate. He referenced a scripture that instructs them to prepare a way for God, and closing the church to gay members goes against that.
“I think there’s a whole mass of God’s children,” Echols said. “And I feel, instead of preparing a way with that mass of people, who happen to be gay, we’re making a block that doesn’t let them in. May we open up the table and not cause people to be left out.”
When they asked church members to raise their hands in favor of disaffiliation, dozens of arms flew up.
In response to the vote, St. John’s United Methodist Church in Lubbock released a statement saying they will continue being part of UMC and advocate for church policy changes at local and denominational levels.
“We will continue to work at being an affirming and inclusive community for all,” the church said in a statement.
Many of the Texas congregations say they’ll join a new, more conservative breakaway denomination, the Global Methodist Church, that was created earlier this year.
The mass exodus in Texas significantly exacerbates ongoing issues for the UMC: Since 2019, when UMC delegates approved initial disaffiliation plans, more than 1,300 of the UMC’s 30,500 American churches have voted to leave, and the denomination is now bracing for massive spending cuts and 30-year budget lows, the denomination’s news service reported earlier this year.
The split is likely to further religious and political partisanship as United Methodists — who make up a huge portion of more moderate, mainline Christianity — lose influence, said Ryan Burge, an Eastern Illinois University professor of religion and political science who has for years studied the decline and polarization of American religious life.
Burge noted that mainline Christian denominations have for decades been hemorrhaging members and power as younger generations become increasingly nonreligious. He said the new, breakaway denomination is much more likely to align with strands of conservative evangelicalism that are already the dominant force in American religion and Republican Party politics.
“It’s going to accelerate religious polarization because the mainline is going to be even more marginalized, and they were always the moderates,” Burge said. “We are losing the middle tranche. They have always been the counterpoint to evangelicals.”
UMC fight history
The UMC debates date back to the 1970s, a few years after the 1968 merger of the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren Church that created the denomination. As the sexual revolution and other progressive social movements of the 1960s continued to flourish in more liberal parts of the country, the UMC attempted to reconcile its ranks’ divergent views on gay rights and other issues.
At the UMC’s 1972 meeting, Don Hand, a San Antonio lawyer and Methodist layman sought what he thought was a compromise on the issue: An amendment to the faith group’s doctrinal stances that said all people were created equal by God, but that homosexuality was nonetheless “incompatible” with Christian beliefs. “We do not condone the practice of homosexuality, and consider this practice incompatible with Christian doctrine,” Hand, wrote at the time.
That 16-word addition, known as the “incompatibility clause,” has only grown more contentious in the 50 years since, as Americans — including many Methodists — increasingly accept same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the denomination has increasingly expanded globally, giving more power to voting blocs from conservative countries. And, after the United States legalized same-sex marriage, American ministers were forced to decide whether they’d condone gay marriage.
Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe, the pastor of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Houston, said that he is sad to see so many churches depart from the UMC, but that he is hopeful for a future.
“In the very short term, it hurts,” he said. “We’ve fought a lot, and not talked about what it means to love our neighbors or what this seemingly endless fight does to our witness. And I am hopeful that, moving forward, we are able to do more interesting things that make the church look a little more like the Kingdom of God.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/12/03/texas-united-methodist-church-split/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.