By Andrew Chung (Reuters) - Fresh off an election in which former President Donald Trump made false claims of fraud, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to ponder the legality of a restriction on early voting in Arizona that his fellow Republicans argued was needed to combat fraud. The Republican-backed law, spurred in part by a video purportedly showing voter fraud that courts later deemed misleading, made it a crime to provide another person's completed early ballot to election officials, with the exception of family members or caregivers. Community activists sometimes engage in ballot collecti...
According to another report from Florida Politics' Christine Jordan Sexton, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo was harshly criticized by Florida State Senate leader Wilton Simpson -- a Republican -- for putting the life of an immunocompromised Democratic state senator at risk by refusing to wear a mask when meeting with her.
On Saturday, Jordan Sexton reported that Ladapo and two aides refused to wear masks when meeting with Sen. Tina Polsky (D) even after she told them she is just starting radiation treatment for breast cancer. During the meeting, Ladapo made light of the situation before finally leaving as instructed.
Now, according to Jordan Sexton, Simpson has stepped into the controversy and upbraided Ladapo for his actions.
"Simpson sent a memo to all members and Senate staff calling the incident 'disappointing' and said that' it shouldn't take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other's level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic," she wrote.
He continued, "What occurred in Senator Polksy's office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate. While there is no mask mandate in the Senate, Senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own offices. If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave."
Jordan Sexton noted that Simpson seemed to hint that Ladapo's nomination to be the new Florida surgeon general -- still to be voted upon -- now may be in jeopardy.
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In an extensive piece in the Atlantic, former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner explained that some evangelical leaders are picking through the wreckage of their congregations that were torn apart by the influence of former president Donald Trump.
Wehner, a highly vocal Christian, has been no friend of Trump and is worried that the Christian faith has been damaged by the embrace of the one-term president by high-profile evangelical leaders which, in turn, has left some congregations in tatters as Trump supporters drag his politics into the daily church dealings.
Case in point, he notes, is a battle at a Virginia church where congregants were influenced by Trump's toxic rhetoric.
"The election of the elders of an evangelical church is usually an uncontroversial, even unifying event. But this summer, at an influential megachurch in Northern Virginia, something went badly wrong. A trio of elders didn't receive 75 percent of the vote, the threshold necessary to be installed," he reported before pointing out that "... church members had been misled, having been told, among other things, that the three individuals nominated to be elders would advocate selling the church building to Muslims, who would convert it into a mosque."
According to Wehner, David Platt, the 43-year-old minister at McLean Bible Church had already been facing accusations " ... by a small but zealous group within his church of 'wokeness' and being 'left of center,' of pushing a "social justice" agenda and promoting critical race theory, and of attempting to 'purge conservative members.'"
As Wehner explains, what happened at McLean Bible Church is not an isolated event.
"What happened at McLean Bible Church is happening all over the evangelical world. Influential figures such as the theologian Russell Moore and the Bible teacher Beth Moore felt compelled to leave the Southern Baptist Convention; both were targeted by right-wing elements within the SBC," he explained. "The root of the discord lies in the fact that many Christians have embraced the worst aspects of our culture and our politics. When the Christian faith is politicized, churches become repositories not of grace but of grievances, places where tribal identities are reinforced, where fears are nurtured, and where aggression and nastiness are sacralized. The result is not only wounding the nation; it's having a devastating impact on the Christian faith."
Speaking with Wehner, historian George Marsden explained that "political loyalties can sometimes be so strong that they create a religious like faith that overrides or even transforms a more traditional religious faith," the author recalled.
"When Trump was able to add open hatred and resentments to the political-religious stance of 'true believers,' it crossed a line. Tribal instincts seem to have become overwhelming," Marsden explained before adding that Trump's Christian followers, "have come to see a gospel of hatreds, resentments, vilifications, put-downs, and insults as expressions of their Christianity, for which they too should be willing to fight."
"For many Christians, their politics has become more of an identity marker than their faith. They might insist that they are interpreting their politics through the prism of scripture, with the former subordinate to the latter, but in fact scripture and biblical ethics are often distorted to fit their politics," Wehner wrote adding, "The former president normalized a form of discourse that made the once-shocking seem routine. Russell Moore laments the 'pugilism of the Trump era, in which anything short of cruelty is seen as weakness.' The problem facing the evangelical church, then, is not just that it has failed to inculcate adherents with its values—it's that when it has succeeded in doing so, those values have not always been biblical."
You can read more here.
In a column for the Daily Beast, journalist Wajahat Ali suggested that Republicans will go to extraordinary lengths to disrupt President Joe Biden's agenda in the near future even if it means the deaths of thousands of Americans -- including children.
As his "Exhibit A" he offers off up the recent actions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) who, he claims, has already shown that he cares little about the safety of his constituents as long as he raises his profile by battling with the Biden administration.
Calling the Republican Party "death cultists" over their opposition to Biden and CDC health mandates aimed at eliminating the spread of Covid-19, Ali pointed to DeSantis attempting to put up roadblocks to hamper health officials.
"Florida's Ron DeSantis gave us a sneak preview of how Republican leaders will challenge the Biden Administration's proposed mandate that would require private sector employers with 100 or more employees to either vaccinate their staff or impose weekly COVID tests," the Beast columnist wrote before adding, "DeSantis called for a special session of the state legislature, which will cost Florida taxpayers $1 million, to oppose the federal mandate and punish businesses with vaccine mandates, recommending they be held liable if a worker has an 'adverse reaction.' He also said these businesses will no longer qualify for COVID-19 liability protection."
Following up on his "sneak preview" theme, Ali continued, "This madness is just a sneak preview of the all-out obstruction by the GOP and its base once the FDA approves vaccines for children ages 5 to 12," before writing, "As I've written before, we cannot win over a pro-death cult. I'm tired of bending the knee to violent, ideological extremists and being hijacked by their white rage, economic anxiety, delusional conspiracy theories, and perpetual sense of victimhood. Their selfish actions are jeopardizing our children's lives during an ongoing pandemic."
He then suggested a plan to battle the GOP "death cult."
"If it's litigation GOP wants, then two can play at that game. Businesses and school districts need to fight back in court to protect their rights from Republican intimidation and overreach," he proposed before adding, "[Attorney General Merrick] Garland needs to unleash The Department of Justice and consider criminal investigations if Republican anti-mask and anti-vaccine policies have misrepresented information in a way that actively led to deaths across the nation. Prosecutorial authorities at the federal, state and local levels should be encouraged to hold elected individuals accountable."
Turning back to DeSantis, he concluded, "In Florida, all you have to do is follow the facts. It will take you to the graveyard where you'll find 58,000 tombstones—and counting."
You can read more here.
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