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May 02, 2018

Atheism Comes to D.C. as Congressional Freethought Caucus Formed

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Well, it only took 216 years from the time Thomas Jefferson wrote his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association declaring that "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State," until four congressmen formed the Congressional Freethought Caucus this past Monday, April 30—and it's about damned time! In case anyone hasn't noticed, ever since President Grab-Her-By-The-Pussy was elected, sucking up to religion has become, well, almost a religion in D.C. Besides Trump promising before the election to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches from electioneering for or against candidates for office, and then issuing his Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, which says in part, "All executive departments and agencies shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech," religio-conservatives have infiltrated almost every (if not actually every) government department, bureaucracy and committee that has any power over citizens' daily lives. One major example of that was the creation this past January of a new "Conscience and Religious Freedom" division within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), whose main purpose, according to a Washington Post article at the time, appeared to be to "ease the way for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to opt out of providing services that violate their moral or religious beliefs," and "appears to be broad and aimed at protecting health-care workers who cite those reasons for refusing to take part in abortions, treat transgender patients or participate in other types of care." And let's not forget defunding any organization (like Planned Parenthood) which supports comprehensive sex education in schools—check out this astounding horseshit!—and the provision of cheap or free birth control pills for college students and other at-risk women's groups. The point is, it's about time that people who don't wear their (conservative) religious views on their sleeves have a voice in the national government, and that's apparently what the Freethought Caucus' founders, Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), and Dan Kildee (D-MI), are aiming to do. Specifically, their announcement about the formation of the caucus says it's "to promote sound public policy based on reason, science and moral values, protect the secular character of our government, and champion the value of freedom of thought worldwide"—and to say they've got their work cut out for them would be an incredible understatement. After all, at least half of the major cabinet departments including HHS, Department of Environmental Protection, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and dozens of others have either announced that they will no longer seek scientific evidence to back up their planned actions, or have failed to fill scientific advisory posts within their departments. Moreover, top government officials, up to and including the President, have stated words to the effect of, "Scientists don't know everything. We have to balance what they say with what we feel in our guts is the right thing to do." On the other hand, the stated goals of the Freethought Caucus are "1) to promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values; 2) to protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state; 3) to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and 4) to provide a forum for members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys." Not as strong as they could be, of course, but a good start nonetheless. And how might this affect the adult industry and sex workers in general? Well, it'd be nice if a little actual scientific knowledge (as opposed to the crap "science" one can find on websites like Fight the New Drug and National Center on Sexual Exploitation) could be brought to bear on such questions as whether legal prostitution is a societal benefit, whether any adult is actually harmed by seeing two or more people having sex, whether minors are actually harmed by running across porn sites in their web surfing, whether property values actually go down in the vicinity of adult video stores, moreso than in the vicinity of bars and nightclubs—the list goes on and on! And of course, the asshole brigade has already taken notice of the caucus: "Lest we think Congressional Democrats had gone quiet since Republicans were passing their agenda anyway, there are a few Congressional Democrats yearning to take the total depravity spotlight back," wrote Conservative Review vlogger Steve Deace. "To their credit, they know that the nerd prom, featuring progressive hyena Michelle Wolf—while an undeniably ghoulish attempt to brown-nose the demon world—is not the stuff of a permanent revolution. Democrats have been reduced to small ball, like hyperventilating over the latest leaks from the Mueller probe or turning ambulance-chasing lawyers whose names will be forgotten a year from now into cable news superstars. That simply won’t do when your goal is to burn American exceptionalism to the ground. Hell demands more. Time to think bigger. Time to kill God." Rest assured, there'll be plenty more of this to come, but for the moment, let's hope the Congressional Freethought Caucus can gain some foothold in the federal legislature—and that lots more Dems and Independents see the light and join up. And hey, We'll be they'd even accept Republicans!

 
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