By Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy
One of the most foundational aspects of being American is the freedom to exercise your religious beliefs, to worship who and how you choose. It is to live and work according to your faith, free from being forced to choose between your faith and your livelihood.
Our Founding Fathers fled religious persecution and experienced the heavy hand of governmental coercion in the most sacred area of life. Because of that, they enshrined into the U.S. Constitution an American’s right to, not only believe, but to exercise those beliefs. Further, they protected us from the government establishing a particular religion or belief.
Nearly 230 years after those protections were knit into the fabric of our country through the Bill of Rights, opponents are doing their best to unravel them. Daily, I witness in America a new level of hostility toward people of faith.
Two recent examples played out at the Capitol this week.
1) HB 2648 clarifies that houses of worship and religious organizations are essential, and should be treated as other essential businesses, especially during a public crisis like the pandemic.
Here is a sample of the responses from those opposed:
“HB 2648 is a radical piece of legislation that would let religious organizations off the hook for almost any violation of any law at any time. Under HB 2648, religious organizations could claim immunity from criminal prosecution for the abuse of children that occurs in connection with religious activities or rituals. It could also result in a patient losing the right to sue a religious hospital for medically negligent or reckless care that was provided based on the hospital’s religious beliefs. HB 2648 would also allow corporations that claim a religious purpose to evade important worker protection, not comply with non- discrimination laws, deny their employees’ critical healthcare, and evade important civil and criminal laws that protect the public from fraud, abuse, and discrimination.” -Arizona ACLU
“HB2648 gives extreme legal immunity to religious groups … This “Trojan horse” bill supposedly protects religious institutions from discrimination. But … the bill’s wild definition of “discrimination” and excessively broad language create loopholes in which religious entities can ignore any law they don’t like. And it gives them the power to sue you if you try to seek justice.” – Secular Coalition of Arizona
“The bill allows organizations under the guise of religion, to abuse children and deny abuse victims their day in court.”-Senator Martin Quezada
“Some religions justify beating women, or marrying multiple wives, or marrying elderly men to children… or allow prostitution, or the surgical removal of body parts.” – Dianne Post, The National Organization of Women (NOW)
“Stop Christian nationalism! Our first freedom is not religious liberty. It’s freedom of not having tyrants legislate religious supremacy, making slaves of the sovereign people, who cannot debate God’s law and plan.” – Request To Speak (RTS) entry
I assure you, HB 2648 allows for none of this. It safeguards conduct protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. It doesn’t give religious organizations immunity from harming someone any more than the Free Exercise Clause does. Everyone must comply with state laws, even when they are exercising their religion – as long as the law applies to everyone, generally, and does not target religion. This bill simply codifies into state law recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings to ensure Arizona houses of worship are not discriminated against or treated differently than other businesses and organizations during a state of emergency.
Senator J.D. Mesnard called out the hyperbole during a committee hearing, saying,
“It doesn’t allow all these “host of horribles” that [churches] can just do whatever … I guess you can go out and commit mass murder on the basis of religious belief and they’re going to suggest that that is protected? That’s ludicrous.”
HB 2648 did pass out of the Senate Government Committee with a 5-3 vote.
2) HB 2575 allows clergy to visit dying patients in the hospital, even during a health crisis like the pandemic.
Here is a sample of the responses from those opposed:
“It privileges religious people over non-religious people, and excludes atheists.” – Tory Roberg, Secular Coalition of Arizona
“It echoes language used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ+ people & other protected groups under the guise of religious liberty! OPPOSE!” – RTS entry
“Discrimination disguised as religious liberty should not continue.” – RTS entry
“Don’t give clergy privileges during a pandemic. Gods do not protect people from contagion.” – RTS entry
Again, I can assure you, the retorts are completely unfounded, even aimless. This bill has nothing to do with sexual orientation or gender identity. Still, that seems to be the battle cry for every issue supporting religious freedom.
HB 2575 did pass out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with a 5-2 vote.
The hostile response to simple bills that protect basic religious exercise should awaken us to the real dangers of losing what we hold dear. A recent op-ed speaks with disgust about those of faith, and calls our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, “Christian Nationalists.”
We see it, too, on a national level, in the Equality Act, in President Biden’s Executive Order redefining human sexuality, and so much more. But lately, as evidenced above, the hostility to religion is no longer couched in covert rhetoric. It’s overt, unapologetic, and aimed at gutting the centuries old foundation of the free exercise of religion.
But we won’t make it easy for them. Standing in defense of our cherished First Amendment freedoms is a top priority at CAP. Both bills move on, and we will keep you posted on their progress. You can follow all CAP-supported bills on our BILL TRACKER.
In honor of religious freedom, we chose to release part one of a two-part series podcast discussing how bringing together the shepherds of the church and the shepherds of the government can change lives and communities. Click on the picture below to listen:
A new video shot at the Southwest U.S. border shows hundreds of people wanting in line to be ferried across the U.S. border as the migration crisis ramps up, overwhelming agents and maxing out detention facilities.
The video, reportedly shot in Southeast Texas by Breitbart Texas’ Border and Cartel Chronicles Team as part of their “Tripwires and Triggers” project, shows the massive crowd of people standing in a queue on the Mexican side of a riverbank, waiting for their turn to cross into the U.S. Moments later, the video shows a small inflatable raft crammed full of primarily women and children being ferried to the other side by a masked man with a pole. The group is then dropped off on the reedy bank and left to scramble up the sandy side of the river on their own as the man with the mask attempts to hold it steady.
While a few women are wearing small backpacks, many aren’t carrying anything at all except for small children, and few are wearing masks.
Perhaps most disturbingly, the group appears completely undeterred by the people filming them openly crossing into a country illegally in broad daylight. A voice, presumably that of a border agent, can be heard welcoming the group and directing them which way to head to be taken in for processing.
The masked man, unhindered, then heads back across the river for the next group.
The video shows just one tiny slice of what’s become a massive immigration crisis at the Southwest U.S. border, as record numbers of illegal aliens, including unaccompanied children, have begun crossing in droves following President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The surge has overwhelmed border facilities, which have been instructed by the administration to reopen at pre-COVID capacity levels to accommodate the influx. Temporarily facilities to deal with the wave of unaccompanied minors have ben reopened in Texas with plans for more to reopen in the coming months, even as illegal aliens are being processed and released into the country by the thousands to avoid overflowing the holding cells.
See the video here.
Former President Donald Trump’s position against allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports has drawn wide-scale support in the latest poll from Politico and Morning Consult.
The poll asked registered voters if they would support or oppose a ban on transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.
- 53% of all voters support a ban, 32% oppose.
- 59% of men support a ban, 29% oppose
- 46% of women support a ban, 34% oppose
- 74% of Republicans support a ban, 15% oppose
- 40% of Democrats support a ban, 42% oppose
- 49% of independents support a ban, 33% oppose
- 43% of Generation Z support a ban, 44% oppose
- 56% of Millennials support a ban, 28% oppose
- 50% of Baby Boomers support a ban, 32% oppose
Trump said in his address at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference that women’s sports will “die” if transgender athletes are allowed to compete.
“Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing policies that would destroy women sports,” Trump said, apparently referring to the Equality Act that recently passed the House.
“A lot of new records are being broken in women’s sports — hate to say that ladies — but got a lot of new records that are being shattered,” he added.
“Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males. It’s not good for women. it’s not good for women’s sports which worked for so long and so hard to get to where they are.”
“What coach, as an example, wants to recruit a young woman to compete if her record can easily be broken by somebody who was born a man?” Trump asked. “If this does not change, women’s sports as we know it will die.”
Other conservatives who have also criticized the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s sports include former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who accused Biden in an opinion piece last month of “paving the way for a federal mandate that all schools receiving federal funding let biological men play on women’s sports teams,” in the National Review.
“This is the wedge issue that will bring suburban women back to the polls and increase their support for Republicans, and Republicans would be foolish not to lean into it,” Penny Nance, the president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America, told Politico.
“I hear from mothers all the time who are getting up at the crack of dawn to take their daughters to swim practice or attending all-weekend track meets, and they do not want biological men competing on their daughters’ teams. They know that it would be detrimental to their daughters’ abilities to achieve scholarships and recognition,” she added.
U.S. Senate Democrats rejected an amendment to the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says now paves the way for illegal immigrants to receive $1,400 stimulus rebates.
“There are 12mm or more illegal immigrants,” Cruz tweeted on Sunday. “60% of them are from visa overstays. Many (if not most) of them have social security numbers. Under the bill’s language, MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS will get the $1400 checks.”
According to the text of the Cruz amendment, “any alien who is not lawfully present” would be ineligible for direct stimulus payments or checks.
Democrats voted against the amendment on Saturday 50-49. The final bill, the American Rescue Plan, passed later in the day.
Under previous coronavirus stimulus bills, some non-citizens residing in the U.S. illegally had received stimulus payments because they had filed tax returns using Social Security numbers. In November, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitted foreign nationals were receiving stimulus payments while residing overseas.
Cruz criticized Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin for claiming “illegal immigrants don’t have social security numbers.”
Cruz said Durbin was “deliberately saying something false, knowing it would be repeated.”
Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy proposed an amendment to prevent inmates from receiving stimulus rebates, but Democrats voted against it.
“EVERY Dem voted to send criminals the $$,” Cruz tweeted.
A former candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives, District 17, Liz Harris, shows citizens how to be an effective activist and get results. Starting in December, she managed to call to action over 800 bi-partisan, unpaid volunteers throughout the state with her It Smells Funny website form where she asks people to volunteer their time to help with election integrity research. “It was truly a grassroots effort,” said Harris.
During a Dec. 29 interview with HUB radio Phoenix, Harris explained how she decided to “take a look at a list of people over the age of ninety” from the state of Arizona to verify whether they voted. While her initial list was a small one, she found that about one-third of those on the list were indeed deceased. She then requested a bigger list.
Initially, she found that while there were deceased voters who had “voted,” it wasn’t a large enough number to make a difference. However, as she looked through the list, she noticed that “one out of five people didn’t exist in Arizona or the National Database couldn’t even find a record of them.” She then asked mathematician and investment advisor, Bobby Piton, to review the list. According to Harris, he found “irregularities and abnormalities in [the] voter rolls that were just stunning.” He found about 120,000 to 306,000 “fake people” on the rolls.
One of the most important findings was that “from 1998 until today, Arizona’s population has grown by approximately 44%, yet the voter rolls increased by 200%.” Harris and her volunteers went door-to-door looking at all the people who had “suspect names, addresses that are suspect… a laundry list of irregularities” sourced from the random sample that Bobby Piton pulled together for the volunteers to use in their efforts. He estimated he found “between 160,000 to 460,000 illegal ballots.”
Among other things, Piton’s findings report that the volunteers knocked on over 1400 doors and “touched” about 700 people. Harris then collected, indexed, and notarized all the affidavits and put them in huge binders.
Harris conducted forty-minute training meetings every day at 7:00, 11:00, and 7:00 via Zoom, setting each volunteer up with an app that targeted households to canvass. She is careful to emphasize that the people whose homes they knocked on did nothing wrong. It is a “systematic issue,” she explained.
The respondents were given a declaration to fill out—or a neighbor completes it if the house is abandoned. The affidavits are sent to volunteers at the end of the day and then filed and indexed. As of the end of December, she and her volunteers had collected “well over 1500 affidavits.” She explained that there were more than 1400 doors because some of the affidavits came from places like apartment complexes where a leasing manager confirmed names of people who had never lived there.
Colleges and Universities were also able to confirm those who “had never attended the school.” For example, at Grand Canyon University, the volunteers found many 80 and 90- year-olds who were registered to vote there but, in fact, were not in attendance.
They found that voting out of P.O. Boxes and commercial addresses was a “rampant problem” there. Other places canvassed were; “vacant lots, hotels, county buildings, apartment complexes with no corresponding apartment number, abandoned properties, non-existent addresses, homes for elderly, churches, sports arenas, homeless shelters, native American reservations with addresses that were listed as “dummy 1,2,3.” Homeless shelters and churches can be valid addresses for registered voters but not in the numbers found.
The categories denoted were; “fabricated address, not at this address, deceased, out of state voter, non-U.S. citizens, convicted felons, double voters”—to name just a few.
Election Integrity Fight in Arizona
The Arizona State Senate has been fighting for weeks to get the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to turn over voting machines and ballots from the November election. The Senate issued subpoenas, all of which were ignored. Arizona voters have jammed the phone lines demanding a forensic audit because many believe the election was stolen. Arizona State Senate President and Arizona Republican Party Chair, Kelli Ward, have been fighting for a fair, objective forensic audit of the vote. On Monday, Republicans who control the Senate fell one vote short of holding in contempt the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for failing to surrender the ballots and machines. Republican Sen. Paul Boyer broke ranks and voted with the Democrats.
In her interview with Steve Bannon on Feb. 4, Harris lays out what she thinks should happen next.
- Gain access to the original 2.1 million ballots that are currently locked up, including but not limited to early ballots, election day ballots, and provisional ballots.
- Deep dive into election log files, election settings, accounts and tokens, windows servers and desktops, Dominion Voting Systems Equipment, Dominion Network, access to logins for the Dominion records, election systems and software, and all voter rolls.
Harris says that Arizona is the perfect place to look at ballots because it is one of the few that still has intact ballots. She says this is not a partisan issue. “Let’s get to the bottom of how voter fraud actually works from A-Z…The Arizona State Senate needs to be united.” Everyone needs to jump on board and agree to a deep dive. “We have to be united and say election integrity is important…there is no voter suppression here. We want every vote to count, and we want to make sure there are no shenanigans.”
*For more information on how to actively participate in holding your elected officials accountable, local initiatives and election integrity, please see some of the following suggestions:
A sheriff from the border region of Arizona says that President Joe Biden’s immigration policies have essentially ”built roads for the cartels,” according to The Washington Times.
“We just built roads for the cartels,” Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told the Times.
He went on to say that Biden’s order halting work on the border wall has created gaps in security, which Dannels said allows for smugglers to bring people into the country.
”One area that’s wide open right now, we’re getting five to six groups a day,” he said. ”It’s almost worse than it was before. We just built them infrastructure.”
Dannels added that most residents in his county have given him positive feedback about the wall, ”with the majority saying it works — it really works.”
Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar told Fox News on Tuesday that “the numbers have been increasing, the number of unaccompanied kids, the number of families that are coming in are just increasing every day. In my district, just a couple of days ago, 166 people [crossed the] border. … So it’s not a crisis yet, but it’s going to get there very soon.”
You cannot make this stuff up!
The Arizona Department of Education reportedly created an “equity toolkit” that includes an infographic that shows how racism develops in children as young as three-months old, and recommended readings that suggest that white people are “ignorant, color-blind, and racist,” Discovery Institute scholar Christopher Rufo reported.
The toolkit shows a spectrum of children from birth to ages over six, with the title “They’re not too young to talk about race!” It cites a study that shows at birth, “babies look equally at faces of all races. At 3 months, babies look more at faces that match the race of their caregivers.”
SCOOP: The Arizona Department of Education has created an “equity” toolkit claiming that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and that white children “remain strongly biased in favor of whiteness” by age five.
Let’s review the resources in the toolkit. ???? pic.twitter.com/g4Sk6X0VuO
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 2, 2021
By 30 months old, children use race to choose playmates, and at ages 4 and 5, “expressions of racial prejudice often peak.”
“By five, Black and Latinx children in research settings show no preference toward their own groups compared to Whites; White children at this age remain strongly biased in favor of whiteness,” the graphic says, citing a 2008 study.
The document encourages adults to talk to children about race instead of letting children “draw their own conclusions based on what they see.”
Specifically, white parents are urged to address “anti-racism” with their children before they can even speak, or their children will learn racism “from the world around them,” a document entitled “How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race” explains. Parents are encouraged to demonstrate “anti-racist” attitudes with children within months of their birth.
The Department of Education recommends a reading that claims babies are not “colorblind” and that parents must instill “antiracist attitudes and actions” beginning at birth, in order for their children to not “absorb bias from the world around them.” pic.twitter.com/6WsfMTKJMx
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 2, 2021
Another recommended reading, entitled “What White Children Need to Know About Race,” says white students can “change racism” by “seeing themselves in a larger radicalized context” that precludes them from experiencing disadvantages that people of color face, Rufo reported.
Another recommended reading claims that “all white people are white in the context of a society that continues to disadvantage people of color based on race.” The document teaches schools how to “change what it means to be white” and inculcate an “antiracist white identity.” pic.twitter.com/7Whc717K5q
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 2, 2021
The document also cites a book by Beverly Daniel Tatum that says there are “only three ways to be white: ignorant, color-blind, and racist.” Because these options may prevent people from wanting to identify as white, there need to be an “antiracist white identity.”
An additional recommended reading claims that white people use terms like “the race card, black-on-black crime, reverse racism, and colorblindness” to “alleviate some of their white fragility.”
“These are made-up terms that some white people use to feel better about themselves,” the article, entitled “You Can Have A Black Friend, Partner, Or Child And Still Be Racist,” says.
The Department provides additional resources for “families & community,” telling white parents that they “can have a black friend, partner, or child and still be racist.” The article claims that white people deny their own racism to “alleviate some of their white fragility.” pic.twitter.com/eCa6SSXx3x
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 2, 2021
The article claims that relations with colored people do not “give you a one-way ticket out of Racism Town” and that unless white people are changing their racist behaviors, they are proving that “white people cannot stand not to be at the center of every single conversation, policy, and action.”
The Arizona Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
Numerous public schools across the country have reportedly offered trainings with similar “antiracist” messaging, often requiring students or teachers to participate, Rufo has previously reported.
In February, whistleblower documents revealed Buffalo Public Schools in New York reportedly required its kindergarten students to participate in a lesson on “racist police and state-sanctioned violence” which involved showing images of black children who have died.
In the district’s middle school, students are reportedly taught that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism” and “white elites” play an outsized role in perpetuating racism, making them especially important to hold accountable.
At R.I. Meyerholz Elementary School, part of the Cupertino Union School District in San Jose, Calif., third-grade students were reportedly told to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities in order to understand “power and privilege.” At Cherokee Middle School, which is part of the Springfield Public Schools in Missouri, teachers were told to identify themselves on an “oppression spectrum,” and then watched a video of “George Floyd’s last words.”
During Friday’s confirmation hearing for Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland proved that he’s the last survivor of the Civil War AND he’s obviously a graduate of the Joycelyn Elders “School of Cluelessness.” The Media Research Center completely exposes him in the above video. Furthermore, it’s obvious that Biden and Garland are incompetent marionettes who are easily managed by the Deep Staters behind the scenes running this pathetic administration. Despite Garland’s dreadful appearance before the Senate committee, left-stream media frauds like the Huffington Post strain credibility by suggesting that Mr. Clueless Garland put Republican senators to shame. Unbelievable!