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Opinion: Trump’s Warped Understanding of Religious Freedom Seeks To Traumatize and Overwhelm

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The week began with the biggest gun massacre by a single person in American history. Fifty-eight more families know the shock and trauma that goes with a loved one dying in a hail of bullets. Over five hundred people were injured, and join the thousands whose lives will never really be the same.

Tuesday was the day Mr. Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans, after telling them their suffering is nothing compared to Katrina. The next day in Las Vegas, teleprompter Don returned to remind us that the only thing more painful than watching Trump make a fool of himself, is watching him read words of empathy with all the emotion and sincerity of a rock.


The rest of the work week was dedicated to making good on promises (aside from naming Pence as his Vice President) Trump made to secure support from the “religious” right. It all began with the Sessions memo on religious freedom.

“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming.”

Objectively, this text wouldn’t be disturbing if written and interpreted by any other Attorney-General. It sounds reasonable, until you consider the racist, sexist, homophobic character of the Trump administration’s ideology. This version of “religious freedom” amounts to allowing discrimination and a complete obliteration of civil rights protections for the following categories of people: women, religious and racial minorities and the LGBT community provided the individual, group or corporation claims their “strongly held” religious beliefs.


The Sessions memo provides bigots with religious cover to deny services, employment, housing or healthcare to people they don’t like, under the pretense that such barbarity is sanctioned by God. It can also result in denial of treatment by doctors and denial of prescribed medication by pharmacists, under the pretense that this has anything to do with morality or religion.

This week’s psychological cluster bombing concluded with Trump’s latest sabotage of healthcare with his repeal of the birth-control mandate. In other words, employers will decide if woman will have access birth control which is also used to treat ovarian cysts and severe symptoms associated with periods. In free countries, these medical decisions are made by women and their doctors alone. It’s a nightmare scenario that bears strong resemblance to the conditions women are subjected to under ISIS.

None of this is surprising to anyone who knew who Donald Trump is. It doesn’t surprise anyone with even a passing understanding of the belief systems that Trump’s coalition of racists, theocrats and fascists represent.

The combination of drama, Orwellian policy, Trump’s latest comments and gestures are designed to shock, traumatize, overwhelm and envelope us in the darkness of authoritarianism.

Knowing and understanding it matters. Resisting it matters more.

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