The Supreme Court has toppled the separation between Church and State, trampled on State’s Rights to enact common sense gun control, have given ICE agents free reign to terrorize citizens, have empowered police to violate the rights of citizens, and have chosen to enslave people through incarceration even if evidence exonerating a prisoner comes to light in just the last few months.
The conservative judges have chosen to legislate from the bench. Enough is enough.
REPUBLICANS have proven themselves the enemy of progress and the enemy of the people. They employ white, evangelical, Christian nationalism to hold power. This November, VOTE THEM ALL OUT!
They don’t care about you. Need proof? They stood in the way of the COVID relief for those in need during the pandemic. They stopped the Child Tax Credit which has significantly brought down childhood poverty. They have stood in the way of common sense gun control. They voted against initiatives to prevent price gouging at the gas pump by corrupt oil and gas companies. They voted against initiatives to relieve the baby formula shortage. They voted against expanded care for veterans. They voted against investigating the violence caused by white supremacists. They defund public education. They stand in the way of improved infrastructure for all.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Fresno County GOP, along with several other far right conservative organizations within Fresno County have released a hate filled divisive press release condemning the LGBTQIA+ community for existing in the public space.
As expected, these far right groups have portrayed themselves as victims while actively seeking to silence diverse communities and people in the public space.
As long as they think themselves the prioritized voices, they will continue to strike out at our diverse communities and silence their representation in local government. Perhaps all residents of Fresno County, and those who conduct business in Fresno County, should reach out and let the Fresno County GOP know their hate has no home here!
Those interested in letting them know how you feel:
Fresno County GOP Headquarters 770 E Shaw Ave, #220 Fresno, CA 93710 559-225-2566 email@example.com
Two hours going over issues of severe dysfunction resulted in a diagnosis that changes my entire treatment plan. Not only will the change in plan completely transform treatment, but the current mode of treatment has, in fact, made the issue much, much, worse.
The words “type 1” and “rapid cycling” were used. My disordered sleeping patterns marched in lockstep with what he’d come to expect. A number of other markers came to light, but the “oh!” he exclaimed came as the precursor to an explanation of severity for which neither us foresaw.
Towards the end of the assessment he asked how I was able to have a successful career in the Navy for 15 years, if I had been experiencing “all this?”
I sat for a while with his question. I rolled it around in my head, wondering at it. Instinctively, I wanted to say “because I had to.” That answer, however, was only a symptom of a greater wound.
I said, “sir, I am an expert at masking. I am deeply in tune with the unspoken language of others. It troubles me how accurate my assessment of a person’s current state, and the outside influences affecting that state, often are. I developed this skill from a young age, where I—a child—was responsible for the moods, actions, and reactions of the ‘adults’ in the home.”
I said, “my sperm-donor would fly into a fit of violent rage at anything that disturbed him. A noise unintentionally too loud, a distraction from the endless hours spent pretending to be the pilot he never became, or simply words he didn’t like would drive him to unpredictable violence. I spent a long time afraid for my life.”
“His attention” I continued “when it wasn’t violent was often cruel. He belittled us, shamed us, bullied us—and if we protested, violence would accompany cruelty.”
I told the doctor, “I had to learn how to read people for my safety, and for the safety of my younger siblings. I had to mask and not bring the adults my worries, my hurt, or my suffering. That was not what parents were for—it was the job of the child to carry the burdens of the adults—or so they had taught me.“
Finally I said, “this is why I am good at knowing how to provoke and draw attention to myself. It was the only tool I had to protect my siblings when the monster stirred to life. It is the reason I am quick to react when I see the defenseless being harmed by the dumb and powerful. It’s why I am quick to come to the aid of the defenseless because I can bear the hurt and the pain. I can give them opportunity to seek safety…
“…Honestly, it is what made me especially good at what I did in the Navy.”
The hymn found in Colossians 1:15-20 opens with: “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.”(Col. 1.15-16, NRSVUE, 2022). The claim, according to the hymn, is that the Jesus Christ attested to in the gospels is the embodiment of the Creator whom we have not seen with our own eyes (Jn. 6.46). Through Christ, the Creator is revealed–meaning, the only way to understand God is to first and foremost, look to Christ.
The hymn also asserts what is found in the Gospel of John:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (14.8-10).
John 14:8-10, NRSVUE
The words and the work of Jesus reveal to us the Creator–referred to in the text and by tradition as the “Father.” The hymn reveals the work of the Creator is made manifest through the Son by whom “all things in heaven and on earth. . .visible and invisible. . .have been created. . .” (Col. 1.15-16). For me, it is important to start here in my examination of the claims being made by the late Byzantine mosaic located in Istanbul, Jesus Christ Pantocrator (c. 1261).
As Dr. Amy Whisenand shared throughout her June 14, 2022 lecture, “Pantocrator” translates into “Almighty” or “All Powerful.” This title, by its nature, is therefore making the claim that Jesus Christ is the same as God the Creator. The first text in the Pentateuch–the first five books in the Bible and Torah–identifies God the Creator by the title, “Almighty.” Genesis 17.1 reads: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. . .'” Later instances of the usage of Almighty as a title for the Creator can be found in Genesis 28.3, 35.11, 48.3, 49.25, and at least 91 other times throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocryphal texts. The mosaic’s use of Almighty as a title for Jesus therefore asserts a claim in line with Trinitarian belief that Jesus is not only a member of the Godhead but shares a co-equality with the Creator.
The Trinity Iconography Institute confirms the Chironomia–the meaning of “. . .hand gestures in supporting oratory, or conveyance of unspoken meaning understood by the audience” (Trinity Iconographers)–as a blessing. The positioning of the hand creates the “IXIC,” or the initials of Christ, which appears to assert that the highest form of blessing comes from the person of Christ. After all, what greater blessing can one receive if not from the One through whom “. . .all things in heaven and on earth have been created” (Col. 1.15)? Additionally, the hand gesture not only conveys blessing, but it is also related to classical oration from ancient history indicating “the speaker is going to say something important, which can also be applicable to all icons of Jesus Christ and His saints” (Trinity Iconographers).
In my own journey, as I walked away from the cult in which I was raised and the modern American Evangelical lens of biblical interpretation, I flirted with Eastern Orthodoxy. I studied its traditions, attended their liturgies, and experienced their rich practices of faith and theological interpretations. I discovered icons–works of religious art depicting biblical and divine subjects–were viewed as windows into the divine realm. It is part of the reason religious Byzantine art might seem strange and disproportionate to our Western eyes. The icons are meant to draw us into the story they tell. From that perspective, I cannot help but notice the very ordinary humanness of Jesus in this image.
We have a declaration of Christ as equal with “God Almighty,” the Father and Creator, yet he is very human in his appearance. It brings to life the claim that “. . .He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1.18). The Almighty took on human form, walked not just among us, but with us. His emptying of himself and obedience “. . .even [unto] death on a cross” (Phil. 2.6-11) and his resurrection has made Christ the “mediator between God and humankind” (1 Tim. 2.5) and our high priest (Heb. 8.1-2). It seems that the humanity of Christ is crucial in the salvific act of God in order to reconcile God and humanity.
Christ’s humanity establishes him as the “firstborn” not just of the dead, but of all creation (Col. 1.15). Therefore, being both God (Jn. 1.1-2) and human (Jn. 1.14-18), and being that he is also the begotten Son of the Creator in whom the Creator was pleased (Matt. 3.17; 17.5; Mk. 9.7; Lk. 9.35), it stands to reason that the value–or worth–of Jesus, from whom the greatest blessings are given, supersedes that of all creation. Therefore, the obedience of Christ to the Creator by way of his life and death, confirmed through the resurrection, is what allows all of creation, “whether on earth or in heaven” (Col. 1.20) to be reconciled to God. In this way, when viewed through the hymn found in Colossians (Col. 1.15-20), Jesus Christ Pantocrator proclaims the salvific work of Jesus Christ for all creation and reveals to us the character of God.
On May 31st, we were given a demonstration as to why declaring June as Pride month is a necessary message that no matter how deep your pockets, how loud you get, or how old you are, you do not get to determine who does or does not belong in our beloved city of Kingsburg.
Immediately following a twenty minute public speech by the Constitutionalists for California that simultaneously substantiated the facts I brought to the council and misrepresented them, an associate among them declared the LGBTQIA+ community an “abomination.”
The far right organization acknowledged the increased violent victimization experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community, but then attributed that violence to “aliens, for all we know,” as if violent victimization only counts from sources they deem valid. The twelve murdered transgender Americans in 2022 were also substantiated, but 12 dead transgender Americans is deemed by them to be low enough to be acceptable—much in the same way that 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school is deemed acceptable. Pro-life, am I right? Their factually deficient organization asserted life saving care isn’t life saving if it is merely preventing the suicide of American youths struggling to fit in a world where they are told time and again they are “abominations.”
Twenty minutes they stood here an opined on the audacity of one resident standing up and saying ‘here’s a problem and here’s a symbolic gesture that would make a world of difference to a marginalized segment of our community.’ They all but said, ‘because we showed up last year and were loud and intimidating, we win. Case closed.’ If that was the case, the segregation era they enjoyed as children would be present in America today.
White supremacy is more than wearing a white hood, burning a cross, and saying the n-word. It is gathering with a hate group (with whom they would partner with again that same holiday season) and an angry mob to enforce their narrow and bigoted views on the whole of our community. Literal, fascism. Not hyperbole. Fascism.
At some point change is inevitable, and while I wish I had twenty minutes to breakdown the fallacies of their arguments or school them in the 1946 introduction of the word “homosexual” to the Bible and its 1971 retraction by the same translating body, I don’t have the time, and this isn’t the place.
Neither is this about a flag. T-Mobile took care of that already. This is about sending a clear message that we don’t view our residents as abominations regardless of gender, orientation, identity, race, religion, or creed. It is simply, not acceptable.
And as long as we fly the Swedish flag outside City Hall, uplifting one cultural influence into the spotlight over others, the argument that we don’t shine a spotlight on some and not others is a lie at best—a malicious oppressive lie at worst.
And as for any that suggests we ought ‘accept the answer no’ in calling to the attention of the public the humanity of the dehumanized, “woe to you, O Pharisees and scribes.”
Finally, what took them four people and twenty minutes, I have now done in less than five. Do not let those who would associate openly with a Southern Poverty Law designated hate group be our voice. Please, for the good and confidence of our whole community, consider declaring June Pride month in the City of Kingsburg.
On June 1, 2022, the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States, Mennonite Church USA, affirms the LGBTQIA+ community as equal members in the body of Christ. The church body acknowledges the harm they’ve caused by denying an entire community of people their identity, and they are lifting their ban on same-sex marriage. The denomination also vowed to be inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community in its theology moving forward.
This weekend 31 members from “at least 11 states, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia, and Arkansas…” and only “…one from Idaho” (Bellisle) associated with the white supremacist organization Patriot Front were arrested and charged with “criminal conspiracy to riot” (Pietsch). The “little army” (White), bedazzled in matching military stylized outfits depicting stars and stripes, Patriot Front insignias, and shirts with typical fascist slogans such as “Reclaim America,” loaded up into a U-Haul truck outside of a hotel with plans to riot at a PRIDE event in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Security had been augmented when authorities were made aware of increased threats against the event and its participants, but it was a tip from an eyewitness who saw the gravy seals loading into a U-Haul outside a nearby hotel that ultimately foiled the plan for mass violence.
Right-Wing Extremist violence is steadily rising across America (O’Harrow, Ba Tran, Hawkins). The right-wing extremist groups, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, in partnership with the disgraced former president Donald Trump, for example, led the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 (January 6 Committee) after the national embarrassment failed to get re-elected.
The country is slowly crawling towards progress, and as a result, conservative values–which lean toward anti-diversity, exploitative practices and policies, white nationalist philosophies, etc.–are falling by the wayside.
Extreme conservatism is dying, and its death throes are being expressed through lies and violence. As the lies lose the power to hold the masses in check, violence increases. A cursory glance at the Civil Rights Movement in history provides a clear example of this–which plays a role in why conservatives and the GOP are actively putting forth anti-Critical Race Theory propaganda.
Not only is this outburst entirely inappropriate for a sitting city councilmember in California’s fifth largest city, but it is entirely false and illustrates the far-right conservative tendency to lie, cheat, and steal when they don’t get their way. No one was attacking Christianity.
Prayer, for the record, is not the sole practice or intellectual property of right-wing conservative Christian nationalism. Prayer has been participated in by a variety of cultures, religions, and people throughout history. Written sources record prayer as far back as 5000 years ago.
Not only is Bredefeld incredibly mistaken, but his message attempts to divide the community into us (straight Christian nationalists with a priority for old world western European ideals) vs. them (everyone else) camps. The “us” camp often self-identifies as flag waving patriots–a dog whistle and moniker for white nationalists. While some might object to the fact that “patriot” has become a moniker for oppression, bigotry, and fascism, I simply point to the hyper nationalism common in hate groups and right-wing extremist organizations such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Patriot Front, Ku Klux Klan, Save California, Act for America, Mass Resistance, Occidental Dissent, and many more.
Now, more than ever, events and programs promoting diversity, inclusivity, and positive community building are crucial! Events such as PRIDE help to breakdown negative stereotypes, ignorance, fear, and reveal the humanity inside all of us. (Why do you think many of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents wanted to keep society segregated?)
Power is shifting away from those who have excluded members of our communities across the country. Their system is failing, and as their death rattles grow, so will their lies and acts of violence.
Only we, American citizens, can put an end to the madness gripping this nation. Only by voting out illiterate knuckle draggers like Bedefeld from local, state, and federal government, and replacing them with leaders who can build up and unite our country, can we ensure changes for the good of the entire community. By coming together and refusing to allow bigotry a place at the table, we can reduce the strength and violence of the far right.