The day started innocently enough. I thought I might research how the Department of Health and Human Services’ new directive on “religious freedom” might impact health care in the United States. The news sources that covered the directive reported something similar to this from Mother Jones:
Health care providers can refuse to provide medical care, including contraception, abortion, and procedures for transgender patients, that violates their religious or moral beliefs, according to regulations published by the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday. President Donald Trump announced the finalized “conscience protection” rules during remarks for the National Day of Prayer, saying, “Together, we are building a culture that cherishes the dignity and worth of human life.”
The rules specifically mention abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide as services that health care providers can opt out of performing for religious reasons.
While this regulation was not extensively covered by national media, most that did cover it gave some space to those who opposed the ruling. Here is Think Progress quoting Louise Melling who is deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union:
Once again, this Administration shows itself to be determined to use religious liberty to harm communities it deems less worthy of equal treatment under the law. This rule threatens to prevent people from accessing critical medical care and may endanger people’s lives. Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it doesn’t include the right to discriminate or harm others. Denying patients health care is not religious liberty. Discriminating against patients based on their gender or gender expression is not religious liberty. Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care.
Trump announced the ruling at yesterday’s National Day of Prayer celebration.
Trump takes credit for everyone saying “Merry Christmas”
The day before National Prayer Day (Wednesday), the president attended an interfaith banquet and praised himself for saving Christmas. From Huffington Post:
Now everyone’s very proud to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. There was a time when we went shopping and you wouldn’t see ‘Merry Christmas’ on the stores, you’d see a red wall and it wouldn’t say that, it would say ‘Happy Holidays’ or something, but it wouldn’t say ’Merry Christmas.’ We’re back to saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again in this country and that’s something I consider a great achievement because it really spells out what’s happening.
Another “great achievement” from our president although I will admit that I have not heard "Merry Christmas" from anyone recently.
Trump’s a prophet. Who knew?
Apparently, Trump's attendance at yesterday's National Day of Prayer featured some interesting speakers. Heather Timmons at Quartz focused on one in particular: mega-church preacher Paula White-Cain. (Timmons says that White-Cain is sometimes called “Trump’s personal pastor.”):
[Timmons] first declared the White House “to be Holy Ground,” and appeared to equate Trump with Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophet who answered a call from God and spent the remainder of his life preaching through Israel. . . .
Referencing a psalm about the prophet, but appearing to also refer to Trump, White-Cain went on, “You ordained all of his days before one of them ever came into being, so not one day takes you by surprise.”
“We are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities, wickedness and darkness, so we declare every demonic network to be scattered right now,” White-Cain said. “We declare right now that there is a hedge of protection over our president, first lady, every assignment, the purpose they carry and the mantle.”
Let Trump “fulfill all the will of the Lord and do the assignment God has carried him to do for Your great name, Your great nation and for all Your people in the world,” she closed, adding “And everybody say ‘Amen!'” to applause.
Applause? I find this adulation from some of those in attendance scary on a couple of levels: that people believed her and clapped, and that our narcissist-in-chief probably ate it up like a Big Mac. But White-Cain is probably not the exception -- a quick look around the Web gets you lots of true believers. For example, here’s former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachman a couple of weeks ago:
"[Trump] is highly biblical, and I would say to your listeners, we will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetime. So we need to be not only praying for him, we need to support him, in my opinion, in every possible way that we can."
Yeah, Bachman didn’t last long in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, but she did have supporters. How about this tweet from Trump’s campaign rally in Green Bay last Saturday:
It should be noted that Brad Parscale is not just another evangelical true-believer – he’s Trump’s 2020 campaign manager.
On a certain level, I find all of this scary and I’m having difficulty simply writing-off these followers as just a small portion of Trump’s base. Yes, I need to wrap this up and move on. Now, if only I could quit whistling that old Three Dog Night song about a bullfrog that seems to have gotten stuck in my mind.