Last night, I was searching through some racist Christian Identity book titles as part of a response to a comment by an employee of Artisan Publishers, a company listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. In the process, I came across another Oklahoma-based publishing group, Truth in History. Truth in History has some of the same Christian Identity books available as Artisan Publishers, but its overall focus seems to be on the need for the South to rise again, or something like that.

Truth in History is part of Kingdom Treasure Ministries, which unsurprisingly is also listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have it as a Neo-Confederate organization out of Owasso.

Things came full circle when I looked up a Christian Identity book sold by Artisan titled Joseph’s Birthright and Modern America. Turns out, the publisher is Truth in History. Kingdom Treasures Ministry is actually pretty open about their racism and belief that Israel is actually all of the white true Christians in the United States.

I came across a full pdf of Joseph’s Birthright and Modern America from another Christian Identity group online. It is pretty terrible stuff, full of talk about “the Jew” and coming to the conclusion that god’s chosen people are white Christians.

I grew up in small town Oklahoma, and I heard references to the racism that existed in mine and the communities around me, but I can honestly say I was never exposed to this kind of stuff. Most people aren’t. It does exist here, though. Fortunately, it seems to be a pretty small world where members share the same books back and forth and nobody outside of their insular groups has ever heard much about their actual beliefs.

In what is probably the most unsurprising story all week, the Oklahoma ACLU told Darla Sheldon over at The City Sentinel that they plan on suing to remove the ten commandments monument at the state capital.

You remember the one that was erected less than a year ago and the company that built it had to fix the spelling that none of the genius cheerleaders for this thing noticed until after it was erected.

The transgender name change case is also mentioned in Sheldon’s article. Long-time readers of this blog will recall that Oklahoma judge Bill Graves refused to grant a woman her routine name change after a male-to-female sex change operation on the grounds that identifying as a woman when you have the DNA of a man is fraud. Graves was overturned on appeal, but for some reason this is still being fought in the courts.

The ten commandments and the transgender name change case broke very close to one another, and back when I covered them I noticed something that nobody else has written about. The ACLU being involved isn’t the only thing these two cases have in common.

In the ten commandments case, Mike Ritze and his family are the financial backers and donors of the monument to the capital. It says so right there at the bottom. Ritze is one of the people who embarrassingly erected a misspelled monument on the steps of the Oklahoma capital. He’s also the current Oklahoma House of Representatives member for District 80.

Ritze turns up in the transgender case when Judge Graves cites him as an authority on DNA in his decision to deny the name change. As bad as this state is politically, it is still a pretty small world in Oklahoma politics. If you’re stupid enough to waste your money erecting a monument with the wrong spelling that will inevitably be removed for violation of church and state, you are also probably friends with someone who is stupid enough to think that getting your name changed after a sex change operation counts as fraud.

And again, the guy who is stupid enough to deny a transgender woman her name change is also probably friends with the likes of Sally Kern, from whom he bought his house. They all run in packs, folks.

(H/T to Red Dirt Report)

Correction note: This article has been changed to correct Bill Graves’ first name.

Part of the MAPS 3 Project is to provide senior citizen wellness centers around the city. Yay. Seems like to a good use of my one cent sales tax.

As good as it is, some concerns have arisen since the city started taking bids for who will build and maintain the facilities. The Putnam City Baptist Church has put in a bid for the tax money to build one of these centers. As the Gazette article points out, this raises all kinds of legal red flags.

1. The Wellness Center would be located on church property. This alone makes it inherently unwelcoming to large segments of the community.

2. The bid has the same hiring practices as the church, making it not conform to the equal opportunity employment standards.

3. It would hold Bible studies at taxpayer funded site located on a church’s property. You can’t tell me sectarian proselytizing won’t occur.

4. Is a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conference really going to be welcoming to gay, lesbian, transgender, atheist, Muslim, etc. employees and volunteers?

The City has announced that it intends to negotiate with the church to get its bid in line with any legal concerns. The church gave a bid that was prima facie a violation of the separation of church and state. That was a signal of its intentions, and should have been rejected outright. That the city is negotiating to find a way to get a wellness center on church property is a signal of the city’s willingness to entangle itself with a sectarian group. This needs to stop.

I seriously doubt that the city will be successful in negotiating a set of guidelines that will pass legal muster, anyway. The Gazette article talks about the bid being based on Arkansas’ wellness center structures. Those wellness centers apparently meet the state and federal standards there. But Arkansas isn’t Oklahoma. Arkansas has separation of church and state guidelines written into its constitution, but they are not any more strict than the federal separation guidelines. In fact, there are several state provisions on religion that don’t meed the federal standard. For example, it is still part of the Arkansas Constitution that atheists can’t hold public office. If anyone ever tried to enforce this restriction, it would be struck down in federal courts.

Oklahoma has much stricter standards for separation of church and state than Arkansas or even the federal government. Oklahoma bans even an indirect financial use of taxpayer money by a sectarian religious institution. This is why school vouchers have never been able to get off the ground in Oklahoma. The strictness of Oklahoma’s separation of church and state guidelines has actually led to the introduction of several (so far) failed attempts to get it on the referendum ballot for repeal. The fact that the city would be giving taxpayer money to a church to build a facility on property owned by that church would seem to clearly violate that prohibition.

If Oklahoma City wants to avoid costly litigation that it will ultimately lose, it should turn down any bids for taxpayer money to fund senior wellness centers on the property of Putnam City Baptist Church or any other religious organization.

(H/T to OCAU)

 

A crew filming a documentary called Scientology-Cult of Confusion was in Oklahoma yesterday interviewing former Scientologists and Narconon attendees.

One of the three filmmakers, Colin Henderson, is from Oklahoma and attended the Oklahoma Narconon facility in 2007. He left early when they tried to take way his blood pressure medication and began telling him about reincarnation and thetans (two Scientology doctrines). Apparently, they pissed off the wrong Christian redneck, because ever since Henderson has been on a one-man crusade against the Oklahoma facility. He played a role in lobbying to get the Narconon Arrowhead facility reinstated as a facility that had the receive certification under the State Mental Health Board, but that doesn’t seem to be enough.

They are traveling all over the US on a two-week race to get interviews they are calling the Suppressa Palooza Tour. This is a clear reference to the term “suppressive persons” or SPs that Scientology labels people they don’t want members associating with. If you are a Scientologist, and someone in your family is labeled a SP, you are to cut all ties with them and have no contact. It is just one of the many terrible practices they documentary will highlight.

(H/T to Secular Okie)

A reaction to my boycott post

Posted: August 5, 2020 in Uncategorized

Another Oklahoma blogger, Damion over at Background Probability, has responded to my Friday post in favor of boycotts. He argues for boycotting Chick-Fil-A as well, but for reasons different than mine. Give him a read.

I don’t usually pick blog fights. Most of the time, I’m content to take pot shots at conspiracy theorists and Bigfoot hunters without arguing with those I like enough to keep in my feed. That said, I’m breaking that rule for once in response to a post by Secular Okie titled Boycotts - The Original Slactivist Hideout.

The reasons are that:

1. She can take it.

2. I know her personally. She knows it is coming from a place of respect.

3. I think everyone should be reading her blog, and this gives me an excuse to link to it. She has interesting things to say, even if she’s wrong about this.

Anyway, the blogger over at Secular Okie (let’s call her “Brenda”) has a post up going after boycotts as ineffective, unethical and lazy.

The first argument, that boycotts are ineffective, is an empirical question; one that Brenda should have taken the time to actually look into. It turns out that boycotts can be very effective. For example, a 2005 study of Australian consumer boycotts of French products not only changed French policies, but continued to lead to financial costs even after the policies changed. That said, from a game theory perspective consumer boycotts should usually fail. After reviewing the available literature online, it appears that consumer boycotts based on environmental concerns are usually ineffective, but I did find lists of boycotts that were effective in getting companies to change actions in other areas. Also, boycott announcements do impact stock prices.

Brenda argues that boycotts that are targeted at getting the government to institute a policy can be effective, and she points out apartheid in South Africa as an example of how boycotts impacted international policy and led to a change there. She thinks that boycotts aimed at a company without any call for government intervention are not effective. With the anniversary of all of the Chick-Fil-A hubbub last year, that’s the context we are talking about. I don’t think anyone boycotting Chick-Fil-A actually expects to change the minds of the bigoted owners. Brenda seems to be assuming that the intent of my withoholding money from Chick-Fil-A is to get the owners to change their minds. That’s mistaken.

I don’t give my money to Chick-Fil-A because they are owned by bigoted assholes. It is my money. I work hard for it, and I should be able to dispose of it as I see fit within reasonable limitations. What I get back for my boycott of Chick-Fil-A is a sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that my money isn’t going to fund political campaigns to prevent gay marriage.

Brenda argues that boycotts like this are only effective against those who hold minority opinions, but that’s only true if my intent is to get the company or the owners of the company to change their actions. If my intent is to deprive the owners of my money, I’ve been successful. Whether the owner’s views are in the minority or majority doesn’t matter. For what its worth, the owners of Chick-Fil-A aren’t in the majority nationally, and won’t even be in the majority in Oklahoma by the end of the decade.

Because Brenda is someone who does hold a minority viewpoint (she’s an atheist), and she’s a small business owner, she is keenly concerned about the negative impact of boycotts on those like herself. She appeals to protecting minority viewpoints as a social good to justify opposition to boycotts. This argument is pretty vacuous. She’s right that we as a society recognize the need to protect minority viewpoints legally. It is why we have things like the First Amendment, but it seems to me that to extend the same protections our nation legally affords to (for example) the members of the Westboro Baptist Church into the private sphere is unjustified. There are degrees of reasonableness and unreasonableness, and it is up to private citizens to debate amongst themselves where they draw the line on what they feel comfortable paying for. I’d never give money to a company owned by the WBC voluntarily. I think Brenda would probably feel the same way. The question then becomes where we draw the line. I draw the line with the owners of Chick-Fil-A. Brenda is letting her fear of her neighbors unethically boycotting her because she doesn’t believe in their religious views cloud her willingness to acknowledge the ethical right of someone to withhold personal funds from someone who is being genuinely immoral.

Brenda makes a better argument when she appeals to the well-being of the employees of these firms and the negative impact that boycotts have on the entry-level workers. My best response is to point out that low-paying hourly jobs like those at Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A are not hard to find. Walmart is always hiring, and Oklahoma eats more fast food per capita than any other state.

Brenda can’t have it both ways here. She starts by arguing that boycotts are ineffective, and then she goes on to argue that they can hurt firms like Hobby Lobby enough to affect hourly employees. She also thinks its weird that Chick-Fil-A franchise owners are being punished for the actions of the owners of the company. (Hobby Lobby doesn’t have any franchises, btw.) The only problem with this is that you basically don’t get your hands on a Chick-Fil-A franchise unless you buy into the particular religious views of the owners. Forbes has even covered this fact.

Brenda ends here piece with a call to arms for all would-be boycotters. Instead of being lazy and not going to Chick-Fil-A, do go, and then donate the same amount to Pride. I have a better option. Visit a restaurant that welcomes everyone equally (like Grandad’s) and donate the same amount to Pride. Let the bigots keep the chicken place open.

 

The Associated Press has a story out saying that most of the big-name Democrats in Oklahoma are deciding not to run for office in 2014.

The consensus seems to be that as long as Barack Obama is in office, no Democrats can win a statewide election in Oklahoma. His unpopularity in the state is rubbing off on anyone running in his party.

As the article points out, Oklahoma actually has more registered Democrats than Republicans. People just don’t vote how they are registered here in federal and statewide elections.

The Dems do see blood in the water with State Superintendent Janet Baressi, and there are candidates running against her from both sides of the aisle. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary Fallin hung her out to dry considering how badly she’s screwed up since her first day in office. The screw up with the testing servers, and how she’s sided with the company publicly blaming the teachers for something they had no control over, was probably the last nail in that coffin. Hopefully, the state can get someone even half way competent.