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Bad religion

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Michael Flynn is getting a lot of publicity for saying the quiet parts loud, except it’s all loud parts for the GOP these days.

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, was widely condemned after calling for the establishment of “one religion” in the US.

Religious freedom is enshrined in the first amendment to the US constitution, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Regardless, at a rally staged in San Antonio on Saturday by the Christian “nonprofit news media network” American Faith, Flynn said: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God and one religion under God.”

In response, the Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, said: “These people hate the US constitution.”

Side point: Although I think it’s a good thing for Omar to make this sort of claim, there’s a certain amount of constitutional mythologizing that goes on in liberal-left circles in regard to America’s history of religious liberty: the first amendment didn’t even prohibit official state religions; it merely banned the creation of an official federal religion, which was a step in the right direction, but a very long way from anything we would recognize today as actual freedom of or from religion.

Back to our main attraction:

On Sunday, the veteran reporter Carl Bernstein told CNN that Flynn, as one of the “knaves and fools and dangerous authoritarian figures” with whom Trump surrounded himself in and out of office, was “saying out loud things that have never been said by an aide or close associates to the president of the United States”.

Bernstein added: “It should be no surprise to know that Michael Flynn is saying the kind of things that he is saying, but what’s most significant here is that much of the Republican party … something like 35% in in exit polls said they favour Trump because Christianity is being taken away from them.

“So Michael Flynn is not that far away from huge numbers of people in this country.”

Flynn is no stranger to controversy. Fired from a senior intelligence role by Barack Obama, he became a close aide to Trump before resigning as national security adviser after less than a month in the role, for lying to the FBI about contacts with Russians.

Flynn pleaded guilty to one criminal charge under Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow, a plea he sought to withdraw before receiving a pardon from Trump.

He has since emerged as an influential figure on the far right, linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory and appearing to advocate armed insurrection.

In San Antonio, Flynn called the indictment of another Trump ally, Steve Bannon, over the investigation of the Capitol attack, an “abuse of freedom of speech” – another first amendment freedom.

The Capitol was attacked on 6 January by Trump supporters seeking to overturn his election defeat. Flynn is himself the subject of a subpoena from the investigating House committee. On Friday, he told Fox News he had nothing to hide.

In Texas, Flynn called the House investigation “a crucifixion of our first amendment freedom to speak, freedom to peacefully assemble”.

His remarks about religion attracted support from a prominent contender in a vicious party fight for a Republican Senate nomination in Ohio.A

Josh Mandel, a former Ohio state treasurer, tweeted: “We stand with General Flynn.”

As part of his campaign to get elected to the Senate to represent America’s worst state, Mandel is trying to thread the needle of One of the Good Jews in the land of right wing Christian zealots, which historically speaking has been a pretty tough sell:

A Republican Senate candidate in Ohio is doubling down on a controversial campaign ad, insisting voters need to be aware of an important fact: that the frontrunner in the primary is Jewish.

Mark Pukita, an IT entrepreneur in the crowded GOP race, during a Thursday night candidate forum defended a campaign ad that questioned the faith of opponent Josh Mandel.

A moderator at the debate, held by the Ohio Press Network at North Columbus Baptist Church, asked for Pukita to respond to claims that he is “antisemitic and intentionally divisive and inflammatory.”

“In terms of antisemitism, all I did in an ad was pointed out that Josh is going around saying he’s got the Bible in one hand and the constitution in the other. But he’s Jewish,” Pukita said. “Everybody should know that though, right?”

RIght! I mean who could object to pointing something like that out? So much political correctness out there these days, oops I think it’s called cancel culture now.

I wonder what Bari Weiss thinks about all this? (Actually I don’t).

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