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Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver caused a social media storm Monday, closing a public prayer with “Amen and a woman,” as if the Hebrew word meaning “let it be” was somehow gendered. Cleaver, of course, later claimed the embarrassing episode was actually “a lighthearted pun” in recognition of women, a description that might draw water on paper, but which the video clearly shows is not the case.

But there’s far more than simple ignorance on display in the Democrat and Methodist pastor’s blessing of the new year’s legislative session. The prayer’s true scandal was largely ignored — and is indicative of a widespread societal shift toward a serious and dangerous misunderstanding of both Christianity and tolerance.

Cleaver opened his blessing in perfect line with Christian faith, acknowledging God’s “sacred supremacy,” the fallen nature of man, and the dangers to our tenuous democracy, as well as asking for God to illuminate our ideologies and prejudices so that we might work to better ourselves. But at the closing (and before the “a woman” foolishness) Cleaver said, “We ask this in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and God known by many names and faiths.”

While many in the United States, especially in politics and the media, might think that a Christian pastor praying to Brahma (the god Hindus worship as the founding god of their polytheistic religion) is well and fine, this is no minor scandal. The First — First — Commandment given Moses by the Lord is “I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me… for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”

There’s more. When a Pharisee trying to ensnare Christ asked him “which commandment in the law is the greatest,” Christ cited the First Commandment, replying, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”

So what? While it would certainly be nice for our elected representatives, and especially the pastors in their number, to understand the majority religion of their country, is it more than a matter of what makes us feel warm and cozy? What is the ignorance of one congressman or one preacher in the greater scheme?

Cleaver presumably didn’t have ill intentions, and his mistake was just a well-meaning, foolishly ignorant attempt to show “tolerance.” This thinking, however, is just another representation of a broader societal trend toward a spiritually deadly ignorance of core Christian beliefs, and with it, a societally corrosive understanding of tolerance.

Religious ignorance and false tolerance from publicly professed Christians like New York’s Cuomo brothers, speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and others, for example, has led to a dangerous level of comfort in attacking Christian nominees, closing Christian charities, persecuting Christian businessmen, and most recently restricting Christian worship.

It’s common in the West for atheists, lapsed Christians, and others to try to correct those who actually practice their faith with novel interpretations of what they say Christ would do in a given situation. Most weeks, we’re told by ignorant, if well-meaning, friends, family, reporters, or politicians what our religion teaches and how we should therefore conduct our lives.

Among this crew of self-appointed instructors, a Christian pastor praying to a Hindu god might seem a welcomed sign of tolerance. Citing “the first and greatest commandment” against this blasphemy, on the other hand, might seem restrictive and bigoted stance to take in our supposedly enlightened current year.

But this is a deeply corrosive understanding of a good and decent tolerance. It’s the kind that fills half the country with a feeling of righteousness when a Christian baker is punished not because he refused to do business with a gay couple, but because he refused to participate in the celebration of a gay wedding.

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It’s the kind that invokes in mayors a feeling of moral superiority when banning private businesses from their city over an owner’s religious beliefs. It’s the kind that gives ostensibly Christian senators a feeling they are fighting the forces of bigotry and hate when they interrogate and block Christian nominees to the executive and judicial branches.

“Tolerance is… a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment,” the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a great and famous American preacher, wrote in 1931. “Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory. Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

This might seem harsh to those who cannot make up their mind about religion, but it’s a crucial distinction, and supports the foundations of Western society. This understanding of tolerance informs our peace, and is why good people love their neighbors regardless of their religion or politics and without praying to their gods or voting for their candidates.

This understanding of tolerance also informs our justice, and is why we once punished criminal actions instead of thoughts, without for a moment condoning wicked and evil thinking. And this understanding of tolerance informs our equality, and is why we once strove to care for our vulnerable without regard to their race and regardless of the real or imagined crimes of their ancestors.

Every single one of these foundations of Western civil society is rooted in our Founders’ and our people’s Christian religion and heritage, and every single one of them is under vicious attack. We see it in the boiling enmity between neighbors, attacks on and demonization of believers, firings and exiles over ideas, and even the push to distribute vaccines based on concepts of racial justice instead of age or health.

We see it daily in the streets of our towns, in our newspapers, on our movie screens, and in the halls of Congress. We see it in our classrooms and town halls, and we see it targeting our way of life.

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance,” Sheen wrote. “It is not. It is suffering from tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos.”

He was right then, and he is right now. And for this wrong, error, evil, and chaos, good men must have no tolerance.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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