Tag: Human rights

Will Grand Junction City Council Finally Respect Religious Diversity in 2016?

“We are mindful that this 21st century brings a new diversity of citizens. We must strive to make our government sensitive to the values of Americans with minority views, whether religious, political or otherwise.”

— The City of Grand Junction’s website

“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015

“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015

“During the invocation, you can sit, stand or leave the room.”

That’s what Grand Junction’s mayor tells citizens who would rather not have to worship Jesus Christ at the City’s public meetings. The statement assumes someone is going to be offended by the Christian prayers that come next.

But Council is okay with offending some citizens because Christianity has long been the preferred religion of City  Council, and they use their taxpayer-funded public meetings to flaunt it.

The truth is there is a stark contrast between what City Council says publicly about its attitude toward religious diversity and the lip service it pay towards actually respecting religious diversity.

Freedom From Religion Foundation Warns Delta County School District About Illegal Proselytizing

Gideon Bibles piled on a table at the entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015

Gideon Bibles on a table at the only entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015

An attorney with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a national organization that acts to protect the principal of separation of church and state, sent a letter (pdf) January 6, 2016 to Delta County School Superintendent Caryn Gibson and Delta County School Board President Pete Blair warning of the potential legal consequences of continuing to ignore the ongoing proselytizing and harassment of students over religion in Delta County schools.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote that the on-campus Gideon Bible giveaway a student documented in Delta Middle School’s library during class hours on December 18, 2015 violates the U.S. Constitution. School Superintendent Caryn Gibson has tried to defend the giveaway by saying the district’s “open forum” policy for non-curricular literature distribution permits the bible giveaways.

But Seidel lists three reasons why the District’s policy doesn’t provide legal cover for the bible distribution.

In-School Proselytizing is Not Permissible

“First,” Seidel writes, “[I]t is unconstitutional for public school districts to permit the Gideons International to distribute bibles as part of the public school day. Courts have held that the distribution of bibles to students at public schools during instructional time is prohibited.” Seidel cites two significant U.S. court rulings that have upheld this principle.

“Second, even when distribution of religious materials is done passively — from a table of some other fixed location — courts have ruled that distribution may be unconstitutional,” he writes, citing 2009 8th Circuit Court case Roark v. South Iron R-1 School District.

“Third,” Seidel writes,

“…if Delta Schools maintains this passive distribution policy and continues to assert that it allows the Gideons to prey on other people’s children, we [will] formally request permission to distribute FFRF literature in March. We will also contact other potentially interested organizations, including the Satanic Temple, to alert them to this unique opportunity. We already have local volunteers willing to set up the distribution.” [Italicized emphasis appears in the original letter.]

WCAF's new brochure for kids, "It's Okay to Not Believe in God"

WCAF’s new brochure for kids, “It’s Okay to Not Believe in God”

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, a western slope secular advocacy and church-state watchdog group, is among those ready to distribute literature to Delta Middle School students. The group recently created a colorful, new age-appropriate brochure about atheism titled “Its Okay to Not Believe in God!” (pdf) which they are eager to deploy in schools with open forum policies, like Delta County’s.

FFRF Sued Over Same Issue in Florida, and Won

FFRF has confronted these kids of in-school bible giveaways and “open forum” policies before, and won.

Jime Charlesworth, the Delta Middle School teacher who told her class "people who aren't Christians are the bombers."

Jime Charlesworth, the Delta Middle School teacher who told her students “people who aren’t Christians are the bombers.”

On June 12, 2013, FFRF sued the Orange County, Florida school district over a very similar “open forum” policy the district cited in response to protests over an in-school bible giveaway similar to the one at Delta Middle School. When FFRF asked to distribute its own literature at the same school, and the Satanic Temple asked to distribute their childrens’ coloring book and fact sheets, the school district refused to distribute their literature. FFRF then sued the district. The Orange County school district spent two years and $86,000 trying to contest the lawsuit before finally giving up and voting in February, 2015 to ban distribution of religious materials of any kind in District schools — the very remedy FFRF had originally asked for.

Mr. Dunham, Delta Middle School drama teacher

Mr. Dunham, Delta Middle School drama teacher who leads prayers in a school classroom every Wednesday morning, using free doughnuts to lure kids to the prayer sessions

Seidel lists other religious violations reported at Delta Middle School, including the school making all students watch a religious play about the baby Jesus (even students who protested it), and a teacher named Mrs. Charlesworth, who in December, 2014, reportedly told her students she was Christian and that “people who aren’t Christians are the bombers.” When a student protested the statement, Mrs. Charlesworth said she felt “it was her duty to teach the class about Christianity” and then harassed and ridiculed the student in front of the entire class. When the student’s parent contacted the school about the incident, the school “investigated” and concluded Mrs. Charlesworth didn’t do anything wrong, but immediately moved the student to a different class. The student reported that other teachers at the school have continued to harass her, including a drama teacher, Mr. Dunham, who according to Seidel’s letter “runs or ran the ‘Children’s Ministry’ at the Thunder Mountain Church of Christ in Delta.”

Two DMS teachers also reportedly lead students in prayer in one of the school’s classrooms every Wednesday morning, offering free doughnuts to lure kids to attend the sessions. Mr. Dunham is also one of the teachers who regularly leads the on-campus student prayer sessions.

Next Move is on Delta County School District

FFRF told Delta County School officials that if true, all of these allegations amount to constitutional violations, and asked for a prompt reply about how they intend to correct the violations and prevent them in the future. WCAF has also written to the district superintendent and the Delta County School Board notifying them of the problems with proselytizing, religious harassment and peer bullying occurring at DMS as a result of their apparent endorsement of Christianity on campus, and warning that these are violations of separation of church and state, but have only gotten a canned response from the superintendent saying district policy allows Gideon Bible giveaways.

 

Delta County School District Superintendent Brushes off Legal, Policy Violations in Bible Handout

Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson (Photo Credit: Western Colorado Community Foundation)

Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson (Photo Credit: Western Colorado Community Foundation)

After being informed that a Gideon Bible hand-out in Delta Middle School library during class time on December 18, 2015 violated U.S. laws guaranteeing separation of church and state,  violated the School District’s policy governing the distribution of non-curricular literature in multiple ways and caused students who did not take bibles to be bullied and harassed, Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson responded by saying:

“Hello

Thank you for your concern and email.  Delta County School District honors the separation of Church and State.  The Gideon Bibles were left on a table and optional for 6th grade students to take.  No staff members distributed the non-curricular materials at anytime.  Attached is the Delta County School District policy on non-curricular material.  

Caryn Gibson

Superintendent

Delta County Public Schools 50J

(p) 970-874-4438

cgibson@deltaschools.com

DMSDistribution-Posting-of-Noncurricular-Materials

That was it.

No acknowledgement that the school district’s own policy was violated, no acknowledgement that constitutional law was violated.

Zip.

Clear Violations of School Policy, No Acknowledgement by District

It is unconstitutional for public school districts to allow bibles to be distributed in classrooms during the school day. American courts have uniformly held that distributing bibles to students at public schools during instructional time is prohibited, and school officials like teachers and administrators cannot facilitate the bible handouts. At Delta Middle School, social studies teacher Michael Long took his class to the library during their regular class period, told the students there were bibles on a table by the library door, and they could take one if they wanted. The event gave the appearance that the school endorses Christianity above other religions.

Under the law, Gideons can only distribute religious literature off campus, on municipally-owned public sidewalks well off school grounds.

In addition, the DMS bible giveaway violated the District’s own literature distribution policy in not one, but in four different ways

1. District policy states (pdf) that any “printed non-curricular material” cannot be distributed in “any classroom of any building when being occupied by a regularly-scheduled class.” The reporting student’s class was held in the school library on 12/18 so the class could do research. The library was the students’ classroom that day, during regularly-scheduled class time. Moreover, this wasn’t the only class held in the library that day, or the only class in which bibles were foisted upon the students.

2. District policy states “Distribution [of non-curricular materials, like bibles] may be made 1/2 hour before school and/or during regularly scheduled lunch periods…..Any other times during the school day are considered to be disruptive of normal school activities.” [Italicized emphasis added.] This student’s social studies class was held in the library at 9:40 a.m., as was previously pointed out to the superintendent, during normal school hours. More than one teacher brought their class to the library during school hours that same day.

3. Delta School District policy also states “Students may not be used as the agents for distribution of such materials without the written consent of the student’s parents.” Mr. Long’s social studies students became agents for the Gideons’ distribution when they started pressuring other students to take a bible. No written consent was solicited from the parents of these students regarding solicitation of bibles.

4. District Policy states “No student may in any way be compelled or coerced to accept any materials being distributed by any person distributing such materials or any school official.” Both Mr. Long and some of his social studies students pressured the reporting student to take a bible. Another element of the policy states teachers can not endorse the literature.  Mr. Long endorsed the bible distribution when he told students “There’s bibles and they are free if you want one.” 

How can the Delta School District ignore these violations of their own policy, and even more importantly, why are they failing to acknowledge and remedy them?

Update – 3/23/16 – The Delta County School District only finally acknowledged that the Gideon Bible giveaway in the Delta Middle School library violated of their own policy (pdf) after the school district’s attorney was contacted by a staff attorney from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) based in Madison, Wisconsin. When FFRF asked that the Gideons be banned from further literature distribution in accordance with school policy (which permits revoking literature distribution privileges for policy violators), the school district attorney, Aaron Clay, refused, blaming the violations of policy on school personnel rather than on the Gideons.

Delta Middle School Pushes Bibles on Students During Class

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.17.32 PM

Delta Middle School Principal Jennifer Lohrberg

The parent of a Delta County, Colorado middle school student is reporting some of the most overt violations of separation of church and state yet discovered to be occurring in western slope public schools.

The parent’s child attends Delta Middle School (DMS) and reported to her mom on Friday, December 18, that her social studies class went to the school library with their teacher, Mr. Michael Long (michael.long@deltaschools.com). Once in the library, Mr. Long “announced to the class that there were free bibles available” and students “could pick one up off of a table located in the doorway of the library and take it home.” A student who noted this was a violation of separation of church and state in a public school, took a photo of the bibles on the table and sent it via text to her mother, pointing out that the table was located where students had to walk around it to enter and exit the library.

The student who did not take a bible was confronted by her classmates about why she didn’t take one, and they started shaming her for not conforming to Christian beliefs.

After finding out bibles were being distributed during school time with the endorsement of a social studies teacher, an outraged parent contacted DMS Principal Jennifer Lohrberg (jennifer.lohrberg@deltaschools.com) to protest the overt endorsement of Christianity on school property and during school hours. Principal Lohrberg insisted the bible giveaway was all in accordance with school policy, and sent the upset parent a copy of Delta County School District’s policy governing posting and distribution of non-curricular literature. (pdf)

DMS Violates Its Own Literature Distribution Policy, Multiple Times — And Denies It

Gideon Bibles piled on a table at the entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015

Gideon Bibles piled on a table at the entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015. (Photo credit: DMS student)

One must only read the Delta County School District’s policy, though, to see DMS bible giveaway violated the District’s own literature distribution policy four different ways

CMU to Force Christian Bibles on RN/BSN Grads; Nursing Students Fight it

A box of Bibles from Gideons International

A box of Bibles from Gideons International

Students about to graduate from Colorado Mesa University’s RN/BSN nursing program are fighting a school-sponsored plan to hand out Gideon Bibles to nursing graduates after they step down from the dais at their pinning ceremony. The December 11 pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of newly-graduated nurses into the nursing profession, and is the nursing students’ official, school-sponsored graduation ceremony.

Students Given No Choice

RN/BSN Nursing program administrators let students vote on many details of their own graduation ceremony, like the location and photographer, but made it clear to students that the Bible give-away was a non-negotiable part of the ceremony.

The Bibles are to be distributed by a local volunteer for Gideons International, a Christian evangelical organization that works to convert people to Christianity. According to their website, Gideons International is “dedicated to telling people about Jesus through sharing personally and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.” The Gideons are primarily known for putting Bibles in hotel and motel night stands, but they also distribute Bibles to elementary schools starting in the 5th grade, and to colleges, prisons, jails, hospitals and medical offices.

CMU nursing students who aren’t Christian and some who aren’t religious were appalled that they would be forced to either accept or reject a Christian Bible in front of the entire audience at their graduation ceremony. The students protested the Bible give-away to CMU president Tim Foster, but nursing program faculty attempted to ridicule the complaint and told students it is simply “what we do,” and they should just accept the Bible as a gift.

christianNurseThe disaffected students then contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), a group that advocates for the separation of church and state. WCAF wrote a letter (pdf) to CMU President Foster and Diana Bailey, the head of CMU’s RN/BSN program, on the students’ behalf explaining that many students in CMU’s 2015 nursing class who aren’t Christians find the Bible give-away offensive and improper.  Under the law, WCAF said, the Gideons can give away Bibles, but only if they stand on city-owned sidewalk, well off school property, while they do it.

CMU Focuses Exclusively on Christianity

“It’s a blatant disregard of other peoples’ religion,” said one student, who wished to remain anonymous, to WCAF members. Another student wondered why just one religion would be represented at the ceremony. To be fair, the students said, CMU needs to distribute texts from other religions as well, like Books of Mormon, Korans and Talmuds.

The students have a point.

Public schools can’t do anything that gives the appearance of endorsing a single religion.

The Supreme Court, ruling (pdf) in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe (June 19, 2000), explained that,

“[S]chool sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’”

Publicly-funded institutions like CMU have to stay neutral in matters of religion, and cannot do anything a reasonable person might construe as an endorsement of a particular religion.

And that’s exactly how the nursing students see the Bible give-away: as an improper endorsement of one and only one religion: Christianity.

The nursing students have three main goals:

  1. They want to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution and the potential for compromising their future careers locally,
  2. They want their entire class to be able to vote on the Bible give-away, and if a majority of the class approves of it, the students want other religious texts, as well as information on atheism, to be included in the give-away.
  3. The want CMU to acknowledge that the Bible give-away violates the law, and they want to keep future nursing classes from having to grapple with this same issue over again in future years.
CMU President Tim Foster

CMU President Tim Foster

One thing that’s working in the nurses’ favor is Gideons’ own internal policy governing the distribution of Bibles in schools. Gideon International’s Form 115 policy on school scripture distribution (in Section 4-1, under “Reaching the Hearts of our Young People”) says,

“If any method of distribution [at a school] has the potential to create media publicity, the distribution must be cancelled or postponed.”

If CMU refuses to work with the nursing students to change or eliminate the Bible give-away, WCAF has vowed to contact the local media, protest at the pinning ceremony and, if necessary, contact the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for legal help fighting it.

Fort Collins to Consider Legalizing Female Breasts

Go Topless Fort Collins flier promoting equal treatment of the sexes under Ft. Collins' Public Indecency ordinance

Go Topless Fort Collins flier promoting equal treatment of the sexes under Ft. Collins’ Public Indecency ordinance

campaign in Fort Collins to decriminalize the female breast says the city’s public indecency ordinance, which prohibits exposure of female breasts while allowing men to display theirs, is sexist.

Section 17-142 of Fort Collins’ city charter, “Offenses Against Decency,” states “No person shall knowingly appear in any public place in a nude state or state of undress such that the genitals or buttock of either sex or the breast or breasts of a female are exposed.”

But Brittany Hoagland of Go Topless Fort Collins points out that the ordinance conflicts with Article II Section 29 of Colorado’s Constitution, which states:

“Equality of the sexes. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Colorado or any of its political subdivisions on account of sex.” 

Islamophobic Mesa County Group Gets Pushback

RallyAgainstA fringe right-wing Mesa County group that planned an open-carry protest October 10 in front of a Grand Junction mosque was forced to back down after a counter protest that was quickly organized via social media at the same place and time drew far more participants than the Muslim-hater event.

The larger (national) anti-Islamic group “Global Rally for Humanity,” which organized the protest at the mosque, was formed by a combination of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters*, two radical, militaristic pro-gun, fringe right-wing groups that Mother Jones magazine calls “the Tea Party’s military wing.”

U.S. Military Members Under Pervasive Pressure from Christian Evangelists

Few people are aware of the extent of the fundamentalist Christian programs now going on in the U.S. Military aimed at turning our country’s Military into a global Christian mission for Jesus Christ.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), based in Albuquerque, New Mexico has working for years to draw attention to this situation. Mikey Weinstein, the head of MRFF, says these religious efforts constitute a “systematic program of indoctrination sanctioned, coordinated, and carried out by fundamentalist Christians within the U. S. military.” He writes that Christian programs in the military “[represent] a bona fide national security crisis” that is ongoing “throughout the entirety of the United States Air Force in particular, and the U.S. Armed Forces as a whole, whereby unchecked evangelizing activity is carried out on Uncle Sam’s time and the taxpayer’s dime.”

A shocking YouTube compilation of clips contains clips of videos created by the many parachurch groups that operate freely within the U.S. military shows military chaplains and fundamentalist preachers stating openly that they consider the military a hunting ground to recruit followers for Jesus Christ. They refer to military recruits as a “ripe harvest field,” and say the military offers them a “unique opportunity for a gateway ministry.”

Major General (Ret.) Bob Dees, Executive Dire actor of the Campus Crusade for Christ International’s Military Ministry, states, “The first strategic objective is to evangelize and disciple the enlisted members of the enlisted Air Force.”

Footage taken by AlJazeera shows Lt. Colonel Gary Hensley, the Army Command Chaplain in Afghanistan (the chief of all of the Army chaplains in Afghanistan) telling members of the military that they need to go on a recruiting drive for Christ. “Hunt ’em down and get ’em in the Kingdom, that’s what we do, that’s our business,” Hensley says.

A representative of the military branch of Campus Crusade for Christ states,

“Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world, and I think that we’re seeing God do that. We’re seeing kids come to Christ, being built up in their faith and being sent out to reach the world. They’re government-paid missionaries when they leave here.”

All activities shown in the video are currently ongoing in the U.S. Military and are open violations of U.S. law. The rules regulating Air Force culture, Air Force Instruction 1-1 (pdf), state that “Every Airman is free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all.” The regulations mandate that

…Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.

The activities shown in the video are shocking and need to be seen to be believed. You can support the efforts of MRFF here, or write to your own elected officials and express your opinion about this blatant violation of service members’ rights, Air Force rules and the U.S. Constitution.

If You Want to Die Peacefully at Home, You Need to Know This

First page of Colorado's 2015 MOST form

First page of Colorado’s 2015 MOST form

If you want to avoid extensive hospital treatment or heroic measures being used on you towards the end of your life, it’s much harder than you think. It’s far more difficult than you’d ever realized these days to die a peaceful, natural death in your own home, if that’s the way you want your life to end.

These days many people don’t relish the idea of having their death drawn out in a hospital, hooked up to life support machines. If you are one of those people, you can complete an advanced directive and a will, put all your assets in a trust, and even verbally tell your closest family members that you don’t want any more hospitalizations. But that’s not enough.

Chances are very high that unless you do ONE more thing, you’ll still end up in a hospital getting a host of unwanted procedures or mechanical life support at the end of your life.

If near the end of your life you do not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances, and you want to let a natural process take your life, your family members or caregivers risk charges of medical neglect or abuse if they abide by your wishes. This is the case even if you have put all the above due-diligence documents in place. It’s extremely hard for relatives who love you to watch you get weaker and sicker and not do anything to help you. Caregivers fear lawsuits for neglect not giving every last possible measure of care in what they perceive as a desperate time of need. Some paid caregivers may be a different religion that you, and believe it is impermissible for you to determine the time and place of your own death.

These and many other conflicts can abound at the end of your life.

To protect close relatives and caregivers looking after you from a legal onslaught and assure you get the kind of care you really want at the end of your life, there is one more thing you must do: fill out a M.O.S.T. form.

What is a MOST form?

M.O.S.T. stands for Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment.  Most people have never heard of this form, but it in recent years it has become the key to self-determination at the end of your life.

The MOST form is relatively new. Colorado implemented its MOST form only about five years ago, and recently revised it. Every U.S. state now has its own version of a MOST form. In some states they are called a Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment or a POLST form.

The MOST form is a very specific medico-legal instrument that summarizes and documents your personal preferences for a number of common life-sustaining treatments, including things like CPR, antibiotics, artificial nutrition and hydration, and mechanical ventilation. You can choose the extent to which you want these treatments to be used to save or prolong your life, under what circumstances and for how long. The form is usually printed on bright green paper, for quick location and recognition in medical files.

MOST forms assure you the ability to exert more control over your medical care

Individuals may use the MOST form to refuse treatments selectively, request full treatment under certain circumstances, or specify certain treatments they do not want. Any section of the form that is not completed implies full treatment is desired. Filling out a MOST form assures that not only will you get the specific care you want at the end of your life, but it will protect those who are responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf from legal charges of abuse or neglect if they abide by your wishes. Such charges can be brought by relatives who don’t agree with the kind of death you want for yourself, or by law enforcement.

The MOST form is used in conjunction with other legal instruments, like advanced directives and living wills. You must complete the MOST form while you still have your mental capacity. You and your doctor both sign the completed form. Everyone who could even be tangentially involved in your care towards the end of your life should get a copy of your completed MOST form. Make sure to give a copy to whomever has your medical power of attorney, too. Give copies to all of your children, even ones who live elsewhere and visit rarely, and even the crazy ones. Give them to your close friends, too.

The MOST form must be honored in any setting, including at home.

This relatively new form is the key to being able to have the kind of death you want, especially if your choice involves refusing invasive, life-sustaining treatments.

You can view Colorado’s MOST form here (pdf).

For more information on the MOST form, to see one, download a free copy or get answers to frequently asked questions about the form, go to the Colorado Advanced Directives Consortium, or talk to your doctor or your attorney.

36 Great Things Labor Unions Have Done for Americans

I places where lots of workers belong to labor unions thrive, the number of people in the middle class increases

In areas where a high number of workers belong to labor unions, the number of people in the middle class increases. In places like Mesa County where there are few and weak unions, wages stay low and more people live in poverty.

 

Did you know that labor unions made the following 36 things possible?

  1. Weekends without work
  2. All of your breaks at work, including your lunch breaks
  3. Paid vacation
  4. Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  5. Sick leave
  6. Social Security
  7. Minimum wage
  8. Civil Rights Act, Title VII, which prohibits employer discrimination
  9. 8-hour work day
  10. Overtime pay
  11. Child labor laws
  12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
  13. The 40-hour work week
  14. Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp)
  15. Unemployment insurance
  16. Pensions
  17. Workplace safety standards and regulations
  18. Employer health care insurance
  19. Collective bargaining rights for employees
  20. Wrongful termination laws
  21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
  22. Whistleblower protection laws
  23. Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), which prohibits employers from using a lie detector test on an employee
  24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
  25. Compensation increases and evaluations (raises)
  26. Sexual harassment laws
  27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
  28. Holiday pay
  29. Employer dental, life, and vision insurance
  30. Privacy rights
  31. Pregnancy and parental leave
  32. Military leave
  33. The right to strike
  34. Public education for children
  35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011, which require employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work
  36. Laws ending sweatshops in the United States

Rick Brainard Resurfaces to Gloat Over Former Juror’s Plight

Former Grand Junction City Councilman Rick Brainard. Photo credit: KREX-TV, Grand Junction

Former Grand Junction City Councilman Rick Brainard. Photo credit: KREX-TV, Grand Junction

Convicted domestic abuser and former short term Grand Junction City Councilman Rick Brainard is publicly gloating over the former Blagg juror’s contempt conviction, and is being assisted by Paul Shockley, the Daily Sentinel’s court-beat reporter.

In response to an April 29 article by Shockley about Ms. Charlesworth’s conviction, Brainard tweeted, “XOXO. That darn Karma is a son of a gun.” Shockley retweeted the comment, helping Brainard further magnify it.

Judge Finds Blagg Juror in Contempt

Judge Jane Tidball

Judge Jane Tidball

Retired District Court Judge Jane Tidball today ruled that the juror accused of misconduct in the Michael Blagg murder case was in fact in contempt of court. Judge Tidball cited legal documents she believed indicated the juror was knowingly exposed to domestic abuse decades ago. The judge further stated that, beyond reasonable doubt, the juror had opportunities “to revise or elaborate” about her experience with domestic abuse, but that she “willfully failed to answer fully the questions on the questionnaire” in the Blagg case. She concluded the juror had “offended the dignity of the Court” and ruled her in contempt.

Judge Tidball set a sentencing hearing for June 26. The juror can potentially be ordered to spend up to six months in jail, and the Mesa County District Attorney is attempting to extract tens of thousands of dollars in fines from the juror, seeking to have her pay the costs of Blagg’s trial, including expert witness fees, hotel and meal expenses.

Mesa County District Attorney Set to Further Abuse Beleaguered Blagg Juror

The Mesa County D.A. has whipped up hysteria about the former Blagg juror, and is now responding to the desires of a pitchfork-wielding mob to punish her

The Mesa County D.A. has whipped up local anger about the former Blagg juror, and is responding to the desires of an angry mob to punish her further

The abused Blagg juror in Grand Junction and her further prosecution by the Mesa County District Attorney are raising questions among local women about exactly what constitutes domestic abuse, and whether and when someone experiences it or not.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Under this definition,  whether an act constitutes domestic violence or not depends entirely on the point of view of the targeted partner. In the case of the Blagg juror, her former husbands’ actions drove her to divorce them, but someone can certainly file for a divorce without feeling intimidated, threatened or abused by the other partner’s actions. If her husband’s actions just angered her and pushed her to divorce them, does that really make her a “victim” of domestic violence?

Maybe it just makes her a strong woman.

Whereas society used to entirely accept a man beating up his wife, now domestic violence is defined by things as subtle as using dirty looks, playing mind games, using children to relay messages or taking away someone’s cell phone.

Subjective Gray Area

Moreover, whether or not a partner’s actions rise to the level domestic violence depends on a number of differentiating variables, like frequency and intensity of violent acts, and the presence or lack of other forms of maltreatment, like chronic attempts at financial control or isolation. Other factors like substance abuse, the aggressive partner’s history of abusive actions, or a history of mental illness or possessiveness, can also figure into a definition of what constitutes domestic abuse. It’s also important whether a pattern of abuse exists or not. If a one-off threat or act by one partner drives the other partner end the relationship permanently, does this rise to the level domestic violence?

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, caving to an angry public, is poised to publicly heap more abuse on a beleaguered former juror in the Blagg case who has been targeted repeatedly by the Defense.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, caving to an angry public, is poised to heap further abuse on a beleaguered former juror in the Blagg case who has been targeted repeatedly by the Defense for more than a decade

Again, it depends on the point of view of the person targeted by the act. Despite this huge gray area in what constitutes domestic abuse, a Mesa County Court judge has told the former Blagg juror exactly what her marital experiences amounted to, and how she must define them.

This is a tremendously presumptive position by the Court. It’s also a tremendously unfair position in which to put the juror. Further, in return for having the temerity to disagree with the Court about her own experiences, the D.A. is now is poised to punish her further with jail time and thousands of dollars in fees and fines, in addition to the thousands she and her current husband have already been forced to shell out to an attorney to help defend her.

By now one thing in this case is truly clear: the former Blagg juror has suffered far more abuse from the Court system and the D.A. than she ever did from her former husbands.

The D.A.’s actions to further punish this already aggrieved former juror will no doubt put a healthy dose of fear and trepidation into everyone who gets a jury summons in the future. The Mesa County District Attorney is now also poised to severely deplete the already small pool of people who are willing to serve on a jury, and probably not just locally, but will create the same difficulty for courts across the country.

The Worst Case of Juror Abuse in the U.S. is Right Here in Grand Junction

ServeWithFearMarilyn Charlesworth of Grand Junction, Colorado, has started a GoFundMe campaign asking for help to pay the mounting legal fees arising from her jury service of 11 years ago.

Charlesworth is the victim of the worst case of juror abuse in American history. It has dragged on for eleven years now past the time of her jury service, and has utterly ruined the life of a woman who responded to a jury summons she got in the mail, as all American citizens are required to do by law as part of their citizenship.

What is juror abuse?

Delta Middle School Teacher Pushes Christianity on Students

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), which advocates for western Colorado’s secular community, has a form on its website where people can submit violations of the separation of church and state that they observe in western Colorado. On December 10, 2014, the mother of a student who attends Delta Middle School submitted the following information about Christianity being forced on middle school students in Delta, Colorado:

Jime Charlesworth, teacher, Delta Middle School

Jime Charlesworth, teacher, Delta Middle School

A teacher named named Mrs. Charlesworth teaches reading and writing at Delta Middle school. She likes to share her Christian beliefs with the class. One day she told the class non Christians were bad people. A student said that the non Christians were the people who bombed people and she did nothing to correct the conversation. On Friday 11-5-14 all DMS students were forced to watch an 1.5 hour long play about the baby Jesus. My daughter repeatedly asked if she could leave the play because she thought it was inappropriate for school. The teachers would not let her leave. My daughter felt like she was forced to attend a Christian church. My daughter has also been forced to read a book called the witness. She said it has a lot of God stuff in it. I haven’t read it yet. I met with the principal and vice principal of DMS today 12-10-14. I informed them they were violating Church and state rules. They told me the play would never be performed in DMS ever again and the Christian bias would stop. They also assured me my child would treated with respect and would not suffer because I complained. Several hours after my meeting with the principals, my daughter was singled out and yelled at by Mrs. Charlesworth, in front of the entire class. My daughter is being retaliated against for
asserting her rights.

This incident of proselytizing to student in western slope public schools joins numerous others that have been reported, like Fellowship Church’s promotion of its 4640 youth indoctrination center to middle school gym classes, and the promotion of Christian “Good News Clubs” in elementary schools.

Why a Fetus is Not a Person

NotADifficultConcept

Updated November 5, 2014

Colorado’s Amendment 67 did not pass, to the relief of most of the state. The measure would have declared unborn human beings as a “person” or a “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code.

It was yet another a personhood measure, but this year Personhood USA, the group pushing these kinds of measures, tried to disguise that fact by calling it the “Brady Amendment,” after a fetus a woman lost in a 2012 drunk driving accident. Naming the measure after a woman’s lost fetus was an attempt to give the measure emotional appeal, because when you can get people to react through emotion, they’ll often bypass their rational thinking.

A fundamentally flawed argument

Coloradans have rejected personhood measures three times now, for good reason. The thinking behind these ballot initiatives is illogical and thus fundamentally flawed.

A fetus is not a person in any legal sense.

Both fertilized eggs and clones represent potential, not actual human beings.

Zygotes, or fertilized eggs, and fetuses lack many of the physical characteristics of human beings. They don’t have brains, skeletons, or internal organs. A fetus cannot engage in human perception or thought. The analogy that fits is that an acorn is not an oak tree and the egg you eat for breakfast is not a chicken.

Fetuses have no social identity, and there is no precedent for giving them such. Names are not legally conferred upon fetuses, only upon babies after birth.  The first legal recognition of a person’s existence is their birth certificate. No government on Earth issues “pre-birth certificates.” The government does not issue death certificates for miscarried or aborted fetuses. The government does not issue social security numbers to fetuses, nor does the government confer any rights of citizenship on upon conception.

Online Database Details Religious Crimes Against Humanity

fishAn eye-opening database publicly available on Google Docs lists known major organized crimes implemented globally by the Catholic church and other religions. The list includes systematic child abductions by the Church (the seizure of millions of babies from unmarried women and girls from the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s who were then adopted out for profit), child and female enslavement, sexual abuse, child pornography, abuse of deaf victims, beatings, severe punishments and use of orphans as “guinea pigs” in human experimental and clinical trials. All entries are documented to authoritative sources or reporting. One example of crimes committed by the Catholic church is the so-called “Baby Scoop Era,” in which unwed pregnant girls were “disappeared” into Catholic “Mother-Baby Homes.” There the girls and young women were fed and housed with minimal attention until they gave birth in rooms alone, without support, assistance, counseling or coaching. The new young mothers were then coerced or forced to surrender their babies for adoption. This human rights crime against women is backed up with a link to a one hour investigative news program by Dan Rather titled “What the Catholic Church failed to tell you: Abominations of the Catholic Church in USA and Canada” that details how from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, Catholic nuns coerced over one million American women and girls to give up their babies. The Church then sold them into illegitimate adoptions for “astronomical profits.”

Woman and Girls Used as Slave Labor in Irish Laundries Operated by the Catholic Church

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

A BBC investigation has revealed that Irish nuns from the Catholic church took female children out of church-operated state orphanages and used them as unpaid slave labor in church-owned commercial laundry facilities called the Magdalene Laundries. Women and girls made to work in the laundries were held as prisoners and endured significant abuse. The slave laundries existed into the 1980s and did the laundry for restaurants, railway stations, convents and the airport. Some women were held in the laundries for over 50 years.

The Irish Examiner newspaper investigated the finances of religious orders that operated the laundries in 2012 and found they owned assets of $1.9 billion. (Yes, that’s “billion” with a “B.”).

One woman, the main subject in BBC’s report, escaped the laundry, ran to a nearby church for help, got raped by a priest and returned to the laundry. She became pregnant from the rape. The nuns took her baby away from her at birth and gave it up for adoption. The woman was forced to work in the laundry for 14 years. She was finally reunited with her daughter 40 years after her birth. The woman is demanding an apology — just an apology — from the Church.

Source: Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nunsBBC News, September 23, 2014