The Climate Change Movement is a Religion

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy recently said that climate change has become a religion because it “actually has nothing to do with the climate,” and is instead all about power and control. To test if the public agrees with this assessment, a Rasmussen Reports survey found that 60 percent of likely voters agreed with him; 35 percent disagreed.

The poll did not reveal who the minority is, but we know from other surveys who they are.

The Pew Research Center found in 2021 that those who express the most concern about climate change are young people and those on the left. Younger adults, for obvious reasons, tend to be more concerned than older Americans about the dangers of climate change. Ideologically, those on the left are considerably more concerned about this issue than those on the right. This pattern is generally true in other developed countries as well.

Those who say they are the most concerned about climate change would argue that it is their genuine concern for the environment that makes them more sensitive to this issue; conservatives, they would maintain, just don’t care that much about it. But most Americans aren’t buying it. They say it’s because the “pro-environmentalists” are motivated more by power than purity, and that they have made a religion out of it.

There is no doubting that power is the signature of the left. From the time of the French Revolution to the latest antics of Antifa, the desire to control the words and deeds of the masses has been their overriding goal. So when surveys show that most Americans believe that those who are the most concerned about climate control are really obsessed by power and control, they are referring to those on the left. Conservatives favor small government, not large government.

There are good grounds to conclude that the left has made climate control a religion. For example, a Gallup poll released last year found that young people, liberals and Democrats are the most secular of any demographic group in the nation: they are the most likely to say they are religiously unaffiliated, agnostic or atheist.

It does not follow that those who have no conventional religious beliefs are without an ersatz religion, or something which functions as a religion for them. In the case of young people and those on the Left, their devotion to climate control acts as a ready substitute.

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Geofence Surveillance: First, They Spied on Protesters. Then Churches. You’re Next.

“I know the capability that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”—Senator Frank Church on Meet The Press, 1975

If you give the government an inch, it will always take a mile.

This is how the slippery slope to all-out persecution starts.

Martin Niemöller’s warning about the widening net that ensnares us all, a warning issued in response to the threat posed by Nazi Germany’s fascist regime, still applies.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This particular slippery slope has to do with the government’s use of geofence technology, which uses cell phone location data to identify people who are in a particular area at any given time.

First, police began using geofence warrants to carry out dragnet sweeps of individuals near a crime scene.

Then the FBI used geofence warrants to identify individuals who were in the vicinity of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

It wasn’t long before government officials in California used cell phone and geofence data to track the number and movements of churchgoers on church grounds during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

If we’ve already reached the point where people praying and gathering on church grounds merits this level of government scrutiny and sanctions, we’re not too far from free-falling into a total surveillance state.

Dragnet geofence surveillance sweeps can and eventually will be used to target as a suspect every person in any given place at any given time and sweep them up into a never-ending virtual line-up in the hopes of matching a criminal to every crime.

There really can be no overstating the danger.

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Surprise: A California County Went Full-Eliott Ness to Spy on a Church During COVID

In the criminal justice system, people who tend to disagree with the government are aggressively investigated by the elite members of the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Business Compliance Unit. These are their stories.

And cue the “Law & Order” sound effect.

Yes, it’s Law & Order: BCU

Yesterday, I told you about a Chinese app designed to track people who wanted to attend religious services in the Henan province. At the time I opined that governors like Gavin Newsom would salivate over that kind of technology and that something like that was probably headed our way soon. But as it turns out, Santa Clara County in California was already taking a boots-on-the-ground approach when it came to spying on and harassing an area church. Writing on his Substack, Silent Lunch, journalist David Zweig tells the tale of how between November 2020 and January 2021, the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Business Compliance Unit (you thought I made that name up, didn’t you?) went all-in to spy on a church that bucked the ham-handed and unevenly applied lockdown mandates.*

Calvary Chapel San Jose attracted the attention of county snoops on On May 24, 2020. That day, pastor Mike McClure said that he would reopen the church despite the COVID-19 restrictions. And for that matter, the church would stay open. Such a move was bound not to be well-received in California, and even less so in Santa Clara County, which had been particularly aggressive in enforcing lockdown rules. But McClure had seen the devastating effects that enforced isolation had on his congregation. For example, one man said his church attendance kept him from entertaining thoughts of suicide as the quarantine merged with other difficult life events. Another found that church attendance gave him the strength to stave off his urges for alcohol and drugs as the crushing isolation took its toll. A woman said that the fellowship at Calvary Chapel San Jose helped save her son, who struggled with substance abuse after the lockdown cost him an apprenticeship in plumbing. A pastor was able to tie the woman in with a program that she credits with saving her son’s life.

On August 21, 2020, the church was hit with a cease-and-desist letter from the county. At issue were the crimes of meeting indoors, failure of members to mask and social distance, and, of course, singing. Two days later, a pair of officers from the COVID-19 Business Compliance Unit were at the church and saw at least 100 people doing all of those things. As Zweig writes:

So began a series of issuances of fines for violations every single day, beginning in August, and running through the spring of 2021. The fines began at $1,000 each. Per the terms of the public health order, there was no grace period, and the amounts doubled each day that the violations were not corrected until a maximum of $5,000 per day was reached. By October 27, 2020, the county had already fined Calvary $350,000.

By the time September rolled around, churches in the county still could not meet indoors. But shopping malls could operate at fifty percent capacity. In October, churches could have either 100 people or twenty-five percent of their capacity on campus. Museums could accommodate fifty percent of their capacities, and stores had no limits. But at this point, Santa Clara County was determined to bring the hammer down on Calvary Chapel San Jose. To do that, they needed evidence.

And cue the “Law & Order” sound effect, again.

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Polygamous leader used jailhouse phone to have ‘sexual’ conversations with kids: feds

A polygamous leader accused of kidnapping underage girls “brazenly” used the jailhouse phone system to have “explicit sexual conversations” with children, a federal filing states.

While in custody last November on suspicion of sex trafficking, Samuel Rappylee Bateman referred to a 13-year-old girl as his “sexy darling” during a video call that included his adult wives, the US attorney in Arizona alleged in documents filed on March 3.

Bateman, 46, also asked the young teen, identified as Jane Doe 4, about “all the sacred times” they shared together, in addition to more explicit sexual remarks.

The accused child trafficker also reportedly made similarly vulgar remarks during the same call to two 16-year-olds known as Jane Doe 10 and Jane Doe 11, the document claims.

At the time of the phone call, Bateman was barred from contacting Jane Doe 4, who is a named victim in the ongoing child abuse case against him.

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Inside the UK’s Mormon missionary boot camp

Every year, thousands of young Mormons go on missions to try to recruit others into the religion. The BBC was given access to their UK boot camp, where they learn how to teach Mormon beliefs and use social media to reach potential converts.

When 19-year-old Rebekah Cooper started her mission, she had to give up her first name, stop making phone calls to her friends and surrender any time to be on her own, other than to use the toilet or shower.

Known only as Sister Cooper during her religious mission, she also began a strictly-planned daily schedule – of prayer, study, exercise, volunteering in the community and seeking out potential converts – starting at 06:30 every morning and ending with a nightly curfew.

Along with general Mormon rules based on religious scriptures like a ban on premarital sex and drinking tea and coffee, missionaries aren’t allowed to stay out late or watch TV or movies. Typical Gen Z pastimes like gaming and TikTok are also forbidden.

Rebekah is one of tens of thousands of young Mormons around the world who volunteer to take part in missions every year, with the goal of recruiting others to join the religious group.

Most are aged under 25 and live away from home for up to two years – and the biggest training centre in Europe for these young missionaries is located in Chorley, Lancashire. TV cameras were allowed into the training centre for a BBC documentary The Mormons Are Coming.

Officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the Church believes in Jesus but is separate from other Christian groups. It has more than 16 million members and has the largest full-time missionary force in the world.

Awareness of these young missionaries has grown in recent years thanks to the Broadway and West End musical – The Book of Mormon. Some missionaries even try to find converts by speaking to theatre-goers outside of venues putting on the production.

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Washington teacher says schools must do more to keep students’ info secret from ‘Christo-fascist’ parents

A Washington teacher complained on Friday that many schools’ “guidelines and laws” haven’t helped them keep students’ information secret from “Christo-fascist” parents.

A tweet shows Auburn School District 408 teacher Karen Love responding to another that urged parents to check their school district’s policy regarding keeping info about their child’s secret from them. 

“Parents-check your school districts’ policy regarding keeping info about YOUR child secret from you. There are some scary policies out there. Schools should not have a right to keep info about your child from you unless abuse by you is suspected. There I said it and mean it,” a tweet written by “The Principle’s Office” reads.

Love responded, “I cannot disagree with this more. So many students are not safe in this nation from their Christo-fascist parents. And our guidelines and laws haven’t caught up with this.”

The Twitter thread of Love and the other users was reposted as a screenshot by Ian Prior, a senior advisor at American First Legal. 

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Is Religious Freedom And Freedom Of Speech And Worship Dead In Biden’s America?

On February 10, 2023, Jason S. Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia, along with 19 other Attorneys General, issued their own response. 

The attorneys general seven-page letter was addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray. 

“This country was founded on the right of all people to worship in the church, mosque, or synagogue of their choice, free from government. Countless millions were drawn to our country because of that very right. Indeed, some of our first States were founded as safe havens for religious dissenters. There is no right more sacred to American democracy than the right to worship freely,” reads the letter. 

In further response, Bishop Knestouts of the Richmond, Virginia  Catholic diocese issued a statement on Feb. 13, 2023. 

“I was alarmed to read the reports written late last week about the contents of the internal memo created by the Richmond Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I was also surprised to learn of the mention of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), a religious order, which celebrates the traditional form of the Catholic Mass. FSSP has served with devotion for many years the parishes within our Catholic community and to the faithful of our diocese who appreciate this form of the Catholic Mass in our diocese,” wrote Bishop Knestouts. 

“The leaked document should be troubling and offensive to all communities of faith, as well as all Americans. I am grateful for the Virginia Attorney General and 19 attorneys general who have called upon the government to publicly release all materials related to the production of this memo. If evidence of extremism exists, it should be rooted out, but not at the expense of religious freedom. A preference for traditional forms of worship and holding closely to the Church’s teachings on marriage, family, human sexuality, and the dignity of the human person does not equate with extremism, the Bishop added. 

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SEC Charges Mormon Church For Concealing $32 Billion Portfolio

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged an investment arm of the Mormon church for disclosure failures and misstated filings.

Ensign Peak, a nonprofit entity operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, agreed to pay a $4 million penalty for failing to file forms that would have disclosed the church’s equity investments, and instead filing forms for shell companies that concealed the Church’s portfolio – as well as misstated Ensign Peak’s control over investment decisions, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The church, which requires its members give 10% of their income in the form of tithing, itself agreed to pay a $1 million penalty, according to the SEC.

The SEC’s order finds that, from 1997 through 2019, Ensign Peak failed to file Forms 13F, the forms on which investment managers are required to disclose the value of certain securities they manage. According to the order, the Church was concerned that disclosure of its portfolio, which by 2018 grew to approximately $32 billion, would lead to negative consequences. To obscure the amount of the Church’s portfolio, and with the Church’s knowledge and approval, Ensign Peak created thirteen shell LLCs, ostensibly with locations throughout the U.S., and filed Forms 13F in the names of these LLCs rather than in Ensign Peak’s name. The order finds that Ensign Peak maintained investment discretion over all relevant securities, that it controlled the shell companies, and that it directed nominee “business managers,” most of whom were employed by the Church, to sign the Commission filings. The shell LLCs’ Forms 13F misstated, among other things, that the LLCs had sole investment and voting discretion over the securities. In reality, the SEC’s order finds, Ensign Peak retained control over all investment and voting decisions. -SEC

We allege that the LDS Church’s investment manager, with the Church’s knowledge, went to great lengths to avoid disclosing the Church’s investments, depriving the Commission and the investing public of accurate market information,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The requirement to file timely and accurate information on Forms 13F applies to all institutional investment managers, including non-profit and charitable organizations.”

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Ex-Mormons Are Running a Magic Mushroom Church

As he set up for Sunday services in a dank basement lined with velvet seating and glow-in-the-dark blue tables, Steve Urquhart, founder of the Divine Assembly, tried hard not to think about the swingers’ party that took place in the space the previous night. 

“They have a lot of fun. I think it’s a rowdy crowd,” Urquhart, 57, a former Republican state senator and ex-Mormon, told VICE News with a mischievous smile, looking a bit like a lumberjack with his white beard and red flannel shirt.

On Saturday nights, the New Yorker Club has “lifestyle” parties. By Sunday morning, a few upside down pineapples (the bat signal for swingers), sticky floors, one suspiciously damp spot on a couch, and tasteful nudes on the walls remained as the Divine Assembly took over the venue. Urquhart and his wife Sara founded the church three years ago, and while the idea of congregating in a club where people likely have sex may sound counterintuitive, this group is used to bucking norms. Their sacrament, which they use to commune directly with the “divine” (which could mean god, the universe, or even family members depending on the person), is psychedelic mushrooms. 

“We have one tenet, which is you, each individual, can commune with the divine and out of that direct communion, you can receive guidance,” Urquhart explained. “You don’t need any kind of intermediary, you don’t need me, you don’t need anyone.”

But no one gets high at church. Instead, congregants participate in a range of workshops and activities that include an ice bath, a meditation room with flashing lights, and a shroom growing course called “shroomiversity.” 

The Divine Assembly is one of a growing number of churches in the U.S. whose followers worship using psychedelics like shrooms, ayahuasca, peyote, and bufo (psychoactive toad venom). VICE News has identified at least 19 psychedelic churches, though more likely exist underground and will continue to pop up as these drugs become more mainstream and legal in some cities and states. The churches operate in different ways; some have formal spaces, while others rent out venues or offer monthly retreats. Some charge membership fees and provide members with drugs—others, like the Divine Assembly, don’t. All the churches believe they’re protected under freedom of religion, although few have legal exemptions to use drugs, leaving church leaders and members responsible for defending themselves, should they ever be arrested. 

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