Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent state and local governments engaged in religious discrimination from receiving federal funding during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Safeguarding Americans from Coronavirus and Religious Exercise Discrimination (SACRED) Act would block state and local governments from receiving coronavirus relief funding if Attorney General Bill Barr finds that those governments are discriminating against religious individuals or religious institutions and violating First Amendment rights.
Barr would have to certify that the governments were no longer discriminating against religious freedoms in coronavirus regulations for them to receive funding, according to the text of the proposed legislation. (RELATED: Here’s How The DOJ Has Fought Against Orders Limiting Religious Services During The Pandemic)
“Throughout this pandemic we’ve seen numerous examples of state and local governments instituting discriminatory regulations that unfairly target people of faith and which restrict houses of worship from operating while exempting secular gatherings and operations from the same rules,” Cruz said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“As Congress continues to provide relief funds to combat the impact of COVID-19, it is crucial that we protect the First Amendment right of religious liberty from discrimination,” Cruz added. “That’s why I’ve introduced the SACRED Act. By blocking funds from governments that discriminate against religious organizations, we can fairly protect religious liberty and the rights of those who seek to gather together safely for worship.”
The bill comes as governors and local governments renew coronavirus travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders following months of shutdowns and quarantines that critics say have been rife with religious discrimination.
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam banned gatherings of 10 or more people through initial stay-at-home orders, restrictions which effectively banned church services. Authorities have arrested multiple religious leaders for defying coronavirus orders, such as Pastor Tony Spell of the Louisiana Life Tabernacle church and Florida megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne.
Attorney General William Barr set the tone for the U.S. Department of Justice’s attitude towards religious freedom during the pandemic by warning in an early April statement that “even in times of emergency,” federal law prohibits religious discrimination.
Barr also promised that the DOJ would be watching for any state or local government that “singles out, targets, or discriminates against any house of worship for special restrictions.”
Since that statement was issued, the DOJ has intervened in multiple cases of coronavirus rules targeting churches and pastors, specifically in Nevada, California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Virginia, and Mississippi.
Another person has come forward corroborating aspects of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden’s accuser Tara Reade’s allegations.
Joseph Backholm is at least the eighth person to corroborate aspects of Reade’s claims, following her mother, brother, ex-husband, former neighbor, former coworker and at least two of her friends.
Backholm says that Reade told him, “When I was in Washington, D.C. I was sexually assaulted by someone you would know.”
A man who knew Tara Reade during law school says that she told him she was assaulted — marking at least the eighth person to corroborate aspects of her accusations against 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Reade accused the former vice president in March of kissing her, touching her, and penetrating her with his fingers without her consent when she worked for him in 1993 — allegations that Biden has vigorously and repeatedly denied.
Reade’s allegations garnered national attention in late April and early May, but subsequent media coverage of her academic credentials and her turbulent past has cast doubts on her story. Her legal representation, attorney Douglas Wigdor, abandoned her case in early May following reports that Reade lied about her undergraduate degree.
Joseph Backholm is at least the eighth person to corroborate aspects of Reade’s claims, following her mother, brother, ex-husband, former neighbor, former coworker and at least of her two friends.
Backholm told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he met Reade in law school at Seattle University between 2002 and 2004. The two became friends and would see one another regularly, he said.
“She was a single mom and my wife and I went essentially out of our way to make sure they weren’t alone in a new place,” he said, referring to Reade’s daughter.
Reade was going by the name Tara McCabe at the time, Backholm said. Reade has previously told the DCNF that she changed her name out of fear for her safety after going through a messy divorce.
Backholm and Reade got to know each other through the Christian Legal Society, a non-profit, non-denominational organization of Christian lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students, Backholm said.
He described Reade as easy to be around, agreeable, and pleasant. “I didn’t ever find her difficult,” he added. (
The two held very different political views: Backholm is conservative and works as legal counsel for The Colson Center for Christian Worldview, an organization espousing traditional views of marriage as well as pro-life stances.
Reade formerly worked for Democratic politicians, supported former 2020 presidential candidates Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, and has told the DCNF that she is strongly pro-choice.
“We sparred often in very friendly ways,” Backholm said. “We agreed about almost nothing politically, and she’s pretty far to the left, and as far as I know, still is.”
Backholm and Reade attended two conferences together, one in Destin, Florida, and one in Savannah, Georgia. Backholm is not sure which conference it was where Reade disclosed to him that she had formerly been assaulted.
According to Backholm, the two were sitting with other law students on a hotel patio by the water chatting late at night during one of these conferences. Eventually everyone went to bed except Backholm and Reade, who continued discussing Reade’s plans to become a domestic violence advocate.
“She said, ‘When I was in Washington, D.C. I was sexually assaulted by someone you would know,’ and that’s how she phrased it, ‘someone you would know’ and she didn’t give a name,” Backholm said. “I didn’t ask for a name.”
Reade confirmed to the DCNF that she knew Backholm and that she told him she was assaulted. Her new legal representation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
Reade had previously volunteered that she had worked for Biden, Backhom said. When Reade told him that she had been sexually assaulted by someone he would know, he says he assumed her assailant would not be Biden since Reade knew she had already told Backholm that she had worked for Biden.
“I actually was assuming it was not Joe Biden when she said it,” he added. (RELATED: Reade Says Complaint Would Prove Biden Aides Dennis Toner And Ted Kaufman Lied About Not Knowing Her)
Backholm did not recall whether Reade had praised Biden but he said that he got the sense Reade was proud to have worked for the former Delaware senator.
“I just know that he was part of her journey,” he said. “She had worked in Washington D.C. and for Joe Biden. And I always give her a hard time for it because, you know, Joe Biden and I are on different sides of most issues.”
Backholm first told the New York Times that Reade had confided in him about her allegations. The publication included a small portion of Backholm’s story towards the end of a backgrounder on Reade’s life.
“Ms. Reade also put The Times in touch with a number of supporters. Among them was a law school classmate, Joseph Backholm, who said she had told him about an assault by an unnamed senator when they were students together,” the story says. “Mr. Backholm has run an organization in Washington State that opposes same-sex marriage and has received funding from local donors to Mr. Trump.”
Backholm says that Times inaccurately reported details he told them: mainly, that he corrected Times reporter Lisa Lerer over text when she asked him whether Reade told him details of “the assault by a senator during law school.”
“She didn’t provide any details and didn’t say it was a senator,” Backholm texted back to Lerer, according to a screenshot provided to the DCNF. Lerer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Backholm said that he had seen reporting about allegations against Biden but did not realize that he knew Biden’s accuser until he saw Reade’s interview with Megyn Kelly, since he had known Reade by the name Tara McCabe.
I did an interview today with @llerer of the #NewYorkTimes about #TaraReade who has accused #JoeBiden of sexual assault. Since an article is being written in which I expect to be quoted, I want to tell the complete story for any who might be interested. 1 of 16
“I was not in DC in 1993 and I cannot say what happened between Biden and Tara,” Backholm wrote on Twitter following his interview with the New York Times. “But I can say that she made comments to me approximately 17 years ago that are consistent with what she is saying now.”
“And she did so in a context in which there was no obvious motive to lie. It was simply two law school friends talking about where we had come from and where we hoped to go.”
The two continued to correspond after law school through Christmas cards and social media, Backholm said, but when Reade moved back to California they eventually fell out of touch.
Backholm criticized media coverage of Reade’s allegations, emphasizing that such behavior is “what bullies do.” He emphasized that the #METOO movement and many politicians have spent years assuring the country that it is courageous to speak and stand up for oneself, promising support if survivors speak out.
“I think she actually believed that when they said that and those are the very same people who are now trying to destroy her life,” he added.
“I don’t know what mistakes she’s made in her life,” Backholm said, referring to media coverage of Reade’s academic credentials and her past. “I’m sure she’s made some just like I have made some but I think the way that she’s being treated in this environment is a bully tactic. And I was in a position to be able to you know stand with her and make sure she didn’t just get left out there flapping in the wind all by herself. So that’s why I did it.”
Backholm believes Reade was telling him the truth when she said she was sexually assaulted.
“No, I don’t think she was lying to me when she said that,” he said. “Now, do I know that? No. Do I know that it wasn’t a misstatement? You know, maybe she was referring to somebody else? I don’t know that either.”
“What I do know is that she said something then that is completely consistent with what she has said,” he added.
As authorities arrest pastors for holding Sunday services in defiance of social distancing orders, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that religious services are to be considered essential in his state.
Abbott issued an executive order relating to state-wide continuity of essential services and activities during the coronavirus pandemic. The order mandated that all Texans will minimize social gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household, and, among other statutes, clarified that religious services conducted in churches, congregations and houses of worship are to be considered essential services.
“‘Essential services’ shall consist of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship,” the order stated. “Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.”
The governor encouraged those involved in essential services to practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, sanitation, social distancing and working from home when possible.
Announcing the arrest of Dr. Ronald Howard-Browne, Pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church, who intentionally and repeatedly disregarded state and local public health orders, which put his congregation and our community in danger. pic.twitter.com/1gERVdzyIp
Abbott’s order came as authorities arrested pastors in Louisiana and Florida for holding Sunday services and bused large groups of people to attend the services.
Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran called Rev. Tony Spell of the Louisiana Life Tabernacle Church “reckless and irresponsible” for holding Sunday services, and Florida Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister called megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne’s actions “reckless disregard of public safety.”
Former 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry endorsed 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden in a statement Thursday.
The Biden campaign released a statement from Kerry in which the former Democratic nominee said Biden is “uniquely” suited for the role of defeating President Donald Trump, whom Kerry said “smashed apart” the world. Kerry ran for president against former President George W. Bush.
“I believe Joe Biden is the President our country desperately needs right now, not because I’ve known Joe so long, but because I know Joe so well,” Kerry said in the statement, according to the Hill.
“There’s never been a time more urgent for leadership at home that can work for the middle class and tackle existential issues like climate change where we are moving dangerously backwards,” Kerry added. “Joe is uniquely the person running for president who can beat Donald Trump and get to work on day one at home and in the world with no time to waste.”
Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan also endorsed Biden in November.
Former President Barack Obama has yet to endorse a candidate, though Biden has made it a point to emphasize his time serving as Obama’s vice president throughout his campaign.
Biden has attempted to explain Obama’s silence by telling reporters in April that he asked Obama not to endorse him.
“I asked President Obama not to endorse and he doesn’t want to — whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits,” he said.
Trump suggested in June that “there has to be some reason” why Obama has not endorsed Biden, saying Biden was lying.
“How [former Vice President Biden] doesn’t get President Obama to endorse him — there has to be some reason why he’s not endorsing him,” Trump told Hill.TV in June. “He was the vice president. They seem to have gotten along. And how President Obama’s not endorsing him is rather a big secret. Then he goes and lies and said, ‘I asked the president not to endorse me.’ Give me a break.”
A growing number of Millennials show support for communism and socialism, a survey from the Victims of Communism found.
The survey, conducted by the Victims of Communism and polled by the research and data firm YouGov, found that 70% of Millennials are likely to vote socialist and that one in three Millennials perceive communism as “favorable.” The survey is part of the Victims of Communism’s report “U.S. Attitudes Toward Socialism, Communism, and Collectivism,” which polled 2,100 people in the United States who were 16 and older with a margin of error of +/- 2.4%.
A little over half of the Millennials polled said the Declaration of Independence “guarantees freedom and equality” better than the Communist Manifesto.
“When we don’t educate our youngest generations about the historical truth of 100 million victims murdered at the hands of communist regimes over the past century, we shouldn’t be surprised at their willingness to embrace Marxist ideas,” Smith added. “We need to redouble our efforts to educate America’s youth about the history of communist regimes and the dangers of socialism today.”
Millennials polled also said they consider President Donald Trump the “biggest threat to world peace,” rating Trump as more dangerous to world peace than Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, or Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Ten percent of Millennials said Trump is “responsible for more deaths and human rights abuses” than mass-murder and Russian leader Joseph Stalin or notorious German dictator Adolf Hitler.
The book will tell the stories of women who have inspired the Clinton women – “women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.”
“This book is the continuation of a conversation the two of us have been having since I was little,” wrote Chelsea Clinton, according to the book’s Amazon description. “For me, too, my mom was a hero; so were my grandmothers. My early teachers were also women.”
“But I grew up in a world very different from theirs,” the Clinton daughter added. “My pediatrician was a woman, and so was the first mayor of Little Rock who I remember from my childhood. Most of my close friends’ moms worked outside the home as nurses, doctors, teachers, professors, and in business. And women were going into space and breaking records here on Earth.”