Government Shutdowns: Political Extortion, Spiritual Coercion and Congressional Terrorism

“Extortion: Noun: 1) An act or instance of extorting, 2) Law, the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority 3) oppressive or illegal exaction, as of excessive price or interest 4) anything extorted”   (

On this day, September 11, 2015, as the nation pauses to remember the innocent citizens and first responders who died in New York City, a field in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his band of far right-wing bullies are once again gearing up to shut down the government to force their ideology on this country. They would be horrified to be compared to extortionists and terrorists but they clearly fit the description. Their extortion shut-down plan unless federal funding for Planned Parenthood ends because women can obtain an abortion there clearly holds the executive branch hostage and imposes collective punishment on anyone who gets in their way.

So who will suffer if the federal paychecks stop? First, the entire federal workforce including thousands of veterans who have, ironically, shed blood for the bullies right to turn our precious democracy upside down to accomplish their mission. Then, the rest of us as the economic damage trickles down.

As renegade Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis recently learned, a personal or collective agenda does not entitle one to break the law. The federal judge who jailed her also sent his message to the extreme Christian right: this is a democracy where we obey the rule of law, not a theocracy where men get to invent and then impose on others their version of “God’s law.”

Perhaps a short history lesson is in order. Osama Bin Laden sent the September 11th hijackers on a divine suicide mission he proclaimed was ordained by Allah. Throughout history, the aggressor’s interpretation of “God’s Law” is offered as the divine stamp of approval for any agenda the foot solders want to accomplish. ISIS tortures, beheads or burns alive anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who opposes their murderous desecration of the Holy Koran as they declare to the world that their barbaric version of Sharia law is the only interpretation and that Allah is the only God– as they kill in His name–Insha’Allah—God willing.

Congressional extremist Christians have their own version of Insha’Allah. They cherry-pick scriptures to back-up their agendas, conveniently ignoring the fact that the Holy Bible is full of contradictions. For every condemnation to hell for sinning, for every description of God’s vengeful violence and killing, (the Bible reports God wiping out most of humanity in the flood ) there are opposite edicts—God’s all- encompassing love for humanity, Jesus’ teaching to love others as yourself, forgive others as God forgives you, do not judge and give to the poor.

The sanctimonious congressional puppets of the religious right have declared themselves the arbiters of the most personal, life-altering decision a woman can make. Emboldened by their ultra-conservative base, they are determined to batter the President and the rest of us into submission by tyrannical political extortion, spiritual coercion and congressional terrorism. Having borrowed a page from the ISIS playbook, they want to destroy Planned Parenthood which they view as an affront to God’s law by threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. Like ISIS, they are using threats and intimidation to put their agenda and their cause above the law and are attempting to force others who do not share their extreme ideology to submit. I’m not a lawyer, but perhaps Attorney General Loretta Lynch ought to consider whether the innovative government shutdown weapon engineered by Senator Cruz, a lawyer himself, is a violation of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 41 Section 872: Extortion by Officers or Employees of the United States.

As for abortion, I’m a Christian and this is my opinion from a spiritual standpoint. There is no credible argument against the obvious—abortion is killing. The sixth of the Ten Commandments is very clear: “Thou shalt not kill.” However, the sins of another person are none of my business and are certainly none of the government’s business.  Governments are invested in law enforcement.  Abortion is legal, so there is no need for the government to be involved in a woman’s most private legal decision. If a woman who has an abortion has sinned, that judgment will come from God, not from me and certainly not from the congressional Republican lynch mob and the religious right who are determined to harm the entire economy to force their will on the nation. In a democracy, no one is above the law.