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South Carolina State Senator Josh Kimbrell #homophobia #transphobia #fundie wltx.com

Members of the Columbia's City Council are working to ban conversion therapy for people under the age of 18. In Spartanburg, SC, Senator Josh Kimbrell has requested the state's attorney general to block this ban if it is approved.

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Senator Kimbrell said he does not want people to be hurt, he just wants this ordinance to be invalidated.

"There are people of faith and there are people who have traditional views of the notion there's two genders — which I happen to hold to — and have traditional views even of human sexuality," Senator Kimbrell said. "They should not be forced to choose between their principles and running a medical practice. I think it's a massive overreach on the part of the City of Columbia. I think it's unconstitutional on its face, and I think it's the job of state government, whether that's folks like me and the Senate or the Attorney General to uphold the Constitution of the nation and the state, and prevent this kind of overreach by municipal government."

Ian Smith #quack wltx.com

After Krispy Kreme announced free doughnuts for those who get a COVID-19 vaccine, a gym owner in New Jersey is rewarding those who don't get vaccinated.

Ian Smith, who says he is a co-worker of the Atilis Gym located in Bellmawr, posted on social media that he plans to give free memberships to customers who don't get a COVID-19 vaccine.

"In light of @krispykreme giving free donuts for receiving the CVD shot, here at @TheAtilisGym we are giving out free memberships to all who don’t get vaccinated. We believe in health - the real way - exercise, good diet, plenty of Vitamin D, Zinc, and an environment to destress."

According to CBS Philadelphia, the gym opened in May 2020 and started a legal battle over whether the state's order for nonessential businesses to close was constitutional.

The gym repeatedly defied the shutdown order and was fined more than $130,000 last year.

Neil Rodgers #wingnut wltx.com

The owner of a Spartanburg County restaurant who decided they wouldn’t follow the governor’s mask mandate is now suing the State of South Carolina.

“The first weekend was our busiest weekend ever after you and I did this interview,” Neil Rodgers said to 7 News reporter Scottie Kay on Tuesday. “I sold almost 800 hamburgers that Friday.”

Neil Rodgers is the owner of Ike’s Korner Grille in Spartanburg – a restaurant that’s refusing to obey the governor’s order that all employees and customers must wear a mask inside, unless they are actively eating.

His customers don’t seem to mind. In fact, Rodgers told 7 News he’s had many people coming in from out of town just to participate.

“A big group came from Asheville, older people who came down to support us,” he said. “They loved that we weren’t wearing a mask and that we weren’t letting the government control our lives.”

But the fines for not following the executive order are starting to rack up for Rodgers.

“Spartanburg County has already given me one ticket. SLED has come four times,” he said. “I’ve got a $100 fine and a $500 fine. The Department of Revenue said, the next time they come, it’ll be $1,000 more; and, then, they’ll come and suspend my beer license for 45 days if I continue to do this.”

Rodgers said that’s why he decided to file a lawsuit and a motion for an injunction against the State and Governor Henry McMaster.

“Somebody had to put their foot down, and I wish it wouldn’t have been me, but I did,” he said.

Rodgers told 7 News he’s hoping this move will keep the fees from piling up and, more importantly, he said, he hopes it will stop the executive order from being enforced.

“To get rid of all this and everybody can get back to normal, because that’s what we all want,” Rodgers said. “I feel like it’s unconstitutional for the government to tell you what you can do. I mean, we live in America. We’re still Americans. It’s just getting ridiculous.”

Christ Teens with Disciples In Education #fundie wltx.com

'School Prayer Zone' signs up in Midlands
A local Christian non-profit is selling these familiar looking street signs to churches.
Author: Emily Correll, WLTX

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — 'School Prayer Zone' signs have been placed near schools in Columbia by a non-profit.

These 'School Prayer Zone' signs have been popping up in the Midlands, sparking response from the South Carolina Department of Transportation as well as Midlands residents.

After word of these signs circulated, SCDOT issued a statement.

In the statement, SC Secretary of transportation Christy Hall said, “The agency advised the group that the signs could not be placed on the public rights-of-way, nor could the design of the signs appear to be a traditional road sign in shape, color or otherwise in order to avoid confusing motorists. These signs are privately funded and placed on private property.”

The non-profit group that is producing these signs is called Christ Teens with Disciples in Education and sells the signs to churches for $714.

We tweeted asking our viewers thoughts on these signs and here are some of the responses we received:

Joe Darby (@josephdarby) replied: "Thou shalt not be obnoxious and “in your face” - that’s not Christian."

Kat Truax (@kat_truax) wrote: "I think it's a waste of private money, but as long as the school, teachers, and admin don't pushing their religion onto my kids it is fine. I certainly hope "prayer zones" aren't "Christian only" prayer zones."

Robert D. Miller (@JDMiller2010) replied: "I can't imagine having strong feelings about it one way or the other. I certainly can't imagine being mad about people praying."

What are your thoughts? Tweet us @WLTX what you think about these signs.

Various residents of Tega Cay, Congressman Ralph Norman #fundie wltx.com

South Carolina city to restore 'Lord' to police memorial after controversy
City Manager Charlie Funderburk told NBC Charlotte he’s heard from people across the country about the issue.
Author: Alex Shabad, WCNC Staff

TEGA CAY, S.C. — Tega Cay announced Friday that after careful consideration and much conversation, the city council made the decision to restore a controversial fallen officer monument.

Full statement from the city:

After careful consideration and much conversation with people on both sides of the discussion, City Council has made the decision that the Police Officer's Prayer will be restored to its original condition and returned to the Fallen Officers’ Memorial located at the new police station. We want to thank everyone for voicing your opinion, as it’s not always easy to do so on such a sensitive subject. As Mr. Dunn stated before Council July 15th, none of what has transpired was an attack on our Police Department or anyone’s faith. Our City Council and citizens have always been strong supporters of the men and women in blue. We’d like to thank Mr. Dunn and the others who spoke before Council. The respectful exchange of ideas and opinions is truly what makes local government extraordinary. This was a tough week in Tega Cay. It is our hope that we can now move forward together and continue to be the strong, welcoming community that we have always been known for. Regardless of our different viewpoints, our people are what truly makes this City such a wonderful place.

On Tuesday night, the city announced they decided to remove the monument altogether while they look for a solution that expresses support of "those who risk their lives every day."

Before that, the city decided to remove the word "Lord", which appeared three times on the monument, after backlash from the community. Then, social media began buzzing with others who disagreed with the city’s action.

The monument was originally placed at the fallen officers memorial outside the police department. A police spokesman said the controversy began when the department started getting complaints about the religious references, so city leaders had a meeting and decided to remove them.

In a statement released Tuesday, city officials say they received comments both locally and nationally in response to the monument.

"We attempted to find a compromise but failed as our community has further divided. In an attempt to find a resolution, we have upset parties on both sides of this issue and, for that, we are truly sorry," the statement reads.

The Tega Cay Facebook page had dozens of comments about the monument. Some questioned the legality of having the monument on public property.

"It’s nice, but why is there a Christian bible verse and prayer on it? This violates separation of church and state," one woman posted.

Others like longtime resident, Charles Parker, had a different view.

"People on social media complain, and I’m saying, get a life," Parker said. "We were organized as a Christian nation, and I don’t see that that’s really a problem of separation of church and state."

Even Congressman Ralph Norman weighed in, posting a video on Facebook.

"You know the last time I checked, it was 'One nation under God,' to have this scratched out is sad, to say the least," Congressman Norman said in the video. "That’s why we’re fighting in Washington, D.C. to put God back in public to buildings like this to put God back in our public schools."

Tega Cay’s city manager, Charlie Funderburk, told NBC Charlotte he’s heard from people across the country about the controversy over the monument, which was donated to the police department by the Tega Cay Women’s Club.

“We upset a lot of people, we screwed up, we are owning that,” he said. “It wasn’t the intent, we weren’t trying to disparage U.S. Christian faith or anything of that nature, not even close.”

Funderburk said the monument was meant to honor law enforcement and modeled after other monuments that appear across the country at various levels of government.

However, after seeking legal advice, the city decided to remove the references. Funderburk released the following statement to NBC Charlotte:

The City of Tega Cay and our Police Department understand that not everyone agrees with the religious references that were on the monument located in the Fallen Officers Memorial at our Police Station. We also understand that just as many people are not in agreement that we have removed those references. There was never any intent to hold any group in higher regard than another. This monument was modeled after other monuments that appear across the country at various levels of government honoring law enforcement officers, military veterans and others whose duty is to protect and serve. Be that as it may, after seeking legal advice on the matter and after discussing it at length with City Council, we have made the decision to remove those references. We are public servants and want to make certain that all members of the public, regardless of what their religious beliefs may or may not be, understand that we are here to serve everyone. They will be welcomed into our facilities, whether it be the Police Station or City Hall, they will be treated fairly and with the respect they are owed by us. As the two sides of this issue continue to debate their stance we hope they will do so civilly and respectfully.

City leaders said a bible verse will be kept off the monument when it's returned.

Miracle Hill Ministries #fundie wltx.com

(Submitter's note: This is a follow-up to this story.)

Woman claims discrimination by SC foster agency over her religion

Author: By MEG KINNARD Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Catholic mother says a federally funded South Carolina foster agency abruptly stopped working with her and won't allow her to foster children because she's "not the right kind of Christian."

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday, Aimee Maddonna and her lawyers say Miracle Hill Ministries is unconstitutionally discriminating against non-Protestants. The lawsuit challenges a waiver granted this year to the Greenville agency, which previously has come under fire for denying services to same-sex couples and non-Christian families.

Last year, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster requested a waiver exempting the state from an Obama-era regulation preventing publicly licensed and funded foster care agencies from servicing specific religions. That request was granted last month.

But years before Miracle Hill's actions toward non-Christians became an issue, Maddonna says the agency first encouraged her to become a foster parent but then cut off ties when they realized the Simpsonville mother is Catholic and not a "born-again" Protestant, as the agency's rules require.

Maddonna first reached out to Miracle Hill in 2014, when the mother of three decided that it was time to welcome more children into her home. Maddonna, who grew up in a household full of foster children, many with special needs, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview she wanted her children to be able to develop the same foster sibling bonds she had.

"I wanted to open up my family and my home to kids in need," Maddonna said. "I have the view that every child has the ability to enrich the lives of adults around them, too."

For weeks, Maddonna says conversations continued with Miracle Hill officials, who set up a final interview before she was to be approved as a foster parent. In a conversation ahead of that meeting, Maddonna says she was asked to give the name of her church.

"By the name, you can tell it's a Catholic parish," Maddonna said. She says the Miracle Hill representative "immediately responded back with, 'I'm sorry, we only employ volunteers and mentors who are Protestant Christian.'"

"I've never considered myself a religious minority until that moment," Maddonna said. "I had to tell my kids that, because we're Catholic, we can't take these kids out for ice cream and cheer them on at their games. I was devastated."

In the last fiscal year, Miracle Hill received nearly $600,000 in state and federal funding, the organization's president has said.

Rachel Laser - president and CEO for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, whose lawyers are handling Maddonna's case - says that despite the waiver's specific language concerning Christianity, Miracle Hill is unconstitutionally discriminating against non-Protestants.

"This is a problem that the government has caused. If Miracle Hill were a private entity not accepting state and federal money, then they could decide with their private money whom they served," Laser said. "Aimee isn't the right kind of Christian, so they don't serve her."

Named in the lawsuit are Gov. McMaster, the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Spokespeople for McMaster and the federal Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately return messages Friday seeking comment on the lawsuit.

On an online form used to request more information about the foster care program, Miracle Hill describes itself as "a non-denominational, Christian organization based upon a protestant statement of faith." An informational sheet provided to AP describes a viable foster parent as "a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as expressed by a personal testimony and Christian conduct," going on to note further that the applicant must be an active participant of a protestant congregation.

An online frequently-asked-questions section notes that, while Jews or Catholics "wouldn't be a good fit for Christian leadership roles at Miracle Hill, such as in our foster-care and mentoring programs," the organization can help connect them with other groups where they can serve.

Maddonna recently reached out to Miracle Hill again, to see whether their policy had changed, but she said she received no response.

"When most people think of people being turned away, they think of equally despicable circumstances where a gay couple or a Jewish couple is turned away," Maddonna said. "If you don't protect the rights of everybody, it sets a precedent that will eventually touch on you."

Mike Pitts, Jonathon Hill, and Ashley Trantham #fundie wltx.com

Bill Would Let South Carolina Secede Over Guns

Author: By MEG KINNARD Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina debated seceding from the Union more than 150 years ago, a decision that ultimately led to the Civil War. Now, the topic has come up again, amid a national debate over firearms and gun rights.

A trio of state House Republicans on Thursday quietly introduced a bill that would allow lawmakers to debate seceding from the U.S. "if the federal government confiscates legally purchased firearms in this State."

The measure sponsored by Reps. Mike Pitts, Jonathon Hill and Ashley Trantham has no real chance this session. The deadline for bills to move from one chamber to the other is April 10.

Word of Faith Fellowship #fundie wltx.com

Church Stoked Tithing with Unemployment Scam, Ex-Members Say

SPINDALE, NORTH CAROLINA (AP) - Former members of an evangelical North Carolina church say their leader coerced congregants into filing false unemployment claims after the faltering economy threatened weekly tithes from church-affiliated companies. The members say company owners who were leaders in the Word of Faith Fellowship church would file unemployment claims on employees' behalf, but that the employees would continue working.

Eleven former followers told The Associated Press that they participated in the plan. They estimated that the fraudulent claims would have drawn payments totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2008 and 2013.

State officials say such claims would be illegal, and the former congregants said they had been interviewed by state and federal investigators.

The unemployment allegations were uncovered as part of the AP's lengthy, ongoing investigation into the church, based in Spindale, North Carolina.

Debbie Duerksen Flatt #racist wltx.com

Again hateful led minorities have gotten political leaders to bow down to whims. We cannot change history....Flag was NOT Hate it was a battle flag that the southern states wanted to be free to sell their goods to other countries and keep the money here, realize haters that more Northerners owned slaves than Southerners. Also many free blacks fought fir the South.Lincoln brought up the slave issue so he could actually send all slaves to south America. So the Whites are not hateful led if they want to keep symbol of American Southern History, But this country needs to stop bowing down to every offended entity and grow a pair and stand up for the unoffended majority. All those that are offended by every little thing need to grow a pair or put on big people pants. There are many things that offend many people but they don't go for the temper tantrum crybaby mode.

Carolina Chick #racist wltx.com

(Carolina takes down the Confederate Flag)

I'm sure Dylann Roof is in his cell rejoicing that his goals were "accomplished" behind bars. What will be next because someone is "offended?" How about do something about these kids AND adults walking around with sagging pants? I don't want to see there nasty underwear while standing in line at the bank, store, etc no more than they would desire to see mine!!!1 Isn't that indecent exposure? What about BET? Miss Black USA? NAACP? Association of Black Accountants? Assoc of Blacks in Criminal Justice? Black Engineers? Jack and Jill of America? I'm offended by these race-specific organizations. I bet if we held the Miss White USA pageant, formed White Entertainment TV, Assoc of White Engineers, Drs.,,etc., we would be called racist! I'm sick of our state's so called leadership,