Wednesday, 22 March 2017


There is no rational reason for the murderous attack in London on March 22, 2017.   The perpetrators know that violence will not change the local government or UK society.   Four people died including the assailant, and 40 others injured.   Terrorism will never defeat British values of democracy and freedom.   Such behaviour is irrefutable evidence of the raw hate and pointless lashing out from Islam.   Canada’s similar attack on our Parliament Hill arose from Islamist fanaticism.   ISIS claimed responsibility.  The attack took place on the first anniversary of the Islamic attack in Brussels which took 32 lives.  We may feel helpless, yet in another way, we all can take action, by denouncing Islam in all its forms in our local sphere of influence.   There has been enough death and mayhem since 632 AD throughout the world, to conclude that Islam has no social redeeming value.   The millions that have been enslaved, murdered, and culturally squashed by this political-religious ideology, speaks for itself for what it is.   From the fruit, one understands the true nature of tree.   In our sense of powerlessness, we can responsibly respond, by showing courage to denounce Islam anywhere and everywhere.  PF

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Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the attack in London, United Kingdom

March 22, 2017  Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the attack in London, United Kingdom (U.K.):

“We strongly condemn today’s attack in London. I was shocked and saddened to learn of the innocent people who were killed and injured as a result of this cowardly attack.

“Canada and the U.K. are the closest of friends and allies. Our friendship is based on shared values and history – indeed, Canada’s Parliament is a descendant of the Chamber targeted this morning.

“Today’s attack on the U.K. Parliament is an attack on democracies around the world.

“The Canadian Parliament withstood a similar attack not so long ago by those who sought to instil fear and divide Canadians against themselves. Instead, Canadians came together. I am confident the British people will do the same, and will emerge from their grief stronger and more united than ever before.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer our full support to Prime Minister May and to the people of the United Kingdom. We stand ready to offer all possible assistance to the British government, to do what we can to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act.

“Canadians stand united with the British people in the fight against terrorism. We will continue to work together with the U.K. and all our allies to show the world that freedom and democracy will always triumph.”


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

What is wrong with Motion M-103 ??


(compiled from many sources)
“I am looking forward to working with all sides of the House to ensure this motion passes so we can do the work of confronting racism wherever it lies” stated Iqra Khalid, Liberal Member of Parliament for “Mississauga–Erin Mills”.

The Parliamentary Motion M-103 reproduced below, represents the kind of subtle incrementalism that uses western human rights sentiments to advance Islam.   It is following the command of Muhammed, to use whatever means to work toward the day of a world-wide submission to an Islamic Caliphate.   It is the driving idea behind the ISIS war.   The Islamic agenda goes beyond reason, intellectual discussion, or even theological debate.   There is an insidious driving spirit about it, deep in the bones.  

Irqa Khalid MP is either a victim caught up in cultural Islam, or a classic believer.   Most citizens of Western nations are lawful good people; they want to believe in the inherent goodness of people.    They want to believe that most issues can be solved with good will, communication, tolerance, positive intent and low voices.   However, Islam has proven over the past thousand-plus years, that it cannot be reasoned with, cannot be improved, modulated, and it cannot be ignored.   Islam is a cancer; the problem is that there is no chemo for Islam.

However, it seems that a lot of ordinary folk in Canada seem to get it, about how subversive is this nice sounding M-103 motion.   In a recent poll, more than 7-in-10 favour amending this motion in some way.   To help understand, one can go to source.   The motion’s sponsor is an MP who behaves thoroughly Islamic, and who cannot see the world except through the Islamic lens.   Clearly, the intent of her motion is not to address issues of discrimination, but rather to silence anyone who speaks out against Islamists in Canada.  

For instance, Irqa Khalid was President of the Muslim Student Association when she was a student at York University.   The Muslim Student Association was founded by adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1963.   The Muslim Student Association has a series of alumni who have become suicide bombers, ISIS fighters and ISIS propagandists.   MP Iqra Khalid cannot advance the cause of extremist Islam on one hand, and then complain about Islamophobia on the other.   Her direct connections to Islamist front groups means she must either publicly disavow extremist groups such as Jamaah e Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood, or withdraw her motion.

Khalid was born in Rukanpur, a village in the Rahim Yar Khan District of Punjab, Pakistan.  She immigrated to Canada from England in the 1990s, and attended York University, graduating in 2007 with a degree in criminology and professional writing.   She later attended Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, and began working as a legal professional for the city government of Mississauga.   Ms Khalid is the daughter of Dr. Hafiz Khalid, a long-time associate of the ISNA and formerly a vocal supporter of Jamaat-e-Islami. 

Iqra Khalid appears duplicitous.   She is typical of the Islamist that use political Entryism (the tactic of joining an existing group in large numbers to change its policies) to infiltrate Canada’s political system.   She has supported front groups which espouse Islamist extremism, such as the Muslim Student Association, yet at the same time claims to be a victim of the invented Islamophobia.

Canada would be best served if Iqra Khadid MP would either directly denounce the Muslim Brotherhood, the ISNA and the Muslim Student Association, or admit that she is a supporter of extremist Islamists – including those that advocate for Sharia Law in Canada.

Well-meaning Canadians, ignorant of Islam’s global goals, have not heard some of the terms used by Muslims.   Islam’s world view is summed up in two phrases: dar al-Islam, realm of Islam, and dar al-Harb, realm of war.   In the realm of Islam, all members are in full submission to Allah and subject to sharia law in their activities.

The other phase: realm of war is just that, Islam is basically at war with the rest of the world.  And since Islam operates on tribal warfare rules, the rules of engagement can be a mystery to the Western mind.   Canadians have tried to segment Islam into the “moderate” and “radical” wings, which fits the Canadian “multicultural” perspective.   But in Islam, the fringe element is not the radicals, but rather the moderates who must fear for their lives if they stray too far from the interests of the tribe.

When Islam puts on a moderate, peaceful, loving face, it can only be for the purpose of Taqiyya.   That is the Muslim doctrine that it is permissible to lie and deceive the members of the “realm of war,” if it advances the cause of Islam.   If one consider the horrors committed by Muslims against other Muslims and non-Muslims in the last few decades, it is obvious how this world view plays out.   When one connects the drive for global conquest with the promise of infinite pleasure in paradise, suicide bombers, and overwhelming immigration infiltration, make sense.
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M-103   Systemic racism and religious discrimination
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and (c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making, (ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

PM's backtracking on electoral reform a positive move


Those who want to manipulate the present voting system are seeking after un-earned power...admit it.   However, the consequences of varied formulas, will be poorer governance for the country, and that should matter more than anything else.   Our nation would not be better off, and likely could descend to political weakness with jigged systems.   The international challenges are too great, for Canada to shoot itself in the foot.   The recent issue began with the big lie, that the voting system was broken and needed "reform".   Our voting system works just fine, and Elections Canada has sufficient power to tweak things along the way.  We must be vigilant about ‘what’ is being proposed, as well as ‘who’ is doing the proposing.  PF



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PM's backtracking on electoral reform a positive move

Lydia Miljan  -  Taylor Jackson   Vancouver Sun  February 2, 2017

The federal government is walking away from its campaign promise to change the way Canadians vote in federal elections. In his recently released mandate letter to Karina Gould, the newly appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions, Prime Minister Trudeau said that “changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

The prime minister justified his change in attitude by saying that “a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”

Changing the electoral system was always going to be a complicated task. Had a referendum taken place — and it should have — Canadians needed to fully understand that while there may be benefits to other electoral systems, there are also drawbacks.

Consider a proportional representation (PR) system, which the special parliamentary committee recommended in December. While many may know about the potential benefit of distributing seats in parliament more closely to vote shares, there are also costs.

For example, a recent study found that a move to PR would likely lead to higher government spending and larger deficits (borrowing) in Canada. Indeed, the study found that the average size of central governments from 2000 to 2014 in countries with PR was almost 25 per cent larger than in countries with majoritarian/plurality election rules similar to what Canada currently employs. The study also found that PR countries tend to finance this extra spending by running larger deficits.



The reason why a PR system would lead to more government spending and higher deficits is that PR systems tend to elect more parties to the legislature, thereby increasing the likelihood for coalition governments. In order to form coalitions, larger parties must gain the support of smaller parties, often by capitulating on their main issues, which leads to higher levels of government spending.

Moreover, smaller parties in PR systems are able to exert a disproportionate amount of power at the expense of the preferences of the majority of voters who didn’t vote for such parties.  

Consider the drawbacks of another system — the alternative vote (AV) or ranked ballots — which was also a reform option. This system has the potential to reduce competition in our elections, a key attribute of a healthy democratic system.

For example, another recent study examined the impact of adopting AV electoral rules on Canada’s seven federal elections between 1997 and 2015.

The study found that only one party — the Liberals — would have gained seats in every election. In fact, they would have gained an average of 19 seats per election. To a lesser extent, the NDP would have increased their seat totals in more recent elections. Only the Conservatives would have lost seats every election.

The study also found that AV electoral rules would have changed the outcomes in a number of elections, including in 2006 when instead of a Conservative minority government, the Liberals would have won a minority.  

Before any changes are made, or any referendums held, on this issue, Canadians must understand that many of the proposed alternatives come with drawbacks. Changing the electoral system in a hasty manner was never going to be in the interest of Canadians.

The government should be congratulated for its willingness to make a tough political decision that is in the best interests of all Canadians.

Lydia Miljan is an associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. Taylor Jackson is an analyst at the Fraser Institute.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Donald Trump spoke in Washington DC on Thursday Feb 2, 2017.

Donald Trump spoke in Washington DC on Thursday Feb 2, 2017.   Below is an edited portion of the transcript.  You will never see this on CBC, even though the CBC played some other comical parts where Trump was joking around.
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Trump said: This gathering is a testament to the power of faith, and is one of the great customs of our nation.    I hope to be here seven more times with you.
But most importantly, today I want to thank the American people.   Your faith and prayers have sustained me and inspired me through some very, very tough times.   All around America, I have met amazing people whose words of worship and encouragement have been a constant source of strength.
What I hear most often as I travel the country are five words that never, ever fail to touch my heart, that's "I am praying for you." I hear it so often, I am praying for you, Mr. President.
No one has inspired me more in my travels than the families of the United States military. Men and women who have put their lives on the line everyday for their country and their countrymen.  I just came back yesterday, from Dover Air Force Base, to join the family of Chief William "Ryan" Owens as America's fallen hero was returned home.
He died in defense of our nation.  He gave his life in defense of our people. Our debt to him and our debt to his family is eternal and everlasting. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."   We will never forget the men and women who wear the uniform, believe me.
From generation to generation, their vigilance has kept our liberty alive. Our freedom is won by their sacrifice and our security has been earned with their sweat and blood and tears. God has blessed this land to give us such incredible heroes and patriots. They are very, very special and we are going to take care of them.
Our soldiers understand that what matters is not party or ideology or creed, but the bonds of loyalty that link us all together as one. America is a nation of believers.  In towns all across our land, it's plain to see what we easily forget -- so easily we forget this, that the quality of our lives is not defined by our material success, but by our spiritual success.
I will tell you that and I tell you that from somebody that has had material success and knows tremendous numbers of people with great material success.   Many of those people are very, very miserable, unhappy people.
And I know a lot of people without that, but they have great families.  They have great faith; they don't have money, at least, not nearly to the extent; and they're happy.  Those, to me, are the successful people, I have to tell you.
I was blessed to be raised in a churched home. My mother and father taught me that to whom much is given, much is expected.  I was sworn in on the very Bible from which my mother would teach us as young children, and that faith lives on in my heart every single day.
The people in this room come from many, many backgrounds.  You represent so many religions and so many views.  But we are all united by our faith, in our creator and our firm knowledge that we are all equal in His eyes.  We are not just flesh and bone and blood, we are human beings with souls.  Our republic was formed on the basis that freedom is not a gift from government, but that freedom is a gift from God.

It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, the God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Jefferson asked, can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God. Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that, remember.
Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us, and the world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways. And I've never seen it so much and so openly as since I took the position of president.
We have seen unimaginable violence carried out in the name of religion. Acts of wantonness.   Horrors on a scale that defy description.   Terrorism is a fundamental threat to religious freedom.   It must be stopped and it will be stopped.  It may not be pretty for a little while.  It will be stopped.
Things will be different.  We have seen peace loving Muslims brutalized, victimized, murdered and oppressed by ISIS killers.   We have seen threats of extermination against the Jewish people.  We have seen a campaign of ISIS and genocide against Christians, where they cut of heads.  Not since the Middle Ages have we seen that.   They drown people in steel cages.   Nobody's seen this for many, many years.
All nations have a moral obligation to speak out against such violence.   All nations have a duty to work together to confront it and to confront it viciously if we have to.
So I want to express clearly today, to the American people, that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land.   America must forever remain a tolerant society where all face are respected and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure.
We have to feel safe and secure.  In recent days, we have begun to take necessary action to achieve that goal.  Our nation has the most generous immigration system in the world.  But there are those that would exploit that generosity, to undermine the values that we hold so dear.  We need security.
There are those who would seek to enter our country for the purpose of spreading violence, or oppressing other people based upon their faith or their lifestyle; it’s not right.  We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation.  You look all over the world and you see what's happening.
So in the coming days, we will develop a system to help ensure that those admitted into our country fully embrace our values of religious and personal liberty; and that they reject any form of oppression and discrimination.  We want people to come into our nation, but we want people to love us and to love our values, not to hate us and to hate our values.
We will be a safe country, we will be a free country and we will be a country where all citizens can practice their beliefs without fear of hostility or a fear of violence.   America will flourish, as long as our liberty, and in particular, our religious liberty is allowed to flourish.
America will succeed, as long as our most vulnerable citizens -- and we have some that are so vulnerable -- have a path to success.  And America will thrive, as long as we continue to have faith in each other and faith in God.

That faith in God has inspired men and women to sacrifice for the needy, to deploy to wars overseas, and to lock arms at home, to ensure equal rights for every man, woman and child in our land.   It's that faith that sent the pilgrims across the oceans, the pioneers across the plains, and the young people all cross America, to chase their dreams.   They are chasing their dreams; we are going to bring those dreams back.
As long as we have God, we are never, ever alone.  Whether it's the soldier on the night watch, or the single parent on the night shift, God will always give us solace and strength, and comfort.   We need to carry on and to keep carrying on.
For us here in Washington, we must never, ever stop asking God for the wisdom to serve the public, according to his will. That's why President Eisenhower and Senator Carlson had the wisdom to gather together 64 years ago, to begin this truly great tradition.   But that's not all they did together.  
Let me tell you the rest of the story.   Just one year later, Senator Carlson was among the members of Congress to send to the president's desk a joint resolution that added, "Under God," to our Pledge of Allegiance.  It's a great thing.  Because that's what we are, and that is what we will always be, and that is what our people want; one beautiful nation, under God.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Anti-Semitism still alive in BC


Can one believe that in 2017, a Canadian Institution of higher learning is still engaged in Anti-Semitism, discrimination, and a follower of fake news etc.   There was a polite protest, and in response, a very weak apology and correction.   However, one must ask what is in the water that this institution is drinking.   Where do such outrageous attitudes come from?   There is a deep problem.   We are not living in 1933 Nazi Germany.   Certainly, social awareness, human decency, and human rights laws, have evolved since then?   I suppose not, at the Island School of Building Arts (ISBA) British Columbia.   Since when did hate behaviour require “significant thought and listening to all interested parties” for corrective action? PF

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from CIJA

Dear Supporter:

This morning, I was absolutely outraged to read the news that an Israeli applicant to the Island School of Building Arts (ISBA) in British Columbia was told that it was refusing all applications from Israel due to “conflict and illegal settlement activity in the region”.

In my thirty years of working for our community, I have never come across a single incident of a Canadian school adopting such a policy. This is why I wanted to ensure we had an accurate understanding of the facts of the incident. CIJA’s team in Vancouver quickly contacted the school to express our deep concern and determine if the school had a policy of boycotting Israeli applicants.

Shockingly, in its reply to CIJA’s intervention, the school openly admitted that they boycotted Israeli applicants – and that they are reversing this policy immediately. The final exchange between the school and our Pacific Region Director, Nico Slobinsky, may be read below.

This incident has seized and unified our community, and we note that other community organizations engaged and took action parallel to our efforts. While we are pleased that swift intervention has led to a positive outcome, this incident is emblematic of the dangers of BDS. I won’t mince words: this was a disgusting and shameful attempt to ban an Israeli simply for being Israeli. We cannot and will not let such blatant discrimination go unchallenged.

This incident also affirms the importance of relationship-building with elected officials at all levels. We are thankful that we have such a strong champion for expanding BC-Israel ties in the Government of BC. We have raised this matter with officials in the BC Ministry of Advanced Education. We will update them accordingly, continue to voice our alarm regarding the fact that this school had such a policy in the first place, and explore additional avenues of accountability.

At the same time, the rapid nature of today’s developments reminds me that the world moves faster than ever before. In a digital age in which a single individual or incident can garner international headlines in minutes, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant and strategic in identifying, exposing, and confronting those who seek to isolate the Jewish State. 

Sincerely, Shimon Koffler Fogel   CIJA CEO

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Response from the Island School of Building Arts

Mr. Slobinsky,

After significant thought and listening to all interested parties, ISBA has decided to rescind any restriction placed on accepting students from Israel and apologize for any inconvenience.

ISBA remains acceptant to all and will continue to do so without restrictions.

Regards  Patricia Rokosh

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Letter from CIJA to the Island School of Building Arts

We write to express our deep concern about emerging reports on print and social media to the effect that an Israeli student has been denied an application to study at your school due to “conflict and illegal settlement activity in the (Middle East) region”. If this is indeed the case, we would like you to inform us of how and by whom was this decision made? It appears that ISBA is actively discriminating against Israeli nationals based on their place of origin, ancestry, and/or religion.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community. We combat antisemitism and discrimination in all its forms and advocate for fundamental rights and freedoms.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully Yours, Nico Slobinsky  Director, CIJA, Pacific Region

Jason Z. Murray  Pacific Region Chair, CIJA

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Friday January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  As Co-Presidents of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD), a CIJA affiliate, we personally invite you to help us commemorate the victims of the Shoah. 

CJHSD has joined CIJA and the World Jewish Congress in what will be the largest global Holocaust commemoration ever. Please join hundreds of thousands around the world who have already participated in the We Remember campaign. It’s easy. Just take a photo of you, your family and your friends holding a sign that says ‘We Remember’ and then share it on social media with the hashtag #WeRemember. You can download a sign here.   http://www.cija.ca/we-remember-campaign/

We, the Survivors, remember. How can those of us who witnessed firsthand the most barbaric and horrific acts against our people ever forget? We also remember, with gratitude, the many families who were honoured as Righteous Among the Nations for their courage and heroism. 

As the number of Survivors dwindles, it is more important than ever that the horrors of the Shoah remain present in the public consciousness so they are never repeated. As Survivors, we’ve drawn enormous strength from the outpouring of support demonstrated through commemoration activities in Canada and around the world.

We must pass the torch of remembrance to the next generation. Please reach out to friends, schools, churches, synagogues, youth organizations, and community leaders and encourage them to participate in the We Remember campaign.   

Together, let us renew our collective vow: Never Again. 

Sincerely, 

Hank Rosenbaum and Sidney Zoltak

Co-Presidents, Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD)


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Rona Ambrose Speaks  

January 2017  Rona Ambrose   Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
With the arrival of a new year comes a certain level of optimism and excitement for what lies ahead.
But troubling news has come to light that I felt compelled to share with you.   News that not only affects us, but future generations of Canadians.
Remember when Stephen Harper warned us that Justin Trudeau would let deficits spiral out of control?  The Liberals laughed!   They said it was preposterous – all they were proposing were “modest” deficits of “only” $10 billion per year.
But over the Christmas break, Finance Canada quietly released their latest long-term economic and fiscal forecast.   What’s in store for Canadian taxpayers now?  Annual budget deficits for the next quarter century.
Analysts predict the bigger deficits could lead to the collapse of our economy.   In 2015, our Conservative government proudly balanced the budget. Since then, Trudeau has implemented terrible fiscal policies.   This will culminate in $1 trillion in federal debt in the next 15 years.   And $1.5 trillion by 2050.   Not so funny now, is it?   It is often easy to disregard the content of these emails as just regular politicking, business as usual.   But this is something new.   
The seriousness of what Justin Trudeau is doing to our country can’t possibly be understated.   He is mortgaging the future of our country.   He is saddling our children, and their children, with debt.  (it has to be paid back with interest which can crowd out money needed for health-care and pensions)
Help us to bring fiscal common sense back to Ottawa.   Our Conservative policies allowed us to balance the budget in 2015.   And we had a plan to erase Canada’s debt within 25 years.   But now we’re facing generations of debt.   And for what?   Trudeau’s promised infrastructure projects are at a standstill, full-time permanent job growth is non-existent, and the economy has stalled.
I’ll be blunt: Trudeau’s plan to stimulate the economy by spending more has failed.   Canadians deserve better!   Canadians deserve a government willing to make the hard choices necessary to ensure prosperity in our economy.   We are the only party ready, willing, and able to keep Canada on track.   Support us, so we can fight to save the economy of tomorrow.
Sincerely,   Rona Ambrose,   Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Religion Plays the Role

“the presidency of Trump — and how religion does or doesn’t play a role — is expected to captivate the country in 2017.” 

The article below touches on this, that reveals why the American “big media” missed the grassroots voter surge for Trump.   Canadians were surprised at the election results, because the media, does not sympathetically report on the emotional issues at the “religious belief level”.   Trump supporters, had enough of the leftie moralizing and behavioral hypocrisy.   They held their noses and voted for Donald, as they recoiled from the government legacy.   The prospect of Hillary, meant more of the same, and the ideas of Bernie followers in her camp, sealed the deal, as voters recoiled.   Sarah writes about what really moves votes.

Here’s what we think will be the major religion stories of 2017.  By Sarah Pulliam Bailey January 3, 2017  Washington Post
The new year could be turbulent for religion in America.   Several hot-button issues — including immigration, abortion, poverty, health care, gay rights and education  —will put religion near the center of public life and debate.
But the issue that could especially flare up?   In a Trump administration, “religious freedom” is expected to either flourish — or come under attack — depending on who defines religious freedom.
In a divided, angry America, religious freedom is frequently seen through the lens of the “culture wars,” says Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum.   Once Donald Trump is inaugurated, many religious conservatives will seek to rollback culture war advances made by President Obama, including on abortion rights and LGBT rights.
“For some, religious claims for exemptions and accommodations are a form of bigotry,” Haynes said.   “For others, minority religious groups — especially Muslims — are an existential threat to American traditions and values.”  
Many observers are especially watching how Trump’s relationship with Muslims in the United States and abroad will unfold after he campaigned on a pledge to ban Muslim immigrants.   In the weeks ahead of his inauguration, Trump’s advisers have issued conflicting statements about the status of his plan.   Trump’s own statements have been a mix of repeating, softening and vaguely re-endorsing a ban, so it’s unclear what might take place.
Trump’s policy on Muslims is likely the most anticipated religion story because Americans could see it as a referendum on anyone’s right to free belief, said Rashid Dar, a research assistant at the Brookings Institution.
“If the floodgates are opened to discrimination based on ideology or belief, then it threatens all Americans, who will have to ensure that they are not the next victims of policies aimed at rooting out ‘un-American’ beliefs,” Dar said.
Another major story expected early in Trump’s administration includes any changes to the Supreme Court. (in an appeal to religious conservatives, Trump promised to appoint justices who oppose abortion.)
Many of the current religious freedom battles could quickly disappear during Trump’s presidency, especially if the Affordable Care Act — the target of many religious freedom lawsuits and conflicts — is repealed, Haynes said.
Other battles may worsen, he predicts.   Many Native Americans, for example, fear that their religious freedom will suffer a significant blow if the Trump administration reverses the Obama administration and allows the Dakota Pipeline project to go forward near the Standing Rock Reservation.
Many religious conservatives think the Obama administration had overstepped on issues of religious freedom in areas such as contraceptive access under the Affordable Care Act and gay rights, especially the Supreme Court’s decision that was seen as providing sweeping protections to same-sex couples and potentially threatening the tax-exempt status of religious organizations.   Will the Trump administration now work to address these concerns?
Many states will be emboldened by the election to pursue laws that provide broad religious exemptions to same-sex marriage, and the ACLU expects more religious freedom bills than ever this year.   These cases will possibly resurrecting debates over what the government can — or can’t — compel faith organizations to do.   For instance, will business owners be required to follow anti-discrimination laws and bake a cake for a gay wedding if it violates their religious beliefs?
Other scenarios observers are considering include: Will legislators renew efforts to pass “anti-Sharia” laws and seek to limit what they see as the growing influence of Islam in America?
Will Trump fulfill his promise to end the Johnson Amendment, which prevents certain tax-exempt organizations such as churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates?   Will he quell concerns from some that academic institutions could lose federal funding over issues such as gay rights?
Will he reverse Obama’s declaration that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, a question the Supreme Court is considering?
The concept of religious freedom as protected under the First Amendment has become polarizing, but Haynes said it has one definition: Liberty of conscience for people of all faiths or of no faith.   “This should mean taking claims of conscience seriously and providing accommodations whenever possible,” Haynes said.   “And it should also mean standing up for the rights of others, including those with whom we deeply disagree.”
Other religion-related stories are expected to surface under a changing administration.   With reports of rising incidents of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism during the 2016 campaign, activists will look for ways to counter bigotry.   Will Trump’s presidency create unlikely bedfellows and spur interfaith efforts or racial reconciliation efforts? Some are less hopeful.
“Cynical me says the racial reconciliation efforts won’t happen,” says Anthea Butler, a religious studies professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who believes churches are drawing a line for or against Trump.   “I think that ship sailed a long time ago in the 1990s and things are too polarized right now.”
A conservative shift could also spur a rise of the “religious left.” For instance, some religious institutions are planning to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.   Other organizations may undertake their own acts of resistance — and dozens of religious leaders, for instance, have already signed an open letter vowing to organize against bigotry.
Immigration is changing the face of religion in America. Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the evangelical church.   They also make up a considerable portion of the Catholic Church in the United States.
“Pastors across the country view immigration not just as a political issue but as a church issue because many members of their churches are immigrants who will be significantly impacted by any changes in immigration law or policy,” said Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief.
Policy changes in other major areas, such as health care and education, will be watched closely by religious advocates. Education activists are eyeing issues related to public education and federal funding because Trump picked Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education.   DeVos, who has deep ties to Reformed Christian circles in Michigan, favors school vouchers, a position that appears to be motivated by her Christian faith.
Christianity has been on the decline in the U.S., but religious voters such as evangelicals (26 percent) and Catholics (23 percent) made up a significant chunk of the electorate in 2016, especially compared to voters who do not affiliate with religion (15 percent).   Will Trump deliver on his promises to religiously conservative voters? Will they play a large role in his administration?
Many other religion stories this year will unfold apart from Trump’s presidency, which we will cover in news, analysis and commentary here at Acts of Faith. Globally, Protestant Christians are expected to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses,” the theological propositions and questions for the Catholic Church considered the spark for the Protestant Reformation.   And Pope Francis is expected to continue to shape a Catholic Church that emphasizes the marginalized.   But the presidency of Trump — and how religion does or doesn’t play a role — is expected to captivate the country in 2017.