Michigan GOP lawmaker: My bill will revoke tax exemptions from "non-theistic churches"
State Rep. Josh Schriver thinks freedom of religion shouldn't apply to religious groups he doesn't like
This newsletter is free, but it’s only able to sustain itself due to the support I receive from a small percentage of regular readers. Would you please consider becoming one of those supporters? You can use the button below to subscribe to Substack or use my usual Patreon page!
A Michigan lawmaker says he’s plans to file legislation revoking the tax exemptions of religious groups he doesn’t think are legitimate. Christianity? Of course that counts. Satanism? Not so much.
It all stems from the holiday displays outside the Michigan State Capitol last month. Because the state has an open forum, the Satanic Temple—West Michigan requested and received permission to put up a “Yule Goat,” a.k.a. an altar of Baphomet:
It wasn’t a controversial display by any means. As a spokesperson explained, the display was an “opportunity for us to all gather and be able to celebrate the year and celebrate our own achievements and celebrate religious plurality.”
But as we know by now, anytime the word “Satan” is attached to anything, conservatives can’t deal with it.
A Democratic staffer took a picture next to the display and jokingly tweeted, “In the name of Satan, I claim the sexy satanic Baphomet goat altar at OUR Michigan Capitol. Amen”… which led to a right-wing extremist account sharing the screenshot to other fanatics as if something terrible had occurred.
Republicans in the legislature were no different. Seven of them signed onto a letter calling on the Michigan Capitol Commission to remove the display entirely, claiming it contradicted the “foundational principles of our nation” and was a “public display of evil.” (They didn’t bother explaining what was so evil about it, nor did they seem to understand how the law doesn’t allow the Commission to pick and choose which displays can go up if they meet the baseline requirements.)
One of those seven lawmakers was State Rep. Josh Schriver.
Before Christmas, Schriver made a video in front of the display falsely suggesting it promoted Satan, “who lies, steals, kills, and destroys.” He wrote online, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I rebuke the sadistic satanic baphomet goat altar at OUR Michigan Capitol.”
That was embarrassing enough. It revealed his utter ignorance about what the display represented.
So now he’s going even further.
Dring an interview last week on the podcast “Your Defending Fathers,” Schriver said he planned to introduce a bill that would revoke the non-profit status of groups like The Satanic Temple… or, rather, the Church of Satan (which had nothing to do with this display):
“I actually am working on a policy right now—I haven’t introduced it yet—but it’s actually to really focus on making a distinction between the church—the church of Jesus Christ—and this, quote unquote, Church of Satan,” Schriver announced. “You really have an issue where they’re seen as equal in the eyes of the state, and that doesn’t seem right to me for many, many legitimate reasons. And so removing tax exempt status from non-theistic churches such as the Church of Satan, I think is very, very well in order.”
“There’s many examples of us looking at our First Amendment and how it doesn’t really protect against obscenity,” Schriver continued, revealing that he is also “working on another policy to make pornographic images illegal” because “there’s no need for a moral and religious people to indulge in certain things.”
“We have a duty to lead people as representatives who are appointed by God to make sure that we have a state that is not just good, not just great, but godly,” Schriver declared. “Honestly, I work for God and not for man. And so at the end of the day, I answer to one person, and that’s Jesus Christ.”
If he wants to work for God, there are plenty of churches in Michigan. Instead, he literally chose to run for a job meant to represent the people—those of all faiths and no faith—and he’s now using it to advance his faith.
Maybe if he cared about the law, he would know that this supposed bill would go absolutely nowhere. A plain reading of the Constitution and several decades of case law involving church and state make no distinction between different religions or religion vs. non-religion. Freedom of thought is protected under the law, and the only way to revoke The Satanic Temple’s 501(c)(3) designation would be to strip churches of them too. Elected officials don’t get to decide which religions “count” and which ones don’t.
And if his goal is to eliminate government promotion of evil, then the Satanists’ Seven Fundamental Tenets are far more ethical than anything you’d find promoted in white evangelical churches.
We know Schriver doesn’t really care about this because, if he wanted to stop evil, he would just need to look in the mirror. After all, as Right Wing Watch points out, there’s reason to believe he’s a follower of white nationalist Nick Fuentes.
Schriver is a first-term lawmaker who won in a very red district. The benefit to being a Republican legislator in Michigan right now, though, is knowing there’s no chance a batshit crazy bill will get passed by a Democratic governor. So instead of working to help his constituents, Schriver is playing up a culture war issue knowing it won’t go anywhere… which means the illegality of it all will never come up for discussion.
That also means there’s a good chance he’ll never file this bill either.
He’s the sort of guy who’s all talk and no action. A better Christian—a better person—would use that power to get things done for the people in his state. But because Schriver’s faith taught him to be selfish, he’s wasting his time on meaningless gestures like this.
(via Right Wing Watch)