JBenell

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Banning Satanic displays, worship would violate Iowa's constitution

Jason Benell lives in Des Moines with his wife and two children. He is a combat veteran, former city council candidate, and president of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers.

Last week, Republican State Senator Sandy Salmon introduced Senate File 2210, “An act related to the Satanic displays or Satanic worship on property of the state and its political subdivisions.”

The bill is designed from top to bottom to ban satanism from being practiced, observed, or even acknowledged in public, including in Iowa schools, libraries, and public rights-of-way. A more clear and precise violation of the Iowa Constitution’s Article 1, Section 3 regarding religion couldn’t have been drafted better for future legal textbooks.

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America Needs Farmers—just not their politics

Photo of happy farmer by Serg Grbanoff, available via Shutterstock.

Jason Benell lives in Des Moines with his wife and two children. He is a combat veteran, former city council candidate, and president of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers.

America Needs Farmers.

This statement has become a cultural touchstone. It became popular during the 1980s farm crisis, as a way to raise awareness of the difficulties suffered in the Midwest agricultural industry.

This phrase and branding has seen a bit of a renaissance in the past decade—featured on bumper stickers, commercials, apparel branding, and even partnerships with major universities like the University of Iowa.

America Needs Farmers, or “ANF,” has become less of a slogan for awareness, and more a brand or identity that Midwesterners tout alongside Carhartt or John Deere. The slogan is now almost synonymous with the Iowa Hawkeyes and rural farming, and is controlled by the Iowa Farm Bureau, a 501(c)5 organization representing farmers across Iowa.

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Religion in politics: the biggest threat to our liberties

Illustration by Jena Luksetich from Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers is published with permission.

Jason Benell lives in Des Moines with his wife and two children. He is a combat veteran, former city council candidate, and president of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers.

Over the last dozen or so years in Iowa, we have seen a new assault on citizens’ rights, putting the future of our state in a precarious situation. It seems every other week there are reports and new sets of statistics tarnishing what was once a sterling record for Iowa on the well-being of its citizens. We have seen Iowa lose its destination status for those looking for an excellent public education as well as a dearth of coverage for mental health care. Iowa now ranks the worst in the country for OB/GYN coverage per capita and is consistently cited as an example of what not to do when it comes to stewardship of our waterways.

On top of these dire statistics, we are also seeing unprecedented assaults on the civil liberties of Iowans, from banning books in schools (and prompting at least two costly lawsuits because of it) to banning transgender Iowans from participating in sports to restricting the right to privacy and health care for half of the state’s population.

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