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November 26, 2004

Comments

cheryl

Thanks for the read, Heather.

My best to you and Michael. I am glad that you are enjoying each other's company.

The worst thing about propaganda and brainwashing is that, even when it proves to be totally ineffective, the devout still insist it is the only way. That is because they are brainwashed.

I will repeat what I have often thought and said: If we go down this road, we deserve everything we get along the way.

I have watched US youth decline from the generation that put men on the moon to the generation that cannot read and write. I was raised on fast food and air pollution and have felt the effects on my body from the day I was born.

I firmly believe that, as the US population (in fact the world population to a great extent) has strayed farther from our natural environment and diet, our intelligence has declined.

I firmly believe that, as our intelligence has declined, we have become more vulnerable to both puritanical religious hucksters and reckless hedonism alike.

Not only that, but our uncontrolled birth rate that is so enthusiastically embraced by the 'multiply like fruit flies' crowd has virtually guaranteed a blooming of every kind of communicable disease. Surely I am not the only one who has noticed that viruses are now next-day-delivery airline passengers right along with their hosts.

This while we continue developing the world's strongest military empire and strip-mine the planet.

Maybe the born-again-yesterday are right in one sense. Maybe the end is in sight. Given the popularity of these fanatical religious non-solutions like abstinence-only education coupled with apocalyptic prophesy, maybe there is a cultural death wish in operation here.

If so, what chance do we have of preventing these brain-damaged bozos from steering us all straight to hell?

Sue

I believe that teaching abstinence is a good thing. But I believe that in this world chalk full of sexual temptations there must be some way to communicate to kids in their venacular and in a way that gets their attention and makes sense.

One thing many people who hate us "religious zealous nuts" don't think about, I believe, is that sex was created for procreation and God wants us to be respectful to others. Sex is not just a feel good activity, it has responsibilities. It is something that happens on the most intimate of levels, and I believe that the people being intimate should be striving for a committed relationship, not one-night-stands, not adolescent experimentations that lead to STDS and pregnancies. The responsibility that sex can create another human being is often overlooked and downplayed. And the idea that many boys and men use women and girls for sexual pleasure, toss them aside, strikes at the heart of why there should be respect for others in a relationship.

I never want a guy just for sex, and just to be fondled. That is not mature relationship building. That kind of stuff leaves a lot of young girls in Planned Parenthood offices, getting abortions or tested for diseases.

In my belief system, I think that since Adam and Eve brought sin and death and pain into our lives, there will always be another disease, emotional and relationships problems, but we should strive to live as God planned for us and live physically and emotionally and spiritually healthy lives. MTV brings to kids attention and sensibilities the idea that it is okay to jump from one sex partner to another, with no responsibilities. That is insane and part of the problem.

I do think there are some good speakers out there that understand young people and their cares and fears in the world that can speak to them with respect and dignity and understand the strong pull to get sexually involved at younger and younger ages. I never heard of this group Silver Ring Thing , so I don't have much to say about them, other than I think they are trying to fight the secularism out there and they mean well to teach kids that sex before marriage/committed relationship has a lot of emotional ties to it and can affect you for the rest of your life.

Michael

I think this is a thoroughly fantastic post, I have to say. I think there is only one thing I would change. I wouldn't go so easy on them. Heather says:

First though, I want to say that I'd guess that Silver Ring Thing's...um, things...are not illegal. Not technically anyway. I'm sure they're very careful about the rules regarding federal funding and religious agendas. I think the problem is that the line between religious and not-relgious--which is blurry in the best of circumstances--is fuzzed way too much with this group.

I think I'd go farther. It's hard to say whether Silver Ring Thing violates the letter of the law (1st Amendment, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of the religion..."), but it most certain violates the spirit of the law.

Particularly Mr. Pattyn's comments, which I find very disturbing:

We’re not really putting our energy into abstinence as much as we’re putting it into faith. Abstinence is the tool that we’re using to reach children.

Even a cursory reading of the 1st amendment makes it clear that government can't be involved in "reaching children" with "faith." It just isn't constitutional to do it.

What's disturbing is that Mr. Pattyn allows himself to take advantaged of the fact that most people look the other way. I don't doubt the sincerity of his beliefs, but I am taken aback by his willingness to exploit American law without reflection.

Which is to say this: Mr. Pattyn can raise as much money for his program as he wants, and I'm sure he will. To willingly take the federal government's money, though, and to use it to proselytize his faith to kids, seems to be a profound violation of the spirit of American law. It makes me question his committment to democratic values.

To Mr. Pattyn and those who support such funding: I respect your beliefs, but please try to be honest and open about your intentions. Instead of quietly and deceptively subverting the the 1st amendment and its protections of religious freedoms, tell us what you really think. Call for a constitutional amendment repealling the 1st amendment. Let's have a debate on it. See if your side wins. To do anything else would be dishonest, and at odds with the Christian principles you cherish.

Heather

Michael, while I agree with you to some degree, I think you place too much of the blame in Pattyn's lap.

Of course you should question his "commitment to democratic values." Whatever commitment he has to American law is eclipsed by his commitment to his beliefs about the need for religious conversion. I would be surprised if he could be convinced that he's doing anything wrong. What you call "taking advantage," he would probably call seizing an opportunity to serve God or something.

The responsibility for maintaining the church-state separation in this situation doesn't lie solely with Pattyn. I see the relationship between Pattyn and the federal government as being similar to that between a naughty child and his parent. Pattyn shouldn't ask for funds, but he does. And the government should say NO, slap him on the wrist, and ground him for two weeks.

cheryl

MTV brings to kids attention and sensibilities the idea that it is okay to jump from one sex partner to another, with no responsibilities.

This is a fine piece of bigotry. Do you have any evidence to support this brash accusation?

I have watched MTV (a little) and find, besides empty sensual teasing for profit in what could otherwise be a highly creative medium, nothing of consequence whatsoever. If you want to condemn MTV for distracting children from substantive musings, fine. If you want to promote religious bigotry with yet one more 'straw man', get lost.

I certainly find nothing like the implication thrown out blindly here, that is, graphic representations of kids jumping from sex partner to sex partner like bees hunting nectar from flower to flower. If you have an example of an MTV music video broadcast that either employs or promotes reckless promiscuity, give us all a link to it so that we can educate ourselves.

You leveled a charge, now: Where's the beef? Or are we vegetarian tonight? Is this fact or is it crap?

If you want me to accept your contention that my daughter is going to jump into bed with any guy that comes along simply because of MTV, prove your charge! Otherwise, stop insulting her intelligence with this abstinence-only religious bullshit. She knows about the Goddess. She understands her procreative powers. She was completely informed of the facts of life by the time she was seven, when she excitedly told me, "There are two wasps having sex on the window!" (she is into biology) She is NOT the witless numbnuts you think she is, and if she does risk getting pregnant out of wedlock it will be her informed choice to do so, not mine, yours, MTV's, her boyfriend's, or anyone else's. Her reasons are her own and they have nothing to do with what anyone else in the world thinks is good for her.

I challenge you to put as much responsibility and trust in your own as I do in mine. No, never mind, I know you are not up to the challenge. If you are like most US religious bigots, you are deliberately avoiding messy conversations with your children, just as my parents did with me.

Strike a little too close to home? I thought so. Or are you actually childless bigots advocating unsafe indoctrination experiments on my children without even having the benefit of raising any of your own???

The responsibility for maintaining the church-state separation in this situation doesn't lie solely with Pattyn.

That responsibility lies with the electorate. It is up to us to resist electing religious pinheads like Bush who attempt to replace the Constitution with the Bible.

It is also up to us to run for office, protest in the streets, obstruct business and fight off the darkness of religious fanaticism when our constitution is in jeapordy from rampant electoral fraud. Even in the Ukraine we are demanding free and fair elections, yet here at home we let Ohio, Nebraska and Florida be stolen without a wimper, not once but twice!

We fought a revolutionary war, the war of 1812, and the Civil War creating this experiment in democracy, and if we are dumb enough to convert it into another fundamentalist theocracy in the mold of Moslem fanaticism, it is our own damn fault for letting our crown jewels get away from us.

Again, as I have repeated often, if we go down this road we deserve every last trial and tribulation we bring upon ourselves.

I know that Sue and 'd' hate to hear me say this, but I proclaim it from the highest rooftop: your blind christianity is killing our country. The Europeans, the Aussies and the Canadians are aghast at what they perceive as our collective madness. They rightly fear we have lost our minds. Just ask them! Pick up a foreign newspaper some time! You are on the internet, you have the same access that I do. Read, damn you!

Everything you enjoy, from your publicly funded roads and medical technology to your invincible national defense and your stable food supply, you owe to science and humanistic values, not religious ignorance. Most of the western world acknowledges this fact. Why won't you?

The only way to keep hold of these blessings will be to employ intellect, true moral spirituality (not the dime-store born-again-yesterday junk food kind), and above all HONESTY, which Christians seem to lack (if you doubt your duplicity, please, please, DOCUMENT how MTV will bring about the fall of civilization!) Blind quasi-moralisms serve no one but the forces of chaos.

Wake up and recognize where your debt lies. If you wait until all this is gone, you will have waited too long.

It may be emotionally soothing to you to think of God as some sort of human-indulging sugar daddy, but unfortunately, that is not the case. God does NOT care about you personally and sure as hell never wrote a rule book for you to follow like a military code of law or angelic training manual.

God(dess, take your pick) wrote the laws of physics and they are INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to decipher, in fact most of us will never have the faintest clue what their ultimate significance is even though we enjoy their fruit. Ignorant religious bigots wrote the bible and they made it all up on the spot. The former requires years of expensive post-grad training to master, the latter can be had for free. You get what you pay for. Get used to it.

It may comfort you to think that Christ will arise from the dead and sweep the faithful away in a supernatural space ship, but it sure as hell is not going to happen that way. Christ (if he ever existed) has turned to dust. He did not even get to be mummified so that we could inspect his remains. He is gone, murdered by the 'conservatives' of his age. Only his rebellious liberal message remains and you ignore it.

Upon your soul, not mine. I am at peace.

Then, for my leftist/liberal/progressive kindred spirits, I have just as strong a message.

You are WIMPING OUT.

Get off your lazy asses and fight back. Do not rest. The forces of darkness and their witless minions are all around you.

We have perhaps a decade of cheap energy left. After that it will be a free-for-all. If you think things look bleak today, brace yourselves. There will be a nutcase on every corner begging God to ride in on his golden chariot and end our misery in one last conflagration. There will be another nutcase in every government office hell-bent on bringing it about.

The time for hand-wringing and fair play is over. These assholes play for keeps. You owe it to yourselves and everyone else to do the same.

Give them no quarter. They hold you in the lowest contempt despite their protestations to the contrary. There is no loving the sinner if you hate the sin. There is only hatred. Protect yourself spiritually, financially, and politically.

Your children's future is at stake. If you would have them walk upright, proud and free, into the next century, you must pave the way with unbridled idealism. There is no insurmountable obstacle blocking your path. There is only your apathy and that is yours to do with as you will. Jettison it.

Sue

Cheryl, because I think you are blind to what secularism has done in the world, and think that young kids know enough by the time they are seven so as to be mature enough to know who is okay to be with intimately and who is not, I choose not to get into a debate with you. You have some issues that I don't know how to do deal with. So in the spirit of not being confrontational with you, I shall only say I will pray for you. If that offends you, then you have no idea how strange I find it when people are offended when someone like me, a Christian, prays for someone else. It isn't to belittle you or condemn you, it is just that I believe you are misguided and full of hate and I find that very sad.

Stop beating up on me and everyone that says they are Christian or religious, we aren't hateful people, we are just fearful that Satan is at work in many people's lives, filling them with lies and tricking them into believing they need no God, no love, no mercy, no forgiveness, and they can do whatever they want because their is no diety out there. Satan lies through MTV and that sexual innuendo in the shows there and the videos. You may see sex as no big deal, but I see it as a very big deal, and not something to give away so easily to anyone.

Peace be to you.

Heather

Sue,

I think that both you and I want teens to have healthy sexual relationships. What we disagree on is what constitutes healthy sex. I think that healthy sex is a.) enjoyable b.) physically safe, and c.) emotionally/psychologically safe.
Your ideas about healthy sex are rooted in a set of religious beliefs.

I agree that teen sex can have disastrous consequences, but I don't think this is the result of not being married. I know plenty of people (myself included) who are not married but who have long-term sexual relationships that they are quite happy with. When people talk about premarital sex, they seem to forget that this includes couples who are adults and who have a good understanding of the risks involves.

I also know people who have had one night stands that they were happy with. I personally don't find that sort of thing appealing...These people have different beliefs about appropriate sexual behavior, but to me, that's ok. If they aren't hurting anyone, it doesn't matter to me what they do.

I believe that if you are mature enough and if you do it for reasons that conform with your own system of beliefs, then it's ok to have sex, married or not, teen or not. Your personal belief that sex only has a place within marriage is based upon your religion. That's fine, but because it's a matter of faith, I don't think that you or anyone else should receive federal funding to promote it. Plus, there's a difference between encouraging teens to be abstinent, and teaching abstinence-ONLY. I'd venture to guess that in the history of the world, there has never been a way to keep all unmarried people from having sex. If some teenagers are going to do it, wouldn't you rather they NOT get pregnant or sick?

You frequently decry "secularism," but if there's anything that people should be allowed to decide for themselves, outside of a religious framework if they choose, it's sex. If you take away the purely religious stuff about what God intends for men and women, then what you're left with is a responsibility for helping young people make good decisions.

I also wonder exactly what you mean when you talk about "fighting secularism." What does that mean anyway? What if we went around saying we wanted to "fight religionism"? The reason we argue so stridently for keeping religion out of government is because we feel that religion has no place in government. (Also it's written into the constitution that way.) That doesn't mean that we think religion has no place in people's lives. But it is a personal matter and public policy should not be based on faith. That goes for any faith, not just christianity. The reason we have separation of church and state is because the people who founded this country were sick of european systems of government where the church and state were mixed, resulting in persecution for religious minorities. for example, catholics were not allowed to hold office in great britain until the 19th century!

the whole point of keeping religion out of government is to guarantee religious freedom for everyone. otherwise, whoever's in power gets to impose their religion on everyone. what if there were no separation and suddenly all of congress converted to wicca and were allowed to decree that the rest of us had to be wiccan also. (unlikely of course, but you never know what will happen) wouldn't you be wishing for separation of church and state then?

drm

First off, this is for you Sue. As I posted previously I suggest you completely ignore the rants of Cheryl, she is so filled with hate and religious bigotry her rants are not worth worrying about.

"the whole point of keeping religion out of government is to guarantee religious freedom for everyone. otherwise, whoever's in power gets to impose their religion on everyone."

This is the biggest point of conflict. What religious people see is that your attempt to keep religion out of government is going against the free exercise of religion. The country has never been about keeping all vestiges of religious expression out of the public arena. Throughout our history is religious expression has been A PART of the government. For a fine example do your self a favor and read George Washington's first Thanksgiving Proclomation (I believe in 1789). Read this and think if the ACLU would have a problem with it (or for that matter the principal in Cupertino, see below)

I see an attempt by the religion of secularism to strip all religion from peoples public life, thus imposing their views, which has never been the case in this country, that religious expression has no place in the public square.

Cases in point:

1. The ACLU fights many many religious symbols on public lands when the Supreme court has NEVER ruled that in all contexts that religious symbols cannot be displayed.

2. A principal in Cupertino CA recently ruled that a teacher cannot present historical documents to his class that have references to GOD. And guess what one of the documents that were forbidden was? The Declaration of Independence.

3. The LA City Council removes a cross from the City symbol because of a lawsuit threatened by the ACLU which claims that the cross is a religious symbol banned by the Constitution when in reality it is a historical representation of the missions established throughout Calif.

I personally believe that all viewpoints can be allowed in the public square, government funded programs, etc, etc. You make note of the federal funding that SRT receives but why is it any different than the hundreds of millions of federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives? Why are Planned Parenthood's methods and beliefs and more worthwhile/valid than SRT's?

Let's get to talking about results. Many decades have passed since the "Safe Sex" approach to sex education has been used and STDs are at record levels. It doesn't look like this approach is working, why not INCLUDE other approaches?

Finally, can someone please explain why ABSTINENCE is the only method taught, funded, with regards to underage smoking and drinking but is so controversial with regards to underage sex? Where is the teaching about "Safe Smoking" or "Safe Drinking"? I would guess that there are more diseases contracted by minors as a result of sex than as a result of smoking.

For some reason you all have know problem with ABSTINENCE teaching with regards to smoking but have a big problem with ABSTINENCE teaching with regards to underage sex.

cheryl

Cheryl, because I think you are blind to what secularism has done in the world, and think that young kids know enough by the time they are seven so as to be mature enough to know who is okay to be with intimately and who is not, I choose not to get into a debate with you.

Good, you are not holding your own anyway. You completely misunderstood the point, which was that it is none of my damn business (or yours) to choose my daughter's sex life for her.

Even if I wanted to brainwash her with my own version of abstinence-only pablum all I could do is warp her judgement with my own prejudices and probably make things worse for her in the long run. Instead, I choose to educate her with ALL of her choices, not just the ones I approve of, in the hope that the Goddess will grant her the sense to make the right choices when the unforeseen comes up in her life.

(By the way, where do you get this 'secularism' thing from anyway? I am not secular!)

The reason I want her to have all the facts, not just the ones I approve of, is because I WILL NOT BE THERE to hold her hand when she is faced with those tough choices. Teengagers do not walk in the door and say, "Hi mommy, I want to have sex with my new boyfriend James, the one with the body piercings. Is that OK with you?"

We will not be there when their little minds are struggling with the pros and cons of giving in to lusty gonadal hormones or giving in to fearful corticosteroidal adrenal hormones. Anyway, they should not be faced with that choice; fear gets in the way of rational decision making. What purpose does frightening them with abstinence-only bullshit serve besides glorifying our own prejudices and making our children sexually neurotic?

I would rather my child makes her decisions with a clear mind and a clear conscience.

Teenagers make their tough choices in private. They are afraid of being caught and condemned for doing things they know might get them into trouble, so they do them in private. The more reason we give them to be fearful, the less they will talk to us. Giving them abstinence-only drivel that they know to be biased, one-sided, incomplete and inaccurate only drives them farther away. It makes us appear like fanatical zealots. Kids are not idiots. They know that fanaticism is dangerous.

How does my position translate into licentiousness? It does not; you made up that 'straw man' so that you could throw your bible at it. You are not out to protect children, you are out to indoctrinate them!

Anyway, back to your original point:

What has secularism done to the world? Please, educate me. I see millenia of religiously-sponsored violence stretching back for at least 10,000 years, most of it conducted in service to paternalism now that the Goddess has lost favor in the world. I see democracy sparked by our founding fathers and held up as the standard of what is just and moral in the world now that paternalistic theocracy is once again waning. Finally, I see renewed conflict as born-again zealots seek to forestall the inevitable death of religious bigotry.

You call me blind? Share your vision, not your bigotry. What has democracy done to the world that is so evil?

Please, compare and contrast theocracy and democracy. I would love to learn the evils of secularism.

You have some issues that I don't know how to do deal with. So in the spirit of not being confrontational with you, I shall only say I will pray for you.

OK, if you are not up to the challenge of defending your ridiculous belief in the bible, I suppose condescenscion is a viable strategy. Congratulations, you have graduated from ineptitude to failure.

If that offends you, then you have no idea how strange I find it when people are offended when someone like me, a Christian, prays for someone else. It isn't to belittle you or condemn you, it is just that I believe you are misguided and full of hate and I find that very sad.

Not as sad as I find your predicament. If I were to adopt a space alien cult and proclaim it the word of god, then follow it around like a moron I think you might become a little bit alarmed, but when you do the same with your little black bible you expect me to congratulate you on your insight and vision.

Stop beating up on me and everyone that says they are Christian or religious,

Another 'straw man'. I do not beat up on everyone who is Christian or religious, I only beat up on avowed Christian conservatives who are neither spiritual nor conservative.

we aren't hateful people, we are just fearful that Satan is at work in many people's lives, filling them with lies and tricking them into believing they need no God, no love, no mercy, no forgiveness, and they can do whatever they want because their is no diety out there.

Well, that is your opinion. Unfortunately you have no way of proving any of these contentions because they are all based on your 'faith', not fact.

And where do you get this 'whatever they want' crap from? Are you so blind that you actually believe that?

I suppose for someone who cannot distinguish morality from religion, that makes sense in a twisted sort of way.

Satan lies through MTV and that sexual innuendo in the shows there and the videos. You may see sex as no big deal, but I see it as a very big deal, and not something to give away so easily to anyone.

Sexual innuendo is the work of Satan? Wait a minute here... I thought your original charge was that MTV is promoting rampant promiscuity. There is quite a difference between your religious beliefs and fact. I asked you for facts and you offered me beliefs. Do you understand the difference, or are they equivalent in your mind?

Sex is a very big deal, which is why I refuse to reduce it to the level of abstinence-only proselytizing. You are the one who is belittling sex with your blind faith in Catholic bigotry.

Peace be to you.

May the Goddess trounce up and down on your evil pope.

cheryl

Sue, I have another moral dilemma for you:

The American Psychiatric Association proclaimed homosexuals to be normal. Check out their position statement here at Gay and Lesbian Issues.

No fair, you cheated. Follow the link. You want to do the right thing because you are a Christian, right? So go read like a nice Christian. Follow the rules.

Oh shit, I give up. I know no matter what I say you will not go read, so here is the quote that matters.

Homosexuality

Whereas homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgement, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities, the American Psychiatric Association calls on all international health organizations, and individual psychiatrists in other countries, to urge the repeal in their own country of legislation that penalizes homosexual acts by consenting adults in private. And further, the APA calls on these organizations and individuals to do all that is possible to decrease the stigma related to homosexuality wherever and whenever it may occur. (December 1992)

OK, now that you have skipped the page I referred you to, here is another link for you to follow.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

In case you are 'too busy' to read even your own church's writings, here is the salient point.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.

In this web page, taken straight from the Vatican, the moral authority of your entire religious faith, homosexuals are stigmatized with the term 'objectively disordered', a phrase that appears nowhere in the bible or in psychiatry textbooks, psychology textbooks, or any other tome. It does however sound bad, doesn't it? I mean, come on, 'objectively disordered', how can anyone argue with the morality of a statement like that? It must have come straight out of medical science!

The APA writes that:

Bias-Related Incidents

Bias-related incidents, arising from racism, sexism, intolerance based on religion, ethnicity, and national/tribal origin, and anti-gay and lesbian prejudice are widespread in society and continue to be a source of social disruption, individual suffering and trauma. These incidents are ubiquitous and occur in both urban and rural areas. Such hate-based incidents consist of acts of violence or harassment. These incidents result in emotional and physical trauma for individuals, as well as stigmatization of affected groups. Ethnic and cultural biases, vividly manifest in bias-related incidents, serve to frustrate the basic human need for dignity, resulting in despair and hopelessness among the victims that ultimately affect the whole nation.

Now, Sue, you claim not to promote hatred, yet the pre-eminent authority on human psychology in the world has declared the Vatican to be a hate-monger because it stigmatizes homosexuals and thus encourages 'bias-related incidents', otherwise known as hate crimes.

Not only that, by fabricating the term 'objectively disordered' and posting it on the web for the entire world to see, the Vatican itself is bearing false witness!!!

Yet you are blind to this tragedy.

Sue, you claim that secularism has done so much to harm society. How many GLBT people have died horrible deaths in service to your god? For that matter, how many BLACK people have died? How many people did Hitler kill under the guise of promoting his own puritanical version of Catholicism?

I will give you a hint. Every month, two transgenders are murdered in the United States alone. The most visible of the so-called 'objectively disordered' are murdered at a rate that is twenty times higher than the general population.

Another Abrahamic religion, the Moslem faith, has fanatical followers in Saudi Arabia who conduct state-sponsored public beheadings of homosexuals in service to their own sick interpretation of the Old Testament. Yes, the Old Testament proclaims that homosexuals should be put to death.

If you doubt me, go to your local video store, rent Michael Moore's 'Farenhiet 9/11', and watch the first ten minutes of the documentary. You will see homosexual heads roll in the portion where Moore is illustrating the link between the Bush family and the Saud family.

I am sorry, but I cannot condone any religious institution that deliberately promotes carnage on this scale. It is beyond words.

You misunderstand my wrath when you cry wolf and say I hate you. My wrath is furious, but I do not hate you. I pray for your eventual enlightenment. I have little hope that I will save you from your moral failings, however. Your belief in that little black book of lies seems to be unshakeable.

Shame on you!

Michael

For a fine example do your self a favor and read George Washington's first Thanksgiving Proclomation (I believe in 1789).

yes, d, you're welcome to read every letter, speech, post-it note, and grocery list that George Washington ever wrote. but of course, that doesn't matter, because george washington is just a guy. we live in a society ruled by laws, not by men.

2. A principal in Cupertino CA recently ruled that a teacher cannot present historical documents to his class that have references to GOD. And guess what one of the documents that were forbidden was? The Declaration of Independence.

there you go again. of course, the right-wing blogs have been all over this for the last few days. certainly it would be nice if someone had some facts on it (other than the statement in the guy's lawsuit, which claims what you say), and if someone from the other side were quoted, and whether we knew if this were true. certainly the fact that a lawyer would say this, "there is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence," makes me think that there's something fishy here.

because of course a teacher can show the declaration of independence to his students! no one's debating that.

but what you really want to do is find facts that fit your preconcieved belief. there's a small school in CA that's banning the Declaration! From this I can generalize that the "religion of secularism to strip all religion from peoples public life"! (Since when is secularism a religion? That doesn't make any sense -- though it serves your purpose to call it that.) you want to demonize the ACLU, even though you haven't actually looked at the ACLU's website to see that they actually defend religious freedom (i linked to it for sue the other day). and you want to distort the left's perspective so you don't actually have to engage them.

How many times do I have to quote the first amendment? "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, nor prohibiting free excercise thereof." Government can't endorse, fund, or in any way be partial to religion, and it can't prevent people from excercising religion. Plain and simple. That's what this post was about. By giving money to a group who put more of its energy into "faith," by their own admission, that's clearly a violation.

No one wants to tell you how to worship. but no one's going to tell me that my tax dollars are going to fund a religious group whose views i don't agree with.

For some reason you all have know [sic] problem with ABSTINENCE teaching with regards to smoking but have a big problem with ABSTINENCE teaching with regards to underage sex.

d, i get tired of saying this: READ THE POST. that's not what we said at all. no one's saying that abstinence shouldn't be taught. this kind of intentional distortion of what we said is a sign that you don't have any argument. here, in fact, is what heather said:

Abstinence is probably the best option for a lot of young people and they need to be encouraged to make good decisions. But there's a difference between teaching abstinence and teaching abstinence only.

but you don't actually want to know what we said, because you're afraid we might be right. you don't actually want to argue in a reasonable manner; you want to exaggerate our position so that you can more easily dismiss it. you owe heather an apology.

here, in a nutshell is the argument, which i will summarize for you to save you the trouble of actually reading the post you're commenting on:

abstinence only education is not effective at preventing STDs, because condom use isn't talked about. furthermore, many groups who promote abstinence only have a not-so-hidden religious agenda. abstinence should be taught along with other methods.

you want to have a debate about this? fine. you think that abstinence only education is the best method? fine. but don't be dishonest and distort our point of view. i grow increasingly tired of you personally, and your side generally, distorting what we say.

btw, we don't have any problem with smoking. we're both occasional smokers ourselves.

cheryl

First off, this is for you Sue. As I posted previously I suggest you completely ignore the rants of Cheryl, she is so filled with hate and religious bigotry her rants are not worth worrying about...

I personally believe that all viewpoints can be allowed in the public square, government funded programs, etc, etc.

Except those that are in conflict with yours, I guess.

Why would you censor me, 'd'? Are you afraid of something?

I will wager this:

The root of your fear comes from a very basic level. If I can prove that Christianity is immoral in any respect, I will have invalidated your entire religious belief system. How?

Easy. The bible was supposedly written by god himself. If the word of god is in error on one point, what is to say that the whole damn thing is not a lie from start to finish? What if there is no heaven, or worse yet, what if all Christians actually go to hell?

'd' and Sue have tacitly admitted that you do not believe the word of god. You have chosen to ignore some passages of scripture and bend others to your own personal bias (you referred to it a 'symbolic interpretation', I believe.)

The word of god proclaims that homosexuals should be put to death. There is no equivocation here. Do you believe god or not? Do you avocate putting homosexuals to death or not?

If you do not believe that homosexuals should be put to death, then you are not true Christians, period. You are waffling, giving in to secular influences that have made such hate-inspired immorality as killing gay people unpopular in our culture.

Too bad you have not taken it to the next logical step, which is giving up on homophobia entirely rather than whitewashing it.

Your fear goes even deeper than this. You have based your political positions and your voting records on your religious 'values' (although I personally fail to see any value in prudish sexual mores or homophobia). If I invalidate your religion, I also invalidate your politics.

No, wait, it goes even deeper than that too! You have based your entire lives on your religion, or more specifically on the belief that your religion is infallible word of god. If I prove that Christianity is nothing more than the ignorant babblings of ancient smelly apes, I have invalidated your entire lives. And that is what you fear most, eh? The possibility that I will have made complete and utter fools of you.

Well, I have news for you. You made fools of yourselves long before I came along.

Consider the possibility that you have been brainwashed. Consider it, just for one second, as a very real possibility.

I just pointed out to you one glaring inconsistency in your practice of Christianity among thousands of such inconsistencies. That should be evidence enough. If you want more, I can go on for months, picking 'your' bible apart from one end of the binding to the other.

Or you could jettison your sexual neuroticism and homophobia, then get on with some positive spiritual matters such as the celebration of diversity and the protection of the planet. Your choice.

Heather

I personally believe that all viewpoints can be allowed in the public square, government funded programs, etc, etc.

Really, d? All viewpoints? You'd like tax dollars to go to promoting Islamic fundamentalism? I bet they have some ideas about abstinence too. And keeping women's heads covered with veils. We should dump some money into that because I'm sick of teenagers not knowing how to deal with bad hair days. How about if a giant portrait of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban ("Mullah" is a religious title) were erected in a park near your house? All good, right?

If we're really going to use public money to fund a religion-based sex-ed program, then I think the money should go to Cheryl's Goddess-worshipping group so that they can spead their refreshingly sane attitude toward sex. Based on what you've said, you have no real grounds to disagree with me, right?

Cheryl serves as a really good example, because she is religious and I am not. although I agree with her view about sex-ed, I really DON'T want her going into public schools and using her religion to spread this message, even though I agree with the non-religious content of that message.


Heather

Let's get to talking about results. Many decades have passed since the "Safe Sex" approach to sex education has been used and STDs are at record levels. It doesn't look like this approach is working, why not INCLUDE other approaches?

I DO advocate teaching ALL approaches. Not just birth control. Not just abstinence. In the post, I talked about pregancy, not STD's: "decreases in teen pregnancy rates in the past few years have been due 53% to decreased sexual experience and 47% to improved contraceptive use... Again, abstinence vs. abstinence only. Think about it people."

Please don't misrepresent my point of view.

Do you have evidence that STD's are at record levels? I don't mean number of identified viruses. I mean trasmission rates. Based the the decreased sexual experience and improved contraceptive use that I cite, I'd be surprised if transmission rates weren't in decline.

Sue

Cheryl, you do have a totally different viewpoint of Catholicism than I have, obviously. And you do create some "facts" that I don't believe are there.

For instance, nowhere in my years of Catholic schooling was I taught to hate homosexuals, behead them, kill them or condemn them. All that garbage is happening because of misguided fear and hatred.

What I understand of the Catechism's teaching on homosexuality is that the person who is homosexual is not bad. They have an inclination towards something that is out of the order of Natural Law, thus called disordered. This word is what upsets a lot of people, but it should not. Some hear the word "disordered" and think of a mentally deranged person, but that disorder is different. And homosexuality is not a mental disorder. What do I see as the Natural Law? I understand it to be the order of life in all its forms as God created the world and everything in it. God created a man and woman to procreate and have children. He didn't create two men or two women to do the same. He made man and woman complimentary, thus the complimentary male and female genitalia. This is the norm of Natural Law. Two men cannot have sex and create another human being. Nor can two women. So to me that demonstrates the Natural Law.

Now as far as the inclination towards homosexuality, I don't believe there is a straight answer to where it comes from. This has been debated for years since psychology science was created.

I would not ever condone killing a homosexual person...killing is wrong, and the act proves nothing but one's fear of something that one cannot explain. My husband is homophobic, and we get into some deep discussions and arguments at times about his fear of gay men. I don't understand the fear exactly, but being a woman with some past thoughts of homosexual urges myself, I guess cannot fully understand what it feels like to be a man, be fully heterosexual and fear people that much that are different from me.

I think MTV promotes a lot of teenage sexual activity, that is what I find offensive with them, and I think normalizing homosexuality to be seen as good as heterosexuality is not a positive thing. Afterall, if everyone became homosexual, there would be an extinction of the human race, no procreation would happen. This does not seem normal to me. But I don't like the word "normal" either. It comes from the word norm and that literally means "A standard, model, or pattern regarded as typical" but that is subjective to the culture or society.

What is fundamentality important, to me, is that all people are "created equal" in the eyes of God. This is what is stated in our Declaration of Independence. I don't sit here and try to convert you to my religion or any other religion, I just tell you my beliefs and how they influence my life. I don't feel you have all the answers, I don't feel I have all the answers. I don't really believe any person on Earth has all the answers, but I believe God gave me a mind to think with and intelligence to use to find the answers as best I can.

We can differ in the road to the truth but that does not mean that we have to trounce on anyone or call them names or spew hatred at people we don't know but just categorize into little boxes and label as inept, idiotic, conservative, narrow minded, born-again-yesterday, or whatever adjective you can come up with.

I believe in something called charity. Not charity as in given to the less fortunate but charity as in being respectful of others and showing them the dignity as a human brother or sister deserves. I don't find that you are very charitable in your words or what you say are your deeds.

I haven't been charitable at times, it hurts the other person a lot, but it also hurts myself. And when you continue to ignore how you hurt others, it will come back to you, and believe a hundred fold worse. But I believe I can ask for forgiveness from that person. So if I have been uncharitable to you, I am sorry.

We simply come from very different vantage points, but I am not about to call you names like say you are worthless or that you are liberal Catholic-hating New Ager. No, I simply think we don't have a lot in common and we have different ways to communicate to others. Hatred breed hatred, love breeds love. If you keep that in mind maybe we might be able to have a decent and friendly dialogue.

If you hate the Pope of my faith, doesn't that tell you a lot about what is inside you, and not so much what is wrong with my faith?

Sue

I think that both you and I want teens to have healthy sexual relationships. What we disagree on is what constitutes healthy sex. I think that healthy sex is a.) enjoyable b.) physically safe, and c.) emotionally/psychologically safe.
Your ideas about healthy sex are rooted in a set of religious beliefs.

You are correct. Because I believe the gift of human sexuality came from God, the Creator I believe in.


I agree that teen sex can have disastrous consequences, but I don't think this is the result of not being married. I know plenty of people (myself included) who are not married but who have long-term sexual relationships that they are quite happy with. When people talk about premarital sex, they seem to forget that this includes couples who are adults and who have a good understanding of the risks involves.

But do not a lot of unmarried couples have problems that married couples do not have? I would think that marriage really intensifies the commitment, because it has a legal realm to it. It gives the couple rights that unmarrieds simply don't have. (of course there is the argument about why the state has the ability to make laws governing marriage and given married copules rights to financial stuff and medical health coverage et al, that's another topic)


I also know people who have had one night stands that they were happy with. I personally don't find that sort of thing appealing...

Amd what is it that sounds unappealing about one night stands and the sex in them? I think the commitment part is unappealing myself. And the use of one's body for sex is unappealing to me.


These people have different beliefs about appropriate sexual behavior, but to me, that's ok. If they aren't hurting anyone, it doesn't matter to me what they do.

How do you know all these different types of sexual behaviors are not hurting other people? How do you know that they don't create confusion when children are created in these relationships? What about the underlying reasons these people are not married and in these long term relationships? Could they be fear of commitment, fear of loss of individuality, fear of something else, financial needs over family needs?


I believe that if you are mature enough and if you do it for reasons that conform with your own system of beliefs, then it's ok to have sex, married or not, teen or not.

How many teenagers would you classify as mature enough to be in committed relationships and have the financial resources to take care of a baby if the girl gets pregnant? It seems the order of things makes a big difference. If you get into the sex of life first, get pregnant or an STD, then the idea of being mature seems to be lost somewhere, don't you think?

Most teenagers are not mature and are not financially able to have a family and abstinace would surely have helped many to not bring unwanted children into the world. If more teenagers had less sexual encounters, less babies out of wedlock the number of children in the welfare system and in foster care would go down. There'd be more resources out there for the families that were created in marriage that are now struggling from different problems, and less need of Planned Parenthood offices and abortions.

Your personal belief that sex only has a place within marriage is based upon your religion.

Yes.

That's fine, but because it's a matter of faith, I don't think that you or anyone else should receive federal funding to promote it.

I believe the Catholic Church has done a lot for Catholic and non Catholic families for centuries without federal or state funding, the money comes from the believers and active parishoners who give their tithes to the Church to help others in need. And in the modern world, there is United Way which helps fund Catholic Charities and other Catholic groups that help teach young people to be responsible and grow up first before indulging in adult pleasures, of course, after getting married hopefully. I don't know how much money the federal govt gives to Catholic organizations, but the money would not be needed via federal funding if several dynamics would have first been in place, to include better parenting of children and 100% participation of people who call themselves Catholic in the Church.


Plus, there's a difference between encouraging teens to be abstinent, and teaching abstinence-ONLY.

This is true. If parents played a more active role in their kids lives, knew the friends they kept and had some kind of spiritual upbringing in their family, whether it was Christian or Muslim or Jewish or any other, I think there would be less teen pregnancy, abortions, drug abuse and suicides.


I'd venture to guess that in the history of the world, there has never been a way to keep all unmarried people from having sex.

I would guess you are right. Long ago when the average life expectancy was half what it is today, young people married at the ages of 13 and 14, and they became parents at a young age. They had to, but in the modern world, especially since the dawn of the industrialization and adolescence as a psychological concept in the last 1800s, and psychology as a science, the average age of humans has gone up, the maturing rate of young people has also gone up, and so acceptance of young people having sex as teenagers has gone down.

Most people I know would be upset if they knew their young daughter was having sex, but not as worried if their son was. That is a huge double standard. Not fair, and not realistic. Society encourages young men to be sexual and conquer quests with women. That's disgusting to me. And scary, too.

I graduated high school at about the time the medical society started figuring out what AIDS was and how it was spread from one person to another. I refused to date anyone that was interested in only sex because I didn't want that deadly disease. And because I was supposed to be a good Catholic girl and wait until marriage. I was confused as most young people are at times, I didn't give into my lust for sex until I met the man I married. I am glad I did. I don't have to worry about STDs and HIV/AIDS. I don't have to worry about getting pregnant or not.


If some teenagers are going to do it, wouldn't you rather they NOT get pregnant or sick?

Of course.

If you take away the purely religious stuff about what God intends for men and women, then what you're left with is a responsibility for helping young people make good decisions.

This is true. And since I am not mother to the millions of young people out there, I cannot influence them the way their parents can. I think parents need to understand the importance of sexuality in their teens and know what is going on in their lives, screening their friends, and know where their kids are and who they are with. My mother gave me a lot of freedom because I was mature and not bringing home guys at all hours of the night. The temptations out there can be overwhelming. Downright scary, I hate to hear of young girls giving into temptation because of pressure from a cute boy they like. There's more to life than all the silly stuff going on during high school and college. As you get older, you realize the things that seemed really important and cool to you aren't that big a deal when you get older. The relationships you had are important, and the commonality you had with certain influential people is important. If all young people had a mentor while growing up, there'd probably be less chaos and less unwanted pregnancies. Maybe. I would hope.


I also wonder exactly what you mean when you talk about "fighting secularism." What does that mean anyway? What if we went around saying we wanted to "fight religionism"? The reason we argue so stridently for keeping religion out of government is because we feel that religion has no place in government.

That is the misconception in today's world. The people that came from Britain to get away from British rule and state religion came here and created a country that does not have a state funded religion, but they didn't say throw God out of your life, including the public life.
The founding fathers didn't want a government with forced religion, but they didn't want to take away anyone's right to worship the way they wanted to.

Didn't you ever realize how many places in government have religious symbols on them? Moses">http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/arg8.htm">Moses and the 10 Commandments in the Supreme Court Building.

quote A second premise of the argument is that, if belief in separation was widespread in 1935, depictions of Moses and the 10 Commandments would never have been allowed in the building. But this doesn't follow; the Supreme Court has never held that public buildings cannot contain depictions of the 10 Commandments. The Court's rulings proscribe only those depictions that are intended to convey government endorsement of the Commandments (Stone v. Graham, 1980). Additionally, the Court has allowed the inclusion of religious symbols in public displays so long as those symbols are part of a larger work that serves a secular purpose (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1991). No one thinks that the art of the Supreme Court building is intended as an endorsement of the 10 Commandments, and there is no question that the overall effect of this art is secular. Hence, the depictions of Moses and the 10 Commandments in the Court building would pass muster even under today's more stringent establishment clause jurisprudence.

the whole point of keeping religion out of government is to guarantee religious freedom for everyone. otherwise, whoever's in power gets to impose their religion on everyone.

Well what about what the ACLU is getting involved in, by taking Christian cross symbols out of public arena, but allowing Muslim and other religious symbols to stay? That is not fair. There's a real fear of Christianity by certain sectors and some of that fear is fueled by atheists and secular humanists who misinterpret the "separation of church and state" and establishment clause.


What if there were no separation and suddenly all of congress converted to wicca and were allowed to decree that the rest of us had to be wiccan also. (unlikely of course, but you never know what will happen) wouldn't you be wishing for separation of church and state then?

Separation of church and state is meant to keep the state out of the church, it does not mean freedom from religion in public square. The establishment clause meant that the government could not establish a state run church. We have a freedom to worship as we wish, but we shouldn't fear having the government force one particular religion upon us. I don't think the government is forcing a particular religion on anyone. If you see that, it may be that you see things through a different colored lense than I do. Sometimes I find that when I have a certain bias I can find proof for that bias in a lot of places, but that doesn't mean it is so. It just may mean I am sensitive to a particular view and when I find things that back it up, my view is reinforced in my mind. That doesn't mean it is so, it just means I found something to back up my view. If you only find that which backs up your view, you might miss the things out there that go against that view. That can be a scary thing to happen.

I have read many of what you guys are telling me to read and it is interesting but I still have my world view and the only thing I can say is I have learned to be more charitable to differing views and learn how to interact with those that differ from me. Sometimes I do well, sometimes I don't. I usually do well with people that are kind back to me, and do poorly with people that are abrasive and hatefilled. That is what spirit I have found here at times. I still come back to listen and learn and readjust my responses. But that is not to say I have changed my mind.

Heather

But do not a lot of unmarried couples have problems that married couples do not have?

I can't really speak to this. I think the answer is probably quite complicated. Unmarried couples may have some problems that are unique to them, but so do married people. The stress of raising a family. The attempt to fill a spousal role. The reluctance to leave even if a woman is in physical danger. Despite these differences, the problems of married couples and unmarried committed couples probably overlap a great deal. Communication, sharing, etc.

Amd what is it that sounds unappealing about one night stands and the sex in them? I think the commitment part is unappealing myself. And the use of one's body for sex is unappealing to me.

I don't find the sex unappealing. And in theory, I don't find the use of a body for sex unappealing. That's one of the things body's do. I just don't relish the idea of sleeping with some guy I don't know. If I like a guy enough to have sex with him, I like him enough to have a relationship with him. Just a personality thing. You don't need religion to not want to hop into any old bed that comes along. ;-)

How do you know all these different types of sexual behaviors are not hurting other people?

I meant given that they are not hurting other people. I'm not saying that these behaviors can't be hurtful. But I don't think they have to be. And condemning the hurtful consequences of a sexual act is not the same as condemning the act itself, if the sex doesn't hurt anyone.

Well what about what the ACLU is getting involved in, by taking Christian cross symbols out of public arena, but allowing Muslim and other religious symbols to stay? That is not fair. There's a real fear of Christianity by certain sectors

The ACLU is not a government organization. I say this because you wrote the sentences above in response to a comment I made about the government potentially imposing on religious freedom.

As for the thing about Muslim symbols--if that did happen, then it certainly is not fair. But I don't know what you are referring to. Can you point me to information about this?

As for fear of Christianity--if there's any fear, it's not because of Christianity per se. It's because Christians happen to be the majority and so there are a lot of them adn so they have power...when a small, powerless group gets pushy, no one cares; but when a large, powerful group gets pushy, then it's scary.

but they didn't say throw God out of your life, including the public life... The founding fathers didn't want a government with forced religion, but they didn't want to take away anyone's right to worship the way they wanted to... The establishment clause meant that the government could not establish a state run church...I don't think the government is forcing a particular religion on anyone.

Ok, a couple things. First, what is the "public life"? I can't tell from context what you mean by this.

Second, I don't want to take away anyone's right to worship either. And neither does any other liberal, at least not the ones I hang out with.

Third, with regard to the establishment clause-- Your interpretation is a very narrow one--do you really think that the only restriction on the government is that they not set up a state church? What about endorsement of a particular relgion? If the government gives money to a certain religious group so that that group can further its agenda, does that not constitute a tacit endorsement of that religion? I don't understand this national obsession with figuring out exactly what the framers thought, but if we must, I'd guess that they'd see the government helping out a certain religion to the exclusion of others as simliar to the establishment of a national church. "Establishment" and "endorsement" are only different in the novelty (or lack thereof) of the religion in question. And I see giving millions of dollars to Christian organizations (like Silver Ring Thing) so that they can teach according to their principles as somewhat of an endorsement.

I'm not the only one to think this way. In 1947, the Supreme Court heard a case in which they had to decide whether or not it was ok for New Jersey to provide travel reimbursements for children going to parochial schools. The Supreme Court decided that it WAS ok. Hugo Black wrote this in the majority opinion:

"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever for they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a 'wall of separation between Church and State.'"

What's striking about this statement is that not only did the majority justices agree with Black, but the dissenters did too. All nine justices agreed on these points.

Which is not to say that no one has ever disagreed. But these are men who spent their lives interpreting the Constitution, and although "d" would have you believe that all judges are evil space aliens who are trying to hijack the government, these guys really did know what they were talking about.

cheryl

And you do create some "facts" that I don't believe are there.

For instance, nowhere in my years of Catholic schooling was I taught to hate homosexuals, behead them, kill them or condemn them.

Then explain this to me: why are so many so-called Christians and Moslems engaging in this carnage, if they are not learning it from their churches and mosques? Are you trying to tell me that my kids hear the word 'gay' used as an epithet all day long at school because of mind-controlling space aliens? Or do they hear it because their Mormon classmates walk around spreading bigotry like little automatons?

Face facts, Sue. The APA put it in black and white on their web site. They analyzed societal prejudices and clearly stated the root of the problem, which you have chosen to ignore completely:

Bias-related incidents, arising from racism, sexism, intolerance based on religion, ethnicity, and national/tribal origin, and anti-gay and lesbian prejudice are widespread in society and continue to be a source of social disruption, individual suffering and trauma.

There it is. Prove me wrong. Show me where anti-gay prejudice comes from, if not from the Abrahamic paternalistc homophobic religions. Show me the smoking gun.

It comes from somewhere. You stated it does not come from the church. So show me the source! If you know the true root cause, enlighten everyone on this blog.

What I understand of the Catechism's teaching on homosexuality is that the person who is homosexual is not bad. They have an inclination towards something that is out of the order of Natural Law, thus called disordered. This word is what upsets a lot of people, but it should not.

We are dissembling here.

It matters not what the Catholic Church claims their intent is. I can go around prostituting myself for free and claim that I am spreading god's love and being fruitful and multiplying, but if what I am really spreading is sexually transmitted diseases then I am either lying or deranged.

I do not think the Vatican is deranged. I think all those bishops are lying. They want homosexuals to be repressed because clergy are suffering en masse from a neurosis known as homophobia, an irrational fear based on the ignorant attitudes of apes who lived 10,000 years ago.

The homophobia codified in religion spreads throughout the population and directly instigates murder of GLBT by misguided teenage thugs. The Vatican is complicit in this genocide.

Don't fudge facts here. They are guilty. They are as low as terrorists.

You ask any gay person what they fear the most, and they will tell you they fear having their children taken away from them, being falsely accused of sex crimes, being falsely imprisoned, being beaten or being killed by homophobes. Al Qaeda is not even a close second.

Religion is sponsoring a world-wide systematic terrorism of an entire class of people right in your front yard and you are condoning it. The pope may not be pulling the trigger but he is training the troops.

When blacks were being beaten and killed openly, we heard the same bigoted arguments that there was something wrong with being black, or there was something wrong with blacks and whites marrying. After all, the bible condones slavery too, and everyone knows that slaves are not really people, so if we go kidnap a bunch of Africans, brutalize them, and then free them they should be grateful we do not lynch them anymore. Why do they want the right to marry our white daughters?

This is no different.

Shame on the pope! And Shame on YOU!

I would not ever condone killing a homosexual person...killing is wrong, and the act proves nothing but one's fear of something that one cannot explain.

Yet you will yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, and if someone gets trampled, well it really is not your fault is it? After all, it was not you doing the trampling.

Come off it, this is horse shit. Inventing stories to frighten people about homosexuality is simply wrong no matter what your justification is.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.

Tell me, please, what is symbolic or ambiguous about god's word in this instance? Where does god say that Sue does not have to kill homosexuals?

The Vatican preaches from this book. If the Vatican does not endorse god's command to murder homosexuals, then why does the Vatican use this bible? Why do you?

Why does the Vatican not re-write this genocidal portion of the bible into something that is morally defensible?

You cannot answer, can you. Hypocrite. Oh wait, you did answer!

I think normalizing homosexuality to be seen as good as heterosexuality is not a positive thing. Afterall, if everyone became homosexual, there would be an extinction of the human race, no procreation would happen.

Worse yet, if everyone wore purple it would destroy the fashion industry overnight and plunge us into another Great Depression. Nice logic. So you think that if gays are not deliberately stigmatized, everyone is going to become gay? You harbor a ridiculous fear of the whole world becoming gay, yet you do not think of yourself as a homophobe?

So you do not think that presenting homosexuality as normal is a good thing, yet you are perfectly OK with preaching from a book that advocates murdering homosexuals. Murder is moral, affirmation is not.

EXPLAIN PLEASE! Oh my aching head, I cannot follow your logic or your morality! It makes no fucking sense!

Horseshit, horseshit, horseshit. Nothing has changed since the dawn of civilization regardless of how the church wants to frighten you about hordes storming the gates.

Same-sex attraction exists throughout the animal kingdom including humanity. When population pressure rises, same-sex activity increases, and when populations decline, heterosexuality grows, but overall the rates of same-sex activity throughout all of god's creation is fairly constant at about 10%. I would call that a fairly clear message from god, would you not?

You are inventing stories to support your prejudice, specifically to defend your preconception that there is something wrong with being gay. This is wrong. This is lying. This is bearing false witness. This is immoral and if you consider yourself a good person you should stop it immediately.

Try reading 'Biological Exuberance'. Feed your mind, not your prejudice.

Now as far as the inclination towards homosexuality, I don't believe there is a straight answer to where it comes from.

The 'straight' answer is that homosexuality is a choice that heterosexuals are tricked into by listening to satan instead of god (or some other such horsehockey).

The queer answer is that it is natural for a gay person to be gay (unless decades of exposure to the homophobia epidemic have made the queer person neurotic with internalized homophobia).

Who are you going to believe is the better expert on being queer, a straight person or a queer person?

I believe in something called charity. Not charity as in given to the less fortunate but charity as in being respectful of others and showing them the dignity as a human brother or sister deserves. I don't find that you are very charitable in your words or what you say are your deeds.

sigh.

I do not believe in being charitable to hypocrites who participate in genocide to further religious bigotry, no matter how nice and charitable they may delude themselves into thinking they are.

Sue, you are a lost case. You have faced squarely the fact that your bigotry is killing people and denied it. You are immoral and not spiritual.

If some day you change your mind and realize how incredibly painfully wrong you are about this, my blessings to you. Until then, I am your mortal enemy. I do not compromise with genocide.

p.s. I am not a new-age geek, I am a witch. There is about 10,000 years of difference.

I do not stare into crystal balls. I call the four corners, channel energy, and give thanks to Gaia, just as the native population of North America did before they were corralled off into the desert and given tuberculosis-infected blankets by 'charitable' Christian missionaries who were trying to save the souls of heathen.

I know my pagan ceremony is all supernatural bullshit but I do it anyway because the meditation gives me comfort, plus the people are affirming of everyone with a kind heart, not just those with similar sexual instincts. We are deeply committed to cooperation and preservation, not domination and exploitation.

Maybe you should try it some time. Hell, I was born and raised Catholic. I know what that scene is about. Ugly lesbian nuns without a hope in hell of ever getting laid teaching teenagers about the virtues of abstinence. Go figure.

cheryl

Most teenagers are not mature and are not financially able to have a family and abstinace would surely have helped many to not bring unwanted children into the world. If more teenagers had less sexual encounters, less babies out of wedlock the number of children in the welfare system and in foster care would go down. There'd be more resources out there for the families that were created in marriage that are now struggling from different problems, and less need of Planned Parenthood offices and abortions.

I wonder if you realize how deeply biased this viewpoint is.

Our culture shapes our beliefs. Our lack of knowledge of other cultures constrains our thinking.

In some parts of the world (i.e. Hindu India), girls might be practically forced into arranged marriages by their parents at puberty. They start having children immediately and there is no such thing as divorce.

The entire society condones this. They are in agreement that this is the best possible course for their culture to follow. The children receive praise and support from their parents and affirmation from their peers.

Yet to me it seems completely bizzarre.

Sometimes, if the young man cannot afford the expected price, the girl is kidnapped into marriage by her future husband, as in the Philippines:

Abduction is a quick, relatively inexpensive, highly individual strategy for a young man to get the girl he desires who might otherwise not be available. It is also a highly spicy and "fun" thing to do as an expression of one's masculinity in a culture which puts a very high value on bravery and masculinity. In spite of their seriousness, abductions are a game, and appeal to young men precisely because of the risk. About one quarter of marriages are abductions, at least in the area where I did my research.

One of my informants, Naju, abducted both his wives. When he was a boy he made a solemn promise (najal) that he would always abduct his wives. Since he was a rather spoiled younger son, his parents agreed that they would support him. He said he abducted his first wife a week after he first decided he loved her. One day when she was alone at the waterhole he grabbed her and carried her to the sara (the headman, from Islamic Shari'ah, law). She screamed loudly, but whatever her private feelings were, it is always necessary to put on a show of resisting. Her parents were extremely upset. But the headman's house is considered a sanctuary in these matters and the authority for the marriage negotiations rests with him. There is a specific schedule for brideweath and fines , in the past fixed by the Sultan. Although it is higher now, when I did my research it was 140 pesos plus 50 pesos "to reduce the shame of the girl". Usually the headman also takes a percentage of the fine. In theory the girl has the right to refuse to marry her captor, but in practice this seldom happens. If a young man suspects she may be reluctant, he may take her into the forest before going to the headman and seduce her, making it difficult for her to refuse to marry him.

Of course, the reason she cannot refuse him once she has been 'seduced' (i.e. raped) is that she can no longer display the 'tokens of virginity', that is, her hymen is broken. Technically, if she refuses him, I guess the entire village could stone her to death, but I guess this rarely if ever happens in today's civilized world.

By the way, 190 pesos for a virgin seems like a bargain to me!

Just thought I would throw that out there, you know, to broaden the scope of this highly constrained debate about the supposed virtues of federally funding abstinence-only religious indoctrination. It was starting to feel a little bit stuffy in here.

Why don't we fund abductions instead? Sounds like more fun! I would just love to be tossed over my suitor's shoulder and carried away kicking and screaming playfully while my parents looked on in horror. How incredibly romantic!

Heather

Listen people:

This website is a forum for debate on politics and related matters. It is not a forum for drawn out personal arguments. Everyone should make their points and make them forcefully, but please stick to what's relevant. For example, talking about one's opinion of the Catholic Church or spirituality in general is perfectly fine, but the topic, "Who's more spiritual, Cheryl or Sue?" is really something I don't give shit about. You both have e-mail addresses. Take the personal stuff elsewhere.

I'm not going to edit or remove anything that anyone writes. I'm not into censoring or being anyone's mom. I'm just asking, please, can I not have an ongoing catfight on my site?

Digita7Voic3

I believe funding will always be miss distributed among a democratic republic. Why? you may ask? Because of the diversity of thinking we all have. Lets not forget the freedom that each and every single individual posses to speak out. People have distinct priorities, and the government stresses to try to please the majority. And even when this happens… people still get pissed off (America is so spoiled :P). My father once told me… “Everyone has the right to been wrong” this may sound stupid at first but if you think about it, it makes things more clearly and less complicated to understand. We don’t know it all, we make mistakes. What we should be worrying about is how not to fall in the same pit twice (Holy Inquisition, WWI, WWII, Iraq, Vietnam, etc).
First of all, religion is not a bad thing. I was raised Catholic, then turned Christian, then Catholic again… (If there is a significant difference anyways!) I say this to show how ridiculous religion can be sometimes. Then again what isn’t now a days? I also have to stress something that people don’t really think about much… I have an IDEA that religion is the intrapersonal understanding of what is sacred. NOT who your God is, what he looks like, what rules you have to follow or what statue you have in your front porch. All that is just extra bolony. I say IDEA because ideas are clear and concise, beliefs are complex, with no supporting evidence or logic, and tend to be exploited and distorted. Beliefs also cause HATE, CRIME, MURDER and ultimately WAR.
Now that you are on the same boat, I can move on.
Second, there is no such thing as SATAN. Satan does not dictate your actions, nor has any affect in your decision-making process. You cannot blame or fear a imaginary “source of all evil.” If there is “evil” in this world, it is because Men have made it up. Simple! And NO, Satan does not live inside the TV nor he uses MTV to empoison the minds of our children. It is parents who make the TV (or other sources) the educator and parent in dysfunctional families. Now if this happens… who are they going to listen to when you are telling then that premarital sex in not good? Take a wild guess.
Third, I STATE: Homosexuality is a psychological dysfunction. Some might disagree with me, some might be offended by this. But again.. We all have the right to be wrong. The truth is simple, its not normal, it does not qualify as a specie, its disgusting and not healthy physically or psychologically.
My two cents,
-JC-

cheryl

It is easy to go around claiming that left-handedness is a psychological dysfunction, that is is not normal, does not qualify, is disgusting and not healthy physically or psychologically.

It is even easy to cure people of it with drugs and surgery. You can give them unilateral lobotomies and put their left hands in a cast so that they cannot write with them.

In fact, all of these things were done, not so long ago.

Then people realized how incredibly stupid and evil they were being, trying to make everyone else in the world just they way they were.

The same thing happened ten years ago when the APA removed homosexuality from its list of disorders.

Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell God how incredibly stupid and evil he was being.

Michael

Oh, goody! It's open season on Catholics and the ACLU--again! Two groups I happen to belong to.

Cheryl, I must say I think your characterization of the Church is wildly, drastically, and irredeemably over-the-top. It's flawed in virtually every respect. I will also say that I think Sue's view has its problems.

For the record, I happen to be a practicing (occasionally, anyway) gay man and a practicing Catholic. My spiritual director has known for decades and couldn't care less. There are some hateful attitudes and hateful people in the Church, and they are in an ascendancy these days that grieves me. But it has not yet gotten to the point where I cannot in good conscience continue to be a member of the Church and participate in it. If that day ever comes, I will walk, regretfully, out of the door and shake the dust of the place off my feet as I leave, as Jesus commanded us to do.

I reject the Church's teachings on the morality of homosexual behavior, because these are as fundamentally flawed as is Cheryl's characterization of the Church as little more than a pack of hypocritical, child-molesting clerics and the dupes who enable them. I am not only permitted to dissent from such teachings, but commanded to do so, on pain of serious sin. That little tradition goes right back to Thomas Aquinas, one of the foremost Doctors of the Church, who taught that it was better to die excommunicated from the Church than to violate a precept of one's conscience. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said as much, and so does the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although the hierarchs responsible for putting together that Readers' Digest version of Catholic teaching fan-danced it into virtual oblivion. But the teaching is still there, and it's absolutely valid. (And a pre-emptive clarification here, Sue: No, I did not just "decide" to ignore those teachings. I spent years thinking and reading and praying and consulting about it, and then I did what my conscience told me was the right thing to do, just as the Church bids all of its members do in such situations.)

As to the ACLU being such a godless, secularist organization, drm, perhaps you'd care to explain why, if that characterization is accurate (which, obviously, it is not), they just spent several months of their time arguing for the rights of street preachers on the Las Vegas Strip? Or why, in 1993, they went to the Supreme Court and fought a Hialeah city ordinance that restricted the right of a religious sect to practice (Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah)? Or why they lobbied Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?

The ACLU is dedicated to the proposition that the Constitution of the United States means what it says when it says that the federal government and that of the states does not now, did not in the past, and cannot in the future, have the right to prescribe on behalf of its citizens what shall be considered orthodox in matters of faith or opinion. The government may not tell us what to believe or how to worship. It may not tell us what to read or prevent us, at least as adults, from reading things that in its opinion are bad for us or not worthy of our attention. That this pisses off a certain tiny segment of the population who seem haunted by the possibility that someone, somewhere, might be having fun, and who wish to impose their incredibly narrow-minded religious beliefs on the rest of America, is just tough beans. Because the Constitution doesn't allow that to happen, either.

And that's a good thing in my book.

cheryl

Oh, goody! It's open season on Catholics and the ACLU--again! Two groups I happen to belong to.

Congrats. I am glad at least one other person on this blog has a sense of morality that spans what is practically realizable rather than what is ideologically consistent.

Cheryl, I must say I think your characterization of the Church is wildly, drastically, and irredeemably over-the-top.

Well, as far as my characterization of it goes, I agree. Sometimes it is necessary to be selective in choice of facts to make a point.

My Unitarian Universalist congregation has many people in your situation, trapped between your reality and the fantasy that is the bible's skewed and sex-negative sense of morality.

As far as the reality of the church is concerned, in fact the reality of all of the Abrahamic faiths, the historical record speaks for itself. The leadership is reactionary and hostile to reason.

I still insist that homophobia and misogyny have no legitimate place in the book of God. Those passages should be deleted and all teachings related to them disowned. They exist not to glorify spirituality of humankind but merely to perpetuate a paternalistic patrilineal patriarchal system of oppression. The bible needs a healthy dose of equal opportunity, starting with a female side of the deity to add some maternalistic instinct to our public spiritual life. Since when do men have a monopoly on godhood? Since when is hate speech a cherished component of a holy book?

If anyone wants to argue that the bible is a product of divine inspiration and the word of God to the exclusion of all other texts such as my physics textbook or the APA's diagnostics and statistics manual, I would have to say perhaps you need to see a shrink or visit a deprogramming institute. Political (that includes religious) discourse amounts to little more than a shouting match when the vast majority of participants don't have their heads screwed on straight.

Michael

The problem is, Cheryl, that neither "homophobia" nor "misogyny" existed at the time the Scriptures were composed. The problem is less with the texts than with the modern interpretations that are often put upon them.

Indeed, there are some utterly horrid things in that collection of books. The first murder takes place only four chapters into it, and one of the last narrative scenes has people literally drowning in a sea of blood, and there are rapes and murders and deceits and brutalizations galore in between those gory endpoints.

But anybody who looks at those texts and finds in them any excuses for such behavior is deluding him/herself. Even uptight Paul got that: "There exists among you neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28, my translation from the original Greek). Jesus hung out with sinners, tax-collectors, prostitutes, and lepers. He ate with them. He healed them. He ministered and preached to them. I have to think that means something, specifically, that if we would be like Him, we have to be about caring for those who have nothing, those who are on the outside looking in. Or, more succinctly, the task of any good Christian is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

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