Church and State news in brief

While checking out the Sunday “papers” I came across some of these stories about church and state:

Some clarity on the perils of Bush’s church and state
News Book Reviewer

In it, Michelle Goldberg takes to task many of the views you and your dittoheads express, and she warns those views threaten to crumble the democratic society upon which the nation is built.

Goldberg examines in depth all the touchstones of the right vs. the left, all with the premise that the right she labels Christian nationalists don’t want to take over the democracy, just dominate it. To that end, she compares the far right’s regard of homosexuality to that of the Nazis; she lambastes the disregard of science in matters of evolution and the environment; she labels faith-based initiatives nothing more than “a spoils system for evangelical ministries,” and she sees a takeover of the judicial system as the ultimate goal of the Christian right. Goldberg has done an admirable job of gathering information and interpreting it to follow her theory. Her work is certain to elicit knowing nods from some and vitriolic outrage from others.

Iranian activist teaches us to be grateful but vigilant
By Jerry Large
Seattle Times staff columnist

That little “separation of church and state” thing we have is a pretty good deal. Imagine living in Iran, governed by religious law interpreted arbitrarily.

Shirin Ebadi, a lawyer who considers herself a devout Muslim, has been resisting the injustices of Iran’s government since she first realized that freedom from the shah came with its own costs, especially for women.

Ebadi, who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work, has been promoting her memoir, “Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope.” She was in Seattle recently, head uncovered, a tiny woman dressed in a red blouse and black pants that wouldn’t distinguish her from anyone else on the street.

Religion isn’t bad, she’ll tell you. What’s bad is using religion to excuse behavior that has no justification.

Judge in Dover case says founders saw religion as inquiry

The Associated Press

CARLISLE, Pa. – A federal judge who outlawed the teaching of “intelligent design” in science class told graduates at Dickinson College that the nation’s founders saw religion as the result of personal inquiry, not church doctrine.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones gave the commencement address Sunday to 500 graduates at Dickinson College, his alma mater.

“The founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry,” said Jones, who was thrust into the national spotlight by last year’s court fight over the teaching of evolution in the Dover school district.

The founding fathers – from school namesake John Dickinson to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson – were products of the Enlightenment, Jones said.

“They possessed a great confidence in an individual’s ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason,” he said.

“This core set of beliefs led the founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”

Sex Ed & Money
Heritage Community Services is a major player in abstinence-only sex education, but questions about curriculum and financial dealings have drawn criticism.

The Post and Courier

In a darkened cinderblock classroom near the back of Summerville’s Alston Middle School, some boys learn about the downsides of sex. Graphic photos of gonorrhea and herpes flash past them.

Billy Rogers, who’s 24 and their instructor for the next several days, narrates. The boys listen and wince.

“Sex is like fire,” Rogers tells them. “Good things, bad things. Right place, wrong place.”

He peppers them with questions: What is abstinence? What are the four basic sex acts? One by one, these seventh-graders rattle them off. Oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, masturbation.

“Can you get pregnant from all these types of sex?” he asks. “Can you get (diseases) from all of them?”

Rogers is one of the many foot soldiers in the abstinence-only education movement. He is young, religious and doesn’t think preaching condom use will curb the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. To prevent the spread of infection among adolescents, he advocates abstinence, period.

His employer, the North Charleston-based Heritage Community Services, has spread the same message for the past 10 years. Not only in South Carolina, but in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maine and Rhode Island.

Heritage Community Services began more than a decade ago as an offshoot of a Christian anti-abortion group called Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center. The two maintained a close relationship, and their offices are sandwiched in a North Charleston strip mall.

Anne Badgley founded the pregnancy center in 1986 to provide support groups, parenting classes and supplies. In the decade that followed, she saw dozens of desperate teenagers. Many of them were unmarried. Some had venereal diseases.

Their damaged lives prompted Badgley in 1995 to found Heritage Community Services to teach young adults abstinence-only. She kicked off the program at several U.S. Naval hospitals in 1996. Soon after, Heritage received a grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for a pilot program to run in middle schools and high schools in Dorchester County.

Federal money for Heritage started as a trickle during the Clinton years and has flowed more freely during President Bush’s time in office.

Badgley campaigned vigorously for Bush in his 2000 and 2004 presidential races, and for Republican David Beasley in 1998 when he ran for re-election as South Carolina’s governor. In 1999 Badgley organized a meeting between Bush and state conservative leaders and helped introduce him to key state Republicans.§ion=localnews

Religion, Rome and The Reich: The Vatican’s other dirty secret
Forget ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘God’s HQ on earth’ has a real ghost in the cupboard – collusion with the Nazis. No wonder then, says Peter Stanford, that the church is hiding papers on the dealings of ‘Hitler’s Pope’, Pius XII
Published: 21 May 2006

As The Da Vinci Code arrives in our cinemas with its lurid accusations of a church cover-up of Jesus’s life as a family man, Roman Catholic leaders have been vocal in dismissing the film of Dan Brown’s bestseller as unsuitable viewing for believers. Cardinal amongst its sins according to them is its suggestion that a church organisation, Opus Dei, would attempt to manipulate history to fit its beliefs. But that, it was charged last week, is precisely what the Vatican is doing in regard of a much more recent event, the Holocaust.

An unflattering spotlight fell on God’s business address on Earth when the German Justice Minister, Brigitte Zypries, announced on Tuesday that her country is finally to open its huge archive of Nazi records on 17 million concentration camp inmates and slave labourers. Germany’s belated move to answer the pleas for access to its archives by Holocaust survivors and their families now leaves only the Vatican standing all alone in denying them the chance to read what is in its wartime documents.

You might expect an organisation that – as the bishops have been busy pointing out last week to counter the picture of their church presented in The Da Vinci Code – is dedicated to truth, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation to have been among the first to offer access to its files. And its refusal to open its secret files has only increased suspicion that it has something it wants to cover up – principally evidence of the alleged pro-Nazi sympathies of wartime pope, Pius XII.


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  1. Wolfgang DelaSangre
    August 17, 2006

    1) Sometimes I wonder why people don’t just take the time to read the Bible and talk to a Christian and actually find out what we’re up to instead of making assumptions just because we say “One way” instead of “Maybe” when it comes to God.

    2) The Iranian activist has a point, though. But people are starting to use the “Seperation” system to silence religion, so I’m beginning to wonder…

    3) And the judge knows this… how? Personally, I don’t set much store in the ability of man to discern for himself how the world works, and that includes myself. And that is based entirely on world events and my watching people every single day. Honestly, why I’m so observant, I’ll never know. But I do miss the days of being an ignorant five-year-old. Then again, who doesn’t?

    4) You know, abstinence is actually much more effective than you think. In fact, it prevents pregnancy and the transfer of STDs 100% of the time.

    5) Another good reason not to be a Catholic! Despite the fact that Jesus’ gift of salvation is [i]free,[/i] they still preach “Works!” and make a bunch of unnecessary rules. Preventing people from reading those reports on the concentration camps is just plain silly. Those documents are of historical importance, and in no way harm the Catholic faith. That is, they don’t as far as I am aware.

  2. Wolfgang DelaSangre
    August 17, 2006

    In regards to 1): Wow. Run-on sentence if I ever saw one.

    In regards to 5): Blast it, the Italics tags didn’t work. Oh well, you get the point.

  3. August 17, 2006

    As to your #4, it only works 100% if it is practiced 100% and it isn’t. Abstinence to a teen is like putting a steak in front of a dog and telling them not to eat it.

    Masturbation works 100% of the time and deals with the built up sexual tension caused by raging hormones (not addressed by abstinence) but you will never see it taught in sex ed.

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