Tag Archives: Abstinence-Only

Catholic Group Plans To Take Same-Sex Marriage Debate To School Districts

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edited screencap of Kids in class learningAn evangelical Catholic group asked central Ohio Catholics to change the argument against same-sex marriage to ‘a child-focused civil institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers.’ The group wants to move the debate into the schools. It reminds one of how religious conservatives fought against abortion and real sex education by forcing schools to adopt abstinence-only sex education curriculum. We know how that turned out.
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Church and State news in brief

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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.


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.


Silver Ring Thing and a recommended website

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On 2/23, the ACLU reached an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a case challenging federal funding of religious activities in a nationwide abstinence-only-until-marriage program, the Silver Ring Thing.

HHS agreed to stop funding the program which also proselytize to the teens.

Silver Ring Thing was profiled on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes and I use part of the program in my post “Religion can’t solve society’s ills”

Then the program was featured because in order to get its Federal funding it couldn’t talk about using condoms. HHS has passed on the false notion that condoms don’t work which is the highlight of many religious conservative arguments against real sex education. The story also pointed out that abstinence-only programs don’t work.

The 2/23 agreement was because the ACLU sued HHS for violating the 1st Amendment by having tax funds support a program that:

According to legal papers filed by the ACLU, the Silver Ring Thing describes its mission as “offering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the best way to live a sexually pure life.” During the Silver Ring Thing’s flagship three-hour program, members testify about how accepting Jesus Christ improved their lives, quote Bible passages, and urge audience members to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into their lives. In addition, the official silver ring of the program is inscribed with a reference to the biblical verse “1 Thess. 4:3-4,” which reads “God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor.”

ACLU Announces Settlement in Challenge to Government-Funded Religion in the Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Program the “Silver Ring Thing” (2/23/2006)

Less you think you have to be an Atheist or other Freethinker to support separation of church and state. Air America hosts a show all about religion and the need for separation of church and state.

State of Belief is hosted by the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and airs Sundays 5-6 PM on Air America

Gaddy, leads the national nonpartisan grassroots and educational organizations, The Interfaith Alliance and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation and serves as the Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana and is a past president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The show’s website http://www.airamericaradio.com/stateofbelief/ talks about some of the items I’ve written about here including the electioneering of Rev Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church.

If you can’t catch the show, check out the website.

Religion can’t solve society’s ills

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A story has been making the rounds of the news media over the past weekend.

A Kentucky judge had been giving people in his court the option of attending worship services or going to jail when convicted.

LONDON, Ky. – A Kentucky judge offers some drug and alcohol offenders the option of attending worship services instead of going to jail or rehab, a practice some say violates separation of church and state.

District Judge Michael Caperton, 50, a devout Christian, said his goal is to “help people and their families.”

“I don’t think there’s a church-state issue because it’s not mandatory and I say worship services instead of church,” he said.

Alternative sentencing is popular across the country: ordering vandals to repaint a graffiti-covered wall, for example.

Ky. judge offers choice: Go to prison – or church

Setting aside the constitutional question of a judge giving special treatment to a convict based on if they go to church, this case highlights one of the myths the religious right makes about the secular left.

It is said that religion will help people turn away from a life of crime or will help them cope with time in prison. Many states spend tax payer dollars to support prison religious activities (as reported in my last post). Mainline and other religious groups spend time to recruit and tend to prisoners.

They reason that they are either helping the prisoner reform, give them another focus in their life, or filling some void.

But if you look at the religious identifications of prisoners you will most likely find the same break down in religious preferences that you do in the general public. 80% believers and 20% non-believers.

The web page Prison Incarceration and Religious Preference attempts to disprove an old argument that religious people tend to commit more crimes.

I don’t believe that but I do think that religion has NOTHING to do with rehabilitation or the prisoners everyday life.

Many courts force repeat DUI offenders to attend Alcoholic Anonymous. AA uses a religious based 12 step program to help the drunk kick their habit. One of the first steps is to give your life to “God”.

Most members, before turning to A.A., had already admitted that they could not control their drinking. Alcohol had become a power greater than themselves, and it had been accepted on those terms. A.A. suggests that to achieve and maintain sobriety, alcoholics need to accept and depend upon another Power recognized as greater than themselves. Some alcoholics choose to consider the A.A. group itself as the power greater than themselves; for many others, this Power is God — as they, individually, understand Him; still others rely upon entirely different concepts of a Higher Power.

The Fellowship of A.A.

But it is the religious basis among other reasons that lead 95% of newcomers to drop out of AA in their first year and 50% drop out after 30 days.

Harvard University: Why People Drop Out of AA

Another pet project of the religious right is Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs that have replaced sex education classes in the public schools.

Teaching about abstinence is not a bad thing as it is one sure way to prevent pregnancy and STD’s but the programs now being funded by the Federal Government doesn’t allow comprehensive sex education. Many of the programs are staffed and run by religious groups who also proselytize to students.

These Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs don’t show much effect and in some cases give wrong information about sex.

Among the misconceptions cited by Waxman’s investigators:

• A 43-day-old fetus is a “thinking person.”

• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

One curriculum, called “Me, My World, My Future,” teaches that women who have an abortion “are more prone to suicide” and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.

Some course materials cited in Waxman’s report present as scientific fact notions about a man’s need for “admiration” and “sexual fulfillment” compared with a woman’s need for “financial support.” One book in the “Choosing Best” series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. “Moral of the story,” notes the popular text: “Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.”

Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says

These programs attack one of the basic elements of effective safe sex – condoms. They tell teens that condoms fail more often then scientific studies have shown to be the case. Also because the programs don’t allow the teaching of comprehensive sex education, teens coming out of the programs are more likely to have unprotected sex.

“Sex education doesn’t cause all these negative outcomes. What causes these negative outcomes is kids who are having sex and aren’t protecting themselves,” says Columbia University’s Peter Bearman, who co-authored the most comprehensive study ever done on adolescent health and sexuality.

It was a $45-million project, funded by 17 separate federal agencies. Bearman’s investigators interviewed more than 20,000 young people about virginity pledge programs — and there was some good news.

“Pledging will help them delay sex for, say, 18 months — a year and a half,” says Bearman. “It’s a big deal in the lives of teenagers. Eighteen months is a phenomenally long time. It’s almost two school years.”

So what’s the downside?

“The downside is that, when they have sex, pledgers are one-third less likely to use condoms at first sex,” says Bearman. “So all of the benefit of the delay in terms of pregnancy-risk and in terms of STD acquisition — poof — it just disappears because they’re so much less likely to use a condom at first sex.”

Why do they not use condoms?

“They’ve been taught that condoms don’t work; they’re fearful of them. They don’t know how to use them,” says Bearman. “Their peers don’t use them. They have no experience with them. They don’t know how to get them. They’re had to get access to. For whatever reason they don’t use them, that has long-term consequences.”

Taking The Pledge

The fact is that religion is not going to reduce the crime rate, stop you from being addicted to alcohol and drugs, or protect your children when they start having sex.

We need to address those issues in a rational, fact based, way. That is the only way we can solve them.