Category Archives: religion

Cui Bono?

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

The lovely and talented Taggles recently sent me a very interesting press release from the ACLU. It seems that a Florida court deprived Samantha Burton, a pregnant woman, of her right to determine her own medical care, and the ACLU is a tad exercised about that fact.

Here is what happened. Ms. Burton went to a Tallahassee hospital to get treatment for a difficult pregnancy. Once she got there, someone (possibly her attending physician) informed the State of Florida that an uppity wimminz in her 25th week of pregnancy might (gasp!) be considering an abortion. The State, horrified at this exercise of free will by a private citizen with scary ladyparts, went to the Circuit Court of Leon County to implore that this travesty of justice be stopped. (snark)

The Court decided that to “protect the interests of her unborn child,” Ms. Burton did not have the right to refuse any medical care that might extend the life of her child. Ms. Burton was ordered to stay in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy – up to 15 weeks – in order to keep her from doing anything that might harm the child.

According to the ACLU’s amicus (“friend of the Court”) brief, when Ms. Burton sensibly requested to change hospitals:

The court further ordered that “Ms. Burton’s request to change hospitals is denied as such a change is not in the child’s best interest at this time.” (Id. at 3.) The court approved the State’s wholesale control over Ms. Burton’s liberty and medical care during pregnancy on the erroneous legal premise that the “ultimate welfare” of the fetus is the “controlling factor” and was sufficient to override her constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, and autonomy. (Id. at 1.) After at least three days of this state-compelled confinement and management of Ms.Burton’s pregnancy, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section on Ms. Burton and discovered that her fetus had already died in utero. Thereafter, she was released from the hospital. (Appellant’s Ex. E, at 1; Ex. F, at 1.)

The brief continued:

As addressed fully below, first, the court erred as a matter of law by failing to give any real consideration to the liberty and privacy rights of Ms. Burton and instead applying what amounted to a “best interest of the fetus” standard. (emphasis mine) Such an approach turns on its head well-established standards protecting the right of every adult to make private decisions about their own medical care. Second, the court erred in equating the asserted interest in protecting fetal life to the State’s “parens patriae authority to ensure that children receive medical treatment which is necessary for the preservation of their life and health,” (see Appellant’s Ex. D, at 1), and in holding that the interest in fetal life justified confining Ms. Burton to a hospital bed and overriding her right to refuse medical treatment. Finally, applying the correct constitutional analysis, and looking to appropriate medical standards of care, it is evident that the State did not demonstrate the type of compelling interest necessary to justify the extraordinary use of involuntary confinement and forced medical treatment in this case.

I have said before that the fundiegelicals are not pro-life. They are pro-UNBORN life. They consciously and maliciously elevate the potential life of the fetus (which, ironically and sadly in this case, was already dead) over the life of the mother. Why? Because the mother is nothing, an empty vessel. She has no rights and no function except to serve at Man’s Pleasure. The Bible tells us so, somewhere. Where? Don’t bother me with such minutiae. I’m sure Jesus said it right after He said “Homosexuality is a sin” and “Abortion is murder.” A-MEN!

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Dear Catholics: Have You Had Enough Yet?

Pope Benedict the Horrible

Pope Benedict the Horrible

My Catholic sisters and brothers, what will it take for you to get rid of Pope Benedict?

Since his investiture, he has shoved his heartless, narrow-minded, retrograde and dangerous dogma down our throats. The taste is bitter indeed. After the humanity and warmth of John Paul II, the world deserves better than this.

The Pope today reignited the controversy over the Catholic church’s stance on condom use as he made his first trip to Africa.

The pontiff said condoms were not the answer to the continent’s fight against HIV and Aids and could make the problem worse.

Benedict XVI made his comments as he flew to Cameroon for the first leg of a six-day trip that will also see him travelling to Angola.

The timing of his remarks outraged health agencies trying to halt the spread of HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 22 million people are infected.

The Roman Catholic church encourages sexual abstinence and fidelity to prevent the disease from spreading, but it is a policy that has divided some clergy working with Aids patients.

The pontiff, speaking to journalists on his flight, said the condition was “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”.

Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, said that if the Pope was serious about preventing new HIV infections he would focus on promoting wider access to condoms and spreading information about how best to use them.

No, of course the Pope is not serious about preventing new HIV infections. What is he, a doctor? He is only interested in promoting his own, 8th-century version of morality, no matter how many people it kills. In his rigid, hateful mind, only those who adhere to “Christian values” deserve to live. Clearly, those 22 million people in Africa who have HIV are being punished for their sinful ways. It’s no skin off his nose if they die prolonged, painful deaths.

This belief, of course, extends to 9-year-old girls who have been raped by their stepfathers as well. They deserve to die bearing their rapist’s twins, don’tcha know, because somehow, I guess, the bitch was askin’ for it; and of course, her parents and doctors deserve to go to hell. (The rapist stepfather was not excommunicated, of course. Don’t ask me why; I’m not capable of understanding this kind of pretzel logic.)

The Catholic Church (and Pope Benedict XVI) were presented with a public relations powder keg last March when news broke that a nine-year-old Brazilian girl underwent an abortion after she’d been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather. Catholics from Sao Paolo to Paris were outraged after the swift public declaration by the local archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, that the girl’s family, as well as the doctors who performed the abortion, were automatically excommunicated. Monsignor Rino Fisichella, a solidly traditionalist Rome prelate considered close to Benedict, tried to soften the Church’s approach on the Brazilian case by writing in the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that the girl “should have been defended, hugged and held tenderly to help her feel that we were all on her side.” Two weeks ago, the Vatican announced that Sobrinho, who had been serving past retirement, was stepping down. And that’s where the Church stood. Until now.

 In a tucked away “clarification” published on page 7 of a recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican produced a document that unequivocally confirmed automatic excommunication for anyone involved in an abortion – even in such a situation as dire as the Brazilian case. It settles any questions about the absolute nature of Church doctrine on the matter of abortion – but could potentially reignite the PR firestorm. (Check out the original story of the controversial abortion in Brazil.)

So, let’s review the Doctrine of Benedict. If you are not abstinent or “faithful” to your lover, you shouldn’t use a condom because it will spread AIDs, and besides, Jesus said no condoms! (Yes, that’s in the Bible. Look it up, sinner!) Then, no matter why a Catholic gets an abortion, even if it’s a matter of life and death, that Catholic is going to hell, and so is her doctor and all her relatives.

Does anyone, ANYONE think that Jesus decreed any of this cruelty? Whatever happened to “He who is without sin shall throw the first stone” and “Love your neighbor as yourself?” This Pope seems more like an accountant than a religious leader, relentlessly toting up violations of financial laws and imposing the harshest possible penalties for them. Where is the compassion? Where is the God? Where is the spirituality?

The evidence is clear: Catholicism desperately needs a Reform Movement. Just as the Episcopalian Church recently voted to ordain LGBT ministers, and Jimmy Carter left the Baptist Church over its inherent misogyny and recently joined a group to help religious leaders fight against it, so does the Catholic Church need to move its beliefs into the 21st Century. All it takes is some courageous Catholic leaders to step up and defy the Pope.

I pray that this happens soon.

Toxic Meme Alert! Today’s Phrase is: Abortion Rights

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Abortion rights: the term is everywhere these days. 

Pro-choice organizations use it; anti-choice organizations use it. The phrase seems to have slipped into today’s lexicon without making a splash. But really, what does it mean?

Let me ask you, feminist females who are in the pro-choice camp. Do you want abortion rights? Are you going to go around carrying a sign saying, “My body, my abortion?”

I don’t think so.

I believe that this meme is classic rightwing ratf*cking from the Gingrich school, and to use it is giving the He-Man Woman-Haters’ Club yet another victory in the framing wars.

Here’s how they do it. First, they smear pro-choice activists as “pro-abortion” (yes, this meme is all over anti-choice sites). BZZZZZT! Wrong-o. No woman is pro-abortion. No woman says,”Hooray! I’m getting an abortion today!” No woman goes skipping down the street, deciding between a mani-pedi, lunch with Samantha, Carrie and Charlotte, and an abortion. That idea is pure misogynistic crap. Women are airheads who can’t be trusted to make these decisions, the fundiegelicals imply (or state outright). These godless temptresses think abortion is cool and hip. They don’t want the responsibility of caring for the child they, apparently, created all by themselves out of angel wings and holy water (because of course, men are never blamed or held responsible for an unwanted pregnancy by the fundies).

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Happy Kwanzaa!

Happy Kwanzaa!

Happy Kwanzaa!

May the Seven Principles light your way in the New Year.

More later.

Merry Almost Christmas!

I Hate You, and You, and You...

I Hate You, and You, and You...

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to take a break from my usual snark to ask this question:

Who Would Jesus Hate?

Now, if you ask Rick Warren, it’s Jews, women who have abortions and are not properly submissive to their husbands, and teh gays. (Whew – that’s a lotta hatin’.)

If you ask the pope, it’s teh gays. (Yes, homosexuality is hot! Oh, that’s not what he meant?)

I know I’m a Jooo, but so was Jesus. And if we’re going to cherry-pick the Bible to make it reflect our beliefs (as all Judeo-Christians do, since the book is full of contradictions and outdated restrictions), then why can’t we pick the most enlightened parts, the most tolerant parts, the most loving parts?

Like this one:

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing….

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

And what about this, which is directly attributed to Jesus himself?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:36-40

Personally, I don’t know if Jesus even existed. I believe the Bible is the work of men, not God, and so I don’t venerate the Bible in any way. But the fact remains that billions of people all over the world think the Old and New Testaments are holy, and base their personal morality on these ancient pieces of literature. And many spiritual and political leaders seem to be focusing on, and promoting in very loud and nasty ways, only the most divisive and hate-filled interpretations of Biblical passages.

This holiday season, my wish is that all of us all over the world – atheists, agnostics, of Judeo-Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or other religious beliefs – start to focus on our commonalities, not our differences; that we begin to rise above the divisions that politicians create among us and start demanding action, not empty symbolism, from our elected representatives; and that we start to create a better world, where hatred of The Other is finally understood as hatred of ourselves, and it is recognized that all humans, no matter who they love or what they look like or what sex they are, deserve equal justice under the law.

We can do this, and we will.

Happy Holidays.

Churches and Gay Marriage: Why Don’t They Mix?

(NOTE: My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of terrorism in Mumbai. Such a terrible tragedy. I just can’t write more about it today.)

Why Is This Scary?

Why Is This Scary?

After the passage of California’s Proposition 8,  I’ve been shaking my head over why many religious institutions are virulently against gay marriage. This interview with Richard Rodriguez, an author, fervent Catholic, proud Hispanic, and “out” gay man, has a very interesting take on the subject. According to him, it’s all about the family and the wimminz, and how the church is afraid of losing its power over them both. I have to admit that I’ve never heard of this theory before, but Rodriguez makes a convincing case for his point of view.

The first couple of paragraphs pack quite a wallop.

For author Richard Rodriguez, no one is talking about the real issues behind Proposition 8.

While conservative churches are busy trying to whip up another round of culture wars over same-sex marriage, Rodriguez says the real reason for their panic lies elsewhere: the breakdown of the traditional heterosexual family and the shifting role of women in society and the church itself. As the American family fractures and the majority of women choose to live without men, churches are losing their grip on power and scapegoating gays and lesbians for their failures.

Rodriguez goes on to say this about how the feminist movement and the gay rights movement are linked, in the minds of those who are invested in religious institutions:

American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn’t declining, it’s increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people — it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women’s movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually — even form our sense of what a sex is — sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers.

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Finding His Religion (and Using it for Votes)

If you were Barack Obama, and you had close, long-time and (to put it kindly) problematic associations with fringe religious figures like Wright, Meeks and Pfleger, wouldn’t you kinda sorta downplay your religiosity?

Apparently not.

A spokesperson said the meeting of some 30 people will include leaders from several denominations including Evangelical, Catholic and Protestant members of the faith community. Among those taking part are Bishop Phillip Cousin, the Rev. Stephen Thurston and Dr. T. Dewitt Smith.

“Reaching out to the faith community is a priority for Barack Obama and will be a priority under an Obama Administration. This is one of several meetings he will have over the coming months with religious leaders,” Jen Psaki told reporters on the campaign plane.

“He’s done it before. He’ll do it again. Some of those in attendance are supporters,” Psaki said. “It’s a combination of people who are from Chicago and from outside Chicago.”

Heh heh. I love the myopic view of the United States from Psaki. “From Chicago and from outside Chicago.” (Reminds me of those jokes about how New Yorkers see America.) And notice how there are no Jewish or Muslim leaders included? Yeah, me too.

It appears that Obama’s General Election strategy is to try to peel off some of the evangelical and Christian Conservative votes from McCain. Senator McCain will have trouble with them, since he is not a born-again Christian like George Bush, and I believe at one point in his life he actually believed women should be able to control their own bodies. (GASP!) The Christian Broadcast Network’s David Brody is so excited about this, he gushes like a tween meeting Hannah Montana:

As we first reported on The Brody File, Obama is meeting with influential mega-pastor TD Jakes and pro-life Catholic constitutional law professor Doug Kmiec… That’s a big deal. A really big deal. The fact that these two conservative men are meeting with Obama may be a signal that Obama’s campaign is ready to break down the traditional wall of separation between conservatives and liberals when it comes to religious talk.

[snip]

Folks, this is an important development. It shows that the game has changed. Old rules don’t apply. We’re in uncharted territory. John McCain’s religious outreach team has to now step to the plate and work hard for faith voters. It’s not automatic.

Oh, whatever. So Senator Obama is pandering to the evangelicals a little. The wall between church and state will be built back up under Obama. Nothing to worry about. Right?

The Brody File has learned that in the next two weeks Barack Obama’s campaign will unveil a major new program to attract younger Evangelicals and Catholics to their campaign.

It’s called the “Joshua Generation Project.” The name is based on the biblical story of how Joshua’s generation led the Israelites into the Promised Land.

A source close to the Obama campaign tells The Brody File the following:

“The Joshua Generation project will be the Obama campaign’s outreach to young people of faith. There’s unprecedented energy and excitement for Obama among young evangelicals and Catholics. The Joshua Generation project will tap into that excitement and provide young people of faith opportunities to stand up for their values and move the campaign forward.”

I am getting very, very worried. Every single thing about Obama’s campaign is a parallel of George W. Bush’s campaign! Obama has cheated and used sexism and race-baiting in order to become the presumptive nominee. (In 2000, Bush’s campaign used a push poll in South Carolina to knock out McCain by asking the voters if they “knew” McCain had a black baby out of wedlock.) He uses religion as a recruiting tool. He speaks in slogans and code and has a cult-like following. He campaigns as a “compassionate conservative,” throwing away millions of core Democratic voters with both hands, while fervently reaching out to core Republican voters like evangelical conservative Christians.

I would like for someone, anyone, to explain to me what Democratic value Barack Obama actually stands for. And “just words” won’t do. I’m talking about something on which he has actually taken a stand and affirmed with his vote.

[cricket cricket cricket]

So, as it stands right now, I’ve got a choice between two conservative wannabes in November. McCain is trying to convince evangelicals that he’s a real right-winger…and so is Obama.

France is looking better and better all the time.