Showing posts with label Women's Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women's Rights. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Biblical Marriage & Traditional Christian Values

How can one argue with what's in the Babble?  

Come on, conservative Christians, let's stick up for "traditional" values and legislate these religious beliefs:
I came across this chart on Facebook.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The GOP's War on Women's Rights and Poor Children; Democratic Representatives Moore & Speier Fight Back

     Do you remember October and November, when Republicans said that the election was about job creation?  Well, the past month has shown their true agenda.  One of the groups they are targeting is women.  How is this for the Gospel According to Hate?

     MoveOn.org compiled the following report:

Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP's War on Women

1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't yet. Shocker.
2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that couldmake it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. 
5) In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life. 
6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said.Women should really be home with the kids, not out working. 
7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
9) Congress just voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing toeliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).

Sources: 

1. "'Forcible Rape' Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding," The Huffington Post, February 9, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206084 
"Extreme Abortion Coverage Ban Introduced," Center for American Progress, January 20, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205961 
2. "Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As 'Accusers,'" The Huffington Post, February 4, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206007 
3. "South Dakota bill would legalize killing abortion doctors," Salon, February 15, 2011http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/02/15/south_dakota_abortion_killing_bill 
4. "House GOP Proposes Cuts to Scores of Sacred Cows," National Journal, February 9, 2011http://nationaljournal.com/house-gop-proposes-cuts-to-scores-of-sacred-cows-20110209 
5. "New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion," Talking Points Memo, February 4, 2011http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205974 
6. "Republican Officials Cut Head Start Funding, Saying Women Should be Married and Home with Kids," Think Progress, February 16, 2011http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/16/gop-women-kids/ 
7. "Bye Bye, Big Bird. Hello, E. Coli," The New Republic, Feburary 12, 2011http://www.tnr.com/blog/83387/house-republican-spending-cuts-pell-education-usda-pbs 
8. "House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy," The Hill, February 16, 2011 http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/144585-house-gop-spending-cuts-will-devastate-women-families-and-economy- 
9. "House passes measure stripping Planned Parenthood funding," MSNBC, February 18,2011 http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/18/6080756-house-passes-measure-stripping-planned-parenthood-funding
"GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds," Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2011http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/02/09/gop-spending-plan-x-ing-out-title-x-family-planning-funds/ 
10. Ibid. 
"Birth Control for Horses, Not for Women," Blog for Choice, February 17, 2011http://www.blogforchoice.com/archives/2011/02/birth-control-f.html
    Here's Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) speaking out against #9 on the above list, from her own experience of becoming a teenage mother in poverty.  She calls the GOP out on their claim that they are helping black babies and both parties for the gutting of support programs for low income mothers.


     Here's Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives calling the Republicans out for their hypocrisy of speaking about job creation while attacking people's private medical decisions.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adults Are Also Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

     A recent Religion Dispatches' article, "Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church: When Adults Are Victims," tells a story that I know all too well from my own experience of being sexually assaulted, exploited, and abused by my priest while I was in college.  The article tells the story of Katia Birge, who at 25 was raped by a charismatic lay minister in her Denver parish only to be bullied by church officials when she came forward and sued.  (Click here to read the full account, which because of it's length I will not repost.)

     This particular quote from the article sums up what I learned in therapy after seeing my case covered-up:
     To Jeb Barrett, Denver Director of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a peer counseling group that Birge turned to after the attack, her story follows classic lines of abuse of authority. “There are many cases where very charismatic men develop very close and controlling relationships with the people given to them for pastoral care. There’s a kind of intimacy that’s of a different level than the grooming of a child. You groom a child with favors and candy and strokes and get their trust. With an adult, it’s different.”
     Adult victims could comprise up to 25% of all clergy abuse cases, estimates David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP, but often face considerable skepticism about their stories. “In the eyes of the law, victims like Birge are adults. But that doesn’t mean that emotionally, psychologically, in the presence of a trusted, powerful, charismatic clergy person, that in fact they can function like adults.” Considering the abundant ethical and legal prohibitions against doctors or therapists having even consensual sex with patients, in recognition of coercive power imbalances in play, Clohessy notes, “none of us have been raised from birth to think that a therapist is God’s representative or that a doctor can get me into heaven.”  [Another estimate is that over 95% of the victims of sexual exploitation by clergy are adult women.]
     In my case, I was completely groomed by my perpetrator.  Like Ms. Birge, who's perpetrator (Hernadez) called her a "whore" and told her that no man would want to be with her, after he'd just raped her, I was told by my confessor/priest/perpetrator that I was "seductive," "manipulative," and "sinful."   Because he was "God's representative," I believed him.  I believed that I was was the depraved sinner who had corrupted a holy priest.  This dynamic gave him more power over me by increasing my dependency upon him for his spiritual insights and sacramental graces, including forgiveness.  After I escaped his grasp, it took years of therapy and the recognition that my perpetrator was continuing to groom other barely-legal students--who my friends at the time referred to as "the new Tom"--for me to find the strength to come forward.

     Here are a few more paragraphs from Ms. Birge's case that ring true to my experience of coming forward:
     To victims’ advocates, this level of intimidation, and the attempt to recast Hernandez as an insignificant volunteer, is par for the course across the country, and especially in Denver, where Church lawyers have used increasingly aggressive, victim-blaming tactics as part of a brutal Church defense industry, composed of attorneys, insurers and the bishops who hire them. 
      “That’s been our experience here,” says Jeb Barrett, “that people who have gone to the Archdiocese have found their families scrutinized and questioned. It’s revictimizing, and it discourages other victims from coming forward.”
     I was told by the powers-that-be to be extremely careful with whom I spoke about my accusations and that reputations were at stake.  They asked "Why would you want to hurt your parishioners by scandalizing them with this?"  Those in power refused to speak to my parents and to respond to my sister's emails, even though my family was reeling in the face of the abuse and in need of pastoral care.  My counselor's advice and prescriptions were summarily dismissed, for she was a woman, and a lay woman, at that.  (This wasn't 1950.  It was 2004.)
     If anything, adds David Clohessy, “I think Church officials are even more reckless and callous when a predator exploits adults.”
      This is very true.  A priest exploiting an adult is almost a relief to some bishops: "Well, it's not like he raped an altar boy."  But the psychological/spiritual damage to the victimized adult is horrendous.  Like Ms. Birge, I also suffered depression and panic attacks.  After church officials covered things up, I became suicidal.  While I left the priesthood, my job, my community, and the church, losing everything I knew, my perpetrator was given a promotion to be in charge of "Catholic Identity" for the diocesan schools and remained in his campus ministry position, where he continued to have an ongoing supply of handsome, naive, and malleable young men fresh out of high school; gay boys like me, who were closeted, feeling rejected by the church's anti-gay teachings, in need of acceptance and love by God and his ministers, and ripe for exploitation by a known predator allowed to remain in power.

     Thank you Ms. Birge for coming forward.  May your witness inspire other adult victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to speak out.  The scandal doesn't end at the age of consent.


If you or anyone you know has been abused by clergy, here are some resources:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ugandan Lesbian to be Deported from UK and Possibly Face Death; David Kato, Ugandan Gay Rights Leader, Assassinated

     From an email I just received from Get Equal:
     Brenda Namigadde, a Ugandan lesbian in the UK, faces deportation TOMORROW back to the life-threatening persecution she fled eight years ago.
     We just found out that one of the leading figures in the LGBT movement in Uganda, David Kato, was murdered yesterday in his home. This awful tragedy makes clear what's at stake for Brenda if she is forced to return.
     Will you join more than 10,000 people in 85 countries and sign this urgent letter pressuring U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May to stop Brenda’s deportation?
     Click HERE to sign the letter.

     There was tragic news out of Uganda today.  The Guardian reports the murder of David Kato, gay civil rights pioneer and leader:
     He was known as the "grandfather of the kuchus", as gay people in Uganda call themselves, a brave and fiercely committed activist who led the struggle for gay rights for more than a decade. David Kato went to jail for his beliefs, and to court, winning his greatest victory three weeks ago against a newspaper that had called for him to be hanged.
     But early on Wednesday afternoon he appeared to have paid the ultimate price: he had been battered to death with a hammer in his home in Kampala, shocking the gay and human rights communities locally and abroad.
     Kato's friends and colleagues believe his sexuality and work are likely to have played a role in his murder. Oloka-Onyango said Kato did not appear to have been involved in "shady business or party politics, the things that normally lead to this kind of attack".
     "This is a very strange thing to happen in the middle of the day, and suggests pre-meditation," he said.
     A joint statement from several civil society organisations in South Africa, where Kato lived in the 1990s, paid tribute to "our courageous queer African martyr", and said that certain politicians and religious leaders in Uganda were "at least in part responsible for this callous murder" due to their "fostering of prejudice and homophobia".

Friday, January 21, 2011

Russian Orthodox Archpriest Calls for National Dress Code

     When absurdity rules...

      A top official of the increasingly powerful Russian Orthodox Church has triggered a storm of outrage by calling for a "national dress code" that would force women to dress modestly in public and require businesses to throw out "indecently" clad customers.
     Women, said Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, can't be trusted to clothe themselves properly.
     "It is wrong to think that women should decide themselves what they can wear in public places or at work," he said Tuesday. "If a woman dresses like a prostitute, her colleagues must have the right to tell her that."
     "Moreover," Archpriest Chaplin added, "if a woman dresses and acts indecently, this is a direct route to unhappiness, one-night stands, brief marriages followed by rat-like divorces, ruined lives of children, and madness."
     One could substitute any number of things for "if a woman dresses and acts indecently" in that statement and it would make more sense from what we've seen repeated throughout history.  For example, try the sentence substituting "a political career" or "celibacy" or "a nasty goatee" or "religious power" or "Christianity."  The list could go on and on.

     "Archpriest Chaplin's comments sound absurd," says Irina Shcherbakova, head of youth programs for Memorial, Russia's largest human rights organization. "Instead of dealing with real social issues – such as the rise of ethnic hatred – and teaching tolerance, they busy themselves with this nonsense. Most women will ignore this but, especially since Islamic religious authorities are in support, it does threaten a serious attack on women's rights."
     Chaplin's remarks have not generated the groundswell of public fury that would erupt in a Western country, but that doesn't mean it's likely to gain much public traction either, says Masha Lipman, editor of the Moscow Carnegie Center's Pro et Contra journal.
     "The average Russian woman will just shrug this off and regard it as having nothing to do with her life," she says. "In post-Soviet times the church has enjoyed much more success at winning concessions from the state than it has in winning souls.... Polls show that the majority of Russians respect the church as a traditional institution but not as a moral authority over their lives."
     Though Russians have for centuries been told what to do and how to behave by clerical and state authorities, Ms. Lipman argues that those days are past.
     "One big difference between today's Russia and the USSR is that, though the state is politically authoritarian, it no longer attempts to interfere in peoples' private lives," and it's not likely to empower the church to do so either, she says.
     If only the United States, the greatest nation on earth, where all are supposedly created equal, could practice such separation of church and state. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Justice Scalia Justifies Discrimination Against Women and Minorities Using the Fourteenth Amendment

     When it comes to the rights of women (and, by default, LGBT persons and racial or religious minorities), Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justice Scalia has voiced his biblical understanding of The Constitution of the United States.

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.
What do you do when the original meaning of a constitutional provision is either in doubt or is unknown?
I do not pretend that originalism is perfect. There are some questions you have no easy answer to, and you have to take your best shot. ... We don't have the answer to everything, but by God [sic] we have an answer to a lot of stuff...
     "By God [sic]" indeed.

      Here is one response as reported in The Huffington Post:
     For the record, the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause states: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
     Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, called the justice's comments "shocking" and said he was essentially saying that if the government sanctions discrimination against women, the judiciary offers no recourse.  In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that's up to them," she said. "But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there's nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them. And that's a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It's especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection."
     Greenberger added that under Scalia's doctrine, women could be legally barred from juries, paid less by the government, receive fewer benefits in the armed forces, and be excluded from state-run schools -- all things that have happened in the past, before their rights to equal protection were enforced.
     "In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they [women] were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger," Adam Cohen wrote in Time in September. "It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection -- or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so."
     From a well-articulated editorial in The New York Times:
     Justice Scalia is now getting attention for his outlandish view, expressed in an interview in the magazine California Lawyer, that the promise of equal protection in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment does not extend to protecting women against sex discrimination. Legislatures may outlaw sex discrimination, Justice Scalia suggested, but if they decided to enact laws sanctioning such unfair treatment, it would not be unconstitutional.
     This is not the first time Justice Scalia has espoused this notion, and it generally tracks his jurisprudence in the area. Still, for a sitting member of the nation’s highest court to be pressing such an antiquated view of women’s rights is jarring, to say the least.
     No less dismaying is his notion that women, gays and other emerging minorities should be left at the mercy of the prevailing political majority when it comes to ensuring fair treatment. It is an “originalist” approach wholly antithetical to the framers’ understanding that vital questions of people’s rights should not be left solely to the political process. It also disrespects the wording of the Equal Protection Clause, which is intentionally broad, and its purpose of ensuring a fairer society.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pope Benedict Laps up Conservative Anglican Converts Who Want to Keep Women from Ordination

     The Los Angeles Times reports:
     Five Anglican bishops announced Monday that they will accept an offer from Pope Benedict XVI to convert to Catholicism, primarily over their opposition to the Church of England's decision to ordain female bishops.
     The five bishops, in a joint statement, spoke of their distress caused by developments in the Anglican Church that they felt were "incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the church for nearly 2,000 years."
     Because when you're looking for an institution that maintains the "God[sic]-given" "historical vocation" to repress women, there's nothing like the Roman Catholic Church.  How's that for communion and a spirit of ecumenical dialog?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tell Clarence Thomas to Apologize to Anita Hill

     This from Credo Action:
     It's been 20 years since Anita Hill courageously spoke truth to power and exposed Clarence Thomas as a stalker and a sexual harasser during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
     And now Thomas' wife Virginia Thomas, a right-wing Tea Party advocate, in a move as brazen as it is offensive, has asked Anita Hill to apologize to her abuser. Hill said no. But I say it's long past time for Clarence Thomas to apologize to Anita Hill.
     Virginia Thomas' agenda in approaching Anita Hill with her outrageous request is unclear. But it's yet another example the Tea Party adherents brazen attempts to rewrite history and claim victimhood for the powerful even as they launch attack after attack on minority groups -- be they women, gays, African Americans, or immigrants.
     We shouldn't ignore this bizarre incident. We should accept Virginia Thomas' challenge and defend history as we know it.
     Join me in telling Clarence Thomas he should apologize.
     It's easy to do so at the link below.
http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/apologize_to_hill/?r_by=12011-1405219-qU74kLx&rc=paste1

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Justice Clarence Thomas Sexually Harassed More than Anita Hill

     Huge breaking hypocrisy news out of Washington DC.  Lilian McEwen, former federal prosecutor and old girlfriend/mistress of divorced and remarried Conservative Catholic Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has broken her silence about Thomas' history of sexual harassment and obsession with porn.  Anita Hill wasn't his only victim.  Simply put: Thomas perjured himself during his confirmation hearings so that he could get on the bench.  He's a liar and a hypocrite.  How's that for family values?

     [McEwen] said Hill's long-ago description of Thomas's behavior resonated with her.  "He was obsessed with porn," she said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."  McEwen added that she had no problem with Thomas's interests, although she found pornography to be "boring."
     According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.
     Presented with some of McEwen's assertions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Thomas was unavailable for comment.
     However bizarre they may seem, McEwen's recollections resemble accounts shared by other women that swirled around the Thomas confirmation.  Angela Wright, who in 1984 worked as public affairs director at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- which polices sexual harassment claims -- during Thomas's long tenure as chairman, shared similar accounts with Senate investigators. Once, when walking into an EEOC seminar with Thomas, he asked her, "What size are your breasts?" according to the transcript of her Senate interview. Her story was corroborated by a former EEOC speechwriter, who told investigators that Wright had become increasingly uneasy around Thomas because of his comments about her appearance...
     Through the years, McEwen said, she has remained reasonably friendly with Thomas. On two or three occasions, she said, she brought friends to his Supreme Court chambers where they sat for long conversations.  But now, she says, "I know Clarence would not be happy with me."
     "I have no hostility toward him," McEwen said. "It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time. That's the problem that he has."
     For more, see Consortium News.

     Also, here's the coverage Keith Olbermann did on Thursday about Justice Thomas' wife Virginia calling and leaving a voice mail at Anita Hill's office last weakened asking Hill to apologize to Thomas for what she did to him.  She also said she's praying for Hill.  How kind of her.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sen. Jim DeMint Wants Gays & Single Women Banished from Teaching, Baptists Applaud

     Senator Jim DeMint is proud to be against gay rights and women's rights.  The Baptists of South Carolina are eating up his message of hate, discrimination, and bullying.

     During his roughly 45-minute speech during a Greater Freedom Rally at First Baptist North Spartanburg, DeMint said he's become an outcast in Washington...
     DeMint said he's supporting candidates such as Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, Florida Republican nominee Marco Rubio and Kentucky GOP nominee Rand Paul, among others. They, DeMint said, will demand a stop to “reckless government spending” and fight to repeal “Obama-care.” They'll talk about principles and pro-life issues and will fight to keep marriage between a man and a woman, he said...
     DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn't be in the classroom.  “(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense,” he said. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn't back down. They don't want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.
     So, for Jim DeMint and the Baptists of First Baptist North, freedom of worship/religion equals freedom to discriminate, bully, belittle, and hate.  Dog bless America.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lying, Flip-Flopping Republican Candidates & Personal Responsibility. Oh the Hypocrisy!

     Last night, Rachel Maddow reported on the inconsistencies, backpedaling, and flat-out lies that certain Republican candidates have been caught in recently.

     Here's what GOP Senate candidates Marco Rubio (Florida),  Sharron Angle (Nevada), and Ken Buck (Colorado) are respectively lying about concerning privatizing social security, privatizing the Veterans Administration and  "birth control pills are murder" legislation.

     In this piece, Maddow unmasks the lack of "personal responsibility" in GOP candidates Meg Whitman (California), Christine O'Donnell (Delaware), Linda McMahon (Connecticut), and Joe Miller (Alaska) when they are caught in lies.  They blame someone else.  Gee, where did they learn to do that?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Senate Republicans Holding Up Funding of National Women's History Museum

     USA Today reports:
     A letter from two senators is the only thing blocking congressional approval of a decade-long effort to build a women's history museum in the nation's capital.
     Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jim DeMint, R-S.C., have placed a "hold" on a bill that would sell land near the Smithsonian Institution for the National Women's History Museum. A "hold" is a Senate practice that prevents bills from passing with unanimous consent — and implicitly threatening a filibuster.
     The senators say their concerns are financial: Though the museum would pay fair market value for the land, the group has raised little money. And they said the new institution would duplicate more than 100 similar museums — some of which already get taxpayer subsidies.
     Abortion politics are also in play: The senators' action came two days after the Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, wrote DeMint asking for a hold. The group's CEO, Penny Nance, wrote in July that the museum would "focus on abortion rights without featuring any of the many contributions of the pro-life movement in America."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Iowa Catholic Bishops Demand a Constitutional Convention to Ban Same-Sex Marriages

     Not to be outdone by Minnesota, the homophobic Catholic bishops and closeted priests of my home state have joined forces with conservative, Tea Party/Republicans in a new effort to strip same-sex couples of their civil marriage rights in that state.  They seek to impose Catholic and Conservative Christian law upon all citizens of the state.  But these churches are non-partisan, and therefore tax-exempt organizations.  Right.

     The Iowa Catholic Conference, the political and policy arm of the state’s four Catholic dioceses, announced Monday that it is urging Iowans to convene a constitutional convention in order to eventually ban same-sex marriage.
     “The ICC is encouraging Iowa Catholics to vote ‘yes’ on the decennial ballot question as a way to work with others for a marriage amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would affirm the traditional understanding that marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” said the group Call the Convention in a press release, later adding: “For far too long, the Iowa legislature has denied the people of Iowa their voice on issues such as traditional marriage, spending limits, tax reform, term limits, and Second Amendment rights.”
     A push to call a convention this year has some high-profile Republican supporters, including Chuck Laudner, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa and chief of staff for 5th District U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron; Robert Haus, a veteran Republican strategist who helped orchestrate the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll in Ames; Brent Hoffman, a former member of Sioux City’s city council; Patti Brown, a partner in the Iowa Policy Institute; and Craig Robinson, a conservative blogger and former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa. 
     Since when is "the right to bear arms" part of Catholic social teachings?  Also, "tax reform"?  It sounds like the ICC has been infected with Tea-Party fever.  If it walks, talks, lobbies and campaigns like a Conservative Republican...   

     Will the "traditional understanding" of marriage that the ICC seeks to write into the Iowa constitution include the tradition of priests having affairs with married men and women in their parishes?  Because that is one tradition that definitely needs to be preserved.  
     Will non-Catholics wishing to be civilly divorced need to go through a Catholic annulment process?  Will women once again be exchanged as property in these "traditional" marriages?  Will wives be forced to remain silent as their husbands beat and rape them?  Will interracial couples be denied civil marriage?  Will African-Americans be denied civil marriage?  Why pick on just the gays?  Why not go after every change that has ever taken place in the "traditional" institution of marriage?  If I'm being extreme in my argument, I'm only applying the "slippery slope" standard that Catholic moral theology uses to argue against any sort of progressive change in civil law.  

     The ICC is disseminating this "educational flyer" throughout Iowa.  The flyer prescribes how Catholics are to "form" their consciences.  It is full of the self-contradictory doublespeak that pervades Catholic moral theology.  The flyer defines how "forming" one's conscience involves learning Catholic teachings, praying about one's choices, forming one's own moral convictions, and then having the courage to act on one's convictions.  Then the flyer goes on to list a series of fourteen questions, that must be answered affirmatively, in order to be consistent with the Catholic Church's position.  This is the mind-screw of Catholic moral theology: form your conscience, but then you must do, believe, and vote as we tell you to.

     What happens if you don't?

     I formed my conscience, as the church prescribed.  I got a Masters of Divinity at a Catholic seminary.  In my "well-formed conscience," I came to different conclusions.  I was ordered to obey my Iowa archbishop.  I followed my conscience.  I left the priesthood and the church.  But now, it's not enough for the church to let Catholics who disagree to just leave.  The church is going after civil laws in order to force all people, even those who disagree with Catholic teachings "in good conscience" and those who are not Catholics, to live according to tenants that a bunch of white, supposedly celibate and most likely gay clerics in the Vatican deem the only way to live.  Anything else in their eyes is "evil."  

     Iowa Catholics, who disagree need to speak up now and very loudly.  

     And for all you closeted priests, who remain, especially those of you who continue to "act out" on your "homosexual urges," you can live in truth.  There is life on the other side of the fear that keeps you in your shame.  There is love.  There is life beyond your hypocrisy.

     Postscript: Zero of the fourteen positions on the ICC flyer called for stronger laws to protect children from sexual predators or for tougher punishments on child abusers/rapists and the organizations that have protected these criminals in the past.  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope's UK Visit Has Been One Long Non-Apology Apology for the Cover-Up and Sexual Abuse of Children

     The first three days of Pope Benedict's controversial £19 million+ visit to the United Kingdom are over.  The big question continues to be when and if he will apologize for his participation in the cover-up of sexual abuse committed by priests.  But sticking to the role of politician rather than shepherd, Ben continues walk the familiar path of the non-apology apology.

     On his flight to the UK, Ben dodged questions about child rape without giving an all-out apology.  Southern California Public Radio reports:
     Speaking in Italian to reporters on board a flight to Scotland, the pope acknowledged that the church failed to act decisively or quickly enough to deal with cases of child rape and molestation by priests that have spanned decades and involved tens of thousands of victims.
     Benedict, who led the Vatican office that investigated child abuse claims during Pope John Paul II's papacy, said he was shocked and saddened on learning of the scope of the abuse partly because priests take vows to be Christ's voice upon ordination.
     "It's difficult to understand how a man who has said this could then fall into this perversion. It's a great sadness," Benedict said. "It's also sad that the authority of the church wasn't sufficiently vigilant, and not sufficiently quick or decisive to take necessary measures" to stop it.
     But, he didn't say "I'm sorry. I was a part of this failure to protect and respect our most vulnerable and innocent children. I acted out of self-preservation, pride, and malice.  I take responsibility for the wrongs I committed." 

     Instead and once again, the spineless pontiff "acknowledged" a general failure of some amorphous "church," but failed himself to take personal responsibility for his actions in shuffling and protecting pedophile priests.  As I learned in seminary, if there is no contrition there can be neither absolution nor reconciliation.

Above photo of papal shoes via Gaurdian.
Below photo of Pope in a bulletproof bubble via Telegraph
     In regards to Ben's statement about the difficulty of understanding how priests could possibly become abusers, he's living in a bulletproof bubble.  It's not difficult to understand, unless of course you don't understand the psychology of sexual predators and if you've lived your entire life in an organization that views priests as stand-ins for one's god.  

     Priests are men first.  They are human.  They are just as corruptible as any other person.  It's that simple.  But dressing priests up as divine media and protecting them within an organization that is anti-science and anti-reason blinds those within the church, like Ben, from seeing simple reality.

     Using his strongest language so far when discussing the child abuse scandal the pope said: "I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes."
     But victims' representatives said his comments did not, in fact, add up to an apology.  Colm O'Gorman, from the Irish victim support group One in Four, said: "I feel deep sorrow about the suffering I see on the news, but there's an enormous difference between an expression of sorrow and an apology and acknowledgement of responsibility.  "The Vatican chooses its words very carefully and that so-called apology could have been written by lawyers. It has 'no liability' all over it."
     Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked: "Why, if the pope feels so much remorse, won't he take action? Showing remorse isn't leadership. Taking decisive action is leadership."
     Here's the homily from Ben's mass at Hyde Park today.  There is no mention of sexual abuse, the scandal, contrition, or responsibility for these acts.  There is only talk of how great and glorious the church is and the need for young people to dedicate their lives to serving the church's "culture of life."  As certain priests in my past use to rail on sinners: Out of sight, out of mind.

     Many gathered at Hyde Park in protest of Pope Ben and the Catholic Church's teachings that are supposed to promote "truth" and "life."  From the Guardian:
     Day three of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain and it was a day for protests and anti-papists under bright blue skies in central London. Around 10,000 people took to the capital's streets for a Protest the Pope rally and march against what the organisers called "papal intolerance" and to condemn the state funding of the visit.
     They came in red cardboard papal hats scrawled with the words "bigot" and "homophobe" and carrying placards, rainbow flags, pledges of atheism and balloons made of condoms. One giant banner showing the Pope carrying a swastika was later taken down after offending many of the protesters, who went as far as complaining to the police officers lining the route of the march to Downing Street.... [Wouldn't it be great if Americans were this intelligent in their protests?]
     The protest organiser Peter Tatchell told the Observer the event was held both to send a message to the Pope that child abusers had to be brought to account and to call on the British government not to tolerate the Pope's "harsh, intolerant views on women's rights, on gay equality and on the use of condoms which is so vital to stopping the spread of the HIV virus".
     If the pope's key message during his visit has been to warn against atheism and secularism, then this rally was the chance of those with those views to present their view of Benedict. "An enemy of humanity" was the unminced words of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, who gave a strong speech to the rally on its arrival at Downing Street.
     Comedian Al Murray also figured among the crowd. He said: "Like a lot of people I am a perplexed that it is a state visit. The pope's opposition to condoms kills people. It is all very well him lecturing us on morals, but he should look at his own organisation's view."
     What will tomorrow's itinerary in Birmingham bring?  We can only assume more of the same.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Christine O'Donnell on Abortion, Rape, Incest, Homophobia, "Ex-Gays," Masturbation & Election Result Lies

     Proud Christian Christine O'Donnell is officially the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware.  There is already enough information on her in the news to write 10,000 dissertations.  Here are some of the highlights.

     In the videos below, she is confronted about her lies about her performance in a previous bid for the senate.  She's exposed as paranoid.  She is against women's reproductive rights, even in cases of rape and incest.  She's homophobic, believes in ex-gay therapy, compares homosexuals to Hitler, and used gay-slurs and stereotypes against her Republican opponent for the nomination.  She's using Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin's talking points in her speeches, saying President Obama is "anti-American."  On the night of her primary win the nation GOP (including Karl Rove, who called her statements "nutty") said they wouldn't support her, but a day later they are singing her praises.

     This is new face of the extremist Tea-Party-enhanced Republican party.  

     For example, five senate Republican nominees, including Rand Paul (KY), Sharron Angle (NV), Ken Buck (CO), Joe Miller (AK) and Christine O'Donnell (DE), have taken the extreme position that abortion should be illegal even for women pregnant in cases of rape and incest.  In the video embedded below, Rachel Maddow makes the following comment concerning these Republican party's hypocritical claims of being for small government while legislating American's most private choices:
     The government should force rape vicitms under pain of criminal prosecution to give birth to their rapist's baby...If you are a fourtenn year old girl who is raped by your uncle or by your father, the government will force you, as a fourteen-year-old, to give birth to the child that is the product of that incestuous rape. Remember, this is the year of small government conservatives, getting government out of your life.
     Here is Maddow's report on women running for office and women's rights in this year's elections.

     The Republican flip-flop on Christine O'Donnell: Karl Rove calls Christine O'Donnell "nutty" and won't giving her GOP money to "I'm also helpin' her" get elected.


     O'Donnell calling President Obama "anti-American" and trying to sound like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin in speeches.


     Below, Christine O'Donnell is exposed for lying about her performance in a previous election versus Joe Biden. When confronted with the hard statistical facts of of her loss to Biden, she lied again.  But she's a good Christian.  Her term as president and founder of The Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth, her condemnation of masturbation, and comparisons between homosexuals and Hitler, tell us so.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Republican Carl Paladino Is Not "Intimidatable" & Is Anti-Religious Freedom, Anti-Gay, and Anti-Women's Rights

     Republican gubernatorial nominee for New York, Carl Paladino, won Tuesday's nomination in a landslide.  He's running on the promise that  he will seize the land on which Parc51 (Islamic center two blocks away from Ground Zero) is to open.  It also sounds like he's also setting up an eminent domain argument that could lead to the closure of the two mosques that already exist within blocks of Ground Zero or any other place of worship that he deems unfit.  So much for religious liberty and freedom of worship.
Image via Towleroad
     He is against equal civil marriage rights for same sex couples.  When asked about these rights, he responded, "No."

     He is against women's reproductive rights and believes that women who are raped, even in cases of incest, should be forced to have their perpetrators' babies.

     This is the Republican Party of 2010.  These radical Christian extremists are no longer teabaggers or Tea Party candidates.  These extremists, who thrive on hatred and fear, have won a huge number of Republican nominations for office across the nation.

     The language being used this election season is chilling.  Paladino promises to "take out a culture, to bring that culture down once and for all" and then equates people who have different political beliefs as him as "demons."  This sounds like an inquisition or a lead into some sort of cultural cleansing.

     Here's the larger "take out a culture" quote from Paladino on CNN:
     We put out a clear definitive message of who we are and what we intend to do...I'm going to Albany to take out a government, to take out a culture, to bring that culture down once and for all, and to restore a government of right size, to tend to the issues and desires of the tax payers, who pay for that government. (Mumbles)  In doing that, I've illustrated, I believe in intestinal fortitude to take on the demons.  I'm not afraid.  I'm not intimidatable [sic].  I'm certainly not politically correct.
     He's also at variance with the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, for he doesn't believe that all people are created equal and deserve equal protection under the law.  Nor does he believe in religious liberty and the separation of church and state.  If he wins, New York is in for a very dark four years.

     Here's the entire CNN clip.