Medical procedures and research are yucky. Good healthcare means getting over it. If religious conservatives have their way, reproductive healthcare will be dictated by the same psychology that drives middle school jokes about genitals, dead babies and poop—our instinctive squeamish reaction to things that are disgusting and shocking, especially if they relate to sex. Good thing public health advocates and medical providers have a higher set of priorities.
What do vampires and Las Vegas atheists have in common? Ethical rules, social stigma, and a hunger for community. When people think about Las Vegas, most picture some combination of gambling, burlesque, night clubs and legalized prostitution—the pleasures that earned Vegas the nickname Sin City. But when Sociologist Lori Fazzino thinks about Las Vegas, she pictures churches.
Fewer pregnant teens, fewer abortions, fewer unwed mothers, fewer single-parent families on welfare, more balanced state budgets. Sounds like a set of goals that should be common ground for anyone who cares about America’s future, right?
As right wing news outlets have it, untrained government workers in Washington State are doing secret gynecological procedures on 11 year old school girls, implanting dangerous and unhealthy birth control without consent from doting parents who have no idea they are losing their daughters! Liberal priorities are so messed up that it’s easier for an 11 year old to get an IUD than a Coca-Cola at a Washington school.
Birth control options for men and women are a century apart. Men deserve better.
The best birth control options for women today have qualities our grandmothers could only have dreamed of. They toggle the fertility switch to off until a woman wants it on, making pregnancy “opt in” rather than “opt out.” They are easily reversed when a woman wants a baby and have bonus health benefits like lighter periods and protection against some cancers. They last from three to twelve years, depending on the method and can simply be forgotten once in place, yet have an annual failure rate below 1 in 500.
“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
So said white supremacist Dylann Roof to black members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as he systematically executed nine, leaving one woman and a five-year-old child to bear witness to the slaughter.
If selling afterlife perks is your business, then getting people to believe, attend and give “voluntarily” is the whole game.
Churches just got a new way to figure out who is sleeping in on Sunday morning: facial recognition software that scans the congregation and tracks who showed up. Churchix is a product of Skakash LLC, which sells Face-Six for law enforcement, border control, and commercial applications. According to CEO Moshe Greenshpan, 30 churches have already deployed the new software and service, which could be used to target members who need a nudge or to identify potential major donors among those who attend faithfully.
Religious leaders to Obama: Clarify or repeal the Helms Amendment–It’s a matter of compassion!
During violent unrest that followed Kenya’s 2007 election, Jaqueline Mutere, a widowed community organizer and mother of four, was raped.
For women caught in conflict zones or societal breakdown sexual violence can lurk around every corner and behind every gun. A United Nations report lists a dozen countries in which sexual violation is being used as a weapon today. Aggressors may sexually assault either males or females, but girls and women face the additional horrors of sex trafficking, forced marriage, and unwanted pregnancy.
“We focus on abortion as if that were the conversation, but we have been bamboozled into putting our focus there.”
When you think about abortion, what comes to mind? A woman’s right? The Religious Right? Feminists, or fetal photography, or fundamentalists? Do you see the color pink—as in Planned Parenthood—or the color red—as in anger and blood? If you worked in abortion care, the answer probably would be none of the above.
On May 20 I participated in a four person debate about the existence of God at Western Washington University. On the ‘yes’ side were Mike Raschko and Mark Markuly from the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. On the ‘no’ side were Bob Seidensticker and me. Here are my remarks:
Recently, the Daily Kos published an article titled, I Am Pro-Choice, Not Pro-Abortion. “Has anyone ever truly been pro-abortion?” one commenter asked.
Uh. Yes. Me. That would be me.
I am pro-abortion like I’m pro-knee-replacement and pro-chemotherapy and pro-cataract surgery. As the last protection against ill-conceived childbearing when all else fails, abortion is part of a set of tools that help women and men to form the families of their choosing. I believe that abortion care is a positive social good. And I suspect that a lot of other people secretly believe the same thing. And I think it’s time we said so.
What makes a Seattle mother spend her days trying to chip away at Bible belief rather than digging holes in the garden?
When my husband sent me the Pew Report news that the percent of Americans who call themselves Christian has dropped from 78.4 to 70.6 over the last 7 years, I responded jokingly with six words: You’re welcome. Molly Moon’s after dinner?
Not that I actually claim credit for the decline. As they say, it takes a village.
If yoga helps a Christian man to walk for the first time in thirty-three years, does his newfound strength come from God or the Devil? That is the question tearing apart an Evangelical church in Las Vegas.
Did a recent graphic by the anti-gay, pro-religious-freedom American Family Association make their intentions a little too clear? The American Family Association (AFA) proudly describes itself as one of the largest and most effective “pro-family” organizations in the United States. This doesn’t mean that AFA advocates for healthcare or paid family leave or family planning or education funding or laws that protect abused children, or aid to dependent children, or other evidence based services that promote family flourishing. Nope; it means they use their legal clout and broadcast media to oppose gay rights in places like Indiana, obstruct access to abortion care, repeal universal healthcare, and defund public services and regulations.
When Crystal O’Connor, the owner of an Indiana pizza parlor said she wouldn’t cater a gay wedding because she is a Christian, the story went viral. Not surprisingly, one immediate response was derision: “What gay couple would have pizza catered at their wedding?” “Wedding pizza—is that a thing in Indiana?”But not all comments and reactions were good humored, and daunted by an outpouring of indignation, hostility and sarcastic Yelp reviewsand pro-gay anti-religion photos, Memories Pizza closed their doors, saying they might not reopen. Some on the Left relished the thought that bigotry might have a tangible pocketbook price.
Freedom to discriminate with impunity? It’s worse than that. Almost universally, the religious freedom claims pursued in the U.S. over the last two decades seek the freedom to do harm, most often the freedom to harm queers, women, children or religious outsiders or our secular government institutions.
On the surface, valuing embryonic life and abusing children are at odds, but with a biblical view of childhood, these positions can go hand in hand. Why do the same people who fight against abortion argue that parents should have the right to beat their children and deny them medical care or education, as some conservative Republicans have done recently?
Lyrics for the rap song, B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), include the following line: The white image, of Christ, is really Cesare Borgia. The idea that our modern image of Jesus could be based on a ruthless power-hungry illegitimate son of a pope is startling and farfetched. But it is no more bizarre or fanciful than many other ideas about who Jesus was or what he looked like. And it does have an interesting tale behind it. To understand the Borgia story requires a bit of context.
Unwanted pregnancy is contributing to a new “caste system” in America. Is that about to get worse? When new and better technologies become available only to people who are already privileged, the rich get richer and opportunity gaps get wider. That’s exactly what’s happening with family planning—and unless trends change, a recent revolution in contraceptive technology may deepen America’s economic divide. Many factors intersect to create poverty or keep people mired there: racism, sexism, untreated illness and mental illness, hopelessness created by lack of opportunity, structural barriers between social classes, and more.
Jesus has been described as the best known figure in history, and also the least known. If you mentioned the name “Jesus” and someone asked Jesus who?, you might blink. Or laugh. Even people who don’t think Jesus was God, mostly believe they know a fair bit about him. You might be surprised that some of your most basic assumptions about Jesus are probably wrong.
Why aren’t Muslim and Christian extremists extremely peaceful? The answer lies in the Iron Age setting of the Bible and Quran—when literate cultures replaced the Golden Calf with the Sacred Text. Diplomats, religious leaders, and peacemakers of many stripes keep insisting that ISIS isn’t about Islam. They point to a host of other factors including colonialism, injustice, lack of economic opportunity, and hopelessness. They’re not altogether wrong, but they are missing the tyrannosaurus rex in the room.
Opposition to IUD’s, like opposition to vaccines, is putting American families at risk—and a Colorado controversy shows that misguided faith and scientific ignorance are to blame. When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40%, along with a drop in abortions. The program saved the state 42.5 million dollars in a single year, over five times what it cost. But rather than extending or expanding the program, some Colorado Republicans are trying to kill it—even if this stacks the odds against Colorado families.
Taken as a package, the Bible sends mixed messages about slavery, which is why Christian leaders used the Good Book on both sides—including in the lead up to the American civil war. Should a person be able to own another person? Today Christians uniformly say no, and many would like to believe that has always been the case. But history tells a different story, one in which Christians have struggled to give a clear answer when confronted with questions about human trafficking and human rights.
Tweeting, like driving, creates perils that become more dangerous as we age, and the more stature or visibility people attain, the more they have to lose. In history books, Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins will be known for his contributions to science. But you’d never know that based on the last two years of his media coverage, which have centered on a series of controversial tweets, mostly about women and Islam. The tweets, and Dawkins’ attempts to defend them have provoked fierce debate between atheists about whether his visibility as an advocate for secularism has become a liability to the cause.
Maybe descriptions of Hell are so horrific to keep people from thinking about how hellish popular versions of the Christian Heaven would be—even without Pat Robertson in the mix. Most Westerners are at least vaguely familiar with the popular Christian version of Heaven: pearly gates, streets of gold, winged angels and the Righteous, with their bodies made perfect and immortal, singing the praises of God forever. What’s surprising is how few people have actually thought about what a nightmare this kind of existence would be.
In the fall of 2014, a young dying woman, Brittany Maynard, captured the hearts of millions around the world. Now her husband and mother have teamed up with a national advocacy group, Compassion & Choices to honor her final wish—that aid in dying be available to terminally ill Americans in every state.
Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than technologies, but like every other creative human enterprise, they produce some really bad ones along with the good.
Religion is just one part of the lethal cocktail, but it is a powerful intoxicant. The year 2015 has opened to slaughter in the name of gods. In Paris, two Islamist brothers executed Charlie Hebdo cartoonists “in defense of the Prophet,” while an associate killed shoppers in a kosher grocery. In Nigeria, Islamist members of Boko Haram massacred a town to cries of Allahu Akbar—Allah is the greatest! Simultaneously, the United Nations released a report detailing the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in the Central African Republic by Christian militias, sometimes reciting Bible verses.