Religious conviction makes people do and say crazy things, many of them not remotely rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ or other icons of people of faith. Sometimes, those people see the light and realize hate and discrimination are not the goals of any true and sincere religion. And sometimes, those people are so threatened at the thought they might lose control over other groups of people, they double-down on the crazy.
On the hopeful front, we have Alan Chambers, who recently apologized to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for his years trying to “fix” gays and lesbians by offering “reparative therapy” to make them straight. Exodus International, a Christian ministry, decided to close its doors after 37 years and stop trying to turn gays into heterosexuals. Said Exodus president Chambers in a statement on the group’s website:
For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical. From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.
This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation. Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.
The idea that homosexuals can simply be trained to be sexually attracted to people of the other sex is absurd, and defies logic for two contradictory reasons. An initial thought is that if homosexuality were a choice, we might have a lot more lesbians. Why not double your shoe wardrobe, never mind avoid conversations with your female friends, after a breakup, about how you’ll never understand male behavior? The second thought is that if one could choose one’s sexual orientation, why make a choice that will make you the target of discrimination, violence, hatred and even murder?
Perhaps the idea behind it is that Christians are supposed to hate the sin, but love the sinner. It’s a tremendously impressive step that Chambers has realized that the so-called “sin” was merely being “the sinner” – and that it is wrong to demonize people simply for being who and what God or nature made them.
Score one for tolerance among those claiming to be motivated by religion. It’s been undermined a bit, however, by a group (a small one, thankfully) that thinks men should spank their wives in the name of Christian discipline.
Both The Daily Beast and Jezebel have written about the practice of spanking for Jesus. Called “Christian Domestic Discipline,” the practice is meant to keep wives in line by domestic violence – or, as its adherents call it, just a way to keep a woman in her rightful, submissive place. As The Daily Beast’s Brandy Zadrozny reports:
Referred to as CDD by its followers, the practice often includes spanking and other types corporal punishments administered by husbands—and ostensibly ordained by God. While the private nature of the discipline makes it difficult to estimate the number of adherents, activity in several online forums suggests a figure in the low thousands. Devotees call CDD an alternative lifestyle and enthusiastically sing its praises; for critics, it’s nothing but domestic abuse by another name.
Jezebel’s Callie Beusman writes about the women being under constant supervision and monitoring by their husbands, who punish the adult women with such child-rearing tactics as time outs and having phone privileges taken away.
This isn’t a lifestyle choice. It’s abuse, and it’s no less illegal because it’s being done in the name of religion. It’s the same mindset that led to what Ohio authorities say was the enslavement of three women by a local man who beat them, raped them and kept them from leaving the house. A marriage license and daily prayers don’t make it fundamentally any different.
The leaders of Exodus have joined the modern world, realizing they can’t “save” gays and lesbians from being who they are. The ministry is planning to open under a new name and mission. Perhaps they could rescue the women being abused by CDD followers.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, June 21, 2013
“Please Just Shut Up”: Phil Gingrey’s Valuable Expert Validation That Many Rape Victims Are Actually Liars
From the “They Just Can’t Help Themselves” file, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s intrepid Jim Galloway informs us that U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), an OB-GYN, went out of his way in a local speaking appearance to express sympathy for the “legitimate rape” comments of his former colleague Todd Akin:
And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, “Look, in a legitimate rape situation” — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, “Hey, I was raped.” That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that….
And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, “Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.” So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.
Well, thanks, Phil, for that valuable expert validation of the perspective that many rape victims are actually liars and thus we shouldn’t be reluctant to force them to carry pregnancies they claim are the product of rape to term.
Now please just shut up.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 11, 2013
Earlier today, Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that “legitimate rape” does not often lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This is not the first time the biologically challenged senate candidate tried to minimize the impact of rape. Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”
Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term. Michelle Goldberg explains who Akin and Ryan would likely target:
Under H.R. 3, only victims of “forcible rape” would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.
Although a version of this bill passed the GOP-controlled House, the “forcible rape” language was eventually removed due to widespread public outcry. Paul Ryan, however, believes that the “forcible rape” language does not actually go far enough to force women to carry their rapist’s baby. Ryan believes that abortion should be illegal in all cases except for “cases in which a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother’s life.” So rape survivors are out of luck.
And, of course, as we learned today, Akin isn’t even sure that “legitimate” rape survivors can get pregnant in the first place.
Update: The Romney-Ryan campaign just released a statement distancing itself from the Akin-Ryan position on abortion in the case of rape: “Gov. Romney and Cong. Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, August 19, 2012
The Violence Against Women Act was enacted in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice with bipartisan support. No one in Congress has ever wanted to be branded the pro-domestic violence party. Yet this week, the Republicans and Democrats entered into a bitter feud that fuels talk of the GOP’s purported “war on women,” and gives Democrats like Representative Judy Chu of California an opportunity to bust out phrases like, “It’s not the Violence Against Women act, but the Open Season for Violence Against Women Act.” From the perspective of the GOP, approving a new version of the act would help protect immigrants and homosexuals from intimate partner violence, and in 2012, that simply cannot stand!
In April, the Senate passed legislation that expands services for immigrants who are domestic abuse victims and specifies that people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender are covered under the law. After a bitter fight on Wednesday, the House passed its own version of the bill, which removed the new provisions in the Senate’s legislation, in a 222 to 205 vote.
Throughout the debate, the GOP’s refrain has been that the bill already protects everyone, so there’s no need to name specific groups. Sounds pretty logical! Yet the GOP is ignoring the fact that immigrants and LGBT people won’t be adequately protected under the House’s version of the law. Per the Christian Science Monitor:
The House bill does not allow for a path to citizenship for illegal women who have been abused and agree to cooperate with the police investigation of the crime. Moreover, it holds the cap on temporary visas offered to women cooperating in legal investigations to 10,000, below the Senate’s increased 15,000 level. Republicans say the citizenship provision is akin to amnesty for illegal immigrants, and expressed fears that the Senate bill will lead to an epidemic of immigrants staging elaborate fake domestic violence situations to get away from their non-abusive partners.Democrats, on the other hand, say that women fearing deportation may never come forward to take abusers off the street under the House bill.
The intent behind specifically naming lesbian, gay, and transgender victims is to prevent law enforcement from using the vague language in VAWA to exclude them from services. Studies have shown that these groups experience domestic violence at the same rates as the general population, but victims are far less likely to seek help.
The American Bar Association, Human Rights Watch, and leaders from 31 religious groups, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals, have all spoken out against the House’s bill. President Obama has threatened to veto the House bill, and now Congress needs to hash out a compromise between the two versions of the bill, ensuring that the debate will stay in the news.
By: Margaret Hartman, Daily Intel, May 17, 2012
“Bad Idea Legislation”: When Fools Try To legislate, Women, Science, And Dwarves Are Among The Targets
March turned to April a couple days ago, and with it came a raft of April Fools’ jokes. (It also elicited a new round of sighs from Republicans who had hoped to find out that their presidential field was really an elaborate reality TV punking.)
In the spirit of the season, I’m devoting this column to April’s Fools and fools. Guess which of these are bills actually introduced in state legislatures around the country, and which are gags of my own creation (answers at bottom).
Ladies first. It should come as no surprise that many of the weirdest, most outrageous bills that have popped up around the country in recent months focus on women. Take a recent Wisconsin Senate bill that would have required the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to “emphasize” single parenthood “as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” The bill, which happily died this month, had two sponsors. One, state Sen. Glenn Grothman, thinks liberals want children to be born out of wedlock “because they are more likely to be dependent on the government.” The bill’s other sponsor, a state representative named Don Pridemore, has said that spouses in abusive relationships should try to stay in them rather than divorce.
He might be comfortable with a prize of a bill introduced this year in the New Hampshire state House that would have required police to obtain a warrant before making an arrest in a domestic violence case unless they had seen the abuse taking place firsthand. Happily, that bill also met its deserved fate when the legislature killed it as “inexpedient to legislate.”
No discussion of legislative assaults upon women would be complete without touching on contraception. A law shot down just this week in the Arizona state Senate would have allowed any employer (not just religiously affiliated ones) to refuse to provide contraception coverage on moral grounds … unless a woman produced a note from her doctor certifying that she needed it for medical reasons (rather than the presumed moral turpitude).
“Feticide.” I’ll skip over conservatives’ insistence that women must undergo (sometimes invasive) ultrasounds before getting the perfectly legal medical procedure known as abortion. (The same people who object to warnings on cigarette packs because everyone knows the hazards of smoking simultaneously believe that a woman who wants an abortion must not realize how pregnancy works.) That’s not the only abortion-related fight going on. A proposed Iowa law would classify abortion as “feticide,” bringing life in prison without parole for the doctor.
For sheer weirdness, though, nothing beats Oklahoma. State Sen. Ralph Shortey wants to ban “food or any product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses.” Even he admitted, “I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma.” No word on whether he’s going to follow on with a bill banning Soylent Green. Oklahoma also brought what has been called the “every sperm is sacred” bill, for the old Monty Python sketch, which, in the spirit of granting personhood at the moment of conception, would deem any waste of sperm (as in, for example, masturbation) “an action against an unborn child.” This month a local Delaware council approved a similar resolution.
Don’t say gay. Tennessee has become a culture wars battleground. One bill in the Volunteer State’s legislature would ban teachers from talking about homosexuality in elementary and middle school sex ed classes (hence its nickname: the “don’t say gay” bill). Homosexuality “happens in nature, but so does bestiality,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Stacey Campfield. “That does not make it right or something we should be teaching in school.” Campfield and his allies agreed to let the bill stall when they realized that Tennessee currently has no sex ed in elementary and middle school.
The Tennessee state Senate this month passed a bill encouraging teachers to give both sides of “controversial” topics such as evolution and global warming. Maybe they hope to set up a modern-day Scopes monkey trial.
The never-ending crazy. The Tennessee House also voted overwhelmingly this month to condemn a two-decade-old nonbinding United Nations sustainable development plan as a “destructive and insidious” communist plot. Not to be outdone, Wyoming’s legislature debated (and killed) legislation that called for the state to start making plans for a catastrophe that incapacitated the federal government—including the possibility of setting up an “alternative currency” to the U.S. dollar. Another provision, which would have looked into setting up a draft and acquiring an aircraft carrier, was added with the intent of sinking the bill. It succeeded.
Not all state lawmakers look abroad with fear. Three New Hampshire representatives proposed a bill (since killed) requiring that all Granite State legislation include a quotation from the Magna Carta “which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived.”
Of course, this would have run afoul of the movement against sharia, or Islamic law. Legislators in 22 states have introduced bills banning courts from applying foreign or sharia laws, a mystifying solution in search of a nonexistent problem.
And did I mention the Florida lawmaker who wants to repeal the state’s ban on dwarf-tossing?
You can’t make this stuff up—literally. If you guessed that all of these examples are real, you get full credit. If you guessed the “every sperm is sacred” bills were too absurd to be true, you get half credit: Their sponsors proffered them with legislative tongues planted firmly in cheeks.
By: Robert Schlesinger, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, April 7, 2012