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“Spanking For Jesus”: Maybe Exodus International Can Save Women From Christian Domestic Discipline

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.

Good lord.

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

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Religion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mitt Romney The Weathervane: What Our Most Changeable Politician Can Tell Us About The Modern GOP

As Mitt Romney enters the Republican presidential race this week, there will be plenty of attention on his shifting political views. But Romney’s changing positions are not just the tragicomic tale of a man so desperate for the presidency he’ll say anything to get there: they’re also a valuable measure of what it takes to make it in the modern GOP.

Romney’s many breathtaking U-turns — on universal health care, on gay rights, on abortion rights — have been extensively documented and parsed, and have become a reliable punchline. The former governor’s willingness to adopt the position that he thinks will get him the most votes in whatever election he happens to be running in does speak to his own character. But Romney’s ease at shifting also makes him a perfect weathervane for measuring the audiences he is trying to appeal to. And the speed with which Romney has been spinning to the right is an alarming sign of the political winds within the Republican Party.

This weekend, Romney will be making an important appearance among a group that has historically mistrusted him: the Religious Right. Speaking at the annual conference of Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Romney can be expected to once again disavow his previously convenient reasonable positions on abortion rights and gay equality. But he is also likely to go a step farther.

At a similar event in 2007, as he tried to shake off his image as a socially moderate Massachusetts Republican in preparation for his first presidential run, Romney spoke at the Values Voter Summit hosted by a coalition of right-wing social issues groups. In his speech, he rattled off Religious Right catchphrases, speaking of the United States’ “Judeo-Christian heritage,” the “breakdown of the family,” and making “out-of-wedlock birth out of fashion again” and passing an anti-gay marriage amendment to “protect marriage from liberal, unelected judges.” He promised a federal “marriage amendment,” funding for vouchers for religious schools and across-the-board anti-choice policies. By earlier that year, he had impressed Ann Coulter enough that she endorsed him in a speech made famous by her use of an anti-gay slur.

At last year’s Values Voter Summit, having done full penance to the Religious Right for his previous statements in favor of gay rights and choice, Romney focused his speech on right-wing economic policies, including an odd tribute comparing Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton to the Founding Fathers. But the company he kept revealed the friends he was hoping to make. The event was sponsored in part by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, two groups who were soon to be named “hate groups” by the SPLC for their long histories of false anti-gay rhetoric. Romney’s fellow speakers included Religious Right stalwarts Phyllis Schlafly, Tony Perkins, Planned Parenthood scam artist Lila Rose, and the AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who has gained infamy with his vicious rhetoric about gays and lesbians, Muslims, African Americans and progressives. I wrote a letter to Romney warning him about associating himself with Fischer — he didn’t respond.

The Religious Right leaders that Romney is eager to curry favor with aren’t just hostile to gays, Muslims and the social safety net — many have expressed concern or even outright hostility to Romney’s own Mormon faith. Fischer recently confronted Romney’s faith, declaring that there is “a direct contradiction between Mormon theology and the teaching of Jesus Christ.” A writer for a leading Religious Right publication declared, “If Mitt Romney believes what the Mormon Church teaches about the world and how it operates, then he is unfit to serve.” As Romney angles himself into an increasingly extreme GOP, he will have to make nice to those who insult not only his past politics but his core religious beliefs.

At the Faith and Freedom Conference this weekend, Romney will have a similar opportunity to reinforce his social conservative bona fides while tying in his newly adamant anti-gay and anti-choice positions with the Tea Party’s love of pro-corporate anti-tax talk. Ralph Reed, the resurgent mastermind behind the Christian Coalition, will perhaps be the perfect ally in his effort to paint himself as a true Tea Party candidate who wants small government for corporations and big government for individuals. Reed was, after all, partly responsible for bringing the passion of American evangelicals to the Republican anti-regulation agenda and schmoozes equally comfortably with Pat Robertson and Jack Abramoff. He is the perfect power-broker for an age when GOP politicians are supposed to oppose universal health care while supporting IRS involvement in abortions – the niche that Romney is trying to carefully fit himself into.

Romney will try to take advantage of the GOP base’s newfound love of tax breaks for the rich, while continuing to pretend that he never supported choice and gay rights and reasonable environmental and health policies. If he can get away with it, he’ll be the perfect candidate for today’s ultraconservative GOP. But either way, he’s bound to become a powerful symbol of just how far to the Right you have to go to make it in today’s Republican Party.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For The American Way: Posted June 3, 2011 in The Huffington Post.

June 5, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Economy, Elections, GOP, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Mitt Romney, Politics, Public Opinion, Religion, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Conservatives: Drop The Charade On Israel

As a liberal American Jew, I get treated to the predictable mock-outrage from conservatives every time a Democrat says something about Israel. In this case, it was President Obama’s remarks on Israel in his speech today. Sure, there was the usual routine of conservatives ignoring the basic facts of the matter (saying Obama called for Israel to accept the unacceptable pre-1967 border, when he actually said that the border should be BASED on the pre-1967 line), but I can’t even get mad at that anymore.

What’s got me upset, and has made me upset for a while, is American conservatives acting as though they (and only they) are capable of speaking for Israel. Michelle Bachmann already called Obama’s words “a betrayal” and Mitt Romney said that Obama “threw Israel under the bus”. Who made these schmucks experts on Israeli policy? What gives them the right to treat our spiritual homeland like it’s something only they can understand?

They DON’T understand Israel. Israel, the Middle East, and the world at large won’t be served by a refusal to negotiate and a refusal to make mutual concessions. All that does is create more resentment, more frustration, more anger…that’s not what we need. In the past twenty years, all they’ve done is give Israel money and weapons. They haven’t made any genuine effort to bring about peace. If you’re going to criticize one approach to the peace process, you have to present an alternative. Otherwise, it just seems disingenuous.

I have a friend, a guy I’ve known almost since birth, who put off law school for a few years to join the Israeli military. This hard-line approach advocated by conservatives just puts him, his fellow soldiers, and civilians in increased danger. It doesn’t solve problems, just amplifies them, and people who truly cared about Israel would realize this. Instead of only paying lip service to Israel, why doesn’t Bachmann, Romney, and the rest of their ilk actually do something constructive?

It’s also very hard to take all the pro-Israel talk seriously when Glenn Beck spews forth nonsense about George Soros and the Holocaust, Palin calls herself the victim of a “blood libel”, Republicans in Texas oppose a Jewish speaker of the state House, Limbaugh equates “banker” with “Jew”, and so on. Given that Israel is a Jewish state, it’s hard to imagine how one can truly support it while harboring a less-than-welcome attitude toward Jews. And while I’m on the subject, stop with the whole idea of promoting “Judeo-Christian values”. It seems that the only Jewish values they like are the very specific values of one Jew from Nazareth…

I’m not sure why American conservatives insist upon playing this game because it’s not going to get Jews to vote for them (Jews have been pretty solidly Democratic since the early 1900s). But that’s besides the point. It doesn’t matter why they do it.

It’s fake.

It’s insulting.

And it needs to stop.

By: Pandaman, Daily Kos, May 19, 2011

May 20, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democrats, Foreign Policy, GOP, Middle East, Politics, President Obama, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mr. Gingrich’s Intolerant History: A Presidential Bid Built On Divisiveness And Name-Calling

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and latest entrant in the Republican presidential field, has money, experience and name recognition. His introductory videois all serenity and hope, a deceptively calm way for many voters to meet a splenetic politician with a long history of slashing divisiveness and intolerance.

He refers to himself as a historian, but apparently his personal study of history has primarily taught him about the effectiveness of demagogy. Donald Trump, fiddling with birth certificates, is an amateur compared with Mr. Gingrich at sliming the Obama administration — as well as Democrats, Muslims, blacks and gay men and lesbians.

The Democrats who won in 2008, including President Obama, are “left-wing radicals” who lead a “secular socialist machine,” he wrote in his 2010 book, “To Save America.” He accused them of producing “the greatest political corruption ever seen in modern America.” And then the inevitable historical coup de grâce: “The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.”

The slurs don’t stop there. He compared the Muslims who wanted to open an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan to the German Reich, saying it “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.” He is promoting the fringe idea that “jihadis” are intent on imposing Islamic law on every American village and farm.

Last year, he called for a federal law to stop the (nonexistent) onslaught of Sharia on American jurisprudence and accused the left of refusing to acknowledge its “mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” This nuanced grasp of world affairs was reinforced when he said that Mr. Obama displayed “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.”

In his world, advocates for gay rights are imposing a “gay and secular fascism” using violence and harassment, blacks have little entrepreneurial tradition, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the Supreme Court is a “Latina woman racist.” (He kind of took back that last slur.)

Despite all this, not to mention the ethics violation when he was speaker, Mr. Gingrich’s real liability among the conservative and fundamentalist groups that dominate the Republican primaries is his personal history of infidelity that led to two sordid divorces. (Much of which took place while he was denouncing President Bill Clinton for moral transgressions.) That may explain his endless calls to restore Judeo-Christian values.

It is sometimes difficult to know what some Republican candidates stand for, as they pander to the far right without alienating the center. It is not difficult to know what Newt Gingrich stands for, and to find it repellent.

By: The New York Times, Editorial, May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Conservatives, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Islam, Islamophobia, Muslims, Neo-Cons, Politics, President Obama, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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