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Dear Conservative Christian Leaders: Why Are You Silent about Rape?

6:30 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Dear Conservative Christian Leaders:

According to the Pew Foundation, the majority of Americans are members of your churches and look to you for spiritual and moral guidance. I am writing because you have been stunningly and tellingly silent on one of the most pressing moral and social issues we face today: rape. At least twice in the past three months, you have had occasion to speak out about the issue of rape, and you willfully cast those opportunities aside.

Stop Rape

Stop Rape

 

The most recent example is the press conference/prayer service that six pastors from your ranks held in Steubenville just two days before the trial of two young men accused of raping an unconscious teenage girl. You cited as the reason for calling your prayer service a desire to end the “discord” that was tearing the town apart. You could have moved the town closer to resolving the conflict by using the moral authority you wield in that community to clarify that inserting anything into the body of an unconscious person is rape. You could have used the occasion to denounce sexual assault in more general terms. Instead, you prayed for mercy for “the alleged victim, the alleged perpetrators of the crime and all those who may have somewhat contributed to it” and urged the town to engage in “amelioration.” Your plea for unity and peace sounded an awful lot like, “Sit down, shut up, and stop talking about rape.”

A more global example is what happened this past Christmas. The world’s attention, prayers, and good wishes were focused on the New Delhi rape victim. As the Pope gave his Christmas sermon, the victim hovered between life and death. But rather than use his time at the world-wide microphone to condemn rape or even to pray for the victim’s recovery, he used the festive occasion to rail against homosexuality.

The problem does not seem to be that you feel shy or squeamish talking about sex. You have talked in exhausting depth about a long list of what you see as America’s sexual sins—everything from pornography to gay marriage. You have written entire series of books telling women how to be pure and other books, such as Every Man’s Battle, instructing men on how to keep themselves from lustful thoughts. And on the other side of the equation, there are countless Christian sex manuals that tell married couples in very explicit detail how to have a mutually satisfying sex life.

Yet, in the thousands of church services that I have attended, in the countless hours of Christian radio I have listened to, and in the hundreds of books I have read by Christian authors, not a single one has exhorted the faithful not to rape. I conducted dozens of Google and Yahoo searches and was unable to find a single instance in which a conservative Christian leader has advocated publicly for consent in sexual interactions.

My second year in Bible College I was intrigued by why no one spoke about rape—not in our ethics classes, not in chapel sermons, and not in the churches we visited. I began asking pastors and professors why they were silent on the subject. I continue to ask that question of the many pastors and priests whom I meet as a researcher. Consistently, I get a variation on one of two answers.

The first answer is usually delivered in a very defensive tone. I am told that you do not need to preach about rape for the same reason that you do not preach against robbing banks. It is self-evidently wrong, and nobody in your congregation would do such a thing.

The idea that all rape is self-evidently wrong is belied by the fact that a significant percentage of Americans do not even believe that penetrating unconscious woman is rape. And the notion that no one in your congregation would do such a thing is equally and obviously false. Google the words rape and Evangelical, or rape and Catholic, and you will discover that not only are many of your flock committing rape, but a significant number of your pastors and priests are committing the crime as well.
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Brownback Strips At-Risk Infants of Access to Health Care While Spending Millions on “Faith-based” Initiatives

12:07 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Kari Ann Rinker for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

The State of Kansas has a health care crisis that it should be addressing, but instead the Brownback administration is tied up restricting women’s access to low cost birth control and abortion care. The crisis that I refer to is this fact according to the latest data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation:

Kansas dropped to 40th in the country in infant mortality, and to worst in the nation for African-American infant mortality, said Christie Appelhanz, vice president of public affairs of Kansas Action for Children in Topeka.

Ms. Appelhanz explains:

We have to invest in our kids. We need to be protecting the crucial supports — nutrition, early education, college savings — anything we can do to be sure kids are growing up healthy.  I think it’s important that children have access to food stamps, quality education such as Head Start and Early Head Start and workforce development.

Governor Brownback’s budget, which he unveiled in January 2011, drew much criticism due to drastic cuts proposed for Head Start in Kansas.  Their funding remained uncertain through the entire legislative session, until, after much public criticism it was finally restored.  But the problem doesn’t begin and end with Head Start funding.

This administration is also upending the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS).  This agency is responsible for child protective services, child support enforcement, and child, adult and family well being services within the state of Kansas.  The state was on track to close 9 service centers, citing agency cost savings.  Public outcry has prevented one of those closures.  The City Council of Lawrence, Kansas has agreed to pick up the state’s tab and fund their own office to serve the most needy within their community. Yet, somehow the administration believes this agency can afford new and expensive “faith based initiatives” programs. For example, chief of staff Jeff Kahrs is making $100,000 a year in a new position. A deputy secretary leading a new faith-based initiative, Anna Pilato, is making $97,500.

They can also afford $13,000 closed door meetings to discuss their new push for faith programs within the state, where it was decided that polygamy is more in line with traditional values than same sex marriage.  Our Governor also is comfortable with applying for a $6.6 million dollar grant to promote marriage, while rejecting federal money for health care reform within our state and proceeding with the SRS office closures.   

Governor Brownback is promoting a “culture of life” from his mansion in Topeka and thinking of new ways to pimp out poverty stricken single mothers within the state while what we really need are healthy, empowered mothers, because healthy mothers lead to healthy children.  Health care, childcare assistance and educational opportunities should be the Governor’s focus.  Instead, the hypocrisy runs rampant and we wait for God and a big strong man to come along and save us from feminine handicap, meanwhile an increasing number of children are dying in the state of Kansas.

The Morality of Choosing Abortion

11:14 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Ann Anderson Evans for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

The religious pundits have claimed the moral high ground, claiming that God and History have decreed it immoral to have an abortion.  This is a fiction (though I cannot claim that I know what God thinks, and don’t think they should either).

Supporters of abortion lose nothing if they accede that abortion belongs in some category of the concept of “killing.”  It is sad, feels cruel sometimes, and can upset some people for the rest of their lives.  It’s not a trivial action.

But we kill things all the time. A friend had twins in the ICU, and a few weeks into their treatment, with the twins hanging on for dear life, the insurance company send my friend a notice that coverage had been terminated.  That’s killing.  So is cutting off health care for the ill and vulnerable. So is war, and in a juxtaposition which would challenge any professor of logic, the Christian pundits who claim abortion is murder are often supporters of capital punishment and of our current wars, which are polishing off civilians, including babies, at a diminishing though appalling clip.

Buddhist monks often sweep the path in front of them as they walk, lest they kill any form of life, including insects. Our attitudes regarding the killing of other forms of life on our Earth are careless indeed.

Even deeply religious people are entitled to have their disagreements with current feelings about morality.  In the past, Catholic leaders did not consider embryos in the first semester to be “human.” St. Augustine called of the “unformed” embryos that “…the law of homicide would not apply, for …it could not be said that there was a living soul in that body.”  St. Albertus Magnus noted that a fresh abortion or miscarriage was “animated,” but was “not human.”  The Southern Baptist Convention changed its own position much more recently. In the seventies they voted to support abortion under certain circumstances, and in 2010 said that life begins at conception and God made life, therefore abortion is not permitted.

We are allowing the Christian Right to blanket us with their own interpretation of morality, which has changed over the years, and in any case should apply only to their own believers.

But even deeper than that, an individual may feel that abortion is immoral because it is a form of killing, but may feel even deeper that it is immoral and irresponsible to bring into the world a child she cannot care for. That this is the case is evident in the number of women of every faith that have abortions.

We have morals, and we have responsibilities. The choice not to bear a child can be a deeply moral one.