Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category


Evil Jesus, History’s Most Unpleasant, Failed Messiah

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What words come from the mouths of the religious when they speak about Jesus?

Loving? Merciful? Just? Compassionate?

The reality is, the Bible reveals Jesus’s primary qualities quite differently: jealous, self-serving, arrogant, petty, maniacal, irrational, unforgiving, bloodthirsty, vindictive—and worse!

“Jesus was a moral lunatic who intended to return with an army of angels to eternally torture the vast majority of humanity. If you’d like to think that’s the “good version” of setting billions of people on fire, think again.”

We can do better, and create a clear a path to a kinder and more thoughtful world.

 

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How the Vatican Manipulates the American Democratic Process

Editor’s note: The following has been adapted from Chapter 4 of our chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s book, American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (1984). This book is available on Kindle here.

The Abortion Movement

In 1980, Federal Judge John Dooling, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, declared that the Hyde Amendment, which prevented Medicaid payment for abortion, was unconstitutional. (Copies of Judge Dooling’s 328-page decision in McRae vs. HEW are rare. During a recent conversation with the Brooklyn United States District Court, I was told that their copy had disappeared and, for this reason, they were not in a position to reproduce it.) Judge Dooling had spent a year gathering evidence and studying the anti-abortion movement, and his findings showed that the anti-abortion movement was essentially a Roman Catholic movement with a little non-Catholic window dressing.[8] The amendment, says Dooling bluntly, was a ploy by anti-abortion congressmen frustrated in their attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would override the Supreme Court’s 1973 pro-abortion decision; its purpose was quite simply to circumvent the Court’s ruling and prevent as many abortions as possible. Dooling, a practicing Catholic, makes short shrift of the anti-abortionists’ pretensions to be a spontaneous grass-roots movement that owes its political victories to sheer moral appeal. He confirms that the right-to-life’s main source of energy, organization, and direction has been the Catholic Church, and he describes in detail how the movement uses one-issue voting to put pressure on legislators, candidates, and the party organizations that nominate them—a tactic that gains influence far out of proportion to its numbers. Please see appendix one for excerpts from Judge Dooling’s decision in McRae vs. HEW.

What is most significant in this extract is Judge Dooling’s finding that the anti-abortion movement’s main source of energy, organization, and direction has been the Catholic Church. The bishops’ Pastoral Plan prompted the creation of the Moral Majority. Richard A. Viguerie, a Catholic, is the man most responsible for the development and success of the New Right, and he will be the first to claim that honor. He was also involved in the original discussions that led to the creation of the Moral Majority and, as its fundraiser, can be credited with its financial success. Paul Weyrich, a Catholic, claims credit for originating the idea for the group and the name itself. In their search for an attractive front man for the organization, they chose Jerry Falwell, who, according to intimates, has an insatiable lust for power—and, thus, Moral Majority, Inc., was born.[9]

It is inconceivable that these Catholic laymen were not responding to the bishops’ Pastoral Plan. Much went into avoiding public disclosure of the role of the Catholic Church in the creation of the Moral Majority. Maxine Negri, in “A Well-Planned Conspiracy,” exposed involvement of the Catholic hierarchy in the Moral Majority.[10] Then, the June 21, 1982, issue of U.S. News and World Report noted:

At the heart of Moral Majority is a direct-mail operation…. Membership claims … put the number of Moral Majority’s active supporters at roughly 4 million Roman Catholics, Protestant fundamentalists, and orthodox Jews. The organization says its “hardcore contributors,” numbered at more than 400,000, include a cadre of 80,000 priests, ministers, and rabbis organized into fifty autonomous chapters.

This claim of autonomy should not be taken seriously. What is described here is exactly the organization described in the Pastoral Plan of Action down to the details.

None of us who has ever worked extensively with fundamentalist churches or lived among fundamentalists ever took the claim that the Moral Majority was a fundamentalist organization seriously. One characteristic common among fundamentalists is a keen sense of individualism, and individualists are often fundamentalists because of this trait. There is self-selection. They strongly resist the “herding” that characterizes other major denominations such as the Catholic Church. It is very difficult to organize two or three local fundamentalist churches to carry out even a local short-term civic activity. Organizing much beyond this is inconceivable. In contrast, the Catholic Church, with its keen sense of organization acquired over a two-thousand-year history, found the “organization” of the fundamentalists a relatively simple task by providing with few exceptions the entire organization infrastructure, including the organization of the fifty autonomous state chapters and the organizations in the 435 congressional districts.

The far more experienced and autocratic Catholic Church found the fundamentalists easy prey. They created “leader” Jerry Falwell and they sought out for other visible positions others who also had an insatiable lust for power. These fundamentalists toe the line of the Catholic Church to maintain their newly acquired visibility and their sense of power. And, of course, the purse strings of the Moral Majority are controlled by those who collect the money—represented by Richard Viguerie. As the old adage goes, “he who controls the purse strings, controls the organization.”

The Family-Planning Movement

There is little doubt that virtually all opposition to the family-planning movement is Roman Catholic. The anti-family-planning movement’s main source of energy, organization, and direction clearly has been the Roman Catholic Church. Most people outside the family-planning field are not aware that this anti-family-planning movement continues to score major victories, such as preventing the U.S. sale of Depo-Provera, the birth-control injectable given every three months, a method which all available data indicate is safer than birth control pills. Depo-Provera is used by tens of millions of women around the world and is now approved by over one hundred countries, including most European countries, WHO, and other prestigious groups. Other victories include successfully laying roadblocks that prevent tens of thousands of women from receiving sterilization operations when they want them, roadblocks which result in thousands of unwanted births yearly. Far more important are the successes of the Church in minimizing U.S. assistance to family-planning efforts in developing countries.

Many of these victories for the Church come under the heading “Administrative Areas” in the bishops’ Pastoral Plan of Action. Two recent examples of Catholic Church activity are the mandatory notification of parents of teens who seek contraceptives at federally funded clinics and the banning of federal funds for family-planning clinics which provide abortion.

The ERA Movement

The Equal Rights Amendment died June 30, 1982. I am certain that its failure was the result of the success of the Catholic hierarchy’s bold efforts to defeat it. As with the anti-abortion movement, the main source of energy, organization, and direction of the anti-ERA movement is the Roman Catholic Church.

In June 1978, I received a Planned Parenthood Washington Memo which contained an article entitled “U.S. Bishops Block Pro-ERA Statement.” In part, it read:

The Roman Catholic hierarchy, in early May, refused to permit issuance of a subcommittee’s statement supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, indicating that the fight against legal abortion takes precedence as its preeminent concern.

The pro-ERA statement was supported by the bishops’ six-member Ad Hoc Committee on Women in the Church and Society, which took pains to separate support for ERA from any connotation of accepting abortion. Furthermore, they sought only to issue the statement in their own behalf and had reportedly consulted with the Family Life section of the bishops’ Department of Education, which apparently approved their conclusions “that the ERA will not threaten the stability of marriage in family life.”

According to a report of the National Catholic News Service, acceptance of the statement had been urged by ninety-four employees of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference, but advance disclosures about the issue also generated heavy mail from the “right to life” groups opposing the ERA. The NCCB’s forty-eight-member administrative board, which sets policy for the 345 U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, rejected the pro-ERA document during an early May meeting in Chicago, contending that it could hurt anti-abortion efforts.

It is now apparent that this move by the bishops was a brilliant ploy. The Church not only evaded taking a positive stand on an important social justice issue which threatens its power but it has worked diligently to defeat the ERA by using the very same political action organization used to combat abortion!

In my home state of North Carolina, one of the last hopes of the ERA movement, we saw statewide polls in May 1982 show that two-thirds of our citizens favored the amendment, and, in June 1982, we saw two-thirds of our lawmakers vote to defeat it. Clearly, a vast superior organization killed the ERA in North Carolina, a finely honed and skillful operation, one two thousand years in the making—the same one continuing to fight legalized abortions in our fair state.

Actions Taken by the Church

What actions has the hierarchy taken to counter the abortion, family-planning, and ERA movements?

In 1980, Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, a Canadian Roman Catholic professor of sociology at the University of Montreal, published a book entitled Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites.[11] This is a study of the techniques intensively used by the Vatican in many countries to control Catholic laypersons in Italy over the past one hundred years. In 1875, the Vatican created a system of local parish committees of at least five members each, called Catholic Actions. These committees were created to organize laypersons to assist the Vatican in seizing control of local, state, and national political machinery. Over the years, the Church gained considerable experience in organizing these committees and in ensuring obedience and a very high degree of responsiveness to the chain of command by the committees. These committees and their more recent counterpart, civic committees, are highly effective in mobilizing Vatican efforts. Vaillancourt places the role of the committees in proper perspective by discussing

a famous open letter presented to the Pope in 1968 by dissatisfied Catholics from France and elsewhere. The letter severely criticized the Vatican’s excessive attachment to wealth and power, stressing the idea that Church authorities are too repressive and manipulative:

“The whole Church apparatus is organized for control: the Roman Curia controls the bishops, the bishops the clergy, the clergy controls the laity … and the lay Christians control (what an illusion!) mankind. Hence a multiplication of secretaries, commissions, structures, etc., with their programs and rules…. Underhand influences have suffocated the openness which had manifested itself at the lay conference in Rome, a congress which had very little communication with the bishops who were then meeting in a synod.”

After this attack on the abuses of social and legal power by church authorities, the letter goes on to describe three of the favorite techniques of control used by the Vatican: secrecy (there are secret files even against bishops), spying and informing, and repression (used even against some of the most respected theologians).

Secrecy can be classified as either a legal or a social method of control, depending on whether it is used as an administrative-legal procedure or as a simple social defense mechanism. Spying and informing would clearly be instances of social power, since they entail the use of social processes. Finally, repression, as discussed in the open letter, refers to a mixture of legal, coercive, and even remunerative power. Concretely, it includes the habitual recourse by Church officials to excommunications, censures, condemnations, demotions, and the removal or firing of offenders from their ecclesiastical jobs.

In researching Papal Power, Vaillancourt studied Vatican control over lay Catholic elites for years, spending a large part of his time at the Vatican. To effect this control, Vaillancourt has found that the Vatican exercises eight kinds of power—all of which have been used and have proved effective in opposing social issues in the United States.

ECOLOGICAL POWER, based on the physical control of material environmental conditions. An example of this is the use of territory, buildings, or real estate to control people through the domination of their environment.

REMUNERATIVE POWER, based on material or nonmaterial rewards or compensations. An example of this is the way the Pius XII Foundation uses its funds to support some lay activities and not others.

COERCIVE POWER, based on physical or psychic violence. Examples of this are burning at the stake, torture, imprisonment, banishment, blackmail, removal from office, denouncement.

SOCIAL POWER, based on the use of structural-organizational or psycho-sociological mechanisms such as Catholic Action congresses, peer-group pressures, rumors, co-optation, social ostracism, socialization, use of mass media, nepotism, and selective recruitment. An example of social power is “conditioning.” …

LEGAL POWER, juridically founded, or simply based on bureaucratic and administrative norms, procedures, and maneuvers. An example of this is the rule of secrecy which affects, under the pain of “grievous sin,” the affairs of the Secretariate of the Pope and the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church in their relations with Vatican diplomats and other high-ranking prelates. Another example is censorship, through the nihil obstat and imprimatur.

TRADITIONAL POWER, based on the use of traditional symbols, rituals, ideas, and sentiments. The cementing of loyalty through a mass of torch-lit procession during a congress would be an example of this kind of power. Appeals to practices (for example, speaking Latin) and documents popular or prevalent in previous times are also instances of the use of traditional power.

EXPERT POWER, based on professional, technical, or scientific or purely rational arguments. An example of this is the recourse to commissions of experts in theology or the social sciences to bolster one’s position. Pius XII’s speeches to numerous groups on a multitude of topics was also an effort to control through expert power.

CHARISMATIC POWER, based on exemplary or ethical prophecy. Examples of this are calls for social justice and equality (used extensively in recent years) or the giving away of some of the Church’s possessions for certain causes (for example, a ring in a Brazilian slum). In a less prophetic vein, the replacement of personal charisma of office and the routinization of charisma are other examples of the use of this kind of power.

The Vatican with one hundred years of experience in controlling nations through these lay Catholic organizations, has chosen to export this highly developed mechanism for control of lay Catholics and democratic processes to the United States. In 1975, the Church launched its Pastoral Plan of Action. The “committees” discussed in this plan are the same “committees” discussed by Vaillancourt that are used to control lay Catholics and to serve as political machinery. These “committees” which make up anti-abortion organizations are openly being used by the Vatican to manipulate the American democratic process. This includes the Moral Majority organization, as unsuspecting Protestants lend their support. For those who have figured out that they are being used, the lust for power or attention given them is enough to keep them in the fold.

The Pastoral Plan of Action was supposedly initiated by the Vatican because “the will of God and the law of reason” demanded an unrelenting fight against abortion. However, by 1978, it became apparent that the Vatican had simply seized upon a golden opportunity to mobilize Catholic America into a political party using its “right-to-life committees”—including the Moral Majority. Some observers began to recognize that these very same “committees” were being used to fight the other “enemies” of the Catholic Church: the ERA, family planning, the environmental movement, illegal immigration control, and support for the Global 2000 Report. I am now convinced that abortion was simply an excuse to politically mobilize the American Catholic Church and create, de facto, an American Catholic Political Party. The same techniques and tactics developed and used by the Church one hundred years ago to manipulate local, state, and national governments on other continents are exactly the same techniques and tactics seen in America today!

In 1977, victory for the ERA movement seemed almost certain. Few Americans realize the fantastic amount of organization and mobilization of human resources, funds, and commitment it took on the part of the Vatican to turn apparent victory for the ERA into defeat. Phyllis Schlafly, a Catholic, and the “organization” she headed, got more help from the Vatican and the American bishops than most Americans can possibly imagine. Judge Dooling found the anti-abortionists’ claim that they were a grass-roots movement to be spurious; the belief that the anti-ERA forces are also a grass-roots movement is ridiculous.

As serious observers study the opposition to the family-planning movement, the environmental movement, illegal immigration control, and the Global 2000 Report, they recognize just how sophisticated the opposition is—the amount of energy, organization, and direction each has—and that the opposition is all the same people, the same committees.

Conclusion

This is not an abstract theory. Such organization has been effective in Italy and other countries and was described by Vaillancourt before it got underway in earnest in the United States. Until those of us who are concerned about these social justice issues are willing to confront the Catholic hierarchy, there will be no significant advances in these areas of social justice. So long as the Church can act “undercover,” it will continue to be effective in thwarting significant advances. Our willingness to permit the Church to act in secrecy in America vastly enhances its power. It is absolutely essential that our silence be shattered. If not, then no matter which of these causes is “our cause” it’s a lost cause. Just as important, the strength of a threatening Vatican-controlled political party in America will continue to grow. American Catholics who are seriously concerned about social justice must take the pope and the Vatican at their word when they say that they do not intend to change their course. Catholics must be aware that the pope and the Vatican are choosing their social justice issues very selectively. In the 1970s, Cardinal Leo Suenens proposed that the position of pope and the Vatican, as we know it, be eliminated and that four “mini-pope” positions be created; this is consistent with Catholic teachings. He insisted that this is feasible. Perhaps it is time for socially responsible American Catholics to break the American Church away from the control of the Vatican. Otherwise, they as individuals stand to be accused of the same hypocrisy practiced by their Church hierarchy.


[8] D. J. Dooling, decision in McRae vs. HEW, New York: U.S. District Court. See, Appendix 1 for a more complete extract from Judge Dooling’s decision.

[9] P. D. Young, “Richard A. Viguerie: The New Right’s Secret Power Broker,” Penthouse (December 1982), p. 146.

[10] Maxine Negri, “A Well-Planned Conspiracy,” The Humanist (May/June 1982), 42:3:40.

[11] Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

Dr. Stephen Mumford is the founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. He has his doctorate in Public Health. His principal research interest has been the relationship between world population growth and national and global security. He has been called to provide expert testimony before the U.S. Congress on the implications of world population growth.

Dr. Mumford has decades of international experience in fertility research where he is widely published, and has addressed conferences worldwide on new contraceptive technologies and the stresses to the security of families, societies and nations that are created by continued uncontrolled population growth. Using church policy documents and writings of the Vatican elite, he has introduced research showing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as the principal power behind efforts to block the availability of contraceptive services worldwide.

In addition to his books on biomedical and social aspects of family planning, as well as scientific articles in more than a score of journals, Dr. Mumford’s major works include: The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1996); The Pope and the New Apocalypse: The Holy War Against Family Planning (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1986); and American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (Amherst, New York: Humanist Press, 1984).

Professor Milton Siegel, who for 24 years was the Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, speaks to Dr. Mumford in 1992 to reveal that although there was a consensus that overpopulation was a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future, the Vatican successfully fought off the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

The Fascist Vatican

Empire – The Vatican: A Wholly Roman Empire?

 

 

 

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Woman kills toddler while reenacting story of Abraham

Bible study gone wrong: Inspired by a church sermon on the Book of Genesis, a Florida woman allegedly killed a 2-year-old girl and attempted to kill the girl’s 10-year-old brother in a failed attempt to recreate the Biblical story of Abraham.

According to police, Kymberley Dawn Lucas, 40, is accused of killing 2-year-old Elliana  and trying to kill her 10-year-old brother Ethan before trying, unsuccessfully, to end her own life.

Lucas and her longtime partner had raised the boy and girl since their birth.

Investigators report Lucas attended a sermon by Metropolitan Community Church pastor Lea Brown this past Sunday. Brown’s sermon covered the Biblical story of Abraham attempting to sacrifice his son Isaac on orders from God, only to be stopped by God at the last minute.

Pastor Brown says she stands by her sermon on Abraham, saying “It’s what I was called to do, there’s no way anyone could have predicted this.”

Brown confirmed that the children and both women attended her service, and that her sermon covered Genesis 22, in which God challenges Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

In the Biblical account, Abraham follows God’s instructions, taking the boy to a mountain, laying Isaac on an altar in preparation for the sacrifice. At the last second, God orders Abraham to spare the child.

In a suicide note Lucas reports that unlike the Biblical account of Abraham, God did not step in and stop her from taking the child’s life. An excerpt from the note reads:

“Lea’s sermon really, really touched me yesterday but God never told me to stop!”

Lucas is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail and faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Abraham and Isaac


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Right-Wing Christians’ Hostility to Science Destroys Lives

When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40% [3], along with a drop in abortions [4]. The program saved the state 42.5 million dollars [5] 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. Why? Because they insist, wrongly, that IUD’s work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred. This claim, which is based in bad faith and scientific ignorance, undermines fiscal prudence and flourishing families.

Excellent Family Planning Transforms Family Life

Research from around the world shows that children and families are more likely to thrive when women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing. The benefits are enormous: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse—even lower crime rates. Whole communities gain as women (and men!) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.

Despite mountains of evidence showing that family planning empowers family flourishing, early and unwanted pregnancy has been a tough pattern to change, even in the United States. Until very recently, half of U.S. pregnancies were unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70 percent of pregnancies are unintended. For teens that’s more than 80 percent. This pattern has many causes, but part of the problem is antiquated family planning technologies that are highly prone to human error. In any given year, 1 out of 11 [6] couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy. For couples relying on condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6 [6]!

By contrast, state-of-the-art IUD’s and implants drop the pregnancy rate below 1 in 500 while allowing a prompt return to normal fertility when they are removed. With a modern IUD in place, a woman enjoys he same level of protection as with tubal sterilization. In other words, we now have the technology to make surprise pregnancy truly surprising. It is easy to understand why advocates for children like the American Academy of Pediatrics [7], and advocates for healthy families like the California Family Health Council [8] and CDC [9] are eager to see these top tier birth control methods become the new normal.

Ignorant Obstructionism

People who care about flourishing families, including those who see themselves compassionate conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to help facilitate a transition to these new technologies. Above all, compassion and prudence dictate that these tools should be available to young and poor women, who (along with their children) are most likely to be harmed by an unexpected pregnancy.

But opponents to modern contraception—led by conservative Catholics—are instead spreading misinformation, insisting that highly effective contraceptives are not actually contraceptives but instead are like “having an abortion mill in your body.” They further insist that each embryo is precious and merits the protections of “personhood.” Colorado has been a battleground in which fetal-rights advocates have repeatedly tried to pass legislation that gives legal standing to fertilized eggs and later embryonic stages of life.

Most recently these same conservative advocates and politicians have come out fighting against programs that would make IUD’s and implants available to young women, even those who already are teen moms, desperately trying to take care of the children they already have.

How Modern IUD’s Actually Work

In reality, all family planning methods [10] available in the U.S. today are true contraceptives: they prevent fertilization of an egg by a sperm.

Pregnancy can be stopped at four points: 1. preventing the production of gametes (eggs and sperm), 2. blocking fertilization (conception), 3. preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or 4. aborting an implanted pregnancy. Modern IUD’s are designed to prevent fertilization:

§  A nonhormonal copper IUD releases copper ions that interfere with sperm motility. The presence of copper may also change the surface of the egg so that it is less easily penetrated by a sperm. In addition, inflammatory cells evoked in the uterine cavity in response to the IUD kill sperm before they can ascend to the fallopian tubes, where fertilization occurs. In this regard, one can view the copper IUD as in intrauterine spermicide.

§  A hormonal IUD releases a mostly local dose of Levonorgestrel, a hormone in many birth control pills. It causes the mucus at the opening to the cervix to thicken so that sperm can’t get through. Thus, this IUD can be considered a barrier contraceptive, like a cervical cap.

A modern IUD can be thought of as a drug delivery system which has the potential to deliver a variety of drugs to a small target: the cavity of the uterus. The primary and intended mechanism of existing copper and hormonal IUDs, by design, is to prevent conception, and that is what each of these does.

But What If . . . .

What if a sperm got past that mucus plug or despite the spermicidal effects of copper managed to swim up the fallopian tube? What if a sperm and egg did unite? Could the IUD interfere with implantation? Yes. However, since fertilization is rare with either modern IUD, a fertilized egg failing to implant and flushing out is also rare. By contrast, when a sexually active woman is not using contraception, she may flush out a fertilized egg most months until she gets pregnant. Best estimates suggest that 60-80 percent of fertilized eggs never become babies. All of this adds up to a counter-intuitive fact: women who are using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy kill fewer embryos than women who are trying to get pregnant, and the more effective the contraception is, the fewer embryos die.

Nature’s Reproductive Funnel

We now know that nature or nature’s god designed reproduction as a big funnel. More eggs and sperm get produced than will ever meet. More eggs get fertilized than will ever implant. More fertilized eggs implant than will be carried to term by a female body. Genetic recombination is a highly imperfect process, and nature compensates by rejecting most fertilized eggs.

In some animals, the mother’s body aborts or reabsorbs an embryo if her stress level is too high or her protein level is too low. Alternately, her body may hold the fertilized eggs in a sort of suspended animation until conditions improve. Human bodies also have several ways to reduce the number of unhealthy babies, by decreasing fertility and increasing spontaneous abortion under bad circumstances. But like genetic recombination, this process is imperfect. Perfectly healthy embryos flush out, while some with birth defects—even horrible defects—get through.

Since spontaneous abortion is a natural and common part of human reproduction—one could say that every fertile woman has an abortion mill in her body—contraceptives actually reduce the number of fertilized eggs that fail to become babies, and the more effective they are at preventing conception, the more embryonic death they prevent. IUD’s are some of the most effective contraceptives available, on par [11] with sterilization. A woman who believes that embryonic life is precious, either to her or to her god, should use the most effective contraceptive available.

Violating Their Own Values and Public Trust

Given these realities, Colorado politicians who undermine access to state of the art contraceptives are neither minimizing embryonic death nor promoting family values.

To reiterate, the research is global and clear: When women are forced to rely on less effective family planning methods, more spontaneous and therapeutic abortions result. So do more ill-timed and unhealthy births. More unhealthy infants suffer and die. A greater percent of children are born to single moms or unstable partnerships. Family conflict increases. More children suffer abuse or struggle with developmental disabilities. More families get mired in poverty. More youth engage in antisocial behavior, including early, indiscriminant childbearing. Public costs associated with teen pregnancy, maternal health, special education, poverty and criminal justice swell. State budgets become more difficult to balance.

This is what conservative Republicans who undermine family planning programs are putting in motion, despite the fact that all of these trends run directly counter to their expressed values.

Ins and Outs of Rabbit-Hole Reasoning

The upside-down priorities of some Colorado legislators illustrate how unquestionable, ideology-based beliefs coupled with motivated reasoning can lead even decent people to violate their own values, while still believing they are doing the right thing.

Republican legislators live in an information web that has been shaped by the Vatican’s opposition to family planning–now picked up and echoed by some conservative Protestant sects and repackaged as “religious freedom.” Another set of dogmas come from Neo-liberalism, for example the belief that the least government is the best government.

Once foundational assumptions like these take root, each acts as a filter, allowing in certain types of evidence and ideas, and excluding others. On Being Certain, by neurologist Robert Burton lays out this process in detail, and Michael Shermer’s book, Why Smart People Believe Weird Things,explains why intelligence provides painfully little protection against rabbit-hole reasoning.

All of us engage in processes known as confirmatory thinking and motivated reasoning to defend a priori positions. For true believers of any stripe, whether political or religious [12], contradictory information gets attacked by the ideology’s “immune system.” Social networks exaggerate this tendency by screening incoming information and identifying trusted messengers or sources, with any belief endorsed by a competing tribe automatically suspect. Oppositional thinking sets in: if my enemy thinks this is good; then it must be bad. And smart people caught in this spiral simply apply their intelligence to the task of defending what they already believe—or want to.

A Conservative Legislator Beats the Odds

Thanks to the power of ideology coupled with rabbit hole reasoning, the data about family planning and family flourishing create a huge challenge for some conservative legislators. Acknowledging that excellent family planning could help Colorado families to flourish (as it does everywhere else) puts an evidence-based Republican at odds with colleagues who are determined to shut down government programs or co-religionists who seek to prevent “artificial family planning.” By contrast, they may find themselves unexpectedly aligned with people they don’t much like. And so, instead of doing the hard work of questioning assumptions, some do the slightly less hard work of convincing themselves this isn’t necessary.

Fortunately, even tightly defended groups like fundamentalist sects or small countercultural cults or extreme political movements or ideologically motivated wings within political parties fail to completely close off inquiry, and individuals do buck the current. At the beginning of February, Colorado Representative Don Coram co-sponsored [13] a bill that would expand IUD access among low income women. Coram is fiscally conservative and opposed to abortion, and in public statements he cited both of these values in support of his bill. “If you are against abortions and you are a fiscal conservative, you better take a long hard look at this bill because that accomplishes both of those,” he said. Research with 10,000 women in St. Louis provides further confirmation [14] that he is right. Coram’s willingness to follow the evidence and buck party line for the sake of his constituents is something we could use more of on both sides of the aisle.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons [15]. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

 


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American Pastor: Christian Children Should Be Taught To Be ‘Extremists’ Like Hitler Youth, ISIS

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Bert Farias is a Christian minister, a columnist, and perhaps the only person in the world who took one look at the Nazis and ISIS and thought “Now, that’s who we should be emulating!”

In an article he wrote for Charisma News, Farias argues that Christianity needs more “soldiers” for Christ and the only way to achieve that is radicalizing the youth. Hey, it worked for Hitler.

Years ago I was part of an apostolic team of fathers who mentored, equipped and empowered radical youth. We believed then and still do now that we are to help define and lead a countercultural movement. It is our passion to upset the sinful status quo of society and the church. Youth are key!

In 1933 Hitler said, “If I can separate the youth of Germany from their parents I will conquer this nation.” He started a movement called “The Brown Shirts” in which 100,000 youth stood in Berlin with their right hand raised and screaming. “Hitler, we are yours!” Imagine our youth pledging that kind of allegiance to King Jesus!

Extending the logic further, Farias looks at “revolutionary countries” where the “youth are trained in combat and weapons” and seethes with jealousy.

 

They are taught principles of Communism and the tenets of militant Islam. They give themselves wholeheartedly to the goal of world domination. Someone once said that Satan is preparing his army, but the church is entertaining her children. We need a radical departure from the standard method of training young men and women for ministry. We need a touch of wholesome extremism to launch a counterculture JESUS revolution!

Farias doesn’t seem to worry that along with all those guns in the hands of children comes some of the worst human rights atrocities being committed in the modern world. Nor did Hitler’s Youth represent a shinning example of humanity. In fact, one might argue that it was the very fanatical extremism being taught and assimilated into these groups that directly led to violence, intolerance and, in the case of both the Nazis and ISIS, genocide.

Equally disturbing is the fact that Farias seems singularly focused on the disturbing maxim “Get them while they’re young.” His entire goal appears to be to start training kids at a young age to be closed-minded. The more radical, the better. As Little Green Footballs points out, Farias’ ministry’s website is full of allusions to warfare, soldiers and fighters. One section reads:

The Training of a New Breed

For a new breed of troops to arise, there must be given a new breed of training. For many of my past trainees have only been trained for the easy and the soft and not for the rigorous and the hard. Many have been trained of the letter but not of the Spirit and so they stand unequipped for the battle and an easy target for the enemy. Sow to the spirit and so shall their swords be sharpened for the flesh has made them dull. For in the flesh is weariness and hands that hang down with the shield of faith. Prepare them to march to a different spirit. Root out the flesh, selfish ambition, and pride and train them to walk by the Lord’s side for the Lord resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

He insists that his little “extremists” will fight not with “earthly weapons” but with the “love of God,” but seems to forget that extremism – whether it be in the name of Allah, Jesus, or German ethnic supremacy – inevitably leads to dehumanization and intolerance of those whom disagree with the “true believers.” It marks the very first step towards oppression and violence.

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This Week in Religion: Revisionist History, the Hitler Card and Pat Robertson on Speed

The religious right said some more ridiculous and repellent things this week.

Photo Credit: Wonderland/Flickr

If you are not a big fan of U.S. history, fear not, because the State of Texas may decide to rewrite American history and make it more, well, Christian.

The Texas Board of Education will vote whether or not to approve historical changes to its textbooks as put forward by Christian pseudo-historian David Barton. Among Barton’s proposed changes would be inflating the impact Judeo-Christian beliefs had among the founding fathers, a historical exclusion of most non-Christian religions, and using some offensive and outdated anthropological racial terms to describe African civilization

This comes months after a heated Texas Board of Education battle to remove evolution from science textbooks, which even led to board members attempting back-alley deals with book publishers.

The vote was originally scheduled for earlier in the week, but was delayed according to the Christian Science Monitor:

“The board, comprised of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, has asked publishers to make changes critics have demanded. Still, the board wasn’t able to get preliminary approval of the books, setting them up for a high-stakes final vote Friday, when the board will approve the books or else miss the deadline to get them to the state’s 1,000-plus school districts by September 2015.”

These devastating changes could keep Texas students from gaining a proper social science education. This ruling could also apply to those states forced to buy the same books Texas orders. As the saying goes, as goes the leader so goes the nation.

Earlier this month, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss postulated that it could only take a single generation of critical thinkers to wipe out religious belief. Speaking at an event in Australia, Krauss said:

“People say, ‘Well, religion has been around since the dawn of man. You’ll never change that.’ But I point out that… this issue of gay marriage, it is going to go away, because if you have a child, a 13-year-old, they can’t understand what the issue is. It’s gone. One generation is all it takes.”

This caused Ray Comfort, a creationist and host of the online Christian talk show “The Comfort Zone,” to go off the rails and compare Krauss to Adolf Hitler.

Comfort’s co-host Emeal Zwayne pointed out that Krauss does not seem to be a big fan of Christianity.

“Just the glee that he got from the thought of eradicating religion — and it’s not religion, he hates Christianity,” Zwayne said. “He hates Christ….”

“Hitler said some similar things. Hitler’s Youth,” Comfort replied.

“And that’s exactly what I was going to say it was reminiscent of,” Zwayne said to viewers. “Very, very terrifying, friends.”

Playing the Hitler card or Godwin’s Law, as it is also called, is usually a sign of a foundering argument. When you are backed against a wall and see no logical way out, playing the Hitler card is an attempt to demonize your opponent. You have to wonder if these radical Christians have finally realized that their back is against a wall and they cannot reason their way back into reality.

The next time you get pulled over for speeding, tell the nice police officer God said it was OK with him. That is, according to Pat Robertson of the television ministry “The 700 Club.”

When a viewer asked Robertson if her husband was sinning when he drove over the speed limit, the host replied: “You’re asking a guy that had a Corvette with a 430 horsepower engine, who is now driving a car that has about a 650 horsepower engine.” Robertson laughed. “Who also drove 30 laps around the Charlotte Motor Speedway in a stock car.”

“I don’t get tickets, I pay attention,” he continued. “But there was one night up in the mountains, when it wasn’t anybody around a four-lane highway late at night, and I did get that little bug up a little over 200mph.”

Robertson then corrected his statement, saying he was only doing 100mph (only the most exotic of sportscars can eclipse 200mph), and then continued to contemplate whether speeding was a sin.

“Is it a sin? I think it’s a sin to hurt somebody,” said Robertson. “I think it’s a sin to drive recklessly….If your driving imperils other people, you are sinning, there’s no question about it.”

Apparently, driving at illegal and possibly dangerous speeds is fine as long as you don’t hurt anyone. Which is equal to shooting a gun into a crowd of people and not hitting anyone. It’s not a sin unless you hit someone. And it’s not a sin if you’re the one who’s imperiled.

Robertson closed the conversation by noting, “don’t imperil anybody else with the way you drive a car, and be careful.”

Dan Arel is the author of Parenting Without God and blogs at Danthropology. Follow him on Twitter @danarel.

Christianity Dismantled in 38 Words

Christianity Ruined in 38 Words


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