Archive for the ‘Religious Fundamentalism’ Category


A demoralized James Dobson admits his defeat

by Steveningen

Maggie Gallagher isn’t the only religious conservative to be feeling a loss of optimism in the new year. In his January newsletter, the hate group Focus on the Family founder, James Dobson comes out and admits that “Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat.” What he fails to understand, or more likely admit to, is why. In his newsletter he proceeds to lay the blame for his failures on the doorstep of President Obama, the Democratic Party and the disappointing Judas Iscariots of the Republican party. There is no acknowledgement that in re-electing this President, the country provided a sound repudiation of Dobson’s brand of extremism. It wasn’t any of the factions he cited in his newsletter that brought about his defeat. It was the electorate, who, among other things, has grown weary of the distortions and ugly tactics employed by social conservatism.

Now let me share my heart with you. I’m sure many of you are discouraged in the aftermath of the National Elections, especially in view of the moral and spiritual issues that took such a beating on November 6th. Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat.

Dobson then goes on to apportion blame to the Democratic party as a whole, outlining “four shocking components of the Democrats’ 2012 platform.” The lies and distortions he presents as evidence is typical of this man. Let’s examine two of them.

1. Abortion should be legalized through nine months of pregnancy.Imagine full-term, healthy babies across the nation being poisoned or dismembered a few days before normal delivery. What a tragedy!

Yes, what a tragedy, if it had any basis in reality. I was completely nonplussed to learn that one of the Democratic platform plank called for the willy nilly aborting of full-term babies. Of course the Democrats have proposed no such thing, but Dobson doesn’t let facts get in the way of fundraising.

2. Same-sex marriages should be permitted by law in every state in the nation.In May, Barack Obama was pictured on the cover of Newsweek with the caption, “The First Gay President.” His policies for the family were affirmed by liberal voters on November 6th. The Supreme Court recently agreed to consider the same-sex marriage issue. If they rule that it is the law, they will open the door to a redefinition of marriage in every state in the land. The family and the nation will never be the same. Nevertheless, neither Democrat nor Republican Congressmen have uttered a word of concern about it. They are deaf and mute while the very future of this great country hangs in the balance. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed by an overwhelming vote a few years ago, but it will be overridden if the Supreme Court issues an adverse ruling. But, who in Congress cares?

Clearly the religious conservative cheese stands alone. Only the brave fundamentalists are standing up for inequality. Ha! If only that were the case. The Republicans in the newly minted 113th Congress have made it a priority to continue defending the federal ban on recognizing gay marriage by approving additional spending on outside counsel. But again, mentioning this fact wouldn’t go a long way in helping him get panic donations.Dobson winds up his screed with this oft-repeated chestnut about the tyranny of our Dictator in Chief.

Well, the election is over and we have a president who often ignores the Constitution and imposes dictatorial powers on the American people.

Of course he provides no citations of how President Obama has ignored the Constitution or how he has exercised one iota of those magical dictatorial powers. The rhetoric is as weak as his political significance. Yes, James Dobson, it is true. Everything you have stood for for 35 years has been going down to defeat. It hasn’t been completely defeated though, and I sense you know it. Why else would you still be making these thinly disguised calls for money if there wasn’t still a dime or two to be eked out from your dwindling base of easily manipulated people. This once fully raging river of cash is slowing down to a trickle and when it has finally dried up, my hope is that you will have too.


Breaking! Another NYC Baby Gets Herpes From Dangerous Haredi Circumcision Ritual

 

Metzitzah b'peh Chabad closeup

 

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has sent out an alert to medical providers warning them that another baby now has Herpes Simplex Virus 1 that was transmitted to the baby through metzitzah b’peh, the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done briefly by haredi mohels after cutting off the foreskin.

Metzitzah b'peh Chabad closeup

Direct oral suction during ritual Jewish circumcision (metzitzah b’peh) has been documented to transmit herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 to newborn males (1-4). In December 2012, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received a report of a new case of HSV-1 infection in a newborn male infant attributable to direct oral suction.
In total, 12 laboratory-confirmed cases of HSV-infection attributable to direct oral suction have now been reported to DOHMH from 2000 – 2012. Two of these infants died, and two others suffered brain damage (4). In the most recent case, the location of herpes lesions (on the penis), viral type (HSV type 1, which is commonly found in the mouth of adults), and timing of infection (10 days after circumcision) are consistent with transmission during direct contact between the mouth of the ritual circumciser (mohel) and the newly circumcised infant penis. When evaluating an ill infant boy in the weeks following circumcision, providers should inquire whether direct oral suction was performed during circumcision and consider infection with HSV or other oral pathogens. Consult with a pediatric infectious disease specialist for guidance regarding the diagnosis and management of an infant with suspected herpes infection; also, see reference #5 under “References and resources” at the end of this alert.…

 


Everything you wanted to know about male supremacy and were too oppressed to ask

Why did ancient cultures only ban homosexuality among men and see abortion as a crime against males? Dr. Zvi Triger examines how ancient laws and social norms have promoted patriarchy.

By Avner Shapira
Patriarchy and sex

Illustation by Yael Bogen
Tali Meyer
Zvi Triger, whose lectures are aired on Army Radio. Photo by Tali Meyer
The terms “gender” and “homosexuality” had not been invented in the 11th century, but even back then the Persian ruler and poet Keikavus already knew what “real men” needed. In his book “Qabus nama,” he recommended that his fellow men not restrict themselves to sexual intercourse with only one of the sexes. Instead, he maintained that they should feel free to conduct relations with women or adolescent boys, according to the seasons. Keikavus explained that because women’s bodies are cool it was better to sleep with them in the summertime, as that would help cool the man’s body. On the other hand, sleeping with boys was recommended in wintertime because their warm bodies would also warm the man making love to them.

Literary scholar Dr. Zvi Triger recounts these pseudo-medical recommendations in the course “Crimes against patriarchy: adultery, abortions and homosexuality from antiquity to today,” which he is currently teaching on Army Radio’s “University on the Air” show on Mondays at 8:30 P.M. The lectures will also come out in book form next year, in the “University on the Air” series published (in Hebrew ) by Modan.

Triger sees expression of a phenomenon that recurs in quite a few ancient cultures in Keikavus’ text: Just as in ancient Greece, there is no sweeping prohibition of sexual relations between men in the “Qabus nama.” Still, the apparently accepted norm is that an adult male is entitled to sleep with women and adolescent boys, but not with other adult males.

“On the face of it, Keikavus’ words express sexual fluidity and a great deal of openness,” Triger says, during a conversation in Tel Aviv. “But, in actuality, we see that patriarchal values are reflected in them, in the manner of representation of the woman’s body and of the adolescent boy’s. The advice is being given to an adult male … It is a wholly masculine point of view, and there are no parallel recommendations for a woman about when and with whom she ought to sleep.”

In his talks, the scholar presents the diverse ways in which laws and social norms have served the male heterosexual position throughout history. He examines the attitude toward sex and sexuality in antiquity, and explains why certain actions – such as adultery and abortion – were primarily forbidden, whereas others – such as homosexual relations – were banned only for men.

The birth of the horns

According to Triger, for the purpose of preserving its existence, the patriarchal social order, under which certain men dominate women and other men, had to define “gendered crimes.” In other words, crimes that apply only to one sex, and as such should be viewed as crimes against the patriarchy. The lecturer provides plenty of examples from ancient Greece, Rome and other countries and eras, and also underscores the way adultery, abortion and homosexuality are treated in Hebrew law, as well as in contemporary Israeli law. Additionally, Triger analyzes the punitive measures against those who committed these offenses in the light of feminist and queer theory.

Triger, 40, is vice dean of the Haim Striks School of Law at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Letzion, and also teaches law at Tel Aviv University; his specialties are family law, contract law and the interface between law and culture. Along with his work as a jurist, he has published a novel, “In Case of Emergency” (Hargol Publishing, 2005 ). He also cowrote (with Haaretz writer Amalia Rosenblum ) the book “Speechless – How Contemporary Israeli Culture is Reflected in Language” (Dvir, 2007 ).

In one of the first lectures in his radio course (which Dr. Hagai Boas edits ), Triger relates that in 711 C.E., a new legal procedure was enacted vis-a-vis incidents of adultery in the Byzantine Empire. Until then, it had been permissible for a man to kill his wife in the event that she had cheated on him, as well as the man with whom she had committed adultery. However, Emperor Justinian II then enacted new laws: From now on, a husband who killed a man for engaging in intercourse with his wife on a single occasion would be put on trial for murder and did not have immunity from prosecution, as had been the custom.

“Under the new laws of Justinian,” Triger explains, “the cuckolded husband had to send his wife’s lover three warning letters demanding that he stop seeing her. Only afterward, if the lover had not obeyed the letters, could he kill him and enjoy immunity from prosecution. This dictate aroused the scorn of the legal sages, who composed a parody of a letter in which a husband with the generic name Martinus Cornelius (playing on the Latin word cornutus – having horns ) urges his wife’s lover to stop seeing her. This humorous letter is the source of the expression ‘made him grow horns,’ which refers to an adulterous wife who has publicly humiliated her husband.”

Throughout history, social attitudes toward adultery reflected fear of female sexuality, Triger continues: “Originally [adultery] was an offense within the family unit, in which the father asserted his authority over his daughters and wives in an attempt to supervise their sexuality. In the ancient world, women were always perceived as suspects; as naive and therefore vulnerable to seduction; and mainly as irrational creatures who could not be relied upon. When adultery became a crime, this apparently expressed an attempt by the governing regime to weaken the family institution [because it took the supervision out of the father’s hands].”

The unyielding attitude toward both the adulterous wife and the man with whom she cheated did not disappear. Indeed, it still resonates in the Israeli criminal justice system. Triger points out that the current penal code contains the “provocation defense,” which allows a murderer’s guilt to be diminished, and his crime commuted from murder to manslaughter if there was some provocation that led him to act as he did.

“Actually, the origin of this offense is in Roman law, which was understanding in cases when a husband catches his wife ‘red-handed’ in the arms of another man and kills them both on the spot,” the scholar explains.

“In Israel, a well-known Supreme Court verdict from the 1990s – the [Maurice] Azuelos case – was lenient on a man who had murdered his wife and a neighbor, whom he suspected of being his wife’s lover. Justice Aharon Barak ruled at the time that, ‘the blood of the average Israeli [male] and average Israeli [female] might boil, when they see the female spouse or male spouse cheating.’ Even though Barak’s wording is gender-neutral, historically the ‘provocation defense’ was tailor-made for men, and experience shows that women generally do not murder husbands who have cheated in similar cases.”

Moreover, because of the Orthodox monopoly on domestic relations in Israeli law, a woman cannot marry a man with whom she had committed adultery prior to her divorce. Adultery can also lead to loss of child-support payments to the ex-wife and of the sum the husband undertook to pay her in the ketubah. And if a married woman becomes pregnant from a man who is not her husband, her children will be designated bastards.

“All these restrictions are imposed only on women,” Triger emphasizes. “A married man who has cheated on his wife and ‘made her grow horns’ will not suffer from them.”

A national womb

As with adultery, abortion was always historically deemed an offense, the punishment for which reflected man’s control over a woman’s body. In contrast to Christian thinking – which completely banned abortion and viewed it as killing the living being developing in a woman’s womb – in ancient Greece and Rome, abortion itself was not considered an offense: The rights of the fetus were not an issue there, rather the rights of the father. If the husband of the woman seeking to abort her fetus agreed to it, the abortion was legal.

Triger: “The most important thing was the consent of the man from whose seed the child was conceived, since the wife was perceived as someone who merely warmed the seed in her womb and enabled it to develop. She had no rights over the fetus, no right to decide about an abortion.

“If she had the abortion done on her own, she violated the husband’s ownership. The wife and her womb were his property. Even when a forbidden abortion was performed, the punishment was imposed on the person who carried it out (for example, whoever gave the wife a drug or potion meant to cause a miscarriage ) and not on the woman in whose body it was performed.”

He adds that in view of the birthrate crisis in ancient Rome, the campaign against abortion was designed, among other things, to compel men to get married. The laws banning abortion were also related to a demographic issue: the state’s interest in the birth of boys, who would become soldiers and fight in its service. This phenomenon, which viewed a woman’s womb as a “national womb,” recurred in modern regimes as well: In fascist Italy, abortion was deemed a “crime against the race.”

There are still people today who wish to deprive a woman of the right to decide about her own body, as evident in the widespread debate over abortion in the United States, where the issue is a highly sensitive political matter. In October the issue also made headlines in Israel, in the wake of the tragic death of teenager Raz Atias. He was shot dead by police after he threatened to kill his pregnant girlfriend and then commit suicide. The boy’s family claims the girl decided not to get an abortion after activists for the Efrat organization allegedly pressured her against it. The group, which works to encourage the Jewish birthrate, offers aid to women who are contemplating having an abortion, and tries to persuade them to change their minds.

Triger believes that, “similarly to the activity of the evangelical right in the United States, the activity of Efrat and other entities in Israel is sustained by the presumption that a woman is not mistress of her own body and that she absolutely must not have an abortion. In the case of Israel, there is the added demographic aspect – in other words, the perception that women must be encouraged to use their wombs to give birth to Jewish children as part of the demographic battle against the Arabs.”

In his lectures, Triger also discusses a so-called offense that relates only to men: homosexuality, and describes the incarnations of “the love that dare not speak its name,” as it was expressed in Greece and Rome, and Hebrew law. He also explains why homosexual relations were in some societies severely looked down upon, whereas lesbian relations were not generally perceived to be a serious threat per se.

Triger contends that the historic reason why sexual relations between members of the same sex were perceived as an offense that only men can commit stems from the patriarchal concept, according to which it is appropriate to punish a man who allows another man to treat him as one treats a woman – i.e., a man who waives the privileges granted to him by the power of his being a man and thus “degrades” himself.

“Inherent in this is potential that threatens the patriarchal order, which is based on a strict division between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ roles, and on the supremacy of the ‘masculine’ roles,” Triger says.

In his opinion, one of the aspects that the three phenomena he discusses have in common is the violation of male honor: “A married woman who sleeps with a man who is not her husband, and also that same man with whom she sleeps – both violate the husband’s honor, because they disrupt his dominion over his family; a married woman who has an abortion likewise violates her husband’s honor, because she aborts a fetus that does not belong to her but rather was merely placed in her care by the husband; and a man who has sex with another man violates male honor in general, by his sheer waiving of ‘manly’ conduct.”

Alongside this, Triger stresses that the attitude toward the three offenses entails a silencing of the female voice and a near-sweeping neglect of women’s needs and wishes, which are viewed as inferior in the social hierarchy.

American claims

In his final lecture, Triger discusses the influence of patriarchal perceptions in our own day. He shows that the gendered offenses have not disappeared from the world, despite the great advances made in the 20th century in the status of women and gays. He bases his argument on the claims of the American theoreticians Carol Gilligan and David A.J. Richards, who have drawn a connection between the progress in women’s status and the rise of religious fundamentalism – Christian, Islamic and Jewish.

“The growing power of religion in the public domain over the last two decades is seen by Gilligan and Richards as a counterreaction to the retreat that occurred in patriarchal power in certain areas,” Triger says. “They hold that the religious radicalization – which is reflected, among other things, in the strengthening of the anti-abortion campaign in the United States, or the lengthening of head and body coverings for women in Islamic nations – is a sort of ‘corrective’ that patriarchal systems are applying in response to the spread of the human-rights culture in general and women’s rights in particular.

“What all types of religious fundamentalism have in common is the attempt to regain control over a woman’s sexuality,” he continues. “The crimes the patriarchal order created in an effort to protect its basic principles exist and are enforced to this day, despite all the improvements that have been achieved. Not only women but men too are suffering from them, because the patriarchal world forces both sexes to obey norms of conduct that are dictated in advance, and to live according to norms of ‘femininity’ or ‘masculinity’ they have no say in, and which they are able to rebel against only if they are willing to pay a high personal price.

“To do away with the crimes against patriarchy,” he concludes, “we must do away with patriarchy itself. We must exchange it for a genuinely democratic social order, free of hierarchy, in which both men and women have an equal voice and an equal right to shape their personal version of masculinity, femininity – or any combination of these they can think of – without being perceived as criminals.”

 


D’Souza’s Sad, Pathetic Wingnut Desperation To Tear Down President Obama
By Nicole Belle

On my weekly segment on the Nicole Sandler Show, Nicole jokes that I watch the Sunday shows so her listeners don’t have to. One of our C&L regulars, Mugsy, watches them too and is a very visible presence on Sundays. He also took upon himself the unenviable task to watch wingnut toadie Dinesh D’Souza’s cinematic claptrap “2016” so you don’t have to. Mugsy methodically broke down all the manipulations, gross deceptions, and blatant lies.

And there are so many….

The film starts out with D’Souza talking about himself and how different his life was growing up in his native India yet how differently he views the world today despite that. Then he proceeds to talk for the next 90 minutes about how life in Kenya… a country D’Souza admits Obama never lived in… must have shaped Obama’s attitudes about America. I find myself wondering, how is it that D’Souza can imagine himself to be so radically different despite having been raised in India (a former British colony), but President Obama’s entire world view is the product of a culture in which HE had never lived? Just one of the major inconsistencies in “Obama: 2016″.

Oh you silly liberal with working critical thinking skills…this is clearly not a movie for you.

D’Souza twice claims Obama “wants to turn the Falkland Islands over to Venezuela”, but a Google search turns up nothing other than President Obama choosing to “remain neutral on the subject of Falkland sovereignty, irking Great Britain.” I’m not even sure why this is suddenly an issue. But clearly, it’s just one more sign of President Obama’s deep hatred of anything connected to Great Britain. It’s not like the Falklands were ever involved in a war or anything, right?

For some odd reason, D’Souza suddenly concedes that Obama: “Increased NASA’s budget”, but “lowered their horizons from ‘a return to the moon’ to ‘reconciling with Muslims’.” (huh??? Yeah, read that as many times as you like, I promise it won’t make any more sense.) He returns to this point later towards the end of the film. See below. Here, D’Souza is clearly blaming Obama for the discontinuation of the Shuttle program, which was actually discontinued under the Bush Administration. In fact, the Obama Administration EXTENDED the Shuttle program by two missions

See, I don’t know that any actual facts will penetrate through this level of derangement. Mugsy did an amazing job, including clips from the film.

Go check it out, if for no other reason than to remind yourself that there is no lie too big, no project too stupid, no low too low for conservatives to stoop to smear the African American Democrat in the White House. Then give Mugsy thanks for watching that piece of excrement so you didn’t have to.


E.W. Jackson: Democrats Have an ‘Agenda Worthy of the Antichrist’

Bishop E.W. Jackson has embarked on a campaign following his failed Senate bid to convince black voters to reject the Democrats’ “anti-God” views and partake in a “mass exodus of Christians from the Democrat party.” Today in an opinion piece in the Washington Times, “Blacks are abandoning the Democratic Party,” Jackson asserted that African Americans will abandon the Democratic party over the issues of abortion rights and gay equality, incredulously asking how Democrats have “managed to hold on to black Christians in spite of an agenda worthy of the Antichrist?” “Mr. Obama’s commitment to the radical left’s anti-Christian, anti-God politics may cost him the election,” Jackson writes, “because a constituency he has taken for granted has awakened to the truth that being the first black president is not enough.” Of course, recent polling shows that Obama has a commanding 94-0 lead among black voters.

I was raised to be an FDR Democrat because my father was a young man during the Depression and credited President Roosevelt with saving him from starvation. “The Republicans only care about rich people,” I was told. This was more than 40 years ago. In spite of my childhood indoctrination, as a young man newly committed to my Christian faith, I had a crisis of conscience in the late 1970s. Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank was pushing the homosexual agenda. How could I, as a Christian, be committed to a party led by Mr. Frank? In the end, I could not. My desire to be in a right relationship with God and my faith was greater than my desire to be approved by my father, my family or the black community.  My wife and I, then Massachusetts residents, left the Democratic Party in 1980 and never looked back.
Democrats now have fully embraced an abortion policy that amounts to infanticide. They have also made the lesbian-homosexual-bisexual-transgender agenda their vision for America. How have they managed to hold on to black Christians in spite of an agenda worthy of the Antichrist? They have shown a ruthless willingness to frighten black voters with outright lies about the plans of conservatives and Republicans. Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s “they gonna put y’all back in chains” was not a gaffe. It is part of the Democrats’ strategy of using fear to keep blacks as a captive audience. I always have believed that such lies could not distract black voters forever or keep them from noticing the increasingly anti-Christian radicalism of the Democratic Party.

Now black churchgoers are being told to suppress Christian conscience and remain beholden to a party that demands their loyalty while insulting their faith and blaspheming their God. For the first time in 50 years, there is a discussion going on in the black community as to whether their loyalty to the Democratic Party is deserved. Many black pastors are telling their members to stay home, rather than vote for a black president who has done more to advance the cause of homosexuality and abortion than that of black Americans.
We are hearing the rumblings of a fissure between black Christians and the Democratic Party. My organization, Staying True to America’s National Destiny (Stand), is calling for a mass exodus of Christians from the Democratic Party. We held a news conference at the National Press Club on Sept. 10 and produced several videos. This not only has prompted discussion, but perhaps has launched a movement. Mr. Obama’s commitment to the radical left’s anti-Christian, anti-God politics may cost him the election, because a constituency he has taken for granted has awakened to the truth that being the first black president is not enough.


The 10 Most Dangerous Religious Right Organizations
The religious right is more powerful than ever, using its massive annual revenue and grassroots troops to promote a right-wing ideology and undermine church and state separation.

The movement known as the Religious Right is the number-one threat to church-state separation in America. This collection of organizations is well funded and well organized; it uses its massive annual revenue and grassroots troops to undermine the wall of separation in communities nationwide.

Americans United staff members have carefully researched this movement, and here are the 10 Religious Right groups that pose the greatest challenges to church-state separation. Most of these organizations are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, but the financial data includes some affiliated 501(c)(4) lobbying organizations operating alongside the main organizations. The figures come from official IRS filings or other reliable sources.

1. Jerry Falwell Ministries/ ­Liberty University/Liberty Counsel

Revenue: $522,784,095

Although Jerry Falwell, a Religious Right icon and founder of the Moral Majority, died in 2007, his empire is going strong thanks mostly to Liberty University, a Lynchburg, Va., school now run by his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. Following in his father’s footsteps, Falwell Jr. regularly meddles in partisan politics – from local contests to presidential races. This year, he invited Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney to give Liberty’s commencement address, introducing him as “the next president of the United States.” A second Falwell son, Jonathan, is pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, a mega-church in Lynchburg. Liberty Counsel is a Religious Right legal outfit founded by Mat Staver that is now based at Liberty University, where it launches lawsuits undermining church-state separation and encourages pastors to get involved in partisan political activity.

2. Pat Robertson Empire

Revenue: $434,971,231

Known for his years of involvement in far-right politics, TV preacher Pat Robertson has forged a vast Religious Right empire anchored by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Robertson also runs Regent University and  a right-wing legal group, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). (Attorney Jay Sekulow heads ACLJ, as well as his own quasi-independent legal outfit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism.) CBN, which brings in the bulk of Robertson’s revenue, broadcasts far-right religious and political invective laced with attacks on church-state separation, a concept Robertson has called a “myth” and a “lie of the left.” His “700 Club” TV program is a powerful forum for the promotion of right-wing ideology and favored politicians. Robertson has been welcomed into the halls of government. The current governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, is a Regent U. graduate.

3. Focus on the Family (includes its 501(c)(4) political affiliate CitizenLink)

Revenue: $104,463,950

Fundamentalist Christian James Dobson founded Focus on the Family to offer “biblical” solutions to family problems. Dobson, a child psychologist by training, soon branched out into the dissemination of hardcore right-wing politics with an international reach. Dobson has been a major player in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., and Focus-aligned “family policy councils” pressure lawmakers and influence legislation in 36 states. In fact, the Colorado-based organization frequently plays a key role in fighting gay rights and restricting abortion at the state level. Jim Daly is now president of Focus; Dobson left the organization in 2010 but remains active on the political scene.

4. Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund)

Revenue: $35,145,644 

The ADF may have changed its name, but it still promotes a familiar Religious Right agenda. The Arizona-based organization, which was founded by far-right TV and radio preachers, attacks church-state separation, blasts gay rights, assails reproductive freedom and seeks to saturate the public schools with its narrow version of fundamentalism. In recent years, the ADF, headed by Ed Meese acolyte Alan Sears, has worked aggressively to overturn a federal law that bars tax-exempt churches and other nonprofits from intervening in partisan elections. The group says church-state separation is not in the Constitution and calls the church-state wall “fictitious.”

5. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Lobbying Expenditures: $26,662,111 

The USCCB for years has lobbied in Washington, D.C., to make the hierarchy’s ultra-conservative stands on reproductive rights, marriage, school vouchers and other public policies the law for all to follow. This year, the USCCB escalated its efforts in the “culture war” arena, forming the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. Led by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, the committee seeks to reduce Americans’ access to birth control, block efforts to expand marriage equality and ensure federal funding of church-affiliated social services, even if the services fail to meet government requirements. American Catholics often disagree with the hierarchy’s stance on social issues, but the bishops’ clout in Washington, D.C., and the state legisla­tures is undeniable.

6. American Family

Association

Revenue: $17,955,438

Founded by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, the Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA once focused on battling “indecent” television shows. When that failed, the group branched out to advocate for standard Religious Right issues such as opposing gay rights, promoting religion in public schools and banning abortion. In recent years, AFA staffer Bryan Fischer has become notorious for making inflammatory statements. Fischer has asserted that Adolf Hitler invented church-state separation and has proposed kidnapping children being raised by same-sex couples. The AFA, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, frequently announces boycotts of companies that don’t give in to its demands. The organization says it operates nearly 200 radio stations nationwide.

7. Family Research Council

Revenue: $14,840,036 (includes 501­(c)(4) affiliate FRC Action)

This group, an offshoot of Focus on the Family, is headed by GOP operative and ex-Louisiana legislator Tony Perkins. It is now the leading Religious Right organization in Washington. Every year, FRC Action sponsors a “Values Voter Summit” to promote far-right politicians and rally Religious Right forces nationwide. The 2012 edition hosted many top Republican politicians and drew about 2,000 attendees. The organization frequently assails public education, political progressives, reproductive justice and the church-state wall and seeks to form a far-right coalition with the Tea Party. FRC is also known to engage in harsh gay bashing and has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

8. Concerned Women for

America

Revenue: $10,352,628 (includes 501­(c)­(4) affiliate CWA Legislative Action Committee)

Founded to counter feminism, Con­cerned Women for America (CWA) claims to be “the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.” Its mission is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” CWA was organized by Tim and Beverly LaHaye in 1979 to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, and when that issue faded, it moved on to other Religious Right agenda items. The group attacks public schools for allegedly promoting “secular humanism” and supports the teaching of creationism in science classes. It also vehemently opposes abortion and gay rights.

9. Faith & Freedom Coalition

Revenue: $5,494,640

This 501(c)(4) advocacy group was founded by former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed. He formed the organization after his run for lieutenant governor in Georgia was derailed because of his ties to disgraced casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In just three years of operation it already boasts more than 500,000 members and claims affiliates in 30 states. Reed is infamous for exaggerating his organizations’ clout, but his latest group is certainly making political waves. In 2012, it hosted forums for GOP presidential hopefuls in four states. Faith & Freedom Coalition claims to have budgeted $10 million in 2012 to lure conservative religious voters to the polls.

10. Council for National Policy

Revenue: $1,976,747

The Council for National Policy exists to do just one thing: organize meetings of right-wing operatives, Religious Right leaders and wealthy business interests at posh hotels around the country to share ideas, plot strategy and vet GOP presidential candidates. Membership is by invitation only, and the group seeks no media attention. Despite its small size and shadowy operations, the CNP – founded by Religious Right godfather Tim LaHaye – wields a great deal of influence, showing that even organizations with modest budgets can have a significant impact. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), after his now-infamous “legitimate rape” comment, showed up at the next CNP meeting to ensure ongoing financial support as he runs for the U.S. Senate. Heritage Foundation Vice President Becky Norton Dunlop currently serves as CNP president, with Phyllis Schlafly and FRC’s Tony Perkins also taking leadership roles.

Simon Brown is a communications associate at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Study Indicates That Herpes Frequently Sheds And Can Be Transmitted Even When Mohel Is Shows No Symptoms Of The Virus

Bris Milah Circumcision Metzitzah B'peh closeup

“At least 70% of the population shed HSV-1 asymptomatically at least once a month, and many individuals appear to shed HSV-1 more than six times a month. Shedding HSV-1 is present at many intraoral sites, for brief periods, at copy numbers sufficient to be transmitted, and even in seronegative individuals.”

Bris Milah Circumcision Metzitzah B'peh closeup
Metzitzah b’peh done in Israel, where it some Zionist Orthodox and Modern Orthodox mohels do the controversial oral sucking procedure, despite its risks to the baby.

Just in case your haredi rabbi says there is no evidence that herpes can be transmitted by metzitzah b’peh (MBP) – the direct oral-to-genital sucking done by many haredi mohels to the baby’s bleeding penis after removing its foreskin – even though babies have died and been maimed by herpes infections transmitted through MBP, or if he says that a mohel who has no outward signs of herpes can safely do MBP, you can cite this study, which shows both claims of your rabbi to be false:

Abstract: Asymptomatic Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) in the Oral Cavity
Howard E. Strassler, DMD

Jan. 27, 2009
Inside Dentistry

Miller CS, Danaher RT. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2008;105(1):43-50.

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the rate of herpes simplex virus (HSV) shedding from the oral cavity, because recent studies suggest that shedding is more frequent than originally reported. Factors that could influence the rate and duration of shedding from the oral cavity were examined.

Methods: Existing epidemiologic data from 22 reports of HSV shedding from more than 3,500 individuals were analyzed with regard to demographics, frequency of sampling, and methodologic assays.

Results: HSV-1 was more likely to be detected than HSV-2 in the oral cavity of asymptomatic persons (7.5 odds ratio, 95% confidence interval 4.4–12.8; P < .0001). The rate of shedding was highly variable among individuals, ranging from none to 92% of the days tested, and occurred in seropositive and seronegative individuals. In cell culture studies, the rate of detection on a single day was 6.3%. Polymerase chain reaction studies provided a different picture. HSV-1 DNA was present in 97 of 180 patients (53.9%) at multiple visits, with a rate of daily detection of 33.3%. The mean duration of shedding was between 1 and 3 days, but more than 3 days in about 10% of the patients.

Conclusion: At least 70% of the population shed HSV-1 asymptomatically at least once a month, and many individuals appear to shed HSV-1 more than six times a month. Shedding HSV-1 is present at many intraoral sites, for brief periods, at copy numbers sufficient to be transmitted, and even in seronegative individuals. The dental implications of these findings are discussed.

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a significant human pathogen infecting most individuals early in life, predominantly at mucosal surfaces after exposure to infected secretions. It has been implicated in a range of diseases including labials and stomatitis, blinding keratitis, and, rarely, encephalitis. According to the data, more than 70% of adults have neutralizing antibodies and serve as reservoirs of the virus. The authors have done an excellent systematic review of the rate of shedding of HSV from the oral cavity. Asymptomatic shedding is generally defined as the presence of HSV in the absence of clinical lesions. Based on this review, the frequency of HSV shedding at virus numbers sufficient to be transmitted are significantly higher than most clinicians would suspect. These high frequencies of asymptomatic shedding suggest that HSV-1 is not as dormant during latency as previously believed. This translates to the fact that even without clinical lesions, the dentist, dental hygienist, and chairside assistant are at risk. This data emphasize the importance of being diligent in maintaining proper infection control procedures (eye protection, gloves, mask) when performing routine dental examinations and procedures. All efforts should be taken to minimize splashes and splatters of oral fluids even in the absence of HSV oral lesions. Also, medical conditions, eg, immunosuppression and traumatic oral surgical procedures, increase the likelihood of virus shedding in the oral cavity.

Howard E. Strassler, DMD
Professor and Director of Operative Dentistry
Department of Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry
University of Maryland Dental School
Baltimore, Maryland

Baby Dies of Herpes in Ritual Circumcision By Orthodox Jews

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/baby-dies-herpes-virus-ritual-circumcision-nyc-orthodox/story?id=15888618

Baby’s Death Renews Debate Over a Circumcision Ritual

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/nyregion/infants-death-renews-debate-over-a-circumcision-ritual.html

How 11 New York City Babies Contracted Herpes Through Circumcision

http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/07/how-11-new-york-city-babies-contracted-herpes-through-circumcision/

Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Infection Following Jewish Ritual Circumcisions that Included Direct Orogenital Suction — New York City, 2000–2011

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6122a2.htm

NYC Puts at Least One Restriction on Mohels Sucking Freshly Circumcised Baby Penises

http://gawker.com/5947500/nyc-getting-closer-to-banning-adults-from-sucking-freshly-circumcised-baby-penises

Banned Herpes Mohel Still Circumcising Babies

http://gothamist.com/2012/03/14/authorities_investigating_herpes_mo.php

Circumcision’s Deadly Fault Line: Rationality vs. the Metzitzah B’Peh

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/10/circumcision-s-deadly-fault-line-rationality-vs-the-metzitzah-b-peh.html

 

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