Idaho Baptists Claim Jesus Told Them to Steal Children

A group of Idaho Baptists who are now in Haitian custody are claiming that Jesus told them it would be alright to grab a bunch of Haitian children and traffic them into the United States. Official authorization? Checking to see if the children were really orphans? Working to alleviate Haiti’s poverty instead of just stealing children to give them a “good” American life? Such questions are irrelevant when Jesus has given you direct orders.

Fox News has a creepily sympathetic article about this group, which repeatedly mentions how parents “want” to give up their kids to white Americans, so really, these Baptists who rounded up these non-orphan kids and put them on a bus with little explanation weren’t doing anything so wrong.

From the article:

The church group’s own mission statement said it planned to spend only hours in the devastated capital, quickly identifying children without immediate families and busing them to a rented hotel in the Dominican Republic without bothering to get permission from the Haitian government.

The idiocy, it burns…

“In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing,” the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Silsby, told the AP at Haiti’s judicial police headquarters, where she and others were taken after their arrest Friday night trying to cross the border into the Dominican Republic in a bus.

Silsby, 40, admitted she had not obtained the proper Haitian documents for the children, whose names were written on pink tape on their shirts.

Yes, she only had the children’s best interests in mind…

The children, ages 2 months to 12 years old, were taken to an orphanage run by Austrian-based SOS Children’s Villages, where spokesman George Willeit said they arrived “very hungry, very thirsty.”

A 2- to 3-month old baby was dehydrated and had to be hospitalized, he said. An orphanage worker held and caressed another, older baby, who was feverish and looked disoriented.

“One (8-year-old) girl was crying, and saying, ‘I am not an orphan. I still have my parents.’ And she thought she was going on a summer camp or a boarding school or something like that,” Willeit said.

Nice work, Central Valley Baptist Church and East Side Baptist Church members. Their pastor, Rev. Clint Henry, who remained in Idaho, has some interesting things to say about this kerfuffle. He asked his congregation to pray to God to “help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan and the lies that he would want them to believe and the fears that he would want to plant into their heart.” He also said that the plan to steal children in the wake of a disaster was hatched “because we believe that Christ has asked us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that includes children.”

Who do these people think they are? Because they are white, Christian, and American citizens they can flaunt any law, any consideration of decency, any basic sense of morality? The arrogant assumption that their desire to acquire poor brown babies trumps the human rights of the children and families involved is sickening. Their shock that they would be prevented from perpetrating this egregious and cruel crime is vomit-worthy.

Laura Silsby, the ringleader, had the tone-deaf, entitled hubris to say that child trafficking “is exactly what we are trying to combat.” No, child trafficking is what you are doing. Laura Silsby is a would-be child-trafficker who simply got caught. How does she think she is doing anything different than other child traffickers? It doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation that she has set up a special little organization in Idaho: New Life Children’s Refuge. THIS IS WHY TRANSNATIONAL ADOPTION AGENCIES HAVE SUCH A BAD NAME.

So now the United Nations, Red Cross and Haitian government have to run around looking for the families of these children and bring them back to health instead of doing whatever totally inconsequential things that they were previously occupied with. Nice work Baptists.

Dear Fox News and Idaho Baptists,

It is not okay to take children from their families, cultures, and homes and bring them to America because the children happen to be poor and of color. A childhood in America is NOT categorically better than a childhood elsewhere. White middle-class American parents are NOT categorically superior to brown or black poor non-American parents. Ideas to the contrary are based on colonial and racist bias. Period. Stealing children because they are poor and non-white has been perpetrated by whites since the moment they arrived in the Americas. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is. IT IS ALWAYS WRONG. Anyone who actually wants to “help” poor children of color would support poor families of color. This would take the form of: boycotting all companies that exploit cheap labor in poor countries, resisting the IMF and World Bank, stop creating unequal and exploitative “free” trade agreements, stop exporting consumerism, stop meddling with their governments, give aid without strings attached, support efforts to improve health clinic and reproduction options, stop supporting the exportation of American-style patriarchy, fight against the pollution American companies create that devastates the environment and the health of people in other countries, and etc. There are dozens of concrete and meaningful ways to support Haiti and Haitian families. Child trafficking in the name of Jesus is not one of them.

The Czech

PS. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-adoption. There are many people who are transnational adoptees in my life, and they have helped to educate me on these issues. Transnational adoption is fraught with pitfalls whenever there are power inequalities between the countries in question, but I believe there is a right way to do it. The Idaho Baptist method is not the right way.

Perhaps the Central Valley and East Side Baptist Churches share some membership with Concerned Women for America. Penny Young Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, wrote a stunning article in the Washington Times recently. Here are just a few of her words:

Conservatives believe that government is a very limited solution to poverty. So what is our answer?

…It might mean a personal long-term commitment to a child or one of the estimated 377 orphanages in Haiti.

…The first and obvious goal should be to remove red tape both in the U.S. and in Haiti. Of course, the proper investigation to assure that the child or children are matched to a safe home is a must.

But here’s my fave quote:

In Haiti, the U.S. government should use some of its new leverage to ask Haitian officials to cut red tape in that country and follow the same example with immigration authorities here.

By “new leverage” could Nance possibly be referring to the recent US military occupation of Haiti? 100 points to Nance for most hilarious use of a euphemism for neo-colonialism!

But Nance’s response to disaster in Haiti doesn’t just include the siphoning of their children to middle-class Americans. Oh no. She is also adamant that “helping Haiti” include “federal tax incentives of up to $10,000” to the adoptive parents. I only wish I were joking. But if I understand her correctly, she wants the federal government to spend tens of thousands of dollars on middle-class Americans as a response to a disaster in Haiti?

Genius or idiocy, you decide. I do get the impression that Penny Young Nance and Laura Silsby are probably BFFs. Or at least, if they weren’t before, they are now.

Jesus Guns Killing Jihadists!

Awesome. The United States and our buds the United Kingdom have been buying guns for our respective militaries with secret Bible quotes inscribed on them!

Jesus Gun

Jesus Gun Bible Code

From the Daily Mail: “A spokesman for Trijicon said the inscriptions had always been on the sights and began under founder Glyn Bindon, who was a devout Christian.”

Just to be clear, I don’t actually think this is awesome. More like the opposite.

Riches make themselves wings: they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

I did a random and uncharacteristic thing. The context was that I was explaining to a friend how there are plenty of verses in the Bible uplifting the poor, exhorting charity, and condemning wealth that we should use to combat the twisted I-got-mine-screw-you theology of the Religious Right.

Then I sat down and spent my entire Saturday night researching just those kinds of verses in the Bible.

So below you will find some of the gems, which I pulled out because of the incisive or ferocious language or because of their poetic beauty. The Bible can indeed be used for good, as I hope these verses will demonstrate. I grew up Christian, and my first inklings of social justice concepts came from reading Bible verses such as these. Though I am no longer Christian, I still find them inspiring.

Below the fold, you will find a massive compilation of verses that deal with poverty, charity and wealth.

Job 20:15
He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.

Job 36:19
Will [God] esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.

Psalm 9:17
[T]he needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

Psalm 39:6
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

Psalm 72:4
He will defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
he will crush the oppressor.

Proverbs 23:5
[R]iches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Proverbs 30:14
There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

Proverbs 31:7
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Ecclesiastes 5:12
The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep.

Matthew 19:24
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

James 2:6
Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

James 5:1
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

A hella lot more verses below! The majority come from the King James Bible, except where noted. I went with the New International version whenever the language of King James got too obscure for me. Continue reading

Eyewitness Account of Kentucky’s Creation Museum

Hello. This is a special guest post from Patrick the Nowhere Man. While exploring the wonders of the American countryside, I wandered into a magical place in Petersburg, Kentucky, known as the Creation Museum. The Czech requested a firsthand account, via photo blog, of my experiences there, so here it is.

Girl with Dinosaur

This is what confronts you upon entering the Creation Museum, post ticket purchase.  You see a young woman dressed in simple clothes… right next to a dinosaur. No conflict, just peaceful cohabitation, as was originally intended in God’s plan. Opposite this life-sized display is a movie theater, complete with three large screens and little things to spray water on the viewers, and the single video shown there playfully conjures up stereotypes of high school science teachers to illustrate that scientific theory of evolution and the explanation of the universe developing over a period of 12-15 billion years are wrought with fallacies. The video informs the viewer that unquestioning faith in Biblical history provides a more accurate picture of the universe. This is known as Young-Earth Creationism, which claims the universe began in 4004 BC.

Adam and Eve

This display looks impressive as is, but what’s missing from my photo is the life-size dinosaur looming just behind Adam. Eve is nonplussed by this in her wonderment at her sudden creation and the first sight of her husband. The museum asserts that humanity began with just these two people. Later, a display asks what is already on everyone’s mind: “What about incest? Who did Cain marry?” The plaque answers that incest at that time was not against God’s will – it was only later that he instituted that law.  Thank you Bible science!

Today Man Decides Whatever

This appears fairly early in the museum. It is located in a room that contains several videos of young people in difficult situations. In one, a young woman calls a pregnancy hotline because she is debating an abortion. In another, a teenage boy appears to be viewing internet porn and rolling a joint against the wishes of a friend. No commentary for these videos was provided, but the comments from a group of young boys watching the latter video were interesting enough. The boys were dragged to the museum against their will, as many child museum-goers are, and they used several homophobic and similarly offensive terms to describe the on-screen males.

Dinosaur History

An exhibit near the end of the museum was dedicated specifically to dinosaurs. It asked, “Did humans and dinosaurs coexist at the same time?” The display indicated the answer is clearly described in the Bible: humans and animals were created on the same day, therefore yes. This picture shows additional proof. My favorite evidence is that medieval stories of dragons, such as the story of St. George, are really stories about the last few remaining dinosaurs. A ten-minute video clarified this in greater detail. The other three items of evidence are, on closer inspection, essentially pseudoscience or just invalid, such as that alligators are simply “modern day dinosaurs.”

Cosmic Pain

Based on the smirks and giggles, I suspect that I was not the only non-believer in the museum. This picture, in front of an actual museum placard, accurately depicts just how affected I was by my Creation Museum visit. I can only wonder if my surprisingly numerous fellow attendees responded like me or if they are true believers.

Non-Traditional Opposite-Sex Couples Assault Marriage in PA

Pennsylvania court clerks are tired of issuing marriage licenses to opposite-sex couples who aren’t orthodox Christians.

Quakers, the non-religious, and Muslims have been targeted by righteous county court clerks upset by non-(traditional)-Christians exercising their rights.

They have also complained about US citizens daring to marry non-citizens.

To fight back against this brazen assault on marriage and Jesus, some of Christ’s warriors and marriage gatekeepers in PA have started demanding Social Security numbers (which they know immigrants don’t have and which law doesn’t require), photo ID (which they know some Muslims won’t have), made “self-uniting” (i.e. minister free) marriages more difficult to obtain, and warned some couples that their choice of minister may not be “religious enough to count”.

Feel our pain, straights! FEEL IT!


UPDATE 3/21/09: I feel that I have more to say on this post, because the bit above doesn’t get to the main point I wanted to make. Which is that everyone’s rights are linked – we can’t stand by and watch one group be denied their rights without allowing our own rights to be threatened. The Christianists who fight to deny marriage rights to LGBT people are the same ones who now would like to push that battle further and deny certain “unfit” straight couples marriage rights. Straights who stand by and act all ho-hum, who think to themselves that asking for gay marriage is “too much” or who assume this is “not my battle” are putting themselves and their own rights at risk by their inaction.

Those who fight to deny rights to one group will probably find cause to fight to deny rights to another. If we don’t resist human rights abuses against any given marginalized group, we can’t really go complaining when our own rights get stepped on… we set a precedent.

In a weird tangential way, my ruminations on this subject reminded me of that old poem by the awesome priest Martin Niemoller. In a much more dramatic sense, he is talking about the same concept.

Do People Who Hate Gays Love Porn?

Got this from Box Turtle Bulletin. Go ahead and read the rest of their post on internet porn usage by state and religiosity. They have lots of charts and pretty maps.

…In the 27 states where “defense of marriage” amendments have been adopted (making same-sex marriage, and/or civil unions unconstitutional), … there were 0.2 more subscribers to this adult web site per thousand broadband households, 11 percent more than in other states.

…In states where more people agree that “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God” and “I never doubt the existence of God,” there are more subscriptions to this service. Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where more people agree that “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” and “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

* States where the majority agreed with the statement, “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,” bought 3.60 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed.
* States where the majority agreed with the statement, “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior,” bought 3.56 more subscriptions per thousand people.
* States where the majority agreed with the statement, “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God” bought 2.74 more subscriptions per thousand people.
* States where the majority agreed with the statement, “I never doubt the existence of God” also bought 2.74 more subscriptions per thousand people.

Nothing like that old time hypocrisy…

Headline Choices

What’s the difference between these murder headlines:

Immigrant Murders Woman

Muslim Murders Wife

Transgender Woman Murders Husband

And these ones:

Wife Murdered

Man Murders Young Actor

Woman Arrested in Murder of Area Woman

All of these murders took place in the UK or the US. In the second group of headlines, all of the perps or accused perps are white, cisgendered US/UK citizens.

So why do editors decide not to mention the race, religion or trans status of white murders in headlines? Why do they deliberately include that information only for people with some sort of minority status (immigrant, black or brown, trans, Muslim, etc.)? Does it make the story more “sensational”? If so, why? If not, than for what other possible reason would they include that information?

The effect of emphasizing what makes minority murderers different, not like us, while declining to emphasize the identities of white, Christian, straight, non-immigrant murderers, (who are more like “us” i.e. the majority), is to make it appear to the general media-consuming public that these minorities are more likely to commit crime, and/or that their minority status has something to do with the murder.

What would happen if every time a white person murdered, their race, religion, citizenship status, and trans-status were included in the headlines? Let’s try it out.

Straight White Man Murders Wife

Christian Citizen Murders Woman

Cisgendered White Woman Murders Husband

White Christian Man Murdered Wife

Straight Citizen Murdered Young Actor

Cisgendered Christian Woman Arrested in Murder of Area Woman

Interesting effect, isn’t it?

Christians, Oppressed by Kosher Salt, Take Action

No joke.

Retired barber Joe Godlewski says that when television chefs recommended kosher salt in recipes, he wondered, “What the heck’s the matter with Christian salt?”

By next week, his trademarked Blessed Christians Salt will be available from seasonings manufacturer Ingredients Corporation of America. It’s sea salt that’s been blessed by an Episcopal priest.

May I suggest that perhaps this is a prime example of a (North American) Christian tendency to mimic the role of “oppressed minority” when Christianity is actually the largest religion in the world?

I am just going to say it. Christians are not oppressed for being Christian in the Western world. Nor are they a minority in such countries as the US. Someone once told me that their conservative friends were worried that oppression against Christians was going to increase with Obama as president. I wondered: How, exactly? OBAMA IS A CHRISTIAN! 76-84% of America’s population is Christian. Who is doing this “oppression”? Or maybe the proper question is: what definition of “oppression” are Christians using?

Here’s a video discussing how some Christians have appropriated the terms of real oppression to paint people who disagree with their viewpoints as Oppressors.

If you feel self-punishing enough to visit the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission’s website, you will find a treasure trove of attempts at painting Christians as an oppressed minority. In order to do this, the CADC is not above painting Christians who don’t buy this paradigm as “not really Christian.”

Continue reading

White House to Reverse Theocratic Bush-Era Regulation

h/t to commentor, ahem, Bubbabutt.

CNN reports:

The Obama administration plans to reverse a regulation from late in the Bush administration allowing health-care workers to refuse to provide services based on moral objections, an official said Friday.

…Under the [Bush] rule, workers in health-care settings — from doctors to janitors — can refuse to provide services, information or advice to patients on subjects such as contraception, family planning, blood transfusions and even vaccine counseling if they are morally against it.

An unnamed Health Dept official said, “[W]e do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place.”

I contemplated all the reasons that the Bush Administration’s rule would be terrible for women and gays and quoted ACOG and AMA objections to it.

I am so happy to hear that the Obama Administration is going to do away with this unnecessary and theocratic regulation. As the American College of Gynocologists states, “Although respect for conscience is important, conscientious refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients [or] negatively affect a patient’s health.”

Promiscuous Women Should Be Punished with HIV+ Babies

SchultheisRepublican Colorado State Senators are really working hard to outstrip Utah State Senator Chris Buttars on the mind-boggling ignorant bigotry.

Colorado State Senator Dave Schultheis had some choice words about a bill that would require HIV testing for pregnant women. Obviously, he is against this bill.

The Colorado Independent reports:

Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.”

Listen to some of his words here.

He went on to say: “What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”

This is a state senator who believes that expectant mothers should not be tested for an incurable disease that could effect their child for life, because it is his opinion that HIV is contracted through “promiscuity” and therefore an HIV+ baby is the proper punishment for such a woman.

Let’s leave aside Schultheis’ obviously problematic belief that HIV is the result of promiscuity. Let’s think about the baby here. Schultheis is a Republican with warped beliefs about sex, so I’d say it’s a good bet that he is familiar with the “Culture of Life” bullshit and the anti-abortion movement. Purportedly, people who are fans of these movements care about the baybeez. Per usual, when it comes down to protecting children or shaming sluts, it appears that Schultheis would rather see babies born with HIV than allow a slut to get away with her slutty ways without being punished with a terminally ill child. An inspiring ideology, really.

But Wait! That’s not all that’s going down in Colorado! Oh no, it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective.) Continue reading

Private Schools Can Expel Students Who Seem Gay-ish

Lutheran High School in California expelled two teen girls for “a bond of intimacy” they deemed “characteristic of a lesbian relationship” and “conducting themselves in a manner consistent with being lesbians.”

When the 16-year-olds sued, the 4th District Court of Appeal in California unanimously sided with the school.

From the LA Times:

In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school was not a business and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating.

…John McKay, who represented the Riverside County-based California Lutheran High School, said the ruling correctly acknowledged that the school’s purpose was to “teach Christian values in a Christian setting pursuant to a Christian code of conduct.”

The girls never actually revealed whether they are lesbians or not. All that is now necessary is a suspicion of gayness for a private school to legally kick a student out. Myspace pictures of the girls hugging and the report of one student who had heard that one girl “loved” the other were the pieces of evidence that inspired suspicions in their principal’s mind.

So now will students have to scramble to prove their straightness in order to prevent expulsion? What about schools ran by religious groups who discriminate based on race, like fundamentalist Mormonism? Could they expel or deny admittance to black students under this ruling? Or is sexual orientation the only class for which the government will sanction a special right to religious discrimination?

Lawyer McKay’s “Christian code of conduct” quote makes me want to barf.

Homophobia Cross

Macho Christ

Mars Hill

The New York Times has a big story on the Mars Hill church in Seattle, led by fiery hipster pastor Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is a born-again evangelical who got way into Calvinism. Apparently, he has struck upon a method to draw crowds of nontraditional Christians in secular Seattle: by painting an image of a Macho Christ!

New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

…God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

…Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.”

How cutting-edge! A Christian leader who mocks women and gay people. I love how Driscoll puts down other brands of Christianity by hinting that they are effeminate and queer. Nice one! *High fives Driscoll*

What does this remind me of? Oh yeah, the taunts of a schoolyard bully.

The only reason I can see that the NYT is painting this as something “new” is that the church attendees have tattoos and dyed hair. Or did I miss something profound?

Season’s Greetings from Fred Phelps!

Fred Phelp's Christmas Message

If that wasn’t enough, how about the Phelps clan caroling?

Learn more about the religion kerfuffle going down at the Washington State capitol because the WA government decided to allow religious decoration on government property.  You can’t make this stuff up!  I have an idea, how about not using government grounds to promote religion?

If you are unfamiliar with the Phelps clan and their fabulously kooky adventures, Wikipedia can educate you about Fred, the founder, and their HQ, Westboro Baptist Church. “The church at Westboro which he leads has 71 confirmed members, 60 of whom are related to Phelps through blood or marriage or both.” The Phelps people have their own website, but I do not link to sites of that nature.

Image h/t: Mom’s Tinfoil Hat

Bush: One More Way to Screw Women? Do It!

President Bush is physically and mentally incapable of passing on a chance to screw somebody over.  Doing so in the waning months of his presidency through “Midnight Regulations” is like an early Christmas for him.

Take, for example, the proposed rule “Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices In Violation of Federal Law.”

Well, that sounds innocuous.  No one likes coercion or discrimination!

But what should this rule turn out to be, than a vehicle to allow certain Christians the right to refuse reproductive health services to women in any and every conceivable scenario?

Funny, the title of the rule doesn’t mention this.  The description fails to clearly identify the groups whose rights are being expanded, and the groups whose rights are shrinking.  And… there are already several federal laws in place protecting “conscientious objectors” from being coerced into performing medical services they deem unethical or immoral, including the Church Amendments, section 245 of the Public Health Services Act and the Wheldon Amendment.

Why would we need another regulation to do the same thing?  That’s were this proposed rule gets interesting.  From the text of the rule: “There appears to be an attitude toward the health care professions that health care professionals and institutions should be required to provide or assist in the provision of medicine or procedures to which they object, or else risk being subjected to discrimination.”  “Appears to be”?  What is that?  Somebody’s casual observation or anecdotal knowledge of an “attitude” they don’t like is enough to require presidential action?  That sounds… odd.

“In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care field that is intolerant of individual conscience, certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions.”  Uh huh, suddenly we care about “ethnic traditions” and diversity in the health care field.  Right.  We all know the crap that’s about to follow is going to actually be about protecting a certain segment of the Christian community.  Anything else is incidental.

Oddly, though the precedents cited in the proposed rule are all related to abortion and sterilization, this rule doesn’t actually specify that it only applies to these things.  Instead, “…we propose that the term “health service program” should be understood to include an activity related in any way to providing medicine, health care, or any other service related to health or wellness…”

And this ain’t just about doctors: “…the Department proposes to include participation in any activity with a reasonable connection to the objectionable procedure, including referrals, training, and other arrangements for offending procedures.  For example… an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments used in a particular procedure would be considered to assist in the performance of the particular procedure.”

So as you can see, this means that anyone with even the most tenuous connection to a given health service can refuse to perform just about any health service in any situation so long as they say they object to it on religious grounds. And if they object to a certain health service, they will not even be required to refer their patient to someone who can provide the service. It isn’t hard to imagine scenarios where lives could be at stake with these shenanigans.

This ain’t just about abortion any more.  If this rule goes into effect, anybody can object to participating in any part of any health service provision and expect to keep their job.  I wonder if certain groups of people, with members of said group currently in political power, will disproportionately enjoy the effects of this rule?  I wonder if certain groups of people, currently out of favor with those in political power, will disproportionately suffer from this broad “right to refuse”?

“This regulation does not limit patient access to health care, but rather protects any individual health care provider or institution…”  Oh.  Whew, I was worried.

But wait!  From the LA Times:

Last year, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology said a “patient’s well-being must be paramount” when a conflict arises over a medical professional’s beliefs.

In calling for limits on “conscientious refusals,” ACOG cited four recent examples. In Texas, a pharmacist rejected a rape victim’s prescription for emergency contraception. In Virginia, a 42-year-old mother of two became pregnant after being refused emergency contraception. In California, a physician refused to perform artificial insemination for a lesbian couple. (In August, the California Supreme Court ruled that this refusal amounted to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.) And in Nebraska, a 19-year-old with a life-threatening embolism was refused an early abortion at a religiously affiliated hospital.

“Although respect for conscience is important, conscientious refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients [or] negatively affect a patient’s health,” ACOG’s Committee on Ethics said. It also said physicians have a “duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel that they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive services that patients request.”

Well, what does the American Medical Association think? They do tend to favor the interests of doctors.

From the LA Times: “The American Medical Assn. and the American Hospital Assn. in October urged HHS to drop the regulation.”

Ah hah. Now we see exactly where this is going. So we can expect more incidents like those cited above with this proposed rule tipping, nay, slamming the balance between rights of the patient and rights of the medical worker way over to the side of the medical worker. And rather unambiguously, the patients whose rights will be overridden seem to be overwhelmingly female, with a small but significant number of LGBT patients to boot.

I feel like we’re right back at the culture war crap that I was discussing in my series about Demographic Winter. It’s the same shit!

In the lofty language of the proposed rule, it isn’t immediately clear who exactly stands to gain and who stands to lose. But when these concepts start to play out in real life, an undeniable picture forms. Socially conservative Christians want more latitude to discriminate against women and gays in health care and get away with it. So Bush & Co. draw up a broad bill that conceals this very specific agenda at the same time that it supports it.

The WSJ says: “It will take effect 30 days after being issued. That means that if the Bush administration issues the regulation this week, it will become final before Mr. Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, and his administration won’t be able to undo it easily.”

As wonderful commenter Terabithia on Feministing put it:

Its like if I took a job at starbucks and then announced that caffeine is against my religion and I will only take orders for the decaffinated beverages. Instead of telling me I have to do my job or leave, Starbucks would be required to either hire another person to look over my shoulder and do the parts of my job I won’t do, or allow customers to be refused their orders. Only instead of caffeine, replace it with time-sensitive critical medical care.


For more information:
You can find a PDF of the proposed rule at ProPublica
“Broader medical refusal rule may go far beyond abortion” from the LA Times
“The Abortion Wars Get Technical: Women have few rights at all when doctors can legally misinform them or deny service entirely” from Newsweek
“Bush-Era Abortion Rules Face Possible Reversal” from Wall Street Journal
Feministe discussion: “Sorry, ladies, but your vagina conflicts with my morals.”

Obama Knows LGBTs Are with Him Because They Have No Choice

Obama pride

Barack Obama and his campaign are well aware that they are supported by the majority of LGBT people only because no better option exists. Obama has made it clear that he does not support equal rights for the LGBT community, and yet during the presidential campaign gay pride marches had a pro-Obama contingent, and Obama rallies have often been supported by an LGBT-contingent. There is even a special Obama Pride logo, as you can see above.

Because Obama is less discriminatory against gays than his recent rivals or than Bush, he and his people know that it is unlikely queers will stop supporting him any time soon. This leads to a situation where LGBT Obama supporters can be exploited, and Obama is not above taking advantage of this opportunity.

He already has. During his campaign he toured with the openly homophobic, ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin. McClurkin used the platform Obama gave him to preach his bigotry to crowds of African Americans who were fans of his music. LGBT Obama supporters were outraged, but it didn’t matter. The Obama campaign knew they wouldn’t switch over to McCain.

Now he’s doing it again. In a second slap to the LGBT community, to let them know their place, he has chosen openly homophobic evangelical preacher Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

I understand being inclusive of the evangelical community. It’s important to be just as inclusive of them as it is for the LGBT community. I get that he is trying to be bi-partisan, to signal to Christian fundies that they will not be left out in the cold. All that is great.

But choosing someone who publicly advocates limiting the rights of an entire demographic of the American people? That is an insult I won’t soon forget.

Some neat information about Mr. Warren is up at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Say it. SAY IT!

Chris Buttars
Sen. Buttars

If we lived in a dictatorship, we would have a lot more kooky resolutions like this one.

Mormon Utah Senator Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan) wants to pass a resolution mandating that Utah businesses wish their customers “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings,” or, I’m assuming by extension “Happy Hanukkah” or “Eid Mubarak.”

From the Deseret News:

Buttars, who has taken on a number of controversial issues in the Legislature over the years including teaching creationism in public schools, said the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday because the United States is a Christian nation.

“We started that way and we still are,” the senator said.

He said although the language of the resolution has not yet been drafted, he wants to leave it up to retailers how they express their support for Christmas, whether in advertising, store decorations or employee greetings.

There’s a lot of material here for comment, but most of my comments are probably pretty obvious. Like, where is it written that we are a Christian nation? Many of the founding fathers weren’t even Christian, for chrissake.

And creationism? Well, that speaks volumes in and of itself.

Mandating private business to express support for a certain holiday, which Buttars himself describes as ‘Christian’? Wow, that sounds problematic. Of course, this is a resolution, not a law, but really?

On Dec.2 my man Keith Olbermann named Chris Buttars ‘Worst Person in the World.’ You call it like you see it, Keith.

The Endearing Foibles of Kooky Religionists

Slow news day? Not anymore! Today’s news round-up focuses on the endearing foibles of kooky Christians. Not to be mistaken for reasonable Christians, who greatly outnumber the kooks.

Fundamentalists Become Aware of the Existence of Other Religions, to Their Consternation

The actions of a Tennessee hotel have brought the existence of religions besides fundamentalist Christianity to the attention of Christian fundamentalists, and they are not pleased.

Hotel Preston offers guests a variety of religious texts to read during their stay, including two versions of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an, the Torah, the Tao Te Ching, The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and the Bhagavad Gita.

Instead of praise for acknowledging that many of their guests of faith are not Christian, Hotel Preston has received particularly harsh criticism for refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of one religion.

It has also been not-so-subtly suggested that they are ruining the world by offering believers of other religions the ability to read their own religious texts during their stays.

“The absence of Gideons Bibles from an increasing number of hotel rooms tells us something about the secularization, sexualization, and extreme sensitivities of our age,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, commented in his blog about hotels removing Bibles and adding other amenities.

Acknowledging and respecting the religions of non-Christians is making the world more sexual? Well, I’ll be. And let me say that I have my own opinion about who has “extreme sensitivities,” and it isn’t the Hindus.

Church Explodes: What Do You Think God Is Trying to Say Here?

Fill in the blank:

God sent Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans because it is a sin-loving city full of gambling and gays.

God kills US soldiers in Iraq because of America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

God blows up church in Wisconsin because _____________________________ .

I’m not sure what goes in the blank yet, but locals have some interesting thoughts:

“People say miracles don’t happen now days. I firmly believe they do, because one just did, at least in my life,” Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Leidel said.
Deputy Chief Leidel says he has reflected on what happened a lot in the two days since the blast, and he feels incredibly blessed.

Confused? So was I. It seems that Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Leidel feels the miracle isn’t that the church blew up, but that it didn’t kill him when it blew up.

Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Leidel, you silly, confused bastard, we all know that when something gets fucked up, it’s because God is angry at sinners! Most likely loose women and gays! I think congregants of the former Oconomowoc First Baptist Church need to do a little self-reflection to identify why God would blow up their church, and not, say, the Methodist one down the street. Good luck, guys. And God bless. Or not.

In Chile, Traditionally Women’s Spirituality Can Be Found in a Dirty Diaper

[In the late 70s] Pinochet blamed regional underdevelopment on under population (a result of the fertility regulation campaigns of the 1960s), and called to educate women about their “maternal mission.”“The spirituality of this mission is in the act of serving; in the humble function of the kitchen, of the woman who changes her child’s diaper,” he declared.

As part of this effort to encourage female “spirituality” (which, apparently, could be found in a child’s diaper), women seeking contraception were turned away at public clinics. Clinicians were even authorized to remove intrauterine devices (IUDs) without patient consent. Many women heard friends’ stories of IUD removal and became reluctant to visit public health clinics for any reason whatsoever, fearful that they would suffer the same fate and become pregnant with a child they could not support.

Pinochet’s “pro-natalist” plan was reversed six years later, after policymakers remembered why family planning had been introduced to Chile in the first place.

Sooooo…. Chile’s constitutional court just banned emergency contraception in government health clinics! Whoo-yeah. This very Catholic country that somehow elected an atheist single-mother as president has finally seen enough. They have seen enough of President Bachelet’s extending of reproductive rights to Chile’s women. And they are tired of it. Tired of empowered women, tired of lowered abortion rates, tired of plummeting maternal mortality. How can women live out their maternal mission, let alone be spiritual people, if they are not changing the diapers of a quick procession of unwanted infants?

Answer: They can’t. And now Chile’s court has taken the country an important step forward to ensure that more women become pregnant as a result of rape or failed birth control.

© idyllicmollusk 4/9/08


Have you ever found yourself in a situation resembling the following?

· You are a christian student and notice that there is an active atheist club on campus.

· You are white and see that there is a hip new bar in town catering to African-Americans.

· You were born in the U.S., but see a cool new social networking organization for young Vietnamese immigrants pop up in your area.

· You are a man and notice that there are now several vocal women’s safety organizations in your town.

· You are straight and you have become aware of a vibrant and edgy queer art scene in a neighborhood near you.

If you can identify with any of these scenarios, you are just one of many. Many people in society become aware of the interesting goings-on in marginalized or oppressed communities, and are naturally curious.

If your curiosity leads to a desire to find out more, you can turn into one of two people:

1. An awesome supporter and ally of a different community


2. A shitty co-opter who uses affiliation with a marginalized community to look “cool”.


To be a supporter and ally:

Before attending a community’s event, try to find out if outsiders are even welcome.

Be prepared to learn, not to teach.

See how you can “bring something to the table” through promoting, donating, volunteering or working to end oppression experienced by the community.

Be thankful for the opportunity for an inside look at the community.

Keep your mouth shut- spend your time listening.

If members of an oppressed community decide to share information with you about how they experience discrimination, be supportive and affirm their feelings.

Make it clear that though you haven’t had the same experiences, you still value their perspectives.

Be open to experiencing things that will change the way you perceive larger society.

Be ready to work out differences.

To be a shitty co-opter:

Assume that outsiders are always wanted and welcome.

Tell members of the marginalized community what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

Steal ideas, style and strategies without offering anything in return.

Act like the community should be grateful simply for your presence.

Take up all the space by insisting on constantly being the center of attention.

Deny that members of marginalized communities experience discrimination or oppression, and tell them they are wrong to feel that way.

Pretend that you can fully understand all aspects of the situation of someone from an oppressed community.

Refuse to legitimately try to understand the perspective of the community in question.

Claim a the community’s identity as your own.

It’s about space. Co-opters actually hurt and further oppress the communities that they prey on by invading their space, whereas allies help them thrive. People who stand in a privileged position in society may learn to expect that they have a right to access any and all community space. They may also come to think that they know what’s best for communities that experience oppression. It is easy to feel this way when you are accustomed to society catering to your demographic’s needs, especially if you are white, male, christian, straight, or US-born, etc. Please be aware that people who do not share these characteristics with you have had very, very different experiences with our society. This is not a reason to distance yourself from marginalized or oppressed communities, but to instead practice being an effective ally.

© 3/31/08 idyllicmollusk