Archive for category Religious Fundamentalism
Protest against Saudi air strikes, March 26 in Sanaa
The news from Yemen is that a humanitarian disaster is rapidly overtaking the Arab world’s poorest country, which the USA helped to destabilize with drone strikes against Islamic militants. The Saudis are poised to finish the job, committing war crimes with U.S. – made weapon systems.
“It is a terrible situation and it is moving so fast,” Julien Harneis, the Yemen representative of the United Nations Children Fund, told The Associated Press. “We are heading toward a humanitarian disaster.”
…In the southern city of Aden, medical supplies are running out. Doctors Without Borders, which operates in the city, said it has received over 500 wounded, including more than 110 on the first day of airstrikes. UNICEF is giving out midwife kits to treat injured civilians because of lack of supplies.
…In al-Houta, a city north of Aden, people are fleeing fighting to nearby villages for safety and to find goods and produce, said 28-year old resident Ahmed Rageh. The local gas station has been closed for nearly three weeks. “It is a disastrous situation. Somalia is now in a better shape than us,” he said.
It’s heartbreaking to see catastrophe overtake a beautiful country with such a rich history and friendly people. I lived there for two years in the early 1990s, traveled to visit ancient ruins and poor but architecturally fascinating villages. There was virtually no crime. But many problems were waiting to surface, particularly the disenfranchisement of Shiites and the uneasy relationship with Saudi Arabia – which has invaded Yemen in the past.
The blogosphere has been chuckling – okay laughing uproariously – at Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association. Fischer, you see, recently declared “proof” that America is a Christian nation because . . . bacon.
“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation?” he asked. “One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.” “So the sheer fact that we freely allow the sale and consumption of bacon,” he continued, “is absolute proof that we are, in fact, a Christian nation”
The part that fascinates me is that Fischer offered this bon mot as if it were an actual argument. I can’t help but wonder – are there conservative Christians out there for whom this argument is persuasive?
The revelation that a home for unwed mothers and their children was home to an unmarked grave holding the remains of 800 infants and children.
The registrar came back with a list of 796 children. “I could not believe it. I was dumbfounded and deeply upset,” says Corless. “There and then I said this isn’t right. There’s nothing on the ground there to mark the grave, there’s nothing to say it’s a massive children’s graveyard. It’s laid abandoned like that since it was closed in 1961.”
It very often seems that whenever conservative Republicans talk about women and anything to do with sexuality, they manage to be oafish and offensive. Mike Huckabee gives us our latest entrant into the hall of shame.
In an effort to defend Huckabee, the folks at the American Family Association added context, because the missing context was the problem, right?
Huckabee’s statement didn’t start off that bad:
“Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them; it’s a war for them.”
So far so good, right? But then his next sentence was:
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”
There is no coherent connection between the two ideas – how do you move from “women are capable” to “they can’t control their libidos”?
Now, as Paul Waldman pointed out:
Huckabee’s position is that saying “Democrats are treating women like dirty sluts by saying they should have access to birth control!” is very, very different from just saying women are dirty sluts. He feels he’s been falsely accused of saying the latter, when he was really just saying the former. I’m sure that he thinks that if women just understood the full context of his statement, they’d realize he respects and honors them. What he doesn’t get is that women actually want and need contraception, and 99 percent of women who have had sex have used some form of contraception at some point in their lives. So when he tells them that contraception is for sluts, what they hear isn’t “Because I care for you, I don’t want you to become a slut,” what they hear is, “You’re a slut.”
Waldman’s insight only takes us so far, though. Huckabee’s statement sets up two opposite positions – birth control and self control. In his statement, Huckabee assumes the need for birth control is caused by lack of self control. He is saying that only sluts who can’t conrol themselves need birth control. And since 99% of American woman use birth control, he’s saying almost every American woman is a slut.
There’s not a positive spin on that statement.
Are conservative Christians harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws? It’s a more complex question than it appears at first blush.
I’m glad I don’t have to adjudicate any of these cases. Like people who want to ban books, conservative Christians who raise objections to non-discrimination laws as they apply to glbt persons are acting from a place of good intent, even if I disagree with their conclusions. Book banners want to protect children from ideas they believe children aren’t ready to deal with; conservative Christians who object to complying with nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious freedom perceive themselves as the aggrieved party being asked to violate their conscience.
US law has long recognized the right of individuals to request exemptions from certain laws and practices based on questions of conscience and religious faith. As I understand it, Quakers are not exempt military service, they are however exempt from participating as combatants. A number of years ago, I helped a friend draft a statment requesting status as a conscientious objector and be granted exemption from combat duty (he was a veteran and member of the reserves at the time). His statement was lengthy, thoughtful and carefully written; he was granted conscientious objector status and ultimately was not recalled to active duty.
US law has, also, long recognzied the right of individuals to be free from discrimination in the public square, which includes small businesses which are public accommodations. Businesses are public accommodations, which means they are subject to generally applicable laws and those signs that many small businesses post that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” should have a huge asterisk that qualifies that statement. You can’t legally refuse to serve someone because of their race, gender, religion, national origin and so on. Increasingly, that list includes real or perceived sexual orientation. To put it in simple terms, business owners have to make business decisions for business reasons not from animus toward a group of persons.
As more US cities, counties and states adopt nondiscrimination laws covering sexual and gender minorities, and as more states legalize same-sex marriage, I believe there are going to be more cases like that of Elane Photography and Masterpiece Cakeshop, in which small business owners seek exemption from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections.
What happened in these cases is instructive. Read the rest of this entry »
The case of the Masterpiece Bakery in Colorado is one of a number of cases in which small business owners refuse to do business with gay couples on the basis of the owner’s religious objections to gay people doing things like getting married and forming long term commitments to one another.
Friday’s order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer says Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations.
It started out simply enough:
In July of 2012, the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple who were planning to celebrate with friends and family the marriage they had received in Massachusetts. The couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed a complaint, and the Colorado Attorney General proceeded to do the same, and Friday, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer ruled against Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery.
The ACLU’s argument is very straightforward:
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
In these cases, the courts, businesses and individuals are struggling to distinguish between religious and commercial activity.
The American Prospect has a lengthy and somewhat scary article about homeschooling. Much of it is quotable and it’s a fascinating look inside America’s Christian subculture.
As of October, Homeschoolers Anonymous had published nearly 200 personal accounts and attracted more than 600,000 page views. For those outside the homeschooling movement, and for many inside it, the stories are revelatory and often shocking. The milder ones detail the haphazard education received from parents who, with little state oversight, prioritize obedience and religious training over learning. Some focus on women living under strict patriarchal regimes. Others chronicle appalling abuse that lasted for years.
It’s well worth a read.