Nel's New Day

February 10, 2013

Religion Causes Polarity

What are the religious right folks talking about on Sunday? My favorite sick far-right belief from the last week comes from  Generations Radio host Kevin Swanson, who has explained that “certain doctors and certain scientists” found “these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb… Those wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

Even Kevin Peeples, director of the movie Birth Control: How Did We Get Here? which argues that the only way to be “pro-life” is to be anti-contraception as well as anti-abortion, thinks that there might be another side to all those “little tiny fetuses … embedded into the womb.” Peeples did say in the interview that the problem with birth control is that women “desire the men’s role.”

A brief science lesson about fetal development for both Swanson and Peeples and maybe all those conservatives on the House science committee: an embryo doesn’t become a fetus until the tenth week of gestation. But more than that, menstruation, that periodic cleansing of the uterus (which Swanson calls the “womb”), moves everything out of the woman’s body. Birth control only keeps the egg from being fertilized and implanted. So the uterus is regularly emptied. No “tiny little fetuses” left.

These ideas come from all those people who didn’t take sex education because the religious right prevented it from being taught in public school.

But even if kids go to public school in Texas, they’re going to graduate with the belief that the Earth is 6,000 years old because it’s in the Christian bible.   They’ll also believe that racial backgrounds come from a curse that God placed on Noah’s son and that biblical stories of the sun standing still was proved by astronauts’ discovery of “a day missing in space.” A report from the Texas Freedom Network found that over half the state’s schools teach students to believe in the Bible as “the written word of God.”

A slide show in suburban Houston’s Klein Independent School District (ISD) states, “The Bible is united in content because there is no contradictions [sic] in the writing. The reason for this is because the Bible is written under God’s direction and inspiration.”

Prosper ISD in northern Texas proclaims that “the first time the Lord gathered his people back was after the Babylonian captivity. The second time the Lord will gather his people back will be at the end of the age.”

Some of these Bible classes in Texas public school double as “science” classes. Eastland ISD outside Fort Worth shows videos of a dinosaur footprint on top of “a pristine human footprint.”

A chart in Amarillo ISD identifies the sources of racial and ethnic groups, based on Noah’s three sons:  “Western Europeans” and “Caucasians” descend from Japeth; “African races” and Canaanites from Ham; and “Jews, Semitic people, and Oriental races” from Shem. Students are tested on this information as indicated by the following question: “Shem is the father of a) most Germanic races b) the Jewish people c) all African people.”

The following is found in the preface of one of the textbooks: “May this study be of value to you. May you fully come to believe that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.’ And may you have ‘life in His name.’” Texas uses the 2007 state law permitting “elective courses on the Bible’s Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament” to pass along its revisionist science curriculum.

Eighty years ago in an objection to teaching foreign languages in the public schools, Texas governor Ma Ferguson was quoted as saying,  “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.” The state hasn’t made much progress.

Other beliefs promoted last month by the religious right explained that women are to blame for the country’s problems. As I wrote earlier, Pat Robertson claimed that men are driven to drink by ugly wives. And rape victims are to blame for this crime. India’s prominent Hindu leader guru Asaram Bapu, 71, told his followers that the brutally raped women in New Delhi, who later died, was at fault:

“Had she taken guru diksha and chanted the Saraswati Mantra, she would not have boarded any random bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend. Even if she did, she should have taken God’s name and asked for mercy. She should have called [her rapists] brothers, fallen at their feet and pleaded for mercy. Had she said, ‘I am a weak woman, you are my brothers,’ such brutality would not have happened.”

Two other ways in which women are destroying the nation are the lack of a HIV cure and gun violence. Matt Barber of the legal group Liberty Counsel explained on his radio show that the person who would find the cure for HIV was probably already “slaughtered in the womb” because of legalized abortion. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), fifth-ranking of House Republicans, said children on psychotropic drugs are likely contributing to gun crimes, primarily through greedy welfare moms trying to get more Social Security money:

“Where are we on all those psychiatric drugs? We’ve overmedicated kids. Quite frankly some of the overmedication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits and if they can put them on SSI through maintenance drugs, they can also put them on Social Security disability and get a separate check. That is wrong on every single level. Not only is it fraudulent to the government, but it also tells a kid with great potential, “don’t try because you’re disabled.”

There may be hope, however, after two members of Fred Phelps’ family announced they are leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka (KS). Phelps,83, and his clan are well known for their hate-filled rants against LGBT people, picketing funerals of fallen soldiers with signs saying that they deserved to die because of the sin in the United States. Sisters Megan and Grace, Phelps’ granddaughters, have gone to live with their cousin, Libby Phelps Alvarez, who left in 2009.

A highly visible and active member, 26-year-old Megan had taken care of most of Westboro’s social networking and regularly spoke on a Kansas City radio program. Blogger Jeff Chu wrote about Megan.

For many years, many of the people in the country were not familiar with the Phelps name. But after the group threatened to picket the funerals of victims from the Newtown (CT) massacre in December, a petition to officially designate the Westboro Baptist Church became highly popular. In January, church members failed to appear for demonstrations at four different Pennsylvania churches, and the inauguration Westboro protest had more signs than people.

The intolerance of various religious groups is exemplified by the Lutherans forcing an apology from one of its pastors who participated in an interfaith prayer service in Newtown (CT) immediately following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Rev. Rob Morris, a first-year pastor who lost one of his congregation at Christ the King Lutheran Church in the killing, gave the benediction at the December 16, 2013 service.

The 2.3-million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod prevents joint worship with other religions because it might be seen as an endorsement of faiths that fail to recognize Jesus alone as a savior. After Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the synod, called Morris to apologize, the pastor wrote, “To those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies.” Harrison called on Lutherans to support Morris “especially in providing funding for Christ the King as it continues to care for victims.”

Over eleven years ago, the Missouri Synod suspended Rev. David H. Benke from ministry for participating in a large interfaith prayer service following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. According to Rev. Wallace Schulz, Benke had broken the First Commandment, “I am the Lord thy God,” by worshiping with “pagans,” including Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu clergy members. Benke, who refused to apologize, was permitted to return to ministry two years later.

Top American Family Association official Bryan Fischer supported the Synod’s position, saying that Morris should not have taken part in an “idolatrous” function. According to Fischer,Christians have no right taking part in interfaith prayer services because they offer prayers to “counterfeit gods”  and any Christian who takes part in such functions would be “unequally yoked.”

That’s a reason for our polarity in the “united” states: mourning together is “unequally yoked.”


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