Nel's New Day

February 12, 2017

People Use Religion to Disrespect Women’s Rights

Yesterday’s marches against Planned Parenthood again ignored that federal money doesn’t go to abortions whereas the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people around the world—many of them innocent—and conservatives are determined to kill people through air and water pollution. These pro-life people are willing to kill anyone except what they consider the “unborn” and abuse children after they are born. Yet they use the bible as their justification for a woman’s choice regarding her own body because conservatives believe women aren’t smart enough to make the right choice for themselves.

A few facts from their bible:

God defined a potion for abortion potion: “May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”—Numbers 5:22-27

God fines the killing of a fetus but puts to death the person killing a woman: “And if men strive together, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit [children] come out, and yet no harm follows; the one who hit her shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose upon him; and he shall pay a fine as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth ….” —Exodus 21:22-23

God defines a person through the ability to breathe: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

The bible’s opinion of women:

A wife is man’s property: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” —Exodus 20:17

Girl babies are twice as unclean as boys: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days …. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks. —Leviticus 12:1-8

Women should keep silent:  “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” —1 Cor. 14:34

A raped daughter must be sold to her rapist: ““If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” —Deut. 22:28-29

Women must cover their hair—like the Muslim hijab: “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” —I Cor. 11:6

Women should be forced to have children: “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”—1 Tim. 2:15

Women make men dirty: “[Those redeemed from the earth] are those who did not defile themselves with women.” —Revelation 14:4

Opinions from revered church leaders:

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. …” –Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

“[Women’s] very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. … Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband…. For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior.” –John Dod: A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603

“A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” – Official Faith and Message Statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998, (15.7 million members)

“The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.” –James Fowler: Women in the Church, 1999.

People who use the bible—“God’s word”—to justify their treatment of people, including eliminating reproductive rights for women,  often also say that no one should take the words in the bible literally. According to Matthew 13:13:

“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

People who try to limit others by quoting the bible should follow their own advice and not bully others with their personal religion.

Fortunately, many people in the United States agree with this position. Counter-protests yesterday were much larger than the anti-abortion activists outside Planned Parenthood to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood. Those attending the rallies talked about how much Planned Parenthood does for health—birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, counseling, etc. Medicaid funds pay for these health services for both men and women. Last month, Donald Trump banned U.S. funding to any international group that even provides information about abortions. Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood would cause 400,000 women to lose access to health care.

Oregon senators, in support of women, are working on a bill to require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive health care services. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB 2232, would cover all services under the current Affordable Care Act as well as abortion. The bill goes to the House first to address questions and clarify language. At this time, the measure has an exemption that protects religious beliefs.

Illinois advocates are supporting HB 40 to guarantee reproductive care services, including abortion, for all enrolled in Medicaid, something available only in 17 other states.

New Mexico lawmakers have introduced three bills to improve reproductive health access and rights: preserve birth control access, allow women to obtain one year of contraceptive medication at a time, penalize medical providers who refuse reproductive health services, and mandate “reasonable accommodations: for pregnant women in the workplace. Hospitals would not be permitted to “limit or otherwise interfere” with a doctor’s “independent professional judgment” in providing reproductive health information, referrals, and procedures “where a failure to provide” them “would violate the medical standard of care owed to the patient.”

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that protects abortion rights as outlined in Roe v. Wade.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a bill prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive decisions or pregnancy with a limited exemption for religious institutions but not for business owners who use religion to object.

Respect for women means respecting our rights–all of them.

January 13, 2014

Lack of Gun Control: Arguments Don’t Hold Water

The proliferation of hate speech on the Internet may not touch most of us, but sometimes an article comes into my email that strikes a strong chord in my sense of outrage and fear. Such was the case regarding Ross Douthat’s opinion piece last week about journalist Amanda Hess and the horrifying Internet abuse that she faces because she is a woman who speaks out on the web.

As Douthat wrote, “The anecdotes, her own and others, range from the offensive to the terrifying, but there’s also a thudding, soul-crushing sameness to them: graphic threats of sexual violence, rape and murder, intertwining and repeating.” He was referring to Hess’ article in the Pacific Standard about technological stalkers and the law enforcement response that she should just stay off Twitter, a form of communication that she uses for her job.

Equally disturbing was Hess’ description about the people who regularly and anonymously violate others through the Internet. One of these, calling himself “Violentacrez,” was “infamous for posting creepy photographs of underage women and creating or moderating subcommunities on [Reddit] with names like ‘chokeabitch’ and ‘rapebait.’”  In 2012 Gawker revealed that the man is Michael Brusch, a Texas computer programmer, who said, “I do my job, go home, watch TV, and go on the Internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time. People take things way too seriously around here.”

Perhaps I was feeling more vulnerable and sensitive to the issue because of meeting I attended last Saturday. The purpose of the meeting was to support common-sense gun legislation in Oregon, in this case a law requiring universal background checks for all people purchasing guns. Seven people who attended the meeting were highly vocal about blocking any legislation. They used the following talking points against having these background checks:

  • Gun violence isn’t all that bad in Oregon, only 416 people killed last year. [To me, 416 dead people is 416 too many, and we don’t know if that’s the correct number because the NRA control of Congress prevents any statistics about gun deaths.]
  • “I know all my neighbors, and I know that they are all good people.” [We all want to think that we are good judges of character although I know I’m not. A person who I thought I would trust with my life turned out to be a sociopath who was just using me.]
  • Gun violence is really worse in other countries because they lie about their statistics. [There’s absolutely no way to convince anyone believing this that he is wrong.]
  • Universal background checks don’t do any good because criminals won’t follow the law. [I said that under this reasoning he would not want any laws because criminals wouldn’t obey them; he responded that this was a ridiculous statement.]
  • The only solution is to put more guns in the hands of more good people. [More and more guns are being sold in the United States, and that doesn’t seem to be working out.]
  • Background checks won’t do any good in one state because surrounding states won’t have them. [That’s the best argument for federal universal background checks!]

The strongest arguments came from people who indicated that they had been in the military. The last 12 years have deified the military system in a manner that increases sexism and racism by stressing the superiority of some people over others, both within the military and in the wars that George W. Bush sent people off to fight. The result of this value system is increasing dehumanizing of individuals. The result is only those within an intimate circle—which can mean fellow soldiers—have any importance. Everyone else is to be vanquished at any cost.

Because of the strict hierarchical relationships within the military, all cooperation, equality, and nonviolence are devalued. There must be a winner, and all others—women, ethnic minorities, LGBT, and those of non-Christian religions—are losers.

That’s where the guns come into the picture. There is no military without weapons. Many young people, even those who are not actively part of the military, come to believe that they have the entitlement to own as many guns as they want with no restriction on size or ammunition. They seem to be part of a private club in which people feel they are being attacked for loving their guns.

Restaurateur Bryan Crosswhite (Cajun Experience, Leesburg, VA) is setting up a registry of restaurants where guns are welcomed, complete with a 2AO sticker on the door and a website listing “gun-friendly” eateries.  He personally gives a ten-percent discount on “open carry Wednesdays” for those who have a concealed or open-carry permit.

The Outdoor Channel plans an “expansion of its strategic partnership with the National Rifle Association” and a new “multi-year talent and endorsement agreement” with inflammatory NRA board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent. That means that the Outdoor Channel will become the Gun Channel. President/CEO Jim Libratore said, “Ted Nugent symbolizes everything that is right in our industry and represents our viewers as an outspoken patriot, a skilled outdoorsman, and a devoted family man.” Libratore is elevating Nugent’s racism, sexism, homophobia, immigrant bashing, and Islamophobia as well as his threatening to kill President Obama if he were re-elected to a high moral level.

Florida legislators, not satisfied with waiting until feeling threatened, is pushing a bill allowing people to show a gun and fire a warning shot without a prison sentence.

Part of the growing militarism of the United States gun owners is their desire to take over the country.

Early this month Jim Garrow called for “Operation American Spring” on May 16, an uprising against the president patterned after the Arab Spring uprising. He thinks that the population can take control of the country with just three percent of the people involved. Last fall, Larry Klayman got only 100 people at a rally to overthrow the president.

Everest Wilhelmsen called for assassinating President Obama on a Facebook post. Like the others, he’s obsessed with guns and the Second Amendment. The head of the Christian American Patriots Militia, he claims that the U.S. Constitution gives him the authority to murder President Obama. Last August, a Maine Republican called for deadly violence against the president, and two years ago another conservative did the same thing—both of these also on Facebook.

A current study shows that the number of mass shootings increased from five a year between 2000 and 2008 to 16 a year for the four following years. Although the shooters range in age, 94 percent of them are men and claim an average of two lives. “Mass shooting” is defined in the report as events in which a gunman opens fire in a public place motivated by killing many including at least one who is not “related” to the gunman. Gang violence and crimes in which shooting is a byproduct were not included in the study. A 2010 study predicted an increase in the number of mass shootings; it was right.

Claims that there’s no reason to be afraid of civilians with guns are being disproved. A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that people holding guns are less capable of evaluating threats than if they didn’t have a weapon in their hands. Just seeing a gun affects people adversely; studies since 1967 describe the “weapons effect” in which just the presence of a gun can stimulate aggressive behavior. If people are already aggravated, seeing a gun will ramp up their aggressiveness. Another study watched drivers stuck at an intersection behind a truck that didn’t move after the light turned green. People honked more often if they saw a gun displayed in the truck’s rear window.

A gun is automatically seen as a threat, as shown in the “threat superiority effect.” People have a tendency to see dangerous objects more quickly than other ones. Danger is reflected first by dilating pupils and followed by increase in heart and respiration rates. One woman felt that way when 40 gun activists gathered outside an Arlington (TX) restaurant because Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense were meeting inside. She said, “The only reaction I had was ‘I’m not going out there at all.’ They were all carrying rifles. There was a lot of firepower and a lot of potential for carnage out in that parking lot. Absolutely I was scared.”

Gun activists claim that they want to desensitize people about this fear. They fail to recognize that fear is a useful survival instinct.  Last year Robert Pratt was carrying a shotgun in Plainwell (MI) while walking his dog. Officers tried to persuade him to take his gun back to his house, but Pratt said he was “just exercising rights as a U.S. citizen.” Cassandra Pell, the daughter of one of the officers was Pratt’s girlfriend. Pratt continued to carry his gun, and last June he used the shotgun to kill Cassandra before he committed suicide.

In an attempt to communicate with the gun activists at the meeting, my partner said that she had the right to feel safe and that the lack of universal background checks kept her from feeling safe. One of them told her she had no constitutional right to feel safe. In other words, he’s in control and can tell her what rights she should have. Maybe he just wants to rile people. Or maybe ….

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