Saturday, August 28, 2004

OP-ED The Bush/Evangelical 'Revolution'

In my last several posts I've talked about various examples of religious encroachment upon matters of state. From the silly stories about the South Dakota Governors' desire to follow his Bishops' dictates regarding the State web site, to the serious abuses of the constitution represented by Bush's' "faith initiatives" programs and the useless moral based Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage farce, that has taken the place of sex health education in America.

An ugly thing is happening in America. The President and his administration are literally buying votes with tax money. One hundred million per annum is pumped into Abstinence-Only programs. Much of that money going into church groups via so called "faith initiatives".

One of the large Abstinence-Only groups, headed by the Governor of Louisiana, was caught funnelling tax dollars directly into church groups. Tax dollars were used to purchase bibles, religious tracks, and other non-educational church supplies. Saving the deacons a lot of expense, no doubt. Nothing came of it, of course. Business as usual among the 'good people', the chosen ones.

Mean while, organizations that have been doing solid educational and anti-AIDS work, for years, are being harassed by constant audits by the CDC and various departments of the CDC. Groups criticizing Bush educational policy are labelled as extremist groups by the CDC. Enemy lists are being kept again.

The Bush administration has presented new regulations that prohibit any group using federal funds, from teaching or promoting anything but what is laid down in Abstinence-Only guidelines.

In exchange for pissing all over the constitution and injecting millions of tax dollars into church groups, Bush has literally bought thousands of pulpits to support him electorally and to support his apparent goal of turning America into a religious police state via his Homeland Security apparatus.

President Bush and his fanatic religious followers are possibly the most serious threat to its constitutional democracy that America has ever faced.

It scares the hell out of me and if it doesn't scare you, you need to do the wake up and smell the garbage thing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

OP-ED Religious/Political Immorality

When I first started this blog I had no intention of dealing with politics. It soon became obvious that one can not deal seriously with sexuality without dealing with damned politics.

What is happening in U.S. schools, in regards to sex education, is a startling example of a retrograde mind set determined to do it all wrong and damn the consequences. Of course, the consequences are borne by Americas youth, not the preachers and political hacks whose interests have nothing in common with the needs of students and education.

That is nothing unusual. That is how politicians usually work. However, the real world price of bringing religion and politics into the class room is too great to ignore.

The ideologically motivated Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs that the Bush administration and its religious political allies are force feeding to American children, has nothing in common with real educational values. It teaches nothing about the complex reality of being a sexual being in the real world.

It is, quite literally, nothing more than Sunday school lessons disguised as education. It has NO place in publicly funded schools. It is a useless, dishonest approach whose results are the very opposite of the stated goals.

It also says much about the so called morality of the fundamentalists who are so eager to fill the minds of our youth with their dangerous fantasies.

Study after study demonstrates that European and Canadian youth, given the benefit of Comprehensive Sex Health Education, delay becoming sexually active longer than their American counter parts, graduates of Abstinence-Only propaganda classes.

Rates of teen pregnancies are lower for young people given the benefit of Comprehensive Sex Ed. Likewise, HIV infections and other STDs are lower among the European and Canadian youth.

That is to say, that teen pregnancies, HIV and STD rates are higher among teens exposed to Abstinence-Only programs. Abstinence_Only graduates become sexually active earlier than educated European and Canadian teens.

The salient point: Teens, given only Abstinence-Only fantasy education, are less likely to use condoms when they become sexually active. Once again, Abstinence-Only students become sexually active earlier than those given real sex education. Put those two facts together and do a wee bit of thinking, if your particular version of god allows thinking.

The only real thing bought with the $100 million per annum spent on these phony programs, are thousands of pulpits, preaching the Republican gospel.

Do American fundies really think their God would be too stupid to understand their real motives? Money and power, power and money, the ultimate 'truth' of this new American political religion.

Politics, money, and temporal power, the obsessions held in common by Christian and Muslim fundamentalists. They deserve each other but the rest of us do not.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Lies and Liars...Just the American Way?

The dangerous lie of Abstinence-Only anti-sex education goes international, as the Bush administration takes it’s ideological dog and pony show to the international AIDS conference, recently held in Bangkok.

From Washington Post:” BANGKOK, July 13 -- The Bush administration's prohibition against using money from its $15 billion global AIDS plan to buy foreign-produced generic drugs is complicating the delivery of medicine to some of the millions of poor people who badly need it, according to AIDS experts at an international conference here.”

In a move that fills the needs of no one but the major US drug manufacturers, the Bush Administrations’ rules for spending the $15 Billion dollars, ear marked for international anti- Aids programs, prohibit spending any American funds on non US generic drugs.

Most countries who support AIDS programs in Africa, India, and Asia, require that the generic drugs used, be vetted by the World Health Organization’s ‘Pre-qualification’ process. The WHO’s pre-qualification process is similar to the FDA tests.

The US refuses to accept this process. Meaning all drugs bought by the programs, run in some of the poorest countries in the world, must be FDA approved. American manufactured drugs cost 100% to 300% more, compared to the cost of generics currently used.

Another destructive stipulation is that 1/3 of the money must be spent on Abstinence-Only programs. The same programs that don’t work in America or anywhere else.
Five billion dollars virtually thrown away on ideologically motivated hocus-pocus.

This comes shortly after the CDC, in the States, decided to curtail HIV prevention programs, in America. In favour of focusing on care for those already ill with the disease.

Forget prevention, just treat the new cases as they appear. No one, NO ONE, gentle reader, but the drug manufacturing companies gain from this irrational policy.

At the same time, federal funds are being withdrawn from any group with a positive view of safer sex initiatives.

And guess who the Administrations’ front man in Bangkok is? Who is defending this destructive policy to the world ? Why none other than Randall L. Tobias, the former chairman and chief executive of the giant drug maker Eli Lilly and Co..

Now do you get it?

Please check out the hyper text linds above. See how Mr. Tobias describes the Abstinence-Only programs being exported from the US. Mr. Tobias' fairy tale version of Abstinence-Only is in the second link, (Tobias Defends policy).

Then, if you will, read this short article which describes the reality of the program as it is actually implemented and enforced in the US.

It is very different from what our American drug Baron is telling the delegates to the world conference.

Lies and liars, the American way. Some things just never change.

My Worst Fears Come True...

This story provides an example of the depths to which the current Administration is willing to stoop to maintain the support of the Christian right.

"Lethal new regulations from President Bush’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans’ goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). "

Two important points are made in this article. 1. Almost all of the many millions of dollars of tax money, ear marked for sex education, is being injected into church groups via Bush's' "faith initiatives"

This money goes into Christian "faith" groups only. None has gone into Jewish or Muslim groups.

This is the ugliest kind of mass vote buying possible. All across the wide breast and anaemic soul of America, thousands of pulpits have been bought for the Republicans. Christian right mouthpieces, around America, are saying this election is not a political campaign but a "spiritual battle" that can be won only by voting Republican.

These are the same people who scream "Separation of Church and State", when anyone wants to tax their ungodly wealth.

2. The changes in the law and funding regs. that inspired the above linked article, will utterly gut all HIV prevention programs that are not part of the religious based Abstinence-Only doctrine.

To receive federal funding, your publications may not mention condoms, except to say that they do not work. To insure these guidelines are enforced, a politically appointed panel will now vet every leaflet, booklet, and every web site produced by any anti-AIDS group or sex education organization, that gets any Federal funding.

An almost humourous side note from same article: "a Minnesota Department of Health study of the state’s five-year, abstinence-only program found last year that sexual activity by students taking the program actually doubled, from 5.8 percent to 12.4 percent."

At the same time: "Even more alarming, a study by Columbia University Department of Sociology chairman Peter Bearman of the sex lives of 12,000 adolescents from 12 to 18 years old over a five-year period found unsafe sex much greater among youth who’d signed pledges to abstain from sex until (heterosexual) marriage."

In plain English, Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs are a dismal failure, yet that failure is now the official American Way.

The article, linked here again, is worth a read.



I used to be a preacher
but I quits the holy ghost.
Caught twixt Lilith
and old JayHova
I liked wine,
That kind of thing the most.

Well, some will
tch tch tch
their tight little lips
and shake they righteous heads
but, it was God his self that invented sex
and put this fire between
our legs.

That’s right!
Your God made the whole damned thing.
Made men and women
(not necessarily in that order)
made sun shine
hormones and

Yes!Yes!Yes! He did.
But, it was people what invented gun powder.
And laws to regulate love
and laws just because
and laws to save the starving
and protect the national cause.

‘til everybody is scared and angry
the dance of death has begun.
Half the world has an empty belly ‘cause we
Spent it All
on guns.

Well, I ain’t seen Jesus lately
But, I saw a demon
just last night.
He was Preaching!
Love and law, up on Granville street
with a face full of cruelty and spite.

I saw a piece of World War Three
Leap out of that Preachers eyes.
and before he was thru
he demonstrated to me
that his True religion was
financial enterprise.

And that’s why I don’t preach no more
or read your big black book.
Caught twixt hell fire and peace keeper missiles
I’m scared shitless to even look.

So Preacher,
you better save your self
climb down off ‘a your cross
Or soon there will be
NoBody left
for you or your gods to boss.

T.McCay 2000-all rights reserved

CELIBACY: Bleeding stigmata of the Church

Ever growing revelations of sexual misconduct by the clergy again raise the question of celibacy within the priesthood. At least among the laity it is an issue, even if the current Pope has decided the celibacy debate is over.

The huge scandal in Boston involving numerous victims, priests, and a Bishop who knowingly protected the accused priests, has served to inspire and energize a lay movement in Boston that has spread far beyond that city.

Read more-Link#1.Globe: Abuse in Church

Three solutions, to the current problems of the Church, proposed by the lay movement are, an end to the rule of celibacy, to give more power to parish members in choosing priests, and the ordination of women.

The incredible sums of hush money paid from parishes, without the knowledge or consent of the lay members, has inspired demands for greater lay involvement in the finances of the parish and the Diocese. It would seem that the people in the pews want to shine some light on the men behind the alters. That should’t bother anyone. After all, they’re priests. What could they have to hide?

Next: Thousands of Married Priests, a Rent-A-Priest group that is serious, and I will predict who the Church will blame and punish in response to the outrage over corrupt priests.

CELIBACY. Part 2 Married Priests & the Gay Conspiracy

The Catholic priesthood is shrinking faster than a wet wool sweater in a micro wave oven. Recruitment is at an all time low, even in Ireland, that historically fecund producer of priests and nuns.

In the last twenty five years, 20,000 American priests have given up the collar in favour of married life. Parishes are being closed or operating without a regular pastor because of the lack of priests. Mean while, the laity continues to grow.

Literally nine in ten priests who leave orders do so because of conflicts with the celibacy rule. The shortage of priests is so severe, some priests now travel circuits, performing the sacraments in a different parish every week.

Enter “RENT A PRIEST” a concept whose time, believe it or not, has come. RENT A PRIEST is an organization of married priests who still practise their vocations. Their web site is linked above. A married priest can administer the sacraments and perform mass, if invited to do so by members of the parish.

In many places in South America, married priests are running churches without interference from the ruling Bishops. The laity seems to have no problem with the idea of married priests. In fact, the laity seems to prefer them. I suppose it’s a trust issue.

RENT A PRIEST believes that celibacy is the primary issue behind the shrinking priesthood and the sex scandals that have done so much damage to the Church.

But, Papal authority, in its’ infallible wisdom, counters with weak biblical arguments for the celibate priesthood and refuses to listen to its’ troubled laity. Nothing new there.

What is new is the idea that the Church does not have a problem with celibacy, the Church has a problem with gay men in the priesthood. Watch for this.

This idea has been proposed by some bishops and a couple of prominent Catholic writers and it is beginning to gain steam. One Catholic writer describes a “secretive gay network working within the Church”, to defame and destroy the authority of the Church.

While chewing on that, season it with this little fact: The overwhelming majority of sex abuse complaints regarding clergy, Catholic and Protestant, involve teenage and adult women. The media focuses almost exclusively on pedophile cases and cases involving scandals about gay priests. Presumably those stories sell better.

So, now the Church can cease to worry about it’s secrecy, it’s tendency to protect the image of the Church rather than its’ members, its’ refusal to share decision making with the supporting laity, and forget this nonsense about celibacy. It’s all just an evil gay conspiracy that harms the innocent old Church. Proving once again that gays are of the Devil and the Pope is infallible.

I expect this is the beginning of a new witch hunt.

What Do You Think?

More disturbing news has crossed my desk in the last couple of days. Here's a goody.

The Governor of South Dakota has recently removed links, to the Planned Parenthood site, on the states' official web site.

He did this to appease one man, the local Catholic bishop. Read the whole story.

As I've said elsewhere, there is a certain twisted humour in this. The state's highest elected official takes his marching orders from a ranking member of what is arguably the worlds largest paedophile ring. Namely the Catholic priesthood. The Bishops letter.

One must wonder why the priesthood is so determined to make young poor people ruin their lives with children they don't want and can't take care of.

What? The priests are running out of victims?

People have a right to access this information. People have a right to make informed choices about their own lives. No self righteous religious/political preacher has the right to hide such information from the public.

The separation of church and state is a Constitutional protection that is being thrown out by the Bush administration. Recognizing that the religious right is an important political ally, Bush has given a number of financial and politically en powering concessions to church based political groups. The Constitution be damned.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Alternatives to Morality Class? A question...

A reader wants to know which 5% of American high school students receive some comprehensive sex ed?

It appears that most of that five percent is taught in private funded schools.

A more important question, asked by the same reader:

"While it is paramount for the states to "get with it" and teach comprehensive sex education; are there other methods of advocating practical advice within the current frame work, that would reach the masses and would not be as susceptible to authoritative scrutiny, that should be exercised?"

There are a number of organizations such as Planned Parenthood and SEICUS that develope and present educational programs. As well, those two groups and others sponsor web sites that publish good sex health information targeted toward teens.

However, information from the net is only as good as the source. There is a lot of garbage out there. The filters in most school libraries will probably block access to all sites offering sex information.

Besides, this information is so vitally important to the health and well being of the next generation, so important to society, that it should be part of public education. Not left to a young uninformed students' individual trial and error search.

Comprehensive programs, developed and taught by professional educators, belong in public education.

Teen pregnancies, HIV infection rates, and other STD infection rates are higher among American teens than among European or Canadian teens.

American teens become sexually active earlier than European or Canadians.

The difference? America pumps $100 million dollars per year into belief based morality classes while Europe and Canada try to educate their children to make better choices.

Sex and Religi'tics In American Schools

Religion and politics are oft considered ill topics for friendly social gatherings and for good reason. In a country as politically polarized as the US, these might well be dangerous topics. Unless, of course, it is a gathering of like minded souls who all agree that something should be done about those soulless bastards that are not ‘like minded’.

Having made my generalization regarding the pervasive nature of this polarization in American society, I shall, for now, confine my remarks to the area I have studied recently. Namely sexuality education, or the lack of it in American schools.

At any given time, less than five percent of US high school students are receiving any level of comprehensive sexual health education. At the same given time, thousands of US schools have initiated belief based, ideologically inspired ‘classes’ using Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage guidelines.

$100 million Federal and State tax dollars go into Abstinence-Only programs every year.

Meanwhile, more comprehensive approaches to sex health education go under funded and under constant attack from right wing Christian organizations, groups of religiously inspired Republican members of Congress, and departments of the Federal government such as the CDC and Health and Human Services.

For more details regarding the HHS mandated guidelines for Abstinence-Only ‘educational’ and ‘motivational’ programs, hit link #1

For more info regarding attempts to shut down and cut funding to educational groups and web sites advocating comprehensive sex education, check the links in my blog entry entitled “More Foolishness”, July 19,04.

Something is very wrong when the Federal government mandates what amounts to Christian morality ‘classes’ in public schools, in place of medical/science based sex health education.

Something is very wrong when the present government funnels literally millions of dollars into the churches and “faith based” groups that advocate and often create and run these useless programs..

Something is terribly wrong when politically motivated ‘faith’ groups dictate educational and health policy in return for their support for a political party.

Comprehensive, What It IS

Comprehensive sex health education is a heated topic in America. Reading the comments made on this topic at many people appear to have wildly erroneous ideas concerning what comprehensive sex ed actually is.

Some seem to believe Comprehensive Sex Ed includes live sex shows for high students along with seminars with topics like “How to Please Your Man”.

These distortions and out-right fictions are often motivated by religion and politics. However, they are repeated with such regularity as to indicate a widespread ignorance of what comprehensive sexual education actually is.
Imagination often fills the dark gaps where ignorance casts its shadow.

Here are links that are worth a read if you want to know the kind of ideas behind Comprehensive Sex Ed. Some of the links will take you to published government papers regarding sex health education, as it is done in Canada.

Sex Info for teens
Comprehensive Sex Ed has been a fact of education in European schools, for a long time. It shows clearly in all the stats collected from Europe. HIV and other STD infection rates, among teens, are lower in Europe. Teen pregnancy rates are lower than in the US.

One number stands out as being higher than in the US. European teens tend to become sexually active later than US teens.

Canada has adopted its own Comprehensive Sex Health Education policies to measurably good effect. Many European programs are older and better funded and even more effective.

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs are very much in favour with the current American administration and the administrations’ allies among the religious right.

Fewer than five percent of American high school students will be exposed to comprehensive sex ed at anytime in high school.

It shows clearly in all the stats.

One huge misconception is that comprehensive sex ed ignores or downplays the role of abstinence. Abstaining from sexual activity is included in comprehensive education and not just as a side bar. It is recognized as an effective method for avoiding disease and unwanted pregnancies.

Though it only works as long as the person is able to maintain abstinence. Then what? They don't count any more?

Comprehensive means inclusive. Abstinence-Only appears to mean just us and damn the rest of you.

More Foolishness

The events in South Dakota, discussed in What Do You Think?, posted above, are symptomatic of something happening all around America.

The Bush administration and its right wing Christian (sic)allies are using various government departments to harass, intimidate, and threaten numerous non-faith based sex education groups and web sites.

"In July 2001 the Washington Post published a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services in which Advocates for Youth was described as "ardent critics of the Bush administration." This charge apparently came as the result of several Advocates for Youth press releases that railed against the president's backing of the "global gag rule" that prohibited any funding to foreign agencies that performed or facilitated abortions. In the leaked memo, it was also suggested that the Advocates for Youth programs did not go over well with the HHS because "the secretary [Tommy Thompson] is a devout Roman Catholic."
Read more in link AAS #1.

Mean while, the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States, a long established mainstream organization, has been investigated and audited twice because of the No New Money for Abstinence-Only-until Marriage web site it created.
It appears that the administration and its appointed heads of various departments are back in the business of keeping enemy lists, a'la Richard Nixon, and using government powers against those 'enemies'.


No New Money

The links to some of these groups are placed above.

It is a funny thing how Republicans and right wing Christians (sic), who seem to consider themselves to be the only real American patriots, are proving to also be the US Constitutions' most ardent enemies. Strange