Roundup: Sundown for Colorado Fundamentalists, TV and Teen Pregnancy

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Roundup: Sundown for Colorado Fundamentalists, TV and Teen Pregnancy

Brady Swenson

The sun may be setting on the political influence of fundamentalist churches; Study finds significant link between TV and teen pregnancy; 43% of women report sexual problems; 13 year-old rape victim stoned to death in Somalia for adultery; John Chittick walks the world speaking with teens about HIV/AIDS.

Sundown for Colorado Fundamentalists’s Mike Madden attended the New Life evangelical Christian church in Colorado Springs yesterday and filed a report that considers the waning political power of religious fundamentalists in America on the eve of the 2008 election.  New Life was, not too long ago, at the vanguard of the evangelical Christian churches’ rise in political power:

New Life isn’t just any megachurch. Its founding pastor, the Rev. Ted
Haggard, once led the National Association of Evangelicals. He helped
rally his flock — and conservative Christians around the country —
behind George W. Bush’s reelection campaign four years ago. For a time
it seemed New Life, the largest church in Colorado, was set to be the
vanguard of a political movement that would put the Bible into
policymaking for years to come, as Karl Rove and evangelical leaders
like Haggard teamed up to turn the country red.

But that was before the fall of its founder and before the 2006 midterm elections that swept Democrats into Republican Congressional seats all over America:

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But that was before Haggard was forced out
of his post after a scandal involving methamphetamines and a gay
hooker, two elements that don’t go over that well among
fundamentalists, and especially not when mixed together. Two days
later, Republicans lost control of Congress in the 2006 elections. Now,
two days before another election, with the polls pointing toward a
Barack Obama victory both in Colorado and nationwide, the country no
longer quite seems to be going New Life’s way.

Though Boyd did not make much mention of politics in his sermon yesterday he did take time to implore his congregants to vote yes on Amendment 48 that would redefine the word ‘person’ in the Colorado constitution to include zygotes at the moment of fertilization.  That amendment, which has been supported since the inception of its campaign by the leadership at evangelical churches like New Life, will likely fail tomorrow:

The same polls that show most Colorado voters will reject Boyd’s advice on the abortion amendment also show Obama leading in the state. Independent voters, who make up 26 percent of the ballots cast in early and absentee voting, appear to be breaking heavily for Obama. A Senate race, between Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Bob Schaffer, is considered a virtual lock for Udall.

Tomorrow could also turn out to be firther evidence that the political power of the social conservatives and the evangelical Christian movement that are so closely tied is waning:

Should places like Colorado, and Ohio,
and North Carolina and Virginia — all states with more than their fair
share of evangelical Christian conservatives — go blue on Tuesday, it
will be a clear sign that the sun may be setting on the political
influence of fundamentalist churches like New Life.



Study Finds Significant Link Between TV Sex and Teen Pregnancies 

A study, published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, tracked more than 700 12-to-17-year-olds for three years and found that those who viewed the most sexual content on TV were about
twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy
as those who saw the

"Watching this kind of sexual content on television is a powerful
factor in increasing the likelihood of a teen pregnancy," said lead
researcher Anita Chandra. "We found a strong association."  

Studies have found a link between watching television shows with sexual
content and becoming sexually active earlier, and between sexually
explicit music videos and an increased risk of sexually transmitted
diseases. And many studies have shown that TV violence seems to make
children more aggressive. But the new research is the first to show an
association between TV watching and pregnancy among teens.  

"This finding underscores the importance of evidence-based sex
education that helps young people delay sex and use prevention when
they become sexually active," said James Wagoner of Advocates for
Youth. "The absolutely last thing we should do in response is bury our
heads in the sand and promote failed abstinence-only programs." 

Time and MSNBC also cover the study. 


Almost Half of Women Have Sexual Problems

A recent study by Dr. Jan Shifren, an associate professor of obstetrics,
gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and
director of the Vincent Menopause Program at Massachusetts General
Hospital, found that about 43 percent of women report sexual problems and about 12 percent of women reports distress accompanying that problem:

Overall, 43.1 percent of those surveyed reported some kind of sexual
problem: 39 percent reported diminished desire, 26 percent reported
problems with arousal, and 21 percent problems with achieving orgasm.

Only 12 percent, however, reported significant personal distress associated with this problem.

And there were age differences. "The highest prevalence of sexual
dysfunction was in older women, but they experienced less associated
distress," Shifren said. "The most distress occurred at mid-life, and
the youngest women had the lowest prevalence of problems and of
associated distress."


13-Year-Onld Rape Victim Stoned to Death in Somalia for Adultery reports on a tragedy that belies words:

A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in
Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human
rights group said.

Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a
stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of
Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing
witnesses. The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of
adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights
group said.

Initial local media reports said Duhulow
was 23, but her father told Amnesty International she was 13. Some of
the Somali journalists who first reported the killing later told
Amnesty International that they had reported she was 23 based upon her
physical appearance.

Calls to Somali government officials and the local administration in Kismayo rang unanswered Saturday.

"This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed
opposition groups who currently control Kismayo," David Copeman,
Amnesty International’s Somalia campaigner, said in a statement Friday.


Man on a Mission: John Chittick Walks the World Talking to Teens About HIV/AIDS

A former art-gallery owner turned HIV/AIDS education expert and lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health has been walking the world’s streets for over a decade and estimates he has spoken with over 300,000 teens all over the world about HIV/AIDS:

In 1997, he launched TeenAIDS, created what he says was the Web’s first site for teens and HIV,,
and started his "World Walks." He operates on a shoestring budget from
private donations, and has avoided government funding because he
doesn’t "want any strings attached." (He shakes his head at the Bush
administration’s abstinence-only education.)