Monday, July 20, 2009

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Roundup: The Pope, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, and the Mormons

Beth Saunders

The Pope says heterosexual couples can use condoms too; the Family Research Council (and others) are named as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center; and the Mormon church takes their social issue handbook public.

We’ve got a religion-themed round-up this morning, and first on deck is the Pope, who is continuing to clarify his recent statement on condoms. The Associated Press reports that he meant that heterosexual couples can use condoms as well as male prostitutes:

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

“This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point,” Lombardi said.

The pope is not justifying or condoning gay sex or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. Elsewhere in the book he reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

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But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the pope is saying that condom use in heterosexual relations is the lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner.

In somewhat religion-related news, the Southern Poverty Law Center will designate the Family Research Council and twelve other gay-bashing organizations as hate groups next year.  But really, it has nothing to do with their religion, and everything to do with hate and propaganda.

(A) hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. Of the 18 groups profiled below, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be listing 13 next year as hate groups (eight were previously listed), reflecting further research into their views; those are each marked with an asterisk. Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

Below is a list of the anti-gay hate groups according to SPLC. See their website for complete description of each group.

*Abiding Truth Ministries, Springfield, Mass.
*American Family Association
*Americans for Truth About Homosexuality
*American Vision
*Chalcedon Foundation, Vallecito, Calif.
Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Vista, Calif.
Concerned Women for America, Washington, D.C.
Coral Ridge Ministries, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
*Dove World Outreach Center, Gainesville, Fla.
*Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Ariz.
*Family Research Council, Washington, D.C.
*Family Research Institute, Colorado Springs, Colo.
*Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, Downers Grove, Ill.
*Illinois Family Institute, Carol Stream, Ill.
Liberty Counsel, Orlando, Fla.
*MassResistance
National Organization for Marriage, Princeton, N.J.
*Traditional Values Coalition, Anaheim, Calif.

And lastly, the official Morman handbook on social issues is now available online. Previously, only church elders and clergy had access to the information, but in an effort to be more open, the LDS church decided to make the volume available to church members and the general public. On abortion, the handbook says:

The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). The church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when:

1. Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.

2. A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.

3. A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

Even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.

Church members who submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion may be subject to church discipline.

As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion.

It doesn’t seem to me as if the LDS church wants abortion to be illegal.

Mini-Roundup: An HIV drug already on the market shows great promise at blocking infection.

Nov 22

Roundup: Can You Ask Tweens About Gender Identity?

Beth Saunders

DC Public Schools are on the defensive after asking young teens and tweens what they know about sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, and how they identify themselves in terms of gender and sexual orientation.

Is it appropriate to ask young teens and tweens what they know about sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, and how they identify themselves in terms of gender and sexual orientation? Some parents don’t think so, which led to a flap in a Washington, DC, public school over a survey distributed to middle-schoolers by Metro TeenAIDS, a nonprofit organization contracted to provide a comprehensive sexuality education program called “Making Proud Choices!” (A copy of the entire survey is available.)

TBD reports:

“Polling has been done in D.C., and parents overwhelmingsly support comprehensive sex education in schools,” Tenner told me. Metro TeenAIDS’ pre-curriculum survey is a good example of what that means: It asks students about their sexual orientations and gender identities. It inquires as to whether the students have ever engaged in oral, anal, or vaginal sex, whether they’ve been tested for HIV, whether they know basic STD prevention measures, and whether they feel comfortable saying “no.” It also asks about students’ previous alcohol consumption and drug use.

The DC Public School system released a letter saying that “the opt-out letter to parents regarding this unit in the health class went home on the same day that the assessment was administered.  As a result, there was not enough time to allow for parental response before the unit began.” Oops.

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However, the school system also laid down some hard facts:

In reacting to an outcry of opinion over the story, DCPS delivered some real talk: Nearly seven percent of all D.C. teens were diagnosed with chlamydia in 2008. Further, D.C. teens account for half of all chlamydia and gonorrhea cases in D.C.  And more than three percent of District residents older than 12 are living with HIV or AIDS, according to the Washington Post.

So while the teen with whom Solomon spoke might have been bewildered by the school survey on sexual activity, not all D.C. teens are so innocent.

DCPS shot back that the “sex test” was no test at all.

“The ‘pre-test’ Hardy students were given was not a test at all, but an assessment used to determine the students’ baseline knowledge and to responsibly assure that students get all of the information and skills they need to protect themselves,” said a DCPS statement.

The survey comes in the wake of the revelation that four students killed themselves over two years in Mentor, Ohio, as a result of bullying. After it was reported that a recent gay student’s suicide was prompted by bullying, GLBT stars like Ellen DeGeneres and Tim Gunn and their allies released messages expressing support for GLBT youth suffering from bullying.

A Health Resources and Services Administration report said that a 2002 poll by the National Mental Health Association found that 78 percent of students aged 12 to 17 reported that kids who are gay or perceived to be gay are bullied. 

Solomon’s writeup of the Hardy Middle School sex-ed program implied that a question asking whether students self-identified as “transgender” or cisgender was in some sense offensive.

Mini-Roundup: Human life as we know it is coming to an end, thanks to the Culture of Death (aka contraception, gay marriage, and in vitro fertilization), according to a speech given to “pro-life” leaders in Europe. Also, apparently, we’re all a part of an Islamic Jihad. (How do they come up with this stuff?)

Oct 12