Thursday, August 27, 2015

News Tidbits

NPR: Ted Cruz Rallies Evangelicals In Campaign To Defund Planned Parenthood

Christian Science Monitor: To counter Trump, Ted Cruz aims to lead religious right rebellion

The Guardian: Jeb Bush joins conservatives in call to defund Planned Parenthood

Forward: Pew Study Finds Orthodox Similar to Evangelical Christians, Not Other Jews

Good4Utah: Accused child molester claims religion as defense

Washington Post: LGBT memoir on Duke University reading list protested as insensitive to ‘Christian moral beliefs’ 

Washington Post: Abortion foes find new ways to get details about patients, doctors

Associated Press: Mormons Keep Affiliation With Boy Scouts Despite Gay Leaders

Pink News: Anti-gay marriage group NOM funded by Catholic donors it fought to keep secret

On Top Magazine: Scott Lively Claims LGBT Protections Bill Will 'Punish Christians'

Commentary Tidbits

Satiricalifragilistic: On Frollo and Josh Duggar

Gawker: Making Money Off Miracles: The Gospel of Televangelists

Rolling Stone: LGBT Catholics Disappointed on Eve of 'Liberal' Pope's U.S. Visit

The Guardian: Silence in the Catholic church may be its weapon of self destruction 

Freedom Builders: 10 “biblical” beliefs that poison Christians

RH Reality Check: Deceptive Planned Parenthood Attack Videos Spur More Anti-Choice Protests

Washington Post: The war on Planned Parenthood intensifies, but the group is fighting back in court

SheWired: Get Ready for Antigay Candace Cameron Bure Full Time on The View

Wall of Separation: Arkansas Officials Post Ten Commandments But Reject Symbols Of Other Faiths

New York Times: Trump-ward, Christian Soldiers?

Slaktivist: White evangelical voters, Donald Trump, and the evolution of the religious right

Monday, August 24, 2015

Musical Interlude: "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour

In an August 23rd commentary piece at Politico, Ben Schreckinger described Donald Trump's presidential campaign as a cult of personality. "Trump’s rallies magnify the cult of personality of a would-be leader who promises to save the country through personal talent and integrity so great that they transcend any issue or ideology," he wrote. Other commentators have also used the "cult of personality" language in reference to Trump's campaign.

Now I can't get "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour out of my head.

News Tidbits

New York Times: Ted Cruz, Seeking Converts to His Campaign, Rallies Iowa Evangelicals

Washington Post: Cruz’s evangelical outreach shifts into high gear

Wichita Eagle: Chanute residents protest removal of picture of Jesus from school

Us Weekly: Sam Rader, Viral Christian Vlogger, Kicked Out of Conference for Threatening Violence

People Magazine: Duggar Family Pastor Focuses Sunday Sermon on Infidelity After Ashley Madison Hack: 'We're in a Sexual Epidemic' 

Associated Press: NOM turns over donor list from gay marriage fight in Maine

National Catholic Reporter: LGBT groups continue valuable work, despite losing space during World Meeting

Kentucky*com: Two rallies in Frankfort represent two sides of same-sex marriage debate

Huffington Post: Denver May Ban Chick-Fil-A Branch Due To Its Anti-Gay History

Religion News Service: Italian Catholic Church scrambles to explain its role in lavish Mafia boss funeral

Commentary Tidbits

Salon: Meet the Tea Party’s evangelical quack: David Barton is Glenn Beck’s favorite "historian"

Diary of an Autodidact: Josh Duggar, Ashley Madison, and Covenant Marriage 

The Advocate: Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Rainbow Banner Promoting an Antigay Movie

Buzzfeed: This Anti-Marriage Equality Group’s Brochure Is Truly Meme-Worthy

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tweets from the August 22nd Planned Parenthood Protests

Anti-abortion activists were out in force on August 22nd, protesting Planned Parenthood locations across the country as part of a coordinated campaign against the health care provider. (More here and here.) Twitter was brimming with tweets and images from the protests.

Fortunately, pro-choice people made their voices heard too.

Anti-Abortion Activists Protest at Planned Parenthood Clinics Nationwide

Anti-abortion activists came together on Saturday, August 22nd to protest Planned Parenthood. After the Center for Medical Progress released several edited smear videos of Planned Parenthood staff (detailed here), several anti-abortion organizations organized a nationwide protest of the abortion provider. According to the Washington Post, protesters demonstrated at approximately 320 clinics across the U.S., calling for Planned Parenthood to be defunded.

According to the Protest PP website, the demonstrations are meant to show outrage over Planned Parenthood's alleged "harvesting and selling of aborted baby parts". The end goal of such protests is the defunding and closure of Planned Parenthood offices.
"ProtestPP is a coalition of pro-life groups calling for a National Day of Protest on August 22, 2015 at Planned Parenthood facilities all across America. Our goal is to raise awareness of the heartless and even illegal activities of Planned Parenthood by going to where the killing and harvesting of body parts from aborted children takes place. The four main sponsors are: Created Equal, the Pro-Life Action League, 40 Days for Life, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

Creating a presence at neighborhood Planned Parenthood facilities is essential to inform the public about what is going on behind closed doors. Local sidewalk counselors and activists are a key component to shutting down Planned Parenthood in the long term.

The National Day of Protest will strengthen local efforts by raising their profile with the local press, the community and other pro-life activists. Together, the protests held on August 22 will put pressure on the media, both local and national, to report the truth about Planned Parenthood, and on government officials to stop funding this discredited organization."
Family Research Council, one of the co-sponsors of #ProtestPP, blasted Planned Parenthood in a recent press release. Arina Grossu, Family Research Council’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, insisted that the protests were meant to support women and denounce "human rights abuses".
"We must to stand against the scandal-plagued Planned Parenthood on behalf of women and children who have been hurt by them and hold them accountable for all of the horrific practices they do behind closed doors. Each of us can stand up against the horrific human rights abuses going on in our midst. When Congress returns in September, they must redirect taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood to the thousands of health care centers that don’t perform abortions and are not under federal and state investigation..."
Several Religious Right figures took part in the August 22nd protests. For instance, Bethlehem College & Seminary chancellor John Piper took part in a protest in St. Paul, Minnesota "to say to Planned Parenthood that killing children is not an acceptable response to crisis pregnancies". In a commentary piece at Desiring God, Piper praised his fellow Christians for attending the protest.
"The gathering this morning was explicitly Christian. The name of Jesus and his Lordship were on the lips of the leaders. We sang praises to God and to the Victor, Jesus Christ. This is a beautiful thing — that the public stand for justice for the weakest in our society would be carried by the followers of Christ. We have a great salvation, and that this would be one of the fruits is wonderful.

It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church has been the religious backbone of the prolife movement for forty years. I thank God for this persevering clarity on the reality and dignity of unborn human life. I am not a Roman Catholic, but happily stood with them in this common cause of justice for the unborn. When the time comes, we will have our knock-down, drag-out arguments over the sacrificial Mass, baptismal regeneration, and the precious doctrine of justification by faith alone. But each thing in its own season. This morning the issue was this: God’s is weaving human life in the womb in his image; don’t kill what he is creating."

New Apostolic Reformation leader Jim Garlow (pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, California) spoke at at anti-abortion protest in San Diego, California. Tastelessly, he compared Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust and ISIS at the beginning of the video.
"[Inaudible] Jewish Holocaust survivors--when you hear the stories of what they went through, it wouldn't occur to you that it could possibly--seventy years later, we find ourselves with two manifestations of this horrible dismemberment of humanity. Now refer to that what is happening across the Middle East. We have two modern day representations of that kind of hatred. ISIS and other related jihadist groups. We read the reports and we're in shock that people could do this to other people, and Planned Parenthood is the other one, right here globally doing the same kinds of things to humanity that ISIS does as well."
Garlow sneered at claims that Planned Parenthood performs valuable services, likening the organization to Adolph Hitler at the 2:50 mark.
"Some say, 'oh, Planned Parenthood does some good'. So did Hitler! He built the Autobahn and created the Volkswagen, but that's not enough for six million Jews who died. They never got a chance to use those roads. They never could drive those cars. Don't give me the line 'you do some good' when you're murdering babies right in our communities."
At the 3:42 mark, Garlow complained that Planned Parenthood has supposedly forced abortions on the population, just as LGBTQ rights advocates supposedly forced same-sex marriage on the U.S.
"Some use the "optional" argument. They say, 'well, the fact is we have abortion, but we don't force it on you'. That's the line they used on same-sex marriage. Now they've forced it on all of us. The fact is, they have forced abortion on all of us."
This weekend's protests showed us that the anti-abortion movement is energizing its followers and stoking their rage. Now that the movement is organized and angry, we can expect an uptick in anti-choice activism. Is the pro-choice movement ready to push back?

News Tidbits

Washington Blade: RNC endorses federal ‘religious freedom’ bill

Reuters: Nuns who reject Obamacare contraception mandate win stay on order to comply

Associated Press: Thousands rally for clerks denying gay marriage licenses 

New York Daily News: Duggars refuse sitdown with People to avoid being asked about Josh Duggar's molestation confession

Commentary Tidbits

Jezebel: Jehovah's Witness Leader: There's a 'Spiritual Dilemma' in Reporting Sexual Abuse

Right Wing Watch: President Mike Huckabee Will Outlaw Abortion By Executive Fiat

The Advocate: Mike Huckabee's Revival of the 'Social Experiment' Fallacy

Jerks 4 Jesus: Duggar Scandal Bingo

The New Yorker: Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison Problem

The Planned Parenthood Controversy: Anti-Abortion Activists Call for Defunding

As discussed in a prior post, the Center for Medical Progress has launched a video smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue derived from abortions. In reality, Planned Parenthood donates fetal tissue to medical research, which is perfectly legal.

As the controversy rages, anti-abortion activists are demonizing Planned Parenthood with gusto. Many anti-abortion figures are repeating their usual calls to defund the organization, ignoring both the lack of evidence of any illegal activity and the many positive health care services it provides.

For example, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina demanded that Planned Parenthood be defunded during her visit to the Iowa State Fair. In this C-SPAN video, Fiorina spouts the usual right-wing myths about Planned Parenthood, accusing it of targeting poor women and pressuring women to terminate pregnancies.
"I am pro-life, and I believe science is proving us right every day, but you do not have to be pro-life to understand the hideous nature of what is going on here. This is about the moral character of our nation, when you can have employees who target poor communities, who are pushing women into later term abortions so they can more successfully harvest body parts, even thought late term abortions are demonstrably bad for women. You can only be horrified when you see employees picking over a petri dish for body parts while they say, 'look, it's a baby'. There is no excuse. Planned Parenthood must be defunded."  
In an August 20th statement at the Concerned Women for America website, Jaime Ballew accused the mainstream media of biased reporting on the video controversy. Ballew then accused Planned Parenthood of greedily seeking profits (despite Planned Parenthood's status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) and raged against taxpayer funding for the group.
"The (now seven) videos from the Center for Medical Progress have clearly outlined Planned Parenthood’s disregard for not only life but also the law. Another heartbreaking facet is how the mainstream media choses to ignore these facts to better serve their own interests. Instead of fair and unbiased reporting, the media chooses sides and overwhelmingly reports on pieces that illicit a response that does not inconvenience anyone or make anyone unnecessarily uncomfortable."


Planned Parenthood has an agenda, and to think that their sole interest is women is a lie. Over and over again one thing has come across loud and clear: Planned Parenthood is concerned with the bottom line; they’ve said so themselves. It is appalling that a cent of taxpayer money has gone towards the vicious annihilation of a generation, especially considering Planned Parenthood tops one billion dollars in assets. Even if no taxpayer funds go directly into providing abortions, those dollars allow Planned Parenthood to keep the lights on and print pink t-shirts to hand out to their blind celebrity following. Do not be deceived; taxpayer funding allows Planned Parenthood to more efficiently operate."
Arina Grossu, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity, also cited the videos in her call to defund Planned Parenthood.
"With the release of two more videos this week showing several other senior officials at Planned Parenthood callously and casually discussing sale of babies’ organs as if they were selling car parts, this country has been presented with another reminder of the ugly realities of the abortion industry. Even pro-abortion Americans have been shocked and sickened by what goes on behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood.

When will we decide we’ve had enough? How much more appalling evidence do we need from Planned Parenthood before we officially cut ties between the taxpayer and this abortion giant that scavenges baby parts and haggles for the cost of each ‘specimen’? Planned Parenthood must not receive one penny more of hard-earned taxpayer dollars."
Seán O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, echoed the call to defund Planned Parenthood in an August 3rd letter to the U.S. Senate.
"The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more “intact” organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans.

The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Our hospitals and other health facilities are second to none in providing quality health care for women.

We support the legislative proposal to reallocate federal funding, so that women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion. It is my sincere hope that you will be able to help advance this goal by supporting S. 1881."
Live Action, an anti-abortion group with tactics similar to the Center for Medical Progress, also joined the chorus. In an August 3rd statement, Lila Rose called on lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood.
"The public outcry against Planned Parenthood continues to grow as we learn about the atrocities within the abortion giant’s facilities. I have to believe that those Senators who voted against defunding Planned Parenthood must have never actually viewed the videos released by Center for Medical Progress, where multiple high-level Planned Parenthood executives have been caught on tape negotiating prices for the bodies of aborted preborn children while they cavalierly talk about “crushing” certain body parts to preserve “five-star” organs for sale. This, just the latest in years of mounting evidence against Planned Parenthood. We call on elected officials to cut close-knit ties with Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry lobby."
Some of the anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric is downright strange. In a July 31st press release, Alveda King linked Planned Parenthood's alleged sale of fetal tissue to a Satanic Temple fundraiser. King likened reproductive rights to the "three headed demonic force" of racism, "sexual perversion", and "reproductive genocide", thereby demonizing Planned Parenthood as an infernal enemy of people of color. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"In a news flash, a devil-worshipping group calling itself the Satanic Temple is raising funds to promote abortion-on-demand to counter legal efforts such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and 20-week abortion bans. A highly publicized ceremonial unveiling of a satanic figure, an event billed as the "largest public satanic ceremony in history," sold $25 and $75 tickets, the proceeds of which will be used to support the reproductive rights legal action fund.

Why connect the two? It's a three headed demonic force.

Again, the pro-life struggle is part of a bigger battle going on in our world - a battle for souls - a battle between good and evil. Many don't understand; in today's culture, people like Cecile Richards call evil, good and good, evil. They are backed by so much money; their lying message is repeated so often, people begin to believe it; creating a ball of confusion."
If these anti-abortion voices had done their research, they would have learned that Planned Parenthood has not been illegally selling fetal tissue, merely donating it to medical research in exchange for transport reimbursement. Furthermore, a few minutes of research would have shown them that several states have investigated Planned Parenthood and found no evidence of illegal activity. Finally, anti-abortion figures ignore Planned Parenthood's positive contributions to public health, such as abortion services, contraception, STD testing, cancer screening, and sex education.

Anti-abortion figures aren't going to countenance that evidence any time soon. Their animosity toward Planned Parenthood cannot be pacified with facts or logical arguments. Their efforts to undermine women's reproductive rights will continue, forcing pro-choice advocates to remain vigilant. Expect more hyperbole and more myths as the video controversy rages on.