Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arizona Governor Vetoes SB 1062; Far Right Vents Anger on Twitter

CNN reports that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial SB 1062 bill. "The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences," she explained in a press conference statement, adding "Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination."

A brief tour of Twitter revealed that far right voices are unhappy with her decision.

"God Loves Uganda" and the American Religious Right

In the wake of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signing a draconian anti-gay bill into law, I'd like to remind readers to check out the documentary God Loves Uganda. The film discusses the role of American Religious Right figures in fomenting homophobia in Uganda.

In this clip, Rev. Kapya Kaoma talks about anti-gay American preachers in Uganda, including Scott Lively's presentation at a 2009 anti-gay conference in Kampala.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Commentary Tidbits

Redemption Pictures: Perhaps Love Bakes a Cake

Verdict: Sex Assaults at Evangelical Colleges, the United Nations, and the Vatican

Defeating the Dragons: Pensacola Christian College and sexual abuse victims

Ms. Magazine: I Wish the Pope Would Step Up

Political Research Associates: The Adoption Crunch, the Christian Right, and the Challenge to Indian Sovereignty

America Magazine: When the Law Is a Crime

GLAAD: Life imprisonment for being LGBT is the law in Uganda now

Deuche Welle: A Blow to Human Rights

News Tidbits

New York Times: In the DeMint Era at Heritage, a Shift From Policy to Politics

Huffington Post: Virginia Republican Says A Pregnant Woman Is Just A 'Host,' Though 'Some Refer To Them As Mothers'

Detroit Free Press: Michigan pastors speak out against gay marriage on eve of lesbian adoption trial

Windy City Media Group: 'Conversion therapy' ban proposed for Illinois

Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill Signed into Law

After years of delays and inscrutable zig-zagging on the part of Uganda's president, Uganda's anti-gay bill is now law. CNN reports that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a draconian bill that mandates prison time for those who perform outreach to gays and lesbians, as well as life in prison for some same-sex intimate acts.

After signing the bill into law, Museveni was defiant. In an interview with CNN's Zain Verjee, Museveni called gays "disgusting", arguing that he'd seen insufficient evidence that homosexuality was inborn. In a transcript of his February 24th speech posted at the Daily Monitor, Museveni demonized gays as predators heralding from the "arrogant" west.
"It seems the topic of homosexuals was provoked by the arrogant and careless Western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality and lesbianism, just as they carelessly handle other issues concerning Africa." 
Museveni's speech was littered with bizarre claims about the origins of sexual orientation and the supposed dangers of oral sex. He accused the west of imposing its pro-gay values on his land, ignoring ways that American anti-gay activists have exported homophobia to Africa.
"Are we interested in seeing your sexual acts – we the Public? I am not able to understand the logic of the Western Culture. However, we Africans always keep our opinions to ourselves and never seek to impose our point of view on the others. If only they could let us alone."
The global reaction was swift. The White House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Human Dignity Trust, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and South African cleric Desmond Tutu condemned the new law as discriminatory and backwards.

I fear that the worst is yet to come for Uganda. LGBTQ Ugandans, already under siege in a country that criminalizes homosexuality, will now be at risk for long, unjust imprisonment.  The new law and the rhetoric coming from Ugandan leaders may embolden homophobes, putting LGBTQ people at risk of further violence and persecution.

It is vital to remember that the anti-gay law was introduced as American Religious Right figures promoted homophobia in Uganda. Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and other American Religious Right were among the speakers at a 2009 anti-gay conference in Kampala. Lou Engle of TheCall preached at TheCall Uganda rally in 2010, earning him criticism from LGBTQ rights groups. While the American Religious Right is not exclusively to blame for homophobia in Uganda, its anti-gay propaganda did not help the situation.

Do we need any further evidence of the dangers of homophobia? This is what happens when political leaders embrace ignorance, bigotry, and scapegoating. This is what happens when dangerous myths, stereotypes, and pseudoscience infect public consciousness. This is what happens when hatred is conflated with patriotism, national autonomy, and faith. This is what happens when the Religious Right spreads its influence and ideology. The LGBTQ community is demonized, unjust bills become law, and innocent people suffer.

We must continue to speak out for equality, both in the U.S. and abroad. We must resist interpretations of religion that dehumanize LGBTQ people. We must refute dangerous stereotypes and pseudoscience wherever they fester. We must shine a light on the global ambitions of the Religious Right. And, we must always remember that a saner world is possible.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Christiane Amanpour on CNN: How American evangelicals may be responsible for Uganda’s anti-gay law

Mother Jones: Uganda's President Signs Extreme Law That Has Led to Calls to Kill, Burn, and Beat Gays

New York Times: Reaction to Uganda Antigay Law

Monday, February 24, 2014

So-Called "Religious Liberty" Legislation Would Sanction Discrimination

It's an unfortunate fact that some businesses and service providers refuse to serve LGBTQ customers, citing an anti-gay interpretation of Christianity. From bakeries that refused to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples, to a photographer who refused to snap wedding pictures for a gay wedding, to a hospital chaplain who reportedly refused to perform last rights for a gay patient, anti-gay business owners and service providers have often hidden behind religion when questioned about their discrimination. Now, the Religious Right is trying to protect such discrimination with a wave of new laws.

Several states are now considering new laws that would permit individuals, business owners, and organizations to discriminate against customers based on religious beliefs. These bills, championed as "religious liberty" measures by the right but likened to Jim Crow laws by critics, have been proposed in Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, and other states. Their appearance en masse in state legislatures is no coincidence. Evan Hurst, associate director of Truth Wins Out, told Mother Jones that the bills are "a concerted campaign that the religious Right has been hinting at for a couple of years now."

One such bill that garnered national attention was Kansas House Bill 2453. HB 2453 states that no individual or religious entity would be required to provide services, solemnize any marriage or partnership, or acknowledge any marriage or partnership as valid if doing so would conflict with "the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender". The bill was crafted by the American Religious Freedom Program, according to the Wichita Eagle.

The Kansas House passed the bill in a 72-to-49 vote, according to the New York Times, but it was later declared "dead" by Sen. Jeff King. King explained that the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee had "grave concerns" about the bill's language, according to Time. The Associated Press reports that a Wichita-based Tea Party organization called Kansans for Liberty is trying to revive the bill.

National attention is now directed at Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which states that "state action shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" except in special circumstances. In practice, the bill would allow business owners to refuse service to gays and other customers by citing their religious beliefs. SB 1062 was crafted by Alliance Defending Freedom and the Center for Arizona Policy, according to Religion News Service.

The Associated Press reports that the Arizona House voted 33-to-27 in favor of the bill, which has been sent to Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer has yet to sign or veto the bill, telling reporters "I need to explore it."

Far right voices have commended the bill. In a February 21st press release, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called SB 1062 "commonsense legislation" and praised the bill for affirming "the basic principle that the fundamental rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion do not stop at the exit door of your local church, and instead extend to every area of life." The Center for Arizona Policy claimed that the bill "makes important clarifications to ensure religious liberty is further protected in our state" in the midst of "increasing threats to religious liberty at all levels of government".

Other observers reject the bill as a green light for discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Hundreds of demonstrators protested against the bill in Phoenix, Tuscon, Flagstaff, and other Arizona cities on February 21st. Human Rights Campaign, Equality Arizona, and the ACLU of Arizona have released statements warning that SB 1062 would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called SB 1062 "blatantly unconstitutional", telling the Los Angeles Times that the bill "violates the requirement of equal protection of the laws by openly singling out a particular group of people and saying it’s OK to discriminate against them.”

Several business and political leaders in the Copper State oppose SB 1062. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey, and U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) want to see Gov. Brewer veto the bill. Business leaders on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Tuscon are concerned about the bill's impact on the Arizona economy. The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board has urged Gov. Brewer to veto the bill, arguing that enactment of the legislation would "raise serious Constitutional questions, spark protracted and costly legal action against the state, and ultimately have the effect of casting Arizona in a negative light that stands to damage our reputation nationwide and globally, and significantly harm our fiscal future."

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Why would anyone craft legislation sanctioning discrimination? How did discrimination become a "religious liberty" issue in the eyes of the Religious Right? Why would right-wing organizations craft bills that would be so offensive to voters, business leaders, and many lawmakers?

I don't think that the new wave of so-called "religious liberty" bills is really about liberty. Nor do I think that the bills are really about religion. After all, where is "Thou shall not bake cakes for gays" written in scripture? Rather, the bills are the Religious Right's latest attempt to delegitimize LGBTQ people and impose a far-right agenda via legislation.

The new wave of bills are a statement. In effect, they send the message that a right-wing interpretation of Christianity should trump the equality of all persons. The bills represent a troubling disregard for the rights of LGBTQ Americans, but I doubt their influence would stop at LGBTQ customers. I worry that, if signed into law, such legislation could set a precedent for denial of service to other groups on the basis of religious beliefs.

The bills are also rooted in the myth that fundamentalist Christians' religious liberty is under threat and in need of special legal protection. In reality, Christians are not being persecuted, and religious freedom is not under threat. Americans enjoy freedom of worship, assembly, and speech as these relate to faith, but this freedom does not give citizens carte blanche to discriminate.

We need to challenge rhetoric that falsely places religious liberty at odds with LGBTQ equality. Bills that sanction discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs are an affront to equality, and they do nothing to strengthen our liberty.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

The New Civil Rights Movement: Arizona Kicks Off Its Rainbow Shades

CNN: Arizona's shameful 'right to discriminate' bill

Time: Arizona Pizzeria Protests Anti-Gay Bill By Refusing To Serve Lawmakers

New York Daily News: New anti-gay bill proves Arizona is the land of dinosaurs — and bigots

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Commentary Tidbits

The Atlantic: The Changing Face of Christian Politics

Dallas Voice: How LGBT activism is changing religion

Salon: How I lost the religion of my childhood

Out from Under the Umbrella: Insulation

Alternet: 9 Absurd Religious-Right Attempts to Seem Sexy and Hip

RH Reality Check: The Evangelical Short-Term Memory Problem

Right Wing Watch: Tom DeLay: Americans Have Forgotten That God Wrote The Constitution

News Tidbits

Washington Post: Supreme Court temporarily allows religious groups not to cover birth control

Pennlive: Gay-Straight Alliance club at Northern High School could lead students 'into sin,' protester says

CBC News: Catholic Church withholding millions from victims, alleges Canadian government

Associated Press: Puerto Rico to probe more church abuse allegations

Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera Announce New Anti-LGBTQ Group

Two anti-gay activists have just announced the formation of a new far-right coalition. During a February 21st press conference at the National Press Club, Scott Lively of Defend the Family International and Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) announced the formation of the Coalition for Family Values. Greg Quinlan of PFOX and Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania were also on hand for the event, the Washington Blade reports.

According to a press release, the purpose of the Coalition for Family Values is "to unify and coordinate pro-family groups around the United States and the world to more effectively oppose the now global LGBT agenda." In a statement posted at LifeSite News, the Coalition for Family Values complained that "the LGBT agenda has already gone too far", urging "family-friendly nations" to resist advances in LGBTQ rights. Calls for LGBTQ equality are merely an imposition of "inverted morality" by westerners, the statement insisted.
"The Coalition for Family Values will be encouraging our current and future affiliates throughout the world to lobby their own governments to follow the Russian example. While the LGBT agenda has seemed like an unstoppable political juggernaut in North America and Europe, the vast majority of the people of the world do not accept the notion that sexual deviance should be normalized. It is time that these voices are heard on the world stage before the so-called elites of the Western powers impose their inverted morality on everyone through the manipulation of international law, which they clearly intend to do." 
The new coalition is receiving support from organizations and figures among the Religious Right. The Washington Blade reports that Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern, Brian Camenker of MassResistance, and Matt Barber of Liberty Council Action are among the more than 70 far-right figures from around the globe who have joined the coalition.

The Coalition for Family Values has taken an approving stance toward Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, although it is not alone among far-right groups in doing so. The first action of the organization will be to release a statement in support of Russia's "pro-family laws". Scott Lively spoke warmly of Russia's anti-gay legislation at the press conference. “We want to praise the Russian Federation for providing much-needed leadership in restoring family values in public policy,” he said at the event, according to the Washington Blade.
“By taking these steps in the face of intense criticism and hostility by some Western governments and NGOs, the Russians have demonstrated the high value that they place on their children and the natural family model of society. We believe that God will bless the Russian people for their faith and courage.”
In a transcript of her speech at the press conference, Diane Gramley stated that the U.S. "could learn from Russia and stop the homosexualization of our nation ...  It is time for the United States to stop using our children as lab rats to see how they react to the homosexual propaganda they are exposed to in the public school classroom, in many children's books, in video games and the entertainment industry."

Video footage of the press conference shows that Scott Lively endured heckling from a member of the audience. Lively responded by insisting that "homofascism" is seeking to "suppress all other perspectives about the homosexual issues except those that favor your position".

Lively was not amused at being interrupted.

The Coalition for Family Values is the latest reminder that the American Religious Right has global ambitions and global networks. As the far-right grow increasingly open about its work abroad, LGBTQ rights supporters have both the opportunity and responsibility to monitor the right's international activism

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Right Wing Watch: Scott Lively's New Anti-Gay Coalition: Governments Should Suppress LGBT 'Propaganda'

Mother Jones: Anti-Gay Evangelical Calls Protesters "Homo-Fascists"

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da: Activists ejected from Scott Lively anti-gay press conference

Commentary Tidbits

Political Research Associates: Why Did Bob Jones University Terminate Its Sexual Abuse Investigation?

Boz Tchividjian at Religion News Service: A public statement concerning sexual abuse in the church

Ramblings of Sheldon: Michael Farris, HSLDA and Patrick Henry's College's Silencing of Sexual Assualt Victims

Americablog: The sudden eruption of anti-gay legislation nationwide is not a coincidence

Huffington Post: How Is Discrimination a Religious Freedom?

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Like Voldemort to Wizards

The Guardian: Kansas' anti-gay bill: Another attempt to force warped Christianity on others

Huffington Post: Christians Are a Cause of LGBT Oppression So We Have to Be a Part of the Liberation!

RH Reality Check: Why Wendy Davis’ Opponent Is Stumping With Misogynist Ted Nugent

Recovering Grace: Gothard’s Process: Invite, Idealize, Isolate, Transgress, Rewrite

The Transadvocate: Eavesdrop on a right wing anti-trans training camp

News Tidbits

New Republic: Sexual Assault at God's Harvard

Religion News Service: Kansas, Arizona bills reflect national fight over gay rights vs. religious liberty

Bangor Daily News: Maine House deals another blow to Republican senator’s ‘religious freedom’ bill

LGBTQ Nation: Arizona secretary of state, treasurer say governor should veto anti-gay bill

Politico: Susan B. Anthony List targets Democrats

Raw Story: Alabama House panel approves school prayer bill even though majority votes no

The Independent: Jesus is 'returning to Earth with a gun', says former US General

Savannah Morning News: Georgia House bill would allow more prayer in schools

NPR: Gay-Marriage Battle Moves South, And Religious Right Fights Back

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ugandan President Museveni Zig-Zags on Anti-Gay Bill

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's zig-zagging on his country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill has left me dizzy. First, in a puzzling 180 degree turn, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni agreed to sign a draconian anti-gay bill that would imprison gays, just weeks after declining to sign the legislation. Museveni recently announced that he would sign the anti-gay bill approved by Ugandan parliament in 2013. During a conference of the National Resistance Movement, Museveni told listeners, "We shall have a war with the homosexual lobby in the world," and was met with loud applause, according to CNN.

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been loudly condemned by global human rights supporters, was introduced amidst American Religious Right activism in Uganda, which included promotion of homophobic attitudes. The news came after LGBTQ rights groups participated in the Global Day of Action Against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill on February 10th.

Pro-LGBTQ observers condemned the move. Frank Mugisha, the head of LGBTQ rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), warned that Museveni's statements "will only increase violence and hatred towards LGBT persons in Uganda," according to the Guardian.

In a February 16th statement, President Obama expressed disappointment in Uganda over the impending enactment of the anti-gay law. President Obama saluted Ugandans who have honored human rights while lamenting the increase in reports of anti-gay violence and persecution around the world.
"The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda.  It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people.  It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights."
Museveni's announcement followed the release of a statement on homosexuality by the Ugandan Ministry of Health. While the statement acknowledges the existence of gays across eras and cultures, stresses that homosexuality is not a disease, and observes that sexual orientation is shaped by genetic and non-genetic factors,  the report is nevertheless troubling. For example, the statement disparages sexual openness, insisting that "The present fad of sexual exhibitionism, both heterosexual and homosexual is alien and repugnant to most African cultures." Furthermore, the report suggest dubious theories on the psychosocial causes of homosexuality, attributing some instances of homosexuality to "indoctrination" or negative sexual experiences with the opposite sex.
"Psychosocial causes of homosexuality imply that it may be learned through experiences in life. Previous disastrous heterosexual encounters (e.g. erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation) may lead to aversion toward homosexual intercourse. A chance homosexual encounter in early life may be associated with sexual pleasure leading to homosexual relationships being associated with pleasure. The increasing influence of Western culture provides homosexuality as a choice one can make, it's therefore seen as a socially acceptable option for a few ... Whereas some homosexuals may take up the behaviour as an open choice, for others it may be due to indoctrination. In summary, homosexuality has no clear cut cause, several factors are involved which differ from individual to individual. It is not a disease that has a treatment."
Despite its insistence that homosexuality is not a disease or abnormality, the report correlates homosexuality with destructive behavior, namely child abuse.
"African cultures had contained sexual vices. May be [sic] we need to revisit them to contain the present explosion of overt and coercive homosexual activity with the exploitation of our young children."
Some from the world scientific community frowned on the report. Dean Hamer, scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, argued against the report's conclusions in a February 20th statement in the New York Times.

Uganda's National Resistance Movement released a statement citing the report and asserting "those who practice homosexuality for Mercenary reasons will not be tolerated", which left some of the report's contributors unhappy. In an interview with Peter G. Mwesieg of the African Centre for Media Excellence, report co-author Paul Bangirana expressed disappointment with how the report was interpreted. (Hat tip to Warren Throckmorton)
"We didn’t say homosexuality is an abnormality. We categorically state it is NOT an abnormality. We also report that there [may be] a biological basis for the behaviour but there is no conclusive link as of now. They left out some vital facts in our report.”
Now, Museveni has put the bill on hold in lieu of more scientific evidence. According to Reuters, Museveni has invited U.S. scientists to weigh in on whether homosexuality is a choice or a result of genetics. "I, therefore, encourage the US government to help us by working with our Scientists to study whether, indeed, there are people who are born homosexual.  When that is proved, we can review this legislation," he said in a statement posted at the Observer.

The Ugandan president's change in tune may stem from concerns over compromising Uganda's relationship with the U.S. "I would like to discourage the USA government from taking the line that passing this law will “complicate our valued relationship” with the USA as President Obama said.  Countries and Societies should relate with each other on the basis of mutual respect and independence in decision making," he said, according to the Observer.

What on earth is going on with Uganda's anti-gay bill? One moment, Uganda's president refuses to sign the bill, awaiting scientific input on the origins of homosexuality. Another moment, he agrees to sign the bill, condemning the "homosexual lobby" as a delighted NRM applauds. Now, he has declined to sign bill yet again, reaching out to U.S. scientists in search of more information on the origins of sexual orientation.

Perhaps Museveni is caught between appealing to anti-gay segments of Ugandan society and maintaining a civil relationship with western countries. Some commentators speculate that Museveni's earlier support for the legislation was an attempt to gain domestic support. For example, in a commentary piece at the Daily Maverick, Simon Allison speculated that Museveni was now supporting the bill to gain popular support at the expense of gay Ugandans.
"In this context, adopting populist measures such as the anti-gay bill is a good way for Museveni to shore up his own authority ... It’s not easy to keep hold of power for nearly 30 years. Along the way, Museveni has made enemies and sacrificed innocents in his bid to stay in State House. Uganda’s gay population is just the latest victim of his lust for power."
Similarly, in a commentary piece for the Daily Monitor, Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi argues that Museveni's earlier support for the bill was intended to earn conservative Ugandans' respect and distract supporters from other national problems.
"A leader rallying and perceived to be hated by the West because of new-found oil wealth and a high moral pedestal like rejection of homosexuality is a good sale to conservatives that many Ugandan tend to be.

Mr Museveni is also lucky to enjoy the support of the religious community in both the traditional churches and mosques as well as the born again movement that will certainly tend to ignore his political and economic failings and hail him as a defender of the country’s morality."
When the U.S. expressed its displeasure with Museveni's support for the bill, it may have reminded him of the stakes surrounding the bill. As President Museveni contemplates the anti-gay bill, LGBTQ rights supporters around the world will be watching Uganda intently.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

The Observer: What will anti-gay bill achieve?

Gay Star News: Uganda has twisted science to justify gay hate

Truth Wins Out: Truth Wins Out Appalled By Ugandan President Museveni’s Decision To Sign Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Religion Dispatches: Uganda Passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill Despite (or Due to?) U.S. Opposition

Political Research Associates: Uganda President Persecutes LGBTQ People For Political Power

Political Research Associates: Warning: U.S. LGBTQ Organizations Falling Into Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Trap

LGBTQ Rights Activists Demonstrate Outside Ugandan Embassy

Earlier this month, members of the Kuchu Diaspora Alliance protested against Uganda's proposed anti-gay law outside of the Ugandan embassy in Washington D.C. (Hat tip to Political Research Associates)

Members of the American Religious Right who have promoted homophobia in Uganda and defended the anti-gay bill must open their eyes. They must recognize how homophobia is corrosive to human rights, and how the draconian anti-gay law would harm the country's LGBTQ community.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Commentary Tidbits

A Cry for Justice: Open Letter to Authors of Christian Marriage Books

Sacred Matters: Why Do Americans Seem So Religious?

Frank Schaeffer: Do Evangelical Leaders Really Believe Their Own BS?

Huffington Post: This Is the Year Liberals Take Back Religion from Conservatives

GLAAD: The war on "gay propaganda" is happening in America too

Alternet: The Christian Right's Bizarre Delusions of Persecution

Friendly Atheist: In U.S., (Non-)Religiosity and Political Preference Are Heavily Linked. That’s Terrible News For the GOP.

Women's eNews: Religious Birth Control Barriers Block the Best RX

Confessions of a Heretic Husband: 5 Awesome Reasons to Leave Your Church

Feminist in Spite of Them: Two Messages that Children Internalize that Contribute to Bullying in Patriarchal Church and Homeschool Groups

News Tidbits

Wall Street Journal: Anti-Gay Americans Preach in Downtown Sochi

Philadelphia Gay News: Pennsylvania Pastors Network forms antigay coalition

The Lancet: Ghana's mental health patients confined to prayer camps

Jerusalem Post: ‘Kerry has declared a war on God,’ write hard-line rabbis in letter

Reuters: French conservatives march against government 'family-phobia'

Edge Boston: Mormon Church to Weigh in on Gay Marriage Ban

On Top Magazine: Michigan RNC Candidate Promotes Bible Passage Calling For Gays To Be Put To Death

South Bend Tribune: Vouchers, creationism raise questions

Gay Star News: Singapore anti-gay pastor behind petition targeting health ministry

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Voices from the Right Respond to UN Report on the Vatican

When the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report criticizing the Vatican's response to clergy abuse, secret children, LGBTQ equality, and other issues, church defenders were bound to get angry. Shortly after the committee released Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See, several voices from the Religious Right were quick to lambaste the report for its content on reproductive issues and sexual ethics.

First, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was furious with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In a February 6th column at Newsmax, Donohue accused the UN panel of wanting the Vatican to submit to UN authority, change church law, and abandon its traditional sexual ethics. Calling the hearing and report an "ambitious power-grab", Donohue accused the committee of "arrogance" and shortsightedness regarding Catholic sexual ethics.

Next, in a February 10th statement, Priests for Life national director Frank Pavone called the report "outrageous", angry at the report's stance on contraception and other reproductive health matters.
"The arrogance displayed by those who crafted this document is equal only to their ignorance and failure to understand that the Holy See is unwavering as it upholds the dignity of all life from conception to natural death.

The comments issued by this UN committee on abortion, contraception for youth and the promotion of homosexuality reveal the growing radicalization of UN treaty bodies. This assault on the basic principles of the Holy See and the Catholic Church will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to faithful Catholics around the world who have not yet realized the great struggles for life and family taking place at the United Nations."
Voices from the Heritage Foundation also weighed in. In a February 16th blog post at the Foundry, Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves accused the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child of "demanding that the Catholic Church abandon its fundamental religious doctrine to satisfy their interpretation of the [UN Convention on the Rights of the Child]. Schaefer and Groves accused the UN of hypocrisy in its condemnation of the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandals.
"The U.N. itself has a long history of problems with sexual abuse and a decidedly checkered record of holding those responsible to account. The Catholic Church’s problems with sexual abuse and transparency are widely known and must not be ignored, but this is clearly a case of the pots judging the kettle."
In my opinion, much of this is deflection from the report's damning observations on the Vatican's failings. Far from being an attack on religious belief or freedom, the report was a much-needed call for institutional responsibility in the Catholic Church. No matter what side of the political spectrum they cleave to, commentators need to take the UN report seriously and demand accountability from the Vatican.

Commentary Tidbits

Race Hochdorf: The Tyranny Of Fundamentalist Language

Religion News Service: Christians and the struggle to report child abuse

Haaretz: 'Dirty Jews' and the Christian right

LGBT Weekly: FRC miraculously draws conclusions on same-sex households where none exist

The Way Forward: The Bait and Switch Evangelistic Methods of Evangelicals

Alternet: The Simple Truth About Biblical Literalism and the Fundamentalists Who Promote It

Love, Joy, Feminism: Bill Gothard, Sexual Predator

Mother Jones: Christian Right Gears Up to Protest Religious Movie's Rescinded Oscar Nod

The Guardian: The French are on the march to safeguard family values

Vancouver Sun: God Loves Uganda a frightening, infuriating film

The Wartburg Watch: Threatening Emails Sent to TWW

News Tidbits

Religion News Service: Bob Jones University fires firm hired to investigate sex abuse

Christian Post: Petition to Ban Controversial Christian Parenting Book From Amazon Nears 100,000 Signatures

Huffington Post: Thomas S. Monson, Mormon President, Faced with Fraud Charges

Pennlive: Gun rights proponent Ted Nugent spares no indictment of the liberal left during Harrisburg visit

The Tennessean: Former SNL star Victoria Jackson may run for Williamson County Commission

Los Angeles Times: ACLU, religious leaders sue L.A. County over cross on seal

LGBTQ Nation: Josh Duggar, failed Lt. Gov. candidate headline anti-gay rally outside Virginia court

Associated Press: Vatican surveys find Catholics reject sex rules

Reuters: Disgraced Catholic order denounces founder, apologizes to victims

Christian Science Monitor: Real-life Philomena presses Pope to open Ireland's forced adoption files

News-Press Now: Missouri same-sex couple denied Communion

Raw Story: Peter LaBarbera calls for U.S. version of Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law

Gay Star News: Spanish prosecutors investigating Cardinal who called gay people 'defective'

UN Report Criticizes Vatican Over Abuse, Secret Children, LGBTQ Issues

As discussed in a prior post, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child grilled Vatican representatives about clergy abuse in the Catholic Church during a January 16th hearing in Geneva. Following that hearing, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a hard-hitting report on the Vatican's shortcomings in upholding the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See has much to say about clergy abuse of children, priests' offspring, and LGBTQ issues.

Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See applauds the Vatican for its charitable work with children. However, the report also expressed concern over the lack of a "child-rights based approach" in how resources have been allocated to children.
"The Committee appreciates the numerous activities undertaken at grass-roots level and funded by Catholic churches, foundations and organisations worldwide to support and protect children in the most vulnerable situations and to provide them, among others, with education opportunities, health, social, care and other family support services. The Committee however notes the absence of a comprehensive child-rights based approach to the allocation of resources to children and the lack of a system to track the spending on children by the Holy See, as well as by church related organizations and institutions, in other States parties where the Holy See has influence and impact."
Regarding sexual abuse, the report acknowledges the Vatican's steps toward accountability while adding that more needs to be done to monitor religious institutions and individuals under the Catholic Church's authority.
"The Committee notes that a Special Office was established in August 2013 to oversee the implementation of international agreements to which the Vatican City State is a party and that the Commission created in December 2013 will be empowered to receive children’s complaints on sexual abuse. The Committee is however concerned that the Holy See has not established a mechanism to monitor respect for and compliance with children’s rights by individuals and institutions of a religious nature under the authority of the Holy See, including all Catholic schools, as well as in the Vatican City State."
The report pulled no punches with regard to the Catholic Church's protection of abuse perpetrators at the expense of child victims.
"The Committee is particularly concerned that in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry."
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child slammed the Catholic Church for not acknowledging the extend of child sexual abuse perpetrated by its clergy, for transferring priests accused of abuse, and for forcing clergy to remain silent on the scourge.
"The Committee nevertheless expresses its deepest concern about child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide. The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the 
continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators ... Well-known child sexual abusers have been transferred from parish to parish or to other countries in an attempt to cover-up such crimes, a practice documented by numerous national commissions of inquiry ... Due to a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law enforcement authorities in the countries where such crimes occurred. On the contrary, cases of nuns and priests ostracized, demoted and fired for not having respected the obligation of silence have been reported to the Committee as well as cases of priests who have been congratulated for refusing to denounce child abusers ..."
Another skeleton in the church's closet -- children secretly fathered by priests -- was brought to light by the report, which urged the Holy See to "assess the number of children born of Catholic priests, find out who they are and take all the necessary measures to ensure the rights of these children to know and to be cared for by their fathers, as appropriate." The report expressed concern over confidentiality agreements that the mothers of these children have been compelled to sign in exchange for financial support.
"The Committee is concerned about the situation of children born of Catholic priests, who, in many cases, are not aware of the identity of their fathers. The Committee is also concerned that the mothers may obtain a plan for regular payment from the Church until the child is financially independent only if they sign a confidentiality agreement not to disclose any information."
Ireland's infamous Magdalene Laundries, in which girls and women were incarcerated, forced to perform unpaid labor, and even abused, came up in the report. The committee called for justice for victims of the Magdalene Laundries, which had ties to the Catholic Church.
"The Committee is concerned that the Holy See has not taken the necessary measures to protect and ensure justice for girls arbitrarily placed by their families, State institutions and churches in the Magdalene laundries of Ireland run by four congregations of Catholic Sisters until 1996."
Finally, the report frowned upon the Holy See's position on LGBTQ rights, criticizing its homophobic statements and calling for greater church activism toward LGBTQ equality.
"While also noting as positive the progressive statement delivered in July 2013 by Pope Francis, the Committee is concerned about the Holy See’s past statements and declarations on homosexuality which contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples ... The Committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents and to support efforts at international level for the decriminalisation of homosexuality."
The Catholic Church and its defenders were unhappy with the report, accusing the committee of challenging its religious freedom and doctrine. The Holy See responded to the report with a February 5th press statement, in which it stressed its "commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child." However, the statement also criticized the report for allegedly trying to interfere with Catholic doctrine.
"The Holy See does, however, regret to see in some points of the Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom."
Vatican Radio reports that Father Hans Zollner of the Institute of Psychology at the Gregorian University in Rome and Centre for the Protection of Minors, stated that the report was “harsh in parts but recognises that the Holy See and the Church as a whole has made steps forward.” Regarding committee observations on LGBTQ issues and contraception, Zollner complained that "it looks as if some people ... just wanted to make their point".

Finally, in a post at USCCBlog, Sister Mary Ann Walsh defended the Catholic Church, insisting that it has "certainly done more than any other international organization to face the problem [of child sexual abuse] and it will continue to lead in doing so." However, she was disappointed that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticized the Catholic Church for its stance on LGBTQ issues and contraception, framing their criticism as an affront to religious liberty.
"A report from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child highlights the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. Unfortunately the report is weakened by including objections to Catholic teaching on such issues as gay marriage, abortion and contraception. This seems to violate the U.N.’s obligation from its earliest days to defend religious freedom. In 1948, the organization adopted its Universal Declaration of Human Rights that declared that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion." Certainly the U.N. charge to defend religious freedom includes defending the Church’s right to determine its own teachings. Defense of religious freedom is no small matter in a world where people, including children, get murdered for simply going to church. That’s what happened last September when militants killed 81 people, including children, attending Sunday school at a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan."
Clergy abuse victims' advocates condemned the Vatican's response and applauded the report. Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), blasted the Catholic Church for deflecting attention away from the abuse-related content of the report.
"The vast bulk of the United Nations panel's findings have nothing to do with birth control, homosexuality, abortion or doctrine. But the church hierarchy ignores this because deep down, they know they cannot defend the indefensible – their consistent, deliberate, and selfish decisions that safeguard their own reputations and hurt their own flocks.

It's disingenuous for Catholic officials to trot out the “religious freedom” canard when confronted with uncontroverted evidence of massive wrongdoing."
Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, welcomed the report. "This day has been a long time coming, but the international community is finally holding the Vatican accountable for its role in enabling and perpetuating sexual violence in the Church," she said, adding that the "whole world will be watching" to ensure that the Catholic Church protects children from clergy abuse.

The new report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is a powerful call for church accountability.  A major human rights body has made a public statement on the world stage, urging the Vatican to work more diligently to tackle its child abuse scandals and anti-gay statements. As much as the Catholic hierarchy and its defenders may try to divert the public conversation surrounding the report toward religious freedom and doctrinal orthodoxy, the report's observations still stand.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: SNAP rebuts criticism of UN report

New York Times: The U.N. Confronts the Vatican

Religion Dispatches: Vatican, ‘Cool Pope’ Blast UN Link Between Sexual Abuse Scandal and Church Attitudes on Gays, Contraception, Abortion

The Atlantic: Can the UN Change the Church's Views on Abortion and Gay Rights?

Friday, February 7, 2014

"Putin Rap" by His Emineminence (featuring V. Piddy)

The Sochi Winter Olympics have begun, but not without controversy. Russia's anti-gay law (a policy supported by American Religious Right figures) has drawn condemnation from around the world, despite Vladimir Putin's reluctance to address the law during the Olympics. With the world's attention on Sochi, the anti-gay law has drawn condemnation from world leaders, human rights activists, major cities, and businesses.

Irish actor Dermot Magennis has joined the outcry. Magennis just released a hilarious, profanity-laced music video slamming Putin for Russia's treatment of gays. (Hat tip to the Advocate.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Commentary Tidbits

Overturning Tables: Changing the Homeschool Narrative: Child Advocacy in Richmond

The Cosmic Cathedral: Babel, Pentecost, and the House of Prayer: My Time at IHOP-KC

The Atlantic: The Facebook of Mormon

Towleroad: Christian Rapper Bizzle Records Anti-Gay Version of Macklemore's 'Same Love'

Religion News Service: The church’s role in, and against, homophobia across Africa

Toronto Star: Gays in Africa face rise in state-sponsored homophobia

RH Reality Check: Anti-Choicers Drop the ‘Life’ Pretense, Increasingly Admit They’re Angry About Sex

Slate: What happens when public schools become churches on Sundays?

New York Times: The Polish Church’s Gender Problem

Think Progress: Focus On The Family: Nondiscrimination Protections Discriminate Against Christians

News Tidbits

Yahoo News: How Rick Santorum is laying the groundwork for another presidential run

Edge Boston: Kirk Cameron Slams Grammys, Plugs New Movie

The Advocate: Catholics Urge Pope Francis to Speak Out for LGBT Rights

Gay Star News: African Anglican bishops warn Church of England to back off on gay issue

Pink News: Christian billboard campaign attacks gay rights in Mexico

Pink News: Northern Ireland AG: The UK Supreme Court’s pro-gay ruling forces Christians to be ‘complicit’ with sin

Associated Press: Group seeks criminal probes of Catholic order

Religion News Service: Ham-on-Nye debate pits atheists, creationists

RT: Russian orthodox Patriarch calls to prevent ‘any attempt’ to legalize same-sex marriage

Huffington Post: Pastor Steven Andrew Says President Obama Follows Satan And Encourages 'Homosexual Sin' In 'God's State Of The Union'

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Problems with Early Marriage

In an earlier post, I discussed the attitudes of some Christian fundamentalists toward child marriage (marriage before age 18). What about fundamentalist attitudes toward early marriage, that is, marriage in one's late teens or early twenties? Despite the positive consequences of delaying marriage, and despite the fact that not all young people wish to marry, some fundamentalist Christian voices champion early marriage.

After I posted the commentary piece on child marriage,  R.L. Stollar shared a conservative essay on early marriage with me. In 2009, Christianity Today published a commentary piece by Mark Regnerus entitled "The Case for Early Marriage". Regnerus, the researcher behind a controversial and loudly condemned paper on same-sex parents, claims that Americans are damaging the institution of marriage by delaying it and argues in favor of early marriage.

What stunned me about the essay was Regnerus' casual dismissal of real problems that can erupt when couples marry too young. Regnerus claims that most Christian couples learn to avoid early marriage pitfalls that lead to divorce (a claim that evidence refutes). While admitting that early marriage can contribute to poverty, he fails to recognize poverty as a hardship to be avoided, insisting that marriages experience challenges, including financial challenges.

While he admits that marrying early in life increases the risk of a poor match, he claims that marriage is less about compatible personalities and more about sound practice. Good habits such as open communication, conflict resolution, and recognition of marriage as a "sacred covenant" can help couples overcome problems together. He ignores the fact that poorly matched couples can be deeply unhappy, and that sometimes no amount of good communication can overcome incompatible personalities.

Much of the essay rested on stereotypical assumptions about sex, gender, and relationships. Regnerus argues that the ratio of devout Christian men to women is skewed, meaning that some Christian women are forced to "marry down in terms of Christian maturity." He resorts to gender stereotypes about sexuality, claiming that many men are eager to start sexual relationships before marriage, and that Christian women are reluctant to do so. The idea that Christian women might freely engage in pre-marital sex for the sake of their own enjoyment is not considered. This alleged situation leads to Christian women supposedly holding out for "godly, chaste, uncommon" suitors and delaying marriage.

Regnerus conflates marriage with maturity, claiming that too many immature men are delaying marriage and thereby perpetuating their own adolescence. He fails to realize that marriage does not automatically bestow maturity, that maturity can be attained through avenues other than marriage, and that people postpone marriage for any number of valid reasons.

Regnerus is not alone. Other Christian commentators have echoed many of these assumptions, attributing delayed marriage to misguided "worship of education" and "an epidemic of adults who are over-sized children". The claim that men have supposedly grown immature and juvenile in modern times is a well-worn Religious Right chestnut, despite the lack of evidence, and this assumption feeds into early marriage arguments. If these assumptions are gaining ground among conservative Christians, how should the rest of us respond?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I think it's important to understand what vision of marriage Regnerus and company are championing. In their conservative Christian paradigm, marriage is a nigh-mandatory rite of passage, a marker of adulthood with clearly defined roles for husband and wife. Marriage is correlated with emotional maturity, and singleness with immaturity and prolonged adolescence. So much importance is placed on this rite of passage that other considerations, such as educational attainment or economic stability, are deemed less important.

The problem is, marriage is not synonymous with maturity or full adulthood. Some people mature before they marry, and some remain immature even if they marry young. Some people do not wish to marry at all! Christians need to demolish this false correlation between marriage and maturity in order to look at romantic relationships with clear eyes. Reducing wedded union to a cold, nigh-mandatory rite of passage does a disservice to marriage, which can and should be a loving relationship.

Also, practical considerations surrounding marriage should not be dismissed. The fact is, early adulthood is not the best time for many young people to wed. For young people, education is important. Securing a good job is important. Building up a nest egg is important. Dismissing these important tasks can throw a wrench in young people's lives in the form of underemployment, unemployment, and poverty. If young people can take steps to avoid these eventualities, they should, even if that means postponing marriage until a more opportune time arrives.

Furthermore, postponing marriage increases the likelihood of a healthy wedded life. Maturity, compatible personalities, and self-awareness are vital to a happy marriage, and these qualities often take years to fully develop. While some people who marry young do possess these qualities, they're much more likely to crystallize a few years down the road. As University of Illinois economics professor Evelyn Lehrer observes:
"Young people often have inadequate self-knowledge and are uncertain about their own future prospects and potential. They are also prone to misjudge the characteristics and likely trajectories of their partners. In addition, many of their adult attributes have not yet even emerged, making it difficult for them to select a mate who will be compatible as both partners mature. A very young age at marriage is one of the best predictors of divorce."
Let's not forget that the marriage paradigm being championed here is a heterosexual one. The assumption at work in the above narratives is that all Christians are heterosexual, and that Christian men are to marry Christian women. LGBTQ persons might wish to marry a same-sex partner but find themselves impeded by homophobic community attitudes or discriminatory marriage laws. In conversations about marriage, it's vital to remember that sexual diversity is part of the equation.

In short, the conversation surrounding Christian marriage needs to be nuanced and grounded in reality. Fortunately, new research is introducing nuance and practicality into that conversation. Will conservative Christians take notice?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

In America's changing economic landscape, early marriage does not necessarily serve any useful function, and may actually create unstable families. If conservative Christians want to encourage stable, resilient families, they need to recognize the merits of postponing marriage.

In their 2010 book, Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone explore the links between conservative sexual values, early marriage, economic stress, and divorce. Red Families v. Blue Families delves into the marriage and family dynamics of those who espouse conservative values compared to their "blue state" counterparts. Cahn and Carbone demonstrate that early marriage and childbearing are not necessarily correlated with stable marriages, due in part to economic changes that make early marriage and parenthood financially stressful.
"Rooted in the urban middle class, the coasts and the "blue states" in the last three presidential elections, the Blue Family Paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready. By contrast, the Red Family Paradigm--associated with the Bible Belt, the mountain west, and rural America--rejects these new family norms, viewing the change in moral and sexual values as a crisis. In this world, the prospect of teen childbirth is the necessary deterrent to premarital sex, marriage is a sacred undertaking between a man and a woman, and divorce is society's greatest moral challenge. Yet, the changing economy is rapidly eliminating the stable, blue collar jobs that have historically supported young families, and early marriage and childbearing derail the education needed to prosper. The result is that the areas of the country most committed to traditional values have the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates, fueling greater calls to reinstill traditional values."
In a May 2010 interview with All Things Considered, June Carbone explained that delaying marriage contributes to successful, stable marriages.
"... we find that people who do marry later late 20s, early 30s you've got a pretty good sense who's going to be successful and stable and a good marriage partner at 30. You're still guessing at 22. So one of the things that's happened is with a later average age of marriage, successful people are more likely to marry other successful people. And what you're finding is the group that is getting married at that later age knows what they're doing."
Recently, fresh research has contributed more evidence to the conversation. Jennifer Glass and Philip Levchak conducted a study of divorce rates across the U.S. and found that a dense concentration of evangelical or conservative protestants predicted high divorce rates. Furthermore, Glass and Levchak found a correlation between high divorce rates and early age of first marriage and first birth among religious conservatives. Lower educational attainment and lower incomes among conservative protestants also contributed to high divorce rates. A summary of the study at the Council on Contemporary Families website explained how conservative religious climates discourage higher educational attainment and marriage postponement.
"Glass and Levchak believe that this comes from living in a cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support from schools or community institutions for young people to get more education and postpone marriage and children. Abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control and abortion, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of secular education (especially higher education) among the populace in religiously conservative counties work to create an environment where young people of every religious belief – or none – tend not to pursue higher education or job training, and instead to engage in early marriage and child-bearing."
In short, if we want to help prevent economic hardships and unhappy marriages, we need to talk to young people about postponing marriage and choosing good partners. We need to educate young people about healthy relationships and healthy sexuality. We need to remind our young people that marriage is an important relationship, not a rite of passage and not something to enter hastily. We need to value education and financial literacy, and make these accessible to all. We need to strengthen anti-poverty initiatives and help those at risk of poverty. We need to see the connections. Michelle Goldberg sums up the situation succinctly in a January 22nd commentary at the Nation.
"Now, marriage can be great—that’s why liberals spend so much time fighting for marriage equality. But encouraging people to get married before they’re ready and encouraging them to put off having sex until they wed is a recipe for family instability. “Clearly you can’t put people with few relationship skills and few resources together at a really young age and saddle them with children and expect them to survive,” says Glass.

The blue state model—marriage is delayed; responsible premarital sex is approved—simply works better. That means emphasizing sex education and access to contraception and abortion while letting go of the fantasy of the male-breadwinner family. It means accepting that abstinence until marriage wouldn’t be a useful goal even it was realistic. It means realizing, once and for all, that conservative family values don’t work to conserve actual families."

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Dianna E. Anderson: The Case for Early Marriage? Confusing Is and Ought

Halfway to Normal: Why the case for early marriage worries me

HerMeneutics: A Christian Case Against Early Marriage

Christian Pundit: The Nauseating Push by Evangelicals for Early Marriage