Monday, September 30, 2013

The Botkins' "Ready for Real Life" Webinar", Part I

Introduction: Botkins Launch Webinar on Making Kids "Ready for Real Life"
Part I: Ready for What?
Part II: Are Your Children Ready for Real Life?
Part III: Arts and Culture
Part IV: Science and Medicine
Part V: History and Law
Part VI: Vocations
Part VII: Q&A Session

As discussed in a prior post, Geoffrey Botkin of the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences is hosting the "Ready for Real Life" webinar series. "Ready for Real Life" is a seven-part audio series on how Christian homeschooling families should educate their children. Alongside his wife Victoria, his son Isaac, and his daughters Elizabeth and Anna Sophia, Geoffrey Botkin praises Christian homeschooling as a means of resisting a supposedly overbearing government and striving toward Christ. I purchased access to "Ready for Real Life", and over the next few weeks, I will post content and commentary from the webinar series.

In webinar #1, "Ready for What?", Geoffrey Botkin argues that Christian homeschooling is more than just education inside the house. Rather, home education is Biblical education. He acknowledge that homeschooling is demanding on parents, especially mothers, requiring a great deal of time and emotional investment. However, such hardships are worthwhile for the sake of one's children and country, Geoffrey Botkin claimed. At the 3:50 mark, he assured homeschooling mothers that their efforts were a declaration of defiance against "political enemies" who despise Christ.
"Did you mommies know that simply keeping your children at home and teaching them that B says 'buh' and G says 'guh' is such a powerful declaration of freedom and academic integrity that your political enemies -- and yes, you have political enemies that hate what you're doing and and all the powers who hate Jesus Christ are losing sleep over your act of defiance and heroic political will. You mothers really are heroes. We want you to know that!"
Christian homeschooling constitutes some of the most important work for the kingdom of God taking place in the 21st century, he told listeners. Homeschooling families are changing the world by teaching math, language arts, and "real" history, he said (an asserting that made me cackle in light of Botkin's participation in a revisionist history conference this summer).

At the 5:25 mark, Botkin celebrated Christian homeschooling as a challenge to "all controlling" governments, demonizing the American government alongside Russia and China. 
"Home education is the most effective challenge to every runaway, all-controlling government from Germany to Russia to China -- every nation that has surrendered liberty to a national curriculum, and that's what our country has done."
Homeschooling is more than a "lifestyle option", he insisted, but rather serves as a way for parents to lead their children through a "very treacherous battleground". Christians do not want their children to be pushovers for government or culture, he said, so they must find ways to raise their offspring with wisdom, no matter how "confused" the church becomes on real-life issues. Geoffrey Botkin told listeners that he wanted his children to face the 21st century with "boldness" and stand tall when "enemies scream at them".

A Biblical foundation for children's education, he explained, is a correct attitude toward children. Citing Luke 1:17, he invoked John the Baptist turning the hearts of the fathers back to their children to prepare for the Lord's arrival as a metaphor for the right parental attitude. Geoffrey Botkin used himself as an example of a father whose heart was turned toward his offspring. Initially, he described himself as a former "bad guy" who was once a "disobedient Marxist" before he embraced Christianity. Now, he has rejected the Marxist vision of social transformation in favor of the fundamentalist Christianity vision of changing cultures through families. When his wife Victoria was pregnancy with their first child, Isaac, God turned his heart to his child, he told listeners.

Next, Victoria Botkin spoke at length about motherhood and homeschooling. At the 15:00 mark, she claimed that our "culture of egotism" has encouraged women to see their children as annoyances and assume that their lives are their own (!). She casts feminism not as a movement that liberates and values women, but as a negative force alongside materialism.
"We have been raised in a culture of feminism and materialism, and of course, those things have been around a very long time. But our generation, I think, may be unique in that we have been raised in such a culture of egotism. Women have been encouraged to think that the only thing that's really important is self-fulfillment. We've been strongly encouraged to think of our lives as our own. We've been encouraged to think of our children as a nuisance."
Victoria spoke of her life as a mother of young children, when she found it difficult to balance child rearing with other activities. For instance, she loved sewing, but quickly grew annoyed when her children would interrupt her sewing time. After reflecting on Matthew 18:9 ("If your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out"), she gave up sewing completely so that she could devote more attention to her children. In another example, she heard another woman holding up Maria from The Sound of Music as a role model because she loved being with children. Victoria liked this idea and wanted to have such a relationship with her own children, but struggled to balance time with her children with household duties such as cleaning and cooking. If she incorporated children into household tasks, he realized, she would not need to take time out away from them.

As Victoria continued, she continued to depict Christian homeschooling and child rearing as a task without rest for mothers. At the 18:29 mark, she explained that full-time motherhood and homeschooling meant no opportunities for recreation or socializing.
"We had a relative visiting, a woman about my age who asked me, 'Well, do you ever get to do anything YOU want to do?' Her question stopped me cold, and I knew what she meant. She meant going out shopping with a friend, or going out to lunch and an art exhibit like she did. And for a minute I was tempted to go down the road of self-pity because no, I never did do any of those things. But then, it was like a little voice inside me pointed out that this was a trick question, and all of you who've been to public school know what a trick question is. And I realized in reality, I got to do what I wanted to do all the time, and not just once a month or once a week or whatever like she did. I got to do what I wanted to do all the time because I loved being with my children. I loved taking care of them and living with them and learning with them, and it was just exactly what I wanted to do, and I got to do it all the time."
Quoting Psalm 37:4 ("Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart"), Victoria claimed that when she chose to find delight in her offspring, God made that the desire of her heart.

Victoria Botkin's commentary troubled me, and not just because of the cognitive dissonance. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the life of a stay-at-home mother, but neglecting all other activities is unhealthy. I love my job, but if I worked in the office from sun-up to sundown seven days a week, I'd be a basketcase. I take great pleasure in gardening, but if I spent every waking moment cultivating my garden without any time set aside for hobbies, volunteering, or a social life, I'd be miserable. Victoria Botkin's advice is a recipe for burnout, as she fails to recognize the need for balance and rest in mother's lives.

Victoria elaborated on the content of homeschooling, citing Deuteronomy 6 as a foundational text. Parents not only need to teach children to love God, make disciples, and take dominion of the earth, but also need to teach reading, writing, geography, science, and current events so that they can operate in the world. For instance, homeschooling parents should teach children history so they can see "God's workings in the affairs of men", civics so children know how government works versus how it's "supposed" to work, and media literacy so children recognize how the media "twists" coverage of current events to manipulate viewers. At the 22:40 mark, she rejected the idea of teaching academic subjects apart from God, insisting that it would render subjects "meaningless".
"The public schools pretend to teach all these things, but there's one big difference, and it is a colossal difference. If we are obedient to God's sacred command to parents in Deuteronomy 6, we will be teaching all these things in light of the sovereign God who made all things and who rules all things by his might forever. And we simply cannot pretend that math, science, or history are secular subjects and they're neutral. Being taught as kids are in public school that science, math and history were and are random happenings makes them meaningless, and that's why these are the subjects that were especially boring in public school. Meaningless, random facts aren't interesting or relevant. As Christians, I believe we need to teach our children to love learning about God's ways and God's deeds, and that includes loving to study science, math and so on."
Children will love what their parents love, Victoria claimed, and thus parents should model a love of learning to their children. If Christians love God, they will long to understand God's workings in all things, including science and history.

But what if science and history show your children facts that don't agree with fundamentalist Christianity? What will you do if knowledge leads them to question your fundamentalism? I thought.

Geoffrey Botkin stressed that parents must cultivate correct knowledge about their children. Children are "godly seed", not pupils or accessories, he argued. The Bible teaches that children are weapons of war, he added, asking listeners if they were truly acting like warriors. Like other fundamentalist voices, Geoffrey Botkin described children as torchbearers for a fundamentalist agenda.

On the subject of discipline, Geoffrey Botkin insisted on absolute obedience from children. He spoke approvingly of spanking and "the rod", and discouraged parents from countenancing any form of disobedience from their offspring.
"Discipline is not an option in your home. You have to bring discipline and order to your home. Disobedience is not an option in your home. Children cannot disobey parents, ever, either outwardly or passively. They can't roll their eyes ... We have to be very quick to rebuke them and reprove them in a way that we want. The rod and reprove give wisdom ... Did we spank our children? Yes, we did spank our children. And there were times that there were children who were easy to spank, and children that were literally impossible and difficult to spank. And did we want to give up on that? Sure we did. And there were many times when I would come home and I would need to encourage Victoria and say, 'Honey, were you faithful in obeying the Lord in this? Because when you discipline your children, they will delight your soul, and they haven't delighted your soul today.'"
Throughout the webinar, the Botkins addressed listener comments. One commenter asked the Botkins how he and his wife could "detox" from the "garbage" they learned in public school. Geoffrey Botkin replied that they must replace their old public school teachings with "Biblical truth". Public school teachings are part of a larger flawed culture, Geoffrey Botkin claimed. We live in a "dirty toxic nation" that is "pagan", he insisted, lamenting that many Protestant churches have embraced dubious ideas steeped in Greco-Roman thought.

WHICH Greco-Roman ideas? I thought. Greek and Roman thought was not monolithic. Why are you lumping it all together and discarding it?

Geoffrey Botkin's disdain for Greek and Roman cultural contributions ran deep. Another listener asked about the role of Latin and classical texts in home education, to which Geoffrey Botkin gave a polemical response. At the 56:11 mark, he associated Latin with "pagan" indoctrination, caricaturing classical thought as anthropocentric and monolithic. 
"Latin was basic to the initiation process of pagan or deeply compromised academics to gain control over the training of each generation of Christian leaders in England and America. And it was the kind of thing that we must be careful about because the classics are pagan. Greek and Roman literature and philosophy is pagan. They were based on the premise that man is the total measure of everything, than man's reason is ultimate. It's such a toxic thing if our children begin to pick this up and become arrogant."
In conclusion, the Botkins' first installment of the "Ready for Real Life" series urged parents to homeschool their children with fundamentalist principles at the forefront. Their webinar placed great importance on parental involvement, the Bible, and studying subjects through a fundamentalist Christian filter. Several recurring themes became apparent.

  • Children as Torchbearers -- Christian homeschooling, for the Botkins, is a deeply political act. Geoffrey and Victoria Botkins saw their Christian homeschooling efforts as a means of raising children for future Christian dominion. Children were compared to weapons and arrows in a quiver, and their home education was intended to produce future Christians who would resist messages from society and the state. 

  • Dominionism -- The Botkins repeatedly presented Christian homeschooling as a means by which Christians were to exercise dominion and train the next generation for dominion. Geoffrey Botkin spoke warmly of spoke of the Christian reconstructionist author R. J. Rushdoony, whose books were required reading in the Botkin household. He even celebrated Rushdoony's Institutes in Biblical Law as a "dinner table reference book" in the family's conversations about current events. 

  • Christian Patriarchy -- The roles that Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin prescribed for parents and children were heavily gendered. Women were expected to be stay-at-home mothers and devote themselves entirely to the education and upbringing of their offspring. Geoffrey Botkin also encouraged mothers to treat their sons like men, not boys, so as to prepare them to be future leaders. Revealingly, he did not say the same about daughters.  

  • Obedience -- The Botkins called for children's absolute obedience to their parents, as well as parents' absolute obedience to God and the Bible.

  • Disdain with the Outside World -- The webinar was riddled with condemnation of the state, public schools, humanism, feminism, alleged "political enemies", and society in general. Christian homeschooling was presented as a form of resistance to "runaway, all-controlling government", in keeping with Geoffrey Botkin's fears of statism. Public schools were denigrated as ungodly learning environments that stuffed students' minds with "garbage". "Anyone who went through the American public education system in the last thirty years is not totally ignorant, but mostly ignorant," Geoffrey Botkin insisted at the 58:25 mark. Society at large was demonized as "dirty" and "pagan", with Christian dominion as the only true antidote to its ills. In short, the outside world, with its diversity and secularism, was framed as a malevolent force that Christian homeschool families must resist.

Stay tuned for commentary on the rest of the Botkin's "Ready for Real Life" webinar series!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Commentary Tidbits

SPLC Hatewatch: Evangelical Broadcasters to Drop Controversial Course, at Very Last Minute

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da: Scott Lively Denied Second Motion to Dismiss Crimes Against Humanity Charges

Bilerico Project: Fundies Getting Desperate as Public Embraces Equality

What Would J.T. Do?: Students for Life attempts to set the record for most lies in three minutes

Alternet: 10 Ways Religious Groups Suck on the Public Purse

Salon: The 5 least Christian things ever said by Christians 

News Tidbits

Religion News Service: Billy Graham’s grandson: evangelicals ‘worse’ than Catholic Church on sex abuse

Washington Post: Group wants dialogue with vandals of Ten Commandments statue

UPI: Susan Boyle to make her film debut in Rick Santorum-produced movie

Global News: Canada: Fredericton church volunteer dismissed over sexual orientation

Washington Blade: Harry Jackson to deliver keynote at ‘ex-gay’ event

Ms. Magazine: Catholics for Choice Challenges the Vatican's Role at the UN

Two Riveting Shows on the Quiverfull Movement

Many of my readers are familiar with the Quiverfull movement, a subset of the Christian Patriarchy Movement. The Quiverfull movement believes that children are blessings from God, and that couples should have as many children as God bestows upon them. The movement rejects contraception and natural family planning, espouses rigid gender roles, and has a prominent presence in the Christian homeschooling movement. Books such as Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce, as well as blogs such as No Longer Quivering, Quivering Daughters, and Love, Joy, Feminism, are invaluable sources of information on Quiverfull life.

I'd like to highlight two recent shows about the Christian Quiverfull movement. First, Reasonable Doubts recent devoted a podcast to Vyckie Garrison, a former Quiverfull woman who blogs at No Longer Quivering. Garrison discusses her motivations for joining Quiverfull as well as the physical and psychological toll it took on her and her loved ones.

Reasonable Doubts, Episode 118: Quivering (Part I) with Guest Vyckie Garrison

Second, BBC World Service devoted an episode of Heart and Soul to the Quiverfull movement in the United Kingdom. Heart and Soul highlights Quiverfull voices such as Nancy Campbell (of Above Rubies ministry fame), who dramatically praises motherhood and frowns upon feminism. The show also devoted attention to ex-Quiverfull campaigners such as Vyckie Garrison and Heather Doney. Garrison and Doney bring attention to the abuses and unreasonable demands of Quiverfull life, as well as its unsettling racial undertones and dominionist ambitions. 

BBC Heart and Soul: A Womb is a Weapon

I encourage readers to listen to both shows, which are startling and eye-opening.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Commentary Tidbits

Alternet: Meet the American Religious Right Figures Thrilled by Russia's Brutal Anti-Gay Laws

Right Wing Watch: Lively: Russia's Anti-Gay Law Is 'One Of The Proudest Achievements Of My Career'

Equality Matters: Here Are The Anti-LGBT Media Figures Speaking At This Year's Values Voters Summit

The New Civil Rights Movement: Controversial 10 Commandments Sculpture Vandalized Across From US Supreme Court

Salon: Family Research Council: “Nothing more Christian” than kicking 4 million people off food stamps

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests: Pope’s new comments don’t protect kids

Herald Scotland: The Christian 'missionaries' at work in our schools

The Unedited Life: How Far Fallen?

News Tidbits

New York Times: Catholic College Rescinds Invitation to Speaker Defending Same-Sex Marriage

CNN: Ex-pope breaks silence, denies sex abuse cover up

Washington Post: Male-only Mormon conference session to be broadcast live for first time

Radio Netherlands Worldwide: Zimbabwean 'prophets' claim holy healing; others say rape

Monday, September 23, 2013

Taiwan: Religious Coalition Opposes Same-Sex Marriage with Outrageous Rhetoric

The struggle for LGBTQ equality is taking place across the globe, and Taiwan's struggle has been gaining international attention. Taiwan currently does not recognize same-sex marriages, but the country's LGBTQ rights supporters are speaking out in favor of marriage equality. Earlier this month, over 1,200 Taiwanese took part in a mock wedding banquet organized by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights to voice their support for marriage equality. In 2012, two women wed during Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding, reports AFP, sending a powerful statement to the country's LGBTQ community.

Unfortunately, Taiwan has its own Religious Right that opposes marriage equality and promotes toxic stereotypes about LGBTQ people. The Taipei Times reports that a coalition of religious groups called the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan* has publicly condemned same-sex marriage. The coalition recently hosted a press conference at the Legislative Yuan to proclaim their signature campaign to prevent the Taiwanese parliament from legalizing same-sex marriage.

“Legalizing same-sex marriage is a reverse tide in the international movement for sexual liberation. It is not progressive, rather, it is a downward step that will lead to the collapse of civilizations,” said Unification Church Taiwan vice president Paul Chang. “Legalizing same-sex marriage is legalizing adultery, incest and group sex,” he insisted.

Taiwan Lutheran Church bishop Chen Chih-hung alleged that legalizing same-sex marriage would encourage homosexuality and undermine heterosexual marriage. He warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would allegedly end family lineages. “If, one day, after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage is passed, if your child or grandchild tells you that he or she is homosexual, and thus your family lineage would stop right there, can you accept it?” Chen Chih-hung asked. He outrageously claimed that same-sex marriage would cause a decline in Taiwan's birth rate and an increase in HIV infections, according to the Taipei Times.

Sound familiar? The homophobic statements of the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families echo those of the western Religious Right. East and West, homophobes falsely associate same-sex marriage with sexual depravity, HIV, and the corrosion of civilization itself. Fortunately, voices in Taiwan's press and religious community are condemning the coalition.

First, a September 21st editorial in the Taipei Times called the alliance's anti-gay statements "an appalling amount of claptrap and intolerance". The editorial tackled the flawed claims of the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families, adding that the coalitions claims were irrational and unloving.
"While everyone has the right to their own view on what does or should constitute a legal marriage, the pronouncements made by some of the religious representatives should not go unchallenged, especially because they fall into the same broad categories used by bigots of all stripes worldwide.

The first of these fallacies was “the end of civilization as we know it” warning ... This warning is almost as old as time itself and is used for every manner of dire predictions. Civilizations do collapse, but as a result of a combination of factors including environmental and climate changes, hostile neighbors and social or cultural problems."
The editorial contested the claim that same-sex marriage will result in population decline, reminding readers that many factors affect a person's choice whether or not to procreate.
"Women are choosing to have fewer children because of greater education and job opportunities for them, rising costs of education and living, lack of affordable childcare and other socio-economic factors. Same-sex unions are not a factor. Pressure from parents on their descendants can be intense, but that does not always lead to good marriages or children. Being gay also does not mean you cannot procreate or be a good parent."
Next, the China Post news staff was equally critical of the coalition's homophobic statements, calling their claims illogical and ill-informed in a September 21st commentary.
"That these anti-gay marriage groups have the freedom to state an opinion cannot guarantee their attention to basic logic. Whether you believe homosexuality is a genetic condition or a personal choice, legalizing same-sex marriage can do as much to create more homosexual people as installing Braille can lead to blindness, but it does have the potential to lend dignity to the lives of these individuals and reduce the public and private discrimination which they currently face."

Finally, in a September 22nd commentary at the China Post,  Daniel J. Bauer reflected on the coalition's statements as a Catholic priest. He expressed dismay at the ridiculous claims made at the coalition press conference, pointing out the gaping holes in their statements.
"One fact that should bother thinking people is the alarmist spirit of the entire press conference. These religious leaders had the right to speak their minds, no question about that. But what was on their minds?

It is not acceptable to be a homosexual? What does that mean? As a Christian, I believe that all people are God's children. And speaking of children, are students (or persons of any age) who feel irresistibly drawn to their own gender morally or humanly flawed?


Some 50 years ago, well-intentioned political leaders relied on the domino effect argument to urge Washington to go to war in Vietnam. “If Vietnam falls to communism, like dominos, one by one, other Asian countries will follow.” The claim proved to be as bogus as a wig. Legalization of same-sex marriage will in time change social attitudes, but not in the way these leaders say. In addition, can anyone with balanced reason actually see a link between same-sex marriage and incest, adultery, and promiscuity?"

Enlightened people in Taiwan and the rest of the world must remain vigilant against homophobia. While the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families is a disturbing development, it will undoubtedly face challenges from Taiwanese who see through their hateful rhetoric.

* Other news sources such as Gay Star News translate the group's name as Taiwan Religious Groups Caring Family Alliance.

Commentary Tidbits

Heresy in the Heartland: Voiceless Women: Susanna Wesley's Daughters, Part I and II

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Corpses Don't Rebel

New York Times: The Evangelical Orphan Boom

Think Progress: NOM Abandons Marriage Mission to Campaign Against Transgender Children  

South Florida Gay News: Why Studying Evangelical Tendencies is Important

No Longer Quivering: Courting a Stranger

The Age: Catholic Church dumps rebel priest for supporting gay marriage & women's ordination

News Tidbits

The Advocate: LGBT Orgs Blast 'Religious Liberty' Bill as 'Dangerous, False, Discriminatory'

The Guardian: Pope urges Catholic doctors to refuse abortions

Ms. Magazine: US Federal Appeals Court Rules For-Profit Must Cover Contraception

Religion News Service: U.S. asks Supreme Court to review Hobby Lobby’s birth control mandate challenge

The Daily Beast: The Sinister Side of Homeschooling

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Donohue's Homophobia Still Rages After Pope Francis' Recent Statements

Pope Francis' recent comments about social issues have given hope to Catholic progressives and stimulated conversation about the direction of the Catholic Church. In an August interview published in America, Pope Francis refused to denigrate LGBTQ people, telling Antonio Spadaro, "Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person." Later in the interview, Pope Francis disapproved of excessive focus on homosexuality and reproductive issues.

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time ... The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."

Bill Donohue, head of the right-wing Catholic League, hasn't been easing up on his heated rhetoric in spite of the Pope's statements. In a September 20th commentary at CNN, Donohue reminded readers that the Pope "is not about to turn the Catholic Church upside down and inside out," which is true. However, his opposition to LGBTQ rights remains.
 "The pope is right that single-issue Catholics need to rise above their immediate concerns. He did not say we should avoid addressing abortion or homosexuality; he simply said we cannot be absorbed by these issues. Or any others ... He wants us to oppose same-sex marriage. He also doesn't want us to reject lesbians and gays because they are homosexual. This is sound Catholic teaching."
However, Donohue couldn't resist taking jabs at the Obama administration for allegedly forcing Catholic bishops to devote time and energy to resisting reproductive freedoms.
"It is not the bishops who have made these issues front and center -- it is the Obama administration. It would be more accurate to say the pope would find fault with the bishops if they did not resist these state encroachments on the religious liberty rights of Catholics."
Donohue was much more forceful and controversial during a face-to-face interview with CNN. During the September 20th edition of New Day, Donohue spoke with CNN's Chris Cuomo about the Pope's statements. (Transcript here.) He noted that the Pope's message reflected a change in focus, not doctrine, and that its chief mission is salvation rather than social issues.
"The Catholic Church is not about homosexuality, abortion, the poor, or the environment. It's about salvation. And people are tied up in these little micro-issues on the left and the right, and we've lost the focus of what the Catholic Church should be about. It's a change in tone, it's a change in style, but is not a doctrinal change in substance. That also should be noted."
When Cuomo confronted Donohue about his "incendiary, flagrant, divisive" comments about gays in the church, Donohue insisted that priests who prey on boys are gay.
"If 81% of the victims are male and 100% of the victimizers are male, and if 78% of the victims are post- pubescent -- the word in the English language is not pedophilia. It's called homosexuality ... When men have sex with adolescent men, it's called homosexuality. It is not pedophilia. John Jay College of Criminal Justice is not a conservative right wing organization. Less than 5 percent of the priests involved in molestation are pedophiles." 

As noted in a prior post, Donohue is fond of misquoting a 2011 study on Catholic clergy abuse by John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In his haste to scapegoat gay priests for the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandal, Donohue ignores page 119 of the report which clearly states that research findings "do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior." As usual, Donohue ignores research and fails to distinguish between gay men (who are sexually attracted to other adult men) and sexual predators who prey on minors.

Donohue quickly backpedaled when Cuomo challenged him, insisting that, "It is not true that most gay priests are molesters. That is a gay-bashing comment. People have to make critical distinctions." It seems that Donohue is eager to scapegoat gays, but refuses to acknowledge that his comments are homophobic.

As the interview continued, Cuomo continued to confront Donohue about his stance on clergy abuse, reminding him of Pope Francis' earlier admonishments.
CUOMO: Who says the molesters are gay?

DONOHUE: If a man has sex with a man, what do you call that?

CUOMO: He could be a deviant pedophile and a sick person. He could be a rapist.

DONOHUE: Not if the kid is 18, 17, 16 years of age. A rapist could be straight or gay, I'll give you that much.

CUOMO: Being homosexual doesn't make you predatory.

DONOHUE: You're running away. Look, you're trying to say that anybody who points out the obvious, that the Catholic Church had a homosexual scandal, therefore, you're anti-gay. This is absurd.

CUOMO: Mr. Donohue, we both know that what is obvious here is that the pope is asking you not to focus on these things.

DONOHUE: He didn't ask me to shut up about the truth.
As usual, Donohue clings to his erroneous belief that gay priests, rather than predatory priests, are the culprits in most clergy sexual abuse cases. In doing so, he promotes the dangerous stereotype that LGBTQ persons are more likely to harm children, an undercurrent in much of the Religious Right's homophobic rhetoric (see here for an example).

Homophobic figures such as Bill Donohue refuse to be swayed by research, logical arguments, or even statements by their religious leaders. Not even a call by Pope Francis to refocus has motivated Donohue to tone down his rhetoric. Nevertheless, as more people of faith draw away from homophobia, Donohue and his ilk will find themselves more and more alienated.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

The New Civil Rights Movement: Catholic League’s Bill Donohue Demonstrates Why The Pope Had To Tell Him To Shut Up

GLAAD: CNN's Cuomo Holds Bill Donohue Accountable

Lez Get Real: Bill Donohue Ignores Pope Francis

Thursday, September 19, 2013


(Hat tip to Friendly Atheist and Strangemeal)

Commentary Tidbits

Daily Maverick: Africa’s new colonists: American evangelical Christians

A Deeper Story: Politician Preachers

Ramblings of Sheldon: The Cult of Fetus Worship

Defeating the Dragons: Learning the Words: Love

Yahoo OMG: 19 Kids and Counting's Jessa Duggar "Enters Courtship"   (Hat tip to Earth and All Stars)

Truth Wins Out: All 50 States Should Protect LGBT Youth From ‘Ex-Gay’ Charlatans

The Bilerico Project: As DC Shooting Unfolds, FRC Grabs For Attention

Salon: FRC's Tony Perkins: Being fair to gay soldiers is unfair to straight soldiers!

News Tidbits

NBC News: 'The rainbow belongs to God': Anti-gay pastor Scott Lively sets sights on Sochi Olympics

New York Times: Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion

Washington Post: Family Research Council shooter sentenced to 25 years

Religion News Service: New York state pastor among Methodists defying church law

Houston Chronicle: Texas Board of Ed sees its textbook influence wane

Pink News: Archbishop specifcally says Catholic military chaplains cannot perform or endorse same-sex weddings

Gay Star News: Australia: Sydney MP introduces bill to stop religious schools discriminating against LGBT students

The Guardian: Evangelicals largely believe prayer can cure mental illness, survey finds

Raw Story: ‘Shocking’ church child abuse investigation underway in Australia

Agenzia Fides: Nigerian bishops denounce "the attempts of foreign agencies to introduce unhealthy values in society"

Physical Abuse and Fundamentalism

Stuff Fundies Like recently posted a 2011 video of Phil Kidd preaching at Central Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. In the video, Kidd urges parents to physically discipline their children and defends the beatings he received from his father as a child. (Trigger warning)

Brutality is not synonymous with discipline, and it does real harm to children. I continue to be amazed at the fundamentalist subcultures that condone physical violence as "discipline". From the heartwrenching stories of abuse survivors at Homeschoolers Anonymous, to so-called Christian parenting books such as To Train Up A Child, to news stories of fundamentalists who brutalized or even killed their children, I am without words.

Religion is no excuse for child abuse. If you know or suspect that a child is being physically or sexually abused, contact police or child protective services. The following organizations can offer additional resources for preventing and addressing child abuse


Prevent Child Abuse America

Darkness to Light

Stop It Now!

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Monday, September 16, 2013

Commentary Tidbits

Homeschoolers Anonymous: How American Homeschoolers Enabled and Funded German Child Abuse: The Real Story Behind the Religious Right and the Twelve Tribes

Anthony B Susan: Evangelicals: Still Killing the Indian to Save the Man

Religion News Service: Is religious freedom a ‘God-given’ right? LDS church weighs in with new campaign

Dulce de leche: Sex Ed in a Christian Home: What I am Teaching My Children about LGBT Relationships

Salon: My virginity mistake

Love, Joy, Feminism: Patrick Henry College’s Faith & Reason Lecture: Rape, Domestic Violence, and Child Abuse Denialism

Restoring Pangea: Why I Appreciate Mark Driscoll’s e-Book: Pastor Dad

In These Times: Let’s Get Visceral: Anti-abortion activists plan memorial services for unborn fetuses

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary: Christian Missions Don't Have to Suck 

News Tidbits

Gay Star News: Global court to consider arresting author of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ bill

Huffington Post: 'Baby Veronica' Case Gets Christian Evangelical Groups Involved In Federal Indian Adoption Policies

Dallas Voice: Proselytizing Christians descend on Cedar Springs, offending club-goers

KFSM 5 News: Family Blames Religious Cult in Disappearance of Fayetteville Girl

Honolulu Civil Beat: AG: Hawaii Legislature's Subsidy for Private School Unconstitutional

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Botkins Launch Webinar on Making Kids "Ready for Real Life"

Introduction: Botkins Launch Webinar on Making Kids "Ready for Real Life"
Part I: Ready for What?
Part II: Are Your Children Ready for Real Life?
Part III: Arts and Culture
Part IV: Science and Medicine 
Part V: History and Law   
Part VI: Vocations
Part VII: Q&A Session

One of my readers alerted me to a webinar series hosted by the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences, led by Geoffrey Botkin. The Ready for Real Life webinar series, hosted by the Botkin family, is a seven-part audio series on how Christian homeschooling families should teach children.
"Starting this September, the Botkin family will be hosting a 7-week webinar series on educating children for leadership in the real world. Featuring all seven Botkin children, as well as Geoffrey and Victoria, they’ll be taking on the tough questions: What do you do if your child has a special gifting? How should we teach our sons and daughters marketable skills? How do we teach them to navigate the real world without becoming like the world? How do we find the best resources without breaking the bank? How do we prevent homeschool dropouts? What constitutes “success,” and how do we help our children achieve it? What should we do about higher education? And how do we teach our children well about things we don’t know ourselves?"
I have purchased access to the webinar series, and I will be posting a series of blog posts on its content soon.  What I've listened to thus far has depicted the state as an antagonistic entity and Christian homeschooling as a positive force for freedom, children, and the future of faith. As the series progresses, I am eager to hear how the Botkin's views on gender roles, "statism", and children as torchbearers color their views on children's education.

For readers unfamiliar with the family, the Botkins are a fundamentalist Christian family with strong ties to Vision Forum. The Botkins are not only supporters of fundamentalist Christian homeschooling, but vocal proponents of Christian patriarchy. For instance, books by the Botkins at the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences are supportive of Christian patriarchy tenets such as courtship and traditional gender roles. Geoffrey Botkin took part in an interview for the anti-contraception film The Birth Control Movie. Also, So Much More by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin encourages young women to be helpmeets to their fathers and promotes a "stay-at-home-daughters" vision for girls. Websites such as Overcoming Botkin Syndrome, Time to Live Friend, No Longer Quivering, and Love, Joy, Feminism have criticized the Botkins for promoting sexism and unhealthy family relationships.

To boot, Geoffrey Botkins is vehemently opposed to so-called "statism", painting the modern state as a bloated, intrusive entity at odds with the Christian community. For instance, at this summer's History of America Mega-Conference, Geoffrey Botkin devoted a talk to the alleged harms of the "Messiah state" and social safety nets. In a 2009 commentary piece, he attacked the state's alleged "Marxist social engineering", accusing it of seeking to kill Christendom, emasculate boys, exploit women through the workforce, and confiscate wealth. Geoffrey Botkin's caricature of the modern state must be understood in order to understand his enthusiasm for fundamentalist homeschooling and Christian patriarchy.

With this in mind, the Botkins' webinar series should offer a revealing glimpse into their ideology. Stay tuned for commentary on the "Ready for Real Life" webinar series!

Commentary Tidbits

Baltimore Sun: On gay rights, tolerant Christians need to come out of the closet

Jeff Sharlet at Killing the Buddha: Ditto Boys

Salon: How the right plays with murder: The antiabortion movement’s cycle of violence

Salon: Yes, weird Christian beliefs do influence America 

Heresy in the Heartland: David Barton: Homespun History

Naked Pastor: Silence as key to Pastor Dad Mark Driscoll’s ministry

Anthony B Susan: They've Got the Fear

Gay Star News: Masking anti-gay bigotry as ‘religious freedom’ is just gutless

GLAAD: Religious Expression, the Myth of the Persecuted Christian, and Anti-LGBT Discrimination

Kathryn Joyce at Mother Jones: Orphan Fever: The Evangelical Movement's Adoption Obsession

Alternet: Ron Paul Curriculum Author Who Wants Stoning, Biblical Slavery

Jezebel: Creepy Catholic Website Explains Why Women Shouldn't Go to College

Love, Joy, Feminism: “We Are in No Position To Judge His Actions”

RH Reality Check: ‘Breakthrough’ Event Celebrates Closing of Texas Planned Parenthood

News Tidbits

The Advocate: Minnesota Archbishop: Marriage Equality Was Satan's Creation

Colorado Springs Gazette: Focus on the Family and NavPress laying off a total of 60 employees

Raw Story: Christian schools shreds $20,000 in literature over ‘satanic’ peace sign

Fox Tampa Bay: Terry Jones arrested en route to Koran-burning

LGBTQ Nation: Michigan lawmakers postpone vote on bills allowing ‘moral’ disapproval of adoption

Pink News: Canada: LGBT education co-ordinator targeted with letter encouraging her to ‘repent sins’

Politico: Evangelical historian David Barton remains key ally of right

The Crisis Project Investigates Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) have generated ample controversy over their attempts to dissuade women from terminating unwanted pregnancies*. As discussed in a prior post, many CPCs misrepresent their services, disseminate inaccurate information about pregnancy options, and promote a fundamentalist anti-abortion agenda (more here). Some CPCs deliberately set up shop near abortion clinics in an attempt to mislead women and dissuade them from seeking abortion services. One organization, the Crisis Project, is taking on unscrupulous CPCs.

The Crisis Project defines itself as "a youth led movement that is committed to advancing social justice by exposing threats to human rights." The organization shines light on misinformation and right-wing religious messages propagated by many U.S. CPCs.
"Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are anti-family planning non-profit organizations that operate within most communities in the United States, and often with state and/or federal funding. While their stated mission – to aid women facing an unplanned pregnancy – may seem harmless, their actual intent is much more sinister. As our investigations document, CPCs notoriously use medical misinformation, emotional manipulation and religious doctrine to coerce and bully women and men out of considering all of their reproductive health options."
The group has investigated CPCs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Fairmont, Minnesota, Louisville, Kentucky, and Cleveland, Ohio. Katie Stack, founder of the Crisis Project, secretly recorded her conversation with a counselor at the Cleveland Womankind CPC. As reported in Salon, the CPC counselor gave Stack inaccurate information about emergency contraception, incorrectly likening it to abortion and claiming it could induce hemorrhaging. The counselor also lectured Stack on why sex belonged in marriage.

Kudos to the Crisis Project for investigating unethical CPC practices. Women deserve accurate information about pregnancy options, including abortion and emergency contraception, and need to understand how some CPCs might mislead them. Hopefully, such public scrutiny will motivate CPCs to serve women in a more scrupulous manner.

* This is not to say that all crisis pregnancy centers are destructive. Some CPCs provide useful services and supplies to pregnant woman, but many others misinform women and promote an anti-choice agenda.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Commentary Tidbits

Pew Research Center: 5 facts about the Pledge of Allegiance

The Wartburg Watch: The Senseless Death of Hana Williams

Sarah Over the Moon: On Hugo Schwyzer and Christianity’s Open Door Policy for Abusers

Indian Country Today Media Network: Black and Native American History, Not Creationism, Should Be in Textbooks

Roses and Revolutionaries: Onward, Christian Soldiers: Why American Christians Are OK With War

Salon: Former Christian fundamentalist: Science robbed me of my faith

New York Times: Banning a Pseudo-Therapy

Wall of Separation: He’s Baaaaaaack! Disgraced ‘Christian Nation’ Advocate David Barton Sought By Politicians Looking To Court Religious Right

Media Matters: A Right-Wing Media Star Is Born: Vladimir Putin

News Tidbits

USA Today: Some see biblical visions of doom in Syria trouble

Washington Post: Defense attorney recommends 11 ½ years for man who planned massacre at Family Research Council

The Advocate: New Group Launches As Alternative to Boy Scouts' Gay-Inclusive Policy

BBC News: Teen exorcists: Women who expel demons on stage

Pink News: Westboro Baptist Church protest scuppered by huge pro-LGBT counter-demonstration

The Independent: Church of England has up to £10m invested in arms firm

Singa Politics: Lawrence Khong: ‘I told the Minister to send me to jail’

Singa Politics: Lawrence Khong: ‘There are no ex-Chinese, but there are ex-homosexuals’

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Atrocities Are Atrocities, No Matter Who Points Them Out

Richard Beck is a professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University who blogs at Experimental Theology. In his September 5th post, "Not Getting How Horrible the Bible Is", Beck was puzzled that poor or incarcerated people reading the Bible with him were far less horrified by its violent content than liberal, educated people.
"What I've noticed is this. When you read the bible on the margins people don't seem to notice just how horrible the bible is.

For example, when I lead a bible study with liberal, educated folks the horrific parts of the bible quickly come to the surface and become the focus of attention. These texts, it seems, sit at the heart of the liberal, educated experience of the bible and represent a constant, chronic threat to the integrity of the bible and faith itself. These passages in the bible threaten to delegitimize the bible and, thus, the entire Christian faith. Everything seems to hang on those texts. For liberal, educated folk.

But for the uneducated? Not so much, at least in my experience.

I've read some of the most scandalous passages in the bible to men in prison or with the poor and, for whatever reason, they haven't blinked an eye. With liberal, educated audiences such passages would completely hijack the conversation. And no judgment about that, these passages hijack the conversation for me. But I've noticed that they haven't hijacked the conversation at the margins. To be sure, sometimes they do. There is a guy, Steve, in the prison bible study who isn't very educated but Steve asks some really sharp, probing questions. But generally speaking, the horrible passages in the bible haven't alarmed, shook, or disturbed those on the edges of society with whom I've studied."
Beck wondered why the disenfranchised people he'd met were not offended by the Bible's violent content.
"Maybe it's education. Maybe you need a liberal arts college education to be properly shocked by the bible.

Maybe it's life experiences. On the margins life is more brutal and violent. There, in the midst of that social location, the bible doesn't sound strange at all. It seems to fit. And this seems to be the case worldwide. The bible speaks to the third world, it is alive and powerful. But in the educated and liberal Western world the bible is a shock and a scandal.

Or perhaps something else is going on. But if either of these two factors are in play then it seems that offense at the bible is associated with privilege. Whenever I've heard complaints about the bible being horrible I've generally been talking to a person of advantage and privilege. Generally White. Generally educated. Generally rich (by the world's standards)."

Beck insisted that he was not dismissing the Bible's shocking passages, adding that he wrestles with the text himself. However, he wrote that he was "much less interested" in "the complaints of the privileged" regarding Biblical violence.

Beck's commentary was unsettling to me for several reasons. First, his privileged/marginalized dichotomy regarding who trembles at Biblical atrocities doesn't match up with what I've heard. Second, I worry that by reducing criticism of Biblical violence to the chatter of privileged elites, one makes it easier to ignore the implications of Biblical atrocities.

First, some people from 'privileged' backgrounds have condoned atrocities in the Bible, just as some have condemned those atrocities. For example, Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and Lee Strobel have defended Biblical genocide stories, as I discussed in a prior post

Similarly, some Christians and non-Christians from marginalized backgrounds have looked closely at Biblical violence. If Beck thinks that marginalized people are largely unfazed by the Bible's violence, he needs to look further. Plenty of commentators from marginalized groups not only shudder at the atrocities in Scripture, but condemn such violence and interpret it through a lens of social justice.

For instance, in a patriarchal society, women are a marginalized. Some of the most insightful examinations and rejections of Biblical atrocities against women have come from female theologians. From Phyllis Trible's Texts of Terror to Pamela Cooper-White's The Cry of Tamar, from Cheryl Anderson's Women, Ideology and Violence to Renita Weems' Battered Love: Marriage, Sex and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets, women have cried out against the misogynist violence of the Bible.

In a predominantly white society, people of color are marginalized. Commentators of color have articulated hard-hitting responses to the atrocities in the Bible. For example, in "A Native American Perspective: Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians"*, Robert Allen Warrior (Osage) urges readers to examine Old Testament stories "with Canaanite eyes" as he likens the European conquest of the Native Americans to the Israelite conquest of the Canaanites. Also, in "The Letter Killeth", Hector Avalos frowns upon the atrocities in the Bible, calling for a decanonization of Biblical texts that celebrate violence. Avalos urges peace-loving Christians "to follow the logic of a pacifistic theological principle that any depiction of God as violent must be understood as false. Violence in our canon can be viewed as a theological corruption we have allowed to exist and poison us long enough." There are plenty of voices from the margins criticizing the Bible's violent passages, and they're not hard to find.

Ultimately, none of this changes the fact that the violent passages in the Bible depict atrocities. Even if voices from the margins were not calling them out, would that make them any less horrific? Stories such as the divinely-sanctioned Canaanite genocide or the mistreatment of sexual assault victims justify oppression, violence, and marginalization. If we value justice and human dignity, we cannot turn a blind eye to these stories. Evil is evil, whether it's being pointed out by 'privileged' observers or people from the margins.

If Beck is concerned about the marginalized, he must remember that many violent Old Testament passages justify marginalization. The victims of genocide were marginalized. Prisoners of war reduced to booty by their captors were marginalized. Honor killing victims were marginalized. Rape victims who were executed or forced to marry their rapists were marginalized. Slaves and slave families were marginalized. If we're going to talk about the Bible and marginalized people, we need to wrestle with how some passages actively encourage marginalization of innocents.

As Philip Jenkins notes in Laying Down the Sword, we ignore or forget the Bible's violent passages at our peril. Throughout history, Biblical atrocities have been used to justify conquest, colonization, and slaughter. For instance, Biblical stories of Israelite devastation of the Canaanites were used to defend the European conquest and subjugation of the Native Americans. European narratives associated the New World with Canaan and the Native Americans with the Canaanites, who had to be conquered so that Europeans could live in the promised land. (Steven T. Newcomb, a Shawnee/Lenape researcher, explores this narrative in depth in Pagans in the Promised Land.)

Some Spanish Catholic officials cited the Canaanite genocide to lend moral authority to Spanish conquest. For instance, in the 16th century, Catholic official Pedro de Santander likened Florida's indigenous population to "idolators, the Amorite, Amulekite, Moabite, Canaanite", who had to be slaughtered so as to free up the "land of promise". Another 16th century Spanish theologian, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, also used the Canaanite conquest story to justify subjugation of indigenous people in the New World. In short, how people approach Biblical violence has real consequences.

In short, zeroing in on Biblical violence is not some academic exercise of elites. We must pay attention to atrocities in the Bible, how they have been used to oppress, and how people from many backgrounds have weighed in on them.

* - Featured in the anthology Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Commentary Tidbits

The Guardian: Mission Congo: how Pat Robertson raised millions on the back of a non-existent aid project

Political Research Associates: The Next Generation of Anti-Choice: Lila Rose

Stuff Fundies Like: Smashing Televisions

The Free Believers Network: Feelings Returning

Heresy in the Heartland: The Political Reach of Gothard

Mother Jones: Oh Magog! Why End-Times Buffs Are Freaking Out About Syria

Salon: 10 weirdest right-wing Christian conspiracy theories

RH Reality Check: Religious Nonprofits Continue to Refile Challenges to Contraception Mandate

News Tidbits

CNN: 'Under God' part of Pledge of Allegiance under review in Massachusetts

New York Times: Albuquerque Becomes Latest Focal Point in Abortion Wars

Des Moines Register: Evangelical activists make a play for more Iowa voters

Washington Post: Cardinal Dolan tells Catholics in Milwaukee that Christ, Church are one, can’t be separated

NBC 7 San Diego: Domestic Violence Victim Fired From Teaching Sues Diocese of San Diego

On Top Magazine: Florist Who Refused To Serve Gay Couple Says She 'Had To Take A Stand'

Religion News Service: Southern Baptists say no to gay weddings for military chaplains

BBC News: German Christian sect raided and children put in care

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Right-Wing Groups Sign Statement Defending Russia's Anti-Gay Law as G20 Convenes

The G20 Leaders' Summit is currently taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia. The event has brought together political and financial leaders from 19 countries and the European Union to discuss pressing global financial matters. Because of its international visibility and host country, it has also become a lightning rod for resistance to Russia's law banning gay "propaganda" to minors.

The G20 summit has drawn LGBTQ rights demonstrators to St. Petersburg and other cities around the world. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have urged world leaders to condemn Russia's anti-gay law, and several heads of state will reportedly do so. U.S. President Barack Obama is due to meet with LGBTQ rights groups during his time in St. Petersburg, according to Buzzfeed, while UK Prime Minister David Cameron will reportedly raise concerns over the anti-gay law at the G20 summit, reports Pink News.

However, anti-LGBTQ organizations have also released a homophobic statement to coincide with the G20 summit. The Madrid-based Profesionales Por La Ética and allied organizations issued a statement defending Russia's anti-gay law. "Statement by Worldwide Organizations in Support of the Russian Federal Law On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development" has been signed by 103 right-wing organizations worldwide, including several groups based in North America: Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Mission America, Real Women of Canada, and the World Congress of Families.

As a side note, several Islamic organizations also signed the statement, including the UK-based Islamic Medical Association and the Muslim Coordination to the Alliance for the Family. The presence of right-wing Christian and Islamic organizations among the signatories suggests that homophobic factions of different faiths are willing to collaborate against LGBTQ equality.

The statement depicts homosexuality as something harmful to minors, arguing that "children need special protection due to their innocence and immaturity". Furthermore, the statement ridicules LGBTQ equality as an example of "artificial and fabricated "values"" being "aggressively imposed" across the globe. Russia is depicted as the victim of a global controversy, suffering "heavy attack" as it supposedly strives to protect the "moral formation of children". 
"We acknowledge that the Russian law protects the innocence of children and the basic rights of their parents recognized in the international legislation and treaties. With its new law Russia is protecting genuine and universally recognized human rights against artificial and fabricated false "values" aggressively imposed in many modern societies. We also note that the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not outlined in the existing binding international treaties and agreements." 
In short, the statement rejects the idea of LGBTQ rights as human rights, refuses to acknowledge the validity of gender identity and sexual orientation, and casts homosexuality as a toxic influence on youth rather than a normal variation of human sexuality. The fact that the Russian law silences the Russian LGBTQ community, obstructs freedom of speech, and protects no one is never considered.

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

American signatories to the Profesionales Por La Ética statement are more examples of Religious Right voices defending Russia's anti-gay law. As mentioned in a prior post, Bryan Fischer, Pat Buchanan, and NOM's William Owens have weighed in on the measure. Since then, even more U.S. Religious Right figures have praised the Russian law.

First, on August 30th, Scott Lively penned an open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin, commending Russia for taking "a firm and unequivocal stand against this scourge by banning homosexualist propaganda in Russia." Calling LGBTQ rights a "destructive and degrading sexual agenda", Lively warned Putin that LGBTQ activists are allegedly "driven by an implacable militancy and a zeal to advance their own self-serving interests that rivals even the most fanatical religious cults." According to the letter, Lively sent Putin a copy of his inflammatory anti-gay book, The Pink Swastika.

Next. in a September 3rd press release, the World Congress of Families defended the Russian anti-gay law, calling it "a law designed to protect the health and morals of minors". Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families, argued that the law protects youth from the supposedly corrupting influence of LGBTQ adults. "It simply states that adults can't try to corrupt children by encouraging sexual experimentation which could have life-threatening consequences," he said in the press release. Jacobs insisted that the homophobic laws protects young people from the alleged health risks of homosexuality. 
"All the law does is to prohibit advocacy aimed at involving minors in a lifestyle that would imperil their physical and moral health.  Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has shown that sexually transmitted diseases, drug use and suicide rates are significantly higher among what it discreetly calls a 'sexual minority.'  CDC data also demonstrates that there is much greater health risks among teenagers who practice homosexuality than those who do not engage in homosexual behavior." 
Finally, according to Right Wing Watch, Mission America's Linda Harvey applauded Russia's anti-gay law during her September 4th radio show. Calling LGBTQ rights supporters "sexual anarchists", she defended the Russian law as a means of protecting children from supposed lies.
"What responsible adult would have a problem with keeping kids on a path of high moral standards? Well, those who are very deceived themselves, apparently. In our country the sexual anarchists are whaling because Russian children and teens will not be allowed to hear homosexual propaganda. Children won’t be told, falsely, that some are born to be homosexual. They won’t be encouraged to declare themselves homosexual at age twelve or thirteen and label themselves for the rest of their school years. Russian children won’t be taught that they are victims of the mainstream, straight world, that they should develop deep resentments and hostiles and shouldn’t trust anything tradition-minded people say or do. The risks of same-sex relationships won’t be carefully hidden from them, as they are here, and they just might have healthier, more stable lives as a result.

They won’t be told that biblical moral standards are hateful and harmful; that abstinence until marriage is impossible and recommending it is discrimination; nor that sex as a young teen is perfectly normal, constructive and manageable with latex. They won’t learn that two men or two women should be seen as a married couple and that no one should ever blink an eye at the terms ‘her wife’ or ‘his husband.’ They won’t be taught that Jesus now suddenly accepts homosexuality and always did and that modern, enlightened theologians have discovered pro-homosexual meanings in Scripture that no one else did over several thousand years and that all those verses that call homosexuality sin really mean something else. In other words, the kids in Russia may get to live lives as kids and not be weighed down with adult agendas laced with adult deception."

Noticing a pattern? The Profesionales Por La Ética document, as well as statements from other Religious Right groups, promote destructive stereotypes about LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people are repeatedly demonized as threats to children, corrupting influences, and health hazards. For all their hollow language about protecting youth, homophobes refuse to acknowledge that some young people are LGBTQ and that Russia's homophobic laws do them real harm. The real threats to Russian youth are homophobic laws that curtail free speech, free flow of information, and social acceptance of sexual minorities.

The Religious Right is showing its true colors by praising Russia's anti-gay law, and I have no doubt that they will support similar draconian measures elsewhere. Supporters of LGBTQ equality around the globe need to demand LGBTQ equality and remind leaders that the far right does not speak for them.

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Betty Bowers and Vladimir Putin

Betty Bowers is back with another scathing video! Watch her take Vladimir Putin to task for his country's anti-gay legislation as the Sochi Olympics approach.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Commentary Tidbits: Russian Anti-Gay Law Edition

Truth Wins Out: Religious Fanatics, American Con Artists, And Emboldened Neo-Nazi’s Make Life Hard On LGBT Russians     (Trigger warning)

The Advocate: Which Americans Are Responsible for Russia's Hate?

Pink News: Anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively warns Vladimir Putin Russian ‘gay propaganda’ laws are not enough

Right Wing Watch: Lively: Russia A 'Beacon Of Freedom' While US Is A 'Gay Version Of The Soviet Union'

Right Wing Watch: Six US Conservative Groups Sign Statement Supporting Russian 'Gay Propaganda' Ban

News Tidbits

New York Times: Standard-Bearer in Evolution Fight: Eugenie C. Scott Fights the Teaching of Creationism in Schools

Washington Post: Leader of Southern Baptist seminary marks 20 years, helped make school more conservative

Religion News Service: Religious diversity is increasing at the office, and so are pitfalls

New Republic: Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement

KOIN: Oregon: Sweet Cakes closing shop amid same-sex wedding cake rift

Raw Story: Former Navy chaplain wants ‘worthy of death’ printed on all LGBT couples’ wedding photos

Raw Story: Christian radio host Sandy Rios: Military’s ‘homosexual takeover’ could doom attack on Syria

Boise State Public Radio: Why The Mormon Church Is Sending So Many Missionaries To Idaho