Southern Religion

The Southern Baptist heretic gently returns

Miguel De La Torres returned heretically Wednesday to the Associated Baptist Press opinion section. He was there to amplify and clarify arguments which in February ignited a Southern Baptist blog firestorm.

De La Torres performance gave heretics a good name. He explained that he didn’t call Jesus a sinner for His response to the Canaanite woman, who in Matthew 15:21-28 sought to have her daughter freed of a demon. Equally important in our view, De La Torres said:

Many also thought I was being heretical by implying that Jesus learned something from the Canaanite woman’s persistence in demanding aid from him. But do the Gospels themselves not tell us that the fully human Jesus, as he grew into his divinity, “increased in wisdom and stature and favor with God” (Luke 2:52)?

You may recall that passions ran high. The original piece was called “tripe,” “heretical trash” and so on. Which our “heretic” touched in good-humored passing. He reserved his time Wednesday for more serious considerations, closing with the suggestion that “Jesus is not afraid of our honest inquiry.” And with humility asked “if you are willing to be the sister or brother in Christ of a heretic dog like me?”

Read it all here.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Southern Baptist heretic gently returns


Some have wondered if the Pope should step down. Robert S. McElvaine, professor of arts & letters at Millsaps College, goes one long step or two farther today in his On Faith comment:

There are, of course, no provisions in the hierarchical institution set up, not by Jesus but by men who hijacked his name and in many cases perverted his teachings, for impeaching a pope and removing him from office. But there ought to be.

As I detail in my latest book, “Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America” (Crown), the cardinal sin of the Catholic Church — a literally deadly sin, if ever there was one — is its opposition to birth control. Far from being, as the Church contends, part of its moral doctrine, this policy is, plainly, the immoral doctrine of the Church. The use of condoms is a pro-life position.

He finally suggests replacing him “with a woman.”

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI | , , | 1 Comment

Death, condoms and abstinence in Uganda

Uganda is the false example offered in defense of Pope Benedict XVI’s claim that condoms “can even increase the problem” of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The two-decade ebb in Uganda’s overall rate of AIDS was first of all the result of premature death of the previously infected. The AIDS incidence among living people fell primarily because so many of the infected died for lack of treatment. As the British Medical Journal reported:

“Death alone accounted for a six percentage point reduction in HIV prevalence in the one year,” Maria Wawer, a public health researcher from Columbia University, New York city, said. “Overall, the HIV prevalence over the last decade declined 6.2 percentage points. We estimate that mortality alone contributed five percentage points of the decline.”

Researchers found no scientific evidence that the remaining decline was due to abstinence.

Condom use, however, “increased dramatically” as AIDS incidence ebbed. Thus the most likely cause of fall in AIDS rate not due to death of the infected, was use of condoms.

Propaganda to the contrary via Fox News and other sources of obfuscation is a vote for death, in particular the death of the African women who now compose a majority of Africa’s AIDS-infected population.


Those women are in no position to apply the Pope’s homiletic advice about abstinence and responsibility. They lack power over their own lives. Michael Fleshman quotes UNAIDS Deputy Director Kathleen Cravero in the United Nations magazine, Africa Renewal:

“Across the globe,” she notes, “women, particularly young women, are not in a position to abstain. They are not in a position to demand faithfulness of their partners. In many cases they are in fact faithful, but are being infected by unfaithful partners.” . . . [They] are often unable to compel the use of condoms by their partners or are unwilling to even raise the issue for fear of rejection or physical assault.

“A woman who is a victim of violence or the fear of violence is not going to negotiate anything, let alone fidelity or condom use,” Ms. Cravero continues. “Her main objective is to get through the day without being beaten up. Real-life prevention strategies for women include reducing the levels of violence against women, protecting their property and inheritance rights and ensuring their access to education.”

It is no surprise then that on Wednesday when the Pope carried his anti-condom message into Cameroon, he was greeted with outrage. Alain Fogue, a spokesman for the Cameroon Advocacy Movement for Access to Treatment (MOCPAT), asked, “Is the Pope living in the 21st century? The people will not follow what the Pope is saying. He lives in Heaven and we are on Earth.”

On earth, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sound scientific reasons for recommending use of condoms to prevent AIDS transmission.

On earth, Uganda’s “True Love Awaits” program is a masque of death, misrepresented as a solution on behalf of Papal guidance for which sound, earthly, scientific rationalization appears to be absent.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Resolution to more than display Lincoln-Obama Bible at Capitol Visitor Center

Back to the Capitol Visitor Center, with Randy Forbes (R-Va.) attempting to use the Lincoln Bible to trample the Establishment Clause.

[Thanks for Mark Silk for pointing this out to us.]

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Law, Politics, Religion | , , | Comments Off on Resolution to more than display Lincoln-Obama Bible at Capitol Visitor Center

Navy Times on Knights (out)

Our Southern Baptist friends didn’t tell us about this.

Knights Out indeed. Navy Times says there are similar support and education groups formed by graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy, known respectively as USNA Out and Blue Alliance. Not that Navy Times casts any light on disfellowshipping.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Politics | Comments Off on Navy Times on Knights (out)

Hung over? Lets get real about Saint Patrick

Green beer all drunk, let’s try to get real about Saint Patrick, the one-time slave. Who is not, strictly speaking, a saint.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Cultural | , | Comments Off on Hung over? Lets get real about Saint Patrick

When must the law unmask anonymous bloggers?

Disclousure of an anonymous blogger’s identity to someone suing for defamation is not somehow automatic in Maryland. Or elsewhere. With 50 legal solutions in prospect, it may require an overarching federal statute. So argues FindLaw columnist & First Amendment specialist Julie Hilden.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Law, WWW | Comments Off on When must the law unmask anonymous bloggers?

Pope versus the epidemiologist re AIDS

Driven to sarcasm by Pope Benedict XVI’s pronouncement that condoms “can even increase the problem” of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani wrote for the London Times:

I’ve worked with HIV prevention data for more than a decade, and I have found nothing to support this except a claim by William Bennett, a former Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration, who once pointed out that condom use was higher in communities with higher HIV prevalence – clear evidence that condoms aggravate the epidemic. Similarly, more people use treated bed nets in Lagos than in London, and Nigeria has far more malaria than the UK – clear evidence that bed nets spread malaria.

She finds “great mystery” in what she sees as the Pope’s focus on compassion for HIV victims at the expense of the uninfected, a view “shared by many evangelicals.” Instead:

Why can’t we also show compassion to uninfected people by helping them to stay that way, using every effective tool at our disposal? That includes abstinence, which works for many Catholic priests and some teenagers. And cutting down the number of people you have sex with. And condoms.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Science | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pope versus the epidemiologist re AIDS

Use condoms to prevent AIDS? The Pope versus the Centers for Disease Control

Regarding the use of latex condoms to prevent Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS):

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to journalists aboard his flight to Cameroon March 17, said:

One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., said:

Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, consistent and correct use of latex condoms reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including diseases transmitted by genital secretions, and to a lesser degree, genital ulcer diseases. Condom use may reduce the risk for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-associated diseases, e.g., genital warts and cervical cancer.

The CDC Web page on this subject included an overview of laboratory studies, medical/scientific theory and epidemiologic data. Regarding epidemiology the CDC concluded:

Overall, the preponderance of available epidemiologic studies have found that when used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV infection and reduce the risk of other STDs.

The Pope offered no laboratory studies, medical/scientific theory or epidemiologic data.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Medical Care, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Science | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Seminaries losing financial blood

More than one third of seminaries are on the brink, with less than a year’s worth of spendable assets, says the Association of Theological Schools’ fall, 2008 report. Plus, enrollments are down.

Likewise members of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).

They’re adapting: Cutting staff and programs, using satellite campuses, teaching lot more via the Web.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Religion, WWW | Comments Off on Seminaries losing financial blood