Southern Religion

Health care is a right – Christian ethicists agree

Jennifer Harris explains that Christian ethicists view health care as basic right:

Other industrialized nations already provide basic health care, and consider it a human right rather than a commercial commodity, said Terry Rosell, professor of pastoral theology in ethics and ministry praxis at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan., and program associate for disparities in health and health care at the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo. “They consider us to be barbarians for leaving out millions of our most vulnerable citizens—and non-citizens. They consider us immoral to allow some to grow rich off the sufferings of others.”

Read the entire piece here.


September 21, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Health, Medical Care, Religion | 1 Comment

Religious sex offenders may be the worst [Addendum: Part of the price]

Analyzing of the criminal records and self-reported religious affiliations of 111 incarcerated sex offenders, researchers Donna Eshuys and Stephen Smallbone at Australia’s Griffith University found:

… that stayers (those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood) had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than other groups. Results challenge assumptions that religious involvement should, as with other crime, serve to deter sexual offending behavior.

Another study found evidence that sexual predators consider churches an attractive environment. In 2003 one predator told a researcher [.pdf]:

I considered church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians…They tend to be better folks all around. And they seem to want to believe in the good that exists in all people … I think they want to believe in people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.

Despite their limitations, these studies do suggest that predators who stay in church understand how to manipulate the environment in ways which permit them to continue their predatory careers.

Neither possibility is a surprise to either the victims of clerical predators or those who labor for reform of church practices.

Addendum: Part of the human price

A study funded by the USA National Institute of Drug Abuse found that "Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased likelihood of drug dependence, alcohol dependence, and psychiatric disorders. The associations are expressed as odds ratios: for example, women who experienced nongenital sexual abuse in childhood were 2.93 times more likely to suffer drug dependence as adults than were women who were not abused."

A study funded by the USA National Institute of Drug Abuse [.pdf] found that "Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased likelihood of drug dependence, alcohol dependence, and psychiatric disorders. The associations are expressed as odds ratios: for example, women who experienced nongenital sexual abuse in childhood were 2.93 times more likely to suffer drug dependence as adults than were women who were not abused."

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Law, Religion, Science | , , , | Comments Off on Religious sex offenders may be the worst [Addendum: Part of the price]

Network neutrality and believers

Religious Right blog storms and evangelical online social networking could come unpredictably and irrevocably to nothing if network neutrality died, and under the eight-year reign of the Bush administration, network neutrality was dying.

This morning Federal Communications Commission chief Julius Genachowski in a speech at the Brookings Institution said the FCC must be a “smart cop on the beat,” preserving Net Neutrality against increased efforts by providers to block services and applications over both wired and wireless connections.

It is in effect a fight for freedom of the 21st Century press, one in which we are all invited to participate, as he explained:

We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications (phone calls delivered over data networks) and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer software distributing lawful content. We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content.

It is and should be largely invisible that the underlying network architecture of the Internet makes possible ready access to all manner of online publishing.

As long as and only as long as the principles of network neutrality re sustained.

You can have sustained 21st Century freedom of online speech and press, if you can keep it in the face of the armies of loggyists deployed at a cost of millions of dollars in an attempt to eliminate network neutrality.

The FCC invites your participation in the process of shaping and sustaining network neutrality at

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Law, Religion, Science, WWW | Comments Off on Network neutrality and believers

Straw Huckabee indeed

No, the headline doesn’t say it all. Mark Silk explains why the results of the Values Voters straw poll favoring Mike Huckabee as the 2012 Republican nominee are likely to blow away with the next light political breeze.

This time the winner might be wise to Huckpack his candidate bags and go home. Even if the Republican Party falls more deeply into disarray, Huck can’t expect fellow Southern Baptist Richard Land to pull him out of a hat like a Palin Rabbit. He’s a known quantity whose appeal was narrow at last election time and remains, narrow.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | Comments Off on Straw Huckabee indeed

Hate crime

The Anti-Defamation League has called for a new Georgia hate crimes law in the wake of the beating of Army reservist Tashawnea Hill at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Morrow, Georgia. The state had such a law but it was tossed out as unconstitutionally vague in 2004.

Errin Haines of the Associated Press wrote of the beating

The Justice Department’s civil rights division in Washington has initiated a probe into Hill’s case. Police say Tashawnea Hill was kicked and punched Sept. 9 as Troy D. West screamed racial slurs outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Morrow, about 15 miles southeast of Atlanta. Authorities say West, 47, became enraged when Hill told him to be careful after he nearly hit her daughter while opening the restaurant’s door.

The FBI is investigating whether federal civil rights laws were violated by the assault.

General concern about the matter and its status as a hate crime has apparently been muted. Social conservatives, when they become concerned, typically oppose hate crimes legislation. Ambivalence seems to be commonplace. And the beat goes on.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Law | Comments Off on Hate crime

May God be with him

Amen, Tony.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Health, Obama, Politics, Religion | 1 Comment

More prayer/less politicking wins at Coral Ridge

Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, turned Ft. Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church away from its hyper-political, right-wing activist heritage.

With predictable pushback. Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy — daughter of Tchividjian predecessor and culture warrior D. James Kennedy — and other unhappy parishioners tried to have Tchividjian removed.

They failed, the Miami Herald reported Sunday:

Tchividjian was named senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale mega-church six months ago. He has come under scrutiny ever since he vowed to the set the church on a different path from that charted by his predecessor, D. James Kennedy, who built Coral Ridge into a religious and political powerhouse on a bedrock of Christian conservatism.

Church members cast ballots at a closed 11 a.m. meeting, and backed Tchividjian by a vote of 940-422, a margin of about 69 percent to 31 percent.

Tchividjian, 37, doesn’t preach politics.

Tchividjian is one of the new generation of spiritual leaders who are in step with the Pew Forum’s August 2008, survey, which found that 52 percent of Americans agreed that houses of worship should keep out of politics. He is succeeding. As we predicted.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Politics, Presbyterian | Comments Off on More prayer/less politicking wins at Coral Ridge

Yes, Virginia, there is a thesis

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell has on the strength of his 1989 master’s thesis attracted considerable attention to Regent University, his Pat Robertson-founded alma mater. Even piquing the Washington Post to pen an expansive piece about the school.

Since McDonnell’s thesis looked with a jaundiced eye on working women, the creation of tax credits for child care, feminism, homosexuality in general and the use of contraception by married couples, Regent students are a little worried about being misunderstood in this perhaps more enlightened era.

Helpfully, WaPo Staff Writer Ian Shapira collected a list of more recent theses, writing:

Student theses archived at Regent’s library reveal a generational difference between the school’s early years in the 1980s, when it was known as Christian Broadcasting Network University, and its recent history. Early theses have titles such as “The Role of the Press in Disseminating Communist Propaganda as a Foreign Policy Strategy of Totalitarian Governments,” and “Homosexuals’ American Dream . . . or Nightmare,” a study that advocated “Criminalizing Homosexuality — The First Line of Defense.” Thesis titles from the 21st century: “U2’s Gospel of Modulation in a Decade of Change” and “Federal Funding for Needle Exchange Programs,” which advocated the idea as a way to prevent HIV.


That should clear things up. About Regent. Not about McDonnell. Post-thesis revelation poll numbers showed McDonnell’s opponent had moved to within striking range:

Dramatic shifts among independent female voters and Northern Virginians over the past month have propelled Democrat R. Creigh Deeds to within four points of Republican Robert F. McDonnell in the race for Virginia governor, according to a new Washington Post poll.
The change among likely voters — down from a 15-point margin in mid-August — coincides with the publication and ensuing controversy surrounding McDonnell’s graduate school thesis, in which he writes of his opposition to working women, feminists and gay people.

Sigh. Maybe being a true, red (blue isn’t Republican) member of the Christian Right ain’t what it used to be. After all, McDonnell has been a good Ralph Reedster, attracting Reed’s help and praise in the early days. McDonnell is a political child of Robertson’s Christian Coalition and enjoys the group’s current support.

But you don’t have to use or subscribe to misguided terms like Paliban to see that those alliances and any associated thesis-embalmed views are no longer taint free and cannot be retrospectively disowned.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Law, Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Yes, Virginia, there is a thesis

Tea Party Christians abroad?

Tea Party Christians who demand that government keep its hands completely off their health care could consider missionary work in Nigeria. There, various governments’ nonregulation produced short-livedness issues. Too much hands-off?

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Health, Medical Care, Religion | | Comments Off on Tea Party Christians abroad?

Time to dial back the heat and noise around Rifqa Bary [Addenda]

Rifqa Bary is the seventeen-year-old who fled from Ohio to Florida, saying she feared her Muslim father would put her to death for converting to Christianity, and who is at the center of what Time calls the Florida Culture War Circus.

Her status as a minor, whose interests the courts in two states are obligated to treat as paramount, and inevitable limitations in knowledge about her circumstances, should have been enough to move concerned people of good faith to behave with restraint.

Sunday her mother’s former court-appointed attorney, Craig McCarthy, came forward in a St. Petersburg Times column to say gently that the culture warriors have gotten their rhetoric ahead of the facts.

A conservative, evangelical Christian, he says:

And I also believe that many Christian conservatives have allowed themselves to adopt a narrative and thus reach conclusions about the Rifqa Bary case prematurely, just as we accuse the mainstream media of sticking to their preferred narratives instead of squaring their passions with reality.

He goes on to bluntly illustrate the case:

By Aug. 12, I already had solid documentation that at least one thing circulating in the media and on blogs was flat wrong: that the parents had not reported the child missing for 10 days. Not long after, I was able to nail down another misreported “fact,” that the child’s note left to her parents had not been given to police. Neither of those things are true.

Why are those relatively mundane facts important? They are important because the person reporting them couldn’t possibly know those things, yet so-called adults surrounding Rifqa eagerly passed those things on to media without analysis, one imagines, because they served to paint the child’s parents in a bad light.
. . .
I was annoyed as a Christian, as an officer of the court and as a litigator (in that order) that many with whom I agree on many issues were so willing to disregard the notion that a parent has the right in this country to raise and influence a child without governmental interference, unless there is evidence of abuse or neglect that is credible and not based on stereotypes or based on the beliefs or actions of what people who are not the parents might think, feel or do … Suffice it to say that a growing list of otherwise uninterested people would have to be lying in order for what you think is true about this case to be true.

McCarthy is, in short, suggesting that right wing activist writers who have poured forth a stream of shrill allegations, have misled all who believed them. Attacks on mainstream media who would not report as fact that which McCarthy now indicates is untrue, were unjustified.

His column deserves a careful reading here.

We feel McCarthy offers good reasons for thoughtful people of good faith to agree that it is time to dial back the heat and volume and proceed with watchful restraint.

Addendum: Law Enforcement Report

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement in its official report last week found, according to CNN, “no evidence whatsoever of alleged abuse or threats of death made by the girl’s parents.”

Her personal writings say she wants to be a prophet.

The matter returns to court this afternoon.

Updated: 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21: Rifqa Bary remains in Florida foster care for the time being, reports the Miami Herald.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion | Comments Off on Time to dial back the heat and noise around Rifqa Bary [Addenda]