Southern Religion

Unsafe abortion is still a matter of conscience

Legalization of abortion was not a radical goal, as Susannah Clark reminds us, reminding us in the British Guardian–not in 1967 when the British abortion act was passed. “Significant numbers of evangelicals, including high profile leaders,” supported passage of the act. One reason, also commonplace in that era among otherwise conservative Southern newspaper editorialists in the U.S., was concern about the dangers backstreet abortions and often deadly self-induced abortions to which the poor were prey. Although that was in the era before “life begins at conception” became something of a mantra.

She is responding to the Guttmacher Institute report, Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress [Download .pdf ]. It finds that the number of abortions has fallen “from an estimated 45.5 million procedures in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003.” Moreover, “abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions where it is broadly legal and in regions where it is highly restricted [40% of the world’s women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws]. The key difference is safety—illegal, clandestine abortions cause significant harm to women, especially in developing countries.”

The result is 5 million women treated for complications, 3 million women who suffer untreated complications and 70,000 deaths a year. Guttmacher’s solution is better access to contraception, better after-abortion care and expansion of legal access to abortion.

Clark, a researcher for the conservative, London-based Evangelical Alliance, writes:

I find myself agreeing with the evangelicals of 1967 and the evangelicals of today: I long to see a reduction in the number of abortions carried out each year, both in the UK and globally, but I am glad that there are safe services women can access if they do chose abortion. I may protest about the 200,000 abortions a year in the UK, but I’m glad there are also people speaking up for the 70,000 women who die each year, mainly in developing countries, from unsafe abortions – just as people spoke up for the impoverished women in England in 1967. Compassion lies at the heart of both concern for the mother’s safety, and a desire to see the number of abortions reduced.


October 21, 2009 Posted by | Health, Medical Care | , | Comments Off on Unsafe abortion is still a matter of conscience

Raise up a crop of married Catholic priests?

Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglican/Episcopal bridge to Catholocism isn’t going to solve the priest shortage by allowing married men who aren’t already Anglical clergy to find a way in.

Mark Silk’s expert correctly reports there isn’t even a Eastern Rite seminary exception for ordination of married Catholic priests. Indeed, ask a Maronite [warning: some may respond with asperity].

Seriously. An exception like that, under this pope? Unlikely.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI | Comments Off on Raise up a crop of married Catholic priests?

Ziglar/Schuller/Bush Shock & Awe!

Robert Schuller & George W. Bush paired?

Liberal Reformed Church in America pastor Robert Schuller and Episcopal turned United Methodist George W. Bush are a motivational pair? That’s Zig Ziglar on th left, BTW.

Wayne Slater explains:

It might not seem the logical place for George W. Bush to launch the Bush Legacy Project tour, but the former president has been signed as a special guest speaker at some of Zig Ziglar’s famous sales motivation seminars. The Get Motivated! business seminars are glossy affairs — sort of Babbitt meets the Super Bowl, part pep rally, part Christian revival meeting for salespeople who want to up their game. Bush apparently feels comfortable headlining a day-long bachannalia of patriotism, inspiration, success stories and sales tips.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, Satire | Comments Off on Ziglar/Schuller/Bush Shock & Awe!

Grand Theft Jesus


Andy Schlafly’s self-promotional ploy the Conservative Bible Project seeks to transmogrify sacred text to political ends.

Part of (son of Phyllis) Schlafly’s ConservaPedia, this attempt at grand theft Jesus has been derided by the Christian and conservative (1, 2, 3, 4). Although we could find no reaction from Southern Baptist Convention right-wing heavies like Richard Land,’s Bruce Gorley weighed in, along with pastor Jim Evans of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala., and others. As well as skeptics like Ed Brayton.

Yet even Religion Dispatches cannot tell us today, “Whether or not Biblical inerrantists accept the idea that Andy Schlafly and other like-minded individuals are the true guardians of the original meaning . . . .”

Uh huh. In this case, we will risk contradiction and call that one a FAIL.

In a story which struggles not to burst into laughter, Shawna Richer of Canada’s Globe & Mail quotes Schlafly’s explanation for the effort:

The trouble is, new translations of the Bible are done by professors at liberal universities who overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Their political bias seeps into their translations and we felt it necessary to counteract that with one that uproots and eradicates any liberal bias.

In an interview with Canada’s The Star, Schlafly’s favorite “liberal” passages were Jesus saving an adulteress from being stoned in John 7:53-8:11, and Luke 23:34, in which Jesus asks God to forgive his crucifiers, “for they know not what they do.”

Claude Mariottini, professor of Old Testament at independent Northern Baptist Seminary, writes:

If conservative Christians make an effort to rewrite the Bible in order to present a conservative translation as an effort to eliminate liberal interpretation of Biblical texts, then such a translation will violate every hermeneutical principle used by Bible translators in their effort to give the reading public a translation that is faithful to the original intent of the Biblical writer.

James McGrath, associate professor of religion at indepedent Butler University in Indianapolis, said “the translators don’t appear to have any knowledge of the text’s original meaning:”

If it’s an attempt at humor, it’s hilarious, but I have a sinking feeling it’s something else – that conservatives are realizing the Bible does not always serve their interests, something the rest of us have known for some time.

But some element of humour should be part of a healthy response to this, because there’s a danger that taking it too seriously gives it credibility it wouldn’t otherwise have.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Religion, Satire, Uncategorized, WWW | Comments Off on Grand Theft Jesus

Wednesday link farm

  1. The will be a trickle of Anglicans in response to the Pope’s initiative, not a flood, suggests Commonweal’s David Gibson. Muted response is predicted for England, North America and Africa, according to Rachel Donadio and Laurie Goodstein the New York Times.
  2. Tony warns that in North Carolina, gambling is making inroads via the ruse of sweepstakes outlets.
  3. Baptist Press reports that the gay hate crimes bill awaits senate vote, and repeats without correction several myths, including the canard that religious liberty is somehow at stake. Fact Checks: 1, 2, 3
  4. BBC reports that in India Muslim widows were beaten as witches. Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that Christian children are still being put to death after being labled witches by their pastors.
  5. Christa explains why the Southern Baptist Convention approach to sexually predatory clergy makes ‘Jesus want to vomit.’

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Religion | Comments Off on Wednesday link farm

Oklahoma religious groups support health-care reform

Speaking for Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist, Bruce Prescott said at the Oklahoma Conference of Churches’ state capitol press conference in support of health-care reform:

I am a Baptist minister and I am here to speak on behalf of the many Baptists who expect our elected leaders to assure that healthcare is accessible, affordable, accountable, and inclusive of all persons.

I am also here to apologize for the heartlessness and indifference of the many Baptists and other Christians who appear to identify more with the priest and the Levite than with the Samaritan in the parable of the good Samaritan.

That’s an unaccindental contradiction of the apparent position of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, which has featured the strident health reform opposition of Kelly Boggs, and of the Southern Baptist Convention, represented of late by the Nazi-baiting of Richard Land.

At Tuesday’s press conference sponsored by the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, 14 Christian denominations, the B’Hai and Islam came together at the to urge passage of health reform.

Prescott also said:

Our first question ought not to be who sinned that this person is poor and uninsured. Our first question ought to be what can I do to help?

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Health, Medical Care, SBC | Comments Off on Oklahoma religious groups support health-care reform

Rose-colored glasses award



Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of Great Britain’s Anglican Church and symbolic head of the Anglican Communion worldwide, said yesterday of Pope Benedict XVI’s creation of a new global institution to receive defecting Anglicans and Episcopalians into the Roman Catholic Church:

I do not think this constitution will be seen as in any sense a commentary on Anglican problems offered by the Vatican. It is a response to this range of requests and inquiries from a very broad variety of people, either Anglican or of Anglican heritage. In that sense it has no negative impact on the relations of the communion as a whole to the Roman Catholic church as a whole. It is not an act of aggression, it is not a statement of no confidence. It is business as usual.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Pope Benedict XVI | Comments Off on Rose-colored glasses award

Today’s Piltdown Man Award goes to NPR

A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists reports Barbara Bradley Hagerty of NPR, and after sketching out a conflict over Blasphemy Day strategies, opines:

Some call it a schism.

Evolution Blog reminded us that atheists, who do appear to have a gift for disagreeing, cannot “schism:”

There is really nothing like that among atheists. For one thing, there is no central atheist authority from which to split. For another, the dispute, such as it is, really is not all that acrimonious. For a third, atheists are only united by the belief that there is no God. Why should we expect general agreement on questions of political tactics?

The irony of that characterization might have been delicious, had it been discernible.

Perhaps it was buried.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion, Science | | Comments Off on Today’s Piltdown Man Award goes to NPR