Southern Religion

Republican shot

Mark Silk has unearthed the template for a successful Republican candidate in 2010: One who makes hay by “minimizing the social conservatism of his past and reaching out to moderates” at election time.

Inspired by the Virginia gubernatorial face-off, successful application of that model also requires an incompetent Democratic opponent who can’t both build coalitions and successfully call fake.


October 25, 2009 Posted by | Politics | Comments Off on Republican shot

Brazilian government/Catholic Church cooperate against AIDS

Data Source: CIA World Factbook

Brazilian adult AIDS prevalence (CIA World Factbook)

Longstanding public clashes over abortion and condoms are not preventing the Catholic Church and government in Brazil from cooperating in pursuit of the common public good.

In a joint AIDS-testing campaign, the Brazilian National Confederation of Bishops and Brazil’s Ministry of Health have launched Declare Your Love to Yourself.

While continuing to disagree with the Brazilian government’s model condom distribution program, the church has, according to The Catholic News Service, made an important commitment to encouraging Brazilians to visit clinics for HIV testing. Specifically:

AIDS ministry volunteers work in 142 of 272 dioceses in Brazil. Another 260,000 volunteers from the Catholic children’s ministry and 80,000 from the health ministry will work on the campaign. The church also will sponsor print, radio and TV ads in the campaign, which will begin in five state capitals before extending across Brazil.

. . .
According to Brazil’s Health Ministry, 60 percent of the Brazilian population has not been tested for HIV, although the tests are free and widely available. Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said this is why the partnership with the church is so important.

Brazil has since 1996 combined massive condom distribution with free anti-retroviral drugs to those diagnosed as HIV-positive and aggressive public awareness campaigns.

Amid and perhaps despite a culture which openly celebrates sex, it works, as NPR reported:

No one can argue that Brazil’s way of combating the spread of HIV/AIDS hasn’t worked. Back in 1991, Brazil and South Africa both had HIV prevalence rates of just over 1 percent of the population. A decade later, South Africa’s rate had skyrocketed to 25 percent. Brazil’s rate remained at 1 percent.

Brazil is still an overwhelmingly Catholic (> 70%) country. Thanks in part to the long neglect which preceded implementation of its effective policy, Brazil is also, says U.S. Agency for International Development, “the epicenter” of South America’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Church and government agreeing to disagree while working together toward a more effective effort against HIV/AIDS is, especially there, a model to watch.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Brazilian government/Catholic Church cooperate against AIDS

Abuse endured at the hands of nuns

Before release of the Ryan Commission Report on sexual abuse of children in Irish religious run institutions, telling about her experiences was difficult for Kathleen O’Malley:

Four years ago, when Kathleen first told her story in her memoir, Childhood Interrupted, there were plenty of cynics around who were prepared to cast doubt on the extraordinary tale of suffering inside a system that seemed akin to the worst excesses of a totalitarian regime.

Read the entire story here.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Abuse endured at the hands of nuns

Child abuse: Eye-to-eye with the horror

A British child protection officer give the universal warning:

Learning about child abuse is hard.”

How hard?

We are dealing with this material day in and day out. It is horrific. It is as if you are going to a horrendous murder scene sometimes, and you see those images when you are there. It gets lodged in your memory. If there is film of a child being abused, and there is sound, it is not just the sound of a child screaming that haunts you. I remember once there was a video and there was a Christmas carol playing. I cannot hear that music and not associate it with the image of that child being abused.

Read the entire story here.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Child abuse: Eye-to-eye with the horror

Cost of child abuse and neglect

[Click to download .pdf reference document.

From “We can do better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America” [Oct. 21] by the Every Child Matters Education Fund, Washington, D.C.:

Too many children die from abuse and neglect each year and the number is growing. Three-quarters of the children are under four. The current systems of child protection are stretched too thin to protect these children. And now a harsh economy combined with a steadily weakened safety net in many states threaten to place ever more children at risk.

Additionally, several studies have concluded that the actual number of child abuse and neglect deaths is believed to be significantly higher than official statistics indicate. There are a variety of reasons, including different state definitions of what constitutes a child abuse and neglect death, data collection methodologies, inconsistent record-keeping across the country, and who it is that actually determines the cause of death.

Children at grave risk of being killed require protection from their national government. Because of the heavy toll child abuse and neglect exacts from the nation–thousands killed, millions of lives ruined, costs of more than $100 billion a year– a national strategy and initiative are needed to protect children.

Download the entire “We can do better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America” report here [.pdf].

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The *od machine == Bill Donohue’s crowd?

Reading Catholic League President Bill Donohue on America’s secular saboteurs in the Washington Post upended Steve Benen.

Benen, who writes Political Animal for The Washington Monthly, embarks on a satiric response, beginning with “THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine … .”

Benen thunders along with his “God Machine,” first bolting on Sean Hannity’s comically misguided attack on a Center for Inquiry ad campaign. There is no humor, however, in Benen’s decision to add a clerical sex abuse provoked bankruptcy and an anti-gay/anti-women view of the Pope Benedict XVI’s outreach to Anglicans to his device.

Perhaps Benen does not mean to imply inclusion of all believers in his “God Machine” when he concludes with reference to the study of religiosity released Friday by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, noting that “the United States remains among the most religious for industrial nations.”

Yet the effect of his parade of references is to steadily increase the insulting impact on people who don’t rant and rave Donohue-style but who do regard themselves as, for example, “children of God.” That’s as in, “I am a child of God” – not a allusion to the “Children of God” cult.

Such folk may feel excluded by Benen’s rhetoric. A large group. The study to which Benen alludes says 92% of Americans believe in some sort of God.

A sense of exclusion does Donohue’s work for him, since Donohue’s ranting is in fact not mere witless drivel. It is what two key analysts of pulpit orations employed by conservative Southern Baptist pastors call “exclusionist rhetoric.”

Specifically, Carl L. Kell and L. Raymond Camp explain in their book In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention that “Exclusionist rhetoric declares that certain “sanctioned, scriptural texts” define group membership and may be used to “rid” the group of certain undesirable elements.”

Donohue is employs exclusionist rhetoric in his efforts to cement together a larger political movement. He is remarkably straightforward about his goals when he writes in The Washington Post:

The only way secular saboteurs can be stopped is by an alliance of religious conservatives across faith lines. The good news is that this is already happening. In the fight over gay marriage, the scorecard is 30-0: traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Mormons, along with a big contribution from the Latino and African American communities, have succeeded in throwing a roadblock at this crazy idea.

Making up a “God Machine” and implying through selection of components that it is composed of the rhetorically deranged, the feckless and sexual deviants tends to drive undecided believers toward Donohue and his ilk.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment