Religious Belief Increases Social Ills

 Crime, Education, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Religious Belief Increases Social Ills
Sep 282005
 

The London Times has an interesting story about an article published in an academic journal. According to the study, belief in and worship of God may actually contribute to social ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, reports that most Americans believe, “that their church-going nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shinining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example of an increasingly skeptical world.” However, according to this study comparing the social performance of relatively secular countries such as Britain with the U.S., “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion.”

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

The researchers took a macro of view of the U.S. as a whole compared with other developed nations. The results of this study come as no surprise when one takes a more micro view within the U.S. The “red” states, generally considered to have higher rates of religious belief and church membership, show much higher rates of “social ills” than the “blue” states. According to a CDC Study, the red states have a higher teen pregnancy rate than blue states.

The murder rate is higher in red states than blue states. The red state divorce rate is 4.5 per 1000 Residents, while its only 3.6 per 1000 Residents in blue states. Abortion rates are higher in red states. Illiteracy rates are also higher in red states.

So I have to agree with the study’s findings. Statistics in this country bear out the study’s findings. But the real question is, what causes this?

Summary Of Katrina Disaster

 Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society, Weather  Comments Off on Summary Of Katrina Disaster
Sep 122005
 

As I’m sure you all know, the main stream media is giving wall-to-wall coverage of Katrina. The blogosphere is also providing plenty of coverage, with some of the best known bloggers actually getting directly involved in the relief efforts down on the coast. Most certainly, this is the biggest disaster to hit the U.S. in history. Therefore, all the coverage is warranted.

I thought I would make this post about Katrina, and try to move on to other things. It is a horrible disaster, and we all need to know what is going on, and understand how over government agencies are (or are not) responding to this disaster. That being said, I think there’s some fatigue to all the coverage. I’m not going to promise I won’t post about what’s going on along the Gulf Coast again, nor that I won’t continue calling your attention to the ways that the government failed us…but I’m going to try to move on to some other things.

I live in Tampa Florida about eight blocks from the Bay. A storm like the one in New Orleans would flood my house, so I’m not being callous to this situation, nor trying to forget it. How the recovery efforts are being managed is of keen interest to me, and how people are coping with the disaster is something I will most likely someday benefit from. So I am most certainly paying attention, and being sympathetic, but I’ll leave the coverage to people who are actually there.

I do want to point out some issues. The Republicans that are attempting to stay loyal to W are pausing only long enough to take one foot out of their mouth as they put the other one in. We all know about Santorum commenting to some kids in the Astrodome that losing their home, and being displaced to another state with nothing must be like Summer Camp. If its so cool, why wasn’t he staying there.

I’ll never get over the fact that W could rush back to Washington early from a previous vacation to sign the stupid Teri Schaivo legislation, but couldn’t bring himself to head back to D.C. early to be prepared for the worst natural disaster to ever hit the U.S. And don’t forget his mother’s comments about the people in the Astrodome…how they were under-privileged anyway, so this was all working really well for them. The absolute arrogance of this family astounds me. I hate to wish ill on anyone, but I hope they go broke someday, so they can get a taste of what the real world is all about.

Then, of course we have obviously allowed the administration to use FEMA and DHS as a place to repay a lot of political Debt’s, and have put in a bunch incompetent inexperienced cronies to run the most important government agency. At least Mike Brown finally resigned today. It was very obvious that FEMA’s current administration was ill prepared and late in responding. They can try to place the blame wherever they want, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they were simply unprepared.

Someone found their 2004 schedule for disaster exercises. Of 222 exercises run, only 2 dealt with hurricanes, and one of those dealt with a hurricane combined with a terrorist attack. I know, terrorism is much more glamorous than hurricane relief, but guess which one has affected more Americans.

One of the primary claims by the Administration was that they couldn’t move into the area because the Governor of Louisiana hadn’t yet declared a state of emergency. That is just a plain bold-faced lie. That had been done two days before landfall. Although I don’t think it matters anyway, an experienced FEMA team would have prepositioned resources, and if the official declarations hadn’t been made, they would have called the Governor with instructions.

I guess its just the lies of Karl Rove and his henchmen, trying to shift the blame that really pisses me off, but I get even more aggravated when I realize that people hear the crap and believe it absolutely…without any question.

They have suspended most all the rules governing government procurement, and Katrina is just another boondoggle for Cardinal Cheney’s friends at Haliburton.

And we can’t let pass all the big religious right wingnuts blaming it all on gay people and the Southern Decadence celebration. I’ve gotta tell you, if that’s who God really is, I want no part of him. (Never mind that the site of most of Decadence wasn’t flooded.)

So, now, hopefully on to other things…always remembering the people that are suffering.

An Incredible Article By Bill Moyers About Today's Holy War In America

 Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on An Incredible Article By Bill Moyers About Today's Holy War In America
Sep 102005
 

While drilling around through links in some comments on one of the blogs I read frequently, I was linked to this article adapted from a speech given by one of my favorite journalists and a leading thinking of our time, Bill Moyers. The article is titled 9/11 and The Sport of God. As with most his writings, it is well worth reading, and chocked full of some of the most important insights of our time.

My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others.  “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils,” thundered the dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience.  Baptists there were a “pitiful negligible minority” but they were agitators for freedom and therefore denounced as “incendiaries of the commonwealth” for holding to their belief in that great democracy of faith—the priesthood of all believers.  For refusing to pay tribute to the state religion they were fined, flogged, and exiled. In l651 the Baptist Obadiah Holmes was given 30 stripes with a three-corded whip after he violated the law and took forbidden communion with another Baptist in Lynn, Massachusetts. His friends offered to pay his fine for his release but he refused.  They offered him strong drink to anesthetize the pain of the flogging. Again he refused.  It is the love of liberty, he said, “that must free the soul.”

He talks about how the terrorists can win, even if they never attack again. And he believes they are winning.

But it is never only the number of dead by which terrorists measure their work. It is also  the number of the living— the survivors—taken hostage to fear. Their mission was to invade our psyche; get inside our heads—deprive us of trust, faith, and peace of mind: keep us from ever again believing in a safe, just, and peaceful world, and from working to bring that world to pass. The writer Terry Tempest Williams has said “the human heart is the first home of democracy.” Fill that heart with fear and people will give up the risks of democracy for the assurances of security; fill that heart with fear and you can shake the house to its foundations.

Terrorists plant time bombs in our heads, hoping to turn each and every imagination into a private hell governed by our fear of them.

They win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid. Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too;  if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what’s in God’s mind. Yes, we are vulnerable to terrorists, but only a shaken faith in ourselves can do us in.

Moyers talks about how all the compassion of our response to the 9/11 attacks, has so often been replaced by a darker side.

As a Christian realist I honor my inner skeptic. And as a journalist I always know the other side of the story. The historian Edward Gibbon once wrote of historians what could be said of journalists. He wrote: “The theologians may indulge the pleasing task of describing religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian [read: journalist] He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.”

Very succinctly, he explains how religious fundamentalists have taken over the Republican party, and are imposing their biblical interpretation on the rest of us.

We can’t wiggle out of this, people. Alvin Hawkins states it frankly: “This is a problem we can’t walk away from.”    We’re talking about a powerful religious constituency that claims the right to tell us what’s on God’s mind and to decide the laws of the land according to their interpretation of biblical revelation and to enforce those laws on the nation as a whole.  For the Bible is not just the foundational text of their faith; it has become the foundational text for a political movement.

True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals—this very seminary is part of that tradition; it’s the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment.  But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America’s great political parties—the country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is—and they are driving American politics, using  God as a a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation,  energy,  regulation, social services and so on.

And then, he sums of the war we are in this way:

What’s also unique is the intensity, organization, and anger they have brought to the public square. Listen to their preachers, evangelists, and homegrown ayatollahs: Their viral intolerance—their loathing of other people’s beliefs, of America’s secular and liberal values, of an independent press, of the courts, of reason, science and the search for objective knowledge—has become an unprecedented sectarian crusade for state power. They use the language of faith  to demonize political opponents, mislead and misinform voters, censor writers and artists, ostracize dissenters, and marginalize the poor. These are the foot soldiers in a political holy war financed by wealthy economic interests and guided by savvy partisan operatives who know that couching political ambition in religious rhetoric  can ignite the passion of followers as ferociously as when Constantine painted the Sign of Christ (the “Christograph”) on the shields of his soldiers and on the banners of his legions and routed his rivals in Rome.  Never mind that the Emperor himself was never baptized into the faith; it served him well enough to make the God worshipped by Christians his most important ally and turn the Sign of Christ into the one imperial symbol most widely recognized and feared from east to west. 

I have quoted liberally, and could go on and on. Every paragraph says something important, and I desperately want you to take the time to read the entire article. Its important.

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