Jesurgislac’s Journal

May 29, 2011

Pastor Chuck Phelps is passionate and practical

Colonial Hills Baptist Church has a biography of their senior pastor that is significant for what it omits:

Dr. Charles Phelps is our senior pastor. Prior to coming to Colonial, Dr. Phelps served as a youth pastor in Minnesota and Colorado, as a senior pastor in New Hampshire, and as a college president in Wisconsin. He has traveled to numerous mission fields, colleges, seminaries, and churches to teach and preach the Bible. Pastor Phelps is a passionate, practical Bible teacher and preacher. He ministers faithfully to our church family along with his wife, Linda. They have five children and one grandson.

In 1997 Pastor Phelps was the senior pastor at the Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire, when he discovered that a church member, Ernest Willis, had raped (on at least two occasions) a 15-year-old girl, the daughter of a church member, and the girl was pregnant. Under New Hampshire law, Willis had committed a felony – a Class B Felonious Sexual Assault – a crime for which he has since been found guilty (verdict Friday, he hasn’t yet been sentenced but it could be up to 54 years). This was the case even if, as Willis persistently claimed, the girl had consented to sex: she was under 16. (Exceptions can be made for two kids more-or-less the same age fooling around with each other, but Willis was then in his late thirties and married: the girl was his kids’ babysitter.)

There were multiple people affected by Willis’s rape of the girl. There was Willis’s wife (they are now divorced), their children, the girl herself, the girl’s mother. (I don’t know if the girl’s father was a church member.) Supposing that, 14 years ago, Willis had been arrested for rape and Phelps had stood by the girl and given his testimony in support of her. One can assume that even an anti-rape Pastor Phelps would have been against abortion, so I’m not going to fantasise that the girl would have been able to make her own decision about that: but suppose she had a supportive mother who hadn’t made her give the baby up for adoption, or if the adoption had been with local parents and as open as possible, so that the girl was not (as actually happened) permanently separated from the baby she’d been forced to have? (I can’t say what decision the girl might have made about abortion if she’d been genuinely free to choose, with a supportive mother to back whatever decision she made, but I can be pretty sure that Pastor Phelps would never have supported abortion nor envisaged a “solution” that included abortion, so let’s assume not.)

Phelps would have been faced with a congregation aware that one of their number was being charged with rape of a babysitter; the man’s wife would have had to deal, there and then, with knowing that her husband was a rapist who molested teenage girls: and the girl herself, pregnant with the rapist’s child. The situation would necessarily have continued for months, maybe for years – really, for as long as any of the people involved remained members. (Adoptive parents might have been members of the same congregation, or known to members of the congregation, too.)

Whereas, I can see the temptation to Phelps: if he got the pregnant girl out of the way, got the girl and Willis to apologise to the congregation thus making it partly the girl’s fault and therefore allowing Mrs Willis to tell herself it wasn’t altogether her husband’s fault, and got the baby adopted out of state and to parents not known to anyone in the congregation, then – he could tell himself – everything would be over and done with in weeks. The girl would be out of the way in Colorado having her baby, when she came back she wouldn’t talk about it, and there wouldn’t be any messy lingering upset. Perfect solution, so long as the girl kept her mouth shut and Phelps wasn’t concerned about justice, or kindness to a raped girl, or protecting other vulnerable teenagers from Ernest Willis – or even with being honest with Mrs Willis, that her husband was a rapist of teenage girls and there could be no excuse for him.

Pastor Phelps’s defense in court was that he did report this to the police, though he also says he told the police that the girl didn’t want to come forward. The two phone calls, he claims, were made on Oct. 8, 1997 when he found out that the girl was raped and pregnant, and on Oct. 9, the following day, when he told the police the girl didn’t want to come forward.

Pastor Phelps says he told the girl “I read to Tina from Deuteronomy 22. The passage is about a maiden in a field and she is accosted by a man, the maiden screamed and no one was there to help her. Then the passage refers to a maiden in a city who is accosted by a man, she didn’t scream. There is the appearance of complicity.”

Chuck Phelps (his new Colonial Hills church says he “especially enjoys teaching pastoral ethics, church management, church growth, and discipleship”) got the girl to read an apology for her misbehaviour to the congregation. Then he had her sent away to another state to have the baby, have the baby adopted, and then return to the New Hampshire Church, where she’d continue to worship alongside the man who’d raped her, Ernest Willis. This kind of abuse, revealed by one brave woman who opted to come forward, doesn’t seem to concern Phelps’ new church.

A lot of people responded to my previous post on this subject. I thank you all now for commenting: I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your comments. Several spoke of how this matched their own experience of Christian charity – caring for rapists more than for their victims.

Chuck Phelps set up his own website to excuse his behaviour: www.drchuckphelps.com. He claims that neither he nor the girl’s mother told her not to press charges. But clearly, even according to his own testimony, he made no effort whatsoever to support the girl against the rapist. Ernest Willis was also a member of Phelps’ congregation. Phelps had a responsibility to him: a responsibility which Phelps seems to have thought he fulfilled by protecting the rapist from the legal consequences of committing a felony. It does not seem to have occurred to Phelps, ever, that he had a moral responsibility towards Willis or towards his other victims, to ensure that Willis was arrested by the police and charged with the crime Phelps knew he had committed: the burden of his defense is that the 15-year-old girl, whom he admits he’d told was “complicit” in her own rape, was solely responsible for ensuring that charges were brought against Ernest Willis, and it’s entirely her fault, not his, that the rapist was left to go free for 14 years.

What’s missing from the website now (I first looked at it a few months ago, soon after the 20/20 broadcast) is a defense by Chuck Phelps that the whole horrible situation was worthwhile because the girl had a baby and the baby was adopted: she didn’t have an abortion, and the couple who got a baby were made happy by this. I don’t know why Phelps took this down – perhaps because someone with more self-awareness realized that it made Doctor Phelps look very, very complicit in the sexual abuse of an underage girl. Perhaps Phelps was still hoping, at the time he first set up the site, that Willis would be found not guilty and he could dismiss the girl whose rape he’d condoned, all those years ago, as just another silly slut. (His website still cites a letter from the girl’s mother which claims her daughter is only doing this for the money: I don’t think he quite sees that abuse from an abusive parent is not exactly helping his case.) But it did strike me as a classic pro-life justification for rape and sexual abuse.

Colonial Hills Baptist Church says it is “a family of caring Christians, a place where people feel like they are coming home. Through fervent prayer, the passionate and practical declaration of God’s Word, carefully presented and God-focused music, and a sincere love for the individual, Colonial Hills Baptist Church desires to help you and your family grow in Christ.” They even have a Facebook page. But their senior pastor condoned the rape of a fifteen year old girl, and continues to excuse his behaviour then. His church appears to think the problem can be resolved by giving him a separate website, hoping perhaps that people won’t keep associating their pastor with the rapist in New Hampshire.

Apparently their sermon for today, May 29, is “designed to strengthen saints and convict sinners. This morning’s message is entitled, ‘God is Able to Keep You Eternally Secure.’” Phelps doesn’t seem to have regarded justice, or kindness, or protecting the vulnerable, or honesty, as anything a pastor ought to be concerned with. But security, yes: he does seem to have cared about that.

August 2, 2010

November 2001: U.S. Exploring Ways To Sell War Against Terrorism To Overseas Audiences

U.S. Exploring Ways To Sell War Against Terrorism To Overseas Audiences
By EUN-KYUNG KIM, The Associated Press
Friday, November 9, 2001
San Diego Source (you will only be able to view the page at this click once) (Via)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Presidential advisers huddle with Hollywood executives. Cabinet members and generals meet with Muslim media. White House aides in London and Pakistan “war rooms” arrange pro-American publicity.
The United States is cranking up efforts to build and retain foreign support for the war against terrorism. (more…)

June 8, 2010

Pastor Chuck Phelps has sincere love for rapists

In 1997, a 15-year-old girl in Concord, New Hampshire, became pregnant after being raped repeatedly by Ernest Willis, an older man she knew from the Trinity Baptist Church in Concord her family and the Willis family both attended. The girl told her mother after she was made pregnant: the mother told their pastor, Chuck Phelps.

The Trinity Baptist Church website has this careful message on its front page:

In reviewing the events of October 1997, the present leadership is seeking answers for the victim, our congregation, as well as our entire Concord community. The prayers of our entire church are for justice to be served to the alleged perpetrator, and that mercy and care will be extended to the victim.

Pastor Chuck Phelps had the rape victim go up for “church discipline” because, he told her, Willis may have been 99 percent responsible, but she needed to confess her 1 percent guilt in the situation, and that she should be happy that she didn’t live in Old Testament times because she would have been stoned.

A witness from 1997 remembers “I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this.” The next day the witness, Fran Earle, called Mrs Phelps, who said the victim had decided not to press charges for statutory rape. Earle, who left the church in 2001, said it was “regular” to see young girls who were pregnant called to the front of the congregation to be humiliated in this way.

Statutory rape has a statute of limitations of 22 years from when the victim turns 18 in New Hampshire, so the police are now investigating Ernest Willis. Chuck Phelps, now senior pastor at another Baptist church in Indianapolis (with no message on its website for the victims of its Pastor), says that he did not “participate in a cover-up”. He simply had the rape victim kept in a “prophet’s chamber” (a guest room over the garage used to host travelling ministers) at the Phelpses’ Concord home until she could be “relocated”. “I just know that they made me stay at their house, and I wasn’t allowed to see any of my friends or talk to anybody. I had to stay there until they shipped me away.” After she moved to Colorado, a minister there asked her to write a letter to Ernest Willis’s wife, apologising to her for “abusing her trust” by having sex with her husband. Church members there monitored her phone calls and didn’t allow her to be with people her own age. When she gave birth in March 1998, Chuck Phelps urged her to put her baby girl up for adoption. After about a year she returned to Concord for about six months, living with her mother, attending Trinity Church, and seeing Ernest Willis in church regularly: he was still a church member.

Chuck Phelps’ current church is Colonial Hills Baptist Church , 8140 Union Chapel Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46240. Phone: 317-253-5597. Fax: 317-254-2847. There’s a comments form.

They say “We’re interested in your comments and questions.” They also say: “Colonial Hills Baptist Church is a family of caring Christians, a place where people feel like they are coming home. Through fervent prayer, the passionate and practical declaration of God’s Word, carefully presented and God-focused music, and a sincere love for the individual, Colonial Hills Baptist Church desires to help you and your family grow in Christ.”

Presumably, Ernest Willis and his family were “helped to grow in Christ” by Pastor Chuck Phelps. Wonder how many other rapists he’s “helping” at his new church?

Update, Sunday 10th April 2011
If you live inside the United States, you may be able to watch a 20/20 documentary on the ABC website (20/20 4/8: Victim’s Forced Confession)

Chuck Phelp’s new church, Colonial Hills Baptist, now has a message up on its website:

ABC’s 20/20 has featured a documentary having to do with independent fundamental Baptists. What occured in Concord, NH while Pastor Phelps was pastor was a part of their focus. Pastor Phelps now has a website available to provide accurate information. Please go to www.drchuckphelps.com for more information.

This 20/20 program is what ABC describe in a news release as a “yearlong investigation” into “a religious subculture many Americans have never heard of, yet has thousands of churches across the country . . . churches that critics claim can foster physical and sexual abuse.” Anchor Elizabeth Vargas said yesterday the 1997 incident at Trinity is “a big part of our hour” but other churches are also examined. (Concord Monitor) It would certainly be interesting to do a follow-up with the church in Indiana, to find out how many rapists have received the benefit of Pastor Phelps’ spiritual support there.

June 6, 2010

Privacy Matters

I blog, and comment on blogs, under a pseudonym.

(To answer the question everyone asks: Je surgis lac is a Monty Python joke, meaning “I rise from the Lake” in bastard French: it is also, with a couple of letters changed, an anagram of my real name. I invented it because I wanted a unique handle: I accept that it’s hard to spell and I take no offense if it is mis-spelt. But most people call me Jes, if they want to shorten it.)

Reasons people may prefer pseudonyms or limited personal disclosure on the Internet, to quote CoffeeandInk on this topic:

  • Because it is a standard identity- and privacy-protection precaution
  • Because they have experienced online or offline stalking, harassment, or political or domestic violence
  • Because they wish to discuss sexual abuse, sexuality, domestic abuse, assault, politics, health, or mental illness, and do not wish some subset of family, friends, strangers, aquaintances, employers, or potential employers to know about it
  • Because they wish to keep their private lives, activities, and tastes separate from their professional lives, employers, or potential employers
  • Because they fear threats to their employment or the custody of their children
  • Because it’s the custom among their Internet cohort
  • Because it’s no one else’s business

Whether you are my friend, my enemy, a chance acquaintance or a casual commenter, I support your right to be as private or as public as you choose on the Internet.

The last time this came up was February: Google had decided they wanted to set up a social network like Facebook, and in order to get one fast, they opted all Gmail users into Google Buzz. The reaction to this from many users was prompt and angry: opt out of Buzz and warn others about it. As Jona at Mozilla labs said: Social networks should always be opt in, never opt out.

My point is that I’m one of the lucky ones; privacy concerns are far from trivial for many, many people. When someone with privilege and power says things like “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place…” (Eric Schmidt) or “You have zero privacy anyway; get over it.” (Scott McNealy), they show an astounding lack of empathy. They’re obviously not considering things from the point of view of the woman who is the target of violence, or the citizen of an oppressive regime, or the whistleblower, or… anyone other than themselves, basically.

(Also see Fugitivus, now shut down, quite possibly by Google Buzz.)

Now Yahoo have decided to try the same thing – and once again, they’ve made it opt-out rather than opt-in. As of next week, if you have a yahoo mail account, and you haven’t opted out of Updates, information you post may be pushed onto the screens of everyone who has your yahoo mail account listed in their contacts. You yourself will have no control whatsoever over who gets to see your updates.

Your only choice is to opt out completely. Here’s how. Electronic Frontier Foundation:

To opt-out of the new program, go to http://profiles.yahoo.com/settings/updates/ and uncheck the box next to Share My Updates. In addition, to opt out of sharing authorized by your friends, you need to go to http://profiles.yahoo.com/settings/permissions, and uncheck “Allow my connections to share my information labeled ‘My Connections’ with third-party applications.” While on this page, you should review your settings, and adjust the privacy levels as appropriate.

That fixes the immediate problem. But more than that: we need to make understood that anyone starting a new social networking system must make it opt-in, not opt-out. Corporations that have possession of our e-mail addresses and can jumpstart a social network system by involuntarily joining us up to it, must learn that this is counterproductive as well as wrong.

Opt out of Yahoo’s attempt to use our info. Then, please, post the link to EFF’s page somewhere public: say you opted out, say why, and ask other people to do the same thing and pass the word along. Let us make clear to these corporations that we will frustrate their attempts to make use of us in this way.

May 24, 2010

ConDem: More privacy for rapists

Three years ago David Cameron, now Prime Minister, called for tougher sentences for rapists, saying too many men “think they can get away with it”. (BBC)

Now he’s Prime Minister, he seems to have decided that the important thing is to preserve the privacy of rapists.

It’s generally agreed by crime statistics compilers that the percentage of false accusations in rape is no greater than the percentage of false accusations of any other crime (around 4%) – and the police are pretty good (some would say overly good) at weeding out the false accusations before the case is given to the criminal justice system and they decide whether or not to prosecute.

It’s also confirmed that most rapes – more than half – go unreported, because the victim either can’t believe herself (or himself – men are even less likely to report rape than women) that she was raped, or is sure she won’t be believed.

Once a case of rape gets to court, slightly over half the cases win a conviction.

Anyone accused of a crime has the right in a court of law to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But we don’t generally have a problem with the idea that even though Fred Bloggs was found innocent in court of stealing the lead from the local church, still everyone local is pretty damn sure Bloggs did it, given the locally known circumstancial evidence of missing lead from the roof, Bloggs seen around the church at the right time, and Bloggs suddenly acquiring some inexplicable money from somewhere unknown. And it’s perfectly okay to report all of this in the local paper, once the trial’s done and Bloggs has been acquitted.

Fred Bloggs also has a habit of picking up young women, taking them out to dinner, going on a second date in which he gets her drunk, offers to “drive her home”, drives her instead to an out-of-the-way place to rape her, an then drives her home, pointing out to her on the way that if she talks, he’ll just say it was consensual, and there’ll be no evidence. Eventually one of them reports to the police, who arrest Bloggs, who maintains the young woman was “gagging for it”, and as she was drunk and admits herself that she went out on a date with Bloggs before he raped her, the jury decides “insufficient evidence” and acquits. And to protect Bloggs’ good name, the local paper is not allowed to report that Fred Bloggs does this – or any identifying details which might help anyone realise that the man acquitted is good old Fred Bloggs, last seen at the Slug and Lettuce courteously helping his drunken date into his car for a drive home.

Why all the concern for the men accused and acquitted – most of whom did actually commit rape, even if they couldn’t be convicted – while no concern whatsoever for the victims, whose rape can’t “unhappen” just because the rapist walked free?

May 23, 2010

Pro-life is what they call themselves, part 4.5

In response to a comment on Feministe, which asserted: I don’t think any of the Catholics in question really, truly believe that if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger because of her pregnancy, she then deserves to die. That’s really kind of a ridiculous thing to say.

Well, yes, it is kind of a ridiculous thing to say – it’s both absurd and evil.

But it’s true – and not just of Catholics. There is a strand of thinking, and many of them have been arguing publicly over the last couple of days about this, that if a woman is going to die if she doesn’t have an abortion, she should die. They really, truly believe that a pregnant woman with the choice of abortion or death deserves death.

The discussion here on What’s wrong with the world illustrates this, with both Catholics and Protestants defending as a general good that idea that death is better for a pregnant woman.

But I think the reason they argue this way, positively in favor of death for the women and against life-saving abortions, is because for them death isn’t quite real – or the women who are dying.

Sister McBride probably believes quite strongly that abortion is wrong. Were we to discuss this issue in any normal circumstance, we’d probably have a massive argument. But she works in a hospital: she belongs to an order who care for the sick. For her, the decision to provide an abortion wasn’t, as it is to these religious people arguing that she should have let the woman die, a matter of airy theoretical bloodless law, but a real woman who was really dying. And faced with that reality, Sister McBride chose life.

I am absolutely certain that neither Gerard Nadal nor Bishop Olmsted has ever in his life been faced with a decision of such moral magnitude. For him, the death of a woman in pregnancy is something unreal and distant, a halo and an odor of sanctity.

“Must then a Christ die in every generation to save those that have no imagination?” Shaw asked, and the answer always seems to be, horribly, yes. But worse than that: for Nadal and his ilk, Christ must die in childbirth in front of them, before they can see they’re hammering in the nails.
(more…)

May 21, 2010

Pro-life is what they call themselves, part 4

This is why pro-lifers shouldn’t be allowed near hospital administration:

Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had “right heart failure,” and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was “close to 100 percent.”

The patient, who was too ill to be moved to the operating room much less another hospital, agreed to an abortion. NPR

This isn’t an “ethical dilemma” even on the level of my last Pro-life is what they call themselves post: this wasn’t a situation where the pregnant woman might have been kept alive for long enough as a hosting mechanism so that the fetus could survive.

According to a professor of theology at Boston College the official church position mandates that the pregnant woman is allowed to die with her fetus, because “the Catholic perspective” is that performing an abortion is evil, and “you can’t do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means”.

John Ehrich, who is the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix (he now has a front-page letter on his St Thomas the Apostle parish website, from which I’m quoting), says “It is not better for a woman to have to live the rest of her existence knowing that she had her child killed because her pregnancy was high risk. When we try to control every possible situation in life, we end up playing the role of God. As people of faith we know that our lives are always in God’s hands. In these situations the reality of our dependence upon Him becomes ever more clear and pronounced.”

In short: a woman who is dying, who will live if she has an abortion, should be let die. Along with the fetus she is carrying, of course – no 11-week fetus will survive if the pregnant woman dies.

That’s pro-life theology: two deaths are better than one. That’s why no hospital should ever permit medical decisions to be made by people who will put their religious beliefs ahead of the patient.

Sister Margaret McBride is a nun of the Sisters of Mercy, founded in Ireland, “vowed to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education with a special concern for women and children”. Canon law mandated automatic excommunication: whether an excommunicated nun is then expelled from her Order is up to the leadership of the Order.

Sister McBride acted in the spirit of her Order’s mission:

Mercy saves lives, lifting people everywhere out of desperation and sorrow, out of hunger, impoverishment and illness.

Mercy enriches souls, bringing spirit, laughter and hope to those who thought they were lost.

Can you imagine how the family and friends of that woman whose life was saved would have felt – a friend, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, taken to hospital gravely ill – and then the hospital simply puts her to bed and lets her die, even though they could have saved her?

As a matter of contrast, though acting to save a woman’s life by performing an abortion got “automatic excommunication”, ordained priests in Arizona who are known to have sexually abused children were never excommunicated.

For Michael Teta and Robert C. Trupia: the Vatican took years to examine their cases and finally have them laicized: but a 2004 report names 44 priests who served in Arizona who are credibly accused of molesting children. (YumaSun) Some may have been laicized. None were excommunicated.

Pope Benedict XVI said “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. There may be legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

So there may be “legitimate diversity of opinion” about whether or not it’s okay to rape a child. But saving a woman’s life when her pregnancy is killing her? That’s always wrong.

The Pope says so. Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix says so. The “medical ethics” priest of Phoenix says so. Raping a child.. legitimate diversity! Performing an abortion so that one life is lost instead of two:

If a Catholic formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion, they are automatically excommunicated by that action. The Catholic Church will continue to defend life and proclaim the evil of abortion without compromise, and must act to correct even her own members if they fail in this duty.

“Defending life”, of course, in the strange Catholic sense meaning “Let the pregnant woman die”.

I have no problem with the Pope and the bishops and the priests of the Catholic Church arguing as a theological principle that it’s wrong to perform abortions. I do have a problem when their religious beliefs are allowed to make pro-life decisions in hospitals where pro-life reasoning has no place: pro-lifers may feel that two deaths are better than one, but no doctor or nurse or any other health professional ought to let that theological reasoning override their professional standards of care for their patient.


Update: Just in case anyone was in doubt about the correct Catholic position on saving a woman’s life, there’s a post by Elizabeth Scalia, who also blogs as The Anchoress, all about how when a woman is dying and an abortion will save her life, the Catholic thing for her doctors to do is let her die – after all, if God wants her to live, God will save her. (In this kind of thinking, Catholics really don’t need to run hospitals, because if someone’s broken their leg or their appendix has burst, well, if they’re meant to live, God will save them: if they die because the leg wasn’t set or because the appendix wasn’t removed, well, God obviously wanted them dead.)

Michael Liccone’s post on the same site is almost a sideline (since the main issue for most people is the publicity about the substandard care that a Catholic hospital is required to provide by the Church’s ethical code): he points out that Bishop Olmsted sidestepped a pastoral disagreement by declaring that Sister McBride had excommnicated herself – which meant the bishop did not have to engage with the nun or pay attention to any medical evidence which would have justified the abortion according to a Catholic directive that was thought to imply that it was OK to perform an abortion if it was to save the woman’s life. (This is substandard, because it may well mean the woman will be literally at the point of death before the hospital can elect to save her: a Catholic hospital is required to be indifferent to a pregnant woman’s health and wellbeing, regardless of what long-term damage may be caused, which a secular hospital is not.)

The comments thread to the post (and to the echoed post) however makes clear that to many ardent Catholics, Bishop Olmsted’s position is the moral high ground: Catholics stand for letting pregnant woman die rather than performing an abortion. I’d say that was disturbing, but it’s also not uncommon: it’s just pro-life to let women die.

Plus this frankly amusing post by a Catholic who appears to feel that the real problem isn’t that the woman’s life was saved, but that the woman’s life was saved by a Catholic hospital – if she’d known she might die, she should obviously have gone to some other hospital where they have no moral objection to saving pregnant woman’s lives. (I agree with that, but this guy’s post is just so NIMBYish about it: why must these pesky pregnant women behave as if they thought the hospital should just act to save their lives?) (I felt slightly sorry for mocking because Nadal was very polite when I joined a discussion here, but he did acknowledge in the course of the discussion that there was a NIMBYish element to his opposition: and he presents here in detailed response to a doctor’s comments, his own settled belief that the Catholic Church’s position is that the pregnant woman should have been left to die: it was morally wrong to save her life.)

May 12, 2010

Wednesday Recipe Blogging: ConDem Cocktail

Ingredients:

    306 Conservative MPs
    57 Liberal Democrat MPs
    A shot of ambition
    A double-shot of lust for power

Mix in tall jug of disbelieving horror

Pour into House of Commons

Add two public schoolboys

Scream and refuse to drink it.

Jokes on Twitter about ConDem compromises: (tag: #torylibdempolicies)

1. Gay people to be allowed to have a bed but not breakfast at Christian B&Bs.
2. The UK will remain in Europe, but strictly in the geographical sense.
3. Terminally ill patients will have the right to die… but only if they can’t afford to pay for their care.
4. Proportional representation Rupert Murdoch style – the more money you have, the more votes you get.
5. A cap on immigrants, but only for immigrants who arrive not wearing a cap.
6. Split Easter Bunny from Santa Claus so they can operate as 2 different organisations. Sell 49% of shares in Santa and reinvest in the Tooth Fairy.
7. Red tape to be cut… into little strips about 6 inches long and used to tie Diploma Certificates into bundles – to burn (Alternatively: Red tape to be replaced with muddy green tape.)
8. More funding to help under-privileged kids, through a series of new “workhouses”. Sure start scheme for chimney sweeps.
9. Immigrants to be rounded up and killed but their heirs made exempt from inheritance tax.
10. All bribes to be taken in Euros.
11. Bankers to be allowed hedge funds if they stick to privet.
12. Massive wall to be built across English Channel. With a door.
13. Gay partnerships allowed Wed to Fri only. Winter fuel allowance cut except for Old Etonians. Sure Start on Thursdays.
14. Public schoolboys’ fags to receive minimum wage.
15. Gay married couples to get a £150 tax break… towards a one way air fare to anywhere outside the British empire.
16. An open and free, unbiased media. Owned by Rupert Murdoch.
17. Full support for Europe, but refer to the ‘The British Empire’ within ear-shot of any euro-sceptics.
18. Massive cuts to public services, spread proportionately across the north, Scotland and Wales.
19. William the Hague to form stable whilst Nick the Clegg mucks out. Horses surprised.
20. A penny on income tax for schools, no sorry a penny OFF income tax paid for by schools.
21. Proportional representation in LibDem seats – forever.
22. All domestic staff to be given Right To Buy Own Aga and to receive a Golden Retriever Allowance.
23. Proportional representation, but only for the House of Lords
24. Fair taxes for all foreigners living abroad.
25. Reduce the deficit slowly, to allow for tax cuts to the rich.
26. New businesses needn’t pay their first ten employees, particularly if they are gay or immigrants.
27. British Summer Time scrapped in favour of Proportional Daylight Savings. Scottish kids to start school at 3am.
28. London Marathon reformed to abolish first past the post wins.
29. Trident to be scrapped and replaced by Lord Ashdown, the only peer trained to kill with his bare hands.
30. Compulsory moats round all homes to increase water storage.

March 2, 2010

Catholic Charities reminds employees that promoting homophobia more important than caring for the sick

CEO of Catholic Charities to staff: “I am writing to you to inform you of an important change to our group health care benefit plan that will take effect on March 2, 2010 due to a change in the law of the District of Columbia. It is important to note that the existing health coverage of current employees will not be affected by the change. New employees and current employees requesting revisions in benefit coverage will be affected by this change.” – Letter from Catholic Charities president and CEO to staff

Because same-sex couples will be able to get married, and because Catholic Charities are not allowed to offer health care coverage to spouses in mixed-sex marriages only, they have the choice of denying health care to all spouses who become eligible to join the plan after 2nd March – which will bar all couples in same-sex marriages, as they won’t be able to get married until after that date – or continue to offer health-care coverage to all spouses, even if that means some lurking closety gay spouse of an employee of Catholic Charities finds himself the recipient of health care that the Catholic Church believes he does not deserve.

Which are the two great precepts of Charity and the seven Corporal Works of Mercy?
1. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God hate gay people with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength’.
2. ‘Thou shalt love promote homophobia to thy neighbour as to thyself’.

1. To feed the hungry except for queers;
2. To give drink to the thirsty except for queers;
3. To clothe the naked except for queers;
4. To harbour the harbourless except for queers;
5. To care for the sick promote homophobia;
6. To visit the imprisoned except for queers;
7. To bury the dead except for queers.

This isn’t even their first-response reaction to finding out they’d have to act like they thought gay people deserved health care as much as straights do: on 17th February the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington formally announced that they believe promoting homophobia is more important than caring for children, too.

You have to wonder: how long can the Catholic Church go on promoting the idea that for Catholics homophobia is a core value which comes before everything else? Mormons got away with promoting the idea that racism is a core value for their faith for well over a century: does this mean Catholicism will be able to push homophobia as a required doctrine into the 2080s?

I hope not, but there is a positive side here: prior beliefs claimed by Catholics that corporeal works of mercy mattered led to Catholic charities becoming heavily involved in social services, with their own pro-lifer tweaks and biases helping to promote pro-life beliefs among the helpless. If the Catholic Church is now taking the position that promotion of homophobia comes before everything else, and therefore it must refuse to provide social services where it is not allowed to promote homophobia, maybe this will mean a gradual drawing away of the power of the Catholic Church to affect society negatively?

It’s ugly, though. There isn’t really an upside. The power of a strong Church determined that its followers shall promote bigotry as a core value of their faith is just… ugly.

January 29, 2010

Pro-life terrorist found guilty of first-degree murder

Scott Roeder, the pro-lifer who assassinated Doctor George Tiller on 31st May 2009, has today been convicted of premeditated, first-degree murder.

Roeder will be sentenced on 9th March 2010 – the day after International Women’s Day, which seems fitting, given his role in the US’s homegrown terrorist campaign against family planning and healthcare for women.

George Tiller’s willingness to save women’s lives by aborting late-term pregnancies had made him a target for the pro-lifer terrorists for decades before his death. His clinic was bombed in 1986: in 1993 he had been shot in both arms. But, with literally unimaginable courage and dedication, he had carried on working

Roeder was inspired to commit his murder by American TV-style Christian evangelism: he had knelt down and accepted Christ as his saviour in 1992 after watching the 700 club. According to his own testimony, as early as 1993 he planned to kill Tiller, and had fantasised about many different methods, including mutilating Tiller by chopping off both his hands: he thought of shooting George Tiller at his clinic, using a sniper rifle from a nearby church… but in the end what this Christian pro-lifer did was very simple: he walked into the church where Tiller welcoming the incoming congregation, put a gun to his victim’s head, and shot dead a man who had saved thousands of women’s lives.

What can we say? Except be relieved that the US courts can in fact convict terrorists of their crimes. Except acknowledge, publicly, what happened: Doctor George Tiller was a hero. Scott Roeder, his murderer, is a Christian pro-lifer who drew inspiration for his crime from the misogynistic brand of Christianity that fuels America’s most active homegrown terrorist movement.

Anyone who identifies themselves as a pro-lifer in America is identifying themselves with Scott Roeder and the other terrorists and murderers who attack women, healthcare for women, and women’s human rights, as well as the doctors, nurses, and other clinic staff who live in fear of the ironically-named pro-life movement in America.

The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral option

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