Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Hardball or Hardheadedness?

Posted by bsflag2007 on Monday, November 20, 2006

I like true leadership in an elected official – and I don’t believe in pure “majority rule”. In theory, the proclamations made by our fearless leaders – who vow to stand on principle, popular opinion notwithstanding – fit my view of the role of a good leader.

However …. there is steadfast, then there is stubborn.

There is leadership that persuades through sheer force of logic, reason and passion. Then there is stomping your feet and holding your breath till you turn blue…

Then there is the current republican leadership in Washington that continues to stain all who identify themselves with the party with the splatter as they continue to stomp their bloody stumps.

Apparently the recent election results were not a referendum on policy, philosophy, or direction…. they were a challenge to find ways to jam the ideological agenda down the throats of the infidels at a more desperate pace and with less concern for even a veneer of finesse.

Local politicians will continue to bear the brunt of the backlash as frustration with the inability of the electorate to make their voices heard – and responded to – on a national level.

A previous post pointed out the extraordinarily tone deaf elections of the same old same old blundering …… leaders …. for the now minority republican leadership in the congress —- but take a good look at the in your face, bird flipping that the white house has given women of reproductive age in recent days.

” The Bush administration, to the consternation of its critics, has picked the medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex, contraception and abortion to lead the office that oversees federally funded teen pregnancy, family planning and abstinence programs.”

This guy, Keroack, is the medical director of A Woman’s Concern, a Christian nonprofit based in Dorchester, Massachusetts which “runs six centers in the state that offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and counseling.” However, the more telling mission is found in its “statement of faith” where it claims to “help women escape the temptation and violence of abortion.”

It opposes contraception, saying its use increases out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion rates. “A Woman’s Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness,” its contraception policy reads in part.

“Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said “common sense” initiatives might include requiring health insurance companies to cover birth control, requiring that emergency contraception be available at hospitals for rape victims, and ensuring that sex education for young people includes accurate information about contraceptives.” OMG, heresy!
“The appointment of anti-birth control, anti-sex education advocate Dr. Eric Keroack to oversee the nation’s family planning program is striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation’s priorities,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

These lunatic democrats were hoping that the new congress would be able to advance programs proved to reduce unwanted pregnancies and premature sexual activity among teenagers – like education, accurate contraception information, and programs that encourage hope for brighter futures.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins sums up the desperate view “… anticipate the fiercest assault of our time against abstinence, marriage, life, good judges, and religious freedom,” Perkins wrote this week in the National Review.

The rightwingnuts are so frightened by that prospect they are determined to pre-emptively strike to cripple teen programs before the dems can turn all teens into hormone driven sex maniacs ….. wait, didn’t God make them hormone driven sex maniacs? Seems reasonable to me to arm them with birth control and high school diplomas.

But then, I’m not the President of the United States — and he “ain’t listening to nobody” — especially the ignorant voters.


59 Responses to “Hardball or Hardheadedness?”

  1. Freemarket said

    Republicans seem to think that issues like abortion and teen pregnancy are really about religion, not doing what is best for society. I don’t understand why Christian zealots like Bush want to jam their personal religious voo-doo down everyone’s throat to the point of harming the people. At the State level, my district has two elected Christian missionaries, Gail Bates and Warren Miller, who are trying to legislate the Bible by opposing birth control and the like. Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for standing idly by and letting these irrational evangelicals make a mockery of their party.

  2. MBT said

    Freemarket – EXCUSE ME? “Personal religious voo-doo?” who is being irrational and intolerant now?

    Perhaps you could move into my district and have Shane Pendergrass represent you as she bangs her desk top during Assembly prayer. Perhaps she’s chasing away the voo-doo hex of those awful Christian zealots.

  3. Freemarket,

    WOW! People may not agree on these issues, but it isn’t about religion for everyone. I think abortion and teen pregnancy are social issues and religious issues. Just because a person doesn’t support abortion rights or the morning after pill for teens doesn’t make them religious/christian zealots.

    Is everyone who is “pro-life” a religious zealot? Not by a long shot. They get more press time than the rest of us, but they are not the majority.

    You obviously don’t know Gail or Warren – otherwise you wouldn’t make such rash statements.

    I oppose abortion with some exceptions. I don’t only think about women’s rights I think about the fetus’ rights. Does that make me a zealot? Do fetus’ have rights? They should. We are not talking about horses are we?

    I also don’t support sexual activity among teens. Does that mean they are not going to have sex? Of course not. Does that make me a religious zealot? No.

    Blue Dog Democrats and the likes of Bob Casey are not religious zealots either. These folks are now a large chunk of the Democratic Party.

    I just don’t know how to address the sweeping generalities you are making. Really, I didn’t expect such sweeping generalities from you. Normally you are much more rational.

    “You learn something new everyday.”

  4. Freemarket said

    MBT- I’m truly sorry if I ruffled your feathers, but I will not be tolerant of intolerance. What is rational and tolerant about religion? As far as Shane Pendergrass goes, if I could trade representatives with you, I’d be more than happy to.

    David- sure these issues are not about religion for everyone, just as not everyone who voted for Ken Ulman did so to send a message to Bush. I didn’t intend for my comments to be applied so broadly. But for many people, these issues are about religion. In the case of Bush, Bates, and Miller, I believe that they are motivated by religion. Bates and Miller have the Christian Coalition linked to their website, and Bush does everything he can to please his evangelical base.

  5. David,

    I think you hit on part of the central issue for me – these things have social and religious components — my feeling is the government should be legislating the social ones, and leave the religious aspects to the various churches.

    The old “separation of church and state” pillar of our republic.

    The argument that the founding fathers were pious “men” who practiced their religions fervently is often used by the “right” to assert a church/state connection — but I would argue that the founding fathers were some of the most “zealous” defenders of the separation because of their fervent religious observances.

    They did not want any of their fellow zealots getting a political stronghold over them.

    The issue today is the folks who put so much energy in measuring relative faithfulness/piousness and declaring themselves the “most faithful”…. The folks who want to blend the pulpit with the bench are “generally” convinced that the “rest of us” are not pious enough. They want to save us from ourselves.

    I just think they need to be required to do their “saving” from the pulpit.

    Many of these questions have both social and religious questions – and logically also have both social and religious answers.

    I would not expect the government to be able to make me do something that goes against a tenet of my religion — nor do I expect any religion to be able to use my government to require me to do something against my will in order to adhere to someone else’s relgious tenets.

    For your consideration — how would the same people who added “under god” to the “pledge of allegiance” feel if it were changed to say “…one nation, under Allah….”

    CIndy V.

  6. numbersgirl said

    Freemarket: “What is rational and tolerant about religion?”

    Intolerance is not the fault of religion, but the fault of those who improperly wield religion to perpetuate their ignorance and malevolence. If more of those people (evangelicals) embraced the “love thy neighbor” or “judge not lest ye be judged” parts, we wouldn’t have the problems we do today.

  7. huge distinction between “religion” and “organized religion” — one is benign, individual — the other is just one of many political bodies designed to organize, govern and regulate the behavior of people.

    I have no issue with individuals bringing their deeply held religious beliefs with them to the political table — in the hope that a considered, non-ego centric world view will benefit all.

    I do have a significant problem with the political machinery of organized religion taking an active role in the society in which I have chosen to live.

    big, big difference …. and for purposes of this forum, a bone of contention trickling both up and down the local to national political spectrum.


  8. Freemarket said

    Numbers- I see your point about evangelicals misusing the bible to spread ignorance and hate. For example, Leviticus 18:22 is the only part of the bible that speaks ill of homosexuals, but many evangelicals put as much or more effort into that single passage (which has probably been mistranslated) than the effort they put forth in helping the poor, which the Bible speaks about much more frequently.

    However, I don’t believe that mortality has its origin in religion, so I think that the Bible is unnecessary. Even if it were proven that God does not exist, would everyone suddenly become robbers and murders? No. I don’t need the Bible to tell me not to kill people. Common sense does that.

  9. jen said

    Opposing abortion may be a moral issue and not a religous issue.

    A religous stand against abortion may be black or white. A moral stand may be gray.

    Is it moral to require a rape victim to carry a fetus to term in all cases? Is it moral to prohibit a single unwed mother of four to have an abortion in any case?

    Does the 16 year old, child of wealthy suburbia parents have the same moral rights to abortion as a 16 year old child of poor inner single mother?

    How do you legislate the gray areas of morality?

    Can you oppose abortion and favor the death penalty?

  10. For the most part I oppose both abortion and the death penalty on moral grounds rooted in my religious upbrining. Pope John Paul II refered to it as the “culture of death” in his “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and to the World) message on Christmas 2000.

    When it comes to decisions regarding life and death I see little gray. It isn’t all black and white.

    I am very disheartened by the industry that has sprung up around abortion. There were 17 States that permited abortion prior to Roe V Wade. Since that decision abortion has become an industry. Now don’t go off the handle. There are times when I think abortion is acceptable (though still a sad and difficult choice), but for the most part abortion is available on demand. Abortion on demand is the industry I speak of. The money involved in abortion is so large that it is now its own constituency larger than those who want to protect a woman’s right to choose. Many in medical profession who preform abortions, but outside the industry money machine, decry the easy money being made at the cost of a life.

    I think for the most part (and the polls are beginning to show this) that American’s overwhelmingly support abortion rights, but do not support abortion on demand.

    As far as the Christian Coalition, I am not a member. However, their position on abortion is similiar to mine. The exceptions are rape, incest, and life of the mother.

    As far as teenagers and abortion. I want to be the first to help and not the last to know.

  11. bsflag2007 said

    While I truly respect the sincerety of feeling behind the position that abortion is fundamentally wrong – you have set out a menu of positions which is not unusual, but still contradictory.

    I wonder if you would indulge a few questions in the interest of wider understanding.

    First – if abortion and the death penalty are morally wrong, is this because it is the intentional taking of human life — which according to the Catholic Church is the sole province of the single diety “God”?

    if that is correct….and the intentional taking of life is wrong… then why can there be exceptions for rape and incest?

    Second, while it is undeniably true that some very small minority of abortions are the result of a very morally repugnant carelessness —- most are tragic events in the lives of the women involved, carefully considered and mourned.

    When you say that Americans support reproductive rights but not abortion on demand… is it your understanding that the women who should not be “allowed” to abort an unwanted pregnancy are the ones who are morally repugnant, careless sorts who use abortion instead of birth control?

    If so- my question is, is your prefered alternative to “force” the miscreants to carry pregnancies to term— and then become the caregiver to aqn unwanted infant?


  12. jen said

    Perhaps it isn’t the “intentional taking of human life is the sole provence of God” that stops us in our tracks. Perhaps its just the violence of the act itself. Yet if the pregnancy itself was caused by violence and continuing it causes great emotional distress because of the means of conception… than supporting that pregnancy also becomes a means of supporting violence. And then- you choose- truly- the lesser of two evils. And that choice is dependent upon so many factors that a law and our current legal system could never address the complexity adequately. Which is why although I don’t support abortion, I don’t believe we can legislate against it. We can, however, work to eliminate it in other ways.

  13. gnutp said

    I for one would prefer my leaders have some grounding in some aspect of “faith.” Any leader who thinks that they are only accountable to the voters troubles me and I question their judgement. But that is not to say that such leaders will not make mistakes in judgement. I believe that there is more fear and intolerance against religion than against problems that truly ail this country.

  14. bsflag2007 said

    When a person says “i don’t ‘support’ abortion…” – what does he mean?
    There really isn’t a movement underway trying to recruit women to have abortions….
    There really aren’t people out there who think it is a “fine way to spend the afternoon”….
    I have never heard of anyone suggesting that it is an uplifting or enlightening experience or adventure….

    If we can keep the language straight, maybe we can keep the issues straight.

    Politically speaking one either supports the right of individual women to have reproductive control over their bodies —- or they support state/government control over the decisions regarding the functioning of each individual woman’s womb.

    The real question is who gets to decide whether choosing to end a pregnancy is right/wrong, black/white, necessary or not — the vessel or the government.

    Having the “right” to exercise control over one’s body does not REQUIRE an individual to have an abortion — and I agree with the Bill Clinton statement that abortion ought to be “safe, legal and rare.”

    However, as my original post points out — the assualt on reproductive rights by the current republican administration goes beyond what rights a woman has after she becomes pregnant…. this administration is making it more likely that unwanted pregnancies will occur by systematically depriving women of reproductive age and capacity access to accurate contraceptive information, devices and pharmaceuticals.

    Abortion is only part of the equation….


  15. bsflag2007 said

    A previous poster wrote:
    “Yet if the pregnancy itself was caused by violence and continuing it causes great emotional distress because of the means of conception… than supporting that pregnancy also becomes a means of supporting violence. And then- you choose- truly- the lesser of two evils.”
    Wouldn’t this be a case of “two wrongs don’t make a right”?

    or, if it is somehow “palatable” to allow for this sadly tragic option under some circumstances…. doesn’t the government lose the moral standing to make the decision?

    What if we say that those who choose to follow the “laws” of their own “church” are free to do that…. and those who are faced with making “lesser of two evils” decisions make them for themselves?

  16. MBT said

    Sorry in advance for the length of this post.

    Why legislate any “moral” issues? Afterall, if you went out and pummeled Tim McVeigh to death after you saw him leave the scene of the Oklahoma bombing, you did society a favor, right? He was going to get the death penalty anyway, cost of a trial, etc….? We legislate morals all the time. The issue of abortion has been decided by the supreme court and even if they reversed their opinion, I don’t see too much of a change in law for most states. It is now larely a topic of discussion and debate. The issue has only come up once in the last 4 years that I am aware – the Plan B pill and the discussion was only over whether girls should be given access without parents’ permission or knowledge – like ANY DRUG.

    The point is that the fear of religion stated on some of these posts is frightening. Has Freemarket or cv ever attended a charismatic service? I am not an evengelical (at least I don’t think so – but Freemarket probably thinks I’m a zealot because I believe in the Bible), but I have never heard hate preached in any church – and I have been to many different types. Teenage preganacies happen in those congregations too – and they work with the families and both kids – they don’t expect the government to solve their problems.

    Don’t confuse TV evangleists with real Christians any more than you should view soap operas or sitcoms as being real life (although Archie and Edith Bunker came close to a few folks I knew once… 🙂 ). The faith community (Christian, Jewish and Muslim) works very hard in the community trying to solve many of the problems that our Mommycrat government either can’t or won’t solve. How many of you have worked in soup kitchens in Baltimore or rebuild homes of folks who can’t help themselves, or just worked in the community doing those jobs that just need to be done? I hope you have – it is a very rewarding experience. Gail Bates has been very active in Christmas in April and Warren Miller helped to build the Lisbon Fire house – board by board – not because of their faith, but because it needs to be done. If that is cramming their religion on the rest of us, I hope for more of it. They are not saving souls, they are saving lives.

    How many government agenices are active in the violent streets of Baltimore – oops – I’m not supposed to mention all the crime in O’Malley’s turf… The faith community has been there for years – saving lives, building relationships and supporting each other. The government agencies that are there – police, social workers, etc. are often staffed by folks that often lean on their own faith for the strength to face the harsh realities of the families that live there. I just attended a funeral of the son of a family friend that was senslessly shot on the streets of Baltimore. I guess the church of the family that are now sustaining the mother left all alone in this world are intolerant religious zealots who are too hung up in hate to console each other. “I see your point about evangelicals misusing the bible to spread ignorance and hate.” Well, Freemarket – at that funeral, was a lot of praying for the family of the killers too, but I guess there was too much ignorance and hate there for any of us to notice.

    Is love only possible among Christians? Of course not – and neither is ignorance and intolerance, although most Christians recognize it and try to stop it. Jesus went to people that good church folks weren’t supposed to go: protitutes, tax collectors, sick folks, lepers, and those horrible Samaritans… I am sure he would be in the homes of AIDS patients, gays, prostitutes, etc. and I am sure he would share some meals with an Imam or two (and probably even your home, too Freemarket 🙂 ). But of course, we are too blinded by ignorance, intolerance and hate to recognize the message that all people are our brothers and sisters and any judging needs to be left to God. We are not perfect, but most of us are doing what we can to try.

    It is a shame you have all of us boxed into your sterotyped world that you have demonized us all. My feathers aren’t ruffled. Please don’t trivialize my faith and the faith of so many so lightly.

  17. bsflag2007 said

    MBT has made a passionate argument for the good communities with common bonds can do in society – I would argue this is true whether the bonds are based on a shared view of religious faith or not.

    But that strays from the central question of what role SPECIFIC religion based should play in state/government laws.

    there is one point in this post I would like to address- MBT said

    “The issue of abortion has been decided by the supreme court and even if they reversed their opinion, I don’t see too much of a change in law for most states. It is now larely a topic of discussion and debate. The issue has only come up once in the last 4 years that I am aware -”

    The legislative, judicial and govermental activity surrounding the practical availability of access to reproductive health care for women – young and old(er) – is being manipulated constantly.

    The conflict arises when the arguments presented to guide legislative policy based on public health are overridden by religion based concepts.

    I realize it is very difficult for most people to look at these questions objectively – the reflex is to take dissenting opinions as personal criticisms – but for the sake of discussion, let’s try the “present company excluded” rule. I assume that anyone willing to engage in open debate/discussion is not a closed minded zealot.

    With that in mind — getting back to the politics of separation of church and state and the public policy issues surrounding reproductive health and legal rights….

    ….are there any arguments other than the modified religious concepts that young people should not be sexually active – that make it sound public policy to deny sexually active young people access to accurate contraceptive/desease prevention information — and devices?

    Alterations to the “decided law” of Roe v Wade are not theoretical or periodic topics for debate as the recent appointment of Dr. Karoac to administer family planning programs shows. This is an appointment designed to manipulate the practical application of public policy away from the issues of public health in support of SPECIFIC religious beliefs.

    For your consideration … what if an Orthodox Jew were elected president and put a Rabbi who believed everyone (regardless of religious affiliation) should keep kosher in charge of the Dept of Agriculture?

  18. Freemarket said

    Very well put CV.

  19. MBT said

    cv – a hypothetical situation that will never occur, similar to electing Pat Robertson, or a Catholic Cardinal, so it does not add to the argument.

    Would Lieberman propose such a rule? I think not.

    Also, I guess it is ok to appoint someone who advocates “everything goes” over someone who feels there needs to be some limits (within what the law allows, of course). Somehow, if someone is appointed that advocates something in line with religious concepts (whether or not that is the reason for their position), that is BAD and is “manipulating public policy,” but someone who advocates something that would be against a religious position, is somehow not “manipulating public policy” and that is GOOD. Any one who holds any appointment is manipulating public policy, and advocating against a religious position is in the same position as someone advocating for a religious position. It all boils down to whether you agree with it or not.

    Again, it appears that intolerance is only in the possession of “religious” folks. Perhaps a dose of the “Berkeley Free Speech Movement” is needed here…..

  20. First of all I must commend everyone commenting on this topic. It is such an emotional issue and so easy to make this discussion personal. Everyone is doing a great job keeping their heads straight.
    Cindy, you have said a couple of times something along these lines:
    “reproductive health care for women” “public health” “”right” to exercise control over one’s body”
    That is the rub for me. This isn’t only about the mother. It is about the life of an unborn child. That is what makes it so emotional and difficult. How does one balance out the life of the child and the rights of the mother. To me life wins most of the time.
    As to Roe – v – Wade. If it was overturned tomorrow not much would change. Regulating abortion would revert back to the States, where it belongs. Maryland would have very liberal abortion regulations. I suspect most States would.
    Does religion creep in on this issue? Sure does. Sometimes it comes in with a battering ram. Do other special interests creep in on this issue? Sure do. Sometimes they come in with a battering ram too. Point is – everyone has an interest in these issues. Everyone has a right (Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, Jew, Muslim, Planned Parenthood, NOW, etc) to voice an opinion and influence the outcome of decisions in all matters (not just this one). Seperation of Church and State doesn’t mean that religious people are not permitted to participate in the process. It balances out as it should in a democracy.
    In the end – abortion has been available in the US long before Roe V Wade and it will be available in the US long after Roe V Wade is overturned. At that point the States will regulate this “health care” measure without interference from the Feds. In that way the citizens of the individual States will adopt measures and regulations closer to their own views on abortion.

  21. bsflag2007 said

    For many average folks the notion that a fundamentalist Christian would be elected who would ignore the counsel of professional health providers and make public policy decisions based on his particular strain of christian faith was hard to imagine — but it is what we have.

    I think there may be some “all or nothing” thinking go on which is not the same as considered opinion.
    “Everything goes” and “some limits” are not what we are facing here. Have you actually looked at the “mission statement” of the new director?
    He isn’t just saying that young people should not have sex, and therefore should not need or have access to birth control — (which is flawed public policy in any event) he does not not believe in contraception as a matter of religious conviction — and seeks a position where he can impose his religious views on women as an agent for the state.
    Btw, I would define ignoring the overwhelming evidence and considered recommendations from trained professionals and replacing them with directives derived from personal religious concepts without any other basis to be a “manipulation” — and “bad” public policy.

    Also – your example of Lienerman is right on point — an individual can hold very dear religious feelings and practice them himself…. wihtout using his public position to impose those specific religious practices on the citizens.

    Can you honestly say that is not the case with Mr. Bush? Even he does not make that claim. That is one thing which is both admirable and despicable about Mr. Bush. He is right out front about his issues – now, though during his initial campaign he was much more evasive with his “compassionate conservative” rhetoric.

    Being guided by inner faith is a great and important trait, imho – using public position of power and trust to forward specific religious concepts, is unAmerican.


  22. Freemarket said

    MBT, I’d like to respond to a few of your statements. I don’t fear religion whatsoever. I am appalled at the negative effects that religion brings to the world. Christianity has made a debauchery of science with the ridiculous notion of creationism and the assertion that the world is 10,000 years old. The crazy idea of a flood wiping out everyone except those who build an ark. Raging war against reproductive rights. Turning homosexuality into a sin. Muslim women who have had their genitals mutilated (euphemistically called female circumcision). Extremists flying airplanes into buildings.

    Forgive me if I don’t want religion’s warped morality legislated by the government. Politicians should base their positions on reason and critical thought, not by resorting to the spirits that live outside of our world of space and time as some of them do.

    Since you asked, MBT, I was raised Christian and I have attended church for many years. Let me respectfully ask you- have you challenged your faith by reading Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bertrand Russell or any of thousands of other philosophers and scientists? If anyone is unwilling to challenge their faith, I would call that a symptom of indoctrination.

    I don’t mean to sound hostile and I apologize if I come off that way. I don’t have a problem at all with the idea of a God, for those who are into that sort of thing. I just am tired of seeing the religious right taking over the laws and social order of Maryland. That is the job of the homosexuals, according to the Maryland Association of Families.

  23. bsflag2007 said

    I agree with David that this discussion has been productive in many ways. It is my “belief” that most of us are not really as far apart on these issues as the rhetoric would suggest… and if we could get through the knee jerk reactions and emotional baggage to the underlying fundamental issues (no pun intended) we would see that and great progress could be made.

    For instance- David wrote earlier “I oppose abortion with some exceptions.”

    Let’s call this question 1 – Does this mean you subscribe to the “lesser of two evils” theory in some cases?

    If so, would it be fair to say that in spite of your deeply held personal sense that it is a “wrong” to terminate a pregnancy (which you see as “life”) you, as a rational human have made room for the sad and tragic possibility that sometimes it is an action you can “live with”?
    If so, who do yoou believe has the best view from which to make that important decision? The government? or the person carrying that “life”?

    Question 2. David also writes: “Finally I don’t only think about women’s rights I think about the fetus’ rights. Does that make me a zealot? Do fetus’ have rights? They should. We are not talking about horses are we?”

    Good question. For those who answered question 1 differently than you may have – that is to say they cannot make room for any intentional intervention in the reproductive process — this question is already answered.

    Remember – it was not that long ago that a woman giving birth in a Catholic run hospital knew that in the event of life threatening complications, it would be her life that was terminated for the sake of the child. Black and white dogma has the benefit of simplicity.

    But for those who looked at the practical applications of this dogmatic principle… and saw the mother of four or five young children die in childbirth so that a fifth or sixth new life could be brought into the world – partially orphaned, to a grieving father and siblings and said, this is a greater tragedy…

    Or the folks who have said that to force a woman to carry to term a pregnancy which was forced on her through violence and then face the terrible choice to either raise her own off-spring or “give it away”…. and said, this ia a greater “evil”…

    The question of fetus’ rights becomes a balancing act between the “rights” of the live, breathing, thinking, functioning woman … and the rights of what has been called “potential life” or “tissue cluster” or a developing zygote/embryo or fetus.

    So… if we’ve gotten this far- the questions become different. It is no longer a question of whether to “allow” abortion – but when and under what circumstances.

    Again, you have the question – who gets to make that decision? The state or the mother?

    Question 3. David writes” That is the rub for me. This isn’t only about the mother. It is about the life of an unborn child. That is what makes it so emotional and difficult. How does one balance out the life of the child and the rights of the mother. To me life wins most of the time.”

    O.K.– we’ve gotten to the balancing act – and now we have to set the scales.
    How far off are we so far?

    We are in the huge center lane – we’ve parcelled off the fringes who have decided any intervention in reproduction is wrong – in which case I don’t think they should ever be forced under any circumstances to undergo any interventive procedure — no matter what the rest of us decide can be allowable under certain circumstances….

    Are we all still on the same page?


  24. numbersgirl said

    David, re: “It is about the life of an unborn child.” This is very easy for a man to say. The only consequence a man will ever have to live with is a child support payment. If a man decides to back out of the decision to be a parent- for whatever reason- it is solely a financial issue. For a woman, there are physical consequences as well as legal consequences. Until you are saddled with the responsibility of carrying that unborn child to term, you cannot fully know the weight of the decision to do so, or not to do so. Women do not make the decision to abort willy-nilly, and I would say that the ones who do would be the ones who would be better off without children anyhow. And while I respect your stance on teen mothers and parental notification, I would point out that not all teenagers are so lucky to have understanding parents. In order to protect those whose lives would be in danger if they had to notify their parents, we must keep access to contraceptives and abortion open to all without mandating notification of any kind.

    Freemarket: Why is it that a Christian’s choice to believe in “spirits that live outside our world” is considered indoctrination, but your choice to believe in the writings of Dawkins or Russell is not? Haven’t you simply been indoctrinated by those holding a different position?

  25. Freemarket said

    I think CV has it. We really aren’t that far apart.

    Numbers- I don’t believe I have been indoctrinated, because I would change my position in a second if presented with a good argument to do so. You don’t indoctrinate someone by saying “Question religion”. You indoctrinate someone by saying “Don’t question religion.”

    David- It sounds like you don’t think that horse fetuses have moral rights. If that is the case, how did human fetuses get moral rights but not horse fetuses?

  26. MBT said

    Freemarket – I AM a scientist – I don’t need to read ABOUT them. Also, I don’t remember that I asked your religion (which is your own business), I just asked if you had attended a charsimatic service, since you kept dengrating evangelicals as ignorant. I would never call anyone ignorant, regardless of how I disagreed with them.

    I am appalled at the negative effects that anti-religious folks have brought into the world (Lenin, Stalin, Mao….).

    Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mother Thersa, Bishop Tutu, have all unabashedly leaned on their religious beliefs to bring good into the world. See, it is all based on your personal beliefs, not on the religion or lack thereof, which determines how you participate, or chose not to in society. Blaming religion for all the ills of the world, or blaming the lack of religion for all the ills of the world are equally incorrect.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a life-long Methodist, I believe that religious teachings belong at home and in religious settings, and that teaching of creatinism belongs in the same place. I have never advocated that the world is 10,000 years old and I have never waged war against reproductive rights. Don’t lump all Christians in the same group, but those who do believe such things are allowed to.

    Our elected officials should reflect the cross section of society, and since evengelicals are part of soceity as much as non-religious secular folks, our elected officials should reflect the cross section as well. Like it or not, we all have to accept that both Shane Pendergrass and her religious beliefs and Gail Bates, and her religious beliefs are democratically elected members of the same Assembly and both represent the cross section that were elected to be there.

    If you wish to live in a society where religion is banned, perhaps you could try China – my husband’s Chinese family could fill you in on what it is like to live there. Otherwise, accept the diversity of our nation which includes religious folks and intolerant ignorant people like myself who couldn’t possibly be enlightened enough to live in a cross-cultural family, who accepts homosexuals and while I adore the ground my husband walks on, I also have my own career.

    And if you think the religious right is taking hold of Maryland, perhaps I have been living in an alternative universe for the last 40 years.

  27. bsflag2007 said

    I don’t think the religious right has taken hold of Maryland — though just a few miles to the south it is a different story…. and the “official effects” would make your skin crawl — under certain circumstances.

    Again, pce (present company excluded), I am content to keep my opinion of the “world is 6,000 years old and all evidence to the contrary is wrong” to myself when in a social setting.

    It is a different story when folks who hold those beliefs enter the public forum and try to legislate offical, state sanctioned, action based on those beliefs. (like public school curiculi or civil versus religious marriage, or descrimination against individuals based on race, religion, sex, creed, sexual orientation, etc.)

    I would think that would be the official “republican” view – “keep the government off my back”/limited government.” Isn’t it interesting how “conservative” has “evolved” in recent years to mean “extensive government involvement in private affairs” — a significant departure for many of us… and “liberal” now stands for keeping the government out of my “personal faith”.


  28. Numbers, I don’t think it is fair to say a man doesn’t understand. I don’t have to walk in the shoes of a torture victim to know I don’t want to be a torture victim. To say a man doesn’t understand is to suggest a man has no compassion. I don’t think that is what you mean. However, a man understands more than you might think.
    Horse fetus’ have no rights. Horses are property. Horses will not develop in to a full human being. Human Fetus’ will develop into a full human being. Humans may be animals but Humans are the only animals that have a right to life.

    Also, I took a load of courses in Philosophy in College (I probably could have minored in Philosophy). Very interesting and demanding work. I stopped before Metaphysics. We studied all the basics from Aristotle to Bernard Williams. I see philosophy in every thing I read. It was required course work when I was in minor seminary. The Roman Catholic Church requires critical thinkers as priests – not robots. They challenged us to question all the time. I suspect that most religions require the same of their religious.

  29. numbersgirl said

    Freemarket- is your litmus test then, for indoctrination, a questioning of one’s own religious beliefs? Or is it the religious beliefs themselves?

    Your statements referring to “the ridiculous notion of creationism and the assertion that the world is 10,000 years old” would indicate that all Christians (or those of other spiritual faiths) are indoctrinated into such beliefs. But is someone who has examined his or her faith and arrived at the conclusion that there is a God still considered indoctrinated, according to your standards?

    You seem to infer that anyone who questions religion would come to the conclusion that it is bunk, and that any other conclusion is proof positive of indoctrination.

  30. bsflag2007 said

    Obviously I can’t speak for “freemarket” – but if I had used words like “indoctrination” in this context, it would have been another “pce” example.

    It is not the “critical thinkers” nor the “self examined” and how they carry on their private affairs that concern me. I have yet to meet anyone who fits that description who, when faced with the 6,000 year old earth theory, does not sort of shrug and say something about the bible not necessarily being literal.

    It isn’t even a question of the definition of “faith” being one that includes “belief in something greater than oneself” or “some form of all powerful or more powerful force or being” — I honestly have my doubts when someone announces to me that they don’t believe in “anything” else.

    That said….this discussion illustrates the need to keep the particulars of individual belief systems and definitions out of the public legislative process. As the founding fathers figured out – since we are unlikely to be able to agree on the minutia/specifics of “faith” – if we can agree to a general inherent “good versus evil” commonality – we can leave the specifics to the churches and the individuals — and leave the governing to the state.


  31. Freemarket said

    MBT, sorry I don’t have more time to devote to this, but here are some quick responses:
    “I am appalled at the negative effects that anti-religious folks have brought into the world (Lenin, Stalin, Mao….). “
    The difference is that these people you cite did not commit atrocities because they are atheists (at least there is no evidence to suggest that.) People who fly airplanes into buildings believe they are doing the work of God. They are doing these acts precisely because they are religious.
    The problem with China is not that they don’t have religion. They are suffering under Communism. Give them free markets and small government and see what happens. I’ll continue to live in the USA because this is my country.

  32. numbersgirl said

    David: “Humans are the only animals that have a right to life.” This is so sad to hear. As is your quote that horses are property. It wasn’t long ago that humans in this country were categorized similarly. It’s time that the people who fight so fervently in the defense of humans on the cellular level begin to defend life-all life-in its fully developed form.

    Freemarket: what about all the people who do good in this world precisely because they are religious? You name only the bad examples, and none of the good ones.

  33. Numbers,

    I respect all life. I don’t abuse or believe in abusing animals. BTW: I hate the circus. I can’t stand to watch those poor animals being degraded. However, I will never equate them with human life and I would never equate their position in life with that of a human (past or present).

    Horses are property in every legal sense.

  34. MBT said

    Freemarket – you didn’t comment on Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Bishop Tutu (who I met one time, BTW),….

    David is right – you left out the good folks.

    China bans religion, BTW, unless it is state sponsored.

  35. bsflag2007 said

    Did Ghandi et al do their “good deeds” for religious reasons – ie to further the interest/causes of their particular religions? or did they draw on their respective faiths to help them advance the human condition in general?

    Even within this example are three variations of “faith” – none of which would likely want to have the tenets of the others dictated to them by the government.


  36. Freemarket said

    Good points CV. Does anyone think these folks did good deeds only because they are religious? If it weren’t for Christianity King wouldn’t have fought for civil rights? Gandhi wouldn’t have had the desire to gain freedom of India without Hinduism? I think their religion is incidental their good work. I am reading a bio on Gandhi now. I think it would hard to pin him so a single religion or any religion. I personally believe that he spoke of God in a pantheistic manner. King had to write “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” because other pastors in his church were speaking out against him for demonstrating. I don’t think religion made these people tick.

  37. jen said

    “When a person says “i don’t ’support’ abortion…” – what does he mean?
    There really isn’t a movement underway trying to recruit women to have abortions….”

    I think you’d be surprised about how some schools and some websites and some mentors/adults talk about abortion to kids. Even in this Bush climate, if you were to do a survey of 8th grade girls and boys at the end of their health education and ask them their feelings about abortion I think they would- for the most part- say that it is the right solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Black and white answer to a big gray question. Whether it is the tone of voice of the instructor, whether it is what they choose to emphasize, whether it is what the child chooses to hear, whether it is the affluent suburban environment- I think you’d have a very high percentage of children telling you it is a right choice. Not a bad choice, not a neutral choice… but the right choice.

    And.. you might think as a pro-choice advocate that you don’t “support” abortion… but if you’ve talked to your children about this issue and let your feelings be known. They will simplify your message to be “abortion is the right or best choice”. Or.. worse yet… you only think you’ve had the conversation with your children. So here’s my challenge. It’s a nice long weekend- plenty of opportunity for family time. Take a moment to ask your child – without leading them- what they think about teenage pregnancy, birth control and abortion. Ask the question in a way that you can learn what they really think- you’ll have time to change their minds later- but use the moment as a flashbulb test. A moment in unguided opinion to see what your kids believe. I think you’ll be surprised. I’d love to hear about your experience.

  38. bsflag2007 said

    I happen to have a house full of 16 year old girls for the next couple of days — I’ll give it a whirl and let you know how it goes.

  39. tomberkhouse said


    I must say that you are missing one very important flaw in your comments on “religion” being the cause of so much atrocity in the world (I’m paraphrasing the litany of comments from you).

    The extremists DO NOT represent what religion is SUPPOSED to be. Religious extremists, or people who done horrible things in the name of their religion, whatever it may be, have twisted the religion to set themselves up as the deity (a god complex so to speak) which is in itself a grave sin. It is very inappropriate of you to dismiss a particular religion, or all religions for that matter, simply because a few people have mishandled (for lack of a better term) their religion.

    I go to church not because I’m perfect, but because I acknowledge that I’m not.

    For all the atrocities committed by religious people, there may be just as many committed by atheists. It really doesn’t matter what the religion (atheism is a religion too), it should only matter that an atrocity occurred and everything should be done to prevent it in the future.

    For those who don’t believe in God, take this simple “test”. Find a coffee mug and ask yourself how it came to be. If you said that it was made by someone, as opposed to spontaneously generating itself, congrats. Now, do you really think that the WHOLE WORLD, which is a million times more vast and complex than a coffee mug, just popped up out of nothingness by mere chance?

    Freemarket – the are very few literalists that believe in every single word of the Bible. Most religious scholars acknowledge that some of the text must be interpreted to a degree. Your 10,000 year old reference for example, is a little misplaced. When the Bible was written and references the “days” of creation, you must remember that an hour measurement of “day” had not been truly established. A “day” could have been metaphor to refer to a long period of time. Each “day” could have been a thousand years.

    As for abortion, a fetus is a human from the moment of conception. If you don’t think so, use this very old SCIENTIFIC prinicple. There is no such thing as spontaneous generation. In other words, something that is not living (ie: human) can not suddenly become human. If a fetus ends up as human being (a baby), then it was ALWAYS a human being. If you don’t agree, take a rock and stick it on a shelf. When it turns into a human being, then I will support abortion in any situation. For the record, I do believe in allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest.

    As for the whole question of “supporting” abortion, I completely oppose FEDERAL FUNDING of abortion. I suspect that Bush, and many other citizens’ opposition to abortion has more to do with the funding source than the actual act itself. I personally don’t care if every woman wants to have abortions (although I would mourn the loss of life involved), that’s on their conscience. I just don’t want my tax dollars being spent on it. Let all the abortion rights advocates pony up the dough for the people who want abortions.

    I also agree with Bush’s opposition (limited) to embryonic stem cell research, on the same grounds. Since there ARE moral questions and issues about it, just don’t use federal funds for it. Use private funds and I’m ok. (Please don’t give Michael J. Fox my email address – I don’t want him harassing me about my position).

    I would never say that you anyone is wrong to believe what they do. The true christian, not a twisted extremist, would let their actions convey what being a christian is, and thereby set an example that others may see and maybe do the same.

    I hope that there are not many more postings like this one. Religion can be a very controversial topic, to say the least.

  40. bsflag2007 said

    please note the original post did not direct the course of comment to religion— it questioned the appropriateness of appointing a person who has a stated anti-contraception philosophy to be in charge of family planning programs.

    the question as to whether this “philosophy” is born of religious precepts is a by-product –
    though fascinating in its way.

    with all the posturing for ideological supremecy … the central question continues to be avoided… what role should any particular religion’s teaching play in public health policy?

    the writer who doesn’t want his tax dollars spent on programs he doesn’t believe in makes an interesting point. I have heard it made regarding other expenditures as well – like the military, space exploration, foreign aid.


  41. The death penalty is appropriate for Catholic thinkers.

    Catholic References: Support for the Death Penalty
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    Religious positions in favor of capital punishment are neither necessary not needed to justify that sanction. However, the biblical and theological record is very supportive of the death penalty.
    Many of the current religious campaigns against the death penalty reflect a fairly standard anti death penalty message, routed in secular arguments. When they do address  religious issues, they often neglect solid theological foundations, choosing, instead, select biblical sound bites which do not impact the solid basis of death penalty support.

    For example, The US Catholic Bishops current campaign against the death penalty willfully conceals the Roman Catholic Church’s biblical, theological and traditional support for the death penalty. The importance of  that support and the strength of it is, partially, revealed, below. The Bishops one sided and inaccurate campaign against the death penalty reflects poorly on them.

    1) 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated  succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows:   June, 2004   “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
    Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: More Concerned with ‘Comfort’ than Christ?, Catholic Online, 7/11/2004

    2)  Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, 10/7/2000, “At no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment. In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). When Pilate calls attention to his authority to crucify him, Jesus points out that Pilate’s power comes to him from above-that is to say, from God (Jn 19:1 l).Jesus commends the good thief on the cross next to him, who has admitted that he and his fellow thief are receiving the due reward of their deeds (Lk 23:41). ”
    “Paul repeatedly refers to the connection between sin and death. He writes to the Romans with an apparent reference to the death penalty, that the magistrate who holds authority does not bear the sword in vain; for he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer (Rom 13:4). No passage in the New Testament disapproves of the death penalty.”
    “Turning to Christian tradition, we may note that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church are virtually unanimous in their support for capital punishment, even though some of them such as St. Ambrose exhort members of the clergy not to pronounce capital sentences or serve as executioners.”
    “The Roman Catechism, issued in 1566, three years after the end of the Council of Trent, taught that the power of life and death had been entrusted by God to civil authorities and that the use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to the fifth commandment. ”
    “Summarizing the verdict of Scripture and tradition, we can glean some settled points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.”
    “The Catholic magisterium does not, and never has, advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty. I know of no official statement from popes or bishops, whether in the past or in the present, that denies the right of the State to execute offenders at least in certain extreme cases. The United States bishops, in their majority statement on capital punishment, conceded that Catholic teaching has accepted the principle that the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime. Cardinal Bernardin, in his famous speech on the Consistent Ethic of Life here at Fordham in 1983, stated his concurrence with the classical position that the State has the right to inflict capital punishment.
    “Pope John Paul II spoke for the whole Catholic tradition when he proclaimed, in Evangelium Vitae, that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral (EV 57). But he wisely included in that statement the word innocent. He has never said that every criminal has a right to live nor has he denied that the State has the right in some cases to execute the guilty. ”

    (“The Death Penalty: A Right to Life Issue?” at
    NOTE: although Dulles makes palpable errors of fact and logic within the sections “The Purposes of Punishment” and “Harm Attributed to the Death Penalty”, it is, otherwise, a solid historical treatment of the Church and the death penalty)

    3)  St. Augustine: “The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, for the representative of the State’s authority to put criminals to death, according to the Law or the rule of rational justice.” The City of God, Book 1, Chapter 21
    4)  St. Thomas Aquinas finds all biblical interpretations against executions “frivolous”, citing Exodus 22:18, “wrongdoers thou shalt not suffer to live”. Unequivocally, he states,” The civil rulers execute, justly and sinlessly, pestiferous men in order to protect the peace of the state.” (Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 146
    5)  St. Thomas Aquinas: “The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.” Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.
    6)  Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. In addition to the required punishment for murder and the deterrence standards, both Saints  find that executing murderers is also an act of charity and mercy. Saint Augustine confirms that ” . . . inflicting capital punishment . . . protects those who are undergoing capital punishment from the harm they may suffer . . . through increased sinning which might continue if their life went on.” (On the Lord’s Sermon, 1.20.63-64.) Saint Thomas Aquinas finds that ” . . . the death inflicted by the judge profits the sinner, if he be converted, unto the expiation of his crime; and, if he be not converted, it profits so as to put an end to the sin, because the sinner is thus deprived of the power to sin anymore.” (Summa Theologica, II-II, 25, 6 ad 2.) 
    7)  Pope Pius XII:  “When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live.” 9/14/52.


    A specific case

    “For the temporary gratification of his lust, the defendant destroyed an entire family’s future. He has forfeited his right to live.” Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg endors(ing) the jury’s recommendation to impose the death penalty on Alejandro Avila, who  kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered 5 year old Samantha Runnion. “Avila grabbed a kicking and screaming Samantha as she played outside her Stanton home. Her nude body was found the following day in the mountains about 50 miles away, left on the ground as if it had been posed.”   ( ” ‘Judge: Girl’s killer forfeits ‘right to live’  “- Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA), July 23, 2005, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

    8) “Catholic scholar Steven A. Long says in “Evangelium Vitae, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Death Penalty” (The Thomist, 1999, pp. 511-52), “It is nearly the unanimous opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that the death penalty is morally licit, and the teaching of past popes (and numerous catechisms) is that this penalty is essentially just (and even that its validity is not subject to cultural variation).” Most recently, Avery Cardinal Dulles says both Scripture and tradition agree “that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death” (First Things, May 2001). Moreover, Cardinal Dulles admits that opposition to the death penalty in Europe since the Enlightenment has gone hand in hand with a decline of faith in eternal life. In the nineteenth century the most consistent opponents were groups hostile to the churches.” “Anglican theologian Oliver O’Donovan has noted that the moral-theological tradition of the Church is “almost unanimously permissive of the death penalty” (“The Death Penalty in Evangelium Vitae,” in Ecumenical Ventures in Ethics, p. 219).” (“Capital Punishment, Justice, and Timothy McVeigh”, Keith Pavlischek. The Center For Public Justice, May 21, 2001, www(dot)$444

    9)  Pope (and Saint) Pius V: “The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder.”   “The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent” (1566).
    10)  St. Thomas Aquinas: “If a man is a danger to the community, threatening it with disintegration by some wrongdoing of his, then his execution for the healing and preservation of the common good is to be commended.  Only the public authority, not private persons, may licitly execute malefactors by public judgement. Men shall be sentenced to death for crimes of irreparable harm or which are particularly perverted.” Summa Theologica, 11; 65-2; 66-6. 

    11)  “St. Thomas Aquinas quotes a gloss of St. Jerome on Matthew 27: “As Christ became accursed of the cross for us, for our salvation He was crucified as a guilty one among the guilty.”  “If no crime deserves the death penalty, then it is hard to see why it was fitting that Christ be put to death for our sins and crucified among thieves.” ” That Christ be put to death as a guilty person, presupposes that death is a fitting punishment for those who are guilty.” Prof. Michael Pakaluk, The Death Penalty: An Opposing Viewpoints Series Book, Greenhaven Press, (hereafter TDP:OVS), 1991 

    more upon request

  42. Freemarket said

    Tom, I really don’t care if someone wants to believe in the Juju of the Forest. Just don’t legislate Juju’s ethics on everyone. Your comments suggest that you understand that, many of your religious colleagues do not. The reason Dudley Sharp posted a manifesto is because many people feel it is proper to legally impose their particular religion on everyone else. You even admitted how ridiculous the Bible can be at times by picking and choosing what you believe, when you said “the are very few literalists that believe in every single word of the Bible. Most religious scholars acknowledge that some of the text must be interpreted to a degree.” I want rational thought to be our guidance, not spiritual thought. I should take the blame for turning this discussion into a religious one with the tone of my first comment.

  43. bsflag2007 said

    I found the “manifesto” interesting — and for folks struggling with how to put their gut feelings into words, or how to organize their thoughts, the various parts could be helpful. In fact, many of the thoughts could be pretty persuasive.
    If, after reading these passages, an individual legislator develops a personal conviction which becomes part of his “persona” – and which he draws upon when making legislative decisions WITHIN the confines of our consitution and democracy – fine.

    However compelling some of these passages might be, however, they cannot be the sole basis for civil laws …. ie, jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so….. or, a persuasive public debate does not begin with “the _______ Church teaches …… “.

    Consider this – fill in the blank with your prefered religion, you are probably comfortable… now, fill in the blank with muslim/hindu/budhist/wiccen —- does it pinch?

  44. Freemarket stated, erroneously, that “The reason Dudley Sharp posted a manifesto is because many people feel it is proper to legally impose their particular religion on everyone else.”

    That is untrue.

    I debate the death penalty topic, internationally. And I correct many misconceptions and/or give alternative opinions.

    I don’t care if people use the biblie or not.

    Often, it is stated that the bible does not support the death penalty. The biblical and theological record disagrees with that position. This was just a brief review of some of the material.

    It was no manifesto.

  45. Freemarket stated, erroneously, that “The reason Dudley Sharp posted a manifesto is because many people feel it is proper to legally impose their particular religion on everyone else.”

    That is untrue.

    I debate the death penalty topic, internationally. And I correct many misconceptions and/or give alternative opinions.

    I don’t care if people use the bible or not.

    Often, it is stated that the bible does not support the death penalty. The biblical and theological record disagrees with that position. This was just a brief review of some of the material.

    It was no manifesto.

  46. bsflag2007 said

    “correcting misconceptions” … is that a euphamism for abortion? 😉

    seriously though, correcting misconceptions could be a full time job. Having complete and accurate information may not change one’s opinion …. but it is important for many reasons, not the least of which is so “everyone” feels comfortable that “you” have truly made a thoughtful and considered evaluation of an issue —

    for example – an earlier poster mentioned that the “only” controversy about the “morning after pill” was whether or not to dispense it to teenagers over the counter.

    This is incorrect. The medical professionals at the FDA had recommended approval for the drug, but that recommendation was overridden by the administration – not for medical reasons – for ideological reasons. AND, legally adult women were denied access as well.

    That may not change your opinion of the pill or whether it is “immoral” – but it is important to have the facts straight. I believe that many well meaning folks are manipulated into lending their voices for causes, arguments, positions that they do not actually hold by “playing up” one aspect of an issue – then blanketing the support over the entire issue.

    We may agree that a teenager ought to have some counsel before obtaining access to the so-called “morning after” pill….. but that agreement does not mean I support the full menu of the agenda to deny all women access.


  47. jen said

    cv- make sure you don’t ask the girls all together. It would be too hard to avoid group think. Instead, consider writing questions on a paper and asking the girls to answer them in writing- with no discussion… Then you can review the questions and have the conversation. Of course, you’ll have to word the question in a way that doesn’t lead the answer, yet compels a clear response. For example:

    1. Jen is 15 and pregnant. Should she get an abortion? OR..
    1. Jen is 15 and poor and pregnant. Should she get an abortion?

    Remember.. no discussion. Don’t elaborate on the question- don’t let the questions be asked that might influence other responders.

    For fun… during the ensuing debate- ask them if she should decide to have the child- should she raise it or put it up for adoption? I can’t tell you how many young ladies have indicated that it is somehow immoral to put your own child up for adoption. Always an interesting answer.

  48. bsflag2007 said

    I have completed the first step in this exercise. I asked the girls what their school does for sex education – you’d think I’d know, but my kid transfered in in 9th grade (high school) and the official sex ed courses are 5th and 7th grade.
    Interestingly – they said they thought it was lame… that they really didn’t tell them anything — that they felt like the teachers were being so careful not to say anything that might offend anyone that they ended up not really saying anything.

    A girl who had gone to catholic school in middle school said, simply, “we had to sit through a, like, three hour abortion talk. it was horrible.”

    The conversation quickly turned to an interesting story – “so and so’s mother told my mother…. a couple of years ago …. that a kid in her son’s class (when he was a sophomore or junior) was having an abortion …. but (his mother said) he doesn’t even know what ‘that’ is….” They all laughed – explaining that he was “probably the father”. So much for parents having a realistic view of what their kids know/don’t know or are up to.

    You are right about the group think problem – and I have spoken to a couple of them individually. You’d have to know me better to understand this – my daughter’s friends are used to me asking them “unusual” questions… and they tell me stuff that they would never tell their parents.

    The girl from Catholic school – who’s parents had the “no dating till you’re 16” rule —- but she dated anyway said — said she believes that abortion is wrong, but she is not convinced it is killing in the first few weeks…. and “if” she were sexually active she would be very careful —- but she would not tell her parents if she got birth control, and she would not tell her parents if she did get pregnant until she decided for sure whether she wanted to have an abortion or not. She said “if I tell them, there is no way I could get an abortion after that – and ultimately, I believe it should be my decision.” I said something along the lines that “parents can surprise you… they understand a lot more than you might think.” She said – not mine, not on this issue.
    I asked what she thought would happen if she told them and had an abortiohn anyway – she said they would “disown” her. I aksewd her why she thought that — and she said -“because no one in the fa,mily has spoken to my aunt in 20 years because she had an abortion when she was in college.”


  49. Freemarket said

    Dudley- I don’t care why you posted what you did. The simple fact that you think the bible or any other texts influenced by the bible are relevant authorities to cite when speaking about the morality of the death penalty shows that some people are not using reason to make moral decisions.

    Also, Berkhouse, I was remiss in not pointing out some of your sketchy reasoning. I agree that a coffee cup was designed. I believe that humans evolved by natural selection. If you think everything was created by an intelligent being, who created god? Because no one fully understands the physics of what created the world, you assume god created it. Just as the Greeks assume lighting was made by Zeus. Additionally, you invoked the slippery slope fallacy when you suggested that a fetus is a human being. If that is the case, then a seed in the ground is an oak tree. Btw, atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the absence of religion. Cold isn’t hot.

  50. tomberkhouse said


    A seed is MOST definitely an oak tree. It could not start out as a non-oak tree and turn into an oak tree. A human being is a human being from the get go. Just because man does not have technology to detect a heartbeat or brain waves, does not mean they aren’t there. If they weren’t there, then you’re saying that a fetus starts out as non-human, but somehow turns human. That defies science.

    Nobody created god. I don’t assume that god created the world, I believe that god did. That’s my faith (my religion so to speak). Keep in mind that faith is what “explains” that which science can not. I’m not saying that my beliefs are right and your beliefs are wrong.

    I think atheism and agnosticism are religions in a certain context. They are simply religions that don’t involve god or a higher being. Choosing not to choose (a religion) is still making a choice (on religion).

  51. bsflag2007 said

    Using your seed analogy – and the current human inability to “detect” human “life” at the most basic cellular level….
    does that mean that the potential life in an egg or a sperm might actually be life? life that should be protected through statute -“man’s law”?
    I believe that is an “absurd conclusion” – you may also…. but there are some who wouldn’t— again, the question comes down to which set of “beliefs” we decide to base our society on? Are “beliefs” an acceptable basis for laws enforced by the government?


  52. bsflag2007 said

    another consideration…
    one of the reasons the founding fathers were “willing” to leave questions of morality and religious reasoning to individuals alone is because they generally believed that each individual was practicing some kind of religion — and whether it was the same one or not, they had a modicum of respect for the good faith efforts of their neighbors to live according to some internal code of morality. For those clearly outside that assumption (criminals) they made plans for civil order.

    Could it be that part of the problem today is that certain sects do not believe “the rest of us” are, in fact, putting in a good faith effort to live a generally moral life…. that we have lost that modicum of respect for each other that allows us to give them the benefit of the doubt? and leave the judging of relative morality to “god”?


  53. timactual said

    “The simple fact that you think the bible or any other texts influenced by the bible are relevant authorities to cite when speaking about the morality of the death penalty shows that some people are not using reason to make moral decisions.”

    so what do you base your moral decisions on? Reason is a process, not an authority or a principle.

  54. Freemarket said

    I personally think some form utilitarianism is the best way to go for moral decisions. I think you should do what creates the most good for the most sentient beings. That seems much more reasonable to me than doing something because god (or rather the bible) says so. I don’t care what moral system others use to make moral decisions, so long as their morals don’t wind up being laws with regard to some societal benefit for making that moral a law. For example, what is the benefit of not allowing gays to have civil unions? What societal benefit is there for not allowing women to vote in many Muslim countries?

  55. bsflag2007 said

    i think you hit it on the head with the “because god (or rather the bible) says so…” stumble.
    No matter what one calls it ‘ “god” or some “higher power”, by any name — almost every culture, trible, person on earth has some sense that there is a basic, fundamental, intrinsic “good and evil” —- and most have codified some code of “right and wrong” into a document that serves as their particular ‘touch stone”/”compass”.
    It’s not the word of “god” people object to living by – most try to – people object to having one group try to force its’ particular “code” on them…. because what it really comes down to is this…
    if you try to make me accept your code… you are saying my code is wrong, or not good enough. and that is insulting on oh so many levels.

    cindy v.

  56. timactual said

    ” I think you should do what creates the most good for the most sentient beings. That seems much more reasonable to me than doing something because god (or rather the bible) says so”

    Where do you get your definition of good, and who gets to decide what is “good” for all of us?
    Are there any other sentient beings than human beings?

  57. bsflag2007 said

    I have no problem determining universal “goods” and “evils”.

    and it is a tenet of almost all organized religions, in one form or another. Most “westerners” know it as “the golden rule”.

    you know, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…”

    pretty much any time you can turn a situation around and agree to take the same treatment, assumptions, actions directed at you that you want to justify for soemone else…. you are looking at a universal “good” —– and any time you would object to a treatment etc – that is an “evil”.

    I sincerely believe that except for the truly damaged, just about any “sentient being” who is being honest with himself will come to a similar conclusion.

    cindy v

  58. timactual said

    “I have no problem determining universal “goods” and “evils”.”

    I am sure you don’t. My question was what you base your decision on.

    “pretty much any time you can turn a situation around and agree to take the same treatment, assumptions, actions directed at you that you want to justify for soemone else…. you are looking at a universal “good””

    So religious fundamentalists who agree to be stoned if they are guilty of adultery have found a universal good? Following your logic, if I agree to be imprisoned for homosexual activity if I am caught doing it then I can legitimately imprison others for performing homosexual acts.

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