Despite objections from Israel and the United States, UNESCO granted endangered World Heritage status and critical funding for repairs to the Church of Nativity, the site seen by Christians as Jesus’ birthplace, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Thirteen members of the World Heritage Committee out of twenty one voted in favour of the move at a meeting in St. Petersburg. The decision was met by a standing ovation. (Reuters)
(In response to this piece on Forbes)
Mr. Frezza, I don’t even know where to begin.
I guess I can start by saying “huh?” I’m not sure if it was your word-soup of a column or if, in fact, nothing you said made any sense. Because despite your attempts to do the contrary, all I got out of it was “STOP BEING WHORES AND MAKE BABIES FOR JESUS!”
Though, I do appreciate your allowing homosexuals, transgender people and bisexuals to forgo procreation. But will I need some kind of bisexual ID card in the future if I don’t have children but end up with a male partner? Just to be sure you approve of my decision not to have children, of course.
You ask Sandra Fluke to show you her furniture in what I can only assume was an attempt at humor. You also seem to equate “birth control” with “radical feminism” at which point I must ask if you’ve ever in your life used a condom. A prophylactic, if you’d like. If you have, well then, sir, I would like to welcome you to Team Radical Feminist.
If you haven’t, I’d like to remind you of the number of men who HAVE. Lots of them. All the time. So why aren’t you and your ilk doing your damnedest to attack Trojan? Or any place that offers free condoms (well, I suppose we can include Planned Parenthood in that, but we both know that’s not why conservatives want it defunded and shut down) After all, they’re providing men with a way to have consequence free sex, shooting their sperm everywhere they wish without actually risking impregnating a woman.
You try to claim this is all about the family and has nothing to do with misogyny. That’s obviously not true. You’re all right with consequence free sex, so long as it’s men that are having it. Which brings me to this question: who the hell are they going to have their consequence-free sex with? Each other?
I notice THAT’S something you don’t address, either. That these slutty pill-using radical feminists are obviously having sex with someone. Someone with SPERM. Who can IMPREGNATE them.
But yet your article doesn’t mention the men having sex with us sluts. Do you suppose we hunt them down, tie them up and force them to fornicate with us for non-procreative reasons, while they howl in despair “No! No, I must put a baby in you!”? No, of course you don’t. You’re too busy claiming that societal views and expectations of fatherhood have “evolved in symmetry” and that obviously men want to have sex for the making of babies rather than the filthy base reason of PLEASURE. Especially you upstanding conservative men, none of whom have ever had recreational sex, especially not while committing adultery, possibly with a sex worker…who, you know, would probably be willing to tie you up, if you were into that sort of thing.
Finally: You end your column urging the conservatives to “squeeze a laugh out” of the “radical feminists.” Look, I already have conservatives wanting to prod my vagina. I don’t want them squeezing anything while they’re down there, okay?
Since 2000, New Hampshire has had a contraceptive equity law. This law ensures that all insurance plans cover FDA approved contraceptives to the same extent as other prescriptions. The law also ensures that consultations, examinations, and medical services related to contraception provided on an outpatient basis are covered to the same extent as other outpatient services. New Hampshire’s contraceptive equity law was passed with bipartisan support by a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor. It was enacted without a religious employer exemption—a measure that even religious leaders did not protest at the time. And, in the past twelve years, there has been no attempt to challenge or amend the law…until now.
Yesterday, the New Hampshire House said “yes” to a measure that will greatly undermine women’s access to preventative care by adding a religious employer exemption to the state’s contraceptive equity law. And to add insult to injury, the proposed exemption is extremely broad and undefined. It would allow any employer to remove a woman’s existing contraceptive coverage if the employer has a religious objection to contraception. Yes, that’s right. This exemption would extend beyond even religiously affiliated employers to include ANY employer who might not agree with the use of contraceptives. Such a large loophole would even allow a car dealership owner to strip an employee of the contraceptive coverage she’s relied on for over a decade simply because the owner has a problem with that employee taking control of her reproductive life.
A medieval monument to religious pluralism, hidden in the mountains of Afghanistan
What’s remarkable is that the writing on the minaret and archaeological remains nearby strongly suggest that the city harbored a population of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Writing on the minaret is a detailed transcription from the Koran that celebrates the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, highlighting the connections between Islam and other religions. Nearby there is a Jewish graveyard, which is another hint that people of different religions were living peacefully together.
As ultra-Orthodox flex muscle, Israel feminists see a backsliding: Women who thought Israel’s battle for gender equality was mostly won warn of a new assault from the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox, seeking to expand religious-based segregation into the public realm.
Photo: An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks past a vandalized poster in Jerusalem. Images of women have been vanishing from the streets of the city. Credit: Sebastian Scheiner / Associated Press
Christopher Hitchens has an interesting piece on the death penalty in Lapham’s Quarterly this week. In it, he attempts to answer the question that vexes so many observers of the death penalty: Why is it that America is the only advanced industrialized Western nation to continue putting its citizens to death?
Judging by the fact that several thousand people immediately clicked a button to share the piece with their friends, the question still seems to be an important one and Hitchens’ answer seems to be one that resonates. Unsurprisingly, his position is that America is the most religious of those advanced industrialized countries and, as he frequently argues, religious belief tends to be bound up with inflicting pain and suffering on others. In his own words:
Once we clear away the brush, then, we can see the crystalline purity of the lex talionis and the principle of an eye for an eye. (You might wish to look up the chapter of Exodus in which that stipulation occurs: it is as close to sheer insane ranting and wicked babble as might well be wished, and features the famous ox-goring and witch-burning code on which, one sometimes fears, too much of humanity has been staked.)
If this is the case, then we seem to have an intractable problem on our hands. In order to do away with “this dire business” that has “become an offense both to law and to justice,” Americans will seemingly need to do away with their religious belief. And yet I think this isn’t exactly the right solution, nor would Americans need to do anything quite so revolutionary. Instead, they would need only to pay attention to what their religion actually teaches.
What I have in mind connects directly to many of the blog posts I’ve written over the past few weeks about the (presumably) pro-life audiences who cheered at Rick Perry’s execution record and at the prospect of the death of a man who couldn’t afford medical care. Now we don’t know for a fact that the audience members at these two GOP debates oppose abortion, but I’m going to proceed with it as a safe assumption. And, having made that assumption, I think it’s also safe to say that the positions they hold are hypocritical. The reason, of course, is that these audience members, when asked about abortion, will say that it’s impermissible to kill a fetus because they believe that human life is sacred. They take this position, the pro-life position that defends the unborn, because they are called to it on the basis of their religious belief. And yet, they don’t extend this pro-life position to include all of the human beings who have already been born; they see no need to defend the lives of those human beings, for example, who are on death row.
But this isn’t a post about whether or not these conservatives should be pro-life, and it’s not a post about whether or not they ought to be religious in the first place. It is, instead, a post about the fact that if someone is going to bring his or her religious beliefs into a public policy debate, (s)he ought to at least be consistent, and ought to understand and care about his or her religion’s teachings.
These two points are, I think, very much related to one another … because it’s very difficult to be consistent about our beliefs when we don’t fully understand or care about them. Here’s what I have in mind:
Hitchens rightly points out that biblical support for the death penalty is drawn from Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. And he leaps from that claim to the claim that it is America’s religiosity that accounts for its anachronistic support for the death penalty. And yet, by this reasoning, one would expect to find support for the death penalty at its highest amongst American Jews.
According to a very recent survey, though, American Jews are one of the religious groups least supportive of the death penalty (at 57% so, like all Americans, they are still more supportive of it than not). Instead, the vast majority of support for the death penalty and the vast majority of executions take place where Christianity holds the greatest sway: the American South. Compare the percentage of Jews who support the death penalty with the number of white evangelical Christians (76%), white mainline Protestants (75%), and Mormons (69%). The only religious group whose members were less supportive of the death penalty than Jews was black Protestants, though at 53% this is pretty close.
Why don’t Jews embrace the death penalty? Because they never really have:
Faced with the clear biblical injunctions, the Rabbis … could not simply have said that capital punishment was wrong. After all, the Bible states that it is right and has to be imposed on the guilty. But the statement seems to imply that the Rabbis welcomed the development by which the Sanhedrin no longer functioned with the power to impose the death penalty and Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Tarfon speculate that even when the Sanhedrin did possess this power, various legal means could have been adopted to negate the imposition of the penalty.
There’s a good deal more on the Jewish tradition and the death penalty here, if you’re interested. But to get back to the issue at hand, we next need to ask why support for the death penalty is so high amongst Christians. And the only possible answers, I think, are either that the Christians who support the death penalty don’t understand Christianity or else that they understand it but don’t really care about what Christianity teaches about the death penalty.
I’m not a biblical scholar, but this isn’t a particularly difficult case to make since the Christian Bible is absolutely filled with injunctions against the death penalty. The most obvious, of course, is that Jesus Christ was himself unjustly put to death by the state. But if we go a bit deeper –- and only a very little bit, I promise -– we come upon the famous example of the adulteress who, according to the laws of the Hebrew Bible, should be stoned to death. Preventing the execution, Jesus tells the would-be executioners that the first stone should be cast by the one who is without sin. He doesn’t excuse the behavior that would have resulted in the women’s death -– indeed, he tells the woman to avoid sin in the future –- but he is clear to those who would kill her that mercy is more important than the letter of the law, in large part because we are all in need of it. Indeed, the ideas of mercy and forgiveness are found throughout the Christian Bible; the problem is simply that they aren’t found amongst very many Christians in America today … not because of a problem with Christianity but because of a problem with American Christians. To be a Christian who cheers for executions is, frankly, not to be much of a Christian and, indeed, to find evidence for their support for capital punishment, they have to turn to the Hebrew Bible and ignore the Christian Bible.
There are a whole lot of Christians in this country — as Hitchens notes — but it’s not their stated belief that is the problem; it’s their support for the death penalty. These are people who support the death penalty in opposition to the teachings of their religion … either because they are unaware of what their religion teaches or because they don’t particularly care. The first is not particularly likely, given the iconography in every church in America — the cross, a potent symbol of the unjust judicial murder that stands at the center of their faith — and given that virtually every major Christian denomination has a public statement in opposition to the death penalty. The second is far more likely and far more problematic; it means either that these people who profess their Christian faith believe in a version of Christianity absent its central teachings about mercy and forgiveness or that they trumpet their Christian faith when it comes to some issues and blithely ignore it when it comes to others.
Either way, it gives the lie to Hitchens’ thesis that religiosity is the driving force behind American support for the death penalty. Instead, it seems clear that Americans a) support the death penalty and b) also claim that they are religious. When the two come into conflict, their support for the death penalty wins out. Whereas Hitchens likely believes that less religiosity is needed in order to bring about an end to the death penalty in America, I think we might more reasonably argue that what could do the trick is if American Christians actually knew about the teachings of their religion and cared about them.
Though I’m a Jewish atheist (it works like that, trust me), I’m glad Catholics don’t have to apologize for building new churches, however much it might offend the sensibilities of victims of clerical abuse. As the white-est of white guys, I’m glad we don’t have to apologize for every white dude who goes on a murder spree. And yet I’ve lost track of the how many times I’ve read that Muslims are “silent,” moderate Muslims are missing in action, and nonviolent Muslims do not condemn terrorism, even as condemnations of violence are quite easy to find.
All this applies regardless of who is responsible for the Norwegian attacks.
Cannot reblog this fast enough.