Evangelical Churches: “Teaches Women To Hate Their Bodies”, “Men Their Minds”

Friday I wrote a blog post that has remained the one most read all weekend. (Thank you) The gist of the post can be summed up in this one sentence. For decades I have faulted fundamentalist religions–wherever they may be preaching to the faithful–that failing to address humanity in realistic terms is a profound mistake.

Today The New York Times has a page one, above-the-fold must-read news article on the negative impact evangelical religion plays on men and women when it comes to sexuality. I argued this past week that Robert Aaron Long, the 21-year-old hate-filled killer in and near Atlanta is the latest example of what happens when sexuality is used as a tool by religion so to meet an organization’s own desired ends. 

The newspaper article underscores what many are talking about as of late given the news from Atlanta.

Dr. Onishi, who grew up in a strict evangelical community in Southern California that emphasized sexual purity led him to this conclusion. He said it “teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality.”

I had written about the way women are portrayed in fundamentalist houses of worship.

Let us not forget how these evangelical and pentecostal churches often use their attacks on the likes of the Delilahs, Jezebels, and other “temptresses” in the Bible to underscore how a “good man” can go bad.

The new story weighed into this topic, too.

“It presents a very demeaning view of manhood,” said Rachael Denhollander, an evangelical advocate for sexual abuse victims. “Every time you teach a woman in the presence of a young man that it’s her responsibility to keep a man from lusting and that she has the power to keep him from sexual perversion by what she wears and what she does, what he hears is that it’s her fault.”

Jeff Chu, a writer in Michigan, attended an evangelical junior high and high school that, like many similar schools, enforced strict rules for the lengths of girls’ skirts with the goal of encouraging modesty. “It was so rarely about the men controlling their own desires, and so often about women not being temptresses,” Mr. Chu recalled. 

“Purity culture teaches young men to view young women who do not try to maintain modesty as sinister forces,” Dr. Onishi said. “It’s hard not to think about the fact that Asian women have been sexualized and set up to be viewed through the lens of an exotic other who is sexually desirable.”

I wrote about the burdens placed on the people in the pews of these churches.

It should concern everyone to know that there are churches pumping the idea that it is a serious sin even to think about sex. Teenagers, especially, are being placed in a most troubling place about how not to think about sex. Add in the failure to do so means being captured by Satan.

The article begins with a young person from a strict evangelical community, that emphasized sexual purity, who had spent his teenage years tearing out any advertisements in surfing magazines that featured women in bikinis. So not to be pulled into the church’s definition of “sexual addiction” young people go to what most of us would consider extreme behavior.

Dr. Perry described a phenomenon in some parts of evangelical culture that he called “sexual exceptionalism,” in which sexual sins are implied to be more serious than other categories.

As I noted last week at the start of my post there is one reason for this power play by churches about sexuality.

If a religious organization can get a person to abide by a set of prescribed standards of behavior concerning the most personal aspect of life everything else can be easily attained.

And so it goes.

Religious Control Over Sex Leads To Problems

One thing is clear be it the supposed celibacy in the Catholic Church, the draconian restrictions placed on Islamic women, or the harsh conservatism among evangelicals. Religion sure does love to control the sexual behavior of its followers. It makes sense, in one respect. If a religious organization can get a person to abide by a set of prescribed standards of behavior concerning the most personal aspect of life everything else can be easily attained.

Robert Aaron Long, the 21-year-old hate-filled killer in and near Atlanta this week, is the latest example of what happens when sexuality is used as a tool by religion so to meet an organization’s own desired ends. One of the deadly results of such attitudes being pressed upon congregants is the self-loathing man we are reading more about as reporters gain access to fresh information.

While his parents pressed their version of faith Robert was taking a dangerous dual path of sexual loathing alongside what is being termed “religious mania”. His church strictly prohibited sex outside of marriage, and as a young man, he was distraught by his failed attempts to curb his sexual urges.

The guy was probably normal and natural for his thoughts and urges. It was the constrictive social influence of that church and the impossibility to live up to its standards that are an issue worthy of examination. Now, do not in any way construe that to mean I let this man off the hook, by any degree. The monstrous, racist, and hate-filled crimes he committed can not in any way be minimized. I am merely stating that it is most probable one of the routes that led to his criminal behavior started with the crazy nature of his family’s religion.

The fanaticism of his parent’s church is as much a problem in this case as the lax gun laws that allowed a clearly troubled person to obtain a weapon. Let us not forget how these evangelical and pentecostal churches often use their attacks on the likes of the Delilahs, Jezebels, and other “temptresses” in the Bible to underscore how a “good man” can go bad.

We know the Bible is not the only religious text to make such charges, or Christians the only ones to level such an absurd argument.

As the news was starting to come over the wires about the shooting sprees in Georgia I was reading a book by Karen Elliot House. Her account of decades of reporting and background in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia gives further insight into a nation strictly controlled by Wahhabism. That is, simply put, a most austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. (What can go wrong with a literal interpretation of any religious text?) In Saudi Arabia, it creates awful outcomes from decreasing interpersonal relationships, lack of economic output, and of course sexual tensions and many damaged people as a result.

The former publisher of The Wall Street Journal writes in On Saudi Arabia about a man, who many years younger as a teenager, masturbated during Ramadan and has felt guilty as a result. Yes, if you can control a person’s sexuality you can control a person.

For decades I have faulted fundamentalist religions–wherever they may be preaching to the faithful–that failing to address humanity in realistic terms is a profound mistake. It should concern everyone to know that there are churches pumping the idea that it is a serious sin even to think about sex. Teenagers, especially, are being placed in a most troubling place about how not to think about sex. Add in the failure to do so means being captured by Satan.

The horror in Atlanta has opened discussion deeper into racism against Asians, and how words used by national leaders have deadly consequences. But it also opens a door on how very conservative churches are using extreme views on sex to damage some of their followers.

Capt. Brett E. Crozier Must Be Reinstated

This is the only just end to this awful series of events.  

Captain Brett E. Crozier, is a hero.

His removal from the prestigious command of an aircraft carrier with almost 5,000 crew members has taken on an added significance, as his punishment is viewed by some in the military as indicative of the government’s handling of the entire pandemic, with public officials presenting upbeat pictures of the government’s response, while contrary voices are silenced.

The Navy is looking into whether it can reinstate Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was removed from command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt after he pleaded for more help fighting a novel coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, Defense Department officials said on Wednesday.

Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, has indicated that he may reinstate Captain Crozier, who is viewed as a hero by his crew for putting their lives above his career, officials said.

“No final decisions have been made,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the admiral, said in a statement on Wednesday to The New York Times. Commander Christensen added that Admiral Gilday was reviewing the findings of a preliminary investigation into the events surrounding Captain Crozier’s removal.

But Admiral Gilday’s decision could be upended by President Trump, who has not been shy about intervening in military personnel cases. Only five months ago, Mr. Trump fired Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer for opposing the president’s intervention in support of a member of the Navy SEALs accused of murdering a wounded captive with a hunting knife during a deployment to Iraq in 2017.

Trump, of course, has no knowledge of the military, as he used the excuse of bone spurs to keep him out of Vietnam.  After dodging the draft at least five times,  Trump describes his “Personal Vietnam” to Howard Stern. Donald was proud to discuss his battle to avoid Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

 

Wisconsin Schools Should Follow Madison West High Regarding Free Condoms

The news article which greeted readers of Thursday’s Wisconsin State Journal–above the fold–regarding Madison West High School students who this fall will receive education about sexual health along with free condoms, will surely be applauded by many in our city.  It was a dose of sanity about health issues and teenagers that too often gets pushed aside.

Too often the issue of sex education becomes a one-way lane to only talking about abstinence.  While there are legitimate reasons to encourage teens to wait for their emotional growth to match their bodies, it is also incumbent on schools to address the reality of what is actually occurring for many of our youth.

Make no mistake the result from this plan by West High is a major step in what needs to happen so to normalize conversations about sex and contraceptives.  The topic is not only about unwanted pregnancy but also of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, an even more importance topic.

What is so off-putting from the nay-sayers to this plan is the hypocrisy that needs to be pointed out.   It is offensive to hear people or groups who oppose reproductive health care services or sex education also then champion banning abortions.  When there is proper education, and the means to stem the likelihood of pregnancy, the need to consider an abortion is reduced.  That should delight conservatives.

My readers know before it even happens that some letter writer to the paper will offer the ‘gemstone of logic’ that if we provide a bat and ball to young people they will just want to play baseball.  The fact is that teaching just abstinence is not in any way sufficient to address the health needs of many teenagers, regardless of how we may wish them to live and act during those years.

What I found dispiriting in the news story was the lack of programming of this type at other schools statewide.

The state Department of Public Instruction estimated in 2016 that 6.9% of high schools in the state provided free condoms, based on a weighted survey of high school principals.  The decision for the pilot comes after an increase in sexually transmitted infections among youths nationwide, statewide and at West High School.

No one should consider this policy move to be one where there is an attempt to promote or urge sexual behavior to occur.  What can be said with certainty is that West High is working to help students make responsible and healthy decisions if they choose to be sexually active.  That is what matters the most.

It would be a solid move for other school districts around Wisconsin to start having the needed conversations that would lead to their programming of this kind.  Students everywhere would benefit.

Juneau County DA Scott Southworth’s 15 Minutes Of Fame

There are times that backwater district attorneys need to think twice before speaking.  In the case of Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth he should have made that three times.  Possibly four.

The highly partisan and overly conservative Southworth is telling schools in his district to abandon their sex education courses.  He claims the new curriculum could lead to criminal charges against teachers for contributing to the delinquency of minors.  He even went on to say that the law promotes “sexual assault” of children.  To say anything of the sort borders on such fanciful thinking as to make one wonder if all the certificates that must line his office wall are not just forgeries.

The problem with the ‘thinking’ of Southworth is that it is disrespectful of the facts.  The ‘abstinence only’ method of preventing pregnancy, or not spreading sexually transmitted diseases, was an idea that some in the right-wing tried to pretend actually worked.  In the end we all know that ‘abstinence only’ is a goal that conservatives want to pretend as a sound idea, when in reality it is bogus.  Too many youth are not waiting to have sex, and the means to remedy unwanted pregnancies and STD’s is through sound sex education. The fact Southworth and his kind lost the argument on this matter is what frustrates him, and makes for his comments now.  Southworth knows there is no basis in law for his off-the-wall-remarks about this new, and needed state law.

Funny thing is that if a teenage girl was having unprotected sex and became pregnant I am sure that Southworth would be the first in line to deny the girl an abortion.  Why he then can not see the value in protecting the girl with information before such an event baffles me.  Why he would not want the teenage boy to know the safe use of a condom just does not make sense.

Which is why the new law passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature comes into action.    What gets those under the rocks like Southworth all bent out of shape is that the state law is so logically sound.  The law requires schools that have sex education courses to teach students medically accurate, age-appropriate information, including how to use birth control and prevent sexually transmitted disease.  For those like Southworth that disdain science and facts this method for teaching sex education must seem fanciful.  

After all if they start teaching sex education in the schools someone might want to bring a pool table into town and we all know where that leads a place like Juneau County.

Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital “T”
That rhymes with “P”
And that stands for Pool,
That stands for pool.
We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City,
Right here!
Gotta figger out a way
To keep the young ones moral after school!
Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…

Wisconsin Sex Education Bill Now Law Thanks To Governor Doyle

Good news that promotes smarter and more healthy youth.  I am pleased that this bill was signed into law by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle as abstinence programs are outdated, and do not work.  They never did.

All Republicans voted against the bill when it passed the Assembly in November and the Senate last month. They said the bill infringed on local officials to set standards in their schools.

Democrats argued the abstinence-only program have caused high rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Sex education courses will now have to include information about how to use condoms and other forms of birth control and describe their benefits and side effects. They will also have to tell students how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Wisconsin Schools Should Instruct About Birth Control And STD’s

The Wisconsin State Legislature is to be applauded for moving forward with a much-needed sex education bill.  On Thursday the State Senate voted along party lines to ensure that if a public school taught sex education students must be instructed about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.  If the bill is signed into law by Governor Doyle it would take effect in the 2010 school year. 

The fact that we just do not mandate sex education in all public schools is still a mystery to me.  Puritanical thinking  controls more areas of public life than we care to admit, and the fight over this current proposal is proof  of that fact.  When it comes to a lack of proper sex education we are not only talking about unwanted pregnancies, but also diseases that can lead to death.  It would then seem to be clear to all that sex education matters. But that does not stop many from arguing against the needed common-sense legislation.

One of the reasons the bill winding through the state legislature is credible concerns the fact that ‘abstinence only’ is a bankrupt idea.  Abstinence programs are outdated, and do not work.  They have been proven to make a bad situation worse in that teenagers who pledge never to have sex until marriage fail to use condoms or other protective means when they realize the pledge is just not very practical.  Unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy and STD’s and therefore ‘abstinence only’ programs are not what the government should be promoting.  Thankfully,  most  elected Wisconsin Democrats are not drinking the ‘abstinence only’ kool-aid and are putting sound judgement and the health of young people ahead of political posturing.

The fact is that teenagers have sex.  Whether we want them to or not, it is going to happen.  So with that as a starting point, it is vital that they be supplied with the right information, such as how to use a condom.   By pretending that they will not be acting like average teenagers we only delude ourselves.  By our failing to provide the necessary facts in order to help them to make sound decisions only undermines the ones we profess to care about.  

For Republicans to pretend that ‘abstinence only’ is a practical idea, and use the ‘local control’ argument as a means to fight for it, does not serve our youth.  Such arguments may play well to conservative voters at election time, but fail to remedy a real need among our nation’s youth.   Thankfully the majority in the state legislature understood the leadership role they needed to play, and acted on behalf of the health and well-being of our state’s youth when passing the sex education bill.

I have long-argued that ‘abstinence only’ programs were not positive ways to instill healthy thoughts about sex to our youth.  Playing to those parents who nurture the idea that sex is not a positive or healthy value, and then instilling that in children, (which is the cornerstone of ‘abstinence only’ programs) should not be encouraged in our public schools.  There are better ways to deal with teenage sexuality than pretending it does not exist, or foster negative views that will ill-serve the child long into adulthood.