Tag: sex

The Privileged Cruelty of Religious Right Sex Rules

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Source:valerietarico.com

Author: Valerie Tarico

Emphasis Mine

Sexual intimacy and pleasure are some of humanity’s most cherished experiences. The so-called “best things in life” include natural beauty, fine dining, the arts, thrilling adventures, creative pursuits and community service. But love and orgasms are among the few peak experiences that are equally available to rich and poor, equally sweet to those whose lives are going according to plan and to many whose dreams are in pieces. (N.B.: in 20th century America African Americans utilized human sexuality to compensate for what was denied them elsewhere.)

Religious conservatives think that these treasured dimensions of the human experience should be available to only a privileged few people whose lives fit their model: male-dominated, monogamous, heterosexual pairs who have pledged love and contractual marriage for life. Some true believers—especially those in thrall to the Protestant Quiverfull Movement or the Vatican—would further limit sexual privileges even within hetero state-licensed, church-sanctified marriages to only couples who are open to intimacy producing a pregnancy and a child. Take your pick: it’s either reproductive roulette or no sex—although you might be able to game God by tracking female fertility and then bumping like bunnies during the low risk times of the month.

Why Christianity is Obsessed with Sex

To be clear, I’m not saying that Christianity’s sex rules are only a function of patriarchal Christian privilege. During the Iron Age, from whence Christianity’s sex rules got handed down, society was organized around kin groups, and the endlessly-warmongering clans of the Ancient Near East were more at risk of extinction than overpopulation. Legally-enforced monogamy created lines of inheritance and social obligation, clarifying how neighbors should be treated and who could be enslaved.

Also, hetero sex necessarily carried the risk of pregnancy, which made it adaptive to welcome resultant pregnancies. Children do best in stable, nurturing families and communities, and in the Ancient Near East, “No marriage? No sex!” may have served to protect the well-being of mothers and children as well as the social power of patriarchal men. But in today’s mobile, pluralistic societies with modern contraceptive options and social safety nets, God’s self-appointed sex police have little credible excuse save their own compelling need to bully and boss and stay on top.

It should come as no surprise that Church authorities want an exclusive license to grant “legitimate” sexual privileges. Over the centuries, religious authorities have sought to own and define virtually all of the experiences that touch us deeply: the birth of a new person (christening, bris), art (iconography), music (chanting and hymns), eating, morality, mind altering substances, community, coming of age, family formation, and even our dying process. In each case religious authorities seek to legitimize some forms of the experience and denigrate those that don’t fit their model. Powerful people and institutions want to control valued assets so they can leverage those assets to get more power. And controlling sex is powerful!

The Egotism and Cruelty of God’s Self-Appointed Messengers

Religious authorities like Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan or Evangelist Franklin Graham or Religious Right icon Pat Robertson quote the Bible and talk as if their self-righteous sex rules came straight from God, which of course is hooey. Set aside for the moment the fact that declaring oneself a spokesman for God is stupefyingly egotistical. Anyone who claims to know the mind of God is simultaneously making a rather bold claim about the superior infallibility of his own mind. The same can be said for anyone who boldly declares that the Bible is literally perfect and that he knows what God was trying to say.

But beyond egotism, telling people they can’t have sex based on Iron Age rules collected in the Bible or medieval rules pontificated by some kiss-my-ring Pope is just plain mean. It’s cruel and selfish and heartless, because the sex rules that served Hebrew patriarchs 2500 years ago and that helped the Vatican breed more tithing members 500 years ago deny sex to a whole lot of people who would otherwise find sexual pleasure and intimacy precious.

No Sex for the Weary

Who would men like Dolan, Graham and Robertson (or their predecessors like the Apostle Paul, Augustine, or Martin Luther) exclude from the privilege of sexual intimacy? Most of humanity—including, probably, you and a lot of people you love. The list is limitless:

  • College students who face long years of study before being ready for partnership and parenthood.
  • Parents who want to commit their finite emotional resources to the children they already have.
  • Young singles whose bodies are at peak libido, but who aren’t ready to form families.
  • Queer folk.
  • Those who, whether married or not, want to commit their lives to some form of calling that isn’t parenthood.
  • People who perceive balance within the web of life as moral or spiritual imperative, whose conscience guides them to limit childbearing for the sake of other species and future generations.
  • Poor people who want to get a step ahead instead of (or before) having a child.
  • People who are saving up for marriage.
  • Cohabiting couples who don’t buy into the traditional marriage contract.
  • Empty nesters who are rediscovering why they like each other.
  • Travelers whose mobile lifestyle makes it impossible to offer a child a stable nurturing community and whose opportunities for intimacy flit past.
  • Unmarried soldiers.
  • Loners and eccentrics whose personal qualities or desire for solitude make partnership and/or parenthood a poor fit.
  • Puppy lovers.
  • Elderly widows and widowers for whom remarriage doesn’t make sense.
  • Famine-plagued women whose hungry bodies can ill sustain the risks of pregnancy or demands of incubating a healthy child.
  • The ill or those at risk of illness, who must navigate love in the time of chemo or love in the time of Zika.
  • War zone civilians and refugees who may not know whether they’ll survive or how, but know there is comfort in each other’s arms.

I could go on but I suspect there’s no need. Under what set of delusions is the world a better place because people like these are denied the pleasures of intimate touch, or the respite of a sexual interlude, or the acute pleasure of orgasm?

What The Sex Police Really Want

Wait a minute, a reader might say. Don’t overgeneralize. A minority of lay Christians believe that married couples must give up sex if they don’t want a(nother) baby —even if that is the official word from the pulpit for Catholics and some Protestants. So, this fight is really about people who want sex without marriage.

True. Well, partly true.

It goes without saying that conservative Christians want above all to deny sexual intimacy and pleasure to people who are single—especially girls and women. That is because the Bible’s Iron Age Sex Rules were meant, first and foremost, to ensure that females, who were economic assets belonging to men, produced purebred offspring of known paternity, who were also economic assets belonging to men. The Bible sanctions many forms of marriage and sexual slavery but all converge on one point: they guarantee that a man can know which offspring are his. That is why, after the slaughter of the Midianites in the book of Numbers, only virgins can be kept as war booty. It is why, in the Torah’s legal code, a rapist can be forced to buy and keep the damaged goods.

The Old Testament prescribes death for dozens of infractions (you yourself probably belong on death row). But when it comes to sex, the death penalty is for females who voluntarily give it up (or who don’t scream loud enough when they are being raped). The meanest, sickest part of this archaic and morally warping worldview is the idea that, for women, sex itself should be a death penalty—or at least a roll of the dice. It’s simply divine justice that sex should sooner or later lead to the pain and potential mortality of childbirth, because that’s the punishment God pronounced on uppity Eve for eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” Genesis 3:16 NRSV.

There you have it. Female sexual pleasure and intimacy without the risk of labor pain and death is cheating God—as well as the male who rules over her.

Control at Any Price

The ways in which God’s Self-Appointed Sex Police try to obstruct intimacy and orgasms are legion. Denying young people information about their bodies, promoting sex negativity, fostering a cult of virginity, spreading lies about masturbation—and above all shaming, shaming, shaming anyone who might dare to have sex without their approval. But the surest way the sex police can stop single females from cheating their way out of Eve’s curse is by making sex risky, which is why the religious right is obsessed with denying women access to birth control and abortion.

Globally, today 215 million desperate women want modern contraception and are unable to get it, thanks in part to American Religious Right politicians who explicitly excluded fertility management services from international HIV prevention. Church induced hang-ups about sex mean that reproductive empowerment gets left out of conversations where it is fundamental to wellbeing: family prosperity, early childhood development, mental health—even education of girls and career advancement of women.

At home, the U.S. squandered almost two decades and 1.5 billion dollars on abstinence-only “sex ed” that was an abject failure. Over the last three quarters of a century, conservative Christian obstruction of sexual literacy and family planning programs has driven humanity to the verge of collapse and has devastated families, condemning desperately poor people—like those who trusted Mother Teresa (who in turn trusted the Pope)—to lives of even deeper desperation.

Righteous men with access to the halls of power thwart sexual agency and then make criminals of women who abort the resulting ill-conceived pregnancies—all for the sake of maintaining their own authority and that of their institutions. And if the campaign to stop single women from having sex makes things hard for some married folks—the refugee couple, for example; or the poor parents trying to take care of the kids they already have; or those facing the prospect of a Zika baby with calcified and deformed brain structuresso be it.

The Small and Large of It

Think of the suffering as collateral damage— a form of collateral damage that is relatively benign by the standards of ecclesiastical history.

During the peak of Christianity’s political power, the Dark Ages, the Vatican launched a crusade against a sect of French Christians, the Cathars, who the Pope had declared heretics. When the crusaders arrived and began their slaughter, local people fled into churches, and sorting out who counted as a real Christian got confusing. So an inquiry was sent to the abbot, asking who should be killed and who spared. He replied by messenger: “Kill them all, God will know his own.”

By contrast with medieval butchery, collateral damage in the form of intimacy denied, or lives burdened with shame and stigma, or unwanted children born into the world with the odds stacked against them, seems minor.

But that is the only standard by which denying people sexual intimacy and pleasure is trivial. As I said, these are among humanity’s most treasured experiences. There are few freedoms that we value more than being able to form the love bonds and families of our choosing. In Islamic theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan—and even among immigrant Muslims in the West—young people risk and lose their lives for love.

Going for Broke

Religious authorities fight to maintain monopoly control over sexual privileges precisely because these privileges are so valuable—so to the heart of who we are as human beings. Sexual pleasure sweeps over us; it can bring us to our knees. Sexual intimacy allows us to transcend the boundaries of time and space, body and psyche—to lose the self in the other.

If these seem like religious terms, they are. It is no accident that vocalizations during carnal ecstasy sounds a lot like prayer or that erotic music often has religious overtones: Take me to church; I’ll worship like a dog. . . . In your temple of love . . . halleluja (Hozier; Rod Stewart; Leonard Cohen). Or vice versa: You hold my hand and hold my heart; I give it away now, I am on my knees offering all I am (Parachute Band).

The Church hierarchy’s determination to define and control “legitimate” sex may be cruel and transparently self-serving. But it is smart. Sex endlessly attracts and compels us, making sexual guilt the perfect currency for institutions trafficking in sin and salvation. When religious authorities hold exclusive power to forgive sexual transgressions and then dole out (or deny) sexual privileges, they can redirect sublimated love and loyalty and yearning and passion into the kind of peak experiences that religion itself has on offer—experiences like spiritual ecstasy, selfless service, or mystical union with the Divine—all scripted and doled out by the very same religious institutions and authorities, of course.

But God’s self-appointed spokesmen are losing their grip. If their proclamations seem crazier and their political maneuvers seem transparently cruel—as in recent bullying of transgender kidsthat is because they are desperate. People are noticing that the cage door is open and that the world outside offers a rainbow of possibilities.

Sex and love that are not controlled by the Church compete with the Church. If individuals who are young and elderly, stable and transitioning, queer and straight, partnered and single, parenting and childfree, claim the right to pleasure themselves and each other and to form intimate bonds based on no authority save their own mutual consent and delight, the Church is screwed.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

 

See:https://valerietarico.com/2016/05/27/the-privileged-cruelty-of-religious-right-sex-rules/

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Papal Decree on Abortion Shows How Religion Hooks People By Inducing then Absolving Guilt

Source: Valerietarico.com

Emphasis Mine

John Stewart famously said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”

The painful irony of Stewart’s words is obvious to us all. What may be less obvious is the underlying pattern: Offering solutions to problems that religion itself has created is one of the key means by which religion propagates. The Pope’s recent limited-time offer of confession and forgiveness for women who have aborted pregnancies perfectly illustrates this pattern.

The Reality of Women’s Lives

Few women end a pregnancy on a selfish whim. All around us—all around you—are women (or couples) who have chosen to end pregnancies for reasons that are prudent, compassionate, service-oriented, or self-aware. Sometimes the reason is simply, “I can’t do this right now,” or “I don’t want to, and children should be wanted.” Sometimes a woman commits to an education, or to take one step forward out of poverty, or to join the military, or simply to devote her finite energy to the children she already has or to her community or our world. Under most circumstances, these are kinds of decisions that we honor, even if they are difficult and require letting go of one possible future to embrace another.

But choosing to carry forward a new life—or not—is one of the most momentous decisions a person can make, and inevitably some people regret it, just as some people regret smaller decisions like the choice of a college or career or spouse. Each of us is far more likely to feel regretful or even eaten-up about a decision we have made if it violates our own values or if people around us say that it should. And when it comes to parenthood decisions, that creates an opening for religion to create (or at least feed) a problem it can solve.

Turning Prudence into Sin

The Bible teaches that sin came into the world through woman, that a woman’s reproductive capacity belongs to man (her father “gives her” to a husband), and that women will be saved through childbearing. Biblical literalists who have internalized this view actively work to induce shame and guilt in women who end pregnancies, because a woman actively managing her fertility and her life fundamentally violates their worldview.

To make matters more complex, abortion is about ending a budding life that has the potential to grow into a person. Normal, morally intact people feel emotional resistance to ending a life—even that of a bird or mouse. We also feel an instinctive protectiveness toward things that remotely resemble human babies or children (for example, stuffed animals, puppies or big-eyed LOL cats). This makes it very easy for religion to induce distress about abortion, even to the point of inducing pathological shame, depression or trauma, or a sense of personal worthlessness and irredeemable guilt—from which it then offers redemption.

In some Christian churches this may take the form of offering abortion support groups that—rather than helping a woman embrace her own courage and wisdom or helping her process normal mixed feelings or regrets—that instead deepens her sense of guilt and shame. “You have committed murder,” she may be told, “But the blood of Jesus cleanses even the most depraved of sins.” She may be told she will meet her “child” in heaven, and may be given the opportunity to practice asking forgiveness. She may be given a diagnostic label coined by abortion foes—“post-abortion trauma syndrome”—to validate her conviction that she is damaged but can be healed by the solution they offer. All of this deepens her dependence on the religious community and their version of God.

A Catholic Self-Correction

The Catholic Church has long erred on the side of driving away couples or women who engage in thoughtful family planning, especially if this includes an abortion decision. Officially, since 1869 abortion has been a sin worthy of excommunication, for which only a bishop could grant absolution. But this harsh stance wasn’t working. Research suggests that Catholic women in the U.S. seek abortions at about the average rate, approximately 1 in 3 ends a pregnancy at some point during her childbearing years. The Catholic stance simply led women to avoid the Church and sacraments. By granting a reprieve and allowing women to confess to priests, Pope Francis puts a kinder, gentler face on Catholicism and invites these women back into the fold.

What he fails to do—and what the Church fails to do more broadly—is to recognize and honor their courage, wisdom and moral autonomy, the deep commitment to love and compassion that guides so many abortion decisions, and the extraordinary lengths to which women go to help ensure that their families can flourish. It fails to recognize that for women who choose abortion (like me), an acorn is not an oak tree and a fetus is not a child; that we women can hold ourselves deeply responsible to the people around us—their hopes and dreams and needs—that we can love our children to the point of being willing to give our lives for them, while remaining convinced that a fetus is only a potential person like the potential people we decline to bring into the world each time we use birth control or abstain from sex.

The Broader Pattern

The reason the Pope’s announcement so perfectly illustrates the Church’s broader pattern of inducing problems and then solving them is that (unlike the sectarian conflict cited by John Stewart) most of these problems are psychological in nature. They come from ways in which religious teachings create fear, guilt, helplessness, self-doubt, and even self-loathing that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

Guilt, Self-Loathing, and Absolution: If you listen carefully to the words of the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,” you will hear the phrase “a wretch like me.” In contrast to Hinduism, which teaches that each child contains one spark of the divine light, Christianity teaches that we are all born bad thanks to Eve’s “original sin” in the Garden of Eden. Calvinists use the term “utterly depraved” to describe a person who isn’t saved. Fortunately, the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross offers us redemption. We are “washed in the blood of the lamb.” As one hymn puts it, Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Helplessness, Dependency and Authority: According to Christian tradition, everything bad we do is either our fault or the fault of Satan working through us, but God or the Holy Spirit should get credit for the good we do. “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,” says the Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20NIV). Christians are taught not to trust their own moral core, their own strength, or even their own intellect. “Lean not unto your own understanding,” says the psalmist (Proverbs 3:5), and his words are echoed in modern vernacular: Let go and let God. This attitude undermines autonomy and agency to the point that one Episcopal theologian, John Shelby Spong, commented in frustration that “Christians don’t need to be born again, they need to grow up.”

Fear of Outsiders and a Safe Haven: Many religious groups teach that outsiders lack a moral core and are not to be trusted, and even interfaith groups may teach this about atheists. Outcry erupted in Britain recently about Orthodox Jewish school materials teaching children that non-Jews are “evil.” This type of belief is common among Muslims and Christians as well, and it serves to create in-group cohesion and interdependence. Some former Christians describe being frightened of outsiders and even of themselves when they first left their church. If the outside world is a scary place, that makes the religious in-group all the more important, and it serves as a deterrent to leaving. Walls that might otherwise feel restrictive instead offer a sense of security.

Protection from Eternal Torture: “Devote yourself to me or I’ll torture you.” Wife abusers, dictators, gang members, and Italian mobsters use demands of this sort to elicit demonstrations of loyalty and faithfulness. And yet we all recognize that when a mobster provides “protection,” he is offering a solution to a problem he himself has created—the threat of his own violence. In an abusive home, this trade-off may be hazier, as in Pat Benetar’s song, “Hell is for Children,” in which she says “love and pain become one and the same in the eyes of a wounded child.” For centuries, Church leaders terrorized the faithful and those who were wavering with horrendous images of hell—from Dante’s Inferno, graphically illustrated by Botticelli (and now the underlying structure of a best-selling Dan Brown novel), to the iconic sermon by Puritan Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” to the hellfire and brimstone tent revivals of the 20th Century. Today many evangelists prefer to focus on the (dubious) delights of heaven, but few reject altogether the powerful threat of eternal torture.

Exemption from this torture is precisely what Pope Francis now offers women who have ended pregnancies, with the implication that it is otherwise deserved. For those who think it through, his proclamation rivals John Stewart for irony:

In his attempted kindness and mercy, Francis offers women the means to be forgiven for prudent, responsible, courageous, compassionate actions that the Church has twisted into sins. The offer extends only for those who accept the burden of theologically-induced guilt in order to be relieved of it, and only for a limited time. In exchange, women are granted protection from after-life horrors conceived in minds of Iron Age men and elaborated in the Dark Ages, when the Church’s inquisitors sought to foreshadow here on earth the tortures God had in wait for those who fail to repent.

But perhaps the greatest twist is this. Women are expected to be grateful and to see this as an act of conciliation—which, ironically, it is.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

See: http://valerietarico.com/2015/09/04/papal-decree-on-abortion-shows-how-religion-hooks-people-by-inducing-then-absolving-guilt/

How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex, Death and Everything in Between

Source: AlterNet

Author: Toni Nagy

Emphasis Mine

I lie to my kid constantly. I tell her the store is closed in the middle of the day, when I don’t want to go. I will say, “I have no idea where that chocolate cookie went,” when I know exactly where it went — in my mouth. I’ve even been known to suggest that there are magic green beans, and if she eats enough of them, she might grow into a giant with fairy wings.

Even though I have flexible morals, I feel it’s crucial to be 100% truthful with your kids when it comes to the more complex meta issues of existence. I believe children can handle the greater truths of the human condition, and if we allow them to believe that the world is a benevolent place designed to serve them, they will grow into entitled shit-heads who don’t know how to handle the suffering of life.

Knowledge is empowerment. Even though some topics are hard to discuss and might make you uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean your children need to be sheltered. When kids express curiosity in a subject, there is a way to talk about these issues in an appropriate and upfront way, yet not crush their innocence in the process.

When my 3-year-old asked me how babies are made, I told her. I didn’t go into graphic detail, but I answered her questions honestly. After hearing the information she took a minute then asked, “So you know Sally that goes to my school? So her dad put his penis in her mom’s vagina? Then sperm came out, and got all scrumbled with her mom’s eggs, and Sally lived in her mom’s tummy until she was born from her vagina? That’s happened with all my friends?”

Did I consider that maybe my daughter would tell little Sally about her dad putting his penis in her mom’s vagina? Not until that moment. Sally’s mom and dad might have frowned upon me, but guess what? It didnt’ happen, so I can still go to PTA meetings with my head held high.

Same-sex marriage was a 30-second conversation that went like this. “So boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls? That means some kids get to have TWO MOMMIES!? They are so lucky!” Now all her My Little Ponies are gay-married.

Death is a huge part of life, and if we hide it from our kids, we set them up for a major existential crisis. The more you fear death, the more tortured you will be by the inevitable fate of us all. I live on a farm, so we have a lot of firsthand familiarity. First off, I have a cat who is most likely part of a cult. She brings us mice after ceremoniously eviscerating them, and then strews their body parts across the house creating a variety of mandalas. This has ignited many talks about the circle of life, and how all creatures eventually die; that death is nothing to fear, but a reminder to appreciate life. My now 5-year-old will peacefully play next to a mouse head, and wait patiently for me to find rubber gloves to cart away the carcass.

Every year we house baby turkeys who eventually become Thanksgiving dinner. After a few years of holding the tiny birds, my daughter decided she didn’t want to eat turkey anymore. She is making her own informed decisions about consumption through her actual experiences. I am not enforcing any value system, but rather exposing her to the reality, and she is free to make her own choices.

We have talked at length about drugs and addiction, because I think any parent who doesn’t exclusively feed their child bark, deals with the obsession with sugar. What does it mean to crave sugar? Why does she always want ice cream when she is bored? What is it she is trying to fill with that kind of stimulus? We have conscious conversations about these issues, because many of us spend our grownup lives looking for outside substances to fill the void. How do we find balance between enjoyment and excess? Sugar is the first drug kids experiment with, and for most of them, it won’t be the last. The earlier we start asking these questions, the sooner we can dissect and understand our own motivations. I’m not saying she can never indulge, but it’s important to have awareness of what’s driving that desire.

My daughter and I talk about politics, police brutality, racism, global warming, the extinction of animals, and more. She is forming her own opinions of the world through my disclosures of reality. She believes humans who hunt endangered animals should go to jail, Wall Street should be less greedy and learn to share, and policemen need to remember their job is to protect people and not hurt them. Her solution for discrimination is to remember that we are all one family of people, and she is perplexed by sexism — although she is kind of sexist herself because she believes boys are yucky. The most socially aware and active adults are the ones who are knowledgeable and have a clear understanding of their worldview. Why not start when they’re young? You’d be surprised by how wise your kid is. Like mine, who has unequivocally concluded that sex is just plain silly.

Toni Nagy writes for Huffington Post, Salon, Thought Catalog, Hairpin, Do You Yoga, and Elephant Journal. She has her own blog, and is the host of apodcast.

See: http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/how-talk-your-kids-about-sex-death-and-everything-between?akid=13395.123424.LZMDeH&rd=1&src=newsletter1041113&t=6

Atheism 101: Christianity and the demonization of sexuality and nudity

Source: Examiner

Emphasis Mine

 

While American society today is in some ways overly obsessed with sex, in other ways we are a very prudish and sexually repressed society. The porn industry is always a growth industry even during a declining economy but it is still often looked down upon and frequently viewed in secret. Millions of Americans don’t talk about sex openly even with their own partners and sex education in many cases is often very poor and insufficient. In other cases, sex education is simply non-existent. Americans tend to be more offended by a brief two-second celebrity nipple slips than they are about the violence in the world today as viewed on the 24/7 news channels.

Much of the American stigma concerning sex,sexuality, and nudity has to do with “traditional Christian values” as defined by fundamentalist religious believers. America has a lot of those old Puritan and Victorian influences as well as the biblical view from Genesis 3 that people should be ashamed of their own bodies. It is no surprise that usually the more religious a person is, the more they are sexually repressed. As an atheist, I see nothing wrong with nudity or sexuality and it bothers me that so many people are so freaked out about these subjects.

“What if a child saw that nude photo?” I give up, what if? What would happen? Would their eyes pop out of their sockets? The fact is that if you took your average six-year-old to see an R-rated film, which might have two seconds of partial nudity in it, they wouldn’t even notice and if you took that same average six-year-old to a long loving sex scene in an unrated film, they would be bored out of their mind. Of course if they knew that they weren’t supposed to see nudity because of some quaint religious stigma, they would want to see it just because it is forbidden. But if they weren’t raised to believe that sexuality and nudity were bad, they wouldn’t care less about either until they were old enough to take pleasure from them.

The reason America is so prudish is of course in no small part due to the Bible. Aside from the before mentioned Genesis 3, there are lots of examples where fornication or premarital sex is demonized. For example, the Bible throws unmarried sex in with murders and… dare I say it…atheism — even claiming that these things are “worthy of death.”

Romans 1: 29-32: “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

The Bible also claims that if you have unmarried sex, you can’t get the magical Heavenly reward:

1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

There are many other “Biblical Correct” passages that deal with the evils of premarital sex. Some will argue that promiscuous sex is bad and that the Bible is correct in threatening Hell and Damnation for such a thing, but there are two issues with this. The first of course is the Bible didn’t say “promiscuous sex” it said pre-marital sex or fornication. Maybe you just had sex with one or two people. That is not promiscuous, but if you were not married at the time, that is a one way trip to eternal torture. Second, there really isn’t anything wrong with promiscuous sex as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult who knows what they are in for and everyone has taken the necessary precautions (i.e. birth control if desired). Sex can be an emotional experience for most people, but it is not always that way. Some people just enjoy sex without it being emotional. This is more common today in a world of one-night-stands and internet hookups. I don’t have a problem with that either. People can have very emotional “love making” one day and then have crazy, wild, f@*king the next day.

But even when sex gets highly emotional, most people can be mature and can handle those emotions like the adults they are. It is not uncommon for the average American to have between 6 to 20 sexual partners throughout their lives. Interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t just talk about the evils of unmarried sex, Paul didn’t think all to highly of sex in general. Paul claimed that sex… any sex was bad but if you had to have sex, than married sex is better than unmarried sex:

1 Corinthians 7:8-9 “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”

The character of Jesus as portrayed in the Bible of course took things much further. While Paul just didn’t like sex, Jesus didn’t even want people to be sexually aroused or to have sexual thoughts at all:

Matthew 5:27-29 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

That’s right, Jesus thinks you should poke out your eye because you might see an attractive person and get aroused.

So that means no Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, no pornography, no movies, and no leaving your house. No wonder so many Christians get all bent out of shape with the slightest glimpse of nudity or sexuality. Just an accidental look or peek could land them in eternal torture with no possibility for parole or reprieve. This is one of the main reasons why there are so many restrictions and censors concerning nudity and sexuality. This is why society is as sexually repressed and frustrated as it is. I’m surprised that Christians haven’t followed the lead of many Muslim cultures and adopted the Burqa.

 

See: http://www.examiner.com/article/atheism-101-christianity-and-the-demonization-of-sexuality-and-nudity?CID=examiner_alerts_article

 

 

Why the True Definition of ‘Pro-Life’ Makes Anti-Abortion Republican Heads Explode

Source: AlterNet

Author: Leslie Salzillo

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: it might be noted that the ‘pro-life’ stance does not have, and never has had, anything to do with life: it is all about SEX.)

In one simple quote, Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. sums up the hypocrisy in the ‘pro-life’ movement:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

This quote applies well to many Republican lawmakers and anti-choice extremists who continue to introduce/pass misogynist laws restricting a woman’s reproductive rights, as they work to shut down women’s health clinicslike Planned Parenthood. You don’t hear of these same extremists adopting children from unplanned pregnancies. But you do hear of these extremists cutting simple programs like schools lunches for children, cutting aid to families who are homeless/in need, and blocking free college tuition. No, the goals of these hypocrites seem to be to control women, their bodies, their families, and their futures. It’s good to hear a Catholic nun define the GOP double talk so well.

An outspoken advocate for women, Sister Joan Chittister is an author of 50 books and a lecturer. Holding a Ph.D. from Penn State University, she is also a research associate in a division of Cambridge University. Other subjects of her writing includes women in the church and society, human rights, peace and justice, religious life and spirituality. She has appeared in the media on numerous shows including Meet the Press, 60 Minutes, Bill Moyers, BBC, NPR, and Oprah Winfrey. You can visit Joan Chittister’s website at Joan Chittister.org.

 

Excerpts of this story were taken from an earlier Daily Kos diary: ‘Anti-Choice Extremists Shut Down Planned Parenthood Website’

See: http://www.alternet.org/gender/why-true-definition-pro-life-makes-anti-abortion-republican-heads-explode?akid=13342.123424.WcgKs8&rd=1&src=newsletter1040127&t=7

What the Numbers Don’t Tell Us: Religion Is a Lived, Shifting Experience

Source: Religion Dispatches, via AlterNet

Author: Kaya Oakes

Emphasis Mine

Having spent most of the last two years in conversation with Nones, seekers, doubters, and those who feel culturally bound to a religious tradition even while they don’t participate in one, the latest Pew survey results come as no surprise. It’s been clear for years that Mainline Protestant Christianity in America is on the decline.

That Catholicism also is in precipitous decline—and the news that the religiously unaffiliated now outnumber Catholics—is perhaps only surprising to those who haven’t attended a Catholic church recently.

Today, 13 percent of American adults are former Catholics. For every person who joins the Catholic church, six Catholics leave. “No other group,” according to Pew, “has such a lopsided ratio of losses to gains.”

When it comes to the topic of religious switching and the decline of converts to Catholicism, in spite of the popularity of Pope Francis, the church has work to do in terms of how it meets people where they arrive. The seeker who arrives at a Catholic church has very few options for being introduced to the faith.

After Vatican II, the Church designed an introductory course titled “The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults,” more commonly known as RCIA. The official handbook for RCIA focuses on what Paolo Friere would call the “banking concept” of education: pouring a lot of information about history and theology into the seeker, rather than providing people a space to ask questions, air doubts, and puzzle out what faith might mean in their everyday lives.

Among many other obvious reasons, including the sex abuse scandal and a lack of parity for women and LGBTQ people, this may be why the number of converts to Catholicism in America has shrunk so dramatically. The church, in many ways, has failed at being a place of encounter. In terms of its failure of retention, the church also has failed at asking itself some hard questions about what kind of religion it is modeling.

Rather than placing mercy and compassion at the forefront of its message, the American Catholic church in particular has become caught up in the culture wars, with a relentless and alienating focus on antiquated notions of sexuality and upholding “traditional marriage” that are deeply unappealing to Millennials and Gen Xers in particular.
An interesting point that many of the people I interviewed for my forthcoming book made is that they see themselves as “picky”— because they may choose and combine bits and pieces from many religious traditions but adhere strictly to no single one, they are practicing a new kind of religion, one which we might loosely call “DIY.”But is pickiness really the reason why Christianity—and Catholicism in particular—is on the decline in America?

Perhaps. But pickiness also may indicate a level of discernment and thoughtfulness about what is non-negotiable in people’s search for a way of believing. The identity of being a seeker is no longer one that might result in a lifelong adherence to a single faith.

Younger generations of Americans are used to being able to customize and curate many things. Additionally, the shifts in the ways we live out careers, marriage, and family means that we are becoming more adaptable, more accustomed to constant change, and more able to see religion as one piece of a complex puzzle of life rather than a centralizing force.

Religion for many is becoming a lived and constantly shifting experience rather than a series of handed-down gestures and prayers.

The new Pew survey doesn’t tell us why that’s occurring, only that it is occurring, and that it is unstoppable. If we want to find out why, numbers and statistics are only a start. The next step will getting to know the religiously unaffiliated as individual people.

See: http://www.alternet.org/what-numbers-dont-tell-us-religion-lived-shifting-experience?akid=13232.123424.nl2iwN&rd=1&src=newsletter1038135&t=19

7 Weird Realities Of Growing Up Without A Religion

10255797_10152206156388197_5651832525060857729_nSource: Thought Catalog

Author: Mathias Östlund

Emphasis Mine

Growing up in Sweden is awesome in a lot of ways, but something we don’t have much of is religion. Most of us grow up surrounded by atheism, and a lot of the times we’re not even introduced to the concept of God until we learn about it in school. Honestly, I wasn’t even entirely sure what a “God” was until I was about 8 years old. And as it turns out, not being indoctrinated into a religion until you’re somewhat capable of critical thinking can have some pretty weird side-effects.

1. The whole concept of God gets incredibly confusing

Imagine for a second that you had never heard about religion as a child, and that your first exposure to the concept of a “God” was through a more or less objective study of all the world’s major religions. You learn that some people believe there is one God, while others believe in several; some believe God is a shape-shifter, and others believe he is an old white guy with a great big beard.

Needless to say, 8-year-old me had a very hard time puzzling this all together.

2. It all just sounds like fairytales

Everyone seems to hold their particular belief as truth. But imagine if you were an 8-year-old kid being told that a long time ago, there was a man who could walk on water, create food out of thin air and resurrect from the dead. You’d probably just shrug it off as another lame comic book super hero with ridiculous powers.

At least, that’s what I did.

3. You start questioning people’s sanity

At first, I kind of just shrugged religion off as some sort of ridiculous stories, meant to entertain the generations that didn’t have video games or the internet. So imagine my surprise when this kid in school told me he actually believed in God, and prayed to him every day. At first, I thought he was joking, and when I realized that he wasn’t, I reacted in about the same way as I would if someone told me he actually believed in Super man.

Needless to say, I got sent to the principal’s office.

4. You can’t tell if religion is real or not

After getting in trouble for making fun of that kid’s religion, I was more confused than ever – if religion wasn’t real, then why was it such a big deal to make fun of it? So I asked my teacher about it, and she gave some halfhearted explanation about how it was sort of real, but still wasn’t.

So on one hand, religion was a real thing, and on the other hand it was just make-believe. For a kid who was still struggling with basic math, this wasn’t exactly the easiest concept to grasp.

5. As a kid, you get terrified

Picture this; you’re an 8-year-old kid without a care in the world, completely occupied with avoiding cooties and learning the names of the latest generation of Pokémon. Then one day, you find out about this place called “hell”, where you will be sent to suffer for all eternity unless you follow a bunch of rules and believe in the right things.

Of course you don’t believe it at first, but when you keep hearing more and more people talking about hell as a real place, you start to get more than a bit worried.

6. You have no idea which religion to choose

Every religious person in the world seems completely convinced that their God is the right one, and most of them seem to agree that anyone who doesn’t believe in that particular God is dead wrong and/or has a one-way ticket to this “hell” place.

Needless to say, you get more than a little confused about which religion you’re supposed to choose in order to avoid eternal damnation.

7. Eventually, you just say “screw it” and walk away

Imagine a bunch of people yelling at you that you need to start believing in this God or that, all while you’re still trying to figure out what a “God” even is. And instead of anyone actually trying to explain things, they only give you vague, propaganda-like answers that just sound like blatant lies.

Eventually, you’re just going to get frustrated and give everything the finger as you walk away. At least that’s what happened to me with religion, and I decided that hey, maybe this whole “God” thing just wasn’t for me. TC mark

See:http://thoughtcatalog.com/mathias-ostlund/2015/05/7-weird-realities-of-growing-up-without-a-religion/

Science Shows Sex Is Better for Your Happiness Than Money

10702090_10152530695368197_2940911473565827532_nSource: AlterNer

Author: Lynn Stuart Parramore

Emphasis Mine

Money can’t buy you love. But is making love better than making money? Researchers David Blachflower of Dartmouth College and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England suggest the answer is yes.

Back in 2004, they examined the data on the self-reported levels of sexual activity and happiness of 16,000 people, and found that sex “enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations” they estimate that getting it on just once a month or more is equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by receiving an additional $50,000 in income for the average American.

Their paper, ” Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study,” which appeared in the National

Bureau of Economic Research, not only estimates the dollar amount happiness from sex can bring you, it also debunks the old myth that having more money means you’ll have more sex. In fact, Blachflower and Oswald find there’s zero difference in the frequency of sex from one income level to the next. But they do find that sex appears to bring more happiness to highly educated people than those with lower educational status, which roughly corresponds to economic status.

The long and short of it is that the happiest people are those who are having the most sexytime, though it’s not clear whether sex leads to happiness or if happy people just have more sex.

Happiness has become a popular area of research for all manner of investigators, and sex comes up again and again as a key element in the human happiness equation. Another study, conducted by Carsten Grimm from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, found that sex is pretty much the best thing going for happiness, generating the most pleasure, meaning and engagement for people. Drinking alcohol and partying ranked second for overall happiness, followed by volunteering at number three and meditation/religion at number four. On the other hand, using Facebook and doing housework both ranked low on the happiness scale. Working for pay was even lower. One caveat with this bit of research is that it looked at text messsages as an indicator of attitudes, and so the sample skewed young.

So how often should you be having sex to achieve maximum happiness? University of Colorado Boulder researchers found that it depends on how much you think your friends and neighbors are getting it on. Having more sex seems to make us happy, but thinking we’re getting more than the guy next door makes us even happier.

Back to the sex/money question, there are indications that having more nookie is linked to making more money. A study led by Nick Drydakis, economics lecturer at Angila Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, found that people who had sex three or four times a week earned more dough than those who had less frequent sex. Drydakis commented that a lack of sex can lead to loneliness, anxiety and depression that could negatively impact working life. He pointed to the famous hierarchy of needs theory developed by Abraham Maslow, which suggests that humans have to meet their basic needs like food, water and sexual activity before they can achieve success in other areas of life

It seems clear that the pursuit of happiness definitely happens between the sheets. But in addition to sex, make sure you get enough sleep, too. Researchers have found that a substance called hypocretin, which regulates sleep, also governs emotions, especially joy and well-being, and that adequate sleep is critical to happinness.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/science-shows-sex-better-your-happiness-money?akid=12343.123424._voOAe&rd=1&src=newsletter1022503&t=11

One Christian Group’s Never-Ending, Futile Quest to Save America’s Children from Sex

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: the most difficult aspect of blogging an information rich post such as this is to avoid highlighting everything!)

As anyone familiar with the Christian right can attest, there are a great many sayings Christians spout that are less charitable than it would seem. “I’ll pray for you” is a passive-aggressive way to tell someone to shove off. “It’s in the Lord’s hands” means that the speaker cannot be bothered to actually do something about a problem. And “we’re doing this for the children” means that adults and teenagers are doing something the Christian conservative thinks is ungodly, and children will be invoked to excuse attempts to control the choices of older people.

Take, for instance, the annual rite of the media watchdog organization Parents Television Council complaining about the MTV Video Music Awards. No one in the real world mistakes the VMAs for Sesame Street. The show starts at 8pm and doesn’t really get going until later. To make absolutely sure, the show is rated TV-14. Despite the many signposts alerting parents to the fact that this isn’t programming for the little ones, PTC always finds a way to use hand-wringing about the children to demand more censorship of the VMAs.

PTC seems like a very retro organization these days, still hammering on about what’s on TV when everyone has immediate access to whatever entertainment they want through the Internet. But the organization matters, not just because it is symptomatic of the larger tendency on the right to use “the children” as cover for attacks on the choices of older people, but because they are still the biggest organization out there setting the agenda for what kind of media conservatives are going to hold out as evil. You know, because of the children.

And while PTC might not be very successful at getting stuff off TV, it and its proxies in the media are extremely good at spreading the myth that our culture is oversexed, especially to conservative audiences. That, in turn, leads to attacks on sex education,  Planned Parenhood, and activists like Sandra Fluke who want insurance to cover birth control—anyone who is perceived as aiding this supposed over-sexualization.

Because conservative “watchdog” groups, with PTC leading the pack, set this agenda for the right, it’s no surprise that Fox News has picked up on PTC’s obsession with the evils of dancing and the VMAs in particular, such as Bill O’Reilly railing on for multiple nights on Fox News about the supposed threat to girls that the VMAs present and Fox News using the awards show to forward attacks on “modern feminism.” Sexy dancing is available to anyone’s eyeballs whenever they want to see it, but because PTC obsesses over the VMAs, so must Fox News.

Screaming about the supposed effect of the VMAs on children is such a big deal for the PTC that it released pre- and post-VMAs statement. The pre-statement was a threat, which really calls into question what kind of lessons PTC thinks are appropriate to teach small children. “The 2013 VMAs were a public relations kerfuffle for your network that I feel certain you will not wish to repeat,” it warned ominously, even though there is no evidence that the Miley Cyrus performance it referenced did much beyond garner more attention for Cyrus’ burgeoning career.

PTC demanded a TV-MA rating for the show, even though it has no nudity and never anything more ribald than dancing. The TV-14 rating, according to the PTC, “was simply unacceptable to the families who depend on the television ratings system to be applied accurately and to the millions of families whose children are marketed to by MTV.”

The PTC was founded in the ’90s by Christian right activist Brent Bozell, and for most of its life, it didn’t bother to hide that it was an organization rooted in Christian right ideals. It’s been undergoing a makeover to appear more as a secular organization in recent years, hiring Tim Winter, a registered Democrat, to take over from Bozell in 2007. Under Winter’s direction, PTC has made a few moves to actually try to be a bit more convincing when it comes to the claim that they’re in this for the children, including creating a division of its website that takes a stab at pushing for better role models for girls in media.

But looking over the PTC blog, it becomes clear that it’s just the same old reactionary organization that exists mainly to complain about sex and profanity on-air, even in situations where broadcasters have reasonable expectations that small children won’t be watching the shows.

For instance, Winter, whose legal party affiliation as a Democrat hasn’t stopped him from writing for Christian right organizations like One News Now, wrote a piece in early August denouncing McDonald’s advertising.  He wasn’t concerned about the rising rates of childhood obesity or the way that McDonald’s targets children directly for manipulative advertising of incredibly unhealthy food. That’s for people who actually give a crap about children.

No, Winter is mad that McDonald’s advertised on a silly VH1 show called Dating Naked. “The juxtaposition of this historically family brand with such sexually graphic content is shocking,” he argues, even though the nudity on the show is obscured through pixilation and the contestants aren’t engaged in any more sexual behavior than on any other dating show. So McDonald’s can continue to use clowns and toys to encourage kids to eat all the grease and sugar they can stomach, but god forbid a dating show that admits people are naked under their clothes.

Even though bumping and grinding has been part of pop music since roughly forever, PTC has a special obsession with being angry at Miley Cyrus for engaging in the usual pop musician antics. “America Wants More “Sound of Music” – Less “Bangerz” reads one headline where the PTC bloggers unintentionally parody their own religious right obsession with eradicating any acknowledgement of sex from the entertainment industry.

Cyrus gets singled out because she had the temerity to change from a squeaky clean child star to a more mainstream, risqué pop performer. In other words, she grew up. “Miley Cyrus built her career on the backs of teens, ‘tweens’ and their parents. But the content of her Bangerz Tour is wildly inappropriate for children and families, and NBC knows it,” Winter complained on the blog.

Even though Cyrus is now a grown woman, she is obligated to continue acting like she is a child. No big surprise there, as PTC’s entire existence is predicated on using children as a cover story for what they really want, which is an entertainment industry that treats grown adults like we are children.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of “It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.”

 

See: alternet.org/media/one-christian-groups-never-ending-futile-quest-save-americas-children-sex?akid=12175.123424.DJwUEB&rd=1&src=newsletter1017100&t=6

5 Crazy Myths About Sex From the Religious Right

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Emphasis Mine

Despite the fact that people have been having sex since literally before there were people, the religious right never stops acting like sex is some great conspiracy to bring about the end of human civilization. You have to give them credit for coming up with endlessly creative ways to go into full-blown panic at the idea that people are still having sex. Here’s five of the latest and silliest myths and legends about sex being floated by the religious right.

1) Sex education is an attempt to get kids “hooked” on sex, which is apparently an addictive drug now. Right Wing Watch found this video from the Christian right group Alliance Defending Freedom that is attempting to scare people about a proposed sex education curriculum in Tempe, Arizona. Even though Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with the curriculum in question—outside of being mentioned in its materials, accurately, as a place where one can go to receive sexual health care— ADF is valiantly trying to imply that they’re the secret masters behind this sex education curriculum.

“The question now is, is Planned Parenthood simply seeking to develop future customers and make a profit akin to tobacco companies providing cigarettes to kids?,” the video narrator asks. You start to get the impression that religious conservatives think that Planned Parenthood invented sex itself, just to trick kids into getting pregnant and getting abortions. It is worth pointing out that Planned Parenthood cannot “profit”, because it is a non-profit and all of its money goes right back into the organization so that it can better serve the health needs of the various communities it serves. Also, sex—and abortion—existed long before Planned Parenthood and will continue on even if the anti-choice movement was successful in wiping Planned Parenthood out.

2) Gay rights activism is a conspiracy to steal women away and turn them feminist. Fanatical misogynist blogger Robert Stacy McCain put up a post that was bizarre even by his remarkably low standards recently, arguing that feminism is run by “academic radicals who relentlessly strive to teach girls that lesbianism is the feminist ideal” and that the “one purpose of education now is to prepare young people for their lives as gay adults”. It’s a garbled, pretentious mess, but a wonderful encapsulation of a bunch of right wing myths and fears: Anger about women getting education, accusations that gay people are trying to recruit, fear that feminist arguments really are compelling.

But above all else, you get the strong impression that McCain and his male readership are deeply afraid that if women are allowed to have choices, they won’t choose men like McCain and his readers. Not an unreasonable fear—the only evidence-based one they probably have—but certainly not a legitimate reason to rail against higher education for women or gay rights.

3) Planned Parenthood is trying to push your kids into having kinky sex! Lila Rose, with her organization Live Action, is single-mindedly obsessed with trying to take down the Planned Parenthood. Her ostensible reason is that the health care organization offers abortion, but it becomes clear, when engaging with her work, that the real objection is that Planned Parenthood offers support to people who want to have happy, healthy sex lives, and Rose really does not want people to have those happy, healthy sex lives.

This became exquisitely clear in her latest “sting” operation on Planned Parenthood, where she had volunteers go into Planned Parenthood offices, present themselves as people asking for information and advice on sex, and then filming the workers—and this is supposed to be shocking—answering the questions asked of them. The volunteers pretended to be young, sexually active people who had been reading Fifty Shades of Gray and wanted to know what bondage and S&M were. By and large, the sex educators responded to a direct question asking about a sexual practice with accurate, warm-hearted responses, with an emphasis on practicing bondage safely. Apparently Rose thinks they should have pretended to be shocked and thrown their patients out. Offering help to people who ask for it? Next thing you know, they’ll start letting people read about stuff they are curious about and then where will we be?

4) Lesbians can’t be pretty! The Christian singer Vicky Beeching has come out as lesbian, a process that was extremely stressful for her, considering her conservative background and her current conservative Christian fan base. Ed Vitigliano of the American Family Association reacted by being confused about how it could be that someone who is pretty to him might not be into men. “I think most men would think that Vicky was a very pretty lady, and those sorts of appraisals are usually made without thinking,” he writes. “This makes the subject of sexual orientation rather difficult to understand at times.”

He then goes on to explain, at length, how women really do it for him, as if this were information that anyone cares about at all. “I don’t know what it’s like to feel that way toward a man,” he adds. Okay, well, it seems that’s true of Beeching as well, making his attempts to make this seem stranger and more alien than it is even sillier.

Vitigliano reluctantly accepts that gay and lesbian people must feel the way they say they do—an admission he treats like it’s a huge favor he’s doing them—but concludes that they must therefore be “broken”, because “the human race is clearly designed as male and female”. In other words, pretty ladies are put here for men, and if you pretty ladies want something else for yourself, well, your mistake for thinking you belong to yourself.

5) Contraception is a conspiracy to ruin the family. Anti-choicers used to try to bother to keep up the pretense of being “pro-life” by sticking to picketing clinics that offer abortion, but those days are over. As Robin Marty chronicled for Cosmopolitan, anti-choice activists in Minneapolis are desperately trying to shut down a new Planned Parenthood there, even though it doesn’t offer abortion. Their reason? Contraception itself is an evil that must be stomped out. Anti-choicers have blanketed the area neighborhoods with flyers “urging residents to avoid the new Planned Parenthood, which they say offers ‘dangerous contraception,’ ‘promotes and encourages sex without limits,’ and is ‘destroying families.’” They argue that sex should only happen with no “medication or barrier devices” and only for couples “open to new life”.

In reality, contraception is actually quite good for families and marriages. Cristina Page accumulated the historical evidence showing that greater contraception use correlated strongly with lower incidence of child poverty and happier marriages. In contrast, religious conservatives and people who live in communities controlled by religious conservatives have higher rates of divorce, no doubt in part because their ambivalent or hostile attitudes towards birth control and abortion cause a lot of hasty commitments that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

See: http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/5-crazy-myths-about-sex-religious-right?utm_source=Amanda%20Marcotte%27s%20Subscribers&utm_campaign=13e26a5219-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-13e26a5219-79824733&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark