Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Readers on this blog will notice that I have little or no patience with superstition, and I am quite skeptical with regards to clairvoyance, faith healing and other theological nonsense expounded upon by folks who have no evidence to back up their fraudulent claims, well-meaning they may be.
Of late, I have noticed a surge of Christian pamphlets at my doorstep; while I haven't been receiving any Christian visitors in my home personally, I have noticed that a lot of similar-looking pamphlets have been lying about near my home, cluttered around void decks and all, and on closer inspection I discovered, to my chagrin, that they have originated from one source: Lighthouse Evangelism, a church located in the eastern part of Singapore (Exact Location: Tampines).
Welcome to the Peter Pan world of happy evangelism and faith healing.
Light House Evangelism: The Beginnings
What caught my attention on that little red flyer was its rather flamboyant and outrageous contents: According to this Church, faith healing does work, and to "prove" its message, it has written testimonials to validate its claims.
In order to provide a little insight into this megachurch, it is imperative to dwell a little into the history of this unctuous Church and the origins of such preposterous claims:
From the Church website:
"Lighthouse Evangelism was born on April 16, 1978. Pastor Rony with 8 other members commissioned by Jubilee Presbyterian Church (English Service) conducted their first service at Chip Bee Centre. Twenty-four people were present – most of them came as a result of the nine pioneers’ door-to-door evangelism. The church grew slowly but surely and steadily.
The turning point came when Pastor Rony planted an outreach in Hotel Grand Central with the help of ten Lighters on January 1, 1984, leaving the established work at Chip Bee to Pastor Clarence. The first service attracted 125 people; and within one and a half years, there were about 200 worshippers at the Hotel.
On Sept 1, 1985, the two centres merged as one in Hotel Grand Central. With dedicated Lighters, the church grew rapidly. Two morning services were then conducted but the hall became too small.
The next big step we took was on June 1, 1986; we shifted to Amara Hotel which had just been opened that very week. For the next six years, we had to relocate our services to other hotels and auditoriums whenever Amara could not accommodate us.
These untimely disruptions spurred us to search more urgently a ground where we could build our church. Then we managed to secure the Tampines site for our first church building. Our first Sunday Service was conducted on August 9, 1992 when Lighthouse Tampines was completed. It was overflowed with our members and guests. 700 Lighters were prepared to travel to the east with us."
Like most megachurches, Lighthouse Evangelism started from humble origins, and while it looks like an ordinary church on the surface, it has a very impressive "portfolio" on its cards: The presence of God that has the power to heal its members!!!!
Listed on its miracle testimonies are written testimonies of folks who have been incapacitated or devastated by some form of physical and mental ailment in some stage of their lives, and, according to all of them, the church and ultimately god had interfered to deliver them from their agonies.
Some of these purported ailments include:
1. Slipped Discs
2. Hepatitis B
5. Gambling, Smoking and Sex Addictions
& so on and so forth.
Now, at this point, I'd like to seek forgiveness for at least one issue: Cherry-picking. I am not about to bore my readers or myself to death, so I am going to cherry pick and take one "miracle" testimony from this cluster of testimonies to rationalize and explain why such testimonies are the combined result of misplaced faith, superstition and irrational thinking.
The Case of Jimmy Heng
Like most middle-aged folks, Jimmy suffered from a host of ailments: High Blood Pressure, kidney stones, and eye problems.
& like any concerned patient, his first instinct was to pay a visit to the good doctor, not a miracle service....clearly, when life and death issues are concerned, faith is very conveniently chucked to the back seat.
Jimmy's condition is described as follows:
"Over the years, he suffered from a host of sicknesses. He had repeated leg infections which bothered him for more than two years. His doctor could not trace the root cause. All he knew was that his body was not responding to any antibiotic. The first infection started with a swell in his left ankle which rapidly spread all the way up to his knee. His left leg ended up almost double its normal size. The doctor could only open up the infected part, clean up the pus and then stitch it back. The infection occurred a second time. This time it affected the back of his right knee. When it started to swell, Jimmy reacted quickly and underwent surgery before it spread further. His third infection was in his right ankle. Again a surgery was warranted to resolve the problem. By the time he had his fourth infection, he became very concerned as his doctor said that the attacks could come anytime. Although surgery could take care of it, there was no prevention at all. In 1995, he attended his first Miracle Service which was then conducted once a month. After prayer, he rejoiced that his leg infection stopped completely and had not recurred since."
At this point we can deduce that Jimmy had at least three operations to solve his knee problem, the forth operation was not required because the knee did not become infected, and this, apparently, was attributed to the miracle service prayer he attended once a month!
No infection plus prayers equals to a miracle from God!!!
Well, subsequently, God deals Jimmy with a second whammy:
"Jimmy also suffered from high blood pressure for years. One day, he suddenly felt a bursting sensation at the top of his head. Knowing that something was simply not right, he consulted a doctor. His blood pressure was found to be 196/155 which was dangerously high and could lead to a stroke. Long-term medication was prescribed to keep his blood pressure under control. Then at one Miracle Service, God impressed upon his heart to depend on Him and showed him the way to receive his healing. The Lord told Jimmy to come before Him and be still for five to 10 minutes, three times a day. Jimmy obeyed. Before long, he was healed. Without medication, his blood pressure hovered at the normal range of 120/90. "
Now, it has become apparent that once again, despite his new-found faith, Jimmy turns to the good doctor for advice: His blood pressure was dangerously high, and this meant that he had to take medication for his high blood pressure. Apparently, he chose faith, and found that, to his delight, his blood pressure dropped!
Did the problems stop there? No. Now we know that blood pressure is sometimes a pesky problem: Sure it recedes for a while, but if you are deluded to think that you really don't need medication to control it, it comes back, and this time round, Jimmy had kidney stones to contend with, which, I suspect, has to do with his blood pressure ailment which he refused to have controlled due to his faith in the "miracle services". The result is sad, but inevitable:
"Furthermore, Jimmy was hospitalized because of kidney stones. On the eve of the surgery, he was prayed over by one of our pastors. Although the pain persisted, he just continued to trust God and commanded the stones to be removed in the name of Jesus. After 15 minutes, he just felt an assurance in his spirit that the stones were gone. The following day, a routine ultrasound scan was conducted and the surgery was duly called off because there was not a trace of any kidney stone."
Again, this stroke of good fortune is attributed to God. But guess what I found from a medical journal website:
"Fortunately, surgery is not usually necessary. Most kidney stones can pass through the urinary system with plenty of water—2 to 3 quarts a day—to help move the stone along. Often, the patient can stay home during this process, drinking fluids and taking pain medication as needed. The doctor usually asks the patient to save the passed stone(s) for testing. It can be caught in a cup or tea strainer used only for this purpose."
While I am not a doctor, and I do not have the ability to turn back the clock and witness the chain of events, it is most likely that the good doctor had advised him to drink plenty of fluids to pass out his stone via urine, hence saving him from undergoing the trauma of a surgery.
Well of course we don't want the good doctor to get all the credit, do we??? So it is God, and not the Doc, who saved him from the kidney stones saga. Besides, if he had taken the very medications that had controlled his blood pressure, he might not be having to contend with the problematic kidney stones in the first place!
And the ultimate question: Why did God give him the kidney stones in the first place????
Faith Healing Vs Science
Quite often, when we take such testimonials at face value, it is easy to be disillusioned and fall for such testimonies. I am not doubting the integrity of Jimmy, or the guy who narrated the story for Jimmy with regards to the testimony: I suspect that huge gaps have been left out to leave readers with the impression that Jimmy was indeed cured by a succession of miracles and not professional, modern medicine.
I think it is very important for people to realize that wishful thinking and miracle cures from imaginary friends cannot be relied upon to save your life: In fact, I seriously suspect that had Jimmy listened to his doctor he would have had his blood pressure permanently checked, he wouldn't have to go through the ignominious suffering from the pain caused by the kidney stones.
Churches like these can be portents for medical disasters, and it is best that folks do not fall for this kind of flim-flam, no matter how sincere the peddlers of miracle bullshit may be.
After all, if God wanted to cure you, why did he make you sick in the first place???
Faith Healing: 100% Failure Rate
-"I can't say that faith healing has never worked or that it doesn't ever work. All I can say is my experience is 100% failure."
-James Randi, skeptic and Founder of the James Randi Education Foundation. He has an award of $1 million dollars for anyone who can scientifically verify purported supernatural claims.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
One of the curious requests from religious folks seem to revolve around teaching Intelligent Design alongside Evolution, as a form of "alternative", as if ID (short for Intelligent Design) has any form of legitimacy in the realms of proper Science.
A reader, possum papa, has these pearls of wisdom to expound:
"In the interest of free thought we have to show all perspectives, and let them decide on their own. We don't say the world is 6000 years old, and you have to believe it. We say some people believe this, and some people believe that, and you think about these different views, and decide what you think is correct."
Ah, free thought. Ben Stein, in his firm, "Expelled", suggested that academia should include controversial, non-factual branches of pseudoscience, such as ID, in science classrooms in order to foster open-mindedness in the field of scientific learning. Since then, many Christians have parroted Ben Stein, and religious folks have seized upon this propaganda film to infuse ID into mainstream Science and hopefully set it up as a legitimate form of scientific learning.
Yes, it all seems very dainty at first. But let's see.......will Christians be able to stomach this????
Excepts from the BBC article, "Do They really think the earth is flat???"
Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the "conspiracy" that the Earth is round.
"People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers," says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee, reacting to the new Microsoft commercial.
"Many use the term 'flat-earther' as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism."
Mr Davis, a 25-year-old computer scientist originally from Canada, first became interested in flat earth theory after "coming across some literature from the Flat Earth Society a few years ago".
"I came to realise how much we take at face value," he says. "We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses."
Mr Davis now believes "the Earth is flat and horizontally infinite - it stretches horizontally forever".
"And it is at least 9,000 kilometres deep", he adds.
James McIntyre, a British-based moderator of a Flat Earth Society discussion website, has a slightly different take. "The Earth is, more or less, a disc," he states. "Obviously it isn't perfectly flat thanks to geological phenomena like hills and valleys. It is around 24,900 miles in diameter."
Mr McIntyre, who describes himself as having been "raised a globularist in the British state school system", says the reactions of his friends and family to his new beliefs vary from "sheer incredulity to the conviction that it's all just an elaborate joke".Why Flat Earthers Are Ridiculed, & Why Flat Earth Theory Ain't Science
Before you start guffawing and laugh yourselves to death, let us perhaps study the similarities between people who believe in ID and the people who believe the Earth is flat:
1. Both theories do not have any standing and credibility in the realm of Science.
The idea of the flat earth, in particular, is thoroughly debunked based on tons of images of a global planet from the vast plethora of satellites currently revolving around our blue planet, compelling evidence for and not against a global planet. Besides, one can easily circumvent the globe without falling off the edge of the planet, hence, proof that earth isn't flat.
Intelligent Design, the idea that an intelligent being has to exist to create existence as we know it, tends to follow a peculiar train of thought: For example: A frog's elbow is complicated. Such a complicated elbow has to be a product of design. Hence, the conclusion is that, God exists.
IDers often focus on the term "irreducible complexity", a term coined by Michael Behe, which assumes that a certain complex organ or part, say, the eye, wouldn't work at all if one part of a component does not exist or doesn't work properly will cause the whole "design" to fail, and hence cannot be reduced. He likens such complexities to a "mousetrap". Such ludicrous theories can be easily debunked: Professor Dawkins used examples of various developmental stages of the eye using a computer program, plus examples gleaned from various creatures in Mother Nature, to prove that "1% of an eye is better than no eye at all".
2. Both proponents face ridicule for their beliefs.
It is no surprise, then, when a belief cannot be validated by evidence, that it should be subjected to derision and ridicule. Ben Stein has highlighted it as a form of prejudice and persecution, while Flat Earthers are more or less resigned to such negative comments from the general public.
Intelligent Design: A Dangerous Political Movement
Having said that, there are some marked differences between the two: Flat-Earthers do not have the political clout to bring about a concerted effort to smuggle their bullshit as valid Science. Creationists who attempt to mask and make Creationism more broad-based by terming it "Intelligent Design" do have a lot of support from the powerful Religious Right, and herein lies the danger.
If Intelligent Design is taught in a classroom as legitimate Science, imagine the scores of ancient learning that kids will be allowed to grapple and confuse themselves with: Alchemy vs Chemistry & Astronomy vs Astrology. Or worst, Holocaust deniers teaching that the horrible events associated with antisemitism never existed. Education, as we know it, will be so hopelessly screwed!
Opening a Can of Worms
Science deals with empirical evidence and cold, hard facts, not incredulous, unfounded claims.
If Intelligent Design is allowed to be taught as legitimate Science, myths, legends, and many forms of religious beliefs will be infiltrated into secular classrooms, hence obfuscating Science with pseudoscience. Are Christians really willing to forsake education to propagate their own bullshit beliefs, and in the process opening a can of worms and allow all manner of charlatans and tricksters to peddle their beliefs in secular education institutions?
-"...when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong."
Thursday, 19 February 2009
In the warped, convoluted world of Islam, women are, strictly speaking, creatures who rank low amongst the hierarchy of male patriarchs: Allah is deemed the solitary and supreme deity, below which, Prophet Muhammad is reserved a special place beside the deity as a sort of right hand man and proselytizer, followed by the average Arab male, and then his assortment of property, including women.
Like Christianity, Islam is the offshoot of Judaism, and like its predecessor, Islam shares a set of sectarian, desert-fakir beliefs, chief amongst which is the lowly status of women.
In the OT of the bible, the standard, virtuous woman is a submissive woman: She is to be humble and complying to her husband at all times, and is treated as no better than a mule and an average oxen, stuff which in times of war, are classified as "war spoils":
"They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil."
The Koran has this pearls of wisdom as well:
"Men are in charge of women, because Allah made men to be better than women. Refuse to have sex with women from whom you fear rebellion, and scourge them. " -4:34
In a way, Islam is a continuation of old Jewish traditions: Women are little more than properties, subjugated and manipulated by male patriarchs who are free to treat them as they so choose to.
Islam & Women
In predominantly Islamic countries administrated under the auspices of Syariah law, women have little say in their own private lives: They are obligated to wear stifling, ugly-looking outfits known as burkas when they have to appear in public venues, are denied even the most basic of education, married off when they are in their pre-teens (that is, if they are lucky) or in their childhood (Prophet Muhammad famously married a 9 yr old girl) so as to ensure that the bridegroom is guaranteed to a spot of virginity on the day of the wedding.
So stifling is religion and culture in such religiously-dominated environments that the repercussions of disobedience can be deadly, as these 5 Pakistani women found out, to their own detriment.
Life Burial of Women: Activists Demand Action
By Zofeen Ebrahim
KARACHI, Sep 15 (IPS) - Prominent civil rights activists are demanding that the government act against those responsible for the burial alive of five women in Balochistan, in July, that politicians from the province have defended as an age-old custom.
On Jul. 14, in the remote village of Babakot, 80 km from Usta Mohammad town in Jafferabad district, three teenage girls and two older women were buried alive, allegedly on the orders of Abdul Sattar Umrani, brother of Sadiq Umrani, a provincial minister belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
According to the version released by the Hong-Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the victims were taken to Nau Abadi, in the vicinity of Babakot, where Umrani and his six companions dragged the three younger women out of his jeep and beat them up before shooting and seriously injuring them. The girls were reported still alive when Umrani and his accomplices hurled them into a wide ditch and covered them with earth and stones.
AHRC said the two older women were an aunt and the mother of one of the girls. When they protested at the treatment meted out to the girls, they were also pushed into the ditch and buried alive.
Apparently the teenagers were being punished for asking to be allowed to marry men of their choice.
When the matter was raised in on Aug. 30 in parliament by opposition senator Yasmin Shah - who accused the government of turning a blind eye to the killings - a senator from Balochistan, Israrullah Zehri, retorted: "It is part of our custom". Zehri was supported by Senator Jan Mohammad Jamali who said the incident was being ‘’unnecessarily politicised.’’
In Pakistan and other Islamic states run under the statute of the Shariah law, violence is usually meted out in outmoded, barbaric and crude manners, usually with the sort of brutality one usually associates with the Dark Ages: Stoning, decapitating, and other archaic practices are meted out accordingly in accordance to the infringement of religious laws.
This adherence to Islam also has a significant influence amongst tribal clans in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which, chief amongst other appalling acts of barbarity, includes the act of "honor killing": Women who do not abide by the rules of their male patriarchs are deemed to have sullied the honor of the family, and hence become liable for murder by their own family members.
In normal, secular circumstances, the abhorrent idea of murder is so repulsive, that it is often very difficult for anyone or the general public to vindicate such acts of violence, let alone the idea of death by live burial!
Imagine the sheer terror of being buried alive, literally, as your murderers and their accomplices shove earth and stones onto your face, slowly asphyxiating and choking the life out of you. Fuck, most people would find it difficult to mete out such treatments to animals, let alone human beings.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in 2007 alone, as many as 636 deaths were attributable to honor killings, possibly more as many cases do go unreported every year.
Why Religion is Dangerous
If anything else, religious laws are terrible abusers of human rights: Enforcers who enforce theocratic laws do not concern themselves with trivialities, such as the individual right of a person to fair trial, nor do they concern themselves with the sufferings of others.
And when it comes to women, the maltreatment goes way beyond the pale: Deemed as little more than human reproductive vessels with little inherent value, they are oppressed, ill-treated, and face real dangers of being abused by their very own family members.
This kind of misogynistic abuse against women should never be tolerated; unfortunately, religion condones and even mandates such atrocities. This is religion at its worst.
Abusing Women in the Name of God
-"When I began to study the Koran, the holy book of Islam, I found many unreasonable ideas. The women in the Koran were treated as slaves. They are nothing but sexual objects. Naturally I set aside the Koran and looked around me. I found religion equally oppressive in real life. And I realized that religious oppression and injustices are only increasing, especially in Muslim countries. The religious terrorists are everywhere. But if I criticized Muslim fundamentalists and mullahs in particular, it is because I saw them from close quarters. They took advantage of people's ignorance and oppressed them. They considered women as chattel slaves and treated them no better than the slaves of the ancient world."
-Bangladeshi Writer, Taslima Nasrin
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
(Note: Due to technical problems at blogspot, I have posted this a day late.)
Here at Atheisthaven, we never cease to take the opportunity to thank the great men and women of Science and Learning: Today marks a special day for one of biology's greatest men: Charles Darwin, founder and intrepid scientist who gave us the theory of evolution.
In recognition to Darwin's services to biology and the scientific theory of evolution, I would like to commemorate this day and reflect on Darwin's invaluable contributions to biology and science.
Here's a toast to Charles. Happy 200th Birthday.
Friend of Charles Darwin
Sunday, 8 February 2009
Amongst the myriad of religious practices which are practiced by religions, prayer is one of the most sacred of duties: It is supposedly a two-way communication line between you and your favorite cosmic deity (although I tend to suspect prayer to be a one-way, nonreciprocating kind). Most prayers come in the form of accosting for divine favors, and people do pray for all kinds of divine intervention, from trivial nonsense such as winning football leagues to more serious endeavors, such as killing your enemy or seeking some form of a divine cure for supposedly incurable ailments.
Imagine this scenario: You are suffering from a terrible migraine, and here you are, taking your seat next to your doctor, who examines you, and instead of dispensing his expert medical advice and some prescription drugs, decides to offer you a free prayer for your health. Sounds familiar?
From time to time, most of us, I am sure, will encounter folks from the field of medicine who will take our religious liberties for granted. During my post-op visit to a hospital to have my stitches removed last year, I was attended to by a male nurse who, during the process of removing my stitches, decided I would do well with a bit of proselytizing. I wasn't very much offended, given the fact that my knee was at his mercy, but is the hospital the right institution for spreading religious dogma?
A nurse found out the answer the hard way, according to this BBC news article:
Nurse Suspended For Prayer Offer
1st Feb 2009
A Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended for offering to pray for a patient's recovery.
Community nurse Caroline Petrie, 45, says she asked an elderly woman patient during a home visit if she wanted her to say a prayer for her.
The patient complained to the health trust about Mrs Petrie who follows the Baptist faith.
She was suspended, without pay, on 17 December and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting next week.The Roles & Responsibilities of Hospital Staff
One stubborn trait that keeps cropping up in such delicate "religious" issues is that religious folks are very insistent in blurring the line drawn between Church & State, exploiting any crook and cranny to proselytize to unwary, secular citizens as well as citizens who somehow do not share their religious zeal.
Sure, these religious proselytizers have their right to spread the religious virus in their churches and to a certain extent, public places, but to allow for such unabashed pimping of God in secular, government institutions not only impedes important work, it breeds discontentment and intolerance towards other folks who do not share the same faith as the proselytizers who seek to shove religion down the throats of other people.
I have little doubt that Carrie Petrie is a well-meaning nurse and a devout Christian, but let's try to reverse the roles for the sake of argument: Suppose Carrie is the patient, and sitting next to her attending to her is a Muslim nurse who begins to rant about the virtues of Prophet Muhammad. Will the Muslim nurse be offending her religious sensitivities?
Clearly, the need for secularism and separation of church and state is evident here: It allows for the smooth running of the hospital, minus all the negative bias and unnecessary bickering arising from religious disputes, thus allowing the hospital to function normally.
In short, being a government entails certain conformance to rules and regulations, and that includes not proselytizing to folks when you are dispensing government service. For the nurse in question, that means no proselytizing to patients, which she had quite willingly and blatantly commit.
The Faith of Patients?
The moment a patient steps into a medical institution, he or she no longer places faith in cosmic deities: After all, if you really trust in God to deliver you from the pain and suffering caused by your ailments, why would you visit a doctor, instead of a priest?
To put it bluntly, why should God bother to inflict disease upon you, only to have you find a cure from a priest? A case of divine sadism on the cards?
Sure, religious folks who are inevitably cured of their ailments by doctors will attribute their convalescence to some invisible deity. Faith, it seems, is dispensable when life-and-death is at stake, but upon recovery, the good doctor is all but forgotten, his actions replaced by the wild imaginations of a supposedly loving, powerful deity.
Keeping Government Institutions Secular
The need to maintain equality and bi-partisanship is the basis of government institutions, such as hospitals. Hospitals should be dispensing medical care and services, not prayers and dogma. Sectarian religions should never be allowed to be dispensed by medical professionals and government staff.
While the fundamentalists may decry secular rules as being infringements upon their religious rights, I am quite sure that they will also be the same folks who will complain vehemently if someone else who is of a different faith from theirs attempts to shove down religion down their throats. These folks simply want the government to indulge in their fantasy entities at the expense of the rights of others.
If indeed patients are really so confident of their respective deities, they should be visiting the Churches, not hospitals.
And finally, if prayers do work, not a single hospital we see today will be left standing today. We'd all be cured on a wing and a prayer.
Prayers Don't Work.......
-"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish."
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Sex: The primal force of passion and sweat that drives the mo-jos of men and women all over the world. Besides being a primary act for pro-creation, sex is, more often than not, a taboo subject, executed by all and sundry but more often than not, illiciting nothing more than mere whispers and disapproving looks whenever it is mentioned in the public domain. Religious folks are especially reticent about the topic, and whenever possible, they will try every trick in the book to have it removed from public discussion, fearing that it might drive the young and horny ones into acts of sheer depravity and wild orgies.
And here is where sex education comes in: Besides teaching students more about their bodies (and their genitals), they are made aware of the various medical aspects of sex and most importantly, the ability to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy through the usage of contraceptives.
In sum, a comprehensive sex education program should include:
1. Basic biology about the human sexual organs, the various STDs and their effects on its victims, and so on.
2. The right to say no to sex, i.e abstinence.
3. The importance of practicing safe sex with the utilization of contraceptives.
4. Teaching youths, especially young children, to recognize the dangers and approaches from sex offenders.
There's more from where I learned about sex in my classroom, but the crux of the issue is protection and choice: Abstinence or safe sex.
Alas, religious folks aren't particularly keen about sex: Sure, the bible chimes about "being fruitful and multiply", but unfortunately that literally translates to making out for the sole purpose of having babies, and having sex with condoms on kind of kills the "multiply" equation. Naturally, they want their own brand of "sex education" (I sometimes prefer to address it as "non-sex" education, for all intents and purposes) in schools: Abstinence-Only Sex Education Programs.
Unfortunately, these religious-slanted problems don't work, according to an Oxford's University Study:
"The Oxford University team reviewed 13 US trials involving over 15,000 people aged 10 to 21.
They found abstinence programmes had no negative or positive impact on the rates of sex infections or unprotected sex, the British Medical Journal said."& if you think this is only a British problem, check it out across the Atlantic Ocean, where the bastion of Abstinence-only programs hogs about US$1.5 billion dollars on such religiously-motivated, money-wasting programs:
"Planned Parenthood estimates that two thirds of teenagers will have experienced sexual intercourse by the time they leave school.
And with some 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year, America has one of the highest teen birth rates in the developed world.
'This national programme which has wasted $1.5bn (£750m) of tax money is a failure and our teens are paying the price,' says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood."While $1.5 billion dollars does seem like a pin drop in the middle of the American monetary arsenal (the American military juggernaut is running debts upwards of trillions of dollars on wars), that money could be spent on more meaningful programs other than spreading religious programs which are not getting the job done.
& that, my friends, is 1.5 billion bucks done the proverbial drain.
Abstinence Programs & Religious, Homophobic Agendas
The real gist of the sex education mantra is this: You can't have a sex education program without touching about the subject of sex. Abstinence programs attempt to skirt around this fundamental problem (which is similar to the way they try to subtract Christianity out of the drivel on Intelligent Design) by indoctrinating kids on the perceived evils and depravity of sex itself: In short, demonize sex and drum it to the kids so that they would be too scared to even think about it. They are not bothered with equipping kids with the correct data so that they can make a conscientious decision on their own!
As a result, what really comes out from an abstinence-only program is a convoluted, distorted form of sex education, which, according to this abstinence program book, includes:
1. Absolutely no sex under any circumstances other than marriage-cum-procreation purposes; homosexual sex is to be avoided at all cost.
2. Pandering lies and misinformation on the efficacy of contraceptives, such as condoms.
Instead of being educators and providers of information, abstinence program officers inevitably become purveyors of religious-right propaganda and homophobia and at the same time, mask their religious activities as perfectly secular sex education programs.
Abstinence-Only Programs Are Impractical
The stark, naked truth is, teenagers and adults have sexual needs. Turning a blind eye to this need or shoving your head into the sand doesn't make it go away. People will fuck regardless of whether we tell them to or not, and the idea of sex education is to equip people with the correct knowledge to protect themselves, not fuck up the education system with some shitty, scare program to turn every growing teenager into reclusive monks and nuns.
If you are still harboring any hopes for an abstinence-only program, take a gander at the Vatican: Keeping the hands of priests off women is a whole lot easier than keeping their hands off altar boys.
Mad Men from the Vatican.........
“[W]idespread and indiscriminate promotion of condoms [is] an immoral and misguided weapon in our battle against HIV-AIDS. …[C]ondoms may even be one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV-AIDS.”
- From the text of a statement issued by the bishops of South Africa following their semiannual meeting, where they considered a change in their official condoms policy in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic [Karen DeYoung, “AIDS challenges religious leaders,” Washington Post, August 13, 2001].