Saturday, September 19, 2009

AANEWS for Friday, Spetember 18, 2009

#1278 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 09/18/09
A Service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nationwide movement that defends
civil rights for non-believers; works for the total separation of
Church and State; and addresses issues of First Amendment public
"ATHEIST is really a thoroughly honest, unambiguous term, it admits
of no paltering and no evasion, and the need of the world, now as
ever, is for clear-cut issues and unambiguous speech."
-- Chapman Cohen
In This Issue...
* God's Goons Gone Wild? Bet on it...
* Buckner on the stump, DC/Metro speaking tour
* Worth Noting... Teen pregnancy in the Bible Belt?
* Dave's blog
* Resources
* About this list...
By Tim Mitchell recently published an excerpt from Lara Riscol's
upcoming book, "Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Human Sexuality". The
excerpt is entitled, "Girls Gone Wild vs. Virgins Till Marriage:
Why Is Sexual Life in America So Schizoid?" There are some parts of
the excerpt that are worthy of note. In particular, Riscol recounts
a particular example of pro-abstinence education put forth by the
Christian Right. In fact, the Christian Right makes up the bulk of
the conservative half of the excerpt. She writes:
"The two authors of the book, 'Hooked: how casual sex is harming our
kids,' lectured at a broadcast forum by the Christian-right Family
Research Council, the powerful lobbying arm of media empire Focus
on the Family. Beyond the usual physical dire consequences, Joe
McIlhaney and Freda Bush declared the irreparable emotional damage
of one having multiple sex partners. Dr. Bush drove home their
scientific claims by describing how adhesive tape loses its sticky
power after pulling it apart more than once. Like used adhesive
tape, the more you have sex with someone other than your spouse,
the more you lose your ability to bond. Oh, and sex means anything
that incites physical arousal; no word on masturbation. Bottom line
is there are only two types of sex: married (good) and unmarried
(bad). . . . Their conclusion supports the absolutist agenda of the
synergistic family values, traditional marriage and abstinence-only
movements that push the conservative ideal of sex confined to a
heteronormative lifetime of marital fidelity, to the exclusion of
all other sexual expressions. . . . For many, a magic pill to make
bad and scary things go away sounds nice. But if prescribing to
dogmatic absolutes worked, then the most religious and conservative
red states wouldn't have the highest rates of teen pregnancy,
divorce and porn consumption."
However, much of what Riscol discusses about the Christian Right
and sex doesn't get to the core problem of, as she puts it, our
inability to "budge beyond nostalgia-fed moral panics to sane
responses to modern challenges." In fact, even though her examples
of religious fundamentalism focus largely on the issue of sex,
they basically sum up the Christian Right's approach to just about
anything they see as a social problem, from abortion to evolution:
Present it in black and white terms.
Lump it in with other things that scare them to the point where they
are indistinguishable (e.g., homosexuality = bestiality, feminism =
communism, Obama = Islam, etc.) to gain emotional support. Claim
that accepting Jesus as your personal savior is the ONLY solution.
Ask for money, and then ask for more money, and then ask for even
more money.
Attack, attack, attack.
Furthermore, while authors such as Riscol touch on media-friendly
instances of fundie-supported anti-sexuality, they fail to question
the troubling contradictions that abound within conservative
religious circles. For example, even though the Christian Right
is eager to tell you how secular society promotes pedophilia, they
themselves go to great lengths to suppress press coverage of when
crimes of pedophilia occur within their own ranks of clergy, even
to the point of openly opposing legislation that supports extending
the civil statute of limitations for cases of child sex abuse. Or
when the Christian Right will speak loudly against gay marriage and
transsexuality, but say absolutely nothing when industrial chemicals
produce lakes and rivers filled with hermaphrodite fish and frogs.
While there are no instant solutions to ongoing contradiction
of human sexuality and religious conservatism/fundamentalism,
here are a few suggestions that I have about what can be done
to shake up the ongoing debate about sex and push it into less
fundie-friendly waters.
1. In addition to Darwin Day, atheists, agnostics, humanists and
free thinkers should also push for a Kinsey Day, in recognition
of trailblazing biologist/sexologist Alfred Kinsey. His work into
human sexuality has gone a long way towards promoting discussion of
human sexual behavior as something natural, not something of which
to be ashamed. He applied scientific research methods to a bunch of
horny, repressed and confused Americans-if that isn't a bold use of
reason, I don't know what is. Furthermore, like Darwin, religious
conservatives/fundies hate Kinsey as well. For example, according
to the Concerned Women of America (,
the ultimate goal of Kinsey and his supporters is "to normalize
pedophilia". As if the Vatican doesn't?
2. Change the debate venues with Christian Right leaders to
those speakers and locations that are more sex-friendly. In the
future, I don't want to see more Christian Right talking heads
take on Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, Jews or liberal Christians;
instead, I want to see the likes of Pope Ratzinger, Rick Warren
and T.D. Jakes talk about sex with nudists, preferably in front
of a nudist audience. (It would be even better to do this with
Christian nudists, which actually do exist. See the Christian
Nudist Convocation and the Christian Nudist Naturist Fellowships
International for examples.) Religious conservatives see sex (and
by extension, nudity) as dirty and sinful, while nudists are so
comfortable with their bodies (and by extension, their sexuality)
that they don't need clothes. Thus, it's a safe bet that fundies
are probably scared to death of nudists, probably more so than
any Atheist or Pagan they'll ever encounter.
Of course, nudists are just one possibility. For example, while
promoting his new book "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement
that Shattered the Party" on Democracy Now!, noted journalist Max
Blumenthal recently had this to say about Christian Right leader
James Dobson:
Dobson is a fascinating figure, because although he's leading what
is widely considered a religious movement, he's not a religious
leader. He has no theological credentials. He's not a preacher. What
is he? He's a child psychologist. And the way that he's won so
many followers is by, you know, doing radio shows about common,
mundane problems, like bedwetting, for example, or dealing with a
child that has, you know, issues with their sexuality, something
like that. . . . Where did Dobson's fortune come from? How did
he erect this empire? It came mainly from one book . . . Dare to
Discipline, which is essentially a manual for corporal punishment,
for beating your child. In this book, he says pain is a marvelous
purifier that a child should be-that pain goes a long way with a
child, that pain should be dispensed sufficiently enough to make a
child cry, but then the child will crumple to your breast, and you
should welcome the child with warm, open arms. This is a recipe for
sadomasochism . . . By creating a belt-wielding army of millions,
Dobson created the next generation of Republican shock troops,
who are more radical than before. And sadomasochism . . . is what
defines the essential character . . . of the Republican follower of
today. They're sadistic in that they want to lash out at deviants,
at people who are weaker than them, homosexuals, immigrants,
foreigners, socialists. At the same time, they're masochistic. They
are followers of a higher cause, of a strong leader, a magic helper
like Dobson or George W. Bush or the macho Jesus archetype that
they worship. And this is what defines this movement.
So, on the basis of Blumenthal's observations, I would pay a
lot of money to hear Dobson discuss issues such as domination,
submission and discipline with a professional dominatrix in
front of a pro-bondage-domination/sado-masochism (BDSM) audience.
Wouldn't you?
3. If you can't beat 'em, you can still make money off of 'em.
In reference to my previous point, there is an obvious BDSM theme in
conservative religious ideology in America. From Mel Gibson's snuff
film "The Passion of the Christ" to the almost daily Jesus S&M shows
at the Holy Land Experience, a Christian theme park in Florida,
there is clearly some deep-seated appreciation of pain (both giving
and receiving) among the biblical literalist crowd. Thus, you could
probably make a fortune by discretely selling Christian-themed
BDSM gear to fundies everywhere, especially in the Bible Belt.
I was thinking of giving my business a somewhat British theme by
calling it "Fish and Whips".
I guarantee you it will make a mint.
(Tim Mitchell is a professional writer who has contributed his
skills to many companies and non-profit organizations along the east
coast. Mr. Mitchell has used his diverse experience in both public
relations and media production to aid various groups in their efforts
to raise awareness of religious freedom and First Amendment issues.)
September 22-25, 2009
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, will be speaking
at several venues in the Washington, DC Metro area September 22-25,
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 Virginia Commonwealth University,
sponsored by the United Secular Alliance at VSU
Location: University Commons; Virginia Rooms B and C
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
"This is a Free Country, Not a Christian Nation."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 American University, sponsored by AU
Rationalists and Atheists (AURA)
Location: School of International Service Building, Lounge
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Thursday, September 24, 2009 George Mason University, sponsored by
Rational Response Squad at GMU 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Location: Johnson Center, Meeting Room A
Friday, September 25, 2009
Sponsored by the Beltway Atheists,
Location: Private Residence, NW DC, followed by social event --
RSVP required
For more information on all speaking engagements, please contact
Shelley Mountjoy through shelley@.
AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights
for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the
total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First
Amendment public policy.)
Florida school officials in prayer case could get jail time
Two Florida school administrators were due to appear in federal
court Thursday to face contempt charges for saying a prayer at a
school luncheon. Rep. Mike McIntyre is one of three members of the
Congressional Prayer Caucus backing the school officials. Frank Lay,
principal of Pace High School in Pace, Florida, and school athletic
director Robert Freeman are accused of violating a consent decree
banning employees of Santa Rosa County schools from endorsing

Teen birth rates highest in most religious states: Link may be
due to communities frowning on contraception, researchers say
U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs
on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth, a
new study suggests. The relationship could be due to the fact that
communities with such religious beliefs (a literal interpretation of
the Bible, for instance) may frown upon contraception, researchers
say. If that same culture isn't successfully discouraging teen sex,
the pregnancy and birth rates rise.
Monkey Business: Creation Da Vinci Code star Paul Bettany is
overjoyed that he has the chance to play one of his personal heroes -
Charles Darwin. But, as Rob Driscoll discovers, he also had to face
some personal demons along the way .
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