No one is obligated to forgive

I’m a “mutually assured destruction” kind of gal. Christians had whole centuries in Europe to put their “turn the other cheek” philosophy into practice… we now call that period the Dark Ages for a reason. It don’t work. Convincing your many enemies that it costs more to hurt you than they’ll get out of it, however, appeals to even the ethically bankrupt, because it appeals to that unceasing selfishness they possess. Given that it is often the unceasingly selfish who gain power, this seems to me a smarter strategy than blanket forgiveness, which tells the abuser that they have permission to abuse again.

When my brothers and I fought, growing up, we were immediately halted and told to apologize.

“Say you’re sorry,” my dad would command, towering over us, brows furrowed.

I’d purse my lips and ball my fists before hissing a “sorry” between clenched teeth.

“Now, hug. Say ‘I forgive you,’ and tell each other ‘I love you,’” my dad would say next.

We did — and then stormed off to other rooms to avoid getting ourselves grounded in a moment of untempered rage.

The same scenario played out in my religious teachings for years. After all, my family and my preachers told me, Christianity itself exists because Jesus forgave our sin-riddled selves, so much that he died for us.

The sacrificial lamb metaphor was never one I completely grasped growing up, though. It never quite made sense to me that some oppressive leaders slaughtered the human embodiment of my religion’s deity because I was going to someday be born, bully my little brother, and go to hell for it. And every time I asked how that sacrifice worked logistically, I was given dismissive answers or elusive explanations with too many contemporary Christian buzzwords like “covenant” and “unconditional.” An English degree later, and I still don’t quite get it.

It’s with this same convoluted understanding that, as an adult atheist who must respect her family’s religious views in order to maintain healthy relationships with them, I’ve been forced to ask a question that Junior Asparagus never posed: If Christians are supposed to forgive every enemy, every single time, does that still apply when forgiveness could cause more harm than good?

I ain’t buyin’ it.

-Shiv

 

Evangelicals patronizing Planned Parenthood

The anecdote about an abortion protester one day making an appointment in the clinic they demonize was always just that to me–an anecdote, something plausible given the religious right’s penchant for hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance but something also unconfirmed.

Only now, MarieClaire has data.

Data doesn’t exist on just how many women who were raised in this faith actually patronize Planned Parenthood in private, which is a result of the very reason many of them go there: It provides anonymity. We do know that 13 percent of abortions conducted in this country are for women who identify as evangelical protestants, in addition to the 17 percent for more mainline protestants like Lutherans or Methodists, according to a 2014 study by the Guttmacher Institute. When you add in Catholics, that number rises to more than half.

I was raised in an evangelical culture myself and, while doing research for this story, I was taken aback by how often one Christian woman’s experience with Planned Parenthood led me to another’s, and another’s, and another’s. What I once believed was simply a handful of anecdotal instances became an undeniable trend, one that reached into many different backgrounds and beliefs. Some of the women in this article have left the faith in which they were raised, either altogether or adopted more progressive forms of it; others, like Elizabeth, still identify as evangelical Christian, a broad label that often indicates a born-again protestant who adheres to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. Some of the women are from cities, others small towns. The common thread that runs through all their stories: Visiting Planned Parenthood was a risk—but one worth taking.

“It’s a very difficult thing for them,” says Lachina, the Planned Parenthood chaplain, who echoes the fact that secrecy is critical for the young Christian women who visit clinics. “They certainly don’t want their parents to know that they’re going to a Planned Parenthood facility,” he says. “They want to be anonymous.”

More valuable than even anonymity, Planned Parenthood provides religious women with honest medical information they likely aren’t getting anywhere else: Research published in 2012 in the Journal of Women’s Health found that weekly church attendance made women half as likely to be receiving any sexual or reproductive health services.

“They gave me an exam and birth control to help with my menstrual cycles, because they said my cycle might be causing problems with my cyst,” Elizabeth says of her first Planned Parenthood appointment. “It was an education.”

Still, the pressure of the community is hard to shake. Evangelical culture tends to be intentionally exclusionary, creating a sense of us-versus-them, and these women had engaged with what they were taught was the very worst of “them.”

Rachel*, a pastor’s wife, felt that pressure fiercely. “I grew up in a strict religious community. Planned Parenthood was the devil,” Rachel says. “Our church talked about Planned Parenthood as a gas chamber and part of the new Holocaust.”

If you think you can stomach the finer points of Evangelical propaganda, read more here.

-Shiv

Glenn T. Stanton didn’t read That Fucking Swedish Study either

It’s back! I said I was serious when I said I could predict which doctors transantagonists would quote (or in the case of Cecilia Dhejne, misquote).

Me on November 14th, 2016: Five years later and they still haven’t read That Fucking Swedish Study.

Error #1: The study found that gender affirmation increased/didn’t reduce rates of suicide, therefore gender affirmation is ineffective/harmful.

The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8–4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8–62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9–8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0–3.9).

“For controls of the same birth sex” ought to be printed on a giant neon billboard, as that unfathomably important comparison is lost in this error.

In other words, this only supports that trans people, even if they access gender affirmative care, are a higher risk of suicide than cisgender controls. Indeed, the study itself points out that it is not a comparison between trans folk who have and haven’t received affirmation care:

It is therefore important to note that the current study is only informative with respect to transsexual persons health after sex reassignment; no inferences can be drawn as to the effectiveness of sex reassignment as a treatment for transsexualism. In other words, the results should not be interpreted such as sex reassignment per se increases morbidity and mortality. Things might have been even worse without sex reassignment. As an analogy, similar studies have found increased somatic morbidity, suicide rate, and overall mortality for patients treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This is important information, but it does not follow that mood stabilizing treatment or antipsychotic treatment is the culprit.

IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE STUDY. AND PEOPLE STILL THINK THIS STUDY SUPPORTS THEIR CONCLUSION THAT GENDER AFFIRMATION IS HARMFUL OR INEFFECTIVE. A;RKEHAEKTH;ALJET;LJ

That’s it. There isn’t some elaborate maze to guide you through, a slog of logical fallacies to hack apart as if their argument were the untamed wilds of an inner Brazilian jungle. They. Literally. Didn’t. Finish. Reading. The. Paper.

Glenn T. Stanton on April 4th, 2017:

A 2011 Swedish study, a long-term follow-up of men and women who underwent gender reassignment surgery, indicates that cutting bodies and administering hormonal treatments are not as ameliorative as many think.

Me on March 11th, 2017:

[Read more…]

North Carolinian Republicans: Haha, jk, we weren’t repealing HB2

Covering this presents a challenge, dear readers, because I cannot possibly scrape deep enough into the lexicon of my loathing to adequately capture my response. If you could connect to my brain directly, it would simply be white hot pain manifesting behind your eyeballs with a backdrop of millions of fingernails dragged across millions of blackboards amplified through a megaphone.

What makes this different is that it isn’t merely the standard legislative process being used to beat queer and trans people into oblivion. This is a special kind of psychopathy, the kind that could only be treated with the judicious application of an aluminum baseball bat.

To recap, Governor Roy Cooper campaigned on a promise to repeal HB2, citing the law’s punitive nature against trans folk simply for existing as well as the implications for discrimination against cisgender gay folks. Despite the fact that North Carolina seems to have voted for Cooper at least in part on his promise to do this (despite the dirty dealing and breathless histrionics we could only expect of a party so unprincipled they couldn’t find the backbone to do anything about Cheetolini), North Carolinian Republicans have decided that they know better than their own electorate.

In an apparent deal to see HB2 repealed, Cooper coordinated with the city Charlotte to see its nondiscrimination ordinances, which included protections for trans folk, repealed. Shortly after Charlotte foolishly expected honour from the same party that just foisted a god damn serial rapist into the White House, a special session was called to repeal HB2.

Except that HB2 wasn’t fucking repealed. 

The bill they’ve filed (SB4) does repeal HB2, including its restrictions mandating what bathrooms transgender people may use. However, it also creates a “Six-Month Cooling-Off Period,” in which no municipality in the state may pass any laws related to employment or public accommodations, specifically noting “access to restrooms, showers, or changing facilities.”

Meaning even if HB2 is finally put to death like the savage fucking mistake that it is, its consequences would persist for another six months. Then, North Carolinian Democrats, having said “wait a second, that’s not part of the deal,” torpedoed SB4. Meaning HB2 is still alive, if in spastic death throes.

Then these same fucking twits tried to set up Cooper for not adhering to his campaign promises!

So twice before the election Roy Cooper kills a repeal/Repeal Deal. Now after being against a repeal deal, after the election he was for it. Now he is against it again because the repeal simply has teeth, to make sure our “long national Nightmare is over.”

It is clear Coopers only motivation here is political, first last and always. And the people of North Carolina who support repeal should know Cooper sold them down the river with a wink and a nod, to radical leftists who were waiting for the repeal and start this destructive fight all over.

YOU CHRONICALLY DISHONEST SACK OF SHIT. COOPER SUPPORTED A FULL REPEAL, NOT THE BULLSHIT YOU’RE TRYING TO PULL NOW.

It gets better.

The Senate–holy fuck, don’t you love the Senate?–proposed an amendment to the bill that would EXTEND the motherfucking moratorium until the end of 2017.

I’m a writer, and I don’t have words. I would not permit these Republicans to lick the mud off my boots. Duplicitous, cowardly sacks of shit who have no qualms turning queer and trans people into political football for your asinine political fucking theatre. Fuck. Every. Single. One of you.

It’s time the football kicked back.

-Shiv

This post also appears on Modern Liberals.

Private Christian school caught cooking its books

Albertan Christian thought leaders love to moralize about the dangers of the NDP’s “greed” or the risks of acknowledging Queer humanity. But, as it turns out, Albertan Christian thought leaders are willing to make exceptions for themselves when it comes to piss poor behaviour. I’ll pre-emptively dial the ambulance for you, as I’m sure you’ve been struck dead in shock by this news: Trinity Christian has been cooking its books, engaging in nepotism, and misappropriating public funds.

Eggen said the decision follows a recent three-year audit into the association that found numerous spending irregularities.

He said Trinity receives $5.5 million in public money a year, and that much of it was redirected to the Wisdom Home Schooling Society.

The report alleged conflict of interest in lease and contract deals along with public money being spent to cover off ineligible expenses like babysitting and funeral expenses. There was also double-dipping on mileage.

Public funds were spent on food, alcohol, gifts, gift cards, groceries, theatre tickets and other staff functions, said the report.

The report stated Wisdom has retained $988,000 in unclaimed parent funding over the past three years.

“Trinity and Wisdom spent approximately 32 per cent of expenses on payments for staff and administration compared to a 3.4 to 5.6 per cent range in public boards,” said the report.

Ah yes, must be some of that world leading education Jason Kenney keeps talking about.

Meanwhile the conservative Christians in this province will carry on bleating about the supposed corruption of the NDP whilst turning a blind eye to the owners of Trinity who just fleeced 3,500 Albertan kids.

-Shiv

Open letter to Alberta, on fundagelicals

Inspired by the recent announcement of a Baptist school board in which they stated they would refuse to affirm Queer students, an Albertan penned an anonymous open letter about her experiences with publicly funded Christian schooling in the province:

This morning I woke up and read the most unsurprising news of my life. In a world where water is wet and blue mixed with red makes purple, the chair of two Christian schools announced that they would not comply with guidelines designed to protect the human rights and dignity of LGBTQA2S+ students. The only thing shocking to me about this news is that it took until the thirtieth of August for media to hear about it, because in the world that I grew up in, this one is just a no-brainer.

I was raised in a lifestyle that I like to refer to as “fundagelical”: fundamentalist evangelical. The intricate subtleties of fundagelical culture would fill tomes, and we just don’t have that kind of time here. What I do have time to tell you is this: fundagelicals speak a different language than everyone else. The reason you’ve never noticed this is because this language is entirely comprised of words that also exist in English. So when I say something like, “I want what’s best for my children”, what I mean is exactly what you think I mean, that my intentions and actions are guided by a desire to see my children benefit from having their emotional, mental, and physical well being prioritized. When a fundagelical says, “I want what’s best for my children”, they mean something slightly different.

You see, in their culture “what’s best for children” can be summed up this way: to be raised in, devoted to, and reflective of the glory of their god, and eventually saved by his grace in order to enter the kingdom of heaven; henceforth referred to as “The Prime Directive”. Now, just to clarify, I am not suggesting that fundagelical parents do not care about the physical, emotional, and mental health of their children. What I am saying is that those things don’t fall under the category of what they mean when they say “what is best for my children”. The bottom line is that, given a conflict between those things and the Prime Directive, the Prime Directive will win. Almost every time. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and check out the mission statements on one of the aforementioned schools, and the one I attended as a child:

http://www.meadowsbaptist.ca/#!about-us/c1se

http://rockychristian.wrsd.ca/

When I was five years old, my mother helped me pack a lunch and drove me to my first day of Kindergarten. I remember the blocks stacked against the wall by the entrance and the circle corner on the opposite side of the room. I remember my teacher Miss P. (that’s a whole other letter). We prayed to start the day. We heard Bible stories and memorized Bible verses. We prayed to end the day. None of this was odd to me; I grew up in this culture after all. In truth, I can’t recall when it was I finally figured out that our school wasn’t like other schools. Maybe around grade five is when we started whispering behind our hands to each other about the other kids on our busses who had to go to schools where they learnedEvolution. What was Evolution? The EVIL idea that we all came from monkeys. We all knew this was ridiculous of course. Anyone with half a brain knew that God made man from dirt and woman from his rib.

It’s hard to recall, exactly, when I first heard about gay people (that’s when boys marry boys and girls marry girls). “Ewwwwwwww” we all said, as if we actually understood why the adults around us would find it gross. Transgender people were not even on our radar, although to this day, I am convinced there was at least one very close in age to me. Occasionally, I’ll think of them, and hope so fervently that they made it.

I’m a little ways into adulthood now. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that I truly do not understand the scope of my own lack of knowledge. But I’d like to think that I’ve gained a relatively good perspective about my time spent in fundagelical culture. After all, few things are more humbling than realizing that you’re wrong about almost everything.

Looking back on myself as a young teenager, I’ve no doubt I was an unpleasant one. A strong, stubborn personality combined with a childhood focused on holiness instead of personal development, topped off with an environment steeped in authoritarianism and indoctrination. Mix all that up with the raging hormones of puberty and the fact I’d been surrounded by the same thirty odd peers for eight years, it’s no surprise I was friendless at school. And believe me when I tell you, in an institution like that, there is no better target than the smart-mouthed loner. When the other students don’t like you and the teachers think you need to be put in your place, the only place you can turn is your parents……except when you can’t………because……..Prime Directive.

If you hadn’t told me this person was real, I’d say you were reading off a Lovecraftian horror novel.

Read the rest here.

-Shiv