(Part 1 is here.)
[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]
Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while Dr. Coyne communicates some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.
When we left off things were going so well! Coyne had just announced he was at the end of his presentation, in which he had made a compelling case for universal healthcare and economic equality as the means to eradicate religion (whereas I view these things as ends in themselves, with the diminishment of religion—and likely conservatism as well—as additional benefits that would support a virtuous cycle). But then, right after the last section I transcribed, at 1:09:50 he goes on to say this:
Oh, I want to say one more thing and then give you a nice quote here. WE WON. Okay, religion is on the back foot, creationism is no longer an acceptable thing to believe in American public schools, religions cannot impose their will, at least in Western societies, and so it’s just a matter of waiting. It’s not going to happen in our lifetime, but our grandchildren are going to see a far more secular world, and that means a world in which evolution is appreciated far more than it is now.
What kind of bubble do you have to live in to seriously claim that “religions cannot impose their will” in Western societies—namely, the US? I’ll tell you what kind of bubble: an economically secure, able, white, male privilege bubble so opaque you can barely make out the dim likeness of Jerry Coyne inside of it.
Let us count the ways, shall we?
- Religious exemptions for withholding medical treatment from children. These nifty get-out-of-jail-free cards run the gamut from your basic thwarting Child Protective Services from investigating to felony neglect and endangerment, all the way up to negligent homicide, manslaughter and capital murder.
- Religious education. It starts in infancy. Unlike their secular counterparts, religious day cares in many parts of the country operate with little to no regulation, and with predictably tragic results (TW: child abuse, neglect and death). The religious day care exemption trend is increasing, particularly in swaths of the country where churches preach the gospel against government interference. In Alabama and Indiana, for instance, nearly half of all day care centers have a religious exemption. (Strangely, they’re not adverse to government funding, to the tune of hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies. This must be some of that “sophisticated theology” I’ve heard about, but am obviously too unsophisticated to understand.) In grades K-12, religious schools are exempt from all sorts of regulations from the mundane to the wildly outrageous. And don’t get me started on religious homeschooling—a trend that is also increasing, even it’s no longer acceptable to teach creationism in public schools. As a bonus, corporal punishment at home or in schools—including public schools, where black children with disabilities are disproportionately affected—is justified almost exclusively by religion, despite the fact that the jury’s in on the harms it causes.
- Short statutes of limitations for child rape, courtesy of the Catholic Church. The church lobbies state governments to keep these statutes unconscionably short in order to protect church predators and those who systematically enable and cover up sexual abuse, thereby protecting its massive financial empire. Meanwhile victims, many of whom suffer for an entire lifetime from the trauma or opt instead for an early exit (TW: suicide), will see no justice in criminal courts. If that is not a religion imposing its will, then nothing is.
But enough about raping, beating, neglecting and killing children with impunity because of religion. Not that Jerry Coyne has noticed, but religions also routinely impose their will on women.
- Catholic hospitals refusing treatment. Life threatening ectopic pregnancies are left to fester until women get close to dying. Women who are miscarrying have to risk infection, excessive bleeding and death, rather than receive an emergency abortion. (One doctor said “We often tell patients that we can’t do anything in the hospital but watch you get infected.”) All forms of birth control including tubal ligations are banned, even in cases where a pregnancy would prove fatal; rape victims are denied emergency contraception. Infertility treatments are banned. Patients’ living will requests to be taken off of life support are ignored. Oh, and here’s a real doozy: “many states allow religious hospitals to discriminate against gays and lesbians, both as employees and as patients.” And it’s only getting worse, affecting more and more people:
Between 2001 and 2011, the number of American hospitals affiliated with the Catholic Church grew 16 percent, even as the number of public hospitals and secular nonprofit hospitals dropped 31 percent and 12 percent, respectively, according to an upcoming report by the American Civil Liberties Union and MergerWatch, a nonprofit that tracks religious health care mergers… Ten of the 25 largest nonprofit hospital systems in the country are Catholic, and Catholic hospitals care for 1 in 6 American patients. In at least eight states, 30 percent or more of patient admissions are at Catholic facilities.
[See also: Ireland.]
- Pharmacy conscience laws. Sanctimonious panty sniffers can refuse to fill prescriptions they don’t personally approve of. Guess who is affected, almost exclusively? Women.
- Taxpayer funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). While budgets for reproductive healthcare are slashed mercilessly, governments (state and federal) lavishly fund fake clinics to deliberately deceive, defraud and coerce women into continuing unwanted pregnancies for Jeezus. Nationwide, CPCs outnumber abortion clinics roughly five to one; in some places (like Texas) it’s eight to one.
- Increased abortion restrictions. Don’t kid yourself: Forced Birthers are mainly religiously motivated; non-religious Forced Birthers (like these assholes) are in the minority. TRAP laws, biased counseling requirements and mandatory delays, forced ultrasounds and other legislative initiatives increase costs, reduce access and shutter clinics. Women, especially poor women of color, are already paying dearly.
- Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. It was less than two years ago that the US Supreme Court decreed that not only are corporations people, they can be religious people, who are entitled to impose their factually wrong, retrograde, explicitly Christian views about birth control on their female employees—and only their female employees. Because RELIGIOUS FREEDOM™.
Of course Jerry Coyne is not a kid dying needlessly from a treatable illness, denied a decent education, routinely assaulted for existing while black and disabled, nor in all likelihood was he ever raped as a child by a priest. He will never find himself in a hospital waiting around for treatment until he’s been declared close enough to dying to deserve medical intervention, or outright denied any treatment at all because he looks like a lesbian. I highly doubt he’ll ever have to jump through extra hoops to avoid reproducing, just because his employers happen to be Christian assholes. He’ll never have to drive around to different pharmacies hoping to find someone to fill his prescription, let alone travel for hours multiple times (or to another country altogether) to access a time-sensitive medical procedure. Needless to say, he will never need to resort to performing medical and surgical procedures on himself, and his doctors will never be required by the state to lie to him, subject him unnecessary medical “tests”, or put him in time out like a child for a day (or three) before allowing him to access the medical care he is seeking. And his tax dollars aren’t being used to coerce, defraud and force him into giving birth against his wishes.
Religions impose their will all the fucking time—just not on Jerry Coyne.
- $83.5 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies to religion. That’s a very conservative estimate, by the way; for example, that number does not include local tax exemptions for income, sales or property. In New York City alone, local income tax ranges from 2.907% to 3.876%, purchases above $110 are subject to a 4.5% local sales tax, and more than 9,500 churches, synagogues and mosques evade at least $626.9 million a year in property tax (that is a 2011 estimate—as real estate values have soared, so has that number). A lowball number for religious real estate holdings nationwide is $600 billion, and that figure doesn’t include properties that are not specifically houses of worship. Some religious organizations own what can only be described as massive real estate empires—off of the tax rolls.
- White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, created under Bush/Cheney—and expanded under Obama. The (alleged) purpose of giving churches billions in federal funding is to provide social services to the poor in their communities. The problems with this setup are legion and by all means Google them if you want, but here are three just off the top of my head. First, billions of our tax dollars are funding religious operations that restrict hiring to those of their particular faith—atheists and other believers need not apply. This is job discrimination on the taxpayer dime, plain and simple, and it is 100% legal. Second, unlike other nonprofits, religious charities are not required to disclose most of their financial information to the government, even though they may be the recipients of hundreds of millions in taxpayer money. Third and most damning (<—hahaha) is that charities, faith-based or otherwise, are less efficient, less effective and less capable of addressing poverty than government programs conservatives so despise.
This is hardly a complete list of religions imposing their will on US citizens; for example, I suspect a strong case can almost certainly be made that the recent spate of bathroom bills allegedly intended to protect cis people against the (nonexistent) dangers of peeing in proximity to trans people have their roots in conservative Christianity, as do “gay and trans panic” defenses to murder.
So I am not exactly holding my breath for the grand opening of the White House Office of Reality-Based Initiatives under the next president, no matter who it is. Because contra Coyne, religions imposing their wills in myriad ways on at least half of the US citizenry doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon—if anything, quite the opposite.
FUCK YOU, JERRY COYNE.
I’m presently deciding whether or not to do a Part 3. I transcribed for our infotainment another section from the Q&A, where Coyne says some more really cool stuff…and then goes into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pulls a Dear Muslima. It’s darkly comic, if you enjoy mocking and snorting derisively at that sort of thing (I know I sure do!), and frankly this shit’s so easy to debunk. And it ought to be debunked and/or mocked every time it rears its irrational little head. (I am envisioning Whack-a-Mole, but with squirrels. Or possibly, douchebro atheists.) Unfortunately, it does not appear that anyone else is stepping up to do it with this lecture. Thus are the heavy burdens of Your Humble Correspondent™.
Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ says
Well done, your Majesty.
Can I request the part 3? I always like seeing mansplainers snarked at. I’d do it myself, but I do not have a natural snark talent like you do. Someday I need to take snark classes from you…
chigau (違う) says
Where is the emoticon for
chigau (違う) says
I’ve stopped reading your post at this point to comment on this bit, bc HOLY FUCK, what do you call the efforts of the anti-abortion/forced birth movement?! Their opposition to abortion is almost wholly rooted in religion. And they’ve successful imposed their will on women of all backgrounds across the nation!!!
John Morales says
“religions cannot impose their will, at least in Western societies, and so it’s just a matter of waiting.”
when did ireland and germany stop being western societies…?
I mean… germany even has blue laws enshrined in their constitution. sunday is a constitutionally mandated rest-day, regardless of your actual religious beliefs…
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
It really shows your level of privilege when you want universal healthcare and income equality because it increases appreciation for evolution.
I don’t give half a fuck. Quantum physics are cool stuff, but I don’t need huge societal changes to increase fucking appreciation for it.
I want universal healthcare and income equality because people are miserable and dying without it. Decreased religiosity is a side benefit to those things, not the goal.
Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ 1 1:
Shhhh! There are, I suspect, a lot of anti-monarchists here. I don’t want to give away my plans for totalitarian dictatorship quite yet. IT WILL RUIN THE SURPRISE.
Yeah, I’ll do it. Just for you. :D
ONE. MIIIIILLLLLLLLIONNNN. DOLLARS.
moarscienceplz 3, chigau (違う) 4 & 5, John Morales 7:
Thank you. *blushes and runs away*
I hope you continued reading to see that you needn’t have—I got that shit covered—and also to see my nice manicure.
Ooh! Ooh! I think I know this one! Is it…when their Christianist laws didn’t affect Jerry Coyne personally?
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- 9:
I thought of that too, but I gave it a pass because this was a Darwin Day lecture so the focus on evolution seems entirely appropriate. Viewed through that lens, I’m glad he used the occasion to highlight the research on universal healthcare and income equality leading to less religiosity (which is the only reason I’m writing about this lecture in the first place). But I agree with you: as I said in the post, I view those things as ends in themselves that would support a virtuous cycle leading to less religiosity, less toxic conservatism, and in turn, even less misery and premature death.
I suspect what Coyne calls it is something that only directly affects women and is therefore not of any great importance.
I feel ambivalent about this one, myself. Yes, it is religiously based and inconvenient at times, but OTOH, it protects workers and, to some extent, small businesses, from pressure to work and stay open 7 days a week, regardless of what they want to or not. Surely there is a non-religion based way to get the same effect, though.
Hah! You’ll never win! I’ll fight you to the end of…Actually, if you promise to shave Trump’s head and post a picture of the result on the internet, I’ll support you for evil overlord of all humanity.
So, daring against my own mental health, I opted to follow your link to Pro-Life Humanists.
It was almost enough to make me want to believe in God again, just so I could condemn them to Hell. This paragraph from their page deserves special derision:
This is the kind of shit that being pro-life forces you to say. First off, we don’t just not force parents to donate an organ. We also don’t force them to give bone marrow, basic blood donations, or literally anything else to the well-being of a child. If a parent dies in a car crash, without an organ donor card, and their kid was in the backseat and now desperately needs a kidney, we won’t violate the dead parent’s wishes by taking their kidney to save their own child.
Yet these clueless assholes fail (or more accurately, refuse) completely to comprehend the basic facts of pregnancy–that it is, virtually by any definition of the word, a heroic act, in that it literally puts the life of the mother at risk, and puts long-term strains on her health regardless, ultimately expending years in the benefit of the soon-to-be infant. But they cannot acknowledge all that without also acknowledging the fundamental truth that you cannot mandate heroism. So they ignore it and pretend it’s not so.
This shit is why I’m going to my escort orientation session in two weeks, before I start doing greeting work at a clinic. Because fuck these lying shitlords.
It occurs to me that there is likely an underlying motive for the claim that religion can no longer impose its will in “western society” and the related implicit claim that western society is therefore now completely enlightened and rational: It allows people in “western society” to attack people in “Islamic” societies with less guilt. If “we” are entirely rational and enlightened, we should surely turn our attention to helping our less fortunate brothers and sisters become enlightened, right? If they don’t see it, we will just have to force them to. In their own best interests, of course. This results in everything from the headscarf ban in France to invading Iraq, all in the name of “liberating” people–especially women–from the evils of religion.
In short, it’s just another version of the white man’s burden.
I condemned them to my involuntary organ donation program. Close enough?
dianne 14: Excellent insight. It seems to spring from the same characteristic, banal narcissism conservatives display when they refuse to hold themselves accountable for their destructive and foolish policies (i.e. all of them). Since they can never, ever admit to causing harm or being wrong, these much-touted “Western societies” and “Western values” simply cannot be racist, sexist, violent, imperialist, irrational, unjust, genocidal, etc. No matter what the facts and evidence actually say.
It seems to me you are being unfair to him by drawing strong conclusions from his “we won” statement. He has extensively written about many of the examples you mention (e.g. religious exemptions, Catholic hospitals, etc etc). You’ll see this clearly if you peruse his posts at his blog under categories “Catholics behaving badly”, “abortion”, “Christians behaving badly”, “Republicans behaving badly”, “Muslims behaving badly”, “church-state separation”, “Jews behaving badly”, etc.
Claudio: At issue is the matter of urgency.
Sure, he acknowledges that there are regressive forces still at work in the U.S., but he regards their defeat as simply a matter of time and the march of history, and thus not anything to get worked up about.
This ignores the fact that so many people in the West are still being harmed by active religious forces. Sure, for middle-class+ white men who want to walk away from religion, it’s a pretty good time to be alive. Others, however, are still being coerced, and then suffering under the effects of that coercion.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Yeah, opening shops on Sunday would just switch worship to the Holy God Mammon
…as we watch the Donald kowtowing to the religious right to win political favor.
I’m with you… Wha?
will it be removed from his shoulders first?
otherwise, not interested. ;)
oh, and opinion poll:
Jerry Coyne: Squirrel?
Goodness no! That would be barbaric! But I’m not unreasonable and would propose the following compromise: Head, shoulders, and body will all have their assets confiscated and have to start over with nothing but a room in public housing and a minimum wage job. If Trump’s as good as he says, he’ll be a millionaire again in no time, right? And if he’s not, then he’s a lazy bum that deserves to be poor, so no harm done.
All according to Trump’s own philosophy, of course.