A religious group in Humboldt County, California is initiating a new, pro-choice grassroots movement in support of abortion rights called “40 Days of Prayer Supporting Women Everywhere.” Clergy for Choice offers a message of support for women dealing with reproductive issues, including pregnancy. A 2-page, tri-fold brochure describing the effort (pdf) says, “We are religious leaders who value all human life. We trust you to decide about your sexuality & planning your family. Humboldt County Clergy are available to talk with you about the spiritual aspects of sexuality and reproductive choice.” The back of the brochure lists daily prayers supporters are urged to make on each of the 40 days, like: Day 1: “Today we pray for women for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices,” Day 11: “Today we pray for better access to all forms a birth control.” Day 22: “Today we pray for women in developing nations, that they may know the power of self-determination. May they have access to employment, education, birth control and abortion.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is running a television ad promoting the separation of church and state, the first such ad of its kind to be shown on major television. The ad is running on NBC’s Sunday “Meet the Press” show and all this week on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9-10 p.m., Eastern Central. FFRF’s ad played twice on the Monday “Rachel Maddow Show.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation works to promote the constitutional principle of separation between church and state and educate the public about non-theism. The Foundation has over 17,000 members. Since 1978, the Foundation has acted on countless violations of the separation of state and church, and has won many significant victories, including lawsuits to end state/church entanglements.
Previously-secret internal documents released during the course of a lawsuit in Maine reveal the National Organization for Marriage had a PR strategy to turn blacks against gays in an effort to stir up opposition to gay marriage. NOM, a right-wing, anti-gay group founded in 2007 to fight efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, works to defeat marriage equality laws in states where they are advancing.
A confidential 2008-2009 report to NOM’s Board of Directors states,
“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots…Find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally…”
Lifting directly from the tobacco industry strategy, one NOM’s document states (on page 23) “Identify and nurture a worldwide community of highly credentialed intellectuals and professional scholars, physicians, psychiatrists, social workers and writers to credential our concerns and to interrupt the silencing that takes place…around gay marriage and related family matters… Expert Witness Project 2010 Budget: $50,000.”
NOM released a statement defending its strategies of pitting minorities against each other, saying “Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”
Main Source: Human Rights Campaign, March 26, 2012
Even some Coloradans who lack the sports gene are relieved to hear that the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning as their new star quarterback. This could mean Tim Tebow is on his way out. For people who aren’t fans of overt proselytizing — whether they follow football or not — that is a good thing.
Religiosity is doubtless important to lots of football stars. That’s fine, but none of them have ever promoted their religion as overtly as Tebow. While in college, Tebow literally shoved his religion into viewers’ faces by writing Bible verse references in the black spots painted under his eyes, a practice that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) then had to ban, in a rule dubbed “the Tebow rule.” In 2010, he pushed his luck further, appearing in a $2.5 million anti-abortion ad that aired during the Super Bowl, paid for by Focus on the Family.
Then there was “Tebowing,” his trademark prayer-bow, which he was always careful to do in front of the crowds that came to watch the games. He tried to portray this as a humble act, but had he really been humble, he could just have easily dropped to his knee in prayer in the locker room before he went out in front of the crowds. Instead he exploited the opportunity to show everyone what a super-religious guy he is. Tebow even told one reporter that he considered his rise to fame a “great opportunity to get a public platform” for his public prayer. Indeed, some news reporters labeled him a football “phenomenon,” and then spoke more about his public prayer than how well he played.
Tebow’s overt hyper-religiosity also sometimes drew ridicule to both him and the Broncos. In October, 2011, Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tullock knelt in mock-prayer after sacking Tebow in a game where the Lions trounced the Broncos 45-10. Saturday Night Live even did a skit ridiculing Tebow. In it, Jesus appears in the Denver Broncos’ locker room to have a talk with the team. Jesus says he can’t always be there to rescue to the team in the fourth quarter, and says he needs their help. He tells Tebow, “I could throw better, and I’m 2,010 years old!” He says the team “should be thanking your kicker…Matt Prader.” Jesus then turns to Prader and says, “I pray to you, brother.” Prader replies, “Wow, I didn’t know you prayed to me!” Jesus then looks directly at Tebow and says “That’s because I’m not in everyone’s face about it.”
When we ask evangelical Christians to please not foist their religion on others, they complain they are the victims of a “war on Christianity.” What they don’t get is that when Americans who belong to different religions — or no religion — have messages promoting Christianity foisted on them in public venues like shopping malls, sporting venues or in legislative hearing rooms, it starts to feel like the war is on them, for believing in something other than Christianity. It’s a turn-off, and so, for many people, was Tebow’s public religious behavior.
Tim Tebow deserves credit for avoiding harmful behaviors that so often turn pro-football players into front page news, like drinking, dog-fighting and domestic violence. But Tebow turned himself into front-page news for other reasons which not everyone view as positive. His penchant for using his fame to blatantly promote his Christianity no doubt made some football fans, and maybe even his bosses, uncomfortable. After all, it’s a simple concept to grasp that people go to football games to have fun and not to get preached to. For that, there’s church.
So now we get to say with great relief, “Goodbye, Tim Tebow, and the best of luck to you.” Maybe if you’re lucky the Church will start a football team someday. Now wouldn’t THAT be perfect.
A national poll conducted for Bloomberg News found that Republican candidates have wandered way off base in their recent public discussions of contraception. When asked “Do you believe birth control should or should not be part of the national political debate?,” a whopping 77 percent of respondents said the topic has no place in the political debate. The most important issues to respondents were unemployment (42 percent), the federal deficit (21 percent), gas prices (11 percent) and health care (10 percent). When asked whether the debate about insurance plans covering birth control was one of religious liberty or whether it was a matter of a woman’s health and access to birth control, 62 percent said it was a matter of a woman’s health and access to birth control. A majority of respondents would prefer religion not even be a major factor for the country’s leader. When asked to what extent a president’s religious beliefs should influence his federal policy decisions, 58 percent answered “Never.” A significant portion of respondents — 16 percent — said they did not identify with any organized religion at all. On another current topic, fully 53 percent thought Rush Limbaugh should lose his radio show based solely on his comments towards Sandra Fluke, the law school student who testified before Senate Democrats about access to birth control at religious universities. The poll was conducted by Selzer and Company, Inc., of Des Moines, Iowa and was based on interviews with 1,002 U.S. adults age 18 or older. Respondents were called on randomly-selected landline and cell phone numbers. It was conducted March 8-11, 2011. The entire original Bloomberg Poll results can be accessed here (pdf).
For Immediate Release – Monday, February 27, 2012
Contacts: Anne Landman, Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (970) 216-9842 or
Joel Prudhomme, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, (970) 250-5413
Noted Sociology Professor to Discuss his Book, “Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion”
Dr. Phil Zuckerman will speak in Grand Junction, Colorado on Saturday, March 24 at 1:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Grand Valley at 1022 Grand Avenue, Grand Junction. Refreshments will be served and there will be a book signing afterwards.
Dr. Zuckerman, a professor at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, will talk about the recent increase of secularity in America and some of the reasons for this increase. He will explain why individuals are leaving religion in greater numbers than ever before.
Dr. Zuckerman teaches the Sociology of Religion, Sociology Through Film and Scandinavian Cultures and Societies, among other topics. He has authored two other books and numerous articles on religion and society. His special are of interest is Scandinavian culture, known for its secular leanings.
The talk is FREE, open to the public, and is jointly sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers. Everyone is welcome, as this topic is certain to be of interest to religious and secular audiences alike.
While admission is free, tax deductible donations to WCAF are encouraged.
For more information call Anne Landman at (970) 216-9842.