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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trends in Idiocy

No, I'm not talking about the Bush Administration. I'm talking about the Roman Catholic Church.

I have to say from the beginning, I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Catholic Church. I also have to say that the members of that church have every right to make decisions through whatever means the church provides. It's their right. They can be stupid if they want to do so.

As a person who watches the junction of politics and religion with interest, though, I've noticed a trend that gives me pause and a little cause for concern. If it remains entirely within the Catholic church, then it is of no consequence to anyone but fellow Catholics. The tendency of all religions to reach out into the political arena, however, makes me take notice of stories like this one:

A Roman Catholic school is canceling a fashion show by the manufacturer of American Girl dolls and books amid conservative groups' criticism of a girls organization that receives support from the company.


What organization could this be? What company could be so horrible?


Two national groups — the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. — have raised questions about the American Girl brand and its parent company, Mattel Inc., because of the company's fund-raising for Girls Inc., formerly known as Girls Clubs of America.


Yes, Mattel - that evil company that brought you such wicked games as Barbie, Hot Wheels, the Magic Eight Ball (obviously wiccan), and Scrabble is now guilty of giving money to an organization that used to be called "Girls Clubs of America" but is now called "Girls, Inc.". In case you didn't know it, Girls' Clubs Girls, Inc. is a lesbian factory where little girls are schooled in how to get an abortion (although why lesbians would need to seek an abortion is not exactly clear).

What does Girls, Inc. really teach?


Grounded in research and tested in the field, Girls Inc. programs address the whole girl. They build her athletic skills and competitive spirit, nurture her ability and interest in science, math and technology, equip her with critical health and sexuality information, provide her leadership experience, teach her media literacy and money management skills, and foster her self-respect and self-determination. Programs such as Girls Inc. Operation SMART®, Girls Inc. Discovery Leadership®, and Girls Inc. Sporting Chance® help girls understand who they are and acquire the skills and knowledge needed to make smart, informed decisions about their lives.


But wait, there's more!


In addition, since 1992 Girls Inc. has provided over $1.8 million in college scholarships to girls who have become leaders in all walks of life and has played a crucial role in advancing girls' rights through supporting legislation such as Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act.


Ok, there is always more to a story than meets the eye - but unless the scholarships are used for such things as "Abortion 101" or "How to Make Out with Your Best Friend", then it's clearly a distortion that Girls, Inc. is support either one.

Here's an explanation of Girls, Inc.'s Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program (which starts off explaining that one out of three ninth-grade girls has already had sex once - so don't talk to me about reaching them with abstinence only programs):
The Growing Together program for girls 9-11:

topics include parents being the primary sexuality educators; changes during puberty; anatomy, physiology and hygiene; adolescent sexual development and feelings; and values and expectations for teen sexual behavior.

The Will Power/Won't Power program for girls 12-14:

nteractive sessions center on values; relationships; the reproductive system and female health and hygiene; separating sexual myths from reality; assertiveness and communication skills; identifying and resisting sexual pressures from the media and peers; sexual decision-making and avoiding risky situations; the positive aspects of abstinence, and the power of a positive-sister support system.

The Taking Care of Business program for girls 15-18:

values as a basis for positive decision-making; assertiveness, refusal and relationship skills; avoiding risky behavior, pregnancy, STDs and HIV through abstinence and smart choices; the facts on contraception and protection; and communication and success skills to achieve career goals.

and the Health Bridge program:

Health Bridge is a health-care delivery model linking girls to community health- care professionals and services—to turn information into action. Centering on the “whole girl,” it is also an essential resource for girls who choose to be sexually active to have access to necessary reproductive health, testing, and contraception services.

Other programs teach girls self-defense and to report violence against them regardless of the source, how to utilizes an athletic lifestyle to help manage weight and balance health concerns, teaching economic self-reliance, learning to be a community leader, anti-drug and alcohol programs, and boosting skills in academic areas. Did I miss something? Are lesbians somehow secretly science and mathematic whizzes who never use drugs, exercise a lot, balance their checkbooks, are looked up to by their community, and know how to fight off a rapist? If so, I know several hundred parent who might start praying that their girls become lesbians!

How misplaced is the Christian Right in this instance? Think Christopher Columbus aiming for India and hitting the Domincan Republic, as this editorial makes clear:

American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., is donating proceeds from the sale of an "I Can" wristband to Girls Inc., a national nonprofit foundation, which provides educational programs for girls. This money will aid three specific programs run by Girls Inc. nationwide: developing girls' abilities in science and math, encouraging girls' leadership skills and promoting participation in team athletics.


So, how does the Christian Right (which is neither) get to this position? Read this statement by Donald E. Wildmon of the American Family Association:

The problem here is that Girls Inc. has on their webpage a statement saying they particularly support abortion and a girl's right to abort an unwanted baby. They were quite clear about their support for Roe, so there is no mistake or room for confusion on that count. Additionally, Girls Inc. supports contraceptives for girls.

They also support and offer resources encouraging lesbian and bi-sexual lifestyles, actually offering resources for girls. One of their publications states, "The emergence of a lesbian identity is an ongoing process, rather than an event."


Actually, there is no statement on Girls, Inc. that states they support Roe. Maybe there was at one time, I don't know. Believe it or not, I don't keep track of such things. Nor do they encourage lesbian activities - they are very carefully neutral and refer girls to outside agencies. From a psychological perspective, all sexual and gender identities are an ongoing process.

This is actually a group that is so far into right wing-nut territory that the Pope looks like a pansy. This group also opposed Ford Motor Company for advertising to homosexuals (presumably, a gay man would be straight if he walked or drove a Chevy?), they boycotted the Walt Disney Company, Proctor and Gamble, Movie Gallery, Volkswagon, KMart, anyone who advertises on MTV, Kum and Go Convenience Stores, Yahoo, 7-Up and Dr. Pepper, the Salvation Army, and promoted Wal-Mart over Target (because Wal-Mart is going broke, you know...). (Thanks to Morons.org for the database.)

Again, as long as this group is simply exercising it's Constitution right to speak, and its members are free to go along or not as they feel inclined, I have no problem with them making themselves look stupid - other than the fact that these idiots then become the public face of my faith. However, it is clear that what is really underway is an attempt to turn back the clock on equal rights for all Americans by using faith as a shield in one hand (don't attack me because of my faith!) while using it as a weapon in the other (my faith teaches me it is wrong!). Where I come from, that's called hypocrisy, and Jesus had a few words for those who practice it.

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