February 2003 Home
pdf version with all articles and charts)
Why Do Americans Hate Children?
Show me how you treat kids and I will tell you what you are
by Daniel C. Maguire
is a simple principle that can test the moral spirit of a people andtheir
government. Here it is: what is good for kids is good; what is bad
for kids is ungodly. Let's take that principle and look into the American
soul. I warn you in advance - the US doesn't get a passing grade.
My main guide here will be the recent blockbuster book by Participating
Scholar, Gloria Albrecht, Hitting Home: Feminist Ethics, Women's Work,
and The Betrayal of Family Values (Continuum, New York, 2002). Albrecht
makes it clear that our nation does not think that having babies is in
the national interest. (How could we miss this point? If we have no
babies, there is no tomorrow.) Since 1920, the number of women in
the work force rose from 21% to 60%. The economy is such that one earner
per family is not enough. More facts: 58% of women with a baby under one
year are in the labor force, as are 77% of mothers with kids under age
six. Only 23% stay at home. This means many children are latchkey kids,
unsupervised for many hours per week. Is that in the national interest?
In a United Nations survey of 152 countries, the US was one
of only six countries that does not have a national policy requiring
paid maternity leave.
Obviously, children need care, but the ruling assumption in this land
of ours is that if you have a baby, it's your problem. Childcare is looked
on as a consumer item. If you can afford it, great. If not, tough! 96%
of working parents pay the full cost of childcare. What government
help there is, is inadequate. Only 12% of employers provide childcare.
Of course, all this hits the poor the hardest. Low-income families who
pay for childcare spend 35% of their incomes on it, compared to 7% of
income spent by non-poor families.
Thus, in democratic America, the quality of childcare varies according
to class. Once society decides that childcare is a consumer item - and
not a basic human right that deserves national support - market logic
kicks in, and you only get what you pay for. Of course, and ironically,
according to classical economics, those who receive the benefits should
pay the costs. The benefits of healthy, well cared for, well-educated
children accrue to the nation, not just to their families. These children
are tomorrow's citizens.
Because they are the bearers of children, women are discriminated against
in the workplace. They are denied opportunities not just when they have
children, but by the very fact that they can have children.
Our attitude toward children also shows through in this telling statistic:
the median wage of childcare workers in 1997 was $7.03 per hour, three
cents less than that of parking lot attendants - and this pay is usually
without benefits. These workers could not afford childcare for themselves.
Obviously, caring for children is not work that we value.
Has anyone heard from the so-called "pro-life" people on any
of this? Could it be that their interest in life is short circuited by
Here is another look into the American heart. According to the Temporary
Aid to Needy Families program, caring for someone else's children is classified
as work; caring for your own is not!
As Albrecht says: "The United States lags behind all other industrialized
nations in addressing family/work concerns through public policies."
A White House report in December 2000 said, "States were able
to provide childcare assistance to only 12% of all federally eligible
low-income working families." Albrecht states the assumption
of US welfare "reform": "There is widespread social
agreement that economically poor mothers cannot, by definition, be good
mothers unless they work away from their homes and their children."
Poor parents can often not afford to work because of the cost of transportation,
clothing, and childcare needs at home. In a United Nations survey of 152
countries, the US was one of only six countries that does not have a national
policy requiring paid maternity leave.
Some 40 states are deeply in debt. They are shortening the school week
and cutting certain classes and programs. According to the New York
Times (January 12, 2003), 60% of Americans oppose raising taxes to
Meanwhile, the Bush administration is spending billions to ship soldiers
to the Middle East while the states back home starve and victimize kids.
So much for the hypocritical "leave no child behind" promise.
There are countries that do not hate their children. Albrecht:
"Many European countries already provide universal healthcare, childcare
paid parental and family leave, paid vacation time and unemployment
- Swedes currently are entitled to 18 months of paid leave with
job protection that can be prorated over the first 8 years of a child's
- France provides universal childcare to all toilet- trained
children. Single mothers receive government payments until their children
are over the age of 3.
- In Denmark, all children up to 18 years of age have access
to free dental care for both routine examinations and treatment.
- Europeans are guaranteed longer vacation times, 4-6 weeks,
protected by legislation.
Americans bask in a surreal self-image, seeing themselves as a "kind
and gentle" people. Most would be offended to read in Duane Elgin's
book, Promise Ahead, "The United States is the stingiest
developed nation in terms of the proportion of total wealth that it s."
We should not be surprised. If we can treat our kids the way we do, why
would we be generous to strangers?
By Daniel C. Maguire
Back to Top
Pro-life states are anti-children
Jean Schroedel, in new book, Is the Fetus a Person? A Comparison of
Policies in the Fifty States (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
2000), investigates individual state policies, shedding light on the relationship
between state laws regulating access to abortion and state spending to
An associate professor at Claremont Graduate University, Professor Schroedel
found that states with more restrictive abortion laws -
- Provide less funding for children.
- Spend less money on foster care and adoption assistance for special
- Provide lower welfare payments.
- On a per-child basis, spend less on all forms of assistance for poor
- Spend less perpupil on K-12 education.
In short, these facts support Representative Barney Frank's well-publicized
statement that legislators who would vote against abortion and against
any aid for children apparently believe that "life begins at conception
and ends at birth."
In addition, Professor Schroedel examines whether or not states with
more restrictive abortion laws also take other steps to protect and value
fetal life under other circumstances. She found that they do not.
Six of the states with the strongest anti-abortion laws prosecute women
for prenatal drug offenses, but do not consider the third-party killing
of a fetus a crime (i.e., beatings, knifings, shootings, etc.). Ironically,
however, states with far less restrictive abortion statutes criminalize
third-party fetal killing.
Professor Schroedel also turned her attention to the relationship between
state laws regulating access to abortion and the status of women. She
again found an inverse relationship between the two. In states with more
restrictive laws, women are relegated to lower economic, political, and
These last two points are revealing. They illustrate that the moral imperative
invoked by many anti-abortion activists is, in effect, baseless. The claim
that the fetus is a "person," fully deserving of protection
as a born human being, breaks down with the failure to criminalize third-party
killings. Add the current status of women in these states, and one is
encouraged to regard the moral imperative as a smokescreen, covering up
a broad-based attack on women.
Back to top
tactic is to block US abortions
v Wade may become a moot point and the Supreme Court irrelevant if doctors
are afraid to perform abortions because they fear being sued.
Last November, in Louisiana, the State Supreme Court let stand a law
that extends the statute of limitations for abortion-related injuries
to 10 years. The law also removes any cap that typically applies to other
kinds of malpractice suits.
Such threats may discourage doctors from performing abortions because
the financial risk is too great. It's a tactic that circumvents the moral
argument, and reduces the question to a financial one.
Back to top
Bring the message to Washington
Population Connections 7th Annual Capitol Hill Days
March 29-April 1, 2003,Washington,DC
Co-hosted by Population Connection, National Wildlife Federation, &
Bush administration is waging a war on the worlds women by denyingthem
access to a basic human right - the ability to plan the size and
spacing of their families. Fight the attack on international population
assistance by coming to Washington, DC, to be the voice for international
You Can Do
Come to Washington, DC, in March 2003 and tell Congress to stand against
the Presidents assault on family planning and reproductive rights.
Every year, activists send tens of thousands of letters to Washington.
we have to do more in order to reverse the Presidents attacks. Face-to-face
meetings with lawmakers let Congress know that there is a committed
constituency. Lets urge them to:
Repeal the Global Gag Rule
Increase funding for the International Family Planning Program
We have to stop these attacks, and the US Congress is the only place
where President Bushs onslaught can be fought. Congress has
the power to
overturn Bushs initiatives. However, your legislators need to hear
on these urgent issues.Your voice matters more than ever before! Let it
For a packet of information, including scholarship details, please e-mail
request to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 (800) POP-1956.
Highlights of the Bush Administrations record
January 2001 His second day in office, President Bush restricts
funding for international family planning by imposing the Global Gag Rule,
forcing many health care providers overseas to choose between providing
needed services and participating in their own countrys political
July 2002 The President further shocks the international
family planning community by withdrawing all $34 million of promised support
for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
December 2002 At a UN Conference on Population in Bangkok,
the Bush Administration attempts to single-handedly reverse a long-standing
international family planning declaration that protects women and families
around the world.
Will abortion-seekers need
By Felicia Dionisio
Assistant news editor with WorldNetDaily.com.
Taken from a December 9th email we received from WorldNetDaily.com
Georgia legislators introduced a bill in January 2003 that refers to
abortion as anexecution and will require any mother seeking
an abortion to go to court to obtain a death warrant.
A mother would have to argue why the child should die and why
her rights would take priority over the rights of the child,
said Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, who sponsored the legislation.
Once a mother filed for a death warrant, a guardian would be appointed
to protect the rights of the fetus. That guardian would be authorized
to demand a jury trial in which the rights of the fetus would be balanced
against the rights of the mother seeking to have the execution
Its a grotesque violation of a womans right to choose,
said Ebony Barley of the Georgia Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action
League. Think about the women in rural Georgia. Theyll be
required to talk about their personal health experiences in court. Its
the highest form of humiliation.
The court would be able to hold a trial within 30 days of the filing
of the petition, and a death warrant would be signed only if the court
finds that the rights of the person seeking to have the abortion are superior
to the right of the fetus to live. Either side could appeal.
Franklin told WorldNetDaily, Its an attempt to
restore the 14th Amendment due-process rights of the unborn. Its
a constitutional protection that we all have thats not being adhered
to when it comes to dealing with unborn children. The first thing we do
as state representatives is take an oath of office to support the constitutions
of the United States and the state of Georgia. Both ensure no person will
be deprived of life or liberty without due process.We just want to make
sure thats adhered to. Right now, the unborn child is losing his
or her life without a trial.
Critics disagree, describing the bill as the most extreme attempt
to overturn Roe v.Wade.
Franklins goal in introducing a bill that refers to abortion
as an execution is to open the floodgates to other anti-choice
legislation, Barley added. She said its no coincidence
the legislation is being introduced during the month that marks the 30th
anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalizes abortion.
The bill stipulates it will be automatically repealed the day after the
US Supreme Court overturns Roe v.Wade.
Its not outlawing abortion; its just recognizing
the child has rights, too, said Franklin.
The bill also mandates that no physician can perform an execution
in the state without first obtaining a death warrant. If a doctor performs
an abortion without a death warrant, he or she could be imprisoned
for up to five years and his or her medical license could be permanently
revoked. But, theres no penalty for women who have an abortion without
first obtaining a death warrant. Franklin, who has co-sponsored
other anti-abortion legislation in the past, said medical practitioners
have the most at stake because theyre the ones who would be performing
Franklin said he hopes the bill will make it out of committee and then
be called up for a vote by the whole House. Ultimately, he hopes lawmakers
in other states will be inspired by the concept of applying due-process
rights to the fetus and propose similar legislation.
Im an optimist. I think if people who claim they support
the concept of the Constitution and
those who claim to support
the sanctity of human life
really do, we have a good shot at passing
WorldNetDaily marked the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Courts
Roe v.Wade (Jan. 22, 1973) decision by dedicating the entire January
2003 edition of its acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine to
the subject of abortion.
© 2002 WorldNetDaily
Back to Top
Clergy find active role in
January 19, 2003, The Peoria Journal Star carried a story about
the Reverend Gene Mace, a United Methodist minister and retired hospital
chaplain, who, along with other clergy members favoring legalized abortion,
have begun to let their voices be heard. The clergy are speaking out after
spending most of the 30 years since Roe v. Wade in relative quiet.
They have watched as those opposed to abortion rights have "built,
built, built," Mace said. "They've built more power around
the whole issue than we have."
In reaction to all of this building, Mace helped to start the clergy
advisory board,an interfaith group affiliated with the local Planned Parenthood
chapter. The group has been active over the past several years. The board's
members have supported the organization, counseled Planned Parenthood
clients, brought in speakers for breakfasts and luncheons on the anniversary
of Roe v. Wade, and developed a sexual ethics statement.
Mace also works with Planned Parenthood nationally. "We're trying
to help them look at the impact of their ideas and that faith people aren't
totally against them but are helpers with them." Mace said that
local banquets try to show people that "we are not a bunch of
radical, free-love, no-morals people like the opposition would like to
portray us, but that we are people who are trying to be pastoral."
Says Mace, "Even though we don't really think it's a great thing
for people to have abortions, there are worse things than abortion."
Mace cites the young girl whose pregnancy impoverishes her life because
"she has to carry it through." For Mace, the question
centers on how the clergy can best help young women "have more life
out of whatever errors they make."
The interfaith board also promotes the use of contraception. Mace explains,
"What we're trying to do is get people to be responsible, prevent
pregnancies. I'd like to see kids not be sexually active. The problem
is, they've been that way for years and years, and we've stuck our head
in the sand, and we've done nothing other than try to teach them abstinence."
Joyce Harant, a representative of Planned Parenthood, said that having
the clergy speak out about abortion rights and contraception has been
important. "Clearly having the support and involvement of clergy
who have a strong sense of social justice, of religious freedom, is good
for any movement
.It's not about being pro-abortion, it's about
Harant adds, Most people
on our Planned Parenthood board
have strong religious views, and some of them would not themselves consider
abortion, but they strongly believe in religious freedom and democratic
freedom in allowing others to make that choice themselves.
The clergy advisory board is helping to deliver that message.
Back to Top
Blessing the condoms in
An excerpt reprinted with permission
By David Patient,Mozambique South, Africa
Maputo,Mozambique, about 6 months ago, we were invited to attend a church
service to educate parishioners about the dangers of HIV and how parishioners
can get involved in home-based care, orphan care, and general education
around the complexities of HIV.
The Bishop happened to be leading the days events, and when it
came to the question-and-answer period, the standard questions were raised.
Then came the condom issue. What is the churchs position
about condom use?
Before we could answer the question, the Bishop stood up and indicated
that he would answer it.
God clearly tells us that we must protect life at all costs.
To not do so is committing a serious sin against God. We were
waiting for the hellfire-and- damnation speech we have heard so many times
before .... he continued, So what does this mean to you and me?
He paused, looked around the silent church, and continued, It
means that A is for abstinence and looking around at all of you today,
many of you cannot live by this advice. Let us be realistic, few if any
of you can abstain. Which brings us to B, be faithful. Once
again he looked around the room. Some of you are faithful...many
of you are not. So that leaves us with C...condoms. Now many of you believe
that condoms are a crime against God...that wasted semen is a sin,
and I am here today to tell you otherwise. You see, if you are HIV+ and
you have unprotected sex and you infect someone, you have, in the eyes
of God, committed murder. Or if you are HIV and you have unprotected
sex with someone who is infected, and they infect you, you have, in the
eyes of God, committed suicide.
You could hear a pin drop!
So my children, wearing a condom is not a sin
Cant argue with that logic! Sunday church services will never be
the same as now every Sunday, part of the celebration is the blessing
of the condoms. Thats right, the BLESSING OF THE CONDOMS!
Now here is a leader who has learned the principles of adapt or die.
He is dealing with current reality, and not basing his approach on a 2000-year-old
dogma riddled with contradictions and very outdated period
messaging.What was appropriate advice 2000 years ago is hardly a guideline
Many churches have the blood of their parishioners on their hands, and
their approach towards condoms and human sexuality is not helping to [keep]
the rank and file of the Church .
[It] is driving people away from
God, not towards him. Many leaders in the religious community are as guilty
of killing their flock as the virus itself.
Why is the church not taking an active role in showing people how to
be faithful to one another? Why not teach a man fifty ways to make love
to his wife? Why is a woman not being taught ways to make love to her
husband, in the hopes that he will be sexually satisfied and not have
to stray outside their relationship? Why not have 50 ways to make love
to one partner instead of one way to have sex with 50 partners? Why are
we not being taught how to make love to our partners by the Church? (Yes,
Im talking about hands-on classes in how to make love!!! And were
doing exactly that in Mozambique!!!)
Why are sexual pleasure and intimacy not part of what parishioners are
taught through the church? Sex is a celebration of life (Book of Solomon),
of Gods love, yet the church has manipulated sexuality to serve
its need to control. It has made something truly God-given into something
that we are ashamed of and deny
. At the end of the day, the Churchs
dogma is killing us, just as quickly as the HIV virus. The Virus kills
our bodies, and the Church kills our souls.
Copyright AF-AIDS 2002 [Internet: http://archives.healthdev.net/af-aids
Back to Top
Participating Scholar Ayesha
Imam receives John Humphrey Freedom Award
December 9th, Ayesah Imam accepted the John Humphrey Freedom Award,
anannual honor conferred by the Canada-based organization, Rights and
Democracy. The award recognizes Dr. Imam's continued work as a founding
director of BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights.
General work in women's rights
BAOBAB draws public attention to women's rights issues -
- Organizing Nigeria's first National Tribunal on Violence Against
- Organizing art competitions for young people on building women's
- Coordinating both national and international campaigns in gender justice.
- Running training workshops in leadership skills for women and in
- Supporting women and girls to fight for or redress rights violations
in individual cases - ranging from domestic violence, to forced marriage,
to rape and sexual abuse, to achieving custody, guardianship, and maintenance
rights for their children.
Defending women's rights in Muslim Law
But the work for which BAOBAB is best known - and for which Rights and
Democracy has chosen to honour it - is that of defending women's rights
in Muslim laws and practices.
It was clear that many Nigerian women could not access their rights in
Muslim laws because they did not know them. BAOBAB and its volunteer outreach
teams began making that knowledge available to women (and men) through
legal literacy leaflets and activities, training workshops, paralegal
support, and so on.
For women who are victims of baseless legal practices, BAOBAB put together
a legal strategy team of independent Muslim lawyers, rights activists,
and Muslim scholars to offer women advice and information. Drawing on
its international links, BAOBAB researched similar cases in other geographical
jurisdictions, as well as raised resources to cover the costs of the appeals
and support activities (legal fees and court costs, transport, counseling,
safe houses, etc.).
Also, BAOBAB has been collaborating with a wide range of women's and
human rights activist and organizations - the whole Nigerian human rights
movement has been working in solidarity, in different ways. So far, none
of the death sentences by stoning for adultery has been carried out. All
of them have either been quashed on appeal, or are still in the process
BAOBAB has also consistently worked to widen the discussions and end
the current climate of fear. It has publicly raised critiques of rights
violations in the name of Muslim laws and Islam, and it has encouraged
others to do so.
BAOBAB started a series of workshops whereby to examine the actual constructions
of Muslim laws in countries and communities around the world. They do
this for each of thirty or so different issues of particular importance
to women e.g. choice of marriage partner, rights to inheritance, forms
of divorce, witnessing, leadership, reproductive rights, bodily integrity.
The Consultation congratulates Dr. Imam on her award and her courageous
and extraordinary work in defending women's rights.
Dr. Iman's acceptance speech.
The American Micro-Conscience
It is reported that more Americans recycle than vote -61% of eligible
voters did not vote on November 5, 2002. This perfectly exemplifies the
original sin of American ethics: myopic individualism. In this dim-witted
mindset, individual efforts and private virtue are more important than
So, while the citizens visit the recycle bin and shun the voting booth,
politically involved corporations and lobbyists create a corporate-governmental
axis that dumps international earth-friendly treaties and rapes the biosphere
that is the maternal womb of earth-life. Recycling is fine and morally
mandatory, but inadequate. Much that we recycle is dumped into landfill
because of recycling costs which the government will not subsidize. Recycle
as we will, per-capita garbage is increasing.
Meanwhile, with little to fear from the non-voting citizenry, corporations,
and the government they co-opt, pollute the air we breathe, the food we
eat, and the water we drink.
Americans are many things. Dumb is one of them.
By Daniel C. Maguire
Back to Top
Movers & Shakers
Albrechts latest book Hitting Home: Feminist Ethics,Womens
Work and the Betrayal of Family Values (see cover story) describes
how business and government are abandoning their social responsilbity
to sustan the wellbeing of families. It exposes family friendly
policies as really being profitfriendly to the corporate world.
Ellison, along with Sylvia Thorson-Smith, has co-edited a collection
of essays entitled Body and Soul: Justice-Lovers Rethink Sexuality
(Pilgrim Press, Spring 2003). In it, two dozen prominent theologians,
including Participating Scholars Dan Maguire, Beverly Harrison, Judith
Plaskow, and Mary Hunt, play off the controversial 1991 Presbyterian study,
Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social
Justice. Scholars take stock of sexuality, religion, and ethics at
the beginning of the new millennium. Their cutting-edge analyses address
the possibilities and demands of a justice-love ethic for
individuals, church, and society. Outstanding features of the book include
The use of a wide justice lens to explore religion, sexuality,
Analyses of the intersections of sexuality with race, gender,
sexual orientation, ecology, economics, and other dynamics.
Rich insight into the history and complexity of religious debates
Constructive guidance for resolving conflict, based on biblical
and ethical principles of love and justice.
Hassan was the guest speaker at the 13th annual ALT Lecture in Rochester,
New York. Riffat spoke on Feminism and Islam. She delivered the same
lecture to an audience of Planned Parenthood supporters in Syracuse,
New York. Both events were great successes.
Jung has been appointed Graduate Programs Director for Theology at
Loyola University Chicago. In addition to Pattis new duties,
she has been an active speaker and writer. Here is a list of her latest
Catholic Thought about Sexual Diversity in New
Jewish and Christian Approaches to Homosexuality: A Symposium
(a pamphlet) University of San Francisco: The Swig Lectureship, 2002:
Moral Issues and Christian Responses. 7th Edition. Co-edited
with L. Shannon Jung. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003.
Blessing Same-Sex Marriages, Word and World,
23/1 (2003): 57-67.
Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Religious Ethics.
Re-elected to 3rd term. Class of 2003.
Panelist, in abstentia, for a Concurrent Session on Women,Men
and Bodies: Inter-Religious Perspectives, SCE Annual Meeting,
Vancouver, January 2002.
Good Sex: Feminist Perspectives from the Worlds
Religions, was the subject of a Breakfast with an Author
Session at the Annual Meeting of the SCE, Vancouver, January 2002.
Workshop Leader on Diversity, Womens Programs, Heartland
Gathering II, July 19, 2002, Loyola Chicago.
Three Plenary Addresses at an ELCA Synodical Conference on Spirituality
and Sexuality in Cedar Rapids, IA, October 2002.
Keynote Speaker: Christian Sexual Formation, Christs
Body, Our Body Conference, Harvard Divinity School and
New England ELCA Synod, Boston, MA,November 2002.
2002, David Loy presented his popular lecture, Beyond Good
and Evil? A Buddhist Response to the New Holy War at Davis &
Elkins College (WVa),Wheaton College (Mass.), Sharpham College (Devon,
UK), Illinois State University at Normal, Columbia University, Marymount
Manhattan College, Southern Methodist University (Dallas), University
of San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, and Beijing University in China.
David also represented the Rector of the United Nations University at
a conference on Dialogue among Civilizations that he co-chaired
in Tehran, Iran at the end of August.
Suwanbubbha offered the Buddhist perspective in the panel discussion
(Un) Believable: Reinterpreting Religious Texts From A Gender Perspective
on November 5, 2002, at the Church Center for the United Nations, New
York. This seminar was organized by The World Conference of Religions
for Peace,Womens Program. On the same day, she joined another panel
discussion organized by The World Conference of Religions for Peace, The
Childrens Program, Theological Reflections on The Impact HIV
& AIDS Has Had in Faith Communities. Parichart lives in Bangkok,
and so she was able to talk about the situation in Thailand and the response
from Buddhist communities in her country.
Back to Top
107 countries (and the Vatican)
visit the TRC web site each month
by Ed Mitchell, Web Manager
the Religious Consultation web site (www.religiousconsultation.org) was
reorganized two years ago, over 150,000 visitors have read a half million
pages on our site. They spent a total of 7,500 hours reading information
on population, reproductive health, ethics, and a host of other topics.
Where do these visitors come from? From 107 countries in the average
month. The top ten countries are USA, UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Saudi
Arabia, Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, and Austria. Although not a frequent
visitor, the Holy See (Vatican City State) pays us calls, as do Cuba,
Morocco, China, and Egypt.
What are people looking for? All pages are visited, but Dan Maguire's
writings are always popular, with his excerpt from Sacred Choices on "Contraception
and Abortion in Islam" ranking first. Next most popular pages
are Riffat Hassan's articles on "Are Human Rights Compatible with
Islam?" and "Gender Equality and Justice in Islam."
Other frequently visited pages are Nelia Beth Scovill's "The Liberation
of Women: Religious Sources," Nawal Ammar's "On Being
a Muslim Woman," David Loy's "Religion and the Market,"
and Julia Ching's "Human Rights: a Valid Chinese Concept?"
Why so much interest in Islam? Great curiosity about Islamic issues
and heavy international traffic make this topic popular.
How do visitors find us? Scores of other web sites link to us,
and the most popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, AOL) "spider"
us on a regular basis.
What are the most popular words searched for? Most searched for
are "riffat hassan," "abortion in islam," "dan
maguire," "david loy," "aborto," "stem cell
article," "infanticidio," "islam population,"
"sacred choices," and "national catholic reporter."
Why is the TRC web site attracting so many visitors?
- Its rich content is constantly being updated. (It presently has 135
- Its special features are well-focused: "The President's Corner"
with Dan Maguire's latest writings (e.g. "Voice of the Faithful
in a Clergy Dominated Church," and Why Do Americans Hate Children?")
"Scholars Forum" with contributions from our experts
"TRC News Tracker" that offers fresh articles from the world's
leading newspapers and magazines
a "Non-English" section
with pieces in Spanish and Portuguese
a Radio and Video section
and a "Special Interest"
section featuring such items as Mark Twain's "War Prayer,"
editorials from the New York Times and National Catholic Reporter, alerts
from Planned Parenthood
and the on-line editions of the TRC Newsletter,
past and present.
- Its archives feature books and articles by Participating Scholars,
links to numerous sister agencies, and a tour de force of Dan Maguire's
latest book, Sacred Choices, now in its second printing.
There are numerous other gems on the TRC web site just waiting to be
discovered - like the provocative question at the bottom of the home page,
"Did a Catholic Saint Approve Abortion?" Or the shocker
at the top of the home page about a Catholic bishop in Mozambique who
not only approved the use of condoms but blessed them at Mass. (Maybe
that's why the Vatican is visiting!)
Your comments are always welcome. Send them to Ed Mitchell at email@example.com
Back to Top
Muslim scholar takes Americans
to task at national Call To Action meeting
Scholar Farid Esack spoke at the national Call To Action meeting held
in Milwaukee last November. A progressive South African Muslim theologian,
Dr. Esack talked to the audience about the Muslim reaction to 9/11.
Contrary to what Americans would like to believe, Dr. Esack said, most
Muslims in the world "rejoiced" on 9/11 because they felt that
the "bully on the block" was finally getting "a beating."
Dr. Esack explained that many Americans suddenly became interested in
learning more about Islam after the disaster. He felt that American interest
in the religion sprang from the hope that Muslims would be revealed as
essentially peace-loving, and that the attacks were the acts of a fanatical
What should have been happening, according to Dr. Esack, is that Americans
should have been asking why the Muslim people would rejoice at such destruction.
What does that say about the relationship between the two peoples? He
believes that the Muslim reaction reveals a terrible pain. Dr. Esack suggests
that it would be healthier to look at what lies beneath the action.
"We need to be mirrors into each other as part of a struggle for
justice." He has little patience for simply going through the
motions of interfaith dialogue where people share their religious beliefs
and then return home to feel self-satisfied with their tolerance of others.
The goal should be to care more about self-transformation than world transformation.
"Through real self-examination, we come closer to God."
Back to Top
Abortion & Common Sense
It has been called Timely
A Voice for Reason. A "must read" for health professionals,
educators, social workers, and lawmakers. Abortion & Common Sense
(ISBN: 1401059546) cuts through the rhetoric and misinformation surrounding
the abortion debate to look at the facts. Four of every 10 women in the
US will have at least one abortion in their lifetimes. Worldwide, an estimated
46 million women terminate their pregnancies every year, some safely,
The book is full of such statistics and interesting facts. It explores
the private issues that women face and the more public debates involving
laws and the medical profession. The authors are Ruth Dixon-Mueller and
Paul K.B. Dagg.
Ruth Dixon-Mueller is a former Professor of Sociology at the University
of California, Davis. Paul K.B. Dagg is a Fellow of the Royal College
of Physicians and Surgeons (Canada), and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry
at the University of Ottawa, as well as Director of Clinical Services
at the Royal Ottawa Hospital.
Back to Top
Riffat Hassan draws large
audiences in talks about feminism and Islam
October 23 and 24, 2002, more than 800 people attended two Planned Parenthood-sponsored
talks by Participating Scholar, Riffat Hassan. The presentations took
place in Rochester and Syracuse, New York. Dr. Hassan's topic was Feminism
In her talk, Dr. Hassan says that the "havoc the media has played
with Islam [since 9/11] is unbelievable." Ignorance and misinterpretation
- some deliberate - have demonized Islam. Dr. Hassan explained that while
all of the major religions are patriarchal, contrary to press accounts,
the Qur'an protects the rights of all people, both men and women.
Why, then, is it that Muslim women do not enjoy the same rights as Muslim
men? Dr. Hassan traces the problem back to the years following the Iranian
Revolution in 1970 - when the process of Islamization began in Muslim
countries. The aim of Islamization is to make Muslim societies more Muslim
because they were viewed as not being Muslim enough. The Taliban
represents Islamization in its most extreme form.
Women became the chief focus of Islamization. To conservative Muslims,
women belong in "private space" (the home). Public space belongs
to men. As long as each stays in their place, everything is fine. Women
who enter public space must be faceless, nameless, and voiceless. The
conservative Islamic thinking about women in public places agrees with
St. Augustine, who said, women "cause erections even in holy men."
Dr. Hassan thinks that such a reaction is a male problem - and men should
do something about it.
The concepts of women as inferior and women as temptress are reinforced
by the Christian story of Adam and Eve and The Fall in Genesis. Yet Dr.
Hassan has been intensely studying the Qur'an since 1974, and she says
that the Qur'an tells a different story. In the Islamic version of creation,
there is only an earth creature, no man or woman, and no one was created
first. The Qur'an does not subjugate women, but protects them.
Early in her research into the Qur'an, she realized that there was a
big discrepancy between what the Qur'an says about women and what was
happening to Muslim women. She believes that Muslim women need to be educated
about their religious rights.
Those conservatives who oppress Muslim women, seeing women as "physical"
and men as "spiritual," take pieces of the Qur'an out of context
to use them to further their own purposes. Dr. Hassan maintains that the
intent of the Qur'an, to make man and women equal, has been subverted.
Both policy-makers and Western feminists wrongly attempt to change Islamic
societies by eliminating Islam. Not so, says Dr. Hassan. "If
the laws are to be challenged, they must be challenged within the Islamic
perspective." Islam can be used to empower women. Muslim women
do not want to become Western women. They want to maintain their Muslim