The Religious Consultation Report
Published by The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics
Volume 7 No. 2
Money is there!!!
By Daniel C.Maguire
A wise man [disclosure: hes my brother, Joe] once said, Anything that can be solved by money is not a problem IF the money is there.
Grim problems face us denizens of planet earth, and money can solve every one of them:
Dirty water. If one glass of pure water could cure AIDS, many people in the world would have no access to it.
Hunger and poverty. Some 40 million people die every year from hunger and poverty-related causes the equivalent of 300 jumbo-jet crashes daily with half of the passengers being children.
New, self-induced illnesses. As forests are destroyed,
microbes need new hosts and move to humans. Its not
the tigers coming out of the forest that we now fear. Its
the microbes.We have lost one-fifth of tropical rain
Unwanted pregnancies. Half of all pregnancies in our overcrowded world may be unwanted, according to Nafis Sadik, former head of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.We have the money to meet that need with family planning aid.
Female illiteracy. Nothing swells population growth more than female illiteracy. In India overall, the literacy rate for women is 39%, and the fertility rate is more than three children per woman.However, in the remarkable Indian state of Kerala (with its highly Catholic population), the literacy rate for women is 86.3%, and the fertility rate is 1.8.
These are some of the problems.Wheres the money to solve them? Going wastefully in other absurd directions .
Were literally rolling in money, but most of it is misspent, and the father of all misspentmoney is the U.S. military, the sacred idol that the U. S. and most nations of the world worship.
Lets just take a peek at one little bit of military madness.
Welcome aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk.
The Kitty Hawk is like a nuclear-powered floating city. Its three football fields long, as tall as a 20-story building, and it houses nearly 6,000 crew, pilots, and mechanics as well as 70 sleek aircraft. It does not travel alone; it is accompanied by Aegis cruiser, frigates and destroyers, two hunter-killer submarines, as well as supply vessels.
Now hear this: The United States has 13 of these carrierbattle-group killer behemoths! No other country in the world has even one!!
How frustrating it must be for the military.Having such a powerful team and no opponents! This, however, is just one example of our silly spendthrift military budgeting. The accompanying chart prepared by The Center for Defense Information shows how much money the U.S. spends on kill-power, i.e. military power, as compared to essential issues like education, health, alternative energy, agriculture, etc.
Remember, while that money pours into the military, school buildings deteriorate, bridges collapse, and 40 million Americans go without health insurance.When the Congress debates the discretionary budget each year, the military part is not on the table. Oh, sorry!! It is on the table, awaiting enlargement so that it is now approaching half-a-trillion dollars a year. More than $10,000 a second going down the military tube!
than spending more than $30,000 an hour
on things as ridiculous as the Kitty Hawk,we could cut our
military spending in half and still be over-armed. $40 billion
a year would provide a G.I. Bill for all qualified students
in public colleges in the United States. We could rebuild
U.S. schools over 10 years for $12 billion a year. Basic health
care and nutrition for the worlds poor could be had
by spending $13 billion per year.We could double the salaries
of elementary and high-school teachers,
We could provide universal health care for all U.S. citizens without spending any more than we now are spending on health as a nation.All we need do is adopt a health care system such as exists in Denmark and other northern European countries.
According to the United Nations, reproductive health care for all the women in the world could be had by spending a mere $12 billion a year.Water and sanitation for everyone would require only $9 billion a year. Basic education for all would be only $6 billion per year.
If these were items on the U.S. budget, we would not fear terrorism.We would be respected, not hated.We would be what early America dreamed of being, a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people upon us.Other nations would not fear us for our military mania and intrusive imperial misadventures, but admire us as once we were admired.
Homophobia is an attitude that reaches beyond sexuality tainting thinking about reproductive health, parenting, AIDS, and gender justice.
The Consultation is pleased to announce that we have received initial funding for a new project: Homophobia: Roots and Cures in World Religions.
The question might be asked, Why is the Consultation taking this on?
Our central concerns focus on population and reproductive health. Should we address the problem of heterosexism? Would this not distract from our mission?
Not at all.
Reproductive health involves attitudes toward sexuality.
Heterosexism and homophobia poison societal attitudes regarding
the meaning of sexuality and of healthy relationships,
In this project, we will show that religion, in ways subtle and not so subtle, is a major cause of homophobia and heterosexism. Religious interpretations of gender, sexual pleasure, reproductivity, status, family, and other prime social categories can stimulate homophobia.
Religious poisons can be fought only by religious medicine.Homophobia promotes injustice toward persons whose sexual orientation (LGBT) does not match the dominant and intolerant societal norm.Discrimination is metastatic. Each sanctioned mode of discrimination opens doors to other forms of discrimination. This is especially and powerfully true when religions provide the sanctions and support the laws and policies that impose this religiously blessed bias on whole societies.
Homophobia also inhibits response to the HIV-AIDS crisis since many blame this epidemic on sexual minorities and see it as divine retribution. The solid research of firstrate scholars will show that many religion-rooted negative attitudes toward sexual minorities can be countered by the teachings of those same religions. In this way, we will counter the influential ignorance of the Religious Right. The one thing the Right does not want: serious religious scholars demonstrating that its heterosexist reading of the religious traditions is flawed, and therefore, not a suitable basis for public policy or law.
This project will show the moral beauty of same-sex
marriage and show how that beauty is supported by the worlds
religions. The distinguished faculty for this project includes
Together, two American women have begun 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, a grassroots effort to replace the $34 million that President Bush withdrew from the United Nations Population Fund when he took office. The Fund is the worlds primary multilateral provider of voluntary family planning services, including contraceptives, pre- and post-natal care, and HIV/AIDS prevention services.
Experts estimate that the lost $34 million could have prevented two million unwanted pregnancies per year, 800,000 induced abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, and 77,000 infant and child deaths.
Jane Roberts is a retired French teacher from Redlands, California. Lois Abraham is a awyer who practices in Taos, New Mexico, and San Francisco, California. For more than a year and a half now, these two women have been asking Americans to contribute at least one dollar to help fill the UNFPA void left by the Bush administration.
In an interview with WeNews correspondent Barbara Crossette, Jane Roberts said, No other country has ever de-funded UNFPA for other than fiscal reasons. The country of Mali, which is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, gives $3,000 a year. Its just something that you do. Its part of a social contract, and we have reneged on this contract. Lois and I find this absolutely appalling.
Money put to use
All the money raised in the campaign will be used to help with motherhood services and emergency obstetric care, as well as treating genital cutting, obstetric fistula1, and sexual abuse.Money will also be used to distribute information on contraceptive methods, reproductive health care/counseling, and HIV/AIDS testing and counseling.
A standard of care
Roberts has traveled to Mali and Senegal to view firsthand the Population Funds work. In the WeNews article, Roberts related the story of coming upon a pregnant woman lying on a donkey cart on a dirt road. It was noon and 95°. The woman was in labor and six miles from a clinic. Roberts and the doctor with her got the woman in the back of their truck and took her to the clinic. Stories like this one form the impetus for the fund-raising campaign. The 34 Million Friends campaign believes that a pregnant woman has the right to survive, and that women should get prenatal vitamins, sonograms, mammograms, and contraceptive choice.
The power of education
Roberts reiterates what studies have found. Educated women marry later and have fewer children. They practice better hygiene. They learn techniques of family planning. The cost of this minimal education basically an elementary school education is so little compared to the enormity of the benefits. At one school, Roberts reported that printed on the cover of the little books that the children used to write their school work were the words, Little girls deserve as much food,education, and health care as little boys. Its an elementary thought with tremendous implications.
As of the writing of this article, the campaign
has raised nearly $2 million. To contribute or to learn more
about the 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, go to www.34millionfriends.org.
Recently, the United Nations Foundation announced that it
would match new donations 25 cents on the dollar.
I n his new book,Marvin Ellison examines the arguments for and against same-sex marriage and concludes that as a matter of justice, the institution of marriage should be open to same-sex couples.However, he asserts, marriage is not necessarily ideal for all lesbian or gay people, just as marriage is not for all heterosexual people.
In dialogue with both legal scholars and theologians,
Ellison examines the strengths and weaknesses of how marriage
traditionalists, advocates of same-sex marriage, and radical
Michael Bronski, author of The Pleasure Principle: Sex, Backlash, and the Struggle for Gay Freedom, says of Ellisons book, It is a call for common sense and common justice in how we, as a culture,must allow, promote, and sustain a wide range of intimate relationships.Written with energy and argued with elegance, Ellison's book will be a revelation to everyone who cares about society, families, love, sex, politics, and justice.
Says Mary L. Bonauto, civil rights director of GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders),Marvin Ellison's book offers an essential voice in the marriage debate by bringing the broad ethics of Christianity to what is otherwise a legal question about the justness of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in civil marriage.
Steffen cites the penchant of religions to be absolutist and unrealistically dogmatic as the source of destructive, lifedefying religion. This, he says, is the central reason and the main cause for religions becoming dangerous and turning demonic.He explores the ever-present malignant power of religion as well as the multiple positive ways we have of being religious.He also delves into the ways that religion can restrain violence. Historically, it has made the case for pacifism but also the case for holy war, and the more fudged concept of just war.
Steffen looks at all of this with unusual candor
for someone writing in the cautious American tradition of
religious scholarship.He knows that religion is powerful and
that thus religion is dangerous as well as promising.He dares
to look at the dynamic of the dominant monotheistic traditions
of the West, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. He acknowledges
the prodigious power of these religions to inspire either
slaughter or peace. Both potentials are there. Steffen faces
While contraceptive use continues to rise overall
in developing countries, the fertility
Sub-Saharan Africa has the worlds highest fertility rate: 5.3 children per woman.
In Niger, the fertility rate is 7.2 children per woman.
In 9 of the 16 sub-Sahara countries, fertility
has dropped by more than one percent per year since 1990.However,
the transition to lower fertility is much slower in Africa
when compared to other countries during the same period.
In early January, the then La Crosse,Wisconsin
Bishop Raymond Burke, a rigid conservative, decreed that priests
within his diocese must withhold Holy Communion from any lawmaker
who supports abortion or euthanasia. The ban will hold until
suchlawmakers reverse their stands and publicly renounce
their support of these most unjust practices.
The Vatican claims that condoms are permeable,
and that the HIV virus can pass through condoms tiny
holes. The Catholic Church has spread this message across
four continents, despite the scientific communitys claims
to the contrary.
Source: Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan
When Raymond Burke was a Wisconsin bishop, he forbade priests to administer Holy Communion to lawmakers who supported abortion or euthanasia. (See p. 6) Now, as Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, he announced the day before the Missouri presidential primary that he would deny Holy Communion to John Kerry because of Kerrys support of abortion rights and same-sex unions.
According to the Associated Press, Kerrys
Bishop in Boston, Sean OMalley, has also endorsed the
principle without naming the senator.
A letter last fall from an anti-abortion group posed an unexpected quandary for Georgetown University Medical Center. A Florida-based group wrote to Cardinal Theodore E.McCarrick of Washington that some scientists at Georgetown, a Catholic university, were doing research using cells derived from aborted fetuses.
An in-house investigation verified the claim. But when 14 of the researchers involved said that ending the use of the cells in question would jeopardize years of work and funding, the matter was turned over to ethicists.
In a recommendation that scholars said could mark a first in Catholic medical research in the U. S., Georgetown has decided to let those researchers continue their work.
The Rev. Kevin T. FitzGerald, a university bio-ethicist, said he reasoned that the scientists did not know the cells had come from aborted fetuses when they began their work and should not be forced to abandon potentially life-saving studies or risk forfeiting grants. The benefits to society, he said, far outweigh the harm done by using the cells, because the abortions were not performed for the purpose of providing the cells to scientists.
The ideal would be not to be involved with
[aborted fetal cells] at all, said FitzGerald, a Jesuit
priest who holds a doctorate in molecular genetics. Obviously,
we don't live in
Reprinted from a report distributed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin
Father Timothy Ryan, 67 has filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court of Canada in support of same-sex marriages and in direct opposition to a recent document from the Vatican condemning homosexual unions. The definition of marriage should include same-sex couples, said Ryan, who has worked for 30 years with the gay and lesbian community. As with various issues touching on matters of sex and sexuality, many Canadian Catholics do not share the views of the hierarchy, including myself, he said.
Canadas federal government has asked the [Canadian] Supreme Court to consider including same-sex couples in the definition of marriage. The court is to deal with the question by fall.
An excerpt reprinted from the National Catholic
Anti-choice extremists are using misinformation as their weapon against safe and legal abortion. Disregarding the lack of evidence for their allegations, the group has launched a campaign to educatewomen. Their message uses a barrage of media: television ads, billboards, bumper stickers, and print ads. One ad sponsored by Christs Bride Ministries appears on public transportation vehicles and warns, women who choose abortion suffer more and deadlier breast cancer.
Never mind that the National Cancer Institute, The American Cancer Society, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the World Health Organization, The New England Journal of Medicine, major universities, and studies in Sweden and China say that they have found no relation between having an induced abortion and breast cancer.
Undeterred by scientific studies, antiabortionists are also lobbying for legislation that would require informing a woman considering an abortion that she would be increasing her risk of breast cancer. The anti-choice misinformation campaign not only continues, it is accelerating.
Catholics for a Free Choice-Europe is calling attention to the Vaticanseffort to gainspecial consultative status within the European Union. If the status is granted, says Elfriede Harth, spokesperson for the organization, a great number of people could face discrimination and be denied their human rights.
Says Harth, the exemption would allow the Church the right to organize and administer its agencies without having to comply with any European policies and regulations that violate Church teachings. The ramifications are many. The Church could refuse to hire and have the freedom to fire people whose lives do not align with Church teachings: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people, as well as those who remarry after divorce. Others who could be affected: people who publicly disagree with Church positions on contraception or abortion.
Such discrimination violates the basic human rights of those who work for the Church, yet consultative status would ensure that Church institutions would still receive EU funds even though the institutions violate the EU charter. In a press release last November, Elfriede Harth pointed out that The Vatican rejects EU policy but gets EU money. EU funding goes to Catholic organizations that do not always reflect the progressive values of the EU, especially in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights.Harth cited the Vatican campaign asserting that condoms cause AIDS as an example.
Between 1997 and 2002, Catholic charities received nearly $99 million of EU funding under the budget line that goes to fund NGO development projects thats close to 10% of the total $1 billion the EU spent on such projects.
The poverty of the poor is their ruin Proverbs, 10:15 95% of the estimated 529,000 maternal deaths in 2000 occurred in Africa and Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 16 women die in childbirth or pregnancy. In a more developed country, the risk is 1 in 2,800.
More developed countries offer maternal health programs. Skilled health workers help with pregnancy and delivery.When complications arise, women have access to emergency medical care.
Source: Popline, November-December 2003.
Three years of research have produced further strong evidence that increasing the availability of modern contraceptive methods decreases abortion rates.Here are some of the findings presented by Dr. Charles Westoff, Princeton University Emeritus professor of demographic studies and sociology:
In 12 countries of central Asia and Eastern
Westoff estimates that in past years, 80-90% of unintended pregnancies were aborted. In recent years, however, abortions have dropped significantly where modern contraception, most often intrauterine devices, has become widely available.
In Kazakhstan. The rate of modern contraceptive use rose 50% between 1991-1998. The abortion rate fell by 50% during that same period.
In Azerbaijan. Only 25% of women use modern contraception. The abortion rate was 3.2 abortions per woman in 2001.
In Armenia. Modern contraception use is at 40%, and women had an average of 2.6 abortions in 2000.
Source: Elizabeth Leahy, POPLINE, November-December
Son preference continues to play a significant role in fertility preference among Indian women.
Indias second-trimester abortion rate is
thought to be among the highest in the world. It continues
Source: Abortion in India A Complex and
Conflicting Agenda, Center for
Many towns along the length of southern Italy are
dying out as young people migrate to the more prosperous northeast
area of the country. Its a trend that worries the Italian
government.Who will pay for future pension and health care
for a growing aging population? The news is dire for those
approaching retirement age:Working lives must get longer.
in Trinidad, Anantanand Rambachan completed his M.A.
and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Leeds in the United
Kingdom.He is also a student of Swami Dayananda, the distinguished
traditional teacher of Vedanta. Currently a Professor of Religion,
Philosophy, and Asian Studies at St. Olaf College in Northfield
Minnesota,Anantanand has been teaching courses since 1985.
Mutombo Nkulu-N'Sengha is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at California State University - Northridge.
Born and raised in Central Africa, Mutombo has studied in Africa, Europe, and the U.S. He has earned master's degrees in African American Studies and Philosophy, as well as certificates in political science and Egyptology, the latter from the Oriental Institute of Rome. Temple University awarded Mutombo his doctorate in Philosophy of Religion.
In Africa, Mutombo studied with some of the founding fathers of African philosophy. He speaks four African languages in addition to French, Italian, and English. His writings have been published many languages, including French, English, and Italian. He has lived in Africa, Europe, and the U.S. and has traveled extensively in Asia.
Besides being a scholar in the field of global philosophy and
religion, Mutombo is a poet, and a human rights activist who
has worked as journalist at Vatican Radio in Rome. He is currently
the editor-in-chief of Congo Times, www.congotimes.com. The
site speaks of the challenges confronting Central Africa:
democracy, human rights, economic and social development,
the phenomenon of globalization, and the scramble for post-colonial
This list of Bushs tactics was taken from
Ladies, You Have No Choice, an article written by Don
Hinrichsen in the March/April issue of World Watch
The information used to create the list is provided by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Population Connection.
In this past year we have received funding for
the project that will analyze the religiousroots of violence
against women. (See last issue of Religious Consultation Report,
Vol. 7 No. 1). The study will show how antidotal themes and
teachings can be found within those same religions.
Frances Finnegan (Social History of Women)