WORLD FUTURE FUND
SEX, JESUS AND DEATH IN AMERICA
HOW CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS DELUSIONS
ABOUT SEX ARE A DIRECT THREAT TO LIFE
Unfortunately, religious problems in Christianity are not limited to the past.
Our planet is in the middle of a series of disease epidemics, including the crisis with AIDS. Unfortunately, Christian attitudes towards sex are literally killing and harming large numbers of people by opposing basic matters of public health such as sex education and condoms.
Now certainly not all Christians fit into the views that we have outlined below. However, there are some major voices in America's religious leadership that promote dangerous ideas, ideas that threaten sexual health in America. In particular the Catholic Church has long had a strict position against birth control. While many Protestant groups have traditionally been accepting of birth control, some have begun to adapt a position similar to the Catholic Church in recent years. Since abstinence has been shown not to be a realistic solution, such a position puts Americans at risk for sexual diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and death. Conservative religious ideas have also been responsible for thwarting scientific developments in the medical field, such as stem cell research. And then there are also those who are speaking out against vaccines (although these voices are in the minority, they are still an incredibly dangerous threat nevertheless). We will outline these threats more below.
DANGEROUS VIEWS ON SEX ARE KILLING AND HARMING CHILDREN
CENSORING INFORMATION ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY LEADS TO DISEASE, UNWANTED PREGNANCY AND DEATH
Is the best way to prevent sexual disease and unwanted pregnancy simply to expect people not to have sex? This has certainly been an idea promoted by prominent voices in the Evangelical community. However, in a statement from the National Association of Evangelicals, it was mentioned that the Evangelical community is experiencing too many abortions.
The Catholic Church also has a strong anti-contraceptive position. The use of condoms is strictly prohibited, as they are considered "artificial" contraceptives. Masturbation is also off-limits, to both married and single individuals (Criticism of the Catholic Church and Human Sexual Behavior). However, is this working? In a report from the Guttemacher Institute, 98% of Catholic women have used birth control methods which are prohibited by the Church.
Blocking access to contraceptives does not only lead to more abortions, and more unsafe abortions, but it is also leading to death and disease in children. This becomes a particular problem when the religious right tries to block access to a real sex education. With religious involvement and a lack of consent from parents, many schools worldwide are omitting proper sex education altogether in favor of "abstinence-only" sex education. However, Abstinence Only Education has been largely ineffective in terms of preventing teen pregnancies and STDS. For example, 80% of Evangelical youths are participating in premarital sex. (Huffington Post)
So leaving minors in the dark about sexual issues does not mean that they will not have sex. It just means that they will have unprotected sex and put themselves at risk for disease, unwanted pregnancy and death.
AMERICA IS NUMBER ONE...
IN TEEN PREGNANCY RATES (IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD)
Teen pregnancy in the United States is highest in the states that practice abstinence-only sex education. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011, nearly 400,000 infants were born to young women between the ages of 15 and 19. Some young women are so misinformed about sexual protocol that they fall into believing myths; they believe that showering after sex or even jumping up-and-down will decrease their chance of being pregnant after having unprotected sex (WebMD Teens). The United States as a nation has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the modernized Western world (Family First Aid).
Some argue that the teen pregnancy rates in the United States have plummeted, but research suggests otherwise and further reminds us that our system of sex education is failing our young generations, not saving them. It's true that there have been small declines in certain areas, but overall, the rate of teen pregnancies in our country is still at a disappointing and dangerous high. A new report this year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the majority of teen girls ages 15 to 17 do not receive proper education about sex until after they have already started having sex. The CDC is rightfully concerned at this average, as young women who give birth at these ages are more susceptible to a poor future in terms of medical conditions and economic and social outcomes (Think Progress). The following chart illustrates the recent findings from the CDC and shows just how frightening the reality of sex miseducation is.
In the same study, the teen birth rates of various states were examined more closely. The District of Columbia was found to have the highest rate of teen pregnancies, reporting 29 out of every 1,000 teens (CDC). In 2012, DC's number was pretty reflective of the country at a whole. It was found that nationwide, there were 29.4 births for every 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19. While it sounds like a low percentage, in reality it means that that age group gave birth to 305,388 babies that year (Office of Adolescent Health).
DYING FROM STDs
Aside from the chance of becoming pregnant at the wrong time, a lack of real sexual education leaves many minors with sexually-transmitted diseases. According to TeenHelp, out of the 19 million individuals that transmit a sexual disease, a good 9.1 million of them are teenagers. Another startling fact is that only a mere 42.8% of teenage women have even discussed STDs or testing with a health care professional. Planned Parenthood states that half of all teens do not feel comfortable discussing sexual issues or concerns with their parents.
Human papilloma virus, or HPV for short, is the most commonly contracted STD by teens and adults according to the CDC. Many people have no idea that they are living with the condition, as it sometimes shows no visible or detectable symptoms at all. On the other hand, some people with HPV will develop visible (and contagious) warts in their genital areas or on other body parts. Since the disease can go for extended periods of time unnoticed, even up to a year or more, many cases are left untreated until it is too late. When HPV is ignored or untreated for too long, it can lead to various forms of cancer, including cancers of the cervix, anus, vagina, and penis (Wikipedia). The passing of HPV cannot always be prevented with condom use, as the infected area may range to other parts of the body, including the thighs.
Gardasil is an FDA-approved vaccine that has been proven to dramatically decrease the chances of developing sexually-transmitted strains of HPV. Though the vaccine is not effective against existing infections, it is still recommended that people living with HPV get the vaccine to prevent the contraction of other strains of the virus. It has been shown to protect against vaginal, cervical, penile and anal cancers when administered properly and early. Though some middle schools and high schools have been administering the vaccinations on school property, some parents do not agree that it should be offered as an option. It is not a state requirement to offer the vaccine, but in the areas where it has been approved for teen use, it has shown to be greatly effective.
Following HPV, the second-most frequent STD contracted by young adults is herpes (CDC). Though HPV, in some cases, can be cured in early stages, there is absolutely no cure for herpes. It is a lifetime condition that, at most, can only be treated. Like many other sexually transmitted diseases, herpes will more than likely show no symptoms when contracted. Nearly 30 million people in the United States are living with herpes, and roughly 500,000 new cases develop annually - most likely due to the fact that it is so often unknowingly spread (Herpes Clinic). Herpes simplex is highly contagious and can easily be spread through either oral or genital contact (WebMD). Individuals with herpes may either develop visible cold sores on the lips or around the mouth, or harsh sores in the genital area. Many teens may have the disease and not be able to figure it out soon enough to spare any potential partners, due to the fact that most do not feel comfortable discussing sexual issues with parents, let alone health experts. In cases of genital herpes, prevention is possible with the proper use of condoms, but is not always guaranteed.
Children and teens instructed about sexual health (or lack thereof) under religious tactics and abstinence-only programs are at risk not just for pregnancy, treatable infections or life-long diseases, but are made prone to death from cancers. Some STDs, if left untreated, can ultimately lead to cancer of the prostate, cervix, and other sexual organs. According to The National Cancer Institute, HPV strains 16 and 18 are responsible for nearly 70% of all cervical cancer cases. In addition, individuals who have both genital herpes (simplex-2) and HPV are doubly prone to developing cervical cancer (WebMD). Men who have had the common STD trichomoniasis, another infection that often shows no symptoms, are more prone to developing prostate cancer later in life (WebMD).
Here in the states, legislation promoting the battle against the diseases has dealt with much opposition, a great deal of which was upheld by the Bush era (The Guardian). An administration highly influenced by the Christian right, Bush blocked proposals for AIDS combative legislature, highlighting issues with its condom distribution as well as the mention of needle exchange programs. Though the religious opposition is still alive and well, President Obama is positively in support for updated and effective policy against HIV/AIDS, and is working to circulate more open views of the disease and its prevention worldwide (The White House).
Continuing to resist comprehensive sex education, especially when it comes to STDs and prevention, is literally a life-or-death issue in this country.
WHY DOES AMERICA LEAD THE WORLD IN TEEN PREGNANCY AND STI'S?
A KEY PROBLEM IS THE LACK OF COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION IN AMERICA
The above map is just one example of the status of sex education in our country. In the red-colored states, there is no law requiring sex education. So these places could be a hotbed of misinformation. Some of the marked states above, including Texas, claim that if sex education is provided by the school system, it must include information on abstinence, but not a thing about contraception. That explains why in 2008, Texas was ranked number 3 out of 51 states as having the third-highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country (Office of Adolescent Health).
The majority of U.S. states do not require medically accurate education about sex or HIV, meaning that the majority of our youth are at a major risk, not just for unplanned pregnancies and harmful STI's, but also death.
GROUPS PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT ABORTIONS IS SEX EDUCATION AND CONTRACEPTIVES
AND YET MEMBERS OF AMERICA'S RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ARE BLOCKING ACCESS TO THIS IMPORTANT RESOURCE
Religious arguments against a woman's right to an abortion and contraceptives are dangerous to a woman's health.
The Catholic Church in particular has long been an advocate of anti-abortion propaganda, insisting that a child is a gift from God, and that conception and pregnancy cannot be interrupted or terminated without being sinful (Catholic Faith).
Yet banning of abortion does not prevent abortion from happening, it just forces the operation to be sought out underground, and endangers the lives of women. As Wendy Chavkin, the Chair of the Board of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health has said, If these politicians cared about women's health, they would work to provide safe and legal abortion care and emphasize sex education and access to contraception. Instead, politics is triumphing over medicine, and the state's legislators are endangering the lives of women. (Washington Post)
Unfortunately, over half of primary Republican voters of the GOP are right-wing Evangelicals (CBS News). Republicans have been openly against abortion since the 1980's, and have already successfully established laws that ban abortion in a number of states. Some of these laws even make no exception for abortion in extreme cases such as rape or incest. For instance, Rick Santorum said that he believes that pregnant rape victims should "make the best of a bad situation" and welcome their "gift from God" (Daily Mail).
Conservatives have justified their views by stating that abortion is bad for a woman's "health and well-being" (Washington Post). In 2011, the House of Representatives tried to pass the "Protect Life Act", a piece of legislature that would make it impossible for women to purchase health care plans that offer coverage for abortion under the Affordable Care Act, also making it legal for hospitals and doctors to deny abortions to women - even in life-threatening conditions. Fortunately, the bill died in the Senate. (GovTrackUs)
CUTS TO TITLE X - A PROGRAM THAT BENEFITS LOW INCOME WOMEN
In further acts of legislation against women's health, Title X, a federal grant program initiated in the 1970's, has also been subjected to cuts in funding. Title X, administered by the Office of Family Planning, was the first program in the United States dedicated to providing family planning services and preventative health care services to individuals, primarily to low-income households or the otherwise uninsured. The program even has the power to save the nation a lot of money: expenditures tied to unwanted pregnancies are estimated at around $11 billion, a number that would undoubtedly be much higher without family planning services (American Progress). Services including contraceptive education, access to birth control, breast and pelvic exams, and screenings/treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases are provided at little or no cost to these individuals (Wikipedia).
It is estimated by the Guttmacher Institute that out of the 7,000 family planning clinics around the country, more than 4,500 received funding from Title X. The program does not exclusively cover abortions, but has met a lot of scrutiny from conservative groups who believe that Title X funding should not be appropriated to Planned Parenthood, one of the most wide-scale providers of private abortions in the country. In reality, Title X effectively reduces the number of abortions performed in the United States thanks to its comprehensive view on sex education and its efforts to provide resources to women who otherwise have no outlet. In 2006, state-funded family planning services including Title X helped American women avoid nearly 2 million unwanted pregnancies, in turn preventing a number of abortions (Wikipedia).
Many women in the United States are not covered by Medicaid, nor are they inclined to afford healthcare packages, and Title X has aided these women tremendously. The Guttmacher Institute reports that 15% of all women who obtain birth control prescriptions, contraceptive supplies or birth control check-ups are taken care of by Title X-funded facilities. (Guttmacher Institute)
In 2011, Republicans proposed that $327 million would be cut from funding the program (Wall Street Journal). Republicans have long sought to eliminate the Title X program infinitely, targeting necessary facilities such as Planned Parenthood, in efforts to replace much-needed and life-saving resources with no feasible alternative. The fact that conservative groups have supported the budget cuts to Planned Parenthood and similar clinics is detrimental to the health and lives of women.
NEWS ARTICLES RELATED TO FAMILY PLANNING
The Dangers of Banning Abortion (Wendy Chavkin - Board of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health)
Christian group's survey finds that Christians have highest abortion rates by a lot (Daily KOS, 11-30-15)
Cutting Title X Family Planning in the Sequester Hurts Women’s Reproductive Health (American Progress, 2-28-13)
NEWS ARTICLES RELATED TO THE CONSERVATIVE WAR ON WOMEN
The War on Women is Over and Women Lost (Mother Jones, October 2015)
Jeb Bush: Unwed Mothers Should Be Publicly Shamed To Teach Them A Lesson (Occupy Democrats, 6-9-15)
U.S. Maternal Death Rate Now Highest In The Western World, Thanks To GOP War On Women (Addicting Info, 6-8-15)
NEWS ARTICLES ON CONTROVERSIAL VIEWS ON RAPE
TWO BRAVE DEFENDERS OF COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION
(Former U.S. Surgeon General, Everett Koop.)
U.S. Surgeon General, Everett Koop was once a rising figure in the Christian, pro-life movement. Yet even this conservative leader decided that America was ultimately safer with a comprehensive sex education.
Koop, a pediatric surgeon, served as the 13th Surgeon General of the United States from 1982-1989. Though he was nominated by Reagan and originally opposed by many liberal health groups, Koop would become one of the most important voices in power for issues like AIDS, HIV and abortion. Koop served as the Surgeon General at a time when HIV was first starting to catch the attention of American health officials and simultaneously killing off a rising number of civilians. In 1986, Koop was authorized to release a report on AIDS. Two years later, in 1988, he made the decision to mail information about AIDS to every household in America, regardless of what his colleagues had to say about it. This was one of the largest mailings in United States history, and also the first time that explicit, comprehensive information about sex had been circulated to the public. Though it was a valiant effort to open people's eyes to the dangers of AIDS, it offended a number of people on a lot of different levels. Of course, Koop's conservative colleagues were angered at the fact that the information contained descriptions of condom use, and again raised the argument that this would result in widespread promiscuity (National Library of Medicine). The information Koop circulated may not have been completely polished or fool-proof, but the most important thing is that it introduced the reality of the disease to the uninformed.
In his same 1986 report on AIDS awareness, Koop made a vital statement about the need for revamped sex education: "There is now no doubt that we need sex education in schools and that it [should] include information on heterosexual and homosexual relationships," he wrote. "The need is critical and the price of neglect is high. The lives of our young people depend on our fulfilling our responsibility (NNDB)."
What is more interesting, is that the Democratic President, Bill Clinton, would eventually be more socially conservative than Koop in terms of his ideas on sexual education. See more below.
BILL CLINTON'S SHAMEFULL SACKING OF JOYCELYN ELDERS FOR FRANK SEX TALK
(Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders)
Joycelyn Elders served as the U.S. Surgeon General from 1993 to 1994 under the Clinton administration. Her role as general did not last very long, as she was ousted for her frank discussion of sex and her efforts to distribute contraceptives in public schools (Wikipedia). Elders was known for promoting an open and honest dialogue about sex. However, it wasn't just the Republicans who wanted her forced out of her position, but criticism came from certain Democrats as well. President Clinton eventually removed her from her position due to her views (New York Times). This action was a blatant act of hypocrisy, considering that Bill Clinton spoke pretty openly about addressing AIDS, stating that children "should be told in blunt, clear, but sensitive terms how people get AIDS and how to avoid it (Act Up NY)."
It is unfortunate that these two surgeon generals received the scrutiny and criticism that they did. They both did America a service in trying to keep our children healthy and safe - by trying to promote honesty on the matter of sexuality.
CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS TRY TO BRING OLD TESTAMENT SEX LAWS TO AMERICA
SHOULD YOU GO TO JAIL FOR ORAL OR ANAL SEX? TRADITIONAL AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LAW SAYS YES
Not only are members of the religious right trying to impose biblical sexual morality, but in America, many biblical rules WERE the law until the 1970's. And even still, there are states with laws against oral and anal sex.
There are also politicians waging a vigorous campaign to protect and promote these laws. In 2013, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for the Governor of Virginia in 2013 tried to make oral sex illegal (Huffington Post).
If that isn't already insane, in the states of Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Kansas, it is legal to make love to a corpse, but not to engage in oral and anal sex with the living (Gawker).
RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION OF WOMEN
The bible has a plan for women, and it is this: shut up and learn to love your chains.
A TROUBLING HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION
The grim results of sick religious ideas for women, gays and the world
The wave of terror unleashed since Rome's conversion to Christianity in 395 A.D.
More troubling quotes.