Monday, October 17, 2011

Pink Ties and Little White Lies

It is fashionable these days to show one's support for breast cancer research by going "pink." The NFL does it. My employer promotes it by allowing our pilots to wear pink ties with their normally dull black and white uniforms, while flight attendants get to wear pink shirts and blue jeans to work. Even some of our airplanes sport pink paint jobs for the cure. It is a great cause to seek to eradicate a horrible disease and I fully support the effort.

All that said, and at the risk of making myself the bad guy by throwing cold water on the cause, I believe it is imperative that those who choose to support the cause are aware of the full story behind breast cancer's most notable and public opponent -- the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This is an organization that does great work but, as my colleague at the Life Training Institute, Jay Watts, has put it, it has become more supportive of a narrative its friends follow about the world than the cause it is meant to champion.

My beef with Susan G. Komen is that, by its own admission:
"Annually, Komen Affiliates fund programs that provide breast health education and breast screenings for hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured, or medically under-served women via nearly 2,000 local organizations, including 19 Planned Parenthood programs."
Since this admission is buried deep in the Komen website and very difficult to find, I can save you the trouble. You can read Komen's full statement about this issue here: (Planned Parenthood Letter). Interestingly, in the place where this letter is found you can also read another letter from a north Texas pro-lifer who also supports Komen. In his letter, Norman Roberts assures us that:
As Christians, we have special obligations toward the less well-off. Those obligations would include doing what we reasonably can to see that these women get the needed mammograms. We could and should advocate that Komen affiliates make grants to groups untainted by abortion. We could donate to alternate groups directly, but there is a logical trap here. No matter how we fund these programs, in theory it frees objectionable groups of the burden and allows them to use other money for immoral purposes. The alternative is to force women to apply for needed services through groups we find unacceptable or not get the services at all. The grants in question represent a tiny fraction of the funds Komen raises, all of which, as best I can determine, go to an unequivocally noble cause.
He also makes the claim that the funds allocated by Komen to Planned Parenthood are audited carefully to ensure that they are only used for breast cancer screenings etc. I have no reason to doubt this. But it does not take much of an imagination to see that Planned Parenthood's ability to fund abortion "services" is enhanced by income they receive from foundations like Komen, even if those funds are designated for another purpose.

Both Roberts and Komen justify the foundation's support of Planned Parenthood by allowing the noble narrative of "caring for the poor" to trump the mission Komen claims to pursue because the questionable programs are only "a tiny fraction" of the immoral work that Planned Parenthood does. This is the most tragic and egregious aspect of this story -- Komen and its donors downplay their support of Planned Parenthood even as Planned Parenthood continues to promote both abortion and abortifacient oral contraceptives (OC) that increase the risk of breast cancer to women who use them. Research confirms the fact that:
women who start OCs before age 18 multiply their risk of TNBC by 3.7 times and recent users of OCs within the last one to five years multiply their risk by 4.2 times. TNBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer associated with high mortality. 
"Although the study was published nine months ago," observed Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer," the NCI, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other cancer fundraising businesses have made no efforts to reduce breast cancer rates by issuing nationwide warnings to women." (Source: Medical News Today story, "Researcher Finally Admits Abortion Raises Breast Cancer Risk In Study That Fingers Oral Contraceptives As A Probable Cause Of Breast Cancer")
Subsidizing a "tiny fraction" of a moral evil still constitutes a moral evil. Caring for and assisting poor women with the means to protect and prevent breast cancer does not entail providing that subsidy. Please continue to "go pink." Please, please, please, by all means, donate your time, talents and finances to support the fight against breast cancer. But, until it makes the choice to end its connection with Planned Parenthood, offer that support to any source except the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Answering The Same Sex "Marriage" Question

If you want to hear the questions same-sex "marriage" proponents are asking ... and also get a clinic in how to respond to each of them, I suggest the Stand To Reason podcast of October 3, 2011 (available by clicking on the date in preceding link)

Greg Koukl's discussion with a caller on this issue begins at 2:15:45 and continues to 2:33:02. It is an especially clear and concise response. In this exchange, Greg does not address the biblical or moral aspects of the question -- there are other places to obtain that kind of information. He only speaks to the secular, legal case against same-sex "marriage." I think it is something anyone who is serious about being able to discuss the issue should hear. Check it out if you're interested.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Biblical Glass Houses?

Monday is religious opinion day in today's USA Today "Forum" section. Though there are occasionally some fair, thoughtful articles here, this weekly column is usually my go-to source for blogging material -- and usually not because the column in question is fair to Christianity. Today is one of those days.

Tom Krattenmaker's ("a Portland-based writer specializing in religion and public life") piece is titled, "Holy Texts As Unholy Weapons," and its tagline warns us that "Whether it's the Bible or the Quran, believers must police acts of good and evil" -- the point being that the books associated with the two incompatible (editor's note) religions are really not all that different. "Let's face it," says Krattenmaker, "Whether it's Christians or Muslims, stone-throwers ought to realize that their own houses are glass." Both the Bible and the Quran have an equal culpability for condoning and justifying the violence and gruesomeness they contain. Being good pluralists, we should realize this and never engage in the:
too-common practice ... of plucking certain passages from the Quran (while ignoring the many peace-preaching verses) and marshaling them as "proof" that Islam is inherently violent.
Well, I am not one whose innocence allows me to throw stones. But I also reject the idea that Krattenmaker's admonition leaves me stranded in a glass house. I have written a little on this topic before (here and here), so I just want to respond with two points.

First, there is no doubt that the biblical passages that record God's command to wipe the Amalekites and Amorites off the face of the earth are emotionally difficult to defend. When the Israelites are told to destroy every man, woman, and child of some tribe, it is hard to square with our view of a loving God we honor and serve. But there are a few things to note here:
  • The utter evil that infused these cultures is hard to imagine. These were people who sacrificed small children by burning them alive. They had been given multiple chances to change their ways and warnings about what would befall them if they didn't. The sacrificial and sexually-charged societies (to include the practice of bestiality) they represented had infused these practices into many generations of inhabitants and there was every indication that their ways of thinking had infected the mindset of the entire society.
  • God also allowed his own people, the Israelites, to be decimated when they took up these same  practices of the abhorrently evil cultures that surrounded them.
  • The language that is used is obviously hyperbole. How do I know this? As Paul Copan points out in his recent book, Is God a Moral Monster?, the same people who were supposed to be obliterated in these relentless attacks continue to crop up later in biblical history! The simple fact is that these instructions were not carried out to the extent the language suggests they were.
We rightfully cringe at the command to obliterate an entire community of people, and I do not in any way diminish our responsibility to explain these difficult biblical passages. Nor do I relish having to do so myself. But the simple fact is that the loving, bearded, white-robed God we want to imagine as a our cosmic grandfather is also the Creator of the universe. He not only brought all reality into existence and can therefore do with it as He pleases, but his perfection demands that justice be done for those who rebel against Him. Justice is a scary concept when you are on the deserving end. And justice is not fairness. In fact, those who are pardoned of their rebellion against God get precisely what they do not deserve. If anyone is being treated unfairly in these stories, it is those who are spared from God's justice.

Second, conduct a thought experiment for a minute by considering the teachings of Jesus. Which of those teachings would lead one to believe that following Him entailed engaging in the violent behavior that Islamists perpetuate every day? The answer of course is, "None."

What Krattenmaker conveniently leaves out of his admonition against "proof-texting" the Quran, is the doctrine of abrogation that the Quran explicitly spells out. As I've said before:
This Islamic doctrine claims states that those parts of the Quran written after 622 AD (when Muhammad returned to Medina) overrule earlier verses. When you read these passages you find that it is the later passages that contain the commands to:
  • "fight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war" (Surah 9, verse 5) or ... 
  • "Fight those who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor So, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth (Islam), even if they are of the 40 people of the Book, until they pay the jizya (Islamic tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."
These passages are not "proof-texts" that are used to ignore the peaceful passages we find in the Quran; they are passages that the Quran itself says have been abrogated by Muhammed's newer, more violent, teachings.

Yes there are gruesome passages in the Bible. But these are descriptive passages that tell us the story of what happened in history. Conversely, the violence of the Quran is prescriptive of the remedies Muhammed passed down for his followers to carry out on the infidels that defied his teachings. One has to betray the teachings of Jesus to engage in violence. But when Muslims engage in violence, they are simply following Muhammed's prescription for the perpetuation of Islam.

One doesn't have to live in a glass house to see the difference.


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