I recently read the following in The Guardian:
Schoolgirls are being denied a potentially life-saving cervical cancer jab at their schools on religious grounds.
Some schools in England have opted out of the HPV vaccination programme because their pupils follow strict Christian principles and do not have sex outside marriage. The jab guards against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus – 16 and 18 – which cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. It is offered routinely to girls aged 12 to 13.
The reasons schools gave for not giving the jab included “not in keeping with the school ethos”, “pupils follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practise sex outside marriage” and “the school does not want parents/students to feel pressured by peers or the school setting”.
Every year, 1,000 women in the UK die from cervical cancer.
The fact that girls are being denied this vaccine is important, as it hinders the ability to generate “herd immunity” using the vaccine, something it has recently been shown to do (cite, cite).
These actions are of course par for the course for religious conservatives. Whenever some medical advance has arisen to make women’s lives easier, some religious dipshit has been there opposing it, abusing, hurting, or otherwise oppressing women. In the US, the same objections— by preventing a common STD, HPV vaccine was creating “a licence to engage in premarital sex” (cite)— were raised. Those people are the successors to the people who objected to using antibiotics to treat other STD’s, to anesthetic in parturition, and that Plan B would lead to “sex–based cults” (cite). Since almost the beginning of history and probably before, religious conservatives have been seeking to control women’s sexuality.
Maybe these people truly believe that these girls will never be raped and will never have premarital sex. If that is the case then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them because they are hopelessly naive. Or maybe they really want some sort of metaphorical stick to wave over people’s heads because they see it as more important that people not engage in premarital sex than in not getting cancer. If that is the case then Dan Savage seems more and more correct.
John Cole has written a brilliant post about the negative influence of fundamentalism and conservative Christianity on US society (via). An excerpt (links removed):
But from where I stand these days, the only thing I see religion doing in the public sector is gay bashing and telling women, mostly poor and desperate and in deplorable financial and personal situations, what to do with their bodies. I see busybodies deciding what drugs they can dispense to which customers, or deciding that they don’t have to issue a marriage license because of some petty deity that I don’t believe in told them to hate their fellow citizens and ignore the law. In a country in dire financial straits but still spending billions and billions of dollars on education, I see religious folks actively and openly working to make our schoolkids dumber. I see them shooting people who provided a medical procedure, and I see others rummaging through people’s personal lives to find out who hasn’t lived up the word of God. I see glassy-eyed fools running for President claiming that vaccines that save lives actually cause cancer, or that if you get raped and are pregnant, you should just lie back and think of Jeebus and make the best of a bad situation. In fact, everywhere you look these days, if Christianity or religion is getting a mention, it means something ugly is happening and someone somewhere is being victimized, marginalized, or otherwise abused. Go read some of the arguments against integration and you’ll see the same bible verses used today against homosexuals. Fifty years from now, they’ll be recycling them again to trash someone else they don’t like or who isn’t good enough for them.
Read the rest of it.
Today, a national association of brick–and–mortar and online retails declared victory in the War on Christmas. A press release was issued to mark the occasion:
Today is a great day in the history of capitalism, business, and the United States. Retailers decades long effort to redefine Christmas have been successful. What once was a religious holiday has successfully transformed into a commercialized and consumerized glorified shopping spree. And no wingnut can really complain, as Christmas was the bastardized descendant of the Roman festival of Saturnalia and various winter solstice observances. A careful reading of the Bible reveals evidence that implies that Jesus was probably born in late summer or early autumn. Therefore, our victory in the War on Christmas in no way is an attack on any religion.
The press release gave special thanks one group:
We would like to give special thanks to our moles in the National Association of Perennially Pissed off Wingnuts for distracting them from our real objective. Everyone knows that the phrase “Happy Holidays” merely began as a shortening of “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” However, our agents, by reminding wingnuts that the phrase “Happy Holidays” could also apply to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other winter holidays, and by making wingnuts think it was a politically correct attack on Christianity, allowed us to distract our enemies with an irrelevant diversion, therefore allowing us to focus on our real objective.
Shorter GOP in Michigan Senate: “It’s okay to bully in the name of Jesus.”
A bill was recently passed by the Michigan Senate. It is a purported anti–bullying bill, but in reality the bill basically protects those who bully based on moral convictions:
This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.
In other words, it’s a how to bully act.
In addition, while IANAL, the law protects sincerely held beliefs, including those by teachers. If a teachers sincerely believes that people in group X are going to burn in hell forever, this law seems to protect those statements. Hence, the la looks like it also serves as a backdoor way to legalize proselytization in school, therefore violating the Establishment Clause.
Via Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
Update: The section in question has been dropped from the bill (via).