I’m delighted to report that the pledge drive to fund Ari Armstrong’s and my new policy paper in defense of abortion rights is rolling along on schedule. So far, we’ve received 28 pledges for $1,560. That’s over the threshold — HOORAY! So thank you, thank you to everyone who has pledged so far!

However, I’d love to collect a bit more in funds before tomorrow’s deadline, if possible. Why? First, some people don’t pay their pledges, so I’d like a bit of wiggle room for that. Second, I’d love to use any extra funds to promote the paper after it’s completed. Third, a bit more money raised would be good for CSG’s court challenge to Colorado’s campaign finance laws.

You have until tomorrow at midnight to pledge. Please do pledge, if you want to support this project! Any amount is welcome, and your pledge is not due until the paper is published on September 17th.

You can find out more about Colorado’s 2014 “personhood” ballot measure here. If you have any questions about the project or pledging, please email me.

Here are some of the comments that people have made while pledging… which I’m sharing because I appreciate them so much:

While we need staunch defense of abortion rights everywhere, this project is of personal interest to me because my daughters live in Colorado, and I want them to have the fullest protection of their rights possible there.

Thank you for using sane reasoning to argue for positions that I care about. I support your cause, and wish that as a student I could contribute more. Hopefully soon as a professional I can help more.

It’s very important that you write this. Personhood laws destroy reproductive rights, and destroys Republicans’ commitment to and reputation for supporting freedom and individual rights.

I am looking forward to the updated paper. I found the original very interesting and informative.

Keep up the good work! Look forward to the update and to the defeat of Amendment 67.

Me too!! Again, please pledge before tomorrow at midnight if you want to support the writing and promotion of a new paper in defense of abortion rights!

 

After a hiatus in 2012, I’m sorry to report that “Personhood for Zygotes” is on the ballot again in Colorado in 2014. However, I’m pleased to announce that Ari Armstrong and I will update 2010 policy paper in defense of abortion rights in light of the very much changed political landscape. Once again, we need your support to make that happen!


Colorado’s New “Personhood for Zygotes” Amendment

Despite the defeats of “personhood” measures in 2008 and 2010, the crusaders against abortion rights have returned with yet another attempt to grant the full legal rights of personhood to fertilized eggs.

The ballot question reads:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings? (Full Text)

If successful, this measure would outlaw therapeutic and elective abortions, common fertility treatments, and popular forms of birth control. It would subject women and their doctors to intrusive police controls and unjust criminal prosecutions. It would force Coloradoans to abide by the deeply religious and sectarian view that the fertilized egg is imbued with rights from God.

Due to its misleading wording — particularly its talk of “protecting pregnant women” — 2014′s Amendment 67 will likely fare significantly better in the polls than the “personhood” amendments proposed in 2008 and 2010. It’s unlikely to pass, but that doesn’t mean that abortion rights are secure. The dangerous ideology of “personhood” has spread like wildfire in the past four years among religious conservatives. In the 2012 presidential election, every Republican candidate except Mitt Romney endorsed “personhood for zygotes.”

The ideology of “personhood for zygotes” must be steadfastly opposed — based on a firm understanding of rights in pregnancy — not merely because “it goes too far.”


Support a 2014 Paper in Defense of Abortion Rights

To combat the dangerous ideology of “personhood” and defend abortion rights on principle, Ari Armstrong and I will publish a new version of their policy paper on the “personhood” movement. The updates to the paper will focus on the new language in 2014′s Amendment 67, the widespread embrace of “personhood” by the Republican Party in the 2012 election, the synergy between “incremental” and “personhood” approaches to abortion bans, the defeat of a “personhood” amendment in Mississippi, and more.

However, that work depends on your support! The update to the paper will only go forward if at least $1500 is pledged by August 20th. That will help pay for the many hours of work this update will require. If sufficient funds are pledged, the 2014 paper will be published by September 17th.

So, if you want to help defend abortion rights in this 2014 election, please pledge! Any amount is welcome, and your pledge is not due until the paper is published.

Note: Due to efforts of the Center for Competitive Politics on CSG’s behalf, I hope that she will not have to report on funds collected for this project, as she’s been obliged to do in prior elections. Time — or rather the judge — will tell. In any case, pledges for this paper are helping us have a viable case with which to challenge Colorado’s onerous campaign finance laws.

If you have any questions about the project or pledging, please email me.

Jun 122014
 

Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers:

In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a six-foot stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam.

Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.

More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.

That — and the abuse, neglect, and ostracism suffered by these children detailed in the article — is a painful reminder of the evil of stigmatizing children born out of wedlock. Speaking generally, raising children is difficult and demanding work — mentally, emotionally, and financially. I see the value of bearing and raising children within the stability and support of a family — particularly in less wealthy cultures where women don’t have the resources or capacity to raise and support a child on their own. Yet that’s a far cry from demanding that any pregnant woman marry her sperm donor, regardless of his suitability as a husband. And it’s light years away from subjecting innocent children to the torture of abandonment, neglect, abuse, ostracism, and perhaps death because their life is the result of religious sin.

This is one of the many ways in which western culture is so much better than it was, even just 100 years ago. I don’t want to go back!

Update: The burial location wasn’t a septic tank, as this Forbes article explains, but instead a kind of mass grave:

Today the Irish Times has published a reader’s letter that has further undercut the story. Finbar McCormick, a professor of geography at Queen’s University Belfast, sharply admonished the media for describing the children’s last resting place as a septic tank. He added: “The structure as described is much more likely to be a shaft burial vault, a common method of burial used in the recent past and still used today in many part of Europe.

“In the 19th century, deep brick-lined shafts were constructed and covered with a large slab which often doubled as a flatly laid headstone. These were common in 19th-century urban cemeteries…..Such tombs are still used extensively in Mediterranean countries. I recently saw such structures being constructed in a churchyard in Croatia. The shaft was made of concrete blocks, plastered internally and roofed with large concrete slabs.

That’s all well and good, but not really essential to the point that I’m making about the story. Honestly, I don’t care too much about how the dead bodies were treated: I care about how living people — pregnant girls, mothers, and children — were treated. That’s not under dispute.

The Head Covering Movement

 Posted by on 6 December 2013 at 10:00 am  Christianity, Feminism, Religion
Dec 062013
 

When I first read the whole Bible a few years ago, I wondered when all those Bible-focused Christians would rediscover the very clear command that women cover their heads in church in 1 Corinthians 11:

I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head–it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious–we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

And… it’s happened, as you can see for yourself at the web site of The Head Covering Movement. (The site looks of recent origin, and the domain was only registered earlier this year.) Of course, feminism is to blame:

The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church…? – R.C. Sproul

On a bright note, I’d much prefer that Christians resume the biblical practice of covering or not covering their heads during church than that they resume the practice of stoning people like rebellious sons, suspected witches, and blasphemers!

Three Harangues

 Posted by on 26 November 2013 at 10:00 am  Marriage, Personal, Religion, Sports
Nov 262013
 

Last night, I harangued Paul Hsieh about the following topics:

(1) The wrong of his checking “chicken thighs” off our joint online Costco grocery list, when we need them every trip and I nearly forgot to buy them today due to his checking them off last time. *

(2) The moral wrong of making nasty comments about pro athletes — as opposed to mere observations or criticisms. You can be a sports fan without being a jerk! Alas, I was informed that such a crusade is probably pretty hopeless.

(3) The utter moral insanity of the whole religious mindset in which God creates the universe and mankind, demands that people obey and worship him without anything remotely resembling decent evidence for even his existence, and then condemns people to eternal torment if they fail to do so.

Yup, just another evening Chez Hsieh.

* I decided to harangue Paul about the chicken thighs because I’ve discovered that he has just two modes: (1) ignoring my request, to the point of not remembering that I ever said any such thing to him or (2) remembering and heeding the request, but poking fun at me for making such a big deal of it. I prefer the latter, so I gave him a long and loud hand-wavey diatribe about chicken thighs, which he proceeded to pretend to ignore. However, I know that he’ll remember it… and remind me of said diatribe every time he goes to Costco for at least a few years.

Strange Email Du Jour

 Posted by on 19 September 2013 at 10:00 am  Mental Illness, Philosophy, Religion
Sep 192013
 

On Tuesday, I received an email that began as follows:

I am working with author Steven Colborne on the upcoming publication of his new book ‘Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion’ on the 16th September and I thought I would get in touch as thought this might be of interest to you as Steven is currently based in South West London.

Oh right, I’m going to be interested in a book because the author is “currently based in South West London.” REALLY?

Even better, check out the description of the book:

This is the second book from the author, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder. His first book ‘The Philosophy of a Mad Man’ was published in 2012 and documents his desperate search for spiritual enlightenment following the traumatic death of his mother to cancer. The journey ends with a ‘coming home’ to Christianity and the realisation that the quest for enlightenment rarely ends with finding it, but does often reveal what causes one to search for enlightenment in the first place.

Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion is the next stage in Steven’s journey. It was inspired by a third spell in a psychiatric hospital in 2011, during the completion of Steven’s postgraduate studies in Philosophy and Religion at Heythrop College in London. During this time, Steven began to question his Christian faith and realised that it didn’t properly equate with his views and experiences of God.

Might I suggest that schizophrenia is a brain/mental disorder, not a ticket to insight into the nature of the universe?

Aug 262013
 

This is horrifying… and fascinating: Third of teens in Amman, Jordan, condone honor killings, study says. Here’s the horrifying part:

Almost half of boys and one in five girls in Jordan’s capital city, Amman, believe that killing a woman who has “dishonored,” or shamed, her family is justifiable, a study of teenagers’ attitudes published Thursday revealed. A third of all teenagers involved in the study by researchers at Britain’s Cambridge University advocated so-called honor murders.

Here’s the fascinating part:

A key finding was that support for honor crimes was not connected to religious beliefs, but is far more likely in adolescent boys with low education backgrounds from traditional families.

It’s easy to blame Islam for honor killings and other atrocities… but it’s not clear to me that such is true or fair. Alas, the case cannot be made by pointing to the violence in the founding of Islam or in its texts. The history and texts of Christianity or Judaism bear little resemblance to the ways that these religions are practiced today.

That’s not to say that I regard Islam in any kind of positive way. My point is simply that I don’t regard it as inherently or inexorably worse than any other religion. Like all religions, it’s influence will run from mildly bad to horrifically awful, depending on the ways in which people choose to attend to, interpret, alter, and apply its ideas.

People have free will, and they exercise it in all kinds of strange and unexpected ways… even with regard to their fundamental religious and philosophical beliefs.

The Natural World Through Christian Eyes

 Posted by on 20 August 2013 at 10:00 am  Christianity, Religion, Science
Aug 202013
 

I just finished listening to the classic allegorical novel of protestantism, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. It was truly atrocious, even aside from the Christianity. I cannot imagine Christians finding any value in it… and yet it is a classic.

The worst — and hence, the best — bit was the following passage on the proper Christian interpretations of natural phenomena:

It was told you before, that Prudence bid the boys, that if at any time they would, they should ask her some questions that might be profitable and she would say something to them.

Then Matthew, who had been sick, asked her, why for the most part physic should be bitter to our palates.

Prudence: To show how unwelcome the word of God and the effects thereof are to a carnal heart.

Matthew: Why does physic, if it does good, purge, and cause to vomit?

Prudence: To show that the word, when it works effectually, cleanseth the heart and mind. For look, what the one doth to the body, the other doth to the soul.

Matthew: What should we learn by seeing the flame of our fire go upwards, and by seeing the beams and sweet influences of the sun strike downwards?

Prudence: By the going up of the fire, we are taught to ascend to heaven by fervent and hot desires. And by the sun sending his heat, beams, and sweet influences downwards, we are taught the Saviour of the world, though high, reaches down with his grace and love to us below.

Matthew: Whence have the clouds their water?

Prudence: Out of the sea.

Matthew: What may we learn from that?

Prudence: That ministers should fetch their doctrine from God.

Matthew: Why do they empty themselves upon the earth?

Prudence: To show that ministers should give out what they know of God to the world.

Matthew: Why is the rainbow caused by the sun?

Prudence: To show that the covenant of God’s grace is confirmed to us in Christ.

Matthew: Why do the springs come from the sea to us through the earth?

Prudence: To show that the grace of God comes to us through the body of Christ.

Matthew: Why do some of the springs rise out of the tops of high hills?

Prudence: To show that the Spirit of grace shall spring up in some that are great and mighty, as well as in many that are poor and low.

Matthew: Why doth the fire fasten upon the candle-wick?

Prudence: To show that unless grace doth kindle upon the heart, there will be no true light of life in us.

Matthew: Why are the wick, and tallow and all, spent to maintain the light of the candle?

Prudence: To show that body and soul, and all, should be at the service of, and spend themselves to maintain in good condition that grace of God that is in us.

Matthew: Why doth the pelican pierce her own breast with her bill?

Prudence: To nourish her young ones with her blood, and thereby to show that Christ the blessed so loved his young, (his people,) as to save them from death by his blood.

Matthew: What may one learn by hearing the cock to crow?

Prudence: Learn to remember Peter’s sin, and Peter’s repentance. The cock’s crowing shows also, that day is coming on: let, then, the crowing of the cock put thee in mind of that last and terrible day of judgment.

What can anyone say to that?!? Except perhaps… LORDY!

Jul 242013
 

Um, wow:

What will the Catholic Church be like in AD 2,978? My New Novel

I’m writing a new novel and I’m excited about it. I feel alive when I write it.

What if the global economy and currency collapsed and all first world nations lost control?

What if the Pope were the only global leader who could rally humans to order and civilization?

Add to all this a world-wide miracle of the sun in fulfillment of the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart. A miracle that converts billions to the Faith and reveals the way to clean, inexhaustible energy.

By AD 2900, humans have discovered inhabitable planets in the distant corners fo the galaxy. All humans are Catholic. They speak Latin as the universal common tongue of humanity. But they eventually discover something in space that could undermine the very foundations of humanity and the Catholic Church – or perhaps secure it. Pope Gregory XIX resigns the papacy in AD 2978 for the first time since Pope Benedict XVI in AD 2013. What had become an intergalactic Christendom begins to crumble.

That’s the plot. It’s an apocalypse that takes place in the distant future with technology that we have never experienced.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You can read more here.

Grumpy Cat Versus Illiterate Religious Spam

 Posted by on 15 May 2013 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Religion
May 152013
 

I always delete random illiterate religious spam from Philosophy in Action’s Facebook Page … but not until I’ve made proper fun of it.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha