January 16, 2005

Fresh on the blogroll

Every so often, I add something truly worthwhile to the blogroll. Ed, the author of Dispatches from the Culture Wars describes his blog rather simply as Thoughts From the Interface of Science, Religion, Law and Culture. What we have is a site which looks at fundie activities in the US and demolishes their arguments, with references and links to the relevant data. Two recent articles will demonstrate exactly what I mean. WorldNutDaily Stupidity on Teen Pregnancy analysies a piece in WorldNetDaily, a news site with a strong Christian bias, which made some shocking claims about teen pregnancy during the Clinton era--that teen pregnancy and abortion were at an all time high during that period, and that this was linked to improved sex education and increased condom use. So, Ed went and checked the stats:

Teen pregnancy declined throughout the 90s, from 116 per 1000 in 1990 to 85 per 1000 in 2000. That's the lowest it has been since 1976...

...How about the abortion rate, which McCullough also says was at an all time high under Clinton? Again, just the opposite is true. In 1990, the rate of abortions was 26.5 per 1000. In 2000, it was 14.5 per 1000.

The WorldNetDaily article also suggested that abstinence-only programmes had been a success. These basically tell kids not to have sex and don't tell them anything about contraception other than failure rates (and definitely nothing about how failure can occur). This is about as useful as suggesting you can avoid lung cancer by not breathing, and not mentioning that using tobacco might affect your chances. Here's the original claim: And on Bush's watch, the very administration she seems so intent on degrading, STD growth, teen pregnancy and abortion are all in sharp decline. Funny enough, the president's message is one of abstinence. And here is what the actual figures suggest:

Abstinence-only programs began in 1998, but the bulk of the decline in those rates occured between 1991 and 1997. Advocates for Youth analyzed the yearly numbers from the CDC and concluded: Sexual behaviors significantly improved from 1991 to 1997, but showed little change from 1999 to 2003 after the implementation of federally funded Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage initiatives in 1998. In fact, the percentage of sexually active high schoolers, which had dropped from 54.1% in 1991 to 45.6 in 2001 actually went back up to 46.7 in 2003.

Televangelists also find themselves under Ed's spotlight. Falwell and Robertson: Frauds? was written in response to a suggestion that the pair were basically sincere, if misguided. Really? His first example is a blatant lie from Pat Robertson:

In my reply to Mr. Stevenson's comment yesterday, I mentioned one example of Robertson's dishonesty and demagoguery. After his American Center for Law and Justice won the Lamb's Chapel case before the Supreme Court, Robertson went on national TV on his own show, the 700 Club, and declared this a great victory over the ACLU. The problem? The ACLU was on the same side in that case. The ACLU had filed a 15-page brief (and thank you to Mike Litrownik at the ACLU office for faxing me a copy of it) on behalf of Lamb's Chapel in which they argued that denying them access to the school facilities could not survive constitutional scrutiny because it was obviously viewpoint discrimination.

What Mr. Robertson said was a lie. It wasn't a mistake. The chief counsel of the ACLJ, who had argued the case before the Supreme Court, was standing right there next to him and could certainly have pointed out that the ACLU had filed a brief on behalf of their client; he did not. And it was a lie that could only have been told for a particular purpose: to distort the positions of the organization that his group relies upon as a boogey man in their fundraising efforts. Now that would be bad enough if this was just your run of the mill activist; the fact that this particular activist claims to speak both to and for God, and claims that all morality must flow from his own religious faith, it more than deserves the labal of a fraud. And, I would note, a fraud perpetrated upon the millions of followers who rely upon the truth of his word because they view him as a man of God.

And that's just the start, but you can enjoy the rest for yourself.

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This page contains a single entry by Feòrag published on January 16, 2005 1:40 PM.

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