Car Crashes Knocked Off By Suicide

From WebMD:

Suicide has overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.

English: Skull and crossbones

English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While public health efforts have curbed the number of car fatalities by 25% over the last decade, a new study shows suicide deaths rose by 15% during the same period.

“Comprehensive and sustained traffic safety measures have apparently substantially diminished the motor vehicle traffic mortality rate, and similar attention and resources are needed to reduce the burden of other injury,” researcher Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH of West Virginia University and colleagues write in theAmerican Journal of Public Health.

“Contrasting with disease mortality, the injury mortality rate trended upward during most of that decade,” write the researchers.

The top five leading causes of injury-related deaths were:

  1. Suicide
  2. Motor vehicle crashes
  3. Poisoning
  4. Falls
  5. Homicide

Researchers say the findings demonstrate that suicide is now a global public health issue.

And I would remind readers that LGBT youth attempt suicide at four times the rate of their peers. Notably because of intolerance, shame and fear perpetuated by ignorant institutions and people- sadly, many of them “Christians”.  So here’s a not-so-gentle reminder:

“…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble,
it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck,
and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” ~Matthew 18.6

Take Away From Last Night’s Gubernatorial Debate

Separation of church and state?

Playing “Chicken” In Billings

Jessica Mayrer wrote an article in today’s Missoula Independent about last week’s chicken stand-off in Billings. Money quote:‎

We have got to ratchet back emotion,” Laszloffy says.

Montana Human Rights Network gay rights activist Jamee Greer agrees that violence is never appropriate. However, he finds it ironic that Laszloffy, a man who has consistently branded gays as perverts, sinners and criminals, now wants to tone down the rhetoric. “He’s made his living off of demonizing, scapegoating and harassing LGBT community members,” Greer says. (emphasis mine)

Laszloffy has repeatedly ratcheted up the rhetoric at strategic points along his career- including making veiled threats to one Jamee Greer. See a few of them here.

Now he wants to ratchet back emotion? After stoking the fires of emotion against fellow citizens for years? Now he’s nervous?

Asshat.

Oh, and if anybody knows the identity of the ‘local caterer’ that provided the hate nuggets- I’d love to know, too. And probably so would a lot of people. I’m surprised it wasn’t pursued in the article.

That kind of masked stuff is so 1870’s….

“Ex-Gay” Reparative Therapy Thoroughly Debunked

From The Maddow Blog:

We have gotten some nice feedback about Wednesday’s segment (after the jump) on the ex-gay movement and Dr. Robert Spitzer’s controversial 2001 study asserting that reparative therapy can change some gay people to being straight. Dr. Spitzer is now on the record as saying he wishes he had never published the study in the first place. Our segment was inspired by Gabriel Arana’s piece in The American Prospect called “My So-Called Ex-Gay Life.” Arana first broke the news about Dr. Spitzer’s desire to retract his study. If you haven’t read his piece yet, you should. It’s great. He also talked with Rachel on Wednesday about the study and about his own experience in reparative therapy.

After the show, the American Psychoanalytic Association sent this e-mail:

This issue deserves coverage in the news as long as individuals and the “ex-gay movement” use faulty science and bias to advance their agenda. APsaA states in its 1999 position statement on reparative therapy that efforts to “convert” or “repair” an individual’s sexual orientation are against the fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized homophobic attitudes. We emphasize that anti-homosexual bias, just like any other societal prejudice, negatively affects mental health and contributes to feelings of stigma and low self-worth. Reparative therapy is nothing more than quackery fueled by bias.

Keep an eye out for a followup to Wednesday’s segment. We’re working on another story about Dr. Spitzer’s study and how it’s being used currently — even though Dr. Spitzer wishes he’d never published it — to further anti-gay causes.

Full post and video here.

Items From New Ways Ministry

New Ways Ministry Blog offers some items of interest to LGBT-inclusive Christians:

1) Sister Maureen Fiedler, who blogs for the National Catholic Reporter, comments on the passage of the Maryland marriage equality bill by suggesting that “Catholic bishops should read the writing on the wall for same-sex marriage.”

2) In a HuffingtonPost.com essay, Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, observes that “Same-Sex Marriage IS Dangerous — to Church Workers .”  She is commenting on the recent firing of a Catholic parish’s music director, whichBondings 2.0 reported on here.

3) North Carolina’s two Catholic bishops are among the supporters of a proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage heterosexually, according to “Both sides gear up in N.C. gay marriage fight,” which appeared on The Washington Post website.

4) Maryland’s Martin O’Malley and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, two Catholic governors who have opposing views about marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples, will square off on TV’s “Face the Nation,” Sunday, February 26, 2012, on CBS.  While the topic for their segment is the 2012 presidential race, since both governors have been so visible about marriage equality, it will likely come up as a topic of discussion.  For more details, check out The Washington Post’s article  “O’Malley, adversary Chris Christie booked on ‘Face the Nation.’ “

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Catholic Progressives: Speak Up!

From my friends over at New Ways Ministry:

From a Kensington.Patch.com article on marriage equality in Maryland entitled “O’Malley’s same-sex marriage bill to provide more religious protections” comes this quote which serves as a reminder that  Catholic progressives need to speak up to their civil and church leaders:

” ‘I’m getting some people that are calling me to say they don’t support it, and they’re coming from churches, mainly the Catholic Church,’ said Delegate James W. Hubbard (D-Prince George’s County), a bill supporter and member of the Health and Government Operations Committee and chair of the Public Health and Long-Term Care subcommittee.

” ‘I listen to everybody, and I’ve been here 20 years. Those who really get wound up on these things are the ones who call. The people who support these things don’t call,’ he said.”

Point taken. As ridiculously hard as it is sometimes, it’s heartening to remember that the Roman Catholic Church is not the official far right- it’s got a progressive side, too. And plenty of people who go to mass regularly identify as “liberal”. Not to mention the rich history of dissent that has, arguably, saved the church’s bacon on more than one occasion (see: Catherine of Siena).

Reminder: don’t let the right-wing hijack your churches. When any institution moves too far to one side, it not only becomes unbalanced, it begins to convince itself that it’s supposed to be leaning that way.

Catholics Defend The President

St. Peter's Basilica at Early Morning

Image via Wikipedia

It seems as if the Obama Administration’s rule change requiring that contraception (to those who want it) be insurance-paid commodities was seen to be a nuclear missile aimed directly at St. Peter’s in Rome.

But mostly just by the bishops…. The fuss! The hierarchy’s view of sexuality is- and has always been, about 160 years behind science- and popular understanding, not to mention practice. Humanae Vitae was the most dismal failure, in my opinion, to come out of the era of the Second Vatican Council. The chain attached to a wall in a room that no longer existed. (see below)

And some people realize that. In The Boston Globe today, Joan Vennochi says that the hierarchy is manufacturing a war against the president:

Last Sunday, the Catholic Church declared war on President Obama. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida quickly took up the cause, signaling the outlines of a serious religious rumble to come in 2012.

The president should be ready for the fight, knowing that on this one he is right.

At Sunday Mass, Catholic parishioners across the country were read letters denouncing the Obama administration’s recent decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges, and charities to offer health insurance coverage to employees for contraception and the “morning-after pill.’’ On Monday, Rubio, a Republican star who is often mentioned as a VP candidate, introduced a bill that would override the Obama policy by allowing religious institutions that morally oppose contraception to refuse to cover it.

But not all employees of Catholic institutions are Catholics. Why should their employers impose their religious beliefs on them and deny coverage for birth control and other medical care? As long as those Catholic institutions are getting taxpayer money, they should follow secular rules. That’s the Obama administration’s argument, and it makes sense.

But if truth is a casualty of war, reason is an even more specific casualty of culture war. Obama can’t let the other side frame the argument, which it is already doing in typically ferocious fashion.

…Obama isn’t trying to undermine Catholicism. He’s telling Catholic leaders they can’t regulate the beliefs of those of other faiths.

Keith Soko in The National Catholic Reporter agrees that a war is brewing but it may be one-sided:

But which Catholics would really be against providing access to contraceptives in health care coverage for women? Is it the 90-some percent of Catholic married couples of child-bearing age who use contraceptives? Is it the 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women who use contraceptives? No, it is not.

So who would it be? It must be a small minority.

One, of course, is the U.S. bishops and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy, including the Vatican. They are all men. In 1968, Pope Paul VI published the “birth control encyclical” called Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”), which affirmed the Catholic church’s opposition to contraception. This was in spite of the pope’s own commission, which voted 75 out of 90 in favor of changing the church’s teaching and allowing contraception for married couples. Immediately, Catholic theologians issued a statement arguing against the document’s methods and conclusions. Years later, the long pontificate of Pope John Paul II began, with him reaffirming the “official” Catholic teaching against contraception, despite the fact that most Catholic theologians disagreed and most Catholics rejected the teaching.

So, the bishops are taking moral “high ground”- which is designed to… well, what, exactly?  Soko gives us some insight:

If the U.S. bishops and the conservative Catholic and Christian media are going to appeal to “conscience,” then they better allow for the well-informed consciences of Catholics and non-Catholics who work at Catholic institutions to make their own decisions.

No one is forcing Catholics to use contraception. It is merely stating that they should have access to contraception. Many Catholic theologians have argued that it is a fair and just decision that respects the ability of Catholic and other women to follow their own consciences and make decisions as responsible adults about their own health care and that of their families.

And they also must respect the well-informed consciences of professors at academic universities whose job is the pursuit of knowledge and truth, and for some, the pursuit of justice as well. This includes Catholic theologians who are trying to give advice on improving the church. Since the bishops and others have introduced this into the public arena, they need to respect the consciences and expertise of those voices without the threat of job loss or excommunication.

This is not a question of teaching Catholic doctrine in a classroom; this is wrestling with public policy in a democratic and pluralistic society, and that can get messy. And Catholic teaching has in the past acknowledged that public policy and morality are two separate things. Everything that Catholic teaching argues is immoral is not illegal, as that would not always be practical public policy.

Which Catholics are really against providing contraceptive coverage? My guess is not many, but they are vocal. And probably most of them would be men. Men controlling women. History marches backward.

The bishops are always decrying “cafeteria catholicism”- for the way some pick and choose what they’d like to believe and practice. You gotta believe the whole package, they say. But their use of conscience is carefully controlled and shifty- picky and choosy, if you will. But not according to them.

Credibility, boys, credibility. The people will notice.

 “It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy
by a resort to mathematics,
though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.”
~H.L. Mencken

Reasonable Evangelicals Disavow “Fundamentalist Rejection Of Reason”

Today’s Op-Ed piece in by Karl Giberson and Randall J Stephens in The NYT is a piece well worth reading.

For many people, “Evangelical Christian” has become code for “Christian, anti-scientist”. The writers of todays column point out that this isn’t necessarily so- or fair. The vocal minority who claim Evangelical Christianity are, in fact, not so. They are Fundamentalists. Excerpt:

Like other evangelicals, we accept the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ and look to the Bible as our sacred book, though we find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation. Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary. (emphasis mine)

Fundamentalism is dangerous. In case you have forgotten, Fundamentalists were the ones who hijacked and piloted planes into the World Trade Center. Of a different religion, yes, but adhering to the same principles. The writers haven’t forgotten, and they are reminding the rest of the world that these few don’t speak for the rest:

Americans have always trusted in God, and even today atheism is little more than a quiet voice on the margins. Faith, working calmly in the lives of Americans from George Washington to Barack Obama, has motivated some of America’s finest moments. But when the faith of so many Americans becomes an occasion to embrace discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas, we must not be afraid to speak out, even if it means criticizing fellow Christians.

Amen.

Hate, cont.

And now it’s coming from a so-called Christian church.

The Westboro Baptist Church- known for their “God hates Fags” signs at military funerals, has decided to picket Steve Jobs funeral. The Tweet:

Classy.

Never any mention of grace, love or hope from these people- just shameless grandstanding in the name of an “angry, hating” God.

I’m pretty sure Jesus would throw up.