The Paradox of Freedom and the Christian

The history of the American experiment is making it less possible for Christians to live ignorant of the moral condition of our societal context. The Rev. Bart Day from the Office of National Mission of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, put it this way in his public response concerning the Planned Parenthood atrocities that are coming to light:

Today let us confess life with renewed vigor — to our friends over supper, through letters to the editor of our local paper, by writing our congressmen, in tweets and emails to Planned Parenthood, on our Facebook pages.

Let us pray that our Lord would bring an end to abortion altogether and that He would stop the horrible sale of infant bodies.

And let us pray that He would forgive us, renew us and bolster us to make a good confession in season and out of season: one that is always, no matter what, for life.

As I reflected on the news of the last couple of days while watching Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s acceptance speech after receiving the Arthur Ashe Award on the ESPY’s, my mind reeled trying to process the current zeitgeist of America. Then through the darkness, there shined a bright ray of commonality between it all. I do not just mean a commonality between Jenner and Planned Parenthood, but a commonality that traces back to the beginning of time – the idolatry of freedom.

God told Adam and Eve that they are free to eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden except the one that was in the middle. And placing freedom above divine mandate –  fearing, loving, and trusting freedom above God, if you will – they fell into sin as did the whole creation with them. So why are we surprised when the same ideas are expressed within a creation that is afflicted with the same sickness.

Throughout the entire abortion debate, pro-choice advocates cast their arguments in light of freedom. Whenever one opposes abortion, that person opposes the freedom of a woman to do with her body as she wishes. Is there anything that is more “anti-American” than opposing freedom? Whenever one speaks out against homosexuality, transgenderism, promiscuity, fornication, co-habitation, adultery, or anything else the Bible would call sin or a result of sin, that person is opposes the freedom of a person to be happy, love who they love, be true to themselves, etc. Is there anything more hateful than limiting someone’s freedom?

The hard answer to all of these questions is the fact that we are not called to be free or American (in this sense of the word). We are called to be God’s. Our freedom ends where it conflicts with the Word of God. Freedom is not all that it is cracked up to be. Freedom to ourselves means freedom from all that would confine us. Freedom to ourselves means freedom from God, and it does not take long for a Scripturally-minded Christian to see how scary of a place that is. If you want to see what freedom from God looks like, take a look at Christ on the cross. This is where God turns His back on His Son because of the sin of the world that He bears. It is where He turns His back on the one who bears our sins. All of them. It is in submission to God’s Law that we find repentance. It is in repentance that we find forgiveness. All of us. So to deify and laud those who celebrate freedom to themselves above obedience to God, is succumbing to Satan’s old tricks.

We cannot ignore this anymore. We cannot live as if we are of the world. We are not. We are of God. Let us find comfort, courage and peace in His blessings. His Word. His Sacrament. These are for you. Forgiveness and strength are found when we gather, we pray, we praise, and we give thanks. In this forgiveness there is true freedom. Freedom to be the people of God.


NaBloPoMo #2 – Logical Inconsistency #2434: Abortion and Politics

Thanks to The College ConservativeI came across this wonderful OpEd from the New York Times by Thomas Friedman defending the reasons that he is pro-life as a Democrat. However, over the course of his tirade against “conservative America”, he makes some statements and some conclusions that are logically inconsistent… in fact, they are hypocritical and offensive to those of us that believe in the sanctity of human life [Oh, and by sanctity of human life, I mean that life is holy… created by God… something to be respected, nurtured, and praised]. I have the entire article linked above so you can read it in context. I also have linked the response by Keith Fierro over at The College Conservative. However, I will be addressing his article in its entirety below.

HARD-LINE conservatives have gone to new extremes lately in opposing abortion. Last week, Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed Republican Senate candidate in Indiana, declared during a debate that he was against abortion even in the event of rape because after much thought he “came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” That came on the heels of the Tea Party-backed Republican Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois saying after a recent debate that he opposed abortion even in cases where the life of the mother is in danger, because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would not survive without an abortion. “Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime, for any reason,” Walsh said. That came in the wake of the Senate hopeful in Missouri, Representative Todd Akin, remarking that pregnancy as a result of “legitimate rape” is rare because “the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.”

These were not slips of the tongue. These are the authentic voices of an ever-more-assertive far-right Republican base that is intent on using uncompromising positions on abortion to not only unseat more centrist Republicans — Mourdock defeated the moderate Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana in the primary — but to overturn the mainstream consensus in America on this issue. That consensus says that those who choose to oppose abortion in their own lives for reasons of faith or philosophy should be respected, but those women who want to make a different personal choice over what happens with their own bodies should be respected, and have the legal protection to do so, as well.

Here is the first logical inconsistency in this article. It is called a “straw-man argument“. It is where someone takes a radical form of a position or mischaracterizes a position in order to easily defeat with “sound logic and reason”. He uses the ill-spoken and/or idiosyncratic quips of politicians in order to show how crazy the conservatives in America are. American conservatives just won’t compromise on the murder of unborn children. Don’t you know we should all compromise a little?

There is also a bit of a mischaracterization when he states, “That consensus says that those who choose to oppose abortion in their own lives for reasons of faith or philosophy should be respected, but those women who want to make a different personal choice over what happens with their own bodies should be respected, and have the legal protection to do so, as well.” The problem with this issue is that abortion is not an issue about the rights of a mother. It is about the rights of the child who has no one to represent it. It is not about the legal protection that I want to express my beliefs and faith. It is about the right of that child to live, breathe, and grow… you know things that are pivotal to the “American Dream”. Abortion is not about a woman’s right to her body. It is about the rights of a human being that is being killed because it is inconvenient [for whatever reason].

So way to go, Mr. Friedman! You have misrepresented 95% of conservative Americans, but… please continue.

But judging from the unscientific — borderline crazy — statements opposing abortion that we’re hearing lately, there is reason to believe that this delicate balance could be threatened if Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan, and their even more extreme allies, get elected. So to those who want to protect a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, let me offer just one piece of advice: to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.

In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”

A huge distortion? Really? But calling the views of fellow Americans “crazy” is not a distortion? Sorry. I am getting distracted. Let me continue. Oh wait… obviously Mr. Friedman is distracted too. Now we are talking about gun control. Oh… I get it. Because I am a conservative and don’t support gun control… But wait… what if I do? Yes. Believe it or not some conservatives do support gun control. I am not saying if I am one of them or not, but some do. Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that I do oppose gun control. How is that remotely like opposing abortion? The right to bear arms is a constitutional amendment. It is my right. It does not specify which guns… it just says that I am allowed to bear arms. Period. My right to own weapons IS PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION. At least there is an amendment that gives the mother the right to kill her child. Oh wait. There is no such constitutional right. Even if you try to connect the scattered thoughts of Mr. Friedman, they are logically incongruous.

“Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.” And there is no way that respect for the sanctity of life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s body, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.

The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth. That radical narrowing of our concern for the sanctity of life is leading to terrible distortions in our society.

Once again, I feel like I am being pigeon-holed. I never said that I didn’t care about the environment. But I guess, I will go back to driving my 10mpg diesel Hummer, and burning coal in my furnace. This is just insane logic. Look, I totally understand the holistic approach to life for which we should be aiming. Yes, I understand the idea of making all life holy and caring for it. However, along with Keith Fierro, I would ask Mr. Friedman to produce me a list of all of the climate scientists. I want to see a list of the 99% and a list of the 1% that do not sign off on it. To quote Fierro from his treatment of this article.

Second, I’d like to hear him address the statements made by MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen, and the plethora of other scientists that think climate change is nothing to worry about.

Well, I guess Mr. Lindzen (I presume Dr. Lindzen), is in that nonsensical 1%. I understand the sentiment here, but his argument does not pass examination and the rules of logic. It is just inflammatory and infuriating. But let us allow him to finish.

Respect for life has to include respect for how that life is lived, enhanced and protected — not only at the moment of conception but afterward, in the course of that life. That’s why, for me, the most “pro-life” politician in America is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While he supports a woman’s right to choose, he has also used his position to promote a whole set of policies that enhance everyone’s quality of life — from his ban on smoking in bars and city parks to reduce cancer, to his ban on the sale in New York City of giant sugary drinks to combat obesity and diabetes, to his requirement for posting calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, to his push to reinstate the expired federal ban on assault weapons and other forms of common-sense gun control, to his support for early childhood education, to his support for mitigating disruptive climate change.

Now that is what I call “pro-life.”

Finally, we get to the point. Pro-life = Socialism/Communism/Fascism. Pr0-life = let the government dictate every part of your life so you do not have to take responsibility for anything. That worked so well Germany, Russia, or any other of the countries that have lived under fascist regimes in the history of the world.

I guess what is so infuriating about this article is that he does not deal with the issue at hand. He pigeon-holes the issue of the sanctity of life into a list of lightning rod political issues. Somehow, because he seems to value “life” from birth to grave, it is ok to kill a child before it is born. The reason that it seems as though Democrats are pro-choice, is because the Democratic Party has supported ABORTION [the issue at hand] on demand. They have supported such legislation. A despite the labels you put on it… they support the killing of innocent, defenseless children. DISCLAIMER: I am talking about the party’s platform. I am well aware that there are “pro-life” Democrats. It is interesting that Friedman writes that “if you can name and issue, you can own the issue” because in this article he names everything but the issue at hand. What say you?

I Am A Christian “Fill-in-your-political-affiliation”.

So, I know that I am probably a little late to respond to this article. I read it last week when I saw it posted on a friends Facebook page. Something about it did not seem right. So I decided to take some time and give the article some thought. I think that I understand what struck me wrong about the article. I find two aspects of this article infuriating. #1) Someone made the author feel like they needed to write this article, and #2) the author is guilty of much of the same rhetoric that she accuses the opposite side of promoting. It is not explicit but it is there. So, let us take a look at this article a little further.

This article is by Ellen Painter Dollar and can be found over at Patheos. It is entitled “Why I Am A Christian Democrat”. She begins the article by expressing the “story” behind the article. Her friend’s husband, who teaches at a conservative, Christian university, came under fire after co-authoring an article explaining why they would not vote for Mitt Romney. Unfortunately, this is all too common of an occurrence. So often, we try to see into the veracity of someone’s faith by something as simplistic as how they cast their votes at the ballot box. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We live in an imperfect world and, thus, there is no such thing as a perfect political system, party, or candidate. Different people vote different ways for different reasons. To automatically condemn the strength or sincerity of someone’s faith due to a political allegiance is ridiculous. So, Dollar continues on with an outline of points as to why she is a Democrat. Let’s look at her points and evaluate their logic. I am not discussing the merits of her political association, but the logic she uses to defend them.

I am a Democrat because, in many churches (including mine), being a Christian Democrat is not an oxymoron. None of us practice a pure faith. Our faith is always influenced by both the Christian and wider cultures in which we live. I have spent my whole life worshipping in churches that lean left, where being a Christian and a Democrat is neither remarkable nor unusual. But conservative evangelicals, and to some extent the media, continue to put forth the fallacy that a “Christian” voter is a conservative evangelical voter, equating the evangelical subculture with the wider church. Underlying this fallacy is an assumption that anyone who fails to see a straight line connecting their faith tenets to the Republican party platform must have an insubstantial, lip-service faith corrupted by cultural influences. This assumption is dangerous, but mostly, it’s just wrong.

I would agree with her bold statement. Being a Christian Democrat is NOT an oxymoron. However, I would say that her first assertion is a little backwards. I would argue that when we allow the culture to influence our faith, we usually get into trouble. However, I think it is impossible for our faith not to influence our political affiliation and view of economic, social, and political issues. Our faith is found in Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our faith is grounded in the truths of Scripture and God’s revelation Jesus that does not change. These things affect how we evaluate policies and candidates. I think it is wrong how the “evangelical right” have made voting for certain candidates a matter of doctrine. However, as a conservative Christian, I find many policies and tenants of the Democratic party to be against my faith and beliefs. However, if individual Democrats have other issues that take more of a priority than the discrepancies I see, that is their choice as a Christian voter. However, let us not forget that this does not mean that Republicans cannot be Christians either. She did not say this, but there is a certain anti-right tone to this paragraph.

I am a Democrat because I understand that theological conservatism and political conservatism are two different things. I am theologically conservative, meaning that I believe all that stuff in the Nicene Creed about the virgin birth and the resurrection. Especially the resurrection. But theological conservatism and political/social conservatism are entirely different things. Jesus was not conservative or liberal, and the idea that Jesus would identify wholly with either of our political parties is ludicrous. But Jesus was radical. Jesus turned the values of his world and ours (giving priority to the pursuit of wealth and comfort, might makes right, individual success over the common good) upside down. I am not radical enough for Jesus (most of us, regardless of party affiliation, aren’t), and I certainly don’t think the Democratic Party platform is radical enough for Jesus. But as a follower of the incarnate God who put the last first, whose ministry focused on those on the margins of his culture, I align myself with the political party that most consistently puts the interests of marginalized Americans on their national agenda.

To be honest, this paragraph is where I lost my mind a little. I had to clean up a little blood on my computer after it shot out of my eyes. The reason I reacted so vehemently against it is because it is an argument I am really tired of hearing because it misses the point. I am glad that Dollar believes in the “stuff” in the Nicene Creed like the “virgin birth”, and “the resurrection”. It is a shame that she seems to miss the point of the rest of Scripture. Jesus was radical. You know why? It was NOT because He paid attention to the margins of society, to teach against the pursuit of wealth and comfort, to teach against “might makes right”, or to teach against individual success over the common good. JESUS WAS RADICAL BECAUSE HE CAME TO DIE FOR SINNERS!!!! He came to die for the sins of the whole world. This means that He cared about everyone in culture. He did not emphasize compassion for the poor. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures are full of Jesus showing love and compassion for the rich and wealthy as well as the “margins of society. Jesus came for sinners. Just so you know, that is everyone. To equate a theological conservatism with political conservatism is an error. However, I do not think that conservative theology is antithetical social conservatism for the reasons that I addressed in the previous paragraph.

I am a Democrat because I daily appreciate the ways in which government improves individual lives and the common good. I harbor no illusions that our government is, or is likely to become, a paragon of efficiency, honesty, and effectiveness. But looked at through global and historical lenses, the extent to which our democratic (lower case “d”) government provides safety and opportunity to its citizens is remarkable. In much of the world, the government-funded resources available here (well-kept roads, food stamps, free public schools, unemployment insurance, relatively effective and non-corrupt law enforcement, etc.) simply don’t exist. Governments can do horrid things in the name of the common good, but our government often manages to do much of value for the common good. Today’s Democratic Party appears more willing than the Republican Party to believe that government has a responsibility to use its power for the common good, rather than leaving that good solely in the hands of a diverse (and divided) citizenry, or the free market.

Dollar has a few valid points in this section. The government does have a responsibility to provide safety and opportunity for its citizenry. However, to say that the Democratic party is more willing to do this than the Republicans is an over-generalization that, I am sorry to say, does not hold much statistical backing. Both parties care about providing opportunity and safety for the citizens, however, they have different ideologies on how to get there. I am discussing the merits of the differing ideologies. But to say that Republicans care less, or are less willing to believe that this is a function of the government, is like saying Democrats aren’t Christians. It is the same logical jump. It is a straw-man argument. It is weak.

I am a Democrat because I see a difference between “fairness” and “justice.” I was struck, in reading the comments to my colleague’s husband’s essay, by how many people called for “fair” economic policies. “Fair” appeared to mean that those who obtain much wealth are not asked to give a good chunk of it up to help those who have little. But in God’s math, we don’t always get what is fair or what we deserve by the world’s standards, either for our hard work (e.g., the parable of the day laborers, Matthew 20:1–16) or our sinfulness. God is not about fairness. God is about justice. God is about all people being treated with dignity as those made in God’s image, about extravagant generosity regardless of merit, about those stuck in bad luck or the consequences of bad decisions getting second (and third and fourth and seventy-seventh) chances, about everyone giving out of what they have so that all have what they need (e.g., the Loaves and Fishes, Matthew 14:13–21). It may be unfair for the very wealthy to be taxed at a higher rate than the middle class, but in God’s economy, it is just.

I am a Democrat because “Biblical” values are far from clear cut, so I focus on what Jesus chose to focus on in his earthly ministry. Jesus understood, I think, that our holy scriptures are not always consistent when it comes to details, even such important details as the character of God (Did the same God who called the little children to him really mastermind the murder of every first-born son of the Egyptians?*). So Jesus made it simple for us. Jesus said there are two things we must do: Love God. Love our neighbors as ourselves. To figure out in practical terms what it means to love God and others, we look to what Jesus did and said, searching for common threads. The most obvious common thread is that Jesus continually reached out and offered hospitality, healing, hope, and help to those who were poor, sick, powerless, or reviled.

Jesus’s continual emphasis on our duty toward the poor and marginalized is most beautifully and memorably expressed in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31–46). Jesus says, quite simply, that any time we offer concrete help to someone suffering from hunger or cold or imprisonment or sickness or lack of welcome, we are loving God. And Jesus doesn’t instruct us to first decide if those in need of a cloak or a drink of water deserve our help. Jesus doesn’t say we can first figure out whether it’s fair to ask me to give away my only cloak or offer a stranger a drink from the well I built with my own two hands, with my wealth, to nurture me and my family.

Time and time and time again, Jesus put caring for “the least of these” at the center of his ministry and his message. These days, neither party is doing a particularly good job of making the poor central to their message, preferring to focus instead on the middle class, who are more likely than the poor to vote. But when it comes time for me to color in a circle on my voting card, I’m going to choose the candidate whose party has shown, most recently via the adoption of universal health care, that it takes seriously our societal obligation to care for those who cannot, for whatever reason, care adequately for themselves.

I put these two sections together, because I believe they go together. She is grossly misrepresenting Scripture and taking sections out of context. This becomes a problem when we start using “Jesus as a social worker” as the hermeneutic to interpreting His actions in the Gospels. The truth of the matter is that Jesus did not come to set forth economic justice, and thank God, he actually came to suffer injustice so that we don’t get our justice (what we deserve). He came to die an unjust death by bearing our sins on the cross. This was the reason Jesus came. John 20:30-31 states, “Jesus did many other miraculous things that are not recorded in this book. But these things are written so that you might believe that Jesus is Son of God and that by believing, you might have life in His name.” These things were not written so that you might do what is right for the poor. The misappropriation of the Matthew 25 verse is a prime example of what I am talking about. Do you remember that the sheep did not realize that they were helping Jesus? They probably didn’t even realize they were doing what they were doing for one another. Matthew 25 is about how Jesus comes back to show that when we live our lives in our Christian vocations, we serve others. When we serve others, we serve Christ. To give this verse socio-political implications, is to misrepresent the context of this verse. I am not saying that Christians are not supposed to help the poor and needy. We are. However, it is not the tenant of the Christian life as expressed by Dollar. The tenant of the Christian life is that Christ came to forgive us for all the times we have not done, acted, or behaved like we should according to the law of God.

I am a Democrat because adequately caring for the least of these requires some government support. Many Republican Christians argue that Jesus’s mandate to care for the “least of these” was meant for his followers, not for our governments. Let individuals and churches care for the poor, they say, and let the government perform a limited role, primarily in defense. Although I believe that all Christians and churches (including me and my church) could do much more for the poor and marginalized than we are doing, we are also limited to providing help within our cultural, societal, and governmental structures.

We can drive a sick, uninsured child to a hospital, but if a long hospitalization or surgery is required, that child’s parents will have to either scrape together thousands or dollars (and perhaps eventually lose their home or declare bankruptcy as a result) or hope that the hospital has charity funds available. We can help an immigrant learn English and a marketable skill, but if the law doesn’t offer him a reasonable avenue toward legal work status, we can’t help him get a job that will support a family.  We can provide pregnancy counseling and baby supplies to a young unwed mother, but if that mother is unable to afford groceries, decent housing, quality daycare, and additional education for herself , she and her child will likely end up in unsafe housing, poorly nourished, un- or underemployed, and stuck in a cycle of poverty that isn’t just a problem for that family, but (in God’s economy) for all of us. Without government safety nets such as subsidized housing and daycare, food stamps, education grants, health insurance, and support for immigrants, private charity can only do so much to ease the burden of poverty.

Our government is far from perfect, but it is still, in my mind, the greatest example of the good that be done via a democratic government of, by, and for the people. As Christians, we have an obligation to care for all of God’s people—even when it doesn’t seem quite fair; even when poverty results from a toxic and convoluted mix of a sinful communal history, bad or nonexistent policies, and poor personal decisions; even when our initial efforts to fix a problem as big as our nation’s healthcare inequalities might be clumsy and in need of fine-tuning.

To put it simply, I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party is doing more than the Republican Party to care for the “least of these,” however imperfectly. And Jesus made it absolutely clear that caring for the least of these is central to our identity as his followers.

Ok… so there is a lot here that I disagree with. However, for the sake of my readers who have stood with me through this long post, I will try to make it short. According to Dollar, “the Democratic Party is doing more than the Republican Party to care for the ‘least of these,’ however imperfectly. And Jesus made it absolutely clear that caring for the least of these is central to our identity as his followers.” My head exploded again. To put it simply, and I am talking about the Democratic Party NOT individual Democrat voters, the Democrat party condones the killing of unborn children. Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me.” Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is made of such as these [little children]. I think the abortion issue should be and is the biggest hurdle when it comes to Democrat party and conservative Christendom. Is it an insurmountable chasm? Not for Dollar. But for her to chastise people who feel strongly about this issue, would be the same as others chastising her for not caring about this policy. They are false arguments.

Look. The point of this is to say that we cannot judge the faith of someone by their political allegiances. To say that one party is more “Biblical” than another is a false argument. The Bible is about our salvation. It is about how we do not stack up when confronted with the Law. However, Christ did it all for us. He has saved us. It impacts our life. We try to live as faithfully as possible. We seek forgiveness when we fall short. To politicize faith (either way) is truly detrimental and dangerous. What say you?

Logical Inconsistency #789: A Tale of Two Arguments

I debated even posting this because I have to admit to something. In this post, I, a man, must admit that I watch both Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Wow… that was unfortunate. However, I can now talk about what I want to talk about. This follows a story line from each of the shows that shows forth a logical inconsistency that I regularly see in culture. So… here we go.

In Grey’s Anatomy, there is a character named Christina Yang (played by Sandra Oh) who is an excellent and driven surgeon. She has had unfortunate experiences throughout the course of the show, but each time she has bounced back and she is the most driven surgeon of the new residents on staff. She married a fellow doctor and, now chief of surgery, Owen Hunt (played by Kevin McKidd). During the course of this season, Christina became pregnant. She did not want the baby. Owen did. She ended up having the baby by convincing Owen that it is her body and her choice. She wants to be a surgeon… not a mother. It is her body. Owen begrudgingly acquiesces. However, he never forgives Christina. The show paints Christina as a struggling, conflicted professional who had to make a choice. It, then, paints Owen as the man who can’t get over a decision that wasn’t his to make. For lack of a better description, he is painted as a close-minded, cave-man-like chauvinist.

In the most recent episode of Private Practice, there was a lesbian couple who ended up being pregnant with twins. One of the women had her eggs fertilized and implanted in the other woman’s womb. One of the twins has an extreme birth defect that demands surgery for survival. However, the surgery will put the other twin at risk for complications and death as well. As the couple tries to decide whether or not to have the surgery, an argument erupts. The lady carrying the twins does not want to risk losing both of them and does not want the surgery. The other lady (not carrying the babies) wants the chance that they both live so she wants the surgery. During the argument, the woman carrying the babies makes the remark that it is her body and she is not going to have the surgery. The other remarks that they are her eggs, and she doesn’t have the right to make that decision alone. In this case, the one woman who pulls the “it’s my body…” comment is made out to be the cruel, intolerant, and uncaring. The other woman is made out to be the poor, misunderstood one.

What appears to me to be the same argument, is treated in two totally different ways. What makes the two situations different? Is the sole difference that the second couple are two females? Why is Christina’s comment a testament to female liberty and autonomy and the second situation is intolerable and wrong when they use the same excuse to kill/or let a child die? I posed the question to my wife who responded “tongue in cheek” that  in the second situation it was the other woman’s eggs so she had a “dog in the fight”. I, then, respond on the behalf of Owen, “IT IS HIS SPERM!!! What makes the female gamete more precious?” And, thus, we have the crux of the predicament. In the want for sexual equality, our culture has actually tipped the scales in the other direction when reproductive rights are discussed. We give all the decision making ability to the woman, and we have let the fathers off the hook (indeed, we, sometimes, demand him to be off the hook) parentally-speaking. This is an debate that falls on its face when push comes to shove. However, as we thrive off of over-sensationalism and uber-emotionalism these kind of arguments will only gain more traction in the culture. What say you?

Logical Inconsistency #3: Straw-man argument to the extreme

The way this story is playing out in the media is literally sickening to me. The Susan G. Komen Foundation decided to stop funding to Planned Parenthood. The media has turned its evil eye toward Komen reporting how the funding that was pulled went towards mammograms and breast -cancer screening. Planned Parenthood supporters are up in arms about how Komen could pull funding that allows for such screening. However, what is often not reported is that Planned Parenthood is also the number one provider of late-term abortions in the United States. They are also under investigation in several states for cooking the books and using funding for things that funding is not meant to be used for. However, that is never reported.  Conservatives that support the move by Komen are painted as stubborn chauvinists who do not want women to be treated for breast cancer. However, I support the move made by Komen because I do not believe in killing babies or supporting organizations that do. Make no mistake about it. This is not an issue about breast cancer. This is an issue about abortion. Don’t buy the straw man logic that is put up by the progressive left. Here is an excellent piece by Mollie Zeigler-Hemmingway over at Get Relgion. Check it out!

[If you want to watch the news stories that she is talking about, click the link to the article and there is video on GetReligion.org]

What we have embedded here is one of the worst pieces of journalism I’ve ever seen. I probably shouldn’t announce this, lest tmatt tell me to pack my bags, but I rarely if ever watch broadcast or cable news. I read my news online. The last time I watched ABC News was probably in the 1980s. But I was notified that the ABC piece was bad and so I searched it out. I almost wish I hadn’t. The performance of the mainstream media over this Komen funding issue has not reflected well on journalism in general.

Let’s set the current scene on coverage of abortion and related issues. You’ll recall that just last week we looked at how some mainstream media outlets handled their reports on the annual March for Life. Though the crowd was large (some estimates were in the hundreds of thousands), the local CBS affiliate published a slide show that featured not a single picture of a pro-lifer. Instead, they photographed and rephotographed the same small handful (maybe as many as a dozen) supporters of legalized abortion. Only after mass outrage (and three days) did they find and include any other pictures. The Washington Post ombudsman chastised his paper’s coverage and the photo editor dismissed “this crowd” as impossible to satisfy.

We recently learned of the significant ruling from the Obama administration that Catholic charities (including educational institutions and hospitals that serve the most needy) would be forced under threat of massive fines to offer health insurance benefits that deeply violate church teachings, including contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. The news was covered, a bit. But none of the networks covered the news when it broke, and, according to one media watchdog, still haven’t! In general, the coverage has been surprisingly restrained, even though 142 bishops (some 80% of dioceses) have vociferously condemned this action.

OK, let’s look at what happened when Susan G. Komen decided to stop giving the country’s largest provider of abortions, the $1 billion Planned Parenthood, less than $700,000 in grants. You can watch, for instance, this “interview” of the Komen founder Amb. Nancy Brinker by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell where Andrea Mitchell just monologues about how devastated she is by the decision and barely lets the woman speak. (It’s embedded below, too) Every time Brinker tries to speak, she is interrupted by Mitchell. She tries to explain that the Planned Parenthood grants weren’t meeting criteria for effectiveness but Mitchell interrupts her. She explains that Planned Parenthood only offers pass-throughs — sending women to other places that can test them — and that they’d prefer to fund groups that directly provide services. She gets interrupted by a deeply hurt and personally offended Mitchell. At one point, Mitchell asks how, if the group is supposed to be bi-partisan, could they hire a pro-life individual who doesn’t love Planned Parenthood. (I’m not joking. Apparently bi-partisan means Democrats and Republicans who love Planned Parenthood.) If you doubt me about how biased this piece is, you can see how the blogJezebel cheers Mitchell on as “completely schooling Brinker on where she and her foundation went wrong. Boom.”

Now the Mitchell piece is really bad journalism — it’s not journalism at all, actually — but it’s MSNBC and I’m not sure how much people expect from that outlet. Which is why this “reported” piece (and yes, I’m using the term loosely) from ABC World News with Diane Sawyer is so shocking. Actually, these are the only two broadcast pieces I’ve seen so maybe they’re all this bad? Perhaps you shouldn’t tell me if they are. I don’t think I could bear it. I literally screamed at the top of my lungs when I watched this. Twice. Outside of sports, I don’t yell at my television.

Remember how much the networks covered the Obama administration’s regulation requiring Catholic organizations (and others) to do things they can’t do in good conscience? Not at all, that is? Well:

Backlash at Susan G. Komen over Planned Parenthood move leads @ABCWorldNews & NBC; CBS starts with Afghanistan war

Two things. While Komen reports that their fundraising is “up 100%” since the news (I’m a new donor to them, for instance) and in the interview mentioned above Brinker mentions that the response she’s received has been quite favorable, that’s not the framing for these stories. Instead, the “backlash” is. But what is even more interesting is that this biased framing literally leads the nightly news! Leads it! So again, it’s not that the media are uninterested in covering abortion or related issues. They just prefer some stories over others. Rather dramatically so.

Diane Sawyer begins her ABC report by alluding to people taking one side. Then begins a relentless repetition of Planned Parenthood’s talking point that Komen is putting politics ahead of women’s health.

The first error is that Diane Sawyer exaggerates what Planned Parenthood does with regard to cancer treatment. As Brinker noted in the interview mentioned above, Planned Parenthood offers no direct services for cancer treatment and Komen would like to allocate its scarce resources to group that actually deal with cancer treatment. Sawyer describes Planned Parenthood as the place where “so many women get free tests for cancer treatment.” What tests? Certainly not mammograms, which are not offered by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood acts as a pass-through agency, a place where women can be given prescriptions for tests. But “free tests for cancer treatment” sounds so much better than “place that doesn’t even offer mammograms,” I guess.

Claire Shipman reports with lots of war language about firestorms erupting and the like. She says:

That ubiquitous pink ribbon for decades uniting women in the greater good is sporting a black eye today. Thousands of women saying they will no longer support the Komen foundation or buy pink. Women like Monique Benoit who benefited from a Komen Planned Parenthood mammogram.

See that? Women such as myself who couldn’t in good conscience support Komen while it funneled money to Planned Parenthood are completely invisible to the mainstream media. We don’t exist. We don’t matter. We are never mentioned in this report. We are never pictured in this report. We are invisible to ABC News and others. That pink ribbon “united women” so long as it was associated with an organization that terminates 330,000 pregnancies a year. But now that it’s not, it’s not uniting women? In what world does that make sense?

And about this Komen Planned Parenthood mammogram … how is that possible when Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer mammograms? Great reporting, ABC! Of course, you’ll note that the woman who received this mammogram is stationed in front of Planned Parenthood signage offering the exact same talking point as everyone else who launched this public relations campaign against Komen. That line, again, is that a decision to cease funding the country’s largest abortion provider is “becoming” political. Funding that abortion provider? Just ask Andrea Mitchell, it’s as apolitical as the day is long! Can’t we all be bipartisan Planned Parenthood fans and champions?

The piece quotes Komen CEO Nancy Brinker who “spent the day in combat-style crisis management” (thanks to the mainstream media having the exact same line of attack as their Planned Parenthood cobelligerents). She denies it was political pressure and speaks against “scurrilous” allegations. What are those? Who knows? But ABC sums it up:

Brinker says there are simply better and more streamlined mammogram providers.

For instance, mammogram providers! MAMMOGRAM PROVIDERS WOULD BE BETTER AND MORE STREAMLINED MAMMOGRAM PROVIDERS THAN ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE NO MAMMOGRAMS! (And now you get a feel for my screaming at my computer screen when I first watched this.) Then we learn how great this has been for Planned Parenthood’s fundraising. Perhaps a journalist might look into, I don’t know, whether that was the plan all along for how Planned Parenthood leaked this news and took the ABC-approved spin that Komen’s decision was a disappointing politicization.

There’s a brief mention of conservative support. Very brief. Then Mitchell remembers an email she read earlier today where a woman said she couldn’t support Komen anymore. Why? Well because they’ve “politicized women’s health”! The PR team that developed that slogan and got the MSM to lede the evening news with it is worth every penny you paid them, Planned Parenthood. You usually can’t get this many repeat mentions in a 3-minute story without some heavy wrangling. ABC speaks to no one who supports the decision, no one who is pro-life.

Anyway, Shipman can’t explain Komen’s confusing decision. She says that when Komen was funneling money to Planned Parenthood, it “always prided itself on being apolitical.”

It’s like Planned Parenthood is a church and most of the media are communicant members ready to defend its teachings and faith at all costs. Check out how the one pro-lifer who Komen hired last year is given the scarlet letter in this caption “Anti-Abortion Stalwart.” Heretic! This ABC News headline gives two options for what’s going on with Komen’s decision to give money for breast cancer research and treatment to groups that do breast cancer research and treatment: “Witch Hunt or Policy Shift?” The story continues the backlash theme, completely oblivious to that portion of the country that doesn’t love Planned Parenthood. I’m not even going to watch the CBS report at this point but it’s headline? “Backlash grows over Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood flap”

Force Catholics to choose whether to violate their consciences or stop serving the poor? Ho hum! Who cares? Let’s put “religious liberty” in scare quotes and move on already, ok? Focus funding on groups that actually provide breast cancer treatment and resources instead of the Most Holy Planned Parenthood? We will lead the nightly news and if we have to misrepresent what’s going on, we’ll do that.

Here is another piece that they did on this topic that is worth a read as well.