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Pope Francis: Well Said, But Not Well Done

pope-francis-and-doveDuring his papal address last year at the St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis made the call for peace a main point, noting that it was a common ground for believers and non-believers alike.

“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he said. “Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”

It’s a grand gesture from a pope who has become increasingly popular among Catholic moderates and non-Catholics alike, thanks to what looks like a reconcilliatory stance on formerly hot-button issues, such as homosexuality.

But as a new year begins and we’re bracing ourselves for what 2014 may throw our way, I’m wondering just how sincere the Pope was in his call for peace.

To start, I will establish what I believe.

I believe that part of any meaningful, lasting peace needs to be founded on the principle of equality. That the gauge of how well a community functions should be reflected in how it treats its marginalized and less fortunate. For us, a nation that’s survived three separate occupations from three foreign powers, this is a no-brainer.

It’s an idea that should be even clearer for the Roman Catholic Church, which continually reiterates its position as a bastion of peace and morality worldwide. Getting into specifics, I think that a truly peaceful society will make an effort to eliminate, or at least minimize instances of structural violence. Structural violence, as compared to blatant forms of violence such as murder or rape, is any inequality that is institutionalized.

For instance, a government that bans gay marriage or makes gay sex illegal is practicing structural violence. Segregating people and denying them health care due to their skin color, gender or race are also glaring examples of structural violence. Even blasphemy laws can be considered a form of structural violence, since they grant unfair privileges to religious speech.

And it is from this standpoint that I find myself questioning just how sincere the Church’s call for peace is, given how they figured in these incidents in 2013:

1. During the GOP’s US government shutdown last November 2013, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were among the groups pushing for the shutdown. The US bishops had been hoping to use this incident as political leverage to grant them exemptions from the contraceptive coverage included in the Affordable Care Act.

The resulting shutdown most directly affected the poor, which is especially ironic given that Francis’ latest speeches have been to renew the fight against poverty.

2. When the UN passed a resolution opposing violence against women, the Vatican, along with Russia, China, and Iran protested a section of the resolution that condemned violence committed in the name of religion, local customs, and culture.

3. Hospitals owned by the RCC are turning away women suffering from miscarriages, because the RCC’s moral guidelines forbid them from providing proper medical treatment or even advice if it has anything to do with birth control.

4. The Pope excommunicated Fr. Greg Reynolds, on the grounds that he talked about the ordination of women priests. Reynolds is also a known supporter of gay marriage, another issue that the church is currently opposed to.

5. Pope Francis himself has personally noted that the matter of ordaining women into the priesthood was not a matter for discussion.

6. Pope Francis had also encouraged Malta Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna to speak out against gay adoptions, after the country introduced a bill that would allow same-sex civil unions, and children to be adopted by gay parents.

7. The Vatican recently refused to provide a United Nations panel with full information regarding its (the Vatican) clerical sex abuse cases worldwide. The Vatican also stiffened penalties against whistle-blowers.

Given these recent events, I would like to ask: Is the Vatican in the right to talk about peace when it is blatantly clear that it is partly responsible, if not complicit, in perpetuating the sort of violence most decent folks would prefer to eliminate from society? From Francis’ Urbi et Orbi address:

“True peace is not a balance of opposing forces,” Francis said. “It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment.”

Well said, Francis. Now please practice what you preach.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Secularism0 Comments

Pediatrician Claims to Have “Final Answer” to Question of Life

trust-me-im-the-doctor-royal-bros

A little over a week ago, The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a letter written by the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), claiming that science had presented a final answer to when life begins. To quote the relevant section of the ACPeds letter:

As stated in our website, “Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development.” (http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins)

This is the final answer to this issue, as Professor Kischer puts it. In an article titled “When does human life begin? The final answer,” which was published in the Linacre Quarterly, he categorically states: “Virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook of human embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being.”

There are numerous problems with ACPeds’ assertions.

The first is their statement that “virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook” agrees with their stance that life begins after fertilization. A cursory search turns up several notable embryologists and researchers in relevant fields who wouldn’t hesitate to call out at ACPeds’ claim.

For instance, there is Professor Scott Gilbert of Swarthmore College, who has stated in one of his more notable lectures (available here) that there is no consensus among embryologists on when life begins. Here is a basic rundown of Professor Gilbert refuting common misconceptions about fertilization, as summarized by Rationalwiki:

  • Instructions for Development and Heredity are all in the Fertilised egg. The view that we are genetically determined by the combination of parental DNA has been shown to fall far short of the complete story. How the DNA is interpreted can vary greatly affected by things such as the maternal diet. Similarly some development requires certain bacteria to be present. Thirdly, and most surprisingly, the level of maternal care can determine which areas of DNA are ‘methylated’ which radically alters how they are interpreted. As such the view that we are ‘complete but unformed’ at conception is far from accurate.
  • The Embryo is Safe Within the Womb. Modern research shows that 30% or fewer fertilised eggs will go on to become foetuses. Many of these early miscarriages are because of abnormal numbers of chromosomes. The view that every fertilised egg is a potential human being is wrong in around 70% of cases.
  • There is a Moment of Fertilisation when the passive egg receives the active sperm. Again recent research has shown that the previous commonly held view that the fastest sperm races towards the egg and, bingo, we’re up and running is wrong on many levels. Fertilisation is a process taking up to four days. As such there is no magic moment, rather there is a process.
  • There is consensus amongst scientists that life begins at conception. There isn’t even consensus amongst scientists as to whether there’s consensus. However, Scott Gilbert’s paper lists embryologists who support each of the major view points belying the common and oft repeated assertion that there is consensus amongst embryologists, let alone scientists.

Lewis Wolpert, a well-known developmental biologist, also made similar points in his lectures regarding when personhood begins:

“What I’m concerned with is how you develop”, he says. “I know that you all think about it perpetually that you come from one single cell of a fertilized egg. I don’t want to get involved in religion but that is not a human being. I’ve spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear … they are not a human being. The cells divide and the question I’m going to deal with a little bit here…how do the cells know what to do. So, how do they end up looking like … you? It is amazing that you come from one single cell. I’m sorry to give you a lesson in embryology but you should know how you develop.”

And then there’s professor Paul Zachary Myers (of crackergate fame) if you like your rebuttals served with a side of snark and heat.

I’m hoping you get my point – that there is no such consensus among the scientific community that life begins at fertilization, and that several scientists have in fact spoken at length on why they disagree. This leads to another problem with the ACPeds letter. By using language like the title “Science’s final answer to when human life begins”, ACPEds implies that they speak on behalf of the rest of the scientific community. This is not the case, and it reeks of arrogance on their part to assume they do.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that ACPeds has been caught making questionable claims.

The American College of Pediatrics is actually a breakaway faction from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and was formed by a small group of healthcare providers who did not agree with the latter’s support for adoption by gay parents.

Since its establishment in 2002, ACPeds has been caught intentionally spreading numerous disproven claims about homosexuality, and trying to pass it off as science. The group has the distinct (dis)honor of being personally called out by the director of the National Institutes of Health for misrepresenting his work. Dr. Collins was not the only researcher who was upset by ACPeds, as seen here and here.

If there is anything we can learn from ACPeds actions, both in the Inquirer letter and in their previous activities, it is that they’re more about pushing an ideology and a political agenda than about promoting truthful and fact-based science.

If you’d like to read more about the matter of when life begins, we’ve also got a couple of articles here and here, written by fellow freethinker  Garrick Bercero

Posted in Advocacy, RH Bill, Science0 Comments

Refuting Tatad’s Petition

As you’re reading this, the Philippine Supreme Court will be having the oral arguments regarding Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, aka the RH Law.

One of the people expected to make an appearance at the proceedings is former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, a man who has been frequently touted by the Catholic Church as one of its champions in opposing the RH Law.

Tatad has figured prominently in the opposition to reproductive health in the years leading up to the law’s passing last year. He’s also among the petitioners that was the cause for the SC to impose an SQA on the RH law.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the Tatad petition, since it makes use of the most common arguments that the RCC loves to resort to in opposition to reproductive health. Tatad starts off his argument by citing every Filipino’s right to personal and family privacy:

Articles 11-13

…Which is not an issue at all, since this is also what the pro-RH side of the Philippines supports – the right of privacy of every family regarding their sex lives. Tatad’s points on a family’s right to birth control methods of their choice are equally sensible:

Arguments 20-23

Once again a fair point. Birth control should be a decision left up to each family. It is a decision that cannot be forced upon them, either by the state, or anybody else. However, shortly after making several valid points on the rights of the Filipino family, the petition starts treading water…

Arguments 27-30

*Sigh*, where do we begin?

First off, there is nothing in the RH law that forces families to choose a specific birth control method. Quoting section 2, sub-section h of the RH law:

(h) The State shall respect individuals’ preferences and choice of family planning methods that are in accordance with their religious convictions and cultural beliefs, taking into consideration the State’s obligations under various human rights instruments;

What the RH law will provide is family planning medicine and education, and leave the decision on which method is ideal for each family’s circumstances up to the family itself. Accusing the RH Law of forcing a family to choose is no more valid than a creationist accusing public education of “forcing” kids to go against their religious beliefs by teaching evolution in science class.

If your religious beliefs say contraceptives are wrong, then don’t take contraceptives. Nothing in the law says you must pop the pill just because you sat through several sex education classes. How hard is that to understand?

Secondly, so what if the Catholic Church considers contraceptives “evil”? Just as they state that government cannot impose specific beliefs, Tatad and company cannot impose Catholicism on other people who do not agree with their hypocritical moral stance on reproductive health.

Which brings us to the next point…

Argument 32

What is ironic here is that in demanding that the SC junk the RH Law because it goes against their religious beliefs, Tatad’s petition is basically denying the RH law to everybody else in the Philippines.

Okay, fine. So Tatad wants the law junked because it goes against his religious beliefs. But what about the Protestant churches who support the RH Law? What about the Muslim community? What about his fellow Catholics, the majority of whom are also calling for better access to reproductive health education and medicine?

It’s become clear at this point that the message Tatad sends is that he only cares about shoving HIS religious dogma down the throats of everybody else who does not agree with him.  This is not the first time people like him pulled a stunt like this, sadly, as the cases of Manila and Ayala Alabang show.

This intent becomes especially obvious when you consider that the sex education program being proposed is targeted at public schools – where religious groups are not allowed to impose their dogma.

Moving along, the petition gets even more brazen in its religious intent:

 

Arguments 36-38

Does Tatad have any empirical evidence proving that introducing contraceptives “destroys” morality? A study that directly correlates crimes rates with increased access to birth control education and contraceptives would be a good start.

On the other hand, the studies we do have available show conclusively that lack of access to RH medicine and education has resulted in a rising trend in teen pregnancies and STDs. But since it’s women suffering – and the RCC’s known for disregarding their welfare on more than one occasion – I guess that doesn’t count.

And as if Tatad should be one to talk about “deep divisions” and “moral torment”, given that it was his side of the RH discussions that has been demonizing supporters of RH, by spreading outright lies and slander, to resorting to outright threats of violence.

This is no different from a bigot claiming that making gender equality a social norm is provoking “moral torment” because now everybody’s calling him out for being an ass.

Then again, as the former press secretary of the Martial Law years, I guess Tatad knows a thing or two about inflicting moral torment on society.

These are just some of the more glaring flaws I managed to dig up from Tatad’s petition against the RH Law. Any and all feedback or additional insight are always welcome here in the comments thread, or over at our FB fanpage.

Posted in Advocacy, Politics, Religion, RH Bill1 Comment

Your Senatoriable’s Not-So-Fabulous Stance on Gay Marriage

With the Papal elections winding down in the Vatican, most pinoys are beginning to focus their attention on our very own parade of horribles: The May 2013 Elections.

The people will be voting for candidates who most closely adhere to their wants and needs, and they’ll be very interested in what the various candidates’ opinion on hot topics such as same-sex marriage.

It goes without saying that as a religiously conservative country, the Philippines has not been supportive of gay marriage, with an overwhelming amount of senatoriables voicing their opposition to the measure.

The question is, does their opposition to gay marriage hold any water? For the benefit of the people still undecided on this matter – and since I’m a mean-spirited blackheart with nothing better to do – I’ll be presenting some of the crazier reasons these people are against gay marriage…and why they’re bullshit.

“It’s against natural law. Ang lalaki, ang mapapangasawa niya ay babae, at sila’y mag-aanak at dadami ang sangkatauhan. ‘Yan ang naturang batas at hindi kailanman nagkaroon sa natural law na pwede ‘yung parehong babae, parehong lalaki… Walang pamilya! Hindi naman ‘yan magkakaanak.” – Lito David

Malayo ‘yan. Tayo’y ginawa ng Diyos na [ang] pag-aasawa [ay] para magkaroon ka ng anak, procreation, para magkaroon ka ng happiness. Kung para sa happiness lang, ‘wag na kayong magpakasal. Kung dalawa kayong lalaki, dalawa kayong babae, gusto n’yong magsama, puwede naman. So bakit kailangang magpakasal pa? – Dick Gordon

Marriage is for propagating family, but it is high time for registered partnerships. – Ricardo Penson

First off, there is nothing in our laws that makes having children a legal requirement for couples to marry. If this were the case, then marriage should be illegal for the sterile and the elderly. Strangely enough, lesbian couples can still skirt this requisite through the magic of science.

This argument was also used during the deliberations to repeal California’s Proposition 8. Prop 8 has since been repealed, with several states in the US beginning to legalize gay marriage, which goes to show you just how effective the argument was.

Furthermore, if David and Gordon are going to argue against gay marriage on the grounds that “It’s not natural,” they’re going to have to explain swans, seagulls, bonobos, dolphins, vultures, pigeons, ducks, sheep, and hyenas. All of the above have exhibited homosexual behavior in the wild.

Taking the naturalistic fallacy further, we shouldn’t be using “unnatural” things, such as modern medicine, cars, smartphones (of which David has taken to backfisting), and computers.

I’d include clothes, but do we really want to regularly see Mr. David’s junk, or Dick’s…well, you get the idea.

“I don’t think that’s a marriage. They can just live together if they want. No need to flaunt it.” – Jun Magsaysay

I think that is a joke of a proposal. I don’t know where that idea came from, but marriage is between a man and a woman so maybe the laws can be liberalized in such a way that the property relations of people of the same sex who decided to live together can be governed by law but let us not call that marriage. Madali naman yan sa partnership, we can let the government code govern that or the laws on partnership, not the family code. – Koko Pimentel

It’s more than just being able to live together and “flaunting it”. Marriage ensures that the partners involved receive the same legal protections as straight couples, such as the on the matter of hospital visitation rights. There’s also the myriad of laws under the family code that protect the right to property of both people entering a marriage, in the event of the death of the spouse.

This isn’t about granting “special” rights to the LGBT community, as Pimentel implies. This is about granting them EQUAL rights, under the same family code that protect all straight marriages in the Philippines. And on a more sentimental note, it is about two men or women who have entered a long-term relationship, being able to proudly say “We’re married!” instead a word salad like “We’re under a recognized civil union!”

Pimentel should brush up on history, so that he’ll understand why his plea for things to be “Separate but equal,” should be ignored, if not outright ridiculed. Just like his stance on reproductive rights.

“Ang paniniwala ko pa rin between man and woman yung marriage.” – Nancy Binay

Sa akin, parang ‘di maganda dahil man and woman ang marriage. – Samson Alcantara

I don’t have anything against gay people… they were probably born that way but this should not be sanctified by marriage. Some of my friends are gay but marriage to me is a sacred institution. – Bal Falcone

We are still a Catholic nation. If we look at the Bible, the marriage of two persons is always man and woman. It’s always been Adam and Eve. Wala namang Adan at Adan. Wala ring Eba at Eba – JV Ejercito Estrada

Marriage is not the exclusive property of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, it’s not as if legalizing same-sex marriage will require RCC churches to marry gay couples; The couples can always get married in churches that support gay marriage.

And really, the “some of my friends are X” defense is a crapshoot argument. Would it be any more sensible if Mr. Falcone said “Some of my friends are black, but I think segregation is a sacred institution”? Is it any surprise that most of the arguments against gays sound similar to the tired rhetoric of the proponents of the Jim Crow laws?

Furthermore, Mr. Estrada, the Philippines is not a “Catholic Nation.” While it is true that most of the people here are Catholic, that doesn’t give them the right to impose their religion on all other non-Catholics; Even constitutionalist Fr. Bernas considered this a very bad idea.

And assuming we limit our definition of marriage to consenting adults, the one-man, one-woman definition can also be disputed. Polygamy is also a widely accepted form of marriage among numerous cultures, such as Islam.

Lastly, it’s a PERSONAL belief – nobody is forcing you to have a gay marriage. However, it also follows that you don’t have a right to impose your personal belief of what marriage is on gays. It’s not your job to force your “paniniwala” on the people – it’s your job to defend their basic rights. And if you don’t understand that, you don’t have any business running for senate.

Totally against that. Equal rights are guaranteed by the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. There is really no need to expand the concept of human rights. I respect the human rights of gays and lesbians, but when you allow same sex marriage, there is no purpose whatsoever as to the objective of that. – JC Delos Reyes

JC failed to mention that as of 2011, the United Nations passed a resolution opposing discrimination or violence against the gay community.

That discrimination doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of laws that directly oppress the LGBT community. It can be as simple as denying them the right to marry the person they love, and wish to spend the rest of their life with. A right straight people like me can enjoy, and most often take for granted. JC has no business claiming to agree with the UN if he can’t even acknowledge that gays deserve to be protected by the same range of laws that protect everybody else in RP.

On a related note, he certainly has no right to be claiming to be in support for the UN charter on human rights, given his attempts to block every woman’s right to RH medicine and education, which are supported by the UN.

JC also claimed to be anti-imperialist, and against the influence of internationa groups, so what’s he doing agreeing with the UN in the first place? Fucking hypocrite.

“I am for the protection and respect ng political rights ng lahat, regardless of gender. Pero pagdating sa marriage of same sex, sabi ng Good Book, huwag gayahin ‘yung nangyari sa Sodom and Gomorrah dahil darating ang paggunaw sa isang bansa pag ‘yun ay ginawa.” – Eddie Villanueva

We saved the best for last.

The gist of Bro. Eddie’s argument is that he’s for equal rights, unless it goes against the teachings of his good book. The problem is that even a cursory reading of the bible shows that it’s anything but a “good” book. From its endorsement of genocide and slavery to unleashing bears on kids who make fun of baldies, the bible’s text goes anywhere from morally questionable, to the sort of religiously-motivated actions that would make even Kratos take pause and say “Whoa there! Isn’t that getting a bit excessive? ”

As a parting note, I advise all voters reading this to go through their favorite candidate’s stances on various social concerns before voting. It’s your responsibility, and privilege.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Humor, Politics, Religion, Society4 Comments

Bullets and Dogma: A Musing on Religiously Inspired Misogyny

A few weeks ago, Taliban gunmen stopped a bus carrying students home from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, singled out Malala Yousufzai, and shot her.

Her crime was advocating for women’s education – which the Taliban banned – and for openly speaking out against their atrocities through her blog.

The good news is that as you read this, Malala is on the road to recovery, while the Taliban are being rightfully condemned for their act of brutality and cowardice; it says a lot about how insane a group is, when they think a girl who just wants to go to school is a justification for them to shoot people in the face.

But as I look at the outrage, the sympathy, and at the end of it all, the hope getting mixed into Malala’s story, and I look at the reactions from the Philippines’ own community at the whole thing – which is thankfully supportive – I just have to ask…

Are we really any different?

Because in their own way, the women of the Philippines are under threat from bearded, out-of-touch, religious conservatives who abide by silly religious laws, and run around in sillier robes. These people are intent on stifling not only women’s access to quality education, but also their ability to simply speak up and criticize them.

And the magic is that unlike the Taliban, they don’t have to whip out a gun to get the job done. So how did they do it? Let’s look at some of their more recent examples:

1. Resorting to erudite rhetoric that celebrates the fact that their morally superior university doesn’t put up with liberal nonsense such as dissent, free thought, critical thinking, or scientific facts. God was apparently so touched by this show of devotion that he forgot to bless their last game.

2. Legislators bravely stating the truths of the RH Bill while in senate, buying time for their side, not to mention creating a new, proudly Pinoy meme along the way.

3.
Fearlessly speaking against the Magna Carta of Women, which removes their god-given right to eject pregnant students from getting a proper education. Who has a time for school (much less a decent job), when you have to raise a kid before you’ve turned 18, right?

4. Righteously defending their right to condemn the evils of lesbians, a fine trend that they and like-minded predecessors have done for decades.

5. Selflessly sacrificing whatever esteem and respect they had left to support the cybercrime law under the guise of defending people against bullying. After all, calling out an anti-gay/anti-woman bigot for being an intolerant asshole can be painful to their self-esteem.

6. Heroically citing that none other than our national hero, Jose Rizal, would never condone providing women with better access to family planning education.

Who needs bullets when you have a few well-chosen words and the support of powerful, religiously devout, but ultimately imbecilic leaders in politics and educational institutions to shape society according to your whims?

I’m not writing this to reduce any of the much-deserved attention that Malala is getting for herself and a woman’s right to education in Pakistan. What I am simply saying is that as we read about what happens to her, we shouldn’t dismiss it as just a story being told in a foreign land thousands of miles away.

It’s similar to the story of our women here, except that the attempt to murder them comes in inches. The perpetrators do this through through the denial of a woman’s right to proper academic and reproductive education, and through the poisoning of society’s opinion about providing better awareness regarding their rights.

And that is just as deadly – if not deadlier – than a few grams of copper-jacketed lead.

“In A Myriad Small Ways You Have Hastened The Deaths Of Many. You Do Not Know Them. You Did Not See Them Bleed. But You Snatched Bread From Their Mouths And Tore Clothes From Their Backs.” – Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Personal, Religion, RH Bill, Society2 Comments

Pride and Prejudice (and outgrowing both)

Racism has and will always be a hot-button topic, more so for anybody who has survived the infamous Jim Crow era of the United States.

From 1877 to the 1960s, African-Americans were treated as literal second-class citizens. They couldn’t vote, they couldn’t use any facilities reserved for Whites, and couldn’t shake hands with Whites. Given the heavy restrictions imposed on their civil rights, it’s no surprise that a gesture as small as refusing to sit in the back of a bus sparked a firestorm of civil activism.

Brief history lessons aside, how would you feel about going to a museum whose express purpose is of displaying artifacts from this era?

A former sociology professor has used his 2,000-piece collection of racist memorabilia to start a museum dedicated to the worst excesses of the segregation era. The exhibits range from a full-size replica of a lynching tree to a T-shirt that reads “Obama in ’08,” accompanied by a cartoon monkey holding a banana. On one wall, a poster shows four young black children sitting by a river, with the caption “Alligator bait.”

The objects “should either be in a garbage can or a museum,” according to David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The former professor at Michigan’s Ferris State University started the collection as a teenager in Alabama during the 1970s and donated it to the school in 1996. Now, thanks to donors, it has a permanent home in an exhibition hall on campus. The venue will have its grand-opening ceremony on April 26, the Associated Press reported.

To say the museum is awkward is an understatement. Taking this story into a more local context however, would you agree to setting up a local museum for racism, or prejudice, for that matter?

Personally, I’d love it.

Don’t get me wrong – I abhor bigotry of any color (no pun intended), and would love nothing more than to see the human race as a whole to outgrow it. However, I also strongly believe that for us to get past our prejudices, we will need to take a more critical look at out own history, and not just necessarily gloss over the triumphs that puts the fire in our nationalistic fervor. Less of a regurgitation of fairy tales, and more an unbiased eye to reality, if you will.

After all, NOT talking about the problem of LGBT discrimination hasn’t really helped spread awareness (DADT comes to mind), has it? And NOT talking about women’s issues certainly hasn’t done anything to help uplift their lack of access to medicines and other relevant services. If anything, pretending to be mum about these issues has only aggravated the problem. Not to mention that it leaves us incredibly onion-skinned when somebody does raise a stink.

Opening up discussions on our prejudices doesn’t necessarily mean we have to defend or justify them, after all. It can be as simple as us acknowledging that we’ve been ignorant over the matter of LGBT hate crimes, for instance, or that we’ve been insensitive pricks over women’s issues. It’s definitely going to be a very awkward first step to talk about our prejudices (let alone immortalizing them in a museum) openly, but then again, so was puberty, right?

Pinoys really need to realize that facing our own inner prejudices is a show of control: It means that we’re developing a mastery of our inner conflicts, and using our cognitive abilities to weaken decades of misconceptions and false assumptions. In martial arts-speak, understanding your own weaknesses and striving to correct them is a show of strength in itself.

Since I promised the presiding overlords to keep this short, I’m encouraging the readers to visit our FB page, or to post their two cents on the comments below.

As a parting note, here’s a question for you: If you could set up a museum for one particular type of bigotry in the Philippines, what would you choose, and what sort of memorabilia would you have on display?

Posted in Society0 Comments

On Blasphemy and Sewage

As the president of Rationalist International, Sanal Edamaruku has made a name for himself among skeptics’ circles by debunking the mysticism surrounding India’s so-called Holy Men.

But while his efforts are admirable, and his exposes a never-ending source of lols (at the fakir’s expense, that is), he’s run into a bit of trouble.

Last month, Sanal participated in a Channel TV-9 report about the the “miracle” of the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni – a crucifix that was claimed to have water miraculously appear and trickle down Jesus’ feet.

We say “was”, because shortly after Sanal arrived, he quickly pointed out that the source of the water in the “miracle” was from a nearby washroom drainage pipe, brought to the crucifix’s feet via capillary action:

 

As expected, the local Catholic Church was not happy with Sanal, who accused them of miracle-mongering in a follow-up program on TV-9.

A heated debate began, in which the five church people, among them Fr. Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni church, and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologize. But he powerfully argued against them. Via telephone, Msgr. Agnelo Gracias, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, intervened in order to rescue the image of the Catholic Church. He claimed the Church was “always cautious in attributing supernatural causes” to such phenomena and always striving “to find ‘scientific’ explanations.” He even assured the Pope was a friend of science.

Following the exchange, the RCC gracefully conceded to Sanal’s superior argumentative style, while Sanal and Fr. Palett have since become close drinking buddies.

Just kidding. The RCC sued Sanal for blasphemy.

Sanal can be arrested any moment. In every single place where a petition is filed against him. He could be forced to appear in person to answer them. If his answer is not found satisfactory, he could be arrested. He could be forced to fight a multitude of criminal cases in different places. This is not only immensely time and money consuming. Given the fanaticism of some Catholic believers, it can be a danger for his life.

There are a couple of important points that we can take away from this incident. The first is that the Catholic Church has only been a self-proclaimed advocate of science only when it suits its agenda.

So for instance, while the RCC has declared the theory of Evolution as compatible with its doctrine, it’s been a staunch opponent of any discussion on stem cell research that does not adhere to its teachings. It’s gone as far as to cancel a conference when the invited speakers refused to be censored by the Vatican.

It might have worked to some extent, but after some of the speakers declined to censor their speeches, the Vatican abruptly canceled the conference altogether. According to the conference website, the event was canceled due to “serious economic and logistic-organizational reasons that have completely jeopardized the success of the 3rd International Congress on Responsible Stem Cell Research.” The scientists who were planning to attend say they are being stifled instead. “I think the only interpretation is that we are being censored,” Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in San Francisco, said in a statement. “It is very disappointing that they are unwilling to hear the truth.”

The other point we can learn from this is that when the RCC is backed into a corner, it will almost always invoke the Waaahmbulance – crying persecution and blasphemy when its fancy apologetics doesn’t work on fool dissenters.

And this is why Sanal’s story can feel like something so close to home. As many of you will already know by now, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has been actively promoting its own brand of mysticism to keep its flock sedate and obedient.

At the same time, it’s used this same mysticism to control its flock to strike down anybody it disagrees with, including local artists who dare to stick a penis on a carpenter’s forehead, to trying to justify that discrimination against the LGBT community is religiously protected speech.

On the bright side, Sanal’s plight also tells us that we are not alone in our fight – that we’re part of a continually growing community of skeptics who are becoming more vocal in our opposition to their baseless rubbish and dogma.

As a parting note, I’d like to cite that India isn’t the only country that’s assumed raw sewage to be an act of God. As written by professor Ambeth Ocampo in 1988, in an article titled “The Miracle of the Water and the Cross“:

Sometime during the term of William Howard Taft, a fisherman in Manila Bay found “bubbles like a crown of pearls… stretched upon the surface of the sea.” He tasted the water and to his surprise, it was sweet!

Sweet water in the middle of the sea? The fisherman returned with a priest who promptly pronounced a miracle. People from nearby Tondo came in boats and saw bubbles form a cross. They took bottles of the sweet miraculous water home. Two days later, one of the cholera epidemics hit Tondo.

Dr. Victor Heiser (who later wrote a book about his “adventure” in the Philippines) went to the site to investigate the “miracle” and discovered that the bubbles and sweet water came from a busted sewage pipe! Kadiri (Gross!). People were actually drinking, or should I say gulping sewage water. Taft could not do anything because keeping the people from the “miracle” could provoke a revolt.

Quaffing magical potty water – It’s more fun in the Philippines!

You can learn more about how to help Sanal Edamaruku by visiting his organization’s site, accessible through here.

Posted in Others, Religion, Society0 Comments

Dear Princess Celestia…

They got Lot drunk and did WHAT!?!?!?!

One classic rhetoric the Catholic Church loves to throw around is that “secular media” is a leading cause of moral degradation in kids today. This includes just about everything on TV that isn’t treating their priests and bishops with outright adulation, or isn’t airing on EWTN.

You’ve seen the effects of this mindset on Dan Brown’s films, and the MTRCB’s conservative streak.

But you’ve got to ask yourself: Is secular, non-religious media really a poison that addles and corrodes the bonds of community? I’ve decided to take another look at my anti-depression medication, a potent cocktail that’s helped me through some rough spots over the last few months.

Fillies and gentlecolts, my drug of choice:

We’re looking at the Generation 4 incarnation of the show, which was created by Lauren Faust. Despite its exceedingly cute appearance and tone, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic garnered a large following far beyond its target audience thanks to its animation quality, pop culture references (The Big Lebowski, anyone?), song numbers, character depth, and witty humor.

Yes. I am a Brony.

One other aspect of the show that shines is its presentation of the various issues that little girls will face as they grow up, and providing them with creative ways of handling these problems while learning from the experience. It takes some pretty good script writing to teach kids how to deal with the resident Alpha bitch, without becoming one themselves.

We’ll take a closer look at the lessons FiM imparts, as narrated in the friendship report at the end of each episode, and compare them with the traditional “values” the Catholic Church proclaims.

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: Love and accept people for who they are.

Dear Princess Celestia,

My friends and I have all learned an important lesson this week: Never judge a book by its cover. Someone may look unusual, or funny, or scary. But you have to look past that and learn who they are inside. Real friends don’t care what your “cover” is; It’s the “contents” of a pony that count. And a good friend, like a good book, is something that will last forever.

Bridle Gossip

Dear Princess Celestia,

When you first sent me to Ponyville, I didn’t know anything about friendship. I met somepony tonight who was having the same problem – your sister, Princess Luna! She taught me that one of the best things you can do with friendship is to give it to others, and help them find it themselves! And I’m happy to report that all of Ponyville has learned that even though somepony seems a little intimidating, even scary, when you offer them your friendship, you’ll discover a whole new pony underneath. And even if my Star Swirl bearded costume didn’t go over, this still turned out to be the best Nightmare Night ever!

Luna Eclipsed

The Church: You should have been aborted!

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: Compromise and tolerance.

Twilight Sparkle: Dear Princess Celestia,

Friendship is a wondrous and powerful thing. Even the worst of enemies can become friends. You need understanding and compromise. You’ve got to share. You’ve got to care —

Pinkie Pie: Hey! That’s what I said!

Over a Barrel

The Church: Selective intolerance

The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care. The Vatican and Pope John Paul II are speaking out against the growing number of places that recognize same-sex marriages.

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: Generosity and selflessness.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned a great lesson about friendship. Well, you might think that it would feel good to get lots and lots of stuff, but it doesn’t feel nearly as good as giving something special to somepony you really care about. But I learned that it truly is better to give than to receive, and that kindness and generosity are what lead to true friendship. And that’s more valuable than anything in the world.

Secret of my Excess

The Church: Yo Dawg…

______________________________________________________________________

Friendship is Magic: True friends never give up on you.

Dearest Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that it’s hard to accept when some pony you like wants to spend time with some pony who is not so nice. Though it’s impossible to control who your friends hang out with, it is possible to control your own behavior. Just continue to be a good friend. In the end, the difference between a false friend and one that is true will surely come to light.

Griffon the Brush-Off

Dear Princess Celestia,

I used to think the most important traits to look for in a pet, or any best friend, were all physical competitive abilities. But now I can see how short-sighted and shallow that was. Today I learned what the most important quality really is. A certain kind of spirit. A stick-to-it-ive-ness. A never give up, can-do attitude that’s the mark of a real winner. And this tortoise has it.

May the Best Pet Win!

The Church: It’s alright to be buddy-buddy with a serial divorcee (http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/primaries/candidates/newt-gingrich) or an accessory to the enactment of Martial Law, as long as they tow the party line against reproductive health.

______________________________________________________________________


Friendship is Magic:
Be honest with your friends and loved ones.

Dear Princess Celestia,

This is Spike, writing to you about my adventures. This week, I learned that being jealous, and telling lies gets you nowhere in friendship. I also learned that there’s plenty of love for every friend to share.

Owl’s Well that Ends Well

The Church:What child abuse?

The report found that Bishop John Magee – who stood down in March 2009 after serving as bishop of Cloyne since 1987 – falsely told the government and the health service that his diocese was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities.

It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisers by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest suspected of abusing a child, one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files.

______________________________________________________________________

It’s a sad state of affairs when a cartoon does a far better job at teaching our kids about the right set of values, than a 2000-year old institution that regularly claims the moral high ground.

…and failing spectacularly at almost every opportunity.

If there is one thing that Equestrians and the RCC can agree on, it’s that their leadership has its share of sexually deprived, power-tripping weirdos.

But at least Princess Celestia/Molestia actually does her job, ruling all ponyfolk with (relative) benevolence and wisdom. She just has some unusual tastes.

On a parting note, I recommend Friendship is Magic as good viewing for the non-theists ponyfolk out there looking for wholesome, educational programs for their kids.

Just stay the hell away from the “Cupcakes,” unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Posted in Humor, Personal4 Comments

Shedding Light on “Dr.” Acosta’s Gay Discrimination Lecture

It’s been a while since we’ve last heard from Dr. Ligaya Acosta, who drew acclaim for her sold-out performance at last January’s RH Bill forum at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. Everybody still remembers how her crazy antics had the audience rolling in the aisles…

Wait, what do you mean that was serious? Oh my.

In any case, Dr. Acosta’s at it again, but instead of more aneurysm-inducing presentations on the Reproductive Health Bill, she’s set her sights on the gay community. Ligaya goes through great lengths in her rhetoric to discuss the rising trend for gay rights, before attempting to dismiss its legitimacy.

I’ve taken the liberty of correcting her more salient points where necessary. After all, much like her, I would prefer to hear the truth of the matter 😉

Curing the “Disease”

Dr. Ligaya Anacta Acosta, regional director of Human Life International (HLI) Asia and Oceania told delegates to the “Philippines for Life” Congress that there is a need to alert the public about the campaign to promote homosexual practice, and to call people in all sectors— especially us in the Catholic Church — to make a firm and appropriate response and address different approaches available to men and women of homosexual inclination who wish to leave… the life of active homosexuality.”

Said “appropriate response” includes the use of conversion therapy from groups such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which claims that it has means of curing homosexuality, as if it were a mental disorder.

The problem is, gay conversion therapy has long been debunked by the greater medical community. The British Medical Association (BMA) has declared conversion therapy to be harmful to patients, while the American Psychological Association (APA) has removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders all the way back in 1975.

You’re probably wondering why a good doctor like Acosta would be advocating gays to undergo quack treatment to “cure” their condition. *Hint hint*: She’s not a medical doctor. Acosta’s HLI profile indicates that she has a Doctorate in Management, and Bachelor Degrees in Law and Social Work. Note the lack of certification in psychiatry, or even a graduate degree in psychology.

Discrimination? What Discrimination?

Quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, she reminded everyone that healing can be and has been found after living a homosexual lifestyle, and that “every sign of discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Acosta noted that there is an agenda to advance homosexual rights by presenting gays as a discriminated minority.

Are homosexuals really discriminated against? Whether or not the answer is yes, presenting themselves as victims of oppression is one of the steps in advancing homosexual rights, ultimately to include the recognition of such rights by the law, she said.

Let’s humor Ligaya’s question, and see what a few minutes of Googling turns up:

  • The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) actively supported the passing of Proposition 8, which criminalized gay marriages in the State of California.
  • The Roman Catholic Church opposed the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which adds sexual orientation to existing anti-discrimination laws in the United States.
  • Catholic charities refused to allow gay couples to adopt children, and while receiving state money at that.
  • The CBCP threatened legal action for a gay wedding in Baguio…against a denomination that’s not even Catholic.

And these are just the Catholic cases. I have yet to cite the more recent examples from around the globe, such as Nigeria’s recent gay marriage ban, or Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill (which was in turn linked to anti-gay Christian fundamentalism.

So despite Ligaya’s baseless posturing, we have plenty of evidence to indicate that not only are gays being discriminated against, but that one of the groups responsible for this discrimination is the RCC itself. At least we now know why she’s being so evasive.

Starstruck

“Are they really oppressed? We see many gays in the media… in fact, they lord it over [in the industry] so how can they say that they are being oppressed?” Acosta asked a group of over 200 pro-life delegates.

While it is true that the appearance of gays like Vice Ganda in Philippine cinema can be seen as progress, it is also equally true that gays are still a discriminated minority that are the target of hate crimes. These two facts do not cancel each other out. As per the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, At least 32 were killed in 2011, and another 34 in 2010, with the victims being targeted because of their sexual orientation.

Following Ligaya’s logic, it’d be like saying it’s alright not to give a damn about the chronic problem of domestic violence our women face, or that 11 of them die each day because of birth complications, because we have Sarah Geronimo, KC Concepcion, Kim Chiu, and Shamcey Supsup in the spotlight.

Her reasoning is flawless!

Illegitimate

 Being true to the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights monicker given to him, the president has established an LGBT Month (LGBT stands for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders), appointed homosexuals as key officials in government, and carried out other measures that have ended up bestowing illegitimate rights on homosexual members of society.

What Acosta calls “illegitimate,” most people see as progress to a more tolerant society that grants gays the same rights as any other person. They’re in the same vein as the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the legalization of same-sex marriage in states such as New York, and the enactment of more comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-bullying laws.

None of these measures grant any “special” or “illegitimate” privileges to the LGBT community. At the very least, they provide them with same rights as everybody else, and ensure that they don’t have to live in fear of being discriminated against.

Ligaya’s attempt to make the matter of gay equality an issue is tantamount to her crying over the fact that blacks can finally sit anywhere they damn want on a bus.

Gay Recruitment

“Hindi lang po ‘yan sa US because the policies of the United States of America affect the whole world… It’s actually also part of population control. If they cannot force us to legalize abortion or massively use contraception, then [they] promote homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. Start at kindergarten… and therefore we have to know what is the agenda.”

Yes. Because as everybody knows, going gay is the perfect alternative if your girlfriend refuses to let you do it because you’re not wearing rubber.

For the readers who’ve seen the Harvey Milk film, Ligaya’s “Gays recruiting your children in schools” argument should be familiar. It was the same mantra chanted by the Save our Children coalition founded by singer and notorious anti-gay bigot Anita Bryant.

The coalition was established to help repeal a Florida ordinance that made it illegal to discriminate based on an individual’s sexual orientation. And much like Bryant, Ligaya has yet to present any evidence that gays are indeed turning our schools into recruitment centers for their cause.

New World Order

“I have to tell you that there is a huge homosexual network all over the world, and although constituting a minority only of less than 3% of the population, we have to know that the homosexual movement is highly organized and very well-financed,” Acosta pointed out.

For once, Ligaya is right. Sort of.

There are a growing number of movements around the world that are advocating the eradication of discrimination against the LGBT community. One of the biggest being the United Nations, which passed a resolution this year declaring equal rights for all people, regardless of their gender identity.

There’s also the It Gets Better Project, established to provide moral support for LGBT teens who are being bullied and discriminated against in school because of their sexual orientation.

By contrast, Catholic-affiliated anti-gay groups such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been losing legal ground over its accusations of experiencing harassment while advocating gay discrimination; One incident involved one of its members being given mean looks as he handed out anti-gay pamphlets.

And if Ligaya really wants to push the matter of highly organized and well-funded groups with an agenda, she doesn’t have to look further than her own Human Life International. Over its history, HLI has been knee-deep in scandals regarding the accuracy of its research and its blatant…well…insanity.

Here’s a few choice words from Father Thomas Euteneuer, HLI’s president from 2000 to 2010:

Fundamentally, Harry Potter indoctrinates young souls in the language and mechanics of the occult. The fact that the fake curses and hexes are not able to be reproduced because the “ingredients” are pure fantasy is beside the point. Curses are not pure fantasy. The fact that “curse” as such, and other elements of witchcraft, are presented in a glorified state throughout the Harry Potter series means that our kids’ minds are being introduced to and imbued with occult imagery.

Euteneuer subsequently left HLI, under a cloud of suspicion that he had sexually abused a woman he was performing exorcism duties for.

If there is anything we can take away from people like Ligaya, it is that they are running scared. They are terrified of the fact that in the past few years, several landmark decisions have been made that are slowly eroding the layer upon layer of lies that the Catholic Church sits upon.

Posted in Personal, Religion, Society7 Comments

Blame Thrower 101: The RCC’s recent scapegoats

For those who’ve never watched Mystery Men, a blame thrower is a non-lethal weapon that causes the targets it affects to start blaming the guy nearest to them for their woes.

The end result is usually a fistfight, followed by much hilarity (and finger-pointing).

While the movie’s heroes have had to use a mechanical blamethrower though, the Catholic Church has gone far beyond mere toys.

In its years of existence, this institution has developed its skill to Sith levels of mindtrickery, conveniently throwing one scapegoat after another in its constant attempts to evade public outrage regarding its hypocrisy.

If you thought their name game was bad enough with the RH bill, wait ’till you get a load of their other material. Every statement is a worthy read in its own right, so like a good serving of sashimi, I’ve opted to present each snippet in its raw form, sans the usual snark.

Without further ado, here are the choice cuts:
_______________________________________

1. Secular society

Pope Benedict XVI told Vatican officials Monday that they must reflect on the church’s culpability in its child sex-abuse scandal, but he also blamed a secular society in which he said the mistreatment of children was frighteningly common.

In his traditional, end-of-the-year speech to Vatican cardinals and bishops, Benedict said revelations of abuse in 2010 reached “an unimaginable dimension” that required the church to accept the “humiliation” as a call for renewal.

“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen,” the pope said.

Benedict also said, however, that the scandal must be seen in a broader social context, in which child pornography is seemingly considered normal by society and drug use and sexual tourism are on the rise.

“The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times,” Benedict said.

_______________________________________

2. Hippies

(Reuters) – A study commissioned by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops concludes that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality caused the church’s sexual abuse crisis, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The five-year study says the abuse occurred because priests who were poorly prepared and monitored, and were under stress, landed amid the social and sexual turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s, according to the newspaper.

The “blame Woodstock” explanation has been floated by bishops for years but the study was likely to be regarded as the most authoritative analysis of the scandal in the Catholic Church in America, The Times reported.

_______________________________________

3. Satan

Sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”, according to the Holy See’s chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon”.

He added: “When one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia.”

_______________________________________

4. Gays

Speaking on a visit to Chile, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and paedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.”

_______________________________________

6. Liberalism

The most obvious change must occur within American seminaries, many of which demonstrate the same brand of cultural liberalism plaguing our secular universities. My hope was rekindled last week as our American Cardinals proposed from Rome an “apostolic visitation” of seminaries emphasizing “the need for fidelity to the Church’s teaching, especially in the area of morality.” It is an arduous task. However, the Pope made it clear last week that he expects the strong appeal of the Cardinals to be followed by decisive Episcopal action.

It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning “private” moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.

_______________________________________

7. Secular Media

The Vatican has attacked the media over charges that the Pope failed to act against a US priest accused of abusing up to 200 deaf boys two decades ago.

A Vatican newspaper editorial said the claims were an “ignoble” attack on the Pope and that there was no “cover-up”.

The head of the UK Catholic church said the Pope had made important changes to the way abuse was dealt with.

The Catholic church has been hit by a series of allegations in Europe and the US over the past months.

The latest allegations stem from the US, after it emerged that Archbishops had complained in 1996 about a priest, Fr Lawrence Murphy. Their complaints went to a Vatican office led by the future Pope Benedict XVI.

_______________________________________

8. Jews

Monsignor Giacomo Babini, the Bishop Emeritus of Grossetto, was quoted by the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, given that it was “powerful and refined” in nature.

Bishop Babini denied he had made any anti-Semitic remarks. He was backed by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), which issued a declaration by Bishop Babini in which he said: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”

However, Bruno Volpe, who interviewed Monsignor Babini for Pontifex, confirmed that the bishop had made the statement, which was reported widely in the Italian press today. Pontifex threatened to release the audio tape of the interview as proof.

_______________________________

Of course, with the RCC as it is today, you may also want to keep on the lookout in case they decide to take their scapegoating up another notch in the near future.

Now if you’ve just finished reading all that, I leave the floor to the readers. Enjoy. Discuss. Deconstruct. Facepalm.

Posted in Humor, Religion, Society14 Comments

Fight Night, May 8: HARAPAN RH Bill

Attention fellow heathens, blasphemers, filibusters, fornicators, teroristas, and Nazis of all colors! If you don’t have any plans for this Sunday evening, you might want to take a look at ABS-CBN’s upcoming HARAPAN debate:

(Re-posted with permission from The Nightingale Chronicles)

HARAPAN
RH Bill: Ipasa o Ibasura?
The Grand Debate
May 8, 2011/Sunday/9:15pm – 11pm

Debate Moderators:

  • Julius Babao
  • Karen Davila

Venue:

PDA Hall or Studio 6 (ABS-CBN Compound)

Opening Statements ng Pro-RH at Anti-RH – 2mins each
Ano ang RH Bill? 3 Malalaking isyu sa bill

___________________________________________

Issue 1: Saan ba nagsisimula ang buhay? (When does life begin?)
Debate Proper I

Anti-RH

  • Fr. Melvin Castro
  • Dr. Ligaya Acosta
  • Couples for Christ (CFC) representative

Pro-RH

  • Protestant Bishop Rodrigo Tano
  • Dr. Esperanza Cabral
  • Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) representative

Poll Partial Results (Online & Text)

___________________________________________

Issue 2: Responsible Parenthood, Overpopulation, State Intervention, and Contraception
Debate Proper II

Anti-RH

  • Rep. Anthony Golez
  • Rep. Roilo Golez
  • Joey Lina

Pro-RH

  • Rep. Edcel Lagman
  • Rep. Janette Garin
  • Carlos Celdran

Fast Facts or Poll Partial Results (Online & Text)

___________________________________________

Issues 3: Sex Education, Access/Right to Information, Women’s Rights
Debate Proper III

Anti-RH

  • Atty. Jo Imbong
  • Christine Jacob Sandejas

Pro-RH

  • Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel
  • Beth Angsioco

___________________________________________

CONCLUSION: Summary of points raised
FINAL TALLY OF PULSO NG BAYAN (online & text surveys)

If it were a matter of brute strength, our side has that in spades ,with speakers like Ms. Baraquel, Ms. Angsioco, Mr. Celdran, and Dr. Cabral offering their collective ass-kicking rhetoric to defend the bill. It’s beauty and brains, muscle and finesse, all rolled into one deadly combination!

On the other hand, the opposition is also worth a look. Will Dr. Acosta befuddle us once again with  those unorthodox, mind-numbing tactics she’s become notorious for in previous bouts?

Will Golez whips his trademark rope-a-dope strategy to  wear down the opposition? What the man doesn’t have in technical finesse or instinct, he makes up for with experience and tenacity.

And of course, remember to participate in the polls – the Anti-RH bloc just loves to brag about how they’ve got the winning team. A good pharngulating of ABS-CBN’s polls should let them know otherwise.

Posted in Announcements, Religion, Science, Society43 Comments

Seven Dirty Words: What they've called pro-RH so far

Ever since the whole business with the Reproductive Health Bill erupted, I’ve witnessed just how creative the Filipino people can become in trying to push an issue.

Now, while I’d love to gloss over some of FF’s accomplishments in the past, the frequently requested performance at the Women’s Day Rally (go Margie! w00t!), I think it’s only fair we cover the other side.

Supporters of the Consolidated Reproductive Health bill have been battered left and right by the Anti-RH bloc, who have resorted to some truly diverse choice of language.

But aside from the usual accusations of us being “murderers,” “heathens,” “secularists,” and “abortionists”, some of our detractors have gone the extra mile with one-of-a-kind statements that take the mudslinging up to eleven, leaving our own “DAMASO!” seem feeble by comparison.

So sit back, take a break from the frantic exchanges regarding this issue, and witness some of the more colorful accusations that have been thrown at the RH Bill and its motley lot of supporters.

On a side note, I do understand that there are plenty more colorful names on the net that I have yet to discover. If you find any, do let us know over at our FB page :D.
__________________________________________________________________________

The Dirty Word: Satan
Who said it: Bishop Leo M. Drona

“In this fight against RH Bill, our true enemies are not the people (who proposed it) but Satan. It is the evil that is manipulating the minds of all (pro RH Bill Congressmen) or those higher ups in the world. This is the reason why it is difficult to fight this enemy,” the prelate admitted.

He said this issue about the RH Bill is not only the concern of Catholics (Christians) but of all Filipinos of good will.

On a related note guys, it was not too long ago, that a Vatican official – their chief exorcist at that seriously tried to blame the Devil for the ever-increasing reports of sex abuse being committed by priests. Padre, do you know who else blamed the devil for everything?

Kathy Bates.

It goes without saying that Satan has always been the church’s umbrella term for anything that displeases them, and I am seriously beginning to feel sorry for the guy.

And apparently the RCC’s beginning to realize it’s becoming very old rhetoric too, as another high-ranking member of the CBCP attempted to pull something straight out of Dubya’s scare-monger’s cookbook…
__________________________________________________________________________

The Dirty Word: Terrorist
Who said it: Archbishop Jose Palma

“Walang pinagkaiba sa mga terorista ang mga mambatas na sumusuporta sa RH Bill” (Law-makers who support RH Bill are no different than terrorists), said Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP vice president.

Earth to Palma: It wasn’t those damn dirty atheists and freethinkers that resorted to veiled threats of civil disobedience, if their demands were not met. Neither were the Pro-RH guys the ones guilty of a conceited self-entitlement that made them think that their belief over sexuality is the only rule to follow, or that separation of church and state only happens to other people.

But looking it another way, I guess Palma might have a point: A lot of guys on our side are ‘da bomb! (Sue me, I’ve been waiting to say that for a week XC).
__________________________________________________________________________

The Dirty word: Tsunami
Who said it: Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

“Let us not only walk for life. Let us, without cease and without fear, stand, fight, work and pray for life … For today, there are forces that threaten the right to life itself, especially the right of the Unborn,” Davide, a KC member, said in a statement.

“The threats to life caused by earthquakes or tsunamis, or even nuclear radiation, and terrorism and war pale in comparison to the destruction of life or the threat to life by state policies or legislation,” he added.

To put his statement in context, at the time Japan was still reeling from the effects of massive tsunami that struck the Fukushima prefecture, which resulted in billions of dollars of damages, and tens of thousands of deaths.

And at a time when the world was rightfully grieving for those who died and sending whatever aid they could, Davide just couldn’t resist feeding off the victims’ suffering just to fuel his few minutes of fame.

And speaking of shameless ghouls…
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The Dirty Word: Martial Law
Who said it: Lito Atienza

Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza said yesterday that the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is “worse than Martial Law,” reports PhilStar.com. According to the report, Atienza claimed that people who will not practice contraception use stand to be jailed from one to six months.

Calling the RH Bill “unconstitutional” and “anti-life,” Atienza added that congressmen who support the passage of the bill would expect an extra P10 million, which he calls their “condom development fund,” to be added to their pork barrel.

Strong words from a man who banned contraceptives in Manila back in 1998, in an attempt to distract the populace from his atrocious choice in floral-pattern shirts. Rounding out his retinue is the blasting of gay marriages alongside the issue of the RH Bill, and banning The Da Vinci Code film in Manila not because it bored viewers to tears (Sorry Tom Hanks – we still love you), but because he genuinely thought it might damage his Catholic Faith.
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The Dirty Word: Imperialist
Who said it: JC De Los Reyes

He has opposed the reproductive health code, saying it is a dictated and imperialist law that muddles women’s rights. He is also against the establishment of Ocean 9 Casino in Subic and the commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Plant.

He has been an organizer of Kapatiran sa Pangkalahatang Kabutihan (KPK) as early as 1998 and worked for the Comelec accreditation of AKP in 2004. He was the lone winner of AKP in 2007 when the Party fielded 30 candidates for national and local positions.

An imperialist that subverts women’s rights? For a minute there, I was almost convinced that JC was actually on our side.

JC’s stance (and probably his young, boyish looks) won him the overwhelming support of the CBCP and its followers back in the 2010 elections. He subsequently finished dead last in the elections, losing by several magnitudes to Vetallano Acosta, a disqualified presidentiable.
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The Dirty Word: New World Order
Who said it: bebarrs

Reproductive Health Bill is a conspiracy created in order to allegedly stop the ballooning population of Filipinos in the guise of addressing poverty issues that were apparently exaggerated by the New World Order in the Philippines.

The truth and purpose behind restraining the Filipino population via the approval of the Reproductive Health Bill, is nothing but to easily monitor and control the activities of each and every Filipino local and abroad and continue the New World Orders dominion over Philippine Politics, Media and Businesses.

Alright, I admit I cheated a bit here. Bukisa is hardly known on the web, and I have no idea who bebarrs really is. But c’mon – where else can you find an article that lumps together the UN, the Illuminati, the New World Order, and the RH bill into one grand conspiracy against the Filipino people? I’d cite Jose C. Sison over at Philstar, but even he hasn’t gone over the deep end. Yet.
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The Dirty Word: NAZIS!!!
Who said it: Froilan Vincent D. Bersamina

I’m talking about the latest Hitlerian, neo-fascist stunt of pro-Reproductive Health bill’s mindless mob composed of socialists and a collective of neo-mystics and neo-Nazis (the Filipino Freefarters) who protested and attempted to desecrate the gathering of anti-RH bill Catholics inside the Manila Cathedral.

I call their stupid, pathetic stunt “Hitlerian” because it simply parallels the evil strategy employed by Hitler and his followers before the Nazis’ rise to power: the use of subversion and provocative demonstrations to promote their statist agenda designed to fool the unthinking people. I call this pro-RH bill mob “socialists”, “neo-fascists”, “neo-Nazis”, and “neo-mystics” because of their rights-violating acts and their subversive intention to impose their will on others. Their rights-violating acts are the by-product of their utter stupidity and ignorance.

Of course, no list of this sort would be complete without our old friend, the dude who runs the Vincenton Post. I can’t honestly say anything that’s even half as entertaining as what he’s already said in there, so I leave our readers to enjoy his text.

Posted in Humor, Personal, Religion, Society19 Comments

RCC: Attacking our bigotry violates our human rights!

Proof once again that the Catholic Church is a big, spineless bully: Attempting to play the victim when people start calling out their anti-gay bullshit.

People who criticise gay sexual relations for religious or moral reasons are increasingly being attacked and vilified for their views, a Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Roman Catholic Church deeply believed that human sexuality was a gift reserved for married heterosexual couples. But those who express these views are faced with “a disturbing trend,” he said.

“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex,” he told the current session of the Human Rights Council.

“When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatised, and worse — they are vilified, and prosecuted.

“These attacks are violations of fundamental human rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances,” Tomasi said.

What pisses me off the most is that while this news report was written in the context of the church’s activities in Europe, it is also an issue I find close to home; One I literally found in my own backyard.

As you’ve seen in my previous article, the RCC has gone as far as attempting to indoctrinate innocent young minds with their brand of hatred, while their leaders have had the audacity to demand that matters such as women’s welfare should not be forced on their schools, because it would infringe on their religious “moral” teachings.

It’s a blatant double standard that’s become a signature of RCC apologists, and the more they try to play this game, the more I am convinced that these bigots deserve no respect.

They are, of course well within their rights to talk about their stance on homosexuality. But the same rules apply to us too. And while they may bitch and moan, they can’t invoke “blashpemy” or religious discrimination when we decide that enough is enough – at least not anymore – and actively call out these shameless motherfuckers for the cretins they are.

Posted in Personal, Religion, Society19 Comments

It's *not* okay to be gay: A tale from a Catholic school

A few weeks ago, my sister was telling us about one of the more memorable presentations her class had in the Immaculate Conception Academy.

My sister is in high school, and for those of you who have never set foot in a Catholic school before, each school year includes a mandatory Christian Life Education (CLE) class or its equivalent, where students are taught the basics tenets of Catholic education.

Getting back on topic, sis narrated that one of the groups in class was asked to do a presentation on why homosexuality is wrong. To summarize the presentation’s points:

  • Homosexuality is a psychological problem.
  • Gays became that way because they experimented with what the media presents.
  • Gays shouldn’t be condemned for being what they are, as long as they don’t act upon it.
  • Gays should be pitied.
  • Homosexuality can be cured.
  • Gays only want to marry so they can have limes and lemons
  • Gay couples cannot be good parents
  • Marriage is only for straight couples
  • It’s not love unless it’s straight.

Granted there is plenty of data countering each of these points, but that’s not the reason I’m hunkered down in front of my laptop, and writing this short piece. My reason is simple: to illustrate the sort of “values formation” that a lot of these Catholic schools indoctrinate their students in.

It is an important point to raise, given that religious freedom is one of the more common arguments the Catholic Church uses against the Reproductive Health Bill.

That is, for their leaders, the RH Bill’s sex education program will teach people family planning methods not supported by their laws, namely contraceptive use. Practically any debate that starts up will begin with this argument from Pro-Lifers, who believe that anything contrary to the church’s teachings on sexuality is unacceptable, and is a breach of their right to teach.

And by extension, church leaders have also questioned the RH Bill with regard to how much authority it will leave with their own private schools. Recent discussions have gone in this direction, with Jesuits discussing the matter on whether Catholic schools should have the right to implement their own sex education curriculum, based on their religious beliefs.

The problem is, where does one draw the line on what Catholic schools – or schools owned by a religious institution for that matter – can teach their kids, when it’s become bleeding obvious that it’s become a platform for bigotry?

Values formation indeed.

On a parting note, I do leave with some good news. My sister also told me that virtually everybody in the class thought the presentation was bullshit, and hence didn’t believe it. Perhaps it’s worth noting that sis has also mentioned that their entire class admitted to being Gleek.

Kurt is awesome that way.

Posted in Humor, Personal, Religion82 Comments

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