sábado, 18 de agosto de 2012

Be fruitful and multiply and have 1.7 kids ... and a dog? - by Allan Carlson

In MercatorNet 

Luther regarded contraception as among the most wicked of sins. So why had nearly all Protestant denominations embraced the practice by the 1970s?

The Protestant Reformation was in significant part a protest against the perceived antinatalism of the late Medieval Christian Church. It was a celebration of procreation that also saw contraception and abortion as among the most wicked of human sins, as direct affronts to the ordinances of God. This background makes the Protestant "sellout" on contraception in the mid 20th Century all the more surprising, and disturbing.

As the Augustinian monk, theologian, and "first Protestant" Martin Luther viewed his world in the second decade of the 16th Century, he saw a Christianity in conflict with family life and fertility. Church tradition held that the taking of vows of chastity -- as a priest, monk, or cloistered sister -- was spiritually superior to the wedded life. In consequence, about one-third of adult European Christians were in Holy Orders.

Tied to this, Luther said, was widespread misogyny, or a hatred of women, as reflected in a saying attributed to St. Jerome: "If you find things going too well, take a wife." Most certainly, the late Medieval Church saw marriage and children as "hindrances" to spiritual work. At the same time, Luther argued that spiritual discipline had broken down, with vows of chastity frequently not observed. His voice joined lay complaints about certain bishops who kept concubines, monks who caroused in the taverns, and priests who preyed sexually on their parishioners, without serious rebuke.

“Be fruitful and multiply”

In constructing his evangelical family ethic, Luther placed emphasis on Genesis 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply." This was more than a command; he called it "a divine ordinance [werck] which it is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore." Indeed, Luther saw procreation as the very essence of the human life in Eden before the Fall. As he explained in his Lectures on Genesis: "truly in all nature there was no activity more excellent and more admirable than procreation. After the proclamation of the name of God it is the most important activity Adam and Eve in the state of innocence could carry on -- as free from sin in doing this as they were in praising God." The Fall brought sin into this pure, exuberant fertility. Even so, Luther praised each conception of a new child as an act of "wonderment…wholly beyond our understanding," a miracle bearing the "lovely music of nature," a faint reminder of life before the Fall:

This living-together of husband and wife -- that they occupy the same home, that they take care of the household, that together they produce and bring up children -- is a kind of faint image and a remnant, as it were, of that blessed living together [in Eden].

And so, Luther elevated marriage to "the highest religious order on earth," concluding that "we may be assured that man and woman should and must come together in order to multiply." He stressed that it was "not a matter of free choice…but a natural and necessary thing, that whatever is a man must have a woman and whatever is a woman must have a man." He urged that the convents be emptied, emphasizing that "a woman is not created to be a virgin, but to conceive and bear children." Indeed, Luther's marital pronatalism had no restraints: wives ought to be continually pregnant, he said, because "this is the purpose for which they exist."

Just as important, he called men home to serve as "housefathers" dedicated to the rearing of Christian children. In a wonderful passage, Luther describes the father who confesses to God "that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother." Luther then assures him that "when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child…God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling…because [the father] is doing so in Christian faith."

The wickedness of contraception

Luther knew that the contraceptive mentality was alive and well in his own time. He noted that this "inhuman attitude, which is worse than barbarous," was found chiefly among the well born, "the nobility and princes." Elsewhere, he linked contraception to selfishness:

How great, therefore, the wickedness of [fallen] human nature is! How many girls there are who prevent conception and kill and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God! Indeed, some spouses who marry and live together…have various ends in mind, but rarely children.

In short, Luther's fierce rejection of contraception and abortion lay at the very heart of his reforming zeal and his evangelical theology. His own marriage to Katherine von Bora and their brood of children set a model for the Protestant Christian home, one that would stand for nearly four hundred years.

And yet, by the 1960's and 1970's, virtually all Protestant churches -- in America as in Europe -- embraced contraception and (somewhat less frequently) abortion as compatible with Christian ethics. Pope Paul VI's courageous opposition to these acts in the 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, won broad condemnation from Protestant leaders as an attempt to impose "Catholic views" on the world. Even leaders of "conservative" denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention would welcome as "a blow for Christian liberty" the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortion as a free choice during the first six months (and in practice for all nine months) of a pregnancy. Not a single significant Protestant voice raised opposition in the 1960's and early 1970's to the massive entry of the U.S. government into the promotion and distribution of contraceptives, nationally and worldwide.

The great reversal -- in England

How had a central pillar of the evangelical Protestant ethic been reversed so completely?

Some recent historical investigations offer partial answers. For example, the first formal break came within the Anglican communion, or the Church of England, with the clergy themselves leading the way. In 1911, the neo-Malthusian advocates of population limitation celebrated the results of England's new census, showing that Anglican clergymen had an average of only 2.3 children, well-below their 1874 figure of 5.2. The Malthusians saw this as clear evidence of deliberate family limitation.

The Census results also added fuel to the arguments of dissident clergymen that a solution to England's poverty problems must include the birth of fewer children. These pressures culminated at the Anglican Church's 1930 Lambeth Conference, where delegates heard an address by birth control advocate Helena Wrighton on the advantages of contraception for the poor. On a 193 to 67 vote, the Conference passed a resolution stating that "in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, …other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles."

In America

There was an immediate American Protestant echo. In 1931, the Committee on Home and Marriage of the Federal Council of Churches (an ecumenical body that embraced Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Church of the Brethren denominations) issued a statement defending family limitation and urging the repeal of laws prohibiting contraceptive education and sales.

Even a church body committed to a defense of pure Lutheran orthodoxy -- the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) -- stumbled on this question. As late as 1923, the Synod's official publication, The Witness, accused the Birth Control Federation of America of spattering "this country with slime," and labelled birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger a "she devil". A popular 1932 volume on pastoral theology directly paraphrased Luther in stating that "women with many children are in middle age much more beautiful than those who have few children."

Yet a countercurrent was gaining force, with LCMS clergy and theologians in the dubious lead. Similar to the Anglican experience, the average number of children found in clerical families fell from 6.5 in 1890 to 3.7 by 1920. The overall LCMS baptism rate declined from 58 baptisms per 1,000 members in 1885, to 37 in 1913, and 24 in 1932. In the late 1940's, a leading LCMS professor of theology, Alfred Rehwinckel, said that Luther had simply been wrong: the Genesis phrase, "Be fruitful and multiply," was merely a blessing, not a command. Rehwinckel went on to defend Margaret Sanger with a sympathetic history of family planning. By 1964, the Synod officially held that problems of poverty and overpopulation should help guide thinking about family size.

The 1961 North American Conference on Church and Family

Such views spread at a still more rapid pace among the Protestant "mainline" churches. Held near the end of the post World War II "baby boom," when American family life for a brief period again seemed somewhat healthy, the 1961 North American Conference on Church and Family of the National Council of Churches (successor to the FCC) can only be called extraordinary. Setting a radical theme, keynote speaker J.C. Wynn of Colgate Divinity School dismissed existing Protestant books and pronouncements on the family and sexuality as "depressingly platitudinous" and "comfortably dull," a regrettable "works righteousness." A second keynoter praised this conference for its intended merger of Christianity with new insights from the sciences, "a mighty symbol of the readiness of the churches to ground their policy formation in objective, solid data."

Other speakers formed a veritable "Who's Who" of sexual radicalism. Lester Kirkendall said that America had "entered a sexual economy of abundance," where contraception would allow unrestrained sexual experimentation without the burden of children. Wardell Pomeroy of the [Kinsey] Institute of Sex Research explained how the new science of sexology required the abandonment of all old moral categories. Psychologist Evelyn Hooker [sic] praised the healthily sterile lives of homosexuals. Planned Parenthood's Mary Calderone made the case for universal contraceptive use, while colleague Alan Guttmacher urged the reform of America's "mean spirited" anti-abortion laws.

Not a single speaker spoke in the spirit of the old Protestant pronatalist ethic. Indeed, this ethic now stood as the chief enemy. The conference endorsed development of a new evangelical sexual ethic, one "relevant to our culture," sensitive to the overpopulation crisis, and grounded in modern science.

Member denominations soon complied. In a 1970 Report, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) rejected the old "taboos and prohibitions" and gave its blessing to "mass contraceptive techniques," homosexuality, and low-cost abortion on demand. The same year, the Lutheran Church in America fully embraced contraception and abortion as responsible choices. And in 1977, the United Church of Christ celebrated the terms "freedom," "sensuousness," and "androgyny," and declared free access to contraception and abortion as matters of justice.

The weakness of natural reason confronting the spirit of the age

Yet these historical episodes still beg the question: why? The easiest answer might be to point to the multiple "revolutions" of the last two-hundred years -- industrial, urban, scientific, and democratic -- as creating an overwhelming pressure for accommodation and change, which no religious institution could stop.

And yet, the very existence of Humanae Vitae gives a counter example of a religious body that has mounted a fierce opposition to the spirit of the age. There is no small irony in the fact that it would be the Roman Pontiff who would lead (often painfully alone) the opposition to contraception at the end of the 20th Century. Perhaps the Catholic hierarchical model, reserving final decision on matters of faith and morals to the successor of Peter, has proved more resilient than the Protestant reliance on individual conscience and democratic church governance?

Or perhaps Luther would simply acknowledge that his old enemy, "that clever harlot, Natural Reason," had come back in new guise at the Second Millenium's end. By natural reason, he meant the wisdom of the world, unformed and unregulated by Divine witness in Holy Scripture. As he "quoted" this beast back in 1522:

Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this, and take care of that,…endure this and endure that…? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself?

In our time, these same sentiments might be found on the lips of "the Playboy philsopher," the "female eunuch," or the "sexologist" at an NCC Christian conference. Luther well understood the nature of human sin and the power of fallen "reason" to twist words and science to its ends. He would be disappointed by the near-collapse of his evangelical family and sexual ethic; but he probably would not be surprised.

Resistance and change

And yet there are alternate Protestant Christian models, even in our own troubled age. Scattered bands rooted in radical Anabaptism -- including the Hutterites and the Amish -- have kept "natural reason" and the modern world at bay by the cultivation and defense of separatist, rural identities. Ever open to the transmission of new life, their families are large and their marriages relatively strong. "Fundamentalist" Christians have also held more tightly to a positive view of fertility. A 1958 survey in the Southern Appalachians found that 81 percent of "fundamentalists" believed birth control to be "always" or "sometimes" wrong, compared to only 40 percent of "nonfundamentalists." In 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution raising serious questions about birth control. More recently, Protestant renewal movements count many couples that reject contraception and welcome the children that God sends, in His time.

It is these communities, I suggest, which remain faithful to the authentic evangelical family and sexual ethic, crafted in the 16th Century. The evidence suggesting their growth at the end of the 20th Century may be the sign of a better, more family-centric time ahead.

Allan Carlson, PhD, is the founder and president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society and currently is Distinguished Visiting Professor of History at Hillsdale College. He is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 

Dr Carlson is the author of numerous books -- most recently Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973, in which he examines how mid-twentieth-century evangelical leaders eventually followed the mainstream into a quiet embrace of contraception, complemented by a brief acceptance of abortion.

The above article was previously published in the journal Family Policy, June 1999.

In Focus 02/17/12- Matt Trewhella with Dr. Allan C. Carlson; Godly Seed

In Focus 02/17/12- Matt Trewhella with Dr. Allan C. Carlson; Godly Seed from VCY America TV on Vimeo.

quinta-feira, 16 de agosto de 2012

An open letter to Cardinal Dolan about the Obama invitation - by Judie Brown

Your Eminence,

During the last week, there has been much written on diocesan websites and by other bishops concerning the controversy created by your invitation to President Obama to attend the Alfred E. Smith dinner. Much of what has been written seeks to justify that invitation.

American Life League recently launched an effort to convince you to rescind that invitation. The reason for this memo is to let you know exactly why we are doing what we are doing.

First, let me point out that Cardinal Egan invited Mr. Obama to this same dinner four years ago and we did not object. Although we disagreed with Obama’s basic philosophies, we felt that an attempt by the cardinal to show congeniality was worth trying.

However, it is now four years later and it is clear that whatever the cardinal hoped to accomplish at the 2008 dinner did not work. In four short years, President Obama has done everything in his power to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church. As you know, he is implementing programs and policies that may soon make it necessary for the Church to repudiate our basic beliefs or close down all of our charitable and educational organizations.

Your Eminence, Mr. Obama has a long history with the Catholic Church. From his days as a community organizer working with Catholic churches in Chicago to his current attack on our beliefs, Obama has shown himself to be a shrewd politician with a captivating personality. How else do you explain the fact that, despite his very public support of abortion, contraception, and Planned Parenthood, he received 54 percent of the Catholic vote in 2008?

The question is NOT why you invited Mr. Obama to the dinner. The real question is why he accepted.

I submit to you that the reason he accepted is that he has nothing to lose. The Al Smith Foundation website touts that, at the 2008 dinner, Obama displayed “wit, wisdom, warmth, and wile.” I am sure the author of those words thought he was being totally complimentary, but the fact is that he was very accurate. Synonyms for “wile” are, of course, “hoax,” “ploy,” “scam,” and “deception.”

I believe Mr. Obama sees the 2012 Al Smith dinner as an opportunity to, once again, use his wiles to entice the Catholics in America to “trust” him——a trust that he has betrayed time and time again.

Your Eminence, when I think of the outcome of the event - where you are seen hosting both candidates for president - I am convinced the idea that will be transmitted through the images of that dinner will be that a vote for either candidate is okay with the hierarchy.

This is precisely why American Life League launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign. We don’t want Catholics to be confused about the most pro-abortion president in American history. Our duty is to be faithful and to defend moral principles, while begging our hierarchy to do the same.

We pray for you, and all members of the hierarchy, “Lead us out of temptation and toward truth, particularly today when so much is at stake.”

You and the bishops of the Church have convinced us over the last several months that the future of the Catholic Church in America is hanging in the balance. We MUST oppose the contraceptive mandate and all of the other affronts the current administration is throwing at us.

Inviting the head of that administration to dinner and a night of humor and congeniality is NOT how we are going to save our Church.

Please, your Eminence, cancel the invitation or cancel the dinner. If you do neither, I am very afraid that, at this time next year, you may be forced to cancel most Church activities that take place outside the confines of your physical churches.

Asking the blessing of Your Eminence, I am,

Yours respectfully in Christ,

Judie Brown, President
American Life League

Invitación a Obama no es respaldo ni premio, explica Cardenal Dolan

NUEVA YORK, 16 Ago. 12 / 10:22 am (ACI/EWTN Noticias).- El Arzobispo de Nueva York y Presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, Cardenal Timothy M. Dolan, explicó que su decisión de invitar al Presidente Barack Obama a una cena de caridad no es una muestra de respaldo ni un premio, sino que busca comprometer al mandatario con la defensa y promoción de los auténticos valores humanos.

El Purpurado señaló que la "invitación a la cena Al Smith no es un premio o una plataforma para exponer perspectivas contrarias a la Iglesia".

En vez de ello, precisó, la cena "es una ocasión para conversar", diseñada para reunir a gente en una "noche de amistad, civilidad y patriotismo, para ayudar a los necesitados y no para respaldar a un candidato".

El 14 de agosto en su blog de la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York, el Cardenal respondió a las críticas que ha recibido por invitar al mandatario a la cena para recaudar fondos de la mencionada fundación. Con este acto el Arzobispo siguió una tradición de décadas de invitar a los dos candidatos, el demócrata y el republicano. Los voceros han señalado que ambos asistirán. 

La decisión del Arzobispo generó críticas entre algunos católicos que consideran que esta decisión podría minar la intensa labor de los obispos para defender la libertad religiosa amenazas por la actual administración que ha impuesto un mandato abortista por el cual las instituciones católicas deben comprar seguros para sus empleados que incluyan la anticoncepción, la esterilización y fármacos abortivos.

A eso se suma el abierto apoyo de Obama al mal llamado "matrimonio" gay que también ha recibido fuertes críticas por parte de los católicos en Estados Unidos.

El Cardenal Dolan explicó que la cena lleva el nombre de Al Smith, el primer católico designado como candidato presidencial en 1928, y busca recaudar fondos para apoyar a madres y sus bebés, incluyendo los no nacidos.

El Purpurado se disculpó si es que su decisión ha generado escándalo, como algunos de sus críticos señalan, y reiteró que la presencia de los candidatos no es un respaldo. La invitación a Obama, dijo, fue "un caso de juicio prudente" basado en principios católicos.

Asimismo explicó que es mejor abrir las puertas del diálogo en vez de cerrarlas a aquellos con quienes uno no está de acuerdo, recordando la amabilidad con la que el Papa Benedicto XVI recibió al presidente Obama en una visita. 

"Y con el ambiente actual, nosotros los obispos hemos sostenido que estamos abiertos al diálogo con la administración para tratar de resolver nuestras diferencias. ¿Qué mensaje enviaría si rechazara encontrarme con el presidente?"

El Cardenal hizo un pedido para que los fieles –ya sea que estén de acuerdo o no con su decisión– recen por él y sus hermanos obispos mientras trabajan para tomar decisiones difíciles. 

Recordando luego que Cristo fue criticado por comer con pecadores, comentó que "si sólo me sentara con personas que están de acuerdo conmigo o con santos, estaría siempre comiendo solo".

10000 singing Beethoven - Ode an die Freude / Ode to Joy

quarta-feira, 15 de agosto de 2012

Revolucionarios - Juan Manuel de Prada

Inquirido por Tatiana G. Rivas por sus «referentes morales», el alcalde Gordillo mete en el ajo a Cristo, en tan grata compañía como la del Che Guevara, Hugo Chávez y Fidel Castro (más Gandhi, que es el perejil buenista de todas las salsas), en un batiburrillo característico del hombre con empanada mental.

Esta manía de meter a Cristo en el guiso revolucionario es abuso muy arraigado entre todos los que quieren alcanzar el Paraíso en la Tierra, que es exactamente lo que Cristo jamás prometió. Castellani sitúa el origen de este abuso cuando un socialista pelmazo le dijo a Donoso Cortés: «Jesucristo fue el primer revolucionario del mundo». A lo que respondió el gran pensador español: «Pero Jesucristo no derramó más sangre que la suya».

A juicio de Castellani, Donoso le tendría que haber escrachado al socialista la cara de un sopapo, «librándolo a él de un error y librando a la humanidad para siempre de esa necedad de empastelar los conceptos». Ahora, con la primavera de la democracia que nos ha traído internet, esta necedad te la suelta cualquier andoba: pones en el Google la frase de aquel socialista pelmazo y en un santiamén el algoritmo te detecta a más de dos millones de tíos con las meninges empasteladas por los planes de la LOGSE o las misas guitarreras repitiendo como papagayos la misma necedad. Pero lo cierto es que Cristo vino a reconciliar consigo todo lo que existe en la tierra y en cielo, por la sangre de su cruz; lo que, mirado con las anteojeras de la política, más bien parece oficio de restaurador que de revolucionario. Y quizá aquí se halle la principal diferencia entre restauradores y revolucionarios: pues las restauraciones se hacen con sangre propia; y las revoluciones con sangre ajena, que sale mucho más barata.

Pero el alcalde Gordillo tampoco quiere que llegue la sangre al río. De momento, ya que no está de su mano multiplicar los panes y los peces, se conforma con asaltar supermercados, porque -según dice- «hemos tocado la tecla que molesta»; y afirma que seguirá haciéndolo «si no hacen nada para remediarlo». Esta indeterminación semántica es también muy propia del revolucionario: toca la tecla que molesta (¿a quiénes?), amenaza con seguir tocándola si no hacen nada por remediarlo (¿quiénes?), etcétera. Y esto es lo que más nos acojona de los revolucionarios, porque de inmediato intuimos que en esa instancia indeterminada se incluye todo quisque, desde la cajera del Mercadona al banquero. Fuera de esa instancia genérica de réprobos antirrevolucionarios, se encuentra... «la gente»:

-Yo vivo con la gente. Estoy con ellos en todo momento- afirma Gordillo.

Que es una casi paráfrasis paródica de aquella frase evangélica: «Yo estoy con vosotros todos los días hasta el fin del mundo». Al final del mundo, Cristo anunció que volvería en gloria y majestad, pero con Sánchez Gordillo asaltando supermercados ya no hace falta que venga, porque el Paraíso en la Tierra habrá quedado instaurado para siempre. El paraíso revolucionario es un supermercado donde puedes arramblar con todo lo que pilles sin pasar por caja (y sin que piten los detectores).

-Soy una persona cercana. Soy un referente moral para la gente -dice Sánchez Gordillo con proverbial modestia, aprovechando que su abuela no pasaba por allí cerca.

Como Castro, como el Che, como Cristo... Sánchez Gordillo no tiene edad para haber sufrido los planes de la LOGSE; pero apostaría el pescuezo a que de adolescente se chupó unas cuantas misas guitarreras, con el falso credo de Mejía Godoy sonando a todo trapo: «El romano imperialista, / puñetero y desalmado...».

The (Complete) Lack of a Scientific Basis for Banning Sexual-Orientation Change Efforts with Minors onference Agenda - By Christopher Rosik, Ph.D.


Claims by Sen. Lieu and SB 1172 of widespread harms to minors
from SOCE represent rhetoric, not research.

"The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill because we don't want to let parents harm their children," he said. "For example, the government will not allow parents to let their kids smoke cigarettes. We also won't have parents let their children consume alcohol at a bar or restaurant."

-- California State Sen. Ted Lieu, as quoted by the Orange County Register, August 2, 2012


            Sponsored by state Senator Lieu (D-Torrance), California Senate Bill 1172, which will prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in SOCE with minors under any conditions, appears on its way to the desk of Governor Brown and could very well become state law.   The most important revision to the bill reads as follows:

865.2 - Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.

As is plainly evident, should SB 1172 become law, licensed therapists in California who would otherwise be willing to assist minor clients in modifying their unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors will be seriously jeopardizing their professional livelihoods. In defense of this bill's clear intent to intimidate therapists and supplant the rights of parents, Sen. Lieu has publicly compared the harms of SOCE to minors with those of alcohol and cigarettes. This comparison certainly sounds like a compelling analogy and clearly implies there is a conclusive body of scientific evidence behind the legislation.

            But like so many claims of SB 1172 supporters, this analogy seems to have been accepted at face value. Since Sen. Lieu's claim can be subjected to empirical verification by searching relevant databases, I decided to conduct such a search. Assuming the scientific basis for banning SOCE with minors is similar to that of banning cigarettes and alcohol, we should expect that the number of articles in the scientific literature for each of these health concerns would be roughly equivalent.

Procedure and Results

            To test this hypothesis, I conducted a search of the PsycARTICLES and MEDLINE databases. PsycARTICLES is a definitive source of full text, peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific articles in psychology, including the nearly 80 journals published by the American Psychological Association. MEDLINE provides authoritative medical information on medicine, nursing, and other related fields covering more than 1,470 journals. I searched all abstracts from these databases using combinations of key words best suited to identify studies related to the question of interest. Below are the totals for articles on cigarettes and alcohol (words preceding an asterisk indicate that the search included all words with that stem, so that a search for "minor*" would include both "minor" and "minors").

Key Words                                 Total Articles                           Earliest Article

Children & Alcohol                            4465                                         1917
Children & Cigarettes                         883                                          1970
Adolescent* & Alcohol                      6180                                          1917
Adolescent* & Cigarettes                  1252                                          1971
Minor* & Alcohol                              2670                                          1944   
Minor* & Cigarettes                            356                                          1973

            These totals make clear that the literature regarding youth as related to alcohol and cigarettes is extensive, with studies numbering in the thousands. With such a sizeable database, one could reasonably expect that observations relative to the harms of cigarettes and alcohol among youth reflect reliable scientific information that has been replicated in numerous ways. These results, then, form the standard by which we can evaluate the volume of scientific literature from which any claims about SOCE and youth are based.

            Since SOCE is a relatively new term in the literature, I also conducted searches utilizing the terms "reparative therapy," "conversion therapy," and "sexual reorientation therapy," which were in use long before SOCE was coined. My extensive search of the databases to identify scientific literature supportive of Sen. Lieu's comparison yielded the following findings:

Key Words                                                         Total Articles                Earliest Article

Children & Sexual OrientationChange Efforts                 (0)                                ---
Children & Reparative Therapy                                      (0)                                ---
Children & Conversion Therapy                                     (0)                                ---
Children & Sexual Reorientation Therapy                       (0)                                ---
Adolescent* & Sexual Orientation Change Efforts           (0)                                ---
Adolescent* & Reparative Therapy                                (1)                               2010
Adolescent* & Conversion Therapy                               (0)                                 ---
Adolescent* & Sexual Reorientation Therapy                 (0)                                 ---
Minor* & Sexual Orientation Change Efforts                   (0)                                 ---
Minor* & Reparative Therapy                                         (0)                                 ---
Minor* & Conversion Therapy                                        (0)                                 ---
Minor* & Sexual Reorientation Therapy                          (0)                                 ---
Sexual Orientation Change Efforts & Harm                     (0)                                 ---
Reparative Therapy & Harm                                           (1)                                2010
Conversion Therapy & Harm                                          (1)                                2002
Sexual Reorientation Therapy & Harm                            (0)                                   --
Homosexual* & Psychotherapy & Harm                         (1)                                1977
Gay & Psychotherapy & Harm                                      (1)                                 1996
Lesbian & Psychotherapy & Harm                                 (0)                                   ---
Bisexual & Psychotherapy & Harm                                (0)                                   ---

          In stark contrast to the thousands of articles related to alcohol and cigarette usage by youth, my search of the scientific literature for references that would back up Sen. Lieu's claims yielded a total of four articles. Interestingly, three of these articles were not research-oriented. Hein and Matthews (2010) discussed the potential harms of reparative therapy for adolescents but cited no direct research on SOCE with adolescents to support their concerns. They relied instead primarily on adult anecdotal accounts and did not distinguish between the provision of SOCE by licensed clinicians and unlicensed religious practitioners. Jones (1996) described a case of self-harm by a young gay man in response to "profound" and "thematic" relationship difficulties. The author reported that psychodynamic therapy was beneficial in helping the patient deal with relational conflict without making any mention of internalized homophobia or stigmatization.

            Hochberg (1977) discussed her treatment of a suicidal adolescent male who finally disclosed his homosexual experience as termination neared. After this disclosure, Hochberg reported that, "Therapy subsequently exposed long-standing inhibitions in masculine assertiveness, longing for a love object that would increase his masculinity, (and allay his homosexual anxiety) and intense fear of physical harm" (p. 428). This article, then, would in some respects appear to provide anecdotal support for SOCE, not surprisingly coming in an era before reports of harm gained favored status over reports of benefit within the psychological disciplines.

            The only article my database search identified that could be considered quantitative research was Shidlo and Schroeder's (2002) well-known study on reported harms from SOCE. The Shidlo and Schroeder study suffered from many methodological limitations, including recruiting specifically for participants who had felt harmed by their SOCE, obtaining recollections of harm that occurred decades prior to the study, and not distinguishing between SOCE provided by licensed mental health professionals and unlicensed religious counselors. As the authors correctly acknowledged, the findings of this study can not be generalized beyond their specific sample of consumers. This research can therefore tell us nothing about the prevalence of harm from SOCE provided by licensed therapists.


            In an effort to corroborate the scientific accuracy of Sen. Lieu's comparison between the harms to minors of cigarettes, alcohol, and SOCE, I conducted a search of one major medical database and one main mental health database associated with the American Psychological Association. Results from this analysis revealed that the literature related to youth and cigarettes or youth and alcohol numbered in the thousands while studies relating directly to SOCE with minors appeared to be non-existent. While the utilization of different sets of related key words might yield slightly different totals with additional database searches, it seems highly unlikely the results would differ in any substantive fashion. Consequently, I have to conclude from this investigation that Sen. Lieu's comparison lacks merit scientifically and therefore SB 1172's prohibition of SOCE on the basis of harms to minors lacks a clear scientific justification.

            Some additional observations from this investigation seem worth noting. First, the case against SOCE with minors is typically based on four sets of data: anecdotal accounts of harm (mostly from adults), a very few quantitative studies (compilations of anecdotal accounts from adults with severe methodological limitations), inferences from other research domains of questionable relatedness to SOCE (e.g., harms from family rejection of gay youth), and citations of the pronouncements on SOCE from professional mental health and medical associations. These various sources tend to cite one another in an almost symbiotic manner that provides little if any new information relevant to answering important questions about SOCE.

            It seems the science as pertains to SOCE is stuck in neutral and the professional associations and critics of SOCE do not appear interested in doing any cooperative research with proponents of SOCE that might actually move our understanding forward. With SOCE on the defensive, those within government and public university settings in a position to make large scale scientific contributions to this literature appear content to speak out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they demand rigorous empirical support for SOCE but on the other hand they display no interest in facilitating bipartisan research that could potentially address their demands. One could make the case that this is hardly a shining moment in the history of social scientific integrity.

            Secondly, the lack of a clear and direct grounding in the scientific literature for the claims of harm to youth from SOCE lend credence to the suspicion that political rather than scientific motivations are the driving force behind SB 1172. Reasonable clinicians and mental health association representatives should agree that anecdotal accounts of harm constitute no basis upon which to prohibit a form of psychological care. If this were not the case, the practice of any form of psychotherapy could place the practitioner at risk of regulatory discipline, as research indicates 5-10% of all psychotherapy clients report deterioration while up to 50% experience no reliable change during treatment (Hansen, Lambert, & Forman, 2002; Lambert & Ogles, 2004). What may be at play among supporters of SB 1172 is a dislike for how many SOCE therapists view same-sex attractions, i.e., as a developmental adaptation. It would certainly be a new and sobering development if approaches to psychological care can now be prohibited on the basis of disputed aspects of its theory rather than on a scientifically established prevalence of harm that significantly exceeds those of other therapeutic approaches.
          Without a basis in the scientific literature, the claims by Sen. Lieu and SB 1172 of widespread harms to minors from SOCE represent rhetoric, not research. My database search suggests this is a superfluous piece of legislation from the perspective of harm. Any harm that might occur from the unprofessional practice of SOCE by licensed therapists can and should be handled within the existing regulatory structures on a case-by-case basis. But rather than take such a rational approach, SB 1172 supporters have politicized the issues in the form of this legislative overreach (Los Angles Times, May 11, 2012), declaring SOCE with minor ipso facto unprofessional conduct. They have thrown their anti-SOCE wish list against the proverbial wall in order to see what politicians and mental health associations would let stick. Sadly, the blanket prohibition of SOCE with minors appears to be sticking and may become law in California. If this occurs, the present analysis indicates it will be in the absence of scientific literature and not because of it.


Hansen, N. B., Lambert, M. J., & Forman (2002). The psychotherapy dose-response effect and its implications for treatment delivery services. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 9, 329-343. doi: 10.1093/clipsy.9.3.329

Hein, L. C., & Matthews, A. K. (2010). Reparative therapy: The adolescent, the psych nurse, and the issues. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(1), 29-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6171.2009.00214.x

Hochberg, R. (1977). Psychotherapy of a suicidal boy: Dynamics and interventions. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 14(4), 428-433.

Jones, A. (1996). An equal struggle (psychodynamic assessment following repeated episodes of deliberate self-harm). Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 3(3), 173-180.

Lambert, M. J., & Ogles, B. M. (2004). The efficacy and effectiveness of psychotherapy. New York, NY: Wiley.

Los Angles Times (May 11, 2012). Bill overkill in Sacramento. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/11/opinion/la-ed-0511-therapy-20120511

Shidlo, A., & Schroeder, M. (2002). Changing sexual orientation: A consumers' report. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(3), 249-259.

Brasil: Nuevo Código Penal permitiría aborto, eutanasia, uniones gay, prostitución y drogas

BRASILIA, 15 Ago. 12 / 07:15 am (ACI/EWTN Noticias).- El polémico proyecto para el nuevo Código Penal en Brasil promovido por el senador Pedro Taques, permitiría, si es aprobado, el aborto, la eutanasia, las uniones gay, la prostitución, los juegos de azar, y el cultivo y el consumo personal de marihuana.

El pasado martes 8 de agosto los senadores recibieron de la Comisión que analiza la reforma del Código Penal un plazo de 7 días para opinar sobre cualquier cambio al proyecto propuesto, lo que constituye según algunas fuentes pro-vida consultadas por ACI Prensa, “un artificio para evitar que el pueblo se manifieste a favor de la vida”.

El Código vigente actualmente fue debatido durante 25 años.

Desde Brasilia, las fuentes señalaron además que “no hubo ningún senador favorable al plazo. Aparentemente el relator (Taques) parece ser el único que cree en la posibilidad de revisar un proyecto de más de 500 artículos en un plazo tan corto, lo que nos lleva a creer que es una gran maniobra para que el texto sea aprobado sin oposición alguna”.

El vicepresidente de Providafamilia y asesor parlamentario en la Cámara de Diputados desde hace más de 22 años, el profesor Paulo Fernando Melo da Costa, dijo a ACI Prensa que efectivamente el Código necesita ser reformado pero la propuesta, en cuya elaboración participaron 15 “juristas”, dista de estar “en sintonía con el pensamiento de la gran mayoría de la población brasileña”.

El también miembro de la Comisión de Bioética de la Arquidiócesis de Brasilia explicó además que “las penas sugeridas para ciertos delitos raya casi con lo absurdo castigando con excesivo rigor el maltrato a los animales con una sanción mayor” a la necrofilia; y penando más la falsificación de un champú que un aborto.

El profesor explicó que el proyecto lleva más de mil enmiendas. “Como un asunto meramente matemático, en 7 días el relator tendrá 168 horas o 10 800 minutos (si no hiciese otra cosa en la vida) para leer, estudiar y emitir parecer sobre el texto original con más de 500 artículos a las mil enmiendas ofrecidas (…) Si el senador Taques lograra tal proeza podría participar de cualquier película de superhéroes”.

“La sociedad –dijo– merece más respeto de los nobles senadores porque al final, el nuevo Código Penal afectará la vida de todos los brasileños, incluyendo a los senadores, a pesar de la inmunidad parlamentaria que hoy tienen”.

Ante esta amenaza, Melo da Costa alentó a los brasileños a llamar a Alô Senado al 0800612211, para expresar su oposición al proyecto y al proceso liderado por el senador Taques. Se puede enviar correos y faxes también, dijo.

“Otro aspecto importante es usar las redes sociales para informar, debatir y denunciar todas las maniobras para aprobar este nefasto texto legal”, sentenció.

Marketing Natural Family Planning: promoting persons over industry - by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.

August 14, 2012 (Zenit.org) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the last full week of July as national Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, with a focus on introducing people to the concept of NFP in general, debunking the common misconceptions that have been attached to it, and attempting to convince couples to use NFP in place of artificial means of contraception. This goal carries inherent challenges, as the target audience has already been at the receiving end of previous awareness campaigns: firstly, that unregulated childbearing is heartless and negligent, and secondly, that avoiding such irresponsible behavior demands the use of physical and chemical restraints on one’s reproductive faculties.

The sale of these contraceptive measures is a multi-billion dollar business worldwide, and that money also goes toward spreading awareness, from slick professional TV ads to calendars and notepads in doctors’ examination rooms that bear the logos of the latest contraceptive pill or device. In contrast, NFP does not have the backing of a huge industry or lobbying group, and its use does not promise increased income to doctors or pharmaceutical companies — or anyone else, for that matter. Additionally, in a society where changes in health care organization mean that doctors must see more patients in less time, training couples in the use of NFP becomes impractical in that it requires multiple training sessions and a level of commitment on the part of teachers and learners alike that extends well beyond the time it takes to write a prescription.

If the use of NFP fails to generate billions of dollars that may be spent on advertising, the flip side of this is the fact that it is free to the user, with no need of monthly co-pays, insurance coverage, or taxpayer assistance. However, studies that have assessed the demographics of NFP users in the United States have found the women who use modern NFP methods are most often white, Catholic, stably partnered, and college educated (1) — a population which, even in times of recession, is not at the lowest end of the economic spectrum. While NFP has been associated with low divorce rates (2), good communication in marriages, and increased awareness of one’s own fertility cycle, it is important to note that the causal relationships between these things go both ways. Communication, fidelity, and collaborative self-denial are pre-requisites for NFP, even as improvement in those areas may well be a fruit of its use.

So how, then, does one go about educating the public about natural family planning in a world where divorce is rampant, single-parent households are common, advertisements for contraceptives permeate the airwaves even as their byproducts permeate the environment, and the birth of children is either demanded or prohibited, but never simply accepted?

To begin, we can tout the benefits of NFP using some of the standards typically bandied about by the promoters of contraception, phrases like “efficacy,” “failure rates,” and “side-effects.”

This approach works not only because this is the language of much of our culture, but also because NFP has been shown to compete very effectively on those fronts when compared with artificial contraception (3). But to leave the conversation there, in a place where the conception of a person with an immortal soul can be labeled a “failure,” would be to fail, indeed, as the letter P in NFP stands for “planning,” not “prevention.” While advocates for NFP education point out that it can also be used to help couples achieve pregnancy, as a balance for its more commonly referenced use in preventing pregnancy, it bears pointing out that this goal has been successfully accomplished for millennia by simply increasing the frequency of attempts, and that any underlying fertility problems cannot be fully diagnosed nor treated through the use of NFP alone.

As we attempt to educate the world, beginning with ourselves, about the use of NFP, it helps to be mindful that Western culture is already a chief exporter not only of contraception, but of the perceived need for it. Even as Melinda Gates pledges billions of dollars to increasing contraceptive “access” worldwide, experts are pointing out that the demand for such products does not currently exist, often due in part to religious or cultural norms (4). Ecological breastfeeding, which results in a period of postpartum infertility, is a natural method of spacing births, but the export and marketing of commercial infant formulas from industrialized nations to less developed areas not only undermines the benefits of this natural practice, but results in increased infant mortality due to formulas being prepared with contaminated water. Furthermore, comparatively wealthy and well-educated societies which, ironically, would be able to support larger families than they typically have, routinely issue documents labeling cultures that encourage large families as retrograde and reckless.

NFP stands in contrast to much of what Western culture offers the world: it elevates commitment over cost, individuals over industry, and stewardship over stranglehold with regard to one’s fertility. Furthermore, it emphasizes the interdependence of couples rather than the absolute autonomy of women, persistence in self-control over quick fixes, and collaboration over individualism. To practice NFP correctly means more than reducing the number of one’s children; it involves strengthening one’s ability to love, and to desire to extend that love through the gift of self and receptiveness to the gifts God gives, even if it means re-examining our priorities.

The benefits of Natural Family Planning cannot be separated from the benefits of family itself, since it is highly unlikely to be practiced outside of a stable, committed relationship of people who respect themselves and each other. However, despite the fact that many of the people who currently choose NFP over artificial contraception are practicing Catholics, it is important to spread the word about NFP throughout our own communities and the world at large. For just as contraception is the Trojan horse by which hostility toward new life is spread, NFP can be a Trojan horse that introduces the culture of life in places where other, more overt approaches might not gain entry.

Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., is a Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. Dr. Oas is a postdoctoral fellow in genetics and molecular biology at Emory University. She writes for HLI’s Truth and Charity Forum.

1)Stanford JB, Smith KR. Characteristics of women associated with continuing instruction in the Creighton Model Fertility Care System. Contraception. 2000 Feb;61(2):121-9.
3)Pallone SR, Bergus GR. Fertility awareness-based methods: another option for family planning. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2009;22:147-57.

APA to eliminate gender identity disorder, replace with ‘gender dysphoria’ - by Meaghen Hale

August 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – You are born with an XY or an XX chromosome, primary characteristics that will objectively develop one genotype: male or female. But now you can choose whether to be male, female, or something else—and when the American Psychiatric Association releases their new manual, it will be perfectly normal.

In May 2013, the APA will publish the DSM-5, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A significant change will be the reclassification of Gender Identity Disorder to “Gender Dysphoria.” “Dysphoria” is a word meaning “emotional distress.”

Proponents of the change believe it is a positive step, removing the stigma of mental illness from a group of people—not all of whom feel the need for psychological counselling. Critics, on the other hand, including one former president of the APA, maintain that the change is motivated by politics, rather than science.

“We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories,” said Jack Drescher, a member of the DSM-5 Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group. “We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize.”

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The APA website defines a psychological state as a mental disorder “only if it causes significant distress or disability.” It continues, “Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder.”

Dana Beyer, who helped the Washington Psychiatric Society make recommendations on matters of gender and sexuality, told the AP, “a right-winger can’t go out and say all trans people are mentally ill because if you are not dysphoric, that can’t be diagnosed from afar. It no longer matters what your body looks like, what you want to do to it, all of that is irrelevant as far as the APA goes.”

But Dr. Anthony Duk, a psychiatrist at the Inland Psychiatric Medical Group in Riverside, California, and member of NARTH (National Association for Research to Treat Homosexuality), told LifeSiteNews that the APA’s reframing would result in potentially harmful self-diagnosis.

“When you move from disorder to dysphoria, which is upset feeling, you lose objectivity. You ask how the patient feels, if they think they are dysphoric. Those that think they have a problem have a problem; those that don’t think they have a problem don’t.”

According to Dr. Nicholas Cummings, former president of the APA and Chair of The Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Foundation, the problem with the redefinition is that it may limit how much help people with gender identity issues are able to seek—and how much psychologists are comfortable giving.

“I think that [psychologists] are afraid to address the topic directly with their patients because they fear there will be repercussions from the APA,” Dr. Cummings told LifeSiteNews. “They fear a malpractice suit. It limits their response [to patients].”

Dr. Cummings explained that the APA believes gender identity is immutable and any psychologist who tries to help a patient change it commits malpractice, “which is interesting as there are patients who seek change. Change is very difficult and happens only in a minority of cases…but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”

Dr. Duk expressed concern that under the APA’s new definition children, who could normally experience gender identity confusion until age eleven, will be offered medications that will delay puberty so they can decide their sex.

“Pharmaceutical companies are trying to make money off of something that is contrary to the use of science and the Hippocratic oath,” Dr. Duk said.

Dr. Cummings said that the APA’s redefinition “ is more of a political issue than it is scientific,” he said. “All this talk is based on politics, attitude—not science. If you try to be scientific, you choose to be a homophobe.”

“When treatment, whether psychological or medical, is determined by politics, it’s very frightening.”