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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ask the Candidates

In less than a month, the American people will be voting for candidates in all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate seats, and numerous state and local offices.

According to a survey done by Public Religion Research, there is now empirical evidence that Tea Partiers align with the Religious Right.

According to the survey, recently highlighted in an article by Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches, nearly half of all respondents who considered themselves part of the tea party movement also considered themselves part of the religious right.

Robert P. Jones, President of PRR, reported, "Among the more than 8-in-10 (81%) who identify as Christian within the Tea Party movement," the survey found, "57% also consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement."

One third of tea partiers are white evangelical Christians, Jones said the survey showed, compared to one in five voters in the general population. But one in three Republicans are white evangelical Christians, too, more proof that supporters of the tea party and the GOP -- despite the tea party claims to be an outside force -- share many of the same beliefs.

Posner continues:
Based on my own reporting, though, the absence of bloody fetus posters at tea party rallies says nothing about the interest of tea partiers in either the "culture war" issues or economic issues. Early tea party rallies focused on opposition to health care reform described "Obamacare" in baby-killing terms, something Sarah Palin just reminded activists about, telling an audience health care reform has brought "the biggest advance of the abortion industry in America." (The opposite of what Palin means is true, though -- the abortion restrictions in the health care bill will likely mean fewer abortions, not more.)
As people of faith, it's critically important that we not allow ourselves to be distracted or appalled by the "street theater" of the Tea Party movement, and take a long, hard look at the issues involved.

And, vote!

I want to suggest that one of the bell weather issues in this election is Reproductive Health and Rights. It is an indicator of how a candidate will vote on other issues of social justice.

The old saying that "The personal is political" was never more true. Nothing is more personal than a woman's right over her own body.

It doesn't take much to make the justice connection.

When you look at the states that have enacted restrictions on reproductive rights - Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Idaho, Nebraska, South Carolina, Utah, Missouri, and Oklahoma - you'll not find one of them with any form of marriage equality or any support to repeal of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell).

Homophobia and Heterosexism are tools of Misogyny and Sexism.

Always have been. Always will be. 

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights (RCRC) has put together a list of questions to ask the candidates which I find very helpful.

In the next few weeks, it's important to pick up the phone and call your candidates and ask them at least one of the following questions. Better yet, show up at one of the rallies and ask these questions publicly.

Abortion Rights

Do you support the constitutional right to privacy that protects a woman's ability to make decisions about when and whether to have a child?

Facts: Over 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that there is a right to privacy in deciding whether and when to have a child. Diverse religious denominations and traditions with millions of members compassionately affirm a woman's moral right to make reproductive decisions according to her own conscience and religious principles.

Family Planning

Will you vote to expand access to family planing services for low-income women through the Title Ten national family planning program and Medicaid and new health care regulations?

Facts: Low-income and uninsured women need affordable contraception. A low-income woman is 4 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy and 5 times more likely to have an unintended birth than a woman with higher income. Unintended pregnancy can perpetuate poverty, interrupt education and job opportunities, and create family hardship. My faith underlies my commitment to equality and inspires me to advocate for accessible contraception and intentional parenthood.

International Funding

Will you vote to increase U.S. funding for international family planning and reproductive health services to reduce maternal and infant mortality and fight HIV/AIDS?

Facts: Meeting the need for contraceptive services for women in developing countries would help to prevent 500,000 maternal deaths each year from pregnancy-related causes and help save 4 million newborns who die in the first month of life. As a person of faith and citizen of the world, I am committed to righting the injustice of this needless loss of life.

Medically Accurate Sex Ed

Will you vote to support comprehensive, medically accurate sex education instead of ineffective abstinence-only programs?

Facts: Eighty-five percent of Americans support comprehensive sex education, including a significant majority of people of all faiths. For fiscal year 2011, President Obama's administration has dedicated $155 million to comprehensive, evidence-based sex education programs, although $35 million was promised for ineffective abstinence-only programs. As a person of faith, I support providing honest, accurate information about contraception AND abstinence that will help our youth make responsible decisions and reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Hyde Amendment

Will you vote against the Hyde Amendment?

Facts: We have a discriminatory two-tiered health care system when it comes to abortion access. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortion; it denies low-income women the same right and access to abortion services that other women have. As a person of faith, I strongly oppose restricting a woman's access to reproductive health care because she is poor. That is discrimination on the basis of economic status and it is wrong. I urge you to oppose the Hyde Amendment.

Unacceptable Restrictions

Will you vote against Representative Chris Smith's bill - "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act?"

Facts: This misleadingly-named bill (HR 5939) would codify the Hyde Amendment and put additional restrictions on women's access to reproductive care. It would permanently deny abortion coverage to low-income women, federal employees, and military women and effectively end coverage in private employer policies. As a person of faith, I am against restrictions that violate a woman's moral agency and ability to act according to her own conscience.


This question is for U.S. Senate candidates only: Will you oppose any nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal courts, and the administration who do not support the right to privacy that includes the right to choose abortion?

Facts: The vast majority of Americans want to protect the constitutional right to decide when and whether to have children. Americans want to be free to follow their own conscience and religious beliefs in this matter, not forced to follow views that they may not share or hold.

While all of these questions are important, it is critically important to move beyond your own apathy or cynicism and VOTE.

Start making a "to do" list for November 2nd.

Open your calendar or day book and make sure you've circled TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd and write at the top of the page: VOTE.

Schedule a best time to get yourself to the polls: Early morning before you leave for work? A quick trip at lunch? On your way home from work? After dinner?

Check the location and hours of your polling place. If you jog or walk as part of your exercise, you might want to plan your route with a stop-over at your local voting booth.

Do you know someone who lives alone or is elderly or doesn't have a car? Call them and ask if you can offer a ride.

Organize a car pool from your church or civic organization or community club to offer transportation to the polls for those who need it.

Make no mistake: While we're all either disgusted or mesmerized by the antics of the Tea Party, they are behind the scenes, doing exactly what I'm outlining above.

Let me repeat: 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate seats, and numerous state and local offices are on the line.

Put your faith into action and follow the prophetic call to "love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with God".

Ask questions. 

And, VOTE.


JCF said...

Good on ya, Lizbeth!

Andy said...

Elizabeth+, after reading your essay, I can't help but to conclude that this all comes down to one issue, and that being the privlege of women to Choose (to kill their offspring in-utero) at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Our Republic has been pushed to the brink in 20 months by a rogue government (left and right) that has abrogated every iota of their oathes of office and have mistaken our Constitution for Charmin.

We need to replace the Alinski-itte marxists with adults who'll deal with the nation-crushing issues we're frought with. Too, they'll be able to deal with these second and third tier issues maturly, rationally and constitutionally.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, you stopped me at "the privilege of women to Choose", but you convinced me, with the rest of your inflammatory rhetoric, of where you really stand. Which is certainly not on the foundation of this country of "liberty and justice for all" - much less anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ which you are ordained to proclaim and serve.

However, that's your choice. I have mine too - no matter what you might think of the choices I or other women make. Pity you can't deal with these issues and my choices - what are the words you used? Ah yes - "maturly (sic), rationally and constitutionally".

I'll take an "Alinski-itte marxist" over a tyrant any day of the week and six times before breakfast on Sunday.

Andy said...

It has, and always remains possible to affirm an individual, while repudiating some (or many) of their choices.

Somehow, a line of thought has been introduced into our common national dialog that if we disagree with a policy, practice or proceedure that somehow we hate or oppress author, practioner or recipient. This has poisoned the well and driven a stake into any hope of meaningful, lasting discussion.

Incindiary? We're adults and we know in our hearts that this choice isn't simply a unilateral decision, its a transaction. And we know that the "junior partner" in this choice doesn't simply fill out a stack of "change of address cards" and toddle off to another zip code.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Andy - your first post revealed your politics and your position, which is quite contrary to your first sentence. I find it so astonishing that I'm going to repeat it so you'll hear what you wrote: "It has, and always remains possible to affirm an individual, while repudiating some (or many) of their choices."

You, yourself, have driven the stake through any "meaningful, lasting discussion" with your sweeping, inflammatory rhetoric about "choice", "killing their offspring in-utero", "rogue government", and "Alinski-itte marxists".

If that's your idea of "affirming" this or any individual, I'll pass, thank you very much.

I know what's in my own heart. It is not up to you to judge what is in there. That is between me and God. I'm quite comfortable waiting for Judgment Day. If you were, you wouldn't waste your time judging me and others who are like-minded but different from you.

Clive said...

Stumbled here from the Bad Vestments folks, and I'm curious to explore how a Christian can support abortion in a little more depth. For example, if life doesn't begin at conception, as the old dried up Vatican teaches, when does it begin for you? At the moment of birth? At the age of viability outside the womb? At what point for you does a fetus become a human being?

If, as I suspect you'll say, it's at the moment of birth, can you explain from a moral perspective how a doctor who drives a metal spike into the brain of a 28 week old fetus commits no sin, but someone doing that to a premature baby of the same developmental age in a hospital would be committing murder?

I'm serious, I'd like to know what the pro-choice Christian view is on these questions.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Clive - if you are as serious as you say you are, you would not be using language like "a doctor who drives a metal spike into the brain of a 28 week old fetus commits no sin, but someone doing that to a premature baby of the same developmental age in a hospital would be committing murder?"

"Drive a metal spike"?? "Sin"??? "Murder"????

With those images in your way, how will you ever be able to listen to my words - much less the words of scripture which, in part, form the basis of the medical profession's understanding of when life begins, upon which our legal system is based?

You are proving my point to Andy about not being able to have "meaningful, lasting discussion" about reproductive rights for women.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dear "Lost in Texas" - I'm not going to publish your disgusting post which focuses on the minutia of a medical procedure which is RARELY done because it must meet stringent criteria imposed upon physicians by the medical community - not the legal system.

It amazes me that members of the Radical Right like you love to focus on gore and fear and terror and yet profess love for and faith in Jesus.

And about November? Don't open up that can of whoopass just yet. There are too many of us who just ain't buying into the "shock and awe" campaign approach by the Tea Partiers.

Many of us are women. And, we vote.

IT said...

I'm glad you can take on these men so civilly. One might have more respsect for them if they gave a tenth the concern to real live children as they do to blastocysts. Or the thoughts--often agonized--of women for whom this choice is the only one possible.

Andrew sullivan has collected(on more than one occassion) a series of posts from both sides, including the painful testimony of those who have had abortions. S omehow the women's views are always missing from these strident anti-abortion men. Somehow medical justifications and concerns are missing. Because it's far easier to rail about faceless women than deal with the ambiguities of real lives, imperfect choices, and actual children.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, IT. I didn't feel like I needed some back up here, but awfully glad to have it.

It's interesting, isn't it, how these good ole boys find it, as you say, "easier to rail about faceless women than deal with the ambiguities of real lives, imperfect choices, and actual children."

Actually, I think I've found a wonderful strategy for dealing with the worst of them, like "Lost in Texas". I respond to them without posting their comment. The first time. After that, I just ignore them. Drives 'em nuts. It's a wonderful feeling to click "Reject".

Hey, if the folks at SFiF can do it, why can't I?

Anonymous said...

My question is, why are most of these people, like Andy and Clive and Lost In TX, single-issue voters?

And why do they want to force the rest of the world to be just like them - single-issue voters?

And why do they seem to focus exclusively on the needs of the unborn, and not on the needs of the born - like working-class people, like the 1 in ever 7 Americans who are now living below the poverty line, like all the Americans whose homes have been foreclosed on and many of whom face homelessness and sending their kids to school from a homeless shelter?

Why are they not concerned with the outsourcing of American jobs?

Why are they not concerned with war and the elimination thereof?

I could go on and on. But I think this is enough. :shakes head:


Thanks for letting me rant just a little bit here, Rev. Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Any time, darlin'. Now, let's just hope they read your post and - oh, I don't know, just to be wild and crazy - actually think about your questions.

Lost in Texas said...

I am mystified as to what would make you think I am a single issue voter. There is no chance of voting for a candidate that would have any impact on abortion rights. It is settled Supreme court law. What you would term conservative justices have had a majority on the court for years and nothing of substance has been done to stop abortion rights. As to my interest in the 1 in 7 Americans that live in poverty. I think about it every day. You see, I am an EMPLOYER. Every week, in addition to trying to drum up business in the green building industry of which I am a part, I also write checks for 10 employees. Thanks to that idiot Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and their utter mismanagement of the home mortgage industry and Fannimae and Freddiemac, my job is an order of magnitude more difficult. And thanks to the economic illiterate that cuurently resides at 1600 Penn, I have to figure who I have to fire next year, rather who I can hire. I have no idea what my taxes will be, or how much my insurance will be. All I know, is that because of a bunch of dimwitted, never had ajob in the private sector, government drones, it will be more expensive. My brother, who is a doctor and spent 12 years learning his craft is demonized as a profiteer who would perform operations just for the fees, and small businesses like mine are evicerated by a government that is absolutely hostile to them and whose prime motivation is the expansion of the welfare state.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, Lost, I certainly hear your anger. That comes through loud and clear. And, I understand. Let me just offer the suggestion that you will be more convincing if you tone down the fiery rhetoric and stop attacking by making assumptions about motivation. No one in this present administration is interested in creating "a welfare state". You may feel under attack, but your hyperbole doesn't help your case.

Bateau Master said...

Lost in Texas - is one of the millions that make this whole experiment in Freedom and Growing Liberty work. He is an employer, standing next to him is the entrepreneur will to risk his or her security for the hope of germinating an idea.

Government employment supports many, but cannot exist without Lost in Texas, Joe's Shrimp Shack, Macys, and the Best Little Machine Shop in Montana. Should they have a greater say in the way of things? No. But neither should the be squeezed and vilified because their S-Corps make 250K or more.

As for Hyperbole, PLEASE! President Obama as candidate said he wanted to spread the wealth around - that stimulus package did just that - as reward to a bunch of "friends". Didn't do much to stimulate though. As candidate he said he wanted a single payer system, until that didn't pole well. Try to find a founder or CEO of a private firm amongst his circle of advisers. He has none. He has no roots in or like for capitalism.

But what is telling is your inability to answer Clive - what are the Christian elements for your support?

D. Hamilton

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I am not "unable" to respond to Clive's question. I was pretty clear that I chose not to. Never will when the rhetoric is that fiery. That's not a set up for a meaningful conversation. It's a set up for a war of words.

I've posted on this subject before. Here's one among many:

Clive said...

Making a choice to avoid the question is just cowardly. Blaming me for your choice to avoid the question is a neat escape route.

I'm not a zealot, or a single issue voter - indeed I live in one of the few countries in the world that has absolutely no laws regarding abortion and is going to stay that way.

It's a complex issue and there are a million shades of grey, which is why I'm curious where the fetus becomes a human being in your mind. You come across as pro-abortion, which I find disturbing in a Christian, so I'm trying to understand that. For me abortion is always a tragedy, and it does always involve the ending of a human life.

That doesn't mean a woman shouldn't have that choice, but I don't believe it should be dressed up as an amoral, it's-just-a-bunch-of-cells thing. I think mothers and fathers to be should own what they are doing when they make that choice. And from a religious perspective, I really do want to understand the views of someone who supports abortion in terms of when a soul is formed and when life begins.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Clive - go back and read your first post. You sure sounded like a single issue person - and one with a Very Short fuse to boot.

For the record: I have never counseled a woman or a couple to have an abortion. Neither have I counseled a woman or a couple NOT to have an abortion. I try to lead the woman or couple to the best decision for her/them. I have also taught "All Options Counseling" through NJRCRC to clergy.

A quick perusal of the archives of this blog will reveal to you that I am pro-choice because I am pro-life; that is, I value the potential for life as much as I value the actual life of the woman. And, I trust her to make the best decision for her at the time, even if I may disagree with her decision.

Hebrew Scripture is very clear about when life begins. So is the medical profession upon which our laws are based.

Look it up, Clive. Take some responsibility for your own education. Don't come to me to spoon feed it to you. You'll just spit it out and dismiss it because your mind is already made up. If you have to do the research on your own, you just may take a few moments to actually consider the information before you dismiss it out of hand as "left wing propaganda" or "spin".

You don't have to agree with it, but you'll find that it's based on more than "an amoral it's just a bunch of cells" position. There's actually a scientific method involved.

Here's my bottom line - for myself and others: If you don't want abortion, don't have one.