Bishop punishes mom for daughter’s abortion

This shit makes me want to fucking puke. If ever there was a reason to hate religion, this is it.

Bishop punishes mom for daughter’s abortion

RIO DE JANEIRO – A Roman Catholic archbishop says the abortion of twins carried by a 9-year-old girl who allegedly was raped by her stepfather means excommunication for the girl’s mother and her doctors.

Despite the nature of the case, the church had to hold its line against abortion, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said in an interview aired Thursday by Globo television.

“The law of God is higher than any human laws,” he said. “When a human law — that is, a law enacted by human legislators — is against the law of God, that law has no value. The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion have incurred excommunication.”

Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao rebuked the archbishop, saying, “I’m shocked by two facts: by what happened to the girl and by the position of the archbishop, who in saying he defends life puts another at risk.”

Abortion is generally illegal in Brazil, which is home to more Catholics than any other nation. But the procedure is allowed when the mother’s life is in danger, when the fetus has no chance of survival or in rape cases where the woman has not passed her 20th week of pregnancy.

Doctors said the girl was 15 weeks pregnant when the abortion was performed Wednesday in the northeastern city of Recife, where Sobrinho is archbishop. Health officials said the life of the girl — who weighs 80 pounds — was in danger.

The pregnancy was discovered last week when the girl fell ill and her mother took her to a clinic. The child then told officials she had been abused by her stepfather, who is in police custody.

A similar case in southern Brazil surfaced Thursday. Authorities in Rio Grande do Sul state told the O Globo newspaper that an 11-year-old girl allegedly raped by her stepfather is seven months pregnant.

The 51-year-old stepfather has been in jail since January while the girl is in a hospital for high risk pregnancies and apparently will not have an abortion.

Researchers find brain differences between believers and non-believers

Researchers find brain differences between believers and non-believers

In two studies led by Assistant Psychology Professor Michael Inzlicht, participants performed a Stroop task – a well-known test of cognitive control – while hooked up to electrodes that measured their brain activity.

Compared to non-believers, the religious participants showed significantly less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that helps modify behavior by signaling when attention and control are needed, usually as a result of some anxiety-producing event like making a mistake. The stronger their religious zeal and the more they believed in God, the less their ACC fired in response to their own errors, and the fewer errors they made.

“You could think of this part of the brain like a cortical alarm bell that rings when an individual has just made a mistake or experiences uncertainty,” says lead author Inzlicht, who teaches and conducts research at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors. They’re much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error.”

These correlations remained strong even after controlling for personality and cognitive ability, says Inzlicht, who also found that religious participants made fewer errors on the Stroop task than their non-believing counterparts.

Their findings show religious belief has a calming effect on its devotees, which makes them less likely to feel anxious about making errors or facing the unknown. But Inzlicht cautions that anxiety is a “double-edged sword” which is at times necessary and helpful.

“Obviously, anxiety can be negative because if you have too much, you’re paralyzed with fear,” he says. “However, it also serves a very useful function in that it alerts us when we’re making mistakes. If you don’t experience anxiety when you make an error, what impetus do you have to change or improve your behaviour so you don’t make the same mistakes again and again?”

The study is appearing online now in Psychological Science.

Source: University of Toronto

Nine-year-old ‘incest victim’ aborts twins – Catholic Church Condemns the Abortion

I’m just gonna go ahead and get this out of the way:

Anyone that says her abortion was a sin, or was wrong in any way..  FUCK YOU. I wish hell existed so you assholes can go there.

Nine-year-old ‘incest victim’ aborts twins

A nine-year-old girl who was carrying twins, allegedly after being raped by her stepfather, has undergone an abortion despite complaints from Brazil’s Catholic Church.

Police said the stepfather has been jailed since last week.

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, but judges can make exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger or if the foetus has no chance of survival.

Fatima Maia, director of the public university hospital where the abortion was performed, said the 15-week-old pregnancy posed a serious risk to the 36-kilogram girl.

“She is very small. Her uterus doesn’t have the ability to hold one, let alone two, children,” Ms Maia told the Jornal do Brasil newspaper.

But Marcio Miranda, a lawyer for the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in north-eastern Brazil, said the girl should have carried the twins to term and had a caesarean section.

“It’s the law of God: do not kill. We consider this murder,” Ms Miranda said in comments reported by O Globo.

Calls to Ms Miranda were not returned.

Brazil is home to more Catholics than any other nation.

Vatican official calls atheist theories ‘absurd’

Vatican official calls atheist theories ‘absurd’

ROME – A Vatican cardinal said Tuesday that the Catholic Church does not stand in the way of scientific realities like evolution, though he described as “absurd” the atheist notion that evolution proves there is no God.

Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reiterated church teaching about faith and science at the start of a Vatican-sponsored conference marking the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Levada said the Vatican believed there was a “wide spectrum of room” for belief in both the scientific basis for evolution and faith in God the creator.

“We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is the creator of all things,” he said.

He said that while the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did reject as “absurd” the atheist notion of biologist and author Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves there is no God.

“Of course we think that’s absurd and not at all proven,” he said. “But other than that … the Vatican has recognized that it doesn’t stand in the way of scientific realities.”

The Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to stress its belief that there is no incompatibility between faith and reason, and the five-day conference at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University is a key demonstration of its efforts to engage with the scientific community.

Intelligent design?
Church teaching holds that Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds. But the Vatican’s position became somewhat confused in recent years, in part because of a 2005 New York Times op-ed piece written by a close Benedict collaborator, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

In the piece, Schoenborn seemed to reject traditional church teaching and back intelligent design, the view that life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone, and that a higher power has had a hand in changes among species over time.

Vatican officials later made clear they did not believe intelligent design was science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only created confusion.

The evolution conference will explore intelligent design later this week, although not as science or theology but as a cultural phenomenon.

In his remarks, Levada referred to both Dawkins and the debate over teaching creationism in schools in the United States. He declined to pinpoint the Vatican’s views, saying merely: “The Vatican listens and learns.”

What I learned from reading the entire Bible

What I learned from reading the entire Bible

Should you read the Bible? You probably haven’t. A century ago, most well-educated Americans knew the Bible deeply. Today, biblical illiteracy is practically universal among nonreligious people. My mother and my brother, professors of literature and the best-read people I’ve ever met, have not done much more than skim Genesis and Exodus. Even among the faithful, Bible reading is erratic. The Catholic Church, for example, includes only a teeny fraction of the Old Testament in its official readings. Jews study the first five books of the Bible pretty well but shortchange the rest of it. Orthodox Jews generally spend more time on the Talmud and other commentary than on the Bible itself. Of the major Jewish and Christian groups, only evangelical Protestants read the whole Bible obsessively.

Maybe it doesn’t make sense for most of us to read the whole Bible. After all, there are so many difficult, repellent, confusing, and boring passages. Why not skip them and cherry-pick the best bits? After spending a year with the good book, I’ve become a full-on Bible thumper. Everyone should read it—all of it! In fact, the less you believe, the more you should read. Let me explain why, in part by telling how reading the whole Bible has changed me.

When I was reading Judges one day, I came to a complicated digression about a civil war between two groups of Israelites, the Gileadites and the Ephraimites. According to the story, the Gileadites hold the Jordan River, and whenever anyone comes to cross, the guards ask them to say the password, shibboleth. The Ephraimites, for some unexplained reason, can’t pronounce the sh in shibboleth and say “sibboleth” instead. When an Ephraimite fails the speech exam, the Gileadites “would seize him and slay him.” I’ve read the word shibboleth a hundred times, written it a few, and probably even said it myself, but I had never understood it until then. It was a tiny but thrilling moment when my world came alive, when a word that had just been a word suddenly meant something to me.

And something like that happened to me five, 10, 50 times a day when I was Bible-reading. You can’t get through a chapter of the Bible, even in the most obscure book, without encountering a phrase, a name, a character, or an idea that has come down to us 3,000 years later. The Bible is the first source of everything from the smallest plot twists (the dummy David’s wife places in the bed to fool assassins) to the most fundamental ideas about morality (the Levitical prohibition of homosexuality that still shapes our politics, for example) to our grandest notions of law and justice. It was a joyful shock to me when I opened the Book of Amos and read the words that crowned Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Just as an exercise, I thought for a few minutes about the cultural markers in Daniel, a late, short, and not hugely important book. What footprints has it left on our world? First, Daniel is thrown in the “lions’ den” and King Belshazzar sees “the writing on the wall.” These are two metaphors we can’t live without. The “fiery furnace” that Daniel’s friends are tossed into is the inspiration for the Fiery Furnaces, a band I listen to. The king rolls a stone in front of the lions’ den, sealing in a holy man who won’t stay sealed—foreshadowing the stone rolled in front of the tomb of Jesus. Daniel inspired the novel The Book of Daniel and the TV show The Book of Daniel. It’s even a touchstone for one of my favorite good-bad movies, A Knight’s Tale. That movie’s villain belittles hero Heath Ledger by declaring, “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting”—which is what the writing on the wall told Belshazzar.

While reading the Bible, I often felt as if I had finally lifted a veil from my eyes. I learned that I hadn’t known the true nature of God’s conflict with Job, which is the ur-text of all subsequent discussions of obedience and faith. I realized I was ignorant of the story of Ruth. I was unaware of the radical theology of Ecclesiastes, the source of so many of our ideas about the good life. I didn’t know who Jezebel was, or why we loathe her, or why she is the painted lady, or even that she was married to Ahab.

Not to sound like a theocratic crank, but I’m actually shocked that students aren’t compelled to read huge chunks of the Bible in high school and college, the way they must read Shakespeare or the Constitution or Mark Twain.

That’s my intellectual defense of Bible reading. Now a more personal one. As a lax, non-Hebrew-speaking Jew, I spent my first 35 years roboting through religious rituals and incomprehensible prayers, honoring inexplicable holidays. None of it meant anything to me. Now it does. Reading the Bible has joined me to Jewish life in a way I never thought possible. I trace this to when I read about Jacob blessing his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh at the end of Genesis. I suddenly realized: Oh, that’s why I’m supposed to lay my hand on my son’s head at Shabbat dinner and bless him in the names of Ephraim and Manasseh. That shock of recognition has been followed by many more—when I came across the words of the Shema, the most important Jewish prayer, in Deuteronomy, when I read about the celebration of Passover in the book of Ezra, when I read in Psalms the lyrics of Christian hymns I love to sing.

You notice that I haven’t said anything about belief. I began the Bible as a hopeful, but indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn’t really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I’m brokenhearted about God.

After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements, the ruthless vengeance for minor sins (or none at all), and all that smiting—every bit of it directly performed, authorized, or approved by God—I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if He existed, was awful, cruel, and capricious. He gives us moments of beauty—such sublime beauty and grace!—but taken as a whole, He is no God I want to obey and no God I can love.

When I complain to religious friends about how much He dismays me, I usually get one of two responses. Christians say: Well, yes, but this is all setup for the New Testament. Reading only the Old Testament is like leaving halfway through the movie. I’m missing all the redemption. If I want to find the grace and forgiveness and wonder, I have to read and believe in the story of Jesus Christ, which explains and redeems all. But that doesn’t work for me. I’m a Jew. I don’t, and can’t, believe that Christ died for my sins. And even if he did, I still don’t think that would wash away God’s crimes in the Old Testament.

The second response tends to come from Jews, who razz me for missing the chief lesson of the Hebrew Bible, which that we can’t hope to understand the ways of God. If He seems cruel or petty, that’s because we can’t fathom His plan for us. But I’m not buying that, either. If God made me, He made me rational and quizzical. He has given me the tools to think about Him. So I must submit Him to rational and moral inquiry. And He fails that examination. Why would anyone want to be ruled by a God who’s so unmerciful, unjust, unforgiving, and unloving?

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning seems to leave me with several unappealing options: 1) believing in no god; 2) believing in the awful, vindictive God of the Bible; or 3) believing in some vague “creator” who is not remotely attached to the events of the Bible, who didn’t really do any of the deeds ascribed to Him in the book and thus can’t be held responsible for them.

The Bible has brought me no closer to God, if that means either believing in a deity acting in the world or experiencing the transcendent. But perhaps I’m closer to God in the sense that the Bible has put me on high alert. I came to the Bible hoping to be inspired and awed. I have been, sometimes. But mostly I’ve ended up in a yearlong argument with God. Why would He kill the innocent Egyptian children? And why would He delight in it? What wrong did we do Him that He should send the flood? Which of His Ten Commandments do we actually need? Yet the argument itself represents a kind of belief, because it commits me to engage with God.

As I read the book, I realized that the Bible’s greatest heroes—or, at least, my greatest heroes—are not those who are most faithful, but those who are most contentious and doubtful: Moses negotiating with God at the burning bush, Gideon demanding divine proof before going to war, Job questioning God’s own justice, Abraham demanding that God be merciful to the innocent of Sodom. They challenge God for his capriciousness, and demand justice, order, and morality, even when God refuses to provide them. Reading the Bible has given me a chance to start an argument with God about the most important questions there are, an argument that can last a lifetime.