Chiaroscuro

Really the only word for the juxtaposition of a couple recent pieces in the NYT....

First off, Nick Kristof's awesome column today, calling out liberals for our snootiness towards evangelicals and pointing out the incredible humanitarian work carried out by religious institutions (yes, in spite of my theology/religious beliefs/practices, in this case it probably is more honest to identify myself as a liberal. Though I'm really part of the tiny demographic caught in the middle.).

Follow that up with a news piece from yesterday about how the anti-abortion movement has been targeting African-Americans with conspiracy theories and emotional manipulation. Rather than addressing the reality of higher teen pregnancy rates among African-American teens, and trying to prevent teen pregnancy, the response is "shut down the abortion clinics." I don't care if your manipulative, scheming tactic works to accomplish what you want ("saving lives" in this case), the ends do not justify the means.

I still don't know quite what to think of Right Wing Evangelical Conservatives (and their nearly predictable voting block) and the above examples explain why. Yes, this is worth far more thought and commentary than I'm giving it, but I don't have time at the moment.

Comments

paul bowman said…
I have to say that I'm doubtful about Mr. Kristof's grasp of Evangelicalism & its history in the U.S. & elsewhere. The massive scale & strategic breadth of operations like World Vision may be a relatively recent development among Evangelical institutions, but interest in the conditions of people's lives around the world — not only in soul-winning & church-planting terms, but with efforts toward social reform & community development at local & regional levels — is deeply rooted in Evangelical culture. Important to remember that though it took on the character of resistance to 'dominant culture' in the U.S., especially, in the middle of the 20th century, Evangelicalism was formed in Europe's (particularly Britain's) colonial/imperial and industrializing period as a progressive movement — decidedly humanitarian & outward- rather than inward-looking. It's really American Evangelicalism's retreating & apocalyptic turn (which I associate with the World Wars & the Depression & their memory up until Reagan-era overconfidence — though it's probably a lot more complicated than that could explain) that should be considered anomolous, rather than this late surge of Rick Warren-style internationalism, it seems to me.

Kristof says in passing that official Catholic teaching's 'hostility to [contraception, including] condoms contributes to the AIDS epidemic.' Nothing to back up the claim, there, but maybe he's offered support elsewhere. How solid would you say this contributing to the epidemic accusation is? Do data on HIV spread in relation to condom availability, where it's been studied, have clear implications?
paul bowman said…
On the latter question: had to dig a little, but turned up finally what I was vaguely remembering, the source of my curiousity on this minor point in Kristof's piece. It was a media flap surrounding comments made by the Pope about a year ago, denying that condom distribution could be expected to stem the spread of HIV in Africa. Harvard public health head Edward Green defended Benedict on the HIV statistics, in spite of his own disagreement with Catholic reproduction ethics. I'm sure a good deal has been said, since, back & forth in professional conversation around this. You're bound to be more familiar with this than I. Interested in what you've seen.
charis said…
two quick responses- in Half the Sky, Kristof and WuDunn cite work suggesting that the most effective AIDS prevention strategy may not be condoms or abstinence focused, but rather emphasizing to young girls the dangers of having sex with older men.

My friend Janelle (a former Bryan grad who now has an MPH from UNC Chapel Hill and is living and working in Vietnam) has written a bit on HIV/AIDS that you may find interesting/helpful relevant : http://jnllthoughts.blogspot.com/

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