Why I Rejected Catholicism and Christianity 60 Years Ago and Embraced Reform Judaism Recently

One very important word to remember.  Misogyny, the hatred of women..  Along with the hatred of LGBT people.

Reform Judaism.  Women Rabbis and Cantors. LGBT welcoming.

Plus the whole bit about “The Trinity”  That one didn’t seem very Monotheistic to me.

Catholic Bishops Agree: Anything but a Woman

The push to allow married men to serve as priests isn’t progress. It’s another form of misogyny.

By Sara McDougall
Oct. 30, 2019

he modern Catholic Church is beset with serious problems. Among them is that not enough men want to be priests. Over the past three weeks, 184 bishops gathered at a Vatican summit to seek solutions for the Amazon region in particular, singled out because of myriad crises it is facing, including environmental devastation, violence and a shortage of priests to serve the needs of the faithful there.

The bishops’ solution: Do anything other than ordaining women as priests.

On Oct. 26, in a “revolutionary” decision, the bishops gathered at the Vatican voted 128 to 41 to allow an exception to what has essentially been a 1,000-year ban on the ordination of married men as priests. They recommended this change for only certain parts of the Amazon and for only married men already made deacons, meaning men already allowed to perform marriages and baptisms, but not to officiate at mass, which only priests can do. It is now for Pope Francis to decide whether the decision goes forward.

It is surprising in many ways that the bishops made this decision. Allowing a married man to be a priest violates several longstanding rules. They voted as they did despite the tremendous importance of chastity for the Catholic Church and the old idea that sexual activity is a pollutant that cannot be allowed near the holy ritual of the mass. They voted in favor of married priests despite a longstanding fear that for a priest to have a wife and a family would lead to serious conflicts of interest. There is a legend that the word “nepotism” was invented in honor of the grasping nephews of popes who sought and obtained more than they deserved thanks to their powerful uncles (and “nephews” we can sometimes see as a euphemism for “sons”).

These potential conflicts of interest and other dangers that family influence and obligations bring, therefore, are something Catholic authorities have long recognized and have eagerly sought to prevent. They voted as they did despite the symbolic importance, too, of the idea that a priest be united to only one spouse, the Church, just as Jesus Christ was united in an exclusive bond with the Church.

All of that paled in comparison to letting a woman, even a celibate woman, act as priest.

To be sure, there are good doctrinal reasons for this, if one wants to find them. According to the laws of the Catholic Church, known as canon law, that priests might marry or not is man-made law, therefore mutable, while the exclusion of women is divinely ordained. But the priesthood itself is a man-made invention, an amalgam of Judeo-Roman and other traditions, refined and also only rather belatedly attached to the mass, a ritual performance that re-enacts and celebrates the most important tenets of Catholic faith.

Continue reading at: Catholic Bishops Agree: Anything but a Woman

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No wonder Wall Street fears Warren and Sanders – they speak for the people

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/27/donald-trump-elizabeth-warren-bernie-sanders-joe-biden

Donald Trump’s victory showed right v left is irrelevant but he made anti-establishment fury work for those in charge

Sun 27 Oct 2019

In the conventional view of American politics, Joe Biden is a moderate while Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are on the left and Donald Trump is on the right.

This conventional view is rubbish. Today’s great divide is not between left and right. It’s between democracy and oligarchy.

There are no longer “moderates”. There’s no longer a “center”. The most powerful force in American politics today is anti-establishment fury at a rigged system.

Four decades ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, the left wanted stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. The right sought greater reliance on the free market.

In those days, a general election was like a competition between two hotdog vendors on a long boardwalk extending from left to right. To maximize sales, each had to move to the middle. If one strayed too far left or right, the other would move beside him and take all sales from the rest of the boardwalk.

This older American politics is now obsolete. As wealth and power have moved to the top and the middle class has shrunk, more Americans have joined the ranks of the working class and poor.

Most Americans – regardless of whether they were once on the left or right – have become politically disempowered and economically insecure. Nowadays it’s the boardwalk versus private jets on their way to the Hamptons.

As Rahm Emmanuel, Barack Obama’s chief of staff and former mayor of Chicago, told the New York Times: “This is really the crack-up. Usually fights are Democrats versus Republicans, one end of Pennsylvania versus the other, or the left versus the right. Today’s squabbles are internal between the establishment versus the people that are storming the barricades.”

In 2016, Trump harnessed many of these frustrations, as did Sanders.

The frustrations today are larger than they were in 2016. Corporate profits are higher, as is CEO pay. Markets are more monopolized. Wealth is more concentrated at the top. Although the official unemployment rate is lower, most peoples’ incomes have gone nowhere and they have even less job security.

Meanwhile, Washington has become even swampier. Big corporations, Wall Street and billionaires have flooded it with money and lobbyists. Trump has given out all the tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and subsidies they have ever wanted. The oligarchy is in charge.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/27/donald-trump-elizabeth-warren-bernie-sanders-joe-biden

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How Italians Became ‘White’

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/12/opinion/columbus-day-italian-american-racism.html

Oct. 12, 2019

Congress envisioned a white, Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country.

As the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson shows in his immigrant history “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the surge of newcomers engendered a national panic and led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. Journalists, politicians, social scientists and immigration officials embraced the habit, separating ostensibly white Europeans into “races.” Some were designated “whiter” — and more worthy of citizenship — than others, while some were ranked as too close to blackness to be socially redeemable. The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change.

Darker skinned southern Italians endured the penalties of blackness on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Northerners had long held that Southerners — particularly Sicilians — were an “uncivilized” and racially inferior people, too obviously African to be part of Europe.

Racist dogma about Southern Italians found fertile soil in the United States. As the historian Jennifer Guglielmo writes, the newcomers encountered waves of books, magazines and newspapers that “bombarded Americans with images of Italians as racially suspect.” They were sometimes shut out of schools, movie houses and labor unions, or consigned to church pews set aside for black people. They were described in the press as “swarthy,” “kinky haired” members of a criminal race and derided in the streets with epithets like “dago,” “guinea” — a term of derision applied to enslaved Africans and their descendants — and more familiarly racist insults like “white nigger” and “nigger wop.”

The penalties of blackness went well beyond name-calling in the apartheid South. Italians who had come to the country as “free white persons” were often marked as black because they accepted “black” jobs in the Louisiana sugar fields or because they chose to live among African-Americans. This left them vulnerable to marauding mobs like the ones that hanged, shot, dismembered or burned alive thousands of black men, women and children across the South.

The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth, and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record.

Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/12/opinion/columbus-day-italian-american-racism.html

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I listened to the Supreme Court argue about my rights as a trans person. I have never felt more frustrated.

From Vox:  https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/10/10/20906610/supreme-court-transgender-discrimination

There was a lot of talk about bathrooms during cases about work discrimination.

Oct 10, 2019

At an early point in Tuesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments, I realized I had to pee. This was despite having just ducked into the ladies’ room to relieve myself before reporters were called into the press gallery. Maybe it was the large latte I drank on my walk to court. Maybe it was my anxiety, which was rolling through my gut as I prepared to listen to people argue over my civil rights as a trans person.

This, it turned out, was fitting. As soon as the first two of three cases over LGBTQ employment rights under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act got underway, it was clear to me that what was really on the justices’ minds was also what was on mine: my bathroom usage. The first hour of arguments were over two cases in which gay men had allegedly been fired for being gay, and though neither case had anything to do with gender identity, that didn’t stop even liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg from bringing up the most obsessed-over of all trans issues — bathrooms and who gets to use the ones labeled “women” and who gets to use the ones labeled “men,” an argument often led by conservatives.

The “big issue right now raging the country is bathroom usage. Same-sex bathroom usage,” Sotomayor said. According to the official transcript, the word bathroom was uttered nearly 20 times during arguments for a case that, again, had to do with work discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bathroom talk continued into the third case, which was at least about trans rights — but it was about the right to work free of discrimination as a trans person, not about where we pee.

While I get that Sotomayor knew bathrooms were bound to come up and perhaps wanted to beat everyone to the punch, this “raging” issue she described has long been dominated by conservative furor over “men in women’s bathrooms.” It was frustrating to hear cisgender justices argue about bathrooms and religious exemptions when what was at stake was my right to earn a living. The consequences of their decision could affect not just my livelihood but millions of people in the LGBTQ community.

The US trans community had been watching the trans rights case before SCOTUS, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, roll through the justice system for quite some time — and doing so with an imminent sense of dread. According to a 2015 National Center for Transgender Equality survey, 30 percent of all trans people have experienced discrimination in the workplace for being trans. Lack of employment opportunities has led to increased levels of poverty within the trans community and made access to gender-affirming health care more difficult. These numbers could get much better, or much worse, based on the justices’ decision.

On Monday, I spoke with Aimee Stephens, the trans woman at the center of the case who was fired from her job as a funeral director and embalmer almost immediately after coming out to her employer, and came away impressed with her cool optimism. But I’ve still been quite anxious about the outcome. Not this court, not with these five conservative justices, I thought. Trans people don’t ever get breaks in these situations.

Continue reading at:  https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/10/10/20906610/supreme-court-transgender-discrimination

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Rabbi, 77, arrested at Extinction Rebellion’s Bank of England protest

Republicans Only Pretend to Be Patriots

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/democrats-republicans.html

And Democrats need to expose them for what they are.

Sept. 23, 2019

Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners.

And Barack Obama faced constant, scurrilous accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers. Remember the “apology tour,” or the assertions that he had bowed to overseas leaders?

But now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance — we don’t know, for example, how much his policies have been shaped by the money foreign governments have been lavishing on his businesses. But even what we do know — his admitted solicitation of foreign help in digging up dirt on political rivals, his praise for brutal autocrats — would have had Republicans howling about treason if a Democrat had done it.

Yet almost all G.O.P. politicians seem perfectly fine with Trump’s behavior. Which means that it’s time to call Republican superpatriotism what it was long before Trump appeared on the scene: a fraud.

After all, a true patriot is willing to make some sacrifice, to give up some personal or policy goal, in the national interest. Can anyone point to any prominent figure in the modern Republican Party who has done that?

In fact, the periods in which Republicans worked hardest to wrap themselves in the flag and question Democrats’ loyalty were also periods in which the G.O.P. doubled down on its usual domestic agenda of making the rich richer. Even as George W. Bush’s administration was hyping the war on terrorism and leading America to war on false pretenses, the party was pushing for tax cuts: “Nothing,” declared Tom DeLay, the House Republican leader at the time, “is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.”

But if Republican superpatriotism has always been a fraud, why were so many Americans taken in? After all, polling suggests that except for a brief period after the extent of the Iraq debacle became clear, the public has consistently viewed the G.O.P. as stronger than Democrats on national security.

My guess, although I’d love to see some serious research from political scientists, is that for most of the past half-century the G.O.P.’s patriotic posturing dovetailed with its domestic political strategy, which centered on hostility to the Other.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/democrats-republicans.html

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How evangelical and right-wing media spread a false story about health care for trans youth

From Media Matters:  https://www.mediamatters.org/daily-wire/how-evangelical-and-right-wing-media-spread-false-story-about-health-care-trans-youth

Right-wing and evangelical websites, as well as their social networks, amplify misinformation and build outrage against the LGBTQ community

by Kayla Gogarty & Brianna January

Major right-wing and anti-LGBTQ outlets, in particular Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, posted content based on misconstrued data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to falsely suggest that drugs used to delay puberty are deadly for trans teens. The story — which began with debunked reporting from a U.K. tabloid — received high engagement on social media after right-wing and evangelical media apparatus boosted it.

The story was shared multiple times on Facebook by Daily Wire personalities like Shapiro, Michael Knowles, and Matt Walsh, as well as other popular conservative pages such as PragerU. The misinformation followed a familiar path of right-wing figures boosting lower-engagement content to higher-profile social media platforms so it reaches a larger audience.

Content pushing this anti-trans misinformation have accumulated at least 165,000 interactions in total, and anti-trans group The Kelsey Coalition is leveraging the same misconstrued data to fearmonger about gender-affirming medical care. In its September 27 report, NBC News noted that evangelical and right-wing outlets helped the story go viral, and the outlet debunked several of their claims.


Right-wing outlet Daily Mail published misleading information on puberty blockers that earned low Facebook engagement

On August 25, right-wing U.K. outlet the Daily Mail published an article that misleadingly claimed that England’s National Health Service (NHS) “is investigating issues around hormone-blocking drugs.” Also known as puberty blockers, hormone-blocking drugs “are medicines that prevent puberty from happening” to help transgender youths’ bodies “better reflect who [they] are.”

The article referenced comments Jackie Doyle-Price, parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care, made to the U.K. House of Commons on July 23, which did not specify that the NHS was investigating any drug or raise alarm about puberty blockers. In fact, she said that “the treatments available on the NHS, particularly for children, are appropriate.”

The Daily Mail specifically pointed to Doyle-Price’s comments that she is “working with NHS England to do a proper review of the research around this service and the ethics of it to establish a proper framework for consent” for young people seeking assistance from NHS’ Gender Identity Development Service. An NHS spokesperson told NBC News that “no special review is being launched” into puberty blockers and “noted that all transgender health care services are regularly reviewed.”

The Daily Mail article earned less than 500 interactions on Facebook, according to Crowdtangle’s Google Chrome extension.

Conservative outlet National Catholic Register picked up the story and earned over 8,400 Facebook interactions

On September 18, conservative outlet National Catholic Register published an article that linked to a reprint of the Daily Mail article and repeated its false claim about an NHS investigation into puberty blockers. It also misleadingly claimed that “thousands of deaths” and “more than 41,000 adverse events” were associated with the drugs based on a misrepresentation of data from the FDA.

NBC News debunked that claim, noting that the “‘thousands’ of people who die while taking these drugs are likely the terminally ill cancer patients who receive hormone blockers to fight hormone-sensitive cancers, like prostate cancer, according to experts.” Joshua Safer, executive director of the Mt. Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, told NBC News that the conservative outlet was not relying on an individual study for its conclusions and was instead looking at “a big smorgasbord of reports and so the problem with that is you don’t even know that those deaths are connected to the agent they are reported to be connected to.” Safer noted that hormone-blocking drugs are also used to treat “infertility and certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer,” so any deaths connected to their use are “much more likely” to be associated with those conditions than the drugs themselves.

National Catholic Register also interviewed anti-trans endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw, who is a medical consultant for the Kelsey Coalition. The Kelsey Coalition is an anti-trans group for parents who advocate against accepting children’s gender identity. Laidlaw is one of the few public-facing members of the group and uses his position as a medical professional to give its arguments a veneer of credibility.

National Catholic Register’s article earned more interactions on Facebook than the Daily Mail’s, with around 8,400 interactions.

Continue reading at:  https://www.mediamatters.org/daily-wire/how-evangelical-and-right-wing-media-spread-false-story-about-health-care-trans-youth

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