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Planned Parenthood's "Theology of the Body," courtesy of your tax dollars

When Planned Parenthood offers with public dollars its own "theology of the body," if you will (warning: this is some vulgar stuff), any alternative distribution of government money suggested by religious citizens is called a violation of the separation of church and state.

So, it seems safe to say that if the federal government were paying for a wide distribution of John Paul II's Theology of the Body to America's teenagers, the strong church-state separationists would be calling it a clear violation of the First Amendment. Thus, according to the "enlightened" understanding of our present legal regime, when the federal government underwrites PP's lessons, which answer precisely the same questions about human sexuality answered by John Paul II, then church and state are playing their appropriate roles, and theology remains, as it should always remain, in the back of the secular bus.

But that does not seem right. For if Planned Parenthood can be given public money to proselytize for its philosophical anthropology to the nation's children, then why should not religious citizens be allowed to do the same? After all, if each group is offering contrary answers to the precisely the same questions--questions whose answers depend on one's philosophical understanding of the nature of man--why is one "non-religious" and the other "religious"?

The "establishment clause," sadly, has become a means by which militant secularists may disenfranchise certain citizens based on a metaphysical litmus test that is applied capriciously.

Comments (9)

I realize I keep sounding like everybody's maiden aunt, but based on the comments at Dawn Eden's blog, where I first saw these PP videos linked from (I have _not_ watched them), "vulgar" is perhaps not quite strong enough a term to describe how bad they are. Given that I've just been involved on another blog discussing what one should and shouldn't expose oneself to from the culture, I feel bound to insert an additional and rather loud content warning here for those of you who don't want more stuff burned on the CD of your brain that you will later wish you could get rid of.

On the actual point of the post, I'm very much inclined to agree with you, Frank. But that position you imply--that if different groups are giving different answers to the same question, funding one cannot be an "establishment of religion" while funding the other is not--has a whole set of interesing and highly controversial implications.

Well that was more than a little creepy. I am so glad that PP is hip and able to talk to the kids where they live. What a great thing we are all funding with the creepy pedophile guy stalking these sexaully active young people and violating there personal space to "get real" with them about their sexual choices. I can't wait to encourage my own child to get vaccinated and spend some quality time with herself. WINK WINK

But what do I know? I am sure these spots will decrease the number of abortions. That is our goal right? To decrease the legal and government endorsed violent destruction of innocent human life to a more acceptable level. What kind of fundy nut job does not see the logic of all of this? After all, this is not "religiously based material." This is scientific!

Of course we forced them to do this by endorsing education that taught young people that the only way to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies was to avoid sex outside of a committed monogamous relationship. Who cares if that is true, it is just irresponsible to teach!

I am going to go home and enjoy my children's childhood while it lasts and pray that PP is never an influence on their lives. Sorry for the rant, but I am so worn out by Planned Parenthood and absolutely stunned that our tax support and major corporation as well as other charities are throwing money at these people.

...that if different groups are giving different answers to the same question, funding one cannot be an "establishment of religion" while funding the other is not--has a whole set of interesing and highly controversial implications.

To my way of thinking, the establishment of some or other religion or philosophical tradition is a structural necessity, and the tendency of liberalism to engage in obfuscations on this score - first, that it is a mere neutral arbiter between competing "thickly-constituted traditions", a procedural mechanism, and second, when the first hedge fails, that a particular tradition is to be preferred because it is predicated upon scientific expertise, and another disfavoured as religious - is a deplorable attempt on the part of liberals to have their cake and eat it too - to say, simultaneously, that they have no determinate doctrine, while determining that some doctrines should not be expressed. With their mouths they profess liberty, and in their deeds they mandate that things be done their way.

I don't fault them for their establishmentarianism so much as their dishonesty about it; society simply must have a governing philosophy, else it ceases to exist. Liberal legitimacy, however, requires that this be concealed from the public. My difference, then, concerns the what of that established philosophy, not the that of it.

Speaking of philosophical anthropology, Eileen McDonagh (the lady who tried to equate an unborn child with a rapist unless the woman explicitly consents to the pregnancy) attempted a review of Defending Life. She insists that Beckwith misrepresented her and Judith Jarvis Thomson's views. Astoundingly, she does not even try to respond to Beckwith's refutation of McDonagh's assertion "consenting to sex is not the same as consenting to pregnancy". Maybe it is because she cannot.
Here is the link.
We should be aware of the review, but I am not sure if a response is needed, given her complete failure to address the philosophical anthropology issues.
Sorry to post this comment on more than one entry, but it really does need to be seen. And it has a special relevance here.

Lydia - I just wanted to say that I do appreciate the content warnings. When I'm caught up in an interesting discussion, I sometimes forget the repercussions of TMI... Thanks for being a voice of reason!

why is one "non-religious" and the other "religious"?

The answer to me is obvious, but perhaps that is because the word religious means something different to Beckwith than it does to me. How is Beckwith using the word in this context?

For me, the term "religious" contributes nothing to the plausibility or implausibility of the competing narratives. What the term does do for the secularist is that it serves as a useful adjective to label and dismiss dissenting views, for in the nomenclature of elite culture, "religious" is the epistemological ugly step sister of real knowledge, the hot fox who is the daughter of science and the mistress of autonomy. :-)



I'm still in the dark here, so enlighten me. Don't you think the word has a certain meaning as used in the first amendment? So when you reference the first amendment, shouldn't you use the word the same way?

Do you really think the writers of the constitution would consider Planned Parenthood a religion?

(Thanks, Catherine.)

Robert, I think it's far more relevant to decide what 'establishment' means in the first amendment or perhaps the entire phrase 'establishment of religion' than to decide what 'religion' means taken in isolation. The assumption that any government _endorsement_ of religion is an _establishment_ of religion in the sense of the original meaning of the constitution has gotten our first amendment jurisprudence in this country badly off-track. My own strong inclination is to interpret the amendment in the minimalist sense. In other words, if you don't actually have a full-blown established (Established) church, as the Church of England was at the time of the American founding (and still, technically, is today), then you don't have an establishment of religion.

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