Coat Hangers At Dawn

Following the attempts by the fundamentalist extremist religious right in South Dakota to ban contraception, abortion, sex ed and their war on everyone who disagrees with them.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Non-Partisan South Dakota Group GOP Front

It figures something was up when we saw Sibby was referencing this group. The Great Plains Public Policy Institute claims to be non partisan, but upon closer inspection looks to be yet another conservative front group.

"The Mission of the Great Plains Public Policy Institute is to formulate and promote free enterprise solutions to public policy problems based on the principles of individual responsibility, limited government, privatization and traditional American values."

Hmm. That sure looks like the conservative platform in a nutshell.

The group cites the James Madison Institute in much of their literature. JMI is a conservative group and much of the Great Plains site is a direct copy of their information.

We did some checking on their members.
Board of Directors
Max Gonzenbach
Contributor to SD Republican party
Ron Williamson
Ties to the Heritage Foundation and listed under their SD contacts for education
Dr. Stuart Dorsey
Limited information
Craig Lawrence
Worked on Kirby's failed Republican run for governor .
Rudy Nef
In business with Max Gonzenbach
Doug Loon
Worked to support Thune's election
Pat Wingen
Also tied to the chamber, who was pushing Thune's election

Gay Marriage Ban Logic Loses More Ground

Kirk Snyder exposes the gaping holes in the gay marriage ban logic.

A. The history of marriage was not a religious one, until recent western culture.
B. More academic evidence proving that sexual orientation is genetic, not social factors.
C. Only 28% of people strongly oppose same sex marriage according to a March 2006 Pew Research Center study.

Arkansas Court Backs Gay Foster Parents

The high court in Arkansas clearly stated that " there is no link between their sexual orientation and a child's well-being".

Also on the issue:
"The court agreed with a lower court judge that the state's child welfare board had improperly tried to regulate public morality. The ban also violated the separation of powers doctrine, the justices said."

The justices agreed Thursday, saying the ban was "an attempt to legislate for the General Assembly with respect to public morality."

Arkansas Court Backs Gay Foster Parents

The high court in Arkansas clearly stated that " there is no link between their sexual orientation and a child's well-being".

Also on the issue:
"The court agreed with a lower court judge that the state's child welfare board had improperly tried to regulate public morality. The ban also violated the separation of powers doctrine, the justices said."

The justices agreed Thursday, saying the ban was "an attempt to legislate for the General Assembly with respect to public morality."

Omaha Nun Steals $300,000 From Church, Spends It On Gambling And Trips

"OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A 71-year-old nun who co-wrote a popular marriage-preparation program was arrested on charges of improperly spending more than $300,000 US on casinos, gifts and air travel."

Somehow certain people will try to pass this off as "bashing". Were just passing on the information about the incident. But it sure looks like the illusion of moral authority is eroding.

The Religious Right Have Officially Lost Their Minds

South Dakota progressive posted today about the religious right and specifically some Catholic extremists are attacking charities now.

Their issue with the Gates Foundation is that a very small fraction of their work involves non abortion contraception services, less than 1% of their work. Never mind that this foundation is one of the largest in the world providing vaccines, drugs and healthcare in the developing world. They are trying to eradicate AIDS, malaria, TB and a variety of contagious diseases. They also work to provide healthcare and nutrition to those in need.

Somehow putting billions into trying to save people in developing countries makes you akin to a Nazi war criminal in the eyes of some Catholic and "pro-life" groups.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Republican Senator Leaves Party Over Abortion Resolution

Sen. Clarence Kooistra of Garretson has left the Republican party and registered as a democrat.
His primary reason for leaving:
"I and many of my constituents do not support abortion, but neither do we support legislation that violates the United States Constitution,” Kooistra said in a statement. “The abortion issue has never been a major part of my agenda, and I have never supported abortion nor can I support legislation that makes felons out of medical doctors who perform safe abortions that are a result of rape or incest.”

The more extreme the Republican party in South Dakota becomes the more sensible people it alienates.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Abortion Ban Campaigning Has Gotten Off To An Ugly Start

Supporters of the abortion ban have already started campaigning for their ill fated ban, numerous minor efforts have begun. What was interesting was the negativity and the reaction to their efforts.

One obvious supporter of the ban was spotted in Sioux Falls over the weekend displaying an inflammatory anti-abortion tshirt. The shirt had "abortion" is very big letters and some inflammatory language included. Stopping to view the reaction of others in the store was interesting. People would turn to look at the shirt but then scowled and turned away.

Protecting Reproductive Rights

Both male and female should have the right to not have interference in their reproductive rights.
This includes their right TO reproduce and use medical intervention if they need to.
This includes having access to truthful educational information on sex, reproduction and contraception.
They have the right to not reproduce against their will.
They have the right to use contraception and not to have their access to such impeded.
They have the right to obtain an abortion as a last resort, though though better access of the other reproductive rights the need for this would drastically drop.

All of the above rights are the target of repeal by the far right, and now the Republican's as a party platform in South Dakota. All of the accepted reproductive rights listed above were under attack in some fashion in South Dakota in the last year by extremists in South Dakota.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gov. Rounds Co-Stars In New Movie

South Dakota's Gov. Rounds stars in a new short film.

SD GOP Officially Becomes The Party of Theocracy and Intolerance

The South Dakota GOP issued hard line party resolutions supporting a theocratic and intolerant party line with no room for dissent.

The abortion ban was discussed and some wanted language "acknowledging that some "people of good conscience of both major parties" may take issue with some aspects of the abortion ban."

This was flatly rejected. So the South Dakota Republican stance is now that you can't even have reservations about the lack of rape, incest or health clauses in their abortion ban.
So the South Dakota Republican party is now the party of total abortion ban, no room for discussion or dissent of any member of the party.

The South Dakota Republican party also stated their support for the marriage amendment (banning same sex unions) as the official party stance.

So the SD GOP has become the SD back alley abortion party and a party who has no problem crushing the civil rights of other citizens. Very sad.

Friday, June 23, 2006

National Right To Life Thinks South Dakota Ban Is Bad Idea

National Right to Life expressed concern over South Dakota abortion ban.

"But anti-abortion activists expressed concern about whether it could survive a legal challenge before the Supreme Court.

"The effort there is premature at this point," said Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life. "We know for sure we don't have enough justices to overturn Roe at this point. We feel that any effort to try to prematurely pass legislation that might go before the court is misplaced at this point because we know it will be overturned."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Updated Terminology In The Pro Life Movement

The terminology of the "pro-life" movement has been updated to be a bit more accurate and detailed.

Pro-sperm: Someone who wants to ban contraception, sperms have a constitutional right to find an egg.

Pro-zygote: Someone who thinks an egg has a constitutional right to implantation. This also includes those wanting to ban contraception and Plan B.

Pro-fetus: Someone who advocates the protection of mature, growing fetuses. But determining at what point a zygote turns into a fetus is greatly debated and without consensus. It also depends on what Catholic teaching the may believe. The 1400 year old version that says life begins at the quickening, or the more recent 1869 ruling by Pope Pius IX. But wouldn't that make them all Piusists? Say that ten times fast. Pro-Piusists.

But the one that didn't make the list that should have....

Pro-BackAlleyAbortion: These are the people who want to outlaw safe legal abortion and also contraception access that can help prevent the whole situation entirely.

Anti-Abortion Leader Wants 3rd Parties To Stay Out Of Doctor Patient Decisions

Dr. Allen Unruh, one of the leaders of the abortion ban and South Dakota task force member wants third parties to stay out of doctor patient decisions.

Dr. Unruh recently came out with these remarks on how he wanted third parties to stay out of medical decisions between patients and their doctors:

"The doctor is signing away his autonomy to make health care decisions often in the best interest of the patient."

"Stringent policies on procedures and reimbursements for procedures are given. Only limited care is allowed."

"A third party determines your health needs and it's often based on their bottom line and not your health."

"I also believe health care should be managed by the patient and the doctor, not by some person who has not even seen the patient."

"Your health should never be signed over to someone who treats you like a number and denies needed care..."

This coming from the man who thinks people should be denied information about sexual education, wants to ban contraception, wants to prevent access to emergency contraception and wants to ban abortion in all circumstances.

We will be taking donations to replace our now broken irony meter.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Anti-Abortion Leader Wants 3rd Parties To Stay Out Of Doctor Patient Decisions

Dr. Allen Unruh, one of the leaders of the abortion ban and South Dakota task force member wants third parties to stay out of doctor patient decisions.

Dr. Unruh recently came out with these remarks on how he wanted third parties to stay out of medical decisions between patients and their doctors:

"The doctor is signing away his autonomy to make health care decisions often in the best interest of the patient."

"Stringent policies on procedures and reimbursements for procedures are given. Only limited care is allowed."

"A third party determines your health needs and it's often based on their bottom line and not your health."

"I also believe health care should be managed by the patient and the doctor, not by some person who has not even seen the patient."

"Your health should never be signed over to someone who treats you like a number and denies needed care..."

This coming from the man who thinks people should be denied information about sexual education, wants to ban contraception, wants to prevent access to emergency contraception and wants to ban abortion in all circumstances.

We will be taking donations to replace our now broken irony meter.

Government Study Shows Desire For National Healthcare Is Overwhelming

The Citizens Health Care Working Group, a non-partisan group gathering information on national healthcare for Congress has issued some initial findings. After polling citizens in various cities they have found that the majority of the US wants healthcare that looks like this:

All Americans receive health care coverage for a defined level of services.
A program that does not have arbitrary limits on coverage, or bare bones coverage.
Limiting coverage to services that have proven medical effectiveness.
A focus on preventative care, health education and individuals taking responsibility for their care.
A system that assured care was affordable and assured for all individuals.
A system that did not depend on employer provided insurance.
A streamlined system that took price setting out of the hands of prescription drug companies, insurers, and for-profit providers

In the end this statement gathered the largest support for how people wanted healthcare:
“Create a national health insurance program, financed by taxpayers, in which all Americans would get their insurance”

Read the whole report here.

The Citzens' Healthcare Working Group is taking input from the people until August 31st.
You can tell the government what kind of healthcare you want here.

Frist Gives Poison Pill To Minimum Wage Bill

Bill "kitten killer" Frist stuck a poison pill into the minimum wage bill in Congress.

Frist inserted a measure that would have made it a crime to take a minor across state lines for an abortion. The added measure would have required a vote on the inserted measure before they could discuss the minimum wage.

Even Frist knows these wedge issues hold no support with the general public anymore. He's using them to snuff the life out of things.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Abortion Ban Supports Raise $645 For State Million Dollar Legal Defence

The state fund to defend the abortion ban has raised a whopping $645 in recent months.

The anti-choice South Dakota Taliban keep claiming that they are the majority. The huge turnout of petition signatures and apparent lack of interest in the ban support fund says much.

So far to date no major social, political, academic or medical group has come out in support of the ban. Though many have denounced it.

New Yorker Article On South Dakota

An interesting analysis of the South Dakota abortion ban and its larger impacts. The end of the article also has an interesting breakdown of how the Republican party uses it as a manipulation tool and how they do not want abortion to go away as a political issue.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Schaff Quotes Opus Dei As An Upbiased Source

Jon Schaff at South Dakota Politics has done it again. In this recent blog post he made a case for his version of traditional marriage as justification for supporting bigotry legislation against same sex couples.

Jon Schaff, a POLITICAL PROFESSOR claimed the group and paper he included in his post were an unbiased scholarly group with no religious agenda. The group is heavily linked with Opus Dei, the far right Catholic cult. Please note the two quotes below from Schaff as he claims his source to be unbiased and scholarly.

"A reader will note that it is signed by a variety of leading intellectuals and scholars"

"One will then have to grapple with the fact that these diverse group of highly respected scholars have presented a learned defense of traditional marriage and an honest opposition to same-sex marriage"

Ok Jon, if you say so. May we remind you this man is a POLITICS PROFESSOR?

Then we stumbled across this story clearly outing the groups Schaff cited as clearly being a front for Opus Dei, the President of the group Schaff cited is the director and lead cleric of Opus Dei at Princeton.

The highlights from the article:

"But Brownback really hit his stride when he described a paper called "Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good," published by a fairly new and extremely conservative group at Princeton University. According to Brownback"

"The paper, sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton, makes a case for banning same-sex marriage altogether.What's extraordinary is the idea of a United States senator attempting to sway opinion on an amendment that would have altered our Constitution (had it not been defeated last Wednesday) by using a paper from an organization linked to Opus Dei, a strict religious group that some former members have described as a cult."

"Brownback spent a good part of his lengthy Senate speech last week citing the study and attributing it to "this Princeton group of scholars," while never mentioning that all of the findings were based on the ultraconservative Witherspoon Institute bolstered by the involvement -- directly or indirectly -- of a nonprofit, tax-exempt religious organization in Opus Dei."

"The institute, which has only been around since 2003, has close ties to Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council, but is also tightly aligned with Opus Dei. Indeed, Luis Tellez, the president of the Witherspoon Institute is also the director and lead cleric of Opus Dei in Princeton."

"Since its founding in 1928, Opus Dei has been known for its traditionalist values and right-wing political stances. And critics in academia -- which include former members who sometimes go through "deprogramming" upon exiting Opus Dei -- charge that organizations like the Witherspoon Institute are just veiled attempts by Opus Dei to spread its influence in top-tier academic circles."

"So why then, is a U.S. senator offering to Congress "research" linked to Opus Dei on something as vital as amending the Constitution? It turns out that Brownback, who was formerly an evangelical Protestant, converted to Catholicism by way of Opus Dei in 2002 and was sponsored in that conversion by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., a vocal Opus Dei advocate."

"Tellez, the leader of Opus Dei in Princeton, is a "numerary," considered the most conservative of the sect's members -- they are unmarried, celibate, devote every aspect of their lives to their spiritual beliefs and turn over their salaries from secular jobs to Opus Dei.

Again, it bears repeating that Tellez is also the head of the Witherspoon Institute, the group Brownback cited at great length as his primary argument against gay marriage. And remember, it is Brownback, as an Opus Dei convert, who also leads the charge on Capitol Hill against abortion and stem cell research and who, along with Santorum, is seen by the Religious Right as a point man on "culture war" issues.

The other central figure in the Witherspoon orbit is Dr. Robert George, a Princeton professor and a board member in the institute who, not coincidentally, helped draft the federal gay-marriage ban that was just defeated in the Senate. George chaired a meeting of religious leaders in late 2005 that included Dr. James Dobson and other members of the extreme Religious Right. In fact, in addition to his pivotal role in the Witherspoon Institute, George is also a board member at Perkins' Family Research Council, a group known for its bigoted positions on the gay community."

Note: Witherspoon Inst. is the sponsor of the "Princeton Principles" and article that Schaff was attempting to pass off as an unbiased source.

As a side note on Brownbeck and Focus On The Families James Dobson we present the following:
"Finally, in addition to being brought into Catholicism by the likes of Opus Dei and using laundered research by an affiliated group on the Senate floor, Brownback chairs a meeting every Tuesday night with the "Values Action Team," consisting of religious leaders like Dobson who help the senator formulate his thoughts on public policy issues.

According to Time magazine, Opus Dei has assets in the neighborhood of $2.8 billion and, with John McCain unlikely to significantly rouse the Religious Right in 2008, look for Brownback to be the guy that Opus Dei, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council turn to as their presidential candidate."

Vote No On Referred Law 6 - Its Official

The SD Secretary of State has approved the petition to put the extremist abortion ban to a vote of the people.

From the article:
"Secretary of State Chris Nelson said today that a petition to refer the law to a public vote has sufficient signatures to put the measure on the November election ballot."

This was said about the approval for the ban to go to a vote:
“We will encourage all South Dakotans to join us in repealing this extreme law that has embroiled our state in controverty and threatens our government with million-dollar lawsuits.’’

This is yet again another loss for the South Dakota Taliban that attempted multiple times to prevent this from going to a vote of the people. They pulled a tactical maneuver to stop the SD Legislature from referring this to the people after it was agreed to do so. They then tried to claim that the referendum process was not part of the US government system and that we must rely on a "republic form of governence", in their words we should not be allowed to question what the legislators do, even if they are insane theocrats working under their own personal agenda rather than the good of the people. They claimed the signatures were not valid and attempted to cause yet more confusion with unfounded claims that signatures were gathered by out of state people or that people were duped into signing. All of these claims have gone without any evidence or substantiation. The process moves forward and the South Dakota Taliban's past claims and whining have become vapor that they hope will be forgotten.

Woman Episcopalian Leader "All Are Welcome Here"

The new leader of the Episcopalian Church is a woman and in her televised speech she commented that "all are welcome here" speaking about gays, minorities and those with dissenting views.

The minority ultra-conservative offshoots of the Episcopalian Church are continuing to threaten to leave the group. The central organization is planning a strong legal defense to retain financial and property assets of those groups attempting to leave. It was not stated who funded those resources.

So yet another mainstream church has stood against hate, intolerance and interfering in the lives of those outside the church. The United Church of Christ has publicly done so as has the United Methodist Church.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Far Right Plans To Call A Constitutional Convention - To Ban Gay Marriage.

These idiots have now gone too far. Since their marriage amendment failed miserably in the Senate, they are talking about trying to convene a Constituational Convention to side step CONGRESS.

It would take 34 state legislatures to approve it but this would literally be giving them the ability to rewrite THE CONSTITUTION.

The only thing that would result from this would be civil war.

South Dakota State Medical Association Speaks Out Against The Abortion Ban

From Today's Argus Leader:

Leaders of the South Dakota State Medical Association, a statewide trade group that represents more than 1,600 doctors, are speaking out against what some doctors call the "extreme" ban on abortions passed this year by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Rounds.

The ban outlaws almost all abortions. It does not make exceptions for a woman's health or rape, as many had wanted.

Leaders of the doctors group, which recently held its annual meeting in Rapid City, said the legislation could impede their ability to make sound medical decisions for their pregnant patients.

"Medical decisions should be left to doctors and patients, not politicians in Pierre," said Dr. Marvin Buehner of Rapid City, a co-chair for the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, a group that opposes the ban.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Well Worded Thought Against Intolerance

Hello Thinking About Our Schools:
An Occasional Letter from Eric Abrahamson,
Board of Education, District 5

March 2, 2006

Dear Friends:

The South Dakota Legislature ended what may well be an historic regular session this week, having concluded that it was in the interests of the state’s taxpayers to approve legislation on abortion that even conservatives like President Bush and columnist Cal Thomas consider extreme. In the meantime, they stepped up to protect rapists by killing a bill submitted by Representative Alan Hanks that would have terminated the right of a rapist to claim parental rights of a child conceived by rape.

History has never been kind to intolerant communities that want to impose a monolithic moral view on all members of society. At the extreme, Arab terrorists, Nazis, or the grand inquisitors of the Catholic Church were all willing to kill those who did not share their beliefs. In each case, the perpetrators of violence were those who were so filled with their own sense of moral virtue that they felt no compunction about imposing it on others.

As a historian I know that people often embrace the leadership of demagogues because they promise a more black and white moral order. In power, however, the hubris of these leaders creates a climate of fear and intimidation. People suffer as the resources of the government are turned to the effort to impose the moral view of the leadership.

Our founding fathers feared this kind of turn of events. God-fearing as many of them were, they had witnessed the chaos of religious wars in England and Europe that resulted in the murder and torture of tens of thousands of people by Catholic and Protestant zealots alike. Despite their own religious backgrounds, most of them worked hard to make the idea of freedom of conscience a cornerstone of American democracy. Unfortunately, many of those who would legislate morality today seem to have read little history.

If they had, they would appreciate the genius of our system of law. Although it’s popular today to rewrite history by saying that our laws are rooted in the Ten Commandments, this is in fact not true. Our legal system is the product of a confluence of traditions from pre-Christian German tribes, the Romans, the Greeks, and Napoleonic France, as well as the Old Testament and the laws of the medieval church. The tradition of our founding fathers was the system of common law that recognized the slow evolution of community consensus as the basis for the government’s ability to decide what is right and what is wrong.

That consensus has clearly not arrived when it comes to the ever-more complex questions that surround when life begins and when life ends in an age that can create a baby in a test-tube and keep a heart beating after the brain has ceased to function. While I respect the views of those who feel strongly about the issue of abortion, the polls show that there is no consensus in America on these issues and it is not yet time to impose the most extreme point of view on the majority who are still wrestling with their conscience – especially at the expense of the taxpayers in our state.

As a historian I also know that although free societies can be seduced by moral extremists, they eventually reject this leadership and swing back to the messy stability of moderation and tolerance. In the end, most societies prefer that governments focus on creating the conditions for prosperity rather than legislate morality. When South Dakotans vote to turn away from fanaticism and turn back to the business of ensuring the common good, we can begin to get some constructive energy focused on improving our schools, providing infrastructure to grow our economy, and taking care of the health needs of our citizens.

Eric Abrahamson
District 5 Representative, Board of Education
Rapid City Area Schools

A Reality Check On Moral Authority

Some in South Dakota claim that their religious allegances give them moral authority over the rest of the state. They claim that they are somehow better, above reproach and therefore be allowed to make your decisions for you.

Here's a reality check on the moral quality and perfection, just in the last two days:

David Ludwig, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his girlfriend's parents. Both Ludwig and his girlfriend were children of Evangelical Christians who were homeschooled. They met through outings for other Christian homeschooled kids.

Mary Winkler, was indicted on charges of first degree murder in the death of her husband. Winkler's husband was a preacher at Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tennessee. This is a rather sad case all around and no motive for the shooting has been given or presented yet.

Robert Weiler Jr. was in court this week in connection with a foiled plot to bomb abortion clinics and shoot doctors. In court Weiler chose to wear a shirt with incitive anti-abortion slogans. Weiler's parents stated that they actively oppose abortion but turned Weiler in when they were made aware of his plans.

Religion of any kind does not suddenly make someone into some perfect all knowing being. The actions of the person define the person. Moral authority is yet another Orwellian mind game.

Southern Baptist Convention Resolves To Influence Public Schools

The Convention refused to adopt an exit strategy to remove their children from public schools. Instead, they resolved that the members should instead "exert their godly influence" on the public schools. The main complaint was not teaching creationism and not denouncing homosexuality in the public schools. One faction wanted to pull Baptist children out of the public schools, yet others that prevailed wish to continue attempting to insert their religion into the public schools.
The Convention also barred members who consume alcohol as serving as trustees or members of any Southern Baptist Convention entity.

Were not sure why they are unable to teach their religious beliefs to their children at home and through their churches sufficently and feel it now must be the public schools job to do it for them.

For reference these churches in South Dakota belong to the SBC:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ohio Abortion Ban Goes Further Than South Dakota's

Not to be outdone by the regressive politics in South Dakota, Ohio is debating a bill far worse than the South Dakota ban. The Ohio ban has NO EXCEPTIONS at all. Not even the LIFE of the mother. Ohio would rather let you die that allow you to have an abortion, not matter what the medical reason. It would also make it a felony to transport a woman to another state to have an abortion. The law did not clearly state if that applied to women driving themselves. Maybe they are going to outlaw women driving next?

According to Ohio lawmakers you are truely disposable, even if the fetus will surely die too, its taking you with.

Plan B Still Caught In The Middle

The FDA is still waffling about releasing Plan B for over the counter use. Federal Health and Human Services promised to have a decision by Sept. 2005 but to date has continued to stall over the counter sales. An ongoing lawsuit against the FDA by The Center For Reproductive Rights brought out testimony that showed the deliberate obstruction of the approval process.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Religious Extremists Allowed To Conduct Assemblies In South Dakota Schools

These people claim to have presented in Sioux Falls and many other South Dakota communities.

An extremist group promoting an anti-gay, anti-vaccine, anti-abortion, anti-divorce, anti-"rock n roll", anti-gun control and harsh "virtue" religious based message are being allowed to present in South Dakota schools. According to the group's website they have presented in many South Dakota communities including Sioux Falls.

We were first made aware of this group last year when one of our sometime contributors ran into the group asking for donations in front of Walmart. Something about the group claiming to give "stay off drugs" presentations at public schools just didn't seem right. After some online research our contributor found that this group was not the "stay off drugs" group they claimed to be, but were instead an extremist religious group with a track record of bait and switch. The group would go into public schools claiming to be an alchohol awareness or anti-drug presentation. Their brochures only touch on that subject. But once in the schools the actual presentation turns into a harsh extremist religious indoctrination. The assembly includes separating the male and female students into different rooms and telling the female students such gems as "teenagers "would get black spots" on their wedding dress if they held hands with a boy."

Later in the week the same contributor was again confronted by members of this group asking for money in front of Walmart. When the contributor questioned the member about the other aspects of their agenda beyond the anti-drug message the member became very angry and punched the glass window after our contributor walked inside. Walmart management was contacted after the incident. The manager had no idea of the real agenda of the group and looked up the groups website while on the phone. He was shocked and a bit embarrassed. The manager said the group would be asked to leave and was not seen after that incident by various reports.

We were able to contact a parent in another state last summer, who had a very scary run-in with these people. The parent's name and state are withheld due to threats of violence made against them by members of "You Can Run But You Cannot Hide". The parent contacted the group directly at their home office after having a similar confrontational run-in at a Walmart. The parent was then harrassed and threatened on several occasions by the group for making public comments to the media about this group in an effort to silence the parent.

Here are some direct quotes from the groups website confirming some of their extremist agenda:
"Showing America the Price of Freedom hits on issues such as the Dangers of Anti-Depressants, Vaccinations, Lines Between Church and State (and how there is no such thing), the Gay Agenda, and Abortion"

Link to a CD they sell promoting their anti-vaccine agenda.

The group’s Web site, www. youcanrunbutyoucannothide. com, states that the organization is a non-profit "charitable church ministry."

The group is paid between $1500 and $3000 for their presentations with the funds usually coming from federal or state anti-drug funds given to public schools.

There is a long track record exposing their bait & switch and the extremism sprung on students.

Eureka Arkansas
Eureka Springs School District patrons are buzzing over an alcohol-awareness seminar that turned into a morality lesson at the city’s high school.

Some students who attended the assembly said that what began as a message to stay away from alcohol transgressed into rants from lecturers on topics including abortion, gun control, the sanctity of marriage and "the dangers of rock and roll."

District administrators contracted with the group to perform an anti-drug-and-alcohol skit through funds allotted from the state for "safe and drug-free" school programs. The three-hour presentation included a period when boys and girls were split into two groups for "virtue lessons" by presenters Bradlee Dean and his wife, Stephanie, said Amy Deitcher, a 16-year-old high school junior.

During the girls’ session, Joy reportedly told teenagers they "would get black spots" on their wedding dress if they held hands with a boy. Later, the girls’ group was presented with a "treasure chest" theory in which they were told that any sort of physical contact with a man before marriage would result in a woman becoming "leftovers" for her husband, Deitcher said.

In Des Moines also.

Several students expressed concern after the program Wednesday by a Minnesota-based traveling values program called You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. They said the group's music was religious and the judgmental message delivered by Bradlee Dean, the head of the group, was anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-divorce.

"The whole talk had religious things going on," said Tyler Wonnick, 15, who, with the whole Van Meter High School student body, was bused Wednesday to the program in Earlham. "I was pretty upset about it. I'm not a religious person at all, and I don't like being forced into those situations."

Parents say they were not advised of the program's content or given a chance to opt out.

The Earlham principal who booked the group and paid the $1,500"suggested donation" to the group said he had no idea the message would cross into such controversial areas. He said he was contacted by the group, which was making a swing through Iowa.

"The brochure has nothing in it regarding a religious message," said Jan Fletcher, Earlham High School principal. "I thought it was something like the Character Counts message about peer pressure, relationships, drug abuse and choices.

The postcard-size brochure is filled with Bible quotes and prayers, according to Nelson. A "Junkyard Prophet" CD handed out to random students bore the message that God "declared the death sentence on you due to your sins! The very evidence of your sin will be your death! It is appointed to you to die and after that you will be judged according to your ways! His judgment is so thorough every thought will be brought to the light. When all your sin against God is exposed, how will you escape the damnation of hell?"

More info and commentary from a student who was in one of the assemblies.

Plot To Bomb Clinic And Shoot Doctors Foiled

A plot to bomb an abortion clinic and shoot doctors was foiled when family members turned in the would be bomber. The bombers parents claim to be fervently anti-choice but turned their son in when they found out about his plans, feeling he took their cause "too far".

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iowa Baptist Minister Shoots Disabled Boy

Sometimes the headlines just write themselves.

The mentally disabled boy was staying at the child care center that shares the building with the pastor's home at the time of the shooting.

The pastor also had left the Des Moines police reserves in 2004 after being involved in an unrelated assault.

Young Life Ministry In The Public Schools

Here is part 2 of the Argus story on religious groups infiltrating the public schools.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mentoring Program Exposed For Being A Front For School Ministry

Young Life had been seen as a mentoring program and has been allowed to operate within the Sioux Falls schools.
The mentoring program is actually a school ministry program used to attempt to convert students to the groups view of Christianity. These programs are becoming more and more common in the public schools after some evangelical groups thought this was an exploitable audience a few years ago. Various groups, presenters and programs have varying levels of honesty in their true intentions. Some are up front that they are a religious group, others purposely downplay or do not disclose the intention of their involvement and purpose within the public school access they request.

Were not sure why Young Life is just now being questioned. Their website makes it painfully clear that they are an evangelical mission targeting the public schools (among other audiences).

No matter what the slant or religion of the group, parents have a right to know who is being given contact to their children at school. Religious based groups have no business infiltrating the public schools. If religious ministries want to work with kids there are so many honest opportunities to do so. Sioux Falls is full of churches with space that could be used for after school and weekend programs to help kids in an honest and up front manner so parents have a say in who and what is being preached to their kids.

With more and more groups not being forthright about their motives and message, schools may be left with no choice than to bar all outside groups or speakers from coming into the schools. We have heard more than a few of these incidents in the schools in eastern South Dakota. One middle school had a motivational speaker who was scheduled to show the kids his sports prowess and strength. The speaker began innocently and about half way through went into a tirade about religion for the last half of the assembly.

There have been other incidents like this. Truth 4 Youth, a front group associated with Abstinence Clearinghouse has had its school access questioned recently. Another group that has been involved with the public schools is the "Good News Club" while the intention of these clubs is to meet in neighborhood homes some have become after school programs operating in the public school facilities. While any group can rent space in the public schools. Some of these Good News clubs are also using the public schools to contact students by having the schools distribute literature to the students on their behalf and using school email systems to send messages to all the student body (not just the participants). These activities blur the line between renting space and the appearance of joint involvement between the public schools and these religious groups.

If you have had experiences with religious groups in your public schools feel free to let others know in the comments.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Abstinence Clearinghouse Takes A Beating For Lying About Reports

A recent blog post at Here's What's Left tears into a press release from Abstinence Clearinghouse, exposing where they misrepresented data in an attempt to turn a study damning their efforts into something more appealing to their cause.

HPV Vaccine Approved Despite Right Wing Protests

The FDA has approved Gardisil, the vaccine that can prevent 70% of the cases of cervical cancer and is 100% effective in preventing the HPV strains that is targets. The recommended time frame to administer the vaccine is between age 9 and 26, and before a person become sexually active.

Merck explains why early vaccination is important:
"Merck found that antibody response to their vaccine is stronger in 10 to 15 year-old males and females compared with 16 to 23 year-old females. Vaccinating the pre-teen ages of eleven or twelve might therefore be ideal. "

But many well known groups in the religious right do not want this vaccine available.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who said: "It sends the wrong message. Our concern is that this vaccine will be marketed to a segment of the population that should be getting a message about abstinence."

Leslie Unruh, of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse adds: "I personally object to vaccinating children against a disease that is 100% preventable with proper sexual behaviour."

Focus On The Family, initially opposed it and when it became clear that it was going to be approved and media coverage pointing out the true intention of the tactic they changed their stance:
"Initially, the national conservative group Focus on the Family, headed by Dr. James Dobson, had objected to the HPV vaccine, fearing that vaccinating young girls at the age of 10 would send the message that premarital sex was OK.
They have since modified their position, saying they support availability of the HPV vaccine but oppose making it mandatory that a child be vaccinated before they enter a public middle school."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

OK Senator Proclaims His Family "Gay Free"

This guy gets the ignorant bigot award for 2006. Senator James Inhofe showed a picture of his family and grandchildren and proclaimed that he was proud to say that "in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship."

It was also stated by his office that he will not hire openly gay people to staff his office. It appears that the District of Columbia has laws against sexual orientation discrimination in employment. So he may be in violation of the law if Congressional staffers are considered private employees of the DC area.

His comments are recorded for history. Maybe when they are replayed in 10 years the absolute bigotry of his words will be a painful look into how ignorant some people were in the past.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Same Sex Marriage Ban Dies In Senate

It didn't even make it to a full vote before it died in the Senate.

Orrin Hatch vows to bring it up again, and again. Just like a bratty child who can't take no for an answer. There is a possibility for the House to take this up in the near future. No predictions have been made on how it might fare in the House.

All we can say is that Congress need to get back to work on real issues.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Some More Constitutional Amendments

Chris Durang takes a "lets be fair" look at constitutional amendments.

Republicans Trash Marriage Amendment

Republican Senators are questioning the marriage amendment to be debated in Congress this week. Arlen Specter cited this quote from Barry Goldwater "government ought to be kept off our backs, out of our pocketbooks and out of our bedrooms."

and this quote:
If that were the case, Mr. Brownback said, then people would have to conclude that people in the states that have banned gay marriage, as well as the many religious leaders who backed them, were bigots.

Why yest, Mr. Brownback, that would be correct.

How South Dakota Conservatives Care For Babies

How South Dakota Conservatives Care For Babies.

Where are their priorities at when making a name for themselves is more important that the babies they claim to want to protect?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Church Refuses To Let Member Leave, Harrassing Non Members

A Dallas church is in court, defending itself against a number of charges. Then members, "John Doe" and his wife signed "restoration ministry" contracts as members of the congregation. These contracts allow the church and its members to intervene if they feel the members are straying.

John Doe's wife became aware of his affair and went to the church for advice. After the church attempted to intervene, John Doe left the church. But the church didn't stop there. Court papers revealed this: "But church elders told Mr. Doe that he couldn't leave and that they would continue their efforts to make his "sin" known – to the congregation, his friends outside the church, his employer, Ms. Roe's employer and possibly even the public at large."

This church decided to take this whole matter outside the congregation, and against someone who is no longer a member in an effort to publicly harrass the man in the public square.

But it gets worse. The woman involved with John Doe is now also being targeted by this church. The other woman has never been a member of this church at any point. The church contacted her directly and threatened to call the woman's boss and inform him of the affair if she didn't do so herself. This woman has no ties or connection to this church or its members.

Family Values

Haggard News has started a series of posts discussing Family in a real context.

What really makes a family? Years ago and even today in many cultures family means the extended family. Relatives and generations live together, many times all in the same house. Family was not always strictly defined as just a married couple and their direct offspring. That ideal actually was an industrial Victorian era ideal where the extended family was pushed out and kept at a distance so the man could rule over his family. It had less to do with benefit of the family and more to do with status and ego as someone of higher class or wealth didn't need the support of the extended family. Extended families became seen as the mode of the lower classes.

Extended families provide a larger structure of support. More people can contribute to the household's needs and finances. With life in the US becoming a harder struggle for people to make ends meet working together is not a bad idea.

The same goes for the varied flavors of family that now exist in the US. Blended families, multi-generational families, and many others. Frequently single parents will team up with other single parents to live in the same house, thus sharing the household burden and helping each other care for the kids.

What is important in any family is stability and caring. Helping everyone involved meet their needs and providing a positive, caring environment does more to create family than head counting to assure it meets the Victorian definition of family.

Family Research Council Attacks Divorce

The far right has taken yet another public step in attacking your personal freedom.

Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council came out today attacking no fault divorce.
He claimed that divorce hurts children and that those families should be forced to stay together rather than being allowed to take a no fault divorce.

So now according to them you should be forced to air all your dirty laundry and get someone else's approval to get divorced. This is where these people want to take the US. Personal responsibility is getting thrown out the window in favor of a nanny state. They want to decide everything for you, your access to knowledge, education, your sex life, your reproduction, your medical decisions and your personal relationships.

Isn't the Republican party supposed to be about small government?

Family Research Council Gets Spanked On National TV

Tony Perkins of the National Research Council received a national spanking on CNN this morning.
Miles O'Brien asked him during an interview about the upcoming Congressional debate about the marriage amendment, how same sex marriage actually hurts heterosexual marriage.

Mr. Perkins tried to avoid the question twice by not answering it. The third time he was asked the same question he clumsily attempted to blame Massachusetts. He said that because Massachusetts allowed same sex marriage, that school students were made aware of its existence in school. When O'Brien pushed him further as his answer was truely vague, Perkins cited a claim that marriage has declined in the Netherlands since same sex marriage was legalized. This claim is completely false.

So the leader of the group spearheading this push to ban same sex marriage could not come up with a single instance of same sex marriage having an impact on heterosexual marriage. This is their entire platform, that same sex marriage would attack heterosexual marriage and the leader of this group can't even support their case.

Here are some real facts:

Netherlands has a lower divorce rate than the US.
Marriage rates in Scandinavia INCREASED after same sex civil unions were legalized.
Heterosexual co-habitation rates and births outside of a marriage were high BEFORE same sex civil unions were legalized. These rates slowed down or stopped after civil unions were legalized.
The slow down in the rate of co-habitation or births outside of marriage happened at THE SAME RATE in both countries that have same sex civil unions and those that do not in Europe.

"Danish heterosexual marriage rates are now the highest they've been since the early 1970's. And the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are all higher than the rates for the years before the partner laws were passed. Furthermore, in the 1990s, divorce rates in Scandinavia remained basically unchanged."

The Log Cabin Republicans have also come out with a report shooting holes in all of the far rights arguments against same sex marriage.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Face Of South Dakota

Forward Sioux Falls launched a new campaign urging young people to take up professional careers in Sioux Falls rather than moving out of state. Sioux Falls is a city with a growing diversity, offerings and culture, friendly to young professionals and intellectuals.

Their effort is fighting a rather large elephant in the room. With so much noise made by the far right religious conservatives in the state its going to be all the harder to convince the best and the brightest to stick around. This will make it even harder to convince out of state young people that Sioux Falls is attractive. If people percieve that the area is unfriendly, intolerant or that the majority of the community are harsh fundamentalists who will harrass you they will look elsewhere.

The two things many of us remember as motivators cited by young professionals leaving the state were intolerance and lack of opportunity. You can create those opportunities but if people feel they will be on the outside of the community they will not come or they will leave. Those of us who live in Sioux Falls have high hopes for its future, so much good change is going on here. But, something really has to be done to retune the public mind on tolerance. Groups in the area put out efforts to help people understand the homeless and to try to combat racism. There needs to be more public discussion that religious tolerance is just as important to a community.
Its not just about allowing someone to practice their faith. Its about those of a faith understanding that sticking your nose into other people's lives uninvited to judge or harrass them is as unacceptable as doing so based on the color of someone's skin. This type of religious generated discrimination and harrassment comes in many flavors. Judging sexual orientation, personal beliefs, appearance, home life, even their occupation through the filter of your personal religious beliefs steps over the line. You may not personally approve of something, but acting on that is the act of intolerance.

All in all Sioux Falls is a decently tolerant community. The minority, noisy as they are damage the entire community by attempting to put a face on all of us as being like them. Until we as a community confront religious extremism and hatred in the public square, the entire community will suffer a step back in progress.

Churches Warned About Political Involvement

The Argus ran a detailed article about churches and non profits stepping over the line in their involvement in politics. IRS officials could stay busy in South Dakota following questionable activities of certain churches and organizations in the state over the next year.

Urging congregations to vote for certain people or allowing direct partisan political favoritism or involvement is a direct IRS violation. Even telling people to vote for "pro life" candidates could be stepping over the line in certain circumstances.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Religious Groups State Funded Prision Program Shut Down

A bible based prision program in Iowa that used state funds and provided special treatment for prisioners who agreed to participate in the program has been thrown out as unconstitutional.

From the article:

"This calls into question the funding for so many programs," said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the suit. "Anyone who doesn't stop it is putting a giant 'sue me' sign on top of their building."

Lynn's group accused Prison Fellowship Ministries of giving preferential treatment to inmates participating in the program. They were given special visitation rights, movie-watching privileges, access to computers and access to classes needed for early parole.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the perks "seemingly minor benefits" that constituted unfair treatment to those not in the religious program. Despite any claims of rehabilitating inmates, the program "impermissibly endorses religion," Pratt wrote.

Conservatives Question Gay Marriage Ban

More and more conservatives are coming out questioning the validity of a national marriage amendment that would ban same sex marriages and many forms of civil unions.

Some see it as just a bad discriminatory idea, others say there is no way it will ever pass.
Political strategists see it as nothing more than a move to pander to far right extremists and commented that the general public and even some of the far right will see through the facade.

Don't forget to email your Senators and tell them to vote this down and get back to work on real issues.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Abstinence On Showtime June 5th

Penn & Teller will be exploring the world of abstinence on their Showtime show June 5th.
Check it out.

Study Shows Virginity Pledgers Lie About Sexual History

This recent Reuters article cites a study showing that teens who took a virginity pledge frequently lied. They lied about previous sexual activity before taking a virginity pledge and many later denied they ever took such a pledge.

Representative Kathy Miles Lies To The Press

This showed up in the press recently:

"The 'morning after pill' will still be widely available in South Dakota under this Act for use by any woman and most importantly women who are the victims of rape or incest," said Representative Miles.

Ms. Miles that is a gross distortion to say the least. The "morning after pill" is not widely available in South Dakota. Pharmacies are not required to carry it, many activist pharmicists refuse to dispense it on religious grounds, hospitals are not required to inform patients of its availability and from reports around the state it is very hard to aquire.

If you want to claim it is widely available or even wanted to make sure that it was you had the opportunity as a representative to make sure women could access this drug.

The Official List Of The South Dakota Taliban

Here ya go. Want someone to blame for the mess in South Dakota? They have outed themselves.
These are the people who want to know what goes on in your bedroom, want to prevent you from getting contraceptives, and want to make sure you can't access abortion no matter what your situation. Many of the people on the list are members of the board of Alpha Center, others are card carrying members of some of the more fanatical religious based anti choice groups.
They are NOT a diverse cross section of South Dakota, they are the same group who seems to always be the ones involved in these type of efforts.

Meet The South Dakota Taliban:
Founding coalition members of South Dakotans for 1215:

Dwight Beukelman, Sioux Falls
Kayla Brandt, Sioux Falls
Eileen Burkholder, Rapid City
Allen Carlson, Rapid City
Robert Fischer, Rapid City
Cindy Flakoll, Forbes, ND (Concerned Women of America)
Representative Mary Glenski, Sioux Falls
Sharon Gray, Vermillion
Representative Brock Greenfield, Clark (South Dakota Right to Life)
Representative Phyllis Heineman, Sioux Falls
Representative Gordon Howie, Rapid City
Representative Roger Hunt, Brandon
Steve Jankord, Sioux Falls (South Dakota Family Policy Council)
Rory King, Aberdeen
Representative Elizabeth Kraus Munro, Rapid City
Wes Labrier, Union Center
Jim Miles, Sioux Falls
Representative Kathy Miles, Sioux Falls
Representative Al Novstrup, Aberdeen
Dr. Don Oliver, M.D., Rapid City
Sylvia Rhoden, Union Center
Dr. Glenn Ridder, M.D., Sioux Falls
Linda Schauer, Leola (Concerned Women of America)
Dr. John Stransky, M.D., Watertown
Dr. Allen Unruh, D.C., Sioux Falls
Representative Dr. Don Van Etten, M.D., Rapid City
Representative Keri Weems, Sioux Falls
Stacey Wollman, Rapid City

South Dakota Ranks Last In Rights

Thank our secretive state govt. and the morality police for this one.
South Dakota ranks LAST in a list of states civil rights.

But don't fret, there are many of us in South Dakota that do not long for a life controlled by
Big Brother.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Abortion Terms

The letter below appeared in the Argus today.
The author makes a valid point. Those who wish to uphold the rights of women to choose, knowing that there are circumstances where abortion is a needed option are not out pushing people to HAVE abortions.

People who support choice are not hanging out in front of the local OB/GYN harrasing pregnant women to have abortions, they are not bombing maternity wards at hospitals.


Stephen L. Rich

I am offended by the usage of the terminology and methodology of those who are opposed to abortion. While I have my own views about abortion, I understand that as long as Roe v. Wade stands, the law of the land allows a woman to choose.

Anti-abortion folk choose to call "pro-choice" proponents "pro-abortion." As I view it, they support abortion rights as an alternative to unwanted pregnancy. They do not hold rallies at maternity wings of hospitals and badger people to have abortions. They do not bomb maternity wings or other birthing facilities to get their point across.
"Pro-life" or "anti-abortion" advocates use bullying tactics and violence to express their opinion. If they are indeed pro-life, they would find the acts of violence contrary to their own beliefs.

An up or down vote in South Dakota will just be a waste of our taxpayer dollars. A law banning abortion at a state level will not pass the first level of a federal court challenge. While the groundswell of sentiments over this issue on both sides likely would not lead to violence in South Dakota, it would still serve to divide, define and separate our state in a negative way.