QUOTATIONS ON DIVORCE
1999 SURVEY RESULTS
Baptists are more likely than members of any other Christian denomination to be divorced. according to a national survey by the Barna Research Group. Nationally, 29 percent of all Baptist adults have been divorced, the Barna survey said. The only Christian group with a higher divorce rate are those who attend non-denominational Protestant churches, with a 34 percent divorce rate.
Mormons, who emphasize strong families, are near the national average at 24 percent, Barna reported.
Among those who describe themselves as born-again Christians, 27 percent are currently or have previously been divorced, compared to 24 percent among adults who do not describe themselves as born-again.
"While it may be alarming to discover that born-again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time," said George Barna, president of Barna Research Group.Alabama, which has more than one million Southern Baptists and a majority of evangelical Protestants in a population of 4.3 million, ranks fourth nationally in divorce rates, according to U.S. government statistics. It ranks behind Nevada, Tennessee and Arkansas among top divorce rates.
The Rev. Stacy Pickering, minister of young married adults and director of counseling at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, said the statistics are skewed because Baptist churches encourage young people to get married--sometimes when they're not properly prepared--rather than have pre-marital sex or co-habitate.
Greg Garrison, News staff writer, The Birmingham News, 12/30/1999
BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS JUST AS LIKELY TO DIVORCE AS ARE NON-CHRISTIANS
September 8, 2004
Although many Christian churches attempt to dissuade congregants from getting a divorce, the research confirmed an earlier finding by Barna a decade ago (further confirmed through tracking studies conducted each year since): born again Christians have the same likelihood of divorce as do non-Christians. Among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are not born again: 35%.
"Born again Christians" were defined in the survey as people who said they have made "a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today" and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Being classified as "born again" was not dependent upon church or denominational affiliation or involvement. [Those who were not "born again" probably included nominal Christians, Christians unsure of their beliefs, guilt-ridden, backslidden Christians, believers in heterodox forms of Christianity who might not describe their beliefs as Barna did, as well as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, Wiccans, agnostics and atheists. In other words, the "hell-bound." Yet their divorce rates equaled those of the "Born Agains."--E.T.B.]
The survey showed that the percentages of those who were divorced varied somewhat according to denominational religious affiliations (or lack thereof): Catholics (25%), atheists and agnostics (37%), Protestants (39%). Further subdividing the Protestants into their respective major denominations revealed that Presbyterians had the fewest divorces (28%), and Pentecostals had the most (44%).
George Barna noted that one reason why the divorce statistic among non-Born again adults is not higher is that a larger proportion of that group cohabits, effectively side-stepping marriage--and divorce--altogether. "If the non-born again population were to marry at the same rate as the born again group, it is likely that their divorce statistic would be roughly 38%--marginally higher (<3%) than that among the born again group, but still surprisingly similar in magnitude."
Barna also noted, "The data suggest that relatively few divorced Christians experienced their divorce before accepting Christ as their savior." [Does that mean most Christians experienced their divorce after accepting Christ as their savior?--E.T.B.] Research also indicated that a surprising number of Christians experienced divorces both before and after their conversion. Multiple divorces are also unexpectedly common among born again Christians. Barna's figures show that nearly one-quarter of the married born agains (23%) get divorced two or more times.
MORE 2004 SURVEY RESULTS
"BIBLE BELT" HAS NATION'S HIGHEST DIVORCE RATE
The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1. But don't take the U.S. government's word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group.George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states.
More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates.
The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated, "The divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people." The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
How to explain these differences? The following factors provide a partial answer:
More couples in the South enter their first marriage at a younger age.
Average household incomes are lower in the South.
Southern states have a lower percentage of Roman Catholics, "a denomination that does not recognize divorce." Barna's study showed that 21 percent of Catholics had been divorced, compared with 29 percent of Baptists.
Education. Massachusetts has about the highest rate of education in the country, with 85 percent completing high school. For Texas the rate is 76 percent. One third of Massachusetts' residents have completed college, compared with 23 percent of Texans, and the other Northeast states are right behind Massachusetts. The liberals from Massachusetts have long prided themselves on their emphasis on education, and it has paid off: People who stay in school longer get married at a later age, when they are more mature, are more likely to secure a better job, and job income increases with each level of formal education. As a result, Massachusetts also leads in per capita and family income while births by teenagers, as a percent of total births, was 7.4 for Massachusetts and 16.1 for Texas. The Northeast corridor, with Massachusetts as the hub, does have one of the highest levels of Catholics per state total. And it is also the case that these are among the states most strongly supportive of the Catholic Church's teaching on social justice issues such as minimum and living wages and universal healthcare.
William V. D'Antonio [Professor emeritus at University of Connecticut and a visiting research professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.], "Walking the Walk on Family Values," The Boston Globe, October 31, 2004
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company
One of the interesting features of the current efforts by the Christian Right to attack gay marriage is that their rhetoric about saving families doesn't match their actions. Why not, for example, invest similar attention to something like divorce or spousal abuse? These affect far more people and marriages than gay marriage ever could.
--Austin Cline, "Pharisees Gathering Stones"
Half of heterosexual marriages in our society end in divorce. We heterosexuals are doing a lousy job of "defending" marriage. Adultery is a big part of the reason. So if we're going to rewrite our Constitution to "protect" marriage from sin because it is the "God-ordained bedrock of society," then I would think that adultery would be a much better target. The Florida Constitution should be amended to say that there can be no marriage licenses for anyone who has ever had sex outside marriage.
--Howard Troxler, columnist, St. PetersburgTimes, November 14, 2004
QUOTATIONS ON ABORTION
A study published by an affiliate of Planned Parenthood says almost a quarter-million abortions are performed each year in the U.S. on women who identify themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. Approximately 1.37 million abortions are performed in the United States each year. According to a startling and little publicized survey by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 37.4% of those abortions are performed on Protestant women--approximately one-half (about 18%) of whom profess to be born-again believers. That 18% of the estimated annual total accounts for 246,600 aborted babies each year in America.
--"Study Shows High Percentage of Abortions Performed on Evangelicals; Pro-Lifers Picket Calvary Chapel's Headquarters in California" by James L. Lambert and Fred Jackson July 11, 2001 (Agape Press)
The Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of the "700 Club" religious TV show and Christian news program, and a leader of the national anti-abortion movement, said leaders in China who are forcing women to have abortions are "doing what they have to do." In an interview Monday night on CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports," Robertson said the United States should not interfere with China's policy. "Well, you know, I don't agree with it, but at the same time, they've got 1.2 billion people and they don't know what to do," said Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition. "If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable." "So I think that right now they're doing what they have to do. I don't agree with the forced abortion, but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard."
--Associated Press, 2001
NUMBER OF ABORTIONS GROWS DURING RELIGIOUSLY CONSERVATIVE PRESIDENT'S FIRST TERM
Based on data from the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Guttmacher Institute, and reporting by individual states, U.S. abortion rates had declined 17.4% in the 1990s to a 24-year low by the time President Bush first took office. Many expected that downward trend to continue under the conservative president, but instead, 52,000 more abortions occurred in 2002 than would have been expected under the pre-2000 conditions, and abortion has risen significantly in those states reporting multi-year abortion statistics.
Dr. Glen Harold Stassen argues that there are three contributing factors:
First, two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Web site). In the past three years, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.
Second, half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). Men who are jobless usually do not marry. Only three of the 16 states had more marriages in 2002 than in 2001, and in those states abortion rates decreased. In the 16 states overall, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.
Third, women worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency--with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million--abortion increases. He also says that this should not be unexpected: The U.S. Catholic Bishops warned of this likely outcome if support for families with children was cut back.
We can also look abroad for confirmation of this: nations that provide easy access to abortion have far lower abortion rates than those that criminalize abortion. Are the lower rates due to the fact that abortion is legal? Although that might play some role, it's surely not a coincidence that the nations that provide easy access to abortion services also provide easy access to a wide range of social and medical services. They have larger and more comprehensive social safety nets than the nations where abortion is criminalized.
Yuba Net, and also, atheism.about.com
ABORTION AND THE UNITED NATIONS
Despite the misinformation campaign led by the far right, who claim that the United Nations Population Fund supports forced abortions, the truth is that by denying family planning services to those who need them, we are setting in motion 800,000 more abortions than would normally occur. In Hungary, the introduction of modern contraception led to a 60% reduction in abortions. Similar results can be seen in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
--The Population Institute, "What Can Make the World More Secure?" [Pamphlet]
A COUNTRY WITH SOME OF THE HARSHEST ANTI-ABORTION LAWS IN THE WORLD
Nepal's prohibition of abortion was one of the harshest in the world: it did not allow exceptions even in cases of rape, incest, and
life-threatening situations, and simply classified abortion as infanticide. As a result of that law, hundreds of women served prison terms. Two-thirds of all women in prison were there for "garbaphat," the Nepalese term for abortion and infanticide. In addition to those in Nepalese prisons for abortion, thousands more suffered, and often died, after resorting to extremely dangerous back-street methods. It had been estimated that six women died every day in Nepal due to poorly administrated abortions. Finally, in 2002, King Gyanendra of Nepal signed into law a bill that legalized abortion in addition to bringing about sweeping changes in many other discriminatory laws.
NATURE THE ABORTIONIST, PART 1
Many conceptions do not mature properly and are naturally aborted. And a fairly high percentage (20-30% or more?) of people born as single individuals used to be twins in the womb but one of them was reabsorbed into the womb or into the other twin.
Even the pro-lifer, Dr. John Collins Harvey, admits, "Products of conception [often] die at either the zygote, morula, or blastocyst stage. They never reach the implant stage but are discharged in the menstrual flow of the next period. It is estimated that [this]occurs in more than 50 percent of conceptions. In such occurrences, a woman may never even know that she has been pregnant."
(Regardless of whether you believe that Jesus "loves all the little zygotes in the world," apparently that love does not include giving them all a whole and healthy start in life.--E.T.B.)
--"Distinctly Human," Commonweal, Feb. 8, 2002
NATURE THE ABORTIONIST, PART 2
There are dangers to the lives of women during childbirth, which only a hundred and fifty years ago claimed the lives of both woman and child far more frequently than childbirth does today. Of those children who are born, some suffer birth defects, a few of which are invariably fatal.
There are also dangers posed by childhood diseases. Two hundred years ago the French naturalist, Buffon, lamented, "Half the children born never reach the age of eight." They died of diseases like smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, the flu, pneumonia, cholera, tuberculosis, meningitis, chicken pox, tetanus and staphylococcus infections. In fact a high percentage of the young of all animals and plants die from bacterial or viral infections. In the end, nothing is as disrespectful of higher life forms as the tiny microbes that hungrily devour the children of all species.
Unfortunately, picketing Mother Nature solves nothing. Neither do Christians dare blame "God" for having created "nature" this way.
HOW PRO-LIFE IS THE BIBLE? PART 1
According to the Bible, God is ready, willing and able to abort fetuses:
Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
- Psalm 21:10
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born...let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
- Psalm 58:3,8
As for Israel, their glory shall fly away like a bird, and from the womb, and from the conception...Give them, O Lord: what will Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts...they shall bear no fruit...
- Hosea 9:11-16
Notice that the prophet Hosea is pleading with his God to punish the Israelites by murdering their unborn babies. The Bible never really provides a logical rationale as to why fetuses, babies, and children must be punished for the sins of their parents and others. Some would suggest that for God to kill unborn babies for their parent's sins is somewhat misdirected retribution.
--Gene Kasmar, WHY.The Brooklyn Center High School Bible Challenge. Part 1: The Evidence
HOW PRO-LIFE IS THE BIBLE? PART 2
Every living thing on the earth was drowned [by the Hebrew LORD--which included pregnant women and babies]...Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
- Genesis 7:23
Thus saith the LORD...Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
- 1 Samuel 15:3
Joshua destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD commanded.
- Joshua 10:40
The LORD delivered them before us; and we destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones.
- Deuteronomy 2:33-34
Kill every male among the little ones.
- Numbers 31:17
The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and...Samaria shall become desolate...they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
- Hosea 13:15-16
With thee will I [the LORD] break in pieces the young man and the maid.
- Jeremiah 51:22
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
- Psalm 137:9
According to the Bible, God gave orders to kill children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. The pestilences were sent by God. The frightful famine, during which the dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of his dead mother, was sent by God. God drowned an entire world with the exception of eight persons. Imagine how such acts would have stained the reputation of the devil!
--Robert G. Ingersoll
HOW PRO-LIFE IS THE BIBLE? PART 3
According to the God of the Bible it was more important to stone a woman to death if she should "entice you to follow after other gods," than it was to rescue the life of any fetus she might have been carrying.
It was more important to stone a woman to death the day after her wedding night "if she was discovered not to have been a virgin," than it was to wait and see if she might have conceived new life that night.
It was more important to stone a woman to death for "adultery," than to wait and see if she might be pregnant.
It was more important to stone a woman to death for "failing to cry out while being raped within earshot of the city," than it was to spare the life she might have conceived during that ordeal, during which the rapist may have held a knife to her throat, or strangled her into silence and submission.
And what about the test of "bitter water" mentioned in chapter five of the book of Numbers? The test consisted of mixing dust from the floor of the Hebrew tabernacle with "holy water" to make a concoction that a woman drank to test whether or not she had committed adultery. If she had, it says, "her belly will swell and her thigh will rot." Scholars have pointed out that "thigh" is a euphemism for sexual organs. So if the woman had committed adultery and had conceived as a result, then the "bitter water" would induce an abortion ("her thigh would rot"). (I wonder if this means that Bible-believing women who are accused of having affairs ought to swallow some dirt from the floor of their church mixed with "holy water?" Or better yet, swallow an abortion pill like RU-486 in front of the whole congregation?)
And what about children who "curse their parents?" The Bible says, "Kill them!" (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Mat. 15:4; Mark 7:10) The Bible does not say how old the child has to be, but it does emphatically state they must "surely be put to death" should they "curse their parents."
Ah, the good old days, when God fearing people had higher priorities than "saving fetal lives." They were too busy stoning whomever enticed them to worship other gods, stoning adulteresses, stoning women who weren't virgins on their wedding night, stoning women who "failed to cry out" during rape, and stoning sassy children. In other words they were too busy with all of those higher priorities to worry about "the fate of fetuses."
HOW PRO-LIFE IS THE BIBLE? PART 4
Abortion as such is not discussed in the Bible, so any explanation of why it is not legislated or commented on is speculative.
A key text for examining ancient Israelite attitudes [toward the fetus] is Exodus 21:22-25: "When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman's husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." Several observations can be made about this passage.
The Hebrew text at v. 22 literally reads "and there is no harm," implying that contrary to current sensibilities, the miscarriage itself was not considered serious injury. The monetary judgment given to the woman's husband indicates that the woman's experience of the miscarriage is not of significance, and that the damage is considered one to property rather than to human life. This latter observation is further supported by the contrast with the penalties for harm to the woman herself.
--Drorah O'Donnell Setel, "Abortion," The Oxford Guide to Ideas and Issues of the Bible, ed. by Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (Oxford University Press, 2001)
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SOULS OF FETUSES THAT DIE?
THEOLOGICAL OPTION #1
THE SOULS OF ALL DEAD FETUSES GO TO HEAVEN
This first option is the most optimistic, loving, and forgiving, but seems to turn abortions into "altar calls" with 100% assurance of eternal salvation for each and every aborted fetus.
But what do YOU believe?
THEOLOGICAL OPTION #2
THE SOULS OF DEAD FETUSES GO TO WHEREVER GOD ORDAINS THEM TO GO, EITHER HEAVEN OR HELL
According to various Bible verses, God "ordains" all things, including the premature deaths (including executions) of fetuses, pregnant women, and children. In other words, each soul in this world "gets" what God has "ordained" for it, regardless if they are aborted in the womb, or reach old age.
But what do YOU believe?
THEOLOGICAL OPTION #3
THE SOULS OF ALL FETUSES THAT ARE NOT BAPTIZED BEFORE THEY DIE, GO TO HELL
Theologians from Augustine to Jonathan Edwards considered it right for God to send fetuses that were not baptized before they died, to hell. Their doctrine was called "infant damnation" and it was taught by Christian churches for centuries. So, all fetuses that are not baptized before they die, go to hell.
But what do YOU believe?
THEOLOGICAL OPTION #4
THE SOULS OF ALL FETUSES THAT ARE BAPTIZED BEFORE THEY DIE, GO TO HEAVEN
Baptism spiritually cleanses the fetus' "original sin," ensuring that it goes straight to heaven should it die. Therefore, Catholics devised a plan hundreds of years ago, to even baptize fetuses by inserting a syringe filled with water into the womb in cases where the life of a fetus and/or the mother was at risk. The option of syringe baptism continued to be taught to Catholic seminarians right up till Vatican II in the 1960s.
Attempting to counteract such Catholic excesses, as he viewed them, the Protestant Christian, John Calvin, forbade mid-wives (or anyone else for that matter) from hastily baptizing sickly newborn infants, because Calvin believed in waiting a few days until a proper baptism ceremony in church could be conducted. According to Calvin, it was God's choice, not man's effort, that determined who would wind up in heaven or hell, and if the fetus or newborn didn't survive long enough to have a proper baptism ceremony, it was God's will that it die prematurely and/or suffer in hell for eternity.
Which of the four cases above do YOU believe is true?
SPEAKING OF SOULS, WHEN DOES "SOUL-LIFE" BEGIN?
If the life of a person's eternal soul begins at conception yet you freeze a human egg right after it is fertilized then is that a "soul on ice?" This is not a merely theoretical question, because it happens all the time in fertilization clinics. They mix human sperm and eggs in test tubes, and store the fertilized zygotes in a freezer sometimes for years before they are implanted in a woman's uterus. But if "souls" can be kept on ice indefinitely, then maybe "soul-life" does not begin at conception? The prominent Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, argued that "soul-life" began several months after conception.
TWO RADICALLY DIFFERENT VIEWS ON HOW TO OBTAIN "HEAVENLY REWARDS"
"I expect to get a great reward in heaven. I am looking forward to glory."
- Paul Hill, who murdered an abortion doctor and his escort, Washington Post, 2003
Pro-lifer (Outside an Abortion Clinic): What if your mother had decided not to have you?
Clinic Defender: I'd be in clover, I'd be in heaven experiencing ecstasy that I never earned or deserved.
- John E. Seery, Los Angeles Times
IMPROVING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN BORN
The death rate of children under the age of 15 has fallen by 95 percent since 1900 in the United States. The child death rates in just the past 20 years have incredibly been halved in India, Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, Israel, and scores of other nations. Almost all of the major killer diseases before 1900--tuberculosis, typhoid, smallpox, whooping cough, to name a few--have been all but eradicated.
- Stephen Moore and Julian Simon, It's Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years
Much more still needs to be done for the world's children, to feed and fully nourish them in the womb and soon after birth, because deficiencies in salt, minerals, vitamins and protein are still crippling children both physically and mentally throughout the world (sometimes killing them as well), yet in most cases it takes only pennies a day to provide what is lacking for each child. Meanwhile in the wealthiest countries like America we think nothing of spending ten thousand dollars or more at a fertilization clinic just to try and conceive a child, or spend a million dollars or more in hospital fees to sustain the life of a single child (one that has been born prematurely). Such extravagances in the wealthier parts of the world must make those in the poorer parts of the world look askance.
One might also consider contrasting the "needs of the unborn" with those children who are already born throughout the world and who require medicine, education, and a chance to rise out of poverty. Bringing too many children into a city or country that cannot support them is not going to improve matters in that country but increase suffering and strife. Poverty and insufficient nutrition lead to a rise in the rate of spontaneous abortions, back-street abortions and therapeutic abortions, as well as an increase in the mortality rate of children already born.