Religious right groups jump at chance to shield members from seeing books

Religious right groups jump at chance to shield members from seeing books August 10, 2012

Concerned Women for America and the American Family Association are both urging their followers to think twice about shopping at

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos upset the anti-gay activist groups by donating $2.5 million to protect marriage equality in Washington State.

“So long Amazon” was the message from “One Million Moms” (which David Badash, accurately, describes as “the low-cost fundraising and email-harvesting arm of the certified anti-gay hate group, American Family Association”). And CWA noted that its supporters may be “troubled” or “uneasy” about shopping at Amazon — urging them instead to shop through CWA’s own online store.

Neither of these groups expects to influence Amazon one way or another, but that’s not the point here. The point here is that the pretext of protesting Amazon’s support for LGBT rights gives them an excuse to urge their followers to avoid the site.

Because even if Jeff Bezos traded his company to Dan Cathy for a lifetime supply of chicken sandwiches, these groups still wouldn’t want their followers going to Amazon. It’s too much like a library. And you can’t control people who spend too much time in a library. You can’t keep them from asking questions, or satisfy them with only the official answers.

Amazon, in other words, is a threat to the subcultural bubble that these groups must maintain to survive.

* * * * * * * * *

Deanna Pan of Mother Jones wades through the textbooks produced by Bob Jones University Press and Pensacola’s A Beka Books to highlight “14 Wacky ‘Facts’ Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools.”

The fundamentalist Christian school I grew up in tried out the A Beka Books one year for science. I can honestly say that I read that book more thoroughly and attentively than any other textbook I’ve ever used.

What happened was, once we students realized that book was riddled with errors, it became a contest to see who could find even more. The contest went on for quite some time, but if I remember correctly the book did include several error-free pages.

The A Beka Book textbook turned out to be a one-year experiment for our school. Neither the textbook, nor the teacher who had championed it, were invited back the following term.

* * * * * * * * *

Speaking of fundamentalist Christian schools … Jesse Curtis reads Joseph Crespino on the rise of the religious right. The latter JC backs up Randall Balmer’s claim that the movement began in the fight for tax-exempt status for the thousands of newly formed private Christian schools that sprang up following Brown v. Board of Education.

The right to create segregated religious schools and to have those schools be tax exempt, they argued, was a fundamental issue of “religious liberty.”

Because it’s never about bigotry. It’s always about “religious liberty.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Punning Pundit muses on the Flustercluck of 2012, and echoes the wisdom of Gamaliel:

If anti-gay bigotry is on the right side of history — if it truly does lead to an increase in the welfare of humanity — then free speech will hasten the day we live in a better world. And if anti-gay bigotry is (as seems obvious) odious and awful, then the ability of bigots to spout off unmolested will bring a swifter end to the terrors they would have unleashed.

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  • PJ Evans

     And before the late 19th century (and even after that) people spelled by ear.

  •  Well, ever since them evil mathematicians started saying that the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle is the unholy and undoubtedly Satanic 3.14159[…] instead of the God-prescribed value of 3 (see 1 Kings 7:23), well…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The pronunciation is highly dependent on which continent you live on. And I, for one, don’t want my spelling changed to match the way people in America pronounce the words I use.

    Word. If there was any sort of international standard English forced on us all, of course it would end up being the American preference. Bugger that.

  • banancat


    1) It’ll make it much harder for us to read things written before the
    official spelling changed. Which encompasses several hundred years of

    So we’ll treat those books like they’re in another language and translate them.  English will change and we will face this problem eventually.  We already face it with books written in Latin.  We already face it with books written in English from centuries ago, or even decades ago to some extent.  I don’t like the prescriptivist argument that we need to keep everything the same so we can read everything that is written right now forever.  Our language will change.  My hope is that it changes in a way to make it easier and more intuitive for people to use.

  • Tricksterson

    “Our language will change”

    ITA with u.  ;D

  • Different kids need different approaches.  I learned by sight really easily, and read several grades above my grade level. 

    Phonics bored the everloving heck out of me because, geez, yes, the “ph” in “elephant” sounds like an “f.” Then I would mentally headdesk and wish I was somewhere else.

    My ex, on the other hand, needed phonics to learn to read.  He would probably have been illiterate if he’d had to figure out what words were which without being able to sound them out.

  • So, which would you prefer?

    1) The world institutes an Official New Spelling Of English, and I have to change from spelling words in a way that bears little relation to my speech to spelling words in a whole new way that bears little relation to my speech – because, of course, we simply must base the new spelling on American pronunciation.

    2) The world institutes several Official New Spellings of English, and I suddenly have to treat old spelling like it’s in another language, modern American spelling like it’s in a second language, modern British spelling like it’s in a third language, modern South African spelling like it’s in a fourth language… The only spelling that will bear any resemblance to the way I actually pronounce words will be in the local paper – which I hardly ever read.

  •  So, um. Am I the only person who thinks that english spelling isn’t actually all that hard? Whenever I see someone’s attempt to reformulate spellings to be “more phonetic”, the words  don’t look like what they sound like, but more like how a small child would mis-pronounce a word.

    (Also, please someone distract me, because my mother-in-law, who is technically liberal, is pontificating on how the only reason america lost its manufacturing jobs is because of “unions getting greedy”)

  • My mother was headmaster at a (very) small private school (4 teachers for the grades 7-12). The new teacher for History and French for the next year gave her samples of the A Beka books she wanted to use. Mom said ‘not no, but hell no’ to the History books after flipping through one, but thought ‘how can you screw up basic French?” She discovered using Bible passage translations as the primary means to teach a language was probably one way to do it.

  • It’s not the reverse.  If Amazon was donating money to end all marriages then yes it would be a similar situation.  Amazon is donating money to help a minority group have greater access to secular rights.  They are not trying to take away anyone’s rights.  If their donations work you will have the same rights you do now.  Chick-fil-A wants a minority group’s ability to access legal rights to be impeded.  If they get their way your life will continue on in the same way but millions of people will have fewer rights.  Like the right for children to see their dying parent’s in hospitals.  People’s lives will be ruined.  Not the same thing.

    That said the argument about who should define marriage is interesting.  Looking back historically marriage has mostly been secular in nature.  Many people enter into  marriages for secular reasons and there isn’t a single church trying to take away their rights.  People can get married without including any religion at all.  Even religious people have marriages that seemingly ignore religious beliefs all the time.  The rights that come with marriage that are from government bodies are too important for too many people to ignore so arguing for government stepping out of the marriage discussion completely isn’t possible.

    More than that there are churches that believe in marriage equality.  In Canada, where I am, the biggest push for changing the definition of marriage came from churches trying to marry people.  Before the change essentially some religions got to dictate to other churches.  The government changing the definition was actually respecting religious freedom.