Evangelical men need to stop lying about women’s health

Evangelical men need to stop lying about women’s health January 22, 2013

This is the website for Refuge, a UK agency “For women and children, Against domestic violence.”

Refuge runs a national helpline for women being beaten by men. They also provide shelters, psychological support for victims, legal advocacy and legal services. These are Good Things.

To attack groups like Refuge, spreading lies about them, is to take the side of abusers and wife-beaters and thugs. This is a Bad Thing. Don’t do this.

Refuge also produces PSAs — advertisements urging the victims of domestic violence to seek help and to avail themselves of the assistance Refuge and other groups can provide.

This is a trigger warning regarding domestic violence for the following link and embedded video.

This is a powerful PSA produced by Refuge.

That video is heartbreaking and stomach-churningly true-to-life. It is a potent, persuasive message to the victims of domestic violence, and it is unambiguously and forcefully opposed to such violence.

This is a trigger warning for the following links regarding hypocrisy, deliberate dishonesty and contempt for women.

This is a LifeNews article lying about that video, about Refuge, and about Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood, like Refuge in the UK, is a vital resource for women who are victims of domestic violence. Planned Parenthood, like Refuge, is unambiguously opposed to domestic violence. And so Planned Parenthood shared the above video from the Refuge, endorsing its message to women suffering such abuse: Don’t cover up, get help.

By attacking Planned Parenthood and Refuge, LifeNews is siding with abusers against the victims of domestic violence. This is a Bad Thing.

This is the Liar Tony Perkins repeating LifeNews’ lie, and embellishing it further to claim that Planned Parenthood and Refuge are promoting domestic violence:

Hello, I’m Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. The abortion industry can cover anything up and their latest video proves it. In the footage, Planned Parenthood coaches girls on looking good after they’ve been physically abused. “I’ve had a bit of a rough time,” says a girl with bruises, “but I’m going to be doing a talk today on how to cover-up.”

This is a deliberate lie. This is a deliberate lie that white evangelicals are eager to believe because it allows them to pretend that Planned Parenthood is utterly wicked and therefore that they, by opposing Planned Parenthood, are utterly righteous.

This is a Bad Thing. This is the sin of pride. This is the sin of bearing false witness. This is the sin of siding with abusers against their victims. Don’t do this.

This is another lie that white evangelicals are telling about Planned Parenthood. This one comes from the right-wing website The Christian Post, which provides this dishonest headline: “Planned Parenthood Received $1,622 in Gov’t Funds for Each Abortion.” This is not true.

Planned Parenthood is a vital and irreplaceable provider of women’s health care in the United States. It provides basic health screening and medical services for millions of American women who otherwise could not afford access to such care. In support of this work, Planned Parenthood received $542.4 million in federal funding in 2012.

None of that funding went toward abortion services. The Christian Post knows this, but suggested otherwise anyway. Federal funding is prohibited by law from going toward abortion services. The Christian Post knows this, but suggested otherwise anyway.

This is called lying. This is the sin of bearing false witness. This is a Bad Thing. Don’t do this.

Lest you think that this is “only” the Christian Post, which is a bit of a fringe site and a disreputable corner of the Internet, consider this: This is Ed Stetzer promoting the Christian Post’s lie about Planned Parenthood.

Stetzer is not a fringe character, but a prominent voice in Southern Baptist and white evangelical circles. He’s also a numbers guy who is usually very good at noticing and speaking up when someone is playing dishonest games with numbers.

But not when it comes to Planned Parenthood.

Stetzer knows that repeating the claim “Planned Parenthood Received $1,622 in Gov’t Funds for Each Abortion” makes about as much sense as claiming that “Planned Parenthood received $2.6 million in government funds for every 2012 plate appearance by Wilson Valdez.”

Or saying that Planned Parenthood received $410 in government funds for every copy of Justin Bieber’s Believe sold in 2012.

Or saying that Planned Parenthood received about $12,000 in government funds for every Southern Baptist congregation in the U.S.

Stetzer’s usual standards of honesty and accuracy would not allow him to promote such numerical nonsense about any other subject. But like most white evangelicals, he sets standards of honesty and accuracy aside when it comes to Planned Parenthood.

This is a Bad Thing. Don’t do this.

The Southern Baptists’ interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34 has done men like Ed Stetzer a disservice. “Women should be silent in the churches,” that verse says, “for they are not permitted to speak.” If women in Southern Baptist and other white evangelical churches were not compelled to keep silent, then men like Stetzer might have a better idea of the vital role that Planned Parenthood has played in the health and health care of women in their congregations.

Millions of poor and working-class American women rely on Planned Parenthood for essential health services. Millions of women in Southern Baptist and other white evangelical congregations are poor and working-class.

Millions of those women are the same women.

White evangelical men do not realize this because women are told to be silent in the churches. And because women in their churches have been listening to the enthusiastic and gleeful lies about Planned Parenthood that the men in their churches tell and embellish and re-tell, and they know that the truth as they know it to be true is not welcome in such congregations. Their congregations are not safe places for this truth.

This is a Bad Thing.

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  • everstar

    Yeah, I’m working with a therapist.  I was just trying to share what scares me about dealing with my anger, hoping that Hexep might be able to identify a little.

    Hee, I like your therapist’s response.  I usually describe my feeling of “I don’t know what to do with it” as “It’s like I’ve been handed a bowl and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with the bowl.”

    …And it just occurred to me that that’s probably a way of me distracting myself with being irritated and perplexed instead of focusing on the emotion.  God, I’m tricky.

  • Hexep

    I have never had an opportunity to visit a therapist, but it sounds really, really frustrating. Even in movies, it always looks more annoying than helpful, but movies always tilt everything.

  • Hexep

    I feel that you are trying more deeply than most to connect with me and help me out here – and ‘helping out’ is something I usually regard with great suspicion – and that’s why I’m hesitant to reply, because I don’t want to give my answer.

    What I would unfortunately find myself saying, is that I don’t think that goes deep enough.

    What does it mean, to ‘bring it out?’

    Do I tell my co-workers, ‘hey, guys, I’m having a hard time processing my residual anger and feelings of self-loathing over the abuse I received from my late father?’ Because that’ll cost me my job.

    Do I talk to my friends and acquaintances about it? I do, sometimes, to an extent; don’t think I live entirely as a hermit. But I’m friends with these people because I like being around them, and they like being around me; if hanging out with Hexep meant listening to him moaning, then they’d rightly drift away.

    Do I go to the subway station and start shouting? (God, I would love to do that.) Here comes JC with his magic nightstick…

    I have read ‘let it out, don’t leave it in’ in dozens of places, but I have no idea what, in practice, that actually means. Here I am, feeling anger, resentment, powerless, self-loathing, mediocre, and, worst of all perhaps, intensely and stubbornly proud. What now?

  •  In my case, it was extremely frustrating for a long time. The only thing more frustrating was the period before starting work with a therapist, when I was dealing with all the same stuff but without help.

  • Yeah, I liked it too.  I tell that story a lot.

  • Do I talk to my friends and acquaintances about it? I do, sometimes, to an extent; don’t think I live entirely as a hermit. But I’m friends with these people because I like being around them, and they like being around me; if hanging out with Hexep meant listening to him moaning, then they’d rightly drift away.

    Being friends means listening to each other moan sometimes.  So long as you don’t become one of those types who tries to turn *every* conversation into It’s All About Me, or who pours their heart out but then says, “I have things to do” when it’s your friends’ turn to do the heart-pouring, they’ll probably understand.

  • A fine question.

    For me, it meant finding someone I trust enough to believe that I can talk to them about whatever I’m going through without worrying that they’ll walk away from me if I do.

  • Hexep

    Eagghh, trust and trust and trust. Who are you, that you find so many moral people on this Earth, and who am I that I find so few?

  • syfr

    Even keeping a journal (written or typed) can be helpful in finguring stuff out.

  • MaryKaye

    I’d really recommend writing.  It probably saved my life during college when I didn’t have anyone close enough to talk to. 

    I am a sub, and I struggle with the fact that the scenarios I like sexually would be reprehensible in real life.  (They are not so much “Take me despite my No” but “Change my No into a Yes” which is not a whole lot better.)  It feels less than harmonious to have my passions and my morals conflict that way.  On the other hand, I have literally had these kinks since I was 5.  I think my chance of shifting them’s about the same as my chance of shifting my sexual orientation, or maybe a bit worse.  So I express them in safe space, and keep an eye out to make sure non-consent isn’t creeping into my real-world behavior.

    The other thing I’d recommend is reading.  Hexep, the situation you described reminds me very much of the protagonist of Sarah Monette’s tetralogy starting with _Melusine_.  I hesitate to recommend these.  They are very harsh, very upsetting.  The protagonist does terrible things.  But I think the author does play fair, emotionally speaking.  There are probably better pieces of fiction for looking at this–I think fiction or biography rather than nonfiction, because frankly, nonfiction is too distant.  It’s someone saying what they think ought to be.  Someone else might have better book recommendations.

  • Yeah, I wonder that myself sometimes. The community I’ve half-built, half-stumbled into, is the great blessing of my life and a day doesn’t pass when I’m not grateful for it.

    That said, the difference between one and none is sometimes all that matters.

  • everstar

    Unfortunately, finding a lot of moral people usually requires the patience to wade through even more immoral ones and the luck of recognizing them when you do find them.  I gave up on it myself but I’m trying to work up the nerve to start again.  It’s either sort patiently through the dross or be alone and being alone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    As to your other question about “to whom do I talk,” I might try asking your friends if they’d be willing to listen.  You don’t have to jump right to abuse and self-loathing; you could start with something like “sometimes I feel so angry and I don’t know what to do about it.”  Even if they don’t know what to say, they might have ideas about who you can talk to.  Either way, I feel the important thing is to say something.  “Bring it out” doesn’t necessarily mean “all at once.”  It can be something small.  That was all I had the energy for at first.

    I wanted to reach out to you mostly because you sound very desperate to me and I’ve been desperate too.  But I’ve been very lucky with the help I’ve received so I want to pass that along.  That’s all.

    Take care!

  • nakedanthropologist

    Hey, it’s okay. And you should know that here in the states that it’s acknowledged that the submissive partner is the one with actual power in an S&M scene – because its the sub (and not the Dom) who gets to control the pace and what is going to be done to them by the Dom. Furthermore, it’s also been acknowledged that a lot of subs have gone through life having to have a lot of control, and so being able to let go of that and not having to worry about maintaining control over themselves or their circumstances is why it’s such a turn-on: for them it’s the ultimate escape and/or release. The reverse can be true for doms; they are given the illusion of ultimate control (of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, Dom, sub, or otherwise).

  • nakedanthropologist

    Have you ever heard of the secular therapy project here in the US? You could (perhaps if you wanted to) talk with a mental health professional via Skype or email. I’m not saying its perfect, and of course only you know your situation, but it (and others) are ot there if you’re interested. Here’s some links:



  • Sir Quaffler

    Again, this just makes me sad.

    Planned Parenthood does a lot of good. They offer the services to women in need that they wouldn’t find elsewhere. The psychological counseling, sheltering, etc. are all VERY GOOD THINGS that need to stick around. I’m just not down with the abortion services they provide, considering that’s going into another realm altogether.

    But, my disdain for their abortion services does NOT drive me to lie about what they do. I have a very strong hatred for abortion in general, as I believe it is the taking of human life, but I also have a pathological hatred of liars, and in this case my pathos wins out. I do not subscribe to the “ends justify the means” method of doing things; everything you do should remain consistent with your beliefs. Lying about what PP does flies right in the face of “do not bear false witness”, and I refuse to stand by these statements these attackers are saying.

    Do not resort to such tactics to bring about the change you want. Abortion is a great evil, to be sure, but we need to retain our integrity and attack this evil with complete honesty. Focus our efforts on this one sinful aspect, but leave the rest out. Don’t attack the entire organization, and by golly DON’T LIE ABOUT THEM!

  • I pretty much have to disagree with this completely.

    First of all, you’re completely mistaken about Planned Parenthood taking human lives; they don’t. 

    But also, if there’s an organization out there that is systematically taking human lives, and I can help save those lives just by lying, then I will lie my little heart out with passion and conviction and not lose a moment’s sleep over it.

  • Sir Quaffler

    Well, you’re more than free to do that yourself. But I just can’t. Like I said, I have a pathological hatred of lying. So I’d do everything else I can within keeping of my beliefs to take down the systematic killing of lives. I’m just not gonna lie to do it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I find myself intensely interested in what you would do in the situation of ‘lie to the Nazis or watch them haul a Jewish friend of yours to the gas chambers’.

  • That is, of course, your choice.

    That said, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the distinction between a strong personal aversion and a moral principle, and the kinds of rhetoric that are appropriate to each.

  • Sir Quaffler

    Whoever said there wasn’t a third option? I’d probably have smuggled them far out of the occupied zone before then, have relocated to a remote location where I could make my escape, tell the truth but then break them out of the concentration camp later, or at the very least taken down a few of the Nazi bastards while they made their escape.

    However… given the condition of Nazi-occupied Europe, I seriously doubt the last three would have been viable options. Aaaaaaaaand now comes the part where I’m gonna hafta eat my own words.

    Perhaps I got a bit carried away on that last post. It is still true that I wouldn’t lie if I had any other option (getting back to the original post, I can think of several other options other than lying about PP). And in this situation, I’d think of any other option I could, from diversions in conversation, anything else. But if I was directly confronted by an SS officer if I was hiding Jews or not, then I guess I’d have to lie to his face, seeming as how there’s really nothing else that can be done. I’d hate myself for it, and I’d have to answer for it in the life hereafter, but if lying was literally the only way to ensure the safety of a friend or close one then I’d just have to tell my pathos to f*** off.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What, if I may ask, is the difference between lying to save an (adult, or at least post-birth) Jewish person from the Nazis and lying to save a (whatever religion or ethnicity) fetal person from legal abortion?

  • Sir Quaffler

    Hmm, point taken.

  • Sir Quaffler

    How would you even lie about that? It’s pregnancy, it should be pretty obvious she’s pregnant, and she’d be pretty dead-set on getting an abortion. I do see your point, but I fail to see how lying (just by itself) would even prevent that situation from happening.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Tell her abortion has nasty future consequences on her mental health. (It doesn’t.) Tell her she needn’t worry about the financial impact of a baby because there are programs that will reduce that impact to nil. (There aren’t; such programs exist but are invariably insufficient.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Other lies people tell to maximize the baby-to-heterosexual-vaginal-sex-act ratio: contraception is abortion.

    Are you at least no longer surprised that there are those among your comrades who consider lying a viable method of preventing abortion or making legal abortion more inaccessible, and who therefore find telling those lies morally permissible if not a moral imperative?

  •  Don’t forget “Tell her you see a well-formed skull with a developing brain inside it and an intact heart.”

    You want to at least cover the lies that doctors in some of the the trans-v states would be legally required to tell if the proposed bills went through

  • EllieMurasaki

    Now I’m remembering the Texas woman who had to abort a wanted pregnancy because the fetus wasn’t gonna make it regardless and it would be too risky to take any other course of action, and who had to get that whole lecture from the doctor who prefaced it with being legally required to tell her that, and afterward they all found out that the fetus’s lack of viability would have exempted the woman from the lecture.

    I don’t wanna cry at work.

  •  “Why don’t you wait another couple weeks and think about it? It won’t be any harder to get an abortion then if you still want one.”
    “We’re still waiting for the paperwork to come through, then we’ll schedule that procedure”.