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Religious Leaders Must Support Justice for All

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing has issued an open letter that calls for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the faith community.

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Thank you, Clergy Consultation Service

Rev. Howard Moody organized clergy across the country to provide support for women with unintended pregnancies when abortion was illegal. He and the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion were honored last weekend.

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Broadway Review: Spring Crushing?

The Rev. Debra W. Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.

Editor's note: Spoiler alert.

 

My college age daughter and I went to see Spring Awakening on Wednesday. Hailed as a bold and ground-breaking Broadway musical concerned with adolescent sexuality, I expected to love it.

I didn't.

 

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Beyond Abstinence-Only: Speaking Out on Adolescent Sexuality

The United States may be raising some of the most sexually confused adolescents in the world. Movies, advertising, web sites, music, and television shows give teens the message that “everyone is doing it,” while the official policy of the federal government and 46 states is abstinence-only until marriage. And most parents, schools, and religious institutions say little to nothing to adolescents about their sexual behaviors, sexual orientation, and sexual health, even though one recent report revealed that the vast majority of Americans have been having sex before marriage for decades.

Caught between “just do it” and “just say no,” with little moral guidance for making healthy decisions, more than six in 10 adolescents engage in sexual intercourse by the time they leave high school. Each year, about 800,000 of them become pregnant and approximately 25 percent contract a sexually transmitted disease.

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Latest Attempt to Mandate Bad Information

The Rev. Debra W. Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.

The House of Representatives this week is scheduled to vote on a bill titled the "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2006." Republicans are hurrying to have this bill considered before the new Congress takes over.

The bill requires that every woman in America who is having an abortion after 20 weeks receive a pamphlet that says that abortion causes pain to the fetus and that they have been offered fetal anesthesia.

The problem? Well according to a review article by the American Medical Association, "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester," and there is "little or no evidence" of the effectiveness of fetal anesthesia and "limited or no data" on the safety of administering it.

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Telling Teens Not to French Kiss

The Rev. Debra W. Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.

I've just read a new article titled "Legislating Against Arousal" in the latest copy of the Guttmacher Institute's journal.

Cythnia Dailard reports that the federal government, nearly ten years since the start of the abstinence-only-until-marriage program has finally defined what they mean by abstinence. The new guidelines say that abstinence is "voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage." They define sexual activity as "any type of genital activity or sexual stimulation between two persons."Sexual stimulation? Let's see, that could include flirting, hand holding, kissing, french kissing…watching someone in tight jeans bend over and pick up a fork on the floor of the middle school cafeteria. Come on…were these people ever teenagers?

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Overcoming Religiophobia

The Rev. Debra W. Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.

I went into the ministry following a 25-year career as a sexologist. People are often surprised when I introduce myself as a minister and as a sexologist. But I believe that our sexuality and our spirituality are intimately connected, and that at its foundation, my work in the sexual and reproductive health field, and now my work as a minister, share a common moral vision – to teach people how to treat each other with love, dignity, and respect.

People in the SRH field come to work each day because of our values and because we want to make a difference. In theological terms, we are called to tikkun olam, to save the world – to heal the brokenness that so many suffer around unintended pregnancies, coerced and exploitive sexual experiences, attacks on bodily integrity, soul-numbing denial of one's sexual or gender identity, violence against women and sexual minorities, and children who are not loved or wanted. We believe that injustice and suffering in the world are intolerable and that the work we do empowering people to make and live healthy decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health makes a difference.

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