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Tempt Faith and You’re Bound to Get Burned

1976 was the “Year of the Evangelical,” with the election of President Jimmy Carter and the emergence of this “new” (at least to the American public) Christian movement onto the political scene. 1980 heralded the year of the New Right, which essentially gutted Jimmy Carter of his presidency, elected Ronald Reagan, and solidified the entrance of conservative evangelicals into American public life. (There are some liberal and moderate evangelicals by the way, Carter being only one of them.) They played a big part in the new Congress of 1994, and they have risen to a place of power, perhaps hubris, that led them to claim that they essentially single-handedly re-elected George W. Bush to the presidency in 2004. The past 25 years have in many ways belonged to that group, but there are signs of a change coming – 2006 could very well be remembered as the year that group lost its dominance in American politics.

Moderate Democrats are rising to the top in Congressional races across the nation over their radically conservative peers. As if that alone weren’t a sign of this change, a book that is hitting the shelves today could very well help to seal the coffin for the Religious Right. David Kuo, the former “#2” staffer in the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, has published Tempting Faith, a scathing indictment of the religious compromise and political manipulations that have characterized this movement and, according to him, the Bush White House.

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RH Reality Check is pleased to present…

Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda baking pies with Stephen Colbert… Laugh with us! It's Friday!

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Where is the Pro-Family Lobby Now?

As of the time of writing for this blog, Focus on the Family has said nothing on its website, and Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America both issued only cursory and confusing statements late this afternoon about Congressman Mark Foley's sexually explicit communications with young boys who worked in his office.

No mention of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow saying essentially that Foley's comments were okay because others have done worse. No mention of the top House leadership collectively dodging resposibility for the children entrusted to their care during the summers.

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Political Stunt with Interstate Abortion Notification Law Continues

Ellen Marshall blogged earlier today about the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), and Nancy Keenan of NARAL did as well. (See also: Feministing.) It went through a vote yesterday in the House in a way that left us wondering if it was a purely political stunt. As Ellen pointed out, by passing the bill with slightly different language than the Senate version, House conservatives appeared to have killed their own initiative. There was little presumed chance that the Senate would be able to return to it in time to approve it before this session of Congress ended, and failure to act would have left it dead until next session.

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NewsHour Looks at South Dakota Abortion Ban

In case you missed it, NewsHour did a segment on the South Dakota anti-abortion law that voters will considered in a ballot initiative this fall. It’s from March of this year.

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Anti-Contraception Activists You Should Know

A unique conference will begin tonight in Chicago, and I have a feeling that very few of our readers have heard of it. CINTA, which stands for "Contraception Is Not The Answer," will be convened by the Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) and its infamous leader, Joseph Scheidler. While the media has been catching up with the trend against contraception from the far-right and its increasing influence on politics, we thought it might be helpful to provide some background on the conference presenters.

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What if there was a national ballot initiative?

There isn't one, but maybe there is something like it… I subscribe to the RSS feeds for Family Research Council’s (FRC) “Alerts,” and I was struck recently by the 6 new ones that appeared in my inbox:

  • “Volunteers for Virginia Marriage Amendment needed”
  • “Volunteers need to help pass marriage amendment in Wisconsin”
  • “South Dakota faces ballot initiatives on marriage, abortion, and gambling”
  • “Tennessee marriage amendment needs your help”
  • “Effort to defend traditional marriage underway in Idaho”
  • “South Carolina elected officials need to support the marriage amendment”

This is not the FRC PAC sending out these messages. This is FRC’s main office for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is legally bound from engaging in partisan electoral activities. Ballot initiatives are technically apolitical — after all, it is not inherently Republican to want to ban gay marriage and abortion (wouldn’t both be an exercise of “big government” intrusion?). They have been the means for political engagements for non-profit organizations in the past, but I don’t know that I’ve seen such a clear example of this scale of activism until this one.

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Could a Shifting Right Mean a New “Left?”

Ahead of this November’s elections, RH Reality Check will increasingly be looking at issues in the political landscape and how they relate to reproductive health. This is one of those cases.

Tuesday’s LA Times ran an article that included a quote few of you are going to believe. Under the headline “Christian Coalition is Splintering,” John W. Giles of the Christian Coalition (CC) of Alabama is quoted: “The Christian Coalition is drifting to the left.”

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The New SaveROE.com

SaveROE.com, the blog of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), has been re-launched with a new design and some neat tools.  SaveROE digests news related to reproductive choice in America and provides access to many of the campaigns and initiatives of PPFA. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.

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Premature End for Microbicide Trial Brings Sobering News

Microbicides raised hopes at the recent International AIDS Conference for their potential to offer an HIV prevention technique that could be initiated by women. But many researchers and advocates who work on microbicide development have been quick to offer cautions to the public that excitement not build too fast because a marketable product could still be years away.

The news that a Pennsylvania firm, Cellegy, has stopped its stage 3 (human testing) trial of a microbicide gel only adds to that sobering reminder. After a year of studying over 2,000 women in a trial that compared the real drug against a placebo, they have concluded that there is no statistically significant data being derived from the study. In an area where the rate of HIV transmission was expected to be about 3.7% a year, the women in this study are experiencing a rate of transmission closer to 2%. Good news, except it means that researchers can’t tell the difference between the microbicide’s effectiveness and the effectiveness of the condoms and HIV-prevention counseling offered to all of the women as part of the trial.

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