I hadn’t heard about it before yesterday, but a new report from the International Planned Parenthood Federation has many conservative bloggers smoking mad.
The report, called “Stand and Deliver: Sex, Health and Young People in the 21st Century,” is basically a call for sex education and for access to birth control for “young people.”
The introduction explains:
Young people deserve special attention in development settings, where they often lack access to services that adults in many countries take for granted. This makes young people vulnerable. Millions do not know how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, or are ill equipped to do so. Young women and girls lack decision-making power and many are subjected to gender-based violence every day. In many places, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people live in fear of discrimination and stigmatization. Numerous countries do not regard sexual health or rights as a legitimate part of the public duty of care or acknowledge that young people are sexual beings. The taboo on youth sexuality is one of the key forces driving the AIDS epidemic and high rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality.
The report spends a lot of time on the challenges facing the poor, the spread of AIDS, and the need to invest in “in sexuality education, social programmes for youth, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, and promoting gender equality are vital to help young people develop the ability to cope with and respond to an ever- changing world.”
It also calls for access to safe abortion services in third-world countries.
Then, on page 28, it delivers this:
Young people’s sexuality is still contentious for many religious institutions. Fundamentalist and other religious groups the – Catholic Church and madrasas (Islamic schools) for example – have imposed tremendous barriers that prevent young people, particularly, from obtaining information and services related to sex and reproduction. Currently, many religious teachings deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex and limited guidelines for sexual education often focus on abstinence before marriage (although evidence shows this strategy has been ineffective in many settings).63 The reality is, young people are sexual beings and many of them are religious as well. There is a need for pragmatism, to address life as it is and not as it might be in an ideal world.
Now, most people — even those who vehemently disagree — expect Planned Parenthood to call for sex ed, availability of birth control and access to abortion.
But when PP starts coming after religion, in particular the Catholic Church, for not telling young people about the pleasure of sex, well, there’s going to be some reaction.
You see Pope Benedict, when you go preaching that we are all created in the image and likeness of God and that sex is a material reflection of the oneness of the Trinity and that it belongs in the Sacrament of marriage, which itself is a greater reflection of God and a training ground in selfless, supernatural love (Agape) . . . when you, Pope Benedict, talk about abstinence before marriage and honor and commitment, you’re, in effect, throwing a wet towel on middle school sexbots and seriously hampering IPPF’s revenues . . . so stop it! Besides, have you ever considered how all that guilt trip stuff will negatively affect little Sally’s and little Billy’s self esteem? That’s on your head old man!
Catholic talk show host, media expert, and co-author of the best selling “All Things Girl” series, Teresa Tomeo, insists the latest push by Planned Parenthood to promote sex to younger children is a wake-up call for Moms and Dads and anyone else concerned about today’s youth.
“Despite the fact that sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies, and teen abortions, are on the rise, Planned Parenthood thinks pushing sexual promiscuity to kids as young as 10 is a good idea. It’s difficult enough for families to fight the constant flow of messages from the mass media that attack a chaste lifestyle; a healthy lifestyle that will protect kids from physical, psychological, and spiritual damage and now this. That’s why it’s so important that parents and others who teach or work with children have the information and the tools that can make a real difference in today’s toxic culture.”
Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says:
The ideology of sexual liberation pervades this document and the group that produced it. The idea that teaching children and teenagers to save sex for marriage is treated as outdated, repressive, and unrealistic. Instead, parents are told that they must become sexual and moral pragmatists, hoping that their young offspring will enjoy sex to the fullest, while avoiding pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.
And there’s plenty, plenty more…
Coincidentally, the Religious Institute, a liberal interreligious group that promotes “sexual health, education and justice,” released its own report yesterday called “Sexuality and Religion 2020.”
It basically calls for religious communities to do a much better job of promoting sex ed.
The group explains: “An estimated 60% of Americans belong to a local congregation, but clergy are not addressing issues of sexual morality and justice from the pulpit. Last year, the largest-ever survey of mainline Protestant clergy revealed that more than 70% seldom or never discuss sexuality issues, and a Religious Institute study reported that seminaries and denominations do not require competencies in sexuality for future clergy.”
The eminent religion scholar Martin Marty, who took part in a press conference announcing the report, says: “The religious have always paid the sexual dimension of human existence great compliments by being engrossed with it – whether to keep it at a distance or often by overreacting to it as a threat. The goals of Sexuality & Religion 2020 will help to spread information among the religious, thus helping them disclose and appreciate the promise associated with this sexual dimension, whenever it is openly and creatively addressed.”