Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Gutless Religious Right Hates Freedom

Right Wing Authoritarianism has three component attitudes and behaviors.  They are submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism.  We've certainly seen them go heavy on the aggression.
  1. Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
  2. Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
  3. Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one's society should also be required to adhere to these norms.[3]
We have recently seen a glaring example of Right Wing Authoritarianism in hate mongering North Carolina Baptist pastor Sean Harris in the following audio clip where he argues for both the most harsh and injurious violence against children over their innate sexuality, and for the strictest possible conformity, even when it is a denial of fact:

 And then we have another of the non-apology apologies (like Rush Limbaugh's apology where he asserts he did nothing wrong, and clearly isn't sorry).

But this IS really what these people promote: hitting, homophobia, and intimidation.  They preach the most abusive tyranny of children who do not conform; what they are not preaching is love.  What they are not preaching is dignity and safety for everyone.  What they are not preaching is FREEDOM.
The extremes to which the authoritarian aggression extends includes spanking infants with flexible metal plumbing pipe. The intent is not merely firm and moderate negative reinforcement; the discipline is intended to completely and utterly break a child's will, to completely and totally dominate their personality and character, to stomp them into terrified compliance without a will of their own.
CNN has covered this kind of religious abuse, so has ABC.  Some kids have died, and their parents have gone to prison.  Many other kids report both physical injuries and sever psychological trauma as a result of this kind of authoritarian aggression.  The Southern Medical Journal in July 2008 published this :
Southern Medical Journal:
July 2008 - Volume 101 - Issue 7 - pp 707-710
doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181794793
Original Article

Is Religiosity Associated with Corporal Punishment or Child Abuse?

Socolar, Rebecca MD, MPH; Cabinum-Foeller, Elaine MD; Sinal, Sara H. MD

There is limited empiric literature available regarding religion and corporal punishment and physical child abuse. The available empiric literature deals primarily with Christian denominations. Conservative Protestants, particularly those who believe in Biblical literalism or inerrancy, spank and/or physically abuse their children more than other Christian denominations. However, church attendance and religiosity do appear to protect against family violence.
Key Points
* Empiric literature suggests that conservative Protestants spank and physically abuse their children more than other Christian groups.
* There is little empiric literature on corporal punishment/physical abuse for non-Christian religious groups.
* Adults who report experiencing religious authority abuse as children often experience depression and consider suicide as adults.
* Empiric studies suggest that religiosity and church attendance are protective against family violence.
An article in September 2010 in Science Daily documented precisely the kind of harm that results, up to and including suicide in later life.  This kind of abuse physically changes brain development according to the article.  I have written before about the differences between the deformed and distorted amygdalas associated with conservative political leanings in comparison to moderates and liberals.  This is further documentation about what constitutes fear response, and how that differs based on the amygdala.  By disorder, we are not talking minor anxiousness, but rather something far more debilitating.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010) — Grabbing a child firmly by the arm, yelling and repeatedly punishing him or her may not be without long-terms risks, according to researchers from the Université de Montréal. They are studying how this harsh parenting can impair the emotional development of a child, possibly leading to anxiety disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety and panic attacks.
"Several studies have shown that coercive parenting practices are linked to anxiety," says Françoise Maheu a professor at the Université de Montréal's Department of Psychiatry and lead investigator of the study. "We know that common practices such as spanking or excessive punishment do not instill a strong discipline. Quite the opposite, they have a lasting psychological impact on children."
Showing the physiological effect
Maheu and her team are investigating specifically how the anatomy or physiology of the brain is affected by this parenting. They are in the process of recruiting 120 youths aged 12 to 17 years. These youths will be split into four groups according to two variables: their current anxiety symptoms and their parent's current harsh parenting practices. While doing behavioural tests, the children will be subjected to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), where their brain activity (cerebral activity) will be measured. Maheu will then be able to correlate brain activity with fear and anxiety.
"My hypothesis is that two specialized structures, the amygdala and the anterior congulate cortex, which form the neural fear circuit, play a role in mediating the anxiety associated with harsh parenting. We are investigating these structures because they are strongly associated with the processing of threat cues" says Maheu.
"Investigating the links among harsh parenting, fear circuitry and anxiety in youths will provide key insights on the developmental neurobiology of harsh parenting and anxiety," adds Maheu. "Understanding this while individuals are young is crucial as it could lead to early interventions that would effectively interrupt a development trajectory early in its course, before anxiety becomes chronic."
More about anxiety disorders
According to research findings, anxiety disorders may result from a combination of biochemical imbalances, genetic factors and stress. School, moving, illness, poverty, and peer pressures can all contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder. If symptoms are not recognized and treated these disorders may lead to alcoholism, difficulties maintaining relationships, depression and in certain cases, suicide.
study is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.

An anxiety DISORDER, referenced above, is very different from normal levels of anxiety or nervousness.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, reported from repeated military deployments is an example of an anxiety disorder.  Inflicting this kind of aggression on a child is abusive when it does this kind of psychological damage.

Anxiety disorders are exaggerations of our normal and adaptive reaction to fearful or stressful events. There are many types of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) , posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
I would direct our readers for a good overview / summary to the wikipedia entry on sexual orientation change efforts.   While I could provide an extensive list of authoritive academic research that shows what the harm is, and how it occurs, in essence, the mental health field has taken the position that non-violent sexual orientation denial is damaging; when it includes physical violence, it is far more drastically damaging.  This is outlined below:
Sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) are methods that aim to eliminate a same-sex sexual orientation.[1] They may include behavioral techniques, cognitive behavioral techniques (such as reparative therapy), psychoanalytic techniques, medical approaches, and religious and spiritual approaches.[2] In some parts of the world efforts to change a person's sexual orientation may include acts of sexual violence (corrective rape) in which the purported motivation is to force the victim to change their orientation.
The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.[1] The research consistently failed to provide any empirical or scientific basis for regarding homosexuality as a disorder or abnormality.[3][4] There is a population that undergoes sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation.[2] There are no studies of adequate scientific rigor to conclude that recent sexual orientation change efforts have been effective.
... no major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and virtually all of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation.[5][6][7] The Royal College of Psychiatrists shares the concern of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association that positions espoused by bodies like the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in the United States are not supported by science and that so-called treatments of homosexuality as recommended by NARTH create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.[6][8]
SOCE has been controversial due to tensions between the values held by some faith-based organizations, on the one hand, and those held by lesbian, gay and bisexual rights organizations and professional and scientific organizations, on the other. Some individuals and groups have promoted the idea of homosexuality as symptomatic of developmental defects or spiritual and moral failings and have argued that SOCE, including psychotherapy and religious efforts, could alter homosexual feelings and behaviors.[1] Such efforts have serious potential to harm people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure.[9] Many of these individuals and groups appeared to be embedded within the larger context of conservative religious political movements that have supported the stigmatization of homosexuality on political or religious grounds.[1] Co-founder and other former Exodus International leaders issued a public and formal apology for their work as ex-gay leaders and the harm they caused to those they tried to help.[10]
I think perhaps it is time to add a fourth characteristic to the definition of right wing authoritarianism - dishonest denial when confronted with their hateful authoritarian aggression.
We have this video of Pastor Harris when he received attention for his preaching.  He tried to pretend that the way in which he was speaking was humor -- you know, like Ruch Limbaugh claimed his attack on Ms.  Fluke were humor instead of admitting they were a very real attack.  These men appear to mean what they say; it is not humor.  They are advocating and approving, encouraging and endorsing the conduct of those who are violent to same-sex oriented human beings.

We have Pastor Harris claiming he didn't really mean actually hitting kids or intimidating them, that this was humor. We have Bradlee Dean claiming he doesn't hate gays or condone violence when he praises the execution of gays in more primitive Muslim fundamentalist societies, and advocates for criminalizing same sex relationships, including imprisoning people, or holding up in an approving way the statements of people advocating castration for homosexuality. Bradlee Dean has gone through many forms of denials not unlike the video of Harris above where he has tried to deny his hateful admonitions. He tries to fost hatred by disseminating as often as possible lies about the life, and health of same-sex oriented people, including asserting the base accusation they are all pedophiles in order to incite fear and hatred of them. We have the denials of possibly gay Marcus Bachmann and his wife Congresswoman Michele Bachmann that their clinic does not offer Christian psychological counseling to 'pray away the gay', despite so far two incidents of undercover recordings of such therapy by their therapists in their clinic --- and Marcus Bachmann PERSONALLY trying to collect on a fee for one such therapy session. Congresswoman Bachmann wants to allow bullying in schools for sexual orientation, because she believes it is part of religious freedom to do so --- but denies adamantly she is anti-gay.  Although to be fair, she has such a reputation for dishonesty and inaccuracy, for her that's just normal same old same old, on pretty much every topic.
Consistently, when confronted with the hatefulness and harmfullness of their words and their beliefs, these so-called principled conservatives who profess a religious based morality resort to LYING.
They lie about what they said and meant, when clearly to anyone who sees the video or hears their recorded words they meant every word, when clearly they have professed hatred and advocated harmful physical and psychological aggression on adults and children. These people are monsters, and they are moral cowards who lack the courage of their convictions. More to the point, it is these terrible right wing extremists who should BE convicted for the damage that they do to others in denying them or attempting to deny them one of the most fundamental of freedoms, under the cover of religious freedom -- the freedom of identity and integrity. These right wing fanatics would happily deny you and I and everyone else the freedom to think independently, the freedom of individual will and conscience, the freedom to be and act as who we really are.  They would only allow us to follow their hateful, harmful, ignorant conformity through parental coercion, societal coercion, and government coercion -- if we let them.  Don't let them.


  1. Thanks MikeB - always good to have you comment on penigma!