Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fear, Atheism, and Politics Play Role in Evangelical Manifesto

The recent Evangelical Manifesto is all about politics and fear. Despite claiming to depoliticize the religion the document actually plays on Christianity’s fear of atheism in the US in order to manipulate American politics. The Manifesto, written by Os Guinness, portrays two opposing possibilities for religious discourse in American society, the “naked public square” and the “civil public square.” Guinness presents the two possible choices for the future of America, one being the right path, the other disastrous for America. He warns of dangers of the “naked” public square, which according to the Evangelical Manifesto, is completely devoid of religion or spirituality in public life. In contrast the document promotes a so-called “civil” public square, which would allow for expression of religion and spirituality in the public domain.

Guinness then distinguishes the difference between an “atheist” and a “secularist” in order to politicize the two terms. The document claims that a “secularist” can become an “atheist” by denying access to the spiritual world. “We ourselves [evangelicals] are often atheists unawares, secularists in practice who live in a world without windows to the supernatural,” claimed the Manifesto. The “secularists” are depicted as open to a discussion of religion and spirituality in the public forum. He allows the “secularist” to become a part of the “civil public square,” but claims that Evangelicals need to be aware of “the striking intolerance evident among the new atheists,” therefore alienating “atheists” from the “civil” public square.

Guinness uses fear to paint a horrific picture of America in the hands of the atheists by comparing atheism in America to Europe’s exclusion of religion from public life. The Manifesto warns American Evangelicals that “If this hardens into something like the European animosity toward religion in public life, the result would be disastrous for the American republic…” In the summary of the Manifesto, which accompanied the main document, the writer called atheists “coercive secularists.” The difference between “secularists” and “atheists” is a coercive and evil nature, according to the Evangelical Manifesto. The document spends a significant amount of time creating fear of an atheist or coercive secularist state. Guinness depicts “secularists” as participating members of the “civil public square” while “atheists” as intolerant to the Evangelical movement, as well as other religions.

However, Christianity has experienced little intolerance in the US in comparison to other parts of the world, such as the Middle East. Unofficially, however, the US government is already endorsing the Christian religion over any other religion. There have been highly publicized accounts of Christian military personnel bullying and even threatening those non-Christian military men and women. Even President Bush had been criticized for describing the current Iraq War as a “crusade.” Many claimed it was a reference to the original 11th century Christian Crusades against Muslims in the Middle East. In the past five years if any religion has been receiving the most intolerance in the US it would be Islam.

So, what does Guinness mean by “intolerance?” Perhaps the writer is referring to the ban on public prayer or displaying religious symbols on government property. Guinness maybe inferring that those who believe in upholding separation of church and state, which has traditionally been championed by the political left, are part of the “intolerant” atheists. During an interview with Alex Chediak ( Guinness was asked if Christian voters should consider a pro-choice candidate if the candidate aligns with other Christian values. “Emphatically not, and the Manifesto is blunt about the undiminished fight for life and marriage,” replied Guinness siding with most on the political right, which has traditionally been supported by Evangelical and born-again Christians.

The Evangelical Manifesto is a subversive attack on the separation of church and state, without which, the government would be allowed to officially endorse one religion over another. It would only be a matter of time before Roe v. Wade will be reversed and gay marriage is banned based on government-endorsed Christian values. Although the Manifesto claims to want to end “cultural-warring” between the left and right, it is covertly continuing Evangelism’s manipulation of US politics.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Big Pharma Sells Happiness to America

Americans are now buying their happiness in pill form. Big Pharma is recklessly pushing anti-depression drugs onto the American public. The pharmaceutical industry has been financially influencing members of the government and using misleading advertising campaigns in order to get their psychiatric drugs approved for public consumption without proper clinical trials.

Big Pharma has infiltrated the FDA and the NIMH, two government entities, in order to get their psychiatric drugs approved for public consumption quickly with minimal barriers. In 55 percent of the FDA advisory meetings on drug approvals, half or more of the FDA advisers had financial connections to the interested drug company, while in 92 percent of these advisory meetings, at least one FDA adviser had a financial conflict of interest according to USA Today in 2000. Almost every FDA meeting on drug approvals have been tainted by Big Pharma’s money.

The pharmaceutical companies also left their mark on the National Institute for Mental Health, the government-funded organization responsible for mental illness research. Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to regularly offer prestigious and lucrative positions to NIMH members. In 1993 Steven Paul, scientific director of NIMH, resigned to become vice president of Eli Lilly while Lewis Judd, a former NIMH director joined Roche Pharmaceutical. Both companies are two major players in the psychiatric drug market. Eli Lilly produces the well-known psychiatric drugs, Prozac and Zyprexa. Roche Pharmaceutical manufactures Valium, Klonopin, and other psychiatric drugs. The drug companies are actively recruiting members of the NIMH into high-paid private sector positions to bolster their influence over the government institution.

With influence over members of the FDA as well as the NIMH, the pharmaceutical companies offer incentives for members of both organizations to rush psychiatric drugs through a hasty approval process. The FDA only requires two randomized clinical trials to be conducted on subjects for usually only 4 to 12 weeks according to the New York Times on April 15, 2008. Many people who take anti-depressant drugs are taking the drug for major portions of their lives. There have been very few tests on the effects of long-term use of the drugs. Yet, pharmaceutical companies are still pushing for new psychiatric drugs. One of the newest drugs to hit the market, Effexor, has only been tested for a two-year duration. Drugs are being sent straight to the consumer without clinical knowledge of long-term effects. They are even trying to treat marijuana addiction, which has yet to been proven to biologically exist, with lithium. Big Pharma also targets children. More than half of all foster children ages 13 to 17 were being given psychiatric drugs to control their behavior, according to the New York Times on April 26, 2008.

Pharmaceutical companies send out biased and exaggerated press releases to increase the number of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs. In 1987 Eli Lilly released Prozac, a serotonin-enhancer, based on the theory that depression was caused by low levels of serotonin. Eli Lily then used a multi-billion dollar marketing campaign to further convince doctors and the public that depression was caused by a deficiency in serotonin and Prozac was the cure for this deficiency. However, in 1998 The American Medical Association concluded that the link between low levels of serotonin and depression was unclear. By this time the percentage of Americans in outpatient treatment had more than tripled, and prescriptions of psychiatric medications had more than doubled, according to Eli Lily had already made its money. The insurance companies cashed in. And now, the anti-depressant drug market is a $12 billion per year industry and growing, slowing medicating the nation into chemical happiness.