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Overpopulation: a Threat Caused by Religion [2]
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William Wilson, the first ambassador to the Holy See, confirmed that the Vatican dictated the agenda, when he stated in Time magazine on February 24, 1992, „American policy was changed as a result of the Vatican's not agreeing with our policy. American aid programs around the world did not meet the criteria the Vatican had for family planning."

The Vatican expanded its control to population conferences sponsored by the United Nations, where, as the Holy See, it enjoys a unique „nation" status, giving it voting rights no other religion possesses. This has allowed it to disrupt conferences, joining forces with several repressive Muslim regimes to argue points and block consensus on issues dealing with birth control.

The New Right Movement has supported the Vatican in its interference in these conferences. In the August 1995 monthly letter for Focus on the Family, James Dobson, FOF president, asserted that the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, „will represent the most radical, atheistic and anti-family crusade in the history of the world.."

Focus on the Family is a huge magazine publishing and radio empire with broadcasts reaching millions worldwide. It is an evangelical Christian ministry with firm ties to other conservative religious organizations who have the same political objectives. A former worker with FOF estimates that if you combine the Southern Baptist membership with the followers of Dobson and the Christian Coalition you have around 25-30 million people. [ 21 ]

Numbers like this have clout. The May 4, 1998 U.S. News & World Report featured a cover story about James Dobson, „Righteous Indignation." It describes his meeting with 25 House Republicans where he threatened, in effect, to bring down the GOP unless it made conservative social issues, including abortion, a higher legislative priority. „If I go," he said, "I will do everything I can to take as many people with me as possible."

Just two months before, Dobson had issued a press release showing a letter he had sent to all Republican legislators on Capitol Hill, as well as Republican Governors, outlining pro-family legislative priorities for the remaining 105th congressional session. The first item listed was to „defund Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations." [ 22 ]

Such power to control the pulse of the nation rivals the authority of the Catholic Church. The sheer force of numbers claimed by both the church and what is now called the Religious Right has helped elect members of Congress who consistently vote against family planning measures that would help control the world's population.

Although George W. Bush ran on a promise of moderation, he has been zealous in his attacks on family planning now that he is president. On his very first day on the job, the president re-imposed the global "gag rule," first instituted by President Ronald Reagan, then lifted by President Bill Clinton in January 1993. It bars international health providers receiving American family planning assistance from providing abortion services even with their own money, or counseling women about abortion, or even engaging in lobbying their own governments on abortion, in effect limiting their right to free speech. Many providers were forced to turn down our country's family planning help because of these conditions.

More international assistance was lost when President Bush cut off the $34-million support for the United Nations Family Planning Agency, the largest multilateral provider of family planning and reproductive health assistance serving over 150 countries. The UNFPA estimates that the money it lost would have been enough to prevent 2 million unwanted pregnancies worldwide, avoiding 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, 77,000 infant and child deaths, and 60,000 serious maternal illnesses. [ 23 ]

Unfazed by the suffering this has caused, the Bush administration has recently taken additional steps to appoint antiabortion activists to key positions on U.S. delegations to U.N. conferences, [ 24 ] and in October it publicly announced at a U.N. Asia regional meeting that it was unable to reaffirm its commitment to the 1994 Cairo Plan of Action, a global agreement between 178 countries to support reproductive health and family planning. U.S. delegates said some of the wording, including „reproductive health services" and "reproductive rights," could be read as advocating abortion and underage sex. They also attempted to block an endorsement of condom use to prevent AIDS. U.S. demands for changes or deletions in the regional document were overwhelmingly rejected, [ 25 ] representing an embarrassing defeat for the Bush administration.

Other actions of this administration include the following:

# In 2002, U.S. delegates to a U.N. Special Session on Children tried to block a proposal promoting children's rights because it promised "reproductive health services," and the delegates even opposed special U.N. efforts to help young girls who are war crime rape victims.

# Last summer, the White House withdrew support for the Senate ratification of a Women's Rights Treaty that would require countries to end discrimination against women's access to legal rights and health care.

# In November, the U.S. held back a $3-million grant to punish the World Health Organization's reproductive health program for conducting scientific research into the „morning after" pill. [ 26 ]

On January 12, 2003, The New York Times declared, „President Bush's assault on reproductive rights is part of a larger ongoing cultural battle. If abortion were the only target, the administration would not be attempting to block women's access to contraceptives, which drive down the number of abortions. His administration would not be declaring war on any sex education that discusses ways, beyond abstinence, to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Scientifically accurate information about contraceptives and abortion would not have begun disappearing from federal government Web sites."

These deliberate efforts to subvert attempts to reduce world population must cease if our country is to make any progress in fighting terrorism. When more than 150,000 children are born each day around the world with no reasonable hope of good education, jobs or health care, [ 27 ] this contributes to terrorism. When surplus young adult males (what some call „rogue males") predominate now in seven Asian countries-Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China and Taiwan-the resulting instability can lead to „rogue" governments that harbor and aid terrorists. [ 28 ]

Population plays a prominent role in the conflict in the Middle East, where nearly half of all males in the Palestine Territory are aged 15 to 29-the group most likely to engage in violence. [ 29 ] There are simply too many young men seeking jobs, mates, and recognition who find instead squalor, alienation, and hopelessness. Overpopulation creates conditions of unrest and instability in places already overburdened by poverty, disease, and natural resource depletion. Support for terrorism is rooted in these conditions.

The Bush administration is ignoring the truth. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) report „Global Trends 2015" tells us the world will be rife with conflict and increased terrorism unless rapid population growth can be curbed. As the demand for limited-in some cases, nonexistent-resources increases, hostilities will erupt. The NIC report cites future water shortages as flashpoints for conflict. It also predicts the potential for famine in some parts of the world. It is no wonder that there will be global unrest when such suffering affects so many people. [ 30 ]

Excessive births in other countries lead to high immigration here at home. Not only has this created economic problems for states with tight budgets, but high traffic across our borders increases the difficulty of preventing terrorists from entering and committing terrorist acts on our own soil.

It is encouraging that some presidential candidates are beginning to address the connection between overpopulation and terrorist attacks. They must, however, understand that our government is now controlled by anti-family-planning forces, and until that hold is broken, no progress can be made. They must then make the voters realize that the very safety of our country may depend on a change in American policy.

We must take back our government from dogmatic beliefs that refuse to recognize reality, preferring to believe that „God will provide." We must elect a president who regards the „good of the world" and the national security of our country as being more important than promoting the ideology of his or her contributors.

John D. Rockefeller III, who was involved in President Nixon's plan, wrote: „Men of influence must be shown that the true objective of population stabilization is the enrichment of human life, not its restriction.… To my mind, population stabilization is not a brake upon human development, but rather a release that, by assuring greater opportunity to each person, frees man to attain his individual dignity and to reach his full potential." [ 31 ]

Originally published in the American Rationalist © 2003

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[ 21 ] Letter by Randy Ralph Shafer, published in the Colorado Springs Independent March 18-24, 1998
[ 22 ] "James Dobson Outlines Conservative Christian Community's Legislative Priorities to House and Senate Republican Leadership," 03/05/98 09:EST, www.prnewswire.com
[ 23 ] Pop!ulation Press, newsletter of the Population Coalition, Nov/Dec 2002: p. 3.
[ 24 ] "Islamic Block, Christian Right, Team Up To Lobby U.N.," www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61275-2002Jun16.html
[ 25 ] Vijay Joshi, AP, December 18, 2002, rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_re_as/inlinks/ ; www.unescap.org
[ 26 ] Letter from Pathfinder International, March 2003
[ 27 ] Pop!ulation Press, newsletter of the Population Coalition, Sep/Oct 2001: p. 2.
[ 28 ] Pop!ulation Press, newsletter of the Population Coalition, Nov/Dec 2002: p. 4.
[ 29 ] Letter from Population Coalition, December 2002
[ 30 ] Letter from The Population Institute, Spring 2003
[ 31 ] John D. Rockefeller III. Quoted from his prologue to "Family-Planning Programs: An International Survey," edited by Bernard Berelson (New York: Basic, 1968).

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