A group that "celebrate[s] the inherent goodness of adolescent sexuality" and calls for clergy to "speak out against... coercive parental notification and consent for reproductive health services" has just released a study that concludes by calling on American theological seminaries to go over the birds and bees with their students.
Yet in reporting on the study by the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear failed to label the group as liberal or to find conservative theologians to dispute its arguments. [Click here for our archive on Brachear]
What's more, Brachear practically said "Amen" to the Institute's viewpoint in the opening lines of her January 8 "The Seeker" blog post:
Virginity pledges shut down healthy conversations about sexuality in churches and synagogues, according to the author of a landmark study unveiled in Chicago on Thursday. But what else can you expect when seminaries don’t teach sex ed?
Kate Ott, associate director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, said another ballyhooed study published last week that looked at the effectiveness of "virginity pledges" did not necessarily indict abstinence education programs. Rather, it indicted seminaries for not preparing their graduates to talk honestly and openly with their congregations about sex, she said.
Granted, many houses of worship could stand to improve the way they way they communicate the virtues of chastity while remaining faithful to their respective, conservative religious doctrines of sexual ethics and marriage.
But as Brachear must surely know from doing basic research, the Religious Institute is not concerned with fidelity to religious orthodoxy or conservatism but rather in liberalizing American houses of worship. Indeed, the Institute's chief document, the "Religous Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing," laments "unsustainable population growth" and insists on the "[f]ull inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex unions."
Although there's no way in Hades that conservative Protestant and Catholic theologians would agree with the Institute's views, Brachear failed to consult any dissenting voices for a critique. Instead Brachear quoted two officers from the Religious Institute before asking readers:
What do you think? Should clergy take sex ed in seminaries?