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What do you think? Here are two stories to think about.

From the USA Today Religion editors, a story dated 3/7/07, titled: Americans get an ‘F’ in religion. A study showed that Americans (from the United States, not Canada or Mexico) knew very little about the Bible. 60% of Americans can’t name five of the Ten Commandments and about 50% of high school seniors thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

The story goes on to discuss how religion is playing a bigger role in world events and that we would all be better served if we had better knowledge of the Bible and other religions of the world. There are now some high school elective classes on the Bible in some school districts but there are ongoing controversies with the curriculum and how it is to be taught. There is concern that textbooks about the Bible would also be slanted and biased against its’ teachings:

The Bible and Its Influence has been blasted by conservative Christians such as the Rev. John Hagee, pastor of the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Hagee calls it “a masterful work of deception, distortion and outright falsehoods” planting “concepts in the minds of children which are contrary to biblical teaching.”

Hagee wrote to the Alabama legislature opposing adoption of the text, citing points such as discussion questions that could lead children away from a belief in God. Example: Asking students to ponder if Adam and Eve got “a fair deal as described in Genesis” would plant the seed that “since God is the author of the deal, God is unfair.”

Hagee prefers the Bible itself as a textbook for Bible classes, used with a curriculum created by a group of conservative evangelicals, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, based in Greensboro, N.C. The council says its curriculum is being offered in more than 300 schools.

The biggest whopper told in the article is this one:

The First Amendment Center also published a guide to “The Bible and the Public Schools,” which praised a ninth-grade world religions course in Modesto, Calif., and cited a study finding students were able to learn about other faiths without altering their own beliefs. But it also said the class may not be easily replicated and required knowledgeable, unbiased teachers.

ALL teachers have a bias, it just depends on whether the bias shows in the classroom. So, Americans know very little about other religions and still know very little about the Bible and Christianity.
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The next story is about ‘hooking up’. In case you are not aware, hooking up is meeting for a casual sexual encounter with no strings attached. This would go from kissing to all the way. The LDS equivalent might be a NCMO [non-committal-make-out], there is even a dating website http://www.incmo.net/.

What made this phenomenon worthy of a story is a new book that dares to say *gasp* that hooking up might be bad for young women “putting them at risk of depression and even sexually transmitted disease, and making them ill-equipped for real relationships later on.” THE HORROR!!!!

For that, Laura Sessions Stepp, author of ”Unhooked,” has been criticized as a throwback to an earlier, restrictive moral climate, an anti-feminist [WHAT?] and a tut-tutting mother telling girls not to give the milk away when nobody’s bought the cow.

Ummmm. That actually sounds like sound advice. Also, who knew that feminism stood for the right to have casual sex acts whenever you want to? No wonder she is being criticized for her stance. The article quotes from some reviewers who have stumbled upon truths without acknowledging them as such.

The author ”imagines the female body as a thing that can be tarnished by too much use,” [*true*] wrote reviewer Kathy Dobie in Stepp’s own paper, the Post, and suggested that Stepp was, in one part, trying to ”instill sexual shame.” For Meghan O’Rourke, literary editor at Slate.com, Stepp is ”buying into alarmism about women,” and making sex ”a bigger, scarier, and more dangerous thing than it already is. [perceived to be]”

Apparently these women never had to be concerned about STD’s or an unwanted pregnancy, unless they think medical cures, condoms, and abortion are the answer. They may have found a cure for the physical problems but there are still the emotional and spiritual problems to consider.

In response to criticism, the author of the book replied:

True, she regrets that ”dating has gone completely by the boards,” replaced by group outings that lead to casual encounters. True, she regrets that oral sex ”isn’t even considered sex anymore.” But she isn’t saying girls should not have sex; just that they should have it in the context of a meaningful connection: ”I am saying that girls should have choices.”

Too often, Stepp argues, girls and young women say proudly that they like the control ”hookups” give them — control over their emotions, their schedules, and freedom to focus on things like schoolwork and career (the students she profiles in her book are high achievers).

But she says they frequently mistake that freedom for empowerment. ”I often hear girls say things like, ‘We can be as bad as guys now,”’ she says. ”But I don’t think that’s what liberation is all about.”

LDS leaders have also lamented the lack of young people dating any more and Elder Dallin H. Oaks has encouraged young singles to get dating and quit messing around just hanging out. If the author of the book just changed her advice to wait until marriage, she would be doing better.

Of course, this advice applies to the men too.

There is of course, some disagreement about how pervasive this culture is:

The debate over hooking up — how prevalent, how harmful — was neatly displayed not long ago in a high school classroom in Maclean, Va. Nancy Schnog, who teaches a course in adolescence to 12th-graders, was discussing Stepp’s findings.

”She hit the nail on the head,” one girl said, according to Schnog. ”She perfectly described our social climate.” Many agreed, but an equally vocal faction argued the opposite. ”This is totally overblown,” said another girl. ”Why do adults always stereotype our generation so negatively?”

At the University of Maryland, Robin Sawyer, who teaches a course on sexuality, finds Stepp’s book pretty much on target.

”Men have always hooked up,” says Sawyer. ”What you are seeing now is a desire of women to act in a masculine way, without being judged a whore.” He also finds that the ”hookup” vocabulary softens the impact of the behavior. ”’I hooked up with someone’ sounds a lot better than ‘I had oral sex with someone whose name I don’t even know,”’ says Sawyer, who is mentioned in Stepp’s book.

”Can you generalize from a few women? If you can find a criticism, it is probably that,” Sawyer said. ”But her thesis is pretty accurate. This is not
your grandparents’ generation.”

At least there is general agreement that there is a problem. What we call things does matter, you should not be surprised about the push for political correctness because the language used changes how we think about things.

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