Update: MSDH confirmed to me that $1500 from the general fund was used for the room rental at the request of Governor Bryant and negotiated by Nycole Campbell-Lewis (member of the governor’s task force on reducing teen pregnancy) the ab-only teen pregnancy summit.
This is a snippet of the 15 minute video I took yesterday at the state funded/publicly funded teen pregnancy summit in Jackson headlined by Governor Phil Bryant. I couldn’t upload a full 15 minute video so had to take a screen grab. At around 3:45 mark – if you don’t want to watch the whole thing – you can begin watching for Gov. Bryant talking about:
- “Our Father” who art in heaven
- Holy miracle
- The Creator giving us sex to populate and repopulate the Earth*
Opening prayer given by a young woman, the Governor’s Christianity laced speech followed by dance performance to the Christian song which I believed (based on the chorus) was called Take Me to The King featuring mentions of Jesus, The King, laying at the throne, souls, etc.
Remember, this conference was paid for with public funds via the Mississippi Department of Health. This is reportedly because since the MSDH paid for the MS Women’s Fund Ab-Plus Conference which is within its purview and appropriate. However, it is unclear at this time what pot of money was used for the Governor’s summit. I have placed a call to the MDH to sort it out.
As I noted yesterday in my little video recap, it was not just the religious nature of this event that was legally dubious but the noted lack of preparation for the event. It was poorly attended, seemingly only served Jackson students and suggests a lack of real seriousness on the part of Governor Bryant to thoughtfully and effectively tackle the staggering teen birth rate in Mississippi.
*Repopulating the Earth has been of grave concern to the believers of the demographic winter for some time and recently Ross Douthat at the New York Times. Declining fertility rates have certain Christians concerned – very concerned. I wrote a tiny bit about this in a piece for Religion Dispatches on the myth of sex-selective abortion in the US:
- Steven Mosher is of special note as he was a vocal advocate and perhaps the inspiration for the 2008 PRENDA. As Hvistendahl writes: In 2008 [Mosher] posited to supporters that sex-selective abortion was the next logical battleground in the abortion war—not because it is inherently discriminatory and results in worsening status for women but because an “incremental approach” to restricting access to abortion is more workable than a flat-out ban. “I propose that we—the pro-life movement—adopt as our next goal the banning of sex-selective abortion.” And, as Kathryn Joyce has explained: Mosher, president of the Catholic anti-contraception lobbyist group Population Research Institute (PRI), describes his grim vision of Europe’s future: fields will lie fallow and economies will wither. A great depression will sink over the continent as it undergoes “a decline that Europe hasn’t experienced since the Black Death.” The comeuppance has a name, one being fervently hawked among a group of Christian Right “pro-family” activists hoping to spark a movement in secular Europe. It’s called the “demographic winter,” a more austere brand of apocalypse than doomsayers normally trade in, evoking not a nuclear inferno but a quiet and cold blanket of snow in which, they charge, “Western Civilization” is laying itself down to die.
FYI: The Mississippi Department of Human Service, not Department of Health, was sued by the ACLU several years ago for including religion in an abstinence rally. MSDH and MDHS are 2 different agencies.