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January 24, 2007
Dear Concerned Citizen,
by Jennifer Lahl

side bar side bar side bar side bar side bar side bar side bar It's human nature to want to explain away truths we'd rather ignore. Every morning millions of people convince themselves that the number on the bathroom scale simply can't be accurate. No fault divorce prevails as we no longer feel the need to fess up to what went wrong—we conveniently claim "irreconcilable differences". 21st century science is also ignoring truth in order to advance its biotechnology agenda. Unfortunately this agenda can be harmful and degrading to human dignity. Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about difficult issues can just be too inconvenient.

Take a look at recent debates around the reproductive industry's use (and abuse) of young women as harvested eggs sell for a premium to wealthy infertile couples and human cloning researchers. Many would rather ignore the truth that women have a limited number of eggs available to start their family. Most people don't know that in utero, females begin with about 7 million eggs. By the time a baby girl is born, the number of eggs she has drops dramatically to between 1 and 2 million. And by the time this young girl enters puberty, the number of available eggs drops again, down to approximately 300 give or take a 100 or so. That's some attrition rate!

The college girl who thinks that earning some quick cash selling her eggs may have to deal with an inconvenient truth when she finds herself prematurely infertile. Egg harvesting often removes up to 40 eggs at a time. Add in the fact that it is not uncommon for young women to sell their eggs more than once. It is inconvenient to face the truth that egg donation is apt to destroy a young woman's future fertility, leaving her with a grossly depleted supply of eggs by the time she has the chance to start a family of her own.

What is the value of one's fecundity? Is any amount of money adequate to compensate for the grave risks egg donors take? And is it really accurate to characterize this transaction as egg "donation"? Although it may be inconvenient to acknowledge, since money changes hands we are really talking about a booming business—not donation. We inconveniently have to talk about supply and demand, and what the market will bear.

And the egg "donation" business is booming! Lots of people are making lots of money brokering eggs. It is easier to talk about out of pocket expenses and lost wages than the value of an egg from a collegiate with a high SAT score and a good genetic heritage. As it relates to research and egg compensation, this discussion has been all too inconvenient because you cannot get good informed consent when money enters the discussion. As soon as money is on the table, informed consent gets coerced, manipulated and bought—often for a hefty price.

Finally, it's inconvenient to talk about the health risks to young women who subject themselves to very powerful hormones to hyperstimulate their ovaries and then undergo anesthesia and surgery to have their eggs removed via a needle injected through the vaginal wall. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can lead to stroke, organ failure and even death. Reproductive cancers such as ovarian cancer are also looming realities for young women undergoing egg harvesting procedures. It seems these are truths that we would rather not discuss. They might jeopardize the egg trade and cloning research.

It is much more convenient to swear that women have been properly and adequately informed of the risks. It is easier to minimize the risks and reclassify women diagnosed with OHSS. In the Human Reproduction Update Vol. 9, No. 3, 2003, Drs. M.A. Aboulghar and R.T. Mansour of the Egyptian IVF Center in Cairo, present a review of the classifications of OHSS. Since 1967, when Rabau et. al. first outlined the classification of OHSS listing three categories of mild to moderate and then severe OHSS; shifts have taken place. Navot et. al. in 1992 eliminated mild and moderate categories and distinguished two categories under severe OHSS--severe and critical. In 1999, Rizk and Aboulghar eliminated the mild category since mild forms of OHSS occur in most patients after ovarian stimulation.
How convenient.

Most women will suffer at least mild OHSS, so the egg donation business doesn't document and track these cases. She didn't get sick enough. Can you imagine any drug or surgical procedure which may cause, say a fever in most people, but because most people experienced fever, we just stop tracking and reporting that? If statistics impede "scientific progress", we just redefine them out of existence. We can convince the public and ourselves that all is well. But when we deny inconvenient truths, real people suffer very real harm.

Response to Secularism Triggers Muslim Rage:

It is true that Radical Islamists hate the secular West and wish to keep Western influence from invading Islamic culture. However, these Islamic radicals also hate Christians and Jews. They do not wish to spare either, but view both as inferior. Although, Muslims read some of the Old and New Testaments, they believe both to be corrupted. Could it be the Muslims view the secular West as a product of Christian ideology and faith which has led to the decadence we live in? Dinesh's attempt to bifurcate Christianity and the secular West is noble, but misses the point that Western Christianity is not biblical Christianity. Western Christianity is tepid, shallow and seduced by the very world the Islamists hate. We are the West. - R. C.

I find this whole line of thought to be stimulating. It surely does stimulate conversation! I recently received an e-mail from a person who was concerned that America strenghthen its borders with Mexico to keep terrorist operatives from entering our country. The subject line in his e-mail read "Enemy in our own backyard". I responded by sending along the To the Source interview with Mr. D'Souza, suggesting that our real enemy may just be us. Boy, did I get disagreement! It's hard for people to believe that our secular American lifestyle could be flawed. Our prosperity and success is so revered by many in this country that they refuse to see that what we do just might be offensive to non-Americans. And people are often sensitive to any argument that makes it look as if the 9/11 attacks were somehow our fault. But I myself find one part of Mr. D'neesh's argument troubling. I think many have already commented on it. He has said more than once that muslim regimes do not kill people just because they are Christians. In fact, they respect Christianity. I would like to believe that this is true, but I have heard too many news stories of Christian churches in muslim countries being burned and Christians there being persecuted...sometimes killed. Can these things be explained? I realize that Christian nations have killed people for centuries. But official, modern-day representatives of the Christian faith denounce such practices in our day and time. Are these muslim attacks on Jews and Christians also repudiated by some official muslim voice? Thanks,
- John R. White

I am 'way out of my league here with Mr. D'Souza as well as with the others who have replied, but I would like to see the issue of Islamic tirades against "people of the book" addressed as well as what I have been convinced is factual, that in some muslim countries the penalty for converting to Christianity is death, and the many accounts of the dangers of "smuggling" Christian literature and Bibles into those countries. - Kathy Gulbranson

While I agree with all the statements in the article, today I learned that as reported in the Jerusalem Post, Christians in Bethlehem are being discriminated against by Muslims: BETHLEHEM - A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city. The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears......... Bethlehem Christians claim persecution Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 25, 2007 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467807655&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter
- Dennis Riecke Brandon, MS

The recent article about the "source" of Islam's rage, by Dinesh D'Souza, leaves me wondering: why, then, the Muslim take-over of Europe centuries ago? Was it really for "anti-secularistic justice" then, as well? I guess it sounds a little convenient to blame "secularism." (Certainly, there are many of us in the western world who are appalled at secularism and materialism.) The Islamic Empire rode through Europe and the Middle East, conquering with a vengeance and insatiable feeding frenzy -- and all of this, in that day, clearly had nothing whatsoever to do with "secularism." Why does it have to be "secularism" now that drives them to attack and digest civilizations and religions unlike their own? I doubt it is simply "secularism" now, when that has not previously been the case. Could it be, still, "religious doctrinal lusts" and pride, rather than a noble war against immorality and materialism? Add to this observation of previous "motives" for bellicose behavior, the inconsistency of "moral war" the article suggests. How moral is a religion and boundry-less empire that engages in such immorality themselves? We would need cite only such facts as the Pakistan Supreme Court recently upholding their law that "four male witnesses must testify they were eye-witnesses to a rape was not the victim's fault -- or the woman can be prosecuted for adultery and shunned, after she was raped." is there not a known Islamic willingness amongst the extremists, unchecked by the Islamic political powers and voices, to murder, at will, and be rewarded with "paradise" for doing so. It doesn't REALLY seem as if "morality" in their motivation for attacking America and the West, though God certainly can't be pleased with these matters in the West. Perhaps it is not simply opposition to "secularism" that blows their windmill. Just a thought.
- Michael Peters

I am extremely concerned by the claims made by D'Souza in his article. Yes it is true that the cultural left has values that are different from, often opposed to those of the religious right within the U.S. I can also see that being exposed to these values through the products of our culture (Hollywood movies, popular music, television, etc.) may indeed feel threatening to both traditional and radical Muslims; just as it is to Christians within the U.S. D'Souza's analysis, however, does not offer any solution to this tension. In fact, I think that it increases tension by further polarizing the cultural left and the religious right within the U.S. and justifying the tendency of the religious right to blame the liberal left for societal problems. It is true that the democratic government system of the U.S. does not enforce the laws of any one religion, because it must protect the right of all of its citizens to religious freedom. To the extent that it shows no favor toward any one belief system it is secular, and it probably needs to be in order to perform its function effectively. The important fact that D'Souza is leaving out is that most of the opposition to imposing secular democracy on other countries is actually coming from the liberal cultural left! Liberals recognize that our system of government may not be the best fit for people of other cultures and are not interested in cloning the U.S. system in other nations where it is not welcome. It has been the conservative mindset that our system of economics and government is morally superior to other systems and that it is our moral imperative to assist other nations in adopting it. In any case, even if terrorists are partially motivated by the fact of secularism in the U.S., it is not appropriate to actively blame secularists for the threat of terrorism.
- Lelyn D. Saner

It seems to me that a major issue is whether or not Muslims should be allowed to judge the lifestyle of unbelieving western society. Should we really conduct our lives so as not to offend radical Muslims? Should we not equally be offended by the lifestyle of radical Muslims? Is it not more or less the case, that the only lifestyle acceptable to the radical Muslims who are appalled at modern American culture would be an Islamic one? I think it misses the point to argue about who is to blame for radical Muslim hatred: Christianity or Secularism. Clearly it is radical Muslims who are to blame. They must accept responsibility for their own behavior. Mature people cannot claim "the devil made me do it", but need to accept personal responsibility for their actions. No one is "making" these radicals kill thousands of innocent people (regardless if they see them as innocent or not). We will not be in Islam's good books just because we are Christian. As Christian's we are to stand for freedom and fairness (witness the homosexual debate; women's equal treatment, etc) which is supported by the Church. Clearly the actions of radical Muslims are to be condemned by both Secularism and Christianity. Christianity should unequivicably and publicly condemn thier actions as unnacceptable by any standards as should ALL non-radical Muslims. It just won't do to shift the blame for murder to those who are being murdered. I am not claiming all American actions are innocent; just that the idea that their irreverent lifestyle should be the basis of murder is completely and intollerably wrong--and radical Islam needs to hear that from both Secularism and Christianity.
- M.A. Smith

The thesis is entirely true, but only if we understand that the loudly Bible-bashing “Christianity” in the US is itself secular. They’re posers. Secularism is, literally, being of this age, of this saeculum. The flag-waving Christians of the US are definitely of this age, so identified with it that they cannot distinguish between this kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God which Jesus proclaimed, and which bears no relationship to the violent, self-righteous empires of this world, which are driven – the United States certainly among them – by the same godless questions they were driven by when Jesus spoke of them all in Matthew 6: What shall we eat? What shall we wear? How shall we secure our petroleum under their sand? How shall we make sure that we hit them before they get to even hit the first cheek, the words of Jesus be damned? So yes indeed, this is a battle between American Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism, because this is just as D’Souza describes it, a battle of secularism against Islam, and for that matter against the teaching and disciples of Jesus too. Whether the secularist is D. James Kennedy or Dick Cheney or the Freedom from Religion Foundation, their impact on a Muslim skin or on a Christian skin like mine is about the same – because they are the same. Their hope and life is in this world, and their deceitful, greedy, self-righteous, and murderous deeds prove it.
- P. A.

As a Muslim, I consistantly find D'Souza's arguements very convenient for his pocketbook as he continue to enjoy exhorbitant monetary benefits to convey messages that so clearly manipulate information to honest, practicing Christians in America who lack context on current global dynamics and are seeking to make some sort of sense out of what they see and hear on their televisions. He uses his knowledge of Islam in the global context and clearly twists information in order to make it work for his benefit. By appearing to act like he knows something about Muslims, he strikes a chord with Christians seeking anything that might seems reasonable. Although I do think that Americans do need to actually listen to what Bin Laden says and understand his ideology rather than dismissing him as a lunatic, but I also think it is dangerous to act as if Bin Laden speaks for a large portion of Muslims in the world. It's also dangerous to treat his words as if he is an Islamic scholar, because he is nothing of the sort. It is true that we Muslims consider followers of the teachings of the previous prophets of our Abrahamic tradition such as Moses and Jesus to hold equal standing to our final prophet Muhammad; and that the followers of their true teachings of the Oneness of God make them our Brothers and Sisters as "People of the Book." However, to essentially say that we Muslims are seeking mainstream American culture to become more politically right-wing is proposterous. D'Souza acts as if autrocities such as Slavery, the Crusades and exploitive colonialism occurred because of distorted Christian rationalizations. Many Muslims fear Christian right-wing ideology because we have seen that people's conviction has often led to ideologies that promote superiority and domination. Certainly, there has been a significant movement amongst many Christians who believe it is their duty to 'save' the rest of us who have not accepted Jesus as a 'Savior.' For us, there is a sense of "we know best" in that mentality that creates imposition when action follows. Muslims don't dislike American-supported leaders in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia because they are secular (D'Souza knows this). In fact, Saudi Arabia is run by radical fundamentalists that impose religion on people with very narrow interpretations of Islam. They dislike them because they are corrupt and suppress freedoms in their populations that they desire. This translates into people disliking American foreign policy, not necessarily American people. In fact, people in my experience really liked American people and gave them the benefit of the doubt until we re-elected Bush in '04. I appreciate that D'Souza highlighted our Islamic history of openness and tolerance; and I also appreciate that he discusses the danger of extreme secularism in American culture and what it can breed, but I personally think that using Bin Laden's ideology to justify the need for more right-wing Christianity is horrific to say the least. Seeking cultural and religious pluralism in America and in the world is a far greater method; especially since we Muslims have a history of pluralistic civilizations. The way forward, in my view, is without religious fundamentalism amongst anyone and without extreme secularism; but rather with ethically sound, pluralistic principles that advocates spirituality without imposing relgious doctrine on all of society.
- Amer Ahmed

In my humble opinion, Dinesh D’Souza is totally and completely wrong in his assessment of the anger of the Muslims. He claims it is because America is secular and is promoting secularism around the world. Admittedly America is more secular than ever in its history, and is rapidly becoming more so. But that is NOT the reason for the anger of the Muslims. The truth is they hate Christianity and the Jews. This IS definitely a religious war; it always has been and always will be until God comes and sets up His eternal Kingdom. History proves over and over it is a religious war. It has been ever since the Muslim religion came into existence. Mohammad hated the Jews ever since they rejected him as a new prophet and has attempted to annihilate them ever since. Look at current events – every place where the Muslims are in power and Christianity is in the same country, there is a concerted effort to destroy or convert the Christians. I could name country after country. If the Muslims were against secularism, then tell, why do they try to remove all Christians, who are the opposite of secularism, and anything Christian from their areas of influence? IT IS A RELIGIOUS WAR!! Sincerely,
- Rev. J. McCune

a fair article, but unfortunately, oversimplified. the author fails to note that under Islamic rule, Christians are second class citizens. there is the historical issue of dhimmitude, where Christians (and Jews) had to pay a jizya, or poll tax. their testimony in a court of law was worth only half of a Muslim's, they could not construct or repair churches, just to name two of a number of humiliations. as far as the Crusades go, I am an Eastern Catholic who knows well what the Crusaders did to Constantinole in 1215, so please leave me out of that.
- Jonn Mulry Chattanooga, TN

A member of our church has been forwarding your emails to me, which are quite interesting. I am very favorable to what I've seen and the direction of your emails. Before I encourage my congregation to get involved I'd like to know more, if possible, about who you are, association, etc. Thanks for your time and keep up the good work, - John Barber, Ph.D

As an Islamic missiologist teaching in an Evangelical College I wish I could teach Dinesh D’Souza’s premise that Islamic rage is primarily against secularism and not so much against Christianity, but I cannot; it is too simple a hypothesis. From the fall of Damascus in 635 until the defeat of Ottoman troops at the gates of Vienna in 1683, the same Muslim fundamental rage was alive and well and fiercely targeted against Christianity. Devout fundamentalists have always raged against (and in this order): Meccan polytheism, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Shias versus Sunnis, and since 1798, secularism. Following the March 1798 invasion of Napoleon of Egypt, classical Islam went into decline and lived dormantly with secularism until the OPEC cartel re-emerged in 1973. By then they had Islamic petrol dollars. Do not think, either, that the present Muslim rage against Israel has anything to do with their secularism. If all Israelis became devout Jews in 2007, the Muslims would still hate them as much, if not more. Do not think Muslim rage against the Americans in Afghanistan has anything to do with secularism. If the only troops in Afghanistan were Christians, do not think the Taliban would fight any less aggressively against them. Listen to Bin Laden and the Iranian clergy: they call us ‘Crusaders’ constantly and they then link the debased fruit of secularism at the feet of Christianity. In their minds, they are one and the same. Look at how many years Muslims lives with secularism in Turkey and Tunisia; the issue is less secularism than you suspect. I regret to say that history is not on D’Souza’s side and his present thesis is ‘a few sandwiches short of a picnic’; academically we call this a hasty generalization. Yes they hate secularism, but it is much more than that, much, much more. May I request you forward this response to Dr. Dinesh D’Souza (a delightful Portuguese name, I suspect!) I hope he goes much deeper in his research; much deeper. With sincere Christian greetings, - Benjamin Lee Hegeman

just read the article mentioned in the subject line. One of the things that I am concerned about in this and a few other articles that TTS has come out with recently is psuedointellectualism. One of the things that often differentiates true intellectuals from psuedointellectuals is how hard they work to include all aspects of the truth in their arguments. It is clear that, while Mr. D'Souza brings up some valid points regarding the secularism of the west and its being a focal point of the current conflict, secularism is not the only thing that "fundamental" Islam is prepared to fight. The current large-scale conflicts in Iraq, Afganistan, and Somalia overshadow the smaller-scale attacks against peaceful Christians in Muslim-dominated societies around the world. In many if not all of these places, the Muslims who behead, beat and maim Christians just because they are Christians seem to be fairly satisfied to live peacefully alongside those who are secular in their orientation. Mr. D'Souza misses the fact that the term "infidel," from a Muslim perspective, applies to anyone who does not affirm, "There is no god but Allah, and Mohommed is his prophet." Conservative ("fundamental") Muslims make this application to peaceful, loving, true Christians and Jews. I am not saying that any of this is a justification of the current conflict. I believe that history will bear out the observation that democracy in conservative Muslim society is not a stabilizing force and not an ideal worth dying for. The only ones who can bring true and lasting peace and stability to these places (or any other, for that matter) are those who truly follow Jesus Christ who said "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36) Jesus Christ -- not a caractature or cultural idea of Him -- is the only hope for solving the conflicts abroad and at home in our increasingly immoral, secularist society. - Matt Brown

I have to respectfully disagree with your last letter implying that Muslims favor Christians; it is primarily secularism that they fight. There are too many stories of Christians being targeted and persecuted and ostracized for their faith by Muslims. This persecution of Christians for their faith by Muslims continues on a signicant scale today. Here is some information I found online about the beliefs of Islam. These are quotes from their holy writings against Christianity and Judaism. Thank you. - T. H.

First of all, a recent commenter, along with the most recent tothesource article, both mentioned Sayyid Qutb. The BBC program referred to is a three part documentary called "The Power of Nightmares" and is freely available here: http://www.archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares As far as Dinesh D'Souza's latest article, yes it is true that this "war of ideologies", in the eyes of the Islamic extremists, is not between Islam and Christianity, but between Islam and Western (or American) secularism. When reading the article, it was not immediately obvious to me who it is in America that is actually confusing the two of these possibilities, but I give credit to D'Souza for trying to counter the confusion. However, with that said, there is a careful distinction that I think needs to be made regarding D'Souza's angle, and a line that need not be crossed when discussing this topic. We must make sure not to place ANY blame on any part of our general population for specifically the acts of violence that occurred on 9/11. This is of full responsibility of the twisted fundamentalist absolutist terrorists' viewpoints that they chose violence to solve their "imminent" problem instead of choosing another route. The blame for that particular choice should not lie on the shoulders of Americans. To state this another way, there is a difference between these Islamic extremists, choosing to see liberalism or secularism as an (or 'the' evil entity) and looking to counteract the problem violently, and the alternative to choice that they could make: to counteract the problem nonviolently. There are many nonviolent methods of fighting, and possibly solving, this type of problem, both within their own countries and throughout the world, without choosing to resort to violence. While this is quite an absolutist viewpoint in itself, I think that nonviolence has solved, and can continue to solve, the biggest problems throughout the world, and I am sure that both truly peace-loving Muslims and truly peace-loving Christians, whom each D'Souza indirectly praises, would both fully agree upon that. - M. E.

Your two most recent articles are somewhat lacking in information. While it may be true that there is a certain respect for Judaism and Christianity in the Islamic camp, it is not true that Islam is a peace with either. The respect, if indeed there is any true respect, comes from the legalistic basis of the Islamic religion. The conflict comes from the inherent differences. To say that Islam respects Judaism while we witness the steamroller movement toward destruction of Israel is nothing short of criminal denial of truth. By the same token while many religious structures claim to be "like Christianity" and at peace with it that only hold true until you begin to assert that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and the only way of salvation. To claim peace between Christianity and Islam from the Islamic side is to deny the simple fact that in any Muslim country in the world to convert is to die. It has not been but a few short years ago that a father in Saudi publicly shot his own teenage son for such a crime. Christians may not be harassed by Muslims in Islamic countries, but it is only because they are well confined to their own group and not permitted to evangelize at all. - William Lumry

My understanding is that Christians are routinely persecuted for their faith in many Islamic countries, and that conversion to Christianity by a Muslim is often a capital offense. Am I misinformed? If not, how can we characterize this conflict as merely anti-secularist? - Jerry

Oh right, they would be so much more at ease knowing that Crusaders like you were on the way to convert them to your brand of Christianity. Please. - G. S.

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We live complex lives. We strive to sort out priorities that sometimes conflict or seem incompatible. A moral framework is needed to help us understand the reality around us. Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides a framework to help us comprehend the choices we make and the conflicts that arise over them. It is not only the main source of our spiritual values, but also many of the secular values we depend on.

tothesource is a forum for integrating thinking and action within a moral framework that takes into account our contemporary situation. We will report the insights of cultural experts to the specific issues we face believing these sources will embolden people to greater faith and action.
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that features informed opinion on current cultural issues.
  Jennifer Lahl
Founder and National Director of CBC and Executive Director of the Bay Area CBC. Jennifer has her B.S. degree in Nursing from California State University at Fullerton and her M.A. degree in Bioethics from Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. She also serves on the North American Editorial Board of the international journal, Ethics and Medicine. Ms. Lahl is an adjunct fellow with Charles Colson's Wilberforce Forum and is a member of the Council for Biotechnology and Policy in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Lahl is the National Director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network and recently founded Every Woman First, Inc. which launched an international campaign of pro-choice and pro-life people called Hands Off Our Ovaries.
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