SocietyWatch

From the August 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

America’s crime problem

Almost 1 percent of all adults in America are behind bars. According to a March 14 press release from Prison Policy initiative, approximately 2.2 million people are incarcerated in prisons, jails and detention centers across the nation. Despite a recent dip in the incarceration rate, the U.S. still imprisons a larger share of its population than any other nation.

America’s incarceration rate has tripled since 1950, when fewer than 300,000 people were incarcerated. According to data from the Prison Policy Initiative, more than 40 percent of America’s inmates sit behind bars for committing violent crimes such as murder, assault, rape and robbery. Another 20 percent were incarcerated for property crimes, such as burglary, theft and fraud. Another 20 percent were incarcerated on public disorder charges, such as drunk driving and illegal weapons possession. Most of the remaining 20 percent or so are in prison for drug-related charges. The vast majority of these were locked up for drug trafficking (not drug possession).

On any given day, only about 137,000 prisoners are serving sentences for drug-possession charges, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. Despite claims to the contrary, decriminalizing drug possession will not end mass incarceration. This is because the crimes resulting in mass incarceration are assault, murder, rape, robbery and theft—not drug possession.

Suicides surge across United States

Suicide rates in the United States increased by 25 percent between 1999 and 2016, according to data published on June 7 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 45,000 people killed themselves in 2016, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in America. Relationship problems were listed as the most common factor driving people to suicide, ahead of substance abuse, financial problems and health problems. All these contributing factors point to the fact that suicide is more than a physical problem: It is a spiritual problem. Fundamentally, it comes from a lack of understanding of the real value and potential of human life.

Boy Scouts pass out contraception

The Boy Scouts of America will comply with a World Organization of the Scout Movement regulation to provide condoms at the upcoming World Scout Jamboree, according to a statement issued by the vice chairman of the World Scout Committee on May 22. This policy has been in place for the past two Scout Jamborees, but has garnered media attention this year due to a number of policy changes made by the Boy Scouts over the past five years.

In 2013, the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow boys openly involved in homosexual activity into the organization. In 2015, the Boy Scouts voted to end a ban on homosexual Scout leaders. In 2017, the Boy Scouts voted to allow girls who have had transgender operations or who identify as boys into the program. In 2017, the Scouts announced plans to admit girls into the program. In 2019, the Boy Scouts of America will change its name to Scouts bsa.

Since 2002, the World Organization of the Scout Movement has required that condoms be made available at the World Scout Jamboree, which is held every four years. The Bible forbids fornication, adultery and homosexuality. The Boy Scouts pledge to be “morally straight,” but Scout leaders are showing that at the next Jamboree in 2019, premarital sex is expected, acceptable and provided for.

California bill could criminalize the Bible’s view on homosexuality

California is preparing to pass a law that classifies “reparative therapy” as a fraudulent business practice. The California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2943 on April 19 by a vote of 50 to 18. If this bill becomes law, it will make it illegal to advertise or sell counseling services to people who want to overcome confusion about their gender or who want to change their homosexual attraction. It is already illegal in California to sell reparative counseling to a minor. This bill aims to expand the ban to include adults and will become law if it passes the state senate and is signed by the governor.

Assemblyman Evan Low, the homosexual lawmaker who introduced the bill to the state assembly, says reparative therapy is harmful and should be outlawed. But other lawmakers worry that this bill aims to censor free speech and infringe upon religious freedom by punishing and muzzling discussion concerning gender confusion.

Assemblyman Low told skeptics that the bill does not impede freedom of speech or religion because it applies only to commercial and financial transactions. Therefore, as long as no financial transaction takes place, pastors and therapists can still counsel people about how to overcome gender confusion (even though Low also simultaneously says that such therapy is “harmful” and “unnecessary”). But Christian groups have pointed out that a ban on advertising or selling services that help a person overcome gender confusion and same-sex attraction could be broadly interpreted to ban the sale of certain books, including the Bible.