“Global acceptance of family planning would alleviate much of the stress on the environment!”
By Dr. John J. Hidore
January 10, 2017—-As the year 2017 begins, Earth’s population is in turmoil. People the world over are protesting against unemployment, poverty, hunger, disease and drastic environmental change. A key to reducing this global turmoil is to slow, stop, or reverse population growth, but there is tremendous pressure to support a growing population. There are groups that thrive on population growth and spend large sums of money to support this growth.
Organized religions are a major contributor to population growth. The strength of organized religions is in the number of their adherents. Since their power lies in their numbers, they encourage large families and oppose family planning, including birth control. Population growth might be slowed substantially in just a few years if it were not for organized religions.
The two major religions in terms of membership are Christianity and Islam. There are about 2.1 billion adherents of Christianity. The holy book of Christianity is the Bible, which does not address the issue of family planning. Within Christianity there are many different organized churches. The largest is the Catholic Church with approximately 1.2 billion members. The Catholic Church has long considered any kind of birth control to be a sin and this has been reiterated by Pope Francis. Other Christian churches also support rules against abortion and the use of contraceptives. There is considerable debate now among Evangelical churches. Many do not condone contraception. Others do support it and are leading a movement to accept it as church doctrine.
There are approximately 1.5 billion followers of Islam. The Islamic holy book is the Quran. The Quran does not prohibit family planning. It does not formally address the issue. Some forms of contraception have been in use in Islamic countries since the origin of Islam. In today’s world the followers of Islam have a wide variety of choices of birth control.
In some countries where Islam is the prevalent religion contraceptive use among women is as high as 70%. Islam has strict rules that prohibit sexual relations before marriage. It views sexual relations between husband and wife as an expression of love and is encouraged. However, prohibition of contraception has grown as a means of increasing the followers of Islam. Individual countries or sects are prohibiting contraception for a variety of reasons.
National and Tribal Interests
In some religions and geographical areas the use of birth control methods is considered a crime. A case in point is the nation of Iran. In 2016 the government declared the use of contraceptives to be a criminal act. Even in some secular countries there are laws that make abortion a crime of murder, even to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape.
A number of European countries have become concerned about their declining birthrate. Among them are Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Italy. The populations of these countries, as in many European countries, is aging due to the low birth rates. The number of residents over the age of 65 is nearly double the world average and is expected to increase. This has major economic and social impact on these countries. Denmark has introduced education concerning the implications of having vs. not having children.
Many religious policies are responsible for much of the rapid growth in population and human stress. The self-interest of religions is more important in some countries than the welfare of the human population or the condition of the environment. It is time the effect of these policies should be made clear and the policies made subject to re-evaluation.
The stress of population growth adds to the stress on our environment. Each day without action increases the probability of a global human disaster. Global acceptance of family planning would alleviate much of this and contribute positively to human health, especially that of women!