Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux is a writing fellow at the Prospect. Her email is ameliatd@prospect.org

Recent Articles

No Sushi for You, Pregnant Lady

Zippaparazza/Flickr
For pregnant women, a trip to the pregnancy-advice section of their local bookstore can be an overwhelming experience. The shelves are stacked high with suggestions and prohibitions for expectant mothers in a nine-month period when everything they do seems to matter. Using hair dye, drinking alcohol or coffee, gardening without gloves, or riding a bike are just a few no-nos on a long list. If women slip up, the consequences seem immense. “You’ve got nine months of meals and snacks with which to give your baby the best possible start in life,” the authors of What to Expect When You’re Expecting write. “Try to make them count. As you raise fork to mouth, consider: ‘Is this a bite that will benefit my baby?’” The problem is, pregnancy-advice books often contradict each other. (Is fish a pregnancy superfood, or a mercury-laced toxin? Is peanut butter a delicious, protein-filled snack or a guarantee that your child will have peanut allergies?) Many aren’t written by experts— What to Expect...

Jesus Voted against Your Sins

Flickr/Fibonacci Blue
To hear some Republican politicians tell it, churches are locked in an epic struggle with tax agents over their right to free expression. In a July interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky declared that religious leaders should “be bold and challenge” a 1954 law that prevents tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing political figures, making donations to their campaigns, fundraising for them, or engaging in any other activities that may help (or hurt) a candidate. Ultra-conservative Representative Steve King also jumped on the bandwagon earlier this month in a speech in Iowa, urging pastors to “defy” the Internal Revenue Service. “If we can’t preach the word in America,” he said, “where can we preach it?” Despite Republicans’ embattled attitude, the IRS has shown remarkably little interest in punishing religious leaders who violate the law on political speech. Although nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that churches should not be...

Washington's Weed Whackers

For most of Stephanie Kahn’s life, medical marijuana was a tempting remedy that remained just out of reach. Her father, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, was told by doctors as early as the 1970s that medical marijuana could alleviate his symptoms. At first, he was repelled by the idea of using an illegal drug. But as the pain and muscle spasms grew worse, he eventually tried marijuana and found that, as the doctors said, it provided almost-miraculous relief. Decades later, when her mother was undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, Kahn, a nurse, heard the same refrain. “She lost 45 pounds in a month and a half,” she recalls. “And the doctor kept saying, marijuana could help her handle the chemo, could help her get her appetite back.” Months after her mother’s death in 2009, Kahn’s husband of 37 years, Jeffrey, a Reform Jewish rabbi who had retired from congregational ministry a few years earlier, floated an unorthodox idea: What if they opened a medical marijuana dispensary? “...

The End of the Evangelical Era

GOP presidential hopefuls are still kissing the rings of Christian conservative leaders in Iowa. But it's an increasingly empty ritual.

Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Saturday, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz, two of the many candidates whose names are being bandied about for the 2016 presidential race, made a pilgrimage to Iowa to speak at the Family Leadership Summit. There, as part of a nine-hour marathon of speeches to an audience of 1,500 evangelical Christians, Cruz and Santorum joined a host of conservative politicians and public figures—including Donald Trump, that standard-bearer of wingnuttery—in lambasting Obamacare, the Internal Revenue Service, and the GOP establishment. Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Senator Cruz, spoke vividly and at length about liberals’ attempts to turn the country into a socialist paradise. “Socialism requires that government becomes your god,” he said. “That’s why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to government. That’s what’s behind homosexual marriage.” More than highlighting the candidates and issues that will drive the 2016 primaries, the event illustrates...

Promises Aren't Enough to Deter Campus Sexual Assault

As a recent report at Yale shows, voluntary resolution agreements won't stop rape.

Flickr/CanWeBowlPlease
Flickr/CanWeBowlPlease O n a blistering day in mid-July, several dozen college students rallied on an unshaded plaza in front of the Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., wearing their schools’ colors and carrying megaphones. When Martha J. Kanter, the undersecretary of education, heard their shouting and emerged from the air-conditioned building, they handed her a stack of boxes containing a petition with more than 100,000 signatures. The petition called on the government to take a more punitive stance against universities that fail to protect survivors of sexual assault. These schools, the document declared, are in violation of Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in higher education. The rally was just one part of a growing national movement of college students, alumni, and faculty who are fed up with universities’ unwillingness to reform their policies on sexual violence, which they say punish survivors for reporting assaults and...

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