Tag Archive for government

The Truth About Elections

Elections bring out the best and the worst of us

It is amazing to watch how some people view and participate in the electoral process. The views and slogans that are expressed run from doom and gloom to a chicken in every pot. The political process is a window on the collective soul of our nation and it shows us for what we really are.

As I look into this political window, I see some things that give me pause. For instance, there are many Christians who are genuinely anxious about the outcome of this election. While it is important to be concerned and involved, to be anxious about elections is misguided. Christians have a higher and better citizenship that should hold their allegiance.

I have watched with great interest the actions of many involved in the Tea Party movement. These people are not extremists but people who care deeply about their country. Unfortunately many of these people believe the power over their lives rests in Washington D.C. While it is true that the government is powerful and it is out of control, it is a drop in the bucket and a pawn in the grand narrative of God’s sovereign plan.

As you go to vote and then hurry home to watch the returns, let me encourage you with the following truth from God’s word:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
(Proverbs 21:1 ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

Is Government Sponsored Prayer Unconstitutional?

Our founding fathers invariably were theists. They all believed in the Judeo-Christian God even if many of them never professed faith in Jesus Christ. To say that this country was not founded in the respect of and desire to pray to God is to be woefully misinformed. Time does not permit me to lay before you the multitudinous quotes of the founding fathers extolling the virtues of prayer and the danger of its neglect.

The ruling of U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Ma­di­son, Wisconsin that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional strikes me as very odd. She cites the basis for her decision resting on her interpretation of the First Amendment that states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

I am confident that the good judge knows more of and understands the Constitution much better than I, but I don’t understand how having a national day of prayer establishes a religion. Her ruling seems faulty for a number of reasons two of which I will share. First, reading the notes of the founders and in particular Thomas Jefferson’s explanation of the first amendment in a letter sent to the Danbury Baptists clearly shows that this prohibition is against congress establishing a state church. The concern was about sectarianism something that this national day of prayer stays away from altogether. Second, almost every recognized form of religion believes in some kind of prayer. Prayer is just as common to the Muslim as it is to the Christian as it is to the Zoroastrian. Prayer in and of itself is in no way sectarian and doesn’t establish one religion over another.

Judge Crabb’s ruling gives fodder to those who would argue that she is in fact respecting the establishment of the religion of secularism. The religiosity of secularism can be easily documented according to the activities, writings, and attitudes of its adherents. Whereas prayer is not unique to any religion, avoidance of prayer is unique to secularism. So by ruling against the national day of prayer is she violating the wisdom and the very Constitution that she is attempting to uphold?

In the end, Christians should not look to government to sanction or censure prayer. We don’t get our rights from the government. Our rights come from God. The founders knew this and they built this thinking into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Its sad to see that some justices like Justice Crabb seem to think of nationally sponsored prayer as unconstitutional but that in no way should hinder the fervency and frequency of our prayers. It should in fact increase it.

The Healthcare Bill Isnt That Bad…Right?


“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

– Albert Camus

I’m sure that there are many well-meaning people out there who are asking, “Whats so bad about the government helping poor people have health insurance”? In truth, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help poor people providing the money used to do it is voluntarily given and those receiving it are truly deserving and that it is given in an efficient and responsible manner (which i might add the federal government is incapable of doing). Leaving those concerns aside, the healthcare bill that our President just signed into law uses your tax dollars to fund abortions.

But what about Stupak and the Hyde amendment? Well, you know what they say, Stupak is as Stupak does, or in other words the Stupak show was nothing but that-a show. The wording of this law and the farcical executive order that followed it have done nothing to enforce any genuine prohibition on spending tax dollars for elective abortions. Matthew Anderson at First Things has brilliantly demonstrated this point in a post entitled A Final FAQ on Healthcare and Abortion:

But isn’t this bill covered by the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortions?

If it was, what is all the wrangling about? You could be assured that Stupak wouldn’t have held out for months for redundant language in the bill. But as John McCormack (an invaluable source) points out:

But the Hyde amendment does not say that “none of the funds channeled through HHS” may pay for elective abortions; it says “none of the funds appropriated by this act” may pay for elective abortions. A Hyde-like amendment needs to be included in each different act authorizing public health programs, or the programs will end up paying for abortions, just as Indian Health Services did long after the Hyde amendment was on the books.

In other words, no. The bill isn’t subject to the Hyde amendment.

So Stupak solved this with the Executive Order, right?

If you want to think that, you go ahead. But you’ll be lonely. No one, Left or Right, agrees with you. Including Bart Stupak.

But if you’re still not convinced, there are three problems with it:

1) It’s not clear that the language actually adds anything to the bill itself. Ezra Klein (a lefty commentator) thinks that it essentially promises to enforce the bill…as it’s written. Which is a pretty plausible reading of it.

2) While executive orders may have the force of law, they cannot alter the laws on the books.

3) Again, given Beal v. Doe, the federal government is 0bligated to provide abortions as a part of comprehensive health services in the absence of laws prohibiting it. Given that the Executive Order is not in fact the law, a court challenge will have to nullify the Executive Order in favor of the bill as its written. And if you don’t expect that court challenge to come quickly after the appropriations are received, you’re dreaming.

So is this law bad? Well, if you believe that the blood of the unborn is a fair payment for insurance coverage then you should be tickled pink. For the rest of you like me who see the horror of this law, we have a big fight ahead of us and this is no time for the sunshine patriot. Yes, Mr. Paine said it best when he penned the immortal words, These are the times that try mens souls.”

HT: Justin Taylor

The Manhattan Declaration

manhattandeclarationLast week some very influential Evangelical and Catholic church leaders signed a joint statement affirming the sanctity of human life, marriage as defined by the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and freedom of conscience. This statement is called the Manhattan Declaration. I am posting an executive summary here for you all to read. Please consider attaching your name to this historic document by going to www.manhattandeclaration.org.

Here are a short list of those who have already endorsed the declaration:

  • Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Diocese of Washington, D.C.
  • Harry Jackson Jr., Bishop, Hope Christian Church
  • Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Diocese of Philadelphia
  • Timothy George, Professor, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University
  • Chuck Colson, Founder, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
  • Ron Sider, Professor, Palmer Theological Seminary and Director of the Seminary’s Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy
  • George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family

Here is the executive summary:

Manhattan Declaration Executive Summary

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Human Life

The lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are ever more threatened. While public opinion has moved in a pro-life direction, powerful and determined forces are working to expand abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Although the protection of the weak and vulnerable is the first obligation of government, the power of government is today often enlisted in the cause of promoting what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” We pledge to work unceasingly for the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in conscience, take the same stand.

Marriage

The institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at risk of being redefined and thus subverted. Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise. The impulse to redefine marriage is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil law as well as our religious traditions. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. Marriage is not a “social construction,” but is rather an objective reality – the covenantal union of husband and wife – that it is the duty of the law to recognize, honor, and protect.

Religious Liberty

Freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized. The threat to these fundamental principles of justice is evident in efforts to weaken or eliminate conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, and in anti-discrimination statutes that are used as weapons to force religious institutions, charities, businesses, and service providers either to accept (and even facilitate) activities and relationships they judge to be immoral, or go out of business. Attacks on religious liberty are dire threats not only to individuals, but also to the institutions of civil society including families, charities, and religious communities. The health and well-being of such institutions provide an indispensable buffer against the overweening power of government and is essential to the flourishing of every other institution – including government itself – on which society depends.

Unjust Laws

As Christians, we believe in law and we respect the authority of earthly rulers. We count it as a special privilege to live in a democratic society where the moral claims of the law on us are even stronger in virtue of the rights of all citizens to participate in the political process. Yet even in a democratic regime, laws can be unjust. And from the beginning, our faith has taught that civil disobedience is required in the face of gravely unjust laws or laws that purport to require us to do what is unjust or otherwise immoral. Such laws lack the power to bind in conscience because they can claim no authority beyond that of sheer human will.

Therefore, let it be known that we will not comply with any edict that compels us or the institutions we lead to participate in or facilitate abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that violates the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family.

Further, let it be known that we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.

Further, let it be known that we will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political, regardless of the consequences to ourselves.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Please consider signing the declaration posted at www.manhattandeclaration.org.