Paul, Prison, and the President


AN ANCIENT PRINCIPLE

The Apostle Paul was once set free from prison, but he wouldn’t go. Paul did not leave the jail which held him in Philippi until he had first asked for the magistrates to come to him in person (Acts 16:16ff.).  Why the unnecessary stay?

Persecution Prison Theology ChinaStudents of the New Testament recognize the Apostle Paul as a man seriously concerned with justice and righteousness. The righteousness of God was a primary motivation in Paul’s life (Rom 5:20-21). Possibly, righteousness had something to do with Paul’s extended stay in Philippi, too. God’s justice expects justice from men. So Paul conducted a bit of a “sit in” until justice was served.

In the face of suffering injustice from the Roman rulers, Paul made a specific point to force the righting of a legal wrong in Philippi. Luke records the incident (Acts 16:37):

And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.”  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.”

The magistrates were alarmed by the report that Paul would not leave (v. 38). They showed up in person to apologize to Paul and Silas. They then asked Paul and Silas politely to leave the city—which, of course, they did with no further incident.

Christians today may justifiably follow the pattern of Paul and call our governing authorities to account for injustice. Christians will sometimes sense an obligation to hold non-believers to the standard of justice which they themselves have set. In Philippi, a Roman city, it was illegal to beat and imprison a Roman citizen without a trial. Paul and Silas called the magistrates to own their wrong actions.

The gospel was new in Philippi, and Paul was its most celebrated advocate. If he were treated as a criminal, then, perhaps, other Christians would be viewed with suspicion. Paul was likely taking his stand (or keeping his seat in prison) for the sake of the gospel, the church, and the corporate witness of these early Christians. Because of Paul’s courage and conviction, future generations of believers would have a greater likelihood of being protected by justice.

Christians more and more are having occasion to point out injustice. We will benefit from thinking thoroughly about when and how to protest wrongs committed against us. Once the apology or correction is made, we must not gloat or glory. Instead, we (like Paul and Silas) should go about the gospel’s business:

“So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed” (Acts 16:40).

IN AMERICAN PRACTICE

The Obama Administration has sustained a consistent assault on the historic concept ofObama Obamacare Abortion religious liberty. Four years ago, I pointed out how the first amendment was morphing into something less like the constitution and more like the Communists ruling China. More recently, Ed Whelan has listed several examples of the current administration’s active attempts to rewrite the First Amendment and restrict religious activity in the U.S.

  • In the international arena, the administration has reduced religious liberty to a shriveled concept of individual religious worship and has instead aggressively promoted its LGBT initiative at the expense of religious liberty. See, e.g., Thomas F. Farr, “Religious Freedom Under the Gun,” Weekly Standard, July 16, 2012.
  • In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC (2012), the Department of Justice contested the very existence of a “ministerial exception” to federal anti-discrimination laws, despite the fact that that exception had been uniformly recognized by the federal courts of appeals. According to the Obama Department of Justice, religious organizations, in selecting their faith leaders, are limited to the same freedom-of-association right that labor unions and social clubs have in choosing their leaders. At oral argument, even Justice Kagan called DOJ’s position “amazing,” and in its unanimous ruling the Court emphatically rejected DOJ’s “remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.”
  • Despite the fact that its own independent review board ranked the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops far above other applicants for a grant to assist victims of human trafficking, HHS political appointees denied the grant because USCCB won’t refer trafficking victims for contraceptives and abortion. See Jerry Markon, “Health, abortion issues split Obama administration and Catholic groups,”Washington Post, Oct. 31, 2011.
  • Against the backdrop of an escalating clash between gay rights and religious liberty, the Obama administration irresponsibly abandoned its duty to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. When President Obama finally cast aside his professed opposition to redefining marriage, he opened the way for an intensification of the vitriolic attacks on traditional religious believers (and others) who continue to hold the position that he had so recently claimed to embrace.
    (Ed Whelan, testimony before congress).

Whelan’s list offers a clear testimony to the increasing likelihood that Christians will run afoul of those enforcing the new tolerance.  As with Paul and Silas, Christians today may sense the need to speak up, to take a stand, or take a seat in prison, waiting for justice to arrive. Law professor Richard Epstein has recently written about one such Christian—Barronelle Stutzman.

(to be continued…)

Christians Should Fight Obamacare (and the HHS Mandate)


The Family Research Council is calling on Christians to pray for those who are filing lawsuits against the Health and Human Services mandate. The mandate—which is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)–states that all employers must provide “preventative” care to all women.  The word “preventative” must be put in quotes because the Obamacare definition of the word is misleading.

When it comes to providing contraceptives in healthcare, the word preventative is a reference to preventing pregnancy, right?  In Obamacare, the meaning of preventative Obama approve hhs mandate against religious libertyis twisted like a Chinese acrobat to mean preventing children from being born. The HHS mandate in Obamacare calls on all employers (Christian, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Jewish) to provide both contraceptive drugs and abortifacient drugs. Contraceptive drugs prevent babies from being conceived (preventing pregnancy), while abortifacient drugs prevent babies (who have been conceived) from being born. That is an enormous difference and an unbearable burden for the conscientious believer who believes in the sanctity of human life.

Obamacare mandates that all employers fund abortion-inducing drugs.  President Obama’s view on abortion is extremely liberal, even to the point of allowing infanticide (which is killing or “allowing” babies born to die). Sadly, such views are now enshrined in our law and are imposed upon Christians who run businesses.

Thankfully, about thirty Christian employers have filed lawsuits against this injustice. One case (the O’Brien case) has been thrown out by a federal judge who does not believe that providing baby-killing drugs is a substantial burden on the employer.  Hopefully, the other cases (like Hobby Lobby and Tyndale Publishing) will fare better in the courts.

Some Christians would prefer to stay above the fray, as though there is a pristine approach to living Christianity without becoming embroiled in politics. I think such an approach is un-loving and too aloof to be considered gospel-worthy.  We are called to be salt and light. Failing to challenge injustice takes the sting out of our salt and the brightness out of our light. There are three reasons Christians must fight the injustice of Obamacare.

First, this injustice defies God. If anything, God is the God of life. He is the consummate life-giver. Every living thing is God’s personal creation (Genesis 1; John 1).  Every living creature gets his breath from God (Acts 17:28; Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus repeatedly referred to Himself as the life (John 11:25; John 14:6). God is decidedly pro-life. Death is a curse which entered because of sin (Genesis 3); and murder is the work of the evil one himself (John 8:44).  Abortion does not prevent pregnancy; it prevents a conceived human baby from being born. It kills a baby. That is not from God.  Abiding quietly by the practice for the sake of not “being political” is cowardice in the face of innocent children being slaughtered.

Second, Christians must fight this ungodly mandate for the sake of the 3,000 souls which enter eternity every single day through abortion.  Phil Keaggy wrote an apropos song which simply asks, “Who will speak up for the little ones?”  If not Christians, then who?  Those who know the author of life must speak for the little ones who do not yet have a voice.

Third, the view that Christians should not engage in political issues fails to understand the significance of being a Christian in America. Religious liberty is a fundamental (First Amendment) right for Americans, including Christian Americans.  Though Christians are to be first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom, we are also—at the same time—citizens of the USA.  As a result, we serve as standard bearers for freedom in the world. When freedoms are lost in the USA, they are also lost also in Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, China, and North Korea.  We have a responsibility to the world. If freedom falls here, it will fall everywhere. It is the United States of America which tells the world that people should be free to worship and serve according to dictates of their own consciences. If we stop telling the world that people should be free, then who else will? The U.N? China?

In my opinion, we should be in prayer for those filing lawsuits against Obamacare and its ungodly mandate to fund abortion. We should pray that justice would prevail and that babies would be saved and that Christians around the world would be free to live out the gospel for the sake of humankind.

Study Indicates America Losing Freedom of Religion


 

My posts recently have shown a growing concern for the loss of religious freedom in America. Unfortunately, the trend away from liberty is global. Since 2008, the number of countries with severe restrictions on religious liberty has increased by 23 percent, according to the extensive new study recently released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

This new study, titled “The Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion,” details global hostilities against religion. It is a

Religious Freedom down Hostility Up

Freedom Down, Hostility Up

treasure trove of bad news for worshiping people, showing an ever-increasing number of countries elevating hostilities against people of faith.

Since President Barack Obama took office, several countries he has invested in have also lost freedom.  Russia (the “reset button”), Afghanistan (the “real”war), Indonesia (Obama’s boyhood home), and the Palestinian territories—have all been recipients of administration outreach and have all increased in hostility toward religion over the course of President Obama’s tenure.

It would be foolish to assert that President Barack Obama is responsible for the rising tide of hostility toward religion, but it is factual to say that the President’s efforts have not helped to make these countries any freer for people of faith. Personally, I wonder whether the hostility toward Christianity in America isn’t spreading to the rest of the world. There was a time when America was a beacon of freedom, calling other nations to a higher standard of liberty. Now, however, America is sliding away from genuine First Amendment freedom. Thus, it is no surprise that others are, too.

For the first time since the Pew Forum has been publishing this report, religious hostilities have increased in the U.S.  In addition, restrictions against religion continue to increase in the USA.  Could it be that restrictions against religion facilitate hostility toward religion?

 

America Looking More Like China on Religious Liberty


There are two major stories whose trajectories are coalescing toward a permanent loss of religious liberty in the United States. The first story is the on-going saga known affectionately as Obamacare. The second story is more subtle, under the radar, but perhaps more damaging in its scope. It is the story of code enforcement. Let me explain these in order.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed in June 2010. Certain provisions did

Obama Signing Healthcare Law Obamacare into effect

President Obama Signing Obamacare Law

not take effect immediately. One of those delayed provisions was the Health and Human Services mandate for contraceptive coverage. Now that this mandate is in effect, businesses and other entities nationwide are suing the federal government to demand an exemption on the basis of conscience.

The latest business to join in the lawsuits is Hobby Lobby. They are the first evangelical Christian business to join the fray, but hopefully they will not be the last. In all, there are 27 different lawsuits in the courts on this issue.  The objection is to the mandate’s insistence that all companies (and Christian schools) provide insurance coverage (without co-pay) for abortifacient drugs like the morning after pill or the week after pill.

The Obama administration is arguing two basic points germane to religious liberty. First, they argue that Christians must abandon their religious liberty when they choose to enter the commercial marketplace. This argument is based on their second argument, which is that religious liberty extends only to official houses of worship, not to individuals in their diurnal affairs. In other words, religious liberty (according to the Obama administration) means an American can go to a facility on Sunday and do his worship thing there without government interference (except for the aforementioned tax code restrictions), but he mustn’t think his liberty extends beyond the building.

The Obama administration clearly does not believe in religious liberty at all.  Instead, they believe in restricting religious liberty to “houses of worship” only.  Arguing for this view of religious liberty would be like arguing that a prisoner is actually free because he can do whatever he wants (inside his cell).  This is a radical departure from American history and reflects more of a communist view of religious freedom than an American one.

Communist Chinese flagIn China, for example, Christians are “free” to join the public, Three-Self Patriotic Church and worship there—in that “house of worship.”  They are not free to gather in homes or worship elsewhere. They certainly are not free to carry their Christianity into the workplace or the university. The defense of the Health and Human Services mandate of Obamacare rests upon such a demolition of religious liberty.

In addition to the Obamacare drama unfolding, there is a second stream of American stories all pointing to the same enslaving end. There is a rash of code enforcers around the nation taking aim at house church gatherings. We have seen instances of this in Illinois, California, Arizona, and now it has come to Florida as well.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, is representing the Florida couple who is being threatened with a $250/day fine for having a small group (6-10) in the home for a Bible study.

Dacus says, “They are having a specific problem with this family solely because they are having family and friends over to read the bible and pray.  That may be fine in some tyrannical parts of the world. That is not okay in the United States of America.”

The idea behind the code enforcers is the same as the idea promoted by President Obama: Keep your Christian God in a box. Go to your church building and do the Christian thing, but don’t bring the subject up at your work or your home. This is a Communist view of freedom, which, of course, means this is no freedom at all.

Code by code, insurance plan by insurance plan, America is shutting out its Christian past and killing the concept of liberty and justice for all.

What Should We Think About Stories of Slaughtered Christians in Syria?


Politically, it would be easy to find fault with some of the decisions being made in our foreign policy.  Many politicians have in fact been critical of President Obama, calling for more serious action to be taken in Assyria (Joe Lieberman and John McCain are but two examples).

Indeed, many websites are quickly seizing on opportunities to criticize the Obama Administration. Below, I offer you just one example from the stories on Christian persecution which call us to caution on Syria.

Christians are being wiped out in Syria.  They are being targeted specifically for destruction.  But who is targeting them?

According to some reports, troops supported by the Obama Administration are responsible for the annihilation of Christians in Homs.  However, almost all of the reports coming out of the area are tied to only two sources: Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos or Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross.  The former’s credibility as a Catholic spokesman has been questioned and the latter is known as an apologist for the Assad regime.

CNN offers a good description of the scene along with the admission that it is not possible for them to verify any of the reports they have received because of the restrictions the government has put on reporting and foreign press.

At the end of it all, it seems impossible right now for us to know what is happening in Syria through traditional news sources.  The only thing we know for sure is that Christians are being slaughtered—all accounts agree on this grim point.  There is just no way to know who exactly is doing the slaughtering.

Who Is Right About Tim Tebow, Me or President Obama?


Gregory C. Cochran

The NFL season begins in just one month. So, plenty of stories will be generated from how well (or how poorly) Tim Tebow plays.  Getting a jump on the competition, President Barack Obama told a radio audience yesterday that he thought the Tebow trade was a mistake (See President Obama Weighs in on Tebow, Sanchez).

I have re-posted an article below in which I explain why Tim Tebow is a high caliber NFL quarterback (despite his shortcomings).  I have made a few corrections and updates because the original article was written while Tebow was a Bronco.  The data still holds true, and I still believe the Jets will be glad to have Tim Tebow. –I offer one piece of evidence in MY favor at the end of the post.

TEBOW NOT THE BEST, BUT NOT BAD AT ALL

Tim Tebow is not the best quarterback in the NFL. He…

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Chen Ups and Downs


UPDATE:

Poor Chen Guangchen. His case is reportedly moving along, but the answers are not coming to some serious questions about Chen’s future. Will there be retribution for those who helped Chen escape? Will he actually be permitted to leave the country? How is his health? Apparently, the U.S. Embassy has abandoned Chen. It is difficult to get information, and many folks, apparently, have lost interest in Chen’s case. Thankfully, Jennifer Rubin is still on the case and files this report for the Washington Post.  There is one bit of ominous news in her story–a journalist trying to cover the story has been expelled from China.

There are more ups and downs to Chen Guangchen’s life right now than you’d find on a Coney Island roller coaster.  It seems that Chen’s fate is all or nothing now. Supposedly, he is going to be allowed to leave China. The latest report says that Chen may be allowed to leave with his family and attend New York University as a fellow.  That would definitely be the up-side to this dilemma.

Realistically, though, Chen may never leave China. His closest friends and counselors admit that Chen is afraid, even while more popular news accounts see light dawning which points toward his freedom from China.  Honestly, there are three aspects of this case which cause me to fear a down-side to Chen’s future.

First, the U.S. and human rights groups on the side of Chen’s release have given away much of their original bargaining power.  As this New York Times article points out, the Obama administration made some mistakes early in the process out of the hope of a quick resolution.  The initial mistake was allowing Chen to be taken to the hospital (out of the embassy control) without ensuring that U.S. officials would be given access to him.  Since Chen has been in the hospital, U.S. officials have been denied access.  A second mistake was made when the Obama administration turned Chen over to Chinese authorities without securing guarantees of safety for him, his family, and his close friends who aided in his escape.

As a result of a weakened position, the U.S. cannot realistically demand freedom for Chen’s colleagues. So, the second aspect of this case which I believe does not bode well for Chen is the fact that his extended family, friends, and colleagues are now in serious danger.  Even as it was reported that Chen originally agreed to leave the embassy because his wife was being threatened, so, now, Chen may again succumb to threats against those whom he cares for and loves. They remain in serious danger (as this article details).  There are reports that officials from Shandong province are in Beijing, following Chen’s family and waiting to take them back into custody as well. Consider this short paragraph from China Aid:

Chen’s frail mother remains detained, his brother Chen Guangfu and nephew Chen Kegui will be sentenced, and the netizens who helped Chen escape, like He “Pearl” Pierong, still face charges.  Also, famed human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong was beaten on Friday morning for trying to visit Chen.  He reportedly has lost hearing after the beating.”

Third, thus far, the so-called agreement involves Chen being allowed to submit an application for study abroad.  Submitting an application for study abroad is a FAR cry from actually studying abroad. If this is all the promise that Chen is given by the Communist leaders in China, then Chen is not guaranteed anything.  Indeed, how awkward it would be for Chen to appeal to the very same authorities who have allegedly tortured and beaten him for the past two years in order to gain his release! Hopefully, the incident has been so public and so damaging to the Chinese government that they will decide their best option is to let Chen and his family leave China. (Side note here: For the last two years Chen has been unable to be with his son. His reunion with his son came only after he was taken to the hospital upon leaving the U.S. Embassy.

A hearing was held in the U.S. Congress today. C-SPAN has the video if you would like to watch.  Chen actually is telephoned during the hearing and speaks to the congressional committee about his case.

C-SPAN Chen Guangchen

Obama Marks Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – NYTimes.com


Obama Marks Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – NYTimes.com.

Sadly, President Obama still holds to his same position on abortion, believing that a woman’s right to choose trumps the baby’s right to life.

A Mind to Sin


When you read 1 Samuel 22, you can’t help but to think to yourself, “How in the world can Saul be so blind?”  Saul, who was appointed king by popular demand of the people so that they could have a king like the rest of the nations around them, confronts the priest Ahimelech about whether he helped David.  Ahimelech answers that he did in fact help David by giving him the sword which belonged to him (Goliath’s sword) and inquiring to the Lord on behalf of David, something that he had done many times before.  In other words, Ahimelech says that he did for David what any priest would have done for David, particularly in light of how faithful David had always been to Saul.

In response to this confession, Saul ordered that Ahimelech and all of his house, along with all the priests at Nob, be killed.  Saul commanded his leaders to kill the priests of the Lord, but they would not.  They could not.  How could they slaughter the priests of the Lord?  Unfortunately, a slimy Doeg—an Edomite—was in the presence of Saul, and he was all too willing to slaughter the innocent priests on Saul’s behalf.  At Saul’s commands, Doeg, the Edomite, killed 85 priests.  Then, he killed their wives and children and their oxen, their donkeys, and their sheep—all at Saul’s command and with his hearty approval.  How could Saul be so murderously blind?

The answer is simple.  Sin was in the heart of Saul.  From the time that Saul heard ladies singing praises to David, he became consumed with removing David’s fame (along with his name) from the face of the earth.  He more and more became consumed with one thought only: Kill David.  So, he moved his armies and his affections from town to town in pursuit of killing David, although David never betrayed Saul and—on three separate occasions—could have killed Saul but did not.

The wages of sin is death.  Sinful thoughts of wishing David’s fame away (to preserve his own) took root in Saul’s heart and became the driving passion of his life.  Murder was all he wanted.  The 85 priests and their families were merely nuisances to Saul along the path of his murderous way.

We find a life lesson through the life of Saul, mostly by way of antithesis.  Saul teaches us how not to live a blessed life.  He teaches us how to move further and further away from God until we end consumed by a particular sin.  In the beginning of Saul’s service as king, he showed some signs of hope.  He prophesied with the prophets of God.  Yet, before long, he took upon himself the task of slaughtering animals for a sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:8) instead of waiting for Samuel, as he was instructed.  And, not too long after his unauthorized sacrifice, Saul also refused to execute God’s commands concerning Agag and the Amalekites.  Saul was supposed to execute justice over the Amalekites and was told to kill Agag and his animals, but he would not.

Ironically, Saul’s life became a pattern of killing those whom he should not kill and giving life to those who did not deserve it.  Between the priests of the Lord and Doeg the Edomite, Saul chose Doeg—a betrayer.  The reason he aligned himself with betrayers instead of with the priests of the Lord is that his mind was given over to sinful thoughts.

Like Saul, perhaps, we think we can allow sinful thoughts to percolate in our minds with no ill effects, but it simply is not so.  The wages of sin (including sinful thoughts) is death.

Saul’s mind—more and more—became tainted because of the sinful lusts in his heart.  As sin took root, disobedience inevitably followed.  As sin and disobedience became the pattern, Saul’s judgment became less and less astute.  Eventually, not only was Saul unable to discern good from evil, but he actually began exchanging evil for good, thinking that slaughtering priests and their children was a good thing.

It would be so easy to slide into a condemnation of Saul, but let us rather learn from him for our own good.  Disobedience begets dullness of mind.  Sinful thinking leads to ungodly thinking, which leads to a lack of moral discernment.  The pattern is plain in Romans 1: God gave them over to a depraved mind. In his example in Romans 1, Paul concludes with the example of people who can longer distinguish male and female (Gender confusion).  In the example of Saul, we see a man who cannot discern rightly between a betrayer and the priests of God.

In an example from our own culture, we will not be able to execute Major Nidal Hassan (the Ft. Hood shooter) or Jared Loughner (the Tucson shooter) without a major uphill battle against political groups and media elites.  Instead of executing him for murder, we celebrate Jack Kevorkian as Dr. Death.  And yet, we tolerate killing innocent babies—53 million of them—as long as we do it before they get completely out of the womb (although in some cases even that has been acceptable to some prominent Americans).

You wonder how we could ever get to the place in which we can’t see that murderers should be executed but babies should live.

Consider What Congress Is Saying


I’m not an anti-government fanatic, and neither are you probably.  We understand that government has a role to play in our lives.  Government is necessary for protecting us all and for maintaining order where sin might otherwise abound.  That being said, this new Obamacare legislation is egregious.  Just think about what it is going to do.

First, it nationalizes the healthcare industry (one-sixth of a very large economy).  Second, and more significant, it is federal legislation over every individual in America.  Granted, other laws affect every individual.  This law, however, actually mandates activity for each individual from Washington, D.C.  We have never operated like this before in America.  This is not the America of the constitution or of the founding fathers.

In fact, this aspect of the healthcare bill will lead to constitutional challenges.  Attorneys General in several states like Virginia are already preparing lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of this bill.  Specifically, as this Washington Post article points out, the issue at hand is whether the federal government has the power to pass laws which punish any and every American for not doing something.  The healthcare bill punishes you if you decide not to purchase health insurance.  In other words, by federal law (not state law), you are now no longer free to decide whether or not to buy health insurance.

There are further regulations on which plans you must purchase and on what must be provided in the plans, but you must realize the significance of the federal government telling you that you cannot choose to pay for your own medical expenses.  The federal government says you must purchase insurance.  And the federal government says that it will fine you a couple thousand dollars if you do not buy insurance.  No one is free to join a medical sharing co-op.  No one is free to invest $600 a month, setting aside the cash to pay for doctors visits, etc.  Now, we must purchase a government approved plan–by federal law.  I hope the courts agree that this bill is an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government.

The Little Ones


A song by Phil Keaggy asks, “Who will speak up for the little ones, helpless and half-abandoned?”  It seems that no Democrat in America will any longer.  When Bart Stupak caved in to pressure from the national Democratic Party earlier today, he sent the message loudly and clearly that abortion is at the heart of what it means to be a Democrat.  Apparently, there is no place at the national level for pro-life Democrats.

I understand that I am not an expert on matters of legislation and executive orders, but I think I am alert enough to read such things.  The executive order from President Obama is made to sound nice and pro-life, but it cannot–in my opinion–be taken seriously.  If the healthcare bill does not fund abortion, then why is the executive order needed?  If it does, then the executive order will do no good because an executive order cannot overturn legislation.  Either way, the executive order is a meaningless show, which explains why the pro-abortion Obama could write it and why pro-abortion groups won’t raise even a whisper about it.  If the bill passes, it will ensure that we all pay for abortions through our tax dollars, even though the practice violates our consciences before God.

In addition, this healthcare bill will fundamentally change the way we think of ourselves and our government.  I am no longer free to determine whether I will receive a colonoscopy.  Someone in some bureau somewhere will decide if I really need one and whether I will ever get one.  We one time were accustomed to hearing folks say, “Keep the government out of our bedrooms.”  Well, we shall now have them in places heretofore considered more private than our bedrooms.

Another Overstep


I read this story over the weekend and was a bit dumbfounded by it.  Education was once governed in America at the local level, with locally elected school boards making decisions about curriculum, calendars, and content related to education.  Now, President Obama has proclaimed that school days should be longer, and the school year should be extended to “level the playing field.” 

Leveling the playing field has such a nice ring to it, but why must we constantly seek to be like everyone else?  And, why must all school districts in America seek to be like other schools around the world which President Obama likes?  In fact, what does the federal government have to do with local school districts?

As it turns out, the federal government has quite a lot to do with local schools.  Here is the paragraph of U. S. Department of Education which will remind us of exactly what the federal government has to do with local government:

ED currently administers a budget of $62.6 billion in regular FY 2009 discretionary appropriations and $96.8 billion in discretionary funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—and operates programs that touch on every area and level of education. The Department’s elementary and secondary programs annually serve nearly 14,000 school districts and approximately 56 million students attending some 98,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools. Department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to more than 13 million postsecondary students.

Notice the 2009 addition from the “stimulus” bill.  These numbers are a staggering example of the bloated federal bereaucracy.   This bloating has occurred under both republican and democratic administrations.  Sadly, this kind of overreach in bereaucracy tends to encourage the concomitant overreach of the nation’s chief executive, although it must be said that this particular president displays a particular penchant for such oversteps.  You might remember from months ago his assertion that he would use his office to encourage the NCAA to move to a playoff system for football.  And, of course, there are also the examples of determining compensation for private firms, taking over auto manufacturing companies, and, now, seeking to mandate longer school days.

Instead of looking to government to improve education, I would prefer heading in the opposite direction and begin looking to parents and families and their local communities.

Page in Obama’s Playbook?


I have linked here an interview with Frank Page, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.  He is serving this year as a token conservative on President Obama’s Faith Council.  He speaks in this interview about his doubts concerning the council, as well as his reasons for participating in its work, even though it is an inherently political work.

Obama’s School Speech (Reprise)


Yesterday, I linked what I thought was the most balanced response to the mild controversy of Obama addressing school children.  Dr. Mohler’s points are very well made, particularly his explanations of why folks were not unreasonable to fear socialistic undertones in the matter.  Obama’s administration did send out troubling signals.

I know it wasn’t a very big deal, and I know it is time to leave the matter behind. But I still have a lingering question about the matter.  What does this say (if anything) about the role of local school boards?  My concern in this matter is that the Federal government is not responsible for schools and should not be seen as being “over” the schools.  Obama is not our “Educator in Chief,” and, in fact, we have no educator in chief. 

Unfortunately, the issue is over-politicized, just as it was by Democrats back when GW Bush gave an address to school children (see this story).  There are legitimate concerns, though.  For years, the Federal government has increased its grip on public schools through its distribution of funds and its implementation of laws.  Are we sliding toward pictures of the chairman in each classroom?  I’m kind of glad alarms went off, and I hope they do next time, too.

Obama’s School Speech


If you haven’t read Dr. Mohler’s commentary on the school speech by President Obama, then you owe it to yourself to check out this blog post from him.  I find this post to be the best balanced article yet concerning the controversy.  He really did a nice job.

How Not to Take a Stand


GetReligion has a review of the news media’s coverage of Steve Anderson, the Arizona pastor who hopes (and prays for) Barack Obama to die.  Just to be clear, the pastor does not seek to kill the president, and he is not advocating violence against the president; rather, he is hoping God will cause the president to contract brain cancer like Ted Kennedy.  Tragically, this pastor serves a church with “Baptist” in its name.  I can say that Baptists are not historically a violent people.  Baptists have been persecuted by other Christians throughout history (Reformation, Roger Williams). 

I don’t think this pastor and his church are necessarily advocating violence, but their message is a lesson for all of us in how NOT to take a stand and serve as salt and light.  The salt here seems to far outweigh the light. And that is not good.  This obscuring of the light is evident in the way the writer lists this pastor as a conservative voice.  In this instance, I am glad that he is called a conservative voice rather than a Christian voice or a Baptist voice.  Still, it is not a good thing for those who are supposed to preach the gospel to be considered preachers of conservativism.

The Obama Brigade


Ok, Ok, Ok, I know I am a little sensitive to Nazism these days.  I have been preparing a lecture on Nazi Euthanasia and its implications for us which I am giving tonight at 6:30 at the government center in Shepherdsville.  So, I am a little sensitive about modern affinities with the Nazi past.

But I came upon what I think is a stunning piece of legislation.  I have not heard about it before; so, I am thinking that I must be missing something.  Is this just some fantastic internet scare tactic?  According to the Voice, Obama’s ridiculous youth brigade idea is also radically anti-faith, anti-Christian, and anti-constitutional.  In other words, Obama’s youth brigade is as radical as… well, I don’t even need to say it.  Why in the heck are we funding a youth brigade anyway?

Feel free to read the story here and do some follow up investigation. (There are links to pdf files in the comment section below the story). 

I cannot believe this is real.  Someone help us set the record straight.  Surely, Obama isn’t seriously restricting young people receiving government help from attending worship services or Christian schools.

Today’s Nightmare


Wow! As though you needed another nightmare, today a story came out about 30 “religious leaders” urging healthcare reform as a national priority.  If by reform they meant tort reform or something of that nature, I would almost agree.  The truth is healthcare in the U.S. is outstanding.  The last thing we need is the government monkeying around with it.  Once the government is done with reform, we will then have a genuine healthcare crisis.  We do not have a crisis now.  I repeat, we do not have a crisis now.  77% of Americans are satisfied with their current level of health coverage.  Survey those living in Great Britain or Canada, and you will find that they actually do have a crisis.  They are not satisfied with their healthcare.  Why?  Government. 

I am frustrated that 30 “religious leaders” are given credibility to speak for all religions.  The group is only 30, and they are all liberal, non-evangelical groups.  They are now joining a movement which is a multi-generational boondoggle with oppression written all over it.  Please stop listening to these “religious leaders.”  They are no more helpful than “political leaders.”  (See the video below for another argument against government healthcare).

[Maybe we should label these “religious leaders” as fundamentalist extremists and decry their attempts to merge church and state]

Hip Is In


You may have seen this article already; it speaks of President Obama’s fresh appeal for Americans to embrace homosexuality.  I find it curious that he categorizes the arguments against homosexuality as “worn arguments and old attitudes.” 

It seems to me that Obama exemplifies our desire to be glib, haughty, and, of course, hip.  Americans, apparently, don’t want to be left out when it comes to being cool.  What I find curious, though, is how we moved from being a people who trusted time-proven truth to a people who only long for the hippest fad.  Perhaps, we could rephrase Obama’s categorization and say that the arguments against homosexuality are not “worn and old” but “tried and true.”

How Muslim Are We?


As my last blog post pointed out, President Obama appears to be reaching out to Muslims on a false pretense.  Muslims need not necessarily be our enemies (except the ones who have taken that title to themselves); yet, Muslim is clearly not our identity either.  I cannot see how to make advances in relationships by acting as though we are something we are not.  President Obama’s claim that we are a Muslim nation is patently false.  The folks over at Get Religion have a great article about the falsity of the President’s claim and failure of the media to get the main point in the Muslim story.  Check it out here.

We Shall See… but…


In the post yesterday, I reported that several groups were hoping Obama would use his audience with the Muslim world to confront Islamic oppression of other religions, particularly Christianity.  Today, there is an interview with Obama from a French television station that makes it seem unlikely that Obama will confront human rights abuses in the Islamic world.  Instead, according to this interview, he will point to our “outreach” to Iran and to the fact that America is one of the largest Muslim nations as a means of encouraging peace in the Middle East and around the world.  Aside from the fact that America is not a Muslim nation–much less one of the largest–Obama appears to believe that the problem regarding American-Islamic relations is a lack of education in America (and in the west) concerning Islam. 

In all candor, many Americans appear to me to understand Islam perfectly well, perhaps even better than President Obama.  The problem is not that we don’t understand Islam but that Islam has a violent history of killing any who do not embrace it.  If that is not true Islam, then the true Muslims have a great deal of work to do to demonstrate the veracity of that claim because the voice of Islam (regardless of whether it is the “true” Islam or not) is terror. 

As I reported yesterday, 7 of the 10 countries with the worst records of human rights abuses–including persecution–are Muslim countries.  It seems to me that the onus of responsibility is on Islamic nations to demonstrate whether true Islam is peaceful or not.  Lecturing the West on its need for better Islamic education and making concessions to Iran do not seem to be serious attempts to deal with persecution, terror, and oppression.  Maybe Obama’s speech tomorrow will be more encouraging than this interview.  We shall see.

We Shall See


According to this article, Christian organizations are asking President Obama to call on Muslims around the world to demonstrate the peacefulness of their religion by addressing the needs of persecuted Christians.  I am partial and biased.  As a result, I am not expecting President Obama to mention Christian persecution at all.  I am expecting his big speech to the Muslim world to be filled with empty platitudes about how we have to all work together and put aside our differences, but we will see.  The groups pointed out that 7 of the 10 countries with the worst records for persecution are Muslim countries.  Considering that 100 million or more Christians are affected in these countries, one might expect a mention from the President.  We shall see…

Bravo, Viola!


Here is a blog post about an upcoming bill in California which will coerce doctors into providing abortions or, at least, providing support for the industry.  You may recall that President Obama has recently (by executive order) taken similar steps in limiting conscientious objections by doctors.  At any rate, this blog is informative, as are the comments which follow it.  You will understand the title above after you have read the comments.

 

Encouraging?


There is a story in Baptist Press which offers a ray of hope for healthcare workers.  As you know, President Obama turned back a conscience clause provision that Bush had put in place to protect pro-life workers.  In the Bush administration, pro-life pharmacists could object to dispensing the abortion pill, RU 486.  According to this story, a couple of Democrat senators are appealing to Obama to reconsider his oppressive position.

The backlash of Notre Dame


According to this story, Catholics are fairly outraged at the decision of the administration to invite Barack Obama to speak this spring at Notre Dame.  Considering his activism on behalf of abortion, many Catholics believe he ought not to be put forward as one to be emulated and honored.  Some of the opposition refer to him already as the most “anti-life” president ever (see here).   In addition to allowing him to speak, Notre Dame is also bestowing on him an honorary doctorate.  Undoubtedly, there is honor and prestige in the eyes of most if a sitting President agrees to speak at your school, but one wonders at what cost? 

 

The Apple and the Floodgate


Wesley J. Smith asserts that the Obama move on funding embryonic stem cells is akin to taking another bite from the forbidden fruit.  Indeed, he interacts extensively with an article from the New York Times which he believes cries out for a further devouring of forbidden and foreboding fruits of destruction.  (See here)

Dr. R. Albert Mohler refers to the move by Obama as an opening of the floodgates.  The metaphor here signifies an opening which will lead to a rapid display of pro-death actions against human beings, particularly against humanity in its nascent form.  (See here).

It matters not which metaphor we employ; the point is clear.  Barack Obama now owns personal responsibility for the destruction of human life in its most fragile form.  The weight of such responsibility is immense, and I am praying for Mr. Obama to understand the weight, the burden, and the opportunity.  We should pause and pray for him, as he will be held accountable for such decisions.

I can assure you that I am angered by the arrogance he displayed in taking a cheap shot at the supposed “ideological” position of President Bush.  President Bush’s position was a well-informed one, which included an earnest desire to respect both science and ethics.  Obama–though he said we must respect the ethical side–gave no indication that he has any respect for ethical concerns.  He not only re-initiated funding for failed attempts at using embryonic stem cells, but he also took a separate action at the same time to thwart funding for the responsible stem cell research that has been working.  So, Obama’s position is far inferior to Bush’s.  His position does not reflect good science or good faith attempts to respect both sides.  His decision is MERELY ideological. (see here)

Still, we are to pray for those in positions of authority, for kings and rulers.  He is our president.  He should have our prayers.  Part of our prayers would be that he would awaken to the reality that death and destruction is the result of his decision.  May he awaken to grace and life and hope in Christ.

No Good Reason


Yesterday, I posted that the Obama decision to re-fund human embryonic stem cell research was a decision that lacked both scientific and democratic integrity.  I was right.  However, I did not know the extent to how right my analysis would turn out to be.

Over at Secondhand Smoke, there is an article today that points out that Obama did more than fund embryonic stem cell research.  He also rescinded a Bush executive order which ordered that other methods of stem cell research be funded. 

So, Obama decided to waste taxpayer dollars on research that has provided ZERO promise so far, and–at the same time–he took away taxpayer funding from the stem cell research that has ALREADY proved successful in treating 73 diseases.

See this post for reasons Obama might have made such a foolish funding turnabout.  For my part, I think he is radically pro-abortion, and he desperately wants to justify abortion.

Obama Not Democratic or Scientific


Undemocratic, Non-scientific, and Without Integrity–

These are a few words I can think of which describe the position taken by President Obama on embryonic stem cell research.  His position is undemocratic in that (once again) it shows a total lack of concern for those who argue that humanity is undermined by pro-abortion policies. 

 

The position is not scientific in that it totally ignores the real success of adult stem cell research.  This website has the score at 73-0.  The 73 score represents the successful application of adult stem cells.  The 0 score represents the successful application of embryonic stem cells. 

 

The position is without integrity because it forces the destruction of human embryos for no reason except “to experiment.”  There is no longer promise held out for embryonic stem cells.  The promise is in adult stem cells (iSPCs).  The only reason to continue with the charade that there is “hope” for embryonic stem cells is to keep the cruel farce alive that, perhaps, there is a justification for destroying human life (that is, perhaps there is justification for abortion).  For more on how Obama relies on hype instead of hope, see here.

 

 

Obama Approved Prayers


Some prayers meet with Obama’s approval, and some do not. Dr. Mohler has a post today concerning the recent disclosure that the Obama administration is vetting prayers before allowing them to be offered at public events. As this post points out, prayers in Jesus’ name are too volatile. For the first time in U.S. History, Jesus is going to be unwelcomed at the White House and in its prayers. There are theological concerns related to what this means, and there are also concerns about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  We were promised change, and it looks like we are getting what we were promised.  Read Dr. Mohler’s excellent blog on prayer.

Bloated Cow’s Milk


I have not commented thus far on the ridiculous notion of Obama’s “stimulus” package.  I don’t want to confuse anyone about the importance of the gospel.  Truly, the gospel and the work of the kingdom transcend politics.  We are about to be railroaded into socialism, and socialism is not good for anyone (except those in power); it certainly is not good for Christian believers.  So, here goes a comment on the bloated bill from Obama.

Not only is this bill a bloated cow from which democratic cronies alone can get milk (folks like Acorn and Planned Parenthood), but the bill truly is a huge step toward socialism in America.  I mean this comment both fiscally and authoritatively.  Fiscally, as I said, the bill will be a stimulus only if you depend on the government.  For everyone else, the bill is a de-stimulating, oppressive mess of government intervention.

Even more to the point of faith, however, this bill (as is often true w/ big government money) is targeted against Christians.  There is a provision in the bill which says you can spend billions at your university only if the buildings do not allow religious worship services.  Senator DeMint attempted to amend this section of the bill, but the democrats voted down his amendment; discrimination is still in the bill against people of faith. 

I have linked here an action forum from Newt Gingrich and the American Family Association.  You can contact your senators and congressmen and ask them to oppose such pathetic politicking and covert socialism.  If that first link doesn’t work, try this one.