Month Archives: November 2012

Voting in Washington’s Virginia

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 6, 2012

There are almost always lines at voting stations, but since I began to exercise my franchise in 1976, I’ve never seen anything like what I saw this morning.

Rose Hill Elementary is a pleasant school in suburban Washington. A print of George Washington in his general’s uniform is displayed prominently in the school office. This seems appropriate, both because of the “First Founder’s” importance to our country and because his home, Mt. Vernon, is only a few miles away from the school.

In the school foyer this morning, there were several tables full of baked goods which were being sold to those of us in line to help finance a fourth-grade trip to Jamestown. The gym, where the voting takes place, is small but clean and festooned with the flags of many nations - perhaps because so many of the students of the school are from immigrant families - but the largest flag is that of the United States, and is hung prominently so as to be hard to miss.

The line I was in was roughly one-quarter mile long. Hundreds of those Gen. Washington, in his Farewell Address, called our “friends and fellow citizens” lined up to cast their ballots in a historically decisive election. Good humor was prevalent, a sense of excitement almost palpable. Rather than being irritated by the length of the line, people were quiet and patient; only good-natured laughter occasionally broke the silence. The fact that there were so many cheerful children’s projects decked along the hallways probably didn’t hurt.

I was greeted at the electronic voting booth by a smiling and gracious woman who instructed me in the use of the machine. For all I know, she is a person of vastly different political leanings than mine. But her courtesy outweighed any desire to try to strong-arm me into voting one way or another.

Our country is riven by disagreement on some of the most crucial things that could face any nation. As Margaret Thatcher said once, “The veneer of civilization is very thin.” In an era where the public use of expletives is seen by many as amusing, where “entertainers” commit vile acts on-stage before young children, where life is counted sufficiently cheap that sex-selection abortion is becoming more prevalent, I’m not sure how long we can endure as a free republic. Yet today, at least in one Northern Virginia suburb, civility, respect, and honor for the right of free people to uphold representative self-government were real.

We arent red or blue, were American

by Family Research Council

November 6, 2012

Swing states. Independents. Undecideds. Toss ups. Red states. Blue states. Do you ever wonder why if you are a Californian you are blue and nobody visits your state? Or why in rural Iowa you see the candidates so often you would think D.C. had moved to Des Moines? Why do Ohio, New Hampshire and Florida matter but Vermont, Georgia and Indiana dont? It is because in recent elections candidates have stopped trying to appeal to Americans and have instead divided the country into competing factions. But this should change.

I believe that most people in this country want to make it better. They have very different ideas for how to make it better but they have the same goal. I want a candidate who convinces the country of his positions and does not see himself as a red or blue but as an American. I believe the values such as justice, family stability, morality and liberty will appeal to voters in Hawaii and Oklahoma. Only since 2000 have we had such a focus on red and blue states. Heres a little history. In 1972 Nixon carried every state except Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.; in 74 Carter won most of the South but also carried New York, Pennsylvania and several New England states. In 80 Reagan won all but six states and in 84 all but one. In 88 Bush Sr. won 40 states including New Jersey, Michigan and California. In 92 Clinton won handily by carrying states from all parts of the nation including Georgia, Louisiana, Iowa and California. In 96 Clinton won big by carrying Florida, West Virginia, Arizona, and Missouri. Then in 2000 we had a very close race that was decided narrowly when Florida certified her vote giving Bush a few hundred vote lead in the state and a win in the Electoral College. Bush then captured Iowa and New Mexico while ceding New Hampshire. In 2008 President Obama won by garnering support from Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.

In recent history the method to win the presidency was to convince voters across the country to vote for you with Democrats and Republicans winning different states in different elections. Somehow, our political parties, news media and candidates for office have forgotten that we are not a coalition of competing groups in some sort of tenuous alliance but a nation united in its humanity.

Christianity has the most unifying message on the planet. It teaches a love for all while telling the truth. It does not pander to groups but appeals to all humanity with the good news of Christ. It is time our politics did the same.

Littlejohn: The Terror of the One-Child Policy is Critical to the Communist Partys Control of China

by Chris Gacek

November 6, 2012

There is a brilliant interview of Reggie Littlejohn, opponent of the Chinese forced abortion policy, on the LifeSiteNews.com website. Littlejohn is running the Campaign to Save a Girl in China. Her organization is Womens Rights Without Frontiers.

The interview is about ten minutes long. Littlejohn argues that forced abortion in China will not end until rule by the Communist Party ends. She asserts that the ubiquitous terror network used to implement the forced abortion policy is now essential to the Partys control of the populous. The infrastructure of coercion - what an amazing phrase! - created for the abortion policy can be turned on other activities like political dissent. The forced abortion policy also requires a vast network of paid informants that has undermined social trust at all levels of society.

Her organization is also organizing efforts to save baby girls in China and has a film, Its a Girl.

 

A Fighting Chance for Baby Girls in China?

by Cathy Ruse

November 5, 2012

In 1979 China promulgated its one-child policy, forcing abortion and sterilization upon millions of women and causing the mass extermination before birth of baby Chinese girls.

Now a think tank sponsored by the Chinese government has recommended a phase-out of the policy. According to Christianity Today, a report leaked by the China Development Research Foundation, sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party, recommends that China immediately abandon its one-child policy in favor of a two-child model phased in over three years. A two-child policy would be no less barbaric, of course, but would give a fighting chance for some of those baby girls.

Last year demographer Nicolas Eberstadt published an essay in The New Atlantis entitled, The Global War Against Baby Girls. In it he wrote:

The consequences of medically abetted mass feticide are far-reaching and manifestly adverse….the very fact that many thousands or in some cases, millions of prospective girls and young women have been deliberately eliminated simply because they would have been female establishes a new social reality that inescapably colors the whole realm of human relationships, redefining the role of women as the disfavored sex in nakedly utilitarian terms, and indeed signaling that their very existence is now conditional and contingent.

Indeed.

And Republicans are at war with women because they dont want to force Catholic institutions to buy birth control pills for their employees? Idiocy.

Young Evangelicals, Common Ground, and the New Social Witness

by Family Research Council

November 5, 2012

How do we expect young Evangelicals to vote? With Election Day tomorrow and every vote in the balance, the question remains: Are these millennials the reliable moral majority of their parents generation? Or have they called a truce on the culture wars?

On October 16, I joined a panel of seven young Evangelicals behind the microphones of the National Press Club. We hailed from a diverse set of policy organizations and came, in part, to answer that very question. What are the political priorities for todays young Evangelicals?

More specifically, we discussed the results of a recent survey, conducted by Sojournersa Christian advocacy organization dedicated to promoting social justice, often in collaboration with progressive political means. The Sojourners blog post suggested that we all had agreed to call a truce on cultural warfare and settled on a new common ground. But are the culture wars over?

On August 15, an armed gunman entered my workplace. He confronted my colleague, announced his profound disagreement with my organizations politics, and proceeded to fire his weapon three times. Thankfully, he only wounded my colleague in the arm. The suspect was carrying Chick-fil-A sandwiches and 50 rounds of ammunition. He has since been arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill and committing an act of terrorism while armed.

If these are the culture wars, I sincerely hope they are over. That said, I and other young Evangelicals must face the uncomfortable and undeniable reality: our nation remains deeply divided on our social ethics. And some of us young Evangelicals have accepted the uncomfortable but compelling call to advocate for the most vulnerable human lives, promote a biblical and natural view of marriage, and use the freedoms given by God and articulated within the Constitution.

Even the numbers within the Sojourners study suggest that a majority of young Evangelical millennials have not abandoned the principles championed by their parents. My fellow panelist, and Executive Director for the Manhattan Declaration, Eric Teetsel has already written to this point. His blog post titled, Evangelicals on Common Ground is well worth the read.

I personally dislike the label of culture warrior. If my aversion is naive and semantic, age and faithful, hard work will cure me and Ill carry the badge. But I suggest that there is a growing cohort of cheerful young Evangelical advocates. We may, perhaps, have a gentler tone than the cartoon version of our parents advocacy. But many of us promote and prioritize the principles that our parents did.

This may be the common ground that Sojourners celebrates. If it truly is common ground, I suggest that (like any common room in my living experience) it requires upkeep. If we have truly entered such a cultural moment, I offer the following guiding principles:

An unconfused civility:

I invite us to show greater grace and civility in our public conversations. Such civility would steer us away from assuming each others motives. It would keep conservatives from assuming that progressives intend to bankrupt the nation and shred the Constitution. In turn, progressives might refrain from suggesting that conservatives hate the poor and relish the thought of perpetual warfare.

Such civility might slow us down a bit, restore our respect for each others humanity and motivations, and lend itself to more intelligent collaboration on specific issues. In the absence of such all-or-nothing advocacy and bombast, a politically diverse group of young Christians might begin to make authentic progress on specific concerns such as welfare reform, education reform, and human trafficking. It may not be the most effective fundraising technique for individual advocacy organizations. It may move us toward more authentic reform.

Clarity on our -ologies:

Even under a shared umbrella of Evangelical commitment, we would be wise to address how our theology, anthropology, and eschatology inform our social agenda. Volumes could and have been written on each -ology and its implications for public service. But just a quick glance at what this might mean for todays Evangelicals.

Left, right, or centerare we more concerned about having God in our political camp, rather than being on his side? In contrast, will we refuse to cherry-pick bible verses for our own political agendasto the exclusion of other calls to holiness, humility, and compassion? Our theology inevitably shapes our priorities.

A biblically-informed anthropology encourages us to protect all humans as image-bearers of the living Godcradle-to-grave. But progressive/conservative disagreements regarding social and economic policies often stem from our different theological understanding of brokenness and evil. I believe that my progressive friends more readily locate the problem of evil primarily in situational variables, rather than in personal responsibility. But when we fail to dignify the needy by holding them accountable, our good intentions may serve to exacerbate the need. However, my conservative and libertarian friends run the risk of ignoring the social contexts into which so many are born. When we ignore the devastating implications of victimization, (fatherlessness, abuse, a failed educational system, etc) we similarly fail to offer authentic hope and suggest that the Christianity is a graceless thing.

We are, indeed, called to be Matthew 25 Christians. In addition to caring for the poor, imprisoned, and persecuted (Matt. 25:40), we usher in the kingdom of God through small faithfulness like investing the masters money (Matt. 25:14-30), and waiting with our lamps full (Matt. 25:1-30). I caution Christian friends of all political stripes to be avoid immanentizing the eschatonor confusing ones role as Christs hands and feet, with bearing the weight of ushering in the kingdom of God.

Knowing the length of your arm:

We are the Facebook generationtrying to be faithful and relevant amidst the clutter of an active Twitter feed and 24/7 news cycle. We may know more about the worlds events and needs than did our parents at our age. But I suggest that we are also more distracted and fragmented. In this dizzying swirl of information and friendships we run the risk of detaching ourselves from authenticin-the-flesh communities. We are tempted to find our own churches, families, and neighborhoods too small for our grand ideas. I suggest that the rising generation of Christians, regardless of political affiliation, should place a higher priority on individual relationships, hidden faithfulness, and commitment to a local body of believers.

God has used his peoplelike William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther Kingto organize great social resistance to social evils. But it is the paradox of the Christian life: God often uses individuals who are prepared to be small, hidden, faithful, and accountable to other believers. We may be called to wrestle with monumental injustice, but we will be most effective when we remain attentive to the challenges at our doorstep and the efforts already being made to alleviate such problems.

A new social witness:

Has the rising generation abandoned the culture wars? I hardly know. I, personally, am prepared to cross partisan lines to address genuine human need and offer authentic freedom. But more fundamentally, I aim to follow Christs call to follow him both in private and in public life. In a recent lecture, Dr. Owen Strachan called upon todays Christian leaders to a disciplined vitality and a new social witness. I close with his words:

This movement… refuses to be seen as the religious wing of a given party. It is, however, grounded in the public witness of Christians offered in the past 30-40 years, and it is grateful for the sacrifices made by those who have gone before. This movement does not consider the church a PAC, nor America the new Israel. Its tone is charitable and courageous, because this movement derives ultimate confidence and identity not from the city of man, but from the city of God.

Lets bring that new social witness to our churches, our families, our jobs, and our polls.

Obamacare Puts Freedom in the Balance

by Robert Morrison

November 5, 2012

On July 4, 2010, the National Archives announced that they had just discovered an original draft of Thomas Jeffersons Declaration of Independence. In it, the young member of the Continental Congress struck out the word subjects and penned the word citizens. Archivists were very excited by this discovery: It was the first time Americans had referred to themselves as citizens, they said.

Citizens make their own decisions on vital matters of life and faith. Subjects have to obey an endless series of government mandates.

Obamacare has already revealed its iron fist. The HHS mandate, a key part of Obamacare, would force every American to become complicit in providing or paying for the destruction of innocent human lives. It would also force us to subsidize sterilization procedures. Many of these sterilizations would be done on minors without their parents knowledge or consent.

Religious communities in America have been alarmed by this HHS Mandate. Rev. Billy Graham is nearing his 94th birthday this week. He might easily have avoided controversy by remaining quiet. But this great evangelist has taken out ads in major newspapers all over the country appealing to Christians to vote for biblical values. These include the Sanctity of Human Life, which theHHS Mandate for Obamacare so seriously jeopardizes.

The Catholic Bishops have gone into court to sue against this unprecedented intrusion into the life of the church. Catholic lay groups are carrying the message to grassroots citizens, urging them to stand for life and to oppose abortion. One such prominent group, Catholic Answers, is distributing voter guides that dont tell their brethren for whom to vote, but do plead with them to uphold life, marriage, and religious freedom when they vote. Pope Benedict is alarmed about what is happening inAmerica, they say, and you should be, too.

The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod has boldly proclaimed we must obey God rather than men, and has launched a website titled Free to be Faithful The LCMS takes no position on Obamacare, per se, but they do resist being forced to participate in violating the commandment: Thou shalt not kill. It was to escape mandates from the authoritarian rulers of Germany in the 19th Century that these Lutherans left their homes and fled to this home of freedom, Synod leaders say.

Not only churches and religious organizations are threatened. In recent action before a federal district court in Detroit, the Weingartz Supply Company sought and received from Judge Robert Cleland a temporary injunction allowing them not to obey the HHS Mandate. The Catholic owner of this small, 170-employee family firm, argued that demands of Obamacare would violate his First Amendment rights. Judge Cleland agreed, saying: Violation of a First Amendment right in itself constitutes irreparable harm, even for a brief period.

Irreparable harm done under Obamacares HHS Mandate ironically contrasts with the first rule of medicine, thousands of years old, brought to us by the Greek philosopher Hippocrates: Above all, do no harm.

How can it be that a law that has care and protection in its title (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) can present such a mortal threat to caring and protection? It may be because the Supreme Court in 1973 ruled against justice itself. When the court said innocent human lives may be taken for any reason or no reason, the court pulled that first thread of our national garment and the fabric of society has been unraveling ever since. It can never be just directly to target and kill the innocent.

This is certainly Christian teaching, but it is also Jewish teaching. Orthodox Jewish leader Rabbi Meir V. Soloveichick gave strong testimony in Congress against the HHS Mandate.

That this is direct and intentional slaughter of innocents is wrong was known even by the pagans of ancient Greece. Thucydides, in his classic Peloponnesian War, records the Melian Debate. In that debate, powerful, democratic Athenians demand that the unoffending people of Melos join them in a war against Sparta. The men of Melos, a small beautiful island, wish only to be left alone to live their lives in peace. The Athenians will not permit that, saying to the Melians: The strong do what they will; the weak endure what they must. Thucydides is a patriotic Athenian, but he loves justice first. And he records the killing of the innocent Melians with obvious anguish. His book, a work secular scholars recognize as the first history, was intended to last forever.

The lesson of the Melian Debatethat the shame of killing the innocents is indeliblehas come down to us from ancient times. Pagans, Jews and Christians then recognized an ethical foundation for human existence. Life without such a moral basis is not truly human, they taught us.

The HHS Mandate puts freedom itself on the ballot. If this election affirms Obamacare, then this violation of our consciences is but the first taste of the bitter cup that will be proffered to us. And we will be forced to drink that bitter cup to the dregs.

HHS Mandates will cascade upon us. Will we also be forced to pay for sex changes and violent abortion procedures, as well as abortion drugs and sterilizations? What logic or law would stop these liberal activists who have already trodden our First Amendment rights under foot? They will render the Constitution itself a mere paper barricade.

That is why tomorrow, freedom itself is on the ballot. Let us pray for this great republic; may we remain citizens and not subjects.

I Like Ike

by Robert Morrison

November 2, 2012

Its the first election I can remember. I was just a second grader in 1952, but I knew who I wanted to be my president. The campaigns slogan was I Like Ike. In my family and in my grammar school, almost all of us liked Ike. This was eons before red state and blue state divisiveness. Even in liberal New York State, it seemed everybody liked Ike.

The campaign of 1952 was the first one to use TV ads. Supercilious folks frowned on selling the president like a soap flakes. Catchy jingles and cartoon figures of happy Americans marching behind the popular war hero horrified the chin-pulling media elites. Yes, even then we had liberal media elites. In those days, thats all we had.

It didnt matter. Dwight D. Eisenhower was an internationally known quantity. He had been a five-star general who commanded the Allied forces for the invasion of Normandy. It was Ikeeveryone called him thatwho took the huge risk of sending the largest invasion force in history to liberate a continent from Hitlers cruel grasp.

Unlike other famous generals from World War IIDouglas MacArthur and George Patton, for exampleEisenhower always had the common touch. He never failed to stress his simple Midwestern roots. Ikes Guildhall Speech accepting the keys of the City of London in 1945 will stand forever as a tribute to his plain-spoken decency and his eloquence.

Ike was sneered at by intellectuals of his day. They adored their cerebral candidate, Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. But Eisenhowers World War II memoirs, Crusade in Europe, have never been out of print. You have to go to the back shelves of university libraries to find slim and unchecked-out volumes of Stevensons deeper thoughts.

Eisenhower the candidate would have preferred having the Republican nomination offered to him. He would have liked to avoid having to campaign at all. He wanted to be elevated to the presidency as the great Gen. Washington wasby unanimous vote of the Electoral College.

He soon learned, however, that he would have to fight, and fight hard, for that Republican nomination. And, in a country still in the sway of Franklin D. Roosevelts powerful 12-year domination of politics, Ike had to reach out well beyond the ranks of the shriveled Republican Party. Ike didnt reject support from Democratic grassroots; he welcomed it.

The Eisenhower election campaign was a model how a political campaign should be run. His Electoral College total was 442-89. He garnered 55% of the popular vote. No one questioned the legitimacy of his victory. His landslide win brought the country together. Americans looked to Ike for leadership with hope and expectation.

Of late, We have become accustomed to seeing presidential campaigns run to win red states and blue states. We hear endlessly of battleground states and how only 10 or 11 states really matter in this contest.

Whether or not our favored candidate is elected next week, this red state/blue state thinking must be rejected. It is dangerous to the Union; it is harmful to the loser and the winner alike. It guarantees petty and shabby politics. It is unworthy of this Great Republic.

The Eisenhower victories of 1952 and 1956 were the models for the Reagan campaigns of the 1980s in which I was proud to take part. In those contests, too, the winning formula was to create a great national wave of support and to surf that wave to an overwhelming popular mandate. That would bring a commanding majority in the Electoral College.

There was no whining about the biased liberal press. Of course they are biased. They were biased in 1952. They were even worse in the Reagan campaigns. Both Ike and the Gipper serenely rolled over the media as they rolled over their opponents.

The best part: You didnt have to stay up late on election night. With Ike, with Ronald Reagan, you could go to bed early, and sleep soundly. The country was in good hands with these good men.

Is Profiting from Hurricane Sandy Ethical?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 1, 2012

There is a telling story today in one of the nation’s premier business publications, Barron’s, called “Playing a Superstorm.” In it, we read about some home repair-oriented companies whose stock is rising in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Of course, this makes perfect sense: Given the hurricane’s devastation, the value of firms with the resources needed to rebuild is at a premium. However, as the article notes, “These opportunities to scalp some profits out of the aftermath of the hurricane are likely fleeting, so act fast or do not act at all.”

Scalp some profits” - yikes! Profiting from disaster seems untoward. Yet in a market-based economy, such investments can animate economic growth in regions where it is most needed - places such as those destroyed by this week’s massive “Frankenstorm.”

Every action has three ethical dimensions: Its motivation, its implementation, and its effect. Those on the Left who insist on evaluating every action based on motivation (“greedy capitalists!”) rather than outcome (renewed businesses, reconstructed neighborhoods, etc.) are looking at only one aspect of a larger picture.

I’m not suggesting that motives are unimportant. Rather, at a time of national crisis, aspersing the intentions of those whose investments can help transform extensive damage into rebuilt lives seems a tired and useless exercise. The alternative - a government-run, command-and-control economic system - would never provide the diversity, quantity, or quality of products and services needed when disaster strikes. As scholar Jay Richards wrote in his book Money, Greed, and God, we must be wary of “contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives” (watch Jay’s thoughtful FRC lecture on this theme here).

Ultimately, it’s about what the Founders called “ordered liberty,” the freedom to make reasonable, moral decisions in an open marketplace. To deny such liberty to image-bearers of God is an affront to human dignity. Our Founders understood this, which is why they valued the right to private property ownership so highly. We should maintain their commitment to free enterprise and opportunity with intentionality and energy; unless we do, when a future “Sandy” hits, we will lack the means to respond with the rapidity and resources they require.

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