Monday, May 23, 2016

A (not so) Brief History of the Gun (Redux)

Given California’s recent unprecedented attempts at gun-control, given a U.S. Supreme Court that’s a justice short and now evenly divided when it comes to a modern liberal’s scary ideas on gun-control, and given the NRA’s recent endorsement of Donald Trump for U.S. President, I thought it time to revisit one of my favorite topics: guns.

I love guns. I grew up with them. My father (an avid and excellent hunter) owned (and still owns) many. One of my most memorable gifts as a young man was a single-shot 410 shotgun. Before I was old enough to own a real gun, my friends and I were quite skilled in using all sorts of scrap wood, duct tape, nails, and so on to manufacture the most magnificent replicas. Back then, if I was not playing with some sort of ball, I was in some sort of battle.

As debates about guns and gun rights in America rage, truly to understand the gun, one needs to look at its history. The story of the gun is a fascinating and riveting look not only at history, but science, business, politics, justice, and morality as well. Throw in a great deal of ingenuity, a good deal of heroism, and a small dose of romance, and the story of the gun is the world’s greatest tale of human invention.

The gun’s story begins with the invention (or discovery) of gunpowder. Gunpowder most likely was invented just prior to 1000 A.D. It became rather prominent around the turn of the twelfth century. Theories abound about who actually invented gunpowder, but no one really knows.

According to noted historian Ian Hogg, “The first positive statement relating to gunpowder appears in a document written in 1242 by Roger Bacon entitled On the Miraculous Power of Art and Nature.” Hogg also notes that, since, during that period, “fiery compositions” were considered to be an element of the “Black Arts,” Bacon, a Franciscan friar, concealed his formula in an anagram (which remained unsolved for over 600 years).

Early guns were really cannons. The first illustration of a cannon appears in a 1326 work entitled On the Duties of Kings prepared for King Edward III of England. These early cannons fired large stone balls—sometimes weighing up to 200 pounds. However, such stones were still lighter than iron shot of a similar diameter, and due to the relative weakness of early gunpowder, were safer to use.

Such cannons were massive and thus, difficult to move. Smaller calibers that were more mobile were much desired. This led to the development of the “hand-gonne.” These were simply miniature iron or bronze cannon barrels attached to the end of a lengthy wooden staff. (A 1475 German manuscript depicts such a device.)

By the 15th century, “arms of fire” with a lock, stock, and a barrel—the same basic look we have today—became somewhat common. The first weapon that could be carried, loaded, and discharged by a single man became known as the matchlock. This was a muzzle-loading gun that was discharged when a hand-lit match was lowered into the flash pan.

The term “lock” most likely originated from the fact that the gun-lock operated in a similar fashion to the locking mechanisms of the day. American Pilgrims were very familiar with this gun.

However, these guns were not very accurate or reliable. They could be quite dangerous to use (as the burning wick necessary to ignite the powder in the flash pan was often in close proximity to the stores of powder on the user), and were virtually useless in wet weather. The matchlock also was not very useful for hunting, as the burning wick alerted most every type of game.

A new lock design for igniting the powder was needed. Thus, around 1500 A.D. the world was introduced to the wheel lock. The wheel lock made use of a centuries-old process for lighting fires: striking stone against steel and catching the sparks. No longer was a cumbersome and dangerous burning cord necessary for discharging a gun.

For the first time, a firearm could now be carried loaded, primed, and ready to fire. Again, the actual inventor is unknown, but Leonardo da Vinci had one of the earliest drawings of a wheel lock design.

The wheel lock also led to another advancement in firearms: the pistol. For the first time, a weapon could now be carried concealed. It was at this point that many of the first laws against carrying firearms came into being.

Like the matchlock, the wheel lock had its short-comings. If the wrench necessary to wind the wheel was lost, the weapon was rendered useless. Also, with over 50 individual parts, the wheel lock was of a complicated and intricate design. This made the gun very expensive to own and difficult and expensive to maintain.

Efforts toward a simpler, less expensive, and more reliable gun led to the next significant step in firearms: the flintlock. The first flintlock design was by the Frenchman Marin le Bourgeoys around 1615. The flintlock was a more simple design and most of the moving parts were inside the gun. This made it much more weather-proof than its predecessors.

For over 200 years, the flintlock was the standard firearm of European armies. It was used in the greatest battles of the 18th century and helped determine many of the rulers of Europe, and helped set the borders of many European nations. The flintlock brought to an end the armor-wearing knight and also saw the end of the Napoleonic wars.

The flintlock was also the customary firearm of the young United States and was instrumental in our battle for independence. In fact, to battle lawlessness, Indians, and to put food on the table, the gun was the most essential and prized tool in early America. As soon as they were old enough properly to hold and fire a flintlock, many young American boys were expected to help feed their families. Thus, generations of boys growing up and using guns from a young age played no small part in America winning her Independence. “The Americans [are] the best marksmen in the world,” lamented a minister of the Church of England in 1775.

The first original American contribution to firearms was the Kentucky rifle (which was made in Pennsylvania). This gun was superior to most every European contemporary. It was longer, lighter, and used a smaller caliber than other muzzle-loading guns at the time. Most importantly, as the name indicates, the Kentucky gun was “rifled.” This process, which involves cutting helical grooves inside the gun barrel, greatly increased accuracy.

A bullet fired from a rifled gun spins and thus helps stabilize any bullet imperfections (which were usually significant in the 18th century) that otherwise would distort flight (think bow-and-arrow vs. slingshot).

In spite of all this, most American Revolutionaries still carried smooth-bore muskets. Kentucky rifles did take longer to load than smooth-bore muskets, and often the volume of fire was/is more important than accuracy. General George Washington did make significant use of American marksmen armed with the Kentucky rifle. These riflemen played major roles (as in picking off British officers) in such conflicts as the Battle of Saratoga (see Morgan’s Riflemen).

The birth of a new nation meant the need for a national armory. In 1777, General Washington settled on a strategic location in Springfield Massachusetts as the setting for the armory. In addition to being important for our national defense, the Springfield Armory led the world in technological advancements that would change manufacturing forever.

The manufacture of firearms at Springfield helped usher in the age of mass production. An ingenious inventor named Thomas Blanchard, who worked for the Springfield Armory for five years, created a special lathe for the production of wooden gun stocks.

Such a lathe allowed for the easy manufacture of objects of irregular shape. This led, for example, to the easy mass production of shoes. Many other technical industries—such as the typewriter, sewing machine, and the bicycle—were also born out of the gun industry. Factories that produced such products were often located near firearm manufacturers, as the firearms industry possessed the most skilled craftsman necessary for creating the complicated parts for such machines.

The Springfield Armory also introduced contemporary business practices to manufacturing. Concepts such as hourly wages, and cost accounting practices became customary at Springfield and were important steps in modernizing manufacturing.

The next step in firearms development came from a minister. Due to his severe frustration with the delay between trigger pull and gunfire (which too often allowed for the escape of his prized target: wild ducks) from his flintlock, the Reverend Alexander Forsyth invented the percussion cap.

Inside the cap is a small amount of impact sensitive explosive (like fulminate of mercury). Thus, muzzle-loading guns now did not have to rely on exposed priming powder to fire, were quicker to fire, and were almost completely weather-proof. However, gun users were still plagued by a centuries old problem: they were limited to a single shot before reloading. Enter Samuel Colt.

Making use of the percussion cap, in 1836 Colt (with the aid of a mechanic, John Pearson) perfected and patented a revolving handgun. Although little of Colt’s design was original, he ingeniously brought together existing features of previous guns and fashioned them into a mechanically elegant and reliable revolver.

Along with being an inventor, Colt was a shrewd and capable businessman. His genius was not only in his gun design, but in the techniques used to manufacture it. His guns were made using interchangeable parts (made by machine and assembled by hand).

In 1847, with an order of 1,000 pistols from the U.S. Army, and no factory to build them, Colt looked to noted gun-maker Eli Whitney (often called “the father of mass production”) to help fill the order. It was the production of guns, and men such as Whitney and Colt, that led the way in the pioneering and perfection of the assembly line.

When Colt’s American patent expired in 1857 there were many who stood ready to take the next step in firearms. None more so than a pair of men who had spent much of their time perfecting ammunition: Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. In 1856, just in time to take advantage of Colt’s expiring patent, their partnership produced the world’s first revolver that fired a fully self-contained cartridge. This cartridge was a “rimfire” variety that Smith and Wesson patented in 1854.

As handguns were progressing, long arms were beginning to catch up. This is where another American icon enters our history: a wealthy shirt maker named Oliver Winchester. Winchester took over a fledgling arms company in 1855 and in 1857 hired a gunsmith named Tyler Henry to turn it around.

By 1860, Henry had created a breech-loading lever-action repeating rifle (firing 16 rounds). The Henry Repeating Rifle was a tremendously popular, useful, and reliable gun. It was this weapon that began to make the single-shot muzzle-loading rifle obsolete.

In 1866, Winchester improved on the Henry rifle and produced a model named after himself. The Winchester model 1866 fired 18 rounds, had a wooden forearm to make it less hot to handle, and contained the familiar side-loading port.

It was in 1873 that the two most legendary guns of the Old West were produced—the Winchester model 1873 (which was a larger caliber than the 1866 model) and the Colt model 1873, otherwise known as “The Peacemaker.” Carrying on with the savvy business sense of its founder, the Colt Company built this model to hold the exact same ammunition as the Winchester model 1873.

Integral in the success of Winchester Arms was the greatest gunsmith in the history of America (and maybe the world): John Browning. Over a 19 year relationship Winchester manufactured 44 firearms designed and built by Browning. A devout Mormon, Browning held 128 gun patents and sold designs not only to Winchester, but also Colt, Remington, Savage, and Fabrique Nationale.

Browning had his hand in almost every type of firearm design. Everything from single-shots and lever-actions to rifles and shotguns bears the influence of John Browning. Browning’s guns, along with those by Colt, Winchester, et al put more fire-power in the hands of an individual than ever before. However, they paled in comparison to what was next. With virtually every step in gun advancement, there were many attempts toward the same goal. This was no different for the “machine gun.”

Certainly the most famous of the early versions of the machine gun was the Gatling Gun. Mounted on a central axis with six rotating barrels, the Gatling Gun was fired by hand turning a rotating crank mounted on the side. Although not a true automatic, the Gatling could achieve several hundred rounds per minute.

The most successful and famous of the early fully automatic guns was the Maxim gun. Invented by an American-born Brit, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, this gun was introduced in 1884. The maxim was completely automatic in the sense that it was “self-powered.”

In other words, using the tremendous amount of energy that was released when the gun was fired, it was now unnecessary for a discharged cartridge to be manually ejected and the next cartridge to be manually loaded. With the Maxim gun, this action continues with a single trigger pull. Maxim’s gun could fire 10 rounds per second.

Maxim spent several years studying how to put the recoil energy of a gun to good use. He patented virtually every possible way of automatically operating a gun. So much so that, as Ian Hogg put it, “he could have probably quoted [only] one of his many patents and stifled machine gun development for the next 21 years, since almost every successful machine gun design can be foreseen in a Maxim patent.”

Men like Browning, Baron Von Odkolek, John Thompson, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and several others built off of Maxim’s success, and machine guns became smaller and lighter. Browning is perhaps most famous for his automatic designs. By the 1890’s Browning had designs that were vastly superior to the Gatling guns used by the U.S. military at the time.

This brings us into the 20th century where fully automatic weapons that could be carried and operated by a single man were common place and necessary for any successful army. When the U.S. entered WWI our soldiers were armed with rifles that were significantly inferior to those of our enemies and allies. In 1918 Browning equipped the U.S. military with his .30 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).

Though it was highly successful, the BAR did not become standard issue for the U.S. military until 1938. Towards the end of WWI, with the introduction of the tank, to serve as an anti-tank weapon, Browning upgraded his .30 caliber design to a .50 caliber. This machine gun was officially designated as the Browning M2, but was affectionately referred to as “Ma Deuce.”

Though improving tank armor made it ineffective as an anti-tank weapon, the M2 became standard equipment for many U.S. vehicles, including planes and ships. Still in use today, and with nearly 100 years of service, the M2 is the longest serving fully automatic weapon in the U.S. arsenal.

From before the founding of this great nation, firearms have been essential to the preservation of life, the enforcement of law and justice, and the establishment and protection of liberty. Our Founding Fathers understood well how important the gun was to the founding and maintaining of liberty in the U.S.

Thus, they gave us: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” And just what is the “militia?” No less than the co-author of the 2nd Amendment, George Mason, tells us: “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people ... To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Even Jesus Christ Himself understood the significance of an armed man. In Luke He states, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

What’s more, the technology that drove the progression of firearms and the improved manufacturing and business practices adopted at gun factories propelled the U.S. into the Industrial Age. America owes much to the gun. Americans, whether they are gun owners or not, whether they love them or despise them, would be wise to remember all that the gun has meant to this nation and hope and pray that guns remain in the hands of its citizens.

Update: Most of this piece is contained in a chapter in my soon to be released book: The Miracle and Magnificence of America. (Click link for a preview.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bathroom Madness a Natural Consequence of Liberalism

No one should be surprised by President Obama's--or any other "principled" liberal's--take on the "transgender" bathroom debate. Before I proceed, pause for just a moment and imagine almost anyone 20, 40, or 50 years ago reading that last sentence. One of two responses would have been nearly universal: the reader would have been either aghast, or in denial. Some probably would have thought it a joke.

I remember when liberals used to make fun of the idea of men dressing as women:

And this is what most all of America--liberal, conservative, educated, ignorant, Christian, irreligious, and so on--once thought of the ridiculous idea that a man could suddenly become a woman simply because he wanted to:

Don't liberals ever get tired of "struggling against reality?" Now we have to take liberals serious when they talk of forcing us into allowing boys into girls restrooms and locker rooms, because, of course, they are serious. After all, they've already won over no less than the U.S. Supreme Court when it comes to their perverse notions of what is marriage.

Of course, this is the madness that results from liberalism. This is what happens when the absolute and eternal truths of God are ignored and mocked. As Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd recently put it after President Obama's absurd bathroom edict: "It’s an outrageous attack on our Creator Himself, upon human sexuality and morality and a further advancement of the flagrant attack on religious freedom in our culture." And as Barack Obama again proves, this is what happens when liberals have political power.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Target Will--Eventually--Become a Target

When it comes to sexual assault, more than once the last couple of years I've declared that, if a woman dresses and acts like a prostitute, she should not be surprised when she finds immoral men who are willing to treat her as such. Likewise, a department store that ignores sound science, eternal truths, and plain common sense on bathroom etiquette, should not be surprised when immoral men decide to take advantage of such ignorant policy.

Make no mistake about it, if Target refuses to back down from it's foolish new position that allows individuals to use whatever bathroom or dressing room they feel like, someone is going to get hurt. Unlike a slutty woman whose foolishness is likely only to invite harm upon herself, Target's actions will lead to others, perhaps even children, getting harmed.

I've posted the below video twice before, but over two decades in education have taught me that some people need to hear and see things many times over before they learn what needs to be learned. Again, educate yourself on what can result from allowing men access to women's facilities:

Once one of these perverts attacks some poor lady in a Target restroom, a message to these ignorant corporations needs to be sent. And sadly, just about the only message such organizations understand is a hit to their bottom line. Thus, the very first time someone is attacked in a Target store, the victim needs to file a massive lawsuit against Target. What's more, legal groups across the U.S. who are not allies of the perverse homosexual agenda need to line up and let Target know that they will be quick to sign on for the suit.

It's time to stand up to these corporate fools. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton provides some inspiration in this way. Paxton recently sent a letter to Target's CEO. As the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, he asked Target to disclose how the plan to protect women and children in their bathrooms and fitting rooms. Fox News reports that Paxton also reminded Target that "voters in Houston recently repealed by a wide margin an ordinance that advanced many of the same goals as Target's current policy."

Lovers of the truth must also continue to stand up to the government fools backing the perverse homosexual agenda. North Carolina's Speaker of the House provides the inspiration here. On Wednesday, the Obama Justice Department said that North Carolina's common-sense "bathroom bill" violates federal civil rights law and set a Monday deadline for the Tar Heel State to change the law. The Blaze reports that Republican State House Speaker Tim Moore "told reporters on Thursday that North Carolina would not be 'bullied' by the Justice Department into meeting a Monday deadline to change the new law."

As I've said before, this is a battle, and it is not for the weak. If you're looking for an opportunity to stand against wickedness, the battle raging within the sexual realm in our culture is an excellent place to get engaged.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Make America Good Again

For months now, Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency has seduced tens of millions with the cry of “Make America Great Again!”

There’s a good reason for this. Tens of millions of Americans—myself included—are convinced that America is off course. The Real Clear Politics polling average on “the direction of the country” reveals that over two-thirds of Americans believe that the country is on the “wrong track.” Polling reveals that this has been the case for years. (Click the link at the end of the recent average to view years of polling on the direction of the country.)

A “track” implies something singularly linear, the implication being that if we simply elect the right sort of people from the right kind of party, we will turn the country in the right direction. Few things are further from the truth. Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”

The responsibility for the direction of America lies in the hands of individual Americans, especially American Christians. In the late 1970s, in their seminal book The Light and the Glory, authors Peter Marshall and David Manuel wrote, “It is the most dangerous kind of corporate self-delusion to think that a President, regardless of how much he heeds God, can reverse the bent of the national will, once it is set in a certain direction…which seems to put the responsibility directly upon each of us who has a personal relationship with our Savior—much as we might like to blame the immorality of others for the precipitous rate of decline. But the responsibility is ours, and it always has been.”

The reason the responsibility is ours is because more than any other single factor, the decline of America is the result of decades of attack on the Judeo-Christian worldview. As renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias noted in the fall of 2008, in the race for President of the United States, Mike Huckabee was almost always described as “a former Baptist minister.” Whenever he would speak of his faith, Mitt Romney was described as “a Mormon.”

However, as Zacharias himself puts it, “It is fascinating that the media, in a calculated way, does not mention Barack Obama’s middle name — Hussein — lest society see this as religiously prejudicial toward him. This is a clear attack on the Judeo-Christian worldview, the only worldview that could justify the existence of a nation like America.”

As documented in my soon-to-be-published book, The Miracle and Magnificence of America, in an election day sermon on April 25, 1799, Jedidiah Morse—noted American geographer, pastor, theologian, and the father of Samuel Morse—warned Americans:

“The foundations which support the interest of Christianity, are also necessary to support a free and equal government like our own…To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism.”

In other words, it’s the “foundations” of Christianity that support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that we all enjoy in America, and the quickest and surest way to turn the United States of America into a nation unrecognizable to those who lived only a few generations ago is to destroy these foundations.

As King Saul sought to kill David, Psalm 11 records David lamenting, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)” On this, legendary biblical commentator Matthew Henry concludes, “The principles of religion [here, of course, Henry is referring to the one true “religion:” Christianity] are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. These we are concerned, in interest as well as duty, to hold fast against all temptations to infidelity; for, if these be destroyed, if we let these go, What can the righteous do?”

An old adage (sometimes wrongly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville) often referenced (at least the final sentence) by politicians of the last several decades (among them Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton) declares that,

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

In other words, to any degree that America has lost her greatness, she has lost her goodness. Any lofty claims about “making America great again”—especially by biblically-illiterate, adulterous, strip-club owning, casino magnate’s like Donald Trump—that aren’t accompanied by a corresponding commitment to goodness—to truth and righteousness—are mere hyperbole rooted in vain folly.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Coming Soon!!! The Miracle and Magnificence of America

For the past two-and-a-half years, most of my time writing has been put into a single project: The Miracle and Magnificence of America.

With over two-dozen chapters, hundreds of footnotes, and more than 85,000 words, The Miracle and Magnificence of America chronicles from the very beginning of this nation--from the time of Columbus--until the modern era, how the hand, the Word, the wisdom, and the blessings of God made the United States of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known.

The back cover reads:

On June 21, 1776, just days before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, wrote to his cousin, Zabdiel Adams, a graduate of Harvard University and a renowned preacher of the Gospel. He said, “Statesmen…may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.”

Of course, the only source of “pure Virtue” is the Creator who has endowed us with our “certain inalienable Rights.” The Miracle and Magnificence of America reveals how the “Religion and Morality” of Jesus Christ laid the foundation for the greatest nation in the history of humanity and is the foundation for the lasting—but tragically fading—liberty enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans for over two centuries. 

The Miracle and Magnificence of America will soon (in a matter of weeks!) be available at Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, as well as other online retailers. Stay tuned for more information!

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

North Georgia Abortion Zealots and Their Cookies

A few years ago I participated in a forum at Gainesville College (now the University of North Georgia) entitled "What Role Should Religion Play in Government?" It was hosted by the humanist club, or atheist club, or some such group who want Christians to no longer have a role in American government, and for that matter, the culture in general. Because central to the teaching of Christianity is that human beings must surrender the throne of our lives to the One who paid the debt that we all owe, and that none of us can pay.

Of course, surrendering control of our lives to one greater than ourselves seems madness to those who are determined to have their own way in this world. Few things today reveal this more than the willingness of many to kill the most helpless and defenseless among us: a child in the womb. In order to promote such wickedness, the atheists at the University of North Georgia have resorted to unusual means.

According to information published by Matt Walsh, said atheists fashioned cookies in the form of tiny babies, and celebrated their slaughter of the unborn by "eating the baby cookies or breaking the heads off and laughing." And take note of the messages these abortion apologists penned to further their sick and sad agenda:

The one on the right is a common refrain by those so devoted to themselves, but I have to admit, the one on the left is a new one on me. Liberal "crybullies" across the U.S. have expressed fear, alarm, and outrage at political messages scrawled in sidewalk chalk. They demand "safe spaces" so that don't have to listen to anyone who might challenge their ignorant and selfish worldview. Yet, somehow it's okay to mimic the death of children in order further the perverse liberal sexual agenda.

As I've noted often before (borrowing from John MacArthur), within the moral realm in our culture, the battle is almost exclusively about sex. I urge every Christian to get engaged. Challenge your church--your pastor, your Sunday school, your small group, and so on--to get engaged in this epic spiritual battle. Boldly spread the truth with your words and with your actions. Parents teach your children the truth on marriage and sexuality. And if your church refuses to stand for the truth in these grave matters, you need to find a new church.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Sunday, April 17, 2016

In the Georgia District Conventions, Trump Got Exactly What the Electorate Wanted

Yesterday, representing Hall County, my lovely wife Michelle was a delegate for the 9th district GOP convention in Georgia. While there, she voted on multiple resolutions and voted to select the delegates and the alternates to the national convention. Three delegates were chosen, along with three alternates.

Tellingly, Michelle reported to me that while voting on the delegates, some of the voters would shout out "We need to know who they are for!" An officer leading the proceedings declared that the candidates were not required to reveal who they were "for." However--as I suppose is usually the case--there was enough information being spread around the convention to deduce which GOP candidate for U.S. President each delegate was supporting (some were literally wearing their support on their sleeve).

The 9th congressional district of Georgia is one of the most conservative districts in the country. Unsurprisingly, Ted Cruz had the most support at yesterday's meeting in Dillard, Georgia. Evidently, this was the case across all of the district conventions in Georgia. Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Donald Trump got "outmaneuvered by Ted Cruz forces in Georgia." Of course, this sent the Trump supporters into a tizzy.

Today, the AJC reports that Trump supporters "stormed out of a Georgia GOP convention." After being denied delegate positions, showing a grainy photo of a man snatching the U.S. flag, the article notes that Trump supporters "bolted the 7th district GOP convention." The Trump propaganda machine took such information and (again) began shouting that Trump had been "cheated."

The Trump apologists at Breitbart reported on an "Uproar In The Hall." Of course, Drudge--another rabid Trump apologist--prominently placed a link to the Breitbart piece at the top of his page. As Rush Limbaugh noted on the selection of Cruz delegates in Colorado, this is not Ted Cruz "cheating," this is Ted Cruz "winning."

As I posted on the AJC and Breitbart yesterday, Trump did not win a majority of the vote in GA (39%), he won a plurality. A significant majority voted for someone else (Cruz and Rubio totaled 48% together), thus Trump's struggle to get supportive delegates is no surprise. Trump will get his promised delegates on the first ballot at the convention, but if he doesn't get 1,237, the delegates can vote as they like.

There's nothing nefarious going on here. There's certainly no "fraud." Of the 20 counties represented in the Georgia 9th district (see a the vote by each Georgia county here), Trump won a majority of the vote in only two of those counties (Fannin: 53%, Gilmer: 52%). Thus, 90% of the counties in the Georgia 9th preferred another candidate to Mr. Trump. When given a choice of only Trump or Cruz (which they did not have in the primary), it is clear that most voters in these counties prefer Cruz. Thus, it is perfectly legitimate for these districts to send delegates to the national convention that represent such an outcome.

What's more, this is true across Georgia. Trump rarely won a majority of the vote in any Georgia county. This is how the process works when the field is narrowed to the three GOP candidates that we now have, and when no candidate looks likely to secure 1,237. All that the Georgia district conventions did yesterday was again reveal the disorganization and weakness of Trump's national GOP campaign.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The “Bigger Problems” of Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal

The Governor of my home state of Georgia, Nathan Deal, has been soundly, and frequently, taken to task for his recent “Craven Capitulation” on religious liberty. I don’t wish to rehash the merits of the very weak bill Deal rejected (it only protected churches, religious schools, and “integrated auxiliaries”), nor do I wish to highlight again the rampant ignorance and hypocrisy of those who lobbied Deal to veto religious liberty in Georgia. What I would like to do here is give some explanation as to why I believe Deal caved on the defining moral issue of his governorship.

Chelsen Vicari at The Institute of Religion and Democracy hinted at the problem when she wrote of Governor Deal’s veto, “When corporate bullies dangling dollar bills is enough to cause a Baptist governor to veto a bill protecting freedom of conscience and speech, a bigger problem exits.”

Vicari goes on to conclude, “Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of Georgia’s religious freedom bill represents a wider movement among America’s Christians to compromise Scripture and morality for the sake of votes and popularity. Unfortunately, many Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, and Catholics are bowing down at altars of sexual liberation and political correctness, erected by cultural Leftists.”

The “wider movement” Vacari references is especially prevalent in the Catholic Church and Mainline Protestantism. This eagerness to compromise Scripture and morality is due to the widespread embrace of what Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, calls “near Christianity.” It seems that Mr. Deal has been steeped in such wishy-washy theology for decades.

A day after Deal’s veto, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler described in a podcast Deal’s rationale for vetoing the religious liberty bill as a “moral and political evasion.” Dr. Mohler also pointed out that Deal is acting as an agent in the liberal “theological agenda” that is helping to progress the homosexual agenda.

Given the theology of Governor Deal’s church, this should come as little surprise. As Dr. Mohler also noted, Governor Deal is a member of The First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia. Since the early 1990s, First Baptist of Gainesville has been affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), a more liberal association of Baptist churches than is the Southern Baptist Convention.

On homosexuality, CBF declares, “CBF does not issue ‘official’ positions on homosexuality or other social issues because it violates the Fellowship’s mission as a network of individuals and churches. CBF values and respects the autonomy of each individual and local church to evaluate and make their own decision regarding social issues like homosexuality.” In other words, CBF chooses to ignore Scripture and remain silent on one of the most pressing moral (not merely “social”) issues of our time.

After the infamous Obergefell ruling last year in which the U.S. Supreme Court abandoned the eternal truth on marriage, the pastor of First Baptist of Gainesville, Bill Coates wrote,

“People of deep faith and convictions exist on both sides of the LGBT and gay marriage question. Ultimately, it comes down to how an individual interprets Scripture and how churches interpret Scripture. If read with strict literalism, one can always point to passages that appear to condemn many kinds of behavior…Reading the Bible literally can lead us to the embracing of attitudes that in fact move us from Christlikeness.”

Of course, when the Bible speaks literally, as it does on homosexuality, we are to take it literally. Dr. Coates, who has pastored First Baptist for the last 18 years, went on to write,

“Each church will have to decide how to walk through this marriage equality debate. I think we should respect those who choose to allow their ministers not to perform same-sex weddings out of their own deep convictions, and I think we should respect churches that choose to allow their ministers that right, for they make their choice out of deep convictions, too…I say this: I do not always know what the truth is, but I can always tell what love is. I believe love is the greatest of all, and to do the loving thing will always be the right thing. Most congregations will eventually find their way there.”

Dr. Mohler concluded that Coates could only have meant “that most congregations will eventually get to an affirmation of same-sex marriage in one way or another.”

Jim Galloway, a long-time political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), recently reported on the “Baptist-on-Baptist fight” that resulted from Georgia’s religious liberty debate. Galloway asked Dr. Coates “whether the governor’s veto reflected the values of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville.”

Coates replied, “My perception is that the great majority of our congregants are very supportive of Governor Deal’s veto of this bill — primarily for two reasons. First, we hold to the strong historical Baptist principle of separation of church and state.”

I suppose the only thing surprising here is that it took Dr. Coates this long to play the “separation of church and state” card. How tragically ironic that the pastor of a Baptist church in Georgia would resort to using eight words of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1801 in order to justify denying his fellow pastors protection of their religious liberties.

Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists was a reply to a letter the Baptists wrote on October 7, 1801 congratulating him on his election as U.S. President. Along with their congratulations, the Danbury Baptists expressed grave concern over the First Amendment’s guarantee of the “free exercise of religion.” These Baptists felt that inclusion of such in the U.S. Constitution implied that the right of religious freedom was government-given and not God-given.

Hence, they wrote, “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific… [T]herefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights.” (Emphasis mine.)

Oh the irony of ironies! The Danbury Baptists, it turns out, wrote Jefferson in the name of “religious liberty!” Does it sound as if these Baptists would support the government forcing individual Christians, or Christian-owned businesses, or Christian-led institutions to accommodate the homosexual agenda?

And neither would Thomas Jefferson. Each of the original 13 colonies treated homosexuality as a serious criminal offense. Jefferson himself authored such a law for the state of Virginia, prescribing that the punishment for sodomy was to be castration. Why have modern courts ignored this?

Further demonstrating his lack of knowledge of the truth, three years ago, the Bill Coates-led First Baptist of Gainesville, along with three other liberal-leaning denominations in Gainesville, GA sponsored the appearance of the (late) infamous heretic Marcus Borg at a two-day lecture series on the campus of a Gainesville university. Borg was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a major figure in the heretical “historical Jesus” movement.

According to apologist Greg Koukl, the so-called “scholars” of the Jesus Seminar “have rejected as myth the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the virgin birth, all Gospel miracles, and a full 82% of the teachings normally attributed to Jesus—all dismissed as legendary accretions with no historical foundation. For example, only two words of the Lord’s Prayer survive as authentic: ‘Our Father.’” In other words, they are “Christians” who reject virtually every tenet of Christianity, and Nathan Deal’s pastor saw fit to promote such false teaching.

At the time, in the local paper, Dr. Coates flatteringly described Borg as someone who “speaks of an emerging paradigm to see faith and practice faith in an age of science and technology.” Coates added that, “So many people don’t believe today because they don’t believe the basic doctrines or have trouble understanding the stories of the Bible. For people like that, Borg has a new approach, a new lens through which they can see those stories.” Borg’s “new lens” gives new meaning to the Apostle Paul’s “dim mirror.”

Perhaps the most troubling news concerning Governor Deal’s church—where he has served as both a deacon and a Sunday school teacher—was revealed recently in a 2,800-word exposé by the AJC. The First Baptist Church of Gainesville, GA, along with a former pastor (who served just prior to Dr. Coates), are being sued for their supposed role in hiding the sexual abuse committed by a former deacon, Fleming Weaver. While a Scout Leader for a Boy Scout troop sponsored by First Baptist of Gainesville, Weaver sexually abused multiple young boys.

In 1981, when some of his victims brought information to First Baptist, Weaver admitted to church leadership that he had indeed sexually abused several young boys. Reportedly, the church chose not to reveal Weaver's abuse to the Boy Scouts or to law enforcement and allowed Weaver to remain in church leadership. The alleged victim bringing the lawsuit accuses Weaver of raping him in 1985, when the boy was 15. According to the AJC, Dr. Coates “acknowledged he had heard the rumors about Weaver, ‘but there was never any kind of proof.’” Weaver, now 82-years-old, remained a deacon at First Baptist until just a few weeks ago when this story hit the news.

It should come as little surprise that a church that would allow an abuser of children to avoid the law and remain in leadership, that would sponsor the speeches of a heretic, that shrugged its shoulders at the legal redefinition of the oldest institution in the history of humanity, and that cites Jefferson’s wall in order to justify not protecting the religious liberties of pastors, would also give us a Governor who would “compromise Scripture and morality for the sake of votes and popularity.”

Sadly, as is so often the case with those who are steeped in “near Christianity,” as another Baptist pastor in Gainesville, Dr. Tom Smiley, put it, with his veto of religious liberty, Governor Deal “missed his moment.” (In other words, he missed his “Esther moment.”) However, if the Georgia legislature has its way—like Peter, Jonah, Samson, King David, and other trophies of God’s grace and mercy—Governor Deal may get another shot at doing what is right.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Travel Bans, Bathroom Trans--More Liberal Madness

Only a modern liberal would predicate their moral outrage upon a cause that runs contrary to biology that a three year-old can understand, and that is championed by an unrepentant registered sex offender. Yesterday, the Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, joined several other apologists for the perverse homosexual agenda and banned non-essential travel by city of Atlanta employees to the state of North Carolina.

Just a few weeks ago, I said that it's hard to imagine what's next for the liberal-led homosexual agenda. I have to admit that I never imagined that we would need special laws or ordinances to keep the gender-confused in the correct bathrooms. And I certainly never imagined that such laws would be in any way controversial. Atlanta joins New York City, and state, as well as San Francisco, Seattle, the District of Columbia and Boston in protesting North Carolina's common sense (and tragic that it was even necessary) law.

This is what liberalism does. This is what happens when liberals run things. There seems to be no end to their perversion. Whether sex, marriage, the family, the unborn, gender, education, the military, immigration, spending, and the like, on virtually every issue debated today, liberals are on the wrong side of the truth. Thus, today's liberals can be trusted with almost nothing.

And if you (again) need further evidence what it means to support the so-called "rights" of men who wish to dress and act as women, the video below presents shocking evidence of what such perversion has wrought, and implores real women to "Decide For Yourselves."

Update: As most who have followed this story already know, just like in the religious liberty fight, the hypocrisy among liberals extends well beyond those in government positions. After North Carolina banned men from women's restrooms, PayPal cancelled a planned expansion in the state.

PayPayl's president and chief executive, Dan Schulman, wrote in a statement on Tuesday: "The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal's mission and culture. As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte."

As PJ Media's Rick Moran notes, "How pious. How noble. How hypocritical." Moran continues: "PayPal partnered with a Middle East payment company, Network International, to open an office in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates employs the penalty of death to those convicted of being gay or performing gay sex.  So PayPal punishes North Carolina for keeping men out of the ladies' room while sucking up to a government that executes people just because they're gay. Because, justice."

As Dr. Michael Brown also notes, "PayPal made its plans to open new offices in Charlotte many months before the Charlotte bathroom bill was passed in February (and subsequently overturned). In other words, six months ago or one year ago, when all the laws were exactly as they are today, PayPal was quite happy to do business in Charlotte."

And as the folks at RedState point out, "Paypal has no problem maintaining operations in areas like Singapore, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia – all known for their stringent anti-LGBT policies (and they don’t stop at just prohibiting mixed bathrooms)." 

The reason liberals so often find themselves caught in such hypocrisy is that (as I've noted before), for liberals the moral demands are few. Thus, governing, or running a business, becomes a matter of seeking and even manufacturing what is popular, not what is right. 

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Monday, March 28, 2016

Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal Caves on Religious Liberty

In the light of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal's veto of a very weak religious liberty bill, I have a few questions for the governor and those who support this veto. As has often been the case in the modern debate over marriage, in his remarks today defending his veto of the watered down religious liberty bill, Governor Deal mentioned "language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination."

Tell us, Governor, was it "discrimination" when, in 2004, 76% of Georgia voters made it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex "marriages" or civil unions? Was it "discrimination" when, by an average margin of nearly 68%, voters in over 30 other states did the same (or similar)? If not for a narrow 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that ignored the eternal truth on marriage, all of these laws would still stand. What happens if a more conservative court reverses last year's infamous decision? Is it only "discrimination" when the courts tell us that is the case?

In a seeming swipe at the Christian community, Governor Deal added, "I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask the government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the 'hands-off' admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution." I wonder if then Congressman Nathan Deal found it "ironic" when, in 1993 he was voting in support of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Christian conservatives know well where our rights originate, and we're certainly not asking for new ones from the government. This is exactly what liberals do. This is exactly what happened when the U.S. Supreme Court decided it could redefine the oldest institution in the history of humanity. Christians only need government to protect us in situations like this, when liberals have conferred new-found "rights" upon a group--in this case, "rights" that went unnoticed and unrecognized for nearly two centuries in the U.S.

As I've pointed out before, it is noteworthy that the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (the Fourteenth Amendment being ratified in 1868) did nothing to prevent all 50 U.S. states, including each state that entered the union after 1868, from enacting laws against homosexual behavior. As recently as 1961, sodomy was a felony in every state in the U.S.

In other words, for nearly 200 years and without any Constitutional conflictions or any "hands-off" approach, or any serious debate, homosexual behavior in America was seen as immoral and therefore illegal. Thus, we see that the Founders--the authors of the First Amendment to which Governor Deal refers--do nothing but support the traditional (biblical) view of marriage.

Again, those behind the homosexual agenda are not looking for compromise. As they have targeted Christians and Christian-owned businesses in other states, they will eventually target para-church organizations and the church. We must have politicians with the moral conviction to stand against the perverse homosexual agenda. Of course, this means an electorate with the moral conviction to choose such politicians. And this means revival.

Again, after our relationship with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is the relationship between a husband and his wife. Marriage is the oldest institution in the history of humanity—older than God's covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church. Marriage is one of the earliest truths revealed by God. If ANYTHING is true, marriage as the union of one man and one woman is true. On this, there can NEVER be compromise.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World