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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Catholic Bishop’s Tardy on FOCA Outrage

Where was this outrage two months ago? Where was this outrage six months ago, or 18 months ago? On December 8 of this year, columnist Ray Kerrison (see column here) of the New York Post wrote that “Obama's commitment to FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) dominated [the U.S. Catholic Bishops’] discussions at their annual convention in Baltimore last month.”

Writing a few months ago, I noted that Barack Obama said, “The first thing I'll do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).” FOCA, as co-sponsor Barbara Boxer has said, “supercedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose. That means a poor woman cannot be denied the use of Medicaid if she chooses to have an abortion.”

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has stated that “FOCA will supersede laws that restrict the right to abortion, including laws that prohibit the public funding of abortion.” NOW adds that, “FOCA prohibits states from enacting laws intended to deny or interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose abortion,” which would include laws that limit the access of minors to abortion.

In his column Kerrison notes that FOCA “would also compel taxpayers to fund abortions and provide abortions in military hospitals. Most provocatively of all, it would force religious hospital and health-care institutions to perform abortions in violation of their convictions.”

Kerrison also states, “If President-elect Barack Obama goes through with his campaign pledge to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, holy hell is going to break loose.” He adds that, “FOCA means war.” It should have meant war BEFORE Obama got elected.

Catholic Bishops are stepping up the combative rhetoric. Kerrison points out that “US bishops have always been united in their moral condemnation of abortion. But they have stopped short of flexing political muscle, evading a head-on confrontation. That may now change.” Too bad they didn’t do more political “flexing” BEFORE Obama got elected.

Kerrison quotes the Bishops’ saying things like, “[FOCA] would threaten Catholic healthcare institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would divide our country and the church should be intent on opposing evil. Chicago's Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki…said flatly that if the Obama administration attempted to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, they'd shut them down rather than comply. ‘This is not a matter of political compromise or finding some common ground,’ said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steuvenville, Ohio. ‘It's a matter of absolutes.’” Too bad more Catholics didn’t go to the polls with such a mindset.

Catholics voted for Obama over McCain to the tune of 54% to 45%. Obama’s 54% is two points higher than Bush’s Catholic support in 2004. Twenty-seven percent of the U.S. electorate is Catholic, with significant numbers in battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. I doubt that Catholic support for Obama would have been as great if Catholic Bishops had taken this grave a tone BEFORE Obama got elected.

We should not be surprised. Obama was given a pass on many issues. Perhaps a closer look at exactly what he was saying, how he had voted, and with whom he associated would have given not only Catholics, but a majority of Americans a different view of him.

With Obama due to take office in less than a month, we can’t afford to continue to look back and wonder what would have happened if he had received more scrutiny. However, it is worth noting that, just like all of our major decisions in life, elections have consequences. We all can learn from our mistakes. Here’s hoping the lessons of the Obama administration will not be too painful.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good Tidings of Great Joy

“I guess hard times have flushed the chumps; everybody’s lookin’ for answers,” said Ulysses Everett McGill mockingly, as a congregation sang and filed toward the river for baptism in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou. The film is set in Mississippi during the Great Depression when times were indeed hard. Our current economic woes have some folks harkening back to the Depression era and comparing the two periods. However, history reveals that at present there is little real comparison.

During the Great Depression, in 1933, unemployment peaked at 25% and remained over 10% until 1941. On July 7, 1932 the stock market, as measured by the New York Times index, bottomed out at 33.98, a decline of over 89%. Between 1929 and 1932 national income dropped by more than 50%, which included a 70% decline in manufacturing income and an 80% decline in construction income. By 1931 farm income had fallen by 50% and during the 1930s over 9,000 U.S. banks failed. Undoubtedly, many people were “lookin’ for answers.”

Of course, no one in this world knows for sure how bad our existing economy will get, but it’s safe to say that we have a long way to go before we get to real Great Depression comparisons. Nevertheless, many people today are hurting and looking for answers. Given that we are so near to Christmas makes things that much more difficult for folks, and, unlike the fictional Mr. McGill and those in the real world who share his views, I believe that the hope of Christmas provides the answer to all that ails us.

With our current economic situation, scores of people seem to believe that our hope is in government. Others think that free-market capitalism holds all the answers. Now I, of course, tend toward the latter, but I know better than to think that free enterprise alone will get people to the place where they really need to be.

Both government, albeit a limited one, and capitalism play a vital role in keeping our economy humming along, but one must have the proper world view before either will work as it should. A true examination of Christmas yields such a view.

Around 2000 years ago, an angel announced to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Christians celebrating Christmas are celebrating more than just a birthday. Christians believe, as C.S. Lewis put it, that Christmas is the story of how “the rightful king has landed.”

Just prior to His death, as Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” After some discussion Pilate concluded to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered him saying, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world…”

Speaking of Christ, the book of Colossians states, “by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him…and in him all things hold together.” Thus, no matter what may come our way in this world, whether good times or bad, we should always look to the King of the universe and the Creator of all things for our direction.

Christ and His word will help keep us humble in the good times and give us peace, hope, and even joy in the difficult ones. As we look for answers to our most challenging questions, whether they are about the economy, war, global warming, marriage, abortion, immigration, and so on, we would all do well to remember to “seek first the kingdom of God.”

Furthermore, just as Pilate asked the crowd before handing Jesus over for crucifixion, we need to remember to have the right answer to the ultimate question that we all must answer: “What shall I do, then, with Jesus…?”

Have a truly merry Christmas.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Justified War

A holy end, no matter how glorious, can never be vindicated by unholy means. To many Americans the Iraq war was, and is, unnecessary. To some Americans the Iraq war was, and is, unjust. (I happen to believe that it was neither of these, but that is not the point of this column.)

The pacifist sees no war as just. With the same reasoning, pacifists, or like minded individuals, oppose the death penalty in any and all circumstances. In other words, in the minds of some people the taking of human life is never justified (unless, of course, it is still in the womb). I believe that these folks could not be further from the truth. In fact, I think that such placatory thinking is not only wrong, but subversive to true peace and justice.

On this matter C.S. Lewis wrote, “All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery. When soldiers came to St. John the Baptist asking what to do, he never remotely suggested that they ought to leave the army; nor did Christ when He met a Roman sergeant-major—what they called a centurion.”

Loving your neighbor as yourself, of course, does not mean ignoring his evil deeds or saying that he is nice when he is not. The word of God tells us that, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed. For in the image of God has God made man (Gen. 9:6).” In other words, as the pacifist would agree, life is indeed precious. This is why good government, for the sake of justice and civil harmony, must hold those who shed innocent blood to the ultimate accountability.

As noted historian David Barton puts it, “Life is God-given; He formed us, made us, and breathed life into us. Therefore, He gave clear commands both on preserving innocent life and on punishing those who take it (See, for example, Exodus 23:7, Deuteronomy 27:25 & 21:8-9 & 19:10, Proverbs 6:16-17, 2 Kings 24:4, Psalm 10:2,8, et al.)”

Just as Scripture supports capital punishment, it also supports the idea that a nation may go to war when the cause is just. The author of Hebrews in chapter 11, the champions of faith chapter, describes men such as “Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice…became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…” Thus here we have deeds of war lauded as acts of faith.

Abraham, with whom God covenanted, promising him descendants “as numerous as the stars in the sky,” waged war against and defeated five kings. He was then blessed by Melchizedek who was “priest of God Most High.” Christ Himself, being zealous for His Father’s house, made a “whip of chords,” which was no instrument of peace, and drove the money-changers out of the temple.

Founding Father John Jay, member of the Continental Congress, one of the three coauthors of the Federalist Papers, and first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of letters expounded on the biblical view of war. In them he goes into great detail of how Scripture supports the waging of justified war. In his first letter Jay asks, “If every war is sinful, how did it happen that the sin of waging any war is not specified among the numerous sins and offenses which are mentioned and reproved in both the Testaments?”

In his second letter Jay notes that, “The depravity which mankind inherited from their first parents, introduced wickedness into the world. That wickedness rendered human government necessary to restrain the violence and injustice resulting from it…The law of all the nations prescribed the conduct which they were to observe towards each other, and allowed war to be waged by an innocent against an offending nation, when rendered just and necessary by unprovoked, atrocious, and unredressed injuries…It is true that even just war is attended with evils, and so likewise is the administration of government and of justice; but is that a good reason for abolishing either of them? They are means by which greater evils are averted.”

Given all of this, some might wonder, what then is the difference between Christian morality and the rest of the world? There is a great deal of difference indeed, for the Christian knows that we are all eternal beings and this world is not our home. Death, though tragic, is not the end of all things. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves—to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good.”

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remembering to Thank God

Sir Walter Raleigh’s first attempts at settling the New World were disastrous. Much of this was the result of refusing to put God and His will first. The English, who were at that time trying to gain a foothold on the New World, were succumbing to the same greed that had earlier blinded the Spaniards. Starvation, disease, hostile Indians, and other hardships, including a whole colony lost (the Lost Colony of Roanoke), led to dampened enthusiasm for New World expeditions.

It would be nearly 20 years after Raleigh’s initial ventures before enough English interest could again be sparked for more New World adventure. In 1602, one of Raleigh’s captains, Bartholomew Gosnold, sailed to what is now Maine with 32 men. Fearing the natives, disease, and the coming winter, they returned to England less than four months after leaving.

Undeterred, Gosnold obtained an exclusive charter from King James I to form The Virginia Company with the purpose of establishing permanent settlements in North America. He and his fellow adventurers on December 16, 1606 again sailed for North America.

Despite recruiting “sermons” that contained messages of evangelical outreach, and the preamble of the Company’s charter, written by King James I, which contained the words, “…propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God, and may in time bring the infidels and savages, living in these parts, to human civility and to a settled and quiet government,” the lust for gold was, again, what drove the men of this expedition.

Evidence of this fact was that this first expedition sent by The Virginia Company contained exclusively men, 144 of them. Among them were no women or families, nor were these men heads of households going to prepare a homestead. Also, among these 144 was only one minister. In the words of David Marshall and Peter Manuel, these 144 men “were interested in one thing: getting their gold chamber pots and returning to England as soon as possible.”

On May 14, 1607, headed by a seven-man council, which included John Smith, these 144 men settled Jamestown. Because of their misguided efforts it was a disaster from the beginning. These men battled the elements, disease (including malaria), Indians, starvation, and one another. The lone minister on the adventure, Robert Hunt, did his best to keep the others focused on God. His sermons went mostly unheeded; however, he persevered. By February of 1608 only 38 of the 144 remained alive.

News of what was really happening in Virginia began to get back to England. To counteract this news The Virginia Company increased its propaganda campaign. They were successful for a while, and therefore investors continued to invest and settlers continued to settle. According to Marshall and Manuel, “The death rate in Virginia that second year was—incredibly—even higher than the first: out of every ten people that embarked for theNew World, nine would die!”

The death rate did not abate with time. Marshall and Manuel add, “For example, of the 1,200 people who went out to Virginia in 1619, only 200 were left alive by 1620. Why this horrible continuing death rate? There is no logical explanation, except one: year after year they steadfastly refused to trust God—or indeed to include Him in any of their deliberations.”

The next settlers to cross the Atlantic were not coming seeking wealth and prosperity, but were seeking a new home. They believed that America was their destiny. The Pilgrims, and the Puritans who followed them, are the people most responsible for the foundation of America as a Christian nation, and they knew better than to undertake anything without God.

On November 11, 1620, after dropping anchor in Cape Cod, the Pilgrims drafted a compact that would embody the same principles of government upon which American Democracy would rest. It read, “In the name of God, amen. We whose names are under-written…Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic…constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony…the 11th of November…Anno Domini 1620.”

On November 29, 1623, two years after the first Thanksgiving, Governor William Bradford made an official proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving. In it Governor Bradford thanked God for their abundant harvest, bountiful game, protection from “the ravages of savages…and disease,” and for the “freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.”

The Pilgrims had the proper perspective. As Bradford would so discernibly note, “As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light kindled here has shown unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation…We have noted these things so that you might see their worth and not negligently lose what your fathers have obtained with so much hardship.”

May we never forget the harsh lessons that many who attempted to settle this precious land had to learn due to turning away from their Creator and Provider. May we never forget all the struggles and hardships that those who founded our great nation had to endure. Last, may we never forget those godly principles and truths upon which our great nation was founded and thank Him who is the giver of all good things.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama Helps Pass Prop 8

Oh, the irony. With Barack Obama on the ballot, liberals thought they couldn’t lose. However, in California things did not go as planned. Much of the country was watching as Californians had on their ballot Proposition 8, which, if passed, would amend their state constitution to read, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The measure passed 52% to 48%.

The thick irony here is that, according to Colby Cash on nationalpost.com, “traditionalist churches needed help to pass Proposition 8—and that help came from black voters brought to the polls by Barack Obama. The measure lost outright among white and Asian voters; it won by more than two to one among blacks, who mostly belong to deeply conservative evangelical churches and who turned out on Nov. 4 in unprecedented numbers.” The measure was also supported by a majority (53%) of Hispanic voters.

I seriously question how “conservative” and “evangelical” any voting group is that overwhelmingly supports the ultra-liberal Barack Obama, especially given his abortion record. Further irony in this vote is that Obama himself came out against Proposition 8. In July of this year, in a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, Obama wrote that he supports extending “fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law…And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.”

The California vote just goes to show how unacceptable to Americans in general that gay marriage is. If it cannot pass in California it is unlikely to pass in any other U.S. State. The only way for the gay-marriage lobby to get its way is through judicial activism, with the state of Connecticut as the most recent example. With a 4 to 3 ruling on October 10 of this year, the Connecticut Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have a right to wed rather than engage in “civil unions.”

The gay-marriage lobby is now zero-for-thirty in their attempts to stop the citizens in U.S. states from passing constitutional amendments strictly defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Arizona andFlorida also passed similar measures in this election. A thirty-game losing streak is a pretty abysmal record, but gay marriage supporters are not giving up. True to their form, they are suing to block the amendment passed inCalifornia.

Proposition 8 was in response to the 4 to 3 decision by the California Supreme Court ruling in May of this year that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In 2000, 61% of California voters passed the ban (Proposition 22) which said, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.” Sadly, it must have been lost on most California voters, as well as voters across the country, that Obama would most likely appoint judges to the federal courts who see things much as the California and Connecticut courts did.

One thing that now must be decided is what to do about the 17,000 or so homosexual “marriages” that took place in between the California Supreme Court ruling and the passing of Proposition 8. Whether these “marriages” will be invalidated remains to be seen. Several states (at least 10) were leery of this scenario and cautioned the California court to delay finalizing its ruling until after the vote on Proposition 8. Of course, the California court in its “enlightened” wisdom refused to do so and now they have a legal mess on their hands, which they richly deserve.

Citizens across the country must keep a wary eye on the judiciary at the local, state, and federal levels. We must never forget that all branches of our wonderful government are ultimately accountable to “we the people.” However, foolish overreaching and “interpreting” by the courts can take years, even decades, to undo. Americans must understand the process by which judges make it to the bench and always keep this in mind as we elect our leaders.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Greatest Civil Rights Battle of All Time

In their desire to wash their hands of President George W. Bush, Americans handed the keys of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to Barak Obama. In addition, many Americans, in their lust to cross a great racial and civil rights hurdle, voted into the White House a politician with one of the vilest voting records towards the unborn ever seen in American politics. How ironic that so many talking heads are trumpeting Barak Obama’s victory as an unmatched milestone for civil rights, while the most discriminated against humans ever, the unborn, continue their plight.

At its despicable peak, the African slave population reached about four million in 1860. Between the years 1880 and 1951 the Tuskegee Institute reports that 3,437 African-Americans were lynched in the United States. Approximately 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust during World War II. A total of about 1.3 million American soldiers have died in all U.S. military conflicts. Each of these figures represents events that are uniquely tragic. However, they pale in comparison to the over 48 million Americans who have died in the womb since 1973.

Male and female; black, white, brown; children of every people group imaginable have suffered. Barak Obama has shown at best indifference and at worst unusual hostility towards the most defenseless amongst us. He is on record as saying that one of his first acts as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act which would supersede any laws that restrict any abortion. Yet his election to the highest office in the land is being hailed by many as a victory for the downtrodden and the oppressed.

With Obama taking office and with liberals now firmly in charge of both houses of Congress it is more important than ever that pro-life Americans let their voices be heard. Obviously many Americans were more concerned with their pocketbooks than with the plight of the unborn in this latest election.

All of us are selfish by nature and so it is not surprising that most Americans voted with their wallet in mind instead of the womb. America needs to be continually reminded of the legal “lynching’s” that take place inside women’s wombs to the tune of over 1 million per year.

Our Declaration of Independence states that, “all men are created equal,” and to many in our nation the election of a black man as our President has never made these words seem truer. However, immediately following that phrase our Declaration declares that we are endowed by our Creator “with certain unalienable rights,” and, of course, the first of these “rights” is the right to life.

Slavery nearly tore our nation in two, and hundreds of thousands of died to bring it to an end. After the calamity of the Civil War, it still took over a century later for America to finally properly recognize the equal rights and protections that were due a certain group of its citizens. It is time for similar actions to take place for those still in the womb.

It is beyond comprehension how any person can consider themselves a champion of civil rights and ignore the unborn. Liberals in America must shed their blatant hypocrisy and, not only enlist in the greatest civil rights battle of all time, but also help bring to an end the greatest holocaust the world has ever known.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Christian Response to Whoever Wins the Presidency

Writing in The Light and the Glory, Peter Marshall and David Manuel note that in hoping for America to be on the right path many Christians have “hoped that electing a Christian President would do the job. But as 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.’”

Marshall and Manuel continue, “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.”

Make no mistake; I believe that a liberal President with a liberal Congress could pose very dire consequences for our nation. As Thomas Sowell recently put it, “Add to Obama and Biden House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and you have all the ingredients for a historic meltdown.”

There is the old saying, “We get the government we deserve.” Those occupying the White House and the halls of Congress are, usually, a reflection of the electorate in general. If we want leaders who value life and liberty, who believe in the sanctity of biblical marriage and a limited role of government; if we want leaders who believe in a strong military and understand the role of commander-in-chief, then America needs the heart of the people to reflect these things.

When the nation of Israel insisted on a king, the prophet Samuel inquired of the Lord. Scripture reveals that the Lord told Samuel to give the Israelites what they asked for. The Lord added that, “It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me…” Samuel tried to warn Israel of the consequences of having a king to lead them. They would not hear of it. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations…”

During his farewell speech, after anointing Saul as Israel’s first king, Samuel told the people, “Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for.” So the Israelites got what they wanted, but after Samuel’s speech they realized their sin, saying, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

Samuel told them not to be afraid, even though they had done this evil. “Do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart,” Samuel said. He later added, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you…but be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart…yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

As Christians I believe that our response to this current election should be similar to Samuel’s response to the people of Israel. Whether or not we think the right man is elected President, or the right people occupy Congress, far be it from us to cease praying for our nation and our nation’s political leaders. Our duty is to follow God and his ways, whoever occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

God will not be surprised by the outcome of this election, and He has good plans for His people whatever the outcome. However, there almost certainly will be negative consequences for choosing the wrong political leaders. I don’t know perfectly whom God would rather see win elections, and no matter who wins, His number one desire is to have the heart of the people reflect His heart. I would also add that, no matter who wins on November 4, He is still on His throne and will be always.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mahoney Scandal Reveals Media Bias

In September of 2006, while on the verge of the 2006 Congressional midterm elections, Florida Representative Mark Foley was caught up in a salacious sex scandal involving lewd emails and instant messages with congressional pages that resulted in his resignation. The Main Stream Media (MSM) pounced on the scandal, and many pundits believe the scandal contributed significantly to the Democrats regaining control of both houses of Congress in 2006.

On September 17, 2006, about two weeks before the Foley scandal broke, a USA Today/Gallup poll showed Democrats and Republicans tied at 48% when voters were asked which party they preferred in congressional races. On October 8, 2006, about a week after Foley resigned from Congress, the same poll had Democrats with a 23 point advantage over Republicans, 59% to 36%.

Of course, there were other contributing factors to the Republican losses, but the Foley scandal was the final nail in the coffin for the GOP in 2006. Other House members suffered in the scandal as well, as it was revealed that several had some knowledge of Foley’s emails and messages well before the scandal broke. This included Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and, as a result, there were calls for his resignation.

The press played a great role in keeping Foley’s fall in the headlines. They asked questions and pressed hard for answers concerning what Hastert and others knew and when they knew it. This is not happening in U.S. Representative Tim Mahoney’s current scandal. If you have not heard of Tim Mahoney, you are not alone. The MSM has been suspiciously quiet in the matter.

Representative Mahoney is caught up in his own sex scandal and, ironically, is the Democrat who, campaigning on a platform of “faith and family values,” won Foley’s seat after his disgraceful fall from politics. Mahoney’s scandal contains curious circumstances that may extend well beyond a U.S. Representative committing adultery, but you wouldn’t know it from the MSM’s coverage.

For example, Mahoney paid off his mistress, who was a former staffer, to the tune of $121,000. He claims he paid her with his own money and not campaign funds, but are we simply to take his word for it? His mistress also was given a $50,000-a-year job with the advertising agency that handles Mahoney’s campaign buys.

Also, according to Fox News, Mahoney has admitted to “multiple other affairs.” He has not said specifically how many, but he has admitted to an affair with a high-ranking Martin county official from his congressional district. Fox News added that this affair took place while Mahoney “simultaneously [lobbied] the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give [Martin] county a $3.4 million hurricane clean-up reimbursement. The funds were awarded last year.”

Mahoney has insisted that there was no quid-pro-quo, but again, are we simply to take his word for it? It seems the MSM is at least content to accept Mahoney’s explanations, if not ignore the matter all together. NewsBusters reported that, “though all three broadcast network evening news programs covered the Foley sex scandal when it was first revealed on September 29, 2006, not one of them felt that the man who replaced him admitting to having an affair with a former campaign staffer was at all newsworthy.”

Furthermore, no one seems to be pressing the House Democratic leadership, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chair of the Democratic Caucus Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), on “what they knew and when they knew it.” According to ABC News, Emanuel had knowledge of Mahoney’s affair last year and even confronted him about it.

ABC News also reported that, according to Mahoney staffers, “Senior Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel… have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign.” However, ABC leaves it at that and so have the rest of the MSM.

I realize that media bias is something tossed around quite a lot, especially during an election season. Nevertheless, this situation reeks of bias. Thankfully the FBI is now involved in investigating Mahoney. I wonder how the MSM will feel about itself if the FBI upstages it in revealing the truth in this matter. I suppose it won’t feel too badly as long as nothing comes out before November 4.

The MSM kept the Foley scandal in the headlines up to the 2006 election and beyond. The liberal leanings of the MSM are no secret, and this is certainly further evidence. One popular talk-show host has referred to 2008 as “the year journalism died.” Looking the other way in Mahoney’s case may have been the “final nail” in journalism’s coffin.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama’s Healthcare Hypocrisy

So, Barack Obama, as he stated in his second debate with John McCain, thinks that healthcare is a “right for every American.” John McCain should have taken the opportunity and clarified that Senator Obama sees healthcare as a “right” for only those Americans who were not born alive during a botched abortion. The hypocrisy here is almost too much to bear.

As I pointed out in a previous column, it has been clearly demonstrated that Obama, while a member of the Illinois state Senate, opposed multiple versions of an Illinois bill that mirrored the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA).

In 2000 the original BAIPA was passed by the U.S. House by a vote of 380 to 15. This occurred in spite of opposition by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). Even staunch pro-abortion leaders, such as Jerrold Nadler, ignored the NARAL position and supported BAIPA. This version of BAIPA was later killed in the Senate by an objection to unanimous consent.

In 2001 the Illinois legislature took up a bill that was patterned after the federal BAIPA. Obama voted against this bill in committee. On the floor of the Illinois Senate, he later gave the only speech against the bill, saying, “I mean, it—it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.” (What?! We need the “equal protection clause” to tell us that we shouldn’t kill our children?!)

Obama finally, and “boldly,” voted “present” on the bill, which had the same effect as voting “no.” The bill passed the Illinois senate but died in a house committee. The scene pretty much repeated itself in 2002, this time with Obama voting “no.”

In 2002 a “neutrality clause” was added to the federal BAIPA. This clause basically said that, as far as federal law was concerned, legal protection could not be construed upon a human being prior to being “born alive.” This effectively protected Roe. The bill unanimously passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

Obama is on the record saying that he would have supported the Illinois bill had it contained the neutrality clause. In October of 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported, “Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act…”

However, in 2003 the exact language of the federal neutrality clause was added to the Illinois bill making it virtually identical to the federal BAIPA. In March of 2003, Obama chaired an Illinois Senate committee and led the Democrats on that committee to kill the amended bill.

In attempting to blunt the extremism of his abortion record, Obama has stated time and again that the lack of a neutrality clause was all that was preventing him from supporting the Illinois bill. When he was called out on the matter, Obama accused individuals and institutions of lying about his record. His campaign has since had to admit that his critics were correct about his voting record.

Whatever moral causes (such as “universal healthcare”) Senator Obama chooses to champion, nothing compares to the helplessness of a newborn child. Obama’s unwillingness to stand for these, along with his attempted deception in the matter, should give any voter great pause.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Budgeting and Stewardship

Speaking in the early 1990s, when the median price of a home was about $108,000, the late Larry Burkett asked, “What do think the price of a house would be if you couldn’t borrow to buy a house? Do you think a $108,000 house would sell for $108,000 if you couldn’t sell it to anybody with a loan?” His answer: “No way. Nor would it sell for $58,000. It would probably sell for around $28,000. Everything above that we’ve built into it through debt.” I wonder how much debt is built into the current median price of a home, which is now around $215,000.

Our attitude and behavior toward debt have made practically every large ticket item in our culture more expensive. As Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council recently wrote, “We have become a culture addicted to instant gratification and a fixation on the material. Increasingly, concepts such as duty, self-denial, hard work, delayed gratification, and patience have been swept away.” In other words, we are a culture addicted to debt.

Forget home debt for a moment and consider the amount of automobile debt Americans have. Bad automobile debt is contributing to the credit crisis in the U.S. The L.A. Times reported late last year that, with the number of risky car loans approaching the same level as the number of risky home loans, a new credit crunch could be on the horizon for Americans.

This could mean even more trouble for Wall Street as well. We could see more of what happened recently with Bill Heard Chevrolet, the nation’s largest Chevy dealer, which shut down all of its 14 dealerships due in large part to subprime car loans.

Of course, not all debt is bad. However, as I noted in my last column, (seen here), the current economic crisis is due mostly to an “irresponsible” attitude toward debt by the federal government, lending institutions, and individuals.

Also, as I pointed out in my last column, my wife Michelle and I have lived the past approximately 10 years of our lives completely debt free: owning our home, cars, and so on. We have committed to live the rest of our lives completely debt free. The financial position that we are in has special significance given the current economic downturn.

Certainly, owning a home was the largest obstacle to our remaining completely debt free. We own our home because over a three-and-a-half-year period, from early 2000 to late 2003, before we had children and just after we had eliminated our consumer debt, we built it from the ground up, contracting it and financing it completely ourselves. We performed much of the labor ourselves, but we also had a lot of help from family and friends. (This is quite a tale in itself, and I hope someday to tell it in writing.)

Our situation was and is a unique one; I certainly would not recommend that anyone do things exactly as we did them. As I mentioned before, our path was “a calling.” However, I do believe that there are tried and true, simple financial principles that we applied, and are still living by, that would benefit most anyone.
The first thing that we did, very early in our marriage and before we were out of debt, was establish a workable budget that, with adjustments, we maintain to this day. Whether we are talking about the government, a business, a church, or a family, a good budget is essential in maintaining a healthy bottom line.

A budget can help keep you from overspending in any particular pay period or in any particular area, help you plan for non-regular expenses, such as car repairs, and help you plan for your financial future. Establishing a budget can be a lengthy process. It can take as long as a full year to get a budget working well, but the benefits are well worth the hard work involved.

Our budget has played an essential role in helping us weather these difficult financial times. I despise the rise in gas and food prices that we have experienced over the last several months. Being a family of six, these increases have hit us hard. Our budget is in constant flux, but it helps us see the adjustments in spending that we need to make, and therefore maintain sound financial discipline.

I recently moved from teaching at a private school to teaching at a public one. This decision in large part was made for financial reasons. However, it was not a rushed decision. It was one that Michelle and I weighed carefully over many months, and our budget helped guide us in this decision. (See www.crown.org for help with budgeting.)

The second and most significant thing that I came to grips with financially, after budgeting, was the biblical principle of stewardship. In my last column I said that the bottom line for anyone financially is what you own vs. what you owe. However, I was speaking there in practical terms only.

The real bottom line when it comes to money and finances, and this is the most important financial principle taught in Scripture, is that none of us really “owns” anything. The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” We are merely stewards, or managers, of His property. Until we come to grips with this, we can never truly understand money and wealth.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What You Own vs. What You Owe

“An absolute principle of economics,” the late Larry Burkett wrote in his 1992 # 1 best seller, The Coming Economic Earthquake, is that, “No one, government or otherwise, can spend more than he or she makes indefinitely. At some point the compounding interest will consume all the money in the world.”

Larry added that, “With so many variables in the economy, the one non-variable is this: What you own belongs to you and not to a lender.” What Larry was encouraging folks to do here was to make debt a rare thing, and to get completely out of debt as soon as possible.

In this best-seller, Larry may not have foreseen the subprime mortgage crisis, but writing about mortgages, home equity loans, and easy lines of credit, he did note that, “Clearly many American homeowners have transferred the wealth stored in their homes to the lenders. In this case, it leaves both in jeopardy. Given the wrong set of circumstances, the homeowners will default, leaving the banks with huge inventories of homes they can’t sell.”

Approximately 18 months ago, it seems that “the wrong set of circumstances,” became “the perfect storm” for many homeowners, lenders, and the government. The latest big victims of this storm: Investment bank Lehman Brothers (fourth largest in the U.S.), insurance giant AIG, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Hundreds of billions of dollars will have been lost by homeowners and lenders by the time this turns around. I’m speaking here not only of those individuals who lost their homes, but also of those who have seen their homes plummet in value as a result of this mess.

With its bailout of companies “too big to fail,” its purchase of failed assets, and a pool at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to insure investors in money-market funds, according to some in Congress, the total cost for the federal government in all of this will be over a trillion dollars. Of course, by “the federal government” what I really mean is the U.S. taxpayer, or better still: you and me.

How did it get to this? The details are somewhat extensive and complicated, but simply put: America had too much bad consumer and corporate debt, especially in the area of home mortgages. The better question is: Where do we go from here? There is no easy answer, but first and foremost I believe that all parties involved here: the government, lending institutions, and U.S. citizens, need a much more cautious attitude toward debt.

Even Time magazine recently noted that, “We all will have to start living within our means—or preferably below them. If you don’t overborrow or overspend, you’re far less vulnerable to whatever problems the financial system may have.” That sounds like something Larry Burkett would have said.

My wife Michelle and I can testify to this wisdom. We have now been married for nearly eleven years and for about the past 10 years we have lived our lives completely debt free. This includes owning our home, our cars, and so on.

We are not, nor have we ever been, “rich,” at least by American standards. I’ve been a public or private school teacher for the last 15-plus years. Michelle worked full time for a Christian ministry early in our marriage, but has been a stay-at-home mom for about the last 7 years. Our income over the life of our marriage has always been at or slightly above the median income for Americans.

I take almost no credit for where we are financially. Michelle has always been more financially disciplined than me. Early in our marriage, through her efforts and the ministry founded by Larry Burkett, Christian Financial Concepts (now Crown Financial Ministries, www.crown.org), I embraced the simple, wise truths put forth in Scripture concerning money and debt. In other words, we are where we are financially by the grace and wisdom of God.

Our financial path has literally been a calling. After about a year of marriage I felt God was calling us to commit to live our lives totally and completely debt free, never going into debt again for anything. I have always felt that this calling was not simply to bless us personally, but that we were to be an example to others and encourage them to trust God to provide all that they need. (A snippet of our personal testimony from Crown Ministries can be seen here.)

I am not saying that it is wrong to be in debt. However, debt should be rare (as it used to be), and any debt should be paid off in full as quickly as possible. The bottom line financially, whether we’re talking about the government, banks, corporations, small businesses, churches, or an individual is: How much do you own and how much do you owe? Let me say from experience, it is much better to own than to owe.

I plan to share more of our financial journey, including some of the struggles we’ve faced with the current economic climate and other challenges as well, in my next column.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

McCain's Brilliant Choice

See, I told you that John McCain could be trusted to make good decisions for the country (See The Case for McCain on my Web site.). If Sarah Palin is any kind of indication as to the kind of people with whom he would surround himself as President of the United States, I can’t wait to see his first Supreme Court nominee.

The choice of Sarah Palin for his running mate was a brilliant decision by John McCain in numerous ways. First, and probably most importantly, she energized the base of the Republican Party and galvanized them behind McCain. Palin is a true-blue (or rather red) conservative. She is a Christian, is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, while also being fiscally conservative, and anti-establishment.

Palin is someone that every facet of the conservative base can get behind. Evidence of this was the money that came pouring into the campaign the weekend that she was chosen and continued to roll in the week of the Republican convention. McCain’s campaign raked in $7 million the day Palin was announced. They reported bringing in $10 million on the day of Palin’s convention speech, which was the most they ever raised in one day. Republicans now say that there will be no money advantage for Obama the rest of the campaign.

The choice of Palin demonstrates, again, the “maverick” image of McCain. This will continue his appeal to independents. Also, there is the obvious appeal to women, especially those who may have become disenfranchised with the Obama campaign not choosing Hillary. If nothing else, it keeps Obama playing defense as to why he passed over Senator Clinton for his V.P.

Also, Palin’s strengths match Obama’s strengths. He’s fresh and new, so is she. He’s articulate and well spoken, so is she. He’s handsome; she’s beauty-queen beautiful. He’s an African-American, she’s a woman.

In addition, her weaknesses, whether perceived or real, that liberals may point out, highlight even greater weaknesses in Obama. This gives the Republicans a retort for most every criticism that could be leveled at Palin. Liberals have said she doesn’t have enough experience. Conservatives responded that she has more than Obama.

Liberals will say she’s a small-town hick. Conservatives will respond that Obama is a big-city elitist. Liberals will say she comes from a radical church. Conservatives will quote Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright. Liberals will say she’s too conservative. Conservatives will point to Obama as the most liberal Senator in the U.S. Congress. Along with all of this, conservatives will note that Palin is on the under card for their party, while Obama has top billing with the Democrats.

What’s more, Palin has a life and a history to which most all Americans can relate. This cannot be said of any of the other candidates. McCain’s biography is so unique and amazing that no one can imagine himself as him. Obama is the graduate of two Ivy League schools (Columbia and Harvard) and has been involved in law or politics his whole adult life. Joe Biden has been in law and politics all of his adult life as well. In fact, he became a U.S. Senator at the Constitutionally minimum age of 30.

Palin is a graduate of the University of Idaho with a degree in communications-journalism. She worked in journalism and served on the PTA. She’s helped her husband run his family’s commercial fishing business. She served two terms on the city council in Wasilla, Alaska and later became mayor of Wasilla. In 2002 she ran for lieutenant governor of Alaska and lost in a close race. She was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and chaired that Commission from 2003 to 2004.

In 2006 Palin became the first female governor of Alaska and its youngest at age 42. In addition to all of this, she is a wife of 20 years and a mother of 5, including a son who is set to be deployed to Iraq this month. She hunts, fishes, and is a lifetime member of the NRA.

All of this gives Palin strong connections to the majority of Americans. Her life story is one that resonates across the heartland. It’s one that many young Americans, especially young women, can look at and say, “Yeah, I could do that.”

Many liberals know this, and this is why they have come after her. The attacks have been vicious. It was discovered through wild efforts to prove that Governor Palin’s last child was actually her grandchild, that her unwed 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant. Having their crazy theory quashed, liberals went after Bristol. (These liberals never seem to let the facts get in their way; i.e. Joan King’s August 26 article, which contained multiple false accusations about me. See my Web site for my response.)

It seems that many liberals imagined that since Palin’s daughter became pregnant out of wedlock, evangelical support might waver. This proved to be way off, and her attackers should have known better (though most liberals often get evangelicals wrong). Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Bush-Cheney in two elections even though Cheney has a lesbian daughter.

This election should ultimately come down to the contrasts between McCain and Obama. However, Palin has shaken up the election like no one else could have. I think John McCain could have won without her, but I also believe that with Palin on the ticket, he improved greatly his chances of victory.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Monday, September 1, 2008

When Liberal's Attack

The liberal backlash against Governor Palin is beginning to resemble the same attacks that Clarence Thomas had to endure. With the same lustily vengeful fervor as was leveled against Thomas, liberals have gone after Palin. Not surprisingly, the line of attack is similar to the one used against Thomas and is also a topic with which liberals seem very comfortable: a sex scandal.

Some liberals have recently accused Palin of faking her last pregnancy. These liberals contend that she did this to hide the fact that her oldest daughter, Bristol, was actually the one pregnant, and that Trig, the Down syndrome child born in April is actually Sarah Palin’s grandchild, not her son.

The Palins have now revealed that 17-year-old Bristol is currently about 5 months pregnant. This, of course, makes it impossible for her to be the mother of Trig.

With many liberals it’s not enough that you’re a minority or a female; what’s more important to them is that you tow the liberal party line. It just goes to show that it really isn’t about the color of your skin (or your gender), but about the content of your character. However, the kind of character for which they are looking must make one pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-evolution, anti-Creation, anti-Ten Commandments, anti-gun, and so on.

Much has been made of Governor Palin demonstrating her pro-life beliefs by delivering a Down syndrome child back in April. But little has been said about Bristol Palin, despite being 17 and unmarried, choosing to let her child live in this deadly abortion age in which we find ourselves. Twice now, under very difficult circumstances, the Palins have lived out their pro-life character.

As a contrast in character, consider the Palins’ response to their 17-year-old daughter becoming pregnant, and Governor Palin giving birth to a Down syndrome child, with what Barack Obama said when hypothesizing about one of his own daughters becoming pregnant, and his voting record on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA).

Speaking of Bristol’s pregnancy the Palins said, “Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support. Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family.”

Compare this to Barack Obama’s comments in April of this year when he said, “Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old—I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” Here, in only a hypothetical situation, Obama demonstrated his staunch anti-life character.

Also, as I wrote about recently here, Obama demonstrated just how anti-life he is in what amounts to infanticide. His opposition to a proposed Illinois law (a virtual copy of the federal BAIPA), which would have protected infants born alive during abortions, and his subsequent deception about it, reveal the lengths to which he will go to protect abortion on demand.

In the twisted world in which many liberals live, Obama is the hero and Palin the villain. Unlike what Clarence Thomas had to endure, with a mostly liberal Congress sitting in judgment of him, thankfully the American people will get to decide what kind of character they want in the White House.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama and the “Least of These”

A few days ago when Barack Obama was “Back in the Saddle” with Rick Warren, Obama uttered what was one of the most hypocritical statements ever offered by an American politician. When Obama was asked by Warren what he thought was, “the greatest moral failure of America,” he responded with, “I think America’s greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don’t abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me…”

In describing “the least of us,” Obama mentioned poverty, racism, and sexism. Sadly, the unborn failed to make his list. This is not surprising, given Obama’s vile record on abortion. It has now been clearly demonstrated (see here for National Right to Life’s detailed account) that Obama, while a member of the Illinois state Senate, opposed multiple versions of an Illinois bill that mirrored the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA).

According to National Right to Life, BAIPA was essentially “a simple two-paragraph proposal – [that] established…for all federal law purposes, any baby who was entirely expelled from his or her mother, and who showed any of the specified signs of life, was to be regarded as a legal person for however long he or she lived, and that this applied whether or not the birth was the result of an abortion or of spontaneous premature labor.”

In 2000 the original BAIPA was passed by the U.S. House by a vote of 380 to 15. This occurred in spite of opposition by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). Even staunch pro-abortion leaders, such as Jerrold Nadler, ignored the NARAL position and supported BAIPA. This version of BAIPA was later killed in the Senate by an objection to unanimous consent.

In 2001 the Illinois legislature took up a bill that was patterned after the federal BAIPA. Obama voted against this bill in committee. On the floor of the Illinois Senate, he later gave the only speech against the bill, saying, “I mean, it—it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.” (What?! We need the “equal protection clause” to tell us that we shouldn’t kill our children?!)

Obama finally, and “boldly,” voted “present” on the bill, which had the same effect as voting “no.” The bill passed the Illinois senate but died in a house committee. The scene pretty much repeated itself in 2002, this time with Obama voting “no.”

In 2002 a “neutrality clause” was added to the federal BAIPA. This clause basically said that, as far as federal law was concerned, legal protection could not be construed upon a human being prior to being “born alive.” This effectively protected Roe. The bill unanimously passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

Obama is on the record saying that he would have supported the Illinois bill had it contained the neutrality clause. In October of 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported, “Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act…”

However, in 2003 the exact language of the federal neutrality clause was added to the Illinois bill making it virtually identical to the federal BAIPA. In March of 2003, Obama chaired an Illinois Senate committee and led the Democrats on that committee to kill the amended bill.

In attempting to blunt the extremism of his abortion record, Obama has stated time and again that the lack of a neutrality clause was all that was preventing him from supporting the Illinois bill. When he was called out on the matter, Obama accused individuals and institutions of lying about his record. His campaign has since had to admit that his critics were correct about his voting record.

The hypocrisy of Obama’s “least of these” comment at Saddleback is beyond the pale. Whatever moral causes he chooses to champion, nothing compares to the helplessness of a newborn child. In other words there is nothing more “least” than an infant. Obama’s unwillingness to stand for these, along with his attempted deception in the matter, should give any voter great pause.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Compelling Issue in the "City of Man"

In the early 5th century, Saint Augustine wrote City of God. In this work he contrasts the Kingdom of God with the secular world system. Augustine presents all of human history as a conflict between the City of God and the City of Man (the secular world system). Recently John MacArthur spoke of “the compelling issue in the City of Man.” He was talking about sex.

Our society is obsessed with sex. MacArthur, referring to Augustine, notes that today, the war that is raging between the City of God, or biblical Christianity, and the City of Man, or the satanic world system, generally surrounds one single area: sex. MacArthur observes that, “Within the moral realm in our society the conflict is almost exclusively about sex.” Abortion, fornication, homosexuality, divorce, etc., he adds, are all sexual issues.

MacArthur concludes that, “the compelling issue in the City of Man” is the desire of many to be free to do whatever they want sexually. If you think he was far reaching, consider the changes in the Democratic Party platform for 2008. As noted recently by Linda Hirshman, writing for Slate, “The Democratic Party platform of 2008 finally dropped its old abortion language (‘safe, legal and rare’), which had asked that women not have abortions unless they absolutely must.” The platform now states that, “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

Hirshman adds that, “Should a woman desire to bear her child, the Dems advocate prenatal care, income support, and adoption programs to help her there, too.” In other words, not only are the Democrats fully in support of a woman being able to kill her child in the womb, they also support taxpayer funding for the grisly procedure. And if that weren’t enough, Hirshman implies that Democrats also support taxpayer funding for the woman if she should decide to spare her unborn child.

Hirshman had the audacity to frame the right to an abortion as a moral privilege. “Abortion is about the value of women's lives,” she boldly proclaims, while foolishly ignoring the fact that 50% of all those who die in the womb are women. As does MacArthur, Hirshman correctly relates the abortion-rights movement to the gay-rights movement. However, she does so to make the insane point that both of these groups show “the need to emphasize the role of morality in politics.” So those supporting abortion and homosexuality are to do so upon some moral ground?! The words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”

To show further the lengths that liberals will go to protect the “right” of individuals to have sex without consequences, Barack Obama has said that, “The first thing I'll do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).” FOCA, as co-sponsor Barbara Boxer has said, “supercedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose. That means a poor woman cannot be denied the use of Medicaid if she chooses to have an abortion.”

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has stated that “FOCA will supersede laws that restrict the right to abortion, including laws that prohibit the public funding of abortion.” NOW adds that, “FOCA prohibits states from enacting laws intended to deny or interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose abortion,” which would include laws that limit the access of minors to abortion.

Augustine was right; we are in a war, and it is a spiritual one. Whether we are talking about abortion, homosexuality, or pornography, the desire to have our sex “free” has taken us to depraved depths. We need more than a president and a Supreme Court that will stand on firm moral ground to bring us out of these depths, although just legislative and judicial action shouldn’t be ignored. The moral standards of a nation are reflected in its politicians and laws. Here’s hoping that after November 4 the United States can bear to look at itself in the mirror.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saving the Planet at the Expense of Mankind

“I’m trying to save the planet! I’m trying to save the planet!” The summer heat, caused of course by man-made global warming, must be causing Nancy Pelosi to repeat herself. I wonder if she was wearing a pair of red slippers and kicking her heals together during her plea.

Barack Obama tells us to properly inflate our tires and get tune-ups as part of his solution to expensive oil and gasoline, which is all well and good, but I would venture to say that most Americans have properly inflated tires and cars that don’t require tune-ups. Obama sounds like Jimmy Carter who, during the last oil and gas crunch in the late 1970s, went on national TV and told us to turn down our thermostats and put on sweaters. This, again, is not terrible personal advice, but like Obama’s recommendation, it is ridiculous as part of a national energy policy.

With gas reaching $4 a gallon, this is what we get from liberals? Vain repetitions about impending climate doom and admonitions to inflate our tires?! (Weather forecasters can barely get tomorrow right, and yet we are supposed to believe these climate alarmists when they preach gloom-and-doom that, even they admit, is years or decades down the road?!)

First of all, oil is a natural resource. It is not like we’re burning Styrofoam or plastics to fuel our cars. Also, according to recent studies published in the journal Science, burning oil is, ultimately, better for the environment than burning biofuels. The New York Times reported on this in February of this year noting that, “Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels [read: oil] if the full emissions costs of producing these ‘green’ fuels are taken into account.”

Secondly, as Christopher Monckton, a former policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher, recently demonstrated, the planet is not in a climate crisis, man-made or otherwise. According to Science and Public Policy Institute (SIPP), Monckton’s paper “demonstrates via 30 equations that computer models used by the UN’s climate panel (IPCC) were pre-programmed with overstated values for the three variables whose product is ‘climate sensitivity’ (temperature increase in response to greenhouse-gas increase), resulting in a 500-2000% overstatement of CO2’s effect on temperature.”

SIPP adds that, “The paper clearly and mathematically demonstrates there is no ‘climate crisis’ requiring massive government intervention, as falsely claimed by alarmists such as Al Gore.” (A link to Monckton’s peer reviewed paper is on my Energy/Global Warming archives (2008).)

Lastly, given the comments and actions of the radical environmentalists and the politicians who enable them, it seems that these “earth worshippers” are out to “save the planet” for the sake of the planet. Make no mistake about it; “Mother Earth” has become their idol. They have lost sight of the fact that the planet and all of its resources (including the delicious animal kingdom) were created for the benefit of mankind, not vice versa. In other words, human beings, not the earth, are the crown of God’s creation.

Fueled by liberalism, in the name of "saving the planet," it is the foolish views of the radical environmentalists that have led to the suffering and death of millions of human beings the world over. Everything from the indirect effects of disastrous biofuel policies to violent environmental terrorism to dreadful abortion practices reveal the callous disregard many environmentalists have for their fellow man.

Fossil fuels literally “fueled” the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. The Industrial Revolution gave birth to the Technology Revolution, of which we are currently in the midst. Advancing technologies will lead us to new energy sources (as it did with nuclear energy); however, responsible energy stewardship can, and should, involve the continued use of fossil fuels.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sweet Land of Generosity

Americans are the most generous people on the earth. WORLD Magazine recently reported that, “A new study by the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Prosperity says that Americans account for 45 percent of all philanthropic giving worldwide. Not only is that significantly more than any other nation on earth, it's also dramatically more on a per capita basis. One example: The average American gives 14 times more to charity than the average Italian.”

The Hudson Institute also revealed that the U.S. government gives more than any other nation on earth. According to their study, in 2006 the United States gave out $23.53 billion in aid, almost twice as much as No. 2 Great Britain ($12.46 billion). However, when private giving is included in the numbers, the U.S. total rises to $192 billion.

These numbers should not be surprising. Along with being the world’s lone military superpower and lone food superpower, the United States is the world’s lone economic superpower as well. Although we account for only about 4.5% of the world’s population, we account for more than 25% of worldwide economic activity.

WORLD Magazine also reported that the results of the Hudson Institute study came as no surprise to Arthur C. Brooks, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. “Americans give at least twice as much as anyone else,” Brooks said. “And we're giving now more than ever before.” WORLD adds that, “Brooks said the myth of the ‘ugly American’ has persisted in part because ‘it’s in the interest of a lot of people’—those who want to see the size and role of government enlarge, for example—‘to portray Americans as callous and uncaring.’”

“Callous” and “uncaring,” along with “hypocrite,” are favorite labels that many “big government” liberals try to attach to conservatives—especially Christian conservatives. Too often, they claim, Christians are driven politically by the issues of abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring the plight of the poor, the sick, those suffering from racism, etc. I submit that it is the Christians who are most concerned with the suffering of others, and part of the evidence is in their “social activism.”

When it comes to social involvement, recent George Barna research (www.barna.org) showed a significant difference between what he describes as “active-faith” Americans, [the vast majority of whom are Christians] who tend to be more conservative in their politics, and “no-faith” Americans, who tend to be more liberal. Barna reports that, “One of the most significant differences between active-faith and no-faith Americans is the cultural disengagement and sense of independence exhibited by [no-faith Americans] in many areas of life. They are less likely than active-faith Americans to be registered to vote (78% versus 89%), to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20% versus 30%), to describe themselves as ‘active in the community’ (41% versus 68%), and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41% versus 61%).”

There is also a significant difference between active-faith Americans and no-faith Americans when it comes to the amount of money donated to charitable causes. On this, Barna notes that, “The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is over seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500).” Furthermore, as of 2005, according to the Christian Science Monitor, of the top 10 U.S. charities that are categorized as social services or relief/development, nine are Christian charities.

When it comes to domestic charity, total U.S. giving in 2006 was just over $295 billion according to The Giving USA Foundation. Of this amount, 83.4% was given by individuals, which far outpaces the giving by U.S. corporations, whose total giving came in at 4.3%. [Giving by foundations made up the other 12.3%.] According to Generous Giving Inc., “religious observers, which are those who attend weekly services [again, the vast majority are Christian], while only about 38% of all Americans, donate two-thirds of all charitable dollars in the United States.”

Now, I am not saying that all Christians are conservative in their politics, and neither am I implying that all Christians are generous while all non-Christians are not. In fact, I would suggest that while Christians do most of the charitable giving (as they should) in the U.S., they could (and should) be doing quite a bit more. For example, Generous Giving also reported that, while religious observers give significantly more than the non-religious, their giving still only amounts to 3.4% of their annual income.

If Christians want to give less of their money to government, while at the same time having more control over how what they give is spent, I suggest that they give more to the churches and the charities that are “loving their neighbors as themselves.” Also, Christians should invest not only their money, but also their time in caring for those in need. In this way we can show our fellow Americans what should have been clear all along: the Church is better at charity than the government is.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sweet Land of Generosity

Americans are the most generous people on the earth. WORLD Magazine recently reported that, “A new study by the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Prosperity says that Americans account for 45 percent of all philanthropic giving worldwide. Not only is that significantly more than any other nation on earth, it's also dramatically more on a per capita basis. One example: The average American gives 14 times more to charity than the average Italian.”

The Hudson Institute also revealed that the U.S. government gives more than any other nation on earth. According to their study, in 2006 the United States gave out $23.53 billion in aid, almost twice as much as No. 2 Great Britain ($12.46 billion). However, when private giving is included in the numbers, the U.S. total rises to $192 billion.

These numbers should not be surprising. Along with being the world’s lone military superpower and lone food superpower, the United States is the world’s lone economic superpower as well. Although we account for only about 4.5% of the world’s population, we account for more than 25% of worldwide economic activity.

WORLD Magazine also reported that the results of the Hudson Institute study came as no surprise to Arthur C. Brooks, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. “Americans give at least twice as much as anyone else,” Brooks said. “And we're giving now more than ever before.” WORLD adds that, “Brooks said the myth of the ‘ugly American’ has persisted in part because ‘it’s in the interest of a lot of people’—those who want to see the size and role of government enlarge, for example—‘to portray Americans as callous and uncaring.’”

“Callous” and “uncaring,” along with “hypocrite,” are favorite labels that many “big government” liberals try to attach to conservatives—especially Christian conservatives. Too often, they claim, Christians are driven politically by the issues of abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring the plight of the poor, the sick, those suffering from racism, etc. I submit that it is the Christians who are most concerned with the suffering of others, and part of the evidence is in their “social activism.”

When it comes to social involvement, recent George Barna research (www.barna.org) showed a significant difference between what he describes as “active-faith” Americans, [the vast majority of whom are Christians] who tend to be more conservative in their politics, and “no-faith” Americans, who tend to be more liberal. Barna reports that, “One of the most significant differences between active-faith and no-faith Americans is the cultural disengagement and sense of independence exhibited by [no-faith Americans] in many areas of life. They are less likely than active-faith Americans to be registered to vote (78% versus 89%), to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20% versus 30%), to describe themselves as ‘active in the community’ (41% versus 68%), and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41% versus 61%).”

There is also a significant difference between active-faith Americans and no-faith Americans when it comes to the amount of money donated to charitable causes. On this, Barna notes that, “The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is over seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500).” Furthermore, as of 2005, according to the Christian Science Monitor, of the top 10 U.S. charities that are categorized as social services or relief/development, nine are Christian charities.

When it comes to domestic charity, total U.S. giving in 2006 was just over $295 billion according to The Giving USA Foundation. Of this amount, 83.4% was given by individuals, which far outpaces the giving by U.S. corporations, whose total giving came in at 4.3%. [Giving by foundations made up the other 12.3%.] According to Generous Giving Inc., “religious observers, which are those who attend weekly services [again, the vast majority are Christian], while only about 38% of all Americans, donate two-thirds of all charitable dollars in the United States.”

Now, I am not saying that all Christians are conservative in their politics, and neither am I implying that all Christians are generous while all non-Christians are not. In fact, I would suggest that while Christians do most of the charitable giving (as they should) in the U.S., they could (and should) be doing quite a bit more. For example, Generous Giving also reported that, while religious observers give significantly more than the non-religious, their giving still only amounts to 3.4% of their annual income.

If Christians want to give less of their money to government, while at the same time having more control over how what they give is spent, I suggest that they give more to the churches and the charities thatare “loving their neighbors as themselves.” Also, Christians should invest not only their money, but also their time in caring for those in need. In this way we can show our fellow Americans what should have been clear all along: the Church is better at charity than the government is.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Born Again Vote

Recently, conservative Christian leaders gathered to discuss getting behind John McCain for president. Time magazine reported on this gathering that occurred July 1 in Denver. The Christian vote is an important bloc for conservative republicans (or any candidate). For decades now, born again Christians have been one of the largest and most likely to vote groups in the country.

According to researcher George Barna (barna.org), born again Christians constituted about 48% of the vote in the 2000 presidential election and 53% of the vote in the 2004 presidential election. Interestingly, Barna also points out that the 53% total in 2004 occurred while born again Christians made up only 38% of the U.S. population. Barna research in January of this year revealed 68 million U.S.voters who were born again Christians.

In the 2000 campaign, four out of five born again adults were registered to vote, compared to only two out of three non-born again adults. Also, Barna reported that in the 2000 election, born again Christians were much more likely actually to vote than those who were not born again, by a 59% to 46% margin. Furthermore, recent Barna research shows that born again Americans were more likely to follow an election closely and more likely to say that it is “very important” to vote.

Barna also reported that George Bush handily won the born again vote in both of his elections: by a 57% to 42% margin in 2000 and 62% to 38% in 2004. This compares to a closer 49% to 43% edge for Bob Dole over Bill Clinton in 1996 and an even tighter 39% to 35% for George H.W. Bush over Clinton in 1992. Given these numbers, it would appear that for John McCain to do well in 2008 against BarakObama, he should aim for at least 55% of the born again vote.

The power of the born again bloc was particularly evident in the republican primaries, with the significant wins achieved by Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee across the “Bible Belt.” It was most certainly the born again Christian vote that propelled Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, to victory in five key states on “Super Tuesday,” to go along with his other primary victories. For many of these voters, issues like abortion and gay marriage are more important than illegal immigration, the economy, and so on. It’s not that the other issues don’t matter, but the issues that carry more moral weight are going to be significant with born again Christians.

This begs the question, what drives born again Christians to the polls? Barna’s research showed that for George W. Bush, “The positions on issues that attracted the greatest number of born again voters to Bush were those related to abortion and taxes.” Also, the issue of gay marriage has been a big motivator for born again Christians in recent elections, especially in 2004. Thirteen states passed constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage in 2004. This almost certainly brought many born again Christians to the polls. Three states, including the swing state of Florida, have marriage amendments on the ballot in 2008.

Of course, issues change over time, and given the current state of the economy, it will almost certainly be the number one issue with every voting bloc in this election. The war and illegal immigration will also almost certainly be big issues for all voters in November. However, the Barna research from January of this year revealed that for born again Christians the top five issues were: personal indebtedness (mentioned by 79% of respondents), poverty (mentioned by 78%), HIV/AIDS (77%), illegal immigration (68%), and abortion (67%).

The top five issues for the 15 million registered evangelical Christians (22% of born again Christians) differed a bit from the born again list. (For purposes of his research, Barna regards evangelicals as a subset of born again Christians.) They were: abortion (94%), personal debt (81%), the content of television and movies (79%), homosexual activists (75%), and gay and lesbian lifestyles (75%). Interestingly, of all the voter groups identified by Barna, evangelicals were the most likely to be concerned about illegal immigration; however, as shown above, it did not make the top five in their list.

It will be interesting to watch the exit polling data following the November elections to see what was important to all voters and to see what groups supported whom. To see how Christians and other groups voted, be sure to check out www.barna.org.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, June 29, 2008

2nd Amendment Victory

Five-to-four. Amazing. By one vote our U.S. Supreme Court decided that the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution is still in effect. It should not have been this close. What is most amazing is that four U.S. Supreme Court Justices thought it within their power to rule the 2nd Amendment null and void. The minority opinion of justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter is a perfect illustration of just how far a majority liberal Supreme Court would take us. Given the opportunity, as they had in this case, they would, by themselves, amend the U.S. Constitution.

The wise framers of our great nation provided a means by which our Constitution is to be amended, but why bother with two-thirds of Congress, or a national convention, and then ratification of three-fourths of the states when all you need are five justices.

Amending our Constitution is a very serious matter. That is why in over 200 years, since the original 10 (Bill of Rights) were ratified in 1791, out of literally thousands of attempts, there have been only 17 additional amendments. It is not an easy thing to do, and it is not supposed to be.

Washington Post columnist Colbert King trumpeted the classic liberal retort after the ruling. His response on the day the ruling came out began, “There's one group of District residents absolutely unfazed by today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling shooting down the District's strict handgun ban: the dudes who have been blowing away their fellow citizens with abandon since the law was put on the books 32 years ago.” As if the “dudes” blowing away folks were ever concerned with laws for or against their guns. Actually what the court did was come to the rescue of the D.C. citizens who are the victims of such lawlessness.

Continuing his rant, but actually helping to make the conservative case against gun control laws, King states, “The record will show that our home-grown shooters have blown through the city's so-called strict handgun ban like John Riggins going up the middle. Over the past 20 years, there have been more than 6,500 homicides in the nation's capital, most committed with firearms, predominantly handguns. In 1976, the year the ban was put in place, the District had 135 gun-related murders…Last year, the number reached 143.”

In other words, the D.C. gun ban did nothing to decrease violent handgun crimes. All it did was take guns out of the hands of its law-abiding citizens. Mr. King entitled his column, “The Thugs Win the Case.” It turns out the “thugs” were winning all along.

John McCain came out strongly supporting the court’s decision. Barack Obama did his best to straddle the fence and dance around questions on whether he supported the ruling. However, last year his campaign stated that he supported the D.C. ban and thought it constitutional. Also, Obama refused to sign an amicus brief signed by a bipartisan group of 55 Senators, including McCain, arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn the DC gun ban.

Obama has declared himself a “strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment;” however when running for the Illinois state Senate, he signed a document stating that he supported state legislation that would ban “the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” He has also said things like, “I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities,” and he voted against letting people violate local weapons bans even in cases of self-defense.

Moments after the Supreme Court’s D.C. ruling, in Obama’s home state, the Illinois State Rifle Association sued to overturn the city of Chicago’s ban on handguns. Chicago’s Democrat Mayor Richard Daly was outraged by the D.C. ruling, saying, “It is frightening that America loves guns.” This sounds a lot like Obama’s lament on how “bitter” Americans “cling to guns or religion.”

I’ve written at length this year about the importance of the judiciary when it comes to our upcoming elections. This goes not only for the presidential election, but for the senate elections as well, as they must approve those appointed for the bench by the President. There is a clear choice between the two parties when it comes to the view of the judiciary. When you vote, make sure you keep this in mind.

Copyright 2008, 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
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com