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Saturday, December 18, 2010

His Peace

Job, in the middle of being rebuked by his “friends,” declared, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” In other words, from Job’s point of view, life is rather short and sour. Who could blame him for such an observation? Job had just lost virtually all of his worldly possessions, including every one of his children.

Certainly few, if any, of us have suffered or are suffering as Job did. Nevertheless, these are difficult days for many. Trying times such as these make it quite apparent that this life is “full of trouble.” Currently, for most, the source of such trouble is financial. Virtually every opinion poll that surveys Americans on national priorities reveals that U.S. citizens overwhelmingly see the economy as the number one priority. Nothing reveals the harshness of life quite as clearly as financial difficulties. After all, as the Book of Job describes, when Satan was given permission to test Job, his first strike was against Job’s financial well being.

Satan then took Job’s children from him. Is there any heavier burden in this world than the one carried by the parent who must bury his child? Job had to bury many. Being a “righteous man,” and having the proper perspective on life and possessions, upon hearing of the death of his children, Job’s prior losses almost certainly vanished from his mind. All of his other sufferings surely paled in comparison. Yet, Job persevered. He fell down and worshipped God, declaring, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Unemployment, business failure, divorce, sickness, hunger, poverty, pain, death—there is virtually no limit to the tribulations facing us in this dark world. This should come as no surprise, as Scripture frequently reveals. The Apostle John tells us that “the world around us is under control of the evil one.” As C.S. Lewis, a veteran of World War I, put it, “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what the world is.” Jesus Himself noted that, “In this world (we) will have trouble.”

However, Christ also tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In spite of what this world will bring us, Christ tells us that we have no reason to fear or doubt. Whatever our circumstances or situation, He will give us His peace.

Peace. Isn’t that what so many of us are searching for? As we pursue money, relationships, good health, notoriety, retirement, and so on, are we not really striving for that “peace… that passes all understanding”? Whatever trials, whatever evil may come our way, don’t we really just want to know that everything is going to be alright?

As Job and others reveal, human beings can be amazingly resilient, able to cope with most anything—even death—as long as we have peace about it. And there is no peace like God’s peace.

Of course, God’s peace is nothing like the hippy-liberal-Code Pink-flower child idea of peace. God never tells us that following Him will mean an end to all conflict and struggle in this fallen world. His peace comes as a result of His righteousness and justice, and as with all good things, His love.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” sang the angels announcing the coming of the Christ child. Thus God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy and righteousness, decided to invade this “enemy-occupied” territory and make things right.

However, Jesus didn’t simply come into the world “to make bad people good,” notes Ravi Zacharias. “He came into the world to make dead people live.” What greater comfort, what greater peace, is there than to know that, even if the valley of the shadow of death overcomes us, we will yet live? “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?”

What a reason for a celebration! What a time for a holiday! As Christmas approaches, may the “Prince of Peace” give you all that you truly need and are longing for.

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks

Sir Walter Raleigh’s first attempts at settling the New World were disastrous. The English, who were now 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 the New 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 would not make the same mistakes. They were not seeking wealth and prosperity, but a new home. They believed that America was their destiny. The Pilgrims, and the Puritans who followed them, 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, and the Puritans who followed them, 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.”

On June 11, 1630, aboard the Arbella, John Winthrop, the leader of the first Puritans, wrote A Model of Christian Charity, which became a model for future constitutional covenants of the Colonies. It reads:

“We are a Company, professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, (and thus) we ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love…For the work we have in mind, it is by a mutual consent through a special overruling providence, and a more than an ordinary approbation of the Churches of Christ to seek out a place of Cohabitation and Consortship under a due form of Government both civil and ecclesiastical…

“Thus stands the cause between God and us: we are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a Commission; the Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles…

“We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when He shall make us a praise and glory, that men of succeeding plantations shall say, ‘The Lord make it like that of New England.’

“For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”

As we sit down this Thanksgiving Day, we should recognize and remember, as did the Puritans and the Pilgrims before them, the One who is most deserving of our thanks. Let us not lose sight of Him who is the giver of all good things. Scripture says that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” He created us and everything around us. He gave us life, and through His Son, salvation. As the Psalmist notes, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

Have truly happy and memorable Thanksgiving.
 
Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inconvenient Science

For decades now, liberals have been preaching to us the “science” behind “global warming”—I mean “climate change”—I mean “global climate disruption.” (It’s hard to keep up. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has had almost as many labels as Al Gore has private jets!) “The science is settled,” we’ve been told. Those of us who doubt are branded with numerous labels as well: “deniers,” “flat-earthers,” “anti-science,” “know-nothings,” and so on.

The name-calling is even worse when it comes to “deniers” of Darwinian evolution (D.E.). Here, the ridicule is truly rampant. Of course, this is to be expected when it comes to the holiest of all liberal doctrines—the guiding philosophy of their prevailing worldview. (Nothing gets a liberal more worked up than a creationist!)

It is quite unsurprising, then, that liberals have united behind both the “science” of AGW and D.E. The worldview behind D.E. in almost every way agrees with those who have turned their eyes toward “Mother Earth”—worshipping and serving “created things rather than the Creator.”

After all, D.E. teaches that, since all life sprang from the same single-celled source, all living things are related. Darwinian evolutionists see humans, along with all other living things, strictly as a product of nature and natural processes. Therefore, to see humans on equal footing with all other life and owing our very existence to the earth are very logical conclusions for such a philosophy. Thus, the earth-worshipping environmentalist is almost always a Darwinist, as well.

As much as liberals disparage religion, especially Christianity, how ironic it is that D.E. and AGW inspire such a religious-like following. Eminent geologist, Ian Plimer, a Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (University of Adelaide), Emeritus Professor in the School of Earth Sciences (University of Melbourne), and ardent atheist, is also a vehement opponent of AGW.

Plimer calls AGW “the new religion of First World urban elites,” adding that “Environmentalism has many of the hallmarks of failed European socialism and Western (failed) Christianity. It has a holy book which few have read (IPCC reports), has prophets (Gore) who cannot be challenged, relies on dogma, ignores contrary evidence, has armies of wide-eyed missionaries...; imposes guilt, has a catastrophist view of the planet, and seeks indulgences.”

D.E. also has many of the marks of religion. Evolutionists, themselves, admit as much. Dr. Michael Ruse, a philosopher of biology at Florida State University, previously a philosopher of science, especially evolutionary science, at the University of Guelph in Ontario, has authored several books on Darwinism and evolutionary theory. Ruse, also an atheist, regularly debates, and has testified in federal court, in support of D.E. In a May, 2000 article in the National Post he wrote, “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”

Leave it to atheists to recognize a religion when they see one!

Darwinian evolution attempts to explain the past. Global warming alarmists speculate about the future. But what about the science of the here-and-now? Surely those who hold themselves up as “champions for science” would not ignore what they can see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears. Surely someone so reliant on and trusting of what “science” reveals to us would not allow himself to be led astray by elegant language, foolish logic, and downright propaganda.

Oh, but they have—for as zealously as liberals believe in AGW and D.E., they also passionately support the “right” of a woman to end the life of her unborn child and are enthusiastically behind the homosexual agenda.

Life in the womb for a child is as well documented as anything in science. With ultrasound and Doppler machines, as well as other technology, one can monitor the life of a baby in the womb from very near the beginning until birth.

Moments after conception (hardly a serious biologist in the world would argue that life does not begin at conception), the resulting single cell contains all 46 chromosomes necessary to grow into an adult human being. Within 48 hours of conception, the mother’s body starts producing a hormone to let her know that she is pregnant. In the beginning of the third week, the baby’s heart begins to beat with a blood type that is often different from its mother’s.

During week five, eyes, legs, and hands have begun to develop. By week six, brain waves are detectable. Week eight, has every organ in place, bones begin to replace cartilage, and the baby can begin to hear. By week 12, the baby is nearing the end of the first trimester. She has all the necessary parts to experience pain, including her nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus. She can grasp objects placed in her hand and has fingerprints, a skeletal structure, and circulation.

By week 15, she has an adult’s taste buds. Week 20, the earliest stage at which partial-birth abortion is performed, the child can recognize her mother’s voice. She is within one or two weeks of the stage where babies can routinely be saved outside the womb.

Yet, in spite of all that science clearly reveals here, for decades now, liberals, driven by their (usually) godless philosophy of Darwinian evolution, have denied or ignored the science of the human womb. In the name of money—Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar-plus industry, not to mention the other capitalistic forces that profit from abortion—and sexual “freedom,” liberals have placed their wallets and their libidos above science and morality.

Speaking of a liberal’s libido, real science does no favors for the homosexual movement either. As White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett recently learned, even well established liberals can draw the ire of the homosexual community by simply implying that homosexuality is not innate (meaning genetic), but is rather a “lifestyle choice.” (Of course, Jarrett quickly back-tracked and apologized.) We’ve been told for nearly 20 years now that homosexuality is a genetic and unchangeable behavior—that people are born gay.

In 1993, when the journal Science published a study by Dean Hamer (et al) which strongly suggested there was a gene for homosexuality, an eager and complicit media celebrated. National Public Radio trumpeted the findings. Newsweek’s cover asked, “Gay Gene?” The Wall Street Journal announced, “Research Points Toward a Gay Gene…” The New York Times noted, “Report Suggests Homosexuality Is Linked to Genes.”

However, noted psychiatrist, physicist, and author (Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth) Jeffrey Satinover concluded that “the Hamer study is seriously flawed.” Many genetic researchers also quickly took issue with Hamer’s study. However, the myth grew.

Today, it is commonplace for liberals in the media, Hollywood, and like-minded politicians again to ignore the real science and continue to perpetuate the falsehood that homosexuality is strictly genetic.

Dr. Satinover notes that, “The notion that ‘homosexuals’ are in effect a ‘different species’ (different genes) is ludicrous beyond belief. There is not the slightest evidence for that as anyone who actually reads the studies (not reports on the studies) knows.” What science does reveal is that homosexuality is a rather unhealthy and quite dangerous lifestyle.

According to the CDC, gay and bisexual men account for more than 60 percent of all syphilis cases, and more than 82 percent of all known sexually-transmitted AIDS cases in 2006 were the result of male-to-male sexual contact. During its 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, the CDC revealed that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women. Also, the rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women.

According to Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, “While the heavy toll of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men has been long recognized, this analysis shows just how stark the health disparities are between this and other populations.” Just weeks ago, a CDC study revealed that 1 in 5 gay men in U.S. cities has HIV.

Also occurring at a much higher rate among MSM are gonorrhea, various forms of hepatitis, and anal and genital warts. In 2007 the Los Angeles Times reported the frequency of methamphetamine use is 20 times greater among MSM than in the general population. What’s more, homosexuals have a twenty-five to thirty-year decrease in life expectancy and a much higher than usual incidence of suicide.

All of this, and I haven’t even mentioned the shaky science that is behind AGW and D.E.! So, the next time you hear or read of someone holding up liberalism as a bastion of science and reason, remember it is their side that is blinded by ideology and their “religion.” Perhaps even point out some of the “inconvenient truths” mentioned above.

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Fruit of Islam

(See also: Two Shades of Dismay: The Perverse Bondage Wrought by Liberalism and Islam)

The 9th anniversary of 9/11, continued hostilities abroad, a Ground Zero mosque, Koran burnings—tensions between Americans and Muslims have never been higher. We should not be surprised. As the renowned and pioneering historian Bernard Lewis noted 20 years ago in The Roots of Muslim Rage, “the classical Islamic view, to which many Muslims are beginning to return, [is that] the world and all mankind are divided into two: the House of Islam, where the Muslim law and faith prevail, and the rest, known as the House of Unbelief or the House of War, which it is the duty of Muslims ultimately to bring to Islam.”

After the events of 9/11, Professor Lewis, in The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, also noted that much of the animosity directed toward the West, particularly the United States, is due to old-fashioned envy—stemming from Western progress and Islamic decline. As one reviewer put it, the crux of Lewis's argument is “the sources of rage among Muslims stem from the deep frustration over the loss of a cultural primacy that was once theirs and has now been lost to the forces of modernity, especially as represented by the United States.”

It is rather telling to examine “the loss of cultural primacy” within Islam, along with the overall effect Islam is having on nations and individuals the world over. Of the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as rated by the Economists Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy, none are full democracies, while 35 are authoritarian regimes (dictatorships). Of the Index’s 10 most authoritarian regimes, 7 of them are members of the OIC.

Muslims are 23 percent of the world population and produce barely seven percent of global GDP. The median GDP rank for the members of the OIC is 124 (out of 181 nations). The total GDP of the 57 member OIC is approximately $4.2 trillion. That is less than one-third of the GDP of the U.S. alone ($14.3 trillion).

According to the United Nations’ Arab Development Report: More than half of Arab women cannot read; One in five Arabs lives on less than $2 per day; There are less than 18 computers per 1,000 persons in the Arab world, compared to the global average of 78.3; and only 1.6 percent of Arabs use the Internet.

In the 57 nations in the OIC there are a total of about 500 universities. There are over 5,700 in the U.S. In just over 100 years, the Muslim world has produced eight Nobel Laureates while a mere 14 million Jews have produced 167. There are about 400 scientists and engineers per 1 million people in research and development in Arab countries, compared to about 4,000 per million people in North America.

Particularly disturbing, and most telling, as one examines Islam, is the role of women in Islamic society. Islamic law (Shariۥa) prohibits women from looking men in the eye, forbids them from wearing shoes that make noise, and forbids them from becoming educated. As Ergun and Emir Caner note in Unveiling Islam, “women are considered possessions in any orthodox Islamic regime…The wife is considered the husband’s sex object.” Also, one of the most alarming admonitions in the Koran allows the husband to punish his wife physically.

Of the 8 nations that the U.S. has placed on its State Sponsors of Terrorism list, 6 of them are Islamic regimes. Of the 20 nations the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has under its Country of Particular Concern designation, or on its watch list, half are Islamic regimes (all of the others are differing authoritarian regimes, along with India, Russia, and Venezuela). Nice company, huh?

Religious freedom in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia is virtually non-existent. Like many other Muslim countries, Saudi law states that Islamic apostasy—denying the faith or converting to another religion—is a crime punishable by death. In 2006, Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman was arrested (after it was discovered that he possessed a Bible) and faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity. Intervention by Afghan president Hamid Karzai resulted in the charges against Rahman being dismissed.

Leading Afghan clerics were highly critical of Karzai, noting that “The Qur'an is very clear and the words of our prophet are very clear. There can only be one outcome: death.” This attitude is very prevalent across the Arab world, validating Professor Lewis’s notion that “many Muslims are beginning to return” to the “classical [violent and repressive] Islamic view.”

In Turkey in 2007, two Turkish converts to Christianity were killed in the Malatya Bible Publishing Firm murders. Also in 2007, Mohammed Hegazy became the first Egyptian Muslim officially to seek to convert to Christianity. An Egyptian judge ruled that, “He can believe whatever he wants in his heart, but on paper he can't convert.” Muslim clerics issued fatwas calling for his death. His wife’s family has sworn to kill her because she married a non-Muslim. They are both currently in hiding.

All of this pales to the slaughter in Sudan. The Institute on Religion and Democracy reports that “since 1983 Sudan has been devastated by a jihad or holy war led by the militant National Islamic Front, the ruling regime in Khartoum, against all in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains who opposed the imposition of Shariۥa, or Islamic law. The government-sponsored terror has resulted in the deaths of at least two million moderate Muslims, animists, and Christians.”

Of course, as the Caners point out, “Any major religion must first be seen through the eyes of its founder…Muhammad commanded in the Qurۥan, ‘Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them’ (surah 9:5)…in a world searching for peace, following the life of this warrior brings about bloodshed.” Moments before Abu Mus'ad Al Zarqawi cut off the head of American Nicholas Berg, he said these words in Arabic: “The Prophet, the master of the merciful has ordered to cut off the heads of some of the prisoners of Badr in patience. He is our example and a good role model.”

Zarqawi knew that Muhammad had often used beheading as the means of executing his enemies. Thus, Zarqawi was unmistakably choosing to emulate his “good role model” and spiritual leader.

Clearly, by and large, Islam is an enforced religion with a violent founder, a violent founding, and a very violent past and present. Islam is generally repressive to women and to those of other faiths. Islam is typically financially devastating and technologically backwards. Jesus Christ said, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart (Luke 6:43-45a).” The fruit of Islam is bitter, indeed.

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gay Marriage: The End Game

In the last 15 years, the battle for the definition of marriage has been waged full force. It has supplanted abortion (though they are related to one another) as the principal cultural conflict in our society. The courts, where liberals have had more success, and the electorate, where conservatives have dominated, have both experienced dozens of skirmishes between the warring parties.

Tens of millions of people have voted. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent. Preachers have preached; politicians and pundits have pontificated. The weak and the dispassionate certainly have grown weary. But many have been deceived. For you see, ultimately, this battle is not, nor has it ever been, about marriage.

Dan Brown of the National Organization for Marriage hints at this when, after the Proposition 8 ruling, he declared that, “The goal of this movement is to use the law to reshape the culture so that disagreement with their views on sex and marriage gets stigmatized and repressed like bigotry.”

It’s not as if we haven’t been warned. From a column I wrote in 2006: “In December of 2005 The Becket Fund, a nonprofit institute dedicated to protecting freedom of religion, held a conference to discuss the legal ramifications of redefining marriage. Ten of the nation’s top First Amendment scholars, liberal, conservative, and moderate, were brought in to present their views of same-sex marriage and the likely outcomes if it is legalized. As a result of the conference a series of papers was published.

“The conference focused on four topics: Can the government force religious institutions to recognize same-sex unions? Can the government withhold benefits, such as tax exemption, from religious institutions that refuse to recognize same-sex unions? How will freedom of religion arguments fare against legal same-sex marriage? What are the effects on biblical (traditional) marriage?

“Mark Stern, general counsel for the liberal leaning American Jewish Congress and a supporter of gay marriage, wrote in his paper that, ‘Same-sex marriage would…work a sea change in American law. That change will reverberate across the legal and religious landscape in some ways that are today unpredictable.’ According to Peter Steinfels, writing for The New York Times, what Mr. Stern has in mind are ‘schools, health care centers, social service agencies, summer camps, homeless shelters, nursing homes, orphanages, retreat houses, community centers, athletic programs and private businesses or services that operate by religious standards, like kosher caterers and marriage counselors.’

“George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley, also a supporter of gay marriage, in his Becket paper noted that, ‘As states accept same-sex marriage and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, conflicts will grow between the government and discriminatory organizations. There will be many religious-based organizations that will refuse to hire individuals who are homosexual or members of a same-sex marriage. If those individuals are holding a state license of marriage or civil union, it will result in a discriminatory act that was not only based on sexual orientation, but a lawful state status.’

“Doug Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, and an opponent of gay marriage, participated in the Becket conference and wrote, ‘Were federal equal protection or substantive due process to be construed to require states to license same-sex marriage, those who have profound moral or religious objection to the social affirmation of homosexual conduct would be argued to be the out-liers of civil society.’ Therefore, he argues that churches could be targeted for legal penalties and disadvantages as were universities that participated in racial discrimination decades ago.

“He adds that, ‘This is hardly a far-fetched (idea), as apparently one of the main aspirations of the homosexual movement is retaliation against the defenders of traditional marriage.’”

There you have it. Marriage is just the means to a more sinister end for the homosexual movement. This is about sex and about legitimizing, through the American judicial system, a sexual lifestyle many Americans find immoral. And, as Kmiec implies, this is also about vengeance.

Additionally, as one supporter of gay marriage has put it, it’s not as if most (especially male) homosexuals are interested in (traditional) marriage anyway. “There are many gays and lesbians who strongly value the right to marry, but few (none, more or less) who think of it as a gay ideal to have relationships that are as close as possible to the traditional hetero myth/ideal. The possibilities for different types of relationships have been common currency in the gay community and gay press for as long as there has been an open gay community.”

Once the homosexual community has the law behind it, the full force of the federal government will be at their disposal. Their lust for revenge will have little to restrain it. Churches, schools, private businesses, and organizations of all types who object to homosexuality would be not only “out-liers of civil society” but also out-liers of the law. Above all, Christians who see homosexuality as a sin will be squarely in the crosshairs of the homosexual community.

Again, if you think this is far-fetched, consider the case of Dale McAlpine, a Baptist preacher in England. He was arrested in May of this year under the Public Order Act for causing “harassment, alarm or distress,” and “using abusive or insulting language” by calling homosexuality a sin.

Also, consider the case of U.S. evangelist Shawn Holes, who was arrested in Glasgow, Scotland, on March 18 of this year for remarks that were deemed “homophobic.” (See, The Dumbest Word in theEnglish Language: Homophobia.) Just as with universal health care and staggering federal debt, Europe has preceded the U.S. down the progressive path of legitimizing homosexuality, and again gives us a glance into what lies ahead for America.

Marriage, as God created it, is the foundation of every institution that the world has ever known. Thus, at the foundation of any great nation there must be a healthy view of and a great respect for marriage. Strong and healthy marriages lead to strong and healthy families. Strong and healthy families lead to strong and healthy communities. Strong and healthy communities lead to strong and healthy churches, schools, businesses, governments, and so on. Each of these institutions lies at the heart of a great nation.

Outside of an individual’s relationship with his or her Creator, the priority relationship in the universe is the husband/wife relationship. If this foundational relationship is redefined, the consequences for our nation will be staggering.

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Monday, July 12, 2010

Whose Slave Are You?

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that,” said Emerson. A corollary to that would be that we all serve something; for that which we worship we serve (in some manner or other). Or, to put it more dramatically, we are all slaves to one thing or another.

Of course, this runs quite contrary to the nature of most every American. We are, after all, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Time and again, whether from Hollywood, politicians, pundits, or even the pulpit, the independent, free spirit of Americans is cheered, celebrated, and encouraged. Since the late 18th century the message has been clear: Don’t Tread on Us.

Putting Emerson’s conclusion in a spiritual light, the Apostle Paul said in the book of Romans, “…you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

So, we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. In other words, we are either slaves to Satan or slaves to Christ. Being a slave to Christ is a theme that runs throughout the New Testament. Time and again in his letters, Paul referred to himself as a “slave (or “servant” in some translations) to Jesus Christ,” as did Peter, James, Jude, and John.

John MacArthur writes that “Being a slave of Christ may be the best way to define a Christian.” He later adds, “When you give somebody the gospel, you are saying to them, ‘I would like to invite you to become a slave of Jesus Christ. I would like to invite you to give up your independence, give up your freedom, submit yourself to an alien will, abandon all your rights, be owned by, controlled by the Lord.’ That’s really the gospel. We’re asking people to become slaves.”

C.S. Lewis put it this way: “Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’”

However, he concludes, “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’ We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way – centered on money or pleasure or ambition – and hoping, in spite of this to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.”

Of course, “trying to…remain…ourselves” sounds innocent enough, even downright American. However, this is one of the great lies of the enemy. It is great, because it is so subtle and deadly. Through what is commonly referred to as “pride,” many have been led into what Lewis refers to as the “Dictatorship of Pride.” Pride, he notes, comes straight from hell. “It was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Many people have overcome poverty, physical disabilities, addictions, and so on, through their pride. “The devil laughs,” says Lewis. “He is perfectly content to see you becoming (wealthy), brave, and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your (cold) cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer.”

A dictatorship: now that is about as American as a Swastika. Yet that is exactly the view of humanity that many Americans espouse today. In pop culture and politics Americans are told again and again that they need to be true to themselves and take what is theirs. Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians all often fall prey to a pride-centered view of the person.

Many of the political problems we currently face would be greatly reduced - if not eliminated - if we ceased being subjects of a "Dictatorship of Pride." Problems with health, poverty, and old age would be alleviated if we were focused on serving God and our neighbor rather than ourselves.

For each of us, this battle against our pride is our ultimate challenge. Unsurprisingly, victory lies with humility, with surrender—giving ourselves over to the One who has purchased us with His blood. The Bible tells us that we are not our own; we have been “bought at a price.” Sounds a lot like a slave, doesn’t it? Make no mistake about it; each of us is serving something. The only question is whose slave are you?

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dealing With Imperfection

If you pay attention to the sports world at all, you are well aware of the recent “tragedy” that occurred in Major League Baseball (MLB). In case you missed it, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game. (A perfect game is when a pitcher (or pitchers) wins a game, retiring all 27 batters faced.)

It would have been only the twenty-first perfect game in the 141 year history of MLB. That’s merely 20 perfect games in over 575,000 MLB games played. That’s about .003% of all games played. By comparison, more people have orbited the moon than have pitched a MLB perfect game. It is truly one of the rarest of sports achievements.

Galarraga was one out away from his perfect game when a ground ball to first resulted in a missed call by the first base umpire. The perfect game was forever ruined. Moreover, it was a bad missed call. In the words of MLB ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian, this was a call that umpires get right 100,000 out of 100,001 times. The replay of the incident was shown over-and-over again on sports programs across the country.

Television news networks and newspapers across the country reported the happening almost immediately. I was on my laptop at the time, and both Fox News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had the story on their websites as “breaking news.”

In other words, because of his missed call, umpire Jim Joyce is now the most famous (or infamous) baseball umpire in the world. Pundits all over the sports world used this moment to call for sweeping reform in MLB umpiring—the use of instant replay. Some even called on baseball commissioner Bud Selig to intervene and “undo” the travesty. They make good arguments, but that is not the direction I would like to go here.

As stellar as Galarraga’s otherwise perfect game was, the performance afterward by the principle characters involved teaches a lesson that no perfect game would allow—one which I believe will leave each of them with a far greater legacy than the perfect game would have.

Immediately after the blown call, Galarraga smiled, returned to the pitcher’s mound, and went back to work. His manager Jim Leyland came out to argue the call; it was quite heated. After the game, Leyland was much more understanding. “The players are human, the umpires are human, the managers are human,” Leyland said.

After the game, upon seeing the replay, Joyce took the unusual step of quickly admitting his mistake. “It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the s­--t out of it,” Joyce said. “I just cost that kid a perfect game,” he added as he sullenly and humbly paced the umpires’ locker room.

Moments later, Joyce went even farther and tearfully asked the Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski if he could personally apologize to Galarraga. Joyce then went face-to-face with Galarraga and told him he was sorry and even added a hug. This act quickly diffused an otherwise bitter Galarraga. Galarraga said, “You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, ‘Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry.’ He felt really bad. He didn't even shower.”

The next day, Joyce was scheduled to work behind home plate—the highest profile umpiring position. MLB gave Joyce the option of taking the day off. Joyce refused. Prior to the game, wanting to diffuse any negative crowd reaction to Joyce, Leyland sent Galarraga out with the day’s lineup card.

Leyland stated, “This guy is an outstanding umpire. I just really think it's a day for Tigers fans to really show what we are all about in a positive way…The guy had every bit of integrity. He faced the music. He stood there and took it. What else can he do? I just don't believe in beating people up like that…This guy was a mess. My heart goes out to him.”

As the lineups were exchanged, what boos were aimed at Joyce turned into cheers for Galarraga. Joyce, again full of emotion, had tears in his eyes. Galarraga patted him on the shoulder for support. When the game began, surrounded by his fellow umpires for their support, as the Tigers took to the field, several of them passed by Joyce and showed their support for him as well. For the most part, Tigers fans also showed themselves forgiving. When the game was over, Joyce said, “I don’t want to make it sappy and say it was love, but the support I got was just love.”

Don’t get me wrong, given a chance to do it over, almost everyone involved would rather see Joyce make the correct call and have Galarraga “immortalized” into MLB history along with the 20 other perfect game pitchers. However, we now have an incident that transcends sports. We have an example of grace and forgiveness. We have a man owning up to his mistake and saying that he is sorry. In other words, we have an outpouring of love that no “perfect game” could ever have given us.

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How Much is Enough?

A few weeks ago, Barack Obama said he believes that “at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” Many conservatives were (somewhat) rightly aghast. Hearing this from the President of the United States makes me very nervous. I certainly do not want our government empowered to decide how much money that anyone can make. However, hearing this from an individual, and looking at it from a biblical and spiritual perspective, I think Barack Obama, the man, made a good point.

Many times over, my wife and I have led the How to Manage Your Money Bible study, developed by the late Larry Burkett of Christian Financial Concepts (now Crown Financial Ministries). About 12 years ago, very early in our marriage, this study was key in helping Michelle and me get on the right path financially.

One of the sessions of the Bible study is entitled, “How Much is Enough?” The overriding theme of the session is that you will never have enough money until you decide that you are going to live on what you have. Also, chapter nine in Larry’s best seller Your Finances In Changing Times (over 1 million sold) is entitled “How Much is Enough?”

Clearly, Mr. Burkett, who dedicated decades of his life to teaching the biblical principles of finance, saw the concept of “how much is enough” as an important one for Christians (and anyone else willing) to grasp. Early in his private counseling there was a common question that Larry generally asked: what do you think the problem is? Almost always, the answer was: we (or I) don’t make enough money.

In nearly every situation—whether it was a $25,000 annual income, $50,000, or $100,000 —the solution was never simply more money. For example, Larry noted that if you took the family with the $25,000 income and replaced it with the $100,000 one, with everything else remaining the same, in one year—two at the max—he guaranteed that they would be back with the same problems.

Generally speaking, when it comes to financial discipline, the amount of income one has is largely irrelevant. Those who struggle financially when they have little money will almost certainly struggle in very much the same ways if they have a lot of money.

Those who are stingy with a little will be stingy with a lot. Those who are generous with a little will be generous with a lot. Those who are foolish with a little will be foolish with a lot. Jesus illustrated this when he said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Being content with what you have and trusting God is the real lesson here. As the Apostle Paul tells us, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” In other words, what you have or don’t have at any given moment is not the most important thing. What is important is your relationship with Him who gives all good things.

In Luke 12:13-21, the parable of The Rich Fool also helps us gain the proper perspective on wealth and money. “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” Jesus warned. “A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Christ then revealed in the parable a certain rich man who had become even wealthier.

Never considering that perhaps God had other plans for this increase, the rich man decided to hoard it. He then said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” Then God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” The parable concluded, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Notice that God never condemned the man’s wealth; only his attitude toward it. Until we come to grips with the fact that none of us really “owns” anything, we will never have the proper perspective on money and wealth. As I have noted often before, we are merely stewards or managers of God’s property. He owns “the heavens and the earth and everything in it.” Until we accept and acknowledge this, all the wealth in the world will not truly free us, financially or otherwise.

Of course, the concept of “how much is enough” applies not only to individuals and families. If President Obama thinks that, “at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” shouldn’t it follow that, at a certain point the government has enough of our money to do the things it is supposed to do? As U.S. Senate candidate, Rand Paul, (Congressman Ron Paul’s son) put it, “People think that there is a different logic for an economy than there is for an individual.” In other words, what makes sense in a family or business budget should also make sense for the government.

Until the United States, Greece, Italy, France, you, I, and so on, decide that we are going to operate within some reasonable budget (live off what we have), no amount of money in the world will be enough.

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Demonizing" Democrats

The following shocking statements were directed at the President of the United States:
 
“It is a disgrace. This administration is a disgrace.”
 
“(He) is responsible for killing tens of thousands of innocent people.”
 
“He's embarrassing... He's not my president. He will never be my president.”
 
“You (and your administration) are villainously and criminally obscene people, obscene human beings.”
 
“I hate (him). I despise him and his entire administration — not only because of its international policy, but also the national.”
 
“I don't want add fuel to the fire, but I don't know what it's going to take for people to really wake up and understand that they are liars and they are murderers.”
 
Boy, did the liberals hate George W. Bush. That’s right—every one of the above statements was directed at President Bush. The rage on display here was not conjured up by everyday Americans, such as those attending the TEA parties, but by celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Joy Behar, and Jessica Lange.
 
In other words, these comments were made by those who have a much larger microphone than the Americans participating in the TEA parties that many liberals now seemed so concerned about. Liberals then were not so concerned with “demonizing the government,” as Bill Clinton recently put. (I suppose it matters who you imagine as a “demon” for there to be concern.)
 
What’s more, YouTube is replete with videos of protests during the Bush administration that show protestors brandishing signs that say things like: “George W. Bush is a terrorist!”; “Team Bush: The True Axis of Evil”; “F-ck Bush”; “Dead or Alive” sign with the name “George W. Bush”; and so on. Then there was the Bush Assassination film.
 
This slander and violence was at least ignored, and at worst parroted, by a media that showed no concern about “inflammatory” or “inciting” statements directed at the President of the United States.
 
But it wasn’t just the kooky celebrities and deranged protestors on the left who were unhinged in their anger. Take note of some of the comments made during Bush’s eight years by leaders of the Democratic Party:
 
“He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure pre-ordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!”—Al Gore
 
“The man's father is a wonderful human being, I think this guy is a loser.”—Harry Reid
 
“Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he's not a leader.”—Nancy Pelosi
 
“We will take to the streets right now. We will delegitimize (him), discredit him, do whatever it takes, but never accept him.”—Jesse Jackson
 
“Regime change! (Do you think this bothered Chris Matthews?) Bush has to go and we have the power to do it. The officials of the government shall be removed from office for crimes and misdemeanor…”—Ramsey Clark
 
“American treatment of terror detainees at the Guantanamo Naval Base is comparable to torture at the hands of Nazis, Soviet gulags and even Cambodian mass murderer Pol Pot.”—Dick Durbin
 
“In the last six and a half years we have seen a dangerous experiment in extremism in the White House.”—Hillary Clinton
 
“I'd say if you live in the United States of America and you vote for George Bush, you've lost your mind.”—John Edwards
 
“There has never been an administration, I don't believe, in our history more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda.”—Hillary Clinton
 
“President Bush is a liar. He betrayed Nevada and he betrayed the country.”—Harry Reid
 
“The situation in Iraq and the reckless economic policies in the United States speak to one issue for me, and that is the competence of our leader.”—Nancy Pelosi
 
“This country was the moral leader of the world until George Bush became president.”—Howard Dean
 
“No president in America's history has done more damage to our country and our security…”—Ted Kennedy
 
Barely two years from the 9/11 attacks, in September of 2003, writing for Time magazine, Charles Krauthammer notes that, “Democrats are seized with a loathing for President Bush — a contempt and disdain giving way to a hatred that is near pathological — unlike any since they had Richard Nixon to kick around.” As a result of this behavior, Krauthammer discovered what he considered to be a psychiatric syndrome: Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS).
 
The TEA Party protests have miles to go before they approach the vitriol that was directed at Bush over a period of several years. And once again the mainstream media finds itself shamefully guilty of the hypocrisy and bias that it is so frequently accused of.
 
Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Democrats and Wall Street

According to Politico, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday (4/22/10) that he will not wait for Democrats and Republicans to reach a bipartisan compromise on a Wall Street reform bill, scheduling the first key test vote for Monday.
 
“I’m not going to waste any more time of the American people while they come up with some agreement,” Reid said. “The games of stalling are over.”
 
“…Democrats have made a political calculation that at least some Republicans will feel compelled to back the bill Monday, even without any changes – and if they don’t, it’s the GOP that looks bad.”
 
It seems that Senate Majority Leader Reid, weary after the long health care battle, is not in the mood for another lengthy legislative fight. And for this reason alone he is better positioned to move the liberal agenda? I don’t think so. Also, just because the GOP is unwilling to support more bad liberal legislation they are the ones who are going to look bad? Again, I don’t think so.
 
The Republicans were hardly damaged goods after the health care debate. Currently, nearly every generic congressional poll has the Republicans in the lead. Rasmussen has the Republicans with a 10 point lead over Democrats.
 
Also, Americans are still strongly opposed to the Democrats’ latest and greatest legislative achievement, Obamacare. Rasmussen has Americans opposing Obamacare by 20 points. Quinnipiac shows the opposition up by 14 points, and the last Fox News poll reveals Americans opposing Obamacare by 15 points.
 
What’s more, with significant election victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, Republicans should be nothing but emboldened when it comes to standing against the liberal agenda being championed by today’s Democrat Party. Of course, with the Massachusetts victory giving the Republicans 41 Senate seats, the Democrats can do nothing without some Republican support. As long as the polls stay where they are, what is the Republican motivation to relent?
 
Furthermore, despite the stereotypes, when it comes to financial reform, and when one actually looks at the facts, the Democrats are no position to paint themselves as standing against the big money and influence of Wall Street. According to this from Open Secrets, the current big money from large corporations OVERWHELMINGLY goes to Democrats over Republicans. Notice who is #65 on the list, tilting “Strongly Democratic.” That’s right. The liberal poster child for financial reform: Goldman Sachs.
 
And when it comes to the “party of the rich,” again according to Open Secrets, of the top 50 individual donors, 34 were “Strongly” to “Solidly” Democratic (one “Leaned” Democratic).
Given all of this, if Republicans stand firm and united and preach the facts, there is no reason to allow the Democrats another bad legislative victory. 
 
Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Liberals and the "Least of These"

Back in 2008, prior to the election, when then candidate Barack Obama was asked by pastor Rick 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…”

After making up his mind to vote in favor of Obamacare, Georgia Representative Sanford Bishop said, “Unfortunately I think that my constituents are split right down the middle, so in a sense I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” He continued, “If I’m going to be damned, I want to be damned on the side of the angels, on the side of what I think will be an obligation as a Christian to take care of the least of (us) and to make sure people are treated fairly.”

It is very interesting that liberals, while defending their views and their votes in support of big government, reference this Scripture. The Scripture, as Obama noted, is from the book of Matthew, contained in Jesus’ parable of The Sheep and The Goats.

The parable begins, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (How intolerant of Him!) 

The parable is a description of how Christ will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. (This, one would think, would be reason enough for liberals to avoid referencing such Scripture.) The distinguishing characteristic between the two groups is whether or not they cared for people in need. Matthew 25:40 says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Thus, reason many liberals, the work of the righteous would include empowering government to help those in need. And, of course, the implication is that if you oppose such efforts, you are on the side of the unrighteous. However, nowhere in this parable, or anywhere else in Scripture, for that matter, does Christ advocate that His people use the force of government to do His work.

What’s more, it is appallingly duplicitous that liberals, when referring to caring for the “least of us,” are never talking about the unborn. Whatever moral causes one chooses to champion, nothing compares to the helplessness of an unborn child. In other words, there is no one among us more “least” than the unborn. It is the height of hypocrisy for liberals to preach about “social justice” and reference the “least of us,” while supporting policies which have lead to the slaughter of millions still in their mothers’ wombs. 

The message of Jesus was “repent and believe.” The mission He left to His followers was to “go and make disciples” (of Himself). The institution that Christ charged with doing His work was His church.

The reason for this is that, as Scripture teaches, Christ Himself is the head of the church. Thus His wisdom and Spirit lead His people “in the paths of righteousness.” Certainly this is not the case with the U.S. government.

I believe that most people who see such a benevolent role for the government have noble intentions. However, this is an extremely foolish position to take, especially for those who are Christians. (No one is “laying up treasure in heaven” by paying their taxes.) A secular government can never provide the real help for which those who have genuine needs are longing.

Without the wisdom, influence, and guidance of God and His Word, no amount of money given to the poor and needy will have the effect that it should. Literally trillions of U.S. dollars have been or will be spent by the federal government on welfare programs since they began early in the 20th century, with a very poor return on such a massive investment.

Also, once the government gets itself established in an additional part of our lives, another piece of our liberty goes out the window—perhaps never to return. This is another danger with government-run health care. John Adams said, “Liberty once lost is lost forever.” I’m not quite this fatalistic when it comes to Obamacare, but certainly experience tells us that once we surrender such liberty to the government—with its power to tax, with the power to print money, with the power of the police, the military, the courts, congress, the treasury, and so on—it is nearly impossible to regain it.

“That government is best which governs least,” said Thomas Paine. I would add that, those individuals are behaving best who are freely giving of their own resources—not having it forcefully taken—to help those in need.

Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Fate of the Welfare State

“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.”

Saddled by staggering debt, governments all over the world are in fiscal disasters and are teetering on bankruptcy. A financial reckoning unseen since the Great Depression appears to be looming for the welfare and entitlement societies that are so prevalent in the western world.

Every advanced society has some form of welfare and entitlement programs. As such, according to Robert Samuelson, “Almost every advanced country -- the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Belgium and others -- faces some combination of huge budget deficits, high debts, aging populations and political paralysis.”

In the U.S., decades after the start of welfare and entitlement programs brought on by FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society—to quote Jeremiah Wright—“America’s chickens (financial, that is) have come home to roost.”

Of course, nowhere in the U.S. is there more “roosting” going on than in California. In June 2002, the liberal magazine American Prospect hailed California as a “laboratory” for Democratic Policies. The author of the story, Harold Meyerson, boasted that “with its Democratic governor, U.S. senators, state legislature and congressional delegation, California is the only one of the nation’s 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control.” In California, Meyerson said, “the next New Deal is in tryouts.”

We all now know that California’s “New Deal” was no deal at all. “California is deeply in debt,” said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. “You could say that it's bankrupt,” he added. (Technically U.S. states cannot declare bankruptcy.)

Of course, California is not alone in its financial struggles. Nearly every U.S. state is seeing declining revenues and facing ever increasing budget shortfalls. However, generally speaking there is a trend among the states that are struggling the most. Forbes recently noted that the “bluest states (are) spilling the most red ink.” The article declared that “The five states in the worst financial condition--Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California and New Jersey--are all among the bluest of blue states.”

“Why do Democratic states appear to be struggling more than Republican ones?” Forbes asks. “It comes down to stronger unions and a larger appetite for public programs, according to Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political studies and public affairs at the University of Illinois' Center for State Policy and Leadership.”

Part of the Forbes formula in calculating the financial health of each state included unfunded pension liabilities. The insatiable generosity of many, especially “blue,” U.S. states (and cities) with pensions and with free, or almost free, healthcare, is perhaps the largest millstone around their necks. In the last two weeks alone, states such as California, Virginia, and Illinois, along with cities such as Atlanta, have made news because of their pension woes. “Doomsday is here for Illinois,” stated one pundit. In Virginia they are preparing for “the coming war over public sector pensions.” And in Atlanta a lawsuit has been filed, which the AJC declared as “the first shot of the pension wars.”

Of course, along with generous pension and health care plans come higher taxes. Unsurprisingly, according to the Tax Foundation, the top ten for state-local tax burdens in 2008: 10.) Rhode Island 9.) Wisconsin 8.) Vermont 7.) Ohio 6.) California 5.) Hawaii 4.) Maryland 3.) Connecticut 2.) New York 1.) New Jersey. Notice the “blueness” here?

There is another common link among liberal societies that is greatly compounding their financial despair: low fertility rates. You see, it isn’t just the financial folly of liberalism that has set their house of cards to tumbling; it is their foolish social views as well. In their lust (literally) for sexual gratification, liberal cultures have all but abandoned any moral boundaries when it comes to their libidos.

Marriage, family, and good parenting have taken a back seat to this lust, which is a cornerstone of modern liberalism and feminism. For example, virtually all of Europe has a fertility rate below the replacement rate of 2.1. Greece, along with all of its other troubles, has a fertility rate of 1.36. Spain and Italy are at 1.30. Germany is at 1.41. Not to be left behind by the Europeans, Japan is at 1.22.

In the U.S., states with the lowest fertility rates are generally, again, the “bluest of blue.” Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, along with D.C., are all in the bottom 10 when it comes to fertility rates in the U.S. As Mark Steyn recently put it, “The 20th century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to.”

U.S. spokesperson for the entitlement society, Nancy Pelosi recently said, “Imagine an economy where people could change jobs, start businesses, become self-employed, whether to pursue their artistic aspirations or be entrepreneurial and start new businesses, if they were not job-locked because they have a child who's bipolar or a family member who's diabetic with a pre-existing condition, and all of the other constraints that having health care or not having health care places on an entrepreneurial spirit.”

There you have it: the classic example of the worldview of modern liberalism. If government would only provide yet another entitlement, then more people would be free to do what whatever they want. Contrast this with the words of President Grover Cleveland near the end of the 19th century:

While taking a stand against government aid involving a very deserving orphanage in New York City during a severe economic crisis, Cleveland, a Democrat, said, “I will not be a party to stealing money from one group of citizens to give to another group of citizens. No matter what the need or apparent justification, once the coffers of the federal government are opened to the public, there will be no shutting them again…It is the responsibility of citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of government to support its citizens.”

In 1887, after vetoing a bill that appropriated $10,000 to buy grain for several drought-stricken Texas counties, Cleveland stated, “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.”

If only today’s Democrat Party were in the same solar system with Cleveland. Ben Franklin said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” Never have we been closer to such an end than we are today.

Copyright 2010, 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