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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Why is Israel So Hated?

Before getting to the question in the title of this piece, another question must be considered: Why is there a nation called Israel? This question begets other questions: How did Israel come into existence? And another: What purpose, if any (beyond the typical purposes of a nation), does the nation of Israel serve? Each of these questions is important when it comes to understanding the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the centuries of hate and suffering endured by the children of Israel.

Most everyone with at least a spotty Sunday school background (fewer and fewer of us) knows something of the biblical account of “Father Abraham.” If nothing else, we can probably recall the ancient trilogy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who became “Israel”). Jacob—later named Israel—fathered twelve sons who would become the “twelve tribes of Israel” that would inherit the Promised Land. The Bible first mentions Abraham—initially named “Abram,” a decedent of Noah’s son Shem—in the chronology given in Genesis chapter 11. Genesis chapter 12 begins with the telling “Call of Abram.” It reads,
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Note that the nation born of Abraham will be “a blessing” to the whole world. Scripture is replete with this theme. Genesis alone has several references. In addition to the above, there’s Genesis 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, and 28:14. Without using the word “blessing,” Scripture makes it clear that Israel is the vehicle through which God—in multiple ways—will bless the earth.

Scripture also makes it clear that Israel was not chosen because it was the largest and most powerful nation (Deut. 7:7), or because of her righteousness (Deut. 9:5). In other words, Israel was not chosen for the glory of (or to glorify) Israel, but to glorify the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In other words, God chose the weak—Israel was in slavery when it became a nation—so that the world would know that the God of Israel was the one true God. (Egypt was the first to get a dramatic lesson.)

The idea that Israel was “set apart” as a “witness to the nations” is also a common thought throughout Judaism and Christianity—especially evangelical Christianity. Exodus 19:6 declares, “[Y]ou will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Isaiah 43:12 reads, “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God.’” One of the ways Israel was (and is) a blessing to the earth is the testimony of the Jews to the very existence of God. In the late nineteenth century England’s Queen Victoria reportedly asked her Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “Mr. Prime Minister, what evidence can you give me of the existence of God?” After thinking for a moment, Disraeli replied, “The Jew, your majesty.”

Interestingly—but unsurprising to those undeceived—modern science verifies what the Bible reveals when it comes to the Jewish people. For example, a study widely reported on in 2000 revealed that the Jews and the Arabs shared a common and genetic heritage. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at the Y-chromosome—which is passed directly and unaltered from father to son—of male Jews and Arabs and found that they shared “a common set of genetic signatures.” Again, this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Scripture. The two sons of Abraham were Ishmael—the son of Hagar and the patriarch of the Arabs—and Isaac, the son of Sarah and the patriarch of the Jews. Thus the “common genetic signature” is the result of both Jews and Arabs being descendants of Abraham.

Also, a 60 Minutes episode—of which I have the transcript—from the year 2000 reported on a genetics study that revealed a “priestly Y-chromosome” among the general Jewish population. In other words, all those who claimed to be Jewish priests (only males) shared a common male ancestor. As Lesley Stahl then reported, “The results proved that Jewish priests from all around the world are, in fact, descended from one single man, a common paternal ancestor somewhere back in time.” (GASP! I wonder who and when?!)

To tease her listening audience, Stahl asked, “How long ago did this great, great, great-grandfather live?” The scientist she was interviewing provided the answer: 3,000 years ago. In other words, right in line with the time-line presented by the Bible for when Moses’ brother Aaron—the patriarch of the Jewish priesthood—lived.

Another manner in which the Jews were a blessing to all of humanity, and another means through which they were a witness to all the earth, was through the written word of God. The Jews were God’s scribes, recording His words and deeds so that people might hear (or read) and believe. As the Apostle Paul, at the beginning of Romans chapter 3 notes, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew…Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.” The oral, and eventually written Word of God is an amazing testimony of God’s existence, His presence, and His power.

And last, the redemption of all mankind came through the Jews. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was a descendant of Abraham, born out of the tribe of Judah. As Paul also reveals in Romans, “the Jews and the Gentiles alike are all under sin” and in need of salvation. Of course, the message of Paul was the message of Jesus: whether Jew or Gentile, salvation is through Christ alone. Writing to the church in Rome, Paul concludes, “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly…No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.” (Rom. 2:28-29a)

After the message and ministry of Jesus, when followers of Christ became known as “Christians,” and like the Jews, they also became the target of much persecution. Though we are all under a new covenant with our Creator, the nation of Israel still stands as a testimony to the Truth. Because of this, the enemies of God continue to attempt to wipe Israel and the Jews from the face of the earth.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Saturday, December 24, 2016

God’s Greatest Gift Meets Humanity’s Most Desperate Need

As the parents of four young children (ages 14, 12, 10, and 8), my wife and I have had many years of joyous celebration at Christmas time. Interestingly, we’ve done this without ever “doing” Santa Claus. In other words, we have never pretended with our children that the gifts under the tree and the goodies in their stockings were the result of the magical efforts of a jolly fat-man.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t shun Santa. As the above implies, we embrace most of the traditions surrounding Christmas. We have a Christmas tree with presents underneath. We decorate the house inside and out with wreaths, bows, Nativity scenes, and the like. We have our “stockings hung by the chimney with care.” We send and receive Christmas cards (one of our best efforts from a few years ago is below), and so on. We’ve taught our children that some families, even Christian families, use the Santa Claus myth as a means of enhancing the joy and fun of the Christmas season.

Have a Merry Christmas…Or Else!
Of course, we work hard at keeping Christ the center of Christmas. We’ve cautioned our children that “traditions” often can distract us from the profound Truth that Christmas presents. In addition, those who hate the real meaning and message of Christmas will go to great lengths to keep us from this Truth.

Thus, as is almost always the case, at this time of year, we must endure again the “War on Christmas.” Why wage a “war on Christmas?” What’s so scary about Christmas? Is the birth of Jesus really that scary? Yes, it is. In fact, whether we would admit it or not, each of us, whether privately or publicly, at one time or another, has waged a “war on Christmas.”

Sometimes it’s as subtle as Clark Griswold at the end of the film Christmas Vacation. While staring at what he thinks is the Christmas star, with the typical Hollywood drivel, Clark declares “That’s all that matters tonight. It’s not bonuses or gifts or turkeys or trees. You see, kids, it means something different to everybody; now I know what it means to me.” The moment is supposed to warm our hearts, but instead it’s just another lie about Christmas.

We lie about Christmas, because the real meaning and message of Christmas makes us confront a frightening truth. Christmas means one thing and one thing only. As C.S. Lewis put it, Christmas is the story of how the rightful king has landed. When Jesus stood before Pilate, just prior to going to his execution, the Roman governor asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” After some discussion Pilate concluded to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered him, “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…”

Of course, He was not just any king. He was a king with a holy mission. He was a king who was born to die. “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me?” Jesus was, and is, our Savior King. Because, the “frightening truth” is that we are all in desperate need of salvation. As author Charles Sell put it,
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
In Christian circles, it is often told that, early in the twentieth century, The Times (UK) either invited essays on, or ran a piece entitled, “What’s wrong with the world?” Noted theologian, author, and apologist G.K. Chesterton replied,

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

As Chesterton implies, none of us is “innocent.” We have all gone our own way and done our own thing with disastrous results. In spite of the foolish notion often portrayed by some, no nation, no culture, no individual is “basically good.” This world is filled with evil, and at one time or another, we’ve all had a hand in it. As the prophet Isaiah puts it, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah wasn’t merely painting a picture of sinful humanity. The above Scripture was a prophecy of the coming Messiah. Ultimately the world doesn’t have a poverty problem, or a crime problem, or a sexual problem, or a terrorism problem, or even (and of course) a climate problem. The world has a sin problem, and Jesus is the answer.

The most quoted portion of the Bible, John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Emphasis mine.) Less well known is the verse immediately following. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

The Red Cross offers “Operation Save-A-Life.” Those wanting us to donate blood or organs do so by imploring us to “Give the gift of life.” With Christmas, God gave “the gift of life” as it has never before been given. How many dying individuals would say no to a lifesaving medical procedure made possible through the efforts or generosity of another? Yet how many reject the amazing gift of everlasting life that God offers through Jesus?

There’s no escaping this all important eternal truth: we are all in dire need of a Savior. Your life can be filled with treasures and pleasures, but if you ignore Jesus and His message, you will regret it for eternity. Your life can be riddled with poverty, sickness, and strife, yet if you repent and believe in Christ, the magnificent riches of eternal life await you. And whether rich or poor, sick or well, imprisoned or free, in good times or bad, we all need the gift that was given on that first Christmas. Merry Christmas!

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Monday, December 19, 2016

Forget “Fake News,” Our Real Problem is Fake Christianity

Pleased with the efforts of his demonic protégé, Screwtape nevertheless cautioned Wormwood not to waken his waffling churchgoing “patient” to “a sense of his real position.” In chapter XII of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape further warns Wormwood that his patient “must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.”

Screwtape goes on to contend that the man’s church attendance could even be used as an advantage in their demonic schemes. He explains,
As long as he retains externally the habits of a Christian he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago [before he became a Christian]. And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognized, sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy, feeling that he hasn’t been doing very well lately.
After all, Screwtape concludes,
It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing…Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
Fewer and fewer Americans these days seem willing “to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognized, sin.” Of course, to a great extent, this is because fewer and fewer Americans are able to recognize what is sin—or, many Americans are simply becoming comfortable with their sin, and are eagerly strolling along the “gentle slope” to hell.

Thus, no one should be surprised that a nation so deceived about sin is steeped in “fake news.” Tragically, peddling what I’ve dubbed “fake Christianity,” many in the church today are responsible for this widespread confusion and deception.

As I noted several years ago, the greatest lie ever told is that there is no God. The second greatest lie ever told is that the devil does not exist. (Even Verbal Kint was not fooled by this.) The third greatest lie ever told is that your (and my) sin is not really sin. Of course, each of these lies is a cousin to the others. They are all deceptions whose aim is to separate us from the greatest truth in the universe: we have a Creator who loves us and desires a relationship with us.

Sin keeps us from this relationship. Yet, instead of teaching and preaching the truth when it comes to sin and salvation, heaven and hell, far too many Christians have become tools of Screwtape—doing the evil bidding of those determined to see us cling to our sin. As I have often pointed out, this is especially true of sin in the sexual realm. The desire of many to be free to do whatever they want sexually has become the “compelling issue in the ‘City of Man.’

In a foolish desire to be “relevant” or “tolerant,” churches across the world—especially mainline Protestant churches and the Catholic Church—have abandoned long-heeded truths—especially on marriage and sex—for heresy. For nearly a century now, many church leaders—particularly those in the seminaries—have increasingly embraced a more liberal worldview.

Such watered-down theology has produced ear-ticklers like John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Gene Robinson, Jim Wallis, and the like, along with heretical nonsense such as the Jesus Seminar. For decades men (and women) like Spong and Borg made quite a name for themselves by rejecting the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, His atoning death and resurrection, every miracle recorded in the New Testament, and so on. In other words, in a tragic attempt to make themselves “relevant,” such men and women have rejected virtually every tenet of the Christian faith, all the while still calling themselves “Christians.”

Thus, it is little wonder that mainline Protestant churches, along with the Catholic Church, have seen steep declines in their membership—especially in the U.S. Most anyone who truly takes to heart the message of the aforementioned ear-ticklers will soon figure out: “Hey, I can follow what these folks are preaching, and I don’t even have to call myself a Christian—or go to church, or pray, or repent, or do any of that hard stuff. Sign me up!”

The American Family Association recently noted that fake Christianity is especially impacting American youth. Instead of young followers of Christ, many U.S. churches are producing followers of, what Christian sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton have dubbed, “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Lacking virtually any belief in orthodox Christian principles, many American youth simply see their religion as a form of therapy that makes them “feel happy.”

In their book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Smith and Denton conclude, “[W]hat appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people.”

Other efforts in preaching fake Christianity involve attempts by so-called Christians to reconcile the way of the Cross with that of Muhammad, Buddha, liberalism, secularism, or any other religion contrived by man. This is especially disturbing when one considers the threat that is militant Islam. I submit to you that there are no greater organized threats to liberty, justice, and truth in the world today than liberalism and Islam. Yet, instead of teaching and preaching the truth on these matters, the peddlers of fake Christianity have embraced this religious pluralism.

Poet Steve Turner describes well this heretical philosophy: “Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves. We believe he was a good teacher of morals but we believe that his good morals are really bad. We believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one we read was. They all believe in love and goodness, they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.” Yeah, “only” those minor things.

Another prominent teaching of fake Christianity is the “prosperity gospel.” The promoters of this heresy are some of the most recognizable faces in America. Through a formulaic, man-centered approach to Scripture, this false teaching promises not only wealth, but good health and just about anything else a longing human might wish to “claim.” God is often presented as a heavenly Santa Claus eager to give us almost anything we ask for, if we only speak, or “declare,” the right words. Sin, suffering, hell, repentance, salvation, and the cross—you know, all that stuff that Jesus talked so much about—are virtually ignored.

Thanks mostly to Americans, the prosperity gospel is taught across the globe. As John Piper noted, “It’s a tragic thing that one of [the] greatest exports of America is the prosperity gospel. People are being destroyed by it; Christians are being weakened by it; God is being dishonored by it; and souls are perishing because of it. And a lot of guys are getting rich on it.”

Fake Christianity is a terrible plague upon our culture. Here are some warning signs of churches steeped in fake Christianity: If your church is more concerned with “social justice” than with the gospel of Jesus; if your church rejects the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage and sexuality; if your church is hesitant to engage in “controversial” issues such as marriage, abortion, transgenderism, and so on; if your church is more concerned with its campus than with exporting the Gospel of Jesus; if your church promises you financial blessings if you will only give to their cause; each of these is a sign that a church is more concerned with the approval of man than it is with the Truth.

On the other hand, real Christianity confronts the difficult issues of our time and tells the truth with courage, conviction, and love. (If America can’t rely on the church for the truth, where will she turn?)

Real Christianity stands up for the unborn and promotes and celebrates marriage as God gave it. Real Christianity ministers to the sick, poor, hungry, and broken. It builds churches, schools, hospitals, and orphanages. In order to further engage the world and spread the truth, along with leading the church, Christians are involved in politics, science, industry, education, entertainment, and even the military. They also peacefully, but strongly, stand up to the lies of liberalism, Islam, and the like. This is precisely why such Christians are found to be so “offensive.”

Part of the lure of fake Christianity is that it seems so inoffensive, so much easier, so much nicer and more modern, than the real thing. In fake Christianity, instead of surrendering to something greater than ourselves, we get to rule our own world, or so we think. Satan must take great pleasure in using the sights, the sounds, and the feel of authentic Christianity to lead millions astray. And I imagine that it’s his most effective means of luring people into his kingdom.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Friday, December 16, 2016

National Geographic Promotes Child Abuse (UPDATE)

I'll have more on this later, but no one should be surprised that a publication devoted to a Darwinian worldview would give a voice to those attempting to promote the perverse as healthy and normal. National Geographic has infamously made history by placing a nine-year-old boy dressed as a girl on its cover:

The caption reads: "The best thing about being a girls is now I don't have to pretend to be a boy." No son, you're a boy pretending to be a girl. I've not read anything beyond the cover of this foolishness, but is there any doubt that the biggest fools here are this boys parents? Ten to twenty years from now--if it even takes that long--we will almost certainly be reading of the tragic outcome of this sin, and tragically, it will be this boy who will have suffered the most. Let us pray that there are wise adults in his life who will lovingly, but firmly, tell him the truth.

Update: Dr. Michael Brown provides some excellent commentary and information on this matter (and like me, implicates National Geographic in child abuse). Some highlights:
[T]here will never be a lasting gender revolution. 
Male-female relationships form the foundation of all societies, from romance to reproduction to parenting, and without those relationships, which include the celebration of gender distinctives, no society will flourish. One does not need an advanced degree in sociology, anthropology, psychology, or human sexuality to figure this out. 
The radical LGBT activists who have declared war on gender or who have sought to demonize the “gender binary” (meaning, recognizing only two genders) have really declared war on themselves...
[I]t is irresponsible for National Geographic to put a confused 9-year-old child on the front cover of their magazine. 
It is one thing for this child – obviously with the help of others – to put out Avery Chat YouTube videos. (The description explains that Avery “was assigned male at birth, but has now transitioned into a beautiful young girl. She wanted to tell her story to let other gender non-conforming kids know it's okay to be proud of who you are.”) 
It is another thing for National Geographic to make this child into an overnight, international celebrity – to repeat, Avery is just 9-years-old – and virtually to ignore the cautionary stories of other trans-identified young people (or their parents) and the voices of other medical professionals who claim that Avery has a treatable condition...
Dr. Brown points out the regret of several high-profile youths (and their parents) who wanted to "transition" to the opposite sex:

In 2012, the Daily Mail ran this headline about Ria Cooper: “‘I was born a boy, became a girl, and now I want to be a boy again’: Britain's youngest sex swap patient to reverse her sex change treatment.” 
The article tells the sad story of Ria, who was accepted for gender-reassignment at the age of 16, began to transition at 17, but then had a change of heart at 18, “saying that she has found the changes overwhelming and that they have made her deeply unhappy.”
Three years later, the Mirror reported that “Britain's youngest transgender patient says she can't get a job ‘because of her past’.” 
Apparently, Ria (or, Rihanna) ended up transitioning to female but then began to work as a sex escort to make a living, which is now coming back to haunt her/him... 
The very fact that Ria wanted to become a woman, then decided that he was really not a woman, then ended up as a teenage prostitute, indicates how unstable this young person has been and how a system intended to help him has apparently done more harm than good...
In another tragic example:
On a similar note, is it possible that the severe depression sometimes experienced by 16-year-old Jazz Jennings, now a transgender reality TV star, indicates that Jazz has deeper issues that need to be addressed? In Jazz’s own words: “Sucks to think that I have to rely on medications to be emotionally balanced. My body is crap, and I feel it.”
And another:
Writing for Crisis Magazine on December 12, 2016, Elise Erhard notes that, “Last May, Dr. Kathleen Levinstein, a professor of social work at the University of Michigan, wrote a heartbreaking piece about her autistic daughter, a teenaged girl who became convinced that she was really a man trapped inside a woman’s body. With encouragement from transgender activists at the local organization of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the vulnerable young woman took sex-altering hormones and cut off her breasts. Dr. Levinstein now grieves the mutilation of her daughter’s body and the increased psychological confusion her daughter is experiencing as a result of the hormones.” 
Initially, Dr. Levinstein was supportive of her daughter’s actions, but her views have now changed dramatically, saying of her daughter, “She has been taken advantage of. Healthy organs were amputated…. It is a crime not just against women, but particularly against disabled women. So many of these young women who are ‘transitioning’ are also autistic.”
Dr. Brown also details the attacks on the members of the medical community who are attempting to speak truth in this new front of the LGBT agenda. The whole piece is well worth the read. Again, as I noted with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and their young daughter Shiloh, what is happening in these situations is nothing short of child abuse. Almost certainly this is not going to end well. Pray for this child and his family.

Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Monday, December 12, 2016

As the Modern Left Demonstrates, Evil Craves the Darkness

One of my favorite scenes in Tolkien’s The Hobbit is the riddle-battle between Bilbo and the creature Gollum that took place in the dark, deep caverns beneath the Misty Mountains. (I can remember when I first read Tolkien’s classic and came upon the riddles. I tried not to read ahead to see if I could solve them myself.) Bilbo, having accidentally fallen into the mysterious place, wanted the way out (which Gollum knew), and Gollum wanted to make a meal of the plump Hobbit. Thus a riddle challenge was issued and accepted.

Toward the end, a frustrated Gollum presented Bilbo with,

It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.

Carrying on the theme of the last sentence, from a more spiritual perspective, an additional clue might read:

It keeps secrets, and hides sin,
Guarding the evil that lurks within.

The answer: darkness.

The Gospel of John informs us that, “The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil.” In other words, we’ve all done shameful (sinful) things we want to hide from others—maybe everyone, and maybe for all time—and we seek comfort in the darkness. And as Scripture implies, mankind’s desire for darkness is as old as sin itself. The modern political and moral climate in the U.S. provides a great lesson here.

As the left seeks to stifle debate (“the debate is over!”), distort facts and information, suppress facts and information that contradict liberal dogma, seek “safe spaces” from events or speech with which they disagree, and so on, America is seemingly headed for a new “Dark Age.” Whether colleges and universities, the media, the Democrat Party, the homosexual agenda, the abortion industry, the global warming industry—virtually every bastion of liberal thought is steeped in darkness. A couple of recent events shed some light into the dark efforts of the left.

As I alluded to a couple of weeks ago, Elton John and his homosexual partner—what some now refer to as John’s “husband”—David Furnish have gone to great lengths to guard the image of their perverse relationship—what some call a “marriage.” As was noted in my previous piece (and by many others over the last several months), in an effort to hide their non-monogamous sexual activity, John and Furnish have made extensive use of the British legal system. In a sad attempt to keep as many in the dark as possible concerning their stereotypical homosexual lifestyle, Sir Elton and Furnish have also resorted to using Web Sheriff ® to threaten individuals worldwide (and of course, not subject to the British courts) who have shed light on their sham of a “marriage.”

About a week after my November 27 piece that made mention of John and Furnish’s “open marriage,” yours truly received such a threat via an email from Web Sheriff. Web Sheriff is an anti-piracy company that is most noted for its monitoring of websites that allow for the illegal download of copyrighted material (especially music and film). However, for the right amount of money, it seems one can hire Web Sheriff to try to intimidate online sources from presenting (truthful) information that Web Sheriff clients might find uncomfortable.

The email I received is exactly like the one mentioned here from May of this year. Other websites and news organizations have received similar (empty) legal threats from Web Sheriff. As one of the other websites here artfully put it, Web Sheriff is “full of sh*t.” There is nothing here for me to be concerned with legally because no copyright has been infringed upon (as the email threat implies), and most importantly: I do not live in England, nor do I operate anywhere that is subject to British law. Again, this is nothing more than an attempt to keep in the dark the truth about marriage and homosexuality.

As eager as many are to hide the truth on homosexuality, there is an equal effort to obscure and distort the facts when it comes to life in the womb. The French provide the latest sensational example here. George Will recently gave the sad account of the widespread efforts in France to suppress the facts when it comes to human beings born with Down syndrome. (There were other earlier reports on this as well.) .

In early November France’s Conseil d’État (State Council—France’s Supreme Court) upheld the ban on an award-winning video entitled “Dear Future Mom” that features happy children and young adults with Down syndrome. The French Broadcasting Council first banned the video when it was offered as a commercial. As Will notes, the French court called the video “inappropriate” for French television, and said that the video’s depiction of happy Down syndrome children is “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.” In other words, the French courts think it best that the conscience of French women who’ve killed their unborn Down syndrome children (which, according to some reports, happens in about 96% of cases)—not to mention those whose minds might be changed on the matter—remain in the dark.

Even the Huffington Post ran a piece that was critical of the French ban. Curious about the response to a pro-life piece on the Huffington Post, I scanned the comments at the end. One in particular is revealing of the liberal mindset when it comes to abortion. A female pro-abortionist declared,
This article isn't balanced…Articles written this way can be dangerous as they trigger strong negative emotions and hate for people with differing views…From what I can see, reading french articles, the Counsel has said that in terms of public interest it’s more important to “protect the right to have an abortion” over “knowing children with Down's can be happy.”
This attitude and the behavior of the French are very typical when it comes to killing children in the womb, because, of course, for the mind corrupted by liberalism, the “right” to kill children in the womb must be protected at almost any cost (because of the “right” to have sex without any consequences). Abortion apologists generally despise any effort to shine light on life in the womb, and they will go to great lengths to allow the grisly practice of abortion to continue. However, as I noted last year, as science and technology advance, the deception about this “choice” is getting much more difficult for liberals. Isn’t it interesting how real science always tends to verify what sound morality always revealed?

As Catholic scholar George Weigel implies, what we are dealing with here is a godless philosophy, devoted to a coercive state (which is why we see liberals go berserk when they lose elections), that ignores the very fabric of reality. And when you are trying to ignore or distort reality, darkness is a comfortable place.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sir Elton Sic'd the "Sheriff" on Me (Update)

I'll have more to say on this in my next column, for now let me just say that, a few days after my piece entitled "Same-Sex 'Marriage' Was Doomed Long Before President-Elect Donald Trump," I received an email from Web Sheriff. The email was from "JM" and the subject declared,
Urgent/Permanent Injunction--Contempt of Court, Invasion of Privacy, Data Protection, Cyber-Harassment & Copyright Infringement Notice and Breach of Terms of Service Notification

Web Sheriff is acting on behalf of the homosexual couple Elton John and David Furnish. Since I mentioned John and Furnish and details concerning their "open marriage" in the aforementioned column--in other words, told the truth about marriage and homosexuality--I became a target. This threatening email has been sent more than once this year (see here).

As the other target of Web Sheriff dutifully notes, this is pure nonsense. It's little more than an empty threat meant to scare me into silence. The people of America haven't been subject to British law for well over two centuries. John and Furnish want to carry on their faux "marriage" and further the homosexual agenda without being challenged. I won't stand for it. I will continue to shine the light on their lies and the lies of their like-minded allies. Stay tuned.

Update 1: It seems my good friends at American Thinker (AT) have fallen prey to similar tactics. Though I'm not privy to all of the details, the column Same-Sex 'Marriage' Was Doomed Long Before President-Elect Donald Trump ran on American Thinker on Sunday, November 27. Because of threats from "ridiculous people" in the UK, AT has--for now--taken down my column. Again, stay tuned.

Trevor Thomas

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fighting the Battle that BuzzFeed Insists We Fight

We were warned. Because the left is not going to remain silent on the moral issues—and because most liberals are devoted to a “theology of self” (or a “philosophical dumpster fire” as described by David French)—Christians, especially Christian celebrities, are going to remain targets of the homosexual agenda. It doesn’t matter whether you are tied to the wedding industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re famous. It doesn’t matter whether you are a small business owner, a large corporation, or a state government. In spite of the meme they like to perpetuate, the left simply will not tolerate dissent when it comes to liberal orthodoxy on homosexuality (and yes, the transgender agenda is wed to—bad pun!—the homosexual agenda).

In addition to lust, in the battle over all things homosexual, the left is driven by vengeance. BuzzFeed’s recent malicious hit-piece aimed at HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines is merely the latest effort in this despicable practice. As Gabriel Malor points out,
This post had one purpose and one purpose alone: to harm the couple. The post served no news purpose—even Aurthur concedes she never learned the Gaines’ view of same-sex marriage. The post cannot be termed “activism” since it fails at every level to persuade readers of the rightness of the same-sex marriage cause. Even the most generous alternate topic of Aurthur’s post, “Texas pastor opposes same-sex marriage,” is as dog-bites-chew-toy as a news item can be. The only conceivable purpose of targeting the popular television couple in this manner was to cost them viewers and, perhaps, their jobs.
Of course, this is an all too familiar (and, as Ace of Spades notes, an all too effective) tactic of the modern left. Whether a television personality, baker, florist, photographer, fast-food chain, or the state of North Carolina, we have frequently witnessed the hateful agents of the homosexual gestapo wage their wicked war against millennia of Christian (and Jewish and Islamic) teaching on sex and sexuality. And make no mistake about it, we are in a war.

However, this is not a war that can be won with mere boycotts, elections, and sympathetic judges (though battles in these arenas should not be ignored by Christians and our like-minded allies). This is a spiritual war that can be won only through prayer, sound spiritual teaching and preaching, and repentance. For decades now, American Christians have poorly taught/preached, poorly modeled, or outright ignored what God has revealed on matters of sex, sexuality, and marriage. Homosexuality has a long way to go before it can inflict the damage done by promiscuity, pornography, adultery, abortion, fornication, and divorce. Many who decry the tactics and efforts of the left when it comes to the homosexual agenda are knee-deep in the sexual sins that are most prevalent in our culture.

As we fight perhaps the defining spiritual battle of our time, Christians must remember that it is not enough simply to point out the sexual immorality of others. We must also be quick to discuss our own struggles with sin, especially those in the sexual realm, as situations call for it. Additionally, being filled with peace, love, joy, and the like, we must live out what is right and true.

As Rick Warren put it a couple of years ago, churches and like-minded others should celebrate healthy marriages. Don’t simply be an opponent of what’s wrong, be a proponent of what’s right. Our lives, whether single or married, should be an example of what a walk with Christ looks like so others are drawn to Him whether they hear us say anything about Him or not.

Specifically, on marriage and sexuality, if you are married, commit as husband and wife to remain faithful in all that the Bible reveals on the holy covenant of marriage. Namely, commit to remain faithful to one another and keep the marriage bed pure. Commit to remain married until your earthly union is dissolved by death. Furthermore, as a union of one man and one woman, commit to allow God to use your union as He sees fit to build His Kingdom.

Also, commit to model and to teach others the truth on marriage and sexuality—specifically that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life and that the only rightful place for sex is within marriage.

Likewise, if you are single, commit to remain faithful to all that the Bible reveals on the holy covenant of marriage. Namely, while unmarried, commit to keep yourself sexually pure and model and teach this behavior to those in your circle of influence. Furthermore, commit to allow God to use you as a single person as He sees fit to build His Kingdom, and commit to model and to teach others the truth on marriage and sexuality. Namely, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life and that the only rightful place for sex is within marriage. (All of this is in the “Marriage Commitment Challenge.”)

Second, those with a higher profile in the culture, those in leadership or who have a wide circle of influence have a greater responsibility in this and all such matters. To whom much is given, much is required. Of course this means pastors, but also politicians, pundits, business leaders, famous athletes, musicians, producers, actors, authors, bloggers, educators, and so on. In other words, not only do we need Christians like Chip and Joanna Gaines to remain strong and unwavering in their faith, we need Christians in the culture at large to tell and model amazing stories on marriage and sexuality. As Rick Warren said, “Whichever side tells the best stories wins.”

There can be little doubt that to a great extent, the deception on homosexuality, marriage, and gender has occurred because of the efforts of liberals in politics, the media, and so on. Not only that, but as most of us well know, the traditional family has been mercilessly attacked in the media. As American Thinker noted last year, this is especially the case with fathers. As Rick Moran put it, “Hollywood has made a deliberate effort to undermine the patriarchy by savaging fatherhood.” This has been the case for decades now.

Christian conservatives and our like-minded friends have not done enough to counter this. For example, recently my wife and I, along with our four kids, attended a Christian concert. Several popular contemporary Christian artists performed. There was a lot of great (but too loud!) music that focused our hearts and minds on God. However, there was nothing said or sung that focused on marriage and the family.

Similarly, there is more than one Christian radio station in our area (northeast Georgia) to which we frequently listen. I hear almost nothing from the hosts, guests, artists, and so on, when it comes to marriage and the family. Surely they are not shying away from the truth out of fear of “offending” their sponsors or audience. Similarly, famous athletes and other entertainers who believe what the Bible teaches on marriage and sexuality need to exercise their First Amendment rights (while they remain!) on these matters. (Like the NFL’s Ben Watson has done.)

Third, if you are a Christian parent, you have no greater responsibility on this earth than sharing the truth with your children. In other words, every parent is in youth ministry. There’s a reason millennials are the group most likely to support a perverse redefinition of marriage. Decades of divorce and out-of-wedlock births have led to tens of millions of U.S. children growing up in homes without both parents. Thus we now have millions of young Americans whose notion of marriage and family has been tragically distorted. This trend must be reversed.

Fourth, we need to be ready to minister to those who suffer from the sin of homosexuality. As the decades have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court foolishly attempted to redefine life in Roe v. Wade, science, technology, and human experience have revealed what sound morality has always taught: life in the womb is just that. Just a few weeks after conception, we can now literally witness, through sight and sound, the miracle of life in the womb.

The horrible images (warning: graphic) of post-abortive children have been seared into the consciences of tens of millions of us. The testimony of regret of millions of women who were deceived by the abortion industry has helped shine light into a deep and ugly darkness. Yes, abortion remains legal and as brutal as ever, but restrictions abound and are growing. Crisis pregnancy centers have ministered to countless women and saved millions of lives.

There is no getting around it: the wages of sin is death. If we linger in sin, we are going to reap suffering. This is certainly true with sexual immorality. Disease and death literally await those enslaved in the homosexual lifestyle. And how can we measure the broken hearts of those who have departed from their Creator’s plan on marriage and sexuality? As has happened in the pro-life movement, the Christian community must equip ourselves like never before to minister to those who are broken by the sin of homosexuality.

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

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Same-Sex “Marriage” Was Doomed Long Before President-Elect Donald Trump

I believe that the two most difficult jobs in the world are being a good spouse and a good parent. The reason: after our relationship with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is that of a husband and his wife. As I’ve often pointed out, the biblical family model is at the foundation of every institution in the history of humanity.

This is what makes the infamous Obergefell ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in late June of 2015 so egregious. It strikes at the heart of America. As my new book, The Miracle and Magnificence of America details, try as they might, the British were unable to establish successful settlements in America until faith-filled families decided to venture across the Atlantic and lay down permanent roots in the “New World.”

Those who want to destroy the greatest nation in the history of humanity know well that for America to be undone, the family model that has prevailed worldwide for millennia must be eradicated. In short, if the family dies, then America as we have long known her, dies. After the God-haters are done, there may still be a nation called “The United States of America,” but it will look nothing like America as she was founded. And such an outcome is just fine for those who despise the Christian foundations upon which America rests.

You see, though the family was the means by which America was made, the pillars of this great nation are the pillars of Christianity. As Jedidiah Morse, noted American geographer, pastor, theologian, and the father of Samuel Morse, the inventor of Morse Code, warned in an election-day sermon on April 25, 1799,
The foundations which support the interest of Christianity, are also necessary to support a free and equal government like our own…To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. I hold this to be a truth confirmed by experience. If so, it follows, that all efforts made to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.
To a great extent, whether he realizes it or not, Donald Trump was elected to slow or stop the efforts of those who’ve set their sights on “the pillars of Christianity” that are the foundation of America. Certainly the federal courts—especially the U.S. Supreme Court—is an area where many Trump voters expect strong conservative action. More than one-fifth of U.S. voters said that the Supreme Court was “the most important factor” in their decision about which presidential candidate to vote for. Of these voters, 57 percent preferred Donald Trump, while only 40 percent chose Hillary Clinton.

With the impending dismantling of Obamacare, other than the collapse of the modern Democrat Party, the chief legacy of Barack Obama will be the legal redefinition of marriage forced upon the American people by five liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justices. As I noted at the time, it’s safe to say that without the election of Barack Obama, we would not have had to endure liberal Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor sitting in judgement of marriage (both appointed by Obama in his first term and both voting legally to redefine marriage).

Of course, the election of a republican president gives no guarantee of conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. However, justices Roberts and Alito, appointed by George W. Bush, both voted against this sweeping and perverse ruling on marriage. All of those who voted for Obama have their fingerprints on the tyrannical judicial travesty that resulted in the legal redefinition of marriage.

Many who voted for Mr. Trump want our fingerprints on the reversal of Obergefell. Unlike some, I’m not terribly discouraged by Trump’s post-election interview with 60 Minutes where he declared that the issue of “marriage equality” was “settled in the Supreme Court.” I believe Mr. Trump’s answer proves him much more politically savvy than he is often given credit for. In other words, the court’s views on marriage are “settled” until right-minded justices can fix the injustice of Obergefell.

But whether or not President Trump gets to, or chooses to, appoint multiple Supreme Court Justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia, same-sex “marriage” is already doomed. A little-known—or, at least not as known as it should be—sexual anecdote of a well-known homosexual couple provides great insight here.

In late 2005, Elton John entered into a “civil partnership” with David Furnish. In 2014, John “married” Furnish. John, age 69, and Furnish are raising two sons (born via a surrogate mother), ages five and three. In the spring of this year the lurid details of a sexual tryst involving Furnish and multiple American men were reported by the American media. Though such behavior would come as little surprise to anyone who knows even the slightest details of the homosexual lifestyle, John and Furnish have, through legal means, successfully kept the story out of the British print media.

In an effort to paint homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” as healthy and normal, John has taken great pains to have his “marriage” painted by the (usually complicit) media as “blissfully happy” and “wonderfully loving” (actual words recently used by London’s Daily Mail to describe John and Furnish’s “marriage”). Yet, in the injunction granted to John and Furnish to prevent the British press from reporting on their extra-“marital” affairs, it is revealed that though they “have portrayed an image to the world of a committed relationship,” their “marriage” does not “entail monogamy.”

In other words, over the years, with the knowledge and consent of the other, both John and Furnish have had multiple “sexual encounters with others.” However, in the name of privacy, John and Furnish want to guard their children from this knowledge (at least until they deem it appropriate to reveal such). Paddy Manning, an “Irish gay libertarian conservative,” rightly concludes that the British courts have made themselves “a partner in a vicious hypocrisy. It is defending the illusion of Elton John's ideal family life against a sordid reality in which his children are mere bagatelles.” Manning adds, “Little argument can be made for saving the two little boys from the putative damage of public exposure when they are living with two selfish hedonists who obtained them by purchase.”

Whether they realize it or not, John and Furnish are attempting to further mangle the definition of marriage. Though their efforts and behaviors sicken and sadden me (and, as many studies over the years have detailed, are very common), I understand well their position: If we are not to hold to what the Bible reveals about marriage in one sense (the union of one man and one woman), why should we in any sense (such as not committing adultery)?

As was noted years ago, for the homosexual agenda, this debate has never been really about marriage. This is a war against the truth—especially when it comes to matters in the sexual realm. And as Euclid reveals, if we change the axioms upon which our world was made, a new and different world results. With the aid of the federal courts—as was the case with life in the womb—liberals are again attempting to create a world where man’s law supersedes God’s law. In other words, as they have been for decades now, liberals are attempting to write their own moral code, and they’re using the power of the state to force the rest of us to submit to it.

Such efforts will ultimately, and always, fail, and as in the case of Elton John and David Furnish, will be revealed as folly. As Gamaliel warned the Sanhedrin concerning the Apostles of Jesus, “[I]f their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38b-39)” As liberals work to hold onto their perverse legal redefinition of marriage, they are not merely battling conservatism, but God Himself, and that is always a losing proposition.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks (Taken from The Miracle and Magnificence of America)

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 spiritual destiny. The Pilgrims (dubbed “Separatists” by the Church of England), and the Puritans who followed them, knew better than to undertake anything without God.

Aboard the Mayflower were 102 passengers, less than half of whom were of Pastor John Robinson’s Separatist flock. After a grueling two-month voyage, on November 11, 1620, they dropped anchor in Cape Cod, and heeding the advice and wisdom of their pastor, 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.
John Carver, who had chartered the Mayflower, was chosen as the first governor of the colony. His was the first signature on the Mayflower Compact, which is considered by many to be the world’s first written constitution. William Bradford would soon replace Carver as governor and would serve in that capacity for 31 years. On December 21, 1620, the Pilgrims settled at what would become known as Plymouth.

A replica model of the Mayflower. Created by Norbert Schnitzler.

Though their efforts were “for the glory of God,” the Pilgrims were not immune to the many hardships of an untamed America. Before long, many started dying. William Bradford’s wife Dorothy was among the casualties as she fell overboard and drowned. (Initially, while dwellings were being built, the Pilgrims lived mostly aboard the Mayflower.) Due in part to a brutal winter, dozens would die in those first few months, including 13 of 18 wives. In spite of hardships, the Pilgrims were undeterred and drew ever closer to God.

The months turned into years and saw the Pilgrims develop good relations with the local natives including Massasoit, a wise and welcoming chief of the local tribes, Samoset, and especially Tisquantum, or Squanto.

In the middle of March 1621, just as the Pilgrims were coming out of the devastatingly harsh winter, a guard alerted his comrades with the cry of “Indian coming!” Wearing only a loincloth as he walked into the Pilgrims’ camp, Samoset astonished the English onlookers with a hearty “Welcome!” Then speaking surprisingly clear English, he followed his friendly greeting with a request, “Have you got any beer?”

The Pilgrims informed their friendly guest that they were out of beer, and offered him brandy instead. After a hearty snack of brandy, biscuit, butter, cheese, pudding, and roast duck, Samoset was ready to answer questions. In spite of their difficult and deadly plight, Samoset’s words gave the Pilgrims great cause to thank God.

Having learned his English from the various fisherman who had fished the shores of Maine, Samoset revealed that the area currently occupied by the Pilgrims had been the territory of the Patuxet. The Patuxets were a large, hostile tribe of natives who had viciously murdered every white man who landed on their shores. However, four years prior to the Pilgrims’ arriving in America, a mysterious plague killed every member of the Patuxet tribe. Convinced that the widespread death and devastation was the work of a great supernatural spirit, neighboring tribes had avoided that area occupied by the Patuxet ever since.

On March 22, 1621, Samoset returned to the Pilgrims with Squanto, who spoke even better English. Squanto’s life is an amazing tale of God’s provision that very closely resembles the account of Joseph from Genesis, chapter 37. In 1605, working for the recently formed East India Company and searching for a northwest passage to India, Captain George Weymouth explored the New England coast. While exploring the coast of Maine, Weymouth captured five Patuxet Indians, one of whom was Squanto.

The Indians were taken to England where they spent nine years and were taught English. While in England, Squanto met Captain John Smith, who promised to return him to the Patuxets. In 1614, Smith kept his promise and returned to the New England area of America with the Indians. However, in order to survey and explore, Smith departed what he called New Plymouth. Soon after Smith’s departure, Captain Thomas Hunt, who had sailed with Smith on another ship, lured 20 Patuxets aboard his ship and slapped chains on them. They were transported to Spain where most were sold into slavery and shipped to North Africa. However, some, including Squanto, were purchased and set free by friars. These friars introduced Squanto and his fellow Indians to Christianity. Squanto and his new-found faith would play a vital role in American history.

Squanto remained in Europe for several years. In 1619, having joined an exploratory expedition along the New England coast, Squanto left Europe in order to return to his homeland.

In 1620, six months prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival, Squanto arrived back in New England and soon returned to the shores of his home. Upon arriving at his village, he was shocked to discover that no one was there to greet him. Virtually every member of the Patuxets had died, perhaps from smallpox brought by the European ships. Broken and dismayed, Squanto aimlessly wandered the woods where he had grown up.

He ended up in the camp of the Wampanoag people, who were led by Massasoit. Taking pity on him, Massasoit welcomed Squanto and gave him a new home. However, without a tribe or a family, Squanto’s existence seemed without purpose. He remained a broken man until he got word of a peaceful but pitiful band of Europeans who were riddled with disease and starvation on the shores near his homeland.

Soon after Samoset introduced Squanto to the Pilgrims, a meeting with Massasoit was arranged. Massasoit, Samoset, Squanto, and dozens of Wampanoag warriors traveled to Plymouth to meet the Pilgrims. With Samoset serving as the interpreter for Massasoit, the meeting was extremely fruitful. A peace treaty and a treaty of mutual aid were struck with Massasoit that would last for decades.

Massasoit and his party returned home, but Squanto remained with the Pilgrims. Being a man without a tribe, personally witnessing the desperation of the Pilgrims, and already having adopted their faith, Squanto took pity upon his new-found English friends and wanted to help them succeed in their New World. He taught them how to fish for eels and alewives, plant corn and pumpkins, refine maple syrup, trap beavers, hunt deer, and other skills essential to their survival.

Squanto was instrumental in the survival of the Pilgrims—so much so that, according to William Bradford, the Pilgrims considered Squanto “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation.” Massasoit also was an amazing example of God’s providential care for the Pilgrims. Like Powhatan had been at Jamestown, Massasoit was probably the only other native chief on the northeast coast of America who would have welcomed the white man as a friend.

In early April of 1621, with supplies running dangerously low, the Captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, decided he could remain in America no longer. On April 5, 1621, the Mayflower returned to England. As the ship disappeared over the horizon, almost certainly a nervous uneasiness came upon more than a few Pilgrims who remained in the New World. Their last ties to their former home were gone. They, perhaps, felt more alone than at any point of their amazing journey.

The summer of 1621 was beautiful and, thanks in no small measure to the help of Squanto, bountiful. Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving to be held in October. Massasoit was invited. Surprising the Pilgrims, he showed up a day early with 90 of his tribe. To feed such a crowd, the Pilgrims would have to go deep into their food supply. However, Massasoit did not show up empty handed. He had instructed his braves to hunt for the occasion, and they came with several dressed dear and fat turkeys. The Thanksgiving turned into a three-day celebration filled with feasting and games.

The First Thanksgiving, by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

A few weeks after the first Thanksgiving and about a year after the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, the Fortune sailed into Plymouth on its way to Virginia. The main cargo was an additional 35 colonists and a charter granted from the New England Company. There was tremendous celebration over the new charter; however, unlike the Indians, the new colonists arrived virtually empty handed. They had no extra clothing, food, or tools. The Pilgrims would have to adjust their winter food rationing plan severely.

The winter of 1621-1622 was as difficult as feared. The Pilgrims entered what has been described as their “starving time.” Some reports reveal that at times, food rations for each person were a mere five kernels of corn per day. Miraculously, that winter not one Pilgrim died of starvation.

There was no Thanksgiving celebration in 1622. When the spring planting season of 1623 rolled around, the Pilgrims realized that to fend off further hunger and rationing, a corn harvest at least twice as large as last season was necessary. However, a lackluster work ethic prevailed among them. This was mainly because the contract entered into with their merchant sponsors in London required everything the Pilgrims produced was to go into a common store and be shared. As Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out on his radio broadcast that celebrates Thanksgiving Day, the Pilgrims were languishing under socialism.

The leaders of the colony then decreed that for the additional planting, individual plots of land would be split, and the yield could be used at the planters’ discretion. Thus, as the concept of private property was introduced, the Pilgrims seemed infused and invigorated with new hope and purpose. As Marshall and Manuel point out, “The yield that year was so abundant that the Pilgrims ended up with a surplus of corn, which they were able to use in trading that winter with northern Indians, who had not had a good growing season.”

On November 29, 1623, two years after the first Thanksgiving, Governor William Bradford made an official proclamation for a second 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.”  Well over a hundred Natives attended, bringing plenty of turkey and venison along with them.

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 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Short Primer on the Electoral College

Just prior to the 2004 presidential election, I gave a short explanation on the Electoral College. It was true then, and it's true today. With a few slight edits, I wrote:

Frustrated with the outcome of the last presidential election, especially since Al Gore won the popular vote, some in our country have cast a wary eye at the method by which we choose our president. Murmurings against the Electoral College began even before George W. Bush was sworn in and they have picked up recently as we approach the 2004 presidential election. Significant members of Congress have even suggested abolishing the electoral college. Like-minded editorialists and media elites have joined in the fray.

Upon being elected to the U.S. Senate, Hillary Clinton promised to introduce in the Senate a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. [I never accused her of failing to plan ahead!] The movement was supported by other like-minded Senators from both parties: Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senators John Warner and Arlen Spector. There was also support in the House of Representatives, from Republicans Ray Lahood and Jim Leach and Democrats Robert Wise, Dick Gephardt, Rick Boucher, Virgil Goode, and Robert Underwood. Most of those calling for a change offer no real alternatives other than allowing the popular vote to determine the winner.

Within the last few weeks editorialists from The New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also called for the abolition of the electoral college. The New York Times called it “a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority.” They added, “There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president.”

What were our Founders thinking and why shouldn’t we have a direct election of the President? According to historian David Barton, “During the Constitutional Convention, three proposals were originally discussed by the framers on how the president could be elected. Interestingly, those three proposals were rejected.” The first proposal called for Congress to elect the president, the second proposal allowed for the state legislators to do so, and the third proposal was to have the president chosen by national popular vote (direct election).

According to Barton, the national popular vote method was rejected “not because the framers distrusted the people but rather because the larger populous States would have much greater influence than the smaller States and therefore the interests of those smaller States could be disregarded or trampled. Additionally, a nationwide election would encourage regionalism since the more populous areas of the country could form coalitions to elect president after president from their own region. With such regional preferentialism, lasting national unity would be nearly impossible.”

The framers, then, referred the issue of the selection of a president to a “Committee of Eleven” for further investigation. The Electoral College was the result of this investigation.

Barton adds that, “The electoral college synthesized two important philosophies established in the Constitution: (1) the maintenance of a republican, as opposed to a democratic, form of government and (2) the balancing of power between the smaller and the larger States and between the various diverse regions of the nation.”

The Legislative branch of our government, with its House and Senate, also reflects this balance desired by our Founders. Representation in the House is proportional to a state’s population, but representation in the Senate is the same for all states no matter their population. Consequently, Alaska, the third least populous state, has only a single vote in the House, where California, the most populous state, has 53. Therefore Alaska, a very important state in our union (with all of its natural resources), has almost no power in the House to affect legislation. However, it has equal power in the Senate and there must be significant agreement or compromise for legislation to become law.

Using the Electoral College system to determine the head of the Executive branch of our government maintains the same kind of balance reflected in the Legislative branch.

The will of the people is taken into account, but the will of the states is also.

People frustrated with the outcome of the last [2000] presidential election point only to the majority of the vote, which Gore won by ½ of 1%. They ignore the fact that Bush won 30 states (60%), to Gore’s 20; or that Bush won 2436 counties (78%) compared to 676 for Gore; and by my count, Bush won 225 congressional districts (51.7%) to Gore’s 210. So, while a very slight majority of the people chose Gore, a much more significant majority of states and regions chose Bush. The result, therefore, was a slight electoral victory for Bush.

In support of the Electoral College, John Taylor (an officer during the American Revolution and a U. S. Senator under Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) wisely put it this way:

“Two principles sustain our Constitution: one a majority of the people, the other a majority of the States; the first was necessary to preserve the liberty or sovereignty of the people; the last, to preserve the liberty or sovereignty of the States. But both are founded in the principle of majority; and the effort of the Constitution is to preserve this principle in relation both to the people and the States, so that neither species of sovereignty or independence should be able to destroy the other.”
Like George Bush, Donald Trump won 30 states to Hillary Clinton's 20. With final results still to come in (or simple be counted--see the 2016 U.S. presidential election map by county below), I believe it's safe to say that Trump won more counties and congressional districts than Bush (thus a more comfortable electoral win). In other words, in spite of Hillary perhaps having a larger popular vote win that Gore, her electoral performance was much worse, and that is what matters in our constitutional republic.

The counties won by Donald Trump make the U.S. a sea of red. 

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America