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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Massachusetts and Haiti


Only four U.S. states (HI, VT, RI, NY) had a greater margin of victory for Obama in the 2010 presidential election than Massachusetts (25.81%). All 10 congressional districts in Massachusetts are represented by democrats. These districts have voted for the democrat in the last 3 presidential elections by an average margin of 27.3 percentage points. The Massachusetts state legislature is overwhelmingly democratic. Undeniably,Massachusetts is as “blue” as the deep blue sea.

A republican victory by Scott Brown in the race for the Senate seat held for nearly 47 years by Ted Kennedy would be shocking, to say the least. It would indeed be the strongest of repudiations against the policies of theObama administration—especially Obamacare. Brown has campaigned against the current health care legislation as “the 41st vote” in the U.S. Senate. This has certainly helped his cause—perhaps more than any other single issue. Brown has also campaigned against the rampant spending currently taking place in Washington. This has also resonated with Massachusetts voters.

On Christmas Eve, as Senate Democrats finally passed a health care bill, 92-year-old Robert Byrd shot his finger into the air to signal his “yes” vote. “This,” the Democrat called out from his wheelchair, “is for my friend Ted Kennedy.” Since Kennedy’s death in August of last year, Democrats have invoked the late Senator’s name multiple times in the push for health care legislation. In late December, Ted Kennedy’s widow Vicki penned an op-ed in the Washington Post urging his colleagues “to finish the work of his life.”

Barney Frank recently said that if Brown wins, health care legislation is dead. How rich would the irony be if, in one of the most liberal states in the U.S., republicans win a seat that was held by the man who made universal health care his “life’s work” and thus, effectively defeat this cause?


If you had doubts about the Christian heritage of the United States, the recent tragedy in Haiti again brings to light the influence Jesus Christ has in America. Even before the earthquake struck the small island nation, Christians were very active there. According to the New York Times’ David Brooks (see here), “More than 10,000 organizations perform missions… in Haiti. By some estimates, Haiti has more nongovernmental organizations per capita than any other place on earth.”

A recent publication from a large local church in my area noted that tens of thousands of meals were provided for Haitians from that church alone each month. As I wrote in 2008, Americans are the most generous people on the earth. In July of 2008, WORLD Magazine reported that, “A new study by the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Prosperity says that Americans account for 45 percent of all philanthropic giving worldwide. Not only is that significantly more than any other nation on earth, it's also dramatically more on a per capita basis. One example: The average American gives 14 times more to charity than the average Italian.”

For the most part, this generosity is a by-product of the Christian influence in America. As calls for aid to Haiti continue, I propose that it will be the followers of Christ who will answer the call most emphatically and efficiently.

President Obama recently pledged $100 million for Haiti relief. However, as Brooks points out, the world’s governments have given trillions of dollars in aid to poor nations the world over, to little or no avail. The truth is,Brooks notes, that “we don’t know how to use aid to reduce poverty.” He’s right. Government doesn’t really know what it’s doing when it comes to delivering “aid,” but followers of Jesus do.

As I noted regarding the Tiger Woods saga, the only real hope for Haiti, now or before the quake, lies with Jesus Christ. After the earthquake, Pat Robertson made very controversial statements as to the reasons behind the disaster.

Robertson blamed the tragedy on something that “happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it.” The Haitians, he said, “were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it's a deal.’”

Robertson, of course, has been skewered in the media since his statements (perhaps somewhat deservedly). Interestingly, Brooks (certainly not someone who would describe himself as “spirit-filled”), in his NY Times column said, “Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile.”

Whatever the “cause,” certainly what is happening in Haiti is a tragedy that deserves the love and attention of Christians worldwide. Just as certain is that there are spiritual forces at work in Haiti that need the prayer and attention of followers of Jesus Christ.

The book of Genesis records the words of Joseph, the son of Israel (Jacob), who revealed himself to his brothers who had sold him into slavery many years before. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” What the enemy means for evil, God means for good. As I wrote last year, “God Himself never let a crisis ‘go to waste.’ What better opportunity to reveal Himself to so many who seem to have forgotten that He was ever there.” Haiti is no exception.

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


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