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Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Clear Moral Choice

After his drubbing in the first debate, Barack Obama finds himself on the receiving end of plenty of advice when it comes to the next one. Jennifer Granholm (remember her?), the former governor of Michigan turned political commentator (though few know it, as she resides on Al Gore’s Current TV), recently chimed in. “This election involves a moral choice,” she recently declared, adding that, “This is a choice about our national character.”

I have to chuckle whenever liberals want to talk in terms of morality. I mean, after all, it was their party that lustily booed God on their convention floor. Of course, this is in addition to their devotion to killing children in the womb, removing prayer, the Commandments, and the Bible from the public arena, and their support of sexual immorality and the redefinition of marriage.

Ironically, with the devotion they show, for many, liberalism has become a religion. “Observing the basic divide in the American culture,” Dr. Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, looks to Howard P. Kainz, professor emeritus of philosophy at Marquette University. Kainz notes: “Most of the heat of [culture] battle occurs where traditional religious believers clash with certain liberals who are religiously committed to secular liberalism.”

Mohler adds, “Looking back over the last century, Kainz argues that Marxism and ideological Liberalism have functioned as religious systems for millions of individuals. Looking specifically at Marxism, Kainz argues that the Marxist religion had dogmas, canonical scriptures, priests, theologians, ritualistic observances, parochial congregations, heresies, hagiography, and even an eschatology…

“Similarly, Kainz argues that modern secular liberalism includes its own dogmas. Among these are the beliefs ‘that mankind must overcome religious superstition by means of reason; that empirical science can and will eventually answer all the questions about the world and human values that were formerly referred to traditional religion or theology; and that the human race, by constantly invalidating and disregarding hampering traditions, can and will achieve perfectibility.’”

Of course, this directly contradicts the Judeo-Christian worldview held by most conservatives. Thus, Kainz boldly warns that modern secular liberalism is the greatest threat to orthodox Christianity. This is no new assertion, as Mohler also points out.

In the early 1920s, J. Gresham Machen, founder of Westminster Theological Seminary, argued that “evangelical Christianity and its liberal rival were, in effect, two very different religions.” In his book Christianity and Liberalism, Machen goes so far as to propose that Christian liberalism is not Christianity at all, declaring that “Liberalism has abandoned Christianity.”

Bishop E.W. Jackson certainly thinks so. The fiery black pastor recently implored black Christians to “end [their] slavish devotion to the Democrat Party.” Jackson accuses Democrats of violating “everything we believe as Christians,” and of creating an “unholy alliance” with Planned Parenthood which, he declares, “has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.” He goes on: “Planned Parenthood…has killed unborn black babies by the tens-of-millions…and the Democrat Party and their black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”

Many Pastors, of every skin color, are becoming bolder when it comes to political activity. Sunday October 8 was Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The movement, led by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), challenges the IRS over the 1954 Johnson Amendment which forbids churches from specifically endorsing candidates. Over 1,500 American pastors participated and voluntarily informed the IRS of their “transgression.” (In 2008, the number was only 33.)

As more and more people of faith see our government (especially the federal government) endorsing or specifically engaging in activity that many deem immoral, taking a political stand on the social issues is seen as vital. Pastor Mark Cowart in Colorado Springs told his congregation that, “When a Christian goes in and votes for someone who promotes things that God abhors, I can’t imagine how God sees that. I encourage you to look at your faith and your politics and your vote and see if they correlate.”

Granholm’s recent Huffington Post piece was entitled, “Mr. President: Next Debate, Make Moral Choice Clear.” Of course, what she really means is that she wants Barack Obama to make the case for bigger government. She wants Mr. Obama to make the case for having more of our money. Liberals love to be generous—with other people’s money.

So yes, PLEASE Mrs. Granholm, let’s debate the moral issues. Let’s have Mr. Obama defend his “evolution” on gay marriage and his defense of what could only be described as infanticide. Let him justify to the American people why he prefers to be more generous with our income than he is with his own. Conservatives welcome this debate.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2012, 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

Islam Deserves Its Scorn

As the renowned and pioneering historian Bernard Lewis noted over 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.”

As Muslim savages rage against the U.S. abroad, 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 36 are authoritarian regimes (dictatorships). Of the Index’s 10 most authoritarian regimes, 6 of them are members of the OIC.

Muslims are over 23 percent of the world population and produce barely eight percent of global GDP. The average GDP rank for the members of the OIC is 102 (out of 211 nations). The total GDP of the 57 member OIC is approximately $4.9 trillion. That is about one-third of the GDP of the U.S. alone ($14.4 trillion).

According to the United Nations’ 2009 Arab Human Development Report, “For nearly two and half decades after 1980, the [Arab] region witnessed hardly any economic growth. World Bank data show that real GDP per capita in the Arab countries grew by a mere 6.4 per cent over the entire 24 year period from 1980 to 2004 (i.e. by less than 0.5 per cent annually).” One in five Arabs lives on less than $2 per day.

Illiteracy plagues the Arab world. About a third of those living in Arab countries cannot read. This includes about half of all women. There are fewer 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 nine Nobel Laureates while a mere 14 million Jews have produced 166. 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 16 nations the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has under its Country of Particular Concern designation, 11 are Islamic regimes (all of the others are differing authoritarian regimes, including North Korea, China, and Vietnam). 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 backward. Any politician—republican, democrat, and the like—who attempts to paint Islam or Islamic nations in a positive light is at the least not giving the whole picture, and is at the worst, a political coward.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2012, 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

Friday, October 19, 2012

Eugene Elander Reply:

To today’s Gainesville Times letter writer Eugene Elander:

Nothing about "rendering unto Caesar" allows Christians to ignore their faith when it comes to voting. For that matter, neither does our Constitution. In fact, one of our Founders, John Jay--one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court--said "it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians as their rulers."

Do you think Mr. Jay had the proper "conception of the American system of government?"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On Last Night's Debate: The Empty Chair Showed Up

There should be little surprise at the results of 2012’s first presidential debate. What the heck else was Obama going to do or say?! This is what happens when you have to run on your sorry record. This is what happens when there is no teleprompter. This is what happens when you don’t have the mainstream media to run cover for you. Chris Matthews essentially said as much, when, in his post-debate tantrum he asked, “Tonight wasn't an MSNBC debate tonight, was it?”

In the 2008 campaign, Obama had no such concerns. There was little for his critics to point to. He stormed through the campaign elevated by his lofty rhetoric. Isn’t it ironic that one of the most repeated criticisms of Romney is his lack of details on the issues, when in 2008, running on his autobiography and a couple of speeches, Americans elected as President the least experienced man to ever have held the office?

Last night’s debate, and for that matter, the last three-and-a-half years, are the results of having the Amateur (thank you Edward Klein!) in the White House. Romney, with his successful business and political career, distinguished himself well last night and helped paint a clear contrast between the two campaigns. More of this will be necessary as there is little doubt that the mainstream media, as they have managed to do for the last several years, will now attempt to clean up this mess by Obama.

Copyright 2012, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Opening Statement at the Gainesville College Forum on : "What Role Should Religion Play in Government?"

To deny religion, and specifically Christianity—because, let’s face it, that’s what we’re really talking about here—a role in our government today would be to ignore our Constitution, and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plain and simple history of this great nation.

Time and again, our Founders looked to the Word of God, and sought His Divine guidance. They understood well that their efforts without God were in vain. As John Adams noted, “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.” In fact, long before the winds of revolution began to blow in America, the early settlers accepted and operated from this premise.

For example, ten years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the Puritans founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Under the leadership of their ministers, the Puritans established a representative government with annual elections. By 1641 they had a “Body of Liberties” (essentially a Bill of Rights), which was penned by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward. This was the first legal code established by the colonists.

In 1636 the Rev. Thomas Hooker, along with other Puritan ministers, founded Connecticut. They also established an elective form of government. In 1638, after Hooker preached a sermon from the first chapter of Deuteronomy on the fair and just principles of government practiced by the nation of Israel, Roger Ludlow wrote the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. This was the first constitution written in America. It served as a model of government for other colonies and, eventually, a union of colonies. It also served as a model for the U.S. Constitution.

After writing the Declaration of Ind. (which references God 4 times), Thomas Jefferson, along with Ben Franklin and John Adams, was appointed to a special committee to create an official seal for the United States. Jefferson and Franklin proposed that one side of the seal portray Moses leading the nation of Israel. Adams wrote, “Mr. Jefferson proposed: The children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night…”

In his inaugural address to Congress George Washington stated:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

Writing to his son, the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams said, “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.”

John Adams noted that, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity.”

America’s “Schoolmaster” Noah Webster supports this in his 1832 History of the United States when he wrote that “our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.” Webster added, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles…to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.”

Noting the direct influence of religion upon politics in the young U.S., French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that “In the United States the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth…The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”

In what sense, then, does religion play a roll in the U.S. government? To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice David Brewer: Not in the sense that the United States has an established religion, or that people of the U.S. are compelled to support any religion. Americans profess a wide variety of religions, and some reject all. Americans are free to decide such matters for themselves. The role that religion HAS played in U.S. government, and hopefully will continue to play, is that of a potter’s wheel. Religion—most specifically the Christian religion—was the foundation upon which our forefathers molded and shaped America into what she is today. Our Constitution, laws, values, and institutions reflect this, and our history bears it out.

Copyright 2012, 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