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Friday, September 25, 2015

Islam, Christianity, and Electoral “Discrimination”

Ben Carson’s recent statements about Islam and the U.S. presidency have garnered a wide array of commentary. Most of the remarks have been quite critical, with even some conservatives taking Carson to task. Predictably, many of those critical of Carson point to the Constitution’s “no religious test” clause. Also predictably, many who are making this argument completely ignore that Carson was not advocating for such a “religious test.”

Interestingly, every one of the American Colonies did have such a “religious test.” What’s more, these tests continued long after the United States was formed. The U.S. Constitution went into effect on June 21, 1788. An excerpt (Article 7, Section 2) from the 1796 Tennessee constitution reads, “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.”

Article 11, Section 4 of the very same constitution says, “That no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state.” Thus, within the same state constitution there resides a religious requirement for holding public office, along with a prohibition against a “religious test.” Therefore, we can conclude that, in the era of our founding, many believed that requiring a belief in God for elected officials did not constitute a “religious test.”

Likewise, the Article 1 Section 4 of the Texas (who didn’t enter the Union until 1845) constitution said, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

The constitution of the state of Mississippi (1817, Article 14, Section 265) states, “No person who denies the being of God or a future state of rewards and punishments shall hold any office in the civil department of the State.” More tamely, Article 37 of the Maryland constitution says, “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.”

It wasn’t until 1961, in Torcaso v. Watkins that the Supreme Court rendered such clauses unenforceable. Again, interestingly the Court did not base its ruling on the “no religious test” clause. Justice Hugo Black wrote, “Appellant also claimed that the State's test oath requirement violates the provision of Art. VI of the Federal Constitution that ‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’ Because we are reversing the judgment on other grounds, we find it unnecessary to consider appellant's contention that this provision applies to state as well as federal offices.”

Instead, the Court ruled that requiring a belief in God to hold public office violated the First and Fourteenth amendments. In other words, the Supreme Court ruled that such requirements were a violation of the “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment.

However, as I noted, Mr. Carson was not advocating for a government “religious test.” Rather, he was implying that voters exercise a personal religious test as they enter the ballot booth. Of course, this still offends today’s liberals (which is a great indication that one has simply told the truth). Also, what Ben Carson declared is little different than what John Jay—Founding Father, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, and the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court—said in an 1816 letter to John Murray. In fact, Jay was much more exclusive than Carson when he wrote, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Imagine that! Not only did John Jay proclaim that Americans should prefer Christians for their leaders, approximately four decades after the creation of the United States, one of the most significant U.S. founders considered this a “Christian nation.” If such a conclusion is even hinted at today, the (often godless) secularists that dominate the modern left and the mainstream media howl like Highball the hound.

In spite of the meme perpetuated by today’s left, John Jay was far from alone in his conclusion on America’s founding. (However, many on both sides of the argument frequently misunderstand what is meant by a “Christian nation.”) In fact, it is not only American Christians who make such claims.

After the victory over Great Britain, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both served the freshly birthed United States of America as ministers in Europe. Quoting from David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography, John Adams:

“Of the multiple issues in contention between Britain and the new United States of America, and that John Adams had to address as minister, nearly all were holdovers from the Treaty of Paris, agreements made but not resolved, concerning debts, the treatment of Loyalists, compensation for slaves and property confiscated by the British, and the continued presence of British troops in America. All seemed insoluble. With its paper money nearly worthless, its economy in shambles, the United States was desperate for trade…To Adams the first priority must be to open British ports to American ships.”

During this time Adams and Jefferson corresponded regularly. According to McCullough:

“In eight months’ time, from late May 1785, when Adams first assumed his post in London, until February 1786, he wrote 28 letters to Jefferson, and Jefferson wrote a nearly equal number in return…Increasingly their time and correspondence was taken up by concerns over American shipping in the Mediterranean and demands for tribute made by the Barbary States of North Africa—Algiers, Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco. To insure their Mediterranean trade against attacks by the ‘Barbary pirates,’ the nations of Europe customarily made huge cash payments…On a chill evening in February came what Adams took to be an opening. At the end of a round of ambassadorial ‘visits,’ he stopped to pay his respects to a new member of the diplomatic corps in London, His Excellency Abdrahaman, envoy of the sultan of Tripoli…The conversation turned to business. America was a great nation, declared His Excellency, but unfortunately a state of war existed between America and Tripoli. Adams questioned how that could be…[Adams was told that], without a treaty of peace there could be no peace between Tripoli and America. His Excellency was prepared to arrange such a treaty…Were a treaty delayed, it would be more difficult to make. A war between Christian and Christian was mild, prisoners were treated with humanity; but, warned His Excellency, a war between Muslim and Christian could be horrible. [emphasis mine]”

Thus, here we have a foreign diplomat—a Muslim diplomat—during the infancy of the United States, recognizing that the U.S. was indeed a “Christian” nation.

Lastly, along with claiming that Ben Carson is afoul of the Constitution with his conclusion about Muslims and the U.S. presidency, he has—of course—been labeled a “bigot,” accused of discrimination, and branded an Islamophobe. This is nothing more than the perverse and foolish liberal notion of “tolerance” at work.

As we do in practically every other area of our lives (marriage, etc.), we ALL “discriminate” when we vote. As a good “John Jay conservative,” there’s almost no situation where I would ever vote for a Muslim, a homosexual, an atheist, or anyone else who is so clearly outside of the Christian faith. Additionally, whether they claim to be a Christian or not, there is virtually no electoral scenario where I would vote for a liberal. (See: Two Shades of Dismay: The Perverse Bondage Wrought by Liberalism and Islam.)

It’s another sad indictment on our media and our culture that Barack Obama advocates for infanticide, declares that he wouldn’t want his daughters “punished with a baby,” and offers a “God bless you” to those responsible for the death of millions of the most innocent among us, is elected and re-elected leader of the free world. Yet, when Ben Carson casts a suspicious eye towards those who dominate the most dangerous, oppressive, violent and backwards parts of the world, he is unfit for office.

(See a version of this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2015, 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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Pretender Tells the Truth on Pop-Music Prostitutes

What a sad indictment on our culture that a twice-divorced Vaishnava, PETA loving vegetarian rock-and-roller who once tried to convince the drug-addicted lead singer of the Sex Pistols to marry her, is now a voice of reason when it comes to the hyper-sexed nature of modern pop music.

Chrissie Hynde, the 64-year-old former lead singer of The Pretenders, recently implied that the “bumping and grinding,” underwear-wearing musicians Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and the like, are nothing more than prostitutes. In accusing such singers of doing “a great deal of damage to women” with their risqué performances, the exact label used by Hynde was “sex worker.”

Hynde went so far as to accuse the gyrating hussies of putting women in danger. Hynde declared, “I don’t think sexual assault is a gender issue as such, I think it’s very much it’s all around us now. It’s provoked by this pornography culture, it’s provoked by pop stars who call themselves feminists. Maybe they’re feminists on behalf of prostitutes – but they are no feminists on behalf of music, if they are selling their music by bumping and grinding and wearing their underwear in videos. That’s a kind of feminism – but, you know, you’re a sex worker is what you are.”

Hynde is exactly right. And as I noted over a year ago, tragically, the “sex worker” and “pornography culture” she describes extends far beyond the realm of today’s pop music. For decades now, our media has been saturated with such smut. In our household, we’ve long referred to these Hollywood sluts as “high-priced harlots.” Whether in TV, motion pictures, music videos, swimsuit magazines, lingerie ads, burger ads, and so on, what else are we supposed to call women who do little more than make money by displaying their flesh?

For nearly three generations now, despite, in some cases, the best efforts of their parents, we have had boys grow into men who have seen thousands of images of scantily clad, seductive-acting women. It is little wonder then, that, instead of marriage and family, many young men now seek only “friends with benefits.”

As they take notice of what draws the attention of today’s young males, young girls are often duped into emulating the attractive and scantily clad women they see on TV and the internet, in movies and magazines. Walk through any mall or park during warm weather. You will see girls from pre-pubescent age on up with their bodies barely covered.

As my lovely wife noted last year, “Females must begin to take some responsibility by dressing for respect instead of for sex. What we wear says a lot about us, whether we intend it or not. It isn’t fair for us to dress like sluts and expect men to behave themselves like gentlemen. It goes both ways.”

It is also little wonder then that we now live in a “hook-up” culture, where women and men both are a means to a selfish sexual end—which has, among other disastrous things, led to over 40% of American children being born out of wedlock. Most of these children are raised without a father. Much of the violent (including rape) and criminal behavior exhibited by boys and young men today is, to a great extent, the sad result of growing up without a father, or at least a father who will teach and model for them how they are supposed to treat women.

And instead of teaching and promoting eternal truths on sex, marriage, and the family, whether with abortion, the homosexual agenda, the transgender agenda, pornography, and the like, modern feminists have embraced nearly every sexually deviant perversion known in our culture. As the Apostle Paul put it, they are “God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil.”

Chrissie Hynde recently penned Reckless: My Life as A Pretender. “I regret half of this story,” she declares. Hynde has been very candid about her sorrow for past drug and alcohol abuse, her broken relationship with her parents, and her sexual promiscuity. Modern feminists and their apologists are paying little attention.

In reviewing Reckless, the Boston Globe’s Mike Shanahan said that “controversial comments about rape and provocative attire” by Hyndes “suggests she may have a ways to go” when it comes to feminism. How duped by feminist lies does one have to be to stand up for the likes of a twerking demon-in-heat-like Miley Cyrus?

Make no mistake about it, unless they repent from their hedonistic lifestyle sooner rather than later, and if they manage to live long enough, many of today’s feminists will be sounding like Chrissie Hynde.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2015, 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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ashley Madison and Me

I thought of revealing this a few days ago when I wrote of Josh Duggar’s outing as a member of the adulterous Ashley Madison website. Recent events have now compelled me to share what I previously kept between only myself and my wife.

On February 28 of this year, I received the following email (click to make image larger):

That’s right, six months ago I received a solicitation from Ashley Madison. The subject line of the email was the Ashley Madison motto: “Life Is Short—Have An Affair!” Take note of the lies: “Every Single Minute A new Woman joins…” (Almost all of the female accounts were fake.) And when it comes to your “discreet affair,” Ashley Madison “GUARANTEE[S]…your current partner WON’T FIND OUT. This is 100% RISK FREE.” (And we all know how that has turned out.) Of course, no one should be surprised that a group promoting adultery would stoop to lying as well.

Don’t worry, I didn’t bite. After the initial shock at how my email address would end up on an Ashley Madison list, I did what I often do when faced with something illicit in the sexual realm: I told my wife.

Michelle and I have been married nearly 18 years. We long ago learned not to mess around with sexual temptation. I don’t eat at Hooters. I don’t subscribe to Sports Illustrated. I try not to even walk by a Victoria’s Secret store. (We’ve received three Victoria’s Secret catalogs in the mail recently. Each time Michelle has immediately called their customer service to have us removed from their mailing list.) Both Michelle and I try to be careful and not to allow ourselves to be in a potentially compromising situation with someone of the opposite sex. (Alone at work, etc.)

Also, with four children, Michelle and I have more to think about than our relationship. We don’t want to bring suffering into their lives because of poor decisions on our part. We want to teach, enforce, and model truth in the sexual realm. Our oldest is our 13 year-old son Caleb. Next is our 11 year-old son Jesse. (Caroline is nine and Noah is six.) We also do not want them deceived when it comes to what is truth on marriage and sexuality.

This is especially the case as our children enter puberty. We refuse to allow our daughter to dress as a prostitute, and we are teaching our sons to avoid girls who do so.

Our culture is saturated with lies when it comes to marriage and sexuality. Very often children, especially teenage boys, are targets of the sexually immoral. Whether scantily clad young ladies in the grocery-store catalogs/magazines, rampant sexual immorality in entertainment (TV, movies, music), or pornography on the internet (including what could only be described as the soft-core porn of swimsuit magazines and the like), it is extremely difficult to guard our children—not to mention ourselves—from such sexual sin.

We are literally in a war when it comes to this trash. Virtually every adult American will face sexual temptation of one sort or other. This is certainly not a battle that should be fought alone. We need to be guarded, and we need accountability, but most of all, we need the power of our Creator.

As C.S. Lewis put it, “We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”

Copyright 2015, 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