Immigration Order Proves Obama is the Family Values President

Since the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the Republican Party has used the smokescreen of “family values” to win over the Christian vote, and it has worked for them exceedingly well. Of course, the name “family values” is a bit misleading, because the values that Republicans address are almost exclusively sexual values. While sexual values are indeed of tremendous importance to the Christian life, the truth is that they cannot be imposed upon people by law. It simply doesn’t work, because when two consenting adults engage in sexual immorality, there is no victim who will run to the cops.

But, as President Obama has repeatedly proven, we actually can help families legislatively. The first step of family values is ensuring that family members stay alive with livable wages and access to healthcare. This week, the President took the second step – ensuring that families stay together. Families that contain illegal immigrants need not worry about being torn away from their family members by the government, at least not for the next three years. I don’t have room to get into how the Bible repeatedly shows that the purpose of God’s laws is the well-being of people (For more on that, check out my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason, which can be found on the “My Books” page of this website), but Obama’s immigration policy meets this biblical standard far more than Republican policies do.

Of course, Republicans have pounced on Obama for using Scripture to support his stance. And I’ll admit Obama hasn’t done this consistently, but I can see how he used it to help convince Christians that mercy on immigrants is biblical. More importantly, the Bible doesn’t just address immigration with one fleeting verse. Here’s another that shows us that immigrants are entitled to a share of the nation’s wealth:

Ezekiel 47:22, “You are to allot it [land] as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.”

Of course, Republican Christians have been quick to argue that these verses do not address “illegal” immigration. They say they have nothing against immigration; it’s just “illegal” immigration that they oppose. Well, there’s a reason the Bible doesn’t address illegal immigration, and that’s because God never made any immigration illegal. It wasn’t even a consideration to declare that those God created couldn’t settle in any region of the world that God created.

While I understand that we cannot open the flood gates and let unlimited numbers of immigrants come here simultaneously because our facilities and infrastructure would be overrun, I cannot condone our immigration policy that invites the rich and banishes the poor. Having done door to door sales in predominantly Indian and Chinese housing developments, I have met one immigrant after another who had no trouble moving to America, because they had a successful business back home, and the U.S. Government welcomed them, even giving them special tax breaks on their businesses, knowing that they would spend their wealth here. But when it comes to impoverished immigrants, who might seek a means of support here rather than spend their wealth here, the U.S. turns them away. This makes perfect economic sense, but it makes no biblical sense at all. Our nation probably has a million times more wealth than ancient Israel did, yet ancient Israel was required to share some of that wealth. American conservatives, on the other hand, abhor sharing with the needy, and therefore take an anti-biblical stance on a very biblical issue.

How Christian-supported gay discrimination laws will set the stage for future Christian persecution

The Republican Party loves to use fear of an apocalyptic doomsday scenario to scare people into supporting all Republican causes and condemning the Democratic Party as evil. One such scare tactic is convincing Christians that voting for Democrats will bring about the persecution of Christianity. Whenever the Republican news media can find a case in which a Christian doesn’t entirely get their way, they then cry to the world that Christians are being persecuted.

To cite specific examples, there have been two cases in which Christians tried to discriminate against homosexuals getting married and were prohibited by law from doing so. One was a photographer who refused to provide services for a gay wedding, and the other was a baker who refused to provide a cake for a gay wedding. Many conservative Christians, some whom I know personally, want anti-discrimination laws reversed so that Christians can refuse to provide services to gay weddings. What these Christians fail to realize however is that they are setting the stage for a mass discrimination against future Christians. Here’s why:

Christianity isn’t exactly growing in this country. Christians may be the majority now, but as time passes, Christians are on pace to make up a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. We are following the path that Europe followed decades ago. Today, European churches are museums or are being converted into nightclubs, as active Christians make up every small percentage of the population. America is likely to look the same way 50-100 years from now, with 75% of the population being atheist or agnostic while Christians represent less than 10% of the population.

If we set the legal precedent now that a Christian business owner can refuse to provide services to a wedding that does not align with the business owner’s religious beliefs, then we can be certain that someday, when Christians are the minority, that non-Christians will refuse to provide cakes, tuxedos, wedding dresses, and even wedding sites to Christians, because Christians violate atheistic and agnostic beliefs by bringing God into the ceremony of marriage. This will especially be the case if today’s Christians make a practice out of discriminating against gays while the Christians have a huge numbers advantage. It will simply be a case of revenge discrimination.

So to the Christians who say, “I’m really worried about Christians being persecuted,” I say, “I agree! So let’s create a legal system in which no one is allowed to discriminate against someone else based on a difference in religious beliefs or practices.”

Jesus and Paul Never Mandated Morality for Non-Christians

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason,” (pictured at right)Rescuing Religion_ebook updated

Buy It at Amazon

As I shared in a blog post several weeks ago, the Republicans use family values rhetoric as their primary tool in securing Christian loyalty. Once they do that, they then bombard Christians with greed rhetoric that replaces the Bible’s  teachings as the basis for their understanding of right and wrong. Many of these Christians believe it’s their calling to speak out against the sexual sins of non-Christians and to vote in favor of mandating morality by legislative means. But I believe the Bible demonstrates otherwise. Here is an excerpt from my book in which I make the case for how conservative Christians are mistaken.

“Christians have pointed to one isolated quote as the call to force Christian behavior upon non-Christians. It’s known as the Great Commission. Here it is:

Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

If the command to “make disciples of all nations” means that we must force entire nations to live as Christians, then we must force baptism upon every member of those nations as well, since Jesus follows this command with the words, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Yet we learn from the Bible that baptism is an individual or family decision, not a national one, so Jesus can only be speaking of individual disciples, not entire nations of them, in the Great Commission.

Jesus uses the words, “all nations” to emphasize the need for His disciples to spread the Gospel beyond Judea and Galilee, something they were reluctant to do. Jesus wants disciples from all nations. He does not require that we force all members of all nations to be disciples.

Beyond this verse, I’ve found no other commands that impose Christian morality on all people. Neither have I been able to find examples of Jesus and His disciples attempting to persuade non-Christian and non-Jewish individuals to obey biblical moral and religious laws without first becoming Christians. I did, however, find a verse indicating that even the Apostle Paul lacked authority to impose Christian rules upon others:

1 Corinthians 5:12, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”

Here, the word “judging” does not imply sinful judgmentalism of a person, but rather discipline or punishment for wrongdoing. Paul’s statement demonstrates that he has no command from God to enforce Christian righteousness upon non-Christians. He only has that power within the church.

But what about on a political basis?

Many of us assume that early Christians lacked the opportunity to change laws, because they were ruled by dictators rather than by democracies, so they had no choice but to abstain from political involvement. This assumption proves true for all but two early Christians: the Apostle Paul and Jesus. Both of them spoke to government officials appointed by the emperor of Rome and, therefore, had the opportunity to influence men in power.

Jesus spoke to Herod the Tetrarch (also known as Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great who had reigned at the time of Jesus’ birth) and to Pilate, both of whom had been appointed by the emperor of Rome. He spoke to them as He was in the process of being tried and crucified—an inconvenient time to discuss politics.

This was not Jesus’ only opportunity to speak to Herod Antipas, however. In Luke 23:8, the Bible says, “Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus, for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some signed performed by Him.” This means that Jesus could have met with him sooner but chose not to. If politics had been important to Jesus, He would have met with Herod, performed signs to convince him of His authority, and asked him to change laws to align with the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul had an even greater opportunity to influence politics. Acts 24-26 details encounters between Paul, who had been arrested despite having committed no crime, and three officials appointed by the emperor of Rome: Felix, Festus, and Herod Agrippa II. The Bible quotes Paul sharing the Gospel with all three of them, but it never quotes him requesting that laws be changed. Festus then sent Paul to the emperor in Rome (Acts 25:12), because Paul had asked to be sent there for trial. Whether Paul ever met the emperor is unknown, but he certainly could have with God’s help. If God’s priority had been changing laws so that Romans would have been forced to turn away from having sex with temple prostitutes, He could have done so by changing the emperor’s heart through the pleadings of the Apostle Paul.

Why didn’t God seek to simultaneously spread Christianity and eliminate evil acts by means of changed laws?

First, maybe it’s because legislating morality doesn’t work. We’ve seen proof of this in modern America. Over the last few centuries, Christians have voted against immoralities and made them illegal. Alcohol was once illegal, various drugs, including marijuana, have been illegal, and homosexual behavior has been illegal at various times and in various places throughout American history. Yet, these immoralities have not only survived, but thrived, despite being illegal.

Why is this?

It’s because these sins are, for all practical purposes, victimless crimes. In other words, at the time of the violation, no disapproving person is present. If two consenting gay people do their gay thing together at home, no one will call the police the way a victim would when having their property stolen or their body injured. Thanks to this reality, most victimless immoral behavior goes unpunished. If enough people engage in such behavior, the behavior becomes a topic of conversation, and it turns out that conversation, not legislation, dictates the direction in which morality will go. Cigarette smoking has decreased in America, not because it’s been banned, but because conversations have turned people against it. On the flip side of that, marijuana was illegal in all 50 states for decades, yet support for its legalization grew through conversation to the point where the people of Colorado and Washington legalized it. Yes, we can legislate morality. But the reality is that doing so doesn’t work. Our only hope is to get more people to fall in love with God and His will. Only when hearts are transformed will morality improve.

The second possible reason that God didn’t seek to eliminate evil acts by means of changed laws might have been that doing so would have inhibited the spread of Christianity. Had Romans learned that Christians, who represented less than 1% of the population, were responsible for prohibiting the sins they enjoyed, they likely would have hated Christianity and never given it a chance. The growth of this young religion relied on its voluntary nature. Had its moral laws been forced upon the Romans, the faith might have died in its infancy. How would we feel today if we were forced to obey rules of another religion?

Imagine if America were to come under fundamentalist Muslim control, so that we would all be forced to obey fundamentalist Muslim laws: women could show nothing more than their eyeballs in public and would be denied education, while men would have to grow beards and forsake the luxuries they sometimes enjoy. How would we respond in our hearts? Would we admit that the Muslims taught us a lesson and fall in love with their faith? Or would we despise their faith out of resentment over being forced to obey their laws despite our lack of belief in their religion? Certainly, we would do the latter and cling even more tightly to our longstanding beliefs.

That’s exactly how non-Christians respond to Christian political power today. They hate Christians for imposing biblical rules upon them and cling more tightly to their lifestyles as a result. Meanwhile, the public increases its compassion for those whom Christians persecute, because the public sees them as martyrs. In the past, the public held a positive view of Christianity, because Christians were known for reaching out to the needy with the love of Christ. Today, thanks to Christian political movements that seek to morally restrict non-Christians and to support the interests of the wealthy over the needy, society sees Christians as oppressors.

Does this mean that it’s a sin for a Christian to vote, run for office, or discuss politics?

Of course, it doesn’t. It means that our calling to lead others to choose Christ is far more important than the man-made calling to force non-Christians to obey biblical rules. If our political involvement drives more people away from Christianity than it attracts to it, we defy God’s will. God’s will is that people choose Christianity and, only after doing so, obey biblical rules out of their love for God and others.

When we vote, run for office, and persuade others to support our political causes, we must take care how we do it. Christians should never use the “because God says so” argument to persuade non-Christians politically, because God never instructed Christians to force biblical practices upon non-Christians. He only “says so” for Christians, not for non-Christians. Also, by arguing, “because God says so,” we alienate non-Christians by trying to force the laws of our God upon them.

But if we make logical, non-religious arguments in support of our causes, our political opponents will have no reason to resent our faith. For example, we may oppose abortion by making the non-religious argument that a person’s right to live is a greater right than a person’s right to do whatever she wants with her body, because a person must be alive in order to enjoy all other rights. But if we turn abortion into a religious issue by saying, “because God says so” (even though the Bible never specifically prohibits abortion), legalized abortion advocates will have reason to resent Christianity, since its rules are being forced upon them despite their lack of belief in it.

While God has never called us to stop the moral sins of non-Christians, He has called us to avoid sin. So we should never vote for politicians who we know will seek to oppress the poor, the working class, the elderly, children, foreigners, etc. If we do, we share responsibility for the suffering they inflict. Yet many of us ignore these issues of oppression and focus upon issues that have little effect on the well-being of the others.

Since God intended for the Law to protect us from the suffering caused by each other’s sins, we should approach politics with the same intent. When Christians seek to rescue sin’s victims, the victims view Christians as liberators rather than as persecutors. These victims are then likely to become Christians, while the oppressors will likely resent us. The good news is that the oppressed always outnumber the oppressors, especially in a corporate system where the wealth belongs to such a small percentage of the population, so we lead more people to Christ than away from Him by aiding the oppressed. Unfortunately, the American decline of Christianity in recent decades is due, in part, to Christians siding with the oppressors.”

The Republican Plan to Destroy Democracy

The following is an EXCERPT from my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason (pictured at right).Rescuing Religion_ebook updated

As Election Day nears, I thought I would share the following excerpt on how dangerous and ungodly it is for the Republican Party to wage an all-out assault on democracy.

“Republicans like to say that Democrats are going to make us like Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. But that’s unlikely, because those nations were not thoroughly democratic, nor did they have constitutions like ours. The Republican Party’s atrocities of the Gilded Age, on the other hand, happened right here in our American democracy under the guidance of our Constitution. If they happened before, they can happen again, especially if Republicans dismantle democracy.

Democracy causes God’s will “to be done on earth as it is in heaven,” because the intent of God’s biblical Law matches the intent of most voters. Most people in America, as well as the rest of the world, desire laws and policies that benefit as many people as possible, because they want nearly everyone to live a dignified life fitting for those made in the image of God. They choose “what works” over “what’s right,” because “what works” for the most people is “what’s right.” Of all of the political systems made by humans, democracy achieves this end more than any other. It does so, because it gives more power to the working class majority than it does to the wealthy few. Every other system, from the monarchy to the republic, gives all power to the already rich and powerful.

This is not to say democracy is perfect and cannot be corrupted. For example, in recent years, the Republican Party has tried to destroy democracy. The five Republican justices on the Supreme Court out-voted the four Democratic justices in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case of 2010, which ruled that corporations are people and can secretly fund unlimited amounts of money to Super PACs that air political advertisements for candidates. Of course, corporations aren’t just owned by Americans. Major shareholders from Russia, to China, to England, to Saudi Arabia own corporations, too. For example, the two biggest owner of News Corp. (which owns Fox News) are Rupert Murdoch from Australia and Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal from Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the Citizens United ruling, these wealthy foreign billionaires can now give unlimited funds to American political campaigns through their corporations and have more say in American politics than the average American citizen does. As capitalism grows worldwide, its power will also grow. That means the power of wealthy individuals worldwide will grow, too. Therefore, as time passes, wealthy global powers will determine which American candidates receive the bulk of the political campaign funding that enables them to greatly out-spend their opponents and win elections. In other words, Republican-appointed justices have voted for democracy to be conquered by foreign aristocrats who certainly do not have America’s best interest in mind. Rather, they will likely use America, especially its military, to serve their interests when they see resources in the world that they can only acquire by force (as was the case in the Iraq War, when America invaded the country and then turned its oil fields over to oil companies worldwide). Today, the Republicans no longer favor just the American wealthy, they favor the interests of the wealthy worldwide at the expense of the American working class.

The Republican destruction of democracy doesn’t end there. Some states under Republican leadership, such as my home state of Pennsylvania, redrew congressional districts in shapes than give the Republicans a slight edge in most districts. In early 2013, some members of the Republican Party proposed that states like Pennsylvania abolish the majority vote during presidential and gubernatorial elections and replace it with a district majority. In other words, the majority of the state’s voters may vote for a Democrat, but the state will still go to the Republican, because the state has more Republican districts than Democratic ones. And of course, many Republican state legislatures have required that voters present a photo ID to vote, making it much more difficult for the elderly, the poor, and the disabled, who don’t have drivers’ licenses, to have a voice in our society. Even the Gilded Age Republicans didn’t stoop this low. I know many Christians think that a party that supports abortion rights must be evil. But it’s hard for me to believe that a party that tries to destroy democracy is any better. A lot of Republicans say that taking away guns is the first step toward tyranny. Yet, one of Hitler’s first steps in his tyrannical reign was to dismantle the democracy that elected him. Therefore, dismantling democracy is the first step toward tyranny.

Even if we succeed in fighting voter suppression, Democracy will fail if we let Republican politicians and pundits convince us to vote for their so-called principles over the well-being of the common good. If this happens, I predict that these principles will destroy America. Pure laissez-faire capitalism will drive the working class deeper and deeper into poverty. Rock bottom tax rates will underfund our nation to the point that it can no longer pay its bills and will have to hyper-inflate its currency. Personal responsibility extremism will convince the wealthy few that all low-income earners deserve to suffer, much like the higher castes of Hinduism believed that the lower castes deserved to suffer because they were evil in their previous lives. Libertarianism will give the powerful minority more freedom to hurt the powerless majority, while our small government will be too weak to protect us. And extreme national pride will keep us from ever looking beyond our navels for solutions, while the rest of the civilized world leaves us in their wake. In the end, we will be no better than Sodom, of which Ezekiel 16:49 says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and the needy.” God destroyed Sodom. We might want to heed this warning.

Worst of all, Christian submission to Republican false moralities will destroy Christianity, because these false moralities cannot coexist in the same mind as biblical principles promoting the common good. Once Republican Party values replace Christian values, the church will be every bit the enemy of God that it was in the late Middle Ages, when church leaders abolished biblical teaching and oppressed the innocent. Every Christian must choose between the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of the Republican Party, just like every Christian has to choose between serving God and serving money (Matthew 6:24). The Republican Party serves money. Therefore, the choice for Christians should be clear.”

Why Anti-Abortion Christians should vote for Democrats

The following is an EXCERPT from my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason (pictured at right).Rescuing Religion_ebook updated

Buy It At Amazon

This excerpt is from the introductory chapter of the book in which I explain how the progressive Democratic movement was originally a Christian movement led by William Jennings Bryan, and that most Christians used to be Democrats who stood up for the poor and protected them from the greed of the corporate wealthy. But then the Republicans used racial issues and family values to recruit Christians to their side, and it worked amazingly well, unfortunately. Now many Christians see the rhetoric of greed as being one and the same as Christianity, and therefore biblical Christianity is being destroyed along with life for the American working class.

“Many southern Christians turned Republican out of opposition to the civil rights movement. This was the first major step in the conversion of Christians to the Republican Party.

The second and most significant conversion step has been the issue of abortion. For Christians who’ve grown up in the post-civil rights era, racial issues have since had a diminishing influence on their choice of political party as the decades pass. But the Supreme Court’s Row v. Wade decision of 1973, which denied all states the right to outlaw abortion, reigns supreme to this day as the most important issue for politically active Christians. Indeed, it was my number one concern during my years as a Republican and even as an independent voter. In the 1992 presidential contest between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, I believed that Clinton would be the best president for the living, largely due to the failings of Reaganomics, but I felt that Bush was by far the best president for the unborn. To me, killing was the worst of all sins, and abortion was killing, so I simply could not vote for a candidate who wanted to keep it legal. I walked away from the polls with my head hung low, knowing I had just voted for the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the working class. I then gave up politics for the rest of the 90s, because I felt that voting for either party left blood on my hands.

In 2006, I regained my enthusiasm for politics, but this time favoring the Democrats. There are two factors that, in recent years, have allowed me to vote for Democrats, even those who favor abortion. The first is the Republican failure to overturn Roe v. Wade. When I voted for George H.W. Bush in 1992, I did so because I had been told throughout the 80s that if we continued to elect Republican presidents, they would stock the Supreme Court with conservative justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade once they had a majority in the court. What I didn’t realize was that, as of the 1992 election, 8 of 9 of the sitting Supreme Court justices had been appointed by Republican presidents – two by Bush (Souter and Thomas), three by Reagan (O’Connor, Kennedy, and Scalia), one by Ford (Stevens), and two by Nixon (Blackmon and Rehnquist). One could argue that Republicans had not embraced an anti-abortion stance in the days of Nixon and Ford, so those justices might have been too liberal. But at least one of them received Reagan’s stamp of approval, as he promoted Rehnquist to Chief Justice in 1986. So between Rehnquist and the 5 justices appointed by Reagan and Bush, the court had six Republican-appointed justices from the post Roe v. Wade era. Some have argued that a Democrat-controlled Senate prevented Reagan and Bush from appointing anti-abortion justices, but this is proven untrue in the case of anti-abortion justice Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 by Bush and a Democrat-controlled Senate. The fact is that, prior to President Obama’s appointment of liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, at least seven of the nine justices on the court from 1991-2009 were Republican-appointed. Yet, Roe v. Wade was not overturned. The Republican-dominated Supreme Court didn’t even try. We were lied to. My anti-abortion vote for George H.W. Bush went to waste.

Apparently, abortion opposition has been nothing more than a vote-getter for the Republicans. They use their anti-abortion stance to get the Christian vote, but once they’re in office, they focus on empowering corporate predators to prey upon the powerless. (I use the term corporate predator, not to imply that all corporate people are predators, but to specify a type of predator, i.e. not natural or sexual.) This is what Ronald Reagan did. Few people today know that Reagan was one of the first governors in the country to sign legalized abortion into law when he did so for the state of California in 1967. It resulted in 500,000 – 2 million abortions by time of Roe v. Wade in 1973 (estimates vary on this number). He changed his abortion stance later, while running for president, but once elected, he did little to stop abortions, but did much to serve the interests of the wealthy. I often wonder if the Republicans have ever had any intention of banning abortion. I wonder if they might fear the abolition of abortion, because doing so would likely add up to 10 million unaborted children to welfare payrolls over the course of a decade, and we know that anti-tax Republicans don’t want to pay for that. In fact, they threw fits in 2014 when 50,000 Central American child refugees came to the U.S., because supporting them was too much of a financial burden to bear. Yet that burden pales in comparison to that of supporting millions of unaborted, impoverished children. Furthermore, most of those impoverished children would grow up to vote for Democrats – another reason for the Republicans to fear their existence.

In the 2012 election, some Republican presidential candidates came out in favor of an anti-abortion “personhood” amendment to the U.S. Constitution, since it’s now obvious that conservative Supreme Court justices will never overturn Roe v. Wade (the Court has been eager to declare that corporations are people, but not so eager to declare that unborn children are people – this might tell us something about Republican priorities). Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, offered strong support for the amendment, thus giving anti-abortion Christians a reason to vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket. What Ryan and other Republicans failed to tell us is that the president of the United States has no vote whatsoever on the passage of a constitutional amendment. The U.S. Congress can propose an amendment with a two-thirds majority, but they cannot ratify it. Only the states can both propose (with a two-thirds vote) and ratify (with a three-quarters vote) a constitutional amendment. So it makes sense to vote for anti-abortion candidates at the state level, but it makes little sense to do so at the federal level, and it makes no sense to do so at the presidential level. Electing a president based on his or her abortion view is a total waste of a vote.

The second factor that has enabled me to vote for Democrats who favor legalized abortion is Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, which says, “Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.” This is not to say, “If you love your children, abort them.” But it does tell us that a life of suffering in this world is worse than never having been born. This passage contradicts the popular idea that death is the worst thing there is. It tells us that a life of suffering is the worst thing there is. Politically, it contradicts the popular Christian notion that abortion is the most important political issue, while greed and oppression of the poor are minor issues that must always take a back seat to abortion. This passage, along with many other passages that I will share with you in upcoming chapters, teaches us that oppression of the poor is the most important of all political and social issues. In fact, by my count, the Bible contains 96 passages that address greed and oppression of the poor, compared to only 64 passages that address adultery, fornication, and homosexuality combined. That’s how big of an issue this is!

Oppression isn’t merely poverty, as many people assume. Oppression is hardship imposed by the powerful upon the powerless, especially hardship in the workplace. In the Small Government chapter, I will detail the hardships of the working class throughout American history and how only the strong arm of the law has spared them (and many of us) from oppression. It’s right for leaders to protect the powerless from the powerful, as the Democrats have since the 1890s, and it’s wrong for leaders to empower the wealthy to prey upon the powerless, as the Republicans have since the 1870s (except, perhaps, during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, etc., when they embraced the New Deal).

In light of Bible quotes like Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, I’ve found it difficult to understand how many politically-conservative Christians will, through government, only protect the life of the fetus from murder, but not from other causes of death and suffering. They will not protect it from harm due to malnutrition of the mother during pregnancy. They will not protect the child from any suffering outside the womb except for assault and murder. Even in the case of pregnancies caused by rape, many conservatives believe abortion should be illegal. Yet when the child grows up in poverty, because its father is in prison for rape, and its mother is addicted to drugs, because she struggles to deal with having to raise the child caused by the rape she suffered, many conservative Christians believe it’s wrong for the very government that mandated the child’s birth to ensure that child’s survival through the supply of food, shelter and clothing, because that would be evil socialism. So it’s not the life or well-being of the child that’s important to Republicans, but only the technicality of death by abortion. As we’ll see in the next chapter, God’s primary concern is the well-being of those created in His image, not narrow-minded adherence to technicalities and man-made principles.”

Yes, the Democrats used to be the Christian Party!

The following is an EXCERPT from my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason (pictured at right).Rescuing Religion_ebook updated

Buy it at Amazon

“I once heard it said that when Satan tries to influence us, he often presents us with pairs of opposite evils, so we despise one so badly that we cling to the other (I think C.S. Lewis said this, but I can’t find proof of that). I can’t think of a better quote to describe the current state of the politically-minded conservative Christian. Evangelical Christians, in particular, see legalized abortion as the ultimate political sin and therefore judge the Democrats to be evil for supporting it. They then conclude that these bad people must support Satan’s position on all issues. So Christians, wary of the Democrats, let their guard down and absorb all teachings of the Republicans without questioning them, because they assume that the enemies of the evil Democrats can only speak the truth. This is a fatal flaw. The Bible teaches us that there is good and evil in every person (“There is no one who is righteous; not even one” – Romans 3:10) and, therefore, in everyone organization consisting of people. Outside of Jesus, no human being has ever had all good ideas or all bad ideas. We long for purity, but it’s nowhere to be found in this world. When we judge a person or organization to be evil, we violate the Bible’s numerous verses prohibiting judgmentalism. When we judge a person or organization to be pure, we elevate it to a godlike status, and we break the 1st Commandment of having no other god’s before God himself. We are then easily misled to believe in ungodly things.

Believe it or not, before the 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, which made it unconstitutional for any state to ban abortion, and before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, most Bible-believing Christians were Democrats. The southern states that make up most of the Bible Belt had been Democratic since the mid-1800s. Back then, the Democrats were the party of the South and supported the interests of the titans of agriculture. This, of course, meant they supported the right to own slaves. Once the Civil War began, the Democrats lost power, placing only one of their own, Grover Cleveland, in the White House between 1860 and 1912, and he was a Bourbon Democrat who supported the rich but favored the interests of agriculture over those of manufacturing. The Republicans, on the other hand, were the party of the North and supported the interests of the titans of manufacturing. Neither party supported the interests of the poor and working classes.

In the 1890s, that changed. The Democrats launched a comeback under the leadership of three-time presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan. He was a Christian preacher and possibly the most charismatic public speaker of his time. Many Christians today know him for representing the cause of creationism in the Scopes Trial of 1925 at the very end of his life (for more on this, read my book, Where the Bible Contradicts Creationists – How a literal reading of every creation verse refutes young earth geology, redefines the Adam & Eve story, and supports the science of evolution and an old universe). But Bryan spent most of his adult life spear-heading the Democratic Party’s conversion from bourbonism to populism, a movement through which it would come to represent the powerless majority rather than the powerful, wealthy minority.

Bryan’s faith in Christ and adherence to the Bible inspired his concern for the oppressed. This emboldened him to oppose Social Darwinism, a theory embraced by the wealthy and powerful. Merriam-Webster defines Social Darwinism as “a sociological theory that socio-cultural advance is the product of intergroup conflict and competition, and the socially elite classes (as those possessing wealth and power) possess biological superiority in the struggle for existence.” In other words, according to Social Darwinism, the wealthy are biologically superior to the poor, so letting the powerful dominate the powerless, even to the extent that the poor and their children die, will propel the evolutionary advancement of the human race. Bryan’s opposition to this ideology became known as the Social Gospel. This movement primarily focused on abolishing child labor, reducing work hours, ensuring a livable wage, and protecting workers through government regulation of factories. As we’ll see in later chapters, these goals are consistent with the will of God as expressed throughout the Bible.

Bryan was never elected president, but the Democrats didn’t abandon his cause. They hung in there and finally won the presidency and Congress in the election of 1912. Bills to protect workers became laws but were shot down by a conservative Supreme Court. Finally, in 1932, during the Great Depression, the Democrats took control of Congress and the presidency again. This time, by the late 1930s, the Supreme Court came around to their way of thinking, enabling the principles of the Social Gospel (now known as the New Deal) to become law and giving the working class and their children dignified lives fitting for beings created in the image of God. The New Deal was popular in both the North and the South, so much so that, by the 1950s, most Republicans had to embrace it if they wanted to get elected. From the 50s through the 70s, Republicans and Democrats frequently crossed party lines when voting on bills, because the differences between them had been diminished by the nation’s overwhelming support for the New Deal.

Unfortunately, just as the parties united over the rights of workers, they divided over the rights of African-Americans. While it was the Republicans who freed African-Americans from slavery in the mid-1800s, it was the Democrats who campaigned for their civil rights in the mid-1900s. African-Americans largely abandoned the Republican Party out of disdain for Republican President Herbert Hoover in the election of 1932. President Hoover had presided over aid for, and the clean-up of, the Mississippi Flood of 1927 (before he was president), and African-Americans were abused in the process, often forced into labor, even at gun-point, and deprived of their share of the aid. Hoover then promised greater influence for African-Americans in his first term as president but failed to deliver. Naturally, as African-Americans supported the Democrats, the Democrats supported them. In the 1950s and 60s, the Democrats succeeded in outlawing racial discrimination against African-American employees, customers, students, and tenants. Even more controversial was their passage of affirmative action programs that implemented racial quotas in the workplace and in colleges. The public also began to view welfare programs, such as food stamps, as taking from whites to give to blacks who choose not to work (I’ll address this further in the Personal Responsibility chapter). Many southern Christians turned Republican out of opposition to the civil rights movement. This was the first major step in the conversion of Christians to the Republican Party.

The second and most significant conversion step has been the issue of abortion. For Christians who’ve grown up in the post-civil rights era, racial issues have since had a diminishing influence on their choice of political party as the decades pass. But the Supreme Court’s Row v. Wade decision of 1973, which denied all states the right to outlaw abortion, reigns supreme to this day as the most important issue for politically active Christians.”

This is where we’ll leave off for now. Next week, I’ll address the abortion issue and demonstrate why it just might make sense for even those who are anti-abortion Christians to vote against the Republican Party.

If you can’t wait till next week, you can Buy “Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason” at Amazon.com

Rescuing Religion_ebook updated

The Dangers of Congressional Term Limits

In their efforts to redirect our focus away from the corporate tyranny that oppresses workers, rips off consumers, destroys our environment, and extracts our tax dollars for the sake of the wealthy, Republicans have drilled into the minds of their followers that congressional term limits are the answer to a great many of our problems. As usual, the Republicans want us to believe that our democratic government, the only voice of “we the people,” is what we need to fear, and they continually invent new ways to undermine our power.

As first listen, congressional term limits sound like a good thing. Why not get somebody new in their once in a while, even if the voters are happy with the person who they’ve elected?

While I think it is nice to give someone else a chance for a change, I find that the dangers that such term limits impose far outweigh the benefits of having someone new in office.

The first danger is that congressmen who know they must leave office will look to lobbying positions for the sake of their future. In the year of the Watergate scandal, only 3% of former congressmen worked as lobbyists after they left office. Today that number is over 50%. If we impose term limits on all congressmen, that number will approach 100%. Nearly all congressmen will have to look out for their future careers, and many will make doing so a priority over doing what’s right for the country. The precedent has already been set in which congressmen who give the corporations what they and their lobbyists want are rewarded with lobbying jobs of their own that pay 10-20 times more than they ever earned in Congress. Getting elected to Congress will be nothing more than a stepping stone to getting a high-paying job in the private sector.

The second danger is that congressmen will be less accountable than ever to the people. If senators are limited to two 6-year terms, that means that all congressmen in their second terms will be 100% unaccountable to voters, because they will never again have to worry about getting re-elected. One might argue that U.S. presidents already experience this, and they rarely change their behavior during their 2nd term, but let’s not forget that Presidents are often concerned about their legacy, since the presidency holds such a prominent place in the history books. Senators and representatives will be far less worried about their legacy and far more worried about getting themselves cushy, high paying jobs after their terms are up. With concerns for voters out of the way, they’ll only have one group to please – the lobbyists.

When Republicans have an idea that sounds good, take a closer look. Keep in mind that Republicans believe in a Republic – a system of checks and balances that is better than a monarchy, but is still run by the nation’s wealthy and powerful. Democrats, on the other hand, believe in Democracy – a system in which all people in a society have an equal say in government. The Republican Party, at its very core, exists for the purpose of undermining and weakening democracy, so that the wealthy and powerful minority may make the rules. Congressional term limits are just one of many ways in which the Republicans can fulfill their purpose.

Can We Legislate Morality?

We Christians, whether politically-liberal, conservative, or moderate, all share a common pain: We bristle at the thought of our nation’s moral decline. It concerns us to see high divorce rates, child custody and support battles, children lacking both parents, rampant promiscuity – among both gay and straight people, entertainers competing to see who can sell the most records by pushing the envelope of lewdness the farthest, alcohol binging, drug abuse, and, for those who like to dance, the art of dancing being reduced to an exhibition of simulated sex.

As those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, we Christians are driven to take action. We know that all Americans, especially children, would be so much better off in a nation with minimal moral sin. God has called us to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven, so it’s natural for us to desire heaven on earth. It’s a longing the Holy Spirit has placed in us. All of this begs the question, “How do we reduce immorality?”

The instinctive reaction for most of us is to take political action. As one pastor in a former church of mine put it, “Who says you can’t legislate morality? That’s what legislation is for.” This sounds fair. We live in a democracy, and we are entitled to vote according to our beliefs. There’s nothing wrong with voting for what’s right.

In fact, over the last couple centuries, Christians have voted against some of these immoralities, and they were indeed illegal. Alcohol was once illegal, various drugs, including marijuana, have been illegal, and homosexual behavior has been illegal at various times and in various places throughout American history. Yet, these immoralities have not only survived, but thrived, despite being illegal.

Why is this?

The answer is simple: These sins are, for all practical purposes, victimless crime. In other words, at the time of the violation, no disapproving person is present. If two consenting gay people do their gay thing together at home, no one will call the police they way a victim would when having their property stolen or their body injured.

Thanks to this reality, most victimless immoral behavior goes unpunished. If enough people engage in such behavior, the behavior becomes a topic of conversation, and it turns out that conversation, not legislation, dictates the direction in which morality will go. Cigarette smoking has decreased in America, not because it’s been banned, but because conversations have turned people against it. On the flip side of that, marijuana was illegal in all 50 states for decades, yet support for its legalization grew through conversation to the point where the people of Colorado and Washington legalized it.

Yes, we can legislate morality. But the reality is that doing so doesn’t work. Our only hope is to get more people to fall in love with God and His will. Only when hearts are transformed will morality improve.

How Can a Good, Loving Person Love Guns?

If you’re a life-long Democrat, or liberal-leaning independent, you just might have a difficult time understanding how gun-loving people can be good people. We’re appalled at the extremism of the NRA, who we thought would finally lighten up after the Sandy Hook shooting, but who, instead, refused to budge on something as minor as background checks, and their solution to the tragedy was to suggest arming school security guards and even teachers, thus selling even more guns to protect us from the people with guns. Meanwhile, we laugh (in a sad way) at militia radicals who pointed their semi-automatics at government officials as Fox News cheered them on and called them patriots, that is, until their hero, Cliven Bundy, claimed that “the negro” would be happier picking cotton; then they backed away. Liberals weren’t the slightest bit surprised at Bundy’s remarks. That’s exactly what they expected from anti-government gun-nuts.

So are all gun enthusiasts bad people?

I would say, “No.”

I grew up in a family that loved hunting and guns. I lived in a semi-rural, Pennsylvania Dutch area where, prior to the advent of video games (around 1980), there weren’t a lot of hobbies for rural kids to choose from. For my grandparents, there were no school sports; they only went to school through 8th grade. For my dad, a baby-boomer, he graduated high-school, but sports were not a big thing, plus not everyone is an athlete. Hunting was the only escape for most rural people, and deer hunting season, in late November, was like a national holiday, especially since we would go away to our extended family’s hunting cabin in central PA. It was, often, the biggest vacation of the year.

You might wonder, “How could a person love killing animals?”

The truth is: It wasn’t about that! When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to turn 12 years-old, so I could go hunting. All year long, when my dad met with friends and relatives, they enthusiastically shared numerous hunting stories, and that made me dream of someday having impressive hunting stories of my own to tell. It was a big community of people who enthusiastically shared a common interest, and I wanted to be a part of that community. Also, it was a competition. When the big day came, I wanted to succeed and be a great hunter, not fail and come home empty-handed.

Unfortunately, for me, I usually came home empty-handed and lost interest in hunting by the age of twenty. But for others in my family, they experienced great, thrilling successes, and loved hunting all the more for it. I even had an uncle who set up his own shotgun shell reloading system in his basement. It was his absolute favorite hobby. When he wasn’t working, his focus was on his true passion – guns and hunting.

Imagine having a hobby that you love and have devoted your life to, only to hear that there’s a political movement intending to take it away from you. Most Americans never have to worry that future laws will prohibit playing sports, playing video games, or enjoying music. But hunters do have that worry. When I was a young hunter, I was well aware of the gun-banning anti-hunting movement, as I read about protests at gun club events, like turkey shoots. And I was afraid they would take away my hobby. For my uncle, that fear never subsided, and today, that fear has turned to panic.

Thanks to the NRA and the Republican Party, hunters are more afraid than ever that guns will be outlawed and taken away. Of course, there has been no state or federal legislation that I know of attempting to accomplish such a thing. Nonetheless, the proclamation that the Democrats will ban guns is widespread. The Republicans make such a claim so they can win elections, and the NRA makes such a claim so the gun industry can sell more guns. This drives some gun owners to act out of fear of losing their way of life and become radicalized. Some of these extremists really are hateful, angry people, and from a Christian perspective, they have no right to become so hateful over the fear of losing a possession, since Jesus said that we cannot love both God and possessions. However, many gun-owners support background checks and limits on assault weapon capabilities, but the media never highlights them, because the media loves to show us extremists. These hunters are responsible hobbyists who understand that you have to kill ’em to eat ’em, and that hunting is more natural than getting your meat from a corporation that never lets its animals live free and wild, as hunted animals do until the moment of their demise.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the world you grow up in is the one you accept and often embrace. If the vast majority of your friends and relatives live a certain lifestyle, there’s a good chance you’ll embrace that lifestyle, too. And most of us never stop to think why we embrace it, especially when we’re young. We join the crowd, because hobbies are more fun when shared with those we love. And even if we obsess over a given hobby, we do it in part because, subconsciously, that hobby is somehow connected to positive social experiences.

Americans grow up with many different cultures, hobbies, and experiences, and it’s difficult for liberals and conservatives alike to understand those whose experiences differ from their own. I see liberals bash rural, gun-owners just as much as I see conservatives bash inner-city welfare recipients. Both groups fail to take the time and make the effort to understand that if we were in their shoes, we’d behave just like they do.

Are Christians playing the victim with anti-gay laws?

As the future of Christianity goes, there’s little I fear more than how this homosexuality/gay-marriage debate might ruin Christianity.

No, I’m not afraid that re-defining the word, “marriage,” will somehow keep us Christians from practicing our religion. I’m afraid the behavior of Christians who seek political action against homosexuals will appear to the eyes of the bystanders (those who are neither gay nor devout Christian) as evil and repulsive. As Christianity’s reputation for mercilessness and bigotry grows, Christianity will shrink – at a rapid rate.

The recent trend of several Republican state legislatures proposing and even passing so-called “religious freedom” laws makes the gay marriage debate seem quaint. These laws aren’t about the definition of a word; they’re about letting business owners discriminate against anyone who doesn’t follow their religious beliefs, yet it’s all done in the name of religious freedom!

Libertarian Republicans have said that business owners have a right to serve who they want; they have no responsibility for the well-being of others. This is an anti-biblical argument. God never gave such rights to the property owners of ancient Israel. For example, Deuteronomy 23:24 says, “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in a container.” The property owner was forced to allow trespassers on his land who could eat his grapes for free. He had no right to judge and deny others. In God’s eyes, owning property is a responsibility, not a right to be selfish.

“Religious freedom” to discriminate is not God given. Nor is religious freedom absolute in the Constitution. If it was, laws against polygamy would be un-constitutional, since several religions believe in polygamy. If the concept of religious freedom were taken to the extreme, we would have chaos, as people could excuse just about any behavior as an exercise of religious belief.

The truth is that Republican Christians are using “religious freedom” to play the victim (something they’ve accused others of doing for decades). They’ve cited rare cases in which a baker or photographer has been forced by state law to provide services for a gay wedding. And they act like such Christians suffer greatly. The truth is that it’s no harder to bake a cake for a gay wedding than it is for a straight wedding. It’s no harder to press the button on your camera for a gay wedding than it is for a straight wedding. The only suffering on the part of the Christian bakers and photographers is that they have to witness something they disapprove of. If that makes them victims, then the rest of us are victims for having to witness Republican Christians misrepresenting our religion as one full of whiny, hateful people.

Republican Christians may argue that forcing Christians to serve gays is forcing them to do something that’s against their religious beliefs.

What exactly is it that’s against their beliefs? Not being allowed to pass judgment on others? Not being allowed to pull the speck out of their neighbor’s eye when there’s a log in their own eye?

To judge someone as being more sinful than yourself and then to treat them differently than others as a result of that judgment is the very opposite of the will of God. Christians aren’t suffering here, and our freedom to practice our faith has yet to be denied even where gay marriage is legal and gays are protected from discrimination.

We Christians are not the victims. Not yet. Someday, maybe, when the vast majority of the population turns against us for trying to force non-Christians to follow Christian beliefs (something Jesus and His disciples never attempted), then we will be persecuted.