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.

Will the Republican Party drop anti-abortion stance?

In a move that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest bit, Nevada Republicans have removed abortion opposition from their 2014 party platform. The reason? According to state party chair, Michael McDonald, “The issue is how we can back out of people’s personal lives….This is where the party is going.”

In recent years, especially since the advent of the Tea Party, the primary slogan of Republicans has been, “The government can’t tell me what to do!” They’ve claimed that the democratic representation of “we the people” that we call government is really a totalitarian intruder bent on robbing us of life, liberty and happiness. Of course, those who control the Republican Party, the corporate wealthy, have drilled such anti-authority rhetoric into our heads in an effort to convince us to choose not to protect ourselves (as employees, consumers, and the environment) from the harmful effects of corporate greed by means of our democratic government. They’ve also opposed, with fervor, regulation of the banking industry, the health insurance industry, and any other industry which seeks profits at the expense of Americans. And, of course, they have opposed income taxation, since it’s the wealthy who have the most income. They promote this income tax opposition in the name of “the government can’t tell me what to do with my money!”

So it’s only a matter of time, then, that the millions of Americans who, for years, have fervently embraced anti-government rhetoric will arrive at the logical conclusion that the government can’t tell them what to do with regard to the children in their wombs. This time has already come in Nevada.

Since the emergence of the Religious Right, which brought Republicans back to power in the 1980s, the Republican Party has used anti-abortion politics to win the Christian vote and thus win elections. However, in recent decades, the percentage of Christians in America has declined. This decline has been rapid and shows no signs of slowing. A decade or two from now, America will contain far more members of the rebellious “government can’t tell me what to do” religion than it will devout members of the Christian religion.

My prediction: The Republicans will abandon Christians and pursue the growing, libertarian anti-government vote once the latter group grows larger than the former.

I believe the anti-abortion vote has never been anything more than a vote-getter for the Republicans. Their first anti-abortion president, Ronald Reagan, had actually sign legalized abortion into law as governor of the state of California in 1967. He was one of the first governors to do so. The law resulted in 1-2 million abortions. Only later, when politically necessary, did Reagan change his stance and oppose abortion. He used it to get votes, but it wasn’t his priority.

For over 30 years, the Republicans have held the majority on the Supreme Court (in the early 1990s, 8 of the 9 justices were Republican-appointed), and yet they have never even attempted to rule that the unborn are people, but they have been eager to rule that corporations are people. This reveals their true priorities. Since the 1870s, the Republicans have been the party of the rich, for the rich, and against the American working class. Exploiting America for the rich’s sake is their sole purpose for being. Everything else, from guns to family values, is just a vote getter.

By creating and promoting a religion of rebelliousness, the Republican Party has opposed the will of God. The truth is that the government does have the right to tell us what to do. There’s a special name for that – it’s called “civilization.” Just as God’s laws for ancient Israel were designed to protect people from the harm of others and ensure their well-being, so should our laws do the same. Republican anti-government rhetoric promotes the opposite of what the Bible teaches. In Romans 13:1, the Bible says, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.” And in verses 6 and 7 of the same chapter it says, “For because of this you pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God…Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” From cover to cover, the Bible condemns hatred of authority, which is rooted in selfishness and lack of consideration for others. The Republican Party, on the other hand, promotes hatred of authority. It’s becoming the selfish party. “This is where the party is going.”

 

 

 

Christians and the Minimum Wage

Our current debate over whether or not to raise the minimum wage has focused on economic arguments more than biblical ones, and that’s fine. A good economy benefits everyone. So before we seek out biblical guidance on the issues, let me address a couple very simple realities about the nature of the minimum wage.

First, the U.S. has had 23 minimum wage increases since 1938. There is no pattern linking them to economic busts or booms. Yes, minimum wage opponents are correct in saying that some companies will be unable to afford the increase and some jobs will be lost as a result. In fact, some businesses will go under as well. However, the vast majority of minimum wage employees will keep their jobs and see a significant increase in their buying power, causing them to buy more goods and services within the economy. When businesses experience an increase in customers buying their products and services, they must hire more employees to service the additional customers, and that creates jobs. Remember, it’s customer demand that creates jobs, not the rich. The rich will not hire more people to make more products when the products already on the shelves aren’t selling. That would be throwing their money away.

Second, contrary to popular belief, minimum wage increases add very little to the prices of the products we purchase. Let’s use cashiers, many of whom are paid minimum wage, as an example. Imagine a grocery store cashier receiving a minimum wage increase of $2 per hour. Now let’s ask ourselves, “How many products does that cashier ring up in an hour?” Probably a few hundred. So if we low-ball it, and assume that the cashier rings up 200 items per hour and divide that into the additional $2 per hour the cashier receives, we find that $2 divided by 200 items equals one cent per item. In other words, a $4 gallon of milk would only go up to $4.01 to cover the cost of the $2 hourly increase in pay. The reality is that in most industries, the cost of labor makes up a relatively small percentage of business costs, so raising wages has little impact on prices. Plus, if consumers are unwilling to spend more money, then the business owners, many of whom are rich, will simply have to absorb the wage increase and make a little less profit. They cannot raise their prices to the point that fewer customers buy their products, or they will lose more money than they would by raising wages.

Those are the practical, economic realities of the minimum wage. So what does the Bible have to say about it?

Unfortunately, the Bible says little, because wages weren’t much of a factor in God’s nation of ancient Israel. Twelve of the 13 tribes of Israel had land to farm. Since they worked their own land, their wages were what they produced. They didn’t have to rely on anyone to pay them. In first century Rome, however, where the New Testament was written, the economy resembled our own in that the landowners had rights to the revenue that food from their land produced, and they hired workers to work that land. They often paid the workers meager wages, as little as necessary to recruit them.

What did the apostle Paul have to say about that?

2 Timothy 2:6 says, “The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” Paul makes the common sense point that workers, not land owners, have first rights to what their work produces. The pure capitalist belief is the opposite: the owner of the capital (land, equipment, etc. used to produce goods and services) has full rights to what the workers produce with the capital; owning capital is to be rewarded, while hard work is not. So the biblical model is that the laborers deserve a healthy share of what they produce. This is not communism; it doesn’t say that the property owner gets no share or that everyone gets the same, but neither does it align with modern day Republican ideology.

All people are created in the image of God and deserve a dignified quality of life. That’s why Malachi 3:5 says, “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me, says the Lord of hosts.” When employers pay a wage so low that hard-working people suffer want despite their efforts, that’s oppression. God hates oppression. Today’s Republican Party loves it. We Christians should side with God, and not Republicans, and support a minimum wage increase.

Do Anti-Government Republicans Employ a Racial Double-Standard?

Last weekend, those who follow cable news were treated to a bit of a showdown between the supporters of Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, and agents from the federal Bureau of Land Management. Bundy owed about a million dollars in fees and fines to the government for illegally grazing his cattle on government-owned land. Bundy believes he has rights to this land, because he says his ancestors used it before the federal government owned it (source: L.A. Times). Fox News repeatedly aired interviews with Bundy, treating him as an anti-government hero. This media attention riled up anti-government militia men in the region to the point that they brought their assault rifles to his property to shoot federal representatives who had come to take Bundy’s cattle as payment for the money he owed. The BLM agents backed down, and the anti-government Republicans, not only in Nevada but on Fox News and across the country, declared victory.

The fact that a band of anti-government extremists had a showdown with authorities is nothing new. It’s happened many times throughout our nation’s history. What is alarming is that the Republican Party’s premier propaganda network, Fox News, praised these domestic terrorists, calling them “patriots.” One of the reasons they called them patriots is that they, Bundy in particular, don’t believe in the authority of the federal government. To me, that sounds like the opposite of patriotism. It’s downright anti-American, and it defies Biblical requirements in Romans 13 that we obey the laws of our government.

The fact that Fox News backs these outlaws reveals a disturbing racial double standard among Republicans. First, if they think Bundy has rights to his land, because his ancestors used it before the American government owned it, then they should also believe that Native Americans have rights to all of the land their ancestors owned before Americans took it from them. Of course, they believe no such thing.

Second, the Republicans have always been the tough-on-crime party. If a black man in the city breaks the law, they’re adamant about the rights of law enforcement to arrest him and the rights of the judge to lock him up for a long time. If law enforcement were to come for an inner-city black man who owed $50,000 in fines, and his buddies protected him by pointing guns at the law enforcement officials, the Republicans would applaud the officers for shooting these men. I cannot imagine that Fox News would ever call such defiant black men “patriots.”

Why does Fox News favor this rancher? Could it be because he’s a white, Tea Party Republican? Of course, that’s the reason. In the eyes of Fox News, only rich white people have the right to rebel against authority. Remember, thanks to the Republicans in the Supreme Court, those who have more money have more freedom of speech; therefore, it only stands to reason that those who have more money also have more rights, even the right to break the law without receiving punishment.

Does the Bible Predict the Corporate Takeover of Democracy?

Naturally, the Bible makes no mention of either democracy or corporations, so it’s easy to understand how such a question might sound preposterous. And while I am by no means an eschatology-obsessed Christian, last week’s Supreme Court ruling that further declared money to be one-in-the-same as speech reminded me of a famous Bible quote.

That quote is Revelation 13:16-17. It speaks of the beast – the representative of Satan to whom all the nations will bow down. It says, “And he [the beast] causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or their forehead, and he provides that no one should be a able to buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”

Most people think the beast is a person, but I’ve considered for a long time that if the nations and their rulers obey it, it must be something other than a nation or a ruler. It must be something more powerful. And since Revelation 13 tells us that the beast controls buying and selling, then it stands to reason that the beast is a commercial force that controls politics and the lives of all people. Throughout history, it was impossible for most people to imagine that there could be something more powerful than a nation or a king. But today, it’s not difficult at all, thanks to the immense and highly-concentrated accumulations of wealth that corporate capitalism creates. Therefore, the commercial force of which the Bible speaks just might be corporate power.

Today, corporations are multi-national. Our largest corporations, and the individuals who reap the bulk of their profits, have more wealth than many small nations do. A day will come when they have more wealth and power than even the large nations. If things keep progressing as they are, it’s unimaginable for this not to happen. In such a world, law enforcement and even the strongest militaries will do the bidding of the wealthy, not of the people whom they were originally created to protect. If that sounds far-fetched, we need to look no further than the Iraq war to see that it’s already happening. The objective of the war was eventually achieved: our massive oil companies now control Iraq’s oil. Our government did the bidding of powerful oil companies and told lies to make us think the war was for our protection.

One might think that in a democracy such as ours, people would vote against the power of the wealthy few. But thanks to the Supreme Court, we don’t always get a vote. Such was the case this past week, as well as in the Citizens’ United ruling of 2010, when five Republican-appointed justices overruled four Democrat-appointed justices in striking down democratically-created laws that protected the people from the power of the corporate wealthy to buy elections and have undue influence over politicians who must now rely on them for support. Add to that the fact that Republicans have been chipping away at democracy with voter ID laws, re-redistricting, and the replacement of the majority-of-voters with majority of districts (which they’ve redesigned) in elections, and it’s easy to see how corporate predators will defeat democracy.

The Bible’s prophecy is both good and bad news for Christians. The bad news is that we will lose this battle. Corporate power will someday abolish our freedoms and enslave the world. The best we can expect to do is to stave it off for a while. Ultimately, the devil will win. On the other hand, the fact that the Bible predicted that there would someday be a commercial force greater than the nations is all the more reason to believe in God and in the fact that He has revealed himself to us through the Bible.