Why electing a “Washington Outsider” as president won’t fix Washington


Three of the 16 presidential candidates in the 2016 Republican field are/were people with no political experience – Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Donald Trump. They, along with first term Senator Ted Cruz, have managed to garner most of the Republican voter support by running as “Washington Outsiders,” – people who are going to change the way Washington works.

Yes, people are fed up with the big money influence and gridlock in the nation’s capital, so they say they want to elect a president who is going to “shake up Washington” or “change the way Washington works.” I have bad news for those people: It’s impossible for a president to accomplish that. Many have tried, and all have failed.

In 2008, Barack Obama ran as a Washington outsider. In fact, he had only been in the Senate for a few years before he ran. He was new to Washington. And while he succeeded in many things, especially during his first two years when the Democrats controlled Congress, he failed to change the big money influence and Republican obstructionism in Washington.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan ran as a Washington outsider. He had been governor of California, which was 3000 miles from Washington. So how did he change Washington? Well…the Pentagon paid $600 for toilet seats and $400 for hammers. That’s a change. And let’s not forget Iran/Contra. The Reagan administration suffered 138 indictments. That’s the worst in American history. As for changing Washington for the better, he failed.

Before Reagan, Jimmy Carter ran as a Washington outsider in 1976. He was viewed as the polar opposite of Richard Nixon, a corrupt politician who had long been part of the establishment. American voters decided they preferred a humble peanut farmer from Georgia over anyone who had experience in Washington. Carter was never found to have engaged in corruption, but he didn’t change the way Washington worked. In fact, some suspect that his honesty hurt his effectiveness at getting Congress to work with him.

Now someone might argue that these governors and first time senators still had some political experience, but what about someone one who had never been elected to office. That person would be Herbert Hoover. He was a successful business man and world famous charitable organizer. Once he became president in 1929, his own party refused to work with him, because he lacked the interpersonal skills it took to garner votes for his political agenda. He went down in history as one of America’s worst presidents.

So why can’t presidents “shake up” Washington?

First of all, what does it mean to “shake up” Washington? It’s almost as if Trump supporters think he’s going to literally shake people in Congress and chew them out for not doing it his way. That’s not going to accomplish anything. It’s no solution at all. In fact, it will render him ineffective, even within his own party, just like Herbert Hoover.

Second, the president lacks the power to “shake up” Washington. He can’t do it by executive order, because executive orders only change the way things work in agencies that fall under the executive branch; they have no impact on Congress, and Congress is where the gridlock and big money influence reigns. He can’t just give the Congress a good talking to. As President Obama said in the 2016 State of the Union Address, he knows Congressmen he talks to who would like to do the right thing, but they can’t because the voters back home will vote them out of office.

And that’s the source of the problem. The same voters who say they want to shake up the way Washington works keep voting for the very same congressmen who cause the gridlock and serve the interests of the corporate wealthy. The president is powerless to stop them. Only the voters can stop them.

So that leads us to the formula for change in Washington:

Voters have to become deeply interested in congressional elections. But even that’s not enough. They have to have deep interest in Congressional primaries. In the general election, most people tend to vote for the representative of their party, especially at times like these when the parties are so clearly divided over issues. That’s why incumbents usually win. If we are going to bring about change, we have to make the change in the primaries by voting for better representatives within our parties. Yet most people are reluctant to do that, because the person who already occupies the office has proven they can beat the other party’s opponent, since they have already done so. Nominating someone new comes with an increased risk of losing the election to the opposing party. Add to that the fact that most people don’t even know what primary challengers’ faces even look like, and the incumbent is likely to win the party nomination the vast majority of the time.

The sad fact is that the voters won’t apply the formula I just described, especially within the Republican Party, since they are the party that has represented the interests of the corporate wealthy since the 1890s, and they have a very effective way of brainwashing their voters. The Democratic Party has a better chance of making change, as they strongly oppose ruling like Citizens United. To really make change that matters, however, we have to pressure our representatives to ban what I called “post term payoffs,” where companies who lobby congress reward ex-congressmen with jobs that pay 10-20 times more than they earned in Congress. So imagine being a Senator and seeing your colleagues who give the lobbyists whatever they want then get hired by those lobbyists’ companies after they leave Congress and get paid 3 million dollars a year. How do you secure such future riches for yourself? Give the lobbyists what they want. As of 2012, 53% of former congressmen worked for companies who lobbied Congress. This is what we have to stop if we are going to have any hope of fixing Washington. But nobody’s talking about it, not even in the Democratic Party. Therefore, Washington isn’t getting fixed anytime soon. But if we elect an extremist radical president with no experience, it just might get a whole lot worse.

Exposing the 7-year Tribulation Doomsday Myth


Over the past 50 years, a significant number of conservative Christians have promoted the idea that God has called America to support Israel at all costs, even if it means invading nations who might threaten Israel and effectively waging perpetual war in the Mid-East for the sake of weapons industry profits.

These Evangelicals, led by Pastor John Hagee, promote interpretations of biblical prophecy that predict an unfolding of events in the Middle East which includes the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and a 7-year tribulation. According to them, if we don’t defend Israel and help this temple-building process along, we are somehow working against God’s will. Here’s the main passage eschatological Christians cite as proof of a coming 7-year tribulation:

Daniel 9: 25-27, “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven “sevens” and sixty-two “sevens.” It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two “sevens” the Anointed One will be cut off and have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven. In the middle of the seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And one who causes desolation will come upon the pinnacle of the abominable temple until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolate city.”

Most theologians will tell you that the first 69 “sevens” (called “weeks” in some translations) are the 69 seven year periods (483 years) that passed between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile and the arrival of Christ. It’s the final “one seven” that conservative Evangelicals will tell you represents a future 7-year tribulation in which there will be suffering throughout our world like never before. I believe they are wrong. And here’s why:

This seven year period already happened – a long time ago – from A.D. 67 through A.D 73. After a Jewish revolt in A.D. 66, Roman Emperor Nero appointed Vespasian around the beginning of A.D. 67 to destroy the Jews. He wasn’t just fighting off a rebellion, like his predecessor Gallus; he was utterly defeating them. I believe Vespasian’s agreement with the Romans to do so was the “covenant with many for one seven (conservatives think “the many” are the Jews, but the Bible never says that),” because his campaign to defeat the Jews lasted approximately 7 years. It started in early 67 and ended with the fall of Masada in late 73. Right smack-dab in the middle of this period, in July of A.D. 70, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, thus fulfilling the prophecy that the Temple would be destroyed 3 ½ years into the 7-year period.

To me this is about as obvious a fulfillment of this prophecy as there can be. Therefore, we don’t need to rebuild the Temple again so it can be destroyed again for the sake of fulfilling this prophecy. It has already been fulfilled. It’s not about us.

Another indication that this prophecy is about Vespasian’s conquest is this passage (along with several other passages that say similar things):

Daniel 7:21-22: “I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell – the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched this horn waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the most high, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom [This last line likely refers to Israel becoming a nation in 1948].” And then verse 24 interprets this as, “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones, and he will subdue three kings.”

While Vespasian was a general when he embarked on his quest to defeat the Jews, he became emperor of all of Rome in the summer of A.D. 69. That didn’t halt his campaign. He simply placed his son in charge of the military operation. What’s remarkable about Vespasian is that he was Rome’s 4th emperor to take the throne that year. The three emperors who preceded him died in the first half of A.D. 69. Two of them were murdered and one committed suicide. Whether Vespasian’s supporters had anything to do with these deaths will never be known for sure. But this passage I just shared, as well as several others in Daniel, speak of a king who replaced three other kings, and it’s that king who defeats the Jews.

What throws a lot of Christians off track in understanding these passages is references to “the end.” They suppose it refers to the end of the world, but the Bible never says that. In this case it appears to mean the end of the Jewish nation and the Temple.

Another thing that throws Christians off track is the self-absorbed insistence that the Bible’s prophesies have to be fulfilled in our lifetimes, as if all others who have read the Scriptures over the centuries, including those who read them first, really don’t matter to God as much as we modern American Christians do; God really wrote the Bible for us.

While many Christians will be upset by my bursting of their prophetic bubble, they shouldn’t be. The Dead Sea Scrolls, along with other archaeological evidence, all but prove Daniel to have been written at least a couple hundred years before the destruction of the Temple, if not sooner. There’s little that strengthens the faith of a Christian more than some convincing evidence of a Bible prophecy having been fulfilled, especially in an age where skeptical attacks against the validity of the Bible are more numerous than ever.

The only bad news here is for those who long for American invasions in the Mid-East, because they have had one of their biggest justifications debunked. This is also bad news for ministries that use end-times prophecy to distract Christians from studying the biblical teachings that actually make a positive difference in this world. They just might have to repent of that.

Refuting the Republican Anti-Welfare Stance

[Photo – a rendition of Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” myth]

[The following article is an excerpt from my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason”]

Opposite Evil: Freeloading

Nearly all of us have known some freeloaders. Sometimes they’re our family members. Sometimes they’re our co-workers. Sometimes they’re the employees we manage. At home, they do what they can to live off of other members of the household. On the job, they goof off more than they work. They do just what it takes to get by and no more. They’re such poor employees that no employer should have to hire them. They complain so much about their jobs, their employers, and their lives in general that some of us can barely stand to be around them. According to them, nothing bad in their life is ever their fault. And they use the shortcomings of everyone around them, and even society at large, as the perfect excuse not to try. Their incessant negativity chips away at our ability to maintain a sunny disposition.

Some freeloaders feel that society owes them something, usually money. They blame the government, racism, sexism, the education system, their parents, and the business community for creating barriers that keep them down. Indeed some of these barriers exist; others do not. However, these barriers rarely give sufficient cause for someone to abandon all hope and live off of society. Other freeloaders, however, may not have such big chips on their shoulders. They simply game the system for what they can get from it. Either way, freeloading is a simple combination of greed and sloth.

Naturally, any responsible, hard-working person cringes at the thought of freeloaders freeloading off of the tax dollars workers pay. Such freeloading is unjust. The Bible calls for justice. Therefore, many Republican Christians say, “I believe in personal responsibility. People should be held accountable for what they do. Others shouldn’t have to pay for those unwilling to work.” And for support, they’ll point to this sentence in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.” This verse has become a cornerstone of Republican Christianity. Conservatives interpret it as a biblical mandate to deny assistance to anyone in need.

This, however, is a classic case of how God’s Word can be distorted when we build a belief on a solitary verse without looking at what the entire Bible has to say. Yes, freeloading is a sin. We should do all we can, within reason, to prevent it. On the other hand, I’ve already shared with you passages that require God’s people to share with those in need (such as the mandatory tithe for the poor), especially with those who lack the means (such as land) to provide for themselves. So we know the Bible teaches that not all needy people are freeloaders. Many can do little to improve their situation. Therefore, using verse 3:10 to deny all assistance to the needy is a distortion of the Word of God and is sin. In fact, if we examine the verses leading up to it (verses 6-10), we see that the Apostle Paul, who is visiting the Thessalonian church, works to provide for his own needs while he’s there, so others in the church don’t have to. Apparently, there was enough work available that he could find some, even though he was just passing through. If he could find work, certainly local church members could find it, too. Paul was calling on those who could find work to work rather than freeload. He wasn’t calling on those unable to work to go hungry due to lack of opportunity.

Opposition to sloth and greed of the poor is not only found in New Testament verses like this one; it’s found in the Old Testament as well. Here are some passages that Republican Christians love to quote in the name of personal responsibility:

Exodus 23:2-3, “You shall not follow a multitude in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.”

This verse opposes lawsuits in which groups of poor people attempt to steal from the wealthy by making false claims. Not all lawsuits are evil, but we may only sue with just cause and honest testimony.

Proverbs 30:15, “The leech has two daughters; ‘Give, give,’ they cry. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, ‘Enough.’” [NRSV]

Proverbs 21:25-26, “The craving of a lazy person is fatal, for lazy hands refuse to labor. All day long the wicked covet, but the righteous give and do not hold back [NRSV].”

Proverbs 21:17, “He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich.”

Proverbs 24:30-31, “I passed by the field of the sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man who lacks sense; and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.”

Proverbs 28:19, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.”

These last two proverbs give us insight into the difference between those who were at fault for their poverty and those who were not. That difference was land. As I stated in prior chapters, approximately 95% of Israelites inherited land on which they could grow food and build houses, so all they had to do was work the land. These passages, as well as all of the Old Testament anti-laziness passages, condemned those who failed to work their land, not those who had no land to work. Likewise, it’s consistent with God’s will to have a system that aids those who lack a means of self-support, like those who lacked land in the Bible. We are not to hold them to the same standards as those who have a means of self-support.

Of course, the way our society is structured, it’s much harder to tell the difference between one group and the other, since most Americans are dependent upon corporations, rather than farmland, for jobs, tenancy, food, and other needs. Some have skills lucrative enough to make it in the corporate system, while others lack them and either earn unlivable wages or none at all when corporations provide fewer jobs than there are workers.


Republicans, in an effort to gain our votes, regularly portray those who receive any government assistance as freeloaders. The embodiment of this rhetoric has been the “welfare queen.” From time to time I’ve heard Republicans say that they “know of” a woman who has ten kids and drives a Cadillac that she bought with her welfare money. Little do most of them know that this story had its beginnings in Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign. Reagan described her this way, “She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.” Of course, no one has ever identified this woman, and such an elaborate scam can hardly be commonplace among the poor. Few people are smart and daring enough to pull off a fraud scheme, especially those who haven’t figured out how to make a good living in a competitive economy. Nonetheless, this story was so incredulous that it has for decades been Republican folklore intended to make people despise welfare and cling to its opposite – total mercilessness toward the poor.

Conservatives have modern-day welfare fraud stories, too, and some of them actually can be proven. For example, in March of 2014, Fox News paraded a welfare-cheating surfer-dude by the name of Jason Greenslate before viewers on a program entitled, “The Great Food Stamp Binge.” Greenslate lived with various friends and relatives in the wealth-laden town of La Jolla, California and most likely ate their food, too. And then, being unemployed and eligible for food stamps, he spent his $200 per month food stamp allowance on seafood at the grocery store. When Fox News interviewed him about it, he expressed pride in taking advantage of the system and expressed a desire to continue doing so. Eric Bolling of Fox News said on Feb 26,th 2014 that, “He is the representative of literally millions of Americans,” as if all food stamp recipients have wealthy friends whose sofas they can sleep on and whose refrigerators they can raid.

The truth is that most food stamp recipients have friends and family who are no better off than they are. And, even more important, 76% of SNAP (food stamp) households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person in 2011. These are people who cannot fend for themselves, not lazy surfer-dudes scamming the system. Also, the average food stamp benefit in 2011 was $133.85 per month per person, so even those who do use the system unnecessarily aren’t reaping major money from the government. Their scandals pale in comparison to the 4 billion dollars per year in government subsidies to rich oil companies that Eric Bolling dismissed as merely “a pittance” when compared to all that the government spends.

Today’s anti-welfare conservatives are also largely unaware that the Republican Party got the welfare reform it wanted (mostly) in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Thanks to this law, welfare rolls decreased from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million in 2006, and caseloads decreased by 54 percent. The legislation replaced the old welfare program (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) with TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) which limited lifetime assistance to 60 months, so no one could live off of the system indefinitely. Yet, Republican politicians and pundits never seem to mention it, as though it never happened. Instead, they’ll point out that more people are on food stamps than ever under President Obama, because he expanded the food stamp program as a part of his economic stimulus package. They fail to admit that this expansion was temporary (it ended November 1st, 2013 ), and that an expansion of food stamp payouts should be expected following both a recession and an increase in wealth disparity in which the wages of the working poor buy less and less. Many food stamp recipients are not lazy slugs, but work hard at low-paying jobs that fail to pay for the necessities of life. As working class wages continue to fall in the coming decades, the number of Americans receiving government assistance will grow. We as a nation should not be ashamed that our government assists so many people; we should be ashamed that our economic system leaves so many people in need of assistance.

Welfare opponents, of course, claim that their opposition to welfare is really for the common good. Welfare and other assistance programs, they claim, promote a cradle to grave dependency on the government, taking away motivation to work and keeping the poor stuck in poverty.

So what would happen if they got their way and food stamps were abolished?

Would food stamp abolishment create jobs?

In my credit card processing sales days, I established accounts for numerous small, independent markets in the impoverished areas of Philadelphia. Having access to their processing statements, I saw it was the norm for these markets to get more than half of their business from people who paid with food stamps, sometimes as much as 90 percent of it. If food stamps were abolished, many of these markets would go out of business, and their employees would lose their jobs. So this is how food stamp abolition will destroy jobs. I can think of no way it will create jobs. Conservatives argue that those unable to depend on welfare will look harder for jobs. This accomplishes nothing, because people looking hard for jobs doesn’t create jobs. If there are 160 million workers and 145 million jobs, people looking harder will not create 15 million more jobs. Consumers buying products and services creates jobs. Business owners will not hire workers to service nobody. If food stamp abolition reduces the number of customers spending money in impoverished areas, the number of employees needed to service those customers will also be reduced, as declining revenue from a lack of customers forces employers to cut costs.

If Republican conservative arguments that welfare creates poverty were true, then the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 should have greatly reduced poverty. We should have seen a marked improvement in the American quality of life after its implementation, certainly by 2008, since it cut welfare to such a great extent. Instead, since 1999, median household income has fallen, not risen (this was true even before the Great Recession). This substantial reduction in welfare payouts did nothing to improve the American standard of living. Yet, as long as there are any welfare, unemployment, and disability programs at all, Republicans will argue that reducing and eliminating them will improve life for the average American, despite the lack of evidence to support their claims.

Another point regarding the idea that cradle to grave dependency takes away motivation to work is that, outside of TANF, most other assistance programs help children and the elderly. The elderly, including those in nursing homes receiving Medicaid, are beyond the point where they can work. Their motivation at such a late stage in life is irrelevant. Likewise, children are not yet at the point where they can work. This fact, however, didn’t stop Christian book store owner and Republican Missouri State Representative, Cynthia Davis, from opposing subsidies of summer school lunch programs by stating on June 4th, 2009 that “hunger can be a great motivator.” Perhaps Representative Davis thought that if children go hungry, they will work hard for their food like wealthy children do. Of course, wealthy children don’t work; they have their food given to them. Unlike Representative Davis, the Bible only holds those able to support themselves responsible for doing so. Children and the elderly are not of this group.

All of this is not to say we should encourage dependency on the government. For example, we shouldn’t give the poor so much money that they live better than those who fail to qualify for assistance. This hurts motivation to look for work. However, we should not only discourage low income freeloading, but high income freeloading as well. For example, the banking industry behaved irresponsibly and received government bailouts in the late 1980s and the late 2000s. Oil companies and large farms receive subsidies, and the defense contractors have enriched themselves on tax dollars more than anyone. And let’s not forget that corporate owners couldn’t get so rich if it weren’t for the liability protection they depend on the government for. Apparently, Republicans only oppose dependency on the government when it’s the poor depending on it, not the rich.

-K. Scott Schaeffer

How Trump can use the presidency to enrich himself

thCAHEGQOIA Trump-supporting relative at a 2015 Christmas gathering asked me, knowing that I am not a Trump supporter, “So what do you think Trump’s motives are for wanting to become president? I think he really wants to make America great again.” At the time, I answered that I can’t read minds, that I suspect it’s all about ego; that Trump is bored with making money, so it’s really about power and fame now. While that answer probably contains some truth, I think it just scratches the surface. As I gave the question more thought later, the answer crystallized. Now if only I could build a time machine, go back to the moment of that question, and lay down the new and improved answer (I have this desire a lot). But instead, I’ll just share it with you.

For several years now, I’ve shared my belief with others that, when you vote Republican, you may as well vote the oil companies, banks, and defense contractors to be our government. You may as well place their executives and major shareholders right in the seats of the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court. From there they will make decisions to cut their own taxes (both business and personal), shovel tax dollars to their companies, and fight against every worker, consumer, and environmental protection, because they despise anything that limits their ability to exploit Americans and the world for the sake of even greater wealth and power. (If you’re a conservative who wants to argue that the Democrats do the same, I say examine the legislation and Supreme Court rulings, such as the 5 Republican-appointed justices voting that money equals speech and that corporations are people who can funnel unlimited millions into political campaigns through SuperPACs, while the 4 Democrat-appointed justices voted against it.)

Donald Trump, of course, represents neither the oil, the banking, nor the weapons industry. Rather, he represents the real estate and construction industries. When Trump speaks about building a wall, he says, “I build things. That’s what I do.”


But let’s follow the money. Who will build the wall and other projects he has proposed, such as infrastructure improvement projects?

Government rarely builds these things themselves; rather, they contract them out to private companies. Donald Trump has involvement and influence all throughout the real estate and building industries. It’s more likely than not that a sizable portion of the government money spent on these project will find its way back to Donald Trump and his kids. Yes, there are laws and regulations against that sort of thing – FOR NOW! But who’s to say Trump and the Republicans won’t repeal them. Also, Trump has hinted at embarking on new infrastructure projects. These just might include new highways and high speed railroads that will someday provide opportunities for Trump and his kids to make money from new hotels, casinos and condos they build along their routes. Trump’s presidential ambitions may be nothing more than a veiled attempt to exponentially expand the power and influence of the Trump Empire throughout America and across the globe, while competing billionaires lusting for world domination eat his dust.

Speaking of competitors, keep in mind that government regulatory agencies fall under the executive branch and, therefore, under to power of the presidency. Trump, as president, will have the ability to write executive orders to undo decades-old protective regulations enforced by the Department of Commerce. One of the oldest political scams in the book is corporate controlled politicians changing laws and regulations in order to place competitors at a disadvantage, as the infamous Boss Tweed did for his friend and Erie Railroad owner Jay Gould in the 1860s and 1870s. Unlike Boss Tweed, Trump isn’t a politician controlled by wealthy business owners, the way most Republican presidential candidates are. Instead, he’s cutting out the middle man and placing himself directly into the seat of the world’s most powerful office. If he succeeds, he’ll be in the perfect position to exploit America’s laws and regulations for his own sake.

The world is headed in the direction of the corporate wealthy being the most powerful force in the world, rather than the nations and their democratically-elected governments having the power. The nations will be the pawns of the global corporate wealthy and will do their bidding. Perhaps the nations who refuse to do their bidding will have their economies vengefully ruined by powerful bankers and their politicians, so that “they will be unable to buy or sell” (as the book of Revelation says), unless they bow down to the Beast that is the corporate wealthy and the politicians they control. The world is already this way to some extent. But over time, the power of the corporate wealthy will grow, and placing Donald Trump in the White House just might be one huge step in that direction.

How Republicans are Killing Evangelism

As a student at Belmont University in the early 1990s, I was somewhat active in the local church’s mission to reach out to Kurdish Muslim refugees with the love of Christ. The refugees had fled the Kurdistan region of Iraq and, for some reason, had relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. A good friend of mine, who would go on to live in Kurdistan as a missionary to Kurdish Muslims from 1995-2002, was instrumental in the local program which, among other things, built a tea house for the Kurds. Its grand opening was a fond memory for me, not only because the Kurds received a great gift from the church, but also because it was the first time I ever ate baklava, which is still a favorite of mine. Nonetheless, to the best of my knowledge, the Kurdish Muslims had received nothing but the love of Christ from Evangelical Christians.

Those days now seem as though they occurred in an alternate and opposite universe.

Since the Republican Party has been so successful at using issues like abortion to sell themselves as the Christian party, millions of Evangelicals have since allowed Republican media and politicians to teach them that they should fear and despise Muslims.

How do I know their efforts have been successful?

At first I didn’t know. Early on, it seemed that most Evangelicals disliked Trump and swore they would never vote for him. Then this Fall I heard that Evangelical groups spoke out in opposition to the Republican Party regarding Syrian refugees. Apparently, evangelism wasn’t dead. At least not yet.

But then a poll in the first week of 2016 revealed that 33% of Evangelicals support Donald Trump. I personally was shocked, since I had thought the Republican Evangelicals were repulsed by Trump’s hateful, racist rhetoric. Plus, more than 20% of Evangelicals support Ted Cruz, whose genocidal policy of carpet bombing Muslims (indiscriminately killing the civilian population where the enemy dwells) is actually more deadly than Trump’s plan. Add to that the reader comments I see on the Facebook feeds of Religious Right leader and former pastor Mike Huckabee, in which the most commonly used term employed by his followers appears to be “evil Muslim,” and it’s clear that the Evangelical hatred toward Muslims is growing in both scope and intensity. It’s probably only a matter of time until Republican rhetoric leads Evangelicals to abandon evangelism altogether in favor of rejecting and hating Muslims, Gays, Mexicans, and anyone else they see as living outside the Christian faith.

One might argue that Evangelicals can still manage to evangelize from a distance by condemning them and demanding that they become Christian. But that approach didn’t even work in biblical times. That’s why the Apostle Paul commended the non-Christians at Mars Hill for being “very religious in every aspect” [Acts 17:22] when he began to share the Gospel with them. Notice that he did not condemn them as evil and demand that they join the faith. Rather, he shared the Gospel with them and invited them to learn more about it, and those who refused, he left alone rather than pursue them with hatred and condemnation.

I think there are two reasons he did this. The first is that his non-condemnation approach to evangelism was more effective. Reaching out to others with the love of Christ, regardless of their faith or orientation, opens people up to you and to the message you have to share. The second is that judgmentalism is a sin. It’s not our place to determine how God views another person. In fact, in Paul’s case, he was himself a convert who had once persecuted Christians – that’s about as evil as it gets. Yet God was gracious with him, reaching out to Paul with the love of Christ rather than damning him as evil.

It’s one thing for us Christians to judge a behavior, a deed, or even a competing religious theology as evil, but we are forbidden from judging people as evil. When we do so we effectively take our seat on God’s throne and damn people in our hearts (or crown them as righteous, which also has its dangers). Once we make that final damnation, then we withhold from those we judge the love of Christ that leads people to know Him, and we serve the will of Satan rather than God. The Republican Party is now leading more and more Evangelicals to practice judgmentalism rather than evangelism, and Christianity’s numbers are in rapid decline as a result.

Why Democrats need to oppose political correctness extremism

To me, there are two types of political correctness: The first is the correctness of refusing to use words that have always been intended as derogatory toward those to whom they apply. While I hope not to infuriate anyone with the simple mention of such words, they’ve included, “wop,” “spic,” “chink,” etc. The people to whom these words are supposed to apply have never applied these words to themselves. Most Americans can agree that labeling people with such derogatory terms is wrong, cruel, and certainly racist.

The 2nd type (and the type most people have a problem with) is what I call political correctness entrapment. This is where the usage of a given word is labelled as racist, even though the group to whom the term refers has, for many years, used that very term to refer to themselves. This seems to have started with the term, “black.” The term itself, from what I understand, replaced the word “colored,” which replaced the word “negro,” as in the United Negro College Fund – an African-American organization that, in its own name, has always referred to college students of their race as “negro.” Likewise, many colleges in the 1980s had organizations that called themselves “The Black Caucus” and the “Black Student Union.” Yet, by the early 1990s, non-racist whites who used the term “black,” a term that had always been acceptable for them to use, instead of the new term “African-American,” were suddenly in danger of being labelled as racists. The result? More whites running to the Republican Party, because they hate the political correctness traps of the extreme left.

While I’ll admit that the “black” vs. “African-American” debate has since abated, the political correctness trap has spread to other races, and even segments of racists. In December, on MSNBC’s The Run Down with Jose Diaz-Balart, I witnessed a hispanic outreach campaigner (I think he represented Bernie Sanders) say that Martin O’Malley was a racist because O’Malley used the term “illegal immigrants” instead of the new term “dreamers.” What alarmed me so much about this accusation is that, to the best of my knowledge, Martin O’Malley supports a path to citizenship. He’s on the same side of the immigration debate as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Yet, just for the sake of scoring political points, this campaigner sprung the political correctness trap on an opponent.

Also disturbing is that the term “dreamer” is unspecific. It makes it more difficult to deal with the technicalities of immigration issues. And it steals the word “dreamer” away from legal immigrants who have dreams and U.S. born children who have dreams, limiting its use only to those who come to this country illegally. But worst of all, this form of political correctness accuses those of us who are not racists, who are trying to discuss issues that we care about, who favor a path to citizenship, of being racists just because we haven’t adopted the new language.

What effect will this sort of thing have in the long run?

I believe that these political correctness traps drive those who might side with a minority’s cause to the opposite extreme. That’s why Donald Trump’s pole numbers go up whenever he says he’s fed up with political correctness. Most Americans are fed up with the political correctness trap, too. And, unfortunately, they become so emotional over it that they run to the opposite extreme, willing to embrace Trump’s truly racist rants almost out of spite, so that racist rhetoric that would have repulsed them in years past now delights them. They then vote for politicians who say they oppose political correctness, even though there’s nothing legislatively that politicians can do to stop people from making a fuss when someone uses a word they do not accept. The First Amendment protects that freedom of speech.

As for Christians, however, the political correctness trap is actually sinful. It’s the sin of judgmentalism. Its purpose is to effectively take our seat on God’s throne and label another person as evil before the whole world, so that the world hates them, refuses to listen to them, and damns them in their hearts. It’s also, in many cases, the sin of bearing false witness, in which we call someone a racist who really isn’t one, all because they used a term that had been acceptable for them to use all of their lives until someone changed the game on them for the sake of entrapment.

I realize as a Democrat who runs a Facebook Page called, “Rescuing Religion from Republicans,”  this article may come as a surprise, and even a disappointment, to many liberals who follow the page. But remember that this website is called, “The Politically Moderate Christian.” One of the reasons I’m moderate is that, as a Christian, I let the Bible teach me right from wrong, not my political party. That means if I have to call out the party to which I belong for being too extreme, or just plain wrong, then I will, even if it’s at the expense of losing existing fans of the page and website. The way I see it, if a person is so closed-minded and emotional that they shun a writer they used to like over an occasional difference of opinion, then that person just might be too far gone to be reached on any issue.

Times are good…the media just won’t let you see it that way


As we approach the 2016 election, there’s a conventional wisdom floating about that says the reason politically-extreme candidates are so popular now is that the population is so frustrated; they just can’t take it anymore, so they insist upon drastic change.

To that I ask, “What exactly is it that Americans can no longer take?”

Naturally, your answer to this depends upon which issues you think are important.

If you’re a Republican, you might say it’s the economy that has you up in arms. Yet, the unemployment rate is 5%. It never once went lower than 5% under Ronald Reagan. And the average unemployment rate over the last 50 years is 5.8%. Even the U6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and part-time workers, is 9.8%, which is the same as it was in 2005 and 1996, when the economy was considered good. The household median income in 2014 was $53,657. That’s not as high (in inflation-adjusted dollars) as it was in 1999, when it peaked at $57,843 (which was an inflated number due to the dot-com bubble that was about to burst), but it’s higher than it was at any time during the Reagan-Bush years. (All of these stats come from Table H-6 at Census.gov: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/ ) So while we would like to see more growth, people today have even more buying power than they did in the Reagan years, which, according to Republicans, were supposedly so wonderful. If you’re flipping out because you think the economy now is so much worse now than it was in the 1980s, you’re out of touch with reality.

Trump supporters might say they’re fed up with all of the Mexican immigrants. Yet, a decade ago, when Congress failed to pass immigration reform under George W. Bush, we had 11 million illegal immigrants in this country; today, we still have 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. So if you think that illegal immigrants are flooding America, you’re wrong. Trump has resurrected an outdated issue here in order to win votes and distract voters from the real issues. But no matter how you slice it, immigration is no more of a problem than it was 10-20 years ago. In fact, you could say it’s less of a problem, because there are far fewer illegal immigrants crossing the border today.

If terrorism and Mid-East turmoil keeps you up at night, my guess is that you haven’t been following foreign affairs for very long. In the good old days of the 1980s, Iraq invaded Iran, and the war lasted 8 years. Reagan rewarded Saddam Hussein for the invasion by supplying him with weapons and satellite intelligence to help him defeat our enemy, Iran. Of course, Saddam later used some of those weapons to turn on our ally, Kuwait. Meanwhile, the USSR fought to overtake Afghanistan from 1979-1989. So right there you have 4 countries at war. And that’s not counting Lebanon, where 241 Americans died in the Beirut embassy and barracks bombings of 1983 (How did Reagan respond? He pulled the troops out of there in 1984. If Obama retreated like that, you know how Republicans would react.) And to top it all off, we were in a cold war with Russia and China, from the late 1940s through the mid-1980s, in which our enemies eventually had enough nuclear weapons to destroy every person on earth. That literally kept me awake at night as a young teen in the early 1980s. If a time traveler would have told me back then that, after the early 1990s, our biggest future threat would be terrorist groups on the opposite side of the planet that have no planes, battleships, or missiles, let alone nukes, I would have thought that future Americans would have to be the happiest Americans ever.

And if you’re a Christian who worries about growing sexual immorality in this country, remember that we’ve had a 50% divorce rate (approx.) for decades, long before gay marriage was even up for debate. Immorality is growing as Christianity declines, but forcing our religious rules on the rest of society creates resentment that only hastens Christianity’s further decline. So from a political perspective, there’s really nothing our leaders can do to improve sexual immorality. That’s why it didn’t improve one iota during the 6 years of Republican control of Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court from 2001-2007.

Even on the liberal side, there’s overreaction. Yes, the police brutality, especially against African Americans, is terrible. But I don’t know that it’s any worse than it ever was; rather, our cell phone cameras are better enabling us to capture the violence and share it with the world (which will hopefully lead to decreased violence in the future). Yes, we didn’t have the school shootings like we do today in the 1970s and 80s, but there were plenty of other violent events, from the Wounded Knee confrontation in 1973, to the McDonald’s mass shooting in 1984, to police shooting college students at Kent State in 1970, to the Move confrontation and the resulting fire that burned 60 Philadelphia city blocks in 1985. If America seems more violent now than in the past, it’s because your memory has faded.

Times are good – historically speaking, of course. Yes, there are still shootings, poverty, fighting, corruption, immorality, and so on. That’s always been the case. One might argue that divorce is worse today than it was 50 years ago, but then wife beating was worse 50 years ago than it is today. So we have to learn to take the good with the bad. I believe that a big part of being a Christian is appreciating what is good while still working to rescue people from the bad. Otherwise, we are guilty of being the “grumblers and fault-finders” the book of Jude warns us about.

To me, there’s only one thing that’s worse today than it was in the old days, and that’s the politically-controlled media brainwashing Americans, driving them to hysteria, and inspiring them to support extremist politicians who are likely to make rash and desperate decisions that we’ll regret for the rest of our lives. Before the advent of Fox News in the 1990s, the news was the news, mostly just straight-forward reporting. Today, most of our media is designed to entertain and indoctrinate. Right now, we should be enjoying our relative safety and prosperity. Instead, we’re miserable, and it’s dividing us. This isn’t to say we have nothing to worry about. If we continue along this path, the tremendous progress that more level-headed generations of the past accomplished will be dismantled by the panicked emotionalism created by today’s media.

Why the “We need assault weapons to protect ourselves from government tyranny” argument is invalid

After the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook in late 2012, a fellow gun owner in my church agreed with me that legalized guns, such as those used for hunting, are fine, but nobody needs a gun that can kill 30 people in 30 seconds. Within earshot was a devout Republican Christian, however, who chimed in with the argument that we need high-powered assault rifles to protect us from a tyrannical government. My response was, “Paint me a picture in which it would be right for Christians to shoot police officers or soldiers, since they would be the ones representing the government that was ‘coming to get us.’” I can’t recall his exact words, but I believe they had something to do with Hitler and the Jews.

Ben Carson promoted a similar argument in his most recent book, and he received media criticism for it. He claimed that the Jews would have been able to defend themselves from Nazi tyranny, if only they had been allowed to have guns. The good news here is that rather than debate the hypothetical, we can look to American history, where guns of nearly all kinds have been legal, to see if gun rights protected Americans from tyranny.

Japanese internment camps

One might argue that the U.S. didn’t starve and kill Japanese-Americans the way the Germans did the Jews. True. But did Japanese-Americans know that our government wouldn’t do anything tyrannical to them when they first required them to live in camps? How did they know they wouldn’t be slaughtered and enslaved? It’s funny how Republicans are silent on what would have happened had the Japanese-Americans fought back, guns-a-blazing, when our government “came for them.” It’s hard to imagine that it would have gone well for them. Rather, it’s likely they would have been seen as Japanese sympathizers and would have been killed as though they were Japanese combatants. Regardless of what we can imagine, the fact is that loose guns laws didn’t protect Japanese-Americans from being forced into camps.

The Palmer Raids

During the Red Scare, in the years following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, J. Edgar Hoover oversaw the seizure and arrests of over 10,000 people who were suspected of being communists. A few thousand of them were detained, and several hundred, including Emma Goldman, were deported. The vast majority of them were non-violent. There were, however, some who were violent anarchists, and they were armed with bombs and guns. Yet, the government still managed to arrest, detain, and deport the violent ones, despite the fact that they were armed, because our police and military are experts in how to capture violent, armed extremists.

The Latimer Massacre

In 1897, the Luzerne County in Sheriff’s department in Hazleton PA shot 19 coal strikers dead, despite the fact that the strikers were unarmed and not destroying property or making threats.

The Ludlow Massacre

In 1914, the Colorado state militia burned down the tent village housing the families of striking coal miners, killing 25 people, including 12 children as young as age two.

The Bonus Army

In 1932, WWI veterans camped out and demonstrated in Washington DC for the government to pay them a bonus they had been owned for their service in the war. President Hoover responded by sending in General MacArthur, who repelled them with tanks and tear gas and then proceeded to burn down their temporary village. (Here’s a video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNOsIB5VMSQ)

While these examples are just the tip of the iceberg, the truth is that if the government, federal, state, or local, wants to come and get you, they have the ability to do so. In the case with the Latimer and Ludlow massacres, the victims didn’t even know the government was coming for them. But even if you carried an assault rifle with you at all times to protect yourself, an FBI SWAT team could simply pull up alongside you in a van, as you’re walking to your car from the office, pull you into the van and then lock you away somewhere. Even if you shot at them in defense, they would be wearing bullet-proof vests and possibly other riot gear, and your shots would do nothing but bring about a more brutal response from them. The government has always had the ability to “come for you.” And that will never change.

All of these fantasies of the government coming to get conservatives and lock them up are a waste of time, however, because we will not experience Hitler-like tyranny in our lifetime at the hands of a Democratic president. If tyranny comes, it will come from a Republican (like Trump). And guns won’t protect the victims, because the gun enthusiasts will support the Republican president. As long as the Republican president locks up or deports blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, or Democrats, right-wing gun enthusiasts will be happy with that. In fact, they just might volunteer to lend a hand in enforcing the tyranny. It’s almost as if the Republicans have built up their own citizen militia that will reinforce right-wing policies and perhaps even rise up against Democrat-controlled administrations. Effectively, the people who have the guns have the power, and that gives more power to the Republicans.

And that brings me to my greatest concern – heavily-armed right-wing terrorists. If guns were limited to hunting rifles and shot guns, all of which require pumping another bullet into the chamber between shots, then it might possibly take a majority of the people to overthrow the government. But if we continue to let extremists hoard large numbers of semi-automatics that can kill 30 people in 30 seconds, then a small minority of the population can overthrow the government. We saw the beginning of this with Cliven Bundy’s militia friends in Nevada, who used assault weapons to prevent federal law enforcement from enforcing the law, and then they harassed the townspeople (with checkpoints, etc) in a display of force. Think about it…these extremists supported a racist, thieving lawbreaker to the point where they were ready to slaughter law enforcement. Do we really want people like that in charge of our country?

Therefore, I am far less concerned with the tyranny of our democratically-elected government than I am with the tyranny right-wing extremists will impose on us after they overthrow our democratically-elected government and take control of it to serve themselves. Remember, the last time heavily-armed racist extremists decided our federal government was tyrannical (even though all that happened was that a man who never proposed abolishing slavery in the South was elected president), it resulted in a Civil War that killed more Americans than any war in history. And if those rebels had won, America would probably be the world’s most oppressive nation today. My concern is that heavily-armed rebels of a similar mindset might turn violent in the near future, and the bloodshed will return.

The ISIS threat is hysterically over-hyped, and here’s why…

According to the CDC, the United States averages about 16,000 murders per year (that’s 160,000 per decade). And few people seem to be terribly concerned about it. The Republicans refuse to expand background checks or limit the number of bullets in a clip for a semi-automatic weapon, as if having to change a clip more often would be an unbearable hindrance to the gun enthusiast at the shooting range. Meanwhile, some Democrats, like the ACLU, tend to be more concerned about even the smallest civil liberties than they are about the murder rate (such as prisoners’ rights activism that makes prison less of a deterrent than it should be and shows far more compassion for criminals than it does for their victims).

Yet, despite politically shrugging our shoulders at 160,000 murders per decade, our politicians and pundits have managed to spearhead a national freak-out because 120 people died in a terrorist attack and 200+ people died in a blown-up plane on the other side of the ocean. And they’ve inflamed this panic by proclaiming that ISIS has expanded their capabilities.

Really? How?

Are they talking about the capability of being able to travel to France or to board an airplane?

We already knew that ISIS had guns and bombs; that’s how they expanded their territory into Iraq. Just because they took them on a road trip doesn’t mean they have greatly expanded their capabilities.

The truth is that ISIS has very limited capabilities. They have no power to threaten the sovereignty of the USA. They cannot invade us like Japan or Germany could have in WWII. They can’t drop bombs on us, because they don’t have planes. And even if they did have planes, they would need aircraft carriers to get them over here, but they have none. They have no navy, no air force, and no missiles. So it is impossible for them to “come here and kill us all” as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham famously said last year. Historically, they are small potatoes. Yes, they could strike us like they did in Paris and kill tens or maybe even hundreds of people, but that would barely put a dent in the 160,000 murders that Americans commit against Americans each decade.

Of course, I can hear the panicked emotionalists cry as they read this, “What about 9/11? They killed thousands of people and blew up buildings, and if we don’t go over there and kill ‘em all, they are are going to come here and repeat 9/11 again and again.”

Indeed, the image of the twin towers burning is seared into the minds and emotions of so many people that it becomes hard to reason with them. The terrorists didn’t carry out those attacks with weapons. Rather, they outsmarted us by taking civilian aircraft and crashing them into buildings while full of gasoline – effectively turning the planes into bombs. I have news for the panicked emotionalists: We’ve caught on to the plane hijacking idea. The cockpits are locked so terrorists cannot get in and take control of the plane. And, of course, there are the stringent TSA screenings that libertarian Republicans have been whining about, as if it’s the end of the world if someone touches your precious leg before you board a plane. So this leaves terrorists with nothing more than conventional weapons, such as small bombs and guns. Yes, they can kill some Americans, but nowhere near as many as we kill ourselves.

All of this isn’t to say that we should take no action and be completely unconcerned. But our response should be a measured one. Remember that ISIS has made enemies on all sides – Russia and France, most recently, but also Iran, Iraq, and Syria. They pose far more of a threat to their neighbors, whom they can easily access, than they do to us over here on the other side of the planet. They will be contained, regardless of what we do. Yes, they are terrible, but sending thousands more Americans to die and be tortured in a decade-long quagmire while shoveling trillions of dollars to the defense industry is overkill.

Politically, what concerns me is that an ISIS terrorist coming to America and killing as few as a dozen people in 2016 would cause a national freak-out that would guarantee a Republican landslide, because Obama supposedly didn’t keep us safe. And the Republican president would then send thousands of troops to their deaths in Syria and Iran (remember, they promise to tear up the Iran deal, which many experts say would lead to war), add trillions of dollars to our debt, all because of an attack that equaled less than 1/1000th of our annual murder rate. And if an aggressive Republican like Trump, Cruz, or Fiorina wins, we’ll likely find ourselves at war with Russia – a nuclear nation – and the consequences of that are unthinkable. And, of course, with such high war costs, Republican leaders will require us to make sacrifices to pay for the war, which are likely to include deep and drastic cuts to healthcare, disability, food stamps, and other assistance programs, costing thousands more lives here at home than jihadist terror attacks will ever take.

Basically, the Republican reaction to a relatively small numbers of deaths is to repsond with a far greater number of deaths. Why do they do it? It’s because they’ve shunned the warnings of former WWII Supreme Allied Commander and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower who, upon leaving office in 1961, warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Instead, Republicans and their panicky followers have enabled the weapons industry to enrich itself off of the deaths of foreigners, American soldiers abroad, and American civilians at home. That’s why they shrug their shoulders at over 100,000 guns murders at home per decade, but want us to panic and wage expensive wars over a few hundred lives lost overseas.

What Republicans really mean by the term “Radical Islam”

Many Republican politicians and pundits say we need to kill ALL “Radical Muslims,” because that’s who our war is really with. They complain that Obama won’t call our enemies by their name (of course, their names are ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jihadists, terrorists, etc., which is what he calls them), and that he refuses to define the real enemy, which is the religion of “Radical Islam.” Yet, among Muslims, there is no such denomination as “Radical Islam.” So we cannot look to them for the definition of this term. We must instead look to the Republicans who came up with it for the definition. So how exactly do Republicans define “Radical Islam?”

I’m assuming that since it’s Republican Evangelicals like Ted Cruz leading this charge, that “Radical Islam” is defined in a similar manner as “Radical Christianity” is defined by Republican Evangelicals.

One might expect that a politically-liberal/moderate Christian like myself would have grown up in theologically-liberal churches and know nothing about the teachings of Republican Evangelicals. But nothing could be farther from the truth. While I grew up in a nominally-Christian Pennsylvania Dutch family, I found myself immersed in conservative Evangelical church life upon attending Belmont University in Nashville, TN. I spend most of my 20s and 30s in denominations ranging from the Southern Baptists to the PCA to non-denominational churches. It was in these churches in which I would, from time to time, here a sermon on how we Christians need to be “Radical Christians.”

How did they define “Radical Christian?”

A Radical Christian was someone who changed their life in a significant way as a result of their Christian faith – someone who lived as if God is real. For some churches, that meant leaving the comforts of home to go into the missions field. For others it meant abstaining from alcohol, secular music, and R-rated movies. Just showing up in church on Sundays wasn’t enough. The world needed to see that you were a Christian in your daily life.

If that’s what a Radical Christian is, then Muslims who lead their daily lives differently that those around them as a result of their faith are Radical Muslims. For a Muslim, that might mean abstaining from pork and alcohol or wearing Muslim clothing. It doesn’t just mean being violent. So if our war is against Radical Muslims, then even peaceful Muslims at home are the enemy.

So while the general public might think that Republicans just want to wage war against violent Muslims, Evangelical “Radical Christians” know that Republicans are calling for a holy war where the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. They are calling for religious genocide. Since most Evangelicals believe that Islam is the most evil of religions, many of them see the eradication of devoutly Muslim people as a righteous endeavor. In other words, they really want to give the jihadists the holy war they’ve been longing for. This works out well for the Republican Party, because the Republicans have been that party that increases military spending at the fastest rate, looking for any reason to shovel hundreds of billions more tax dollars per year to the military-industrial complex, which, along with tax cuts for the wealthy and lawlessness for corporations, has been the Republican Party’s primary goal for decades.

So what does the Bible have to say about this?

Some might say the Old Testament calls for genocide, because the Israelites were to eradicate the people of Canaan, so they could move in and take over. Remember, however, that the Israelites were homeless after having left Egypt. They needed a home, and all of the good spots were taken. Moving thousands of people into an existing small nation and expecting to live side by side with its inhabitants was unrealistic. They would have been killed or enslaved. Their only chance of survival was to clear out the land they were to inhabit. That was simply the unfortunate reality of the brutal, ancient Middle East.

But over time, God led His people to overcome that brutality and become leaders in peace. Jesus and His disciples never saw the need to kill people of opposing religions in order to lead them to join the Christian faith, not even when Christians were being persecuted by those people. Killing people of other religions has no place in Christianity. Yes, our nation may defend itself. But there’s never a need to defend ourselves from a religion; only a need to defend ourselves from attackers, regardless of their religion.