Where Republican Christians are wrong in opposing gay marriage

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

If you ask Republican Christians why they wage a political battle against gay marriage, many of them will respond by saying, “Because the Bible says it’s wrong.” This assertion isn’t entirely true. The Bible never says gay marriage is wrong. It does, however, say re-marriage is wrong. The Gospels contain 4 quotes of Jesus equating it with adultery, one of the Bible’s top ten sins. Some will argue that homosexuality gets the death penalty in the Bible and re-marriage doesn’t. However, the sin of adultery, which Jesus equates with re-marriage, gets the death penalty, and so does the profaning of the Sabbath.

Where, then, is the Christian legislative movement to outlaw adultery, re-marriage, and the breaking of the Sabbath?

The answer is, “Nowhere!”

Why not?

Quite simply, Christians break these laws all of the time. According to a 2008 Barna Research Group study, 26% of all Evangelical Christians have been divorced. It’s harder to find statistics on adultery, but a significant percentage of Christians commit that sin, too. And just about all Christians break the Sabbath. Even Christians like me, who try hard to avoid doing any work on the Sabbath, are glad that others are willing to work at restaurants and play professional sports on Sundays, because that makes our Sabbath days more enjoyable. We Christians benefit from the leniency of our nation’s laws regarding some of the Bible’s greatest sins. We choose not to launch a legislative campaign against these sins, because we either commit them or know we are capable of giving into the temptation to commit them.

Homosexuality, on the other hand, is something nearly all Christians know will never tempt them. That’s why they choose to outlaw it rather than outlaw the sins of adultery, divorce, re-marriage, and breaking the Sabbath. Apparently, from a legislative perspective, Republican Christians only say “the Bible says so” when it “says so” about someone else. This, of course, is hypocrisy and a violation of one of Jesus’ most famous quotes (from Matthew 7:4): “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?”

The Martyr Effect

Before gay marriage was ever an issue, there wasn’t much that Christians could do politically to oppose homosexuality. In the past, some states made laws that prohibited homosexual sex. These laws, however, couldn’t be consistently enforced, because nobody will call the police when two homosexuals consent to having sex in private. So these laws had little impact and were hardly worth passing. Meanwhile, homosexuality remained a fringe lifestyle that even most non-Christians disrespected. All of that changed, however, when gay marriage became a high-priority political issue. This gave Christians the opportunity to attack homosexuality in the political arena. Since homosexuals pursued the legalization of gay marriage for their own sake and not for the sake of controlling the behavior of others, most of America saw them as martyrs—people minding their own business while being persecuted by an outside group—that group, of course, being Christians.

Many Christians are unaware that martyrdom has played a significant role in growing Christianity into the world’s largest religion. For example, in Africa, early missionaries took coffins with them to their new land, because they knew that were likely to be killed by natives. Their expectations became reality, and, sure enough, many Africans came to accept Christ as a result of Christian martyrdom. Likewise, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire as a result of Romans having compassion for, and being inspired by, persecuted Christians. Granted, these Christian martyrs actually died; whereas, gay marriage martyrs live on. Nonetheless, America has compassion for gay marriage martyrs, because Americans see them as being persecuted by an outside group for seeking a legal right that appears to hurt no one else.

Not only does America feel compassion for homosexuals, but many Americans feel contempt for Christians, thanks to the gay marriage debate. I’m not talking about homosexuals here; I’m talking about bystanders. America has, since its inception, always been a multi-religion nation. The Constitution’s First Amendment effectively guarantees that one religion cannot rule over another. When a religious group tries to legislatively impose one of its religious beliefs on the rest of nation in the name of “God says so,” the First Amendment nullifies their efforts. This is not to say that the U.S. Constitution out-ranks the Bible. But this is the reality of the nation in which we live. Because of this, when Americans see one religion trying to force its religious beliefs on non-believers, they despise that religion, because it’s attempting to destroy one of America’s most basic freedoms.

(Some might argue that gay marriage prohibition is civil law and not religious law. But as I stated in the No Taxes chapter, every nation has business, property, and injury laws which constitute what we might call civil laws. Without civil laws, they would not be civilizations. Not all nations, however, have laws that regulate worship practices, appearance, diet, and sexuality, because these are religious laws. While most marriage laws are of a civil nature in terms of addressing such things as property rights, sexuality laws are moral laws; and the “gay” part of gay marriage is sexual, not civil.)

Christians who seek to ban gay marriage argue that it defies God’s definition of marriage in the Bible, which is between a man and a woman. I agree whole-heartedly that this is God’s definition of marriage. That’s all the more reason that a multi-religion nation should refuse to ban homosexuals from marriage. Doing so imposes Christian and Jewish religious definitions on non-Christians.

Many Christians will dispute this by saying that God calls us to establish righteousness in the world; we must abolish evil, even that which is committed by members of other religions. If they are right, gay marriage is the wrong place to start. The place to start is the Constitution. Freedom of religion would have to be stricken from the Constitution and Christianity made the national religion for all biblical sins to be outlawed. If we were to become a Southern Baptist nation, for example, we could abolish gay marriage, homosexuality, adultery, divorce, remarriage, breaking the Sabbath, worshipping other gods, alcohol consumption, secular music, and dancing. Then we will have ridded America of all evil (supposedly). We will also have given non-Christians (and even Christians who are not Southern Baptists) every reason to hate Christianity. Their chances of loving God will be about the same as us loving Allah if we were all forced to wear burkes and obey Islamic law.

If we force Christian religious laws upon non-Christians, we will destroy Christianity in America. People will hate us, because we are the persecutors. As more and more Americans avoid Christianity, Christianity will cease to be the majority religion. Once that happens, those who resent the faith just might persecute it. And then a day may come when Christians are forced to obey the laws of some other religion. Or perhaps they will be banished to the shadows. My point is what goes around comes around. So we need to have some empathy for others, because we may someday find ourselves in a position similar to the one we have them in now.

How abolishing Obamacare will hurt small businesses

As year one of Obamacare has come and gone, liberals haven’t failed to notice that it did not destroy the economy, as Republican pundits and politicians had long predicted. Now, of course, Republicans will likely counter that the reason the economy has not yet been destroyed is that Obama postponed the employer mandate until 2015 for businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to those employees. They’ll likely argue that this added expense to employers will be too much for small businesses and, in turn, destroy those businesses and the jobs they create.

It’s fair to say that some medium to large-sized businesses will indeed be hurt by this, but most businesses that have a lot of employees already offer health insurance to those employees, so most businesses will see little difference. The reality about economics is that all solutions, even choices to implement no solutions at all, result in some winners and some losers. In no economic solution does everyone win. But with Obamacare, it’s the small businesses that win.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a restaurant chain, like Denny’s, has to raise prices to help pay for employee healthcare. Doing so will indeed put them at a bit of a competitive disadvantage. But with whom will they have trouble competing? Will it not be the small, locally-owned restaurants with fewer than 50 employees who need not pay for employee health insurance? So then Obamacare actually helps small businesses compete with the large corporate chains that have been eroding their business for decades. Obamacare actually gives small businesses the chance to fight back against the big corporations. So it’s only natural that the Republicans Party, which is controlled by the corporate wealthy, would oppose it.

But even if Obamacare hurts some individual businesses, it won’t hurt the economy as a whole, because it is consumer spending that creates jobs. As long as the customer demand remains strong, businesses will pop up to take advantage of that demand. If giving low income workers healthcare gives them more personal spending money (since they no longer have to pay as much out of their pocket for their own healthcare), then they can spend more money buying goods and services from other companies, which, in turn, creates jobs in those industries. The employer mandate in Obamacare actually transfers money from the hands of corporate chains, whose owners tend to hoard their riches, to low-paid employees who spend almost all of their limited income in the economy, which is great for our nation overall.

And let’s not forget that this growing consumer demand, combined with the advantages that Obamacare gives small businesses, will create unprecedented new opportunities for brand new small businesses to prosper, since small restaurants will have a better chance than ever to compete with the big chains and have success. Although, it always helps if they offer some really good food, which will certainly give them an advantage over Denny’s.

And it gets even better.

Obamacare also creates advantages in the labor market for small businesses. Up until this past year, small businesses really had no shot at recruiting employees who insisted on having employer-provided health insurance. Millions of Americans, including those who already work for big corporations, cannot obtain health insurance on their own due to their pre-existing conditions (most of whom are not too sick to work, but have minor health issues and can no longer be insured– I am one of these people). So small employers who didn’t offer insurance to their employees couldn’t hire these people. This made the labor pool a whole lot smaller for small business owners than it did for corporations. From a salary perspective, this gave the corporations an advantage. They could pay workers who were desperate for employer-provided health insurance less money than they otherwise would have had to, because the employees had fewer employment choices.

Contrary to Republican claims that Obamacare inhibits our freedoms, it turns out that it actually increases them. People with pre-existing conditions (like myself) are now free to escape enslavement to corporations and become self-employed or employed by small businesses, while small businesses now have a bit more of a competitive advantage over corporations in the labor market.

This fact makes me wonder whether the corporate wealthy folks who control the Republican Party hate Obamacare because of these freedoms. They might prefer that we all have no choice but to work for them if we want health insurance. So by repealing Obamacare, they’ll tighten their control over employees’ live and increase their competitive advantage over small businesses. Americans will then become fully-dependent on the corporations. As I like to say, the Republican Party doesn’t protect our freedoms; it protects corporations’ rights to take our freedoms away. Their plan to repeal Obamacare is the perfect example.

Republican doomsday predictions have proven they know absolutely nothing about economics

I’m puzzled as to why this is, but for as long as I have been alive, the Republican Party has been viewed as the party that knows economics. I think it’s because they are the party of the wealthy, so a much higher percentage of their members are economics-minded. Those who have a lot of money tend to think about money the most. Those who lack money tend to think about happier things than the fact that they have no money. Those who love and obsess over money are the ones most drawn to the Republican Party, so the party, in kind, tells them what they want to hear. This reality creates the illusion that Republicans understand economics; while Democrats are merely bleeding-heart liberals who are naïve about the harsh economic realities of the world.

So I can understand how many people initially see the Republicans as the economics party, but I’m puzzled as to how these people continue to think this, as Republican ideology is repeatedly disproven over time. The Republicans have been dead wrong about nearly every economic prediction they’ve made over the last few decades.

It started with the Clean Air Act of 1991 (passed by a Democratic Congress, but signed by George H.W. Bush), which was to burden businesses with overwhelming regulations and ruin the economy. There’s a reason Republicans are always wrong about this sort of thing. When a power plant is required to make changes to their facilities in order to accommodate environmental regulations, they must pay someone to design, implement, and maintain such technology. This creates business to business transactions within the economy, which creates jobs and is good for the economy. Republicans act as if money spent on regulations is simply taken out of the economy, that there is a cost to the economy, but no benefit. And that is simply untrue.

Next, Republicans promised that Clinton’s tax increases on the rich would bring about economic Armageddon. Again, they treated it as if taxes took money from the economy, when the truth is that taxation of the wealthy in a high-disparity economic system simply redistributes wealth from those who hoard it to those who spend it in the economy, which then creates jobs. The 1990s went on to be the most economically-successful decade in U.S. history – the only decade in which the nation spent less than a years in recession, and that recession happened under Bush in 1991.

Of course, economic doomsday did finally arrive, but it did so after 7-8 years of Republican policy under the George W. Bush administration. Banking deregulation from the 1980s and 90s allowed banks to take chances with their depositors’ money, become too big to fail, and bring down the economy when their risk-taking blew up in their faces. But as we got back on the road to recovery, Republicans prophesied that economic doom was just around the bend. First, it was the Fed’s expansion of the money supply, known as quantitative easing, that was to ignite hyper-inflation, in which the dollar would become worthless, and only those who were smart enough to sock away all of their money in gold would survive. Yet, 5 years later, inflation is still around 2%. At the end of 2012, Obama allowed the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire. This, too, was to destroy the economy. And, of course, the onset of Obamacare in 2014, was sure to ruin us all. Yet here we are, heading into 2015 having just had our best job growth year since the 90s. Republican doomsday predictions have been wrong every single time.

Yet, Republican voters seem to forget these predictions as soon as they are disproven. It really makes me wonder if there’s a large percentage of our population that simply doesn’t have functioning memories. One of the reasons humans have memories is to warn us of danger. If we have a bad experience with something, we remember next time not to trust that thing. Yet, Republican voters keep trusting those who have misled them. Rather than use their memories, they eagerly believe the next cry of doom, because it’s what they want to hear.

It seems the only economically-related thing that Republicans can (or care to) remember is that Reagan supposedly saved the terrible economy he inherited in 1981. Republicans like to think that Reagan’s tax cuts fixed the whole thing. Of course, Reagan’s tax cuts didn’t hurt the economy, because they were not matched by cuts in spending, so that added money to the economy, and that never hurts in the short term. But in the long run it hurts, because Reagan’s fiscal policies increased the national debt by 189% during Reagan’s 8 budget years, the worst of all time. But what most people fail to realize is that the high inflation of the late 1970s was fixed by Carter-appointed Fed Chairman Paul Volcker when he raised interest rates sky high, which took all of the excess money out of the economy, thanks to people saving more and spending less due to the high rates. Once inflation was defeated, then the interest rates were lowered. Their job had been finished. The high oil and gas prices fell, not because of anything Reagan did, but because more countries began to produce oil after the OPEC fiasco of the 1970s. So there was nothing that Reagan did that fixed the three biggest economic problems of the time. But since few people know of such details, they give Reagan the credit. They then proceed to forget that the Reagan-Bush era ended with a sharp 1991 recession that resulted in unemployment rates as high as 8% in 1992.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll go no further with economic arguments here in this blog post. I could get into how high tax capitalist countries fare better than low tax nations, but that would require charts, etc. and a much longer article. If you want to see all of that, you’ll have to read the taxation chapter in my book, “Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason”, for which you can find a link to buy on the “My Books” page of this site.

Rebuking Huckabee 12/30/14 – Special Edition: Response to Huckabee’s Fake Bible Quotes

Since Huckabee’s show this past week was an interview with millennials rather than his usual monologue, I decided to do a special post rebuking Huckabee’s post on his website blog called, “Obama’s Version of the Bible.” Apparently, Obama made a gaffe in saying, “The Good Book says don’t throw stones at glass houses,” which, of course, is not in the Bible, and it’s not the correct wording of the quote. Huckabee took advantage of this as an opportunity to make up fake Bible quotes intended to make fun of Obama, but that actually serve the purpose of leading them astray. (You can see the whole post at http://www.mikehuckabee.com/mike-huckabee-news?ID=43f29d89-811e-41f9-9f31-2e0b591d51eb ). Here’s my response to the governor that I posted on his blog (Of course, a few hours after I posted it, a hacker took down my web site access page and then disabled my video software. Maybe it was a coincidence, but it seems strange that this never happened until right after I started posting weekly on Huckabee’s site, and that it was only my means of getting the message out that was attacked):

Gov. Huckabee,

That was quite a creative endeavor that you embarked on, twisting all of those Bible verses. You must have a lot of experience at that. I do, however, have a few corrections to make on some things in this post, so that hopefully you will be better informed next time you try something like this.

1) As for your quote that, “The actual saying goes like this: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Democrats never seem to get the wisdom of this advice, because they love to accuse others of doing the very things they blatantly do.”….. I love the layers of irony in your statement, since your accusation against them is true of yourself and your party. For example, Republicans such as yourself accuse the Democrats of out-of-control spending, while any examination of a year-by-year chart of total federal outlays shows that Reagan increased spending an average of 6.5% per year, Bush 41 increased it 5.5% per year, Clinton only 3.5%, Bush 43 a whopping 7.5%, and Obama less than 4% per year. Looks like you’ve got a lot of glass to clean up, Governor!

2) You stated: “Incidentally, this isn’t the first time the President has tried to use the Bible to support his political ends. But he’s always gotten it wrong. Here are some examples:”
“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God…well, just give it all to Caesar.”…. Actually, Obama doesn’t even want anyone to give half to Caesar, he just realizes that taxes must be high enough to pay the nation’s bills so we don’t reach debt doomsday, when the nation can no longer borrow money and have to hyper-inflate its currency. Since Bush and his Republican Congresses of six years increased spending at an average rate of 6.58% per year while cutting taxes (our debt grew 102% during Bush’s tenure), it’s going to take tax money to cover that, and it makes the most sense to tax the rich who needlessly receive all of those loopholes and subsidies from the Republicans that run up the debt.

3) You stated: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was mine, and the Last Word is my executive order.” Did you ever notice how recent executive orders are numbered in the 14,000s? That’s because over 14,000 of them have been issued since Lincoln. Obama is on pace to issue about 250 of them. There are 22 presidents who have issued more executive orders on a monthly basis. Perhaps you might want to educate your audience on history instead of making accusations unsupported by history.

4) You stated: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man receiveth health care coverage except by Me.”….This quote would be better attributed to the corporations. Without Obamacare, millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions have no choice but to be enslaved to corporations if they want healthcare, and the corporations can get away with giving them low pay, since they have no other choice but to accept low pay in exchange for healthcare. Obamacare care gives those people the freedom to become self-employed, work for small businesses who don’t offer healthcare, or retire early. Corporations don’t want that, because then they have to offer better pay to compete for workers.

5) You stated: “And ye shall be kept from the truth, and the ignorance will make you free.”….The throwing of stones in glass houses couldn’t apply more than it does here. For example, on your show this past week, you mentioned Warren’s frustration over the spending bill, saying she wanted to “break the banks,” but failed to educate your audience of the Republican lifting of the ban on tax payer funded bailouts for risky derivative speculation that Warren was really mad about. Keeping your audience ignorant and distracted seems to be the whole purpose of your show!

6) And finally, you stated: ““I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, sayeth Me, which is and which was, and which is to come, at least until Iran gets The Bomb.”…That one is really pretty weak, but it scares me about what will happen when if you, or any Republican, becomes president. You’re already making the case for war with Iran, a country whose only reason to hate us is that we overthrew their government, installed a puppet dictator who served our interest and oppressed his people, and then when they rebelled, we armed Saddam Hussein so his invasion of them would be successful. Now Republicans are making the case for another invasion. Three trillion dollars and 50,000 dead Americans later, Iran’s oil fields will belong to the oil companies, just as they now do in Iraq. Worse than Iran getting the bomb, however, is North Korea getting it because they are run by a crazy… wait! They already obtained nukes in 2006! And Bush did nothing to stop them, because they don’t have oil! And yet we are all still here! Is Republican Mideast policy serving God or money? I think the answer is pretty clear.

Why the Republican “Obamacare Funds Abortion” lie should not deceive Christians

As the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress while simultaneously bringing yet another anti-Obamacare case before the Supreme Court, conservative Christians are regaining their enthusiasm for abolishing the Affordable Care Act. And the leading cry in their cause is that “Obamacare Funds Abortions.” The Republican pundits and politicians have pounded into Christian minds for a few years now that a vote for national healthcare is a vote to kill babies.

This confusion can be resolved with one very simple solution: reading the law. If you go to pages 65-67 of the Affordable Care Act (sec. 1303 & 1304), you’ll see that it goes to great length to make it clear to everyone that the ACA is abortion neutral. It says that states are free to make laws that prohibit insurance companies from covering abortion. It says that the ACA does not require any insurance company to cover abortion. And it says that it has no effect on state and local laws that address abortion. Yet, despite all of these facts, the Republican politicians and pundits have convinced millions of Christians that Obamacare funds abortions.

What many ACA opponents fail to realize is that there is no such insurance company or entity as Obamacare. Rather, insurance companies like Blue Cross and Aetna offer insurance plans that meet the criteria required by the ACA, which do not include abortion coverage. For example, my Obamacare card says “Independence Blue Cross” on it. Blue Cross provides the insurance as they always did. But now I am able to be self-employed and have insurance that I could not otherwise get due to pre-existing conditions.

Republicans feel they can technically get away with saying that the ACA funds abortion, because some insurance companies who now offer insurance that meets ACA guidelines have been covering abortion services as a part of their plan all along. They covered it before the ACA was passed, and they continue to cover it, because the ACA is abortion neutral and has not barred any insurance company from covering it, nor has it encouraged or required any insurance companies to cover it.

What anti-Obamacare abortion opponents fail to realize is that many of them were personally funding abortion before the ACA was passed. For example, if an employee had an insurance company through their employer, and they had to pay 25% of the premium, and that insurance company covered abortions under some of their plans, then that employee funded abortions through their premiums paid to the insurance companies. This was something that their employer was effectively forcing them to do (unless they chose not to accept the benefit of health insurance, which few people do), not the government. As I like to say, Republicanism is the idea that tyranny imposed by government is evil, while tyranny imposed by corporations is freedom. The Religious Right was fine with the fact that Christians were personally funding abortions through their insurance companies, as long as there was no government funding involved. But now that the government is helping some people pay for their health insurance, suddenly the Religious Right is in an uproar about it. This is because it’s the corporate wealthy who control the Republican politicians and pundits.

So the next time a Christian tells you that Obamacare must be abolished because of abortion, you may just want to get their email address and send them a link to this article.

How the Republican Party has Removed “Turn the other cheek” from Christianity

Many people today forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, the leader of the peaceful resistance civil rights movement of the 1960s, had another title to his name: “Reverend.” His call to non-violent protest in the face of sometimes violent opposition wasn’t just a political tactic; it was a religious conviction that can be found at the heart of Christianity. It’s rooted in Jesus’ statement, “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.”

I believe there are reasons that Jesus gave us this instruction other than that it is simply the right thing to do. One of those reasons is that it prevents the escalation of conflict in which each side feels it must seek revenge for the opposing side’s most recent attack. The other reason is that turning the other cheek leads others to embrace the faith. When people remain peaceful in the face of violent opposition, onlookers see the non-violent victims as righteous and those who impose violence on others as evil. This is how the persecution of non-violent Christians grew the faith in Ancient Rome and in 1800’s Africa. But if both sides trade violence back and forth, pretty soon the world forgets who started it and struggles to see either side as being righteous. This is what has happened to the United States in the War on Terror.

I know that conservatives will be quick to say that it’s impractical for us not to defend ourselves, and I agree. I agree that our only answer to Pearl Harbor was to force Japanese surrender, because Japan would otherwise have continued to expand its power and attack us again. I believe that when the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda, that it was right for us to defeat them and fight back against Al Qaeda. They declared war on us, so we have no choice but to fight that war. But the invasion of Iraq and the torture of Al Qaeda detainees goes beyond defense of a nation; both are examples of all out revenge and one-ups-man-ship.

When Al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, the world’s heart went out to the United States. All of the other countries who were preparing bids for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games vowed to drop their bids in favor of New York City if NYC submitted one. They changed their minds when the U. S. invaded Iraq. Most of the world understood that, for once, we were the invaders, not the victims. And now with the torture of detainees, we have shown again that we are not merely content to defend ourselves, but that we insist on brutalizing those have or might have harmed us, not just for a day, but for months and years on end. It’s as if, in both cases, the Bush Administration wanted to show that if you mess with us, we won’t just defend ourselves, but we will pay you back with 100 times the anger and fury.

Unfortunately, Evangelical Christians, who are predominantly Republican these days, have been taught by the Republican Party that vengeful one-ups-man-ship is synonymous with Christianity. And this doesn’t just pertain to opinions on foreign policy, but it also pertains to guns.

I recently learned of a church in my area in which the staff and many of the members carry handguns to church. As a person who has been active in some pretty conservative denominations over the last 25 years, I was shocked to hear this. I have never in all of those years gone to a church where people brought guns to Sunday service. But that was before the Republican pundits and politicians convinced Christian Republicans that the president was going to take away all of their guns (even though neither the president nor any Democratic Party leaders have proposed such a thing). When I asked why so many people bring their guns to church, I was told it was because “Something might happen.” Well, I agree that anything is possible, and I can see how the increase in school shootings in recent years might increase paranoia, but I wonder whether such an action is Christian.

This brings us back to Martin Luther King. He led a movement of unarmed people who KNEW they were likely to be hurt or even killed, yet they chose to be unarmed. They employed peaceful resistance, were therefore seen by society as the righteous victims, and the nation rallied to their cause. Likewise, if we were to enter an age in which those who hated Christianity started to open fire in church services, Christians would be seen as the victims, and America would rally to their cause. But if Christians get gun happy and are not attacked, but instead use their guns to shoot others in church with whom they have a dispute (maybe over Obama), or they shoot someone they think is dangerous but is actually unarmed, then the word will get out to the world that the church is a dangerous place, and onlookers will see Christians as violent and will reject the faith, staying away from churches out of fear of being shot. Then Jesus’ quote from Matthew 26:52, “for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword,” will become “all churches who live by the gun will die by the gun,” not literally, of course, but figuratively in that churches will be seen as violent rather than as peaceful and will fall even more out of public favor than they already are.

I know what I’m about to say may be difficult for the causal Christian to grasp, but devout students of the Bible and church history know that thousands upon thousands of Christians have been put to death for their faith over the years. This includes Jesus himself. He did not try to kill those who came for him and he instructed those who wanted to violently resist not to do so. In fact, the book of Acts says that those who suffered beatings for their faith rejoiced that they suffered as Christ did. Suffering at the hands of those who hate Christians has been at the core of the faith for 2000 years. If someone enters your church and kills you because you’re a Christian (which would most likely be the reason they are entering a church with the intent of killing people), you have the honor of joining the ranks of thousands of saints, including Jesus’ own apostles, who were killed for their faith. Everyone must die, but to die as a result of religious persecution is something that the Bible honors in the book of Revelations. This is not the same as Muslims dying in Jihad, because they die while trying to kill others in war, not by refusing to kill or hurt those who might kill them. So to bring guns to kill anyone who might threaten you or your congregation is out of step with the history of Christianity.

Of course, I know deep inside that the increase in the number of gun-toting churchgoers really has little to do with the fear of a mass murderer entering the church with guns-a-blazin’. It has more to do with making the political statements that “You can’t take away my gun, because my possession means more to me than anything else” (an attitude rooted in greed) and, “You can’t tell me that I can’t take my gun anywhere I want,” (an attitude rooted in pride) that’s really all about forcefully imposing your will on others to show that no one had better mess with you, or you’ll show them! That’s pretty much how Republican politicians, from Ronald Reagan to Chris Christie, lead. And that’s the very opposite of turning the other cheek.

Rebuking Huckabee 12/14/14

Good morning Gov. Huckabee,

You started your show by criticizing the spending bill just passed by the house. You said Republicans were mad because it was a lot of money, but then you said the Democrats, namely Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi, were upset that the spending bill “didn’t crush the banks”. And then you said that “breaking the banks doesn’t grow the economy or create jobs.” And then, surprisingly, that’s about all you had to say on the matter.

Your response is quite a distortion of the truth as well as a massive omission of the truth. Elizabeth Warren did not say in her speech that she wanted to “crush the banks”; she said she felt that Dodd-Frank fell short, because it should have broken the banks into pieces. She then made a reference to Teddy Roosevelt, the famous trust-buster. She wanted to break the big banks up like the government broke up AT&T in the 1980s, not destroy them. In other words, she doesn’t want the banks to be so large that we have no choice but to bail them out to save the economy as a result of them controlling so much of the economy and the government that we have no choice. Citigroup writing this part of this legislation is proof of how much power the banks have over our government.

And that brings us to an even more important point, which is how you completely failed to tell your audience that Citigroup used the Republican Party to include a last minute repeal of the part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that made it illegal for big banks to receive tax payer funded bailouts if they use their depositors’ money to speculate in risky derivatives investments that make their owners rich in the short-term, but are bound to go bust eventually, causing them to lose their depositors’ money and threaten to destroy the economy as their banks career toward collapse. In other words, the Republicans just moved to set our economy on course for another bailout of the banks and possible economic collapse. This is further proof (as if I needed any more proof) that the Republicans don’t GOVERN America; they EXPLOIT America for the sake of the corporate predators they serve. You omitted this, and I’ve noticed that other Fox News programs have done the same. This really shows how UNFAIR and UNBALANCED you and your network are and how you serve money rather than God. (Jesus made it clear you cannot serve both).

As for your complaint that the Democrat-led CIA torture investigation cost tens of millions of dollars and was politically motivated, well…now you know how Democrats felt about Benghazi. The difference between the two is that the CIA investigation yielded hundreds of startling revelations while the Benghazi witch hunt yielded absolutely nothing.

Having one of the culprits, retired CIA man Gary Bernstein, on your show didn’t help. His demeanor was very intense and aggressive, like someone who would use brutal force on other humans without flinching. He was also quite defensive and agitated, like he was under the heat lamp himself. He couldn’t have conducted himself in more of a guilty manner. You would think a CIA guy would be better at pulling something like that off. Yes, he was disappointed that investigators didn’t interview those in the CIA who were guilty of torture. So it was like a trial when the accused takes the 5th. But it’s not like those being interviewed were going to tell the truth about their own evil deeds, anyway. It’s not like the CIA has ever been known for its honesty or accuracy (Iraq WMD’s ring a bell?)

Also, you made the excuse in favor of torture that our being scared after 9/11/2001 justified it. I disagree. There’s a reason Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, and I think that reason is that non-aggressive behavior shows the world who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. When we use the excuse that our enemies attacked us on a single day to torture and abuse them for months on end, we prove ourselves to be as bad as our enemies. Yes, maybe their tactics differ from ours, both qualify as vengeful brutality, not as self- defense. And it’s that kind of vengeance that Jesus prohibited for us Christians.

Why we need a strong federal government to protect us from local government tyranny.

If you’ve spent even a small amount of time discussing politics with conservatives, you’ve been told that we need to beware of the tyranny of the federal government, and that we must transfer their power to state and local governments in order to avoid such tyranny. As the gun debate has heated up in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Republicans have told me that the reason we need to keep an abundance of assault weapons that can kill 15 people in 15 seconds legal is because we may need them someday to fight off a tyrannical federal government.

Apparently, many Republicans envision a future in which the Democrats will embark on an apocalyptic invasion of the American people that resembles a scene from Schindler’s List. This notion has become especially popular since Barack Obama has been elected as our first black president with a Muslim name. However, such an invasion hasn’t happened in any well-established, democratic nation that possesses a system of checks and balances, not here, and not in Europe either. The U.S. Government invading its own people is pretty far-fetched.

What is not far-fetched, however, is the tyranny of local and state governments. And we have seen this tyranny rise up again in recent weeks. Republicans tend to think that because the federal government is large that it is therefore more tyrannical. The truth is that local government leaders and law enforcers can kill you or falsely imprison you just as easily as the federal government can, and our history shows that they do it far more frequently. Over the past few weeks, we have seen that cops can kill unarmed, non-threatening black men and not even be tried for a crime. For those who have been around for a long time or who know their history (which is, sadly, few people) this was the norm in the American South for nearly two centuries; it is nothing new.

In Cleveland, and possibly in New York, the federal government will now step in and try to straighten out the situation if it’s not already too late. This situation reminds me of the Freedom Riders who, in 1961, were victims of a conspiracy by the KKK, the Birmingham city government, and the Birmingham police department to attack and even kill these civil rights demonstrators as they passed through the city on a bus on the way to a rally in New Orleans. The KKK attacked them on multiple occasions, while the police looked the other way, before JFK threatened to unleash federal troops on Alabama if the state didn’t put a stop to the situation. The KKK was powerful enough to corrupt the city and state governments of the South, but not big enough to corrupt the federal government.

It turns out that local and even state governments are more easily controlled by special interests and corporations than the federal government is (although they are not immune, as corporate power has grown more powerful than the federal government in some cases). In fact, it was the coal companies who influenced the Luzerne County (PA) sheriff’s department to slaughter 19 unarmed, non-threatening strikers in the Latimer Massacre of 1897 and who influenced the Colorado state government to slaughter 25 family members of striking miners in the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. And these are just the human rights examples. I haven’t even begun to give examples of how big business has corrupted legislation to make small government work for them and against the interests those struggling to survive. I detail those examples a bit more in my book, “Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason.”

Nonetheless, our history is clear: Tyranny is worst when democracy fails to carry out the will of the voters. And that is usually the result of wealthy, powerful people manipulating small government to their advantage. They want government to be small, so they can overpower it. But they need you to vote for those who hate and want to destroy government in order for that to happen. Sometimes, the only safeguard “we the people” have against such tyranny is appealing to a strong federal government that is too large to be controlled by local and regional powers. Of course, this federal government can become just as dangerous if we vote for politicians who are servants of large corporate power. But otherwise, we have no reason to fear a strong, powerful democracy unless that democracy is controlled by non-democratic forces.

Rebuking Huckabee 12/6/14

[Every week, Fox News host and former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee invites those who have viewed his weekly program, “Huckabee,” to comment on his most recent episode on his web site. I love to oblige and give him some reading material. Since I have a blog, I figured why not share these comments with my readers. So I’ve created a category on my blog called “Rebuking Huckabee.” Since Mike Huckabee is a former pastor, many Christians see him as the truly Christian candidate and therefore embrace his politics as being one-and-the-same as Christianity. I believe that Huckabee uses his position to lead more Christians astray than anyone else in the world, and that’s why I go out of my way to refute his deceptions.]

[What I have posted below is simply my response to his show as I’ve directed toward Mike Huckabee. To get more of a background on what I am talking about, you would have to watch the show, which is fine with me, because I always support people listening to both sides of an argument. Nonetheless, the average reader should have little trouble figuring out what kind of statements I’m replying to in each point I make.]

12/6/14

Nonsense right from the top of the show. China being the largest economy isn’t so alarming when you consider that they have four times our population. Anyone with the most basic understanding of economics would take this into consideration. On a per capita basis, they are nowhere near as large as us.

As for you blaming debt on Obama and saying he created debt that’s nearly “double what it took the first 43 presidents to create”, the truth is the debt under him is on pace for an 83% increase over his 8 budget years compared to 102% for Bush and 189% for Reagan (the all-time high). Again, if you go by total dollars instead of percentage of increase, the most recent president will always have the highest debt numbers and spending numbers due to population, inflation, and production growth. You’re preying upon people who have absolutely no economic common sense and are leading them to erroneous conclusions.

You lied about Obama wanting to have the highest corporate tax rate. He has stated that he wants to lower it to 25%. Why doesn’t Congress call his bluff and pass it all by itself with no strings attached? Because they don’t want him to get the credit for it. By the way, the corporate tax under Eisenhower was 55%, and the economy did quite well.

The business owner on your show (William Marsh) opposing OSHA was an excellent example of someone who had no regard for his employees but only cared about his wealth. He showed no remorse for continually exposing his workers to what he called “a loud and difficult environment” of “91 decibels” (it takes a lot less than that over time to damage hearing), because his lust for money meant more to him than worker health. The money he paid for upgrades went to other companies in the economy and did not kill jobs from a macroeconomic perspective, nor did it cost his employees their jobs. But it did cost him some money, and that’s what’s inexcusable to the corporate wealthy. All he was willing to pay for were one cent ear plugs, but all of us who have worked in factories know it’s uncomfortable to have them stuck in your ear canal all day every day (plus excessive uses leads to wax impaction and infections), so we have a tendency to take them out when we can. The fact that this guy wouldn’t pay more than a cent for the sake of employee health (he said he was upset that OSHA forced him to pay for employee hearing tests on company time) shows just how greedy the corporate wealthy are and how it makes their blood boil to spend more than a cent for employee health.

The whole Jonathan Gruber situation you discussed is just a Republican set-up from a RomneyCare creator who is obviously a Republican who wants to win one for the Republicans. It’s just an attempt from the Republicans to con Americans into thinking that those who created Obamacare were out to destroy America.

As for the Little Sisters of the Poor, they are not being forced to provide contraceptive “drugs and devices” to others; they are just being forced to provide health insurance coverage that gives the option to employees who believe differently to follow those beliefs. If all of their employees are nuns who don’t use birth control, then they will not be providing birth control for anyone.

Democrats vote their hopes; Republicans vote their fears; and that’s why Democrats lost

In recent months, one of the most common memes I’ve seen making its way around Facebook is the slogan, “Democrats vote their hopes; Republicans vote their fears.” If this is true, then it explains why Democrats lose mid-term elections, especially in recent years.

The truth is that the Republican Party has figured out how to win elections, and a big part of their strategy is fear-mongering. Republicans have convinced gun owners nationwide that Democrats want to take all of their guns away, even though the Democrats have proposed nothing more than common sense background checks and a reduction in the numbers of bullets in an assault rifle clip. Even worse, many of them have been convinced that President Obama plans to take their guns away by force through military action unauthorized by Congress. Meanwhile, a significant percentage of Americans believe that President Obama will declare himself dictator and take over our country , rounding up political opponents and locking them away (or worse), just like Hitler did. And of course, they get these ideas from the pundits at Fox News who, for the past six years, have been trying to equate Obama’s actions with Hitler’s in every way imaginable, no matter how absurd the comparison or how little evidence they have to support their claims.

As the 2014 midterms approached, Republican politicians spread the fear that ISIS was about to “come here and kill us all,” in the words of Senator Lindsay Graham, despite the fact that the president has aggressively pursued ISIS and halted their expansion in the Middle East. Worst of all, Republican media used the Ebola crisis to convince a large percentage of Americans that the Democrats were content letting us all die from Ebola. Of course, sensible people can already see that Ebola is about as non-contagious as a contagious disease can be in a country with sanitary conditions and universal indoor plumbing. The president has been proven the sane one, as he assured Americans that there was little to fear, while the Republican pundits proved to be the reincarnation of Chicken Little.

Nonetheless, the sad truth is that these fears influence people’s decision to vote much more than hopes do. Hopes for the future often seem distance and imaginary. Even the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2009, took nearly five years to implement. But fears of a hostile government takeover or a deadly disease running out of control seem like they could happen at any moment.

But if fear wins elections, the Democrats should not lose hope; rather, they should change course. The harsh reality is that political campaigning is a dirty business, and if your competition is winning with fear-mongering, you just might have to do it, too. The great news for the Democrats is that there’s plenty to fear if Republicans take total control of the federal government in 2016. Here are a few examples:

Debt doomsday and the Great Inflate: Both of these terms are of my own creation. According to the book, White House Burning, by former International Monetary Fund Director, Simon Johnson, debt doomsday, a day in which the government will be in so much debt that no one will lend it money, is probably going to occur in the 2040s, if we stay on pour current pace as far as taxing and spending are concerned. But, as Mitt Romney shared in the 2012 election campaign, the Republican plan was to increase military spending by 20% and cut taxes by 20%. He promised that other spending cuts would be made to balance the budget, but he refused to say what those cuts would be, because he didn’t have any significant cuts planned. Republicans know that if they make cuts that hurt to any great extent that they will be voted out of office in the next election. So the Republican plan to cut taxes and increase spending would probable put us at debt doomsday in about 10 years instead of 30. Romney’s plan is was a more drastic version of Ronald Reagan’s plan, and Reagan oversaw a national debt increase of 189% – the worst ever. This makes Obama’s pace for an 83% debt increase look mild.

What happens on Debt Doomsday?

The nation will have to simply print up the money to pay its debts. Mexico did this in 1982, and the result was over 100% inflation 4 years in a row. That means a $4 hamburger costs over $100 in four years. This will undo all that working class Americans have ever worked for, and since the Republicans no oppose the minimum wage, then our workers will earn poverty wages that differ little from those in developing countries.

More invasions: We know from the last election that Republicans are itching to go to war with Iran in the name of keeping them from getting nukes. Yet the real motive is probably that they want to feed tax dollars to the military industrial complex and turn Iran’s oil over to the oil companies, like they did with Iraq. Can we afford another trillion dollar war and thousands more American deaths? That’s something to fear.

Child labor epidemic: This one may not be as immediate, but the formula for a child labor epidemic, like we had in the late 1800s and early 1900s, already exists in popular Republican ideology. First, Newt Gingrich proposed giving children the “freedom” to work if they want to, because government has no business telling them what to do. Second, the Republican Holy Grail is the abolition of welfare, for which they have a seething hatred. Most recipients of welfare are children, so that leaves them with no means of eating (and don’t forget that many Republicans oppose school lunch programs, too), so now children will have no choice but to work for their food. Third, many Republicans, especially of the conservative Christian variety, want to abolish public schools and privatize k-12 education, so that it will become just as unaffordable as college education. This will make it unlikely that impoverished children will have school getting in the way of their long work hours. And finally, the reason child labor is so desirable for the corporate wealthy is that it’s cheap. Republican leaders now oppose the minimum wage, so if they can abolish it or devalue it with inflation, then children can work for the equivalent of a dollar an hour, and that, in turn, will decrease the demand for adult workers so that their wages will fall as well. The end result will be mass poverty, as was the result during the Republican-dominated Gilded Age.

Losing healthcare: And let’s not forget that one thing we can count on Republicans doing, if they take total control, is repealing Obamacare which will leave several million people who have pre-existing conditions (myself included) without coverage so that they lose everything they ever worked for in a health emergency, or they fail to get care at all during the early stages of serious illnesses when there is still hope for recovery.

That’s a lot to fear! Conservatives might argue that some of these concerns are far-fetched. Yet all of these have already happened, not in a totalitarian regime like Nazi Germany, but in this nation under this Constitution (with the exception of debt doomsday, which happened in Mexico). If a slave-like oppression of workers and children happened here before, as it did when Republicans ruled America from 1860-1932, then it’s not at all far-fetched that these things will happen when they take control in the future.

If we Democrats don’t share these fears with society, then society just might be unfortunate enough to live them out. Maybe in the next election, Democrats should vote their fears, so their fears don’t become reality.