An Open Letter to Senator Rubio

First, let me be up front, I am presently supporting Ted Cruz for President. But on the other hand, if you are the Republican nominee, I am not going to have qualms about pulling the lever for you as opposed to the Democratic nominee. But as of this juncture, I still have some serious reservations about you as President. You came to the Senate as a Tea Party candidate, and I thought then that you had a bright future. But I have some problems with some of your stances, and the way you have handled yourself with respect to those positions. Today, I just want to address one of those.

Let’s face it. You changed your stance on immigration when you got to the Senate. Everyone in the room knows it; it’s time to admit it. Look, you got to the Senate as a new member of Congress. You were young, fresh and idealistic. And those in power recognized you as someone with potentially a bright future. Knowing that, they decided they had to get you under control. They whispered sweet nothings in your ear. They offered to bring you into their inner circle. They included you with seven powerful Senators to work on immigration reform. It had to be enticing. It must have made your head swim. You lost sight of what you had promised when you ran for that office.

Senator: I understand that. It would be mighty difficult not to succumb to the pressure and to the lure of that siren song. Who among us hasn’t fallen prey to that kind of temptation in our personal or professional lives? I am totally opposed to the Gang of Eight bill, but I can forgive you for putting it forward. Just admit you made a mistake. Tell us that you blew it and should have stood on your principles. Let us know that you are wiser now because you have learned from that mistake, and you won’t fall for it again. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

But the problem is that you keep trying to explain it away as not being a mistake. Senator, that isn’t genuine. That is pure political malarkey. You are attempting to do a political two-step and dance around this issue. You say that it was the best bill that we could get out of the Senate so that the President wouldn’t do something on his own. You say that you were hoping that the House would change the bill when it got to them (Way to shift that responsibility to someone else to pull your behind out of the fire! Would you accept that type of rationale from one of your kids? “Well gee Dad, I know that I said that I would take out the garbage, but I figured that my brother would do it for me.”) Come on, Senator. We are tired of this kind of political double-speak. You sound like Hillary, or Bill, or Donald.

Listen, everyone makes mistakes. It takes a responsible adult, who can be a leader, to be able to take ownership of those mistakes. For whatever reason, whether based on your own ideas, or those of your campaign advisors, you have decided that the best response to this issue is to try to assert the argument that you didn’t really change your views, and that you took the best course of action. Senator, I am here to tell you that that approach is a loser. It’s not flying with anyone except your campaign staff, and I would bet that it makes some of them uncomfortable.

For those of us who are against immigration amnesty proposals, which makes up the great majority of not only the Republican electorate but the American electorate, your continued assertion of this argument is convincing us that we cannot trust you on this issue. We are afraid that if you get elected you will do exactly what was proposed in the Gang of Eight bill. And your continued assertion of that argument convinces us that we cannot trust you to be true to your promises.

Are you afraid to admit that you made a mistake? We aren’t electing a perfect person; we are electing a human. And as humans, we know we all make mistakes. We all fail. We all make bad decisions.

Let’s bring a lesson here from our shared faith. Do you think you are a better person than the apostle Peter? Forget the denying Jesus three times episode. That’s bad enough. But go back and read Galatians 2. Paul tells the story of when Peter was in Antioch and succumbed to peer pressure when “certain men came from James” (Gal. 2:12 NIV) and stopped eating with Gentiles in the presence of Jews because “he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group” (Gal 2:12 NIV). This was the man who was a strong leader of the early church. This was the man who, according to early church stories, asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t deserve to die like his savior. And he made a bad mistake in judgment because of peer pressure. And those folks really weren’t even his equals.

Senator, please, just admit that you made a mistake. Let us know that you know it. And assure us that you have learned from that mistake. Tell us the truth.  We will respect you more for that. Donald has said that he has never asked for forgiveness, and from what I have heard and read, that is because he never sees himself as having made a mistake. Show us you are different than Donald. Until then you are just being a politician. Here’s hoping you are different.

A Conservative Argument in Support of a Traditional Liberal Arts Education.

“A well-educated populace, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed.”

Forgive my paraphrasing of the second amendment (of which I am also a strong supporter) but I hope that it is effective in getting my point across.

There has been a lot of hand-wringing of late over the state of higher education in the United States. Most of it done for good reason. We have runaway costs spiraling ever more out of control.[i] We have graduates saddled with enormous student load debt who can’t find jobs. And we have an inbred academic culture that is so tilted left that it is out of touch both with reality and with the larger society for whom they are supposedly educating the children.

The events of the past week both at Yale and Missouri highlight the deficiencies of our institutions of higher learning.[ii] In these two situations, among the demands made by the students was for them to have “safe spaces.” They want their universities to be a “home” for them. And in the process of their protests for their “rights” they trampled on the rights of others without even acknowledging what they were doing, or the implications of their actions. You can’t stand there (or at Mizzou… push there) and demand respect for your “rights” if you don’t respect the legally protected rights of others. There actually is a constitutionally protected freedom of the press, which the bullying Assistant Professor of Media at the University of Missouri should both know about and teach. However, there is no constitutionally protected right to be free from being photographed in a public place while engaged in a public protest. There is no right to be free from insults, or offensive remarks, or tasteless jokes.[iii]

On the one hand, these students want to be coddled and protected like children, but on the other, they want us to respect their opinions, voices and choices like adults. Sorry kiddos…. but you can’t have it both ways. Or haven’t you taken logic yet?

From my perspective, as a member of academia for most of my adult life, one of the primary causes of this dysfunction is the failure of our universities and colleges to educate our children with the knowledge, skills and values[iv] that are actually necessary for the functioning of a democratic republic. The traditional liberal arts education which helped foment the seeds of the Glorious Revolution in England, the American Revolution, and the Civil Rights movement[v] has given way to academic navel-gazing and programs and “studies” that no one outside of academia gives two cents about. And most of those “studies” programs are leftist-leaning at best, Marxist at least, and certainly not compatible with, nor conducive to, the furthering and support of a flourishing democratic republic.

And of course, since our institutions of higher education are training the teachers in our primary and secondary schools, it is no wonder that most of our little gems aren’t properly prepared by the time they get to college in the first place. I am thankful that my children got through public schools when there were still enough teachers around who had received a sound, foundational, traditional, liberal arts education. I fear for my grandchildren.

Because of that, many folks on my side of the political spectrum would argue that we should do away with liberal arts education, and just focus on job-specific education. We are wasting time and money on degrees that produce neither informed nor employable graduates. And I agree that many of the degree programs in major universities are superfluous and only exist to provide jobs for faculty who themselves don’t have a marketable skill outside of academia.[vi] But let’s not be too hasty here. I would argue that instead of tossing out the whole concept of a liberal arts education, it would be better to reform higher education and return to the goals of a traditional liberal arts education.

What do I mean by a traditional liberal arts education? It is a broad-based education that encompasses the areas of knowledge that learned people should have in order to understand life, along with the skills to implement that knowledge in order to be successful in life (understanding that success will mean many different things.) As the Director of General Education at my university (Wait a minute, how did a conservative get in that position? Well, that’s a topic for another time.), who just led the Gen Ed committee through a two year process of revising our core curriculum, I think I have some insight into this.

First and foremost, we need graduates/citizens who can think. If people can’t do logical and critical thinking, how do we expect them to make rational decisions for themselves and their country?[vii] In the past, this was often accomplished with a class in philosophy or logic. At our school, we chose to use a course in a natural or physical science and a course in ethics. The goal in the science course is for students to learn the scientific method (hypothesis, experiment, results) and in ethics, the process of logical reasoning. If people don’t understand the rudimentary elements of logic and argument, they will be forever intellectually handicapped, and our republic doomed.[viii]

(It was apparent watching events unfold at both Mizzou and Yale this past week, that the majority of the students and faculty involved in the protests had little, if any, understanding of logical reasoning. As the protests developed, they were little more than emotional tantrums and bullying, not rational arguments.)

Secondly, students need a broad base of fundamental areas of knowledge that are essential to understand life, people, and the world we live in.

  1. History: How can we understand where we are if we don’t know where we came from? I teach at an HBCU[ix], and am appalled at how many of my students have no idea when the Civil War was. Of course, they also don’t know the approximate dates of WWII or the American Revolution, or the Vietnam War. We can’t learn the lessons of history if we don’t know the basics of history.
  2. Religion/Philosophy: No, that doesn’t mean that we want to indoctrinate people into a particular faith, but we do need to understand about belief systems, the differences among them, and the implications of various belief systems. One of the problems with higher education today is due to the enlightenment fallacy that posited that one can think based on pure reason, without any foundational premises. Do you think you can understand our present world situation without understanding some foundational concepts about various world religions? A major obstacle for our political leaders today is that they have no comprehension into the history and teachings of Islam.
  3. Political Science: What’s the purpose of government? How do governments function? What are the benefits and drawbacks of various forms of government? Yes, I realize that students were supposed to learn a lot of this in some high school class, but……
  4. Humanities: Art… Music…Theater… Yes, even though such things don’t fall into the realm of employable skills, don’t we want people to know about the artistic accomplishments of our cultures? And don’t we want that knowledge to broaden their experience? For one thing, such knowledge will help them to understand other people across cultures and time.

Thirdly, we need students who possess some essential skills to make use of their knowledge.

  1. Communication: Students need to be able to write (English classes) and speak (Public Speaking). Naturally, this also involves the use of logic and reasoning. To put together a          coherent argument to support a thesis in either a written paper or an oral presentation            means that one must be able to understand the process of linking premises, inferences,           and conclusions.
  2. Quantitative Reasoning: Yes.. that means math. If people understood math better, maybe they wouldn’t saddle themselves with such huge student loans for a degree in    Gender Studies, and maybe they would understand why we can’t just keep printing   money and raising the debt ceiling.
  3. Technology: This would certainly not be a part of a classic liberal arts education, but if you want to function and communicate in today’s world, you had better grasp the basics. If nothing else, you had better understand how you can search for information online, and             how much others can find out about you. [x]

And of course all of these presuppose reading. Students need to be able to read and understand what authors are saying, what their premises are, and be able to critique their premises, arguments and conclusions. Unfortunately, that is also a skill that is sadly lacking in our education at all levels in the United States.

But, you may argue, don’t most schools have such requirements in their core curriculums? Many do, but the problem is that the requirements have been so watered down and infected with leftist ideologies, that students aren’t actually receiving the foundational knowledge which we need them to have. Instead of learning world or U.S. history, students may take one course on a narrow segmented aspect of history that may be beneficial as a special elective, but does little in preparing them to be a productive, informed citizen. And then the course content is slanted so far to one side that they end up being indoctrinated, not educated.

But as a constitutional conservative, I want a more educated populace, not a more ignorant one. We need a reformation in higher education.  We need educational institutions that benefit society, not ones that benefit only themselves. And as conservatives, we need to push for exactly that type of education.

Higher education institutions are already feeling the pressure of declining enrollments, tightening finances and turbulent times. We need to exert guiding pressure on our state institutions through our legislatures (we do pay the bills) and in public forums, and on private institutions with our donations and support. And of course, for those with college age children, you exert influence with your choice of schools to which you will pay that tuition bill.

And for employers, start looking for graduates from schools which actually produce educated, informed and equipped citizens. In your job interviews with students and in discussions with placement offices, ask about their core curriculum and what students are taught. Tell them what you are looking for in employees and why.

The time is ripe. I am not sure what higher education will look like in twenty years, but I am confident that it won’t be what it is today. In one way or another, if we want our republic to survive, we as constitutional conservatives need to get control of the education of our children. [xi]


[i]  I suggest you read The Higher Education Bubble by Glenn Reynolds for more detail on this.



[iii] This does not mean that I condone racism. I think racists are illogical idiots. However, I think they have a right to be such idiots, as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights others have that are endowed by our creator.

[iv] Others caught in the web of academic assessment will recognize the Holy Trinity of competencies by which all programs are to be measured. So, if it’s good for the goose, let’s see how the gander likes it.

[v] And if you don’t believe that, go back and read the pamphlets, sermons and messages of the leaders and spokespersons of those historical events. They were all people educated in the basic, primary books and skills.

[vi] For example, we don’t need, especially in publicly supported institutions, all of these “specialty” programs that only produce graduates for other university “specialty” programs. (What do you do with a degree in Gender Studies except go on to graduate school to get a job teaching gender studies?)If private institutions want to house such programs, that is on their dime, and if alumni and students want to support those programs with their moneys, that is the free market at work. But state supported institutions are dependent on the taxpayers, and if put to the vote, I would bet my paycheck that those programs would be eliminated.

[vii] It was apparent watching events unfold at both Mizzou and Yale this past week, that the majority of the students and faculty involved in the protests had little, if any, understanding of logical reasoning. As the protests developed, they were little more than emotional tantrums and bullying, not rational arguments.

[viii] Of course, college is not necessary to acquire this skill. Experience happens to be a great teacher.

[ix] Historically Black College or University.

[x] In our university, we also added a foreign language requirement, but this was aimed more at our graduates’ employability in a global society, as well as an understanding of other cultures.

[xi] After finishing this essay, I found a friend of mine on Facebook who had posted an essay from the Washington Post on the state of education in the United States today. The author talked about taking control of the education of his children, and offered some suggestions for what we need to do. It’s worth reading.


The Leftist LGBT Agenda: Tyranny, not liberty.

Remember when the left used to accuse those on the right, especially the Religious Right, of trying to impose their ethics on others? I guess they wanted you to think that their goal was a libertarian country and they just wanted everyone to have individual freedoms to live as they saw fit. Well, think again.

As has become patently obvious over the past few years, those on the left, and especially activists from the LGBT community, are not interested in just having their rights to marry, or to do in their bedrooms what they want. Their goal is not to keep the government out of their bedrooms; their goal is to bring the government crashing down on our businesses, schools and churches. This isn’t a libertarian movement. It is actually a totalitarian, oppressive big government movement. They are telling those on the right, especially the religious right, that we do not have the right to believe what we want and to act on those beliefs, even if the LGBT community is not disenfranchised in any way.  They want to force us to change our views, using the power of the government.

If you think that this will not impact you, you had better wake up. The heat has been turned up on the pot in which this proverbial frog is cooking. If we don’t jump soon, we will be dead. To mix my metaphors, we are well on the way down the slippery slope.

The Threat to Private Businesses

Businesses that refuse to provide specific services to Gays and Lesbians are being prosecuted for their refusals. And recognize that these businesses are not discriminating against all services to Gays and Lesbians, but only certain practices, usually involving same-sex ceremonies, that they think violate their religious beliefs.

Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon lost their shop and are facing huge fines as a result of refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple who were getting married.[i]  And it wasn’t as if this couple couldn’t go up the street to get another wedding cake. The couple wasn’t disenfranchised in any way. The Kleins are not the only bakery in town. If you are gay, why would you want to get a cake from them unless it’s to make a political point?

Jack Phillips who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado was told that he has to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples and to direct his staff to attend diversity training sessions. And this was after Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for the couple but offered to bake them anything else they wanted[ii].  He has also said that he has no problem baking a birthday cake for an LGBT person’s party, but just not a wedding cake because he feels like he would be participating in the ceremony. And just like the Kleins, this isn’t a case in which the couple didn’t have other alternatives. This isn’t about the cake. This is about forcing others to conform to your views. So now, Mr. Phillips has said he will just stop making wedding cakes. [iii]

Elaine Huguenin is a professional photographer who refused to do the photography for a same-sex wedding. She said that “she would happily photograph gay customers, but not in a context that seemed to endorse same-sex marriage.” The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that was not good enough, and that Ms. Huguenin did not have the freedom to make that decision. If she offers her services to the public, then she must serve all the public. [iv]

That decision alone is distressing. Taken to its logical conclusion, that would mean that she would be obligated to photograph people participating in any legal behavior if requested to do so. And please don’t try to argue that courts would never take it that far. They have already gone beyond where we thought they would never go ten years ago. We are sliding down a steeper and ever more slippery slope at an ever increasing speed.

Just this month, the Lexington-Fayette Human Rights Commission announced their decision that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals, a T-shirt company, violated the law by refusing to print shirts for the Lexington Gay Pride parade in 2012. Adamson stated that he refused to print the shirts because of the message conveyed on the shirt, not because of the sexual orientation of the customers.

And this is not the only order that Adamson has refused. Of the thirteen orders he has turned down in the past two years, one of them was for a Christian group because he thought the design, which included blood, was too racy.[v] The ruling, which includes the ever-present condition in these sorts of cases that the employees must undergo diversity training, implies that Adamson cannot refuse any business regardless of his convictions concerning the message conveyed.[vi]

So, if the Westboro Baptist Church asked them to print T-shirts saying that all gays should be executed, do you think the LGBT community in Lexington would be supportive of Mr. Adamson’s business for obeying the recent ruling? This isn’t an issue of freedom and equal access for the LGBT community; this is an attempt to impose their views and beliefs on the rest of us. They want to be free to voice their opinion, but it is clear they do not want those opposed to be able to voice their views. That is where this is heading, and as is evident in the most recent cases, it has already arrived.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford, who own Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany, NY, have been fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $1500 each to Jennifer McCarthy and Melissa Erwin after they refused to rent their farm to the couple for a same-sex wedding ceremony. They did offer to let them use the facility for their reception, but obviously that wasn’t good enough. The Giffords host several birthday parties and about a dozen weddings a year, but because of the ruling, have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their property going forward. The Giffords argued that they live on the premises and as part of the ceremony preparations open up their private residence to the wedding party. The court decided that their privacy and their religious convictions weren’t enough to allow them to choose not to host gay weddings. [vii]The ultimate result of this is a loss of one more wedding venue to couples in the Albany area. It doesn’t mean that gay couples have another place to get married.

There are a growing number of examples of bakers, florists and lodges who have refused their services for same-sex weddings because of their religious convictions. In every case so far, the courts have ruled that these businesses offer their services to the public, and are not exclusively religious, and therefore cannot discriminate based on their personal religious convictions.

I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind all of this. If a company doesn’t want your business, why would you want to force them to take it if you have other options? I can understand the dilemma if they are the only company in an area offering that particular service, but in none of these situations is that the case. If they don’t want to take your money, then go elsewhere. Vote with your pocketbook. And tell your like-minded friends. Instead, the LGBT community is using the club of government to force businesses into (conformity) submission, and in most cases, out of business altogether. And I am not sure that is not the ultimate intent. “If you don’t agree with us, then you are not allowed in this society.” Liberal and tolerant? I don’t think so.

The Threat to Academic Institutions

However, it is apparent that the movement isn’t going to stop there. Earlier this month Gordon College, an evangelical Christian college in Massachusetts, announced that they “will spend the next year studying current campus policies on same-sex behavior.” This is in response to the regional accrediting body, The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) discussion at its September meeting concerning “whether Gordon’s prohibition on “homosexual practice” conflicts with its accreditation standards.” Of course Gordon’s Life And Conduct policy also bans any sexual conduct outside of marriage. [viii]

Gordon College is one of the top evangelical academic institutions in the country. However, for any academic institution, regional accreditation determines your viability. Without it, your degrees become nice pieces of paper, but that’s all. The ability of your students to qualify for government loans and grants is taken away if you lose accreditation. In other words, the NEASC is threatening Gordon with its sledgehammer in an apparent effort to get them to remove part of their distinctive Christian heritage. And if they can do this, there is no limit to what they can force you to do if you want to maintain the coveted regional accreditation.

In the article in Christianity Today, one alum is quoted as saying that “The current policy creates a sense of fear for LGBTQ students and is psychologically harmful to those in the community.” I am sorry, but weren’t you aware of the policy before you applied to Gordon? It’s not like they were hiding it. All of those rules are available for anyone to see. Most students apply to specific colleges because of the majors they offer, the campus life available, and the heritage and perspective of the school. There are plenty of educational opportunities for LGBTQ students in which they will be fully able to do whatever they want to do. Why must folks on the left want to impose their views and lifestyles on others with whom they disagree?

Gordon is not telling you not to come if you are gay. They are just saying that you cannot participate in homosexual practice as a member of the Gordon community. And guess what, if you are straight, but not married, you can’t participate in sexual activities as a member of the Gordon community either.

Almost all Christian colleges have some sort of lifestyle guidelines. Gordon is actually a lot more open than most. Some of them are so tight that they make me cringe. But I don’t want to change them; I just don’t want to teach there. I wouldn’t apply for a position there and then complain because of their lifestyle agreement. Students shouldn’t apply to a Christian school, or any school, and once there complain about the very conditions that make that school unique.

Certainly, if a regional accrediting body can cause Gordon College to reexamine their behavioral conduct policy, then all Christian academic institutions are in peril. As I said, Gordon is one of the top evangelical academic institutions in the country. It’s not their academics that are in question here, it’s their religious beliefs. That is chilling.

The Threat to the Pulpit

Even when states were telling private businesses that they could not refuse services for same-sex weddings, the asserted caveat was that this would never impact churches or ministers because those were specifically religious, and of course the first amendment would protect them. I was never convinced that a government, drunk with the power of ever-increasing encroachments on our freedoms, would stop at that obstacle. Their touted “wall of separation” would suddenly become no more than a speed bump. When the left wants to keep religious views out of government, they want a wall (even without the evidence of history and the writings of the founders on their side). However, when they want to exert the power of government, then religion is forced into the closets of one’s personal life and mind. And yes, I did say closet.

The latest, and probably most egregious, example of this are the actions of the City of  Houston, led by openly lesbian Mayor, Annise Parker, which “has  issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity” or the mayor.[ix] This is all in response to a reaction to a new city ordinance allowing transgendered individuals to use whichever public bathroom facility they wished. Opponents of the new law, including a coalition of over four hundred churches, submitted a petition asking for a public referendum on the ordinance. When the petition was disallowed because of alleged irregularities (in spite of having 50,000 signatures, well over the 17,269 required), a lawsuit was filed pushing for the public referendum.

In response to the lawsuit, the city has now issued those subpoenas for the pastor’s sermons. And the pastors subpoenaed are not even parties to the lawsuit. And it isn’t just sermons. It is all communications with their congregants regarding the new law.

It is apparent that what the city and the Mayor are trying to do here is to intimidate the pastors. They want to portray them as homophobic and as bigots. They want to silence them. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council commented:

This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.[x]

I don’t know who will end up winning this battle in Houston, but I am sure, whatever the outcome, it will not be the last fight. It is certain that preachers who continue to preach the biblical message that homosexual behavior is a sin will be persecuted, and eventually prosecuted. That is the road we are on.

It is certain that states will require that anyone who is authorized to perform wedding ceremonies cannot refuse to perform same-sex weddings. Recently, when the law barring same-sex weddings in North Carolina was overturned in court, a local magistrate, based on his Christian convictions, refused to perform a same-sex ceremony. Now all magistrates have been told that they must “perform civil marriages for same-sex couples or face suspension or dismissal from their state jobs.” [xi]

How far away from this is it for someone to argue that anyone, including a minister, who performs a wedding ceremony, is acting as an officer of the state?  As I argued earlier today in a Facebook post:

If the state supposedly grants the authority to anyone who performs a marriage ceremony to do so, then cannot the state dictate how you carry out that authority? That will mean that any minister refusing to perform same-sex ceremonies will then lose his/her ability to perform any wedding ceremonies, or be charged with a crime. And anyone wishing to get married legally by the state will have to go to a state approved officiant, or not be legally married in the eyes of the state. At that point, churches and ministers will have to decide whom they serve. Personally, for those who have ever been to a marriage which I have officiated, I never say “by the power vested in me by the state of …..” In my view, marriage is under the authority of God, not the state (Go watch Braveheart.); the state just deals with tax and inheritance issues.[xii]

If you think that can’t happen, then you are not paying attention. Our religious and political freedoms are under assault. Those who are attacking us will not be satisfied until they either shut us up entirely, force us to conform to their beliefs and behaviors, or just drive us underground. I don’t like any of those options.

I will not shut up. I will not change my beliefs. And I am not planning on going anywhere. However, I might start performing religious weddings if it came to that without regard to state issued marriage licenses. (Again, I refer to the movie Braveheart.). And it might be that our educational institutions have to spurn secular accreditation in order to maintain their distinctiveness. But recognize folks, that if it comes to that, we will no longer be living in a republic adhering to the United States Constitution. We will no longer be free. It will be a tyranny of the left. And from where I sit, it doesn’t seem like such a long way off.

We are the proverbial frogs in the pan of water, and the heat has been turned on high. Are we going to just swim around oblivious to our surroundings until we boil to death?

As I wrote this, I certainly had second-thoughts about publishing it. I work in academia. That’s not a community very tolerant of the views I have expressed today.  Will I be stirring up a hornet’s nest which will result in me being the one getting stung? Why not just be quiet, keep my head down, and hope to live out my life in peace. But I decided that if I sit here and say nothing, the way things are going, I will end up living in tyranny because the left is surely not interested in allowing us liberty.

Well, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Check out this story in which ordained ministers in Coeur d’Alene are being threatened with legal action if they refuse to perform same-sex weddings. This is being done under the pretense that the ministers operate a wedding chapel that is a for-profit business. Don’t be suckered into that line of reasoning. From the left’s point of view, it doesn’t matter if it’s a for-profit business, or a non-profit church. They will impose their way on us, or drive us out. Again, this is tyranny, not liberty. They are not interested in their freedoms; they are interested in power over us.


[i]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[ii] .  Accessed 10/16/14.

[iii]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[iv]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[v]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[vi]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[vii]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[viii]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[ix]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[x]  Accessed 10/16/14.

[xi]–Gay-Marriage-North-Carolina  Accessed 10/16/14.

[xii]!/jon.c.ham/posts/10152950112136842?notif_t=mention  Accessed 10/16/14.

Why I Am No Longer a Pacifist

It wasn’t like I grew up being a pacifist. I was weaned on John Wayne movies, the television series “Combat,” and the generation of parents who sacrificed so much to thwart the very real attempts of world domination by Hitler and Hirohito. And of course, in our early days, we faced the ever growing threat of communism and the atomic bomb. The idea of pacifism never entered the discussion.
I grew up playing army with my friends, killing and being killed in our make-believe world. I had toy soldiers and toy guns. War was just a part of reality.

But our baby boomer generation (at least my part of it) also went through cataclysmic changes as we questioned authority, lived through social upheaval, and struggled through the morass of the war in Vietnam. I went to college in the fall of 1969 following a summer marked by the moon landing, Chappaquiddick, the Manson family murders, and Woodstock. The times were certainly changing, and with it, my views on war.

But the biggest factor in my changing position on war was the fact that I had become a Christian just two years before. Now, like most people of my generation, I had been raised in a church. But as much as I may have believed in God, religion was not a major factor in how I lived day to day. That all changed when I finally heard the story of Jesus as if for the first time and turned my life over to him. From that point forward, everything in my life was different. I wanted to give my life to Him and dedicate my life to living as He wanted me to.

When you couple that enthusiastic and radical commitment with a youthful society that was questioning their parents’ society, it put many foundational principles up for grabs. And among those foundational principles were the ideas of war, self-defense and killing. In the spring of my freshman year in college, many university campuses across the United States were filled with student protests against the war in Vietnam. Once the tragedy at Kent State happened, the protests became almost universal.

At our college campus, as a student strike began with sit-downs in the academic quad, those of us in the fledgling Christian fellowship wrestled with how we should get involved with the protests. After all, wasn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace? Didn’t Jesus stress non-violence? Weren’t we supposed to turn the other cheek? As our fellow students rejected the religions of their parents, couldn’t we show them a relevant, radical Jesus to follow? A Jesus who was calling them to a radical discipleship, and who could transform their lives?

As we struggled with what we should and could say, we also struggled with how we should live. I grew my hair long, I dressed in the acceptable counter-culture style, and I read and thought deeply, or as deeply as an introspective self-centered twenty-something could.

The point of this paper is not to show you all the arguments about why, as a Christian, one should be a pacifist. It’s not to walk you through the progression of my journey to being a full-fledged pacifist. But let me assure you that I was there. Not because it was rational, or loving, but because I believed that theologically, it was the position that God was calling me to take. It was the position that I believed that all Bible-believing Christians should take.

This wasn’t a superficial position. In later years, I studied under Hauerwas. I read Yoder, including unpublished manuscripts. I even wrote my dissertation on the incoherence of the New Christian Right’s national defense policy with respect to their (and my) evangelical theology. I adopted an Anabaptist perspective on church/state relations and rued the so-called Constantinian shift.

As a professor, I have certainly influenced my Religion majors toward Anabaptist positions regarding the state and war (For how could the church refuse to use violence in defense of itself, but then end up using lethal violence in defense of the state, even against other believers?) And I have shown my ethics students the horrors of war. And horrors there are.

So, how, after all of that, and being so adamantly opposed to the use of lethal violence even in defense of myself, or my own family, have I now reached a position in which I now support the justified use of lethal force?

It’s certainly not connected with a higher view of the state. Because of my view of human nature, I am still skeptical of government, maybe even more so. I have become convinced that an evangelical view of human nature logically leads one to a position in support of limited government. But that’s a topic for another time.

My transformed position is due to a realization of the real and present danger of true evil in our world and just how much pain and suffering that such evil can and does inflict on other humans. And when you or I have the power to stop that evil from inflicting that pain, and we don’t use it, then we cannot say that we are loving, caring people. (And yes, I realize that we cannot stop all the pain, suffering and evil in the world. But we also can’t moralistically “keep our hands clean” and claim that we “did no evil.”)

I teach my students that there are two types of pacifists in the world. The first, which I think are illogical, are those who see pacifism as a potential foreign policy as well as an individual stance. Whether they are leftover hippies from my generation who really believe that if we stick flowers in the guns of invading armies that they will all lay down their weapons and study war no more, or if they are just idealists who have an overly optimistic view of human nature, these folks expect everyone to be a pacifist, in response to their own pacifism. (In my experience, too many of these folks are not very peaceful and loving to those who differ with them politically.) I don’t see this position as one which is coherent logically, nor has it shown any evidence of being practical.

The other type of pacifism is what I called Separatist Pacifism, it is the position of the historic Anabaptist churches, and it is the position I used to hold. From this perspective, adherents don’t really expect people outside their community to either hold their position, or really understand it. Apart from accepting the larger worldview which Anabaptists hold, such a pacifist position doesn’t make a lot of sense. And they don’t expect others to respond in kind to their peaceful stance. They know that they live in opposition to the world, and the world will reject them. They may be persecuted for their beliefs, and they are willing to die for those beliefs, but they are not willing to kill for them. They put their lives in God’s hands.

I respect that position. I held that position. I felt that it was the radical position that God was truly calling all Christians to be in. Were we not supposed to be a community set apart? Were we not supposed to live differently from the world? Were we not supposed to turn the other cheek? Was our Lord not the Prince of Peace?

Look at the first century church. The early church responded to Rome’s persecution without violent resistance, and the church persisted, while the Roman Empire disappeared. And look at the corruption and damage that entered the church when the Empire and the Church joined hands. Surely, the church community was never meant to be so entangled with the state.

And while I agree with the assertions above, those simple statements cannot be asserted outside of a larger theological and historical context.

Certainly, in face of the evil in the world, and centuries of people committing atrocities on each other, the only way that one can coherently adhere to an Anabaptist position is to also believe in an all-powerful God who can and does intervene to save and protect. People can do unspeakable evil to other people. If the church is to be totally pacifistic in the face of such evil, then either the church will disappear from the earth, or the church must depend on other people to protect them, or God must miraculously intervene to protect the church.

The first possibility is not one which makes sense in light of everything else the Bible teaches. The church universal is not going anywhere until the Lord decides it’s time to bring this whole world to an end.

The second possibility is not acceptable in that it appears to depend on other people “sinning” and dirtying their hands with the use of lethal force while not soiling one’s own hands. That means that it only makes sense to be a pacifist if others are willing to do your killing for you.

The last solution was always the one I opted for. I actually do believe in the possibility of God’s miraculous intervention in His world. (I started to write “our world” there, but then realized that this isn’t our world at all, but His. Of course that means His intervention isn’t so supernatural or miraculous at all, but very natural and normal.) And if you are a pacifist, and hold to the Biblical view that the church will remain until the end of time, then you must depend on either God or other forces to keep you around.

“But can’t, and doesn’t, God often use non-believers to implement His will?” Of course. We can see numerous illustrations in the Bible of God using ungodly nations to punish His people. But when God wanted to liberate or protect His people, we see either His miraculous intervention (the Red Sea, crossing the Jordan, Jericho) or the directed empowering of His people to accomplish those ends. I don’t find examples of God’s people successfully relying on non-believers to protect them from other non-believers. And the one example of Israel trying to make alliance with Egypt to protect them from Assyria, didn’t exactly turn out so well for them. (II Kings 17&18)

“But this is the New Testament era now. The ethical demands have changed. The political setting has changed. The church is not to be a political entity like Israel was. The Kingdom of Christ is not an earthly kingdom. We have to beat our swords into plowshares. We have to turn the other cheek.”

However, there is no way to make killing, in and of itself, inherently evil when it is clearly sanctioned in the Old Testament unless you say that God commanded evil. In a perfect world, in the world that God will recreate, there will be no killing, and no need for it. However, we don’t live in that world, and we need to realize that.

I believe that one of the intrinsic issues with pacifism is an over-realized eschatology. That means living in this world as if Christ’s kingdom has been fulfilled. Instead, we live in the in-between times. As Pauline theology makes clear, we live in a kingdom that is here already, but is not yet fulfilled. We long for its completion, but until that day, we must realize that we are still in this world, and we have to deal with the realities of this world.

That does not mean that you lower your ethical standards to survive. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay to sin because we live in a fallen world. But can all killing be called sin when God obviously commanded killing in the Old Testament? That makes no sense to me. God cannot command sin.

But my position did not change so much out of a concern for the survival of the church. I believe that God will complete the work He has begun. But my position changed because of the evil that has been done, and is being done, to powerless people across the world.

What do we say to the Kurdish people who face slaughter today at the hands of ISIS? We will pray for you? Would you encourage me to say that to the hungry person who comes to my door and asks for help and then send her away hungry? What if the answer to that prayer is you/us actually doing something?

When Hitler desired to wipe out the Jewish population, did the Holocaust cease because there were Christians and Jews praying? I believe that that is partly true, but I also believe that the Allied armies were the answer to those prayers. And if that is true, then it makes no sense to say that Christians cannot participate in that answer to prayer.

Now I realize that I may have opened Pandora’s Box here in regards to deciding when lethal force may be used. And I fully understand that any standards we try to develop will be inadequate at best, and susceptible to abuse. (I think that just war theory is no longer, if it was ever, a practical or useful tool for such decisions. But that again is a topic for another time.) But it is irresponsible to sit back and assert that the decisions are too difficult, the possibility of mistakes too strong, and therefore we must not take the chance of choosing wrongly.

Evil will not stop on its own. And evil people will not cease their brutalities, murders, and slaughters on their own. Force, miraculous or natural, must come into play.

When I see these barbarians in Iraq burying people alive, raping women and children, and beheading those that don’t adhere to their specific, and perverted, worldview, it angers and disgusts me. And I do pray for this situation. But if they bring this fight to the United States as they have promised, praying will not be all I will do. And I am fully in support of the United States and other nations using lethal force to stop this evil in its tracks.

This is a clear-cut example of a justified use of force, just as it was in World War Two in the face of Hitler’s evil empire. This isn’t a questionable land dispute, or the battle between two egotistical rulers trying to increase their wealth. And it is because of such cases like this, that I can no longer be a pacifist.

In Matthew 25 Jesus is recorded as saying: For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (NIV Bible:; Accessed 8/26/14)

When I see the suffering caused by evil powers in the persecution and killing of some of the least of these, I think the Lord will say the same thing to us. “What, you wanted to keep your ethical ideals and your hands clean, so you turned away and let these people die? You let evil grow and triumph without regard to innocent life?” How is that not equivalent to the Pharisees devoting their possessions to God so they don’t have to help their parents? (Matt. 15)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been condemned by many in the church for participating in the plot to kill Hitler, instead of just preaching the gospel. In years past, I joined that throng. Now, however, I applaud him. It was not an easy choice. I guarantee that it was a choice that he wished he never had to confront. And I pray that he did it for the right reasons and was not overcome by the evil, by becoming evil. Put in his shoes, I pray that I would have made that same, courageous decision in an effort to save as many lives as I could. While I will still follow the charge to “turn the other cheek” if someone wants to personally insult me, I cannot stand by and ask the victims of evil to passively bow their necks as they are slaughtered by those who have no conscience.

I apologize to those whom I may have disparaged in the past for their “less radical faith.” And I hope that I have not insulted or denigrated those who will disagree with me now. This is not a simple issue. Let’s talk.

Voter ID Laws: What’s the Problem?


Last year here in North Carolina, the Republican controlled legislature passed a law requiring voters to show a valid, government issued ID in order to vote. It will go into effect for the 2016 elections. And, as in other places where such a law has been passed, the left is in an uproar. This week, our legislature began their short session, and right on cue, the protests at the State Capitol resumed.

            The Democrat/left wing protestors have termed their actions as “Moral Mondays.” (Of course, by so doing, they knowingly imply that those on the other side are immoral. It’s not a great way to start a dialogue if that’s what you truly want, but there really isn’t any interest here in a dialogue. This is just  political posturing and an attempt to extort legislatures for their political end. It harkens back to the “Moral Majority” from the right from a previous generation. Those on the left at that time objected to that term because of what it implied about them.) And one of the main targets of their protests is the new voter ID law. And frankly, I can’t find a rational explanation for their protests, especially for those, who like me, claim to come from a Christian world-view.

            Let’s see if we can lay a common foundation to reach some agreement here. Can we agree on the following two principles?

            1. Everyone who is legally entitled to vote in the United States should be able to vote without undue hindrance or barrier.

            Are we good so far? Can both sides agree on that? I would think so.

Now I am sure that there may be some on both sides of the political spectrum who may wish to disagree with this, but I have not heard anyone actually espouse that position. (Of course there have been those who have suggested that those who don’t believe in man-made global warming should be imprisoned, but that’s another whole issue.)

            2. No one except those people who are legally entitled to vote in the United States should be able to vote in the United States, and they should be able to vote only once in every election.

            Now, if you disagree with #2, then there is no need to go any further. If you want other people to vote, or you want people to vote more than once, then you aren’t interested in free and fair elections. You are a hypocrite at best, and a criminal at worst. (If you think the laws ought to be changed to enable convicted felons to regain or retain their voting rights, that isn’t a disagreement with this. If that’s the case, then work to change the law.) If you disagree with this second principle, then you support election fraud, and you are interested in political power and tyranny, not democracy and justice. And if you call yourself a Christian and support voter fraud, then you are a fraud.

            So, if we agree on those two principles, then it is a matter of trying to find the best way to accomplish those two things. And I strongly believe if people of good will would actually stop the political posturing and try to reach an agreement, then we might be able to get some good done, and at least reach a place where we agree to disagree about the means, not the end. Unfortunately, I am not sure we are dealing with people who are truly interested in what they proclaim.

            What possibly can be the reasons for protesting against the voter ID laws?

1. It will place an undue burden on poor people who don’t possess a valid ID, and thus it will disenfranchise them.

            Seriously? Folks, we aren’t talking about a poll tax here. That was government sanctioned voter disenfranchisement. We aren’t talking about a literacy test for voters. (Though I am not real comfortable that the college girl who thinks Benghazi was a guy she worked with at the gym deciding who is running foreign policy. But hopefully, the uninformed on both sides balance things out.)

            If there was anything here that smacked of an attempt to stop people from voting, I would be with you. But, if you are of the small minority of people who don’t already possess some form of government issued ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.) then you are going to be provide one, free of charge. There aren’t onerous requirements here to prove you are who you say you are. There are so many options for documentation, that there isn’t a valid reason for someone not to get an ID card. ( )

       There is no fee charged for a North Carolina ID Card for an individual registered to vote in North Carolina who does not have acceptable photo identification under N.C. General Statute 163-166.13.

To obtain a No Fee Voter ID card, you must sign a declaration stating that you do not have an acceptable photo ID. If you already have an acceptable photo ID, you are not eligible to receive a No Fee Voter ID.

You must also be registered to vote. If you are not a registered voter, DMV will assist you in completing your voter registration application during your visit, and you will still be eligible for your No Fee Voter ID.


How can this be an undue hindrance? And if you argue that an individual has problems going to get the ID, then how will he/she go to vote? If activists can organize folks to drive voters to the polls at every election, what’s the issue with getting the small number of people who actually don’t have IDs to the DMV? This law wasn’t passed one month and instituted the next election. We still have two more years to go. That is more than enough time to get every citizen legally able to vote a valid ID.

2. It will suppress voter turnout because it harkens back to the Jim Crow era.

How long is this argument going to be made? Yes, there are people still alive who had to endure the segregation and prejudice of that era. But that was then. This is not the 1950’s. And it’s not the 1960’s… even though many of the leading protestors act as if it was. (Of course, back then they were being put down by the Democrats, and supported by Republicans.) And the facts of the matter is that after voter ID laws were passed and enacted in Texas and Georgia, that minority turnout actually increased. ; ; ; ) and studies support that ( ).

So if those reasons aren’t valid, then why are the protestors still screaming about the law. There are only three options that I can see.

1. They know the facts, but they are conveniently ignoring them. These protests are about political power, and nothing less.

Honestly, for most of the leaders, I firmly believe that this is where they are. I can’t believe they actually buy into their own espoused arguments. Their claims to justice and fairness are just smokescreens for their own political games. And if they are doing this, while speaking from a platform of Christian faith, then they are just religious hucksters. They are like Marjoe, proclaiming a message that they themselves don’t believe.

2. They are ignorant of the facts, and actually believe what they are saying.

For a lot of the folks participating in the protests, I think this is where they fall. They actually have good hearts, and want justice and fairness. But they have been sucked into a particular movement and mindset, and are blindly following their leaders. Well, golly gee folks, do some studying and reading. Go back to those two principles at the top. If we can agree on those, then let’s talk about the best way to accomplish those goals. Don’t just go out an protest because it was Republicans who passed the law. That’s just willful ignorance. Are you interested in truth and justice, or do you just want a certain political party to win, regardless?

3. They are plainly aware of the facts, know that election fraud is an issue, but don’t care, because they want it to continue.

Yes, there are those that are in this camp. And please don’t tell me that it hasn’t happened. Election fraud has been an issue in this country from Tammany Hall to Acorn. And it’s wrong (Principle #2). When there is election fraud, then we don’t live in a truly free democratic republic.

And if you argue that we don’t need voter ID because there isn’t enough evidence to justify it. What’s the real problem? Is it the cost? Really? A one-time cost per person for the small minority of people who don’t already have ID, from a government bureau which is already set up and equipped to do exactly what they are tasked to do. Do you even think that’s a valid argument?

At the end folks, I just don’t get it. I see you out there on Mondays protesting voter ID, and I have to wonder whether you are a political huckster, an uninformed follower, or a political cheat. I don’t see another option.

If you can get me a good, rational argument against voter ID, I would love to hear it. Like I said, I stand by those two principles at the top. I would hope you do too.

A Constitutional Republic or an Aristocracy?

When you examine our form of government, you find, as we are taught early on, that we do not have a strict democracy, but a constitutional republic. And in that constitutional republic, the offices and powers of government are supposed to be open to all. But do we really have a government that is “of the people, by the people and for the people?” Or do we have a government that is dominated by an aristocratic elite that functions to keep them as the elite and powerful? I would posit that the latter is the case in our present day America, even more so than it may have been in earlier days when certain classes and groups of people were explicitly kept out of the halls of government.

What would we expect to see if we truly had a government made up of representative citizens who see their job as actually serving their constituents, and what would we expect to see if we have a government made up of an aristocratic elite who see themselves as a special class of citizens?

Let’s take a look at some questions and see where the answers take us.

1.      If we have a truly representative government then the economic status of the members of Congress would reflect the economics of the country.

While one percent of Americans are millionaires, almost half of those in Congress are members of that elite financial class.[i]  This is even close. As of 2011, 47% of the members of Congress were millionaires and their financial status was getting stronger even though the country was going through a financial crisis. Now I am far from decrying a person’s success in a capitalistic economy, but how is it that our supposed representatives’ financial status improves while they are supposed to be serving us while the rest of the country is taking a financial hit.

We don’t have a representative cross-section of America, or even a cross-section of financially above average Americans. What we have is a Congress dominated by a financially elite class of individuals. And this group of individuals increases their wealth while in Congress. And then they have pensions after they leave Congress that ensure that they stay as members of the elite economic class.

That sounds more like an aristocracy to me.

2.      If we have a truly representative government, then we would expect to see a fairly consistent turnover of people within the Congress.

I am fairly certain that this will come as no surprise to anyone, but once you get elected to Congress, you’ve got better than a 90% chance of holding on to your seat.[ii] Your chances of getting defeated are more likely if you happen to represent a district whose lines get changed before an election or if you represent a traditional swing district. Otherwise, once you get to DC, you have a great shot at staying until you retire or die.

Even during the great “Republican Revolution” of 1994, 90% of members of the House who ran retained their seats and 93% of Senators did. In the House, since 1964 the lowest percentage of House members who sought reelection who were successful was 85% in 1970.[iii] The Senate fared a little worse with only 55% retaining their seats in the Reagan Revolution of 1980 but since 1988, the percentages have either been at or above 79%. And let us not forget that only one-third of Senators run in each election, so it’s much easier to impact the percentages in one year. House members run every two years, and it is just staggering to see results like we have. I don’t like much of what I read in the Huffington Post, but I have to agree with Todd Phillips in his article following the last election when he asked how 91% of Congress get reelected when they have a 10% approval rating?[iv] I may not agree with Mr. Phillips suggestions, but I do agree with his warning at the end of the post.

The results of the recent congressional elections should be a red light telling us that our government is not in the control of the people. This is a very dangerous situation. If people are unwilling to do something now, we will surely pay dearly for it in the not-too-distant future.[v]

Having a group of people who are in power and stay in power even when people strongly disapprove of what they are doing doesn’t sound like a representative government. It sounds like a privileged ruling class. It sounds like an aristocracy. Has Congress become a de facto House of Lords?

3.      If we had a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”, then we should expect that all the laws passed by the government would apply to all citizens equally.

Okay, stop laughing. Isn’t this common sense? That was part of the point of John Locke’s Treatises on Civil Government which were the foundations of Jeffersonian democracy. If the governing authorities can make laws that don’t apply to them, then there are no natural constraints on what they will do. They can pass laws that might damage others and not worry about it because those consequences do not impact their lives. That’s what monarchs did. That’s what nobles did. That what aristocrats did.  That’s not what representatives of the people are supposed to do. [vi]

“Let them eat cake.”

[iii] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] The latest fiasco in this long line of Congressional exemptions is the so-called Affordable Care Act. (Accessed 9/23/2013) So even when we are told that the law is supposed to apply to them, when they find out what the consequences are, out comes a “ruling” that exempts them from the impact. This time from the Office of Personnel Management. What a shocker.

As a Christian, I am concerned for the poor, and that’s another reason I am voting for Mitt Romney.

As a Christian, heck, just as a human, I don’t enjoy seeing people living in poverty and I would prefer that that would not be the case. I realize that what we call poverty in the United States would not be considered poverty in most parts of the world, even though we do have cases of extreme poverty even here. But that aside, the question is what is the best approach to this issue.

I have good friends who have a strong, vibrant Christian faith and who are fervently on the other side of the political spectrum from me. I have even read Facebook posts, comments, news articles and books that question how anyone could be a Republican, conservative or (gasp!) a Tea Party supporter, and truly be a Christian. Those of us on the political right have been accused of being uncaring, unloving, cold-hearted, and certainly unchristian. We have been told that we want to leave others “out on their own” when we need to be “in this together.”

I would like to briefly discuss my perspective on this issue and why, even though I think we both are concerned for the poor (even though some of my friends on the left would assert that they are much more concerned), that I am compelled to vote for Mitt Romney, because I think his policies will help the poor much more than the policies of Barack Obama.

This is going to be a very brief overview. My plan is to come back to this topic on the blog and go over each point in detail at a later date. However, with the election being tomorrow, I felt a sense of urgency to get this posted.

1. If you want to help people, then keep it relational. Establish relationships between the givers and the receivers. This is why the church and communities were the ways things got done in the past. The givers had a vested interest in helping other people and seeing that these people got going in their lives. The receivers had a vested interest in turning their lives around and acting responsibly (that is not asserting that their need was a result of their own irresponsibility). If you help someone, and they continually act irresponsibly, then at some point, you stop helping because your help is no longer help, it is poison.

Unfortunately, when the government becomes the vehicle to distribute the help that it has taken from the helpers, then there is no relationship. And without relationship and an incentive to take responsibility for one’s life, then what is cultivated is dependency. It is clear that the government’s “war on poverty” of the last fifty years has done exactly that. It has created an underclass in the United States from which it is very difficult to escape. Two generations now raised in that mindset have become accustomed to a lifestyle which is imprisoning them, not liberating them. I do think we need a new time of Jubilee in which we can actually educate, train, and empower people to get out from under the shackles of government subsistence living. And it won’t come from more government handouts. We are in desperate need of a new perspective.

I think it is enlightening to realize that Mitt Romney has donated approximately 30% of his income to charity. Heartless? I don’t think so. “But he gave it to the Mormon Church.” Well I give most of mine to my church, so that they can minister to others too. And by the way… the Mormon church does a great job taking care of their own needy. I think most evangelical churches could take some pointers there.

2. Socialism never has worked and never will. Human nature being what it is, there needs to be a connection between effort and reward/results. It doesn’t matter what you deem the necessary reward, since it doesn’t have to be monetary, but if you disconnect a person’s effort from the rewards/results that come from the effort, then that effort will diminish. That disconnect is exactly what happens in socialism.  That is human nature. We may want to deny it. We may long for the day when it is finally transformed completely, but it is who we are…. (And I think it is creational, not just a post-fall aspect for you theologians out there.)

I have done the experiment in my classes and even my students, who overwhelmingly would self-identify as democrats, rebel at the idea of sharing their points and grades. The achievers want the grades they have earned and almost all of the students recognize that everyone’s efforts would eventually disappear if that individual motivation wasn’t there. Now, you can call it what you will, but when you implement the economic policies that Barack Obama has advocated in which the state takes over more and more of the economy,  it is socialism.

3. The year of Jubilee in the Old Testament was not a forerunner of socialism; it was a forerunner of equal opportunity. In the year of Jubilee, one of the things that was supposed to happen was that the land was to be returned to the original owners. Recognize that this was an agrarian society. Without land at this time, then there was no way to freely survive and accumulate wealth. So returning the land to the original owners meant that, every fifty years, families who had lost their property, for whatever reasons, were able to get a fresh start at economic prosperity. But also recognize that the wealth that someone had accumulated on that property was not forfeited. You returned the land, debts were cancelled, but you didn’t redistribute the wealth. People were to receive a fresh opportunity, not someone else’s wealth. Interesting that this was to happen every fifty years. Apparently it was to be expected that people would always fall into poverty throughout time.

4. There is human dignity in work. People enjoy the significance of achievement. Yes, there something special about gifts and grace, especially the amazing grace of salvation, however, when it comes to our life on this planet, if nothing we do makes any difference, then where is our worth? (Yes, we have intrinsic value but that is not the point here.) Even kids, when everyone gets a ribbon begin to realize that the ribbon is meaningless. If we really want to help people, especially poor people, then let’s help them find meaningful, and gainful employment. This is where I strongly believe that Mitt Romney’s experience and platform will be much better than Barack Obama’s. We cannot continue with an economy in which, when we include those who have just given up looking for work, over 14% of the population is unemployed.

5. The government is the least efficient way to get most anything done. Give me an example of government doing something efficiently. (That doesn’t mean that government doesn’t do some things well, and isn’t necessary to carry out some tasks like national defense, however, even there it is apparent that wasteful spending is the normal operating mode.) What we have in government programs is endless bureaucracies and jobs that aren’t necessary for the tasks at hand and wasteful spending because there is no incentive to be frugal. This point should be self-evident.

6. In Medieval Europe, the government and the economic system was merged into something called feudalism. The government (royalty) controlled everything and owned everything. There was no political freedom for those outside the ruling elite, and there was no economic freedom either. If we continue down the road we are presently on, that is where we regress to. When economic and financial institutions and mechanisms are tied into the government, then the powers that be have total control over the lives of the citizenry. If you are going to be free politically, you must be free economically. (And this includes crony capitalism from either side of the aisle. You can’t have businesses and politicians lining each other’s pockets.) The more dependent people are on the government, the more power over their lives they have relinquished to the government. The more power government has, the less freedom the people have. If we truly care about people, and want to give them every chance to improve their lives economically, then we must choose to give them freedom from an economic system dominated by governmental controls. If we want to help people out of poverty, then a free and fair market system is the best way to go. History has shown this to be the case. [i]

7. As a Christian, I am commanded to love others… to give cheerfully… to help my neighbor. And you know what, I want to do all that… and do, even in my own failing ways. But where in scripture does it say that the government’s job is to do that? Even in the Old Testament it doesn’t say that the government was to forcefully collect tithes and offerings. The people were supposed to donate that money as recognition that all things were a gift of God and to help those who were disenfranchised. I think we still need to do all of that. However, I see a real difference between the government forcefully taking away money through taxation and then doing a mediocre job (at best) of helping people, and people voluntarily giving of their worldly goods to help their neighbors. [ii]

8. Wealth itself is not condemned in Scripture, but the love of it. Abraham was rich. Jacob was rich. Joseph was rich. David, Solomon… and on and on.  The goal of Scriptural teaching is not to take away all differences in possessions or wealth. In fact, when Jacob’s father-in-law tried to cheat him out of the wealth generated by his work, God blessed Jacob with even more! The point is what you do with it… and how you got it. God is concerned that we love justice (including how we got our possessions), show mercy (help the disadvantaged and disenfranchised) and walk humbly with our God (including knowing that all we are and have belong to Him and come from Him.) Micah 6:8

As I said at the top, this was going to be a quick, abbreviated overview of some economic perspectives that I believe are crucial in this election. I am convinced that Mitt Romney will lead us in the direction that is more Biblically sound economically and that is another reason I am voting for him. I want fewer poor people. I believe Mitt Romney does too.

If nothing else, I hope this has given you something to chew on.

Thanks…. Remember regardless of what happens on November 6, 2012, God is still on the throne!  Our goal is His will to be done on earth

[i] But isn’t capitalism dangerous? Yes, like any system it can be abused, and that is why you need a limited government to protect our God given rights. Some regulations are necessary. No one that I know of supports the absence of regulations. But that is not the point of this post. When you compare the options, there is more possibility of abuse in a socialistic state, or a state run economy than in a free market economy. When government officials are also in control of the economy, in essence having absolute power, the potential for abuse, as history has shown, is mind boggling.

[ii] I also find it extremely interesting that it is usually those on the left that are so adamant about government programs for the poor, but it is those on the right who overwhelmingly give more to charities.  (


Why, as an evangelical Christian, I will vote for Mitt Romney even though he is a Mormon.

I am an evangelical Christian. I just finished reading an article in Christianity Today that cited an evangelical pastor who would not vote for Obama because of his ethical views on gay marriage and abortion. On the other hand the pastor said he has difficulty voting for Romney because he is a Mormon. (

I am having no such anxiety because I am not voting for someone to be my pastor, but to be the president of the country. I wonder what other past presidents this pastor might have not voted for even though he might have agreed with their ethical positions because they didn’t fit his litmus test for religious orthodoxy. Certainly our early Deist fathers would have to fall into that category.

It is not the specific religious practices or beliefs that are crucial in selecting a president or senator, but her/his foundation beliefs concerning the world,  human nature and ethics which will influence his/her political policies and principles. What I want in an elected official is someone whose foundational beliefs correspond with mine as much as possible so that their policies will be configured with them too. Unless someone has plans on enforcing their particular religious practices or ideas on the rest of us, how do those things come into play?

I happen to believe in believer’s baptism. Does that mean that I wouldn’t vote for someone who supported infant baptism? Not unless they were going to try to pass laws enforcing that position. But if that were the case, there isn’t much of a chance that they would get elected anyway. Thomas Jefferson didn’t believe in the Deity of Christ, but he had strong principles regarding the role of government with which I strongly agree.

Those of my ancestors who were part of the great Puritan Migration helped found Hartford, Connecticut. In their day, a person had to stand up and make a public confession of faith in order to be a full, voting citizen of their community. Thus, anyone who would have been eligible for elected office would have had to meet the same standard. At that time, there was no separation of church and state. They were one and the same. We are not in that place, and haven’t been for a long time.

As a child, I remember when John Kennedy ran for President and the fear that having a Catholic in office would mean the Pope was really in charge. (Interestingly, this fear of loyalty to a “foreign power” was the same reason John Locke thought that Catholics should not have freedom of religion in his time. Of course I can give Locke some latitude here given the bitter and bloody disputes for the English crown of the day. ) Do we have people today that worry that Romney would be subservient to the elders of the Mormon Church in his role as President? Do we have any evidence for that? No, we don’t.

Is the Mormon belief of baptism for the dead going to have any impact on economic or social policy proposals under Romney? I can’t imagine how. Will the Mormon’s unorthodox (in my view) perspective on the person and work of Christ have any impact on Romney’s political stances? I can’t conceive of those possibilities. And frankly I could care less if Mitt Romney wears special garments.

However, his views on such foundational ideas such as human nature, the value of human life, the meaning of marriage, liberty, freedom, responsibility, the role of humans with respect to the rest of creation….. well, all of those ideas will make a huge difference in the policies that he will propose as president. And as I examine what he has said, and what his positions are, I find, that as an evangelical, that my beliefs on those fundamental principles align with his.

On the other hand, I find that President Obama and I view the world with diametrically opposed perspectives. Our views on human nature and its impact on economic policy, on the value of human life, on marriage, on the role of government itself, on liberty and freedom… on a whole host of foundational concepts… are in essential opposition.  (And yes, I accept that President Obama considers himself a Christian, but then what he means by that, and what I mean by that are two different things as an older interview with Christianity Today clearly exhibits. (

We are not a “Christian” nation in the sense that we have been inhabited or governed by only Christians. However, our governmental structure and principles are ones that came from a worldview that was coherent with and built on a foundation of a Christian worldview.  John Locke may have been a deist, but his father was a staunch Puritan and Locke saw the world through that lens.  The founding fathers built our government based on that worldview and their own Christian heritage, but they built a country, not a church. They designed a system to give us leaders that shared that worldview, and to assure us the rights given to us by the God they worshipped.

I want a President who supports that worldview and that role of government. I find in Mitt Romney a person whose own worldview on crucial foundational ethical and political positions corresponds to mine, even though I also see a person with whom I theologically vehemently disagree. I would not vote for him to be an elder in my church. However, I will vote for him for President … and do so enthusiastically. I hope and pray that many of you will do the same.