Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Another Bitter Irony Of Black Lives Matter

The "Black Lives Matter" movement is one full of irony, not least that while the name of the loosely affiliated groups under their banner implies a concern for black lives, the groups generally focus exclusively on black lives lost to police shootings, most of which, while lamentable, are justified. There are cases where the cops are in the wrong, like the recent Philando Castile case (and even there some question remains as to whether the shooting was unjustified), but the overwhelming majority of cases, even highly publicized ones like Michael Brown in Ferguson, were justifiable uses of deadly force by cops.

The bitter irony I want to point out today is highlighted in a very good, very comprehensive piece in National Review, Planned Parenthood’s Century of Brutality. The vile beliefs of Margaret Sanger and Clarence Little, early "pioneers" in the practice of eugenic infanticide are laid bare for the reader. Keep in mind that Ms. Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is considered a saint for the acolytes of abortion. Planned Parenthood gives abortion supporters an award annually named after her, an award they consider "Our highest honor", including then Secretary of State and notable Presidential election loser Hillary Clinton in 2009. Mrs. Clinton herself praised Margaret Sanger in her acceptance speech:
Now, I have to tell you that it was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award. I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision ... And when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her.
She is in "awe" of a woman who would put the David Duke to shame in her racist ideology, receiving an award from organization that kills more blacks in a given year than the Klan ever did combined. This is the woman who Thabiti Anyabwile voted for.

The attitudes of Sanger, Little and others were not unusual for their time. As laid out in the book Imbeciles (my review here), eugenic sterilization of people deemed undesirable for reproduction was considered quite sensible and enjoyed broad scientific consensus (another irony...). That such attitudes were common is one thing, but that some would revere these people today as heroes and champions is obscene. Sadly Sanger and Little would likely be happy to see the result of their work today. Widespread abortion, reduced birth rates, more and more women in the workforce. Even their racial animus is being lived out:
Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy, might be gratified to note that, in Planned Parenthood’s hometown of New York City, a black woman is more likely to have an abortion than to give birth: 29,007 abortions to 24,108 births in 2013. African Americans represent about 12 percent of the population and about 36 percent of the abortions; Catholics, disproportionately Hispanic and immigrant, represent 24 percent. In total, one in five U.S. pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) ends in abortion, and most women who have abortions already have at least one child. The overwhelming majority of them (75 percent, as Guttmacher reckons it) are poor. The public record includes no data about the “feebleminded” or otherwise “unfit,” but the racial and income figures suggest that Planned Parenthood is today very much functioning as its Progressive-era founders intended.
I am not at all interested in inflated claims about blacks being killed by cops when black babies are murdered at a higher rate than black babies are carried to term. The real war on blacks is not carried out by white cops looking for an excuse to shoot a black, the war is carried out by polite and well groomed "doctors" in friendly seeming abortion clinics who take the money of black women and murder their children in return.

If black lives matter is not concerned first and foremost with the millions of black babies that have been murdered by abortion, then their name is a lie. Every single "progressive" policy you can think of, from providing an incentive to have children out of wedlock to widely available infanticide for black children, has the effect of weakening the black family and prolonging generational poverty. Progressives, including many in "Black Lives Matter", don't really care about black lives. They just care about keeping the money flowing and themselves in power.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How The Media Covers Christians In America

More about the SBC convention fiasco. By any reasonable reading the original "anti-alt-right" proposed resolution offered by Dwight McKissic was poorly worded, overly broad in some places and inaccurately specific in others. The annual meeting didn't forward the proposed resolution on the first try and then a second try later when not many people were paying attention also failed. This is what the media was waiting for and they pounced. Here is the headline on my Yahoo! feed from "News"week writer Aidan Quigley:

Well, points to Aidan for his mastery of misrepresentation. As a bonus, the article was headed with this completely unrelated picture:

What does Trump have to do with this resolution? Well nothing. Is Trump a Southern Baptist? Nope. Was Trump at the annual SBC meeting? Also nope. Are there actually any Southern Baptists in that picture? Maybe but I don't see one I recognize. So why is there a pic of Trump accompanying this article? The answer is obvious. The media is trying to smear Southern Baptists as a bunch of redneck racists while undermining the Trump administration.

Trump = Steve Bannon = Alt-Right = Southern Baptist Convention

Which is great except that Steve Bannon is not alt-right by any measure nor is he claimed as part of the alt-right. I haven't seen any evidence to support that the alt-right is a significant issue in the SBC. Trump is not alt-right, and if you missed it has a Jewish daughter and is over the top in his support of Israel, not exactly a typical alt-right position.

The media doesn't care about race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention or anywhere else except as a means of selling papers, magazines and online ad revenue. This issue got media coverage because it provided an easy way for the media to take a cheap shot at conservative Christians. They got to drive some page views, make Christians look bad and then get them to jump on command.

Let me let you in on a little secret. Nothing a sincere follower of Christ can do will placate the secular Left in this country and the media is their mouthpiece and often their attack dogs. No matter how many resolutions are passed and denunciations proclaimed, they will still attack and attack and attack. The only way to make them happy is to embrace sexual perversion, reject every single Biblical norm and ultimately deny Christ. So my advice is to stop worrying about the media and start worrying about preaching the Gospel. We can't do anything to change the media's view of us but we can see real people changed by the power of the Gospel we are entrusted to preach.

Nationalism For Thee But Not For Me!

I am like a dog with a bone on this SBC "anti-alt-right" resolution thing and not just to be contrary. Maybe a little bit to be contrary, but mostly because I think the whole thing is a load of manure. Anyway, I wanted to point out a few more issues in what I hope will be a few much shorter posts.

My first point has to do with question of "nationalism". As a reminder the resolution proposed by Dwight McKissic said in part:

RESOLVED, that the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, AZ, June 13-14, 2017, denounces every form of “nationalism” that violates the biblical teachings with respect to race, justice, and ordered liberty;

I know that he qualified his proposal with the caveat of only denouncing nationalism that violates the biblical teachings with respect to "race, justice and ordered liberty" but that is awfully vague. What exactly is "ordered liberty" and who decides which forms of nationalism are just or unjust? I hate stuff that is imprecise and vague because that sort of thing gives an unwanted opening for people to commit all sorts of mischief under the guise of opposing "unbiblical nationalism".

As I pointed out in a prior post, it seems odd to denounce "nationalism" at an annual meeting that is opened with a singing of the U.S. national anthem and a pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States. I would like to see someone point out that for a lot of non-Americans, the Star Spangled Banner is not something they see positively and that for Christians to pledge allegiance to a flag of all things is deeply unseemly. That concerns me a lot more than the "alt-right". While I absolutely affirm that there is racism in the Southern Baptist Convention, just as there is racism in all groups of people as well as legitimate forms of ethnic and national pride, I have yet to see anything other than pretty vague anecdotal "evidence" that the alt-right is a significant problem in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Some would cry "But the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention was racist!" which is true but it also happened in 1845. By my reckoning that was 172 years ago. The men that founded the SBC are dead. Their kids are dead. Their grandkids are dead, I assume. The Civil War ended in 1865 and the 13th Amendment was ratified that year, also over 150 years ago. The last slaves are long dead as are the last slave owners. There was certainly widespread racism in the century that followed and it still exists today but I don't think it is right or just to label the SBC as specifically liable for racism based on the founding of the denomination 172 years ago. Furthermore, flogging modern contemporary Southern Baptists for something that happened a century and a half ago that I assume most Southern Baptists don't even know much about is preposterous. My position is simple.

If you didn't own slaves or support the institution of slavery, you have no obligation and no need to apologize for slavery.

I am partly of German ancestry but that doesn't obligate me to apologize for the Holocaust.

I would also note that lots of manifestations of national and ethnic pride were on display at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is a list I pulled from the official webpage, sorry about the all caps but I am too lazy to do anything but copy and paste:



So if you are Asian, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Hispanic, Korean or Black you get separate events during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention to celebrate your heritage, your ethnicity and/or your nationality. I have no issue with that, none whatsoever. But I wonder who will be in charge of determining which forms of nationalism are "biblical" and therefore permissible and which are not. I don't think I would like the answer to that question.

Nationalism is kind of a slippery fish to get a grip on. In general I think the SBC has a whole bunch of issues and nationalism or infiltration by the "alt-right" isn't in the top 10, or 20 or 30 or...I do think that the revised resolution that passed is a far sight better than what was originally proposed. I don't think that the way it was passed, in a panic and under enormous external pressure, was helpful or healthy longer term. We will see.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dear SBC: Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife Yet?

I posted yesterday about the resolution proposed by Dwight McKissic at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. I thought it was poorly worded, indicated a lack of clarity on the issue, was clearly aimed at forcing additional changes and worst of all was a completely meaningless gesture. It didn't move forward and that was like waving a red flag in front of the secular and "progressive" religious media. As surely as the sun rising in the East, news of the "failure" to advance a specific proposed resolution has the secular media is jumping up and down with glee.

From the Atlantic:

A Resolution Condemning White Supremacy Causes Chaos at the Southern Baptist Convention

Leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention were divided over a resolution affirming the denomination’s opposition to white supremacy and the alt-right during their annual meeting in Phoenix this week. On Tuesday, they initially declined to consider the proposal submitted by a prominent black pastor in Texas, Dwight McKissic, and only changed course after a significant backlash. The drama over the resolution revealed deep tension lines within a denomination that was explicitly founded to support slavery.
Even if the committee’s decision was based on rhetorical nitpicks, it looked like the denomination had refused to condemn the alt-right. After a few frantic hours, around 9 p.m., the body reconvened. Pastors tweeted in all-caps trying to get people back into the convention hall, and Steve Gaines, the newly reelected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, begged people not to leave.
Over the last several years, the Southern Baptist Convention has made “racial reconciliation” one of its priorities, building on work begun in 1995 when it first apologized for its role in sustaining and promoting slavery. In 2015, the denomination passed a resolution supporting racial reconciliation, and in 2016, it called on Christians to stop displaying the Confederate battle flag. 
But to many in the denomination, any progress was significantly undermined by the 2016 election. With 81 percent of white evangelicals supporting Trump, African Americans in particular felt like they had been betrayed. As Anyabwile said of his fellow Christians in an interview with me shortly after Trump was elected, “I feel like they haven’t understood any of my concerns as a racial minority and an African American.”

So in essence a clumsily worded resolution proposed by a pastor suddenly gained national prominence and by not immediately affirming it the SBC is now playing defense, because obviously not considering a resolution, one of many of which were proposed and not forwarded, indicates strong support in the Southern Baptist Convention for the alt-right. Here are some of the other resolutions not forwarded for consideration by the SBC:

The committee also chose not to act on resolutions submitted regarding Genesis, pro-life support, unity in the SBC and country, collaboration on ministry to refugees, praying for the peace of Jerusalem and encouragement of trustee representation.

So based on this logic, the SBC clearly is pro-abortion, against unity in the SBC and our country, totally opposed to peace in Jerusalem and desirous of discouraging trustee representation. That is obviously not true but thanks to a P.R. campaign and an assist from the secular media that is almost entirely absolutely opposed to the Gospel and Biblical fidelity, the Southern Baptist Convention is spending all of it's energy falling over themselves apologizing for something that they have no reason to apologize for. I also assume that everyone knows that this will do nothing to placate anyone. Of all of the large, national denominations, the Southern Baptist Convention is by far the largest and one of the only large denominations that is still predominantly orthodox. Plus it is overwhelmingly White (85%), Republican and includes the word "Southern" in their name. When you add that all together you get a group that already has a lot of issues and has a gigantic target on their back.

Don't be fooled. The Atlantic and other secular media doesn't give a crap about racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention. They simply see this as a golden opportunity to undermine an orthodox, conservative Christian group that committed the sin of largely favoring Donald Trump over the media's chosen and anointed candidate Hillary Clinton.

So why did this particular resolution failing cause such a firestorm? Well upon it not advancing the second time, people started coming out of the woodwork to declare the Southern Baptist convention a bunch of racists. Thabiti Anyabwile went on a Twitter rampage, tweeting stuff like this:
As a reminder, no one in the SBC today owned slaves or was alive when anyone else did in America. Then this:
So with that he writes off as dead and Jesus denying the Southern Baptist Convention with the obligatory scare quotes around the word church

As another reminder, Thabiti tweeted his support for "Black Lives Matter" in spite of the regular anti-police rhetoric and overt racism. Here is the tweet with what appears to be a series of raised fists which clearly invokes the black power salute of the Black Panthers:
Of course it bears mentioning that Thabiti announced in May 2016 on the pages of the Gospel Coalition that he intended to vote for Hillary Clinton, the High Priestess of Abortion On Demand, a vicious practice that actually dehumanizes people and disproportionately kills black babies. The abortion industry that was completely sold out for his candidate kills more black people in a year than all of the alt-right, White supremacist, Ku Klux Klan, etc. combined have ever killed. His post was titled A Vote To Check Unpredictable Evil With The Predictable.

To summarize: I think the evil is real. Consequently, my conscience is aroused and I feel obligated to act in a way that attenuates the evil–in this case, vote. That leaves one question: Who to vote for?

At this point, assuming Trump and Clinton are my only options, I’d vote for Clinton. Okay… take a deep breath. Count to ten. Pray.

I can appreciate people who chose to not vote for Trump. I didn't vote for him, instead reluctantly casting my vote for Gary "Pass the doobie dude" Johnson. If I had to do it over I would have voted for Darrell Castle or written in Ron Paul. But I would never, ever consider voting for someone who has elevated infanticide to an unholy sacrament.

Allow me to state in as bold a way as I can:

I have no interest at all in being scolded on matters of justice from someone who voted, however reluctantly, for a candidate who would have spent every waking hour as President advancing the cause of abortion and conspiring to limit religious freedom and human liberty.

As another aside, I had no idea that Thabiti Anyabwile was born Ron Burns and changed his name when he converted to Islam before later converting to Christianity. Not really relevant, just something I discovered today. I used to have a lot of respect for Thabiti/Ron but over the last few years he has lurched leftward and now seems more concerned with a fusion of "social justice" and Reformed theology that I think is untenable and at this point I am afraid that the leftist rhetoric will win out. I am seeing some of the same stuff from para-church groups he is associated with like The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks. More on the issue of racial reconciliation and whether or not it is a Gospel issue in a future post (that I have been working on for months)

Back to the resolution. I have to give credit to Dwight McKissic. Whether intentional or not he very neatly maneuvered the Southern Baptist Convention into a corner and now it looks like he will get a version of his resolution and in the future the SBC will be cowed into approving any racially based resolution that comes forward out of fear of being raked over the coals again by the media and appearing insufficiently "woke" on matters of racial reconciliation. Well played indeed.

I would hazard a guess that far less than 5% of average Southern Baptists has the slightest clue what the alt-right is or have even heard of it. As America becomes more secular and hostile to religion and baptisms continue to decline, the SBC has their hands full already with contention over Russell Moore, the on-going jihad against Reformed Southern Baptists and other issues. What it certainly didn't need was to get ambushed by a gotcha resolution that casts the entire denomination in a largely undeserved bad light and a distraction from the critical work of the Gospel. Not to mention the reality of introducing a lot of people to the alt-right and their ideology.

There are no winners in this public relations fiasco and the biggest loser is the Great Commission. But hey, what is the Gospel when compared to the passing of an empty gesture?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On Denouncing "Nationalism" And The 2017 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting

The 2017 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention kicked off today about an hour ago. As someone who has more than a passing familiarity with, a fondness for and an interest in the SBC I like to keep tabs on them and see what is going on. As one of the few larger, national denominations that hasn't abandoned orthodoxy wholesale, the SBC should be supported in spite of some serious flaws. I think that the SBC, at least on the level of local congregations, can support needed reformation while other national groups have made apostasy an article of faith. Anyway I saw a few things that related to the SBC and I thought they were noteworthy enough to mention and comment on.

I have posted several times over the last six months about the controversy surrounding Russell Moore and the direction of the ERLC (for example see here, here and here). Dr. Moore has been a lightning rod for controversy but he is also perhaps the most prominent speaker at the SBC annual meeting. So I found it interesting that he is at the very end of the program on the second day when a lot of people are leaving or already left to get a head start on getting home. Perhaps it was just the ERLC's turn to be at the end but I am sure that many leaders are glad to see Moore tucked away at the end.

I was glancing at the schedule. About half an hour ago as I typed this, the program listed the following:

8:50 Honoring America and Recognition of Veterans 

The Pledge of Allegiance 

The National Anthem: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

I have no use for Christians pledging allegiance to the American flag or any flag for that matter, or really any secular worldly authority. The SBC has always, in my Christian experience, had too much attachment to the U.S. but it was interesting nevertheless. Here is why. A guy named Dwight McKissic writing at SBC Voices proposed a resolution condemning the "alt-right" (scare quotes his), Resolution for the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting – Condemning the Alt-Right & White Nationalism. His resolution is full of righteous indignation:

WHEREAS, there has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing; and 

WHEREAS, this toxic menace, self-identified among some of its chief proponents as “White Nationalism” and the “Alt-Right,” must be opposed for the totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples;

A growing menace that threatens to reverse improvements in race relations? What improvements is he talking about because it seems to me that race relations are already at a low point in my lifetime? Ethnic cleansing? Violent disciples? In general, and not always but in general when there are violent clashes between "alt-right" types and counter-protesting "antifa", the violence is one sided or at least any violence directed at the antifa is in self-defense. The alt-right are not sneaking up behind a girl and whacking people with a bike lock while wearing a mask (that guy is going away for along time after multiple felony assaults), or throwing bricks at cops, or smashing windows or setting fires or taking over a campus and patrolling it with a mentally ill kids carrying baseball bats. That is not to defend alt-right ideology but simply to point out that seeing how much over-the-top rhetoric you can add to a resolution is unhelpful. Then there was this:

RESOLVED, that the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, AZ, June 13-14, 2017, denounces every form of “nationalism” that violates the biblical teachings with respect to race, justice, and ordered liberty;

I wonder if he would include saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the U.S. national anthem at the SBC annual meeting? Or what about Jewish nationalism in the form of Israel that is based on ethnicity? Or is our concern only the "wrong" sort of nationalism?

I don't really know who Dwight McKissic is so I Googled him. He is a minister of an SBC church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and is one of the relatively rare black pastors in the SBC. A perusal of his personal blog showed an almost exclusive focus on racial issues. That is his prerogative, it is his blog. I blog on what I want and he should too. I have to wonder though, do many people really think that the alt-right is somehow a threat to the SBC? Many of the leaders like Richard Spencer appear to be atheists. Is "White Nationalism" a growing movement in the SBC, because I haven't really seen it. Or is the intent here to repeatedly flog White Christians, specifically Southern Baptists, because of past racial bias?

I don't know if this resolution will pass. I hope it doesn't. It doesn't really address any issues, it is mostly a bunch of overheated rhetoric that often flirts with being false witness and in the grand scheme of things doesn't really address the actual issues facing the SBC, instead simply being a grandiose gesture. We already have plenty of those in our country. The SBC needs to be looking to the future, not endlessly looking back, because the future is both extremely perilous and infinitely promising. The Great Commission for us and for our posterity lies in the now and the tomorrow, not in the yesterday.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Downward Dive Into Deviancy Doesn't Diminish

Another day, another new low in the religious world. When you see something new and heartbreaking, there are usually only a couple of possible culprits. This time is no exception as the United Methodist Church announces without a whiff of shame: Transgender person commissioned as deacon.

The Northern Illinois Conference on the evening of June 4 commissioned an openly transgender individual as a provisional deacon.

The United Methodist Church has ordained transgender clergy before. However, the Rev. M Barclay is the first openly “non-binary trans person” to become a United Methodist deacon, according to Reconciling Ministries Network. Non-binary means Barclay identifies as neither male nor female but as gender neutral.

Barclay — who uses singular they pronouns — serves as director of communications at Reconciling Ministries Network. The unofficial United Methodist group, based in Chicago, advocates for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in all aspects of church life.

The "Reverend" M. Barclay is actually a woman born Mary Ann Kaiser but now is apparently refusing to recognizing her own gender, making her what is known as a "non-binary trans", a term that makes no sense whatsoever but that doesn't stop a "church" from celebrating her ordination to be a deacon. Notice in the announcement the cavalier way they note having "ordained""transgender clergy" in the past, as if commenting on the weather. What next? People who celebrate this sort of thing and clamor for "full inclusion" of people dead in their sins and suffering from mental illness into positions of leadership in the church need something new on a near daily basis to affirm so that they can keep up their progressive street cred. People who are trans-generational, like men who think they are little girls? Men who think they can menstruate and breast feed? People who dress up like animals? The lid is off Pandora's Box and there is literally no limit on what can be accepted. Scratch that, there is literally no limit on what must be accepted.

A post shared by M (@mxbarclay) on

As a much needed reminder, the Bible has this to say about deacons and their qualifications:

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

Do you suppose Paul ever envisioned a cross-dressing woman who refused to even acknowledge that she is a woman in the first place being called as a deacon? If you can imagine something like that, you need to go back to your Bible (or go to it in the first place).

The church needs to be a place where the mentally ill, the abused, the confused, all can come to find redemption and healing. When they come what they don't need is affirmation of their sins and illness, they need the healing that comes from Christ Jesus in the form of the Gospel and repentance from sin. Someone who is a lost sinner that thinks that they are neither male nor female and that is in a sinful, destructive relationship with someone else of the same gender is not aided by being affirmed or being celebrated. Those who do so are simply piling condemnation on their own heads. What people like Mary Ann Kaiser need is to be told is that she was created as a woman after the image of God, made a woman by God's sovereign will and decree. As a woman who suffers from mental illness there is hope of healing in Jesus Christ. She will never find peace seeking to hide herself from God in a lie but there is eternal peace to be found in surrendering herself to Jesus. Please pray for her, for all those like her, for those who "affirm" her and for those faithful Christians who are trying to keep the house of apostasy called the United Methodist Church moored to Jesus. 

Friday, June 09, 2017

Dangerous Demagogue And Faux Socialist Bernie Sanders Is The One Who Doesn't Understand America

In case you missed it thanks to the absolutely silly kabuki theater of the James Comey "hearings", during what would normally be a super boring and generally irrelevant event even for political junkies, i.e. a nomination hearing for the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, a position in a department that 99.9% of Americans don't even know exists, Three House Owning "Socialist" and darling of the low information voters Senator Bernie Sanders absolutely went off on nominee Russell Vought over an article on a blog that apparently disqualifies Mr. Vought from being the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. What was this horrific, disqualifying crime? Is he a child molester or someone who lights puppies on fire? Was he caught browsing hentai porn and then lying about it by saying that he was trying to prove the existence of tentacle porn to his wife? No, that was Newsweek and Vanity Fair write Kurt Eichenwald. Instead Mr Vought's thoughtcrime is that he affirmed the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life, in response to the Wheaton college kerfuffle where a professor at a Christian college claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God (see my notes on that here). You can read a transcript here from David French or watch the video clip if you have a strong stomach:

Senator Sanders repeatedly asks Mr. Vought about a basic Christian belief, specifically that outside of Jesus Christ all people are condemned. I wish Mr. Vought would have responded forcefully with a yes and called on Bernie Sanders right then and there to repent of his sins and turn to Christ as his Savior but I get that this is political theater. At the end of the exchange Senator Sanders caps off his virtue signaling to his leftist base by saying:

I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about. I will vote no.

Senator Sander will vote no, not because Mr. Vought is unqualified for this position, but because he holds to the orthodox, historic, central Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the only path for salvation. This means, and let me point out that I am not exaggerating here, that according to Senator Sanders millions upon millions of Americans and the majority of Americans throughout our nation's history, are considered ineligible for public office, even something as random and esoteric as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, because they hold a theological position that Senator Sanders finds offensive and "Islamophobic". I wonder how many Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, dog-catchers, etc. both past and present would be arbitrarily disqualified by Senator Sanders for their religious beliefs. This is what I wrote on Facebook regarding Senator Sander's statement:

I don't much care for David French and the video seems to be gone (there is a link to a youtube clip of the pertinent parts) but the transcript is ludicrous. Let me state this is clearly and unequivocally as possible: Christianity is founded in part on the understanding that all men are condemned in their sins and only through faith in Christ are they saved. Ergo anyone who does not have faith in Christ (Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, mormons, unregenerate church attenders, etc.) are condemned. That is Christianity 101.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

That seems pretty clear. Sanders says "Sanders: I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about." I would simply say that Senator Bernie Sanders is the one who a) doesn't know what Christianity teaches and as such is condemned and b) Senator Sanders is voting no on a nominee as Deputy Director of the White House Office Management and Budget because that man holds to an accepted basic teaching of Christianity. In other words Bernie Sanders thinks that orthodox Christians are unfit for public office, thus eliminating millions of Americans from public office and saying that many, many Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, dog catchers, past and present are unfit for public office, including people he is in the Senate with. I wonder if he would ask the same sort of questions to a fellow Jew who takes his faith seriously like Joe Lieberman? Or would he ask pointed questions about jihad to a Muslim nominee? I sort of doubt it. Bernie Sanders seems to think that people who hold orthodox Christian, beliefs that are millennia old and have no bearing on how a person would work in the Trump Administration, are a danger to America and are not "what this country is supposed to be about". I have a different view. People like Bernie Sanders are "not what this country is supposed to be about" and he and people like him who want to prohibit orthodox Christians from public office are the real danger to America.

A friend on Facebook reposted that and one of his friends responded that Senator Sanders was absolutely correct and that people who held to the orthodox Christian teaching on the exclusivity of Christ are "intolerant" and "bigoted" and should be barred from public office. Broadly speaking there are a lot of people in this country who are quite willing and even eager to toss out the Constitutional protections on religious freedom and the prohibition on religious tests for public office because they think that there is nothing worse than being "intolerant" even though they ironically either don't realize how intolerant they are or they actually embrace being intolerant when they are intolerant of the "right" things. Even more ironic, the same people who whine about "Islamophobia" would likely suffer the most in a majority Muslim nation.

Even in places like The Atlantic there is some pushback, for example this from Emma Green, Bernie Sanders's Religious Test for Christians in Public Office:

It’s one thing to take issue with bigotry. It’s another to try to exclude people from office based on their theological convictions. Sanders used the term “Islamophobia” to suggest that Vought fears Muslims for who they are. But in his writing, Vought was contesting something different: He disagrees with what Muslims believe, and does not think their faith is satisfactory for salvation. Right or wrong, this is a conviction held by millions of Americans—and many Muslims might say the same thing about Christianity.

Yep. That is a solid statement even though it follows her obligatory comment earlier in the article: "The exchange shows just how tense the political environment under Trump has become." Right, because the political environment under Obama or Bush was just peaches and cream. You would think that political discourse was Canadian-level courteous until January of this year, unless of course you recall stuff like the Robert Bork nomination hearings....Also of note in her essay was the statement by Democratic Senator Christ Van Hollen, emphasis mine:

Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland defended his Democratic colleague: “I don’t think anybody was questioning anybody’s faith here,” he said. Van Hollen said it’s “irrefutable” that comments like Vought’s suggest to many that he’s condemning all people who aren’t Christians. And he asserted that Vought’s view of his faith is wrong: “I’m a Christian, but part of being a Christian, in my view, is recognizing that there are lots of ways that people can pursue their God,” Van Hollen said. “No one is questioning your faith ... It’s your comments that suggest a violation of the public trust in what will be a very important position.”

Senator, with all due respect, that is nonsense. "I'm a Christian who thinks that Christ was obviously wrong about a major point" is not really a tenable position. The term you are looking for Senator Van Hollen is not Christian, it is Universalist. At least get your terminology right please.

America is not a malleable, pick and choose proposition. This is a nation with a history and with a central governing document. One of the key principles of this nation is individual liberty. I can say what I want, I can believe what I want, I can read whatever news source I want and I can arm myself to ensure that people like Bernie Sanders can't take those rights away from me. More to the point, while I absolutely reject on theological and historic grounds the idea of America as a "Christian nation", it is without question that America was formed as a religious nation, a nation of people united by belief. Not specific beliefs like Methodist versus Baptist, but that we have religious faith and the right to exercise that faith without meddling by the government. The First Amendment is not primarily about keeping religion out of the state but the state out of religion. Bernie Sanders and his fan-boys are apparently bent on destroying that protection by making some beliefs, including some widely held beliefs, into thoughtcrimes that initially would disqualify you from public office but perhaps down the road would carry far more insidious penalties. Something else I wrote on Facebook: "Someone should clue Bernie Sanders in that 1984 was designed as a warning, not as a how-to manual.".

Senator Sanders was born into a Jewish family but make no mistake, Sander's real religion is worship of the state. The state is the highest good, the ultimate authority. People are just a means toward the end of glorifying the state. Concepts like individual liberty, freedom of religion, free expression, are obstacles to seeing the state glorified and the name of Government lifted high. I am torn in deciding if Sanders and his cronies are just historically ignorant, blinded by their own nonsensical and economically risible rhetoric or if they are simply being duplicitous in order to advance their statist agenda. Perhaps all three. Whatever the reasoning, Sander's notion of "The Government Über Alles" is the very opposite of what "this country is supposed to be about". Someone holding Christian beliefs or rejecting Christian beliefs or having no beliefs at all should not disqualify anyone from public office. Desiring to censor and marginalize people because you don't like their religious faith? Now that is something that maybe should disqualify one from public office...

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


73 years ago today over 150,000 young men, 73,000 of them from the U.S. were dropped from the sky or landed on the beach in France in the largest landing of its kind ever as part of Operation Overlord, or as it is more commonly known, D-Day. Something like 2,500 young American died in that operation designed to drive the Germans out of France and the rest of Europe, an operation that ended less than a year later with the surrender of Germany (followed a few months later in August 1945 with the surrender of Japan). It was the culmination of a conflict that started 31 years earlier in World War I. The combined wars left tens of millions dead in Europe and Asia, many of them civilians and the aftermath saw hundreds of millions enslaved and murdered by Communism. I contend that World War II was a tragic war primarily because it could have been avoided by not having been involved in World War I. Left to their own devices I believe Europe would have come to an armistice that didn't leave Germany in a state that facilitated the rise of Hitler. Maybe that is naive but I still think it is the case.

General Eisenhower penned this letter to the men who were preparing to liberate Europe. I cannot imagine how heavy his heart must have been to give the order to send tens of thousands of young men into a meatgrinder that he knew would take many lives and might not succeed.

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

It is probably just as well that those young men didn't know that rather than freeing millions of Europeans from the tyranny of the Nazis we would simply allow Nazi tyranny to be replaced by Soviet tyranny for the next half century and that the Europe they bled and died to liberate is slowly surrendering itself to a monstrosity as wicked and godless as National Socialism. What is kind of chilling and something I never read until today was his letter prepared in case the invasion failed.

A few years ago when I was still doing the corporate thing I was in D.C. on a sales trip and visited the World War II memorial. There were a lot of very old men, many in wheelchairs or using canes/walkers. It is hard to imagine these feeble old guys as young men charging out of landing craft at Normandy or some Pacific Island in the face of withering machine gun fire, or jumping out of a plane voluntarily. What is even more difficult is imagining our current crop of young men and trying to rally millions of them to do the same today. While they are just movies, it seems that Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers capture just a tiny bit of what that must have been like.

The lesson I take from this anniversary is that there always have and always will be been maniacs willing to start wars that others have to fight. Those of us who value human life over power and who cherish liberty have an obligation to do everything we can to stop them. For those who don't have to do the fighting and for those who profit from young men killing each other there is always an excuse to start another war. I refuse to believe that is inevitable.

No more.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

How The Media Exacerbates Racial Division

The media and especially what used to be called print journalism enjoy an almost religious status in America. Journalism is accompanied by a mystique, they are the dogged truth finders wearing a snappy hat with "Press" on a card in the brim. They ask hard hitting questions and make crooked politicians and corrupt business leaders alike sweat and squirm and then they bring the news, pure and unadulterated, to we the people. The press carried such critical importance for the Founders of America that the freedom of the press is enshrined right after the freedom of religion in the First Amendment and included alongside the freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble, rights that are also under serious assault in this country especially on campus. The reality is quite different. The media now, and probably since the founding of this country, is largely a partisan, antagonistic cabal. I have been sitting on two examples for a while and just am getting around to posting this.

Story one in the Washington Post. Even the title is pregnant with click-baityness: Judge: Mostly white Southern city may secede from school district despite racial motive. The gist of the story is pretty straightforward. Gardendale, Alabama is part of the Jefferson County school district which includes Birmingham. According to Wikipedia, Birmingham is around 75% black with a median household income of around $38,000. Gardendale by contrast is 88% White with a median household income of $79,000. Another interesting contrast, Birmingham has around a quarter of households listed as a mother with no husband present and around 31% married couples. Gardendale is reported to have over 56% of households with a married couple and around 11% a mother with no husband present. The dramatically disparate relative rates of married couples and the huge disparity in income are not coincidental.

The story is laced with charges of racism on the part of Gardendale without even the courtesy of having them thinly veiled, including the top photo of the story showing posters of the all white girl's cheerleading squad and the essentially all white football team. The horror! For example:

A federal judge’s ruling this week that allows a predominantly white Alabama city to separate from its more diverse school district is stoking new debate about the fate of desegregation initiatives after decades of efforts to promote racial balance in public education.

Judge Madeline Haikala of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham ruled that the city of Gardendale’s effort to break away was motivated by race and sent messages of racial inferiority and exclusion that “assail the dignity of black schoolchildren.”

She also found that Gardendale failed to meet its legal burden to prove that its separation would not hinder desegregation in Jefferson County, which has been struggling to integrate its schools since black parents first sued for an equal education for their children in the 1960s.

Still, Haikala ruled Monday that Gardendale may move forward with the secession, basing her decision in part on sympathy for some parents who want local control over schools and in part on concern for black students caught in the middle. The judge wrote that she feared they would bear the blame if she blocked the city’s bid.

So this judge is going to magnanimously allow parents to have some say over their local school so that black students don't get blamed. It is telling that the effort for "integration" started in the 1960's. It is 2017 so basically for 50 years the government has been trying to force black and white school kids together and has so far failed. This is assumed to be the fault of terrible racist white parents but hold that thought until the next story. The WaPo story goes on.

Under Haikala’s decision, Gardendale may begin operating the two elementary schools within its boundaries this fall. If the city shows good faith in carrying out desegregation efforts at those schools over the next three years — including by allowing and paying for transfer students and appointing a black member to the all-white city school board — it may be allowed to take over the middle and high schools within its boundaries.

Even then, Gardendale would have to pay Jefferson County for the high school building that sits at the center of town, which cost the county more than $50 million to build. The high school plays a key role in the county’s efforts to integrate, using career and technical education programs to attract students from far-more-segregated areas.

So the judge will "allow" them to have their own schools, as long as they play nice and are forced to have a black member of the local school board. The town again is 88% white but apparently only a black representative on the school board can ensure a quality education (as if that is the point of this demand). How noble and generous of her! The idea that a judge sits imperiously while the parents in a town have to come to her hat in hand to ask if they may please have some control over their own schools is so contrary to the idea of America that it makes me nauseous. Notice also that Gardendale has to pay for the high school building in the center of town that "cost the county more than $50 million to build." Um, where do you suppose the funds came from that the county used to build that school? I am thinking a big chunk came from Gardendale with their median household income of $79,000. I am not good at math but it sort of sounds to me like Gardendale is being forced to buy back the high school building that they, at least in part, paid for already once. That seems fair.

My point is that the story was entirely one-sided. There are very few quotes from people from Gardendale, only one from a public statement rather than a quote as far as I can tell, and lots of scathing commentary from the judge in the case, the lawyer for the plaintiffs seeking to stop the independence of Gardendale schools, a random Penn State professor and of course the obligatory comments from a representative of the NAACP. The "story" is little more than a hit piece against the people of Gardendale who probably just want to have some control over their children's education.

Contrast that to this piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The new face of Cobb County: Whites will be minority in 4 years. It starts off with this:

The first time Tammy Garnes visited a school in Cobb County, 10 years ago, she left in a hurry. It was just too white.

“I want to surround my children with black people,” said the film producer, who was sitting at a table in Marietta’s Double Take Cafe with a friend.

Well that is clearly racist! If a white parent was interviewed and said they didn't move to an area because the school was just too black and they left in a hurry and that she wanted her kids surrounded by white children, that would be scorched by the media as just being racist. So the next thing we read is the author, Bo Emerson, taking her to task for her racism. Right? Um, no.

But when the Garnes family made a second visit to Marietta two years ago, Tammy found a different world: A diverse school, several fellow black California expatriates, a sophisticated town and a true gumbo of cultures. Since then she’s enjoyed Guatemalan cuisine, made Hindu friends and sent her daughter to a friend’s Brazilian baptism.

“We didn’t think that was what Cobb County looked like,” said Garnes. “It is a true melting pot, and that is a beautiful thing to see, with everything happening in the world.”

Wow, she went back and there were fewer whites! It was now a "sophisticated town"! What a miraculous transformation! It is so much better a place to live now! No hint of what she said being disturbing or racist. In fact the rest of the article moves back and forth between example of old white people being afraid of the minorities and how wonderful life is in Cobb County now that it is less white.

I don't know what life is like in Cobb County. Atlanta has too many freaking people and traffic is crazy and it is too hot. I do know that anyone white that was interviewed anywhere, anytime by any newspaper and said they wouldn't move into an area because the school was full of black kids and they wanted their kid surrounded by whites would be labelled a racist. But when the person being interviewed is black and she and her husband are film producers...

During their time here Paul Garnes has produced three feature films, including the Academy Award-winning “Selma,” and more than 200 television episodes. Tammy Garnes produced the introductory movie that plays at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington.

...the story moves on without missing a beat and instead focuses on white fear of minorities moving into their neighborhoods.

So to recap:

A majority white school district that wants local control over their own schools is motivated by racism.

A black woman who doesn't want her kids in a school with a bunch of whites and wants her kids surrounded by other blacks is a swell person.

Ironically the media in this country is one of the main sources of endless clamoring about race and racism, quick to report any "hate crimes" and slow to report when they turn out to be hoaxes. It is almost like the media has a particular political agenda to promote and a worldview to push, a worldview where all whites are racist and need to be punished and all minorities are swell and victims of racism from whites and the cops.

Maybe the real world is more complex than that. Maybe the endless badgering of white people about how racist they are has reached a point where they stop caring about being called racist. Maybe the media is, consciously or unconsciously, actually making race relations worse by the way they report on race in America. Maybe I am way off base here but these two examples are not aberrations but really the exact sort of thing you see endlessly from the older mainstream media. No wonder more and more people get their news from non-traditional sources. I don't really need to listen to media sources that endlessly insult me these days. Meanwhile old school journalistic outlets look around befuddled because they can't figure out why people don't listen to them anymore. In fact they are mostly outraged that the dirty little people outside of the major cities would dare to not listen to their betters, i.e. the media.

I am all for having conversations about race but all too often these "conversations" are entirely one-sided. That is supposed to be OK because of alleged past injustices but I didn't own slaves, I didn't refuse service to blacks or keep them from drinking out of the same water fountain I did. Endlessly beating me up with "news" that tells me I am racist even if I don't realize it, that only whites (and maybe some Asians) can be racist, that I got to where I am because of unfair advantages, is not going to endear me to those messengers. If we are going to have a productive conversation in our society, in our neighborhoods, in the church, anywhere, it has to be a real conversation. Otherwise it is just a scolding lecture and an increasing number of Americans are sick to death of that and not going to listen.

More on this topic to come because it is one of the most dangerous fault lines in our society and I am afraid we are nearing a serious breaking point, a point that the media keeps shoving us toward "for our own good".

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When The Levee Breaks

With apologies to Led Zeppelin:

If it keeps on raining
Levee's going to break
If it keeps on raining
The levee's going to break
When the levee breaks
We'll have no place to stay

Doug Wilson penned an interesting piece on the pro-wrestling-esque incident that allegedly took place in the waning days of the Montana special election where Greg Gianforte supposedly "body slammed" a reporter but he nevertheless won the election and will be a member of the House of Representatives. Such is the political climate we live in. Apparently Doug knows Gianforte from a shared participation in the Association of Classical Christian Schools, a well known white supremacist group (please note that was sarcasm). I don't know all of the details about the incident, it was breathlessly reported by the "mainstream" press, which automatically makes it suspect for me, and it seems that the story is somewhat fluid and since Gianforte still won, the media has shifted attention to the White supremacist/Bernie Sanders supporter that killed two men in Oregon. Anyway I liked something Doug said about the general state of things in America right now (bold mine):

Nothing said here should be taken as cheer-leading for the deterioration of civility in our society generally. This is the case whether it is conservative > liberal or black > white or fascists > made up fascists. The restraints we have put in place over the centuries are not a decorative fence—they are a levee holding back a swollen river. Now in my view you have to be willfully blind not to see that this degradation of civility is being driven largely by the collectivist Left, not to mention that such corruption is largely rationalized and defended there. Now I believe that conservatives ought to do everything in their power to preserve the bonds of civility—and for the most part, I think conservatives have done a decent job of this. Expecting Gianforte to apologize as needed is part of that expectation. But it has to be noted, and marked, and noted again, that when the Left finally succeeds in blowing up the levee, they are going to miss it a lot more than others will. They should have done more measuring, and more thinking through who lives in the flood plain.

That is vintage Doug, using fairly simple language to convey a serious truth. The Left in this country seems hell-bent on tearing down some very important "levees". The right to free speech and expression used to be a hallmark of the academy, now anything and everything that might in some way discomfort even one person, real or imagined, is "hate speech" and must be kept out and if not kept out must be met with violence. How can we learn if we are exposed to ideas we don't like! Time to whack someone with a bike lock while hiding behind a girl, striking a blow for the freedom to not have freedom! Don't even get us started on the freedom of religion. You can believe (for now) whatever you like behind closed doors but don't you dare utter it in public and you sure better not try to teach it to your kids that we are busy indoctrinating teaching! But what happens when the right to free expression is fully gutted and then some actual dictator comes along and starts telling Stevie and Suzie (no gender should be implied in these names) that they need to keep their mouths shut or end up in a gulag in North Dakota? 

Black Lives Matter! Police brutality! Who suffers when the police fear being accused of being overly aggressive? It is not the police. It is not the suburban families watching their kids at soccer practice. It is the largely minority people who live in the high crime area who suffer when the police pull back and leave those residents at the mercy of the criminals who prey on them. In slaughterhouses like Chicago, New Orleans where removing Confederate monuments has not brought peace to the city and Baltimore where Leftist policies have been allowed to run amok are the same places where minorities suffer the most. The motto of the America Left should be "If you like what we have done with Detroit and Newark, just wait until you see what we do with a whole nation!".

Or what about the insistence of bringing in as many Muslim "refugees" as we can in the name of compassion? Somehow that has been lumped in with racial civil rights, women's "rights" like infanticide and the rights of the LBGTQ+ sexual deviants. I wonder what civil rights leaders would think of their movement being co-opted by professional race hustlers and men who like to dress like women? It is bitterly ironic that those who champion unlimited Muslim immigration are the very people who would be treated the worst in a Muslim majority country. Sure you can say that Muslims in America by and large are peaceful and good citizens but they are also a small minority (maybe 1%) but that number is climbing fast based on rapid reproduction and immigration, and eventually they will be a significant portion of the population and when that happens, things seem to change. Look at a list of decent sized majority Muslim nations and ask yourself how belligerent, vagina hat wearing cat ladies screeching into megaphones or flaming homosexuals who dress in leather and simulate homosexual acts in "pride" parades would fare in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia or Afghanistan. Actually you don't need to ask, we already know about girls having acid thrown in their faces for going to school or women severely beaten for being in public insufficiently covered or without a male escort, or homosexuals stoned or tossed off of buildings and gay concentration camps in Chechnya. 

My wife asked the other day why the Left would champion policies that will ultimately hurt their constituents the most, as Doug says the people who will end up missing the levees of civility the most. The only explanation that makes any sense is that the Left in this country and in Europe hates and reviles above anything else a certain type of person. That type of person is: male, white, heterosexual and ostensibly Christian (MWHC). In the fever swamp of Leftist revisionist history, that category of people is not responsible for the often flawed but unparalleled magnificence of Western civilization. They are instead responsible for literally every single bad thing that has ever happened to anyone at any time. War and famine in Africa? Blame the MWHC. A severe storm? Caused by "climate change" brought on by the MWHC. Any given person making a nickel a year more than any other given person? Blame the MWHC. Slavery, even though it was practiced by all sorts of civilizations for centuries and still is practiced in many non-Western nations? Obviously the exclusive fault of the MWHC. While I am being snarky, I am not exaggerating. To the far Left that dominates "liberal" conversation, anything that is not a MWHC and especially if it is in opposition to the MWHC is something to embrace, thus the strange bedfellows of Muslims and "transgendered", between blacks and Hispanics. It is an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" alliance of convenience and one that will collapse as soon as the MWHC villain is vanquished, which is not far down the road, and when the different group dynamics change and Muslims reach critical mass, watch out.

There is a very old saying. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Those doing their best to break down the structures of civility in America may soon get a taste of what that old saying is all about.

When You Can't Distinguish Between Your Patriotism And Your Faith

Because Memorial Day is a sacrosanct day in America and out of respect for those with strong feelings on the matter, I am delaying this post until the day after although it was written on Monday.

I don't generally care for Allen West which might be surprising since he dislikes many of the same people I dislike. While he occasionally shares something interesting, most of his stuff is way over the top, click-baity stuff laced with all caps like "This new video DESTROYS Barack Obama!". Based on his click-bait headlines Obama should have never made it past his inauguration. On the other hand he had what appears to be a very distinguished military career, at least up until the end, and is an eloquent writer when he isn't being silly. But last night my wife pointed out something very troubling that she read from Col. West. Titled with the obligatory all caps emphasis, I have something deeply PERSONAL to share with y’all, the essay is West's thoughts on Memorial Day weekend.

Much of it is an exhibit of the weird, quasi-religious view of the American armed forces that permeates evangelicalism. He admonishes people that we MUST HONOR (caps in original) Memorial Day. This is "not a time to celebrate swimming pools opening, summer beginning, sales, BBQs, or road trips." Now I was not in the military but I kind of think that those who serve do so in large part so that the rest of us CAN enjoy life, have BBQs with family and go swimming in relative peace. That sort of guilt-tripping is unnecessary but that isn't what troubled me. What I found really creepy was something he said later on. I put the primary concerning sentence in bold:

The door to the mansion of the Lord is closed to those cold timid souls who survive off the sacrifice of others. John Stuart Mill plainy (sic) articulated, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

The term "mansion of the Lord" references a song of the same title that sings the praises of soldiers, presumably only soldiers fighting for the good guys but it also carries a theological connotation. In the King James, which the overwhelming majority of Americans are most familiar with, in a very well-known passage, Jesus speaks to His followers to reassure them of the reward in heaven that awaits them:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2, KJV)

In other translations like the NASB (many dwelling places), the ESV (many rooms) and the NIV (also many rooms) the word mansions isn't used but like a lot of passages people know it in the KJV language. I always feel weird when the Lord's Prayer doesn't start with "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name". So there is a clear connection between the mansions of the Father and the mansion of the Lord.

Back to West's statement that "The door to the mansion of the Lord is closed to those cold timid souls who survive off the sacrifice of others.". What exactly does that mean? It certainly sounds as if West us suggesting that there is no place in heaven for those who are cowardly, "timid souls who survive off the sacrifice of others". Since very few of us serve in the military that kind of suggests that we should read the Great Commission as a call to go forth and encourage people to enlist. I can't imagine that is what he means although it really sounds that way. What about the Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish and others who believe that military service is contrary to the calling of Christ? Are they also "timid souls"? Joseph and Michael Hofer were imprisoned and tortured, leading to their deaths, for their refusal to take up arms in World War I. Were they timid for standing up for their belief against overwhelming, if baffling, public support for a foolish war and even suffering untold abuse that led to their death? That doesn't sound like someone with a "cold timid soul". I fully expect to see those brothers one day and share with them eternity with Christ. It is odd that uber-conservative West chooses to cherry pick a concept from Theodore Roosevelt, a man who was barely religious if at all, that Andrew Napolitano scorched in his book, Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom and John Stuart Mill, an agnostic, to create a theory that sort of appears to be Justification by Military Service Alone.

This is what you get when your religious faith gets entangled with your patriotism. You start to elevate and conflate your nationalistic pride with Christianity. Soldiers take on an otherworldly aura, the flag and the troops on parade become holy symbols, Memorial Day and Veterans Day become high holy days on the liturgical calendar, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The U.S.A." becomes a sacred hymn. Using mysticism laced language like "garden of stone" and "mansion of the Lord" it is hard to decide where Col. West places his faith, in God or in the military. What is worse is that many people who are not Christians also conflate Christianity with American patriotism. You can debate the merit of patriotism and nationalism and I acknowledge that there is a place for a subordinate identity outside of your faith but when you blur the line between love of country and love of God, you have something out of whack.

Allen West is hardly alone in this thinking but he has a big public platform, ironically in large part because of support he received based on the way he was forced out of the military for using illegal methods to try to intimidate intelligence out of someone in Iraq. His Facebook page has well over 2 million followers and is liked by 20 of my friends. His type of thinking infects a lot of the evangelical church in America and it is dangerous, it is incorrect and it is anti-Christian. Stay clear of it. You can properly and respectfully remember and honor those who died in the military of the United States without obscenely conflating John 15:13 with soldiers being killed while trying to kill others or closing the doors to the "Mansion of the Lord" to those "cold timid souls" who didn't go to war or perhaps civilians who were not sufficiently enthusiastic in their support of wars. Whatever Allen West is trying to say with his "The door to the mansion of the Lord is closed to those cold timid souls who survive off the sacrifice of others." rhetoric, it is not Biblical and it is definitely harmful.

For more thoughts on the place of patriotism and the church see: Piper On Patriotism

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Memorial Day Dream

Normandy Beach Cemetery where over 9,000 Americans are buried

Since the end of the Civil War more than 150 years ago, essentially all American casualties in war happened somewhere overseas with the exception of the 2,400 killed in a single attack at Pearl Harbor. The numbers of American casualties are pretty staggering in just the major conflicts:

World War I  53,000

World War II   291,000

Korean War  33,000

Vietnam  47,000

Afghanistan (on-going)   2,200

Iraq War (on-going)   4,500

By my calculations that comes to 430,700 casualties (I rounded down and used official sources like the Congressional Research Service) minus Pearl Harbor is 428,300. Almost half a million young Americans, mostly men.

Over the course of just over 100 years that averages out to over 4000 Americans killed every single year for over a century in foreign wars.

That is staggering. I know that is skewed by a couple of major wars but the numbers are still what they are. World War II which accounts for the bulk of those casualties is considered our "good war" because it is the only one where we were actually attacked but that war is the direct result of the first World War and a solid case can be made that our intervention in World War I, a war that was absolutely none of our business, helped to create the conditions for the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich.

On Memorial Day here in the United States, my wish is that this country would embrace a non-interventionist or at least a less interventionist foreign policy thereby reducing the number of war dead we need to remember on future Memorial Days. That seems to be fanciful and wishful thinking since the current administration which pledged a less interventionist foreign policy has fallen right back into the trap of shooting at people to show that we are "tough" on terrorism. As of today the United States has almost 200,000 soldiers and sailors deployed to over 170 countries, not exactly the posture of a nation that is getting out of the business of being the world's policeman.

As a Christian who embraces what I believe to be a Biblical position of non-violence, especially state sponsored violence, I am not so naive as to think that there are never justifications for going to war or using the sword. Romans 13 makes clear that the sword has been placed in the hands of Caesar. However I also believe that most of the wars the U.S. has participated in over the last 150 years, and arguably even before that, have been unnecessary and in some cases immoral. As followers of the Prince of Peace we should be calling for fewer wars rather than cheerleading interventionism that leads to American military casualties, frayed foreign relations and untold civilian death and suffering.  It is a shameful reality that the most enthusiastic  Americans when it comes to war, to supporting it and sending their sons and daughters to fight in those wars, are American Christians.

This Memorial Day let's seek to reduce those memorialized, not with a Pollyannaish view of the world but with a realistic view that takes into account the history of foolish wars and unnecessary deaths.