Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Does Evangelicalism Have A Sexual Abuse Problem?

The easiest answer to that is that if there is one incident of child sexual abuse in the church, then yes we have a problem. The easiest answer is rarely the most complete one.

I want to tread lightly here because of the nature of this issue. There is not a pro-child sex abuse camp in evangelicalism. This is not an issue where we have to be aware of nuance and gray areas. Sexual abuse of minors is wrong, period. When the abuser is an adult in a position of authority over them, it compounds the matter. When that authority figure is supposed to be representing Christ? Well obviously that is worse yet. That language doesn't even begin to capture the problem but I am not looking to engage in a contest of seeing who can use the strongest rhetoric. What I am saying can be very easily misconstrued so I ask you to read the entire piece and try to do so in the spirit it was intended.

Reading this story paints a disgusting picture that feels like a punch in the stomach for me as a parent and a Christian. I am sure that is why it is making the rounds of social media. Sexual abuse is a horrible crime that impacts the most vulnerable among us in the church. That is clear. So why even ask the question?

My reason for bringing this up has to do with something I saw posted in multiple places on social media yesterday. The source was an article at the New Republic and the title and subtitle are the kind of headline that gets our attention, especially as Christian parents. The story, The Silence of the Lambs: Are Protestants concealing a Catholic-size sexual abuse scandal? is written by Kathryn Joyce and is largely the story of a young girl, a missionary kid (or MK) from Indiana named Kim James who was with her folks in Bangladesh. They were there as part of the mission work for ABWE, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. What follows is a horrifying account of her grooming and abuse by a man named Donn Ketcham, a "doctor" in the mission who apparently was serial adulterer who got away with it because of his personal charisma. It is inexcusable, sinful and shameful made worse by a series of failures to address the problem in a timely and Biblical fashion. ABWE Interim President Dr. Al Cockrell posted a video admitting their failures and lack of oversight by ABWE leaders and detailing the steps being taken to avoid similar situations in the future.

So why the post? This seems pretty clear cut. Here is why I think it needs to be talked about with a discerning eye.

The article references fundamentalism 17 times. It uses the word conservative 6 more times. Patriarch is used twice. The message is clear. Conservative, fundamentalist Christian churches and missions are a hotbed for sexual abuse. It suggests that it "has become increasingly clear—even to some conservative Christians—that fundamentalist churches face a widespread epidemic of sexual abuse and institutional denial that could ultimately involve more victims than the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church.". An epidemic? What proof is given? Well none really and that isn't the point of the piece. The reason for this "epidemic" is obvious to the author of this piece. The problem is being a conservative Christian:

Yet the potential for sexual abuse is actually exacerbated by the core identity of fundamentalist groups like ABWE. Like Catholics, fundamentalists preach strict obedience to religious authority. Sex is not only prohibited outside of marriage, but rarely discussed. These overlapping dynamics of silence and submission make conservative Christians a ripe target for sexual predators. As one convicted child abuser tells clinical psychologist Anna Salter in her book Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, “Church people are easy to fool.”

Is that true? I don't deny that there is some truth to it. Some of those charges are applicable to any institutional religious setting, or any institutional setting in general. What is noticeable to me immediately from the New Republic piece is that it singles out "conservative" religious groups and places the blame for this abuse in large part on the very nature of being conservative as the author understands it. There are no mentions of Methodist churches or Episcopal churches in this essay. Are we to believe that "progressive" churches don't have any issues with sexual abuse of minors? Come on. Here is another example:

The scale of potential abuse is huge. Evangelical Protestants far outnumber Catholics in the United States, with more than 280,000 churches, religious schools, and affiliated organizations. In 2007, the three leading insurance companies that provide coverage for the majority of Protestant institutions said they received an average of 260 reports per year of child sexual abuse at the hands of church leaders and members. By contrast, the Catholic Church was reporting 228 “credible accusations” per year.

260 reports of abuse is a lot. It is 260 more than should ever happen. But in perspective, 260 reports out of 280,000 institutions is less than one tenth of 1%. Look at one word in that paragraph that I will come back to: "potential".

I don't mean, IN ANY WAY, to minimize the impact of this but this is the result of fallen human nature, not "fundamentalism". As I said, do you think this doesn't happen in Methodist or Episcopal churches or liberal Jewish synagogues? We know for a fact that serial abusers are found in places like summer camps and sports leagues, like Larry Nassar the Michigan State and Olympic team gymnastics physician who is accused of molesting something like 80 women and girls. On a seemingly daily basis the see news reports of female teachers engaging in sex with their students and those only make the news because it used to seem uncommon. Do a google search for sexual abuse in public schools and you will find articles like Has Media Ignored Sex Abuse In School? and AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools and Schools failing to protect students from sexual abuse by school personnel, federal report says. The last article I referenced makes a staggering claim:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said the nation’s K-12 schools lack a systemic approach to preventing and reporting educator sexual abuse of students, despite a problem that the report said affects an estimated 9.6 percent of students – nearly one in 10 – who are subjected to sexual misconduct by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers and other personnel during their K-12 career.

Is that true? I don't know but I don't doubt it for a second. I know for certain that it went on when I was in school but it was kept a quiet back then. Public school teachers have daily access to minors, hours a week and more for after school activities. That 10% would be subjected to sexual assault, inappropriate touching and even garden variety sexual harassment doesn't seem a stretch at all. I would say based on those statistics, it is not a stretch to say that your child is far safer at an evangelical summer camp, a fundamentalist foreign mission or an activity overseen by a Catholic priest than they are being in sports or attending a public school. It also doesn't mean that something is inherently wrong or encouraging to sexual abusers in the public school setting, which is what the author is suggesting about fundamentalism.

My point here is NOT "Well kids get abused all over the place so don't sweat it". NOT AT ALL. The Church absolutely must hold ourselves to a much higher standard than the world on this issue and all others. So my point is not that sexual abuse of minors is nothing to worry about but rather to shine a light on the less than subtle conclusions of this particular essay.

For example, something seemed oddly familiar about this story and then it hit me in this paragraph:

“Protestants have responded much worse than the Catholics to this issue,” says Boz Tchividjian, a former child sex-abuse prosecutor who is the grandson of legendary evangelist Billy Graham. “One of the reasons is that, like it or not, the Catholics have been forced, through three decades of lawsuits, to address this issue. We’ve never been forced to deal with it on a Protestant-wide basis.”

The reason it seemed so familiar is that I have seen these claims made by Boz Tchividjian, accompanied by the note that he is Billy Graham's grandson, in the past. In 2013 I pointed out an article in the Huffington Post that had a very similar title and made a similar claim. Let me go back a few paragraphs where I pointed out the use of the word "potential" and then reference part of what I said concerned me about Boz and his organization back in 2013:

Second, the articles are all pretty vague and mostly anecdotal. There are lots of problems but they are unreported. Well isn't that convenient! You can make a claim of a huge problem that is unreported so you are not burdened with providing statistics/facts and if questioned just blame a culture of silence. Notice that the title is inflammatory but then he is quoted saying "I think we are worse" (emphasis mine). Pretty major accusation to make based on something he thinks might be true.

Even the comparison to the Catholic church is seemingly lifted from the very title of the prior piece, complete with the reference to his being Bill Graham's grandson.

Evangelical Sex Abuse Record ‘Worse’ Than Catholic, Says Billy Graham’s Grandson Boz Tchividijian

When did the secular media start caring about Billy Graham? They don't but it serves a purpose, they invoke the name of the great Billy Graham and assume (rightly) that it gives extra credence to what someone is saying whether it does or not. Of course Tullian Tchividjian is also the grandson of Billy Graham and is most recently famous for leaving his wife for another woman, magically getting restored to ministry literally months later and single-handedly causing a huge split in the church formerly overseen by D. James Kennedy.

What struck me very quickly in my initial reading of this article were two points.

One, this is not really an article about sex abuse.

Two, it is a hit piece aimed at a certain politically incorrect portion of the church.

Finding the most extreme case and presenting it as representative of the norm is a common journalistic tactics, especially when the journalistic source is a hostile one. The article being passed around appears in an avowedly "progressive" magazine, the New Republic. From their webpage:

The New Republic was founded in 1914 as a journal of opinion which seeks to meet the challenge of a new time. For over 100 years, we have championed progressive ideas and challenged popular opinion. Our vision for today revitalizes our founding mission for our new time.

Is something automatically wrong or suspect because it comes from a liberal source? Of course not, many times liberal sources report on things that conservative sources don't so I keep an eye on what they are saying, even as I keep in mind their bias. The converse is far more common as well. Should you keep their political affiliation in mind when you are reading an article that purports to expose the shady world a "fundamentalism", a world and a word they likely don't understand and find distasteful? Absolutely. Go to the front page of the New Republic as I did this morning and it looks a lot like a liberal version of National Review or The American Conservative  or some other more serious webzine. The articles are probably well-written but they are clearly partisan in nature. That is fine, I read conservative versions of the same style of writing but I also don't expect that they are going to be "fair" to liberal causes.

The unfortunate reality is that sexual predators are drawn to children and especially children in places where they can exert power over them. Most churches that I know of have taken concrete steps to mitigate this reality with things like background checks, having multiple adults present around kids in church nurseries and Sunday schools, even removing solid doors and replacing them with doors that have a large window. There is always more we can do of course. Sin and especially sexual sin is a problem everywhere in the world, in the church and out of it, in conservative settings and in liberal settings, among "fundamentalists" and avowed militant atheists. As I noted above, this problem is not unique to or especially prevalent in "fundamentalist" circles in spite of attempts to make it seem like it is via a couple of prominent examples. Sexual sin has been one of the most ubiquitous sins throughout human history and the Bible makes this abundantly clear, so while it is tragic it is also not unexpected.

The obvious underlying point of the article being passed around is that fundamentalism is bad and leads to child sexual abuse. The obvious solution is to avoid and shun fundamentalism or to modify what it teaches to become more worldly and thereby magically making it less prone to sheltering sexual abusers. That is the wrong conclusion and it is the wrong response.

The proper response to the reality of the abuse of human sexuality, specifically directed by adults in authority in the church towards minors, is not to soften or compromise our theology. Indeed this entire issue is a deeply theological issue and therefore the response is to strengthen and sharpen our theology, not to abandon it.

Fundamentalism or conservatism is NOT the problem. Sin is the problem. 

We are 2000 years after the cross and in spite of all of the "advances" of science and reason we are no closer to overcoming human sinful behavior outside of the new birth today than we were in the first century. In fact we might even be moving further away from finding a "solution" via medicine or therapy or of course theological compromise because such a "solution" doesn't exist.

My point in this exercise is to advise caution. Be careful when you read about the church from non-church, often hostile, sources and be watchful for hidden agendas. The media in this country overwhelmingly despises conservative, evangelical Christianity and doesn't want to see it reformed in a way that is helpful. They want to see it gone. When they are trying to tell you what they see as the problems in the church, take anything they say not with a grain of salt but instead with a 50 lb bag of salt from Sam's Club,


One finally note to reiterate again that I am not downplaying or minimizing the issues of child sexual abuse or the institutional structures that can help conceal it or other legitimate concerns about fundamentalism. I condemn sexual abuse in the strongest terms and favor both permanent removal from leadership for anyone involved, strict church discipline and absolutely the appropriate legal action, legal action that I hazard I would like to see be far more severe than is usual.

Monday, June 26, 2017

More Media Spin (Right Round Baby Right Round....)

If you grew up in the 80's you remember this little gem....

You remember it and now that you listen to it in 2017 you remember why this was a one-hit wonder band (well two hits I guess). As an aside, in case you are wondering what ever happened to them, the lead singer Pete Burns died in 2016. You will be shocked to learn that he was a homosexual and according to his Wikipedia page he was raped as a young boy. Early sexual trauma seems awfully common among homosexuals (i.e George Takei, Milo Yiannopoulos, etc.). It is almost like there is a connection between sexual abuse and later sexual confusion manifested as aberrant sexual behavior....

Anyway. Dead or Alive had nothing on CNN when it comes to spin. This story is technically a political story but I think the broader issues of media manipulation of public opinion belong on this page. The story in question was on CNN and the headline is so click-baity as to be almost farcical: 'Trumpcare' would send her to Mexico for birth control. The basic gist is that Trump is going to make people go to Mexico to get their birth control because he is going to close down Planned Parenthood. Gasp! If that Planned Parenthood clinic shuts down she would have to travel to a FOREIGN COUNTRY to get her birth control!

All Ariana and Kevin Gonzalez want is birth control.

As far as health care needs go, that's pretty simple.

But the California couple says that if the Republican alternative to Obamacare becomes law, they'll be driving over the border to Mexico to get it.

It's not that the Gonzalezes don't have insurance; they have very good insurance through Ariana's job as a high school teacher.

The problem is that "Trumpcare," as Ariana calls it, would probably run her health clinic out of town. It's Planned Parenthood, which the Republican health care proposal defunds because it performs abortions.

The Gonzalezes live in the Imperial Valley, an agricultural area two hours east of San Diego, with a severe doctor shortage. On average in California, there's one primary care physician for every 1,341 people. In the Imperial Valley, there's one physician for every 4,170 people, according to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

For Ariana, that means it takes well over a month to get an appointment with her gynecologist and then four or five hours in the waiting room to see him, which means she has to take the day off work. At Planned Parenthood, she gets an appointment the next day and is in and out in about 30 minutes.

So she will have to go to a doctor and sit in the waiting room, and that is a hassle and takes a lot of time, even time off work. The outrage! It isn't like any American has to take time off work and sit around in the waiting room to see a doctor for literally every other health issue. And aren't we told over and over and over that what Planned Parenthood provides is "Reproductive Health Services"?  I guess for this one "health" issue someone having to sit in a waiting room and take time off of work is an outrage. I am sure that if the Left gets their dream fulfilled of single payer health care and there is no cost to going to the doctor or emergency room for any reason at all it will drastically reduce the wait times to see a doctor. (that was sarcasm BTW)

This seems like an outrage to me, those villainous Republicans sit around smoking cigars in secret meetings, twirling their moustaches like Snidely Whiplash and plotting ways to keep people from enjoying their sex lives. Every time a woman takes a birth control pill you can almost hear Donald Trump saying "Curses, foiled again!"

It has been a while and with eight kids it obviously wasn't a common feature in our lives but it seems to me that a prescription for birth control pills lasted a while, like a year or more. Another question that seems to jump out at me. The report says that Ariana has to take a day off of work because it takes a month to get an appointment and she has to wait in the waiting room for four or five hours, which, as someone who spent a lot of time in the offices of OB/GYN's the idea of  a 4-5 hour wait to see a doctor (more than half of the working day?!) seems like it might perhaps be an exaggeration (although the article quotes those timeframes more than once). But even if it is not, let me throw something else out there. Mrs. Gonzalez has a good job. Doing what? Well she is "a high school teacher". Now I seem to recall that high school teachers don't work in the summer for like 3 months. It takes a month to get an appointment. Doesn't it make sense that maybe you schedule that sort of time-consuming appointment, I don't know, IN THE SUMMER!? An emergency trip to the doctor is one thing but something you need to do annually that is time consuming for someone who gets the summer off sort of seems like a no-brainer to schedule in the summer months. I am a little concerned that someone who teaches high school students can't figure out that she should schedule lengthy medical appointments that require a long lead time to get during that part of the year when she is not at school? My sister is a high school teacher and has been teaching since well before I was in high school and as far as I know she has never missed a day of school. Maybe the issue here isn't that she has to miss work but that Mrs. Gonzalez doesn't seem to plan ahead at all.

It would also be great if you could use some other forms of birth control other than a birth control pill provided by Planned Parenthood or Mexican doctors. Like for example a condom. I looked it up and sure enough there is a Wal-Mart right in the town the Gonzalez family lives in, El Centro, Wal-Mart store number 1555. The store is on North Waterman Avenue and their phone number is (760) 337-1600 in case Mrs. Gonzalez happens to be reading this. I have never been there but I am confident that they sell condoms in their health and beauty department. If they don't, a simple search at Amazon for condoms brings up 20 pages of results, most available with free shipping in a couple of days. I did a Google search and there are at least a dozen drug stores in El Centro as well. The Wal-Mart is open 24 hours a day so if you run out they are always open. So pretty much anyone can get some sort of birth control for not much money 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except Christmas Day of course and who has sex on Christmas Day?). I get that not everyone likes using condoms or other forms of contraception or natural family planning but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. If you can't be bothered to plan a OB/GYN appointment in the summer when school is not in session and you can't be bothered to go to Wal-Mart to get a box of condoms, well maybe you just need to exercise a little self-control and restraint.

But Mrs. Gonzalez tells me this is un-American!

Ariana has a message for senators as they contemplate whether to pass the law, also known as the American Health Care Act.

"If (Planned Parenthood's) doors are shut, you'll be driving your own constituents to an entirely different country in search of health care, and that's not America," she said. "I don't think that's who we are as a country."

That is not who we are as a country. Huh. I hope Mrs. Gonzalez isn't teaching civics because I am pretty sure that being able to get oral contraception from a clinic that murders babies because you can't be bothered to make a doctor's appointment ahead of time or buy a box of condoms is not one of the central reasons this country was founded. I don't think birth control is in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. I haven't checked but I am pretty confident I am on solid ground with that assumption. When anyone says "That is not who we are as a country", you can pretty much bet that person has no idea what this country was founded on in the first place and doesn't care because an awful lot of people don't care about the Constitution or history, for them America means whatever they want it to mean and it usually involves someone else paying to make that vision a reality. But CNN isn't quite done with the human interest story.

Ariana, 23, knows what life would be like without Planned Parenthood in her town because she's lived it.

Before Planned Parenthood opened in the Imperial Valley two years ago, she became pregnant when she didn't want to, and then later she couldn't get pregnant when she did want to.

Without easy access to birth control, Ariana became pregnant at 15. A doctor tried to convince her to have an abortion, saying she was one of countless teen moms he'd seen just that week.

Without easy access to birth control, she "became pregnant". Weird, how did that happen? Did an angel appear to her and tell he that she would conceive and bear a son? I have eight kids and my wife never just magically "became pregnant".

Planned Parenthood was formed in 1942 out of the "American Birth Control League". I didn't realize that prior to 1942 every 15 year old girl "became pregnant" because they didn't have Planned Parenthood. Who knew? It just happened as part of puberty. Girls begin menstruation, breast development, hairy armpits and "become pregnant".

Oh that's right, she had unprotected sex even though literally everyone knows how to avoid pregnancy via contraception, which as mentioned above is readily available pretty much everywhere including where she lives. According to the story, Ariana Gonzalez is 23. I am almost twice her age and even back in the Dark Ages when I went to school and bands like Dead or Alive were churning out awful music we knew where babies came from. I am guessing that 8 years ago when she was 15 and "became pregnant" that same Wal-Mart store was there and they sold condoms and that the school she attended probably gave them out as well. I am glad she kept her baby instead of murdering it. It just seems odd that while she said that "her "maternal instinct kicked in," and she never considered termination", presumably because she knew that after she "became pregnant" that what was in her womb was her child, a human life, that she wants to keep the El Centro Planned Parenthood clinic open even though they kill babies as part of their "reproductive health services".

By any measure (here is a fairly neutral article from the Brookings Institute) out of wedlock births have exploded in the last fifty years, a time frame that coincides quite neatly with widespread contraception and legalized abortion. Far from reducing out of wedlock births, contraception and abortion has coincided with a major explosion in those births. Whether from a change in sexual morality or something else, like the lack of a stigma associated with out of wedlock births and the corresponding reduction of "shotgun marriages", having ample access to birth control has not reduced out of wedlock births, it has seen it explode. As the article I linked above (from 1996) notes:

What links liberalized contraception and abortion with the declining shotgun marriage rate? Before 1970, the stigma of unwed motherhood was so great that few women were willing to bear children outside of marriage. The only circumstance that would cause women to engage in sexual activity was a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. Men were willing to make (and keep) that promise for they knew that in leaving one woman they would be unlikely to find another who would not make the same demand. Even women who would be willing to bear children out-of-wedlock could demand a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy.

The increased availability of contraception and abortion made shotgun weddings a thing of the past. Women who were willing to get an abortion or who reliably used contraception no longer found it necessary to condition sexual relations on a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. But women who wanted children, who did not want an abortion for moral or religious reasons, or who were unreliable in their use of contraception found themselves pressured to participate in premarital sexual relations without being able to exact a promise of marriage in case of pregnancy. These women feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they would risk losing their partners. Sexual activity without commitment was increasingly expected in premarital relationships.

So in the past sexual activity was linked to pregnancy and therefore there was an implicit understanding of a commitment from men if their partner got pregnant. That is still true in Amish communities. It is not spoken of often but there are a fair number of "Sunday weddings" among the Amish which is a code for a shotgun wedding when an Amish girl "becomes pregnant" out of wedlock (most weddings around here are on Thursdays, so a Sunday wedding is squeezed into the church service and everyone knows what it means). There simply are essentially no, as far as I can tell, Amish single mothers. That reality, that having sex leads to babies and that leads to a commitment, was commonplace in human history for all but the last 50 years, or 98% of human history since the birth of Christ. But now, even though you can get contraception easily and cheaply everywhere (except the Imperial Valley in California apparently), women get knocked up at alarming rates. If you search this you will see liberal sources crowing about the "reduction" in unplanned pregnancies but they only look back a few decades rather than looking back when out of wedlock births were still socially stigmatized. Now instead of a social stigma for having a child out of wedlock, there is an expectation of sexual activity without commitment. That was true in 1996 when this article was penned and it is exponentially more true today. 

Women used to understand that there were "consequences" for sexual activity, that it was simply a biological fact. Not just pregnancy but serious emotional consequences as well. Those consequences used to be offset in part by an implicit commitment. If a man gets you pregnant, he is responsible to marry you and raise that child with you. If you don't think he is someone you would want to marry, don't have sex with him. That didn't always work out perfectly of course. But now men are free to demand sex from women with absolutely no commitment and women feel compelled to acquiesce because if they don't, their man will just go somewhere else where he can get sex without any strings attached. Remember the old saying "Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?". Crude perhaps but true. Now men are getting the milk for free from lots of different cows and the cows are sending them nude photos. The hook-up culture on college campuses is a prime example of this. Women who want to have a boyfriend better plan on giving them sex on demand and whatever kind of sex he wants and without a corresponding commitment or the guy can just find someone else willing to do so. Women have paradoxically been turned into prostitutes by feminism without the pay. Is that the sort of progress they expected from their feminist "leaders"? Back to Ariana Gonzalez...

She said it scares her to think what will happen if her clinic closes.

"I don't think this is the direction that our country needs to be going. I think we're taking steps backward," she said.

She thinks about a photo that made the rounds on social media in March. It showed Vice President Mike Pence and a group of congressmen discussing the passage of the GOP plan, called the American Health Care Act.

"I see a bunch of men sitting around a table, discussing what I should be allowed to do with my body," she said. "My husband and I can decide what's best for us."

Not men, how can MEN make proper decision about ANYTHING! I guess I wonder what it would be like if the majority of Congress were women. Would Mrs. Gonzalez think that they were unqualified to make decisions that impact men? Maybe we should have a separate government for men and women, which is a problem since there are new "genders" cropping up everyday. Again I hope that Ariana Gonzalez isn't teaching civics because those awful men who are "sitting around a table, discussing what I should be allowed to do with my body" were elected by both men and women. 

See, here is the problem. You want to decide what is best for you and your family. That is pretty ironic for a lot of reasons (like penalizing people under Obamacare who didn't buy insurance and the general attitude of Senators from her state of California that want to tell the rest of us what we can do with every aspect our lives) but I get that. I am all for people making decisions for themselves. You can do whatever you want to with your body. That is your decision. The issue is that you want the rest of us to pay for your decisions. I don't have any interest in doing anything with Ariana Gonzalez's body but I also don't have any interest in subsidizing whatever she chooses to do. You want force the rest of America to continue to subsidize Planned Parenthood, including the clinic in El Centro where babies are routinely cut apart, dismembered, vacuumed out of the womb and disposed like trash (or sold as parts for profit). You demand that America fund these clinics because it is just so inconvenient to schedule a lengthy appointment with a physician for someone who has a job where they get 3 months off in the summer plus winter break plus other holidays throughout the year. You don't want to plan ahead, you don't want to use other forms of readily available and cheap contraception and you don't want to go to Mexico to get your birth control pills. You just want to swing by the Planned Parenthood for your birth control pills and I guess pretend that in the room next door a woman is having a "doctor" ripping apart a baby. Even though, as the article grudgingly admits, the GOP plan would provide half a billion dollars for community health clinics that provide contraception, she thinks it is "shameful" and "un-American". This from someone who thinks that America was founded on the promise of subsidized birth control.

The reality is that this is not about Planned Parenthood clinics being the most cost-effective and timely places to get birth control. That is never what it was about and that is not why Democrats are willing to sacrifice everything else to keep those clinics open. If another organization magically appeared that would replicate Planned Parenthood in every respect except abortion, it wouldn't be good enough. What liberals and their lackeys in the media care about is keeping Planned Parenthood funded and operating because abortion is their highest virtue, the unholy sacrament in their pagan religion of "Choice".

As an aside, if you think the primary care physician shortage is bad now, just wait until single payer goes into effect. As the son of a family doctor I can tell you that the prospect of going to medical school/internship/residency for years and years, getting into an enormous amount of debt, working an often stressful and time consuming job for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than specialists and basically being a government lackey is not going to attract the best and brightest for much longer.

This article from CNN is a prime example of the way the media distorts and outright lies. It is clearly aimed at eliciting a specific response from readers, a response of outrage. How dare those dastardly White men tell this sweet, innocent mom, who happens to be a minority of course, with her touching tale that she has to go to MEXICO to get her birth control pills! This isn't "news", it is brazen partisan propaganda no different from what you would get from Breitbart or National Review. If you want to consume what CNN or MSNBC or Slate or Mother Jones is selling, that is your business. Please at least be honest enough to admit that what it is doesn't fit into the category of news or journalism, it is little more than an opinion piece.

I read stuff like this nonsense from CNN and then I just have to laugh at those who seem genuinely baffled as to why so many Americans have no faith in the mainstream media. Pay attention folks, because you are getting inundated every single day with messages aimed at confusing the issues and squashing dissenting thought. It is only going to get worse.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mennonite Mania

I just got back from an unscheduled trip into Ontario, Canada with some Amish friends who had a sudden death in the family (a 12 year old nephew who died in a freak farm accident). It is beautiful country, very rolling and green with farms everywhere, and almost all of the farms are immaculately well-kept. Given the screwy and borderline draconian laws governing farming (and everything else) in Canada, I can see why they take such good care of their farms. I seriously would love to live in an area like the Waterloo region but there is no way I would be able to deal with the endless meddling and regulations. Besides a decent sized Amish settlement and crazy regulations, the area we were in had something else. Mennonites. Lots and lots and Mennonites.

Conservative Mennonites. Amish Mennonites. Old Order Mennonite. Horse and Buggy Old Order Mennonites. Old Colony Mennonites.

This church was with half a mile of the funeral and one of 4-5
Mennonites churches we passed on the way to the cemetery. 

There were Mennonites everywhere. Now we have a lot of Mennonites in our area but nothing like this. For example, the super conservative (although not Old Order/horse and buggy conservative) Pilgrim Conference, which includes Mennonites and Beachy Amish, has three local congregations in relative proximity to where I live. Up in the Milverton (where the funeral was) area? Just look:

That is a lot of Mennonites and that is just one flavor of Mennonites (who have more flavors than Baskin Robbins). 

I am curious to read up and find out why so many Mennonites ended up here, I am sure there are interesting stories that explain it. Also, why do they stay when it is such a pain to deal with the government? Perhaps I am just hyper-sensitive because I am American, and let's be honest, not a fan of government thugs and bullies. Perhaps their non-resistant position makes them more OK with that issue. Or perhaps it is just tradition, this is where they are from and there are lots of people like them, so it is just easier to stay around that area.

There isn't really a point to this post, just sharing something interesting. If you find yourself in Ontario and you are interested in Anabaptism and/or farming, the area to the north and west of the 401 are really scenic and fascinating. I would much prefer to wander around looking at farms and horse and buggy Mennonites than dealing with millions of people crammed into Toronto!

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.

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 ├ťber 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...