By Cathy Keim
Congratulations to Michael for eleven years of monoblogue! I am truly in awe of his ability to write on a variety of topics while working fulltime, writing for other venues, and squeezing in some time with his family.
I have been missing in action due to other responsibilities, but I hope to jump back in occasionally to comment on events now that my calendar has cleared a bit.
Today’s topic that got me fired up is the two-pronged attack on the “deplorables” of America.
First, Chip and Joanna Gaines of reality TV fame with their popular show Fixer Upper are under siege for attending a church where the pastor preaches the Bible!
My guess is that Chip and Joanna will do just fine, no matter what the totalitarian progressives throw at them. I think that they will count the cost and then pay the price to continue serving Christ as they see fit even if it means losing their TV show.
On an individual level, we are all called to follow God first. However, I do not believe that this means that persecuting the Gaines family for their religious beliefs should be ignored by the rest of us. Indeed, the progressive bullies will only up their assault on Christians if they get away with this power play.
Since we live in a republic and as citizens have the right to help shape our public policies, then it is our duty to speak up for just and equitable treatment of all. There is no evidence that the Chip and Joanna Gaines have been unjust to anybody.
The second attack on normal Americans is the insult that anybody that didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton must be a racist hater. The Clinton campaign staff accused the Trump campaign staff of winning by appealing to racists while they participated in a ”Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics discussion that was intended to record history by drawing out the internal deliberations of both campaigns.”
One example of the bitterness, as expressed by Clinton advisers Jennifer Palmieri and Karen Finney to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and adviser David Bossie:
“Are you going look me in the face and say I provided a platform for white supremacists?” Kellyanne Conway asked incredulously. Both Palmieri and Finney nodded and said “yes.”
“I would rather lose than win the way you did,” Palmieri said.
“You guys are pathetic,” Trump adviser David Bossie replied, accusing them of a smear campaign against Bannon.
(Editor’s note: Bossie is also the National Committeeman for Maryland’s Republican Party.)
I understand that many of the progressives have so imbibed their own poison that they really do believe that most of America is inhabited by racist white people. It was completely shocking to hear one of the Bernie Sanders’ campaign staffers, Symone Sanders, share that the Trump voters longed for the days of slavery to return when they say, “Make America Great Again!”
This is the hard part to comprehend. About half of our nation really and truly believes that the other half is composed of horrible, morally corrupt people that long for white supremacy to rule the country. One can only hope that this continued outrageous shouting of racism will lose it power over the populace when no internment camps pop up.
The Left always wants to divide us. They do not see individual people, but only cogs in a wheel to be manipulated by the government for the good of all (which actually means for the good of the elite.) This is the direct opposite to how our Founding Fathers viewed the people of the United States: the people were to be in control of the government.
The rise of the TEA Party was a response to the out of control government. People were motivated by the sheer volume of government excesses to work to stop them.
The spiraling federal debt, the collapse of the housing market, the takeover of health care, the overregulation of businesses, and a myriad of other governmental excesses led people to stand up and say no more! While the eight-year reign of executive overreach by President Obama seemed to say that the TEA Party was impotent, it actually led to the collapse of the Democrat party.
President Obama set the tone for persecuting Americans that didn’t agree with his policies. The IRS abused its power by going after opponents of Obama. The IRS denied tax exempt status to conservative groups and audited opponents of the Obama administration. The Justice Department refused to prosecute voter intimidation charges in Philadelphia because the accused were black. The government picked winners and losers in the corporate world by giving huge loans to Solyndra only to see them go belly up. The message was clear: you will be rewarded if you do what the government wants and you will be punished if you don’t.
It is terrifying to have your government come after you for not supporting the desired policies. Take the case of Roger Pielke Jr., a professor whose research on climate change crossed the politically correct gospel of climate change. Pielke has been harassed by an assortment of left wing groups funded by billionaires, by politicians, and finally by the president’s science advisor, John Holdren, after Pielke’s testimony before Congress didn’t support Mr. Holdren’s testimony.
Mr. Holdren followed up by posting a strange essay, of nearly 3,000 words, on the White House website under the heading, “An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr.,” where it remains today.
This is stunning that a private citizen who engages in the public forum in his area of expertise should be pilloried by the White House. Fortunately for Pielke - who notes that he indeed believes in anthropogenic climate change, but doesn’t think the evidence is there to support the theory that it has increased the amount or intensity of catastrophic weather events - he has tenure and the backing of his university. Not all citizens are so lucky.
We should not be seeing Americans as black or Hispanic or white. We should not be calling each other climate deniers, deplorables, and white supremacists without any evidence to back the claim. We should be viewing all Americans as people created in the image of God with unalienable rights given by God, not by the government.
The progressives’ effort to delegitimize everyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do will not end well for this country. They are so sure that their hearts are pure, but at the same time they are absolutely convinced that the rest of us are black-hearted scum that do not deserve to live. It is hard to see a path to reconciliation for the country when the opposition is that entrenched in their own reality.
I think that I feel pity for the people that are trapped in the world of their own making that is now imploding around them. They didn’t see it coming. All that they have been taught and have heard in their echo chambers of the media, academia, and popular culture has melted away on election night. My pity is tempered by the realization that they are still quite dangerous and that they consider me and my Christian faith to be contemptible.
May God have mercy on our country and bring healing to us because I do not see any other way to mend the rifts between our citizens.
The next step in my journey to determining my vote is a discussion of those dreaded social issues; you know, the ones that a group in the Republican Party keep trying to sweep under the rug because they fret about losing moderate voters. Well, if voters are moderate they are most likely going to vote for Democrats anyway because to be moderate is to be unprincipled – and Democrats seem to lack principle except in one instance: acquiring political power at the expense of liberty.
(By the way, if you are joining me here, this is the fourth part of the series. You’d be well-served to work through from the first part. I can wait.)
So here are the parameters I’m looking for, in five or fewer bullet points:
- Abortion should not be the law of the land despite what the Supreme Court says – a proper reading of the Constitution would maintain states retain the right to restrict it as they wish. The next President should work to overturn the incorrectly decided Roe v. Wade decision, which hopefully will be looked at by future generations with the disdain the Dred Scott decision is today. No funding for Planned Parenthood and preservation of the Hyde Amendment. Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for abortions, nor should insurers be compelled to cover them.
- The same goes for so-called same-sex “marriage.” I’m fine with the legality of civil unions, but once again the SCOTUS whiffed on Obergefell. It’s properly a state-level issue, too.
- By the same token, religious conscience should be protected. Just because 2 Timothy 3:12 advises Christians that they will face persecution doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a President who fights on our side.
- Guys use the guys room, ladies use the ladies. God gave us a particular set of plumbing and that should be the guide. However, I will say that a truly transgender person really isn’t the problem because they have to use a private stall wherever they go – so no one would ever really know. Maybe “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be the guide for that group.
- I don’t have a problem with a state legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. It’s their right.
This category is worth eight points – not quite to the deal-breaker stage yet, but it may begin to separate the field. And no apologies.
Castle: “Well, I’m a Christian, so I’m opposed to (same-sex ‘marriage.’) I don’t think it exists, because it violates God’s law. But as president, I don’t think it’s any of government’s business. I want to see the government out of the marriage business altogether.”
As for same sex marriage, I have said that I do not believe in it or that it even exists. If I were President and two members of the same sex came to me and said we’re married and here’s a priest, a minister, and a civil magistrate who will attest to that, I would say you are not married because God defines marriage quite clearly in his holy word and you do not meet that definition. However, as President it is irrelevant to me because your relationship is none of my business. It is an abuse of political power to require people to buy a license from the government for permission to engage in whatever relationship they choose. Since there would be no governmental financial advantage to this relationship it is not a governmental concern. (interview with Peter Gemma)
Gender-neutral bathrooms “violate every sense of privacy and decency.”
“Unlike Hillary Clinton who recently said, ‘unborn persons have no constitutional rights’, I know that all ‘persons’ have the right to life and both the 5th and 14th amendments confirm that position. I also know, as does Mrs. Clinton in the deep recesses of her heart, that those waiting in their mother’s womb to be born are in fact persons.
There are many things that a Constitutional President could do about abortion but I will give you a couple.
1. Veto and refuse to spend every penny of funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
2. Recommend to Congress, and work to convince Congress, to take away the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over such matters.”
Would not prosecute mothers who abort child, but would prosecute the abortionists.
Would not tell a baker to bake a cake for a same-sex ceremony if their views conflict. (Iron Sharpens Iron radio show)
Hedges: Those who distribute alcohol/drugs should be responsible for effects on those served (dram shop laws). But don’t prosecute individual drug users. Would allow medical marijuana, although many party members would disagree.
A prohibition on gambling, including state lotteries as they are a regressive tax.
Not all religions should be equally prohibited. ACLU is backward: U.S. is nation of all religions, not no religion.
Family is basis for society.
“I believe all lives matter.” Abortions since 1973 are “absolute travesty.” (VP candidate Bill Bayes)
“We deplore the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage as an abomination to God. We call for a constitutional amendment, which shall read as follows: ‘Marriage is, historically, an Institution and Sacrament of the Church. Only the Church shall decide what qualifies as a ‘marriage.’ For the purpose of two individuals who need only legal protection, such as for inheritance and for power of attorney one for the other, the state may license Civil Unions.’” (party platform)
Voluntary prayer and other religious activities shall not be prohibited in schools and public spaces. (party platform)
“We consider abortion to be morally repugnant. We will implement policies to minimize the number of abortions without infringing on the doctor/patient relationship and without thrusting government into family decisions about child rearing. Abortion procedures should not be funded by government.” (party platform)
Hoefling: (T)he God-given, unalienable right to life of every innocent person, from biological inception or creation to natural death, be protected everywhere within every state, territory and jurisdiction of the United States of America; that every officer of the judicial, legislative and executive departments, at every level and in every branch, is required to use all lawful means to protect every innocent life within their jurisdictions; and that we will henceforth deem failure to carry out this supreme sworn duty to be cause for removal from public office via impeachment or recall, or by statutory or electoral means, notwithstanding any law passed by any legislative body within the United States, or the decision of any court, or the decree of any executive officer, at any level of governance, to the contrary. (party platform)
We seek the passage of a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and oppose all attempts everywhere to redefine marriage as being anything but what it has always been: the union of one man and one woman. Since the natural family is the basic God-given institution of our civilization, and the nursery of our future, it must be protected from all who would destroy it. (party platform)
Johnson: Protect Religious Freedom. Enforce Common Sense Non-discrimiation Laws.
Gov. Gary Johnson will zealously defend the Constitution of the United States and all of its amendments, including religious freedom. The right to practice one’s religion is a fundamental part of being an American and must be preserved. Johnson personally credits his own religious upbringing as a Lutheran in the definition of his own beliefs and character.
Yet there have been times in our history when religion has been invoked to justify serious harm. In years past, opponents of interracial marriage, desegregation and other efforts to protect civil rights have too often cited scripture and religion in making their arguments.
To be blunt, certain politicians have twisted religious liberty and used it as a tool to discriminate. That’s just wrong, and the overwhelming majority of religious leaders agree.
Gary Johnson believes we can, and must, strike a balance between our shared American values of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination. Today, in some states, politically-driven legislation which claims to promote religious liberty but instead rolls back the legal protections held by LGBT Americans is failing that test of balance.
When it comes to civil rights and the rights of the LGBT community, states are best served when they take an inclusive approach of “fairness to all.”
Conversely, divisive and thinly-veiled legislation clearly aimed at LGBT individuals serves no one, and is not the American way.
One state who “got it right” is Utah. In a compromise worked out among religious leaders, lawmakers and members of the LGBT community, Utah enacted a law making clear that discrimination in employment, housing, and government services is illegal. At the same time, the law granted common sense protections to insure that the legitimate First Amendment rights of individuals and religious organizations cannot be put at risk.
In short, Utah found a way to protect religious freedom without creating a “right to discriminate”.
America is big enough to accommodate differences of opinion and practice in religious and social beliefs. As a nation and as a society, we must reject discrimination, forcefully and without asterisks while at the same time we must protect our important religious freedoms. (campaign website)
Appreciate Life. Respect Choice. Stay Out of Personal Decisions.
Gary Johnson has the utmost respect for the deeply-held convictions of those on both sides of the abortion issue. It is an intensely personal question, and one that government is ill-equipped to answer.
On a personal level, Gary Johnson believes in the sanctity of the life of the unborn. As Governor, he supported efforts to ban late-term abortions.
However, Gov. Johnson recognizes that the right of a woman to choose is the law of the land, and has been for several decades. That right must be respected and despite his personal aversion to abortion, he believes that such a very personal and individual decision is best left to women and families, not the government. He feels that each woman must be allowed to make decisions about her own health and well-being and that the government should not be in the business of second guessing these difficult decisions.
Gov. Johnson feels strongly that women seeking to exercise their legal right must not be subjected to prosecution or denied access to health services by politicians in Washington, or anywhere else. (campaign website)
Save money. Change lives. Protect families.
The Federal government should not stand in the way of states that choose to legalize marijuana. Governors Johnson and Weld would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which will allow individual states to make their own decisions about both recreational and medical marijuana — just as they have done for decades with alcohol. Eliminating the Federal government as an obstacle to state legalization decisions is not only constitutionally sound, but would allow much-needed testing of marijuana for medical purposes, as well as regulation that reflects individual states’ values and needs.
The health benefits of cannabis in pain treatment has already proven to be safer and less addictive than current pain medications such as opioids. Pharmaceutical companies need to be allowed to conduct medical testing on cannabis. This is better for all Americans. A President that is not afraid to tackle the tough issues would understand that de-scheduling cannabis and allowing medical research is the right thing to do.
The marijuana black market has created a non-stop crime epidemic. Thousands of lives are lost each year in trafficking along the Mexican boarder alone. The War on Drugs has been an expensive failure. We spend money to police it. We spend money to incarcerate nonviolent offenders. And what do we get in return? A society that kicks our troubled mothers, fathers, and young adults while they’re down, instead of giving them the tools to be healthier and more productive members of society. Crime and wasted lives has produced a circle of failure….and it needs to stop.
We can save thousands of lives and billions of dollars by simply changing our approach to drug abuse. That is why Gary Johnson came out as an early proponent on the national stage in 1999 while Governor of New Mexico, and publicly stated his support of marijuana legalization.
Governors Johnson and Weld do not support the legalization of other recreational drugs that are currently illegal. It is, however, their belief that drug rehabilitation and harm-reduction programs result in a more productive society than incarceration and arrests for drug use. (campaign website)
This is why Gary Johnson embraced marriage equality before many current Democratic leaders joined the parade. He was also the highest ranking official to call for an end to the drug war and start treating drug abuse like a disease instead of a crime.
His vice presidential running mate, Governor Bill Weld, was not only an early proponent of civil rights for gays and lesbians, he actually appointed the judge who wrote the opinion that established marriage equality as a matter of constitutional right. He is also an outspoken defender of a woman’s right to choose, rather than allow the government to make such an important and personal decision for them.
Unlike Governors Johnson and Weld, those in power today are steadily eroding the personal freedoms that our government was established to protect.
Gary Johnson believes that people, not politicians, should make choices in their personal lives. Responsible adults should be free to marry whom they want, arm themselves if they want, and lead their personal lives as they see fit — as long as they aren’t harming anyone else in doing so. (campaign website)
McMullin: Our respect for life is the most important measure of our humanity. From conception to death – and any time in between – life is precious and we have a responsibility to protect it. A culture that subsidizes abortion on demand runs counter to the fundamental American belief in the potential of every person – it undermines the dignity of mother and child alike. Americans can and should work together to increase support and resources to reduce unintended pregnancies and encourage adoption, even if they may have different opinions on abortion rights.
Religious liberty is freedom of conscience, inherently connected to actions and expression; it’s the grace to let others pursue their convictions and the willingness to welcome a marketplace of diverse ideas. This freedom is central to the American experiment, and it should be protected, not disparaged. At a time when global religious persecution is at record highs, America must prioritize the defense of this core human right in our diplomatic efforts. Our moral authority to defend religious freedom abroad relies on the vitality of religious freedom here at home. Our government should not target religious groups for discrimination or marginalization based on the obligations of their faith, but instead recognize that religious diversity and robust pluralism are foundational sources of strength for our nation. (campaign website)
Evan McMullin told Mark Halperin he is personally opposed to redefining marriage but that he would do nothing to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Bloomberg News webcast, “With All Due Respect.”
“As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but I respect the decision of the Court, and I think it’s time to move on,” McMullin said, echoing moderate Republican presidential hopefuls.
When pressed, McMullin said he would have “ideally” liked to see the issue decided by the states, “but it’s been handled by the Supreme Court, and that’s where it is.”
McMullin said he bases his definition of marriage on his Mormon faith, but “my faith isn’t everybody else’s faith. I make my decisions for me [based] on those kinds of things.”
When Halperin asked if a President McMullin would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the case nullifying state marriage protection laws nationwide, Obergefell v. Hodges, he replied, “I wouldn’t.” (LifeSite News)
I like Darrell Castle‘s thought process, as he posits an argument that has merit when it comes to marriage as a whole, because it is a legitimate option states could take if they so chose. He’s also very sound on the abortion issue since indeed Congress could remove that area of jurisdiction – in fact, they could very easily rein in the SCOTUS if they had the desire to do so. Overall he does extremely well in this category. 7 points.
Jim Hedges is a little weak on abortion, but on the other hand he gives the other legitimate counter-argument with regard to marriage: since it would take 38 states to ratify a Federal Marriage Amendment, it would occur in a situation where the vast majority of states were already on board. I’m not sure a federal ban on gambling would be enforceable, but I could see this as being a benefit overall since lotteries are indeed regressive taxes. I also agree with him on voluntary prayer. 6 points.
I appreciate Tom Hoefling‘s passion for life. But I’m curious how all that shakes out with the rule of law as it currently exists. Indeed, as an inalienable right life comes before liberty for a reason - for without life there is no liberty. Yet this nation lives under a Constitution that prohibits “notwithstanding any law passed…to the contrary.” It makes me question where he feels the extent of his executive power would lie, and that is troubling too. I don’t want to trade one Trump (or Obama) for another, no matter how well-intentioned. 3 points.
When a woman’s liberty is deemed to trump the unborn’s right to life, that is a non-starter with me. But Gary Johnson goes there. Johnson also cites Utah’s anti-discrimination law as a model to follow, even though the head of Equality Utah noted the law Johnson cites has, “among the broadest religious exemptions in the country, and you would never want to cut and paste (their law.)” He called the bill “a milestone for Utah, but not a model for the country.” So it wasn’t the grand compromise Johnson makes it out to be.
Johnson and Weld seem to turn their back on Judeo-Christian values in the name of liberty – but I contend America needs the guardrails for its system of government is intended “only for a moral and religious people.” Only because they are relatively permissive on marijuana do they score at all here. 1 point.
Evan McMullin may be a decent and pious man, but in his statement he shows that he does not have the gumption to stand up for what is right. Whether it’s in the name of “pragmatic” political expediency or the belief that people need to be left alone and to “move on,” he forgoes the use of his bully pulpit at a time when it’s more necessary than ever. Shameful. No points.
It is on that sour note that I inform you the next part will deal with pocketbook issues, specifically trade and job creation.
By Cathy Keim
The whole immigration debate is being presented by the elites and the media as a simple choice: The big hearted Americans should open their cities and homes to welcome the underprivileged, needy people from around the world, but especially from areas like Syria that are wracked by war. Liberal churches jump on the bandwagon preaching the need to love the stranger and welcome him.
If anyone tries to mention any concerns or ask for caution, they are shouted down and denounced as racists, bigots, haters, un-Christian, and selfish. The debate is especially problematic for Christians, as Christians in America are under attack on every front. The conservative Christian’s stance on abortion, marriage, and gender ensure that he is already classified as a hypocritical, bigoted hater. The politically correct war on religious speech is in full attack mode to silence anybody who dares to resist the prescribed agenda.
Due to this tenuous position, Christians are leery of pointing out that Islam is not compatible with American principles. Although America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, the elites in control now prefer to reject that information. The new attitudes on gay marriage, gender identity, and the sanctity of life are being used to portray Christians as dangerous right-wing kooks capable of blowing up buildings and people. At the same time those same elites are pushing Islam on America in the form of immigrants and refugees. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, since the Sharia adhering Muslims are against gay marriage and transgender individuals. It does begin to fit together when you realize that the elites are not concerned with the welfare of the gays, transgenders, or the Muslims. They are merely using them to gain positions of power by destroying the existing social order.
Since this nation was founded on Christian principles, then it follows that to destroy our nation the Christian foundation must be destroyed. While the number of gay and transgender people is relatively small, I think that the elites may be making a strategic error in their importation of Muslims to change America by changing her people. Muslims show no sign of assimilating and becoming decadent progressive westerners.
Christians know that religious liberty is under assault. They realize that if they make any moves to restrict the growth of Islam, the elites will be all too ready to try and restrict the liberties of the Christians. The key difference that needs to be repeated and repeated is that Islam is a totalitarian political ideology not a religion, a subject I will address in my next blogpost.
Until the elites notice their error, the rest of the country must live with an increasingly belligerent Muslim population. There are two factors which the elites may be missing or ignoring:
- Muslims are commanded to migrate to spread Islam. This is called the hijrah.
- Second generation Muslims, even though assimilated more so in America than in Europe, are still more likely to become radicalized than the first generation Muslims.
All of the talk about vetting the Syrian refugees to screen out ISIS plants is not going to solve the bigger issue of the hijrah. The FBI has already acknowledged that they cannot screen the refugees well since they are refugees. They have fled cities that were razed, bombed, and burned and they didn’t bring their birth certificates with them as they fled for their lives. However, they do bring their belief in sharia law and their centuries old prejudices against Christians, infidels, women, and homosexuals.
The first generation of refugees or immigrants may be happy to have escaped from the terror and deprivation that was their homeland, but many in the American-born second generation show a distinct desire to embrace radical jihadism. The FBI has over 900 active cases of people they are watching, and we don’t know how many more need to be watched. The Orlando nightclub killer was a second generation Muslim. The San Bernardino killer was a second generation Muslim. One of the Garland, Texas attackers was a second generation Muslim. The Ft. Hood massacre was perpetrated by a second generation Muslim.
Clearly, just vetting the people that we let into the country does not prevent the second generation from becoming jihadists. Since we can show that in America we have not forced the Muslims into ghettos and not allowed them to partake fully in our society as is the excuse given for the Muslim attacks in France, then what are we to do to protect ourselves?
First, our elites need to educate themselves on what is really happening and quit believing that since their hearts are pure and they want to feel good about themselves and how generous and unselfish they are that it will all turn out well. The progressives that think that their generous thoughts are all that matter and the catastrophic consequences that follow their foolish policies are not their problem, need to wake up. Equally guilty are the other elites who believe that crony capitalism is their ticket to power. They facilitate the influx of Muslims as cheap labor for industry. This group really irritates me because they are selling us out for money and power while lying to us that they are pro-Constitution and will fight for American values.
These two groups of elites have flooded our country with illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers since 1965. We are a big country, but we cannot absorb all the illiterate, unhealthy masses that have been flooding the USA for decades when the elites are tearing down all American patriotic beliefs. The invaders are not asked to adhere to the principles that define America. We are a diverse people, but we are united by our belief in the American Dream, the laws of the land, and our founding documents. This is being replaced by the centuries-old ethnic, racial hatreds that separate us into warring tribes.
We need to halt immigration until we can assimilate those that are here. We need to enforce our immigration laws that are on the books. We need to revise the refugee system. Currently, the UN is picking our refugees for us from their camps. The Christians that are fleeing from ISIS do not go to the UN camps because they are persecuted there by the fleeing Muslims. Since the Christians do not go to the UN camps, the UN doesn’t pick them to come to America.
Now you know why hardly any Christians have been amongst the refugees that have arrived already and why there will not be any in the future unless our politicians wake up. Politicians never wake up until they are forced to do so. Our political system has succumbed to crony capitalism and progressive utopian schemes. There are very few leaders in DC speaking for the common man.
In the wake of a senseless tragedy perpetrated by a radical Islamist in Orlando, the natural reaction to a group of radical Christians in Iowa is disappointing but not surprising. The crime of the Iowans? In the case of Governor Terry Branstad, it’s signing a proclamation for the Iowa 99 County Bible Reading Marathon, slated for June 30 to July 3 in front of every Iowa county courthouse. In response, he may be sued by the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. From the Daily Signal:
Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told The Daily Signal that her organization, an atheist and agnostic nonprofit based in Madison, Wisconsin, is asking Branstad to rescind the proclamation.
“It’s totally beyond the purview of a governor or any public official to request that people read the Bible, much less that they engage in a Bible marathon or that they read any ‘holy book,’” Gaylor told The Daily Signal. She added: “Government is supposed to be neutral towards religion. It’s not supposed to play favorites.”
Gaylor says the proclamation is “unconstitutional” and “egregious” and that her organization is “hoping to sue.”
“We have a godless, secular Constitution,” Gaylor said. “There’s no Bible in it.”
I would argue that we have what’s pretty much become a Godless, secular nation thanks to people like Gaylor, but that’s not really the point.
Insofar as I know, no one is going to be rounded up and herded off to these county courthouses to be forced to listen to Bible verses and prayer. Obviously this is a volunteer, freewill effort that will be conducted on the public square and Governor Branstad is expressing his support, presumably as a fellow Christian. I wouldn’t mind seeing the same occur in Maryland and Delaware.
Granted, there’s a supposed separation of church and state, but to me it doesn’t mean the state can’t sponsor religious activities. A proper interpretation of that doctrine is to know there is no Church of America, such as there’s a Church of England. I attend a Baptist church, but that makes me no more or less an American than someone who goes to the Catholic cathedral, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple, Islamic mosque, or any of the other sects who believe in a Creator. (Or those who don’t believe in one.)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t equate the perceived inconvenience of having to avoid a corner of the courthouse lawn to not hear a prayer service with someone of any denomination expressing his religious beliefs via a mass shooting, simply for the offense of being gay. (That assumes there were no straight people in the club, which there surely were.) Is it really that terrible that people want to pray?
Recently I had a medical scare that turned out to be minor, but one thing that surely kept it minor was being lifted up in prayer by members of my church, friends, and people who hardly knew me but were concerned. I was not concerned about the denomination of those who prayed for me, but appreciated the thoughts and prayers. There was no “right” prayer, just a good volume. Maybe in this time of strife we need a larger volume of prayer for our nation, you think?
I think the Iowa Prayer Caucus state director, Ginny Caligiuri, summed this up just right:
We are reading the Word of God on the grounds of our courthouses because we as a nation have turned from our biblical foundations and our nation is in big trouble.
Amen. No harm, no foul, so read away!
By Cathy Keim
Yesterday morning I attended the 6th Annual National Day of Prayer Breakfast at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. The Midway Room was packed with about 500 guests, and the event was the usual mix of local dignitaries, pastors, and citizens. There was the Presentation of Colors by the Color Guard of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance led by Sheriff Mike Lewis. The Salisbury Christian School Concert Band provided breakfast music and an assortment of local leaders led the invocation, prayers, Bible readings, and singing.
All in all, it was a pretty standard ecumenical religious event. However, I know that I felt a difference. Instead of taking it for granted that we were meeting with the general approval of the majority of the citizens in our county, I wondered how many of our fellow citizens would view the event with derision or suspicion? In fact, a fellow guest shared that he had heard some folks poking fun at the gathering.
It is not just my imagination that the public’s attitude towards Christians has shifted from acceptance to suspicion. Where politicians would once attend church (at least for public view), now there is no need for that.
I was speaking to a young man about a character reference for a job just last week. In the past, his pastor would have been petitioned for a letter, but now that might not be who you want to write your reference.
The guest speaker at the prayer breakfast was Randy Singer, a lawyer and pastor, from Virginia Beach. He addressed the change in our nation by comparing us to Rome in the time of Nero and the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment. Even those of us with public school educations know that Nero was one of the very worst Roman emperors. From that unflattering comparison, Mr. Singer assured us that while our country is in distress, we are not without hope.
People can endure much, but when hope is lost, people languish. Mr. Singer pointed to the lengthy difficulties under which Paul had suffered for years and yet this is what Paul wrote from prison in Philippians 1:3-8 (NIV):
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Christians in America, we are to have hope that whether we are in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, we all share in God’s grace with the Apostle Paul. I do not know how many more public meetings of Christians will be endorsed by our elected leaders. The need for Christians to stand firm on multiple principles such as marriage, gender, pro-life, assisted suicide, and freedom of speech, just to name a few, will be put to the test if you have escaped thus far.
Just stating the Biblical truth that marriage is between a man and a woman can jeopardize your employment. Countless companies and organizations are coercing employees to submit to seminars to prevent “discrimination.” If somebody objects, then they are forced to take more courses or be fired. We can lament the change in our country and feel discouraged, or we can emulate the Apostle Paul and look to our Lord Jesus Christ with hope that we are living exactly in the time that God intended and that He will see us through the murky path ahead.
Yes, America has changed and many of us would say not for the better, but we are to share the hope that is within us, not to obsess on the decline of the nation that we love.
Where once the civil religion and Christianity were viewed as the almost the same thing, now Christianity is portrayed as repressive, old-fashioned, boring, or worse. The materialists, atheists, and progressives do not need to wrap themselves in a civil religion to gain acceptance. We are in a new time and place in our country or so the materialists, atheists, and progressives would say.
However, God gave this promise to King Solomon in ancient Israel because He knows that proud men will overreach and when they do this is what must be done:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14
Christians, continue to pray, work, and engage in your community, not with fear or a sense of loss for what was, but with the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are living right where we are meant to be.
Imagine, if you will, a gathering of one lady and 15 distinguished gentlemen. Nine of them had served as the governor of their state, most for multiple terms. Another five have served the nation in its highest legislative body, while one was a world-renowned neurosurgeon and the lady worked her up to CEO of a large hi-tech corporation.
Now, if you’ve ever watched the movie Caddyshack, imagine the character Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield’s character) – loud, bawdy, and obnoxious. Our version of Al, bullying his way into this genteel affair, was Donald Trump. Yet he emerged victorious, in part due to that brash personality but also thanks to a heaping helping of populist rhetoric that sounded so good 40 percent of the Republicans voted for him. (That’s assuming, of course, our side hasn’t been hoodwinked by a massive version of Operation Chaos – and given the number of people who switched their registration from Democrat to Republican or voted in open primaries, I wouldn’t put it past them.) I say “sounded good” because, by and large, his rhetoric had the depth of a cookie sheet.
One upshot of this in Maryland is that the state Republican Party was poised to exceed one million members for (I believe) the first time ever. (As of the end of March, the MDGOP had 997,211 voters, which was an increase of about 16,000 from February – so the trend may have put them over the top.) But that success will be short-lived with Trump, who has disgusted so many erstwhile Republicans that a decrease of 50,000 Maryland Republicans in the next couple months isn’t out of the question.
So now I am hearing the old complaint that not voting for Trump will be a vote for Hillary. No, for conservatives, not voting for Trump will be a repudiation of the direction the Republican Party has taken since Barack Obama took office, and arguably since Ronald Reagan left.
You see, if Congress had shown any stones whatsoever, rank-and-file Republicans would not have felt the need to shake things up by electing an outsider as President. Perhaps Ted Cruz would not have felt the need to run for President in the first place, and the Republican nomination may well be coming down to a contest between two or three of those governors, or perhaps another Senator or the CEO with business experience.
Instead we get Trump, who basically ignores one leg of the conservative stool by praising Planned Parenthood and giving short shrift to religious liberty. Limited government doesn’t seem to be his bag either, since he’s pledged to let Social Security and Medicare go without reforming them and pandered to Iowa farmers by promising to keep ethanol subsidies going. Where most GOP candidates run right in the primary and tack to the center for the general election, Trump is already in the middle so he will likely soften some of his more conservative positions as part of the flexibility in getting the deal done. It’s getting to the point where Trump and Clinton are not all that distinguishable from each other.
And about getting those deals done. Conservatives have wanted a border fence for more than a decade; in fact, the authorizing legislation was passed under President Bush. So why do I think that The Donald will get his fence once he promises to Democrats he will create a bigger, more beautiful door for it? Since he’s the de facto head of the Republican Party now, when is he going to negotiate with Congressional Republicans and work in a more conservative direction? Perhaps the twelfth of never? We will get the “touchback” amnesty, but then the Democrats will just say “forget the touchback part.”
Finally, to borrow a phrase from another movie, I find Donald Trump to be like a box of chocolates, because you never know which one you’ll get. He’s not exactly the poster child for consistency so a Trump administration would be a constant guessing game.
I suppose my advice to voters in those remaining primary states is to show up and vote your conscience if you’re not a Donald Trump supporter. Don’t change parties yet, and get out and vote for Ted Cruz, John Kasich, or anyone else but Trump. Keeping him under 50% of the overall national vote would be a good way to send a message that we’re not sold on Trump as the nominee.
You have to give Donald Trump credit for one thing: he was smart enough to run in a dysfunctional political year. In that case, he has been the perfect candidate – too bad voters like me were looking for order after the disarray of the last eight years. And I will say: had I written this last night, the word “campaign” would not have been in the title. But the Grand Old Party may want to prepare for some stormy days ahead.
Over the last couple weeks I have been trying to get a reading on who I would like to be my Senator from the great state of Maryland. (Spoiler alert: Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen ain’t going to cut it.) It’s been a process of trying to get questions answered, checking websites, and watching some of the debates in order to figure out who the best candidate for me would be.
There are 14 Republicans running for the Senate seat, a number which is unusually high. (In previous cycles, it was closer to 10 candidates.) Of course, with that many candidates in a statewide race it becomes apparent early on who has the most legitimate shot at winning. Granted, this has been helped somewhat by media perception, such as which hopefuls are invited to debates, but realistically only about half of those 14 candidates have any real shot – the rest are just ballot filler. In fact, when I asked the questions of candidates only 12 of the 14 had good e-mails, and two of those 12 have no website insofar as I can tell. (Another has a website with just a front page and no functionality). Sadly, the pair without websites are two of those who answered my questions – but the larger question is how you can beat someone who has $3.6 million in the bank like Chris Van Hollen does? You need money to get your message out.
By the time you separate the wheat from the chaff you get about a half-dozen somewhat serious candidates, with a couple on a lower tier that are running campaigns more suited to a Congressional level. Greg Holmes is one, with another being Anthony Seda, who has pointed out he’s not accepting contributions. Noble, but suicidal in the real world of politics. Let me repeat: you need money to get your message out.
So in my estimation, the race comes down to five: Richard Douglas, Joe Hooe, Chrys Kefalas, Kathy Szeliga, and Dave Wallace. In the last debate I watched there were only three participants as Hooe and Wallace were not invited. Another debate featured all but Wallace, while the Goucher College debate had Holmes, Hooe, and Wallace along with Douglas and Kefalas (Szeliga skipped this debate for a Maryland GOP event.)
So here is how I would categorize the contenders, in alphabetical order.
Richard Douglas is the only one of the five to have run a statewide campaign before, but I’m not seeing that pointed out as an advantage. He also has the benefit of experience working in the Senate, but in this topsy-turvy electoral year he’s forced to run more as an outsider because that’s the political mood. His campaign to me has been an intriguing concoction of a hawkish foreign policy combined with a populist economic outlook. He’s one of only two of the five who has answered my list of questions, and as one would expect I found his answers to be strongest on foreign policy, immigration, and to some extent the role of government. (I also know Richard has religious freedom bona fides.)
In 2012 when Richard ran for Senate and lost to Dan Bongino, I noted he would have been my 1A candidate after Bongino, who I endorsed. I would have been as comfortable with him winning as the eventual nominee, and at this point he’s done nothing to change that assessment given this field. Still, he speaks the language of an insider and that may hurt him.
Joe Hooe has made his key issue that of immigration, advocating for a paid guest worker program he claims will raise $80 billion. He claims it will make taxpayers out of illegal aliens, but my question is whether we could track such a program when we have no clue how many people are in the country illegally because they crossed the border and how many are illegal because they overstayed their visa. And if they refuse to pay to work, how will we enforce this new fee? If they are here illegally, then I doubt they’re suddenly going to have a “come to Jesus” moment and decide to follow a law that will cost them $1,000.
One thing I do like about Hooe is his advocacy for apprenticeship programs, but to me that is more of a state concern than a federal concern. Perhaps it’s the aspect of having to be elected by the people (which was not the original intent of the Founding Fathers) but I think all of these candidates conflate the roles of the federal and state governments to some degree. Education is one of many areas where there should be no government role.
Chrys Kefalas has a background that I think would serve him well, particularly since he’s involved with the manufacturing field. He does well on trade and job creation, but my question is whether he would be anything different than what we have now concerning the social issues leg of the Reaganesque three-legged conservative stool. Surely he (and some others) argue that Maryland has settled on its position regarding social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, but that doesn’t mean we should stop working toward Judeo-Christian values where life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one woman. It’s not quite enough to keep me from voting for Chrys on a general election ballot but many thousands of voters realize a two-legged stool doesn’t work.
Maryland Republicans run into trouble when they try to out-liberal the Democrats on certain issues: if you’re a voter who’s going to vote based on the belief that the unborn is just a blob of tissue and no harm comes to society when anyone can marry anyone else they want – and why stop at one, right? – it’s not likely they’re going to be conservative everywhere else. Meanwhile, you just dispirit the percentage of GOP voters who have that passion for Judeo-Christian values. “I’m only voting for President,” they’ll say. It can be argued that Larry Hogan’s victory was an example of putting social issues on the back burner, but aside from Hogan getting the benefit of a depressed liberal Democrat turnout in 2014, ignoring social issues doesn’t play as well on a national race.
Kathy Szeliga is the “establishment” candidate trying desperately to portray herself as an everyday outsider. With the vast majority of Maryland’s General Assembly Republicans favoring her – mainly because she’s served as a Delegate for six years – she also has received the most attention and support in the race. Using my monoblogue Accountability Project as a guide, her lifetime score of 83 would put her in the upper third of those who have served with her over the years, although her score was more mediocre in 2015 (a 72 rating.) She’s also served as one of the faces of General Assembly Republicans - witness this video, one of a string she has done with fellow Delegate Susan Aumann:
Having said all that, there are two main things that disturb me about Szeliga’s campaign. For one, she has no “issues” page on her website, and I always subscribe to the theory that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. (The same is true for Kefalas.) However, she is reasonably good about answering questions and participating in debates.
But on that point you can tell she is a professional politician. Most of Kathy’s answers seem to be empty platitudes about her life and experiences being a mom, business owner, etc. rather than substantive discussions of the issue at hand. (On the other hand, Richard Douglas has a tendency to talk over the level of the average voter.) Not to be patronizing, but I suspect someone is telling Kathy women voters who would normally be afraid to vote Republican need to be addressed in a non-threatening way – never mind the Democrat who survives the primary will try and paint Szeliga (or any of the others, including the more socially moderate Kefalas) as a stereotypical Republican anyhow.
Dave Wallace, out of the five candidates, seems to be the most conservative. Having read a lengthy treatise of his, most of what he has to say makes sense on a policy level and for that reason I’m leaning his way at this point.
Yet having said that, we also know that Dave lost to a likely opponent by 22 points in a district which is, admittedly based on registration, a D+23 district as it currently stands. In that respect, though, it’s not as bad as the state at large (which is D+32.) We have seen this movie before: Dan Bongino lost by 30 in a 3-way race in 2012, Eric Wargotz by 26 in 2010, Michael Steele by 10 in 2006, E.J. Pipkin by 31 points in 2004, and so forth. I really don’t want a 30-point loss again; unfortunately, too many Maryland voters are stubborn like a mule in voting against their self-interest. (If they “got it,” the most conservative candidate would always win.)
Dave seems like a nice guy and a policy wonk, which I like. But the question is whether he can be a bulldog and attack the Democratic candidate for the failure of the last seven years.
This may not necessarily apply to Dave, although I’m using his space, but I don’t like talk about bipartisanship from any Republican hopeful because Democrats at a national level will nearly always take the hand you reach out to them with, twist your arm off, and proceed to beat you with it. Anyone remember “read my lips?” One of the reasons the bulk of Republicans are fed up with the political system is the lack of intestinal fortitude they see from the politicians they sent to Washington with the message “it’s always been done this way” is not cutting it anymore.
When the TEA Party wave in 2010 put the GOP back in charge of the House, the excuse was “we only control one half of one-third of the government.” Indeed, a do-nothing Senate was a problem. But when the do-nothing Senate was flipped to Republican control in 2014, we still heard excuses about why we couldn’t get anything done. If you want a reason for the rise of Donald Trump, you don’t need to look much further. (Never mind Trump’s not conservative and the bulk of his policy statements have the depth of a cookie sheet. He talks tough.)
If I were to rank my choices in this horserace at the moment, it would go Wallace and Douglas fairly close going into the final turn, with Kefalas a neck ahead of Szeliga for third on the outside and Hooe bringing up the rear. (The rest are chewing hay in the infield.) As it stands now, I will make my endorsement the second Sunday before the primary (April 17.)
In the coming days I will rank the three contenders for the First District Congressional seat. [Yes, there are four Republicans on the ballot but Jonathan Goff is such a strong Trump supporter that he is disqualified. (#NeverTrump strikes again.)] That race is a little different because the incumbent is a Republican so the question becomes whether we want a more straight-ahead conservative or someone who has the reputation of being more liberty-minded? I’ll do some research and hear from one of the three candidates in person in the coming days to help me decide.
Update: Want more? Here you go.
The curious case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of courts who has defied the Supreme Court in the name of her religious beliefs, has sparked a lot of argument on both sides.
On the one hand, you have the people who claim the SCOTUS decision is the law of the land and Davis is not doing the job she took an oath to do as an elected official. (The interesting sidebar to me is that she’s an elected Democrat, but suddenly that’s not important. I could imagine what it would be like if she were elected as a Republican, but I digress.) If she doesn’t want to do her job – and issuing marriage licenses is part of the job – she should resign, they say.
But then you have the Davis supporters who are applauding her determination in the face of being jailed for contempt of court. (Then again, she’s an elected official so she has a job waiting for her. I’m not so sure those under her who are reluctantly doing these marriage licenses have that option, which is why they are complying.) These supporters also believe that SCOTUS is making law instead of interpreting it as they are supposed to, particularly since the Commonwealth of Kentucky defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. As has often been the case, they continue, it’s five unelected judges overturning the will of the people.
Yet I find it interesting that Rowan County is suddenly a gay marriage hotbed. Admittedly, I have very limited experience with the state except for traveling through it en route to another destination as both a kid going to and from Florida to see my grandparents and as an adult returning from Missouri to visit relatives. If I have spent 24 hours in the state in my life I would be surprised, despite the fact I stayed overnight in the Cincinnati area one time. So I assumed Rowan County was home to Lexington or Louisville; instead it is a rural county in the eastern part of the state, bisected by I-64 and home to Morehead State University. Maybe it’s scenic – I really don’t have any lasting memory of driving through there, although I have – but I can’t see why someone would come from another place to get married there.
I also marvel at those who believe the five Supremes who made up the Obergefell majority got it right. If so, I guess they are fine with “separate but equal” and blacks not being citizens. Those were Supreme Court edicts as well.
Personally, I think it’s just like the cases of the florist, cake creator, and others who cited their religious beliefs against same-sex marriage in refusing service. Somehow that small group of activists caught word that Davis was not playing along with their desire to normalize same-sex marriage so it was decided to make an example of her.
Further, I think it’s the first step of a battle that’s going to move from individuals to institutions. What if the same-sex couple who just got their marriage license wants to get married in a particular church, one which believes that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman? Would the Supreme Court step in there?
The end game that is in play is twofold: one part is to eliminate the tax-exempt status churches enjoy, which would create great financial harm to many smaller congregations, while the other is to further eliminate the influence religion has by conditioning the God-fearing to suffer under the perception of being considered a bigot, making them afraid to speak out. At the exit of our church there’s a sign about entering the mission field, so the job of the radical gay lobby seems to be that of pushing the seed to stony places and thorns.
At best, gay marriage should be a state issue. We in Maryland voted – unwisely, in my opinion, but the narrow majority ruled – to make it the law of the state. Other states may not want it, but the hammer of the SCOTUS came down and said they had to, ignoring the Tenth Amendment because I don’t see anything in my copy of the Constitution that gives the federal government the right to determine who can or can’t be married. Yet we have adopted this religious construct as a legal term, one which confers certain rights. (And that’s why I had no real issue with civil unions.)
Proponents of gay marriage often tell those of us on the “one man, one woman” side that if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one. They snivelingly ask, “how is a gay couple getting married hurting you?” and tell us that marriage between opposite-sex couples isn’t doing all that well considering the divorce rate.
Yet I have to ask back: what benefits are we getting from gay marriage? They cannot naturally have children, which will cause further splintering of the already-tattered family unit because now a third person will be involved as a surrogate mother or sperm donor.
But to me that is small potatoes compared to the Pandora’s box we are opening. If you are a man who can marry another man, why can’t you marry a child, even a child of yours? Or why not two so you can have one of each gender? When it’s all about #lovewins, thoughts of the legacy we leave behind are out of sight and out of mind.
Based on choices we make and sometimes cruel twists of fate, in life we cannot always get what we want. Regardless of how much I dreamed about it or how many hours I spent playing in the park and the backyard, I’m not looking back on a Hall of Fame baseball career because I didn’t have the skills to be anymore than a benchwarmer in JV baseball. Similarly, the young man in Missouri who considers himself a girl is still a guy even though he wears women’s clothes – no matter how much he may wish it so, he can’t change biology regardless of how many hormones and medical procedures he may endure.
Perhaps one is born gay, which to me as it relates to marriage falls under cruel twist of fate. There’s nothing that says they can’t have meaningful relationships and share their lives together. I just don’t believe they can call themselves married because that’s reserved for the union of one man and one woman.
Since the Supreme Court is always right, why not go “separate but equal” – marriage licenses for opposite-sex and civil union licenses for same-sex. Everyone’s happy and maybe Kim Davis can get out of jail.
I don’t think I even had this down as a concern four or eight years ago, but as I get older and grow in my faith these things become more important to me. So I will devote a valuable eight points to these issues, which I would loosely define as abortion, preservation of traditional marriage as in only between a man and woman, and religious freedom issues such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ideally, abortion would only be legal in very rare circumstances, marriage would return to being between one man and one woman with same-sex couples allowed civil unions to grant them a similar legal status to marriage (but not co-opting the term), and those who have religious conscience would be allowed to follow their faith directive. I understand that this might open a can of worms insofar as the traditions of certain religions, particularly Islam, so it should be understood that America was based and founded on Judeo-Christian principles and our laws and customs tend to follow those. I see nothing wrong with that course.
When a candidate believes “2016 will be the religious liberty election” and scorns fellow Republicans about running from the fight to “rearrange their sock drawers,” there’s a pretty good chance he will rate highly, and Ted Cruz does. I’m also not worried about his abortion stance if leftist ninnies are screaming about it, for example, questioning the fact January 22 is a day of infamy among pro-lifers. Cruz also turns around the tired leftist “war on women” meme, calling unfettered abortion the “real war on women.”
Total score for Cruz – 8.0 of 8.
Very close behind Cruz is Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, whose state is considered the most pro-life in the country. Just like Cruz, his stance on abortion drives the Leftist ninnies batty, as they seem to forget their idea was to keep abortions safe, legal, and rare. Two out of three ain’t bad. He’s called out the inside-the-Beltway crowd for their cowardice as well.
As the governor of a state that had its definition of marriage between a man and a woman overturned by the Supreme Court, he was reluctant to follow the directive, waiting for the court with jurisdiction over the state to actually overturn the will of the people before relenting. Now he wants a change in the Constitution.
A recent action, though, would seem to bolster the argument against the religious freedom executive order he signed. But as usual, the media got it wrong: Westboro protesters were free to demonstrate, but Jindal simply ordered a strict enforcement of state laws which already prohibit disrupting funerals.
Total score for Jindal – 7.9 of 8.
Coming in just behind Cruz and Jindal is Mike Huckabee. Mike has no problem defending life; in fact, he responded to an obvious “gotcha” question about deploying the FBI or federal troops to stop abortion by curtly saying, “we’ll see when I become President.” The Left had a field day with it, as one would expect. Huckabee also decried the “manufactured crisis” regarding Indiana’s original religious freedom law and vowed to use executive authority to prevent it.
Huckabee also blasted the Obergefell ruling, calling it an “out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.” You would figure a man with Huckabee’s background would do well here and indeed he does, with just the slightest hint of apprehension from me about how far he would take executive power. He’s also far more vague on his website than he is in the press.
Total score for Huckabee – 7.8 of 8.
Much of what I needed to know about the plans of Rick Santorum when it came to social issues came in this neat little statement. I also knew from his last run he was pro-life, yet he complains about the media treatment he gets. Well, when most of the media is left-wing it’s what you need to expect.
So I have no problem with the issue standards – which are very much like those who come in ahead of him – just the whining.
Total score for Santorum – 7.6 of 8.
After reading up on Rick Perry, I decided to give him a score that is about halfway between Bobby Jindal, who could argue with Perry’s claim about being the most pro-life governor (and has the laws to back it up), and Ben Carson, because both Perry and Carson have misspoke on gay marriage. A defender of state’s rights, Rick defended the Indiana religious freedom law, signed one for his own state, and decried the Obergefell decision because it usurped 10th Amendment authority.
Unlike the others above him, though, I don’t see Rick using the bully pulpit as much on these issues.
Total score for Perry – 7.0 of 8.
Overall, I think Marco Rubio will be fine on social issues – he’s pro-life, has a compelling story to tell, and seems to have the right idea on the Obergefell ruling. Several others wish to fight this at the state level, too. He’s also good on religious freedom. I also like how he’s given space on his campaign site to these issues, although his unusual layout makes it hard to find.
He doesn’t seem to get as much credit on these as others in front of him. In that respect he’s like Rick Perry but doesn’t have the advantage of being able to pass laws. In the Senate Rubio is more well-known for immigration than social issues, and that holds him back a little in both categories.
Total score for Rubio – 6.4 of 8.
Ben Carson makes no bones about it: he is “unabashedly and entirely pro-life.” Obviously his perspective as a physician helps there, and much of his appeal comes from those who make social issues paramount. He also supports religious freedom legislation like Indiana’s original RFRA law, which supposedly allowed discrimination against same-sex couples so they “clarified” it.
The problems have come when he tripped over his tongue on being gay, and conceded the Supreme Court made gay marriage “the law of the land” (although he personally favors civil unions in lieu of same-sex nuptials, which is my stance as well.) His comments and subsequent walking back of them hurt him a little bit here as well, but overall this is by far his strongest category to date.
Total score for Carson – 6.0 of 8.
Trying to straddle a line between libertarianism and faith can be difficult, and it puts Rand Paul a little below the top tier of candidates on this issue. He’s admirably pro-life and gets it for the most part on religious freedom, although he was slow to defend the Indiana law that should have been just what he wanted: key social and moral issues left up to the states. But as long as taxation and child-rearing legalities are dependent on marriage, you can’t simply take government out of it as it stands currently. On the other hand, sound thinking in other areas can work toward that goal, which is why I don’t deduct as much on Rand as I do for others who simply wash their hands of the issue (see below.)
Total score for Paul – 5.5 of 8.
During his tenure as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush was placed in the unique position of defending the life of Terri Schiavo, who was the unwitting subject of a legal tug-of-war between her estranged husband and the remainder of her family. Ultimately he lost that fight, but overall Jeb has a relatively sound pro-life record.
Where I begin to differ with Jeb is his “evolving” (read: retreating from the truth) on marriage, particularly true in his choice of advisers. At one time he decried the idea of homosexuals having “special legal protection,” but now is fine with letting states decide and not amending the Constitution to declare marriage as the union of one man and one woman. He also backed away a little on Indiana’s RFRA law after the outcry from the gay lobby. His brother retreated from a conservative stance more and more as he went on as President, and I fear Jeb may start from an even worse position despite his assertion that his faith will guide him. At this juncture he’s only slightly better than average.
Total score for Bush – 4.5 of 8.
But I see him shrinking from the fight in other important areas, telling the Republicans “it’s time to move on” from traditional marriage and stating Ohio doesn’t need a religious freedom law despite the fact he backed the federal one as a Congressman in 1993. Just wait, governor, you will. As he backs away from those positions, it makes me wonder if he has the fortitude to remain on the side of the unborn. If you value working across the aisle I wonder about that.
Total score for Kasich – 4.5 of 8.
Scott Walker joins this crowd in the middle with much the same resume as Kasich – a staunch record for life that includes a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act he signed days before his announcement, but ambivalent opposition to same-sex marriage (perhaps due to family concerns) and a lack of desire to enact a religious freedom law in Wisconsin.
So he gets the same score as Kasich and Jeb Bush, who is cut from a similar cloth.
Total score for Walker – 4.5 of 8.
Carly Fiorina is very good on the pro-life front, noting on the trail that her mother-in-law was advised to abort the man who would become her husband. On that front she’s also unafraid to call out liberals for their hypocrisy. She’s also on the right side when it comes to religious freedom.
But, in the same breath, she’s going the wrong way on gay marriage, and the lefties (who would back Hillary anyway) are happy about it. I’m also disappointed she doesn’t make any statement on these issues on her campaign page, although it is short on a lot of specifics in the first place. And even though she is misled about the crux of the gay marriage issue, at least she will disagree without being disagreeable.
Total score for Fiorina – 4.2 of 8.
Maybe Chris Christie came late to the party, but as governor of New Jersey he touts his pro-life record. It’s relatively close to the mainstream, with the usual “rape, incest, and life of the mother” exceptions. But he’s not fought hard on same-sex marriage, meekly allowing his state’s supreme court to enact it and telling us that, while he didn’t agree with it, same-sex marriage was now “the law of the land” as Ben Carson did. He also would not support county clerks following their conscience, which tells me he’s no big advocate for religious freedom. He supported Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on a personal basis, but was backing the changed law.
Total score for Christie – 4.0 of 8.
I decided, after a little bit of thought, that while Lindsey Graham is earnest in his pro-life beliefs and deserves a lot of credit for trying to enact a federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act - anyone who says in one breath they are for traditional marriage and religious freedom but in the next advises us to wave the white (or maybe it should be rainbow) flag and “move forward” because there’s little chance at success. Instead, he pledges to fight on religious liberty.
But if he’s willing to throw in the towel there, when will he stand and fight? As I kept reading and considering, he kept sliding down my list.
Total score for Graham – 4.0 of 8.
I’m probably being a little unfair to Jim Gilmore since he just got into the race, so he hasn’t made a priority of staking out positions on all the issues. However, in looking back mainly to his abortive 2008 campaign, I found he has an eight-week window where abortion is okay. And while he was against same-sex marriage and civil unions back in 2007, so was Barack Obama. One thing that troubles me is this 2013 interview where he seems to be cautioning Republicans to stay away from social issues. That, though, is the conservative base and they need to be fired up in order to get to the ballot box.
Total score for Gilmore – 2.0 of 8.
While he leads in the polls for now, Donald Trump is near the bottom of my list. The only thing that saves him from the bottom is his relatively recent pro-life conversion. And even though he vows to be the “greatest representative for Christians” if elected he doesn’t seem comfortable with the evangelicals and was hesitant to state his opposition to gay marriage. There are far better alternatives as far as social issues go.
Total score for Trump – 1.6 of 8.
It’s no surprise George Pataki is at the bottom of my list given he is pro-”choice.” Yet he doubled down on bad decisions by blasting the Indiana religious freedom law, and is fine with same-sex marriage being the law of some of the land, saying let the states decide. Basically that takes us back to a pre-Obergefell status and it’s easier to fight at that level, so I guess I can give him a little something for that.
Total score for Pataki – 0.5 of 8.
I need to catch Kasich and Gilmore up on previous issues (education, Second Amendment, and energy for Gilmore) so once I do that I will move on to the next category, trade and job creation.
By Cathy Keim
To those of us old enough to remember 1993 like it was yesterday, all of the hysteria over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) seems a bit overplayed. That was the year that Congress passed the federal RFRA with a unanimous vote in the House and a 97 to 3 majority in the Senate. President Bill Clinton happily signed the bill with not a protest or complaint.
For those of you that were not around then, the bill came about because Native American Indians were having trouble protecting their sacred grounds from intrusions such as roads and also were getting into trouble for using peyote in their religious ceremonies and then testing positive for drugs at their place of employment.
Many groups across a broad spectrum from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Association of Evangelicals united behind this law. And hold on to your hats: then-Congressman Chuck Schumer of New York introduced it into the House!
So, if we have a federal law protecting us from being substantially burdened from our free exercise of religion, then why do 19 states have their own RFRA? In 1997 the Supreme Court ruled that the federal RFRA could not be applied at the state level, so some states enacted their own RFRA to cover issues at the state level. These state laws are essentially the same as the federal law.
How did 19 states pass their RFRA laws without any protest, but suddenly when Arizona passed an amendment to their existing law in 2014 there was such a ruckus that the governor vetoed it? In an action foreshadowing the NCAA threat to remove their basketball tournaments from Indiana, the NFL threatened to move the Super Bowl XLIX from Arizona if the law stood.
The thing that changed in the intervening 22 years was that gay marriage went from not even being on the horizon to an accomplished fact in many states. An example of how incredibly fast this sea change occurred is right here in Maryland. The gay marriage law was defeated in 2011 by a close vote mainly because black lawmakers from Prince George’s County and Baltimore declined to accept the argument that homosexuals were being discriminated against in the same way that blacks had had their civil rights denied.
In February 2012, the bill passed by a narrow margin. In response, petitions were circulated and signatures obtained to place this bill before the voters on the November elections as a referendum for its repeal. This is where it got very interesting. On May 9, 2012, President Obama publicly stated that he was for gay marriage. Once he changed his position, the opposition to gay marriage in the black community decreased markedly and Maryland became the first state to pass gay marriage by a popular vote with 52.4% voting to maintain the state law permitting it.
The change in the last 22 years was one-sided. The conservative Christian voters and the orthodox churches did not change their position. They are still standing squarely on their Christian beliefs as stated in the Bible, which they believe is the infallible Word of God.
The liberal churches and politicians are the ones that shifted. Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic, decided that he favored gay marriage. The Catholic Church did not budge. For the first time in history, sexual orientation has become the most important defining factor in our society.
Christians have been the acceptable group to ridicule; in fact, the only politically correct group that can be ridiculed for some years now. Christians that actually believe the orthodox tenets of their faith are considered to be bigots, rubes, stupid, and pathetic.
Homosexuals are defined only by their sexual orientation. Think about it: it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female, black or white, old or young, beautiful or ugly, intelligent or stupid – the only characteristic that counts is their sexual orientation. No other group wants to be so rigidly defined by only one characteristic.
Once that one characteristic is made known, all other people are to acknowledge that being gay is the best choice, not only for the homosexual, but for everyone. They are not equal; they are more equal.
My preference is that I would know somebody by their many attributes, not just one. I don’t know of heterosexuals that make this the defining factor of their existence. We are all sexual beings to one degree or another, but it is not the highest or most important part of our being.
Since homosexuals insist that this is the most important piece of their identity, they leave the rest of us little room to go our merry way. Despite most people not wanting to engage on the issue, we are forced to declare where we stand.
For orthodox Christians, there can be only one position. The Bible declares in both the Old and the New Testament that homosexuality is wrong. I know that this is hurtful to our friends and relatives that are gay, but the Bible leaves no room to wiggle. Trust me, I do not know any Christians that are gleeful about the difficulty that this truth brings to anyone that is struggling with their sexual identity.
So now we are at the point of the RFRA laws. The gay agenda and the orthodox Christian beliefs are on a collision course that cannot be avoided. Indeed, it would seem that the gay agenda is devised with this end in mind. No other course of action is acceptable except that everyone agree that the homosexual lifestyle is equal to the heterosexual lifestyle.
This is why we are seeing so many religious freedom lawsuits across the land. When orthodox Christians are pushed to choose between their religious beliefs and the law of the land, they will choose their religious beliefs, even if it means losing their business as several have.
These cases are not as simple as have been reported in the media. For instance, the florist in Washington state, sold flowers to the gay man on a regular basis, ostensibly a nonreligious transaction. What she refused to do was to use her God-given artistic talents to create special floral arrangements for his marriage to another man, which her conscience could not allow.
The wedding photographer in New Mexico refused to use her God-given artistic talents to create photos for a gay wedding that would have required her to be an integral part of the ceremony. These people were unable to violate their conscience by participating in a ceremony that their religious convictions and all of history said was wrong.
So, whose beliefs are more important: the gay couple that wants to force people to participate in their wedding – a religious event – or the people that respectfully decline and refer the gay couple to another business?
How it is answered will determine whether our country is still a land of religious freedom as outlined in our First Amendment.
In Indiana there is an overwhelming flood of coercion from many companies that say they will not do business in Indiana if the governor does not veto the law. This is another case where the conservative politicians need to stand their ground. Once they have chosen their position based on their principles, then they should stand no matter the pressure that is exerted.
The presidential candidates had better be looking at this issue and deciding where their principles lead them because this question will be tossed at them. In fact, it would be helpful if they would intervene now and let everyone know where they stand. Rather than cowering before the media, let the conservative politicians play offense and stand for their principles and support Governor Pence.
Obviously I’ve been concerned about the upcoming Maryland election, and we’re probably four to six months away from the formal beginnings of the 2016 Presidential campaign on both sides of the aisle. But over the weekend, while Allen West was speaking to us, a few of his former Congressional colleagues were addressing the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington in an attempt to gain support. Ted Cruz narrowly topped the field in their annual straw poll, drawing 25% of the vote and besting fellow contenders Ben Carson (20%), Mike Huckabee (12%), and Rick Santorum (10%). Leading a second tier were Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul, both with 7% of the 901 votes cast.
Also worth talking about were the issues this group was most concerned with: protecting religious liberty topped the list, with abortion a strong second. Interestingly enough, protecting natural marriage was the top vote-getter as the number 3 issue on people’s lists, but was seventh as a choice for number one contender and a distant third as a second place issue. Whether people are begrudgingly accepting same-sex unions due to isolated votes and ill-considered judicial decisions overturning the expressed will of the people or see it more as a religious liberty issue based on the experiences of those who object is an open question, though.
The other open question is just how much this voting bloc will take in terms of being ignored. There is a bloc of the Republican Party which says that social issues are to be avoided because it alienates another, supposedly larger group of moderate voters. Needless to say, Democrats exploit this as well – the Maryland gubernatorial race is a good example.
Even the Baltimore Sun concedes that “(p)ortraying Larry Hogan as a hard-core right-wing Republican is part of Brown’s strategy.” This despite Hogan’s insistence that Maryland settled the abortion issue 22 years ago in a referendum, just as they decided same-sex unions in 2012. To believe the other side, these votes were overwhelming mandates; in the 1992 case they have a point but not so much the same-sex unions one which passed by less than 5% on the strength of a heavy Montgomery County vote (just six counties voted yes, but it was enough.)
Yet I believe the abortion balloting is open to question because attitudes about abortion have changed. According to Gallup, the early 1990s were the nadir for the pro-life movement so perhaps the question isn’t the third rail political consultants seem to believe. To be perfectly honest, while there’s no question where I stood on the more recent Question 6 regarding same-sex unions I would have likely been more neutral on the 1992 version at the time because in my younger days I leaned more to the pro-choice side. I didn’t really become pro-life until I thought through the ramification of the right to life for the unborn and how it trumped the mother’s so-called right to privacy. Exceptions for rape and incest I could buy – although I would strongly prefer the child be carried to term and given to a loving adoptive family – but not unfettered baby murder just as a method of birth control. Now I’m firmly on the pro-life side.
So when Larry Hogan makes these statements about how certain items are off-limits because at some past point voters have spoken doesn’t make those who have faith-based core beliefs overly confident in a Hogan administration as an alternative to Anthony Brown. They may hold their nose and vote for Hogan, but they won’t be the people who are necessary cogs in a campaign as volunteers and financial contributors.
On the other hand, there is a better possibility we could see action on these fronts with the federal government, even if it’s only in terms of selecting a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade (placing the matter with the states where it belongs) and understands there is a legitimate religious objection to same-sex nuptials and funding abortions via health insurance as mandated by Obamacare.
We’ve been told for years that conservatives can’t win if they stress social issues. But on the federal level I’ve noticed that even when Republicans haven’t been addressing the social side we have lost, so why not motivate a set of voters which serves as the backbone of America?