Musings on yesterday’s National Day of Prayer

May 6, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Delmarva items · 1 Comment 

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.

Impressions on Maryland’s U.S. Senate GOP primary

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.

A prayer for the white state

Lately I’ve been mulling over the idea of red state vs. blue state and how both are impacting society. But there is an element which seems to be missing among the arguments we have regarding conservative vs. liberal.

Once upon a time in America, it was just automatically assumed that we were one nation under God. More than a two-word addition to the Pledge of Allegiance dating back to 1954, for most Americans adhering to the tenets of their religion was second nature. Thus, actions which were deemed immoral were frowned upon: selling alcohol on Sundays, having children out of wedlock, and swearing in public were just some of the actions which ran afoul of our sensitivities. Then, as now, we were all sinners who fell short of the grace of God but it seems like we as Americans tried harder to stay in line in that bygone era.

Naturally, over time the “blue laws” were gradually erased, children who were born out of wedlock lost the derisive moniker “bastard” and became commonplace, and the entertainment industry began a contest to see who could get away with racier and racier content. As this devolution of society in the name of “tolerance” continued we were ordered to accept “alternative” lifestyles. Christians of today in general, and parents who wish to ”Train up a child in the way he should go,” to borrow from Proverbs 22:6, face an increasingly treacherous minefield of having to monitor their kids’ entertainment, education, and circle of friends. Unlike any other era in America, Christians are being marginalized and segmented in society as just another subset: Mary went to the Christian store to purchase Christian books and movies while listening to the Christian radio station.

In his Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky once wrote that agitators should pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In many respects, that has occurred with the term Christian because it is far too often used as an adjective. With a little help from the society and culture, we have set ourselves apart from the rest, yet on a cultural level it has led to the perception that to be Christian is to be inferior – “oh, so-and-so is just a Christian artist” or “this student went to some Christian school.” With a wink and a nod, we are signaled that this hick is simply one of the unwashed masses – look at how elites think of those who come from the “Bible Belt.”

So why is that implied to be a bad thing? In most cases, it’s because they vote for conservative candidates. States in the deep South began shifting from Democrat to Republican a half-century ago, with the election of Ronald Reagan finishing the shift. In large part this was because Democrats embraced the cultural changes with which Christians disagreed. The consequence: as a generation steeped in traditional values has died away, those who had lesser mooring in absolute truths have steered society in an even more radical direction.

For example, I didn’t know what “gay” meant (in the modern usage of the word) until I was in high school – I just assumed boys liked girls and vice versa. Much of that was because in my youth we weren’t constantly exposed to the homosexual lifestyle through the media. No Christian couple would have run afoul of the law for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding because extremely few even considered the concept of same-sex nuptials to be a viable one. That wasn’t on the radar screen in 1982 when I graduated high school.

But move forward a generation or so and churches are being threatened with the loss of their tax-exempt status if they refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. Some churches in more moderate denominations have already knuckled under, but most remain standing against this practice. Yet, cowed by the media and radical groups, the Republican Party doesn’t seem to have the gumption to fight anymore against gay marriage, abortion, or the downward redefinition of deviancy.

So where can we turn?

The inspiration for the phrase “white state” comes from the Christian flag, which is mainly white as that color symbolizes purity. And while in print white denotes the absence of color, as a function of light white reflects all colors equally. To me this is quite symbolic and much more inclusive than a rainbow flag will ever be, for a rainbow separates colors while white blends all together. Yet a Christian flag is not all white for that would signify surrender, and we must never surrender.

And what seems to be setting us apart from the “red vs. blue” narrative is a faith in God rather than government. At one time, a key social function now relegated to government was taken care of through the church. Christians still take care of the poor and infirm to a degree, but many more of the downtrodden rely on the welfare state that didn’t exist even 100 years ago. In a two-pronged attack, government stepped in to take care of the poor while freeing their conscience from many of the behavioral obligations placed on them by the church.

In short, we need to once again create a situation where the state is subservient to the people, who in turn are subservient to God. At that point red and blue aren’t as relevant as wrong and right, with the arbiter being God’s Word. By no means am I suggesting we should have a theocracy; however, there are many millions who could use a gentle course correction for their lives and making it more difficult to prosper from poor choices through the heavy hand of the government is a good way to motivate them.

Yet this is the place where we Christians need to set ourselves apart and create a united front in order to work through the system we have in place. Of course, the other side knows this as well so they try and keep us divided like the colors in the rainbow flag and dispirited to keep us from being motivated to change. Victories may be few and slow in coming, but in America we have had revivals every so often and we are overdue for another. It’s time to shine all our colors together and be indivisible under God.

Questioning authority

September 4, 2015 · Posted in National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

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.

2016 dossier: Social issues

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.

If you add in his call for civil disobedience when it comes to same-sex marriage and consider his overall record, I think we have a winner.

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.

John Kasich has a very sound pro-life record and approach, which I applaud even if the lefties don’t.

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.

And it begins…

July 1, 2015 · Posted in National politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

I didn’t figure it would take too long.

Once the floodgates had been opened, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would try and push the envelope.

The next frontier will be that of “consenting adults.” Just wait until the first person citing his religion wants to marry a preteen under the age of consent. It will be discrimination to not allow this person his wish, after all it is love and “love wins,” does it not?

Methinks that the Supreme Court has left us a legacy of banana peels and jagged cliffs.

I still marvel at the lightning speed by which we went from one state court decreeing that marriage licenses should be given to same-sex couples (in a split 4-3 decision) to having it become the law of the land in all 50 states in less than a dozen years. Aside from fighting an actual war with bullets and fatalities, it’s rare to see such a pace of change.

And where once the concept wasn’t polled, now about 3 in 5 Americans are supportive of same-sex “marriage.” That simply means 3 in 5 are victims of the constant propaganda, although maybe I should be encouraged that 2 in 5 still apparently believe in the word of God.

But then I’m just a “hater” because I believe marriage remains between one man and one woman. We Christians are funny that way, I suppose.

State’s rights? Hardly.

Simply put, it’s been a brutal week for those who believe in right in America.

First of all, those of us in Maryland who had been anywhere from pleased to excited that the state elected a Republican governor when it was thought impossible found out Larry Hogan was not superhuman, just flawed and prone to health ailments like the rest of us. We all hope that he can beat back cancer and finish out his term, but the nagging question will surely remain if he chooses to run for re-election in 2018.

But that paled in comparison to having a Supreme Court which can’t read plain language in the law but can elect to reshape the meaning of words to suit a politically correct fancy. Aside from Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas, the SCOTUS blew it twice.

Here’s the problem with both instances: in each we had a varying number of states that chose to do their own thing. In the former instance, most of the states elected to go with the federal Obamacare exchange; in theory giving up the premium subsidy that was supposed to be a sweetener of the pot for Obamacare. Most of these had no desire to set up a state exchange, while a few saw the trainwreck that was Obamacare coming. (Just look at all the issues Maryland had in setting up its state exchange as a prime example.) It was a key flaw among many in the law but six Justices decided the intention was there and states without their own exchanges could still take advantage of the federal tax break. I guess it all depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

So now we’ll have Democrats crowing that it’s the law of the land and that we should deal with it. If this is so then I guess all those exemptions built into the law for various groups and businesses should be immediately eliminated, too. (I also wish they felt that way about illegal immigration.) I’m not naive enough to believe that has any chance at occurring, but it seems to me that states should be taking the lead. After all, the first state to have an Obamacare-style insurance mandate was Massachusetts and that was their right.  No one from the federal judiciary stopped them from trying it, but let Arizona try to enforce federal law on border security and immigration and all hell breaks loose.

And then we have the gay “marriage” decision. No court is going to tell me that marriage is anything other than between a man and a woman, period, end of sentence. Granted, some churches accept that particular ceremony and I suppose that’s their right, as far-fetched as that may appear to be. I’m not ashamed to meet my Maker and say that I believe marriage is only between a man and a woman – some may call me a bigot, but they can hang on to any delusion they want.

Yet we went through this in Maryland – the gay lobby tried and failed a couple times to get the same-sex marriage bill through the General Assembly before they conned a couple centrist RINOs into voting for the bill (note they had more than enough Democrats who could have voted for it, but there were some who wouldn’t touch it.) It passed by one or two votes, thousands upon thousands of concerned citizens managed to get it on the ballot via a referendum, and it squeaked by after a President changed his mind and it had the good fortune to be on the ballot in a high-turnout year. (If it was on the ballot this year I suspect the referendum would have gone the other way.) The point is, though, that Maryland made this decision. It was the wrong one, but now in all but one or two cases (Maryland being one, and I think Minnesota the other) the will of the people has been thwarted somewhere by a state or federal court. Either you had a case like California where voters ended the practice only to have it restored by an activist court or you have the SCOTUS decision today that eliminated the preference of the 14 states where same-sex “marriage” was not on the books.

And again I come back to the fact that states don’t seem to have any autonomy anymore when it comes to social issues. Over the last half-century states that had laws against abortion, gay marriage, and various other “blue laws” have had them taken away by societal mores and activist judges. The question is where this all stops. Are states now just lines on a map as Maryland counties seem to be as they are sucked deeper and deeper into the Annapolis-based morass?

The other sad event held over from last week was the Charleston church shooting, which was apparently caused by a Confederate flag. At least this is what you would be led to believe from the coverage. If South Carolina wants to remove it from their statehouse lawn it’s their business – however, if any state is tied in with the War Between the States it would be South Carolina since the battle began there. So being in the Confederacy is part of their history, just as the behind-the-scenes struggle to keep Maryland in the Union is part of ours. Both Maryland and Delaware were slave states.

Yet there’s something else about this whole scenario that I find interesting. The stated purpose of Dylann Roof in opening fire in that church was to begin a race war. In most cases where someone strikes out against oppression, though, it is generally from the side being oppressed – hence, you have groups which range from relatively peaceful like the NAACP  to more radical entities akin to the Black Panthers all working to advance the black race. Roof may have felt intimidated by his perception that whites were getting the short end of the stick, but in the wake of nonstop coverage of Ferguson and Baltimore it’s not a giant leap to come to that conclusion.

But rather than postulate about the typical role reversal and saying what if a black gunman entered a white church, perhaps you should ponder this: whites kill hundreds of blacks a day all over the nation and hardly a word is said. The biggest race war being perpetrated right now is blacks killing themselves, whether through homicide or abortion. Instead of going on a wild goose chase and blaming the flag of a failed insurrection of 150 years ago – during which the slaves that were freed were only those in states which had seceded, not the border states which stayed in the Union – each of us needs to look inward and ask ourselves if this is really the republic we intended to live in.

America has changed while most of us were sleeping. It’s time to wake up.

Sharia, gay marriage, and the First Amendment

By Cathy Keim

On May 20, 2015 I received an email from the American Freedom Defense Initiative announcing that they are buying ads on Washington, D.C. buses and train dioramas.

AFDI President Pamela Geller said in a statement:

Because the media and the cultural and political elites continue to self-enforce the Sharia without the consent of the American people by refusing to show any depictions of Muhammad or showing what it was in Texas that had jihadists opening fire, we are running an ad featuring the winning cartoon by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin from our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas.

The attack on the event drew a lot of criticism aimed not at the jihadists, but at Pamela Geller and AFDI for hosting such a “provocative” contest. In this convoluted way of thinking, the jihadists could not be held responsible for their attack because they were provoked into it!

Here is the ad so that you can see for yourself what the fuss is about.

While this controversy is important in its own right, the following quote from Pamela Geller made me think of another first amendment issue that we are facing:

Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not bear being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed while everyone else lives in fear, while other groups curtail their activities to appease the violent group. This results in the violent group being able to tyrannize the others.

The progressives have been very eager to push gay marriage on the American people. The Supreme Court ruling that many expect to legalize gay marriage in every state should come down this summer. If or when that happens, do not think that this is over. The gay marriage fight is really not about gay marriage at all: it is about destroying marriage and the family unit and replacing it with the government.

If it were only about being able to be with the partner of their choosing, then why do we have the vindictive attacks on Christian photographers, bakers, and florists that decline to participate in gay marriage ceremonies? Why is this issue being pushed so hard?

The gay mafia has not resorted to chopping off heads, but it has put many Christian business people through a hellish experience resulting in fines and losing their business because they did not want to participate in gay marriage ceremonies.

As a reminder, the First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is true whether the speech is politically correct or not.

Americans are facing tough choices on First Amendment topics. If we do not resist the onslaught to demonize any open discussion of what Sharia requires of Muslims and how that is not compatible with the Constitution, then we will soon be silenced on any topic when threatened. For example, besides saying that you cannot draw Mohammad, Sharia law says that women are not equal to men. It allows men to have four wives. It also says that if you convert from Islam, you are to be killed. Now how can that be reconciled with our Constitution?

Yes, we can draw pictures of Mohammad in the USA and we have an obligation to do so to show that we will not back down on our First Amendment rights.

Christians have the obligation to state the Biblical position on marriage. Marriage is only between one man and one woman. If the Supreme Court declares marriage to be something else, then the religious freedom that we have known will be gone because rather than choosing another baker, photographer, or florist, the gay mafia will seek to destroy and intimidate anyone that does not fall into line and state that gay marriage is as good or better than heterosexual marriage.

Tolerance in both situations is a one-way street. If you do what the bully says, then he will tolerate you. If you do not toe the line, then he will seek to destroy you.

Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, states:

Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

The totalitarian impulses behind Sharia enforcers and erotic liberty advocates both result in the same end: the loss of personal freedom. Our country was founded on the belief that all men are created equal and this came from the Biblical worldview that all men are created in the image of God. This profound concept is what led to the birth of our country.

If we walk away from this truth, then we also walk away from America as we know her.

Mohler points out: Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.

So draw a cartoon and support marriage between one man and one woman or soon you may find that you can do neither. If everybody draws a cartoon and all Christians stand up for marriage, then it will be much harder for the jihadists to kill all of us or for the gay mafia to destroy every business that doesn’t agree with them, but if we are cowed by the threat of violence, then the First Amendment may still be in the Constitution – but it will not be relevant.

Sneaking laws into the books

May 13, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Important update: Per the Maryland General Assembly webpage, the date of presentment was actually fixed as May 3. This means the legislative limbo can run as late as June 2.)

On Tuesday Governor Larry Hogan risked carpal tunnel syndrome by signing hundreds of bills into law. The extraordinarily high output was made necessary by two factors: the events in Baltimore that scuttled a planned bill signing back on April 28, and the desire to enact these laws within the period mandated by the state’s constitution. As a refresher, Article II, Section 17 (c) of the Maryland Constitution states:

Any Bill presented to the Governor within six days (Sundays excepted), prior to adjournment of any session of the General Assembly, or after such adjournment, shall become law without the Governor’s signature unless it is vetoed by the Governor within 30 days after its presentment. (Emphasis mine.)

There are a handful of bills which may make it into the books this way. Since the General Assembly session ended at the stroke of midnight April 14. 30 days hence would be tomorrow, May 14. (Update: presentment doesn’t happen with adjournment, as I have found.) Some of the bills in limbo happen to be those which are part of the monoblogue Accountability Project, so you can bet there are some calculations going on about whether a veto can be sustained.

Many of these bills Hogan has held off on signing establish or extend fees and taxes, with a few being issues local to Calvert, Charles, and Howard counties. Two of them extend or increase fees in state courts; in another case I wrote about the “travel tax” of Senate Bill 190 a few weeks ago. Senate Bill 183 would mandate the adoption of the Geographic Cost of Education Index, which would be a budget-buster. He’s also passed on extending the film production activity tax credit that the producers of “House of Cards” wanted.

Business interests, though, should be happy that Hogan hasn’t signed the de facto two-year fracking ban or the extension of flexible leave.

On the social issue end of the spectrum, we do not yet know the fate of bills which would decriminalize marijuana, allow for same-sex couples to have their IVF procedures covered under insurance, let those who have undergone the treatment to revise their gender to change their birth certificates to reflect this, or allow felons who are out of prison but still on probation or parole to vote.

These are less than 5% of the bills which were passed. Many others have already been vetoed as duplicative, but those above are the ones most likely to get an attempt at overriding the veto – or they can try, try again in the next term knowing that the votes for passage were there the last time. Some bills may be improved with a few minor changes that can be worked out while others should just be put out of our misery.

I’m hoping that Governor Hogan sends a strong message by vetoing the following bills I advised voting against:

If he wishes to let the decriminalization of marijuana become law without his signature, that’s quite all right.

This all goes to show that my monoblogue Accountability Project should be a hot-ticket item when it comes out. next week. The good news is that it’s free and available for the taking once I upload it Monday. (See the update above.)

Religious Freedom, Childrens’ Rights, Capitalism and Gay Marriage

April 11, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

By Cathy Keim

Today a friend (hat tip Sam) sent me an article from American Thinker called “The Gay Marriage Wake Up Call,” which tied together a lot of loose ends in my thinking. I certainly recommend that you read Robert Oscar Lopez’s whole article.

As Michael and I mentioned earlier this week, one of the reasons that the Maryland General Assembly should reject HB 838/SB 416 is due to the ethical issues behind paying for IV fertilization procedures for lesbian married women.

Dolce and Gabbana, the gay Italian fashion designers, made a huge stir several weeks ago when they were quoted in The Telegraph:

We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.

Gabbana also stated:

I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents. A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it is cruel to take a baby away from its mother.

The reaction to their statements was vicious, but they stood their ground. One letter of support came from six adult children raised by gay parents. At Life Site News, they said that they “want to thank you for giving voice to something that we learned by experience: Every human being has a mother and a father, and to cut either from a child’s life is to rob the child of dignity, humanity, and equality.”

Here we see that the children need somebody to speak up for them. Usually the discussion is centered on the desires and needs of the adults in a marriage, but for millennia, the main point of a marriage was to produce heirs. With the advent of no-fault divorce, contraception, and the sexual revolution, the main focus of marriage shifted to adult satisfaction and fulfillment. Now with gay marriages being declared legal in several states and the Supreme Court taking up the question, we are potentially going to have gay marriage forced upon the entire nation.

Since a gay couple cannot produce heirs without an outside party, then we are left with many troublesome ethical problems. What are the rights of the sperm or egg donor/surrogate mother? Should the taxpayer have to pay for the technology necessary to produce children for a gay married couple through their health insurance? Is there a problem with designer children – selecting the genetic attributes desired from blue eyes to IQ?

Perhaps most importantly, does a child have a right to a father and a mother? One or the other is missing by necessity in a gay marriage. Do two mothers or two fathers make up for the missing parent?

These six adult children of gays (COG) do not think so. It does not take a lot of imagination to decide that two mothers or two fathers does not bring the same experience to a child as being raised by a mother and a father. The world is made up of both men and women and the home should be the first place that the child learns to interact with a male father and a female mother.

We know that adopted children long to know their biological parents, so why would children of gay parents not long to know their missing biological parent?

The necessity of IV fertilization to produce a child for a lesbian couple and the need for a surrogate mother to produce a child for a gay couple leads us to the capitalism part of the discussion. These are very expensive medical procedures and there is money to be made from opening up a new market of wealthy gay clients.

The “synthetic children” comment by Gabbana also involves a lucrative money making potential. This is already occurring, but with the legalization of gay marriage and the implicit right to children that that implies, then the market for choosing your child’s traits will increase and that will spill over into the heterosexual married population. Why should a heterosexual couple just have a “normal” child when everybody else is having genetically “superior” children? You can envision the liabilities involved in having your children the old fashioned way and having to accept whatever child you create. Why not stack the odds in your favor by choosing to modify the genes?

With no theological background to stay the tide, then this market will be huge and very profitable.

The COGs that are speaking up for the rights of all the voiceless children now and to come that are being or will be raised by gay parents have a powerful point to make. They have filed friend of the court briefs with the Supreme Court for the upcoming gay marriage case. That along with new studies that show that COGs have more emotional problems, lower graduation rates, etc. makes for a powerful testimony against gay marriage being the same as marriage as we have traditionally understood it.

Now it becomes clear why the sudden attack on the RFRA laws. This is a trick to get people to not focus on the rights of children to have a mother and a father, but rather to say that religious bigots are causing troubles for poor discriminated against loving gay couples. This amounts to let’s change the subject to an easier topic to score points.

Christians as a group are increasingly being marginalized and stigmatized in our culture. The gay lobby would much rather turn the focus to adult Christian “bigots” than to the concerns of a child’s right to a mother and a father.

The largely secular elite has already decided that sexual freedom is more important than religious freedom and now they are going to exhibit their power.

The Democrat Party has completely thrown in with the sexual freedom at all costs group. The Republican Party elites are tied to corporate interests and unfettered capitalism. They will pretend to be against gay marriage to pacify their base, but they really don’t care. They would prefer that the issue go away just as they have always wanted to ignore social issues for economic ones.

The conservative base is all that has kept the Republican Party afloat for many years now, but their leaders keep folding anytime anybody sneezes at them.

Even liberal churches are choosing to change with the times by dropping “outdated” creeds for newer, more culturally friendly ones. The number of people standing up for marriage between one man and one woman is shrinking daily.

Should the Supreme Court decide in favor of gay marriage, then our country is on a collision course between the rights of the sexual freedom group and the religious freedom of orthodox believers. At this point it looks like the Christians had better know their core beliefs because they are going to need to stand firm in the face of increasing cultural ostracism.

Redefining marriage wasn’t enough. Now some in Maryland want to redefine birth.

By Cathy Keim and Michael Swartz

The twin byline is present because Cathy came to me with her thoughts on these bills, writing up a post quoting Delegate Parrott at some length along with some of her thoughts. I liked the direction of the piece, but thought I could add more and she was amenable to the changes. So here you go.

Recently Delegate Neil Parrott sent out a newsletter that had some information about two “shockingly bad bills” that are about to pass in the General Assembly. We had both heard from Robert Broadus with Protect Marriage Maryland about the first bill, but Delegate Parrott alerted us both to the second bill. Both have more or less passed under the radar in a session which has focused more on the budget, gubernatorial appointments, and environmental regulations.

In his message to constituents and other interested observers, Delegate Parrott stated:

Two shockingly-bad bills…are on their way to passing.

(snip)

HB 838/SB 416 is going to cause your health insurance rates to go up, when Maryland already has some of the highest health insurance premiums in the nation. This bill forces Maryland insurance companies to cover the cost of expensive In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments ($12,500 each time) for same-sex married couples.

Our high insurance costs in Maryland are primarily due to the great number of insurance mandate laws already in effect, and this new bill will simply make the problem worse. Governor Hogan and I both support leading Maryland towards more fiscally-responsible laws and policies, and the voters overwhelmingly agreed in the last election. However, the majority of Delegates and Senators still voted to create more complex and unnecessary insurance mandates in our flawed health system.

(snip)

Under current Maryland law, a husband and wife must donate their own sperm and egg to be eligible to receive insurance benefits for IVF treatments. If the couple requires a donation of an egg or sperm, IVF treatments would not be covered under current Maryland law. Under this new law, a same-sex couple would obviously need to get a sperm donor to have a child. This is a very unequal situation.

Same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt or have children, but many studies have been done that confirm that children born into a family with a mother and a father do the best in all measures – economic, social, educational, and emotional. Not only does this law create an unequal and less-stringent requirement for same-sex couples, but our insurance premiums will also be paying to have a child brought into the world to a situation where they will most likely be statistically worse off than other children. By passing this law, we are intentionally putting a child into a “family” where a father will knowingly be absent.

This sort of social engineering and fiscally-irresponsible law-making, solely for the pleasure of adults without any regard for the children that will grow up in these situations, is reprehensible. What homosexuals cannot do naturally, the General Assembly has now mandated must be provided by all insurance plans, creating a false sense of equality, with little to no regard for the children who will be negatively affected.

This leads to the concern of what could come next if this bill is passed. Will the General Assembly pass a mandate requiring insurance companies to cover the costs of hiring a surrogate to carry the child for male, same-sex marriages? (Emphasis in original.)

As Cathy wrote Sunday, our culture is under attack to redefine and destroy every institution that has sustained us as a nation since our founding. Marriage and our families are worth defending. The progressives only exist to tear down. We are the ones that believe in ideals that are true and good and have stood the test of time. When this country is a faint memory, the family will still exist. They may destroy our culture, but they cannot destroy truth. The family is the basic building block of society. Despite the malice and ridicule heaped upon the traditional family with a father, mother and children living and growing together in love, the family will still survive.

Delegate Parrott has made the case, as Cathy has before, that children do best when raised in a home with a married mother and father. Why should the state pay to circumvent this?

Senator Jim Mathias and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes both voted for this bill. When somebody says the Eastern Shore is conservative, just remember to check how Senator Mathias and Delegate Sample-Hughes vote.

The second bill that Delegate Parrott wrote about was HB862/SB743, which as Delegate Parrott notes:

…allows people to rewrite history. It would allow someone who gets a note from their doctor saying they are transitioning from male to female or from female to male to literally change the gender on their birth certificate. The new birth certificate would not even indicate that it has been “Amended,” as is the case when an individual decides to legally change their name. The change would not require that the individual has had a sex-change operation, but just relies on hormone therapy and how the person feels at the time. The change caused many of the legislators who work in law enforcement to question how they could even solve crimes given these false records. For example, suppose they are looking for the DNA of a male, but all they have is a female suspect.

Changing factual birth records without leaving a record of the change could have significant and harmful consequences for our society and is simply irresponsible policy.

Senator Mathias also voted for this bill as did Delegates Carl Anderton, Jr. and Sample-Hughes. Needless to say, we’re both disappointed with Delegate Anderton’s vote as he represents us in Annapolis. We would have expected this out of his predecessor, but Carl was supposed to be different.

At this point in time these bills are on their final step to passage, and it seems like the skids are being greased as the House versions of the Senate bills are passing without any amendments – this is important because no conference would be necessary.

Yet besides the many objections Delegate Parrott raised, both bills also raise a number of ethical questions about child rearing. Regardless of who has to pay for in vitro fertilization, there’s also the ongoing concern about the rights of the third party which needs to be involved with any same-sex attempt at creating progeny – either the surrogate mother for a gay couple or the sperm donor for the lesbian pair.

And much like the Hobby Lobby situation with abortifacient drugs, there’s a legitimate question of whether a religiously conscientious business should be forced to cover this procedure since it involves two partners of the same gender. It’s a situation which becomes quite complicated and I feel this is needlessly so.

As for the birth certificate bill, it would be more palatable if there was a notation of amendment. A law such as this may open the door to parents who are trying to raise a child as if it were the opposite gender (such as this recent case) to amend his or her birth certificate as a minor.

We believe that gender is not a mistake, nor was it an error that a person of each gender was required to create a new life. Even with in vitro fertilization, there’s no escaping the need for a male to do his part and a female to be the willing host for the embryo.

While there is an element of humanity in the selection of gender, I think I speak for Cathy when I say we believe that it was our Creator who made the ultimate decision as to whether we were male or female. Taking hormones, undergoing genital mutilation surgery, and identifying as someone of the opposite gender doesn’t change the fact one was born with the chromosomes and genitalia of a particular gender in all but a few extremely rare cases. It’s what the birth certificate should reflect.

However, it’s likely these bills will pass the General Assembly, so we call on Governor Hogan to use his veto pen on these ill-considered measures. And it’s all but certain these votes will be among those I use for the monoblogue Accountability Project later this spring.

A lot of pizza and a lot of support

April 3, 2015 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism, Wal-Mart · Comments Off 

As of this writing an otherwise nondescript pizzeria in a typical Midwestern small town has $842,347 in a GoFundMe account.

I’ve never been to Walkerton, Indiana, but the small (population 2,248) community straddling U.S. 6 in the northern part of the state probably isn’t too different from the towns I spent my formative years nearby in neighboring Ohio. Before this week, no one had ever heard of the restaurant or the town but now it’s Ground Zero for a culture war sweeping the nation and pitting a very tiny but exceptionally vocal minority against a much larger group that’s been turning the other cheek for far too long.

The events leading up to the sudden fame and fortune of Memories Pizza are well-documented: owner Crystal O’Connor admitted her religious beliefs would prevent her from catering a same-sex wedding. Never mind the business hasn’t been asked to do so (and probably would not be), that admission coupled with the passage of Indiana’s original version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enough to become a “gotcha” moment for the ambitious news department of a station whose personnel are otherwise toiling in the #96 media market in the country – success for them would be advancement to a station in Indianapolis or even Chicago.

Yet the question has sprung to mind several times as I’ve heard the events playing out: why doesn’t the Christian community fight back and demand the RFRA protect our interests?

Some would sneer that Christians are the majority and therefore undeserving of protection. As it has turned out from previous cases, a state having the RFRA on the books was still ineffective in stopping the loss of their businesses when their owners refused service to gay weddings, citing their religious beliefs. Because of this track record, I again ask: what’s the big deal then? In almost every case, those who seek service have several other options and it seems to me that business owners should have the right to say, “no, thank you.” That’s what a series of Muslim bakers did in this video.

So what would be the problem if church-going people who believe the Bible is the Word of God and should be followed stood up to the gay lobby and those who bend over backward to accommodate it unquestioningly in the name of “tolerance?” In my estimation, tolerance should work both ways.

Just look at the economic power of the churchgoing. On the Sundays we’re in church, I’m generally sitting amid 75 to 100 people. Other churches in town are somewhat larger; most are probably smaller. But let’s say Salisbury’s church attendance is slightly better than the national average, which ranges between 36 to 39 percent nationally according to recent polls. 40 percent is an easy number to work with, and that means out of a population of about 30,000 in Salisbury churchgoers have the economic might of 12,000 people.

Arkansas has been working on passing its own version of the RFRA, but Walmart (which is headquartered in the state) has been encouraging a veto. What if 12,000 people in Salisbury decided to pass on Walmart and do their shopping elsewhere? I’m sure Target, KMart, Sears, and Kohl’s would welcome the extra business.

Erick Erickson of RedState has popularized a saying over the last couple years on the subject, “you will be made to care.” Christians aren’t generally going around looking to stir up trouble, but we’ve spent the last fifty years or so retreating from the culture and watching deviancy be defined downward. At some point there has to be a stand for values; oftentimes it occurs on a generational level as the offspring rebel against the excesses of the parents.

At $15 per pizza, the money grossed by the GoFundMe account set up for Memories Pizza would be equivalent to them selling over 56,000 pizzas. Being a small town pie maker, it’s doubtful they make over 75 pizzas a night so this is perhaps two years’ worth of business for them. Of course, I can almost guarantee that people will be coming after their newfound windfall in some way, shape, manner, or form – probably demanding they donate it to a same-sex marriage advocacy group under threat of lawsuits for imagined pain, suffering, or fraud.

Personally, though, I hope that after they tithe an appropriate amount to their church, they use the money for their business – perhaps opening a second store or investing in new equipment to bolster their menu. Maybe they can start a bakery.

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