Friday, September 28, 2007

Pastors visit Washington DC - reaquaint themselves with nations Christian heritage

MFI and 30 pastors just returned from a Congressional Pastors Briefing in Washington DC. The briefing included a tour of our Christian heritage at the Capitol. The historical evidence of our Founding Fathers Christan faith coupled with the mountain of paintings, inscriptions and statues is overwhelming.

Anyone claiming that our Founding Fathers were not Christian, and that the original intent of their greatest gift, our Constitution, was to cleanse expressions of faith from the public square is ignorant of the historical facts. Sadly, ignorant due to the revisionist agenda of our public schools.

The Capitol Rotunda resounds with our Christian heritage. A minimalist review of the life size paintings covering the walls depict a prayer meeting, baptism and two bible studies. Another captures the 59 signers of the Declaration of Independence; 29 of which had seminary degrees.

One painting by John Gadsby Chapman depicts Pocahontas - being baptised. After which she changed her name to Rebeca. Bet you didn't catch that in the Walt Disney movie.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

By Hannah Huffman

As expected, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ignited a storm of controversy after his recent talk at Columbia University. “We don’t have homosexuals, like in your country,” was one of Ahmadinejad’s most contentious statements.

Iran does far worse than ignore gays, critics say

According to a Sept. 25 article on Fox, human rights groups have roughly calculated that over 400 gays have been killed by the Iranian government with others receiving jail sentences and severe beatings. Homosexuality is considered a crime in Iran, and clearly the severity of the consequences illustrate that Iran is intent on the destruction of homosexuals.

Such tragic news should remind Christians of the biblical response to homosexuality. Ahmadinejad’s beliefs regarding homosexuality are strikingly contrary to what the Bible and MFC advocate. We don’t want to tear down or denigrate the homosexual community. Instead, our driving passion is to share the truth of the scriptures regarding the sin of homosexuality with genuine love and respect for people in that lifestyle.

The truth revealed in the Bible tells us that homosexuality is a sin. It is contrary to the natural function of sex designed by God. It is harmful to individuals, families and society. The affects of homosexuality cannot be ignored.

But without the combination of unconditional love with uncompromising truth, our beliefs come across as no different from Amadinejad’s. Unconditional love is what will make a difference in the lives of homosexuals. Freedom from sin cannot be accomplished by using the truth about homosexuality as a club, or by glossing over the truth with a misguided notion of compassion or tolerance. Real love, displayed through truthful compassion and concern, will change the hearts and lives of those struggling with homosexuality.

Homosexuality should not be ignored as Ahmadinejad so blatantly and dishonestly does. It should be recognized as the destructive sin that it is. But for followers of Jesus Christ, the goal is to be communicators of God’s uncompromising truth and unconditional love, as instruments of forgiveness and change in the lives of homosexuals.

Toxic ideology

I wonder which is more pathetic, public schools teaching second graders about unhealthy sex activities or presidential candidates refusing to make decisions for their seven-year-old children - but want us to give them (candidates) the power to make decisions about war, the economy and health care.

Read Fox News story, Democratic Candidates Say They're OK With Second-Grade Teacher Reading Gay Prince Fairy Tale

In the article, John Edwards says parents should expose seven-year-olds to all the information available while not imposing their views because that would be playing God.

Absolutely pathetic.

His comments represent a dangerous, dogmatic, post-modern ideology. (i.e,. there is no truth, so let the child make up his/her own truth; institutions/schools know better than parents anyway.)

It can't happen here?

MFC encountered a similar situation last year at Inter-District Downtown School. Against parents wishes, IDDS taught a lesson promoting same-sex marriage to second grade children. Read "Minneapolis Mothers, MFC team up to protect parents rights." Although the school failed to inform the parents of their right to opt out of the class they refused to allow the students to transfer to another class. MFC secured legal counsel which lead to the transfer.

Most parents know if they don't take an active role in forming their children's values someone else will do it for them. Maybe that's exactly what Edwards - the PI attorney - wants.

Contact MFC if your school is ignoring your request to opt out of unhealthy sex education programs.

Here is an excerpt from John Edwards comments.
"I don’t want to make that decision on behalf of my children,” he said. “I want my children to be able to make that decision on behalf of themselves, and I want them to be exposed to all the information, even in — did you say second grade? Second grade might be a little tough, but even in second grade to be exposed to all those possibilities, because I don’t want to impose my view. Nobody made me God.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hiding behind benefits and local control

Last session, OutFront tried to legalize same-sex marriage by manipulating benefits and state/local government. It is part of their incremental approach to legalize same-sex marriage via the legislative process - versus the courts.

OutFront tried to make it legal for local government, like St. Paul, to determine who receives benefits. Sounds innocent. However, this ruling in Washington state is a good example of what can happen when same-sex marriage hides behind words like "benefits" and "local control."

Washington Court OKs Gay 'Marriages' From Canada
Homosexuals travel north in their effort to redefine marriage.

It’s the latest example of state officials reinventing policy on marriage. The Washington state Court of Appeals said it’s OK for the mayor of Seattle to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other countries. With Vancouver, a hub for homosexual unions, just a quick trip north, the fiasco is in full swing.

In 2004, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels issued an executive order forcing all city departments to give benefits to "married" homosexual employees. Gay “marriage” was and still is prohibited in Washington, but not in Canada. To get the benefits, Seattle gays traveled north of the border. Nickel’s policy is now the law of the land.

“What business has Mayor Nickels got in taking his local agenda and pounding it through here?" asked Larry Stickney of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Brian Raum of the Alliance Defense Fund said proponents of traditional marriage challenged the mayor’s executive order, but lost in court.

“The court in Washington suggests that the same-sex marriages recognized there are only for the purposes of benefits and somehow that’s OK," he told Family News in Focus. "I think that’s a very dangerous position to take because the very essence of what they are trying to do there is gain marriage equality, and that’s one of the tactics that those who support that are using.”

There’s a similar battle brewing in New York. “The highest court in New York said there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage," Raum said. "Yet those who support same-sex marriage are trying to circumvent the will of the people and get what they otherwise can’t get in a legitimate matter.”

The Pacific Justice Institute is appealing the Seattle case to the Washington Supreme Court.
Citizen Link

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pastors to visit Washington DC

On Tuesday, September 25th, 30 plus pastors from around Minnesota will accompany the Minnesota Family Council to Washington, DC. The trip is part of MFC's Pastor/Church Network outreach and equipping the church to be salt and light in the public square.

The pastors will reacquaint themselves with our nations Christian origins and meet with Senator Norm Coleman and Senator Amy Klobachar. Also on the agenda is a day-long session with David Barton of Wallbuilders.

Stay tuned.

Who do you like?

Interesting perspective regarding choosing a candidate.

We should not choose a candidate by voting record alone

Copyright © 2007 WORLD MagazineSeptember 22, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 34

by Marvin Olansky

Given how states are pushing up their presidential primaries, nominations are likely to be won or lost by February. Some readers are asking who I favor. That's a fair question, but I don't have any horse in this race.

It's not that I fall in line with journalists who refuse to disclose their preferences. I've argued over the years for transparency, noting that everyone has preferences and readers are best served when reporters are honest.

So, here's my first disclosure: My initial presidential vote, in 1972, was for George McGovern. My worldview changed over the next four years, and beginning in 1976 I've always voted for the Republican candidate for president.

Eight votes in a row for the GOP leader might make you think that I'm a party animal, but your assessment would be incorrect. If Republicans nominated someone who voted the right way most of the time but was personally slimy, and if Democrats chose a candidate with personal integrity who was tough on terrorism and even moderately pro-life, I'd probably vote for the Dem.

(Click on the title above to read the entire article)

Dobson says Fred Thompson "not for me"

Dobson says Thompson 'not for me'
Evangelical leader cites candidate's opposition to federal marriage amendment

© 2007

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who previously questioned GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson's viability among evangelical voters, now has told friends he cannot support the former Tennessee senator.

In an email to friends, according to the Associated Press, Dobson said he won't be supporting Thompson: "Not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

Dobson raised questions about the strength of Thompson's campaign and challenged his stance on issues important to evangelical Christians, for whom Dobson is widely considered an important voice.

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson's e-mail said.

As WND reported in March, Dobson was quoted by U.S. News and World Report saying, "Everyone knows [Thompson's] conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for, [but] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression."

A spokesman for Focus on the Family issued a clarification, explaining Dobson did not mean to disparage Thompson and was "attempting to highlight that to the best of his knowledge, Sen. Thompson hadn't clearly communicated his religious faith, and many evangelical Christians might find this a barrier to supporting him."

In his e-mail, Dobson wrote of Thompson: "He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

A Focus on the Family spokesman told the AP Dobson wrote the e-mail, but he couldn't comment because the statements were made by Dobson as an individual, not as a representative of Focus on the Family.

A spokeswoman for the Thompson campaign, Karen Hanretty, defended the candidate in an e-mail response to AP.
"Fred Thompson has a 100 percent pro-life voting record," she wrote. "He believes strongly in returning authority to the levels of government closest to families and communities, protecting states from intrusion by the
federal government and activist judges. We're confident as voters get to know Fred, they'll appreciate his conservative principles, and he is the one conservative in this race who can win the nomination and can go on to defeat the Democratic nominee."

The Republican base has been split on Thompson, with some viewing him as an heir to President Reagan's legacy and others, like Dobson, expressing concern about his stance on homosexual marriage and other social issues.
On the issue of same-sex marriage, for example, Thompson has said he would support a plan to prohibit states from imposing their marriage laws on other states. That's far short of what many evangelicals seek: a federal amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

The e-mail included a news article referencing Thompson's comment that he does not attend church regularly and won't speak about his faith during the campaign. Those remarks prompted Dobson to write that his assumptions "about the former senator's never having professed to be a Christian are turning out to be accurate in substance."
Previously, in an exclusive column for WND, Dobson said he wouldn't back former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani because of his "unapologetic" support for abortion on demand, and he later said he couldn't back Sen. John McCain because of the Arizona senator's opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Thompson only recently confirmed his candidacy, immediately bouncing into the lead ahead of Giuliani in at least one poll. Rasmussen Reports' Presidential Tracking Poll showed him favored by 26 percent of likely Republican primary voters right after his announcement. Giuliani, who has been the frontrunner most of the year, was in second with 22 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was a distant third at 13 percent.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just marriage by another name

“Domestic partnerships,” “civil union,” “legal recognition” are marriage by another name – and OutFront knows it.

Putting “hospital visitation,” “benefits” or even "fishing license" in front of same-sex marriage is clever but nothing more than manipulative.

It works like this:
“You believe in hospital visitation don’t you?”

Person answers yes. Who wants to be against hospital visitation?

“Then we need to legalize same-sex marriage (domestic partnerships for same-sex couples).”

Like all the major hospitals in the metro area, MFC supports hospital visitation for same-sex partners. However, we don’t support legalizing same-sex marriage for hospital visitation privileges.

OutFront claims they don’t support legalizing same-sex marriage, just redefining hospital visitation as marriage (domestic partnerships) for same-sex couples.

Decide for yourself.

From OutFront’s web

“Many organizations in Minnesota, including OutFront Minnesota, support the right of same-sex couples to enjoy some form of legal recognition. Marriage is one form that could take; others include relatively broad concepts live civil unions or domestic partnerships.”

Quote from Ann DeGroot
“As we move into the new legislative calendar, I wanted to write to you to let you know what we at OutFront Minnesota are doing to secure full legal rights for GLBT people including legal recognition of same sex relationships.”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Legislator's lawsuit against God may reveal what he really thinks about God

Omaha state Senator Ernie Chambers recently filed a federal lawsuit against God. In the lawsuit Chambers claims that God has made threats against him and his constituents and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants" and has caused "fearsome floods...horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes." Chambers said he is filing the lawsuit because he's upset with other frivolous lawsuits.

I think the subject matter of the lawsuit reveals more about Chambers than simply concern about frivolous lawsuits. It shows his antipathy towards religion and God. The news story notes that Chambers skips morning legislative prayers and criticises Christians. From my law school days, I remember writing a paper on a US Supreme court case bearing his name Marsh v. Chambers. Chambers sued claiming legislative prayers and chaplains were a violation of church and state separation. He lost that one.

I thought it was interesting that Chambers may not have the last laugh with his lawsuit. The US District Court Judge Richard Kopf said he may assess sanctions if Chambers and his lawyers don't show cause for the lawsuit.

Maryland same-sex marriage advocates turn sights on state legislature – just like Minnesota.

Maryland is following Minnesota’s example – legalize same-sex marriage via the legislative process.

According to yesterday’s Baltimore Sun, “In a case watched closely around the nation, the Maryland Court of Appeals' 4-3 ruling dealt a blow to gay and lesbian advocates who launched their fight to overturn the state's marriage law three years ago. Tuesday, those advocates pledged to take the battle for marriage to the General Assembly, where two lawmakers have already vowed to sponsor legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.”

This legislative approach is already underway in Minnesota. OutFront Minnesota has stated on several occasions that their efforts to legalize same-sex marriage will focus on the Minnesota State legislature.

Did you know that same-sex partnerships were almost passed in the 2007 Minnesota legislative session?

Four bills were introduced to legalize same-sex relationships. One bill attempted to establish same-sex domestic partnerships for hospital visitation. Yet our quick poll of six metro area hospitals revealed an open policy towards visitation by same-sex partners.

Do we really need to legalize same-sex partnerships to allow hospital visitations?

Thanks to a veto threat from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the bills were never passed.

What if we didn't have a pro-family governor?

Did you know that out-of-state, anti-marriage money helped defeat Senator Mady Reiter, a co-sponsor of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment bill?

Her opponent, Senator Sandy Rummel received 44% of her itemized individual contributions from thirteen wealthy anti-marriage activists. Most of the thirteen contributors were members of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, one of the largest homosexual activist organizations in the country.

The same legislative majority (and their out-of-state money) that pushed for same-sex marriage will return with a vengeance in the 2008 session.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Civil unions and loss of religious liberty comes to New Jersey

One aspect of the same sex marriage debate is the impact marriage redefinition will have on religious liberties. I and others have argued it will invariably infringe on religious freedoms of groups and individuals who do not support same sex marriage. This will happen, at least initially, through use of anti-discrimination laws and nonprofit tax laws. The message will be toe the line or lose your tax status and face anti-discrimination charges.

The basis for this belief? What's happening in European nations and Canada where same sex marriage is currently recognized. And now there's an example in New Jersey where a Methodist church group has lost its state tax exempt status for property taxes, because it refused to allow a homosexual couple to celebrate their civil union in the group's facility.

The state says the group must make the facility available for all purposes including celebration of civil unions (which are de facto same sex marriages.) Where's the religious freedom here? (Maybe freedom to harbor the thought that marriage is between one man and one woman but definitely don't act on that belief.) Advocates will say, "But we're not forcing you to authorize civil unions, you just can't have the state benefit of tax exempt status if you don't." What that means is the power to tax (which is the power to destroy) is now applied to churches. If you want to be free from government tax regulation then submit to our view of civil unions.

Expect more of these attacks in states where same sex marriage or civil unions are recognized.

Same-sex marriage won't affect your marriage, it will affect children without a mother or a father

By Chuck Darrell

I've noticed a recurring "straw man" diversion in recent articles surrounding the decision in Iowa to strike down one man, one woman marriage and Sen. Craig's alleged solicitation for sex in an a public restroom. Supporters of same-sex marriage rhetorically to ask, "How will same-sex marriage threaten your marriage?"

It won't. Duh. It's an argument designed to confuse and hide the real victims of same-sex marriage - children.

Because of no-fault divorce there is a mountain of sociological, scientific data that proves a child needs both a mother and a father. Same-sex marriage denies a child that most basic civil right.

The real question is "Where is the scientific evidence that says a child does not need a mother or a father?"

If you believe a child does not need a mother or a father, please comment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What rights are inner city kids most concerned about?

I had an interesting opportunity to speak yesterday in a Minneapolis inner city, public school with 4th graders on Constitution Day. It was part of a program through the Minnesota Bar Association which seeks to introduce kids to the Constitution. It's a tough school. I was told around 30% of kids are homeless meaning they live in shelters or are constantly moving around from relatives to friends homes for short stays.

The kids were a delight. Full of questions and comments. The discussion focused on which rights in the Bill of Rights are most important to them. We went through freedom of religion, speech, assembly, right to bear arms, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, and privacy. The two freedoms which were repeatedly at the top of the list were the right to bear arms and privacy. They wanted to be able to protect themselves from someone who might harm them. And second, they didn't want someone barging into their home. It makes sense. Kids raised in rough areas want security and safety which are essential to enjoying the other freedoms.

Born that way?

By Chuck Darrell

“Born” a homosexual is no excuse for the legalization of gay marriage. I say this because when it comes to sex, most men agree being born any certain way doesn’t mean you should act as such. And God help us should the male sex drive be allowed to further stalk the definition of marriage.

Several years ago a married man in our small church left his wife and two sons to join the gay “lifestyle.” Later at a men’s retreat we grappled with why a man would abandon his family for another man. Some argued he was born that way. Others claimed he made a personal choice. However to some, the distinction seemed irrelevant.

The men in our group knew each other well and spoke candidly. However, when someone asked if anyone had looked at another woman with lust the room was silent. After a brief pause all the men confessed to the affirmative. He then asked if they had lusted over a woman in our church and, reluctantly, all pleaded guilty. Rhetorically, he suspected we had looked at one another’s wives as well. But before anyone could answer he said, “Well then it seems like we were all born that way? I guess we should be able to sleep with anyone we want?”

Most men, even Christian men, will admit they have experienced sexual desires outside the bond of marriage. Let’s face it, without men, pornography and prostitution would probably cease to exist. So if we are “born that way,” why don’t we do it?

Certainly, there are multiple reasons for containing our sexuality within the union of one man and one woman. However the men in our small group concluded that the overriding reason was because, as Christians, we acknowledge we are born sinners. As such we know that we can’t always trust our inherent nature and are commanded to restrain our lusts.

So how does this relate to same-sex marriage?

Although most Christian men understand they are born sinners, they are confused – and afraid – to apply their inherent sin to the same sex marriage debate. Our silence has allowed His Image to be swapped for the surrogate “I was born that way” as the measure of acceptable sexual behavior.

We are ignoring a humble, yet powerful testimony that acknowledges sin and our dependence upon Him who died for us. By admitting that we lust, we become less judgmental and more empathetic. Declaring our dependence upon Him makes us humble. Speaking humbly, we are more like Him. Being more like Him allows us to testify to the truth, with love. And the truth is just because you’re “born that way” doesn’t mean you have the excuse to do it.

In our weakness we become strong.

There are tragic consequences when Christian men are silent about their sinful nature. According to F. Earle Fox, in “Restoring Sexual Sanity,” “With no relation to the Living God, there is nothing in the world to tell anyone otherwise – neither by moral standard nor by the Image of God in which we are made, male and female.”

A quick glance at trends within the homosexual community draws a clear picture of what can happen when Christian men don’t speak out in power.

According to Fox, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the average homosexual male averages nearly 100 sexual partners each year. In one of the largest studies on homosexual behavior, “The Gay Report,” homosexual researchers Karla Jay and Allen Young reported that around 99% of homosexual males engage in oral sex; 91% engage in anal sex and 82% engage in "rimming" to name just a few.

Legalizing gay marriage will change the definition of “two individuals in a committed relationship” as well. According to Glen Stanton in “Marriage on Trial,” “Recent research from a major British medical journal on male same-sex relationships in the Netherlands indicates gay men have a very difficult time living by the values of marriage. This study found that, on average, steady homosexual relationships in the city of Amsterdam last only 1.5 years. The study also found that gay men in steady relationships there have an average of eight partners a year outside of their current relationships.”

Sometimes there is little difference between sin and being born that way. We need to counter, “born that way” with “born a sinner.” Only when Christian men are transparent and confess the sin in their own lives can they authentically testify against the lie that says our sinful nature should be affirmed. Frankly men, if we don’t, then who will?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Star Tribune, Unavoidable Truth, and Homosexuality: What do they have in common?

Prominently featured on the front page of the Star Tribune's Sunday opinion page was an opinion piece entitled, "An unavoidable truth". It's a lengthy piece by a woman, Charlotte Sullivan, on her embracing lesbianism after 36 years of marriage to a man. After surveying the title and subtitle, which says people don't choose and can't change their sexual orientation, I expected a story on the latest research on homosexuality or an attempt at a well reasoned defense of homosexuality. Instead it was an emotive, angry rant against those awful religious conservatives, who in their defense of traditional marriage are destroying people.

She goes on to say, "I love homophobes, but I hate, hate, hate their lies."

What are the lies of this "cruel, discriminatory movement" and what is the basis for calling them lies? She merely asserts; there's no evidence to support her charges.

This type of story is part and parcel of much of what one hears from the pro-homosexual movement. It's how I feel. It's what I want. The facts can be cruel things but they can't be denied. Homosexuality is not the pathway to happiness and people can change.

First, there is evidence that people who engage in one vice are more likely to engage in others. This was suggested by a massive research study of 12,283 people by the federal government on people's drug use and sexual activity. Homosexual behavior generally accompanies higher use of illegal drugs, smoking and prostitution. Do all people who identify themselves as homosexual engage in these vices? Certainly not. But there's enough of an association to suggest that if a person engages in one vice, they're more likely to engage in others.

Second, people have changed their sexual orientation. Can all people change their sexual desires and attractions? No, but many do. A recent study points to evidence that people can change.

Ultimately, the issue here is behavior not desire. Whatever one believes about the chosen-ness of certain desires that's a separate issue from whether one has a choice on whether or not to act on and embrace those desires. Married men are tempted to lust after other women. Should they act on those desires? How about pornography use? Or what about individuals sexually attracted to minors, whether male or female? Should they act on those desires? Certainly not. Do they have a choice? I would argue, ultimately yes. Yet that's where the pro-homosexual argument breaks down. They suggest there is no choice. A person must act on those desires.

In fact, there's a movement afoot to deny people who want to leave homosexuality, even the opportunity to pursue change.

While the Star Tribune editorial board embraces homosexuality that doesn't mean the facts do.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Religious leaders as foreign policy experts

On July 29th a group of 34 evangelical religious leaders waded into the Israeli-Palestinian controversy by releasing a letter sent to President Bush calling on him to continue pushing for "a two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said both "Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other."

The effort was organized by Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action, who generally advocates for economically liberal positions. Among the others are Tony Campolo, Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon MacDonald, Chairman of World Relief, Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, and David Neff, editor of Christianity Today. A couple of Minnesota signers were Gary Benedict, president of the Christian Missionary Alliance and George Brushaber, President of Bethel University.

What strikes me about their letter isn't the fact that they're engaging in political action but the issue and position they've chose to address. I believe evangelical leaders need to engaged in the political process. For too long, too many evangelicals stood on the sideline, thinking their faith had no implications for the public arena.

Yet they need to be wise when they do so, wearing their "church leader hat." They should address issues where there isn't a lot of ambiguity on what the biblical or Christian position is, e.g. protection of innocent human life, sanctity of marriage, parental rights, religious liberty and so forth. The problem arises when they attempt to use their religious position to advocate policies for which there isn't a clear biblical or Christian approach.

I think resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a case in point. Others would argue Israel should, under no circumstances, give back the West Bank for security and/or religious reasons and if Israel ever does it should be incorporated into Jordan. In other words, there are other solutions than a two state system.

The letter has the signers coming off as foreign policy experts when that's not the case. The result? They diminish their credibility and moral capital in the public square. Another example is when liberal church leaders advocate more government programs to address poverty issues. Certainly we should all be concerned with the poor but are more government programs the answer? I would argue they have too often made matters worse. The result is their moral capital is diminished because subsequent history shows their supposedly Christian solution a failure. Another is the pacifist approach to war. Calls for the US to unilaterally disarm during the cold war was frankly a dangerous position and in my view not the Christian position.

I believe religious leaders need to be more aware of, informed and involved in the political realm, but they need wisdom in when and how to be involved. (Nothing precludes them from being personally involved.) If they wear their religious hat they had better be sure Scripture and Christian teaching are clearly on their side. In this instance, regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I don't think they are.

Reprint: Senate Majority Leader playing politics with traditional marriage

In the March 2006 issue of the Pro Family News MFC broke the story of ex-Sen. Dean Johnson's MN Supreme Court Justice statement, his "friends that work for Karl Rove" and casting doubt upon the tax exempt status of churches actively defending marriage.

Later that year, several Willmar area churches were harassed by a local attorney with suprious warnings that marriage petitions and sermons could jepardize their tax exempt status.

Senate Majority Leader playing politics with traditional marriage
Pro-Family News, March/April 2006 Issue

With the 2006 legislative session approaching, the fate of the people’s right to vote on the definition of marriage may seem far-off. Yet Senator Dean Johnson is wasting little time lulling the voter with blithe assurances, faulty reasoning, and vague threats. A comparison of Johnson’s remarks with events in Canada and Iowa doesn’t bode well for voters expecting to vote on marriage.

Most Minnesotans are aware that in 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered its state legislature to legalize homosexual marriage. Recently, a judge struck down marriage laws in Maryland and lawsuits are pending in six states: California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York and Washington. Anticipating these challenges, voters in 19 states passed marriage amendments by an average of 70%.

In Minnesota, a Mason Dixon poll shows 63% of likely voters want to vote on the definition of marriage. In a twist of logic, Johnson dismisses the need for an amendment because Minnesota laws already prohibit same-sex marriage. Speaking before a group at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Johnson irresponsibly assured voters that marriage was safe from activist judges as well. “I know all the (Minnesota) Supreme Court judges. I’ve had a number of visits with them about our law,” said Johnson. They have no intention of changing our laws,” comforted Johnson. On January 19th, Johnson indicated that former Justice Kathleen Blatz and current Justice Anderson would not touch Minnesota marriage laws because they had to get “re-elected.”

Although the Supreme Court justices had no comment about Johnson’s remarks, a spokes person indicated that justices do not prejudge cases and doubted whether the justices would share their opinions with a politician.

On a recent visit to Minnesota, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary Alberta warned pastors not to be fooled by the false assurances of politicians. Bishop Henry sited a 1999 statement by Justice Minister Ann McClellan before the Canadian House of Commons; “Let me state again for the record that the government (Canada) has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is found in the common law of our country and the common law of our system of law. We the government thought perhaps we could spend our time debating other issues as opposed to that on which there is clarity in law.”

To the south Iowa joined a growing list of states battling marriage lawsuits. In December, New York based Lambda Legal, and 6 lesbian couples filed suit claiming Iowa’s definition of marriage “draws impermissible distinctions based on sex and sexual orientation . . . all in violation of the equal protection guarantee of the Iowa Constitution.”

The similarities between Minnesota and Iowa are chilling. Like Minnesota, Iowa statutes prohibit same-sex marriage. Anticipating a challenge, the Iowa State House passed a marriage protection amendment only to have it bottled in senate committee. In contrast to Minnesota however, homosexual activists are seizing upon this gridlock hoping to score a quick win in the courts. Perhaps by creating gridlock in Minnesota, Johnson too is hoping for a quick score after the elections in November? In the mean time, Johnson is scoring as well.

At Bethlehem Lutheran, Johnson claimed to have “friends that work for Karl Rove,” who say Rove likes the marriage issue because it “divides people.” Ignoring a Mason Dixon poll that shows 65% of Minnesotans oppose same-sex marriage, Johnson’s faulty logic concludes that the marriage amendment is a plot to elect republicans. If so, the reverse must be true; that Johnson is willing to sacrifice the definition of marriage to maintain a DFL majority in the senate.

Johnson chose the Bethlehem meeting to create his own “divisions” by casting doubt upon the tax-exempt status of churches actively defending marriage. After reading the tax code he alluded to an “investigation” under way with the revenue commissioner. In Canada, the threats were real however. After publishing a pastoral letter, Bishop Henry was investigated by Revenue Canada, the Canadian IRS. Does Johnson mean to suggest that Minnesota audit churches who defend marriage as between a man and a woman?

There is nothing new about politicians lulling the voter with questionable assurances. However thanks to Bishop Henry and Iowa, Minnesota voters can predict the outcomes of Senator Johnson’s carefully crafted statements. Senator Johnson says he is against same-sex marriage. But it’s a safe bet he will continue twisting logic while blocking attempts to pass a marriage amendment in the upcoming session; blithely circumventing the will of the people and exposing the definition of marriage to lawsuits and activist judges.

"DFL honchos" and out of state money working to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota state legislature

By Chuck Darrell

Kersten writes that some “DFL honchos” in Minnesota don’t understand that the only safe place for marriage in Minnesota is in the state Constitution.

Some, perhaps.

However, the attack in Minnesota is more organized and premeditated than a rogue judge. The attack is from within the state legislature lead by “DFL honchos” with out of state money.

Did you know that same-sex partnerships were almost passed in the 2007 Minnesota legislative session?

Four bills were introduced to legalize same-sex relationships. One bill attempted to establish same-sex domestic partnerships for hospital visitation. Yet our quick poll of six metro area hospitals revealed an open policy towards visitation by same-sex partners.

Do we really need to legalize same-sex partnerships to allow hospital visitations?

Thanks to a veto threat from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the bills were never passed.

What if we didn't have a pro-family governor?

Did you know that out-of-state, anti-marriage money helped defeat Senator Mady Reiter, a co-sponsor of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment bill?

Her opponent, Senator Sandy Rummel received 44% of her itemized individual contributions from thirteen wealthy anti-marriage activists. Most of the thirteen contributors were members of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, one of the largest homosexual activist organizations in the country.

Do you realize the same legislative majority that pushed for same-sex marriage will return with a vengeance in the 2008 session?

And, did you know that a same-sex couple has filed a lawsuit in Rochester suing a fitness club to obtain a family membership? The club denied the family membership because Minnesota does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Now that you know, what do you plan to do about it?

Minnesota, are you listening?

By Chuck Darrell

Be sure to read “As Iowa shows, a marriage law isn’t enough” by Katherine Kersten of the Star Tribune.

Kersten writes, “In the end, we don't need Iowa's Judge Hanson to remind us that traditional marriage is under assault.

'Almost half of the country's marriage laws are or have been under attack by a small group who want to force their will on the people in the guise of constitutional adjudication,' wrote Teresa Stanton Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, in a 2007 William Mitchell Law Review article.

Courts in 11 states have ordered legal recognition of same-sex unions, according to Collett -- 12, counting Iowa. In 2003, Massachusetts' high court voted 4-3 -- a mere one vote difference -- to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. In states such as New York and Washington, high courts have upheld one-man, one-woman marriage.

The only way to prevent state courts from redefining marriage is to define it in a state's constitution. Twenty-seven states have done so, according to the Marriage Law Foundation, and 23 did so even though they had a law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Well said.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poverty and Lifestyles in the U.S.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word "poor"? Someone who goes hungry? Lacks proper clothing? Doesn’t have adequate shelter? That’s the image I have; but when one actually looks at many of the 37 million people the US Census Bureau classifies as poor, one gets a much different picture of many people classified as poor.

A recently released Heritage Foundation study "How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the 'Plague' of Poverty in America" studied 2005 Census Bureau figures. Here are some of the things they found.
  • Forty-three percent of all poor households actu­ally own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

  • Only 6 percent of poor households are over­crowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

  • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

  • Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
The Heritage foundation study says the two main reasons that children are poor are first, one of the parents doesn’t work much and second, fathers are absent from the home. In fact, two-thirds of poor children live in single-parent households.

These facts point to a much different picture of poverty. I think poverty in the lives of many people starts with a poverty of values and character. The poor need our care and concern, and the underlying solution lies in rebuilding families and marriages.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Our first president and prayer

Some say there are two things which aren't discussed in polite company: religion and politics. Now in the age of political correctness, efforts to privatize faith is pushed even more aggressively. Such an idea was foreign to our founders. George Washington, in his Presidential Farewell Address, said religion and morality were indispensable supports to our political order. But beyond that Washington understood the importance of prayer in his private life.

As Michael Novak writes in his book Washington’s God, during the Revolutionary War Washington assistants and fellow generals noted times when they heard Washington praying in his private quarters. Some reportedly found Washington praying on his knees when they entered his quarters unannounced.
And it’s interesting to note that he personally fasted. Novak points to a Washington diary entry in 1774, “June 1st. Went to church and fasted all day.”

After the war, Novak notes that Washington sent a letter to the various states in which he prays that God “would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were characteristics of the divine author of our blessed religion.”

During his presidency he issued the first prayer proclamation where he said “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor. I do recommend that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks…”

Certainly, Washington didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve. He was reserved in his public religious expression, consistent with his Anglican faith. Yet he personally prayed and had a relationship with God. Interesting, that the man who
British historian Paul Johnson describes as “the central actor in the American Revolution” and “one of the most important figures in world history” saw the importance of prayer in both our nation's public life but also his own private life.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Who takes Nick Coleman seriously?

In a recent column by Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman "Potty Police must have better things to do at MSP", Coleman manages to be crude, confusing and contradictory all in the same column. He crudely makes fun of police efforts to keep one of the men's restrooms in the Minneapolis St.Paul Airport from being a rendezvous place for anonymous homosexual sex. He suggests the police have better things to do. Then in the next breath he says, "The cops should prevent bathrooms from becoming bathhouses." How can they accomplish this? Coleman's remedy: "Post warnings that cops are watching and won't allow hanky-panky." I thought he just said police had better things to do than spend their time monitoring restrooms.

Coleman has a way of making light of things which need to be taken seriously. The vast majority of people don't want airport restrooms, or for that matter any other public restrooms, to be haunts for anonymous sex. Who wants to walk into such places, much less have kids do so. A legitimate concern. For Coleman, he seems to care less; makes a joke of it. As a result, Coleman makes it easy for people not to take him seriously.

Boyd's Taliban statement inconsistent and mean-spirited

By Chuck Darrell

Greg's Taliban comparison is inconsistent with some of his own logic.

In the past Greg has asserted that because good Christians can disagree on certain topics, there is no reason to imply that one position is Christian and another is not. At fifty thousand feet I agree.

So why did he compare conservative evangelicals who are active in the public square to the Taliban?

Too often Greg's commentaries irresponsibly link conservative evangleicals with some of the most egregious "christian" behavior of the last 500 years.

Greg, you know better.

Leave the mean-spirited Taliban comparisons to comedians like Rosie O'Donnell.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Response to Minnesota Pastor Greg Boyd's comparison of conservative Christian political involvement to Taliban and Islam

Recently, CNN ran a six-hour series called, "God's Warriors" featuring liberal CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour. Two hours were devoted to conservative Christians and included interviews with a number of evangelical figures. One pastor interviewed was Minnesota pastor Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul. Greg, who's fearful of Christian involvement in politics, said in the interview, "I am very concerned about the extent to which what's called the kingdom of the world, the politics of the world, is being fused with our faith. In some cases almost like a Taliban, Islamic state. Where, you know, it's like we want to run a Christian society and enforce Christian law. And my concern is that is very damaging for the church."

Interesting that he would compare Christian involvement to the Taliban and an Islamic state. I wonder just which initiatives of religious conservatives he has trouble with. Is it concern over efforts to protect unborn human life through reducing abortion? Or is it efforts to protect the notion of one man, one woman marriage. Do these raise the specter of Taliban state? Or maybe it's the efforts of some conservative Christians to reduce the level of pornography and obscene material which increasingly is seeping into the mainstream culture. Or in the schools, is it the opposition to sex education curricula which promote an anything-goes approach to sex with attendant how to's? Or maybe the effort to protect parental rights? Maybe these are Taliban-like. `

I wonder what Greg thinks about past efforts, generally led by concerned Christians, to eliminate slavery, protect child laborers, or the civil rights movement. Were these efforts to "run a Christian society and impose Christian law" and create a "Taliban, Islamic state"?

Frankly, I think Greg has a poor understanding of the nature and origin of law in a society and the role of the Christian in the public arena. Take the issue of the law. Here's what Joseph Story, a long-time member of the U.S. Supreme Court (1811-1845) and viewed as a father of American Jurisprudence said about the law. "One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law...There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations...I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society." He points to the inherent religious nature of the law; of course in the West that means Christianity.

As for Christian involvement in society, given our representative government, one has a duty to be engaged in the political process. How else can one fulfill Jesus' words to "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's".

Should Christians enter the political process with a haughty and arrogant attitude? Certainly not. Should Christians think that salvation lies in the political process and the laws that are passed. Certainly not. But Greg's comments leave me with the strong impression that Christians shouldn't be involved in the political process at all. Will controversy follow when one is involved? Without a doubt. Just ask William Wilberforce and his efforts to eliminate slavery in England in the 19th century or Martin Luther King and his efforts on behalf of civil rights in the 1960s.