Saturday, November 24, 2007

Text of Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933 national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.

More "state endorsement" of thanksgiving to Almighty God.

Thanksgiving Day- 1933
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do set aside and appoint Thursday, the thirtieth day of November 1933, to be a Day of Thanksgiving for all our people.

May we on that day in our churches and in our homes give humble thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us during the year past by Almighty God.

May we recall the courage of those who settled a wilderness, the vision of those who founded the Nation, the steadfastness of those who in every succeeding generation have fought to keep pure the ideal of equality of opportunity and hold clear the goal of mutual help in time of prosperity as in time of adversity.

May we be grateful for the passing of dark days; for the new spirit of dependence one on another; for the closer unity of all parts of our wide land; for the greater friendship between employers and those who toil; for a clearer knowledge by all nations that we seek no conquests and ask only honorable engagements by all people to respect the lands and rights of their neighbors; for the brighter day to which we can win through by seeking the help of God in amore unselfish striving for the bettering of mankind.

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-three and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and fifty-eighth.

Franklin D. Roosevelt.
By the President:
William Phillips,
Acting Secretary of State.

(I'm waiting to hear from the revisionist religiophobes.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Founding Father, President George Washington violates separation of church and state with Thanksgiving Proclamation

Hey all you church/state revisionists, we invite you to spin your way out of this historical fact.

This is the text of George Washington's October 3, 1789 national Thanksgiving Proclamation; as printed in The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, on October 17, 1789.

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; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

G. Washington.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ritchie actually said he wanted to depoliticize the Minnesota Secretary of State's office?

The mainstream media has picked up on the story that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie wasn't totally forthright in his denials regarding how his campaign got the list of individuals and organizations gathered through the Secretary of State's office. The list was comprised of organizations and individuals brought together to increase voter turnout. Individuals in attendance ended up getting a political fundraising letter from Ritchie.
Previously, Ritchie had denied knowing how the campaign got the list. He now insists that it solicited contributions only to pay for the newsletter itself. But its text invites recipients to an upcoming campaign fundraiser.
However, it turns out he personally gave the list to the campaign.
Ritchie said Tuesday that he personally provided a copy of the directory to his campaign and requested that those on the list get a copy of his campaign's civic engagement newsletter, which is distributed to about 12,000 individuals and groups whom he described as active in civic life in the state.
It also reminds people that Ritchie said when campaigning he wanted to depoliticize the office of secretary of state.
Ritchie, a DFLer, was elected on a platform of de-politicizing the office, which supervises elections.
Frankly, Ritchie was and is viewed as a highly partisan, liberal activist. He headed up a liberal environmental group prior to running for the secretary of state position.

Embryonic stem cell breakthrough to reshape stem cell debate

A new discovery on the stem cell scene looks like it could well reshape the debate over the use of embryonic stem cell tissue. The new method allows human adult skin cells to be changed to act like embryonic stem cells. This allows people to sidestep the issue of destroying human embryos to harvest their cells.
Researchers in Wisconsin and Japan have turned ordinary human skin cells into what are effectively embryonic stem cells without using embryos or women's eggs -- the two hitherto essential ingredients that have embroiled the medically promising field in a long political and ethical debate.

By activating a few dormant genes, the researchers were able to coax the cells back to a point in embryonic development before they had committed to becoming a particular type of tissue. The reprogrammed cells were able to grow into all the body's main tissue types, including muscle, gut, cartilage, neurons and heart cells.

The discovery provides a clear road map for creating genetically matched replacement cells that could be used to treat patients for a variety of diseases -- the personalized biological repair kits that are the ultimate goal of regenerative medicine.

While this may well dramatically change the overall debate, those ideologically driven to support the destruction of human embryos to harvest their cells will not be persuaded. In another story you can hear ideology driving a proponent of embryonic stem cell legislation.
"I don't think this changes the debate," said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a key participant in the House debate. "We still need to encourage all types of research, and we need to put ethical oversight in place."
For those not ideologically driven I think it will change the debate.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some upset with Archbishop Nienstedt for stating the obvious regarding Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual behavior

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Coadjuter Archbishop John C. Nienstedt has generated some controversy with his article in the diocesan newspaper, "The Catholic Spirit", on the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.

The archbishop was writing a follow up column to an article written by the editor of "The Catholic Spirit", Joe Towalski.

The Archbishop made four points:

First, Catholic churches, colleges and other institutions shouldn't be inviting in speakers who oppose the church's teaching.

Second, those who engage in homosexual behavior and those who promote or encourage such behavior are guilty of a mortal sin and have broken communion with the church.

Third, a good explanation of the church's teaching on homosexuality is found in a document entitled, "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care."

Fourth, there are efforts and opportunities already in existence to help persons who struggle with same sex attractions to not act on them.

Those offended by the Archbishop's comments of course have an issue with not just the Archbishop but the Catholic Church's position which has been around for quite a while. (Nearly two millennium.)

I think the news here is the willingness of the new Archbishop Nienstedt to boldly, straightforwardly state the Church's position on one of the more contentious social issues of our day.

Frankly, there is a crisis of truth in our society and culture. I'm excited to see the Archbishop speak out. Ultimately, speaking the truth is an act of love. Just look at the life of the person who embodied love and the conflict His words and life generated -- Jesus Christ. Of course, we must speak the truth in a spirit of love and concern for those we're addressing. But to assume there's a problem merely because conflict or controversy are generated is the wrong conclusion to draw.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can't we all just get along? The Star Tribune and civil unions

That's the tone of a Star Tribune op/ed piece on the front page of the Opinion page in the Sunday Star Tribune entitled, "Civil unions offer solution to a vexing question."

The writer, Mary Catherine Preus, in the piece prominently featured top of the fold on the front page of the Sunday opinion page, suggests civil unions is the compromise necessary to resolve the debate over same sex marriage.

She's wrong on all points. For one, civil unions are simply marriage by another name. It affords homosexual unions the legal status and public endorsement they desire except for the eight letter label: marriage. And, as so many homosexual activists point out, civil unions are only a down payment for eventual same sex marriage recognition. In Connecticut, I believe, immediately after the state enacted civil union legislation, a homosexual activist said it was merely a down payment for marriage recognition. And in New Jersey, a homosexual activist heads up a task force reviewing "problems" with their civil union law. Civil unions are merely a step on the way to marriage recognition. Soften up public opinion, as they say, so they can eventually get homosexual marriage recognition.

Preus tells opponents of same sex marriage that civil unions is really a simple concession to the many activities we dislike but are here to stay. It provides a "legal accommodation" like so many other activities we disapprove of, e.g. liquor, artificial insemination, divorce, surrogate mothers and so forth. That begs the question: Is the underlying activity something we want to encourage which is what civil unions will do? Do we want to encourage and promote the idea that deliberately denying a child a mom and a dad is a good thing? Officially recognizing same sex unions will only serve to further de-legitimize the notion that having children raised without a mother and a father is a bad thing. In fact, it will afford societal benefits and a societal stamp of approval to familial arrangements which, by definition, deny the presence of a mother or a father.

It's interesting how Preus seeks to subtly marginalize the "moral or religious reasons" which motivate people who oppose certain behaviors, while even evoking Jesus Christ. That's the old secularist tactic that seeks to place people with religious convictions on the margins of the public debate so secularists will have a freer rein in the public debate. The fact is the secularist position is a worldview as much as the theistic perspective is, and shouldn't be given a special standing in the public square.

Preus tries to short circuit the criticism that same sex marriage will see a push for polygamy. She says civil unions aren't giving marital status to same sex couples and therefore will provide no basis for recognizing polygamous marriages. Applying her logic to polygamy, once civil unions are granted to homosexual couples, some alternative legal status will no doubt be sought by polygamous folks seeking recognition of their "committed" polygamous relationships.

The bottom line is civil unions are merely part of an incremental strategy for obtaining homosexual marriage recognition.

The problems with cohabitation and lack of biological parents in their kids' lives

There's an interesting AP story on the problems children experience when their living arrangements aren't comprised of their biological parents which is usually the case in cohabitation situations.

Cohabitation is a growing problem with people cohabiting in record numbers. Not only are there greater problems for the adults who cohabit but also for the children living in these cohabiting households.

I think a key factor is the self-centered focus of these relationships. Cohabiting provides many with what they view as an escape hatch. It's the "Things may change" or "I'll have to see how it works out" approach. The lack of commitment means less stable relationships and when children are present they can easily be viewed as an irritant to getting what "I want" which means the likelihood of child abuse increases.

As one person noted:

"I've seen many cases of physical and sexual abuse that come up with boyfriends, stepparents," said Eliana Gil, clinical director for the national abuse-prevention group Childhelp.

"It comes down to the fact they don't have a relationship established with these kids," she said. "Their primary interest is really the adult partner, and they may find themselves more irritated when there's a problem with the children."

Ultimately, many of the sexuality and reproductive issues, e.g. surrogacy, egg selling, type of sex education taught, marriage definition, etc., tie into the problems children are having in unstable family arrangements. The ideal is a child raised by both biological children in a lifelong relationship, e.g. marriage. Any policies which encourage deviation from the ideal shouldn't be promoted.

Of course, some will say "But that's not reality. " "We can't roll back the clock." That doesn't make sense. Of course we can't roll back the clock but we also don't have to accept the status quo if the status quo isn't good. What are the strategies for insuring more children are raised by their biological parents in a marriage relationship is the question we need to be asking.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chlamydia cases up, must be due to abstinence education, condom advocates will no doubt say

"More than 1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States last year, the most ever for a sexually transmitted disease, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said." was the first line from a news story earlier this week in the Seattle Times.

I can already hear what the condom and contraceptive proponents will say, "It's due to abstinence education! Kids need more condoms!"

That may sound over the top but I doubt it. Every time there's more bad news about teen pregnancy and STDs, the comprehensive sex ed crowd says it's due to abstinence education. It shows how desperate they're getting and how they are utterly driven by ideology.

I recollect that chlamydia is also spread through non-intercourse sexual activity which only reaffirms "abstinence until marriage" as the right sex education message for teenagers.

Bill Bennett and Chuck Colson discuss Giuliani, and Christians and Politics, among other things

This past week there was an interesting discussion between Bill Bennett, host of a conservative radio show, and Chuck Colson founder of Prison Fellowship, a ministry to prisoners, and former Nixon White House aide known for his no holds barred approach to politics. This approach landed him in prison and his subsequent conversion led to his starting Prison Fellowship and his work on Christian, cultural apologetics.

During their discussion, Colson discussed whether pro-life Christians could vote for Giuliani, some of the trends in our culture, and the relationship between the Christian and politics. I've always felt Colson has a very balanced perspective on Christian political involvement. He's avoided the two extremes: politics is everything or politics is irrelevant.

For those interested in developing a better understanding of the relationship of the Christian to politics, I highly recommend his book, "God and Government."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clinton v. Giuliani?

Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are both currently ahead in their races for the presidential nominations of their respective parties. A lot can and no doubt will happen between now and their nominating conventions. There are some who say there's no way Giuliani can win the Republican nomination because he's too liberal on social and other issues. That may well be the case but if the other four major candidates -- McCain, Huckabee, Romney and Thompson -- all stay in the race despite poor performances I think there's a scenario where they carve up the social and economic conservative voters and Giuliani wins the endorsement with 35 to 40% of the vote.

Clinton still has a good lead on the Democrat side and is still the odds on favorite to win the Democrat nomination.

If this is the line up for 2008 I think there will be very disenchanted people in both parties. Giuliani, for obvious reasons, among social conservatives and other conservatives. And Hillary because she does not excite many Democrats. I spoke with one DFL elected official who rolled his eyes when I asked him if he supported Hillary. He thought she would be a disaster. For one, she has extremely high negatives among voters in general. And second, there's the sense she'll say or do anything to get elected. A recent example is her trying to play both sides of the issue on giving driver licenses to illegal aliens. And columnist David Broder raises another issue; the idea that Bill Clinton would maintain a very influential position if she did become president and the concerns people have with that. I think there was Clinton fatigue after eight years of his presidency which was marked by personal scandal and a sense of opportunism and lack of principle.

The 2008 presidential election winner maybe a case of who people dislike the least.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Star Tribune spikes real story - Superintendent Westerhaus resigns after voters affirm message of abstinence

As usual, the ever-shrinking Star Tribune refused to print the whole story regarding the election of Chris Lind to the Prior Lake/Savage school board last week.

In a slick bit of spin the Star Tribune shaded the story by reporting that the “district told [Lind] him he could not talk to students off-campus about religion.”

The truth is that District Human Resource Director Tony Massaros told Lind that he could not talk about sexual abstinence with students during or after school, on or off campus, during or after school hours.

See notarized testimony by Jim Fry.

Massaros also told Lind he could not talk about abstinence in a bible study in his own home, “in youth groups at church or in small group study off campus.” Massaros allegedly censored Lind from discussing abstinence with anyone who had ever attended the district.

Why are the Star Tribune and the Prior Lake/Savage school board working so hard to color the story?

Perhaps it’s because comprehensive sex education is a colossal failure.

Fox News just reported more than 1 million cases of Chlamydia in the U.S. last year – the most ever reported for a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Never has it been more dangerous for youth to be sexually active.

Clearly, schools should be telling students that abstinence is the healthiest choice.

But instead of protecting our youth, the Star Tribune ideologues chose to shade the story, and Sup. Westerhaus resigned.

Atheists and atheism on the defensive

Recent debates by atheist Christopher Hitchens with defenders of God and Christianity, author Dinesh D'Souza and Oxford scholar Alister McGrath highlights the changing intellectual climate regarding debates on the existence of God and the Christian God in particular. In a nutshell, atheists and their defenders are on the defensive. This is pointed out in an interesting article in World magazine written by Marvin Olasky.

Back in the days of the Scopes trial and even before that, Theists and Christians tended to be on the defensive. Today, the roles are reversed. Advances in science pointing to design and an Intelligent Designer and the utter devastation wrought by atheistic ideologies like Marxism and Nazism have changed the terms of the debate and provided powerful evidence for the theistic, Christian position.

In the debate between between D'Souza and Hitchens, you can sense it even in the tone of taken by the debaters. D'Souza said in essence, I'll debate you on your own terms, using science and reason while Hitchens reverted to name calling, generalities, and accusations. The latter usually occurs when the side you're defending is weak and lacks evidentiary support.

I saw this a few years ago when a state Senate committee took up the proposed science standards and the topic of evolution came up. Those who oppose the materialist foundations of evolution simply argued that new scientific evidence, drawing into question evolution and other scientific theories, be included in the discussion. The atheistic representative and other supporters of evolution saw a grand religious conspiracy at play and made broad, generalized accusations. Defenders of including new evidence simply made scientific arguments. It struck me that this mini-debate was a microcosm of Scopes in reverse. That same dynamic is being played out in many other venues on the broader topic of God v. no god and design in nature v. Darwinian materialism. As always, I believe the truth will ultimately win out.

Evangelicals for Romney?

I recently came across an interesting endorsement of Mitt Romney for president by Wayne Grudem. Grudem, a respected, conservative, evangelical professor of theology, has written many theological books, including a massive treatise called Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. I've never seen him weigh in on past presidential candidates though that's not to say he hasn't.

With different evangelical leaders lining up behind other Republican candidates and giving various reasons for doing so, I think Grudem has written a thoughtful piece laying out his rationale for supporting a particular candidate, in this case Romney. He also tackles head on the Mormon issue, where there are extremely significant theological differences with evangelicals.

How it will all shake out is anybody's guess. If nothing else Grudem has supplied a well written defense of Romney and why he as an evangelical supports Romney for the presidency. I'm sure Romney will use Grudem's article in his efforts to persuade other evangelicals to support his candidacy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Teachers' unions give only "lip service to caring for kids"

A union's primary purpose for existing is to promote job security and higher pay and benefits for its members. That is certainly true of the teachers' unions even though they give a lot of lip service to caring for kids. In fact, there is evidence which suggests to me that they could care less about kids.

A case in point was the recently defeated school voucher proposal passed by the Utah legislature. It passed the Utah legislature but was placed on the ballot in the recent November election. It would have given low income students a voucher worth between $500 to $3,000 dollars to attend a private school of their choice, much less than the $7,500 it costs Utah taxpayers to educate a public school child. George Will reported prior to the vote that millions of dollars was being spent by teachers' unions across the country to defeat the Utah referendum. He noted reports that the NEA approved expenditures of up to $3 million to defeat the proposal and state teachers' unions in Maine, Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming were also contributing to the campaign to defeat the new law.

While I prefer the use of tax credits and tax incentives for private scholarship funds rather than vouchers, the unions certainly didn't argue that they preferred other ways of empowering parents. Their fear is if low income parents have a choice they will leave their public schools. That's reminiscent of the Berlin Wall mentality. The wall was built to keep people from leaving the communist regime not keep people out. In the same way, the unions oppose anything which threatens their monopoly of power over public education. The result is the education of kids, the primary goal of public education, is lost in their drive for power and money.

I believe truth and right ultimately prevail in life though it often times takes much longer than I would prefer. I think the same will be true with meeting the education needs of parents and kids rather than the power and money desires of the teachers' unions.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our schools are creating a generation of dysfunctional religiophobes

Last holiday season my wife and I shared a pair of recordings with our children; circa 1972 when we were members of the Highland Park Sr. High Choir. Although we had a great time reminiscing and comparing intergenerational musical abilities, we were struck with a sadness that went beyond the wistful melancholia of days gone by. We realized that these albums were a testament to an era when tolerance could be accomplished by sharing expressions of faith via the medium of music — all in a public school.

One album was a traditional collection of works performed by the high school choir. However, it contained secular and religious works sung in Latin, English, and Hebrew. The tracks flowed innocently from "Chichester Psalms" sung in Hebrew, to "Mass in G" sung in Latin. The second was a Hebrew Service containing the original works of a Highland graduate and sung by our choir. The composer, a Jewish woman, recorded the album as “a new experience in worship that emphasizes through song the importance of community involvement in worship. It enables those who are willing to join together as a community in contemporary songs of prayer.” (Emphasis in the original.)

As we listened to the scratchy recordings, we realized the lasting effect of these experiences. I recall being taught to speak Hebrew (some of which I still remember) by one of my Jewish classmates and performing the service in Temple on a Friday evening. Later, these public school experiences enabled me to be open to attending a Seder. I have heard the Shofar and tasted bitter herbs. As an Evangelical Christian, I have had numerous opportunities to share these experiences with my children and members of my congregation. I once played a track called “Sh’ Ma” (sung in Hebrew) to an Evangelical pastor and watched him weep. “Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is One.”

On the back of the album is a picture of our choir in the recording studio. As I looked at our faces I saw black and white; man and women. But the photo, not unlike our contemporary classrooms, could only reflect race and gender. It failed to convey the rich diversity of our thought life and core beliefs. Only when I listened to the religious music was I able to realize the complexity of Christian, Jew, and atheist – all singing in an atmosphere of tolerance. It’s shameful to admit that this experience would be questionable in today’s hyper-sensitive environment.

We are living in denial. It’s doubtful we can learn to embrace diversity when we prohibit any exposure to our most fundamental differences. In fact, banning all reference to our religious heritage creates even greater ignorance and fear. Our schools are creating a generation of dysfunctional “religiophobes.” What ever happened to “critical thinking”?
There is a vast difference between learning about faith and teaching faith. Learning about the diversity of faith in the public square is no more an endorsement of religion than learning about Hitler’s “Final Solution” is an endorsement of the Holocaust. It is a dubious argument that postulates that the reading of "Mien Kampf" is not a state endorsement, yet the reading of the book of "Exodus" or the "Gospel of St. John" is.

I encourage people of all faiths — who take their faith seriously — to reclaim the lost ground of the last 50 years of secularism. The purging of diverse expressions of faith in our public schools and institutions gags our attempts to reach tolerance, and forces us to communicate with photographs depicting little more than sex, gender, and race.

Was there really a time when the arts, faith, and government coexisted in a peaceful environment? Were we too ignorant to know we were doing something “unconstitutional” — or were we simply too tolerant to care?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"The train to Huxley's dehumanized Brave New World has already left the station."

The above is a line from Leon Kass' talk to the Manhattan Institute on the impact of scientific materialism or as he calls it "soul-less scientism" on efforts to reconstruct life using such technologies as “The Pill. In vitro fertilization. Surrogate wombs. Cloning. Genetic engineering. Organ swapping. Mechanical spare parts. Performance--enhancing drugs. Computer implants into brains. Ritalin for the young, Viagra for the old, Prozac for everyone. Virtually unnoticed, the train to Huxley's dehumanized Brave New World has already left the station."

The inroads by scientific materialism as embodied in Darwinian evolution is washing into every sphere of society, e.g. education, law, politics, science, ethics and, as Kass points out, issues of life and what it means to be human. The problem is materialism brings with it no moral, ethical framework for considering these issues.

I expect a few of these issues to come up in the next Minnesota legislative session -- cloning, surrogate wombs and egg selling.

At it's core it's a worldview conflict. On the materialist side is the belief that we're merely the result of a mindless, purposeless, chance process with no transcendent meaning or purpose. On the other side is the belief there is a God who designed and imbued creation with meaning and purpose. These two worldviews and their local extensions are currently wrestling for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. The outcome will decide whether we slide into a new barbarism/Dark Ages or a period of human flourishing and hope.

ENDA passes U. S. House of Representatives

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives voted 235-184 to pass a bill (H.R. 3685) which, if signed into law, will give homosexuals and bisexuals special rights in the workplace and threaten the religious liberties of business owners and a whole range of private organizations.

Every business or organization with more than fifteen employees will be prohibited from refusing to hire a person because of the person's “actual or perceived” sexual orientation. This means sexual orientation, which includes homosexuality and bisexuality, will be given the same status as race, sex, and age in our federal civil rights laws.

It would force Christian business owners, Boy Scouts, youth organizations, youth mentoring groups, universities and day care centers to violate their deeply held religious or moral beliefs regarding hiring persons engaged in homosexual or bisexual behavior.

While the bill exempts “religious organizations” the definition is vague enough to put at risk of legal attack organizations run on Christian principles. This list includes Christian bookstores and businesses, children’s homes, community centers, youth organizations, day care centers, schools and other non-profits.

It would prohibit employers from using marriage as employment criteria, e.g. marriage counseling ministries couldn’t require their marriage counselors to be legally married.

In conclusion, ENDA will enshrine "sexual orientation" in federal law, providing activist judges with the legal ammunition to move toward the legalization of gay marriage. (Previous court cases recognizing same-sex marriage have referenced the existence of sexual orientation in other areas of the law to justify their decisions in favor of same-sex marriage.)

The Minnesota Congressional Delegation voted 6-2 in favor of this bill. Republican US Representatives Kline and Bachmann voted against ENDA while all Democrat US Representatives Ellison, McCollum, Peterson, Oberstar, and Walz and Republican Ramstad voted in favor of ENDA.

Below are their phone and email addresses to express your appreciation for a vote against ENDA and disappointment if he or she voted for it.

Once again, ENDA is an attack on religious liberties and will expose business owners, schools and youth organizations like the Boy Scouts to legal attacks for seeking to uphold moral principles in their organizations and businesses.

Please call or email your US Representative at the following numbers. Email can be conducted through his or her webpage

Rep. Michele Bachmann 202.225.2331 or 651.731.5400

Rep. Keith Ellison - 202.225.4755 or 612.522.1212

Rep. John Kline - 202.225.2271 or 952.808.1213

Rep. Betty McCollum - 202.225.6631 or 651.224.9191

Rep. James L. Oberstar (D - 08) - 202-225-6211 or 218.727.8270

Rep. Collin Peterson - 202.225.2165 or 218.253.4356 or 320.235.1061

Rep. Jim Ramstad - 202.225.6351 or 952.738.8200

Rep. Tim Walz - 202.225.3433 or 507.206.0650

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The judges opinion on lesbian parents denied discrimination complaint: good outcome, wrong headed editorial comments by judge

A lesbian couple, denied a family membership to the Rochester Athletic Club because they weren't married, lost their discrimination lawsuit. The judge correctly pointed out that there was no sexual orientation discrimination because cohabiting heterosexual couples are also denied family memberships. Judge Kevin A. Lund wrote, "It is for the Legislature, not the courts, to determine whether nonmarital relationships such as that involved in this case deserve the statutory protection afforded the sanctity of the marriage union." Good decision evidencing judicial restraint.

In his editorial comments though Judge Lund was off base in calling the health club's definition of family
"unrealistically narrow" and "fails to recognize the underlying stability and commitment of the Monsons' relationship.' He also wrote, "Other, arguably more enlightened organizations, such as the Rochester Area Family Y, have chosen not to reduce the definition of family in such an anachronistic fashion,'' he said.

He calls the policy less than enlightened but that simply begs the questions, is the present effort to redefine the family and marriage good for society. Let's see. Family breakdown is at unprecedented levels. Cohabitation, divorce rates are far too high and marriage rates are dropping. Kids do much worse in unmarried headed households. Past family redefinition experiments like subsidizing single parent headed households have been an utter failure. Now there's an effort afoot to re-define marriage to be a "loving relationship." Yet homosexual relationships are more unstable than heterosexual relationships and by definition deliberately deny a child the benefit of a mother or a father.

Marriage sounds like the best policy for strong families. But of course Judge Lund who seems to have absorbed much of the "spirit of our age" fails to see beyond the politically correct view of family. How bad will things have to get before he and others realize that common sense, modern research and millennia of experience affirm the ancient truth -- man and woman were created for a purpose.

Voters override high school gag order on abstinence by electing Chris Lind to the school board

Chris Lind won't be silenced anymore.

Voters sent a clear message to Prior Lake-Savage schools last night by electing Chris Lind to the school board. Lind, who received 13.96 percent of the vote was the only non-incumbent elected.

Last June Lind was fired from his job as Prior Lake-Savage high school campus supervisor because of job performance. A closer look revealed that Lind was told by Tony Massaros, District 719 Director of Human Resources, that he could not talk about sexaul abstinence with students during or after school, on or off campus, during or after school hours.

Massaros also told Lind he could not talk about abstinence in a bible study in his own home, “in youth groups at church or in small group study off campus.” Massaros allegedly censored Lind from discussing abstinence with anyone who had ever attended the district.

Looks like voters have given Lind, and his healthy message of abstinence, the bully pulpit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

ENDA , sexual orientation and the logical extension of protecting sexual orientation

The U.S. House is expected to vote sometime this week on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA. ENDA would add "sexual orientation" to the federal anti-discrimination laws which currently provides protected class status for people based on such categories as race, sex, and age.

One of the objections to ENDA is it will give special legal protection to people based on their sexual behaviors and desires which fundamentally undercuts the purpose of giving protections based on morally neutral, immutable traits like race.

However proponents argue sexual orientation is not a choice therefore appropriately included.

A couple of problems with the "it's not a choice" mantra. For one, a genetic basis for sexual orientation has never been discovered. (An even if there was one we can't conclude that something is fundamentally good simply because its genetic. What about sickle cell anemia or alcoholism; the latter many believe has a genetic component.) And second, the only way one knows a person's sexual orientation is by a person's behavior. And of course we all are responsible for our behaviors. Otherwise, what's to stop a person from saying whatever they want about their sexual orientation. Third, this sexual orientation concept is very fluid. People are constantly moving in and out of different sexual behaviors. And fourth, homosexual behavior is not a morally neutral activity. All the major religions have viewed such behavior as immoral.

What's also interesting are all the other sexual orientations which exist. The debate over ENDA revolves around homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism. (One bill includes transgender and another doesn't.) But what about the wide range of other sexual orientations recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. If these sexual orientation should be protected why not all the other sexual orientations? Why shouldn't they be afforded civil rights protection as well?

Here are a few examples taken from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders produced by the American Psychiatric Association. They include:
  1. Coprophilia - sexual arousal associated with feces (p. 576)
  2. Exhibitionism - the act of exposing one’s genitals to an unwilling observer to obtain sexual gratification (p. 569)
  3. Fetishism/Sexual Fetishism - obtaining sexual excitement primarily or exclusively from an inanimate object or a particular part of the body (p. 570)
  4. Frotteurism - approaching an unknown woman from the rear and pressing or rubbing the penis against her buttocks (p. 570)
  5. Gender Identity Disorder - a strong and persistent cross-gender identification, which is the desire to be, or the insistence that one is, or the other sex, "along with" persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex or a sense of the inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex (p. 576)
  6. Klismaphilia - erotic pleasure derived from enemas (p. 576)
  7. Necrophilia - sexual arousal and/or activity with a corpse (p. 576)
  8. Partialism - A fetish in which a person is sexually attracted to a specific body part exclusive of the person (p. 576)
  9. Pedophilia - Sexual activity with a prepubescent child (generally age 13 years or younger). The individual with pedophilia must be age 16 years or older and at least 5 years older than the child. For individuals in late adolescence with pedophilia, no precise age difference is specified, and clinical judgment must be used; both the sexual maturity of the child and the age difference must be taken into account; the adult may be sexually attracted to opposite sex, same sex, or prefer either (p. 571)
These are bizarre to say the least. But if they too aren't chosen, but determinative of who a person is, then why shouldn't they be afforded civil rights protections like homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism?

The problem is once one crosses the line of appropriate sexual relations between a man and a woman within the context of a lifelong, marriage relationship, there's no rational place to redraw the line.

The ultimate result? Social anarchy. The practice of sex outside of marriage has already resulted in fatherlessness, poverty, problems for children and adults, epidemic of STDs, higher rates of domestic abuse, abortion. On and on the list goes.

ENDA serves ultimately to give further legitimacy to sexual behaviors which violate "the laws of nature and nature's God."

ENDA vote delayed again

The House vote on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been delayed again. The vote was removed from the agenda at the last minute.

At issue is the inclusion of gender identity. If included, gender identity would force organizations like the Boy Scouts, or an Orthodox Jewish day care center to hire a man dressed in women's clothing.

In the last few days, Rep. Jim Ramstad, (GOP Dist 3,) Rep. Tim Walz, (DFL Dist. 1), and Rep. Colin Peterson, (DFL Dist. 7), have received thousands of calls urging them to veto ENDA.

Call your Congressman and tell him to "vote no" on all versions of ENDA.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Star Tribune's circulation for last six months continues to plunge

The circulation of major newspapers continues to decline. For the six month time period ending September 2007, the 538 daily newspapers nationwide witnessed a 2.5% drop in newspaper circulation. Of the top 25 newspapers only 4 experienced gains in circulation. For 638 newspapers with Sunday editions, the average drop was 3.5%.

In the case of the Star Tribune, the situation was much worse. It's daily circulation declined 6.5% to 335,443 and Sunday circulation was down 4.3% to 570,443. The Pioneer Press' circulation was flat, up .1% for both dailies and Sunday - 184,474 and 245,930 respectively.

I'm sure the overall circulation is down because of the advent of Internet and the increase of other media sources. I wonder how much of it is due to the overwhelming liberal bias which has characterized the mainstream media. If that's an important factor, then it's understandable that the Star Tribune's decline was even greater because it has certainly been one of the more liberal newspapers in the country.

Along those lines, the two most prominent liberal newspapers nationally - NY Times and Washington Post - saw their circulations drop more than the national average. The New York Times daily circulation dropped 4.51% to 1,03,828 and Washington Post saw a drop of 3.2% to 635,087. Their Sunday circulation declines were also greater than the national average.

The atheist as intolerant and narrow minded

There is an interesting column in City Journal written by Theodore Dalrymple entitled what "What the New Atheists Don't See. It on the new crop of atheist writers, Chrisotpher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins who are making the New York Times best seller list.

He takes to task the new atheists who cavalierly heaping scorn on religious folks and their belief in meaning and purpose beyond themselves. These folks say we can do it on our own without the help of God who transcends our little worlds. Dalrymple goes on to point out the consequences of men who think they can do it on their own. He says,
"Of course, men—that is to say, some men—have denied this truth ["we continue to long for a transcendent purpose immanent in existence itself, independent of our own wills."] ever since the Enlightenment, and have sought to find a way of life based entirely on reason. Far as I am from decrying reason, the attempt leads at best to Gradgrind and at worst to Stalin. Reason can never be the absolute dictator of man’s mental or moral economy.
He especially goes after Harris when he says,
This sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple, with the assumption of certainty where there is none, combined with adolescent shrillness and intolerance, reach an apogee in Sam Harris’s book The End of Faith. It is not easy to do justice to the book’s nastiness...

Harris tells us, for example, that “we must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting.” I am glad that I am old enough that I shall not see the future of reason as laid down by Harris; but I am puzzled by the status of the compulsion in the first sentence that I have quoted. Is Harris writing of a historical inevitability? Of a categorical imperative? Or is he merely making a legislative proposal? This is who-will-rid-me-of-this-troublesome-priest language, ambiguous no doubt, but not open to a generous interpretation.

It becomes even more sinister when considered in conjunction with the following sentences, quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist: “The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.”

Let us leave aside the metaphysical problems that these three sentences raise. For Harris, the most important question about genocide would seem to be: “Who is genociding whom?” To adapt Dostoyevsky slightly, starting from universal reason, I arrive at universal madness.

Lying not far beneath the surface of all the neo-atheist books is the kind of historiography that many of us adopted in our hormone-disturbed adolescence, furious at the discovery that our parents sometimes told lies and violated their own precepts and rules. It can be summed up in Christopher Hitchens’s drumbeat in God Is Not Great: “Religion spoils everything.”

What are the consequences of the loss of the religious foundations of our society and culture? Dalrymple says,
The thinness of the new atheism is evident in its approach to our civilization, which until recently was religious to its core. To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy. And in my own view, the absence of religious faith, provided that such faith is not murderously intolerant, can have a deleterious effect upon human character and personality. If you empty the world of purpose, make it one of brute fact alone, you empty it (for many people, at any rate) of reasons for gratitude, and a sense of gratitude is necessary for both happiness and decency. For what can soon, and all too easily, replace gratitude is a sense of entitlement. Without gratitude, it is hard to appreciate, or be satisfied with, what you have: and life will become an existential shopping spree that no product satisfies.
He also makes the interesting observation that atheists often heap scorn on religious people for their metaphysical beliefs. Dalrymple points out that the atheist belief in Darwinian natural selection is also making a religious statement.
It is true that he would say that everything is part of God’s providence, but, again, this is no more (and no less) a metaphysical belief than the belief in natural selection as an all-explanatory principle.
What makes Dalrymple's comments especially interesting is he does not consider himself "a believer."

Friday, November 2, 2007

What can gay supporters do with ex-gays but attempt to marginalize and/or discredit them

Homosexual activists are always arguing that they have no choice in their lifestyle. But when a person who was in the homosexual lifestyle for many years leaves it, it’s hard for them to know how to respond. A case in point is Janet Boynes. Janet was in the lesbian lifestyle for over a dozen years. It wasn’t pretty. It was a life filled with drug abuse, depression, eating disorder and jealous relationships. She views herself driven into lesbian because of her horrible family upbringing and poor relationships with men.

Janet speaks nationally on the topic and recently gained the attention of Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Monitor, a liberal online newsletter. Andy seeks to marginalize her views.

Andy challenges for her assertion that lesbianism is marked by high levels of destructive behaviors. Andy writes that people know lesbians who grow up with stable, drug free and happy lives. Certainly there are homosexuals who aren’t involved in drugs and are content with their lives. However, when looking at the overall pattern of the lifestyle that isn’t the case. There are studies showing people who engage in homosexuality are disproportionately depressed, suicidal, abusing drugs, and have a shorter life expectancy.

It’s analogous to smoking. Are there smokers who live long, happy lives? Certainly. But on average smoking is bad for your health and we shouldn’t suggest it isn’t.

The same is true with homosexuality. On average it’s not a happy lifestyle. To suggest otherwise is not helpful to individual person or broader society. That’s why the message of Janet Boynes is so important to hear and why some strongly oppose it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Giuliani and abortion and his attempt to have it both ways

In Rudy Giuliani's recent speech before the Values Voter Summit, I commented on the fact that he didn't mention the issue of marriage once. Instead he spent quite a bit time attempting to make pro-lifers at ease with his pro-abortion views.

A closer examination reveals a very convoluted attempt to make pro-lifers like him while at the same time not appearing to flip flop again on the issue of abortion.

In the past he has said he hates abortion and would do everything he could personally to persuade a woman not to have one, but in the end it's a woman's choice. (Sounds reminiscent of Bill Clinton's safe, legal and rare.) Normally at this point the political figure says, but I can't force my morality on other people and he adopts a pro-abortion policy position.

In Giuliani's case he adds a new wrinkle by instead adopting the prevailing pro-life policy positions. He said in his Summit speech,
"We can all agree to move in the direction of setting specific goals to decrease as much as we can the number of abortions in America and to increase the number of adoptions in America. And here’s how I would get there. First, I’ll veto any reduction in the impact of the Hyde Amendment or other existing limits on abortions or the public funding of abortions. I will support---


I will support any reasonable suggestion that promises to reduce the number of abortions. I support parental notification and will continue to and I supported and continue to support the ban on partial-birth abortion."

And finally he says he'll “appoint Supreme Court Justices in the mold of Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, or Chief Justice Roberts.”

In essence, he would support most of the major pro-life policy positions put in place by pro-life President George Bush and appoint the type of judges who would likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and other pro-abortion decisions.

He starts out by mirroring the privatization of morality we often hear from those who support abortion, when they say, “I’m personally opposed to abortion but I wouldn’t want to impose my views on others.” Yet then he flips again and says he'll support the existing pro-life policies. No wonder people are disillusioned and frustrated with politicians and politics. He's attempting to please all sides instead of adhering to a morally consistent position.