Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hatred being used for political gain

In murdering nine black Christians in Charleston, SC, a 21 year-old gunman claimed he hoped the massacre would start a race war. But instead he sparked something else: Christian forgiveness from the victims’ families and a promise that love would prevail. No riots, no looting, just mercy.

In contrast, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other leftists wasted no time exploiting the tragedy in the name of their own race war and used it to renew the call for tighter gun control. It’s interesting how today’s Christians are the ones considered hateful, when true hatred in the form of mass murder is used as a convenient tool for political gain.

Since promising to fundamentally transform America before taking office in 2009, Obama has actively worked at doing so, often by using race as a flashpoint to divide Americans. From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown and others, Obama has used highly publicized incidents to exacerbate racial tensions, quick to blame any incident involving a black “victim” and non-black “offender” on racism, despite no proof of racism.

The fact that the Charleston murderer is a self-proclaimed racist dovetails nicely with Obama’s insulting claim last week that racism is in America’s DNA. In other words, according to our president, there is no changing us. We are hateful, bigoted people by nature. Where’s the hope in that?

Worse, in a complete show of disrespect to the black Christians brutally murdered, just days afterward Obama used the "N-word" in a speech, implying that just because people might not use it in public, doesn't mean they're not racist. Translation: they still use it in private and, therefore, are disgusting racists. What on earth...?

Barack Obama has taken us back to racial animosity and bitterness like no other president. In fact a recent CNN/ORC survey found that 84% of Americans feel race relations are worse since Obama took office. Instead of making our country more color blind, he has color coded it. He has poured gasoline on smoldering racial division and helped create the abyss across which black and white citizens now stare at each other with increasing anger, mistrust and incomprehension. 

As for other incidents, such as Sandy Hook, the Colorado theater shootings, etc., the president can’t claim racism, so must trot out his other favorite scapegoat, guns, and his desire to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to have them.

It doesn’t matter to the Left, though, that gun laws don’t keep people like the Charleston murderer from inflicting evil on others. It doesn’t sink in that where gun laws are most strict, such as in D.C. and Chicago, gun crimes are the most rampant.

What the Left cannot accept is that there are and always will be people who are very unstable, disturbed, or just plain evil, and they will continue to murder and hurt others, with or without guns. No gun law will ever fix that. But maybe a spiritual renewal in our country could help.

Instead of blaming racism or guns, maybe we should focus more on how to live moral lives. Perhaps we should look at the impact that divorce, violent videogames, pornography, and a culture that devalues unborn life has on people. Maybe we should consider how a progressive society that fights so hard to remove God and denounce Christianity can backfire, producing people who see no value in anything or anyone at all beyond their own self interests.

Commenting on the Charleston massacre, Obama said “there is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek peace,” referring to the church where the murders occurred. True, but it’s an awkward proclamation from a president who has exhibited outright hostility toward Christians since taking office.

From forcing Christian taxpayers to fund the major abortion mill, Planned Parenthood (which, by the way, was founded specifically to “weed out” the black race), to making Christians pay for abortifacients through Obamacare; from supporting the crackdown on prayer and religious services in our military, to comparing Christians to ISIS terrorists, Obama can hardly claim a loving affinity with Christianity in America. As for the true Christianity exemplified by the Charleston victims’ loved ones, I’m not sure the president knows what to do with that, but perhaps it will change some hearts of those currently riding the “Christians-are-hateful” bandwagon.

What’s particularly surprising about this case is how seemingly willing our president and others are to ignore the obvious in favor of fanning the flames of racism. Murdering nine Christians at Bible study was the mark of a psychotically disturbed loner. But the ridiculous solution being put forth is to remove public displays of the Confederate flag, as though symbols incite people to commit mass homicide.

Rather, maybe we should consider the fact that the gunman was on the prescription drug Suboxone, reported by its users to cause extreme agitation and outbursts. In fact, the perpetrators of several heinous mass shootings in recent years, including Sandy Hook, Aurora, CO, Virginia tech and Columbine, were all on some form of psychotropic drug. This is completely ignored, however. Instead our president and presidential hopeful, Hillary, prefer to exploit crime to divide people and justify bigger government.

It’s gratifying though to see that the good people of South Carolina are not falling for it. Church bells across Charleston tolled in unity this past week for the victims, while strangers, black and white, joined hands in prayer and mourning. And unlike the rioters of Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD, thousands from all races gathered on Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in a peaceful expression of solidarity in response to the murderous rampage of a self-proclaimed racist. Whether everyone standing on that bridge was actually Christian or not, they exhibited the true Christian traits of peace, forgiveness and love.

None of this means criminal perpetrators should be let off the hook of course. But it does mean evil must be recognized for what it is and not used for political gain or to incite disharmony and distrust among Americans. In fact, imagine if our current leadership were to follow the loving example set forth by Christians who forgave a murderer, despite their agonizing pain. If we truly want healing and unity in America, it seems love, not inflammatory rhetoric, would be a good place to start.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Same-sex "marriage", the Constitution & religious freedom

By overturning millions and millions of Americans' votes to uphold marriage as the union between one woman and one man, “The Court’s decision (on same-sex marriage) fundamentally rewrites the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution to radically redefine the cornerstone institution of marriage, which is older than the Court itself,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

The decision also drew sharp criticism from the Court’s four dissenting justices. Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, rightly observed that the activist majority opinion hijacks the democratic process and is not based on the rule of law: “[D]o not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” wrote Roberts.

Justice Scalia similarly called the ruling a “threat to American democracy.” The “pretentious” and “egotistic” decision, he railed, “robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

In one aspect, the majority opinion emphasized that this newfangled “right” to “gay marriage” should not be construed to trump religious liberty.

“Finally," the Court wrote, "it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

We’ll have to see what this actually means in coming years, but when filtered through any honest reading of the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause, what it means is that Christians cannot be forced to violate their conscience through compulsory participation in, or recognition of, counterfeit “gay weddings” or “marriages.” Ever.

Of course there’s nothing honest about the five liberals on this court, though, and Chief Justice Roberts makes that point in his dissent. He expresses skepticism as to the majority’s sincerity: “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage,” he writes. “The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise‘ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage,” he continues. “[W]hen, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court.” Little doubt indeed.

As many of us have long warned, all the “gay marriage” talk was never about “marriage equality.” It was, and remains, a spiritual battle camouflaged in the formal attire of judicial and public policy wrangling. It was always about forcing Christ’s faithful followers, under penalty of law, to abandon biblical truth and embrace sexual sin. The goal of “LGBT” activists and secular progressives has long been to pit the government directly against the free exercise of religion – Christianity in particular – and to silence all dissent.

One thing that stands out about this entire issue of the redefining of marriage, is that the same-sex marriage proponents refused to even debate the meaning of marriage. The entire issue was packaged solely as a want demanded to be met. It was based largely on sentiment and anyone who disagreed was - and is -- simply dismissed as a hater, a homophobe, a bigot -- words designed solely to marginalize and silence dissenters. But had we had that debate, we could have covered very logical issues, such as the fact that the Supreme Court ruling now opens the door for all sorts of things that we as a society really ought to have considered for the long term.

For example, key to the marriage argument is that 
marriage is the only institution in existence that guarantees the rights of children to to be united with their mother and father. Period.  For the 4000 years marriage has existed as a social and legal institution (beginning with Hammurabi) marriage has been understood as the institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and any children born from their union.  No other social structure does that. Marriage has been supported by government precisely because of its fundamental role in creating a positive environment for children and the positive impact that has on society in general.

What should also be considered is how gay-marriage proponents themselves define marriage. After all, President Obama said of the Supreme Court ruling, “love is love.” If gender no longer matters for marriage, and love is all that matters, then who is to say numbers matter? On what grounds can anyone truly resist issuing marriage licenses to three men or four women, or family members? Really, who can argue against love if that is the only basis for marriage? What boundaries do same-sex marriage proponents put on marriage? Any at all? And if so, on what grounds? The Supreme Court has thrown boundaries out the window.

The bottom line is that love is genderless, but marriage is not. An institution that has been around since before government even existed has been nullified by five people. Think about that. Think of the power the Supreme Court exerts when it makes decisions based on politics and popular opinion rather than law and logic. 

And not surprisingly, homosexual activists are not content with the redefining of marriage that has been around for millennia. Immediately following the Supreme Court's decision, activists announced they would now target religious institutions. In other words, overhauling the true meaning of marriage is not enough. Activists are not content to just live their lives and let religious believers live theirs. Instead, homosexual activists want to force believers to give up their deeply held beliefs rooted in God by being active participants in their actions. But to all believers, stand strong. God still rules supreme. This decision will not undo the Church (though it could very well undo the nation).

As for those who believe the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, and therefore conclude that same-sex "marriage" must be good, remember one thing: The Supreme Court also ruled that slavery was okay. Should we have believed them then as well? 

Homosexual persons do not deserve to be treated with scorn, disrespect, or bigotry.  They are persons deserving of our love and respect just like anyone else.  But extending love and respect to our homosexual brothers and sisters does not extend to redefining marriage so that it becomes socially and practically meaningless.

This is not a day to celebrate. What the five Supreme Court justices did is institutionalize and validate discrimination against people of faith while severely undermining, if not outright tossing out, our Constitution. It also seriously undermined an institution that existed primarily for the benefit of children and turned it into something that is only about adults. 

This issue is much, much more complicated than the simple treatment it's getting in the media. It's not a day to celebrate, but one to pray very deeply about. Pray for those in bondage to homosexuality who are being deceived, pray for our religious freedom, and pray that God will restore our country to genuine law, truth and common sense.

More below from other sources.......

from American Family Association:

Without question, the Supreme Court’s decision to impose homosexual marriage as a constitutional right is disappointing. There was a time when the Court rightly bestowed a great respect for America’s Christian heritage and to the Creator on which the Declaration of Independence was based. Sadly, those times are passed.

As Christians, we know God, in His great wisdom, established the institution of marriage as only between one man and one woman. Not even the Supreme Court can change that.

Because of judicial activism, Christian ministries can and should take steps to protect their religious freedoms. No longer can even churches believe they are immune to the compulsive and aggressive nature of the homosexual agenda.

American Family Association strongly urges churches and other Christian ministries to consider three recommendations immediately:
·         Adopt a clear statement of faith regarding human sexuality and marriage.
·         Clarify that weddings in your church are Christian worship services.
·         Adopt a policy that clearly restricts the use of ministry facilities to the ministry’s religious purposes.
AFA makes several resources available to aid church pastors, leadership and ministry in protecting itself against the coming storm of homosexual activism.
1.       American Family Studios has produced a short documentary that provides legal analysis of the dangers posed to religious liberty by the ruling. Watch it here.
2.       Read and print this article written by AFA General Counsel Pat Vaughn. It will help your church understand the dangers of doing nothing. Gay marriage ... your church
3.       Alliance Defending Freedom has produced a handbook that will walk your church through every step of adopting strong marriage policies, including sample resolutions and statements. A Legal Guide for Churches, Christian Schools, and Christian Ministries
As Christians, we can and must guard our religious freedoms while showing Christ’s mercy to people in bondage to homosexuality. Avoiding problems in the future depends on what we do today.
Please use the resources provided to insure your church or ministry is ready for the certain dangers ahead. May God bless our efforts, as we stand on His word.


Conscientious dissenters weigh in on Supreme Court ruling:

Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association:
"We're not surprised but extremely disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision. I fear for our country, quite frankly, because this is a spiritual 9/11, I believe. We have said to God Almighty, We don't care what you say about marriage and your definition of what's natural and normal.

"If you look in the scripture, often times when God's people rebelled against Him, He turned them over to destruction. Christians need to pray for mercy and we need to pray for a revival in the land.

"I think the next line of defense is religious freedom. We must take a stand for religious freedom in this country and fight back in the courts and in the state legislatures, if not the federal legislature, to uphold religious freedom."

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin:
"I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges 'has been with us for millennia.'

"In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas.

"As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage."

Brian Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage:
Well, obviously it's a profound disappointment. This is an illegitimate decision – a decision that the Supreme Court never should have made, never had the right to make. And now we have to move forward and fight on. "This does not end. People of faith need to stand up for the truth and absolutely reject this decision and work to elect individuals who will overturn it through a constitutional amendment and will not except this as a legitimate decision."

Ken Blackwell, senior fellow with Family Research Council:
"Just as we did not accept the court's decision [in Roe v. Wade] in 1973 where they in fact [decided] it was now a woman's right to take the life of an innocent child, we in fact stayed together, we fought the fight every place that we could fight it – and we now have won the day culturally and we have won the day legislatively, and we will do that on marriage. This is an illegitimate decision by the Supreme Court."

Russell Moore, president of SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
"I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling handed down by the Court today, believing, along with millions of others, that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman and that it is improper for the Court to redefine an institution it did not invent in the first place.

"I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion."

Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com:
"The Supreme Court got this wrong because a narrow majority of justices do not fear God and have rebelled against their promises to 'support and defend' the clearly written words of the U.S. Constitution, which does not contain the word 'marriage' but explicitly honors states' rights.

"The Fourteenth Amendment is not about marriage but about race; not about couples but individuals -- essential distinctions one must recognize in order to be loyal to the Constitution."

Chief John Roberts:
 “Today's decision ... creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is – unlike the right imagined by the majority – actually spelled out in the Constitution. From dissent written by Chief Justice John Roberts

And even a SC Justice who voted yes on the ruling dissents in his own way:
"Finally it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned."

The First Amendment ensures protection for religious organizations and individuals as they seek to teach the principles "that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths" and to "their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered." From majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy


Thursday, June 25, 2015

US Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare no victory for working families, or any of us

So the U.S. Supreme Court justices have voted to uphold the government takeover of what was once the greatest healthcare system in the world (there's a reason why people come from all over to get treated in America). 

The first disturbing thing about this ruling is that the Supreme Court basically nullified the Senate and the House today by assuming the role of making laws. This is a dictatorship, not a federal republic.

Next, the ones receiving the subsidies that the Court just voted to uphold are thrilled that they get to keep their "health coverage". Yes, they get to have health insurance. Scratch that. They are forced to have health insurance just like the rest of. The only difference is their premiums - and largely their deductibles - are paid for by us taxpayers. 

But what about working families who struggle economically but don't qualify for subsidies? They will find their "health insurance" pays for nothing - at least not until they meet thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket deductibles each year before "health insurance" kicks in. Under Obamacare, my yearly deductible went from $1,200 a year to $6,000 a year, while my monthly premium has not gone down as promised by Obama.

Meanwhile doctors are shutting down their practices because they cannot keep up with the costs or the regulations. When demand outstrips supply, consumers are always the one to get hit in the wallet with higher prices, and in this case with fewer services and reduced quality as well, regardless of whether you have subsidized health coverage or not.

Tell me, how does any of this help working families? How does it help any of us? But hey, at least we all have health insurance, right?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Planned Parenthood not really interested in women's healthcare

According to an Americans United for Life (AUL) report, “The New Leviathan: How Planned Parenthood Has Become Abortion, Inc,” the abortion giant’s new mega centers across the country have cropped up in nearly 20 cities since 2004.

While Planned Parenthood likes to brag that it is focused on women's healthcare, the report also found that the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has increased by more than 70,000 annually - but that non-abortion services declined by more than 50 percent.

"Unlike the national trend observed by the Associated Press last week, the Centers for Disease Control, and everywhere else that abortions are on the decline, at Planned Parenthood abortion sales are up – meanwhile its overall patients and other services are down. This is as a result of a move to create abortion mega-centers to mass-produce abortions at an even deadlier rate,” AUL President Charmaine Yoest said.

And guess who's paying for a big chunk of Planned Parenthood's abortion practices? We are.  According to Planned Parenthood’s latest report, 41 percent of its $1.3 billion in revenue came from U.S. taxpayers.

When he first took office in 2009, President Obama vowed he would be a major supporter of Planned Parenthood and we have the $1.3 billion price tag to prove it. To Obama, it didn't matter when a video emerged in 2011 catching a Planned Parenthood worker advising an undercover "pimp" on how to procure abortions for his 14-year-old "sex slaves." 

She went on to coach him on how the girls could continue providing "sex services" while they healed from their abortions - practices that are outlined on Planned Parenthood's youth website, teenwire.com. Since that first video, undercover videos have surfaced showing five different Planned Parenthood centers helping supposed sex traffickers obtain abortions for underage girls without parental notification.

Since Planned Parenthood adamantly opposes parental notification laws, it's no wonder its workers would allow a child to undergo any surgical procedure without her parents' knowledge. But turning a blind eye to the alleged human trafficking of children should itself be enough to prosecute and flat-out shut down Planned Parenthood for good. Instead, we're being forced to continue paying for it.

Despite these practices, Planned Parenthood still draws accolades in some circles, maybe because many aren't aware of its origin, which is anything but praiseworthy. While Obama consistently decries racism in America, he apparently has no issue with the blatant racism Planned Parenthood was founded upon in 1916 by Margaret Sanger, a woman who praised the Ku Klux Klan and Hitler's "eugenics" approach to exterminating "inferior" races. In 1939 Sanger even started the Negro Project with the goal of reducing the black population, and admitted she created 
Planned Parenthood to achieve "racial purification."

Today a chillingly disproportionate number of 
Planned Parenthood clinics reside in poor inner city areas where black populations are the highest, and studies by both the Center for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute reveal that nearly half of all pregnancies among black women end in abortion, a much higher percentage than the rest of the population. 

Over the past few years, several sting operations have documented Planned Parenthood clinic workers agreeing to financial donations that would specifically fund the abortion of black babies. It's an outrage that should sicken one's stomach, yet Planned Parenthood still portrays itself as a "champion of women," and, inexplicably, Sanger herself is celebrated in exhibits at the Smithsonian and by modern public figures like Hillary Clinton and our own president.

And we, the taxpayers, get stuck with the bill.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Will Christians tolerate the left's intolerance?

"If the coming conversation about religious freedom is left to the judicial and executive branches of our government, all Americans — whether they know it or not — will lose that debate before it even begins." 

These words from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), echo the warning from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) that we are just a breath away from having our Christian teachings labeled as "hate speech," and "dangerous."
 
Christianity has been the biggest enemy of the Left and adding to Rubio's warning, Senator Lee, speaking at Hillsdale College, expressed deep concern over America's tradition of religious diversity, tolerance, and freedom, warning they are being questioned and threatened like never before.
 
"In many ways, our tradition of religious liberty is the dog that didn't bark. Americans take for granted religious toleration and pluralism because, blessedly — we have never known anything else. We have no comparable scars or memories of the sectarian violence that has plagued mankind in almost every other time and place. That can make it hard for us to appreciate the monumental achievement our religious freedom represents... and the radical departure it was from the cultures from whence we came."

Lee later added that religious liberty in America "is not an accident of history, or a quirk of the law. It is nothing less than a culture-defining human achievement. Yet recent events suggest it could be losing ground."

I believe it's even far worse than Senator Lee suggests. Today our core values are being twisted and perverted by radicals who call Christians "Nazi-like," "bigots," "hate-mongers," "homophobes," and any other term that can further demonize and discredit us.
 
The campaign to remove our constitutionally protected rights of religious freedom and conscience from the social lexicon is fully underway.

How we respond to the Left's aggressive turn toward Christian "intolerance" will determine the future of our culture. Will we be passive, or will we fight as if our lives depend on it?

What do you think?  Click on the comments link in the bar below to share your thoughts. No registration necessary.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Happy Flag Day! How well do you know Old Glory? Take the quiz.

Answers at the bottom of the quiz...

1. From your memory, and without peeking, how many stripes on the American flag are red?
A. Six. 
B. Seven. 
C. Eight.
2. Where can you find the original Star Spangled Banner today?
A. In Donald Trump's private collection. 
B. At the Republican National Committee Headquarters. 
C. At the Smithsonian Institution.

3. When did Francis Scott Key write the lyrics that became the National Anthem?
A. July 4, 1814. 
B. The morning after the battle, September 14, 1814. 
C. The night before the battle, September 13, 1814.
4. Why is the flag so much shorter today than when it was sewn?
A. The end of the flag was burned in the Battle of Baltimore. 
B. Samples have been removed for conservation testing. 
C. The family which preserved the Star Spangled Banner, gave small pieces away as souvenirs and gifts over 
5. When did "The Star-Spangled Banner" officially become the United States's national anthem?
A. 1931. 
B. 1917. 
C. 1814.
6. How was the American flag used before the War of 1812?
A. There was no American flag before the War of 1812. 
B. As a symbol of the British Empire. 
C. To identify ships and forts.
7. True or False, the rules and codes of etiquette spelled out in the Flag Code can be legally enforced.
A. True. 
B. False.
8. When are new stars added to the flag?
A. On the Fourth of July following the admission of new states to the Union. 
B. On the First of January following the admission of new states to the Union. 
C. Upon order of Congress.
9. Who has the authority to order American flags to be flown at half-staff?
A. Congress and the Supreme Court. 
B. The president, state governors, mayor of Washington DC. 
C. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.
10. How many American flags are on the moon?
A. One. 
B. Three. 
C. Six.
Answers: 1.B  2.C  3.B  4.C  5.A  6.C  7.B  8.A  9.B  10.C
Courtesy: Associatedcontent.com and Smithsonian Museum of American History 

And...you've seen the US Flag folded in ceremonies, especially to commemorate our fallen military heroes. But do you know what the folds mean? 

The first fold stands for liberty. In America, we are free to own property, to elect our government representatives, to attend the church of our choice, to openly disagree, to travel freely without restriction, to pursue an education and the “American Dream”. The white stripes of the Flag symbolize our liberty.

The second fold represents unity. Abraham Lincoln stated that a house divided against itself cannot stand. National unity in the face of natural disasters and external threats, such as those posed on September 11, 2001, has preserved our constitutional republic.

The third fold stands for justice. In America we believe that every person stands equal before the law and is deserving of just and fair treatment. The laborer and the lawyer are both entitled to justice in America. The blue of the Flag embodies justice.

The fourth fold symbolizes perseverance. To persevere means to endure, to remain steadfast despite severe hardship and obstacles. The Continental Army suffered repeated setbacks before claiming any significant victory. Yet throughout the brutal winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, they persevered.

The fifth fold represents hardiness. Hardiness is the ability to withstand difficulty while remaining resolute despite adversity. The aggressors in World War II underestimated American hardiness. They thought that Americans were soft, incapable and unwilling to endure hardship. Our soldiers and sailors such as those who fought at Normandy and in Korea proved them wrong.

The sixth fold stands for valor. Valor means courage, the act of defending what is right even in the face of opposition. Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War patriot, was convicted of spying by the British in 1776. Before he was hanged, Hale displayed great valor with his words, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." The red color in the flag represents valor, symbolic of the blood shed by all the American heroes who sacrificed for our freedom.

The seventh fold symbolizes purity. A pure nation is free from taint, from what weakens, pollutes or renders it ineffective. Our Founding Fathers illuminated freedom's path for us when they created the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The pure intent of these documents enabled the United States of America to become the greatest of all nations, a land of liberty which beckons to all who are seeking asylum from persecution and oppression.

The eighth fold represents innocence. Innocence implies that one is unacquainted with evil and is thus free from sin. George Washington once stated, "The love of my country will be the ruling influence of my conduct." Americans pay tribute to him and to all those who give devoted service to uphold freedom's ideals without selfish or evil motivations. 

The ninth fold signifies sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give up something valued for an ideal, belief or goal. America exists today because of the sacrifices of countless Americans. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in battles waged during the Revolution, the World Wars, in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and other locations around the world. We pay tribute to them and to the firefighters, policemen, soup kitchen volunteers, members of our armed forces and numerous others who continue to sacrifice for freedom. 

The tenth fold stands for honor. One who possesses honor possesses a keen sense of ethical conduct. To honor a person or ideal is to display respect for them. We give thanks for all who have acted with honor in the founding and growth of America. We pray that each citizen and all those who represent us in government will conduct themselves in a manner that will continue to bring honor to our nation and to our Flag. 

The eleventh fold symbolizes independence. Independence is the state of being free, of being able to make unrestricted choices within the law as free individuals and as a free nation. Ever since our nation’s birth, Americans have fiercely defended their independence against all oppressors. Patrick Henry articulated the sentiments of his fellow Americans past, present and future when he uttered those famous words, "Give me liberty, or give me death." America stands as an icon of freedom and independence for the oppressed of the world. May it always remain so.

The twelfth fold represents truth. Truth is the body of real events and facts. It is preserved through adherence to reality and the avoidance of falsehoods. America was built upon God-given truths articulated in the Declaration of Independence "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Adherence to these truths has made America a great nation. We pledge to continue this noble legacy of truth so that in America, every man woman and child may forever be free.


Happy Flag Day! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Time for Christians to stand up for religion

A recent Pew Research survey showing that Americans identifying as Christians has dropped significantly since 2007 says the decline is deepest among mainline Protestants and Catholics, and other studies say church attendance in general is dropping. If true, what might be causing the decline?

For one, it’s no surprise, but progressives have been on a warpath against religion for decades, and where they’ve succeeded in removing God from the public square, political correctness and moral relativism have swooped in.

The problem with this is that Americans are being trained to be meek – and not in the Christian sense. Rather, we’re being taught that the worst thing one can do is offend a person or a particular group by expressing ideas that may be contrary to everyone else’s.

Because such contrarian thoughts are considered judgmental, bigoted and hateful, some good-hearted people who don’t want to be seen as any of these things might likely remain quiet – or worse, believe the rhetoric and eventually renounce their own beliefs.

At the same time, while Christians are repeatedly mocked in areas like television and are getting slaughtered around the world, we increasingly hear that they are somehow the offenders because they live by the moral guidelines set forth by God.

In other words, Christians are “imposing” their beliefs on non-believers simply by believing, so the accusation goes. And as more citizens are indoctrinated into thinking that God has no place in America and that morality should be defined by little more than how something makes us feel, Christians who believe otherwise are progressively perceived as hateful. No doubt, standing strong against such perceptions is not for the faint of heart and who knows how many fall by the wayside as a result.

But where are Christians getting reinforcement to stand their ground? Certainly not from our current government, which has begun to punish those who try to publicly live their beliefs. And even more disturbing, in today’s houses of worship – Catholic and Protestant -- many religious leaders have bought into the politically correct notion that distinguishing between right and wrong is somehow offensive or exclusionary. Many think religious services should be fun or at least safely bland so as not to offend and keep the crowds coming. We’re often taught how to be “nice”, but not about the importance of avoiding evil. We’re taught that, yes, God’s love is unconditional, but we rarely hear about the fact that salvation is not.

Despite the laxity in proper instruction, some still claim the “exclusionary” tone of church is a key reason for religious decline. I wonder though which churches, if any, these accusers are attending. I have visited many, many Catholic churches around America, for instance, and whether they leaned conservative or liberal, I have never once seen a sinner excluded. If sinners weren’t welcome, in fact, every church would be empty. The truth is, though, there are few places where I hear about sin and its peril to the soul at all.

That could partially explain the decline in Christian identification and church attendance. It’s not because churches are exclusionary, but because many are indiscernible from any other part of today’s society. Why should anyone, especially if not strong in his faith to begin with, sit through a religious service when, in his mind, he can get the same thing at the local bar or neighborhood barbecue?

Regrettably, many religious leaders today are so concerned about offending sinners that they turn a blind eye to the sin itself. Rarely do we hear about the sins of abortion, sodomy, contraception or other practices that have been packaged as "choice" by a society eager to sanitize evil. But it’s the sin, not the sinner, that’s hated, and despite the narrative that’s been set, it’s not hateful to encourage people to turn from their sin. It’s actually the loving thing to do, and fundamental to the clergyman’s duty. But as long as people aren’t being taught about sin and how it endangers salvation, what use is church in their view other than it being just another innocuous community event?

Perhaps if more churches did offer something clearly different from what the world offers, they’d see a rise in attendance. As the Pew study notes, the greatest decline is among mainline denominations which are often politically liberal – e.g., similar to the secular world. But interestingly, Pew found one area not experiencing a decline is the conservative evangelical church.

While not itself an evangelical church, the Catholic parish I belong to could be considered “conservative”. It not only acknowledges the blessings God has showered on our country, but it clearly differentiates between worldly emptiness and the fulfillment, freedom and salvation that can only come through obeying God. It does this without judgment or fire-and-brimstone fear tactics, but rather through an uncompromising and reverent presentation of God’s truth – and people flock to this parish and others like it in droves. Maybe that’s what people are hungering for: Enlightenment over entertainment; absolutes over anything goes.

Concerned Christians wishing to stem the exodus should encourage their religious leaders to shun political correctness in favor of objective moral truths. It’s the PC, morally relativistic churches that fail to offer anything meaningful, while they see their poorly instructed people lured away by a non-religious world. In contrast, the more steadily attended “conservative” churches seem to be offering the concrete answers rooted in God that people truly need.

Ultimately, every Christian should boldly stand for the faith in the public square and fight the cultural drive to silence moral teachings lest our country be stripped of such teachings altogether. As Christians, there is a time to be meek, and now is not that time.