Do we really want big government?

Ideas are powerful. A set of ideas is what we call an ideology. An ideology forms a basis for an economic, social or political theory. The current political environment of our country is in an ideological gridlock that will define our future. It appears that an ideology of big government is growing, and our president favors it.

But if we continue to follow this ideology, we can be certain that our children and grandchildren will suffer greatly from our reckless refusal to change. 

Gratefully, a number of primarily younger political leaders get this fact. These leaders have come to office with an ideology opposed to politics as usual. Among other things, they see where our addiction to debt and big government is leading us and they’re resolved to fight it. I don’t expect them to be popular, but they’re very likely the kinds of leaders we need.

They’re also up against great odds. Can they convince Americans to break from their dependence on big government? Will we have the discernment to see through the rhetoric of leaders who champion big government? Do we have the resolve to make the sacrifices necessary to turn things around?

Most responsible Americans don’t trust the ability of our government to handle anything in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Of course, many still fall for the smooth talk of political leaders who promote their programs under the guise of looking out for the less fortunate or the uninsured. 

Most Americans accept the need for assistance programs for truly needy people. But it doesn’t take much to see how carelessly and even recklessly many of these programs operate. Let’s reject any political candidate who promotes programs that create more government dependency. 

When a Politician tells you he’s looking out for the less fortunate, check his personal charitable giving record before believing a word he says.

Political leaders who talk most of being champions for the poor are typically the least charitable with their own money. Many of those who talk the most about compassion are only willing to look out for the needy with YOUR money.

If you surveyed Americans, a majority wrongly believes that the Democrats are the most compassionate toward the needy. Yet the charitable records of the most vocal Democrats do not confirm their supposed compassion. Worse yet, their brand of charity is mostly about using YOUR money and creating greater government dependence rather than teaching responsibility. This is NOT a partisan observation but an easily verifiable fact.

Can we at least agree that we don’t need any more political leaders who use our money to make themselves appear compassionate — only to create greater levels of government dependence?

It might sound noble, for example, to say that we’re providing health care for ALL, but without fundamental ideological changes, Obamacare will only prove to be another top-heavy, inefficient program used to create more dependence on government. It will become another burden (perhaps the largest ever) on the shoulders of Americans, and will bury us more deeply into debt. 

I am pleading with you to put aside party loyalty and recognize this truth. It doesn’t take special powers of observation to see it. We will not turn things around unless we can get enough people to move beyond partisanship to see through the sham and shame of big government ideology. 

Of course, because of the monster we’ve created, change can’t happen overnight. A system of dependence can’t become one of personal responsibility without a painful weaning process. And the process must begin with Washington itself. 

I doubt many Americans believe that we need to increase the number of government workers in this nation. We need to downsize government, but it’s going to take time, and it’s going to hurt before it helps. Yet it must be done if we hope to save this nation from ruin. We’ve already buried at least the next generation under reckless debt. 

Change won’t happen, of course, if we keep falling for the smooth talk of deceitful political charlatans who use our money to appear compassionate and to create more unnecessary dependence on government, 

We need to get rid of political leaders who promote themselves and their big government programs at the risk of our children and grandchildren. 

Steven W. Cornell is senior pastor at Millersville Bible Church and a former correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers Inc. 

The President’s Speech

The President’s speech today was an unbelievable display of partisan posturing based on significant misrepresentations of why the government shut down.

It’s frankly a little scary to think that our leaders so boldly take us for fools.

What the President did was not an example of good leadership but of brazen and unmitigated personal and party promotion. And the manipulative use of health care for such bitter partisanship is despicable. I realize this happens all the time in politics, but this President has taken it to new levels. Please do not allow the smooth talk to deceive you.

Rather than delay the individual mandate, Obama and the Democrats chose to shut down government. Now millions will face penalties due to Obamacare. The so-called Affordable Care Act has been the source of widespread reduction to the work week from 40 hours to part time hours. ObamaCare has also been the most partisan legislation passed in this century.

I want honest efforts from our leaders to work together. The President and Democrats have resolutely and arrogantly refused to work in any way with the other side that would require the slightest concession.

The President publicly gives the impression that the only reason he won’t cooperate is because he must protect the poor people who don’t have health care from the angry Republicans who want to deny them care. What a deceptive distortion! Does he really believe that Americans are dumb enough to fall for such distortions? 

And today by slight of speech, the President actually blamed all the “crises” on a “small segment of Republicans.” He threw that in to move the heat off of himself for the crises that occurred under his watch. The level of deception is unbelievable.

An unbiased look at the President’s speech today will reveal that it was filled with calculated distortions of the facts for political advantage. I hope most Americans will refuse to be swayed by the smooth talk and lies. President Obama’s message has consistently been “do it my way or you’ll be hating on Americans and I will take every opportunity to make them see it this way.” But this “My way or the highway” attitude must stop. 

Where is the leadership we so badly need?

Steve Cornell

Is there a better way to resolve the gay marriage debate?

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Gay rights advocates have used civil rights language to defend their desire for same-sex marriage for the past several decades. Slowly (by constant repetition of the argument) a growing percentage of society has bought into the comparison between the kind of sex people desire and unchangeable realities like race and gender.

Beyond the logical problems with this comparison, the strategy has actually turned gay rights into a divisive and polarizing debate that is threatening the very acceptance desired by homosexuals.

Why can’t we find a better way to resolve this matter without portraying those who disagree as hateful bigots who discriminate against a minority? I realize that the assumption that gay is equal with race and gender is essential to the radical homosexual agenda, but I think it’s bad for the nation to buy into this agenda. 

A few words of clarification

First, I realize that sexual desire is one of the most powerful passions of human beings. We would cease to exist without sexual desire. Yet both heterosexual and homosexual desires have been behind some of the most horrific crimes against humanity. Because we are corrupt beings, our sexuality, like every other part of our existence, requires laws to restrain it, and to punish abuses of our passions.

There is not a person on the earth who can claim innocence with regard to sexuality. Jesus exposed this truth to hypocritical religious leaders when he said, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Secondly, Whether one claims heterosexual or homosexual orientation, the desires and actions associated with orientation must be treated as willful choices capable of restraint. Otherwise one cannot speak of sexual actions (like adultery, rape or incest) as culpable moral behaviors.

While we cannot tell a person of race to restrain or stop being Asian or African-American, we must require people of both heterosexual and homosexual orientation to restrain and control their sexual behavior — under threat of punishment for wrongful expressions of it. If a society makes laws regarding sexual actions, sexuality (whatever orientation one claims) must be treated as chosen behavior.

Finally, My final clarification is to firmly reject unlawful and evil treatment of those who identify themselves as oriented toward homosexual behavior. We have sadly witnessed far too much cruelty toward people based on differences. This is where there are some legitimate comparisons between the way homosexuals and people of certain races have been wrongly treated.

But why can’t these matters be addressed without making an area of behavior comparable with one’s unchangeable nature?

Overreaching on gay rights

When gay rights advocates attached their cause to civil rights language, they went too far with the comparisons and invited disagreement from those who simply observed the illogical inconsistencies. But when advocates went to the level of coercion and manipulation by demonizing anyone who disagrees, they’ve engaged in the very intolerance that has been wrongly aimed at them.

Supreme court confusion

Despite their gifted intellects, it appears that five Supreme Court justices carelessly accept the emotionally charged and counter productive false comparisons. The court stopped short of making gay marriage a constitutional right and chose to leave in place state laws banning same-sex marriage, the recent 5-4 decision used inflammatory civil rights language to pave the way to a constitutional civil right for gay marriage. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy slandered those who disagree by implying that they “disparage and injure” the “personhood and dignity” of gays and stand in “violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

On this way of reasoning, evidently one is not capable of treating homosexual couples with respect if he chooses to view marriage as an institution divinely intended for heterosexual unions.

  • Do we really want a society where people are not free to believe this way about marriage without facing accusations of being hateful, discriminating bigots?
  • Will coercion on gay marriage support tolerance and respect for those who choose a homosexual relationship?
  • Can we find a more rational and less divisive way to secure legally shared benefits and experiences for homosexual couples?

Stop and think about the unnecessary and polarizing ways radical homosexual activists are using to force society to conform to their lifestyles. Consider how it produces some of the very behaviors once opposed by gays and actually creates new victims of discrimination.

In his dissent, Justice Scalia wrote, “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition,”

Presidential deception

It appears that President Obama also bought into the false and inflammatory comparison. He called DOMA “discrimination enshrined in law.” Of the court’s decision, Obama said, “when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” Implication? Anyone who sees things differently on gay marriage is guilty of discrimination. This is a manipulative and divisive way to frame a needed conversation.

Conclusion

Wouldn’t it be better to avoid the civil rights language and look for ways for the state to offer more equitable treatment? Is it possible to find a way to address core concerns without polarizing the public and denigrating those who have different views. Does it really help to characterize those who do not support gay marriage on religious or moral grounds as people of hatred, bigotry and irrational phobias?

Although I do not believe in gay marriage, I am neither hateful nor fearful of those who choose a gay lifestyle. In opposing a change to marriage to include homosexual unions, I have no intention or motivation to portray homosexuals as evil people or to support wrongful treatment of them. In my worldview, we are all sinners in desperate need of the grace of God. We are clearly going in the wrong direction with this debate by seeking freedoms for one group by denying freedoms for another.

The path currently sought by radical homosexual activists is to force all of society to see things their way or face severe legal consequences. They are already attacking the religious and moral freedoms of Americans with this agenda and we are only seeing the beginning. Anyone who tells you that this approach will never threaten religious liberty is lying to you. If this becomes a matter of civil rights with the full force of federal law behind it, churches throughout this nation will be attacked with the strong-arm of law if they fail to offer full endorsement of gay marriage.

The Supreme Court carelessly and recklessly sent an implied mandate to lawmakers to conform to gay marriage or be numbered among the hateful bigots. I hope that lawmakers will not cave to the manipulation and false comparisons, but will expose the agenda as a means to silence and coerce Americans against their moral and religious convictions.

I think we can find a better way to have this discussion so that States can offer equitable treatment without sharply dividing people against one another and threatening the freedoms of fellow citizens.

Steve Cornell

When the facts expose the agenda

How do you respond when facts emerge to expose the deception behind agenda-driven news?

Please don’t retreat into frustration that leads to inaction and non-participation. I realize that sometimes it’s hard to tell who is being honest. It’s appealing to take a knee-jerk reaction that says, “Politicians are all a bunch of crooks that are going to do what they want no matter what we do.”

Inaction by citizens is a sure path to the loss of freedom. 

We simply must persevere in finding the truth behind the agendas and making our voices heard if we hope to protect the freedom we have enjoyed for our children and grandchildren.

I am not suggesting that any of this be done with anger or arrogance but with a simple demand for the truth and a refusal to allow deceptive agendas to hijack our freedoms.

Consider two of the most prominent examples and please take the time to be fully informed. Follow the articles linked below and think carefully through the facts. 

Exhibit A - Gun related crime.

A new from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows gun killings dropped 39% between 1993 and 2011. Non-fatal gun crimes dropped by 69%. During the same time, gun ownership has increased significantly.

Despite this fact, one survey revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans think that gun violence has either remained the same or increased (56 %) (see: Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware).

Why? The answer is as simple as it is disturbing. A certain group wants you to think their way on the issues and they dominate as much media as possible to conceal truth and twist facts.

They disguise as journalists and news anchors. But these “reporters” don’t care much about the facts unless they align with the agenda they want for America. Journalism has increasingly become a business of selling deeply biased versions of “news.”

There are few journalist who are brave enough to question the deceptive tactics used to push the radical social agenda of the extreme parts of the liberal side of politics.  Networks like ABC, CBS and NBC are particularly guilty of journalistic cowardice. 

But Americans are without excuse. We have access to all the information we need via the Internet. We don’t have to be duped! We don’t have to become the fools of the talking heads of network news. 

Exhibit BThe very same truth applies to the gay marriage debate.

We’ve been sold misleading impressions that well over half of the country favors gay marriage. This is a distortion of fact for propaganda. While a growing number care less about gay marriage, that’s different from favoring it. The majority of Americans by a large margin do not favor gay marriage.

Further the whole issue is driven for 2-3 percent (at the very most) of Americans. Listening to the dominant focus on the subject in the news has wrongly lead many to believe that there are far more people choosing a gay lifestyle. So the matter shifts to discrimination of a minority and false comparisons of race with sexual choices. One distortion of truth after another has been used to deceive an unsuspecting and gullible public (see: The strategy for gay marriage is working (7 point plan).

Perhaps you say, “Who cares if they want marriage!” “It not going to affect me.” Again, you’re being duped. Marriage is only a beginning. If it was all they wanted, perhaps we could have a reasonable discussion about it. But they want recognition as a minority under federal civil rights laws equivalent to racial status. If this happens, everyone in every situation (business, church, etc…) will be required to offer full endorsement no matter their moral or religious beliefs.

Don’t let anyone fool you about this. 

Exhibit A and B

The big push for background and mental health checks related to guns could easily have a hidden agenda. Follow the logic closely. If you oppose a homosexual lifestyle, you’re immediately accused of hate and bigotry today. What if the mental health check included questions to find out if you’re a “bigot” or a “hater”? Won’t happen? Don’t be so sure.

For the sake of our children and grandchildren, get the facts and watch out for deceptive agendas. Be a voice. Vote. Do it all with grace and humility based in love for the truth. 

See also:

Steve Cornell

Naming terrorists and their motives

In the wake of the Boston bombings, many conservatives have been upset by an apparent unwillingness on the part of the White House to specifically name acts of terror and their sources.

Two prominent voices, Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer, expressed dismay and anger over why the President refuses to call out radical Islam as the dominant source of terrorism in the world. Krauthammer (whom I normally respect on most subjects) called the President’s avoidance “weird” and “embarrassing.”

O’Reilly identified the Boston bombers as Muslim jihadists and said that the president was seriously wrong about cautioning people not to name them as part of this group.

Since the bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told investigators that he and his brother were motivated by religion, what could possibly excuse the President’s unwillingness to name and renounce radical Islam as the primary source of terror?  

While I don’t claim to know the motivations behind the decision not to name radical Islam, (and I don’t accept conspiracy theories about the President actually being Muslim), I still consider it best that he does not mention radical Islam.

I don’t believe that the President of the United States should dignify radical fringe groups by naming them. The kind of people in such groups would take twisted pleasure and perhaps draw more to their numbers by gaining White House attention. High-level attention would sadistically inspire these kinds of people and possibly fuel their efforts to recruit others to do evil. Refusing to mention them could actually help to cut off some of their polluted oxygen.

When those in power downplay the significance of hardened antagonists, the criminals sometimes become careless in their efforts to gain attention. These kinds of people typically thrive on attention and will go to bizarre measures to gain it.  

I am suggesting that we should not hastily assume that refusal to name a group means that the president does not take the threat of domestic terrorism from radical Islamists seriously. If, on the other hand, the President gives us clear reasons for doubting that he takes seriously this source of terror, he must be held accountable.  

But when a radical few claim association with a much larger group that does not endorse their behavior, a leader as powerful as the President must be cautious not to incite indiscriminate guilt on the whole group. I can’t imagine that it has been an easy time for peaceful Arab Americans when they fear that others look at them with suspicion because of their skin or religious affiliation.

This kind of wrongful guilt by association is similar to those who accuse everyone who does not support gay marriage as being an extension of the radical and hateful group from Westboro Baptist Church. This is sheer manipulation that is unworthy of honorable people.

There is a group that I think should be more explicit about radical Islamic militants. I wish that Muslim leaders throughout the world (and particularly in the US) would come out in large numbers to renounce the atrocities of those who commit violence in the name of Islamic faith.

It would help greatly if these leaders unequivocally distanced themselves from the radical fringe. Although it’s clearly wrong for people to engage in guilt by association, silence from religious leaders in Islam is not helpful and could possibly deepen public suspicions about the true agenda of Islam.

In providing good reasons for the White House not to mention Islam in association with terrorists, I don’t pretend to know the actual reasons. I hope for the best. I also hope that the current administration is not working off a naïve assumption that it’s possible to placate terrorists by being nice to them.

And it would be especially naïve to think that we’ve caused terrorists to become who they are (or share some of the blame for their actions) by our involvement in Middle East conflicts. I hope that this kind of misguided abrogation of leadership has nothing to do with the current disposition toward terrorism. The President would be wise to firmly distance himself from these naïve and dangerous notions.

Steve Cornell

Bill O’Reilly and the Bible

 

I heard Bill O’Reilly’s arguments last night about gay marriage and was frankly impressed — especially with his point about why marriage should only change for gay marriage.  This is another way to express concern about what people see as the slippery slope for any and every kind of marriage. O’Reilly’s point seemed more concerned to suggest that the federal government should stay out of the marriage debate. 

But O’Reilly kicked up a bit of storm when he cautioned against using the Bible to build a case against gay marriage. People misunderstood O’Reilly’s point. In so many words, he simply suggested that discussions of the common good in the public square cannot be built on exclusively religious viewpoints. O’Reilly is right! 

A few people were (IMHO) wrongly offended by Bill’s comments. But I don’t believe for a minute that he intended on attacking or bashing the Bible. This wasn’t his point. I am not even bothered by his use of the word “thumping” because some people do that with the Bible.

Bill’s point (pure, simple and emphatic) is that in a pluralistic nation you cannot use the teaching of one religion to insist on public policy. This really shouldn’t be too confusing and it shouldn’t even be controversial.

This morning I received a link to an article on reformation 21 by Rick Phillips titled, Bill O’Reilly, Gay Marriage and the Bible. Phillips insisted on the opposite of what O’Reilly suggested. He wrote, “apart from God and his Word, the only moral consensus possible to man is an evil pagan idolatry.  It is precisely because the Bible has been excluded from public discourse that our nation is so aggressively pursuing a debauchery…”

While I certainly appreciated Phillips desire to honor and defend the Bible, I think he’s advancing a misguided and, more importantly, unnecessary viewpoint.

O’Reilly would likely take a pragmatic view on his opinion and just say, “Alright, you can try to advance a ‘more militantly biblical’ approach but it’s doomed to failure out of the gate!” And O’Reilly would be right (pragmatically) when it comes to pursuing a consensus on the good that forms the public policies.

In the case of the marriage debate, however, we have the opportunity to argue for a biblical view of marriage by simply arguing for the historic view of marriage in our nation (at least on the one man and one woman viewpoint).

It’s crucial to recognize that there are many ways to stand for God’s truth without saying, “The Bible says….” This is partly why Phillips concerns (at least as I understand him) fall short. I am also not favorable to framing the concerns as a “culture war.” 

Phillips appears to work off a false dilemma – either explicitly use the Bible to argue or exclude the Bible from public discourse. This is precisely where we need to exercise more wisdom as followers of Christ in cities of exile.

We are called by God to be agents of common grace who are deeply committed to the welfare of the city. And such callings and concerns have profound theological foundations on at least three levels of shared life between redeemed and unredeemed alike.

  1. Common origin: God’s ownership and image as a universal reality.
  2. Common Concerns: stewardship of the earth as our shared dwelling place 
  3. Common Connections: Universally accessible truth about God, moral order and transcendence.

Concerns for human flourishing and (in this case) the good of marriage as a divine gift are built on truth about the Imago Dei. But the Imago Dei is also part of a theological case for believing that, “God has lawfully ordered his creation in a way that all human beings have some sort of cognitive access to that lawfulness.” (Richard Mouw).

Romans 2:15-16 validate this cognitive access — even among those who don’t have access to Scripture.

 This is the realm of common grace and presupposes an ability to have rational conversations about the common good. 

Obviously in some political structures believers must accept limitations because they are not permitted to influence laws and policies. But as long as we live in a system (unlike any during biblical times) that allows us to sit at the table to pursue understandings of the good behind laws and policies, we must wisely participate and we don’t need to put forth our case by always saying, “In the Bible….”

If our worldview and ethics are deeply shaped by Biblical truth, we can find ways to articulate that truth without insisting that America becomes a Christian nation. We must not fall for an either/or dilemma on this matter.

Yet I wholeheartedly agree with Phillips concern that the pulpits of our nation loudly proclaim “the truth and grace of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Steve Cornell

See also: Responsible Citizenship

Dispel the myth about the First Amendment

 

Our Sunday News recently asked me to be a voice to balance the weekly columns of the assistant editor. He generates the most reader response for the paper but writes from more of a left-side, liberal perspective (labels I am a little uncomfortable with).

I’ve written a monthly faith-focused column for many years and recently learned that I generate the second most letters to the editor.

After an increasing number of readers expressed a desire for a more conservative voice to balance the offerings of the assistant editor, the paper contacted me and asked if I would be willing to write twice a month and address political subjects. But they told me that I should feel free to include the faith perspective wherever I wished. Politics and religion?

After accepting the invitation, they moved my columns to the front of the perspective section under the title, “The Right Side” (a title I am not completely comfortable with). Yet my new assignment is not as easy as it might sound. 

The first quite obvious challenge is the fact that religion and politics are two of the most publicly controversial subjects one could address.  Secondly, I am a local pastor and I don’t want people to think that they must hold my political positions to be part of our Church.

Thirdly, although the First Amendment was primarily about protecting religion from government control (i. e. to keep government out of religion), I don’t see it as my responsibility to conform government to my faith.

Over the years, I’ve consistently tried to addressed political issues without using Bible verses as my basis. This is not to say that my faith does not (or should not) inform my worldview and my moral opinions. But I don’t always need explicit references to faith when defending my views.

On a more positive side, my new role could help dispel the widespread myth about the first amendment being written to separate Church and State.

Although the amendment forbids congress from imposing a national religion, it does not require a kind of separation aimed at removing God from all of public life and discourse. Those who demand removal of God and religious reference from public life actually violate the part of the amendment protecting freedom of speech and the press. The founders were interested in protecting freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

If you don’t think that the public has been badly misled on the purpose of the First Amendment, try stating a moral opinion in a public setting. You’ll likely hear someone ask, “What about separation of Church and State?” “Isn’t that what the First Amendment is all about?” 

The other deeply misleading factor is the notion that one can have politics without moral opinion. You simply cannot engage in lawmaking without moral considerations. In his farewell speech, our first president said, “Of all the dispostitions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…”

Abraham Lincoln said, “In this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.” 

If this is true, is it surprising to find those who are hostile against God and religion trying to force both out of public conversation and policy making. Strangely, these same people are unwilling to admit that they are voicing their moral and religious opinions when rejecting others.

Any time (in political discussion) we say one action is right and another wrong, or demand a certain value as a human right, we are using our moral code to influence policy and lawmaking. Let’s stop pretending that it’s only “those Christians” who bring their beliefs with them to the political process. And please correct those who fall for a politicized abuse of the First Amendment .

Hadley Arkes rightly observed that, “There is no way of purging from human beings an understanding of right and wrong, of purging from common life a discourse about right and wrong. Once we think we are in the presence of real wrongs, we think (for example) that it’s wrong for people to torture their infants, our next response is not, ‘Ah, therefore, let’s give them tax incentives to induce them to stop.’ No, we respond with a law that forbids them.”

“Once you understand that this is the nature of the enterprise of ruling and governing, it becomes a matter of whether you will address the questions of right and wrong or whether you simply try to divert the questions and talk about something else.” 

It’s relatively easy to find moral and religious opinion behind most of what is written about policy and law. The moment someone says, “I think it’s wrong….,” he has introduced a moral opinion. When a policy or law forms either based on or in support of that opinion, morality and politics have joined and the people are bound by the outcome. To argue that his opinion does not come from religion is to beg the primary question, “Says whom?”

Let’s not fool ourselves! If a man demands public conformity to his views, he makes himself Lord and uses religious coercion in the political process. The issue is not so much about religion as about seeking public consensus on the good that we the people choose in our policies and laws.

Where does the conversation go from here? 

Steve Cornell