The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Civil Liberties”

Mother of Ten: “Abandon the slavery of the coercive boot camp of the state.”

Carmon Friedrich started with “We are often told we have freedom of choice in this country, but in things that really matter, our choices are growing increasingly limited.”

She is pointing out the apparent hypocrisy in the current political climate to favor a woman’s right to an abortion, but not the right to choose “to control our lives.” Read more…

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DOMA & Gay “Marriage” – a Christian Evaluation

Guest Post by Ben Rossell

In the aftermath of the SCOTUS DOMA ruling, here are 7 points to help us understand why we are where we are and 7 things Christians should do about it.

1. Heterosexual couples destroyed the sanctity of marriage long before the gay rights movement hit the mainstream. “I have two dads, you know.” This is what a young boy I know recently told me. His words struck me. I knew they were true. But I’d never thought of it … like THAT before. His birth parents divorced while he was an infant [for what I believe were sound, Biblical reasons]. His mother went on to remarry a fine Christian man and so, like so many other boys around, he has “two dads”. Why should we think it so odd that this trend continue, though now with the ruthless efficiency of eliminating the mother altogether? A long time ago, our society began to deliberately streamline the process by which a man or woman can dissolve the oath they had previously made before God, church, family, community, and state to stay united until death.  And for decades, the process of oath-breaking has been made more and more convenient.  At this point in our history, “the sanctity of marriage” is nothing more than a hollow-sounding phrase; a string of words that used to mean something.

2. The Heterosexual promiscuity paved the yellowbrick road on which gay rights activists now march – the What young people really mean when they say “Don’t tell THEM what THEY can’t do in THEIR bedroom” is “Don’t tell ME what I can’t do in MY bedroom”.  This is what ‘the pill’ is all about.  What we see today is the fruiting of seeds that were planted fifty years ago and have been faithfully watered and fertilized ever since. Pulling levers and pushing buttons isn’t going to change that or stop what has been in motion for so long. But being faithful will… eventually. This is a bitter fruit, but the story is far from over.   Read more…

American Hypocrisy: How Would Saint Paul Write To Us?

by Mark Horne

all-seeing-eye-300x295I’ve heard Mormons believe that God directly inspired the Constitution. As a Christian, I know there was only one nation that had a directly inspired “Constitution.” Knowing that one’s country is founded by God should have given Israel a great deal of confidence among the nations. Sometimes it did so. Other times, due to unbelief, it did not.

But there was another way unbelief could trap Israelites. They could allow God’s gifts to Israel to give them confidence even when they were in sin and should have been humbling themselves both in the sight of God and the nations. Paul wrote to them about this:

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17-24, ESV)

As I write my posts on how to understand Romans, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this passage. In light of recent news about Edward Snowden, with headlines like, “US Seemingly Unaware of Irony in Accusing Snowden of Spying,” there seem to be similarities. Israel was both publicly immoral and publicly moralistic, at the same time, without any insincerity. If that seems impossible, look at the news about how America’s ruling class is posturing. Read more…

Faith and Immigration

By Peter Jones

Immigration1I am not an expert on immigration. I do not know the laws inside and out. I have paid little attention to the debate over the last decade or so.  But over the last couple of months I have become convinced that I need to do more thinking about it. It is not as important as the murder of babies or sodomy or even women in the military, but it does matter. Here are some of my initial thoughts on immigration in no particular order and subject to revision.

First, on principle Christians should have no objection to immigration. There is no biblical law or principle that would forbid people coming into our country from other countries. We have no reason to fear their presence. Most of our ancestors were immigrants. Our fathers in the faith migrated to Egypt (Genesis 47). There is an irrational fear of “losing our country to foreigners” or of “American culture being unalterably changed” among political conservatives which conservative Christians often adopt. Christians should not think this way. I know some Christians will say they only fear illegal immigration. That may be true, but the language is frequently applied across the board to immigrants.

Second, Christians should love immigrants, legal or illegal because they are our neighbors (Leviticus 19:34). They are not political pawns to be used to gain votes or to bash the other party by showing that the Republicans have no compassion or that Democrats do not care about our country. They are people created in the image of God. Political expediency and love for America is not the primary concern. Are we loving them and are we helping them to love God.

Third, Christians are called upon to obey the civil magistrate in all circumstances that do not include disobedience to God.  Therefore illegal immigrants who are Christians should repent of the sin of disobeying the authorities God has placed over them and begin working towards legal status. This would include accepting any penalty the law may enforce for their disobedience. Christian business men should not hire illegal immigrants and should repent if they have and again take any penalty the government may enforce. Pastors who minister to illegal immigrants should call on them to repent of refusing to obey the God-ordained authority and work with them so they can get legal status.

Fourth, Christians should not oppose making it easier for someone to become part of our country. Looking at the USCIS page it appears that in order to become a citizen you have to have been here 5 years and pass a civics test and English language test, as well as be a person of “good moral character.”  I think the civics test and English language test make sense, but the 5 year wait could be amended. However, there are millions of legal immigrants who enter our country every year. So the effort must be worth it for most immigrants. Our goal, as Christians, should not be to make it as hard as we can for someone to participate in American civic life.

Fifth, magistrates have a duty to protect their citizens. Therefore it is not absurd for the government to try to keep out of our country evil doers and trouble makers.  Nor is it wrong to have a process for becoming a citizen. But criminals will be criminals. Conservatives say the same thing with guns.  We know that wicked men circumvent gun laws, so wicked men will get around our immigration laws. Just as someone going on a murderous rampage is not a good reason to punish law abiding, gun owning citizens, so a legal or illegal immigrant who does wrong is not a good reason to punish the millions who are here and intend no harm. The Tsarnaev brothers, who were here legally, have been cited as a problem with America’s immigration policy by conservatives. But this is hypocrisy, unless you also want to cite Adam Lanza as a problem with American’s gun policy.

Sixth, I am not sure what to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants in our country. As Christians we should not approach them with fear.  And yet, God calls upon us to obey the authorities. My initial (and very tentative) response is to create a streamlined pathway to citizenship, but keep them from voting in elections for at least one presidential cycle. This would prevent the passage of legislation for the sake of gaining votes. It does not seem that straight amnesty is a good choice. A price should be paid because they broke the law. In this case the price would be that they could not participate in elections.

Seventh, the biggest problem with immigration is not the immigrants, but the bloated, red-taped obsessed, welfare dispensing U.S. government. A lot of critiques of immigration focus on the financial costs of supporting them. But this would not even be a problem if our government did not provide free healthcare, education, welfare, etc. The current arrangement does make immigrants a drain financially. It should not be that way. Also the U.S. government does not truly care for her own citizens. She makes us dependent upon her so we stay on her leash. She spies on us and removes our basic civil rights without due process. Why would we assume they will treat immigrants any other way? Is it really loving our neighbor by encouraging U.S. citizenship? Right now, I still think yes. But the time could come where Christians might encourage potential immigrants to get out of Sodom.

As Christians we have a great opportunity to love those entering our country instead of using them and to call upon them to worship the living God, which would include submitting to the authorities God has place over us. Adopting conservative talking points on immigration will often put us at odds with the Bible. Therefore all of us, but especially those in states where immigrants are common, need to think carefully about how we can show genuine, biblical love for those legal and illegal immigrants around us.

Peter  Jones is the pastor of  Christ Church of Morgantown, he has eight children, but unlike Jacob only one wife. He also blogs at Singing and Slaying.

How National Surveillance Arrogance Projects Its Faults On Others: James Woolsey Is the One Who Should Go To Prison!

by Mark Horne

A simple summary of what has happened: The government has secretly provided itself with a secret interpretation of the laws passed by Congress that it then secretly applies and used laws of secrecy to bind all who knew the truth about what the government was doing to secrecy.

I leave aside what might or might not be the full scope of the PRISM program and simply point out that the collection of phone data from Verizon is patently illegal, an obvious violation of the Fourth Amendment.

This Administration, and surely the Bush Administration as well, arrogated to itself the right to defecate on the Fourth Amendment and threaten anyone who told the American people about what it was doing with severe penalties.

The full depth of this arrogance comes out in James Woolsey’s projection of his own sin onto Edward Snowden’s character.

I think Mr. Snowden had no right to arrogate to himself the right to decide where to strike the balance between liberty and security. As President Obama pointed out a couple of days ago this balance has to be struck, and the court system, particularly the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, the Executive Branch, the President, the Attorney General, and the Congress with the Reviews by the Congressional Committees every few months… this has been a very precisely crafted system for making the decision about where to strike the balance between liberty and security. And Snowden arrogated that entire decision to himself.

No he didn’t. Snowden didn’t arrogate any decision to himself. He simply took it from Woolsey’s small group of friends and gave it back to the American people to decide.

The precisely crafted system was the Fourth Amendment. It is clear and precise in its wording. That system was over thrown by a small group of people who were all compelled by threats of laws if they allowed anyone else to know what was going on. The members of the Congressional Committees were not able to exert any leverage on policy because they were required not to talk about it. They simply were drafted into a pseudo-democratic rubber stamp system. The FISA court is even more of a joke, long known as a system that rubber stamps whatever the regime wants. But the Verizon phone records obviously far exceed any authority of the FISA court.

And all talk of democracy is pure deception in such a context. No politician can campaign on issues he is not permitted to talk about. No politician can be held accountable for practices that he demands be kept secret.

The bottom line is that Woolsy’s oligarchy were the ones to arrogate to themselves the right to cancel the Constitution and decide where they wanted to “strike the balance.” They are a criminal conspiracy and they deserve to be exposed and prosecuted as enemies of the American people. If the terrorists “hate us for our freedoms,” we can add the charge of aiding and abetting the enemy. For these oligarchs have obviously pursued a campaign of appeasement.

Snowden didn’t arrogate any decision for himeslf. He, rather, exposed to daylight those who had arrogated the power to themselves in darkness.

So, naturally, Woolsey wishes life imprisonment upon Snowden. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. Either most of our present (and past?) executive branch are no less than pirate raiders, criminals who need to be prosecuted; or Snowden is guilty of a crime. Woolsey wants his native oligarchy to remain in power. Snowden must be sacrificed for that to happen.

The Abuse of Power and the Power of Abuse: Dealing with an Inconvenient Truth

By Uri Brito

Republicans are the party of small government. Democrats are the party of big government. These distinctions no longer hold true. Reagan’s first term, perhaps, in recent history, is the last to come close to the type of small government Republicans say they envision. But for too long the scenery of the political landscape is replete with big government towers. We, the people, stare hopelessly at those babel-like towers wondering if any of them have read Genesis 11. We are Tolkien’s hobbits wanting to be left alone smoking our tobacco and drinking the finest beer, but alone they will not let us be.

David Shipler’s The Rights of the People: How our Search for Safety Invades our Privacy (2011) detailed some of these abuses. Shipler wrote that the Bill of Rights were “embedded in the first ten amendments to the Constitution…to climb and counter the might state, to keep their speech free, their confessions true, their trial fair, their homes and files sealed from cavalier invasion by police.” We are losing that right as speedily as the government (NSA) is tracking your e-mail or Verizon phone call right now.

What we are seeing today is more than the undermining of the Constitution; we are seeing the undermining of morality. And this implies that we need the objectivity of Christendom. We can no longer amen the actions of any party, because both major parties do not care about the shire. They will make deals with anyone. We need the boldness to assert the foolish actions of our party and then condemn them each election.

Obama’s promise to secrecy and the respecting of civil liberties in 2007 has quickly derailed into a Mordor-like crystal ball. They have looked and accessed every conceivable file. They have found what they wanted and used that information for their own purposes. “We cannot have 100% safety without inconvenience,” the president argues. Inconvenience? An absurdly burdensome tax system,  the waste of our taxpayer money, TSA, a destructive economic policy, reckless wars led by reckless leaders, the murder of the unborn? This is more than inconvenience; this is abuse; and all in the name of an agenda.

What we are witnessing is not the era of inconvenience; those days were relatively comfortable. At least we knew when the inconveniences would come. We are entering the era of abuse. We are in an era where the words “abuse of power” have become redundant. In an abusive society, led by abusive leaders, we do not know what to expect. Power corrupts, but absolute power in the hands of fools leads to abuse.

We are not claiming that this is a distinctly Obama problem. Bush’s Patriot Act opened the doors to this type of infringement. The tyranny of technology began long ago. And we are now recipients of a president who is continuing those policies.

The Economist observed in 2007, that in the past, information was gathered by drawing conclusions about citizens from fragmented reports by party loyalists. They would tap phones, send informers to workplaces, and follow people around. Today, “data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behavior, and personal lives are gathered, stored, and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible.”

We are living in a new era. This is an era where privacy is becoming extinct. The security of e-mail exchanges, counselor to counselee phone calls, and a host of other matters are sacrificed at the altar of safety. But are we safe? The answer to that is an inconvenient truth to our president.

Roots of a British Awakening?

A guest post by Thomas S Kidd

My family and I just returned from two weeks in the U.K., and while we were there, several major British religion news events transpired. First, on a day we happened to be in Edinburgh, Church of Scotland delegates voted to allow gay ministers. Then, when we returned to London, came the appalling murder of a British solider by two Muslims, one of whom was arrested in Kenya in 2010 for seeking al-Qaeda training. Finally, a new study of U.K. census data indicated that within a decade, perhaps less than half of all people in Britain will identify even nominally as Christians.Michael-Adebolajo-1912414

These disparate developments suggest several religious patterns: first, prominent churches in the U.K. seem generally inclined to follow the lead of mainline denominations in the U.S. and Canada on issues related to gender and homosexuality. The Church of England has recently decided to ordain celibate homosexuals as bishops, and has issued a new plan to ordain women bishops within two years. These developments make inevitable more difficulties between the shrinking mainline churches in the west, and the burgeoning ones in the global south, which are generally more traditional on issues of sexuality.

Second, the U.K. (like much of Eurjeffertsschori_2_300(1)ope) has a pressing problem of how to handle its growing Muslim population, some fraction of which are jihadist sympathizers. (Anecdotally, I was struck by how ubiquitous the signs of Islam are in the U.K., from mosques to burqa-clad women.) While America’s Muslim population remains proportionately low, especially outside of large cities, in the U.K. a tenth of the under-25 population is now Muslim, and the self-identifying Christian population is stagnant and aging. If it were not for Christian immigrants to the U.K. from sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, Christianity would be in utter free-fall as a percentage of the British population.

Abandoned_ChapelThird, the legal establishment of the Church of England looks increasingly strange and antiquated, when you consider how Christianity (Anglican or otherwise) is losing even a nominal hold over much of the population. It is hard to imagine how the church will survive calls for its disestablishment (meaning withdrawal of state financial support and other trends toward stronger separation of church and state) unless a very different pattern emerges in the next generation. In a democratic country, it seems impossible to justify an established Christian church when so few actively practice Christianity, and when even nominal Christianity seems destined to command no more than a plurality of the population’s  adherence. Yet the British government – particularly the monarchy – is still closely identified with Christianity. They still pray “God save the queen” in Anglican liturgies.

Given all this, is there hope for Christian revival in Britain? Christians, of course, always believe there is hope for redemption and renewal, because of God’s power. The observable facts are not promising, but there are certainly pockets of flourishing Christianity in Britain. The Kingsway International Christian Centre, an African Pentecostal congregation which is London’s largest church, attracts as many as 12,000 attendees every Sunday, and there are many other growing immigrant-dominated congregations across the U.K. Evangelical renewal efforts within the Anglican Church include the Alpha Course, pioneered by Nicky Gumbel (see more on the Alpha Course in this Anxious Bench post by Philip Jenkins).

While my family was blessed to attend Evensong services at both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, the most vital church we visited was an evangelical Baptist congregation in Stirling, Scotland, which sits prominently in the city center. While nowhere near the scale of Kingsway, it is filled with young Scottish families. The worship is heartfelt, the preaching biblical and accessible, and community life and prayer support are vibrant. Those factors, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, would seem to be essential ingredients for revival in the U.K. and beyond.

@ThomasSKidd on Twitter

Thomas Kidd is a contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

[This article first appeared at The Anxious Bench. Read more from Dr. Kidd there.]

Romeikes Lose Battle, Jesus Still Wins War

by Marc Hays

Justice PeekingIt comes as no surprise to hear that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Romeike’s continued asylum in these United States.   Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, a George W. Bush administration appointee, said, “Germany is not forbidding home-schooling … It’s not like saying you can’t teach them at home in the evenings.”  This is, of course, utter nonsense, but that is not surprising either.  “W” appointed him.  Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association related this type of thinking to telling a Jew that their children could eat kosher at home every evening even though the state will be feeding them bacon for 6 hours per day for 180 days per year.  How is that eating kosher?  How is forcing Christians to subjugate their children to the religion of the German state not religious persecution? If you think Germany does not have a state religion, you can read more about that here.

This news comes to us as bad news, and it is.  Anytime a God-ordained liberty, like a father raising his children (Deut. 6), loses to tyranny, it’s bad news, and it’s bad news for all of us.  This ruling is indicative of our court system, our attorney general, our president and his administration, but worse yet is that they don’t define us.  We define them. The people of the United States elected Barak Hussein Obama to four more years.  President George W. Bush appointed Judge Sutton to his bench.  We granted them these powers, so they are indicative of us as a nation.

So, this is bad news, but this is not the end of the story.  Read more…

Universal Healthcare, Universal Drone Strikes

by Adam McIntosh

Who else remembers the progressive-liberal movement displaying such moral outrage towards George W. Bush because of the “war on terror” and his unconstitutional invasion of Iraq? We’re talking impeachment-level outrage. Bush was deemed a war criminal worthy of imprisonment. He was condemned for passing the Patriot Act, a bill that essentially repeals the fourth amendment. Celebrities made a mockery of him and thousands upon thousands of protesters gathered all over the world in defense of peace and the rule of law.

The anti-Bush hysteria certainly included independents, libertarians and constitutionalists, but the majority aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. Riding the coattails of the anti-war movement was Senator Barack Obama, identifying himself as one who was against unconstitutional wars and the Patriot Act. He promised to bring the troops home from Iraq within the first year of his presidency. This sealed his White House victory quite easily. The movement had finally found their man. So, where aantiwarleftre they now?
Read more…

Mobile Church Added to Russian Military

by Adam McIntosh

Russia has added a new unit to its military: a parachuting, mobile church – complete with priest, deacon, and an iconostasis. The purpose of this flying cathedral is to satisfy the spiritual demands of military personnel and to improve morale and discipline in military units.” The inflatable-tent-turned-cathedral can be dropped where needed to provide worship, prayer, and sacraments to soldiers engaged in war or those stationed away from an accessible parish. The following demonstration video is a must-see:

As silly as this may sound to some, I personally think it is a great concept. Now, this is not an approval of the Russian government as a whole, nor am I condoning all practices of the Russian Orthodox Church. I’m not even saying that civil governments should be involved in such programs. But I think it shows two things. First, it shows a great contrast between Christianity in Russia and Christianity in the United States. While the U.S. military burns Bibles and labels Christianity an extremist group, Russia is making Christian worship a part of its foreign policy. While the U.S. supports Christian-killing rebels in Syria, Russia seeks to protect Syrian Christians by not supporting the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. And while the U.S. gets closer to nationalizing gay marriage each day, Russia outlaws homosexual propaganda. Read more…

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