International Corporations that Support Agendas Hostile to the Christian Faith: An Open Letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook

An Open Letter to Apple CEO, Tim Cook (tcook@apple.com) sent August 31, 2017

Dear Mr. Cook,

I have been an Apple Customer since I bought my first computer in 1986. I have lauded the quality of Apple products because it is a brand that I could believe in. I have also owned Apple stock and have invested in Apple stock in my children’s educational trusts and our family trust over the years.

I was saddened to see the announcement that Apple would be supporting the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But why support a group that stands against free speech and the First Amendment? SPLC doesn’t want to argue for the rights of everyone to peacefully hold to and express their own beliefs. They want to silence everyone who disagrees with them. That truly is the definition of fascism, silencing your opponents through intimidation.

Years ago I remember the ACLU defending a Neo-Nazi rally in Skokie Illinois. I was mortified that the ACLU would defend the free speech rights of a Neo-Nazi group. In reading the ACLU’s rationale that all people had a right to free speech as long as their speech did not break the law, I had to agree with the ACLU even though I did not like the message of the group they defended.

The bottom line as you analyze the SPLC’s list of 917 hate groups is that although many groups belong on their list, many others do not. One thing is clear, they have an agenda to criminalize Evangelical Christianity when they target groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council and D. James Kennedy Ministries as well as moderate Muslim groups that speak out against Radical Islam.

By the SPLC’s definition of hate, the Amish, Muslims, and many Orthodox Jewish groups also belong on their list. When SPLC added the Clarion Project, a group seeking to bring attention to the many Christian (http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/01/12/study-christianity-persecuted-around-world-90k-martyred-2016), Yezidi, and Moderate Muslim victims of Radical Islam, I thought why would they oppose this group? And, who is next?

Does your company really want to endorse a policy that embraces far-leftist activism and seeks to silence and intimidate groups that are peacefully disagreeing? If so let me know. I have sold my Apple stock, but I will seek to empty our home and business of Apple Products in the future. I will be watching Apple, Inc. closely in the days to come. How can one person counter the influence of one of the world’s largest corporations? I will spread the word about Apple’s activities and encourage people to vote with their dollars.

I agree worth Kimberly Strassel in her analysis in the Wall Street Journal article from August 25, 2017,

“What Mr. Scher is referring to is the SPLC’s “Hate Map,” its online list of 917 American “hate groups.” The SPLC alone decides who goes on the list, but its criteria are purposely vague. Since the SPLC is a far-left activist group, the map comes down to this: If the SPLC doesn’t agree with your views, it tags you as a hater. Let’s not mince words: By funding this list, J.P. Morgan and Apple are saying they support labeling Christian organizations that oppose gay marriage as “hate groups.” That may come as a sour revelation to any bank customers who have donated to the Family Research Council (a mainstream Christian outfit on the SPLC’s list) or whose rights are protected by the Alliance Defending Freedom (which litigates for religious freedom and is also on the list).”

Sincerely,
Joe Daltorio

cc: Open Letter blog

 

Lessons from Egyptian Christians

One of the most astounding things said by Jesus during His last hours of suffering on the Cross were the words, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”  What amazing grace and mercy from the mouth of our Savior!  Especially considering the pain of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering that Jesus was experiencing in that moment.  Arguably, the majority of normal human beings would be so focused on their own suffering that they could not or would not be thinking about the very people who had helped to cause the pain.  Yet, Jesus, true to His mission, was accomplishing the very thing He set out to do.  Die a substitutionary death so that others could be forgiven.

We are called to be like our Savior, to forgive those who have sinned against us.  It is one of the hardest things for most of us to do.  To forgive those who have hurt us, offended us, or sinned against us is difficult work.  In fact, I think to forgive like that is supernatural.  We can only forgive that way since we have experienced the forgiveness for our own sins through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Never are we more like Jesus than when we forgive those who do not deserve forgiveness.  Of course, we must ask the question, “Do any of us truly deserve the forgiveness and grace that God has shown to us?’  The answer is no!  It is only by God’s grace and mercy that we find forgiveness.

It was one week ago that terrorist bombs from Isis killed forty-four Christian worshippers in twin bombings in Egypt.  Coptic Christians in Egypt have suffered so much throughout the years.  And yet, an article on Breitbart.com caught my eye this morning, TEL AVIV – An Egyptian television channel aired an interview with the widow of one of the victims of a deadly attack on a church in Alexandria on Palm Sunday.”  In the interview this widow of one week forgives the terrorists who killed her husband and a number of her friends:

“You took my husband, the father of my children, but I forgive you. I ask that God forgive you as well. My husband is gone. You put my husband in a place that I didn’t want him to be in and I very much want to be next to him.

“I’ll say just one thing to you, to those who did this, those who have been led astray, think about what you’re doing, think again, think about your actions. We didn’t do anything to you. When I say that I forgive you, believe me, I really forgive you.

What amazing forgiveness and grace.  Here is a woman who truly takes God at His word.  What an example to the people of the Middle East who heard this statement.  The interviewer Amr Adeeb, responded:

“The Copts of Egypt are made of steel. For hundreds of years they’ve suffered. The Egyptian Copts love their homeland immensely and they suffer for their homeland – such power, such great tolerance and forgiveness.

“If your enemies knew how tolerant and conciliatory you were, they wouldn’t believe it. If my father had done this I wouldn’t forgive him. These people (the Copts) are made of something else. They have tolerance that is the product of very strong belief.”

The response in the comment section from other Coptic Christians who suffered was amazing as well.  Reem Karsham , said this, “It’s true that we Christians live by the teachings of Jesus Christ who commanded us to love our enemies. On Good Friday we ask our father to forgive them. We are the salt of the earth spreading love wherever we are. Our blessings to our Coptic brothers in Egypt .”

Other responses, from Mari Abouaita, “We aren’t made of something else, we’re simply following the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, blessed is his name. Jesus, who was crucified by no fault of his own. The crucifix that was the symbol of humiliation became the symbol of faith and the salvation after Jesus Christ. God forgive them (the attackers) for what they’ve done.”

Gladis Odish wrote, “This is what Jesus Christ said 2000 years ago: He said, ‘You have heard to love your loved ones and hate your enemies, but I say love your enemies. Do good to those who don’t love you. Pray for those who harm you and oppress you,’ and that’s what every Christian says.”

May God bless and strengthen our Coptic brothers and sisters in Egypt!  Their example of living out the truth of Jesus Christ is amazing.  I pray that God will keep and protect them in the hostile region in which they live.  May their testimony of their faith under suffering resound to those around them and to us comfortable Christians in the west.  The faith of this Egyptian widow reminds us afresh of the words of Jesus, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Follow the Captain of the Lord’s Army

One of the most curious stories from the Jewish Scriptures is the story of Joshua and the “Commander of the Lord’s Armies.”  The background of the story is that Joshua is leading the army of Israel as they come out of the desert after wandering for forty years.  Moses is gone and Joshua is acting as the political and military leader of Israel.

One of their first challenges are some of the tribes who live in Canaan who are not favorable to Israel settling in their land.  The year is approximately 1400 BC.  Abraham and Jacob have previously purchased land in Canaan about 400-500 years earlier, so the people of Israel had some legal presence in the land.  But before them is the city of Jericho.  God has promised the people of Israel victory if they obey Him and follow His ways.

God had told Abraham almost five hundred years previously that Israel would be enslaved as a people for four hundred years.  At the same time, God was dealing with the Amorites, one of the main people groups who populated the land of Canaan.  Indeed Israel spends four hundred years in Egypt as God prepares them to be a people of destiny.

In Genesis 15:13 – 16 (NLT) God relates the following to Abraham,  Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth.  (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”’

The take away from this conversation between God and Abraham is that God deals with each nation individually.  When a nation honors the Lord they are blessed in the land in which they reside.  When they sin and rebel against God and His purpose by participating in idolatry, sexual immorality, broken covenants, and bloodshed, He will send judgment, often in the form of warfare, pestilence, natural upheavals and disasters, and finally, in extreme cases God will remove the people from their land.  In fact the Bible clearly shows that radical climate change is one of the consequences for a land under judgment.

In the Book of Joshua 5:13-15 (NLT), The Captain of the Lord’s angelic armies appears to Joshua and his words are astonishing to me.  “When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, ‘Are you friend or foe?’ ‘Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.’ At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. ‘I am at your command,’ Joshua said. ‘What do you want your servant to do?’  The commander of the Lord’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did as he was told.”

God had promised Israel that He was with them and that it was their time to take the land of Canaan and remove the idols and dedicate the land to Him.  Why did the Commander of the Lord’s army say he was for neither side?

I have a theory why the Lord sent this Messenger to Joshua.  It was to humble him as a leader.  We know that God had a destiny for Israel, but the Lord reminds Joshua that Kingdom of God is not just about one nation or people, even the Chosen People of Israel.

He was reminding Joshua that God’s ways are above our ways.  He was relating to Joshua that although he had a destiny for Israel, that His plans were much bigger and that Joshua was to never forget.

As followers of Jesus in the USA we need to hold this lesson close to our hearts.  I believe God has a destiny for this nation!  He wants us to follow Him and honor His ways.  Previous generations in America have experienced powerful awakening from God and many of our leaders have sought God’s blessing.  But, if we turn away from God and follow in the same sin as the Amorites and other nations who have rebelled against God and His truth, He will send judgment against us.

In this season when our land is so divided, we also need to be careful not to get pulled into an identity or agenda that is foreign to God and HIS KINGDOM.  The Kingdom of God is bigger than any nation, any political party, or human movement.  Everything we believe and do needs to be filtered thought his truth.  Some day people from every tribe, nation, and people group will be standing before the Lord in His Heavenly Kingdom.

May God give His people wisdom in this season!  May He help us as His followers to find our way through culture wars and political division to God’s heart.  The Captain of the Lord’s Armies message to Joshua should still resonate in our hearts today!

Election 2016: Major Defining Issues to Consider in Choosing Your Candidate

Rationale: The following defining issues are based on my perception only.  I don’t pretend to speak for a group or a movement.  They are not in any particular order of importance.  And, certainly, this list is not comprehensive.  

I would also say that they are designed to get people with a Christian worldview thinking about what should influence their choice in the upcoming presidential election.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis, but instead a brief checklist with comments.

Many have accused Evangelical voters of being one-issue candidates over the years.  In fact, there are many concerns that should concern a follower of Jesus Christ in this upcoming national election.  It is imperative that each follower of Jesus PRAY and carefully consider the issues that face us as a nation and as a people of God.

As a pastor, I feel that it is not my job to tell you how to vote, but to make you aware of the issues, especially from a Biblical perspective.  Not all Christians will agree with me, but please weigh what I have to say.

I would also say that many Christians may have strong convictions, but we need to stop indicting and accusing one another.  At the end of the day, we will all stand before God and give an account of our actions.  You may not like the choices of leaders before you. And, let’s face it, we will never have a perfect candidate or a perfect leader until the Messiah returns!

 

Here are fourteen major defining issues for consideration:

  1. Globalism vs. A Sovereign United States
  • One of the biggest ideological questions that will be answered by this election is whether America will remain a sovereign nation or become absorbed in a vision of a global government.  Arguably, the current administration has espoused a view of Global Socialism, which means the following things:
    • gradual elimination of borders and screening of who comes and goes through our borders
    • unlimited immigration and migration
    • voting rights for non-citizens is already being encouraged in many jurisdictions even though it is currently illegal
    • international and regional treaties that erase national rights
    • policies of wealth and population redistribution
    • shifting legal authority from our courts based on our Constitution and Case Law to International Courts.
  • The interesting question is:  When did we decide to give up sovereignty and shift toward open borders and globalism?  The answer is that there has been no decision of our legislative bodies.  It has been at the whim of both Republican and Democratic leaders over the last 40 years.  Distribution of refugee populations are being done according to a UN design in a secretive way that bypasses local and state governments.  This is something we have not seen before in America.  It is suspiciously being financed by a number of groups that support the Open Borders movement.  (http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/05/04/north-dakota-house-majority-leader-wants-state-sue-feds-refugee-resettlement/)(http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2016/08/24/dark-lord-hacked-documents-reveal-scale-george-soross-influence-u-s/)
  • Globalism means that we are no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  I shudder to think what the UN imagines for America.  The UN vision goes way beyond global trade, which most people acknowledge as a good thing.  I am speaking about global governance that superseded the authority of nation states.
  • Shouldn’t American Christians be open to all people coming to America?  Yes, I think so and believe this is part of America’s destiny, but there is nothing wrong with laws that protect people, both the immigrants and current Americans.  For a recent statement by theologians and analysis of globalism from a theological perspective, go to: http://www.christianpost.com/news/globalism-antichrist-demonic-theologians-wallace-henley-fay-voshell-jim-garlow-jeremy-rabkin-170131/

2. Life is Sacred

  • There is a great difference between the major parties regarding abortion, assisted suicide, and issues related to trans-humanism (modifying human DNA – genetic engineering).  We as Christians, believe life is sacred.  Life begins at conception, therefore abortion should not be legal.
  • We also believe that God chooses the moment of our death.  The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” – Hebrews 9:27 – NKJV.  It is acceptable to choose palliative care when death is imminent, but to have modern medicine intervene and assist a person in committing suicide is not acceptable.  Assisted suicide is now being approved in some states and will be an issue in the next couple years.
  • Likewise, there are many problems with genetic engineering with humans,  Some of the most disturbing things in the area involve combining human DNA with animal DNA to somehow seek to alter humanity.  This is one dimension of trans-humanism.  There is not space here to go into detail, but Christians should oppose this type of genetic experimentation and tampering with God’s design.

3.  Support Marriage & Family

  • The Obama Administration has done more to redefine marriage and the family than any other force in recent history.  As a president that claims to be Christian this is problematic and confusing.  Arguable, President Obama’s primary legacy will be advancing rights for gays and transgendered people.
  • The Bible is clear, God created them male and female.  He is the designer of the family.  Scientific studies prove that children do best when they are in a Biblically defined family with a mother and a father.  I believe restoring marriage and the family is a key component in helping people break the poverty cycle as well.  The government has opposed the Biblical version of the family and encouraged people to be dependent on the government instead.
  • Recent studies on gender and sexuality prove that commonly held ideas about gender identity and homosexuality are not supported by science.  (http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/number-50-fall-2016)
  • There is a persistent judicial activism to educate children especially and the public in general about gender, transgenderism, and LGBT activism.  The current administration also has taken a hostile view toward Evangelicals and Freedom of Religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.  Many Christian leaders feel the end game is to silence Christians and the Church.
  • Laws on the books before the Supreme Court decision approving Gay Marriage already protected the rights of all americans including LGBT people.  It is hard not to feel that the most recent legislation passed has gone beyond protection to creating a special class of people with rights that supersede what is guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  These manufactured rights will be used to silence followers of Jesus Christ who hold to a traditional Evangelical view of Marriage, Sexuality, Morality and the Bible.

4.  Support Israel

  • It is imperative that we choose leaders that support Israel as an ally and acknowledge their right to exist as a sovereign nation.
  • Israel is the only stable democracy in the Middle East that allows for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people to live freely within her borders and participate in government.  Israel is currently the only entirely safe place for Christians in the Middle East.
  • The Bible clearly teaches that God’s covenant of the land given to Israel is till the end of time.  There are 170 references in the Bible promising land to Israel. Genesis 17:8 “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” NKJV
  • God’s covenant with Israel is not canceled by the New Covenant in the Lord Jesus.  God promises to restore Israel at the end of time after the Time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.
  • Any country that opposes Israel by demanding that they surrender land or sovereignty is in danger of incurring God’s wrath. “The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” – Zechariah 12:1-3 NIV
  • To support Israel does not mean we oppose Muslims or Arabs.  We pray for the peace of Israel and the rest of the Middle East and pray for all mankind to come to know the saving life-transforming power of Messiah Jesus.

5.  Christian Genocide and Persecution

  • In the last twenty-five years we have seen an acceleration of persecution of Christians.  This is especially pronounced in the Middle East and Africa, nations that have an Islamic government or a large Muslim population.  In some cases this persecution has risen to the level of genocide.
  • Our government and press have largely ignored this unthinkable genocide.  It was only earlier this year that our State Department officially recognized that Christian Genocide was occurring.
  • To make matters worse, it appears that US Foreign Policy has actually created radical elements and supported forces that have participated in this genocide.  The so-called “Arab Spring” saw the US as an asset in removing leaders like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Mohair Khadaffi in Lybia, and Bashar Al-Assad among others that protected Christian minorities.  All of these leaders were problematic and flawed, but their replacement tended to be radical Islamic elements that directly sought to eliminate Christian presence in their respective countries.
  • Our nation building in the Middle East and Africa has often led to dire consequences and persecution of Christians.
  • For the latest information on Christian persecution, go to https://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?clickfrom=%3d6d61696e5f6d656e75 or https://www.jihadwatch.org

6.  Protection of Human Rights

  • Our founding fathers were convinced that all men were endowed by their Creator with God-given rights.  It is popular in some circles to denigrate the founders because they were flawed.  They definitely erred by allowing certain colonies to perpetuate the profound evil of slavery.  They also erred in not giving women the rights they deserved.  I would respond with two comments”
    • Human leaders in any age will be a product of their culture.  We all have blind spots.  These men who founded America made serious mistakes.  As a nation we have paid again and again for those errors.  I am proud of the fact that it was Evangelicals primarily in England and America that continued to fight against slavery.  Many northerners lost their lives fighting against this evil institution.  We still have much work to do in dealing with racial discrimination and racism in the USA.
    • Because they were imperfect doesn’t mean they were wrong about the Bill of Rights.  They were wrong in how they limited those rights.  We should compare the Founding Fathers not to today’s cultural standards, but rather to the other nations in the time in which they lived.  They were exceptional in that sense. Slavery continues in may parts of the world, especially among the Islamic nations in north and west Africa.  The Christian West has taken the primary role in speaking out about and eliminating slavery.
  • We need to affirm and fight for our rights and beware of those who want to cavalierly give them away.   These rights especially will be challenged in the next presidential administration:
    • Right to Free Exercise of Religion
    • Right to Free Speech
    • Right to Own Property (Fifth Amendment – ‘(‘nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.’’)
    • Right to Due Process under the law

7.  Immigration Policies

  • As a Christian, I believe it is God’s destiny for America to be a nation made up of  people from all over the earth.  I firmly support Legal Immigration Policies that welcome people who can affirm the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Some thoughts to consider about immigration:
    • The US Government has always had quotas that allowed groups to assimilate.  It also kept communities from being overwhelmed by too many people coming at once.  Immigration policies are now being driven by UN policies that show little regard for American Citizens.  After several years of studying this, it seems clear that many of these policies are driven by a political agenda that does not have the best interest of refugees or people who are expected to welcome these refugees.  Statements about “open border policies” and non-enforcement of immigration laws have led many immigrants and refugees to risk their lives.  Children and women especially have been preyed upon because of these irresponsible policies at American border entry points.
    • We have always had health standard screenings.  Health screening and standards have been ignored in recent years leading to health risks and the reintroduction of diseases that had been eliminated in America.  This has put many communities at risk.
    • The US Government has had a history limiting immigration during times of war.   We have also clearly endeavored in past generations to keep out people who had an anti-American agenda.
    • Current charges of racism against those who would limit immigration, or enforce laws screening for those with health issues, or screening people with ideological opposition to America’s Constitution and Laws only compounds the problem.  The issue is not an issue of racism nor ethnic discrimination issues, it is an issue of examining the ideological beliefs, and protecting our current population as well as new immigrants coming into the U.S.

8.  Dealing with Islamic Supremacy

  • Islamic Supremacy refers to Muslims that seek to establish Sharia Law over the law of the land they are living in.  The Center for Security Policy (http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/06/23/nationwide-poll-of-us-muslims-shows-thousands-support-shariah-jihad/) polls that came out earlier this year indicate that 51% of American Muslims believe they should have the choice of being governed by Sharia Law.
  • For those that don’t know Sharia Law, that means diminished rights for women, and all non-Muslims.  It would revoke much of the Bill of Rights.  It is puzzling to see Progressives in America call people who want to restrict immigration in ways we have for generations racists.  The goal of having immigration laws is not to stop people from coming to America.   The goal is to stop people who are intolerant of other religions, who denigrate women and relegate them to second-class citizens, and who have a religion that states intolerance for any other religion.
  • Admitting that we have an enemy in Islamic Fascism is a key in dealing with the issue.   Islamic Supremacy is a force that seeks to conquer the world through violence and terror.  Indeed, not all Muslims are terrorists, but the majority of terrorists tend to be radical Muslim supremacists.
  • Unfortunately, I believe the United States Government has helped to create many of the problems regarding Radical Islam.  Our polices of ill advised wars and “nation building” (contributing to toppling governments) have left a power vacuum that has been filled with radical elements.

9.  Healing Racial Division in America

  • There are racial issues that need to be addressed in America.  We cannot change people’s hearts, but we can listen and build a coalition of people from various ethnic backgrounds to help foster reconciliation and healing.  My opinion is that this best happens in a local and regional setting.
  • We desperately need a President who will foster racial healing in America rather than one who plays groups against one another.
  • Healing the racial divide In America is not a quick fix.  We need a President that can address this issue by assembling a bi-partisan group of key leaders that have the respect of their respective communities who can take an honest look at what has worked and has not worked.

10.  Foreign Policy

  • America has been known as a Christian Nation.  In many ways we have shown a generosity to the world when there is a crisis that is unequalled by any other nation.  But, we have also interfered with the governments of other nations through outright war (often undeclared) and clandestine and subversive activity.  I feel that America as a nation has blood on its hands.  As a Christian, I would like to see our governmental leaders adopt the following polices:
  • Defensive War Only – We have been quick to get involved in armed conflicts around the world, committing manpower and materials.  We need to look again at the Just War Doctrine that shaped America in earlier ages.  There is a legitimate time to use force and go to war.  For instance, I felt the first Gulf War was legitimate and handled well.  I question whether we should have gotten involved in the later war in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein was not the one behind the 9-11 bombing and yet we invaded Iraq.  I believe in removing Saddam Hussein, even though he was a despotic leader, we paved the way for radical Islamic groups to rise to power and savage peaceful Muslims and Christians, Yahzidi, and Kurdish minority populations in the Middle East.  We followed the same policy in supporting the overthrow of governments in the so-called “Arab Spring.”  We ended up supporting and releasing terrorist elements by supporting and fomenting the overthrow of legitimate governments.
  • Not interfering through nation building or undermining foreign governments through clandestine action and war.  In Iraq, imagine if we had used the 1.7 trillion (six trillion by some estimates) to develop trade and peaceful projects with other governments that supported human rights and democracy in the Middle East rather than spending money and human lives on war!  The results would have been drastically different.
  • Respecting the sovereignty of foreign governments – We may disagree with leaders like former President Mubarak in Egypt or Khadafi in Lybia, but we have no right to undermine their sovereignty by working with forces to topple their government.
  • Undeclared Wars and Covert Actions that undermine the national sovereignty of other nations should not be allowed

11.  Ecological Policy that is not used as a Political Weapon

  • Allow for honest discussion about “Climate Change” that insures dissenting voices will not be punished or ostracized.  Recent moves by universities and governments to silence and censor anyone who disagrees with Climate Change beliefs are irresponsible and unethical.
  • There are now attempt to criminalize and silence dissenting voices against Anthropomorphic Climate Change Theories.  Many credible voices have been silenced in academia because they won’t espouse the politically correct position of believing climate change doctrine.
  • Not using ecological policies and agencies to take away rights of American property ownership or free enterprise.  We need governmental policies that protect our ecology, but we also need to protect the rights of citizens by giving them a fair hearing before property rights or usage is restricted by the government.

12.  Judicial Appointments & Judicial Activism

  • The next President of the United States may appoint two or more Supreme Court Justices.  He/she will shape the United States for the next twenty-five years at least.  This is a major consideration in choosing who you will vote for.
  • Support of Constitution – Some judges have advocated not using the Constitution, the very document they have sworn to uphold.  This is unacceptable!
  • Ending judicial activism by those who see the Constitution as obsolete.  We need to stop allowing the Courts to make the laws and restore that function to the Legislative Branch.  It is the responsibility of Congress to take a strong position on this.  Supreme Court and other Federal Courts have been making laws and this needs to stop with accountability to Congress.
  • Global Socialism and replacement of self-government.  Constitution, & freedoms guaranteed by The Constitution and Bill of Rights is an issue if we continue to move from national sovereignty to globalism.
  • Congress needs to hold the President accountable for making Executive orders.  Presidential authority should not encroach on or bypass authority given to The Senate and House of Representatives in the Constitution.

13.  Balanced Budget and Spending Limits

  • America is rapidly approaching a debt of 20 trillion dollars.  The amount is staggering!  It is almost impossible to pay back.  It is immoral and unethical to continue spending what we do not have.  The printing of money is a dishonest strategy of delaying an economic devastation that will happen sooner or later.  We should seek leaders that will seek to balance the budget and eliminate deficit spending.

14.  Dealing with Poverty

  • Two key elements emerge in studies on what causes poverty:  Drug or substance abuse and the lack of a father in the home.
  • Trillions of dollars have been spent on alleviating poverty since the Great Society initiatives began in the 1960’s.  Poverty continues to be a problem, especially in our cities. (http://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/dads-hold-key-to-reducing-child-poverty)(http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/marriage-america-s-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty)
  • Lack of a father in the home growing up is one of the main determinants of whether a person will prosper financially.  The divorce rate has grown since the 1960’s tremendously and this is a root of poverty not being dealt with.  The government cannot do too much in this area, but they admittedly have been hostile to family and marriage in a number of ways.
  • We need a President that will encourage partnership of government with local leaders and faith-based leaders to deal with root causes.

America’s 240th Birthday: Thoughts on a Divided America

We just marked Independence Day 2016, which marks 240 years since the United States of America became a nation.  We have had an amazing history of many ups and many downs.  America is unique among the nations.  Instead of evolving around ethnic identity, American coalesced around ideas about liberty, God-given rights, and a vision for a democratic republic that allowed people to participate in government, exercise freedom of speech, freedom of property ownership, free exercise of religion, the right to a trial when accused of a crime, and the freedom from government tyranny among other rights.

But this July 4th, America’s people are  divided perhaps more than at any time since our founding.  Although there are many who hold to the idea that America is an exceptional country whose founding documents deserve to be preserved and defended.  There are also many others who say that the American Constitution and Bill of Rights are obsolete.  They favor globalism over American national identity.  In some quarters it is popular to say that America has never been great.  We have always been a flawed country and our time has come to be absorbed into a vague global government.

It is not just disgruntled protestors and news pundits that think America’s time is past.  Last Monday, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, commented in an article in slate.com that the Constitution is out of touch with postmodern times.  He said it is a waste of time to study it.  He feels Judges should rule by fiat instead.  His comments remind me of a similar culture in the beginning of the Biblical Book of Judges where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  Listen to Posner’s words as reported in slate.com and nationalreview.com and remember that by becoming a federal judge he swore and oath to uphold and defend the Constitution:

“I see absolutely no value to a judge of spending decades, years, months, weeks, day, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution, the history of its enactment, its amendments, and its implementation (across the centuries—well, just a little more than two centuries, and of course less for many of the amendments). Eighteenth century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post–Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today. David Strauss is right: The Supreme Court treats the Constitution like it is authorizing the court to create a common law of constitutional law, based on current concerns, not what those 18th century guys were worrying about. In short, let’s not let the dead bury the living.”

I suppose people like Judge Posner feel that truth changes over time and is fluid.  He apparently believes truth is relative to the time and situation in which one lives.  This sounds like a recipe for tyranny and rule by oligarchy.  I do believe there are trans-temporal and trans-cultural truths.  These truths, like our founding fathers said, should be self-evident.  They were true hundreds of years ago, they are true today, and they will be true to the end of time.  I am not ready to retire the bill of rights for somebody’s opinion.  I am stunned that so many people in power today in government can so cavalierly throw away the founding documents that have insured our freedoms over the past 240 years!

Notice that many of these people who seek to transform our country and remove us from the base that our founding father’s laid are not doing it the Constitutional way.  Why should they, when they don’t believe in the Constitution any more.  They are indeed doing it by judicial fiat.  Some judges have even quoted case-law in international courts and other countries ignoring rulings from our own Constitution!  If they want to amend the Constitution there are legal ways to do a Constitutional convention, but that is not their way.  Honest Americans have seen the results of their referendums quickly tossed aside by politicized judges.

Angelo Codevilla in his book The Ruling Class How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It talks about the great divide in America.  He breaks the divide into a ruling class and a country class.

“The ruling class’s appetite for deference, power, and perks grows. The country class disrespects its rulers, wants to curtail their power and reduce their perks. The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid. The country class is ever more convinced that our rulers are corrupt, malevolent, and inept. The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey. The ruled want self-governance. The clash between the two is about which side’s vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side — especially the ruling class — embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side’s view of itself. One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable.”

Considering the treatment of Americans by our leaders in Congress in recent years, it is hard to argue with Codevilla’s reasoning.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaking of The Affordable Care Act, admonished fellows representatives, “We have to pass the bill to see what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”  The bill known as “Obama Care” was an 828 page bill.  Most of the representatives had little time to read or process the information.  The Washington Post said the supporting documentation for the bill amounted to 20,000 pages!  The bill affecting all Americans was passed largely without being read by our representatives.  But we are supposed to trust them.  We are still finding out what was in that bill.

Consider also the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two of the largest multi country trade agreements in history.  Both have been kept secret and slowly leaked to the public.  These bills have been backed by leaders in both parties, including Republican Senators Paul Ryan and Ted Cruze.  But why are things being done in secret?  Who has set this agenda to give up American sovereignty and move us toward globalism?  This policy of secretly pushing through an agenda is disrespectful to Americans and to rule of law!  If we replace the Constitution and Bill of Rights, what will replace it?  Will we have rights at all?

I am thankful for America, faults, shortcomings and all.  I know that our Founding Fathers were not perfect.  I also know that America is still the land of opportunity for many.  That is why refugees from around the world are doing all they can to get to America.  Is there any country that is without fault or failings?  At least in America we are given the opportunity to participate in government and address those failings.

To those who feel America is flawed and has never been great.  Yes, I know that America has wrongly interfered in foreign countries contrary to our own founding principles.  Yes, I know some of America’s founders owned slaves.   I also know that a great number of godly men and women in America fought to end slavery in the 19th Century.  Some even gave their lives in a brutal Civil War to defend what they believed in.  Many more went to the south after the war to set up schools to help those victims of slavery to break out of poverty and ignorance that had been imposed on them.  This is a forgotten history that is often ignored.  (For an interesting read on forgotten history read, The Town That started the Civil War by Nat Brandt.  It is about how the town of Oberlin, Ohio stood against the institution of slavery in an exceptional way in 1858.)

America has had its great citizens and leaders and we have also had our pirates, villains, and corrupt citizens.  We have had shining moments and we have had shameful moments.  But, we have the freedom to discuss and redress these injustices.  I believe most Americans of all ethnicities and colors want to work together.  America has a destiny that has only been partially realized, to be a nation made up of all ethnicities and backgrounds working together.  An ability to respect different ideas without demonizing our opposition.  When this happens America is at its best!  We cannot allow those who want to divide us to play us against one another.  Be suspicious of those who want to divide and to pit one group against another.  Be suspicious of a news media that seems increasingly out of touch with mainstream Americans.

It is up to “we the people” to speak out and get involved in government.  Our leaders need our prayers and they need to hear what we believe.  We all need to vote!  More people like me feel they no longer have a political party they can believe in.  I know some say they are tired of choosing a lesser of two evils.  Even if everyone wrote in their own candidate, it would send a message!

Our founders believed in the providence of God in founding this nation.  Most of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence show evidence of a strong faith in God.  Twenty-nine of those signers had a Biblical Degree from a Seminary or Bible College.  They had a belief that God had his hand in America’s founding and destiny.  I know not all American’s are Christians.  If Angelo Codevilla is right, and I believe he is, than either the “ruling class” who wants to deconstruct America or the “country class” who believe in preserving our founder’s principles must prevail.  But the question is:  If not Christianity, then what faith?  If not the Constitution, then what will be our governing principles?  Consider the words of three of our founders:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”– George Washington

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports….Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”– George WashingtonFarewell Address 1796

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.– Patrick Henry

“The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” – John Adams

Spiritual Light and Darkness

I have had a heightened sense in recent days that we are in a season when light is becoming brighter and darkness is becoming darker. The spiritual battle is intensifying and we can see it manifest in many ways. We can see it in the conflicts between nations and people groups. We can see it in the polarization of our political process and in the mean-spirited way people are addressing one another. Be assured that the spiritual battle between the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Satan is behind what we are seeing.

The good news is that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have been rescued from the Kingdom of Darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Light!

“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Colossians 1: 11 (NLT)

We may see the effects of darkness falling on those around us, but we have the light of God in us. He is with us and will strengthen us through these times. Lie Colossians 1 says, “He will fill us with His glorious power so we will have all the endurance and patience we need.” We can also take comfort that the Lord knew these times would come and Jesus and the Prophets forewarned us. They also assured us of the inheritance we have in the Lord Jesus!

In these days, we need to Stay in the peace of God through obedience! That means having a thankful heart at all times, It means forgiving offense’s and keeping our hearts offense free. It means speaking God’s truth in love, knowing that everyone around us desperately needs the truth and one of Jesus Christ, and it means living a life of yieldedness to His Lordship, even when things are difficult.

God wants us to shine forth as lights EVEN in the midst of this corrupt and perverse generation. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2. It is a fitting word for followers of Jesus today!

“12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.”  Philippians 2:12-18 NLT

Do Followers of Jesus Hate LGBT People?

I was talking with friends recently about the Gay Olympics coming to Cleveland this summer.  The conversation steered to the fact that there are strained relations between the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community and Christians.  The question was asked, “Why do gay people believe that Christians hate them?” As I thought about it, I realized that most Christians and oftentimes church leadership have not handled this question well.  At the same time, I realized that the LGBT community has not handled this well either.  There is a lot of misinformation out there about this issue.

I don’t believe true followers of Jesus should hate anyone.  We may hate sin.  We may hate evil.  We may hate the source of evil, but we are called to love everyone.  John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, in human form to live a sinless life, to die a death that we deserved, and to be resurrected.  This act on behalf of God The Father and Jesus, His Son broke the power of the curse of sin and death that was against all humanity and allowed God to offer the gift of new life and resurrection to all who would believe in Jesus and obey Him.  It was God’s love for all mankind that motivated Jesus to do this for us.

The point about John 3:16 and the message of good news that Jesus delivered is that God loves everyone!  Every person, no matter what his or her belief, ethnic background, sexuality, religion, or lifestyle choice has inherent value in God’s eyes.  We are all made in the image of God.  As a follower of Christ, this truth moves me to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

Jesus sought to respect and bring dignity to every person He encountered.  This is especially evident in how he treated those who opposed Him and His message.  He did not force His message on anyone.  He respected the right of people to accept or reject His message.  He loved people that opposed him or did not agree with Him.  He did clearly warn people who rejected His message of the consequences of doing so.  He appealed to the intellect and heart of people and did not seek to impose change from the outside.  As followers of Jesus we seek to do the same.  He was only harsh with those who were religious hypocrites and were leading others astray.

In The Gospel of John 8:1-11, Jesus demonstrates compassion and truth telling at the same time.  He restores the dignity of a woman who is caught in sexual sin.  A woman is brought to Jesus having been caught in the act of committing adultery.  (Notice that the man who committed adultery was not brought along with her.)  The religious leaders of the day sought to trap Jesus between the Old Testament Law (which Jesus was coming to fulfill) and the message of grace and transformation Jesus had been proclaiming.  The law required death by stoning.  However, Jesus was there to uphold and fulfill the law without giving in to the twisted version of justice that these hypocrites wanted to impose.

Three statements Jesus makes in this story are astounding:  1. “He who is without sin, throw the first stone”, 2. “Woman, where are your accusers,” and 3. “Go and sin no more.”  By saying these three things Jesus is making the following statements:  We are all sinners.  There is not one human who does not stand guilty before God.  We may think we want justice, but at the end of the day we all need the mercy of God.  He is also saying to the woman, nobody else has the right to accuse you.  Jesus alone is the one who has the power to judge her.  He then tells her to go and to stop sinning (acting in disobedience to God’s Word with regard to her sexual behavior).

First a word to Christians: We need to make sure we are following the ways of Jesus Christ and not the ways of the hypocritical religious leaders in this story.  We need to learn to speak the truth in love like He did and let people know that Jesus loves us, but that He calls us to walk in obedience to His Word.

To the LGBT community I would say, recognize that Jesus loves everyone.  His love is unconditional, but His approval of people’s actions are not!  Don’t confuse the love of Jesus with His approval of your opinion or behavior.  If you demand that true followers of Jesus approve your lifestyle, it will not happen.  As a follower of Jesus I can say that God loves you.  Jesus has a design and destiny for your life if you will come to him and allow His truth to work in you.  He has the power to transform your life, if you will let Him.  Everyone of us, gay or straight, is born with desires and inclinations that are contrary to God’s will and design for us.  We all need to come to grips with our sinful nature.  In that sense we all stand on the same ground.

It may surprise Christians and LGBT people alike that the early church was made up of some who came out of a gay lifestyle.  One of the most powerful statements in the Bible comes from the book of 1 Corinthians 6:11.  The quote begins, “And that is what some of you were . . . ”

Paul, one of the key leaders of this new band of Jesus followers who had come to be called “Christians” defines who it was that made up the church of his day.  His list is impressive and in some ways startling.  The context shows that Paul is condemning hypocrisy in the church.  He is warning the Christians that behavior that is contrary to the truth and character of God will not be acceptable to God.  He warns them in verse 9, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  Paul then goes on to define those behaviors telling them that they cannot call themselves followers of Jesus and persist in these behaviors.

The list includes the sexually immoral, people who had worshipped idols, people who had broken their marriage vows and committed adultery, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, people who slandered others, and people who swindled others in dishonest business dealings.  Paul lists these nine behaviors as former lifestyles that had defined these people before they came to Christ.  He goes on to say, “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God..”  (1 Corinthians 6: 11, NLT 2004)

The common zeitgeist in western culture is that people are born gay and cannot change.  The Bible clearly proclaims the opposite, that people can change, no matter what their background.  As one former gay acquaintance who is now a believer proclaims, “My friends tell me I cannot be a Christian.  I was born that way.  I tell them that is why I needed to be born again.  Jesus has forgiven me and is changing me daily to be more like Him.  He has given me a second chance.”

Over the years as a pastor, I have spoken with a number of people who were dissatisfied and unfulfilled with the gay lifestyle.  They came to the Church for help.  Some had even been deeply hurt in the Church, but they came because they knew that Jesus had the answers.  I was able to apologize that some who called themselves Christians had not had the maturity or experience to help them.

I have seen many gays changed by the power of God.  It isn’t always easy.  For some they experienced an instant change in their desires.  Others embraced the truth of Jesus, but experienced change over a long period of time.  Some never lost their desires, but sought solace in Christ and found fulfillment in celibacy.  Our sexuality is so much a part of our identity.  To change old patterns that may have seemed natural is a struggle.

In all fairness, I have also seen others struggle with heterosexual addictions and behaviors.  I have seen people wrestle with unforgiveness, hatred of others, addiction to drugs of alcohol, pornography addiction, a propensity to lie, to use or abuse others and many other lifestyles and behaviors that are contrary to the truth and teaching of Jesus.  Struggling with walking out our faith in Christ is not unique to people with homosexual desires.  That is why Jesus tells His followers to “take up their cross and follow Him.”

To followers of Jesus, I say it is time to speak up and expose some of the lies that have been proclaimed about Jesus and His followers.  God does note hate LGBT people.  Nor do true followers of Jesus!  The press has often zeroed in on religious people that do hate. It is time to show them that is not true.  It may make some uncomfortable, but we Christians also need to proclaim that by the power of Jesus we can be all be changed!  All of us are born broken into a broken world.  Some of us don’t want to stay the way we are and we find forgiveness, peace and transformation in the The Lord Jesus Christ.

To the LGBT community I would ask the following questions: Do you really believe that everyone has to accept your lifestyle or face the consequence of being called a hater?  Do you support equally lifestyles different from your own?  Do you want to be part of an activist movement that seeks to silence all who oppose them?  Recognize that you don’t have to be a religious hypocrite to be a hater.  Some of the most persecuted people who I have met are people who were unhappy and left the gay lifestyle.  The rejection, persecution, and sometimes violence that they have experienced from their gay friends is as ugly as any hatred I have seen toward the gay community.  Both examples of hatred are unacceptable.

We all need to learn to respect one another even as we respectfully disagree. Camille Paglia, a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, recently captured the essence of our need to learn to listen to one another and be able to politely disagree in a civil manner.  She addresses the outcry from gay activists over Phil Robertson’s (of Duck Dynasty fame) comments toward gays.

Paglia’s beliefs differ greatly from mine, but I respect her commitment and call to open and respectful dialogue.  These are her words from a December interview on the Laura Ingraham radio show as recorded in thedailycaller.com.

“I speak with authority here, because I was openly gay before the ‘Stonewall rebellion,’ when it cost you something to be so. And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech.  In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality — as I one hundred percent do. If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again they have a right of religious freedom there,”

Robertson had been suspended from Duck Dynasty due to comments he made to GQ that have been deemed “anti-gay.” According to Paglia, “To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades.  This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.”

Paglia went on to point out that while she is an atheist she respects religion and has been frustrated by the intolerance of gay activists.

“I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility,” Paglia said. “This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.”

“There is a dialogue going on human civilization, for heaven sakes. It’s not just this monologue coming from fanatics who have displaced the religious beliefs of their parents into a political movement,” she added. “And that is what happened to feminism, and that is what happened to gay activism, a fanaticism.”[1]

I agree with Paglia.  True tolerance means that I have enough respect to listen to people who have an opposing view to mine.  It means that I will respect their right to speak even if I disagree with them.  It also means that I will defend their right to speak when it is threatened.  This has been one of the key hallmarks of American society.  I see the application of the politically correct agenda eroding true tolerance.  Granted there have been errors and distortions on both sides of the issue.  There are many issues regarding human sexuality, marriage, how we define laws, and how we define truth that need to be discussed.

My prayer is two-fold:  One, that my Christian brothers and sisters will stop being defensive and learn to speak God’s truth with love and respect.  Secondly, that the LGBT community will take an honest look at what Jesus said and respect followers of Jesus in their right to believe; understanding that there is a difference between love and acceptance.

[1] Paglia: Duck Dynasty uproar ‘utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist’  Posted By Caroline May On 5:42 PM 12/19/2013 In The Daily Caller – http://dailycaller.com