Archive for August, 2012

2016 Obama’s America – The Quintessential Biography of President Obama

It has been a few days since I saw this movie with some friends and since that time, I have given this movie some thought (I usually hate movie’s that make me think – I want to be entertained). I have also read other reviews and or comments about this movie and have not felt any that I have read actually captured what I felt.

If you have read any of my prior blogs, you will know that I am not a fan of this administration and I am highly concerned with the direction at which we are being lead, so when I went to the movie I was not expecting to become a supporter of the President. I did not, but I did come away with an appreciation for him that I did not have previously.

I have seen this movie tagged or described as an Anti-Obama movie, but I think that is a mischaracterization. This is not an anti-Obama or a pro-Obama movie, it is simply a movie that explores the family history of Barak Obama and his personal mentors.

In the exploration of the family history of Barak Obama there is a lot of information that explains the worldview of the President. As I was watching it I realized that his background, his formative years were startling and starkly different from the backgrounds of most political figures. Is that good or bad? I suppose that depends on your worldview. I think there are many Christians who might find this positive as many of his mentors and his family history is steeped in an anti-Western powers attitude and that could appeal to many Christians who have a concern over the exploitation of third world countries.

I, however, do not think the worldview that the President grew up in is a healthy or helpful worldview and is a curious worldview for the President of the United States. Regardless of what you think of Barak Obama though, this film is important for all of us to see. We ought to at least know who the man is that we are asking to take the reigns of the most powerful nation in the world. It does not matter just to us as U.S. citizens, but to the people all over the world.

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Can A Christian Vote For A Mormon?

I have entered into this discussion numerous times recently and it is actually why I wrote my prior piece on Religion and Politics. Unless we know the correct place of Religion in the political sphere we will have a difficult time coming to grips with voting for someone of a different faith than our own.

Before I get into my reasons for why a Christian could vote for a Mormon, I think it is instructive to mention that the United States of America is a unique country, formed among the backdrop of European powers that were controlled by state religions and were continually at war with each other and with their own people. Religious persecution was regular and unwelcome. The first settlers to the eastern part of the North American continent came to escape religious persecution and our founders were strongly influenced by the concerns of those who had been fleeing religious persecution.

This gets us to the First amendment to our constitution which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The point of this was to make sure that our government could not establish a religion, to not be able to establish a state religion with status above any other religion, and it could not prohibit our free exercise of religion. This spoke in direct opposition to what the history was for so many settlers. This means that we are not a Theocracy, we do not have a King, our President is very specifically not a King and we do not look to him as God’s agent of governance on the earth as was common in Europe. (Now God does establish authority and we are to pray for those authorities, because they are instruments of God at work – but that is a significant difference than what the monarch’s of Europe were considered and I do not really have the time in this paper to get into)

If our President is not a King, nor the head of the church (and our government is not either) than what is the role? In our secular society, without going into all the details of the job duties of the different branches of government, it is to preserve the rights that have been given to us by God. We do not look to the government to give us rights or to give us material provision. We established the government to protect the inalienable rights given to us by God. Our founding documents recognized that God has given us rights and that governments are established among men in order to secure those rights. No more and no less. Our governing authorities are therefore agents of God, not to lord over, but to serve so that our God-given rights are not infringed.

So then, if our government is only supposed to secure our God-given rights, is it necessary that they be of the same religion as I am before I vote for him or her? I don’t think so. In fact, on a personal note, I doubt that any of the Presidents that we have had in our history would have agreed with me in my religious faith. The fact of the matter is that none of us have a complete corner on spiritual truth (which by the way is another great reason that the government should not establish a religion) and there is no perfect candidate.

Can I then vote for a Mormon? I think that is really the wrong question. We should be asking, who understands that our rights come from God? Who understands that governments are established to secure our God-given rights? Who believes that individuals practicing and living out their faith are better instruments of good in the world than government programs? Who understands that they should not use their religious faith to justify government policies that all of us must follow? (that is actually a form of the establishment of religion) If we truly understand the form of government that we have, that I believe is a gift from God, we won’t be looking at a person’s religious faith to determine if we should vote for them or not, we will be examining their fealty to the founding principle’s of our government.

So in addition to Denny Hartford and James Jordan (excellent articles that I recommend), here are my reasons that I think we should vote for Mitt Romney as opposed to Barack Obama for President of the United States.:

Life – Mitt Romney and more importantly, the Republican Party (as frustrating and aggravating as they can sometimes be) are ardently pro-life and their party platform reflects that. There really is no more important right to safeguard than the right to life. Our founders recognized this listing it as the first inalienable right from God and the bible validates it by requiring, as the price of taking someone’s life, your life. Gen 9:6

Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For  in the image of God
He made man

There is really no stronger statement about the value of life. Since we are made in the image of God, if we are slain, the slayer forfeits his right to life. This is a principal that is not affirmed by the Democrat party, which is why I will never vote for a Democrat regardless of an individuals protestations in favor of life (Ben Nelson – Ne or Bart Stupak – MI). The party does not stand for life and they do not buck the party line. This is not applied for the unborn nor for the elderly and not for the pre-meditated, caught in the act, murderer. This is an unacceptable position and Mitt Romney’s defense of life (albeit late in life, and possibly as a political pander) is much to be preferred and reason enough to vote for him.

Marriage – Mitt Romney and his Vice Presidential choice, Paul Ryan are both supporters of traditional marriage between one man and one woman (insert your own Mormon joke here if it satisfies your cynical itch). While I have no animus towards affectionate couples of the same gender, marriage is a well established institution that is already defined. In addition it is the law of the land and supporting that law leads me to the next reason for supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket.

Lawlessness – The Obama administration is well-known for their ignoring of and violation of established law, including the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). While it is the law of the land the administration swears to uphold the law, but they have specifically have refused to defend DOMA.  DOMA is not the only issue. They have not enforced immigration laws, issuing edicts to over rule the laws on immigration.  They have not enforced gun laws – see Fast & Furious. They have ignored court rulings regarding drilling for oil and the list could go on and on. I know many felt the Bush administration overstepped their bounds, but this administration makes them look like Boy Scouts. Will Romney/Ryan be any better than Mr. Obama? Could they be worse? I do not think so.

Radical Islam – Appeasement has been our foreign policy in the face of the rise in Radical Islam. This is dangerous as the lessons of history show us that appeasement in the face of evil reaps a whirlwind of death and destruction. We can and must do better.

Tyranny vs. Liberty – The Obama Administration has pursued a course of consolidating power in the executive branch, increasingly ignoring  the checks and balances of the different branches of government. He negotiates with Congress  with a take it or leave it attitude and alienates friends and foes alike. He increasingly governs by executive order.

Vice-President – Biden vs. Ryan. Enough said.

Religious Freedom – Romney/Ryan stand for religious freedom as opposed the Obama administrations attack on religious liberty, most egregiously through the health care bill.

There are many other reasons that a Christian can and should vote for this ticket and probably others that could make a better case, but the bottom line is that we need to remember that we are not a theocracy. If the main reason that we pray for those in authority over us is so that so that “we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” than it stands to reason that our prayer would take legs and have us vote so that “we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” I Timothy 2:2.

Religion And Politics – Let’s Get It Right

It has long been axiomatic that we should not discuss Religion and Politics. It is also widely believed that in America Politics and Religion should always remain separate. In fact many have gone so far as to say that religion should not influence the way one governs. I don’t happen to believe any of those things and apparently the President does not believe them either. However the way the Presidents mixes Religion and Politics is the reason we should be cautious.

This past spring the President made some interesting comments at a Prayer breakfast including quoting scripture to bolster his position that the government should raise taxes. Here are some of his comments, with my observations interspersed.

“I’d be remiss if I stopped there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try — imperfectly, but I must try — to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.”

Interestingly, the personal religious beliefs of many politicians (primarily those with a ‘D’ after their name) have never induced them to try to make sure those values motivated them to protect unborn children!

“And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs — from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato.”

When he says that he is applying the scripture that implores us to “love our neighbor as ourselves”, does it really require him to force people or corporations to do things that are not in their best interests? Is this how he would like to be treated? That thinking actually seems like a violation of the command to love our neighbor as ourself. When he talks about insurance companies discriminating against those who are already sick does he really have a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of insurance and discrimination? Would he really want to be forced to pay for someone else’s surgery? It would be a benevolence to pay for that surgery, but is he really treating the insurance company in the same way that he would like to be treated?

“And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. …But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.”

So, is the President here saying that it is ok for him to use his strongly held religious belief to raise our taxes, but not to ban abortion? That is really weird since it seems to me the scripture is much clearer about killing innocent’s than it is about the issue of taxes.

In addition, forgetting that this scripture is totally out of context, is he really saying that since Jesus is going to require much of those who have much, we must be taxed to pay for a student loan or someone else’s retirement? Is that what Jesus really meant by this scripture?

I suggest that President Obama familiarize himself with the scripture Luke 10:25 where Jesus says “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” and then to remember that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” James 1:17. Does any of this really belong to Caesar? Doesn’t it all really belong to God?

There are some nice sentiments in the above passage from the Presidents speech, but what I think he is missing is that these passages are directed to individuals. He wants to use them to give authority to the government to enforce them. That is warped and twisted, not to mention very bad theology.

Beside this, we see the government inserting itself in religion in other ways as well, most egregiously in the recent rulings by Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, at President Obama’s bidding where it is now a requirement that health insurance providers include birth control and abortifacient services in the health care plans regardless of the religious doctrine of the organization.

The Health law is being used to put the people of this country in a vice grip and particularly people of faith into a vice grip. The government is mandating that everyone have health care coverage on the one hand and on the other hand is then demanding what that coverage will be and what coverage will be included. This is not so much a problem for those who look to the government as their provider, but for people of faith who understand that God is their provider, it puts them specifically at odds with the government. This is a violation of religious and personal freedom.

We need to be very wary of this president’s use of religion to govern on one hand, but on the other hand trampling on religious freedom that is specifically guaranteed in our constitution. The primary reason that settlers came to these shores 500 years ago was for religious freedom and it was to protect religious freedom that our founding documents were written over 200 years ago. If we do not recognize that religion is being used to stifle our freedom on the one hand and on the other the power of the state is being used to force religious institutions to bow to the whims of the state, we will soon find ourselves in the grip of real tyranny.

The above examples give us the reason that many say that Religion and Politics should not mix, but as I said above, I do not agree with that sentiment. There is a way that they can and must be mixed.

A constitutional republic can only survive if we are a moral people as our faith in God brings out the better angels of our nature. Our faith (even if it is a faith in a false God) causes us to live moral lives and restrains us from doing harm to our neighbors and motivates us to love our families and care for them. All of these behaviors help to build a peaceable society (that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:2), but we must not allow any one faith to become institutionalized at the expense of all others because those ascendant believers trample on everyone else’s religious beliefs.

The trampling of religious freedom is seen throughout history and is specifically why our founders brilliantly made provision for a government that did not favor or institutionalize any particular religion, but encouraged it’s citizens to be faithful and religious. The Obama administration has it exactly backwards, trampling the rights of religion and using religion as a weapon to advance the cause of the government. We must be very wary.

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