where religion and politics meet

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is what one believes about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Countries also have a worldview, a way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Ours used to be Christianity. Now it is secularism, which is practical atheism.

Some of us are trying to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

A religion is not a culture, though it creates one. It is not what you prefer, like your taste in music or your favorite movie. It is what you believe to be true. Because it deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, but the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation and critical thinking.

Every human being has the duty to search for and learn the truth about life. Education and science used to be valuable tools in this search, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb-RztuRKdCEQzgbhp52dCw

If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

rewarding bad behavior

A guest columnist (Nov. 25) lectured conservatives on the 14 Amendment, because many of them don’t believe in “so-called birthright citizenship.”  The question is rightly being asked why children born in our country to people who illegally entered our country should be awarded immediate citizenship.  The columnist cites the 14th Amendment to make his case that these conservatives are wrong and even malicious for willfully ignoring the Constitution when they find it inconvenient.
The 14th Amendment was passed shortly after the Civil War to address the condition of ex-slaves who found themselves in legal limbo in much of the country.  The importation of slaves had long been banned, and this Amendment was written to ensure citizenship for all of them who had been born here. 
This Amendment was never understood as giving citizenship to the Indians or children born here of foreign diplomats, so this Amendment was never understood as giving blanket citizenship to any person born here.  Note the phrase that this columnist just as conveniently ignores himself:  “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”  Children of foreign diplomats are under the jurisdiction of a foreign country, and people who enter our country illegally are certainly not under our jurisdiction either. 

The 14th Amendment was never intended to reward illegal behavior, and continuing to do so only encourages more of it in the future.  . 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is the Equal Rights Amendment a good idea?

The Herald ran an article advocating the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (Nov. 21):  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
There is an old saying: Never say never.  In political terms, that means: Beware of blanket laws that allow no exceptions, particularly when they make broad general statements.
The danger here is that an amendment so sweeping, so all-inclusive can and will have results that were never intended.  Someday a court will apply this amendment to something that the framers of the Amendment never dreamed of.  Today we are seeing a Constitutional Amendment from the Civil War era that ensured citizenship to ex-slaves being used as a driving force for millions of people to illegally enter our country. Another  Amendment passed at the same time written to see that ex-slaves are treated fairly under the law is now being used to redefine what marriage is, even nullifying State Constitutions and laws that had already defined it.
I would expect that at some point this amendment would be used to eliminate all gender based sporting events.  And knowing the government, this would mean that team sports are inherently discriminatory by setting physical standards that will be seen as meant to limit female participation.  Just like the military is being forced to lower standards to allow more women in more roles, sports teams will be required to make accommodations that would admit women.
In fact, all gender based facilities would eventually be phased out: locker rooms, rest rooms, single sex schools.  It won’t be immediately.  In fact, we will be told that this is not the intention and that this will never happen.  But it will.  It may take a generation or two.  Children will be taught complete gender equality from the earliest ages in schools and gender distinctions will be minimized if not ignored. 
I think there is some confusion on this concept of equality.  Are hammers and screwdrivers equal?  Is one inherently better or superior to the other?  Well, it depends if you are working with nails or screws.  Men and women are uniquely different.  As one example, woman can bear children and men cannot.  Should we allow women unique accommodations because of that fact? 

Frankly, I think in many ways a woman is lowering herself in her attempts to be considered equal to men.

How Christianity Prospers a Nation and Why It Is Out Best Hope Part 2: Political Corruption

How Christianity Prospers a Nation and Why It Is Out Best Hope 
Part 2: Political Corruption
Mark Twain said that politicians are like diapers.  They should be changed often and for the same reason.
To say that politicians are corrupt is to repeat yourself.  It’s like talking about wet rain or cold snow.  You’re not adding any additional information.
But does that mean that every politician is corrupt?  Of course not.  Of course, there are exceptions.
But that’s just it.  They’re exceptions.   
Why aren’t we talking about all those noble, honest, trustworthy, and humble people who serve us in politics, except for those few corrupt ones that give them a bad name?
Does politics attract corrupt people?  I have read that it does, but I am inclined to think that people don’t go into politics so they can take advantage of the system for their personal benefit.  But a system that encourages and insists that people promote themselves to even get there and that essentially requires them to spend huge amounts of time just raising money is certainly inspiring behavior that is leading a person in the wrong direction 
I would, however, consider politics one of the hardest jobs there is.  I don’t mean the debating and deciding political issues.  What is so hard is the responsibility of handling the money of an entire nation (or state, city, etc.) and not use it for one’s own personal benefit, the reliance on other people for their money or support and not rewarding these people with benefits at public expense in ways that are not in the public interest.  Politics brings temptations and expectations that few people can handle without bending or breaking. 
The lawmakers make the laws, and the temptation to make laws that benefit themselves over others is very hard to resist.
So if politicians are corrupt, just how does this affect everybody else? 
The biggest way that political corruption affects everybody else is that it makes government cost more than it should.  And remember, government doesn’t make its own money.  The only money it has is what it takes from you, which leaves you less to spend on what you think is important, like your bills, a new car, or your kids’ college fund. The more money government needs, the less money you have for yourself.  Prosperity is not just making more money; it is keeping more of what you already have.
Politicians hire people they don’t need; they pay them more than they should, they spend money they don’t have; using your money as if it was their own, for things that benefit them first rather than you.  Bank robbers wear masks and carry guns.  Politicians don’t’ have to.  They can just vote themselves the money.  And they don’t usually have to worry about losing their jobs.  They rigged that as well by creating voting districts that favor their party and they have their entire time in office to raise even more money so as to put any challenger at a deep disadvantage.  
Besides, they don’t actually have to take possession of the money.  They just have the power to use it, which is all you really need anyway.
The state of Illinois has unpaid bills of about $6 billion and future obligations of around $100 billion.  That money has to come from somewhere, and that can only come through higher taxes, or less money for everyone.  Of course, those who work for government, whether elected or otherwise, get paid first, and they make sure that they are paid very well.
The federal government is over $18 trillion in debt.  They still want to raise your taxes but don’t care quite as much as a state would, because they can print money or borrow money seemingly forever.  The end result, however, is that the money you already have and will earn will be continually losing value.
Christianity makes better politicians or politicians less susceptible to corruption.   Are Christians perfect or immune from corruption?  Of course not.  We’re talking about humans here.  But Christianity understands temptations and provides at least four of the strongest safeguards against it.
1)         Probably the single most important factor in resisting temptation is having clearly defined boundaries.  A boundary is what you have learned and decided before the fact about what is good and right, values that you believe in.  You know that temptations provide some immediate gratification but in the long run will bring sorrow and loss.
When faced with temptation, you also need to have a reason or reasons why not to do it.  A reason that you believe in, a reason that you find convincing.  Without that, the temptation can pull you right over.
This is something that generally requires a comprehensive worldview that provides for you the big picture of life, how things are supposed to be, the ultimate goals of the things that you want and know to be what is best.  Without that, when faced with something very enticing, you will have no good reason not to go along with it.
But with this comprehensive worldview, when a temptation presents itself, it will then be immediately seen as a path leading to a dead-end with regrettable consequences, and the lure will lose its attraction.  In fact, most situations that can be regarded as temptations will not even be tantalizing or may not even be perceived as temptations, because the right course of action will be clear and the consequences of giving in will be clearly understood beforehand.
This is not to say that Christians don’t fall and give into temptation.  When they do, it is usually more of the impulsive kind, the sins of the flesh.  Hardly ever is it the intentional, long term deception which extends far beyond temporary emotions.
We all know, of course, about the ongoing scandals with the Catholic Church and its priests.  My only response is:  what were they thinking when they decided that all of their religious leaders had to be celibates?  There are priests in the Bible, and their lives are just as much of living symbols as the priests today are supposed to be, and they were married.  Marriage is God’s plan for humans with few exceptions, and insisting that those who want to serve God the most in the Catholic Church have to make a lifelong decision to be celibate and usually at a very young ages sure looks like a mistake to me.  But then few priests go into politics anyway.
Christians are constantly taught to strive to be like Jesus in all they do, and they are made to be acutely conscious of the times when they fail.   A big part of being Christian is the wanting to do the right thing.  Christians are aware of their weaknesses, but they generally have a very clear sense of what is right and wrong.
2)         But resisting temptation is more than just being against something.  One needs a higher value that one is working toward, like an athlete who gladly gives up the party life so he can do well in the competition.  The highest value in the Christian life is love, love for God and love for people.  Love is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling, but a desire and intent to do good for others, even at great cost to oneself, a sacrificial giving as Jesus gave them an example by His death for all of us. 
Do all Christians succeed in this?  No, of course not, but this is what they are taught, what the Bible teaches, and what you should expect from any person who calls himself a Christian. 
3)         Christians also believe that God has given them His Spirit to work on the inside of them to enable them to do the right thing.  Do Christians all unfailing draw on this power to live lives that are exemplary? No, of course not.  They are still human, but this is what Christianity teaches, and the vast majority know what it means to have the Spirit of God empowering them to be more than what they would be otherwise.
4)         Christians believe that all of us are accountable to God.  Yes, Christians believe they have been forgiven of all past sins and continually are being forgiven as they inevitably fail, but they know quite well that God isn’t going to overlook any intentional misdoings on their part.  Heck, they get worried even when they do good things, wondering if their motives were really right.
Mark Twain made his comment about politicians and diapers a long time ago, long before our nation officially became a secular nation.  There was no official pronouncement of that fact, but it was in the 1960s that our country essentially changed directions, and government debt not only has been steadily increasing, but growing at a faster rate as time went on.
Does this increased debt necessarily mean increased corruption?  Not at all, but it certainly makes it more important than ever that we elect people more able and more likely to resist the unique temptations that politicians face.  Christianity is what makes that possible.  


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Character and Public Office


The Herald printed an opinion article (Nov. 19) that asserts that character has nothing to do with sexual issues and that it is wrong for the media to call attention to a political figure’s personal life, essentially what a person does in their private life has no bearing on their job.  The author’s primary example is Martin Luther King, who reportedly had numerous affairs, was still able to do his work promoting civil rights, and the media rightly ignored the story.
The writer is right to a point.  I don’t ask my plumber if he is faithful to his wife.  But then again, my plumber didn’t take an oath of office, and neither did Martin Luther King.  Ross Perot made the observation during his Presidential run that any person who would break his marriage vows would break his oath of office.  If you break a promise to the one person you vowed to love and cherish above all else, under the right circumstances, your vow to your country can be broken as well.  He refused to hire anyone on his staff who did anything like that. 

MLK was a private figure fighting for a cause.  Public figures have a wide range of responsibilities with competing interests, and it takes a person of high character not to treat the various interests according to its personal benefits.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

voter IDs and voter fraud

The Herald printed a long opinion article (Nov. 16) critical of voter ID laws.  Frankly, I am surprised we are still having this discussion.  Particularly troubling was the article calling voter ID laws “voter suppression efforts.” 
Voters in more and more states are being asked to show a form of identification to vote, just like people need to do to get a driver’s license, open a bank account, or perform dozens of other common transactions in our society.  Elections are held every two years on dates that be determined years in advance.  Anybody who really wants to vote has plenty of time to do whatever is necessary to meet the requirements.
The article repeats the common assertion that voter fraud is “largely imagined.”  I have seen more articles documenting voter fraud in the last several weeks than I have in years.  Most of the voter fraud has to do with illegal voters and absentee ballots, but I am sure there is much more.
Two recent articles that document this can be found at:

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Christianity Prospers a Nation and Why It Is Our Best Hope Part 1: Christian Morality

How Christianity Prospers a Nation and Why It Is Our Best Hope 
Part 1: Christian Morality
An Indian scholar tells of his first trip to England.[1]  His host took him to buy some milk.  There was nobody there, and they filled their containers with milk from a dispenser.  There was also a bowl of money there.  The man put in his money and took out his change.  And they left.
The guest was astounded.  He said that in India, everyone would have taken both the milk and the money.  He told this story in another country, and they said that they would have taken the milk, the money, and the cows. 
But if the customers are not honest, then the farmer would need to hire a cashier.  And who would pay for that?  The consumer.
And if the consumers can be dishonest, then so can the farmers.  They might water down the milk.  So we need inspectors to check the milk.  And who pays for that?  Again, the consumer, through higher taxes.
But if the consumers can be dishonest, and the farmers can be dishonest, then so can the inspectors.  They can be bought off or they could insist on a little something to overlook something.  And who would pay for that?  Again, the consumer.
So the price of milk went up three times because of a lack of honesty, a sense of right and wrong, what used to be called morality.  But we don’t talk about morality anymore.  That was in the old days when we thought religion had a place in public life, when we thought religion had a place in saying how we lived in our country.
Morality, at least as it has historically been understood, has to do with God.  God created the world and then gave us the rules and directions on how this works and how it is supposed to work.  Without a God, you can talk about legal and illegal, but you can’t talk about right and wrong.  Right and wrong talks about a system of morality that transcends cultures and nations, something that laws would apply in specific ways to different situations.
Morality for most people today has come to center on the matter of sexual issues, freedom from the historical constrains that were seen as unnecessary and outdated hindrances to human freedom and pleasure..  But if there is no God, or at least one that is relevant to society’s values or governmental policies, then there are no rules regarding sex. 
There are still a few carryovers from the time that we had a common morality, like the age of consent for sexual relations, the number of people who can be legally married to each other, and marriage with certain blood or family ties.  But those are being challenged, and in a secular society the reasons against them will not be strong enough to maintain the status quo.
Morality is simply the system of right and wrong.  But who is to say what is right and wrong, especially in a society and government which we are told was intended to be secular?
Today we would say it is society, or our government, which determines what is right and wrong.
But there are at least five problems with that kind of thinking:
1)         There are things that are wrong that will never have laws passed against them.  Gerrymandering voting districts is wrong, but you’re not going to see a law made against it.  Why would lawmakers make laws that are not in their own self-interest?  There are no laws against being unkind or hating people, and there will never be laws against being lazy, selfish, arrogant, or rude either. 
2)         People equate right with being legal.  If there is no law against something, then it must be alright.  We often hear politicians saying that they did nothing illegal.  That means that they broke no laws as they are written, but if the facts were known, everybody would still call their actions shady, deceptive, sneaky, or just plain wrong.
3)         People will wrangle over the letter of the law and not its intent.  If a law doesn’t explicitly describe the act in question, people feel free to do it, but they and you may well know what the lawmakers intended by that law, but because it doesn’t spell it out in those specific words, we are free to do a certain act.
Besides who knows what the intent was 20 years ago, but even still, people will normally be judged by what the law says and not what people think the originators had in mind when they passed it.
4)         Laws can change.  What was right and wrong 20 years ago could be reversed today.  Remember it was the government of Germany which tried to exterminate the Jews.  What, you don’t like Jews?  Someday you could be the one the government tries to exterminate, and who will come to your defense?
5)         The mere fact of having laws isn’t enough to keep people from breaking them.  The fear of punishment is often not enough to stop people from breaking laws.  It takes a higher reason, an allegiance to a higher power, to God who sees everything and to whom we will have to give an account of our lives at some point.  The external constraints of the law can only do so much to regulate behavior.  We have more laws today than at any time in history, and yet our jails are full.
The ethics of our country has always been that of Christianity.  But now that the country has officially turned from that to secularism due to some rulings by that court we call supreme, the country doesn’t have a moral foundation anymore.  You can’t make enough laws to cover all the possibilities of dishonesty, cruelty, deception, harm, evil, or exploitation. 
Christianity prospers a nation by establishing a moral framework that directs human behavior from the inside of a person, that motivates people to a higher standard than just what is legal.  Christianity makes people consider motives and encourages sacrificial living for causes and people beyond one’s self.   Christianity provides a higher law of love for God and people that seeks to do good to people even at one’s own expense. 
Without a society where people want to do what is right or actively seek the good of others, you need a huge government funded by people like you to protect you from everybody else, more policemen, more judges, more jails.  Congress keeps having to pass more and more laws and regulations to cover all the possible ways that people can be dishonest, and businesses incur ever increasing layers of new expenses over the cost of their goods and services to comply with them.
Prosperity isn’t just about making more and more money but keeping more of what you already have.  If government didn’t cost so much to run, taxes would be a lot lower, and everybody would be better off financially. 
Besides, I think all of us would prefer that people didn’t commit crimes in the first place rather than our society having to go through the time, expense, and trouble of finding the lawbreakers, making the case against them, and then paying to take care of them while we remove them from public life. 





[1] Vishal Mangalwadi. The Book that Made your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011, p. 250 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

a letter to the archdiocese of Chicago about schools


Friday, October 31, 2014

Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N. Rush St.
Chicago IL 60611-2030

Re: Catholic schools (closings)

Greetings!

The Chicago Sun-Times a few days had an article about the closing of a number of Catholic schools.

I wrote the following letter to the editor:

More Catholic schools are closing, and we all lose for it.  And, no, I am not a Catholic.  Some might dispute whether the education there is better than in public schools, but having more options for parents is always better than fewer.  Think of it like grocery stores.  Would you rather have only one grocery store to choose from rather than having a number of them compete for your business?
Why are they closing?  Lower enrollment.  But why is there lower enrollment?  The only clue in the Sun-Times article is that “with the economy, people can’t afford it.”
I submit that it is a lot more than just the economy.  We wanted to send our kids to private school, but we couldn’t afford it.  And that was when the economy was good.  The killer is property taxes, 2/3 of which or more goes to pay for public schools.  We need for parents who pay for private school expenses to be able to deduct from their income taxes the amount of those expenses up to at least the amount that they paid for public schools on their property taxes. 
But some will say that we can’t afford to do that.  Besides being unfair to parents who have to pay for education twice, I have long advocated for public education to be paid for through income taxes.  We all benefit when everybody gets a good education.  Wealthier areas could always raise more money through property taxes if they choose, but a good basic education should be paid for on one’s ability to pay for it and not on the value of their property, which has no bearing on their ability to pay taxes on it.
The unfairness of this was made very clear to me during a period of extended unemployment when my property taxes still had to be paid.

This proposal would provide more options for parents and better funding for the schools that need it.

I believe that because taxes, all taxes but particularly property taxes, are constantly being pushed higher due to out-of-control government spending, private schools, like yours, will continue to see declining enrollment.
The fastest ways that I see that this trend can be turned around is through funding public education by income taxes or giving parents school vouchers.  Vouchers will be harder to get Springfield to pass, because it looks like taking money from public schools and giving it to private schools. 

My proposal is for the state to fund a good solid public education for all students through the income tax.  The state would set a dollar amount per student, and this would be raised through income taxes.  The part of the property tax bills for public education would then be reduced by an equal amount.  Wealthier school districts could still raise more through their property taxes.  Then all those parents who send their children to a private school would receive a tax credit up to the amount that they would have owed on their current property taxes for public schools. 

The idea here is: why should a parent pay twice for their child’s education?  This would make a better case, as well as a better sound bite, to push for this change.

As meritorious as I believe my plan to be, I don’t think this is an idea that the archdiocese should push for directly.  It would seem self-serving.  But if Springfield received 50,000 or 100,000 letters from concerned parents, they would probably listen.  You would need to push your people to write letters and make phone calls.  You would also need to make this as easy as possible for them, like providing all the contact information, but I would strongly urge not to use form letters.  I think that blunts the effect.

There is, however, one major danger to this proposal.  Lawmakers as a group cannot be trusted.  There will have to be strict oversight to see that the money raised is the right amount and that it goes where it is supposed to go.

I wish you the best and hope your school system expands and prospers to record levels.

Cordially,


Larry Craig