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.

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



Friday, October 31, 2014

Raising the minimum wage in Illinois

If the Democrats are the party of the people, looking out for the common man, and they believe that the minimum wage should be raised, then why haven’t they raised it already?  They control the House, the Senate, and the Governorship.  They could have passed this months ago.  They make it sound like the Republicans are keeping it from happening. 
Why are they doing nothing on this until after the election when there is a good chance they might not have the majority they now have?  The obvious reason is that they are trying to get more of their voters to vote, having them think that by voting it might make a difference.  But since it doesn’t, it shows that they think people who will vote for the minimum wage really don’t know what’s going on.
Actually by waiting on this, they are showing that they don’t really care about the minimum wage.  They were just looking for something to try to make the Republicans look bad. 
There is also the possibility that in their hearts the Democrats know that raising the minimum wage will not really help anybody in the long run, as it will force price increases in all retail food stores and restaurants.  That extra buying power will disappear very soon after the minimum wage takes effect.  Maybe by having the people vote on it first, then if the vote is overwhelmingly in favor, they can pass it and then blame the public when they see the unintended consequences of their action.
Of course, they might just pass it in the lame duck session after they have used up the issue or maybe just to spite the Republicans if the Republicans win.
By the way, the rest of us need to get on the politicians to end the practice of lame duck sessions where they pass laws that would never pass before the elections.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

School Funding and Property Taxes

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 and property taxes still had to be paid.

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fixing Elections

The Sun-Times ran an excellent article Oct 26 profiling Chad Grimm, the Libertarian candidate for governor.  At the same time, the article also noted a few things that should enrage every Illinois resident.  Me, I am doubly outraged.  Why?  First, because the article points out some facts about our election process that are just wrong.  But that’s why you should be enraged.  I am enraged because the newspapers haven’t said a peep about these things and have allowed them to go on forever, and now the next election is only a few days away. 
Our lawmakers are supposed to represent us, but then after they are elected, they make it as hard as possible for anyone else to ever take their place. 
We have 13 million people living in Illinois, and we have essentially only two candidates to choose from.  Two, out of 13 million people.  We need to have more choices.  What’s the point of a democracy if they only give you two people to choose from?
We do have this third party candidate I just mentioned.  But in most states, including Illinois, the system is rigged against him.  How?   Third party or independent candidates rarely can gain the same exposure as regular party candidates, so in most cases they only take votes from one candidate which essentially gives the election to the other candidate.  In states like Illinois, having three candidates in one race means that someone can win the race with as little as 34% of the vote.  That means someone can win an election with a little more than 1 out of 3 votes.  And this is supposed to be a democracy?
People who believe in this third party candidate almost always know that their candidate doesn’t have a chance at winning, and they are faced with the pragmatic issue of whether to vote their conscience or to vote for their number two choice who has a better chance of winning.  If a state had a runoff election between the two top vote getters, then independent or third party voters are more likely to vote their conscience, and we will then see more elected officials outside of the two major parties.
This article in the paper also points out two other ways that our lawmakers, our representatives, have made things difficult for anyone outside of their parties to run for elective office.  Apparently candidates who don’t have established party status have to get more signatures to get on the ballot.  And why should that be?  And why does a candidate need to be part of a party anyway?  And why should a candidate even need signatures to be able to get on the ballot? 
Signatures don’t represent people who actually want you to win.  They are just people who think you should have the chance to make your case.  They are not supporters whose numbers make you a viable candidate.  They are just people who believe in the process and whose signature you were able to get at a great cost in time and money.  This has no bearing on your qualifications or fitness to run. 
I considered a run for Congress.  The Republican primary had passed, so I would have had to run as an independent.  But why should I need to get more signatures than someone who is a Republican or a Democrat?  I have a fulltime job.  Trying to collect signatures requires a huge amount of time and does nothing to promote a candidate.  The system is set up pretty much so that only the very wealthy or the very connected can run for office.  Where is the chance for Mr. Everyman to have a voice and to run to represent his neighbors?
This article also points out that candidates from a lesser or no party are limited as to when they can even start raising money and when they can start their campaigns.  So how does this help us get the best representation in Springfield or Washington? 
Now all these are the reasons why everybody should be angry at our political leaders.  They are not out for us but for themselves.
But I am angry at something else as well.  So if the lawmakers make the laws and they make unjust laws, how do we get them changed?  Or maybe I should ask: how do ordinary people who have fulltime jobs and family responsibilities take on the entire political system and demand change?
Whatever else they may do, I believe one indispensable force for change is the newspapers and other news media.  I believe they have the responsibility to make the public aware of the issues and then to keep focus on them until those in power address these issues.  I believe the newspapers and other media are supposed to be the voice of the average person.  But I don’t see this.  At least not near enough. 
Is it because newspapers and other news media are only supposed to report the news?  That can’t be the case, because half the paper is columns from people expressing their opinions.  But if the newspapers and news media don’t do this, who will?  Change hasn’t come yet, and who is in a better position to say and do something about it? 
The lawmakers make the laws, and they have made laws that benefit and protect themselves first.  The system was set up originally so that we can vote them out when they need to be, but they changed the system to make that as difficult as possible.  If we can’t get our representatives to listen to us, then we need to try to get the newspapers to.    
We’ve always been told to write our Congressmen, our Senators, and our Representatives.  And we should.  But I believe we should also be writing our newspapers, talk show programs, and everybody we know.  I send letters constantly to the newspapers, and maybe one in ten gets printed in the paper.  But I don’t write them hoping to get my name in print.  I am hoping somebody will just read them.  Newspapers don’t just print the news, they also decide what news to print.  They also have columnists who do get their opinions in print on a regular basis, and we should write them too.
A lot of people think they can’t make a difference, so there is no point in trying.  I submit that you never know the difference you are making in the world or in people’s lives.  I submit that the world is changing, and you are not going to like the changes.  If your children’s lives were in danger, I believe you would risk your life to save them, even if the chances of doing so were very, very slim.  John Adams, our nation’s second President, put it like this:
“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.”
I say: You need to get involved so your kids can have a better life than we do now.

Or, like I told a friend at work: what are you going to do with your life? You can go partying or you can change the world.