where religion and politics meet

Everybody has a worldview. A worldview is what you believe 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.

Nations have worldviews too, a prevailing way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Politics is the outworking of that worldview in public life.

Our country’s worldview used to be Christianity. Now we are told it is and has always been secularism, which is practical atheism. This issue divides our country, but those who disagree are divided as well on how to respond.

Our country could not have been founded as a secular nation, because a secular country could not guarantee freedom of religion. Secular values would be higher than religious ones, and they would supersede them when there was a conflict. Secularism sees religion only as your personal preferences, like your taste in food, music, or movies. It does not see religion, any religion, as being true.

But God, prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments were always important parts of our public life, including our public schools, until 1963, when the court called supreme ruled them unconstitutional, almost 200 years after our nation’s founding.

Our country also did not envision a multitude of different religions co-existing in one place, because the people, and the government, would then be divided on the basic questions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Our Constitution, which we fought a war to be able to enact, states, among other things, that our government exists for us to form a more perfect union, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. It could not do this unless it had a clear vision of what it considers to be true, a vision shared with the vast majority of the people in this country.

I want 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.

Because religion deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, though the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation, critical thinking, and a hunger for what is true.

Science and education used to be valuable tools in the search for truth, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions of life without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary, possible, 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.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues. Many of the newer articles are shorter responses to partiular problems.

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:


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

Thank you.

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.

Church and Politics

Mary Mitchell (Oct. 28) raised the issue of church and politics and thinks they are a bad mix.  The truth is that churches had always been involved in politics for most of our nation’s history, including the endorsement of particular candidates.  It was only in 1954 when Lyndon Johnson added the Johnson Amendment to a totally unrelated bill that put a ban on tax-exempt organization from doing so.  It seems that they were endorsing the wrong candidates.

Religion, especially Christianity, is about a lot more than just what someone does in their personal life.  What happens in politics affects every part of our lives and can influence and effect more change in our society than all the sermons churches can ever give.  Politics are also a reflection of the collective morality of our society.  Political policies not only can show the state of our nation, but they can change it as well.

It doesn’t make sense for pastors to try to teach their people personal responsibility like not going into debt and yet say nothing when these same people might vote for politicians who feel compelled to spend billions of dollars they don’t have because they don’t believe people are able to take care of themselves.

Church involvement in politics is the Church showing its constituents how what it teaches applies to real life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Understanding Washington

A reader (October 18) voiced his opposition to Republicans in Congress, calling them obstructionists and unproductive.
What the media isn’t telling anybody is that this same Congress passed over 350 bills last term that the Senate didn’t take up.  Many of these bills passed unanimously or with bipartisan support.
The House focused on particular problems that they could debate.  Democrats (read: Senate in this case) don’t like small bills, because people can read and understand them.  They like huge comprehensive bills that have to be passed in their entirely.  That way they can get a lot of things passed that would never pass on their own.  They want bills that are too big to read, let alone discuss and debate.
As for the particular issues the reader brings up, most involve a basic principle which divides our country.  Democrats believe that the government has the role and responsibility to protect and provide for its constituency and to solve all the problems of society, by passing laws, making regulations, and creating new government programs and agencies.  This used to be the role of the individual, family, friends, churches, and community. 
As the government has increased its role, it has also increased the number of people who depend on the government for its help and services.  The government is now trillions of dollars in debt, and financing this debt drags down the economy and devalues the money that we use.  The government needs and takes more and more money out of the economy to pay for all these things, and the country keeps moving in the direction of socialism. 

Is that such a bad thing?  It’s a choice between security and prosperity, government control and freedom.  The more security and guarantees that a public demands, the less prosperity and freedom it will enjoy.  Our country was built on prosperity and freedom.  The Democrats want the security and government control.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why People Commit Crimes

A local newspaper ran an editorial recently offering suggestions for reducing our prison population.  Like almost all solutions offered for public problems, what we need to do is to hire more government employees.  So let’s hire another hundred workers at $80,000 a year, and, oh yeah, don’t forget to add another 50% for their pension costs.
But nobody seems to be asking why so many people commit crimes in the first place.  Does anybody still remember when people didn’t lock their doors or their cars?  And I grew up in Chicago, not some small town in the middle of nowhere.
When people used to ask the question about a person’s behavior, the answer was always in the upbringing, how the person’s parents raised them.
But wait.  We have normalized single parenthood, where people don’t have to get married to have children, and fathers don’t need to be in the home to help raise that child.  There used to be a stigma here, but that was considered judgmental.  The government is very willing to provide whatever financial assistance a person needs to raise that child by themselves.
We have also normalized women working outside the home.   First we did it by telling women that they needed careers to be happy, fulfilled, and equal to men.  Then we did it through our economic policies that sent millions of good paying jobs overseas, so that the only jobs left for most people are grocery stores and fast food restaurants.  Our economic policies also replaced fulltime jobs with parttime jobs, so as a result of our policies, spouses no longer could afford to stay home to be with their children.  Everybody has to work just to make ends meet.
In addition we normalized abortion, so children took on more the status of pets rather than human beings created in the image of God which we are privileged to bear and raise.  As long as we feed, clothe, and provide them with a place to stay, we have fulfilled our responsibility as parent(s).
Our schools used to teach values, but this was done in the context of religious beliefs, specifically Christianity.  But the court we call supreme said that the government cannot aid religion in any way.  Some people who have studied American history will ask what the bleep schools have to do with government anyway.  Our First Congress had Bibles published to be used in our schools, and they were used there from before our nation’s founding until the middle of the 20th century, or over 400 years.  And now this is unconstitutional? 
So the only values we teach our children today are tolerance, fairness, equality, and diversity.  The last three are all functions of the government, so the only responsibility we teach our children is tolerance, which means essentially ignoring your neighbor, not caring or getting involved in the lives of other people.  It’s none of your business. 

We used to teach our children to love their neighbors.  It shouldn’t be surprising when we see that they don’t.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Voter’s Guide to American Elections

A Voter’s Guide to American Elections

Politicians have made things very easy for voters, except, or course, in primaries where you might really need to ask a lot of questions with candidates from the same party running against each other,  But other than that, you are voting for the party and not the candidate.
Gone are the days when you could evaluate candidates by comparing their views on a long list of issues.  The two major parties have solidified philosophies that guide their overall decision making, and they are polar opposites.  And while individual politicians are all unique and have positions all across the spectrum, they still vote with their parties the vast majority of the time, which is why they are in that party.  So while there will always be individual exceptions to these characteristics of the parties, they are still pretty true overall.
Democrats believe that the government has the responsibility and the ability to solve every problem of society.  This is done through regulations, laws, government programs, and executive orders.  These all come with economic costs and losses in personal freedom. 
Democrats see society as groups of people all with unique and specific needs that require government intervention to see that everyone is taken care of.  Rights used to be things that you could do without government intrusion or things that the government could not do to you.  Now rights are defined as things that you are entitled to and that it is the government’s responsibility to see that you have them. 
A distinct part of Democratic strategy is to identify a group of people and give them something.  It doesn’t matter what it costs, if it can be paid for, or how it affects everything else.  This group will then vote for them forever to keep that one thing regardless of how this affects anything else.
These beliefs about the role of government drive the need to always seek new sources of revenue:  higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, more things to tax, more fees for regulation, more penalties for noncompliance, and more loopholes (I mean deductions) to close.   A former President described the government’s view of the economy this way, and this was at a time when the Democrats and the Republicans had a lot more in common: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
Democrats believe in diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism.  That essentially means that Western or American culture is no better than any other culture, and there is no need to teach it in our schools to our children.  All cultures, religions, and traditions have equal value, except Christianity which is viewed as Western, white, and oppressive.  
To respect all these different cultures, the guiding moral philosophy of Democrats is equality, tolerance, diversity, and fairness.  The only responsibility of the citizenry is tolerance, which is meant to discourage personal involvement in the problems and life of society.   Government has the role of overseeing society and making sure that everything is equal, diverse, and fair.  Individual success and achievement is not as important as the success and achievement of the groups as a whole.  
Democrats believe that the basic governing principle for the founding of our country was equality, though the government didn’t always have the power to enforce it.  Evil, greedy people and corporations have always been able to take advantage of a weak government to take advantage of others for their personal gain.  We are now seeing government with the strength and tools necessary to correct these inherent flaws to the American system.
The vision of Democrats for an ideal society would still have the richest 1%.  They can’t get rid of them, but they are always a good source of tax revenue and campaign contributions.  Below that would be a large and growing army of government employees.  These are, to be sure, paid above the private sector to gain their loyalty, political support, and firm opposition to any attempts to shrink the government.  As for the rest, the goal is to have as many people as possible receiving some kind of government assistance, because they will always vote for the ones providing and protecting it.
Democrats think Americans have an inflated view of themselves and need to think more globally and blend in more with all the other nations...  It wouldn’t hurt if we reduced our economy if others could gain.  The success of the United States economically in the past was essentially due to greed, exploitation, and racism.
Republicans see the Democrat’s narrative as a new invention, reinterpreting the history and values of our country in an attempt to make something entirely different.  Republicans believe we live in the greatest nation in the world, but we have been declining for generations under Democratic policies.
Republicans see the country as losing its original vision and sacrificing its greatness, while the Democrats see the country as finally regaining its original vision of equality.
Republicans use the word ‘traditional’ a lot in public, but it is code for religious or Christian. 
While the Republican Party is hardly Christian, the traditional values were distinctly Christian values, and these values were embraced as they were seen as the cause of our country’s rapid and enormous economic prosperity. 
Republicans believe in religion, particularly the Judeo-Christian ones, because they teach love and morality, which reduces crime and promotes a strong bond in our society.  Religious people are less dependent on the government, because they have a strong support system and believe they are responsible for their friends and families and people in need.
Republicans believe in Christian morality, because it teaches values that built our country, like love, compassion, sacrifice, giving, responsibility, hard work, honesty, integrity, courage, and loyalty.   Christians believe in loving your neighbor; tolerance is just another way of saying ignore your neighbor.
Republicans believe in traditional families, because people who are married work harder and are less likely to live in poverty.  They believe that children raised with both of their natural parents do better in life.  They believe that strong families reduce the need for government programs that take money out of other people’s pockets.
Republicans are pro-business, because they believe the best way to help a poor person is not to give him money but to give him a job. 
Republicans see any money given to the government as money taken out of people’s pockets and lowering their standard of living.  They do not see government spending as a boon to the economy, because it leaves less money in the pockets of everybody else, and any borrowed money to finance this ends up devaluing the money we already have.
Equality for the Republicans is an equality before the law, where there is no longer a royal class as they still have in parts of Europe.  To a Republican, Democrats would rather everybody be equally poor, dependent on the government rather than everybody being free and encouraged to achieve their best.  They believe that every individual working to achieve their own success will produce more prosperity for everyone than any other system, though certainly some will always end up with more than others.
The Tea Party, though separate from the Republican Party, aligns itself with the Republican Party, because our politicians have made having more than two political parties unworkable in our elections.  A third party would usually require a runoff election or some equivalent to get true results.  Now a third party candidate allows someone to win an election with less than a majority vote.
But the Tea Party has the same basic beliefs as the Republicans, but they believe that our country is near a breaking point economically and morally and that we need to act quickly and decisively now to avoid some very serious consequences.  Republicans have not tried hard enough to support these principles.  The Tea Party believes that if your spouse has a spending problem and has maxed out all the credit cards, the answer is not to take out a new card with a lower limit but to stop using credit cards altogether. 

Every election is becoming more important than the last one, as policies that are enacted shape our society in ways that make reversals harder to imagine.