Current affairs

Visualize impeachment...

Last week an NPR pundit opined on the U.S. Supreme Court’s strategy to impose sodo-matrimony on the nation. Speaking of last summer’s decision to overturn only part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the pundit explained the High Court “didn’t want to get too far out in front of the people.” This sort of cant is supposed to lull us into believing that We the People and our Injustices are headed in the same direction toward the Promised Land of sexual liberation and tolerance. In other words, the Injustices are in the vanguard as they appeal to the better angels of our nature to acquiesce in homosexual marriage. With gentle nudges, they’re only accelerating the transition from our budding, enlightened inclinations toward actions we would eventually take anyway.

In reality, for the last fifty years the Supreme Court has exercised a debasing cultural and spiritual influence on our nation. Any moral capital the Court won in outlawing segregation in 1954 was years ago forfeited as it rampaged through state law after state law after state law erected to protect the weak and innocent. Abortionists, murderers and rapists on death row, and pornographers have been frequent recipients of the Supreme Court’s solicitude and succor. Then as if that weren’t enough, in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas, homosexuals were enshrined in the constitutional Pantheon. The Court has an insatiable appetite for strong delusion.

A more honest pundit would have said that...


Is Google illegally discriminating against religious organizations?

Under my recent post regarding the Google Apps user agreement for non-profits, a discussion was started about how Christians should respond to terms of service like the one mentioned in the post. Here's my attempt to restate the position of one commenter:

The best way to keep the interpretation of these regulations (and terms of service, clauses, etc) from becoming established in a way that does violence to our understanding of the words used in them is to agree to said regulations and then battle it out in court if the need arises. We all see how Google and others are trying to set precedents that we disagree with, and so we shouldn't simply accept their interpretations, but should instead fight them. So, in this case, Christians should agree to Google's terms of service and then be ready to fight it out if the matter ends up in court.

I hope that I have accurately stated the position of the commenter. Here's my response:

Let's start with the word "discriminate". This commenter stated that "discrimination involves a denial of someone's civil rights." I don't think that's right, and I don't think that's how Google understands the word, either. The word "discriminate" now carries a great deal of negative baggage...


Google's evil karma: user agreements...

Historically, Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana has used Google Apps for email and calendars. It's basically Gmail and Google Calendar for businesses using their own domain name.

Google also gives 501(c)3 non-profit organizations access to Google Apps for free. You just have to submit some documentation regarding your 501(c)3 status. For quite a number of years, we have been using the free edition of Google Apps here at the church.

We continue to use Google Apps to this day. Recently, I needed to reapply for non-profit status with Google Apps. I was in the process of filing the necessary "paperwork" online when I ran into a snag...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 7): Samaritan Ministries and accountability...

This comment under a recent post about Christian health sharing ministries raises a very good point which should be addressed in greater detail. Here's the full comment:

The point I would stress here is that there seems to be a strange exception to the normal vetting process that occurs in dealing with these "ministries".

If a member of your church came to you for advice, and said they had been watching a televangelist with big hair at 2 a.m. on cable TV asking for money, and they had decided to send him $300 per month, you would raise an eyebrow, and politely start asking vetting questions about how the oversight board is appointed, actuarial audits, who is being paid how much, etc. These "health-sharing ministries" tend to get a free pass. Try getting real data, not summary un-audited financials--good luck. They shouldn't get less scrutiny than the company that insures your house, for pete's sake. The new law gives a break--finally!--to large families. Go to healthsherpa.org or kaiser subsidy calculator.org, and see for yourself.

"They shouldn't get less scrutiny than the company that insures your house" is right on, and that's why I decided to place a call to Samaritan Ministries...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 6): Evaluating Medi-Share...

Medi-Share, run by an organization called Christian Care Ministry, is a healthcare cost-sharing program. It's like health insurance, but with a twist: it isn't technically insurance. However, becoming a member of this or other similar programs will exempt you from ObamaCare's individual mandate, so apparently such programs are enough like insurance to satisfy the federal government.

Medi-Share in particular seems to be very similar to traditional insurance, much more so than Samaritan Ministries...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 5): Interested in Samaritan Ministries? I am too...

(Many thanks to Joe Helt for contributing to this post.)

Samaritan Ministries (not to be confused with Samaritan's Purse) is not insurance. If you're going to understand Samaritan Ministries, you must simply put the model of "buying health insurance" out of your mind. In fact, the quickest way to understand the ministry is to understand that signing up for it, instead of signing up for a traditional health insurance plan, makes you a "self-pay" patient.

That's right. The bill for your medical expenses is on you.

That sure sounds scary, right? It does to me. But stick with me. There's good news, too...


ObamaCare: What you need to know (Part 4): Christian health sharing ministries...

With all the uncertainty surrounding healthcare plans made available under Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), many Americans are wondering if there are any alternatives out there. Or, more to the point, is there any way to opt out of ObamaCare and not pay the penalty for not having medical insurance?

The short answer is "yes". According to this page on HealthCare.gov, you can avoid paying the penalty if:


ObamaCare: What you need to know... (Part 3)

For the last few days, I have been on a quest to figure out how to calculate the cost of an ObamaCare health plan. Today, I gave up. At the end of the day, the only way to really find out what the cost of an ObamaCare plan will be to your family is to sign up for one, use it for a year, and then pay your taxes... in 2015. Practically speaking, Americans electing to sign up for an ObamaCare plan must simply submit their application to their exchange to see what plans will be available to them and at what cost. It will be an estimated cost, of course, because the total cost won't be settled until they file their 2014 taxes in April of 2015.

If you're interested in the details, keep reading...


ObamaCare: What you need to know... (Part 2)

A recent comment from Denver Todd on this post is very helpful, and so I'm promoting it to a full blog post:

Just some extra information to help people make decisions about signing up for Obamacare. I am numbering them out of convenience, not in order of importance...

  1. All plans in America that are Obamacare compliant, no matter how they come to you, through an exchange or employer, fund abortions and contraceptives for other insurance customers. The only people who can get around this are church workers, and even then, Obama has narrowly defined what a church is, so that fewer and fewer will qualify for this exemption. A Christian ministry probably doesn't qualify, and neither does a Christian school.
  2. There are a number of lawsuits out there, most notably by Hobby Lobby, that are taking up the issue of business owners funding abortions and other contraceptives through employee health plans.

ObamaCare: What you need to know...

On January 1, 2014, all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. With the deadline less than a month away, it's natural that ObamaCare (officially known as the Affordable Care Act) has been much in the news. On top of the many questions that are to be expected with rolling out such a program, the nation has lived through a government shutdown and the train wreck known as HealthCare.gov.

Despite all the hullabaloo, and at the end of the day, Americans are still left with the task of figuring out what to do. As I began my journey to figure out what to do about ObamaCare, I first wanted to see what the ObamaCare plans entailed. How much did they cost? What did they cover? How did they work?

Answering those questions is not necessarily straight-forward...


No elephant here, SIR!

Elephant skinThe US military has a problem. Sexual assault is rife within the ranks. Senator Carl Levin suggests that it can't be fixed “without a culture change throughout the military.” Sounds reasonable, but I don't know...


Inflammatory rhetoric in the abortion debate...

The Question

Recently somebody posed the following question:

[Why] this incessant interest in abortion? Inviting speakers to preach in church and on the IU campus about "abortion holocaust" and using words like "murder," "killing," "infanticide," "slaughter" routinely in its teaching? ...this kind of constant inflammatory rhetoric is going to take a toll on members and encourage anti-social behavior and criminal acts.

It's a worthwhile question to answer regardless of who is asking it, and the description of the outcome certainly resonates right now. As I answer the question, I'm writing to Christians. In other words, I'm going to assume that we are in agreement about a lot of important things.

First, let's clarify and intensify the question by replacing "anti-social behavior and criminal acts" with the word 'sin.' "Anti-social behavior" in this context means "behavior I don't like," and we aren't worried about that as Christians. "Criminal acts" are more problematic because we know from 1 Peter 2:13-17 that the civil authority has been given to us by God and that we are to obey him. Still, we also know in the post-60's United States that there is a time and a place for civil disobedience. Since most Christians agree there is a time for civil disobedience, let's not muddy the waters with an ambiguous term like "criminal acts" right now.

So here's the question I want us to focus on: are we actually encouraging people to sin by our use of inflammatory rhetoric?

Now we could argue that describing the rhetoric as inflammatory is begging the question, but let's accept that calling abortion "murder" is inflammatory. You can't say anything true about abortion without being inflammatory and this isn't because it's a politically charged issue; it's because it's a morally charged issue. Abortion is one of the most evil practices man has ever devised, and the vast majority of us have been directly involved in this evil. The rest of us...


How to legally traffic children in the USA...

Here is a case that perfectly illustrates the wickedness of our social systems today.

It's not hard to see there are major problems, but which one should we focus on? There are bribes, threats, child abandonment, contract killers, kidnapping, child-trafficking, and it's all going down in Connecticut and Michigan. The number of people involved is mind-boggling. Oh, and it's all perfectly legal.

Woman A gave up some of her eggs.

Woman B and Man C purchased those eggs and paid Doctor D to fertilize them with Man C's sperm, creating babies E, F and G at least.


A proposal for an amendment to the US Constitution...

In a recent email discussion about the upcoming election among Christian friends, one of them asked, "How can anyone not like health care reform?" My response was, "I'm all for healthcare reform. Let's do it again soon. Maybe we could actually work towards a constitutional solution next time around."

Another friend chimed in, questioning whether it was the "right debate" to focus on the constitutionality of the law, saying, "as of now I think its constitutionality is settled." He also cautiously supported Obamacare saying it "seems like a reasonable use of government powers provided that the care delivered meets the appropriate standards."

I felt that my response would be worthwhile to share, and I'm curious what others think about my proposal regarding an amendment to the constitution. Here's what I wrote:


Why I'm not Islamophobic...

This morning I read an article on CNN by Brian Mclaren calling Evangelicals to choose between allowing Islamophobia to spread further or seeking a "more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors." In the article he said, "Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio." 

Let me start with a few facts:

  1. I have had a "real Muslim friend." More than one, in fact. Hi **** and ****. How's your daughter ****? (Names withheld for their own safety.)
  2. I'm no friend of Christian television and radio.
  3. CNN doesn't claim to be Christian. Neither does BBC. Neither does The New York Times.

I've watched a number of news clips and read many articles in the last week that talk about Islam. In fact, I can't seem to get away from them. None of them have been from Christian news sources. Now maybe the news sources can't be trusted, but they are claiming that there has been a lot of violence and even an attack on a US Consulate that killed 4 US citizens. I must confess, Mr. Mclaren, I haven't checked their sources. It could all be a huge hoax. Maybe Christians and other non-Muslims are perfectly safe...


A switch in time that saved one...

To console themselves and shake off their bewilderment and shock of betrayal, many are trying to explain away why Chief Justice Roberts single-handedly amended the U.S. Constitution to authorize Obamacare. Some say it’s “judicial modesty.” Others say it’s upholding the institutional “legitimacy” and reputation of the Supreme Court. Still others say it's a stroke of genius.

Wait a minute. Is modesty supposed to be self-forgetful or self-important? Is it modest for a sentry to open wide the gate when hostile forces launch a sneak attack against the fledgling outpost? Imagine the sentry quietly lifting the entry barrier with one hand, while the other hand points a loaded pistol at the enemy. He then gingerly backs away as the enemy pour in to pillage and destroy.

Well, the sentry didn’t want to call attention to himself!

Where was this precious modesty when Roberts voted to overturn portions of Arizona’s immigration law and berated the City of Indianapolis in cases handed down just days or weeks before? Maybe “judicial modesty” means discreetly electing not to pick on someone your own size, like Congress or the President of the United States...


Quoting the Westminster Standards on public television...

Last Tuesday, Bloomington's public television station, WTIU, broadcast a forum opposing Indiana's 1997 defense of marriage act (DOMA) passed by our legislature and signed into law by our Democratic Governor, Frank O'Bannon. Since then, the Indiana Legislature has gone on to pass another DOMA aimed at further solidifying our state's opposition to sodomite marriage by writing it into our Indiana State Constitution.

WFIU went far afield looking for someone to come on the show who would support the DOMA constitutional amendment. Everyone they asked (including one man in our church who had prior commitments) declined to serve as the loyal opposition to the producer, moderator and other two members of the panel who oppose DOMAs. The producer ended up asking if I'd be willing to do it, so after asking for advice from several, I complied and this is the result. There was much I didn't say and could have, but I was grateful for the work and hope it will be helpful to some of our good readers.

Here's the history of these DOMAs provided for us by an expert in Indiana law and politics...


Bus monitors, bullies, authority, and money...

Yesterday I was reminded of just how rich Americans are. Our conception of money is like that of a Roman general returning to Rome after sacking and pillaging enemy countries. We throw it down on those less fortunate than us in an attempt to make them like us. Or maybe it's an attempt to make us like us. 

By now you've probably already read about the 67 year-old bus monitor who was being harassed by Jr-high students while they video-taped their exploits. When you're in Jr-high it's easy to make fun of people who are old and fat. It's entertaining, too--and not just for 7th graders. Millions of people around the world have been entertained by the video. However, apparently it's one of those guilty pleasures, where you watch and laugh and then say, "Shame on you!" while you hide your smile.

Somebody came up with the bright idea of trying to raise $5000 dollars to send this poor bullied woman on a world-class vacation, and now, with the amount raised in excess of...


Kudos to Lolo...

This past Tuesday ESPN aired a documentary on Lolo Jones, American hurdler extraordinaire. In the interview she mentioned she is a virgin which led to the internet and air waves echoing with snickers...


PCA's RUF chapter now stands alone...

(Chancellor Richard McCartny explaining new non-discrimination policy to Vanderbilt University Town Hall Meeting)

MCCARTNEY: I’m Catholic. What if my faith beliefs guided all of the decisions I make from day to day? ...As a Catholic, if I held that life begins at conception, I’d have a very big problem with our hospital. Right? Would I not? . . . I would, but I don’t...

The Presbyterian Church in America's Reformed University Fellowship now stands alone in complying with Vanderbilt University's new non-discrimination policy...