Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When religious universities lose their moral compass - they give Obama an honorary doctorate degree.

There's a good bit of controversy over Notre Dame's the invitation to President Obama to not only speak at their commencement ceremony but also receive an honorary doctorate of law.

It's another example of moral confusion and relativism infecting the thinking of Christians. Or maybe more accurately, the existence of individuals who are not Christian, in this instance Roman Catholics, running a Catholic higher education institution.

A great analysis of the situation is written by Professor Francis Beckwith who writes in First Things about the invitation. After discussing Obama's stridently pro-abortion positions and actions, Beckwith notes:

So, this is the man on whom the University of Notre Dame wants to bestow an honorary doctorate of laws? But, as we have clearly seen, Obama, in spite of all his personal talents and accomplishments, explicitly and unapologetically rejects the intrinsic dignity of the human person, the proper subject of the natural and canonical laws on which the university’s jurisprudential patrimony rests. It is a jurisprudential patrimony that the university not only claims to believe, it claims both to believe that it is true and that it knows that it is true.

I have no doubt that Notre Dame would never bestow an honorary doctorate in science to an astronomer who vigorously advances the agenda of geocentricity or a chemist who refuses to teach his students the periodic table, or award an honorary doctorate in divinity to a theologian who is an unrepentant apologist for racial apartheid and white supremacy, regardless of what these three individuals may have accomplished or how well their celebrity may be received by the wider culture and its influential institutions.

Why then would the University of Notre Dame bestow an honorary doctorate of laws on someone who for his entire public life has enthusiastically fought for a segment of the human population, the unborn, to remain permanently outside the protections of the law? Not only that, he has also demanded that our legal regime require that his fellow citizens, including Catholics, underwrite the destruction of these prenatal human beings. And not only that, he is right now preparing to remove by executive order protections that were put in place so that pro-life physicians, nurses, medical students, and others in the health care field may not be forced to participate in abortions or be discriminated against for refusing to do so or even harboring such beliefs.

Unless the university does not believe that the Church’s understanding of the moral law is true and knowable, it can no more in good conscience award an honorary doctorate of laws to a lawyer who rejects the humanity of the proper subjects of law than it could in good conscience award an honorary doctorate in science to a geocentric astronomer who rejects the deliverances of the discipline he claims to practice.

At some point, a Christian university must recognize that the truth it claims to know matters, even if the truth is unpopular, and even if the propagation and celebration of that truth may put one’s community at odds with those persons and centers of influence and power that dispense prestige and authority in our culture.

We should defer again to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

There was a time when the church was very powerful—in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent—and often even vocal—sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth [and twenty-first] century.

As the Martin Luther King quote points out, one of the things at sake is relevancy of the church in society. When the church fails to speak and stand for truth, it's good for nothing but to be cast out and trappled by men, to paraphrase Jesus' words. I don't think this will ever be true of the entire church but merely those segments which have lost their saltiness.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Projected federal deficits under Obama make Bush look like a pauper when it comes to deficits.

A graph from the Heritage Foundation comparing federal budget deficits under President Bush to those projected under President Obama is an eye opener.


President Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that his budget would cut the deficit by half by the end of his term. But as Heritage analyst Brian Riedl has pointed out, given that Obama has already helped quadruple the deficit with his stimulus package, pledging to halve it by 2013 is hardly ambitious. The Washington Post has a great graphic which helps put President Obama’s budget deficits in context of President Bush’s.

What’s driving Obama’s unprecedented massive deficits? Spending. Riedl details:

UPDATE: Many Obama defenders in the comments are claiming that the numbers above do not include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush years. They most certainly do. While Bush did fund the wars through emergency supplementals (not the regular budget process), that spending did not simply vanish. It is included in the numbers above. Also, some Obama defenders are claiming the graphic above represents biased Heritage Foundation numbers. While we stand behind the numbers we put out 100%, the numbers, and the graphic itself, above are from the Washington Post. We originally left out the link to WaPo. It has been now been added.

CLARIFICATION: Of course, this Washington Post graphic does not perfectly delineate budget surpluses and deficits by administration. President Bush took office in January 2001, and therefore played a lead role in crafting the FY 2002-2008 budgets. Presidents Bush and Obama share responsibility for the FY 2009 budget deficit that overlaps their administrations, before President Obama assumes full budgetary responsibility beginning in FY 2010. Overall, President Obama’s budget would add twice as much debt as President Bush over the same number of years.

No doubt if Bush were still in office budget deficits would have increased but I don't think near the levels projected under Obama. Partly because Obama is keen on expanding government spending on a wide range of initiatives.

President Bush received much criticism from conservatives for his unwillingness to rein in federal government expenditures. But when compared to the budget deficits projected under President Obama's Administration, Bush's deficits look downright skimpy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pro-marijuana legalization folks not happy with Obama's comments on marijuana.

President Obama who admitted to being a youthful user of marijuana recently commented on the subject and made light of the subject to the consternation of individuals working for it's legalization.

Here's a sample from one disgruntled supporter of legalization of marijuana.

Had Barack Obama merely addressed the question of marijuana legalization with his trademark gravitas at the Open For Questions forum, the sane among us would likely have just grumbled and sighed, disappointed but not horrified. But Obama’s answer to the question was mired in the same outdated War on Drugs mentality that frames this issue as a Footloose-style quarrel between stoners and respectable citizens:

There was one question that voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy [audible snickering] and job creation. And, uh, [Obama snickers] I don't know what this says about the online audience, [audience and Obama laugh] but ... this was a fairly popular question. We want to make sure it's answered. The answer is no, I don't think that's a good strategy [laughing and clapping] to grow our economy.

Politically, this is a staggering miscalculation by the typically savvy Obama; why on earth would you laugh at “the online audience” during the first online town hall meeting in presidential history? Have you forgotten who helped get you elected in the first place? And isn’t this the candidate who finally moved us beyond the ridiculous Clinton-era tap dance around this issue, stating in the debates, “I inhaled frequently… that was the point”?

As policy, however, this answer is outrageous. The justifications for legalizing pot are many and varied, from the unbelievable stress that the drug war places on our criminal justice and law enforcement systems to the fact that such policy has done nothing to curb marijuana use over the last decade; more people are going to jail for nonviolent crimes, while production of opium and cannabis have both doubled and the society-wide rate of use has remained at 1998 levels. But more importantly, the economic crisis and the recent escalation of gang violence in Mexico have punctured whatever puritanical groupthink bubble remains in place to prevent this legislation from changing. We literally can’t afford to waste money and resources fighting this worthless battle anymore.

Obama’s tone-deaf response came within 24 hours of Hillary Clinton’s statement from Mexico that “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.” Thousands of people have died in Mexico City as President Felipe Calderon tries to quell gang violence there; meanwhile, the U.S. has spent about $40 million annually over the last 10 years in its completely unsuccessful attempt to quash American usage. One would think—apparently even a Clinton would think—that the proper response would be to stop fighting a financially wasteful war against a phantom problem and instead find ways to separate American drug usage from the gang culture that currently and necessarily controls supply. This is no different from the agreed-upon need to free ourselves from reliance on foreign energy sources, and, as shown in Mexico, the security issues are equivalent—Obama will soon spend $725 million to bolster border security in response to the violence.

Even more egregiously, Obama laughingly dismissed what would be an instant revenue booster, at a time when the president should be willing to entertain any possible help in that area. A bill proposed by California state representative Tom Ammiano would legalize the sale and cultivation of marijuana for residents 21 and over, reaping an estimated $13 billion in the process. Not every state has the marijuana industry that California does, but imagine if even a fraction of such growth were to reach the other 49.

Obviously, Obama should feel free to defend a continued anti-drug policy if he sees fit. But laughing at the issue and rejecting legalization as he would a child’s request for more ice cream isn’t just bad politicking, it’s an indefensibly glib treatment of an issue that is literally a life-and-death matter. The cry for legalization has extended well beyond the pot-smoking community, and is no longer just a matter of users wishing to be left alone. (It would be a legitimate debate even if that were still the case, of course, but a little agreement from the square community only helps the cause.) For a great number of establishment writers and thinkers, this is no longer an outrĂ© issue of Prohibition-era “morality” versus societal degradation. Unless you’re Obama, apparently, who will likely turn out to be “on the wrong side of history” as the consequences of current American drug policy grow more costly and dangerous.
The legalization of marijuana constituency on the Left (though includes folks from the libertarian side of the Right) upset by Obama failure to push aggressively the Left's social agenda. While I'll be concerned with whatever steps he takes to advance the Left's cause, and there are plenty of them, I think those on the left will be frustration with too little. (Another example from today is Obama's commitment to a build-up in Afghanistan. Tom Hayden in The Nation doesn't like it.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bullying bill little more than ideology and sexual politics

If SF971/HF1198 were about eliminating bullying, I would support it, however the bills are a thinly disguised attempt to force Minnesota public schools to indoctrinate children and school officials into affirming same-sex marriage, and unhealthy sexual behavior.


The mandate will require a curriculum, (conveniently left out of the bill) that will address GLBT bullying. One curriculum that is being used, (under duress at Hale Elementary) is called "Welcoming Schools" developed by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest GLBT lobbying group in the United States. After a careful review of “Welcoming Schools,” it is certain that the techniques, lessons and materials used – do indeed encourage and reward children to question what they are taught about healthy sexual behavior and the definition of marriage and family.

There is no scientific evidence that proves teaching children to affirm homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage will eliminate bullying, but there is a mountain of scientific evidence that shows homosexual sex is unhealthy and that children need a mother and a father.

Schools should be teaching children to affirm healthy sexual behavior and families, not indoctrinating them with ideology and sexual politics.

We can stop bullying without forcing elementary children to affirm unhealthy homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pro-homosexual anti-bullying bill would bully students, teachers and parents.

Homosexual activists are at it again. They're pushing a bill SF 971/HF 1198 which would replace Minnesota's anti-bullying policy, which requires school districts to develop policies addressing all forms of bullying, with one giving specific protections to homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestites, etc. The goal of this policy isn't to address and stop all forms of bullying, something all people can agree with. Rather it seeks to insert "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" into the law so homosexual activists can then pressure school districts to introduce pro-homosexual, anti-bullying programs into the schools. This is a thinly disguised effort to promote acceptance of homosexual marriage, homosexual behavior and gender identity.

An example of this effort is the "Welcoming Schools" curriculum, a Human Rights Campaign creation, currently being pushed in Hale Elementary School in Minneapolis. HRC is the nation's largest homosexual advocacy group. The curriculum is billed as an anti-bullying program which
seeks to address “family diversity, including LGBT families, and it addresses anti-gay bias within discussions of bullying”.

An example of their efforts is trying to
“expand student’s notions of gender appropriate behavior” through such books as "King and King”, a fairy tale of two princes who fall in love, kiss and get married. This book is targeted at kids five and six years of age. You don't think this is trying to indoctrinate kids? It also seeks to evaluate and assess kids beliefs by having them regularly answer the question: “I used to think, but now I know….”

This bullying bill is merely an effort to bully parents and teachers into silence and have kids embrace the homosexual agenda.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is America losing its faith and the implications for society -- relativism and loss of societal stability.

Ken Connor with the Center for a Just Society has an interesting commentary on the implications of a study which says Americans are losing their faith in God.
Unfortunately, shared belief in a transcendent God—the cornerstone of our stable society—seems to be eroding in America today. The recently-released American Religious Identification Survey is an overview of religious demographics in America. Preliminary results show an America rapidly losing its religious faith. Since the survey began in 1990, the number of self-identified Christians has dropped from 86.2% to 76%, and the number of people claiming no religion has risen from 8.2% to 15%. People are losing faith in God at a rapid rate.
I'm sure there are some saying, "Great the less God in society the better." However the lesson of history is the worst barbarianism occurred where God was rejected in a society rather than where he was respected.

The founders of America understand the importance of God to a just and orderly society.
Historically, most Americans have believed that God exists and that He created mankind in his image. They, therefore, concluded that human beings were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and, as the "image bearer of God," people were entitled to be treated with a measure of dignity and respect. Those shared beliefs produced shared cultural norms which, in turn, contributed to stability and order in our society.

America’s Founders recognized the important role that a shared belief in God contributed to the stability of our society. Our second President, John Adams, said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Adams' son, John Quincy Adams (our sixth President), declared, "This form of government... is productive of everything which is great and excellent among men. But its principles are as easily destroyed, as human nature is corrupted.... A government is only to be supported by pure religion or austere morals. Private and public virtue is the only foundation of republics." Both presidents—father and son—understood that a shared belief in God is necessary to produce the shared values required for a stable society. Belief in God was the foundation of the republic. The very freedoms and republican form of government we embrace today require society’s acknowledgment of "the laws of nature and of nature's God" acknowledged by the Founders in our Declaration of Independence.
And a result of the disappearance of God from our belief system results in a relativism and a loss of order and stability in society.
As our shared belief in a transcendent God disappears, our shared moral values inevitably give way to a pervasive relativism. We no longer believe in common moral values, so social norms begin to disappear. Every man is a law unto himself. Radical individualism reigns. We should, therefore, not be surprised when our cultural abandonment of shared values manifests itself in the caveat-emptor business practices which have produced our current financial crisis or the forked-tongued politicking of politicians who will spin any lie or reverse any position in order to pass the buck and keep their jobs. Without shared moral values, every person makes their own morality.
Connor also points to the loss of faith by Americans in our cultural institutions as a consequence of this loss of faith in God.
Likewise, we should not be surprised to find that Americans' faith in our cultural institutions is also faltering. Without shared belief in God, social values disappear, social norms are abandoned, and we no longer know what to expect from institutions like the family, church, or state. According to the General Social Survey of 2008, Americans have lost trust in nearly every single major American institution. The recent poll asked Americans whether or not they have confidence in several cultural and political institutions. The preliminary results have just been released, and the picture is not pretty. Since 1976, Americans have lost confidence in every major cultural institution except for the military. This list includes the scientific community, financial institutions, organized religion, the federal government, the media, medicine, education, and major companies. The percentage of Americans expressing a "great deal" of confidence in organized religion has dropped from 32% in 1976 to 20% in 2008. Over that same period, confidence in the media fell from 29% to 9%. Confidence in Congress fell from a dismal 14% to an even more dismal 11%. Clearly we Americans are losing faith in our cultural institutions.
If we hope to regain a stable, virtuous society, we must first regain a shared belief in a transcendent God. Such belief is the cornerstone upon which common values, social norms, and confidence in our culture are built. Reverend Robert Sirico of The Acton Institute explains this well in his 2001 article "Solidarity: The Fundamental Social Virtue." He states that social solidarity has died because faith in God has shriveled. Sirico writes, "[S]olidarity's surest foundation is faith. A true humanism implies love and respect for each and every individual human person. In a fallen world, however, it is only the recognition of the common fatherhood of God and brotherhood in Christ that will ensure the realization of this important principle." Our lack of faith in God leads to a lack of solidarity with our fellow man.
As Connor and Sirico point out the only way back is regaining our belief in God. It certainly won't come from enactments by Congress or the President.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Homosexual marriage is about a lot more than a small number of homosexual couples getting married.

Here are some interesting anecdotes on what's happened in Massachusetts since homosexual marriage was legalized by that state's highest court in 2003. This demonstrates that homosexual marriage is about much more than allowing a few homosexual couples to get married.

On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced its Goodridge opinion, ruling that it was unconstitutional not to allow same-sex “marriage.” Six months later, homosexual marriages began to be performed.

The public schools

The homosexual “marriage” onslaught in public schools across the state started soon after the November 2003, court decision.

  • At my own children's high school there was a school-wide assembly to celebrate same-sex “marriage” in early December, 2003. It featured an array of speakers, including teachers at the school who announced that they would be “marrying” their same-sex partners and starting families either through adoption or artificial insemination. Literature on same-sex marriage – how it is now a normal part of society – was handed out to the students.

  • Within months it was brought into the middle schools. In September, 2004, an 8th-grade teacher in Brookline, MA, told National Public Radio that the marriage ruling had opened up the floodgates for teaching homosexuality. “In my mind, I know that, `OK, this is legal now.' If somebody wants to challenge me, I'll say, `Give me a break. It's legal now,'” she told NPR. She added that she now discusses gay sex with her students as explicitly as she desires. For example, she said she tells the kids that lesbians can have vaginal intercourse using sex toys.

  • By the following year it was in elementary school curricula.Kindergartners were given picture books telling them that same-sex couples are just another kind of family, like their own parents. In 2005, when David Parker of Lexington, MA – a parent of a kindergartner – strongly insisted on being notified when teachers were discussing homosexuality or transgenderism with his son, the school had him arrested and put in jail overnight.

    Second graders at the same school were read a book, “King and King”, about two men who have a romance and marry each other, with a picture of them kissing. When parents Rob and Robin Wirthlin complained, they were told that the school had no obligation to notify them or allow them to opt-out their child.

  • In 2006 the Parkers and Wirthlins filed a federal Civil Rights lawsuit to force the schools to notify parents and allow them to opt-out their elementary-school children when homosexual-related subjects were taught. The federal judges dismissed the case. The judges ruled that because same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, the school actually had a duty to normalize homosexual relationships to children, and that schools have no obligation to notify parents or let them opt-out their children! Acceptance of homosexuality had become a matter of good citizenship!

    Think about that: Because same-sex marriage is “legal”, a federal judge has ruled that the schools now have a duty to portray homosexual relationships as normal to children, despite what parents think or believe!

  • In 2006, in the elementary school where my daughter went to Kindergarten, the parents of a third-grader were forced to take their child out of school because a man undergoing a sex-change operation and cross-dressing was being brought into class to teach the children that there are now “different kinds of families.” School officials told the mother that her complaints to the principal were considered “inappropriate behavior.”

  • Libraries have also radically changed. School libraries across the state, from elementary school to high school, now have shelves of books to normalize homosexual behavior and the lifestyle in the minds of kids, some of them quite explicit and even pornographic. Parents complaints are ignored or met with hostility.

    Over the past year, homosexual groups have been using taxpayer money to distribute a large, slick hardcover book celebrating homosexual marriage titled “Courting Equality” into every school library in the state.

  • It’s become commonplace in Massachusetts schools for teachers to prominently display photos of their same-sex “spouses” and occasionally bring them to school functions. Both high schools in my own town now have principals who are “married” to their same-sex partners, whom they bring to school and introduce to the students.

  • “Gay days” in schools are considered necessary to fight “intolerance” which may exist against same-sex relationships. Hundreds of high schools and even middle schools across the state now hold “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender appreciation days”. They “celebrate” homosexual marriage and move forward to other behaviors such as cross-dressing and transsexuality. In my own town, a school committee member recently announced that combating “homophobia” is now a top priority.

    Once homosexuality has been normalized, all boundaries will come down. The schools are already moving on to normalizing transgenderism (including cross-dressing and sex changes). The state-funded Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth includes leaders who are transsexuals.

I think the more people hear about the implications of homosexual marriage the more they will be concerned.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rising out of wedlock birth rate and teen birth rate -- another reaons to promote marriage and abstinence until marriage education.

A recent news story points out that the out of wedlock birth rate is at 40% -- a record high. Along with that or an important reason for this is a rising teen birth rates.

The birth rate rose slightly for women of all ages, and births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40 percent, continuing a trend begun years ago. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older.

For a variety of reasons, it's become more acceptable for women to have babies without a husband, said Duke University's S. Philip Morgan, a leading fertility researcher.

Even happy couples may be living together without getting married, experts say. And more women—especially those in their 30s and 40s—are choosing to have children despite their single status.

The rising out of wedlock birth rate is a national crisis, but most people greet it with a yawn. The absence of moms and dads in the lives of their children is a key reason factor behind poverty and criminal activity. The social fabric will continue to fray until this crisis is addressed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You know you are a pastor that has been taken captive if...

The only thing that stands in the way of the legalization of homosexual marriage are pastors who are faithful to God’s design for marriage and family. In Minnesota there are thousands of pastors who have remained faithful but many others have been taken captive by secular dogma.

You know you are a pastor that has been taken captive if…

You believe it’s “hateful” to disagree with a persons’ sexual behavior.
You believe you can’t love someone if you disagree with a persons’ sexual behavior.
You believe that homosexual sex is healthy.
You believe that scientific studies confirm that homosexual sex is healthy.

You know you are a pastor that has been taken captive if…

You believe “civil rights” trumps God’s design for marriage.
You believe God’s design for marriage should not influence our marriage laws.
You believe that God’s design for marriage is nothing more than a list of “benefits and legal rights.”
You believe that the definition of marriage is a secret plot to elect republicans.

You know you are a pastor that has been taken captive if…

You believe that God’s design for children to have a mother and a father is strictly a religious belief.
You believe that a child’s need for a mother and a father is not scientific.
You believe “two loving people in a committed relationship” are the same as a mother and a father.

You know you are a pastor that has been taken captive if…

You believe that God’s design for marriage is “intolerant” or “homophobic.”
You believe “all you need is love.”
You believe that God’s design for marriage is not scientific.
You believe that God’s design for man, woman and marriage is strictly a religious belief.
You believe God’s design for man and woman is not scientific.
You believe that legalizing homosexual marriage will improve God’s design for marriage.

You know you are a pastor that has been taken captive if…

You are afraid to speak the truth.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An implication of homosexual marriage in Minnesota: Indoctrination of kids in the public schools to accept homosexual marriage and behavior.

One of the consequences of legalizing homosexual marriage will be the promotion of homosexual marriage and acceptance of homosexual behavior. With the experience of Massachusetts which has court mandated homosexual marriage, we now have a track record of what to expect.

Here's an example of a book used to promote acceptance of homosexual marriage in a Massachusetts public school. It's called, "King and King."

Here are some excerpts from that book.

Here's the cover of the book, "King and King" that was read to second graders -- without any parental notification. As you can see, it's clearly written to normalize homosexual romance and "marriage" in the minds of very young children.


The book starts out with the Queen nagging her unmarried son, the prince, that he needs to
get married: "When I was your age, I'd been married twice already." Interesting message for
young kids.

The Queen brought in several princesses from various places. They're all portrayed
in a rather nasty manner. And the prince, of course, didn't like any of them. On this
princess from Africa: "Boy, those long arms will certainly come in handy when
waving to the people," said the prince.

But then one princess brings her brother along. The book describes the prince's reaction to her brother in these the two pages below: "At last, the prince felt a stir in his heart. It was love at first sight." (As the princess, naturally, looks confused.)

A few pages later (after a whirlwind courtship) the two princes are shown holding
hands a their 'wedding'. As the text describes: "The wedding was very special.
The queen even shed a tear or two." (Note: We've noticed that 'their parents shedding tears
at their wedding' is a theme that homosexual activists in Massachusetts bring up a lot.)

The book goes on to describe how they're not not just princes, but 'King and King."
And just to rub it in, the last page shows a male-to-male kiss. The message for
kids here is pretty clear. . .

By the way, this book is published by Tricycle Press in San Francisco -- the same company that publishes "Who's in a Family"

This sort of thing will be coming to Minnesota once homosexual marriage is legalized.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Efforts to work a compromise on marriage issue are doomed to fail just as they did for slavery.

There was an interesting op/ed piece in the New York Times on efforts to reach a compromise or accommodation between supporters and opponents of homosexual marriage. I view it as wishful thinking and reminiscent of efforts to reach accommodation on the slavery issue via the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which allowed some states to remain free and some slave. It ultimately didn't hold up.

The authors, David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch, are on different sides of homosexual marriage. The former against and the latter for it. Yet they think we can reach a compromise on the marriage issue. They write:

We take very different positions on gay marriage. We have had heated debates on the subject. Nonetheless, we agree that the time is ripe for a deal that could give each side what it most needs in the short run, while moving the debate onto a healthier, calmer track in the years ahead.

It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.

I don't see room for compromise on this issue, because it addresses the fundamental moral question of the nature of marriage. We can't redefine marriage, because it's not ours to redefine. It's rooted in the created order and the nature of God. We're only fooling ourselves if we think we can violate a fundamental principle of nature and not suffer the consequences. Ultimately, truth will prevail on this issue. Either with re-embracing the true understanding of marriage in our culture and society or we will embrace the chaos resulting from efforts to redefine fundamental human relationships and continue to decline as a society.

In the meanwhile, efforts like the above proposal, which is really just a step down the road towards homosexual marriage, sow the seeds of it's own instability and is unsustainable. I think Lincoln's view on slavery and freedom coexisting is salient in the debate over homosexual marriage and man-woman marriage. Lincoln said our nation would either be all free or all slave. In the same way, we'll be either an all man-woman marriage society or one which eliminates marriage by embracing homosexual relationships.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Looks who's really manipulating science for political purposes -- Obama's embryonic stem cell policy.

President Obama announced he would reverse President Bush's policy on federally funded embryonic stem cell research. He'll now allow the federal government to fund programs which destroy embryos for research purposes.

He claims he's returning science to it's rightful place in the arena of embryonic stem cell research according to an AP news story.

"Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values," Obama declared as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work.

"It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda - and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology," Obama said.

In fact, the exact opposite is happening. Obama is using ideology to distort science and ethics. Science demonstrates that human life begins at conception and despite this fact President Obama says it's OK to perform medical experiments on innocent human life.

Science is also showing ways to use adult stem cell research to provide over 70 treatments for various diseases and conditions. And it's created a way to derive embryonic-like stem cells from adult stem cells. Both of these approaches avoid the ethical issues arising from the performing of experiments on innocent human beings. Of course, this is all ignored in the drive to use innocent human life as a means.

Of course, the extrapolation of this ideology was expressed in the human experiments performed by the Nazis during World War II. Of course, they would have argued they were merely trying to make medical advances.

Ideas do have consequences and dangerously so when ideology trumps ethics.

Friday, March 6, 2009

American College of Pediatricians gives strong endorsement of abstinence-until-marriage approach to sex education.

A national organization of pediatricians, the American College of Pediatricians came out with a surprisingly strong endorsement of abstinence education. I say surprisingly because most professional organizations are usually to the left on controversial topics like abstinence.

Their report said:

The American College of Pediatricians strongly endorses abstinence-until-marriage sex education and recommends adoption by all school systems rather than "comprehensive sex education". This position is based on "the public health principle of primary prevention - risk avoidance in lieu of risk reduction," upholding the "human right to the highest attainable standard of health."[1]

They point out the problems associated with teenage sexual activity:

By every measure, adolescent sexual activity is detrimental to the well being of all involved, especially young women, and society at large. Children and adolescents from 10 to 19 years of age are more at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) than adults.[2] This is due to the general practice of having multiple and higher risk sexual partners, and to the immaturity of the cervical tissue of girls and young women. The CDC recently stated that of the 19 million new cases of STIs annually reported in the United States, 50 percent occur in teens and young adults under 25 years of age.[3] Twenty-five percent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV occur in those under 22 years of age.[4] This translates into one in four sexually active female adolescents being infected with at least one STI.[5]

Bacterial STIs may cause life-threatening cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. Viral STIs which include herpes, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and HIV are generally incurable. Herpes afflicts its victims with life-long painful recurrences, may be passed on to sexual partners even when asymptomatic, and may be life threatening to newborns if passed on at birth during vaginal delivery. HPV is found among 90 percent of sexually active young adults and teens.[6] While often self-limited, HPV has high risk strains that may persist for life and cause cancer of the cervix. HIV not only may cause premature demise, but also significant suffering with life-long dependence on multiple toxic and costly medications. The CDC estimates that STIs cost the U.S. health care system as much as $15.3 billion dollars annually.[7]

Adolescent pregnancy is similarly associated with adverse socioeconomics that have an impact on the family, community and society at large. One in thirteen high school girls becomes pregnant each year.[8] Adolescent pregnancy results in decreased educational and vocational opportunities for the mothers, an increased likelihood of the family living in poverty, and significant risk for negative long-term outcomes for the children. For example, children of adolescent mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birth weight; suffer from poor health; perform poorly in school; run away from home; be abused or neglected; and grow up without a father.[9]

They talk about the emotional scars from teenage sex:

Even if sexually active teens escape acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and becoming pregnant, few remain emotionally unscathed. Overall, one in eight teens suffers from depression,[10] and suicide has risen to become the third leading cause of death for adolescents, paralleling the rise in STIs within this population.[11] Infection with an STI has long been recognized as a cause for depression among teens. More recently, however, adolescent sexual activity alone has been acknowledged as an independent risk factor for developing low self-esteem, major depression, and attempting suicide.[12] In studies that controlled for confounding factors, sexually active girls were found to be three times as likely to report being depressed and three times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to sexually abstinent girls.[13] Sexually active boys were more than twice as likely to suffer from depression and seven times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to sexually abstinent boys.[14] This is not mere coincidence. Scientists now know that sexual activity releases chemicals in the brain that create emotional bonds between partners. Breaking these bonds can cause depression, and make it harder to bond with someone else in the future.[15]

Sexual activity is defined as genital contact. This includes mutual masturbation, as well as oral, vaginal and anal intercourse. While only vaginal intercourse may result in pregnancy, all of these practices may spread STIs, and lead to emotional trauma. Abstaining from all sexual activity is the only 100 percent safe and effective way to avoid teen pregnancies, STIs, and the emotional fallout of adolescent sexual activity. Almost 40 years of emphasis on "safer sex" with "values-neutral sex education," condoms and contraception has clearly failed our young people. The effectiveness of abstinence sex education in delaying the onset of sexual debut, on the other hand, has been demonstrated in rigorous scientific studies. Abstinence education does not occur in a vacuum, making it especially difficult to separate its influence from the opposing influence of the media and cultural milieu. Nevertheless, five out of seven programs recently reviewed showed a significant reduction in sexual initiation rates (two programs showed rates decreased by half).[16] Evaluation of community-based abstinence programs in peer-reviewed journals showed that they are effective in significantly reducing pregnancy. According to an April 2008 report by the Heritage Foundation "fifteen studies examined abstinence programs and eleven reported positive findings of delayed sexual initiation."[17] Reviews by The Institute for Research and Evaluation state that "several well designed evaluations of abstinence programs have found significant long- term reductions in adolescent sexual activity."[18] These do not begin to thoroughly evaluate the hundreds of ongoing programs.

They address the difference between the abstinence until marriage versus comprehensive sex education approach:

In its endorsement of abstinence-based sex education, the College calls attention to the scientific controversies surrounding alternative educational platforms. Most sex education curricula fall into two categories, abstinence-until-marriage or comprehensive sex education programs (occasionally, referred to as "abstinence plus" programs). Recently, abstinence education has been accused of not providing critical health information about condom use. Abstinence education curricula, however, do not discourage the use of condoms; rather they note that chastity obviates the need for condoms. Abstinence education programs do not claim that condoms have no place in preventing STIs. Comprehensive programs, on the other hand, are misleading in the emphasis they place on condom use. These programs give teens the impression that condoms make sexual activity safe. In reality, there has been much conflicting medical literature on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STIs since the 2000 NIH report on the subject and much of the controversy remains unresolved.[19] Teens must be informed that condoms do not offer complete protection from either pregnancy or STIs.

The College position supporting abstinence-until-marriage education, unlike alternative education platforms, also recognizes the unique neurobiology of adolescent brains. The frontal cortex of the adolescent brain is still in development and unable to make the consistently wise executive decisions necessary to control action based on emotional input. Researcher Jay Giedd has stated that, "Until the mid-twenties young people do not have the physical brain capacity to make fully mature decisions."[20] programs that address smoking, drugs, and alcohol use. Emphasis on contraceptive methods undermines the authority of parents and the strength of the abstinence message. This approach reinforces the ubiquitous (yet erroneous) message presented by the media that engaging in sexual activity is not only expected of teens, but is the norm. Adolescent brains are not equipped to handle these mixed messages. Parents and teachers need to "function as a surrogate set of frontal lobes, an auxiliary problem solver" for their teens, setting firm and immutable expectations.[21] Adolescents need repetitive, clear and consistent guidance.

And they endorse involving parents in the sex education process:

As families address this issue of sex education, the American College of Pediatricians recommends that parents be fully aware of the content of the curriculum to which their children are being exposed. The national "Guidelines for Comprehensive Sex Education" that were drafted by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) place strong emphasis on "values neutral" sex education beginning in kindergarten. According to these guidelines, children between the ages of 5 to 8 should be taught not only the anatomically correct names of all body parts, but also the definitions of sexual intercourse, and masturbation.[22]

Overall, these comprehensive programs only emphasize "safer sex." Many comprehensive programs also provide sexually erotic material to teens with explicit condom demonstrations. Other programs suggest alternative types of sexually stimulating contact (referred to as "outercourse") that would not result in pregnancy but still could result in STIs. Some of these activities, depending on the ages of those involved and the state in which they occur, could actually be illegal. These education programs can break down the natural barriers of those not yet involved in sexual activity and encourage experimentation. Additionally, many programs emphasize that teens do not need parental consent to obtain birth control and that teens therefore need not even discuss the issue with them.[23]

Discouraging parental involvement eliminates one of the most powerful deterrents to sexual activity, namely, communication of parental expectations.[24] Firm statements from parents that sex should be reserved for marriage have been found to be very effective in delaying a child's sexual debut. Parental example and "religiosity" have also been found to be similarly protective. Adolescents reared by parents who live according to their professed religious faith [25] and are actively involved in their worship community,[26] are more likely to abstain from sexual activity as teens. Successful sex education programs involve parents and promote open discussion between parents and their children.

The American College of Pediatricians also believes parents should be aware of the current state of funding, and government involvement in sex education choices. Comprehensive programs receive seven to twelve times the funding of abstinence programs.[27] However, according to a recent study by the Department of Health and Human Services, comprehensive programs do not give equal time to abstinence.[28]
And they address the efforts to discredit abstinence education:
In 2004 Congressman Henry Waxman of California presented a report before Congress critical of the medical accuracy of abstinence education curricula.[29] The Mathematica Study was similarly critical of the medical accuracy of abstinence education programs.[30] However, in 2007 the U.S .Department of Health and Human Services conducted an extensive review of nine comprehensive sex education curricula using the same methods employed by Congressman Waxman and the Mathematica Study. These comprehensive programs were found to have no better record for medical accuracy. The HHS review also found that the comprehensive programs were hardly comprehensive. The amount of discussion dedicated to "safer sex" exceeded that spent on abstinence by a factor of up to seven. Some of the programs failed to mention abstinence altogether. None of the programs carefully distinguished between reducing and eliminating the risks of sexual activity, and nearly every program failed to mention the emotional consequences of early sexual activity. Although some of the comprehensive programs showed a small effect in reducing "unprotected" sex (7 of 9 programs) and to a lesser extent in delaying sexual debut (2 of 8 programs), the impact did not extend beyond six months.[31]

According to a 2004 Zogby Poll, 90% of adults and teens agree with The American College of Pediatricians position that teens should be given a strong abstinence message.[32] Programs that teach sexual abstinence until marriage are about much more than simply delaying sexual activity. They assist adolescents in establishing positive character traits, formulating long-term goals, and developing emotionally healthy relationships. These programs increase the likelihood of strong marriages and families - the single most essential resource for the strength and survival of our nation.

Three cheers for the American College of Pediatricians.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The temptation posed by Federal stimulus money for dealing with Minnesota's state budget deficit.

Our state's projected budget deficit over the next two years is projected to increase to $5.87 billion from the $4.8 billion previously forecast. Yet because the federal government will give the state $1.3 billion, everyone is assuming that we only have a $4.57 billion budget deficit.

The problem with this federal money is the temptation to spend it on new programs and even existing ones will only put off the day of reckoning until the next two year budget cycle. The $1.3 billion is one time money and after it's spent will leave an even larger hole in the state's budget which will need to be filled the next time around. Even before the $1.3 billion came on the scene, the state economic forecast for 2012-13 is already predicting a $5.13 billion budget deficit.

How so? Because we have a structural deficit in our spending which never gets addressed. It's just been put off until the next budget cycle. The $1.3 billion for federal government will likely mean that we won't address it now and mean the next budget cycle could be just as painful as this one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Proposed constitutional amendment in Minnesota legislature would weaken accountability of judges to the public.

There's a constitutional amendment bill in the state legislature which would eliminate the constitutional requirement for judicial elections and replace them with retention elections. It's SF 70/HF 224 sponsored by Senator Rest and Representative Simon respectively. It would expand judicial terms from 6 to 8 years, establish a judicial performance commission made up of appointees made by legislative leaders and the Minnesota Supreme Court and use standards approved by the Supreme Court, and replace contested elections at the end of a judge's term in office with a retention election which would allow people to only vote yes or no on keeping them in office.

The bill had its first hearing this week and those supporting it represent a "Who's Who" of the Minnesota political and legal establishment. Former governor's Al Quie and Wendell Anderson, former Senate majority leader Roger Moe, former Chief Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court Russell Anderson and Kathleen Blatz, and current Justices Barry Anderson and Alan Page to name a few.

I oppose bill on the principle of public accountability of judges. The greatest threat to justice in Minnesota is not contested elections but an unaccountable judiciary. That's why the drafters of our constitution included in the Minnesota Constitution contested judicial elections at the end of a judge's six-year term. They saw the exercise of raw, unaccountable judicial power in the US Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision, so in 1858 they inserted a contested elections provision in the Minnesota Constitution to insure judges are accountable to the people.

Until 1913, there were partisan judicial elections in Minnesota, but then the legislature made the elections nonpartisan. And in the early 1960s the Minnesota Supreme Court placed restrictions on the ability of judicial candidates to make public statements on political and legal questions and identify with a political party. Those restrictions were struck down by the US Supreme Court a few years ago.

Now that contested elections are fair game, many judges are apoplectic at the thought of facing an opponent every time they are up for re-election. Why? I think temperamentally judges disdain the idea of raising money and running a campaign. It seems to them unseemly. It makes their role as a judge too political. They also believe competitive elections will reduce the credibility of the judicial system. Judges will no longer be viewed by the public as independent, fair and impartial. Justice be replaced by special interest, power politics.

I personally am not wedded to the idea of contested elections as the only answer to the accountability concern. I think retention elections can serve that purpose as long as the people can also initiate a recall election through a referendum process before a judge's term expires. I think that would insure accountability, because judges would realize they are no longer safe from public scrutiny until their next scheduled retention election. But the bill doesn't do that. It expands judges' terms to 8 years and eliminates the contested election process.

I also have problems with the judicial performance commission provision contained in the bill. It gives the Supreme Court the power to set the criteria by which judges will be evaluated. This means the Supreme Court will set the standards for evaluating their own performance.

I believe there's need to be a truly independent body evaluating judges not themselves. While I believe our current Supreme Court is made up of people of goodwill, I think their self interest as judges will invariably influence their view of what an independent judiciary should look like. And that can and does at times diverge from the public's concern. Allowing the Court to choose the criteria to evaluate judges will insure conformity by judges to standards likely to preclude one of the most important criteria in evaluating a judge's performance -- judicial philosophy. Does the judge understand and practice judicial restraint and not engage in judicial activism?

I noticed the bill's proposed criteria for judges can easily be read to preclude the evaluation of a judge's view of the law and their opinions in regard to judicial activism or restraint. I think this is one of the most important factors in evaluating a judge's performance.

I do think there is a legitimate concern that hotly contested partisan elections could diminish the credibility and impartiality of the judicial system if judges become beholden to particular interest groups. But I don't think that's the greatest threat to justice -- unaccountable use of judicial power is the biggest threat.

That said, I think that direct accountability to the people can be achieved through a retention election process as long as voters can also initiate a recall election at any time during the judge's term. Immediate possibility of recall would definitely hold a judge accountable, probably more than a contested election, six years down the road.

So as an alternative to the proposed bill, I suggest keep judges' term in office at 6 years. Eliminate the judicial performance commission section. And replace contested elections with retention elections which can be initiated by voters before a judge's term expires.

I think this would address concerns about politicizing judges and judicial races while at the same time keeping judges accountable to the public.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The tax man cometh for ... the middle class. So says Krugman.

President Obama is proposing tax increases on the wealthy -- income, reduction of charitable deductions and capital gains -- to pay for his massive spending increases both stimulus bill and general budget proposals for health, and environment.

I've said his increases and those of other liberals who want to see the expansion of government programs and activities, are never limited to the wealthy but invariably include the middle class and the poor. Why? Because the wealthy don't have enough money to pay for everything.

My thought was confirmed by liberal economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times. He loves President Obama's proposed budget but does point out it's contingent on the economy recovering -- it includes rosy economic forecasts. And as an aside he says we can expect tax increases on the middle class.
And even if fundamental health care reform brings costs under control, I at
least find it hard to see how the federal government can meet its long-term
obligations without some tax increases on the middle class. Whatever
politicians may say now, there’s probably a value-added tax in our future.
As President Obama moves us further down the road towards European-style socialism the question isn't if but how much will taxes go up on all Americans.

Monday, March 2, 2009

It makes sense: Homosexual households are not healthy for children.

One aspect of the homosexual marriage debate is the impact homosexual headed households will have on children. Homosexual activists love to showcase lesbian headed households with young children. But beyond the emotional images, how do homosexual headed households really impact children? Negatively, according to Dr. Rekers, a psychiatrist at the University of South Carolina Medical School. I recently came across his 80 page paper on scientific research given in defense, a few years ago, of Arkansas and Florida laws prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children.

His points were threefold. Homosexual headed households result in the following: 1) higher stress levels on children. 2) significant instability of households is not healthy for children; homosexual relationships are much more unstable than those headed up by a man and a woman. 3) role model deficit; kids need a mom and a dad in their lives. Something homosexual households inherently lack.

The negatives of homosexual households on children are merely another reason for not recognizing homosexual marriage -- a central purpose of marriage is the raising of children. If society wants to truly do what's in the best interest of children then it won't encourage placing children in relationship settings which aren't in the best interest of children.

Of course, I can already hear the responses of advocates of homosexual marriage and homosexuality in general. "But heterosexual relationships are getting divorced in record numbers. What about the lesbian couple who've been together for 25 years compared to the heterosexual couple who get divorced after 6 months?" What about it?

One doesn't look to the exception to overturn the general rule. It's like pointing to the 90 year old lady who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day until the day of her death and compares her to the exercise, health food fanatic who dies of lung cancer at age 25. Does this prove that smoking is not harmful for the person? Of course not. One needs to look at the general effects of the behavior not the exception. So too with homosexual household versus households headed by a man and a woman.

And then of course there will be the charges that one's being cruel and hateful to suggest that homosexual households aren't healthy for children. In fact, the opposite is true. If one desires to protect and do what's in the best interest of children - some of the most vulnerable members of our society, the loving thing is to speak the truth and advocate for what's best for children. If one remains silent and does not defend the interests of children when it's within one's power to do so, that's the exact opposite of love and compassion.