Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Convictions over Refugees

As a result of America’s failing leadership in the Middle East (largely caused by a foolishly unprecedented removal of troops from Iraq), ISIS has become a destabilizing threat to the region and now the world. Exhibit A to that conclusion is the recent attacks by ISIS in Paris, France. ISIS has not only brutally taken over large portions of Iraq, but also threatens the sovereignty of Syria and any nation that does not submit to their Sharia demands. Their bloodthirsty assault not only involves genocidal mass-executions of Christians, but tyrannical subjugation of Muslims. As a result, thousands upon thousands of refugees are streaming out of Syria into Europe creating a refugee crisis that must be addressed. Unfortunately, our leadership’s first response is to continue employing divisive tactics at home that logically jeopardize our national security even further. Today, America reluctantly decides to lead – and when we do, we tend to lead against our own interests. The latest divisive tactic is to guilt the American people into importing thousands of Syrian refugees in spite of the numerous current examples of ISIS jihadists infiltrating refugee ranks. In addition, our most recent terrorist attacks in America and in Paris were plotted and carried out by Muslim refugees. Instead of working together in leading our people to address the crisis with appropriate leadership, the administration is wasting energy on distracting away from what we can agree to do, into dividing us over what we might be very unwise in doing. Ironically, some Christians are joining in employing a similar tactic.

The divisive tactic used in this political debate is the Logical Fallacy referred to as the Faulty Dilemma or Either/Or thinking. This is when one side tries to win the argument by manipulating the other side through guilt or conviction through falsely making them choose between one of only two options that the manipulator has pre-selected. In this case, either you agree to import these refugees or you are being a bad American, or a bad person, or even a bad Christian. The problem is that there are almost always more than just two options. And, as is the case in this refugee crisis, there are even more than just one right option – there are several right or Christian options.

For example, one alternative option is for us to care for, house, feed, and sustain refugees in “safe zones” in their own region. This is the most prominently used model throughout history and can be accomplished through diplomatic yet forceful negotiations with our allies. And, the most wealthy of nations are those in the region who are also Islamic. We can finance this through diverting American foreign aid away from Iran, inspiring individual contributions, and/or advancing the activities of the church and para-church organizations like Samaritan’s Purse (already assisting these refugees). Such a solution would also be much more frugal than transporting refugees here. To those who are focused on convicting others via the false dilemma, how is this alternative option any less Christian, moral or American than the one for which you advocate? To my Christian family, we should not be engaged in publicly dividing Christians via guilt inspired through a false dilemma. Here is a clue: if a politician is advocating for something by employing guilt over two options, don’t join in – they are probably deceiving us. Politicians are rarely motivated by the Holy Spirit as evidenced by their intent to divide. As Christians, we don’t take our cues from politicians who distort the scripture narrative. Instead, let’s pray and individually obey the Holy Spirit on the matter. And, to our non-Christian friends, don’t invoke the Bible on any one issue unless you are prepared to be invoked by it on other issues. You should refrain from manipulating via Christian narratives if you are offended when the favor is returned.

That brings us to the narrative that is being distorted in this case - the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Aside from the problem of a politician being the last person who should invoke the Good Samaritan narrative (a.k.a. the proverbial “pot calling the kettle black”), that narrative was never meant to apply to nations. Jesus shared this parable with individual followers to implore us individually to love our neighbor, especially neighbors who hate us for religious and/or ethnic reasons. But, that does not give us a pulpit to browbeat those who disagree with us. If the parable is to be a bully club, it is to be self-inflicted, not inflicted upon others. We were never asked by God to manipulate political agendas by way of wrenching His word into a venue for which it was never intended. Rather, we are called to inspire our fellow brothers and sisters to join us in following Christ in His teachings. That does not take the form of guilting others into supporting a politically motivated faulty dilemma. It takes the form of personal service that inspires other to join you. In other words, if you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to help refugees, then you should help refugees. Publicly cajoling Christians into supporting political gambles is not faithful to the parable. Actually, individually serving refugees is.

We can be Good Samaritans without risking the lives of others. The big problem with advocating for bringing refugees here is that we are called to risk our own lives, not risk the lives of others. It is one thing for me to risk my life for refugees, but wholly different to advocate the risking of the lives of other American families/children against their wills. God never calls us to do that. It is a 100% likelihood that among any group of refugees from Syria, there will be ISIS jihadists. In fact, many have already been arrested among the refugees. And, innocent Americans have already died at the hands of refugees in recent months. If we import them, innocent women, children and men will die. Christian, that is acceptable if it is you and me who die. But, we have no right to impose such risks on others. That is precisely why we as Christians should probably not use scripture to guilt the nation into dangerous options that were meant for only us to take individually and as a Church. By the way, if you advocate for the separation of Church and State, you should be applauding right now.

One last point is regarding our motives. We should love and care for refugees without condition. And, if we desire for them to hear the gospel, America may not be the best place to transport them. After all, if this is done under the dictates of our current government, it is more likely that the present attitude towards censoring Christians will be the rule, not the exception. This government and the nation-at-large, seems to be very unsupportive of free speech for Christians when taxpayer dollars are even remotely involved. We will be much more able to openly share the gospel (the deepest expression of love and care) through humanitarian effort in their region than we can here at home. That is a sad admission, but fairly reasoned.

In summary, we can mobilize and care for refugees in their own region without opening our borders up for ISIS to take advantage. To Christians who have strong conviction on the matter, you are joined in praising God for your conviction. And, be encouraged to channel that conviction into personal action through personal sacrifice and/or service. In other words, do something about it. Convicting others is not doing something – unless unnecessary division was your goal. After all, not all Christians are called to serve these refugees. Regarding division, 1 Corinthians 1:10 implores us, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” Now, go and be strong in obeying your conviction personally. But, your first conviction with spiritual family must be unity.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Free College and the Resurrection of Fascism

Fascism is defined in the Dictionary as “a governing system forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” As a historical movement, fascism gained prominence in Italy during the run up to World War II as a prominent feature in the axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. The racism that resulted was genocidal. The suppression of free speech was suffocating, including the burning of books that remotely expressed ideas of opposition. And, the fruit of this ideology was so grotesque, it left the world to resolve that it would never happen again … until now.

Earlier this month, a movement began on our American college campuses that if not thwarted soon, could produce fruit that is similarly toxic to the freedoms that America represents. While the movement had various credits to its beginning, it found widespread prominence with the abrupt resignation of the President of the University of Missouri along with two other faculty members. By way of background, there were three incidences of alleged racism on campus, two of which were never substantiated. The one that was substantiated, was never proven to be racially motivated, nor was the culprit ever identified. Certain activist groups on campus started demanding specific actions of monetary reparations towards minorities. The President was slow to respond resulting in students calling for his resignation. After a large portion of the football team threatened to boycott the upcoming game unless the President resigned, he appeased their wishes and resigned. This failure in leadership to stand up to intolerant student bullies resulted in a virus that spread to other campuses. Students walked out of classes under the guise of a “Million Student March.” They set up “free speech zones” where speech was in fact not free. They even denied the press their Constitutional freedoms. And, certain students were openly and violently punished for their stated views. As a result, racism reigned not in the faculty but in the students claiming to oppose racism. For example, on the campus of Dartmouth, black students were caught on camera screaming insults at passing white students, “F*** you, you filthy white f***s!'” and “F*** you, you racist s****!” That is racism on ugly display, but not by faculty. This is the beginning resurgence of fascism at the hands of those apparently poorly-educated in the subject of history. Allow me to illustrate this conclusion.

It is fascism that seeks as its means to its ends, to deny the freedoms of others. How ironic that “free speech zones” on college campuses are precisely where speech is censored and violently denied. Here is a newsflash: America is entirely a free speech zone! Stop trying to change that. Instead of denying the speech of those you disagree with, for the sake of freedom, respect and honor the freedoms of others. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Which brings me to the richest irony of this sad chapter in American history. The demands of these college students include “Free college for all!” But, before anyone can effectively demand "freedom", they should start by honoring the freedoms of others, especially those who disagree. It is the very nature of this demand for "free college" that glaringly illuminates the protesters’ immaturity. What they are demanding with threat of fascist uprising is socialism. But, socialism is never free.

Probably the most important lesson we learned in Business School is this: There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always has to pay. Whenever you hear politicians or poorly-educated college students advocating for free anything, you are about to either be deceived, robbed or both. Either way, your attentions are better served elsewhere. Socialism, like fascism requires that we deny freedoms of others, if not all, under the lie that all will be free. All is never free.

On that point, Christian, as much as your heart might scream at you otherwise, socialism is not aligned with Christian theism. Jesus is not a socialist, but a King and benevolent dictator. Jesus imploring us to individually give to the needy is not advocacy for State-sponsored socialism. Individual charity is not socialism. And socialism results in suppression, the exact opposite of charity. For example, the Parable of the Talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30 is a pretty clear example of economic freedom on approved display, not suppressive socialism. And, there are many more examples just like that one where Jesus advocates for freedom, including economic freedom.

By the way, under Christian Theism as well, there is no free lunch. Someone has to pay. But, under Christian Theism, that someone is Jesus. Jesus paid it all so that He can offer all to us freely (i.e. “It’s on Him”). Christian Theism, therefore, grants true freedom to all. But, Socialism denies freedom from all ... except for the ruling class, of course.

Economic freedom is still freedom. Christian, God does not approve of government denying economic freedom. Neither should you.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mobocracy and Climate Crimes

Mobocracy does not equal democracy. Democracy is when the people elect their representatives to write laws that reflect their wishes. Then the law becomes the thing that rules, not the people (a.k.a. “The Rule of Law”). Mobocracy, in contrast, is when a mob of people insist upon their way disregarding the law, usually by way of threat, until their demands are appeased. Therefore, mobocracy is the rule of the most successful at threatening. These two methods of "governing" may sound narrowly similar, but where they differ is in what rules. In democracy, the law rules. And, in mobocracy the most threatening people rule. The rule of people always results in anarchy, while the rule of law has a more likely peaceful result. To commit our governance to the will of the mob is ultimately suicidal in almost every way.

With that point made, what politicians do, with or without the mob, is write laws - more and more laws every day. And, with every new law something becomes newly criminalized that wasn't before. Therefore, the more laws that are written/passed there is an increase in the number of things that become illegal. At the current pace, eventually there will be no way to live and act without doing something against some law. For example, the tax code is so complex that it is takes up approximately 75,000 pages when printed.  For this reason, a law-abiding citizen has to hire a CPA (and pay them hourly fees) just in order to comply with the myriad of complexities in the law. Imagine that – you have to hire someone just to help you understand and follow the law. Should laws be so numerous and so complex that you must afford to hire someone just to avoid being a criminal? Are we being set up for slavery under tyranny ushered in by our own votes?

Where am I going with these two seemingly unrelated points? Well, America is increasingly becoming ruled by the mob rather than the law. And, one of the latest mobs to emerge is the mob screaming for jail and punishment for climate change deniers. All that is left is for our government to appease the mob as they have done over and over again. In fact, in some cases laws don’t even have to be passed to bully those on the unpopular side of thought. For example, this month, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Exxon Mobil alleging that the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change. The subpoena is demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents (a.k.a. an abusive fishing expedition). The same Attorney General has also been investigating Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal producer, for two years over whether it properly disclosed financial risks related to climate change. Why can the Attorney General do this you might ask. Well, because politicians passed more laws giving him the authority to do so in response to the climate change mob. More specifically, the state of New York passed the Martin Act, which confers on the Attorney General excessively broad powers to investigate financial fraud. And, that is how mobocracy in America happens over the screams of dying democracy.

In June of this year, citing the example of prosecution against the tobacco industry, a sitting U.S. Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island), made the serious suggestion that we as a society use anti-racketeering laws to prosecute global warming skeptics (a.k.a. threat of jail unless you change the way you think). Imagine that - using laws meant to thwart "The Mob" in order to silence a group of law-abiding citizens. But, what if the majority within the scientific community is misleading the public about climate change? If true, given the implications, couldn’t that be deemed more immoral? Is the climate change hoax truly a moral position, or the most immoral position one can have on the issue? Have you stopped to consider how many lives have been saved as a result of fossil fuels? How many people would have died and will die without fossil fuels? How many hospitals will run without fossil fuels? How many ambulances, firetrucks and police cars will run without fossil fuels? How many medicines, foods, goods and necessities will be delivered without fossil fuels? Did you know that the average American lives approximately 1,500 miles from their food source? Without fossil fuels, how many of us will die of starvation? How many technical innovations that have vastly improved the quality and duration of life would have been invented and produced without fossil fuels? Follow the logical implication of falsely agreeing that what humans exhale (CO2) is actually a pollutant – where does such a foolish conclusion lead? Who truly has the high moral ground? I don’t know about you, but I stand for human life first and foremost (a.k.a. humane). All else is at best a distant second. And, the hyper-theoretical threat to human life from climate change ranks at the bottom of all threats on practically every measure. If those opposed to freedom have their way, we will lose more than just our freedom - the vast majority of us will lose our livelihood and our lives.

Only an immoral mob would seek to criminalize thoughts. Are you in the mob of those aligned with criminalizing “deniers”? Before you answer that question, realize that “denier” is not a scientific term. “Denier” is a term of dogma. Challenging the scientific position of the majority is not denial – it is challenge. And, science by its nature, must constantly welcome challenge, not silence it. For example, was Albert Einstein a Newtonian Physics denier? Of course not. Rather, Einstein challenged certain tenets of Newtonian Physics with what became known as his theories of General Relativity. As a result, science was advanced not denied. “Denier” is a pejorative term meant to shame people into agreeing with the mob by threat of jail.

The rule of the mob is becoming the rule and no longer the exception. That means the mob will become even more violently persistent that we all worship what they decide that we should. Christian, we will have a choice to either deny God or deny man. Choose wisely.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.