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September 26th, 2010 | Author:

How date we question Obama’s right to assassinate American citizens?

How dare we suggest that evidence of wrong-doing and a trial might be required?

How dare the courts try to intervene?

The Obama Administration is fighting tooth and nail to kill a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of New Mexico cleric Anwar Awlaki, arguing that even though Awlaki isn’t charged with any crimes it “strains credulity” to argue that the US government needs to present evidence before assassinating the US citizen.

In fact the papers filed by the Justice Department attempting to quash the case argue that the court system should have absolutely no oversight over the administration’s sudden, bizarre claim that it can assassinate any American citizen it wants on the basis of nation security, arguing that such issues are “for the executive branch of the government to decide rather than the courts.”

Read the rest here, if you can stomach it.

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June 04th, 2010 | Author:

What if:

  • Abraham Lincoln, like James Buchanan before him, said of the South, “As sovereign States, they, and they alone, are responsible before God and the world for the slavery existing among them.”
  • Lincoln decided that “preserving the Union” was not worth the cost in blood.
  • Congress legitimized secession and officially recognized the Confederacy.
  • The Confederate States of America still existed today.

United States map of 1861

I know.  This is an odd subject, even for me, but you can blame it on Rand Paul.  Or rather, you can blame it on an article by Sheldon Richman that was stirred by Rand Paul’s comments on the Civil Rights Act:

Why assume that legislation was the only way to stop segregation and today is the only thing preventing resegregation? We can easily imagine scenarios in which private nonviolent action could pressure bigots into changing their racial policies.

But we don’t need to imagine it. We can consult history. Lunch counters throughout the South were integrating years – years! – before the civil rights bill was passed. It happened not out of the goodness of the racists’ hearts – they had to be dragged, metaphorically, kicking and screaming. It was the result of an effective nongovernment social movement.

Starting in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960, lunch counters throughout the South began to be desegregated through direct but peaceful confrontation – sit-ins – staged by courageous students and others who refused to accept humiliating second-class citizenship. Four years before the Civil Rights Act passed, lunch counters in downtown Nashville were integrated within four months of the launch of the Nashville Student Movement’s sit-in campaign.

Students were beaten and jailed, but they won the day, Gandhi-style, by shaming the bigots with their simple request to be served like anyone else. The sit-ins then sparked sympathy boycotts of department stores nationwide. The campaign wasn’t easy, but people seized control of their own lives, shook their communities, and sent shockwaves through the country. State and city governments were far slower to respond.

Could not slavery have been abolished using the same methods?  Britain accomplished this without war, largely influenced by a boycott of  sugar.

An anti-sugar pamphlet by William Fox was published in 1791; it ran to 25 editions and sold 70,000 copies in four months. Spurred on by pamphlets and posters, by 1792, about 400,000 people in Britain were boycotting slave-grown sugar. Some people managed without, others used sugar from the East Indies, where it was produced by free labour.

Grocers reported sugar sales dropping by over a third, in several parts of the country, over just a few months. During a two-year period, the sale of sugar from India increased ten-fold (see Adam Hochschild: Bury the chains). James Wright, a Quaker and merchant of Haverhill, Suffolk, advertised in the General Evening Post on March 6th, 1792, to his customers that he would no longer be selling sugar.  He declared:

“…..Being Impressed with a sense of the unparalleled suffering of our fellow creatures, the African slaves in the West India Islands…..with an apprehension, that while I am dealer in that article, which appears to be principal support of the slave trade, I am encouraging slavery, I take this method of  informing my customer that I mean to discontinue selling the article of sugar when I have disposed of the stock  I have on hand, till I can procure it  through channels less contaminated, more unconnected with slavery, less polluted with human blood……”

(A full copy of this article can be read here)

Citizen actions like these could well have pressured the south to ultimately ban slavery at the state level without killing about 618,000 Americans in war.  Compare that to American casualties in WWI (53, 402), WWII (291,557), and Vietnam (47, 424), and then imagine the impact it had on the citizenry.  Look at the economic disruption as well, and it seems that other less-costly solutions to slavery could have been found.

And if they had, and two American governments existed?  We can’t know the outcome, of course, but it seems to me there would be some important advantages.

First, states rights would have been upheld, limiting the role of the federal governments.

Second, dividing the country in two would, by simple mathematics, have reduced the power of those governments.

Third, two governments would have provided some healthy competition, as people decided where they wanted to live.

Fourth, all those confederate rebels could openly fly their flags.  :)

I know this “what if?” is a little off the beaten path, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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May 22nd, 2010 | Author:

When I was in the eighth grade, our English class spent several weeks studying Greek and Roman mythology. At the end of the project, we each had to create a myth of our own.  As a self-proclaimed “creative writer”, I was delighted with the assignment.  I spent several days considering options, and finally settled on a story about a family of giants who used to live in New York State.   The details have been erased from my memory, and I destroyed the paper soon after writing it – for reasons that will become apparent – but the highlights involve the death of the giant baby, the parents dying from grief, and the fall of their bodies creating what we now call the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers.  The water feeding these rivers came from the parents’ tears.  I spent a lot of time on this assignment, and I was proud of the final product as I turned it in.

When the teacher returned our graded papers, I was stunned – not only because she had given me an “F”, which would have been enough shock for an “A” student who loved English, but because of the note she had written on it.  She said that the previous year a student had submitted a myth very similar to mine – therefore I must have cheated and she graded me accordingly.  No questions.  No benefit of the doubt for previous work.  No investigation.  Just her summary dismissal.

I remember how devastated I was by the false accusation.  The humiliation.  The sense of betrayal.  The lack of opportunity to defend myself.  The injustice.

My feelings from this small event  – that changed my attitude toward this teacher, but not my whole life – all came rushing back today, forty-plus years later, as I watched the following video.

It’s from a celebration, of sorts, for nineteen people who spent years in prison for crimes they did not commit, but through The Innocence Project and DNA testing, have finally been exonerated.

As you watch it, I hope you’ll feel compassion for these individuals whose lives were derailed.  And I hope you’ll understand that, in many cases, innocent people are tried and convicted with false or flimsy evidence simply because we clamor to put someone – anyone – in jail when a heinous crime is committed.

We are all responsible.

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Category: justice, liberty, truth, video  | Comments off
May 12th, 2010 | Author:

The Word for Wednesday (WFW) is a once-a-week opportunity for Christian bloggers to collectively share what the Lord is working in their hearts. If you’d like to participate, click the WFW tab above.

Note to regular readers: I will resume my End of the Age review of the Olivet Discourse as the Lord leads. Today I’m off on a more topical issue.

The National Day of Prayer

In 1952 Congress, at the request of Billy Graham, established the National Day of Prayer where people were asked to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”  In 1988, they set the first Thursday in May as “the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray.”

On April 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional on this basis:

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.

“In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray,” Crabb wrote.

In her ruling, she stated that the issue would not go into effect until it has been through the appeals process, and Obama dutifully issued his proclamation.

My first response to all the backlash Crabb’s ruling generated was, “So what?” Do we really need – or want – Obama (or Bush or Clinton or ?) to tell us when and what to pray?  Would the lack of a presidential proclamation prevent us from praying?

When I read Crabb’s reasoning, I tended to agree with her.  If the President can call us to pray on a particular day, hosting special events for that purpose, could they not also try to direct us to non-biblical acts?  This, in fact, is already being attempted, as the New Apostolic Reformation of C. Peter Wagner joined forces with the Christian Right  in what was dubbed “A Cry to God:  May Day 2010” at the Lincoln Memorial.  As Herescope documented, this was less than biblical:

One of the most amazing aspects of the May Day event, planned in Washington, D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1, 2010, is its Official Program stating the “Prayers of Repentance for the Seven Mountains of Culture.”[3] Many good-intentioned believers are being led into this event because they support its conservative political ideologies and moral overtones. They support Israel and they are against abortion. But do these folks also support the Seven Mountains of Culture Mandate? And are they fully in agreement with the esoteric theology of these spiritual warfare prayers and the Dominionist goals of the NAR leaders of the May Day event?

I’d encourage you to read that article and follow the links it contains, as well as this article and this one.  There is a long-planned co-opting of Christianity being implemented, and discernment is required.

All of this has led me to reflect on the larger issue of America as

A Christian Nation

“America was birthed in prayer and founded on the Bible,” said Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, on Thursday.

A solemn mood prevailed at this year’s National Day of Prayer, as speaker after speaker lamented what they perceive as an attack on our Christian Nation, but … does it really matter?  Can any man-made law make us Christian or prevent us from being Christian?  Can any nation actually be Christian?

Before everybody gets in a dither, let me state that I agree with Dobson’s statement.  I’ve learned a lot from my friend Hercules Mulligan, and I agree that, by and large, the founders of America were Christian and attempted to base our government on God’s law.  But that does not make us a Christian nation.

Jesus told Pilate this:

My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)

Nowhere in scripture did Jesus attempt to change the worldly governments.  Nowhere in scripture did Jesus tell his disciples to change the worldly governments. In fact, history has shown that since Constantine tried to establish the first “Christian nation,” nothing but disaster has resulted.  Every government that has tried to enforce Christian principles wound up killing in Jesus’ name and desecrating His name – and America is no exception.

A Young Soldier

Realnews.com, in a follow-up to the Wikileak Collateral Murder video (which has over 6 million views to date),  has posted Part 1 of an interview with Josh Stieber.  Go here to watch the whole interview or read the transcript.

Josh Stieber enlisted in the army after graduating high school. He was deployed to Baghdad from Feb 07- Apr 08 with the military company shown on the ground in the Collater Murder video. Upon his return from Iraq, Josh was granted conscientious objector status.

So who is this young man?  What was he thinking when he enlisted?  Here’s part of the interview.

STIEBER: I grew up very religiously and very patriotic, in a selective sense that, you know, I only wanted to hear things that I wanted to hear and only things that I thought would make my country look better and make my beliefs look better, and I wasn’t very interested in understanding other perspectives. And the vision I had of my country was that, you know, we were going all throughout the world doing, you know, all this great stuff and helping people in need. And, you know, after 9/11 I was obviously affected by that and wanted to protect the people that I cared about, and, from everyone I trusted, was told that the military would be a good way to do that, and then was also told, you know, there’s this country Iraq that’s getting oppressed by this horrible dictator who’s also a threat to us, and if we can get rid of him, not only will we be keeping ourselves safe, but we’ll also be helping this other country in the process.

JAY: How interwoven were your beliefs in America and what America stands for and your religious beliefs?

STIEBER: They were pretty closely intertwined. I went to a religious high school. And one example is, in a government class that I was in at this religious high school, we read a book called The Faith of George W. Bush. And people like that were held up as, you know, these—these are people that are fighting for God’s will here on Earth. So religion was very interwoven with a sense of nationalism.

So what happened to change his beliefs?

JAY: So you go to Iraq. You join, you go through boot camp, and you’re sent to Iraq, and you’re still more or less the same mindset. Tell us a little bit about boot camp and the kind of training that takes place to prepare you for war. I mean, your religious training is supposed to be about love thy neighbor, and then you’re sent to war. So how do they get you ready for that?

STIEBER: Yeah, I guess that’s where I started to see, maybe, some of these contradictions, just by the kinds of things that we did on a regular basis in basic training, whether it was the cadences that we sang as we were marching around, some that even joked about killing women and children.

JAY: Like what?

STIEBER: One that stands out in my mind is—it goes,

“I went down to the market where all the women shop
I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop
I went down to the park where all the children play
I pulled out my machine gun and I begin to spray.”

JAY: That’s as you’re marching.

STIEBER: Right.

JAY: So this is, like, an authorized chant, you could say.

STIEBER: Yeah. I mean, the training, they focus on the physical aspect, or, you know, they say that’s the challenging part, but then they slip all these psychological things in along with it.

JAY: Well, that’s got to be shocking for you to hear that the first time.

STIEBER: Yeah. And so I started writing home to religious leaders at my church, saying what I’m being asked to do doesn’t really line up with, you know, all these religious beliefs I had. And I would get letters back with explanations that I needed to have more faith in God, or this is just how the military works.

JAY: They would write back and defend a chant like that, that it’s okay to go down where the kids are playing and start to spray? They would defend that?

STIEBER: They would either defend it or say that ends justify the means or say, you know, maybe you personally don’t say chants like that and just march silently, but you still go along with the whole system.

If these are the words taught by a “Christian Nation,” it’s no wonder the Muslims hate America.  And it’s no wonder that they hate Jesus.

I’ve taken some liberties with the following scripture, but based on Matthew 5:43-48 when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, I don’t think He will object.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love for Muslims,
I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love for Muslims,
I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,
and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love for Muslims,
it profits me nothing.
Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

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April 09th, 2010 | Author:

from Democracy Now, a reporter who filmed at the scene the next day:

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