The Restoring Honor Rally: A Reflection

I wasn’t able to attend the Restoring Honor Rally in D.C. last Saturday, but I know a couple of people who did. They were deeply impressed by what they experienced. The crowd easily exceeded expectations, with estimates running as low as 300,000 [how’s that for a “low”?] up to more than 500,000. The central stage was the Lincoln Memorial.

In this picture, you get only some idea of the size of the crowd. A bird’s-eye view provides a better perspective:

That’s the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. Up close is the WWII Memorial. The crowd filled the entire space between the two, and even went further back than this picture shows, all the way to the Washington Monument.

Impressive, to say the least.

What inspired people to make this journey? Well, there certainly were some attractions. For one, Sarah Palin was a key speaker, and undoubtedly a drawing card for many. She, and all the other speakers, set aside partisan politics for the day and spoke instead about honoring those who have served in the military, remembering another speech at this spot in 1963—“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King—and calling for a return to faith in God.

Of course, the main organizer for this rally, Glenn Beck, was on hand as well. His stated goal was to bring together people of all faiths for a common purpose, what he and others termed a spiritual revival.

This is where it gets controversial. Before going any further, let me say that I am in complete agreement that a spiritual revival is essential to bring this country back from the brink of an untold disaster. I understand Beck’s desire and support him in that quest. The real question is whether there can be a genuine spiritual renewal if Jesus Christ is not central to it.

I have watched Beck’s television program on a consistent basis. I applaud most of what I see. He has provided a valuable service in exposing the roots of progressivism, in upholding the authority of the Constitution and the rule of law, and in telling people that faith in God is the most significant factor for any restoration of the Founding principles. Building a coalition of groups who have that same vision is a good thing. Therefore, I do support the intent of the rally and I know that it was a force for good in the country.

The key, though, is whether this movement, as it goes forward, is going to be a Christian-based endeavor. Beck is a Mormon. I have some knowledge of Mormon theology, and it is decidedly not Christian. I know it is politically incorrect to say such a thing. I can never now run for office. That’s okay—I never planned to do so. The Mormon concept of the nature of God and Jesus is not compatible with orthodox Christianity. The theology of salvation for Mormons is not the same as the Christian explanation.

Now, as I’ve listened to Beck, I’ve wondered just how much he really understands Mormonism because his words, at least as he explains his view of salvation, sound as orthodox as any Christian’s. I can safely let God be the judge of his heart. However, a clear line does need to be drawn between what is definitively, uniquely Christian and that which is not.

In the political world, as I’ve noted, coalitions need to be formed. I can unite with Mormons, Jews, and anyone else who wants to see the same political result as I do. But a government is not the church. Salvation will never emanate from any government. The message of individual salvation remains in the Christian faith, which proclaims that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life.

I’ve read some critiques of the rally that have been rather censorious of it due to its mixed leadership—the attempt to meld all religious beliefs into one. I understand that. However, we should keep in mind that the movement, such as it is, does promote basic Biblical attitudes and principles, even if some in the movement are not personally Christian. Anything that nudges us closer to the truth is welcome.

When I teach about the American Founding, I make it clear that not everyone was a Christian at that time, yet nearly everyone operated on a consensus that was formed from the Biblical worldview. We could be seeing that same development today.

I think it is highly likely that the majority of those who attended the Restoring Honor Rally did so as proponents of the Biblical worldview. If the rank and file is made up of that type, there is hope for our future. We certainly could do worse than return to the status of the Founding, where even those who were not Christians still understood the world through the Christian prism.

Therefore, I urge my Christian brethren not to be too critical at this point. Let’s see where this leads. God works through His people, but He also works through those who don’t always realize He is doing so.

The Reagan-Palin Connection

I have a second posting for you today [don’t miss the other one down below this one]. It’s on Big Government. I see a similarity in the way Ronald Reagan was treated with what Sarah Palin is currently experiencing. You can go directly to it at: http://biggovernment.com/asnyder/2010/08/06/ridicule-and-disdain-the-reagan-palin-connection

Journogate?

I thought summer was supposed to be a slow news season, but there’s been so much happening, I’m having a hard time keeping up with it all. Take, for example, the revelation that a discussion board for journalists was basically a device to coordinate attacks on conservatives.

It was called Journolist. It’s now been taken down from the web due to these revelations. A prime example of the activity on this site occurred when McCain chose Palin as his running mate. These journalists were scared by the choice, fearing it would undermine the uniqueness of their anointed candidate Obama. One of the participants, Spencer Ackerman, made a wonderful suggestion.

How are we going to defuse this bombshell of a pick? he asked. Easy. Find a Republican—take your choice, whether Karl Rove or someone else—and accuse that person of racism. Any accusation of racism makes the front page; this would then change the focus of the coverage away from Palin.

Another member of the group, Dave Weigel, was a reporter for the Washington Post assigned to cover the “conservative” beat—as if conservatism was something so out of the ordinary that it needed special coverage. Of course, at the Post that would be accurate; out in the rest of the nation, more than 40% of the electorate considers itself conservative.

Weigel’s comments about conservatives on Journolist were leaked. It turns out that he had contempt for the very people he was supposed to be covering. Some of the comments were so demeaning that he had to resign from the Post.

This political cartoon suggests that Journogate has taken over in the news. I think that’s inaccurate. Unless you follow the news on Fox or online, you probably have no knowledge of this event at all. Typical.

The exposure of what most of us already knew instinctively is good. It brings to light the true state of affairs.

Three cheers for the alternative media.

Sedition? Are You Serious?

I suppose I should be used to this by now, but it’s hard not to be outraged. Remember when disagreeing with the government was a sign of real patriotism—you know, back in the bad old Bush years? At that time, we were told continually by the Democrats and the media that dissent was a cornerstone of American liberty.

Well, there’s a whole lot of dissent going on out there right now. It started as a trickle, became a shocker with Townhall meetings in August 2009, then led to a more organized Tea Party movement that threatens to rock the establishment.

Suddenly dissent is no longer patriotic. In fact, according to some people, it’s downright evil.  Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick had choice words for critics of the president. The Boston Globe reported,

Governor Deval Patrick, even as he decried partisanship in Washington, said today that Republican opposition to President Obama’s agenda has become so obstinate that it “is almost at the level of sedition.” . . .

Patrick said that even “on my worst day, when I’m most frustrated about folks who seem to [be] rooting for failure,” he doesn’t face anything like the opposition faced by the president.

“It seems like child’s play compared to what is going on in Washington, where it is almost at the level of sedition, it feels like to me,” Patrick said.

Challenged on his wording, he later said, “That was a rhetorical flourish.” Accusing someone of sedition—attempting to undermine or overthrow the government—is simply a “rhetorical flourish”?

Then there was journalist Joe Klein speaking to MSNBC host Chris Matthews:

I did a little bit of research just before this show – it’s on this little napkin here. I looked up the definition of sedition which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious.

Do I detect the beginnings of a trend here? Are these the new talking points emanating from the White House, dutifully repeated by fellow-travelers?

Based on the attitude displayed by Obama whenever anyone has a difference of opinion with him, this is not all that far-fetched.

The "Stupid" Strategy

Have you noticed the strategy employed by the Democrats over the past three decades? You might have to be as old as I am to see the pattern, but it’s now very obvious. I call it the “stupid” strategy, which is aimed at any Republican who is a threat to actually win the presidency or any other high office.

It all started with Ronald Reagan. When he ran against President Carter in 1980, the whispers began, then rose to a crescendo: he’s a dumb actor; he’s simplistic; he just reads everything from little cards; he needs a nap every afternoon; he’s not smart enough to be president. Democratic functionary Clark Clifford famously referred to Reagan as an “amiable dunce.”

Well, that amiable dunce won the Cold War.

They tried it, to a lesser degree, with George Bush in 1988 when he squared off against Michael Dukakis. How could he possibly match the policy wonkness of the former governor of Massachusetts?

It was his son, though, George W. Bush, who had to weather the stronger attack. He was just a cowboy, out of his league, merely a C student. He wasn’t smart enough to lead the country. What we needed was that super-smart challenger Al Gore. After all, he was on the cutting edge of understanding that we were all going to die unless we ceased emitting carbon. He was the champion of the intellectual elite.

In the Bush reelection year of 2004, John Kerry was the epitome of all that was cosmopolitan, cultured, and oh-so-French. Bush couldn’t even compete with Sen. Kerry’s brain power. Or so we were told.

In 2008, progressives nearly fainted when Sarah Palin was added to the Republican ticket. How could this Caribou Barbie be a serious vice presidential candidate? In fact, they realized she was a serious candidate, so the strategy was employed once again—ridicule her as a lightweight. Ignore her accomplishments as Alaska’s governor and paint her as a joke. The joke now appears to be on them as she is more influential than ever.

But of course she’s influential in circles of low-educated, backward folks who inhabit the great hinterland between the beautiful people who populate the coasts. You know, the area where no one of their social status should ever have to hang out.

That’s right, she’s the darling of those stupid Tea Partiers. Now the progressive elite have an entire class of people to denigrate. Unfortunately for them, a New York Times story recently carried the strange news that those despised Tea Partiers were actually better educated than the general population and they are financially better off than the national average.

That’s disturbing to the powers-that-be. President Obama made fun of them last week. He thinks their ideas are radical and foolish. Does he even know the source of those ideas?

If he finds their ideas ludicrous, he must really be in stitches over the Federalist Papers and the Constitution—because that’s where the ideas come from.

It’s time we wise up to the “stupid” strategy and see it for what it really is: a false portrayal of political opponents that is downright dishonest.

Principled Opposition: Send a Warning

Be prepared for the upcoming push for a VAT—value-added tax. It can be placed on as many products as the legislators deem possible. The goal is to use it to fund programs so the deficit won’t be as bad as predicted.

Doesn’t this break a promise, though?

There are some invitations one should refuse.

Well, perhaps we can trust the Democrats who control the Congress to see the inequity of adding a VAT on top of the income tax.

Or will we instead get a repeat of the integrity we saw in the healthcare vote? Integrity? I’m not sure some congresspersons have any idea what that is. Of course, it all starts at the top. Some people are masters at changing the subject.

As we move into the next election cycle, what’s needed is an opposition based on principle. We need to explain as clearly as we can to the American people the difference between the constitutional approach to governing and the “progressive” approach. Even if the economy ticks up enough to make some feel more secure, we need to point to the underlying issues and the long-term disaster that awaits if we don’t change direction.

Will they listen? I’m reminded of a Scripture passage in the book of Ezekiel that lays out the responsibility before us. The context is different, but the principle is the same:

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.

When I say to the wicked, “O wicked man, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.

But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

America, like Israel of old, needs watchmen—those who will sound the warning. Will we do so? The responsibility is ours.