Scandals? What Scandals?

I’ve spent the first three days of this week writing about history. Today, let’s look at history in the making. I sometimes wonder how I’ll ever be able to adequately cover the horrid nature of the Obama administration in one class session in my American history survey course. Students are already asking if I get to Obama in the course; I can say, for now, that I’m waiting until he’s history.

We already have seen his multiple attempts to rule unilaterally. Some have now been struck down by the Supreme Court. He always touts his constitutional expertise because he taught a constitutional law course, but let’s be honest here—he wasn’t a full-time professor, only an adjunct, and just because someone teaches a course on the Constitution, that doesn’t mean the teacher has any respect for its original wording/intent or understands its provisions:

Finals Week

He also acts as if everything is going swimmingly. Problems? What problems?

Bull in China Shop

Then when the media (or at least a segment of it) points out a major problem, he has the same old tired line about how he heard about it in the media for the first time, he’s really angry about it, and someone is going to pay a penalty for getting out of line. Then he does nothing, most of the time calling the issues phony scandals. He tries to act surprised and offended by the misdeeds of his minions in the government, but the surprise is phony, not the scandals:

Surprised Party

Our president is simply doing his best to ignore the problems, sometimes because he doesn’t see them as problems at all, and he probably orchestrated them in the first place; other times, he just doesn’t want to have to make decisions. That goes back to his time as an Illinois state senator when he earned the nickname “Senator Present,” meaning he declined to vote one way or the other.

But it’s getting impossible for him to ignore the mounting scandals, and the Republicans are salivating over the electoral prospects for this November:

Then-Now

There seems to be a new scandal each week; the administration is getting overwhelmed:

Bad Time

It would be far worse for the president if he didn’t have the lapdog media on his side:

Rip Van Media

Just imagine all the non-stop attention the media would give scandals like these if a Republican were president. Yet when any media outlet tries to hold him accountable, Obama is so used to cream puff treatment that he doesn’t know how to handle legitimate criticism:

Call Me Names

It’s well past time to put grownups back in charge.

Rejoicing Over What Has Gone Right

I’ve decided to devote today’s post to praise for a number of things that have gone right lately. It’s always easy to critique the development of current events, given the Obama administration’s penchant for upending the Constitution and Biblical morality, so it’s nice to point out the other side for a change.

All of these praises today come, surprisingly, as a result of Supreme Court decisions. After the agony of the Court’s rulings on Obamacare and the Defense of Marriage Act, it’s a relief to see the Court, once in a while, come out on the side of the Constitution, particularly religious liberty and free speech.

For instance, the Court overturned a Massachusetts law that created a so-called “buffer zone” that banned pro-lifers from entering. Outside abortion clinics, pro-life citizens were not allowed to speak to women entering the clinics in that state. They had to stay a “safe” distance away. The Court ruled that this was a direct violation of those citizens’ right to free speech. They were not protesters, said the Court, but concerned citizens who sought to engage other citizens in a discussion of issues. I’ve read where Massachusetts authorities are livid over this decision and are trying to figure a way around it, but for now, free speech and the sanctity of life prevail.

Colorado Christian University won a temporary injunction against the imposition of the Obamacare requirements for providing all types of birth control. This is similar to the Hobby Lobby case, which I’ll get to shortly.

Prior to ruling on Hobby Lobby, the Court exercised a restraining order, so to speak, on President Obama when it comes to making recess appointments. The problem was that Obama himself determined that the Senate wasn’t in session, so he went ahead and filled positions without the Senate’s approval. The Senate, however, still deemed itself in session. The president has no right under the Constitution to declare the Senate not in session. Interestingly, this was a 9-0 decision, with even the liberal/progressive justices in agreement.

In Session

Obama’s attempt to govern unilaterally was struck down, and it was only the precursor to what the Court had to say about Hobby Lobby:

Romeo & Juliet

Actually, two cases, very similar, were decided. Along with Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against being forced to offer its employees aborifacients, another company operating on its Christian faith, Conestoga Wood, had filed suit as well. Both were vindicated by the Court’s decisions. Justice Samuel Alito, in his majority opinion, made it clear that closely held corporations like these two have all the rights of individuals, including liberty of conscience in matters of religious belief. Both companies operate with Biblical foundations, and both were given exemptions from the mandate. The opinion rested on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law passed in the House by acclamation and in the Senate by a vote of 97-3 back in 1993. The president who signed it into law was Bill Clinton. It seems Democrats were for it back then; now they cry foul when it is actually put into practice.

The only sad part of this is that the decision revealed a split Court, ruling in those companies’ favor by only 5-4. This shows how we remain on a precipice as we look toward the future of religious liberty in America:

Land of Religious Liberty

Meanwhile, the silly argument that this is somehow a war on women and that women’s health is now endangered continues unabated. Never mind that no woman has been cut off from birth control; ignore that the cost is not prohibitive; and don’t let the general public know the truth about Hobby Lobby—that it does offer birth control in its health plan, just not the types that may cause abortions:

Setback

What the Supreme Court has done these last couple of weeks is rein in a president who has been acting like a king:

Three Branches

For now, at least, his pretensions have been challenged:

Gavel

On top of all this, Speaker John Boehner has announced that he is bringing a lawsuit against the president for his unlawful actions, taking upon himself the prerogatives of Congress. Obama is unbowed by this new threat to his quest for complete authority:

Executive Order

He will never allow the Constitution to get in his way. That’s why we must remain vigilant.

But, for today, I rejoice over the recent victories.

On Race & Intolerance

As a Christian, I take seriously the Biblical concept that all men are descended from an original couple, Adam and Eve. Consequently, we are all part of the same family genetically. Sin is what divides people. We tend to cluster around those who are more like us and develop suspicions toward those who are different in physical appearance. Talk of racism always bothers me because I don’t really believe in racial classifications. From the Biblical point of view, there is only one race, and it’s called “human.” The external differences we see are simply testimony to God’s creativity and love of diversity—a word that has been maligned lately due to its misapplication.

What people call racism is actually just a dislike for those who are not like “us.” It cuts across the divide and infects all people, no matter what color they are or ethnicity to which they belong. It’s not the exclusive province of Americans descended from Europeans. The attempt to remedy past ill treatment of blacks in America via affirmative action policies has only created greater injustice and division. Good intentions are not the same as good policy.

That’s why I applaud a recent Supreme Court decision that tore down the affirmative action barrier to equal treatment of all people, regardless of color, gender, or ethnic background. All that decision did was help fulfill the vision of a society in which people are judged by individual merit, not outward characteristics. Naturally, though, there are those who will cling to the old vision:

That's Racist

It’s particularly pernicious when some of those sit on that Supreme Court. Nevertheless, we should rejoice that at least one small step has been taken legally to reverse the trend.

Unfortunately, we still have an administration that uses past inequalities to hammer the current generation. Some find it exceedingly difficult to see anything outside of the “racial” box. Whenever President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder are criticized, they immediately find refuge behind the racial wall:

Race Cards

Frankly, any other attorney general exhibiting the degree of racial bias Holder has shown would have been out the door well before now.

What’s particularly distasteful to me is that they always speak the language of tolerance, while themselves showcasing some of the most intolerant attitudes imaginable. Whenever Biblical morality is held up as a standard, its advocates are attacked as intolerant. It’s the Christians who are now being portrayed as the intolerant ones, and we are told that our views will not be tolerated:

Tolerant Community

As I’ve noted before, the real battle for the future is not political; the real battle is theological and cultural. Winning the hearts and minds is where we need to focus our attention.

Race, Hypocrisy, & the Coming Elections

No one can argue that racial discrimination is entirely a thing of the past. As long as there are human beings, there will be those who harbor ill will toward anyone who is “different,” a word that can be defined in numerous ways. We’re talking about a feature of life simply called “sin,” another term that has innumerable manifestations, both personally and in society.

Yet the United States has gone to greater lengths than any other nation to do whatever government is capable of doing to minimize the effects of unfair discrimination. Civil rights acts passed after the Civil War were the first steps toward rectifying a wrong; then the more well-known Civil Rights Act of 1964 further solidified the nation’s stance that we should aim toward a colorblind society, one in which all people, regardless of outward appearance or ethnicity, are to be judged equally under the law.

Some innocently thought that the election of a black president (or at least one of mixed parentage) would be the proverbial final nail in the coffin of racial tensions. But when that president continues to bring up race himself and hires on associates with huge racial chips on their shoulders, it becomes impossible to leave race behind.

Take Eric Holder, for instance, our attorney general, the man who heads up the Justice Department. From the beginning of his tenure, he has made race a feature of his concept of carrying out justice. Under this administration, we have taken a giant leap backward with regard to race relations:

Color Blind

Something tells me Holder isn’t exactly on board with that whole “equal under the law” idea. And he’s particularly upset by the most recent Supreme Court decision that allows Michigan to stop making decisions on university admissions based on affirmative action policies. Really, all the Michigan state government is saying is that we ought to stop making race a cornerstone for policy—that we should treat everyone equally. How is that unfair discrimination?

Discriminating

What the Court actually has done is reinsert a little common sense and “fair” play into the way we judge one another.

That’s not going to stop President Obama’s party from making race one of the foundations for the upcoming congressional elections. More than ever, Democrats seem determined to make a case that race is the central issue on the political scene:

Dem Platform

What this seeks to accomplish, of course, is to divert attention from the new healthcare crisis created by Obamacare, which may very well be the key factor pushing voters to the polls this November. Yet the drumbeat will go on, as Republicans will be accused of every sort of evil intent, not only on race but with regard to a supposed war on women:

Racist Woman-Hater

Don’t you love the logic in that cartoon? The real question is whether the American public is going to fall for this logic once again. Democrats will do their best to spread this type of disinformation, but it will take a lot of money to do so. That leads to another glaring bit of hypocrisy: the Democrat theme lately is that Republicans are the party dependent on the billionaires to get elected, whereas studies show that the biggest political donors are those giving to the Democrats. While Republicans stand accused of being the “fat cats,” Democrats are awash in cash:

Too Much Influence

This bit of hypocrisy needs to be exposed for what it is. Democrats truly fear what may happen in these elections, and they have good reason to fear:

Heaven Real

For the sake of the country, may their fears be realized.

Duck Dynasty & Double Standards

Duck Dynasty CastLast Thursday’s post on Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty controversy received more “likes” than any post I’ve ever written. It’s because this whole episode has touched a nerve, particularly in the evangelical community. Ever since President Obama declared his support for homosexual marriage and the Supreme Court refused to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, our society has begun a mad rush toward Sodom. Now along comes Phil Robertson, who gets to the root of the problem: homosexuality is sin. Denizens of progressivism nearly faint, then react with outrage—how dare anyone use that word “sin.” What century does he still live in?

Part of the outrage, at least superficially, was Robertson’s rather colorful language in describing why a man should prefer a woman over another man. Let’s be clear: he used the correct anatomical terminology. He just made homosexuality sound so . . . well . . . disgusting. In doing so, though, he merely mirrored Scriptural descriptions of homosexual acts. Yet those same progressives have no problem with raunchy actions and vile terminology on their side. As Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal noted, “It is a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”

I also mentioned in my previous post that media people, even at more conservative organizations like Fox News, scarcely know what to do with the controversy. That’s because so few of them agree with Robertson—and the Bible—that homosexuality is truly sinful. They kind of defend him on what they deem to be his First Amendment right of free speech and freedom of religion, but one gets the impression they still believe he’s some kind of loony anachronism for holding to those outdated views.

Yet even that defense isn’t strictly correct in this case. First Amendment protections are shields against government action; the A&E network is a private enterprise. As such, it can hire and fire as it chooses. I agree. It has that right. Those who then disagree with A&E’s choice have just as much of a right to express their disagreement.

I find this kind of funny, in a non-funny kind of way. A&E’s defenders cry out for the right of a business to make its own decisions, yet many of those same defenders of this particular private business are on the front lines of the battle to force Christian charity organizations, evangelical colleges, and Christian-owned businesses to bow to the government’s mandates via Obamacare that violate their religious beliefs. Ask Christian bakers and photographers who are sued for not wanting to participate in homosexual weddings if their right to run their business in accord with their principles is being upheld. The hypocrisy and double standard are appalling.

Gay Wedding Cakes

That’s why I ended my other post with a concern that we may be entering an era of persecution of Christians in a way never experienced before in this country. I repeat what I asked then: what will be the response of the church to this new reality? Will we stand for truth or fall in line with the tenor of the times? I know many will hold firm, but the real question is how many. When you hear someone more concerned about Robertson’s descriptive language than the moral precipice upon which we’re teetering as a nation, that person is already sliding toward accommodation with Gomorrah.

Oh, by the way, since Phil Robertson is supposed to be such an awful, hateful person who cares nothing about others, let me leave you with another of his quotes, and you decide just how hateful he is:

Phil Robertson Abortion Quote

Scrapping the Obamacare Monstrosity

Anyone who thinks history doesn’t repeat itself has a short memory. It seems as if we have a scenario that never goes away: the federal government in gridlock as we attempt to keep it funded. Each time, there are cries of horror that children will starve, the elderly will perish, we won’t meet our debt obligations, and the world, generally speaking, will come to an end. All such cries are overwrought and largely political.

We also repeat the scenario that the public will blame Republicans for this state of affairs. Never mind that the Republican-dominated House has passed a resolution funding 99% of the government’s expenses; all attention is on the 1%—Obamacare. Yes, technically it is the law, manipulated through a Congress at one time controlled completely by Democrats via quid pro quo promises to certain Democrat senators. Yes, the Supreme Court, in one of its most infamous decisions, comparable to Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade, found a way to declare it constitutional. But even the president whose name is attached to it doesn’t treat it as a law. Without any legal authority at all, he has postponed sections of it and granted exemptions to people of his choosing—including Congress itself.

The president is in campaign mode—well, he never actually left that mode—to convince the public that Obamacare is good for them. You know, like that castor oil you dreaded taking each morning. It’s a hard sell, especially when the public sees all those exemptions, the chaos surrounding the setup of “exchanges,” the number of companies dropping insurance or lowering their workers’ hours to part-time to avoid the mandate, and the increasing costs of healthcare due to the requirements of the law. Some people have seen their premiums triple. The only states where there appears to be any good news on the cost are those already with the highest premiums. Now the rest of the nation can join their misery.

Can the public really be blamed for having second thoughts about this? Why should any government have to go to great lengths to advertise something that supposedly already is enacted? Well, they know it’s becoming wildly unpopular:

Ad Campaign

Tomorrow the Obamacare exchanges are supposed to go into effect. In January, the entire law—minus the exemptions and postponements—is slated to be in force. The whole enterprise is already the cause of greater costs and unemployment. And the Republicans are going to be blamed? That’s kind of an upside-down perception. This Obamacare launch isn’t exactly going the way its dreamers predicted:

Launch

If we are a nation of clear vision, we will encourage the Republican effort to scrap this monstrosity. But are we such a nation? The jury is still out.

The Supreme Court vs. God’s Court

BuildingAll day Tuesday, I was seeing tweets via my Twitter account that expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would uphold the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] because it wouldn’t want to repeat the mistake of Roe v. Wade. I was not nearly as optimistic. Technically, the optimists were correct; the Court stopped short of declaring that same-sex marriage should be legal throughout the nation. But the effect of its decision in Windsor—and its punt on the Prop 8 case—is not much different. Homosexual activists clearly saw the decisions as a win for their unholy goals.

There are a couple of layers here to analyze. Legally, the decision was narrow in one sense; it didn’t strike down DOMA altogether. While the Court ruled that these fictional same-sex marriages qualified the couples for federal benefits in the same way as real marriages, it left untouched, at least nominally, the part of the bill that protects states who have defined marriage as between a man and a woman from recognizing same-sex marriages that have occurred in another state. However, that protection is now paper-thin. By giving same-sex mock marriages the same status as genuine marriages, the push will now be on to overturn the rest of the law. After all, on what grounds can a state now deny these fake marriages if the federal government has sanctioned them? At least, that will be the argument.

An equally disturbing feature of the DOMA decision was enunciated by Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent, which was strong indeed. He objected to the majority’s decision on a couple of fronts. One was the “tone” of the majority and the aspersions it cast on the motives of those who support traditional marriage. A second concern, intertwined with the first, was the high-handedness of the Court in saying it is the ultimate authority on these issues. Both assertions bothered Scalia and led him to write the following:

Antonin ScaliaWe have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. . . . The court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.

But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been
unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race. . . .

It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will “confine” the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.

A deeper and more basic concern is one that the political world doesn’t want to touch: the rebellion against God and His law that has led us to this point. Few in politics ever come out and clearly state that homosexual behavior is sinful [to use such a word would be to tie oneself to an outmoded way of thinking] and destructive of society. Few will take the chance of being branded as bigoted and hateful for holding such a view. Well, I’m one of the few who will say it: homosexuality is a sin; it is an abomination before God [as is all sin]; it is leading this nation into a spiritual and moral black hole; we ultimately will be judged for following this path.

If anyone thinks yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions will bring us peace, think again. Now that the highest court in the land has given approval to this behavior, the proponents will stop at nothing to overturn all morality based on Biblical teachings. Further, there will be an ever-increasing crusade to marginalize those who continue to hold to Biblical morality. They won’t be satisfied until all who believe as I do are ostracized from “respectable” society.

Christians need to respond appropriately. First, no matter how we may feel about what is transpiring, we must keep holding out God’s message of salvation to those who have trapped themselves in the chains of sin. That message must begin with a clear statement of what sin is, the necessity of repentance—turning away from rebellion against God and His loving laws—and the offer of forgiveness and sanctification through the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Even as we spread the Good News that people can be free from sin and living for God, we must redouble our efforts on the political front to reverse what has occurred. It can be done. Even now, there is a movement away from the abortion-on-demand mentality that has infected our society for too long. We have been making the case for life, and we are seeing victories, both in court and in public opinion. The same can happen with respect to marriage.

PersecutionBut what if, despite all our efforts, the society continues to plunge headlong into the abyss? What if we are persecuted for our beliefs? The message remains the same: be faithful. Besides, being persecuted merely connects us with those who have suffered for the faith throughout history. We should be glad to share the fate of those who have gone before us. Our reward awaits us once we leave what many have called “this vale of tears.”

Reading in the book of John yesterday, I was reminded of these words of Jesus:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. . . . If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

We’re not in a popularity contest. We’re called to be disciples of the One who is above all human courts. Let’s be faithful to that calling.