Month Archives: February 2012

Senator Santorum Only Told Part of the Story

by Chris Gacek

February 27, 2012

Much is being made of Rick Santorums criticism of the ideological tilt of college educations. Here is one story. We are supposed to believe that indoctrination doesnt occur on campus and that it doesnt undermine traditional mores and thought especially when they are religiously based. Theres even more to be unhappy about on campus.

Steve Forbes has written, During the past 30 years overall inflation in the U.S. was 106%; health care costs went up 251%. College tuition and fees? They soared 439%. Graduates of the college class of 2010 had acquired an average $25,250 in debt, but there were many students who had much higher levels. That was a 5% increase over the prior year. There is no indication that increases in tuition costs and indebtedness will grow more slowly.

Conservatives have an opportunity to provide hope to those who have not yet entered college. Because they are not tied to these massive institutions politically, conservatives can begin to offer true alternatives to the bricks-and-mortar educational behemoth. Of greatest importance should be a push for online educational options that can greatly reduce the costs of most college courses in particular, generalized lecture classes. Non-college options may also be preferable in technical fields that require the use of sophisticated machinery and equipment.

All things being equal, education clearly benefits society. In the world of the early GI Bill and the following decades one could afford to romanticize about the college experience, but in times of prolonged sluggish economic growth and high unemployment parents and prospective students need to be more realistic. When a good private college or university routinely charges $50,000 year, a new educational model is needed. Hopefully, the presidential campaign will provide an opportunity for more discussion of this critical issue.

 

 

 

 

The Nuba People of Sudan: Black, Christian, and Under Attack

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 27, 2012

The persecution of professing Christians is, in one sense, indiscriminate: it knows no race or region. Ethnicity, denomination, language, and historic customs of comity and protection are immaterial to those who would crush the men, women, and children who claim the Name of Christ.

One of the most difficult and immediate of such crises is occurring now in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. According to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently visited the region, the government of Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a recognized international war criminal, has instituted a campaign of “ethnic cleansing, mass murder and rape, all carried out by uniformed soldiers of the Khartoum government” (Source). In tandem with this effort, al-Bashir is having his air force conduct bombing raids of refugee camps, placing thousands at risk of being killed or maimed.

Many of the Nuba are Christians. They are also dark-complected, which in the Arab supremacist philosophy of al-Bashir makes for a deadly combination. Our U.N. Ambassador, Susan Rice, said recently that “this conflict has affected more than 500,000 people and if there is not a substantial new inflow of aid by March this year, the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will reach stage 4 of an emergency which is one step short of a full scale famine. This is exceedingly grave, and underscores the urgency of the situation.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof yesterday published a moving column titled, The Man Who Stayed Behind. Its the story of Ryan Boyette, an American missionary who served with Samaritans Purse *. When, out of concern for their workers, Samaritans Purse asked all its staff to leave the threatened areas, Ryan and his Nubian wife chose to remain with the persecuted and endangered Nubians. After intense prayer, he chose to resign from his position with Samaritans Purse to do so.

Visit the Websites of Christian ministries the Persecution Project website or Save the Nuba to learn more about the crisis, or read about how the Samaritans Purse ministry is working actively to help those in greatest need. Also be sure to visit FRCs RealCompassion.org to link to Christian ministries helping the persecuted and oppressed around the world.

* To listen to FRC President Tony Perkins recent interview with Samaritans Purse founder Franklin Graham, click here.

Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death for His Faith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 24, 2012

This week, after an Iranian court sentenced Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to death because he refused to recant his faith in Christ, the White House and the State Department issued statements calling for his release. Last fall, Speaker Boehner issued an equally strong statement.

Let us pray for this brave man, who refuses to renounce his Savior, and his young family, that God would protect and free Pastor Youcef and strengthen and encourage his wife and children.

Brewing Coffee, Sharing Christ

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 23, 2012

Earlier this week, I wrote about my personal boycott of Starbucks because of its overt endorsement of a radical social agenda. For those caffeine-starved souls who have joined me and are now experiencing gargantuan headaches or, worse yet, visions of decaf (my heart goes out to you), take courage. The Christian coffee house movement is alive and well, and likely has an outpost in a neighborhood near you.

Many Christian entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the renewed coffee culture to open stores that not only serve great coffee but also share the love of Christ in sometimes subtle, sometimes overt ways. For example, at Jacob’s Well Christian Coffeehouse in Rockville, Connecticut, they have been “sharing the Good News through the Performing Arts since 1995.”

At Barnabas Christian Coffeehouse in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, their name comes from an early church leader whose name meant Son of Encouragement. As their website says, Everyone, at some point, needs to know that someone cares enough to share a burden or a joy. Encouragement, prayer, and most of all, the love of Jesus Christ, are the focal points at the Barnabas Coffeehouse.

And at the Coffee Connection in Mt. Shasta, California, their sole purpose is to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ … This is accomplished primarily through the performing arts, fellowship and various community outreach programs.

Christian coffeehouses offer live music, display art, produce plays, and provide neighborhoods with safe and friendly alternatives to venues less conducive to conversation, recreation and reflection. And, often, they provide opportunities to talk about eternal things in an unthreatening atmosphere.

No one should argue for Christians segregating themselves into isolated enclaves: We have been left in the world for a reason, and most fundamentally that is to win others to Christ. That, in turn, means engagement with those who have not yet met Him at work, in community activities, and in places of business (like coffee shops). Yet an inviting, welcoming, open place, such as that available in Christian coffeehouses, can be a great way to introduce a friend to the reality that faith in Jesus is not only not weird, but transforms lives.

There are also coffee roasters from which you can order your daily java online; a couple of them are noted below. Here is just a small sampling of what’s available; your local listings should be able to tell you what Christian coffee shops are closest to you:

What Dick Cheney Gets Wrong

by Robert Morrison

February 23, 2012

I live in Maryland, where lawmakers in Annapolis may be voting to end marriage. They dont realize that thats what they are doing. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is said to be working the phones, trying to persuade Republican holdouts to join Democrats in ending marriage.

Why is it ending, and not just expanding marriage rights to confer the legal status of marriage on same-sex couples? Consider constitutional expert, GWU law professor Jonathan Turley. He spoke to an overflow crowd at the Newseum in 2008.

He said: Opponents say that this will lead to polygamy. Im for that. Turley was wildly applauded by the audience, which included law students, congressional staffers, and, of course, enthusiastic journalists.

Turley is surely right. Recognizing same-sex couples as married will lead to polygamy and the end of marriage as a civil institution in America. Thats because when everyone can marry, there is no marriage left. Thats doubtless why Turley today is working to legalize polygamy.

Consider this thought experiment. Twin brothers announced on a TV talk show that they were gay. Under the laws proposed, can they marry? If not, why not? Theyve certainly had a committed relationship since before they were born. What constitutional principle could you invoke to say these twins cannot marry each other? And if these twin brothers may marry, why not a twin brother and sister?

Dick Cheney probably never met Mae West. For younger readers unfamiliar with one of Hollywoods original blond bombshells, Ill simply say: sailors in World War II called their large life jackets Mae Wests. (This is a family blog, after all.)

Mae West famously said: Marriage is a great institution, but Im not ready for an institution. How strange that Mae West had a better understanding of civil marriage than a former Vice President of the United States, a man who was twice elected to national office by pro-family voters.

I was sent by FRC to the Philadelphia Convention of 2000, instructed to meet GOP delegates on the Platform Committee. FRC does not endorse candidates, but we are certainly permitted to comment on the parties platforms. I had prepared carefully to read and analyze that years platform on such family issues as the defense of unborn human life, the protection of marriage, preserving religious liberty, and education. Those delegates rated an A on all those issues, except education (because they had dropped the call to disestablish the federal education department.)

Speaking to reporters outside the platform hearings, I praised the delegates work. The press couldnt care less about that. All they wanted me to do was to criticize the lesbian daughter of Dick and Lynne Cheney. What do you say about her being here?

Were always glad to see families brought together, I replied. But, but, shes sitting in the VIP box with her father and mother. I answered: Its certainly good to see a family united when their dad is being so honored.

Again and again, they probed. They wanted me to bash the daughter of the Republicans vice presidential nominee. You and him fight. Well hold your coats. Again and again, I tried to steer the interviews back to the partys platform, which was the only thing I was authorized to comment on. Dont try to tell reporters what it means to be a man under authority.

As a result, of course, nothing I said was reported. But as my former boss, Gary Bauer, often said: You can always get news coverage by setting your hair on fire. And I dont have hair to burn.

Then as now, Dick Cheney declined to support the Republican Party platforms strong defense of marriage. His serious demeanor brooks no contradiction. He speaks always as if he expects to be obeyed. Its as if they invented gravitas for him. I have a personal situation, he said to nodding reporters. He didnt have to spell it out.

Cheney was wrong then and now. My wife and I have relatives who are gay. We have never rejected them. That does not mean we must agree with them. That does not mean I should slacken any effort to defend the civil institution of marriage when it is under assault.

In 2000, Dick Cheney might have considered Philadelphias most famous son, Benjamin Franklin. Franklins own son was the royal Governor of New Jersey. It was a patronage job Ben had secured for him. When his son remained loyal to the Crown, Benjamin Franklin did not refuse to sign the Declaration of Independence citing a personal situation. Thats one of the many reasons why we remember Ben Franklin with admiration and respect.

Dick Cheney is said to be worth hundreds of millions. His family may not suffer the devastation that comes from the breakdown of marriage. But in his recent book, Coming Apart, Charles Murray shows how the loss of marriage for the white working class in America has already had catastrophic consequences. If we seek the reason behind the great disparities in wealth that the Occupy crowd is howling about, we need look no further than the collapse of marriage. In this great cultural clash, Dick Cheney has enlisted with the forces of dissolution.

American Demography: Meet the Parents

by MARRI

February 22, 2012

Over the weekend, the New York Times published a front page article by Jason Deparle and Sabrina Tavernise reporting on new data by Child Trends (For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage, Feb. 18, 2012). But the objective data that the unassuming title portends quickly gives way to a remarkable synthesis of logical flaws, selective data interpretation, and glaring oversights which all culminate in an irredeemably confused analysis of contemporary American demography.

Click here to read more about this topic on the MARRI blog.

Double Anthem Days Ahead

by Robert Morrison

February 22, 2012

Hockey fans are not noted for being sedate. Civility is fine, but hockey fans can be relied upon to get loud. When the Washington Examiner leads with a story about the hometown Capitals looming contest on ice with three straight Canadian foes, the folks in the stands can settle in for some great stick action.

That line on double anthem days is a reference, of course, to the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada, the national songs of the two friendly neighbors. Friendly now, but certainly not when those anthems were written. The U.S. and Britain had been fighting a cold war on the frontier and across the Great Lakes ever since the Treaty of Paris had been signed in 1783. Under that treaty, Britain grudgingly acknowledged American Independence. And the Americans grudgingly accepted the British presence in Canada.

Maryland license plates now show the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air above Fort McHenry as we look forward to the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. For Canadians, that war formed their national consciousness. They celebrate Laura Secord, the brave Loyalist lady who rode to warn the British army of the advancing Yankees, the way we remember the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

For us Americans, the War of 1812 was decidedly a mixed bag. We were routed in Canada not once, but twice. Former President Thomas Jefferson had confidently predicted that invading and seizing Canada from the British would be a mere matter of marching. Definitely not one of Mr. Jeffersons sounder predictions.

Instead, it was for the British invaders of Maryland to merely march across the state and easily defeat American militia at Bladensburg, Upper Marlboro, and, finally, most humiliatingly, Washington, D.C. The British burned all the public buildings in the Capital. The White House, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress went up in flames. Only a torrential rainstorm saved the city.

Still, the British were repulsed at Fort McHenry, that guardian of Baltimore, and we got our national anthem from that contest. Our flag was still there. We won the Battle of Lake Erie, blunting a British invasion from Canada. The USS Constitution won everlasting fame in ship-to-ship battles, earning her the sobriquet Old Ironsides. She remains the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy.

Then, of course, there was Old Hickorys spectacular 1815 victory at New Orleans. Gen. Andrew Jackson led a most diverse force of U.S. Army regular troops, Tennessee and Kentucky militia, free Negroes, French pirates, and Spanish settlers to a one-sided triumph over a regimented, drilled force of redcoat invaders. Thousands of British soldiers were slain in just minutes, including their commanding general, Sir Edward Pakenham.

When the hockey fans stand silently and respectfully for the two nations anthems, the violent clashes will be confined to the ice. At least we hope they are so confined.

Theres a lesson here for all of us incivility. When Canadians sing O Canada and we stand on guard for Thee, it isnt polar bears who threatened them. It was us—the Yankees. And when Americans sing The Star-Spangled Banner with those lines about bombs bursting in air, we can recall they were enemy bombs, backed up by our enemies across the Canadian border.

My question for the civility lobby is this: If hockey fans can show mutual respect for their former enemies, why is it that you have such a hard time standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Why are you suing in federal court to get rid of the most important line, Under God? If you dont believe in God, youre free not to say those words. No one will monitor you to check compliance. But why do you find it necessary to force the rest of us to banish those words that are so vital to us? It aint civil.

We cannot allow the atheizers to prevail. If we want to stop bullying, we can start by speaking out against these nuisance lawsuits. For my fellow pledgers of allegiance who want to preserve our countrys best traditions, Americans and hockey fans, its time to get loud.

The Hidden Health Risks of Terminating Pregnancy

by Krystle Gabele

February 22, 2012

Clarke Forsythe and Mailee Smith of Americans United for Life recently penned an op-ed in The Washington Times regarding a hearing that will be taking place in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, a case disputing a South Dakota statute, which was enacted in 2005, that mandates all women receive information of the medical risks of an abortion.

Planned Parenthood filed suit to prevent the South Dakota statute from becoming law, and one might be curious to know why they would prevent informed consent. Is it wrong for a woman to know the risks that may happen to her body during such a procedure? Besides ending the life of her unborn child, there are potential medical risks stemming from death to the emotional impact after the procedure.

There have been numerous studies that found an association between abortion and suicide. Other studies have found a link between abortion and depression (which is a major risk factor for suicide). For example:

A 1995 study by A.C. Gilchrist in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that in women with no history of psychiatric illness, the rate of deliberate self-harm was 70 percent higher after abortion than after childbirth.

A 1996 study in Finland by pro-choice researcher Mika Gissler in the British Medical Journal found that the suicide rate was nearly six times greater among women who aborted than among women who gave birth.

A 2002 record-linkage study of California Medicaid patients in the Southern Medical Journal, which controlled for prior mental illness, found that suicide risk was 154 percent higher among women who aborted than among those who delivered.

My colleague, Jeanne Monahan, recently mentioned in her op-ed, The mental toll of abortion, that there have been a large number of informed consent laws passed in state legislatures throughout the country. Isnt better that a woman receive more information for such an important decision?

The question remains: What is Planned Parenthood so afraid of? Are they afraid that the information will save a life, or are they afraid of the fact that a woman might be concerned on the long-term ramifications of having an abortion?

Farewell, Frappuccinos

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 20, 2012

My home state of Washington has produced some of America’s leading corporations and entrepreneurs: Microsoft and Bill Gates; the Nordstrom, Boeing and Weyerhaeuser families and their eponymously named companies; the Eddie Bauer sporting goods empire; and the nearly omnipresent Starbucks (almost 11,000 stores worldwide).

Starbucks emerged in the 1970s at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. One of my sisters bought me a bag of cocoa powder from this location more than three decades ago; if I still had it, it likely would fetch a nice collector’s price.

For many years, I’ve enjoyed going to Starbucks, becoming acquainted with any number of “baristas” and drinking enough of its variously flavored beverages that “grande” characterizes my waistline as much as the size of a given drink. Even when traveling in the Middle East, the taste of a frappuccino has been a welcome reminder that one can go home again. And I’ve always been glad to go into a place that, in some ways, still reminds me of home (there’s a reason Starbucks’ interiors usually are muted; it’s a Pacific Northwest thing).

With Microsoft and several other major firms, Starbucks last month endorsed the effort of some of the Evergreen State’s leading politicians to enact homosexual “marriage.” Although this initiative passed in the state legislature and was signed into law by departing Gov. Christine Gregoire, it likely will be on the state ballot in November.

What is a bit maddening, given Starbucks’ strident advocacy for the redefinition of marriage, is CEO Howard Schultz’s claim that he is non-political. As he said just a few days ago, “I have no interest in public office … I have only one interest, and that is I want the country to be on the right track.”

Schultz continued, “I just feel that for some reason, over the last few years, there’s been a fracturing of understanding and sensibility about the responsibility that the leadership in Washington must have to the people who are being left behind … And I’m significantly disappointed about the ideology, the partisanshipness, and, obviously, the way in which everyone in Washington is focused on one thing right now, which is reelection.”

To Schultzs credit, he authored a pledge, now signed by a fairly large group of CEOs, in which they promise, I join my fellow concerned Americans in pledging to withhold any further campaign contributions to elected members of Congress and the President until a fair, bipartisan deal is reached that sets our nation on stronger long-term fiscal footing.

This is admirable, and no doubt motivated by a patriotic desire to see the U.S. once again become the engine of economic growth that, for so many decades, it has been. Yet the key to a strong economy is a strong family a family composed of a father, a mother, and children. The hard data prove it. By supporting a movement that would further vitiate the already weakened family unit, Schultz is tacitly but actively advocating the continued erosion of the institution the two-parent, heterosexual, traditional and complementary family unit without which no economy or society generally can thrive.

Additionally, Schultzs decrying of divisiveness rings a bit hollow when he plunges his company feet-first into the culture wars. The effort to redefine marriage to include same-sex partners is a radical social innovation, one fraught with dangerous implications for individuals, families, and culture. Claiming to be post-political and then allowing ones chief corporate spokesperson to say that same-sex marriage is is core to who we are and what we value as a company are assertions that dont quite add up.

So, for now, at least, I will buy my overpriced flavored coffees elsewhere. I dislike boycotts for a number of reasons, but am undertaking a personal one at present. Being for marriage, as understood in the Judeo-Christian context and Western tradition, is much more to the core of who I am than a Starbucks iced mocha ever will be.

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