Month Archives: October 2013

George Washington’s “So Help Me God”: Did He or Didn’t He?

by Robert Morrison

October 31, 2013

I’m actually complimented when liberals criticize my writing. They called a column I did about Carl Sagan’s golden stele headed into interplanetary space “the stupidest column in the world.” Gosh, since I wrote about Pioneer 10 bearing that indelible evidence of the human race as male and female, couldn’t they at least have called my column the stupidest in the universe?

But of late, they got really got me scratching my head. George Washington didn’t say “So help me God” when he took the oath as our first President, they claim. Really?

I took my wife and little children to Lower Manhattan on April 30, 1989 for the re-enactment of Washington’s First Inaugural. I distinctly recall those words were repeated for that official bicentennial ceremony. (And no, my young friends, I wasn’t there for the events of 1789.)

Atheizers are claiming Washington never said it. Atheizers are folks who, whether they believe in God or not, are determined to eradicate every reference to the Almighty in our public life.

If I am wrong about Washington’s invoking God as he took the oath, as the atheizers maintain, then I have a lot of company in my error. Here are just some of the many sources I’ve consulted over the years.

Chief Justice John Marshall was a contemporary of George Washington. His multi-volume biography, Life of Washington, Vol. IV, contains a plate showing Washington’s oath-taking. His hand is on the open Bible. And this inscription accompanies it.

On one side stood Chancellor Livingston, who administered the oath. On the other side was Vice-President John Adams Washington solemnly repeated the words of the oath, clearly enunciating, “I swear”: adding in a whisper, with closed eyes, “So help me God.”

Reverently, with closed eyes, in a whisper. Maybe that’s why the atheizers missed it.

Below are other scholarly sources that span a period of 124 years. It seems we have always known the truth and only recently have forgotten it. Or, are the atheizers simply trying to sandblast the records?

1. Henry Cabot Lodge, George Washington, Vol. I, p. 46 (1889)

Then Chancellor Livingston administered the oath. Washington laid his hand upon the Bible, bowed, and said solemnly when the oath was concluded, “I swear, so help me God,” and, bending reverently, kissed the book.

2. Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington, Vol. Six, p. 193. (1954)

I solemnly swear. So help me God.” He bent forward as he spoke and, before Otis could lift the Bible to his lips, he kissed the book.

3. Benson Bobrick, Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution, p. 491. (1997)

Washington said, “I swear,” and, lifting the open Bible which lay on a crimson cushion before him, exclaimed in a firm voice, “So help me God!.” The Chancellor, turning to the people, said “It is done!” and, in a loud voice, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States !”

4. David McCullough, John Adams, 2001, p. 403. (2001)

Then, as not specified in the Constitution, [Washington] added, “So help me God,” and kissed the Bible, thereby establishing his own presidential tradition.

5. William J. Bennett, America : The Last Best Hope, Vol. 1., p. 135 (2006)

Dressed in a homespun American-made brown suite with eagles on the buttons, he placed his hand on the Bible and recited the [presidential] oath, adding, significantly, four words repeated by every president since as a matter of tradition if not sincere belief: “So help me God.” Then he kissed the Bible.

I hasten to add that not all liberals have joined the atheizers. Tom Hanks is a popular Hollywood liberal in good standing, a backer of Presidents Clinton and Obama. But I take my hat off to Tom Hanks for the series he produced on John Adams. The HBO series on John Adams did a wonderful job with the Inauguration of George Washington.

I have to laugh at Honest John Adams’ awkwardness. And when he first visited New York City, my hometown, he wrote to Abigail that “they talk very loud, very fast, and all at once.” Do you think that’s why some of them missed George Washington saying “So Help Me God?”

But they couldn’t have missed what our First President did next. He kissed the Bible. Don’t tell the atheizers.

The Social Conservative Review: October 31, 2013

by Krystle Gabele

October 31, 2013

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

There will never be a time when conservatives can heave a sigh of relief, sit back, and declare victory in the battle for our country and our culture.

There can be victories, of course, significant ones, but the only permanent victory in all of history was achieved on Calvary. In that triumph, we find the courage and confidence to keep making persuasive arguments about the benefits of faith, family, and freedom.

There’s a lot happening on every front. But the eternal battle already has been won. Let’s never lose sight of that as we seek to “do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10).

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Our fall lecture series has begun! Watch online at no charge, here.


Educational Freedom and Reform
Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

College Debt

Government Reform
Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care
Abstinence

Health care reform: ACA/Obamacare

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics
Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research
To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Human Trafficking

Marriage and Family
Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media
Pornography

Religion and Public Policy
Religious Liberty

Religion in America
Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.

Secularism

International
Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

The Courts
Constitutional Issues

Other Issues

Book reviews

Obamacare Problems Much Worse than Technical Glitches

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 30, 2013

Say that a year from now, after great angst, huge costs, and significant renovation, www.healthcare.gov works well. The technical problems have all been resolved. People can access the site without difficulty; it works like a charm.

So what? The substance of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is destructive and dangerous.

There are many studies showing how the PPACA will hurt businesses, economic growth, lower-income families, private health insurers, and so forth. Since the implementation of Obamacare on October 1, two million Americans have been told that due to the provisions of the PPACA, they will lose health insurance, and it’s going to get worse:

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

Yet, the deepest problem with Obamacare remains its mandate that persons of traditional Judeo-Christian faith have to surrender their convictions concerning abortion and the sacredness of personhood from conception onward. For a comprehensive review of how the “conscience mandate” (you have to provide access to health plans that provide abortions and abortifacient drugs whether this acidifies your conscience or not), see FRC’s letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April.

Moreover, most Americans won’t be able to find out if their new health plans cover abortion until after they sign-up for a given plan. As FRC President Tony Perkins wrote earlier this month:

If an insurer decides to cover abortion in its plan, and the government subsidizes people’s premiums in that plan, every single person is required to pay an extra abortion surcharge! Adding insult to injury, the same section also requires that all information about the abortion coverage and surcharge only be given at the time enrollees receive their overall benefits package.

U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) have introduced the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2013,” which would “ensure full disclosure of abortion coverage, requiring prominent and transparent disclosure of abortion coverage for each plan offered on an exchange.”

On the grounds of fiscal, administrative, organizational and ethical concerns, “Obamacare” makes whatever problems (real or imagined) it attempts to fix worse. No “user-friendly” computer program will ever correct these inherent faults.

A Civil War general, a Wyoming storekeeper, and a Vietnamese businessman: A story of America

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 29, 2013

A Civil War general, a Wyoming storekeeper, and a Vietnamese businessman tell an extraordinary story of patriotism and opportunity.

John Buford was a Union general who held the line against the Army of Northern Virginia on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. He died, possibly of typhoid, in December of that same year. Abraham Lincoln, moved by Buford’s heroic service and premature loss, promoted him to major general on Buford’s death bed.

In 1866, the town of Buford, Wyoming was named after the late general. Over time, it grew to a population of 2,000 and was visited by such notables as Ulysses Grant and Franklin Roosevelt. The notorious Butch Cassidy is reported to have robbed a store there in the 1880s.

The town went into gradual decline. Over time, everyone moved away except Vietnam veteran Don Sammons, who in “1992 … sold his moving business and bought Buford. He moved into a three-bedroom log cabin a few hundred feet from the trading post and turned an old schoolhouse next door into an office. He refurbished a store built in 1895 into a four-car garage.”

Recently, Sammons decided to put his one-man town up for sale. It was purchased not by fellow Bufordites (OK, there are none), a Wyomingite or even another American. It was purchased by a Vietnamese businessman named Nguyen Dinh Pham who plans to make Buford the distribution center of rich Vietnamese coffee throughout America.

About a dozen American flags fly in front of the store, now named the PhinDeli. After the sale, Sammons says he “wanted to put Vietnamese flags out” in front of the store. “But the new owner didn’t want locals to think he was trying to change this into a Vietnamese town. It’s a Wyoming town and it always will be.”

An American who fought against Communists in Vietnam lands in one of the most obscure places in North America and then sells his store to a Vietnamese coffee merchant, who insists on flying U.S. rather than Vietnamese flags in front of his store: The poetic symmetry of this sequence of events is remarkable, and speaks to the kind of America of which all of us can be proud. It is a country where honorable people can live decent lives in peace and freedom, prosper and thrive, and, ultimately, work to achieve their own economic and personal destinies without intrusive, patronizing intervention from the government.

When, at the beginning of the war, the governor of Kentucky offered John Buford any position in his state’s military he wanted, Buford had a ready answer. “I sent him word I was a Captain in the United States Army and I intended to remain one!” A patriot like that would appreciate what Don Sammons, Nguyen Dinh Pham, and the people of rural Wyoming are doing with his civic namesake.

Representative John Fleming (R-La.) Calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Resignation

by Bethany Brock

October 24, 2013

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) appeared on Wednesday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” and shared more about a potential delay for the individual mandate of Obamacare as well as Secretary Sebelius’s failures as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the rollout of Obamacare:

I called for her resignation and am calling on the President to ask her to resign if she doesn’t do it voluntarily. The Department of HHS, now with Obamacare, fully has under its control 1/6 of the largest economy in the world- the health care of the United States of America,” Fleming said.

Leading up to the rollout of Obamacare, Fleming said Secretary Sebelius was reassuring that it would be launched smoothly. Just days before the rollout of Obamacare , Sebelius said customers would have a wonderful experience going online to purchase their insurance.

She made it sound like it would be like going to the fair or riding on the ferris wheel. Then it was launched on October 1 and it’s been an absolute disaster. Secretary Sebelius is CEO of HHS, so she alone should be held accountable for that. The firing or resignation should begin with her.”

Fleming has been insisting that the individual mandate in Obamacare be delayed stating, “Americans have to sign up, meanwhile hundreds of thousands are being canceled off of their current insurance. So we have millions of Americans caught between a rock and a hard place where they are going to be forced through mandate and taxation to sign up for this but aren’t capable of doing so and they won’t have an alternative insurance because they were canceled off their current insurance.  I think it’s just inevitable that the individual mandate will be delayed for some months or at least a year.”

Click here to listen to the entire radio interview

State Department Stays Mute on Persecuted Religious Minorities Worldwide

by Leanna Baumer

October 22, 2013

Last week, the unremarkable State Department tenure of Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook came to a sudden end with her resignation from the post of U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom. A post designed to elevate the status of religious freedom in American foreign policy and to move around intractable State Department bureaucracy by directly advising the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom in recent years has functioned instead as a sidelined figure in diplomatic efforts.

That is, when the post has been filled. It took President Obama over a year and a half to even nominate Dr. Cook. Once confirmed in the summer of 2011, Dr. Cook’s inexperience as a diplomat and unfamiliarity with global religious freedom issues became obvious as she failed to establish clear office priorities or to respond to countries designated as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) under the International Religious Freedom Act. In contrast to her two predecessors who worked within the admittedly hostile environment of the State Department to establish a critical mass of staff and to weave religious freedom priorities into a broader human rights agenda, Dr. Cook remained largely silent.

In an all-too-familiar pattern, the State Department has indicated it has no prospects on the horizon to fill the now-empty position. This marked lack of interest or concern in a human rights issue that is bi-partisan, fundamental to the message of individual liberty, and central to the story of the United States comes as an explosion of violence in the Middle East and Southeast Asia targets religious minorities.

Just this weekend, Egypt’s long-persecuted Coptic community faced another attack that killed four at a wedding celebration at a Cairo church. A month ago, Christians from All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan faced one of the deadliest attacks on record in their country. Yet, these Christians and other Pakistani religious minorities have little hope of their interests being represented in the diplomatic meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that are scheduled to take place this week.

Despite the failure of Dr. Cook to leverage her position for religious minorities, to comment verbally on their plight in countries such as Syria, or even just to show up at Congressional hearings, her departure provides a pivotal opportunity for President Obama to nominate a more qualified and pro-active replacement. Georgetown Professor and former diplomat Thomas Farr outlines the necessary steps President Obama should take to “[Let] the US diplomatic corps and the world know that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are giving this ambassador their personal backing to move this issue to the front burner of American diplomacy.” We can only hope that President Obama moves more quickly to nominate a qualified successor than he did to nominate Dr. Cook in the first place.

Millennials Have a Tough Economic Row to Hoe

by Chris Gacek

October 21, 2013

Evan Feinberg, president of Generation Opportunity, recently had an insightful article in Forbes, “Heavily in Debt Millennials Now Must Foot the Federal Deficit Bill, Too.” Feinberg focuses on the difficult economic times facing Millennials. His observations rest on some pretty basic facts. First, the typical college graduate is trying to pay down about $32,500 in student loan debt. Then, the unemployment rate for those ages 18-29 is a near-record 16%. Feinberg proceeds to note that the burdens of the massive, growing federal debt are going to fall most heavily on those who are just starting their careers. That will be painful for decades as the entitlement state implodes but will probably entail decreased benefits and higher taxes.

I would add that Obamacare is going to be an immense, crushing burden unless it is repealed. We already see companies not hiring to avoid having fifty employees and triggering Obamacare requirements. There is also the trend to hire only part-time workers. It is hard to pay off college loans when you don’t have a full-time job.

Needless to say these trends are devastating to the formation of families and having children. Even worse, may be the impact of Obamacare’s pricing structure. It will take some time to see how this all sorts out, but it appears that young families will have much higher premiums, very high deductibles, and co-pays on the order of 40% … for a “bronze” or lowest-quality plan. If this is true, middle-class families will be devastated as they have to cut back on necessary expenditures like child-care to pay for the insurance. Many industries like the vacation and leisure industries, for example, should take note. There won’t be any money for that stuff and other disposable goods.

This could get ugly quickly.

Chasing Perfection

by Anna Higgins

October 17, 2013

Perfection is a ghost. Many of us pursue it all our lives in our own strength, only to find it unattainable. We keep our faults hidden and run from those who are less than our image of “perfection.” This attitude can be deadly.

Most of us are woefully ignorant of the fact that the “imperfect” — children with disabilities — are targeted for elimination prior to birth. Over 90% of preborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. This staggering statistic reveals that as a society, we have done little to protect the most innocent among us. We have neglected to take a stand for those with no voice and neglected to teach our children that people with differences are just as valuable as anyone else and deserve protection and respect.

It is heart-wrenching to think that abortion, coupled with the negative attitude towards persons with disabilities, has robbed countless parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other family members of the joys and challenges of raising and loving a person with Down Syndrome. In our pursuit of perfection, we cast aside parts of ourselves and others that we deem substandard. In so doing, we unknowingly discard life’s most valuable treasures. It is most often in our weaknesses that true grace is revealed.

The apostle Paul revealed in 2 Corinthians that he suffered from what he called “a thorn in the flesh.” Despite Paul’s pleadings, the Lord chose not to remove it from him, but instead display His grace through the weakness. Paul responds in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Without that “thorn,” Paul may have never experienced the fullness of that grace and strength.

ESPN recently posted an “E:60” video on YouTube highlighting the story of Heath White, competitive runner and Air Force pilot, who was faced a few years ago with the news that his unborn child had Down Syndrome. Heath, who was accustomed to setting and achieving lofty goals, candidly admits his desire to abort the child who he knew would be less than “perfect.” His wife also describes her struggle in wanting to keep her baby and save her marriage. The result was a change of heart for Heath, embodied in an emotional and inspiring letter he wrote to his daughter, Paisley. His bold honesty and acceptance of Paisley is encouraging and counter-cultural. He came to the realization that Paisley is just like every other kid — worthy of love and acceptance. Their story is one of deep pain, resilience, and beauty.

Perfection existed only in one person, Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we are made whole. Jesus often chooses the weak to instruct the strong, and the words of children to teach those who are wise in their own eyes. I pray that we can learn to cherish what we consider “imperfect” and learn to live contentedly in the amazing grace offered by Christ alone.

The Social Conservative Review: October 17, 2013

by Krystle Gabele

October 17, 2013

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

As the movement for life and human dignity advances, the consternation of the Left only increases. Consider:

With the closure of two more abortion clinics and a third on the brink of shutting down, Ohio women will have fewer places to terminate pregnancies than perhaps any time since the years after the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.”

This report from the Columbus (OH) Dispatch almost has the tone of a lament. Yet for those of us who value the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, the closure of abortuaries means that unborn lives will be saved and women will be treated with greater dignity.

We celebrate the growing erosion of the abortion-on-demand mentality that has claimed far too much of the American mind since Roe. Yet even as we continue to make strides in the battle for life, the battle for marriage shows no sign of immediate victory. Lifting the confusion over human sexuality, marriage, and male/female complementarianism remains an enormous challenge for social conservatives.

The bottom line is simple: The Bible calls Christians to be wise, gentle, strong, and faithful. We use our best judgment, seek actively to obey the God of Scripture, and then leave the results to Him. Knowing and practicing those truths creates hope and animates action. The Triumphant One will not be defeated, even if we experience setbacks in our fallen, finite world.

So, with His strengthening grace, let’s get to work.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Watch highlights of FRC’s just concluded Values Voter Summit, including speeches by top conservative leaders, here.


Educational Freedom and Reform
Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

College Debt

Government Reform
Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care
Abstinence

Health care reform: ACA/Obamacare

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics
Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research
To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Human Trafficking

Marriage and Family
Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media
Pornography

Religion and Public Policy
Religious Liberty

Religion in America
Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.

Secularism

International
Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

The Courts
Constitutional Issues

Other Issues

Book reviews

 

A Contract Job Worth Keeping

by Leanna Baumer

October 17, 2013

After a mad scramble to pass legislation resolving the government shut down and extending a cap on federal borrowing authority, the House quickly agreed to one additional resolution late last night. In a nod to a lingering shutdown-related question pertaining to the role certain contract ministers and religious services employees play in our military, the House agreed unanimously to an amended version of H. Con. Res.58. This concurrent resolution expresses the hope of Congress that the Department of Defense (DOD) will categorize contracted priests and religious services providers as necessary for maintaining troop welfare and morale during any lapse in federal funding.

Almost two weeks ago, news broke about believers, including many Catholics, within the military lacking access to traditional religious services, religious facilities, counseling, and the Sacraments. Though legislation enacted at the beginning of the shutdown saga (Pay Our Military Act, Public Law No: 113-39) had instructed the DOD to pay active duty military personnel and to ensure that all services necessary for troop support were made available, DOD did not designate contracted religious service providers as essential for those support services. Because many installations rely on contracted ministers to meet the Constitutional requirement of providing for the free exercise rights of troops, this lapse by DOD meant that some soldiers had no way to practice or adhere to the confessional obligations of their faith.

As others have pointed out, the DOD’s failure to recognize contracted religious personnel as important for troop welfare is troubling since it seems to ignore the role religion plays in the daily life of many soldiers— while elevating access to base leisure facilities and entertainment options as more significant for aiding troop morale.  In the high pressure environment of the military where unique stresses and challenges are faced on a daily basis, it’s critical that military personnel have access to the unique support structures of their faith. In fact, courts have held that in order to protect the First Amendment rights of military personnel to exercise their religion, chaplains must be furnished by the military. In cases where an active duty chaplain is not available, contracted religious staff help meet this obligation.

While last night’s reinstatement of federal funding has resolved the immediate issue of access to military installations for contract employees, a legal inquiry into the DOD’s designation may continue. What should guide lawmakers and Defense officials moving forward is a renewed commitment to protecting the totality of troop welfare and wellbeing—including safeguarding the ability of military personnel to live out their personal religious belief and practice by having continuous access to ministers, priests, and religious staff. 

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