Month Archives: February 2010

How Christian Were the Founders? Very!

by Robert Morrison

February 16, 2010

The New York Times Magazine is at it again. Theyve just published a long article asking How Christian were the Founders? Their short answer: Not very. My response would be: Very.

Lets start with George Washington. Washington was termed by biographer James Thomas Flexner the gentlest of Christendoms captains.

Flexner was referring of course to Washingtons deeds, not his inner faith. Still, try to imagine this situation: Your army has been driven out of New York by the British and their Hessian mercenaries. These German-speaking foes regularly refused to give quarter to young American soldiers who threw down their weapons and surrendered.

Instead, they cruelly ran our boys through with their 17-inch bayonets. These same Hessians chased your army across New Jersey. Once, they captured one of your army chaplains, a Presbyterian. The Presbyterians were especially hated by the British for fomenting revolution from their pulpits. The Hessians stripped the unfortunate cleric and stabbed him thirteen times, leaving his naked body in the road. They then proceeded to rape their way across New Jersey. When, on Christmas Night, you defeat these same Hessians and take eight hundred of them prisoner, wouldnt that be a time to exact revenge? If only to show your enemy that their cruelties would not go unanswered?

That was George Washingtons situation following his Crossing of the Delaware and his miraculous victory at Trenton. His Excellency ordered that the captured Hessians be treated with humanity. And they were.

Washingtons personal motto was Deeds not Words. Thats why it is important to watch what he does, not just what he says. Washington worshipped regularly throughout his life. Most modern journalists never worship. So its not surprising that they discount the importance of worship. Washington made a point of going to church often. Each Sunday, he knelt quietly at his pew and recited the words of the Apostles Creed. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord. Was all this mere show?

When he came to New York to take office as our first President, Washington added four words to the constitutionally-prescribed oathSo help me God. He did this in front of the entire new government of the United States. And before a cloud of witnesses in Lower Manhattan. Then, he did something even more remarkable: he kissed the Bible.

He kissed the Bible. If he rejected the Savior whose story is told in those pages, would he have done such a thing? Would we admire him if he did?

Todays atheizers love to cite Franklin and Jefferson against the idea that the Founders were Christians. Franklin and Jefferson, to be sure, held unorthodox opinions. Still, it was Franklin who appealed to the delegates to the Constitutional Convention to join in prayer. If a sparrow cannot fall without his notice, can a great empire rise without his aid? Now, in whose Holy Book might Franklin have found that sentence about the falling sparrow?

Jefferson, it is entirely true, rejected many central tenets of the Christian religion. But he strongly affirmed the moral teachings of Jesus. And it was this Mr. Jefferson who rejected the atheism of many of his French philosophe friends. He said it was self-evident that the world had been created: You can tell by the intelligence in the design. Hmmm.

Do you think the Intelligent Design folks have been reading their Jefferson? And how is it that in Dover, Pennsylvania, a federal judge can cite Jeffersons wall of separation letterand be applauded by the nations media for doing soto ban the teaching of Intelligent Design? The judge wants to deploy his notion of Jeffersons ideas to shoot down the teaching of—what else?— Jeffersons ideas about Creation.

Far more representative of the faith of the Founders were Rev. John Witherspoon of New Jersey and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, both Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian divine and Carroll was a devout Roman Catholic from Maryland. Where else on earth in 1776 could two such men mutually pledge to each other, their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor?

So, the atheizers will continue their half-century project of stripping away Americas Christian heritage. They will continue crafting their own naked public square. They must rely on ignorance of the nations true history to do so.

On occasion, even their favorite non-Christian Founders will trip them up. As a young man, Franklin the Printer composed this self-parodying epitaph:

The Body of

B. Franklin

Printer;

Like the Cover of an old Book,

Its Contents torn out,

And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,

Lies here, Food for Worms.

But the Work shall not be wholly lost:

For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,

In a new & more perfect Edition,

Corrected and Amended

By the Author.

He was born on January 6, 1706.

Died 17[90]

More seriously, the aged Franklin wrote to an anxious Rev. Timothy Dwight. It was just weeks before his death. He did not know if Jesus was Lord, Franklin candidly admitted, but that he had never dogmatized on the subject. He expected to know shortly without the trouble. He preferred, he said, to live his life doing what Jesus commanded his followers to do. Franklin had often said that he found his pious neighbors more ready to keep holidays than the commandments. Ouch. Its a pointed reminder for all of us.

Then, as now, the vast majority of Americans self-identified as Christian. Jefferson and Franklin were not successful in getting their fellow Founders to adopt a Seal for our new nation that showed the Children of Israel being led from bondage in Egypt. Who will lead us out of bondage to todays atheizing journalists?

Obama Will Now Aggressively Use Executive Power

by Chris Gacek

February 16, 2010

A deeply worrisome article appeared in the New York Times on Saturday (2/13/10). It has received much attention on Mondays radio programs. The article by Peter Baker is entitled Obama is Making Plans to Use Executive Power for Action on Several Fronts. Baker tells us that the President is preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal, and other domestic policy priorities. And Baker continues with this observation, Any president has vast authority to influence policy even without legislation, through executive orders, agency rule-making and administrative fiat.

Translation: now that various Obama legislative (i.e., democratic) efforts have failed, it is time to force his policies on the nation through the diktat available to the head of the American federal administrative state. Of all the items mentioned in the article, the most destructive is probably the Administrations plan to begin regulating carbon emissions via the Environmental Protection Agency. This will be enormously costly for the American economy, and it comes at a time when the science supporting man-made climate change is collapsing. (See these articles as evidence: here, here, here, here and here (listed on Mark Levins website.) The collapse of scientific support may provide some minimal chance that the federal courts might block or alter EPAs rulemaking efforts, but EPA clearly has the upper hand in any litigation. Congress needs to eliminate EPAs authority to regulate carbon emissions until some scientific clarity emerges.

In a slightly differently category is the Administrations apparent decision to stop enforcing the militarys Dont Ask, Dont Tell which is statutorily mandated and has been in effect for approximately 16 years. It seems axiomatic that if the administration wants to change the policy, Congress needs to change the law.

The article deals at length with presidential recess appointments, and President Obamas threat to make use of them. The use of holds by members of the Senate seems to have gotten out of hand. All that said, the appointment power is far different from unilateral executive branch lawmaking which was never remotely considered by our Founding Fathers. And, here, we see plans for this constitutional abuse to be taken to new levels.

America is rapidly becoming a judicial and bureaucratic oligarchy. This institutional development is a threat conservatives and libertarians need to focus on much more seriously. This development is even more dangerous when coupled with the crony capitalism (corporatism) that is emerging from government ownership or subsidization of American industries. The United States is beginning to resemble the corrupt England of George IIIs era where commercial monopolies were sold by the Crown drawing the ire of the American colonists and men like Adam Smith.

Cord Blood Stem Cells Trial for Cerebral Palsy

by David Prentice

February 15, 2010

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia are conducting the first FDA-approved adult stem cell clinical trial in cerebral palsy. The trial, led by Dr. James Carroll, professor and chief of pediatric neurology in MCG School of Medicine, will investigate whether stem cells from umbilical cord blood can improve the quality of life for children with cerebral palsy. Umbilical cord blood is rich in adult-type stem cells, which can divide and morph into different types of cells throughout the body and have already shown published success in treating numerous diseases and injuries in patients.

Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg at Duke has done preliminary clinical work in this area and notes that in about 100 children, intravenous administration of autologous (the person’s own) cord blood is safe and feasible. Her results are as yet unpublished, and she cautions that there are some hints that there may be some benefits but that its very, very difficult to successfully assess efficacy. Previous anecdotal reports have indicated benefits for treated children.

Benefits of cord blood stem cells vs. embryonic stem cells were recently reviewed by Harris in the British Journal of Haematology.

I Nano-Heart You!

by David Prentice

February 14, 2010

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, scientists at Birmingham University’s Nanoscale Physics Research Lab have produced a picture of the world’s smallest Valentine heart—palladium atoms clustered together, only 8 nanometers wide. The palladium atoms spontaneously clustered together in this arrangement when placed on a special carbon base. The heart had to be viewed through a powerful electron microscope.

Horsing Around with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

February 12, 2010

Adult stem cells continue to show success after success at improving the health of patients, even though many still haven’t heard the good news. But while many physicians and scientists (and politicians) ignore the tangible benefits of adult stem cells, veterinarians have pushed ahead. The latest story is that of the over-$1-million-winning horse Thorn Song.

The horse had been severely injured in his final start at Del Mar last summer and had an almost zero chance at survival after developing laminitis. Laminitis is a disease of the hoof that is extremely painful and often fatal for horses; it is the disease that led to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro being euthanized.

Dr. Doug Herthel is the vet who founded Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center and treated Thorn Song. Alamo Pintado was the first private equine practice in the United States to open an onsite adult stem cell laboratory; they have used the procedure successfully to treat hundreds of horses with joint, tendon, and ligament injuries. However, only a few horses have been treated for laminitis with adult stem cells. According to Dr. Herthel:

I thought there would still be a less than 10% chance for him even if we tried stem cell. But within 48 hours we saw a turnaround. There was a dramatic decrease in pain and swelling, and within two weeks we started seeing amazing hoof growth. We were blown away. It went beyond our expectations. It may be the most exciting thing I have ever seen. Technology is moving forward.

Adult stem cells have successfully treated many horses and dogs. And thousands of human patients, too. And that’s not horsing around.

Legs Saved with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

February 12, 2010

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a painful circulatory problem in the legs that affects 10 million Americans. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications including stroke, amputation and death. Doctors at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio report that they have used the patient’s own adult stem cells to treat PAD. In their paper published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, they report that 8 of 9 patients treated showed some improvement, and 6 of the 9 patients avoided any amputation. Dr. Randall W. Franz, lead author on the study, noted that:

We were pleasantly surprised by our results. This is cutting-edge technology that could benefit millions of Americans with PAD.”

The six patients had restored blood flow that eliminated their constant pain and healed their ulcerations. Dr. Franz says that 16 patients have now received the procedure, with 13 patients avoiding major amputation.

The technique in this study used adult stem cells taken directly from the patients’ hips instead of sending the cells to a laboratory for culture, a process that can postpone injection for several weeks. Co-author Dr. Thomas Hankins said:

This technique sheds new light on stem cell treatment and has the potential to become the gold-standard therapy for PAD.”

This new study on PAD follows another recent report on saving legs using the patient’s own adult stem cells to treat critical limb ischemia.

Adult stem cells are saving limbs and saving lives now.

An Officer and a Lawbreaker

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 10, 2010

Lt. Dan Choi is back training with his National Guard unit.

Conventionally, this would be about as newsworthy as saying that paint dries: officers serve with their units all the time. But Lt. Choi is, by his own definition, different - he is openly homosexual. He has been appearing in the media, actively calling for a reversal of the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy concerning homosexuality.

According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, homosexuality is incompatible with military service. This is not a statement of preference, but a law. All members of the Armed Forces are required to take an oath to uphold it. Yet here we have a situation where an openly gay man, in violation of the law and, according to news accounts, with the support of his commanding officer, is wearing the uniform of our nation.

Let us say for the sake of argument that homosexuality is a moral good and that those who practice homosexual conduct should actively be recruited to serve in the country’s military (of course, Family Research Council and I personally disavow these arguments). I would still be calling for Lt. Choi’s dismissal from the service and his superior’s discipline. The military code is not a set of arcane rules that can be followed at the personal discretion of those serving. It is the ironclad law of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It is enacted by the United States Congress and signed into effect by the Commander in Chief.

Lt. Choi is flaunting the law, showing contempt for it for the sake of his personal philosophical agenda. In doing so, he is demonstrating his unfitnes as “an officer and gentleman.” What if his peers choose to obey only those orders they want? “Well, sir - and by the way, I don’t like calling you sir - taking that hill right now seems like a bad idea to me. Think I’ll go take a nap.” Order, discipline, duty, respect, achievement of mission: all are, by virtue of Dan Choi’s continued role in the Army, placed at grave risk.

Men and women in uniform do not serve at their pleasure or under the human resources regulations of civilian life. Of necessity, for the sake of the life and death circumstances intrinsic to being part of the Armed Forces, they operate under a different, particularly crafted set of rules - rules that are the law.

No American, whether in the military or not, has the right to obey only those laws he or she wishes. This is the path to moral chaos and political anarchy. It is the road to collapse.

Free Gao Zhisheng

by Robert Morrison

February 10, 2010

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to China last year, she chose to remain silent about human rights abuses by the worlds remaining Communist giant. Apparently more worried about not curtailing Chinas financial services to the US, Mrs. Clinton and her boss in the White House sent a clear signal: The Obama Administration would give China a bye on religious and political persecution.

The hint was not lost on the Chinese leaders, who on February 8, 2009 arrested Gao Zhisheng. He has been imprisoned, and unheard from, ever since.

Gao Zhisheng was once a darling of the Chinese Communists. A distinguished lawyer, he had a bright future ahead of him. He was named in 2001 as one of Chinas sharpest legal talents. But Gao made a bad career move: He spoke out in defense of persecuted Christians in China.

That was enough to arouse Beijings party cadres against him. What made matters worse for Gao was the attention his extraordinary moral courage garnered for him in the West. The New York Times even gave his story front-page coverage in 2005.

Last year, he was seized by authorities and is undergoing horrible torture, if he is even still alive. The New Yorker Magazine, to its great credit, has published stories by their Beijing correspondent, Evan Osnos, on Gao Zhisheng. Osnos related the stories coming out on Gaos treament by the brutal guo bao, Chinas euphemistically titled Public Security Bureau. George Orwells ministry of truth couldnt have said it better. Here is part of what Osnos has written:

(One) account not only accused his captors of holding burning cigarettes to his eyes, beating and starving him, and applying electric shocks to his genitals, but it also revealed their warning that he would die if he told anyone about the ordeal. …It is time for the court of world opinion to insist: Show us the prisoner and justify his detention.

Gaos case demonstrates once again a chilling truth: There is more persecution of Christians today than there has been in any century since the early martyrs. Dr. Paul Marshall, author of Their Blood Cries Out, has pointed to the two great sources of Christian persecution—Islamists and the remaining Communist regimes of North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, and China.

The Obama Administrations silence resounds from the mid-Atlantics snowy streets to the fetid prisons of Beijing. But there was a time when we had a President whose quiet, persistent and iron-strong advocacy for the persecuted spoke to Americas highest self and deepest convictions.

Barack Obama, heralded by some on the Left as our Reagan when it comes to his communication skills, speaks often with confidence and personal appeal. So did Ronald Reagan. But President Reagan didnt just have skill with a teleprompter. He spoke from a heart of profound belief in great ideas, one of which was religious liberty.

President Reagan spoke out publicly for the persecuted Christians in the USSR. He made a point—unlike Sec. Clinton—of always raising the issue of religious persecution with the Soviets. During his Presidency, the Siberian Seven—Pentecostal Christians who had sought refuge in the Spaso House, the American Embassy in Moscow—were finally freed to leave the Soviet Union. Jewish dissident Natan Scharansky famously described how he and his fellow refuseniks heard about the Evil Empire speech of Ronald Reagan. It was through coded messages tapped out on the plumbing pipes of their prison cells. Refuseniks were Russian Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel, but whose right to depart was refused by Soviet dictators.

Reagan said that religion was the Achilles heel of the Soviet system. Surely it was.

Simply by giving their first allegiance to God, and not to the state, believers deny the premises of Communist atheism.

These are issues around the world. In Beijing, Gao Zhisheng undergoes torture for his beliefs. Here in the U.S.. the harassment usually takes the form of threats of violence, lawsuits, and job discrimination. Recently defeated Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley, for example, advised Massachusetts Catholics to stay out of Emergency Rooms, to find other employment since their conscientious objections to abortion-related services prevent them from participating in certain kinds of anti-life medical procedures. Rejected by the voters, Mrs. Coakley is still the Commonwealths Attorney General. Can believers be confident their rights will be respected by Bay state officials?

In the breach of an Administration willing to stand for those suffering, there are things we can all do: Go to www.freeGao.com on the Internet. Sign the petition and contact your elected Representatives. Write the Chinese Embassy and demand an accounting of Gao and insist that he be released. If this Administration will not speak out, we can. And we can pray.

I remember Irina Ratushinskaya. She was imprisoned 28 years ago by the Soviet secret police, the KGB. Her faith sustained her through four long years in the Gulag. We prayed for Irina. She was released on the eve of the Reykjavik Summit in 1986. She said she felt the prayers of believers, helping her to survive her ordeal.

Ronald Reagan wasnt worried about offending the Soviet rulers. He spoke out time and again on behalf of those being persecuted for their faith.

History remembers him kindly. What will it say of Maos admirers and their hirers? God knows what Reagan did. Will we follow in his bold, uncompromising steps?

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