Month Archives: April 2012

Eagle Scouts Have Positive, Lasting Influence on American Society

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 16, 2012

Last fall, FRC was privileged to welcome Dr. Byron Johnson of Baylor University to our Washington, DC building for a tremendous lecture based on his book, More God, Less Crime.

Now, Dr. Johnson, Baylors Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences, director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior and co-director of the universitys Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), has issued a new report about how Eagle Scouts benefit our country.

With his colleague Sung Joon Jang, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at Baylor and an ISR Faculty Fellow, Dr. Johnson has written, Merit Beyond the Badge, which documents the significant, positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society every day.

I confess that I am drawn to this study not only because of my admiration for the Boy Scouts of America, but also because my sons are both First-Class Scouts and are on their way to Eagle rank, Scoutings highest. My wife and I are grateful for the wonderful influence of Scouting on our sons. Scouting has reinforced in them the need for high character, given them skills that literally could save their lives (and those of others), and built into them a measure of confidence and diligence that they otherwise might not have.

Beyond the Merit Badge shows that Eagle Scouts:

  • Exhibit higher levels of participation in a variety of health and recreational activities.
  • Show a greater connection to siblings, neighbors, religious community, friends, coworkers, formal and informal groups and a spiritual presence in nature
  • Share a greater belief in duty to God, service to others, service to the community and leadership
  • Engage in behaviors that are designed to enhance and protect the environment.
  • Be committed to setting and achieving personal, professional, spiritual and financial goals.
  • Show higher levels of planning and preparedness.
  • Indicate that they have built character traits related to work ethics, morality, tolerance and respect for diversity.

I see these things ever week at our regular Scout meetings. Of course, Scouts are boys, not angels, and as with every institution that involves people, there are periodic problems and difficulties to overcome.

Yet some of those problems are not of Scoutings making. Those committed to advancing a pro-homosexual social agenda have targeted the BSA because the latter believes:

… an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law … The BSA does not equate homosexuality with pedophilia, but neither avowed homosexuals nor pedophiles are appropriate role models for Scouting youth … The Boy Scouts of America makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any member or leader. Scouting’s message is compromised when members or leaders present themselves as role models whose actions are inconsistent with the standards set in the Scout Oath and Law.

The Supreme Court, in 2000, upheld the Scouts standing as a private organization with the right to set its own membership and leadership standards. For that past 12 years, at least, this has meant that Scoutings conviction that homosexuality is incompatible with its mission and activities has been sustained throughout the BSA.

Many of the boys in Scouting come from fatherless homes. Scouting provides them with role models, both older Scouts and men in leadership capacities, who can help make up what is lacking in their lives: The interest, respect, and affection of a man. It is because so many of these boys are vulnerable that the BSA not only prohibits homosexuality, but will not even allow a single Boy Scout to be alone with an adult, even for a short walk. The Scouts buddy system exists for a reason.

There are Scouts in 155 nations. Many religions participate in Scouting, making Scouts a sore spot for avowed atheists and agnostics. Yet Scoutings affirmation of a Creator to Whom all are accountable is foundational to Scoutings emphasis on remaining morally straight. And many Scout troops are chartered by churches, which enable people of various faiths to retain both their unique religious identities and share in the common fellowship of Scouting.

Scouting remains a pivotal activity for an estimated 2.7 million boys (and 1.1 million adults) nationwide, teaching them how to serve, volunteer, protect others, and work effectively and cheerfully with boys and young men of various racial, religious, ethnic, economic, and educational background.

Tonight, with about 50-60 other boys of every race, height, and home-life, my sons will be at our church gymnasium taking an oath. They will raise their right hands and say, On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

One of the boys will pray briefly and the flag will be saluted, and then myriad activities will get underway.

I cant wait.

What, A Christian President? An Evangelical?

by Robert Morrison

April 13, 2012

You could almost hear the audible sighs of relief that went up in the suites in Washingtonand on Wall Street when Rick Santorum suspended his campaign for President. The reaction was quite familiar to me: I remember well how one of my college friends greeted the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. My friend, the owner of a Mercedes dealership in town, said: This is better than Reagan. Now, if you and your friends in the trailer parks of Manassas will just shut up about abortion and school prayer, we will have heaven on earth.

Well, we all have our religion, dont we? There was a time, however, when Republicans were not so antagonistic to Evangelicals. The untold story of the rise to power and prominence of James A. Garfield is one of deep devotion and special pathos.

Candice Millards Destiny of the Republic tells how Garfield was the surprising choice of the Republican convention in 1880. The party was torn between Stalwartssupporters of former President Ulysses S. Grantand Half-Breeds, those who sought modest reforms and who aligned with Maines charismatic James Gillespie Blaine.

Congressman James A. Garfield came to Chicago for the GOP convention determined to place in nomination the name of his good friend, Ohios U.S. Senator John Sherman. Shermans young brother, William Tecumseh Sherman, was credited with the Union victory in the Civil War. Republican delegates would clearly have preferred Gen. Sherman to his colorless brother, but Cump had cut them off: If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. Ever since, thats what people mean by a Shermanesque refusal of candidacy.

Garfield dutifully placed in nomination his states favorite son, but Sen. Sherman soon proved to be a non-starter. When Grants Stalwarts were unable to win an unprecedented third term nomination for the Hero of Appomattox, and Blaine could not secure a majority, the weary delegates in that smoke-filled hall, beaten down by thirty-five ballots, turned in desperation to Garfield. He protested. Cast my vote for Sherman, he cried out, but his voice was muffled in the roar of approval for his name.

New Yorks wily Sen. Roscoe Conkling had led the Stalwarts for Grant, but he acknowledged Garfields victory and made the nomination unanimous.

Garfields war record was his strongest qualification in an era where Republican canvassers regularly waved the bloody shirt. During the war, young Gen. Garfield had been responsible for securing Kentucky for the Union. Lincolns secretary, 23-year old John Hay, once told visitors the president hopes to have God on his side, but he must have Kentucky. Many Americans thought the tall, broad-shouldered Garfield was heaven-sent for just that task.

Garfieldhad been a college president and a member of Congress. He had even been chosen as the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Still, his unexpected nomination was surely that of a dark horse.

Tradition prevented Garfield from campaigning for president. But he could decorously welcome delegations of party faithful who trekked to his Mentor, Ohio farmstead. Garfield greeted one of these, a gathering of German-Americans. He delivered his remarks in flawless German, thus becoming the first candidate to offer a campaign address in a foreign language.

Easily elected, Garfield determined to reconcile the South without abandoning the newly freed black voters living there. He was insistent on equal rights for all.

Then, tragedy struck.Garfieldarrived atWashingtons Baltimore & Potomac railroad station onJuly 2, 1881in close conversation with his Secretary of State, James G. Blaine. A disappointed office seeker, Charles J. Guiteau, fired on the president, his bullet striking the 49-year old in the back. I am a Stalwart and now [Vice President] Arthur is president, yelled Guiteau as he was wrestled to the floor.

Soon, the fallen president was surrounded by doctors. Disregarding the pioneering work on antisepsis that had been introduced by Britains Dr. Joseph Lister, Dr. Willard Bliss bossily took over the care of the stricken Garfield. Bliss and other attending physicians probed the wound with unsanitary fingers and instruments.

The brilliant inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, volunteered to help locate the bullet. He used technology hed mastered in his invention of the telephone. He devised and successfully tested an induction balance. But Bliss was so sure he knew the path of the bullet, he would not permitBellto examine the presidents right side.

All through July and August of 1881, President Garfield wasted away as infection spread through his body. Finally, in September, he demanded to be taken to the seaside. A specially constructed train took Garfield to Elberon, on the Jersey shore.

To reach the seaside mansion that had been loaned to the presidents family, a thousand men worked through the night to lay railroad track. When the final approach to the home proved too steep, two hundred men pushed the presidents rail car by hand.

There, lulled by the ocean waves he loved, this brave Christian man died onSeptember 19, 1881. Once, during his long decline, Garfield asked a friend if he would be remembered in history. Better than that, his friend said, youll be remembered in the hearts of the people. And for some years, he was.

Im indebted to Candice Millard for the moving and beautiful story of a great man who never had the chance to become a great president. After a brief affair early in their marriage, James Garfield learned to cherish Lucretia for her strength and courage. Through the years, they were bound together in mutual love for their five living children and in shared grief for the two beloved little ones they had lost. Deeply repentant, Garfield even became a minister in the Disciples of Christ church, our only president to be ordained.

Perhaps most touching of all scenes in this powerful portrayal was the reaction of Washingtons black community to Garfields death. Many of these newly freed former slaves, still struggling to make a living, tore their best suits and dresses in strips to drape their modest homes in mourning black.

James Abram Garfield, war hero, scholar, able public servant, Evangelical, deserves a place in our hearts. Thanks to Candice Millards fine work, he has a place in mine.

The Social Conservative Review: April 12, 2012

by Krystle Gabele

April 12, 2012

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.

Dear Friends,

South Dakota is big. A vast expanse of prairies and farmland, it is known for the Black Hills, the Badlands, and the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

But recently the home of Mt. Rushmore earned notoriety for another achievement: It became the 15th state to enact legislation not to include abortion in its federally-mandated insurance plans.

There is more good news from the states: In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has signed a measure prohibiting abortion coverage in the state exchange of health plans and also an informed consent/non-coercion abortion bill. He also signed a bill that “requires teachers in schools that offer sex education to stress abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”

And in my home state of Washington, a measure that would have required “all individuals to purchase and all businesses sell abortion insurance coverage on a maternity plan” has died an unlamented legislative death.

Those who believe in a culture where the rights to life and conscience are honored can take heart from these victories. They are not comprehensive and, like everything else in politics, are battles that probably will have to be re-fought in coming years. But they show two things: (1) Incremental wins are important - they make a difference in the lives of many - and (2) elections matter.

I would urge those who argue that that voting at election time is inconsequential and that all politicians are alike to reflect on these things.

Your vote counts. So do your prayers. Let’s not lose heart, but keep moving forward.


Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice-President

Family Research Council

P.S. Today FRC President Tony Perkins talked with Rick Santorum in the Senator’s first interview after withdrawing from the presidential race earlier this week. Click here to listen to the conversation.

Educational Freedom and Reform


Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform



Health Care


Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts


Human Life and Bioethics


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

Women’s Health

Marriage and Family


Family Economics

Family Structure




Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in America




International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Judicial Activism

Other News of Note

Book reviews

Nearer My God to Thee

by Family Research Council

April 11, 2012

With the Centennial of the Titanic upon us, there is intense interest in almost every aspect of the great ships sinking. When theHollywood blockbuster came out in 1997, it was the first movie ever to gross $1 billion. Millions of people have their impressions of that event shaped by the powerful propaganda of James Cameron. Too bad.

Mark Steyn said it well in denouncing the lies of the movie.

[Cameron] traduced the memory of honorable men: In my book, I cite First Officer William Murdoch. In real life, he threw deckchairs to passengers drowning in the water to give them something to cling to, and then he went down with the ship the dull, decent thing, all very British, with no fuss. In Camerons movie, Murdoch takes a bribe and murders a third-class passenger. The director subsequently apologized to the First Officers hometown in Scotland and offered 5,000 toward a memorial, which converted into Hollywood dollars equals rather less than what Cameron and his family paid for dinner after the Oscars.

Some years back, when my wife and I visitedIreland, we stayed in an eleventh century castle that had been restored as a hotel. I swam daily in the hotel pool. I was alone. I had the eeriest feeling that I had been there before. But Id never set foot on the Emerald Isle.

Only when I spied the life ring on the wall did I realize why it all looked so familiar. Inspired no doubt by the movies success, the hotel designers had put RMS Titanic on the life ring and modeled the swimming pool after the one on the doomed liner. Id seen it in books.

Ever since the Titanic went down on that moonless night of April 14-15, 1912, there have been controversies about her fate. Recently, National Geographic speculated about a Super Moon that may have caused an unusual confluence of the tides. And this could have caused more icebergs than usual.

Of the writing of many books about Titanic there is no end. Whether the ships orchestra played Nearer My God to Thee as she slipped beneath the waves or, as some reliable witnesses record, they played Autumn is a subject of conjecture. The miracle is that those brave men played.

Contrast the devotion to duty and the stern self-discipline of the ships crew as they met their death with the wreck of the Medusa. In 1816, this French ship had foundered off the coast of Senegal. Florence Williams wrote in the New York Times what happened then.

After just a few minutes at sea, an officer in the governors lifeboat lowered a hatchet and cut the rope that joined it to the raft. The other lifeboats pulled away in what Miles calls a cowardly evacuation. The raft was on its own, provisioned with only a few caskets of wine and some soggy biscuits. The men and one woman on board entered one of those mind-numbing episodes of human depravity, madness, fear and brutality that show what the human species is really capable of. The second night, a rabble of combustible professional killers went on a rampage. By dawn, 60 people were dead and only one barrel of wine remained. In short order, more murder, suicide, sickness, famine and cannibalism ensued. After 12 days, they sighted the French ship Argus on the horizon, only to watch it disappear. Remarkably, it reappeared two hours later because of a change in the wind. Of the original 147 people aboard, only 15 were left.

The horror of the worst shipwreck of the 19th century was captured by French romantic painter Theodore Gericault in his Raft of the Medusa. Writers typically attribute the Medusa tragedy to political divisions, class struggles and ethnic antagonisms.

Might we see the two events instead as reflections of what people most deeply believe? The men of the Titanic has been schooled in aBritain where men were taught the code of women and children first. That is what it was to be a man. The code was strongly influenced by the Evangelical Christianity that blossomed in Victorian England and shaped its mores.

Francehad been convulsed for a generation before the wreck of the Medusa. Her revolutionary ideals of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite had degenerated into tyranny and mass murder. Is it any wonder that men trained up in such a society, when they are threatened with imminent death, respond with Sauve qui peut every man for himself?

American men were once held to the Titanic standard. Increasingly, we are being dumbed down to the level of the Medusa. I recall being ordered to go through The Lifeboat Exercise. This so-called Values Clarification course has been offered in thousands of American schools, universities and businesses. Its an invitation to join the Medusa men and rationalize your choices. Oddly, the infamous Lifeboat Exercise was imposed on me in the Coast Guard. Coasties are arguably the last people on earth who should be drilled in such Values Scarification.

Winston Churchill wrote in 1912 that Britons had every reason to be proud of their conduct on that night to remember. Churchill was right. The men of the Titanic deserve honor and gratitude. The Titanic Mens Memorial in Washington, D.C. is part of the respect that we owe their memory. And let us all thank Doug Philips and the Christian Mens and Boys Titanic Society.

They are keeping alive the Titanic credo: Women and Children First!

Senior Fellow Robert Morrison made a 1973 iceberg patrol in the Coast Guard. Leslie Morrison, his father, thirty years earlier survived the U-boat sinking of his ship.

Two paths diverge in a partisan town

by Family Research Council

April 11, 2012

The poet Robert Frost once wrote of two paths diverging in a yellow wood. After pondering the merits of each way, he makes a choice.

While our Federal city isnt much of a yellow wood, there are two fiscal paths that diverge in front of our lawmakers. Based on projections from the Congressional Budget Office, President Obama’s budgetary path would substantially increase Federal social benefits as a share of GDPfrom about 16.7 in 2010 to 23.1 percent of GDP in 2085.

In contrast, the path proposed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would prevent such an increase by fundamentally reforming Federal health care programs.

In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Networks David Brody, Chairman Ryan articulated the differences:

We want to restore the American dream for everybody in American society so that every person has a chance at equal opportunity to make the most of their lives. The presidents vision, I believe, is to equalize the outcome of peoples lives - not to promote natural rights and equal opportunity, but new government granted rights and equality of outcome. Its a very different vision of what it used to be, and I really think thats where the president is trying to take this country.

While we can assume that the President intends no personal malice towards the American dream, his budget threatens to curtail and redefine it.

Economist and author, John D. Mueller has crunched the numbers on the Presidents budget and compared it to Chairman Ryans alternative. He projects that the U.S. birth rate will fall significantly under current law, from about 2.1 to about 1.75 children per couple in 2085. He further projects that would remain almost exactly at the replacement rate of 2.1 under the proposed Ryan budget, approximating the Social Security Trustees’ Intermediate Assumptions.

Join us today for a lunchtime lecture as Mueller releases his original research and why these birthrate projections even matter.

Two budgetary paths diverge in a partisan town. Taking the one less traveled by might make all the difference.

Register here for the live event, or to attend by webcast.

Plow Day 2012: Celebrating Farming on Marylands Eastern Shore

by Robert Morrison

April 10, 2012

My wife and I eagerly looked forward to Plow Day on Marylands Eastern Shore.

Neither of us grew up on a farm, but we like getting in touch with our families roots. Like most Americans, we are just two or three generations removed from the farm. Today, less than five percent of Americas population lives on farms. At the Founding, it was the reverse; in the 1790 Census, more than 95% of Americans grew up on farms.

Older Americans in too many cities live in fear. Its not uncommon to see their apartments double-locked and windows grated. In farm country, older folks are respected.

Mount Hermons Plow Day 2012 began with a salute to long-time farmers, those 75 and older. These men could tell stories of plowing in the days before tractors, even before electricity came to the farm.

Originally, Plow Day was planned as a tribute to a rural way of life that is fast disappearing. Rev. Oren Perdue pastored the nearby Salisbury Baptist Temple for more than thirty years. His idea was to celebrate the values and the virtues of farm life.

He reminds attendees of the time when the church was the center of community life.

We should not trade technology for common sense, he says.

Although Plow Day started off six years ago with 250 attendees, it has grown to over 2,000. Local TV and print reporters are drawn to this annual event.

I remember stories my grandfather told me about plowing on his Virginia farm. My dad grew up on a farm in upstate New York. And my uncle had a dairy farm in Connecticut.

My wifes grandfather came to America from Canada as a young man. Originally from Wales, Ernest Lloyd sought opportunity in this land of the free. Hungry and penniless, he got a job as a ranch hand in Eastern Washington. The ranch foreman hired him and told him to sleep in the barn. In the middle of the night, the foreman caught young Ernest trying to figure out how to properly hitch up horses for plowing in the morning. Ernest had the tack spread out on the dirt floor of the barn, searching it by lantern light. The foreman, angered, accused the young Canadian of lying to him. I never lied to you, sir, Ernest said, I said I could do the work and I can. If you show me once, youll never have to show me again. We call that the can do American spirit. In this case, it came here from Canada.

Pastor Perdues son-in-law, Jason Coulbourne, spoke to me above the fiddle music and country tunes punctuated by the sound of hammered dulcimer. I even recognize some hymns that were penned by Fannie Crosby, the amazing blind composer of the 19th century revivals.

Jason tells me: Gods hand is in this. And we certainly have been blessed with beautiful weather for the event. He makes a point of telling me that children are cherished on the farm. Youngsters have a need to be needed, he says, and on farms, they are all needed.

He explains that farmers may not be the richest people in the country, but their values are time-tested and true. I ask: Seek ye first? And Jason finishes the Scripture quote for me.

I am pulled away. Its my turn to plow. Ive never done this before. The whole idea of Plow Day is to have local people, mostly men and boys, take turns behind teams of mules, horses, and oxen. This way, they learn something of our farming heritage.

My son, Jim, and I have to share our turn. One hundred others have signed up to plow. Jim does well plowing a straight furrow. I twist my foot in a holeno harm done. But it doesn’t help to plow at a 90-degree angle from your intended path. I soon learn there is no R for reverse on a plow.

Back with Jason, Im surprised to learn he has been following the story of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the imprisoned Christian convert in Iran. He thinks, erroneously as it turns out, that Pastor Nadarkhani has been hanged in Tehran for the crime of converting to Christianity.

In itself, this little exchange is a minor miracle. Half a world away from bloody, tyrannicalIran, a Christian brother is praying for a man he has never met. The father of godless Communism Karl Marx sneered at farmers. He wrote of the idiocy of rural life. But here I found a community of alert, caring people, a sharing of ideals with folks I had never before met. The love of families and children is so clear here. Its why we come back to Plow Days.

The Glory and Romance of Appomattox

by Family Research Council

April 9, 2012

When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on this date in 1865 to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, national legends were born. The ironies of that event astonished the country for generations. Fewer and fewer Americans can tell you what every schoolchild once knew about this event in our countrys past.

The National Archives building in Washington proclaims its purpose in stone. It was built to house evidences of the glory and romance of our history. Increasingly, its not just the evidences of our American past that are dismissed, but the very idea of glory and romance that is denied.

Get real, we are told. But Appomattox is real. A nation that tore itself apart for four bloody years conducted a surrender ceremony marked by not a single act designed to humiliate a defeated rebellion.

How bloody? Today, we speak of 9/11 in hushed tones. Or at least we should. A nation of almost 300 million lost 2,975 on that terrible September day. It was the worst act of domestic terrorism in our history. Millions of Americans learned that they knew someone who died that day, or at least knew a relative of one of the dead.

Imagine how much more horrible it would be for a nation of just 35 million to lose 630,000 lives. Add to that suffering of tens of thousands of young men maimed for life in battles that, as The Civil War narrator David McCullough tells us, were fought in 10,000 places throughout America.

You would think a thirst for vengeance would overcome some of the Union soldiers. They had marched through Virginia for four years. Many had seen their brothers, or best friends, blown to pieces by rebel artillery.

My great-great uncle, Capt. Jonas Lipps, fought in the Stonewall Brigade. He was taken prisoner by Union forces outside of Spotsylvania Courthouse in May, 1864. One of his Union guards lunged at him with a bayonet. Jonas jumped back, but was stabbed through the fleshy part of his arm. He pulled out the bayonet and ran the guard through, killing him with his own bayonet.

When other Union soldiers rushed to kill Jonas, the captain of the guards ordered them to cease: That rebel captain is unarmed; he was only defending himself. Leave him alone. Jonas survived the day, only to die a year later in a POW camp, just days before Appomattox and peace. But this story especially the evidence of justice and mercy shown by the captain of the guard should strengthen us today.

Appomattox was not the final event of the Civil War. Union Gen. William T. Sherman was still vigorously pursuing Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston through the Carolinas.

But Lees surrender meant that Johnstons defeat, and soon that of other Confederate forces, was only a matter of time.

At sea, amazingly, the CSS Shenandoah would continue to destroy Union commerce and raid Yankee whalers long after Appomattox. Without reliable communications, this feared Confederate warship would fight on for months. Only in November, 1865, did the Shenandoah end her struggles in Liverpool, England.

U.S. Grant had respect for Robert E. Lee, but he did not hold him in awe. Bobby Lee! Bobby Lee! Grant had once growled at his generals. Im tired of hearing about Bobby Lee. Youd think he was about to turn a somersault and land in our campfires. I want to know what we are going to do. Grant always believed the best defense was a good offense.

Grants drive to destroy Lees army was a brutal, costly affair. Grant had ordered a charge at Cold Harbor, Virginia, that cost 7,000 Union lives in 20 minutes. Twenty years later, in his justly famous Personal Memoirs, he would express regret for ever having given that order.

Grant had to live with being called a butcher. Its a strange charge, since Robert E. Lee is never called a butcher. Lee had sacrificed, proportionately, more of his brave young men than Grant had.

It would be wonderful if every American could go to Appomattox. It is especially beautiful there in springtime. The blossoms testify to new life and rebirth.

I had the privilege five years ago of taking a class of FRC interns to Appomattox in the spring. They had come from as far away as California.

I had not fully realized how remote this little Virginia village is. Leaving Appomattox, we headed toward Richmond. A heavy spring rain turned the dirt roads to mud. It was the same road Gen. Lee must have traveled after Appomattox.

I remember pressing intern Nathan Macy about the GPS route. Fearing that we were lost, I asked Nathan to double-check. He did and assured me we were on the correct road. Well, I told Nathan, Gen. Lee only came here once. And he was being chased.

Thoughts on the President’s Easter Remarks

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 4, 2012

As he did last year, President Obama offered some moving remarks about the meaning of Easter to a group of pastors this morning at the White House. Among his most noteworthy comments:

Its only because He endured unimaginable pain that wracked His body and bore the sins of the world that He burdened — that burdened His soul that we are able to proclaim, He is Risen! So the struggle to fathom that unfathomable sacrifice makes Easter all the more meaningful to all of us. It helps us to provide an eternal perspective to whatever temporal challenges we face.

Well, amen. Good words. Although contra Mr. Obama in another section of the speech, Jesus did not “know doubt.” He knew the unutterable pain that would be His, but anticipation of suffering and doubt as to its purpose are two different things.

But not to nitpick: it is encouraging when an American President refers to “the sacrifice of a risen savior who died so that we might live.” Yet lost, sadly, in his affirmation of the reality of an atoning death and justifying resurrection is the potency it would have were Mr. Obama to ally himself to what Paul the Apostle called “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This includes the belief that the unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt with recognition of his cousin Jesus (Luke 1:41), that the risen Savior was conceived in a virgin’s womb, that the kind of marriage ordained by God in Genesis 2 and affirmed by Jesus at Cana (John 2) exists only between a man and a woman, that honoring religious convictions means not coercing those who hold them into violating their consciences.

The President need not be a theologian, but his encouraging profession of trust in Christ is dampened by his unwillingness to apply the implications of that relationship to his public policies. Now, three years on, doing so should not be above his paygrade - or beyond the reach of his faith.

College Debt and Senior Citizens

by Chris Gacek

April 3, 2012

Ylan Q. Mui, a financial journalist for the Washington Times, has written a fine article on college debt that brings surprising information to the debate. It turns out that some senior citizens have not escaped the burdens of this type of debt:

New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.

Some of the elderly incurred loan themselves when they returned to school for a career change or more training. Others were hurt after they co-signed college loans for family members, and the family member was unable to make the loan payments. (In one case described on a CNBC documentary, the child-student died in an auto accident and the co-signing parents had to assume responsibility for massive loans. This leads to two conclusions: 1) do not co-sign loans for family members; and, 2) if you do, take out life and disability policies to cover contingencies.)

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