David And Goliath In California: Dedicated Shepherds Versus A Predatory Industry

California’s proposed AB 775 is so sinister for Christians who actually seek and serve Jesus Christ – and the bill’s supporters know it – that they keep changing hearing and voting sessions when they discover how many opponents are showing up. The bill is simple in its majestic arrogance. It would require leaders of pregnancy care clinics – read: ministries promoting life for unborn children and their parents – to advertise and refer their clients for abortion. Apart from the obvious trashing of the First Amendment inherent in forcing people into politically correct speaking is the colossal unfairness. Nobody is trying to force Planned Parenthood – the bill’s chief supporter – to refer their clients to pregnancy care centers.

The bill would also require pregnancy care centers to upgrade their facilities before operating as medical clinics with volunteer doctors and nurses supplying prenatal care. No one has ever died in a pregnancy care center – whether from sloppy procedures or unsanitary conditions. There have been many deaths due to treatment in abortion clinics; yet no one is trying to force Planned Parenthood to upgrade their standards of care – not in this bill.

Truth is Planned Parenthood rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars each year, much of it taxpayers’ money. I never saw a pregnancy care center operated on anything but a shoestring. Yet Planned Parenthood uses its lobbying power – bullying power – to try to force these little centers to send them business with the sanction of state law.

The contest is an unequal one, with David kicking the tar out of Goliath once again. Since 40 Days for Life began less than a decade ago, more than sixty Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinics have closed their doors in response to this campaign alone; more than a hundred workers have quit their jobs. Appointments for abortions taper off by as much as seventy-five percent when the volunteers are praying and blessing and worshiping outside the clinics – that is all they do except to speak when spoken to – and so many doctors now refuse to do elective abortions in California that the legislature changed the law to allow non-physicians to perform them. It is small wonder Planned Parenthood has pulled out all the stops to run David off the road. It is well known they have attempted to invoke anti-racketeering statutes against those keeping vigil; now, they seek to force pro-life ministries to drum up business for them.

They have boasted a board of so-called pastors who stand for “reproductive rights” almost since Roe v. Wade came down. This Spring, several large newspapers carried stories in which these ‘clergy’ say pro-life volunteers are acting contrary to the instructions of their spiritual leaders. Who are these people, and why would I refer to them as so-called pastors?

They all align themselves with the Coalition for Reproductive Choice; this is Newspeak for favoring the killing of unborn children when the prospect of a birth is anywhere from traumatic to inconvenient. A quick trip to the Planned Parenthood website reveals some are rabbis of humanist and/or reconstructionist synagogues – Jews who do not believe there is an actual God, of the Jews or of anyone else. Then you have the Episcopalians; their presiding bishop is on record (Time Magazine) as saying that Jesus is but one of the ways to the Father. There are the Unitarian/Universalist members who never believed there was a savior – or a need for one. The board is rounded out by representatives of other denominations who left the Christian fold a long time ago, and a Muslim or two. When we consider that the words “clergy” and “pastor” traditionally refer to Christian shepherds, and none of these people believe in that Christ from whom we take the name Christian, I can be excused for dismissing all of them as frauds pretending to be Christians. But Planned Parenthood has never had a problem with lying or fraud.

They still hope the rest of us will not uncover the fact their founder, Margaret Sanger, was a devoted believer in ethnic cleansing through abortion and selective breeding, or that even today about two thirds of their clinics are in black neighborhoods. Blacks comprise about twelve percent of the population.

I will never forget the man dressed as a priest – as I was – in the hearing room in which testimony was taken by the Senate Health Committee on SB 128 – the assisted suicide bill – last March 25. As he testified for the bill, he had the gall to cite the most famous verse of the Book of Esther: “You were born for such a time as this.” When I testified against the bill, I pointed out that the verse referred to saving lives – not taking them – and mentioned that twisting scripture was not the same as quoting it. I was booed by the two hundred and fifty supporters of Goliath in that hearing room. Whether the issue is assisted suicide or muzzling the voices for life that has not yet left the womb, the cast of characters changes neither identity nor tactics.

If we wish to back David’s play, we can start with acknowledging that – whatever our own convictions about abortion-on-demand – the Christian Faith as expressed in the Christian Bible is as much on the side of life for the unborn as for God’s other children. One can certainly support abortion, but one cannot claim (truthfully) to be a Christian while doing it. Likewise, legislators can support the assault on freedom of speech and faith that is AB 775 if that seems like a good thing to do. But lawmakers cannot (truthfully) claim to represent a government of laws and not of men while doing it.

There is good news. In 1 Kings, Elijah offered a sacrificial bull and invited the prophets of Baal to do the same thing. It was a level playing field because his challenge was that the deity who answered with supernatural fire would be acknowledged as the only authentic God by all present. When the God of the Jews did indeed answer, the case was closed. (BTW, the drought plaguing Israel ended as well.) The good news is this: If the people of California stand as one and demand of their lawmakers a level playing field – both sides in the abortion debate given unlimited opportunity to make their case to the public instead of Goliath binding David’s hands behind his back – the debate ends sooner or later with all of us standing with truth, with God, and with the voiceless ones whose backs we should always have.

 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

‘The Last Ship’–A Must-See Show If You Love America

Americans of all stripes love to put down the entertainment industry. It is too violent, too politically correct, not violent enough, not politically correct enough. We still watch. We flock to movies based on comic books, and we make a television series like Modern Family a mega hit even though anyone who thinks it’s a realistic depiction of family needs to actually spend time in one. Then along comes a hit based on heroism, patriotism, and faithfulness; and it is panned by the critics. I refer to the first season of the TNT series The Last Ship.

A US Navy destroyer is on a mission in the Arctic when a global pandemic breaks out. By the time they hear of the disaster, eighty percent of the population is estimated infected or dead, they are under attack by rogue Russian forces, and they have lost contact with their chain of command – which appears to no longer exist. Their new mission is to use the samples of the original virus collected in the Arctic as raw material with which the Centers for Disease Control doctor on board – and on secret assignment – can create a vaccine or antidote or both. As entertainment, it celebrates the highest incarnation of the American character – including our traditional and dynamic reliance on God to draw out the fullness of our humanity.

The cries of non-credibility are expressed in terms of “no crew is that heroic or patriotic in the face of such a disaster,” or “no captain is that iron jawed,” or even “the performances are wooden and one-dimensional.” Inasmuch as these are clearly NOT the main objections, let me knock down the straw men quickly.

Crew members – from officers to ratings – show plenty of ambivalence about their mission and continued service in the face of the total breakdown of civilization. A score decide to leave the ship because their enlistments are up, but change their minds and re-up as a body. The show presents American military people as the flawed but utterly dedicated human beings the vast majority of them are; they are why I am so proud to be an American in the face of the savagery our people encounter on many battlefields without losing their humanity. The captain has his moments of ambivalence – and errors in judgment – but he always comes back to accept responsibility for his missteps and have another go at it. Most of the time, he is a great example to his crew in that he is doing his job and nothing more nor less. The performances range from adequate to awesome, with almost every character exhibiting – one way or another and sooner or later, after internal struggle – that heroism Ernest Hemingway defined as grace under pressure.

My own credibility rant would focus on the captain being a part of every foray off the ship. The captain is the least expendable crew member and ought to be minding the store. But we accepted this in every captain in every Star Trek from original to sequel to prequel and just went with it. It’s still a television drama. Why not give Captain Chandler the same break we give Captain Kirk?  Why not is because of the references to God. Really.

The master chief tells the captain and others he has been placed on the ship by God and for His purposes. Members of the crew are observed praying in varying circumstances from the worshipful to the critical. In at least two episodes, miracles occur; and there are other events open to that interpretation. The captain has not yet revealed his faith or lack thereof; it is pretty clear the XO is a believer. As one would expect, there are varying degrees and visibilities of faith – and plenty of characters who exhibit none whatever. The crew is a mixed bag, just like the culture in which the rest of us live – in the real world. Nobody recoils in horror when the master chief prays for a miracle, reads his Bible, or says yet again that God has placed him on this ship for His purposes. In other words, faith is portrayed as a potent feature of everyday life.

My prayer for this most excellent program is that it neither descend to a televised Bible study nor blow away into the winds of politically correct New Agey nonsense. I pray the writers and producers maintain their integrity and their commitment to excellence. I pray the new season that began June 21, 2015 sees millions of Americans tune in to TNT at 9 PM Sundays.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Join Me For A California Day Of Repentance

It was raining throughout Central and Southern California in May. This is a praise to the Lord, but not the coming millennium. We have had abundant rains from time to time–and waters literally bubbling from the ground filling dry riverbeds the past year. God’s mercy came when we needed it most; it hasn’t seriously dented the parched state of our state. Neither will this.

Reality has been demonstrated that our drought is of supernatural causation. There is simply no natural explanation for the lingering high pressure ridge over California deflecting storms naturally approaching without falling on us. There is a biblical explanation for people open-minded enough to seek answers wherever they may be found. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 claims whenever drought persists, we should look to our own recurrent behavior. God then prescribes humbling ourselves, seeking His face in prayer and repentance – He speaks here to those of us who recognize His sovereignty; there is no effort to coerce the unconverted – He will literally hear, forgive, and heal. I have seen documented fruit of this process in diverse locations like Guatemala, Hawaii, and Fiji.

The criteria for crisis is the repetitive presence of covenant breaking, sexual sin, idolatry, and the shedding of innocent blood. We face a state government that increasingly disregards our constitutions – state and federal – from placing water meters on privately owned wells to expelling from university campuses Christian groups who expect to be led by professing Christians.  During recent riots, Oakland police were forbidden from protecting life and property. So much for covenant breaking. And lest we say “But we citizens are not the government…”–let us remember who keeps voting lawless people into office.

As to the other criteria, reflect that the worldwide pornography industry is centered in Southern California to acknowledge the sexual sin piece. We need look only to our governor’s visionless strategy to raise Shasta Dam and subsequently increase our capacity to store the water we do not have – and build tunnels through the Sacramento River Delta to transfer water Northern California doesn’t have to a Southern California that doesn’t have it – to demonstrate our idolatry of our own ingenuity. A California leading the nation in butchering Native Americans over two centuries while outstripping other states in elective abortions and suicides tops out in shedding innocent blood. Now, our leaders want to legalize assisted suicide and compel those who would save unborn lives through pregnancy care centers to refer their clients for abortion services. We the people put these butchers in office; we are responsible.

I deliberately paint the picture in stark terms for the sake of the good news which lightens it. The Lord moved dramatically when Ancient Israel exercised 2 Chronicles. The United States exists today because George Washington’s army was spared destruction on Long Island when the Lord hid it from the attacking British through a weather miracle after it was surrounded; this followed prayer and fasting. The Battle of Gettysburg – the turning point of the Civil War – followed by weeks the 1863 Lincoln-proclaimed Day of Fasting and Prayer. We in California have the same opportunity.

The California Day of Repentance is set for Wednesday, September 9, California’s Admission Day. Unlike the half dozen or so other states who have held such a day with the support of their state governors, ours will be a totally grassroots effort. This makes it that much better for the state as we invite leaders in the political, cultural, scientific, business, and Body-of-Christ spheres to bless the day sponsored by National Day of Repentance, California Governor’s Prayer Team, and PrayNorthState. As in other events sharing this sponsorship, no effort is made to get ministries and communities to conform to some master plan of repentance. More information can be found at www.dayofrepentance1.org regarding what some are planning, but everyone is free to observe the day as they feel led.

What matters is California Christians recognizing this drought comes not for destruction, but to get our attention.  God has promised – and birthed – a Great Awakening that will resurrect California on many levels – if we receive it. Our ticket to participation is to repent and re-focus on Him.

This is a win-win for those of us who know Christ. If He is as good as I know Him to be, California Christians (and any who join us) can get on the road to recovering our identity in Christ and resurrecting our state. He is that good.

Of course, there is an alternative for those who think repentance a waste of time. They can raise the top of Shasta Dam to better store all that water we don’t have.

 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Freedom Of Speech And Faith Not For Wimps

Brother Tatsuo is a man who likes to talk about his best friend, Jesus, outside the Torrance, California, Department of Motor Vehicles. He talks with anyone who wishes to engage and leaves alone those who do not. While talking in February, he was surrounded by police, handcuffed, and arrested. He was charged with what amounted to offending someone by speaking about God in front of a government office.

Brother Tatsuo retained attorneys from Pacific Justice Institute, but the judge abruptly dropped all charges. Someone figured out it is not a crime to exercise First Amendment rights in front of the DMV. My question is whether Brother Tatsuo will now sue the Torrance Police for false arrest and assault under color of authority. I think he should. I think he should because I think we should all be sick and tired of being harassed by officials who neither know nor care what the law actually says.

I think we should be just as sick and tired of wimp demagogues like Al Sharpton who encourage riots and then leave town for the next racial hot spot they can find. I would like to see him in jail – inciting to riot is actually a crime in most places – or bankrupted in civil court for the damage he causes to many lives before escaping what he foments. Speech like his – exhorting and encouraging crime – is not protected under the First Amendment, nor should it be.

I would like to see Dan Savage, the gay activist who loves to mock and bully high schoolers when they are a captive audience, lose his television program and live on unemployment checks. His repulsive speech is constitutionally protected, but so is my call to shun the man and his bigotry toward any who disagree with him. I am betting he is not so brave when he doesn’t have paid security all around him.

I would like to see sued the wimp city officials in New York, Baltimore, and Oakland who ordered police to stand down during recent rioting in those cities because they wanted to limit the violence to mere burning of buildings and businesses. I would like to see those officials living on welfare and in the projects so they would know what it is to be afraid to close their eyes at night. Free speech and faith is a right for Americans and for Christians; wimp officials who hide in their high rise government offices should lose what they gain when they refuse to protect those rights.

Kirsten Powers is anything but a wimp. A left-leaning pundit, the Fox News contributor and USA Today columnist calls her friends “the illiberal left” and accuses them of hijacking free speech and expression in her book “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” She cites the smear campaign against Chic Fil A President Dan Cathy for daring to say he supported traditional marriage; this was more a mob than a government action, although the mayors of several cities illegally declared Chic Fil A unwelcome in their cities. She refers to government-owned universities expelling Christian clubs from campus – this has been wholesale in California and present in other states – for expressing their beliefs. Returning to the private sector, we find the firing of Brandon Eich as head of Mozilla for making a contribution to Proposition 8; bouncing back to the government sandbox, we note the persecution of military chaplains like the highly decorated Wes Modder for expressing their faith to their flocks. Whether the government or the activist mob, the attitude is: “We know what you need to hear, and we will permit only what we endorse to be spoken.”

Reality is that free speech and faith amendments are not in place to protect what people want to hear, but to guarantee the right to speak what some do not want to hear. Whether the speech and expression is correct or incorrect – short of fraud – is irrelevant to any discussion of these rights. But more important is the obligation we have to place responsibility where it belongs.

I hear speakers and writers every day decrying what the left will not let them say. (By the way, when I was a boy in the good old fifties, it was the right in power and the disciples of Joe McCarthy suppressing free speech; it is ugly and wrong in any form.) I don’t blame the suppressers of speech; I blame and hold accountable the wimps who have something to say and permit themselves to be bullied into resentful silence. Freedom is ours – to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin and every biblical prophet – if we have the courage to keep it.

When I testified against SB 128 before a state senate committee, I was booed by some two hundred supporters of the bill when I said we Californians have blood on our hands and are hellbent on adding more. I was accosted and insulted by one witness for the other side and glared at by many. Big Whup! It is time for we-who-have-something-to-say to man up – or woman up – and say it.  Spare me the complaining.

The truth is I don’t really wish evil on anyone. I want to see the evils and the perpetrators I described earlier stopped, not punished, and certainly not destroyed. I serve a God whose will is that none perish. I choose to live in the tension between God’s call to confront evil wherever it rises and the recognition we contend not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in non-material realms, as St. Paul (that always contentious apostle) states so clearly. When I fail in that choice, I repent and ask God for a do-over. I can only really appreciate this as a Christian, and one whose old nature is ever ready to take over if I permit it to rule. But by His grace, I can speak what I am called to speak and bless without prejudice. That grace under pressure is what is needed in this season of desperate aggression and easy cowardice.

Once a while back, I was leading a prayer team through the streets of Downtown Redding. We stopped in front of the Old City Hall, which is now the city-owned home of the Arts Council. As we prayed blessings on the building, staff, and even the pagan statue in front of it (what God blesses He transforms), a staffer came boiling out of the building demanding to know what we were doing. When I explained we were praying on this public sidewalk, he demanded we stop because of the separation of church and state. I explained that this separation is exactly why we have every right to pray in public walks and other places. He began waving his arms around and again demanded we cease prayers in front of his building. This time, I said: “But we only wish to bless you.” When he growled that he did not want our blessing, I smiled and said: “Too late.”

 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

A New Constitutional Convention? WHAT?

Twenty-seven state legislatures have now submitted an application to Congress to call a Convention of the States. Between seven and nine are expected to add their weight to the list, bringing momentum very close to the two thirds of states required to force Congress to call such a convention. A bill to join was introduced this year into the California legislature but subsequently withdrawn by its sponsor. What’s going on?

What’s going on is that increasing numbers of Americans are tired of being abused and exploited by the very officials they elect to serve them. We do not serve government; it (theoretically) serves us. Keeping borders safe, building roads across a sprawling land, making a level playing field for commerce, and educating our children to take their rightful place in their communities is an enormous job requiring great power. We lend that power to government with a lively appreciation – gleaned solely from our Judeo-Christian heritage – of the tendency of flawed human beings to abuse what they have in terms of power over others. That is why we produced a Constitution – not to rein citizens in but to limit the power of government to stomp us. So what is wrong with the idea of fixing the problem?

“Don’t fix it if it aint broke” comes to mind. There is nothing wrong with the Constitution we have. It limits the central government by restricting its activities to the so-called enumerated powers, those powers actually named in the document. It limits the powers of state and federal governments by requiring their actions to be consistent with the Bill of Rights. It provides for its own modification through the amendment process, and it deliberately complicates the process so that an awful lot of us must want change for a long time before we are able to do something irrevocable. It enshrines respect for due process – procedurally and substantively – before anyone can be deprived of life, liberty, or property even if virtually everyone favors the deprivation. Our governmental problems are not due to a defective instrument but to lawless officials ignoring or defying it.

President Obama has re-written his own Healthcare Law some thirty times; the Constitution affords that right to Congress alone. He has defied immigration laws by granting unilateral amnesty to millions of illegals; again, only Congress can change law. He keeps up efforts to force businesses to purchase abortions for employees after the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated the First Amendment forbids it. And he is just the head of the executive branch of the federal government. But he does not need a new job description; he needs to be held accountable to the one he has.

The same can be said for state officials like those who work for California’s Department of Managed Healthcare that defies repeated Supreme Court rulings by ordering businesses and ministries to buy abortions for their employees, or its legislature enacting laws forbidding professional counselors from counseling in politically incorrect ways. This same legislature is about to turn the Fourteenth Amendment on its head by enacting an assisted suicide law, while the state’s university system bans Christian groups from its campuses in defiance of the Federal Equal Access Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They don’t need re-visioning; they need disciplining under the structures that have served the nation and its states well for two and a half centuries.

Supporters of a Constitutional Convention assure critics that it will have a limited mandate – whether to balance the budget or restrain government overreach into the private affairs of citizens – because limits have been written into its establishing documents. They forget the first Constitutional Convention was strictly charged with modifying the existing Articles of Confederation only. It took them but days to scrap the Articles altogether. We are in the debt of the delegates and their farsight; the Constitution is orders of magnitude better than the Articles, but there is no reason to suppose – in the present political climate, polarization, and paucity of wisdom and courage – that we would not live to regret turning delegates loose with no inherent limits. Would the Bill of Rights survive such a calamity in the presence of political correctness run amok?

Reality is that – should a convention remain within a mandate to, say, require a balanced budget, there is no guarantee and no reason to suppose government will respect this new constitutional feature. California has such a requirement in her constitution, and her governor and legislature know – and have practiced for years – the creative accounting necessary to sidestep the requirement. The solution is neither new law nor a new constitution. It is an electorate re-awakened to its historic responsibility.

For the love of God – and for the love of our nation and states – let us address our problems where they live. It is not our foundation that sags. It is the commitment of the electorate to placing good men and women in office – and replacing them if they fail to perform for the good of all – that needs reform. It is the courage of the citizenry to say yes to creative solutions and no to tyranny – in the streets, albeit non-violently, and in the offices and buildings occupied by lawless officials if necessary – just as Martin Luther King and hundreds of thousands, black and white, marched and sang and declared: “This shall not pass without going through us,” that is on the line. It is the faithful Christianity of the Christians in the land at stake. Will we say – as Dr. King said – “Let justice roll like a mighty river and righteousness like a never failing stream”? Will we put our bodies and our hearts on the line because we are made in the image of a God who already did that on our behalf?

In our Governor’s Prayer Team gatherings, we pray for many blessings on our state and nation. Perhaps the two most crucial are for a Damascus Road experience for each of our leaders and the gift of falling in love with the limitations placed on their power in the Constitution and Word of God. The Damascus Road is where the Apostle Paul was knocked on his backside by the overwhelming vision of Jesus loving him and wondering why he did not love back. We who pray for it are just as much in need of it for ourselves. The limitations are self-explanatory, and just as needed by all of us. And it is no coincidence the root of “crucial” is the cross. But it is awfully good news. It means we have real hope in what we have already been given if we will reclaim that gift.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth