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This Month's Scripture Verse:

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 1, 2015

This is a periodic disclaimer regarding the "unusual" grammar and spelling that will occur in these comments because these comments are edited less than the regular blogposts.

March 24

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on the "fundamentalism" of some of America's founding fathers. This appeared in Heidelblog.

I findi it historically inaccurate to use the Declaration of Independence as a backdrop for understanding The Constitution. Many conservatives would like to think that these two documents were like twins who were separated at birth, but their historical contexts were significantly different.

The Declaration of Independence was written as a initiator of the American Revolution. It was written to protest the rule of British elites and the "unfair" demands that some interpreted as tyranny. Of course, the British tyranny against which Jefferson and friends rebelled was not quite equal to the American tyranny cited by Frederick Douglas (http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/douglassjuly4.html ), but still it was tyranny, I guess.

The Constitution was written with tyranny as a context only it was written to help strengthen the position of elites who were still practicing tyranny and were facing widespread dissent having also been confronted with rebellion. However, the elites in this case were Americans and the rebellion was Shays Rebellion, not the American Revolution. We should also note the switch in language between the two documents. Whereas the Declaration of Independence talked about 'life liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' The Constitution was more concerned about protecting property ownership because, property was one of the concerns of both the dissent back then and Shays Rebellion. BTW, those whose trouble inspired the writing of The Constitution wanted to know why, when they sacrificed so much to gain independence from England, they were shafted when it came to owning property while American elites weren't.

At this point, referring back to Frederick Douglas' comments on America and the Declaration of Independence, people could be included as property back then. So defending the owning of property also included defending the ownership of people. We should also note that in defending property ownership, nothing was said about what enabled people to own and accumulate property. Take James Madison for example, he was born into wealth and what should be asked about his property is this: How much of his property, this includes wealth, morally belonged to the slaves who worked his land? See, the Constitution's protection of owning property would recognize his wealth as belonging to himself only. But since he obtained wealth from the work his slaves did, how much of that wealth morally belonged to them?

And though we don't have slaves today, that is the issue regarding the protection of property ownership especially business property--and business property includes the wealth generated by it. With all of the interdependencies that contribute to the property owned by a business, how much of that property morally belongs to the business. Note that the issue of moral ownership is raised because those businesses that are rich enough can buy laws that define who owns what property.

Certainly, this comment is not a conservative comment. Conservatives see themselves as defenders of a selective part of the past that relate to the present. And thus, part of Conservatism involves a celebration of oneself as natural result of celebrating that past. For those Conservatives who want to know the context of the writing of The Constitution, they should read Federalist #10, Henry Knox's Letter To George Washington, and the Constitutional debates. These documents, not the Declaration of Independence, provide a better backdrop and context for The Constitution.


March 26

This particular comment is in a state of limbo meaning that it is awaiting being moderated. But since the moderating has taken a while, this comment will be posted until its status changes to being published.

To David Robertson and his blogpost claiming that to not believe in God is to become less human. This appeared in the Wee Flea blog.

Though logically speaking, I agree with the basic message of this article, history says something else--and that doesn't include the atrocities done in the name of Christ. Sometimes, all one has to do is to try to answer a question from a conservative theological position. For example, take one of John Frame's writings on the Jews taking back part of Palestine in the 1948 war:

This is the time-honored way of establishing sovereignty throughout human history. Modern observers should not be scandalized at the thought of such issues being settled by military force, nor should we refuse to recognize a regime simply because it was established through force.

See http://www.frame-poythress.org/who-owns-palestine/    for the quote above.

If John and his family had lived in Palestine then or the Occupied Territories now and seen the violence up close and personal, would he so dispassionately refer to war as being a 'time-honored way' of establishing borders? Yes, John has written other things about war and has said that it is 'a terrible thing.' and he has also said the following about war: ' agony of having to administer death or pain to others' and  the 'sheer terror of the situation' (see http://www.frame-poythress.org/response-to-what-was-it-like/). But if those are his real sentiments, where is his passion in wanting to avoid or even speaking against war?  It is with his trust in the civil magistrate (see http://reformedanswers.org/answer.asp/file/40093). As to who is more human about war, one should compare Frame's writings on it with that of Erasmus or Howard Zinn.

History tells us that the Church can act less than what is ideally considered to be human: the burning of witches and heretics in Geneva, Luther's writing against the Jews, the Puritan's persecution of Quakers along with their participation in the ethnic cleansing of America's indigenous people from the land, and slavery along with Jim Crow in America all of which was, according to some Christians, supported by the Bible. Of course, that doesn't include the American conservative churches' attempts to marginalize homosexuals in society.

The short of it is this, we in the Church need to do a better job of being human, as it is ideally thought of, if we want people to see the logic of our argument that to not believe in God is to lose some of our humanity.


March 29

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost disputing the claim that businesses that deny public services and goods for same-sex marriage for religious reasons are hiding behind the cross. This appeared on his Heidelblog

I have to agree with the LGBT advocate here. Yes, those of us who want the legal right to discriminate against SSM are hiding behind cross for the reasons that the LGBT are saying.

The problem is how we frame the issue. For example, when  Dr. Clark writes the following:

The debate about homosexual marriage has become increasingly heated because, in part, advocates of homosexual marriage have succeeded in persuading legislatures and the courts that marriage is defined not by nature but by affection and consent.1 Now Christians are being coerced to act against conscience informed by God’s moral law, by natural law, to support and/or endorse same-sex marriage (SSM) under threat of civil and financial penalties.

No one is asking us to support or endorse SSM let alone threatening us with civil and financial penalties. I am 100% sure that my belief that SSM is sin will never be punished by the law, either criminally or civilly, in this country. So the issue here is about neither support nor condoning the practice. The issue is about businesses using religion as a reason to withhold public services and goods from a group of people who are doing something legal. Please note that in our economic system, it is private business that provides public goods and services. And such goods and services are often provided to a person or a group without regard to support or the condoning of an activity. Thus to allow businesses to withhold those services sets up the potential for some to be totally deprived of those goods and services either at a particular time or for an extended period of time. The position held by some fellow Christians that businesses should have the right to withhold their services from those in LGBT community, from services provided to the general public is nothing more than a belief in a variation of the Jim Crow laws only the target has been changed. We should also ask when has the Christian community requested for businesses to be able to withhold public services and goods before.

And if you want to bring nature into this argument, realize that people have different understandings as to what is moral law and natural law. Should the gov't recognize the Christian view of natural law and disregard the views of all others?  Should Christians have a privileged position in society in determining its laws? See, unless you want to make the Romans 1 argument for natural where even unbelief could be seen as going against nature and thus should be punished by any gov't that is charge of upholding natural law.

We know that sex outside a monogamous, heterosexual marriage between two consenting adults is wrong. In fact, some remarriages between two consenting adults who are of different genders is wrong too.  And yet, where was the public made by Christians to have the right to refrain from providing public goods and services.

This post saddens me in two ways. The first is in the lack of self-awareness regarding the effects of how what it supports is discriminatory. And second, the blog's silence regarding national and societal sins or, in other words, the sins of those with wealth and power.


March 30

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of a person defending the right of florists and bakers to not provide their goods and services to same-sex weddings. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

This is the problem. Since businesses are the only institutions that provide many of our publicly needed goods and services, to allow one business to refuse to provide those goods and services to any legal group for a legal activity, gives permission to all businesses to do the same. Such creates a potential for that group to be deprived of publicly needed goods and services either at a critical time or for a prolonged period. That deprivation not only can cause distress for those group as they attempt to obtain the same stuff everyone else gets, it marginalizes them in society.

In addition, should we allow one business to discriminate against Blacks because there are a plethora of businesses that won't? If not, why should we allow some to treat homosexuals that way? Is it because we think that Blacks do not deserve to be discriminated against but homosexuals do? Shouldn't we be against the discrimination of all?

The reference to Mississippi is an unfortunate one because it minimizes the suffering that occurred then. It does so by making what happened there and then the minimal standard of the evil of discrimination. And the reference also is an attempt to sweep one's own acts of discrimination under the carpet of another's.


To Johnny Mason's comment responding to my comment criticizing Indiana's new RFRA law. In his comment, Mason states that before the RFRA, businesses [in Indiana?] could refuse to serve gays without penalty. He also stated that no RFRA has been successfully used to defend people who practice discrimination against gays. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.

If there is ‘no law protecting gay people from discrimination,’ why is opposing this law a freak-out? In addition, I can’t say that there has been no outcry of this kind of discrimination in Indiana since I am not privy to enough news sources to confirm that.

And, again, it isn’t the not mentioning sexual orientation that is the issue, it is how the law can be used. And though it is too early to see how it will be used, that it can be used to discriminate is the issue.

One other point, suppose someone proves that providing publicly-needed goods and services to Blacks, Hispanics, or some other race caused the same religious distress to them that serving homosexuals do to others? And suppose they appealed to this law for relief and won. Would this law be discriminatory? What many of my fellow Christians don’t see is that businesses are the only outlet for many publicly needed goods and services. And thus owning one’s own business includes some outside claims on how that business will operate.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on the need to keep local governments small. This appeared on the Acton blog.

By reducing the problems caused by government to size only, conservatives are not only oversimplifying the matter, they weaken democracy and open the door for private sector elite rule. This is where government is like love, size isn't the issue, fidelity is.

What good is a government that is too small to protect us from domestic or local predators? Is it any better than a government whose size allows it to be a predator? With either case, we have to deal with predators and we have to do that alone.

Certainly the size of government can be an issue. But a more important issue is the fidelity of our government. How faithful is the government in representing the welfare of all of the people? Generally speaking, it will be as faithful as citizens are participants in democracy. The more we participate in terms of educating ourselves about the issues and events, voting according to conviction rather than convention, protesting, boycotting, and publishing the actions of our government, the better chance that our government will be forced to be faithful.

But if we are too busy with our own lives and making our fortune in the world to adequately participate in government, then government will look to cheat with another lover.

The question here is this: Are we willing to spend less time on careers and pursuits of pleasure to pay the attention needed to keep government faithful?


To Bruce Edward Walker and his blogpost claiming that using fossil fuels provide the hope against world poverty. This appeared in the Acton blog.

This blogpost proves that the devil isn't always in the details, it is sometimes in being vague. For example, what has caused the drop in the 'six major air pollutants'? It is government for one thing. The Clean Air Act has caused companies to invest in the needed technology that is reducing air pollution.

But we should also note that CO2 was not included in the list of six major air pollutants. And it is the increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that is still the issue especially when other nations, such as China, are increasing the amount of CO2 they are releasing. Since 1980--didn't find the figures from 1970--the emission of CO2, despite its decline starting in around 2007, is still 14% higher than it was in 1980. And combined with the increase in CO2 from other nations that want to expand economically, that rise is still a problem. In addition, the start of the decline in CO2 emissions is around the same time when a drop in miles traveled here began. This supports the work of people like Naomi Klein who states that if we want to limit the effects of the damage we have caused to the environment, we will have to consume less. See http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrends.html. BTW, have we noticed that water pollution was not mentioned while claiming that our environment is cleaner? Do we not realize that a significant amount of  CO2 that is released into the atmosphere settles in the ocean?

Finally, referencing China here is problematic for what this post is promoting. That is because in China, there are massive problems with air pollution in their major cities. And that air pollution does not just stay there. Through the use of weather, China is exporting one-fifth of its air pollution to other countries in the world (see http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/20/science/la-sci-sn-china-exports-air-pollution-united-states-20140120 ). So while what's done in Vegas, stays in Vegas; the same cannot be said in China.

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