Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Trans revolution: Public schools are only the beginning

original article: The Trans Juggernaut Wants Your Kids, And Public Schools Are Just The Beginning
August 17, 2017 by Joy Pullmann

If you had argued pre-Obergefell that de-sexing marriage would lead to drag queens leading preschool storytime in public libraries and public schools hounded into hiding their mandatory sex ed curriculum from parents after a settlement requiring trans-friendly “education” starting in kindergarten, you would have been called an unhinged bigot. How could what two consenting adults do privately have any effect on whether five-year-olds are told they should consider cutting off their penises? Preposterous. Fear-mongering. Wild-eyed insanity.

Or not. Rod Dreher’s “Law of Merited Impossibility” strikes again: “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it.” As I’ve written beforeObergefelland related caselaw, which are still developing, are turning out not to be aboutwhat consenting adults do privately. They are the spear tip of a wholesale shift in law that is already negatively affecting children, because at its heart is the principle that sexuality is genderless.

As theologian N.T. Wright pointed out to the Times of London last week, “Nature…tends to strike back, with the likely victims in this case being vulnerable and impressionable youngsters who, as confused adults, will pay the price for their elders’ fashionable fantasies.”

This is likely why the transgender movement is targeting the young: They are vulnerable and impressionable, prepuberty pose better as either sex and therefore look less terrifying than adult transgenders, and once locked into the trans body morph will never truly be able to escape. Devastated people are prime candidates for exploitation by their pretend advocates. Also, locking in trans-policies now is a way to preclude debate before more extensive data and personal experience can fuel the inevitable backlash.

Of course this is bad for kids, but it’s not about kids. They’re just pawns, as usual. It’s about politics. Pushing transgenderism not only destabilizes a key component of a child’s identity but also contributes to early sexualization that is linked with mental illness and risky behaviors. Early exposure to and lack of clear parental direction about sex is also linked with increased gender confusion, which is precisely what we’re seeing as clinics for cutting and pasting children’s hormones and body parts explode inside a media environment that glamorizes this form of child abuse.

Parents are facing fewer and fewer ways to protect their children from being used as guinea pigs inside an experiment constructed by unelected bureaucrats. Here we’ll discuss two recent examples: one specific and one more general.

You Can’t Know What We’re Teaching Your Kids About Sex

Kelsey Harkness recently reported on the brewing situation at a public charter school in Minnesota. Charters are public schools often created and run by a board of a coalition of local parents and community leaders. Everyone who attends has to choose to do so rather than be assigned to attend automatically through geographic attendance zones, like most public schools. They usually provide a safe haven for families looking for a sound alternative to traditional schools, which are on average of lower academic quality because they do not have to compete for students.

Saint Paul’s Nova Classical Academy is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top Minnesota high school. But it has been transformed into a rainbow Trojan horse after Dave and Hannah Edwards sued Nova for not including pro-transgender materials starting in kindergarten to accommodate their five-year-old son, whom they claim is transgender. Parents began transferring their kindergarteners out of the child’s class when they came home saying things like, “Mom, I think you can choose if you want to be a boy or a girl,” according to interviews with The Daily Signal.

The little boy began wearing a female uniform and accessories, and classes began to include pro-trans picture books endorsing gender fluidity. This month’s settlement after 16 months of litigation requires the school to make all uniforms available to both sexes, pay LGBT organizations to “train staff” in politically correct behavior every three years, and “not adopt any gender policy that allows parents to opt out of requirements in the gender inclusion policy because of objections based on religion or conscience.” This lawyer and Federalist contributor, after reviewing the settlement, said it appears to ban the school from even notifying parents of its sex policies.

The circumstances are even more suspicious and shocking than a prohibition on telling parents what their children will be learning about human biology: Dave Edwards is an academic in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychology, whose pending PhD is being funded by a taxpayer-funded grant and who specializes in transgender education. As a school consultant and trainer on gender identity, he now personally profits from doing “training” of the kind his family’s settlement forces on Nova. Here’s from his website, GenderInclusiveSchools.com.

There are more curiosities in the family’s case. Edwards’ LinkedIn profile lists him as a “founding staff member of Venture Academy Charter School,” also in Saint Paul, a high-profile school funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which uses its deep pockets to seed “education reform” with far-left ideas and personnel. Edwards started his career in a heavily Gates-funded teaching fellowship known for its politically progressive staff.

Rather than enroll his son in the school Dave helped create, the Edwardses chose to apply for Nova at approximately the same timeDave stopped working at Venture Academyand began pursuing his doctorate with a focus on transgender school compliance. This was almost three years after the family decided the child was gender-fluid when he began emulating Beyonce’s dancing at two years old. In March 2016, after their son had attended Nova for seven months, the Edwardses withdrew him, but continued to press their lawsuit.

“The daily influence of this little boy, who very much looks like a girl, all the accessories … they’re really doing it up with him,” said a mother whose six-year-old was in kindergarten for those few months with the Edwardses’ son when he was five. Since lawsuit-induced policies have been adopted, Nova has lost a tenth of its students.

Nova Is Just a Tip of the Spear

Nova is a test case for what trans activists want to perpetuate nationwide — and not just in public schools, but also in private and home schools. An 8-year-old drag queen groomed by his parents says “If you want to be a drag queen and your parents don’t let you, you need new parents,” the underlying, totalitarian belief of the movement he represents. The easiest initial access point is private school choice programs, but activists are also targeting all private schools through accreditation bodies. The accreditation attack is currently most visible in higher education, but it’s spreading to K-12.

Since President Trump appointed school choice proponent Betsy DeVos as education secretary, Democrats have demanded to know why she supports giving parents freedom to choose their kids’s schools when so many hinterland bigots will choose schools that don’t let boys shower with girls or lie to developing minds about basic biology and its implications for their identity.

These questions led to a media divebomb this summer on a Christian school in Indiana that accepts voucher students and whose policies reflect the Ten Commandments’ prohibition against sexual immorality. Subsequently, Indiana outlets have begun investigating which in-state private schools are “anti-LGBT,” meaning require students to adhere to centuries-old prescriptions for chastity that apply to those of all sexual attractions.

Through reviews of publicly posted handbooks and phone calls, journalism nonprofit Chalkbeat Indiana found 27 “anti-LGBT” schools and created a comprehensive database of in-state private schools’ sexuality and admissions policies. Just in case, you know, rainbow protesters wanted to show up at a few, or know where to enroll their gender-dysphoric kindergarteners and then sue.

It also quoted a professor who says “allowing some schools to discriminate against LGBT students on the basis of religion is no different than racial discrimination.” You read that right. Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are morally equal to racists. It’s not surprising, then, that in this political environment about 80 percent of Indiana private schools keep their sex policies off the Internet and don’t return reporters’ phone calls to reveal them.

In Indiana, private schools must be accredited by either the state or one of seven private accreditors approved by the state board of education to accept students through one of the state’s two private choice programs. Chalkbeat, another Gates Foundation grant recipient, singled out the Association of Christian Schools International, an organization with 3,000 member schools, for offering a sample sexual ethics policy that repeats standard Christian teachings about the proper use of sexuality — within marriage between two opposite-sex people.

Discrimination Based on Behavior Is Not Like Racism

Chalkbeat referred to sex-specific policies and safeguards as “discrimination,” implying an equivocation between racial discrimination and behavior expectations. But race is an immutable fact, not a behavior. This is one of the reasons discrimination on its basis is so unjust. Yet we as a society discriminate based on behavior all the time, and we must to stay civilized, as well as to preserve our constitutionally guaranteed rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of association.

We sometimes treat the sexes distinctly, and create special, sometimes separate, environments for those who are emotionally troubled. There are sensible reasons for these that are not in the same ballpark as racism. The leftists harping on this topic are essentially demanding a religious litmus test — the adoption of the moral belief that every sexual practice must be affirmed — as a precondition for educating children. It is starting with public and private schools, but will eventually encompass “outliers” such as homeschoolers. None of us are safe unless we band together and stop this crazy train in its tracks.

A key problem is that Republican-led statehouses are the ones guarding school choice programs, and these same statehouses can barely muster the votes to protect children in public schools from being forced into unisex shower and sleeping quarters. Just two days ago Texas Speaker Joe Strauss torpedoed a special session that was set to consider both a bathroom bill and a school choice bill, and the state is in desperate need of both. Despite the lack of federal laws banning sexuality-based policies even when rational, such as in public showers and sports competitions, courts are already busy writing this religious (and antiscientific and inhumane) litmus test into existing sexual-privileges laws for women.

Chalkbeat put its recent set of articles on these topics under the heading “Choice for Some.” It’s an ironic slogan given that the logical end of their rhetoric is choice for none. Eradicating all social and ethical policies based on the distinctions between the sexes herds everyone into an Potemkin genderless society whether we consent to that arrangement or not. Some may feel that’s progress; others may call it totalitarianism.

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Liberal Fascism Is What Happens Once People Think God Is Dead

original article: Liberal Fascism Is What Happens Once People Think God Is Dead
March 27, 2017 by Sethu A. Iyer

Before the recent presidential election, I did not think of myself as a conservative. But after seeing the Left’s unhinged reaction, I realized I was definitely anti-progressive. My own studies and reflections had left me well-equipped to spot a religious cult when I saw one, and I had no doubt that progressives are just such a thing.

The content of every religious mind may be different, but the structure of religious thinking is always the same. Here are a few ways progressives have filled traditional categories for themselves:

God: History—they think they’re on the “right” side of it.
Dogmas: identity politics; there are more than two genders, et cetera.
Apocalyptic prophecy: climate change.
Inquisition: political correctness.
Antichrist: Donald Trump, who is taken to be evil by definition.
Excommunication: disagree, and you will be cut off forever.

Clearly, there is nothing secular about progressivism. Look under the veneer of pseudo-scientific language, and you’re left staring at a fanatically religious mindset. How did we get here?

The So-Called Death of God

The last couple centuries of the Western world have witnessed the decline of old-fashioned religion. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, in his work “The Gay Science” (gay as in happy, not homosexual), saw this and infamously proclaimed “God is dead.” It is often forgotten that he also added, “For we have killed him.” The main point was that the traditional idea of God had ceased to play a central role in both people’s minds and the structures of modern society.

Of course, Nietzsche’s proclamation is primarily figurative. If there is a God, then he did not just drop down dead sometime in the 1800s. Likewise, even for a believer today, God is still alive and well. The accurate fact contained in Nietzsche’s statement, though, is that Western culture as a whole was going through a sea change.

But the human soul may not be as malleable as a lot of people these days are given to think. If God lived within the soul until the day before yesterday, then it stands to reason that he left an empty space when he went away. This has consequences. To paraphrase the late and great David Foster Wallace: everyone worships; it is not a question of whether, but rather a question of what. If a person doesn’t know what he worships—if he believes that God is dead, and that’s the end of the story—then he will just become very susceptible to getting driven from behind his back by impulses he can never understand.

In a way, people can’t live without their gods. If they abandon one god, they merely move on to another, even if surreptitiously. This helps explain the religious drive at the bottom of progressivism. Moreover, I would suggest that after giving up on a god of truth, the progressives, with a kind of tragic inevitability, moved toward a god of power, whose altar at which they now worship.

The Grand Inquisitor

It may well be appropriate to grant Fyodor Dostoevsky the title of prophet. In the chapter of his masterwork, “The Brothers Karamazov,” known as “The Grand Inquisitor,” he explains exactly what’s going on here. In this story, the Inquisitor and his church have established a society that has reduced the vast majority of folk to a state of sheep-like serfdom. The Inquisitor believes this has been done for the people’s own good: he thinks they cannot handle liberty, and are so much happier being treated like children, never having to make one real decision.

Then in walks a figure who seems to be Christ returned. The Inquisitor has him arrested, then proceeds to interrogate him in private. During the entire encounter, Christ doesn’t say a single word. He merely looks on with compassion, as the Inquisitor raves about why abolishing freedom was the right thing to do. This is perhaps the most memorable passage that departs from the Inquisitor’s lips:

“You did not want to enslave man by a miracle and thirsted for faith that is free, not miraculous. You thirsted for love that is free, and not for the servile raptures of a slave    before a power that has left him permanently terrified. . . . Respecting him less, you          would have demanded less of him, and that would be closer to love, for his burden would be lighter. He is weak and mean.”

With these words, the Inquisitor reveals what his church’s dark game is really about. He says they’re moved by love for the common man, whereas they are in reality moved by contempt for the common man. He says they are acting in the name of truth, when they are in fact acting only in the name of power. In short, the Inquisitor and his church had accepted the third temptation of Christ in the desert: when the Devil said Christ could rule all the kingdoms of the world, if only he would fall down and worship the Devil.

Fascism and Romance

The god of truth is not the same as the gods of power. When the god of truth takes his leave, man will almost necessarily try to fill this hole in his soul with a god of power. Just about every decent person knows there’s something wrong with this world. But there are two fundamentally different ideas of how to actually make change happen. The first can be called fascism, and the second can be called romance.

As Jonah Goldberg ofNational Review has made clear, progressives have spiritually and historically always had a deep affinity with fascism. (This is fascism meant in a literal way: an actual ideological mindset, not just a vague slur against things we don’t like.) The original fascist fallacy consists of loving ideas more than people: real persons, in all their messiness, folly, sin, and freedom. Fascism is always about using power—of the state, or coercion more generally—to control people, change what they are, make them new. The one concept that never enters this picture is the primordial freedom of the individual.

It’s the exact opposite with romance. By romance, I mean a focus on the actual, living person, in all his or her sadness and confusion and beauty and glory. Friendship and romantic love are the main avenues through which most folk learn to see things in this way: a way that is ultimately rooted, in my view, in the vision of the Lord himself as a specific, individual man. When you see the intrinsic value of every individual person, whole categories of action become no longer possible. That includes the entire fascist approach to the transformation of the world.

At the end of “The Grand Inquisitor,” Christ still says nothing. He merely gives the Inquisitor a Russian kiss, and the Inquisitor breaks down. He tells Christ to leave, leave, and never show his face there again. The Inquisitor knows he has been defeated by a power greater than himself. He knows that for all his pretty words, he actually doesn’t care about people at all. He actually hates real persons, just as Christ loved them. Christ wanted true freedom for all, because that’s the only revolution that will ever really matter.

So Here We Are

You don’t need to call the god of truth by any one name in order to understand that truth and power are at odds with each other. Inquisitor versus Christ is one poetically powerful way to see the matter; but call it what you will, the conflict still exists.

The original fascist fallacy consists of loving ideas more than people.

Progressives have clearly fallen for what Goldberg has identified as the totalitarian temptation—the desire to remake the world through the fiat of raw power, as opposed to doing what it takes to awaken real living freedom within human souls. They have gone for fascism over romance. Insofar as America is an essentially romantic nation, this also means they have bet against the American spirit.

They have done this because they have tried, badly, to fill the god-shaped hole within their souls. Every man worships, even if he doesn’t know what. The progressives have thrown their lots in with the gods of power. Instead of believing in Christ and his vision, they have aligned themselves with the Inquisitor. Human nature says this is exactly what will happen when people have convinced themselves that the Lord of Truth is dead.

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How Intellectuals Cover for Evil

original article: How Intellectuals Cover for Evil: Deconstruction
March 18, 2017 by Thomas McArdle

Alongside its unprecedented mass violence, the 20th century saw the rise and reign of the secular intellectual as false prophet and would-be führer. For such men, as historian Paul Johnson wrote:

The collective wisdom of the past, the legacy of tradition, the prescriptive codes of ancestral experience existed to be selectively followed or wholly rejected entirely as his own good sense might decide.

Enter the villain of Stream columnist Jonathan Leaf’s powerful new play, Deconstruction, running through March 25 at the Theatre at Grand Hall (St. Mary’s Parish), 440 Grand Street, New York, N.Y., produced by Storm Theatre.

The Antwerp-born Paul de Man came to America after the Second World War and Blitzkrieged the study of literature by pioneering the postmodern theory of deconstruction — which, among other things, put morally-relativistic modern man in the place of a murdered God.

Pretending to be a Hero of the Anti-Nazi Resistance

De Man ultimately reached the zenith of academic prestige at Yale, becoming the single most influential literary critic in America — whose theories still deeply influence English classes at colleges today. But at the outset of Deconstruction, it’s summer 1949. He holds a menial job at a Grand Central bookshop, and finds himself the pitied guest of Catholic-turned-Marxist novelist and critic Mary McCarthy in her Rhode Island beach cottage.

Leaf’s drama speculates about the two married academics’ rumored affair.  McCarthy would secure de Man his first academic post at New York’s Bard College, an hour’s drive north of Vassar, where she was teaching. De Man doesn’t quite seduce McCarthy; it’s mutual. As she later admits, “anyone who strokes my ego after a few drinks too often can stroke other places.” He compliments her literary talent. She praises his conversational cleverness, and his brave service in the Belgian Resistance – except that, as we discover, the latter was a lie. Quite the contrary.

Deconstruction 2

Jed Peterson as de Man is a fascinating near-reincarnation of Paul Henreid playing the sly, covert Nazi in Carol Reed’s 1940 thriller Night Train To Munich. De Man apes sincerity quite effectively, as he professes shame for seducing other women, then dwells on his tragic youth. At 17, he found his mother hanged on the anniversary of his brother being struck dead by a train. Yet soon after telling the tale, he does indeed lead McCarthy to bed.

In Leaf’s telling, McCarthy would eventually find herself expecting de Man’s child, leaving her third and current husband to think the child is his. After her miscarriage it would be her husband, not de Man, at her side. De Man would by this time be busy with a 21-year-old Bard student whom he had also impregnated.

No, de Man had not fought in the Resistance. In fact, he had served the Nazis.

Inventing New Forms of Relativism to Explain Away His Crimes

But this is the tip of the iceberg. No, de Man had not fought in the Resistance. In fact, he had served the Nazis. Some four years after de Man’s 1983 death, a Belgian scholar would discover more than 100 pro-Nazi articles de Man had published under his own byline in occupied Belgium during the war in the country’s leading newspaper, Le Soir. In one, he recommended a forced exodus of the Jews, remarking that Europe “would lose, in all, a few personalities of mediocre value” then continue in greatness.

Le_SoirDe Man’s legion of deconstruction disciples would proclaim the revelations overblown. Literary scholar James Atlas noted in the New York Times in 1988, while the truth about de Man was still hitting the fan, that de Man’s Yale colleague Geoffrey Hartman minimized de Man’s offenses because they “didn’t begin to compare with the ‘vulgar anti-Semitic writing’ in other newspapers of the day.”

De Man would quit the pro-Nazi paper, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Two months after de Man’s departure Le Soir’s other literary critic was assassinated by the Resistance for being a Nazi collaborator.

Interrogated by Hannah Arendt

The play twists the knife when Leaf’s last character arrives — McCarthy’s friend, political theorist Hannah Arendt. A German Jew who grew up in Koenigsberg, she’d escaped death in the Holocaust thanks to falsified papers from a U.S. diplomat. To an audience, Karoline Fischer’s stern, straight-talking Arendt may be the least enchanting of the three characters, but that suits her harsh message of truth.

“That I managed to get out of Germany, then out of a detention camp — it’s because I’m not cowed. By anyone.” So she informs de Man in an unwelcome visit to his Bard office. “I want to know: who are you?”

But this far-and-away more honest intellectual already knows, having “made some inquiries in Belgium.”

“Tell me, did you deliver bombs for the Resistance? Is that true or a lie?” Arendt demands of de Man.

“If we cannot prove God’s existence or the moral laws taken from antiquity, then what place is there for traditional morality?”

His blood-curdling response: “As a student of Heidegger, you of all people should know that the notion of objective truth is a philosophical concept. An abstraction. Neither more, nor less.”

“What Is Truth?”

De Man was taunting Arendt, aware that she’d once been both Heidegger’s student and his lover. (Heidegger’s blatant, public support for the Nazis even after the war has since dimmed his intellectual star a little.)

If there is no real truth, then why be good? Or, as de Man earlier asked McCarthy, “If we cannot prove God’s existence or the moral laws taken from antiquity, then what place is there for traditional morality? You do see the logic at least?”

The logic she sees – indeed keenly feels – is the soul-destroying vacuum of love and beauty that de Man leaves in his wake. As Mary McCarthy, Fleur Alys Dobbins, in the performance of the night, shifts jarringly from a feathery hedonism to ravaged victimhood.

“You know, Paul, I spent hours thinking of baby names, painting the child’s room different colors in my mind. Wondering: a girl or a boy, which would you like?” she cries in her pain. When de Man claims, “I’m ashamed,” Arendt counters, “You have no shame,” then reveals, “one of the inquiries I made told me something that didn’t entirely surprise me: you wrote for a Nazi newspaper.”

The real difference between de Man and McCarthy?  She admits, “I know I’m a fraud,” but “I want to be good.”

The year he died, de Man would write, “’I am not given to retrospective self-examination, and mercifully forget what I have written with the same alacrity I forget bad movies … although, as with bad movies, certain scenes or phrases return at times to embarrass and haunt me like a guilty conscience.” Atlas noted that, writing on Rousseau, de Man had even claimed we can never distinguish between “fictional discourse and empirical event,” which “makes it possible to excuse the bleakest of crimes.”

Leaf’s deconstruction of the de Man myth ends with McCarthy (“some Marxist, I am!”) repeating aloud a prayer to the Virgin Mary. In the words of Whittaker Chambers, the Communist spy who turned Christian, Deconstruction’s audience discovers that “man without mysticism is a monster.”

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Educating people about religion by keeping them dumb

original article: CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously
March 19, 2017 by John Stonestreet

In what has become an annual tradition of television programming claiming to reveal the real Jesus of Nazareth, it seems that CNN is off to an early start. Every Easter season, cable networks fill their lineups with specials featuring biblical and historical experts who often represent only the skeptical side of the longstanding debate about the historical Jesus.

This year, CNN even preempted their special series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery,” with an even stronger than usual dose of their “we will tell you, especially you Christians, what Christianity really is…” attitude towards believers and matters of faith. At CNN.com, all are invited to take a ten-question online promotional quiz entitled, “Do you have faith in your knowledge of Christianity?”

Among the crucially important matters of faith revealed by this little test are what a commune in southwest France serves for the Easter meal, what household items believers in Norway hide from evil spirits, what objects are thrown to celebrate Fat Tuesday in the Belgian town of Binche, which African nation claims to have the Ark of the Covenant, and who the shortest reigning Pontiff was.

In a quiz claiming to test one’s knowledge of Christianity, there is sum total of one question about Jesus Christ (where did He walk on water?). Nothing is asked about Jesus’ birth, words, death or resurrection. There are no questions about the Christian understanding of truth, sin, or salvation. Nothing about Paul or Peter. Nothing about the afterlife. Nothing about the human condition.

In reality, the quiz reveals virtually nothing about one’s knowledge of Christianity. It does, however, reveal much about how CNN and so many secular elites view religion, and the blind spot that clouds their thinking:: that secularists are just as much people of faith as the faithful they hope to educate.

For secularists who tend to see religion as little more than a cultural artifact of a world fast slipping away, the sort of obscure questions asked in the CNN.com quiz makes sense. Religious truth claims, in this view, only reflect the irrational beliefs of people hanging onto traditions from a time before omniscient science and enlightened reason. Religion describes only what people believe and do. It does not, and cannot, describe the world as it is.

In a recent presentation to the employees at Google, Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church called this view of religion “simplistic and naive.” First, the world – when one looks outside of Europe and North America – is getting more, not less, religious. To suggest the opposite is a statement of cultural imperialism. Second, if secularists are right about God – that He doesn’t exist – then the universe and everything that exists, including our brains, resulted from natural, mindless processes. If this is really our story, than how can we substantiate our faith in human reason? Third, and this is critical, our faith in human reason is just that: faith. The statement that all things must be proven by reason to be true is an assumption we make that itself is not provable by reason. If embraced, it is taken by faith.

None of this is to say that secularism is false and Christianity is true. Both secularism and Christianity make claims about the world we live in, about human nature, and about God. Both secularists and Christians, as Keller went on to demonstrate, rely on reason and faith in investigating and offering explanations about the world we experience.

Too many brilliant people, after investigating Christian truth claims in light of their own existential struggles, have embraced faith for it to be cavalierly dismissed. Atheists like Anthony Flew, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and C.S. Lewis came to believe that the intricate design and stubborn persistence of moral norms we see in the universe were best explained by the existence of a Higher Power. Skeptics like Lee Strobel and Malcolm Muggeridge found that there was far more to this Jesus of Nazareth and the historical evidence of His resurrection than typically presented in the annual network specials.

Christianity, like all belief systems, certainly deserves to be investigated and scrutinized. No one settle for an unexamined faith. But, by all means, it deserves to be taken seriously.

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Is The Humanist Christophobic?

Let me begin with a hypothetical which I will tie into a real world scenario.

Imagine a Muslim publisher produces a graphic novel of the Holy Quran. And imagine a Christian organization reviews that graphic novel. They make the token compliments about art quality but criticize the content of that novel, arguing it is “rigged” against a Jewish or Christian reading. The main point of this hypothetical criticism is that the novel is written from an exclusively Muslim perspective.

At first glance you might wonder “why wouldn’t they?” Why wouldn’t the Muslim publisher present their own view of their own holy book? But common sense would get the better of you and you’d ask “why shouldn’t they?” After all, it’s their publication of their holy book, why shouldn’t they be able to cast it from their own perspective? Shouldn’t tolerance and plurality allow for a religious group to express their own views about their own sacred writings, even when they are trying to share those views with outsiders?

Now for the real story.

Kingstone is a publishing company owned by an evangelical Christian pastor. The company’s website openly acknowledges its owner’s religious leanings. The Kingtone Bible, a 2000 page graphic novel of the Holy Bible, is the company’s flagship product. So let’s summarize the situation: a Christian publishing company produces a graphic novel of the Christian holy book, from a Christian perspective. An atheist organization, The Humanist, published a review of The Kingstone Bible written by Fred Edwords. Edwords makes token compliments about art quality but his main beef with the graphic novel is, well you can already guess. So let’s take a closer look.

Edwords’ first swipe at the work implies presenting the bible “seen through an evangelical Christian lens” is somehow a problem. In the next sentence he calls this “bias”.

It’s true that The Kingstone Bible isn’t strictly word for word. Edwords continues:

This isn’t strictly biblical; it’s a clarification of Christian doctrine. Thus, right out of the box the game is rigged against any Jewish, Muslim, or secular reading of what originated as Jewish scripture.

Keep in mind the graphic novel is about the Holy Bible, not the Tanakh, not the Quran. Now, if the novel purported to be about all three of these holy books I could understand criticizing it for adopting an exclusively Christian perspective. But it doesn’t purport to be religiously neutral. So I’m having trouble understanding the demand that The Kingstone Bible should have been told from a more religiously neutral perspective.

Besides, a typical secular idea is that all religions are basically the same and are equally valid. So if all religions are basically the same, what’s the problem in offering a religious product from only one religious tradition? Evidently, when an exclusively Christian perspective is offered suddenly our secular society remembers all religions are in fact NOT the same.

Another criticism Edwords offers, which I may be inclined to agree with, is the seeming whitewashing of “certain biblical horrors”. But keep in mind, in our current politically charged environment when anyone (not only Christians) speaks of certain Quranic horrors we are sure to hear accusations of Islamophobia. That’s a very common reaction when anyone even acknowledges modern violent horrors committed in the name of Islam. Whitewashing Islamic extremism is the status quo of our day so we really have no reason to objurgate any other religion for doing the same with their own history – unless we’re only selectively concerned with intellectual honesty.

Some other criticisms Edwords has for the graphic novel are I think well made, such as some newly invented details about specific scenes not mentioned in the Bible. But other criticisms seem to me rather petty and even Christophobic. I really don’t understand why a Christian group should be knocked for “Christian evangelizing”, especially considering Edwords’ comments read like an effort at atheist evangelizing.

Edwords’ closing paragraph I think demonstrates his own secular bias best. He ends with another swipe at the credibility of the bible and of Christianity in saying “if you have friends who believe in the Bible while never having really read it, this could be the perfect gift for waking them up to its true mythical nature.”

Sadly, that is a common thing. But it’s also very common to find atheists who take pleasure in criticizing religion in general (or Christianity in particular) who’ve never really read those religious texts either (or even lie about having done so). Reading the bible only once isn’t much better, as the pretense of infallible comprehension is also a common problem among skeptics. Add on top of that the critics of Christianity who have studied the bible, at least in part, yet have done so from an overtly hostile stand point pretending to be objective. Given all that, we have the workings of a disingenuous attitude among the skeptics that could certainly benefit from a perspective different from their own. After all, it’s remarkably difficult to find an atheist who has bothered to question their own doubt.

Considering the article altogether, I could just as well criticize Fred Edwords and The Humanist for producing a solidly secular review of The Kingstone Bible written from their decidedly atheistic perspective. But it’s an atheistic organization, so why wouldn’t they?

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Report: 2015 Saw ‘Most Violent’ Persecution of Christians in Modern History

original article: Report: 2015 Saw ‘Most Violent’ Persecution of Christians in Modern History
January 20, 2016 by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS

The brutal, worldwide persecution of Christians during the past year makes 2015 “the most violent and sustained attack on Christian faith in modern history,” according to a watchdog organization that has been monitoring Christian persecution for decades.

Open Doors, an organization founded in 1955 to assist persecuted Christians, publishes an annual “World Watch List,” documenting attacks on Christians and ranking the most hostile national environments for believers.

“The 2016 World Watch List documents an unprecedented escalation of violence against Christians, making this past year the most violent and sustained attack on Christian faith in modern history,” Open Doors CEO David Curry said at the rollout of the list.

Persecution in “continuing to increase, intensify and spread across the globe,” he said.

At the top of the Watch List, for the 14th consecutive year, stands North Korea, where an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are imprisoned in labor camps. Carrying on as one of the last holdouts of Communist totalitarianism, North Korea bears a particular hatred for Christians, who are a constant reminder of accountability to a higher power than the state.

“Christianity is not only seen as ‘opium for the people’ as is normal for all communist states,” the report says. “It is also seen as deeply Western and despicable.” During 2015, thousands of Christians living in North Korea were forced to renounce their faith or flee under threat of death.

As in the case with last year’s report, the vast majority of countries experiencing acute Christian persecution are Muslim nations. In 2015, nine out of the top ten countries where Christians suffer “extreme persecution” had populations that are at least 50 percent Muslim, a phenomenon replicated in 2016.

The 2015 report found that “Islamic extremism is by far the most significant persecution engine” of Christians in the world today and that “40 of the 50 countries on the World Watch List are affected by this kind of persecution.”

The 2016 list places Iraq in second place, immediately after North Korea, with horrific Islamic violence dominating news headlines during 2015. Throughout the year, Christians were forced to flee their homes by the thousands or be killed.

Just this week, the United Nations released an extensive report on Islamic State violence in Iraq, and estimates that ISIS currently holds some 3,500 people, mostly women and children, in the country.

The report, jointly issued by U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and U.N. human rights office in Geneva, declared ISIS atrocities in Iraq to be “war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.”

Some of the crimes described in the report include executions by shooting, beheading, bulldozing, burning alive and throwing people off the top of buildings.

The other nations making the top ten in Christian persecution are Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, and Libya, all of which have Muslim majorities.

The report underscores the geographical extent of Christian persecution, and Curry highlighted the global nature of the problem, noting that it has become more acute not just in a few isolated regions, but “in every continent in every country.”

“The levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence against Christians is unprecedented, spreading and intensifying,” Curry added. “Christians, longing to stay in their home countries, are being forced to flee for their lives and for their children’s lives,” he said.

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LGBT Activist Group Announces Radical Agenda to Eliminate Religious Freedom Protections

original article: LGBT Activist Group Announces Radical Agenda to Eliminate Religious Freedom Protections
October 20, 2015 by Anna Pfaff

Following the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, LGBT activists have decided that they’re not finished. The largest organization working to advance the LGBT agenda recently announced its newest set of goals for the upcoming months—goals which, according to the Witherspoon Institute, include “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed.”

At the 2015 Chicago gala last weekend, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin unveiled three new areas of focus: passing the Equality Act, stopping the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), and further “activating the LGBT vote.”

The Equality Act seeks to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to federal non-discrimination laws.  If it passes, its “sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be historic.” The act would essentially elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to the level of race, therefore equating any dissenters with racists and bigots. It creates a “new form of discrimination” by socially isolating those with a traditional belief in marriage and sexuality.

The Equality Act would also have a devastating effect on protections for individuals and businesses who find it a violation of conscience to provide services for wedding ceremonies. It would prohibit the denial of any good or service to persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity but makes no distinction between baking a cake for a birthday party and baking a cake for a wedding ceremony.

Moreover, the Equality Act would cut the legs out from under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, barring any individuals, businesses, educational institutions, or religious institutions from appealing to RFRA. The actual effects of the supposed “equality” in the act mean a great inequality at the expense of religious freedom.

To put the nail in the coffin on conscientious objectors, the HRC is also making it a goal to prevent the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against persons who still understand marriage as between one man and one woman.

In order to make all of this happen, the HRC is working to “activate the LGBT vote.” Griffin announced to the gala crowd that the 10 million LGBT voters is a higher number than the margin of victory in the past several presidential races.

“In other words,” Griffin said, “we have the power to decide elections.”

There is a real legislative battle on the horizon—our presidential candidates must show that they are ready.

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Does Obama deny religious oppression happens?

We’ve seen people accused of denying racism exists merely for acknowledging the social progress we’ve fought for. We’ve seen people accused of denying black deaths at the hands of cops merely by acknowledging black on black crime is far worse. We’ve seen people accused of denying rape happens merely for acknowledging the many fraudulent cases of rape allegations were in fact fraudulent allegations. We’ve seen people accused of denying the climate is changeable merely for acknowledging the climate has been changing for as long as the planet has existed.

So please excuse me if, by the standards current in place, it seems to me President Obama denies religious oppression happens.

Obama to Christian Novelist Marilynne Robinson: ‘Folks Who Take Religion the Most Seriously’ Often ‘Suspicious’ of Others

Obama: What really concerns me are those “less-than-loving expressions by Christians”

Again Muslim terrorists murder people, Obama wants to defend Islam

There is clearly a different attitude taken by the Obama administration and liberals in general between Islam and any other religion. While mass murder is not only old hat for Islam but is currently increasing around the world, the Obama admin is more concerned about anyone who could be perceived as the political right.

President reserves judgement for Fort Hood assassin, but not for Cambridge Cop

DHS seems confused on terror threat at home

Are You An ‘Extremist’ According To This Definition?

Perhaps it is not that religious people are suspicious of people who are different from them. Perhaps they merely recognize the double standard and obvious Islamic sympathy being institutionalized in American culture. But, according to the current standards, to acknowledge this reality is tantamount to Islamophobia. And to acknowledge the blatant anti-Christian (but conspicuously absent anti-Islamic) bias in our increasingly gay-friendly society is tantamount to homophobia. Maybe anyone who finds themselves disagreeing with Obama on any issue has good reason to be suspicious.

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ACLU targets Louisiana high school

original article: ACLU targeting Louisiana school over educator’s ‘God Bless You’ greeting
September 27, 2015 by Fox News

The ACLU of Louisiana is accusing a high school of promoting Christianity in an open letter on Friday because a student group hung prayer boxes and the principal ended an online letter with “May God Bless You All.”

Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said in a letter published by the Shreveport Times that Airline High School violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by allowing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to set up prayer boxes that feature “Christian Symbols.” Esman’s letter also noted Principal Jason Rowland closed a September 2015 message to the school’s website with “The Future Starts Today – May God Bless You All.”

“The United States Constitution requires public schools to ensure that state-supported activity is not used for religious indoctrination,” the letter, which was addressed to superintendent D.C. Machen, states. It alleges that Rowland also “encouraged students to ‘pray to the Almighty God.’”

No official action will occur until the school board meets on Oct.1, but the claims addressed in the letter have already been placed on the meeting’s agenda, according to the Shreveport Times.

“In the meantime, please understand that the Bossier Parish School System enjoys an established record of achievement,” a statement from Parish spokeswoman Sonja Bailes said. “Such success is due in large part to the fact that, as in this case, the system respects both the law and the religious beliefs of all its students and employees.”

While school officials are holding their tongues for the time being, other state groups and officials have begun speaking out.

Louisiana State Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, has offered free legal services to the Parish and Rowland, according to the Times.

“This is typical of the ACLU,” he said. “They’re on a seek-and-destroy mission for all things religious.”

He added: “I hope the school will stand its ground.”

Freedom Guard, a non-profit public interest law firm, has also offered free legal defense to Airline High School, according to KSLA.

Airline High School is in Bossier City, which lies east of Red River, about 3 miles from Shreveport.

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Say Goodbye to Bride and Groom in Florida

original article: Say Goodbye to Bride and Groom in Florida
September 28, 2015 by Michael Brown

N. T. Wright is one of the most world’s foremost New Testament scholars, a sober-minded man not given to extreme rhetoric. Yet when it came to the question of redefining marriage, Wright did not hold back, explaining how dangerous it is to change the fundamental meaning of words:

“When anybody—pressure groups, governments, civilizations—suddenly change the meaning of key words, you really should watch out. If you go to a German dictionary and just open at random, you may well see several German words which have a little square bracket saying ‘N.S.,’ meaning National Socialist or Nazi. The Nazis gave those words a certain meaning. In post-1917 Russia, there were whole categories of people who were called “former persons,” because by the Communist diktat they had ceased to be relevant for the state, and once you call them former persons it was extremely easy to ship them off somewhere and have them killed.”

He continued, “It’s like a government voting that black should be white. Sorry, you can vote that if you like, you can pass it by a total majority, but it isn’t actually going to change the reality.”

That’s why I have often said that once you redefine marriage, you render it meaningless.

It would be like saying a couple can now consist of five people, or a pair can refer to one item, or a tricycle can have two wheels.

Redefining those terms doesn’t change reality, and when it comes to marriage, if you don’t have the two essential components, namely a husband and a wife, you don’t have marriage.

Consequently, if you change the fundamental meaning of marriage, you change the meaning of husband and wife as well.

As I pointed out last year in an article entitled, “I Now Pronounce You Spouse and Spouse,” as England began to move towards redefining marriage, the Daily Telegraph reported that, “The word ‘husband’ will in future be applied to women and the word ‘wife’ will refer to men, the Government has decided.”

According to John Bingham, “Civil servants have overruled the Oxford English Dictionary and hundreds years of common usage effectively abolishing the traditional meaning of the words for spouses.”

In the government’s proposed guidelines, “‘husband’ here will include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman. In a similar way, ‘wife’ will include a woman married to another woman or a man married to a man.”

So, a man could be a wife if married to another man (or not), while a woman could be a husband if married to another woman (or not), all of which begs the question: Why use words at all if they have utterly lost their meaning? It’s like saying that up is down (or up) and down is up (or down), while north is south (or north) and south is north (or south).

In the same article, I cited the Huffington Post, which reported that “California’s same-sex couples may now be pronounced spouse and spouse after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill [last] Monday eliminating outdated ‘husband and wife’ references from state laws.”

Not surprisingly, according to California bill AB 1951, birth certificates will have three options: “mother,” “father,” or simply “parent,” meaning that, in the case of two lesbians, one could be designated “father,” while in the case of two gay men, one could be designated “mother.” (The bill would also allow for three parents to be listed on the birth certificate, since there’s obviously a missing third party in the event of two men or two women “having” a baby.)

This means that we’ve come to a place of semantic insanity, a place where you can have male wives, female husbands, male mothers, and female fathers.

Do people really think you can just turn the world upside down without having any adverse effects?

In keeping with this social madness, the state of Florida recently changed its marriage certificates, removing the terms “bride” and “groom” and replacing them with “spouse.”

This goes hand in hand with other international trends. As I pointed out in 2011, “In Ontario, Canada, as a result of the legalization of same-sex marriage, all references to terms like husband, wife, and widow were removed from the law books in 2005. In Spain, birth certificates were changed from ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ to ‘Progenitor A’ and ‘Progenitor B.’”

But of course!

That’s why principle #4 in my new book is: Refuse to Redefine Marriage, since, to repeat, once you redefine marriage, you render it meaningless.

The Supreme Court can gives its ruling; laws can be passed; public opinion can shift and turn, but that doesn’t mean we have to affirm it, participate in it or, God forbid, celebrate it.

But all is not lost. True marriage – natural marriage, marriage the way God intended it from the beginning (see Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-6) – will endure, while radically redefined marriage will undo itself.

I was reminded of this as I watched some baby dedications at a church service on Sunday, with the proud moms and dads holding their precious little ones in their arms: There’s no substitute for marriage and family the way God set it up, regardless of what Florida or California or England or Spain or Canada might say.

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