Tag Archives: politics

Guest Post: A Tea Party Explanation

Last week, I posted a guest blog from my friend Zach regarding the Tea Parties that happened across the country last Wednesday. Another friend, Jeff, wrote a response, and I wanted to make that available as a guest blog as well. As politics is something I consider myself an ever learning student on, I’m open to hearing, and posting, different viewpoints on this blog. So, here is Jeff’s response:

A Tea Party Explanation


I appreciate the questions you have about the tea parties and the current unrest among fiscal conservatives about the current government policies and you are certainly not alone in both your questions and your skepticism.

I attended the Madison tea party with my girlfriend; we both took a day off of work to do so.  At the steps of the Capitol, directly underneath the Governor’s windows, over 5,000 people gathered to protest not only federal policies, but the policies of the state government as well.  I can’t speak to the individual motivations of each protestor, but I can off you my observations.   The crowd was a diverse mix of yuppies and country bumpkins, Madison residents in their flip flops and northerners with their hunter orange; blacks, whites, Hispanics, etc.  I saw Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians.  I would venture to say that while Republicans were certainly represented, the majority of attendees were disillusioned with both parties. While their current anger is directed at the Obama administration, there is a healthy amount of disappointment, if not rage, at the Republicans who most feel failed us.

I showed up to protest not just the Obama administration or the Doyle administration, but the political culture in general.  Our current federal government has far exceeded its mandate and the powers which it was given under the Constitution.  Both parties have used tax and spend policies to consolidate power bases which they seek to enlist and reward every election cycle.  Political power has been removed from local constituencies where the people had the power and has been granted to untouchable politicians and special interests.   I protested the belief that thievery is justified so long as it is performed by the government and done in the interest of specific constituencies.

The questions you raise are complicated topics that we could spend several months debating, but I do want to answer some of them specifically and throw in some general facts and figures.  I appreciate the questions because it allows us all to take a closer look at what is going on and what our government is doing, and hopefully we’ll all be able to have a clearer understanding and a desire to become active in our own ways.

Are they protesting the fact that they are being taxed without representation?

Yes and no.   The Federal Reserve is an unelected body.  While the Federal Reserve does not have the power of direct taxation, they do have the power to print currency.   Yet, over the past months and presumably for many more months to come, the Fed is “injecting” money into certain companies and industries outside of TARP, stimulus, omnibus, etc which our elected officials have not voted on.   The effect of this practice is two-fold.  First it will lead to inflation which, though not a tax, will devalue any assets you currently own, which leads to the same outcome as taxation.  Secondly, interest and principle will eventually need to be paid on the bonds and securities which are issued to print this currency, and taxes will at some point be levied to do so.

As to the conduct of our legislators, one could make the argument that the current spending that is being introduced, and the levying of taxes to support such, could be considered “taxation without representation”.  At no point in the history of this nation has the Federal government carried such a deficit and burdened its progeny with such a debt as it is in the process of doing today. Our current legislators were not elected to spend in this fashion, not one campaigned on it, not one promised it, nor did one single legislator even propose such an idea until after the election.   When the current government took office, they proceeded to pass the legislation which has been mentioned without reading the bill, without giving the citizens a chance to read the bill, and without consulting their constituencies.   While they were elected democratically, I would hardly call that representation and be more inclined to call it mob rule. (I would also assert that levying a tax burden upon those whom are not yet born also equates to “taxation without representation”)

So are they protesting because our taxes are too much?

So are they protesting because taxes are being raised for those who make more than $200,000 a year?

Yes.  To say that the current “tax cut” decreased the tax burden on 95% of Americans is simply false and to assert that it is the largest in the nation’s history is a dangerous distortion.   Currently, only 40% of U.S. citizens pay Federal income tax.  I have yet to have a single proponent of the “tax cut for 95% of Americans” idea explain to me how those who do not pay taxes can receive a tax cut.  Under the current tax plan, that number jumps to 50% who do not pay Federal income taxes.   So even using the government’s number of 95% (which are false), 45% are receiving a tax cut while 50% are receiving an unearned credit.

Let’s break down some more real numbers.  At the current tax rate, the top 1% of income earners currently pay 40% of all Federal income taxes; the top 10% (average income of $92,400) pay 72.8% of all income taxes.   From 2001 through 2006, the tax burden on the top 10% increased from 67.8% to the current level.    By the real numbers, President Bush decreased the tax burden on those in the lower tax brackets significantly…so this myth that he gave tax breaks only to the rich is a myth.

This section could be filled with facts and figures that could turn this post into a book, so we’ll leave it at that and ask ourselves the question; are we taxing those who produce, those who own businesses, too much?  I don’t know how you can say that they do not, when they are already carrying the tax burden of the entire nation upon their shoulders.

So are they protesting because President Obama’s budget proposal is a record 3.6 trillion dollars over the next 10 years?

Are they protesting because Obama’s spending is pushing our National debt higher and higher?

Yes and yes.  The discontent over Federal spending during the Bush years is one of the primary reasons that the Democrats are currently in control of government.  As I have stated above, many protestors are as disillusioned with the Republicans as they are angry at the current government. That being said, the increase in not only government spending, but government control has increased at such blinding speed to create a stark difference between the spending habits of this administration and the previous.

Remember that the current budget does not include monies spent by TARP, the stimulus bill, the omnibus bill, etc.  What the budget does include is “down payments” on such programs as Universal Health Care, high speed rail programs, green energy etc.  To take Health Care as an example; the current budget appropriates $634 billion to simply start the program.  That cost is expected to rise to well over $1.6 trillion dollars within the next decade.   He is budgeting only $5 billion for a Federal high speed rail system.  A small rail system in Madison is currently estimated to cost $1 billion and extending that type of cost to a Federal system is almost too difficult to comprehend.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these types of cost are unsustainable.  Any citizen with common sense can reason that in order to simply pay the down payment on these types of programs will require revenues much higher than what the Federal government is currently receiving, and thus new taxes will need to be levied (and the amount of citizens carrying that tax burden is quickly narrowing).  Remember, this is just the cost of the programs and we are not yet even talking about the ability for the programs to be successful.

I don’t have the exact figures of what the deficit-debt to GDP ratio is estimated to be, but the ratio over the next 15 years will increase to a point that will dwarf anything the civilized world has ever seen.   Our current ratio sits at around 22% of GDP…already an unsustainable amount.

Are they protesting because they believe Obama is walking all over the constitution?

I’m not sure when President Bush suspended the writ of habeas corpus, but it is fallacious to assert that those currently protesting the government supported carte blanche the Bush administration and the ways in which it prosecuted the War on Terror.

The current Federal government (and past governments, but they are no longer in power) is absolutely acting outside of the powers which are enumerated in the Constitution.   The Constitution restricts the Federal government to certain defined roles and restricts its authority in matters which are not specifically granted.  The Constitution does not give the Federal government the authority to nationalize private industries, to “bail out” organizations or individuals, to distribute monies to individuals or states, to fund research or art projects, to levy taxes to support insurance programs, to regulate or fund educational institutions, etc.  This list can be extended to fill another book.   While the Federal government is granted the ability to levy taxes, it is unconstitutional to levy taxes that fund activities which the Federal government is restricted from participating in.  And to your examples of funding for the War on Terror, the Federal government is responsible for providing the national defense of this nation.

Guest Post: I Don’t Get the Tea Parties!

(Here’s a Guest Post from my good friend, Zach. Originally published on his blog, so you’ll have to go there to comment and add your thoughts)

I honestly do not understand this Tea Party business going on around the country lately.

There seem to be a lot of Republicans get very excited about joining in on these Tea Parties, but I can’t figure out what exactly they are protesting.

The original Tea Party, the Boston Tea Party, was all about Taxation Without Representation. England was imposing a tea tax on the colonists in order to increase their revenues from the East India Company. The colonists resented this taxation because they believed they had the right to only be taxed by their own elected officials, hence the Boston Tea Party, where in protest they dumped three ships’ worth of tea into the Boston Harbor.

So fast-forward to today. These groups have latched onto this name Tea Party, I guess recalling this great protest in our American history, but I fail to see the connection.

Are they protesting the fact that they are being taxed without representation?

No, because they aren’t. We have a democracy, and we had an election, and our elected officials are in charge of our taxes.

So are they protesting because our taxes are too much?

No, they shouldn’t be at least, because our taxes just went down! Starting April 15, 2009, President Obama’s tax cut for 95% of Americans just started taking effect. Almost everyone that’s protesting just got their taxes decreased by President Obama. Check your pay check, I bet yours went up too! 95% of Americans just got a tax cut, it’s the biggest tax cut in American history! Why would they be protesting about taxes being so high now when their taxes are less than they were during Bush’s presidency? Why weren’t they holding Tea Parties when Bush was president?

So are they protesting because taxes are being raised for those who make more than $200,000 a year?

I don’t know why there would be this much outrage over this. The taxes of the really wealthy are being raised so that practically every other American can get some tax relief! And how much is it getting raised? 3%. Yeah, that’s right, just 3%! The rich, instead of being taxed 36%, are going to be taxed 39%. 3% more. And not even yet…this won’t even take effect for another couple years. And it wasn’t really even something Obama did, this was when the tax break for the wealthy Bush passed was set to expire. It was going to revert back to 39% either way, unless the new president renewed it. I’ve heard a lot of people claim that this is socialist! Taxing the rich more! Well, all it does is bring the tax rate back to what it was when Clinton was president. We weren’t a socialist country then, why are people all the sudden saying this is going to make us socialist? It’s just back to the way we were in the 90’s! Remember the booming economy back in the ‘90’s, by the way?  Also, during Reagan’s presidency, the champion of conservatives, the tax rate for the wealthy was even higher than this!  Is Reagan a socialist?  (No, by the way, neither of them are).

So are they protesting because President Obama’s budget proposal is a record 3.6 trillion dollars over the next 10 years?

Again, why now? Why weren’t the Republicans holding Tea Parties when Bush proposed his 3.1 trillion dollar budget? Is 3.1 trillion acceptable and 3.6 going to burn American down? And besides, Bush did not include Iraq spending on his budget. He’s allowed to keep that number separate and secret for national security reasons. So although we were spending that money, it wasn’t included in his budget. Obama’s budget decided to disclose and include Iraq spending. So Obama’s 3.6 trillion dollar budget includes Iraq spending, and Bush’s 3.1 trillion dollar budget does not include Iraq spending…so the difference between them isn’t much, if anything. Why protest now?

Are they protesting because Obama’s spending is pushing our National debt higher and higher?

They can’t be, because if so, where were the protests before? During Bush’s presidency we went from a budget surplus to double the national debt in 8 years. There weren’t any tea party protests then. We spent a trillion dollars in the war in Iraq, and these Tea Partiers didn’t protest.

So are they protesting Obama’s stimulus bill or the bailouts of the banks?

If so, almost every conservative and liberal economist alike disagrees with them. Almost every economist agrees that capital needs to be injected into the economy in order to avoid exponential collapse, and also that the major banks have become too big to fail. If we let the banks go down, our economy goes down with it for many years to come. And besides, our former President was bailing the banks out as well, where were the protests then from Republicans?

Are they protesting because they believe Obama is walking all over the constitution?

This one makes the least sense to me. These people were overwhelmingly in support of our last president who authorized warrantless wiretaps and the suspension of habeas corpus, both in direct contradiction to our Constitution. What has Obama done to violate the constitution?

I really believe at this point that the only reason for these Tea Party protests is a simple one: they do not like Barack Obama, and they will protest anything he does. Regardless of what policies he supports or actions he takes, they will continue to protest, because they have made up their minds that they do not like him. I don’t know what happened to all the people that told liberals during Bush’s presidency that it’s wrong to criticize your president during war times and that it was unpatriotic to be so against the president. That’s what these conservatives are doing now.

There’s a survey I would like to see done, and I think the results would be very telling. Everyone would be asked their political affiliation. One half would be asked what they thought of President Obama’s support for the NEC resolution, if they agree with his support for it, disagree, or are neutral. The other half would be asked what they thought of President Bush’s (or McCain’s) support for the NEC resolution. No one would be told that there is in fact no such thing as “the NEC resolution.” I believe that you would find that many conservatives asked the first question would heartily disapprove of Obama’s support of this fake resolution, and conservatives asked the second question would heartily approve of Bush’s (or McCain’s) support of it.

They just don’t like Obama, that’s what it all comes down to.

Add Your Comments at Zach’s Site

Christians and Homosexuals: Love’m or Hate’m?

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//photos-ak-snc1/v373/133/18/63914286/n63914286_35019757_7844.jpgI attended a rally downtown speaking out against Prop 8 that passed in California on Nov. 4th. I carried a sign that said “I’m a Christian Against Christians Hating and Oppressing Others.” It has been my experience, that regardless of the motivation or intent of Christians who take strong stances against same-sex marriage, the perception (and I’m afraid it is often an accurate one) is that Christians hate and want to oppress people who practice homosexuality. And so I went, if only to let those at the event know, that not all Christians feel that way. I was glad to be there.

In dialogging with others about the event, I fleshed out some thoughts that I thought I’d share here. I already posted my views on prop 8 and other same-sex marriage bans here. These are additional thoughts, I’d like to hear your thoughts as well regarding this issue and topic.

Regarding why I protested a bill that was voted in by a state majority:

As you well know, just because the majority of people believe something, doesn’t make it right.
And while I agree it might be a decent way to choose nation’s leaders, I don’t believe Christians voting against allowing a secular government to grant legal rights to committed same-sex couples is an appropriate Christian response.
Voting means the …  Read Moremajority of the people who voted agree or disagree with what’s voted on, it is not necessarily a moral compass. I encourage you to stand up as a voice in opposition to injustices when you see them. I encourage you to come along side people who have been oppressed and hated (and this in the name of Christ) and show the what true Christ-like sacrificial love looks like.

Regarding whether I think Christians who voted for Prop 8 are hateful and oppressive:

I believe there are Christians that with no hate or ill intent voted against same-sex marriage, I’m not out to judge the motives of those individuals.
Rather, I’d challenge you to ask every homosexual person you know, who will answer you honestly, if they have ever felt themselves at the receiving end of hate from Christians. I have yet to meet a person who does not have multiple stories that one can only describe as hatred (but don’t take my word for it, ask individuals yourself).
As to the oppression, I think my answer would be similar to above.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

The Church: Pro-Life or Pro-Birth? (Your Stories)

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload/static.flickr.com/2178/2291076942_d0b814f8fd_m.jpgSome of the comments on Monday’s post, Moving Beyond Pro-Birth, struck a cord and reminded me that it would be wise to reflect on where we as a church have been in an effort to figure out where we are to move to. The church, as made up of individuals, but it often becomes it’s own entity, for better or worse. So, this is a call out for you to share your stories about your church or a church you know of and how the church addressed the issue of birth and life.

Some have stories of hurt and judgment; others have stories of love and grace. We’d like to hear them all. Please feel free to post your story in the comments section below, and if you don’t have a personal story, please come by and read the comments of others. If we are to move forward it is wise for us to look back.

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Moving Beyond Pro-Birth

(This is not a critique, but what I believe is an honest starting point for a dialog regarding mothers and babies and how the church can be the embodiment of the love of Christ)


I have seen so much passion regarding this issue, so much time, energy, finances, thought and more being poured into the anti-abortion stance by Christians and christian groups. I’m not sure that I’ve seen so much passion from the church in the USA regarding any other issue (at least from my limited perspective).  I’m excited to see so much passion by the church (though at times I feel it is misguided) and I want to empower people to direct that passion to love for babies, children and mothers (completely families). I have a hunch though.

I’m starting to think and believe that the church isn’t pro-life at all. If you could call the church anything regarding this issue it would be “pro-birth”. When I look at the church wholistically and specifically regarding the issue of abortion I see a drive to insist that the only moral route for a pregnant mother is for a baby to be born. But before and after that I see very little effort by the church as a whole to live through our actions a truly “pro-life” stance. Let us love in actions and in truth.

So, that being said, here is my beginning list of ways the church can and should be The Church regarding the issue of pregnancy, babies, families, birth and abortion. I want to start with the ethos of the communities.

Looking at the statistics (regarding premarital sex) and beliefs (against abortion), I find it a little odd that (with one exception) I have never seen a young woman who was pregnant out of wedlock in any church or youth group I attended or was a part of (nor at Wheaton College where I went to undergrad). This concerns me on two levels. First, it says that couples that are getting pregnant and are unmarried are disappearing from the church, or could be secretly having abortions, because of the obvious social acceptableness of being pregnant and unmarried in the church. Secondly, it means the church, by and large, is an extremely uncomfortable place for a woman (or couple) who is pregnant to come to and find a support system.
The church is failing to live out it’s roll because we are shouting condemnation and judgement so loud no one is comfortable coming to us for the love of Christ.

Pastors and Youth Pastors need to take the roll of shifting the ethos of the church to be a welcome place for pregnant teens and unwed mothers (by and large it is not). Sermons need to be preached from the pulpit (of grace, not of condemnation), individuals and families need to be loved, cared for, apologized to. Students need to feel comfortable coming to the parents, youth pastors, or friends, for help regardless of the circumstances.

In addition, the church should be living by example a holistic love for people through out the life span, regardless of circumstance. By and large, most churches in the US participate in meager acts of charity (again, this has been my experience).  A person, of any age, should be able to walk in the church door and have their needs met. And I mean that to an extreme. (I’m talking church, not government, so feel free to accuse me of being a complete church socialist or communist ;).  Every man, woman and child within the vicinty of a church should be able to come there and have something to eat, proper clothes and a roof over their head (my church here is far short of that as well, and my own life does not live up to this standard I admit). It says something about us in the church when we claim to be pro-life, but we spend are money and resources on ourselves just like our neighbors while children go hungry around us and woman feel unable to go through with a pregnancy.

Lastly, we as Christians should be in relationships that would allow us the opportunity to intervene and shower our love and support on a woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy. I’ll be the first to admit, I have very few relationships that would put me in a position to help someone and support them before they made a decision. Abortions, by and large, are done in secret, many times because they want to keep the pregnancy a secret. If I was a young pregnant mother, Churches and Christians would likely be the last place I would go, you can feel the venom of condemnation and judgment just imagining it. We need to be those people of unconditional love. We need to be the people that a young pregnant couple could come to and ask for our support in making the right decision, and that we would love them in action, unconditionally. I fear the church (myself included) is not at that level of relationship with the woman (and men) who are being faced with these decisions, and we need to be. I think this is one of the churches great moral failings.

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Wishing I Could Say Something Brilliant Right Now

This isn’t going to be much of a post, mostly rambling. Everyone’s reflecting on the Election and I’ve really been trying to just take it all in. It’s been a roller coaster of emotion lately. Here’s a snippet.

Excitement. Going to the polls and joining hundreds of your neighbors to participate in the democratic process. Kids where shouting from the school buses that passed by. We were all excited (those I knew were voting for Obama, others I knew were voting for McCain, others casting blank ballots). Many hoping for their candidate to be victorious, but more then that there was just a real sense of purpose and excitement that we were doing something important.

Nervousness. Throughout the day about the votes I’d casts, the decisions I was now complicit in. Later nervous about the safety of the president elect.

Joy. Around ten, after we heard the report on the television, you could hear horns honking in the street, kids running around shouting. You could feel it in the air in our neighborhood. The significance of this historic moment.

Sadness. Largely due to facebook, I’ve witness the extreme negativity expressed by people I know and respect about the election results. The most troubling are those I call fellow followers of Christ. (Update: My sister pointed out this came across wrong, here’s a further explanation) I deeply respect people on both sides of the election results. My sadness is regarding the doom and gloom response that the election is ushering in the death of America, bringing on communism, destroying Israel, that the election was stolen, and that those who applaud the victory do not care about human life. (all of that summed up in people’s facebook statuses). I’m not trying to censor or discourage people’s opinions, it just makes me sad that that is the first and primary response from so many people I know.

Commitment. I’m committed to moving on. Moving past this political discourse and toward a dialog and commitment to action to address the issues that have been so passionately on the minds of those with whom I share my faith. I pray we can find common ground and worked toward living out the unified love of Christ in this broken world.

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Allegience and Hygiene: An Election Day Reminder

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload/static.flickr.com/3272/2350165806_3a4122a6f3_m.jpgI’ll be the first to admit, I can get pretty caught up in the political scene and scandals this time of year. The latest news story, the terrible “what if’s”, the deep ideological questions and more, all draw me in (which is not all bad). The danger of this, for me, has come when I lose sight of my allegiances.

I consider myself a follower of the teachings of Christ, though it’s a miserable attempt at best, I live my life trying to follow those teachings. In doing so, I swear an allegience first and foremost to another kingdom, the kingdom of God. Before I am a US citizen, I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. (Try not to get too creaped out by that statement. If you want to know what that looks like lived out, read more of my blog). All Christians, those who follow the teachings they read in the Christian scriptures, swear alligience first and foremost to the kingdom of God. Yet, we often, and especially during election season, forget that. We lose our creative abilities to live like Christ, radically and subversivly living his kingdom on earth.

Personally, I believe voting is like brushing your teeth. We all know “cleanliness is next to godliness” (It’s not really, and that’s not in the bible, but humor me for a moment). While we recognize brushing our teeth and taking regular showers is important, it’s not something we as Christians, pastors or churches spend a whole lot of time on. In all my years of church attendance I’ve yet to hear a sermon on personal hygiene. It’s something important, and something we should do, but we don’t spend a lot of time and energy on advocating for it. Instead we take care of our hygiene and move on to more important things like loving our neighbor as ourselves and living the kingdom here on earth and being the church.

What has struck me by the political discussion I’ve engaged in these past couple months is the passion so many Christians have about issues, and those issues are factors in their voting process. My earnest hope and prayer is that on Nov. 5th that same passion is translated into action by the churches and Christians on those same issues. I’d love to be a part of the movement in the church that takes that passion about pregnant women and babies and translates it into graceful compassionate churches that love the people, woman, babies, men so passionately. I’d love to see the same relationship building involvement by Christians and churches in the GLBT community. My fear and disappointment is that is not what I’ll see, may I be proven wrong.

I’ll close with a seven minute video by John Piper. A pastor and preacher who has been extremely foundational in my Christian faith. He is a phenomenal theologian and eloquent speaker and he summarizes his election reminder far more thoughtful then I:

(I’ll post a four minute version tomorrow for YouTubesday. But it’s worth a listen. Also, for the record, I don’t necessarily agree with everything John Piper says or believes.)

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To Christians in California, Arizona and Florida (Vote NO on Marriage Amendment)


How do we truly love our neighbor? If I may contextualize a bit: Jesus says do as the homosexual prostitute did when he, not judging or condemning, had compassion and cared for the needs of the church-goer who had been left for dead in the alley outside of the ministry she worked at, even after a fellow church member and a pastor drove by. (LUKE 10:30-37).

Some in our community feel that loving your neighbor is best done by voting yes on Marriage Amendments that would restrict “marriage” to be recognized only between a man and a women; I’m fearful of that action. We must be very clear that a Yes Vote on those amendments (Prop 8, Amendment 2, Prop 102) is NOT a stand against homosexuality as sin, but a political statement concerning the rights of those already practicing homosexuality. 

Jesus’ public condemnations where almost always directed to the Religious authorities within the religious community that he was a part of. In the early church we see most rebuking and moral standards being dealt with within the church, not to non-Christians. Paul even says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (I Cor. 5:12)

The Support for these amendments are coming primarily from churches. The loudest statements being made by churches are a statement to oppress homosexuals (it’s not to “support family,” just ask a homosexual what they think). If this is passed it will define in many minds a view of Christianity and Church in direct relation to this issue. Literally using a secular governments physical force and laws to mandate religious views.

How did Jesus address the idea of using physical punishment or the threat of to uphold morality? He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (Jn. 8:7) We are not to use the law as a means to force adherence to our moral standards. You want to love your neighbor who is a homosexual? Go hang out with them, be with them. Work with GLBT Teens, sit at the bedside of someone dying of AIDs whose family has disowned him or her. That is where you can share Christ love.

Before we try and take the speck out of others eyes (and I think by “brothers” Jesus meant other believers), have we made sure there is not a plank in our own? I’m not sure exactly how we go about doing that but I have some ideas of statements that we could make to the greater community that would at least be a step in that direction.

I have two suggestions for possible proposals and resolutions that I think we can as a Christian body collectively pass and send to every major organization that is fighting for gay rights. First, as it relates to the support of marriage. I think we can be humble and admit that Christians have not been a very good example of the sanctity of marriage. We can let the world know that we know that we too are sinners and fail to live up to God’s ideals. We can explain to others that God is and will forever be the one who has defined marriage, and no matter what we the church or the rest of the world does we cannot change that. And we can commit to being an example in years to come of what true marriage is, as a union before God.

The second statement I think we can make, relates to the homosexual people who this impacts. We, the church, have been a horrible example of Christ love to the homosexual community for years. Christ would have sat by the bedside of dying homosexuals in the height of AIDs in this country, yet we stood outside with signs saying they would burn in hell (or we passively stood by while those statements were made). We can beg forgiveness from the homosexual community for the hurt and hatred that has been dealt to them by members of the Christian community. We can commit to spending much more time personally showing and spreading the love of Christ in genuine ways to people who practice homosexuality.

If you believe it is best and most loving to vote Yes on these marriage amendments, then I pray you are doing equally as much to assure the that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons know the love of Christ. My personal opinion? Vote NO on the Marriage amendments and start a movement within the church to be a shining example, a light on the hill, of what a God-ordained, Christ-centered, loving relationship looks like.

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The Whole “USA’s Got My Back” Thing

This might seem like a slight tangent from the topic of politics, but I assure you it is not. I’m kind of hoping someone else can lend some insight into this.

After reading the gospel and finding no way to reconcile “love your enemies” with going to war, I started looking for some theological insight that would make sense of how we as a religion had come to this point. Someone suggested a fascinating book called, The Powers That Be, by Walter Wink, which contained this brilliant quote:

Christianity’s weaponless victory over the Roman Empire resulted in the weaponless victory of the empire over the gospel. A fundamental transformation occurred when the church ceased being persecuted and became instead a persecutor. Once a religion attains sufficient power in a society that the state looks to it for support, that religion must also, of necessity, join the repression of the state’s enemies. For a faith that lived from its critique of domination and its vision of a nonviolent social order, this shift was catastrophic, for it could only mean embracing and rationalizing oppression.

It was this “victory of the empire over the gospel” that had been nagging at me so much. It seems that we’d been given an opportunity at power, military power through our voting, that we chose to embrace rather than relinquish.

Where this plays out today is the constant talk you here about “protecting our freedom” not just on news and from politicians, but from pulpits and pastors. Another terribly theologically incorrect statement. As Christians, we believe true freedom comes through Christ, and that freedom is not furthered nor protected by military might.

And yet, as much as I insist on the above statement, it is only ‘lip service’ to an idea, because whether I ask for it or not, the military is ‘protecting my freedom’ by violent domination over it’s enemies, which runs completely counter to the gospel I insist to believe in.

Okay, Let’s Try and Talk Politics

Polling Station HereWith the conventions inching upon us (and VP nominees to come), November will probably be here before we know it. I believe discussing politics is important, if for no other reason then to be actively in touch with our society. I have friends that think it is our ethical duty and Christian obligation to vote, and others who have the same motivations to abstain from voting. I know some here are staunch democrats, others Republican, and a few third party stragglers.

What I want to begin writing and dialogging about here is not primarily about Obama and McCain and the ’08 Elections, though I’m sure that will be discussed. What I’d like to do mostly is to discuss the issues, ones that are hot button issues for many Christians. I’d like to discuss the political system, voting, parties, and our role in general. I’d like to try and articulate some of where I am at currently, but in an honest and open way, that is willing to change. More then anything though, I’d like to talk about these things in a way that acknowledges that whoever is elected president in November, our votes, and political process is not the primary way we display or further our Christianity. I think being an active citizen is important, but it pales in comparision to the importance of living out our Christian faith.

Voting for a democratic candidate who supports universal healthcare does not negate our churches duties to care for the sick, the poor, the orphan and the widow.

Voting for an anti-abortion republican candidate does not relieve us Christians of our call to support, love and care for women and their children from pregnancy onward.

Voting, elections, candidates, all of these are issues of the kingdom of the world. They are things we are free to be involved in, but they are not how we are to show or spread the love of Christ.