Christianity in America

Fewer and fewer people identify as Christian today.  ‘Spiritualism’, Atheism, Agnosticism, along with other belief systems are on the rise.  And there’s increasing hostility towards Christians & Christianity as well.

Some of this increased hostility is, I believe, our own fault.  We come across, too often, as sticks in the mud.  Angry scolds.  Weird people others don’t want to be like.

I’ve read that Mahatma Gandhi was asked

Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?

Gandhi replied:

Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.

A variation on that had Gandhi replying ‘I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ.

And I can agree with that statement.  Unfortunately it was actually said or not, applies to me as well.

A quick search under ‘Who said they didn’t want to be like Christians’ gave me over 7 million results.

One of the top links came from The Christian Post.  This very short article from 2009 lists a few complaints former non-believers had about Christians.

So what can we do better?  How do we draw people towards Christ?

First, we need to be more like Him.  Jesus was someone people enjoyed being around.  He celebrated with his friends & neighbors.  What was His first miracle?  Turning water into wine at a wedding!  Let’s stop being sticks in the mud, enforcing rule after rule on everyone else.  We want to be able to have fun, to laugh and celebrate with people who have things to celebrate.

When Jesus was asked about stoning a woman caught having sex with someone who wasn’t her husband, the first thing he did was to tell her accusers that whoever hadn’t sinned themselves could cast the first stone.  When all those around her had left, he told her that since they didn’t condemn her, He didn’t either.  And then he said ‘Go, and sin no more’.  Could we have a similar response?

Christians need to stop being so insular.  Yes, we need support from other Christians.  We need community.  But we also need to be there for non-believers.  We need to be a beacon to them when they’re facing struggles.  And while we need to share Christ with them, maybe beating them over the head with Him isn’t the answer.

We need to be open about our own failures & struggles.  When we condemn someone else’s sins but don’t admit to the times we fall short, we’re hypocrites.  This is something that’s especially true when it comes to sexual sins, since we at least come across as obsessed with sex.

We need to become more of a Christian community.  More loving not just to non Christians, but towards other Christians too.  We might have our differences, but most denominations at least have the central beliefs in common.  So let’s work as a community of believers to solve some of the biggest problems facing the world.  Slavery, whether it involves sex or not.  Broken families.  Single parents.  Unwanted kids- fosters, runaways and young men & women who have aged out of the foster system.  Racism & bigotry.

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Charlottesville, Virginia

Groups preaching racial superiority have, unfortunately, been around for generations.  Even worse, such outdated beliefs are still with us.  Groups like the Klan, skinheads, neo-Nazis, and websites like Stormfront spout hateful, vile ideas which must not reflect the values & ideals of this country.  Racial supremacy & segregation are ideas whose time is long past, or at least should be.

But while such ideas aren’t welcome here, those who hold such ideas have the right to peacefully express them.  And those who believe in the inherit value of people regardless of their skin color have the right to peacefully oppose such bigotry.

Part of the problem in Charlottesville is that apparently the two groups may have been brought in to the same area by law enforcement.  The ‘Unite the Right’ protest was supposedly broken up and its members directed/dispersed towards the anti-racists.  Had these two groups been kept apart, maybe at least some of the problems might not have happened.

Americans need to be willing to let others express their beliefs, no matter how offensive they are.  Activists are demanding that memorials to Confederate officers and even Thomas Jefferson & George Washington be removed because of slavery.   In Germany, and a few other countries, it’s illegal to give the Nazi salute, so we need to stop ‘honoring’ slave holders.  But we have the 1st Amendment, and if it’s legal to burn the flag, as it’s been ruled, then art of any kind, as an expression of freedom of speech, must be allowed as well, no matter how offensive it might be.  Or maybe we could get rid of memorials to FDR, Margaret Sanger, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Byrd, Andrew Johnson, Che Guevara, Lenin, and Stalin, and George Soros would have to be turned over to authorities in Europe for his alleged financial crimes as well.

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Human Trafficking

While legal slavery in America ended with the Civil War, human trafficking still exists today.  It’s as much a travesty now as it was then.

Estimates range from 12 million to as many as over 40 million people who are enslaved around the world, with about 60,000 (as of 2013) slaves here in the US.  (opinion column)

Regardless of the number, there are too many.  America should be a land of freedom, and of opportunity.

So where do these slaves exist?  The sex industry has more than its share of victims.  Young women & girls, lured by promises of jobs in America, are brought in and forced to work in massage parlors or strip clubs.  Other victims have family members or ‘friends’ who start them on this dark path. (and here)

Many are also in food service, whether restaurants, bars or picking crops in the fields.  Men & women have paid thousands to traffickers, coyotes from Mexico, ‘snakeheads’ from China and other lowlifes who then threaten the families of their victims back home, or threaten to turn them over to authorities.  They work long hours, and pay most of their income for food, housing and other ‘fees’.  Their freedom is years down the road, if it ever comes.

An organization called Polaris Project has listed 25 different types of slavery today, ranging from pornography & prostitution to domestic work (housekeeping), traveling sales crews, restaurant, agriculture and health & beauty services to name just a few.

I hope this is an area we can work across the aisle on.  Slavery is an ancient institution, and it’s time that it ends.  We need to shut down human trafficking organizations.  We need to make sure that anyone doing business with the US government, and our state/local governments aren’t enslaving people, and we need to make sure all businesses are employing people voluntarily, not under coercion.

 

 

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The ‘Identity’ Movement

We’re told that, despite the fact that someone might be white & male, they can really be a black female.

Someone ‘identifies’ as something they’re not, and the rest of society is expected to treat them as what they identify as, not what they really are.

So how far do we take this?

Do we really treat the young woman who claims she’s a cat like a feline? Get her spayed (maybe not a bad idea)? Let her use the litter box? Take her to the vet for rabies, FIV and distemper shots?

What about the 52 year old man claiming to be a six year old girl?  Should we let him in the locker room with little girls & put him back in first grade?

What about someone who claims to be Napoleon or the Pope?

Do we indulge these delusions, or do we get people the help they need accepting who they are, whether it’s black or white, man or woman, someone who’s famous or not?

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What can you do for America?

President Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address, said ‘…Ask not what  your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.’  Wise words.

Today, nearly every Democrat, and far too many Republicans, expect the government to do more & more for them.

On the left, it’s all about free health care, education, feminine hygiene products, and protected status for the preferred group of the day, among other things.

On the right, it’s often expanding government help to businesses.  The US Chamber of (Crony Capitalism) Commerce.

Let’s get rid of all these hand outs, to the greatest extent possible.  Yes, there are people who can’t, or shouldn’t, work.

Our senior citizens have paid their dues.  If they can’t provide for themselves, let’s help them out.  If the have the means to provide for themselves, why not reduce (not eliminate) their benefits?

Children need to be kids.  Their ‘job’ is to learn when their in school, and to develop through play.

But let’s not encourage dependence.  Families who can’t afford kids maybe should spring for birth control so they don’t have kids, or at least don’t have more kids.  People who are unwilling to provide for themselves shouldn’t be rewarded.

What can we do for our country?  Volunteer at a food bank.  If you have the skill, teach someone to read, or help them learn a trade.  If you have the means, help someone go back to school.  Clean up your street or a local park

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Pet Food

I’m an animal lover.  We’ve rescued cats & kittens, and even a dog, off the streets over the years, and made them part of our ‘family’.  We’re feeding three feral cats here at home, and there’s another colony near work that I help feed.  We work with our local Humane Society as fosters, and we help with ‘Trap/Neuter/Release’.  So we have hearts for our furry friends.

But when we went to a local pet warehouse and saw bags of cat food costing more than $20 for 10 pounds (or less), it bothered me.

No, I don’t think it should be illegal to spend that much for pet food.

But speaking for myself, I’d much rather spend half that much to feed our cats, and use the difference to buy some chickens for a family in Africa, a fishing net for someone in Asia.  To help dig a well in a poor village.  To buy more food for the feral kitties, or to help pay for a Neuter/Spay surgery.

Of course good pet owners want the best for their cat, dog, bird, or whatever animal they have.  But we shouldn’t ever forget all the cats & dogs living on the streets, hungry, alone, neglected, and cold.

Please, help homeless animals.  Get your next pet from a shelter.  And get them Neutered or Spayed.

 

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Why I’m a Conservative

Liberals ask why middle class or poor people vote ‘against their (own) best interests’ by supporting Conservatives.

I’ve been a Conservative my whole political life.  The first political newsletter I read was ‘Human Events‘.  I was a 3rd generation subscriber, until the print edition ended, and I still regularly visit their website.  I’m hardly rich.  I work at a call center, making about $14/hour as an insurance agent.  Even my last job only paid around $20/hour.

So why do I back Conservative candidates?

I believe in, and support, the Constitution, including the 2nd, 9th & 10th Amendments.  Far too many politicians on both sides of the aisle ignore the 9th & 10th, and there are those on the left who think the right to keep & bear arms needs to be eliminated.

I believe in personal responsibility, to the greatest extent possible.  There will always be people who are unable to provide for themselves, and it’s the right thing- the Christian thing- to help them.  But we shouldn’t set out to make as many people as possible depend on government.

I believe in protecting our borders.   American is certainly a nation of immigrants.  Men & women coming from around the world to build a better life for themselves & their family.  But we’re also a nation of laws.  Too many politicians, Democratic & Republican, want to grant a ‘path to citizenship’ for their own reasons.  Republicans are more likely to do this at the urging of groups like the Chamber of Commerce, seeking lower wage employees.  The left is more likely to back amnesty over ‘white guilt’ and to gain voters.  Republicans forget that American citizens need jobs, while Democrats forget the law, and that we’re a sovereign nation.

I’m a believer in American sovereignty.  I don’t want our government to adopt laws & policies just because the French, German, Korean, Saudi or Nigerian government does.

I believe in individual rights.  Government, since it represents ‘the people’ must never discriminate.  Everyone must be treated equally under the law.  At the same time, respect for individual rights means that those individuals & businesses that choose to discriminate should be allowed to, no matter how wrong or how stupid it is.  If I’m free to avoid a business owned by someone because of who they are, they should also be free to avoid taking money from me because of who I am.

I believe that everyone, whether they’re making $15,000 a year or $15,000,000 a year, should be able to keep as much of their money as possible.  We need to fund government to do what’s needed, but we shouldn’t punish success.  I’d back a flat tax rate of 18-20% with generous personal exemptions of either $7,500 or $10,000 per person on all income, whether it’s through labor or investments.  And businesses should face lower taxes too.

I support fewer regulations.  Big business can more easily absorb the cost of new rules & regulations than small businesses can, and these costs hinder new entries into the market.  I don’t support no regulations, just fewer, more sensible ones.

I want to see the best schools possible, and I believe that comes from competition among different schools, not through a government run educational system.  While a level of ‘socialism’ is needed here to pay for education, the actual running of schools needs to be done privately.  Parents can use government funds to send their kids to schools that they believe will provide the education they feel is best, with broad & limited government interference.  And what government involvement is needed should be at the level closest to those affected- the state & local, rather than national, level.

Government has its functions.  We need government to provide things like roads, police & fire protection, national defense & to negotiate treaties with other countries.  States can & should be able to decide on regulations that they believe will protect their citizens.  If one state wants higher level of product safety than another, fine!  And a business can either tailor their product to meet those regulations, or not sell in that state.

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