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The God Double Standard
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Submitted: Sep 11, 2012
By Stephen Foster



With regard to the American principle of separation of church and state and the notion that there should be no religious test for holding public office there is a double standard that has become somewhat evident in this year’s Presidential election season.

Last week as the Democrats sought to address the fact that “God,” by name, had been omitted or removed from the party’s platform language, they convened a fiasco. In the campaign for the few undecided voters remaining—in the few swing states which remain in play—this was thought to have left an opening for talking point charges of the Democrats (and by extension their standard bearers) being ‘values-challenged’ compared to their ostensibly more pious Republican opponents.

Newly minted Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has naturally attempted to take political advantage of the opportunity presented by these events by perhaps accurately suggesting that the Republicans would never have been faced with such an embarrassment because they would never think of taking God out of their platform.

At two campaign stops in the wake of the Democratic Convention, Romney implied that he was on God’s side.  In leading a Virginia Beach, VA crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance this past Saturday (September 8, with Pat Robertson on the stage), Romney said, “That pledge says ‘under God,’ and I will not take God out of our platform, I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.”

At a September 10 Mansfield, OH rally Romney promised that, “I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square and I will not take it out of the platform of my party.”

This is problematic on two fronts. Why should God’s name be used in a partisan political party platform under any circumstances? The Constitution of the United States has been a coherent and functional document without gratuitously invoking the name of the Lord. Can there be a better (or worse) example of using the Lord’s name in vain than by using it for partisan purposes in a practically meaningless political party platform?

Nevertheless, the danger of political populism is now, without doubt, on full display.

The Obama Campaign desperately tried to defuse this political land mine by reporting that the President had personally instructed the Democratic National Committee platform committee to reinsert God’s name into the platform (and that it be reiterated that the DNC position is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel).

Of course, the Democratic National Committee is charged with winning elections for the Democratic Party; and will obviously do whatever it deems is in the interest of same. If that includes pandering to an undecided segment of the body politic, it will. By having the President personally intervene, after the fact, in the reinsertion of “God” into the platform, and by ramming it through on a clearly bogus voice vote it has, again, certainly demonstrated as much.

(This is another example of why neither political party nor neither end of the political spectrum can ever be actually trusted.)

The other problem is that, being a Mormon, Governor Romney would, ironically and hypocritically (under “normal circumstances”) rather that there be little/no mention of religion in a national campaign in which he is a candidate.

However now, by personally exploiting this God omission fiasco, he is shrewdly trying to have it both ways. He can claim to be the standard bearer of the party of God against the anti-God party; while it would be unfair—and even considered to be unconstitutional—to question him about his particular religious beliefs. How convenient?!

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-12 2:03 PM

Had "the name of God" been used, it would have been more partisan. For example, which name would have been used? Yahweh? Jehovah? Allah?

However, invoking God is as American as, well, you know, the Declaration of Independence.

And yes, it is a legitimate, even necessary question to ask whether candidates and parties ascribe our rights to "Nature, and Nature's God," or to government. As the Founders understood, rights that come from God cannot legitimately be abridged by government. It is government's job to "secure these rights." In fact, it is to "secure these rights" that "governments are instituted among men."

Any so-called right that comes from government can legitimately be revoked by that government. A government which is the source of rights is a government without restraint.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-12 3:14 PM

Using God for political purposes is as clear an example as using His name in vain as there can possibly be.
 
All human rights are derived from God. This is a truth about which believers in God do not argue, or question.
 
The 'problem,' from a civil perspective, is that everyone isn’t required to believe this, nor give lip service to this; because everyone isn’t required to believe in God.
 
The beauty of our Constitutional republic is that our rights are not determined by our religious beliefs or the lack thereof. This is something that a Mormon—or an Adventist—might be expected to appreciate.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 5:47 AM

Yes, re-reading some of the comments and to me this is the key point, which everyone seems to be missing!  

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-12 4:00 PM

"Using God for political purposes is as clear an example as using His name in vain as there can possibly be."

So . . . the Founders were guilty of that in writing the Declaration?

Make no mistake, that was a political document used for a political purpose, which it maeks clear from the beginning:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

They are about to make a very partisan case for the colonies and against King George.

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

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Now, to another point: "The 'problem,' from a civil perspective, is that everyone isn’t required to believe this, nor give lip service to this; because everyone isn’t required to believe in God."

Does either platform require people to believe in God, or is it merely a statement that those voting for the platform in question affirm that they do? If the latter, then there is no problem. Any group is free to affirm  or deny a belief in God.

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Finally: "our rights are not determined by our religious beliefs or the lack thereof." Quite true, but not relevant, unless the platform proposes that rights should be conditioned on or against certain religious beliefs. A simple statement affirming the group's belief in God does neither of those things.

I'm having difficulty seeing what the problem is.

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-12 5:01 PM

All such statements, particularly made by politicians have as much meaning as claiming that the spaghetti monster must have recognition.

The Pledge of Allegiance did not originally include "under God" but was added during Eisenhower's administration.  And of course that swept him out of office ;-)  No politicians has ever been elected who didn't give deference to God, and the god need not be described, just mentioned.  I'm waiting for the day when an atheist or agnostic dares to leave God out of his beliefs.  It could mean that no longer is religion the driving force of the hypocrisy behind most politicians.


Jean Corbeau
2012-09-12 4:59 PM

I wonder how many of us even understand what "separation of church and state" looks like anymore.  The wackos on the left are offended by the mere mention of God.  One assumes they would have been happy in the good old USSR, or maybe North Korea.  The wackos on the right can't find the concept of church/state separation in the Constitution.  One assumes they would have been giddy during those halcyon days when Huss and Jerome provided light for the evening festivities. 
 
Somehow I don't think the intent of the Constitution was for the elimination of religious expression from everything that emanates from the government, or that the government must be hostile to religion.  Neither do I think it allows for government funding of any religious activities (like school vouchers, a favorite of Republicans and some Democrats).  Ideally, the government is supposed to be neutral, but finding that balance has always been difficult, of course.

I find it more than curious that we have Catholic Democrats who are all for separation of church and state and are philosophically committed to abortion rights; while at the same time we have Catholic Republicans who are opposed (as one would expect) to church/state separation and abortion.  And they all claim allegiance to el papa.

So we have the party of immorality vs. the party of "god."  The Democrats claim to believe in church/state separation, but seem unclear on how it works; the Republicans don't really believe in the concept.  Where's the next stop?  I want to get off.

Rudy Good
2012-09-12 5:25 PM

Stephen,

Pretty much agree with your observations in the blog. It is a sad commentary on the both the electorate which consumes the public pandering and those who engineer it for their own purposes. It is paramount to taking God's name in vain.

On the otherhand I think you stumbled somewhat in your response to Ed  and his most recent reponse exploits your misstep. Whether or not you conclude it necessary to so, the Declaration of Independence does attribute human rights to the creator. You should have put more effort into making a distinction between the purposes of a party platform and our founding documents.

Ed also introduces his own semantic confusion. I think it is perfectly clear that you were complaining about the "political" partisanship that motivated the "God" talk in both campaigns. I consider this to be so obvious that those Christians who want to exhonerate the politicians are IMO obviously partisan. Ed, introduce a whole new idea by referring to the founding documents (in particular the DoI) as a partisan document. While this not technically a misuse of the word, it is clearly an attempt to confuse what should be an obvious issue. The founding documents by their very nature have some political connection, but they have a great deal more moral weight and historical consequence than the platforms of a political party (which as you pointed out are not necessarily representative of the party contstiuency).

The authors and signers of the founding documents were not pandering, nor did they have a reason to pander. These documents are intended to raise what the founding fathers held as fundamental life issues despite a fairly great diversity in political views. Whether or not it was the best way to claim "inalienable rights" or not it has relevance that no party platform could ever have.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-12 8:11 PM

Rudy, you may be confused, but if so, it's because of Stephen's confused reasoning to begin with.

Both of you appear to suffer from chronological prejudice. The fact that there were no political parties in the Colonies at that time does not mean the DoI was not both political and partisan. I assure it seemed quite political and partisan to all parties at the time. Especially to the British political parties, who were quite divided over the issue. At least one purpose of the DoI was to influence that political debate.

A close observer of contemporary American politics would note that this very issue--where rights come from--is disputed by the two parties. One party holds that they come from God, the other that they come from government. As you say, that's "ntended to raise what the founding fathers held as fundamental life issues" Equating that with promising to funnel taxpayer dollars into your favorite cause may be pandering. Equating the two--now that's confusion.

cb25
2012-09-12 6:48 PM

The politics in USA is intriguing. How come Jessica Alquist (link below for those who don't know the story) can win a case to have a Prayer Plaque removed from a School, while on the other hand Presidential Nominees can play games over whether to have "God" in their party?

Almost equally puzzling is how "Christian" people have responded to her over the event. Or, maybe I should phrase it, that is how "religious" people have responded. It has a similarity to what happened in USA Embassies in Libya and Egypt in response to a movie! Perhaps the difference is that in one country they have power to carry out their threats, and in the other they don't. It all sounds a bit irrational to me.

If religious people could be reasoned with we would not exist. (adapted from House)


Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZojkNsQy8c

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-12 10:08 PM

Many such cases are handled in the local, or state courts.  Only if there is sufficient reason, would it go to a higher court.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-12 8:31 PM

I reckon “the Founders” were very intelligent guys, but not “holy men of God.” Their invocation of God does not seem gratuitous; but then again, maybe it was.
 
The use of “God” to persuade voters that you are pious, or pointing out that your political opponents’ nonuse of God’s name makes them less pious than you are, is using the Lord’s name unnecessarily.
 
The point I made in relation to “civil perspective” is that while you and I may well believe (or know) that our rights come from God and not the government, this is not a belief (or knowledge) that other Americans need share in order to enjoy the same rights; so for them it is an irrelevance. This addressed Ed’s point about our rights coming from God as it may translate to our Constitution or system of government.
 
The ‘problem’ is this: using—or exploiting the nonuse of—“God” namely for petty partisan political points on the one hand, while not wanting people to explore one’s own personal religious beliefs on the other, is somewhat hypocritical to put it mildly.
 
If one doesn’t see a problem, it may be because they agree with this.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-12 8:41 PM

I hasten to add that the voters to whom I refer in the second paragraph (above) those who live today.
 
The Founders’ Declaration of Independence was not an appeal to voters, that’s for sure.

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-12 10:14 PM

Our rights may come from God but they are meaningless unless they are also protected by the government.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-12 11:21 PM

Yes, Elaine, governements are supposed to protect our rights. That's why the Declaration says, "that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men." 

But government failure to protect our rights, would only render them meaningless if those rights  come from government. If they come from God, then those inalienable rights justify what the Declaration goes on to say: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it."

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-13 12:49 AM

The U.S. government stipulates our rights, and they are there to ensure and protect those rights. 

Help me understand:  what are the rights God has given us that our government has not also ensured will be guaranteed?   Is there something additional that is not given in the Declaration and the Constitution?

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-13 10:16 AM

The right to life, mentioned explicitly in the Declaration, springs to mind as one which the government does not guarantee.

But yes, both documents assume that more rights exist than are enumerated. In fact, that's a foundational point. We have a government of enumerated--and thus limited--powers, not a government of enumerated rights.

The Declaration, after stating that humans are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, and that among these  are. . ." So the Declaration, while only listing three, recognizes that there are others.

The Constitution is an attempt to embody the principles of the Declaration into a governing document, and so it shares the same understanding. Thus the 9th amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

As a separate safeguard, the 10th amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-12 11:12 PM

"The use of “God” to persuade voters that you are pious, or pointing out that your political opponents’ nonuse of God’s name makes them less pious than you are, is using the Lord’s name unnecessarily."

Wondering who decides what's necessary. There are people still clinging to their God who have questions. Rightly or wrongly, they believe their values are under assault.

As far as the absence of God in a party platform, I keep up with events pretty constantly, and I didn't become aware of the situation until suddenly someone decided that it needed to be added to the Democrats platform in prime time. Democrats shone the spotlight of prime time on their action. Shouldn't be surprised people noticed.

"not wanting people to explore one’s own personal religious beliefs."

I'm not certain what this is about. The media never explored the teachings of Rev. Wright where Obama attended for 20 years; never showed much interest. As for Romney, is there anyone who still does not know he's a Mormon? Has he ever denied it? Has he asked people not to look into it? Last I knew, there was a Broadway play ridiculing his religion. Has anyone asked for that to be censored? I live in Iowa, and the topic of Mitt's religion has been explored to exhaustion here. I used to have a copy of the Three-in-One, but it got lost during a move.

There is no religious test for public office. That means no one can be disqualified from running for office by their religion, or lack of same. But what a candidate believes will influence how he or she performs in office. Platforms are an expression of the party's values. Those are legitimate issues. Voters are free to take that into account.

Jim Wallis and the President himself have no problem declaring that God supports their policy preferences. But I guess that's OK.

All this is just an attempt to place out of bounds issues that do not favor the party. You  don't like that. I get it. But then just say that.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-13 12:01 AM

I assume, Stephen, that you are offended that the Obama administration condemned and apologized for a video that offended Muslim sensibilities? Clearly a government that supports the Constitution, which protects this sort of speech, has no business using its power and authority to condemn Constitutionally protected, legal speech just because some religious group finds it offensive. 

I assume you are well aware of the large body of quotes from our founders that could be assembled to demonstrate their belief in the fundamental necessity of religious belief in order for the American experiment to work. I tend to agree with your ostensible distaste for mixing religion and politics. But you have such a double standard, and a filter that prevents you from seeing how Obama and the Dems pander to and exploit religious belief that it is really quite impossible to have a rational discussion with you about your obsession with anti-conservative, anti-Republican blogging.

Kevin Riley
2012-09-13 8:01 AM

Perhaps one of the problems is jumping from the (rather obvious, to an Australian observer) founders' belief in religion and the need for religion to the conclusion that America is a Christian nation and needs to be run as such.  I believe it is very difficult to support that view from any of the founders' writings.  By saying 'nature and nature's God' the founders did a very good job of avoiding partisan religion.  Neither Christians, Deists or the few Jews then in the US would have been offended.  As Australia and Britain - and probably much of Europe - have proven, there is a wide terrain between a country that is no longer Christian and a country that is still religious.  I would accept that the founders believed in a religious (perhaps today they would say 'spiritual) nation, but not in a Christian nation - and certainly not a denominational nation.  I doubt they could see the revivals coming, nor what that would do to the US.  In a country with low church attendance but a high belief - even if only in a vague way - in 'God', the founders did a good job of expressing a lofty ideal in language that offended few.  If only their descendants had inherited that skill :)

Stephen Foster
2012-09-13 1:55 AM

It is clear Nathan, that you did not read the blog before writing this. That’s a shame, because it is “impossible to have a rational discussion with you about” a blog that you haven’t read.
 
I know that you didn’t read it because I know that you read well enough not to have missed (at least) an entire paragraph; which you obviously did.
 
Here are two paragraphs that you missed:                          
Of course, the Democratic National Committee is charged with winning elections for the Democratic Party; and will obviously do whatever it deems is in the interest of same. If that includes pandering to an undecided segment of the body politic, it will. By having the President personally intervene, after the fact, in the reinsertion of “God” into the platform, and by ramming it through on a clearly bogus voice vote it has, again, certainly demonstrated as much.

(This is another example of why neither political party nor neither end of the political spectrum can ever be actually trusted.)

 
Besides not being very accurate about what actually occurred in prime time (or not) Ed, when you quote portions of sentences to address and/or attack you can mislead. (You can copy and paste whole sentences.)
 
The ‘problem’ is this: using—or exploiting the nonuse of—“God” namely for petty partisan political points on the one hand, while not wanting people to explore one’s own personal religious beliefs on the other, is somewhat hypocritical to put it mildly.
 
It’s hypocritical for anyone to do this. If and when Obama has done this it will be, and/or has been, hypocritical.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-13 10:24 AM

So you're not claiming this has been done by anyone, just preemptively condemning it?

I'm not seeing anyone who did what you're so upset about.

As far as what happened, I saw it (live, not on youtube), and I watched very little of either convention. If I saw it, it was pretty prominent.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-13 10:51 AM

Ofcourse I read the article, Stephen. You have a penchant for making a focused, intense attack on Republicans and political conservatives, and then you concede in passing that the Democrats sometimes may use similar rhetoric and play the same game, they wouldn't have to do it if it weren't for those pesky, evil Republicans. The Dems reluctantly do it as a tactic, but the Republicans are dangerous because they really believe that stuff.

Political parties are not supposed to be a branch of government. They are not even private charities. What better setting to go outside of the Constitution to affirm fundamental character traits and qualities that a group of people believes will promote a better ditizenry, and to call for government policies that do not undermine those basic values?

earl calahan
2012-09-13 2:21 AM

The concept of a religion predicated on a creator god or gods, depending on what part of the world you were born & brainwashed in, has relevence to how devout & loyal you are, to your religious heritage.
The framers of the DOI & Constitution of the USA, obviously had a relationship with Almighty God, otherwise there would have been no reference to religion inclusive. They were definitely concerned of how their forbears had to live in a society controlled by a coercive state religion. Probably there were a minority of agnostics & atheists in the group, however the concept that the state would not seek to force any religion, or no religion, on its citizens, provided freedom for the citizens right to choose, or not to choose. All through history, Earth's peoples have been annihilated in the name of religion. It continues to this day. In the USA, the government's policies of providing a haven for the
oppressed people of all nations, has created a hodge podge of various religions, with  substantial
numbers, that so complicates our country's founding statements of belief. IN GOD WE TRUST; in whose god? Up to 1950, the USA was still considered a Christian nation. The large majority of citizens
professed a belief in the Christian God. Some religions believe if you are not of their belief, you have
no reason to live. How is it possible for such variation in beliefs to come together as a whole to vote
a common theme that all can agree with. It's impossible. The Founders of the USA's guidelines, were
so brilliant in their wisdom. The USA government must show no preference for any religion, or ISM.
i believe any belief system, god or godless is a religion. Politician's seize every tool of expediency to
gain an advantage. Religion, race, education, experience ect ect.

William Noel
2012-09-13 10:34 AM

Stephen,

The way you conflate mentions about God in a political context with possible issues of separation of church and state leaves me wondering if you have ever read either the US Constitution or the Federalist Papers.  While God is not directly metioned in the Constitution, there are numerous discussions about God and issues of faith in practice in the Federalist Papers and the Constitution was written with respect for those principles.  While there were a variety of views about God among the founders, modern attempts to claim that God should not play a role in public debate, or that divine principles should not influence decisions about public law and policy, are as far removed from reality as the distance God separates us from our sins. 

Your quesion about potential mixing of church and state is a canard distracting from what really matters: whether or not our next President will be a follower of God so we can trust them to be honest in their dealings and seeking the good of others more than their own benefit.  Mitt Romney has a clear spiritual and moral foundation and the record of his life is one of Bible-based charity for others while improving the lives of tens of thousands.  In contrast, Barack Obama only worships Barack Obama and his highest priority in life is not serving God, but promoting himself and his political/social idealism regardless of the harm being caused to others. 

Jesus declared that we were either with him or against him.  There is no middle ground.  Either a person is a follower of God or they are against God.  We have had no clearer or obvious moral distinction between presidental candidates in American history.  While I may have theological disagreements with Romney, it is clear to all who are willing to examine him as a person that God is foremost in his life and he practices divine principles in all that he does.  In contrast, faith plays, at best, an extremely small in Obama's life and then only when it is convenient or to his political advantage.  So our choice is between a candidate who serves God and one who serves Satan. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-13 11:13 AM

Wow William. That's an awfully strong conclusion! That sort of thinking, translated into the political sphere, is what starts religious wars. I think President Obama has a dystopic vision for America. I think he would much prefer to see everyone equally poor than unequally prosperous. And he clearly doesn't have much use for democratic processes or minority interests that he does not value. He is desperately wrong in his political values. But to say that he serves Satan??? That strikes me as way over the top. It is not ours to judge hearts, despite the fact that liberals prefer to make superficial sentiments - compassion and caring - the metric by which policy is judged, rather than the soundness of the policy.

Who knows but what it is a part of God's design to bring America to its knees by destroying its prosperity, and who knows but what Obama may be central to that plan?

William Noel
2012-09-13 1:49 PM

Nathan,

It is not often that we have so much evidence with which to see an issue in such stark reality.  We can either see it for what it is or suffer the loss of freedom that will result from ignoring it.  As for what will happen in the future, I will leave that to God and continue trusting Him from day to day. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-13 1:17 PM

William,

Your effort to paint one as so godly, while the other is satanic, reflects the worst kind of uninformed voters today.

William Noel
2012-09-13 1:47 PM

Sorry, I'm not uninformed.  The evidence is so great that a blind man could see it. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-13 3:08 PM

Agreed, William, that you are most certainly well-informed. If Elaine really wants to see uninformed voters, all she has to do is look at the constituencies of the Left, which are primarily informed, if at all, by the entertainment and the celebrity cult on which Obama depends for his popularity.  

But tell me this: What purpose is advanced by saying that our President is serving the cause of Satan? Would it not be far more accurate and revealing to simply say that he is dangerously wrong, and that his policies, by design, destroy liberty, while supporting and strengthening special interest political constituencies at the expense of the most productive, creative citizens of the country?

William Noel
2012-09-15 2:42 AM

Nathan,
There are two purposes in stating that Obama is a servant of Satan: to draw a spiritual perspective about the risks America faces in the coming election and to remind readers of the scriptural fact that we are either under the control of God and serving Him, or we are under the control of Satan and serving him. 

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-13 5:50 PM

I would not necessarily use the terms "godly" or "satanic" to describe either the candidates, but it is clear that Obama represents the party of immorality, while Romney represents the party that, if given free reign, would unite church and state.  Give me a better choice.  Politicians are becoming notorious for using their religious beliefs to bolster their campaigns, which is disingenuous, at best.  I also find it interesting that many of the same people who were calling Romney a member of a cult a few months ago, are now singing his praises.  So which is it, a non-Christian cult, or a defender of the Amercan understanding of the Judeo-Christian ethic?

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-13 6:07 PM

Exactly what policies, Jean, is the Republican Party advancing that would lead to State establishment of religion or infringmenton the free exercise thereof? I assure you that I can name many policies the Democrat Party is advancing that do precisely that.

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-13 8:06 PM

School vouchers, for one.  Since when does the government have the right to finance parochial schools in any way?  At a friendly "debate" among all of the Republican candidates (with the exception of Mitt Romney) last November, it was clearly articulated that they don't like the restrictions placed on churches which prevent them from politicking from the pulpit.  I believe it was Michelle Bachman who made the strongest comment on that subject, and no one disagreed with her.  The most ardent supporters of the Republican Party are right-wing evangelicals who are not afraid to decry the notion of church/state separation.  It's a slippery slope, and (to steal a quote from a prominent evolutionist) government should not "allow a divine foot in the door."  While we have much to fear from the immoral left, we have just as much to fear from the religious right.  Taken to their extremes they eventually meet each other.  To use a secular example:  Stalin and Hitler; left and right; the end result was the same.  The same would be true in the religious realm.

William Noel
2012-09-14 8:54 AM

Jean,
The primary issue with school vouchers is who decides where the money can be spent.  In recent years the main view is that education funds can be spent only by public schools.  But the growing failure of those schools has been driving the rising popularity of private and charter schools.  Several state legislatures have adopted the policy that funding for education is a benefit to individual students so they have put the parents in control of making decisions about how their children will be educated.  The state no longer cares what school you select for your children and the improvements have been amazing.  The same amount of money is provided per student based on their grade level.  So far no court has overturned the policies because there is no evidence of discrimination or violation of church-state rulings. 

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-14 7:34 PM

It's a slippery slope.  When gov. doles out money, it can dictate how and by whom it is used, and place restrictions on institutions to which it is given (even if given to them voluntarily by parents).

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-14 7:50 PM

In California, they must maintain the same standards as the public schools.  Charter schools are not voucher schools but operate under the aegis of the public school sytem.

William Noel
2012-09-15 2:47 AM

Jean,
Your statement about Romney representing the political party that would unite church and state is without basis in fact.  Romney is a Mormon, a religious group that has suffered far more persecution and violence since their founding than any other religious group in North America.  They are probably the most vigorous defenders of religious freedom in our nation (and many times more active in defending religious freedom than Adventists).  It is Republicans who have sponsored such legislation as the Defense of Marriage Act and other legislation with the purpose of preventing Liberal encroachment on the practice of religion.  It was the Justice Department under George Bush that undertook to defend religious displays in public places.  The list goes on and on with Democrats attacking religious freedom while charging it is Republicans who are doing it. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 10:50 AM

What the Religious Right decries is not church/state separation, but the radical separatism of a high, moveable wall that centralized governments have always used to crush religion and confine it to synagogues, temples and churches. Did you know that the U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany had freedom of religion defined by a nice high wall of separation? It is my understanding that the Constitution of Cuba has similar provisions. How is that working out?

Of course Stephen Foster would say, "Just fine...at least they don't have Sunday laws or a religious right threatening to take the reins of power!" In Foster's spin on Adventist eschatology, not only does liberty in general not really matter, but character and religious values are irrelevant to the preservation of liberty. All that matters is keeping religious folks away from the levers of political power. We would be better off under Kim Jong Un. Better Red than Christian. Better to starve in a prison state than to prosper in a democratic republic that allows prayer in public schools. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-13 9:46 PM

As usual, Jean makes some excellent points. Policies calling for church/state unity, whereby the church is empowered to exert its will via/over American civil power represents the ominous danger according to eschatological prophecy.
 
A definition of “policy” (according to dictionary.com) is “a course of action adopted and pursued by a government, ruler, political party, etc.: our nation’s foreign policy.”
 
This is to say that a policy needn’t be event-driven but is usually an approach toward decision making.
 
As Jean points out, it is as intriguing as it is ironic that Adventists now regard/favor a Mormon as a standard bearer for an American political party featuring ‘Christianity.’
 
It obviously can’t be long now.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-13 1:25 PM

One thing that is sorely lacking whenever this type of discussion arises is a working definition of "religion." Would it be reasonable to suggest that religion is a collection of beliefs and practices by which humans recieve, express, and transmit their most cherished and deeply held values? If that is a reasonable definition, then does it not follow that the platform of each political party is, in a very real sense, a religious statement? So the issue here, it seems to me, is not really religion, but God.

Stephen, you ask why God should be mentioned in a political platform. Well, ever since political parties have had platforms, God has been an undergirding assumption of both party platforms. So perhaps you should first ask the question: "Why has that Word gradually and deliberately been excised from the Democrat party platform?" Is it not for religious reasons? Is it not because Dems believe that the word God confuses and offends many of their most deeply cherished polytheistic values and beliefs? Is the belief of Democrats - that our most important rights should be bestowed and controlled by the government - less religious than the belief  of Republicans that our most important rights are bestowed by God to be freely exercised without government interference? Why do you find the former acceptable, and the latter not? I assume you also find the reference to God in The Declaration of Independence - certainly a political platform - to be offensive?

Blaming religion for bad politics and war is like blaming politics for bad public policy and war. Both are inherent in human nature. When politics goes beyond the intention of our framers - that government institutions work best when they are limited to protecting safety and protecting God-given rights - in an attempt to advance sacred or secular religious values, we are in danger of state religion.

This is why the framers believed religion was so vital. Only religion (perhaps only the Judeo-Christian religions) is a strong enough force to preserve and pass on the values of charity, self-reliance, industry, excellence, faith, loyalty, and humility that enable republican, democratic institutions to avoid despotism or mob rule. This is why we had an American Revolution - not a French Revolution. And this is why our national leaders do the nation a great favor when they emphasize the indispensibility of those values to responsible citizenship.

The correlation between religious observance on the one hand, and productivity, charity, respect for the rule of law, striving for excellence and self-reliance on the other, is startling. The notion that any national leader or party should speak truth to the problems facing our country without expressing deeply held convictions about their root causes and cures strikes me as irresponsible and dangerous.

Kevin Riley
2012-09-13 9:52 PM

I can give you the best social scientific answer to 'what is the definition of religion?': "that is a difficult and probematic concept" :)  Usually there is a distinction made between religion and ideology, in that religion relates more to the 'transcendant' or 'spiritual' world beyond the natural, whereas ideology refers to an ideas/values based set of beliefs that may not include anything but the natural world.  Buddhism has been the perpetual 'fly in the ointment' for any definition of religion, as some branches have a strong belief in 'supernatural' beings, some have none, and yet there is a general belief that Buddhism is a 'religion'.

I would suggest some of your conclusions may become less self-evident if you broaden the discussion beyond the US context.  Multi-cultural countries have not yet found a way to reconcile commitment to treating all equally and respecting all equally on one hand, and preserving the necessary degree of unity in order to function as one state.  The US represents one possible response.  Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and South Africa are English speaking countries who have taken eithe rslightly or significantly different routes.  I don't think we have had sufficient time to evaluate which works best - or even if any will work long-term.

I would suggest the real problem may be how we do or don't define 'God'.  Australia still has 'God' in offocial references, still has prayer before each session of parliament, and still allows religious education and prayer within the school system, but tends not to have as many problems with atheists as in teh US simply because 'God' is not associated with any religion or any religious beliefs.  Atheists can live with 'God' meaning 'a being/force that may exist beyond what we can currently see/experience'.  When 'God' is used in an official context, it makes no claims for what that God is like, nor that any practices should or must follow from a belief in 'God'.  I suspect in the US the problem may be that it is too easy to slip from a generic reference to 'God' to the beliefs and practices of evangelical US Christianity.

William Noel
2012-09-14 8:47 AM

Nathan,

That would be a very loose extension of the definition of "religion" which more typically is defined by a set of beliefs focused on the worship of one or more dieties. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-14 1:38 PM

I understand that, William. But confining religion to belief systems which include worship of a diety only serves to create artificial political distinctions between sources of ultimate truth, distinctions which primarily serve to unfairly advantage atheistic, anti-diestic ideologies and values over theistically based ideologies and values in the civic arena. Is the Goddess of Reason less a diety for those who do not ritualize her worship, but nevertheless proclaim her progressive revelation d'jour to be the ultimate source of truth? If atheism is not a religion, because it rejects a diety, then would the Constitution permit atheism to be declared the official belief system by which government should be run?

William Noel
2012-09-15 2:50 AM

Nathan,
Logical, but I'm going to disagree about extending the definition of "religion" to include athiests because their foundational philosophy is anti-religion.  How can they be what they claim they are not? 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 1:26 AM

Ah, but their foundational philosophy is really anti-theist. They claim to be anti-religion so as to preference themselves in arenas where conventional religions are unwelcome. But they are being disingenuous. Humans are by nature religious. We can't escape our religious nature any more than we can escape our political nature. To paraphrase Chesterton: "When men stop believing in God, they'll believe in anything; and what they believe in will become their god." It is the belief system that is important, not whether there is a defined, transcendent diety around which all the beliefs cluster.

Read Al Gore's Earth in the Balance, and you can appreciate how artificial and pernicious the distinctions between religion and non-religion can be. If you exclude ultimate belief systems which do not claim a diety from the definition of religion, then you leave open the possibility that the government could make atheism the official belief system of America without running afoul of the First Amendment. Do you think that would be Constitutionally permissible?

Stephen Foster
2012-09-13 4:50 PM

I would again remind some of you (Ed, Nathan, and William particularly) that I am an historical SDA who wholeheartedly subscribes to SDA eschatological doctrinal exegesis relative to Revelation 13 and The Great Controversy narrative.
 
As such, I am particularly sensitive—or, if you prefer, alarmed—when American political parties and American politicians claim to speak for, or represent, or work for God. I am also wary of the use of the name of the Lord for the purposes of securing secular civil power.
 
In this context, it is quite interesting—though sadly no longer surprising—that such rhetoric is encouraged, supported, and defended by Adventists who do not subscribe to SDA eschatological doctrinal exegesis relative to Revelation 13 and Ellen White’s The Great Controversy narrative. The same can be said (interesting but not surprising) of making a case against a distinct separation of church and state.
 
It’s instructive that an opinion has been expressed that one presidential candidate works for God and the other works for Satan. This is the mentality that will permit that which a few Adventists think improbable.
 
To those thinking that this is a rare or unusual opinion/mindset, I suggest that they wake up and smell the Postum!

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-13 6:47 PM

I am far more concerned with movements which claim not to be religious, but in fact are messianic in nature. Any charismatic leader who claims that he/she can heal the planet and command the tides--and have people swoon at the notion, more closely resembles the angel of light than any television preacher. Even King Canute knew better.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-13 9:49 PM

Since you are a Seventh-day Adventist minister Ed, would you furnish some Bible texts or quotations from GC to enlighten us about “the angel of light,” or the man of sin, or Seventh-day Adventist eschatology?

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-14 12:45 AM

I don't understand the purpose of this question.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-14 9:26 AM

You do understand the question however, Ed.
 
A purpose for the question is that you said, I am far more concerned with movements which claim not to be religious, but in fact are messianic in nature. Any charismatic leader who claims that he/she can heal the planet and command the tides--and have people swoon at the notion, more closely resembles the angel of light than any television preacher.”
 
In light of your referencing “the angel of light” and the fact that you are an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister, I ask you to elaborate on your statement in the context of biblical and doctrinal eschatology.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-14 9:53 AM

Sorry Ed, upon reviewing your bio, you may not be an ordained Adventist minister. I thought that you were. I may have you conflated with some else entirely.
 
If you are not a clergyman the question may not be one that you feel equipped to answer. I would understand.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-14 10:46 AM

No, I am not an ordained minister.

Whether I'm equipped is another question, no doubt having different answers from different people. I have taught interpreting Revelation on three continents, and at our seimnary in Hungary. In Norway, a number of years ago, I was privileged to teach at a minister's meeting at the same time as Hans La Rondelle. He was most gracious.

I have written numerous articles in SIGNS, Review, Focus, Life.info, many dealing with last-day events.

I have also been privileged to spend many hours with Jon Paulien, a dear friend. Of course, no one else's credentials rubbed off on me. No one else is responsible for what I say. Whatever equipment I have is my own.

As far as the Angel of Light, I will simply say that if all but 'the very elect' will be subject to deception, we should not be surprised if Lucifer manifests himself in a way few expect. It would be convenient if he would show up just as we expect him too, but history and scripture suggest otherwise.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 11:04 AM

I do agree strongly insofar as I think there is a very big danger within Adventism of becoming 'People of the chart' rather than 'People of the book' who have forgotten how to watch.  If you look at the first Advent, the Pharisees had a very preconceived view in their mind.  For example, the prophecy re Elijah coming first was 100% true, but it was fulfilled in a way none of the so-called experts expected - i.e. John the Baptist was Elijah.

My absolute favourite are those old 1950s pictures of the 2nd Coming, with a white, middleaged man in a suit, his wife and children perfectly dressed in their best Church clothes, standing or kneeling on a hill with hands in a perfect prayer pose.  Somehow I doubt it will quite all turn out that way.

That said, I think it equally dangerous going around thinking certain individuals is Satan incarnate - especially if the suggestion is that Obama is?  That is just as absurd and dangerous in my book.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-14 12:07 PM

I did not suggest, nor have I ever thought for an instant, that Obama is "Satan incarnate." In fact, I have emphatically stated the opposite.

William Noel
2012-09-15 2:51 AM

Stephen,
I do not accuse Obama of being Satan, just a follower because he so obviously is not a follower of God.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-18 12:57 AM

You are on record William, as having repeatedly associating people (me included) with Satan.
 
Being a political conservative, you will undoubtedly have freedom to continue to do so.
 
Of course I hope this isn’t confusing for the non-Christians who visit this site. Then again, how can it not be?

Stephen Foster
2012-09-18 1:02 AM

“…as having repeatedly associated people (me included)…”

earl calahan
2012-09-14 12:24 AM

You shall know them by their fruits. Observe Obama; He is of very questionable origen. So much about his early life is unknown. He is known to have had mentors that were communist & terroist & treasonable; also his religious guru of over 20 years is publically known to preach racial hatred. His
education was paid for by whom?? He was accepted into the best schools with unknown record transcripts. The class years at some named schools found no classmates who ever saw him or even heard his name. He has appeared on the American scene initially as a charismatic angel of light. Where did he come from? He was able to deceive even the elect. His actions of the past 3 1/2 years, as potus of the USA, have demonstrated his overbearing leaning toward strong socialist policies (even despotic), while flagrantly ignoring the US Constitution. Both the Republicans & Democrat houses of Congress let him get away with it. If he is reelected, a strong possibility of dictatorship will ensue. And woe to the USA & the world.
On the other hand, you have Romney, a known quality since birth. He donated his inheritance from his father. His millions amassed were by his own diligenence. He is known by his public image & contributions to society at large. He has demonstrated in life a constancy to a strong belief in public
service. Serving as Govenor in Mass. & leading the Salt Lake Olympics to success after it's earlier
managers failed, and didn't accept any salary from either. America is electing a Commander in Chief who must have the business acumen to reverse the downward spiral of our country's economy that
has stagnated over the past 12 years, and is leading to class hatred & division. Riots & class warfare
will be the result. The USA military & police forces will be used to quell the unrest, and yes, the American population will be fired on, by its own military. i am SDA, not Mormon, but recognize no
nominee regardless of religious persausion, will remove the barrier between Church & State. Bye the
bye, i have no horse in this race. 


Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:14 AM

"His actions of the past 3 1/2 years, as potus of the USA, have demonstrated his overbearing leaning toward strong socialist policies (even despotic), while flagrantly ignoring the US Constitution."

It might shock you but American politics on the whole is so far to the right of the rest of the Developed World, that I don't think you know what 'socialism' actually means and is just a 'weesal word' used to scare people - like 'unAmerican.'

It might also shock to you know that by the standards of the rest of the Developed World, Obama is hardly a socialist.  The best example that comes to mind is the private mandate in Obamacare.  It might shock you to know that arguably Australia's most conservative Prime Minister, John Howard (one of Bush's key allies), introduced a similar law several years ago.  It was introduced using conservative ideological language about personal responsibility, and ensuring those who could look after themselves didn't burden the state re medical care.

Come to think of it, didn't Romney introduce something similar, and didn't he use similar conservative-imagery when he did so....?

I guess it is conservatism when a white, rich Mormon does it, but socialism when a black, poor Christian does it?  

William Noel
2012-09-14 1:09 PM

Who cares about how the rest of the world views Obama?  He's our president, we have a Constitution and laws that he ignores, and we have to deal with the results. 

What is wrong with being rich?  What about all those promises God made about blessing people and making them prosperous if they obeyed Him?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 9:42 PM

My point is Obama is hardly the 'socialist' you claim him to be.

Do you really think God blessed Romney in the way he made his money through vulture capitalism?

There is nothing wrong with being rich per se, but a person who comes from an extremely privilleged background is hardly going to get the struggles of the average American is he?

It is a matter of who you would prefer.  

William Noel
2012-09-15 9:36 AM

Obama hardly a socialist?  Consider his own words in his book "Dreams From My Father" where he describes how in college and graduate school he studied every piece of radical socialist literature he could find.  The primary reason he studied at Harvard was so he could spend time with a professor who is one of the most radical Marxists in the free world.  Obama calls himself a disciple of the man. 

I'll add another item from my own research: he Obama administration has one common requirement for all senior positions: being a disciple of Marxism.  I learned this from a friend who was interviewed for a high position.  The man is highly qualified and has a stellar track record of unimpeachable ethics and effective management.  But the interviewers didn't want to know about how he would handle policy challenges.  Their questions probed to see if he was devoted to Marxism.  His lack of devotion soon soured and shortened the interview and he was not selected.  The man picked was a hard-over Marxist and unashamed racist.

William Noel
2012-09-15 9:36 AM

Obama hardly a socialist?  Consider his own words in his book "Dreams From My Father" where he describes how in college and graduate school he studied every piece of radical socialist literature he could find.  The primary reason he studied at Harvard was so he could spend time with a professor who is one of the most radical Marxists in the free world.  Obama calls himself a disciple of the man. 

I'll add another item from my own research: he Obama administration has one common requirement for all senior positions: being a disciple of Marxism.  I learned this from a friend who was interviewed for a high position.  The man is highly qualified and has a stellar track record of unimpeachable ethics and effective management.  But the interviewers didn't want to know about how he would handle policy challenges.  Their questions probed to see if he was devoted to Marxism.  His lack of devotion soon soured and shortened the interview and he was not selected.  The man picked was a hard-over Marxist and unashamed racist.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:14 AM

"His actions of the past 3 1/2 years, as potus of the USA, have demonstrated his overbearing leaning toward strong socialist policies (even despotic), while flagrantly ignoring the US Constitution."

It might shock you but American politics on the whole is so far to the right of the rest of the Developed World, that I don't think you know what 'socialism' actually means and is just a 'weesal word' used to scare people - like 'unAmerican.'

It might also shock to you know that by the standards of the rest of the Developed World, Obama is hardly a socialist.  The best example that comes to mind is the private mandate in Obamacare.  It might shock you to know that arguably Australia's most conservative Prime Minister, John Howard (one of Bush's key allies), introduced a similar law several years ago.  It was introduced using conservative ideological language about personal responsibility, and ensuring those who could look after themselves didn't burden the state re medical care.

Come to think of it, didn't Romney introduce something similar, and didn't he use similar conservative-imagery when he did so....?

I guess it is conservatism when a white, rich Mormon does it, but socialism when a black, poor Christian does it?  

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:15 AM

"On the other hand, you have Romney, a known quality since birth."

Certainly a known quality all right - rich, white, privilleged background... out of touch with the common man?

William Noel
2012-09-15 2:55 AM

Stephen,
Please, stop perpetuating that myth about being rich, white and privileged automatically making a person out of touch with the common man.  Look at Romney's track record of church involvement and charity and you'll find someone who is very much in touch. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:18 AM

"His millions amassed were by his own diligenence."

Sure, the dillegence of vulture capitalism, buying up American companies, breaking them apart, laying off American workers, and then shipping the money into offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, so he wouldn't have to pay taxes.

I think that is the sort of dillegence America could probably have less of.  Lets not dellude ourselves.  Romney is no Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or even Brad Pitt who made their millions by making something valuable to the US economy - unless of course you think American layoffs are valuable?

William Noel
2012-09-15 3:01 AM

Stephen,
Romney has made no valuable contributions to the American economy and lays-off workers?  Where do you get those lies.  Look at the record of Bain Capital during the time Romney was there and you'll find that more than 97% of the businesses they financed have succeeded and together they created over 100,000 jobs that still exist today.  Have you ever shopped at Staples or Sports Authority?  Those are two of Bain's larger success stories. 

The claims about Romney being involved in layoffs have been debunked as blatant lies.  They didn't happen until years after he left.  That steel mill mentioned in attack ads didn't close until ten years after Romney left Bain Capital and then only because of cheap steel imports from China.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:20 AM

"He donated his inheritance from his father."

Donated to what - his Mormon Church?  That is commendable, but not quite as commendable as if he had not immorally (even if it was not illegal) minimizing his taxes, which would have been spent on roads, schools, hospitals and soldiers, instead of Mormon missionaries.  



Nathan Schilt
2012-09-14 4:51 PM

Stephen F., did you really mean to suggest that paying taxes to build roads, bridges, secular schools, etc., is a more commendable endeavor than giving money and volunteering time to advance the cause and gospel of Christ? Do you have any idea how wealthy Romney would be if he had stayed with Bain Capital instead of devoting the most productive years of his life to public service? How much money do you donate to the government each year, beyond what you are legally compelled to pay?

Who do you know that does not do what they legally can to minimize taxes? I have many times asked liberal friends to name the top five causes they would give their money to if they had a million dollars to give away. Do you know how many of them have named the government? That's right...ZERO.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 9:46 PM

"Stephen F., did you really mean to suggest that paying taxes to build roads, bridges, secular schools, etc., is a more commendable endeavor than giving money and volunteering time to advance the cause and gospel of Christ?"

If I robbed Caesar to pay the Temple would that be ethical?  That sounds a little bit like Corban to me, to use Jesus condemnation in the Sermon on the Mount.

Do you consider spreading the Mormon faith spreading the Gospel?  They certainly should have the freedom to do that, but I just question the ethics of using money that morally belongs to all people that would otherwise be spend on roads, bridges, school teachers, police and soldiers.

Is it ethical that the middle class on main street seems to have to bare the brunt of taxation to keep it all together, whilst extremely rich people use technical loop holes to pay minimal tax?  Is that ethical, even if it is legal?  Should a person who doesn't pay their fare share towards the payment of soldiers be entitled to lead them as C-in-C?

Again, it is a question of choice.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 12:13 AM

"Is it ethical that the middle class on main street seems to have to bear the brunt of taxation...?"

First of all, Stephen, are you aware that 47% of Americans pay no federal income tax whatsoever? Is that ethical? Are you aware that the top 1% of income earners pay 37% of federal income taxes, and the top 10% pay over 70%? Where do you get your ethical compass that tells you what the right amount of taxes is? Is it ethical that the poorest of Americans are better off than 95% of the world's population? Pray tell, by what omniscient metric do you know what is a fair share? One thing is for certain, whatever you consider to be the middle class, it is not bearing the brunt of taxation.

Is it unethical that I take advantage of a "loophole" to take interest deductions on my mortgage; that I take advantage of tax law to pay only 15% capital gains tax on long term investments; or that I take advantage of tax loopholes to pay no taxes on capital gains on my Roth investments? Again I ask: Who do you know of that pays more federal income tax than they are legally obligated to pay? Please answer that question! Tax loopholes are not created by crooked lawyers to evade legal obligations. They are written into the tax codes by legislators who want to motivate particular types of economic behavior that are deemed to be beneficial for economic growth. Obama and the Dems had two years of absolute power. Why didn't they change the rules that you think are so unfair?

American law does not subscribe to the notion that what a person honestly earns through his creativity, industry, intelligence, and good fortune morally belongs to all people. That's called communism. And by the way, neither does the Bible. "Do not pervert justice by favoring the poor over the rich." Lev 19:15; Ex. 23:3. Where in the Bible do you find any support for your Robin Hood philosophy? If justice equals equality, then surely God, who seems to have created nothing equal, must be the cruelest, most unjust tyrant imaginable.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-15 12:51 AM

"money that morally belongs to all people"

Well, that says it all.

William Noel
2012-09-15 3:02 AM

Yes, to the Mormon Church.  Specifically to their charity work, which is far larger than anything in the Adventist church.  Not a penny of that amount went to sponsor their missionaries.

William Noel
2012-09-15 3:49 AM

What does it matter that Romney gave his inheritance to the Mormon Church?  Adventists are encouraged to give to the church and members are encouraged to leave their estates to the church in their wills.  What's the difference?  What matters is that Romney has a track record of charitable giving that is evidence of a consistent life guided by spiritual principles. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:21 AM

"Where did he come from?"

Are you suggesting you buy into birther claims?



Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:23 AM

"If he is reelected, a strong possibility of dictatorship will ensue."

Somehow I think that is an exaggeration, and wouldn't happen even if Obama did try to do that (which I doubt he would).  The guy has trouble getting anything through Congress, the Supreme Court has been on his case, and he can't even get soldiers to keep their mouths shut (e.g. Wikileaks and book about killing of Osama bin Laden two notable examples).  

I think you are going the other extreme in your thesis in suggesting Obama is much more powerful than he is, which is the opposite of your other suggestions about his weak leadership.



Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:25 AM

"...and didn't accept any salary from either."

I doubt he needed to draw a salary after hiding all that money away offshore in Switz and Cayman Is bank account, after destroying all those US businesses and firing all those American workers through his vulture capitalist company Bain Capital.

William Noel
2012-09-14 1:06 PM

Exactly what is illegal or immoral about having money in foreign bank account?  It is legal under US law and he has to pay taxes on any money he brings back into the US.  If you have money to invest maybe you should look at those same banks because your money will earn a greater rate of return than in the US.

By the way, none of the companies allegedly closed down by Bain Capital failed during the time Mitt Romney wsa there.  That steel mill where the ad claims the worker was laid off and his wife later died from cancer actually closed ten years after Romney left Bain and the cause was cheap steel imports from China.  Also, his wife had medical insurance from her employer. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 9:47 PM

I didn't say illegal - I said immoral.  Corban was technically 'legal' under the letter of the Law, if you use Jesus example in the Sermon on the Mount.  

William Noel
2012-09-15 3:47 AM

Immoral?  Certain politicians like to abuse the term to condemn opponents because they know no one is going to ask for their evidence. 

I think you need to study your Bible a bit more and see how God feels about wealth.  It is not the possession or gaining of wealth that God condemns, but being so focused on gaining wealth that it becomes your god.  There are few more stellar examples of consistent charity in modern politics than Mitt Romney.  His career has created new businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of workers.  He has a consistent track record of giving to charity, both in-person and through monetary donations.  Compare that to the less than 1% of income that Obama has given to charity over the past decade.  Obama talks about charity while Romney lives it.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-14 10:36 AM

"You shall know them by their fruits."

Sure can, given Obama arguably:
  • Saved the US from a possible new Great Depression, which he inherited from George Bush (things aren't great, and the US economy is still sick, but it is hardly in intensive care as it was when Obama inherited it - people have such short memories).
  • Comprehensive health care reform, which Presidents going back to Richard Nixon had repeatedly failed to acheive.
  • Decisive C-in-C action in killing Osama bin Laden (SF deserve most the credit, but Obama took a major Johnston-style risk which would have killed his career if it failed).
  • Clever foreign policy realpolitick in Libya (that people mocked at the time and said would be a new quagmire like Iraq, but wasn't).
  • Decisive policy action on immigration reform in declaring the Dream Amnesty (when faced with an unworkable Congress on the issue, he used his executive power to achieve a tangible goal of liberty for many young hispanic Americans worthy of succession to Lincoln's executive action through the Emancipation Proclomation).
Need I go on?  Any one of these is a major achievement worthy of defining his Presidency.  The other major criticism I have of Obama is that he is a victim of his own rhetoric, in unrealistically raising expectations.  He has achieved almost what I think was realistically achievable - he just hasn't lived up to hype he nor any other person could have achieved. 

William Noel
2012-09-14 1:02 PM

Stephen,

The points you list in Obama's defense are based illusions. 

"Saved the US from a possible new Great Depression."  Far from it.  The reality is that his policies are preventing significant economic recovery and have set in place the same higher tas rates that drove the world into a depression in the 1930s.  They are about to drive America of a "fiscal cliff."

"Comprehensive health care reform" is turning into the biggest and most expensive mess in history.

"Decisive C-in-C action killing Osama bin Laden."  It has been documented that he was urged by military leaders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on three occasions, but decided against it because confidant Valerie Jarret (Obama's closest and most trusted advisor on all issues) thought it was politically too risky.  Then he "spiked the ball" by claiming the credit for himself, not once but often.  For example, when he met with SF soldiers at Ft. Campbell who actually conducted the raid and their support personnel, many of them came out of the meeting amazed by his egotism and self-congratulation for the work of others who actually put their lives on the line. 

"Clever foreign policy realpolitick in Libya."  Keep watching.  His "wisdom" is unraveling daily.

"Decisive policy action on immigration reform by declaring Dream Amnesty."  This was in direct and clear violation of the Constitution and established law.  By doing this he has placed himself at-risk or legal challenges that, if he is re-elected, could result in him being impeached and criminally convicted. 

Do I need to go on?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 2:42 AM

'"Decisive policy action on immigration reform by declaring Dream Amnesty."  This was in direct and clear violation of the Constitution and established law.'

Perhaps like that other questionable executive action called the Emancipation Proclomation.   

William Noel
2012-09-17 1:55 AM

History check.  The Emancipation Proclamation was in complete harmony with existing law.  The slave states had seceded from the union and declared they were not under the laws of the United States any more.  So the Emancipation Proclamation was more symbolic than legal because it simply restated what was the law in the states that remained in the Union. 

William Noel
2012-09-17 9:09 AM

In defense of historic accuracy, let me add that Lincoln took one major action that was unconstitutional: he suspended habeus corpus for the duration of the war. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-14 2:25 PM

Stephen F., we will never agree on the quality of Obama's policies as president. And this is probably not the forum to debate your conclusions, each of which could not only be easily refuted, but are based on highly debatable assumptions and premises. Stephen Foster's concern in this blog is ostensibly one of religious liberty and respect for the Constitution. And at least three of your examples - health care reform, Libya, and immigration policy - are excellent illustrations of a President who has no regard for the Constitution, the will of the American people, or the other branches of government, except as they conform to his vision and will, or can be used as pawns to create a dictatorship of the proletariat, whose minds and hearts are controlled by a class of intellectual elites. 

Shouldn't freedom loving Adventists be concerned about a narcissistic, charismatic, celebrity President, who is more concerned with his image among Third World kleptocrats and Hollywood celebrities than First World statesmen, and who is infatuated with grabbing power, vilifying dissent, and using executive authority to impose an ideological agenda on America? Government by executive orders and czars is surely not the kind of government that should give confidence to liberty loving people of any faith. Whether or not you agree with Obama's politics or his worldview, you should be horrified and dismayed by the kingly precedent he is setting for future presidents whose politics and worldview you may not share.

Our founders wrote a Constituion that augured gridlock. Citizens of countries that do not have written constitutions perhaps do not appreciate the value of a written constitution such as America's. Many Americans, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, apparently agree. But the way to remedy that is not to disregard the rule of law, as Obama has done repeatedly, but to change the law and the Constitution through transparent, legally established mechanisms. And Foster is worried about Romney, the Republicans, and a Supreme Court that might interpret the Constitution to mean what it says???  

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 2:47 AM

Nathan, I do agree that this has probably got off check and AToday probably shouldn't be a forum for partisan politics - although I was replying to statements made by Early, and you were in turn responding to me.  

As to the benefit of written constitutions, a strong case could be made that Britain's system of Government, which doesn't have a written constitution (see also NZ and Israel), is far better than the gridlock of the US system.  Having a written constitution encourages a litigous approach to constitutional issues, where people focus on rights, rather than responsibilities, and push the boundaries.  In the UK and NZ, politicians are very careful of breaking constitutional 'conventions' (i.e. traditions) precisely because it isn't defined.  

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 8:41 PM

Interesting perspective, Stephen. But I question whether our indisputably litigious society is due to our written Constitution.

Other societies have far less mobile economic and social structures than America. They also have more homogenous racial and ethnic populations. That perhaps leads to more stability, if in fact what you say is true. But I'm not sure that England is a good example of how wonderfully non-written constitutions work. It is the malleability of the American Constitution in the hands of The Supreme Court, and the proliferation of regulations spawned by legislatures that have delegated responsibility to unelected regulators that has led to a ridiculous amount of litigation. Uncertainty, and the possibility of persuading courts that words don't or shouldn't mean what they say,  is what gives rise to litigation. 

Additionally, as the private sphere becomes smaller and smaller, and the government takes over private economic activity, the government is not likely to let the parasites of the legal system feast on the body politic.

William Noel
2012-09-17 1:56 AM

I would contend that the volume of litigation we have is the direct result of the number of laws we have. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 11:34 AM

I agree with you William. As long as a society thinks more laws and regulations are the answers to their problems ("let's legislate our way to utopia") there will be more lawsuits and lawyers. I have long advocated a Constitutional amendment mandating that for every law or regulation that is passed by congress, two have to be repealed; for every new agency or program that is established, two have to be eliminated. As St. Paul observed in Romans, the more we live by law, the more we sin. The need for more laws and regulations is both an indicator of the evil in society and an occasion for its proliferation.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 2:50 AM

"But the way to remedy that is not to disregard the rule of law, as Obama has done repeatedly, but to change the law and the Constitution through transparent, legally established mechanisms." 

I agree, I am quite worried by Obama's use of executive action.  But to be fair, Bush was almost the king of it, and it goes way back.  The problem is that because the US Congress has become ineffective because of parliamentary procedures such as filibusting, the POTUS has become the imperial presidency.  This isn't a partisan thing - this is the nature of the system, and a flaw of your constitution as drafted by your US Founders.

This constitutional flaw will give rise to the Lamb-like Beast of Revelation - again, regardless of which party is in control.

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-14 5:32 PM

Wow, earl, you sound like a combination of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rugh Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and a conspiracy theorist to be named later.  Many of your claims are as goofy as those coming from the George Soros' and Michael Moore's of the world.  A dictatorship with Obama at the head?  They made similar claims about Clinton and Bush.  They might suspend elections and declare martial law, to name a couple wacko claims.

Preston Foster
2012-09-14 12:32 AM

"Any time you see secular leadership taking on spiritual fights, there's money in it, somewhere." T.D. Jakes

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-14 10:09 AM

You'll have to unpack that one, Preston. There seems to be less there than meets the eye. While I strongly believe that it violates separation of church and state for U.S. political leaders to be making official statements about a privately produced, legally posted anti-Muslim video, apparently by a Coptic Christian, I fail to see how money was the motivator for such nonsensical, ineffectual appeasement.

Preston Foster
2012-09-14 3:28 PM

Nathan,

This is rather obvious, if you will, for a moment, use both eyes and not impute partisianship to the quote.  

The over-arching political philosophy of politicians rests on two pillars: money and votes.  One begets the other.

I believe what Mr. Jakes was saying is that politicians follow the money -- even if the trail goes through the church.

There seems to be ample evidence of this.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-14 4:37 PM

Indeed, that is obvious...making the quote - well...not very quoteworthy. So there was less there than meets the eye. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-14 11:20 AM

Stephen, you once again invoke your SDA bona fides as the provenance of your political perspectives, suggesting that SDAs who believe in traditional Adventist eschatology will, of necessity, think the way you do about politics. But I keep getting confused by your position.

On the one hand, because of your sectarian eschatology, you subscribe to a very radical separatism which dictates an antiseptically secular civic sphere, preferably run by non-religious people who are not anti-religious (lol). Your religious radicalism leads you to a very strong non-establishment jurisprudence. But curiously, again ostensibly for religious reasons, you subscribe to a very weak "free exercise" jurisprudence, believing that the Constitution, when it prohibits governmental infringement of religious exercise, is only talking about the exercise of religion in a very narrowly circumscribed private realm. Your religious views very much inform your political views. Ironically, you have grafted a phrase from a 1947 Supreme Court opinion onto the tree of historical Adventist exchatology, and then pronounced the fruit to be the original meaning of the First Amendment as well as a perfect expression of historic Adventist doctrine, long before the Wall of Separation was even invented as a Constitutional mandate.

Why is it okay for your highly processed religious views to inform the political debate. But the views of folks who believe in a strong "free exercise" clause, based not on a need to conform obscure sectarian beliefs with Leftist political biases, but on actual Constitutional logic, should play no part in the public debate?

You say above that some Adventists, who don't believe in traditional Adventist eschatology, encourage use of religious rhetoric by politicians, and believe that some politicians speak for, or represent, God. I am not one of them. I am quite uncomfortable with the populist use of religious rhetoric by politicians qua politicians, though I am not a one-issue voter. However, character does matter in a politician. And I tend to trust the character of a God-fearing candidate, whose values are informed by Judeo-Christian values, far more than a candidate who does not meet that criteria. And it is easy to say that, by any objective criteria, in his personal life, Romney has demonstrated far greater piety and integrity when it comes to his Christian values, especially when it has not been politically expedient to do so, than has Obama in his personal life. 

Surely you believe that the policies of Democrats and President Obama will advance the cause of the Kingdom better than the policies of Romney and the Republicans? If you think and speak as if one party or candidate is on the side of good, and the other is on the side of evil, does it really matter whether you actually invoke the name of a diety?

earl calahan
2012-09-14 2:16 PM

Sir, the only thing i'm shocked by is your kneejerk bombastic response. Your extreme liberal beliefs
have blinded you to history past. When the general populace is encouraged to permit the State to take
care of all their needs from womb to tomb, it breeds indolence & multi-generational acceptance, &
then demands for the dole. i believe we are encouraged to work, that if we don't work, we don't eat.
Absolute control of the masses is caused by apathy & complaisance. All Christians are encouraged to
help those in need, but not enablers of those who will not work & are content to take the dole, and
with time on their hands with no responsibilities, rob & terrorize their neighborhoods.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 2:51 AM

"Your extreme liberal beliefs..."

Are you talking about Stephen Foster? I can assure you on many issues he is quite the conservative.  

William Noel
2012-09-15 3:35 AM

Forgive me while I recover from fainting at the concept!

Truth Seeker
2012-09-14 7:20 PM

"...Obama represents the party of immorality, while Romney represents the party that, if given free reign, would unite church and state.  Give me a better choice."

Well said, Jean.  I have to wonder why the "authorities" let this political article  sully the cyber-sphere. It usually leads nowhere in this environment.  And then we have some Catholic leaders, who siphon off about $700,000,000 from us taxpayers, yelling bloody murder because their organizations (not churches) have to follow the rules of Obamacare.

Have a deeply worshipful Sabbath all of you who profess Adventism.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-14 10:49 PM

First of all, I quite readily plead guilty to the charge of “[my] religious views very much [informing my] political views.” Better that, then having my political beliefs prohibiting/limiting subscription to my church’s distinctive teachings. Would you actually consider it preferable that my political beliefs inform my religious beliefs?
 
I have been racking my feeble brain to decipher what you mean by “[I] subscribe to a very weak ‘free exercise’ jurisprudence, believing that the Constitution, when it prohibits governmental infringement of religious exercise, is only talking about the exercise of religion in a very narrowly circumscribed private realm.”
 
Why is my position regarding the “free exercise” clause considered “weak” in your view? What have I said that causes you to describe my legal philosophy this way?
 
Is it not possible, even reasonable, to have a “strong” (or absolutist) establishment clause and a strong “free exercise” view?
 
Ideally, from my perspective, the government should have nothing to do with religion; and religion should have nothing to do with government. Religion would be better off this way. (Adventism would be better off this way!)
 
Philosophically, that which is Caesar’s is Caesar’s, and that which is God’s is His.
 
Admittedly my “sectarian beliefs” or “highly processed religious views” inform this constitutional/legal philosophy; but at least my sectarian beliefs are in synch, or in congruence (agreement), with my civic, constitutional, and legal philosophies and understanding.
 
Your comments about judging the character of Romney and Obama by whose “personal life” reflects—thus whose values are informed by—Judeo-Christian values are frankly quite ridiculous and unworthy of further comment in this forum.
 
I do not believe that the policies of the Democrats and President Obama or those of the Republicans and Mitt Romney “will advance the cause of the Kingdom” at all, Nathan; that is the point.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-14 11:03 PM

Oops…”Better that, than having my political beliefs…

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 1:20 AM

Why do you claim a monopoly on your church's teaching, Stephen? Who made you the arbiter and definer of Adventist doctrine? Your arrogance is really quite astonishing. The fact that I don't subscribe to the historic teaching of the church doesn't mean that I am not well aware of what it was. I grew up in the days when there was prayer in public schools, and religious symbolism in the public square was not deemed a threat to religious freedom. Most Adventists were staunch Republicans. And I am quite confident that a great number of traditional Adventists will be voting for Republican candidates this fall. So don't tell me that your view of church/state separation represents some kind of official historical Adventism. And guess what, Stephen? Your political beliefs do inform your religious beliefs, whether you admit it or not. 

There's not really space here to unpack First Amendment jurisprudence. Suffice it to say that those who have a "weak" view of the free exercise clause seek to limit free exercise to the private sphere, and radically exclude it from the public sphere. This is the agenda of the ACLU. This is the position taken by the Obama administration in restricting the free exercise of religion to Catholics who venture into the larger community to engage in disinterested benevolence in the name of Christ. You would turn this into an establishment issue by pointing out that Catholic instiutions receive government funding. But what about Catholic employers like Hercules Industries, who receive no government funding? Taken to its extreme, your Wall of Separation could completely eviscerate the free expression clause as the realm of Caesar is incrementally expanded, and the realm of "free expression" is confined to churches, temples, and synagogues. Weak free exercise jurisprudence denies landlords the ability to refuse to rent apartments to gay couples, despite religious beliefs. Weak free exercise jurisprudence refuses to allow religious physicians who perform in vitro fertilization the right, on conscience grounds, to refuse such services to gay couples of such services.

Of course it is possible to believe in both a strong non-establishment clause and a strong free exercise clause. It's just that you don't. If you understood what those terms mean in Constitutional jurisprudence, you would readily see which camp you fall into and why.

"That which is Caesar's is Caesar's, and what is God's is His."??? That, my friend, is a tautological statement, not a philosophical statement.

So why, given your last paragraph, should Adventists qua Adventists be concerned about which candidate or party wins? If you don't think it is a matter of Kingdom concern, what's the point? I happen to agree with you, by the way, on that last point. 

William Noel
2012-09-15 3:09 AM

So you don't believe either Romney or Obama will advance the kingdom of God.  That argument is irrelevant.  What is relevant is the track record of the candidate and the probability of them taking actions infringing on religious freedom, disregarding the Constitution and knowingly violating established laws.  On this Obama has a track record giving us a good indication of just how dangerous he is.  What kind of twisted logic leads you to defend a man who is so obviously under the control of Satan? 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 5:48 AM

"What kind of twisted logic leads you to defend a man who is so obviously under the control of Satan?"

Don't make us all laugh.   

William Noel
2012-09-15 10:23 AM

No, I'm dead serious. 

To Obama and his supporters "truth" is not an objective reality, but a collection of information and claims that serve an immediate wish for political advantage.  He made man claims about what the health care reform law would and would not do.  For example, "If you like your doctor, you can keep them  You won't have to change."   To-date every claim single claim he made has been proven to be a lie. 

He disrespects established laws.  A recent example was his "Dream Act" declaration, which directs federal agents and agencies to act in direct violation of numerous laws.  During the GM bailout, he directed that corporate bond holders be reduced to minority status in the financial settlement instead of being the first and primary parties to be paid, as directed in the law.  This action evaporated over $140 billion in investor money, some of which probably came from your retirement fund's investment portfolio.  In other words, he directed theft from your pocket.  Worse still, non-union employees at the Delphi automotive parts plants lost their pensions because only the pensions of union members were protected. 

Whenever Obama speaks in an auditorium where there are religious symbols, they must be covered.  His administration attacks anything having to do with faith in God or ministries based on religious faith. 

His concept of "charity" is simply to tax away the prosperity of producers and reduce everyone to the same level of poverty.  Currently they are pushing a proposal to eliminate all tax deductions for charitable contributions, or at least gifts to churches. 

In contrast with this and much more, scripture admonishes us to be truthful in all things, to respect the property of others, respect law, to exercise charity on a personal basis, etc.  The teachings of scripture stand in complete and stark contrast to the policies of the Obama Administration.  So, how is it that you reconcile claiming to be a Christian and a believer in God when you so openly advocate for and defend someone who is battling against the principles God wants us to be practicing?   

earl calahan
2012-09-17 5:25 PM

W. Noel. Sir, you are 100% factual. You've called it as it is. Sadly, we are to be the beneficiary
of 4 more years of his diabolic governance

Stephen Foster
2012-09-15 4:22 AM

You can’t have it both ways Nathan.
 
I am not the arbiter and definer of Adventist doctrine; that much is certain. Then again, you have admitted “that [you] don’t subscribe to the historic teaching of the church,” while you may recall I have reminded everyone here that I do.
 
I never meant to imply that you didn’t know what the historic teachings of the church are. I have never thought that you were unaware of them Nathan. But being aware of them and subscribing to them are two entirely different things.
 
Of course, I disagree with you that my views of church/state separation are not representative of historical Adventism, because they are. Since you are aware of historical Adventism and its teachings, you know that it includes an understanding that “When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.
 
“The beast with two horns ‘causeth [commands] all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.’ Revelation 13:16, 17. The third angel's warning is: ‘If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.’ ‘The beast’ mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13--the papacy. The ‘image to the beast’ represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas.”
GC 445.
 
I grew up in the same era that you did. Prior to 1960 the party that many/most Adventists voted for had little to nothing to do with what Adventism taught from an historical doctrinal perspective. In other words, northern Adventists in America weren’t taught (doctrinally) to vote for Republicans, and southern Adventists in America weren’t taught to vote for Democrats; although I’d bet, in both instances, many did so. For whom many, or most, Adventists vote has not generally been an historic doctrinal issue.
 
However it is a fact of recent American history that since about 1980 there has been a concerted effort by prominent religious leaders to gain civil and religious power and influence for themselves and their religious institutions; such that voting now takes on prophetic implications from my perspective. The constitutional principle of separate spheres for church and state has clearly been under siege.
 
“When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of ‘heresy.’ In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.
 
“Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience.”
GC 443
 
Accordingly Nathan, I vote so as to hopefully prevent the church from obtaining secular power, period.
 
I’m afraid that you have failed to tell me what I have said, or suggested, that causes you to declare that I have a “weak” free exercise position.
 
You claim to agree with me that neither side “will advance the cause of the Kingdom,” as you put it; so it is your position that is confusing.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 10:22 AM

Perhaps I have misunderstood you, Stephen. I have inferred, from other blogs you have written, that you were pretty much opposed to the government permitting religious symbolism and expression in the civic arena, at least if it goes beyond cultural and historic symbolism devoid of meaningful religious content. If so, that would put you on the "weak" free exercise side of First Amendment jurisprudence.

I love the way you choose to spin what I say. I did not say your view is not representative of historical Adventism, and you know it. I said your view is not representative of "some kind of official historical Adventism." Apparently you agree with what I actually said. Your view is representative of one group of Adventists - theologically conservative, but politically liberal.

Up until at least 1960, Adventists were overwhelmingly conservative in their politics because they distrusted centralized political power. Adventists my family knew saw FDR's federal power grabs as a grave threat to religious liberty. Dems were very pro-union, which used to be a big concern for the Adventist Church. So I think their eschatology had much to do with Adventists voting Republican in my childhood days. I know that was true of my mother, who very much shared your eschatology, and was very much convinced, prior to her death, that President Obama represented the greatest threat to religious freedom of any president in her lifetime, including FDR, for whom she had no use.

Why can't you see the fight of the religious right as simply a fight to maintain the government neutrality towards religion and religiously rooted values that were embedded in civic life prior to 1960? The religious right as a political movement has always been reactionary, not revolutionary. You acknowledge that there was no attempt by the religious right to exercise political power prior to the late 20th Century. Why not? What changed? If politically conservative Christians are such a threat to religious liberty, why weren't they more actively pushing for political power to advance a religious agenda before the Left mounted an all out assault on religion and traditional values?

What you see as an attempt to impose a theocracy on America should more realistically be viewed as an attempt to simply resist the attacks by progressive elites on traditional sources of values and authority that has been under way for over a hundred years. Until 1960, those efforts had been largely ineffectual in rooting religion out of the hearts and minds of the American people. But with legal transformation of American institutions through courts and public schools, the Left started winning its battle against God. The religious right is simply trying to retrieve and protect the status quo ante, and obtain a level playing field vis a vis the gods of the Left.

earl calahan
2012-09-17 6:45 PM

Stephen & Nathan: Sirs. Are we presently being dominated by a world church power? It  appears we are in the grips of "The Beast". The would be world power currently attempting to gain control of the masses (the ultimate Earthly power) is that which for the past 300 years has sought to gain control by money. Every big war in this period for both sides of the wars, was paid for by this big money Colossus. They created the world's Central Banks. They paid for Lenin's return to Russia. They paid for Hitler. Their motto is "You gain management of your turf, but we have monopoly of money supply". The World banking Elite gains through diabolical devastation, destruction, annihilation. They are ungodly. They have yet to realize their goal, to gain the victory. Although they have paid for politicians & powers of all stripes; industrialists, environmentalists, militarists, ect, they haven't secured total control. They do
not control the Middle East, Islam, or China. Their current plan is fomenting war between the Anglo-American Axis (U.S. Military & Nato & the UN) & the Middle East. England was the big bully of the world 1750-1914. The USA has assumed that role since. You do see the Middle East burning, don't you? It will get much hotter with millions annihilated. The Elite wants total control of all commodities. Starvation is their weapon. They can control easier with fewer bodies consuming the energy of the Earth. They won't require more than maybe 25% of  present populace to serve their needs.
There are perhaps two items currently hindering their plans. A) The internet revolution, bringing new thousands, daily, outside the loop, the knowledge of their demonic plan. B) God is not willing.
Are we maybe further along toward the End Times than we think? Are the angels of East, West, North,
South, near to releasing the Winds of Wrath?
 

Reasonable
2012-09-15 1:31 PM

By the sound of the boos, obviously many in the convention hall the day it was announced that "God" had been added to the platform language, were in agreement that there should be a healthy separation of church and state. Certainly the Founding Fathers understood this, as they knew even amongst them there were those who at best were agnostic. As such, and they reasoned correctly, there may be some who came to be President of the United States that didn't hold to any religious beliefs. Would that fact take away from their fitness for office, or their greatness as president? History tells us it did not.
 
Until our very recent past, a presidential candidate having to validate how Christian he was, and/or how much he believed in God, wasn't a part of the political conversation. Now many, it would seem, would prefer...us to be a theocracy... at least in this limited way of using the name of God freely in our documents and/or having our political leaders to constantly remind them they are Christians...and not Muslim, as many of these same so called religious people are so fond of saying about President Obama. I guess that story of the Good Samiritan in the Bible takes on an entirely different meaning for them when they are spewing forth such hatred for him; gays; minorities; women's rights; the poor needing governmental assistance in order to even live a meager existence, etc. [i.e.  Jesus is described as telling this parable in response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbor" which Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved.].
 
 Sincerely, I wonder if many of those who make the most noise about such things even know about the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...."; and/or Article VI which specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States". This of course is now what we refer to as the separation of church and state. That phraseology [separation of church and state] has generally traced to a January 1, 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson {himself out of step from the orthodox Christianity of his day, being closely connected with unitarianism and the religious philosophy of Deism} addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, in which he echoed  the language of the founder of the first Baptist church in America, Roger Williams who had written in 1644 of "A hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world." Jefferson wrote, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-15 1:55 PM

This is such an apparent reversal of the Adventist position which has long taught that the encroachment of the church and state would usher in the "time of trouble."  Now, most Adventist seem to be forming a line behind the Christian Right in urging more religion in politics.  The fight against equality for both gays and women; the proposals to reinstitute prayer in the public schools; the state laws (some now reversed) in efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade which is the most egregious invasion of individual and conscience rights' and the push to declare the zygote a "person."

If they win, Adventists may wake up the next morning following the election and begin to realize what they have wished for is not what they will get.

 


Jean Corbeau
2012-09-15 3:47 PM

One can only hope Roe v. Wade will be overturned.  Speaking of rights, an unborn baby (shame on you, Elaine for calling it a "zygote," a "biogically correct" term used by feminists to justify what amounts to infanticide) has at least as many rights as homosexuals.  Invasion of individual rights?  How about the invasion of the baby's rights, to the point of killing it?  A baby is not a part of the mother's body.  She is obligated to protect that child until it is born.

As for the rest of your points, don't count me as one who lines up with the Christian Right.  We don't need prayer in schools; we need it in the lives of individuals in their homes.  And I'm not sure how the CR is fighting against equality for women, except as they push back against radical feminism..

Joe Erwin
2012-09-15 5:34 PM

Terms like "conceptus," "blastula," "zygote," and "embryo" are not "biologically correct" [qua "politically correct], they are, in fact, accurate terms. A conceptus is not a baby until it really IS a baby. The claim that a conceptus is a "living thing" is accurate, of course, but the same claim can be made for the living cells that precede conception. Even so, we do know now what causes pregnancy and how to prevent pregnancy and implantation. Beyond that, a decision to maintain a pregnancy or terminate it is a very personal decision, and some circumstances require individual freedom to decide what to do. For those situations, abortion should be safe and available, but rare. An early abortion is not accurately called "infanticide" or "murder." These are loaded terms aimed at advancing an an agenda to restrict individual freedom and responsibility, that essentially lies about the status of the unborn and promotes much unnecessary misery and heartache. It is all about perpetuating guilt and shame. 

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-15 5:51 PM

They may be accurate terms, but they sound less human and make it easier for someone to justify killing it.  The difference between "the living cells that precede conception" and a fertilized egg is that those preconception cells cannot become a baby.  A fertilized egg will become a baby if it is left alone.  Who has the right to kill it?  We've reached a low point in this country when it is legal to kill an unborn baby, but illegal to destroy the eggs of certain species of birds.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 11:08 PM

But which also kills the children of other countries as collateral damage in wars that don't comply with Augustine's notion of a 'just war'.  Or a country that has some of the lowest rates of welfare assistance to look after young single women who choose to keep a baby.

Why are people so concerned with single-celled embryos yet care nothing for live children? 

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-16 6:10 AM

Two or more wrongs do not make a right.  The fact that we are deficient in other areas is no excuse to continue the slaughter of innocent babies in this country.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 11:06 PM

It ain't going to be gays that introduce Sunday laws will it?

Joe Erwin
2012-09-15 3:30 PM

I, for one, find the hatefulness and disrespect of our duly elected US President, expressed by some here, both astonishing and unacceptable. Those to whom this applies should be ashamed of yourselves. You are just aping the drivel expressed by hateful partisan people who have made every effort to ensure that the President could not enact constructive legislation to address the problems of this country. I recognize that many of the hatemongers are so deeply committed to anti-black racism and opposition to progressive politics, that they are incapable of being objective. They simply wanted to ensure that the President FAILED, at whatever cost to the citizens of this country. Some of the opinions expressed seem based on an assumption that none of us can remember the previous administration, under which a decent economy was inherited and was ruined.

William Noel
2012-09-15 5:42 PM

Joe,

There's an old saying attributed to the early days of the Democratic Party that "Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but voters who realize they've been duped come an awfully close second."  That pretty much describes the situation.  Americans have realized they were duped by all the hype and promises and idealism four years ago.  It no longer matters if he has done anything good or right because his reality is so distastefully different from the promise that waving goodbye on January 20 can't happen soon enough. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 8:03 PM

Your charges of racism, Joe, are beneath contempt. Name calling seems to be one of your favorite debate tactics. What is called hatemongering is present on both ends of the political spectrum. And it is seldom racist. Rather it is a reflection of deep-seated hostility between two very different stories about America, and two very different visions of her future.

Our President has said that he believes our Constitution is deeply flawed; that he is not going to enforce duly passed laws; and that he will not wait for Congress to act. The President's closest associates, spiritual advisors, and political influences have, by his own admission, been radicals and Marxists. His statements about redistributing wealth, his contempt for democratic sentiments that do not follow his lead, and his class warfare rhetoric make him the most radical president in American history. He wants to fundamentally transform America. Is it racist for most Americans to wish for him to fail in these objectives? Is it racist to look at his past, the significant influences on his life, his statements, and to reach negative political conclusions?

Methinks you have forgotten the venomous hatred and contempt directed at President Bush by those who share your love of "objective" analysis.

We conservatives were vigorously opposed to John Kerry and Al Gore, who were not as far left as Obama. The fact that you need to explain conservative hostility to Obama's policies and aspirations in racial terms, suggests that you really don't want to deal with the substantive arguments against the radical ideology reflected in his policies.   

Bea
2012-09-15 8:16 PM

Nathan - you need to read your own words before criticizing Joe or Elaine or anyone who do not think or sound like you.  November will show us who has done a better job  on the political scene and it looks like the President has a small lead after the latest Romney gaffe and Democratic Convention that fired many of us up again.

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-15 6:27 PM

If the voters have been duped, the polls don't reflect it and when even the committed supporters of the Republican nominee are backing off in embarrassment at the recent gaffes.  It's going to be an uphill job to overcome this current opinion and the past is rather doubtful that it will be possible.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-15 7:35 PM

Tell me, Elaine, how could the polls possibly reflect that voters have been duped? You live in an alternate universe from 50% of Americans. People in that universe remain oblivious to conservative perspectives, and the evidence that supports those perspectives, as articulated in sources such journals such as National Review, Weekly Standard, Commentary, and Claremont Review, and talk radio hosts like Michael Medved and Dennis Prager. People who live in your universe think they have responded to an argument intelligently when they call people racist, stupid, or uninformed.

The Democrat constituencies are primarily informed by entertainment media and headline news from wire services. Most of my highly educated liberal friends are woefully uninformed, but highly opinionated. They thought Farenheit 911, An Inconvenient Truth, and Sicko were substantially accurate in their factual assertions and analyses.

Unfotunately for you Elaine, most conservatives believe that what you liberals consider gaffes by Romney are actually common sense truth. Unlike the Left, we on the right disagree with one another, and the fact that a "conservative" pundit criticizes Romney doesn't exactly send us running for the smelling salts.

A gaffe is when the President, while reading his monitor, encounters the word corpsman, and three times pronounces it "corpseman." Everyone in America knew that Dan Quayle misspelled "potato." How many Americans do you think were told by the media that their President doesn't know how to pronounce corpsman? How many Americans are aware of the plethora of gaffes committed by Obama and Biden? The only way the polls could possibly reflect that the voters have been duped is by finding out their awareness of facts that reflect badly on the President, which the media refuses to report or analyze to death.

William Noel
2012-09-15 8:11 PM

Elaine,

A growing number of Americans are realizing the many lies Obama told during his campaign.  Particularly galling is how many actions he has taken that are contrary to Christian principles.  It has gotten so bad that the National Association of Black Clergy has asked the ministers in their association to encourage their members to not vote for Obama again because of his many attacks on the free practice of faith.  Their break with him came after his promotion of same-sex marriage while not defending traditional marriage.

Another of Obama's broken promises was reported in the news just today: that as soon as he took office the Muslim world would quit hating America.  Apparently not everyone got the message and he needs another four years to make it happen.  We can add that to his long list of promises that includes things like creating a society where race is no longer a divisive issue, to cut the deficit in half, to restore confidence in government, never let unemployment get above 8%, solve the financial crisis and to stop the oceans from rising. 

Truth Seeker
2012-09-15 7:11 PM

Joe Erwin- "Beyond that, a decision to maintain a pregnancy or terminate it is a very personal decision, and some circumstances require individual freedom to decide what to do. For those situations, abortion should be safe and available, but rare. An early abortion is not accurately called "infanticide" or "murder." These are loaded terms aimed at advancing an an agenda to restrict individual freedom and responsibility, that essentially lies about the status of the unborn and promotes much unnecessary misery and heartache."

One time that I can agree with you, Joe. For example, to deny a victim of rape the freedom to abort is certainly not the responsibility of anyone except that of the mother and her God.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-15 10:06 PM

I have been paying attention to presidential campaigns and the promises made since the Dewey vs. Truman election in 1948. I have few illusions that when candidates "promise" to do something, that they mean that it is certain to occur. Surely we all know that when they state their intentions, they are stating what they intend to try to do--what they plan to try to do. In the case of this president, many paranoid and bizarre motivations have been attributed to him. The socialist/Marxist/islamic agenda resides in the minds of crazy people and those duped by them. BTW, that is not "name calling." Anyone who thinks it is, reveals himself or herself to be paranoid. Enough people are easily misled to make this a tight race. 

I am not making up the part about racist motivations. I talk with people from across the political spectrum, and I have talked with many who frankly admit that they are angry about Obama's election because of race. A direct quote: "He's the wrong color." And then, on and on with hatefulness about religion, healthcare, income redistribution and the rest of the tripe some here have mentioned. The wealthiest guy I know is mostly concerned about the income redistribution. Most of my neighbors are believing the NRA balloney about Obama wanting to take away their guns. "I just HATE that Obama," said one acquaintance, just after inviting me to worship with him at his pentacostal holiness church. The church I sometimes call "The Church of Holiness and Hate." Now that IS name calling. Guilty as charged on that one. What an attractive church he has, when he is flagrantly hateful without even acknowledging or knowing why.

But surely we all are too quick to stereotype and overgeneralize. Not all conservatives are just alike any more than all liberals or progressives are. None of us should label and stereotype if we intend to be accurate. Personally, I prefer constructive moderation to any extreme or polarity. "Moderation in all things" is not such bad advice. 


Nathan Schilt
2012-09-16 12:21 AM

Sounds like you talk to some pretty bigoted, narrow-minded people, Joe - or you just like to make up stories. I have lots of very conservative friends. I can't imagine anyone telling me that race is a factor in their dislike of Obama. Why would they need to drag in race?  When someone is trying to take away as much of my money as he can and give it to folks who vote for him; when he wants to regulate every economic transaction of my life, and interfere in the relationship between me and my doctor, it is risible to think I am really worried about his race or ethnicity - that I'd feel better if it was Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer or Henry Waxman doing these things.  

There is so much to dislike about Obama without even knowing his race? We conservatives had no use for John Kerry and Al Gore. And Obama is far worse. It's all ideology and policy, my friend. It has nothing to do with race. You are writing off close to 50% of the American public as crazy. But that's okay, 'cause we're pretty sure that liberals like you and Elaine have lost touch with history, reason, common sense, and reality as well.

It is comically commonplace for those on the Left to make up stories that later turn out to be lies...like Obama's mother dying because she didn't have health insurance; like his composite make-believe girlfriends in Dreams of My Father; like Hillary Clinton dodging bullets on the runway, etc., etc. So you'll have to excuse my suspicion that you are making up stories to validate your Truth. 

I would love to find out from Joe or anyone else what you know about Obama's background or intellectual influences that makes the notion that he is a Marxist bizarre or preposterous. Who is it - Bill Ayers, Bernadette Dorn, Father Phleger, Frank Marshall Davis, Jeremiah Wright, Derrick Bell, Jim Wallis? Who, in the cast of characters that Obama claims as friends, and significant spiritual and intellectual influences on his life, is not a radical leftist? Is it his spread-the-wealth mantra...perhaps his attacks on wealth producers and class warfare makes it silly to think he is a Marxist? Please help me here!

By the way, I have a riddle for you folks on the Left: If Democrats tell lies and commit gaffes, but it's not reported by the MSM, did the lies and gaffes really happen?

One more: If Obama is re-elected, from whom will he inherit the mess he has to fix?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-15 11:16 PM

These whole discussions about Obama are probably pointless.  Something like 85% of likely voters have made up their mind, and elections are determined by something like 4% of true indepedents who have not yet made up their mind.  Somehow I doubt that 4% are listening to any of the arguments here.  

I am quite concerned though about the rise of the religious Right, especially amongst the Tea-Party, Evangelical-Fundamentalist Republican Party.  I am even more concerned that many Advenitsts, somewhat dispensing with their traditional eschatology, far from warning against it, are actually in bed with these groups.  In the era of our pioneers in many nations, Adventists actually teamed up with athiests and secularists to ensure a strict separation of Church and State.  

You might hate gays, and you might even think God hates gays, but homosexuals are hardly going to introduce Sunday laws against us are they?  It is possible to be personally conservative but recognise that the State should not intervene to stop others from living a lifestyle you do not personally believe in.    I am frankly bewildered in the direction of many Adventists on this issue!

William Noel
2012-09-16 9:24 PM

Apparently you've been forming your opinion of the Tea Party using reports from the mainstream media, which have been nothing short of viciously derogatory and utterly false.  The aims of the Tea Party are simple: fiscal responsibility, restoring respect for constitutional principles, respect for law, etc.  Those basic American principles stand in great contrast with uber-liberal policies of the Obama administration. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-16 10:46 PM

You are absolutely right, William. I am a proud Tea Party member, and I can attest to the fact that most Tea Partiers I know want no part of the social reform political agenda of the Religious Right. The media tries to smear us with that canard in order to undermine our credibility and conceal their own extremism. Our priorities are, as you say, fiscal responsibility, fidelity to the text of the Constitution, and respect for federalism. Our priorities are restorative - not transformative; reactionary, not revolutionary.

cb25
2012-09-16 1:33 AM

As an observer from afar....if I had a vote in your country it woud go double speed to Obama. I would go as far as predicting that if Mitt gets in you guys will have 4 yrs to repent of your deeds and be enduring the results of a grave Mittstake.

earl calahan
2012-09-16 2:15 AM

S. Ferguson. Sir, you obviously have a fertile brain. You have a great depth of knowledge about the early SDA church history, & traditions. You have a great input on most subject matter. But Sir, your
observations of world history, and your political knowledge, leaves a dearth of accuracy & understanding. i would welcome your facts of the statements i made that you so vigorously labeled false. In your response you made flat out declarations they must be false because they are diametrically opposite the views of the extreme liberal left. What proof do you have that Romney has secretly hidden vast personal wealth in offshore banks? Maybe he did, but you can't prove it. Can you prove he hasn't paid his fair share of taxes? Have you seen his income tax returns? Or do you just assume he is a dishonest person because he is wealthy? All wealthy folks just have to be crooks? Right? My comments re: Pres. Obama, are easily verifiable if you will study input other than MSNBC & other extreme left reporting organs. Check verifiable Fed.Govt. financial offices stats.
The Center for Federal Tax Policy (since 1937) report that for the year 2009, the top 5% of tax payers earned 31.7% of the total AGI & paid 58.7% of Federal Taxes. Deduct the % amount that
Business organizations paid, & you see the  smaller amount paid by 95% of tax payers. Of course you
know that over 40% pay nothing, but are feeding off those that pay tax. Sir, when many drink the kool aid, & close their mind to fact & reality, they are unable to reason with. Open your eyes
to the truth that all the big banks are bankrupt, as is the USA. The total debt (thru derivaties) of the 
USA is over $200 trillion (Govt; Banks; States; Citizens; ect ect) Did you know that Banks are permitted to carry listed assets on their books at the original cost, rather than at actual devalued mark to market prices. That the Treasury loans to the Banks @ less than 1% interest, and the Banks
don't lend the money out, but buy Treasury paper that pays 3%. That the Federal Reserve issues billions & trillions of Fiat dollars (nothing but worthless paper with no collateral under support).
Do you know how much one(1) trillion dollars is? There are approx 7 billion people on Earth, my
calculator doesn't have enough spaces to display the actual amount per each human creature that amounts to, and the total US Debt is now over $200 trillion, and the Fed just announced that they will add $40 billion additional debt per month, until infinity. The world currencies are all under water. The
end result will probably be an agreed capitulation in the next few years, with a new Reserve Currency
issued. Pray it won't be a single swap dollar, controlled by the world's Central Banks at a rate they
will determine. The world governments are controlled by the World Bank Trillionaires. They set up the bought & paid for Soveriegn leaders, who are puppets dangling on the attached umbilical cords. Also the sitting members of Congress & the Senate are paid for by the stated Elites. Where do you think the billions of dollars spent annually by lobbyists go? What do you know about The City of London & the District of Columbia & the Vatican financial centers? Humm. These people don't deny it, they just ridicule the very thought that anyone could imagine this is happening. They never sue for slander.This has been an ongoing  Elite theme since the 16th century, formulated by the Rothchilds, & given impetus by Cecil Rhodes & the large banking families of the world. You can pooh pooh this as a false flag conspiracy, as you have my earlier input. Just don't keep your money in the bank. The final stages of the currency debacle begins Jan 1, 2013. i saw in person Franklin D. Roosevelt being
pushed up a ramp in his wheel chair in 1936, just 4 feet away from him. i lived thru the so called Great Depression. i was a WWII veteran. i strolled thru the Dachau ,Germany concentration camp,
seeing the barrels of spectacles, hair, gold teeth, bones in gas ovens. Sir, please don't believe it can't
happen here. All totalatarian regimes have slaughtered millions. Just in the last century both Russia
& Germany annihilated approx 35 million people combined. The USA has a Defence Bill that  was
signed into law by the President on Dec 31, 2011 that authorises him to declare a National Emergency
& martial law that gives the president control over all the US Legislature & business. Earlier presidents also had this similar authority. i am not saying Obama will exercise this authority. But it
is his option. In history, down thru the ages, we have record of human disaster of unspeakable horror.
Have a contingency plan.    
 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:09 AM

"What proof do you have that Romney has secretly hidden vast personal wealth in offshore banks?"

I don't think this is debateable:

"But the few forms he disclosed combined with some leaked documents from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, have provided ammunition to the GOP candidate’s critics, showing that he has Swiss bank accounts and invested in the Cayman Islands."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/did-romney-avoid-taxes-with-swiss-bank-accounts-and-cayman-investments/2012/08/29/e4c6afc2-f18a-11e1-adc6-87dfa8eff430_blog.html

http://factcheck.org/2012/07/romney-and-the-tax-return-precedent/
 



William Noel
2012-09-16 9:26 PM

Who is saying he has "vast wealth" in offshore banks?  His financial disclosures have shown it to be less than 10% of his holdings.  That is not "vast." 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 12:16 AM

I think you will find earl used the term 'vast' not me.  Vast is a relative term.  The amount of wealth in the offshore accounts might not be 'vast' in the sense of 10% of his total equity but is vast in terms of absolute amount comparable to the average person.

William Noel
2012-09-17 2:02 AM

What difference does it make where he keeps his money?  It is legal to have money in any bank in the world, with possible exception of the Bank of Iran and a few in similar countries.  If anything, we should envy Mitt Romney for having the good financial sense to deposit his money in a bank that pays higher interest rates than any bank in the US. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 11:04 AM

Do these accounts pay higher rates of return?  I am not aware of them paying any interest whatsoever.  People don't put money in them because of the rate of return, they put money there because of the hidden security, aware from the prying eyes of governments and others.

You can try to sugarcoat it all you like.  Ordinarly law-abiding citizens do not put money in offshore bank accounts of tax havens - full stop.  You know that and I know that.  If Obama had done that you know you will be pilfering him for it.  

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:13 AM

I should just say, I am not necessarily debating whether the money in the offshore accounts was 'secret' or not - I am not sure if I said that?  But the undeniable point is Romney did put money offshore in Switz and Cayman bank accounts.  I'll leave it to others what sort of people usually put money in Switz and Cayman bank accounts, and whether such people would ordinarily run for the office of POTUS?

William Noel
2012-09-16 9:29 PM

Please explain what is illegal or immoral about having offshore bank accounts?  If you have money invested in annuity there's a good chance you have money invested offshore.  How is it wrong for one person to have money invested offshore but not you? 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 12:11 AM

I have been a government lawyer (and litigator) for about a decade.  In that time I have come across quite a number of people who have had Switz and other bank accounts in tax havens.  In every single case, it has appeared that the primary motivation to put money in offshore bank accounts in tax havens is to hide it from the scrutiny of spouses (i.e. in case of divorce) and the government tax man. 

Moreover, we aren't merely talking about offshore in the sense of an investment in another country.  We are talking about investment in known tax havens, places the US Government has actively pursued.  Again, it is hard to judge Romney either way, because he hasn't been transparent. 

William Noel
2012-09-17 2:07 AM

Have you ever considered why the US Government would be pursing money in offshore bank accounts?  The answer is simple: trying to get more tax revenue.  People put their money in those banks for a simple reason: to make it grow faster than it does here.  Yes, some people put money in those banks to hide profits from illegal transactions.  If you have been prosecuting people involved in illegal activities who are hiding their money there, I can understand why you would be suspicious.  However, you have let your exposure to a limited number of people cause you to be suspicious of everyone, which is neither correct or fair.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 11:02 AM

Have you ever considered that the US Government is pursuing money in offshore bank accounts to get more tax revenue because people are hiding them there to avoid paying more tax revenue - not because it grows faster?  People don't people money in tax havens because they have higher rates of investment returns, they put them there to hide the money from spouses and governments - simple.

Yes, I am exposed to a certain number of cases.  But I would suggest my view is based on actual reality through experience, not merely conjucture, which is your case.

As to fair, it is hard to be fair in judging Romney when he has fully come clean with his financial affairs by which one can make a fair judgment.  The judgment is that we can't make a judgment because Romney hasn't been transparent.  

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 12:31 PM

Stephen, we all choose the areas we want to be transparent about. Do you really think any amount of disclosure by Romney would satisfy his critics? Anything Romney discloses will be spun, turned against him, and used to distract attention from the pressing issues of this election. Romney is in a no-win situation with his enemies, who control the narrative daily force fed to the intellectually lazy by the truth-challenged MSM and cultural bullies of Hollywood. No matter what Romney discloses, it will be twisted, distorted and disseminated as a lie.

That's what the mainstream media does. It refuses, when possible, to reveal truths that undermine the cause of progressive Truth. When forced to do so, it contextualizes unpleasant truths so that they will do minimal camage to the Left. Being transparent only works when the public is allowed to see the candidate through a clear window. That never happens with conservative candidates, and will not happen now.

If Americans were asked to recount the most famous quote made by Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign, they would, almost without exception, remember her infamous claim that she could see Alaska from her back yard. Except that Palin never said that. Tina Fey, impersonating Palin on SNL, made that statement, and the geographically challenged media ridiculed Palin's accurate statement to Charlie Gibson, that Russia could actually be seen from an island that was part of Alaska. So a truthful statement was spun into a lie, and imprinted on zombie minds of Americans by a shamelessly partisan press and entertainment establishment.

The Left despises Romney and everything he stands for - patriotism, excellence, generosity, compassion, competence, self-reliance, and voluntary commitments to public service which have produced no monetary benefits to him personally.

Tell me, why doesn't Obama disclose his academic records or his health records? Other presidential candidates have. Romney has no problem doing so. What is Obama trying to hide? Did he apply to and attend college claiming to be a foreign exchange student? We know that in one autobiographical piece, it was claimed, probably falsely, that he was born in Kenya. Are you willing to apply the same standards to Obama that you want to apply to Romney when it comes to full disclosure? And are you willing to draw, in the absence of any affirmative evidence, the same inferences? I know the MSM is not.

I think it's safe to say that, with the MSM, intellectual elites, and Hollywood bullies strongly aligned against Romney, the freedoms that Foster feels Romney threatens are pretty safe if Romney gets elected. Without those institutions speaking truth to power, how safe are any freedoms in the hands of a President who believes that the Constitution, which Foster claims to revere, is deeply flawed?

Stephen Foster
2012-09-18 1:55 AM

Tell us Nathan, since you made the statement (and others have mentioned this), what other U.S. Presidents have released their transcripts while President, or prior to becoming President?
 
I will be anxiously awaiting your response.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:17 AM

"Can you prove he hasn't paid his fair share of taxes?"

I agree this is hard to 'prove' either way for the simple point that Romney has not released his tax returns.  If he has nothing to hide, why not release them, as his father did?  I recall Romney admitted that he had paid 13%.  

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/us/politics/romney-says-he-paid-at-least-13-percent-in-income-taxes.html


William Noel
2012-09-16 9:32 PM

You believe the New York Times?  Give me a break!  Their track record of false reporting is long and deep.  Their readership is half what it was four years ago and declining because they have lost their credibility. 

William Noel
2012-09-16 9:32 PM

You believe the New York Times?  Give me a break!  Their track record of false reporting is long and deep.  Their readership is half what it was four years ago and declining because they have lost their credibility. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:18 AM

"All wealthy folks just have to be crooks?"

No, I never said that. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:19 AM

"Have you seen his income tax returns?"

No I haven't - because he won't release them! What's he got to hide!  Remember all the calls for Obama's birth certificate, when people said the same thing - it is time for Romney to similarly put up.

William Noel
2012-09-16 9:33 PM

What does it matter that someone won't release their tax returns?  According to the law they are private and there is no requirement to release them. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 12:14 AM

Just because something isn't illegal doesn't mean that it is an action that should be seen in a person trying to be the POTUS.  I am not saying that refusing to release the returns is a legal issue going to legal disqualification.  I am saying refusing to release the returns is a political issue going adding to relevant criteria as to whether people should vote for Romney.

William Noel
2012-09-17 2:09 AM

I'm going to ask you to check the law because every campaign attorney in recent history will tell you that only the campaign is required to make financial disclosures.  That includes any financial contributions the candidate may have made to their campaign, but not their personal finances.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:21 AM

"That the Federal Reserve issues billions & trillions of Fiat dollars (nothing but worthless paper with no collateral under support)."

I suggest you read Krugerman's 'End this Depression Now.'

William Noel
2012-09-16 9:34 PM

Krugman is an economic idiot who doesn't understand such basics as the money the government spends coming out of the pockets of taxpayers and raising taxes reduces prosperity because it means you have less to spend.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 11:18 PM

Given he won a Nobel prize in economics, not quite sure on what basis you can say he is an idiot?  Given Krugan in effect merely re-state orthodox economic theory of Maynard Keynes, you might disagree with that orthodox economic theory, but it is hardly 'idiotic'. 

To be honest, the fallacy of supply-side economics seems pretty idiotic to me.  Having policies that just further promote the paradox of thrift seems about the stupidist thing one can do.

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-16 11:48 PM

Demeaning the experts is used in defense of one's inferiority.  "They're all idiots,"

 says much more about the one who uses it to describe those who are so far above and superior thinking it will bring them down to his level.  It is transparent.


William Noel
2012-09-17 9:17 AM

Elaine,
You are right.  I should not have called him an "idiot."  That word is too dismissive and too commonly used.  I should have used far stronger descriptives because the man is in favor of everything that destroys investor wealth, throws money at the bankers who have robbed the public and gotten away with it, destroying prosperity by increasing taxes, etc.  What word would you suggest to describe such a person?  Perhaps "economic terrorist?"

William Noel
2012-09-17 1:49 AM

Never mind that his Nobel prize was for theoretical work that was discredited before he got to Oslo.  Krugman believes that wealth comes from the government and increased government spending produces prosperity.  That is a self-refuting concept because everything the government spends comes out of the pockets of taxpayers and the more the government takes, the less prosperity there is. 

The Nobel Prize has become so politicized that it has become meaningless.  Consider how Obama could be awarded the Peace Prize before he had been in office long enough to do anything meaningful or lasting.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:23 AM

"This has been an ongoing  Elite theme since the 16th century, formulated by the Rothchilds, & given impetus by Cecil Rhodes & the large banking families of the world. You can pooh pooh this as a false flag conspiracy, as you have my earlier input."

I don't necessarily deny this.  What I don't understand is why the Tea-Party working class have become the tools of this elite by voting against their own ecconomic self-interest to bring more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Who is the puppet of whom?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 3:26 AM

"Earlier presidents also had this similar authority. i am not saying Obama will exercise this authority."

I also don't necessarily deny this, insofar as I said I do see an alarming rise of the executive powers of an Imperial Presidency.  Obama certaintly hasn't stopped doing this, but he certainly didn't start it either.  I doubt Romney would be any different either.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-16 6:34 AM

Without doubt Nathan, to your constant consternation, I have written a lot on the subject of separation of church and state.
 
I have tried very hard not to be misunderstood or mischaracterized on this topic.
 
I do not believe that, in America, the government should have anything to do with religion, nor religion with the government. That is meant to be pretty straightforward.
 
If that means, to you, that I have a weak ‘free exercise’ position, then so be it; let it be weak.
 
I certainly acknowledge grant and understand that certain traditions have been established and culturally entrenched, such as invocations and mottos for example; which, practically, may never be abandoned. (I personally have little/no problem with this.)
 
If government property at government sponsored events or activities are involved, then I would prefer that no religious activity take place. That is a general principle in keeping with my view that the government should have nothing to do with religion—for the sake and protection of free expression.
 
It’s interesting how those who don’t trust government, and believe that it should be limited, nevertheless somehow trust the government to fairly conduct, administer, or oversee religious expressions.
 
It seems everyone trusts the government to be involved in those activities they favor.
 
I would think the expressions of hatred for Obama are instructive—coming from Christians. And make no mistake about it, when some accuse him of speaking for or working for the devil, that’s hate speech. It is instructive in that those who find it inconceivable that the U.S. will speak as a dragon should pay attention.  
 
Of course, those who deny hatred or personal animosity but claim only political or ideological differences are seemingly missing the point. The wariness of some/Adventists of all political piety is based or rooted on what Elaine Nelson has correctly pointed out is the historical “position which has long taught that the encroachment of the church and state would usher in the ‘time of trouble.’” Elaine also correctly points out the somewhat shocking irony that Adventists “seem to be forming a line behind the Christian Right in urging more religion in politics.”
 
In further irony, I only disagree with her to the extent that she says “most” Adventists are doing so. The fact of the matter is that, while this may appear to be so (to Adventists of European descent), the Adventist church is no longer predominantly comprised of people of European descent; not even in North America. Political outlooks in the U.S. are driven to a significant extent by demographics. The demographics in our church, even in the United States, are changing faster than they are in the country as a whole.
 
So, whereas many Adventists who, for various cultural reasons, were raised as conservative Republicans are so committed ideologically to a particular brand of right wing conservatism that they fail to accept or see the danger that amalging church with state clearly represents; this is decidedly not the case with Adventists who were not raised as conservative Republicans—which includes many white people, and nearly all non-white people—who may happen to comprise the majority of attending/practicing Adventists, even in the United States of America.
 
While it may understandably appear, from Elaine’s perspective, that “most Adventists” are falling in line; I would say “far from it!”

Stephen Foster
2012-09-16 6:45 AM

Amalging may not be a word—“mixing.”

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 8:04 AM

"The other problem is that, being a Mormon, Governor Romney would, ironically and hypocritically (under “normal circumstances”) rather that there be little/no mention of religion in a national campaign in which he is a candidate."

Given the rise of the Religious Right, which let's face it, are the one most to be feared in terms of Adventist eschatological prediction about the eroding of the separation of Church and State, isn't Romney actually a pretty good choice?  As a Mormon, I would like to think he actually knows what it is to be a religous minority.  Moreover, Romney is hardly accepted by the Religious Right, which is partly why someone like Ryan had to be chosen as proposed VP.

I actually think Romney wouldn't be took bad, especially compared to say Newt or even worse Rick Santorum.  If we want to see a walking prophecy of the future to be feared, it is Santorum.  A Roman Catholic who is the darling of the Evangelical Religious Right, with hardline conservative social and economic views, and who said he felt physically sick when he listened to Kennedy's speech about the separation of Church and State.

http://doubledippolitics.com/2012/02/26/the-separation-of-church-and-state-makes-santorum-sick/

Santorum was also interesting because he was loved by fellow Evangelicals but disliked by fellow Catholics.  Again, I think we have little to fear from the Nuns of America or even many RC leaders.  It is the Santorums we need to be concerned about for the future, who unite with Apostate Protestanism in the frog-like tri-union.

To be fair, I actually hope there will be more Romneys selected for Republican tickets in the future.  I also don't doubt he is a decent fellow and probably a very good manager.  As Stephen Foster did say, it has been an unusual situation where a Mormon can portray to conservative Evangelical Christians that God is on his side. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 8:14 AM

Not sure if asked above, and getting away from disputes between Democrats vs Republicans, but what do presumably Republican supporters think of candidates within the Republican party who push to protect the separation of church and state vs pushing to erode the separation of church and state?

For example, would earl or Nathan show a more natural inclination to support Romney (a Mormon and person who probably does understand what it is to be a religious minority) vs Newt (a RC convert) or Santorum (a RC who militantly pushes to erode the separation of Church and State)?  Because I think the future probably won't rest so much in Democrats but rather fellow Republicans.

William Noel
2012-09-16 9:36 PM

Being religious does not mean a person is going to push the union of church and state.  Plus, anyone who suspects that of a Mormon is completely ignorant of Mormon history.  They are stronger defenders of the separation of church and state than Adventists.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-16 10:49 PM

That doesn't at all answer my question.  My point is I do agree (or hope) that a Mormon like Romney can be just as religious but perhaps a stronger supporter of the separation of Church and State, compared with say Rick Santorum. 

My question is, would you Republican-voting Adventists be more convinced to vote for someone like Romney in a Republican primary, rather than someone like Santorum given his strong opposition to the separation of Church and State?  Or is the separation of Church and State a non-issue to you that has no relevance when selecting a Republican candidate?

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 12:16 AM

Fair question, Stephen. I was strongly opposed to Rick Santorum for a variety of reasons, one of which was his obviously strong attraction to the notion that the federal government should be a tool to promote religious values. I don't think that is the role of the government - at least not the federal government; that is the job of families and churches - intermediary institutions that the Left is trying to weaken and destroy. I was also very offended by his denunciation of what I felt was a very reasonable statement by JFK regarding how his faith would play into his job as president.

I soured on Newt Gingrich when he treated his wife so badly. I don't like his big government conservatism. I like to listen to him. He is extremely bright. But he strikes me as a populist. He sealed his fate when he implicitly repudiated conservative values by desparately attacking Romney for being a successful businessman. 

Yes, separation of church and state is very important to me. A government of limited power, with checks and balances which are respected by all branches of government, is the best way to protect all liberties, including religious freedom. Since Chris Christie refuse to run, I viewed Romney as the best candidate. I was overjoyed when he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate.

As I said above, the economy is my number one priority. And regardless of who was on the Republican ticket, religious liberty wouldn't be an issue for me in this election. The latest round of "quantitative easing" (QE3) is a stentorian proclamation that Obama's policies are failing and will continue to fail in the forseeable future. But of course Bernanke can't come right out and say that.

Tell me, Stephen, if you were given a million dollars, and told you could choose to have that money managed by Obama/Biden or Romney/Ryan, which team would you entrust that money to?

Kevin Riley
2012-09-17 12:09 AM

They are strong supporters of the separation of church and state unless the Mormons happen to control the state.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-16 8:11 AM

Sorry, Nathan, but the message that "the love of money is the root of all evil" is pretty clear. 

The greedy are misleading the gullible. It is a pretty powerful coalition.

BTW, for those who are willing to think critically, while something like 47% of US citizens do not pay any income tax, some portion of those are people with LOTS of money that is sheltered in various tax havens and exempted in various ways, often quite legal. This factoid is frequently used as a claim that underclass people are parasites, and many rural white people (maybe others too) equate poverty and parasitism with ethnic minorities, especially those in urban ghettos. The situation with people not paying any tax is a lot more complicated than that. People who subsist entirely on income from wages, no matter how small, are seldom in the group that pays no income tax. My guess is that many in the top 1% of WEALTH (not meaning income, but net assets) live entirely free from paying income tax. How many of those who live income tax free are religious workers?

It seems to me that many of the comments here of both Stephens, as well as Chris and Elaine, are well-considered and valid. Some of the other comments are pretty scary, but, of course, they surely are intended to be. But what is the most scary is that anyone with any sense would hold such opinions.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-16 12:51 PM

Glad to see you are taking scriptural authority seriously, Joe. But tell me, do rich people love money more than poor people? What is spread-the-wealth other than a moral justification for covetousness? In your collectivist utopia, governed and administered by wise and benevolent PhDs,  who desire nothing more than to be their brother's and sister's keepers, how will you purge human nature of the love of money?

Your point, Joe, that some of that 47% comprises a small subset of the one-percenters, really isn't likely to change the overall percentage of those who pay no taxes - at least not for those who are willing to think critically (lol). You just can't resist puerile allusions to your imagined intellectual superiority and critical thinking skills, can you?

As the subject matter of this blog deals with the imagined danger that the word "God" poses to religious liberty, it seems to me that it is worthwhile to compare the realistic threat that each party, and its repective candidate, poses to liberty. We would all certainly be horrified if Romney or conservatives said they wanted America to have an official relgion like Norway, Argentina, Iceland, England, Israel, and other democracatic bastions of religious intolerance.  If Romney said that our Constitution is fundamentally flawed, and that our courts have been far to slow in effecting the fundamental changes that are needed to bring about his vision of what America should be, Foster would have a real field day.

By the way, in what democratic republics with official Christian religions is the Adventist Church threatened or suffering persecution?  If not, why not? What countries with relatively free markets have laws promoting religious intolerance? Perhaps Stephen Foster would like to address this question in here or in another blog, and explain how Romney belief in free markets, private property rights, and freedom of expression can be reconciled with the paranoid notion that he is likely to transform Americas into a country that will bring on the Adventist eschaton.

Now, assuming we agree that Marxism has not been very tolerant of religious freedom, or any other kind of freedom for that matter, and assuming we agree that a Marxist state would not likely be better for Adventists than a Protestant state, what I want to find out, as I asked Joe last evening,  is what anyone knows about Obama's associations, intellectual influences, or spiritual influences that makes the notion that he is a Marxist bizarre or preposterous.

It seems to me that if we are going to conjure scenarios in which the mention of God in a the platform of a private political party augers Sunday laws (now there's  critical thinking on steroids, Joe) and religious persecution, it is quite reasonable - even vital - to look at the alternatives. And this is why, Stephen Ferguson, Obama is very relevant to this discussion. Though as you say, no minds will be changed, and no hearts will be softened.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-16 12:56 PM

The strategy to leave God out in the run-up may be for two reasons: 1] to appease the leave God out of politics crowd who view the constitution as a no God works in our best interest and 2] build on their support from leftists, the same-sex rights lobby and feminists.  One can quite easily see that in the fight against political, social and economic discrimination based on race, together with the racism and oppression associated with it, that some other fringe groups like feminists and the homosexual lobby have capitalized on it even to the extent that being a godless or deist liberal nowadays may gain more votes as opposed to others with conservative religious affiliations. 

One also cannot overlook the real possibility that many may have voted for Obama from both sides of the political divide out of sympathy for past atrocities committed against black people in America without anticipating that he would support the homo-promo and continue the feminist-abortionist agenda.  By mixing and conflating real issues like the fight against racism with the feminist-interests and homo-promo, those previously voting Obama have figured out that his administration is leading an open assault on conservative Christian values.   Religious conservatives and those who appreciate such Christian values will therefore be giving ear to those with views that appeal to their religious convictions: God being one of them. 

Casting doubt on leaders because they mention God when conversing with voters is unwarranted especially without concrete proof that they are charlatans.  It seems more and more apparent that a godless constitution has become a god to many.  A saviour of sorts? An anti-Christ perhaps?

Stephen Foster
2012-09-16 4:56 PM

What exactly would qualify as “concrete proof” to you, 22Oct1844, that any ambitious American politician, even one claiming that he won’t take God off of the coins (as if his opponent would) is a charlatan?
 
Of course, the charlatan aspect of this God-in-the-platform flap is that the GOP would have made political hay out out of the Democrats not mentioning God in theirs. It’s bad enough that they would have done so by default, but that they would have so sought to do so is the clincher in my humble opinion. After all, it was ‘important’ to remind us that our coins won’t be altered.
 
Here are two related open, direct questions for anyone; whether you are an Adventist or not. Would the American people, and would religion in America, be better served without the government involved in religion, and without religion being involved in government; or would the American people, and religion in America, be better off (or better served) by there being an intermingling of religion with the government, and government with religion?
 
So as to take the inevitable trick question/false choice charge off the proverbial table, the second option presupposes that there can somehow be limits, of a constitutional nature.
 
Now there are probably three sets of people who will probably address these questions, if only in their own minds: 1) those that do not subscribe to historical Adventist eschatology, and consider it paranoia, 2) those who subscribe to it generally, but harbor doubts about its total accuracy, and 3) those who fully subscribe to it.
 
(Again, I remind all readers that I am in category three, and that this informs my approach to the questions posed.)

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-16 10:37 PM

No matter how you cut it, Stephen, you have offered false and impossible choices. The government is the people. If the people are religious, they will bring religion-based principles to bear on their civic life, inevitably subjecting themselves to the charge that they are mixing religion and government. Also, what you consider to be unacceptable government intermingling with religion - school vouchers, voluntary religious expressions on public property -  others will not see as such. The government (people) must through their courts and legislatures define the meaning of the non-establishment clause and free exercise clause. So again, of necessity the government becomes involved with religion. 

The biggest danger is the illusion that, by seeking to eradicate all traces of religion from government, the government has somehow made religious liberty more secure. Quite the contrary! The more a government seeks to antiseptically isolate the polis from religion, the more religion-conscious it becomes. St. Paul put it this way: The government should be indifferent to religion, not the enemy of religion. Atheism should not be entitled to affirmative action.

We were recently treated to the self-deceit and hypocrisy that "secular" states indulge. Our government subsidizes all kinds of art and charitable organizations that are overtly hostile to Christianity. Remember "Piss Christ", funded by the NEA? Perfectly appropriate, right, because it's not religion? Government sponsorship of anti-Christian expression is not a mingling of church and state.

But apparently, some religions are more equal than others, and entitled to special protection by government. Lasst week, a privately funded anti-Muslim video was singled out by the government, and made the subject of censure. The maker of the video has now been arrested by government authorities. Welcome to the world of how governments which claim to believe in radical separation of church and state actually behave when the "religion of peace" is criticized. 

May I remind you, Stephen, that there are many who claim to fully subscribe to historical Adventist eschatology (22oct1844, for one, I suspect) who do not share your approach or your conclusions. I think, if you were to poll Adventists who subscribe to historical Adventist eschatology, you would find that those who share your approach and conclusions generally vote Democrat, and will be voting for Obama this Fall. Those who do not share your politics will not subscribe to your paranoia over religious words in a political party platform. So it's really just a matter of politics, not theology. You use religion to sanctify your political views. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-17 8:02 AM

Predictably, instead of answering a challenging question with a reasonable caveat, it is attacked.
 
(As if attack isn’t bad enough, the blog’s thesis itself is practically hijacked.)
 
It is again necessary to reiterate that the God-in-the-platform flap is a matter of using the name of the Lord in vain, or exploiting its nonuse, for partisan purposes.
 
What flows from this are the implications for prophetic American church and state relationships.
 
The question was semi-hypothetical, because we already have an intermingling of church and state. For what it’s worth, in having nothing to do with religion, the government should certainly be indifferent to religion. (I wonder what would the reaction had been had I said that.) The government should not fund religion-related or anti-religious art for example.
 
As I have stated previously (and as Elaine has suggested) American Adventists who, for whatever reason, are not necessarily politically committed to a particularly recent brand of conservatism, have historically advocated for church and state separation. So this is not necessarily just my approach, and the cited conclusions (from scriptural interpretation in The Great Controversy, for example) are clearly not just my conclusions.
 
Suggestions of submitting such things to a poll are, shall we say, not serious. But to whom should we look for signs of the church and state joining forces, if not the politically ambitious pious?
 
Of course, if you believe this is not an issue of any concern, and/or prefer to see religion and government closer together, then this, undoubtedly, is all silly.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 2:32 PM

I'm sure I must be missing something, Stephen. I thought you were taking seriously the Republicans belief in the importance of politicians' affirming the divine provenance of our fundamental rights. I thought that's what you were concerned about. Surely you do not think that the populist use of religious rhetoric represents a threat to Adventists? If you think the Parties are just using religious rheotric for partisan, secular reasons, you should be reassured.

Obviously, if the government was truly indifferent to religion, there would be no ability to uphold the First Amendment. When I use the term "indifference", I mean that, if the federal government is going to  pass out goodies to organizations that are advancing a governmental purpose, it shouldn't discriminate against religious organizations by saying, "Oh, you can't have any of what we are giving to everyone else, because if we give it to you, while respecting your First Amendment rights, we'll be establishing religion." You obviously have a much different view of what it means for the government to be indifferent to religion. You envision a government that gets close enough to religion to actively sniff out religious influences and make sure that whatever it does is not helping religion. To me, exclusionary policies are not the same as policies of indifference.

Certainly, with sufficient resources, Adventists could be polled to determine the percentage of political conservatives among those who claim to believe in traditional Adventist eschatology. My point, that traditional Adventist eschatology does not in practice or logic lead one to the politics of the Right or the Left, is meant as a check to what comes across as a smug assurance on your part that everyone who believes in traditional Adventist eschatology will share your appraisal of the current political scene.

And no, I do not prefer to see religion and government closer together. Nor do I believe that Romney wants that. I'd like to see government get off the back of religion, protect free private expression of religion, even in the public square, and not create government mandates and benefits that require religious individuals and organizations to abandon their convictions. What brings religion and government closer together is really in the eye of the beholder. You can't just demagogue the issue with false alternatives by imputing your spin to the views of those who disagree with you. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-17 11:50 PM

For some reason—and I know what it is—you keep missing my point.
 
As much as I’ve written on this topic, and as often as I write about it, I would think it be impossible for you to have missed anything.
 
American religion would be better served if the government had nothing to do with it; and the government, i.e. the people, would be better served if religion had nothing to do with the government; period.
 
I’ve said this before on this strand and I’ll say it again. I vote so as to hopefully prevent the church from gaining civil power, or civil authority.
 
My reasons are sectarian, as you know. You have correctly accused me of having my religion very much inform my politics.
 
 
(Naturally, when I readily copped to this, you felt obliged to expand the charges.)
 
I would remind you however, that as far as my religious views are concerned, I think I may be fairly close to being accurately labeled a fundamentalist (to whom Joe Erwin has been respectful, incidentally).
 
Polling Adventists as to how they view current events might be interesting, but would have absolutely no bearing on the accuracy, or lack thereof, of historical doctrinal eschatology.

It is again necessary to reiterate that the God-in-the-platform flap is a matter of using the name of the Lord in vain, or exploiting its nonuse, for partisan purposes.
 
What flows from this are the implications for prophetic American church and state relationships.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-16 5:55 PM

Once again, I regret reading or posting here. The hostile rhetoric, obnoxious, nonsensical, and personal comments of a few people outweigh the sensible and reasonable comments of others. I wish you all well, and I thank you for helping me understand better why I am not an adventist.

cb25
2012-09-16 6:52 PM

Joe, I understand your frustration. I read some of this stuff and it makes me want to say lots of things. Please keep dropping in. Your comments have great value and add a balancing perspective. We need it!

:)

cb25
2012-09-16 6:56 PM

....then again...I just glanced at a comment to you higher up, and...yes we are a rude and obnoxius lot here at times


Nathan Schilt
2012-09-16 8:28 PM

Yes, I'm sure, Joe, that a faculty lounge somewhere will provide a much more civil and commodious setting, where you can find yourself in heated agreement with other like-minded bien pensants, and congratulate yourselves that, thank "God", you are not as  the benighted rubes who troll AToday.

But then, without scary fools like us to contrast yourself with, how will you know how really smart you are? 

And yes, Chris, some of us do get rude and obnoxious when we are called crazy, duped racists and hatemongerers for having almost as low an opinion of the sitting president as you and Joe did of his predecessor.

cb25
2012-09-16 10:52 PM

Nathan,

I find Joe one of the most respectful posters on AT.

Are you suggesting that because we disagree with someone it is OK to be rude, obnoxious etc? I have been guilty, but I cannot say it is OK!

Surely such a position is on the same continuum of justification that leads the radical Muslim to kill a few people because someone insulted their prophet.

If respect for others was a guide to the best philosophy on offer at AT, I think Joe's would come up tops. So, I'm glad that no one judges Christianity's appeal by your comments, or that of a few too many on here at times, (and sometimes mine too). But...who said they don't judge in such a way, or that they don't have a right to do exactly that?

We could all lift our game and it is shame on us.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 1:09 AM

Well yes, Chris, I agree that Joe is respectful to you and Elaine. He is horribly condescending and insulting towards fundamentalists, and seems to often reserve particular venom for me on subjects in which he is strongly emotionally invested. In fact I recall that on one occasion, when I called him out, he suggested that, since he is not a professing Christian, he should be given more latitude.

Perhaps he is motivated by the same animus that leads minority liberals to demonize minority conservatives as sell-outs. Perhaps Joe sees intelligent, articulate folks like me as traitors to the group-think progressivism that intellectual elites are supposed to exhibit. So he acts like a high school bully.

I tend to get pretty sarcastic and demeaning when folks characterize postitions I take as racist, crazy, duped, hatemongering, uninformed, or ignorant. Have you not noticed that - or do you think name calling is more acceptable than sarcastically calling someone out and ridiculing them for smug. arrogant, passive-aggressive assaults on conservatives? I strongly disagree with Stephen Foster and Sephen Ferguson on the topic of this blog. But I am not disrespectful towards them. The reason is that their often robust responses do not denigrate my intelligence, sanity, or integrity.

Does it not occur to you, Chris, that perhaps you have a blind spot toward rude and obnoxious comments with which you sympathize? And no, speech is not on the same continuum with violoence. Americans have had a long history of robust debate, sprinkled with often vile epithets. Politically conservative Christians, whom Joe believes are crazy, duped racists, do not resort to violence when celebrities like Bill Maher insult them. Unlike Muslim fanatics and Occupy Wall Streeters, who don't need to have a motivation for mob lawlessness, conservative Christians do not stage violent protests, even when they are highly provoked.

Children, who have been properly raised, know that there is a profound difference between personal insults and physical attacks. Adults should recognize that difference as well, rather than resorting to hyperbolic analogies. 

William Noel
2012-09-17 1:39 AM

Well said!  Thank you.

cb25
2012-09-17 3:14 AM

"...conservative Christians do not stage violent protests, even when they are highly provoked."

Some fair points Nathan, but, I'm not sure about the one above. Take a look at the link and check out the response Jessica has had from a good few Christians. It's just an illustration that may fit.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j3TZJScrDM

Stephen Foster
2012-09-17 11:31 AM

Joe,
 
I appreciate your frustration; however I would think that you probably understand by now that people who hate are hateful. And again, make no mistake, some conservatives hate liberals (and vice versa) as has been hereby clearly demonstrated.
 
Adventists are not immune to being mean-spirited. Other people, be they believers, agnostics, or atheists, are by no means immune either.
 
By the way, Joe, the next time someone tells you that there is something unfair about (the bottom) 47% paying no federal income taxes, share with them the following information: In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. Table 1 and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2010). From http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-17 1:11 PM

The claim that so many aren't paying taxes only means they are not paying income taxes.  There are many other taxes:  social security, all state and local taxes on purchases, taxes which are included in rental homes, and others.  No one is immune from taxes--even those who are unemployed.

earl calahan
2012-09-16 8:11 PM

We have a variety of positions here, all relating to political views versus religion. 
First i agree w/ Stephen Foster that church & state must have total separation, so to conform to our Constitution. That no Govt. support shows favor to any religious entity. Nathan, i've noted more than once Obama has talked glowingly of Islam. Rarely speaking of other religions. An example being in May 2009, he didn't host the National  Prayer Day, But he did host White House Iftar dinners in honor of Ramadan. He avoids all Biblical Holiday notices, but recognizes Ramadan, Hadj, Eid- ul, ul adha, sending congratulatory messages of recognition to Islamic countries. He bows to Arabic Kings. He often offers Arabic quotes. When quoting the DOI, he omits any reference of the Creator. This to me is a definite showing of respect to Islam, while ignoring the Christians. This is strange if not preposterous, certainly leading many to believe he is a closet Islamist.
There is much concern about the Religious Right (their heyday is past) & the Tea Party(not a coherent group or organization), should not be a concern of either on a national basis. Re: the Libertarians, if Ron Paul was unable to rally them, it won't happen.
If any are concerned or anxious about the up coming presidential election, rest easy, the world Elite
hemmed & hawwed for awhile(no problem as both their boys are the nominees) but they've decided
to give Obama another 4 years. The die was cast when Bernanke stated that QE3 is alive and well as
the Fed will spend $40 Billion a month to infinity. i guess that is till it suffers a total collaspe. In the past when they stated  a amount, it has allways been at least double the figure. All should observe carefully Obama's posture & dialogue at the inauguration. God bless all.


Edwin A. Schwisow
2012-09-17 12:22 AM

I remember well those warm Sabbaths after the sermon, as our members gathered among the falling leaves on the front steps of the little concrete-block chapel in Goldendale, Washington to pray together for the defeat of John F. Kennedy as president, for it was clear to all (including my terrified little seven-year-old mind) that any Kennedy ascent to power would usher in the Sunday laws, and that the liberal Supreme Court of that time would undoubtedly declare such laws entirely constitutional. I also recall our diminutive pastor, a very conservative man whom I cherished immensely, announcing to us boys and men at foot washing before communion that if Khrushchev had his way, we would all be blown to bits. Even to my very young mind, the mixing of politics and the sacred ordinances seemed out of line....back then, and now. It would seem that faith should offer at least a temporary surcease from the paranoia, fears, and conspiracies rampant in political strategizing and discussion, especially in the bass and baritone sections of the Adventist choir.

William Noel
2012-09-17 12:51 AM

Edwin,

You are right.   We all need to be reminded that faith should replace our fears.  Fear grows in the garden of speculation when it is fertilized by misinformation and deception.  We have plenty of that going around. 

Fear also can have a basis in reality when there is good evidence of danger.  When I see our president disregarding laws and the constitution, I am fearful for liberty.  When I see a liberal-minded congress and president raising taxes and increasing regulations that take growing amounts of money out of the pockets of people who can barely make ends meet, I see the ranks of the poor swelling as a direct result.  When I see the largest tax increases in American history starting on January 1, I fear for the economic stability of our country.  If history is any predictor the greatest depression in American history begins January 1.  That is reason for great fear.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 2:19 AM

Ed, you're a bit too oblique for me. Who do you see as demonstrating unwarranted paranoia, fear, and conspiracy mongering? The participants in this discussion are overwhelmingly bass/baritone, on both sides of the debate.

Have you read the blog? It is premised on what I think can fairly be characterized as a rather paranoid, fear-based idea that opposition to, or support for, referencing the name of God in the platform of a political party is of special significance to Adventists. We should be afraid of a politician or political party that thinks it is important to acknowledge, in a political party platform, that our rights are God-given. So I can certainly see where you might be coming from when you decry appeals to paranoia and fear. But your beef then should be with Stephen Foster. Why scold the whole class? 

Isn't it quite natural that this blog contains a robust political discussion? Hasn't that been invited by the topic of the blog, which is what usually happens when Foster blogs on Adventists and politcs.
Other than the thesis of the blog, I really haven't heard much conspiracy, paranoia, or fear mongering. There have been lots of accusations and factual assertions, usually accompanied by evidentiary support. Maybe you could help us find the "surcease" you think we need if you would be a bit more direct, identifying the conspiracies, paranoia, and their purveyors.

I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to "the mixing of politics and the 'sacred ordinances'," which you think is out of line. What in the world are "sacred ordinances?" Who has said anything about sacred ordinances on this blog??? 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-17 1:18 PM

We can't ignore the checks and balances set up in our government.  A president, or Congress may introduce laws, but they must be passed by Congress, and when questioned, the SCOTUS is the final arbiter.

Fears are usually highly overestimated.  All the fears mentioned from Kennedy about instituting Catholicism, to the current president who many are certain is a Muslim from Kenya, are totally unfounded but the ignorant public chooses to believe these because it offers excitement from the dreary lives.  Conspiracists
thrive on rumors and rumors originate from the lies emanating from the media and internet that spread them more rapidly than ever before.  No investigation needed, it's all true if you saw it on TV, heard it on radio, read it on the internet.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-17 2:22 AM

If spending is not curtailed--and no, no amount of taxation can close the deficit, there is ample evidence of that--then eventually interest rates, which are now near zero, will rise. When that happens, and it will happen soon, the cost of interest on the national debt will skyrocket.  Just think of it, if interest rates are 0.5 percent now (and the prime rate is somewhat lower), then a rise to 5 percent--not a particularly high rate, historiecally-- would be a tenfold increase. So the interest burden, now running at about $450 billion (for 2011), would become 4.5 trillion, per year.

That could easily result in a breakdown of society, such as Greece is experiencing, but worse, because there will be no possibility of bailing out this enormous economy, and because our population is so much greater. When that happens, desperate people will be ready for desperate remedies.

 

If you're looking for an end-time scenario, it's staring you in the face. And yes, "it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!."

Either face up to that reality, or remain a part of the problem.


Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 2:47 AM

You are spot on, Ed. It is frightening that those who would highlight this truth are called fear-mongerers, conspiracy theorists, and paranoid by intelligent adults. And those who think the gravy train can't continue on its present track are called cruel, heartless, and greedy. The truth may set you free, but it won't even get you elected dog catcher, much less president.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 6:54 AM

That's certainly true, but deep cuts in public spending through austerity can further deepen the paradox of thrift, sucking the economy into a downward spiral.  Such as what has exactly happened in the UK.  I'm glad I don't live in your country. 

Who remembers the US debt as a result of WW2 was a higher percentage of GDP than today (113% vs 72%), yet people talk about the 1950s as if it were the golden age.  Remember WW2 was effectively a massive stimulus package that got the US economy out of the mindset of the paradox of thrift of the Great Depression.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Publicly_Held_Federal_Debt_1790-2009.png

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_debt

It is a false economy to sell one's car to save money if it means paying even more money thereafter taking the bus.  

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-17 1:31 PM

"deep cuts in public spending through austerity can further deepen the paradox of thrift, sucking the economy into a downward spiral."

Might be convincing if I had not lived through the 1970's and 1980's. The stagflation, with rising unemployment and rising interest rates of the 1970's was impossible according to Keynes. So it's a case of "Who are you going to believe, Keynes or your lying eyes."

It's hilarious that people really expect us to believe that when government has to do with less, it's austerity, when people have to do with less so government can spend, it's stimulus.

And don't bother trying the old chestnut about the "multiplier effect." It wasn't there with the great "stimulus" of nearly 1T we already passed.  The idea of government stimulus is about as credible as giving your neighbor a dollar, have him keep  20 cents in administrative cost, then spend the remaining 80 cents to buy something for someone else, and have him tell you that added $1.50 to the economy. Right.


Elaine Nelson
2012-09-17 1:42 PM

It takes money to prime the pump.  When someone wants to start a business that needs capital, if sufficient money is available, the business can be up and running and if run well, can begin to produce revenue.  Without "seed" money, no amount of good ideas will be produced.

The government needs to provide funds to rebuild infrastructure and offer work to the unemployed.  I remember the great benefit to the unemployed following the Depression and the many public works that were built then we are still using.
The old saying:  "It takes money to make money" is very true. I remember the boost that defense factories gave to the economy on the run-up to WWII.  We shouldn't have to rely on another war to get things moving, but putting too much emphasis in cutting the debt can produce ontoward effects by cutting entitlements that are absolutely necessary. They depend on the whim of politicians to choose.

If the billions given for TARP had been given to consumers, they could have immediately spent it on consumer goods--growing the economy.  When there is insufficient money in pockets, people hold on to it for fear of losing even more.
Bernanke is trying to stimulate the economy so we will wait and see how successful that will be. 

I have seen no one here offer solutions, only restatement of facts that can be found in reading current news.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-17 10:52 PM

"It takes money to prime the pump."

"I have seen no one here offer solutions, only restatement of facts"

It seems unlikely that a person who doesn't  think $5 Trillion in deficit spending is enough pump-priming is unlikely to recognize a solution when it appears.

Ed Dickerson
2012-09-17 10:53 PM

likely to recognize

Stephen Foster
2012-09-18 7:52 AM

It is amusing to note that no one has refuted Bill Clinton’s charge that Reagan and George H.W. Bush combined to quadruple the debt in the 12 years before he took office, and George W. Bush doubled it in the eight years after he left office; so it’s all relative.
 
If the economy is what’s important, then the comparative rates of private sector job growth should be factored: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/06/01/493849/obama-bush-jobs-record/
 
For a more ostensibly objective perspective: http://factcheck.org/2012/06/obamas-economic-sleight-of-hand/
 
Interestingly, I have also not heard a refutation of Clinton’s charge that in the past 28 years of Republican administrations, 24 million jobs have been created; whereas in the past 24 years of Democratic administrations, some 42 million jobs have been created.
 
So this is seemingly about more than economics.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-17 10:19 AM

I apologize for being thin-skinned and for making comments that distract some commenters into making sarcastic personal references. It is clear that one or more of the participants here suffer from some mental health issues, such as the "ideas of reference" that are common in paranoid personalities, and lead to claims that someone is "calling me names" when no name calling has occurred. I get that. So I want to exercise more restraint in the future. This stream should not in any way be about me, or those who seem so intent on arguing with me, so I will try to avoid fueling the anger of thosee who are offended by the things I write. Thank you, Chris, for coming to my defense.

I occasionally find it compelling, however, to comment on such assertions as the one above that Paul Krugman is an idiot. Really? Surely any reasonable person cannot believe such an assertion. How qualified is the commenter to assert that he understands economics on a par with Krugman? Krugman's writing is readily accessible to all (he is a professor at Princeton and writes a column on economics for the NY Times). WARNING: Even though he is an authority on economics, that does not mean you must believe everything he says--just weigh it carefully and thoughtfully. Being a professor or having a PhD does not entitle one to be believed uncritically (you see, I'm not really an intellectual snob as suggested). Get past "authoritarian" thinking (if you can), and evaluate ideas and evidence on their merits (if you can).

 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-17 10:54 AM

"I occasionally find it compelling, however, to comment on such assertions as the one above that Paul Krugman is an idiot."

Agreed. One might disagree with his views, but one could hardly call a Professor who has won a Nobel prize in economics and idiot.  I don't personally agree with lots of views of Professor Richard Dawkins, but I hardly call him an idiot either.  I don't agree with Dawkin's God Delusion, but I challenge anyone posting here to write something as well - same goes for Krugman.

"How qualified is the commenter to assert that he understands economics on a par with Krugman?"

Agreed. I am not economic genius, nor do I think Krugman is an economic god.  But so far I have a choice between Krugman, who basis much of his views on Keynes, the founder of modern orthodox macroeconomic theory which has been observed and tested since the end of the Great Depression - or I can believe earl calahan (who spells his name all in lower case), Nathan Schilt or William Noel.

If any of you gentlemen have a PhD and Nobel prize in econonmics I am all ears. Otherwise, I am probably a little more inclined to listen to Krugman (following Keynes) rather than your own illustrious theories.  

William Noel
2012-09-17 1:29 PM

Stephen,

I admit to using a wrong descriptive.  "Symapthizer with Economic Terrorism" would be more accurate.  The basis for his Nobel prize was discredited before he got to Oslo to accept the prize. 

I'll put my MBA up against his Nobel any day because he's lost in economic theory and I understand how money works at the street level.  Keynesianism assumes that government creates wealth and that increased government spending increases prosperity.  Those are lies.  Yes, government prints money that we use to exchange value, but the real value of money is based on the productivity and spending activity of people whose labor creates wealth.  Everything the government spends comes from the pockets of taxpayers.  When taxes go up, you have less money to spend.  So you buy less.  That means stores sell less, so they lay off workers and order fewer things from suppliers.  When the supplier loses order volume, they lay off more workers.  Multiply this over a few million taxpayers and the whole economy slows down.  That's where we are today.  Add the costs of new regulations being imposed by the Obama administration and that on January 1 we are facing the largest tax increases in American history and you can see why the people are tightening their belts.  

How much are those tax increases going to cost you?  They're going to cost me almost $5,000 a year.  Can you afford such a pay cut?  It's going to put a real squeeze on my household budget and the budgets of millions of households.  Worst of all, it is going to impact the poor the most severely because of the layoffs that will result when consumer spending slows sharply.  Krugman endorses those tax hikes.  Unless the law is changed, an economic depression more severe than was seen in the 1930s will start on January 1.  So, is Krugman really as smart at you think?  Not hardly!

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-17 1:47 PM

It is schoolyard talk to call someone an idiot; particularly when the one who labels could not have special insights into evaluating such a prominent Nobel prize winner.  It does not infer royalty, but the world has input into those decisions so it indicts and labels the best of the world's ecomonists who have judged him to be worthy.

William Noel
2012-09-17 4:16 PM

Elaine,

I admit to having used the wrong descriptive.  The proof of his wisdom is in the results from what he advocates.  So far, not a single thing he has advocated has had the slightest positive impact on the American economy.  Worse than that, those actions have weakened our economy and set us up for the worst depression in American history starting January 1.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 4:45 PM

"I have a choice to believe either Krugman on the one hand, or Nate, William, and Earl on the other."

Come on, Stephen. You're too bright, and too much of a gentleman for statements like that!!! Krugman is certainly not an idiot, and neither was Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, or Ludwig Von Mises. Amity Shlaes is no slouch when it comes to understanding the Great Depression and the mythical role of WWII in ending that depression. She would run circles around you in demonstrating that WWII deficit spending did not stimulate post-war economic growth, and that FDR's policies intensified and prolonged the Depression. But since it is very much off topic, I will spare you a synopsis of those arguments. Have you read any of Art Laffer's writings? Do you even know who he is?

If you are really interested in objectively looking at political economic theory, there are far more unbiased and credible economists on the Left than Krugman. Krugman has become more of a hard line political pundit than a respected academic economist in recent years. It is as silly for you to try and convince conservatives with opinions from Paul Krugman as it would be for you to offer Maureen Dowd as an authority, or for me to try and convince you with opinions from Rush Limbaugh and Walter Williams.

There are lots of people on the Left who are much smarter and better qualified than I; and there are plenty of people on the Right who are lots smarter and better qualified than you. So what do you conclude from that? Appeal to authority is generally a feeble form of argument. If there is neither space nor ability for you or me to fully explore here issues about which many books have been written, can either of us proclaim victory by simply citing our favorite authority? Of course not! Is there really any point at all in either of us firing off links to articles that support our value judgments? Do you think I could not do the same? After all, I do know how to use Google.

If you are really only interested in the opinions of experts, this is probably not the right forum for you, and you shouldn't expect any of us to be the least bit interested in what you have to say, since you are not an expert either. But you only underscore your close-mindedness when you suggest that, because we are not Nobel prize winning PhDs in economics, Paul Krugman must therefore be right. I'd like to see you demonstrate a little more respect for your chosen profession and your fellow conversationalists by refraining from that sort of silly argument. Adults who eschew demagoguery really shouldn't need this sort of discussion.

Edwin A. Schwisow
2012-09-17 11:58 AM

As a professed moderate I look at our current political/religious verbal troubles as the product of fear-mongering modeled by both sides—something that has been happening since time immemorial, and in which Adventism has at times been a strong participant. I am a member of that culture, and I am not always proud of that particular aspect of my beginnings. I believe the ability to speak with respect and kindness with (and to) a presumed adversary is still considered at least initial evidence of a balanced nature, motivated by the horsepower of high emotional intelligence. Would that we could all rise higher on this scale of decorum and simply speak the truth directly and with kindness. My favorite class bar none in college was debate, and comparing and sharing points of view with ardent and intelligent support is a wonderful thing. But we must ask this question as we spar on this site: Do we come to this site primarily to defeat adversaries, or to edify and inform friends....?

Joe Erwin
2012-09-17 1:43 PM

The economic collapse occurred in SEP 2008 toward the end of the previous administration's term and prior to the election of the current President. The job losses continued under that administration until the current President took office and began to act to "stop the bleeding." As inconvenient as the evidence may be, the economic disaster that is being attributed to President Obama occurred on the watch of President Bush and was a clear consequence of the Bush economic policies. From beginning to end, the Bush years were a disaster. One has to twist the evidence pretty hard to conclude otherwise. Perhaps having an MBA helps one do that twisting, and maybe it can convince some that the posessor of the MBA is an authority to be trusted. After all, President Bush was equipped with an MBA too (actually, an EMBA).

William Noel
2012-09-17 4:14 PM

Joe,

September 2008 was a mild foretaste of what is coming starting January 1.  Can you afford the 12-15% increase in taxes that will hit when the Bush tax cuts expire?  Or the 15-20% increase in health care costs that will come as a result of new taxes to pay for ObamaCare?   Thats when a faster crash into a deeper depression than the 1930s begins. 

Joe Erwin
2012-09-17 5:33 PM

The fiscal cliff of which you speak was a device to try to force congress to act instead of refusing to act. It was an unthinkable option, but even so, congress refused to act. Those whose incomes are very high can afford to pay a little more in taxes (they are not even being asked to pay rates higher than those during the Clinton administration). Apparently, now that "money is speech" the well off would rather donate to PACs than pay their fair share of taxes (fair in the sense that they could easily be afforded by those who have large incomes beyond what they need to live a life of luxury and ease). As for "Obamacare," there were much better options that would have provided better, more affordable, more efficient access to health care, but these could not pass congress. It is amazing how people can deny the responsibility of the Bush administration, with its tax cuts and deregulation, for the financial collapse. GW Bush never struck me as a country boy at all. He always seemed to me to be a spoiled rich kid without much talent. But, actually, I was surprised that he did as well as he did as President. It just seemed like he was a bit of a puppet.

Ah, there I go again. Insulting people. I shouldn't do that....

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 7:56 PM

I'm trying to stay on topic, Joe, but I can't help but shake my head over your repeatedly expressed amazement that many people (around half of the country) look at the past 12 years and see things pretty much opposite from the way you see them. It suggests you have a very limited capacity to see things from a different perspective.

Forty years ago Pauline Kael, film critic for the New Yorker, expressed shock and dismay after Richard Nixon trounced George McGovern in the presidential election. She was quoted as saying, "I can't believe Nixon won. I don't know anyone who voted for him." What she actually said, according to the New Yorker's film editor, Richard Brody, was, "I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theatre I can feel them."

You too seem to live in that rather special world, Joe. One of the hallmarks of education is the ability to acknowledge that honest intelligent people often live and think very differently from the way we do; that their different values and priorities do not arise from evil, stupid, uninformed, or delusional characters and minds. Joe, your amazement is less a reflection that your opinions are self-evident than a reflection of the elitist hermetic chamber in which your values and beliefs seem to have evolved and now reside. Alan Bloom wrote about folks like you 25 years ago in The Closing of the American Mind. Have you ever read The Claremont Review of Books, Commentary, The National Review, Weekly Standard, or other writings by brilliant conservatives? It doesn't sound like it. If you had, you would recognize that there are many ways to look at reality.

Power, in the hands of mindsets like yours, frightens me because historically many elites, who saw the world the way you do, put "uninformed" people like me in re-education camps; and then, if that didn't work, they put "crazy" people like me in mental hospitals; then, if that didn't work, they sent "evil" people like me to the Gulag. That's what happens when people get power who are unable to accept that those who have robust differences in perceptions and values may be just as intelligent and moral as themselves. And that's why Obama scares me. He thinks the way you do.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-17 10:07 PM

So, Nathan, I can only be further amazed that you think you know so much about me! Rather than being the narrow elitist you seem to think I am, I am a person whose experience is fairly broad. I grew up on a remote ranch without indoor plumbing or electric power. I served in the US army with people of diverse backgrounds and was stationed in Germany, where I met and got to know many interesting ordinary people in several countries by traveling around by hitchhiking, by bus and train, etc. All the rest of my life I have lived in and visited places where I met and got to know people of diverse origins. So at one point I would be sleeping on the floor of a head man's house in a remote location, and a few weeks later I would be a study leader on a luxurious Smithsonian study cruise. While I have given lectures at Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Cambridge, and many other places, I also have sat around many times at rural general stores in various places, talking at length with local people. I have had students and colleagues from various backgrounds. If the great variety of my experience and background does not come through in my comments, I apologize, and will try to do better.

So, what do you really know about mental hospitals and prison camps? I worked in a mental hospital and visited many others. I also visited Dachau and saw the ovens and went into the gas chambers. I cleaned horse barns that had been previously used to house Japanese-Americans during WW II. Perhaps you have more experiences with such things than I have had--but I have had enough experience to have my awareness of such things expanded. Please, Nathan, back off your inappropriately personal and inaccurate judgements. And don't worry, I'm not going to try to have you locked away from society just because you say nutty things.

You don't have to take my word for it about the former President Bush growing up as a spoiled rich brat. Just check his biography and that of his father and that of his grandfather. He wasn't a hick kid from west Texas. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut (not that there is anything wrong with that). He and his father and grandfather all attended exclusive northeastern prep schools and all three went to Yale and were in the elite "Skull and Bones" secret society. His grandfather was a senator. His Dad was a congressman, UN ambassador, CIA director, and VP and President of the US. Also, a wealthy oil man. Grandpa was a wealthy NY banker. But, "W" was just a "country bumpkin?" He was a man of high priviledge who had every advantage in life. Bill Clinton, of course, is the country bumpkin--who left the country in such advantageous financial shape that W found it necessary to give revenue back to the people, especially the wealthy people--his people--rather than using the surplus to address potential problems with social security and medicare, etc., instead, vast resources have been wasted on unnecessary wars from which it is very difficult to extricate ourselves, and sadly, we now have a generation of victim veterans of war.

Those who forget that legacy do so at their peril--indeed, at the peril of all of us.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-17 11:52 PM

Whatever your background, Joe, your inabiity to appreciate that differing perspectives from yours can be reached by highly intelligent people of integrity, looking at the same reality, bespeaks a closed mind. Are you suggesting that you must not be narrow-minded about politics because you have had vast life experiences? How silly!

Your life experiences neither justify nor explain your amazement at people who don't buy the Left wing metanarrative. Nor do they add any weight or credibility to your opinions. If I told you about the backgrounds of Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas, would you go weak-kneed and concede that their opinions must be correct? So why should you expect me to be impressed by your background? I would be more impressed if you told me that you read some of the journals I referenced above. 

If I attacked President Obama the way you attack Bush, it would of course be racist in your tolerant mind. Your paragraph about Bush, totally off topic, is so vitriolic as to make one wonder about your emotional stability. Who is touting Bush as a wonderful person here? Did I miss a post? What does that have to do with anything? Or did you just need an excuse to hyperventilate?


Joe Erwin
2012-09-18 8:05 AM

Nathan, it appears to me that you are projecting onto me attitudes you have about people you think are like me, if not your own closed-minded perspectives. I very much appreciate that there is a dramatic range of individual differences in perspectives and biases. Where do you get these strange ideas that you attribute to me? Of course, from my point of view, I claim to be broad-minded and see you as the opposite. I recognize that you see it the other way around.

I do not even "buy the left wing narrative." I make a concerted effort to evaluate evidence on its merits, to the extent that I can, rather than uncritically accepting something because it comes from right or left. I am very much inclined away from partisan spin and toward the formation of constructive centrist evidence-based policies that benefit most people and help protect the most vulnerable. While I celebrate success, I also value hard work, and I do not count money as the ultimate metric of success or diligence.

"Weak-kneed?" What on earth are you talking about? I have no need whatsoever of impressing you, Nathan. I was simply responding to your unwarranted charges of narrowness, but nothing works, does it? I have no interest whatsoever of jousting with you. You seem only interested in venting vitriol yourself, and then claiming that I was the one who did it. Again, I want to point out that this blog and stream are not about me, and should not be personalized in the way it has been. Let's let people get back to the topic. This is a distraction from the issue of separation of church and state. Im for it.

I recall that as a student in an SDA elementary school, we said the pledge of allegiance to the flag every morning. One day we were instructed that a change had been made to the wording of the pledge. The words "under God" had been added. We were told that it was up to us to decide whether or not we wanted to actually say those words or refrain from saying them. I chose to refrain, and I still do. However, I do not criticise others for making whatever choice they make. I don't argue for or against public prayer, even though I consider an empty practice. I think efforts to increase religious influence on public policy are acting contrary to the US Constitution and, even more importantly, are fostering religious strife and needlessly endangering national security. 

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-17 6:03 PM

Since we're already off topic, I can't resist bringing this up.  OK, with the exception of Elaine Nelson, I suspect that virtually none of us were alive during the Depression, and of those that may have been, they were too young to remember.  Calling what happened in 2008 an "economic collapse" would most likely bring scorn, ridicule, and laughter from those who lived through the Depression.  There were no safety nets then; no social security; no welfare; no EBT card, and so on.  Was there uneployment insurance then?  I don't know.  We have it easy by comparison.  Where are the bread lines?  How many are starving?  Compared to many "3rd world" countries, we're rich, even in a down economy.  The only effect I've seen personally from this "collapse,"  has been a decrease in business in from 2009-2011.  We've improved a bit this year.  I haven't had to lay off anyone.  But, then, I'm not selling antiques or other nonesentials.  Neither am I in real estate, with its over-priced commodities.

We may or may not experience an economic collapse in the future.  But, according to Scripture, we'll still be buying and selling right up until the end.  And "sudden destruction" comes when cries of "peace and safety" are the watchword of the day.


Elaine Nelson
2012-09-17 10:38 PM

Jean, it was the Great Depression when FDR began many government helps for people. Some of highways, railroads, airports, and government buildings were constructed by those trademen who ere given work to make it honestly. I doubt there is anyone who would like dispense with them today; Social Security, the CCC and WPA that gave honest work for the 25% unemployment then. We have never begun to experience such unemployment and won't because of the safety nets that, thanks to the government, we should never experience again. It's really difficult to understand where some of the opinions here were formed. It seems like a totally different country they impression that has been left. But some are not based on facts because history doesn't lie, only one's distorted impressions.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-18 12:17 AM

You obviously don't read very broadly, Elaine. There is a large group of highly respected economists who factually develop the argument - widely recognized in academia and conservative intellectual circles - that FDR intensified and lengthened the depression by the programs you think saved the country. Maybe if you were a bit more widely read, you would be able to better understand how some of the Depression myths were created and why they are utterly false. You might want to start with Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man. Let me know when you have finished reading it, and maybe then we can have an intelligent discussion instead of alphabet soup bombast. Your assertion - "History doesn't lie." - is debatable, as history is always a distortion of past reality. Many deconstructionists have asserted that history is a lie. But one thing is certain: Those who recount history frequently lie. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-18 12:43 AM

We both should admit that where we form opinions are based from reading as well as life's experiences, plus early environment. 

 

I don't know what you call "reading broadly" as it appears that it infers that I have neglected to read what you have found to be very influential.  You mention it twice as if you want to make sure I understood you the first time.  I do recognize insults, and it could only be that it was your intent and nothing else. 

Most people must read of past history that they did not experience; others lived through those periods and naturally, have a different perspective.  What you call myths--did you learn from reading or did you live during that depression?  My impressions, unlike yours, is based on LIFE.  If you experienced that time personally, I retract my statements.

If you so casually dismiss others, which is seen repeatedly here, why do you believe that no others have positions worth reading or listening to?  If you wish to continue here, I, for one will refuse to comment or read anything you say in the future unless you retract your very insulting comments about my reading choices; choices which you have no knowledge but based only that you completely disagree with them. I am not here to catalog my reading choices for your information and insults.


Nathan Schilt
2012-09-18 3:20 PM

Elaine, listen to yourself: "It's really difficult to understand where some of the opinions here were formed." "It seems like a totally different country they impression that has been left [sic]." "Only one's distorted impressions lie." Are you not essentially saying "What planet are you folks from that you could swallow such lies and distortions?" Are you not confessing your ignorance of any respectable source of authority for viewpoints and conclusions that contradict your own? 

Now I find it incredulous that any well-read person would not be aware that some really bright historians and economists view the alphabet soup Depression economics as having been very harmful to the country and the recovery. So is it not reasonable for me to question how widely read you are? You see, I don't think you or Joe are from another planet, nor am I amazed that you think the way you do. I read The Nation, New Republic, Politico, The Huffington post, NYT, and Washington Post. And I know that your ideas and world view were influenced by a lot of really bright people - Herbert Croly, Charles Beard, Richard Hofstadter, John Dewey, to name only a few. I would expect a reasonably informed person to know the same about my likely intellectual influences. I am insulted when you suggest that there is no respectable source for opinions contrary to yours. And I quite reasonably make light of your pretensions of erudition.

Actually, I do have a pretty good idea of what you read, because some months ago, in a comment to a blog, you bragged about how widely you read by sharing your subscription list. I remember getting a chuckle out of it, because it didn't strike me as broad or deep. If you don't want to be insulted, don't insult others by impugning the provenance of their opinions. I don't dismiss your opinions. But I am derisive when you offer your opinions as self-evident propositions that only loons would dare to contradict.

And I am quite scornful of the notion that anyone can extrapolte from their life experiences, especially their pre-adult experiences, to contribute understanding to social, political, and economic issues of a historical era. My mother lived through that time period also, and believe me, she had views diametrically opposed to yours, as did most Adventists of that era. Wouldn't most historians agree that distance and objectivity give one much better historical perspective and understanding than personal experience? Do you really think that we have a better understanding of the meaning and import of contemporary currents of history than historians will a hundred years from now? If having experienced history in the making gives one credibility, why are you so disdainful of the eyewitness testimony of Biblical authors?

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-18 12:17 AM

You obviously don't read very broadly, Elaine. There is a large group of highly respected economists who factually develop the argument - widely recognized in academia and conservative intellectual circles - that FDR intensified and lengthened the depression by the programs you think saved the country. Maybe if you were a bit more widely read, you would be able to better understand how some of the Depression myths were created and why they are utterly false. You might want to start with Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man. Let me know when you have finished reading it, and maybe then we can have an intelligent discussion instead of alphabet soup bombast. Your assertion - "History doesn't lie." - is debatable, as history is always a distortion of past reality. Many deconstructionists have asserted that history is a lie. But one thing is certain: Those who recount history frequently lie. 

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:27 AM

Nathan,

A very interesting graph I saw a few months ago compared tax rates over the past century to the rate of growth in the American economy.  There was a direct inverse relationship between tax rates and economic growth.  The higher the taxes, the slower the economy.  Period.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-18 12:44 PM

Interesting. I'd like to take a look at the studies, if you have a link. I'll also check "carpe diem" - Mark Perry's blog site, and one of my favorites. Certainly there is a direct correlation between freedom of all kinds, and lower tax rates, although Foster seems to think freedom from God-fearing Christian political leaders should be the number one priority for Adventist voters. That effort has been successful during the past century. But I'm not sure that Stephen would care to live in any of those countries.

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:21 AM

Elaine,

The depression of the 1930s was the direct result of high taxes imposed on "the rich."  To be specific, the imposition of a 90% capital gains tax pushed the depression into it's worse phase and the economy began to recover only when the tax rate was cut.  Yet the popular concept today is to make "the rich" pay their "fair share."  There is nothing fair about it when 47% of the popluation pays no income taxes.  Calls to increase taxes on "the rich" is just populst envy and using the force of law to commit mass theft.  Unfortuantely, as history has demonstrated, that action will only result in great economic distress where the victims who suffer the worst will be the poor.

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:33 AM

Jean,

Call it a collapse, slowdown or whatever you want, 2008 was a warning bell revealing the instability of our economy because of the loose banking rules, the separation of risk from the investor, the ability to create fiscal scams like the mortgage crisis, etc.  Great danger awaits us and the next collapse will be sudden, but it need not take us by surprise because the start date is painted on our calendar: January 1.  That's when the largest number of new government rules and the highest tax increases in history go into effect.  We will all be impacted by it.  How much depends in a large part on how leveraged we are by debt.  How long will you be able to live off your savings if you lose your income?  How long will you be able to pay your debt?  What will happen to you if your creditors repossess/foreclose on the properties for which you owe money?

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-17 9:57 PM

To see true "brash arrogance" watch and listen to Romney's speech before very wealthy campaign contributors where he claimed that 47% of the population are free-loaders, want their food, healthcare, and to be taken care of and are dependents on the honest taxpayers.  47%?  That's nearly half of the population that he dismisses as those who don't want to work but receive benefits.


Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-18 7:46 AM

Does anyone know roughly the demographics of this lower 47%?  For example, how many Tea-Party types would fit within this 47% - not many, some or many?  If it is some or many, why would they vote for someone who so obviously doesn't care about them, but only for his elite rich backers?  

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:24 AM

Stephen,

There you go again chasing another chimera.  We would all be much more prosperous if the principles of sound fiscal management, reducing taxes, reducing the size of government and no deficit spending that are advocated by the Tea Party were practiced. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-18 11:00 AM

Could be William, but that doesn't seem to be an answer to my question.  

William Noel
2012-09-18 12:16 PM

The 47% are primarily defined by having an income level low enough that they do not have to pay federal income taxes.  A large portion of them are receiving some sort of benefit from the government in the form of food stamps, earned income credit, etc.  Liberalism has made these people dependant on the government so a large issue in their decision about what candidate gets their vote is the promises made about preserving the benefits they receive. 

earl calahan
2012-09-18 12:22 AM

With what name do we use to describe one accepted to be the chief arbiter of World financial theory &
practice, that has been a total disaster every where it was utilized as national policy? Maybe "idiot" may
be a compliment, rather than a slur. And how  does that reflect on the nations that still today are utilizing those same failed policies, such as Japan, Europe, and the USA. Because to admit failure is to admit defeat. But lets not be to hard on the poor fellows such as Greenspan & Bernake. Accept the fact they were only following orders of their international handlers pulling the strings. The Keynes theories
(Nobel Quality) were known to be a flawed theory, but were just what the City Of London Elite wanted
for their false flag "one world govt". The Austrian School free money system (noted above by Nathan), for many years has pointed out the faults of Keynesian theory; but it has been ridiculed by the Banker
Elites. We amateur Mba's, self taught observers of experience, non-Nobel prize winners, have pointed out the failure of Global inepitude, in choosing to confiscate citizens gold, and removing anything as collateral under girding the currency except the full faith & credit of the Soveriegn country's promise to
pay. Since 1913, when the Federal Reserve was formed in the USA, the American Dollar is now worth only 2% of its 1913 value. The World's fiat currencies are only worth the scrap value of the paper, because the governments printing them are all bankrupt. In the 1930's, many of the US Banks closed their doors & the depositors lost all their money. But no worry, right? Now we have government sponsored insurance on deposits, FDIC & SIPC, hmmm. Did you know these organizations have less than 1% of the amount of deposits. When the capitulation comes, the banks close. Where is your money?
Timo has mentioned a new paradigm, He is correct. The Industrial age is passe. The Information age,
initially, due to the brilliance of Bill Gates, Hewlett, Packard, & Steve Jobs, & Stanford Univ. Profs.&
other eclatic brains is leaping ahead by leaps & bounds. The USA is far & away the leader globally. It
has permitted the USA to create the most powerful military systems & hardware. Many that the public
knows nothing about. Incredible discoveries propelled forward by the computer speeds doubling every
year. No doubt, The 21st century belongs to China, that is if they aren't vaporized by the billions. But
that is perhaps beyond the next ten years. China currently spends only 10% of the amount the USA spends on defence. Three reasons why the rest of the world continues to buy the worthless Bonds of the
bankrupt USA is 1) if the USA stops buying China's wares, the world mercantilism collapses. 2) the USA has been the global Reserve currency since the late 1940's. 3) the USA has the most powerful
military war systems than the rest of the world combined. These are hard facts that the world faces.
The end times will be no bed of roses. Believe you don't like to know you can't do anything about it.
Perhaps you would rather not know these facts.The line has been drawn in the sand. A belief in the God
of the Bible will give us courage to face the future as these inevitable real & spiritual battles of the End
Times come upon the world. The longer it is drawn out the more innocent victims will be offered on the altars of the ungodly.   
 


William Noel
2012-09-18 9:16 AM

Earl,

You have touched on something from history that most modern economists and politicians dismiss or ignore: that economies have natural cycles and adjustment periods we call recessions.  What happens is (when not artificially stimulated or restricted by government interference) the economy goes along smoothly.  Prices remain stable.  Supply grows to meet demand.  Then something disruptive happens and the economy goes through an adjustment period as it adapts to this change.  A major change was the building of railroads in the 1800s.  There were at least two significant recessions/depressions as a direct result of railroads changing how people did things, what products they could buy, etc.  The prices of goods changed because now you could sell your crops to a buyer in a distant city and small town merchants could offer goods normally available only in the bigger cities.  The economy adjusted quickly and established a new normal where prosperity continued.  A typical recession/depression lasted less than one year.  Another big economic adjustment came from steamships enabling the rapid transportation of people and goods across oceans.  There were recessions at the end of two world wars and even the Korean War.  The arrival of the information age has brought us another such transition.

As you track the recessions of the 20th Century you find that they get longer and more severe as government tries increasingly to "manage" the economy.  That's right, government economic actions only make the situation worse.  The recession/depression of the 1930s was the direct result of government interference.  It got worse as more controls were put in place and taxes were raised on "the rich."  The deepest part of that depression was the direct result of the imposition of a 90% tax on capital gains.  That effectively stopped the rich from investing in new businesses.  Banks quit loaning money and the nation settled into a terrible period of economic distress.  No, World War II did not end the depression.  It created a situation where industrial leaders told the government they were unable to build the factories required to produce the goods needed to support the war effort so long as their taxes were so high.  FDR reluctantly cooperated with congress reducing the tax rate.  He wrote in his memoirs that the action was "the bitterest decisions of my life" because it was so contrary to his Socialist philosophy.

Today we have the makings of an even worse situation.  Where "the rich" were less than 3% of the population and less than 7% paid any income taxes in the 1920s, today 53% pay income taxes and on January 1 their tax rates are going to increase sharply.  Those increases are going to take more than $5,000 a year out of my paycheck.  That's going to hurt and start eating into my savings.  I know a number of people in more leveraged situations who could end up in bankruptcy because of the tax increases. 

Today we have a Federal Reserve that can decide to create money out of thin air by adding $40 billion a month to a money supply that exists primarily in their computers and has no basis in real value.  We have a president who doesn't care how deep the deficit goes so long as he can implement his social programs.  But there is a day of reconing coming when the economy will no longer be able to support such artificial valuation and our economy will collapse.  The tax increases that go into effect January 1 are the trigger that will, within a few months, plunge both America and the indistrialized world into the deepest depression in modern history.  The rate at which we recover depends entirely on how much government interference in the economy is reduced and how quickly that happens. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-18 3:51 PM

Thank you, William. It is very difficult to put all these vitally important realities into a compressed format. But where else are folks who live in Left wing echo chambers going to hear inconvenient facts?

If someone wants to read a primer on some of the liberal myths, Michael Medved has written a couple of very quick and compelling reads - Ten Big Lies About America, and Ten Big Lies About American Business.

If my tax rates go up as Elaine and Joe want them to, we will be letting go of one of our secretaries and our bookkeeper. We could get along without them now, but it's convenient to have them, and we can afford the convenience. How will it help the economy or the middle class when they are terminated? This will happen hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions of times - as small businessmen consolidate to mitigate the personal impact that the tax increases will have on them and their families. 

Of Course Elaine and Joe's response would be, "Fine, we'll just have to raise your tax rates even more to pay for more unemployment and food stamps." Uh-huh...keep going...have you gotten there yet? Now, who's going to pay for my unemployment? Oh I know...we'll have to take it out of Elaine's medicare. You know that heart valve you need? Sorry... And joint replacement? Out of the question...And university professors? Well gee...sorry we just can't keep loaning money to students that have no jobs when they graduate. You know, it's those darn rich people. They did it to us. They won't hire, and they won't let go of their money. But don't you just love how we're making everyone equal? You did your job well, but we don't really need you to indoctrinate students anymore. We won. But we will be happy to give you a nice supervisory poition in the Munkaszolgalat. 

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:11 PM

Liberals fail to understand that the amount of taxes they can levy is finite.  The day will arrive where either the producers revolt and throw out those who are abusing them or the nation collapses and the abusers use the symapthies of the takers to impose a harsh tyranny that uses violence to impose even more severe suffering on all but the elite few.

earl calahan
2012-09-18 2:39 AM

Please note the following for what its worth. i've just been informed that there is a general alert & mobilization of the military in Jerusalem. The person reporting this is the brother of a Protestant pastor living in Israel for the past 3 years. Supposedly they are being sent to reinforce all borders. He has never seen this type of operation since his arrival 3 years ago. That the Wailing wall is full of soldiers with additional full buses waiting their turn at the wall. He is reporting that the general public believes that the potus favors the Islamic countries, rather than Israel. That Obama is shuning Netanyahu. That the Israeli's will strike Iran in the next 45 days.

Bea
2012-09-18 5:00 PM

So here we are the day after the unveiling of Mitt Romney's political oops, Mitt, B. Buchanan, etc., etc., have been helping Mitt to smear the egg all over his face.  He is doubling down - unable to apologize for offending 50% of the nation.  Let's see where this goes between now and November.  Even the concervatives are unable to defend him!!

Jean Corbeau
2012-09-18 5:17 PM

All politicians say stupid things.  Obama did it with is "guns and religion" comment a few years ago.  I have no sympathy for any of them.  They will say anything to get elected, and try to explain away their gaffes.  By the time they get to the national level, they are all egotostical and elitist to some extent.  Maybe Harry Truman was the last "regular" guy to have been president (well, more regular than most, anyway).

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:04 PM

Bea,

It is just amazing how the mainstream media has jumped all over Romney's "gaffe" when everything he said was absolutely true and supported by government statistics!  It is just another indication of how scared the Obama campaign and his sycophants in the media are of Romney.  Neither Obama, his campaign or the mainstream media have any respect for truth.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-18 8:13 PM

Can I offer a thought experiment? Suppose empirical research overwhelmingly demonstrated, as our founders believed, that there is a strong correlation between religion and good citizenship. Suppose the research disclosed that churchgoing, Godfearing Americans are far less likely to engage in crime, less likely to become able-bodied dependents of the state, and less likely to have children out of wedlock. Suppose the research further disclosed that churchgoing, Godfearing Americans are far more likely to take education seriously, far more likely to be active in charity, and far more likely to be wealth generators.

Now I'm sure there is no evidence for such foolish propositions. But if there was, wouldn't it be reasonable for a political leader or a political party to encourage and affirm religious behavior as a promoter of good citizenship and healthy government?  

Surely those who believe in a living, breathing Constitution would have little difficulty concluding that encouraging and protecting religious piety and action is a far cry from state establishment of religion, no? Does encouragement of religion in general lead to intolerance of religion in particular? That seems to be Stephen Foster's hypothesis. And his corollary seems to be that respect for religion and religious expression is best secured by stamping them out of the public square and censoring them from political discourse.

We live in strange times...

William Noel
2012-09-18 9:00 PM

Nathan,

Back during the Clinton Administration the FBI's annual National Crime Statistics Report had a correlation between people arrested for various crimes and those who admitted to attending church.  The results were such a dramatic demonstration of church attendance preventing crime that Attorney General Janet Reno ordered that the Department of Justice cease collecting statistics on the topic.  (A close friend of mine who was a retired senior FBI administrator made me aware of it.) 

Now if you want to find church membership creating intolerance of other religious groups you need look no farther than the Church of Christ.  There's an old joke about Saint Peter giving a new arrival a tour of heaven and pointing out where the Adventists, Baptists, Methodists and others were clustered.  Off in the distance was another community.  "Who are they?" the newcomer asked.  "Oh, they're from the Church of Christ.  But don't try meeting them because they think they're the only Christians here." 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-19 2:32 AM

Does encouragement of religion in general lead to intolerance of religion in particular? That seems to be Stephen Foster's hypothesis. And his corollary seems to be that respect for religion and religious expression is best secured by stamping them out of the public square and censoring them from political discourse.
 
This is an example of populist demagoguery; but what other options are left?
 
No one has suggested that religion NOT be encouraged. Neither do I want the government discouraging it. I WANT religion encouraged. I simply do not want the government having anything to do with encouraging it.
 
I want religion and religious expression respected. I simply do not want the government respecting religion (with regard to its sponsorship or establishment) or intentionally sponsoring its expression. (The government should be indifferent to religion.)
 
The public square that I am concerned with in this context is government-owned property and government-sponsored events (as I've stated previously).
 
No one is censoring public discourse. I have pointed out that using the Lord’s name, and/or exploiting its nonuse, for partisan political purposes is using His name in vain. I have further suggested that my admittedly sectarian sensibilities have been alerted/disturbed by this. I have never suggested that this should be illegal, or that doing so should be prohibited. That would be censorship.   

William Noel
2012-09-19 8:50 AM

When a person has no other basis on which to give credibility to their viewpoint, demagoguery is all they have left.  That is the unfortunate situation in which Mr. Foster finds himself.  Bible prophecy is not being fulfilled in the ways he expects, so he conjures charges of church-state issues against any political candidate with whom he disagrees.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-19 11:24 AM

Stephen, I meant to say "the encouragement of religion in general by politicians.." Obviously, I know that you want to encourage religion in general. I used the word "public square" in the same sense that you used it. And I said "political discourse", not "public discourse." You may not want to call it censorship, but you repeatedly focus attention on conservative politicians who encourage religious values, and condemn that encouragement as somehow having eschatological significance for Adventists. I am simply suggesting by my hypothetical that, whatever validity there may be in your strained and politically biased analysis,  it is heavily outweighed by the salutary impact of a political atmosphere that welcomes and encourages religious institutions and values as vital intermediaries between individual and government, guarding against both unrestrained individualism and unrestrained government power. 

Michelle Obama has used her position to encourage healthy eating. But she has also emphasized the distinction between discouraging junk food and outlawing it. So what's wrong with politicans encouraging other types of "healthy" living practices? The First Amendment merely says "Congress shall make no law..." It doesn't say "Politicians may not use their positions to encourage religion." Politicians use their positions as bully pulpits to advance all kinds of value-based agendas, including agendas that are erroneously believed to be  Biblical, like being our brother's and sister's keepers and redistributing wealth in the name of Jesus. Why do you never seem to blog about those expressions being exploitations of God's name for political purposes? 

Tell me, is it also using the Lord's name in vain when a political party deletes references to God for partisan political purposes?

 

Joe Erwin
2012-09-19 8:06 AM

Let's all step back a minute and examine our own discourse.

We have many examples of over generalization, stereotypes, and other kinds of assertions that fail to recognize the range of variation in beliefs and attitudes of people who are identified by us, or by themselves, as belonging to some group (conservatives vs. liberals, producers vs. takers, rich vs. poor, etc.).

I respectfully request that we reconsider what we are doing when we label people in stereotypical ways. I imagine that very few of us really fit completely into any of these groups. Even if we identify ourselves with some label,  the label we choose is not the only one that fits, and others who self-identify in the same way don't necessarily agree with us.

This is just a plea for recognition of the diversity and complexity of us all. I hope giving each other (and ourselves) due consideration can lead to more respectful dialog than much of what we see here. Where I have been guilty of stereotyping and prejudice, I sincerely apologize and will try to be more considerate.

[Apologies to the Moderator. It is not my intention to usurp your role.]

Warm wishes to all.

William Noel
2012-09-19 8:44 AM

Joe,

Good point.  To which I would add that we should not be using stereotypes or personal paranoias as the basis for suspecting evil motives in others when they happen to be open about the role of faith in their life and be running for public office. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-19 12:09 PM

Amen Joe! I would add a suggestion which is difficult for all of us, including myself, to follow. What if, when we restate the argument of another in order to refine or attack it, we do our best to paraphrase or restate the other person's position in a way that would allow the other person to say, "Yes, that is a fair statement of what I am saying." Otherwise, we are just setting up straw men for ourselves to attack, and we will never move the argument to a higher level where we can clarify and refine nuanced differences.

For example, I inadvertently left out a qualifier last evening when I was paraphrasing what seemed to me to be Stephen's position. He pointed it out, thinking I intended to demagogue the issue, which was not at all the case, though I understand why he thought that, and I had an opportunity to clarify what I really meant. Now he may either say, "That's still not what I believe; I'm fine with politicians encouraging religion in their political discourse," or he may say, "You're right, I don't think any politicians, qua politicians, should be encouraging religion." If, as I suspect, he would subscribe to the latter statement, then we could move to the question of whether it is fair to accuse him of using selective political filters to criticize religious speech by politicians.

I winced when Timo "patted me on the back" for the trope "left wing echo chamber", because as you say Joe, that is an ad hominem stereotype that I would prefer not to indulge. My preference would be to avoid the partisan demagoguery that I have been guilty of participating in here. But I'm a political junkie, and am like a moth near a light bulb when the subject arises. That's why I tried to pull the discussion back to the ideological/philosophical issue that Stephen Foster framed. Had he done it in a less politically partisan manner, I suspect we would not have gone tearing off on our campaign buses. 

So you see, Stephen, it's all your fault (lol!).

earl calahan
2012-09-19 9:44 PM

Also found the visit to the ECHO chamber so humorous it is still reverberating between my tympanums. A tiny bit of levity is kool. Believe that often opposing viewpoints are basis for considering the sanity of  those left & right swingers. But-t-t, there is room for all. May the article of love & tolerance presented earlier by the love messenger, be visited before we answer impossible iterations. Now that we've owned up to being intolerant jack hammers, & patting ourselves on the back, oops, (each other), where do we go with this blog?
The governor of Calif. just signed into law,relief for religious groups in respect to their turbans, hijabs,
worship days ect. This supposedly in response to requests over many years by the church's Religious
Liberty dept's. Is this kosher for seperation of Church & State? Perhaps Sda's should have been
wearing turban's the past 80 years?? 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-20 5:33 AM

(As usual, I have no idea whatsoever what a couple of you are saying.)
 
Noel, I hate to disappoint you (well, not really), but  Bible prophecy is currently being fulfilled precisely as I have believed it would; which of course is why it was given in the first place.
 
I have no idea who will win this election, but I do know that either side is quite capable of doing that which has been prophesied—and that that which has been prophesied will occur.
 
You see, no matter what you say, or what insinuation or accusation of evil intent or association you ascribe to me or anyone else, I believe this: “In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.
Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines.”
GC 443
 
There is more that could be said and/or quoted; but let’s just say that I therefore vote so as to hopefully PREVENT the church from obtaining secular power.
 
In light of the above-cited quotation, I wonder if you understand why?
 


Nathan,
 
Thanks for clarifying what you had intended to say.
 
You meant to say, “Does encouragement of religion in general by politicians lead to intolerance of religion in particular? That seems to be Stephen Foster's hypothesis.” To which I reply: it can lead to intolerance of either a lack of faith/belief, or of minority faiths; something that, under “normal” circumstances, an SDA or a Mormon might be expected to understand.
 
Using the Lord’s name, and exploiting its concomitant nonuse, for crass partisan purposes—“by politicians” in a political setting exemplifies demagoguery.
 
Speaking of which, the demogoguery in your post was actually this sentence: “And his corollary seems to be that respect for religion and religious expression is best secured by stamping them out of the public square and censoring them from political discourse.”
 
My reply to this from my previous post will suffice; and we can substitute my having said “public (discourse)” with “political.”
 
Finally, it is nonsensical (to me) that not using—or deleting—the Lord’s name from a partisan political document is “using” His name in vain just the same.
 
You are literally creating a no-win situation. Use and nonuse can’t be the same.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-21 10:54 AM

Use and nonuse of course do not mean the same thing. But when one consciously deletes words, is it not legitimate to ask why? And the answers often reveal attitudes and beliefs. So yes, I think it is fair to argue that the Democrats felt it was important to delete the word "God" from their vision document because their leaders, and at least 50% of their convention delegates are, in general, hostile to the notion God is the source of fundamental human rights, as set forth in The Declaration of Independence. The pervervid attempts of the Left to confine religious assumptions and values to an increasingly constricted private sphere hardly strikes me as an endeavor that should make Christians or SDAs more secure in their religious freedom. Though I have to concede the logic that says only those who invoke the name of God can possibly take His name in vain. I'm just not sure it is fair to say that politicians who argue that we should acknowledge our rights are God-given, are doing so disingenuously or for partisan political purposes. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-21 1:07 PM

Here’s the deal, Nathan: I don’t know precisely what contextual language accompanies “God” in the GOP platform; and you have not cited what language accompanied His name prior to its initial deletion by their opposition.
 
You are making assumptions that may be correct about how both parties used, or decided not to use, His name. However they are assumptions; and these assumptions just so happen to serve your polemical interests. Pardon my saying so, but how convenient?!
 
What we know is that political advantage was being sought, and presumably gained, by notification and publication of the deletion of His name in a partisan political platform (thus proof, insofar as “using” His name in vain—for political purposes—is concerned).

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-21 7:17 PM

"...these assumptions just so happen to serve your polemical interests. Pardon my saying so, but how convenient?!"

Pardon my asking, Stephen, but do you ever listen to yourself?  It would really be nice - not to mention prudent - for you to resist snarky drive-by comments that ascribe polemical motivations to conclusions that I non-dogmatically suggest would be fair to reach. When you do so, you put such a huge target on your back. You have asserted - not as something that seems reasonable to assume - but as a fact, that we know Republicans did what they did for partisan politcal advantage. My suspicions of Democrats motivations are polemical. But your imputation of partisan political motives to Republicans is fact. Do you realize how ridiculous you appear when you accuse someone of doing something they have not done, and then you egregiously do (with italics no less) precisely what you have accused the other person of doing? That tactic only works for "The One" and his minions because he has a fawning press that won't call him on it. Here, naked hypocrisy is harder to conceal.  

Is there anything that either party actually sincerely believes, or do you think everything is just done for partisan political purposes? I happen to think that most Republicans, rightly or wrongly, see America as a predominantly Christian nation that functions best when it maintains the cultural and legal framework of values that is the fruit of its Judeo-Christian roots. Would you agree with that? If so, how can you know that their highlighting of the difference between them and the Democrats at the DNC was for partisan political advantage? How is the fact that Republicans chose to publicly attack Democrats on that issue proof of blasphemy? It is only proof of blasphemy if we all accept your polemical - dare I say demagogic - assertion that Republicans were motivated by partisan political advantage rather than by conviction, and outrage. Pardon my saying so, but how convenient?!

William Noel
2012-09-22 10:04 AM

Stephen,

In the interest of fairness, let's turn the question around and ask why the Democrats took God out of their platform for the first time in the history of the political party?  The answer is obvious to anyone who knows how political parties work: the leader of the party wanted it removed.  Since the president is a Democrat, he may not be chairman of the Democratic Party, but his wishes are fulfilled and the party does nothing without his consent.  Add that critical documentaries of the Obama Administration all point to Valerie Jarrett as the counselor whom Obama trusts most and the person whose advice he seeks before making any decision, it would appear that she had something to do with it.  Jarrett is one of the most viciously anti-religious people you will find in the history of American politics. 

But let's not stop there.  When conservative commentators pointed-out during the Democratic Convention that God had been removed from the platform, did you notice how quickly the party leadership scrambled to reverse themselves?  Why?  They were already in trouble with religious groups due to blatant attacks on religious freedom, support of gay marriage, etc.  So the answer is simple and obvious: they didn't want to give clear proof of being against religion.  Did you happen to notice the volume of the voice vote against returning mentions of God to the party platform?  That was a pretty clear demonstration of how the delegates felt on the topic.  If that many delegates to the Democratic National Convention were against returning mentions of God to the party's platform, how are we to believe that the party itself is not significantly against the free practice of religion in America?  And with such an obvious point of view, you still claim that your advocations for Obama are in defense of religious liberty?  It looks a whole lot more like you've been deceived and don't realize what you really supporting.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-21 10:11 PM

So, I guess you didn’t “pardon” me.
 
We know that there was political advantage to be gained by the “highlighting of the difference between [Republicans] and the Democrats at the DNC” on the “God” issue—or that Romney believed that there was. So, whether he actually believed, for example, that the motto might be removed “off our coins” or not, he believed that there was political gold in those hills.
 
Unquestionably, I cannot read minds; and when Romney used this incident to declare that “I will not take God out of my heart,” he may have been sincere.
 
Pardon my cynicism, but I just don’t recall anyone asking him to do so.
 
You have a point. I do assume that these guys are somewhat politically motivated.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-22 9:05 AM

The topic of this post is an important one. I appreciate that there is variation among us with regard to the extent that support separation of church and state--even though our SDA tradition has been to support a very bright line between church and state, i.e., a strong wall of separation.

I have been reading some about one of the presidential candidates and looking at his charitable giving, which has been mainly tithes and offerings to his church and closely related charities. I've also noted that some of the large donors to his super-PACs are people like Steven Lund, mormon from the Provo area, who disguised a donation of >$1 million under a false name ("F8"). This looks like fraud, although, maybe there is some technical way of explaining that it isn't. It is no secret, of course, that the LDS church was very active in promoting Prop 8 in CA. That might be understandable. It has seemed to me that many mormons have long resented the interference of the US federal government on the issue of polygamy. Sort of, "How is it that the government can tell us who we can or cannot marry, and allow other people to marry who ever they wish to?" I have seen claims that some of Mitt Romneys legitimate charitable donations found their way into the anti-prop 8 campaign, but I have seen no real proof of that.

I'm pretty familiar with the LDS religion (including the LDS reform movement), and I lived in SLC for awhile, took Bible and BoM lessons from a nice lady, etc. Being entirely committed to a separation of church and state, I do not want to any candidate's religion to be an issue. In my opinion, most religions are kind of strange (and I get that SDAs are proud to be "a peculiar people"). But what mormons believe, or claim to believe, is waaaaay out there on the scale of peculiar, and a part of that strange picture is NOT a bright line between their church and the state.

Please do not think that I am advocating stereotyping and religious prejudice. Let's be fair. I just urge that everyone who intends to vote should examine all the issues carefully, including examination of the various money trails.

BTW, has anyone noticed that Florida has banned early voting on the SUNDAY before election day? What is that about?  

Joe Erwin
2012-09-22 10:00 AM

Good point, Timo. All those unemployed parasites can vote any day of the week.

I must be missing something. I have to pay income tax on my Social Security income.... I began
paying into Social Security in 1955. I'm not in the 46% percent of Americans who pay no income tax,
even at age 71. I do have a small income from consulting, about the equivalent of my Social Security income. Of course, I have to pay estimate tax in advance, and I have to pay into Social Security and Medicare at twice the rate I would have to if I were employed by someone else. Never the less,
I am fine with "doing my fair share." I just wish people with earnings over $110K had to pay into Social Security on every dollar of income--that would quickly solve any fiscal problems with Social Security, at least if there were also a reasonable ceiling on the rate at which any individual receives in SS income.

So, Timo, do you think restricting voting on Sunday in Florida is a deliberate attempt to
disenfranchise employed people? Or could it be an attempt to interfere with voting by
Christians who have a pattern of voting after church on Sunday? The key might be to
see who introduced and pushed this policy.... 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-22 12:44 PM

To claim that 47% of the population pay no taxes is a deliberate and political lie.  Everyone employed pays taxes.  Income tax is only one source that the wealthy or familiar with because their income is usually from investments that pay a lower rate than employment taxes.  The employed pay SS and Medicare but those making over $106K yearly have no deductions after reaching that mark; and if their income is $107K or $1million, they pay nothing after that $106K cutoff.  It is estimated that most of the U.S. budget and SS would present an entirely different picture if that were eliminated.

Like Joe, I receive SS and Medicare benefits, paid for over a working period (mine and late husband's) for more than 50 years.  I also pay estimated taxes, both state and federal and taxes daily on purchases. 

Which party is making sure that the wealthy maintain their loopholes while complaining of the free loaders who "have no plans for their lives"?  How can one be president of all the people by dismissing 47% as seeking entitlements?

How many "entitlements" do the oil companies receive?  The farm subsidies are huge entitlements, but they are untouchable.  The defense industries are also heavily subsidized and yet poor, sick, and the elderly are dismissed as worthless. 

William Noel
2012-09-22 4:31 PM

Elaine,

You are correct that everyone pays taxes like social security and medicare.  But it is not a deliberate and political lie to state that 47% of the population does not pay federal income taxes.  That's a fact confirmed by the Internal Revenue Service. 

No oil companies or farmers receive any "entitlements."  The only "entitlements" in federal law are welfare programs. 

What you hear people talking about are actually the different tax rates imposed on various industries.  Usually such arguments are posed with the hope of raising tax rates on such businesses.  With particular regard to oil companies, those discussions ignore that oil companies pay more taxes to the government than any other industry.  Whenever you hear someone advocating increased taxation they are typically wanting to raise more income for spending on social programs. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-22 5:17 PM

Semantics. Chevron, AT&T, GE and other corporations are heavily subsideized y the government.  Does it make all the difference if they are not called "entitlements"?  Maybe "subsidies"?  Ethanol producers are liberally given aid, call it what you will, which results in corn prices for food for both humans and cows, to end up costing much more simply because one/third of the corn harvest must go to ethanol production.  What is the bottom line for the oil companies after their subsidies subtracted from their taxes?  Yes, the typical person thinks of "income taxes" when taxes are mentioned, because they affect us personally.
But how many are aware of the tax benefits for the wealthiest through loopholes, sending income to the Cayman islands or huge subisides to the great corporations?  Most people do not think or even know of this.

Romney called them "entitlements" and that is much more than not paying federal income taxes.  All seniors receiving SS and Medicare benefit from "entitlements" and they are the largest voting bloc.  And they are not properly called "entitlements" because recipients paid into them for a lifetime of work; like insurance, which is not an entitlement. and Medicare and SS are NOT welfare programs at all.  They are completely separate from other entitlement programs. 


William Noel
2012-09-22 8:34 PM

Subsidized by the government?  Where's your proof?  Check their annual reports.  They all pay taxes.  Their tax rates are far higher than the rates paid by any member of Congress!  They don't receive income from the government except as payment for specific services acquired under contract (Ex: the Air Force buying aviation fuel from Exxon-Mobil).  If somebody is claiming an industry is receiving a subsidy, their tax rates were approved by the Congress and signed into law by the president.  Maybe they're taxed at different rates than another industry.  Most likely the person making the charge just wants to raise taxes on that industry.  But the one thing you can be sure about is that any tax increase will come out of your pocket because the prices for the services they or commodities they provide will go up. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-23 12:15 AM

Who Takes the Gold for Tax Avoidance in 2011? | NationofChange

Apr 9, 2012 – The top spot went to General Electric, which made pre-tax profits of ... ExxonMobil is a leading U.S. taxpayer." ... From 2008 to 2010, Chevron paid less than 5% a year. ... The government has now lost four times in a litigation that has gone ... And oil companies take huge taxpayer subsidies, another load of ...

PayUpNow.org has selected the 'winners' of the 2011 Tax Avoidance Awards.

First a review of last year's results. The top spot went to General Electric, which made pre-tax profits of $44 billion from 2008 to 2010 but received almost $5 billion in refunds. A GE spokesperson added, "We are committed to acting with integrity in relation to our tax obligations."

A close second was Exxon, notable for having the nation's highest pre-tax earnings three years in a row, a 2% federal income tax payment rate, and hubris comparable to that of GE: "Any claim we don't pay taxes is absurd...ExxonMobil is a leading U.S. taxpayer."


William Noel
2012-09-25 4:24 PM

Elaine,

It might be wise if you learned to read the annual financial statements all public corporations are required to publish.  Let me give you an example.  Go to the Exxon-Mobile website and open their annual report for 2011.  There you will find that in 2011 the company had total revenues of $467.029 billion and paid taxes of $104.527 billion.  That's an effective tax rate of 22.38%.  That is a higher tax rate than the president's income tax rate last year (21%). 

Corporate financial statements typically paint a far different story than you see claimed in the media by the people who want to raise tax rates on corporations.  Something else they overlook is that businesses pass along the cost of taxes in the price charged for their products or services.  Do you want to see the gas tax raised by 5-cents per gallon to "punish" the "evil" oil companies.  Watch the price at the pump go up a nickel per gallon. 

All taxes come out of the pockets of taxpayers.  Your pocket and mine.

William Noel
2012-09-25 6:28 PM

Elaine,

Please be careful about how much credibility you give to statements from advocacy groups without checking their facts.  Such groups have agendas and select what information that can be stated in a way that supports their cause.  You mentioned PayUpNow.org, so I looked them up.  They advocate for tax increases on businesses.  So they make statements that are easily misunderstood.  For example, if they say a business "...paid only X% in federal taxes..." they are making it sound like the company was somehow evading their taxes when they actually paid all the taxes that were due.  Take the 22.38% total tax rate that Exxon-Mobil paid in 2011.  How did that amount divide out among the multitide of federal, state and local taxes?  Viewed individually they can look small when the combination is much larger. 

I think I've identified where you're gettting the idea that oil companies are being subsidized by the federal government: President Obama's campaign speeches.  He hardly goes anywhere but what he talks about the "subsidies we give to the big oil companies" and "the low tax rates paid by corporations."  He has a purpose in making such statements: making you think those companies are paying less than their fair share of taxes and that those taxes need to be raised.  The fact is that they pay their legally-required tax rates and pay their accountants considerable sums to make sure they are paying their entire tax liabilities.  But Obama has a larger objective with his remarks about oil companies: He wants to raise the price of oil and reduce the supply to make it so expensive that everyone will buy hybrid cars that run on biofuels that don't exist or are all electric and powered by the wind and solar farms that will be too small to meet the need. 

Remember, whenever the state legislature or Congress raises taxes on businesses, you pay the tax in higher prices for the goods and services those companies produce or provide.  Can you afford to pay $8  or even $20 a gallon for gasoline?  Would you like your electric rates doubled or tripled?  How about upped ten-fold?  That's what Obama wants to do.  He's trying to lead you into being sympathetic to those increases by claiming businesses like oil companies are receiving "subsidies."  The whole effort is just one great big scam.

William Noel
2012-09-27 11:06 AM

Elaine,

Since the article you quoted also mentioned GE and Chevron, I've taken the time to look at their 2011 financial statements.  Here's what I found.

Yes, GE's tax rate was less than 5%.  The actual rate was 3.89%.  But there are good reasons for that: permitted accounting of expenses for investments in new businesses, losses in some business sectors, depreciation of capital equipment and-- note this-- substantial investment in Government bonds.  Yes, GE Capital bought government bonds and all investment in them is tax free.  So GE paid their full tax liability.  By the way, if you invest in government bonds you can take the same discount on your taxes.

Chevron's effective tax rate in 2011 was 16.96%, I did not calculate their rates for the two prior years but did note that they took allowable write-downs on income in those years for such things as investment in major equipment required to support operations. 

The bottom line here is that the article you quoted was misleading because they either made incorrect statements or they presented the facts in a manner designed to support their agenda while ignoring the reasons behind the reality. 

Please, be careful when you start believing that the government "subsidizes" or gives "tax breaks" to corporations.  We actually have the highest corporate tax rates in the world.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-22 11:03 AM

Noel,
 
Quite unfortunately, you have a documentable history of playing fast and loose with the facts; and thus not playing fair.
 
God has not been mentioned, by name, in previous Democratic platforms (like 1972 for example); so your premise is in error.
 
I have no idea on what you base your accusation regarding Valerie Jarrett, but I’m sure it is from a totally neutral, non-partisan source; or otherwise unbiased observation. (Obviously, my tongue is in my cheek.)
 
Likewise, your claim that the President personally instructed that God’s name be omitted/removed from the platform is also, unfortunately, without evidence.
 
The reinsertion of the Lord’s name, via a bogus voice vote, was noted in the blog (you may want to read).
 
Not mentioning the Lord’s name is not the same as being against religion. Mentioning His name is not necessarily the same as being religious, or of favoring religion. (I’d think Nathan would agree with this.)
 
My question to you is whether you understand why, in light of the GC references I have repeatedly cited, you understand why I vote so as to hopefully prevent the church from obtaining civil power.
 
Should I cite them for you again?

William Noel
2012-09-23 1:06 PM

Stephen,

Let's try this again in less direct language.

Here is what I see in your statements.  You start with letting your political allegiance blind you to obvious and overt actions by the Obama Administration that infringe on liberty in general and specifically on religious liberty.  Then you seize upon a simple personal declaration of faith by Gov. Romney and imagine that it is evidence of intent to unite church and state or at least infringe on religious liberty.  Then you present what you have imagined as proof that a prophecy is being fulfilled.  You finish by trying to refute contrary viewpoints by asking if I believe a certain prophetic statement is true with the measure being whether or not I agree with your imagined fulfillment.  

The credibility of the prophetic statement is not an issue.  It is what you imagine is the fulfillment of of that prophecy and whether what you present as evidence is credible.  You have taken a simple and personal statement of faith by Gov. Romney and exploded it into supposed proof that a Romney presidency would result in infringements on religious liberty.  Then you present no evidence to support your claim and refuse to give any credibility to evidence refuting your imagination 

I believe there are at least two reasons for your course of action.  First is what you have demonstrated in the past, that your political loyalty is to Liberal-Socialism and Barack Obama, in particular.  As a result you have reflexively dismissed all reminders about the well documented attacks on religious liberty by the Obama administration.  Second is your lack of knowledge about Mormons and that they are among the most vigorous defenders of religious liberty that you will find on the planet.  As a result I find it impossible to give your imagination and claims any credibility. 

Over the half-century I've been in the church there has been a continual string of defenders of religious liberty who have done the same things you are doing.  Not a single one of their prophecies or claimed threats to religious liberty has ever come true.  Instead it was the political candidates they were presenting as defenders of religious liberty or a non-threat who turned out to be the ones who attacked religious liberty.  But perhaps the most terrible result of it all has been how many of those defenders of religious liberty found their faith ending in ruin when the things they warned against did not happen and their claims were shown as false.  So I fear for the endurance of your faith in the future. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-24 12:28 AM

Of course, you won’t answer my very simple, very direct, non-threatening question as to whether or not you understand why, in light of the GC references that I have repeatedly cited, that I vote so as to hopefully PREVENT the church from obtaining civil secular power in the U.S.
 
(What you just may want to observe and research is the fidelity with which Mormons observe what they consider “the Sabbath” in the U.S.; as well as hopefully noticing their stated reasons for doing so.)
 
How you can say that none of the prophecies are in fulfillment process and that religious liberty has never been threatened is at once astonishing, sobering, and scary.
 
Of course, I suppose, the only way for these things to happen, is for the ostensibly devout to believe they won’t.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-23 12:43 AM

“When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of ‘heresy.’ In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.

“Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience.” GC 443
 
“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.

“The beast with two horns ‘causeth [commands] all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.’ Revelation 13:16, 17. The third angel's warning is: ‘If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.’ ‘The beast’ mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13--the papacy. The ‘image to the beast’ represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas.” GC 445.
 
My question remains for Noel, in light of the above-cited references (which is representative of a tiny snippet of a larger theological framework); do you understand why I vote so as to prevent the church from obtaining secular or civil power?
 
I am not asking you if you are familiar with these references. I am asking you if you understand why it is important that the church not obtain secular and/or civil power in the U.S.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-23 10:29 AM

Your right of course, Stephen! Better Red than Christian.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-23 11:33 AM

Huh?
 
Are you trying to demagogue again?
 
You’re an attorney. We all know you can make a better case than this. While you’re at it, perhaps you can answer the same question posed to Noel.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-23 2:48 PM

No, Stephen. I think you understand my point very well. You are so myopically focused on a theology that justifies (no - compels) Adventists in voting for secularist political positions and candidates that you refuse to consider the reality that there has been no more intense oppressor of religion in history - no more brutal murderer of God-fearing people - than secular governments. You rationalize your political preference for the Left by saying, "That doesn't matter. All SDAs need to be concerned about is fulfillment of prophecy that posits a Christian religious power gaining control of government. We needn't be concerned about secular persecution of religion, because we know that we are in no danger of the last day events that auger Christ's imminent return unless Christians are in control of the levers of government."

What about the possibility that Obama might, like Constantine, suddenly undergo a true religious conversion and say things like, "Our individual salvation depends upon our collective salvation;" or - my political philosophy is guided by the Biblical admonition that I am my brother's keeper." Do you want me to go on? Of course those statements aren't blasphemous, are they? Those statements aren't for partisan political purposes, right?

And as long as you assure us that the theology which guides your political philosophy is not advanced for partisan political purposes, you are not being blasphemous. On the other hand, if you assume that a conservative Republican is invoking religious values because he thinks those values should inform political positions, that is blasphemous.

To answer your question, no I am not concerned about God-fearing people having political power, and I certainly do not view that possibility as portending First Amendment mischief. And I think you vote the way you do because you believe in the political positions of those you vote for. I think it has zero to do with your interpretation or the church's interpretation of prophecy. And I think that you are only concerned about conservative Christian obtaining secular/civil power in the U.S. I am confident you would vote for Jim Wallis over a conservative atheist in a heartbeat.

I'm curious. Do you think Ellen White had any idea that militant state religions of atheism would dominate Twentieth Century global politics? If not, why not? Was God afraid that prophetic acknowledgement of the reality of secular progressivism, which resulted in the slaughter of more people than all the wars of history combined, might distract folks from the hairy hidden hand of the Pope and Billy Graham? Do you believe in conditional or contingent prophecy? Or do you think that such notions only apply to interpretation of the Bible? Why don't you use prophecy to argue that The Second Coming has already occurred? Didn't Ellen White prophesy that some alive at the time she spoke, would still be alive at the Second Coming?

Stephen Foster
2012-09-23 8:51 PM

Here’s the difference Nathan, I believe that EITHER side is subject to the church influencing it to enforce the church’s dogmas (via the civil power each side seeks); because I see this very thing (the church obtaining power and influence over secular institutions for such purposes) as the danger.
 
You do not agree with White that this is the danger; thus our disagreement. I have previously pointed out that this is at the heart of our disagreement. This is why I frequently have offered the disclaimer that my perspective is sectarian.
 
There is nothing that I can do, at this stage, to persuade you that Ellen White’s perspective on this is inspired. You have obviously concluded that it is not; while I have concluded it is.
 
You surmise that the reason for my conclusion is political. I certainly surmise that the reason for your conclusion is political.
 
Let’s stipulate, for sake of discussion, that politics influences both of our separate/individual conclusions.

How does the reality that I sincerely believe that EITHER SIDE is susceptible to the dangers I perceive factor into this?
 
As you’ve indicated, regarding religion, the left can/does play politics when convenient/necessary; whereas I think many conservatives may believe their rhetoric. (Not that they don’t play politics too.) I am more suspicious of the true believers. Clearly, we have no prophetic revelation as to any political party or ideological labeling. Therefore Nathan, from a prophetic standpoint, I am quite appropriately wary of both sides; while more suspicious of the true believers.
 
You, not believing the GC scenario, are in for a rather rude awakening. 

William Noel
2012-09-24 10:17 AM

Stephen,
 
You keep challenging us about believing prophetic statements in The Great Controversy.  I repeat my challenge to you to become aware of the basis of the social philosophy for which you advocate in your support of President Obama.  It is impossible to give any credibility to your arguments until we know that you are fully aware of that philosophical foundation.
 
Obama has made his objective clear: radical transformation of America implementing liberal-socialist objectives as described in the works of people like Karl Marx, Frank Marshall Davis and Saul Alinsky.  In the past I have asked if you had read any of those authors and you dismissed them as irrelevant.  They are, in fact, absolutely essential because they are the teachers whom Obama states he has studied with greater intensity than any other.  Not once does he mention having ever studied the Bible except to understand the teachings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who is a teacher of Black Liberation Theology, which is based on Marxism.
 
The central teachings of socialism are: 1) Personal liberties must be surrendered to the service of the state and exercised only as permitted by the state, and: 2)  All faith in God must be destroyed and all religion removed from society unless it has been subverted to support the state.  In other words, the foundation of socialism is anti-God.  
 
In “Rules for Radicals” Saul Alinsky explains that successfully integrating socialism into society requires keeping the advocates of other philosophies in confusion and argument.  This is best done by assaulting opponents with charges against which there is no defense.  Your practice of seizing any possible statement by someone you oppose politically and using your fertile imagination to explode it into proof giving evidence to prophetic statements is a clear demonstration that you are following Alinsky’s instructions.  Following his instructions, you phrase your questions about belief in prophetic statements in such a way that any disagreement with your imaginary premise is to deny the authority behind that statement and, by extension, belief in God. 
 
Obviously you are either unaware or denying that the real purpose of your question is to advance speculation that will eventually destroy faith in God.  I choose to believe you are simply unaware.  Socialism is a direct assault on God and all who are true followers of God.  So I challenge you to study the foundations of the philosophy embraced by Obama and many others so you can learn their true objectives.  As you study, compare those teachings to the principles described in scripture to see the differences.  Only after you have done that study will we be able to give any credibility to your arguments.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-24 10:46 AM

Stephen, of course, is quite capable of speaking for himself on this issue, but I find these continuing claims that President Obama is a "socialist" or even, a "communist," to be rather reminiscent of the early 1950s communist scare promulgated by Joseph McCarthy. The paranoid "McCarthyism" of that era has somehow survived across the years in the minds and writings of paranoid people and those who are vulnerable to such conspiracy notions, and these just get trotted out as convenient to attempt to impeach the credibility of political opponants. I'm afraid SDAs may be among the vulnerable on such matters because so many of us who were raised as adventists were not adequately prepared to examine information very carefully or critically. 

William Noel
2012-09-24 12:01 PM

Joe,

Study what I have asked Stephen to read and then see if you can repeat your dismissal.  Doing that is what opened my eyes on the topic.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-25 5:33 PM

William, I am quite confident that President Obama is not at all inclined toward the socialist agenda you claim is his. The fact that he has read widely and considered ideas thoughtfully, as many educated people have, does not mean that he has any ambitions of implementing the ideas of the people you cite. It is important to know what ideas others may be implementing or wishing to implement in other places--that's just part of being well-informed. You have made some very large leaps in your reasoning. That is not unusual here, of course. Many of the participants here are quick to reach conclusions that do not have a firm basis in evidence. And, from time-to-time, we see statements here that suggest that relying on evidence is wildly misleading. Some, apparently, are already living almost entirely in the supernatural dimension.  

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-25 7:11 PM

I understand your conclusions, Joe. But you really haven't offered any evidence to support your view that it is ludicrous to think that Obama might have strong Marxist leanings. William Noel and I have offered abundant evidence of intellectual and spiritual influences claimed by Obama, that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that he is a Marxist. What influences or statements would you offer to counter that evidence? What do you think he would do or say differently, given the present political realities in America, if he really was a Marxist?

You can't get away with the empty dismissiveness of Jay Carney here. If we're leaping to conclusions; if our conclusions don't have a firm basis in evidence; if we're living almost entirely in a supernatural dimension, then isn't it incumbent on you to respond to the evidence we have offered? If, on the other hand, you don't consider what Obama has said, or who he has claimed as the important intellectual and spiritual influences on his life, as being of evidentiary value when it comes to determining his political philosophy, then I guess the question is - What would you consider relevant?

Joe Erwin
2012-09-25 10:11 PM

Dear Nathan and William, I want my reply to you to be honest and constructive. If I understand what is being suggested, it is that Dreams from My Father includes statements by Barack Obama that indicate that he is a socialist, or even a Marxist, at heart. I read the book pretty carefully about five years ago, but I did not remember getting the same impression you expressed.

It is quite easy to find quotations from Rush Limbaugh and similar characters that are similar to what you two have mentioned. Other web sources disagree, but, of course, that is not surprising. So, I am rereading Dreams with an eye to find any indications upon which one might base or imagine socialist or Marxist sympathies. So, rather than being unresponsive, I will respond in a couple of days when I finish re-reading the book. 

William Noel
2012-09-26 8:48 AM

OK, here's my recommended reading list to help you understand where Obama is coming from.  Read them and tell me if you are still able to defend him.

"The Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx and Josef Engels.
Any of the published works by Frank Marshall Davis.
"Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky.
"The Amateur" by Ed Klein.
"The Price of Politics" by Bob Woodward.
"Obama's America" by Dinesh D'Souza.
"Dreams from my Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama (pay particular attention to his narrative about what teachers he sought and why during his education).

Joe Erwin
2012-09-26 5:23 PM

Are you serious? Look, I'm re-reading Dreams. After that, I will make a comment, and then I will read something else, but not necessarily from your list. I intend to read Woodward's book. Maybe some others. It has been awhile since I read Marx, but I do not yet see any connection with Marx, Davis, or Alinsky. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. By the way, I'm quite sure the President does not need me to defend him, so that is not my purpose here. I am doing some reading to try to see why some people make the kinds of claims you have made. I have read a number of sources that indicate that your claims are unfounded, but I want to be fair and try to understand what your perspective is based on.

William Noel
2012-09-27 10:36 AM

I appreciate your efforts at fairness and commend you for being willing to study and understand the basis for a contrasting opinion.  That is far more noble and credible than simply arguing opinions. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-24 1:23 AM

I don't think I've ever said that Ellen White's perspective on this issue is not inspired - though I can understand how you would make that assumption. I just don't believe that prophecy should be cast in concrete. I think Ellen White's prophetic vision was certainly a plausible path for history to take at the time. But SDA understanding of prophecy has always been that it is contingent and conditional. God doesn't lock Himself into the vision that He communicates to humans to send them wake-up calls. Furthermore, it has always seemed to me that Ellen White's references to Spiritualism very much fit with the postmodern gods of secularism. 

I really would be interested in your perspective on Ellen White's statement that some in her audience would still be living at the second coming.

The dangers you perceive should, in my opinion, factor into politics very little because, as you say, either side is susceptible to using government to establish religion - and vice versa, and most all of that rhetoric is populist. If, as you say, either side is susceptible, then don't we kind of have to let the wheat grow with the tares? We can't know until the time comes, which side is going to use religion, or be used by religion, to oppress God's people. So the best way to avoid the dangers you perceive is to have a freedom-loving, citizenry that places high value on a government of dispersed and limited powers. Where the People loose their passion for freedom, and look to the government for their security and well-being, religious liberty is no more vulnerable to the pieties of the Right than to the collectivists and central planners on the Left. Either one, without limitations on its power, will use whatever power it has at its disposal to trample dissenters and advance the common good as she/he sees it. And I tend to distrust the party the promises more security and prosperity in exchange for freedom.

On a related note, it seems to me that, ever since Obama's community organizing days in Chicago, he has seen the church as a vital force in pushing political agendas. His campaign strategists intentionally and deliberately push Black churches to get out the vote, and to vote Democrat. He was steeped in the highly politcal Black Liberation theology. So I'm not sure that it is reasonable to be more wary of true believers. My experience is that using the pulpit overtly for political purposes would not go over well in many White churches, though I admit that my experience is limited. So in a very real sense, I wonder if using religion to advance a political agenda is not far more prevalent on the Left than on the Right.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-24 7:37 AM

We should all be aware that there has been an effort for several years to promote freedom of speech from the pulpit. Anyone can check to see who has waged and supported this campaign. Legislation on this has been repeatedly introduced. A current version of this campaign is "Pulpit freedom sunday," scheduled for October 7, 2012. This is portrayed as a challenge to the IRS regarding the prohibition for nonprofit groups to advocate political candidates. Churches and other nonprofits risk losing their nonprofit status if they advocate political candidates.

This current campaign is being pushed by an organization called "Alliance Defending Freedom." It is described as a conservative group, but check it out for yourself and see what you think. Lobbying organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the American Rifle Association are very much involved in writing and pushing legislation and advocating for and against political candidates, but somehow, they are able to get away with it--probably by claiming that these are an "insubstantial" portion of their activities. Ah well, for those who are interested, have a look into this.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-24 11:07 AM

Yes, I think you are right, Joe. I'm sure there are ethnic groups and regions of the country where there is such overwhelming sentiment for one candidate that their churches can be turned into a political machine. My personal experience is in churches that have far too much ethnic, political, and ideological diversity to even be tempted in such a direction.

I'm not sure what I think about the extent to which non-profits should be able advocate for political candidates. "Causes" vs "candidates" seems to be an artificial distinction. And of course unions and the press are extremely out front in pushing political candidates. Everyone who has a microphone or an electronic device with web access is an advocate, whether they admit it or not. And the more money you have, the more effective you will be in getting your message across. The government itself is a huge source of funding for political advocay. Once we start censoring one group, we are giving more power to another group. The same folks who want to kick Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity off the air scream CENSORSHIP when anyone suggests that maybe unions, Hollywood, and the MSM have too much political influence. Another part of the problem is enforcement. We see from current DOJ policies that government authorities are increasingly selective in choosing when to enforce the law. "Pulpit freedom Sunday" - something I have no use for - is in large part a reaction to the reality that the IRS looks the other way when groups, favored or feared by those in power, function as political machines.  

Joe Erwin
2012-09-24 12:38 PM

This issue has only been enforced twice that I know of. Those of us who support separation of church and state might need to request that the DoJ and/or IRS actually address this issue.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-24 2:28 PM

How many people are employed by the campaigns and those directly influenced by them? A billion dollars injected into the economy through campaign and campaign related expenditures must have some effect. 

With no intention of being too cynical, aren't the media giants and their employees the greatest direct beneficiaries (after the direct campaign staffs)? Can anyone say "Conflict of interest" about that? 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-24 7:16 PM

Nathan,
 
You “don’t believe that prophecy should be cast in concrete”? What does that mean?
 
I am not sure, and really rather doubt, that you have ever actually stated that you do not believe “Ellen White’s perspective on this issue is not inspired;” but it’s a relief to see that at least you understand why I have definitely long assumed that you do not.
 
You are misinformed in that “SDA understanding of prophecy has always been that [prophecy] is contingent and conditional”—or it isn’t. You have mistakenly understood that it’s just contingent and conditional; when the reality is that it is either contingent (thus conditional) or it is as sure as anything.
 
Contingent and/or conditional prophecies are dependent on whether or not humans do or don’t do something that triggers the divine response.
 
The conditional/wake up call prophecies to which you perhaps refer are of this nature.
 
Prophecies such as are found in Abraham’s intercession for Sodom in Genesis 18:17-33, the blessings and cursings of Deuteronomy 28, the promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14, and Isaiah 58:13, 14 are some of the more prominent examples of contingent or conditional prophecies.
 
The prophecies of Genesis 3:15 and the image of Daniel 2, the messianic prophecies of Isaiah, and the Second Advent promise of Acts 1:11, and those of Revelation 12 and 13 are examples of prophecies that had to or have to happen.
 
(I know that we’ve covered this territory.)
 
As for using the pulpit overtly for religious purposes being a unique province of the left, I would simply ask you to remember the likes of Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy and John Hagee. In other words, both sides do it.
 
Forgive me, but I find your advice that “the best way to avoid the dangers [I] perceive is to have a freedom-loving, citizenry that places high value on a government of dispersed and limited powers” somewhat self-serving and hollow BECAUSE ,  a) you don’t buy into the fact that these dangers I perceive are real, and b) because the dangers I perceive WILL prophetically—IN THE NAME OF RELIGION AND FOR THE EXPRESSED PURPOSE AND SAKE OF ENFORCING RELIGIOUS DOGMA—emanate from, be in defiance of, and be contradictory to a freedom-loving citizenry which “places high value on a government of dispersed and limited powers”.
 
“The founders of the nation wisely sought to guard against the employment of secular power on the part of the church, with its inevitable result--intolerance and persecution. The Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States." Only in flagrant violation of these safeguards to the nation's liberty, can any religious observance be enforced by civil authority. But the inconsistency of such action is no greater than is represented in the symbol. It is the beast with lamblike horns--in profession pure, gentle, and harmless--that speaks as a dragon. GC 442
 
“The doctrine of eternal torment [to this I might add biblical creationism] has led many to disbelieve the Bible. And as the claims of the fourth commandment are urged upon the people, it is found that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is enjoined; and as the only way to free themselves from a duty which they are unwilling to perform, many popular teachers declare that the law of God is no longer binding. Thus they cast away the law and the Sabbath together. As the work of Sabbath reform extends, this rejection of the divine law to avoid the claims of the fourth commandment will become well-nigh universal. The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to spiritualism, and to contempt for God's holy law; and upon these leaders rests a fearful responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world. GC 587
 
Yet this very class put forth the claim that the fast-spreading corruption is largely attributable to the desecration of the so-called ‘Christian sabbath,’ and that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of society. This claim is especially urged in America, where the doctrine of the true Sabbath has been most widely preached. GC 587
 
“Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience. GC 588
 
“As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. GC 588
 
“Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium. GC 588, 589
 
“Satan's policy in this final conflict with God's people is the same that he employed in the opening of the great controversy in heaven. He professed to be seeking to promote the stability of the divine government, while secretly bending every effort to secure its overthrow. And the very work which he was thus endeavoring to accomplish he charged upon the loyal angels. The same policy of deception has marked the history of the Roman Church. It has professed to act as the vicegerent of Heaven, while seeking to exalt itself above God and to change His law. Under the rule of Rome, those who suffered death for their fidelity to the gospel were denounced as evildoers; they were declared to be in league with Satan; and every possible means was employed to cover them with reproach, to cause them to appear in the eyes of the people and even to themselves as the vilest of criminals. So it will be now. While Satan seeks to destroy those who honor God's law, he will cause them to be accused as lawbreakers, as men who are dishonoring God and bringing judgments upon the world. GC 591
 
“God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan's constant resort--to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce--is compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of the law of God. GC 591
 
“Those who honor the Bible Sabbath will be denounced as enemies of law and order, as breaking down the moral restraints of society, causing anarchy and corruption, and calling down the judgments of God upon the earth. Their conscientious scruples will be pronounced obstinacy, stubbornness, and contempt of authority. They will be accused of disaffection toward the government. Ministers who deny the obligation of the divine law will present from the pulpit the duty of yielding obedience to the civil authorities as ordained of God. In legislative halls and courts of justice, commandment keepers will be misrepresented and condemned. A false coloring will be given to their words; the worst construction will be put upon their motives. GC 591, 592

“As the Protestant churches reject the clear, Scriptural arguments in defense of God's law, they will long to silence those whose faith they cannot overthrow by the Bible. Though they blind their own eyes to the fact, they are now adopting a course which will lead to the persecution of those who conscientiously refuse to do what the rest of the Christian world are doing, and acknowledge the claims of the papal sabbath. GC 592
 
“The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict we shall see exemplified the prophet's words: "The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Revelation 12:17 “GC 592
 
(Underlines all inserted by me, for emphasis.) This preceding is seen as anachronistic paranoia. 

William Noel
2012-09-25 8:57 AM

Stephen,

Nathan is correct.  God told us what He is going to do or what will happen, not HOW it is going to do happen or how He will do it.  People who chase "evidence" to prove fulfillments quickly find their track record very discrediting.  You have better odds of winning in Las Vegas than finding credible evidence of specific prophecies being fulfilled, in particular when that "evidence" is based on possible answers to the speculative propositions you describe.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-25 10:02 AM

We are not privy to the political affiliations or the ideological labels (or leanings) of the civil and religious leaders who will fulfill the prophecies of Revelation 13:14-17.
 
We do know what they’ll do and in what entity/nation they will do it.
 
We know it will be civil and religious leaders, whereby religious leaders will influence civil leaders/authorities to enact an enforcement of the recognition of a false religious observance.
 
I use the word “we” generally because this is in the context of the avoidance OR receipt of the mark of the beast, according to Seventh-day Adventist eschatology.
 
We know who, what, where and why; so to some extent we know how.
 
What we don’t know is precisely when. Some of us believe that we are near the end; thus it’ll be soon.

William Noel
2012-09-25 2:18 PM

If we are not "privy to the political affiliations or the ideological labels (or leanings)" of leaders, why do you continually cast suspicion against conservatives while blindly overlooking the attacks of liberals on religious liberty?  How is it you can remain so loyal to Obama when he has been doing the very things you accuse others of maybe/possibly doing? 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-25 4:02 PM

Stephen F.,

The inability to succinctly present personal opinions that offer reasons that may be easily understood, is reflected in the tendency to "cut and paste" massive paragraphs of several pages from a writer for whom the commenter has surrendered as a substitute for his own thoughts.

A single sentence, or two should be all sufficient; if not, realize that most will pass over such lengthy quotations as substituting for serious personal evaluation. Or for those few who are willing to listen to a sermon that is reading entirely from a book.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-25 5:49 PM

Clearly, Noel, you do not read some of my responses to Nathan, for example.
 
I’m wary of both sides. Either side is susceptible to political pressure and ambition; but I am obviously and admittedly much more suspicious of those who openly question the principle of separation of church and state, who advocate the use of government property as venues for sectarian religious expression and for the use of government funds to pay for education that includes religious instruction; and who campaign for, or encourage the use of civil power or public policy to “return America back to God” or to “win the nation for Christ.”
 
“The founders of the nation wisely sought to guard against the employment of secular power on the part of the church, with its inevitable result--intolerance and persecution.” GC442
 
“In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.
 
Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines.” GC 443
 
Do you understand why I vote to so as to prevent the church from obtaining secular power?
 
 
 
Elaine,
 
You amuse me. I have been blogging on this site for over three years and have been the most frequent contributor of opinion commentary of any blogger or columnist to other blogs and columns. I have also responded to much, if not most, of the comments to my own blogs with very many personal opinions.

I purposely cut and paste sections of GC (exclusively) to comments and responses to comments on my blogs because it has occurred to me that these passages have never actually been read by some of you; and because they represent the paradigm from which I operate on these issues.

William Noel
2012-09-26 8:43 AM

Does this mean you are going to stop using speculation and questioning of motives and meanings to cast doubt on the character and plans of people just because they oppose your favored candidate and/or social policies?

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-24 8:55 PM

With conditions as "contingency" why can't anyone prophesy the future as it will either occur, or it won't.  Odds like that in poker would be fantastic!

Stephen Foster
2012-09-24 9:09 PM

I like to simplify things too Elaine. It’s practically just a matter of grammatical structure. If it’s a conditional sentence, it’s likely a conditional prophecy. When in doubt, you might look for the word “if.”

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-24 9:46 PM

Whenever I see a sentence beginning with "If" I know it's always contingent. 

Isn't this the 2300-day prophecy in a nutshell:  if the order to return to Jerusalem occurred on a certain date; and if Crozier's "vision in the cornfield was a vision given to palliate the disappointment of Christ not returning when predicted; and if there is a sanctuary in heaven; and if He went from one compartment to another; and if there is an actual sanctuary in heaven; well, maybe there is some truth in this strange belief.

Mormonism isn't so strange when comparing with this belief.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-25 11:49 AM

It always worries me a little when "evidence" is portrayed as a bad thing....

Stephen Foster
2012-09-25 12:55 PM

I’m not too sure that Joe didn’t accidentally post on the wrong thread, but nevertheless allow me to reiterate (or clarify); when a biblical prophecy states anything to the effect that “IF something happens or is done, THEN something else WILL happen or BE done” this exemplifies conditional prophecy.
 
In other words, the messianic prophecies in the OT and eschatological prophecies in the OT and NT were/are NOT conditional prophecies. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-25 4:12 PM

"eschatological prophecies in the OT and NT were/are NOT conditional prophecies."

The only true evaluation of any "conditional prophecy" can be made years or centuries later, and all "conditional prophecies are purposely ambiguious:  no date is given, no physical circumstances, only at a later date when someone proclaims:
"Lo, here in this Bible text" what we see now was predicted 500, 200, (fill in the number) years earlier.

Earthquakes can always be predicted and be fulfilled:  somewhere in the world, every day there are earthquakes.

Virgin births are not unique in ancient history:  many people fervently believed in them.  Name one "conditional prophecy" that is so exact that only one event, meeting all the qualifications, guarantee that this is the one and only POSSIBLE fulfillment of that particular prophecy.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-25 5:46 PM

If you are right, Stephen, you and your company of fellow-literalists should certainly be congratulated for perhaps being the first people in history to precisely know and understand future events from both the perspective of the time in which they were prophesied and the time in which they are being fulfilled, and to discern that neither the understanding nor the concrete application of the prophecy has changed, or will change, over time. Wouldn't it be nice to see Romney win, just so you could be hailed as a great oracle when he and his religious forces bring on the apocalypse? And what's the worst that can happen - The Second Coming, right?

Even more astonishing, in your prophetic vision, it is not Divine intervention or turning of hearts towards God that preserves the soil of liberty in which Adventist Gospel seeds can be sown. No, it is God's people voting for liberal, secular Democrats, who want to spray the civic arena with religious Round-Up. Absolutely amazing! Scripture sure blew that one by suggesting that the enemies of God will be the ones who defy Him and distort His character. Who woulda' guessed that God's best friends in prophecy are the secularists who want to confine Him to religious kennels??? Good thing we've got you to interpret Ellen White for us and clear up common Biblical misconceptions.

Stephen, consistent with your uncompromising commitment to keep Sunday laws, protestants, and Catholics as far away from politics as possible, and knowing that President Obama fits the profile of a Christian politician who could use religion to control government, doesn't a Muslim state really provide the best protection against the specter of Sunday laws? I think we're even safer from Sunday laws and the fulfillment of your prophecy under Sharia law than we are with liberal Democrats in power. 

Just out of curiosity, Stephen, why are you so eager to avoid the fulfillment of prophecy and delay the Second Coming? By suggesting that we should vote for liberal, secular Democrats, how long do you think you can keep God away? Also, didn't Ellen White have some pretty strong counsel about avoiding politics?

Finally, may I remind you, in case you've forgotten, that I am still awaiting an answer to my question as to why Ellen White's prophecy, that some within hearing of her voice would be alive at the Second Coming, was apparently not fulfilled. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-25 10:22 PM

Thanks for demonstrating another benefit of cutting and pasting passages from The Great Controversy.
 
Thankfully, by directly quoting White, I obviously do not have to be her interpreter. You see, Nathan, the beauty of White is that, although she didn’t realize it, she is a messenger for our times. Her messages were modern in this sense; she died in the same century in which we were born. (She was actually only 50 years older than my grandmother.) She spoke the same language that we do; and wrote the language we write. There is not that much to interpret.
 
I am not at all familiar with the prediction to which you refer, but I take your word for its authenticity.
 
Any given prophet may or may not have been clear on exactly how any given prophecy will be fulfilled (this may well be one reason why, for example, we don’t know the political parties of the fulfillers of Revelation 13:13-17); or to what extent something the Lord told them symbolizes something, in part or in whole.
 
This, I would suggest, might apply to White, who was clearly not “told” her “audience” would include people born 175 years after she was—all over the globe.
 
Suffice it to say that I understand and accept that you don’t buy The Great Controversy as being accurate or relevant. Of course, as you know, I certainly do; and therefore as I have said before, we are not supposed to agree.
 
I can imagine that after awhile there is nowhere to go but to escape to humor/silliness; but the point is that since we have been warned about what will threaten liberty of conscience, it is only prudent to take appropriate steps to avoid that about which we’ve been warned. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-25 11:42 PM

I seriously doubt, Stephen, that any amount of cutting and pasting from Ellen White would lead anyone other than a political liberal, who vests canonical authority in Ellen White, to conclude that Romney poses a cognizable risk of Sunday Law enactment, much less a greater threat to Adventists' religious freedom than President Obama.



Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 3:57 AM

Again, it is necessary (for some reason) to remind you that since you do not believe The Great Controversy to be accurate or relevant, whereas I believe it to be both accurate and relevant, we are not supposed to agree on this.
 
There are some who read this who see and appreciate the wisdom of the principle of separation of church and state.
 
There are others who believe/appreciate GC to be accurate and relevant; as I do.
 
One certainly does not have to be in both groups to appreciate the ironies highlighted in the blog; but it helps.



earl calahan
2012-09-26 4:12 AM

i've ceased being amazed at how, otherwise, highly intelligent people can allow their brain to totally ignore & negate the reality of events that have & are happening before their very eyes. There is a
mystical psychological barrier that prevents them from seeing the reality of what is actually occurring.
They aren't purposely lying, they are just honestly unable to perceive, because they have conditioned
themselves to block out any & all positions that do not square with their thesis.
My brother in law, highly intelligent man, former professor at Stanford Univ. has a similar political belief as does Steven Foster. However he is an atheist. i ask him about the 200 czars that Obama has
named that are involved with power to document every word & every movement of every person in the USA. The surveilance by monitoring conversations & movements (chips in cell phones, cameras on towers & buildings, tiny drones by the thousands flying overhead, satellelite images able to identify
a dime from 25 miles up ect) Fema & Homeland Security, & the Dept of Justice & FBI with a dossier on every citizen. You've heard of nano tech i'm sure. Soon they will be able inject their chips along with your annual flu shot. The potus has enacted laws & regulations that do not agree with the law of
our land, the Constitution, without any opposition of Repub's or Demo's in the House or Senate.
George Orwell, & Ayn Rand were prophets.
No, our foremost current enemy resides in High Places, not a religious secular power. Control of the masses is the ultimate power on Earth. Liars who have sold their soul for the love of money & position will assume whatever mask is needed. Open your eyes. The religion that annihilates & enslaves the populace may not be a secular church organization, but forces individuals to drink the
kool ade & receive the right to buy & sell. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 5:27 AM

It should be instructive, to less partisan observers, that my blog does not mention President Obama except perhaps in a couple of critical references to his campaign.  I have nevertheless repeatedly been accused of obsessive loyalty to the President on this thread.
 
Interestingly, although I have written several blogs over the past three years with church and state implications and religious liberty themes, I have not authored a blog about the President; nor have mentioned him much. I’ve seldom defended him against sundry charges.
 
Yet, what I have had to say about conservative presidential aspirants who question the principle of church and state separation is viewed as undying loyalty to the incumbent.
 
Might I suggest that it is not me who is obsessive about this President; and that those who apparently are, refuse to see anything but their obsessive disdain/dislike.

Quite clearly, some of this obsession is a result of disproportionate economic ideological preoccupation. Economics and religion should not be confused; except to the extent that the love of money is the root of evil.

William Noel
2012-09-26 8:41 AM

Your views on various topics have often been so close to those of the Obama administration, in particular, and liberal-socialism, in general, that there is no separation visible between you and them.  If there are differences, please make them more obvious.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 9:58 AM

As we’ve discussed previously, Noel, you have hopelessly conflated theology and economics such that those who disagree with your economic theory are ipso facto in league with Satan.
 
Yours is too warped a worldview to engage in any meaningful or reasonable fashion.
 
Fiscal and economic policies that do not threaten liberty of conscience do not threaten.
 
This is why, frankly, I am not threatened by the likes of libertarian conservatives. While I may not agree with or subscribe to their laissez faire economic philosophy; they are limited/small government non interventionists in terms of constitutional philosophy and/thus social policy.
 
You undoubtedly have no idea what I’m talking about; because you (apparently) do not understand why I vote so as to prevent the church from obtaining secular power.

William Noel
2012-09-26 2:31 PM

There is a huge difference between having a ruler who has a moral foundation based on their personal faith and letting a church gain control of our nation's government.  The prophecies you keep pointing to also state that it will be the Roman Catholic Church that will gain control.  There is nothing in those prophecies about the Mormon church.  So your fear is looking in the wrong direction. 

You accuse me of having a "too warped worldview."  Actually, I am a serious student of history.  That is where I learned things like having leaders who are secular and without a strong personal religious foundation that you get such illustrious rulers as Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Mao Zedong.  All were strong secular rulers who murdered millions of their people and steadily worsened economic conditions in their countries, if not leading to absolute destruction.  Stalin's economic policy alone resulted in the deaths by starvation of more than 30 million people after he did things like debase the currency and tax away or confiscate all wealth above an existence in grinding poverty.  I'm not accusing Obama of having plans for mass murder, but his economic philosophy is the same as those other rulers from just the last century.

You should be more concerned about the reaction that will come if Obama is re-elected and able to either preserve or continue the economic changes that are his objective.  The country will likely be in such a poor state that whoever is elected after him will be the candidate presenting the greatest contrast to his secularism.  That will give Catholocism enormous opportunity to gain power.  So, if you really want to see prophecy fulfilled before you've had time to do the work God wants you to be doing, keep arguing for secular leadership. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-26 11:57 AM

I do believe in The Great Controversy, Stephen. I just am not a literalist when it comes to either the Bible or Ellen White. I believe that every prophet sees a contemporary referent in reality for his or her prognostications. Ellen White spoke to a reality that was fresh in the minds of those who saw themselves still living in the shadow of the Protestant Reformation. If prophecy does not tell a story about the reality that people inhabit, it has no power. Each generation reformulates its foundational prophecies and doctrines.

We live in a very different world than Ellen White. It is interesting that, when we were growing up, it was the Pope who we feared.  Since the rise of the religious Right, the liberalization of Catholicism, and scandals that severely weakened its power and prestige, Adventists, including Stephen, don't talk much about the Catholics any more, even though the Papacy was central to Ellen White's narrative. In his inaugural address, Ted Wilson underscored the eschatological vision of Adventism without even alluding to the Papacy or Catholicism. The prophetic boogeyman, when I was growing up, was ecumenism. Now, because reality makes that narrative less compelling, Stephen and other Adventists keep the boogeyman alive by dressing him up as a politically ambitious Protestant, choosing to ignore the elements of the Religious Right that are wildly and irreconcilably inconsistent with their new narrative.

Herb Douglass, who certainly subscribes to the Great Controversy narrative, seems to focus more on the third prong of the evil triumvirate - Spiritualism. A very compelling case could be made for the proposition that secularism is, in its enshrinement of the goddess of reason, and its search for non-traditional polytheistic spiritual symbols, precisely what Ellen White prophesied. I won't do that, because it would be almost as tendentious (thank you for your felicitous use of that word, Timo) as your use of prophecy, Stephen.  

Ellen White's prophecies are not self-interpreting. Whenever we read anything, we are weighting and prioritizing according to our own subjective frame of reference. That's why many Adventists, who read Ellen White just as literally as you do, Stephen, don't see Republicans as a qualitatively or quantitatively greater threat to religious freedom than Democrats. Your approach to Constitutional jurisprudence, which you have attempted to explicate in other blogs, juggles a remarkable, and seemingly incoherent concoction of progressive literalism (Wall of Separation) and elasticity (expanding governmental powers) to justify an all-powerful central government that protects religion by being its implacable foe. So you ring hollow and hypocritical when you try to persuade us that you just read words and take them at face value.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 2:51 PM

Nathan, you are reminding me of politicians who try to be all things to all people; or have it both ways.
 
The one thing that Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy is not is ambiguous. To say that you “believe” it, but “not literally,” is nothing short of hilarious.
 
That book and that exegesis of Revelation 12 and 13 are what they are. You must take it or leave it.
 
I respect you and your intelligence Nathan, so I will lay off this somewhat. I would ask some moderate/liberal Adventist to perhaps engage you on this some more.
 
I’ll just say that I accept that different people can read Revelation 13 and interpret it very differently from one another. Some people will believe some things while other people will believe drastically different things.
 
Make no mistake, in Ellen White’s The Great Controversy, particularly the chapters that we reference most often in this context (chapters 25, 35, and 36), nothing is left to interpretation. It is a strong, unambiguous opinion (if you will) about many things, the most important of which (in my view) is the mark of the beast.
 
You can say you do not believe what she says; but you cannot believe it and simultaneously not believe it literally.
 
On another note, Adventists who read and believe GC and biblical eschatology as I do, do not see party labels as threatening; instead they see philosophies, attitudes, and ideologies that decry the separation of church and state in the U.S. as threatening.

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-26 9:02 PM

I didn't say The Great Controversy is ambiguous. I said I don't take every word Ellen White said literally as the Word Of God. She said many things that are, to put it charitably, not credible. The broad outline of the conflict between God and Satan, the turning of  government, at the behest of religious powers toward an instrument of repression, are themes that I believe in. I just happen to believe that  secular and statist forces become religious when they seek to exercise either de jure or de facto authority over the sphere of religion. You probably define spiritualism much more narrowly than I do.

I am not aware of any Adventists, myself included, who decry separation of church and state. What many decry is the substitution of a "high wall of separation," defined and moved at will by the government, for the literal language of the Constitution. 

Edwin A. Schwisow
2012-09-26 12:36 PM

Back in the 1990s a new conference president arrived in the Pacific Northwest who advocated abolishment of the Religious Liberty function of the church because he (quite logically) argued that Adventism is dedicated to the proposition that the sooner the Lord comes, the better, and that we therefore should be cheering on those who are deemed to be harbingers of the Time of Trouble. (I'm not sure he was totally serious, but he presented his argument as a talking point as we looked at prioritization of function out of the union conference office, then in Portland.)

I do believe part of the Gospel presentation should entail defense of the freedoms God grants us and that we believe the US Constitution enshrines—but that we conversely should not promote at the political level peculiar views of a sectarian complexion (say, that Congress should declare Saturday to be the nation's official day of rest and business closure, or for that matter Sunday).

In my work for and with the church, it was not unusual for a Sunday-keeper of conscience to appeal to us for help in gaining exemption from labor on his or her holy day. We supplied this help free of charge and without fanfare, believing that our own credibility ultimately hinged on our willingness to extend to other Christians those defenses and arguments that we advocated for our own members' benefit. I have often wondered if others share the view that perhaps the church should simply "let go" of its traditional concerns about the loss of religious liberty. I have met several leaders of independent ministries who believe that the church spends far too much time and money worrying about such things, "when we know that regardless of what we do, the Time of Trouble is going to come anyway”....

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-26 2:48 PM

This is a really interesting perspective, Ed, particularly in light of Ellen White's dim view of Adventists getting involved in politics. I happen to think that institutional concerns - not sectarian religious doctrines - should govern the Church's lobbying efforts, when it advocates political action as a church. For example, I think the church has no business being involved in anti-tobacco initiatives, anti-alcohol initiatives, or other health related issues that advance our theological perspective that our bodies are the temple of God. The institutional church should, in my opinion, do what it can to protect and defend its legal rights to be free of government interference with its parochial activities and religion-based policies. But we should not be using the government to force private employers to accomodate relgious beliefs of our members. Prop 8 (The California initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman) was a tough case for the Church. On its face, it had nothing to do with religious liberty. But in context, it was evident to all that the GLBT agenda being driven by the courts would, if Prop 8 was defeated, force many Adventists and Adventist institutions to compromise their religious convictions against heterodox sexual relationships.

Sunday Laws have never been used to discriminate against Saturday worship. The notion that mandatory closure of businesses one day a week is a violation of the First Amendment is not at all obvious to me. Our idiosyncratic prophetic views have led us as a church to equate Sunday Laws with infringement on religious liberty. It is my understanding that Missouri, and perhaps other states, enforce Sunday Laws, without any deleterious impact on Adventists. The truth is, we just can't foresee exactly how prophecy will be fulfilled. But it is safe to say that a precondition to its fulfillment will be a centralization and concentration of political power for the common good. And which political party's agendas would you say best meets that description?

As citizens of an earthly kingdom, where the government is "we the people," I maintain the Burkean philosophy that we have a responsibility to the past, present, and future. And part of that responsibility is to recognize and oppose policies, politicians, and actions that threaten the Constitutional balance and constraints which constitute our covenant with one another. That's a part of rendering to Caesar (ourselves)the duties of citizenship. How we, as citizens of God's Kingdom, integrate the duties and responsibilities of dual citizenship should be a matter between ourselves and God. I want the Church, qua institution, to stay out of that arena.

As a citizen of God's Kingdom, I cannot imagine how a party platform built on covetousness, rights, and entitlements squares with Biblical principles extolling the virtues of poverty, charity, self-surrender, and self-sacrifice. But that's just me. I don't want church authorities telling me that Kingdom citizenship should lead me to raise my voice or vote in support of a particular political agenda. 

William Noel
2012-09-27 10:30 AM

That proposition would be logical only if we could know that the Gospel had indeed been spread into all the world and that we had all been doing what we're supposed to be doing to make that happen.  Since God hasn't put any of us in a position to know when that milestone has been reached, how could we possibly know that the time had arrived to let end-time events happen?  Unless he expected that those events would awaken the church to do the remaining work.  Either way, not a credible argument.

I think discussions about end-time events often miss a critical point: that opposition leading to the creation of suppressive/restrictive laws most often happens when there is an opposition to the dominant power that is large and contrasting enough to be seen as a threat to the dominance.  Martyrdom happens when there is such a contrast between religious powers.  We are witnessing the same in American politics where one side is routinely using total character assasination to try to destroy the opposition.  Likewise, a Sunday law would be more easily adopted if it was seen as necessary to contain, control and then suppress an opposition threatening the dominant power.  Where in America do we see any religious group or coalition of churches presenting such a power?  Christians are vocal, but a shrinking minority.  What is worse, protestants (including Adventists) have become largely impotent in society and no threat to government.  So, why would we even suspect a Sunday law in the near future?  We must first have a great revival and become a threat to Satan's growing dominance for that to happen.

As for supporting or not supporting a particular political agenda, here's the challenge: How can you be loyal to the foundational concepts of your faith without aligning yourself to some degree with either with a political agenda that significantly matches those concepts?  What I find amazing is how many Adventists profess to support the teachings of the church, but are loyal to political agenda dedicated to destroying those beliefs.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 3:50 PM

From an Adventist attorney who claims to believe The Great Controversy; but not literally:
       
“The notion that mandatory closure of businesses one day a week is a violation of the First Amendment is not at all obvious to me. Our idiosyncratic prophetic views have led us as a church to equate Sunday Laws with infringement on religious liberty. It is my understanding that Missouri, and perhaps other states, enforce Sunday Laws, without any deleterious impact on Adventists. The truth is, we just can't foresee exactly how prophecy will be fulfilled. But it is safe to say that a precondition to its fulfillment will be a centralization and concentration of political power for the common good.”
 
                                                                                                            ---Nathan Schilt
 
Can anything possibly be more instructive or revealing?
 
So, theoretically, if a national Sunday law was passed by Congress, this would likewise be viewed by you, Nathan, as not being in violation of the First Amendment; and having “no deleterious impact on Adventists.”
 
One thing seems plausible: the current iteration of the U.S. Supreme Court, might agree.

Ellen White describes the preconditions for the U.S. forming an image to the beast (“In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends. GC 443); yet you describe your own diversionary version.
 
Can anything be more instructive or revealing? How important is partisan politics to you?

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-26 9:16 PM

I assume that a Sunday Law would simply be a designation of Sunday as a holiday, not a day of worship. It would neither compel nor prohibit any religious observance. To the best of my knowledge, Blue Laws in the U.S. have never compelled any worship practice. Is the declaration of Christmas as a holiday a violation of the First Amendment?

I guess I have to modify my statement that it would not have a deleterious impact on Adventists. A Sunday closing law would have an adverse economic impact on Adventists who want to keep their businesses open on Sunday. But I wouldn't see that impact as a religious liberty issue.

Not sure what this has to do with partisan politics, since I am unaware of either political party wanting to promote Sunday Laws. I am certain that most free market conservatives, including myself and the current Republican candidates, would oppose Sunday Laws. I just don't think it's necessarily a religious liberty issue. I am unaware that laws mandating business closure on Sunday have ever been used to force a particular day of worship anywhere in the world. Are you?

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-26 4:00 PM

The most fearful of all powers is the tyranny of the mind.  When one is so certain of future events and explains everything that unfolds as fulfilling prophecy, he is blinded to all other events that do not fit neatly into that well-rehearsed and remembered paradigm.  Self-fulfilling prophecies are always sure, when they are interpreted by a true believer.  In the past, the Social Security card was thought by many to be the Mark of the Beast; later, it was the credit card, now it's the mandatory ID that we all must have.  Someone should make a list of all the past evidences once thought to be "sure signs of the end." 

It may be a dreadful time for those dedicated to G.C. as the one and only true predictor of future events if they prove to be quite different.  The certainty of a future Sunday Law becomes more questionalbe when all the evidence points to religion having less influence each year.  How many, even church-going Christians, believe that Sunday is one-tenth as important to their Christianity as Adventists feel about Sabbath?  It is easier to see Adventists promoting obedience to one day a week than Christians persecuting other Christians over a day.  "What a Difference a Day Makes" is only applicable to SDAs.

How can any earthly power force someone to observe a day as holy?  Or bow to any earthly authority?  These prophecies were written at a time when there was active persecution of Christians who refused to offer incense in honor of pagan gods.  Even then, there were no forced beliefs, only actions. 

For those so certain of the future, could they paint a scenario that could possibly take affect in the future--without stretching believability beyond reason.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 6:43 PM

Elaine,
 
I know that you don’t doubt that religious people, institutions, and organizations are better poised to influence the political process than they were, say, 40 years ago.
 
Think about it this way, religious people, institutions, and organizations did not comprise the base of either political party in 1972.
 
Granted, the general population appears much more culturally secular or irreligious now than then. But then again, what causes a backlash?
 
Obviously you believe Adventist eschatology, or any eschatology, to be wacky. I get that. But do you consider it prudent to maintain a separation of church and state?

Nathan Schilt
2012-09-26 9:19 PM

Amazingly, Elaine, I agree with you 1000%!

William Noel
2012-09-27 10:09 AM

Elaine,

I absolutely agree.  Those who keep pointint to fulfillments of prophecy being at hand quickly collect a track record of complete failure along with the disappointment, disrepute and destruction of that comes with such failure.  Perhaps the greatest tragedy of it all is how the faith of those who follow such teachers is also damaged, if not destroyed.

Stephen Foster
2012-09-28 8:45 AM

Tell me William Noel, as a “servant,” what does Revelation 1:1-3 mean to you?
 
Why were these revelations given to/for us? 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-27 9:02 PM

Well, I am thankful that we are fleshing this out; because this will happen.
 
The following is from an Adventist attorney:
 
I guess I have to modify my statement that it would not have a deleterious impact on Adventists. A Sunday closing law would have an adverse economic impact on Adventists who want to keep their businesses open on Sunday. But I wouldn't see that impact as a religious liberty issue.”
                                                                                                ----Nathan Schilt
 
It’s almost unfathomable that this is in dispute amongst Adventists; or that you, Nathan, had to reconsider your position on this only to grudgingly concede that Adventists businesses would impacted.
 
It is much easier to understand how you might consider the prospect of the enactment and enforcement of Sunday Laws to be highly unlikely than it is to understand how you (obviously) consider such enactment and enforcement would be constitutional and essentially inconsequential  insofar as religious liberty is concerned.
 
Sunday closing laws would (and do) constitute a blatant establishment of the observance of a solely Christian tradition, which is a blatant violation of the establishment clause, period.
 
Frankly, I could not possibly care less who may disagree, because I can read the English language as well as the next guy; and stores are closed on Sundays only because of Christian religious tradition, practice, and/or observance. Christianity is a religion.
 
Any law mandating closing anything on Sundays constitutes an establishment of the Christian religion.
 
I am certain that most free market conservatives, including myself and the current Republican candidates, would oppose Sunday Laws. I just don't think it's necessarily a religious liberty issue.”
 
Of course, there is absolutely no way on earth that you can actually be certain of what others would do (especially without having asked them all); so this is quite clearly a patently ludicrous statement.
 
(Is that enough opinion for you, Elaine?)

William Noel
2012-09-28 10:07 AM

Stephen,

There is something in this discussion about a Sunday law that people are missing: the objectives and motivations for such a law.  I think considering these will contribute to understanding the issue.

I don't know if you've been in the Huntsville area to remember when there were Sunday "blue laws" on the books and enforced.  My father was involved in lobbying to have them repealed,  They were passed during a time when the churches played a far larger role in society and Sunday church attendance was enforced.  The blue laws were written for the purpose of reducing the temptation to not attend church.  Declining attendance made it harder for the churches to exert influence on lawmakers who saw the potential to collect increased revenues from sales taxes collected on an additional day of the week.  Tax collections have been the primary factor driving many cities to vote to "go wet" and permit liquor sales on Sunday.  Though I'm not sure if the state stores selling hard liquor are still closed on Sunday.

Ellen White describes economic factors as the primary driver for the state to adopt Sunday laws.  For the state to take such an action with the influence of the church requires two things: the church's desire to force worship on that day and the state seeing those who do not worship on that day, or at least those who worship on the Sabbath, as a threat to the economic stability of the nation.  Currently we are in a condition of rapidly-escalating economic instability and turmoil so the potential for the state's side of the equation is growing.  So it is clear is that the Obama administration's consistent focus on the limitation and eventual destruction of faith in society will not produce a fulfillment of that prophecy.  Equally clear is that Gov. Romney's personal devotion to his faith is equally unlikely to produce such a result.  The he current liberal-socialist domination of the Congress remains strong and the devotion of conservatives to the protection of religious liberty is limited to simply reversing recent infringements.  So any force capable of driving a change fulfilling the prophecy will have to be far more dominant and focused than anything we see.  The will require a political force led by someone like Obama who promises is capable of persuading the masses by promising prosperity while growing the laws and regulations limiting liberty and stealing prosperity, While that leader could be Obama, I think it more likely that it will be the president following Obama if he is re-elected because they will be expected to recover the nation from the economic ruin he is driving us toward. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-28 11:59 AM

William Noel,
 
Now, who is pinpointing what?
 
I wish you would read The Great Controversy. This is why I copy and paste portions of it because I know that you have not read the sections that I post, or you do not believe them to be accurate or relevant.
 
You can’t just make things up. Ellen White makes it clear that it will be backlash to moral declension and, ironically a disbelief in the Bible by the religious that will be the fundamental catalysts of the movements that we anticipate.
 
“Courts of justice are corrupt. Rulers are actuated by desire for gain and love of sensual pleasure. Intemperance has beclouded the faculties of many so that Satan has almost complete control of them. Jurists are perverted, bribed, deluded. Drunkenness and revelry, passion, envy, dishonesty of every sort, are represented among those who administer the laws. ‘Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.’” Isaiah 59:14. GC 586
 
“The iniquity and spiritual darkness that prevailed under the supremacy of Rome were the inevitable result of her suppression of the Scriptures; but where is to be found the cause of the widespread infidelity, the rejection of the law of God, and the consequent corruption, under the full blaze of gospel light in an age of religious freedom? Now that Satan can no longer keep the world under his control by withholding the Scriptures, he resorts to other means to accomplish the same object. To destroy faith in the Bible serves his purpose as well as to destroy the Bible itself. By introducing the belief that God's law is not binding, he as effectually leads men to transgress as if they were wholly ignorant of its precepts. And now, as in former ages, he has worked through the church to further his designs. The religious organizations of the day have refused to listen to unpopular truths plainly brought to view in the Scriptures, and in combating them they have adopted interpretations and taken positions which have sown broadcast the seeds of skepticism. Clinging to the papal error of natural immortality and man's consciousness in death, they have rejected the only defense against the delusions of spiritualism. The doctrine of eternal torment has led many to disbelieve the Bible. And as the claims of the fourth commandment are urged upon the people, it is found that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is enjoined; and as the only way to free themselves from a duty which they are unwilling to perform, many popular teachers declare that the law of God is no longer binding. Thus they cast away the law and the Sabbath together. As the work of Sabbath reform extends, this rejection of the divine law to avoid the claims of the fourth commandment will become well-nigh universal. The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to spiritualism, and to contempt for God's holy law; and upon these leaders rests a fearful responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world.”
 
“Yet this very class put forth the claim that the fast-spreading corruption is largely attributable to the desecration of the so-called ‘Christian sabbath,’ and that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of society. This claim is especially urged in America, where the doctrine of the true Sabbath has been most widely preached.”
GC 586-587

William Noel
2012-09-29 9:31 AM

Do you not see what is happening or what you're doing?  You're so focused on putting long EGW quotes in our faces that you are blind to what is happening in the world.  You're so focused on looking for the fulfillment of specific minutia in prophecies that you're not involved in active ministry that brings people into the church and makes believers out of those who don't know God.  It is exactly this course of action that prevents people from being effective at expanding the Kingdom of God.  What is worse, it leads the faith of many to ruin because they get disappointed when the do not see expected fulfillments coming to pass either in their lifetime or as they expected.  Because of this your faith is in great danger.  How I wish you would repent from this course of action and discover the real ministry God wants you to be doing for Him!  Your

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-28 12:35 AM

Worrying and expecting a Sunday Law in the U.S. should be last on our concerns.

There is in the world today so many areas that are a tinder box, and some have already begun to explode: Libya, Egpt, Tunisa, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iran.  All the while the apparent major concern of some Adventists is when is the Pope going to declare Sunday is a day of worship in the U.S.!

It had some credibility when it was written more than a hundred years ago; the world has so dramatically changed that it should be filed away as conditional prophecy:  conditioned on situations that were occurring then would re-occur today. 

 

Churches and religion is experiencing losing members and fewer young people have any religious affiliation.  The Roman Catholic church has its own battles with corruption in the highest places and to expect it to exercise any moral influence is preposterous.  Even the SDA church is fighting to retain its U.S. members, and most converts are in immigrant populations while the natives are leaving through the back door.

How many NEW members has your church baptized this year that were not the children of members?  How many have left the church, if you know, as records are very poorly kept on those former members.

BTW:  where in the NT instructions to Christians do you find that they were told not to engage in commerce by buying and selling on sabbath or any other day?  Why is store closing the one event that is to be in the future? 

 

Loma Linda has been able to receive mail delivery on Sunday for many years at their request.  Will the shops inside the hospital be closed on Sunday?  Will the stores in Loma Linda be closed on Sunday?  WDYT?  How many SDAs own retail businesses that are now open on Sunday?  Are  you writing about a potential closure when no one has a clue of such shops today?   Retail businesses were the main way products were sold; today they are sold online, and large businesses operate 24/7 so a day's closing could not be affected anymore than the present telephone, water, electricity, etc., that are not retail.  When those quotations were written, there was house delivery of coal and oil, electricity was far less widely used, while now with automatic service straight to the house, who would be working on Sabbath in those businesses?
 


Stephen Foster
2012-09-28 6:53 AM

It’s hard, but not impossible, to hit a moving target, Elaine. Here we go.
 
“Worrying and expecting a Sunday Law in the U.S. should be last on our concerns.”
 
Worrying about it is one thing. Expecting it is something else; and this is where doctrinal belief comes into play. To be properly/accurately informed about the image of the beast and the mark of the beast and to ignore it would have to be the most stupid thing anyone in the “last generation” can do.
 
Of course, if you don’t believe any of it to be true, then expecting it, much less worrying about it, would be impossible (and worrying about what you don’t thinks is possible would be insane).
 
“All the while the apparent major concern of some Adventists is when is the Pope going to declare Sunday is a day of worship in the U.S.!”
Of course, this is a canard about a bogeyman that Seventh-day Adventists who have actually read Revelation 12 and 13 and The Great Controversy know not to be true. Watching the pope would be a diversion.
 
Church membership is not the issue, Elaine. (I now live in an Adventist university town where the larger churches now routinely baptize 150-200 new members annually; so asking me about my church wouldn’t reveal much.) What are important are the gospel and the warning message (which, in my opinion, go together—but aren’t the same thing).
 
Finally, it’s not about retailing, Elaine; it’s more about the state/nation establishing an official day of weekly observance of any kind.

(By the way, I notice you have not answered my question about whether it is generally prudent, much less constitutional, to maintain a separation of church and state.)

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-30 6:22 PM

You asked about my position on separation of church and state:  I'm for it (separation).

If it's about "the state/nation establishing an official day of weekly observance" it would be an impossibility.  Envision for a minute what that would entail:  checking every home (and all those scattered out in the boonies) if they were in some church, somewhere.  Would filling a pew count as observance? 

The idea is preposterous to even imagine a law that would demand everyone, everywhere to be in a pew some time.  Who defines observance:  does it demand one's physical presence in some church?  Can one be observant in the mountains?

All these predictions, that appear to some as being fulfilled, have not begun to think about how and why; the number of employees needed to check for observance (many more than are employed by the Transportation Security  Administration and everyone knows how they are admired).  I'll play prophet, and say "it's not going to happen if it is the declaration of a day for worship."  Not in the U.S. today, and not as described.  The ACLU will be our main legal representative (so often denigrated, but turned to for Constitutional protection).  

 


William Noel
2012-09-29 9:37 AM

Elaine,

Absolutely!  We have far more important things to be concerned with than a Sunday Law.  A few years ago I saw a highly-motivated but small group of Adventists saturate entire zip codes with a book on the topic.  Did they bring anyone into the church?  What was the result?  Not a single person brought into the church and entire areas that are absolutely resistant to anything Adventist. 

Such focus on prophetic minutia and looking for fulfillments as Stephen Foster is pursuing are a path to spiritual destruction because they get people so focused on looking for specific events in current periods of time that they are not doing the real missionary work God wants them to be doing.  Worse still, they are setting themselves up to have their faith destroyed as happened to the great majority of those who were expecting Jesus to return on Oct. 22, 1844. 

Stephen Foster
2012-09-29 10:37 AM

William Noel,
 
If there is one thing in this life of which I am certain, it is that you do not speak for God. (That makes two of us.)
 
So, that being the case, you would do well not to judge me.
 
As for EGW, well…let’s just say she just might have been speaking/writing for God; in which case “putting long EGW quotes in [your] faces” would be something worthwhile.
 
Speaking of which, The most fearful threatening ever addressed to mortals is contained in the third angel's message. That must be a terrible sin which calls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy. Men are not to be left in darkness concerning this important matter; the warning against this sin is to be given to the world before the visitation of God's judgments, that all may know why they are to be inflicted, and have opportunity to escape them.” GC 449-450
 
I certainly would not consider prophecies having anything to do with this as containing (any) “minutia.” It appears that there are Adventists who are ignorant (as in ignoring) of that which would lead to their fulfillment.
 
Since I don’t speak for God, I consider it prudent to quote someone who might.
 
You may have something better to do with your time/talents; but I do not.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-28 7:07 AM

RE: All the while the apparent major concern of some Adventists is when is the Pope going to declare Sunday is a day of worship in the U.S.!
... It had some credibility when it was written more than a hundred years ago; the world has so dramatically changed that it should be filed away as conditional prophecy:  conditioned on situations that were occurring then would re-occur today.
----------
The historical position espoused by the Adventist Church denoting the role of the U.S.A. in Bible Prophecy is still very credible today.  Here’s a good example: The Soviet Union came and went even though many decried it as the anti-Christ, of which much of it was just propaganda, yet throughout this time the espoused historical Adventist position of prophetic end-time events remained firm with the U.S.A. still being the locus of end-time events.  This position was well tested during this time but proved consistent when the U.S.S.R. crumbled right before our eyes.  So why raise an Islam alarm now?  That won’t change prophecy!
 
How or by whom will the US enforce Sunday Laws is quite relevant to Adventists who herald the seventh day Sabbath, the call to worship the Creator and who teach that this will be the final test distinguishing those who obey God and those who obey the commandments of men.   S. Foster noted some US presidential hopefuls dangling a god carrot.  Whilst I may not agree with all his political views, he certainly has a point in terms of the significant role U.S. politics will play in fulfilling end-time Bible prophecy.  How can we file away stuff that hasn’t yet been proven wrong?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-29 11:48 AM

"The historical position espoused by the Adventist Church denoting the role of the U.S.A. in Bible Prophecy is still very credible today."

Totally agree.  It is much more true then when the SDA pioneers came up with the theory - when the US was a two-bit series of colonial backwater.  

The US is now the only remaining superpower.  The US is no longer the 'good guy' in the world, having lost much of its moral authority with executive killings, drone strikes, the invasion of Iraq (and Vietnam before it), Guatanimo Bay, military tribunals, a broken political system with institutionalized corruption (in the form of K street), growing inequality between the rich and poor, parasitic vulture capitalism, rampant debt etc etc.  

Finally, and most scarily, you see a rising erosion of the separation of Church and State, and you see the hand of Rome clasp hands with Protestantism - best exemplified in someone such as Rich Santorum.

Whilst the prophecies will no doubt be fulfilled in a slightly differen way than we expected (as prophecies always do, noting Jesus' was hardly the Messiah expected or John the Baptist Elijah), but I remain convinced of the general notion of a 3-Frog RC-Protestant-Spritualist religious conglomoration backed by US power. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-30 6:44 PM

This is most common:  people see what they are looking for.  And if it is soon-coming religious power, there will be "signs" that prove those beliefs.  It's much like a hypocondriac who sees every ache and pain as indication of a very serious disease, and no one can dissuade him that they are insignificant.

Sesing the "lab speaking with the mouth of the dragon" is clear only to those with special SDA apocalyptic lenses, polished by EGW.  I am most insignificantly impressed with what has been stated.  If, by remote chance they happen tomorrow, I will still be unimpressed as anything is possible; but everything is not probable.

The Fundamentalists in the legislatures are trying to impose restrictions and laws on women's medical rights and marriage than worship time.  Fundamental religious beliefs are dangerous when in the hands of certain legislators.

Stephen Foster
2012-10-01 12:01 AM

Thank you for answering the question Elaine.
 
Since you took the liberty to speculate on legendary, inconceivable iterations of Sunday law enforcement; allow me to speculate that observance, i.e. recognition (worshipping the beast and/or its image), would suffice to fulfill the prophecy.
                 
In other words it’s not necessary to mandate your weekly Sunday church attendance; it would merely take acknowledgement and acceptance of that day of the week as holy/special/significant—after this has been codified in law.
 
Now then, since you have answered that you are for church and state separation, and you have also commented that “fundamental religious beliefs are dangerous when in the hands of certain legislators,” you should acknowledge that if there are enough “certain legislators,” given certain circumstances, they will seek to enact their certain fundamental beliefs into law.
 
Thinks about it Elaine, you are for separation of church and state at least in part because you understand that “fundamental religious beliefs are dangerous when in the hands of certain legislators”—for good reason.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-29 11:56 AM

You can't seriously turn on the TV today, and see everything that is happening in the world, in seeing how powerful the US military-industrial-complex is, and yet see how immensely broken America is, and not see the lamb of the past starting to increasingly speak with the mouth of the dragon.  

We need to avoid 2 extremes.  One is assuming we know exactly how it will all turn out, which can lull us in into a false sense of scrutiny when we think we still have time.  Jesus and John the Baptist hardly fulfilled the prophesies in the way the so-called experts expected.

Likewise, we need to avoid thinking the prophecy as a whole is no longer valid, because it seems unlikely.  Such people usually repeat the same mistake as the first group, in thinking that because the first groups forcasted interpretation of the prophecy sounds absurd, then the underlying prophecy itself can't possibly be true.  Thus, these people likewise are lulled into a false sense of scrutiny.

I believe the prophecies but am not dogmatic about it because that prevents one from actually watching.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-29 8:30 PM

Isn't the church/state divide just an illusion?  A convenient way of controlling religion rather than protecting it?  Insiders may not have noticed - but the state controls religion in the U.S. through legislation supporting its rapid secularisation which in many instances goes against the church, including laws that defy God.  I'm curious to know whether it will be easier to enforce Sunday laws in a predominantly secular society or a religious one.  There is a third option too:  that by secularising society, spiritual decline is guaranteed, and then a desperate need for spiritual gurus to lead the people.  A Sunday law will then be a tailor-made fit.  Some worker unions in Europe are pushing for this with the backing of certain churches that are only doing it for social benefit and quality family time reasons of course.  That may be a fourth option that the U.S. may be heading for, considering the current economic climate and the much needed Socialist crutch the form of bailouts, that were dished out in order to give Capitalism a better quality of life.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-29 10:24 PM

...Socialist crutch in the form of bailouts...

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-29 10:48 PM

I think you are onto something - at least your first 3 options.  The great irony is that the State and Church are far more in bed together in the US, which has about the strongest separation of Church and State, compared to other western countries.  In say the UK, where there is an official 'Church of England', the Church has far, far, less power that many of the big denominations and Christian lobby groups in the US.  Again, it that is the lamb beginning to speak as a dragon.

As for your 4th option - there is socialism in the US, but it is corporate socialism, where the Government bails out the richest elements of parasitical society.  There is welfare and disribution of wealth - corporate welfare to the rich elite.  There won't be any socialism in the ordinary sense of the word re disribution of wealth to the poor but the opposite.  The middle class will be destroyed and the poor will get poorer and the rich will get richer - it has already been happening for the last couple of decades.  

Not socialism but rather vulture capitalism and rampant consumerism is what the Bible itself predicts will occur at the time of time in James 5:3,4,7.



Stephen Foster
2012-09-30 3:59 AM

Here is where we are:
 
One of us has said, and believes that in “reality that there has been no more intense oppressor of religion in history - no more brutal murderer of God-fearing people - than secular governments.”
 
Another one of us have concluded that “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole” or “(in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transiton of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles,” [per dictionary.com] otherwise known as socialism, is the animating philosophy of President Obama, is anti-God, and therefore this is where the danger is.
 
Others of us apparently believe that it is possible that state-sponsored secularization of religion and the socialization (via socialism) of the state will effectively combine to enact and enforce Sunday legislation; as occurs in Europe.
 
Some of us do not believe that any of this is remotely possible, much less dangerous, from a religious liberty perspective.
 
Finally, others of us, including me are obviously and admittedly much more suspicious of those who openly question the principle of separation of church and state, and advocate the use of government property as venues for sectarian religious expression, and for the use of government funds to pay for education that includes religious instruction; and who campaign for, or encourage the use of civil power and/or public policy to “return America back to God” or to “win the nation for Christ.”

“The founders of the nation wisely sought to guard against the employment of secular power on the part of the church, with its inevitable result--intolerance and persecution.”

“In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.

Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines.” GC 442-443

Now we all realize that EGW has laid out a very descriptive and detailed series of events based on a very particular reading and interpretation of Daniel 7-9 and Revelation 12 and 13 in chapters 25, 35, and 36 of The Great Controversy.

Since relatively few individuals believe/acknowledge that particular version of events; why do some us, who tend to give it credence, somehow believe things may happen some other way?
 
The devil doesn’t need to deceive/fool people who don’t believe prophecy to be accurate; and there aren’t enough who do believe prophecy/EGW's interpretation (to be accurate) to matter.

William Noel
2012-10-01 9:58 AM

There you go again, accusing those who see things differently from you as non-believers.  The issue IS NOT belief in the prophecies but disagreement with the wild speculations you use to claim potential immediate paths to the fulfillment of those prophecies.  Your claims are simply too specious and politically-biased to be given the illusion of credibility.

Joe Erwin
2012-09-30 8:54 AM

A few days ago William provided me with a reading list. I am far enough through the list, and related materials, to comment. This thread seems to focus mainly on matters of church and state in end times, with some comments about the major candidates for the US presidency, including assertions that the incumbant, President Obama, is a socialist, if not a communist, and that he is hostile toward Christianity. I claimed this was not so, and was provided with a reading list of sources that would show me the error of my opinion. My impression is that this discussion is not directly on topic and should not occupy much space here. If anyone wishes to contact me directly to discuss this, I am quite willing to do so. My email address can be easily obtained by googling "Erwin GWU," where there is also a brief bio and a link to my CV.

First of all, I want to thank William for urging me to read the reading list he supplied (Marx & Engels, Frank Marshall Davis, Woodward, Alinsky, Klein, D'Souza, and Obama's books. I especially benefitted from rereading Obama's Dreams from My Father. I first read it 4 or 5 years ago. I also found value in reading or reading about the other authors/books on the list.

This time I read Dreams with a somewhat more "left-brain" analytical effort than the previous time. Even so, I was compelled by the exceptional "right-brain" aesthetic appeal and imagery of the book. For me, the detailed descriptions of living in Indonesia, visiting Kenya, and working in Chicago in the 1980s were so evocative of my own experiences in those places, that the book seemed unusually authentic. I do not recall any other book written by a presidential candidate that reveals such depth of experience and thoughtfulness. And this book was written long before he was a candidate.

So, I was carefully and analytically looking for the evidence of socialist tendencies or expressions of admiration of communism--something on which a rational person could based the belief that our President is a socialist who hates America and wishes to bring it to its knees or advance some theory of prophecy. My friends, I assure you, it isn't there. And you need not believe me. In fact I challenge you to NOT accept my word for it but go and read William's reading list yourself--along with the incredibly bizarre array of paranoid conspiracy theories that circulate on the web. These conspiracy rumors are the bases of the accusations made above. There is enough credible real world information available for any of us to form an opinion about the President.

Read Dreams from My Father if you want intimate knowledge of the thoughtful young man who later became our President. Among other things, you will find there the mental and emotional struggle of a young person who was torn between his European-American and African ancestry--someone raised in white and multicultural settings, but who was identified and treated as if he was African-American. He struggled to find his identity. Ultimately, he found meaning in far greater and more profound detail than he had ever imagined. 

For those who have unresolved issues regarding racial and ethnic matters, this can be a very challenging story. For some, there is almost sure to be a visceral response to many parts of the book. Some will take statements in the book very personally. In some cases, they should. This book is not just about Obama. There is a sense in which it is about all of America and Americans. We can learn from it, or we can hate it and the man who wrote it, and spread false rumors about him being a socialist or communist bent on destroying our nation.  

   

   

William Noel
2012-10-01 9:53 AM

I wish to suggest that your next book to read from the list I provided is Dinesh D'Souza's book "Obama's America."  He looks at Obama's upbringing and the foundations of the philosophy he absorbed to explain Obama's world view and the conceptual basis for his decisions and objectives. 

Joe Erwin
2012-10-01 12:45 PM

Just as an aside, that's pretty much what I did too--I mean, looked at his upbringing and the influences he was subjected to. I happen to find it appealing that he experienced, first hand exposure to Indonesian culture, with its strengths and weaknesses and problems--including deep poverty and racial and ethnic prejudices that differ from those so common in America. Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous nation. It is an extremely diverse country. He had the advantages of learning from his Javan step-father and his anthropologist mother. What other president have we had who had the opportunity to learn from living in such a setting? It would not surprise me if some of our presidents did not even know where Indonesia was.

Life in Hawaii was also quite a remarkable experience, I'm sure. My sister and her family lived there during the same interval and attended University of Hawaii. Her daughter was almost the same age as "Barry." We do learn from the book that he knew Frank Davis, who was an elderly and embittered poet who expressed to Barry his experience with a lifetime of racial hatred. That Obama knew a man who had been accused by Joe McCarthy of being a communist hardly is a basis for assuming that that Obama is a communist or socialist. Plenty of victims of pervasive racial hatred in America were driven into the arms of the real socialists and communists who sought to exploit their discontent.

That Obama sought out his family in Kenya seems to me to be a really positive thing. I am glad to know that we have leadership from someone who has some direct understanding of tribal rivalries and customs in far away developing countries. His description of homes in Kenya and Indonesia, including a visit to a Masai village, is all positive, as far as I can see.

What would be the motivation for trying to tear someone of this caliber down?

So, anyway, this seems far off topic, and my involvement in this conversation is over.  


Joe Erwin
2012-10-01 10:53 AM

I urge anyone who wishes to do so to read about D'Souza and his perspectives and motivations and biases and decide on their own whether or not to read his book(s). I have the impression that this is a profoundly biased and speculative book. Some agree with my impression, while others don't. I understand that Rush Limbaugh is quite supportive of the assertions made in this book. That does not make the book true or false, but it does suggest that the book was intended to make an effort to tear down the President. Those who support that goal are attracted to such speculation.

William Noel
2012-10-01 1:43 PM

Joe,

As a former newspaper reporter/editor, I will be the first to tell you that there is no such thing as "unbiased" reporting, just degrees and severities of it.  A fair reading of any author's work needs to consider their personal biases, though identifying and measuring them sometimes is challenging.  D'Souza's bias is that he comes to the topic with the viewpoint of a person raised in India who became an American citizen.  That definitely gives him a different perspective on things.  Sometimes such perspectives challenge us to see a topic through different eyes and to compare contrasting viewpoints with what we have read elsewhere.  If we allow it, such viewpoints can help us identify the strengths and weaknesses in our own views and the opinons of others. 

Joe Erwin
2012-10-01 2:44 PM

William, I certainly agree with you that newspaper reporters and bring their own biases to reporting, and that some impose their own biases more than do others. Those who instructed me in journalism often had to remind me that I needed to express a "point of view." Later on, as a victim of press coverage, I learned that newspaper and TV reporters seldom got all the details correct in any story and were not above editing my statements in ways that suggested just the opposite of what I intended. I retreated into a technique common to those who are frequently interviewed. I decided in advance the points I wanted to make, and I gave those concise responses regardless of the questions asked.

As a former editor of scientific books and journals, I worked with authors to ensure accurate citations, reasonable discussions of ideas, and conclusions that reflected accurate results. This did not eliminate all bias, but it helped to ensure that relevant literature and ideas were given due consideration.
 



Nathan Schilt
2012-10-01 6:47 PM

Joe, you can reject all of the evidence that Obama has strong Marxist leanings. But I really don't think a reasonable person can read the books suggested by William, and say there is nothing there. What you can say - and no one can argue with it - is that you have a strong IMPRESSION that facts and conclusions you don't like are biased and speculative. If I had attended Jerry Falwell's church for 20 years, and told you that Falwell was the most significant spiritual influence on my life, wouldn't it be fair for you to conclude something about my political leanings? And if, after he was disgraced, I turned to another pastor as far right as Jim Wallis, Obama's replacement for Jeremiah Wright, is left, wouldn't it be reasonable for you to conclude that I really am pretty far out on the right wing? By your standards, I could merely respond as follows: "My IMPRESSION is that you're conclusions are profoundly biased and speculative." And abracadabra...the evidence of my right wing allegiances would be transformed, by your observation of the truth, into confirmation of your unhinged, conspiratorial bigotry.

Now I realize that the progressives have moved American politics and government so far left in the past four decades as to make the tenets of Marxism, sans all that nasty killing, look pretty mainstream. And whether the country needs more Marxism is certainly a debate worth having. But to pretend that Obama is not what he says he is, not who his friends and associates say he is, and not what his policies say he is...well, what can I say?  

The fact that you blame Joseph McCarthy for the overwhelming independent evidence that Frank Marshall Davis was a Communist demonstrates how far you are willing to go to prevent facts and evidence from encroaching on your IMPRESSIONS. That's a bit like looking at the proclamations of the demons Christ cast out, and concluding that the reason Christians believed Christ was divine was because of what the demons said. 

William Noel
2012-10-02 9:52 AM

Joe,

I am glad you understand the challenges of accuracy.  While I was not trained as a journalist, I practiced the "old school" rules.  Things like confirming from three independent sources, using quotes wherever possible so it was the opinion of the observer instead of the reporter, etc.  A few times I had someone complain that we hadn't gotten the story straight, so in the interest of fairness we would give them a chance to restate their case and, if they still felt it was needed, would print a clarification.  How I wish I could read a news story today that doesn't begin with the reporter's opinion about the issue instead of simple statements of fact about what happened! 

In that vein, I must confess to an error.  Last night I realized that I was recommending the wrong Obama book.  Instead of "Dreams from my Father" I should have listed "The Audacity of Hope."  I've only read a few chapters but even they made it clear that he believes government is the solution, that individuals cannot be trusted to deliver better solutions, and that regulations should be used to achieve what the law does not or that lawmakers are unwilling to do for political reasons. 

Elaine Nelson
2012-10-01 12:07 PM

The supporters of a book are an indication of its bias.  If Rush Limp Paw recommends it is is because he agrees with its premises.

Nathan Schilt
2012-10-01 7:24 PM

Really, Elaine??? You might want to think about how your generalization would apply to non-fiction books you think are great. Could you be a bit more subtle in shouting out your favorite fallacies? Because I like and recommend a book, it must be biased? Please! Presumably, the corollary would be, if you like and recommend a book, that constitutes prima facie proof that it is not biased, right?

"Rush Limp Paw"?? Could you be any more puerile? If you can't intelligently discuss the facts or argument of a book without impugning its motives and readers, you should probably seek refuge in the liberals favorite reboubt - pretend it doesn't exist. Did the NYT review the book? If not, it's a good bet that it doesn't exist.

Personally, I didn't care for the book. I'm skeptical of psychopunditry. I don't think Obama's highly conventional leftist political ideology needs to be explained by putting him on Dinesh D'Souza's anti-colonial couch, though that ideology is certainly firmly embedded in the metanarrative of the Left, and I have high regard for Dinesh D'Souza, who has skewered multiple atheist antagonists in debates. I seriously doubt that Dreams of My Father was actually written by Obama, though that book certainly does invite the kind of psychological detective work that D'Souza has done in The Roots of Obama's Rage. I strongly dislike the title of the book, because I just don't think the word "rage" fits Obama very well. He's more of a whiner. I might have liked the book better if it had been titled The roots of Obama's Jeremiad.

Joe Erwin
2012-10-01 10:35 PM

That Obama actually has written three books himself is well established. 

Stephen Foster
2012-10-02 9:41 AM

Joe,
 
It’s pointless to go down this road. I’ve discovered that the name Obama is to the far right as mentioning Niagara Falls is to The Three Stooges (whether you actually mention him or not).
 
As for reading, the reading list I would recommend to Messrs. Schilt and Noel in this context is solely The Great Controversy; particularly chapters 25, 35, and 36.
 
Something tells me that they are just about as likely to read those chapters as I am to read D’Souza’s book.

Joe Erwin
2012-10-02 11:19 AM

Right, Stephen. If we are truly accountable for how we spend our time, I suspect that we will have to pay for the time we spend arguing with people who believe bizarre and groundless internet rumors....   8-: )

Joe Erwin
2012-10-03 9:04 AM

I'd also recommend reading, and re-reading, Philippians 4:8, in any translation. Dwelling on internet rumors, and books designed specifically to promote false and destructive rumors, will not bring anyone closer to the Truth or the kingdom of God. 

Nathan Schilt
2012-10-03 11:12 AM

You're no doubt right, Joe. And neither will a post-prandial bowl of Hagen Daz bring anyone closer to the Truth or the Kingdom of God. Why don't you reread some of your comments here, particularly the one attacking Dubya, and tell us how the writings that inspired your false and destructive beliefs brought you closer to the Kingdom of God? Then look at all the other qualities that St. Paul encourages us to dwell on, and tell us how many of your comments on this blog best exhibit those qualities. I am presuming that your translation doesn't include judgmentalism, self-righteousness, disingenuousness or hypocrisy.

Joe Erwin
2012-10-03 2:49 PM

Sorry, Nathan, I'm not interested in arguing with you about which of us is the most pedantic or obnoxious. I will concede that it could be me.

Nathan Schilt
2012-10-03 12:01 PM

I took you up on your recommendation last weekend, Stephen. I don't see in those chapters what you read into them. I see nothing that warns against a Christian culture where the moral laws of God are enshrined and obeyed. Rather, she decries the repudiation and misuse of scripture to reject God's law and secularize of culture. She warns against skepticism; against popular teachers who declare that the law of God is no longer binding. She sees the spiritual darkness during Roman supremacy as a direct result of Roman political rulers having suppressed the scriptures. What forces today are trying to eradicate Biblical principles from culture?

When she speaks of religious powers gaining political control she is making a qualitative and a quantitative statement. Qualitatively, she is talking about the church using the power of the state to enforce dogma, punish dissent from doctrine, and punish heresy. It is clear from context that the primary dogma that she has in mind is the correct day of worship. Nowhere does she conflate the general moral values of the Judeo-Christian religion with religious doctrine or dogma. Quite the contrary. She attributes the generalized moral and spiritual decline in society to a rejection of the truth that God's Holy law is binding. And it is this repudiation, ironically facilitated by religious leaders, that paves the way for using the power of the state to suppress the central feature of God's Holy law - the seventh day Sabbath.

Quantitatively, Ellen White is not concerned about just any level of religious influence in government. She says the religious power must SO control the government that the authority of the state will also be used by the church to accomplish her own ends. The slippery slope argument, that Biblically-based moral values have no place in the legal structure of our country because they could be an entry drug for those who seek a religious state, makes no sense for those who read Ellen White with an open mind. It would make as much sense to argue that we shouldn't consume fats because it could lead to obesity.   

Stephen Foster
2012-10-03 2:08 PM

You have demonstrated (for Elaine, one of two persons to yet complain) why I have found it not only necessary, but expedient, to copy and paste various salient paragraphs from the The Great Controversy.
 
By doing so, I have successfully avoided subsequent accusations of ‘spinning’ what White wrote. When you use her—or anyone’s—exact words the chances for misunderstanding and/or misinterpreting what they meant to convey are reduced.
 
When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of "heresy." In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.
 
Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. GC 443
 
Obviously Nathan, in order for “the religious power” in our nation to “so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her ends” it must obtain or secure power and control.
 
If it is true, that “Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines;” then whenever the church or religious institutions openly seek to obtain secular power in the U.S. through the political process, and become successful in doing so, there is trouble a-brewing.
 
It is therefore ominous whenever religious leaders of any political persuasion; or political leaders of any religious persuasion speak in terms of seeking to obtain civil power as a means of winning the nation for Christ and/or returning the nation to Christ.

Stephen Foster
2012-10-03 2:37 PM

Of course, I should add Nathan that your straw man (“I see nothing that warns against a Christian culture where the moral laws of God are enshrined and obeyed.”) needs to put on some clothing.
 
No one, to my knowledge, has suggested that White warned against a culture in which moral laws are enshrined and obeyed.
 
What you mean by “Christian culture” and “moral laws of God” can bear elaboration.
 
Would a “Christian culture” be what I say it is and would “the moral laws of God” include the fourth commandment?

Nathan Schilt
2012-10-03 8:51 PM

No straw man at all, Stephen. You have argued that we need to worry about overtly religious politicians who advocate a vital role for Judeo-Christian values in the fabric of our society. And I am pointing out to you that Ellen White never hinted that such an enshrinement of God's moral laws was an entry wedge for church powers to exert a dangerous influence over government. I think she makes a distinction between dogma and doctrine on the one hand, and general moral laws of God on the other. She focuses on doctrinal claims - especially those doctrinal claims of other Christians that Adventists disagree with. And it is the attempts by religion to use the state to enforce dogma and doctrine that she warns against. 

No, I don't think those general moral precepts include the fourth commandment (at least the seventh day Sabbath). Of course reasonable minds can certainly differ on this issue. Ellen White seems to suggest that disregard for the Sabbath command will be the denouement of a general disregard for God's laws. This is somewhat puzzling, since pious, God-fearing Christians had for hundreds of years been "disregarding" the seventh day part of the Sabbath command.

But Ellen White was not a systematic theologian, or a very critical thinker. She saw reality in prophetic terms. For example, her statement that, whenever the church has gained secular power, it has used the state to punish dissent from her doctrines, really makes no sense. What historical referent did she have in mind? What secular state power had existed in history? Was the the Roman government a church power? She condemns it for suppressing Christianity. All  centralized political powers, throughout history, whether they are religious or secular, have used their authority to punish dissent from their doctrines. So Ellen White is kind of all over the park if you really try to analyze what she says.

I can understand why you just keep repeating yourself by quoting her over and over and over. You don't want to recognize that words have meanings, and that you have to look at the meanings of the words, and the context in which they were spoken to understand them. Hence, you conclude that covering your ears, closing your mind, and repeatedly "shouting out" Ellen White's words will somehow help us see that your perspective is the only correct one.  

Stephen Foster
2012-10-04 3:39 AM

Another reason “why [I] keep repeating [myself] by quoting her over and over and over” is because I want it to be abundantly clear that my perspective is based on this perspective of Revelation 12-14.
 
You have made it clear that your perspective is not the paradigm from which you consider the church and state issue.
 
You think that certain things EGW says really make “no sense,” and that she was not “a very critical thinker,” and “all over the map;” which are all opinions that you are free to have.
 
However since I concur with her perspective and have admitted that it is the paradigm I use in approaching these matters, we simply can never agree on this.
 
It is more than interesting that you do not “include the fourth commandment (at least the seventh day Sabbath)” as among the “general moral precepts” that you feel should be enshrined and obeyed in America.
 
You say that “reasonable minds can certainly differ on this issue;” which they do. Some people, believe it or not, think that the commandment to keep the Sabbath is a “general moral precept” of “God’s law” that should be enshrined and obeyed.
 
This is precisely why there have been, and continue to be, Blue Laws, Nathan! This is the point that you’re ignoring. All such laws are blatant violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
 
Among the most important misconceptions that I’ve ever seen expressed is: “Ellen White seems to suggest that disregard for the Sabbath command will be the denouement of a general disregard for God's laws. This is somewhat puzzling, since pious, God-fearing Christians had for hundreds of years been 'disregarding' the seventh day part of the Sabbath command.”
 
Any way you cut it this is an astonishing statement from a Seventh-day Adventist. What may I ask is puzzling to you Nathan, about the seventh-day Sabbath having been disregarded by Christians being key to the prophecies of Revelation 13 and 14?

Stephen Foster
2012-10-04 3:47 AM

Correction: The second paragraph should have read, “You have made it clear that this perspective is not the paradigm from which you consider the church and state issue.”

Ed Dickerson
2012-10-04 1:17 PM

I am puzzled. I was not aware that the Adventist church considered Ellen White arbiter of Biblical interpretation. Although I took the Ellen White Writings at the Seminary some time ago, the words 'lesser light' stick with me. We were also taught that Ellen White rarely makes an exegetical statement. Unless that has changed, I have no difficulty with both respecting her authority and differing in my understanding of some details.

Sometimes we get to focused on which bell rang to start the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and ignore the movements that caused the bell to ring.

Stephen Foster
2012-10-04 2:42 PM

Of course, we’re not talking about the spirit or letter of the law, Timo.
 
That conversation is being ably manned by Preston on his “Cheap Grace” column thread.
 
We are talking about prophecy; wherein the mark of the beast is at stake. You may consider some of what White has to say regarding this as “foolishness,” and of course this is your prerogative.
 
I do not put my many misstatements on the same level as interpreting prophecy. This is the benefit/purpose of quoting directly. I make so many misstatements that I would prefer to leave little/nothing to chance.
 
 
 
Ed Dickerson,
 
As a Seventh-day Adventist, you are free to accept or reject what White has to say on any topic.
 
I certainly understand how what she says regarding eschatological events in America make some uneasy from a church and state/political perspective.

What you should understand is that others of us wholeheartedly subscribe to this perspective. Those of us who subscribe to the EGW perspective of Bible prophecy view current events—and will certainly view future events—very differently from those who do not.

Ed Dickerson
2012-10-04 10:59 PM

Stephen,

You certainly have no idea about my perspective on church and state. You assume too much and filibuster against what you assume I think. Conversation and discussion are only possible when the parties both actually listen.

I'm still waiting to hear whether you claim Ellen White is making exegetical statements regarding the fulfillment of Rev 12-14, and if so what are they? Or do you just make a blanket claim for the whole thing? BRI might be interested. My studies have taught me that the process and the product of inspiration are far more complex than many think.

For myself, I would be OK if Satan plays it exactly as you expect him to. It seems to me history suggests otherwise.


Nathan Schilt
2012-10-04 4:23 PM

Interesting, Stephen. You don't seem to make a distinction between moral laws of general applicability and religious doctrines and dogmas, unique to particular churches. If a law was passed requiring all businesses to be closed on Friday, would that be unconstitutional? I understand a concern that Sunday closing laws could lead to the state making Sunday a mandatory day of worship. That would obviously be unconstitutional. But that has never occurred. And I think it far more likely that mandatory worship on Thanksgiving and Christmas will be mandated. Why don't those holidays concern you?

The reality, whether you like it or not, is that seventh day Sabbath keepers cannot claim credit for having kept the Gospel story alive for the past 2,000 years. It has been God-fearing Sunday keepers, who for centuries kept Sunday as well or better than Adventists keep Saturday. Reading Ellen White, one would think that the decline in morality and respect for God's law was a direct result of abandonment of the Sabbath by Christians. And of course that narrative defies historical reality. The reality is that Sunday keepers have become a lot less God-fearing over the past two centuries, and early Adventists were impressed that the day of worship had a lot to do with that reality.

What happened, at least in my view, is that, with the Enlightenment, intoxicating rationalism was insidiously undermining Christian belief a transcendent, supra-rational God. Adventist pioneers were led by God's Spirit to rediscover a truth that would check and balance radical rationalism. The truth was found in the one divine command, that above all others, has no real rational basis. We can't reason our way to seventh day holiness. We accept, as a matter of faith, that God  sanctifies and makes that day holy. It is a symbol of our refusal to worship the goddess of reason.

This is what the Great Controversy is about. Time and again in scripture, God confronts and challenges the natural order. He says, "Who are you going to believe - Me or your lying, finite eyes?" It was the test in the Garden, and it is our challenge today. The Sabbath is symbolic of something much bigger. It is a statement that we choose to order the cycle of our lives according to the word of God rather than a rationally derived principle that nullifies or renders otiose the divine command.

This, it seems to me, Stephen, is the larger issue that you are missing in your attempt to put rational, secular leaders in the seat of power. You think that the best way to make sure that the God of Heaven is free to rule in the hearts of men is to make sure His image is not seen in the public square, and to put the Goddess of Reason on the throne of political power. I think Ellen White would be appalled to see her words employed to advance the virtues of Godlessness in any sphere of human endeavor. 

Stephen Foster
2012-10-05 11:32 PM

“You don't seem to make a distinction between moral laws of general applicability and religious doctrines and dogmas, unique to particular churches.”
 
To the contrary Nathan, I do make such a distinction; but others don’t. This is why, and the only reason why, there are, or ever have been, or ever will be, Sunday Blue Laws! All Sunday closing laws are obviously unconstitutional because they mandate a form of observance of a particularly Christian practice and/or tradition.
 
“If a law was passed requiring all businesses to be closed on Friday, would that be unconstitutional?”
 
It is my understanding Nathan, that Friday is considered the Muslim holy day of the week. Any mandatory closing in recognition of a Muslim practice or tradition would, of course, likewise be unconstitutional.
 
“I understand a concern that Sunday closing laws could lead to the state making Sunday a mandatory day of worship. That would obviously be unconstitutional. But that has never occurred.”
 
By acknowledging “that Sunday closing laws could lead to the state making Sunday a mandatory day of worship” you are tacitly admitting that such closing laws themselves establish an (unconstitutional) observance of a Christian tradition and practice, and you lend credence and plausibility to the slippery slope theory; thus effectively rendering totally meaningless the observation that it “has never occurred.”

 “And I think it far more likely that mandatory worship on Thanksgiving and Christmas will be mandated. Why don't those holidays concern you?”
 
There you go (speculating) again, Nathan. To my knowledge, there are no laws mandating that commercial enterprises and stores are closed on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I have no problem with businesses choosing to close operations on any given day.

“The reality, whether you like it or not, is that seventh day Sabbath keepers cannot claim credit for having kept the Gospel story alive for the past 2,000 years. It has been God-fearing Sunday keepers, who for centuries kept Sunday as well or better than Adventists keep Saturday.”
 
Why would you think, or say, “whether [I] like it or not”? Sabbath keepers and “God-fearing Sunday keepers” alike “kept the Gospel story alive for the past 2,000 years.” I have no problem acknowledging the reality that the vast majority of those who kept the Gospel story alive over the past two millennia have been Sunday observers. That they observed Sunday in ignorance (of Sabbath) or that they kept it “better than Adventists keep Saturday” are mutually exclusive. They couldn’t keep a false Sabbath better than those who keep the true Sabbath.

“Reading Ellen White, one would think that the decline in morality and respect for God's law was a direct result of abandonment of the Sabbath by Christians. And of course that narrative defies historical reality. The reality is that Sunday keepers have become a lot less God-fearing over the past two centuries, and early Adventists were impressed that the day of worship had a lot to do with that reality.”
 
I don’t understand what you mean, Nathan. Your view of “historical reality” apparently differs quite a bit from Ellen White’s insofar as “the decline in morality and respect for God’s law” coinciding with an “abandonment of the Sabbath by Christians” is concerned. So, tell me, what else is new?

“You think that the best way to make sure that the God of Heaven is free to rule in the hearts of men is to make sure His image is not seen in the public square, and to put the Goddess of Reason on the throne of political power.”
 
Let’s try this; how about you allowing me to tell you what I think? I think that the ONLY way "that the God of Heaven is free to rule in the hearts of men" is for men to willingly open their individual hearts to Him and let Him in.
 
The “public square” is an amorphous term. (Or do you actually mean government property?)

“I think Ellen White would be appalled to see her words employed to advance the virtues of Godlessness in any sphere of human endeavor.”

Forgive me man, but this is rich, as they say; coming from someone who believes that some things she says really make “no sense,” and that she was not a “very critical thinker,” and “all over the map,” etc.
                                             
I have used this before and, unless you’ve seen the movie, you won’t appreciate it; but “let me worry about Luca.” In other words (tongue in cheek), I appreciate your concern; but allow me, on my end, to take the responsibility for that about which EGW might be appalled.




 





Ed Dickerson
2012-10-06 11:17 AM

Stephen, since you have taken a proprietary role concerning Ellen White, perhaps you can direct me to some exegetical statements about Rev. 12-14 in the closing chapters of Great Controversy. I have just reviewed them and found homiletical and rhetorical references. Most interesting to me was the following statement: "It has been shown that the United States is the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns."

Wow. Has been shown? She did not say, "I was shown," "has been shown conclusively," or simply "the United States is the power, etc." Instead of direct assertion, she states it in a rather indirect, far from conclusive fashion.

Who had "shown" this? Most likely she was referring Uriah Smith, who borrowed much of his interpretation from prominent protestant clergymen. While Mrs. White recommended Smith's book, she made it clear it was not inspired.

Whatever the case, this is not an exegetical statement, such as "Here John is pointing to the United States as the Lamblike power."

Awaiting examples.

Stephen Foster
2012-10-06 12:34 PM

Not being a theologian, I can only give you my opinion regarding Ellen White and what you call exegetical statements. Don’t get it twisted, I most definitely have not taken, nor do I hold, a proprietary role or position concerning EGW.
 
I subscribe to her perspective and it is the paradigm from which I operate as regards American church and state issues. If it isn’t yours, we’ll probably disagree.
 
I consider the so-called Conflict of the Ages Series of books to include a few exegetical statements; and contain prophetic insights on Biblical precepts, narratives, principles and prophecies.
 
“As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies relating to the last days especially demand our study. The last book of the New Testament scriptures is full of truth that we need to understand. Satan has blinded the minds of many, so that they have been glad of any excuse for not making the Revelation their study. But Christ through His servant John has here declared what shall be in the last days, and He says, ‘Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.’ Rev. 1:3." CO 133
 
I realize that this quotation isn’t from The Conflict of the Ages Series; and, I’m not sure whether it qualifies as an exegetical statement or not; but, to servants, what else could Revelation 1:1-3 mean? 

Ed Dickerson
2012-10-07 6:39 PM

As to your quotation, I would say that is largely a homiletical use of  Rev 1:3. Having said that, I puzzled quite a while about what you were trying to say with this post.  Are you implying that others have not studied Revelation? I would be glad to talk to you anytime about Revelation and its interpretation.

I think Rev. 1:3 is an important text for understanding how to interpret the book, but I imagine my take would surprise you some.


Ed Dickerson
2012-10-06 10:48 PM

Since you "subscribe to her perspective" you might find it interesting to read her understanding of inspiration. You can find it in the introduction to the Great Controversy.

Joe Erwin
2012-10-07 8:25 AM

So, today is the day 1,400 pastors across the nation will deliberately challenge the IRS to revoke their nonprofit status by endorsing (or opposing) specific candidates for elective offices. This is part of the ongoing "freedom of speech from the pulpit" campaign. Personally, I would like to see a counter movement....

Stephen Foster
2012-10-07 5:58 PM

What form might a counter movement take? I wonder whose idea this was anyway.
 
Hmmm…sounds like something very much worth investigating. 

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