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Are We Being Propagandized?

Several decades ago, I did a stint teaching freshman composition at a community college. The unit on persuasive writing included a section on techniques of propaganda. The hope was that students would use well-researched facts and good logic in making their arguments, while learning to recognize propaganda in advertising or political campaigns.

Though the following list is very incomplete, see how many of these techniques you recognize in speeches and news reports in the current political campaigns.

  • Red Herring – using data or issues that are irrelevant to the discussion or question at hand, then claiming they validate the argument
  • Ad hominem – attacking an opponent’s character, as opposed to attacking his or her argument
  • Ad nauseam – Using tireless repetition of an idea, that when repeated many times, may be taken as truth
  • Bandwagon – Attempting to persuade the target audience to take the course of action everyone else is taking
  • Name-calling – inciting fears and arousing prejudices to cause hearers to think negatively of an opponent
  • Scapegoating – assigning blame to an individual or group to distract attention from the need to fix the problem for which blame is assigned
  • Testimonials – using famous or beautiful people to deliver the message

The issues that this country faces call for a serious discussion of the issues. I hope that you will join me in requiring that those seeking election speak their positions honestly and clearly so that we can make informed decisions when we vote.

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What Are “Reproductive Rights”?

From the lowly one-celled amoeba to the amazingly complex human being, each species has been given a means to reproduce itself, thereby perpetuating its kind. God’s directive to Adam was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” The Declaration of Independence stated that our rights are given to us by nature and nature’s God. There should be no question that every American has the right to reproduce.

Today, however,  the term “reproductive rights” refers to the process meant to halt the reproductive process before its fruition, abortion. That’s the nature of the deceiver, who comes disguised as the father of lies. Somehow, the use of the word “rights” gives false legitimacy to the practice. The only reproductive rights being violated by abortion are the rights of the unborn child. Even more importantly, the child is losing his/her God-given right to life.

Of course, the other euphemism for abortion, “pro choice”, is deceptive as well. The argument that a woman has the right to choose what to do with her own body causes no disagreement with most freedom-loving Americans as long as she doesn’t violate the rights of another. However, her choice to engage in sexual activity may result in an unwanted pregnancy. In that case, she will have another opportunity to exercise her pro-choice position. Will she choose marriage, adoption, single parenthood or abortion?

With the preponderance of sex education from kindergarten through high school, every woman of child bearing age should be fully aware of the activities that result in pregnancy. She should also be familar with ways to prevent it. But once conceived, the unborn baby is an individual with different DNA than either the mother or father. He/she is dependent on the mother for sustenance and protection, but that is true for all infants. Sonograms have shown babies inside the womb trying to avoid the abortionist’s instruments, which seems to imply that the natural inclination of the baby is to choose life.

Please hear this: If you’ve had an abortion, God will forgive you if you just ask Him. Get counseling if you need to. Abortion is a dangerous medical procedure, but it affects women psychologically as well. An internet search of “abortion and suicide” revealed studies that all support the claim that the abortion rate among women and girls who had an abortion was significantly greater than those who chose to have the baby. In fact, having someone to live for decreased the suicidal tendencies in that population.

If you believe that abortion is a good thing, say, “I’m for abortion,” and let’s have the debate. If you must subvert the language to make it sound like something it’s not, you must know deep inside that something is wrong with the practice. In the United States, we are aborting over a million babies a year. Is this really what  the majority of Americans want?

While We Were Sleeping

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So how did we get from being a Christian nation to whatever we are now? How did the First Amendment change from being a protection of our religious liberties to one that disavows them? When did a phrase written in a letter from Thomas Jefferson come to mean that prayer, Bible reading or any other religious activity establish a religious denomination? After all, Jefferson used the phrase to  insure the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut that the First Amendment erected a wall of “separation of church and state” so that all religious practices would be protected from intrusion by the state, unless they “worked ill to their neighbor.”   And when did the public come to believe that this phrase written twelve years after the First Amendment was in the Constitution, and in fact, was the meaning of the First Amendment?

To find out, we must follow the trail of the phrase “the separation of church and state through the Supreme Court.

  • Reynolds v. United States (1878): The court used Jefferson’s letter in context to determine that individuals could not use their religious rights to violate civil laws, thus, defining the roles of religious and civil jurisdiction. In this case, Mr. Reynolds could not use his Mormon religion as a reason to violate the law against bygamy. Other possible violations might be polygamy, human sacrifice, infanticide, and, now, honor killings.
  • Everson v. Board of Education (1947): The opinion of the court surgically excised the phrase “the separation of church and state” from the context of Jefferson’s letter and added ” which must be kept high and impregnable”.  But they ruled that using the establishment clause of the First Amendment in this case would violate the free exercise rights of the defendants.
  • McCollum v. Board of Education (1948): The court ruled that the school’s provision of 30 or 45 minutes of voluntary, religious instruction was not allowed because the founders wanted children to learn Bible precepts, not a particular denomination. So the opinion distinguished between Biblical Christianity which was Constitutional and denominational Christianity which was not.
  • Engels v. Vitale (1962)The court disallowed the following, generic prayer to be said at the start of a school day: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.” Since the prayer was non-sectarian, any religious activity was now seen as the establishment of a religion.
  • Abington v Schempp (1963): was joined by Murray v. Curl: This is the famous Madelyn Murray O’Hair case in which the the Court ruled that Bible reading in school violated the establishment clause. This is said to be the case that kicked God out of our schools.

Several atheist plaintiffs and nine justices on the  Supreme Court had finally succeeded in breaking down the “wall of separation of church and state” and did it by using Jefferson’s phrase against us. Now, most Americans believe that the First Amendment of the Constitution is “separation of church and state” which means that God is not welcome in our schools or government. As a result, He’s not in our culture either.

Thomas Jefferson warned in his letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Nov, 1819:

If the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government, …then the Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law …

Is America a Christian Nation?

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Did you know that in 1892 in the case, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed that yes, indeed, the United States is a Christian nation. The Circuit Court in New York had decided that the church’s hiring of a rector from England was illegal under the law forbidding corporations to import foreigners as a source of cheap labor. It’s a long, but interesting decision, especially in light of some of the issues we face today.

The opinion of the court, penned by Mr. Justice Brewer, concluded that applying that law to a situation involving a church rector violated the spirit of the law. In so doing, he wrote “we are a Christian nation”. The decision cited many supporting precedents, including the following:

  • Commission to Christopher Columbus from Ferdinand and Isabella
  • First colonial grant to Sir Walter Raleigh from Elizabeth
  • Charters of Virginia in 1606, 1609 and 1611
  • Mayflower Compact
  • Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania Charter
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Constitutions of the various states

He concluded with the following:

There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people. While, because of a general recognition of this truth, the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 11 S. & R. 394, 400, it was decided that

“Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; . . . not Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.”

It’s important to note the distinction between “Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts” and “Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.” True Christianity resides in the heart, not in a set of legalistic rules.No one can force Christianity on another, although many have rejected the faith because of attempts to do so. All, no matter their belief systems, are able to live freely in this nation as long as they abide by the rule of law and do no harm to any other in their religious expression. Those freedoms are available precisely because we are a Christian nation.

Where’s Our Sense of Humor?

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What happened to our sense of humor, our ability to laugh at ourselves? Does anyone out there have an explanation? Better yet, do any of you have a suggestion about how to get it back?

It seems to me that it died when political correctness was born, along with that new right to be offended whenever someone says or does anything we don’t like. We’ve created so many groups of victims and inflamed them against one another that everyone is angry and distrustful of anyone in another group. Of course, some groups are fair game: Christians, conservatives, blondes, Southerners, Texans, and Texas Aggies. I happen to belong to each of those groups, except that I’m no longer blonde. Oh, but I’m old. That’s another group that should be included on the list,–old people.

For every reason that we are being divided, there are millions of reasons we could be united. Just because we differ in skin color or geographical location doesn’t mean we’re not alike in religious or political views, for instance. Or maybe we’re fans of the same team or enjoy the same music. Or maybe we’ve suffered similar tragedies. No matter what, we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are.

Laughter is the best medicine, but so-called humor today often consists of vitriolic rants against people who may have different political beliefs. Some comedians’ humor consists of strutting across the stage saying the f-word. How funny or creative is that? In contrast, Bill Cosby’s humor was born out of life experiences we can all relate to, sibling relationships, for example. His humor made us take a look at our own human foibles, and laugh. So where’s the next Bill Cosby? We sure could use him.

The Tipping Point

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We find ourselves at a tipping point in this country. Almost half the population is receiving government assistance to live, while the rest is working twice as hard for half as much. Increasing oil prices have inflated the cost of food, clothes, and any other goods that are petroleum based or that must be grown or transported. Unless something is done before the beginning of 2013, the increased tax burden from expiring tax rates will take most of the rest of our earnings.

Once that happens, where will the money come from? When I can make more money not working than working, why should I continue to pay my own way. One of the tenets of economics is that you get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you tax. I don’t need my masters degree in mathematics to figure out that at some point no one will be working and everyone will be poor and needy.

So what happens at that point? The same thing that has happened every time communistic or fascist societies have been formed in the past. After a period of anarchy, much like what is going on in Greece right now, someone will take control and everyone will be forced to work for that individual or the state. Napoleon rose to power in France, betraying the French Revolution; Hitler’s Nazi Party took control from the Weimar Republic in Germany; Stalin emerged following the Russian Revolution. In 1945, George Orwell wrote an allegory, Animal Farm, (www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/8.html) that illustrates the process. My favorite line from that book is, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” We will all be equal, except for those in control, but at what cost?

The only revolution that didn’t result in a totalitarian government was the American Revolution. The reason? Our founders fought for liberty, not equality, and the government was founded by Christians on Biblical principles. In the United States, we live under the rule of law, not privilege, which provides an even playing field for anyone who is willing to participate. Liberty gives us equality of opportunity. Americans are free to take risks that may be rewarded with success or result in failure, while those who wish to play it safe are free to do that as well.

We must remind ourselves what liberty is, and return whole-heartedly to those principles now. If not, we will have completed the cycle, returning as a nation to what our forefathers left behind when they risked it all for freedom in the new world.

Liberty or Death

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Many today have been taught that the American Revolution was about “taxation without representation,” but that’s only the seventeenth of thirty grievances that the Declaration of Independence listed against the King of Great Britain. No, money alone would not have been a good enough reason for a rag tag group of unorganized militias to take on a major world power.  The American Revolution was fought for one thing,– liberty. Maybe Patrick Henry said it most eloquently, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Their liberty was worth the risk. It was that important to them, and it should be to us.

An army of Red Coats and the most powerful navy in the world were visible foes. We are now facing an unseen foe that is in some ways, much more dangerous. Benjamin Franklin warned us that any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security would deserve neither and lose both.  Thomas Jefferson added, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” These warnings have been proven true throughout history every time they’ve been tried, before or since. We must wake up before it’s too late.