Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Hampshire Parental Notification Law

In what has been billed a good test case for what direction the Supreme Court might lean on abortion now that Chief Justice John Roberts has been seated, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood was heard before the high court today. The law, passed in 2003, requires a minor to inform her parents she is having an abortion, with the inclusion of a"bypass procedure" for emergencies. It would seem that the backers of the law originally feared a "medical exception" would be broadened to such a point as to render the law useless. Of course Planned Parenthood quickly moved in and through two court decisions the law has been found to be unconstitutional.

The really interesting aspect of this whole debate is how one can logically argue that a minor be permitted to have an abortion without at least notifying the parents, if not obtaining their consent, especially considering the following:

You must be at least 16 years old to drive a car
You must be at least 17 years old to see an R rated movie
You must be at least 18 years old to vote, smoke cigarettes, and join the military
You must be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol
Also consider the number of parental consents required for school activities and other types of medical procedures.

So how is it, given the above list of restrictions the law places on a minor, can people argue that a 14 year old girl can walk into an abortion clinic and undergo a procedure of this type without the parents knowing? The problem with pro choice faction is that they believe the right to have an abortion is sacrosanct and any law which might possible encroach upon a woman or in this case a young girl having an abortion must be struck down. Everything about our laws say minors lack the maturity and intellectual development to handle certain kinds of decisions or activities. We go to great lengths to protect minors from their worst enemy: their own inexperience. Yet in reference to a procedure which will terminate another life and based on the testimony of some women who have had abortions, can be emotionally damaging, we think these same minors can handle it? It is tragic that some people place a political objective above the welfare of the very people they claim to protect.

One final note on this issue is that this exact question of parental notification/consent proved very pivotal in deciding the 2002 Governor's race in Massachusetts. I was living in Massachusetts at the time and there was a hotly contested race between Mitt Romney, a Republican, and Democratic State Treasurer Shannon O' Brien. During the final debate the question of parental consent and notification was posed by moderator, Tim Russert(Meet the Press). O' Brien staked her position along the same lines as the opponents of the present case to the point that a shocked Russert directly asked her is she was advocating that 16 year old girls should be able to get an abortion without their parent's knowledge. She confidently answered she was in favor of that. When Russert asked for further rebuttal from Romney, he wisely declined any further comment realizing the huge political error she had made in backing such an unreasonable position. While there were many other issues which played a role, O'Brien's position did not play well with the heavily Catholic region. Masschusetts may be very liberal, but apparently not on this particular issue. O'Brien lost a few days later.

If anything else, imagine a 14 year old walking into a clinic, stating that she is pregnant, and asking for an abortion, and it being granted just in time for her to be home for dinner with Mom and Dad who are none the wiser. That cannot be right, yet some people believe it is.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Separation of Chu---Christianity and State

The venerable 9th Circuit Court of Appeals once again defied common sense and reasonable jurispendence by issuing a ruling supporting a school district for using a curriculum which calls for seventh grade students to role play as Muslims. The curriculum basically calls for 10-15 days of teaching on Islam including students role playing as Muslims during the 7th century by taking Muslim names, reciting Muslim prayers and sayings, making a pilgrimage to Mecca, and becoming well versed with Islam's 5 Pillars of Faith. This curriculum is done as a means of understanding Muslims and the religion of Islam better. The 9th Circuit rejected the lawsuits brought by Christian parents who were rightfully incensed that their child be forced to participate in the rituals of another religion.

All I can say is: Wow! If a Bible club so much as has a bake sale in a public school the ACLU comes in, literally, like a bat out of hell to stop it. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State cannot stop screaming about encroachment of Christians into state areas. Also, who can forget the Michael Newdow who tried and lost to have the words "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and is currently attempting to have "In God We Trust" removed from currency. If Christians so much as breathe wrong in the public arena, people are up in arms that the "Establishment Clause" has been violated.

It should be noted that I do not think prayers should be in school and I support separation of Church and state in order to protect the Church from having its beliefs dictated by the state. I also have no problem with anyone teaching various religions in school as a point of history and cultural diversity. Yet this so clearly crosses the line I am unsure how the 9th Circuit could get it so wrong. I can only imagine the outcry had someone introduced a curriculum in which children would role play as Christians, sing Christian hymns and recite Christian prayers. Each group would form a "church" with a pastor and decons. As they role played they would have a church service, practice things like tithing and even have an altar call to accept Jesus. There is no doubt in my mind it would be tossed out. Yet in this case, in the name of "cultural awareness" children are asked to effectively practice a religion which to some may be as offensive as apparently Christianity is to everyone else. If my child were placed in such a situation I would be deeply offended. Jesus stated in John 14:6 that He alone was the only way to the Father and that according to Acts 4:12 there is but one name under heaven by which man can be saved and only one source of salvation. Those two verses alone render any other religion false in nature and to participate in the rituals of another religion is tatamount to idolatry. One vital point missed by the world about most devout Christians is that this is a life or death matter for us meaning we would rather face death than deny Christ. Salvation in Christ is not religious exercise nor is it some kind of lifestyle choice. We hold that God is Holy and that He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us immeasurable grace and saved us from death, so pardon us if we tend to be very devoted to our Lord and have chosen not to tinker with that, even a little bit.

On the flip side, I would think that Muslims seeing American school children reciting their prayers and role playing their most sacred tenets would also be deeply offending. This line of thought is precisely why I do not want prayer in school because the last thing I need is an agnostic teacher praying a meaningless prayer which he does not believe himself and in the process denigrating the whole act.

It is clear that a double standard is at works when it comes to the introduction of Christianity in any public setting versus that of other religions. Christianity is the butt of all jokes on television and the followers of Christ are largely regarded as wackos. In cases like this I am reminded of words of the song "Taboo" by a group called Ian Eskelin:

For the sake of argument
Say Jerry Springer were the president
"No inhibitions" the national theme
There'd still be one thing making Donahue scream

Taboo we've come to the last
Taboo there's an audible gasp
When you claim there's a God who's objectively true
It's Taboo

Party on let freedom ring
For the shock jobs and the gangsta kings
But mention Jesus in the public square
The tables turn and the the tempers flare

Taboo that's a no can do
Taboo the ACLU
Say when we sneeze could we please drop the God Bless You
It's Taboo

God isn't really dead
He's under house arrest
Will amnesty protest?
No I don't think so

I could kiss a kangaroo
Sick my spitz on your shih tzu
No one blinks at anything i do
Until I claim the resurrection is true

Taboo I'm breaking the last
Taboo how about you
Do you claim Jesus name as the ultimate truth?
Taboo


Of course it is not like Christ did not warn us.

Giving All They Have

The Catalogue for Philanthropy released a study today which ranked the 50 states according to the charitable giving levels of their respective citizens. The CFP created the rankings based on the percentage of giving in comparison to the adjusted gross income of the state. In other words what precedent of actual income is donated to charity. The winner: Mississippi followed by Arkansas largely considered to be the poorest and also most maligned states in the union for level of intelligence. At the bottom of the list? Try New Hampshire and Massachusetts, considered to be the center of American academia and civilization as we know it. Without getting into the gory details it should be noted than in actual dollars MA gave three times more money than MS which would be a laudable but MA enjoys over 4 times the amount of income as does MS. Also of note is that most of the top giving states have a very visible Evangelical church presence and also it should be noted that the first so called "blue state", the designation for a state which went for the Democrats in the 2004 election does not come until #29, New York. I find that compelling since conservative are often accused of not caring for the poor and weak because they refuse to spend Federal money on such things. This data could point to the idea that conservatives are simple more content with vesting their money into charities in order to help the poor rather than the Federal government.

Christ was right when he noted that the poor widow who have two pennies gave more because she gave all she had.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oops! He did it again...

Wow, this is really getting old. Pat Robertson, under the false assumption that God the Father had ceded judgement duties to him instead of Christ proclaimed that people of the town in Pennsylvania who recently voted out school board members in favor of "intelligent design" curriculia could be subject to punishment from God. He also implored them that in the event of such a disaster to call on Charles Darwin instead of God.

I scarcely know where to begin. It has become quite clear to me that Robertson is operating on an Old Testament mentality. Punishing towns or nations, assasinating political leaders, and legislating morality are all hallmarks of the nation of Israel under the convenant of Moses. It did not work nor was it intended to work. The Old Testament was a clear illustration of God's holiness and His justice setting the stage for the grace of Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. Christ made it crystal clear that judgement is currently on hold. His work on the cross was meant to pay the ransom for our sins. We operate under grace and an even higher standard of holiness which can only be achieved through faith in Christ, the grace of Christ, and justification before God out of His love (Ephesians 2, Romans 1-8) Which leads us to the real puzzle here. From what portion of the Bible does Robertson reason this considering the Old Testament system was fulfilled in Christ, and everything we know about God since the death and resurrection of Christ is that we extend grace to those who are our enemies not ill will. If distaster strikes Dover, PA, the Church should be the first ones in and the last ones out rendering help not sitting back laughing as though they "got what was coming to them" Christ said love your enemies, Paul said bless those who persecute you, and if we carry Christ's love how can we say these things? The voting decision of a city in reference to elected officials is not a rejection of God, it is the rejection of their agenda. What Robertson has ultimately failed to grasp is that we have been vested with a mission to make disciples of all nations(Matthew 28) and the best and first way to do that in engage people where they are at in an effort to share the love of Christ and the Gospel that they can be forgiven of their sins, and have fulfillment through Christ. Telling people because they have rejected God, they should continue to turn from God if they find trouble in their life is a complete contradiction of the Gospel. Robertson is wrong, and I can only hope that the Holy Spirit strikes at his heart and convicts him that he may turn from his poltical agenda and invest his efforts, resources, and energy into making disciples as Christ commanded. The best way to move a nation is not to change the laws, it is to change the hearts of the people. One final note, I believe Christians will one day have some honest battles to fight to protect their right to believe certain things and practice our faith the way Christ prescribe it to us. What Robertson is doing is accelerating that timetable and creating greater hostility torwards honest Christians which only makes our lives and our work more difficult.

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