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Voter ID Laws and the Integrity of our Electoral System

It’s not often that I post things of a political nature on my blog, most of the time I stick to theological issues and book reviews. However I had a conversation with a good friend of mine the other day concerning voter ID laws and the impact of voter fraud on our electoral system. My friend took the position that voter fraud is a virtually non-existent problem, with very little discernible impact on electoral outcomes… and that such laws disenfranchise voters and are a tool used by the political right to suppress minority votes.

My response to him follows…

Small numbers can make big differences… consider if you will these two examples;

(1)    Kansas City MO – A Democratic primary between J.J. Rizzo and Will Royster in a district where the victor was certain to win the general election. Rizzo received about 50 votes illegally cast by citizens of Somalia. The Somalis, who didn’t speak English, were coached to vote for Rizzo by an interpreter at the polling place. Rizzo ended up winning by 1 vote.

(2)    Norm Coleman vs. Al Franken – An 18-month investigation found that 341 felons in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area illegally voted in the 2008 election. Compared with the 2.7 million votes cast in the state, 341 seems insignificant. But after the recount of the U.S. Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken, Franken’s margin of victory was only 312 votes. The illegal votes cast by felons were not discovered until after the recount, making 341 an awfully significant number.

It’s a fact that voter fraud is not only real, it’s a real problem, with real, often long-term implications, and to suggest  that voter ID laws somehow disenfranchise people or that they are some scheme devised by the Republicans to suppress minority voters who tend to vote in favor of Democrats is totally ludicrous.

The vast majority of low income people have IDs just like the rest of us, even the poorest of the poor.  To suggest that these individuals don’t have such identification doesn’t withstand scrutiny because without such identification they wouldn’t be eligible to qualify for the programs the left surely wants them qualified for and dependent upon. Government programs that are designed to help the low income people such as Medicaid and Welfare require photo identification from participants simply because the administrators of such programs want to eliminate fraud. Why should our electoral system be any different?

The political left loves to scream the political moniker “disenfranchisement” from the rooftops every chance they get, this is especially true when denouncing the enactment of voter ID laws. But when we realistically look at the situation it’s the legitimate voters that are being disenfranchised right here and now by a failure to verify the integrity of the system. When improper ballots are commingled with legitimate ballots, there is no way to retract illegitimate ballots from the system. Defending a system that doesn’t take meaningful steps to prevent illegitimate ballots from being introduced into an election undermines the votes of legitimate voters. The reality is that there is no malicious purpose behind asking a person to show an ID and prove their identity prior to voting.

In fact in 2008, SCOTUS upheld a voter-identification law in Indiana, saying that requiring voters to produce photo identification is not unconstitutional and it affirmed the position that states have a “valid interest” in improving election procedures and deterring fraud.

In most states I would need a photo ID to drive a car, buy a gun, cash a check, open a bank account, board an air plane, purchase some prescription drugs, rent an apartment, be admitted to a hospital, get a marriage license,  have a beer, or even buy a tube of superglue at my local Wal-Mart… Would those regulations be disenfranchising to me, or are they somehow suppressing my rights if I didn’t have a photo ID? Hardly! Even Michelle Obama, a committed opponent of voter ID laws required people to not only present a valid photo ID but also their social security number to the secret service in order to attend one of her book signings, in that context apparently people she wants voting for her husband here in a few weeks aren’t welcome at some of her events… the liberal hypocrisy on this matter is monumental!

Simply stated… voter ID laws are simply a way to protect the integrity of our electoral system, nothing more, nothing less.

 

 

 

Book Review – “Globequake” by Wallace Henley

“And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”  (Matthew 24:6-7)

For as long as I can remember there have been folks who have fretted and fussed over nearly every catastrophic event that has played havoc with our world, believing it to be a warning of the nearing Apocalypse. I will be the first to admit that whenever we our world gets hammered with things of a life altering nature, such as the political upheaval and economic despair that is going on daily all over the world, it is difficult not to think that Christ must be coming soon. Though it may appear that Jesus is indeed be coming soon, we must remind ourselves of the fact that no one knows the day or hour at which Christ shall return.

So then how is it that we are to live in the face of a world gone crazy until such a time that the Father decides it time to send Jesus back to get us… how do we live in a world that’s falling apart? To that question there is no simple all-encompassing answer, but in his latest book, “Globe Quake” Wallace Henley shares with us that there are indeed things that can be done, in our lives as individuals, in the life of our family, the life of our church, and in the life of our nation to help us navigate on our journey through a world that seems headed toward utter destruction.

It’s a proven fact that change, especially that of the intense, life altering variety has the ability to shakes up society, culture and even our longstanding beliefs, as individuals and society as a whole. Henley compares these changes to the movement of the tectonic plates deep within the earth, as they move the earth literally tears itself apart and reshapes itself. For most anyone this type of action would be cause for alarm, but contrary to being an alarmist, Henley goes to the one place we should go first for answers, and yet seldom do… Scripture!  He reminds us that while there is always change, there is also always God! This book brings us back to our proper moorings, reminding us that indeed God is in control.

Now as an admitted OCD perfectionist who loves order over chaos I very much appreciated the logical, easy to follow format of the book, its content is well conceived and well presented as evidenced by the simple, yet effective layout of the book, which flows in an ascending order of spheres

The Sphere of person

The Sphere of church

The Sphere of family

The Sphere of education

The Sphere of governance

The Sphere of business-marketplace

It’s obvious from the onset that Henley is an experienced author with the ability to relate his points to everyday life, and though it took me a while to get into the book, buy the time I was a few pages in I was hooked. He writes not as a preacher, nor as a journalist, or politician, he writes as a concise mixture of all three, in a fashion that is very This book was my first experience with Wallace Henley, and I must say that I will be checking out his other offerings in the near future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishersas part of their “booksneeze program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review – “The Coming Revoultion” by Dr. Richard G. Lee

Revolution – it’s a word that is equally loved and despised, embraced and rejected. To some it’s a rallying cry, yet to others talk of it is nothing short of treason.

Revolution is a “buzz-word” in our modern lexicon, and has been one in every society since the dawn of creation!

Now because of the subject matter, and open defense of the Judeo/Christian foundation of our nation some, specifically those on the political or theological left will be apt to reject the content of this book without even giving it a cursory examination. The book that I speak of is my latest read from the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze program entitled “The Coming Revolution” by author Dr. Richard Lee, pastor, author, speaker, and American patriot. It must be stated from the onset that Lee writes from a very conservative (some would say hyper-conservative) viewpoint, so a note to many of my liberal friends – This book will be very hard, if not impossible for you to swallow, but I encourage you to try it anyway!

If one were to give this book a fair reading they would see that this is no lightweight conservative diatribe without merit, but a clear and concise case that the world in which we live is changing and revolution is indeed in the air. As we read through the book the author proves that contrary to modern academia our nation’s founders were indeed Christians who not only knew the importance of God’s leading, but were ones who followed that leading and accomplished great things. 

Lee takes us on a whistle-stop journey on the history of our country from the founding of the first English settlement in Roanoke, and the Puritans at Plymouth Rock, to the actions of a group of preachers known as the “Black Robe Regiment,” and of the founding of our great nation by a group of freedom loving revolutionaries who would be branded as traitors by their own government!  

Lee speaks of the ideals that made the American experience something that had never been seen in the world before, freedom for all, religious tolerance, moral worldview, and independence, concepts which may seem somewhat cliché by today’s standards, but ones that were truly a radical departure from the norms of Europe and colonial America.

Not only is this a book pertaining to history, it’s also one that deals with the here and now, and how what we see and experience today was not only shaped by our history, but how that history does indeed play a role in our future. Lee does a masterful job taking us through the world of faith in the 21st century, here in America and abroad. As a Minister I’ve personally seen the impact of the stories he tells and statistics he shares first-hand. His presentation won’t win him any awards for political correctness, for the picture he paints is one of sobering reality, a truly sad commentary on a great nation that has turned its back on the God of her youth.   

Politically speaking I’m a conservative libertarian; in that I believe the federal government exerts way too much control over the daily lives of Americans. I’m an unashamed advocate of small government, believing that as much as 90% of the regulation that comes out of Washington D.C. is unconstitutional in nature, and far exceeds the authority granted to the U.S. Congress by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.  

For me personally the most important part of the entire book is the last section, entitled “what you can do.” Here Lee moves beyond theory to action, giving his readers 6 actions that they can personally take to aid in helping our nation regain her proper footing; the steps are as follows…

(1) Prepare Personally (2) Partner with Others (3) Learn the Process (4) Participate in the Arena (5) Proclaim the Truth (6) Persevere until We Prevail.

These are concepts that aren’t necessarily new, in fact they are universal truths that have played out time and again the history our world and of our nation. In this book Lee, though a minister and theologian does focus on religion in this book, he focuses on heritage, one that was guided and directed by a resounding faith in God and His providence. 

If you’re a person who doesn’t find politics or the true history of America interesting, then chances are you won’t like this book. If you’re like me and are concerned about the spiritual and political trajectory of our nation and believe that America is being driven off course by an out-of-control government then you’ll probably find this book to be helpful.

As another review of this book stated “if you are a supporter of President Obama and his agenda, you will read this book as if it came straight from Fox News. If you are a supporter of the Tea Party, you will hail this as the greatest book of our time.”

From my perspective I view it as neither one. For I don’t agree with every conclusion made or position taken but I do believe that Lee’s book is quite beneficial, in that it forces us to examine the present and future in light of the past, and on that note I agree with Oliver North that it serves as a “powerful reminder about why America is great and worth fighting for.” So I therefor recommend it to others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their “booksneeze program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review – “The Fight Of Our Lives” by William J. Bennett & Seth Leibsohn

Most Muslims are not fundamentalists, and most fundamentalists are not terrorists, but most present-day terrorists are Muslims, and proudly identify themselves as such.”

Professor Bernard Lewis. The Crisis of Islam

The above statement is a truth that cannot be denied, a truth that if ignored by the American public and our government, will have long -lasting consequences for our nation. It is this fact that underlies William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn’s latest book, “The Fight for our Lives.” In this book they present us with the unpleasant reality that we as Americans are in the fight of our lives, this fight isn’t something that is on the horizon or off in some distance future, it’s here, and now, and truth be told it’s been here for some time. This fight is one that is two-fold. It’s a war against a theocratically fueled enemy that despises everything we stand for and  against a home-front trapped in the nets of political correctness,  a journalistically driven veil that has covered that has obscured the true intents and desires of our enemy, rendering us incapable of seeing it for what it is, ourselves for who we are.

From the very beginning the authors make it clear that rather than simply detailing the incidents, attempts, and actions of our enemy they seek to refocus American attention on the war against radical Islam and to highlight the necessity of a ‘cultural defense’ of our country. That is their stated goal and for all intents and purposes they reached for what they sought, and did so in an engaging and ethical fashion.

The book begins with something that is from our not too distant memory, the terrorist attack that took place at Ft. Hood, which took the lives of fourteen people. Why start there? The answer is a simple one, this event is the ‘poster child’ for our nation’s lack of resolve when it comes to fighting. After the December 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, then President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation before a joint session of congress, and in that speech he made this statement…

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory… that we will make very certain that this form of treachery will never endanger us again”  (p.2)

It was a similar state of mind that permeated the American conscience in the days just after 9/11, but that drive and direction was not to last. It was soon overshadowed by the dual menace of complacency and Political correctness, two issues that are as much of a threat to our national security as the acts of the perpetrated by the terrorists themselves.

To give insight on this issue the authors dig into the investigation showing that it was nothing short of a total ‘whitewash’ of the events that took place, and the motivation behind the action. The authors went on to point out that if we want to avoid another tragedy like we experienced at Ft. Hood then we must start calling thing as they really are, Muslim terrorists are really terrorists, and evil does indeed exist in the world.

The authors go on to give an in-depth examination of how we as a nation have arrived at the point where we place political correctness above national security, where we place not offending people above protecting the lives of people, and where we give legitimacy to groups that are nothing less than terrorist thugs, discussing the often overlooked or moreover avoided lessons that can be learned from the fight surrounding the Ground Zero mosque, putting into perspective that the issue wasn’t about religious freedoms or rights, but about what is “right.” Throughout the context of this section of the book they echo the sentiments of the Apostle Paul, that just because something is ‘permissible,’ that doesn’t mean that it’s ‘beneficial.’

Also brought back to light was the idea that our national focus has been diverted from ‘winning’ the wars we’re currently engaged in to ‘ending’ those wars. If the goal of winning isn’t at the forefront, it will take longer for those conflicts to end, that’s an undeniable fact of war. If we ignore that we do so at our own peril. The authors rightly point out the program of ‘appeasement,’ that is being enlisted by the Whitehouse, appeasement towards terrorists, appeasement towards Iran, and apologies the world over for getting involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless other conflicts from decades past. Obama is free to disagree with the war, but he’s not free to take the path of appeasement with our enemy’s. Attlee and Kennedy discovered the disastrous results of such actions during their interactions with the Nazi’s in the days leading up to WWII. If America doesn’t remember it’s past and learn from it, she will undoubtly repeat it. A convincing case is made that our current government instead of denouncing terrorists and their supporters, is now changing focus and classifying illegal immigration protesters, pro-life advocates, and veterans as possible terrorists, without any evidence to back up such allegations. (p.74)    

Towards the end of the book the authors courageously do something that most in the media refuse to do. They draw out the differences between Jewish/Christian and Muslim violence. The Media is quick to point out atrocities carried out by Jews and Christians down through the ages, as if it somehow justifies the current atrocities perpetrated by the radical Muslims. They point out that those who equate the violence in the Bible with the violence in the Koran fail to realize the difference between a ‘historical account,’ and a ‘living injunction.’ The Bible records actions of war and violence, the Koran calls for currents actions of war and violence. To compare them would be to compare apples to oranges. 

The book also rightfully makes a call for specific reforms when it comes to Muslims engagement of their own people. The call is for moderate Muslims to denounce their radicalized brothers and sisters for their terroristic activities and statements against themselves, the West and against Israel. Making their point they say;

A truly reformed Muslim would lament extreme Islam and would denounce the application of Sharia law, prohibit polygamy and underage marriage, and extend social and legal equality to nonbelievers, and would weigh in against terrorism everywhere and always.” (p.125)

 It can’t be overstated that until the Muslims hold their own in check and quit appeasing them or in some cases outright supporting them, by qualifying their action the danger of Radical Islam will not be abated.  

The authors end the book by making a very direct and very correct observation;

 “…let us call good and evil by their proper names. Let us know the enemy as the enemy and not hide behind sophisticated philosophies and synonyms and pseudonyms. And let us know ourselves for who we are and what we’ve done, for our citizens here, as well as for the immiserated abroad. Let the double speak and nonspeak end and let the relearning and rededication begin. To win the fight of our lives we must do nothing less.” (p.148-149)

This is a bold and readable book that makes a powerful, and in many quarters controversial case against political correctness and the appeasing of terrorists and those who support them. One may disagree with some of its points made, but to ignore its central conclusions at your, and our, peril.”

The Fight of Our Lives is not a smear campaign against Muslims, but an informative and well-cited work with a timely message. Unlike many books written today on this topic, this book goes beyond mere conjecture, and does a tremendous job at substantiated all its claims with mountains of footnotes and indexes. This book proves the old axiom that Dynamite truly comes in ‘small packages.’  It’s worth reading. I highly recommend this book to all Americans. Read it, ponder its contents, then draw your own conclusions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their “booksneeze program.”

I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

A Few Thoughts on Gun Control

40 Reasons For Gun Control

1. Banning guns works, which is why New York, DC, & Chicago cops need guns.

2. Washington DC’s low murder rate of 69 per 100,000 is due to strict gun control, and Indianapolis’ high murder rate of 9 per 100,000 is due to the lack of gun control.

3. Statistics showing high murder rates justify gun control but statistics showing increasing murder rates after gun control are “just statistics.”

4. The Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban, both of which went into effect in 1994 are responsible for the decrease in violent crime rates, which have been declining since 1991.

5. We must get rid of guns because a deranged lunatic may go on a shooting spree at any time and anyone who would own a gun out of fear of such a lunatic is paranoid.

6. The more helpless you are the safer you are from criminals.

7. An intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if shot with a .357 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

8. A woman raped and strangled is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.

9. When confronted by violent criminals, you should “put up no defense — give them what they want, or run” (Handgun Control Inc. Chairman Pete Shields, Guns Don’t Die – People Do, 1981, p.125).

10. The New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice about guns; just like Guns & Ammo has some excellent treatises on heart surgery.

11. One should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a civil engineer for a better bridge, a surgeon for internal medicine, a computer programmer for hard drive problems, and Sarah Brady for firearms expertise.

12. The 2nd Amendment, ratified in 1787, refers to the National Guard, which was
created 130 years later, in 1917.

13. The National Guard, federally funded, with bases on federal land, using federally-owned weapons, vehicles, buildings and uniforms, punishing trespassers under federal law, is a “state” militia.

14. These phrases: “right of the people peaceably to assemble,” “right of the people to be secure in their homes,” “enumerations herein of certain rights shall not be construed to disparage others retained by the people,” and “The powers not delegated herein are reserved to the states respectively, and to the people” all refer to individuals, but “the right of the people to keep and bear arm” refers to the state.

15. “The Constitution is strong and will never change.” But we should ban and seize all guns thereby violating the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments to that Constitution.

16. Rifles and handguns aren’t necessary to national defense! Of course, the army has hundreds of thousands of them.

17. Private citizens shouldn’t have handguns, because they aren’t “military weapons”, but private citizens shouldn’t have “assault rifles”, because they are military weapons.

18. In spite of waiting periods, background checks, finger printing, government forms, etc., guns today are too readily available, which is responsible for recent school shootings. In the 1940’s, 1950’s and1960’s, anyone could buy guns at hardware stores, army surplus stores, gas stations, variety stores, Sears mail order, no waiting, no background check, no fingerprints, no government forms and there were no school shootings.

19. The NRA’s attempt to run a “don’t touch” campaign about kids handling guns is propaganda, but the anti-gun lobby’s attempt to run a “don’t touch” campaign is responsible social activity.

20. Guns are so complex that special training is necessary to use them properly, and so simple to use that they make murder easy.

21. A handgun, with up to 4 controls, is far too complex for the typical adult to learn to use, as opposed to an automobile that only has 20.

22. Women are just as intelligent and capable as men but a woman with a gun is “an accident waiting to happen” and gun makers’ advertisements aimed at women are “preying on their fears.”

23. Ordinary people in the presence of guns turn into slaughtering butchers but
revert to normal when the weapon is removed.

24. Guns cause violence, which is why there are so many mass killings at gun shows.

25. A majority of the population supports gun control, just like a majority of the population supported owning slaves.

26. Any self-loading small arm can legitimately be considered to be a “weapon of mass destruction” or an “assault weapon.”

27. Most people can’t be trusted, so we should have laws against guns, which most people will abide by because they can be trusted.

28. The right of Internet pornographers to exist cannot be questioned because it is constitutionally protected by the Bill of Rights, but the use of handguns for self defense is not really protected by the Bill of Rights.

29. Free speech entitles one to own newspapers, transmitters, computers, and typewriters, but self-defense only justifies bare hands.

30. The ACLU is good because it uncompromisingly defends certain parts of the Constitution, and the NRA is bad, because it defends other parts of the Constitution.

31. Charlton Heston, a movie actor as president of the NRA is a cheap lunatic who should be ignored, but Michael Douglas, a movie actor as a representative of
Handgun Control, Inc. is an ambassador for peace who is entitled to an audience
at the UN arms control summit.

32. Police operate with backup within groups, which is why they need larger capacity pistol magazines than do “civilians” who must face criminals alone and therefore need less ammunition.

33. We should ban “Saturday Night Specials” and other inexpensive guns because it’s not fair that poor people have access to guns too.

34. Police officers have some special Jedi-like mastery over hand guns that private citizens can never hope to obtain.

35. Private citizens don’t need a gun for self-protection because the police are there to protect them even though the Supreme Court says the police are not responsible for their protection.

36. Citizens don’t need to carry a gun for personal protection but police chiefs, who are desk-bound administrators who work in a building filled with cops, need a gun.

37. “Assault weapons” have no purpose other than to kill large numbers of people. The police need assault weapons. You do not.

38. When Microsoft pressures its distributors to give Microsoft preferential promotion, that’s bad; but when the Federal government pressures cities to buy guns only from Smith & Wesson, that’s good.

39. Trigger locks do not interfere with the ability to use a gun for defensive purposes, which is why you see police officers with one on their duty weapon.

40. Handgun Control, Inc. says they want to “keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Guess what? You have the wrong hands.

Significant portions of this article are excerpted from Michael Z. Williamson’s excellent and witty piece, “It’s amazing what one has to believe to believe in guncontrol”  Thanks to Michael for his insightful contribution to the gun control debate.

Permissible Does Not Equal Beneficial

The plans of an Islamic group to build a Mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero has recently ignited a firestorm of controversy among our nations diverse cultural and ethnic populations and  the political pundits and media groups have fanned the flames. It’s an undeniable fact that there are going to be actions in our nation that by their very existence are going to be controversial, and this is indeed the case with what is known as the Cordoba Initiative, which is now being called the “Park 51 Project.”

The question about the constitutionality of building a Mosque in this location isn’t and never has been the key issue. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of one’s religion;

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”   

The Cordoba Initiative is free under our constitution to build a Mosque or cultural center anywhere they want to in accordance with the laws and building codes of the given location.

We live in the “freest” country on earth, having more personal freedoms than any other nation in the history of the world, but just because someone has the “right” and ability under our laws to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be done. There are many things in life that we are “allowed to do, but that freedom doesn’t mean that they are always “advisable” for us to do. The building of this Mosque is just such a situation… Allowed YES! Advisable… NO!  

Though written specifically to Christians the words of the Apostle Paul are great words of wisdom that one would do good to heed in such a situation;

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”                                  

(1st Corinthians 10:23-24)

Across the United States, families of the September 11th Terrorist attack victims have come out against the project being built in the vicinity of Ground Zero. We live in a nation where we are constantly being told that we need to be conscious of the feelings of those around us in regard to our actions, and many family members of the victims feel that to build a Mosque in such a place is insensitive to those who lost their lives. While most Muslim American leaders and organizations support the project as an act of friendship and peace, others oppose it as an unnecessary provocation.

Even some Islamic terrorist organizations have weighed in on the controversy. Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is Hamas chief of the Gaza Strip, said of the planned Cordoba Initiative;

 “We have to build everywhere,” and “In every area we have, Muslim, we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer.” 

Really? It’s the “only” site of prayer, what about the other dozen or so Mosques that already exist in Manhattan? One would think that if the Initiative directors were trying to promote an improvement of “Muslim/West relations” they would be more responsive to the concerns that are being raised, which at this point they appear not to be.

As to what should be done in this situation, I think William Bennett who served as Education Secretary under President Ronald Regan had some great insight. He suggested that Muslims should learn from the events surrounding a Catholic convent near the Auschwitz concentration camp. A group of well meaning Carmelite nuns opened a convent just outside of Auschwitz, with the aim to pray for the souls of all who had died in that atrocity. However when Jewish leaders protested, viewing the action as insensitive, Pope John Paul II ordered the nuns to relocate. They closed the doors of the convent and moved it. If a Muslim group wants to build another Mosque in Manhattan, they can do it, it’s just advisable that they exercise some common sense in the matter and move it away from Ground Zero. It seems to me that we are experiencing yet another instance where the “double standard” is prevailing. As Americans we are expected to be be sensitive to Islamic sensibilities but it seems that Muslims needn’t be saddled with such expectations.

Serious questions have also been raised concerning the funding of this project. Some congressional leaders such as Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and New York Representatives Peter King and Rick Lazio asked for an investigation of the group’s finances, especially its foreign funding. However defenders of the project including State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have summarily rejected demands for investigation of the financial aspects of the project claiming that such action would violate the First Amendment rights of the group to the free exercise of religion.  Unfortunately Cuomo and Bloomberg are forgetting that the constitutional provision to free exercise of religion was never meant to serve as a cover for extremist or potentially criminal activities that may indeed threaten our national security.  

So what information is being given about those behind the Cordoba Initiative, about its mission, leadership, and financial backing? In a word very little! They did however release a statement about the name of the project. The following is from their blog which can be found here –

www.cordobainitiative.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/cordoba-a-city-of-historical-significance/ 

“Often people ask why the name Cordoba is used for the work of our organization.  It was chosen before, and is reaffirmed because of the rich history of religious collaboration promoted by 11th Century Cordoba, Spain. At that time, Cordoba was the capital of the Muslim world, yet it set itself apart with the how it respected the Christian and Jewish populations.  Each respective community was given religious freedom, and the ability to self-govern their own communities.  For instance, Hasdai ben Shaprut, the governor of the Jewish community, became an influential minister to the Caliph, increasing his people’s well-being and turning Cordoba into the most significant center of Jewish learning and culture in the world. This collaborative energy had a significant impact.  Cordoba quickly became the world’s center for science, philosophy, and commerce.  That is why we chose the name Cordoba Initiative, because our mission is to bridge the gap between the West and Muslim world in collaboration, with dignity and respect.”

First of all I would like to know which history book they are reading from? Also if the name “Cordoba,” is such a grand example of collaboration and unity between religions, why has the project name been changed to “The Park 51 Project?” Could it perhaps be that the meaning behind the name “Cordoba,” has nothing to do with peace and has showed the ludicrous nature of the facade of peace that Imam Feisal Rauf and his backers are presenting to the world? 

The original Cordoba Mosque was created from a gutted and renovated Catholic Cathedral, when the Muslims conquered that region of Spain. At the time centers of power were the churches, which the Muslims converted into Mosques. In America the centers of power are our financial districts. Is history repeating itself? We each have to decide the answer to that one for ourselves.

To understand what’s at stake here we have to consider a couple of key questions; First who is the man behind the project?  Secondly we have to know the viewpoint of the religion that he’s representing? Answering these questions presents the needed insight to determine to the best of our ability if this project will accomplish its stated aim, to “improve Muslim-West relations.”    

So first off we have to ask the question; who is Feisal Abdul Rauf?

According to the Cordoba Initiative website He is the selected Imam (Religious Cleric) and chairman of the “Cordoba Initiative” In 1997 he founded the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) an organization dedicated to bringing Muslim and non-Muslim Americans together through programs in academia, policy, current affairs and culture. He has regular ties to the Council on Foreign Relations, (let’s leave the conspiracy theories where why belong; in area 51) and is an advisor to the interfaith Center of New York. For those interested, his full bio can be found here –

www.cordobainitiative.org/?q=content/staff-bios#Imam%20Feisal%20Abdul%20Rauf

Though his bio sounds quite impressive it should also be noted that Rauf is also the author of a book entitled

What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America

The title of the book gives the impression that it’s one that would promote understanding between Islam and the Judeao-Christian majority in the United States. But the title of the book is deceiving, given that it’s been published in Malaysia under the title

A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa [Muslim Evangelism] in the Heart of America Post-9/11 (Emphasis mine)   

And who was responsible for the publishing of this book? It was none other than the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) both organizations have been known supporters of the terrorist organization Hamas. Not only are these groups supporters of Hamas, both the ISNA and IIIT were unindicted co-conspirators in the Justice Departments terrorism financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which funneled tens of millions of dollars to Hamas for its terrorist activities.

It should also be noted that Hamas has been a designated terrorist organization by the United States for more than 15 years and according to its charter is wholly dedicated to the complete and utter destruction of Israel.  

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”    

(Hamas Charter)

As to the religious, political, and socio-economic viewpoint of Islam consider the following;

So does Islam hold any political beliefs that run in opposition to the freedoms that our founding documents guarantee? In Islam is there equality under the law, in areas of gender and minorities? In Islam is the government allowed to operate independently of religion? In Islam are there allowances for the free and open exercise of other religions? The answer to these questions is NO!  Islam is a political ideology masquerading as a religion; there is indeed a religious component, but the religious aspect is by design inseparable from the ideological and social standards attached to it.   Wherever Islam, and the Sharia law that accompany it prevail in a nation, all religious and political freedom is eventually given a death sentence. Evidence for this is clearly seen in the current conflicts in Western Europe where the spread of Islam has made major gains over the past two decades.

A Snapshot of History…

Islam was founded by a Muhammad, a clever power hungry individual who was obsessed with imperialistic world domination, and ethno-religious cleansing. He framed his desires in the context of a religion to give it validity. Islam claims to be of Abrahamic decent, which isthe origin of both Judaism and Christianity. But when one compares the beliefs and history of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, it becomes apparent that they aren’t related to one another. Though they may be an ethnic connection, Islam isn’t an offspring of God’s covenant with Abraham as it claims; the evidence simply isn’t there to support that accretion. The god of Islam and the God of Abraham aren’t the same God. Islam and Christianity aren’t compatible with one another, they never have been and they never will be. 

So we see that Islam is not simply a world religion, it’s is a brutal totalitarian political ideology that seeks to conquer and enslave others under a dictatorial theocracy. That statement sounds harsh, and the reality of it is. It’s imperative that no one hears what I’m not saying. I’m NOTsaying that all Muslims are jihadists, and I’m NOT saying that all Muslims are terrorists. Far from being sadistic individuals bent on destruction, most Muslims are peace loving individuals who are enslaved by religion that is bent on world domination and destruction of those who won’t submit to its totalitarian ideology. Some who read this will call me a racist a bigot, or say that I suffer from Xenophobia. Those labels are inaccurate, but are ones that for some, specifically those who are incapable or unwilling to carry on a civilized dialogue, are the only means of response that they know how to use. To clarify a point; opposition to the location of the Mosque doesn’t make a person a bigot, a racist, or a Xenophobe.

So the question has to be asked; How should we as Christians approach and relate to our Muslim neighbors? The answer to that one is simple, yet often hard to live out in our overcharged politically correct society. We should love our Muslim neighbors; while at the same time speak the truth about what Islam is and what its goals are. Christians sometimes fail to follow the path of love and mercy Jesus modeled for us. That being said we must always remember that one of the key components of love is a commitment of accountability to the truth. We should pray that all Muslim’s would reject their false god and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The great commission was given to us as a command, not a suggestion. The command to first “Love God,” and secondly to “Love Others” was also a command not a suggestion. Scripture maintains that God loves and wants a relationship with every person in the world; this includes everyone on every side of this argument.     

So in my opinion, after looking at the avaliable information in respect to the above asked questions it is appears to me that the program is nothing more than a move to erect a triumphal monument to Jihad and Sharia Law overlooking the great scar on Manhattan Island where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. A place where it must be remembered that thousands of were slaughtered in the name of Allah. If more information is provided down the road in response to such questions, my oppinion would be re-evaluated. Despite what is being said in the press by the Cordoba Initiative officials and their supporters this project isn’t a test of America’s constitutional commitment to religious liberty. America already has thousands of Mosques and Islamic centers stretching from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles establishing the fact of our nation’s commitment to religious freedom for all, including Muslims. We don’t need a Mosque, just footsteps from Ground Zero, to prove a point that has already been well established.   This project will not promote harmony as is claimed, but will only serve to re-open the wounds of those whose loved ones perished on 9/11.

In light of the outrage voiced by some of the pundits and political commentators who are accusing anybody who opposes the Cordoba Initiative of being racist and bigoted xenophobes, I have yet one more question. Where is the outrage from these same people at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who have drug their feet and reneged on promises made to St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox church concerning the rebuilding of their facility that was destroyed on 9/11, which by the way was the only church destroyed in the terrorists attacks, a church that had been on the site since 1922.

For nine years now the Port Authority has used bureaucratic obstacles and false promises to hinder the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church, while at the same time the  government bends over backwards to facilitate the building of a Mosque nearby. Though the particulars of the two projects are completely different and on the surface unrelated, the church and its supporters see a disconnect in the way the proposals have been handled.  If any house of worship should be allowed near Ground Zero it should first and foremost be St. Nicolas, and of that fact there should be no debate!

The Cordoba Initiative is a project that will test America’s resolve to face down an imperialistic jihad that aims, in the words of its leaders, “to destroy America from within.” This argument isn’t about the denial of religious liberty; it’s about the preservation of our national security, in the face of threat from radical Islam. In our country true freedom of religion should start with giving our own Judeo-Christian heritage the respect it deserves. To those in roles of authority in this situation all I can say is; How about respecting the wisdom of the majority of citizens for a change?

Anne Rice “Quits” Christianity

Obviously, thanks to our ever active 24 hour news cycle this is now old news, but sometimes things occur that instill in us different emotions, and this last week some of the emotions I experienced were shock and sadness. So I thought that I would share my thoughts on an unexpected and heart saddening situation…

Famed author Anne Rice recently announced via Face Book that she’s quitting Christianity, which came as quite a shock to many people after her much publicized re-conversion to the faith nearly a decade ago. Whenever I first hear about some major shift in the spiritual life of a celebrity my first reaction, based on past experiences to ask; “Is this just a publicity stunt?” this given the fact that faith and religion has been used over the years by many a celebrity to gain publicity and boost their popularity. Is this the case with this situation? After reading her own words as to her decision, I don’t think so. I believe that Anne has gone the way that all too many people in our world have, exchanging the truth of God for a lie. I could try to explain her decision but instead consider her own words;

It seems apparent that she wants to do the relationship with Christ thing on her own, while saying “Yes” to a fallen world and its values. This whole thing makes me wonder what she thought she was doing as a Christian these past ten years, was her idea of Christianity relegated to being “anti-” things. If so she’s sadly missed the point of what it means to be a Christian. It’s also equally true as Christians we’re called to be in relationship with God and with each other. These are not simply suggestions, they are direct calls given to the church. Believers are called to gather together in community, to help shore up each other’s faith. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul.

“not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

It appears that Rice is struggling with what it truly means to be a “Christian,” but in our current society, that has been infected with the cancer of political correctness, she’s far from being alone. Even within the church she’ll have no problem finding good company with regard to her new found, or newly announced, pro-homosexual, pro-feminist, perspectives. In our country there are plenty of theologically liberal churches to sustain all of her views, and that in itself is a truly sad commentary on the state of the American Church. She says that she rejects Christianity in Christ’s name, and will follow Christ instead, quoting the words of the Apostle John,

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

It must be pointed out that “loving one another,” includes holding one another accountable to the statutes of scripture. Approving and enabling sin is far from “loving,” for it is in reality “apathetic,” and apathy is lethal to the spiritual life of the individual and Christ’s church.  

It also pains me to think about the fact that the “Christ” she is going to remain loyal to is one of her own making and not the Christ of Scripture. It’s an easy thing to follow Christ when we’ve created Him in our own image. It’s sad to think that the woman who had seemingly experienced such a life transformation through Christ is now trading in that relationship for a deficient one.   

Her statements concerning loving Christ but not Christianity; i.e. “Christians” is one that has been made thought the centuries and unfortunately it is one that will undoubtedly be with us until the end of time. Any of us who have been Christians for any amount of time can understand her frustrations with the way that some “Christians” act. It is easy to get frustrated with Christianity, and I think many of us have been, I know I have. There are so many voices out there claiming to speak on behalf of Christianity, some of them are good and some of them are downright reprehensible, and this is the crux of the problem! However the answer to the issue isn’t the rejection of Christianity, but taking a stand for what Christianity is supposed to be. One cannot reject Christianity and embrace Christ at the same time. To be a “Christian” means that the person “belongs” to Christ, the two cannot be separated from one another. One cannot, in the name of Christ, quit being a Christian!

So as a Christian how should we respond to this situation? A lot of us who consider ourselves to be Christians often react to these types of situations a lot like James and John did when they saw Christ being rejected by a Samaritan village. We want to call down fire from heaven on the opponents of Christianity. There are some who have been taking this course of action in this situation. However Jesus’ response to His Apostles’ zeal ought to give us pause as to our own reaction;

“But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55-56)  

Ultimate judgment belongs to God, not to us! It’s not our place to question Anne’s salvation; we are simply called to hold our brothers and sisters accountable to the truth. We should never forget, and all so often do forget Paul’s words to the Galatian church;  

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another” (Galatians 6:1-4)

We should all be praying for Anne, let’s not demonize the prodigal daughter. Let’s give her room and encouragement to come home!