Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obama Pushing ObamaCare on Troops, Forcing Them to Pay at Least Triple for Care

Obama Pushing ObamaCare on Troops, Forcing Them to Pay at Least Triple for Care
President Obama has already gutted the Army in favor of out of control entitlement programs and now, he's going after military medical benefits in order to get more people on his ObamaCare rolls. In Obama's latest budget, military families will be forced to pay substantially more for medical care through the military while civilian defense union workers will continue receiving the same benefits.
The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
It seems as if Obama is trying to make joining the military so unenjoyable in order to decrease sign up numbers. First, he reduces their force to a level his own defense secretary says is ridiculous and dangerous, which means military members are spread even thinner for deployments and other duties. Second, his budget would force military members to pay more for medical benefits than their civilian counterparts. Why be a soldier when you can be a defense worker?
The administration is also pushing for more expensive Tricare payments for military members in order to force them onto ObamaCare, just like they are doing with private insurance plans. It's all part of the move toward single payer healthcare.
Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a familycurrently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
The military disapproves of the push:
Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement Feb. 21.
Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. In addition to the $487 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon is facing automatic cuts that could push the total reductions to $1 trillion.
“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”

Good and Bad News About Obamacare Ruling

Good and Bad News About Obamacare Ruling

Good and Bad News About Obamacare Ruling

The ruling by the Supreme Court on ObamaCare is astonishing, to say the least.
First the bad news. By a 5-4 majority the Court upheld ObamaCare as a tax under the Taxing and Spending Clause. This is shocking for several reasons. Congress stated in the law that its authority was derived from the Commerce Clause, not the Taxing and Spending Clause. The statute designates the monetary imposition for failure to obtain health insurance as a penalty, not a tax. There are other provisions in the law where Congress intended a tax, like the tax on tanning beds. But, the individual mandate was denominated as a penalty, not a tax. The statute itself says that Congress relied on the Commerce Clause for its authority to pass the law, not the Taxing and Spending Clause.
President Obama said publically the individual mandate penalty was not a tax. Congress did not promote the mandate as a tax. It would have been politically unpopular to do so, especially when Obama was saying he did not want to raise taxes on the middle class. The arguments in the lower courts were primarily focused on whether Congress had the authority under the Commerce Clause, because it was well-understood that the Department of Justice raised the argument of the Taxing and Spending Clause as a third backup argument. The arguments in the order of preference for the government were Commerce Clause, Necessary and Proper Clause, and Taxing and Spending if all else fails.
At the Supreme Court during six hours of oral argument, there may have been no more than 50 words on whether the mandate was authorized under the Taxing and Spending Clause, and the government’s brief was similarly almost silent on this issue. The argument focused on the Commerce Clause.
Chief Justice Roberts did a huge disservice by siding with the liberal Justices on the tax issue (Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Ginsburg). Had he been leaning this way, he should have reset the case for oral argument to focus on this specific issue. At least that would have allowed full briefing and oral argument on this issue. But, there was almost no attention paid to the Taxing and Spending Clause. It is incomprehensible why Roberts would not have the case reargued on this point.
The ruling upholding ObamaCare now brings into focus the issue of Kagan and her refusal to recuse herself. Had she done so, and I believe she should have recused, the vote on the Taxing and Spending Clause would have been 4-4, with no majority. The case would have then turned on the Commerce Clause in our favor.
Another problem with the Taxing and Spending ruling is that it makes no legal sense. The Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) is a federal law that prevents suits involving taxes until the tax is paid and a refund is sought. Until that time, the courts lack jurisdiction to entertain a challenge to the law. Here, the Court says the AIA does not apply, but it is nevertheless a tax. This is nonsense. If it is a tax, then the AIA applies, and suit could not be brought until the tax is imposed, which will not be until 2015 or thereafter. Until that time, the courts would lack jurisdiction to rule.
Here is the good news. By a 5-4 majority, the Court ruled that Congress lacks the authority under the Commerce Clause to pass the individual mandate. Congress lacks authority to force people to buy health insurance. Congress cannot regulate noncommercial inactivity (failure or refusal to buy health insurance). This is great news, because had ObamaCare been upheld under the Commerce Clause, Congress would have unlimited authority to regulate our lives. Today, Congress could force you to buy health insurance and tomorrow to join a health club, eat vegetables, or buy the infamous Chevy Volt car. There is good language in the opinion about how Congress lacks such authority, which was the main focus of the case. Roberts sided here with Kennedy, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas.
More good news. President Obama can no longer hide from his tax and spend ideologies. He can no longer say that he does not want to tax the middle class. As 2008 gave us ObamaCare, I think 2012 will take it away. I believe this ruling will activate many Americans to throw out tax and spend politicians and elect financially responsible members of Congress, who will run on the platform of repealing and/or defunding ObamaCare. I believe we will see the repeal and/or defunding of ObamaCare in 2013, with the new Congress.
Repealing or defunding ObamaCare will undo this mess, since the case was decided on the Taxing and Spending Clause. That part of the case will not have significant continuing harm once ObamaCare is repealed and/or defunded, because passing a future tax is politically unpopular and such legislation must involve a tax, which limits the kind of laws Congress may entertain. In other words, while Congress’s authority to tax and spend is quite broad, it cannot force you to do certain activities other than pay the tax. You can be taxed for Medicare/Medicaid, but you cannot be forced to accept such coverage. However, if the Court had upheld ObamaCare under the Commerce Clause, you could still repeal or defund the law, but the continuing ill effect of expansive power would remain for future Congresses to use. The authority of Congress to regulate and to force us to act would be unlimited. This is the bullet we dodged with this ruling. Shockingly, there are four Justices on the Court who agree that Congress has such expansive authority. Elections do have consequences.
At the end of the day, this ruling undermines the confidence of the American people in the Supreme Court and the rule of law, but it will energize the grassroots to get involved and vote and will result in new faces in Washington, D.C. We dodged the Commerce Clause bullet, which would have been disastrous. The ruling is stunning and is a major surprise, but it could have been worse (one more vote and we would have a different America), and we can clean up the mess left by the Court’s ruling. That must be our task moving forward.
One final note: Our case of Liberty University v. Geithner will be conferenced at the Supreme Court and sent back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. We still have the First Amendment Free Exercise argument regarding forced abortion funding. As in all of the recent suits on the HHS mandate over forced abortion funding/insurance, our case has that claim. We will continue to pursue that claim and work to repeal or defund the law.”

Christianity Rejected, Deemed 'Evil' for Opposing Homosexuality

Christianity Rejected, Deemed 'Evil' for Opposing Homosexuality
By Audrey Barrick , Christian Post Reporter
June 27, 2012|2:37 pm
  • john piper
    Amid ongoing "gay pride" celebrations and the continual push for gay marriage ...
  • gay protest
    Can Christians ever escape being labeled as “hateful” people while standing ...
  • A new survey conducted by LifeWay Research finds that 44 percent of Americans ...
  • United Methodist Church
    How should Christians express love and minster to couples living in a ...
  • gay
    A new Gallup poll shows that a slight majority, 54 percent, of Americans ...
The Gospel Coalition held a Council meeting several weeks ago to discuss current issues and the state of ministry among evangelicals. Among the topics discussed was homosexuality.
John Piper, pastor for Preaching & Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and a TGC Council member, summarized what the pastors concluded during the meeting in a blog post last week.
"All the participants of the panel on homosexuality at The Gospel Coalition Council meetings agreed that we have entered one of the most difficult challenges to a gospel-centered approach to evangelism," he wrote. "The reason is not that the center of the Christian gospel has changed, but the center of the cultural gospel has changed. That center for many is the freedom to be GLBT and to be approved."
Piper said the argument against Christianity today is "not epistemological but moral."
"Christianity is rejected not because it is badly argued, or untrue, but because it is evil. And it is evil because it opposes homosexual practice," he explained. "The panelists agreed that, at least in major metropolitan areas, the issue of homosexuality ranks near the top of the reasons people reject Christianity, along with the problem of suffering and the exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way of salvation."
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A poll released by the Gallup Organization in May this year revealed that a majority of Americans (54 percent) believe homosexuality is morally acceptable while 42 percent say it's morally wrong. A decade ago in 2001, 53 percent had viewed homosexuality as morally wrong.
"[W]hether we want to make this a frontline issue or not, increasingly it is," Piper said of homosexuality. And pastors, he added, must address it.
But as one TGC Council member pointed out, "There is no demilitarized zone in the homosexual debate."
"It is almost impossible to express a compassionate disapproval of homosexual practice without being demonized," Piper observed.
But this is nothing new, he added. Jesus' disciples were also in the midst of a similar culture some 2,000 years ago and were "maligned" for their beliefs.
The future is unclear as the cultural battle over marriage continues and as churches may have to face a new set of cases – such as whether to counsel divorce if one person in a homosexual relationship chooses to give his or her life to Christ.
For now, the TGC panel concluded: "One of the most powerful things we can do is fold into our churches men and women who have same-sex attraction and surround them with a bigger vision of life and love and relationships that make it possible for them to flourish in families and friendships. These stories may be one of the most authenticating messages for the Christian gospel."
The Gospel Coalition is a "fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures." Council members include Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Matt Chandler of The Village Church, D.A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Erwin Lutzer of The Moody Church.

White House Memo Urges Allies to Mislead on Obamacare Tax |

White House Memo Urges Allies to Mislead on Obamacare Tax |

White House Memo Urges Allies to Mislead on Obamacare Tax

President Barack Obama, Jay Carney
President Barack Obama on Air Force One with Press Secretary Jay Carney, right, and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on May 2, 2012. (AP Photo)
(  A memo published by White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe advises allies to mislead when they discuss the recent Supreme Court decision on the individual mandate, saying they should call it a penalty when it is in fact a tax.
“In light of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in Washington are trying to deliberately misrepresent the President’s record of cutting taxes for the middle class,” Plouffe wrote in his memo Friday.
“We welcome this debate on middle class taxes, and we urge you to seize this opportunity to go on offense to illustrate how the President and Democrats in Congress are standing up for the middle class.”
Plouffe’s memo offered several talking points that White House allies could use when discussing Obama’s record on taxes. One of those talking points misleads on the individual mandate, calling it a penalty instead of a tax.
“For those that can afford health insurance but stay uninsured—forcing the rest of us to
subsidize their care for free—a penalty is administered,” the memo reads.
Calling the mandate a penalty is false, since the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it was in fact a tax, not a penalty.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain in­dividuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.
Roberts rejected the idea that the mandate was a penalty, saying that even the Obama administration agreed that the mandate was not, in fact, a penalty.
“In distinguishing penalties from taxes, this Court has explained that ‘if the concept of penalty means anything, it means punishment for an unlawful act or omission,’ Roberts wrote. “The Gov­ernment agrees with that reading, confirming that if someone chooses to pay rather than obtain health insur­ance, they have fully complied with the law.”
In other words, because the law does not punish people for not having insurance beyond taxing them, the mandate is not a penalty.
The Obama administration has twice avoided the facts of the court’s ruling, which upheld the mandate as constitutional because it is a tax.
Obama himself did not admit the mandate was a tax in his Thursday press conference, praising the ruling, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called it a mandate while talking to reporters aboard Air Force One Friday.

Last Trumpet Newsletter - July 2012

Last Trumpet Newsletter - July 2012

Last Trumpet NewsletterVolume XXXI           Issue VII           July  2012
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Fax: 920-887-2626 Internet:
A Collision Course With Sudden Destruction!
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
I Thessalonians 5:3
"And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."
Mark 13:7-8
"They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, we will not hearken."
Jeremiah 6:14-17
In this issue of the Last Trumpet, we will focus on the dangerous collision course of our present world and the actions of mankind which will soon face judgment. Since the earliest days of human existence, men have fought wars with other men out of spite, anger, envy, jealousy, and fear. There have been many calls for "world peace" throughout the ages. Yet we live in a time when the whole world is at risk of descending into a state of chaos and all-out war. The "wars and rumours of wars" which Jesus warned us about in Mark 13:7 are now coming to pass, and each new day seems to bring reports of conflict and strife around the world. We are living in a time when prophecy is rapidly being fulfilled, and I firmly believe that it will not be much longer before our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, returns.
In recent months we have heard much discussion about the potential for a war between Iran and Israel. The contempt between each nation became even more evident in May 2012 when Iranian Major General Hassan Firouzabadi issued a statement saying, "The Iranian nation is standing for its cause and that is the full annihilation of Israel." (1) In a similar statement during a recent speech, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, proclaimed, "In light of the realization of the divine promise by almighty God, the Zionists and the Great Satan [America] will soon be defeated." (2)
While speculation abounds over whether or not a war with Iran will break out, most people fail to realize that the United States and Israel are already waging a covert war with Iran. According to a recent report, former American President George W. Bush, with the assistance of Israel, launched secret computer attacks against Iran, and Barack Obama has only accelerated the program since he took office. The action, which was code-named "Olympic Games," involved the use of a computer worm known as Stuxnet to disable nuclear facilities in Iran. (3) Although waging cyber warfare through computer systems may seem like a safer way to carry out attacks against other nations, there is growing concern that the United States could face a catastrophic scenario if Iran or other nations decided to retaliate by launching a counter cyber-attack. United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed grave concern over the vulnerability of the American infrastructure at a hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in June 2012. "There are a lot of capabilities that are being developed in this area. I'm very concerned that the potential in cyber to be able to cripple our power grid, to be able to cripple our government systems, to be able to cripple our financial system would virtually paralyze this country. And, as far as I'm concerned, that represents the potential for another Pearl Harbor as far as the kind of attack that we could be the target of using cyber," stated Panetta in his testimony. (4) Regarding the possibility that the world may soon experience widespread cyber-attacks, computer security expert Eugene Kaspersky made an alarming statement during a conference at Tel Aviv University. "It's not cyber war, it's cyber terrorism, and I'm afraid the game is just beginning. Very soon, many countries around the world will know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I'm afraid it will be the end of the world as we know it. I'm scared; believe me," Kaspersky said. (5)
Meanwhile, violence in Syria has continued to escalate despite the presence of observers from the United Nations who were sent to the Middle Eastern nation in an attempt to quell the uprising and broker a peace deal. An estimated 13,000 lives have been lost since the unrest began in January 2011. (6) To date, all attempts by the United Nations to restrain Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been stymied by Russia and China who are allies with the Syrian regime. A summit held in June 2012 between leaders of the Western world and Russian President Vladimir Putin has failed to convince Russia to withdraw its support for Syria. "We believe that nobody has the right to decide for other nations who should be brought to power, who should be removed from power," Putin told reporters following the summit. (7) Regarding the talks, Barack Obama made the following statement, "I wouldn't suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of an all-out civil war." (8) According to the Foreign Minister of France, Laurent Fabius, the nation of Syria is already in the throes of a civil war. "If you can't call it a civil war, then there are no words to describe it," Fabius declared. (9)
Reports have surfaced stating that Russia has continued to provide the Assad regime with weapons to carry out attacks against the Syrian rebels. "On a daily basis, on an hourly basis, we are seeing Russian and Soviet-made weaponry used against civilians in towns all across Syria," stated Victoria Nuland, a spokesperson for the State Department of the United States. (10) It has also been reported that Russia has now deployed two warships with a contingent of Marines to Syria in an effort to protect its assets on a military base in Tartus. (11)
This world is becoming increasingly volatile, and a state of conflict could soon engulf many nations around the globe. When we consider the alliances between Iran, Syria, Russia, and China, it becomes easy to see how any attacks against those nations could eventually lead to World War III. This widespread strife exists today despite the formation of such organizations as the United Nations, which was supposedly created to bring about world peace. Here let it be noted that there have been over two hundred and forty wars since the formation of the United Nations in 1945. (12) Furthermore, a cursory examination of the United Nations' website will reveal that they have an entire section under the heading "Peace and Security." (13) That phrase is eerily reminiscent of the words "peace and safety," which were used by the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:3 when he wrote, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them…" The truth is that this world will never attain lasting peace as long as the majority of the people continue to reject the Prince of Peace. The good news is that you as an individual can reach out to God, and in doing so, attain lasting peace within your heart. If you have not yet fully given your life to God, I encourage you to do so now. With the presence of our Saviour in your life, you can truly embrace his words "be ye not troubled" even though this world faces new threats, wars, and rumours of wars each and every day.
Scientists Predict The End Of The World!
This year has already been a busy one for alarmist scientists who fear the effects of climate change, global warming, and overpopulation. Yet another report has surfaced on the topic, and this time the scientists involved are claiming it could lead to the end of the world. The study was written by a group of twenty-two biologists and ecologists and published in the June 7, 2012, issue of the journal known as Nature. (14) Professor James Brown of the University of New Mexico, and one of the co-authors of the report was quoted as saying, "We have created a bubble of human population and economy… that is totally unsustainable and is either going to have to deflate gradually or is going to burst. If it's going to burst, the consequences are really going to be grim for people as well as biodiversity and the rest of the planet." (15) The report's lead author, Professor Anthony Barnosky of the biology department at the University of California-Berkeley, stated, "The net effect of what we're causing could actually be the equivalent to an asteroid striking the Earth in a worst-case scenario." (16) Another co-author of the report claims that it may already be too late. "We may have already passed the tipping point or we may not get an early warning," said Alan Hastings, an ecologist at the University of California-Davis. (17) Finally, Arne Mooers, a biodiversity professor at Simon Fraser University, offered this brief summary of the study's conclusions, "Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly. More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover. Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short-term. We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species. It's a very tall order." (18)
According to New York Times writer James Gillis, the authors of the report are predicting that the world as we know it may end "within a few human generations, if not sooner." (19) Although this group of scientists may be correct regarding the timeframe of the earth's destruction, they are incorrect regarding the cause of the destruction. It has always been sin which has caused the world to grow progressively worse throughout history, and that is a trend which will continue until the end of time. I believe the recent barrage of reports from the scientific community warning of the earth's demise is an attempt to condition the masses to accept the harsh sacrifices which the rising antichrist system will claim to be necessary to "save the planet." After all, people are much easier to control if they are told that the very existence of the human race is at stake.
Surveillance In The Skies!
In recent weeks the development and deployment of unmanned drones has received a lot of coverage in the mainstream news media. Many Americans have grown increasingly worried about the possibility that this technology will be used to keep the people under constant surveillance. "There is a distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government. It's raising an alarm with the American public," said Jeff Landry, a Republican congressman from Louisiana. (20) Numerous police departments across the United States are already using drones, and in a May 2012 radio interview, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell expressed support for increased usage of the technology. "I think we ought to be using technology to make law enforcement more productive; it cuts down on manpower in the air - and more safe. That's why we use it on the battlefield," McDonnell declared. (21) McDonnell's statement raised the ire of John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia. "America is not a battlefield, and the citizens of this nation are not insurgents in need of vanquishing," Whitehead said. (22) In response to the controversy, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has introduced legislation entitled "Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012." Explaining his rationale for introducing the act, Paul wrote the following, "I do not want a drone monitoring where I go, what I do and for how long I do whatever it is that I'm doing. I do not want a nanny state watching over my every move. We should not be treated like criminals or terrorists while we are simply conducting our everyday lives. We should not have our rights infringed upon by unwarranted police-state tactics." Paul further went on to write, "If the warrant is not obtained, this act would allow any person to sue the government. This act also specifies that no evidence obtained or collected in violation of this act can be admissible as evidence in a criminal, civil or regulatory action." (23)
Although backlash against the deployment of drones has been building with the American public, it seems unlikely to dissuade the government from implementing the technology. Instead, they may simply use smaller drones which are much harder to detect. In fact, reports of strange flying objects hovering over group gatherings speculated that the United States government was using insect-like drones to spy on antiwar protests as far back as 2007. While it may not be possible to prove one way or another if the speculation was true, it was revealed in 2008 that the U.S. Air Force had developed miniature drones, also known as "micro air vehicles," which were the size of bumblebees. According to reports, these tiny drones have the capability to "photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists." (24) In a further development, the University of Pennsylvania has produced drones which have the ability to swarm together and fly in synchronized formations. Those who are responsible for the project are hopeful that their drones may someday be able to operate "with little or no direct human supervision." (25)
The Erosion Of Religious Freedom In America!
The United States of America is a nation that has been historically known for its religious freedom. Yet, in recent years we have seen the right to practice one's religion, particularly Christianity, being slowly stripped away. One shocking case recently occurred in the state of Wisconsin when a pastor from the village of Black Earth was sentenced to two years in prison for teaching his congregation to enact corporal punishment on their children when they misbehaved. What is truly remarkable and frightening about this case is that the pastor had not spanked any child himself and was therefore essentially imprisoned for his speech. Not only that, but the pastor was stripped of his church, and he has been forbidden to have any interaction with the congregation even after his prison sentence has been fulfilled. (26) This nation once prided itself on the guarantee of free speech, but it seems in this modern era, free speech is no longer guaranteed.
Another incident recently occurred in Buffalo, New York, wherein a Christian was ordered by police officers to cease the distribution of Christian tracts and was told that if he failed to comply he would be arrested. At one point during the dispute, a police officer snatched the tracts out of the man's hand and said, "I'm not playing. If you hand out one more tract, you're going to jail." (27) The Alliance Defense Fund or ADF has filed a lawsuit against the city of Buffalo in response to the events that transpired. "Exercising your constitutionally protected free speech rights is not a crime," said ADF lawyer Jonathan Scruggs. (28)
There also seems to be an effort to stifle the prayers of Christians in the United States. For example, a volunteer police chaplain at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has been told by his superiors that he would no longer be allowed to pray "in the name of Jesus" at public events. "I was told chaplains can no longer invoke the name of Jesus on government property," said chaplain Terry Sartain. He later went on to say, "I'm very sad about it. I'm a pastor and Jesus is the only thing I have to offer to bless people - his life and his person. It brings about a very real concern about where we are heading as a nation." (29)
Sadly, incidents of religious repression against Christians also sometimes occur in Canada. This became poignantly clear in May 2012 when a student at Forest Heights Community School in Nova Scotia was suspended for a week after he wore a t-shirt to school with a message that said, "Life is wasted without Jesus." The student was told that if he tried to wear the shirt to school again, he would be suspended for the remainder of the year. "I've been told by my principal that it is hate talk and is disrespectful to other people's religions. She said it (the shirt) cannot be in school because people would get offended," the student recounted. (30)
The efforts we are now seeing to restrain the Christian faith are likely only the first stirrings of persecution that will only intensify as we draw closer to the return of our Saviour. In Matthew 24:9-10 Jesus warns, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." Thankfully, we know that those who stand up for their Christian beliefs will be greatly rewarded in the end. For as Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Obama's Gay Pride Month!
On June 1, 2012, Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring the month of June to be "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." An excerpt of his proclamation is as follows, "The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story. From brave men and women who came out and spoke out, to union and faith leaders who rallied for equality, to activists and advocates who challenged unjust laws and marched on Washington, LGBT Americans and allies have achieved what once seemed inconceivable. This month, we reflect on their enduring legacy, celebrate the movement that has made progress possible, and recommit to securing the fullest blessings of freedom for all Americans." (31) Obama's proclamation is another indicator that the attitudes of the government and the general population have now shifted in favor of homosexuality. In addition to his proclamation, Obama also hosted a reception at the White House on June 15, 2012 to celebrate "Gay Pride Month." (32) In his remarks at the reception, Obama told those involved in homosexuality that they have "every right to push, loudly and forcefully, for equality." He also reiterated his support for same-sex marriage in his speech. "Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality but as I've indicated personally, Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue," Obama insisted. (33)
Furthermore, Barack Obama is seeking to enact legislation known as the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act," or ENDA, which could potentially force religious organizations to employ homosexuals. "Congress needs to pass that legislation, so that no American is ever fired simply for being gay or transgender," Obama said. However, Craig Parshall, the senior vice president of the National Religious Broadcasters Association did not hesitate to voice his displeasure over the measure. "ENDA would impose a stunningly heavy constitutional burden on religious organizations and would interfere with their ability to pursue their mission," Parshall stated. (34)
Other prominent figures in American government have also expressed their strong support for homosexuality, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary Hilda Solis of the Department of Labor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. (35) In a salute to gay members of the United States military, Panetta praised the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a policy which disallowed openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. "Now you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are," Panetta declared. (36) It was also announced that the Pentagon would host a gay pride celebration on June 26, 2012. (37)
As Christians, we understand that we cannot support the homosexual lifestyle. While Barack Obama may believe that the opinions of Americans are "still evolving," God does not change, and His opinions do not evolve. Sadly, many young people in the United States are now forsaking their Christian beliefs, and according to a recent news article, the prevalence and acceptance of homosexuality may be partly to blame for the falling away. "Younger Christians are turned off by attacks on gays and lesbians," declared Stephanie Mencimer, a writer at the liberal magazine known as Mother Jones. (38) Another writer at a journal known as Outside the Beltway by the name of James Joyner wrote, "Younger folks are simply more likely to figure that, if their religion is teaching them things that they believe to be silly - such as that homosexuality is wrong - then their religion must be silly too." (39) With so much disdain now being expressed for the Christian faith, it's no wonder that Jesus asked in Luke 18:8, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
The Crisis In Europe Continues!
Following the election in Greece on June 17, 2012, many were relieved that the conservative pro-austerity party, known as the New Democracy Party, won the election. As a result, it seems likely that Greece will continue to use the euro as its currency for the time being at least. However, the crisis in Greece is far from over. The European nation, which has now been in recession for five straight years, is seeking to renegotiate their bailout terms with the European Union in an effort to help alleviate the suffering of the people under the harsh austerity measures now in place. "The unity government's goal is to tackle the crisis, open the road to growth and revise terms of the bailout without putting at risk the country's European course, nor its euro zone membership," stated a policy document written by the new government. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that there will be no significant renegotiations of the bailout terms. (40)
Meanwhile, the European nation of Spain has now become the fourth nation in Europe to receive a bailout in order to prop up its ailing economy and rescue its failing banks. An ABC News report indicates that the bailout may be as much 100 billion euros or 125 billion dollars. (41) The crisis in Europe is already having an impact on the global economy. On June 21, 2012, it was reported that credit rating Moody's has downgraded their rating on fifteen financial institutions, including such large banks as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JPMorgan. Bank of America and Citigroup now have a credit rating of only two notches above junk status. Exposure to the crisis in Europe was one of the reasons cited by Moody's for the rating downgrade. (42)
In closing, for those of us who continue to watch and pray as we await the return of our Saviour, we can see that this entire world is now on a collision course with sudden destruction. Thankfully, we do not have to go the same direction as the majority of the people now attempting to navigate their lives through these confusing days of turmoil. It is my hope and prayer that this newsletter will touch the hearts of as many people as possible and encourage everyone who reads it to draw closer to our Almighty God. Please accept my heartfelt thanks to all who so generously support this ministry. As always, if you have any prayers please feel welcomed to pass them on to us. Our intercessors always give each request individual attention as we seek God's guidance on your behalf. I'm also pleased to announce that I will be marrying my fiancée, Leah, in just a few weeks. We graciously ask that you would keep us in prayer as we start our life together and strive to wholly serve our God. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

01. The Daily Caller, May 21, 2012, By Reza Kahlili,
02. Ibid.
03. Yahoo News, June 1, 2012, By Ron Recinto,
04. CNS News, June 13, 2012, By Edwin Mora,
05. Russia Times, June 6, 2012, By Russia Times,
06. Yahoo News, June 12, 2012, By Dylan Stableford,
07. The Telegraph, June 20, 2012, By The Telegraph,
08. Ibid.
09. Associated Press, June 13, 2012, By Associated Press, Paris, France.
10. The Telegraph, June 13, 2012, By Amy Willis,
11. Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2012, By Los Angeles Times, Beirut, Lebanon.
12. Wikipedia,
13. United Nations Official Website,
14. Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2012, By Bettina Boxall,
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Terra Daily, June 11, 2012, By Staff Writers, Burnaby, Canada,
19. The Atlantic, June 7, 2012, By Alexander Abad-Santos,
20. Associated Press, June 19, 2012, By Joan Lowy, Washington, D.C.
21. The Huffington Post, May 29, 2012, By Melissa Jeltsen,
22. Associated Press, June 19, 2012, By Joan Lowy, Washington, D.C.
23. The Christian Science Monitor, June 16, 2012, By Brad Knickerbocker,
24. The Daily Mail. June 19, 2012, By Daily Mail Reporter,
25. Ibid.
26. Wisconsin State Journal, May 25, 2012, By Ed Treleven,
27. World Net Daily, May 13, 2012, By Bob Unruh,
28. Ibid.
29. Fox News, June 20, 2012, By Todd Starnes,
30. Fox News, May 4, 2012, By Todd Starnes,
31. Official Presidential Proclamation, June 1, 2012, By Barack Obama,
32. Associated Press, June 15, 2012, By Associated Press, Washington, D.C.
33. Christian Post, June 16, 2012, By Audrey Barrick,
34. Ibid.
35. Official White House Press Release, June 19, 2012, By Gautam Raghavan,
36. Associated Press, June 15, 2012, By Pauline Jelinek, Washington, D.C.
37. Ibid.
38. The Week, June 14, 2012, By The Week Editorial Staff,
39. Ibid.
40. Reuters News Service, June 22, 2012, By Lefteris Papadimas and Greg Roumeliotis, Athens, Greece.
41. Associated Press, June 9, 2012, By Daniel Woolls, Madrid, Spain.
42. CNN, June 21, 2012, By James O'Toole, New York, NY.

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The Tragedy of the Dumb Church | The Confident Christian

The Tragedy of the Dumb Church | The Confident Christian

6/28/12 at 12:20 AM 63 Comments

The Tragedy of the Dumb Church

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I have a friend who’s an experienced pastor, teacher, and Christian apologist. He’s very well educated, articulate, teaches in a way that hits the mark, and has a passion particularly for grounding young people in the faith during their high school and early college years.
Currently, he’s employed with Youth for Christ and a while back he felt a burden to try and help churches in our area do what he does best, which is equip youth to defend the Christian faith in the world and know what/why they believe. Because he’s developed a number of curriculums to use for such situations, he sent a letter to all the churches in our metropolitan area (which is quite a lot) explaining what he does, and offered to come to their church free of charge and conduct Christian apologetic training for their youth.
How many churches took him up on his offer?
Zero. None. Zilch.
Now, any Christian leader who doesn’t have their head in the sand knows how depressing the statistics are for young people who walk away from the faith in the late high school/early college years.[1] At times, I’ve had atheists toss such data in my face in an attempt to argue that people ‘smarten up’ when they get older, but that isn’t it at all.
The fact is some in this particular demographic leave the Church because they get talked out of a faith that they were never sure of in the first place. The storyline is sadly familiar.
Maybe a young person was brought up in a church. Or, maybe they weren’t and began to investigate Christianity on their own. Either way, sooner or later they begin to ask hard questions, good questions, questions that deserve solid answers. But they don’t get them. So, because they rightly need what they believe in their heart to connect with their mind, they disconnect from Christianity.
Why does this keep happening?
In short, it happens because much of the Church today is dumb. Don’t misunderstand me, I mean no disrespect when I use the term ‘dumb’. What I mean is that the Church is dumb in that they aren’t well educated in what they believe, fail miserably in fulfilling 1 Peter 3:15 that says all Christians should be prepared to give a reason for why they believe, and are woefully unable to handle any challenge to Christianity that comes from unbelievers or the cults.

The Age of the Dumb Church

Dr. R. C. Sproul has said many times that he believes we are living in the most un-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization. Over 30 years ago, former Lebanese ambassador to the United States, Charles Malik, said the following in his speech at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois: “I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough.”[2] 
Such statements made by Sproul, Malik, and others were not always heard in the Church. The fact is, the Church dominated intellectual thought and discourse for hundreds of years, producing such thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Edwards, and others. Such men had their opponents (the Church always will), but their detractors never ridiculed their brainpower because the Churchman’s intellectual prowess left no room for it.
But shortly after the era of Edwards, something changed. Gospel preachers like Charles Finney arose and replaced the intelligent presentation of the Gospel, which was backed by meaty Biblical exposition and solid philosophical rationale, with emotional appeals, questionable theology, personal anecdotes with humor, a celebrity-style leader, and engineered publicity.
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, in many seeker friendly or liberal churches today, the characteristics of Finney and his followers are played out each Lord’s Day with the end result being a church body unable to intellectually defend the faith they espouse.

Characteristics of the Dumb Church

How can you tell if your church exhibits traits that characterize a dumb church? Although not exhaustive, I offer these criteria that I believe help contribute to a church becoming ‘dumb’:
Where the church leadership is concerned:
  • Preaching is always topical and never expository. Selective topical series allow tough and deep theological subjects, as well as ‘controversial’ passages of Scripture, to be avoided with ease.
  • Although the church leaders offer strong external facing statements as to how they are a “Bible believing church”, the Bible is actually used and referenced very little in the sermons. Few quotations from Scripture are heard in a message, with the vast majority of all sermons consisting of personal rhetoric, humor, videos, and personal stories.
  • Biblical terms such as justification, reconciliation, sanctification, propitiation, etc., are avoided like the plague.
  • There is little to no instruction for new (or existing) believers on the core doctrines of the Christian faith, and no requirement for new believers to attend such instruction.
  • There is no continuous offering of apologetic training classes that are designed to train Christians in the evidences and defense of the faith, and little to no interest of the pastors in the subject area.
  • There is no easy way for the congregation to have tough questions answered by the lead pastors; such a thing is quietly ignored, discouraged or not practiced regularly.
  • Deep Bible study programs are either absent or deliberately pushed out in favor of more ‘relevant’ classes that deal with softer subject matters (e.g. money management).
  • Adult and children’s Bible studies before/after the main church service are either omitted or are second class citizens to “Community Groups” that seek to have members meet in each other’s homes during the week, where no oversight is given as to what is done or taught. These groups, where teaching is concerned, are run “hands off” where the church leadership is concerned.
  • There is a huge emphasis on relationship building and serving in areas of the church, but no similar importance placed on growing more Biblically and theologically literate.
  • The youth department has an unmistakable concentration on entertainment, games, social interaction, etc., vs. actual teaching of Christian doctrines.
  • The church either has no library or one that is not kept up to date.
  • There is either no staff member assigned specifically to church education, or it is assigned to an already overburdened associate pastor.
  • Doctrinal statements of the church are missing or are not prominently made available. If they exist, they do not address any controversial theological topics or make very vague statements concerning them.
Where the congregation is concerned:
  • The term “Christian apologetics” is completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of the members.
  • Most of the congregation has no knowledge of church history with the names of Polycarp, Martyr, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, Whitefield, Tyndale, and others being completely foreign to them.
  • Attendance of offered classes are very low compared to overall church attendance.

A Warning to the Dumb Church

God warns us in His Word about cultivating a dumb church. For example, chastising his readers, the writer of Hebrews offers this admonition against fostering a dumb church environment: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
When you have a dumb church, the writer of Hebrews says the outcome is a body of believers that is incapable of properly discerning good and evil. Slowly but surely, error and heresy creep in with no one being the wiser. The end result are churches championing teachings such as universalism, applauding homosexual marriage, and calling evil good and good evil.
My friend Greg continues to train young believers in apologetics, but he does so at the co-op school used by Christian homeschool families and at his home. To date, no church has yet taken him up on his generous offer to ground their youth in the Christian faith, which is very sad.
My hope and prayer is that such situations stop happening, that dumb churches become the exception rather than the rule, and that smart people who are asking good questions about the Christian faith get the answers they’re looking for from learned believers and pastors like the ones Jeremiah describes: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15).
Describing today’s current climate and the type of Christianity that’s needed to meet the challenge, apologist and author Ravi Zacharias said: “World leaders don’t have answers anymore. And I think America’s youth will rise up to the occasion . . . but it will have to be a passionate and thoughtful Christianity and not a mindless, emotive one that has no staying power.”[3] 
Some say such a thing is not need, but I disagree. One of the most haunting questions I’ve ever seen was on the back of my first church history textbook I got in seminary: “How can you live out your faith if you don’t understand it?” Anyone have a good answer?